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26 of 26 episodes seen
I have recently completed Final Fantasy IX (a PlayStation 1 game) and I had a lot of fun playing it and I really enjoyed the game. It has now become one of my favorite entries in the Final Fantasy franchise. I felt like watching a fun anime in response to finishing that game, and this one happens to be under the fantasy genre. That anime is… The Slayers.
This is the tale of Lina Inverse, a wandering sorceress and bandit-killer. She joins forces with roving swordsman Gourry Gabriev in what's supposed to be a quick union of convenience. Instead, an artifact that Lina "liberated" from a gang of thieves turns out to be the key to the resurrection of a demon lord. Urged on by the mysterious figure Rezo the Red Priest, the pair has no choice but to fight the dark lord and his servants, accumulating new allies and enemies along the way.
To be technical, The Slayers is a J.C. Staff production and as far as this anime goes, this anime does have the 90’s old school style. That should not discourage you from watching this one, it may be dated but for 1995, It was animated well for the most part. The Slayers looks good for its time and if you are into old-school anime. This one is a classic for a reason. However, for the time… Recycled animation is to be expected in this show, but there’s little recycling in the animation cels which can be seen as a good thing for this anime. Another nice thing is that even though this show does have those special scenes where there is dialogue in it such as Usagi’s transformation to Sailor Moon from, well...Sailor Moon. The Slayers has moments like those too especially with the spell chanting. Even though these are the moments that come with some animation recycling, those moments are nice to look at and like I said, they aren’t heavily recycled and I ‘ll leave it at that.
Now before I mention the music here, I do need to address something to avoid confusion. The composer is not meant to be confused with the influential and well-respected manga artist. The soundtrack to The Slayers is by (composer) Osamu Tezuka, and the music is not exactly memorable but it does fit the show. There are some memorable pieces that I did hear in the show,. However, there are two themes that are very catchy once you start watching The Slayers. The opening theme “Get Along” is really damn catchy, Kujikenai Kara! (I’ll Never Give Up!) also happens to be a damn catchy closing theme as well. These themes are both sung by Masami Ouki and Megumi Hayashibara. Masami Ouki would be also known for the opening theme of Revolutionary Girl Utena. Megumi Hayashibara on the other hand is a seiyu that does some anime openings, especially for all the openings of The Slayers franchise (or so I’ve looked up). The music might be the weakest aspect of The Slayers, but it isn’t a terrible soundtrack. There are just some tracks overused. I’ve seen a few anime where it contained not-so-well-used soundtracks and The Slayers does not have one of those “poorly utilized” soundtracks. So there’s a plus there.
When it comes down to voice acting. The Slayers may have some big names with its Japanese cast but the performances aren’t really A+ material. Megumi Hayashibara is fine in this show despite that she would be known for voicing Faye Valentine in Cowboy Bebop and unanimously famous for voicing Rei Ayanami. Those two roles I just said don’t feel like copies of Lina Inverse, and Hayashibara-san plays Lina appropriately. Yasunori Matsumoto is also alright as Gourry but I don’t have much to offer in terms of opinion with this guy’s voice. Hikaru Midorikawa is fine as Zelgadis, like Gourry… I don’t have any further comment about the voice, and I can say the same for Masami Suzuki as Amelia which I can only say…it is her only memorable role. A noteworthy extra is the late Daisuke Gori as Shabranigdo. Now, for the English Dub. I do find this interesting to talk about. Back in the 90’s, there were English Dubs that were just flat-out awful and unlistenable. The show was originally picked up by Central Park Media in the U.S. and their dubs tend to be pretty bad. This was because they were licensing and dubbing the shows under their name. In the case of The Slayers, this was a bit of a surprise. This might be stretching it, but the dub of Slayers may perhaps be the earliest of what I would label as a “Tolerable Dub”. Lisa Ortiz may sound over the top at times but Lina Inverse may perhaps be her most memorable role because she actually put some effort in the performance, and I like her voice in the show. Eric Stuart is a blast as Gourry considering he’s used for comedic relief, and yes… He also was the voice of Brock from the 4Kids version of Pokemon. I miss my childhood. Now with Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun, there are two voices on her. Joan Baker (who really didn’t leave much of an impression), and Veronica Taylor. Veronica Taylor would later end up voicing Amelia for the rest of the series whereas Joan Baker only voiced Amelia. Some of you Pokemon fans should know that Veronica Taylor was the original English voice of Ash Ketchum until 4Kids re-casted the character and a number of other characters as well. As for Amelia, her performance was okay in the show. I will say that this dub does contain a lot of lesser-known and inactive voice actors and voice actresses with the exception of some main lead roles, this includes Charles Rolfe and Peter Davis who both played Rezo the Red Priest and aren’t really involved in the anime industry anymore and… well, that’s pretty much it. This dub does contain two performances that are just flat-out bad in this show. First there’s Stacia Crawford as Sylphiel, and then there’s Daniel Cronin as Zelgadis. Stacia Crawford does stick around for Season 2, but Daniel Cronin did voice Zelgadis for 9 episodes but at some point after that… Central Park Media lost contact with him. They decided to re-cast Zelgadis and this would prove to be an improvement of the dub because Daniel Cronin was just terrible in the show, but he was replaced by none other than Crispin Freeman.
The Slayers also happens to be the first anime that Crispin Freeman got to work on, and this led to good times from there on. Crispin Freeman may have not been perfect with Zelgadis, but considering it was his first major role, I’ll give him a pass. He sounds much cooler in the role and it is by far the most memorable role in the dub. The Subtitled Version might be a little more listenable than the dub, but considering the show’s campiness… The dub wouldn’t hurt either. and guess what…The ADR director of this dub happens to be from Jim Malone who was responsible for the old-school Pokemon dub.
When characters are concerned. Lina Inverse has attitude and all. Gourry is funny and has a good heart despite his stupidity at times. Amelia can be a little annoying sometimes, and Zelgadis may have been cool. What most of these characters have in common is that they kind of feel the same since Day 1 but that is not to say that I hate these characters. I actually like them. Zelgadis’ backstory was quite intriguing and at the time I’m doing this review, I don’t know what happens beyond this season and if there is anything revealed about his past in later seasons, I will comment on that in a later review but for this one I won’t since I haven’t seen anything past this season. I know there isn’t much development going on with the characters in this show but considering there is more than one season, I guess I’ll just have to wait and see how the characters turn out in the later seasons.
As for the story, it is your typical episodic fare. There is a catch however. According to a source or two, The Slayers is a parody of the high fantasy genre which I guess adds up. The story of The Slayers in my opinion is the weakest aspect of the show. The show is watchable in its first ten episodes but after that, the show does slow down and feels like it is going nowhere. I advise you to be patient around the middle third of the show because the pacing is not like the first third. The last third is watchable but the story doesn’t really feel as plausible as the first third of this season. Without giving away spoilers, let’s just say what is seen in the first third could have been done in the last third and the stuff in the last third could have been done in the first third. This might be viewed as a deconstruction of the common “Three Act structure” but who knows… But since The Slayers is a parody of the high fantasy genre, I guess this was fitting to have the pattern like that but it doesn’t excuse some unplausible writing later on after the first third… Does this hurt the show… Hell no! The Slayers is definitely one of those shows that people can get into if they are interested. I really enjoyed this show, flaws and all… but in all honesty, I did feel that the story was a bit weak but I digress. I do commend Takashi Watanabe (the anime’s director) if he remained true to the source material. it is still a fun show and I look forward to reviewing to more Slayers material.
The Slayers was originally available by Central Park Media back in the 90’s but for a number of years… The Slayers is still available by Funimation. The Slayers light novel series was available by Tokyopop but they went under and there were only 8 volumes translated into English, so…good luck to anyone hoping for the rest to be brought here. The Slayers Special light novel series was available by Tokyopop and well… I guess that particular light novel series met with the same fate. A manga called Slayers Medieval Mayhem was available by CPM manga and it is out of print as well as another manga that CPM manga licensed called Super Explosive Demon Stories Slayers. Slayers Mangas such as Slayers Special, Slayers Knights of the Aqualord, Slayers Premium, Slayers Revolution, Slayers Legend, Slayers Evolution-R, and Slayers Light Magic were never brought stateside, light novel iterations such as Slayers x Orphen, Slayers Delicious, and Slayers Smash were also never brought stateside. However, even with a shit ton of Slayers material that was never released in America. The Slayers OVA’s such as Slayers Special and Slayers Excellent were released by ADV Films and they are currently out of print since ADV went under and its successor Sentai Filmworks has not rescued it from out of print. The same applies for Slayers: The Motion Picture, Slayers Return, Slayers Great, Slayers Gorgeous, and Slayers Premium since they were originally licensed by ADV Films. As for the main series…
Slayers Next, Slayers Try, Slayers Revolution, and Slayers Evolution-R are available by Funimation even though Slayers Next and Try were originally licensed by Central Media Park. Now all this supplemental material mentions have finally been said and done. I shall start wrapping up this review.
