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11 of 11 episodes seen
Un-go manages to impress well after it’s initial few episodes, where it takes on a brilliant narrative that is much more deeply focused upon it’s characters and ruinous setting, rather than the mysteries themselves. In other words, on the surface Un-go appears to be a mediocre series with bad mysteries, but as you explore the characters and setting, the story takes on a intrigue heavy atmosphere that integrates the war-torn setting almost perfectly. The setting itself is post-apocalyptic, and the story does an excellent job with taking advantage of the setting’s unique traits.
It’s amazing just how well the story integrates it’s main cast and setting, where the story explores in depth just how much the setting has come to haunt the very fabric of society in Un-go, everything from pop idols to politics. The character dynamics are superb as well, with the characterizations of Yuuki Shinjurou and Kaishou Rinroku being handled quite gracefully. The dialogue between the two was at many times sharp and witty, and contributed a lot to providing deeper insights into the main cast (as well as their traumas). Admittingly, Un-go still wasn’t exactly the best with it’s mysteries, but that improved significantly as the series went on.
The production values, unfortunately, are nothing to really rave about, but I do feel the character designs worked quite well with the overall intrigue-heavy atmosphere. I would like to note that the ending theme song was excellent, and was a very good way to transition into the credits. Oh yea, and the soundtrack for this series was also quite good. There are more than a few memorable tracks throughout this series, and did well in adding to the atmosphere of this show.
All that being said, I do believe Un-go suffered because it was set to be only 11 episodes. The short length ended up making certain aspects to the show feel very rushed, with the ideas that the story was trying to convey getting lost sometimes. But when Un-go nailed an arc, it was honestly brilliant. It was witty, clever, mature, and smart about how it went about it’s story and cast. And of course, the stories were genuinely deep and thought provoking.
Overall Enjoyment: 8.6/10 (rounded up to a 9 on MAL) read more
11 of 11 episodes seen
This series, when you boil things down, is about parenting. To be more specific, the series' central focus is on Daikichi's growth as a parent, and how that gradually changes his perspective of many little details around him. While the premise itself sounds simple, the story progresses through Daikichi's new life with Rin in an extraordinarily realistic yet thought-provoking manner.
At the same time, the plot also explores some rather serious themes and ideas, all while balancing in the adorable antics of the cast. Darker themes such as single-parenthood, parents abandoning their children, divorce, and unhappy marriages, are all touched upon in this series. The balance between the serious and goofy moments in this series is superb, although this does somewhat break down near the end of the series.
Usagi drop is a rather unambitious series in a way, where it's not aiming for any sort of grand story. Yet it's the sheer simplicity of the story which makes this series so charming. We see little everyday moments like chopping up ingredients for dinner, or going shopping for a backpack, or jump roping in the local park, that makes for many memorable and charming moments. The chemistry between the main cast is great as well, and is gradually developed through the entire series. You really grow to sympathize with these characters as they grow up, and experience both their joyful and worrisome moments alongside them.
All in all, Usagi drop is a wonderful little slice of life series that was a relaxing and enjoyable watch. It proved to be an endearing series all the way until it's final moments, and brought plenty of smiles and laughter along the way. The anime does get a bit more overdramatic towards the end, yet it's believable enough to strike a chord with most viewers. Usagi drop explores it's themes in some rather clever ways, and has resulted in one of the most down-to-earth yet charming slice of life anime I've seen in a long time.
Overall Enjoyment: 8.6/10 (Rounded up to a 9 on MAL) read more
25 of 25 episodes seen
That being said, the story itself is rather simple when you break things down; there are guys that have superpowers, and they use them to fight evil. Only, the twist is that these heroes are sponsored by corporations, and their heroic exploits are followed on TV. It’s an interesting, light satire of modern day society, where everything is commercialized in some way or form.
