4 of 4 episodes seen
The story is told in an interesting way that mimics a school day, dividing an episode into five periods, each containing a short story in different classes or times. Similar to a standard day at school, not much happens, and the same can be said of the plot of this series. Rather, as each episode encompasses a single day in school, by the end of the 4 eps, it gives a little story, and a lot of humor. This series is almost episodic (can watch in any order), since so little happens between each episode. The reason that Kyou no Go no Ni gets a decent score of 6 for story is that this anime is not meant to have much of a story; rather, as a 4 episode OVA, it focuses on the humor that takes place in the interactions between the students, and it delivers well in this area. Nearly everyone will find something to laugh at during each period. The humor lies in the young 5th graders finding themselves in more adult-themed situations, and the way in which they handle them (a prime example of this is Episode 1, Period 2, "Collarbones"). The only fault I found to this series was the massive amount of ecchi that is present. While some of it contributes to the humor of a situation (Episode 1, Period 3, "Undefeated") or adds a bit to the little character development (Episode 1, Period 1, "Wiggle, Wiggle"), most times it is rather unnecessary and somewhat inappropriate (such as Episode 2, Period 2, "Changing Clothes"), considering that these are only 5th graders.
The art is pretty standard as anime comes, nothing too flashy or impressive, but certainly not sub-par. Besides their standard childish look, everyone has super deformed (occasionally chibi) and a few have adult forms, for use in comical situations; whenever an adult topic comes up, Ryouta and most of the girls' faces become startlingly mature.
One particular feature that I approved of was the inclusion of the characters wearing a new outfit everyday (each episode), which would be realistic (considering that their school doesn't have uniforms).
The opening song isn't too bad, the combination of the music, lyrics, and video all together fit very well and was representative of the little story that you get by the end of the series. It's not so much the music itself, but the lyrics that the ED provides that makes it also fit well to the series, but overall, it was not as likable as the opening theme.
The numerous sound effects scattered throughout the series are childish and very cartoon-y, and while some may find them annoying, they are nevertheless fitting.
The voice acting of the OVA is simply great. The cute voices provided to the characters are integral for providing the humor of children delivering adult jokes. The way in which the cute voices provide a wide spectrum of emotions is well done, and is one of the shining points of this anime.
Although most of the characters have their own personalities and look, they lack any development, and it doesn't feel as if you really know anything about them at all. While some characters do have their redeeming qualities (such as the odd quirks of Kazumi), pretty much everyone else is your standard, overused anime character. The characters do interact rather well together, however, and as such, provide the source of the majority of the comedy.
While this OVA is definitely full of laughs and entertainment, the large amount of ecchi somewhat detracts from the overall enjoyment of the series (unless you really are into those sorts of things).
This is one of the funniest anime series I've seen; it had me laughing all throughout the show, and I usually don't find myself laughing too often at most "comedy" genre anime. If you are a fan of, or don't mind excessive ecchi, then I would definitely recommend checking this OVA out for a quick laugh, as it definitely packs quite a punch.
Score: 34/50; D+ (68%) read more
5 of 5 chapters read
The story is very slice of life, and the inner struggles and actions of the main character, Shun, to fit in is something that many people would easily go through in their real life growing up. As she struggles to fit in, she distances herself in the process, defeating the entire purpose of having everyone like her; this is how the story begins. As she begins to question her choices, her involvement with the other main character helps her to see what's really important. Yes, if you couldn't tell, the story is very cliche and standard, but it's still sweet. Don't expect anything big; I'd like to emphasize the point that this series is very short, and as such, keep that in mind while reading the remainder of the review.
The art is pretty well defined and nice to look at, but can get somewhat clustered at times. It's a style that almost is reminiscent of One Piece, with overly large and round eyes, and lanky body frames. The inclusion of backgrounds in many of the frames is a nice touch, but it is somewhat distracting and takes your attention from the main action a bit. Also, many of the characters are hard to distinguish, so it can be easy to get lost at times. Overall, it's not too bad though, and I found the way in which the main character was drawn to be rather appealing. There are a few awkward body angles here and there, but nothing too major.
There are only two main characters in 7th Period, supplemented by three minor ones, and a stock class environment. The development for the main character, Shun, isn't too bad for three chapters, and she provides a decent message to the reader through her efforts. Shun could almost be seen as a very slight tsunderekko, however, the inner look at her personal emotions and struggles makes it so that her development avoids this, and although her emotions are a bit rushed, they are understandable and easy to relate to. Beyond that, don't expect too much.
