26 of 26 episodes seen
These are some of the most beautiful pieces of animation ever made, and from this day forward, Ninja Slayer will be amended to that list.
Edit: With the inclusion of a spectacular dub by Funimation, this anime is now on its own list, its own transcendent list.
Studio Trigger(aka "the good parts of Gainax") have a storied history of taking risks. They're absolutely fearless in their work, and have brought about some of the most influential series to come from the Eastern Hemisphere. Ninja Slayer is no different, being a dynamic, daring take on the "ninja anime" genre that oozes with style and rarely used animation techniques that show how seasoned the staff is.
Underneath all the flash and glam is a wonderfully, thoroughly crafted world full of culture and characters that I'm sure, like Cowboy Bebop, will be remembered for decades to come. The anime has also established Kenji to be a strong, multifaceted main character: A ninja, who swears to kill all ninja. What lies at the end of this road of vengeance he travels? So many questions and potential conflicts set up, and only 26 10-minute episodes to answer them.
The soundtrack is also something else. Boom boom Satellites do a stunning OP, and the BGM is an eclectic mix of electronic rock and traditional Japanese string stylings from some of the best artists in the business.
I can say one thing for certain: Ninja Slayer will be remembered long after every show from Spring 2015 ends.
Oh my buddha. read more
Also, if you're looking, no scanlations exist for this, so go out and buy the Dark Horse releases if you want to read it in English (highly recommended)
We're gonna start by talking about the author. Yasuhiro Nightow is one of very few manga authors who is almost completely incomparable in style and content. Nightow is an Americanaphile. He loves action figures, super heroes, Spawn and American popcorn movies, and all of that shows in his approach to art and writing. While his content is very American, Nightow's method of drawing that content in action is perhaps more Japanese than any Japanese works I've ever read. He generally just doesn't "do" plain square panels or simple dialogue scenes. His paneling is completely unlike most other mangaka, where he relies more on dynamic panels of all size and shape, crazy angles, negative space and very little dialogue, and the reader has to interpret his drawings and how they organically flow into each other to infer what's happening. When you enter into a Nightow work, it's an investment. He is a visual storyteller, and like you reread poetry, you'll reread Nightow's work and each time the action becomes clearer and more rewarding. It's why I enjoy owning BBB and Trigun Maximum so much, I reread them constantly. If you're only getting the story and the dialogue out of his manga, you're only experiencing about 30% of what actually happened.
Now, the manga is Blood Blockade Battlefront, and I guarantee you it's unlike anything else you're going to read, probably ever. It's action-packed. It's hilarious. It's horrifying. It's abstract. It's oddly relate-able. It's a superhero story. It's a slice of life story. It has no plot progression. It has great characterization. It's a cross between Ugly Americans, Hellboy and Durarara!! that's completely off-the-rails.
The story takes place in New York City after a portal to the Beyond opened and turned the place into a hellscape of demons, monsters and the downright abstract. Life is normal. NYC is now a hub where the ordinary and utterly fantastic have lunch next to each other at the diner down the street, and where sometimes the fate of the world is being decided right around the corner. Now called Jerusalem's Lot, it's honestly as much a central character of this series as much as it is the setting. The whole concept of this manga wouldn't work if the city weren't so intricate, yet so completely out of logic's reach at the same time. Nightow goes far out of his way to explore the culture, the locations and the denizens and factions of this place and it never becomes less interesting. His imagination is boundless.
The central movers and shakers here are the members of "Libra," a top-secret crime-fighting outfit that makes sure all the demi-gods and powerful organizations floating around don't destroy the world somehow. They're a band comprised of super-powered misfits, martial artists, vampire hunters, mercenaries and one kid named Leonard. The manga progresses by showing the members of Libra taking on some unwieldy problems beyond imagination (except for Nightow's apparently), such as a giant car-eating monster car rampaging through the city, or someone's brain getting stolen, or trying to find somewhere to eat for lunch in the weirdest city in the universe.
Let's break them down:
Leonard(o) "Watchman Leo" Watch: The protagonist of the series who came to the city to uncover the mystery of why a giant monster came out of an interdimensional vagina to blind his sister and give him the Eyes of God in exchange. Yeah. He's just kind of a normal goober, with the Eyes of God. That is, he has super awesome eyes that can do all sorts of tricks like swapping sight with someone or swapping sight with /everyone/. He's the relate-able human kid who's just trying to adjust when he suddenly becomes part of the supernatural Avengers.
Klaus Von Reinhertz: The other protagonist of the series, the Optimus Prime to Leo's Spike Witwicky (had to look that one up). Klaus is a 7ft tall brick shithouse of gentlemanly strength and serves as Libra's fearless leader. He's kind, honest to a fault, impossibly stubborn and utterly unbreakable. He's possibly not even the most powerful member of Libra, his DEF and HP stats are just through the roof on top of being able to punch your head clean off. I like Klaus, he's an interesting spin on the leader archetype.
Zap Renfro: He's Bender from Futurama, with a sword and fire powers. He's a good "simultaneously competent badass/comic relief" character. Many of the stories feature him and Leo palling around, and in general this character is "the life of the party" when compared to his more professional, moral cohorts.
Chain Sumeragi: The spy of the party, she's an "Invisible Werewolf", a type of being who's able to do all sorts of things like go really, really fast, phase through things and disappear out of existence on a whim. She's normally stoic, but also a bitchy sadist and it's great. She kinda looks like a genderbent Wolfwood.
