1 (edited by Ottens 2011-01-18 12:15)

Topic: Anime review thread

Starting last year I put together a list of anime to watch, but I haven't really started writing reviews until this last summer.  I'm going to post them on a daily basis in more or less alphabetical order.

I haven't really gotten around to writing reviews for some of my favorites, but I hope to some day.  In any case, here's a list of my favorites that I would recommend:

- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
- Ergo Proxy
- Cowboy Bebop
- Last Exile
- Black Lagoon
- Elfen Lied
- Outlaw Star
- Canaan
- Chiko, Heiress of the Phantom Thief
- Tide-Line Blue
- Yukikaze
- Desert Punk
- The Irresponsible Captain Tyler
- Coyote Ragtime Show
- Golden Boy

Some of these are sci-fi, some are action, some are comedy, and some are a mix of those.

Anyway, how about I start posting reviews? 

(13 episode series)

As you might guess from the title, this is basically the Japanese version of James Bond, naturally featuring mostly female spies.  Set in a fictional future where the Cold War never ended, countries have single letter names, and the cybernetic implantation of firearms into one's body isn't all that uncommon, really all this anime has going for it is the amusement factor.  Heavy on fan service without any real actual nudity, this show manages to give new meaning to the phrase "killer set of tits", as the main character isn't the only woman who has either machine guns or lasers for nipples, which apparently come standard issue for female spies in the future.  The male agents apparently pack, too, though in a different part of their anatomy.

The series itself is very episodic in nature, with the only real character development being the title character moving away from being an unquestioning spy into being more of an independent operator.  The series does play a bit with morality as far as the main character's role in this cold war, as well as some romance with a character who's a spy for the other side, but in my opinion it never was very serious.  Basically it's about a chick with guns in her tits having action-filled adventure in each episode and that's about it, which earns it a 4/10.


Re: Anime review thread

Oh I love Cowboy Bebop!  Other animes I really like are Hellsing Ultimate (way better than normal Hellsing, which is also cool), Read or Die, Queen Emeraldas and Vampire Hunter D smile


Re: Anime review thread

Haven't written any reviews for those yet, or even seen them yet in some cases.  Anyway, next up:

A Wind Named Amnesia
(1990 movie)

Of the post-apocalyptic variety, this movie tries to ask questions, but in the end only rhetorically. 

Basically humanity has reverted to something like cavemen, having lost its civilization along with its memories, which all disappeared on day thanks to a mysterious wind that swept over the entire planet.  Fortunately, all the neat toys the military had been playing around with were left behind, one of which was a convenient teaching tool that allowed the main character to relearn how to be human, if not his own actual past.  He's taken on the impossible task of restoring humanity to its former self, but really all he can do is drive around in a jeep and help a few people as he comes across them.  Along the way he meets a strange woman who also seems to be a normal, civilized human, except for the fact that she seems to know an awful lot about what's going on in any given situation.

In a way this almost would have done better as a series, but it probably wouldn't have been a very good series either.  I found it just interesting enough to keep watching, though amusement with the Japanese interpretation of the United States (the movie took place entirely there) helped keep me watching, too.  In the end it really didn't pay off.  As I'd suspected early on due to some really obvious foreshadowing, the mysterious woman was in fact an alien, and the wind was caused by these aliens, who took it upon themselves to punish humanity or something like that.  I never really understood the reasons, but the message in the end was the standard issue "humanity is growing too fast and too out of harmony with Earth" variety.  So really there was nothing special about this movie.  The main character didn't even act upset at all at this revelation, and instead had some good-bye sex with the alien chick before she left him in the ruins of his civilization, neither of them really having accomplished anything toward the goal stated in the beginning of the movie, which earns it a 2/10.


Re: Anime review thread

Cowboy Bebop is a classic. I quite liked the same directors (whose name escapes me at the moment) Samurai Champloo. It had the same odd but functioning blend of of-the-wall comedy and dead seriousness. I would also recommend Last Exile for any steampunk fan, even those who normally don't watch anime.

