Favorite PeopleNo people favorites added
13 of 13 episodes seen
The thing that makes a story truly great (or truly awful for that matter) is the cast that drives the story forward. A clear, strong plot where these characters interact is what creates tension, and usually, these two elements are intertwined in a way that drives the story forward as seamlessly as possible. However, Baccano! more or less tossed the "plot" aspect of that formula out the window and decided to do something completely different.
Baccano! was originally a light novel series by Ryohgo Narita with Katsumi Enami as the illustrator but was developed as an anime by Aniplex and Brain Base. The huge cast of this story makes telling it a rather daunting affair, so the creators were forced to try something different: that is, telling the story from multiple perspectives at once. In addition to changing point of view rather often, it also skips around from year to year, and doesn't tell the story in a linear fashion, as most shows do.
So, if it's told in such an unorthodox way, is it any better?
Story (6/10): Baccano manages to cram an awful lot of stuff into a thirteen episode span. From the hijacking of the "Flying Pussyfoot" to the Gangster wars in New York to the search from the elixir of immortality, there's quite honestly, a lot to wrap your mind around. However, the thing that makes it tough to absorb is how the story jumps around so much. Upon the final episode, it's easy to sit back and connect all of the events together, but in the middle of the show, you may be wondering what's actually happening.
The beginning of the show doesn't offer much explanation of what it's showing, and it will probably take you until nearly the end until you're able to connect all the dots. Unfortunately, the plot is pretty straightforward, so any further synopsis would just start to spoil things. This was what I felt was the weakest part of Bacano: the story.
While the story itself may not be all that strong, the unique way in which Baccano! is presented is what ultimately makes the viewing experience so engaging. The story may be fairly simple, but the piecemeal manner in which it is told made it difficult to understand at first. I suppose if it had been told in a linear fashion, it would have been a rather boring watch. This is an example of good storytelling making an otherwise average story quite engaging.
The other thing that made it difficult to understand was the HUGE cast in the show. There are dozens of names to remember, and keeping track of them all is no easy feat. Here I do have to applaud Baccano! for introducing the cast in the opening credits, and thus, making it easier to remember the many names and faces. The opening also offered a brief synopsis of previous episodes, which made it easier to keep track of what was going on.
In spite of all the twists the story takes to arrive at its ultimate conclusion, I wasn't especially impressed by the end. It was still a good story, but it seemed like the show had a lot of great ideas that could have been expounded upon quite a bit longer. Baccano! could have easily been 26 episodes without dragging. Furthermore, some of the plot's most important aspects, such as the elixir of life, don't really get any further explanation. The viewer is just left to assume that everything just sort of works itself out. Now, drawing out the ending too long would have made it lose a lot of its impact, however some further explanation on some of the plot's more intricate aspects likely would have helped.
There is plenty of catharsis at the end of the show, but most of it is due to the way characters ultimately overcome some of their personal demons. A bit strange, considering the show was largely plot-driven until the end. It’s not that the plot was bad, it was just very simple. Simple, yet told in an unorthodox way that made it a touch hard to follow.
Art (10/10)- Good animation can make a good show even better. Baccano! really has some stellar artwork, especially in the combat scenes that have a lot of rapid movement. It's amazing how well some of the blood and gore scenes were drawn, which normally, I wouldn't care about. However, violence can just be cheesy if it looks like "Kool-Aid" is splashing from wounds instead of blood. Overall, excellently done; probably the show's strongest point.
Sound (9/10)- The OP of this show was addicting, and reminded me of "Tank" from Cowboy Bebop. The score overall fit the era and themes of the show perfectly, and added some wonderful atmosphere. I especially loved the piano theme that often accompanied battle sequences, and the big band numbers for the gangster scenes.
The voice acting is also top-notch, even in the English dub. This show's English version is on par with some truly great ones, such as Cowboy Bebop and Fullmetal Alchemist. There were a lot of Boston, New York, and even French and British accents to do in this show that would have been lost with the Japanese voice actors. The lines just sounded a lot more authentic when they were spoken in their local accents. I would recommend watching this show in English, as the voice actors are truly superb, and you won't hear that from me very often.
Characters (8/10)- Although the OP of the show introduced most of the cast, it was still quite difficult to keep track of everyone, especially when some have names like "Jacuzzi Splot". In addition to those that are introduced, there are plenty of characters that pop up without an introduction, whose names are worth remembering. Keeping track of this group is even more difficult.
The one fault with this method of introduction is that the viewer will expect each of the characters to be important in some way. However, not all of them are. Some of the "title" characters have almost no influence on the story, and some that do, aren't shown in the opening. Furthermore, the connection that many of them share is loose at best.
Having said all that, the characters are actually done quite well. The ones who get significant screen time undergo quite a lot of development, and watching their character arcs come to a close is very satisfying. This is largely what provides catharsis at the end of the show, perhaps more so than the resolution of the plot itself. As I quoted at the beginning, characters have to be “real people” and not “caricatures” for the story to seem real to the viewer. There were a few members of the cast that easily could have fallen into the latter category, but were able to remain “real people”. This is where I was truly impressed by the show, as keeping each member as their own unique entity, rather than some sort of stock character, is quite a challenge for such a large and diverse cast.
All in all, the cast was a strength rather than a weakness, as the "main" characters are all very well-written characters. The problem is that you spend half of the show sorting through the list of names, trying to figure out which ones the "main" characters actually are. If the cast hadn't been so dauntingly large, it would have made things a great deal easier to understand. That, or perhaps the story should have been extended by a few episodes.
There are three OVA specials that expound a bit on some of the more important characters, and help to close off a few more loose ends, but the plot is ultimately resolved by the end of episode 13 of the original series. The OVA's are helpful, however, for a better understanding of a number of the characters, and I strongly recommend watching them after completing the series.
Despite my complaints about the size of the cast, don't be scared by the larger than usual numbers. The characters are great fun, particularly members such as Isaac and Miria, and you'll be quite glad you got to know them by the end.
Enjoyment (8/10)- For me, Baccano! felt like a series that was very good, but could have been OUTSTANDING with just a bit more work. Much more plot could have come out of the way they set everything up, and the huge cast could have eventually become a large asset rather than just a small one. Watching characters like Jacuzzi change and overcome their fears made the show very much worth watching, even if it takes awhile to realize who the story is truly centered around.
