Posted on 30 September 2009 with categories: Monthly Summaries

Looking back at the past six months, it’s definitely been an interesting Spring and Summer Season. There weren’t any instant-classics, but still a number of outstanding series. But what I especially like about this season is the huge amount of consistently good series: a lot of series delivered, and a huge share of them did so consistently with nearly every episode.

As for this month, I don’t think I’ve ever had this much trouble picking my monthly number one. While I’m pretty sure about my favourites of the past season at this point, this month showed so many series surpassing themselves in an awesome finale that I really had to take those into account as well. Seriously, all of my top-4 series this month are number-one material, which made choosing the order between them really difficult.

In any case, a sensational month: there were hardly any series that disappointed. With two or three exceptions, every series I watched this month delivered in one way or the other, even though I watched much more anime at the same time than that I usually do!

#29 (29) – Saki – (6,5/10) – The last month was by far my least favourite part of this series, everything was cliché and predictable and I was just hoping for it to finally end, my suspense of disbelief has been completely broken at this point.
#28 (30) – Zan Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei – (7,25/10) – Thankfully this wasn’t the worst month for this series, and I have to admit that the caveman part was pretty funny. Overall though, Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei stopped being funny for me a long time ago, and the third season just took too little risks in order to change this.
#27 (28) – Chi’s New Address – (7,5/10) – Granted, as dull as the series was, the finale did was nice enough. It was a bit cheesy, but nevertheless a good idea executed reasonably well. Apart from the ending itself though. Way too melodramatic and overacted.
#26 (24) – Bakemonogatari – (7,5/10) – Episode 12 finally came and properly animated the characters, instead of focusing on just about everything that wasn’t relevant. However, in exchange we also had to sit through the Snake-arc, which was probably the weakest of the entire series…
#25 (26) – Needless – (7,5/10) – The problem with Needless is that it spends too much time talking. Sure there is the obvious fanservice which often reaches the points of abysmal, but this is supposed to be an action series. Too often we see people in the middle of dull exposition about their next strategy. First of all, these dialogues are so mind-numbingly boring that they instantly freeze all opponents that are in the neighbourhood (no, seriously), and second of all these strategies are often so incredibly stupid that it takes a complete idiot to fall for them. But (and this is a big but) occasionally episodes arrive with a truly awesome animation direction (episode 13 for example). These sorts of episodes are awesome to watch and remind me why I still haven’t dropped this bloody show.
#24 (18) – Taishou Yakyuu Musume – (7,75/10) – Well, it was a nice finale. Nothing you wouldn’t expect, but it’s been good, clean fun with this series.
#23 (25) – Hetalia Axis Powers – (8/10) – Nice month for Hetalia. Finally another classic episode appeared with the Christmas episode. This series really is at its best when it pokes fun at cultural differences.
#22 (21) – The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – (8/10) – The two final episodes of Sigh really made up for the rather boring first three episodes. Episode four made a very good point, while episode five was just enjoyable to watch. All that’s left now is to wait or season three.
#21 (15) – Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou – (8/10) – It was a nice finale. It didn’t sacrifice the chemistry between the characters for the sake of building up to that dramatic climax, and the humour was at its best during the final month. I especially liked that brother: he’s a very refreshing only-male-in-moe-show.
#20 (27) – 07-Ghost – (8,25/10) – An exciting finale, because Ayanami for once actually DID something. It’s a shame, he really would have been an awesome villain if the creators actually used him better. Still, a great finish for a rather flawed series.
#19 (19) – Canaan – (8,25/10) – The final episodes of Canaan kicked ass. While Alphard’s end may have been a bit out of character, it definitely redeemed itself as a good action-show, with the cast turning out strong enough to make it more than just a show with pretty pictures.
#18 (22) – Basquash! – (8,25/10) – Great to see that this series is closing off with an enjoyable finale. Gorgeous production-values courtesy of Satelight thankfully didn’t make this series into a waste of time after the first eight episodes.
#17 (16) – Umi Monogatari – (8,25/10) – The finale was a really emotional one, and it worked pretty well. Especially the final episode worked great as an ending that had an emotional impact, yet stayed away from cheese. Definitely the best month for this series.
#16 (14) – Umineko no Naku Koro ni – (8,25/10) – The third arc promises to be even better than the first two. I love these series in which you have no idea what’s going on, and Umineko surely has no intentions to make trying to understand it a walk in the park. This month especially did well in portraying the hopelessness of trying to prove everything without magic. I’m really curious to see how the creators are planning to write themselves out of this one.
#15 (20) – Kuruneko – (8,25/10) – 2009 has really been an awesome year for short series with 5-minute episode. Kuruneko only gets wittier as time goes on and more cats come into the picture. There’s a lot of creativity put into this, despite its simplistic nature.
#14 (6) – Shangri-La – (8,5/10) – Not the best month for Shangri-la. I really liked it the best when it threw buckets of plot twists at the same time that made the setting even more intriguing. The finale instead was solid. Well-built up, although the ending itself was rather lazy. Nevertheless, it remains an excellent series for those who have a big suspense of disbelief.
#13 (7) – Cross Game – (8,5/10) – Really, the only thing about Cross Game that isn’t wonderfully consistent is the very small set of baseball matches that pop up once in a while. Aside from that, the slice of life is so delightfully enjoyable and witty. However, this month was a bit of a step back from previous months, simply because the creators have gotten a bit unsubtle with their hints that Kou and Aoba are into each other.
#12 (13) – Marie & Gali – (8,75/10) – I’m still amazed at how incredibly consistent this series is. Every single episode manages to be absolutely hilarious in the way that it takes simple scientific concepts and drives them to the absurd. It’s a series with an awesome sense of humour and a pool of creativity that still seems nowhere near exhausted at this point. Definitely my favourite comedy during the past half year.
#11 (2) – Kemono no Souja Erin – (8,75/10) – This series just keeps exploring its own borders, doesn’t it? This month may have been a bit of a step down from the previous one, but nevertheless that birth-scene was very impressive, and you can see that it’s still building up.
#10 (11) – Pandora Hearts – (8,75/10)