I picked this series up as just a little something to read during some down time, and it provided me with a decent, realistic, if shallow, story, and kept me entertained for about 10-20 minutes. I didn't go in expecting anything big, just a nice short story, and that's exactly what I got.
Really, there's nothing too big involving 7th Period. It'll probably take you less time to read it than download it. As a 3 chapter slice-of-life manga, it is appropriately satisfying. If you're bored and are just looking for a quick fix to kill some time, check out 7th Period. Even if you do find that it wasn't to your taste, it's so short that it really doesn't matter.
Score: 25/40; 62.5%
I won't give this series a letter grade based on percentage, since it's too short to really be graded in the same way as longer manga series. read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
This sort of thing has been done quite often; a studio comes up with a great plot that makes sense, interesting and likable characters, a way to present the story in a way that pushes the bar; they start out well, but then end up like most do: they fail. Baccano! happens to be one of the instances where they actually succeed.
NOTE: Baccano! is somewhat gory, and does contain many scenes filled with blood and a few dismembered limbs here and there, as well as a few scenes of torture. It does nothing to reach gory levels in anime such as Elfen Lied, but if you have a weak stomach, perhaps it is better to keep your distance. Although I did not particularly like the more violent scenes, they don't last for very long, and it's easy to look past them to the great anime that they belong to.
The story consists of three stories being told at once (and the very brief interludes to the present day, early 2000s, and one episode in the 1700s), taking place in the years of 1930, '31, and '32, jumping between the three several time frames in a single episode. Each story involves many overlapping characters and involves all of them in some way or another. The story itself isn't necessarily the series' strong point; it's pretty standard as stories go - what makes it stand out is the way in which the story is presented, how each piece of information revealed is carefully planned out and you're given enough to be satisfied and not get lost, while not giving away so much that it ruins the plot. The story releases just the right amount of each plot line in each episode, finally culminating in the last two episodes, in which everything all finally comes together, and the grand unfolding occurs; it's well worth the wait.
The story does tend to make the jumps between it's three stories rather rapidly throughout an episode, and if you're not paying attention, it's easy to get lost. My main advice would be to plan to watch the series when you're not going to be distracted easily many times during an episode, since as long as you follow along, the story makes sense.
The art quality in Baccano! is nothing to shrug at. The character design is exceptionally well done. Nearly all of the main characters are well defined and very easy to identify immediately. I did have some trouble recognizing a few characters for a while (as you are introduced to a large cast rather suddenly), but after a while, it became pretty easy to tell them apart. One particularly great feature is the OP of Baccano!, which freeze-frames at every character and gives you their name. This aids greatly in learning the characters quickly.
The quality of the animation is rather high, and remains high throughout the entire series, avoiding the drop in quality that many other series unfortunately suffer from. Action scenes are fluid and easy to follow.
The OP is the perfect fit to this anime. The jazz tone that it sets is perfect for the feel of the series as a whole, and music played in the background throughout the various episodes maintains this same atmosphere. The ED, however, is your standard j-pop number, and is rather disappointing.
In terms of voice acting, the voicing cast does exceedingly well at portraying their characters. Not only do they bring personality to their respective characters, they also are rather easily distinguishable, making it easier to identify the large number of main characters from the rest.
The characters of Baccano! are the series' strongest point, as they are well defined, unique (most of them), and the chemistry between them is simply amazing to behold. Even the most annoying character (believe me, you won't have any trouble figuring out who it is) is redeemed at the end, and I even started to like him a bit. The dynamic duo of Miria and Isaac is just brilliant, providing great entertainment just observing how they unwitting screw with everyone and somehow make things right in the end without ever knowing. The humor between the two is great, although some people will no doubt find these two to be annoying. By the end of this series, you are bound to find at least one character that you will like. Although many of the characters receive a healthy dose of development, the large number of them makes it so that many feel somewhat underdeveloped, but this is expected considering that the series only consists of 13 episodes.
As can be expected, when I first started watching this anime, I was very confused with the initial presentation. However, as the story continued to progress, it steadily escalated until the final few episodes, where everything reached a great climax which was pulled into a satisfying ending to a great series.
