Sunday, September 30, 2007

Lovely Complex: Not again...

There are only 2 episodes left, Risa seems to dug herself into another hole. This time, it seems to be much worse than before. The good news is, there are only 2 episodes left, so whatever they'll do to resolve this, will be done in next 2 episodes. Throughout the series, Atsushi has been the one at fault. But this time, it is really Risa's fault. It won't be pretty.

Kaze no Stigma: too much foreplay

This is what I call too much wasted time. Though it's important to go in-depth with character development, spending 3~4 episodes on a very minor characters, going all over the place just to try to establish some characters relationships, is just going too far. The majority of the series, almost has nothing to do with the final conflict, and they weren't something that is important for building up to the final climax. In my opinion, almost half of the series is just waste of time. Another thing is, the final conflict is just too unspectacular.

Score card (full score is 5):

Drama: 3 (There are some, but there are also lots of wasted time)
Comedy: 3 (There are some in the right time, but it doesn't seem to be the main course for it)
Action: 4 (Relatively speaking, it's better than some other stuff I've seen lately)
Art/Animation: 4 (One of my preferred art style)
Sound/Music: 3.5 (Nothing stands out)
Character: 4 (Interesting, that's about it)
Plot: 3 (I really don't like its organization)
Re-watch value: 2 (Don't think anybody going to bother to watch it again)

Overall (not average): 3

Recommendation: Probably not going to recommend it unless you have too much free time. It really is a waste of time.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Zero no Tsukaima ~ Futatsuki no Kishi ~: Much Heavier Than Before

If I remembered correctly, the first Zero no Tsukaima is very light hearted with few serious situations thrown in here and there. The second season, however, is complete opposite. Most parts have a very dark and heavy tone, with comedies thrown in to fill the gaps. Although I tend to like heavy and emotional series, I'm not quite sure I liked this. It's just such big contrast between the original serie and this one. It feels much better if you see it as drama rather than comedy.

Drama: 3.8 out of 5 (It is what this series heavy on, but with the first one in place, you just can't take it too seriously)
Comedy: 2.5 out of 5 (Same thing over and over again, you get tired of it)
Action: 3 out of 5 (Clearly, it's not what they focus on in this series)
Art/Animation: 3.5 out of 5 (I kind of like the art style in general, but think it could be better)
Sound/Music: 3.5 out of 5 (Good choice for openning theme song, rest are just so-so)
Character: 3.5 out of 5 (All characters in the series are pretty sallow)
Plot: 3.8 out of 5 (Acceptable, that's all I can say)
Re-watch value: 2 out of 5 (Probably not going to watch it again)

Overall (not average): 3.5 out of 5

Recommendation: If you have anything else you want to watch, watch that first. If you want to see something like the first season, don't watch this one.

Romeo & Juliet: Not what you know

One of GONZO's latest work, Romeo & Juliet, supposedly to be a modern adaption of the old classic. Due to its track record (Gankutsuou vs. The Count of Monte Cristo), I knew they won't just make small modifications to the original story from the beginning. After the complete story unfolded, I can say this is nothing like the Romeo & Juliet we know. For better or worse? I can't quite tell. Although both are story about how can love bond people together, they are fundamentally different. The anime is more about redemption than love, even though love is the main theme. You really couldn't compare it to Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet.

Drama: 5 out of 5 (That's what it's all about, and they did a quite well, I'd say)
Comedy: N/A
Action: 3 out of 5 (Some fighting scenes, but that's not the main focus)
Art/Animation: 4.5 out of 5 (This is not the art work I'd normally like, but something in this made me liking it a lot)
Sound/Music: 5 out of 5 (Great theme song, great score and background music in the right time)
Character: 4.5 out of 5 (Very well portrait characters)
Plot: 4.5 out of 5 (It's hard to judge it without tieing it up with Shakespeare's work, but, nevertheless, it's a good story)
Re-watch value: 3 out of 5 (Again, dramas usually doesn't do well in this category)

Overall (not average): 4 out of 5

Recomendation: If you are into stories like Romeo & Juliet (Shakespeare's), you might be interested in it. Otherwise, you may not like the pace of the show (too slow).

