12 of 12 episodes seen
As I said, though, I watched the first episode on Netflix (which has only dubbed anime) and enjoyed it well enough; I liked the character designs, the voice acting was alright for a dub (except Lisa whom I wanted to throttle after 3 lines) and it seemed like it could develop into a decent story, so I decided to continue. However, fate intervened, and I was unable to get to netflix the next time I wanted to watch, so I looked it up online and found the original--and OH GEEZ was it good comparatively. Especially the voice acting:
Sound: 10 AMAZING
When the obnoxious girl from the English dub was replaced by Toyosaki Aki going to the original after one episode, I nearly exploded with joy (she is my personal favorite Japanese voice actress). Besides that, Luke was now voiced by Okamoto, Nobuhiko (whom I recognized, having just finished watching To aru Majutsu no Index). So I will not deny that my love for the voicing and music are indeed partially due to the sub-par dub counterparts I was originally exposed to. Even so, the voice acting is incredibly strong in this series, from the entire cast. The theme song took a few episodes to grow on me, but it certainly did, and it is now one of my favorite anime themes. Toyosaki Aki singing the ending theme won me over after the first 3 lines.
Story: 7 Good
The story does fall into a few stereotypes and uses a few stock characters, but they're not too distracting and the rest of the story has some interesting ideas to it. The idea of the object/not-quite human character struggling with questions of their existence is nothing new (Data from star trek, even Hatsune Miku in the song "The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku" explore similar issues) but the story offers enough of a twist on this admittedly cliche but interesting plot point to make it acceptable.
Art: 7 Good
Not too much to say here, the art wasn't super amazing but it was by no means bad, and each of the characters were distinct and memorable.
Character: 9 Great
This mixes with what I said about the story--which is partly because most of the story is exploring the characters and their pasts. All of the protagonists, and even some of the minor characters, are developed surprisingly well and enjoyably, especially Lisa. (I won't go into detail there to avoid spoilers)
Enjoyment: 8 Very Good
This would have been a 9. It was almost a 10 actually, until the end. I won't give away WHY but the ending was....infuriating. I found out why later--the series, like many anime, is based off a light novel series, and of course the anime finished before the books did, and so the anime writers had to slap together an ending. There are some times where this is successful, at least to a point, but this NOT one of them. Little is resolved, the final battle is frankly STUPID and the ending left me sitting there saying "what, THAT''S HOW IT ENDS?!?!?!" I still enjoyed the rest of the series, but such an awful ending could not let me leave it with a perfect score.
Despite the atrocious ending, this anime is still more than worthwhile I think. I thoroughly enjoyed following the growth of the characters, and as I said, the amazing voice acting. Though there is little hope, as this wasn't the most popular anime, I do wish they would make another season to give it a respectable ending, but nonetheless I do not regret seeing this anime, and still would recommend it to anyone.
8 of ? chapters read
Takamoto Chikahito is probably one of the most relatable protagonists I've seen in the manga/anime world for one reason--when you're confused, so is he. I remember reading chapter one when Sakura, Tachibana and Hana appear and random stuff just starts exploding and thinking to myself "What's going on?!" and turning the page and to find Chikahito saying "What's going on?!" Glad to know we're on the same page....
That said this manga has a habit of throwing a lot of info at you and then going back and explaining itself. However, a lot of that is due to my (and I'd wager most Western readers') lack of knowledge of Japanese history. Much of the story and characters are intertwined with what I guess is common knowledge history in Japan--but the rest of us are left flipping to the back of the volume looking for translator notes to explain what we're reading about.
Now many would say that is a serious drawback to the series, but personally I found it fun. I liked learning more of a subject I was completely unaware of. With a patient read, the translation notes DO bring everything into light and the story makes sense. This isn't a straightforward story--it takes a bit of effort on the reader's part, but it's by no means incomprehensible.
The characters main characters are rather enjoyable. The three "strange people" our hero, Chikahito, meets have very distinct and dynamic personalities, and I enjoyed how in depth they got in just two volumes. Hana is especially fun just becuase of the stark contrast between her wants-noodles mode and her serious mode (one being excessively adorable and the other being downright beautiful).
Which brings me to the art. This is the first thing I've ever read of Clamp's, and when I picked it up my friends all told me how amazing it was sure to be "because Clamp is god"
I see what they meant.
This artwork is AMAZING. At several points per chapter I literally just stopped and stared in awe at the page wondering "how do they do that....it's not fair..." The characters are all incredibly detailed, and as I mentioned above, Hana is simply stunning. The only drawback is perhaps the lack of clarity during the fights--it's sometimes hard to tell exactly what happened in each panel, but even that hardly takes away form the literally breathtaking visuals this manga has to offer.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this manga so far, and I cannot WAIT until July for volume 3 to come out in the US (I refuse to read this online--this art demands that it be seen in person). read more
4 of 8 episodes seen
True, it does seem rather detached from the original OVA (and by that I mean that the plots are unrelated, seemingly. It is the same characters and setting but it would seem that what happened in the OVA did not happen in the world the anime version lives in), BUT taken as the separate entity it is clearly trying to be, I think this anime has a lot of promise.
It follows the same style of first events in "the real world" followed with BRS in the other world doing seemingly unrelated things. What I think some people don't realize (in this or the original OVA) that left them so annoyed and confused is that the "other world" is a metaphor for what happens to Mato n company in the real world. (small spoiler alert) Their "counselor", Saya, even mentions that Mato's "dreams" could be "what couldn't be put into words". Simply put, BRS's storyline is a dramatic, really aesthetically intense metaphor for the normal events of the story.
That is why I think many people have such problems with this show and it's original--it takes a lot of thought just to understand it. It's not something that's just plain on the screen, a few explosions and a boss theme and some likable characters and you're done (though it does have those, it has a lot more).
I see this anime as a work of art--not just because the obvious fact htat it's drawn, but the way the story is, is just straight up different. It leaves things open to interpretation, lets (or makes) us as fans use our brains, formulate our own opinions. It's abstract--but still tied into the familiar anime setting to not COMPLETELY throw us under the bus.
That rant aside, I won't try to claim this is on par with the original. The animation is a bit of a downgrade, the background score is not nearly as well worked in. Frankly, the original is one of my favorite parts of the entire anime genre, and this is not the same level as it was. BUT, just because it is not "OMFG AMAZING" doesn't mean it's bad. It's still really good and, as I said, It's early--let's just give this one some time. I personally think it's doing quite well and can (and with luck, will) continue to do well and improve itself. read more