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26 of 26 episodes seen
The premise is very basic, and you can see that Heroman does indeed draw a lot of inspiration from superhero works of the past. In one sense, this is kind of cool. It's rare to see an anime that actually takes place in America, and it is actually entertaining to see a simple story of a boy fighting against an evil threat, without any major complications. But ultimately, this simplicity is also one of the show's greatest downfalls, because at the end of the day, Heroman simply plays it too safe.
The story to defeat the evil aliens (bug-like creatures known as "Skrugg") is enjoyable, but has no real depth to it. Simply put, it's basically just Joey and his friends walking forward to the Skrugg headquarters, fighting any that they meet along the way. Eventually, this part of the story is actually resolved, and it's here that the show starts to get a little more interesting, even if it still is unoriginal and has been done many times before. And while there are some interesting themes brought up at points, most notably the question of what exactly it truly means to be a hero, these themes are usually forgotten shortly after being brought up, despite the fact that a closer examination of this sort of thing could have really brought up the level of the narrative.
This simplicity also seeps into the characters. Joey is your generic goody two shoes, who always wants to help people and is willing to put himself into harms way to do so. It's fine for him to start out like this, but he never really develops throughout the story, and is basically the same at the end as he was at the beginning. This is also true for most of the other characters. You have Psy, Joey's best friend who is much more brash and willing to get things done (who also uses crutches throughout the whole show, which is actually kind of cool), there is Professor Denton, a goofy school teacher who inadvertently starts the invasion by making contact with the aliens, and Lina, the obvious main love interest who Joey doesn't seem to ever give enough attention.
There are more characters as the show goes on, from the military agent Hughes, to even Joey's older sister, but they all share one common flaw, and that is a lack of development in any sort of way. Most of these characters are admittedly amusing and a lot of fun to have on the screen, but they don't seem to serve a whole lot of purpose at the end of the day, and could really be replaced by anyone else. The romance that is foreshadowed between Joey and Lina never actually hits it's stride, and Joey's sister is annoying and antagonistic basically the whole way through. Had we gone a little further into what makes these characters tick, they could have been quite good, but sadly, we are left with just some cliche character's that fall nicely into certain tropes and do their job well, but ultimately never go beyond that.
So you may wonder, if Heroman is mostly just a glorified superhero movie in anime form, why should you bother with it? Two words: Production values. Heroman was created by Studio BONES, who are well known for their work on other notable projects such as Fullmetal Alchemist and Eureka Seven. They are also known for their high production standards when it comes to animation, and Heroman is no exception. The whole show looks great, going above and beyond what you would expect from a work of it's nature. The character designs are all unique, the action is a thrill to watch, and it overall looks incredible, particularly in the final few episodes, where the animation reaches a jaw dropping level.
The music is also a high point of the show, using a high number of techno like tracks to really set the mood for a lot of scenes, sometimes enhancing them greatly. In addition, the Opening and Ending themes are all great, with the first ending being particularly interesting, as the whole thing is done in a comic book panel style, an obvious homage to the show's roots.
So all in all, Heroman is actually a little disappointing. Not because it's a bad show per-se, but because it could have been so much more. It looks and sounds great, and is certainly an entertaining watch, but it suffers from an overall lack of ambition, and settles in too nicely with doing what it's comfortable with, not willing to take a few more steps forward and provide something deeper and overall more satisfying. That said, Heroman is quite well at doing what it does, and if nothing else, is a fun ride from beginning to end. read more
24 of 24 episodes seen
The story of Gankutsuou is about a boy named Albert de Morcerf, who one day on a carnival on the moon meets with the charismatic "Count of Monte Cristo". Albert is captivated by this man, and begins introducing him to important figures in Parisian society, unaware of the Count's true motivations for not only him, but everyone around him.
One thing I should note is that while the story in Gankutsuou does largely follow the plot of the book, it takes many deviations, particularly towards the end. While this may detract fans of the original novel, the anime is still and excellent adaptation, perfectly betraying all of the themes that the book had, while also surprising people who know the original story. Whereas the book takes place in the 1800's, the anime jumps ahead to the future, with technology being a central part of the world. This allows for an atmosphere and color pallet much different than you would expect, but also provides for a great backdrop to the story that never seems to get in the way.
