1 of 1 episodes seen
Anime: Dead Leaves is a 55 minute OAV that was created by Imaitoonz (who also did work on the 3D mechanical designs on Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann), was produced by Production IG (known for their work on Azumanga Daioh and the Ghost in the Shell series), and directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi (who also directed Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and FLCL). It was released in Japan on January 17th, 2004, and was licensed Stateside by Manga Entertainment, who released it on September 28th, 2004.
Story: Retro, a guy with a TV screen for a head, and Pandy, a girl with a panda-esque mutation mark over her eye, wake up naked on Earth with no idea of who they are or how they got there. They promptly decide to go on a crime spree to get food, clothes, and transportation in Tokyo, and are promptly captured and sentenced to time on the lunar prison known as Dead Leaves. Little do they know what awaits them there.
There is but one thing you need to know abotu this OAV: It is cracktastic. No other word for it. Utterly cracktastic. And when you look at the director's previous works, it's not all that surprising.
There is no real overarching plot and character development is minimal. The OAV moves along very quickly from sequence to sequence, sprinkled liberally with sex and mayhem and violence and insanity.
It's a hell of an OAV to watch, and definitely worth it, in my opinion. Just don't expect much in this department, and just let the crazy wash over you.
WARNING: Very crude (one character has a drill for a dick), sexual acts/references, over the top violence, and some nudity.
Art: The art on this is absolutely insane. And I love it. The entire OAV is animated smoothly, which makes the freneticness of the entire thing that much more awesome to watch. There are very sharp contrasts in this, along with striking color choices, which I absolutely love. The character designs also score major points for originality; all the designs are just as crazy as Retro, Pandy, and drill-dick guy's.
Music: Nothing that stood out too much here.
Voice Actors: I watched this dubbed, which is pretty unusual for me. The VA work on this was excellent, and I'm amazed at their ability to keep up with the speed of the lines that was required.
Dub: Not covered here, as I don't have much to compare it to.
Length: Seeing as I am convinced this is crack in a pure, distilled form, this was about all that I could take; any longer, and my brain would have exploded, any shorter, and it wouldn't have made a bit of sense.
Overall: Cracktastic. Definitely worth a watch, if you can stand a lack of sense, and crudeness.
Voice Actors: 9/10
Overall: 40/50; 80% (B) read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
Anime: Gonzo did the production on this again (known for their work on Saikano and Gankutsuou) and Kou Matsuo directed as well (known for his work on all seasons of Rozen Maiden and the OVA). Dead Girls is a 45-minute OVA that was released on August 8th, 2007. As far as I'm aware, Dead Girls has not been licensed, either by ADV, or Funimation (who currently holds the original series' license).
Dead Girls picks up about 300 years in the future in NYC, where Rachel, Rose, Kate and Claire are pretending to be high school girls as cover for bounty hunting, because hey, why not? They apparently don't have any memories of the original series, as they were warned previously in the original series. But the new transfer students look quite familiar and may mean trouble for them...
Okay, so, first off, it's interesting to see what 300 years of having a seventeen year-old's body has done to the girls. There are some pretty obvious 180s in peoples' personalities, but there are pretty decent reasons given for it, which is really appreciated here. It's more fun seeing what the girls are like now than it is watching the actual plot of the thing, which isn't the greatest or most interesting and gets resolved in a pretty lame way. Again, though, director of Rozen Maiden, so this shouldn't come as much of a surprise in terms of lack of resolution and plot quality.
As for art, it's the same style as the series, but with some added caveats. There are a lot of reused character designs from the original series, either for continuity or because the designers were lazy, take your pick. Also, there's the typical Gonzo mech added, and it's quite nicely done and doesn't seen all that out of place.
Music is pretty much what was used in the series, with a song being sung in horribly out of tune voices (yay for realism?) to the main theme. Ehhh, this kind of loses points with me. But otherwise, pretty solid.
Seiyuu are same as in the series, with seiyuu reprising their roles for similar looking characters from the original series; again, continuity or budget saving, who knows.
Length here is pretty solid. 45 minutes, which was more than I expected. Just about right, actually, though it did drag at the end.
Overall, this is a pretty solid OVA. There's a few issues of laziness versus continuity, but otherwise, a solid follow-up that's worth a watch.