The only thing that I would say that was a drawback was that despite tying up nearly all the main important loose ends, there were still a few little things here and there that still had to be addressed (such as firmly establishing the identity of the people you meet at the very beginning and how they tie into the story). However, that's what the 3 episode Baccano! OVA is for (hopefully; they are currently being released and I will check them out very soon to confirm), and I'd like to believe that it will explain everything else, as well as give even more character development.
The fact that they pulled off a complex story following a large number of characters in several time frames within a small total of 13 episodes is nothing to scoff at. Despite the fact that many critics of the series could pretty easily point out a great number of minor flaws, the overall brilliance of the series outshines these small issues, and makes them more than easy to completely ignore.
In short, this anime is one that presents a great story, and most importantly, presents it well. This is a series that almost anyone could pick up and find something to enjoy (except perhaps those with a great aversion to blood). Although the series at first is hard to understand and will leave most viewers in confusion, the ending does a successful job of tying everything up, and everyone should have their initial questions well answered by then. This is a series that I would readily recommend to just about anyone to at least try out and watch a few episodes.
Score: 48/50; A (96%) read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
While I'd recommend watching the first season first (for obvious reasons), I think that really, it wouldn't be too hard to just pick up from here and start watching. This is one of the main problems involving the story as I mentioned in the introduction.
I'm almost convinced that in the Zero no Tsukaima world this time around, having boobs or liking them makes you dumb, as the only sane person in the anime for the second season seems to be Louise.
Furthermore, Louise and Saito must be the most beautiful couple to ever grace their land, as every busty female character seems to go after Saito, and the handsome male characters after Louise. For every episode, be prepared to find Saito coming into contact with the cleavage of at least one female member of the cast.
The story doesn't actually get serious until the last two episodes, where it feels as though these last few ones could pass off as a continuation of the first season. In fact, I'd say that this is really the only saving grace for the story, and although the ending invokes an awfully convenient deus ex machina to wrap things up, the last episode as a whole was pretty moving and even made me a bit teary-eyed.
The second season more or less has transformed the series into a pure harem anime relying on fan service and fan of the first season to keep viewers, and for this genre, it does well. However, I feel that since that the first season didn't quite have this degree of females throwing their naked selves at Saito, that it didn't really fit in terms of the story.
At times, it is as though the story contorts itself in ways just to have Saito in a situation with a girl such that if he was walked in upon, it would look really bad, and of course, who but Louise should always walk in on these times. At least during the episodes, the story does progress some, saving it from becoming merely a mindless harem/ecchi anime. It is unfortunate that the story is somewhat weak and ending lacks any real conclusion, but it is good (I hope) that a third season is in the works. I should mention that at least the humor in the series isn't too bad, and also, like the first time around, the story is really predictable, but still fun to watch regardless.
This series contains some of my favorite character designs of any anime, especially Louise, who is just adorable; the female designs cater perfectly to those watching for fan service, and the male characters are handsome, as well. Some rather impressive effects and animations are pulled off during the series, especially regarding spells (with the exception of Void Magic). The coloring of the characters is rather pleasant to look at, and the rosy cheeks of many of the embarrassed females (particularly Louise) give off an adorable effect. Overall, I can't say the art is among the most picturesque I've seen, but it certainly doesn't fail to impress.
I personally liked the very beginning part of the opening song, but after that, it just turns into your standard j-pop number, not particularly bad, but it doesn't really stand out either. Also, it maintain what they did in the first season in adding sound effects to the OP for the last episode.
I'm sure that many people will find the ED to be ridiculously annoying, but I have to say that I thought it was adorable and very fitting (of course, since the OP and ED were made for the series, but that aside). It is basically the perfect embodiment of what the first ten episodes will be like.
Besides the OP and ED, the music wasn't too bad overall, and fit in pretty well with the respective scenes they were in. Additionally, the voice acting definitely wasn't too shabby, either, with an experienced cast voicing many of the characters.
This is perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks of the second season. It feels as though nearly all of the female cast hit their heads on something hard and now have an unquenchable desire to make Saito the object of their affection.
Perhaps some of the new transitions are understandable, such as Siesta's newfound boldness, as it was seen briefly surfacing in the last season, yet instances like Episode 6 involving Henrietta are just plain ridiculous and seem forced. It is fortunate that Louise maintains her character, however, Saito seems to have changed from the average (slightly more than average in terms of bravery though) teenager whisked from his home to a standard anime pervert who drools at every sight of cleavage he gets despite the fact that he is (somewhat unofficially) together with Louise. Thankfully, he manages to regain his old self in the last few episodes but it's rather distracting having this "new" Saito prancing around. It seems as though the characters have actually regressed, rather than grown and developed like they should.
