Re: Anime review thread

(50 episode series)

This series is a reboot/reimaging of the original movie, giving us a much more epic and complex story.  This time, all of humanity is at risk, and our only hope is a (seemingly) teenaged girl who is having memory and post traumatic stress issues from something horrible we see her do in the opening of the first episode.

Saya is shown as being a "normal" high school student, and part of an adopted family, but naturally things come along and ruin that for her.  Of course all along, there have are hints that Saya is anything but normal, but it takes an attack from a chiropteran and the return of her chevalier, Haji, to bring out the killing machine that she really is.  She ends up struggling to remember her past and trying to deal with what she is, and while that could be somewhat dramatic, I tend to think it was drawn out and that it tended to happen at times that made it really, really annoying.  In fact, Saya seemed pretty useless for about the first half of the series.

The series also changes a few other things up, like giving Saya a sister named Diva, whose blood is as toxic to Saya and any chiropterans (which chevalier's and even Saya and Diva are also) and vice versa.  In fact, Saya's blood is the only way to kill the bat-like creatures that Red Shield has been fighting for over a century, which was usually complicated by the fact Saya is only active for a few years and goes into hibernation for something like 30 years.  During the series, the complication is that Saya doesn't remember her past and freaks out at the changes that happen to her when she cuts her finger or thumb on her special sword and kills chiropterans.

Actually the connection with blood was done pretty well, not only in making it the only weapon against Diva's chiropterans, but also in the connection between Saya and Diva, and all of the chiropterans.  The series was pretty well done, and kept a fairly good pace, all while teasing us with Saya's past and how the situation with the chiropterans started.  It's pretty messed up, actually, and no one is really clean, so to speak.

I will say, though, that it seems like someone at Production I.G seems to have an anti-US axe to grind.  While it's ironic, seeing as most of the good guys surrounding Saya, including her adoptive father, are all Americans, this series does pretty much everything it can to paint the US military and US government as evil.  There are even a couple characters that turn up to conspire with Diva's faction who very strongly resemble Donald Rumsfeld and Condolisa Rice.  I'm almost surprised Bush didn't get the same treatment, seeing as in some cases the Rumsfeld character was making statements and taking actions which would have been more appropriate for the President anyway.

That aside, the series was pretty good.  It wasn't as good as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, which was also made by Production I.G, but it was still worth the watch.  I'd rate it a 7/10.


Re: Anime review thread

Just as a note, this is actually the first anime review I wrote.

Blue Gender
(26 episode series)

I've actually been thinking about this one quite a bit since I started to watch it, and now that I've finished watching it.  It really isn't anything special per say, and in fact one could call it fairly derivative.  It's a mostly standard issue post-apocalyptic fare, with the protagonist having slept through said apocalypse.  That being said, I actually found it quite watchable and interesting.  Especially in the start of the series, I found myself drawn in and I just had to watch the next episode to find out what happened after what was usually a cliffhanger ending.  It wasn't until later on in the series that I found myself disappointed, and frankly at times annoyed with what the series was trying to say and how it was saying it.

The series opened right in the middle of things.  I'm usually annoyed with openings like this, and this wasn't much of an exception, but I was just interested enough by it to not get too annoyed.  Thankfully I didn't have to wait all that long for an explanation as to why the whiny, cowardly main character I was introduced to (he literally pisses his pants within the first five minutes) ended up in a cryo tube, and to an extent why there are giant bugs trying to kill everyone we've met so far.

I hate to say it, but the characters we meet at first aren't all that terribly interesting, including the main character, Yuji, who, for some reason, doesn't even think to ask how long he's been asleep.  He was only supposed to be asleep for a year or two while doctors literally tried to figure out what ailed him and apparently quite a few others so they could develop a treatment for it.  Pretty much the standard excuse to turn someone into a popsicle in pretty much every show to ever have suspended animation that doesn't also include a prolonged journey across space.  As it turns out in this case, bad things happened, and Yuji receives a very rude awakening, about twenty years after he was supposed to have been awakened originally. 

