26 of 26 episodes seen
The lack of depth also rings true for many elements of the show's storyline and the title's world-building. The series seemed to be dropping hints that Gram might have a past connection to the earliest humans who colonized Mars in the first half of the show, yet this builds up to nothing. There are hostilities between Mars and Earth for the latter's occupancy and influence being felt on Mars and contributing to large amounts of poverty and crime to occur, yet this is mostly a backdrop to the adventures of Gram and the Ship of Aurora. No explanation is given as to why all of Mars is covered in water. Ester makes mention of being part of a race of beings called the Nautical Witches, yet the show never bothers telling us what they are. Nothing is revealed over how an RB is able to come under Gram's control. I could go on and on pointing out the lack of depth and explanation that Mars Daybreak has for many elements to its plot and world.
I suppose the best way you could enjoy this series is if you don't ask questions and just enjoy the comedy and adventure. But many comedic moments in Mars Daybreak fell flat for me and the adventure element has its setbacks thanks to the character-focused episodes feeling like padding that add nothing to the show since we don't learn much about the characters anyway and even then, most of the developments of the adventure are cliched and quite predictable if you've seen enough titles like this. You know that the Ship of Aurora crew will prevail in many of their missions unless the plot demands for a twist in developments, which occur in the final episodes of the show. Even then, said twist is very predictable considering you could see it coming from a mile away since the Ship of Aurora crew knew how fishy things were with this development. It's not that I find this series to be bad at all. It's just there's nothing unique in it that sticks out for me compared to similar offerings I've seen in the past.
Overall, this series may be worth a look if you're showing it to a younger audience (since the show was made for young boys in Japan) or if this is one of your first anime titles you are checking out. But otherwise, Mars Daybreak doesn't really offer anything for more seasoned anime fans unless you can look past the depth issues and lack of unique elements. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
The biggest gripes I have with A Wind Named Amnesia come from its pacing, philosophizing and elements to the believability of its plot. The pacing for this movie goes by at a fairly quick pace, which leaves little time for the audience to take in events and themes that the movie is trying to explore. With the movie seemingly taking an approach to its storyline like Kino's Journey, A Wind Named Amnesia would have better benefited with being either an OVA series or short TV anime so it gave viewers more time to take in plot developments.
The philosophizing for Wind Named Amnesia is also nothing too thought-provoking. It pretty much milks plot formulas related to religion and science that are used in one form or another in anime and other fictional titles.
The anime also suffers in having some pretty big holes in logic regarding our two lead characters. Wataru's too naive and dense to even comprehend the most basic of concepts, which kills much of the intrigue over his quest of trying to understand humanity. The fool even outright states at a point in the film that "it's too complicated for me", which kills the whole point of the film being its comprehension of human morality outside a civilized setting. He's also rather trusting of unfamiliar people like Sophie too easily, which is especially insulting when we come to learn who she is and her reasons for tagging along with Wataru are (the latter also not making much sense).
Pretty much, the background to Wataru's character and the persistence of the mech going after our male lead were what saved this baby from tempting me to give it a lower rating. Beyond that, the movie is enough of a mess in its pacing, storytelling and themes to be worth any praise that others would give it. read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
The series does have its issues though. Alice and her assistants are quite limited in depth and development for their characters, the former especially an issue as much of the progression with cases in this series stem from Alice's expertise and knowledge with computers and human behavior. Heaven's Memo Pad also seems to make big efforts in trying to glorify being a NEET through Alice and her cohorts and dabbling into moe pandering with Alice's character, both being detractors because of their clear gearing towards the otaku crowd. A couple cases also slip in their quality as they're mostly used as reprieve from a case arc by incorporating more comedy than usual, though these efforts came across as quite flat for me.
Visually, Heaven's Memo Pad is solid in the designs of characters and scenery sporting vivid colors and a good amount of detail with the various city landscapes, insides of buildings and even the inside of Alice's apartment with its various computers and stuffed animals. Animation is implemented where needed in dramatic and tense moments during cases which can look decent in motion, though the series usually resorts to still shots in mundane scenes.
