Alt title: She, The Ultimate Weapon



Ultima's avatar By on Nov 11, 2004

When I first read the description for Saikano, I already developed preconceived notions about the series. Taking into account the DVD’s front cover and genres, I was expecting a series along the lines of a heart-warming romance or maybe even a heroine that kicked ass the whole series. Either of these ideas could have been great, but this isn’t what Saikano is about. Saikano is about war, its hardships, and the eternal power of love.

The plot was great when you look at how the characters were put together, but the setting of the story had a few loose ends and holes in it. Considering that the backdrop of the series is the war, it would have been nice to know a bit of history behind it. During and after watching the series, you would continuously be asking yourself: Why is Japan facing complete annihilation? Why is most of Japan gone? How long has this war been going on? Who are the Japanese fighting? Where are all these earthquakes coming from? Despite these little details the creator opted to leave out, they don’t hinder the overall mood, atmosphere, or direction of the story. But answering them would have definitely given more depth to the story. You are just left to assume that Japan is facing total annihilation. However, despite the many flaws with the story’s setting, the actual plot makes up for it.

Saikano's story is told mainly from Shuji’s point of view, but the story does shift from one charcter to another to allow the viewer to feel and see other character's situation. The story centers on Shuji and Chise’s love relationship, and their friend’s problems with dealing with the war. Everyone experiences death and tragedy in war - it is an unfortunate consequence. This is one of main themes of Saikano. The creator really went out of their way to create a drama for most support characters, thus allowing them to feel realistic. You’ll definitely be able to connect and associate with their emotions and predicaments.

Viewers that would like a happy ending should stop after watching episode 10. Although it sounds weird to warn viewers about watching Saikano all the way through, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. From episode 11 to the end, the story becomes even more depressing. The story however does come to a full circle in the last episode. While you would think it would tie up the loose ends in the story, but it doesn’t. It also was a missed opportunity to explain Chise’s history and role in the war.

Despite Chise and Shuji’s relationship facing turmoil and hardship, I always felt that their relationship was forced and unnatural. Were they really in love? I’m not really sure. Apparently in Shuji and Chise’s mind they were, but from my point of view, they both seem too weak to actually be in love. They never spent enough time together to even figure that out. But then again, Saikano wouldn’t be Saikano without the love relationship between Chise and Shuji. Throughout the series, Chise becomes less human and the only thing that sustains her is Shuji’s love, which is a pivotal part of the story. Both endure great hardships, but still love each other in the end.

In all, Saikanos plot depicts a doomed Japan who seems to be at war with many nations. Who these enemies are, we don’t know. But what we do know is that without Chise, Japan would have been gone long ago. Saikano expresses a clear anti-war message and the theme that love is eternal.
The animation isn’t groundbreaking or awe inspiring. The animator has an unusual style of making all characters appear to be blushing all the time. It may appear weird at first, but you probably would get used to it after a few episodes. Male and female character design was typical, but there was a particular emphasis on women’s lips and characters crying, which was done really well. There were many bloody scenes and explosions, but fortunately the violence and blood wasn’t toned down.

Unfortunately, despite the great DVD covers of Chise in her "Ultimate Weapon" mode, you never really see her in real time battle. Although it is not the main focus of the story, I was hoping for at least one action sequence depicting what she typically did. Most of the time you assume that she is just plain powerful. It really would have been great to see the great "goddess of death" in action.
The opening and end themes "Koisuru Kimochi" and "Sayonara" were great. They were composed and performed by Yuria Yato, and both themes really fit the melancholy, yet hopeful mood of the series. Most of the Saikano OST comprises of acoustic and electric guitar tracks. The songs are easy to recognize which is great. I was able to add another good OST to my play list. The mood of the songs range from depressing to exciting, which is a nice mix.

