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5 of 5 episodes seen
Be advised: The first and last OVA are nothing like the rest of this short series. They serve as comedic buffers to the main storyline in which humor makes virtually no appearances at all. In light of this, some viewers may see these episodes as out of place and understandably so. If you are a fan of the brand of humor Higurashi had at the beginning of its arcs, then you’ll be right at home here. Both episodes are full of pretty good laughs, and that’s saying something for a series that is more known for shocking its viewers. If it’s not your cup of tea, then feel free to skip them. The remaining episodes make little to no reference of either one, so critical information won’t be lost.
With that out of the way, the focal point of this OVA can shine. The Dice Killing Arc, which consists of the middle three episodes, is everything that Kai could have and should have been. The storytelling displayed here is done exceptionally well, as everything moves at a decent clip. There isn’t an opportunity to slow down due to the short length of this arc, so each event cuts to the chase and moves on without having to resort to pointless dialogue or reiterated ideas to fill the gap. Despite the increased pacing, Rei never loses track of itself or advances too quickly to the point where information is lost. A note also has to be made for the vastly improved art and animation. Rei takes full advantage of an OVA’s increased budget and sports some very vibrant colors and smooth frame rates throughout its run. It’s nice to finally see a chapter of this franchise rendered with more attention to artistic detailing.
Suspense can be a tricky storytelling element to use; if it is used too much, then the story can drag for unnecessarily long periods of time and become tedious to watch. Thankfully, Rei handles this aspect wonderfully. No time is wasted between each reveal, which keeps things fresh on the plotline. As each pro or con of the new world is revealed, the situation becomes more engrossing, and the viewer is pulled even further into Rika’s shoes. The ultimatum that she faces is one that anyone would have trouble answering. This new Hinamizawa is Rika’s equivalency of the Garden of Eden; it is the world without sin or tragedy that she has desired for her entire existence without the sacrifices that had to be made to get it. Watching her agonize over which world is the correct one to choose left me hanging on the edge of my seat and made me wonder what I would do in her situation. That kind of connection with a character is a strong device to use, and it is used perfectly.
Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Rei takes the pacing of the first season, the suspense of the second season, and combines them both in a neat, little package that doesn’t fail to deliver a solid story. With or without the first and last episodes, this series still brings some redemption to the franchise and vaults itself high on my list of recent OVA releases at the same time.
6 of 6 episodes seen
There's a reason why people say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".
The problems began no more than five minutes into episode 1, when I was introduced to the apparent main focus of this OVA: Ecchi. Now ecchi, in moderation, isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the T&A in Knights of Ramune makes its presence known about as subtly as an air horn in a library. Not even the opening and first ending sequences are safe, with both featuring numerous pans of Cacao's and Parfait's assets. No amount of fan service was able to cover for the actual plot, which is your typical 'Save the world from impending doom' fare with more questions than answers. Why was Ramunes chosen as the Giga Genos leader? Why is he so adamant in taking over the galaxy? Why do Parfait and virtually every other woman have to be naked to pilot the mobile suits? Couple that with a plot twist that could be seen a mile away, and you have the makings of your textbook shoddy plot.
It's not easy to watch an anime when you can't sympathize for any of the characters, and Knights of Ramune is a prime example of this. We're given a slew of one dimensional characters, including our very own heroines, who are about as forgettable as they come. Attempts are made later to give some background to Ramunes and his lover Electone, but it's far too shallow and far too late to be able to save face. The seiyuu cast is no better, with Yuko Miyamura (Evangelion's Asuka) and Takeshi Kusao (Lodoss' Parn) among the bigger names who displayed flat performances.
There were, however, a few glimmers of goodness in this sea of mediocrity. The art and animation, in general, were decent. Though it was far from groundbreaking, it wasn't entirely atrocious either. Even though the first ending was a poor excuse to show more T&A, the second ending theme, "Hoshi Furuyoi no Monologue", was an enjoyable piece of vocal music, and I actually looked forward to hearing it as the second batch of episodes would end. After episode 4, the rampant ecchi is also taken back a bit, though it's far from enough to get this series out of the hole it dug itself.
Hardcore ecchi fans will get the most enjoyment from this series, but everyone else should stay far away. Make no mistake, Knights of Ramune is still a very poor OVA series and an even poorer representation of the Ramune franchise. read more
24 of 24 episodes seen
Though there are 24 episodes in the series, each episode is about eleven minutes long, and two of those minutes are used for the opening theme. With the remaining nine minutes, a story is hastily attempted to be woven. Unfortunately, focus on the plot is lost, and the show quickly falls to the lowest common denominator: shameless fan service. I lost count at the number of panty shots and "accidental" groping situations. It's a shame, really. If more time were spent on the whole "Aura" concept, then Psychic Academy could have become a decent series.
At the same time, not everything was horrible. There were a few decent moments of comedy sprinkled here and there, and some moments between Orina and Ai were genuinely nice. Beyond that, much of what went on between the characters was rather forgettable. Being aired solely on the internet, the budget constraints were obvious. The animation was poor at best throughout the series' run. Going along with that was the horribly out of place CGI effects. I use CGI lightly; the special effects looked more like something out of a Flash program.
