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Jun 24, 2012
First experiences with things are potentially revealing things. There's plenty of kid's shows I saw when I was young that technically were anime, English dubbing notwithstanding, but there's a difference between that and sitting down to something knowing it's a Japanese cartoon and it's not intended for kids. My first one of those, and thus the first thing I saw that was anime which I actually knew was anime was Orguss 2; I was fifteen and it was a hot afternoon in my friend's mess-strewn loft. I had no idea I'd still be thinking about what happened there sixteen years later. read more
Jul 20, 2010
Simoun (Anime) add (All reviews)
Watching Simoun seems like an exercise in how to discover and enjoy the latent sadist in yourself. You know that bit in the Shawshank Redemption where the old lags are betting on which of the new inmates will break down first, and the way Morgan Freeman says it, you totally get what he's talking about, even though you know it's horrible behaviour? This is kind of like that, but with gigantic eyes, inexplicably revealing pastel uniforms, unbelievably daft mecha and technicolour hair.

To explain (and there will be spoilers throughout this review, just so you know): we have this premise - read more
Jul 12, 2010
I started Soul Eater feeling fairly ambivalent, thinking that it would disappoint eventually and it was simply a matter of time. Real life got in the way for a bit, but I amassed a backlog, got a kendo injury and while immobile, I decided this was the time to catch up. That was a hell of a good marathon; in fact it's literally years since I was so gripped by anything and now I've finally cleared the decks and finished it, I am unusually satisfied.

I can't help comparing Soul Eater to Bleach on some level. Cards on the table: I lost almost read more
Dec 15, 2009
Sometimes, in watching something excellent, you can see the way a whole studio has come together in realising a shared creative vision. Other times, what you see is something like Allison and Lillia, where you can see where various components of the production want to go off in different directions and it seems like only the director is the one making them all stay mostly within the same series, with the upshot that the series has very little idea what it actually is.

For starters, there's a remarkably gentle surface philosophy behind the story. Enough information already exists about the setting and so on, read more
Nov 19, 2008
Juuni Kokuki

If an anime is cancelled before it finishes, can you still hold its lack of completeness against it? This is a question that I am groping for an answer for. The thing is, I can see a huge spread of problems with Juuni Kokuki but I can also see some real plus points too. For a series in which a character says “half of life is hardship, the other half happiness”, it certainly lives by its word.

An oft-repeated phrase when you look at any halfway decent review of this series is ‘character development’, and to a certain extent this is read more
Oct 23, 2008
Giant Robo OVA 20.10.08

Fanfiction is not something I ever got into. I did try it, but the ratio of dross to quality was far too high, and even when you find something that is well written, it's almost never created in the spirit of the original; another person's vision and ideal has inevitably crept in and improved/tweaked/changed/adulterated/spoiled/messed up/ruined it - circle your preferred response.

Giant Robo OVA is, when you come right down to it, fanfiction. If I read wikipedia right, all that remains of Mitsuteru Yokoyama's original Giant Robo is Robo itself and its operator, Daisaku. Cropped from Yokoyama's highly read more
Nov 22, 2007
I'm never that comfortable with films of series. Mostly, that's because all too often a film of a series consists of some kind of edited-all-to-hell clip show that tries and totally fails to boil down the story of a long series to a relatively much shorter film. Knockin' on Heaven's Door isn't that, which is very much in its favour. Rather, it's basically like a two-hour "lost episode" that belongs somewhere in the middle of the series - without spoiling anything, by the end of the series, there's characters missing who are still present in this film.

Another point in the film's favour read more
Sep 27, 2007
Now and again, I find I'm being asked why I like anime, and what's so special about it. One answer you hear given quite often to questions like this is "it's not just for kids, anime is for grownups too". I used to say this too, but in the case of much of what's out there, after much thought I realised that's not really accurate. Sure, there's anime out there that's full of sex and/or death and/or 'mature themes', and a lot of things that are more complex than children are thought to be able to deal with, but not much anime, read more
Aug 20, 2007
This is absolutely typical. Oooh, I thought, something about a post-war relief squad. That has some real potential, it's original, good setting, chance for some great stories, those shots look nice, and - Oh nuts, it's Gonzo.

Studio Gonzo have this amazing effect; I suspect they have some kind of quota system in effect. For each really good thing they put out, there seem to be a bunch of things about which you end up thinking "if only they'd just done that differently, that could've been so much better...". Every excellent series like Bokurano that they put out is outnumbered by flawed read more
Aug 16, 2007
Noir (Anime) add (All reviews)
There are a handful of things that truly stand out from their peers. Sometimes, just occasionally, a series manages to do everything perfectly, pull together all the strands that things before and since have tried and failed to do. Fullmetal Alchemist is one example from the fantasy field; Ghost in the Shell another among postcyberpunk sci-fi; Azumanga Daioh an example from slice-of-life comedy. And, among the fairly niche girls-with-guns proto-genre, Noir is another.

Noir isn't remarkable in its premise, in fact it's quite a patchwork of worn ideas; an amnesiac who is unsure whether her amazing combat abilities or complete lack of remorse read more