Overall (8/10)- It may seem that my criticisms were harsh, but ultimately, this show is still very good, and stands head and shoulders above most other titles out there. I have to congratulate the creators on doing something unique, even though the “unique” aspect just made a simple story seem deeper than it actually was.
I suppose I should answer the question I posed at the beginning. Is the show any better off because of the unique way it’s told? I would have to say, yes it is. The unique way the story is presented makes it far more engaging than it otherwise might have been. And at thirteen episodes, it’s not like you’ll have wasted a great deal of time watching this show if you dislike it.
Give it a shot; you won’t regret it in the end. read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
Story (4/10): I should begin by explaining that the story isn't the strong point of this show. The reason for this is how long it takes for the story to develop into anything with real plot substance.
The beginning of the show is done well enough. We see the main character, and are quickly charmed by her kindness and innocence, and see that she has become a soldier, and is headed to her first deployment. The problem is, we aren't given very much exposition to explain the world she lives in, why her country is at war, or what her family or her home are like.
As other characters are introduced, we begin to understand the dynamic that they share. As I learned more about the characters, I thought that perhaps this show would be more "character-driven" rather than "plot-driven". However, this wasn't really the case either, as the characters don't seem to go through much change early on. They simply have small "adventure" each episode, that doesn't require much prior knowledge of the show, and leaves the characters more or less the same as when the episode started.
Also, seeing as the main cast is composed of soldiers, I thought that they would do more...well, soldier things. All the soldiers where the protagonist ends up are women like her, but they don't really have a whole lot of militaristic duties. They rarely go on patrols or even fire their weapons, for that matter. Ultimately, not much is done with the soldier aspect until the very end, and the rest of the time, these women could be an ordinary group of people who just happen to live in the same outpost. This is why I had a problem with the episodic nature of the show, because it rarely felt like anything of consequence was happening, despite the fact that I was watching a group of soldiers.
I suppose there's nothing technically "wrong" with having an "episodic" feel to a show, where there isn't much overall plot to connect the episodes. However, it's certainly not what I prefer. I personally like to see a strong plot that connects the episodes together, or even having the way the characters interact with one another to create drama and tension. I just didn't feel either of these things with Sora no Woto, which is why I rated the plot so low.
Now, the show doesn't stay this way the entire time. Toward the end of the show, there is a very nice span of two or three episodes where some very big events occur, and I was genuinely excited by what happened. I only wish that more of the show had been so plot driven, and had shown the storytelling prowess that the final episodes did.
Art (9/10) - This show was really quite beautiful to watch. No details were skimmed over, even in the background details. Mile after mile of gorgeous countryside was carefully painted into each frame, making it worthwhile to watch the background nearly as much as the characters. There were some pieces that were animated by CGI, which I didn't find as pleasant as the hand-drawn details, but I suppose machines an be very hard to do by hand. This is probably the show's strongest point, which makes me sad in some ways, since art has noticeably less to do with what makes a show good than many of its other aspects.
Sound (9/10)- Music is a large part of what drives this show, as the tune from "Amazing Grace" often fills the sky. I really enjoyed hearing this piece as it was played on the trumpet, and even in a full orchestration later on. The soundtrack overall was quite good, and I found it interesting that Amazing Grace was so integral to the story. Sora no Woto does mean "Sound of the Sky", which very well may refer to that familiar tune that so many people love.
Character (5/10)- As I mentioned before, there isn't much background given of the protagonist early on. And frankly, we never really learn much about her at all. The main problem I had with the characters was that we learn more about a "supporting" character than the main character. All we know about the protagonist is that she wants to learn to play the trumpet, and that's why she joined the army. We learn more about the background of basically every character than the protagonist, who remains a charming and very lovable, but ultimately very shallow character.
Perhaps what really made her seem shallow was her apparent lack of any sort of character flaw. She is completely selfless, thinking of others before herself, works hard, is completely loyal to her fellow soldiers, and never says anything unkind to anyone. This is all wonderful, but we never see what lies inside her heart. Is she only nice to cover up something tragic that happened to her? Is her loyalty due to the fact that she felt she betrayed someone in the past? The show never really attempts to answer these questions.
The show gives plenty of development to a supporting character that I mentioned previously, which makes it seems as though she should have been the protagonist instead. The cast is ultimately very likable, but their development is rather unbalanced, and we will ultimately learn things about them at the last second so that we can understand something. The creators caught themselves a few times, and had to have a character suddenly say "Oh, by the way, there's this really important thing about this other character's past that we forgot to mention until now, so here it is."
Not a bad cast, just one that was mishandled.
Enjoyment (6/10)- I had to force my way through one or two episodes where nothing really happened in the overall plot. Charming and fun only works for so long before someone like me will get curious about the plot, and this show seemed to forget about the plot until nearly the end. If it weren't for the mismanaged characters and lack of plot, this show could have been a lot better.
Remember how I said that it shows some truly beautiful colors at the end? Well, it does, but not until I had to sit through ten episodes of basically nothing. The end of the show was wonderful, emotionally moving, and brought a very satisfying conclusion to everything. It just wasn't enough to make up for early problems that hurt the overall enjoyment value.
Overall (6/10)- Ultimately, this show is worth watching, but only with realistic expectations. It's a lot of fun to watch at first, gets boring in the middle, but does end on a high note. Just don't go into this one expecting anything mind-blowing. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
OVA epilogues are often rather difficult to produce, because an epilogue is often just a few minutes at the end of a show, where all the loose ends are tied up. However, sometimes you'll get an entire episodes, or even a series of episodes to tie everything up. More often than not, these are simply rehashes of the old plot, and bring little, if anything new to the table. So, going into this OVA, I was excited, but cautiously so, fearing I'd get another trite, touchy-feely epilogue.
But Steins;Gate proved me wrong yet again.
This OVA was well-worth the time I spent watching it, because it actually manages to tie up a few loose ends that were a bit unclear as of the end of the final episode. For instance, this episode explains what happens to Okabe and Kurisu after the main plot is over, and the world line has changed. We knew previous episodes that Daru was Suzuha's father, but we never learned any further details, such as who her mother was. This episode helped to clear up a few of those things.
