Monday, April 28, 2008

Mokke: (Ended) Surprise...

Throughout the series, it's been either straight up drama or drama mixed in with little comedy. But the ending snuck up with and tragedy out of blue. I love tragedies, and have been looking everywhere for one. Low quality tragedy nowadays doesn't even affect my emotion any more. In the case of Mokke, I wouldn't exactly call it a "quality" tragedy. However, it snuck up so fast with every little forcast, when I realized there's a tragedy coming, it's already over. It's like a big surprise right in your face. Very well made. But of course, like all tragedies lately, they just have to tag on an extra episode to wash away the effect of tragedy. Suckers...

Final scoreboard (of 5):

Drama: 4.5 (Independent episodes, but lots of drama within each)
Comedy: 3.5 (It's not its focus)
Action: 3.5 (Not its focus either)
Art/Animation: 3.5 (I still don't like its art style)
Sound/Music: 3.75 (The opening theme song is pretty good)
Character: 4.5 (In depth development)
Plot: N/A (There's really no plot what so ever)
Ending: 4.5 (Nice job on sneaking that tragedy up)

Re-watch value: 3.5 (Maybe just for the reference on Japanese mythologies)

Overall (not average): 4 ~ Knowledgable, Light, Dramatic

Recommendation: Really depends. To be able to enjoy this anime, you have to not mind slightly slower than normal pace throughout the series; not mind the fact there is no evolving plot line; and is interested in learning some traditional Japanese mythology and ghost stories. If your answer to those three are "positive", the you'd enjoy this series. Otherwise, I'd say don't waste your time on it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

OVA: School Days: Magical Heart Kokoro-chan

When the last episode School Days was cancelled on most tv network, an internet meme called "Nice Boat" was born. Being as creative as they are, 0verflow (the company created School Days) built on top of it. First they named their booth "Nice Boat." at some anime convention. Now they even incorporated it into their OVA.

Clearly, this OVA is just for laughs. The intent of 0verflow is questionable: it seems to be an method of making some quick profit of this existing franchise. Even so, I'd still recommend this to anybody that liked School Days, there are just too many inside jokes to be passed off.

Knowledge base: Kokoro (心) means "Heart", thus Magical Heart; Kotonoha (言葉) means "Word", thus Magical Word. Have no clue what I'm talking about? Watch the OVA, you'll see.

Friday, April 25, 2008

April 2008 New Anime: Toshokan Senso (Library War)

Genres: Modern Fantasy / Political / Thriller / Drama / War
I've watched: 2 episodes
Art style: Common

Summary: Toshokan Senso translates directly to "Library War". In a future where media police goes around censors free speech, library is the last place with freedom of speech because it's protected by more supreme law. However, media police is not going to give up taking over the library. A situation almost like civil war is occurring between the media police and the library.

Rating (of 5) - first impression: 4 ~ So much exaggeration, it's actually fun to watch

Personal comments: Animes are never lack of exaggerations. But this is different. I can't find a word exactly describe the difference, it's just fundamentally different. The background is that in Japan, new media control law has been passed, media police has the supreme power to do almost anything they want. To balance that out, they also passed something called "Library Freedom Act" (I think that's what's it called), where libraries become self-governing entities. So, twenty some years later, all libraries became like almost a military entity. All libraries have their own self defense force and special op force to counter the attack from media police. The weirdest part is everybody, include those special force member are trained as librarian as well. So basically, library is like a special military unit, where all soldiers are also Librarians. The exaggeration got to an extreme level, a level that you really couldn't place it comfortably. Because of that, it's also so damn interesting.

April 2008 New Anime: Nijuu Mensou no Musume

Genres: Thief / Drama / Mystery
I've watched: 1 episode
Art style: Semi-realistic

Summary: There is a legendary thief called Nijuu Mensou (20 faces). This time he had stolen a girl who was treated badly at her uncle's house after her parents passed away. That's all there is from episode 1.

ating (of 5) - first impression: 3 ~ I can see it has potentials

Personal comments: Both the art and the theme resembles largely of Lupin the 3rd. One major difference is that this doesn't seem to be an comedy at all.

April 2008 New Anime: RD Sennou Chosashitsu

Genres: SciFi / ???
I've watched: 1 Episode
Art style: Realistic of some type

Summary: ...Not sure yet...

ating (of 5) - first impression: 2.8 - Something strange...