Stephen A. Starphase: Libra's second-in-command and someone not to be fucked with. A foil to Klaus' obliviousness, he's basically Scarface, but a pretty nice guy on the surface. He has ice-based powers and can kick pretty good.
K.K.: Enter BulletMom. K.K. feels like a Tarantino character, she's a doting, eye patch-wearing mom, and she has lightning guns to shoot you with.
Brody&Hammer: Probably my favorite character(s). One day Doug Hammer was a handsome guy minding his own business, then some crazy bitch mashes a dude named Deldro Brody into a paste and replaces Doug's blood with him. The result is that they are now the BBB version of the Hulk, where Doug can summon Brody from inside himself to form a gigantic exoskeleton to punch things. He/they spend most of their time in jail, and Libra ask for them to be released when something big needs to be punched.
Gilbert F. Alstein: Combat Butler who looks like a mummy. He's Libra's driver and all around great guy. He generally fits the Alfred (Batman)/Norman (Big O) archetype, which is honestly fine, with the added coolness of being functionally immortal.
Zed O'Brien: He's a merman! Mainly a serious foil to Zap's asshatting, he's pretty cool.
The cast feels like a great superhero team. One of my favorite aspects to the characterization in this series is that Nightow doesn't do hamfisted flashbacks. Just like the setting, his methods here are "show, don't tell." We're introduced to most of the cast as if we already know them, and they don't get traditional introduction arcs, and over time through seeing them interact with each other, you learn more about them organically. Each character in BBB is reasonably complex, but they don't have their personal data handed to you in a handy list format. Even Leo, who is the only character with a showcased origin story, has most aspects of his power and their true nature shrouded in mystery. And that's cool, because the series is about the characters and their day-to-day lives, not the exposition.
Blood Blockade flows in mini arcs, or episodes. Some sort of weird problem is happening in Jerusalem's Lot, like a bacteria-sized evil scientist that's making somebody huge for some reason, and some members of Libra assemble to save the day using similarly odd methodologies. These episodes are usually very character-focused and serve to expand on a Libra member's personality or past, or the relationship between two characters. When an arc ends, a new one begins, and the series continues in a very episodic pattern. Though there is definitely over-arching continuity, there is pretty much no hard-set, serious ongoing story. It's a slice of life series, but not the kind you're probably used to. BBB uses its episodic structure to its advantage, keeping things really fresh all the time, and its investment into its own characters and setting makes you want to continue to find out more about them.
On the art: Nightow has some of the best panel flow in the business. His art is completely organic, where panels change shape with what's going on, and action is told entirely visually with little to no supporting dialogue as a crutch. He tackles much more complex, ambitious movements and action sequences than 99% of other mangaka and he deserves props for that. His fights and chase scenes use the environment, background objects, and all sorts of angles and negative space to tell a story. All of his sequences make perfect sense, but you can't half-assedly skim his work and immediately absorb everything that happens like most other manga. The man is a scientist of visual storytelling, and you have to learn and adapt to his style.
The actual designs of characters and environments are fabulous. The author has a signature style for heroes, creatures and mechanical things, and they always look really, really cool and/or out-of-this-world. He puts sharp detail into pretty much everything, while at the same time knowing how to not clutter a panel or a page. He's not very good at drawing 'moe' or women in the traditional anime sense, but it's part of his charm. But man, you can spot a Nightow monster design from miles away, the perfect mix of completely bizarre and clearly functional. Many of Leonard's friends are non-human, and some don't even have faces, but Nightow is still able to give them a full range of emotions, movements and understandable behavior which is very impressive considering that there are plenty of mangaka who can barely emote their human characters.
All of this is why I was surprised when this series got announced for an anime adaption. Not only is it completely obscure, but it's also nigh unadaptable: There's no story, the visuals are too complex, the concept is too abstract, and the action relies heavily on Nightow's skills as a comic illustrator and his panels can't just be copy/pasted into storyboards like Naruto's. That said, the anime is absolutely beautiful and is doing a great job, the manga is however, a completely different experience.
Above all though, this manga is fun. Just plain fun. And that's what it's really trying to be. It's not a Hero's Journey like Trigun or a bullet-riddled revenge tale like Gungrave, it's its own thing: one part superhero comic, one part Seinfeld, one part Pan's Labyrinth, and all parts Nightow. read more
25 of 25 episodes seen
"Ha, I bet those glass-eyed imbeciles are getting bored, let's put in another lesbian threesome."
"No, not yet. Only after we show the loli whipping someone again."
That said, it's one of the best things I've seen out of this studio in years. With a big "Fuck you, Sunrise.", let's go into this.
Cross Ange is a lot of different things. Cross Ange is a magical princess show about knights and dragons. Cross Ange is a prison drama. Cross Ange is Mean Girls. Cross Ange is borderline yuri hentai. Cross Ange is Gundam Seed. Cross Ange is a catharsis for the type of person who has a Fetlife account. Cross Ange is what would happen if you made a Princess Peach anime starring Ronda Rousey. Cross Ange is proof that not only will Mizuki Nana play any role, but that she is also good at it. Cross Ange is anime madlibs where your only word choices are "lesbians", "dragons" and "kill".
The actual premise of the story is that a pampered princess named Angelise, a thoroughly awful person, is thrown out of her castle and put in an all-ladies jail when it's found out that she's a fraud. She's then forced to pilot a Gundam and fight dragons, because. And then she's bullied, molested or beaten up a lot, until she finally becomes "Ange", the greatest main character to ever appear in a Sunrise mecha show. Then the story becomes about rebellion, alternate timelines and dimensions, fighting god, virtual realities, and uhhhhh... Yeah. The story progresses through a flurry of ridiculous plot twists, comically evil villainous acts, and lesbian sex scenes. It's certainly not boring, but you will hate yourself for watching it. One of my favorite things about this series is what they do with the episode previews, where the characters break the 4th wall and banter about how ridiculous all this shit is.