What happened?  Well, to quote Starship Troopers, "BUGS!"   Yes, as lame as that is, somehow giant bugs have taken over and turned all but a lucky few (relatively speaking) into tightly packed green balls that they never bother eating or doing anything with.  Basically it serves as a body horror image until the "message" comes along and ruins everything.

Anyway, back to the characters, most of them are basically cold-hearted bastards, which is constantly rubbed in as the series progresses.  Not only are most of the military personnel who were sent to recover Yuji and his fellow sleepers this way, but their superiors in the orbital stations that serve as humanity's last bastion are especially cold-hearted.  As it turns out, if this recovery team hadn't managed to recover any sleepers, they would have been left planet-side for dead, which is what ends up happening to most of them anyway.  That being said, while plenty of humans have managed to escape into orbit where the bugs can't get them, we're informed that only the select few seen as too valuable to lose were chosen to live on the orbital stations, which are collectively known as Second Earth.  While that makes it all the more confusing as to why they would then treat their soldiers as completely expendable, what makes even those expendable soldiers complete bastards is that they've all been completely brainwashed into believing the humans who have by some miracle managed to survive and not get turned into green balls are actually already as good as dead.  This means that while Yuji, and by extension most people, sees a little girl being attacked by a giant bug and wants to stop to help, none of the soldiers he's with want to completely ignore it.  Oh, and if a "groundling" happens to get between them and a bug, the soldiers are supposed to shoot through them.  While this does lead to some verbal exchanges, I kind of wanted to see Yuji and the beautiful blonde ice queen who initially rescued him, Marlene, come to blows and exchange a few punches, too, mostly just because I would have in his place given what happened and what was being said.  Jury's still out on whether I would have pissed myself upon waking up and nearly being killed by a bug the size of a cow...

Only one of the soldiers really had any redeeming qualities, which was Joey.  Unlike Marlene, Joey actually seemed human.  He was compassionate and more than once stuck up for Yuji when Marlene was being a bitch to him.  It was nice that this was a series so we could see the friendship develop, even though things were still moving along at a pretty fast clip.

We do see some of that development between Yuji and Marlene, but I feel it still could have used a little bit to explain why the two of them develop feelings.  Marlene never really seems to be all that compassionate towards Yuji despite saving his life repeatedly; if anything she makes it seem like a pain that she has to keep doing it, since Yuji is basically her ticket back to Second Earth.  On Yuji's end, it seems more physical than anything, because Marlene is pretty attractive (and also nekkid in the end credits, FYI wink ).  They do have some time to talk and argue with each other, but most of their time is spent running away from giant bugs.  She explains how humanity has basically lost touch with emotions, which is why they all have pointless sex and why she's such a frigid bitch to him, and he basically goes on and on about how he was only supposed to be asleep for a couple of years and how he wishes he'd never woken up if this is the world he had to wake up to.  This somehow equates to the two of them being in love with each other.

While it's pretty easy to tell I was unimpressed with how they got there, I kind of dug the idea of a somewhat unemotional woman and a somewhat emotional man falling in love with each other.  The fact that Marlene had to figure out just what was going on with her, and started to see just how much the humans of Second Earth really were bastards also appealed to me, and I loved seeing her kick ass to find Yuji, even though it was against the standard idiot mooks that seem to make up the military in shows like this.  It's after this that things kind of go south for me.

As it turns out, the Second Earth military scientist types seem to think Yuji's disease can somehow do for them what really any competent military should have been able to do at any point in the past twenty years – kill all the giant bugs.  This being anime, naturally it features mecha, which seem to be about the most effective means of fighting the giant bugs, even though air support from some kind of gunship would probably work a lot better.  What's worse is that while at some points the guns being used by the characters are quite effective, most of the time bullets seem to bounce harmlessly off of the bugs' armored skin.  And way too many times soldiers freeze up and just let the giant bugs kill them.  All of that was pretty annoying, but that actually isn't what bothered me the most.