The art too is something a bit unexpected about this show. All of the characters are animated in such a way that it makes it seem as if there clothes and hair are moving and changing as the characters move. This may feel bothersome at first because of how differently it's animated as opposed to other shows, but after getting used to it, the animation becomes one of the best things about the show, giving it a style that is unique and interesting, not to mention high quality. Couple this with a soundtrack that perfectly sets the mood for every scene, and you've got enough atmosphere and eye candy to make it a standout show alone. But Gankutsuou doesn't stop there.
When it comes to plot, Gankutsuou is incredibly complex and deep, making every single second count and tying together a myriad of plot points. At first it may seem slow, but after about halfway through, a plot twist occurs, making every single event from the previous episodes suddenly relevant again, and making you realize just how important everything was. Giving a detailed description of what actually happens in the show would take ages, as there is just so much to The Count's plans that you really won't understand unless you see it for yourself. The one part where the plot stumbles is right near the end. Everything is building up to a great climax, but in the end there really isn't one. Some out of character events start to happen, making the ending feel very anticlimactic and unfulfilled.
Another very strong part of the series are the characters. From Albert, the naive boy who is to willing to trust the Count and believe in everything he says. To Eugenie, Albert's arranged wife who starts out against the marriage but slowly begins to warm up to him. Not to mention Franz and Valentine, another arranged couple who do not want to be together, and Maximilian who is actually in love with Valentine. The parents of all these characters are also incredibly crucial to the plot, in a lot of ways even more so. Albert's father starts out seeming like a very nice guy, but has many secrets from his past. Eugenie's father comes off as a lazy, greedy man from the beginning, and this is only proved further as time goes on. And lastly Valentine's father, who is a cold man who also has an incredible secret to keep.
Last but not least is The Count himself. The Count is a very complex character, coming off as incredibly trust-able and like-able, but clearly having his own motives. Upon being introduced he manages to get on everyone's good side, putting his incredibly laid out plan into motion. He's charismatic, charming, a genius, rich, and elegant, making him a character that the cast, as well as yourself, has a hard time finding faults with. A large part of the mystery of the show is finding out more about The Count, as we start out initially unaware of who he is or what exactly he wants. As the answers start pouring in, The Count shifts from being someone you admire and stand in awe of, and more someone you feel sympathy for, but never really pity. The only problem with him is again near the end. I won't say exactly what happens at the end to avoid spoilers, but suffice to say he steps out of character at the most crucial moment, making the ending less satisfying than it should have been.
All in all, Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is an amazing anime that border on near perfection. If it weren't for some hiccups in the story and characters right at the end, than this would be a ten, but these things leave a bad taste in your mouth right at the conclusion, keeping it from perfection, but it still establishes itself as a deep and complex show that has a unique art style and well developed characters, making it a must-see series. read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
Yukiteru Amano is a quiet, 14 year old middle school student who borders on being anti-social. One day, he finds out that the journal he keeps on his cell phone is already filled in for the day, predicting the events that happen around him. He also comes to find out though that Deus, the being he thought was his imaginery friend, is actually god, and that he has been thrown into a last man standing survival game in which the winner claims the title of the new god. Couple that with the fact that a crazy, murderous stalker who also happens to be a player has fallen in love with him, and you have a general idea of the premise of Mirai Nikki.
The storyline in Mirai Nikki is one of the best aspects of the show. If you couldn't tell from the description above, Mirai Nikki has a setup that just pulls you in, offering a great premise to get you excited about the events to come. That said, it needs to be understood that this survival game isn't one along the lines of say "Eden of the East", where the game is more of a backdrop for a though provoking story. Mirai Nikki's survival game is kill or be killed, no exceptions. The show prefers to just let cool things happen even if they aren't properly explained, which is a blessing and a curse.
On the one hand, it makes for some truly enjoyable moments, but it does often leave you with the impression that the show just doesn't care if the events make sense, leaving you with the impression it was just rushed or downright ignored. But again, if your willing to just raise your suspension of disbelief and turn your brain off while your watching it, there is a lot of action and cool moments to justfiy watching.
As far as pacing goes, it moves at a very nice rate, keeping things interesting and ensuring that it never takes to long on one certain thing, keeping you entertained in the process. The ending is also surprisingly interesting, being a bit complex and a bit difficult to wrap your head around at first, but it is quite clever once you figure it out and makes the last 3-4 episodes some of the most enjoyable in the series. That said, you should probably check the last chapter of the manga after finishing the show, as their are about 10 pages or so that were unanimated, and it's definitely worth seeing them as they clear up a few questions.