While there are certainly worse anime out there with a short run time *cough*Legend of Duo*cough*, Psychic Academy is not much better. Though you won't waste too much time if you do decide to watch anyway, it is still time better spent on better anime. read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
Where do I begin? For starters, the animation is pretty pathetic. Every single trick in the book is used, and none of them prove to be useful. Still shots and long sweeping pans? Check. Camera shaking? Check. Large supplies of reused stock character images with only the mouths moving? Check yet again. Every visual cue screams low budget. I will, however, give this anime one thing. The static art, which is frequently seen throughout the series, is rather nice and detailed. It's a shame that it has to be paired with such attrocious animation.
Other low budget anime, such as Violinist of Hamlin, are at least able to make up for the lack of animation with a moving and engaging storyline. LoD, however, cannot accomplish the same, though one can say that this is because each episode is only five minutes long. Too much story is crammed into too little time, making the series feel downright rushed and sloppy in execution. I found myself struggling to care about what was happening to the characters on the screen, not to mention their names afterwords. The music used in LoD did nothing to help, with what seemed like only two tracks being played in each episode: one for intensity and one for drama.
To put it simply, Legend of Duo is nothing short of awful. Never before in an anime did five minutes seem like an eternity. Perhaps this is the reason why vampires don't make more appearances in anime. read more
64 of 64 episodes seen
The one major thing that Dragonball GT suffers from is an identity crisis. It starts off as a primarily comedy anime with action as a secondary, something that worked very well for Dragonball and occasionally worked here as well. Unfortunately, the series received poor ratings, mainly because everyone wanted more action and less goofing off. At about Episode 17, the focus shifted from comedy to action, and that's also when the plot started to suffer. It's difficult to be original when one uses plot devices that have been seen in so many other anime, not to mention done better. And as well all know, with a lack of originality comes boredom. At least this series is "only" 64 episodes in length, so it's not as much of a chore to sit through as, say, Dragonball Z.
On an more positive note, the art and animation received a nice upgrade. Some of the character designs are a bit iffy, but it's still passable. The music is also rather good, especially the opening, DAN DAN Kokoro Hikareteku, and all four endings. I can safely say that I enjoy listening to all five songs on a regular basis. The fights are enjoyable more often than not, though once again, I've seen better...much better.
It may be far from perfect, but Dragonball GT at least makes an attempt to be entertaining. If you still want to watch, then by all means, go for it. Just don't expect too much, and enjoy the opening and endings as they come. read more
153 of 153 episodes seen
One huge reason why this anime holds its own is that the entire franchise is in its infancy. There are no Super Saiya-jin stages to worry about, and the fights aren’t stretched out to their barely tolerable limits. The various quests that the young Z-Senshi embark on are just that: quests. There are no interstellar enemies to fight (early on), and the majority of the time spent is on the team simply trying to find the dragonballs. The comedic element in Dragonball shines just as brightly and flows smoothly with the story. The characters have such a genuinely portrayed chemisty between each other. Dragonball never seems to take itself too seriously, allowing the viewer to sit back and enjoy the ride.
For a twenty-year-old series, Dragonball looks the part. Time has taken its toll, as the art and animation haven’t aged very well, though by 1980's standards, it's pretty good. On the other hand, the fights are better planned out, particularly during the Tenkaichi Budokai. Instead of the “beat-down-to-the-brink-of-death-only-to-tap-in-to-a-hidden-power-and-win-at-the-last-second” routine, combatants actually have flaws and human weaknesses, including Goku. Some are actually enjoyable with comedic moments placed within them. As the series begins its final arc, however, we begin to sees shades of the future for this franchise. Fights begin to grow longer and longer and the comedy slowly begins to wane.
Like I said earlier, it’s a real shame that this series gets such a bad reputation because of its successors. Sure, it eventually parts into its lackluster sequels, but as the saying goes, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’ Dragonball is a fun series that should be worth anyone’s time, be you a newcomer or a seasoned veteran. read more
6 of 6 episodes seen
Right from OVA 1, I knew that this anime was something special. The art and animation varies from smooth and polished to crazy and gnarled in a heartbeat, yet it still keeps a certain level of artistic genius. Scenes are rendered in bright, vivid colors that draw the viewer right into the action. I also can’t say enough how much I love the soundtrack. The Pillows’ rocking tunes mixes and blends perfectly with every moment that appears on the screen. The ending theme, “Ride on Shooting Star”, is most certainly one of my all time favorite songs.
FLCL boasts one of the fastest moving stories around, and keeping up with it can be an issue at time. Just like Evangelion, this series is chock full of symbolism and underlying themes and will most likely leave viewers asking themselves, ‘What the hell just happened?’. If you can keep up, though, then you’re in for a treat. Gainax pulls no punches when parodying Japanese or American pop culture, be it Lupin III or our very own South Park. The seiyuu fit perfectly with their respective characters. I even have to say that this is one of the few anime out there that also has a great English dub as well, a feat that I thought only Cowboy Bebop could accomplish.
