Posted on 31 December 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews

What a tear-jerker of a movie. I don’t exactly know how this movie compared to the original TV series of the seventies, but damn, it was so worth it. An excellent recommendation if you’re looking for a sad and depressing movie that’s full of emotions.

This is just one of those recap movies that just works: the creators successfully stuffed the story it’s based on in 90 minutes, and they more than gave the lead character of Marco credit. When a recap movie can get such a huge emotional response out of me like with this movie, I really don’t have any complaints.

The story of Marco is an endearing one, as he travels from the middle of Italy to the middle of Argentine in order to see his mother again. The reason why this movie works is his fantastic characterization throughout his journey. He’ such a lovable character and yet he has to go through so many ordeals in order to get to his destination. And it’s not like this is a stereotypical world in which everyone is against him either: some people are nice, others are just tired of street-kids and treat him roughly. Like most of Nippon Animation’s literary adaptations, the setting is very realistic.

As for the flaws… it does make use of the “useless mother”-cliche, but heck: for once it’s central to the plot, so it’s not that big of a deal. At heart, this movie doesn’t just show the ordeals of a small kid, but also tries to show us who he is, what drives him and what he wants to be when he grows up. It’s a movie that has lots of the charms of a regular World Masterpiece Theatre series, cropped up into just an hour and a half. I’m still amazed at how well and complete the result turned out.

In any case, this is the last thing you’ll see of me this decade. Have a happy end of the year, everyone!

Storytelling: 9/10 – Realistic, heart-wrenching and yet not overdoing the drama.
Characters: 9/10 – Marco is such an engaging character.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Simple graphics, but the animation is fluid and the music is powerful.
Setting: 9/10 – Ah, the realism!
Posted on with categories: Yearly Summaries

Overall 2009 wasn’t exactly the best year ever, but it still had its share of awesome series and concepts. Here’s my list of the ones that stood out the most:

Biggest Disappointment

Sora wo Miageru Shoujo no Hitomi ni Utsuru Sekai

Gundam 00 is a heavy contender in this category. While the first season had a complex political story, the second season merely degenerated into “Kill Ribbons”. The side-plots hardly ever went anywhere, not to mention the dumbest way to waste military resources ever with the Trans-Am Kamikaze Gagas. Still, even this was trumped by the Munto Remake. Here the characters had the chance to remake a series with a fascinating setting and give it give it the time it deserves. So what do they do? A bloody recap! If this was any other studio it might make sense as a way to save budget and all, but this is KYOANI: out of all the production-companies out there, they should be the least worried about money-problems.

Worst First Episode

Abunai Sisters

I still consider it as one of the highlights of this year that I was actually asked by a professional company to review the first episode of this, but I really can’t deny that it was also the worst first episode of not just this year, but of the whole decade. There were so many things wrong with it, the voice acting, the humour, the graphics.

Worst Series

Zan Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei

Of course, this award only goes for the series that I actually completed, OVAs and Movies excluded. I didn’t watch any series that were too terrible this year, but the bottom of the ladder is for me populated by Saki (too much moe, too many clichés and stereotypes, way too little substance), Kurokami (pointless action with a very underdeveloped backstory), Munto TV (only what? 3,5 episodes of new material?). But this one really takes the cake. 90% of the time it’s just not funny and simply repeating itself over and over again, and the very few funny moments didn’t excuse the pain it was for me to sit through this.

Most Promising Studio

David Production

This is the award I hand out every year for production-companies that are either new or have put forth major improvements. This year, I’m in no doubt of which studio to give it to. David Production came from absolutely nowhere, and yet they already put forth two very impressive series with their own distinctive style, which both were very refreshing for their respective genre: Ristorante Paradiso is a very gentle slice of life series, while Armed Librarians had a very bold execution, breaking heaps of clichés and stereotypes in the process. Of course, there’s also that matter of Dogs Bullets and Carnage, but ah well.

Best Animation Studio


Bones really surpassed itself this year in terms of animation. It didn’t have just one awesome-looking series, it had four of them that I loved (Bonen no Xamdou, Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, Tokyo Magnitude and Darker than Black Ryuusei no Gemini). They weren’t always paced well (coughXamdoucough) but all of them had a lot of creativity and very good production-values.

Biggest Surprise

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

This category is simple: what series surprised me the most during the past year. Birdy the Mighty is for example a really heavy contender in this category: its first season had plenty of faults, and there the second season came and improved on it in every single aspect. Or take the new Mazinger: I really didn’t expect beforehand that it would turn into such an epic series with an actual linear storyline. Still, I’m going to hand out this award to the start of Tokyo Magnitude: it started off with a seemingly mundane episode in which nothing happened. The huge contrast with the dark and bittersweet second episode managed to land it this award.

Best Old Series I Happened to See This Year

Strange Dawn

I’ve watched a lot of great series this year. Ashita no Nadja, Glass Mask (2005) and Kaleido Star really deserve a special mention here because of their amazingly developed characters, but the series that impressed me even more was Sato Junichi’s Strange Dawn. There’s so much detail put into the storytelling, and the characters are just incredible. It’s a very dramatic series, but for me the drama really worked and culminated into an absolutely stunning ending.

Best Animation

Bonen no Xamdou

Okay, I’ve talked about Xamdou’s amazing animation often enough already, but seriously: it does have the best animation of any TV-series I have seen thus far. Every episode is just incredibly well animated, ranging from the quiet scenes to the busy action scenes. Runners up are Hashire, Melos! from Aoi Bungaku, Canaan, Aoi Hana and Eden of the East.

Best Background Art

Guin Saga

Eden of the East had gorgeous backgrounds, but granted most of them were just filtered photos. The really great stuff in terms of background art this year came from the fantasy architecture: the Atlas building of Shangri-la was jaw-droppingly beautiful, the architecture of the various buildings in Armed Librarians was full of imagination, but the Guin Saga really deserves the most credits here, because it feels like every single building was designed with epic in mind: huge, imaginative, colourful. They made sure that there was always some kind of eye-candy to look at.

Best Music


It’s getting a bit boring to keep giving away these awards to Bee-Train (this is the fourth year in a row that a Bee-Train series walks off with the award for best music in my summaries), but they just keep making these series with awesome music. With this soundtrack, Hikaru Nanase solidified herself as my favourite soundtrack composer along with Yuki Kajiura. The soundtrack of Phantom is varied, exciting and powerful. There are so many styles in this soundtrack and nearly all songs kick ass. Runners up are Michiko e Hatchin (hey, it was produced by the director of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo) Guin Saga (epic, just like the series) and Birdy the Mighty Decode 2 (excellent in creating a dark atmosphere).

Best-Looking Graphics

Aoi Bungaku

This award isn’t for animation quality, but rather: which series looked the best? I was ready to hand out this award to Casshern Sins again, but then Aoi Bungaku appeared. It had six different animation and graphic styles that, each of which looked absolutely beautiful and they were full of eye candy. That’s not to say that Casshern Sins dulled in, of course. It still was an absolutely beautiful series with some of the best character-designs out there.

Best Action

Birdy the Mighty Decode 2

2009 had 3 series with beyond epic action-scenes: the new Mazinger, Bonen no Xamdou and Birdy the Mighty’s second season. Xamdou’s action had some of the best animation to back it up with, the Mazinger was always fun to watch with its over the top storyline, but I decided to give this award to Birdy the Mighty due to Kazuki Akane’s powerful directing that made even the least impressive action scenes stand out and make impact.

Best Comedy

Marie & Gali

2009 was a great year for comedies: we had such gems as GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class, which always provided fresh and interesting jokes around various art topics. Then there was Skip Beat with its hilarious sense of humour when it wanted to, and let’s not forget Tentai Senshi Sunred with its typical style of combining extreme realism to extreme stupidity. Still, for me Marie & Gali was without a doubt the best in the comedy genre this year. Every single episode, it comes with something incredibly creative and imaginative to make fun of the principles of physics, and every single episode, it delivers and cracks me up. Now that’s what I call a good comedy.

Best Slice of Life

Cross Game

2009 was an excellent year for the slice of life genre. There were countless series that provided a great take on something so seemingly dull as just showing the daily lives of a bunch of people. Ristorante Paradiso was a very gentle and well-paced series (in which the characters are actual adults for once!), Tentai Senshi Sunred took this to the absurd with its parodies of the Super Sentai Genre, and GA was also a delight to watch simply because of its characters, even during the times when they weren’t trying to make jokes. Cross Game wins in this category though, because of its always tongue-in-cheek execution that loves to play around with all of the different characters. When the characters are living their daily lives, there’s always something interesting going on.

Best Mystery

Umineko no Naku Koro ni

This is of course a no-brainer. The other great mystery-series of 2009 were Pandora Hearts and Full Metal Alchemist, which both had really well integrated mystery into their settings, and both just kept the twists coming. Umineko however took this even a step further. Nearly every episode had me form countless of theories about what the heck was going on, why things happened the way they did and which one of the tons of plot twists actually wasn’t a red herring.

Best Movie (out of the ones that I watched anyway)

Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea

It’s always a bit tricky to figure out which movies I can put into these categories and which ones not; this year there were four movies that made the biggest impression on me: Furusato Japan (quiet but very solid and great songs), The Sky Crawlers (Mamoru Oshii doing something completely different… and it actually works), the fifth Kara no Kyoukai movie (great and complex storyline) and Ponyo. It sounds clichéd, but I’m really going to have to say that Ponyo is the best of those four. Miyazaki really showed that he’s still able to make wonderful movies with amazing visuals and charming characters.