Bokurano: Life goes on

One by one, children chosen by fate had fought and died in a battle to save the earth. From the beginning, I knew that there were't going to be any survivors in the end. What did surprise me is the complexity and focus of the story itself. What seemed to be a simple fight to save the earth story is more than its face value. With multiple hidden plot line and a story of every character in play, this anime is rather heavy in its moral content. It actually is a reflection of current soceity and its problems. Lots of people may not like it just because of that.

Drama: 5 out of 5 (Very very heavy drama elements)
Comedy: N/A
Action: 3 out of 5 (The robot fighting scene is almost cheesy)
Art/Animation: 3 out of 5 (I'm not particular fond of this type of art, and it also lack of constrast)
Sound/Music: 3 out of 5 (Good openning theme song, score didn't quite leave me much impression)
Character: 5 out of 5 (Very very very rich in characters, especially there is a in depth view of each character's life)
Plot: 4 out of 5 (Although the ending is predictable from the beginning, the hidden plot really caught me by surprise)
Re-watch value: 2 out of 5 (It's a be too slow to watch it all over again)

Overall (not average): 4 out of 5

Recomendation: Really depends on what is acceptable to you. You have to willing to spend the time to watch each character develop, evolve, at the same time try to understand the character's life. There are people that just couldn't put up with it. If you are that type of people, don't bother. Otherwise, you might just like the series.

Claymore: The Journey Ahead

After a long quest (5 months, 24 episodes), a semi-predictable ending has been presented to us. In the past 5 months, there are times that I couldn't wait to see the next episode. But there are also times that I just couldn't wait for an episode to end. The feeling towards Claymore is mixed.

Overall, it is a good series, and I'd generally recommend it to other people. But I'm not going to tag it as a "great" anime. There are just too many loose ends, too many unanswered questions, and bit wasted time in the middle of the series. If they could have packed it a bit tighter, make it less predictable, and answer a few more questions that had been left open, I would be a lot happier.

Enough of after thoughts, here is the score card for Claymore:

Drama: 3.5 out of 5 (Enough, but a bit too predictable)
Comedy: N/A
Action: 4 out of 5
Art/Animation: 3.5 out of 5 (A little bit more contrast would be nicer)
Sound/Music: 4 out of 5 (Both openning and ending theme are on my current playlist now)
Character: 4.5 out of 5 (Lots of different characters with difference characteristics)
Plot: 4 out of 5 (Only if it weren't so predictable)
Re-watch value: 2 out of 5 (Dramas don't usually hold up in this category)

Overall (not average): 4 out of 5

Recomendation : There are better ones, but this is definately among the top pick when you want to find a new anime to watch.

Friday, September 28, 2007

School Days: Yes, Yes, Yes

Hurrah to AT-X, they did not drop the ball about airing the last episode of School Days. So far I think it is the only network that aired the last episode of School Days besides those special events across Japan.

Enough of that, let's talk about the last episode of School Days. Personally, I think everybody got what they deserve, but some may disagree. The ending, I have to say, is the most satisfying ending of any anime I've ever seen. Having said that, at the same time, I was hoping for something a bit more dramatic, not quite sure how, just more dramatic. But again, I'm happy as it is, because it could have ended much worse. This probably is the best ending considering what had happend in earlier episodes.

Here is the final score for School Days:

Drama: 5 out of 5
Comedy: 4.5 out of 5 (not much, but enough in the right time)
Action: 4 out of 5 (could have been more graphical with the **** scenes)
Art/Animation: 5 out of 5 (I just love the character art design)
Sound/Music: 4.5 out of 5 (Some music borrowed from the game, and some very good music/vocal towards the end of last episode, however, nothing stands out a lot)
Character: 5 out of 5 (You could not ask for better characteristics)
Plot: 4.5 out of 5 (There are some unresonable/unexplained things around, but the build up to the final climax is just so great)
Re-watch value: 3.5 out of 5 (You wouldn't re-watch it to learn the story again, but it still holds some value to see how sh*t hit the fan)

Overall (not average): 4.8 out of 5

Richard's Pick: Best School Drama of 2007

I put out a special category, School Drama, because I don't think it's fair to put School Days up against Darker Than Black. They are just too different, you just can't compare one to the other.