All of your favorite characters are still here, and are up to their usual antics. Daru is still a perv, Mayuri is still adorable (though, regrettably, she never says "Tuturu!"), and Okabe is still a complete wacko. The creators actually managed to neatly fit the entire cast of the show into the episode, with enough lines and importance so it doesn't feel like they were pointlessly shoehorned into the episode. I was especially pleased to everything explained between Okabe and Kurisu, because although we saw them talking at the end of the show, their relationship after that remained unclear.
The characters all look just as you remember them too, with the exception of a few minor costume changes (and Ruka looking as androgynous as ever). Daru wears a new costume that is apparently more suitable for America and we even get to see Kurisu in a cat/waitress outfit, which is just as hilarious as you might imagine. The color palette isn't quite as white and washed out as I remember from the earliest episodes of the show, which was probably for the better, helping to convey the slightly more emotional themes this OVA contained.
The other parts of this OVA are basically how you'll remember them from the show. Much of the plot takes place in America, so you won't hear that signature sound of screeching cicadas in the background. The music is basically the same as the show, with the OP being moved to the end. Frankly, I enjoyed the OP much more than the ED anyway. Otherwise, the score wasn't really changed at all, which I didn't feel was necessary for a single episode anyway.
I definitely recommend this, but only to those who enjoyed Steins;Gate and want more. This episode has more or less the same feel as the original show did, so if you didn't like the original Steins;Gate, you likely won't care for this either. This OVA was by no means any sort of masterpiece, but I think it worked very well to achieve what it was going for. It wanted to give the fans more story to tie everything neatly together, and it certainly succeeded on that count. The only real negative I have to give this one is the somewhat shallow and simple plot, but hey, it's an epilogue, so what can you expect?
Definitely watch this if you enjoyed Steins;Gate, otherwise, it's probably not your sort of thing. It did a good job of keeping me engaged, right from the beginning where Okabe says his famous line.
El. Psy. Congroo.
24 of 24 episodes seen
Gosick manages to avoid the latter extreme, but never quite reaches the former either. Mysteries can be boring if they aren't enough to draw the viewer in and make them try to guess what will happen next. This can be a real challenge, because a single mystery that spans an entire 24 episode show could prove to be a real drag. Gosick attempts to circumvent this by telling several smaller stories in three or four episode "mini-arcs". These mini-arcs usually contribute to the overall story in some way, but this isn't immediately obvious until the latter parts of the show in many cases.
The show is set in the imaginary country of "Sabure", taking place between the World Wars, at an academy where students from all over the world come to learn. The academy has a very rich history, including lots of folklore that influences the culture. Many of these tales are entwined in the mysteries that the characters attempt to solve, providing some back story, and also a great deal of plausibility to the mysteries that occur.
The characters themselves are even affected by this folklore, as Kujo and Victorique (the protagonists) are respectively called "The Spring Reaper" and "The Golden Fairy". These two make an interesting pair, with Kujo, the kindhearted Japanese exchange student, and Victorique, the clever, introverted, yet demanding girl who spends much of her time in one of the world's largest libraries, as the ones who attempt to solve the mysteries.
Victorique isn't always the most likable character, as she rarely praises Kujo for anything he does, and even scolds him for being late when he brings her sweets. Ultimately, this is due to her harsh upbringing, but can still cause one to wonder why Kujo chooses to be friends with her. Sometimes, I wasn't certain whether these two were friends, or if something romantic was happening between them. I won't spoil the ending for you, but it did little to clear up my confusion.
The animation is certainly passable, but not amazing. Much of the art has that a sort of Gothic feel and theme to it, evoked by the stone buildings, and spires at the top of towers. The character designs are pretty interesting, especially characters like Grevil, whose hairstyle shall likely never be duplicated by even the most tenacious cosplayer. The backgrounds and animations are all good, but nothing eye-popping.
As or the music, the opening and ending themes were all excellent, and I rarely skipped them. The score itself wasn't anything especially outstanding. It fit the setting of the show, but wasn't ever enough to make me sit back and think about the quality, whether good or bad. The voice acting was quite good, probably a notch above the music. I especially noticed it with Victorique, whose feisty personality could easily have been ruined by the wrong voice actor.
Overall, I felt that Gosick was a very well-designed story, with a small cast of lovable characters, but not quite enough story for the entire twenty-four episodes of the show. When there is a less-involved plot, one typically expects the story to be character-driven, but Gosick was much more plot-driven, which left it feeling somewhat empty in a few places.
Now don't get the impression that I didn't like Gosick. I quite enjoyed this show, enough so that I finished it relatively quickly (by my standards, at least). I still recommend it to anyone; I simply feel that there are a few shortcomings that prevent this show from becoming truly "excellent". This show is great fun, just no masterpiece.
(To both "Helpful" and "Not Helpful" voters: Feedback is greatly appreciated.)
13 of 13 episodes seen
“Wow,” I thought as I saw these words in the opening, “what sort of deep, philosophical questions is this show going to tackle?”
I was shocked to learn that the list included children being forced to fight, rape, kidnapping, starvation, and an insane dictator who wanted nothing more than war. After reading a few reviews, I was optimistic that I was really going to enjoy the show, especially since it covered such dark themes. Being “dark” isn’t always the easiest thing to pull off, and this show may be a poster child of that very problem.
The show gives a small look into the life of Shu, the protagonist, from the very beginning, demonstrating what an optimistic, naïve young man he really is. When Shu finds himself swept into a world completely unlike his own, his optimism is viewed with scorn. Basically, the other characters tell him that the world is a giant pile of crap, so he may as well get used to it. Shu doesn’t waver, however, and remains a firm believer that things will ultimately work out for the better.
The show gets plenty of things right with this contrast, in which a central character resists the negativity that he is surrounded with, but it stumbles in other areas. Some of the characters, including the protagonist, are so stereotypical that it’s almost painful at times. Despite Shu’s resilience being an overarching theme, he is so immune to the effects of the depressing world he’s in that it really isn’t believable at times.
Other characters don’t fare much better, falling into a number of stereotypes that somewhat weaken the overall impact of the show. A surprisingly large chunk of the cast is killed off at the end, but I personally didn’t feel very emotionally attached to most of them. The deaths certainly helped to bring a sense of what the cost of war can be, but I felt that this issue was just evidence of an overarching problem that the entire show had.
