gedata's Blog

October 13th, 2015
Anime Relations: Cowboy Bebop, Texhnolyze, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Kenpuu Denki Berserk, Azumanga Daioh, Fullmetal Alchemist, Hunter x Hunter, Gankutsuou, Genshiken, Great Teacher Onizuka, Hajime no Ippo, Hajime no Ippo: Mashiba vs. Kimura, Gungrave, Mousou Dairinin, Shoujo Kakumei Utena, Mushishi, Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World, Mugen no Ryvius, Princess Tutu, Digimon Tamers, Zegapain, Black Lagoon, Macross, NHK ni Youkoso!, Brigadoon: Marin to Melan, Area 88, Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage, Bokurano, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Baccano!, Daicon Opening Animations, Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor, Mouryou no Hako, Black Lagoon: Roberta's Blood Trail, Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger, Tantei Opera Milky Holmes, Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei, Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru, Hunter x Hunter (2011), Tantei Opera Milky Holmes Dai 2 Maku, Shinsekai yori, JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken (TV), Samurai Flamenco, Hajime no Ippo: Rising, Kyousou Giga (TV), Space☆Dandy, JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Stardust Crusaders, Mushishi Special: Hihamukage, Mushishi Zoku Shou, Space☆Dandy 2nd Season, Mushishi Zoku Shou: Odoro no Michi, Mushishi Zoku Shou 2nd Season, JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Stardust Crusaders 2nd Season, Mushishi Zoku Shou: Suzu no Shizuku
Area 88



An OVA series that makes no qualms about what it is, a melodramatic anti-war drama that is all about the effects of the battlefield on unsullied souls and the morality of anyone who trained for the purpose of killing for whatever they may have. It's pretty much as close as you'll get to an anime version of Catch-22 as our protagonist essentially finds himself trapped in a paradoxical situation that forces him to continually engage in air-based combat. Unsubtle for sure (characters tend to bemoan their fate for a couple of minutes at a time) but it works precisely because these types of situations call for the type of emotional responses present here. What's chilling is how our protagonist's outlook towards his situation changes, no spoilers but it leads to one hell of a memorable ending. Also, it's chock full of kick ass jet fighting action scenes. It's a shame they didn't use Kenny Loggins' Danger Zone as an insert song for the dogfights. How awesome would that have been?

Azumanga Daioh



It took me forever to get through all of Azumanga Daioh, but I mean that in the best way possible since I simply didn't want to live in a world where there wouldn't be any more gags of airheaded Osaka going on surreal mind-trips, or seeing Tomo be what is essentially the amalgamation of every horrible but ultimately innocent friend I've had since I was a kid. On top of all the silly meandering, the show is a pretty darn good nostalgic character driven piece. Unlike other, more aimless comedies, it doesn't forget about the passage of time. Thus, the characters cherish the limited time they spend with each other as I the viewer did with them.

Baccano!



The perfect example of making every scene of every episode count towards something joyous and worthwhile. Baccano! is one hell of a puzzle in terms of presentation, but it's a puzzle that's a load of fun to piece together. The mishmashed timeline is a thing that you'd expect would create a disastrous mess of badly handled of convoluted plot threads, but Baccano! manages to keep it all together by the time it wraps up its insane tale of gangsters, thieves, immortals, and any combination of the three. I've never put down a title for being "style over substance", and Baccano! is the main reason as to why.

Berserk



A series that has definitely gotten a bit of an unfair reputation from its manga fanbase. What I dig about Berserk is how it did good a job of condensing some of the best material the manga had to offer without any of the cuts screwing up the story that the anime was tasked with presenting. Given the show's focus was to tell the story of how painting the general picture of how everything ended up the way we saw in the first episode, the actual ending didn't upset me much at all, even though we really could have done with a proper denouement. The path to said ending is still exceptional stuff filled gory battles, political intrigue, and some darn well-handled characterization in the form of our lead duo Guts and Griffith (and Caska is pretty cool too). Berserk is still king of the Dark Fantasy landscape in anime as far as I'm concerned.

