13 of 13 episodes seen
Okawari follows on from Minami-ke starting the morning after New Year and once again follows the lives of the three Miname sisters as they enter their third semester.
When an anime changes studio’s it’s always worrying, especially on the back of such a successful first series. These fears are realised in Okawari and there are large differences in story styles between the first and second series. Firstly Okawari plays a lot more on the slice of life genre, whereas the previous Minami-ke had some ridiculous, but none the less hilarious moments (Who can forget Kana tying Chiaki up to ward off the rain), this series tones down the ridiculousness and concentrates more on the character interactions. Also changed are the episode styles, whereas in the first series each episode was split into miniature stories, Okawari dedicates the entire episode to one storyline.
This may not seem like a bad thing and there are plenty of series that pull it off but whereas the first series jumped from incident to incident with little need for build up, Okawari has to build up each joke and follow it up with some relevant storytelling to get to the next laugh which is a little long winded. I found this especially hard during the 7th episode when Kana continually foils Chiaki’s good work and actually got me annoyed at Kana’s character. Kana was probably my favourite character from the first series and for it to turn round to me actually finding her irritating is a prime example of bad storytelling. There have also been a few losses in the studio takeover with the rest of Touma’s family disappearing (I thought Natsuki and Haruka were getting on nicely) and the addition of a new next door neighbour who does nothing for the storyline and is a pretty pointless character.
However much I may complain that the story isn’t up to the excellent standard of the first series, the majority of the storylines are decent themselves, and it still provides a good laugh from time to time, with the addition of some fan service from the girls (not that I felt the series needed any of it) in the traditional onsen sketch and then on every occasion the girls get to jump in the bath.
I have to admit, I fell in love with the first season’s ‘soft art’ (serious poses aside) so I was worried to see what the new studio would change. It’s a pleasant surprise then to find that without notable exceptions the artwork is still the same soft art styling as before, and does contain the serious posing. What the new studio has added to the anime is better backgrounds – Okawari has lots of small unnoticed background objects that look like they should be in focus and also takes place in far more locations than the first series all of which are animated beautifully.
My main complaints stem from character design changes and one of the biggest one for me being a layout change to the Minami household. The first shot of the first season shows each of the girls waking up in their respective rooms, whereas somewhere lost in the time which is New Year is the wall between Kana and Chiaki’s room. They have been shifted into a smaller room separated by a curtain which doesn’t really make sense from a continuity or production viewpoint. Secondly are the character changes to the eyes and hair, the eyes are given more depth and more colour – but I was seriously put off when viewing Haruka’s eyes turn red (I checked back in case I had missed something and they were definitely light brown in the first series), the hair also is given brighter colours and even two tone colours – Chiaki’s hair turning from Haruka dirty blonde into some blonde/dirty brown two tone combination which just looks weird.
Once you get used to the changes you hardly notice them, but for the first few episodes it does sometimes take your attention away from the story when you are trying to figure out if someone on screen is a main character which it will be if they don’t have a blacked out face. The credible art of rendering additional background characters to a high standard, with lots of variety is utterly defeated when the studio isn’t going to actually add in facial features and just blacks out the rest of the character. It looks really odd, and just doesn't fit it with an otherwise fantastically animated show, ruining what is almost a perfect mark.
All of the voice actors have stayed the same, so there is no change in the characters. The OP doesn’t really work well with the series I don’t feel, it’s not quite lively enough for the series nor is it catchy enough, it’s alright but a lot of songs out there would have been better choices for the OP. The ED is better than the OP but again doesn’t really catch the essence of the series which is a bit disappointing, the animation sequence with Kana wiggling her bum as she walks is a bit odd as well, there’s just something not quite right about it. The background music throughout the show is the same brilliant work as in the original however and sets up the jokes well.
The main characters all stay the same and are all brilliant. The only completely new character in the series is Fuyuki, who moves in next door to the Minami’s and is such a disappointing character. He’s a restrained good guy type character, always doing things for other people etc but he never really makes an impression on the series at all, even though he may be mentioned or involved with more than half the show you never actually miss him or want the girls to become distracted with him.