Nevertheless, the heroes themselves were quite charming. To be more specific, “superheroes” are portrayed as very human figures, where each balance their crime-fighting duties with their own simple little problems. Common problems such as dealing with love, single parenthood, grieving for a lost friend, and paying the bills, are all part of the cast here, and makes them rather easy to relate to. On top of that, the gradual buildup of the chemistry between the awkward main cast eventually leads up to a rather close group of “hero” friends that help each other in their times of need, where they all work together to get things done. The flawed characters, and how they try to make up for their flaws by depending on their close friends, makes for a very endearing cast, especially when you consider everybody’s individual personalities. From the goofy Kotetsu to the stoic Barnaby, from the love-struck Blue rose to the hot-headed Bison, all of the heroes mesh together well to create a rather competent cast.
Unfortunately, while the cast itself is a joy to watch, I can’t say the same for the plot. The best way to describe the plot would be that it is “very convenient and chessy”. There are many individual arcs where the heroes solve smaller crimes, which are meant to highlight some of the unique character traits to the cast (or just show everybody goofing off in some way or form, lol). Many of these arcs, while they were silly fun, were also very cliche at times. The cliche-ness did make for some great character development, and added to the charm of the cast. Therefore, I could mostly look over the cheesiness.
However, it’s really the big main arcs where the story ends up very flawed. The main arcs are very dramatic, and makes for a compelling watch. And yet, at the same time, there are just so many convenient and coincidental factors that unfold during critical moments in these arcs. That in itself is lazy writing on Sunrise’s part, and while the arcs were captivating, at the same time they have quite a few areas they could’ve significantly improved in. Sometimes the arcs would get too trite and corny, which at times would detract from the viewing experience.
In the end, Tiger and Bunny is really a showcase for it’s stellar cast, where watching the bumbling journey of Wild Tiger and Barnaby proved to be the star attraction to this show. The real charm factor to this series are the characters, and their interactions throughout all 25 episodes. I know for a fact that I followed this series until the end because of the cast, such as the rather idealistic yet clumsy Kotetsu, the stubborn and hot-headed Barnaby, the naive yet earnest Kaede, and the rest of the cast. The plot here might not be the best out there, but Tiger and Bunny is enjoyable because of it’s flaws. Tiger and Bunny is an endearing tale of an upbeat, corny, goofy, and hardworking, bunch of heroes.
Overall Enjoyment: 8.0/10 read more
Jun 24, 2011Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shi... (Anime) add
11 of 11 episodes seen
From start to finish, this show has always been fully focused on building the characters, resulting in a realistic and well thought out main cast. It’s truly the characters that shine here, always building upon the complex character dynamics between everybody, and exploiting the character relationships for an emotional, powerful story. Certain characters did need more screentime and development (Poppo and Tsurumi), but even then this series gave us a decent feel for their emotional scars and issues. They were acting a bit out of character towards the end though, which could have been fixed if the duo had gotten more in depth development.
What this series really emphasizes well is just how powerful of an impact Menma has had on all of members of the main cast, and their unresolved issues and problems associated with her. It leaves no stone unturned, fully exploring the depth and complexity to a lot of the characters and their relationship with Menma, and not to mention does a good job with developing Menma herself.
Now the only real issue I had with this series is how at times the series was just way too overdramatic. The characters may have been excellently built up, but some of their interactions were a bit too unnatural. Especially during certain key episodes, the drama was almost nauseating at times. Even so, the story for the most part was excellent at setting up the situation, as well as delicately pushing forward everybody’s eventual confrontation with their emotional scars.
As for animation, there are no reused frames, fluid animation, and consistently drawn scenery and characters. And not to mention, quite a bit of the animation was easy on the eyes and enjoyable to look at. Nothing fancy, but definitely above average. Music was solid throughout the series, especially the noteworthy ending theme, which was a perfect fit for a lot of the scenes in this series.
As a coming of age story, Anohana was great at forming an admirable story with a believable and compelling cast. All the characters really brought out the best (and worst) in each other, and everybody’s gradually progression in this series is done at a natural, yet well-executed, pace. This is especially notable considering how, with only 11 episodes, this series didn’t waste even a single precious moment of time, managing to show that a series doesn’t necessarily have to be long to be good. The series did kind of wind down a bit towards the end, with some plot holes and predictability (and some ridiculous drama), but for the most part it was a very enjoyable ride.