Personal comment: This seems to be one of those weird scifi animes. It's weird, but not bizarre. Mononoke is weird and bizarre, this one is just weird. Make sure you understand the concept... I have a feeling this one is not going to last for me...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

April 2008 New Anime: Itazura na Kiss

Genres: School Drama / School Comedy
I've watched: 1 episode
Art style: Old Shoujo

Summary: A girl was rejected by some guy when she confessed to him. Later that day earthquake destroys her house. She end up moving to her dad's friends house, whose son is the same guy just rejected her.

Rating (of 5) - first impression: 3.25 ~ The art work bothers me a bit...

Personal comment: The art style looks like 80's or 90's shoujo manga style. Something in this style bothers me. Can't quite tell. I just don't like it.

April 2008 New Anime: Crystal Blaze

Genres: Drama / Supernatural
I've watched: 1 episode
Art style: common

Summary: There're some incidents teenage girls turning into glass. A private detective agency got involved in on of this mess. The rest are still too unclear...

(of 5) - first impression: 3.75 ~ Not sure how it's going to turn out yet, we'll see

Personal comments: Looks like a typical start of a drama anime. Nothing was explain in the first episode except some character introduction.

April 2008 New Anime: Special A

Genres: Comedy / School drama
I've watched: 1 episode
Art style: Overly stretched

Summary: The top 7 students of the school are given special privileges. Hikari and Kei are among them. However, Kei has always beaten Hikari, and Hikari wnats to change that.

(of 5) - first impression: 3.8 - Also an acceptable comedy from Gonzo

Recognized Voice Talent: Yuko Goto (後藤邑子): She's probably most famous for the of Asahina from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Kaede Fuyou from Shuffle!. You may also know her as Nanami from Lamune. I was a bit surprised when her name came up in the credit, because I didn't recognize her voice at all. In the past, she's been the voice of so many shy girls, this time, she sounds totally different when she's not playing a shy girl.

Personal comments: It seems this season Gonzo has gone comedy heavy. So far I'm liking what I've see from Gonzo. Just hope they keep doing what they've been doing right.

April 2008 New Anime: Kamen no Maid Guy

Genres: Comedy / Comedy / Comedy
I've watched: 1 episode
Art style: Comedy

Summary: When life of the granddaughter of a billionare is in danger, a "maid guy" is there to protect her. He's a big, strong, male house maid. I think that's enough being said about this anime...

Rating (of 5) - first impression: 4 - One of Gonzo's better comedy

Personal comments: I have not found one good comedy by Gonzo yet, up till now. I think this could be a comedy that produced by Gonzo that I'd actually like. Their comedy animes had always made me somewhat uncomfortable, but Kamen no Maid Guy did not. Hopefully, they can keep it up.

April 2008 New Anime: Macross Frontier

Genres: SciFi / Robot / Space / Robotech
I've watched: 1 episode
Art style: Common + 3DCG

Summary: Sequel to the original Macross, it talks about how people are travelling across the universe to find new planet to colonize. The colony ship, is called Macross Frontier.

(of 5) - first impression: 3.75 - Slightly above average

Personal comments: This is a very typical Macross anime. It contains all the Macross essential elements: wantobe fighter pilot, female singer, and some girl works in a Chinese restruant. They just don't seem to be able to get away from this formula...

April 2008 (not so) New Anime: Da Capo II Second Season

Genres: School Drama / School Fantasy / Light Comedy
I've watched: 1 episode
Art style: Da Capo (There's enough of this series to have its own style)

Summary: Continuation of previous D.C.II. Looks like this time the real story of D.C.II going go occur, without any distractions.

Rating (of 5) - first impression: 4 - Looks better than first part

Recognized voice talent: Yui Horie (堀江由衣): For a while, I thought there's a familiar voice in D.C.II, but never bothered to find out. I ran cross the reference today while looking up the info on D.C.II.S.S. She is best known to me as Yoko from Inukami. Also, I just found out today, she's also the voice talent of Naru of Love Hina. Her most recent apparences also include Yuki from Vampire Knight.

Personal comments: I know there are people that hated the original Da Capo becaues it originally presented itself as comedy, and later turn into a very dark somewhat tragic drama. Well, this time, instead replay what they did with original Da Capo, they decided to produce two series instead. Most light comedies are in the first season of Da Capo II, and the second season starts off actually quite heavy hearted. So you don't need to wory about them doing a bait and switch again.