With everything said, The Slayers is an anime that has its flaws but can still be enjoyable regardless. The animation was mostly good for 90’s anime for the most part, the music is fitting but may not stand out for some with the exception of its catchy opening and closing themes. The characters might not be well written but I wish the story could have re-arranged some of its elements for a more plausible effect in the story. Despite the flaws that I find in The Slayers, My enjoyment outweighed my nitpicks.
I give The Slayers a 7.4 out of 10, it is GOOD!
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1 of 1 episodes seen
This may be pointless of me to review an OVA that is only 1 episode, but I don’t mind reviewing stuff related to an anime that I previously reviewed. With that said, here’s .Hack//GIFT.
Helba has created the Twilight Hot Springs for the heroes from the .hack game series and the heroes from the .hack//SIGN series. Now the characters race to see who finds it first, and to solve some mysterious player-killings.
To be technical, this is a Bee Train production and the drastically different art style and cartoony character designs are done on purpose with .Hack//GIFT. This special OVA was made after the game and it definitely feels like a “Thank You” note to those that bought the games and/or watched the anime. The art style does feel a little odd for my taste, but at the same time… It was intentional and considering that it is not mainly connected to the main series and made as a parody to .Hack//SIGN and the games. I don’t have anything negative to say about the animation.
The soundtrack by Yuki Kaijura is pretty much recycled and not even used lightly… So there’s that…
One thing that is interesting to note that this OVA does not have a dub, this is because there were some jokes that would get lost in translation if dubbed and would not make sense if a Dub were to be made of it. To be honest, this anime is non-canon compared to .Hack//SIGN and I guess this isn’t much of a problem.
The characters are fine… but everything to do with character development is not necessarily to talk about because of the nature of its OVA
The same applies for anything to do with plot. In the end, you aren’t really missing much if you give this OVA a pass, Unless you want to see a little nudity. In other words, take it or leave it.
.Hack//GIFT was available by Bandai Entertainment and it is currently out of print since Bandai went under. Even though .Hack//SIGN was picked up by Funimation, there’s a good chance this OVA may come with it, but who knows…
Since this is only 1 OVA and this was only 26 minutes long, I don’t have much to offer on this one but with everything said and done, .Hack//GIFT is a nice breath of fresh air compared to .Hack//SIGN. Because of its end result, all I can say is just take it or leave it.
I give .Hack//GIFT a 5.2 out of 10, it is AVERAGE!
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13 of 13 episodes seen
With every single passing year, technology seems to be advancing little by little. I happen to use the computer frequently, because I do most of my projects on the computers. Others are probably communicating with a source of electronics. Thanks to social networking, we are all connected.
Lain - Review #88.
Lain Iwakura appears to be an ordinary girl, with almost no experience or skill with computers. Yet the sudden suicide of a schoolmate, and a number of abnormal occurrences, intrigue Lain into the world of the Wired, where she gradually learns that nothing is what it seems to be... not even Lain herself.
To be technical, this is a Triangle Staff production and chances are you may have not heard of Triangle Staff if you’ve heavily researched a list of anime studios. Triangle Staff is no longer around since they ceased operations back in 2002. Despite that, Lain is rather interesting to talk about concerning its animation. First off, the show does recycle its animation at times but that’s only 5% of the show with the exception almost all the episodes starting off the same way visually before the episode title pops up. Another interesting thing about Lain is its brief use of live-action footage juxtapositioned with the animation..Even though Lain recycles its animation 5% of the time and that the show didn’t have a high budget. Lain still holds up today. That is because it seemed experimental with its visuals and some of the effects I see in Lain are implemented in a way that I really don’t see many other animes done like it. For its time, the animation was great. It may not look like the animation we see today and that’s understandable. For the most part. The animation is mostly great. An interesting thing to note about the animation is that the character designer of this anime Yoshitoshi ABe mentioned that he never read Manga as a child because it was off limits at his household, and this happened to be his first work in an anime even though he made a couple doujinshi before that, assuming he was an amateur to some degree, his first anime outing as a character designer with Serial Experiments Lain is astounding.
The music by Reichi Nakaido is an interesting topic concerning Lain as well… That is because Serial Experiments Lain is not a music-heavy show. 25% of the show has music and there does exist a soundtrack but the music choice is rather interesting considering technology is a prominent theme in Lain mixed in with Psychological and Philosophical intrigue. Serial Experiments Lain is the kind of anime that does not need music in the way that the anime norm was like back then and still is now. Moments of silence and certain electrical noises give Lain an eerie feel which was rather appropriate for this show. The soundtrack is also out of the norm too since the ideal genre for the show would be techno or electronic. Well, there’s a bit of that in the show, It does have guitar solos in some pieces as well. The show was portrayed out of the norm and the soundtrack fits. The highlight theme in Serial Experiments Lain is understandably the opening theme “Duvet”, which is by a British alternative (or Indie) band Boa. For an anime that is not in the norm, it stands out not only for being catchy, it also has an interesting blend. It sounds beautiful but the lyrics are a little depressing In the long run, it fits the show and the visuals compliment the theme too. The closing theme is okay I guess but I don't really have anything to say about it except the guitar sounds great in it. Overall, the soundtrack is unique and it fits the show.
A less interesting aspect to Lain is the voice acting, neither the Japanese or English speaking Casts have an all-star roster, but they still play their roles well that they are not really average. Kaori Shimizu is not a huge seiyu but she plays Lain quite well for the most part. Sho Hayami (Seiyu for Aizen from Bleach and Nicholas D. Wolfwood from Trigun) plays Eiri Masami and it’s not a bad performance, and I’ll leave it at that. Yoko Asada was decent as Alice. Ayako Kawasumi was not too bad with Mika Iwakura. Hell, they even have Joji Nakata as one of the Men in Black… Please forget I just brought that up. Now as for the English Dub of Lain, I must admit that the dub is a little off at times where the Japanese cast was rather good without sounding off for the entirety of the Japanese language track. However, I never said that I found the Dub unlistenable. In fact, it is not a bad dub in the long run, there is just some off moments… That’s all. In the dub, Bridget Hoffman’s portrayal of Lain is not bad in this show. Emilie Brown is decent as Alice but I don’t have much to say on that. Patricia Ja Lee is also decent as Mika Iwakura. A nice treat was Brianne Siddall as Taro. As for the Men in Black, they are played by Jamieson Price and Rob Bucholz who I haven’t heard from those guys in anime dubs these days. However, Eiri Masami is played by a big guy in the dub and that voice actor happens to be Kirk Thornton. Considering Masami’s personality, his voice fits and it was a pretty good performance for the most part. A nice bonus is Mary Elizabeth McGlynn playing as Lain’s NAVI (which is her computer). You can’t really go wrong with either version but I do think the Japanese version does have less off moments than the dub. Both language tracks in the long run are listenable.
The visuals in Lain are interesting, the soundtrack in Lain is interesting, the characters themselves are interesting but they are sadly the weakest factor of the show and the reason I say this is because of how they are utilized during its 13 episode run, or should I say how they played out in the long run. This anime focuses a great deal on Lain, Every other character feels like they are supporting characters. Honestly, this is not really a bad thing for Serial Experiments Lain, the problem with the characters is that they feel like they are not fully fleshed out. Lain on the other hand is an interesting case, and I actually liked Lain in this show. Other than that. The utilization of characters is unique and not bad, it’s just that most of them are fleshed out as they could have been.
