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25 of 25 episodes seen
In the beginning of the series, the premise of the show is somewhat vague as little is known about where the powers of the contractors come from, or how they are related to the gates. As the series progresses more information is inevitably revealed, creating good plot exposition and allowing the story to move at a decent pace and keep each episode interesting. Where this series really shines however, is the characters.
Hei is portrayed brilliantly, having a rather comicbook superhero-like persona but adding a unique spin to it. His motives are not initially apparent, nor is his true relationship with the syndicate to which he belongs. Also, while contractors are known to be emotionless and purely rational, Hei somehow manages to retain his humanity, an anomaly which many of his acquaintances and opponents comment on. The true reason for this, as well as the origin of his powers remains hidden until the end of the series.
The other members of Hei's organization are similarly well portrayed, each being represented uniquely and interestingly. Huang, Yin, and Mao each have a well written back-story that is both engaging and important to the overall plot. The other characters in the story are outstanding as well, especially the antagonists. Despite the fact that the contractors are supposed to be unemotional, each character still manages to have a unique personality which often even enhanced by this fact.
If there is one weakness in this series, it is the ending, which is unfortunately rather inconclusive. I'm kind of hoping for a sequel, but this may be difficult for reasons that would be hard to disclose without revealing spoilers. The ending also has a "suddenly everything got weird" part to it that seems common in final episodes of supernatural anime, but at least it makes a lot more sense than many I've seen. If you like shows about people with supernatural powers, I think you should definitely watch this series. read more
349 of ? episodes seen
What I love about One Piece is that it never even tries to be serious. The characters are all zany, yet they remain engaging enough to hold the attention of someone like me who looks for something with a little more substance than your average kid's show. New main characters are gradually introduced throughout the series, and each one makes a meaningful contibution. Most of these characters are added when Luffy, the self-appointed captain of this crew, randomly decides he likes them and wants them to come along which adds to the silliness.
Another aspect of this show that sets it apart from the rest of the shounen action crowd is the consistency of the characters abilities. The members of the Straw Hat Crew are never forced to undergo some random quantum leap in power level in order to defeat their enemies. This means that despite the fact that the show is currently almost 350 episodes in length, none of the characters have experienced the continuous exponential increase in power seen in other shows that would otherwise give them the abilities of Superman by this point.
Despite the length of the series, the material for each new episode is usually fresh, with a surprisingly small amount of filler and recap (though it does have some.) The action moves along fast enough that each new episode is simultaneously satisfying, yet leaves the viewer looking forward to the next one.
I'd say the main weakness of the show is the tendency to crank up the cheesiness factor just a little beyond my tolerance point on occasion. Other viewers could be affected by this to a greater or lesser extent than I am; it's really all a matter of personal preference. One other disclaimer: do not watch the 4kids dubbed version. Just about any fansub is better, since the dub is censored and material is removed to such an extent that the quality is adversely affected. read more
112 of 112 episodes seen
What really set this show apart from other shounen action shows for me was the relatively intelligent use of dialogue by the main characters. I originally watched the uncut Funimation dub, which is definitely the translation I’d recommend (even if its probably not as true to the original dialog as some of the fansubs.) The humor in the show is less slapstick than most anime, and situational comedy plays a large part in the show, with some parts practically satirizing the action genre itself.
The story revolves around a junior high delinquent named Yusuke Urameshi becoming something called a “spirit detective” (although I’d really call him more of a fighter than a detective.) It is his job to take care of demons that escape into the living world and stop them from causing trouble. Yusuke takes his orders from a ancient mystical being named Koenma who also happens to look like a toddler and in addition to knowing the secrets of the universe is also “quite potty trained.”
Each character is portrayed uniquely, and contributes to the storyline. Yusuke manages to overcome many of the usual tough-guy stereotypes present in anime of this kind, coming across as witty and sarcastic as well as being a strongly independent fighter. Meanwhile, Kuwabara on the other hand actually embraces these same stereotypes to such a degree as to be hilarious as his “dumb punk” behavior is juxtaposed against such things as his love for kittens, or his “romantic” attempts toward Yukina.
