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52 of 52 episodes seen
It's not an unfamiliar story: a humble working class kid (Capeta) with a natural aptitude for a sport struggles to climb to the top. Toss in the additional weight of a bunch of financial difficulties with his never-die attitude and you've basically got Rocky (or Hajime no Ippo) in a go kart. It starts with Capeta in elementary school and follows him through his mid-teens. It feels a little young and simple, but there's plenty of action and drama and excitement.
I'm kind of a sucker for this sort of story so I don't know how much you should trust me, but I found the story entertaining and heartwarming. It doesn't even come close to original or unique and it's pretty repetitive (how many obstacles and disadvantages does one kid have to face?!?!), but it's loaded with fighting spirit and nail-biting races.
I'm not a huge fan of the way the characters look, but it's fine. The character designs remind me a lot of Hajime no Ippo. The action of the races and the backgrounds are done well enough and I thought the general style was really appropriate to the atmosphere of the story.
I thought the music was good and well-used. There was something about the song they used for the end credits (and for those "special" moments ;)) that appealed to me even though I can't put my finger on what it was. I also thought that they did a good job of putting the sound on the races: when to emphasize the shouts from the crowd, when to focus on the roar of the engines, the squeal of the tires. The sound of the races really added to the overall enjoyment and emotion of the moment for me.
Unfortunately, some of the voice acting got on my nerves. There were just one or two voices that really disagreed with me (especially the younger characters) and it annoyed me enough to reduce my overall enjoyment of the scenes they were in.
I think in any story like this, you need to really be able to buy into the main character. If you don't think he's admirable, charismatic and heroic, then the whole premise of the story doesn't work. Because of that, I think they really shove what a great, amazing guy Capeta is down your throat. I wouldn't be surprised if some people found it overbearing or hard to swallow. He's a little too perfect and it feels like he's more saint than man. Luckily, I was pretty willing to accept their characterization of him.
There was a point when I started feeling like everyone in Capeta's support system were getting a little silly: has there ever been a bunch of grown men who cried together more easily or more often? And some of the minor side characters (and their episodes) felt somewhat superfluous to me. But, generally, the supporting cast does a good job of narrating Capeta's struggles and voicing the audience's feelings.
For all it's flaws, I still really enjoy watching this series. I understand it's melodramatic and generic and somewhat heavy-handed, but I still get caught up in the tension and the drama of the races and Capeta's struggles to do his best no matter what the circumstances are. I didn't take the non-racing moments of the show too seriously and just had fun watching the show.
While I don't think that this is a must-see for people, I think that people who enjoy sports animes and like stories about rising to the challenge and overcoming the odds can have a good time with Capeta. It's just wholesome, good-natured fun. ^.^ read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
The story gets more interesting as the show goes on and the storytelling itself becomes better executed as well. The heart of the story here is really about loyalty and friendship and how those ideas actually manifest in real action and real practice in the gritty, dirty lives of people just trying to survive. In a odd way, I feel like you could even make an argument about how this is a microcosm for civilization (but I won't take it that far here -- lucky you! ;D ).
There's an... interesting sci-fi-ish bent to the story that adds something interesting to the story, but at the same time creates all this extra fuss that I don't think was strictly necessary. But it's probably gravy if you like that sort of thing and easily overlooked if you don't.
The art was fine -- not necessarily quite my style, but fine overall. It sort of worked for the nature of the story, I thought. A style that was overly polished or glossy wouldn't have worked with the tone and atmosphere. And I thought the action sequences were pretty well put together.
The music gets a bunch of attention from some people. I thought it was okay: probably just slightly better than average. I liked the way it sounded and I thought it was well used. It just wasn't brilliant. I think if you landed here because you were told that the music here was like Cowboy Bebop's, it's a little disappointing. I also think that if you're not actively comparing them and you're just watching Gungrave on it's own merits, it's good enough.
The characters were definitely interesting. The primary focus being Brandon Heat and his relationship with Harry McDowel. ...It's hard to figure out what to say without giving the storyline away. I will say that I think that there's a surprising simplicity to the characters -- despite the twists and turns of their interactions and their relationships. In a way, I think you can argue that you can boil down a bunch of the major characters into short, concise phrases. And I like that in this context. It seemed convincing in a way, because I kind of think that when you're struggling for everything, you end up focused on a few things and complexity is kind of a luxury that they couldn't really afford.
