I've just just finished another series, so here I go:
The New: Blood+
I actually am really torn over how I feel about this one. I had started it months ago, dropped it, and eventually came back to finish it off, just because I'm stubborn like that. The weird thing was that I could tell that it was a good show. It has gorgeous animation and music, well-planned fight scenes, and a complex, twisting plot. I should have loved it, but I just didn't. For some reason, the entire time I watching, nothing really grabbed me. I found myself bored during a couple of stretches so that it was difficult to keep going. I cannot, for the life of me, say why this was. When I think about the show in my head, I should have just loved it, but I didn't 'connect' for whatever reason. A part of it was probably that I didn't really like any of the characters that much. Saya was...fine, but I didn't just love her. (Although I really did appreciate having a strong female character lead in the show). Hagi was the one I ended up liking best, but his character was meant to be pretty much a blank slate. I found Kai's obsession with Saya more creepy than touching at most times, which I'm sure is not what the writers were going for. I think the biggest disappointment for me, though, was Diva. She just...wasn't a scary villain for me, ever. The crazy vampire and the childish vampire are both such overdone stereotypes, and Diva wasn't a particularly good example of either. I ended up with the impression that she never did anything, just sat there and tried to look sort of scary but failed.
That all said, I did like they way the solved the mystery of what Chiropterans were, and all the biological stuff about the species was fascinating. And, ultimately, I did enjoy the show, just not as much as I really wanted to. Maybe I would have liked it better if I'd gotten hold of it before I became thoroughly sick of the whole vampire phenomenon.
In the end, I gave it 3 stars, but I feel sort of bad about that. It feels like such a subjective thing, because there is so much that's high-quality in this show that it should get a higher rating, but it just wasn't to my taste, in the end. I'm growing a bit fonder of it now that it's over (and I did quite like the ending), but that's because I don't actively have to watch it anymore. I like thinking about the show more than the actual show. It's odd.
As a side note, I also watched the movie Blood: The Last Vampire, which Blood+ was originally based on. It lacked a lot of the charm of the series and the nuanced characterization of Saya, but is a decent, self-contained little action/horror film. I gave that a 2.5 for not wasting my time, but being mostly of interest as a rough precursor to Blood+.
The Old: Sailor Moon
This is one of those series that it's practically impossible to be objective about. Yes, it's cheesy and ridiculous, but that's the point, and it was such a formative thing for viewers my age. It's another one of those creatures that's hopelessly confusing because we only got the English dub back in the day, and they felt the need to change all of the characters' names for no good reason (and make a chick a dude, because two dudes hugging is too racy for US TV, apparently), and as a result, it's almost impossible to grow up with one and move over to the other.
That said: Serena/Usagi is incredibly annoying...but she's supposed to be annoying. I get that, and it's hilarious, but I don't like her for it; I like the meta behind it instead. And that really is fairly typical of my view behind Sailor Moon. It's different and innovative and entertaining, but in the end it's not something I could say "Wow, that was a good episode" about. The episodes are very formulaic, villain-of-the-week affairs, which I found annoying repetitive even back when I was 13. The Moon Princess mythology is absurd and over-the-top...but then that's what makes it so awesome.
I never actually got all the way through the show. Once the Sailor Chibi arc started in Sailor Moon R, it was clear things were going downhill fast. Still, some great fun was poked at sailor uniforms, amnesia was brutally overused, and heroine archetypes were turned on their head.
I give the first series 3 stars because that's sort of my standard rating for things I find exceptionally clever, if not wholly enjoyable. Sailor Moon R, I give 2.5 stars since it was still worth a watch, although the quality's definitely going down. And I shall probably never watch any further than that. Still, the series was good for some quality zaniness.
The Fave: Hikaru no Go
My goal in watching anime is always to my new favorite show. Hikaru no Go is currently the winner of this esteemed title. From the first episode, I knew I was going to like this one. The plot didn't seem that special: A boy, Hikaru, finds an old Go board and becomes haunted my the ghost of a former Go master, Sai. But the way it was done was just so damned entertaining. One of the things I love best about this show is that it's not overly fantastical. There's one supernatural element - the aforementioned ghost Go master - but from that point on, everything is very centered in the real world. The show actually delves quite a bit into the problems Hikaru has trying to hide Sai's existence, and so has a hint of the 'secret identity' mythos going on behind all the Go.
Another wonderful thing about this series is the rivalry between Hikaru and Akira Touya, which is possibly the best example of the give-and-take of the rival relationship in anime that I've encountered to date. Because Akira doesn't know about Sai, his rivalry with Hikaru is full of misunderstandings, but in the end they really do balance each other out and challenge each other to become better, all while becoming the best of friends. It's wonderfully touching.
In fact, I liked pretty much all the characters in this show. They represent a wide swath across all the different kinds of people who play Go, from kids who play just for fun, to old men who hang out in Go salons, to the highest of professionals. All the characters are plausible and likeable, and it's incredible how well the series demonstrates what Go means to so many different types of people.
The thing that really sells this series, though, is Hikaru's journey. He goes from being a kid with no real clue in life, to discovering what he loves most in the world and pursuing that as his life's career. All of this journey is shown for us step-by-step and builds slowly and believably. This is what a coming-of-age story should be!
My only complaint is that the anime ends one arc before the manga does, which just seems silly. The TV series itself has a gorgeous ending, two arcs back. Then there was an OVA that covered the second-to-last arc, but the final arc was never animated, for some reason. In any case, the TV series has a strong ending in its own right, so even that's not disappointing in and of itself.
All in all, I have nothing bad to say. The show's 170+ episodes, but manages to be strong throughout. 5 stars. I wonder some days what could ever top it for me, but I can't wait to find out what that will be. :P
I'm close to finishing Maria Holic, Itazura na Kiss, and Hayate the Combat Butler. So a bunch of posts should go up in the near future.
This blog has no comments. Leave one now!