The seiyuu that performed in Saikano were very good. All characters were able to expresses each character’s personality and mood effectively. My favorite seiyuu from Saikano is Yuu Sugimoto, the seiyuu for Akemi. It’s too bad she hasn’t done more voice acting for more anime. I thought she did a superb job, especially in the episode called Akemi. You probably would recognize Chise’s voice done by Fumiko Orikasa. Her most notable roles are from playing Seras Victoria in Hellsing, Yayoi in Stellvia, and Meia in Vandread. She did a nice job in expressing Chise’s character.
While Saikano’s story and setting have holes in it, Saikano’s characters were really developed well. Saikano mainly focuses on how each character dealt with the war. Both main and support characters have some sort of history or relationship with each other.

Saikano is told from Shuji’s point of view and he is the most developed of all the characters. He loves Chise who happens to have a weak and clumsy personality, but ironically is turning into the "Ultimate Weapon". Throughout Saikano, Chise fights for Japan’s survival, but her regular high school and love life is compromised in the process. As the war drags on, Chise spends less and less time with Shuji, but Shuji and Chise always hang on to their love for each other despite the many hardships they have to endure. Shuji had to endure the loss of his many friends and love ones, and always had to resist the temptation to become unfaithful to Chise.

Sadly, I found Chise’s character to be more underdeveloped than I would have liked. She is one of the main characters, but yet you would be asking questions about Chise such as: What is Chises origin? How did Chise come to be? What is Chise’s purpose? The list goes on and on, but I think those are the main questions. For some reason, the creator shrouds Chise’s origin and purpose in mystery. I’m not sure why he would want to do that, but yet again you are left to assume that Chise is the "Ultimate Weapon" and how she came to be that way is irrelevant. I thought it was a big let down because she is one of the main characters in Saikano. Even the title is referring to her. Knowing more about her origin and past would have helped in connecting with her character. However, despite her hidden past, her strength, perseverance, and love for Shuji more than make up for those linger questions about her past. Chise always has to face heartbreak when she has to be called away from her normal life to fight for Japan. Without her help, Japan probably would be already destroyed. The more that she fights, the less human and more machine-like she gets. But even through all those hardships, she always thinks about Shuji and their love for each other. It is what kept her from being a total weapon. Love is what kept her human self alive.

As for support characters, they received good back stories. One friend joins the military to protect the girl he loves, but she doesn’t love him back. Another friend struggles to cope with the death of her former boyfriend caused by the enemy. A woman struggles to find love in others because her husband is away serving in the military. Another classmate copes with unrequited love. They all are like mini snapshots of what people have to endure during the course of a war. Enemies aren’t the only people that suffer and die, innocent bystanders suffer and die as well.
Although Saikano has excellent character development, it can’t hide the many holes and weaknesses in its plot. Saikano’s characters are hard to forget because of effort the creator made to develop them. He managed to induce emotional attachments to Saikano’s characters. Once these characters become engulfed with hardship, grief, or even death, the viewer is able immediately feel their emotions. Moreover, the all-important anti-war theme is prevalent throughout the series. The depressing mood the anime provokes emotions that are usually not felt in ordinary, peaceful times. War sucks; there are no winners, only losers.

Saikano has quite a bit of value, and I believe it was successful in expressing its themes. Saikano isn’t an anime that can be "enjoyed" in the sense of it making you feel happy or feel complete. Instead, it serves to only depress you, and make you think about the ramifications of war. You are able to experience each character’s burdens and hardships while watching, and experience emotions that you wouldn’t normally feel in peaceful times. It is because of these emotions that Saikano awakens that makes Saikano so great.
8/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
10/10 characters
8.7/10 overall
stalwartwalnut's avatar By on Apr 23, 2015

Polarizing (as in, love it or hate it, with no middle ground). Hard to watch. I "enjoyed" it, if that word even applies, I'm glad I watched it, and I never want to see it again.

9/10 story
6/10 animation
?/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall
balloon's avatar By on Dec 28, 2011


Do not watch this. It is degrading literally.