The show tries to be something it isn’t. It tries to be “dark” and depressing, but it really isn’t. If the show wanted to shock us and really make us feel something, it should have been much more in the viewer’s face with all of the horrors that are committed. Now, I’m not advocating that things like rape be shown in detail on screen, but I felt like death and despair could have been shown on a much closer level.
Frankly, not all of this is the fault of the creators, but simply a lack of funding. This show had a very low budget, and it shows up in the animation, glaringly at times. The animation is, frankly, quite poor. The character designs are unimaginative, and aren’t drawn all that well either. Lots of shortcuts are used to make up for the low budget, and it does show from time to time. The most glaring example is during the pillaging of a village, where many are killed and most taken captive, was shown in a series of black and white stills, which I suppose was intended to be dramatic, but in my opinion, fell flat.
The voice acting wasn’t stellar either, and this was compounded by the fact that I was forced to watch much of the show in the English dub *shudder*. The English voice acting was really quite poor, though the Japanese was at least acceptable. The music was nothing to brag about either, and some of it sounds like it was composed in the 1980’s. The Opening was the most glaring offender of this. It was basically just background music and some credits. The ending theme was better, but not a whole lot.
However, despite the numerous flaws I just listed, this show somehow managed to get me emotionally involved by the end. The ending makes up for at least some of the shortcomings of the rest of the show, and nicely wraps up the overall message that the creators were going for. Has the world gone to crap? Yeah, maybe, but there’s always a sliver of hope that it can get better if there are still people willing to give it a shot.
This anime is certainly no masterpiece, and I almost quit watching it once or twice. I typically don’t finish anything I rate below a six, and this one hovered around that rating for most of the time. Ultimately, I came to realize that this isn’t the sort of show that one watches purely to be entertained. It comes with a deeper message, a message which doesn’t require a ton of digging to find.
I actually watched the whole thing in a day, so perhaps you could think of it as a really long movie instead of a short TV show. Just don’t go into this one expecting something outstanding. Expect to learn something about humanity, and perhaps yourself, and you’ll enjoy the time you spent watching this.
24 of 24 episodes seen
Steins;Gate seems to be that dark horse that no one expected to do well, yet finds itself ranked among the top shows on MAL. So is it really worth your time?
Story (10/10)- Steins;Gate is largely about the concept of time travel, yet much of the plot occurs without the presence of an actual time machine. So what does that leave us with? Well, the thing that attracted me to this show early on was how simple and charming it was. I could tell by the dramatic way this show opened that I wasn’t watching a comedy, yet I kept finding myself laughing at the way the characters interacted with one another.
The caste consists largely of the members of the “Future Gadget Lab”, a group of nerdy, aspiring scientists (and a few others) who work in a small apartment. Their leader, a self proclaimed “mad scientist” has a vision for making all sorts of strange gadgets, but since his work is largely useless, they lack the funding to do anything substantial. By pure luck, they create a gadget that sends a text message into the past, and their small lab is never the same afterward.
Steins;Gate remains unique because the creators of the show didn’t abuse the concept of time travel. Frankly, they don’t even bother to throw a bunch of techno-babble at you. They simply show that the characters have created a device that sends text messages to the past, and allow the viewer’s imagination to fill in the gaps. This is much better than trying to come up with some ultimately made-up solution that doesn’t even make real sense.
Frankly, there’s no way to explain the plot of the show without giving everything away. However, as many shows with this theme do, Steins;Gate goes through quite a series of twists that you more than likely won’t see coming. Every time I thought I had this show figured out, it would surprise me again. No details are forgotten, and seemingly inconsequential things will frequently come back to become major obstacles for the characters to overcome. By about halfway through the show, you’ll begin to understand how truly intense the plot becomes.
The best thing about the story was that it kept me hooked, which is frankly the best, albeit subjective, measure of how well a story is designed.
Art (8/10) - A lot of this show seems to have a white, washed-out sort of look to it. It certainly helps to give the show the mood it’s going for, but does get a bit monotonous at times. The characters’ movements and costume designs are believable and satisfactory, but not outstanding. Frankly, there isn’t much more to say about this show’s art. There were barely any action scenes or explosions and no weird creatures to draw, so I suppose the creators left it simple. Well done.
Sound (9/10)- I noticed early on that there wasn’t much music in the show, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but Steins;Gate pushed the envelope in this area a bit. In lieu of music, there are often cicadas screeching in the background. This remains a theme throughout the show, and occasionally grew tedious to listen to. But during the shows more dramatic parts, music fades in on a much more regular basis, helping to add mood, but not much else. The only real musical bright spots were the opening and closing themes of the show, which I enjoyed tremendously.
However, it wasn’t the music that caused me to score it a 9/10, it was the voice acting. The voice actor for the protagonist was outstanding, and the rest of the cast filled in their roles admirably. The dialogue in this show easily could have come off as cheesy or overdone, but the skill of the actors involved really helped to keep everything believable. I especially enjoyed listening to that mad scientist cackle, which might have sounded ridiculous from another actor.
Characters (10/10)- Very few shows have made me laugh as hard as this one has, mostly due to the shenanigans of the protagonist, Okabe Rintarou. He calls himself “Hououin Kyouma”, the mad scientist, but his friends all call him “Okarin” (presumably short for his full name). Okabe frequently pulls out his cell phone to talk to no one in particular, explaining how he’s being tailed by “organization” agents. His friends frequently point out that he isn’t talking to anyone, but this doesn’t seem to deter his paranoiac tenancies. He also gives ridiculous nicknames to many people he knows, such as “Christina” for Kurisu and “Mr. Bruan” for his landlord.
Okabe makes for a surprisingly believable “mad-scientist” and his antics will certainly keep you entertained while the plot gets going. His friends Myauri (Tutulu!), Itaru and Kurisu make for a very interesting grouping. Mayuri is just downright adorable, Itaru a perverse computer hacker, and Kurisu a brilliant college student who won’t admit that she actually likes Okabe. Kurisu and Okabe see a lot of development as the show goes on, and they form a very believable friendship, where it seems as though neither of them truly understand how they feel about each other until late in the show. Okabe really just annoys her at first, but she later warms up to him as they continue to experiment on their gadgets.