Overall, Heaven's Memo Pad is solid in telling engaging and tense stories with many of the cases that Alice and her detective agency tackle, exploring some of the show's prominent characters and delving into some touchy social issues. The show has its shortcomings in a couple episodes, the lack of depth on Alice and her assistants and trying to appeal too hard to the otaku fanbase with its glorification of being a NEET and exploiting Alice as moe bait at points. Still if you can look past the issues, this is still a solid series worth looking into. read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
Oh fun, another dud from Gonzo I get to rip apart. Gantz came out in the same year as Elfen Lied in delivering a brutally violent anime with enough gore and nudity to go around. But while Elfen Lied at least had a decent story and meaning to elements of its violence and nudity, Gantz is enough of a mess in its storytelling and what it was trying to depict.
The series is set up to feature those killed in various ways being brought back from the dead to be forced into a game of survival by a mysterious metal ball named Gantz to kill off various aliens. Don't bother expecting any answers as to what the survival game is all about and what are up with the aliens, as the series is mostly focused on the various aliens that the Gantz team members have to fight off and there is very little focus on what their purposes are and why they are bringing people back from the dead just to put them through a survival game against aliens. Much of the violence in the series comes from the gory ways in which the various aliens and players of the game get offed, which Gantz makes enough of a spectacle of outside of its nudity and sexual content (with some occasions of near-rape and being molested by a dog).
To a great extent, the characters in Gantz are depicted to be the lowest within society from criminals to mentally disturbed teens. With exception to Katou (whose story saves this from being a complete dud for me), mostly every character in this series is either quite shallow in depth, completely worthless and/ or enough of a complete scumbag with their acts where you could care less about them. This is especially bad as the male lead of the series, Kei Kurono, is a selfish pervert of a teen aroused by any attractive woman he encounters and the moment I seen him more turned on from seeing a naked Kei Kishimoto about to be raped than concerned for her well being had me hating him from the start of the series. The series also has a bad enough habit of having some of the latest "additions" to Gantz gawking like a bunch of idiots at the sight of the aliens instead of either fighting them or running off scared. If many of these people are supposed to be depicted as real-life humans, then the makers of Gantz have done a poor job in convincing me these are folks I could identify with.
Visually, Gantz does offer a great amount of visual detail in the designs of its characters and scenery, with the former seeming quite realistic in how they were made. The action scenes are engaging to see with the Gantz players being up against alien threats with occasional implementation of CG animation and some noticeable shortcuts. The music used in this series makes use of a gritty hip-hop song for the OP, a soft ballad for the ED and a mix of orchestrations and clanging sound effects for insert music. They do their part to enhance the mood of Gantz, but they don't really have anything that stuck out for me.
Overall, Gantz is mostly mindless in its focus on the survival game that Kurono, Katou and others go through. With most characters being shallow or unlikeable, a barebones plot and way too much glorification of its gore and sexual content, Gantz isn't a series worth hopping into unless you are going into it for the third mentioned element to its presentation. read more
24 of 24 episodes seen
My snarking in the parenthesis of the previous paragraph should clue you in what makes this take on Shakespeare's classic a major issue for me. It relies so heavily on cliches for its plot and character developments, that it's laughable. Romeo's the idealistic and courageous young boy, Lord Montague the merciless and power-hungry ruler, Tybalt the revenge-seeking loner, Mercutio the opportunistic power-snagger, and so forth. Basically, mostly everyone in the series is tacked on with an archetype and they don't really develop very much out of it. In addition, the characters tend to make very illogical decisions in many instances that the series tries playing up as dramatic yet come across more ridiculous, especially in the finale of the series. Only character I really found myself caring for was "Willy", whose foppish and flamboyant take on William Shakespeare provided some humor and sanity for me in this mess of a series.
Visuals were decent for the most part with vivid color and a good amount of visual detail applied for scenery and character designs. Action scenes were somewhat engaging with the implementation of Dragon Steeds used for travel and engaging into battles, though animation wasn't a major element in their use since many such scenes were flourishes and weren't relying on regular animation shortcuts. The dramatic musical score for the series is nice to listen to featuring orchestral pieces and a nice ballad from Korean singer Lena Park for an OP and insert song, though are quite overwhelming in their implementation at points during key scenes in the series.
Overall, I found Romeo x Juliet to be quite underwhelming. The anime tries being dramatic in its take on Shakespeare's tragic work, but takes too many liberties with its source material and dabbles into too many cliches to be a unique work compared to Gonzo's earlier effort with Gankutsuou. Definitely don't waste any time with this one. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
What does hurt the movie for me to a good extent is the pacing. The movie's events fly by a quick pace, which prevent any dramatic or suspenseful moments from encounters with the monsters or revelations from having time to sink in and allow for the maximum emotional impact to be felt by the viewers. In addition, some of the prominent characters in King of Thorn felt rather underdeveloped as either they had little depth or weren't given enough depth to allow me to connect with them fully. Also be warned, this movie can get quite violent at points as a number of characters die in very bloody ways thanks to the monsters they encounter.