My other favorite thing is that there are dragons in this show. But they're not dragons, they're DRAGONs, and they're called that because they're DRAGONs and not because they're dragons.
But really, the legitimate thing you're watching this for is Ange. Ange is amazing. She's logical, pessimistic, she cheats, she'll insult you and everything you stand for, disarm you and then shoot you through the face, twice. She's so out of the norm for an anime protagonist I can barely deal. She doesn't want harmony, she wants destruction. She wants to demolish everything that's wronged her. She's not a victim. The show is called "Cross Ange" because she's cross about 90% of the time. She is the one who knocks.
The rest of the cast is surprisingly good too. Cross Ange does a competent job at giving you multifaceted, developing characters to feel things about, even if those feelings are mostly hatred and/or pity. The other central females are almost all emotionally damaged in some way or another, and are in contrast to Ange, very fragile people. I thought this was very interesting, because not only is Ange a strong, domineering, unbreakable character on her own, but those qualities shine even more when you slowly see the deep-seated problems with everyone around her.
This series only has like two male characters. One of them is Kira Yamato from Gundam Seed, except that he's completely useless and a stooge 90% of the time. If you're ever worried about Ange being overshadowed or saved by her boyfriend, don't worry, he's the bottom in the relationship. This was also refreshing. Except for near the end where he actually starts doing things, that was lame and subverted a lot of the good things about his character and the show as a whole.
The other major male character is the central villain, Fetus-kun, who is also the most self-aware jab at otaku I've ever seen. The whole premise of his character is that he's his own OC, and is looking for the perfect waifu. It's insulting and hilarious at the same time, just like the rest of the series.
Animation-wise, Ange looks pretty okay at its best, and pretty bad at its worst. Gundam Unicorn this is not. The character and mech designs are also pretty bland, making the series not seem like anything relevant when looked at out-of-context.
The audio's good. Nothing to write home about. You get a bunch of Mizuki Nana and stuff. I can't recall much of the BGM at all even though I watch this series week by week. The recurring insert song sung by Ange is pretty memorable.
Cross Ange is a big damn spectacle with one of the best female leads in any anime. It's ridiculous and stupid, and even Sunrise probably hates you for watching it, so that means you should. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
I'm going to miss this show, it was a lot of fun. Genuine, good fun with a truly memorable cast and a over-the-top, jankily-animated style, and we probably won't see anything on-par with it for a long time. The final episode's audiovisual appeal is on-par with the best of series, with fluid action, cheap-but-hilarious animation shortcuts in between, and a bit of time with every good track from the stellar OST.
Even after the final battle there were a lot loose ends in regards to the characters, and this nails down pretty much all of them.
Satsuki coming to grips with her main goal in life being resolved?
Her and the Elite 4 acting evil coming back to bite them?
Ragyo's other accomplice who never got any screentime in the series?
The scissor blade?
The characters' graduation from Honnouji?
All covered, answered and more! The "this is a school battle anime" premise is neatly tied up in a bow, there's plenty of final call-backs to previous events in the story, and yeah. This is really what Kill la Kill needed, a flawless end to a semi-flawed series, and that's why I'm giving it a 10.
We've all graduated, and now we can look back on our time with this show fondly. read more
Aug 15, 2014Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: In the Distance, That ... (Anime) add
13 of 13 episodes seen
"Musical Bitches Symphogear", as it's named on my PC, was one of my most complex human-anime relationships. On one hand, it was helmed by the man who brought me Wild Arms, my favorite RPG series of all time, and some of the people behind Oban Star Racers, one of my all time favorite pieces of animation. On the other hand, it was a hastily-made, awkward and janky show that had no idea what it was doing other than attempting to ride on the Madoka hype train.
When "Symphogear G: The Musicvengeance" was announced I remember exclaiming "NOOOOO" because of how dumb the first series ended. But then episode 1 aired, and I watched it. And I was deeply confused.
Week after week, episode after episode, I sank deeper and deeper into confusion until I realized it was probably the most fun thing I watched in all of 2013, next to Kill la Kill.
Symphogear G is pretty much a soft reboot of the series. It comes in swinging with a big, fancy animation budget that did not exist in season 1, took out all the bullshit whiney drama and school stuff, and really came into itself as a fast-paced action series about J-pop singers with super robot powers. It introduces an actual villain, a rival set of characters, has an awesome new OP, and a plot twist at the end of every single episode. It's a fun, rollercoaster ride of a show that knew exactly what it was doing.
It not only surpasses the original, but it simultaneously redeems it.
THE STORY picks up from where season 1 left off, I guess. Our yellow girl, blue girl and red girl are going around doing rocket punches and super missile attacks against swarms of fodder enemies while staging extremely elaborate J-Pop concerts. All is normal.
And then there's a new team of evil, rival Symphogears! Holy shit! It's like Sonic Heroes, but AWESOME. And then there's a mad scientist who wants to do evil shit in between the scenes where he's ham acting and making hilarious faces! INTRIGUE!