Black Lagoon



An awesome amalgamation of Western action flicks with high production values and an excellent English voice cast that blows the original out of the water. Black Lagoon is made up of separate arcs, but still takes time to build on it's cast, namely Rock and Revy, who together (despite their many, difference) serve as the show's emotional stronghold. Rock is the one that grew on me the most however since he turned out to be far more than the "scared fish-out-of-water type character who fucks everything up for the cool characters" type of guy I originally had him pegged as. Instead, he manages to find his niche in the Lagoon Companies' operations and ends up becoming a valuable asset in his own way. He's the show's moral compass, a compass that grows more and clouded by the madness of Roanapur threatening to swallow him up. The show might be a bit pretentious and repetitive with its dialogue, but there's more than enough here to come out smiling on the other end. I'd read the manga too but I the last thing I need is another series to suffer through a hiatus with.

Bokurano



Gimmicky in concept, but the delivery is all there. Bokurano is something else compared to your garden variety post-Eva mech title in that it doesn't provide much of a reward for the pilots to get into the robot and fight since doing so comes at a high price. Kids are generally rather selfish and care about petty crap whilst taking everything their given for granted (adults aren't much better, but we actually have responsibilities), so seeing them deal with the reality of having given up everything they value for the good of the ones they love is heart wrenching, heart warming, or sometimes an odd combination of the two. Also, the OP is fucking amazing.

Brigadoon



Brigadoon probably doesn't look like it's a great show, but it's by far the least appreciated title championed on this list. It's an odd, sometimes a bit confused title for sure, but for me, it snugly fits under the category of "flawed, but unique and ambitious to the point where I can't help but love it". I've said pretty much everything I've wanted to say about it already in this review, so have a look at it if you don't mind.

Cowboy Bebop


I'm sure you've seen plenty of "favorite anime lists" before. You can live without seeing another detailed Bebop entry.

Daicon Opening Animations



During the 80s, a group of ambitious and nerdy youngsters slapped together some silly short animation telling a ludicrous tale about a robot girl with a daikon shaped spaceship and her mission to break every copyright law known to man throughout the skies and space. Said nerds went on to become hot shit with the formation of a studio you may have heard of called Gainax. Oh and Electric Light Orchestra is awesome.

Death Note



Being the most popular psychological thriller to ever hit the anime landscape, as was with Cowboy Bebop, you probably don't need to hear much more about how awesome Death Note is. Though to be honest, If this was a ranked list it wouldn't be all too high up (the last third of the series truncates some important explanations, the manga's ending was changed for the worse, Misa is an awful character, etc) but it's still damn hard to top in terms marathonability and the sheer overblowness in the direction was a welcome addition to a story that was always a bit inherently silly. It's certainly a whole lot better then what anime studios today are trying to pass for crime=thrillers (looking at you, Zankyou no Terror and Ranpo Kitan).

Digimon Tamers



Easily the best children's anime I've seen. The reason why I hold it up such is because it was not only fun and welcoming enough for me as a youngster, it's also mature and well written enough to me as a young adult to enjoy as something more than a mere nostalgia watch. It's also interesting, now that I look back on it, how much disturbing shit this season was able to get away with. Nothing that'd fly on your 4Kids Saturday morning block for sure. Also, props to this one for having a legitimately good dub that doesn't rely on shit puns like in the first 2 seasons.

FullMetal Alchemist



Pretty much the standard bearer for all adaptations of unfinished work. I fully understand how shaky some of its plot elements are, especially towards the end, but there's still plenty of meat to make up for it. This is a show that is absolutely dedicated to its themes, without sacrificing narrative or character. Virtually everything thematically introduced in the first episode survives to the conclusion. Equivalent exchange (and the impossibility of it), coming of age, making your path in life, the lies we tell ourselves, the best-laid plans gone wrong, and most importantly, obsession. Full Metal Alchemist is a show about obsession. It's about Ed and Al's obsession. It's about Scar's obsession. It's about Mustang's obsession. It's about Tucker's obsession. It's about the obsessions of the homunculus. The things that drive people at their very core. The things they refuse to compromise on and will even hurt the people they love to claw a little closer to achieving. It's sad to see this series go by the wayside in comparison to the remake, but seeing how I get to enjoy great takes on the same intriguing premise, I guess I shouldn't be too sad.

Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor



What we have here is essentially 26 episodes of essentially "Survival of the Jerkwad-iest". The insane levels of psychological drama are what makes this anime so incredibly difficult to turn my attention from, and if anything, the glacial pacing only helps add to the ridiculous levels of tension. It's damn great to see a nobody like Kaiji struggle to stick it to the most arrogant pricks with sheer cunning, and downright heartbreaking to see him fail. And the narrator is amazing too. The 2nd season is pretty cool too, with the Chinchirorin arc living up to the 1st. The Pachinko arc, however, goes out of control in terms of pacing, which is an unfortunate caveat for such a fantastic anime.