Overall: 38/50; 76% (C) read more
3 of 3 episodes seen
Anime: The Baccano! OVA was produced by Brains Base (who also produced Natsume Yuujin-Chou and the Kimi ga Nozomu Eien ~Next Season~ OVA) and was directed by Takahiro Omori (director for Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori and Natsume Yuujin-Chou). The three episodes were released on DVDs 5 (released February 27th, 2008), 7 (released April 23rd, 2008), and 8 (released May 28th, 2008) as bonus episodes in Japan; it is unclear if, in Funimation's licensing of the series Stateside, the OVA is included in what was licensed.
The Baccano! OVA picks up on some of the plot lines from the series that, despite being wrapped up, weren't quite complete and needed some more explaining, and also introduces some new characters.
I watched Baccano! almost a year ago now, and watching this reminded me of why I liked the series so much. There's an amazing amount of detail in this production, especially in the story and backstories of the characters, and how things in the past and future dovetail into each other to bring things full circle and fill out and finish the last of the plot lines that weren't quite perfect. The new characters also make their entrances nicely within all this, fitting in perfectly.
Art style is pretty much unchanged from the original series; still a great amount of detail given to the character designs, which is where it matters most, and the animation in general is smooth and well-done.
Music is still mostly jazz-based and good, while the OP and ED stays the same as from the series.
The seiyuu all returned for the OVA, and Tomokazu Sugita (famous for his roles as Mayama in Honey and Clover and Soldier Blue in Toward the Terra) makes an appearance as the new OVA-exclusive character Graham Spector.
The length was pretty good on this, though I would've liked to have this expanded into a second season. There's a rather metatastic moment at the end of this, though, and it very much leaves the possibility for a continuation open, and I would hope that they pick up on this.
All in all, an excellent OVA, though not quite as good as the series itself, that expands and brings the series full-circle while leaving the possibility for continuation more than open.
Overall: 42/50; 84% (B)
"All there is is a performance of people connecting, living, influencing each other, and departing." read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
Anime: Kakurenbo is a half-hour OVA that was produced as a collaboration between CoMix Wave Inc (known for their work on 5 Centimeters per Second and Voices From a Distant Star), Dentsu Inc (known for their work on Antique Bakery and D.Gray-Man) and Yamatoworks/D.A.C (this was their debut production), and directed by Shuhei Morita (who also directed the Freedom OVA series). Kakurenbo was released on September 1st, 2004 in Japan, was licensed Stateside by the now defunct Central Park Media, who released it on October 30th, 2005.
Story: In a city that's now in ruins, children play the game of Otokoyo (a Japanese version of hide and seek), but seemingly disappear whenever it's played, supposedly spirited away by demons. A boy named Haraku enters the game hoping to find his sister, who went missing playing Otokoyo.
This OVA's really good at ramping up the creepy factor. You're thrown into this world with little to no background whatsoever, and truths unravel slowly as you watch these kids going through the game, which grows more and more scary as you go through. You don't know much about the kids initially, as they're all wearing fox demon masks, as required per the game, but you learn enough details about them as they go through the game. And there are some excellent and truly scary twists in this, though I would suggest some cultural background before going into this, as it'll make these make a lot more sense. And everything wraps up neatly in a half hour's time.
Art: Kakurenbo was made entirely using 3D CGI and cel-shaded animation, like in Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. The art for this in general is incredibly well done, and conveys the creepiness of the atmosphere perfectly, not to mention the designs of the creatures you find in here. 'm personally not that much of a fan of cel-shaded animation, though, as it does look a bit strange in places, especially with regards to the childrens' expressions, which are incredibly wooden. It is a fairly new technology, though, so it'll probably become better-used with time.
Music: I really like what they did here. Traditional instruments are used and orchestrated perfectly, as is the incredibly understated use of silence, to add to the tension in the entire thing. Excellently done.
Seiyuu: They didn't particularly stand out, but neither did they leave much of an impression on me. Overall, passable job here.
Length: The OVA does feel a bit constrained by it's half-hour run time, but it still manages to tell a good, creepy story, even if we aren't as invested as we could be in the kids. Overall, it does well with what time it has, even if it could be a bit better.