Overall, I enjoyed the second half considerably more than the first half. I thought that everything after the clear turning point of the story (you'll know what I mean if you've seen it) was a clear step better than anything before it. I particularly enjoyed the end, I thought that was a neat way of conveying what they wanted to convey without getting melodramatic. I do think that if you enjoyed Cowboy Bebop, you'd probably enjoy this too -- despite the differences; they're similar in very broad strokes. read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
Story: The story focuses on Honda Goro, who is in kindergarten when the show starts. The first quarter or so of the series focuses on Goro in kindergarten and just establishing his personality, life and family and friends. The rest of the series jumps ahead to when Goro starts little league and... let the baseball begin!
Art: It's clean and crisp and pretty simple. I certainly didn't have any complaints. The style doesn't have as much depth as the more mature series out there, but I think it's appropriate for the subject matter and the ages of the characters. In other words, it suits the story. =)
Sound: The OP/ED are fine... whereas I don't love them (and I so rarely do), they don't bother me in anyway either, which is pretty good, imo. ;) I did like the voice acting. I thought they did a good job with their characters and their emotions without going overboard and overacting the way some shows do. There is a little Engrish, but... I figure if you watch enough anime, you just get used to it -- it's intended for a Japanese audience after all.
Character: Goro's great. I found myself rooting for him and cheering him on; he's just really charismatic. He's enthusiastic and single-minded and I can't help but appreciate that type of personality, especially in a sports anime. His father is loveable and one of my favorite anime dads. Even his kindergarten teacher is cute and likeable. And during the course of the show, you get to see a bunch of teammates and opponents that have their own brand of flavor and charm that adds nicely to the mix.
Enjoyment: This probably sounds so cliche and fake, but seriously... I laughed, I cried, I groaned and I cheered. For real. And maybe that says something more about me than the show, but it was an unexpected emotional roller coaster in a way. I mean, I really thought it was just going to be another generic shounen and it would just kill some time, but it ended up being compelling and I really felt sucked in and interested. So much so that I'm currently still watching it in its fourth season (btw, girls, Goro grows up to be kind of a hottie and so does Toshi ;D).
Just for reference: S1 focuses on elementary school level little league; S2 Goro's in his last year of middle school and his first year of high school; S3 is the rest of high school; and S4 is Goro post-high school. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
This single episode tells the story of a really good high school rookie and the dynamic he creates on his new high school's baseball team; more specifically, how another pitcher reacts when faced with all the talent and skill of this new pitcher. So, again -- like in Oofuri, you can really see the insight and thoughtfulness the mangaka brings to the genre of sports anime generally and the mental aspect to preparation and execution in baseball specifically.
The art is the same style as used in Oofuri, it's probably a little unusual for some people. I like it now; it's grown on me considerably. The colors are so rich and bright in a way that really makes me think of that time of year. The faces are still somewhat problematic: I personally still think that some characters bear too much of a resemblance to others and I still find it somewhat confusing at times -- for instance, there's one background person in this dvd episode that, to me, looked a lot like one of the recurring characters from Oofuri, but it wasn't him.
The voice actors here did a good job. I liked everyone and no one was particularly annoying. I'm still not a huge fan of the op/ed (which are from the regular season), but ...I guess you can't have everything at once. ;)
The character is the really interesting part of this. In the regular season, Haruna is introduced through the perspective of one of the main characters of the show (Abe) and the viewer doesn't get much of an opportunity (though there is some) to formulate an opinion about him outside of Abe's viewpoint. The Haruna you meet here doesn't seem like the same person and part of the story's charm is that this is Haruna's chance to make a second impression. At the same time, that tactic is such a great way to revisit one of the themes from the regular season, namely how people can can change in different environments and communities.
I think Asa Higuchi is brilliant. I have watched a lot of sports animes and I have watched a lot of shounens similar in style and plotline and I think that the level of insight and introspection and attention to the psychology of sport and of winning is extraordinary. And in a genre that's (arguably by necessity) fascinated with brawn more often than brain, it is refreshing and entertaining to see a show that's interested in both the physical and mental readiness necessary to achieve a goal.