The original story was all about the Symphogear girls being these bleak final guardians of humanity against goofy-looking fodder "Noise" creatures, and if they sang too hard, they died. But it was also about them being pop stars and with super powers activated by singing J-pop. This new story pretty much ditches all of the former and just makes the show fun by playing up the latter. It focuses all of the drama on the characters facing off against each other and fighting evil and stuff, like it really should have been in the first place.
Not to say that much is retconned; the plot is also laced with tons references to the original series. There's a kung fu training montage and everything!
THE CHARACTERS are very enjoyable.
Hibiki, who was once a whiny pacifist dealt a cruel fate, is now a hotblooded hero who knows kung-fu, uses it, and also does super rocket punch attacks. She's always positive and kind of badass. Real classic shounen hero here.
Tsubasa is still "the Mizuki Nana character", but is no longer an emo swordsmistress in mourning who hates her status as a human weapon. Now she's just the older sister/straight man of the trio and acts all cool. She also has a motorcycle.
Chris is no longer an emotionally abused rival girl looking to repent. Instead, she's a super moe, food-loving, out-of-shape, hot-blooded, missile launching, gatling gun-shooting, huge-breasted waifu. She is the best girl.
AND THEN THERE'S CHIEF GENJURO, who still has LION HAIR, still goes "GUNGNIR-DATO?!" and still TUCKS HIS TIE INTO HIS FRONT POCKET. But this season, HE SINGS TOO
And then there's the Chief's assistant, and Tsubasa's manager. I don't know his name, as he is a minor character, but he's important to mention here because he embodies everything this series does right. In the first season, he's Tsubasa's manager and Genjuro's assistant guy. In this season, he's a fucking /ninja/. Who can walk on water and solo a room of mobsters. Why? Because it's /awesome/.
But WAIT! There are new characters too!
Maria Cadenzavna Eve: The Shadow the Hedgehog of the series. The rival. She sings like Tsubasa, has the same powers as Hibiki, and has the same breasts as Chris. And has the spear from the dead girl in the first season!
Kirika-DESS: Maria's #1 sidekick-DESS. She ends all of her sentences with DESS. She has a giganto scythe, penchant for violence and is awesome.
Shirabe: The foil to Kirika, she's a calm, quiet loli for the people who thought the show needed at least one flat-chest girl, I guess. However, she makes buzz saws and giant robots, so she's pretty darn cool too.
DOCTOR VER: Doctor Ver is my favorite character behind Chris. Every scene he's in, he's making some sort of stupid face, laughing maniacally or doing some comic book villain shit like summoning a giant fortress or mind controlling the innocent. This guy is classic, endlessly entertaining and everything a villain should be.
Next, let's talk about THAT ANIMATION
Season 1 looked bad. This one looks great. The art is crisp and smooth, background graphics are nice, the CGI is much improved, and several really dumb looking things from season 1, like Hibiki's berserker mode, actually look cool now. The fights are fast-paced, well-choreographed and full of visual flare. And explosions. They're probably the best fight sequences I've seen in a series in a long time, actually.
Better yet, each and every girl now has a redone transformation sequence that you can find a lot of gifs of. Important, high-level stuff for this kind of show.
Oh and the MUSIC
Every girl has a set of songs, all six of them (and more!?). The soundtrack is double or triple the size of the original series', and it's overall better. Songs are varied and well composed. There are even combat duets! And since the OSTs sold a billion copies, we're confirmed for season 3!!
This series is honestly a better magic fighting girl show than Kill la Kill, with a cast that's almost as strong, dynamite production values, and a blazing fast pace to carry it all forward. I don't think there's a single aspect of this series that's worthy of a 5 or a 6, let alone the whole thing.
The plot is no more stupid than Code Geass R2.
The presentation is on par with the highest budget action series of the last few years.
The characters are more waifu-worthy than your average moeblob infested ecchi shows.
The soundtrack is better than Love Live.
So what is wrong with Symphogear G, when it has all of the ingredients to make a mainstream weaboo success? Who knows? Anime fans are stupid, I guess. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
Let's break it down.
THE STORY is a very basic anime boy meets anime girl story. Gravity works the wrong way for the girl. Boy lives in dystopian police state where that's an evil, reviled thing. Bad dudes hunt girl, boy goes after girl, yadda yadda, you've seen it before. And on the subject of "you've seen it before", the first 30 minutes of the movie are actually just "Patema Inverted: Beginning of the Day", which came out months ago, with no new animation or anything. So if you've seen the specials you can start the movie at like the 25 minute mark, honestly.
Really basic and flat character story aside, the main draw of this movie is figuring out the secret behind why gravity is all wonky for some people, but not others. There are exactly two really predictable plot twists in the movie that reveal this. Hell, the story flows like it's a bulleted list. It moves right along at a not-so-fast pace, and then after half a second of head scratching at the end everything makes sense, but nothing is particularly exciting or interesting in retrospect.
There are a few slightly suspenseful bits, but those are all the scenes where there's someone who's about to /fall into the sky/, which as a concept is terrifying in general. I don't really count those as good writing on the creators' part, since those scenes write themselves.
Overall the story felt like something Miyazaki would've written if he were 14.
THE CHARACTERS are entirely one-dimensional. There isn't a single interesting person in this movie. They're all cookie-cutter personalities with predictable lines and actions, and their only saving grace is that none of them are particularly irritating, I guess. There's idealistic high school boy with dead dad, and pushy girl Patema with dead dad, wise elder guy, hotblooded kid, crazy fanatical villain, flaky good cop/bad cop, and that's about it.
THE ART is generally... bad. The quality of art and animation in this movie is below what you'd see in a medium-budget, forgettable TV anime. There are a lot of things that irked me here.