Overall: An amazingly creepy OVA with a pretty good story and music track, decent art and seiyuu, and a length that could've been longer for maximum effect. A good watch for Halloween.
Overall: 39/50; 78% (B-) read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
Novels, Manga, Anime: Vampire Hunter D was originally a series of seventeen novels written by Hideyuki Kikuchi and illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano (famous for his work on character designs and the logos for the Final Fantasy series) starting in 1983.
Vampire Hunter D was adapted into two separate media; manga and comics. The manga was an adaptation in which Kikuchi hand-picked the artist, Saiko Takaki, began running in 2007, was licensed Stateside by Digital Media Publishing, and is currently ongoing. The comic, whose rights were acquired Devil's Due Publishing (the parent company of Digital Media Publishing) in July 2008, is known as Vampire Hunter D: American Wasteland, and will be written by Jimmy Palimotti (known for writing the Sci-Fi series Painkiller Jane and work on Monolith).
Vampire Hunter D, an 80 minute movie, was produced by Ashi Productions (known for their work on the Sailor Moon S and SuperS movies) and directed by Toyoo Ashida (famous for his work on... well, there's nothing really to speak of here). It was released in 1985 in Japan and licensed Stateside by, in order, CBS Theatrical Films, MGM, Streamline Pictures, and, the current holder of the license, Urban Vision Entertainment.
Story: Doris Lang, the daughter of a werewolf hunter, is out hunting werewolves one night when she is bitten by Count Magnus Lee, who then decides to make her his bride, marking her with his bite marks. She hires a vampire hunter known only as D, who she meets out in the middle of nowhere one day, offering him food and herself to take out the Count and save her from becoming his bride.
...Where to begin with this?
This story is all over the place. I mean, there's a general narrative here, and it's something resembling coherent when it's looked at overarchingly. In execution, however, it is made of WTF. There are sudden jumps from scene to scene, subplots are bought in out of nowhere, and twists are thrown around like they're candy, with all of this having little to no explanation whatsoever. Moreover, the thing just drags, with scenes seemingly added simply for the point of drawing out the movie, which really shouldn't have happened.
I honestly can't tell you what the hell happened here. I was watching this with my anime club tonight, and we just gave up on even trying to understand what happened about a half hour in and just started mocking it mercilessly.
Art: For the 80s, this is halfway decent. The character designs are extremely pointy and detailed, but they're based off of Amano designs, which explains a lot.
However, it has not aged well. Action scenes are done mainly with pulsating lines in the background, not to mention flashing lights that could probably induce epileptic seizures in those susceptible to them. The movie's extremely heavy on the gore, but the way that blood works in this is incredibly stylized and not even close to reality in the slightest. Characters' color palettes will change from scene to scene, far more than lighting should account for. Most notably, the hat that D wears creates a black void in the upper part of his face with only his eyes showing, and it's incredibly painful to watch, especially when it doesn't move even when the lighting does.
There is some nudity in here, however, it's not really all that well done, and it's paired with images of death and gore and such that I'm sure that, by the process of association, if you showed this to kids, they could very easily never ever ever want to have sex ever.
Music: Meh. I didn't notice this much, but it didn't make that much of an impression on me, either. So, we'll say passable.
Seiyuu: As with the music, I didn't notice them that much, but neither did they make that much of an impression on me, so, again, we'll say passable.
Length: This movie just dragged on and on and on; it should've ended at the hour mark, and a good deal of the "twists" could've been cut out, and it would've been semi-decent.
Overall: Don't watch this. It's not worth it, except for mocking purposes.
Overall: 25/50; 50% (F) read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
Manga, Anime: Gunslinger Girl was originally a manga by Yu Aida, is currently ongoing, and runs in Media Work's Dengeki Daioh magazine. It stands at nine collected volumes in Japan. ADV licensed the manga Stateside, and the last volume released was the sixth, back on November 30th of 2007. As of May 2008, ADV said that the rest of the manga would be forthcoming, but with the company's recent financial issues and its relicensing of several shows, it is unclear if the manga will continue to be released Stateside.
