Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the first anime I have completed since November 2011, when I finished Naoki Urasawa's Monster -- and not for lack of trying, but because nothing else I watched compared in quality to Monster and, inevitably, my interest would wane. To be honest, my interest nearly waned with FMA:B as well. I have neither read the manga nor seen the original 2003 anime. I also didn't know anything about the show, other than that it is generally highly... read more
All I can say is . . . wow. This anime is worth every one of its 74 episodes. Naoki Urasawa's Monster was thrilling, well-written, well-executed, well-paced, consistently good, and the story chilled me to the bone. It alternately made me smile and hide beneath my blankets. In either case, I was never bored, and never felt like an episode was there only as filler. I haven't been watching anime for very long, and I do not lightly bestow upon it a rating of 10/10, but this is the single best series that I have seen thus far.
Monster is excellent, first and foremost, because of its... read more
Cowboy Bebop occupies something of an exalted status in the anime world, much like Akira and certain Miyazaki films that can do no wrong. For me, this one lived up to the hype.
There are a lot of things to like about Bebop, starting with the fact that it is downright COOL and that the music is awesome. But although I really enjoyed the series, there are also a few things I would have liked to see done differently.
Bebop is an... read more
Gankutsuougives Alexander Dumas's classic novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, the anime treatment. As the book is one of my favorites in all of literature, I was predisposed to liking the story. As it turned out, despite the very strange art style and the weird supernatural / sci-fi / fantasy elements thrown in, I ended up quite liking the anime as well.
The art in this anime was really... read more
Phantom: Requiem for a Phantom: Season 1 Review
Phantom: Requiem for a Phantom is essentially Gunslinger Girls: The Teenage Years, where the assassins are gun-totin' invincibles that wear tight black body suits and a less cool version of Hei's mask fromDarker Than Black.
As in Gunslinger Girls, here, we have main characters, Ein and Zwei, that are forced into becoming ruthless assassins for an organization called Inferno... read more
STORY This show had such an interesting premise: an orphaned son of noblemen contracts to sell his soul to a demon in exchange for the demon's help in seeking vengeance for his parents' murder. The demon takes the form of the boy's butler and will obey his every order until the killers are brought to justice. When that day comes, the demon will consume the boy's soul. Great premise! And a good writer could have done a lot with it. Unfortunately, for me, the execution on the premise fell flat. Starting, by the way, with the way most of the premise was rapidly unfolded within a few seconds in a montage... read more
An animated Studio Ghibli film by Miyazaki featuring magic and dragons and wizards! Can't go wrong, right?
Well... first let's clarify that it's not Hayao, but his son Goro Miyazaki in the directorial seat. Second, it's a Studio Ghibli film, so the animation will be gorgeous; that's a given. Third, I'll note that I have never read the series on which the film was based, so I have no opinions whatsoever about the film's supposed deviation therefrom.
My conclusion? Tales from Earthsea is a beautifully drawn, breathtakingly rendered, but otherwise terrible film. I... read more
SUMMARY: Fascinating premise, but the execution fell short of what it could have been.
I would call Eden of the East a plot-driven anime. The premise is fascinating: Taki, the protagonist, finds himself naked in front of the White House with only a handgun and a cellphone and he has zero memory of who he is or why he is there. He discovers that the cellphone grants him near unlimited power--for the purpose of being Japan's "savior."
That interesting nugget is the engine that drives the Eden ship, the hook that keeps the audience wondering who gave Taki the phone, who Taki... read more
I chose Baccano as my first post-bar-exam anime conquest. It more or less paid off in entertainment value and was generally very fun, but the show lacks that special touch, that emotional punch, and would likely have zero re-watch value.