The budding relationship between Louise and Saito is sweet and fun to watch, although it's greatly stunted by the rough humor that is placed into nearly every episode, and doesn't really make any real leaps or bounds until the last few episodes, although there are a few scenes earlier on that are rather...risque, almost.
It's nice that they added new characters, but most aren't properly developed, and furthermore, that means less of the characters that you've already come to know from the first season. They gave back stories to many of the characters, such as Tabitha, and it's a shame that they didn't build on them more. The one exception would be the story surrounding Colbert-sensei, but I won't go into details as to avoid spoilers.
In summary, it's all your favorite characters from the first time around (plus a few new ones), just a bit more comical and perhaps perverted than before.
More or less, I found that my enjoyment of this anime was hindered by the excessive fan service and it's new extreme harem feel it had that contrasted with the first season. If I had watched Futatsuki no Kishi for it being a harem, I'm sure I would have loved it, however, I was hoping for more of the goodness that comprised of the first season, and was rather letdown.
By the end, I'd have to say that the only reason I kept watching was for Louise, and in hopes that the third season will be better. If you've viewed the first season and liked it, then you should definitely check out the second season; if you haven't seen the first season yet, then I'd recommend it to you.
The second season doesn't quite live up to it predecessor, but it's not too bad in whole. Just don't get your hopes too high up. Also, as a harem, it succeeds with flying colors.
Score: 35/50; C- (70%) read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
Do note that it is not necessary to know anything about the Read or Die setting previous to this series to be able to follow it, although many elements do tie in with the past.
This story centers around several bibliophile sisters (and one who hates books) who are able to animate paper, and their various day to day life, as well as the missions they go upon. Later on in the series, the story takes on a much more epic scale, and everything involving the sisters and the people they are involved with all comes together in a grand fashion that has the potential to all fall apart, but manages to stick and finish well.
Again, I'll try to avoid comparisons to the manga, but first I shall mention that I found the character designs to be greater in the anime series; the portrayal of the Paper Sisters is better executed and personalities are well defined in a manner that the manga lacked.
In terms of story progression, the first episode should give you a pretty good feel of what the series is like. The first few episodes are somewhat uneventful in terms of heavy action as they're used to introduce you to the main characters and their personalities, but the pace starts to pick up around the fourth ep. when they start taking on some missions and Anita starts school. Episode 12 marks the start of the real focus of the story, and after a recollection of the events that were involved in the original Read or Die and tie in with R.O.D the TV in Episode 14, the true plot line unfolds (as well as the return of a certain Paper Master). The series definitely takes its time in delivering the full story, and although many episodes could easily be cut, overall, I found the shifting between the slower, more character development-centered parts (edging toward the slice of life genre) and the more story-driven, action oriented parts to be appealing and rather enjoyable.
R.O.D just has this really relaxed feel to it, which blends well with the action sequences surprisingly. The main characters maintain their personalities well whether relaxing reading books or animating paper on a serious mission.
The way that the plot progresses is comparable to a train starting up; it starts out really slow and slowly begins to pick up speed, until it progresses into an all out (I'd feel rather awkward saying 'full steam ahead') race to the finish that is just impossible to stop watching. While the story does take quite a few rather creative liberties when the real action begins, overall the story packs a solid punch that delivers in the end.
I should mention that the series does contain a small amount of nudity, but nothing too major (namely Episode 9).
If the animation for the series has one thing, it's consistency. The animation is fluid and well done throughout the entire series; the flow of hundreds of sheets of paper everywhere is quite a sight to see. The series delivers on the action scenes, and is easy to follow and impressive to watch. Character design is clean and simple, although they are defined aptly, and it is easy to distinguish one character from another. The anime refrains from using any super deformed styles such as simplified faces or chibi to convey emotions, and rather uses dialogue, superb voice acting, and well drawn faces to create an effect. However, they do sometimes use blush spots on cheeks to make the characters look cute at times, and while it is a bit out of place, it is far better than the common use of >< eyes and such to translate feelings. The backgrounds at times are simply beautiful, as are the cloud designs. Overall, the art is rather solid.