The character that receives the most development is Okabe, who is forced to witness true horrors over and over again as he tries to use time travel to sort things out. Watching him go from a quirky, paranoid goofball into a determined, yet depressed man is fascinating, if not sad to watch. Watching his character slowly change as he works to overcome the mess that he helped create is a very satisfying experience, and you’ll find yourself loving him as he seems to mature in front of you.
The thing that impressed me most was how the show avoided “stock” characters. There wasn’t one specific “comic relief guy” or the “aloof, secretive, detective guy” or even the “hot, fanservice chick”. Instead, you had all of the characters working together to drive the plot, mood, and emotional impact of the show toward its conclusion. The charming cast is really what makes this show into the exceptional work that it is, even weird characters like Feyris, who feels the need to insert “nyah”( the Japanese version of “meow”) in nearly every sentence she utters.
The show did a remarkable job of making me actually care about nearly every character it introduced, which is certainly no easy feat.
Enjoyment (10/10)- Normally when I enjoy a show, I’ll limit myself to one or two episodes a day, so that I can watch it for longer. I couldn’t help myself with Steins;Gate, and watched the final six episodes in one day, not to mention watching multiple episodes on several other occasions. The best way to explain it is that this show hooked me from early on and never let go, winding up on the list of my all-time favorites. Perhaps it’s because I went into it not knowing what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised. This is one of only six shows I have ever given a 10/10, so you could say it impressed me quite a lot.
Give this one a shot. You won’t regret it.
Overall (10/10)- My overall scores don’t actually add up to ten, but there’s something about this show that I simply love. Somehow, this show was able to overcome its flaws in ways that made something truly exceptional. There were plenty of flaws in this show, and a number of ideas remained unexplored, but further explanation would have just bogged down the pace of the show, and would have ruined what I felt was a very satisfying conclusion.
Maybe some people don’t like happy endings, but I feel like some script writers try so hard to avoid a cliché ending, that they ultimately make the show worse. I think Steins;Gate managed to avoid that trap in a way that didn’t make the ending feel cheap or artificial. I think a lot of shows could take a leaf out of the book of Steins;Gate, and who knows, maybe some will.
Here’s to hoping.
El. Psy. Congroo.
27 of 27 episodes seen
In all seriousness, when you watch enough anime, you’ll eventually begin to hear a lot of hype about certain titles, whether in the form of new internet memes, demotivational posters or even just word of mouth. I’ve come across a number of such titles, and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann falls into that category. The problem with heavily hyped shows us that you never know if it’s going to live up to all the bragging you’ve heard about it. And I heard a LOT of bragging about this show before I watched it. If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you’ll know that I don’t always enjoy the heavily hyped shows. However, this one deserves the hype it gets…well, mostly.
Story (7/10)- Tengen Toppa Gurren Laggan (hereafter referred to as TTGL) starts off with humble beginnings, following the story of Shimon, a kindhearted boy who drills for his underground village, and Kamina, as hot-blooded, aspiring young man, who dreams of leaving their underground village to see the world above. The village leader tells them that there is nothing above the surface, and they’d be better served to simply dig their holes in the ground. But one day, an enormous machine crashes through the ceiling of their underground home, and proves that Kamina had been right about the existence of a surface world. The plot moves pretty quickly afterward, and soon had Shimon and Kamina are fighting for their very freedom against forces much larger than themselves.
Sound a little cliché? Well, I can assure you that it’s not. While the theme of fighting for freedom has been used a lot, TTGL puts a spin on the idea that I had never seen before. You’ll hear the phrases “fighting spirit” and “spiral power” popping up a lot in this show, which are basically references to the human will, and how it always struggles to survive against all odds. It’s very well done, and had me more or less hooked from the first episode.
Now, you’ll notice that I only rated the plot a 7 out of 10. What I found with TTGL was that the first half was excellently, and I do mean brilliantly done! The show had me invested in the characters from an early moment, I loved the action, and the theme of “fighting spirit” had me feeling very inspired. After the first half of the show, I found myself thinking “wow, how can this possibly get better”? At this point, I had rated the show at a 9 out of 10, but decided to reserve my final judgments for later.
When the second half of the show opened, something felt…different. It was hard to place my finger on it, but let’s just say that TTGL didn’t pull of a time skip as well as I’ve seen many shows do. It’s hard for me to expound upon why the second half of the show felt so different without spoiling anything, so I’ll have to be vague. Essentially, you’re still seeing all of the same characters, and watching the same show, but everything else seems to have changed. The entire world has become a different place, and it is very different from the TTGL that I grew to love. However, I kept an open mind, and kept watching, figuring that it would eventually be just as good as the first half.
But as the show went on, I never felt that same spark of “magic” that made me love it. It certainly wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t as good as the first half. The second half of the show often repeats the phrase “absolute despair” and becomes rather dark at times. This just didn’t quite sit with me, as the first half of the show was optimistic and over the top, where the second half was depressing and over the top. Eventually, the show became so “over the top” and happened on such a large scale that my brain could barely wrap itself around what was happening at the end. I’m sorry I can’t be any more specific, but it would spoil basically everything if I was.
I just felt like the show got worse, rather than better in the last few episodes, and ultimately I very much disliked the ending. To me, the ending basically contradicted the entire theme of the show. I felt like the entire show was screaming “You can do anything if you refuse to give up!” But then the ending said “except for this one thing that you can’t do…”. I know that a lot of avid fans will disagree with me, but I really didn’t feel like the ending honored the overall feel and theme of the show.
The plot was still very good, especially early on, but it just seemed to decline toward the end…particularly the very end.
Art (9/10)- I don’t really have a whole lot to say here, other than the art was very good. It was smooth, and drawn in a way that was evocative of the crazy, over the top themes that the show carried. Excellent job, overall.
Sound (9/10)- Very good voice acting, and excellent opening and closing themes. The music toward the end of the show did a good job of conveying the emotions that the characters were feeling, and set a perfect mood. Great sound overall, just not quit deserving of a 10.
Characters (10/10)- Who can resist the over the top, never-say-never, “I can do anything” attitude of a character like Kamina? Kamina did so much to influence TTGL in so many ways, that his importance cannot be overstated. In fact, Kamina’s role in TTGL may influence anime characters of the future—he’s THAT big of a character. Really, any shortcomings that the rest of the cast had are almost eclipsed by how brilliant Kamina was in this show.