Genshiken



If shows like Welcome to the NHK! are meant to be cautionary tales against the pratfalls of nerd culture, then Genshiken is a warm embrace of it. I don't mean that in a fantasy empowerment sense, but something a lot more insightful and endearing than that. The show isn't at all wholly positive and instead strikes a careful balancing act between celebrating geekdom and mocking it. But it's a more of a loving type of mockery.But what made Genshiken appealing at the end of the day is Saki. Seeing her go on her journey with the Genshiken club from being a fish-out-of-water normie to someone who can understand and accept their lifestyle (even if she would never willingly become a part of it) makes for one fun character journey. Saki isn't nearly as prevalent in the 2nd season and the OVAs, but it's alright with me since Ogiue shows up and she's pretty cool too. Pretty much a great show for anyone looking for some good chuckles along with some light human drama. Maybe I should just get to Nidaime already.

Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo



Probably the best loose literary adaptations an anime has to offer, and easily one of the best ever made. Hoity-toity seeming it might be on the outside, Gankutsuou is really just one big, silly soap opera at heart, with the insanely bombastic presentation laced over a story filled with tumultuous relationships, betrayals, and of course, vengeance. The character arcs of the supporting cast are effective, but cmon, we know the real draw here is the titular vampire elf smurf himself. The Count seriously exudes a type of presence, unlike anything I've seen from an anime character before (amazing performances from both the English and Japanese dubs sure as hell helped). When looking at the big picture we have a show that can be equal parts entertaining and heartbreaking in terms of delivering payoff and that's all I'm looking for.

Great Teacher Onizuka



Imagine if there was a teacher out there that went ahead and decided forgo all convention. What if he had his own way of looking out for his pupils that didn’t include a load of meaningless information they’ll forget anyway and doesn’t necessarily always line-up with the law? How about if he was the sort of guy who’d do literally anything to save his students from each other and/or themselves? Now imagine that he always somehow manages to not get fired.arrested for public nudity, property destruction, assault, etc. That’s what you get with GTO. This is series that goes beyond the typical “inspirational teacher” premise since it actually dares to keep the characters interesting even after they’ve been reformed by Onizuka’s unconventional “teaching”. It’s often far too ridiculous to take entirely seriously, but that’s really more of a strength more often than not since this series is just that damn funny to read/watch. The goofy and unrealistic handling of heavy subject matter at times makes it hard to take very seriously, but seeing Onizuka overcome tremendous odds in ridiculous ways will never not be fun.

Gungrave



Whilst much of what you hear about the sci-fi elements and how they feel shoehorned in (particularly in the 2nd half) is true, I always felt as if the degree to which this is considered a detriment seems somewhat exaggerated to me. Besides it's essentially The Godfather/Goodfellas meets Berserk (with production values that aren't shit and an actual ending). The series is just so damn good in how it establishes Harry as an ambitious and cool cutthroat whose persona begins to crumble the longer he remains at the top. There's also Brandon, who despite coming off as a simple man of few words is properly characterized through how deals with the new place in life he acquires and the inner moral strife he faces later on. Even though the rest of the cast is a tad large, not one of them felt like they had nothing to offer. It's really the fantastic drama and humanity of the 1st half that really managed to keep me invested even through the more video-gamey 2nd half (which still retains a lot of the show's strengths, just diluted with some goofy boss battles). It's not a perfect mix of camp and drama, but that issue never manages to strip the series of the fantastic emotional core, which remains all the way into possibly the best finale of any anime I've seen from the 00s.

Oh and skip the 1st episode. Just trust me on this.

Hajime no Ippo



Now here's a series that knows how to build excitement. Sure, perhaps it starts a bit slow, with Ippo’s tale not being much more than your typical underdog tale, but that feeling didn’t really last long, and by the time he had a couple legit matches under his belt, I was all in on this thing. The fights themselves, while they do tend to overuse certain cliches (like “he can’t possibly stand up from that one” for example), and most of the outcomes are rather predictable since it’s not really too hard to figure out the direction the story is shooting for with each fight. Yet still they are always a blast since with each new combatant comes a new angle of the sport to keep shit from getting stale. I don’t even mind the minute long inner monologs that sometimes take place just as that one big shot is about to land.because by then the adrenaline is already at a ridiculous high by that point and those moments are always saved for the most important showdowns. Between, the cooldown periods are plenty of fun too. When the characters bounce off each other when having dumb fun, it’s pretty hilarious. There’s a certain, unbreakable loyalty between the fellas at Kamogawa gym that make them the sort of folks I’d like to train alongside. The crass bro-humor is perfectly in line with the personality of the characters. The shower scenes in which Takamura would casually grope Ippo’s large member, for example, scenes like that make their friendship feel pretty genuine.

