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Let’s get to – wait, I’ve said this already… Ok, whatever, let’s start.
Boy likes girl, girl likes boy. It’s that simple on paper right? Of course, on paper it is but in real life, love is never that simple. Never. Shinkai Makoto captures the difficulties of love all in part one. All throughout the train ride, Takaki (symbolically) experiences the difficulties of love: frustration, anxiousness, depression, helplessness etc. (albeit, it’s not love he’s frustrated at etc.). As we move on to part two and three we see an outsider’s thoughts as well as Takaki’s. This round the world perspective helps to build the central plot of love from more than one angle. The premise is simple enough but just with love, the plot is never that simple from square one. Granted, this story won’t have your head turning from twists but you share in the uneasiness that is love.
As said before, we’re given a round the world perspective. We begin with Takaki, drift to Kanae and end with Takaki again. For all we know about Akari and Takaki’s prevalence, this format leaves with a formidable cheering in Kanae’s direction. Akari is generally distanced from the viewer in part one just as Takaki is. We go through the same thing he does but we can in no way understand how he feels unless we’ve gone through something similar. This is similar to the following situation: you can hear someone talk about how delicious fried squid is but until you try it for yourself, you’ll never be able to truly understand their argument. By the final part, the viewer is generally reserved about Akari. This instantly gives us a backdrop to Takaki’s current situation. Shinkai Makoto has weaved a spider web of character development; there’s not much you can do but admit to the pervasiveness of sympathy for the characters because in fact, most of us have experienced what they have.
Art and Music:
Again, what’s to be expected is expected. I will however give to applaud to this one. If you thought The Place Promised in Our Early Days looked good, then this will blow you out of the water. Some scenes are breathtakingly beautiful and truly set the mood that no other animation could. The sound is just as amazing; little things like the opening of an umbrella or the shot of an arrow really draw you into the entire experience.
5 Centimeters per Second hits a lot closer to home than The Place Promised in Our Early Days if only because love is generally a more universal topic. Not only that, but Takaki and Kanae are extremely easy to sympathize with. Both characters describe a different stage of love: the need to be with the one and the want to be noticed by the one that everyone can relate to. If you’re not a fan to these types of anime’s i.e. the ones that force you to sympathize with a character and their inability to change their situation then it’d be best to stay away from this.
The Place Promised in Our Early Days offers a more developed plot and more diverse characters while 5 Centimeters per Second gives a shallow but time tested plot and universal characters. The former however appeases a more general crowd while 5 Centimeters per Second is very much a romance/drama.
Let’s get to it shall we?
The Place Promised in Our Early Days begins simply enough. Without going into too much detail (I’m sure you can find a summary if need be), we’re thrown into the rather mundane lives of Fujisawa Hiroki and Shirakawa Takuya. Both are rather normal; attend school, participate in club activities and hang out. What strikes with us is that they’re rather normal. Hiroki is a regular teenage boy with a crush on a cute girl Sawatari Sayuri. As the world they live in is slowly unraveled and we see the differences between ours and theirs we also see how Hiroki and Takuya are different from normal boys. It is during this first part that we get to see watch the key scenes of friendship between Hiroki, Sayuri and Takuya. Despite the differences in their setting we get to see that they’re, in fact, just like us. They have dreams and aspirations – Shinkai Makoto has truly created characters we can relate to and understand. This sets us up for the later parts where as the story delves closer towards the two male protagonists, we can clearly understand their current actions as influenced by their early days.
The story plays a significant part in how the characters are developed. Without the given setting or ramifications of the war, we wouldn’t have this story. At first, the viewer is fed a slice of life drama that depicts the three main protagonists. This is our humble introductory into a much larger scheme. As the story shifts past the early days, a more sci-fi approach is given through Takuya’s eyes while Hiroki experiences a saddening drama. Finally, through our female heroine’s eyes, we see the surreal visions she trudges through. All this goes back to our characters and how we perceive, sympathize and care about them. Our three views collide at the end in a climax much akin to the beginning – with our protagonists united and their (current) aspirations coming to fruition. The Place Promised delivers a story you want to succeed because you’re emotionally tied to these characters and their situations. If not for the narrative voice, we’d be in the Stone Age of passion.