The animation is really nothing special, even when compared to other anime released around the same time period. There are a lot of still and scrolling shots and characters are drawn relatively simply. The action scenes are somewhat lacking in visual effects as well, however what they lack in animation quality they more than make up in style. Each fight is characterized by the combatants unique personalities and fighting methods.
The soundtrack is nothing to write home about either, being somewhat repetitive and lacking in originality. Then again, clever musical arrangement is not something I have come to expect from shounen programming anyway. So I’ll admit that as far as audio and visual effects go, Yu Yu Hakusho is pretty mediocre. If you require stunning realism and breathtaking artwork, I would definitely not recommend this show for you. Since I tend to place more emphasis on story and characterization, these obvious shortcomings did not bother me as much.
So I’d say this show was definitely enjoyable, even to someone like me who tends to lack appreciation for less serious anime. While light in tone and not exactly intellectually stimulating, Yu Yu Hakusho manages to deliver an engaging story with a large dosage of clever humor as well. Certainly a decent show, especially if you enjoy classic early 90’s style anime action.
27 of 27 episodes seen
My main reason for writing this review therefore is for those like me who might otherwise watch this show without regard to the fact that it still follows many the typical shounen mecha tropes that made me dislike this genre in the first place. However, this is not meant to be a critical review of the genre in general but of Gurren Lagann in particular, so let me emphasize that no matter what your preconceptions of this type of anime may be, I still believe that this show is worth watching.
Gurren Lagann is primarily a coming-of-age story. The main character, Simon, begins the story as a young boy who is unsure of himself and largely dependent on his older brother Kamina. As the story progresses however, Simon is forced to with situations where his brother can no longer protect him. Simon must therefore learn to become a hero in his own right if he is to survive in the dangerous world in which he finds himself.
The story progression is fast paced and the characters undergo changes with each episode, so it was definitely much more than the mecha-battle-of-the-week show that generally turns me off toward this genre, as I mentioned previously. The story has a few good plot twists and most of the characters make a meaningful contribution to the story (with the exception of Yoko who is mostly fanservice, though even she is given an interesting subplot toward the end of the series.) Although the plot can be somewhat silly at times, especially in the beginning, it is offset by serious moments and the mood of the show can change in an instant.
The biggest complaint I have about the story is the overextension of the technology/science around which the entire plot is centered. The technology involves a (metaphoric?) relationship to drills, which I felt was somewhat strange and could at least have been better explained. I tend to make a big deal about this sort of thing, so I expect others will disagree with me, but I found the somewhat ridiculous extent to which the characters powers had evolved by the end of the series to be somewhat unbelievable based on the premises set down by the rest of the show. I realize that the evolution of main characters to demigod like status is widely accepted in anime (i.e. DBZ, Bleach, etc.) I just thought I should warn those who are mildly annoyed by this as I am.
That being said, the action scenes are rather well done, even those toward the end that involve large mecha hurling galaxy sized energy blasts at each other. The fights are greatly enhanced by a mostly techno/rap soundtrack, and the fast paced action, while not the best I’ve seen, was more than enough to remain exciting throughout each battle. I even found myself enjoying some of the epic battles near the conclusion in spite of myself. These closing battles were quite attractive to look at and the operatic background music completed the feeling to create something that was actually quite enjoyable.
The animation is definitely not the most realistic, but instead uses a unique style that is still pleasing to look at most of the time. The simplicity of the artistic style combined with the bright colors are reminiscent of earlier shounen action anime, but somewhat more caricatured.
Overall, Gurren Lagann was well worth watching, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys mecha and fast paced action. Even if this type of thing isn’t what you normally watch, this show is still worth a try. It is necessary to suspend disbelief at several points of the story, but the action is still quite enjoyable, so long as the viewer is not prone to over analyzing everything.