Patema Inverted's character designs are remarkably lazy. The underground dwellers' outfits and the police dudes look kind of cool and distinct, but other than that you won't be finding much of visual interest here. The main boy doesn't have a single defining physical feature, he just looks like "generic anime schoolboy". The titular Patema is cute, but she's also not very interesting to look at. She had this distinct little hair braid thing early in the movie that was eventually removed. I suspect it was because they decided it was too hard to animate. Old crazy fanatic villain looks like an old, crazy fanatic. There's a general lack of detail on the characters, none of them have any interesting facial expressions, gestures, etc. It's all very hohum.
The background art killed me, it's really shitty at some points. I think I'm spoiled by Tekkonkinkreet. But yeah, a LOT of the background paintings are cubes and cylinders in 2-point perspective. It looked like a first-year art student was just practicing his homework. Anything more complex than really basic shapes and perspective was handled by equally rudimentary CGI. Apparently none of the artists working on this had the talent to draw circular desks from above. The climactic scene at the end of the movie where some wrecked up buildings were shown look like they were shat out in Photoshop in 15 minutes. This wouldn't be okay in a TV series, let alone a feature film.That said, a lot of the underground city architecture at the start of the movie was passable.
THE CINEMATOGRAPHY is pretty relevant here. Aside from 99% of shots in this movie being really basic perspective, really basic panning, really basic lighting, no visual symbolism, and other things that make this movie seem like a student film, there are a few interesting visual gimmicks. Well, not really. There are a few scenes in the movie where the camera rotates 180 degrees to switch to either the boy or the girl's perspective so that one is upside-down and the other isn't. It's kind of neat, but not implemented in many exciting ways. Sometimes it can be downright disorienting as your brain tries to figure out which way someone should be falling, and which way the ground is. The strongest scenes are the aforementioned ones where someone's about to fall into the sky, you really feel the "holy shit" during those.
Honestly, someone should totally take the video file for this movie and flip it. It would probably make the entire experience a bit more interesting. Or it might actually change nothing.
THE ANIMATION is... bad. There are no interesting-looking scenes or backgrounds in most of this movie, and the same goes for character animations. There's a good scene or two of some gravity-defining jumps through a field, and another comical one where a character's being rolled around on a ceiling, but yeah. It's just not a visually interesting movie. I guess one of the biggest hurdles here was to get the gravity of the characters looking correct when there are multiple gravities, which they did, but that's not really impressive. You won't find anything in the background moving unless prompted, you won't see the characters (or anything else) having life-like motions, you won't see any really artsy/trippy animation, or anything of the sort.
THE SOUND is... uhhh, what sound? I think there were like two or three musical pieces in this whole movie. If there are more than that, it shows how forgettable they were since I watched this 30 minutes prior to writing a review. The main theme reminded me of Castle in the Sky and similar music Ghibli works. It's okay, but you probably won't be loading this OST onto your playlist.
OVERALL, Patema Inverted is mediocre and forgettable, and very amateur-ish. It really did feel like a student film, and lacks all the whimsy and inspiration of similar Ghibli works. I've never seen the creator's other work, Time of Eve, but after watching this I'm not too eager. All you artists out there can turn this into a deadly drinking game though: every time you see a background that's made of cubes going a a single vanishing point in the center of the screen, take a shot. read more
Aug 2, 2012Digimon Xros Wars: Toki wo Kakeru Shounen Hunter-t... (Anime) add
25 of 25 episodes seen
I can't ask a more direct question than that.
Digimon Hunters is very easily the worst Digimon series, it's pretty much bile. It succeeds in nothing but destroying amazing potential, wasting a good cast of characters, tarnishing a franchise and having a catchy opening song. Never again will I ever be so excited for a series only to end up this disappointed. Let me walk you through this so you don't have to:
Digimon Hunters takes place a year after the ending of Xros Wars. Bugramon is dead, all the Digimon are back in their own world, and Taiki is back to being a baller. All of this changes when Taiki's stupid friend Tagiru gets handed a Digivice by a cryptic old man, and then bam, Tagiru now has ownership of the unruly Gumdramon and is about to face "great danger". Taiki and the newly reformed Yuu get their partners back eventually, and Shoutmon looks like goddamn Ryoma from Getter Robo. The trio run around stopping evil Digimon from kidnapping and possessing people across the city while traveling to DigiQuartz, a post-apocalyptic alternate dimension that's shrouded in mystery. Then a new trio of rival Digimon Hunters appear, and our heroes must both combat and join forces with them under the watchful eye of the old "watchmaker".
And that's the first few episodes. Digimon Hunters probably starts off better than any other series besides Adventure 01, setting up a good cast of new and returning characters, a cool setting and a great premise. After that, nothing fucking happens. All of the Xros Wars cast appears again for very short, worthless cameos, the logistics of the setting crumble as Digimon just sort of run rampant and the public doesn't care, and none of the characters get any significant development whatsoever.
Like, I don't even understand. This was the thought process I had while following this show:
Episodes 1-5: Holy god this will be the best thing since Tamers, it's Xros Wars 02, omgomg the animation, the music, omg
Episode 6-10: Haha alright, this is pretty cool. Yeah. I bet the story will kick in at episode 12 or so.
Episode 11-15: Aha, nothing's happened yet, but there's so much set up...!
Episodes 16-20: What the hell is happening in this series. Why has nothing progressed at all. Why...? Wha..? That doesn't make sense, but okay...
Episode 21-25: Alright, fuck this.