Best Romance

Aoi Hana

2009 was an excellent year for romance. There were so many quality romance shows that aired this year, that I’m probably going to remember this as a year of romance. There were great romance series as Genji Monogatari, Sasameki Koto and White Album, and the romance in other shows also rocked, like in Birdy the Mighty, Clannad After Story, Cross Game, Ristorante Paradiso, Spice and Wolf II and Shikabane Hime Kuro. Still, Aoi Hana did it best in my opinion. Even though it’s lesbian romance, it still was very detailed, engaging and realistic. It made excellent use of its characters and their development and the romance was never cheesy or unrealistic.

Most Imaginative Setting

Michiko e Hatchin

Full Metal Alchemist really surprised me how deep its setting was, especially considering the first season. Armed Librarians is also looking out to a great setting here, and Umineko really revolutionized the mystery-genre with its background story. Still, I’ve been the most impressed by Michiko e Hatchin and its depiction of Brazil a few years back. It felt like the creators did a huge amount of research in order to make it come across as authentic as possible.

Best Character-Development

Birdy the Mighty Decode 2

What an improvement the characters made over the first season. It feels like every single one of them had some memorable development. The new characters also rocked, and even they went through subtle changes. I also really liked how Phantom developed its characters throughout its arcs. It was a bit over the top, but the main cast was always engaging. Other greatly developed characters were Touya (White Album I and especially II), Remus and Amnelis (Guin Saga), Hatchin (Michiko e Hatchin) and Erin (Kemono no Souja Erin).

Best Story

Michiko e Hatchin

This is a tough one, but I decided to give Michiko e Hatchin this award, because pretty much everything clicked. It was varied, it had a great conclusion, it was fun, endearing, tense and all sorts of other things throughout the series. Of course, Birdy the Mighty Decode also had a great story, Guin Saga had great politics, and Full Metal Alchemist and Armed Librarians are looking to be great contenders for next year’s version of this award.

Top 10 2009

I’m not going for a top 20 this year, for two reasons. First one is time constraint (hey, last years I didn’t have to write a decade summary at the same time as well), but also because I noted that as I compiled my list of favourites, that I really didn’t have any particular order for the numbers 11-25. There were a lot of great series this year, but just don’t ask me to rank them beyond a top 10. If you want to know which series I mean: Shangri-La, White Album, Pandora Hearts, Bonen no Xamdou, Ristorante Paradiso, Cross Game, Shin Mazinger, GA, Spice and Wolf II, Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae, Darker than Black – Ryuusei no Gemini, Hajime no Ippo – New Challenger, Full Metal Alchemist – Brotherhood and Shikabane Hime Kuro. All of these were great, just don’t ask me to rank them. Now that that’s out of the way, here’s my Top 10 for this year:

#10: Guin Saga

The Guin Saga was epic fantasy done right. It started out in a land full of creative creatures, races and locations, and gradually moved to a more politically oriented story, both of which rocked. Now granted, it is a very incomplete story (still waiting on that second season announcement…) and the animation at times wasn’t sufficient to capture all of the epicness of the storyline, but it’s a great series nonetheless, with a terrific soundtrack and background art.

#9: Aoi Hana

I really liked the concept of Noise: Fuji TV’s attempt to create a second Noitamina. All of the series that resulted from it were excellent, but it’s a shame that it didn’t work out in the end and the timeslot was dropped. Nevertheless, Aoi Hana was a truly excellent series with a great direction and production-values. It’s was very realistic for a romance series, and the characters were very charming and engaging to watch.

#8: Clannad After Story

This sequel of Clannad earned its place on this list, mostly due to the amazing developments it took during its second half. While most of the series was just a regular high school series (that has been done much better by other series this year, like Aoi Hana and GA), it really set itself apart from the rest during this second half. I’m not going to spoil what exactly happened, but the character-development that the lead character got out of it was amazing. Just a shame of that ending.

#7: Casshern Sins

Casshern Sins remained a very strong series throughout its second half. It still was beautifully drawn and animated, and the main storyline was very impressive. While it didn’t surpass the first half in terms of individual episodes, when you look at the total picture it remains a very impressive series with creative and well written dialogues and scenarios.

#6: Armed Librarians – The Book of Bantorra

While this is the only series on this list that hasn’t finished yet, I do want to include it somehow because of its terrific execution, which was a true breath of fresh air in the fantasy-genre. The way it weaves tons of different storylines into one is done almost brilliantly, and it really makes use of the past in order to flesh out the present, and give every character sufficient and memorable development. Hamyuts Meseta herself is my favourite: a unique anti-heroine that kicks ass and yet isn’t your stereotypical evil overlord…ess.

#5: Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

Tokyo Magnitude: a series that shows what would happen to Tokyo if it were struck by a huge earthquake today, all seen through the eyes of a young girl. And boy, was it impressive. It was a bittersweet series and the biggest tear-jerker of the year for me, and Mirai was such an engaging character. I’ve seen quite a few people who didn’t like the final twist at the end, but I personally loved the results of having this included. It made for a very memorable series.

#4: Phantom

Phantom turned into my favourite Bee-Train series after .Hack//Sign. It has many of their staples, but executed even better than usual. The great character-development of Ein and Zwei throughout the series is memorable and makes excellent use of its time-frame. The excellent music also adds. At times the drama may be a bit unrealistic and overstatement, but it had me hooked from start to finish.

#3: Michiko e Hatchin

I personally loved how this series had its moments of silliness, tension, action, drama and always made it a mystery what it would focus on next. On top of that, Hatchin was an awesome character, Satoshi was an awesome villain, Michiko was an awesome anti-heroine, and the chemistry between the entire cast rocked. The portrayal of Brazil was very accurate in my view, and this series always had something interesting. Definitely in my top 3 of this year.

#2: Aoi Bungaku

Madhouse did it again with this series. Amazingly stylish in six different and distinct ways, Each of the stories is different and stands on its own as a great story. The storytelling is just awesome, with as highlight Hashire Melos, but all of the other stories were amazing as well.

#1: Birdy the Mighty Decode 2

So my number one isn’t that much of a surprise for those who’ve been following my blog for a while now. The first season of Birdy the Mighty was pretty nice, but too childish at times. Then this series comes, and improves on it in every. single. way. The graphics are amazing, the action is fantastic, the characters gained tons of depth, it still pays attention to the setting and the people living in it, the storyline is compelling, the villains are awesome, I could just go on and on with singing praises over this series. It’s a well deserved favourite of this year, and only established Kazuki Akane even more as my favourite director ever.

Well, that’s it. A happy new year to everyone in advanced. And what were your favourites of 2009?

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews

Those who liked Summer Wars will probably like the second Digimon movie, because it pretty much follows the same scenario. Seriously, Summer Wars is nearly just the same movie only with different characters and lots of technical upgrades and a bigger scale. Bokura no War Game, along with Serial Experiments Lain, I think was one of the first anime that looked at the possible dangers of the Internet, and having every computer in the world linked up.

I wasn’t too excited about the general scenario, especially the final climax was just drawn out, cheesy and a Deus ex Machina. The charm in this movie, again, comes from the characters. They really make it a lot of fun to watch this movie. My favourite part was where Taichi was fervently trying to contact the other members of the cast on an incredibly short notice.

At heart, this is a movie about how the world is changing, and evolving into the digital age. The Digimon TV-series speculated what would happen if computers would evolve so much that an entire world would be created (pretty much Shintoism in a modern coat), and this movie takes it on a more down to earth scale, making it much more concrete. And I think that in that way, it actually did a better job than Summer Wars. Apart from that, I don’t think I can count any of the movies superior: this movie clearly is smaller, but both have their own charms and weaknesses, depending on how epic you want to be.

I do want to say that I liked the first Digimon movie better, though. It really shined in its simplicity and charms, while this was a bit too much of a “an evil monster is about to destroy the world! Let’s stop him at the last possible moment!”-movie. The evil monster just isn’t as interesting compared to the amount of time that’s spent on it, and that’s where this movie disappointed me the most.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Fun and quick-paced, though the climax could have been better.
Characters: 8/10 – The lead characters are a lot of fun, the villain disappoints.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Pretty nice animation and soundtrack.
Setting: 8/10 – Interesting though unrealistic look at the Internet.
Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews

This was my biggest surprise of the past autumn season. It’s just one of those shows that from the outside looks like nothing special: we have this girl who is in love with another girl but that other girl is oblivious to this, hijinks ensue, blah blah blah. It’s been done many times before. But what a good attempt it turned out to be!

The biggest reason for this is the truly excellent cast of characters. Sumi is a wonderful character to watch; she’s fun, exciting, compassionate and her personal issues of always being seen as the strong dependable friend on their own are alone to make the entire series worthwile. She has her quirks, but she’s not over the top or one-sided.

Apart from that, this really is a great slice of life series. It always has fun situations to put its characters in, and even when it goes the predictable way of the beach episode, it still manages to make something creative out of it. This series is so down to earth and yet enjoyable. The drama knows that it shouldn’t drag on forever, and yet it’s built up well.

