Posted on 28 September 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Rainbow



Madhouse is at its best when it’s dealing with mature series, boasting a refined execution and storytelling. Rainbow is not that. It’s bloody intense to the point of melodrama, and it wants everyone to know about it as it tells about a group of youths as they spend time in prison.

And it’s indeed easy to look at Rainbow and get annoyed by its cheese and melodrama. Storytelling is a balance between trying to tug your emotions, and showing restraint. Rainbow instead just attempts to show the intense suffering in prisons with as much drama as possible by either being overly dramatic, overly sappy or overly cheesy. Having said that though, this show does pack an excellent plot and the characters are more than charming and developed enough to make up for it.

Because as overdramatic as they are, the heavy scenes in this series make one hell of an impact. This series shies away from nothing to prove its point, and this can be seen as early as episode two. As overblown as some of the scenes are, prisons in the years following the second world war were a pure hell, and the creators really succeeded in getting this effect. One guard in particular is just a complete and over the top nutcase that is both easy to hate and love, especially as this guy develops.

Speaking of development: the biggest reason why this series is so memorable is because of the huge amount of time it spends on showing the characters growing up. The entire second half takes place a year after the lead characters leave prison, and try to pick up their lives again. We get to see their troubles fitting into society, chasing after their dreams, and dealing with the pasts they grew up in. Whereas the first half of the series is dark, depressing and hopeless, the second half is bright, heart-warming and hopeful. Throughout both, the themes of friendship remain a red thread throughout the entire series, and together the two halves, as different as they may be, form an excellent whole, leaving behind a very well developed cast.

Whether or not you’ll be able to enjoy this series depends entirely on how you’ll be able to stomach the overly sappy and dramatic nature of this series. Especially psycho guard (as I’d like to call him anyway) will be… hard to swallow at times. It’s never going to be a masterpiece, and Madhouse has certainly done much better in the past. Nevertheless, for those who don’t mind there is a lovable and heart-warming cast, well thought out and planned plot and a great soundtrack.

Storytelling: 8/10 – The plot itself is really excellent: perfectly paced, makes optimal use of its 26 episodes, throws in plenty of twists and turns. It’s just the delivery that will tug your suspense of disbelief with how over the top it is.
Characters: 9/10 – Wonderfully developed, each character has his own strengths and flaws.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Average for Madhouse standards. Lots of still frames that do look quite pretty at times. The soundtrack is excellent, though.
Setting: 9/10 – A very interesting twist on “old versus young”, this series shines in portraying the lead characters’ attempts to fit into society, and the darker sides of the period after the second world war.

Suggestions:
Death Note
Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji
Red Garden

Posted on with categories: Rainbow



Aww. What a heart-warming way to close off this series and the past half year of anime. Really, the creators resisted the urge to force in some last-minute overly ambitious climax, and instead chose a wonderful little story that brings perfect closure to this series. In one way it’s a bit of a shame that Heitai didn’t get the time to show off his arc, but Mario undergoing surgery in order to go back to boxing, it fits exactly with the sappy nature of the series, and at the same time it was the perfect excuse to bring the focus back to An-chan. And we actually got to meet his mother, that was a very pleasant surprise!

The thirty percent success of the surgery of course did not matter in terms of plot: the surgery would be successful. The creators indeed wisely decided not to create any fake tension by dragging out the surgery scene. Mario just enters the surgery room, and then we cut to a boxing match. That’s not rushed, that’s perfectly paced, and I love the guts of the creators to actually do that. Instead, the thirty percent was mostly meant to show Mario’s resolve to continue with An-chan’s dreams: even if it would have been one percent, he would have gone with that chance if it meant a chance to continue An-chan’s dreams.

Overall, yes the second half of this series was sappy. But at the same time it was just incredibly heart-warming. It’s in the same way that the first half was melodramatic, yet incredibly intense. It’s the combination of the two that really made this series memorable, though. The direction for this series is flawed, but by god, the story is so well rounded that it perfectly makes up for this.

This show really got me thinking on how to evaluate first impressions, because I nearly didn’t blog this show… in favor of Kaichou wa Maid Sama (yeah). After the first episode, I remember not seeing any future in this series because of the hopeless overacting of this series. That overacting of this series was indeed the reason why this show never had the chance to become a masterpiece, but in the end it brought enough to the table to make up for this. That’s something I’ve got to remember when doing the upcoming first impressions of the new Autumn Season.

I can blog seven new series, and yet there are ten shows that I’m really interested in covering. There’s only one show that I’m guaranteed to blog (Letter Bee), plus the series that you’re going to force me to blog (only two days left on that one, by the way!), leaving me to choose five series out of eight potentially very interesting ones, which makes choosing the ones that will be the most fun to blog, rather than failing to see potential between flaws.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 21 September 2010 with categories: Rainbow



I love series that try to do something different with their endings. There is of course a fine line between adaptations that end somewhere in the middle, and adaptations that have been carefully planned out to form a whole. Rainbow finally is another case of the latter: there probably is much more manga around, but who cares: the creators really selected the most essential parts of the 22-volume manga, and condensed those into 26 episodes, and yet the series ends completely unlike any other series I’ve seen.