Slowly, the great premise cracks, breaks, shatters, turns to dust, and then you inhale the dust and it tears your lungs up.
Taiki and Yuu are nerfed to hell and back, and are almost never present. Most episodes are just Tagiru and Gumdramon screwing around. Shoutmon's reign as Digimon king is pretty much irrelevant. Damemon's personality is mostly gone and his relationship with Yuu is flat and lifeless.
The old man who was the impetus of the whole plot isn't present for 95% of the show.
None of the enemies in the series are intimidating in the slightest, and more often than not get beaten by the hero Digimons' lowest forms.
The whole "people getting possessed and kidnapped" plot never progresses or gets more threatening. In fact, it just becomes a trivial annoyance after a while.
Akari, Zenjiro, Nene and Kiriha are all but completely non-present. Akari and Zenjiro are foreshadowed to get their own Digivices and partners in the opening, but it doesn't happen until the very end when it doesn't even matter.
The three new main characters, who have really cool Digimon and character designs, get no development. Ever. They're never successful as villains or useful as allies, and there's no reason for them to have ever been in the show at all.
It's miserable. It's garbage. And then it ends at 25 episodes.
Oh wait, I forgot the best part, the whole overarching story to this show involves the previous 5 main characters showing up: Tai, Davis, Takato, Takuya and Masaru. It's foreshowed for literally less than 15 seconds at one point, and then completely dropped, and then they show up near the end. They just... show up. Nothing they do is explained, they're just "there". For no reason. Even though it makes absolutely not even one bit of sense at all on multiple levels. And they're gone. End of show.
There's dropping the ball, and then there's filling the ball with cement and shooting it with a cannon into your own feet. This show is the latter. Fuck it. read more
16 of 26 episodes seen
To my knowledge, not many people liked Genesis of Aquarion. It was an overly melodramatic, awkward, very episodic and somewhat girly mecha series where the robots were essentially powered by orgasms(You read that right) and it had to compete in an era where good mecha anime was still a thing. It was a show that couldn't take itself seriously even when it was trying to take itself seriously. Audience response was mostly apathetic, but people loved the theme song and the OST had some of Yoko Kanno's best work. Hell, that OP was the sole reason I decided to blindly download the whole show on dial-up back on Christmas of '05. It took 4 months to finish, and was actually my first subbed anime.
I loved Aquarion. It was stupid and weird in all the best ways, and to this day it's still a very different spin on the super robot genre. The melodramatic characters and their reactions to everything, the complete nonsense shouted by the leader that would lead to victory in every episode, the omnisexual, ten-way, cross-dimensional love story... All of it was just grand in retrospect. I had no idea of what to expect from this series' new art direction and the effects of a near-decade hiatus, but ho-damn am I satisfied.
Aquarion EVOL opens 12,000 years after the end of Aquarion, with the main character, Amata, watching his favorite decade-old movie that (poorly) depicts events of the prequel series' final episode. This is followed by his boss coming out and telling him "Amata, no one likes that movie but you, really. The theme song got popular, but that's about it." So yeah, the opening of this new foray into the orgasm-powered mecha genre is Shoji Kawamori brazenly declaring that he gives not a single fuck to the haters out there. I can't even tell you how happy that scene made me, I felt like Amata.
After that, you get treated to what's easily the prettiest god damn show of the season, and maybe year, as Amata takes this big-boobed blue haired girl on a date through the rivers of neo-Venice. The environments are always painted in absolutely beautiful detail and color, and many shots are screencap worthy because of how genuinely pretty they are. I strongly suggest watching this in HD.
The character and world designs are all very unique and memorable, infused with an injection of sharp detail, personality and visual originality that you don't see in many anime anymore. The world and characters feel alive, and there's even two full fictional alphabets that show up in the show that contribute to this. Also, each scene is well-composed on screen and because of that, Aquarion Evol is never a bore to look at.
So far, Aquarion Evol's new cast of characters is what makes it shine, at least in my opinion. Rather than the really odd focus of the first episodes of the prior series, Evol began strong by introducing a cast of lively, thought-out and memorably designed little mecha pilots and having them ping off of each other.
The antagonists are presented in a very neutral and borderline desperate way. They don't appear evil and their motivations and details about their pasts are kept as a mystery for a while, but the show gives many hints and allusions as to who they really are and keep the viewer interested rather than starve them for details.
The writing is strong and sharp up until about 2/3rds the way through, and then it gets a little dumb near the end when old plot lines end in anticlimactic ways, pointless new plot lines appear and things get pretty drawn out in general. But then the final episode is pretty great and brings all the important stuff back to the forefront for the most part, and the series ends on a strong, melodramatic cheesy note that it should.
This is all in contrast to the first series, where the story and characters were a little unfocused until the final 6 or 7 and episodes, and then those were all amazing and climactic.
Then you have the titular fighting robots. Shit looks absolutely fantastic, though, honestly, the 3D animation is a bit stiff and the original Aquarion has a leg up on it in terms of good choreography and smooth movements.
EVOL makes full and complete use of the "orgasm when combining" joke throughout the first episode, but actually lightens up on it as the show has progresses. So far, the only real mecha orgasm sequences have been for particularly climactic moments and new character introductions. The gag is used sparingly and after the first series it's apparent the creators took note that it alienated some people. This whole project in general looks like it's taking the widespread criticism of Aquarion both in stride and into consideration, creating a series that satisfies both old fans and newcomers.