Pandora ended with an anime-original ending, but that didn’t prevent it from being really good. The story made sense in canon, it closed off with a bang and yet left enough open for a potential second season. It perhaps wasn’t the most intense month for this series, but it was all-around enjoyable, and I really hope for that second season to come.

#9 (4) – Aoi Hana – (8,75/10)

Aoi Hana closed off with a “life goes on”-finale, which was a perfect way to close off the series. It’s a shame that the Noise-timeslot disappeared, because its series have really been consistently awesome in what they did. Here’s to hoping that it’ll return for the Winter-season.

#8 (9) – Full Metal Alchemist – Brotherhood – (8,75/10)

Excellent month for Full Metal Alchemist. The action was very creative and well-written, and on top of that the plot twists just kept coming here. This has really turned into a no-nonsense series, which is so completely different in atmosphere compared to the first series.

#7 (8) – GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class – (8,75/10)

This month yet again was a very consistent one for GA: it was consistently enjoyable, creative, unpredictable and fun to watch. It definitely stands out as one of the under-watched gems of the Summer Season.

#6 (5) – Spice and Wolf – (9/10)

Spice and Wolf closed off with a very strong finale, which really pushed the characters in a new direction. It’s been a series with drama that combines subtlety with conflict, and it really managed to surpass the first season for me.

#5 (10) – Guin Saga – (9/10)

An excellent finale for a series that has been so under-looked for the past season. The politics and action meshed really well, and just about everything developed. Now where the hell is that second season?

#4 (3) – Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 – (9/10)

The finale was very daring, and completely different from the relatively action-packed first half. Ultimately though, it gave a whole new dimension to this series and it closed off this series with a heart-wrenching finale. This is Noitamina at its finest.

#3 (1) – Phantom – (9/10)

Yeah, so what? I like endings with a twist and it’s not like that ending didn’t fit in the series. Phantom closed off with an excellent ending in my opinion. The finale did provide closure for the entire series, and yet it never abandoned the subtle storytelling that made the rest of the series into my favourite of the past half year. The final twist is definitely controversial one, but I liked it. It perfectly fitted the whole themes of the series.

#2 (17) – Konnichiwa Anne – (9/10)

And this is why I love the World Masterpiece Theatre. This series managed to pick itself back up magnificently this month, with a number of heart-wrenching episodes and a massive amount of character-development. These are things that absolutely no girl of Anne’s age has to go through.

#1 (12) – Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z-Hen! – (9/10)

That finale was FUCKING EPIC! It knew exactly what it was: action and plot twists, and boy how it delivered on them. This exceeded all of my expectations and you know what, it had the best ending of the season. Now THIS is exactly what an action-series should be! It’s indeed a bit of a strange Top-2 I have this month, but I really wanted to reward these two series who have massively improved themselves since last month, compared to the more consistent #3, #4 and #5, even if I consider those three far superior when looking at their overall picture.

Posted on 28 September 2009 with categories: Top 10 Anime

My previous top 10 was rather badly written and mostly just a fanboy-fest, so I decided to rewrite it from scratch. Because everyone seemed to find it a better idea to just go with a top 20, here is my reworked top list of the 20 anime that I consider to be the best of the best.

Some notable series that didn’t make the list are Toward the Terra (great science fiction plot), Hi no Tori (excellently told remake of Osamu Tezuka’s classic), Mysterious Cities of Gold (old yet awesome children’s adventure) and le Chevalier d’Eon (excellent storytelling in 17th Century France).