As for the cast from the previous series we get a lot more Touma, Fujioka, Hosaka and Makoto (mainly in the guise of Mako-chan), with the banter between the characters bringing the extra dimension that was in the first series. Gone however are the rest of Touma’s Minami’s which I thought was a shame as I liked Natsuki’s character as a counterbalance to Hosaka’s weirdness.
With the new episode format and the move to a more slice of life type show I think that a little bit of the Minami-ke charm has been lost in the mix, it’s just not as fun to watch as the first was. However comparing it to what is probably the most enjoyable show I’ve watched recently is perhaps not very fair, Okawari is still very fun to watch and the escapades in which the characters get into as still very enjoyable to watch once you get over the new styling.
If you break the scores down its actually 7.6/10 but I really felt that Okawari was probably more than one mark away from the original (which I gave a 9), while still being good in its own right. In the end what brings the score down is the changes involved in the story, with the story focusing more on slice of life than humour the enjoyment of the series decreases, and the addition of Fuyuki is detrimental rather than positive. It’s still a good show and if you enjoyed the first series then I would recommend it, but with the warning that it is not Minami-ke as you know it.
13 of 13 episodes seen
Minami-ke is a slice of life comedy centring on the three Minami sisters (no mention of any other family except a distant relative) and their friends as they go about their lives – usually with hilarious consequences. Each episode is portrayed in short segments spread throughout, much like azumanga diaoh with each segment having its own theme, but usually fitting round a general episodic storyline. The vast majority of the story takes place at the girls various schools (each sister attends a grade school) and at home, giving a wide scope for hilarity to ensue, with most of the comedy coming from the younger sisters Chiaki and Kana.
Although there may not be a storyline moving towards a dramatic ending, as the genre’s nature is, each episode is well written to bring a smile to the face. The way the story is portrayed with the characters and the styling, make this one of the most fun and enjoyable series that you’ll watch – its just good fun.
The art in Minami-ke is commonly called soft art, whatever they call it, it fits in with the story and the characters brilliantly. The character designs are some of the best I have seen, every aspect of the characters is well animated, and I love the facial animations – especially the tear drop mouth. The backgrounds are all nicely done, and the schools and Minami home are all animated well.
My only complaint with the animation is the tendency to switch styles when the girls are being serious to a more hardened styling. The first time it happens it’s quite a shock, usually involving facial close ups, with additional details added to the eyes and nose detail – it just seems out of place with the rest of the animation being so soft, and they could probably have had the same effect without resorting to a different animation style. This is a small complaint though and the rest of the artwork is beautiful.
The OP isn’t to my tastes but is lively, happy and catchy, generally a good mood setter for the series, the ED is again lively and if anything catchier than the OP. The voice acting is of a high standard throughout the anime, everything sounding right, from Kana’s relentlessly enthusiastic voice to Chiaki’s slightly deeper (not in a bad way!) dead pan voice work really well with the characters.
The background music involved reminds me of the background music from azumanga diaoh - it sets the pace of the segments where it is used, and is normally timed for comedic effect and adds in that extra little bit of fun to the anime.
This show works because of its strong range of characters and supporting characters throughout the series, with most of the supporting characters getting better development than main characters from other animes.
The Minami sisters work brilliantly well, with Kana’s abundance of energy and lack of common sense being offset by Chiaki’s superior wit and intolerance for idiots. That said it’s up to Haruka to keep the peace, although this is not easy as both siblings vie for Haruka’s affection at every turn.
The supporting cast is very strong, with a few strong recurring characters, each of them likeable, my only complaint was about the gender bending Makoto/Mako, while his initial cross dressing was hilarious, the more often ‘Mako’ turned up the less I liked the character, however this was somewhat offset with the introduction of Touma (not really a gender bender, as had it forced upon her) later in the series, which seemed to give Makoto a counter balance which I felt was needed.
What makes this show such a success is the way the characters combine, and would not have been half as funny if the extensive range of characters were not involved. The continual battle of wits between Chiaki and Kana is brilliant to watch, and the way they both manipulate their friends into their schemes is highly amusing.
