Shuuji and Chise are third year students at a high school in Hokkaido. The shy Chise is finally confessing to Shuuji, and finally the two of them are starting to exchange diary awkwardly. One day, Shuuji tries to escape from a sudden enemy air raid on Sapporo. While desperately escaping from the air raid, Shuuji sees a scene that he could not forget for his life. He sees Chise, with a huge weapon looking as if it was part of her hand, shooting the enemy fighters down one by one. Apparently, Chise is the ultimate weapon with destructive power which is important for the war.
Title: Saikano , short for Saishu Heiki Kanojo (My Girlfriend, The Ultimate Weapon)
Manga, Movie, Anime: Saikano was originally a manga authored by Shin Takahashi, and ran in the Shogakukan publication Big Comic Spirits from May 30th, 2000 to December 25th, 2001. It totals at seven collected volumes. It has been released Stateside by Viz, and the final volume was released January 3rd, 2006.
A live-action movie was released January 28th, 2006, and has yet to be licensed Stateside. I'll be covering this later in the review.
The anime itself was produced by Gonzo (famous for Gankutsuou and Red Garden), and directed by Mitsuo Kase
(famous for directing the first seven episodes of Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory), and ran on Japanese TV from July 2nd, 2002 to September 24th, 2002. Saikano has been licensed Stateside by Viz, and the fourth and final volume was released November 9th, 2004.
Story: So, there's this couple, Shuji and Chise, who've just started going out, and they're so amazingly awkward with each other, the way you first are when you're just starting to go out with someone. There's a war going on, but they're somewhere near Sapporo on Hokkaido, the northernmost island in Japan, so it doesn't really affect them, up until the day that Sapporo gets bombed. There's this gleam of light that absolutely decimates the enemy bombers, and Shuji ends up following it when it crashes and it turns out that it's Chise, who's more or less been turned into a cyborg.
The rest of the series focuses on their relationship, and how Chise's being turned into a weapon affects that, juxtaposed with the war that's going on.
I am going to warn you straight off the bat; this is probably one of the most depressing anime in existence. You're going to want to keep anything you can hurt yourself with far away from you as you go through the series. There is a lot of death. You get to watch Chise lose her humanity bit by bit. You get to watch Shuji utterly unable to do anything about the former. You watch them trying to keep their relationship together while all of this is happening.
And it's everything that makes it depressing that makes a good story, really.
To be honest, I'm not really sure what happened in the last half of the last episode. This may be just me. But it is a bit confusing that way.
Art: The art style for this is a bit simpler than most of Gonzo's productions that I've seen; it seems closer to the style of a manga, in terms of the way characters are rendered. In fact, when I took a look at the manga covers the other day, it seems almost exactly the same. So that's a nice touch.
Gonzo uses a lot of reds, blacks, grays and dark colors, for the war zones, and brighter colors for Hokkaido, though that ends up turning more sinister as the story goes on.
Also, the CG is excellent, as expected from Gonzo. And luckily, it blends very well with the general style.
Music: The OP is amazing; I didn't like the song all that much, but it grew on me, and the segment itself is black and white, with the occasional highlight of bright color, and has random bits of French text throughout. The ED is also made of awesome; didn't pay too much attention to the segment here, but the song itself is done by the same artist who did the OP (Yuria Yato), which is a rare thing in an anime, because the contrast between the two really shows her range.
The background music is mostly variations on the OP and ED, but seeing as they're both so good, it's nice to hear. There's also an insert song that Shuji always hums, and when you finally hear it sung in the last few episodes, it's really a nice song, even if it ends up being a terrible thing for Chise.
Seiyuu: Chise's seiyuu also was Firiel in Nishi no Yoki Majo, which was a nice touch. As ever, the seiyuu did an excellent job; no issues here.
Length: Perfect, because it allows for just the right amount of depression, but stops before you actually consider killing yourself. Any more and I wouldn't have been able to take it, any less and it wouldn't have seemed right.