#20: Now and Then, Here and There
I’d like to start of this top 20 with what is probably one of the darkest series about a bunch of kids in existence. Now and Then, Here and There isn’t afraid to touch upon what most series consider taboo to show the harsh realities of child abuse and extortion, and it does so magnificently. Its second half may be a bit less impressive than the first, but that first half is an amazingly written story about an at first sight very annoying young kid.


#19: Mushishi
Ever since I finished this series, I’ve kept looking for another series that would match the terrific execution of Mushishi, but it really does seem that it is one of a kind. Every episode shows a different yet deep story about the clash between humans and strange creatures called `Mushi`. There are many different episodic series out there in which the lead character travels around and meets different people with their own problems, but out of all of them I consider Mushishi to be the best. The storytelling is always poignant and yet natural, and it always has a serene atmosphere. There are a bunch of stories near the end that miss the mark a bit, and the quiet pacing is definitely not for those who want action, but this is still a series that very rightfully established itself as a classic.


#18: Figure 17 – Tsubasa & Hikaru
Figure 17 is another very slowly paced series: it really takes its time to slowly let its story evolve, but that really allowed an incredibly in-depth look at the two lead characters. The long and slow slice of life scenes also formed a stark contrast with the action scenes, which were dark and brutal, and put the protagonists against what probably are some of the smartest monsters out there. with a fantastic OP and soundtrack, Figure 17 took various risks and it will be boring to a lot of people, but for me it really worked.


#17: Kaze no Shoujo Emily
Lucy Maud Montgomary has been the most famous for her Anne of Green Gables, which is a very fine story as well, but in my opinion Emily of the New Moon (or Kaze no Shoujo Emily, as it’s called in Japanese) is even better. It may not be as realistic as Anne of Green Gables (but then again, Anne of Green Gables is one of the most realistic anime ever), but it creates a very engaging and heart-warming drama around its four lead characters, who all have their own talents and are struggling to develop them. It’s got these wonderful themes of working towards your dreams, but the best part of this series is its finale, in which the characters all grow up and you get to see exactly what remains of these dreams. It’s a deep and insightful shoujo-series, with a strong yet flawed female lead character Emily.


#16: Mouryou no Hako
Mouryou no Hako is quite possibly one of the smartest anime out there. As a mystery-horror series, it packs an amazingly creative back-story, but it’s really the execution that sets this series apart. With a huge focus on complex dialogues and monologues to flesh out the setting, story and everything around it, the creators were able to build up this series really well until the eventual climax, which ranks among my favourite endings. Obviously this isn’t a series for those who don’t like series with lots of talking. In fact, there are two particular episodes that consist out of nothing but a bunch of people sitting in a room and talking, which can really get on your nerves if you don’t have the patience for it.


#15: Strange Dawn
Fantasy is a popular genre in anime, but Strange Dawn sets itself apart from the others by subverting a ton of clichés and stereotypes that are associated with the genre. It’s got a very strong cast, and it puts a huge amount of detail in just about everything. The chibified characters may lead you to believe that this is going to be a light-hearted adventure, but make no mistake: this series is dark and mature. It’s perhaps a bit too dramatic at times, but it remains a riveting series that continuously plays with your emotions. The characters are incredibly well portrayed and acted, and especially the two lead characters are a joy to watch throughout the entire series.


#14: Les Miserables: Shoujo Cosette
Those who know this blog probably know that I’m a huge fan of the World Masterpiece Theatre. The way these series manage to flesh out and develop their characters is nearly unrivalled. the series that got me into this franchise was Les miserables, and IMO it’s also the best one I’ve seen so far. It starts out like a regular shoujo series about a cute girl that lost her parents, but slowly it turns to a small revolution in the 19th century France. With a huge cast of characters that complement each other extremely well, this ended up as an epic series. Fans of the book do need to get warned though. A lot made it past the censors, but there’s one particular twist that unfortunately didn’t make it. I think you can imagine which one it is, and I agree that it could have made this amazing series even better if it was included.


#13: Fantastic Children
Few people will have any clue about what the hell is going on during the first part of Fantastic Children, but its storyline soon grows into one of epic proportions. It provides a very imaginative setting and does a fantastic job in portraying its characters, who are all in the middle of it. With some of the most amazing plot twists out there, Fantastic Children always kept you guessing at what was going to happen next.


#12: Kaiba
Kaiba really was a show that was its time far ahead. Masaaki Yuasa in front of the direction gave this series an absolutely unique look, and the setting it played with was full of the most creative ideas. In fact, I can hardly remember any idea that wasn’t creative. The way you have no idea what’s going on, and how the story slowly unravels as you go along only makes it better. Kaiba is really an outstanding series in every way, aside from its ending perhaps, which does end up a bit rushed for such an otherwise excellent series.