The storyline in Baccano unfolds in a decidedly non-linear fashion and skips across time and across different points of view. Because Baccano encompasses a cast of over 15 characters, the plot is an ambitious one that tries to tie... read more
Ah, Death Note. I loved this series enough to forgive it its many faults. PLOT The premise behind Death Note is pretty interesting. A Shinigami, or death god, drops a supernatural notebook called a Death Note onto earth; the notebook grants its bearer the ability to kill anyone whose name and face they know, simply by writing the person's name in the notebook. Light Yagami, the anti-hero of the series, is a high school student that happens across the book and then attempts to use the book to fashion a new world free of crime and evil. Oh, and to pad his maniacal ego. Light killing off the world's... read more
Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal Please forgive me, as I'm about to gush. I absolutely LOVED Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal. It was one of the first anime I watched (other than Miyazaki films) and it made me fall in love. STORYLINE The OVA is set in my favorite historical time period: the Bakumatsu, in the years directly preceding the Meiji Restoration. The historical backstory was a little bit confusing, even though I had studied this very period of Japanese history in college. But I thought it was very cool that the OVA attempted... read more
DARKER THAN BLACK: S2 REVIEW
I watched DtB Season 2 the first time around without having had the benefit of watching the OAVs (which explained a lot of what had happened), so I was extremely confused. First time through, I couldn't stand the new protagonist, Suo, or "Hobo" Hei's drastic change of character, or the crazy supernatural plot. In other words, I hated it.
But I think I didn't give it a fair chance that first time around. I have now properly watched S2 from beginning to end after having watched the Gaiden OAVs. And while I still think S2 is considerably... read more
DARKER THAN BLACK OAV REVIEW
Although it aired after Season 2, the OAV actually takes place chronologically between the seasons. I found viewing the OAV prior to watching S2 a prerequisite for understanding S2.
Here's my bottom line on the OAV: it had some kickassingly awesome action sequences, but little of the compelling character work of S1. The opening battle sequence was absolutely breathtaking, and there are many such awesome sequences throughout the 4 OAV episodes. For an action fan like me, Gaiden was heavenly.
The problem was that the character work wasn't quite there. The... read more
Sword of the Stranger is a samurai action movie, just as I like it: bloody, dark, and well-animated.
Other reviews on the 'net have pointed out that there is nothing much original to this movie, and I would completely agree with that assessment. Nanashi seems to be a colder, bloodier version of Kenshin from Rurouni Kenshin--i.e., he has a bloody past, killed one too many people, and refuses to kill now on principle. Except Nanashi is cooler because he isn't cheery and actually unleashes the beast at the end, rewarding the audience with an incredibly awesome action sequence. So I... read more
DARKER THAN BLACK: S1 REVIEW
DtB is something of a cross between Cowboy Bebop and X-Men. Seriously, there's even a contractor whose powers are pretty much just like Storm's. And there's an ice user too. DtB is cool, mysterious, stylish (I love the noir nods), fun, and there are people with ridiculously awesome superpowers running amok. Some fans call the main character, Hei, "Chinese Electric Batman," and that may be the most hilarious and spot-on fan-name ever.
PLOT (WARNING: SPOILERS!)
S1 of the series largely unfolds in mostly... read more
Netflix recommended this anime to me. Maybe they thought that since I loved Avatar: The Last Airbender, I would enjoy this action anime where there are fire-magic wielding fighters and wind-magic wielding fighters and oh, my, elements!
Well . . . I almost gave up after 4 episodes and decided it wasn't worth my time, but then for some reason I kept coming back to watch it until, lo and behold, I'd finished the whole damn thing.
