In a world that probably wasn't based on Earth, the population is broken up into psychics and humans. The humans are afraid of the psychics and often times these psychics get killed or in general are driven out of the city. They have to hide their identities and their powers, lest the wrath of the humans come down on them. At the same time, there exists Ashuram, a corporation who employs these psychics (or "E's") to not only help keep the peace between the E's and the humans, but also to developed these psychic powers far beyond those who live in Gald, the slums. When I say slums, it's only because that's what it's called in the series. Gald itself looks fairly normal, except the occasional destroyed part which happened due to Ashuram's armada of E's destroying it.
Anyways, the story starts out on a very promising note. Kai is a young man who is new to AESES (Ashuram's force of E's), and for about three episodes we see him getting used to his new life, with his new friends (and in one case, his new rival). We see a little of the characters develop, and ultimately in episode three, see something very shocking happen that sets the stage for the rest of the series. After this episode, Kai ends up going to Gald (unintentionally, that's all I'll say without spoiling) and spends literally the rest of his time there.
As I said, the story starts out very interesting and I had wondered why people complained about the series so much, at that point. Though commonly referred to as a Scryed ripoff, I felt it had more Witch Hunter Robin type overtones. Unfortunately, after the first three episodes, it plummets steadily downhill until it reaches a level that is boring and uninteresting. Let's start with the next 10-12 episodes. Now, in the first three, we get an idea that the E's and Ashuram might be more than they seem, but this idea is thrown out the window for the next 10-12 episodes of filler. Kai has met up with his friend and roommate for the rest of the series, Yuki, and his sister Asuka. At this point it turns into a very Get Backers style adventure, with a new job they take on each episode, usually involving another psychic they need to subdue, a cat they need to save, or supplies they need to transport. While we occasionally see something related to the main plot (like Eiji back at Ashuram asking where Kai is... again) almost nothing is progressed as far as the once was interesting plot. Then, suddenly, the last bunch of episodes is back into the plot full force (though it also becomes very weird and supernatural in nature, which was not a good thing), making for a very, very uneven pacing, which definitely wasn't a good thing. I don't mind shows which are 100% filler, 100% plot, or even plot with filler in between occasionally (or vice versa); but starting out with a solid plot, then turning into only filler, then back to solid plot, sucks in my book and made this lose serious points.
As far as the Scryed comparison? Well, near the end it definitely starts to remind you of Scryed, a lot. From the ruins of Gald which look an awful lot like the Lost Ground, to one of the characters who looks exactly like Kazuma (except the hair) when he has his arm device in full swing, and eyepiece, there are Scryed undertones everywhere. Then again, this is only prevalent near the end, for the most part, so I'd say it's as much like Scryed as it is like Get Backers or Witch Hunter Robin, too. Thank the uneven pacing and genre for that.
Another failing aspect is that there are WAY too many characters, and the ones we are introduced to at first aren't even around a lot of the time, with a few exceptions. A good idea for the story would have been as follows: Kai is a member of AESES, Kai goes to Gald not on purpose. Former teammates then have to fight with Kai eventually as enemies. This happens, BARELY, with one or two of the characters, but for the most part, we don't even see most of the introductory characters again. Instead, there's suddenly a whole new group of AESES members such as Maxim, a crossdressing very alien-looking purple haired person, and an electrified white hair fellow. These guys seemingly come out of nowhere as new team members, but not only do they essentially replace the old ones we've already come to know and like after three episodes, but they are developed essentially ZERO, making them completely useless characters. Doing this took a lot of the empathy and heart out of the show, unfortunately. I will say that a few of the characters do stay throughout the series, and are somewhat vital to a subplot, at least: Shen Lu and Shen Long. These guys are developed in interesting ways, so that's a plus I suppose. Also in the realm of too many characters are the guerillas of sorts, who consist of an old man with extremely creepy alien eyes, a white haired woman named Maria, and various other lackeys. Their role isn't really explained well until the end, and even then it's nothing special. All they serve to do is confuse you even more about where the hell all these characters are coming from.
In general, E's Otherwise started out very good, and very quickly ended up sucking. After a few filler episodes I found myself thinking "Hm... well filler is good, but at least they'll get back to the plot soon!" Wrong. Top it off with a sorry excuse for an ending (you can't even call it an ending, as it doesn't really end) and you have a series that plot-wise, just sucks. Great premise, poor execution, poor pacing.