#11: Bokura no
Bokura no is one of those series that took a huge gamble and went with a different story than the manga it was based on, which turned off a lot of manga-readers. However, from the perspective of someone who hasn’t read the manga, there really is a lot to like about this series. The premise of the whole series is dark and haunting, and the creators make optimal use of this when fleshing out the characters. The graphics are simple, but they fit the series extremely well, resulting in what is in my opinion Gonzo’s prettiest series. The way the plot develops is one that always keeps you guessing, and the series completely switches mood and themes every few episodes or so, while still remaining consistent as a whole. It’s a very varied and engaging series, that even though it apparently lost a bit of depth from the manga, still stands among my favourites.


#10: Birdy the Mighty Decode 2
I’m a HUGE fan of Kazuki Akane, the director. Time and time again, his distinct and powerful style of storytelling gets the utter best out of any premise, and he is my favourite director by far. At first, Birdy the Mighty Decode, a remake of an OVA from the nineties, didn’t seem up the same standard. The first season has a lot of flaws, and is even flat-out horrible for those who hate teenagers in anime. Still, the second season improves on it in every single way. It has a dark and mature storyline that is a joy to watch, from beginning to end. It has some of the best animated action-scenes I’ve seen, and at the same time it manages to flesh out the characters in subtle and believable ways, while also paying attention to bring the city it’s set in come to life, rather than making the characters act among a bunch of cardboard boxes.


#9: Shoujo Kakumei Utena
Well, what is there to say about Utena that hasn’t been said yet? It’s an absolute classic, that takes the concept of weirdness to a whole new level, and somehow makes it awesome. Just about everything in this series is symbolic, even the seemingly endlessly repeated frames that give a strange ritualistic feel to the series. With a rock-solid direction and incredibly deep characters that get explored almost non-stop, this is one of the most unique shoujo series out there and still stands strong as such more than ten years after it originally aired. Heck, I’m not sure whether to call it shoujo at times. It’s got so many different genres put in one, I’m hardly sure what exactly to classify it as.


#8: The Third: Aoi Hitomi no Shoujo
You might wonder why I still put The Third at such a high place in this list. While seemingly random at first, I still consider The Third to be the single best series at fleshing out a single character. Honoka still stands as one of my favourite characters ever, simply because she’s so down to earth, and yet incredibly versatile. This isn’t the series which made my favourites because of an incredibly complex story, or some incredibly emotional or exciting parts. Instead, it is an all around enjoyable series that really manages to bring its cast alive, portraying them as ordinary people rather than a bunch of stereotypes. This series knows when to be subtle, and when to pack a punch and I still gladly remember it, even though it’s been three years since I watched it.


#7: Haibane Renmei
It’s interesting: the more I think back to this series, the better it becomes. Haibane Renmei started off a bit slow, but it closed off with one of the strongest finales I have ever seen. It has both a very imaginative setting, and truly excels at its character-development. This incredibly in-depth look at its main characters is what sold this series for me, and in the end this turned out to be one of the most emotionally intensive series I have ever watched, despite its short length.


#6: Shion no Ou
Shion no Ou: THE series that showed that board games aren’t boring. This series has one of the most addictive pacings I have seen, which especially in its second half gets the best out of the characters. This is a series with a really creative animation director, who makes sure that just about every shot is unique and kicks ass. The Shougi matches in this series are also of the kind that just keep your attention, whether the outcome is predictable or not. At times, the series has a bit of trouble mixing its murder mystery correctly with the Shougi matches, but the end results definitely pay off, with the characters going through memorable changes, and the murder mystery getting enough time to finish with a great conclusion.


#5: .Hack//Sign
The past entries have probably made you suspect that I like a lot of series that take their time in telling their story. The epitome of this effect is of course .Hack//Sign. The pacing is incredibly slow, but it offers an deep and imaginative story in return. I especially like how they took the concept of MMORPGs, and focused on its essence: socializing, while leaving the endless grinding and random battles mostly for what they are. .Hack//Sign was the first anime I watched from fansubs, back when I discovered the wonders of the Internet, and in retrospect I couldn’t have chosen a better series to start with. Deep, philosophical, smart and unfortunately very slow for anyone without patience, I still consider this among my favourites.


#4: Simoun
Simoun: the single best character-study I have ever seen. There are these kinds of series that just can’t be classified in a genre, and Simoun is definitely one of them. It takes a lot of different directions as it explores the lives of the various characters in this series; every single one of them deep, imaginative and impactful. Just about every character in this series left a deep impression on me, and not just the main ones. The plot progression of this series is so incredibly fresh that I have seen nothing like it, even in the years after it there hasn’t been any series that tried to even come close to its brilliance.