April 2008 New Anime: Zettai Karen Children

Genres: Comedy / Semi-children's / Magical Girl (not literally, just that type)
I've watched: 1 episode
Art style: Children / Common

Summary: BABEL, BAse of Backing ESP Laboratory (Sometime you wonder how they can just keep coming up with broken English acronyms like this...) is a special ESP organization for stopping crimes. The core of the organization is the team called "Children" - three girls who has highest possible ESP levels. But they're only 10 years old, having this much power at this age also means trouble.

Rating (of 5) - first impression: 4 - Interesting

Recognized Voice talent: Aya Hirano (平野綾): Very easily recognized becaues of her distinct voice. She's probably most famous as Haruhi from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Reira from Nana, Misa from Death Note, Lumiere from Kiddy Grade, and Konata Izumi from Lucky Star.

Personal comments: Most children's anime doesn't interest me. But there are some, for no obvious reason I can find, I just couldn't put them down. Take this one for example, I could find no obvious reason why I like this anime, but I just do.

April 2008 New Anime: Allison and Lillia

Genres: Drama / Fantasy
I've watched: 1 episode
Art style: Soft / Round edge / Round Eye

Summary: In this world, there is one large continent. It is divided into two countries, Roxche and Bezel Iltoa. They've been in war since anybody could remember. Finally there was a truce agreed by both side. 10 years later, a girl named Allison who is a pilot in Roxche air force run into a man that tole her about a treasure that could forever stop the war between the two countries. Now she and her friend is out to find th treasure.

Rating (of 5) - first impression: 4 - Better than expected

Personal comments: I never liked this kind of art style. Earlier in the episode, the plot movement is also quite slow. However, towards the end of episode one, it picked up the speed and ended the episode in a good cliffhanger. This is something I wasn't quite expecting.

Friday, April 18, 2008

April 2008 New Anime: Soul Eater

Genres: Drama / Comedy / Grim Reaper
I've watched: 1 episode
Art style: Petite / Slightly Simplified

Summary: In a world where good souls turn bad and eat other people soul, special human weapon are created to kill those bad souls. In order to become the ultimate "Death Scrythe" weapon, they each have each collect 99 evil souls and 1 witch soul.

Rating (of 5) - first impression: 4 - Interesting concept, and hilarious comedy

Personal comments: This is another anime that doesn't take itself seriously. The action sequence are very much like those in Bleach and One Piece.

April 2008 New Anime: Blassreiter

Genres: Action / Scifi / Modern Fantasy / Racing??
I've watched: 1 episode
Art style: Semi-realistic / 3DCG
Special note: Produced by Gonzo (one of my favorite animation studio)

Summary: There are some demon thingy running around killing people. The have the ability to morph and meld with other objects (e.g. cars, motorcycle, etc). Joseph Jobson, who become paralyzed from waist down because of one of the demon attack, got a chance to become the only one that could effectively fight off those demons.

Rating (of 5) - first impression: 3.75 - It's only first episode, I can already pick out some Gonzo's bad habits on making dramas

Personal comments: For one, this is one of the mixed 2D and 3D graphic anime. Most character are in 2D, and most sophisticated objects are in 3D. People have problem with 3DCG in anime or have problem with mixed 2D/3D environment, you probably don't want to bother with this. The graphics, art style, even the story reminded much of Bakuretsu Tenshi, which is also a Gonzo anime. Looks like they're recycling old animes......

April 2008 New Anime: Himitsu - Top Secret

Genres: Detective / SciFi / Thriller
I've watched: 1 episode
Art style: Realistic

Summary: A new method, called Memory Reproduction Imaging (MRI) is being used by police to solve crimes. It uses dead victim's brain to reconstruct the image they saw right before death, hoping this would provide the lead to the murder.

Rating (of 5) - first impression: 4 - Interesting thrillers

Personal comments: Generally speaking, I don't like realistic art style animes. However, there are exceptions. Most recent ones has been Gallery Fake, Rescue Wings and Bartender. Now Himitsu - Top Secret would be added to the list as well. The concept is already somewhat old. Many scifi movies have taken a shot at it. But Himitsu - Top Secret actually approaches for a different angel, which makes it very attractive new anime.