The one thing that might turn off some people from this anime is the story. The one thing you should know before tackling this anime is that you really have to pay attention while watching or you will miss some hints because Serial Experiments Lain requires you to think because it raises so many damn questions. It also has a unique and unconventional narrative that not many anime have done, which is fine because with the kind of narrative that this anime has, it makes sense. Yasuyuki Ueda said one time that he intended to make the Japanese and American audiences to have different opinions towards this series. But it turned out that they had similar views. But the intention of Serial Experiments Lain is still there. This is an anime that raises questions and lets you form your own interpretation. I perceived this anime to be an artsy one at that because of its use of some live-action. Whether this technique was used to be experimental or to convey its themes of reality. It’s still there without feeling out of place. There are two things that I was fascinated and The first thing is how relevant that Serial Experiments Lain is today. Almost everyone I know has some degree of dependence on technology. Whether it be computers, or phones for communication. I for one use the computer on a daily basis to research things, write reviews, and other things like playing video games at my own leisure. Communication happened to be a theme in this show and the Wired which is not really today’s internet at all still has some relatable features that has to do with communicating through social network with some form of technology, and computers were not the only technology used for social reasons, phones were used too in the show. Eerily enough, the “Present Day, Present Time” quote you hear in the opening sure makes a literal point as of today. The second thing that fascinated me about Lain was its religious tones. Now, this second point I’m making is also based on my own interpretation due to the nature of Serial Experiments Lain. I was a little surprised about this anime’s use of religious symbolism, It may have been a little odd at first but it does serve its purpose later on. I noticed there were a few nods to Christian symbolism and I found it to be a nice touch, and I found it somewhat fascinating. Now this anime was 3 years after Neon Genesis Evangelion came around and Evangelion also used Christian symbolism too but I did find it a nice touch but to a certain degree. I felt the symbolism was used for stylistic purposes for the most part. Lain uses this symbolism with some artistic expression which is technically stylistic, but the symbolism is used for the show’s substance too. However, the thing that anyone can agree on regarding Serial Experiments Lain is that it is an avant-garde anime. It is an experimental anime at its core, and not only was it experimental, it raises a lot of questions but it doesn’t give definite answers, it does however leave room for interpretation which was done that way intentionally. This anime was meant to make viewers come up with their own conclusions, and some people are wired differently and there’s bound to be differences in regards to individual interpretations. This is not a clusterfuck of an anime, it’s a Mindfuck anime. The late Ryutaro Nakamura really left a landmark anime that stands out to some degree in the realm of cyberpunk. It is intriguing science-fiction despite some bizarre moments. If you’re interested in checking this anime out. It’s not too long and even though you might not understand everything in this anime. It is still a unique series.
Serial Experiments Lain was available by Geneon originally, Geneon did go under and Lain was out of print, that is until it got rescued and re-licensed by Funimation in which Serial Experiments Lain is available by Funimation. A video game of Lain for the Sony Playstation never made it overseas.
With everything said, Serial Experiments Lain is an avant-garde anime that holds up with its animation despite some minor recycling. It also chooses to have less emphasis in music, and focuses heavily on its main protagonist even though most characters are not fully fleshed out, but they are utilized well to a certain degree. It does well for being unique and out of the norm with its unconventional narrative, its mind-boggling questions, and its direction leaving plenty of room for interpretation. Questions such as… Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? caught in a landslide, no escape from reality.
I give Serial Experiments Lain an 8.5 out of 10, it is VERY GOOD!
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4 of 4 episodes seen
I looked into the .Hack video games and I really couldn’t get interested in playing them…However there was something else that came along with it… here’s .Hack//Liminality
In the year 2007, the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) known as 'The World' was released in the US and became insanely popular, spreading worldwide and reaching up to 20 million players. One day, a mysterious phenomenon occurs where all the monsters in the game become increasingly powerful and harbour unheard of abilities. Along with this, players are unable to make any progress with their characters. Naturally, these occurrences render The World rather unplayable, so a player who goes by the name of Kite decides to get to the bottom of it.
To be technical, this is a Bee Train production and like I said before with my .Hack//SIGN review about Bee Train. They have done some decent works since the studio’s foundation to today. There is one thing that is completely different from .Hack//SIGN and that is the character designs. Yoshiyuki Sadamoto did not do the character designs for this 4-part OVA series, instead we have Toshiya Washida, who usually does Key animations for the most part in his career. For this short OVA series, I do not like the character designs in this one, and it’s not because Yoshiyuki Sadamoto did not do the character designs. It’s because some of the design choices look a little awkward on some characters. At least some non-character designs are drawn in well… and that’s one of the things that surprisingly stand out in LIMINALITY unlike SIGN. When I reviewed .Hack//SIGN, I did rant about how the animation hardly moves in some parts… Well, Liminality is an upgrade on that. For what this anime is… The animation is decent in this anime. The artwork and visuals are also not bad either. The only real problem I had with the animation is the openings. The openings used clips from each part of the .Hack video games. It’s a unique approach but I didn’t care for those openings that much. Anyway, When I saw .Hack//SIGN, I found myself bored because .Hack/SIGN hardly moved when it comes to animation. On the other hand, .Hack//Liminality is also boring as well but not because of the animation. The animation here is actually decent… a lot more decent than .Hack//SIGN with the expection of a different character designer.
The music by Yuki Kaijura may have been memorable in .Hack//SIGN and I do commend her for having a different vibe for this anime’s soundtrack considering that it’s placed in the real world and not in “The World”. However, the soundtrack is kind of forgettable but it fits in the show somehow...I really don’t have much to comment about the soundtrack of .Hack//Liminality. The opening themes are okay I guess but I find them forgettable because the opening and closing themes aren’t really talked about these days and for a 4-part OVA series. I guess that is to be expected. The soundtrack might not be some of Kaijura-san’s best work and that is totally fine… At least the soundtrack was somewhat decent.
When voice acting is concerned. I don’t think either casting between Sub and Dub are worth saying a mouthful over because of the length of .Hack//Liminality. Mabashi Ebara, Sanae Kobayashi, Saeko Chiba, and Aya Hisakawa are competent seiyus but since they are playing characters that are rather forgettable. The voice acting alone does not save the show. I could say the same with its English Dub and the dub has a competent voice cast. Some big names, some unknowns. Jamieson Price, Michelle Ruff, and Sherry Lynn do play their roles fine but… The voice acting doesn’t do the show justice. That’s all I can say about the voice acting.
If there is one weak aspect of .Hack//Liminality, it is the characters. For something thats around 2 and a half hours consisting of 4 OVA’s and part of an Anime franchise that these characters are only in...There’s bound to be some issues. I gave the characters a chance but… I found them forgettable…Even with 4 OVA’s, The only relevant character is Junichiro because of the fact that he is the creator of "The World" other than that, The characters were still forgettable. That’s all I can really say about the characters.
Do you want to know something? Assuming you were aware that .Hack//Liminality was released alongside the 4 part .Hack Video games. Each of these episodes came with each part of the game. 4 games and 4 OVA episodes. Also, these OVA’s are in the point of view of the real world and not in “The World”. Would you like to know what would be a great idea? Having the point of view focused on the real life counterparts of the characters in the 4 part video game… This OVA did come with the 4-part .hack games anyway. What does Junichiro Tokuoka, Mai Minase, Yuki Aihara, and Kyoko Tohno have to do with the games? Pretty much nothing… To stress this even further, the characters that you will see in this OVA do not appear anywhere else unless there’s cameos elsewhere. .Hack//SIGN was an interesting anime even in its slowness. The .hack video games felt normally paced but the game series was considered to be repetitive at times and even though I was looking into the story of the games… The games’ story felt boring at times. THIS ANIME ON THE OTHER HAND FELT POINTLESS. Why? The 4-part video games of .hack were inbetween .Hack//SIGN’s chronology…Liminality is within the .hack video games. We have one .hack entry within another .Hack entry within the .hack entry that started it all. The games were near the end of .Hack//SIGN’s chronology which is fine I guess. What’s not fine is that the video game’s OVA companion has little connection to the fucking game to begin with. When I heard that Liminality was taking place during the video games and that the real world was the point of view it was focused on, I thought this would deal with the real-life counterparts of Kite, Black Rose, and others… The fact that the main characters in Liminality have no connection to the video games, it kind of makes .Hack//Liminality pointless… And you know what else is a problem with .Hack//Liminality, it feels like .Hack//SIGN… The show is filled with dialogue and intrigue...The games are different which is understandable. .Hack//Liminality is unacceptable for not parallelling the OVA to the games between characters we know in “The World” and their real-life counterparts.
.Hack//Liminality was released alongside .Hack//Infection, .Hack//Mutation, .Hack//Outbreak, and .Hack//Quarantine… There has not been a re-release since and the games were for the PlayStation 2. That being said, .Hack//Liminality is out of print.
With everything said, .Hack//Liminality was conceived to be a companion to the video games that it was released with concerning that the point of view is in the real world during the events of the video games. this OVA of .Hack fails due to a slow pace, and forgettable characters who only are involved in this .Hack entry. Yuki Kaijura’s soundtrack is decent, and the animation is also decent despite the different character designs in this .Hack entry to .Hack//SIGN. If you like the games… Feel free to watch this one since they technically go together. if you were not fond of the games… This doesn’t do the games justice.
I give .Hack//Liminality a 3.1 out of 10. it is WEAK!
