1 of 1 episodes seen
The movie mostly serves as a philosophical message delving into the costs of war and peace. The ongoing terrorist attacks that occur in the movie lead Japan to take on a state of martial law as they try figuring out who is responsible for triggering the attacks and fear the possibility of American military intervention if things aren't quickly resolved. The attacks lead civilians, politicians and the military within Japan into a state of fear and disillusionment as they are unsure of whom to trust and whether or not each side has any sort of involvement in the attacks. There are occasional philosophical exchanges which, while sometimes dragging things a bit, delve into the seemingly neverending cycle of periods of war and peace for humanity. The anime is also notable for being a rare instance, for its time, at delving into relevant social issues of the early 90s in Japan where there were tensions between civilians and the country's Self-Defense Force and exploring apparent unrest with Japan's military power being restricted following the country's loss in World War II. For the most part, Mamoru Oshii does an excellent job at delivering his commentary and philosophizing on aspects of the human condition and Japanese society to fit into the world of Patlabor.
Visually, Patlabor II is the best-looking title I've seen in the franchise thus far. Scenery and character designs are drawn with realistic details as characters looked almost life-like in their drawn features and scenery shots of the city landscape of Tokyo looked like you were seeing them for real through an actual video camera. The movie mixes use of CG and hand-drawn animation in showing off scenes such as different camera shots of the Tokyo city landscape, computer layouts and different mecha in action. While action isn't the main focus of Patlabor II, the movie still showed off a nice diversity of action sequences with plenty of fluid movement such as crowds of police officers gathering together, terrorist helicopters attacking areas of Tokyo and the Labors of Section 2 taking part in the action. The soundtrack for the movie is minimally used, but mostly consists of tense and energetic tracks to accompany the differing dramatic moments that occur throughout Patlabor 2.
Overall, Patlabor 2 offers a significantly different setup for the franchise's memorable characters having more serious story developments and emphasis on philosophizing on elements of the human condition and Japanese society. While I personally enjoyed this film for its unique and more serious spin on the Patlabor franchise and find it to be the best within it, the film may not be for those who enjoy the franchise's more light-hearted and comedic offerings from its older titles. read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
For the most part, the "Shinma of the day" episodes don't do anything to advance the show's plot as many episodes were self-contained with their plots. The introduction of Reiha's character and a number of arcs seen in the show's second half help save the series from complete mediocrity as they help add more depth and dimension to aspects of Miyu's character and her conflicts. The mentioned "Light of the Sea" two-parter explores Larva's character with the life he led before meeting and becoming Miyu's partner. Reiha's character serves as a foil and rival to Miyu with their differing beliefs about hunting Shinma and the treatment of humans where their hostility towards one another increases greatly as the show progresses. The final six episodes are the high point of the series where events come to a head in Reiha and Miyu's rivalry, Miyu's past gets explored and some shocking events unfold involving one of the schoolgirls Miyu befriended from earlier in the series. Still for as much as these elements are engaging, the first half of the series is somewhat of a struggle to go through thanks to the "Shinma of the day" episodes and the series lacks a conclusion as Miyu is still fulfilling her duties as the Guardian by the end of the show.
Visually, the Miyu TV anime sports nicely drawn scenery and character designs that have a great amount of detail to them and have subdued color tones to go along with the show's dramatic mood. However, the animation for the series is rather subpar with reused animation frames, still shots and speed stripes. The soundtrack did its part to enhance the drama of key scenes in the series, mixing dramatic and traditional musical pieces.
Overall, the "Shinma of the day" really put a dent in the quality of this TV anime take on Vampire Princess Miyu. While the show does gradually improve in its second half when we start learning more about Larva and Miyu, the mentioned "Shinma of the Day" episodes seemed to drag the series out too much as Miyu TV would have been better either as a shorter series at 13 episodes or had more linear plot developments. While still engaging to watch, I'd still find the 80s OVA to be better to watch in terms of length and story setup. read more
3 of 3 episodes seen
All three shorts carry a sense of tragedy and inevitability with what the characters face in their endeavors as The Cockpit doesn't hold back any punches in depicting the reality of war and the harshness of the regimes in which the characters are entangled with. Each story accomplishes a unique take to the tragedies faced by the characters. Slipstream's lead character, the German pilot, must choose between redemption for being labeled a coward by his superiors or what he finds to be morally right through the escort mission. Sonic Boom Squadron switches perspectives quite often throughout its run between American and Japanese forces to show how each side perceives the other in regards to kamikaze methods. Knight of the Iron Dragon is the more light-hearted of the bunch with some of the silly behavior of the two soldiers as they press to reach their air base, unaware of the inevitable tragedy that is to come for them.
