The recommendation to me of the first volume of Akihito Yoshitomi's manga Ray was my first encounter with this series. While implausible, It had a lot of interesting ideas going for it; I could see how it could be really quite amusing, original and exciting. However I never got round to getting any more of the manga, for one reason or the other, before the release of the anime version *, so it was on the strength of only the first volume's limited impressions I started the series.
I wanted to like it. Really I did. I thought maybe its first episode
was trying to be flashy to hook people, I thought the second might be part of a slightly rocky start. But it was futile.
First of all, this is an absolutely classic example of how different media formats suit different kinds of story. From what I read, in monochrome print, the story can just about get away with Ray, her universe and the various extremely rare, difficult to treat ailments that she deals with; in motion, in colour, there's a world of difference. Presented as animation, these are some of the most preposterous ideas I have ever seen, and that the anime alters various storylines to make them even more preposterous does not help matters. This might be OK if this were full-on space opera style sci-fi, but the whole thing is grounded in what looks like the modern world, yet the things this series would have you believe are real maladies require truly heroic suspension of disbelief. Cancers that hide! Fungal spores that explode at a time calculable to the second! Posession by malicious shellfish! ESP diagnoses! Fungus filled with ant-like insects that...I could continue, but the point is, this is not E.R. - the Animation. This is "zOMG he has Ridiculous Disease!".
The series has an overarching plot, but adopts an on-off attitude to it that leaves much to be desired; mixes of malady-of-the-week episodes and plot episodes is not quite the format, but close. The point is, Ray is after this evil organ farming syndicate that more often than not ends up being the root of the week's strain of Ridiculous Disease (which for some reason is astonishing every time). The why of it all, however, remains painfully underdeveloped, and as the plot develops and "reasons" (read: poor excuses) for various things emerge, it becomes clearer and clearer that diseases are not the only ridiculous concepts we are supposed to simply take on face value; from a reasonably promising early premise the plot goes along increasingly wild tangents. The final denouement and resolution of the plotline in the last couple of episodes is far fetched even by the standards the series has already set. It is truly laugheable, the kind of plotline that resembles a children's make-believe game, full of "And then this happens! And then that happens! And, and then this!", a rush of overexcited, overblown, underdeveloped, ill-thought through ideas.
Characters, too, suffer from the incredible, mixed with the overly familiar. So far as design goes, all the female characters are crafted as extremely sexy pretty much all the time, including the egregious naked eyecatches, which may appeal to some but doesn't really fit the setting, in my opinion. Ray herself is hard enough to take, with her x-ray eyes and vaunted surgical ability coupled with apparent extreme youth and meaningless aloofness, and her pet medical technician Shinoyama is a familiar blend of unrequited lusts and preternatural skills. However the staff of the clinic where Ray works are the biggest problem. The nurses are all combinations of kung-fu masters and excuses for fanservice (occuring at the drop of a surgical cap) and for no evident reason the clinic director is a pirate, complete with peg leg and eyepatch. Villains are all absolute identikit concoctions of mystery, wealth and power, hidden lairs and irrational hatreds. As one might expect from something mixing tired formula with sensation in order to appear fresh, there is a half-baked, bloodless romantic subplot; it escalates appropriately in prominence as the thing gets sillier.
One area that it is reasonably hard to fault Ray on is its visuals. The art style, especially for the characters, is a very good approximation of the manga, sleek and high in contrast, similar to a comewhat updated, modernised Osamu Tezuka (his character Black Jack features a small recurring role) and animation quality is relatively good, although it does drop off somewhat towards the end of the series. Detail work such as cars and weapons are also a little shoddy.
Musically, the score is as overdone as the plotline, seeming to borrow from the likes of Bond films and the like; while this style can work in some situations, it fits epic secret agent action a little better than surgery, and comes across as intrusive and enormously irritating before long.
So, as you've gathered, I wasn't a massive fan. However, once I gave up trying to make excuses for it and try to rationalise it, I found that it periodically became somewhat amusing on a "so bad it's good" level. Watch it as a straight-faced parody of things that take themselves far, far too seriously, and it becomes reasonably funny - if you can ignore the fact that it's not intended like that at all - but I'd be far from honest if I said it was a series you can take remotely seriously, and as it plainly wants you to do so, I cannot call it anything other than a general failure as entertainment.
* Another tragedy of this whole business is that I bought another two volumes of manga in my excitement, and found them also becoming equally unsatisfactory and taking the story far from what it seemed to be and what I liked at the start.
I had put off viewing this anime for some time, from the description I thought it was a number of different short stories. The concept definitely got me after episode one.
To me, the story was unique. While I do agree that it did seem a bit episodic, those episodes were rather interesting. I get the feeling that there was quite a bit more that could have been done, and may have been done with the Manga, but it definately was a "page turner". The main plot had a fantastic number of twists and turns, for a ride that I would recommend.
Art/Sound: Nothing that really
stands out. Perhaps its more in the realistic and dated drawing style, but not too old.