So what bothered me the most about this show?  Marlene and Yuji basically switch roles, for no real reason at all.  While it's true Yuji had evil scientists abuse his illness in order to make him basically super-human, his obsession with another sleeper named Tony and the way he turned into the same kind of uncaring bastard that all the other Second Earth military types were just didn't ring true for me.   Worse though was Marlene, who turned into a really emotional and frankly kind of useless woman.  She went from cold and unemotional to really emotional without having much of any transition, and while before she was a very effective soldier in combat, she suddenly started freezing up.  Basically she turned into the Yuji from the first few episodes.

Okay, I lied, that isn't the part that bothered me the most about this show.  What did?  Well, I hinted at the "message" in the beginning of this review, and this one is a doozy.  The message?  Earth is alive and trying to kill humanity, which it perceives as a cancer and therefore a threat to itself.  And if that wasn't bad enough, it turns into a luddite message of how we can only peacefully coexist with the planet by giving up all technology and living in grass huts.  No, really, that's the happy ending of the series is that Yuji and Marlene decide to join some random villagers they met in South America that was living in huts.  This after a really quick WTF montage of the remaining Second Earther's killing the leader who has made it clear that if anyone wanted to leave, he wouldn't stop them, just so that they can fight over the last shuttle and somehow blow up the main space station.  And it all happens in like a minute running time.  Oh, and those green balls the bugs made out of humans?  Apparently tree food, because at one point we see little tree plants growing out of them. 

While there is plenty to rag on in this series, much like Star Trek: Enterprise, I liked the basic concept.  I also liked most of the character interactions and development, at least up until Yuji and Marlene trade roles.  I would still recommend this series, even if it scores a little low at 6/10.


Re: Anime review thread

Blue Gender: The Warrior
(2002 movie)

What happens when you take a 26 episode series and try to cram it into a 95 minute long movie?  Well, not much good, as you might expect.

The original series was just way too complex to turn into an hour and a half made-for-TV movie, so naturally, while things started out more or less the same, a lot got cut out, and a lot got changed in the plot.  In the end, not much really makes sense about the plot, and if I hadn't watched the series before this movie, I probably would have been completely lost.  Most of what they cut out was either good, like Yuji's friendship with Joey, or important to character and plot development.  It wouldn't have been as bad had they changed the plot even more, but they left just enough in to make things that much more confusing plot-wise.  It also makes the fact that they only left one small part of what had to be the shortest training montage I've ever seen out from the series somewhat amusing.  The part they left out?  Marlene pressing her body against Yuji's in order to show him the proper shooting stance for a pistol.

The Yuji/Marlene relationship just seems to come that much more out of the blue in this movie because so much has been left out or become part of the chopped up journey/survival montage that reduces something like 3-4 episodes into a single minute.  It also makes it that much more pathetic when Marlene becomes such a whiny loser after returning to Second Earth.  Then, after explaining how she doubts she'll ever be allowed to return to Earth's surface, she's suddenly there and searching frantically for Yuji.  She does find him, and he promptly tries to kill her, until something she says turns him back into something like his old self, somehow.

The ending of the movie is even more WTF than the series.  While we never see or learn anything about Second Earth's final fate, the movie basically ends with Marlene cradling Yuji in the middle of the street.  At one point they were surrounded by the giant bugs, looking for all intents to become another green ball in the middle of the street, when Yuji opens his eyes, makes some kind of psychic noise, and all the bugs go away.  Knowing that there is a connection between the disease Yuji and his fellow sleepers have from the series, I kind of sort of know what happened, but in the context of the movie there is just no explanation at all.

So combine the storyline being ripped to shreds with character narration out of no where in a vain attempt to explain what the hell is going on, and basically you get a lot of suck.  The environmental/luddite message has mostly been lost, but in its place it has a "science is bad" message.  Whereas in the series, rampant militarism was blamed for Second Earth becoming what it had when we saw it in the series, the head scientist who actually lead a coup against the corrupt military council turns out to be the bad guy in the movie, sort of.  Basically he's blamed for things turning out the way they are, and he kills himself after whining about what a loser he is in his narration piece.