I was very impressed with the animation (as well as the music, but that's for another section). The DVDs have crisp and clear colors and movement, with a beautiful range of colors. Everything is very vibrant and alive, making the viewing a very enjoyable experience. The ruined Gald is not exactly unique but is still well done, and shines with radiance once nightfall hits. We see a variety of aerial shots of Ashuram and the city, looking very cyberpunk and gritty (also a plus). Character designs were definitely a bit generic with pointy hair and huge eyes, but still were fine for the story. My only small gripe would be the manifestation of the psychic powers, which could have been something interesting and instead ended up being a glow around the body, with balls of energy sometimes shot out from the hands. Fighting consisted of throwing these energy balls around, which wasn't very original. In addition, sometimes the backgrounds were too sparce (such as having nothing but sky behind the fighting folks). In general though, I really enjoyed the animation. It was pleasing to the eye and interesting to watch, all around.
I really enjoyed the music in E's Otherwise, and felt it was very fitting for the mood and feel. First of all, the j-pop intro was surprisingly catchy. Second, the music itself consisted of either orchestral and very moody tracks, or a combination of violins and orchestral instruments with synths and electronic beats. These blends were very effective with the sci fi and edgy feel of the series. Near the end of the series, once the plot kicked back in, the music reverted almost entirely to these moody and moving orchestral tracks. In general, great music that helped boost the failing plot, at least a little.
As mentioned in the story section, the characters were simply too plentiful and too unexplained to deserve a high score. Strangely enough, the characters developed the most were not Kai, Asuka or Yuki, but Shen Long and Shen Lu. Not because their pasts were explained well or that they grew a bunch, but because they had a very troubling split in their relationship (they are twins, close ones) due to various things that helped the plot move forward as well. By the end, the results are saddening and I felt these were the two strongest characters of the series, by far (and they were secondary!)
Kai is the main character, but although we see hints of who he really is, NOTHING is explained by the end of the series. Not only does this count for no character development in my book, but it counts for negative character development. I see no reason in hinting at someone's mysterious qualities without explaining them at least a little, whether the series was made as a promo for the manga or not. As someone who will never read the manga, I find this unacceptable.
There's also Asuka and Yuki, who have fairly set roles from the get-go and never really exceed their limitations. Then there's the baddies of Ashuram, including Eiji and Maxim who look a hell of a lot alike, and a whole cast of minions who are developed zero and have no notable personalities of their own (except "let's go kick ass!"). The original teammates of Kai aren't around much, which meant the first three episodes were a waste of character development. We never are interested in any of the other AESES gang since they aren't developed or have anything that makes them stand out. It boils down to "just another bad guy who shoots energy balls".
Then there's the guerillas who sporatically show up throughout the series, confusing us even more as to who is who and what side everyone is on. For the most part I found all of them, including the old guy who read fortunes and Maria, to be utterly useless. The characters and development definitely are not the strong points of the series.
Overall, I found E's Otherwise to be very disappointing. The first three are great, the music is wonderful and the animation is beautiful, but the plot suffers horribly after only three episodes, carrying you into a nightmare of bad pacing and a genre that can't decide what it is. Top it off with a lack of an ending, no notable explanations and an overall "twist" (the real goal of Ashuram) that is tepid at best, and you have a series that clearly is going on the "don't watch again" pile. It's hard to say who I'd recommend to watch this, because since the genre changes so often and there's no presence of good pacing, it probably would make it difficult for anyone to enjoy it. So, I guess I'll just say that if you want a good audio and video experience, check out E's Otherwise. Just don't expect much in the way of plot or characters.
In the not too distant future, discrimination is based not on the color of your skin, but the psychic powers you possess. The wielders of these skills (known as E's) are persecuted in the slums of Gald, but are coveted in Ashuram, a military organization dedicated to enhancing these abilities for mysterious purposes. For one man named Kai, his journey from one of Ashuram's best to one of Gald's finest will take him through the heart of a conspiracy that threatens to destroy not only all E's, but all humans on the planet as well...
My fav genres include sci fi and horror, but you'll find a lot of obscure reviews from me too, given I watch a ton to add to the database. My new reviews are written a lot better than my old ones, so when in doubt, sort by date! ^_^ Enjoy, and I welcome any and all feedback.