This is one of the most enjoyable series I have seen, the characters are wonderfully developed and animated and the scripting for the episodes is brilliant – you’ll get at least on good laugh out of every episode, which is basically what this type of series is about, putting a smile of the viewers face.
Miname-ke sets a high standard across the board for it portrayal of brilliant characters, fantastic animation and brilliant use of music. Each storyline brings something new, and you never know what to expect except that its going to be hilarious. I had been looking for a while for something that could compete for laughs with azumanga diaoh’s slapstick comedy and in Miname-ke I found it – in fact its probably the best anime of its type out there at the moment.
4 of 4 episodes seen
The four 15 minute episodes which make up this OVA don’t have a common plot or story between them , more to say the OVA’s seem like they are introducing the main characters for a longer anime or OVA series which is yet to come. In saying that the stories do seem to be in chronological order, in the same city and it is set sometime in the future. The other main characters are also sometimes involved with the introductions to the other episodes main characters. The episodes break down as thus;
Episode 1 – Introduction to Mihai – This shows Mihai’s return to the unnamed city for the first time after being fired from the mafia he was working for 20 years previously. Through this he has to deal with many elements of his past which he left there, including his former protégé.
Episode 2 – Introduction to Badou – The episode is a change of pace from the first episode, the first episode having been gritty and emotional, this is a rather humorous romp through Badou’s character. Badou is an information gatherer, but when he mucks up his abseiling whilst gathering information he ends up getting more information than he can handle. This is probably the weakest of the four stories and I just don’t feel it fits in, especially when he seems to have been given a character shield, although this is offset by the humorous nature of the episode, compared to the other episodes darker and more realistic settings, this can’t help but feel out of place.
Episode 3 – Introduction to Naoto - This reverts back to the more gritty atmosphere of the first episode, and shows Naoto being taken in by a skilled knife as a child user after her parents are murdered by a skilled knife user. Themes of revenge and confused feelings run through this episode, as well as introducing some very interesting characters – this is probably the best episode of the OVA series.
Episode 4 – Introduction to Haine – We are brought into the Haine arc knowing a little about him from what was said at the end of the previous episodes and also with him having been contacted by Badou already. Haine has a few special abilities which make him a slightly different proposition from the rest of the characters shown in the OVA, the story revolves round him taking pity on a genetically engineered girl and trying to save her. Haine is probably the character with most room for expansion out of the main characters set so it’ll be interesting to if they make a longer series how it will turn out.
The artwork is the industry standard for the current production run of animated series and looks like many of its contemporise – the characters are well animated and the backgrounds are all suitably drawn. There is no animation that stands out as being different or excellently drawn, but this goes along with its gritty and somewhat humorous attitude to the series, it works out well.
Hard to fault the sound either the series is well produced and has good voice acting/lip sync (a real annoyance when its slightly off) , the music pieces played through the anime are to a good standard are occur at locations where they add emotion or tension to the scene. As the series is 15 minutes long, there is no OP per se, but the ED is rather nifty and a good listen.
This seems to be the main point behind the OVA, the introduction to the unique blend of characters which make up the show, with each of the main characters getting their own episode to ‘introduce’ themselves. The mix of characters seem like they complement each other well Mihai being somewhat older than the rest, but his experience on top of his still top drawer abilities make him something of a legend in the city. Compared to Badou – who is definitely the comic relief, but also can show a serious side when out of tobacco, this contrasts nicely and any moments can be brought to a comic conclusion through his actions.
The most interesting characters were Naoto and Heine – both have some pretty big issues but watching them in the episodes you can already tell that there is something rather special waiting round the corner when they are on screen.
This is a very enjoyable series to watch, at just 15 minutes, you can whizz through the entire set in an hour as I did. The episodes actually seem longer than 15 minutes, so much happens in each one, and on more than one occasion I was checking to see they weren’t going to miss out the action scenes, which they didn’t. The only problem I had whilst watching it was knowing that this is as far as I was going to get in watching these chatacers, that there wasn’t anything to watch after I’d finished the OVAs.