You will never come up against a greater adversary than your own potential


Re: Anime review thread

Castle in the Sky seems like another one that would fit into steampunk or dieselpunk.  Ergo Proxy uses a kind of art deco style that steampunk fans might find somewhat appealing.  It's also something non-anime fans might find appealing as long as they're into sci-fi.

Anyway, nest up:

Ah! (or Oh) My Goddess!
(50 episode series)

Yeah, I know there are movies and other versions to go along with this series, but really I'm a little embarrassed that I watched this series in full as it is.  It was actually one of the first when I started watching everything basically alphabetically on my huge "to watch" list, and for some reason, I actually did watch this angst-fest beginning to end.  On the other hand, if I hadn't, I actually would have missed a few interesting stories.

What I'm referring to has more to do with stories involving the Motor Club within the series that the main character, Keiichi, was involved in.  One of them was actually a ghost story, and it's actually my favorite of the stories I found somewhat interesting.  It actually managed to tug on what's left of my heart strings a little, mainly because it involved a sick young woman who died before someone could fulfill a promise to her, which in this case was just something as simple as a motorcycle ride.  So basically she ended up haunting the property she died at until someone else could come along, fix the now classic motorcycle and give her a ride around the nearby lake.  I also have to admit that I liked how the writers pointed out that love comes in many forms, even in the form of someone taking care of their old cars/electronics/etc.

Belldandy, the title goddess, really was too sweet that way.  And really she was just too impossibly sweet.  A "harem" anime, we got to meet her sisters too, but while they were anything but sweet, I wouldn't call them all that interesting either.  That could be because I found most of this series either boring or really frustrating.  The two main characters are basically living together as a couple from the very beginning, but the male lead was horribly immature and the female lead wasn't much better.  It was completely obvious that the two of them cared a great deal for each other, and yet the vast majority of what happened revolved around the other one trying to show their love to the other or still trying to determine if the other loves them, no matter how many times they show or outright say that they do to each other.  No, really, right up to the last episode.

I guess if you like angst (I'm looking at you TnT 'shippers – you know who you are), this might actually be the thing for you.  Otherwise, not much to see here, and if you were only interested in the stories I was talking about being interested in, I'd be happy to look up the episodes for you and list them.  It's for those that I'm even bothering to throw this series any kind of a bone, scoring it 1/10.


Re: Anime review thread

(1988 movie, new dub)

So this is the famous movie that is credited with making anime cool here in the US?  Well, it's not bad, but it's not really as awesome as I was hoping it would be.  I'm not even sure what the point was supposed to be, aside from the standard "science gone wrong".  The movie itself is set in the future, after a nuclear WWIII that apparently started with an explosion going off in Tokyo.  Well Neo-Tokyo has been built in the crater, with the old part of the city surrounding it pretty much in ruins.  It's easy to see why this movie is classed as cyber-punk, which can pretty much be summed up as "high tech, low life".

The main characters themselves aren't exactly good guys, most of them belonging to a motorcycle gang which regularly goes out and battles another motorcycle gang called The Clowns.  That is, all until a fateful meeting with a little kid that looks like he has that freakish rapid-aging disease.  Turns out the kid is special, and not in a back of the short bus way, as he uses some kind of a mind force-field to keep from getting run over by Tetsuo, basically the secondary main character of the film.  Why the freakishly old kid didn't use his mind force field earlier to protect himself and the communist revolutionary who rescued him from the secret military lab he was being kept at is never really made clear, or addressed even.

Oh, yeah, Japan is apparently in the throes of a recession which has resulted in massive civil unrest and a practically fascist police state to deal with it.  Naturally where there are fascists, there are communists to fight them ... well, they never really identify as communists, but let's just say I had the feeling.  In any case, the movie never really delves into any of this all that deeply, instead focusing on the main storyline of Kaneda, the film's main character, and his exploits in trying to find and rescue his friend Tetsuo from the military (with a little commie tail-chasing on the side).  It seems Tetsuo is suffering some rather odd side-effects from the mind force field, which is why the military and its scientists have taken an interest in him.  It seems he remind them of another really powerful psychic kid they experimented on named Akira, who has become a messianic figure to a large portion of the anarchist types who make up most of the mobs seen in the movie being oppressed by the police.