One thing I should mention, regarding voice acting, I watched the english dubbed version for a while, and I have to say that it wasn't too bad. It takes a bit of getting used to at first, but some voices are just spot on, such as the brilliant voicing of Nenene, which provides a perfect fit to her character. In fact, when I went back to subs, I found that I actually preferred the English voices, with a few exceptions (i.e. Hisa's voice). And that's saying something, as I generally prefer Japanese with subtitles to dubbing.
The ending theme is very fitting to the series, as I find it reflective of the relationship of the Paper Sisters. The ending changes after Episode 13, halfway through the series, and although I liked the new ending, I found that it did not fit quite as well as the first.
The OP is a lyric-free jazz piece similar to ones found in Cowboy Bebop, or something that you'd hear in a James Bond-type movie, and is also used several times during action scenes. The music played throughout the series fits the atmosphere and helps to define it, and although the music is sometimes started awkwardly in some scenes, it is all very fitting.
Perhaps R.O.D's strongest point is its character relationships. The chemistry between the three sisters is realistic and gripping, as are the friendships they form with many of the other main characters of the series. Every character possesses strong unique qualities that define each, and they stick by them consistently throughout, while simultaneously developing and growing as people. The characters' traits and the way they act are deeply ground in reality and it is easy to visualize any of them living in the real world (minus the supernatural elements, of course). All have vastly differing appearances; there is no risk of ever mixing up characters for one another. While many of the characters' pasts are not deeply delved into, although at the moment I cannot confirm, I believe that they are addressed in earlier installments of the Read or Die universe. However, the three main characters receive plenty of background information that is slowly revealed throughout the story and make them stronger as a whole. The characters of R.O.D are part of what makes this story so great.
R.O.D the TV delivers a unique story that any anime fan should check out. The story is unique and refreshing and the characters are both memorable and likable. The general atmosphere of the series may not be for everyone, but I feel that this is a rather under-appreciated anime and everyone should at least give it a chance. Despite its slow and steady pace, this series manages to stay compelling and kept me hooked all the way through up to the end.
Although I feel that the series does fall a little short as it takes a bit too much time in the beginning, those who are patient will be rewarded with a great story and characters if they stick with the series. My best advice would be to at least check out the first episode and see what you think as it gives a pretty good idea as to what R.O.D is like. If you happen to like the Read or Dream, or Read or Die manga, then you should check out this anime for sure.
Score: 46/50; A- (92%) read more
42 of 93 chapters read
This, of course, brings us to the story of Kodomo no Jikan. The main drive and story-telling device used to develop characters and forward the story is the subject of sexuality. And while this topic is by no means new to the literary world, the fact that children become the main focus of this subject is the source of all the controversy surrounding this series. And while much of the humor results from the awkwardness surrounding the main characters' and their sexual encounters (as in related to the topic; there is no actual sex or anything of the sort involving these characters), it also serves another purpose of questioning society's standards and exactly where the line lies between what can be considered right or wrong.
Before delving into too much detail, I will state that, should one decide to read this manga, he or she should be prepared to view many sexual innuendos and panty shots (often grouped with Sensei's horrified reaction) along the way. And while these become a running gag of the series, author Kaworu Watashiya adds a fresh twist every time, which will likely leave you not only in stitches, but also probably with a slightly awkward feeling afterwards.
Returning to the actual story, the role of sexuality plays a major part in the developing of the series, as well as the driving force, ranging from the main topic of Rin trying to win her Sensei's love, to many of the younger characters' being unusually well versed in sexual knowledge for their age, to their developing bodies and the beginning of puberty. Many instances can be viewed merely as extreme fan service, however, others tie in directly to the deeper portion of the plot. Rin and her sensei's relationship brings up many important issues, such as the questionablility of standards of society and child psychology and development. In fact, the story itself is highly reflective of Rin's personality as a whole, on the surface cheery and situationally perverted in a cute way, while beneath lies another person, repressed out of fear and trauma, seeking security from the ones she loves. While the story may make excessive points at times, the actions of all the characters are always heavily influenced by their past and how it has led to the people they are present day, and possess a meaning. Kodomo no Jikan is comparable to Lolita, a 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov, from which the frequently used terms "lolita" and "lolicon" originated. Although the plot lines vary significantly, the overall question that the two bring forth are similar; the point of child protection laws are to protect innocent (sexually and emotionally ignorant) children from those who would do them harm, however, what happens when the child knows more than the adult?