Movie: Saikano was turned into a live-action movie in 2006 by Toei. Aki Maeda, younger sister of Ai Maeda (who was Kino's seiyuu in Kino no Tabi, which she also did the OP/ED for) and also played Noriko in the live-action adaptation of Battle Royale, was cast as Chise.
I didn't like the movie as much. It was basically a digest version of the series (which was to be expected, as there was no way they could put all the material in a two-hour movie), but the thing was that some of the most emotional scenes from the anime ended up having little to no impact in the movie itself. Maybe it's because the build-up was missing; maybe it was becasue of the acting. I can't really tell you what went wrong here. And even though it went about things differently, it still had the same ending as the anime, which made even less sense, really.
Overall: It's depressing as all hell, but it's good.
Saikano has all of the best intentions for a tragic romance, and it sets its story up really well. And that, dear readers, is where all of my positive remarks end for this emotion-milker.
I do not fault those of you who call this one of the most moving anime out there. Far from it, it's full of emotion. But there is such a thing as pacing and this is where the anime conks out. Saikano's story is so diligent in making sure it's viewers never forget that unspeakable tragedy is inevitably nearing, even from the very first few episodes. The world being at war and
countries falling daily, it's only a matter of time before the hellfire reaches our two young lovers. The problem is that matter of time takes forever to get here. The series does its best to retain a sense of tragedy throughout, but the results are hardly worth the excruciating wait. By the time tragedy did strike, I just didn't care anymore.
This is not made any easier by the cast. The focus of the story is Chise and Shuji. Chise, being a walking weapon of mass destruction, has the weakest of personalities. Her primary habits include being slow, dull, and average except that she can sprout metal wings. This girl's positively transparent, and Shuji is not much better. His indecisive attitude only fuels the series into dragging on and on. Though he finally grows past it, it just seems futile afterward in context to what is happening in the world around him. Akemi, the only relatively interesting character in the series, is otherwise squandered as the show demands so much focus on Chise.
The art is definitely the highlight of the show. It's impossibly delicate which surprises me because this is from the blatant CG glutton GONZO, yet there's practically nothing in the series that looks as such. It flows nicely and always looks beautiful. Definitely a plus.
The BGM was forgettable as it was mostly renditions of the forgettable OP and ED. Not bad, but not good, and certainly not enough to warrant further attention.
Overall, I feel Saikano had the potential to be great, but ended up overstaying its welcome. It's got a great start and a somewhat decent finish, but a neverending middle that sucked my emotions dry before it could make a difference. If your eyes are bottomless wells for tears, then have at it. You'll probably enjoy it a heck of a lot more than I did.
Saikano is awkward. Extremely awkward. And not even in a good way. I watched this series basically over the course of two days, and I have to say if I hadn't just kept watching it, I probably would not have bothered to finish it (unfortunately, I did.) Let me explain why.
☢CAUTION!!☢ SPOILERS AHEAD ☢CAUTION!!☢
If I was able to make any recommendation across media, I would definitely say this show reminded me a lot of Nitro+'s visual novel Saya no Uta. For those of you not familiar with it, it's a somewhat gory and sexually explicit short story
following one male protagonist, who through what can probably be excused as fate, sees the world as a conglomeration of flesh and things. The only thing that appears normal to him is a girl, who in time they fall in love with one another, and in the end, she turns out to be an unstable slaughter-alien that basically destroys the earth. It's a really heart-touching story despite what it may sound like, and Saikano attempted very much to accomplish the same thing.
The problems with Saikano, though, are many. First off, the one question that kept nagging me was this: who are they fighting? Across the entire series, you never find out who the Japanese are fighting against. They're only referred to as 'the enemy', and it's basically impossible to determine anything about them because you only actually see 'the enemy' a total of about 3 times. So if that's not military intelligence enough for you, check out their choice of weaponry: Arming a hormonal teenage girl with enough missiles to wipe out an entire town several times over, and then letting her run freely around school, pretending to be a normal human. Why didn't the military pick a mid-20s male in prime shape, and instead pick a clumsy, dopey girl? (More complaints on characters to come) Nobody knows. I guess the military was just trolling. Tens of billions of yen spent creating the 'Ultimate Weapon', and they fail to pick somebody who was even capable of walking in a straight line without wiping out.