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96 of 96 chapters read
In March 12, 2012. I posted my first Anime review which was on the Anime series Cowboy Bebop. I have been posting Anime Reviews since for two years. Now that I’ve been reviewing Anime for that long, I felt it was time for me to start reviewing Manga. Let’s face it, not every Manga gets an Anime adaptation, and some Anime adaptations do deviate from the Manga they are adapting from. There are even some Mangas that are adapted from Anime series as well… This Manga series I’m about to review isn’t really an adaptation to an Anime. My first Manga review is the manga version of what happens to be my gateway anime. That being said, here’s my first Manga review which is Yoshiyuki Sadamoto’s Neon Genesis Evangelion
In 2000 A.D., a top-secret encounter between an Antarctic expedition and an entity known as an 'Angel' triggered a global catastrophe. It is the year 2015 and the Angels have returned. Shinji Ikari, a 14-year-old child of the new Earth, is summoned by his father Gendo to an underground city underneath Tokyo-3, where the United Nations research organization known as NERV is stationed. To match the fearsome power of the Angels, NERV has constructed a biomechanical weapon known as 'Evangelion',
To be technical… The art and story of The manga version to Neon Genesis Evangelion is by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto. The Manga may have started in 1994 but it did start roughly at the same time the anime was starting its production. This is why I am not calling this a manga adaptation. I strongly view it as the Manga version of Evangelion. The manga version was made to generate popularity for the upcoming anime. I am not sure what the end result was because the anime was such a huge deal back then at the time. It was popular in Japan, and it definitely was a big deal for American Anime fans. Whatever the case. The anime was a commercial success, but the manga was also a success as well. For the entire run of 14 Volumes consisting of 96 chapters. The manga version of Evangelion looks very good as its own standalone creation. It does have some hiccups and miniscule inconsistencies but it does not ruin the experience at all. Allow me to bring up the Evangelion anime. The major technical flaw in that show was it’s recycling of certain animation cels because of the show’s budget. The Manga version never has that problem. It is an advantage to the Evangelion manga, but at the same time… I understand that the technical flaw I just mentioned over the Evangelion anime were overlooked for that reason. In the long run (and I’ll say it again). It looks very good as it’s own standalone creation.
Another thing that is actually a nice breath of fresh air is how the characters are presented in the Evangelion manga. If you’ve seen the anime, Shinji may have gotten mixed reactions out of viewers and I get it. However...there are monologues that come up often in the Manga version. This allows the person that is reading the manga to understand the trials, complication, and struggle that these characters are going through. Granted, the anime does this too at times, but I notice this a lot more in the Manga. I never once found it as overkill. These monologues come in at the right time. The portrayal of Shinji is very identical to the Anime with some significant differences. Rei does develop a little more than in the anime, but not much is different. Asuka’s background is different but like Rei, not much is different from the Anime. Misato is nearly identical than the Anime with some differences with how the story is portrayed. Same with Ritsuko. Toji on the other hand was handled differently and that’s the only thing I’ll say on him. Kaji isn’t different from the anime except that he was given a backstory. Also, Remember Kaworu, who was in only one episode of the anime? Well, his timing and portrayal plays out differently than the anime. I have no complaints on this. Hell, even Gendo Ikari is played out a little different and I took a liking to that. Also, let’s not forget that penguin Pen-Pen… He’s even given a brief backstory of where he came from that led him into the series, despite his reduced appearance in the Manga, it was a little interesting to know about his past. As far as characters go, I am liking how they are portrayed in the Manga a little more than the anime.
Which leads me to the story as a whole. I could say there’s some room for argument in regards to the authorship of the Evangelion Manga, 90% of the manga is based off the anime, and it does reflect on elements that came from Hideaki Anno’s vision. Anno-san did work with Sadamoto-san on starting the manga and since I have not heard a single complaint regarding this. I guess the authorship of the Evangelion Manga isn’t really a big deal. Even though 90% of the manga is based off the anime. The direction of the manga is not really the same like the anime. There are some significant plot changes and there are even little miniscule differences which may be hard to tell unless you watch the anime and read the manga side by side. Personally, I like how the Manga plays out. It took out the filler that the anime had at a few episodes. It had more in-depth insights on characters, and the changes that Sadamoto-san made compared to the anime are welcoming because for the most part, certain events and/or developments didn’t feel forced whereas the anime did due to technical constraints. Sadmoto-san fixed some areas that are kinda broken. As much as I liked the anime, The Evangelion is my favorite version of the Evangelion franchise. God is in His Heaven, All’s Right With The World. Amen!
The manga to Neon Genesis Evangelion is available by Viz Media, the manga spinoffs “Angelic Days” and “The Shinji Ikari Raising Project” are also available by Viz Media. The Evangelion Anime was available by ADV Films until they went under, it was re-licensed by Section23 but no re-release has been made since.
With everything said, the Neon Genesis Evangelion manga may be 90% true to the anime but Yoshiyuki Sadamoto took some liberties with the changes that were made (notable or small) that can be seen as acceptable, reasonable, and welcoming. If you liked the Evangelion Anime. I strongly recommend you to give the Evangelion Manga a try. It will likely not disappoint. I consider it to be a Masterpiece of a Manga series.
I give Yoshiyuki Sadamoto’s Neon Genesis Evangelion a 9.6 out of 10, it is EXCELLENT!
Feel free to leave a comment, and don’t run away.
26 of 26 episodes seen
In the real world, I enjoy watching anime, in “The World”... I really don’t want to talk about this.
Welcome to The World
In the near future, there is a popular virtual reality online role playing game, characters try to play out the goals they set for entertainment and also passing of time. It is called “The World” and it is an RPG with a setting of monsters, player characters and dungeons. Tsukasa is a detached and introverted player and individual that has a number of mysteries about his player character. Many weird events surround Tsukasa and his involvement in a rare item called 'The Key Of The Twilight' and this sparks Tsukasa's meetings with different online characters and the befriending of their real life counterparts; All without ever meeting face to face in reality. What is strange about Tsukasa is that he can't seem to log out of The World. Subaru and Silver Knight of The Crimson Knights continue to look for proof of why Tsukasa can not log out or the existance of The Key Of The Twilight. Meanwhile Tsukasa befriends Bear, Mimiru, and BT and they try to help him understand who he really is and how he can come back to the real world.
To be technical, .Hack//SIGN is a Bee Train production and this studio has done some decent works since .Hack//SIGN but their production resume isn’t top notch and it doesn’t have to be. Just because I review anime doesn’t mean that I would perceive a show’s success or downfall would determine what studio it is from. I have seen some animes from Studio GONZO and my conclusion so far is that even though their CG animation looks terrible, not every single anime made by them is bad. Bee Train is not a big name and .Hack//SIGN is a notable anime from them. I hate to state the obvious, but you probably heard it from someone… somewhere. This is a review, what do you expect? The animation is the most brought up factor of this show. It’s character designs and artwork are great in .Hack//SIGN. This one has a major problem though… There are times where it hardly ever moves. .Hack//SIGN was known to be a dialogue heavy show. This is one of those “talking head” animes where pretty much most of the show is full of conversations. This is the show’s double-edged sword and I will get to that later in this review. I will say that it was nice to see the animation improve over time, even though it can be obvious to notice around the last few episodes. The animation looks good, it is a little boring to look at because it hardly moves at times.
If there is one thing that .Hack//SIGN excels in is its soundtrack. In my opinion, This soundtrack has some of Yuki Kaijura’s best work. She is no Yoko Kanno, even though she is an amazing music composer, Yuki Kaijura is also a good composer. With the way the soundtrack is composed, it is the biggest strength of .Hack//SIGN. Hell, The opening theme song is really damn catchy, the closing song is a nice calm theme which I can tell the contrast this show is going for. First off, the opening has a very catchy beat and extremely exciting and energetic, the closing theme is calm and peaceful, there’s a bit of contrast there. Secondly, the show’s opening is misleading and it fits… The show led me to think that this would be an exciting series with a virtual video game setting with some fantasy in it and the show got that right. The show wasn’t as exciting as I thought it could be. Regardless of the situation. The opening kicks ass, and the closing theme is not bad either. There are some calm pieces as well as some ominous ones. The use of the themes used is pitch-perfect as most as it can get. Kaijura-san is well known because of her work in .Hack//SIGN and I look forward to hearing more of her work for years to come as well as animes I have not seen yet a few years since .Hack//SIGN. .