I really didn’t think it was possible, but Sasameki Koto managed to set itself apart in the lesbian genre with a genuine, fun and very enjoyable series that’s easy to digest, yet very charming. It’s one of those series in which hardly anything went wrong: the pacing, characters, story. It all seems to fit. Well, okay. If I had to mention a flaw, then it’s that at times it looks a bit too much like a harem. But the love triangles all serve their purpose, and do a great job to not get in the way of the other subplots.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Down to earth and charming.
Characters: 9/10 – Sumi rocks, and the rest of the cast is great too.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Pretty nice, though nothing special.
Setting: 8/10 – Decent, though not the main focus at all.
Posted on 30 December 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews

While not perfect, the second Tenchi Muyo movie impressed me. I was expecting a real melodrama of characters overacting, but instead there’s a lot of subtlety in this very emotional movie. That’s something I really appreciated, and I think that this is my favourite installment of the Tenchi Muyo! franchise because of that. But you don’t want to watch this movie as a Tenchi fan.

It’s a bit spoilerific perhaps, but imagine your average harem series: it’s been established that some of the characters are in love with the male lead, but nothing major happens. Then this woman comes out of nowhere, takes Tenchi and the two become full-fledged lovers. There is no action, hardly any comedy, no harem hijinks. It’s completely different from the rest of the tenchi franchise, which always had something innocent in it.

The high emphasis on drama makes it a great movie, though. It’s powerful and yet not overdramatic. The new girl, Haruna, is drawn beautifully, and well developed throughout the movie, and I especially liked the way her relationship developed with Tenchi. The animation is great, and if you watched the OVAs, then it’s a great recommendation if you’re looking for a good romance movie. There aren’t many good romance movies anyway, so it’s great to see one that’s worthwile.

I do have a complaint though. Ayeka and Ryoko feel a bit dumbed down in comparison to Haruna. When the movie focuses on them, they seem to lose their spark a bit, and I just didn’t buy their development at times. They didn’t ask enough questions and it just felt to me like they were somewhat different people from the rest of the Tenchi Franchise. Because of that, this movie seemed to lose my attention a bit, every time they came in the spotlight again.

Nevertheless, the rest of the cast does not have this problem and that’s why I enjoyed this movie a lot. It’s emotional, charming and mature, and shows why Tenchi is much more interesting than 90% of the other harem lead clones out there.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Quiet, subtle and engaging.
Characters: 8/10 – Haruna and Tenchi are great; Ryoko and Ayeka disappoint a bit.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Fluid and life-like animation.
Setting: 8/10 – Adds quite a bit of depth to certain a certain character.
Posted on with categories: Yearly Summaries

Well, as promised here is the second part of my decade summary. It again took me a while to figure out what exactly I wanted to do with it. I didn’t want to write a simple Top X-list; that would just be pointless, since people can just look at my Top 20 and remove all of the series that aren’t from the past decade.

Instead, I eventually decided to create 9 Top 9s, based around various categories that I find important (or eight categories that I find important and one category for the people who want to know where I’ve tortured myself throughout the past decade). Little did I know at the time that this would be an incredibly ambitious project, and in the end this turned into probably the biggest article I’ve ever written for this blog, totalling at a whopping 6000+ words. Ah well, I hope you’re happy with it, and have a fun end of the year and decade.

Worst Series that I Somehow Managed to Finish

There were times (especially in my early years), in which I for some reason continued to watch even though they hardly had any redeeming quality, or were a huge pain to sit through. Since I can’t speak for series that I didn’t finish, this list just included the ones that I watched from beginning to end. Movies and OVAs don’t count, since it’s too easy to sit through a bad one when compared to a much longer TV-series. Oh, and do note that this is only my opinion. Feel free to disagree.

#9: Star Ocean Ex – Let me explain why this series made this list. For the most part, it’s just a very generic fantasy-show, but nothing too bad. There was at least nice enough characterization. However, it all goes down the drain during the final arc. I’m not sure exactly what happened here, but every moment where they could, the creators pulled the EXACT SAME Deus ex Machina: a person is attacked by an evil monster, he or she is about to die, and right from nowhere (and I really mean, nowhere; none of it was ever explained) some sort of saviour appears. And they do this, with every. single. battle. THIS was the series that made me hate Deus ex Machinas and overly emphasized coincidences.
#8: Mai Otome – I kept watching this series as a fan of Mai Hime: despite its terrible ending, it really was a well written series. So how did this show, its spiritual successor, screw up so badly? It never seemed to really know where it was going, it was full of pointless angst, it had an incredibly annoying lead character and none of the excellent characterization that was so prevalent in Mai Hime returned. Really, what happened?
#7: Romeo x Juliet – I like Gonzo, I really do. But they also have made some shows that I just never got into. Romeo had a lot of potential as a remake of the classic story by Shakespeare, but the creators never really had a vision of what they really wanted to do with it. The characters are clichéd and angsty, the story never really gets anywhere, and the creators ended up doing a massive injustice to the original literary source.
#6: The Melody of Oblivion – I’ve seen this described as a “shounen Utena with all the subtlety removed”, but that would be giving it just too much credit. For me, the Melody of Oblivion was an attempt to be different and experimental that just didn’t work, with a stupid cast of main characters, an uninspired set of storylines to work with, and most importantly an incredibly slow and annoying pacing that broke down tension, instead of building it up.
#5: School Days – I first have to say that I have no problems with the premise for School Days: all the harem leads out there are wimpy boys with a kind heart, so seeing an actual asshole in the lead was very refreshing. However, that doesn’t excuse the terrible scriptwriting and cast of characters. The creators wanted so badly to go to that wildly publicized ending of theirs that they completely derailed previously built up characters, just for that sake.
#4: Shakugan no Shana – While with the previous entries on the list, I still can somewhat understand why I kept watching them, this isn’t the case with Shakugan no Shana. To this day, I’m still not sure why I didn’t immediately drop this show. While the start may have been interesting enough, as soon as Shana derailed from a tough warrior to a whining tsundere there was nothing left in this series that was worth watching. Shana truly has to be the single most annoying characters I’ve ever seen, and to this day I still haven’t forgiven her voice actress for her mind-numbing performance back then.
#3: Girls Bravo – Again, I have no idea why I managed to finish this. This really is another one of those harem comedies at its worst: the premise is stupid, the characters are stupid, and the story is just an excuse to put a bunch of boobs on one screen. It had no depth, no entertainment value. Nothing.
#2: Chocolate Underground – Okay, I’m cheating a bit with this one because its episodes are only five minutes of length, but I just had to include this series since it tried to stuff waaaaay too much in them. It seriously has one of the worst plots I’ve ever seen in an anime, and while it starts off pretty decently in the beginning, with people resisting a corrupt government and all, it completely derails in the second half to become nothing but a “kids rule adults suck!”-fest.
#1: Shining Tears X Wind – You might think that my number 1 on this list would be the one that I hate the most, but Shining Tears X Wind is a show that’s SO bad that it becomes hilarious. And don’t get me wrong, I still rate it among the worst shows I’ve ever seen, but the big climax for this show is so unbelievably stupid, so unbelievably moronic, cheesy, disturbing and yet so unpredictable (it’s a true Deus ex Machina: it really comes from absolutely freaking nowhere) that I still laugh about it today.

Best Soundtrack

I’m a big fan of a good use of music in anime, so I just had to make a top 9 with my favourite soundtracks of the past decade. There have been tons of great soundtracks throughout the past ten years, but here are my favourites, the one who made the most impact on me:

#9: El Cazador de la Bruja – So yeah, obviously Bee-Train is going to be dominating this list. It’s for the simple reason that they don’t just see music as background tunes, but they see it as a way of storytelling as well. Yuki Kajiura composed an excellent soundtrack, and especially the main theme is something that you can just listen to over and over again.
#8: Ergo Proxy – This may be just a soundtrack that mostly stays in the background, but seriously, Ergo Proxy for me had one of the best ambient soundtrack I’ve listened to. The subtlety with which Yoshihiro Ike composed the tracks is really impressive. It’s gloomy, dark and fits the mood of this show perfectly.
#7: Ooedo Rocket – One of the reasons that made this series so fun to watch was its incredibly catchy and addictive jazz soundtrack. And this isn’t just one track, it’s got an entirely fresh collection of cheerful tunes to listen to.
#6: Kaiba – What I like about Kaiba’s soundtrack is that it’s so incredibly subtle. Ranging from its main theme with its haunting choirs, it also has a great insert song. It’s really a dreamy soundtrack at its finest.
#5: Noein – I have two favourite composers: Yuki Kajiura and Hikaru Nanase. The latter has composed her share of less impressive soundtrack, but when she hits the mark she really hits it like no other. Noein’s soundtrack is powerful, bombastic and varied. The heavy choirs perfectly fit the chaotic nature of the series itself.
#4: Phantom – Again Hikaru Nanase, and she truly surpassed herself with this work. There are so many different and awesome tunes inside this soundtrack. It’s bold, creative and one of the most varied soundtracks I’ve listened to, and yet it makes nearly every single piece count.
#3: Night Head Genesis – The thing I hate about this soundtrack is that it’s never been released on DVD. It does such a wonderful soundtrack a huge injustice. It’s a very quiet, mysterious and depressing soundtrack, but the atmosphere it managed to create really impressed me when I watched it. There was something really unique about it, the way that it only used these very simple sounds to create a very subtle an engaging soundtrack. It’s probably the most underrated soundtrack on this list, but damn did it impress me.
#2: .Hack//Sign – I still consider this as Yuki Kajiura’s best work. As part of the duo See-Saw, she really composed some of her best tracks here, like The World and Fake Wings to just name a few of them. It’s just such an addictive and catchy. .Hack//Sign was one of the first series I watched after discovering the wonders of the internet, and I still listen to its soundtrack in awe.
#1: .Hack//Roots – Say what you want about ALI-Project. I’ll agree with most of it. Most of their songs indeed do sound the same, and they have done way too many OPs and EDs already. However, there is one major exception to this: .Hack//Roots. Here, they really put effort into producing what’s probably my favourite soundtrack ever. I still consider Dwindled Bible to be the single best track I’ve ever heard in anime with its truly unique arrangement.