Military matters aside, all that's left in this show is romance drama. I probably wasn't watching as closely as I should have been, so I got confused with the characters a little, but it didn't matter. The basic idea is that this is supposed to be, as the subtitle may suggest, "The last love song on the planet." It's anything but pure. Nearly every character in the show cheats on one another with every other character, resulting in one big, confusing, web of spitesex. None of the characters seem to be enjoying it, and none of them do anything to pretend that they do. Probably half the scenes have the characters crying or cursing themselves, while the other half typically have one of the partners cut up, coughing up blood, dying, or with tentacles coming out of their stomachs. Meanwhile the other sits and says classic lines such as, "You're beautiful," or "Touch my breasts."
The 'plot', should you be generous enough to call it that, resolves when the main character and his Ultimate Weapon Girlfriend (UWG from here) are atop a building where they first fell in love, repeatedly having sex while the town under them is destroyed in a giant tidal wave, shortly followed up by massive black ... masses coming from the sky and doing I don't even know what. Then, failing to protect the planet, UWG manages to only save main guy, who is then left alone on the destroyed planet (probably) only to sit and rather easily go insane, and probably to die of starvation within a couple days. There's nothing heart-warming about that. There's nothing depressing about that. It's just stupid.
...I hesitantly say this is the best aspect of the show. The art is solid and consistent throughout the series. That isn't to say, though, that it's actually good. First off, for some reason, every character is constantly blushing. Constantly. Throughout the entire show. Then when they actually do blush, it looks more like a rash that got irritated and their entire face becomes inflamed. Or something.
The character designs themselves are pretty unoriginal, which loaned itself to me not being able to keep track of characters. Main character looks like he's about 30, though, and UWG averages 8. Her face is literally a circle, and she's short and fat-looking. I mean, I'm not gonna rip on them for /actually/ making an anime girl fat, but the thing is, I don't think she's supposed to be. I think it was their attempt to expand on her character through her appearance. Then again, I could be wrong.
The one thing that did manage to win several points was UWG's design when she was in full-out destructo mode. She appears several times with a pair of large, metallic wings in various forms throughout the show, each time a little different than the time before, and every single time, pretty darn cool. And that's why the art is the best aspect.
Ugh. The opening theme is annoying. I listened to it the first time, then muted the volume every episode after that. The ending theme is boring. If there was background music, it was so transparent that I didn't even notice it. Except once again, when UWG goes into destructo-mode, there's one song on the soundtrack that sounds like something out of Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor. It was nearly decent, but completely unfitting most of the time, because the action scenes were not very action-packed, and electric guitar with no action is a bit of a paradox (unless it's K-on or some crap like that).
The explosions sounded okay.
Character voices... I guess for the most part they were decent, but there were several points in the show where characters either laughed or screamed, and it was just the most irritating thing I've ever heard. That happens a lot though, and isn't something I haven't grown to expect.
Okay. Let me dismantle this character-by-character (Going straight off the list here on MAL, since I won't be able to remember them all on my own).
Main Character: Chise. I don't know why they picked a whiny, clumsy brat to be their ultimate weapon. She's constantly tripping and falling and screaming, which is apparently only cute to a bunch of perverted old men at a cafe where she works late in the series. She's horribly indecisive. She can be persuaded just by yelling at her. Also, there's some sort of split-personality going on, where she turns robotic and manages awkward utterances such as, "Your liquid entered my body. Why do you do this?" after a kiss. I don't get it at all, but it's annoying.
Main Character: Akemi. What? She was a main character? All she did was offer 'helpful' relationship advice to Shuuji, hiding the fact that she liked him the entire series (of course, it was painfully obvious to the viewers), and by the time she finally got around to admitting it, half her body's blasted away from an earthquake or something. Awkward sex scene ensues, she dies coughing blood all over Shuuji while he reassures her she's beautiful and the only one he loves. What happened to UWG? She's off cheating on Shuuji.