When voice acting is concerned. The Japanese cast has some good choices. Mitsuki Saiga is terrific as Tsukasa. For the majority of the show, I thought Tsukasa was voiced by Megumi Ogata. I say this because when I was watching this anime subbed, Tsukasa sounded a lot like Shinji Ikari (The original Japanese voice of course). I later looked this up and found out it’s a completely different person. Long story short, the performance is terrific. Megumi Toyoguchi fits as Mimiru. Kazuhiro Nakata also fits as Bear. Akiko Hiramatsu is also good as BT and Kaori Nazuka is great as Subaru. A Noteworthy extra in the subbed version is Shinichiro Miki as Crim which he did alright in this one. I won’t drag too long about the subbed version of .Hack//SIGN any longer The casting is mostly pretty good. As for the English Dub. Brianne Siddall is also terrific as Tsukasa and it is one of her most recognizable roles, which is saying a lot considering what the show mostly consists of. Mimiru also has an interesting casting choice for the dub, she happens to be voiced by voice actress Amanda Winn-Lee. Does Rei Ayanami from Neon Genesis Evangelion ring a bell? Well, she is mostly known for being the original English voice of Rei Ayanami and she plays a character who is the complete opposite in personality than Rei Ayanami, and Amanda Winn-Lee’s portrayal of Mimiru is fitting. Paul Mercier is also memorable as Bear. Donna Rawlings is alright as BT even though she hasn’t had many roles and did not really stick around in the industry since. hmm, oh well! Kim Mai Guest is great as Subaru, and Dave Wittenberg has a lot of fun playing Sora here. Noteworthy extras of the dub include Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Helba, do I need to say anymore about this voice actress? No, not really. It’s freaking Mary Elizabeth McGlynn! Crispin Freeman as Balmung. Doug Rye as Silver Knight despite he hasn’t voice acted much before or since, but his voice clicks with the character, and Lex Lang as Crim. Why am I going to some length in talking about both casts. It’s because both versions have some good casting. The Japanese cast is mostly great, The English dub cast is great too but there are a few hiccups but it is a miniscule issue with the dub. The dub performances may feel a little different with the original intent with some characters but it is a solid dub none the less.
There is one thing interesting about .Hack//SIGN and that would be its characters. Tsukasa is the main protagonist of this anime and… I’ll get to him later. Mimiru does have a bit of an attitude but she plays her part alright, she turned out to be a good friend to Tsukasa. Bear is likeable in the show and he is likeable in the long run as well as interesting, even though his tattoo design is kind of similar to William Wallace from Braveheart (For the most part)
BT is also an interesting character, but I really don’t have much to say about her, she is just as interesting as Bear and she has differences too compared to other characters. Subaru is not a bad character and there is an interesting side to her but because it goes into spoiler territory, I can’t say why she’s interesting, but she is, even though she has the Silver Knight around her a lot. Sora is bit annoying at first but there is a reason for that… again, because of spoiler territory… I can’t say why, but he’s part of the character balance. There’s got to be a character that either screws things up or is annoying. Just saying. For a show that’s dialogue heavy, the characters do leave some impression due to the fact that this show somehow has character development. It would be cheating to say that Tsukasa did not develop that much. That would be an understatement. Tsukasa may not fare well for some because of his depressive state of mind. I will say that when this anime comes full circle, Tsukasa has a little interesting feature about him. Tsukasa does develop, I would have favored Tsukasa a lot if this anime didn’t take its slow ass time in its running time of 28 episodes
My major problem in .Hack//SIGN is its pacing. It…is…so…damn… SLOW. With 26 episodes, including two extra ones. This show is full of dialogue. Dialogue-heavy shows are not necessarily a bad thing. Like I said earlier, it hardly moves at times. The show’s dialogue is part of .Hack//SIGN’s slow pacing and this is the biggest flaw with the show. If this anime were half as long, I would welcome this anime as a dialogue heavy series. But 26 episodes, with 2 extra ones in which counts up to 28 episodes, it does exceed my limits. Even with 28 episodes total of dialogue heavy material, the show is actually interesting with its themes of escapism and anxiety. You could say that the psychological aspect can be compared to Neon Genesis Evangelion. Both main leads tend to have anxiety issues as well as both of them with that vibe of depression for the majority of the series. The Evangelion franchise really made it clear to the viewer while .Hack//SIGN keeps it a mystery for quite a while. The Evangelion franchise makes it clear that it is a series that gives room for character study to the viewer, so does .Hack//SIGN. Here’s a fun fact. Both animes have the same character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto. So, what do I think of .Hack//SIGN as a whole. I’m afraid this review from here on out will be completely subjective because .Hack//SIGN is an anime with a love/hate reception after its completion. The story is slow as hell but it does devote its time to the characters. I will say that the show is thought-provoking, but I feel it is also quite pretentious at the same time. For example, the red herring moments where the viewer is mislead at first but the twists that do come in don’t really answer much. I also feel that the real world scenes could’ve had more screentime than the final result of this anime as a whole. Also, I felt that the 26th Episode could’ve ended the series, but NOPE!. When the chronology of the .hack franchise is concerned. There are 4 games that follow the 26th episode, a 4-part series simply titled “.Hack” for the PlayStation 2. were made to continue the storyline of the anime. The games at least have more action than the anime did, but the game series continuation is a little boring to me and not even the main cast is shown much in the game either. I would be contempt if the video game series concluded the story after .Hack//SIGN, however… THERE WAS A LITTLE MORE LEFT TO TELL. Two extra episodes were made after the 26th Episode. One being “Intermezzo” where Tsukasa is not even in it which in my opinion felt “filler-ish”, and the second one called “Unison” that really concludes the .Hack//SIGN anime. If you didn’t play or watch the games and jumped into the “final” episode, you will be somewhat confused. We have Episodes 1 through 26, then the 4-part .Hack games as well as the Liminality OVA’s with it, and then the final two episodes. Wanna know why I felt it should’ve ended after Episode 26? With all due respect to the .Hack fans it does have what seemed to be an ending (albeit oddly rushed). the games take it from there (plus the OVA’s) The show resumes after with two extra episodes which (in my honest opinion) FEELS POINTLESS. Call me crazy if you’d like, but this is probably why .Hack//SIGN has gotten the love/hate reputation. I still think it’s interesting, but I think it could’ve answered some confusion later on. I will say that it is good that this show doesn’t hold your hand. This is a show where the viewer has to really pay attention and it does require some thinking to do as well. It is a unique anime, but I can’t say I enjoyed it.
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.Hack//SIGN was available by Bandai Entertainment. It was out of print after Bandai went under but it has been rescued and re-licensed by Funimation. The 4-part .Hack video games (Infection, Mutation, Outbreak, and Quarantine) were available for the PlayStation 2, a PlayStation Network download re-release has not been made for these games and it doesn’t look like it will. The .Hack//Liminality OVA's are under the same situation as .Hack//SIGN as well as its parody .Hack//GIFT
WIth all that said, .Hack//SIGN is a unique series with psychological intrigue as well as some series. It is a slow series and there are some stuff that will make sense along the way. However, not all questions are answered. The soundtrack by Yuki Kaijura is the show’s saving grace and is definitely worth listening to outside of this anime. The artwork is also good-looking, but unfortunately the animation hardly moves and does look stale. The character development is great but the layout of the plot felt awkward to me considering it led into a 4-part game series which also leads to two more episodes of the anime set after the games which I felt didn’t really add much to the story. I can agree this is a love/hate anime and that’s where I draw the line with this one.
I give .Hack//SIGN a 5.1 out of 10, it is AVERAGE!
Feel free to leave a comment, now if you’ll excuse me… I’ll be logging out.
Lain read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
First of May, First of May. Outdoor... *Knock knock knock knock*… *knock knock knock knock*
Oh F***! Berserk: The Golden Age Arc III - The Advent… has come.
Guts and the rest of the Band of the Hawk join forces once again to try to rescue Griffith from the depths of the dungeon of Midland. This is just the beginning of the end of the Golden Age
Well, that was a short synopsis and let me tell you… If I said anymore, it will start going into spoiler territory. I am only giving you the basic premise of how things will start for the sake of viewer interest. To be technical, this third and final part of the Golden Arc movies is a Studio 4°C production and I’ll be damned. The animation has improved greatly this time around. There really isn’t a whole lot of CG animation in this one and I’m glad to not see much of it. However, there are some CG scenes that still feels a little out of place but that’s only in a few scenes. Most of the time, the animation is shown the way it should be. However, the animation isn’t perfect in this one and again… it’s because the CG animation sticks out like a sore thumb.
The music by Shiro Sagisu once again compliments the movies well. This time, the darker tones in the soundtrack really suit the movie well considering what is shown in the movie. I would like to say more about the soundtrack for the third movie but I pretty much already said what I could about Sagisu-san. Because Susumu Hirasawa only did the opening for the Golden Age movies, I had to explain what I thought about the different composer during my first review. The second film and this one keep the track record going without changing its tone compleletly except for this one with a more darker tone in the music which is outstanding. Hirasawa-san, I like your stuff, but I think Shiro Sagisu has a more fitting soundtrack when it comes to Berserk.