Gunslinger Girl is a thirteen episode anime that was produced by Madhouse (famous for their work on Paranoia Agent and Death Note), and directed by Morio Asaka (famous for his work on Chobits and Cardcaptor Sakura). It ran on Japanese TV from October 8th, 2003 to February 19th, 2004. It has been licensed Stateside by Funimation, and the Viridian Collection Box Set was released on November 11th, 2007.
Story: The Social Welfare Agency of Italy supposedly is a government sponsored corporation involved in saving lives -- however, in reality, it is an agency that takes girls in terminal condition, gives them cybernetic implants, and uses "conditioning" to turn them into deadly assassins for the government with utter loyalty to their handlers, called "fratello". "Henrietta", who survived the brutal slaughter of her family and assault, is the agency's newest girl, and works along with four other girls doing the government's black-ops work.
This story is a study in duality; one moment, you see these preadolescent girls generally being preadolescent girls - giggling, talking with each other about things, being cute in general - and the next, they're gunning down or beating the shit out of terrorists with submachine guns or their bare fists. And the show doesn't let you forget that these sides exist within the same girls - the girls might be discussing plans for the night as they're in the middle of an operation, or they might be out to dinner and a threatening gesture makes them leap to protect their handlers. And it can be utterly unnerving to watch at times.
But besides this duality, each of the girls' backstories is at the very least hinted at, if not explored, and their personalities are developed quite well through the show, along with showing the darker side of what's been done to the girls. It's hard to watch at times, but it makes the story that much richer. And the general how and why of the agency and the process of making these girls into what they are is incredibly well fleshed out.
This would be all good and well if it weren't for how the story plays out. Most of the story is development of each of the girls, along with some more minor characters that show up throughout the series, and it's all done quite well, as I said before this. But in the last five episodes or so, there's an attempt at an overarching plot involving other agencies, and it kind of works, but the show leaves off with several threads still hanging. It's almost like this was the first half or so of a longer series, and the production team just never got the notice that it was only thirteen episodes.
Admittedly, there is a second season entitled Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino-, but I don't know if it picks up where this season leaves off; I will probably end up watching it at some point in the near future.
Art: Madhouse did an excellent job with this production.
Their typical emphasis on realism makes the show that much more heartwrenching, because these girls act and are animated like your kid sister and given their own mannerisms, and that realism, combined with absolutely amazingly choreographed action scenes with mostly realistic moves, makes for amazing episodes, and plays into the duality of things. The girls themselves have very good character designs, and there's at least minor changes in their outfits from episode to episode, which is always good. Even better is that the scenery looks almost exactly like Italy; I can take pictures from friends who are in Italy, and put it side by side with stills from the series, and, besides the fact that it's animated, there is no discernable difference between the two.
Music: The background music itself is mainly orchestral and well-scored; it's not anything that particularly stands out or anything, but it's still quite well done. The OP and ED, however, are absolutely spectacular; the OP is a slower song with some excellent harmonies and is just a neat song in general, while the ED is a mix of techno and either Catholic mass-esque or operatic aria-esque, just an absolutely beautiful effect.
Seiyuu: There aren't any particular voices that I recognize, though I particularly like Triela's seiyuu, Eri Sendai. Otherwise, good job on the casting here, as always.
Voice Actors: I did watch one episode of this in English, as I bought the Viridian DVD set. All in all, the voice actors did a pretty passable job on here; some places where the voices are far too wispy where they shouldn't be, but otherwise, it's not half bad. The only real issue I have is that Triela's VA blatantly sounds like an older, adult woman, where the other girls are clearly younger-sounding voices; now, admittedly, Triela is the oldest of all the girls, and my all-around favorite, but she is not quite to the stage where she would sound like an adult woman.
Dub: Funimation did a pretty passable job with this. I have a few issues with them in how they chose to translate things, as the sub says one thing while the English lines say something entirely different; consistency matters, here, and yes, we do notice this. Oh, and speaking of consistency, on the subject of Henrietta's handler's name: PLEASE decide whether is Jose, Giuse, or Giuseppe - I saw all three variants of this name in the subs, and you seemed to switch between the names every two episodes or so, and it makes things incredibly confusing.
Length: As I said earlier, Gunslinger Girl feels like the first half of a much longer series; whether or not Il Teatrino is a continuation of where episode thirteen or not remains to be seen, but either way, there probably could have been better planning to give a bit more of a definitive ending, or a clear notice of continuation.