The two main characters are Kazuma Yagami and Ayano Kannagi. The Kannagi family is a powerful family of fire-magic users. Kazuma used to be a Kannagi... read more
I have a pattern of being uncontrollably addicted to TV shows. It's the potato chip problem. Once you watch one, you have to keep watching. And then I rationalize it all to myself -- if I finish sooner, I will waste less time later. Well, I finally finished my one week blast-through of the entire 95-episode (plus 1 movie and 2 OVA) anime series, Rurouni Kenshin. This was the first anime series I ever watched from start-to-finish, so it has a... read more
WARNING: SPOILERS I finished watching all 24 episodes of Peacemaker Kurogane in a span of two days. What a strange, strange show. And not particularly good, either, though it was entertaining enough to suck me in for two days. Luckily, the anime is very short, so it wasn't TOO big of a time vortex. There were a lot of things to dislike about the show: First and foremost, its main character, Tetsu, was a short little red-haired brat that was really difficult to like. He's supposed to be a real historical figure, but in the show he was extremely annoying. So was the little personality-less mute girl... read more
To my surprise, when I finished the 26-episode series Samurai Champloo, I found it much to my liking. The series was directed by Shinichiro Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop fame. The premise is a little bit of a screwy one: it is a "cross-genre" mix that employs a blend of Japan in the early Edo period (with a revisionist historical bent) with use of anachronistic elements of hip-hop, punk sub-culture, and modernism. Sounds strange. But the series was done with such style and pizzazz that I ended up quite liking it, despite the fact that the show was a bit uneven and, quite frankly, WEIRD at... read more
I enjoyed this 26 episode series quite a lot. Although many who have reviewed it have complained that its pacing is slow and that the middle episodes are boring, I quite enjoyed the slow pacing--it gave me plenty to time to take in the beautifully rendered landscapes.
STORY AND CHARACTERS
The story is a very simple one, and the series is definitely not a plot-driven series where you are dying to know what happens next. In fact, you pretty much know what will happen. What was interesting to me was the relationship between Prince Chagum and Balsa the Spear-Wielder, the main characters. I felt... read more
WARNING: SOME SPOILERS.
With a name like "Shigurui: Death Frenzy," I knew this was going to be a bloody one. I'm a fan of swords and fighting and blood. But as it turned out, this 12-episode series was... surprisingly boring and hard to finish--i.e., I couldn't finish it; it was just too boring.
STORYLINE & CHARACTERS
The story sounded intriguing. Two master swordsmen are dueling at Sunpu Castle. One is a blind cripple; the other is a one-armed man. Theirs is a long, twisted, and violent history going back to their battle to become the successor of the Kogan... read more
This is a review of all of Gunslinger Girl (Seasons 1 and 2). WARNING: SPOILERS FOR SEASON 2!!
I stumbled randomly across Gunslinger Girl in my post-Shigurui frustration with samurai/sword-slashing anime and ended up really enjoying this creepy and yet strangely fascinating anime about brainwashed little girls turned into cyborg assassins.
The two 13-episode seasons of this anime series are set in Italy, where the government-run Social Welfare Agency, under the guise of caring for young children, takes the hopeless cases, gives them cybernetic implants, and then brainwashes... read more
Sorry, this is more of a rant than a review. A lot of people love this anime and swear by it. In fact, as a huge fan of samurai/swordfighting, I'd have thought that I would have loved it too. But as much as I like (a) samurai; (b) swords; (c) bloody action scenes; (d) great animation sequences; and (e) Samuel L. Jackson, I must say that Afro Samurai was, well, absolute drivel. Nonsensical storyline. "Characters" who I would barely even call characters. Gratuitous gore and a random tasteless boobular sex scene that might as well be anime porn. Lame-o boring "plot," if you can... read more
WARNING: SPOILERS ABOUND!! Romeo & Juliet and dueling ninja clans--that's the 5 second description of Basilisk. It took me a little while to get convinced, but overall I enjoyed the series. PLOT The basic plot of Basilisk is that there are 2 great ninja clans, Kouga and Iga. They hate each other and would kill each other but for this non-hostilities pact, which promptly gets dissolved at the beginning of the series when the shogun decides he will pit the clans against each other to determine who will become the next shogun. Ten warriors from each clan will fight to the death, and whichever side the... read more
Tokyo Majin: Season 1 (Parts 1 & 2) Review I picked up Tokyo Majin for two reasons: (1) It was available on Netflix and . . . I thought the guy on the cover was cute (yes, I admit it), and (2) A reviewer on Anime Planet mentioned that it reminded him of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one of my favorite TV shows. I really wanted... read more