In regards to voice acting, the Japanese cast feels the same. It’s not an impressive cast in the long run in the Golden Age movies so… I have nothing to add in regards to the Japanese cast. The English dub for the Golden Age movies is at its peak and it goes all out in this one. That’s all I can say about both casts.
When it comes to characters, I am afraid I cannot say much this time around but I would like to say one thing. It is about damn time that The Skull Knight is seen in Anime form.
Now when it comes to story, this is the last third of the Golden Age arc being told which makes it very difficult to revisit. I’ve read the manga of this arc, and I’ve seen the original anime. This last third is difficult for some to go through and I can understand why. If there’s one thing I wanted to save just for this review. It is that I do find the pacing in the first movie to be pretty bad in the rushed sense while the second movie was evenly paced even with a 90 minute runtime. This movie is around 15 minutes longer than the second film and the pacing is not bad. Why am I pointing this out? it’s because the character development is affected just a little bit. Guts, Casca and Griffith are developed well for the most part, but my problem lies with the rest of the Band of the Hawk. There was enough time in the original anime and even in the manga to get attached to these guys. In the movies, it doesn’t really have that same effect. My big complaint with the development is that Guts and Casca’s backstories were severely reduced, and here’s the Hawk-tease. Griffith’s supposed backstory is closer to the source material than Guts and Casca’s backstories yet his backstory IS REDUCED TO SOME EXTENT. That is a bunch of birdshit. This is the one thing that disappoints me about the movies but the movies still hold up for the most part. Here’s my little problem with the Golden Age movies as a whole. Toshiyuji Kubooka’s directing. Granted, movie’s tend to have lesser screentime than shows… but there are times where scenes are rushed after specific scenes. The thing is… The first movie’s rushed pacing could’ve been fixed if the scenes didn’t feel rushed at certain moments. The second and third movie don’t do this as much but there are some scenes that could’ve been built up much better like the original anime did. In comparison to the original anime, The Golden Age movies do have pacing problems and there is some stuff still left out that could’ve been shown in the movies. But alas, that isn’t the case. If there is one thing this movie did do, it is that it shows that the Berserk movies has improved in time. Sure the first movie is hit and miss with its unpleasant mix of 3D animation and 2D animation and pacing issues and the second movie being more watchable even though some scenes had that distracting 3D animation. This third movie doesn’t use as much 3D animation on character figures this time around as the last two movies did and that’s where this third movie really improved on. There has been word from Kubooka-san a while back that there will be more after this, and I can hope that it won’t disappoint after Studio 4°C improved from the movie series’ progression. These Berserk movies do have their flaws but then again… The original anime had some flaws too… If neither works for you, there’s always the juggernaut manga which is the source material of Berserk.
Berserk: The Golden Age Arc III - The Advent is available by Viz Media, The manga by Kentaro Miura is available by Dark Horse.
With all that said, Berserk: The Golden Age Arc III - The Advent is a more-improved film than the last two. It doesn’t have as much pacing issues, the soundtrack is still good, the characters are still mostly good, the story is still memorable in its last third, but the biggest improvement is the animation which looked good for the most part where the last two movie had distracting CG animation that this third movie doesn’t use as much. It still isn’t perfect, but the third and final Golden Age movie of Berserk leaves me with hopes that the next movie will look even better. If it happens that is…
I give Berserk: The Golden Age Arc III - The Advent a 9.1 out of 10. it is EXCELLENT!
Feel free to leave a comment, and celebrate Spring with a crazy little thing called… F****** Outside. And yes, I like AMV Hell. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
The second part of a trilogy is often the most important piece of any trilogy. Man, does a lot happen in this one. That being Berserk: The Golden Age Arc II - The Battle for Doldrey
The Band of the Hawk participates in the Midland war campaign. During the campaign on the bloody battlefield, they conquer and win decisive victories that lead them to Doldrey, an old fortress that will decide the outcome of the war. Amid all this carnage and brutality, Griffith’s words still resonate in Guts´ mind and and he contimplates what he should do once this conflict is over.
To be technical, this second part of Berserk’s Golden Age movie trilogy is a Studio 4°C production and the previous film suffered with inconsistent use of CG animation that looked awful with the 2D animation that looked really good. This time, the CG animation is still there but not as heavily used. There are some CG moments here and there and I am starting to see why the CG animation is being used in these movies. It is often used during the army battle sequences. This is to save money with the animation budget, however with a series like Berserk, it would have been nice if another studio (especially one that has gotten well-recognized) could handle it instead, but I digress. This is a very difficult manga to adapt into an anime, and the animation is starting to show improvement but it isn’t perfect.
The music by Shiro Sagisu continues to compliment the soundtrack extremely well and I have no further comment for this particular review, but I could have something more to offer when I go over the third Berserk movie.
As for the Japanese cast, I don’t have much to say since the quality of voice acting is the same as the first movie. As with the English dub, it’s doing great so far in these movies. It continues to impress me.
Now that I’ve seen this second part, I can point out that this is where the characters really shine in this film as well as the third movie (which I will review next) Guts is becoming more three-dimensional in this one, Casca is becoming very likeable, and Griffith really is interesting in this movie too. The rest of the Band of the Hawk are just as watchable but they support the main three leads pretty well for the most part.
In the previous movie, the length of the first movie was pretty short. This time, it’s around 1 hour and 30 minutes. The story’s pacing is a little better this time around but there are some moments from the original anime and even in the manga that I was a little disappointed that were left out. Casca’s backstory is reduced just like Guts, and the Queen of Midland’s role was severely reduced. Not to mention, a character known as Minister Foss has no part in these movies. Hell, Griffith’s apparent assassination attempt by poison was not put into this movie during a specific moment in the story. It is a little spoilerish, but I’m only comparing what was in before and was excluded in the movie. If this is to save time, I understand. at the same time. It would have been nice to see those moments portrayed in the movies. If there is something the original anime did not display, it is a sex scene. This is technically a spoiler, but hear me out. In the original anime, The sex scenes were toned down. This movie does not hold back displaying a sex scene. This is an upgrade compared to the original anime. I should point out that I don’t buy into the “Sex sells” message whatsoever. The sex scenes in the manga actually serve the story, they aren’t necessarily in there for fanservice even though Berserk is known for its violence in the anime community. As a whole for this entire second movie, The effort put into this second part does pay off to some extent, only time can tell when the third and final part of the Golden Age Arc movies comes in. Which I will tell in my next review. But in all honesty, I don’t wanna go.
Berserk: The Golden Age Arc II - The Battle for Doldrey is available by Viz Media, the original manga by Kentaro Miura is available by Dark Horse.
With all that said, the Second Berserk movie has honest effort in improvement with its animation, it may not be perfect, but the story’s pacing isn’t as rushed as before and it is a very important piece in the trilogy which will lead to the third and final part of the Golden Age movies. The story is far more interesting and intense, the characters shine, and the music compliments it all. This movie does not fully redeem the first one, but I’m glad I stuck through and passed the first part just to get to the second part that doesn’t look too bad. It’s not perfect, but most of it turned out fine.
I give Berserk: The Golden Age Arc II: The Battle for Doldrey a 9 out of 10, it is EXCELLENT!
Feel free to leave a comment. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
In February of 2013, I reviewed an anime that was an adaptation of the well-known dark fantasy manga juggernaut by Kentaro Miura known as Berserk. I bring this up because back in 2010, the news of a set of Berserk movies were announced for theatrical releases. Many Berserk fans got excited. Now with all 3 movies released in the United States, it is time I revisit the tale of Guts and his days with the Band of the Hawk in theatrical form. The question is… Does this adaptation hold up? Well, I can assure you that this will take three reviews for me to explain that with the first being Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I - The Egg of the King
Guts is a young and highly skilled mercenary living in the era of the Midland monarchy. During a siege of a castle, he catches the attention of Griffith, leader of a mercenary army called The Band of the Hawk. As the two clash, Guts ends up joining The Band of the Hawk.
There’s your brief synopsis of the first movie and I don’t think I need to add anymore when the synopsis is concerned. If you’ve read most of the manga and/or saw the anime adaptation, I don’t need to say much about the premise of Berserk.