This brings up one of the secondary characters, a JSDF Lieutenant Colonel.  He's hard to put a finger on, mostly because at times he's a complete bastard, and at other times the movie basically makes him out to be justified for being a complete bastard, who occasionally has a heart.  He's the one in charge of the military's research into these telekinetic kids, and it's more than hinted at that Akira caused what appeared to be a nuclear detonation at the beginning of the film.  Naturally, the colonel doesn't want this to happen again, and he's determined to kill Tetsuo should he get out of hand, which is naturally exactly what happens.

Akira is an okay film, and is kind of cool.  There is a lot of awesomeness, especially as Tetsuo grows out of control, but it isn't really an awesome movie.  The storyline is at times hard to follow, and there's a connection between some government officials and the communist revolutionaries that is never really explained, and really has nothing at all to do with the main plot as far as I could tell.  That being said, this movie is still worth a watch, and scores a 7/10.


Re: Anime review thread

Area 88
(12 episode series)

I tried to get into this series, but there really wasn't much there for me aside from cool warplanes and cool air-to-air combat. 

It takes place in a generic middle-east country which is undergoing a civil war, with the government having hired on a mercenary force of combat pilots to aid their side against the rebels.  The concept of mercenary jet fighter pilots never really makes much sense to me, and what makes even less sense is that the mercenary force itself is like the French Foreign Legion of old, which kidnapped people and pressed them into service.  Well, technically everyone signs up for a stint of service, but they're still treated like slaves in the sense that they can't leave the super-secret base they are stationed at unless they serve their full contractual stint, or they buy their way out of it with the money they earn from their kills.

While the series' main character is in fact a reporter who is there for reasons not made entirely clear until later, the character being focused on is a blonde-haired Japanese pilot who flies an F-5.  He's your basic moody type yearning for home and the one he left behind.  Considering he got screwed over by his friend and shanghaied into service that would normally make him pretty sympathetic as a character, but unfortunately this is ruined by the aforementioned moodiness, which fails completely at making him mysterious or even really interesting for that matter.  Ironically the reporter/photographer is more interesting as he develops from the typical snooty press type into someone who's sympathetic towards the pilots at this base.  He ends up having second thoughts about his job, and actually ends up quitting it, which makes it that much worse that he gets the tar beat out of him by the pilots and is almost killed by them when they find out what he was originally sent there to do in typical kill the messenger style.

Well, fear not, all turns out "right" in the end as far as the main pilot's girl deciding to not marry the douche that betrayed him and had him shanghaied, and the fact he's completely forgiven for trying to run, but he still has to serve out his time and do exactly what he's been lamenting he hates doing by shooting down and killing other human beings, which is what's made him such a moody bastard.  I guess if you like the eye candy, this series might be worth the time to watch, but there isn't much of a story that's worth watching.  4/10.


Re: Anime review thread

I agreed with concerning Area 88. While it has nice eyecandy and a couple of interesting supporting characters, most of which unfortunately end up underdeveloped, fact remains that the story drags along. This is just not the fact that the main character is wholly uninteresting but personally I thought the series really could have benefited from paying more attention to the overall story rather then trying to serve bitpieces of relatively unrelated fight sequences.

You will never come up against a greater adversary than your own potential


Re: Anime review thread

Yup.  The series doesn't really bother with much beyond the bare minimum to get various places up in the air to have them fight with each other. 

Next up:

Argento Soma
(25 episode series)

This is a classic example of an anime that takes too long to get to the point.  While I understand and like the idea of meeting characters and getting to know them as they develop, there's something to be said for keeping the plot moving at a steady pace, which this series doesn't until the last few episodes.  What's worse is that from the beginning of the series, you're teased by an image in the end credits that doesn't become significant until the last half of the series when the big mystery is finally solved and the series finally gets to the point.