Art and Sound:
As expected from Shinkai Makoto, our eyes and ears a treated to some of the best the industry has to offer. The art work will blow any anime series out of the water thanks to the high budget. As mentioned before, the entire experience of character and story must be unified and what better way to do so than imagery and sound?
I wrote this review first (i.e. before 5 Centimeters per Second) because I watched it first. It was also one of those anime’s I didn’t give a second thought to buying. I said it before and I’ll say it once more (I didn’t mean for that to rhyme >_<) The Place Promised in Our Early Days provides a fusion of character depth and a surreal view of how friendship and love know transcend all obstacles. Given the characters and situations they’re placed in, we can all sympathize with one of them and that’s what strikes home. Shinkai Makoto does this well thanks to the combination of amazing narrative voice and beautiful imagery – something you’ll rarely see done well. read more
49 of 49 episodes seen
The story, like all Gundam plots revolve around war, two opposing factions of space and the earth, a boy and his chance encounter with a Gundam. At first, GW bombards you with the names of many factions and organizations that play a key role in making the world of GW what it is. When you truly begin to grasp what a certain organization is and what it stands for, it has just been defeated and wiped from the show. Although, quite annoying, GW exemplifies the concept that, those who don't evolve, won't survive. Throughout the first half of the series (before the emergence of Mobile Dolls), GW centralizes around world events caused in response to the happenings of the main characters and their actions. As the plot moves along, we take a more personal look at the main (~8) characters - why they fight, what their objectives are and who their allies/enemies are. In the final curtain, both these plots come together for the inevitable "Gundam Final Showdown." Action is spread out enough to keep the viewer entertained but remember; GW is not a shounen anime. The plot encompasses the soldiers of war and their actions for their respective sides.
Animation and Sound
This is no KyoAni work, but it's also nothing close to the bottom of the barrel. GW's animation is mid to high quality (even for 2007) thanks to Sunrise. Most scenes take place in the dark of a room or space so remember to turn up the brightness. Animation quality drops at points (a given) but even then, it's appealing enough to keep the screen on. GW isn't as clean as SEED nor do the mobile suits have the same shiny effect as G.U.N.D.A.M's but given the time difference, it's understandable. Most of the OST in GW consists of great battle music to fit the occasion. Battle armament sounds are top notch, especially Heavyarm's guns and Wing Zero's shoulder vulcans. The largest ball drop is the lack of music during most anti-climactic scenes - making them quite dull. As well as random sound effects when character comes to realization about something.
Ah, therein lies the success to any Gundam. As said before, those that don't evolve, won't survive. As such, each and every main character (8 by my count) goes through a change or situation where they must make a choice. This pseudo character development grants us a clearer view on each character's motives and reasoning behind their actions. GW sports a large cast where each main character is paired with another of the opposite sex for contrast/similarities. Not including the immense support cast, GW already has lots of names to remember. But don't be intimidated! Most non-essential characters die within a few episodes anyways. Jokes aside, it's very easy to remember all the important characters and the support character or the day.
Although I wasn't pumped for this review, GW is still a great watch. It's one of those anime's that suffers a lot of disdain for the popularity it gets. It's in the eye of the beholder whether you'll like it or not. The first 20 or so episodes is great - political manipulation and backstabbing at its finniest. Then the centrality shifts and once more towards the end - essentially, you may not like what you see at first but remember, there's about 3 "arcs" in which the genre wavers to appeal to more audiences. read more
22 of 25 episodes seen
These are titles that attract us to the newest animes, but Code Geass, much like our beloved Suzumiya Haruhi was (and is) a fall/winter sleeper success. This anime, backed by Sunrise, director Goro Taniguchi (s-CRY-ed, Gun X Sword) and scriptwriter Ichiro Okouchi (Azumanga, RahXephon, Eureka 7) showcases an excellent engine of entertainment.