This first part of the Golden Age Arc is a Studio 4°C production and this studio doesn’t really get the appreciation where the credit is due. This studio produced a film called Tekkonkinkreet which I’ve heard is alright. I also heard they produced an OVA series called Detroit Metal City, which I heard is awesome and they also produced the 2011 remake of ThunderCats which sadly got cancelled after one season consisting of 26 episodes. The ThunderCats remake may have not been a Masterpiece but it was a nice change of pace considering how Cartoon Network doesn’t have as much animated shows worth watching as they used to years ago. As for the first Berserk movie… We are going to be here for a while. The original Berserk anime had flaws with its animation. There were some inconsistencies here and there and there were even some moments where it felt like a slideshow. The slideshow moments from the original anime are gone in this remake but the animation in this movie is also flawed. What’s the problem? THE USE OF CG ANIMATION IS TERRIBLE. seriously, some scenes in this movie make them look like video game cutscenes. What’s even surprising is that some scenes actually do look pretty good. Most of the animation does look good, but I hate to say that the CG animation is very distracting and it really did not sit well with me. The animation is inconsistent and it is the movie’s weak point. With this being the second anime adaptation, it’s totally understandable to go back to the source material being Kentaro Miura’s Juggernaut Manga which its artwork still looks sharp compared to the blunted anime adaptations
The music this time around is by Shiro Sagisu who you may be familiar with the name. He also has done the soundtracks for animes like Neon Genesis Evangelion (plus the Rebuild movies), and Bleach. Yes. This guy is doing the soundtrack for these Berserk movies. In all honesty, the soundtrack really compliments the movie well. It may not be as memorable as the original anime soundtrack, but since the soundtrack has more themes than the original anime. There is more room for the music to sync in with the emotions that are conveyed in these films. Susumu Hirasawa’s soundtrack to the original anime soundtrack was fantastic and it was nice that he lended a hand with the opening theme “Aria”. It’s a nice little nod to the original anime and I like this opening theme a lot more than the original anime opening that really didn’t hold up for me to say the least. Shiro Sagisu’s soundtrack compliments this movie and that’s all I can say about the guy for this movie.
In regards to the Japanese cast, Hiroaki Iwanaga debuts as Guts and I can’t say it is an impressive performance. Comparing Iwanaga-san’s performance to Nobutoshi Canna’s performance in the original anime, Iwanaga-san sounds a little off. Toa Yukinari is not too bad as Casca despite she hasn’t had many roles leading up to the Berserk movies. Yuko Miyamura is not a bad seiyu when she voiced Casca in the original anime, but Yukinari-san’s performance makes Casca sound believable in the Subbed version. Takahiro Sakurai was an interesting choice for Griffith, but I can’t say I favor his performance compared to Toshiyuki Morikawa in the original anime. It’s still listenable but I think Morikawa-san could have played it again if the casting staff gave him another shot at it. The other cast members play their roles just fine for the most part. As for the English Dub. This will probably be the most interesting part when it comes to voice acting for the Berserk movies. I found the Dub of the original anime to be hit and miss. Some performances were okay, some were not. In my opinion, the original dub was laughable at times when the skewed dialogue kicked in. When it was announced that the English voices of Guts, Casca, and Griffith were reprising their roles, I had some skepticism towards that casting decision and I had no expectations of a better dub than the original anime. Now that I sat through the dub, I was completely surprised that the quality of the dub far exceeded my expectations. Marc Diraison reprises his role as Guts and he is far more listenable than the original anime despite he was mostly not too bad back then as Guts. Carolyn Keranen returns as Casca and she is terrific in this movie whereas in the original dub, she was alright but she sounded off at times. This dub has shown quite a number of improvement compared to their original performances. If there is one voice actor in the dub that has improved greatly, that would be Kevin T. Collins as Griffith. His performance in the original anime was hit and miss. This time, he doesn’t sound laughably bad. It is a nice improvement from the original dub to this newer dub. The dub has miraculous improvement and Michael Sinterniklaas deserves major props as the ADR director of this movie’s dub compared to the original series. This dub makes up for the previous dubbing’s hit and miss performances.
This series could not be the way it is without its characters. But I should inform you that there’s really nothing new compared to the original anime and its source material as well. Guts fights with impulse, Griffith is quite the strategist with his swift skills in swordsmanship. Casca is still an interesting character that still stays true to the source material like the original anime did. The rest of the Band of the Hawk are great characters too but I have some nitpicks in regards to how the characters are written in these movies but I’ll save that for another time.
The animation may have been the movie’s downfall. But that’s not the only thing I had an issue with this first movie. Another issue that this first Berserk movie has is the film’s entire pacing. The entire first movie of Berserk has the runtime of 75 minutes. This movie could have been 10 to 20 minutes longer than it is now. This is technically spoilerish, but if you’ve seen the original anime or read the manga, my biggest disappointment with this movie’s portrayal of the plot is Guts’ backstory being condensed. it was a very interesting and tragic backstory in the manga, but with the way its portrayed in this movie. They didn’t show much and these glimpses of Guts’ backstory lasted around 2 minutes. I wouldn’t mind the movie being 20 minutes longer because of it. But they decided to show a little and not tell much. The original anime got this right, this movie does not. When it comes to story arcs in Berserk, The Golden Age arc is a Masterpiece of a story arc. This movie had its potential of portraying the first third as much as possible, but it feels rushed and this is only building up to the next movie which I will review it next time.
Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I - The Egg of the King is available by Viz Media, the original manga by Kentaro Miura is available by Dark Horse.
With all that said, The first Berserk movie is somehow faithful to its source material like the original anime that preceded it. The soundtrack compliments the movie extremely well and the characters are still portrayed well as far as this movie goes, but the story’s pacing is too quick even though the Golden Age arc is a terrific story arc in Berserk. The movie suffers with 3D animation that looks like shit and it just doesn’t mix well with the 2D animation that is actually worth seeing. You should see this if you are a fan of Berserk. The 3D animation will be a turnoff for most people but it doesn’t affect the story (albeit rushed) which is not a turnoff.
I give Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I - The Egg of the King a 8.1 out of 10, it is VERY GOOD!
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25 of 25 episodes seen
Besides the fact that I enjoy watching anime. I also really enjoy playing video games such as Old-school Retro Games, The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, and any fun game in general . I particularly like Role-Playing Games because of a higher chance of an appealing story which RPG’s does put heavy emphasis on as well as being character-driven. When I went to my local anime convention Sakura-con last year, there was this one anime that really got a hell of a lot of attention. I didn’t understand why, I mean after all… This anime really didn’t look appealing to me despite that I myself play video games to keep myself occupied on my own leisure. I think video games are pretty fun and I like playing video games with friends as well as by myself, but it all depends on the game. This “game”, this anime really became an endurance test. That being… The Legend of Asuna… uh, I mean Sword Art Online.
Across the world, there are players that join the virtual reality Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, Sword Art Online, and they end up being trapped and fighting for their very lives. After the game master announced that the only way to leave the game is by beating it, Kirito (a very powerful swordsman) and his friends take on a quest to free all the minds trapped in Aincrad.
Chances are, my brief synopsis of Sword Art Online is a bit redundant because I have a hunch you have heard of the premise for Sword Art Online. In fact, a premise like this has been done before but Sword Art Online’s premise is actually interesting. Too bad that it didn’t last well for me. Sword Art Online is an A-1 Pictures production and I can’t say I have been disappointed with this studio for the most part. I actually liked the animation quality to Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji), however, not everything they touch is perfect. I am in the middle of watching Fairy Tail which is another anime series by A-1 Pictures and it does look nice but the animation direction did disappoint me. Sword Art Online on the other hand is not bad for the most part but there are some areas that could have looked better. The backgrounds and all the effects work well. the problem with Sword Art Online’s animation to me is its character designs. I kind of found them a little messy at times especially when they make certain moments in action scenes look fluid. If there is one thing about the animation that does not impress is how the monsters are designed. The detail on the monsters do look pretty sloppy. Even though these are only nitpicks, the animation does work when it needs to.
The Japanese cast is mostly alright for the most part, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka is not a bad choice for Kirito and I do give props that he does pretty well for an average seiyu, and I could say the same for Haruka Tomatsu as Asuna. The casting is pretty average except for Koichi Yamadera as Kayaba, and Toru Ohkawa as Heathcliff. They somehow do pretty well in this show. The English Dub cast does not contain average voice actors in this show. Bryce Papenbrook has been voice acting for quite a while but he doesn’t really get too many big roles. Kirito is one of those few shows where he plays the main role. The performance isn’t perfect but he mostly gets it right. As English Dub voice acting goes, he sounds a little like Yuri Lowenthal kind of like how Micah Solusod sounds a little like Johnny Yong Bosch. Cherami Leigh is not too bad as Asuna and she does pretty well in the show. Kirk Thornton is also a nice casting choice, too bad his character is severely sidelined. I will give Stephanie Sheh credit that she is a talented voice actress but her role as Yui didn’t click with me. The dub actually has a few surprises. One! Marc Diraison as Kayaba, Marc Diraison was known for being the English voice of Guts from Berserk, but I consider the performance take it or leave it. Two! Vic Mignogna has a minor role where it involves “Tentacles” Be worried Vic Mignogna fangirls, be very afraid. Three! Todd Haberkorn’s villainous and eerie performance in the second half. Kudos to Todd Haberkorn! The Japanese cast is mostly average and does alright for the most part. the Dub has some nice choices but I did not expect too much from the dub and it holds up alright.
