Although rather old and damn famous as a retro series, this title never made that much of an impact on me. I disliked its dualisms and slow pacing right away. Even after all these years my initial opinion about it hasn’t changed much, despite being bombarded all the time by people saying how great it is. In the contrary, I lost even the few specs of respect I had for its good ideas, since in all honesty they have all been reused a hundred times in later stories, mostly in light novels.
- Animation is done by the king of anime series, studio Madhouse, so it looks great for its time.
- Direction is done by Kawajiri Yoshiaki, a man who likes moody, grim, and violent stories (Cyber City Oedo 808, Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D – Bloodlust, Highlander, Birdy the Mighty). I used to like his style a lot but after all these years I lost interest in moody shows with poor presentation. And trust me when I say he gives too much attension to short bursts of great animation and interesting concepts but otherwise fails to keep them captivating for longer than an hour.
- Based on the manga by CLAMP, one of the most famous team of mangaka in the 90’s. Most of their numerous works have been adapted to anime and most of them were a hit in airing shares and sales. They have a style that combines the cute with the dark and know how to create spicy premises and hot romantic pairings. Sadly their stories are good only as far as premises go; their plots always fall apart under the lack of proper handling of their themes. You end up reading or watching just for the kinky situations and give up on the story. A note must be said here that they are primirely make shoujo shows with lots of action and romance that ends up appealing to both genders. But since the shoujo is their base template, it is expected to focus almost entirely on character chemistry and visual aesthetics than… well, anything else.
ART SECTION: 8/10 [Do you like my invisible wolf?]
Analysis: General Artwork 2/2, Character Figures 2/2, Backgrounds 1/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 2/2
- Concerning the time the series aired, the animation was great, with high detail to both colors and shapes that don’t drop in quality in any given episode.
- The mix of a modern day Tokyo, along with mysticism and Judeo-Christian allusions was a nice spice. The idea using barriers during battles was still fresh back then and gave the feeling that it is not another Dragonball Z variant.
- None of the characters looks silly or stupid. They have a serious aura around them that usually fits with their powers and backdrop story. Plus, they have that bishonen look you may expect to see in girly series; so you may not like them if you prefer macho men and watermelon bimbos.
- The use of cinematics is high, from interesting camera angles to the use of lightning in order to express the mood of the moment. There are though several repeating frames and action clips that damage the overall feeling.
SOUND SECTION: 9/10 [Let’s leave the fate of the world for later and talk about the story of our lives first.]
Analysis: Voice Acting 3/3, Music Themes 4/4, Sound Effects 2/3
-The intro song is superb and really builds atmosphere around what the series is all about. The rest of the songs are equally tension building, although they lack variety and their repetitiveness may tire you.
-Voice acting is superb. It may sound too dramatic if you are not accustomed to the whiny Japanese style, but as a whiny Japanese style it is marvelous.
-Sound effects were ok, although I can’t say I loved them in any way. They played little importance in battles and even less before the atmosphere the music themes were offering.
STORY SECTION: 5/10 [My mommy doesn’t love me… Yes, the world is about to end too but who cares…]
Analysis: Premise 2/2, Pacing 0/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 0/2, Conclusion 2/2
You basically get a bunch of guys fighting over the future of the world. There is the older movie version which rushed through everything in terms of characterization and has a weird ending. Then they turned it to a movie where they stretched the plot so they can flesh out everybody before they start killing them. And now this is over, I don’t see anything in the story that can be labeled masterpiece or epic or whatever tens of thousands of people thought they saw in it. Here are the reasons.
1. The main idea behind the series alienated me from the start.
- The fate of humanity is to be decided by one man alone, making all the rest of humanity to seem unimportant.
- If it is his fate, as they keep saying, then why do they offer him a choice? You are not given the luxury to choose if you have an unbreakable destiny to fulfill.
- If the lead was the one to choose, then why did destiny create another chooser in a heartbeat when the first had doubts about it?
2. All the above made no sense. Plus, choosing between total annihilation or complete indifference about the course of humanity was ridiculous.
- Where are the middle choices?
- How about a compromise of some sorts?