While this movie pretty much just sucked, I'll admit that there were a few things I liked about it.  To begin with, while it was kind of lame, what Yuji's illness was supposed to end up doing to him and anyone who had it is actually explained in the movie, while in the series it's never mentioned beyond the explanation of Earth using it as a means to destroy humanity.  In the movie it basically just drives them insane and they start babbling predictions about the future.  Another thing I liked is that at one point, Yuji actually hauls off and punches Marlene after calling her and her Second Earth compatriots on their inhumanity.  He actually sticks up for himself beyond words, so I liked that.  Later on, he gives his earring to Marlene as a good luck charm and at one point she expresses he strong conviction for him by piercing her ear with it and wearing it.  The relationship doesn't make much sense in the movie, but something like that would have been nice in the series.

Still, the movie sucked, and I'm only giving it a 1/10.


Re: Anime review thread

Blue Submarine No. 6
(4 episode OVA)

This was an interesting take on the whole post-apocalyptic type of story, even with the annoying environmental message.  Essentially, some Dr. Moreau type has gone nuts and somehow not only managed to flood most of Earth's surface by creating a polar shift, killing a good chunk of the population, but he's created an army (navy?) of intelligent human/animal hybrids to kill as many humans as possible.  He later denies that was the purpose, but his motivations are rather difficult to understand anyway.  Apparently he hatched his evil secret plan after losing his family in an ethnic cleansing while he was off figuring out how to create more food for the world's population.

In the meantime, the world's surviving navies have banded together and formed "Blue Fleet", a futuristic submarine force, of which Blue Submarine No. 6 is a part of.  It's a little frustrating that they didn't give the sub its own name, as most of the other subs in the fleet do have their own names, but that doesn't really affect the story.  The fleet continues to fight the water-borne forces of Dr. Moreau – I mean Zorndyke, losing many of its number along the way.

Due to these massive loses and an acceleration detected in Earth's polar shift, Blue Fleet plans to attack the tropical Antarctic (yeah, really) stronghold of Dr. Zorndyke in an effort to break the will of his creations to fight.  Dr. Zorndyke interrupts their little briefing and lets them know that he's on to them, right before the massive phantom ship that has been systematically wiping out Blue Fleet turns up at their base to kill them all.

Blue Sub 6  had picked up a former crew member, Tetsu in the first episode, and during one of these fights, he, for no real reason, takes pity on the pilot of one of the machines that was moments ago trying to kill him and lets her go (kind of a fish girl/mermaid I guess).  This comes into play as the Blue Fleet base is destroyed and he is shipwrecked in the process of allowing Blue Sub 6 to escape, as he is in turn rescued by the creepy mermaid he had returned to the water early in the OVA.  While I'm glad they never went the romance route, it would have been interesting to have the two develop more of a friendship, but sadly it didn't come to much, other than this mermaid changing her way of thinking and not seeing humans has her enemy.

What does come of it, and from the help of another friend who has been turned into a sea creature by Zorndyke, is that Tetsu is able to infiltrate Zorndyke's "base" and kill him, thus preventing the nuclear strike that was Blue Fleet's original plan, which actually would have finally brought on the end of humanity through the pole shift.  The moral of the story is supposed to be that we should try to get along instead of fighting each other, but it's left somewhat ambiguous as to whether Zorndyke's creations will make an effort to get along with humans or vice versa.

Made by the same studio that would go on to make Last Exile, some of the character designs look rather familiar.  There's even a short-haired tomboy, Kino, who is unfortunately more annoying than anything.  She's moody, unreasonable, and cries a lot, which kind of contrasts the professional officer image they initially tried to sell her as in the beginning of the OVA.   Most of the other characters we meet are interesting enough, though I have to say that the main fish creatures manning the phantom ship (a battleship/whale combination) were a bit too cartoonish for my taste.  The captain of Blue Sub 6 was likable, and actually reminded me a bit of a Star Trek captain, which is probably what they were going for anyway, including with the look of Blue Sub 6 herself (not to mention a Scottish chief engineer).

