Posted on 28 June 2008 with categories: Amatsuki, Anime Reviews


I really like Studio Deen. Sure, they may screw up their series very often, but when they hit a classic, they really deliver an amazing series. Their newest series to add to that list is Amatsuki, with the interesting thing being that even after watching it I’m still not 100% sure why I liked it so much.

For starters, Amatsuki combines history, science fiction and fantasy with each other when the main character (Tokidoki) gets sucked into a virtual world, which ends up being the ayakashi-infested feudal Japan. At first sight, it’s not the most original premise, but it’s the execution that makes this series unique.

The dialogue in this anime is absolutely amazing. They’re really deep and detailed, and you can see that a lot of time has been put into them. It’s no wonder that this series shares a director with Le Chevalier d’Eon. These characters could start talking about watching paint dry and still make it come across as interesting.

On top of that, this series also has an excellent sense of storytelling. It carefully builds up everything that you need to know for this series (again with that excellent dialogue), and there have been so many subtle details added that makes this series come alive.

Then there’s also a very complex storyline. This series really likes to make the boundaries between good and evil as fuzzy and complex as possible: every character has some kind of secret agenda or own goal. Today’s friend may be tomorrow’s enemy, and vice versa. Because of this, this series is especially in its element when many characters are together at the sane place: there’s so much going on at the same time.

Obviously, this series’ main selling point is talking, so don’t even dare to come near this series if you’re expecting Naruto and Bleach-esque fights. Sure, there is some action in this series, but it often gets overshadowed by said dialogue. That’s not to say that the fights are bad, though. It’s quite the contrary: fights are brutal, they come out of nowhere in a light-hearted mood and progress to mercilessly beat down the characters, with large amount of blood.

This also isn’t a series that you can watch to relax. You need to constantly pay attention in order to catch all the subtle details and nuances to get the most out of this series, even though the overall pacing in this series is similar to that of .Hack//Sign (in other words: sloooow).

Whether or not you’ll like the graphics is a very personal thing. Studio Deen has always been a fan of brightly coloured and frilly character-designs. The same goes in Amatsuki: everything looks very stylish, but it’s just a matter of personal preferences. The soundtrack is an excellent one, though, although a few tracks may have been played a bit too much.

Overall, I recommend Amatsuki to those with patience. It’s a wonderfully written first half of a series that’ll be continued… some day. It’s very stylish, with a unique sense of storytelling and a complex storyline. Another outstanding series by Studio Deen.

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


Haha! Now I know for sure that the second season is only a matter of time. There is NO way that the creators planned this to be the final episodes. There were TONS of hints for a continuation.

The fox-story could have just been resolved and everyone could have just happily returned home. Instead, the fox-thing was resolved within five minutes, and in the rest of the episode we saw Princess Summoning Teiten, challenging it and getting killed by it, causing Amatsuki to go haywire. The ending credits showed a bunch of characters who haven’t even been introduced yet. If I had to guess, then the second season will arrive around spring 2009, just like the continuation of Druaga no Tou, I suppose.

On top of that, this episode also was as good as ever: it was both hilarious at one time and tense at the next. It really seems like Bonten isn’t the main villain here, and I still like how, despite his tough-look, he was trying to get his subordinate back all this time. I love how he just laughed at Tsuyukusa’s actions as if they were some kind of usual antics of the guy. There were lots of different nuances in this episode that are hard to describe, but make this series stand above most other anime.

This episode also showed how easily enemies can turn into friends and especially the other way around: Tokidoki is still affiliated with the princess, and the princess has a lot of enemies, as shown in this episode. A lot of allies may have been formed when trying to stop the fox, but now that she’s gone, I really wonder what will happen?

In any case, I am really looking forward to that second season. Especially since Gon is going to play a bigger role again. He’s been awfully absent here, being unconscious for three entire episodes and all…

Posted on 21 June 2008 with categories: Amatsuki


In true Amatsuki-fashion, the big climax of this series (or at least the first half… I’m still waiting for that second season announcement…) is not about action at all, but instead about dialogue. And of course, it wasn’t just a matter of the tree being cut down by evil people, there seems to be a huge backstory behind even that, and that’s where Heihachi fits into things, as he was there when the decision was made to cut it down. If I understood things correctly, it was also used to smuggle dangerous stuff, though I didn’t pick up exactly what that was.

It’s interesting how Bonten didn’t turn out to be the bad guy, even though everything about his appearance screams “typical bad guy” at first. He too just wanted to get his idiot companion Tsuyukusa back. What’s also interesting is how the fourth heavenly being (or however these guys are called) decides to show himself.

At the moment, I’m SO hoping for a second season, especially after learning that Druaga no Tou also gets to have a continuation. Amatsuki already is amazing, so I’m really interested in seeing what it can do once the characters start developing. I know the other works of the director, and seeing how awesome Chevalier became in its second half, I’m really curious to see how a second season of Amatsuki will turn out.

Posted on 14 June 2008 with categories: Amatsuki


For the past few years, I’ve been using AniDB to keep track of the anime I’ve watched. It’s got a clean look with a lot of options for statistics, and I especially like how you can assign priorities to the entries in your wishlist, which helps to give a clear overview over my huge to-watch list. Unfortunately, there are enough reasons to dislike AniDB, and recently another one of them got introduced: the tag-system.

The tag-system basically enables visitors to add their own tags to different anime. I’m not complaining about the ones as “action”, “lost technology” or “randomness” (although I do wonder what makes these so different from AniDB’s category-system). My problem is mainly with the more subjective categories as “Boring”, “Utter Crap” and “Emo Fag”.

So yes, I’m indeed mentioning this in this particular post because Amatsuki has been labelled as “Utter Crap” by god knows who. Other entries I majorly disagree with are Wellber no Monogatari, Mai Hime and Crystal Blaze (under that same tag), and Ergo Proxy, Flag, Higurashi, Jigoku Shoujo, Voices of a Distant Star, Seirei no Moribito, Evangelion, Trinity Blood and Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, which have been labelled as “Boring”. I also wonder what the category “Emo Fag” really contributes…

My problem with these categories, other than that some of my own favourites are amongst them, is that they do absolutely the opposite of promoting anime. If someone was looking for a show to watch, stumbled upon Crystal blaze, only to find it amongst the utter-crap tag, there’d obviously be a small percentage of him, actually checking it out. I’m perfectly fine if you want to say bad things about a series; heck, that’s what stating your opinion is for, but the tag-system is such a ridiculous 4chan-way to do it. It never allows you to state the reasons for having that opinion. Besides, AniDB also has comments, tags and reviews for stating opinions. Heck, I’m still not sure about the difference between all these.

I’m really feeling that AniDB is about to drown into its own features. What’s the purpose of the mylist and why isn’t it integrated with the vote-system? And there are more of these details that gradually make you unable to see the forest because of all the trees that are in the way. So yeah, if any of you knows a better site to keep track of the anime you watch (besides the obvious myanimelist.net), would you care to share it?

Okay, I’ve gone off-topic for a bit too long now… Back to this week’s episode of Amatsuki. This finally sheds a bit of light on Heihachi’s fate. AS it turns out, Tsuyukusa never abandoned him, but instead he saved the guy from being killed by the fox demon. In exchange, he became some sort of servant (?) to the fox-demon. The thing that Bonten did to him in the previous episode was just to read his mind to find out what happened.

I also now finally know the mission that Toki and Kuchiha were going to do: they were going to check up on the guy who cut down the tree that housed the spirit that the fox demon grew up with. It now all makes sense: she was trying to get it back, and because of that rumours of Ayakashi probably started floating around. Now all that’s left is to figure out where the heck Tsuruune and Benitobi have gone to.

And oh my god, Toki and Kuchiha are really cute together as a couple. I’m surprised to see that even the romance in this series went well: it’s there, but it knows exactly when to appear and disappear.

In any case, yet another great episode. Let’s hope that it won’t be over in just two episodes.

Posted on 7 June 2008 with categories: Amatsuki


I remember noting somewhere how an average episode of Real Drive feels like it’s much shorter than it actually is. The opposite is the case with Amatsuki. Seriously, I can hardly believe that this episode was just twenty minutes long. I could have sworn that this episode was much longer. I think this has to do with the fact that Amatsuki never gives its audience a time to catch a breath. When it’s done with one scene, it immediately thunders onto the next one without any signs of taking a break. And I think that that’s one of the reasons why this series turned out so awesome.

I must be crazy to follow such a series that spends so much time on its dialogues raw, but this episode was so worth it. The banter between Toki and Kuchiha is getting more hilarious with every episode, and the characters keep being a delight to watch, even though most of the dialogues get lost on me.

So, what I picked up:
– The guy that was introduced in the previous episode turns out to be someone who an provide more information about the four gods in this world (or however Bonten, the princess, Teiten and the other one are called).
– In the end, this guy and Tsuruuno go to one place, while Toki and Kuchiha go to another place that could possibly be invested with Ayakashi. I’m assuming that they too are after the fox demon
– Bonten is meanwhile trying to figure out what happened to Tsuyukusa, as it seems that he’s got interest in the fox demon as well. The guy we saw him with in the last episode could know something about his whereabouts.
– In the end, Heihachi doesn’t turn out to be dead, just heavy beaten up. This series is very sneaky: for three episodes, it’s been suggesting this guy’s death: in this episode too, Bonten draws some kind of life-spirit out of him, and we can only guess what’s going to happen next.

Still, with this episode, I know for sure: my top-3 for this season consists out of Kaiba, Himitsu and Amatsuki. All three have a unique sense of storytelling and presentation that make them absolutely worth watching. But still, I need to remind myself to watch this episode subbed when it comes out.

Posted on 31 May 2008 with categories: Amatsuki


This post is going to be short, as I have a slight headache right now. I swear to god, Amatsuki isn’t the right series to watch with a headache. This episode in particular introduced a character who could give Holon from Real Drive a run for her money in terms of elaborate monologues.

This episode continues to build up the Fox-demon arc. Toki and Kuchiha get more information about the state of things from the above-mentioned guy (it seems that Bonten is after the princess’s life). The thing that stood out obviously was Amatsuki’s trademark style of storytelling: first it’s all bright and light-hearted, until the fox demon suddenly brutally kills Heihachi while Tsuyukusa just watches her do it and doesn’t even try to help the guy.

Posted on 25 May 2008 with categories: Amatsuki


Flashback time! If there weren’t already enough reasons for a second season, then this episode added another one. Episode eight usually is the point for 13-episode series to start building up for their climaxes. If there’s going to be a flashback, it’s most often used as a revelation of an important mystery. This episode instead chooses to give more depth to a set of three characters: Kuchiha, Shamon, and one of the monks that works at the temple of the princess.

Especially the latter is a clear indication that this series is aiming beyond thirteen episodes. Heck, I never could have guessed that that guy was so important to have his own background story. It took me a long while to figure out who the heck he was again, but it seems he was the one who guided Toki, Kon and Kuchiha around the temple when they arrived, and explained their customs a bit. To think that he actually was more than a handy way to give background on the temple. The director is no idiot, so he wouldn’t have given background to such an obscure character at this point if he knew that it would be a pointless waste of time.

This episode also shows how Shamon came to adopt Kuchiha. The village she lived in used to shun her because of the huge demon in her. That’s why she’s always so gloomy when this demon gets mentioned. It’s nothing new, but it’s good to see this with more detail. I also really like Shamon; he’s a strong character, and yet he’s down to earth and has a sense of humour.

Overall, this episode was very enjoyable. The cast is really showing that it can be great, even without a heavy atmosphere. Oh, and I like it when an anime doesn’t feature its main character at all for an entire episode as well.

Posted on 18 May 2008 with categories: Amatsuki


Wow. The past few episodes have al started, seeming like a regular intermezzo, and then the episode hits its halfway-point and closes the off with a really powerful second half. This really makes every episode deliver. Series with a continuous storyline often need to insert quiet episodes to give the characters a bit of time to be fleshed out, but Amatsuki really blurs the line between an eventful episode and an intermezzo. It’s a difficult trick to pull off right, but things like these can make a good anime even better.

The quiet parts in this episode continued to spend a bit more time on the love-relationship between Kuchiha and Toki, as well as introducing an important person from Toki’s past. As a child, he seemed to spend a lot of time with this person. Though if I had to mention one part I didn’t like about this series, then it’s the tsundere-ness of that female priest. She worked well in the episode she was introduced in, but she seriously needs some development to stay away from the usual “has no chance to be loved by male lead”-stereotype. I do like, however, how Kuchiha tried to approach Toki when he was about to have breakfast and failed. ^^;

In the second half:
– Toki and Kuchiha head off to do some job
– Kon interrogates Ginshuu, and finds out that the Koku-ten is the closest to Tei-ten (the being that created everything). This Koku-ten seems to be a guy called “Yakou”. I’m not sure who this guy is, but he seems to be some kind of enemy. He lives to drive not only Ayakashi, but also humans and the world crazy. Oh, and the curse Ginshuu is under doesn’t enable him to keep living; it prevents him from dying.
– The fox ayakashi prepares to strike and at the end of the episode she does something that looks suspiciously like killing Heihachi

Posted on 10 May 2008 with categories: Amatsuki


Well, we can already see the results of 92JeyRfcya, YS2YSUOe1cLtf, and YnXmHqtxqS being arrested. It’s been 24 hours, and there’s still no Amatsuki 06 on Share to be found. I can only guess (and thank) where the person who uploaded a version on Tokyo Toshokan got his from, but it seems that all other share-uploaders have become scared of being arrested themselves.

I’m not claiming that the illegal file-sharing is right. The reason why I still use programs as Share and Bittorrent is simply because they’re the easiest and most consistent ways to get anime. Once anime companies come with a way that can beat these, I’ll most likely switch to them. The thing is, however, that there are still people who don’t realize the irony of trying to solve illegal file-sharing with violence. Take this analogy: suppose you have a dog that doesn’t behave, and you kick it every time it does something it’s not supposed to do. Obviously, the poor thing won’t instantly turn tame, and instead you’re turning it into a wild beast.

There’s more to that than just that analogy, though. To quote Alafista, the three share-uploaders have been charged of uploading “anime like Macross, Gundam and Code Geass”. In other words, the well-known series. The thing with these shows, however, is that there’s a large enough fanbase for these shows for fans to find some kind of way to watch them in a safe, though slightly more troublesome way. Remember when that cease and desist-letter was sent to the fansubbers of Death Note? Well, I’ve never seen Death Note episodes being subbed as fast as those final two.

And indeed, Kanokon, a wildly popular show (gee, I wonder why…) arrived today on Tokyo Toshokan just as scheduled, while Amatsuki had to wait a day. And I guess that waiting a day isn’t that bad, but what about the series that are even less popular than Amatsuki? I don’t want to imagine how long the raws for Himitsu or Crystal Blaze will show up. Or the worst of all: Porfy no Nagai Tabi and Kaiba.

So, basically what the anime executives are trying to do right now is destroying a major source of international promotion for the more obscure and less mainstream series, who actually NEED this kind of attention, while the popular series are hardly affected at all and just sell themselves anyway. Imagine if the Japanese authorities would continue to smash down the illegal file-sharing circuit: all we’d get to see then are Code Geass and Kanokon, while all the other series die a slow death without ever getting the chance of being recognized. (no offence to those who love Code Geass and Kanokon, of course)

Anyway, please excuse this rambling. About this episode: Amatsuki has just kicked xxxHolic out of my top-3 of this season, and that doesn’t say that xxxHolic has become bad by all means. I don’t know exactly what it is with this series, but it consistently has me edged at the screen. There are hardly any weak moments. I really feel that the dialogue draws me in like no other, even though I only understand 50% of it. Amatsuki realizes full well that its main character is an idiot, and makes perfect use of that.

Posted on 3 May 2008 with categories: Amatsuki


Seriously… how good can this series be anyway? Even though this episode took a step down from the previous episode, it was still an excellent one, and the thing is that I’ve got no idea what the creators did to make this series so great. Sure, it’s got a great soundtrack, but it’s not the best one this season. The art is pretty, but there are other series with better art. The incredibly complex dialogue probably helps, but even then I only understand half of what people are saying. I really can’t exactly put my finger as to what makes this series so great, but there has to be some reason why this series suddenly stands out, while most other series need episodes of building-up before they can reach such an emotional level…

I also have a question to those who’ve read the novels for Amatsuki. I recently found out that Amatsuki is only going to have 13 episodes, and I can’t really think that that would be the right length for this series. If I’m not mistaken, then there are 7 volumes of the original Amatsuki manga, and after episode five, at which point in the manga are we currently? If we’re just at the end of the first volume, then there’s a possibility for a second season, though if we’re up to the third volume already, then this’ll be a bit more difficult.

From what I understood in this episode, Tokidoki and Kon finally meet the princess’ real form. I first wondered a bit why so many priestesses were needed for just a simple audience, but then it turns out the princess’ body has been long dead, and it takes a whole ritual to get her spirit from that doll we saw in the previous episode to that body. Another surprise: this “princess” turns out to be a guy. Meanwhile, Tsuyukusa follows the spirit of a broken fox-statue.

From what I picked up and read on on-line forums, the “princess” and Bonten seem to be on opposing sides, and both want to use Tokidoki’s strange abilities. I’m glad that in this episode, we saw a more human side of Bonten, getting annoyed at Utsubushi’s worrying. Bonten and the Princess seem two out of four beings who can at will change bodies. The other two are a strange priest that hasn’t been introduced yet and the spirit that created this world. The names of all these four seem to end with “ten”, meaning heaven. I’m not sure about the intentions of these guys yet, though.

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