These perspectives of war help to paint a more human side to two of history's more infamous regimes, which also makes the film a bit controversial to more sensitive audiences who wouldn't want to see a movie that attempts to humanize these regimes despite the horrific deeds they committed in World War II. If you are sensitive to the mention of sympathizing with Nazi Germany or Emperor Hirohito's rule over Japan, then this movie will definitely not be to your liking.
Visually, The Cockpit is a well-animated anthology with nicely detailed designs of planes and naval vessels and vast shots of scenery. Aerial dogfights were nicely animated as planes were fluid in their movements and the different titles showed a nice diversity of camera shots such as first-person POV shots from the cockpit and aerial shots of a plane moving about while in action. Character designs are a bit of a mixed bag though as the shorts tend to make use of Matsumoto's drawing style for many character designs. While some characters are reasonably proportioned and drawn with proper anatomical details, others look deformed and rather crude-looking in their designs. This is especially notable in the designs of a number of characters for Sonic Boom Squadron and Knight of the Iron Dragon.
If you're a fan of war anime based on historical events and have an open mind, then The Cockpit offers some unique perspectives on two of World War II's most infamous regimes that paint them in a sympathetic light despite what inevitably happens to them. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
Broken Blade explores a young farmer named Rygalt Arrow who finds himself becoming entangled in a war between two kingdoms when he finds himself capable of piloting an ancient mecha named Delphine that others in the kingdom of Krisna are incapable of doing. Throughout the span of six movies, Broken Blade features Rygalt reuniting with the rulers of Krisna, Sigyn and Hodr, who were old friends of his from military school and adjusting to life as a soldier when he agrees to join the Krisna military. He comes to learn that another friend from military school, Zess, is fighting on the enemy's behalf.
Broken Blade has a nice number of the common cliches of a mecha anime you can expect of the genre such as the unwilling hero, the powerful mecha being the last hope for the struggling side and some merciless and violent soldiers that both kingdoms put on the battlefield out of desperation to save their hides. Despite this though, the series proved to be an engaging one thanks to Rygalt's past connections to Sigyn, Zess and Hodr, on top of adjusting to being a soldier. Broken Blade offers a solid amount of fleshing out on the four exploring their past ties together and actually making the bond feel legitimate, with some hints dropped that Sigyn might have had an interest in Rygalt during their military school days. Rygalt also gets a reasonable amount of development for his character as he starts off unwilling to get involved in the war at first until seeing the realities of it lead him to become involved in Krisna's military. The movies also took some time to explore its world as it delved into what led to the start of the conflict between the two kingdoms, the corrupt activities brewing in Athens and the "magic" technology that is part of everyday convenience for those among both kingdoms.
Visually, Broken Blade has a solid presentation with nicely detailed mecha and character designs, vast shots of scenery, vivid colors and nicely choreographed battle scenes. While there are occasional shortcuts with animation such as speed stripes and still shots, the series still did a solid job making action scenes engaging through clever use of cinematography to simulate movement and not make the movie seem like it was on a tight budget.
For all the praises I have to give Broken Blade though, it does have its glaring flaws. The movie's most engaging and promising focus, the hostility among friends Zess and Rygalt, only occurs for the title's first half before it gets cast aside when Zess' role in the storyline gets reduced with Rygalt and Krisna forces dealing with General Borcuse. While Borcuse does make for a somewhat interesting antagonist for the second half with his formidable mecha abilities and battle knowledge, he doesn't get much in the way of depth and his storyline developments aren't as interesting compared to the more personal rivalry involving Rygalt and Zess. The movie series also lacks a proper conclusion as the war between Athens and Krisna goes on, Zess is about to return to battle and there is uncertainty over what Rygalt will do from here on out.