Even if you refuse to watch 25 episodes of Oofuri, if you're at all interested (and you'd have to be to read this, right?) at least check this out. Really. XD It's probably labeled as episode 26.
^.^ read more
24 of 24 episodes seen
[Note: Even though I'm trying to make sure I don't spoil anything about the anime specifically, my review does assume you're familiar with the very basic premise of the novel and the implications of that premise. Just in case, I've put spoiler tags in.]
Story: So, if you don't know by now... this is a retelling of the Dumas classic, The Count of Monte Cristo. And despite the fact that I'm not so keen on the original, I actually found this series to be really compelling. I thought that showing the story through Albert's eyes made it so interesting. I thought that showing the viewpoint of an innocent bystander of an arguably justified revenge was such a revealing and insightful tactic and explored an overlooked facet to a relatively common plot device.
You have to see the style to fully understand it, but the art is jarring. And, for me, it took a lot of getting used to because it was a little overwhelming and overbearing in my opinion. There's a lushness and a richness to the scenery in the background that's incredible and nothing else I've seen even comes close to it. It's amazing. When you see the detail and the color on these lavish walls, carpets, and flowers and landscapes, cityscapes... it's breathtaking in this heavy sort of baroque way. But, at the same time, some of that same texture and color and pattern in the forefront was distracting -- I would end up staring at a character's neckcloth, jacket or hair instead of the subtitles or their expressions. It took away from the experience even as it added to the atmosphere and the intent of the show.
There's a part of me that thinks this is probably one of those instances where reading a subtitle has a greater cost to the viewer than usual -- because if I could just listen instead of reading, maybe I wouldn't have noticed my obsession with the way the clothes looked so much. If you're more adaptable than I am or less fascinated by the style of animation, I think you'd enjoy the art a bit more than I did. I personally would have loved to see the same style used with a lighter touch, maybe -- at least on the characters themselves -- even though I understand that the very ostentation of the art kind of underlines the overindulgent wealth of the aristocracy. And I never, ever, ever got used to those noses.
Normally, I never notice sound outside of shows about music, but I couldn't help but notice the music here. I thought it was very well chosen for the atmosphere and the mood of the show. The op and ed were a little... out of sync with the rest of the show, I thought, but I actually did like the music there too, which is super-rare for me. More importantly, I thought the voice actors did a great job and whoever cast them did an excellent job. Their voices were age and life-style appropriate, I thought, and there wasn't an annoying one in the bunch.
Character: I thought the portrayal of Albert was stunning. To put the whole show through his eyes and have him go from boy to man during what can only be considered a life-changing series of events when none of it was truly in his control -- basically, following him through this vicious storm going by the name of the Count of Monte Cristo... brilliant.
With something like this, I don't know how much of the character development of the other characters should be attributed to the producers and how much belongs to Dumas himself. But I do know that as much as I didn't like Albert for his foolishness, his naivete and his stubbornness... his character and the events that shape and mold his character throughout the series was one of the most compelling, original and powerful portrayals of the loss of innocence that I've seen.
And I shouldn't even get started on the Count himself -- this would end up 40,000 words and you'd lose all will to finish reading, if you haven't already. ;D But there's so much going on with him and the cost of revenge and the loss of humanity... oh, man.
If you can't tell, I ended up liking this show more than I thought I would. And this is despite having a few issues with the ending. And to be honest, I don't know if I'll ever want to rewatch it, but I was impressed and enthralled while watching it this time. This is partially because I kind of have a lower tolerance for rewatching things that assume I don't know what's going to happen next (it's a different experience when you know exactly what's going to happen next and how, right?).
But I'm really, really glad that I got to experience this first watching of the series because I think it was not only a very good show but also a nice reminder of how much "new" and "innovative" and "daring" is still out there. It's kind of a duller version of that feeling I had when I first saw Cowboy Bebop (and all I had seen of anime before that were the various DragonBalls, Pokemon, Yugioh, Sailor Moon type shows) and first realized, "Look at what they're doing with animation and music in storytelling... holy cow. Amazing." Now, look at what they're doing with art and character and perspective in storytelling... holy cow.