Oh, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a series end with a final arc that was only one or two episodes long, without being rushed. Those are the endings that usually stand out. I’m a bit sad to see that we won’t get the Heitai-arc, but Mario’s boxing career still is very important in the series, and yet it’s so much from what creators would usually chose as a final episode: the bad guys in this series are long gone, all of the biggest drama has been resolved at this point, and instead the final episode is a simple one that will allow Mario to overcome his crippled hand, which very neatly ties his story together.

And heck, even the Suppon arc is so fresh as a semi-final arc. Suppon is one of the most stable members of the cast, who knows very much what he wants, so the drama around him doesn’t involve some dumb mistake he made, but instead it’s all about his huge desire to take care of his new family, after he lost his previous one in the atomic bombings, and coming to terms with the fact that he doesn’t have to be alone. The part in which he single-handedly got that guy to come along to pay his debt really shows that there is nothing wrong with his will power, and it really made for an awesome scene that really turned out to be the opposite of what I expected.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 14 September 2010 with categories: Rainbow



Okay, so contrary to what I first thought, the Suppon arc is going to take up three episodes. That makes me all the more curious to that mysterious final episode through which the creators are going to close off the series (please! Heitai!), but as the final multi-episode arc of this series, Suppon’s story works really well. For the biggest amount of drama, the creators could have chosen to save Mario or Joe for last. Instead, they chose the much more mellow and melancholic Suppon: a guy who really embodies the major theme of this show through and through.

And frankly, I like it that the creators used the least sappy story for last. This series always had its cheese problem: despite its excellent plot, it’s the reason why I’m never going to rate this show as a masterpiece. Still, it is one of those examples which really makes up for its cheese. Out of all of the arcs of the second half though, I find the Suppon arc the most interesting. That’s not to say that the other arcs didn’t stand out, though: Mario’s was the most intense, Joe’s was the most heart-warming, Cabbage’s was the funniest and Baremoto’s made the best use of the flaws of its character. They all had their own way in which they stood out, and that’s what made this second half work so well.

As for the Americans… yeah, they were decent I guess. The biggest problem was that they were portrayed like most thugs in anime: without much of a personality (except for that one boxer guy perhaps). The voice actors actually got their accents quite right and it wasn’t like the usual Engrish here. But at the same time, you can really hear that this dialogue was written by a Japanese, and then translated to English without trying to make it sound natural from the mouth of an American. But yeah, this is just me, saying things. I have no idea how natural anime sounds in the ears of Japanese people.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 8 September 2010 with categories: Rainbow



Awesome to see that alongside Suppon, the creators also took their time to show Lily’s story here and have her develop. Again, it’s an arc completely different from the previous ones so far, in the way that Suppon doesn’t really have any problems fitting in. The only thing that’s seriously getting in his way is the trauma from 13 years before, in which he lost his entire family.

The fact that he still hasn’t gotten over it was pretty sad, and that combined with Suppon’s usual maturity made this quite an effective episode. As for Lily, I like how this series really doesn’t try to avoid sensitive subjects here. The childrape of the earlier episodes were much worse, but I can very much imagine of how the problem of foreign soldiers having their way with local women, only to abandon them afterwards, is addressed here, as usually anime are too politically correct to talk about it. Really, 2010 has been an interesting year for the portrayal of WWII with this series and Senkou no Night Raid. This series takes care to show the horrors of that time period, while also showing that every side had its share of assholes.

And I know that I’ve been saying this often enough, but damn, I’m really impatient for that Heitai-arc. This guy is one heck of an interesting guy, so I really hope that the final two episodes, or at least the semi-final one, will be his.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 1 September 2010 with categories: Rainbow



With the arcs around Mario, Joe and Cabbage, their story was all about trying to make their dream come true, or finding their place in adult society: they all had their goals and worked towards making them come true. The big difference with Baremoto’s arc s that his goal was impossible to begin with. His personal growth was all based on a big mistake, rather than a struggle to get rid of his own past.

Baremoto probably is the character who developed the most throughout the series, having the most amounts of flaws of the entire cast that he had to deal with. And this episode really was a great conclusion for him, in which his thoughts of being able to buy women with money is completely trashed. This episode again was very dramatic, like with Joe and Mario’s arc, but this time all of the drama was centred around Baremoto, realizing what an idiot he had been, and coming to the decisions to make up for the things he did wrong. I liked that a lot.