The worst story ever, it revolves around a STUPID girl who somehow becomes the "saviour" of humankind. Whilst watching this, you will realize how stupid this anime is, you will see how shitty and uncreative the writers are; the writers who don't even have a brain to do accurate story telling. 

Corresponding to the story, this anime has unlikeable characters. The worst contemplation of characters in all of ANime world. A weak, stupid, shy girl, a clueless boy who looks like he is a 40 year old man. There hideous and very boring love story. This anime shows the bad side of japanese culture, that is often ignored from our smirks. Pedophilia and disrespect of women. This anime spits at all the female achievements. The main character is stupid, weak girl, who becomes partly a robot after some scientists talk to her. When her BOyfriend(grey haired loser) asks her how, the idiot doesn't even know how. WOW. Pathetic. After the first two episodes you will realize how stupid the writers are of this story. The lowest technique in any medium to showcase suspense. It's not worth it, don't try to wrap your head around it. Its bloody stupid.

The hideous love story embedded in this anime is basically: *BLUSH* SMILE *BLUSH* SMILE. Pathetic. 



1/10 story
1/10 animation
1/10 sound
1/10 characters
1/10 overall
g3data's avatar By on Nov 27, 2015

The term "emotional manipulation" isn't quite on the level of the word "pretentious" when it comes to canned, overused, and empty criticism, however, it is down there. The problem with the term stems from the fact that all stories in some way aim to manipulate emotions. Where we to draw the lines is when for some reason or another, we the audience begin to see the cogs spinning. Characters then become plot devices to us, and plot-holes become impossible to notice, as does the desperation to get a reaction out of you from the script. Once things like these take us out of the experience, we see can see a lousy story for what it really is, and what the show in question here as it just so happens, is extremely manipulative, to the point where'd you'd might as well watch the puppy-beating scene in Elfen Lied for four straight hours instead. Saikano really wants the audience to cry, and if it has to do so through repeatedly and savagely insulting the intelligence of the viewers until they bawl in submission, then so be it.

The issues with it essentially boil down to the fact that it tries to frame a tragic love story through the lens of a war setting with sci-fi without any idea how to handle said setting or sci-fi elements. The story is literally about a 10 year- old-looking high school girl and how she fell in love with a male classmate (that looks like he's 7 feet tall and in his thirties) only to be abducted by the Japanese military, enhanced with a bunch of bizarre enhancements that enable her to fly and drop nukes everywhere, and allowed to wander free. The purpose of all this for them call her up to bomb faceless enemies that they're at war with part-time. It's about as ridiculous as it sounds and there's no rhyme or reason to any of it. Why would the Japanese military implant weapons into a civilian? Why allow an extremely dangerous military secret walk freely when she can accidentally blow up entire cities? Who the fuck are they at war with anyway? It seems as if the original manga artist had this idea that sounded really cool and decided to pursue it in the most threadbare way imaginable. It's not like a premise like this is impossible to work with. Gunslinger Girl had a story that I largely expected to give me the similar result as with Saikano, but it managed to somehow make its ridiculous torture porny-sounding premise work really well since the author knew that good world building would make the story easier to believe, and thus easier to connect with. Such nuance however, is strangely lacking in Saikano. If the world of a story creates a tragic scenario for the main characters, let it be because of how said world is understandable yet unfair, not because it's fucking stupid.

I think I've harped enough on how the Saikano's lack of care when it comes to how the senselessness of the script strains credulity, but it doesn't particularly shine as a character study either. The cast here is about as simple as one can imagine for a story of this nature. The female lead, Chise, for example, is a character you can know almost everything about by reading the brief synopsis I gave above as she's really just an ugly moeblob in love that just so happens to be able to destroy the world. This segues into a massive problem I have with romance as a central focus in storytelling, and that's when the romance is all that matters to the characters. I like to see love stories that are more than about "will they end up together and have babies?". Give me characters with conflicts that are external to their love-lives. A lot of what goes into making a relationship interesting is to see who said relationship affects other aspects of the lives of the characters involved. I have no idea what kind of person Shuji was before meeting Chise or what he wants out of life besides Chise. This is why I don't particularly care to see characters clearly fall head-over-heels for each other. Beginning the story by fleshing the main characters out in other ways first will give me a reason to get emotionally involved with them. I want to know why he and she complete each other. This is a principle makes a romance like Kare Kano great since it gave us an interesting look on both sides as to why Arima and Yukino are drawn together, and what implications their relationship have on all aspects of their character. The difference here is that Saikano sets its sights low by wanting to be a story about just love, whilst Kare Kano aims more broadly at being a story about people.