I can't believe I was just sitting on watching this for so long. In a way, I'm just really sorry that I let the style of animation drive me away from the show for as long as it did. I grew to appreciate and enjoy the art and I thought the story and the character development were way beyond my original expectations. And the nice thing is... if you don't want to think about any of the stuff I've been talking about, the plot can stand on it's own two feet. I think, even ignoring the art, the allegory, and complexity and nuance of emotion, there's a solid drama/suspense story that will hook a lot of people.
Also, I think there's so much to the story that even if you are familiar with the original version or the movie or whatever, there's still so much going on and there's so much that's different from original that Gankutsuou is still interesting and entertaining to watch. I mean, it's been a while since I've read the book, but I remembered the skeleton of the story... and I was still at the edge of my seat. Maybe you will be too? =D read more
101 of 101 episodes seen
Imagine GTO in high school and determined to learn how to play basketball to get closer to the girl he has a crush on -- tah-dah, Slam Dunk! The story has the expected sort of "learn a skill, show a skill" repetitive story line common to a lot of sports and shounen animes, but it's punched up by a little delinquency, a little reformation, and a tiny bit of one-sided romance. The one real downside to the story is the occasional trips into a DBZ/Naruto-esque timefreeze: sometimes one basketball game takes, like, 3 episodes and you wonder how it's possible that only 2 minutes anime-time have gone by in the last 20 real-time. ;)
The art is a little rough sometimes, kind of typical for the time period. There's a lot of panning across stills and repetitive looks at the same image. It can be a little annoying, but I kept on reminding myself when it was made (1993-1996!) and I got over it. The one thing that I noticed the most was probably the fact that the key on their court looks different from a real key in a NBA or Olympic court, but I decided to stop thinking about it a few episodes in.
The character of the main character is what makes the whole thing entertaining, I think. He is brash, tactless, rough and stupid -- and, for some odd reason, really funny. Even when he gets on my nerves, he does something random and ridiculous and retarded, and it just ends up cracking me up. He's always calling himself a genius (when he doesn't know how to do anything) and laughing in this obnoxious, cocky manner and making awful mistakes, but he's somehow loveable anyway and you end up rooting for him because he's just that charismatic. The thing that's really nice about him is just how flawed he is... he's got natural athleticism, but he's far from being a natural on the basketball court and he's loyal, strong, and dedicated, but he's also impatient and hot-tempered and loud. And he's really nicely backed up by a team of interesting, diverse guys who each (eventually) get their time in the limelight and each have their own personal struggles to overcome while striving to work together as a team.
Overall, I enjoyed watching Slam Dunk -- despite the really slow pacing of some of the actual games. It's funny in that rough, delinquent way that will be familiar to people who've seen Hajime no Ippo and Great Teacher Onizuka. If you're an American basketball-purist, you might have some issues with the show, but if you're just looking for a fun, classic shounen about some rough-and-tumble guys... you've found what you're looking for. read more
25 of 25 episodes seen
What it does have is great music. Ave Maria, which is one of my favorite pieces of all time, plays a pretty prominent role in the series. And there were some other pieces that I really enjoyed -- familiar and new to me. And it also has a great collection of really, really gorgeous bishies. ;) Like, when you think of traditional hot anime guys -- this is it. They're so pretty. So pretty. ^.^
Plot wise... story wise... character wise... it's okay. It has a nice overall theme/message/moral. If you go in with average expectations, a fan of reverse harems or bishies or music-themed animes would be pretty satisfied. More satisfied if you're looking for eye or ear candy.
The plot is pretty simple. The synopsis hits the nail on the head and there really isn't too much more to it. The characters are a little shallow, a little cliche... a little under-developed. The biggest problem for me was probably the conflict felt by the main character and how she reacted to it. I liked the beginning of the show; it was pretty entertaining. But in the middle, I got so frustrated and turned off by the angst and the whining that I actually dropped the show: I didn't care what happened next because I was too annoyed to watch. (The time between release of episodes probably made that worse -- I might have barreled through if I had the whole series at once.) Not everyone is going to feel that way about the main character or the show -- I just personally have low tolerance for that character type.
After several months, out of boredom, I decided to go back and see if I could just finish it off since I had gotten all the way to episode 20 while it was being initially fansubbed. It was the beginning of the end so a lot of the annoying behaviors that drove me away were gone and it went back to being a nice, if somewhat predictable, story with great music and pretty bishies.