The OST is still amazing. If you watched the first series you'll probably recognize a number of the background tracks, remixed or reworked, along with a bunch of nice, new pieces. This show's opening theme is an orgasm of Japanese vocal work. Yoko Kanno knows what she's doing.
All of the base elements of Aquarion remain intact, for better or worse. It's still pretty cheesy and melodramatic, but this time they're hamming it up even more while at the same time keeping a good focus on down-to-earth elements like the cast, for the most part. I appreciate the hell out of it, but I'm sure some people still won't 'get' it. It's also still really, really pretty and the energy produced by the visuals and sounds carry the show's asinine writing like a thoroughly lubed bullet train.
"So should I watch the first series before getting into this one?"
Yes. Or at least maybe the OVAs to get a feel for the characters and stuff. One of the main draws of this series (for me) was that it's actively referenced Aquarion quite a bit, such as one of the main villains basically being an evil version of the main character in the first show. Kawamori's also stated that the main cast in this show are reincarnations of the previous cast. Eventually learning how the two stories and their characters will tie together is going to be, as I predict, one of the most rewarding aspects of EVOL. So if you want to enjoy Evol as much as you can, experience the previous project a little bit first.
Also, honestly, while Evol might be more "likable", Aquarion was a better put-together show in the end, in my opinion.
"They... orgasm in the robot? that's stupid!"
And ironically this show has far less ecchi and has more thoughtful writing than any series it's directly competing with. But really now, you probably just got done watching tit-infused garbage like Lagrange, you can't criticize this show lmao
"So, is it better than Lagrange, the other girly mecha show this year?"
Yes, in just about every single possible way, shape and form.
"Is Fudo Gen in it? He was the only good thing about Aquarion"
Yes, and he's a fucking pirate ohmygodit'sgreat
Aquarion Evol gave me colorgasms and excitement for something to see every week for half a year, and I hope it did the same for everyone else. Give it a shot. read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
a. This show is good. Not mind-blowing, but good.
b. No one on MAL who's reviewed this series has actually watched it, or their reviews were written from memory months or years after half-watching the original run on TV.
Geneshaft is a character story about a bunch of people raised in a dystopian future where genetics play a huge role, human lives are cheap and the species is more important than the individual. It's a series that identified what it wanted to do exactly, and executed those concepts accordingly and didn't try to do much else, which I found to be a good thing. I can't even count the number of anime I've seen where the story/setting/characters are built up only to end in cop-outs where nothing relevant is answered or even explored.
Geneshaft takes place entirely in space aboard the space ship Bilkis, in the 23rd century. You only see or hear about Earth through small glimpses or what the characters have to say about it. Each character has a different perspective on the rest of the cast, and differing opinions on their "perfect" society. Pacing-wise, the story is quick and keeps you interested, while keeping out extraneous details and filler.
The first half is spent introducing the characters and their surface personalities. The entire main cast, save for Crispin Freeman's character and the protagonist, are very cold and logical, accepting the society they live in in different ways, and in that way help flesh out Geneshaft's setting without ever needing to directly tell us about it through exposition. The second half of the series then shows how their personas slowly break down or heel-turn as more and more uncertainties and problems arise around them. The show raises questions like "which society is superior, theirs or ours in the 21st century?," " Do people really need to exist at all?" and "Can we start over?" It's not Earth-shattering philosophical writing, but the show identified what it wanted to do and did it well, and that's one of the main things I look for in a story.
There's also a giant robot; a big creepy looking thing called the Shaft. There's also a story about huge golden rings appearing in space to destroy mankind. However, this is not a mecha battle anime. The Shaft is ripe with viruses and operating system errors for a majority of the show, and the idea of man's impending destruction is only a device to keep the story going.
The cast is made up of about 6 or so major characters and a dozen or so minor ones.
First, you have Mika Seido, the protagonist. She's the first person we see have problems with how the world works, even if she can't properly explain why.
And then we have Captain Amigiwa, a man who's been genetically programmed to be extremely calculating to the point where mankind's fate rests on his shoulders.
Sofia is Mika's best friend, who finds Mika's eccentricities weird, and she very much accepts the world as it is.
Mir Lotus is the "perfect" human and with all the best genetics. She believes she can't be any better.
Remmy staunchly defends Mir as being perfect while denouncing Mika's questionable genes.
Mario Musicanova is the ship's back-up captain, and is the most "human" of the cast, being very personable and believing is pre-23rd century ideals.
Beatrice is the Bilkis' "Register", an assistant to the captain who has her emotions and memories suppressed and assists in operating the ship.
Sergei is the story's villain, who was made to be a perfect being for mankind's preservation.
As the story goes on, all of these characters change dynamically and believably, and contribute to the ongoing story. And then there's Tiki, who's really just there to round out the numbers and be a supporting character. Each character handles their particular cliches and archetypes in great stride, especially Beatrice. Everyone was also privileged with a brief, but relevant backstory at different points that felt rewarding each time. I think this series played up the concept of "Brevity is the soul of wit" very well in general.
And now let's talk about the atmosphere and style of this anime. Geneshaft was made back in an age where many shows tried to be profound and mature to either market off of Eva's success or, you know, have artistic integrity and get a message across. It's also an anime though, which means women, mecha and silly things like that are at the forefront. Geneshaft fell into a happy medium of those and I honestly don't think it could exist in 2011. In the story, it's said that the male to female population ratio is 1:9, and every girl in this series is dressed in spandex or a short skirt. HOWEVER, there is no real fanservice in Geneshaft to speak of. No jiggling tits, nipples, ridiculous cleavage, cameras panning over or obscured by ass, nada. Not even a hotsprings episode or shower scene. It's ridiculous. If this anime were made today, you can guarantee that it would be absolutely unwatchable and drowned in fanservice while the narrative took a back seat. Geneshaft is also pretty violent, but without being gratuitously bloody or "grimdark". Character deaths are handled well each and every time, and can be very jarring with how cold and casual they are. You see women get shot a lot in this show. Perhaps, back in 2001 this show would deserve the scores it gets, but in the context of modern anime it's a decently mature and unique product.