#3: Vision of Escaflowne
While a lot of my favourites are slow-paced, my Top 3 consists out of fast-paced and action-packed series that combine fantasy with science-fiction in one way or the other, all linked to a main character that grew up in our “normal” world. It’s perhaps a bit of a formulaic concept because there are lot of series that simply abuse this premise in an uninspired fantasy-series, but these series show the amazing things that you can achieve when this concept is pulled off right. The Visions of Escaflowne is set in a rich and imaginative setting and it has a strong story that only gets better as it goes on. It’s a multi-layered epic with a great action and direction (courtesy of Kazuki Akane) and even though I watched this more than four years ago it still stands among my favourites.


#2: Noein – To Your Other Self
Noein is another series by Kazuki Akane, and out of all of his series this is the one that shows him at his best as a director. It’s got an absolutely unique art style that’s messy, yet very appealing to the eyes and with a selection of some of the most amazing action scenes. It explores issues as time travel, alternative dimensions and more personal ones as distance from the ones you care about. It’s got a cast of very appealing characters, who at the same time remain natural and feel like a couple of real teenagers. Although it does have its share of teenaged angst that might turn off a few people at times, and it also could have used a bit more consistency in its pacing, but with a great characterization and a fascinating plot, this series still stands among my favourites.


#1: Mahou Shoujotai
I guess a lot of people found it strange that this was my number one, especially after that awful fanboyish “review” I wrote about it in one of the early days of this site, but for me Mahou Shoujotai is the series that has made the most impact on me out of all of the series I’ve watched. It’s about a bunch of kids, and tends to be immature, but what I found so amazing about it is its direction and the experimental nature of the series. At the time, it was for as far as I know the first anime that recorded the voices before the animation process, and the neat thing is that you can actually see the creators improve and get better. In the same way, there are tons of ideas stuffed into this series in just about every aspect. The direction made sure to get the best out of the short 8-minute episodes and there were always very creative and immersing camera-angles present. The story explores traditions and customs, and the endless optimism of Alice really stroke a chord with me. But yeah, this endless optimism can get on people’s nerves. The characters in this series are diverse and endearing, but they can easily get on people’s nerves due to their strong beliefs and childish outlooks. Nevertheless, I consider it to be the best anime ever, and I really doubt that any series is going to come and take that place away. Although it would be awesome if I were wrong in this.

So that’s it.These are the 20 anime I consider best at this point. As it’s been a while since I posted my last top 10: what is your current top 10 (or 20, or whatever) Anime?

Posted on with categories: Konnichiwa Anne



I really like the World Masterpiece Theatre, but damn. There are times when it can be so goddamned cruel to its characters. It’s episodes like this that are heart-wrenching, simply because of what the characters have to go through. This was such a powerful episode, but oh my god… it was hard to watch Anne with the situation she’s been thrust in.

So Bert is dead. He left a considerable debt behind due to his drinking problem. Johanna’s parents are willing to pay this debt, take care of her and her four children. Only Anne is left out of the picture and has to be put into an freaking orphanage. Okay, so there turns out to be a guy who’s willing to take Anne in. Johanna is then forced to give Anne over to a TOTAL STRANGER, who’s going to take care of her, provided that she takes care of his children. These children turn out to be two pairs of twins, two older sisters, and another baby that’s about to be born. Suddenly Anne’s life with the Thomas Family is starting to look like a goddamned walk in the park. I knew that this was going to happen because of Anne of Green Gables, but damn. Seeing it actually animated only shows how many tasks are put to such a young girl… The only bright side at this point is that the father looks like a nice guy compared to what a bastard Bert was, however that brings us to another problem: this guy is also going to die, isn’t he?

On top of that, this episode definitively said goodbye to the Thomas family as well. In this episode, finally another reference to Elisa appeared. Seriously, I had totally forgotten about her, but she was the one who gave Anne a happy early childhood (see me talking about this for a character who only is 9 years old? How many others of Anne’s age have received this much depth already?)

Something tells me that the new family is going to be fine. It’s going to be exactly what this series is good at, only much worse than the Thomas Family (who finally grew up, dammit!). I guess that it’s here that Anne goes to school, and with that I have absolutely no idea whether that’s going to turn out all-right or not. It should prove to be great slice of life, provided that the creators can get the characters for Anne’s classmates right, instead of making them into a bunch of stereotypes. And hey, the creators can’t create a worse teacher than Henderson at this point, can they?
Rating: ** (Very hard to watch, but Excellent nonetheless)

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews, Guin Saga



Guin Saga: epic fantasy done absolutely right. It’s based on a series of light novels, counting in at a whopping 130 volumes, and these 26 episodes animate the first 19 volumes of the story. It’s a terrific combination between classic fantasy and politics, Satelight did a great job in bringing the whole story to life.