Despite its flaws and conventional elements though, Broken Blade was still a solid watch for me with its solid characterization on Rygalt and his three close friends and the title having its engaging action sequences. This is certainly worth a look if you are a fan of mecha anime. read more
25 of 25 episodes seen
Gundam 00 gets in the bad habit of trying to introduce and resolve as many elements to its plot and character elements as possible, including some that were left unresolved from the first season. Whereas the first season took its time on exploring these elements, Gundam 00's second season goes by at a much faster pace with its developments thus it lacks the time to properly explore many aspects to its storyline or character developments. This is especially notable in that this season attempts to incorporate some romantic developments with two of the Gundam Meisters. Because of the season's sloppy handling of developments and fast pacing though, these relationships felt unnatural and lacked credibility as they seemed tacked together just to advance the plot or create pointless drama.
Speaking of characters, having too many introduced was another problem for 00's second season. Having only 25 episodes for its run, character development and focus was quite limited here, especially when the show was mixing focus on re-introducing characters from the first season and new allies and baddies in season two to pose as a boon or hindrance for Celestial Being despite its length. The nice amount of depth and development for characters among multiple factions from the first season is quite limited, enough so where only a few supporting characters got reasonable developments yet had nothing to do with the major plot of the series on the threat of A-Laws and the Innovators. And just like the last season, the main baddie, in the form of Ribbons Almark, is quite shallow being another megalomaniac who thinks he's better than everyone and wishes to rule the world for self-absorbed reasons.
While this second season of Gundam 00 retains the polished animated details and fluid animation from the first season, the action scenes also suffered quite a bit in terms of their execution here. In the first season, the Gundam Meisters would find themselves having to work together as a cohesive team in handling missions and dealing with enemy threats as all four had their specialty areas they fulfilled thanks to the differing capabilities of their Gundams, while also having the occasional foe capable of being an equal threat to them in combat. In this season though, the prominent use of the Trans-Am system and the addition of 00-Raiser to Celestial Being made for completely one-sided and uninteresting fights as the Gundams quite often found themselves relying on Trans-Am's abilities when in a pinch to plow through enemies. Plus when 00-Raiser makes its presence felt, it quite often comes in to save the day as Celestial Being is getting creamed against enemy threats, even against the much hyped Innovators who were supposedly the big major threats within this season.
Overall, this second season to Gundam 00 was quite the disappointment compared to its solid first season. A combination of sloppy execution, fast pacing and deciding to go "safe" with handling its elements make this second season to 00 quite inferior to its first season run.
13 of 13 episodes seen
The series also features Kajishima's style of comedy featuring male lead Kazuki putting up with his unwanted harem of gals and having unexpected moments of comedy from details on events that characters fail to mention (quite often happening via Misaki's father). The latter element effectively delivers well with Dual Parallel, while the focus on the harem didn't get me as amused since Kazuki and the girls are pretty much cut-out archetypes you likely would see at one point or another in other anime titles and to a great extent, these characters don't get much in the way of depth or growth. This makes them kind of bland and hard to relate with when the series later gets more serious in its plot developments.
Speaking of plot, Dual Parallel's premise on mecha fights and alternate dimensions was a bit of a disappointment for me. While the premise seems promising at first when Kazuki finds himself adjusting to life in a different world and piloting a mecha, the later mentioned serious developments in Dual Parallel's plot lead to the anime's biggest weaknesses to come about. It gets in enough of a bad habit of dropping hints and brief details over elements to the world of the series or characters that get introduced just to advance the anime's plot and it never bothers to elaborate on how these elements are important or why one should care for them. It felt like the second half was cobbled together in many areas to try creating something more serious without bothering to go into depth on how and why things were happening.
Visually, Dual Parallel sported clean details and a bright color palette in the designs of scenery and characters, while sporting Kajishima's drawing style in said character designs. The show makes frequent use of CG animation at points (such as the use of deploying mechas, camera pans of scenery and the ED sequence) which while it is well detailed, it sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the hand-drawn animation. Animation in battle scenes for Dual Parallel is nothing out of the ordinary for a TV anime with hand-drawn sequences, but it gets the job done.