Overall: Gunslinger Girl is a series with beautifully developed characters, a well-fleshed-out world, excellently choreographed actions scenes, a great sense of duality, solid music and realistically detailed animation, great seiyuu and an atypically passable VA cast and dub. There are some issues with consistency in the dub and some VA casting choices, along with a story that only seems to be the beginnings of something bigger; however, Il Teatrino can probably rectify the story issues.
Voice Actors: 7/10
Overall: 54/70; 77% (B-) read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
Hitomi Kanzaki is depressed and considering killing herself. One day, a man appears before her and calls her the Wing Goddess, summoning her to Gaea, a world at war, where she is the ultimate arbiter of the God of the Heavens and War, Escaflowne, and, accordingly, Gaea's destiny.
As you can probably tell, this is a complete retelling of the original series. There are far darker takes on all the characters than you saw in the series, and a completely different plot and world that they're in, which in and of itself has its effects on them. And honestly, even though it's worlds away from the series, it's just as good of a story as the series told, especially in a more limited timeframe to work in. Every character from the series shows up, though some have their involvement changed around somewhat.
For most major characters, there is enough basic similarities between their design (though not necessarily their clothing) in the series and in the movie that you can tell who's who easily. There are some characters that got a complete facelift for this, though, most notably Folken and Millerna, and the overall effect is not all that bad, really. In fact, RAWR.
The art for this is richer and draws some amazing contrasts, especially with color in some of the earlier scenes and a notable scene that goes from watercolors to full cel animation; however, the same basic style from the series is kept and exaggerated in some cases, which, at times, does not produce the greatest effects. CG is also used far more in here, and it's kind of just as obvious as when they used it in the series.
Every character's seiyuu was able to return for this, which adds that more of a sense of familiarity and continuity, especially if you can't recognize them at first glance. Yoko Kanno returned to work on the soundtrack for this, and it's just as beautiful as the series was.
So, overall, while the movie does have a more limited timeframe to work in and lots of info to convey, the new storyline and character designs are more than welcome, especially with the seiyuu returning to provide continuity, and with Yoko Kanno on the soundtrack, and a richer environment to play around in, this adaptation is just as good as the series. read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
Manga, Anime: There are three different manga for this anime, and the two that were released around the same time as the anime are worlds apart. In order to understand this, you need to know a little something about the production.
Escaflowne was in development for about five years. Shoji Kawamori (famous for his work on the Macross series and Eureka Seven) came up with the initial idea for the series after a trip to Nepal, and hashed out the basics of the series with Minoru Takanashi at Bandai, with Hitomi originally as a curvy, long-haired, air-headed girl with glasses, and a decidedly more shonen bent to the series. Sunrise (famous for their work on the Gundam series and Cowboy Bebop) was originally selected to do the series, which was then planned at 39 episodes, and Noboteru Yuki worked with Kawamori, with the director at the time being Yasuhiro Imagawa. The director stuck around long enough to coin the phrase Escaflowne, and then left before production actually started, and the project was shelved. Two years later, Sunrise picked it back up and bought on Kazuki Akane (famous for his work on Noein -To Your Other Self- and the Birdy the Mighty 2008 remake), who then gave the series a complete makeover, bringing in shoujo elements to balance out the shonen, notably, making the men a bit more into bishonen and remaking Hitomi as the girl we know in the series.
The first of the manga titles to come out shared the anime's name, and was based on the original production ideas, which gave it far more of a shonen bent. This manga was done by Katsu Aki, and ran in Kadokawa Shoten's Shonen Ace magazine from October 24th, 1994 to November 26th, 1997. It was licensed Stateside by Tokyopop, and the eighth and final volume was released on September 14th, 2004. The second manga title, titled Messaiah Knight - The Vision of Escaflowne, later retitled Hitomi - The Vision of Escaflowne, was released around the same time as the anime, and was a shoujo adaptation based more on the final version of the anime. Yuzuru Yashiro did this adaptation, and it ran in Kadokawa Shoten's Asuka Fantasy DX magazine from April 8th, 1996 to January 18th, 1997, and has yet to be licensed Stateside. The final manga title is called Energist's Memories, which is an anthology of several stories from the Escaflowne universe done by several manga authors. It was released in January of 1997, and also has yet to be licensed Stateside.