While an okay anime, this probably isn't what fans of submarine movies would like, simply because it doesn't have much of that feel, which is very firmly in the sci-fi side of things.  I kind of wished that they'd gone more that route, and gotten a more appropriate soundtrack, for that matter.  Other than that, it was okay, so it might be worth checking out.  7/10.


Re: Anime review thread

Boogiepop Phantom
(12 episode series)

While Baccano! managed to pull off the ADD editing somehow, this series somehow made all the skipping around a bit annoying.  It also tended to skip around in time and location, though each episode was basically its own self-contained story.  Each tended to intersect with more than one other, however, so it could get a bit confusing to follow.  There were also so many different characters that it became hard to remember their names, at least, to even really see how much each storyline might intersect with another.  It also might have helped if I'd understood what was going on or what the show was even really about. 

The title character basically goes around and disappears various characters that all have special powers of some kind, usually after chastising them for the use of those powers.  She alternatively refers to herself as Death, and as "saving" the people she makes disappear, so it's hard to tell if she's a villain or not.  I normally like ambiguity, but this was just confusing.  I guess making them disappear into thin air (or cocooning them as is revealed close to the end) is somewhat better than the obviously evil "composite" humans who literally ate people who were supposed to represent evolution within the human species.  The big evil organization they belonged to apparently controlled everything while actually preferring to just observe, except when it came to preventing change, as in evolution in humans.  That's pretty much all I got out of the series.

I guess if you like having your mind screwed with a bit, this might be worth a watch, but I'm guessing most would simply find this series confusing and hard to follow.  3/10.


Re: Anime review thread

(single episode OVA)

This show was immature and actually a little painful to watch.  It focuses on a mostly female police squad as it investigates a female slavery ring run by some gangster type.  As one might expect, this means some fan service, but while I usually kind of enjoy this kind of thing, it really wasn't worth it to watch this stinker.  The English dub was especially annoying, but having to read the moronic conversation taking place in Japanese didn't improve on anything.  It was just stupid, both the plot and the characters.  Don't waste your time with this one.  0/10.

Burn-Up W
(4 episode OVA)

This OVA didn't have much to do with the first one beyond names, so I guess it had that going for it.  For about the first half of it, it seemed like it was going to be nudity and comedy, not unlike GoldenBoy.  There was a villainous plotline in the background the whole time, but it seemed like it was more about making a VR orgasm machine than anything really threatening or dangerous.  Honestly I probably would have enjoyed the show a lot more if that were the case, but it turned out to be something actually sinister, and the show took a turn for serious with the third episode.  Basically we got introduced to one of the character's friends only to have that friend wind up getting shot in the face.  And even after the show turned mostly serious at that point, it still tried to throw some comedy and fan service out there, and that didn't really come off well in my opinion.

Really this show would have been improved had it simply chosen whether to be serious or to be a comedy, because mixing the two just didn't work.  4/10.


Re: Anime review thread

Well, I was hoping to post here at the same rate as I was at the Infinity Project for those who were members of both boards wouldn't be reading the same review they just did the day before here, but it looks like I might end up being out of sync again if they aren't back up again by tomorrow. sad

28 (edited by CX 2010-11-21 19:46)

Re: Anime review thread

Burn-Up Excess
(12 episode series)

Actually fairly good as far as being basically a sex comedy.  As with the 4 episode OVA, this series pretty much focused on fan service and comedy, which was mostly about the fan service.  It's refreshing to see an anime that doesn't really take itself too seriously.  Actually, this series reminds me a little of Desert Punk as far as how over the top the action and comedy can be without overdoing it.  The problem is, much like Desert Punk did toward the end, this series just had to get serious suddenly in its last few episodes.  We're talking a major terrorist plot here, along with major betrayal from characters who were supposed to be "good guys".  It's somewhat frustrating that once again, the people making this series had to ruin what they had by introducing a serious plot.