A key part of any mecha/action anime. Code Geass is set in an alternate reality in which it appears the American Revolution during the late 1700s was quelled and Britain went on to conquer the rest of the Americas. Thus, the Holy Britannian Empire became the world's largest superpower, covering 1/3 of the world. On August 10th, 2010, a.t.b, Japan is conquered by the Empire, renamed to Area 11 while her people are designated as 'elevens' and have their rights stripped. Thus begins the story of Code Geass, the tale of Lelouch Lamperouge, eleventh prince of the Empire and his ambition to obtain revenge on the Empire through whatever means necessary. Through the use of this alternate reality setting, we’re definitely given something out of the ordinary. Code Geass brings a new spice to an old genre. Code Geass hops along with an arc to arc system with a few lighthearted episodes to mix things up. The story builds with each arc (obviously) to the climax. Although the rising action allows for few breaks, the viewer is never overwhelmed with information or under whelmed by a standstill. As each arc progresses to its end, we’re given answers to previous questions yet new ones always arrive – it’s this sense of mystery that really gives Geass its draw for attention.
Pros: Intriguing political, action, dramatic and moral oriented story. The questions never stop – the viewer is always left wanting to discover and see more. Light hearted episodes here and there, placed very well (ex..The School Festival).
Cons: A few scenes may turn people off on the series – something parts may seem excessively strange (read: some to some people). Again, I’d like to reiterate that for a mecha fan, I’m assuming you’ll be watching this for either story or super awesome mecha battles – you’ll get both from this.
The main characters are all extremely well devised by the hands of the all female group, CLAMP. Besides their high aesthetic appearance, each character harbors a separate and distinctive personality essential to the story. For example, Lelouch and Suzaku, opposing main characters and best friends both suffer from a very Machiavellian, " Do the ends justify the means," syndrome. Lelouch is willing to do anything to further his goals however Suzaku remains wary of what must be done and what should be done. Code Geass shows us the characters inside the mechs; they're not clean cut: "I fight to protect someone I care about." Each character must weigh the morality of their options as influenced by their past where the correct decision may place them farther from their goals.
Pros: Large cast of balanced characters providing a wide arrange of personalities and moral conjectures. Characters are quirky and enjoyable.
Cons: Only the main characters matter; anyone else is pushed to the sidelines (i.e. their stories are never a main focus).
Code Geass delivers during its extremely well devised battle scenes. Battles seem as if they were an entirely seperate anime; lines are drawn, ace pilots face off and the battlefield is real. Geass takes a new twist on "main-characters-destroy-grunts-then-whoever-else-battles" and puts us right in the intensity. As said above, there is a large array of characters, interesting on both the "good" side and the "bad" side (which is which is up to you). The battlefield pits them against each other in a deatch match where we know one has to lose yet we are sympathetic to characters on both sides. This sort of conflict draws out the most amazing and interesting battles you can get from a mecha series of this time. Battlefields are led by commanders (obviously) who must make judgements based on his or her opponents's tactics and information - the strategem of battles only adds to the entertainment. The complexity and chaos of a battle give the illusion that you are watching a real war happening right before your eyes.
Not much to say here; Sunrise puts money into this, characters look great, mechs look great, everything looks great. However, the art design may put some people off; characters are very tall and lanky (as expected from CLAMP) while grunt mechs are generally unimpressive. Overall though animation is on the high end of the spectrum even during low budget episodes.
Code Geass is probably one of the few mecha anime's that will appeal to more than just action fans. Battles are kept to a minimum: the main attraction consists of Japanese nationalism against foreign invaders, their actions which undoubtedly cause bloodshed in the name of peace. One of the themes I enjoyed was the balance between cause and effect. Characters were constantly victims of their and others’ actions this although a given in the real world seems to slip past many other story boards. read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
The story revolves around Takahashi Nanami and Motoharu Yano, two high schoolers who unexpectedly fall in love. As the series moves on, we get to see the ups and downs of their relationship that eventually climaxes when both of them must truly mature or move on - the choice being particularly difficult for Takahashi. Throughout the story, the viewer is introduced to various problems every couple faces from past influences to jealousy -in the end it's quite a simple plot outline with very gripping dialog (for a drama, that is).
Animation is taken care of very well - there's a water color-esque feel akin to Honey & Clove mixed with standard inked anime. The animation won't wow you but it's still nice to for the eyes.
Insert songs create a perfect scene where emotion must strike a chord. Music can make or break a scene and although the songs are prevalent during climaxes, they always seem to get the job done.