Ultimatley, the story is very enjoyable with a few twists and turns throughout it to keep you engaged. I doens't always take the time it should to explain things to the viewer but with the fast pace and cool moments you'll hardly have time to notice. Ultimately though, the story is brought down the most by it's characters.
I'll put it bluntly, the characters are probably the worst thing about Mirai Nikki. For a show revolving around 12 people vying for the role of god, the characters must be interesting and engaging in order for the seutp to work. Thankfully, not all the characters are bad. As most of the characters have some form of psychological problem, some of them truly are interesting. Such as a blind man who dresses up like a power ranger acting as an agent of justice, a little boy whose parents fight, and a terrorist who might not be as bad as she first seems to be. The sad thing is, not all the characters are that good, and most of the tones that are good are quickly killed off and never brought up again.
It's not that all the other characters are bad per se, it's just that despite the show trying to gibe them interesting backstories and trying to make you care, most just come off as boring and you never really care about them. For a show all about a game in which only one will survive, having likeable, interesting characters is a necessity, but Mirai Nikki fails to deliver on this in all but a few cases.
Also important in defining the characters are each of their future diaries. Each player in the survival game had a diary they keep, and each one fills them in on future events in various different ways. Some are simple, such as telling the user what events happen around him, or another that details what will happen to someone the user is close too. Some of these future diaries get a bit bizarre though, and there's one later in the show that allows other future diaries to be made from it. It's an interesting concept, but it's never explained exactly how this can work, and the show just doesn't seem to care that it makes no sense.
Despite a few leaps in logic such as that though, the future diaries are a key part of Mirai Nikki, and it's always interesting to find out what diary a certain person has, and how it can be used to help them kill the other players.
The worst offender as far as characters go is sadly the main man himself, Yukiteru. He whines, complains, and cries all to often, making him just a constant annoyance to the viewer. It's understandable for him to be afraid at first, after all, he's just been thrown into this crazy survival game and now has a crazy murderous woman following him around, but the problem is that he never grows throughout the show. He does have some moments of courageousness, but he never grows from them, despite the fact that after every one it seems like a great chance to develop his character.
There to pick up the slack though is Yuno, that crazy, murderous stalker I mentioned earlier. Yuno is probably the best character in the show, seeming sweet and innocent, and just when you think she's not so bad, something is revealed about her which takes you back to her true nature of being a crazy, murderous, psycho, and she is one of the few characters to have truly good development. Over the course of the show you will learn more and more about her, making you wonder what her true motives really are.
There really isn't much to say about the art and animation in this show. It's certainly not bad or anything, but it's nothing to write home about either. The colors look nice and the character designs are alright, nothing spectacular though. You can tell some shortcuts were taken at certain points, but the animation does get a noticeable bump near the end of the series as most shows do, so it's not so bad. All in all the art in Mirai Nikki is alright, it gets the job done but doens't break any good ground. There is some nicely animated action sequences, so I'll give it that.
As with the animation, the sound is so-so. All the background music sets the mood well, and there are a few stand out tracks, but it's not the best soundtrack I've heard. The openings and endings though I though were quite nice, most of them giving some sort of look at the 12 players in the survival game, and they set the mood of the show well.
In terms of pure enjoyment, Mirai Nikki may be one of the most purely enjoyable anime I've seen. It's not deep or thought provoking, but it is a lot of fun to watch and downright entertaining. There are just so many memorable moments in this show that are either really cool, "epic", or even a few touching ones. Even if you don't like a lot of things about the show, you'll be hard pressed not to find a multiple moments in the show that bring a smile to your face, as there are quite an abundance of them, particuarly when the show really gets going in it's second half.
All in all, how much you like Mirai Nikki will be determined by how willing you are to overlook a few cases of things going unexplained and a few plot holes for the sake of high adrenaline, "awesome" moments. If your like me than you'll be able to look past some of those flaws and just enjoy it for what it is, which is basically just a fast paced battle royal featuring a cast of psychopaths using diaries that can predict the future to kill each other.A few of these characters being very well done, where as some fall very short.