To be honest, more than anything... it makes me want to watch Nodame Cantabile again. Maybe it isn't fair to compare the two, but I can't help it -- I compare everything to anything. ;) And, as a matter of personal taste, I think I prefer when things are a little bit more romance and a little less harem, so that probably skews my score too. I didn't think it was a masterpiece or a must-see, but it was cute and entertaining and watchable because I like all the genres it falls into. read more
24 of 24 episodes seen
Right now, I think my opinion is a little colored by how surprised I was by this anime. As I chain-watched episodes of this show, I kept on thinking things like: "Wow, I am actually really enjoying this"; "Why didn't I hear about this before?"; and "This is really good" in this surprised tone. I mean... I had never heard a peep about it before and I was just checking out a character picture to see decide if the guy was hot or not. But it ended up being really good. Funny, huh?
Story: I'd categorize it as a historical drama that uses action as backdrop, meaning that the plot and the characters are firmly in the forefront. There's definitely action (and it's exciting and occasionally graphic) but it isn't the central focus; it just helps fill in the finer details... it isn't action just for the sake of having action, you know what I mean?
When I first started watching and I saw Tetsu trying to join the Shinsengumi, I thought it was going to be like History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi -- a lot of training, a few fights, some comedy beats... and what I got instead was a compelling drama about identity and coping with your demons, along the lines of Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen (but younger, louder and generally more light-hearted). Set in the same time period as Rurouni, the era itself already is soaked in questions of identity and tradition vs. progress. It was surprisingly mature and well developed in both the depth of the characters and the breadth of the issues they tackled: the burdens of violence, the cost of peace, what shape do the scars of our pasts really take? And though I was personally rooting for one side, I don't think either side was actually labeled good or evil. I appreciated that the show seemed to be acknowledging that there isn't always a right or wrong -- sometimes there's just a conflict. There's also a nice serving of funny moments and conversations scattered throughout the storyline that are well used by the author. They either let you get to know the characters better or help make them more cute and loveable. Sometimes they break the tension so you can finally exhale. And most importantly, there was a weight to the story, which I attribute to good craftsmanship, that sucked me in. Things that mattered to them mattered to me too and I really wanted things to work out and go their way and... I just felt really invested in their story and I don't think that happens without really good storytelling.
The only nitpicky thing I could complain about, story-wise, might be the way that some of the storylines resolved. But I don't really want to go into detail because it might give things away... so, I'll leave it at that.
Character: A lot of the generic sort of stereotypes when it comes to a group of soldiers/police/etc. are represented here as well. Those familiar cliches rear their ugly heads again. I didn't mind, to be honest, because I did really like two pairs of characters particularly and those characters were executed well enough to keep me occupied. The first and most important is definitely the brothers, Tetsu and Tatsu. Their relationship was so interesting to me because it was different from anything I had seen before and yet so completely plausible for their circumstances. (I never know how much detail to go into or not go into and what constitutes a spoiler -- sorry!) Sure, it was exaggerated sometimes, for humor, for emphasis, whatever, but the heart of it rang true and when you realize what the root of the relationship actually is, it's, like, "Whoa. That really makes sense." ;) The second and much more ancillary relationship doesn't actually exist in the show, it's more of a similarity of character (that the show actually points out as well) between Hijikata and Yoshida as leaders of opposing factions in this turbulent and vicious time period. I thought it added something nice to the balance and the honesty of the story and the absense of "right."
Animation: Generally, I liked it. I wouldn't say it was outstanding. Or even above average. But it good. And it suited the story and the characters, I think. It's actually a pretty decent collection of good looking guys... too bad about the mullets. ...Did they actually wear mullets or was this just some very peculiar style choice by the mangaka? Some the action sequences were well done, I thought. No where near the caliber of the action in Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen, but as good as or better than the usual anime fare, I think.