Escaflowne is a twenty-six episode series (yes, you'll notice it was cut down from the 39 episodes originally planned) that was produced by Sunrise and Bandai Visual, and directed by Kazuki Akane. It ran on Japanese TV from April 2nd, 1996 till September 24th, 1996. It was licensed Stateside by Bandai Entertainment, and the latest full boxset was released on April 11th, 2006 as part of the Anime Legends collection.
Story: High school track runner Hitomi Kanzaki has a talent for stunningly accurate tarot readings. One day, she has a vision of a young man slaying a dragon, and, later that night, the same young man is transported to her world in a pillar of light, along with the dragon, and he slays it. As soon as the young man, named Van Fanel, has harvested the energist stone that lies in the dragon, the pillar of light returns him back to his world, Gaea, where both the moon and Earth (known as the Mystic Moon) hang in the sky - only Hitomi is taken back with him. As Hitomi tries to find a way home, her latent psychic powers are awakened, which in turn awakens Farnelia's mech (known as Escaflowne), and she becomes caught up in the politics and conflict between Asturia, Farnelia, and the Zaibach Empires.
You can tell that the story was originally meant for a longer series, but the decision to trim it down to twenty-six episodes came through just when the series came in just as production was beginning, and the director didn't want to sacrifice any of the characters or plot lines. So, instead, the already elaborately planned plotlines and character development was made to fit into a twenty-six episode series. And, admittedly, while the story and development is a bit jerky, slow at first but then speeding up in others, it still manages to completely and coherently wrap things up in its length, not to mention give the fairly extensive cast of characters good development.
And speaking of characters, I have so much respect for how they developed them. The characters all start out as fairly common shoujo tropes, but are developed into real people and incredibly engaging ones at that. Hitomi especially; she could've been this horrible Mary-Sue, but instead she is developed and even grows up a little as she makes her way through Gaea and reacts pretty realistically to her situation. Relationships between all of them are slowly developed, and you aren't hit over the head with it as they are; when they are finally bought to light or out and out pointed out, you realize, "Oh, that explains it!"
For those of you who are mech fans, you'll be happy to hear that the mech fights are paid as much attention to as the the story and character development; there's at least one major fight every other episode. And especially appropriate is how they developed the mechs to match the level of technology that's found in Gaea.
Gaea is general is built extremely well as a world; just about every aspect you could think of is given thought and explained in ways that don't make you feel like you're being hit over the head with the exposition hammer all that much.
The downside of all this is that you feel like you're getting bombarded with information, and there are a few minor characters that are mostly running gags and who they seem to forget exist for a few episodes here and there and then are bought back into the story to remind the audience, "Hey! They're still here!"
So, overall, while there is quite an overload on information, and a few gag characters are forgotten here and there, Escaflowne's story is still pretty good, and all elements of it are given equal loving attention.
Art: Compared to other shows that were airing roughly around this time (Ruroni Kenshin, Martian Successor Nadesico, Ghost in the Shell), Escaflowne's art is pretty damn good, if not gorgeous. Character designs are given the perfect amount of detail, not to mention as are all the different races on Gaea, mech designs, backgrounds, just everything is absolutely beautiful in this. There are some very strong lines used in this, like what we saw in Ouran High School Host Club. And overall, the quality of the art has aged quite well.
The style of the art has not aged well, though. Facial features are extremely exaggerated, notably with a few noses that could conceivably be used as swords with how pointy they are. Also, CG use in this is fairly obvious, which is a bit understandable, but it's still a bit painful to watch at times.
Music: The music for this is absolutely spectacular. Yoko Kanno did the work on this, and it's not the typical jazz soundtrack that I've seen from her in Darker than Black and Cowboy Bebop. Instead, here, we get EPIC orchestral scores, with beautiful string work and special emphasis on the cello (used to be a cellist, so it's always great for me to hear the instrument used so well) and excellent choral arrangements.
The OP is sung by Maaya Sakamoto, Hitomi's seiyuu, and is just a lovely ballad (well, waltz, actually, it is in 3/4 time) in general. It's always a good thing when I don't skip through the OP, and it's even better when I sing along to it; I did this every episode. The ED is a more stereotypical upbeat JPop number done by a guy instead of a girl, and was very easily skippable.