Overall Enjoyment: 8.4/10 (rounded down to a 8 on MAL) read more
Jun 24, 2011Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai: Under the Innocent Sky... (Anime) add
12 of 12 episodes seen
To be fair, this show’s initial few episodes was very underwhelming, with very little things to note or to catch interest. It’s probably because of how the story seemed so all over the place, which made those initial few episodes feel very “lost”. And not to mention the nauseating fanservice, ugh (=_=); . After those first few episodes, though, things were straightened out rather quickly, and the story becomes surprisingly better. The fanservice was still there, but the plot itself starts to piece together slowly. In hindsight, a lot of the stuff that happened early on in the series makes so much more sense after seeing the major conflicts near the end. It really wasn’t until the revelation about the multiple personalities that the plot began to become much more compelling.
What I did appreciate about this series is that it tried to maintain a sense of seriousness and light-hearted moments, and while it tried to do it in a very unconventional, perverted-joke focused manner, this series created an admirable balance between the two. It’s not quite as good as how other series have been going about this balance (such as Steins;Gate), but the series does know how to transition between the serious and not-so-serious moments.
What I also liked about this series is how it didn’t spoonfeed everything to the viewers like a lot of modern anime do, and instead made you actually think a bit. The creators here followed the classic “show it, don’t tell it” dogma, and showed us the actual disconnect between reality and fantasy worlds via imagery and actual in-story events. It was really up to the viewer to piece together the puzzle, which actually made the series somewhat thought provoking at times. The series may have been confusing at times, but it’s probably because the writers didn’t make everything obvious, and actually required some thought to figure out the situation at hand. All in all, the story was strikingly well done (especially considering the harem-setup here), and the unique portrayal of the main character(s) added a real sense of reality and impact to the series as a whole.
As for the huge (perhaps even fatal) weakness to this series, is that while I understood what the fanservice scenes actually meant by the end of the series, that still made all of the fanservice scenes extremely unnecessary. It’s really pointless to have “fanservice with significance” if everybody will drop the series before they even figure out why it makes sense in the first place…
As for the other iffy issue about this series, it would definitely have to do with the main cast as a whole. While I enjoyed watching the interactions of the main cast for the most part, there were some characters that really, really, really needed more development. This series had a huge cast of characters, which led to some of them being very underdeveloped and in sore need of attention. Oh, and there were characters that I thought were really, really boring and generic (such as Takashi); that could have certainly used a bit of improvement. That, and the plot’s pacing was a bit too fast at times to let things really sink in.
In the end, this series wasn’t the best out there, but it definitely is underrated after all things are considered. It’s really the fanservice that makes this series extremely iffy, but if you could get past that, the plot could actually surprise you quite a bit. Admittingly, it seems that 12 episodes was not enough time to fully develop a good chunk of the characters in this series, which with a bit more buildup and development, would have made this series much better. A lot of the characters were pretty fun guys when all is said and done, and while some of the scenes in this anime are on the ridiculous side, the story itself was definitely one of the more well written and unique ones for this season.
Overall Enjoyment: 7.4/10 (rounded down to a 7 on MAL) read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
One of the charming aspects to this movie is, without a doubt, the amount of attention paid to the little details that makes the presence of little people so believable. The creative, yet simple, ways in which Arrietty and her family are portrayed are captivating, such as the little toolsets Arrietty’s family made in order to explore the “human” house. They use everyday items like fishing hooks, double-sided scotch tape, and spools of thread to create their own little sets of backpacks filled with tools they use to make their lives a little easier, and make the characters fascinatingly believable. The creativity and thought put into the tiny details are awesome, from the fishing hooks and scotch tape, to the little neat cubes of sugar that fits like a well-sized package in the hands of Arrietty.
What I really enjoyed about this movie is how it is told from the point of view of little Arrietty as opposed to the perspective of us “regular humans”. Simple things that you could find in your everyday backyard, from Arrietty’s perspective, all of a sudden have a grandiose feeling to them. Things such as a simple vine you could find creeping across the wall of any old house transforms into an intricate ladder of leaves and stems to the rooftops, or a field of grass and flowers becomes a vast forest. This movie takes your everyday backyard, and turns it into a vast new world to explore. It doesn’t hurt that the scenery and artwork was vibrant and lush with color.