Either way, as long as you are willing to look past these faults, Mirai Nikki is a very enjoyable expirence with a story that is surprsisngly good and only bogged down by a lack of great characters. I would reccomend this show to anyone who likes a show that doesn't force them to think to hard, and just gives them something enjoyable, adrenaline packed, and with a few twists and turns throughout.
If the characters had been better than I would have probably given this show a 9, but as they are one of the most important parts of the show and they just aren't as good as they need to be, I had to drop my overall score to an 8.
27 of 27 episodes seen
Luckily, "Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann" is the kind of show that DOES have great characters, animation, and much more, while still being an exciting and entertaining watch all the way through. Here is my review.
I'll keep plot description short here, but basically the story revolves around a wimpy and timid 14 year old boy named Simon, and his "soul brother", the loud and over the top Kamina living in an underground shelter, the same kind of shelter humanity has lived in for years. One day they get the chance to go the surface, where they form a resistance to defeat the oppressive gunman forces trying to keep humanity suppressed.
Along the way many new characters are introduced, and they all grow in some way throughout the show. The story in this series is fast moving, hardly ever giving you time to catch your breath before it keeps moving. In short, it's a vicious romp, through endlessly creative battles, with an incredible feel of just plain "awesome" coursing through it the whole time, while also occasionally stopping to show you a sadder, more serious side of things, all with a coming of age undertone to it.
The story is one the best parts of Gurren Lagann, always offering new situations and playing on all of your emotions at just the right time. Just when it feels like the endless battles may get repetitive, it hits you with something tear jerking, but never without having something awesome waiting for you at the end of the tunnel.
There are only two parts when the story slows down, and even these have their silver linings. The story does slow down at one point, offering less over the top fun that was given prior, but the story itself does get a bit more interesting. Also, at the end of the show there are some things that are completely inaccurate "laws of science" wise, but many great moments would not be possible without these things.
And unlike some shows, you don't have to worry about a confusing or unsatisfying ending for this one. Everything comes together in the end while also providing a shocking twist, providing for a fulfilling, bittersweet ending that will be sure to stick with you.
To put it simply, the animation in Gurren Lagann is fantastic. Quality control is never an issue as Gainax is infamous for, and every character, robot, and location looks crisp and unique. The style of animation isn't anything groundbreaking like, say "Gankutsuou" (another show worth watching), but it is pleasing to the eyes.
There is one episode, where the animation falters though, episode 5. This was done intentionally by Gainax to parody older shows where animation quality would randomly fluctuate between episodes. It was admittedly an interesting idea, although it just didn't turn out well in the end.
From music to other sound effects, Gurren Lagann hits home. From the beautifully made opening theme, to the epic, blood pumping battle soundtracks, all the music hits home for the given moment, even including some quieter, more subdued tracks, and another, vocalized song that plays during some of the more important moments.
Sound effects work just as well as the music, and while there aren't any particularly memorable sound effects, they all work just fine, and the amazing music more than makes up for the lack of anything special here.
I can't speak for the Japanese seiyuu, but I can assure the the English dub works very well for the series, and all of the voices fit the characters perfectly, especially the main character, Simon.
Ah, the characters. There are many, many things I could say about the characters in Gurren Lagann, but I'll keep things simple. There are 4 "main" characters in this show, and each one of them is unique and enjoyable to watch. They all change and grow over the course of the show, and by the end you really will have made an attachment to them.
Other than them there are roughly 10-12 other side characters in the show, some of them more important than others. The great thing though is that even if the character doesn't seem important at first, by the end of the series, every character will have gotten the spotlight at least once, and you will go out of the show remembering most of them.
As I said at the beginning of this review, a show is all about how enjoyable it it, and quite frankly Gurren Lagann is the most purely entertaining anime I have ever seen. It's not always though provoking or deep and complex, but it has great, over the top and epic mecha action, interesting and well developed characters, high quality animation, and an epic soundtrack to go along with it.
It would be easy to make a list of top five moments in an anime, but for Gurren Lagann I could make a top five list for every episode, and I would probably still have trouble deciding what would make the cut. I think that's just a testament to how great this show is. The story does slightly falter at some points, and there is one instance where the art is lacking, but those parts wouldn't even be noticeable if everything wasn't near perfect at every other moment, which is why I'm still going to give this show an overall rating of 10 out of 10.
Overall: 10/10, Perfect read more