Regarding the progression of the story, the series begins its first few volumes introducing the reader to what they can expect from the series, as well as developing many of the more important characters later on rather effectively. However, it is not until about the 5th volume that the real story kicks in, and this is where Kodomo no Jikan rescues itself from the potential danger of being written off as a poorly conceived lolicon piece, and earns a spot as a deep story with high potential (the series has only released up to vol. 5 thus far, so it is impossible to say where this will go at the moment).
Anyway, I feel that I have gone into too much detail regarding the story section. The main thing to note is that the reason that story was given a 10 was definitely not for it's ecchi/loli elements, but rather for the very compelling although scandalous story that accompanies them, and the humorous way in which it is delivered.
The panels of the manga for the most part held simple drawings which were clean and easy to follow, effectively putting focus on the significant parts of a scene as well as conveying emotions quite well. Regarding outfits, Rin and Kagami wear a new one everyday, and many of the other characters go through occasional costume changes, but what's really impressive is how every one of the more significant characters (as in all main and supporting cast) have reasons for wearing a different outfit, or the same one everyday. Whenever a few panels are colored in, the result is stunning. The shading gives an overall watercolor effect to the panels, creating a beautiful effect that is a treat to see (if only the entire manga could be in color!) While the art is nothing flashy, it is nevertheless nice to view and tells the story effectively.
Tying in directly with the story, the characters are represented and developed very well. While at first, there is little development, as the story continues to progress, most of the characters receive quite a bit of development and a backstory, the most interesting of which happening to be the story of Rin's mother, which plays an integral role in the later story. In a similar fashion, all of the other characters backstories add to the plot as well, creating an intricate web that could come unraveled with the slightest of ease. Psychological impacts of childhood also play an important role in the personalities of the characters and the ways in which they act. In addition, the main conflict surrounding Rin is masterfully done; it is hard to side with one person on the issues that surface later on in the story (avoiding spoilers). The past of each character directly affects the personality and actions each takes during the story. Overall, the characters are well developed and the chemistry is evident in the way they all interact with one another.
Despite feeling that many of the more...controversial elements were kind of unnecessary, I nevertheless found myself laughing at many of the jokes, amused by the awkward situations, and drawn in by the unique, catching (and entirely possible in real life) story. I read from the beginning to the latest volume within the course of a few days.
There's no disputing the fact that Kodomo no Jikan definitely pushes boundaries and tests the limits of what can be considered acceptable. While many may find themselves offended by the material of the series, for those who stick with the series until the real development starts to begin, they are in for a rewarding, if somewhat disturbing, story. The main thing to remember while reading this series is to keep an open mind, and not to take everything at surface value.
Score: 37/40; A (92.5%)
Since the series is still ongoing, I will update this review as I deem necessary. However, don't expect any major changes in what I've already said above unless Kojika does a complete 180 and changes for the worse.
One more thing: it's important to note that Japanese culture is different from Western cultures (assuming you are from one) in what is considered acceptable and what is pushing limits (not saying that they condone using children or anything, don't get me wrong). Also, for those who didn't already know, it's entirely normal to like, or even marry, your cousin in Japanese culture. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
The plot behind the movie is one that is highly unoriginal and rather rushed. The story lacks much depth, and consists of the usual, ultimate evil threatens the world, Naruto & co. get assigned to bodyguard work, they face other ninjas, almost face defeat, but then Naruto always comes through and saves the day. Or does he? The very beginning of the film gives a preview (I don't consider this a SPOILER since it happens within the first two minutes of the movie) of Naruto's death, and subsequent funeral. Ooh, suspense, suspense! Anyway, if this isn't enough to keep Naruto fans hooked, then the high number of action scenes will. In fact, the action scenes are the only redeeming quality to the movie, as the story suffers from almost no development at all. It's your basic high action, little story formula that's perfect for satisfying the series' generally younger audience.
The Scooby gang is switched up a little for world-saving action. Of course, Team 7 consists of Naruto and Sakura, but this time around, Rock Lee is filling in for Sasuke, and Neji in place of Kakashi, since all of the upper level ninja are tasked with stopping the massive ghost army. This is where the story falls apart. The lame excuse for having just Team 7 guard the most key person to saving the world really makes no sense. Why send all the more experienced ninja to stop this army (they end up doing no damage at all to them anyway), and furthermore, Naruto dispatches them easily enough on his own. Also, is it just Wind Village vs. ultimate evil? You'd think that at least a few other people would care a little. The resolution will most likely have many people shaking their heads in disbelief at the sheer number of deus ex machina that end up saving the world - since there are no rules regarding Shion and the demon, they can just more or less make it up along the way.
