An unfortunate truth about the anime industry is that movies of long-running shounen manga are always trite and unremarkable: uninspired scenarios and forgettable guest characters being among the main reasons why. Though it's not surprising. Why bother thinking up an interesting plot when you know people will be drawn to the popular brand it's based on anyhow? ''Full Metal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos'' – based on the acclaimed manga - is no exception. It's a forgettable if somewhat serviceable adventure flick with some exciting action sequences and a lacking story. No different from the... read more
When someone on the Internet describes a work of fiction as 'visionary', it's usually meant as a form of praise, referring to a willingness to defy convention in favor of something more thought-provoking and enticing. As defined by a dictionary, 'visionary' refers to embracing fanciful and often impractical ideas.
Mawaru Penguindrum falls under both definitions.
What Kunihiko Ikuhara of Utena-fame has created here is a show that takes philosophical musings on themes such as fate, love and death; and combines them with slapstick antics involving ghost penguins and ping-pong balls that erase... read more
Comforting lies or a bitter truth. Which is better? Enter UN-GO: an 11-episode anime series by Studio BONES which tackles this theme by pouring it in the format of a buddy-detective show, following cynical detective Shinjuurou Yuuki and his quirky assistant Inga as they tackle cases in a Japan that's recovering in the aftermath of a devastating war. The end result is something that thematically feels less like the typical mystery anime and more like a sci-fi spin on the British crime-drama Foyle's War. Let's get one thing clear: UN-GO isn't very good when taken as a pure detective story. Most of... read more
The last couple of years have spawned some anime series that ditched the usual 20-minute
episode format in favor of longer episodes. ‘Break Blade’, ‘Kara no Kyokai’ and
‘Katanagatari’ all released new installments that were (at least) double the
length of a typical anime episode up to and including feature length films.
Upsides to this approach are that the production values tend to be much higher
and that the longer format allows for more deliberate pacing. The downside is
that viewers who follow these series end up waiting a long time... read more
Redline is excellent proof that you can have too much of a good thing. Especially when you
neglect everything else in the process. The first 10 minutes do an excellent job of letting viewers know what’s in store for
them. It’s here that the film treats us to an intense and gorgeously animated
race sequence and equally beautiful backgrounds and character models. From
there on out it’s clear that the films intent is to overwhelm the viewer with
adrenaline-filled races brought to life with mouth-watering animation and
sound. Storyline and character development... read more
Baccano! is a series with a huge fanbase who see in it as a wonderful ensemble of colorful characters, complex web of interwoven plots and wonderfully jazzy soundtrack.
If nothing else, they’re right about that last part.
To the series’ credit. It’s certainly ambitious and refreshing. A story taking place in America during the Prohibition Era and juggling the stories of around a dozen different characters spread across no less than 3 separate time periods, spiced up with alchemy, magic, urban legends and immortal gangsters. Definitely something you don’t see... read more
‘Seirei no Moribito’ (‘Moribito, for short) is a very polarizing series. Many praise it for its stellar production values, great atmosphere and layered, believable characters. Others find the show relentlessly boring and slow-paced, disparagingly referring to it as ‘Boribito’. I believe the truth is somewhere in the middle. The basic story is the typical tale of a seasoned warrior seeking to atone for a checkered past by protecting a child who’s being hunted by powerful forces both human and inhuman. Moribito’s narrative, however, manages to distinguish itself... read more
‘’Darker Than Black’’ immerses the viewer in a fascinating world rife with cool superpowers, intrigue and mystery carried by beautiful animation and an evoking soundtrack by none other than Yoko Kanno.
