Archive for Anime Reviews

Nerawareta Gakuen

Nerawareta Gakuen

Can’t get more straightforward than that

An anime adaptation based on an old sci-fi novel that’s been made into drama and movies in the past before, Nerawareta Gakuen is about a school being threatened by a mysterious psychic whose aim is to control the school through the student council. Or so it says, but actually it focuses more on the main quartet of the story.

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Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo

Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo

Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo is the latest work in 4 years by Makoto Shinkai, who has been keeping a low profile until this popped up. As a fan of his after watching Byousoku 5cm, I was really hoping for a lot from this work. Unfortunately, I do seem to have misjudged things a little.

I’ll have to make a confession at first, I have never really watched any Ghibli movie except for Spirited Away, therefore unfortunately I will not be making snarky comparisons of the show with Princess Mononoke/Totoro/Porco Rosso/whatever else etc etc. from Ghibli. But I will have to say, this show has a really strong fantasy feel that evokes a feeling similar to what fans of the Ghibli series feel when they watch those for their first time. I really should look in to doing that one of these days myself.

Ok, back to the movie. Firstly, it’s very pretty. Comparing it to Byousoku’s BD release, I can say that having the production done entirely for HD really does bring out all the awesomeness of Shinkai’s obsession with backgrounds. Every frame is literally pretty, background wise, and not in a way that makes you think “oh this must be traced from photos” too. Rather, there is a very genuine feeling that this is straight from Shinkai’s ideal inner world. One where he literally weaves out his stories’ settings, as if he’s been living there his whole life and he’s tracing them from memory.

However, the other aspects of the movie don’t really fall up to standards with his settings. Character-wise, I did not really get attached to anyone in the movie and there was generally a sense that they are just there to give a half-hearted purpose to the movie. It’s just that they are there to play a very generically structured role. I was expecting a bit more from Morisaki-sensei, but in the end, even he didn’t pan out. At least the action scenes, when they happened, was properly animated.

Thematically, the series was supposed to talk about farewells and how hard it can be to accept them when the time comes, but in the end, I really did not feel it played much of a role in the story as well. Unlike in Byousoku 5cm, where the simple story brought out the theme of “distance” so effectively, the story this time did not manage to do so, as cluttered as it was. Didn’t help there was many incongruous elements thrown in, like the sudden references to Nazi invasions and Hitler (lol), which just served to explain a little about the world setting, but ended up actually raising more questions about it instead. It’s a shame really.

Overall, I’d say that this was a decently made movie, but don’t expect it to linger in your consciousness afterwards. This is a very well-produced movie, but unfortunately, where it counts, the creativity was spent more on the technical aspects instead of the places where it counts, like the story, themes and characters. Just like a Hollywood summer blockbuster, actually.

tl;dr: everything is pretty but story didn’t impress.

Liked: So-so
Rewatch: Possibly, when bored.

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Summer Wars Impressions.

Summer Wars

You know, I actually watched the shitty Korean-raw+overlaid subs before, but I really didn’t think that gave me the proper experience to talk about the show until now that the Blu-Rays are out. Finally managed to catch the movie is its proper glory and I must say…. Summer Wars is a movie that gets better with a rewatch than just judging it from one go.

Of course, like DarkMirage, the whole subplot involving the virtual world of OZ and Hollywood Hacking is definitely not the high point of the movie nor is the subject of the movie itself. Summer Wars is all about family and the unbreakable bonds between its members, no matter how badly one can become, family will always there to be behind you.

(spoilers inbound after the jump)

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Starship Operators

Thanks to zaitcev, I finally watched and finished Starship Operators. I did remember watching the first episode when it first aired but I got turned off by the idea of selling broadcasting rights so I never did follow up. When zaitcev mentioned it, I was bored and I remember having the DVD versions, so I took them out and watched.

Surprisingly, it was good and felt real enough to feel that the kids were being thrown in to a hopeless situation at the behest of some rather idealistic or unscrupulous people for their own ends, and it is kept that way until the end, despite some rather unfavourable odds stacked up.

One of the characters I quite liked was the producer, Peter, who might be seen as a selfish person intent of using the kids as much as he can but he redeems himself just right enough at the series end to make me actually feel sad for him.