The music by Yuki Kaijura however does deserve a special mention. The soundtrack suits the show very well but it really isn’t a memorable soundtrack outside the show, but with inside the show. the soundtrack does its job for the most part. Kaijura-san was an interesting composer choice considering she is known for the soundtrack of a similar anime that you probably know which is .Hack//SIGN. It may feel like it was a predictable choice but the soundtrack wasn’t that bad. The first opening “Crossing Field” by LiSA is a pretty memorable catchy theme. I will give the show’s credit that the first opening theme stands out. I could say the same with the first closing theme “Yume Sekai” / “Dream World” by Haruka Tomatsu. The second opening theme “Innonence” by Eir Aoi is an ok opening, nothing more… I could say say the same for the second closing theme “Overfly” by Luna Haruna. The music is mostly pretty good and it does not disappoint.
If there is one major flaw with Sword Art Online, it is the characters. Kirito really is a wish-fulfillment character and not for reasons that impressed me. The guy is a fucking chick magnet in the show and this aspect of him distracted me. To make the issue far more stressful. It doesn’t really add anything to the story whatsoever. What I really don’t like about Kirito is how he seems to be average at first, acts like a smartass in the next, and then acts depressed because he’s alone when he prefers to do things solo in a MMORPG where playing the role of Leeroy Jenkins does not fucking compute whatsoever. His personality is a mixed bag to me and this character just didn’t do it for me that much. However, he gets the most screentime out of everybody in the show, so I guess Kirito is the only character that has likely chances of someone relating to… but that’s where the show’s problems really lie. There are a good number of characters that have potential to stick out in the show and Yui is actually the only one besides Kirito that actually sticks around in the long run since she first appears. However characters like Klien, Agil get sidelined quite heavily in this show and this is a pretty obvious sign that this show disappoints with its portrayal of characters. There are other new characters that show up later in this anime but they suffer the same problem. Out of all the characters, Asuna is the main female lead in this show and you would think that she plays a huge role in the show. Here’s the thing, She does play a big role in the series except that she starts out great until the show progresses and she is reduced to the stereotypical female character with housewife traits. If you thought that was disappointing… it gets worse. FAR WORSE. The biggest issue with Asuna is that during the second half. Well… Let’s just say her role gets drastically reduced till the last quarter of the 25 episodes of this anime. Asuna had potential, but sadly… Her character was under disappointing results. What’s even more insulting is that there was a romance established in the first half but it was built up even more in the second half where it felt really forced shoddy. About that second half, Kirito’s “sister” plays a huge role where she hardly played a role in the first half and yet she does the things Asuna could have done in the show and gets even more screentime than Asuna in the second half. To make this long story short. The characterization, and character development is fucking awful in this show. .
This leads to what I think most people can agree is the most questionable factor of Sword Art Online, which is… The story. In all honesty, the premise is actually interesting and this anime had great potential with it. The first 3 episodes were not too bad, but that was until a few more episodes came in and the show’s focus seemed to not work anymore. The show’s first half really does take time to sit through but what cheapened the story is the timeskips that take place in this show. It did not help the character development as properly as it could have. Kirito’s character development is half-assed at times and he’s “The Black Swordsman”?. Guts from Berserk had some good character development and he’s the real deal when it comes to the title of “The Black Swordsman” and he earned the damn title too. the second quarter of the show is ok, but once the first half is over, that’s when the story takes a nosedive towards an inane direction. The first half is supposedly called the “Aincrad Arc”, which is set in the virtual reality world called “Sword Art Online”, right? Here’s where the second half comes in… It’s called the “Fairy Dance Arc” set in ALFheim Online where everyone appears as a Fairy… Not being set in Sword Art Online. Here’s the problem. THE SECOND ARC OF SWORD ART ONLINE DOES NOT STAY TRUE TO THE SHOW’S TITLE. That’s right, half the show is in Sword Art Online, the latter half should have renamed the show “Sword Art Online: Alfheim Online”, but it doesn’t. This can be viewed as misleading. Here’s the show’s biggest problem. Whatever the first arc was building up to becomes irrelevant later on except for Kirito’s motives which I will not explain for spoiler reasons. The reason I am stressing some potential spoilers is because you may want to know a few things before jumping into this game. To make matters worse, the second arc is paced a lot more faster than the first arc but the second arc feels rather pointless in buildup which leads to a conclusion that surprisingly doesn’t end in a shitty way for the most part. The character factor really suffers because of half-assed writing and unfocused direction by Tomohiko Ito. What I like to know is why fans think this schlock is the same in the source material which are the light novels series of the same name by Reki Kawahara. I can’t state my opinion on those because I haven’t read them.
This leads to my concluding topic surrounding this anime. Sword Art Online is ridiculously overhyped and I don’t understand how people thought Sword Art Online was a great anime. If the show only had the first arc alone, it would be fine yet it would still have bad characterization. The second arc could’ve gave the show an extra subtitle, but whatever… it still doesn’t add much to the show but it makes the experience far more inane yet more watchable than the first arc just to see how stupid it can get. But here’s the thing. There are more arcs after the first two which are yet to be adapted in Sword Art Online’s second season. The next arcs involve Guns and the Underworld according to their titles in the light novel series. Which makes the title “Sword Art Online” a little more questionable now that “Guns” are thrown in during the third arc. Having different settings with each arc wouldn’t be a bad thing if the title were different and a little more creative. If there is something that’s not even an anime, and not a TV show or movie at that, there is a very well known video game franchise that’s sort of similar in not keeping the same formula from game to game, and that is The Legend of Zelda, what makes the series work to me and possible other gamers is that the games are different from game to game for most of the time. Ocarina of Time was treated as a coming of age game but with an epic atmosphere in it. Majora’s Mask took place in a parallel world with Death as a motif in the game. The Wind Waker’s landscape was mostly water, Twilight Princess involved two realms, so on and so on. What makes those games work is that if you ignore the timeline, the games are treated as legends and it maintains the expanding mythos that made that franchise beloved for years. Sword Art Online kind of has standalone settings from arc to arc, but since the first two arcs had two volumes each in the light novels 25 episodes in the anime adaptation, it didn’t really leave room for me to be captivated in the worlds that Sword Art Online shows where in the Zelda games, you can play them for hours and the player can explore in any given time. Because I am comparing Sword Art Online to a video game franchise (and a beloved one at that). I am only drawing the comparisons because of how Sword Art Online plays out. It may be a silly comparison to say the least but I felt the Zelda series was a good example because it doesn’t stick with one main concept for 1 game. Sword Art Online doesn’t stay the same after one arc as well.
However, the bigger question is…Is it really that bad? In my opinion, My answer is Yes and No. I would say yes because of its poor characterization and half-assed writing. I would say no because the soundtrack isn’t too bad despite it not being a standout feature in the show, but the animation is what makes the show somehow watchable. The action scenes are the show’s saving decency in this entire package. I will give the show credit that the action scenes are watchable and can make the show recommendable just for the action. I was not expecting Sword Art Online to be a Masterpiece but I was a little surprised that the action wasn’t that bad to begin with. If this anime made you react with Angry Nerd- like emotions. I don’t blame you and I’m dead fucking serious about that. If you actually were able to sit through the entire show, then YOU’RE WINNER! But I can tell you one thing, The Legend of Asuna and Asuna II: The Adventure of the Black Swordsman left a impact that I would like to call “Cluster Fuck Online”.
Sword Art Online is available from Aniplex of America, the light novel series by Reki Kawahara and illustrated by abec is available by Yen Press. Six manga adaptations of Sword Art Online written by Reki Kawahara and illustrated by Tamako Nakamura have not been released in the U.S. Sword Art Online: Progressive, another light novel series of S.A.O. has also not been released stateside. The Sword Art Online video game “Infinity Moment” has not been released outside of Japan and I don’t expect it to
With all that said, Sword Art Online is an RPG-inspired anime that had potential because of its premise. It sadly disappoints with its sloppy writing, poor characterization and character development, its soundtrack is not too bad and the action makes it the only watchable thing for this anime. This anime may have had a big deal of hype in a ridiculous level in the past but it is no wonder why this series was controversial in its enjoyment factor. Half of it is decent, Half of it can be viewed as a virtual clusterfuck.
I give Sword Art Online a 4.8 out of 10, it is NOT REALLY GOOD!
Feel free to leave a comment after I log out of Sword Art Online
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