Enjoyment: It's an odd thing because I feel like I was more interested and invested in the show than I can adequately explain. Maybe it's just me and my taste and this anime just happened to hit the right buttons. I don't know. But after I finished one episode, I immediately wanted to see what was going to happen next. And then I wanted to watch the one after that. And I didn't want to watch anything else. So even though I might not have done a great job explaining myself, I would probably suggest that you watch the first episode and see how it strikes you. If you like it, keep on watching -- I don't think it will disappoint you. If you hate it, well... at least you know, right? If you're ambivalent, watch another... and maybe another after that, until you make up your mind. ;)
P.S. The only thing about the voice acting I have to say is that it was fine minus two guys who were doing their impressions of Hisoka from Hunter x Hunter. I kept on checking to see if it was the same guy on MAL (it isn't) and it was driving me nuts just because they weren't as good at it as Hisoka's actor, Hiroki Takahashi. read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
Story: There's no real continuous plot. It really is slice of life in that Seinfeldian "show about nothing" sort of way. Despite the fact that there's no real story line, it manages to find such absurdity and humor in what should be the simplest, most mundane human interactions and relationships.
Art: Even the art is funny. The characters' expressions and body language just adds to the unexpected humor of every situation, whether it's their over-the-top enthusiastic poses or the random adult glares they give each other once in a while. The art is also consistent and despite the fact that the background characters all look similar, I find that they're all easy to distinguish from each other and that they are consistent through the series, which I like.
Sound: Okay, if you've ever seen any of my other reviews or anything -- I normally do not pay any attention to openings and endings, except to generically note that I don't like them. I *LOVE* this show's opening and ending for some reason. It's bouncy and bubbly and absolutely perfect for the show. The opening is one of those cheerful running openings (like Gokusen) and it just hits the nail right on the head in terms of attitude and atmosphere of the show.
And the actors who do the voices of the three sisters do such a great job, especially the two younger sisters -- Chiaki is so deadpan and dry and Kana is so mindlessly enthusiastic. Perfect. =)
Character: I don't know if I've ever seen just a compilation of silly, hilarious characters in one show before. And it's really amazing that the show manages to balance all these ridiculous personalities together to work at making such a funny show without going too far and tiring out the audience. Even the supporting characters you see for one or two episodes, like the various classmates of the girls, are charmingly wacky and endearing. And don't forget the main characters! These girls are each so individual and carefully created that you can almost guess how they'd react in conversations they've never had in the show. They do a great job of subtly filling out all the details of their unique personalities that you get a very strong feeling that they're real and you know them, from the serene and nurturing Haruka to Kana's crazy, pedal to the metal perspective on life and the fact that little Chiaki makes you wonder if a dry, jaded old man somehow got stuck in an elementary school girl's body.
Enjoyment: I love this show. I've already rewatched episodes and it still cracks me up on repeat viewings. And I think other people love this show too, but this is just my guess. ;) Go watch this show!! read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
Original? No. The best ever? No. Amusing? Sometimes. Entertaining? Enough.
Yankumi is trying to balance her goals to be a high school teacher and her life as the future head of a crime family. (In other words, the hoodlums and punks in her class aren't so tough compared to her.) Everyone's kind of someone you've seen before -- down to the annoying, screechy vice principal who's always trying to trip her up and the class ringleader whose middle school experiences taught him not to like teachers (sound familiar, GTO fans?).
The art and the sound wasn't anything to write home (or a review) about, but I have no major complaints either. (And as always, Kenichi Suzumura does a great job. ;) )
Despite the strong deja vu, I thought it was cute and entertaining over all. It's always kind of funny to see the soft, silly side to yakuza (like the way her henchmen fawn all over her or blow the smallest insult to her all out of proportion). And it's kind of funny to see Yankumi trip over things she shouldn't, like using gangster slang and/or metaphors when she shouldn't. It's no where near as good as GTO, but it's not awful. My feeling is that I'd probably have liked this show more if GTO didn't exist.
In other words, if you're trying to decide between watching this or GTO, go watch GTO. (Or even if you're not... watch GTO anyway. ;) ) Or if you've seen GTO and really like that genre and that storyline so much that you'd like to see it again, this is for you!
This might also be worthwhile for people who are a little too young for GTO. This is a cleaner, more superficial version, without the darker edges -- you're not going to find the levels of abuse, horniness and risk of death here that you do in GTO. If you're going to watch both anyway, I'd actually watch this one first and then GTO -- that way you'd be working your way up. =)
Enjoy! read more