Best Visuals

This category is meant for the anime with amazing animation, art, graphics, or anything else that makes them look awesome. Because movies have an unfair budget advantage, I decided to put 4 movies and 5 TV-series inside this top, in order to be able to highlight the best of both. The past decade in terms of visuals was all about the introduction of CG, and the ever-challenging task of creators to integrate them well with the regular 2D animation. With the good examples, it really looked absolutely gorgeous.

#9: Shigurui – Ah, Shigurui. It’s the only series whose artwork has managed to actually freak me out. That’s how good, disgusting and outright brutal the art in this series was. It spares nobody, and the gore that was shown within this series was without a doubt the best I’ve ever watched. This isn’t just simply slashing someone with a sword to make blood come out, this describes every single cut with the cruellest amount of detail.
#8: Noein – Kazuki Akane is really a master in creating visual action scenes, and this really was his best work. The animation for Noein was Messy, but damn was it beautiful and imaginative. Ranging from the simple character-designs to the near-surreal climaxes, this series always had something good to look at.
#7: 5 Centimeters Per Second – Makoto Shinkai truly is an amazing artist, and the way he rendered the backgrounds in this movie was absolutely stunning.
#6: Casshern Sins – Casshern Sins for me is THE series with the best character-designs I’ve ever seen. The style they’re drawn in is really unique and original, even though it just started as a modern version of ancient character-designs.
#5: Seirei no Moribito – This series probably has the best animated hand-to-hand combat fight scene I have seen, even when taking movies into account. The amount of detail in the animation, especially considering that it’s a long TV-series, is astonishing. The creators even paid attention to the finest details in order to make the characters as life-like as possible.
#4: Bonen no Xamdou – For me, Bonen no Xamdou really has the single best animation out of all the TV-series I’ve seen. The action-scenes are just beautifully animated, and the backgrounds are always a joy to watch with the imagination that has been put into them. This isn’t just the case of a big budget, it’s a big budget used well. Bonen no Xamdou put in time to both make the action scenes visually stunning, but also put a lot of detail in the quiet scenes.
#3: Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea – I believe that Ponyo broke some sort of record in total amount of hand-drawn frames used. The animation really is a visual masterpiece, and become especially imaginative during the busy scenes. It’s amazing how much detail Hayao Miyazaki put into this one single movie.
#2: Metropolis – I loved the incredibly fluid animation throughout this movie. Not just from the main characters, but every single character in the background also got this treatment. The creators really brought Osamu Tezuka’s classic manga to life with this adaptation, and the way that the animators depicted the city it takes place in and the characters was just gorgeous in every single way.
#1: Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence – For the first place on this list, I had no doubts whatsoever. Even though the movie is quite old already (nearly six years now) it really is the best animated movie I have ever seen. Even Hayao Miyazaki couldn’t dream of creating graphics that are THIS good. Nearly the entire movie is just a visual orgasm, from start to finish, and it’s amazing what Mamoru Oshii managed to accomplish here. It’s without a doubt my top on this list.

Best Comedies

This category is straightforward: these are the shows that made me laugh the hardest. Yes, my taste is weird!

#9: Magikano – The past ten years saw the debut of a great comedic talent: Seiji Kishi. He worked on quite a number of series, and his comedies were often hilarious, and I think that Magikano was the best example of this. Sure, the plot itself sucked beyond belief, and it had one of the worst endings imaginable, but when it wanted to be funny it really was gut-achingly hilarious.
#8: Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge – I’m a big fan of parodies, so expect to see a lot of them on this list. Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge was a great parody on the usual shoujo-genre and its tropes. Just about everything was exaggerated, from the bishies with sparkles to the gothic horror lead character of Sunako. I really loved the huge amounts of energy with which this show delivered its jokes. I mean, there’s hyperactivity and there’s this.
#7: Marie&Gali – This is the series that proves that science is fun! Each episode is only five minutes long, but it always manages to be creative, unexpected and downright crazy as it shows the viewers the principles of science, including some hilarious interpretations of once great scientists.
#6: Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei – While the subsequent series were quite a lot duller, the first season of Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei was brilliant in the way that it undermined all sorts of high school series tropes. With its fast pacing and great jokes, it really was a hilarious collection of 13 episodes.
#5: Master of Epic – So this is only a series for those who have played anime-styled MMORPGs, because otherwise most of the references will fly past your head. Master of Epic created a great setting that poked fun at tons of different MMORPG tropes, from fighting monsters to collecting items, to everyone looking the same and selling items. The different sketches all were incredibly silly, but really fun to watch.
#4: Demashitaa! Power Puff Z – I really wasn’t sure what to think of the announcement that the Power Puff Girls would transfer over to anime. I watched quite a bit of it as a teenager, but it took itself way too seriously at times. However, these worries turned out to be ungrounded. The series went completely into its own direction and turned into a mahou shoujo parody, that took a jab at tons of different series, including itself. It’s incredibly childish, I know. But I tend to like that stuff and this show probably did it the best. It was so unashamed at times but that’s what made it hilarious.
#3: Gintama – Well, what is there to say about Gintama? It’s not just funny; it’s funny for 100 consecutive episodes. As a shounen series it had episodes with hilarious premises with priceless developments. Gintoki is a hilarious main character, and the dialogue is really well written for a comedy. And I guess that that’s the thing that really set it apart from other comedies.
#2: The Law of Ueki – For me, this really one of the best comedies I’ve seen. Sure, it had its lesser moments, but every time it wanted to be funny, it was utterly hilarious. Why? The creativity. The plot twists were told with so much imagination that they belong to some of the funniest episodes I’ve ever seen.
#1: Excel Saga – Okay, so while it originally aired in the 90s, the Excel Saga still aired in 2000 so it counts. This really was along with .Hack//Sign the series that turned me from a casual watcher into an anime-fan. This is probably the craziest series I’ve ever seen, and I have no clue n what mindset the creators were when they thought up the lead character of Excel. I mean, she goes beyond insanity here. This is a show that doesn’t just parody one genre, but just about every genre under the radar.

Best Settings

A setting in my book can refer to the locations and environments that a series takes place in, but what also counts is series that have great knowledge over their subject matter. The series on this list have imaginative, deep, detailed and well developed settings

#9: Mahou Shoujotai – This really is a setting that spoke to my imagination the first time I laid my eyes upon it. It uses both clichés and original ideas to create a unique world of witches, wizards and its magic system. It’s simple yet very captivating, to see the world of the witches as gets continuously more stuck in its own traditions, but the biggest reason why I decided to include it in this top 9 is its imagination. This is just one of those shows that sparkle with it.
#8: Ergo Proxy – I personally loved the tons of interesting ideas that Ergo Proxy put in its setting. Out of all the futuristic dystopia’s, I’ve been impressed the most by what this series managed to come up with: It’s deep, imaginative and despite the seemingly dark setting, it’s pretty varied as well.
#7: Darker than Black – Amidst all of the shows in which people with special powers fight each other, Darker than Black stood out with its maturity and well developed setting. Seriously, you can make tons of storylines within the framework that this series created, which was well shown by the second season.
#6: .Hack//Sign – The setting of .Hack//Sign is one where I’d want to walk through myself one day. I really love the creative vision of this series, in which MMORPGs would evolve one day to worlds in which we can fully immerse ourselves, rather than just control a sprite or 3D model. I’ve played quite a few MMORPGs before I started this blog, so when I checked out this series it really appealed to me. It took this a bit too far in .Hack//Roots, though. MMORPGs are about freedom. Not letting it become a second job to you or something.
#5: Dennou Coil – Again, a premise that really speaks to the imagination: glasses that when you put them on reveal a complete world full of strange creatures and applications that are only limited by your imagination. How awesome would that be?
#4: Michiko e Hatchin – Anime nowadays is mostly just set in regular Japan, or if you’re lucky America or France. Then this series came along, and offered a wonderfully accurate depiction of Brazil of a few decades ago. The setting was never sacrificed for the storyline, but everything just felt so authentic to me (as in, someone who’s never actually been there, but ah well, I liked it).
#3: Glass Mask (2005) – This is a series that really knows its subject material. Even though the original manga is already decades old at this point, the creators did a great job in adapting this story that has an amazing amount of detail about stage acting. It really was amazing how much in-depth this series went into acting.
#2: Kaiba – Kaiba had a setting that was based on an idea that you just had to think of: being able to store memories easily outside of your body, so that as long as you have enough bodies you’ll never die. And it really created a wonderful story around this concept that really allowed it to show the various sides about the world in which such a technology has become common usage. On top of that there also were tons more of interesting ideas stuffed into this series, that really makes this one of the best settings I’ve ever seen.
#1: RD Sennou Chousashitsu – Well, I think it’s pretty clear now what my interests are when you look at this list. I’m a computer science student, and I really like all those weird theories about the future of computer, and all of the things that you might be able to do with it. The best attempt for me was Real Drive. It goes even a step beyond .Hack//Sign and Dennou Coil in its attempt to create a whole new world that, which is even more unlimited than you could imagine. It’s the perfect example of how a vision of the future doesn’t need to be bad and full of wars, but instead it provides an optimistic outlook. In a way, it’s a celebration of technology and that’s really what appealed to me in this series.