In terms of production values, this is pretty good. I think anime CGI hit a peak around this time, where it reached a level of detail that was impressive and complimented the animation rather than distracting from it. Cowboy Bebop, Zoids Zero and this series all used their CGI very well and they remain visually impressive to this day, whereas series like Blue Sub No.6 (1998) and Aquarion (2005) had CGI that stuck out too much compared to everything else, either because the technology wasn't good enough or the team focused on it too much. The animation itself is pretty nice and smooth and the style is decent enough, not being too huge-eyed or super-real.
The soundtrack is made up almost entirely of guitar riffs, which give the series a unique feel to say the least. The dub voices are all pretty great and fit their characters well. The main character's voice was really grating at first, but she normalized after an episode or two.
In conclusion, this show is NOT:
-Gundam Seed Destiny
As opposed to literally every other review, especially zoddtheimmortal's, this show doesn't really rip off any one thing, the main character isn't spineless at all, Amigiwa isn't supposed to be "that cool guy" and isn't incredibly cliche in his backstory either, the breasts are irrelevant since they're never focused on or drawn provocatively, the story's moral isn't anything about "love conquering all", nothing that's set up in the beginning is ignored and the series doesn't appeal to the drooling otaku of today at all. It's a decent short science fiction story that knew what it was doing, and has actually grown better with age when put into context with this decade's anime. I'm not going to say you should break your neck to find the vastly superior dub and watch it, but I do want people to know that it was well worth the $10 I paid for the DVDs and is barely anything like the garbage people in this site are making it out to be. read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
That's one reason why they're re-releasing it for its 10th birthday.
The other is to show how secretly ashamed of themselves they are for what they're making nowadays: Sacred Seven.
>>>This is a review of my impressions from the first episode. If you have gripes akin to "oh man, you can't review the merit of a whole show from one episode!", well I say "The hell I can't." First episodes are important. They set the tone for series and generally give a good idea for what you're getting into. Have some great shows had bad first episodes? Yeah, but this show is not Baccano, or DRRR!!, or Gungrave. It's another vapid and shallow merchandising action series by Sunrise.
Sacred Seven is a superpower fightan' series for the new decade, and it's a piece of shit. It takes all of the genre-polish Scryed applied a decade ago and does away with it. The show's about a 10-foot tall, YuGiOh-haired, noodly wuss named Arma, who spends a majority of his day staring out the generic Japanese classroom window from his back-right desk and eating on the school's rooftop. Everyone thinks he's dangerous, because none of the tertiary characters in this show have the perceptive abilities to tell what a loser he is. When he gets all mad he turns into a really lame ripoff of Knight Blazer, and then some loli uses a plot device to turn him into a really lame ripoff of Megaman.
Joining him is the aforementioned otaku hug pillow model Ruri, a mysterious, wealthy, secret organization-leading magical lolita who changes into a new fabulous outfit in every scene. And she's an exchange student who pops up in the student council too, truly a jack of all pandering. She has a generic butler guy with glasses and a clunky mecha who'll gratefully accept the role as the series' jobber. And then there are the copy/pasted worthless schoolgirl characters, the wisecracking mascot thing, the rival that looks like Soul Taker and an army of French maids to increase the show's DVD sales.
Basically the story is "So there's this kid with superpowers that he doesn't want because he's a pussy, so some magic chick makes his powers heroic and then they fight monsters while dealing with school shenanigans on the side." It's really sad how poorly thought out and boring this is, it's like something that a B-company would've released in the 90's that everyone immediately forgot about. There's really no reason for a show this bland to exist today, especially when it's coming off the heels of Tiger&Bunny, a far more refreshing and interesting show by the same studio that's in the same damn genre.
The animation is smooth, but not impressive. There were no particularly memorable or striking scenes, which is horrible for a big budget first episode. The characters are drawn very CLAMPy, and pretty much all of the designs are boring and forgettable. The main girls boobs vary greatly in size depending on the scene, outfit and camera angle, I guess that's Sunrise's way of appealing to all kinds of deviants without introducing more than one important female character.
The OP sucks. The ED sucks. Both are generic-as-hell synthy J-pop tunes that don't bode well for the show ever developing a serious or masculine tone. The opening animation is basically Star Driver's first OP without any decent art direction. The rest of the audio is just as underwhelming, there are no catchy badass action BGMs here, and nothing uses any instruments or sounds that are out of the ordinary. The voices are lame, everyone sounds basically how you'd expect them to, except for Arma who's less intimidating than Star Driver's "GINGA BISHOUNEN!".
To sum it up, Sacred Seven:
-Shits on everything Scryed did for the genre.
-Is basically Code Geass with no hook.
-Is directly competing with Tiger&Bunny, a similar show that's better in every way by the same studio. Not to mention the upcoming Scryed OVAs too.
I don't have much hope for this series. If it turns out better than a unanimous 6/10, I'll be very surprised.
Update of 2014: It should be noted that this series has a median review score of 6/10 and below. Damn I'm good. read more