I would highly recommend this series of OVAs to anyone – but I would warn them that due to the unfinished feel of the series they may want to pick up the manga instead or wait till further series are announced. If this does become the precursor to a longer series this should mean the anime goes straight into the action without the need for introducing everyone.
I for one am going to pick up the manga and read it, because I can’t wait for the next series to be announced
26 of 26 episodes seen
The initial premise of the story is actually very good, Kirika wakes up one day not knowing anything apart from a name - Noir, a pocket watch, a , and a school uniform and ID. Oh and a great skill in assassination. She contacts Mirelle, another assassin with whom she makes a pact to find out who this Noir is and what has been controlling their lives. Being a big fan of mafia and spy movies, the premise sounds great, but from an early stage I could feel this early promise slipping through some horrific sub-plots and plot gaps. For example the first thing that Mirelle asks Kirika is about how she found out about her (With Kirika being in what I'm guessing is Japan and Mirelle working in Paris it’s a fair question) to which an answer is never given, thinking we will overlook this as Kirika has amnesia and probably knew in the past I let this first one go.
Secondly, Mirelle promises to kill Kirika when she's done helping her find out about her past since she knows her face, a huge matter of importance for an assassin. However this secret identity swiftly goes out the window by the third episode which has the pair assassinating a crime boss in broad daylight at a party with hundreds of guests without a disguise. Then a couple of episodes later they are worried about a crime boss having seen their face again, consistency is something that this anime is severely lacking in.
Thirdly, I guess I should clear up that this is most definitely a girls with guns anime, not anything realistic or assassin related, men in this anime are confined to the same fate as the red shirts in the original star trek, even when the pair are in a position where it seems unlikely that they could at least not be injured, the incompetent men seem to be able to spray everything around them, even after just taking out their previous target with some nifty sharp shooting. This left any conflict in the anime a joke, you could have scripted in generic mass of men with guns, somehow surround/capture one of our heroines, other heroine kills everyone without breaking a sweat.
All this is actually quite sad, because once you get past the dull storylines and into the proper story (about episode 18), the story suddenly begins to live up to itself. The last 8 episodes merit a much higher score on their own than when included with the previous 17 episodes, with the story actually getting down to the nitty gritty stuff and making headway. Unfortunately this comes far too late in the anime, with over half of the episodes done very poorly, the scoring has to be way down. This could have made an excellent 12 episode anime, with the events until the 18th episode could be summed up in at most 4 episodes in terms of any actual story and scene setting.
The animation is pretty good actually, the backgrounds are especially impressive, Paris looks like Paris and Corsica looks like Corsica. The animation style is typical early 00's so looks slightly dated now, but there’s no problem with that, as it does not hinder the story telling.
My main gripe with the animation is the lack of blood in the anime, not that I think any anime should be smeared in huge amounts of blood, but it does look bizarre when someone is injured and holding there arm like its bleeding, only it’s not... also anyone killed just seems like they are having a lie down, this is further impressed by Mirelle’s flashbacks from her childhood which contains characters with blood, it seems odd to have it there for one scene and then not for the rest of the anime, again consistency is the main problem.
The sound is another very good part, the soundtrack has won the composer some acclaim, and the title track is really good, however a slight few of the scores really grated on me, especially the tata one (you’ll know it when you hear it), managing to be the most irritating noise in the animation and usually came on in scenes which really would have benefited from the same excellent music in the rest of the anime. Apart from that gripe, the characters are often silent through thought and the music played at these times usually does well to add to the mood of these scenes and enhance the understanding of the characters. The other good point with the sound, is the pronunciation of the French and Italian words in the animation, which is spot on. Recently I have cringed at Japanese attempts at English (Revy in Black Lagoon's English for example), and it’s really refreshing to hear them get it spot on.
I only consider Mirelle and Kirika to be main characters in this anime rarely do any of the other characters which are introduced last more than one episode. The exception to this being Chloe and Altena, of whom I consider to be main supporting as they do not get enough character development on the whole to consider them main characters.
Both of the main characters are well written, and the way in which both of the characters feelings are portrayed throughout the anime, lets you into the characters well and you can actually see their pain about what has happened to them. My main criticism on this point is again going back to consistency, with some of the characters reactions to various situations changing throughout the course of the anime where there has been no character development which would influence them in these situations.