The soundtrack is especially fitting for this movie. The absense of Joe Hisashi’s music in this Ghibli film is instantly noticable, and while some of the pieces here may lack a slight bit of the grandeur of Hisashi’s works, the soundtrack is still well done. What is a bit unusual here is how the soundtrack was actually done by Cécile Corbel, a French singer and Celtic harpist, who was a huge fan of Ghibli works and sent samples of her work to the studio. The Celtic influence in the soundtrack is immediately noticeable, but it was definitely an excellent choice on Ghibli’s part.
Characterization of the actual characters wasn’t exactly anything mindblowingly original or exotic, but the main cast was rather believable for the most part, and had their own charms to them. I found the innocently curious, yet straightforward and resolute attitude of Arrietty quite likable. Her rather odd relationship with Sho, as well as how Sho perceived her, turned out to be quite fascinating and, in a sense, admirable. The subtle tension between the elusive tiny people, and the gigantic humans, are played upon quite well here, which adds quite a few tense moments between Arrietty and Sho. I’d say characterization was quite tastefully handled here for the most part.
And now, for the biggest weakness for this movie. The plot progression and characterization were all fine and all, but the conflict and villain were practically a joke in terms of setup. Seriously, what grudge did old lady Haru have against the little guys? They didn’t explain in detail why she was hunting out the little people, giving only a flimsy excuse that they’re “theives” in a degrogatory tone. The villain just felt very underwhelming, and just doesn’t fit in with this movie’s atmosphere at all. The conflict was kind of discredited in my eyes because of the poorly integrated main antagonist, and there is certainly room for improvement here. Plot progression, while fine and all, was also rather slow at times. While I personally didn’t mind the slow pacing (it lets things sink in more), there were definitely plenty of slowly-paced scenes in this movie.
What makes Arrietty a great watch is the tremendous attention to the details of it’s setting, the beautiful art and music, and the wonderful direction for it’s characters. The plot is admittingly lacking (especially the major conflict, oh boy could it have used some more work), but as a premier film for a new director, this film turned out to be an pleasant surprise. The ending does feel very open ended, though, with a lot of loose ends that feel as if they have yet to be tied up. While the likelihood of a sequel for a Ghibli movie is very slim, I would be totally fine with a sequel for this particular movie.
Overall Enjoyment: 8.5/10 (Rounded up to a 9 on MAL) read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
My only complaint with the story is probably just due to the fact that I read the original light novel, so there are some details or relationship developments that felt a little different than the light novel counterpart. That being said, though, the movie also handled some scenes much better than the novel did, which I think is probably due to the inherent strengths of each medium (in this case, movie vs novel). While a novel can go into explicit detail about even the tiniest aspects of a story, a movie can’t do the same without accidentally dragging out the dialogue, so to speak. The movie, in that aspect, maintains a great balance in terms of dialogue and pacing. The key difference here is that there are some moments in the movie where the actions for the characters speak for themselves, even without any actual verbal description. This in itself made some scenes much more powerful than it’s novel counterpart, or at least that’s how I felt about those particular scenes.
Okay, now that I’ve got my “to light novel” comparison written down and out of the way, what about the movie itself? Well, considering it’s a two hour and forty minute long movie, the most immediately noticeable thing about the movie would be the animation quality. The production quality from Kyoto Animation is exceptional for this movie; they maintained great visual quality for the entirety of the movie, and considering it’s rather long length, that’s a big accomplishment right there. The music was also fully orchestrated, with plenty of nostalgic pieces from the original Haruhi series. Overall, the music and animation were good at setting the mood, but the real strength to the movie is definitely the characters.