Character: There were a decent number of characters. The story didn't delve too much into the non primary characters. It felt like there was a prequel that explained all of the relationships in the past.
Enjoyment: The only way I can describe this is that it is a page turner. I think that great anime, are one that can make you want to keep on watching after the first episode. I enjoyed the medical mysteries; the little romance that they had, and the overall pace.
Heartbroken for finishing all adaptations of "Black Jack" I stumbled across this anime. This anime is said to be inspired by Tezuka's "Black Jack", so I watched the first episode, hoping I would get the same satisfying feel of the whole "miraculously completing a surgery that is impossible for any other doctor to do".
I was so disappointed with the first episode that I promised not to watch it ever again. However, something compelled me to give the show another chance. And so I did. Easing my way back into the show, I thought maybe it would eventually get better.
It was extremely difficult to watch
a show about a said "special" doctor dressed in a mini skirt and crop top like some teenager going through a rebellious phase. The plot didn't even begin to develop until halfway through the anime, so it seemed like the first half of the show was just filler episodes. But once the plot started unraveling and I discovered Ray's intentions of saving everyone from the place where she was raised, I grew to like the show.
I thought it would turn out to be just a lame spinoff of Black Jack, but in the end, it was actually quite different and I was happy to see that it was better than I thought.
While browsing through an anime mag I noticed a little article on the manga of Ray, and I found the synopsis interesting. When I discovered there was anime, I was also pleased, and (being unable to find manga) I watched it.
Sadly the anime resembles a boring soap opera with an anime twist. Though I did watch the entire series, I was not very impressed. No plot twist was unexpected, and none of the scenes/scenario's really stuck out as interesting, apart from one aspect: Ray's past. This was what drew me to the series in the first place, but unfortunately it doesn't play a very
interesting role, which is mainly due to the fact that everything from that point on was easily predicted and had little impact.
The style is quite nice, though not spectacular. And the animation is fairly standard, or even a little below.
Again, nothing really stuck out, but it did the job.
Excluding minor appearances from Black Jack, the series was filled with pretty dull characters. Their designs were nothing special either - though that can arguably be a good thing. I did like Ray's design though. But apart from that I didn't really sense all that much development, and could not relate to any of them.
Though there wasn't much special in my view about this anime, I still enjoyed it a little. Only a little though. As explained earlier, Ray's strange past was the only part that interested me, the rest was a disappointment.
This is an incredible show that is as good as it is underrated. RAY the Animation is the adaptation of the manga that sadly got canned thanks to ADV's terrible manga division. I got warped in and was hooked. It's so basic, yet has such an innovative at the same time, it just goes to show that a story can be a little cliche without overdoing it.
STORY: Again, the story is fairly basic, following a doctor with X ray eyes who is capable of performing surgeries no one else can. You'll be wrapped up instantly as to how she aquired those powers. There's
also cryptic flashblacks that she has, which will draw you in more, as you want to find out just what is going on with these mysterious figures she sees. For a show thats only 13 episodes, it flows pretty well without ever feeling forced, rushed, tacked-on, or boring. Almost every scene revolves around character development or Ray's emotions of her cloudy past. Yet, this won't dull you at any point, because it's never overdone, unlike most shows, which will blitzkrieg you with comedy out of nowhere, destroying the mood set by the previous scene. There are very few far-fetched points, like an episode involving body possesion, and it gets a little weird near the end, but those can be overlooked once you find out what happening.
ART: The art is simple, yet pleasing. As far as most manga/anime transitions, this one is very nice to look at. The character designs are nice, the backgrounds are great, and the fight scenes are good, but don't expect too much combat. A highlight for me was Shinoyama's new look. In the manga, his eyes are hooded by his bangs 90% of the time, but his face is in full view, which makes him look so much better. The operation scenes are graphically detailed, but look really cool, and are the cream of the show, what with it being about a surgeon and all.
SOUND: The music is nice, but can get a bit repetitive at times. BGM is not the shows strongest point, but the voice acting and sound effects do more than make up for this. There are a lot of slicing and opening sounds of scalpels and foreceps, which will send a few shivers up the spine and cause goosebumps, but that means it's effective without being too disgusting.
CHARACTER: Ray is awesome, Shinoyama is my favorite character in the show, the supporting cast (nurses, Sawa, etc.) are loveable, especially nurse Misato, who badgers the love interests about their feelings. I've seen this done, but she does it so nonchalant, it's even funnier. The antagonists are effective, as they are kept as a mystery for most of the story with just minor clues given, and you'll hate the H Ringed Man with an M. Bison level passion.
ENJOYMENT: Since it's not long, it's easy to enjoy this show without much worry. The idea is just great, the characters are effective, Ray's backstory is intriuging and twisted, and watching her work on patients just shows that a lead character can be really awesome without super powered fists or zanpoktos.
OVERALL: If not a masterpeice, then this is just short of it. There's very little bad about this title and I recommend it to everybody who would like to watch a very solid anime with a hearty plot.