April 2008 New Anime: ToLoveRu

Genres: Pure Comedy
I've watched: 1 episode
Art style: Soft Round Edge / Near Hentai

Summary: Some alien girl landed on earth. The main guy somehow end up accidentally propose to her. (Hum, this sounds very familiar...ah, that's right, it's from Urusei Yatsura)

Rating (of 5) - first impression: 2.75 - There doesn't seem to be ANY originality so far

Personal comments: The concept is almost completely stolen from Urusei Yatsura, and the art looked just like Girls Bravo. It looks like someone just want to make some quick money by taking stuff directly from other animes and stitch them together to make this.

April 2008 New Anime: Neo Angelique Abyss

Genres: Fantasy / Shoujo
I've watched: 1 Episode
Art style: Shoujo / Shoujo / Shoujo / ...

Summary: The (fantasy) world is being attacked by some sort of demons. One girl, Angelique holds the sacred power. Together, with her guardian, she will save the world.

Rating (of 5) - first impression: 3.2 ~ I'm not quite into Shoujo animes like this...

Personal comments: Apparently, this is only of the dozen sequels of Angelique anime series. Somehow I missed out on them all. The latest before this was aired on January 2007 through March 2007. Maybe I've picked them up at one point and just threw them out right away because the super heavy shoujo element. I'm ok with some degree of shoujo, but this is just way way over the board. I don't think this is going to last.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

April 2008 New Anime: Monochrome Factor

Genres: Drama / Modern Fantasy / Supernatural
I've watched: 1 Episode
Art style: Low contrast / Soft edge / Yaoi

Summary: Not quite sure exactly what's going on yet. So far all I got is there is a guy met another guy claim to be a "shadow". Eventually, the "shadow" turns him into a "shadow" as well.

Rating (0f 5) - first impression: 3 ~ Confusing, and has some distinct feeling of Ayakashi, which I hated

Personal comments: There seems to be a very heavy Yaoi (Homo) theme to this anime. If that's the case, I'm not going to follow it...

April 2008 New Anime: Kurenai

Genres: Dark Drama
I've watched: 1 episode
Art style: Elegant / Soft / Heavy contrast

Summary: There's high school student that has some special power accepted a job of looking after a run-away daughter of some rich family.

Rating (of 5) - first impression: 3.5 ~ Acceptable so far...

Personal comments: If you can't stand slow developing plot, you probably shouldn't even bother with this one. You'll need lots of patient to keep watching. Normally, I wouldn't be able to stand the slowness as well. Interesting enough, even I can clearly tell that the progress is ultra slow, I still like it.

April 2008 New Anime: The Tower of Druaga: the Aegis of Uruk

Genres: Fantasy / Drama / Comedy?
I've watched: Episode 1 (both of them)
Art style: Fantasy

Summary: The opening credit scenes confuses me. I'm not sure this is a time travel or a MMO anime like .hack. So far all we see is some typical fantasy characters (armor, shield, mage, etc) fighting some Ogre like things...

Rating (of 5) - first impression: Not sure yet...

Personal comments: This is a weird one. Not only scenes from the opening credit does not match the content of episode 1 what so ever, there are two episode 1's!!!!!!! Supposedly aired during the same time slot in different network. One of them is a made-for-comedy episode showing a stupid dream of one of the character. The other shows what actually happened when he was dreaming. Gonzo is know to pull weird stunts like this. Let's just hope this is one of Gonzo's better product.

Bamboo Blade: (Ended) Happy End, Very Happy End

Normally, I don't like perfect happy endings. However, there are exceptions: Comedy anime like Bamboo Blade, which doesn't take itself seriously is one of them. Unlike drama, this kind of anime is directly driven by the development of characters, instead of the plot line itself. Typically in drama, plot defines character; here, the character defines plot where the character is the main focal point instead of the plot.

All in all, Bamboo Blade served its purpose: advocate Kendo spirit and at the same time, let viewers have some good laughs. I think it's a very well made anime.