What was done exceptionally well was the development of our characters, in particular Kyon, and to a slightly lesser degree, Nagato. The completely absurd situation Kyon gets thrown into really helps his quick-witted, slightly cynical personality really shine. His constant questioning of what’s going around him causes some visible changes in his actions, and really makes his progress rather charming to watch. There are moments that really make you appreciate Kyon’s witty comments, not only because they can make you laugh, but it really does show exactly what he feels about what’s going around him, and what he wishes it was. Along with that, Nagato’s development is a crucial part to the story. The story does a great job at being creative in developing her characterization, with some rather subtle development for Nagato as a result. She might rarely speak personal statements out loud, but the few lines she does say have a powerful impression, and really does a great job at showing just how much she has changed and developed.
All in all, the movie does an excellent job with progressing and revitalizing the Haruhi franchise, which took a huge hit from the endless eight arc that aired in the second Haruhi TV series. That being said, there is one bit of caution to note with regards to this movie; do NOT watch this movie unless you have either read the first few novels of the original series, or have watched the first two seasons of the Haruhi franchise. This movie builds up on a lot of previous events, so not being familiar with previous events is a terrible idea, if only for the fact that the impact of this movie would be much weaker. Overall, an excellent adaptation of a great story. Kudos to Kyoto Animation for animating this excellent story.
Production Quality: 9.5/10
Overall Enjoyment: 8.8/10 (Rounded up to a 9 on MAL) read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
The basic premise to the story is actually rather generic sounding, which originally rang off alarms in my head. Natsume, the main character, is a boy who was able to see youkai since his childhood. He inherits a book with the names of youkai written in it, and Natsume decides to return the names of the youkai to their respective owners.
While the story sounds typical, it's really the execution here that makes the series so endearing. The stories aren't very one-sided like one would expect, but rather, they are more balanced in perspective. It's easy to see how both Natsume (as a human) and the youkai (as spirits) both interact with each other and teach each other about the simple things in life. We learn about each of their respective hardships through their own perspectives, which adds some interesting insights to the main cast.
Each arc tends to have very retrospective, happy yet thought provoking endings, but at the same time this series doesn't hold back with it's melancholic, saddening arcs as well. This series touches upon simple themes in an unobtrusive, yet great way. It's amazing how powerful things such as a simple "thank you" or friendly "hello" could mean for some people, and this series does a great job at emphasizing such. This series may not always be very subtle about it's ideas, but it's certainly a series that you can easily relax to as you watch through it's endearing story arcs.
Artwork and music fit in almost perfectly with the general dream-like atmosphere to a lot of the series, adding gentle and pretty elements to the series as a whole. I can't say the music was exactly memorable, but it was very fitting for this series, and really contributed to the wonderful atmosphere this series had.
Notably, this series does have a rather slow pacing (similar to the famous Aria slice of life series), which means this is definitely not for people that can't stomach slow slice of life series. In a sense, Natsume Yuujinchou does require a bit of acquired taste, but that doesn't stop it from being a great series to just sit down and relax to. The atmospheric calmness to the setting, and the charms to the main cast, all add together in a wonderful little 13-episode package that certainly took me by surprise.
Overall Enjoyment: 8.3/10 (rounded down to an 8 on MAL) read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
Admittingly, the first half to this series isn’t really any different from the first two seasons of the anime. I could honestly just call the first half of the Origination as the “second season, part two” because of the inherent similarities.
However, it’s really the latter half of this season that really hits it home and brings everything together. The character development in the second half is the culmination of everything this series has come to represent, with the final moments we have with Akari, Alice, and Aika all the more endearing. Yet, at the same time, these endearing moments are saddening because you realize that the series is finally drawing to a close. In the end, though, the closure this season brings to the characters is just plain satisfying, and you truly do get the feeling that “life goes on” in the world of Aqua. The setting of Aqua has always felt very alive and vibrant, but this series also goes further to emphasize how this wondrous world lives on, no matter who may be the ones living there.
A great aspect to the character development here is that it isn’t limited to just the main trio of heroines. Almost every single significant side character, from Alicia to Akatsuki, from Akira to Athena, from Al to Grandma Akino, gets some rather well done proper closure. For a thirteen episode series, getting proper closure for a somewhat large cast of characters is a bit surprising, but I’m nevertheless glad it worked out so well.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the production values have improved here. The music remains a great complement to this series, with it’s rather vibrant, sometimes subtle, sometimes tainted in melancholy, musical pieces that adds a lot more feeling to the story. The animation really improved here as well, with quite a bit more detail added to the drawings and backdrops here. On a slightly unrelated side note, the added 16:9 widescreen aspect is a much welcomed change in my eyes.