There’s a lot of things at which this series stands out, among which is its absolutely HUGE cast of characters. Despite this size, a lot of them still manage to stand out as individuals, with their own roles, motives and purposes. it’s also no wonder that the story in this series is incredibly complex, successfully combining king-level politics together with small-scale battles and fights. A lot of the major characters go through quite a bit of development throughout the series, and especially the developments of Remus and Amnelis, who both start out as the most useless characters of the entire cast, is memorable.

As for the graphics, the story Guin Saga is so epic that you’d need the budget of a Hollywood movie in order to fully do it credit. Satelight obviously didn’t have this, but they definitely tried. Despite the limited budget, this series is full of eye-candy. The graphical designs in this series are absolutely amazing. The architecture and landscapes are incredibly imaginative, the character-designs make every single character unique, even the most insignificant ones that don’t have any dialogue (with the only exception those soldiers that always have their helmets on). On top of that it also has an amazing soundtrack to complement the epic atmosphere, with an OP and ED that I would rank among the best of the past half year.

But yeah, in order to make these amazing graphics possible, sacrifices had to be made. The animation is often jerky and rushed, but this series especially shows its weakest side during the battles between huge armies, which end up just as an onslaught of repeated frames and bad animation that fail to capture the grandeur of such large-scale battles. Thankfully, the creators realize this and as the show goes on they focus more and more on what they’re good at: short and sweet action-scenes, politics and character-development. And they do this really well.

I wouldn’t exactly recommend Guin Saga for those who are looking for just action. There’s Shin Mazinger for those people. Instead, the Guin Saga has a bit of everything: politics, action and character-development. If that sounds interesting to you, then by all means give this series a chance, because it’s one of the most epic shows to have come out in the past year along with the new Mazinger.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 9/10
Posted on with categories: Guin Saga



What an ending. Out of all of the shows that ended in the past weeks that still need a second season (which really are a lot), Guin Saga deserves it the most. This episode only made this series even more intriguing, but at the same time it’s also a bit disheartening that out of all those shows, no second season has been announced at all, apart from a small OVA for GA. I have this fear that in these times of economic crisis, only the series that sell really well end up getting their second season, and that really puts the Guin Saga at a disadvantage.

But yeah, in this episode we get the first real hint that the thing that possessed Remus isn’t going to be an entirely good thing for him. Sure, it made his testicles drop and gave him the much-needed courage, but there has to be a reason for the thing to have done this, and I doubt that it did this for Remus’ sake.

The fight between Istvan and Guin was also very intense. When this series animates one-on-one fights, they really kick ass, and the creators really manage to portray the sheer force of Guin’s strength. I was a bit afraid that Guin was going to remain in Parro after he saved Remus and Linda, but at this point it really looks like the second season, if it’s ever going to show up, is going to focus on him on his own, rather than as Remus and Linda’s bodyguard.

Overall, my top 3 of series that aired during the past spring season is at this point pretty much 1) Phantom 2) Shangri-La 3) Guin Saga, although there are still three strong series that still haven’t finished yet (Konnichiwa Anne, Full Metal Alchemist and Cross Game), and there is a chance that one of these is going to take over one of these places if they manage to finish with a really strong final part, but for now Guin Saga really stands among my favourites of the past half year. It really was nearly everything that epic fantasy should be, save from the large-scale battles.

The ED, which was played in its entirety in this episode, really deserves to stand among the greatest EDs that aired this past half year. The singer really has an amazing voice, and the whole song really complements the epic nature of this series.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 27 September 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



I’m not a big fan of moe, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t give these types of series a chance. I’ve been proven wrong often enough times about these types of shows, and there are plenty of series that may look overly chichéd and stereotypical on the outside, yet turn out to be surprising gems on the inside. I was hoping Saki to be the same, and for a while it indeed looked like this was the case, but in the end it unfortunately ended up too much stuck in its own clichés and stereotypes to really develop into something worthwhile.

There are just too many fundamental problems with this series. This series is about Mah-Jong. In preparation for this series, you can clearly see that the creators read through all of the rules of Mah-Jong, they looked up all of the major strategies that can be used to win, but on the other hand it also becomes so obvious that they’ve never actually sat down to play a game, in order to get the feeling of how a game normally progresses.

And so, the matches in this series aren’t decided by strategy, but instead by pure luck. Matches basically revolve around who can pull the biggest Deus ex Machina near the end of every match. These magical powers enable the characters to cheat in all sorts of ways, like becoming invisible, getting extra luck when the rounds are arranged in a particular way, and even blatantly giving all of your opponent crappy hands so that you can do whatever you please. The creators don’t even make use of this. The matches all end in the most predictable ways, with no attempt whatsoever to spice them up beyond their original set-up (which is just a courtesy of the manga it’s based on anyway).