That aside, it's a good way to isolate Naruto, Rock Lee, Sakura, and Neji, and focus the action upon them. Their fights with various other ninjas and a few more sentimental moments provide just enough substance to consider this a movie. The ending will also probably have you smiling with it's tongue-in-cheek humor, and the ED song before it is rather enjoyable as well.
As usual, Naruto performs quite well in the art department. Unique characters, flashy jutsu effects, and detailed backgrounds are pleasing to the eye. A few corners are cut in places (most notably the ghost army, although this is understandable), but it's easily overlooked. Action scenes are fluid and well-paced, and fit perfectly into the movie.
Like it's art, the sound is similarly of great quality. The upbeat music playing during action scenes will have your blood pumping and fit the fights really well. Various sound effects, such as the sounds of kunai or the rush of running water are executed in great fashion. The ending song is pretty catchy as well. Sound is basically what you've come to expect from the series.
What Gekijouban Naruto Shippuuden offers character-wise is really nothing new. Some of your old favorites, plus one or two new heroes and several baddies. Shion possesses just enough development to keep the story going, while most of the baddies, such as the four ninja siblings have no back-story at all, and are just thrown in to give Team 7 a tough fight or two, although they do possess some rather unique abilities with their use of chakra. The movie makes no leaps or bounds in anything new this time around, but it's enough.
Perhaps it's just me being reminiscent of my younger days of watching InuYasha movies, but Gekijouban Naruto Shippuuden reminded me of them, and it was kind of nice watching something less story-based and just purely action-driven for a change. If you're a fan of action, you'll enjoy it, more or less. Even if you're unfamiliar with the Naruto world, you shouldn't have too much trouble understanding this movie.
As stated before, Gekijouban Naruto Shippuuden offers nothing new to the Naruto world, and as such, don't go in expecting too much. If you've been watching the Naruto series up until now, then of course watch this movie. Chances are, you'll like it. If you aren't particularly a fan of this anime, then don't expect the movie to change your mind. Overall, the movie is just a concentrated dose of Naruto action geared at younger audiences.
Score: 37/50; C (74%) read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
The basic outline of the story involves the diclonius race, a mutation of humans that have evolved to eliminate the human race and pave the path for a stronger version of them (Darwinism). The diclonius have many traits that make them superior to humans, the most notable being two horns on their head that give them control of vectors, invisible "hands" that have extended range and superior strength (can easily cut through stone and even stop bullets to some extent with no visible effort), not to mention the fact that they move at the speed of light. The existence of this race is kept heavily under wraps, and a certain organization carefully regulates the diclonius whenever a human happens to give birth to one.
On this note, the series starts when one of the diclonius, named Lucy, breaks free from the cell that the organization held her in and, after ten minutes or so of massive amounts of gore and dismembered body parts, escapes to the ocean, but note before being hit by a bullet on the restrictive helmet she was wearing, breaking it and also resulting in her personality being split, one side being her true self, and the other a completely clueless and innocent side with the mentality of a young child (yes, I will mention now that this aspect is very similar to Chii in Chobits or Ren in DearS). It is from this point that the innocent version of her washes up where two cousins, Kohta and Yuka, happen to be walking along the beach. And although none of them are aware of it, their pasts are all intricately entwined in a tragic way.
Elfen Lied starts with one of the bloodiest beginnings that an anime can have. Although such a brutal start may be a deterrent to many viewers, what lies beyond this dark intro is a amazing series. An odd combination of science fiction, slice of life, psychological, romance, and horror, what's really unusual about it is that, well, they mix really well in the stylings of Elfen Lied. One moment, an episode will be calm and cute, and in an instant shift to dark and tense; this transition is repeatedly executed in an outstanding fashion throughout the series, and is greatly reflective of Lucy's split personalities, as well as her inner turmoil.