Both the main and supporting main characters could also perhaps have done with a greater look into their pasts, for Kirika – what happened before she got amnesia and ended up in Japan with Mirelle – what she did between leaving Corsica and living in Paris (although this is briefly touched on). For there to be such a small group of main character in a long anime series, it would be expected to investigate all the major time periods that build up the characters into who they eventually are in the present time, which is done to an extent, but at the end I was still looking for more answers about the characters.
Unfortunately this ended up a bit of a slog to watch. The story telling for the first episodes was terrible, and it also took me a while to connect with the characters and by the time I did understand them more, the bland scripting of the first episodes had reduced me to not really caring too much what happened to them and eventually, it was a case of watching because I had started.
There is a very good anime here screaming to get out, the decision to run for 26 episodes was a huge mistake in my opinion, with more than half the episodes being below par in terms of storytelling and enjoyment. As put in the story section, this would make a great 12 episode series, without detracting anything from the story itself. However if you like girls with guns, don’t mind a bit of Character Shielding and can put up with some crass storylines, you’ll be treated to a very good closing sequence with an ending which is the envy of much better told stories.
13 of 13 episodes seen
I'll leave the story till the end, the artwork is very good, the artists have managed to settle on artwork which works with the setting of 1930's America, and while it may not be as polished as some Gonzo works, it benefits from this. The sound is good quality from the screams, and voice actresses to the periodic music that occurs in the background, it all comes together to give the feel of 1930's America.
The characters are probably the best part of Baccano! Miria and Isaac are the funniest double act and always brighten the screen whenever they are on, as well as having other great characters like Firo and Jaccuzi. There are also characters that should make you feel completely the opposite, but the characters are so well polished that you can't help but like all of them (apart from perhaps one, the main villain). While a lot of the back stories are covered in the series, the OVA's after give the perfect rounding off to all the characters and should be watched for the complete story.
I found the story quite hard to follow. The story telling is through a reporter at the start but eventually moves along at its own pace, but has a reservoir dogs theme of jumping back and forth between times as well as character stories.This may have worked in the film which focused on one group and was one film, but with four/five main groups and in episodes as in Baccano! I don't think this works, In a normal anime I can get the story after 2/3 episodes but after 4 I was still wondering what was going on. There are too many different storylines going on at once for this style of script to work in my opinion, the train is a good way to bring everyone together, but I was also surprised that the groups didn't run into each other more often on the train, being only one way forward and back. Once you get to towards the end of the series though, the pieces finally come together and the true masterpiece of the story can be seen, I'm just afraid many people will have been put off by the confusing opening scenes.
Overall this is a very good anime, the characters and overall storyline are fantastic but are let down by poor opening episodes and random story jumping. read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
The story is split into three mini arcs, and ususally involve a look at some of the other characters in the show. The first mini arc gives its attention to Balalika, the second Revy and Edna and the third tries to bring in Balalika, Revy and Rock. I have to admit I didn't enjoy this format as much as the first series, for the majority of the series the crew of the Black Lagoon are barely involved, Dutch and Benny are barely seen throughout the series. Some of the plots for the mini arcs are questionable as well, I didn't enjoy the first two arcs, though I thought the third arc was back to Black Lagoon best although it was ruined by horrific English use.
The artwork is the same as before and is very well done and the darkness of the backdrop fits in well with Roanapur's dark and dangerous feel. The sound really lets this series down, I was already worried from the first series hearing Revy, a supposed American-Chinese national, murdering her English lines, and it just gets worse in tsb. The third arc take place in Japan, and Rock is brought along to translate, as everyone in Roanapur speaks English (yeah, I hadn't really caught that one either), and the use of the Japanese floating back into terribley pronounced English is grating, and is a real downer on what is otherwise a very interesting part of the story.