Hunter x Hunter



As far as adventure shonen titles go, HxH is pretty goddamn weird. Here we have one that's smart, unpredictable, and has arcs that adhere to absolutely no formula whatsoever. It bounces quickly from tournament brawls to a crime thriller story, to even an MMO adventure without any of the parts seeming out of place. The setting here is a good sense of danger too. It's the kind of world that wouldn't think twice about mauling our young hero Gon at a moment's notice since nothing is there for the sole purpose of simply facilitating his journey to meet his dad. The presentation of the Ant arc, in particular, might've thrown lot's of folks of for a lot of reasons (with the sudden shift in priorities and slow pacing, and the Ants themselves being quite unlike the rest of the antagonists up to that point) but I consider it to be a wonderful self-contained story of its own that pushes the cast to their emotional psychological extremes in ways that I found stunning. Not only the best JUMP adaptation but the best straight up "adventure" I've seen from anime.

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure



The idea of a proper TV version of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure for years was something that I could only hope for, but new better to expect. The manga it's based on is something I considered "too weird to animate". A few years later and here I am anticipating news on the adaptation of the 4th story arc of the franchise and couldn't be happier. This is a series that shits more style and imagination then you'll ever find in most other shounen anime. Seriously, how can anyone come up with this? The vampire squirrel? Caesar and Wham’s rematch? A Nazi dude blowing himself up to try to kill a super vampire and coming back as a cyborg to try to kill another super-vampire? Pretty much everything Joseph Joestar does? It’s ridiculous! And it all just worked, even on the 1st season's paltry budget. Jojo's is here to entertain and it'll do whatever it can to meet those expectations. It is the id of the coolest, most ADD-addled twelve-year-old boys smashing action figures together and letting their imagination run wild. This is a grand celebration of campy absurdity, and all you non-curmudgeons who don't demand intelligence and coherence from everything are invited.

Kino's Journey



This is how to provide unique outlooks on life whilst not being overly preachy or dull. The reason why Kino's Journey works is because the goal here is never to try and offer simple solutions. The path towards a greater understanding of people is one full of gray territory, and sometimes the best we can do is simply observe and move on. It's not about accepting our powerlessness, or trying to save humanity so much as it is about Kino bouncing about in-between these two extremes, and because of this Kino's Journey is capable of drawing out a wide range of emotions most anime can only dream of doing.

Kyousogiga



This is the story of a supernatural family who came apart and the girl who tried to fix it by smacking shit with her hammer. Being both another take on "Alice in Wonderland" and a showcasing of Japanese art, Kyousougiga is the kind of experimental show that showed off the talents of the debuting genius Rie Matsumoto damn well. The structure of everything Kyousogiga is rather bizarre, initially beginning as a set of ONAs that threw plenty of characters, explosions, and colors without even a whiff of context to tie it all together. Then came the 1st half of the TV anime that mirrored the events of the ONAs, but in a more revealing and coherent fashion, followed by the latter half that delivers more punches straight into the emotions and raw energy and leaves us off with a well thought out and satisfying conclusion. With all the poignant family drama, memorable side characters and an infectiously fun heroine, Kyousogiga has something for everyone who enjoys seeing drawings brought to life (figuratively and literally)

And here's the rest (which will receive descriptions in a future update)

Mugen no Ryvius
Mushishi
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Paranoia Agent
Perfect Blue
Princess Tutu
Revolutionary Girl Utena
Samurai Flamenco
SDF Macross
Shinsekai Yori
Shirobako
Slam Dunk
Soul Eater
Soredemo Machi wa Mawaitteiru
Tantei Opera Milky Holmes
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
The Tatami Galaxy
Texhnolyze
Welcome to the NHK
Zegapain
Posted by gedata | Oct 13, 2015 12:21 PM | 2 comments