If you’ve seen the series already, watch it again and see what else you can find the second time around. If you haven’t, pick it up and join the fun. FLCL stands in a league of its own as an anime that has no bounds to what it can deliver to its viewers. read more
27 of 27 episodes seen
For some reason, I could not get into the original Lodoss, try as I may. However, Chronicles had me hooked from episode one, despite the fact that the first batch of episodes are basically a rehashed version of the OVA storyline. Fair warning though; don’t get used to seeing Parn and Deedlit in every episode. After the introduction, it’s as if the original Lodoss story never happened. A new cast, and a large one at that, is introduced with new enemies and new motives. While it was great to see that the producers took the time to make sure that no one was just another nameless warrior, keeping track of a cast this size proved to be a daunting task. The story to go along with this new group was equally complex, but very intriguing and captivating. That is, until the end of the episode, when super-deformed versions of the characters make a parody of the story just displayed. It was funny at first, but then became just plain annoying and took away from the real storyline.
Probably the brightest star of this series is, arguably, the music. Yoko Kanno, already famous for her work in such titles as Ghost in the Shell: Stand alone Complex and Vision of Escaflowne, whips up a fantastic orchestral score to fit every scene on the screen, making this series pleasing on the ears. The opening and ending themes, Kiseki no Umi and Hikari no Suashi, are a joy to listen to every time they play and are definitely two of my favorite anime themes. The animation sequences to go along with them were stunning. It’s a bit of a shame that the series couldn’t have the same luster in its animation. By no means am I saying that the animation is bad. I was just a little disappointed at the dip from the opening and ending sequences to the series.
If you liked the original Lodoss, then by all mean, pick up Chronicles of the Heroic Knight. It’s just about everything that the OVA was and better. Just skip the last three minutes of each episode and enjoy the ending theme instead. read more
2 of 2 episodes seen
I can honestly say that this anime did have a decent introduction. The narration, read over stills of maps and old pictures, paints a picture of a potentially decent story. The instant the real animation starts, however, all of the hype is lost in a sea of dismembered corpses. When I say sea, I mean it. The amount of blood and gore in these 2 OVA alone is more than enough to almost give Berserk and Elfen Lied a run for their money; even two children are slaughtered and their decapitated heads are shown to the viewer. If you think that these action scenes are well animated, think again. For a 1998 OVA, the animation is horrific, using stills to simulate the ninja “dashing” by and killing guards along the way. Let’s also not forget the gratuitous sex scenes that do absolutely nothing for the main story line and are equally difficult, if not more so, to stomach. Though the gloomy style of art fits well enough, it is no where near enough to bring this title out of mediocrity.
To make matters worse, Ninja Resurrection is historically based. If the producers would have stuck to the time period in question, this series may have gone down a bit easier. Instead, they decide that Jubei’s crew should have a little help in their battles. The ninjas somehow come across the wonders of 20th century technology in their fight against Shiro and his followers; one ninja even sports a rocket launcher (Yes, you read correctly) and another flies overhead with the aid of a jet pack. Keep in mind, folks, that this anime is taking place in the Japan of the 1600’s.
I really can’t say anything more without repeating myself. If you want a good series based off of real Japanese history, pick up something like Rurouni Kenshin instead. However, if you’re a masochist, then by all mean, pick up Ninja Resurrection at your own risk. Fair warning though, this might even be too painful for a masochist to watch. read more
May 10, 2008Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon SuperS Gaiden: Ami-cha... (Anime) add
1 of 1 episodes seen
Whereas the TV series focuses mainly around Usagi, it is Ami that is at the center of attention this time around. She even starts off the movie by telling about what she likes and dislikes, as well as her hobbies and home life. As everything progresses, more of Ami’s personality is shown; everything from her serious scholarly attitude to her comical and light-hearted side is shown in this short amount of time. It’s nice to see that at least one of the other senshi has a deeper personality than what is shown otherwise. That’s not to say that the others are left in the complete background. Everyone does their part to make this anime a nice little treat. The way the others try to help Ami is just as any friend would try to do, and it never fails to put a smile on my face and make me chuckle when I watch them. Though the plot may seem to be a little bit on the simpler side of the spectrum, it doesn’t need to be complex at all. There’s something in this anime for just about anyone: A nice story about friends, a little love thrown in, and plenty of light-hearted comedy.
At the same time, however, there just isn’t enough time to make much anything else happen with the given amount of time. In essence, this is a mini episode of Sailor Moon, complete with transformation and attack, though none of this comes from Usagi at all. With that in mind, fans of the show and/or Sailor Mercury will get the most enjoyment out of this one, though just about anyone should be able to get some kind of enjoyment out of this anime. On the technical side, Ami-Chan is no slouch at all. The art and animation receives a nice boost, as colors are much brighter here than in the TV series, and though the music is the same from the TV series, it does its job just fine.
If you’re a fan of the series or just in need of a fifteen minute deviation from life, give Ami-Chan’s First Love a go. Who knows, maybe you’ll remember how you reacted to your first love too. read more