Overall, Dual Parallel seemed to wow me with its comedy more than its plot and characters. The comedic delivery for the anime was spot-on for me in most areas, but the bland main cast and the messy second half did hurt its quality to a good extent for me. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
The animation for Hotori is solid featuring a great amount of detail in the designs of scenery and characters with subdued color tones that enhance the dramatic mood given off by the series. While animation isn't the prominent focus for the special, movements within scenes seemed natural and I didn't notice any shortcuts or errors within the 40 minute run of Hotori. Music for the anime consisted mostly of piano and light musical pieces that did their part to enhance dramatic moments within the series, though there was nothing that greatly stuck out for me with the title's soundtrack.
Considering the lack of action, complex animated sequences and large focus on human drama found within Hotori, this won't be a title for fans of more popular and mainstream anime titles or anything more optimistic with its mood. But if you are looking for something out of the ordinary for an anime and have interest in titles delving into elements of the human condition, Hotori: The Simple Hope for Joy is a definite watch in my personal opinion. read more
34 of 67 episodes seen
Nostalgia can be quite the strange little thing at times. Sometimes, it can make you think of times that you believe were better than they are now. Other times, you may have rose-coloured glasses on how you believed certain things were when you were younger. The latter was the case for me when I seen Zoids: Chaotic Century ten years ago on Toonami. Just starting out my fandom in anime, I thought of it to be a decent mecha adventure series focused on the exploits of Van, Fiona and their pals on Planet Zi as they become entangled in war between two rival kingdoms and deal with the threat of a powerful legendary Zoid towards later in the series. It is still recognized to this day by older anime fans as the most memorable part of the Zoids franchise as it actually had an ongoing storyline and was seen as not so bland and merchandise-driven as other parts of the franchise like New Century Zero and Fuzors.
Coming back to it ten years later with more experience, exposure and some jadedness in viewing anime, I can't necessarily say Chaotic Century's aged too well with what I've been exposed to in the past decade. The series carries a blend of the typical cliches you could find within mecha and shounen action anime. Many characters within the series carry some sort of archetype typical of both approaches such as Van your typical young, energetic, adventurous, dense and naive male lead; Irvine the aloof and troublemaking partner with a heart of gold; Raven the psychotic and merciless renegade with his eyes set on the lead; and a nice number of antagonists who are cruel, merciless and desiring power for no particular reason other than the fact they are evil. There are some interesting characters that stuck out for me not being so bland like the mercenary pair of Rosso and Viola plus Major Schubaltz, but they're mostly supporting characters to the otherwise mostly bland lead characters. I don't even want to think of the number of times I felt the urge to whack Van atop the head for his "fight first, ask questions later" mentality he exhibited at many points throughout Zoids that you would expect of enough plucky leads from shounen action anime titles.
The major elements of the plot to Chaotic Century involve discovering the origins of Fiona's character and the ongoing tensions between the Guylos Empire and Helic Republic. The former does get a reasonable amount of build up as hints are dropped throughout much of the series regarding Fiona's origins and her possible connection to the mentioned powerful Zoid. The mentioned war, on the other hand, is a bit hollow with its plot thanks to the limited amount of fleshing out there was on both kingdoms and the reasons surrounding the war as it felt mostly like a backdrop for any reason for Van and his group to face their adventures and put up with Prozen's later manipulations. I'm all for seeing an anime focused on a fictional war. But if the series isn't even gonna bother properly exploring both sides and their reasons for engagement like the Gundam franchise and Legend of the Galactic Heroes, then I'm not gonna be as invested into it.
Visually, Chaotic Century's animation is on the standard side for a late 90s to early 2000s TV anime with its scenery and character designs, with the CG animated Zoids sticking out like a sore thumb compared to the hand-drawn character designs. There are a number of occasions where the series resorts to animation shortcuts with its battles such as reused frames and speed stripes. Still, some of the concepts for the Zoids when used in battle were quite unique such as how the Geno Saurer can make itself into a charged particle gun and the use of the E-Shields from Shield Ligers as a sort of battering ram.
Still though, I can't say Zoids: Chaotic Century was the show that I remembered it to be from a decade earlier thanks to my exposure to the common cliches it makes use of and having a nice number of hollow elements to its storyline. It does beat out the mentioned New Century Zero and Fuzors in that it doesn't feel as merchandise-driven with its series run and having an actual plot that it follows. But nostalgia for anime I seen years ago can only carry a series so far for me if it doesn't have anything that sticks out with it too strongly.