Seiyuu performances in the show are good, with a mix of recognizable names and unknowns. Itou Shizuka does well at her part but it feels cookie-cutter rather than unique. Perhaps because I am too used to hearing her as Hinagiku. Ayako Kawasumi and Noto Mamiko felt a bit underutilized, but understandable given the number of characters.

Overall, it feels like an incomplete series though, as the end is rather ambigiously done. It would have probably fared better if they animated the rest of the novels which deal with the crew’s fate afterwards, from what I heard. In any case, it’s not a bad show and well worth watching for fans of space political drama.

Liked: Yes.
Rewatch: If they produce a second season.

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Romeo X Juliet Afterthoughts

Romeo X Juliet

Somehow, despite a ton of things I could’ve done, I went to marathon Gonzo’s Romeo x Juliet. Sigh….

Laments on delayed work aside, it’s an okay show by Gonzo. Sadly, it’s not as epic as I expected from it. It’s good enough to keep me watching on, but yet, it lacks a certain “X Factor” to it that makes it memorable as a show.

I guess… it would be the disappointing way they ended the show, with the random plot of the Escalus tree thrown in and all. While Romeo did his best to save Juliet, it was… disheartening of me to see that he got killed, then Juliet followed his path too. Yeah, I know it’s supposed to be like that in the original… but I guess I got too attached to both of them. Well, in a way, they did get together in the end… T_T. BTW, am I the only one who feels like it’s too much similar to Last Exile? Only in a rather bad way though.

Another factor that triggers my dislike is the overarching plot of Juliet to take revenge on the Montagues, egged on by her guardians. It was also rather messily done too, with a bloodless rebellion in the end. Just… didn’t have that “epic” feel I was hoping for. Plus I really didn’t agree with her being forced on the responsibility too.

Well, there are also good things about the show. While the romance part was definitely sappy, I didn’t dislike it. Somehow along the show, I got attached to both Romeo and Juliet, and I guess it is perhaps the most redeeming factor of the show. Well, I guess this is already quite clear from my earlier statements.

Another thing is Lena Park’s theme song, Inori – You Raise Me Up. It’s definitely an awesome song, which fits in to the theme of the show way more than the show did, for me. A slow, simple and uplifting theme song that really touches the soul. I’d probably remember this song far longer than the series.

In conclusion… Romeo x Juliet is an okay show, but it didn’t live up to my expectations. Still, it had a good cast of characters in it, but the way they developed the story could’ve done better. It does have an awesomely memorable theme song for it though.

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Inukami!

Inukami!

Inukami wins, seriously. Don’t listen to all those shortsighted people who claim that it’s nakkid men anime, there’s more to it than that,really. A story of love, friendship, blood, sweat and tears awaits as well. Oh, don’t forget the elephants too!

That being said, Inukami! is such a refreshingly entertaining comedy anime, I’m regretting dismissing it when it was being aired. The jokes are unrestrainedly over-the-top and I really bust a gut or two laughing like hell while watching Inukami!, mostly at the expense of poor Keita. Probably what I like about Inukami is that their jokes are not just restricted to the females, but the males get their fair share of the short end of the stick as well. Many a times, I was really going to laugh and barf at the same time with some of the antics they pull off. Best was probably episode 18′s infamous ending, which really needs to be watched to be believed. Ironic since my interest in Inukami! peaked when I took a liking towards Yuujou Monogatari, the series’ ED.

Keita is also probably one of the best male characters I’ve seen in a while, mostly due to his antics, and well, luck with girls as well. It’s really god damned funny to see him go all out trying to attract the girls but in the end, he attracts more perverts than females XD. I do share his concerns about bringing forward his relationship with Youko though, the prospects are kinda mortifying LOLOLOLOL. Still, the poor chap is just plain likable and I really wouldn’t mind having a friend like him around, it’d be fun everyday just enjoying at his antics.

Seriously, don’t look down on Inukami!. It’s a show that needs to be watched before judging it. It’s probably one of the better ecchi comedy anime in recent times, and I’m even ranking it just behind the legendary FMP?:Fumoffu in terms of eliciting all-out gut-busting laughter. Be a bit more open-minded and give it a try, now that Mendoi-KAA-SHS have completed releasing the subbed DVDrips.