Seiyuu: This series is chock full of good seiyuu. Hitomi was Maaya Sakamoto's (famous for her work as Haruhi in Ouran High School Host Club and Aeris Gainsborough in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children) debut role, and her singing of the OP was her first work singing. Besides Ms. Sakamoto, Jouji Nakata (famous for his roles as the Count in Gankutsuou and Alucard in Hellsing) appears as Folken, and Juurouta Kosugi (famous for his roles as Akio in Revolutionary Girl Utena and Fernand d'Morcerf in Gankutsuou) appears as Dryden.
As for the other seiyuu, the voices fit well, and were acted well, which is all I ask for.
Length: Twenty-six episodes makes the series feel a bit pushed for time. Having the full run of 39 episodes probably would have helped this in the long run, and especially given it some time to breathe. Any shorter, though, and it just wouldn't have worked.
Overall: Escaflowne has an excellent story and characters, a well-built and animated world, excellent seiyuu and beautiful music. It has a few flaws, mainly from the compressed schedule it was given to air in, and the occasional forgetting of characters but, nonetheless, is a very solid series. It's not a ZOMG favorite series for me, but I would definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a good series.
Overall: 41/50; 82% (B) read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
Anime: Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori continues to be directed by Takahiro Omori and produced by Studio Deen. It is twenty-six episodes long and ran from October 7th, 2006 to April 6th, 2007. Futakomori has yet to be licensed Stateside.
Story: There is a rumor that if there's someone giving you absolute hell and you want to get revenge on them, there's a website that you can access only at midnight, known as Hell Correspondence. Once the name is submitted, Ai Enma (aka Jigoku Shoujo/Hell Girl) will appear to the client and give them a straw doll with a red string wrapped around its neck. If the client wishes to take revenge, then all they have to do is pull the string and Ai and her helpers will ferry the person to hell. However, there is a small catch to all this: Once the compact is made with Ai, the person who took revenge will go to hell once they've died as well.
Notice no change in the plot summary? That's because Futakomori is pretty much more of what we saw back in season one; Revenge of the Week, same episode format, which is disappointing in and of itself.
There are some pretty good stories in this season, yes; but the ratio of good episodes to mediocre decreases this season. And they finally get around to telling us the background of Ai's helpers, but the added backgrounds are all that are given in terms of development for Ai and her helpers, and don't even add all that much to the fairly one-note personalities that we saw in the last season. We do have a recurring character who, thank god, is not as annoying as Tsugumi and Hajime (who do make a cameo appearance in the second-to-last episode of the show), but is introduced about halfway through, and then dropped until about three-quarters of the way through, as if the writers suddenly remembered that they needed something resembling an overarching plot.
The additional background added for the helpers and the better episodes of the bunch do add some redeeming aspects to the plot, as does the last episode of the series, which more than makes up for what came before it. But, still, you're left with a bitter taste in your mouth at the end of this season, especially with the little caveat that's tagged on after the end credits.
There is a third season, Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae, which is supposed to start airing October 4th of this year (2008), which will maybe wrap things up once and for all. Will it? Probably not, but let me have my optimism, kthnxbye.
Art: The art is just as good as last season, if not better, especially in terms of character design in the individual episodes, and in clips which are frequently used as stock footage.
No major changes in style, so what I said last season pretty much applies here as well; rich colors, beautiful designs, combining for a stunning effect.
Music: Again, pretty much the same as what we heard last season, which was well-done and a good mix of Western orchestration, rock, and traditional instrumentation. The OP and ED are done by the same people and. while they're new, the things I said about them last season still pretty much apply here; upbeat, catchy female J-Pop OP and ED with more traditional instrumentation and lyrics that very directly relate to the show.
Seiyuu: No changes. Good performances by all, and Ai's lines are still unvaried; at least it's an easy job?
Length: Again, they could've cut this down to thirteen episodes or so and it would've still had the time to tell its story and get some good Revenge of the Weeks in, even more so since the real story doesn't start till the three-quarter's mark.