Recommendation: I highly recommend everybody to see this love fare drama unfold, if you don't mind seeing a little blood.

Darker Than Black: The Final Conflict

Currently Finished: Episode 24

After 11 segments, 5 long monthes, the final conflict is here. The plot layout is definately one of the best I've seen. It never lost its 2 episode segment style until this final conflict. Each segment, by itself may not have much significant meaning. But when you put them together, the big picture is so much more then the sum of the all. I love it.

I have to say, Darker than Black is by far the best anime of 2007. From what I've heard about the October season, I don't think anything else would be able to beat it. The outcome of the last episode only have limited choices by now. Either one would be a great finish. If they manage to put out something completely unexpected, that's even better. Therefore, I'm going to just go ahead and award Darker than Black with:

Richard's Pick: Best Drama of 2007

Richard's rating: 4.9 out of 5 (net gain: 0.4)
The only reason it didn't earn a perfect score is I think it had dragged a little bit in the middle of the series.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Denno Coil: Matrix Conspiracy

Currently finished: Episode 16

Originally, I thought this is only going to be some kid's story with cheesy computer hacking. However, it turned out to be much more than I expected. Closest thing I can call to compare to would be .hack//sign, except it's much more, much better, and achieved more than .hack//sign could ever have. Actually, comparing it to .hack//sign is an insult to Denno Coil. .hack//sign is nowhere near what Denno Coil is.

Offended by my comments because you're a .hack//sign fan? Then watch Denno Coil and then tell me if you'd ever think .hack//sign is good again. If you still think .hack//sign is better by then.....don't ever come back to my blog again.

Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei: WTF?!

Currently finished: Episode 10

It started off well, so good that I gave best comedy of July 2007 season to it. But ever since episode 3, something had changed. I couldn't quite tell what, but it lost everything that originally grabbed me. Further into the series, more I found myself asking "WTF?!" In my opinion, it tried too much to be an 'extraordinary' comedy that it destroyed itself in the process. What a pitty. Normally, when my rating drop below half (2.5), I drop the series immediately. However, since I'm already at episode 10, and there are only 12 episodes, I might as well finish it.

Richard's rating: 2 out of 5 (net gain: -2)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mononoke: A different kind of creepiness

Currently finished: episode 10

When you combine crazy acid trip visual with creepy mysteries, it creates something that is much more than the sum of the two. Mononoke is exactly that.

At first, I didn't like the visual effect at all. It's a bit too.....Picasso like. Like my earlier review said, it feels more like a acid trip, except it's a much creepier one. However, it is this acid like visual effects take the creepiness of the story into a new level.

I've heard that many people just simply couldn't stand this kind of visual, regardless how good the content is. Well, I kind of understant how they feel. But I have to say, they're skipping out on maybe one of the best horror/mystery anime genres.

Richard's rating: 4.7 out of 5 (net gain: 0.6)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Kiddy Grade Ignition: Memories of (somewhat) old classic

While I was expecting something new, it's merely a slim version of original Kiddy Grade. It skipped all the parts that is irrelevant to the main plot (mostly the episodes that introduces supporting characters).

While somewhat disappointed, it is still nice to see the original series plot line without interference of filler episodes. However, the first movie is only the first part of the series. To see the complete story, you'll have to wait for the rest of the movie to come out.

Kiddy Grade is one of my all time favorite animes. It combines action, mystery, drama, and heart touching moments into a heart pounding (well, maybe not quite) and tear dropping series. I think it is a product from GONZO at its peak (especially I haven't been very impressed with GONZO's work lately).

This series of movies, supposedly are the precursors of the new series Kiddy Grade 2.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Girl with an Axe

What does that have to do with anime? Not much until last Wednesday, when a Japanese girl killed her father with an axe while he was asleep. This event caused the last episode of School Days which was originally scheduled to air on the following Thursday and episode 11 of Higurashi Kai, originally scheduled for that Saturday to be cancelled.

While I kind of understand the reason behind the network's decision, it still SUCKS! While they haven't announced that the delay is permanent, it is still possible that the last episode of School Days will never get aired on TV. If so, we'll have to wait another 8 long months to see the last episode on DVD.