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Koi Kaze

Koi Kaze

Sinfully cute.

… is not bad at all. Thanks to a certain individual (Blame Mike!~~ Blame Mike!~~ *to the tune of “Blame Canada*), I found myself interested in it. In fact it was particularly engaging, even though 95% of the time I was going “OH SHIT! OH SHIT! OH SHIT!”. But don’t worry, I haven’t developed siscon thanks to the Westermarck effect. Besides, Nanoka is too cute to be found in real life. But I can understand… I can understand, if one were to be put in to the same situation as Koshiro was.

Particularly, why I like Koi Kaze is probably how well fleshed out the characters are, especially Koshiro, who bears the brunt of the mental torture of having fallen in love with his own sister. His anguish and reaction to having such forbidden feelings are well brought out. Nanoka, meanwhile, is probably the too-perfect younger sister, being that cute is a sin! Really! Her seiyuu does a very fine job on her… very fine job. Thankfully I’m not Stripey, but Koi Kaze does make imouto-con… well.. likable? Thankfully 99% of the time, imouto-san is non-blood related.

Koi Kaze also has some really amazing side characters, notably Chidori-san. I can easily imagine her as a yakuza/biker gang leader and she really does have the looks and charisma perfectly. But she does have a really caring side to her too and I feel kinda sad for her towards the ending episodes. Koshiro and Nanoka’s mom is also really an awesome mom, I’ll say, but I wonder why she divorced from their father…. perhaps she couldn’t stand his crybaby-ness? :P

Koi Kaze is definitely not for everyone, especially when it deals with such taboo topics like this, but in it’s core, it’s still a very well done series, tackling seriously on its subject matter and theme, which I really admire. The realistic characters also help make it a really good show, but it’s best to be forewarned before watching this series to make sure you don’t have any long separated or missing relatives XD.

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Planetes: The most awesome work of Sunrise this decade

Planetes
(for those of you who recognise this picture, please don’t spoil :P)

Planetes is probably the most awesome work of Sunrise this decade I will recognise (second is probably Zegapain). The whole series is an exploration of humanity as a whole and probably a very accurate representation of what our near-future will be, particularly in the area of space exploration. As one of the main protagonists would put it, the production team definitely put in a lot of “Ai” in to making this series.

On a the technical side, much praise has to be given to the team for actually researching space technology so throughly that an accurate representation of living in space is depicted in the series. Zero-G is Zero-G, spaceships don’t make noise and astronauts wearing diapers are some of the facts that are incoporated in the anime. Even the risks and effects of living in space and low gravity enviroments are factored in and it doesn’t paint a rose-colored picture of the harshness of space and the fact on how humans are very much beings not adapated for space-faring.

Later on, many human issues crop up in the series, involving the disparity between the rich and the poor, the selfishness of the “privaliged” elites, existential angst and the choice between love or persuing one’s dreams crop up and are dealt with in a very human way. What probably makes Planetes able to achieve such feel is the perspective it tells the story, while mostly centered on the few key characters that are considered as powerless individuals, we do see how the petty squables of the “elite” manage to affect their lives in a drastic manner.

I’ll refrain from going on any longer as it’s in contrast with my 500-word guideline already, but suffice to say, Planetes is a series that any fan of the medium should watch and it proves that Sunrise does have the talent amongst them to pull off a very good and enjoyable show.

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Pita Ten

Pita Ten

Tee hee hee. Just finished this little heartwarming series.

It’s been quite a while since I watched this types of show, so I really took my time to finish this. Quite enjoyable and kinda helped me get over the rough times I’m experiencing now.

All the characters are really likable, even Misha-san with her devilish troublemaker thing going on. Shia is the usual perfect mother figure-esque type, with her usually providing the rest with food ( I doubt they’ll survive long without her *bentos* :p). Koboshi-chan is also quite cute too, with her playing the *tsunderekko* of the series, while both Kotaro-kun and Ten-chan are really quite great male characters, heck, I’ve said it before that not even half the people on the Bounty List will be able to match up to them, really. In fact, I’d gladly support them for a future harem master role :P.