Best Character-Development

I’ve been thinking of also putting up a list of my favourite characters, but in the end I figured that it would be boring. My favourite would just be Honoka from the Third and apart from that I’ve always found it hard to chose one character above the other when they’re so incredibly different. So instead, I’ve decided to list the series that I consider to be the best in terms of character-development. It could be of one character, it could be of an entire cast.

#9: Ashita no Nadja – I really love the characters in this series, and the biggest reason for that is the way they decided to develop the main characters. At first you might think that this is just another regular shoujo series with shallow villains, but damn. Those “villains” are so well developed into such strong characters that they give a completely new and original dimension to the story that would have been completely impossible without it. On top of that, Nadja herself is also an incredibly likable character who really grows and matures throughout the series, and is even forced to do so in order for the plot to advance.
#8: Welcome to the NHK – I may not have given this series the full recognition it deserves, but that’s mostly because when I watched it, I hated everything about moe. And yeah, this wasn’t the best series for that. But that really is the point of this series: at first, Satou is meant to be looked down upon as a worthless character. From there on, his development is really striking, and this series really succeeded as an in-depth look at the Hikkikomoris.
#7: Strange Dawn – Out of all of the coming of age stories that we’ve seen this decade, I consider this one to be among the best in terms of character-development. The development of the two lead characters made a huge impact on me, although in order to explain this I’d have to dive too much into spoilers, so I won’t.
#6: Birdy the Mighty Decode 2 – I really loved how this second season takes the far inferior first season, and improved on it in every way, and it even slightly developed nearly all of the single characters that appeared in it. It’s subtle but very powerful and the development of the new character Natoru is the highlight of the entire series.
#5: Figure 17 – Here is a series that really takes its time to slowly and subtly develop its characters, with wonderful results. Tsubasa and Hikaru are two amazingly developed characters, and so much care has been put into fleshing the two of them out. The bond that these two developed what I especially liked about them.
#4: Kaze no Shoujo Emily – From the works of Lucy Maud Montgomery. This series puts in care to develop not just its titular Emily, but also the ones around her. Her childhood friends all had their own dreams for the future and the highlight of this series is without a doubt the final quarter, in which we get to see them grow up and show exactly what happened to those dreams of them. It really was a gripping drama.
#3: Haibane Renmei – This is another one of those rare series that gets some amazing character-development only in one season of 13 episodes. I’m still not exactly sure how the creators did it, but the interplay between the lead characters reached an absolutely brilliant conclusion.
#2: Les Miserables – So yeah, this behemoth of a series was obviously going to appear somewhere on this list. Every single character here develops, even the smaller ones. The cast of this series is huge, but the creators really make sure to make everyone count in his or her own way, from the young and naive Cosette to the composed and righteous Javert (that’s how they start out anyway). The development is never shallow and always gripping, and a very solid second place on this top.
#1: Simoun – I’ve said it before in my top 20: for me Simoun is the single best character-study I have ever seen. The character-development is what made it possible, as it’s creative, powerful and unbiased. Everyone in the Chor Tempest goes through some sort of memorable development, and together I really can’t find any series to call its equal in this field.

Best Storytelling

This list basically consists out of the series that I consider told their story best. This can be with very solid direction, or a completely original way to tell a story. The key is creativity again.

#9: Nodame Cantabile – A fresh and overall very enjoyable series that for me stood out in its direction, and how fun it made these seemingly boring things as classical music and composing. The first season of Nodame Cantabile was a series in which its characters shined, but I believe that what allowed them to shine so much was the always-clever direction from Kenichi Kasai.
#8: Jubei-Chan the Ninja Girl 2 – Okay, so the story was rather childish. This is for me THE series that excelled in the entertainment factor. The fight scenes were just incredibly well directed, the standard giant robot stories look like cardboard frames compared to the excitement of these fights.
#7: Himitsu ~ The Revelation – A bit of an inconsistent series, but that’s what made it so much fun. This is a series that excelled as a suspense murder mystery. It reveals just as much to keep you interested and guessing, Looking into the memories of a dead person to solve crimes. This show actually pulls it off.
#6: Shion no Ou – This for me was a series that always had something interesting going on. The shougi matches were a bit hard to follow and pretty much directed, but the way this series built them up was always fun and exciting to watch. It always had something that would get the best out of the characters.
#5: Paranoia Agent – Perhaps a bit too much of a rushed finale, but I love how Satoshi Kon toys around with your expectations in this series. This is a series about mindscrews and insanity, but he does this in such an unpredictable way that I never saw most of the plot twists coming.
#4: Ghost Hound – This overall was a very strange series. It very often only uses sound effects to tell its story and draw its viewer in, but it worked surprisingly well here. The result is a unique and tense atmosphere.
#3: FLAG – FLAG really set itself apart with its truly unique direction: everything in the series is viewed through a camera. This is probably one of the most realistically told Mecha stories I have ever seen, and the way that the creators manage to use these cameras to tell their story is truly inspiring and unique.
#2: Aoi Bungaku – Aoi Bungaku isn’t just told well. It’s told well in six completely different styles that all have their own strengths and focuses. Throughout the series, six literary works are adapted, and this is done with so much conviction and talent that I really had to include this on this list.
#1: Noein – I’m a really big fan of Kazuki Akane, and this is what I consider to be his best work. The sheer force of his direction really brings the best out of the characters and the action-scenes, making it an incredibly fun, tense and touching series to watch.

Best Stories

I’ve always had trouble figuring out what exactly a “story” amounts to. In this list, I’ve decided that with “Best Stories”, I’m going to stick with the definition of series with the most epic plot progressions. Which series had a complex, varied and imaginative scenario that impressed me the most?

#9: Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (+ Kai and Rei) – The story behind Higurashi is fascinating, and all of the three stories stood out in different ways. The first season stood out because of all of the creative, weird and mysterious twists and turns that the storyline kept taking, making excellent use of how the timeline kept repeating itself. The second season instead was incredibly solid, and stood out with its themes and ideals. The OVA then finished it with one brilliant idea that it built its storyline around.
#8: Mahou Shoujotai – Call me childish, but I loved all of the different twists and turns that the storyline for this series kept taking throughout its airtime. Nearly every episode had at least something that I loved about it. Mahou Shoujotai admittedly does have a few clichés in its storyline, but what I loved about this series was its total package and how everything comes together.
#7: Le Chevalier d’Eon – Not really that special in its first half, but amazing during its second half. The way in which this series used its setting and characters came together wonderfully there with a lot of very interesting plot twists that I never saw coming. It’s true that anime has a bit of a bad habit that it over-romanticizes western countries (especially France), but the story that resulted in this series was strong and very imaginative.
#6: Toward the Terra – Science fiction at its finest. Here we have a series that fully explores its main characters. At first it might seem nothing special because the characters involved are mere teenagers, but the huge amount of flashbacks make the storyline increasingly more impressive. A space opera at its finest.
#5: Eureka 7 – To be honest, this is one series that could have been better balanced over its episodes, but nevertheless the storyline that resulted from it took a bunch of teenagers and put them into a grown up and mature setting that allowed the best of them to come out. The 50 episodes in this series are varied and very interesting, and for me this definitely was one of Bones’ best works.
#4: Bokura no – The idea behind Bokura no was just utterly brilliant, and the creators did a wonderful job in bringing it to life and giving it its own conclusion (which wasn’t available yet in the manga at the time that it aired). It’s a powerful and varied story about life and death that never ceased to amaze me.
#3: Hi no Tori – In this series, Ryousuke Takahashi did an amazing job of making Osamu Tezuka’s stories come to life. The Hi no Tori series consists out of five stories from the “God of Manga”, and all of them are just brilliant stories full of Osamu Tezuka’s trademark creativity. Imaginative, varied and multidimensional. All of the five stories have something memorable.
#2: Now and Then, Here and There – It’s hard to really talk about this series without spoiling too much, but let me just say that this is a powerful, engaging and very disturbing story about child soldiers. What starts out as a happy “boy meet girl”-story quickly turns into one of the darkest anime about kids I’ve seen.
#1: Fantastic Children – It’s sort-of how I keep preaching about how anime needs more mature series, and yet most of the shows in this list focus on kids. But that’s the thing: when the stories about children work, they also work really well for me. For me it’s been done the best in Fantastic Children, which for its biggest part remains one huge question-mark, but a very well coordinated question-mark. The way that it manages to combine all of the various storylines into one is what made me put it on the number one place.

Most Intelligent Series

To close off, here’s a quick little list that I really wanted to include, if only to celebrate how anime is one of the very few animation mediums that also has a significant amount of series aimed at a mature audience. These anime are what I consider the most intelligent, knowledgeable and thought-provoking.