As for the plot itself, well, for a while it was refreshingly episodic with some minor connection with the big evil secret plan that finally reared its ugly head at the end of the series.  The character design and voice talent is the same as Burn Up W, which at first lead me to believe Excess was a sequel to it, but as someone turned up who was killed in the OVA, I guess there is no real continuity between the OVA and this series.  Oh, and speaking of character design, the Warrior Squad's only male team member, Yuji, looks a lot like the main character of GoldenBoy, so that helped sell both the OVA and this series to me initially. 

I'd say this series is worth a watch if you're up for some adult comedy.  Much as with the OVA, though, the ending kind of spoiled me enjoyment of it, so I'm not going to score it much higher at 5/10.


Re: Anime review thread

Burn-Up Scramble
(12 episode series)

This series features a new character design and animation style that frankly makes the older versions of this franchise look a lot better by comparison.  This series also features a new voice cast along with having a new continuity completely unrelated to the other versions of the franchise, but what really makes this version suck in my opinion is that it's way too serious.  It reminds me of other "future cop" animes which also bored the hell out of me so much.  The fan service is still there, albeit much tamer and therefore less fun as far as I'm concerned. 

I have to be honest though and admit up front that I couldn't watch this entire series.  Even if I didn't have a massively huge list of things I want to watch and get through, I probably still wouldn't take the time to watch the entirety of this series, because at points I was tempted to quit before the first episode was even done.  That being said, I only made it through the first episode.  0/10.


Re: Anime review thread

Burst Angel
(24 episode series)

This is basically your stereotypical anime – giant mecha, girls with guns, and plenty of fan service.  So, at least in my opinion, there's nothing really special about it and it's basically eye candy.  For the most part, the series is somewhat episodic, though the "episodes" can actually last 2-3 episodes.  There's the big evil plot in the background, though not all of it makes sense, particularly in how it manifests in each episode, which includes the requisite beach episode.

There is a lesbian couple, sort of, with the tomboy engineered weapon and a busty, not all that bright girly type, Jo and Meg, respectively.  The series does try to do a bit of drama with them, and even finishes off with a heroic sacrifice, though it's not clear to me if Jo and her former boss actually died or not at the end of the epic battle that finished the series off.  The idea that Meg would somehow take Jo's place was pretty amusing, though, seeing as she was pretty much the Velma of the series, what with getting kidnapped in basically every episode and needing Jo to save her.

There is something of a fake protagonist in this series, though, a real whiny loser by the name of Kyohei who is a culinary student just seeking a job on the side for some extra cash.  It was pretty apparent from the start that this was going to be a "harem" type comedy, with a single male character surrounded by hot female characters that he will never, ever get to be more than friends with.  Like most harem comedies I've seen so far, Kyohei is whiney and pathetic, being impossibly understanding and pathetic.  At the beginning of the series, Jo threatened to kill him more than once, including one time when he was infected by a nanovirus that was set to kill him in a few hours if it was not removed.  As Meg was at risk, Jo used him as a hostage in an exchange, threatening to kill him if he didn't cooperate.  And he just goes along with it, even going so far as to save her ass before that storyline was through.  Personally I would have threatened to kill her right back, and probably would have tried to follow through with that threat as soon as the opportunity presented itself, but since Kyohei let himself be a doormat, apparently Jo decided he was now a friend and the series progressed from there.  At a point later in the series, though, it becomes clear that Kyohei is nothing but a supporting character and that Jo is the real protagonist.

Anyway, this was an okay watch, but it really wasn't anything special.  It was an attempt at a comedy drama, or maybe a drama with a lot of comedy relief, and it marginally succeeds.  I'd give it a 6/10.

Burst Angel Infinity
(single episode OVA)

A prequel to the series and a sequel to the background episode where Jo and Meg first met.  There isn't a whole lot more to say about the OVA, which really could have been just another episode to the series.  The story itself is about Meg and Jo seeking revenge against a mechanized monster who hurt the youngest member of the gang of street urchins Meg was leading when they found Jo.  Hints at widespread corruption in New York City (like that's anything new), where the story takes place, and an even more obvious anti-US message in that the big bad from the series shows up in NYC as its mayor.

Nothing is really added to the series by this OVA, and like the series itself, while not bad it wasn't really good either.  5/10.