The visuals for King of Thorn were also a bit of a mixed bag for me. The regular animation had a great amount of visual detail put into scenery and character designs, with subdued color tones going along well with the tense mood the movie wanted to give off. On the other hand, the CG animation used in the movie, while fluid in action scenes, sticks out like a sore thumb in many instances in its rendering of vehicles, the various monsters and even the characters during action sequences for some odd reason. In the case of characters, their rendering looked quite rough compared to their regular designs and were not as well-detailed.
But while having its issues with animation and pacing, King of Thorn is still a solid movie worth killing two hours to watch through thanks to its plot buildup concerning what led to the institution inhabited by Kasumi and others to become a hellish place they have to survive through. read more
39 of 39 episodes seen
Hyouge Mono did quite a bit for me in sticking out from the mold of many recent anime offerings. The series offers a mix of comedy and drama in its focus on Furuta Sasuke's love of tea ceremonies and the complicated politics surrounding the war for territories in Japan's Sengoku era. The series is a historical title with emphasis on famous figures of the time period and its politics. With the large focus on Japan's history in the period, one should have enough knowledge of the era to get the most enjoyment out of this series, especially on the differing schools of Japanese aesthetics commonplace in the era. Plus with its rather unique storytelling and comical style, the series won't be for everyone.
The comedy element of the series comes from some of the exaggerated depictions shown of the characters, which was quite hilarious for me in many instances throughout the show's run. Examples of this include Furuta Sasuke's devotion to tea ceremonies and aesthetics bordering on fanaticism, Oda Nobunaga being quite over-the-top in showing off his wealth and Date Masamune acting out dramatics kabuki theater style. The show also shows off some of the most exaggerated facial designs I've seen from a recent anime title whenever something unexpected happens with the characters, adding more to Hyouge Mono's charm.
Aside from the comedy, Hyouge Mono still has its serious moments, though in a way different from how most historical Japanese titles depict older times. Rather than focus mostly on the battles occurring within the Sengoku era, Hyouge Mono is more focused on political banter and the large role aesthetics have on Japanese society at large. On the political end, Hyouge Mono shows the tensions and corruption of the period such as influential figures making grabs at power to expand their territory, negotiations between warring daimyo, planned assassinations of major figures and relations with other Eastern countries. While this aspect to the plot may seem dull, it does add more dimension to understanding life in the Sengoku era in a different way, beyond the glorifying of battles seen in samurai films.
The focus on Japanese aesthetics is a little more complicated for me to cover, based on both my limited understanding of it and the differing schools of thought with it. I do know aesthetics is a big thing for Japan's cultural identity, which Hyouge Mono shows in a big way by highlighting the clashing beliefs that several characters in the series have on what kind of aesthetics the country should have moving forward. This is especially prominent in later episodes of the series when a prominent character gains power and tries enforcing his beliefs on aesthetics, adding also to the show's political elements.
The series isn't all plot though, as it also explores how the various historical characters in the series are affected by the various changes occurring within the country. Loyalties get tested, personal beliefs are put into question, some put their status and lives at risk to challenge the present status quo, some feel the pain of being used or losing loved ones due to the era's politics. It's quite the engaging stuff, especially with Sasuke Furuta's character who gets major focus in observing how those influential to his way of life suffer thanks to the era's politics and this usually gets quite dramatic.
Visually, Hyouge Mono is pleasing on the eyes with clean details and vivid color used in designing the various settings and characters of the show. The character designs stick out quite prominently as characters are drawn to be more realistic with their details, having a diverse number of features present with characters and none of the typical beautiful, rainbow-color and big-eye drawing style employed with designs. The mentioned exaggerated facial designs look silly and do well at adding to the anime's comedy. While animation isn't the major highlight of the series, it does its part to depict character movement and showing the actions of characters in both serious and comical moments.
Overall, Hyouge Mono made for a rather unique watch for me as it mixed comedy and drama in exploring elements to Japan's Sengoku era that I've never seen focused on in past historical titles. The lack of action and its unique storytelling style won't be for everyone, but is a definite watch if you are looking for something that sticks out quite heavily from more recent anime offerings.