#9: Spice and Wolf (I & II) – Spice and Wolf was show that really surprised me. From the outside it just looks like yet another moe show, but in fact it turned out to be a mature series about medieval merchants. This series really earned itself a place on this list with its complex and daring plans that only one who has fully immersed into such a setting could have thought of. The way these characters try to manipulate everyone around them to make as much money as possible is one of the many things that made this series worth watching.
#8: Armored Trooper Votoms – Ryousuke Takahashi always manages to think of complex and intelligent plots that take both itself and its viewer seriously. Here we have a series that really impressed me with how well both the science, politics and tactics come together. Especially the court trial in the first episode stands out as hugely complex, but the rest of the series is also filled with these moments that put the emphasis on thinking, rather than action.
#7: Tenpou Ibun Ayakashi Ayashi – I’m still not exactly sure why this series had to be aired at the most primetime slot that exists within anime: it’s indeed a samurai show with at first sight just silly characters, but it set itself apart with its intelligent subplots and arcs. Most of the times, what mattered in this series was not the action, but rather the dialogues and the meanings behind the plot. Such a shame that it got cancelled mid-way.
#6: Hunter X Hunter OVA – I consider Hunter x Hunter to be among the best of the Shounen genre. Why? This OVA. It’s here where this series comes with an intelligent plot that for once is focused purely on brainpower, and utilizing every single detail to your advantage. The plans and tactics here are imaginative and complex, and yet realistic and not as ludicrously complicated as we see in shows as Death Note and the like.
#5: Bartender – You can really see that this series was written by someone with an absolute passion for liquor. It’s a really enjoyable Iyashi-kei healing-type series, but what I loved about it was how it used all sorts of anecdotes behind various liquors and cocktails in order to tell its story, and explore the various characters that decide to drop the bar of our titular Bartender.
#4: Starship Operators – Don’t let the teenagers at the foreground fool you: nearly all of the characters here were forced to grow up into adults because of the story in this series. This really turned space-battles into a science. The amount of effort and tactical planning that this series spends, just on trying to sink one enemy ship is huge and requires a lot of creative thinking from the main characters. It really culminated into an excellent ending. In fact, all of the shows on this list, save for Ayakashi Ayashi, have excellent conclusions.
#3: Seirei no Moribito – Again a series that has a complex storyline that requires a lot of research from the characters to truly figure out. But it’s especially the dialogue in this series that stands out as complex and intelligent and a huge attention to detail.
#2: Mushishi – Mushishi is just a simple story: but that’s where its strengths lie. All of its stories try to blur the bounds between good and evil, and really made me think about the morals behind them. The stories behind them are in no way lazy at all, and were always deep and thoughtful.
#1: Mouryou no Hako – Ryousuke Nakamura, that’s a name to remember. He turned Mouryou no Hako into an amazing series with amazing dialogue. It talks about all kinds of backgrounds that could have something to do with the main storyline, and he loves to show all sorts of anecdotes that might or might not have something to do with it, just to flesh it out. The stories that this series comes with are incredibly interesting to read and make this into so much more than just another “whodunnit” murder mystery.

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews

Now this is more like it. Roots of Ambition is the third Votoms OVA, and unlike Big Battle, it decided to go for the Last Red Shoulder route: background. This one happens earlier than all of the other installments of the franchise so far: Chirico’s time as a Red Shoulder. It pretty much ties Pailsen Files to The Last Red Shoulder, and along with Pailsen Files it can be seen as Chirico’s background: here you see the events that shaped him to be the character we see in the TV-series.

I must say that now I’ve watched most of the Votoms Franchise, its plot is definitely impressive, especially when you put everything together (there are some parts at which the creators require the viewer to think for himself, in order to make sense). This OVA for me was the final bit of the puzzle that filled in Chirico’s backstory.

For those who want to watch the Votoms series in its chronological timeline: first watch this OVA, the Roots of Ambition. Then go to the Pailsen files. Then watch the first 13 episodes of the TV-series, then watch the Last Red Shoulder, and then you can watch the rest of the series, with apparently the Brilliant Heretic coming last (don’t bother with Big Battle, it’s just a silly side-story). Standalone this OVA again isn’t impressive, however it does become impressive when put together into the whole Votoms Storyline.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Well-paced and intriguing.
Characters: 8/10 – Extra depth for Pailsen, Chirico and some more of the side-characters.
Production-Values: 7/10 – Decent.
Setting: 9/10 – Extra background fits in well with the rest of the franchise.
Posted on with categories: Some Quick First Impressions

Ladies Versus Butlers

Short Synopsis: Our lead character assaults every cute girl in his school. By accident. On his first day of transfer.
Look. Here’s why I at least gave Chu Bra 20% of potential: it was creative. While it disturbed me, I admit that it made me laugh. It was wrong on so many levels, but at least the creators went with such a crazy idea. Ladies versus Butlers however, has nothing. In fact, it just broke a record of how many cliches and stereotypes you can stuff into one single episode! There is the tsundere princess who immediately falls in love with the lead character as soon as he gropes her, the evil childhood friend, the clumsy maid, walking into someone changing her clothes… blegh, forget it. If I were to summon all of the overused cliches in this episode I’d end up with ten paragraphs, Never once does this show use anything of its own. Everything is just ripped off from a ton of other and often better harem shows. The characters were never able to be something original because the creators kept hanging to these one-sided stereotypes. I love how the creators are trying to make the lead character look smart, simply by making the rest of the cast incredibly stupid. And believe me, the other characters have to be incredibly dumbed down in order to make this guy look good.
Potential: 0%

Yanyan Machiko

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is a sheep with kansai-ben accent.
From the creators of Usavich… what happened? Usavich was a fun and brainless action comedy, but this episode was nothing but a girly sheep who kept talking about shaving. And of course I can understand that the creators wanted some variety and that they wanted to try something different… but this episode just wasn’t funny. I didn’t understand any of the jokes, and they all felt way too random and nonsensical to me. In a bad way. The episode was only two and a half minutes long, and I still had to force myself through it.
Potential: 0%

Chu Bra

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is obsessed with underwear – no, that’s not me making fun of this series, that’s really the premise.
I’m really at a loss for words here… This anime is the product of deranged minds, there’s no other way. I knew that there were going to be lots of fanservice series this season, but a show about a panty-obsessed middle schooler was just beyond what I could have feared. The fanservice genre lately has had this trend where they seem to overtrump each other in terms of awkwardness. As much as I’m disturbed by this episode however, I do admit that it was creative, and much better than just another one of those cheesy harems. It’s an incredibly silly show, but I guess that that’s where its charms come from. The direction is weak, though. There are lots of cliches like tripping and falling and the symbolism was just stupid and uninspired in a bad way. And really, how long are the creators going to keep up this premise without repeating themselves?
OP: Very annoying and obnoxious J-pop.
ED: Decent enough J-rock.
Potential: 20%

Posted on 29 December 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews

I was really hoping that the second Votoms OVA, Big Battle, would be just as good as the first. But meh, this one’s just as cheesy as the title makes you suspect.

It’s quite likely that this is the worst thing that Ryousuke Takahashi has worked on. His series usually are amazing, but I have no idea what he had in mind here. While the Last Red Shoulder did a great job of creating extra background, Big Battle instead is just a silly side-story that even goes against the continuity of the series.

The bad guy is just a joke. He’s a cheesy terminator with a formulaic back-story. This guy should be the villain of an action flick, not a series as complex as Votoms. I also loved how in the TV-series, Fyana (the lead female) was much, much more than a damsel in distress. Now guess what this OVA reduces her to.

Shako’s character is ruined to a personality-less one-dimensional side-character, going completely against his motives in the TV-series. The Balalant army does things in this movie that made no sense whatsoever considering their actions in later.

The Votoms franchise has always had a lot of action, but it was always meaningful. With such a terrible story and cheesy villain who can’t stop smiling, there’s nothing about this OVA that makes it worth watching. Do yourself a favour, watch the Last Red Shoulder, skip this one. Are the rest of the Votoms OVAs like this as well? I hope not.

Storytelling: 5/10 – Pathetic. Just a meaningless action story.
Characters: 4/10 – Destroys once beloved characters by reducing them to silly one-dimensional stereotypes.
Production-Values: 7/10 – Decent, although the main villain looks incredibly stupid.
Setting: 4/10 – Doesn’t care about continuity.
Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews

The OVA format was introduced in 1984. A year later, in 1985, Armored Trooper Votoms was one of the first series that made use of the format, to add in extra episodes for extra background and stories. The story for the Last Red Shoulder was probably cut from the series due to time constraints (apparently, when it started airing it wasn’t even sure whether the entire series would make it to broadcast).

The Votoms franchise is a bit of a puzzle in continuity. This OVA fits between the first and the second arc, and I now realize that Pailsen Files was a prequel, instead of a sequel. The Last Red Shoulder really is a background OVA: standalone you’ll be wondering what the heck it is that you’re watching, and you really need to have seen at least the first 13 episodes of the TV-series in order to make sense of it. And even then there are things that are only explained later on in the series.

When put into context, however, this OVA does a great job of adding in extra background for a ton of major characters. Chirico and his past gets fleshed out as we meet some of his older friends, we see more of Pailsen, Ypsilon gets some considerable development and various of the side-characters also get fleshed out more.