The Characters are all very well written, we don't get any new major characters this series, and get some additional background on Balalika, Edna and Revy which was interesting, I was somewhat disapointed that for the length of the series we didn't get a more in depth look at Rock adjusting to life on the edge (The last mini arc does go into it, but thats without interaction from Benny or Dutch and life on the Black Lagoon) and a look at how Benny and Dutch came to be there, hopefully Black Lagoon 3 will look at this.
Overall its a decent series to watch but suffers from being a sequal to such a fresh and action packed first series, to which it doesn't really ever live upto. Added into that the terrible forgein lanuage scenes, and storylines which don't really contribute that much to the story, its a 7 for Black Lagoon tsb, and hopefully back upto standard for the third installment. read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
The artwork is still the same gonzo team that did the first and is still the same fantastic quality we have come to expect from them, the sound I'm marking down slightly on the first episode, mainly due to the overuse of irritating catch phrases, which seemed to appear just to disrupt the storyline in most places, still the same voice acters/esses are involved so the sound isn't changed from the first season.
The characters are all the same bunch from the first season with the additions of Kokoa and appearances from the mothers of the group, Ruby also appears a lot more in this season. This might have been OK, but a lot of the scripting for the newer characters made them annoying to watch, Kokoa especially was grinding my gears towards the end of it, and character development on Ruby was non existant, I was however glad that they did answer a few of my questions from the first season with Moka, all in all the characters were still fun to watch (Kokoa and Ruby aside).
I did enjoy the series, and its a very easy one to watch, it just suffers from the sequal hangover like so many anime titles seem to in that it just doesn't live upto its predecessor. Not to say that this doesn't give it a good go of it, definately worth a watch if you've been watching the first season, and for anyone new, watch the first season first! read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
Although I did expect all of this, I didn't expect the story to be quite as good as it was, yes that may seem odd, a good story from a harem anime, but when compared to other harem animes, Amaenaide yo! or Nagasarete Airantou, the plot is surprisingly good, of course its not in the same league as geass for that matter, but its nice to watch a harem anime that you feel is progressing somewhere.
The artwork is all very well done, the panty shots are well animated without going into too much detail (To-Love-Ru's detailed shots were enough for one lifetime) and all of the characters are suitably styled so that none of them look particularly out of place. The sound as well is well done, without too much harem style grunting, ohhh yeahhs, and other cringeworthy noises. The character's voice actors doing a good job at making the characters sounds like they look, and not being too high pitched and whiney.
The characters are all well written, styled and the personalities make them all likeable. Even Tsukune, the hopeless chap he is, doesn't really get on my nerves, he has reasons for being useless as you'll see.
Overall this is a very enjoyable series if your looking for a harem anime with a decent plot and plenty of pants/bra fanservice, or something pleasureable on the eyes. If you are wanting a better plot then why are you looking at a harem anime? read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
I find it hard to critise artwork and sound in anime, the artwork in Suzuka is not up to the standard of modern Gonzo series, but it works and is true to the manga artwork, the characters are all very well done and as for the sound, the characters all feel right, there isn't an out of place cast member so it all works well.
The main characters are all developed throughout the series and you do get to know the characters and their manerisms throughout the series, as I said earlier the characters come in for some abuse from some people, but isn't that the point? That the charcters are flawed like everyone else and can produce the reactions that make us want to go and rant on the forums about how stupid they have been?
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this series, even all the bits that made me watch it from behind the chair and pause to get the courage up to watch the next bit, I thought I was alone in doing this but I gave this series to a friend and he did the same thing. Its a must watch in my opinion. read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
The storyline takes a similar stance to the first series with multiple story lines going on at the same time, this can lead to confusion in setting out what is going on in which story line. I put watching this series off for a while before I watched it because on watching the single episodes I couldn't get into it, it was only when I could watch a few epsiodes in a row that I found it easier to see what was happening.
The artwork in ef is one of my favourite parts of this show, it has an almost unique way of blending colours and different images, that work really well in provoking afinity for the characters and their situations. The music also plays a similar role but not to as great an extent in melodies, but is not as unique and interesting as the artwork.
Overall its a very good anime, and is up there with Clannad: after stories as one of the best romance/drama animes out in the past few years. If you like this genre or if your looking for something a bit different then this comes highly recommended. read more