In terms of the series as a whole, the story along the way is gripping, such that I was compelled to watch all the episodes in one sitting (although it took me three). The only issues I had with it was the anticlimactic, ambiguous ending that will most likely leave many viewers unsatisfied with the series concluding so abruptly, and the few loose strands that are left behind, as well as the background surrounding the organization and how it came to be. In addition, the resolution to the main issue of the plot was somewhat unrealistic, although I was satisfied enough with it. (Sidenote: Apparently, all of these issues are taken care of in the manga, as it goes into more detail on past events as well as having a different resolution than the anime, including how the main character dealt with his recollection of past events.) I feel as though the series could have used a 14th episode or an OVA (not the current one, although it does answer some questions) to clear up all of the loose ends, but it is hard to imagine how some things would be resolved, and perhaps is just better left to the viewer to decide.
The art in Elfen Lied is nothing short of beautiful, vibrant and filled with rich colors. The animation is very nice and smooth, and doesn't appear to suffer from any budgetary limits. In fact, the overall production quality of Elfen Lied surpasses a great number of anime. This could, of course, be since many of the more violent and faster-paced moments usually involve a diclonius calmly standing in place while everyone in the immediate vicinity is ripped to shreds. However, the over-exaggerated blood and gore is definitely something to note as well executed. I can't say that I'm particularly into gore and excessive nudity in anime, but I'll admit that what they do, they do well. Not to mention the numerous costume changes many of the characters go through (and they're all cute). Perhaps most impressive is the art in the OP, which is based upon the work of Gustav Klimt, including the layouts, colors, and even poses that he often deployed. It's a spectacle that has to be viewed in person.
One note regarding the rampant nude scenes throughout Elfen Lied, although I initially found myself somewhat refreshed by the honesty of them (i.e., a test subject in a lab would be naked), as the series progressed, I felt that much of the nudity was unnecessary and just there for fan service (also contributing to the difficulties in getting this show to be approved for airing on TV).
Most notable in the music category would be the series' opening, Lilium, a beautiful song written in Latin and sung in Gregorian chant. The various musical pieces that complement the events taking place throughout the series are almost all instrumental variations of Lilium, and they fit into the atmosphere of Elfen Lied perfectly, providing a perfect compliment to whatever scene they are integrated into. The ending is a pop-rock song that can be fit to the series, however, it often breaks the mood since nearly every episode ends on a darker note or as a cliffhanger.
Overall, the music is very enjoyable, and Lilium is a very memorable song that many people will no doubt find themselves downloading after they have seen the series.
Regarding the voice acting, the Japanese voicing is well performed and the voices fit the characters quite well. Although I cannot confirm the following since I have not listened to the English dub, I have heard many complaints that the English voicing is merely sub-par.
I'm torn when it comes to characters, as I feel that Elfen Lied both succeeds and fails here. The series falls short in leaving many characters underdeveloped. We are given brief insight to many characters' dark pasts, yet receive no further information once they are touched upon - it is hard to come to care for every unfortunate soul that the series introduces merely due to the fact that we do not have enough contact with them. However, the development present for certain characters almost outweighs this drawback, especially considering that the series was only 13 episodes long. The two main characters are developed sufficiently, and I'll accept the reasoning that the whole series revolves around the interactions of these two in the past; the psychological conflict affecting Kohta and Lucy is integral to the plot, although most of this development is done in the very last few episodes and feels a little rushed and almost forced.
Don't get me wrong though, despite what I believe could have been slightly better, I thought the characters in the series were brilliant, and the fashion in which they interacted and were related to one another is part of what makes this series so great. One particularly notable feature the majority of the main characters possess is that is almost impossible to side with one or another entirely. Each has equally valid reasons for their actions, and, when their pasts conflict with one another, deeming one person to be right over the other is just not possible. The butterfly effect, a major theme involved in the way that the characters developed and came to be what they were during the story, particularly for Lucy - her experiences growing up, her encounters with people who kept her sane, or drove her to near insanity - all come together in a manner that is a real treat to watch, leading up to the climax of the series.
Elfen Lied, as a whole, was one of the most interesting and compelling series I have seen in quite some time. The few drawbacks it had were easily overlooked by the positive qualities it possessed, and was well worth the experience and time. Only the ending was a bit of a letdown, but the ride along the way was wild.
Simply put, this series pushes boundaries, and isn't afraid to do so. More importantly, it does so well. This adult series is definitely not for everyone, but even if you are averse to the more unpleasant parts of Elfen Lied, I would still recommend watching it, as it is truly a great anime.
Score: 47/50; A (94%) read more