In terms of storytelling, this OVA is pretty much similar to the TV-series, only on a less epic scale perhaps. The reason you want to watch this is really for the background, because I really managed to make more sense of the Votoms setting after watching this.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Pretty similar to TV-series
Characters: 8/10 – Quite a few get some extra depth.
Production-Values: 7/10 – Not really that spectacular.
Setting: 9/10 – The setting makes a lot more sense now.
KT here: This looks pretty though I am sure I will object to the way the history is presented.
KT here: Classicaloid Season 2 penultimate episode had a whole bunch of anime/game references including an Akuma one.
With Vinland, I think it was that it switched magazines, started as a shounen.
HYPE! HYPE! VINLAND HYPE! I really hope it's a 2-cour where they end with the "End of Prologue".
Wonder how Vinland will be. It's one of the very very very few long running series I still consider as good. Usually there is always a lot of stuff that annoys me once a series switches its tone or genre at some point.
I also wish Wixoss would die and I really loved the first series, even both seasons. But the lastest one without Okada was atrocious.
@Kaiser: that kind of distraction is just the internet's curse I know it as well. It kinda pisses me off because I was a pretty diligent worker once and created a lot of create new content even. Now I often get the urge to check the newest funny tweets/memes whatever.
Well played sir
In my headcanon I'm pretending the crowdfunding for a possible gunsmith cats anime will work.
This will be a good way to re-cap on older chapters of Vinland through the adaptation. I started reading it way back in 2007.
excellent news
So, vinland saga appears to have gotten picked up for an adaptation by WIT
I will watch Legend of Galactic Heroes. Probably give Golden Kamuy a chance.
I'll consider golden kamuy at least.
I'm too busy with galactic heroes original to watch the remake right now and you can bet for certain i am staying far far away from mahou shoujo site.
While I won't say anythong doreikus villain reveal pretty much killed it for me. I never really watched much of full metal panic due to not finding it funny.
Just let Wixoss, Sword art and tokyo ghoul die already , its beating the dead horse at this point.
Kaiser-Eoghan in the meantime you can all content yourself with that preview.
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
@Anon, When it's done.
They actually take work you know, not as if I can just cough them up on a whim.
Spring Preview when?
I enjoy TONS of subtitled stuff, but I have to admit...sometimes to re-winding and pausing when the dialogue gets heavy or complex.
I know Aico has a shit dub but sometimes I find myself watching in English and feeling lazy because its easier to watch more now that way.
I used to be able to marathon stuff so easily but now I can't do the 12 episodes in one go thing like I used to.
Something goes off, even after 30 minutes to an hour "Shit....have to see if something NOW....can't stop myself"
I'm not the kind of person who messes with their phone in a cinema, but at home somehow theres this moments where I just get this distracting urge to keep checking some site, E-mail, snacking, going to the bathroom too often or lie down, look at someones doujin/smut art or write something all when I'm supposed to be doing something else.
What I mean is, I'll be reading/watching something and its not boring at all, maybe even interesting, but I can't stop pausing sometimes for...reasons and it takes me longer to get through something because of this.
I know this is pretty much an effect of living in this generation but, for those of you who experience this, how do you guys deal with "distraction." Sometimes this annoys me....
@Amagi: I'm evasive of "non-old man pubs" at night , particularly late at night, I don't want to come across any "characters" I'd prefer not to encounter.
Liquor goes great after copious amounts of beef and steak
@Amagi, Considering that I am here, you probably should have expected a Fate GO review.
Wow I didn't expect a FGO review here
Well it's the reason why I never drink alcohol at home. Even if I were depressed it wouldn't change my mood so it's pointless.
I can reach a point where I feel like dreaming but none of my character traits change. Guess it always varies depending on the person. Same with my best friend, he's just get tired when drunk, but nothing else ever happens.
@Kaiser: Same here. Often go to pubs with friends at night but not only do I not want to ever get my mind "altered" by alcohol, it doesn't even work it seems. Or maybe it's the will or that I am just not influenceable.
Ah, this is just me being in grumpyKaiser mode =)
I have been drunk, I do not like it. I do like being tipsy, but hate drunk. I generally like beer because it does not muck me up as bad as harder drinks (ouzo, raki, and I absolutely despise tequila). The first time in my life I celebrated Valentine's Day was this year. Have to say that it was not too bad.
Baccardi and Vodka were the only forms of alcohol I felt didn't especially taste "off" to me.
I also dislike Valentines day for the schmaltz, insincerity, fakeness around it and the idea there has to be "a day" for it and the captilization, commercialization of emotions.
In all my thirty one years I have never been drunk and never intend to, I dislike the idea of surrendering my mind to alcohol and feeling "altered". If anything you would be safer doing marijuana.
And Guinness is massively overrated.
@Anon: I care for neither really.
Alcohol culture in a nutshell: if you like to drink sweet alcohol that actually tastes good instead of liquor that tastes like gasoline and piss, you're a pussy.
I've no interest in Irelands drinking culture /festival days much.
Its really just a day off or an excuse for 13 year olds to get drunk.
He was Welsh aswell and there weren't exactly that much snakes in Ireland to begin with.
@Mario: Its technically St Patricks day now yes. Not that I personally care for it, I got going to the parade out of my system over a decade ago, never liked the oirishness and cliches/commercialisim around it, in the end it just makes it impossible to get around the city, plus the weather is so poor its pointless going out anyway.
I saw some Irish flags around my area. Is it St Patrick day today?
I did listen to some of aico's dub, I don't think any of these people are experienced or professional voice actors.
Anon: B the beginning was too much of an awkward genre mix. I was content to just ignore aico because I'm not a fan of Bones as a studio but you're the second person to say it reminds them of some old ova.
@Anon: I enjoyed the combination of old and new with devilman, it even being able to eclipse the ovas, aswell as the experimental visual style and transgression, and as you said, the surprising emotional involvement.
So i finish, B the Beginning, Aico, Devilman( What a feel's ride). and I must say that they're far from perfect, but they remaind me of 90, early 2000 anime, that i loved so much and that is a big plus. Today's anime doesnt feel quite the same in my opinion, what are your thoughts.. Now im getting excited to watch SWORD GAI!.
While obvious an anime series, After the rain often feels like a live action film.
@Mario: Actually that does remind me, I never saw Pola X by Carax.
Miike is extremely hit or miss, but I loved how Audition minipulated the viewer with its slower first half before really taking off, most of Ichi the killer is just a perversely funny black comedy to me.
Chang-dong-Lee is refreshingly less melodramatic then other Korean directors.
Benh Zeitlin is one I'm not familiar with, but it turns out he did beasts of southern wild and I enjoy magical realism.
@Mario: I wasn't aware Carax was still alive, some sgements of holy motors work, others don't , lovers on the bridge was a more accessible film I recall.
@Fluca: okay. Kinda fixed it. I don't think we have a spoiler code so I just changed your spoiler into white color
@Kaiser: I'm checking movies from indie auteur directors that could come out this year, interested Benh Zeitlin's second movie, Lee Chang Dong's and Leos Carax's one
Would love to see Our Little Sister in anime form, actually
Although Miike directs like at least 40 feature films, I only remember his Audition and Ichi the Killer the most, both of which I have extremely mixed feeling about
Every time I here the title Aico, it makes me think its some kind of eco/environmental thing, which I know it isn't.
The fate/extra Alice character (I looked her up) looks like she belongs in rozen maiden.
The modern Japanese directors can be prolific Miike and Sono pump out more than one film a year.
And it shows, that Our little sister adaptation, that live action adaptations CAN sometimes work.
Quick fact, that action crime josei anime, Bananna fish, coming out in April is based on a manga by the writer of Our little sister's manga.
@Mario: The interest being, how he would handle something so removed from his usual style.
@Mario: Actually re-checking, its next week, The third murder , which seems very different, a courtroom drama with some philosophy in it.
I really enjoy Our Little Sister, but I think mainly because the film is entirely within my comfort zone (Slice of life manga material, about the life of these girls)
@Kaiser: Which one will you see? He now directs one movie per year so it's hard to keep track some times. I really like his style and I reckon people who like slice-of-life will enjoy his movies
@Mario: Hirokazu Koreeda has a new film out, seeing it on Friday, I've only seen Our little sister by him.
@Anon: I essentially deleted the rest of the episodes off my computer after struggling through the first, like most, maybe moreso I got very turned off by the genre mixing. Thats not to say that I'm against genre mixes though, but they have to be weird, I mean really weird.
I am not a fan of breather episodes, something most modern anime are pretty keen to insert. I hate breaking of climaxes in order to show three SoL-, fanservice- or formularic monster of the week episodes before the main plot progresses further. When I want SoL I go watch a full fleshed SoL. Aico is pretty straight forward and kinda easy to watch in one go in that regard. Nothing really new though.
Just finished Aico. Had a few downsides like most series but I enjoyed it. Felt like a classic scifi anime you'd see in the 90s.
@Anon, I watched it. Though it was mixed but a decent enough watch. It really felt like two shows hastily combined into one. Been thinking of writing a review for it and Aico once I finish Aico.
*Have you watch
Have toy watch, B The Beginning?
I would call it somewhat lightweight however, but I won't complain/level too much against it, as it is afterall, a family film.
*in my memory
Nice animation showcase aswell though I don't know how long this will really stay i my memory, though it was nice.
Although it relies on being fairly convenient, linear and simplistic, that Mary witch flower anime movie is at its strongest when visually drawing the viewer into its world and wherever it shows spectacle. I'd say its adequately charming. Fair enough.
Hakata sounds like Gangasta. A series I enjoyed, despite its massive flaws