This would have all been forgiven if the characters made up for it. Unfortunately, there too it ultimately disappoints. This series has about thirty named characters, and nearly all of them just end up being one-dimensional clichés and stereotypes, with the few attempts that are made to develop them being the most predictable and clichéd attempts ever, so that doesn’t really help either.

In the end, there are just three characters that actually resemble characters and don’t exist based on their exaggerated quirks, and those are just a bunch of minor side-characters. They definitely manage to spice up the series when they’re in the focus, but they’re just too overshadowed by the lead characters, Saki and Nodoka who form one of the most obvious lesbian pairings I have ever seen. There’s nothing subtle about their romance at all. It’s just a constant onslaught of blushing and strange looks when these two are near each other.

But by far the worst character in this series has to be the only boy in the entire series. This guy is so incredibly obnoxious that he makes every scene he’s in a pain to sit through. His endless fantasies about Nodoka’s bosom just get worse and worse as time goes by, and overall he remains an utterly pointless character. There’s no reason whatsoever to have him in this series!

I recently (read: half an hour ago) realized that this series is quite similar to Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou: both series start out with a flawed premise of lots and lots of moe, seemingly stereotypical characters, magic and huge boobs. And that’s all the more of a shame that YWGM did end up creating something enjoyable with a tongue-in-the-cheek execution and fun chemistry, while Saki kept hanging with a bland and unimaginative execution that always picks the most predictable option to go forward. With one of the most obnoxious soundtracks of the season (I’m not the biggest fan of J-Pop, and it’s music like that that’s exactly the reason why!), it fails to move beyond mediocrity.

Storytelling: 7/10
Characters: 7/10
Production-Values: 7/10
Setting: 7/10
Posted on with categories: Full Metal Alchemist - Brotherhood



Okay, I was wrong last episode: Envy didn’t die, his arm just disintegrated. Should have known. Anyway, this was a pretty exciting episode with a lot of interesting twists. Ed and Lin spend the entire episode inside Gluttony’s “stomach”, along with Envy, but apart from that a lot more interesting stuff went on.

But oh my god, Envy’s true form. I’m not sure who exactly came up with the designs for that… thing, but I can’t seem to think of anything that resembles it. It also turns out that he was the one who triggered the war in Ishbal, which means that the Humonculi actually tried to get rid of Ishbal once. What exactly didn’t they want the Ishbal’s to find out? Does it have to do with the research of Scar’s brother?

Hawkeye also turns out to get reassigned to be the Fuhrer’s assistant, which is a very risky move. If he wanted to use her to find out who’s helping her, he could have just assigned her to one of his allies, and have this ally report to him so that they can later systematically eliminate all of them. Why would he want to put himself at such a risk? Is he that confident that Hawkeye isn’t going to cause a problem for him, or is there more behind it?

And to think that the headquarters of the Humonculi lies right in the middle of Central City. it makes sense, with Bradley in control, it’s a great place to hide out. It also makes me wonder: before Bradley was created was there someone else playing Fuhher?
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Cross Game



I do hope that the second half of this series is going to introduce some sort of challenge for Kou, because with this episode, it’s already getting boring to watch these matches in which Kou and Azuma dominate the entire game. I tried to like this series’ baseball matches, but in the end it’s really something that Touch did much, much better.

Now that we’re at the halfway point, it’s about time for Kou and Aoba’s relationship to develop again. In this episode, they again dropped various hints that they’re into each other, including Aoba at last getting impressed by Kou’s pitching-work, but we’ve reached the point at which it’s beginning to get repetitive. We need some more conflict to spice things up.

This episode finally gave us a good look at what may look like two promising rivals, but the creators still need to put a lot of time in them to flesh them out properly. At the moment they’re nothing really special yet.
Rating: (Enjoyable)

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews



The first season of Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei was awesome. It had wit, and came across as a really fresh comedy-series. The second season also had a number of hilarious episodes, but at the same time lost its edge, became repetitive and turned stereotypical. Season three in its turn continued to sap away all creativity, turning it into a repetitive bore-fest. It’s the perfect example of why you shouldn’t milk out comedies.

At this point, Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei has really exhausted all of its good jokes. The first season had me laughing nearly continuously, while your average episode in this season only managed to generate a chuckle out of me once or twice if it was lucky. Episodes are yet again divided into three chapters, each looking at a different type of social commentary, but most of them are just rehashes of some previous chapter, without really adding anything new. The ones that aren’t ripped off are about such a ridiculously obscure part of society that it’s hard to care about them.

The characters aren’t better off. On top of the fact that they still haven’t changed beyond their stereotypes, this season also gives a lot of them some sort of obnoxious catch-phrase that they tend to repeat in nearly every single episodes. There’s the psycho girl with her periods and commas that appear on the screen, the stalker girl with her “you were there? Always”, the foreign girl with her pantyshots, the hikkikomori with her fanservice and the fangirl with her fantasies. On top of that, every episode starts with a nonsensical audio story that just pointlessly goes on and on, and every episode ends with an even more obnoxious drawing game that already got old in the second season.