Well, that was the idea……
The actual series definitely boasts impressive animation and cool superpowers, but that which the series tries to pass of as a story full of intriguing mysteries is nothing more than a total mess full of inconsistencies and plot contrivances. Worse yet, it wants to be seen as a dark and serious story but nevertheless shoehorns in... read more
Summer Wars is a perfect example of a story biting off more than it can chew. The film opens with an introduction to ‘OZ’. An information network that controls and monitors electronic services all over the world: from shopping to competitive gaming to healthcare facilities. Think the current internet age, but even more extreme. Then we’re introduced to Kenji, a math wiz who works as a moderator for Oz and has a crush on a girl named Natsuki. A few moments later we’re introduced to this crush of his who begs him to come with her to visit her family’s summer home. Thus kicking... read more
What if the Axis powers had won World War II?What if penecillin had never been invented?What if your parents had never met?'Noein' is set in a a universe consisting of a nigh infinite number of dimensions in which every 'what if', no matter how big or small, must have occured in one dimension or another. The focus of the story, however, is limited to two dimensions: one closely resembling the world we live in (which will henceforth be referred to as 'our world') and 'La'Cryma', a dimension which is a possible future of 'our world' in 15 years where humans are forced underground due to a calamity that has... read more
Enjoying an anime is always nice; better yet is when a series ends up exceeding your expectations. Such is the case with 'R.O.D. the TV'. This is a surprisingly entertaining adventure with likable characters and a jazzy soundtrack that should be checked out by anyone who enjoyed the action-packed OVA that came before it. To those who haven't: I strongly recommend you do, it's a terrific action-anime first and foremost; but it must also be noted that the second half of this series builds heavily on characters and events that transpire in the OVA.'R.O.D The TV' is best described as a combination of X-Men and... read more
My-Otome is nothing less than a total disaster as far as I'm concerned. This semi-sequel to 'Mai-Hime' is one of many anime-shows that tries to combine many different genres such as comedy, action and drama; but it is a colossal failure in every way imaginable.The basic story is, like many aspects of the show, incredibly derivative. It's the tale of a young girl named Arika Yumemiya who wants to enter a highly prestigious school called Garderobe where girls are trained to become an Otome, unbelievably powerful warriors who serve as vanguards of a country's militia. It is through a series of bafflingly... read more
Fate/Zero had some big shoes to fill. Based on a series of light novels that serve as a prequel to one of the most beloved visual novels of all time, animated by Studio ufotable – which has proven itself deft at adapting Type-Moon material with their fine work on Kara no Kyoukai – and with a soundtrack composed by none other than Yuki Kajiura; it's no surprise that fans were ecstatic in their anticipation. Hype is of course a dangerous thing, known to backlash horribly when it spins out of control. Which makes it a relief that Fate/Zero is quite good. Great, even. For the uninitiated... read more
It’s all too common for anime-series to start off on a promising note only to end in a
disappointing manner. Sometimes creators are forced to rush an ending due to
external factors, other times they run out ideas or budget but most of the time
writers simply bite off more than they can chew resulting in cheesy melodrama
through all sorts of contrived situations. Hanasaku Iroha is the complete opposite. Its first 6 or so episodes try out drama,
comedy, romance or slice-of –life in such a way that the shifts between
episodes feel jarring. The good news? It’s... read more
In 2003, Gonzo made “Last Exile”: a neat adventure story with gorgeous visuals set in a fascinating world inhabited with some intriguing characters and, most importantly, a genuine sense of adventure and wonder. That said, it had its problems: the main characters were bland, the story pace was uneven and the ending was a rushed mess. Fast forward to 2011, Gonzo is diving into the world of Last Exile yet again with “Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam” (TL: Fam, the Silver Wing). A sequel that's only loosely tied to the original, both in story and, sadly, in quality. Set an unspecified... read more
''Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai'' (We Still Don't Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day) is a series that sets lofty goals for itself. It is, in essence,
a ghost story that aspires to be a poignant drama about (unrequited) love, loss, adolescence and self (re-)discovery. Heavy themes that require a delicate touch. That last part is where things go wrong, but more on that later. As the show begins, we see a boy sitting at home while his female friend is pestering him. The boy's father is remarkably unfazed by what is going on. Soon enough, we learn why. The girl, Meiko... read more