The story is basically comedy, with a nice touching ending written in. I was gladly enjoying the antics of the gang, especially the *onsen* episode where poor Kotaro-kun got…. “washed” by Misha-san. Other nice parts are the episodes where Koboshi takes the lead, the hospital ones and the ending episodes as well :). One thing a bit lacking was character development, but it’s pretty fine for a show like Pita Ten.

As for art, it’s quite simple, yet elegant, and somehow old-school in a way, which adds to the enjoyment.Quality was quite consistant throughout, without much deviation, working out to be pretty good.

As for other factors, *seiyuu* power was very much obvious in this series, with Yukari Tamura (Nanoha, Tomari) playing Misha-san pretty well, emphasising on her uniquely nasal voice and also with the “tee hee hee” and “-su” that is Misha’s trademark and is quite stuck in my head. Rie Kugimiya (Shana, Alphonse Elric) plays Koboshi-chan nicely, Yukana (Tessa) fits in well with Shia-chan, and other high-power *seiyuu’s* in other roles, making it a joy to watch.

As for music, Pita Ten has quite a nice soundtrack that fits in perfectly, but does not really take the spotlight away from the show. The OP, sung by Funta, and ED, sung by Miyuki Sawashiro, are quite nice and fits well with the series too.

Overall, a nice show to watch, with a lot of enjoyable factors to it. Pita Ten earns a 8/10 from me.

**Rating:** 8/10

**Ups:**
- Really likable characters.
- Great, clean comedy, suitable for all ages to watch, can be quite a good series to introduce anime.
- Nicely done ending.
- *Seiyuu* power!! Look at all the great names in the cast list ;).

**Downs:**
-Not really much, just lacking in the character development parts a bit.

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2005 – A Lookback in Anime – Fall ’05 and into 2006.

Fall ’05 can be said as one of the best season for this year quite a number of anticipated shows came on. As most of the shows are still unfinished, I’ll not be doing it in the way of the previous posts.

First off, the sequel to last year’s surprise hit Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, Nanoha A’s kickstarted the season. Incidentally, the only Fall ’05 show to have finished, it featured great battle scenes and action normally not seen in *mahou shoujo* shows and managed to gain quite a fanbase, including me. I won’t say much more here, as I’m planning to do a full review later.

Following it was 3 more harem shows, adding into this year’s already big number of harem series’, Canvas2,ToHeart2 and Lamune, all of which I didn’t watch :P.

Occult anime also made it’s mark, as **Jigoku Shoujo** debuted with much apprehension as there have rarely been horror anime recently. **Jigoku Shoujo’s** debut was good but it quickly lost steam after a few episodes and has only started to pick up the pace.

As many people have been saying, light novels are now the new source of anime adaptations, as the moé laden **Shakugan no Shana** debuted and gained a steady fanbase. It was a hit-or-miss show as some didn’t like it’s premise, but quite a lot of people digged the characters.

Fall also saw quite a number of sequels coming, with **Mai Otome**, last year’s popular **Mai HiME**’s “sequel”, and **Rozen Maiden ~träumend~**, sequel of last year’s **Rozen Maiden**, both started their runs and have been going on quite strong, especially for **träumend**.

Some underrated shows were also aired, such as **ARIA** and **Mushishi**, both of which are episodic in nature, yet both are equally good, with **ARIA** providing very relaxing stories, while **Mushishi** explored the mystical and left us thinking at the end of each episode.

Action did not miss out as **Blood+**, **Black Cat** and also **Noein** debuted. All showed much potential, but unfortunately, none has really managed to catch my attention for long :P.I’ll probably rewatch them later, maybe on my upcoming sem break.

As Winter ’05 / ’06 is still in the way, I’ll not be doing another post for it. What I’ve watched so far is **Itsudatte! My Santa**, which I find to be not that good, Gundam SEED Destiny Final Plus and the School Rumble OVA.

Upcoming shows I look forward to include :

1. Fate/stay Night ( which otaku isn’t?)
2. Kashimashi ~Girl Meets Girl~ (Hazumu <3!!)
3. Hantsuki (interesting and potentially very touching, I’m a sucker for this stories).
4. REC
5. Shinigami no Ballad

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