Superficially this series reminds me of what I've read about Neon Genesis Evangelion, at least in the sense that giant alien robots dubbed "angels" have been randomly descending from the heavens and wreaking havoc on humanity.  In fact, New York City, the place they first landed, had been completely destroyed and left abandoned.  Giant mechas also seem to be humanity's only hope, but that seems to be where the similarities end.  There are no children piloting these things, the aliens all seem to be setting down in North America and heading towards a "pilgrimage point" which is just north of the North Dakota border in Canada.  This is the big mystery of the series, as well as the origin and purpose of the very different looking giant robot dubbed "Frank" (short for Frankenstein).  All is eventually answered late in the series, but the pace getting there is what makes it frustrating, because really the series probably could have gotten there in about half the time it did.

I guess the main storyline itself revolves around the character whose false identity the series is named after and his struggle to find out what his girlfriend was doing experimenting with this mad scientist type on Frank, and what the military has to do with what happened.  He's basically made a spy by a person whose identity we don't learn until almost the end of the series in order to infiltrate the FUNERAL organization, which is charged with the defense of Earth against the alien robots.  Hilariously, it's headquartered in Minnesota on the edge of Lake Superior.  In any case, the military is butthurt over what it sees as someone invading its turf, and there is a power struggle which results.  Also hilarious is that while this is set in 21st century America, it's seen as somehow special that a woman is in charge of Funeral, despite female commanding officers being not all that uncommon even now.  In fact the only thing women are restricted from doing is actively engaging in combat, which is something you see in a lot of anime.  The misogyny is very open and frequent, and it all comes off as a hammer-to-the-head message against it.  This is probably because it's from Japan, where misogyny is pretty common.

I guess I found it interesting enough to keep watching, and I don't really regret watching it exactly, but it was very frustrating to have the story crawl along at a snail's pace for about the first half.  The main character is also something of a whiny misogynistic bastard, which also affects the watchability of the series since it's hard to really sympathize with him.  It might be worth a watch, but it's also a bit of a waste of time, earning it a 6/10.


Re: Anime review thread

Armitage III
(4 episode OVA)

This OVA is mostly good.  It's hard to put it any other way, because while it has its interesting points, there are also a lot of clichés which tend to annoy me.

Taking place on Mars, which has been terraformed successfully at some point in the future, the main plot focuses on the murder of several people who turn out to in fact be robots.  While human-like robots are quite commonplace and actually the source of contention on Mars over labor rights, these robots are special because they are so human-like in personality as well as appearance, so much so that if they hadn't been killed, no one would have known any differently.  In fact, it's at first expected that people have been replaced by the robots, since most of them have been famous musicians, artists, writers and the like.  Of course the only one to care that robots are being killed is Officer Naomi Armitage, the fan servicy partner of the real main character, Ross Syllibus, who is actually a recent transfer.  The somewhat annoying part is that she only feels that way because as it turns out, she's actually one of them.

Like pretty much every sci-fi to feature androids, this OVA somewhat awkwardly deals with the question of if artificial life can really be considered that much different from humans themselves, especially since they look and act human (and most of them happen to be attractive women).

That being said, Naomi herself is probably the most annoying aspect of the show, since in the beginning she tends to behave inappropriately, like gushing over how attractive her new male partner is while he's hunched over what they both initially think is a human murder victim, and later on she basically goes off on her own, abandoning her partner, even though it's clear by this point that Ross sympathizes and supports her.  In fact they end up falling in love and going on the run together by the end of the show.  I guess having her go off on her own was supposed to be dramatic, but it ended up just being annoying, at least to me.

Overall this is a pretty good show, interesting to watch, and with some amusing reminders of when it was made.  I would recommend this anime, though I don't think I can score it any higher than 7/10.

Armitage III: Poly-Matrix
(2000 movie)

This is a compilation movie made from the original OVA.  Most of it is exactly the same, though some cuts were made to save time, and some bits were added to help make things make a little more sense, which it mostly succeeds at.  It also features Kiefer "Jack Bower" Sutherland as the voice of the main character, Ross Syllibus, and Elizabeth Berkley as the voice of the title character, Naomi Armitage.

While this isn't as bad as some other compilation movies I've seen, most of its strengths come from the additional scenes which would have actually added more to the OVA.  That being said, I don't really feel they make up for the storylines that were cut, and I still prefer the original OVA.  It's not horrible, but not really worth the watch unless you want to see the additional scenes I'm referring to, and only after you've seen the OVA.  5/10.