thanks guys. I will probably give it a try. I am also watching the Castlevania anime finally. Not really worth it for me. Also I watched the first episode of Garo Vanishing Line. I can a say it was fun.
Hi guys, anyone here played Sea Bed VN? Just wondering...
@Anon1880687 - I watched a couple of episodes. Feels like a foreign series. Since it doesn't feel like an anime made in Japan. I did like the group of revengers seem to have more personality than the main leads which insinuate chemistry but doesn't go deep into it. I don't remember if they explain why one of the leads chooses to dress like a girl. Though at least they give him/her a male voice.
@KTravlos: me. Not impressed. First few eps were alright with a set of bold characters, but later the lot just goes around in circle for these characters acting cool and cool rules the day. I dropped it after episode 6
KT here. Has anybody watched Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens? Impressions?
@Vonter: It gets more serious later although I agree it's better starting this without any knowledge about the series, like I did. I just loved the tragicomical jokes and the obsessive nostalgia Bojack suffered from and neither needed nor expected any drama but it was pretty good when it happened nonetheless.
@Anon, Not really. They just wanted to find some justification for the trashy aspects for a show they liked rather than accept it.
And while I understand how obnoxious it can be, there are times when people complain about a show doesn't explain itself and then get pissed off when you try to give an explanation.
ProZD nails it on the head yet again The people who continue to make excuses for kill la kill's fan service are the same ones fapping to episodes of the show to this day
@Vonter: From what I hear, while it does have comedy, by the second season not only does it improve, but its more of a drama.
I've been watching Bojack Horseman. It's good, yet watching certain clips before the actual series made me expect a darker show. I know it's a cartoon, but some jokes reduced the impact of certain events. Though I suppose it's meant to be uplifting and not just mean spirited. It gave me some Nier and Aku no Hana vibes.
We watched the first three episodes of B the Beginning. I must say I enjoyed it. We will see how the rest goes.
*whole franchise bar Macross delta
Despite loving the mans work since I got started on anime when I was younger, I still haven't seen Kawamori's most recent Macross series despite seeing the whole franchise.
I think devilman set me up for the idea that netflix would be putting out more transgressive anime.
If i were to rank the three netflix original shows that have released so far in descending order, it would be devilman crybaby, AICO, and then B: the beginning
so i just finished binge watching AICO...give it a watch if you guys have time, it's pretty good
@Mario: A good dose of reality in that episode though.
@Mario: Well I guess I called it completely wrong on who Chihiro was lol
@Amagi: Steins gate spent far too much time on a jokey first half.
Not that I'm trashing polemical writing, I find stuff by Jean-Luc-Godard fucking funny.
Doing a giant mood piece isn't pretentious, because it probably doesn't have a concrete meaning any way.
While still keeping it with enough sophistication .
For example, doing a rant of a film will only communicate to your intellectual friends and people already in the know, the working class guy you want to inform with your societal/political/religious ideas , was probably watching a western back in the 60s/70s, just incorporate the themes into that while not sacrificing the films appeal
With regards to pretension, I think that comes into play when you have a director trying to communicate ideas but ends up becoming ridiculously, overly polemical, its better to communicate thought provoking ideas through something straight, while also remaining some distance.
I think it often happens when authors create things on the fly, at least with manga. You can see terrible forms of comedy/SoL -> drama/scifi switches among webcomics, which are usually done by "amateurs", some of them being pretty young. It's always good when a series hints or blatantly shows what it is during its first episodes/chapters. Not talking about mysteries but genres.
Usually for dramatic comedy to work I feel it needs to let the viewer know early on that the story will feature both....the sudden drama thing generally is a result where a funny film needs an ending and a story needs to be fabricated hastily.
Melodrama is like genre mixes. If it does work it can be something special, but it's really hard to write and most directors just lack the talent to do so. It's like a comedy that turns serious at some point. It CAN work, but there aren't many cases where that happens. Usually they're just alienating their comedy fans and the drama fans weren't there to begin with.
Same here
I think some really old Euro movies, latin ones especially get away with melodrama well because the acting was different and more theatrical .
If the mekodramatics can properly cast a spell on a viewer, I am open to it if the writers strong enough but in general, when I'm watching something, the best stories are the ones where the atmosphere is so assure I forget I'm watching fiction.
I know they just want to make their audience feel good but I think it's a terrible moral or idea. Especially since most people know at least one person they loved that died from such illnesses. No matter what they did or tried to do to overcome it.
Yeah exactly. Honestly most cancer movies are terrible I think. I also hate these series in which the main character, I don't know, wins a match for his cancer-ridden love and then s/he recovers.
@Amagi: Too silly for me, the psycho faces.
@Kaiser: Not using music can be a great method to illustrate serious moments I think.
I've spoken to my father about this, who recovered from cancer years ago, those kind of phrases irritate him, hr said " don't battle, fight cancer, you fucking suffer through it, then if your lucky you get through it"
I mean, again, I loved Madoka but I see how this method they used is kinda cheap. It's still better than many other series of that type. I am aready looking forward to see how terrible Magical Girl Site is, the trailer looks like a psycho face trash fest.
The really annoying thing is when some of these docs and dramas use phrases like "her battle, her FIGHT, her BRAVE fight against cancer.
I enjoyed Madoka but I know what you mean. I think I will never rewatch Madoka but I love to see certain Tutu- and Sailor Moon scenes from time to time. I think Madoka is kinda similar to netflix shows or code geass in that regard. It always ends with some evil cliffhanger to hype you up for the next episode and it throws in one shocking revelation after another for the same reason.
@Amagi: On the music thing, some documentaries do this. What I loved about Shoah and night and fog is that the directors showed the landscapes/buildings where it happened and never used music.
I mean I know how bad ww2 and other things were. I really don't need rain, sad music and lots of actor tears to realize that. It reminds me of the laughing tracks sitcoms have that tell you when you have to laugh. And newer movies have exaggerated effects as well, not a fan of that. I rather see well thought-out content than a bomb-show. Not to mention that I hate sensory overload.
Its also kind of why I can NEVER look at hentai of something I enjoyed when I was young.
Which I admit is bias and a crap opinion lol
I grew up with Cardcaptor Sakura and Sailormoon and looking into lighthearted mahou shoujo , I don't mind nanoha and tutu, but there was always the feeling madoka was corrupting something.
On dark moe, I've stopped with lol edgy when criticizing Madoka, I realize that its the equivalent to Batman porn to me, the idea of that level of a slant on a genre I went for when I was a kid.
I agree. I was interested in Schindler's List when I was ~12 or so because it was something new for me. Nowadays I realize it's not really my thing, there are many western war shows that come of as too "pathetic" to me, they feel too much like, well, Hollywood blockbusters (which is what they actually are) than a serious commetary on war or so.
@Amagi: Thats the trouble I have with Hollywood , a film about Autism like Rain man or a mental illness movie like I am Sam, these American movies never seem real and the depictions feel so hammy and inaccurate.
On the dark moe trope, rather than throwing out words on it, its the tonal inconsistency that gets to me.
Yeah the opposite is bad as well. A show can have good intentions, even lots of good ideas but still have a bad execution.
Schindler's list is a great example of this, personally I think popcorn drama/oscar baiting the holocaust is somewhat distasteful and the film comes off as comparitively ingenuinely when I've seen a couple of eastern war films by people who actually lived during the war.
And "egdy" is very much about the tone a series has and not so much the actual content. Therefore it has to be explained as well, a dark series, even one with lots of blood, isn't necessarily edgy, it depends on the stance the autor has, whom we're supposed to root for and why, how characters and scenes are depicted and the overall tone, moral and so on.
On another note, to go back to "critic proof", this is a terrible practice because it allows people to take an easy topic for a story and it become forbidden to give a bad review.
Yeah, "badly written" for example doesn't mean anything unless you're gonna illustrate how it is badly written by showing and analyzing examples from the show and explain why the writing for these scenes is weak
Thats why I like here, people actually talk about a show in some detail, even the reviewers.
An non-backed up opinion when I'm looking for a show to follow doesn't tell me anything, how am I meant to know to watch something based on a single word or sentence?
I suppose its less of a case of buzzwords and more how people don't explain anything . The reason I say I have to do a 300 word review or long opinion on something is because I feel buzzwords and one word/one sentence opinions are un-helpful.
@Amagi: And I think thats certainly an issue, the lines being bkurred between shitposting/trolling and genuine critique .
I mean there are a lot of badly written shows out there or shows that are too tryhard, but people often use these phrases as buzzwords for everything and don't state reasons for using these terms for a specific show. I see tons of "egdy" posts as soon as a series is a bit darker than the usual harem and it's hard to distinguish these pieces from actual shitposts or trolls.
It sounds better to say that I don't like something because it's too egdy, too stupid and pure pandering (when it's about moe) or "badly written" than saying that I can't relate to certain settings, characters and so one or that I've seen a certain idea too often.
@Kaiser: I think many people just don't want to admit that disliking a series is usually a subjective thing. They rather want to credit their own intelligence for not liking it.
New Boogiepop anime announced for 2018 o/
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