22 of 22 episodes seen
Psycho Pass makes use of its setting to explore the extremes of a strictly-regulated society and human free will. In the case of the show's society, Psycho Pass explores the flaws of heavily entrusting technology to service human society at large as the Japanese human populace have left the Sibyl System to control and influence just about every element of society at large, from media control to terminating criminals without putting them through a judicial process to deciding career paths for a person that best benefit society. This could also be seen as a criticism of Japanese society's mentality of servicing group needs over the individual, as the series depicts that the Sibyl System was made in mind mostly to aid in servicing and benefiting society while overlooking human factors of the individual such as desire and morality. This especially becomes prevalent in later episodes when some pretty shocking secrets concerning the true nature of the Sibyl System are revealed.
The exploration of free will's extremes come in the form of the title's main antagonist, Shogo Maskishima. Throughout the series, he is depicted as a humanist with extreme beliefs in free will where humanity gives into their darkest desires with no hindrances, as he is shown to be the major influence behind the criminals that the Enforcers and Inspectors of Unit One confront in the show's earlier episodes. While knowing how flawed the Sibyl System is, Makishima appears to believe that there should be no regulatory body that exists to allow one to truly express themselves. Obviously, this mentality is flawed in that man will descend into chaos without some sort of order to keep humanity's darker impulses in check.
Moving on from breaking down themes, Psycho Pass does do well in taking its time to explore its plot and characters. The first half of the series is focused on Akane and the members of Unit One dealing with several criminal cases that are eventually linked to Makishima and the second half explores the group trying to halt Makishima's activities with the mentioned shocking secrets on the Sibyl System eventually being revealed. The show takes the time to explore the backgrounds and relationships between characters within Unit One, even including how the Sibyl System effects the mentalities of many within the group. Akane gets some considerable development throughout the series as her character gradually changes as she becomes exposed to the realities of both being an Inspector in Unit One and the reality of the society that she is supposed to protect.
In terms of mood, the series is consistently depicted as a dark and violent one thanks to the heavy themes that the series dabbles into and the intense violence the show shows at points, which is especially notable when the Dominators of Unit One come into play to reduce criminal targets to a gory mess. The show's not even afraid to kill off civilians and even members of Unit One thanks to the shady characters seen throughout this series. As a result, this will certainly not be a series appropriate to show to younger audiences.
The show does have a few minor issues for me. While an interesting villain for the series, I did feel Makishima was more a symbol of the mentioned free will theme than a character as he never got any fleshing out for why he behaves as he does and why he believes in his extreme humanist beliefs. In addition, the series appeared to have an incomplete feel as life goes on with the Sibyl System controlling Japan and the fates of a few major characters are left unclear.
Visually, Psycho Pass made for one of the better animated titles I seen from last year. There is plenty of detail shown in the Tokyo city landscapes and character designs with darker color tones made use of to emphasize the dark mood and themes of Psycho Pass. Character designs are diverse with each character having differing facial designs and clothing styles to complement the type of person they are. A good amount of CG animation was made use of in the designs of vehicles, robots and the various technologies used in the future world of the series, which does stick out prominently at many points in the series. Movements in Psycho Pass were very fluid for the most part with characters walking or running at a natural pace and there are a good number of engaging fight scenes that take place throughout the show between Unit One and other criminals, through either hand-to-hand or use of weapons.
Overall, Psycho Pass may very will be one of the best titles I seen from 2012 with its excellent look into a dystopia future for Japan that has affected the populace on an individual and societal level and the engaging developments that members of Unit One face with their personal morals and confronting latent criminals throughout the series. If you don't mind a dark story with graphic violence depicted at points, then Psycho-Pass is a definite watch to look into. read more
27 of 27 episodes seen
As for the show's plot, it is your standard fantasy adventure series with the first eight episodes having a different take to the Scepter of Domination storyline from the OVAs and having another adventure years later with the knight Spark. I hear this TV anime is supposed to be a more faithful adaptation of its fantasy novel source material, but I don't know enough about the novels to know of how faithful it is. Regardless, the anime goes through the motions of having the audience know of its world, the gods worshiped and the creatures that inhabit it. To a great extent, the series follows the standard plot setups of a fantasy RPG game with our male hero of a knight (Parn for first eight episodes, Spark for rest of series) having a party of differing classes (mage, dwarf, mercenary, thief, etc...) accompany him in a journey to combat the plot of an evil baddie (Wagnard). The greater character depth here gives many of the characters more dimension than what their "class" archetype would give, though the fantasy setup occasionally milks cliches in its plot developments that cause the series to drag at points or suffer in quality. This is especially noticeable in the final several episodes of the series that milk enough cliches that you could find used in the final level of an RPG game's storyline. In addition, the series also comes with an SD omake mini-episode at the end of each episode to the show which is quite silly in tone compared to the main series and your mileage will vary on how well you enjoy them (winded up skipping them after a few episodes).