Well, before they make the announcement, there is nothing we can do. Let's just hope that those finger pointers doesn't blame the TV again for this incident.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Mushi Uta: Entangled fates

Currently finished: Episode 9

One of the most interesting things to watch in a drama is how different people's fates are tangled with each other. Mushi Uta, the 3 main character's fates have been tangled for a while without any of them noticing.

In episode 9, the unintentionally kept secrets are finally revealed. It's more of a shock to the characters in the show rather than the audiances, who should have expected this for a while. Now, everything is out in the open, I'm very curious about what's going to happen next. The 3 main character's fate are tangled together and I'm very curious to see what's going to be the final resolution.

No doubt someone would call the plot movement slow. Even so, it is still interesting enough to make you want to see how these entangled fates could seek out the ultimate solution.

Updated rating: 4 out of 5 (net gain: 0.5)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Devil May Cry: Stylish !?...No, Cheesy

Good theme music, ok art work, stylish character, almost cheesy action, with definitely cheesy plot.

The cheesiness isn't really something new or surprising. It has shown its cheesiness as early as episode 2. While the subsequent episodes are not as cheesy as episode 2, they're not much better.

In general, animes that are adapted from action games tent to have cheesy plot lines. So, I wouldn't hold it against it. Well, not much, just a little bit. After all, it was the characters, not the plot kept me watching it.

Here is my final score for Devil May Cry:

Drama: 2 out of 5
Comedy: 4.5 out of 5 (not much, but enough in the right time)
Action: 3 out of 5 (too much close up shots)
Art/Animation: 3.5 out of 5 (stylish alright, the tone is bit too dark)
Sound/Music: 4 out of 5 (I like the theme music, ok original score)
Character: 4 out of 5 (interesting characters, but not enough depth)
Plot: 1.5 out of 5 (Cheesy!)
Re-watch value: 1 out of 5 (don't think anybody would want to watch it more then one time)

Overall (not average): 2 out of 5

Recommendation: Watch it for amusement if you have time. Otherwise, don't bother.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

School Days: Blood! Blood! I want to see some blood!!!

Currently finished: Episode 10


(*Enraged*) This guy does not deserve to live. I hope he die of horrible death at the end of the series (or even sooner). I think, he is by far the most despicable I have ever seen in any animes/movies/tv shows. He is the mankind at its worst.

(*Calm*) Ok, now I have that out of me, let's talk more about the anime. Up till the first 15 minutes of episode 10, it's still just business as usual (you know, the cheater stuff...). But the last 10 minutes made my jaw drop so far that I have to push them close with my hands. If I could, I would have reached into the screen and snapped his neck.

Having said that, let's look at the possible endings. I'm pretty sure by now, that they're going to have an ending with blood. The three blood endings from the game are:

  1. Makoto went with Kotonoha, but Sekai was already pregnant, so she lost her mind and stabs and kills him (that's just stupid, she just lost all her child support!!)

  2. Makoto went with Sekai, Kotonoha became so depressed, that she jumps off from her apartment building and kills herself (quite stupid as well, die for a guy like that) (there's even a nickname for this ending, called "I can fly")

  3. Makoto went with Sekai, Kotonoha just totally lost it. She intercepted them on a overwalk on a street, and slit Sekai's throat with a saw in the middle of the crowd.

Obviously, scenario #1 is very unlikely to happen by now. I don't think it's possible to bring Makoto back together with Kotonoha any more.

Scenario #2, looks pretty promising at the moment. She does look depressed enough to do something like that. But that also means Makoto is together with Sekai and nobody kills him (bummer......).

As for, scenario #3, well, requires some condition that has not been set yet. But why Sekai get to die, not him?!

Having analyzed all that, I truly wish that they do not follow the game ending, and come up with an ending that Makoto get killed by Kotonoha.....or anybody. He should just die. Die. It's definitely a possibility because even though everything that is happening in the anime are from the game, you could not play a single game with all these events, because in the game, some of the events have conflicting prerequisites.

I have to say, there has not been an anime that make me as angry as this one did. School Days is going to my anime hall of fame.