Overall: It's pretty much what you saw last season, all across the board, with a few new things thrown in here and there. So, really, if you liked what you saw last season, and don't mind the monotony, you'll like this just fine. But if you wanted more from this season... well, you might not want to watch this. Possibly redeemable in the third season (Mitsuganae), but given it's track record, it's probably not going to happen.
Overall: 37/50; 74% (C) read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
Manga, Anime: Cowboy Bebop has two manga incarnations to its name. The first, with the same title as the show, is a manga adaptation of the anime, with story by Hajime Yamate and art by Yutaka Nanten, and ran in Kadokawa Shoten's Asuka Fantasy DX magazine from April 1998 to April 2000. The second, titled Cowboy Bebop: Shooting Star, is a retelling of the anime, done by Cain Kuga, and also ran in Asuka Fantasy DX during 1997. Both have been licensed Stateside by Tokyopop, and the release date for the third and second and final volumes for both were August 20th, 2002, and June 10th, 2003.
The anime itself ran for twenty-six episodes, though it originally had a disrupted run on TV Tokyo from April 3rd to June 19th, 1998, before airing in full on a disrupted broadcast schedule on the satellite network WOWOW from October 23rd, 1998 to April 23rd, 1999. It was produced by Sunrise (famous for their work on Inuyasha and the Gundam series), and directed by Shinichiro Watanabe (famous for his work on Macross Plus and Samurai Champloo). It was licensed Stateside by Bandai Entertainment, and the box set of the Remix episodes (which was also the version I watched) was released on February 5th of this year (2008). There is a movie that was released not long after the series ended, which I will cover later in the review.
Story: It's the year 2071 AD, and mankind has colonized the entire solar system. Spike Spiegel is a Cowboy (this era's term for bounty hunters) who works with Jet Black to track down bounties and struggle to live off of them. Along the way, they pick up a few extra people and their pasts are bought to light.
Cowboy Bebop is, for the most part, a bounty of the week episode, with some minor continuing threads. All in all, it's done pretty well, with bounties delving into the pasts of characters, and being just interesting in general. The characters are an interesting bunch of people, with Ed taking the cake as crack in human form. :P
Some will complain that the plot in the last two episodes comes out of nowhere, but they're a bit inaccurate there; the threads have been building up in episodes here and there throughout the show, though they are admittedly a bit scattered.
Art: The show's a bit dated, obviously. But, compared to other shows that were airing around that time (Ruroni Kenshin, Beserk), the animation is pretty good. The designs for characters are very well done, and the designs for the ships and all the backgrounds in particular are amazingly detailed.
Music: Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts did the work for this soundtrack, and it's absolutely amazing. There's so much variety in all the variations on jazz and blues that they do for this, and it's amazingly catchy. This was one of the first soundtracks I actively noticed in a show and tried to find.
They also did work on the OP, "Tank!" (which Baccano! takes a cue from) and ED, "The Real Folk Blues", both of which are instantly memorable and fit the series quite well.
Length: I liked sixteen out of the twenty-six total episodes, and the series probably would've done well to keep those episodes in the long run and cut the rest. Still, all in all, that's a pretty good percentage.
Seiyuu: Megumi Hayashibara (famous for her roles as Rei Ayanami in Evangelion and Atsuko Chiba and Paprika in Paprika) plays Faye Valentine in this, and Jouji Nakata appears in a minor role. I admire Ed's seiyuu for being able to capture the sheer crazy of her character. All in all, a pretty good job.
Voice Actors: Cowboy Bebop was one of the first anime I watched, back when it was regularly airing on Adult Swim. When I went back to watch it, I found that, all things considered, the voice actors did a pretty good job with their roles. The voices weren't quite the same, but, all in all, still fit the characters pretty well. One of the better dubs I've seen out there.
Dub: Looking back on the dub, it was one of the better dubs I saw back when I was first getting into anime. A few lines of dialogue were altered in the English version, and some minor edits were made so that it was able to air on TV, but compared to DiC's butchering of Sailor Moon, it was a pretty good job. If only they could've all been this good.
Overall: A well-done show, with an episodic plot that delves into it's character's past that sporadically builds to the conclusion, detailed animation, amazing music, and a pretty good dub.
Definitely in my top ten shows; a must-watch.
Voice Actors: 8/10
Overall: 58/70; 83% (B) read more