There's about 4-5 main characters that truly effect the plot - a couple of them are boring and static however the three main ones are the ones you'll come to love or hate. BgI is the type of anime that makes you feel for the character and sympathize with them; although you may not be in Takahahi's shoes, she'll often narrate her thoughts and feelings to you.
Overall, I'd suggest this for romance/drama lovers - I truly enjoyed every second of this anime and I'm searching for the manga right now. The plot, while simple provides a lot of entertainment for the viewer - whether you cry or laugh, Bokura ga Ita delivers what it's good at. read more
Characters include the 13 HiME's, each with a distinct personality and Child - a sort of mecha guardian. Each HiME also has one special person, very important in her life. That makes a main cast of 39 (or 26 if you don't include Childs). From here, there's several more main characters related to the plot as well as quite a few sub-characters. Sounds confusing, right? Sunrise does an amazing job of maintaining this large cast - main character names will always remain with you (or at the very least, their faces will be memorable) while the few interesting and comedic sub-characters also prove to be very memorable as well *cough*Chie&Aoi*cough* Main characters have backdrops to their personalities, reflecting their actions and continue to develop through the story.
Animation and Sound are top notch as expected from Sunrise and Kajiura Yuki. The soundtrack's most prominent pieces feature language-less vocals mixed with various background music (pseudo techno, strings) which will easily stir the emotion tied to the scene. I truly, have never heard any other anime's soundtrack that can even match the raw power of HiME's. Although the art style is simplistic for characters, you can really tell the difference between Mai HiME and a lower budget anime. Specifically, the battle scenes prove to out match Gundam war zones.
The most important part - the story. Mai HiME features two very different arcs, the first lasting about 16 episodes and setting the stage for the second. The first is a simple "defeat the bad guys while dealing with school, love and drama," however, the second changes the story completely. When I saw the change, I nearly choked on my drink. I won't spoil it, but it's quite the heart breaker. Both however expand on characters and situations to give a very powerful feeling to watch more - While Mai HiME was still coming out week by week, I literally watched each episode 3-5 times ^^;;
Another great part of the story is how each episode inter-connects with another. Something small may happen in say, episode 5 but in episode 8, that something small creates a greater impact that you'd imagine at first. >.> Sorry about the poor explanation XD. To be able to make the viewer put all the pieces together shows an incredibly high level of planning.
Mai-HiME is amazing at what it does. Drama, action, comedy, romance - if you're looking for any of these, watching Mai-HiME will not disappoint. Don't be fooled by the overly comedic appearance though - by episode 8, 15 and 16, you'll be dying to watch more as you sit through some of the heart wrenching situations the people you've seen up till now have to live through. read more
That's what I thought when I first heard about Hikaru no Go. But how about something like this: A young boy is introduced to a board game unchanged through nearly three millenia by the spirit of a top player still yearning to complete what is called the "Hand of God." But then again, everything sounds good when you throw in big words.
Hikaru no Go is essencially the story of Shindou Hikaru as he is inhabited by Fujiwara no Sai - a genius go player from the Heian Period. As Hikaru is inducted into the world of Go as Sai's 'hands,' he sees for himself that an entire world built on the base of a board game exists almost secluded from reality.
As he watches Sai play, Hikaru develops a want to play himself. What makes this story reach out towards you is that not only do you watch on as Hikaru's will to play increases, but you yourself also want to play.
At times you'll be watching two players put down stones while dramatic music plays in the background. To an outsider, this may seem a bit odd and lame but when you truly watch it, everything feels correct. Hikaru no Go is not just the story of Shindou playing a game. Throughout the anime, Hikaru matures eventually realizing that the world of Go isn't just built on a game but the emotions -for the game- each player possess.
The animation proves to hold very consistent through the entire anime, peaking towards the end as Hikaru becomes older. There isn't much flash or bang to each episode but there's always a well done scene when needed.
Too many openings and endings to count. There'll be at least one that you enjoy - not to mention the OST is half decent, with a few tracks standing out (Honda vs. Izumi!).
You'll be introduced to a huge cast with only a handfull being quite important to the plot and even then a smaller handfull remaining important to the plot after their 5 seconds.
If you're interested in a story about a young boy pushing through the world as he experiences that you can't always do what you want and make the best situation of things, check out Hikaru no Go. read more