Also, the next episode will be the Suppon-arc, excellent to hear that. With four episodes left, the arc after that will probably the conclusion and I’m really curious to how the creators are planning to end it. Really, could we get a small arc for Heitai to close off this series? That really would make the entire series complete.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 24 August 2010 with categories: Rainbow




It’s Baremoto’s turn now, and by god is it an awesome episode. The episode may have started a bit slow, in which Baremoto slowly showed Suppon his family, but as the episode revealed more and more about what was really going on, the episode only got better and better. I also loved the background song that the creators used at the end of the episode. Talk about epic.

I’ve said this plenty of times by now, but I really like what the creators are doing here. You can really see how the characters are trying to continue their lives, but with their background and within this setting… they are bound to run into problems, for which they have their own behavior to blame. Mario had his violence problems, Joe was the one exception because his goal was stronger than any other. Cabbage had his innocence, and now Baremoto is about to throw away his entire future because of a prostitute he fell in love with.

Heitai. He really stole the show again at the end of this episode. I really hope that he and Suppon will get their own arcs as well. Both of them have been pretty much the most stable members of the cast, and key side characters throughout the entire series, but it will be awesome if they could step into the spotlights so that we can see them shine on their own.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 17 August 2010 with categories: Rainbow



Ah, finally we get the long awaited Cabbage episode. It probably was the funniest episode of Rainbow yet, but that doesn’t really say much since this has probably been the most light-hearted episode so far. Cabbage is just so adorable with his genuine personality. He’s simple, and I guess that that’s why he’s the character with the least amount of depth of the six lead characters, but he definitely has his charms.

This also was an interesting place for this show to explore the yakuza of those days a bit. And thankfully, the yakuza here are well portrayed: they’re neither the stereotypical punks who can only yell, and neither the over the top manly men here. Aside from the guy who randomly burst in with a sword, of course, but that made sense. ^^;

This episode also had a nice anti-climax. It had it coming, but it was still pretty funny how Cabbage explained what happened to him when he stood face to face with that sword. To think that he actually called an ambulance in the middle of a yakuza-building.

Throughout all of the episodes though, there has been one theme that’s been huge, no matter what the series is focusing on: friendship. It sounds cheesy, but when the characters time and time again show how far they’re willing to go to protect this friendship that was build up in their time of jail, it has really worked as a red thread that keeps the different arcs together.

On a side-note: it’s a nice touch that the insert-songs here sound pretty authentic for the time this takes place in. We first had the rock and roll in the Joe arc, but the insert song at the end of this episode also feels part of the fifties and the early sixties. It’s a shame that the OP and ED couldn’t be the same. Although granted, that OP is great in its own way.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 14 August 2010 with categories: Rainbow



With the rather stereotypical evil band going on and on, leading to a rather predictable gunfight that reduced them into people that are too stupid to pull a bloody trigger, I was expected the end of this episode to be this over the top as well. And yet, the actual scene where Joe and his sister reunite just takes what? A minute? And it worked perfectly !

It’s a very humble climax, especially for this series, but it really was worth it. the evil guys did what they needed to do, without creating some cheap drama that would cause Joe to miss meeting his sister. Instead, his sister really was smart enough to stay around for a bit longer instead of just returning home. In the meantime, it was meant to develop the struggles that the characters are in, trying to fit back into society. These guys weren’t exactly related to the prison, but that fight did show that they’re still living amidst violence.

Joe’s decision in the end, to just not give up and start back from scratch, was awesome because of that. He wasn’t just doing the singing in order to find his sister, but he also really enjoys doing it. He has his background, and he’s just going to have to live with it, while working hard.

I’m very curious to see what the final episodes are going to be about. I mean, at this point there pretty much aren’t any threads left hanging. Instead, the creators can just pick any character and give him an extra arc of development. While it definitely was heavy, the third quarter of this series really was less extreme than the first half of this series. But really, it has been an amazing “epilogue”, if you can call it that. Without it, this series would just have been an over the top prison series. This epilogue really made me forgive the overacting in this series.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 3 August 2010 with categories: Rainbow



Well, this episode was one heck of a build-up. Not necessarily because Joe is still getting bugged by those assholes who were jealous of his talents, and therefore at the end of the episode were about to put a bullet between his eyes. That’s just something the creators used to spice up this arc. Instead, we’re about to get to the point where Joe is going to meet his sister again! Based on the past episodes of this series, the creators are bound to make a fantastic spectacle out of this moment.

In this episode, there really was a ton of support for Joe, as he tried to achieve his goals and was visibly having a hard time. The tension just came from one bunch of assholes, but I like how the creators wanted to show that there were plenty of people in their time with good intentions who didn’t want to make the lives of everyone around them miserable. The pianist and his son especially were quite charming.

The problem here is obviously those five lemons who may have been a bit too obsessed over trying to kill Joe here. But of course, this is just me who doesn’t know how bands used to operate back then, and how fierce the competition was for fame. Plus, if they really wanted to kill Joe, then I doubt whether that kid will make it in time to warn Mario about it. Still, this is just minor stuff. As long as in the next episode, it doesn’t get in the way of Joe’s and Megu’s development then I’ll be happy.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

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