Visually, Lodoss War TV appears to use a more traditional character design style here compared to the OVAs, meaning most characters in the show have the "big eyed" and attractive look you can find used in many popular anime titles. The designs are nicely drawn and have a good amount of visual detail to them. Same treatment is given to scenery which have a diverse number of environments drawn thanks to the different locales that the parties of warriors travel through and fight in. The animation for the TV anime isn't much different from the OVA, meaning you can expect frequent use of still shots, speed stripes and other animation shortcuts during heated battle scenes.
The music to the series is perhaps the high point of Lodoss War TV for me. Insert music mostly consisted of orchestral music pieces that give the series an epic feel and Yoko Kanno's composition of the title's opener song, "Kiseki no Umi" sung by Maaya Sakamoto, make it among one of the better openers I've listened to from an anime.
Overall while still having its issues from its typical fantasy-adventure mold, Lodoss War TV is still an improvement from the OVA series thanks to its greater character depth and focus on exploring the world of Lodoss. If you have interest in medieval/ fantasy-style adventure titles, this is a decent series worth having a look at. read more
4 of 4 episodes seen
The series depicts a post-apocalyptic future where most of the Earth has been flooded and humanity is at war with a army of mutant sea creatures given sentience by a rogue human scientist. The main focus of the anime is on a young man named Hayami Tatsu who is recruited by the submarine forces of Blue No. 6 to aid in humanity's efforts against the creatures. He strangely seems indifferent at wanting to contribute to the cause as he is acting pacifistic, but the series explores why he acts as he does as it progresses. This makes him the most well-developed character of the series and a major highlight for me, though that's not saying much as I'll cover later in the review.
The animation for Blue Submarine No. 6 is probably some of the most impressive I've seen for a 1990s anime thanks to its nice mix of CG animation and traditional hand-drawn animation, possibly rivaling the quality I seen with the excellent animation work for Macross Plus. While the CG animation looks rough in detail compared to more modern implementations of the technology, it still features nicely rendered designs of sunken buildings and the various submarines in action throughout the OVA's run. Animation was very fluid in this series as well, as characters moved about at a natural pace, sea creatures swam convincingly fast in the water and submarine battles were nice on the eyes as the CG animation produced air bubble effects for the use of said submarines and any torpedoes they fired in the heat of battle. Character designs were reasonably detailed, though human designs were a bit on the plain side. However, some of the character designs for the sentient sea creatures were quite unique and original for an anime series, particularly designs for Verg and Mutio.
Getting all praises out of the way though, Blue Submarine No. 6's quality suffers quite a bit thanks to its pacing. The series immediately throws you into its action and rushes through its events at a very quick pace. This, combined with the limited run time and episode count of the OVA, greatly limits any opportunities for world building and fleshing out of plot and characters, as only Hayami and Mutio get any real fleshing out or development. Mostly every other character is tacked on with a character archetype and we get little to no details revealed about them. The anime seemed like it was trying to express some sort of moral lesson about how man's excesses to the environment could lead to the future of Blue Submarine No. 6 without any coexistence between man and nature, as seen with Zorndyke's monologues and Hayami's actions. Yet without any reasonable fleshing out or world building, the effectiveness of expressing this lesson is greatly crippled.
But perhaps the worst feature to this OVA would be its choice of soundtrack. Consisting entirely of upbeat jazz pieces, the musical tracks are totally out of place for the series and are more obnoxious on the ears than enjoyable for me, possibly rivaling the annoyance I had with the synthesized techno-rock soundtrack used for Geneshaft.
Overall while visually pleasing and having some promising elements to its storytelling, Blue Submarine No.6 is another anime that I felt had wasted potential thanks to its limited run time greatly limiting what focus could be given to characters and its world, hence adding another subpar work to Gonzo's rep for the varying quality of their works that I've seen. read more