Looking back, Aria as a franchise is a rather wonderful little slice of life series. Admittingly, the slow pacing is definitely not for everybody, but at the same time Aria is a great series to just sit down and relax to. I can easily see why people call Aria an “iyashiki-kei” (healing) anime. The atmospheric calmness to the setting, and the charms to the characters, all add together in a charming package that certainly took me by surprise. And finally, as a conclusion, I couldn’t have asked for the franchise to be closed off in any other way.
Overall Enjoyment: 8.7/10 (rounded up to a 9 on MAL) read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
What is nice here is the actual production values for the series. The animation is solid, and the art is really out there; the crazy Shinbo style witches really adds a unique flair to the atmosphere of this series, and does add a touch of that "bizarre, crazy" feeling that works so well here. There are the odd quirks to Shinbo's animation style all over the place here, but if you could get over all of that, the artwork was surprisingly fitting for this series. The Hidamari sketch-styled character designs did feel a bit awkward at first, but after a few episodes it's rather easy to adjust to. The music to this series was just as good, with Yuki Kajiura's soundtrack here doing a great job at complementing some of the haunting scenes. I'll admit that it's not her best work, but some of the music adds much more depth to certain scenes here. The music also contributes greatly to the overall atmosphere, and I have to say, the music and animation fits the darker-toned story itself very well.
The story itself does have it's flaws here and there, with a select few pacing issues early on. That pretty much got ironed out by the third or fourth episode, though, and the story just kept piling on the intrigue from there onwards. What was Kyuubey? What were the witches? What is Walpurgis nacht? All the questions that this show kept prompting, in combination with some stunningly haunting scenes and moments, created a compelling plot that was worth following through until the end. The mysteries here all kept the series gripping, always managing to perk curiosity. The finale, in all it's grandiosity, was truly unique and unexpected. The scale at which it happens, and the huge implications of it all, was a pretty epic, bittersweet, yet satisfying finale. Of course, the finale does feel too "convenient" and "happily ever after" in some ways, but I personally feel it is a fitting way to end such a depressing series with a bit of hope.
Now the biggest contributor here, yet also the biggest flaw, would be the characters. There were some pretty well fleshed out characters, such as Kyoko, and Sayaka, but there were also some rather odd twists to some of the cast. For one, while Akemi Homura was indeed one of my favorite characters here, the extremely sudden change in character around episode 9-10 felt very out of place. Yes, I do understand there are good reasons behind why she suddenly changed in personality (or perhaps the better description would be she stopped hiding her real personality), but her sudden change from stoic, cool-headed Akemi to "Madoka, Madoka!" crying Akemi was a huge shift that could have been transitioned into a bit better. What was lacking here was a sense of character development for the two main characters to this series, Akemi and Madoka, whereas Kyoko and Sayaka got much more development as characters. Don't confuse character development with likability here; Akemi and Madoka both turned out to be very memorable characters, it's just that they don't get much of their character development until literally the last two or three episodes.
The big thing that must be noted here is that Kyuubei has to be one of the best villains we have seen in a long time. The way in which his intentions were slowly, but surely, revealed to Madoka and the others just heightened the tremendous impact his presence had in this show. For an evil white furball, Kyuubei was probably the most interesting, attention-captivating character in the entire series. Without his presence, the plot would have probably lost much of it's compelling aspect, so I do have to give credit where credit it due.
All in all, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica redefines the entire magical girl genre in many ways; it took the stereotypical "girls get magical powers" idea, and twists it into a compelling, dark plot that captivated audiences all over the world. It introduces the idea that not all magical girl shows need to be happy, sugary affairs. And in the end, this series introduces a breathtakingly original, very gripping human tale.
Overall Enjoyment: 8.8/10 read more