Granted, the better episodes of this series are near the end, and I have to agree that the cavemen part was pretty funny, but that in no way makes up for the rest of the series. If you’re interested in this series, watch up to episode 6 of the second season. Beyond that, it only gets worse. Still, at least the graphics in this series look as good as ever. The direction and character-designs make this series nice to look at (unlike that other Shaft-show, but more on that once it finishes), but in a season with so many other good comedies, this stands out as an incredibly repetitive series that was already milked out ages ago.

Storytelling: 6/10
Characters: 6/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 7/10
Posted on 26 September 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



I love remakes! Believe it or not, but out of all adaptations, (ignoring the obvious recaps as Dragonball Kai, of course), these type of anime nearly always try to find ways to improve on their original series, resulting in some of the most amazing series. The same goes for the new Mazinger: this series knows exactly what it is: epic, mecha and action. And it has been by far my favourite action-series of the past half year.

Do NOT get fooled by the fact that this is based on a cheesy mecha series. The original Mazinger was the series that popularized the mecha genre, and it consisted (for as far as I can assume) out of a bunch of episodic stories in which the titular Mazinger would end up defeating some sort of monster that was set out to destroy the world. Let me say that the plot of the new Mazinger is NOTHING like this. It’s just taken the basic concept, characters, and did something totally different with it. The series is in no single way episodic, and it pays homage to the old series while delivering enough of its own ideas as well.

The creators put a lot of effort into fleshing out the past of this series, for as much impact as possible. They created a complex back-story around ancient Greek myths, science and betrayal. This really allows for a superb cast. Especially the half-male half-female Count Ashura has to be one of the most awesome villains in Giant Robot history, but the rest of the cast also truly shines.

But what really makes this series EPIC is the direction. The action is truly over the top, but for once they get it right and successfully mix it in with the more serious parts of the story. Every episode consistently delivers on the action, while also taking care of the plot, and it finds a really good combination between the two, so that they only strengthen each other. The creators really cleverly throw in all sorts of huge plot twists in the middle of the action in order to spice it up even more, with a number of truly awesome results.

True, this series does have the tendency to pull a lot of things out of its ass, but when you look at the big picture it all still makes sense. And besides, a lot of this is about secret back-up plans that the characters had reserved, which of course gets a bit boring if you have to go through all of them beforehand.

Overall, if you like over the top action you really should give this series a chance. It’s a series that knows exactly what it is, and it delivers as much epic action as possible with an awesome plot that always manages to pull a number of great plot twists. With an ending that I consider to be the single best of 2009 (no seriously, the final episodes in this series completely blew me away), this series exceeded all my expectations. This is a series on which you can always count to be epic.

Storytelling: 10/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 8/10

Shoutbox

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  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 05:39 PM)
    Well well well….Death Billiards is getting a full anime. The short was a great and does have potentail. I like. I like a lot.
  • Syndrome
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 04:23 PM)
    Ok, fourth episode of Psycho Pass was really good. I was afraid of what this second season would looks like, I’m strating now to get hyped.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 02:25 PM)
    @Realist: Stereotyping is intrinsic to human beings in too many ways, so much so that even when a “safe”, “attractive”, “normal” looking person is caught out they still become surprised at the revelation, even if they admit that stereotyping is wrong.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 02:14 PM)
    I think I’ve got a good handle on Yamaguchi Mikoto as an author now, I also read the first volume of Mayonaka and as I thought, it began deceptively and that maybe there wouldn’t be too much to it, but turns into something surprising, far more interesting.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 01:38 PM)
    @Trass, I can sort of understand that. Though as you likely noticed, psgels isn’t as active as he used to be. So rather than let this blog die a slow death it would be better to see something done with it. We ain’t prefect but well people improve over time.
  • Trass
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 12:47 PM)
    I came back here after a long while and saw how the blog is active again. I was really excited but then found out it’s not psgels who are writing the posts anymore… I’m happy but really sad at the same time ;w;
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 08:31 AM)
    *this time
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 08:28 AM)
    @K-off: it wasn’t the most visually impressive episode anyways, so it’s alright is time.
  • k-off
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 08:19 AM)
    @Bam I know you’re going to point it out, so yes, I know the screenshots aren’t very good…But it was very difficult for me to find a decent clip that wasn’t a spoiler in this episode.
  • ninjarealist
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 06:42 AM)
    I’m shocked by the news that Jian Ghomeshi has been an evil rapist this entire time. I listened to his show for so long and he always seemed like such a teddy bear. Just shows that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

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