This problem extends across rest of the cast. Side characters in Saikano don't exist but to do anything other than be a part of unrequited, and sometimes taboo (I forgot to mention, there is a fair amount of cuckoldry in this anime) relationships, and then die. I've already established why throughout the entire series I could never bring myself to care about Shuji and Chise's relationship, so why should I care when even blander archetypes with less screentime get to take center stage? All of them at some point are put through physical and emotional straits with random tragedies taking place, such as airstrikes or even an earthquake. Yes, an earthquake. It's about as random as killing off a character by having him or slip and fall down a flight of stairs. As if the unconvincing romance between side characters isn't enough for you, a few of the girls fall in love with Shuji. I'm sure this was meant to add depth to the central relationship, but it felt like I was watching a playthrough of a shitty visual novel in which the player had a bit hesitation when it came to picking a route, but ultimately goes for the moeblob cyborg that dispenses bombs like Pez and cries all the time anyway.

About more or less as faulty as the show's story and pleads to emotion is the overall presentation. Saikano is definitely as far on the wrong side of the 2000s Gonzo visual quality spectrum as possible. The visuals are ridiculously drab and murky which likely stems from the fact Saikano was 1st made back when digital animation was considered new but was from being mastered. The character designs are about as unappealing as the artistry as the proportions often lack consistency and the characters look blobbish to the point where with the in profile shots, you can see Chise's forehead slants directly into her nose, and her nose to her chin. Not improving anything, of course, is the lousy CGI, but that goes without saying as this is Gonzo after all. The show I imagine never looked particularly good when it first came out I imagine, and as of now its aged about as well as a glass of milk left outside for a week. I chose to watch most of the show with English audio, not because it was good (the story is unsalvageable so it's not like good acting would matter in the least anyway) but because it made the overall experience that much more unintentionally hilarious. Seeing these greenhorn actors (that haven't done much of anything since) try their best and fail miserably with their ridiculous sounding voices was the closest I came to having a good time with Saikano. Chise in particular always sounded as if she was about to burst into tears, even if the scene didn't call for it. If this review plagues you with the bug known as "morbid curiosity" then the dub is the way to go. If you want decent acting, however, then you probably want decent writing and characters too, in which case, you're obviously better of forgetting this anime exists.

Saikano is easily one of the most thoughtless, plot-hole filled schizoid hodgepodges I've ever seen in anime. It's not as if using shaky and vague sci-fi elements to serve as a conduit for the journey of flawed characters can't work (I do consider Neon Genesis Evangelion to be a masterpiece after all) but goddamn where was the effort? In Saikano however, any kind of pathos to be found feels woefully undercooked and hamfisted, and its all wrapped up with plot elements that solely exists to extract as much suffering out of the characters as possible without context or reason to care.

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
1/10 overall
Tetsuaya's avatar By on Sep 13, 2015

At first glance of the artist, you feel as if it was underbudgeted or perhaps it is just the artists style.  It isn't until you get into what is about to happen that you understand the artist is showing the drama and feelings of the story, by giving less detail to characters and surroundings.

You won't feel the full capacity of the meaning of the writer until the final episode.  You are going to have lots and LOTS of feels for every episode, so bring a box of tissues. 

While tradgedy of humanity is continious, hope and love still struggle through out the series.

When you finish the series, and hopefully the 2 OVAs which fill in blanks, perhaps... just perhaps hope and love will what we all strive for.

9/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall