Posted on 15 September 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews, No.6




For me, the current Summer Season had two series that stood above the others: Penguin Drum and Natsume Yuujinchou. The interesting part was that under that, there were all kinds of awesome series fighting for third place: all shows with amazing concepts, but each of this series has their own HUGE flaw. Number six is one of them, and despite its flaw which I’ll get to below it is worth it for most of its run.

For ten episodes, this is excellent science fiction. It’s set in a dystopian future, but what sets it apart is its cast of characters: the creators try to put as much character development in this series as possible. It’s a bit rushed because of this, but this is one of the rare series that’s just constantly changing and evolving. It’s always interesting to watch and always unpredictable of the direction it sends its characters, and especially the main cast in. The drama and chemistry around them is always delightful to watch with hardly any dull moments.

In terms of production values this series also delivers. Bones do an excellent job on the animation, where it especially excels on the expressiveness of the characters, but also the soundtrack is excellent, and pretty much the best of the season aside from Penguin Drum. The production values perhaps aren’t the best, but they still are very impressive.

But yeah, the big flaw. The thing with this season is that it had so many series that actually could have become classics if these were avoided. Blood-C has its characterization, Kami-Sama no Memo-Chou has the way it acts like it has more episodes than it actually has, and No.6…. has its ending. Oh, the ending.

Oh, with enough suspense of disbelief you might actually not be bothered by what happens, unfortunately for me that did not work. Right from the beginning it was clear that there was no way that No.6’s story would fit into 11 episodes. The ending was bound to be rushed and inconclusive. I did however not expect the amount of stuff that this show pulled out of its ass during the final episode to be as big as it was. The finale of this series is completely inconsequential: its deus ex machina make no sense, are incredibly forced, negate some of the build-up it carefully constructed in the earlier episodes and leave with one hell of a bad taste and even more question marks.

If however you watch until episode 10 you’ll be rewarded with an excellent albeit very inconclusive dystopian adventure series. I really do hope that this was a lesson for future Noitamina series, though: you can’t just pick a story and hope that it’ll work well in Noitamina format!

Storytelling: 7/10 – Excellent build-up, the pacing is rushed, because of that it can stuff a ton of developments in a short time. That ending, though…
Characters: 9/10 – The best part of the series. It’s a bit forced, but nevertheless very interesting with a cast that is constantly changing.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Detailed animation, particularly excellent background art, excellent soundtrack.
Setting: 8/10 – Fairly typical dystopia, but used very well and it forms a good backdrop.

Suggestions:
Ultraviolet: Code 044
Amatsuki
Ergo Proxy

Posted on with categories: No.6



Wut?

Okay, that was the complete opposite of what I expected.

Let’s start with the good parts: this show actually delivered quite an emotional finale, much more than I expected and I don’t just mean in the way I’m going to rant below. Safu’s death, the gunfires, plus the huge explosions. Everything was very well delivered at least. Plus, some of the best background tracks that the series had showed yet popped up.

But seriously. I’m stunned at just how much crap the creators pulled out of their ass! I mean, what the hell? So many bloody things were introduced from out of nowhere it’s not even funny:
– Safu magically controls the bees to first attack everyone and then form giant twisters that bring down the walls of No.6… where the hell did that come from? I mean, I understand the super powers and all, but super powers should not be an excuse to just pull whatever the hell happens to be the most convenient for the script.
– The entire building blows itself up as soon as the main computer gets destroyed? That’s one pretty big design flaw, isn’t it?
– Why didn’t they take Safu with them before blowing the thing up in the first place? There was no guarantee that she had been changed forever.

And BY FAR the worst of all:
– That was one of the most blatant revival scenes I have seen in a long while. Holy crap, the point where Shion revived was utterly terrible. The creators completely used Safu’s powers to pull whatever they want out of their ass. Nothing was built up or prepared for it. Also, Safu: why the hell did you turn into a giant bee? You seriously wasted the best parts of the soundtrack on THAT!? What a waste!

Seriously, at the start of this week, I was pretty much convinced that No.6, Kamisama Dolls and Kamisama no Memo-Chou would end up fighting for the spot of my third favourite series this season. The only one still standing straight after this is KamiMemo. KamiDolls looks to head into an utterly generic conclusion, while No.6 ended up at the complete other side of the spectrum where it tried to do way too much and therefore negated a ton of what it had been building up to. Heck, Blood-C may even enter my top 5 of the series that debuted during the Summer Season because of this.

So yeah, this season of Noitamina was definitely weaker than during the spring season: I do consider both Usagi Drop and No.6 to be worse than Anohana and C. Especially where C surprised me by having an awesome conclusion, this one surprised me by how utterly forced it was. The difference was that with C, everything was wrapped up, it got to make the points it wanted to make, and it had its awesome action. The reset it pulled made actual sense and delivered a wonderful sense of irony. No.6 meanwhile came completely out of nowhere.
Rating: — (Lacking)

Posted on 9 September 2011 with categories: No.6



Seriously, ignore the huge holes that will be left in the plot next week, and this was another amazing penultimate episode. Heck, even though it in no way closes off the series, this looks to be an amazing climax. This episode was chock full of strong emotions and bold revelations.

The best of which was the thing that Nezumi warned about, at the end of the previous episode. I mean, we knew by now that Number Six had to be kidnap a huge amount of people: you have doubts and are of a lower class, then you’re out. That had to happen often. Instead of taking the time of burning these dead bodies, they just dump everyone on one huge pile and stop worrying about them. It was disturbing to see to say the least, but what really made that scene was that it indeed changed Shion’s character significantly. It was really well portrayed, and happened before he knew it.

This lead to a really emotional climax at the end when Shion actually kills another human, while Nezumi stands by with shock of how he lost his innocence. Oh, and some excellent animation also helped here. And that wasn’t even the only character development in this episode. Inukashi also got quite an interesting role when that baby suddenly got dumped on her. I think the reason why nobody doubted her gender had a lot to do with that flashback they showed of Nezumi when his tribe got murdered: there he also looked like a girl and nobody found it strange.It probably has a lot to do with cultural values and how women usually dress in these slums.

As for the next episode, I wonder how big of a disaster it’ll be. Knowing Seishi Minakami, it’ll probably just end. We get a nice climax between Safu and learn how overly powerful she has become, combined with a huge hook to a second season that will never arrive. This unfortunately had it coming ever since this show got announced.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 1 September 2011 with categories: No.6



Oh, that’s very cruel. That cliff-hanger I mean. They were about to dive into the core of the correctional facility, and Nezumi said to Shion that he’s very likely going to change after what he sees there. So yeah, we only have two episodes left for that. Don’t promise awesome character development when you know that you’re going to end in less than one hour!

Yeah, I may sound like a broken record and all, but that’s the thing with this series: it just is THAT solid. For the past nine episodes there have been no weaknesses whatsoever aside from the “big one”. Seriously, it’s been a while since I watched a series that was this solid, and whose only single problem was the fact that it was based on a much longer source material that it would never be able to complete. And to be honest, this had it coming right from the beginning with Seishi Minakami: he’s basically pulling another Shigurui here, which also was a rock-solid adaptation from beginning aside from the fact that it just refuses to answer one of the biggest questions of the plot.

What caught my attention the most was the near rape of the dog keeper. Holy crap, that was well portrayed. The acting was excellent throughout this entire episode, but she really stole the show there. How different is that side we got to see of her!
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 25 August 2011 with categories: No.6



Well, so I did not expect No.6 to be this… young. True, everything looks futuristic and there aren’t any real old buildings aside from the slums and all (which probably were built on top of some scrap and ruins), but for this series to be around twenty years old at most They really put in effort to mind-screw everyone within that amount of time. I don’t understand one thing about the background exposition of this episode though: it was mentioned that the six numbers were the only six spots of fertile lands left. So what about Nezumi’s birthplace? That had all kinds of trees growing there and didn’t seem to be a number.

What’s also quite strange: Nezumi wore girls’ clothes even in his flashback. I guess it makes sense for him to pursue his acting career after that and all, but I still find it intriguing that this series acts like it’s the most normal thing in the world. This really is the age where his parents really had to consciously dress him up like that.

In any case, this episode was a great one for the plot. When the show will close off in three weeks with a ton of loose threads, we’ll at least know how No.6 originated and how it so rapidly grew to be such a totalitarian distopia. This really answered the biggest lingering questions, which is good for now. At this point it’s also obvious what the creators are going to intend to end this thing with: Safu’s rescue. That’s the problem with kidnapping, really: the character in question is rendered useless through the entire process. It’s aggravating when said character is such a good one and you don’t have many episodes to really show her off otherwise.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 19 August 2011 with categories: No.6



This episode was great, even for this series’ standards. The script, it left no minute wasted. The dialogue was incredibly meaningful here, but the most amazing thing is that it just kept going: it just kept pushing its characters forward, it just kept developing them, it just kept showing them pour their heart out. Okay, so Safu had to get kidnapped for it to happen. The results were amazing.

I really wish that Fractale would have had the chance to take a look at this series, and take its example, because it does just about everything right where that show went wrong. It’s got a ridiculously strong bond between the characters, a strong story and instead of wanting to goof off or ignore the interesting parts of its story, it fully focuses on them. The drama in this episode was heavy, but it was entirely based on the choices that the characters made for themselves. Instead of dragging this out, the creators analyzed it, and instead made it so that it would also get resolved quickly. Sure, a strange coincidence was needed for that, but within that series it’s just a small detail.

Speaking of small details, there’s something about the animation that I also really appreciate in this series, even though it’s just a small detail: the characters’s faces, and especially their mouths. Nowadays, in just about any anime, mouths are just a bunch of lines pasted on top of a characters’ face that move up and down. Here though, there are these scenes that actually try to animate the fact that the characters have lips, and they actually try to make the characters’ faces stand out. In the past there were quite a few anime who did that too, but lately this has died out nearly completely in anime. It’s a shame to lose such a kind of a detail that can normally do wonders in making your cast come alive.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 11 August 2011 with categories: No.6



Penguin Drum and Blood-C may be on a hiatus, but there still is the sixth episode of Number six that airs regularly. Again, we have an episode with a completely different tone as the previous ones. This time it was all about the friction between Shion and Nezumi. The acting between them was great, and they played wonderfully off each other, making the cliff-hanger about Safu’s capture all the more satisfying.

Kidnappings re of course a dime a dozen, but this episode made it into much more than that when Nezumi is seriously considering not to tell Shion about it. Furthermore, there was no way in which Safu wouldn’t be captured. It wasn’t the villains just going “ah, let’s kidap someone for a change”; instead they have been monitoring Shion’s house and now that Safu came back to him and is starting to search for him, they immediately made use of that. They don’t intend to use her as bait, otherwise they would have kidnapped Shion’s mother already, but it seems that the intention of trying to find Shion was what triggered them. For what reasons? Let’s hope that the part that explains that can still fit in the anime.

Meanwhile, Safu is sharp! She’s not the type of airhead who needs tons of clues to realize what’s going on. She isn’t afraid to show her feelings, and she’s not dodging around the subject of love. A breath of fresh air here!

At the moment, N0.6 is currently contenting with Penguin Drum for my favourite soundtrack of the season. While Penguin Drum probably wins in the use of its soundtrack, I also want to praise No.6 for its sheer versatility. In general I do favor the bombastic soundtracks over the mellow ones, but the soundtrack uses a lot of different instruments to create a very interesting effect. And the interesting thing is that it’s completely different from Dororon Enma-Kun, which also had the same composer. To be honest though, I do consider Enma-kun’s soundtrack to be better than this one, but that show did have one of the best soundtracks of the year, due to the immense amount of references, variety and flavours it put in.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 4 August 2011 with categories: No.6



This episode really grabbed me by surprise. Not only was it exceptionally good and well produced, but also just about everything that happened here was against what you’d expect or came out of left field. This episode built up a ton of questions, it showed the cast in a completely different light, on top of being absolutely gorgeous to watch.

This episode took two completely unrelated characters: Nezumi and Safu, and had them experience the same hallucination at the same time. Erm, why? On top of that, against expectations the bees turn out to be active during the winter, and they seem to be related to these hallucinations in which they could talk. Again: how the hell is that happening? On top of that, Shion’s mom’s friend is suddenly afraid of mice, Then Shion suddenly comes and catches Nezumi unguarded, and then Safu is coming back, of all things. How the hell are the creators going to weave all of that together? And will the show still be running when we get to that point?

On top of that… that dance scene. Holy crap, that was well animated. The characters really came alive and the visual direction was utterly gorgeous. This episode on top of that had poetry and theatre as well, making it artistic in many different ways. It was a bit strange to see Nezumi in women’s clothing, but it does make sense: traditionally in Shakespearean plays, the female parts were all played by men as well.

Also, shock! This episode actually included a kiss that wasn’t overly romanticized.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 28 July 2011 with categories: No.6



Okay, so this episode didn’t reveal the secret of Number Six. Instead, it went for character building. And it did that well.

My biggest surprise was at how much detail was put into Shion’s mother: I just thought that she was one of the token parents who was just set to disappear after the second episode. Here though, they went into her past, how she’s doing and had Shion contact her though Nezumi’s mice. Beyond that, we learned that Nezumi refused to talk about himself, but there were tons of hints to his character (and again a ton of hints at how his character change), the dog girl got some depth and overall this series still upholds its standards of pushing its story forward.

What I especially like here is how every episode so far has been significantly different in terms of themes and focus. This episode takes a look at the characters and the setting in a completely different way and it’s consistently changing and pushing its characters into different situations. With 22 episodes this really has the potential to become a classic. With 11 episodes it will probably be a very engaging series with a very open ending.

The animation also was really well done in this episode. There were very little still frames and a ton of movement, the background art was really well drawn, but also the people and dogs in the background were really well designed. Overall the question of the series with the best visuals is a tough one this season, unlike last Spring where the X-Men very convincingly took that award. In terms of fluidity and movement there’s Blood-C, in terms of consistency there’s Penguin-Drum, in terms of extravagance there’s Dantalian no Shoka and in terms of attention to detail and designs there’s this series.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 21 July 2011 with categories: No.6



So, the obvious question when you start watching No.6 is: who are these people? Even in the second episode, there is this strange brown-haired guy who looks nothing like the guy on the promo material, although it also provided a big hint about what would suddenly cause this change in hair pigmentation. This episode indeed shows what caused it, and I really have to praise the creators for delivering one heck of an intense scene.

The second half of the episode pushed the story forward again, and put a huge emphasis on morals: letting the killer bees hatch will probably lead to the downfall of No.6 if they’re allowed to spread without being noticed during Winter. This will mean the end of a dystopian society, yet also it will lead to the deaths of countless of innocent people who are merely living their lives without knowing anything about the world. the big question right now is what has Nezumi so convinced that those sacrifices should be made?

I like how this series has a very strong concept of foreshadowing: it doesn’t necessarily have huge cliff-hangers, but instead it ends every episode with the promise of new major revelations. The first episode promised a ton of change and intrigue, the second episode promised the change in hair colour, and now this episode is promising that next week, we’ll learn about the truth of No6. After all, there’s no way that Nezumi is going to wait with that.

Also, regarding the soundtrack: it was the soundtrack that I was looking forward to the most after Dororon Enma-Kun (both show share the same composer), and it has definitely delivered. I especially like the kinds of bombastic soundtracks, and this one is both that and subtle and varied.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

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  • reaLjustified
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 02:59 AM)
    @Mike It’s really interesting how much success he found as an illustrator after essentially quitting manga. I have a really old pencil case by him that I’ve had for years.
  • Mike
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 11:14 PM)
    @Kaiser Takahashi was one of the first to take it out of “smut” made for men and gave the genre to girls.
  • K-Off
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 09:34 PM)
    My palette is cleansed after Legacy. I think I can make a push and finish Mirage Sessions by Monday.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 06:25 PM)
    Altogether there is no good explanation as to why Berserk has been on the fringes for the last 20 years. The silver lining is that it looks like things are picking up for the franchise- with a new series, two new games and frequent manga releases- so here’s hoping we get a much bigger budget for the next cour, and god willing maybe even a studio change. And I’m getting greedy, but gimme that From Software Berserk game! That would be an instant cash mine.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 06:18 PM)
    @Vyse: I was actually thinking of that, and the dark mature content is definitely a factor. Yet looking at what’s trending at the moment, with AoT and Kabaneri, it seems that the more violent stuff are bankable now. And it’s not like anime is stranger to adapting material that hasn’t finished yet. So I’m guessing that Miura is hard to work with probably, and maybe he’s tight about giving studios the license.
  • Rusty
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 05:16 PM)
    I like it better when animes are different then the manga because normally i know how everything will end after reading the manga.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 05:07 PM)
    And I’m more than open for an anime to do things a bit differently from the source, I mean look at the new berserk they included an action scene that wasn’t in the manga, I liked that.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 04:59 PM)
    @Mike: Makoto Takahashi! Makoto Takahashi! I know who he is, I spent a while looking at his art, best example of good oldschool shoujo style. He also is credited with kickstarting the shoujo-ai genre I think…
    @Bam: flowers of evil both improved on and took away from its source material.
  • reaLjustified
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 04:16 PM)
    Furthermore, it’s not as if Berserk is so special by itself that a decent adaptation is automatically impossible. You’re watching one right now. If you think otherwise than it boils down to personal preference.
  • reaLjustified
    (Saturday, Jul 23. 2016 04:13 PM)
    @Vyse It’s obviously not trying to cater to children, the studio knows its audience. I wouldn’t automatically assume that just because it’s an anime adaptation that it’s an attempt to please everyone.

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