Saikano

Alt titles: She, The Ultimate Weapon

Reviews

Ultima's avatar By on Nov 11, 2004

Story
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.
Animation
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.
Sound
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.
Characters
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.
Overall
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
Garyuu's avatar By on Jul 2, 2010

Mini-review:

This is the anime that could have been so much more. It tries really hard to be a sad show, but it tries too hard. It feels like I am just getting overloaded. Like when I saw my first R rated horror movie. I was really grossed out. Now, I don't get effected by that stuff anymore. This show desensitized me to the sad moments in the same way. I also feel that for a scene to be really sad, it should be unexpected. I was always expecting something was going to happen. In the end, it wasn't that sad to me. It was depressing, but not sad. The actual plot was good though, and the characters acted more human than in most shows.

I should also mention the animation. It is very unique. I usually like it when they have a different style from the norm, but it didn't work this time. I found it really unattractive. I also found it to be really inconstant.

 

7/10 story
6/10 animation
7/10 sound
8/10 characters
7/10 overall
Hajime's avatar By on Sep 24, 2010

Oh did I actually just say tale of love for RahXephon, well this is the Ultimate tale, she, is the perfect weapon, sent into battles all over the world, he is a high school student, they fall in love..the world begins to collapse around them, she is tired, she loses control. If you can get past poor drawing and constant blushng faces, then you can probably get past the sudden changes the earth goes under. A gripping tale to say the least. If you liked end of evangelion or Rahxephon, ul prob like this

8/10 story
5/10 animation
6/10 sound
5/10 characters
6/10 overall
charvisioku's avatar By on Dec 12, 2012

I'm going to start this one off by acknowledging the fact that my review isn't based off the full series and therefore isn't as reliable as a lot of the other reviews on this site. If that annoys you, don't follow my advice and take my opinions as ill-founded.

Story

Stupid, clumsy girl (Chise) is made into part-robot weapon... boyfriend (Shuuji) tries to protect. Girl is constantly annoying with what seems to be an attempt at adorable clumsiness. Shoots stuff out of her dress and grows weird robot parts occasionally. Goes boom boom smash and cries.

I couldn't watch it right to the end even though I paid money for it (which I'm certainly not swimming in). It was that bad.

It's like watching Coronation Street (except even Corrie's more interesting), with a robot lady. Rubbish.

Animation

Ugly. Quite smooth, but the drawing style just doesn't seem right at all to me. That was a big factor in me being unable to watch it to the end.

Sound

Voice-acting isn't particularly distinctive, music incredibly forgettable. It's not awful but it's by no means good either. A little bit below average.

Characters

What characters? Oh, you mean Chise and Shuuji?

Chise is a clumsy douche who is constantly fumbling her words and tripping over herself and... well, she's quite embarrassing to watch if I'm honest. Shuuji is unremarkable - just a prop to show that someone cares about Chise and what happens to her at the hands of the government, really.

Secondary characters barely had a real mention. Unless something drastically changes in the few episodes after I dropped it.

TL;DR

She: The Ultimate Weapon (as it was called on the box set I bought (can't believe I spent money on this)) is a sappy, soap opera style drama with lots of blushing and fumbling of words, the occasional bomb and next to no proper character development. Others on AP seem to like it a lot though, so I wouldn't say to avoid it based on this review. Go read other peoples' before you make up your mind on the subject.

Reccs

The reccs for this one are taken from the anime info page since I honestly couldn't think of anything.

*Elfen Lied

*Voices of a Distant Star

*Now and Then, Here and There (from the synop I'd agree - depressing story about a kid caught up in war... oh and it has a place called "Hellywood" in. Surely that warrants a recc in and of itself, right? ¬.¬)

2/10 story
4/10 animation
4/10 sound
2/10 characters
3.5/10 overall
Fireaxe's avatar By on Oct 5, 2009

Originally posted on the forums on February 15th 2008

I've just finished watching SaiKano for the 2nd time, and OMG I knew this anime was awesome, but I forgot how EPIC it gets from episode 7 onwards.... There are sooooo many bone chilling moments in this show, it's unbelievable.... One word: Akemi... oh man...

To quote a quote on the back of the DVD box

"Truly inspiring work... masterfully merges the heart-warming with the heart-wrenching.

~Animerica Magazine"

Before re-watching this, I thought I might have over-reacted when I first watched it and put it straight to the 2nd spot of my top 5, like 2 years ago... I was so wrong, SaiKano is truly a piece of art, but not for the feint of heart =).

PLEASE, to all of you guys who dropped this show after 4-5 episodes because you thought it was too emo... do yourself a favor, give it another shot and watch it till the very end. It really is an underrated show and you won't regret it.

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Best-Tragedy-Anime-Ever. period.

10/10 story
8/10 animation
9/10 sound
9.5/10 characters
9.8/10 overall