Main Character: Shuuji. He's the most difficult to respect out of all the characters in this show. He says he's Chise's boyfriend frequently, and every night, sneaks out of his house to go sleep with his senpai Fuyumi (who in turn, is also cheating on her husband, who in turn, is also cheating on his wife with Chise. Go figure.) When he's around her, he shows his affection by calling her 'Idiot/Moron/Doofus/etc', then leaves to curse himself and be an otherwise deadpan, static rock of a character.
Atsuhi: The most interesting character this show has to offer, he's friends with Shuuji and the scarcely-important Take, and has feelings for Akemi. He joins the military to 'protect' her, but turns out to be a wimp and dies anyhow.
Tetsu: Fuyumi's husband, a military dog who seduces Chise because he wants loli but doesn't even remember her name. Dies.
Fuyumi: An annoying succubus. Dies eventually.
Shuuji's Dad: What.
Yukari/Take: Listed together because they're equally unimportant. Take dies in episode 1 or 2 or something and you don't learn his name until like 10 or 11. Lulz ensue.
This is higher than it would seem to be. That's because I was actually laughing at what a pathetic show it was, and how all the melodrama was more mock-fodder for my taking. Also, it just has such a weird-out factor that you probably WILL remember it for a long time if you actually watch it all.
That's the average, right? I don't even know. So yeah, trash, avoid.
There's no 9.5 option when you come to reviewing, so I guess that a 9 will have to do. Ok, I discovered this anime purely by accident - don't you just love it when that happens? Anyway, a recent purchase and I couldn't wait to watch it. For those who don't know anything about Saikano - the story is essentially a love story, albeit a very tragic one. The anime focuses on the lives of Shuji and Chise, two high school students in Hokkaido who have recently became a couple. However, the happiness that comes along with finding someone to
love is very short lived. The world that they live in is at war, in the anime it's unclear just who Japan is at war with - but in my opinion that didn't really matter.
When the opposing army attacks Sapporo and seals large scale destruction to the city, Shuji is shocked to discover Chise standing amongst the rubble with machinery 'growing' out of her arm. Sometime later, Chise reveals to Shuji that some people came to her house one night and said that she would be a perfect candidate... to become the ultimate weapon. The details as to why this is isn't made clear until the OVA, but I guess that's good to keep the viewer's guessing. The anime then focuses on how the two cope with this revelation, and how Chise struggles with herself on how she is changing into a 'machine' and becoming 'less human'. You'll hear the phrase "I'm sorry" a LOT in this anime - so be prepared for it!
The animation quality is pretty good, it's one of those really nice flowing styles that seem to draw you in. It's certainly easy on the eyes, and I have absolutely no complaints about the music either. The opening theme "Koi suru Kimochi" a really beautiful song, the same can also be said for the closing. Both themes remain the same throughout the series.
The only real problem that I actually have with this anime is that it tends to get slightly repetitive in some cases, what with Chise's constant apologising and Shuji's slight indecision and denial in some cases really get on my nerves. But in saying that it all ties in with the story. In all honesty, the anime pretty much follows the manga fairly accurately. However, I've only read the first 3 volumes of the manga so far, so I'll have to wait and see how it all ends. If you're into the more tragic love story, then I can't really recommend Saikano enough. It's an anime that I actually cried while I watched. There is also a live action movie, if you're really into this anime (like me) which I also recommend as it gives a different perspective on the two.
One thing that I think that I should mention though, is that the ending is pretty confusing - but if you're going to watch this anime, or have seen it... I'll let you draw your own conclusions about that.
Cyborgs are always there to realize the awesome potential of combining humans and robots. They may look human, but they display great robotic prowess that we lowly creatures can only envy. Today, we'll list down twenty of the greatest anime cyborgs to ever grace our television screens.