Shimon, the protagonist, is a bit passive at first, but is later forced into positions of leadership as the show goes on. He eventually takes up Kamina’s mantle, and does a marvelous job of it. These two really make quite a good combination, and make up the heart and soul of everything that TTGL is about.
Now that’s not to say that every character is as important and moving as Shimon and Kamina (I’m pointing my finger at you, Yoko). Some characters are really just there to fit their specific stereotypes, and others are purely there for fanservice (*cough* Yoko *cough*). And now that I’ve probably enraged every fanboy who reads this, I should make my point. My point is that most of the cast is well done, and has enough personality to fit with characters as big and overpowering as Kamina, however, there are a few exceptions.
I’d say Yoko is one of these exceptions, not because she’s an annoying or unlikeable character, but she’s portrayed as a main character, and she doesn’t really do much to advance the plot at all. She’s certainly not as useless as, say, Sakura from Naruto, but they easily could have replaced her with a character showing less cleavage, and still told the story perfectly fine. In fact, the character could have been male, and not much would have changed. Yeah, she slings a big gun around, and helps Shimon and Kamina out, but aside from that, she was wasn’t all that remarkable of a character. I suppose nobody is above fanservice anymore, but regardless, I’ve made my point.
Enjoyment (7/10)- I absolutely loved the first half of this show, but I just felt a steady decline as the second half progressed. Once again, this is only my opinion. Plenty of people enjoyed the second half, and some even like the ending that I thoroughly despised. Once again, I feel like the hype I heard about this show may have actually detracted from my enjoyment of it. My expectations were so incredibly high, that they would have been very hard to meet. This show did meet them for awhile, but fell rather short by the end.
Overall (8/10)- So is TTGL worth your time? Absolutely! Despite the problems I pointed out, I still very much enjoyed the show. I would only warn you to set your expectations at manageable level, otherwise, you may end up disappointed, as I was. This show does have a lot of redeeming qualities, and I can objectively say that it is very well made, despite my opinions about the plot and ending.
In short: definitely above average, but not the anime god that it’s made out to be.
26 of 26 episodes seen
Being one of the more popular anime titles out there, does it really live up to all the hype? Hopefully, this review will answer some of those questions for you. Diehard fans of the series may not like some of the things that I’m about to say, just to give you fair warning.
Story (4/10)—Whoa, hold on a second! Didn’t you just spend the first paragraph of this review praising the anime? Yes, people who inevitably will question me, I did. However, this particular chunk of the review won’t be so lavish with praise.
Allow me to explain myself. The 4/10 makes it look like I hated this show. Let me assure you that I did not hate it.
The story of Cowboy Bebop takes place, you guessed it, sometime in the future in outer space. It follows the adventures of a bounty hunter named Spike and his buddy, Jet, a fellow bounty hunter. While this sounds like a stereotypical journey through space boredom, it’s actually quite refreshing. Spike and Jet live in a space world that somehow reminds you of the old west. The entire start of the story just feels organic. You get a good sense of who the two characters are, and what they’re doing.
So, why have I given the story such a low score? Well, quite simply, it was the startling lack of depth to the story that killed it for me. For the first several episodes, the show feels, well…episodic. There isn’t really a whole lot of story to connect the events of the first several episodes together. The only real common thread is Spike and Jet collecting bounty after bounty. Now, much to my surprise, this actually wasn’t a bad thing at first. I can deal with a few episodes where the plot isn’t apparent yet, if done well. And these episodes were! There were very good, and quite fun to watch! The atmosphere drew me in, the characters were intriguing, and the action was well-executed.
However, as any viewer will, I eventually began to get curious about the past of the characters, and how they’ve come to be where they are now. After a few episodes, you finally start to get a few painfully brief glimpses into Spike’s past as he comes face to face with an old enemy. However, this tension is quickly dropped in favor of some more episodic adventures.
Fast forward another several episodes, and you get some more overarching plot involving this aforementioned villain. This particular adventure is split into two episodes, which got me very interested. However, the story drops the overall plot AGAIN and doesn’t pick it back up until the final two episodes. I really am not exaggerating, folks; aside from an occasional, brief flashback, the entire plot takes place in the space of about five episodes.
So what are the other twenty-one episodes? Well, most of the other episodes are fun little adventures that involve some new villain every time, and put the characters in some sort of funny/amusing situation. Enough for some people, perhaps, but not for me. What really hooks me into a show is good, solid, well-planned plot. And Cowboy Bebop plain and simply failed to deliver. And on top of all that, the ending is…well, to avoid spoilers, let’s just say I didn’t care for it.
Basically, I was sitting there frothing at the mouth, episode after episode, saying “Where’s the plot? When does the plot start to form?”. And then I was left with precious little plot at all, only to be disappointed by the ending. It’s like if you’re at a restaurant and they give you a salad, and I mean a really, REALLY delicious salad as an appetizer, but when you finish your salad and keep asking for the main course, they just give you more salad instead. Then, once you’re starting to get sick of salad, they hand you a stale pop-tart as dessert and send you on your way. What? Where’s all the good stuff that I came here for?
That’s exactly how I felt at the end of Cowboy Bebop. I felt dissatisfied, and I felt like a great group of characters with good back stories, a very good atmosphere, an interesting villain, and some really solid action scenes had all simply gone to waste. I think that’s why I dislike the story so much. It got my expectations so high because the first few episodes were so good, only to disappoint me in the end.
Art (10/10)—See? There WERE things I liked about this show!
Cowboy Bebop really is a gem among animation. Mind you, this anime was released in 1999, and the animation is STILL better than half of the stuff that’s released today. Every motion is fluid and smooth, and I never noticed any instances where the animation was lazy, or where the creators cut corners to save time or money. What really gets me is how some objects, like spaceships, were drawn without computer animation. Most animators will use computers to animate something with many moving parts, but not Cowboy Bebop. And in the instances where computer animation is used, it often took me several times to actually notice it.
Everything about the animation in this show is superb, from the characters, to the background, to the dark color palette that makes up the show. There were times when I wanted to pause the video just so I could stop and look at all of the beautiful details in the background. All in all, the art creates a very convincing atmosphere that makes you feel like you really ARE in space with the characters.
Sound (10/10) — I really don’t think you can find an anime with a better score than this one. I’m completely serious. I know that it’s a bold claim to make, but the music is absolutely sensational! Remember how I keep blabbing on about what great atmosphere this show has? Well, the music is largely a part of it. “Tank”, the opening theme, is one of the most popular opening titles in the history of anime, and nearly every other bit of music is as fun and addicting to listen to as the title. This is easily the strongest point of the show, and was a large part of what I enjoyed while watching it.
For the first time, well…ever, I watched this series entirely in English. I was shocked to discover that the English dub of this show is VERY good. I’ve heard rumors that the creator of the show likes the English voices better than the Japanese, but I’m not certain of whether it’s true or not. In any case, you won’t be disappointed if you watch this show in English. I’ve never heard such a skilled cast of voice actors put together for any English dub, and never even once stopped and thought about the voice acting being poor. I can’t speak for the Japanese voices, but I’ve heard that those are quite good as well. No matter how you watch it, you’re not likely to be disappointed by the voice actors.
Characters (6/10)—The first rule of creating any workable story is that the characters must be believable. And, largely, the characters of this show fit that mold. In addition to Spike and Jet, there are two other members that make it onboard to become part of the crew, and although these characters spend the majority of the time being annoyed with one another, you’ll still find yourself liking them and laughing at their dynamic they share. Each character gets at least one episode devoted to exploring their back story, which is a significant chunk of time, considering the short length of the show.
Thus, each character was fleshed out very well by the end of the series, and I found myself caring about each of them, even the ones who had annoyed me at first. However, by the time the plot starts to wrap up in the last two episodes, I came to realize that the relationships between the characters weren’t really going anywhere. One character whom didn’t give a rip about Spike at the beginning, actually started to care whether he existed or not by the end. Spike doesn’t seem to care at all, and what could have made for a very interesting moment between two characters was thrown out the window when Spike walked away.
I think my biggest reason for the low score was at the end, how so little emotional catharsis was achieved. Spike spends most of the series remembering a woman he loved, but the ending doesn’t really do much to take care of all that pent-up emotion. Even when Spike has that inevitable facedown with the villain at the end, I still didn’t feel like anything had really been achieved. Yes, I suppose the plot had technically been resolved, but what about my beloved characters? How do they react to all of this? Well, I hope you didn’t care about them, because the show never tells you.
It’s that stale pop-tart showing up again. Not only do you get an unsatisfactory ending plot-wise, but the show NEVER tells you what happens to the other characters! Even if they had all died, I still would at least have known what happened to them. However, the ending focuses solely on Spike, and even what happens to him leaves a little room for interpretation and guesswork. I suppose that’s why I disliked the plot so much. I felt like the characters that I knew and loved weren’t done justice by the ending.
Enjoyment (7/10)—This anime left me torn. I loved the music. I loved the art. I loved the characters. I even loved the first few episodes of the show, but I just felt like the ending let me down. Ultimately, I did enjoy the show, despite the many flaws I pointed out.
Overall (7/10)—So now it’s time to answer the question I posed at the beginning: is this show overrated? My answer would be a tentative “yes”. While there are aspects of the show that I didn’t care for, namely the plot, I still really enjoyed it, and the music definitely lived up to the hype.
Ultimately, I’d say this show is definitely worth watching. I just feel like whenever a show gets as much hype as this one does, people are bound to be disappointed once in awhile.
64 of 64 episodes seen
Whether you enjoyed the original, or hated it, this reincarnation of Fullmetal Alchemist has completely changed my opinion of the series as a whole!
Story (10/10) – I cannot stress enough how much better the story of “Brotherhood” is than the original. If you’re reading this review, you likely know that the original show deviated from the manga after a short while, and continued in a rather different direction. As manga tends so often to be, the story of the manga ends up being much stronger than what the creators of the original anime were able to come up with. “Brotherhood” follows the story of the manga quite closely, thus the anime never feels like filler, or just boring junk.
The first fifteen episodes or so are very similar to about the first half of the original “Fullmetal Alchemist”. “Brotherhood” covers more story in less time, and doesn’t drag nearly like the original did. This is especially apparent in the beginning, where some parts that were already told in the original series were more or less skipped over to save time. Purists might squawk about this, but it was probably a wise idea, in light of time constraints.
If you’ve seen the original Fullmetal Alchemist, then you’ll be familiar with the first major portions of the show. It may feel like a rehash for the first several episodes, but you’ll fairly quickly realize that the scale of what will eventually take place is much greater, and much more sinister than what the original Fullmetal Alchemist conveyed. The twists that Ed and Al are taken through are enough to leave you wanting more after each episode.
But enough rambling. If you’d like a synopsis, just look one up.
(Art 10/10) – The art in this show is simply superb! Characters and scenery are drawn with careful detail, and they also achieve a sense of realism, which is somewhat necessary in a “Steam-Punk” world that could almost be America a century ago. The mix of realism, combined with the fantasy of Alchemy, creates for an interesting balance that not many animes can achieve. Additionally, the art is very smooth, with each movement flowing into the next seamlessly. There were a few instances where larger or more intricate drawings were done with computer animation. These scenes are slightly choppier than the rest of the anime, but you likely won’t notice unless you’re looking for it.
The only gripe I had with the animation was early on in the show, where characters would burst into silly caricatures when they were especially emotional about something. Most notably is Ed transforming to look like a praying mantis when someone calls him short. This made it seem like the show didn’t take itself very seriously at first, but such incidents gradually declined as the show progressed, and became rather scarce during the more serious parts of the show. I simply think the show would have benefitted from less outbursts of this nature early on.
(Sound 9/10) – The voice acting in this show is some of the best you’ll hear. I was pleasantly relieved to hear that there were no annoying, shrill voices that anime can be guilty of at times. There weren’t any standout performances that I can think of, but each actor voiced their role marvelously.
The only reason for a 9 instead of a 10 was that it sounded to me like some of the music had been recycled from the original Fullmetal Alchemist. The music fit the scenes very well, but I thought an update might have been helpful. Also, the music never really stuck out to me as being particularly awesome. It was good, but not quite deserving of a 10.
(Characters 10/10) – It will be quite a struggle to keep my comments succinct on this topic! “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” shines brilliantly in this area! Never before have I grown so attached to such a diverse cast of characters. There were a number of characters that I wasn’t particularly attached to in the original series that I grew to love in “Brotherhood”. The show does a brilliant job of making each character’s motivations easy to understand, yet complex enough that they aren’t totally flat. It also has a way of forcing characters who were once enemies to work together when faced with a common enemy.
I was especially impressed by how Ed and Al were so much easier to relate to in “Brotherhood”. I found myself much more emotionally attached to them, and had a much stronger desire to see them succeed. Al is much stronger and helps Ed fight much more often, which I also found to be a pleasant change of pace. I could name probably ten other characters who I grew attached to, yet wasn’t terribly fond of in the original series. “Brotherhood” also introduces a set of new characters that blend in perfectly with that cast that I was already familiar with.
The long and short of it is this: the cast of “Brotherhood” will draw you in and leave you eagerly watching their every move until the conclusion of the series.
(Enjoyment 10/10) – I really don’t have much to say on this topic, except I loved it! I never had to force myself to keep going, and I enjoyed every bit of the show!
(Overall 10/10) – Definitely give this one a shot! It’s well worth your time. And in my opinion, it’s far superior to its predecessor.
13 of 13 episodes seen
Canaan is essentially the story of a photographer named Maria, and her friendship with the mysterious girl named “Canaan”. Maria heads to China to do some investigative work, but quickly finds herself in need of protection from her friend as she winds up getting in way over her head. This anime is an excellent mixture of action, character development, and heartwarming moments. I’ve rarely seen a story told so well in so few episodes.
Here's the breakdown:
Story (7/10): You never know what you're going to get with short animes like Canaan. Much to my glee, this show is a gem among short animes. With a grand total of only 13 episodes, it's easily worth the amount of time spent watching it.
The story itself is rather straightforward, and doesn't go through any exceptionally large twists. However, I found that this added, rather than detracted from the enjoyment value. The story is fairly simple, yet leaves you eager to watch the next episode and discover exactly what sinister force is behind the strange happenings.
I won't spoil anything for you with any further synopsis (this anime is frankly far too short to bother with such things), but all you need to know is that while the story isn't the best I've yet seen, it was entertaining and fun to watch. Once again, you won't feel like you wasted your time. (Seriously, it's only 13 episodes, just give it a shot!) If you enjoy action shows, yet feel the need for good character development along the way, this anime would be an excellent choice for you.
Art: (10/10)- This show stands out to me as one of the finest examples of animation out there. Now, seeing as there were only 13 episodes to animate, the creators were able to pay more attention to each one, giving much more care to detail, and smoothing out places other animes would have been forced to skip over. I especially enjoyed the depiction of the Chinese festival early in the show, where there was some truly beautiful scenery, even mixed with some very believable CGI. The various CGI effects are given just as much attention as the rest of the lush backgrounds, creating a very smooth and coherent mixture which is very pleasing to look at. This is probably one of the best drawn anime that I have yet seen.
Sound: (7/10)- this show is superbly voiced. This isn't the sort of show that demands for many truly brilliant performances, but the actors performed the demands made of them very admirably. The one notable exception to this is the role of “Hakko”. I can’t say much without spoiling anything, but Hakko has very little dialogue until the last few episodes of the show. Remaining mute for most of the show (except for a few groans and sighs), Hakko is later given some dialogue that is both immensely important, and emotionally moving. This was no easy task for any actor, especially given the important nature of her few lines. All in all, excellently done!
The soundtrack was a good deal less memorable than the voice acting. It never stuck out to me as bad or unlikeable, but I never found myself thinking about the quality of music. It never really caught my ear, thus I couldn’t rate it as high as I would have liked. In contrast, the opening song is catchy, and very appropriately themed for the show. Overall, the music was probably the weak point of the show, but that’s hardly an insult in comparison with the quality of its other aspects.
Characters: (10/10)- Here is where the show truly shines. The role of protagonist is essentially shared by Canaan and Maria, as they are given about equal screen time and character development. Canaan is rather quiet, stoic, and rough, while Maria is friendly, outgoing, vivacious and fragile. This makes for an interesting combination, with Canaan being an ex-military, trained assassin, and Maria being an inquisitive photographer with a knack for getting into trouble.
These two share an interesting and unique friendship, which, much to my satisfaction, was devoid of any yuri themes. Their friendship is strong, and remains a driving force throughout the show. These two are supported by a cast of equally interesting supporting characters, each of which has a satisfactory, and interesting back story. Refreshingly, the villain of the show was far more than a mindless murderer, but had a story nearly as interesting as that of Canaan herself.
While Canaan can be a bit boring (due largely in part to her stoic nature), Maria easily makes up for this with her lively, innocent, wide-eyed view of the world. Canaan has a darker side to her, dating back to her military training, which Maria is still too naïve to see at the outset of the story. I found Maria to be an extremely lovable, and downright adorable character. While her constant repetition of the word “sugoi!” (amazing) may annoy some viewers, I thought it depicted her innocence and sweet nature very well. Canaan’s darker, quieter side provides an interesting balance to this duo.
These characters are placed into some rather emotionally touching situations, even to the point of bringing me to tears. I cannot say why, for fear of spoilers, but I was highly impressed by the clever use of the characters back stories, and even their unique abilities (which are given to only a select few characters) to provide an emotional charge that many action shows lack entirely. You’ll find a nice blend of action, character development, and even heart-wrenching moments that will bring you to the point of tears.
I could go on, but I think I’ve made my points clear. I grew to love each of the cast members, and I’m confident you’ll feel the same way if you give Canaan a chance.
Enjoyment: (9/10)- After all the bragging I’ve done about this show, why only a 9? I had to knock off a point because it felt too short. The show easily could have been extended without dragging, and the ending left me feeling as though a sequel was in store. I have not heard of any plans for a sequel at this point, but the ending certainly left that possibility open. Ultimately, it was an extremely enjoyable anime, but really left me wishing for more.
Overall (9/10)- Certainly not the best anime I’ve ever seen, but an excellent one, nonetheless. I highly recommend it to anyone. Even if you end up not liking it, you’ll only have lost 6 ½ hours of your life, so why not? =) read more