23 of 23 episodes seen
Taking all this in mind, you will certainly see some clear differences in how the two halves of this first Lupin III TV anime series perceive itself. Much of the first half to the anime is following the manga adaptation's setup rather faithfully with Lupin and his crew being willing to kill off those in the way of their capers and Fujiko not afraid to use her body to dupe Lupin and others into getting what she wants. When the second half of the series comes along under Takahata and Miyazaki's direction, you will notice how it takes after the elements that many Western fans would be familiar with from Lupin in Castle of Cagliostro as Lupin's gang only steal from those who can take the loss and very likely a part of the criminal underworld, they don't kill anyone in their capers except as a last resort, will take the time to dispatch criminals who commit worst crimes than they have, Fujiko doesn't resort to her seductive charm to rob others and Lupin isn't as perverted in his womanizing.
The show's storylines are mostly episodic as they mostly consist of Lupin and his gang planning out and executing some sort of theft and/or crossing paths with Zenigata and/or whichever criminal/ wealthy person they cross paths with. There are some relevant plot details that this series takes to exploring during Lupin's capers such as how Goemon meets with and joins Lupin's gang, the unique relationship between Fujiko and Lupin and Lupin's family roots. While many episodes are self-contained with their plot and follow a standard formula in how their plots are laid out, there is enough diversity in the types of capers that Lupin's gang are involved with which keeps this first TV anime from getting stale. While the series is known for possessing quite a bit of slapstick and "toon forcing" at points with its comedy being prevalent, it was still quite entertaining and engaging to see the chemistry between members of Lupin's gang, Zenigata and whichever criminals are found within an episode and many episodes are still grounded in following the capers of Lupin. This doesn't necessarily mean all the plots to Lupin were perfect as some resorted to a sci-fi or fantasy element (time traveler, girl whose life force was connected to flowers) that were a bit too out there compared to other episodes in the series.
Being a 40-plus year old anime series, don't expect much in the visual department for Lupin III as the animation style is quite outdated, simple in its details and there are quite a bit of animation shortcuts and errors to notice. The music mostly consists of carefree and energetic musical pieces and songs from the early 70s that do well enough to get you latched on the antics and actions of the characters in this series.
If you are a Lupin III that has seen later parts of the franchise, this first series is a definite recommendation to allow one to know how things got started in the 40-plus year anime saga of the titular thief's long-running and popular franchise. read more
24 of 24 episodes seen
However, the series does suffer from some major flaws with trying to implement its themes and its plot elements. For as interesting as Casshern Sins' themes are, the first half tends to drag quite a bit as there isn't much in the way of plot advancement as many episodes tend to be episodic and self-contained with Casshern's encounters with different people in his journey. This means mostly every character introduced that you might grow to care for won't be around after the particular episode and while the exploration on morality and redemption is an interesting one, some elements explored in the world of Casshern Sins did get repetitive at points. The anime also has its fair share of unexplored plot elements and contrivances such as what triggered Casshern's moments of going berserk, certain characters conveniently falling into ruin rather quickly or having little ill effects from the ruin compared to other robots and the return of a major character who was seemingly offed at an earlier point in Casshern Sins.
Visually, Casshern Sins was of average quality for a TV anime series with details looking a bit on the simple side and having roughly-drawn details with characters and settings. I'm guessing the animation style was used as a sort of homage to the 70s anime series that Casshern Sins is supposed to be a reboot of. The subdued, dark color tones used for the anime go along well with the it's somber, dark mood and apocalyptic world. Animation isn't too impressive either as the series has a nice number of animation shortcuts it resorts to with still shots and speed stripes.
Overall, I guess I found Casshern Sins to be a bit of a mixed bag. While making effective use of its moral themes at a number of points and offers solid focus on its world and characters, the series does drag quite a bit in its first half with its episodic stories, has some major elements unexplored and some moments happening too conveniently just for the sake of pointless drama. It's still a decent series, but the mentioned flaws to Casshern Sins still weigh the series down quite a bit for me. read more