- Why just “kill them all” or “let them be, without changing a thing”? Aren’t there exceptions? Aren’t there any brilliant or good-hearted people that deserve to survive?
3. Everything in the series was separated into two. Two saviors, two kinds of dragons, two possible futures, two seers, two women dying in order to create swords... It was way too dualistic, and thus fake.
4. For me, the whole “end of the world” theme was just an excuse for the characters to battle one another against their will.
5. Said battles, were not epic as they promised to be. It was not two teams of seven people setting Tokyo into flames in a Dragonball Z fashion. They were more like skirmishes, duals always performed one-on-one and ending quite fast, just for the heck of killing off the cast one by one.
6. Their deaths or victories had nothing to do with the fate of the world, as the final fate of humanity was in the hands of the main leads.
7. Plot wise, there was practically story found only in the first two and the last three episodes. All the rest were just focused on getting to know the characters while leaving the dreaded apocalypse hanging out to dry.
8. Even when the ending came, it was nothing much to see other than the conclusion to the confrontation of the protagonists. By no means did I feel they were fighting for the fate of the world. What world? There was no world. It was just them, and their personal dramas.
9. Did I mention how rushed it was? Very! It left me unsatisfied.
10. The whole concept with the magic barriers and people fighting with superpowers in order to find a trinket has been redone a hundred times ever since in light novels.
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10 [I am a simple man that levels buildings.]
Analysis: Presence 1/2, Personality 2/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 1/2, Catharsis 1/2
The cast numbered around 30, with each one having a different personality, backdrop and goals about his/her life. I hardly have encountered a cast so enriched and developed. Anime casts usually are a bunch of idiots that have no past or whose personality is just a quirk or the special power they use. Over here, everyone is as he/she is as a result of past events and personal choices. Everyone reacts to someone’s death or tragedy and doesn’t mysteriously forget them by the next episode. Very good so far.
My issues go with how realistic or easy to bond with all these characters is. Yes, they have realistic personalities but they don’t act realistically at all.
I personally don’t understand how tens of thousands of people felt a connection to characters that can fly in the air, create magic barriers and level buildings by throwing energy beams.
- They are not people; they are angels or dragons or generally un-human beings.
- Having dramatic pasts doesn’t make them tragic, if they can simply wave their pinky finger and sent anyone who tormented them in the stratosphere or magically undo anything that was destroyed.
- They are driven by fate; all those dreams they have about the future are bull. If you have a destiny to follow, you don’t have dreams or hopes. You are a robot, bound to do the inevitable.
- And how exactly could their dreams be accomplished in the first place? If the Earth side won, all of humanity would be destroyed. If the Heaven side won, then humanity would simply destroy itself. One way or another, there was no way to see their dreams accomplished.
VALUE & ENJOYMENT SECTIONS: 4/10 [Destiny doesn’t value personal opinions or feelings.]
Value Analysis: Historical Value 2/3, Rewatchability 0/3, Memorability 2/4
Enjoyment Analysis: Art 1/1, Sound 1/2, Story 1/3, Characters 1/4
It’s freaking famous and loved by a gazilion people. I personally loved the artwork, the main musical theme, its characters and the general idea of the story. Yet, I totally loath the plot or the reasonong behind everything. It was kinder-garden easy to see how fake everything unfolded. Yeah, sure, anime don’t have to be realistic, yet this series was based on human tragedy forced by fate and I didn’t buy it. Also, the special powers everyone had were more interesting to watch than enjoy them fight, as the battles were too short. So, it was a half-good treatment for me.
So, if the world wasn’t at stake, would you people feel helpless without some mysterious invisible force controlling your lives?
Neon Genesis Evagelion if you adore Judeo-Christian allusions.
Angel Sanctuary if you fancy yaoi angels.
Choujin Locke if you dig bloody telekinetic battles.
Basilisk, Gantz and Battle Royale if you love stories about people forced to turn against one another in a brutal manner.
Fate/Zero, Shakugan no Shana, Campione, Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai if you dig the gimmick with the tournaments and the superpowers and the magic barriers.