Final Scoreboard (of 5):

Drama: 4 (Surprisingly, it's actually quite a good drama)
Comedy: 4.5 (There are definitely many drop dead laughing moments)
Action: 4.75 (I've been in Kendo club for almost a semester, with the limited knowledge I have, the action portrayed here are actually very accurate)
Art/Animation: 4 (Typical comedy anime style art, some quite good hyper-deformations as well)
Sound/Music: 4 (Not bad, but no big impression either)
Character: 4.8 (The whole anime is character driven)
Plot: 4 (There are some ups and downs)
Ending: 4 (It's an acceptable ending for this type of anime)

Re-watch value: 4 (I think there are some re-watch values just for laughs)

Overall (not average): 4.5 ~ Definitely one of the better comedy+drama I've seen lately

Recommendation: If you're looking for some comedy drama, this is for you. It has both outrageous comedy and fairly deep drama elements.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

April 2008 New Anime: Kanokon

Info: (official)
Download: None available yet
Genres: Near Hentai / Pure Comedy / Fox (Ear/Tail)
I've watched: 1 episode
Art style: Soft edge / Relaxed

Summary: Some guy came to a new school. One girl is really hot for him. But turns out, she's not human, but a fox spirit.

Rating (of 5) - first impression: 3 ~ No substance found

Personal comments: This seems to be the anime that has no substance what so ever. They're probably made just for laughs. I'm not sure how long I can tolerate it.

April 2008 New Anime: Amatsuki

Genres: Time Travel / Traditional Japanese Fantasy
I've watched: 1 episode
Art style: Common

Some guy apparently possesses some special power that he doesn't know yet somehow travelled through time and is being haunted by some sort of demon.

ating (of 5) - first impression: 2.75 ~ Copycat

Personal comments: The concept is almost completely copied from Harukanaru Toki no Naka de ~Hachiyou Shou~. Replace the main girl from Harukanaru and replace it with a guy, that's pretty much Amatsuki. Even the art style is somewhat similar. I'll give it another episode or two, but I don't think this is going to last.

Monday, April 14, 2008

April 2008 New Anime: Vampire Knight

Genres: Vampire / Drama / Action
I've watched: 1 episode
Art style: Elegant / Hard Edge / Petite

Summary: There is a boarding school for both human and vampires (and some how even those vampire students only come out at night, no students in school ever suspect a thing. ?!!!) The adopted daughter and somewhat adopted son of the headmaster are the only students know about it, who server as class prefect to keep things in order. Their families were both hurt by the vampires when they were young.

Rating (of 5) - first impresion: 4.5 ~ Another well made drama/comedy mix

Recognized voice talent: Yui Horie (堀江由衣): Probably best known as Yoko from Inukami, and Naru from Love Hina.

Personal comments: This is another somewhat serious drama with comedy. It's a very interesting concept. It has even more outrageous comedy mix-ins than Nabari no Ou. Very well done.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

April 2008 New Anime: Nabari no Ou

Genres: Action / Ninja / Supernatural (somewhat) / Modern Fantasy
I've watched: 1 episode
Art style: Elegant / Hard Edge / Petite

Summary: A boy posesses a super ninja power which is not yet under his control. There is a group of ninjas who are trying to take them out of him. Another group of ninjas are trying to protect him at all cost.

ating (0f 5) - first impression: 4.5 ~ Drama with sprinkles of comedy, very well build

Personal comments: It seems to be a popular thing to add comedies into even most serious drama nowadays. In Nabari no Ou, it was very well made that it has characteristic of both drama and comedy, yet neither seems to be infringing upon the other. On top of that, I just like this art style too much.

April 2008 New Anime: Wagaya no Oinarisama

Genres: Miko / Spiritual / Supernatural
I've watched: 1 episode
Art style: Common

Summary: Noboru and Toru are two brothers of a family decent that has power of water to ward off demons. When Toru is being tracked by a demon, an ancient fox spirit who was seal by their Toru's family was awaken to help ward it off. Instead of putting her back into sleep, they decide to let her follow them around and protect them.

Rating (of 5) - first impression: 4.5 ~ Miko is not quite my thing, but the fox spirit looks quite intersting

Personal comments: Fox ear/wolf ear has been a popular thing in recent manga/animes. The concept of this anime is somewhat old. But there are some new and interesting aspects from this anime that is worth looking into. On top of that, I really like the art work on the wolf spirit.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Rental Magic: (Ended) Not Big Enough

Rental Magica is one of the few animes that is really difficult for me to place. The plot line is a rolling snowball: it accumulates momentum throughout the series, and release some of them to gain more momentum. I have to say the plot planning and the execution is definitely one of the best I've seen lately. In my opinion, it's almost as good as Darker Than Black, who earned my best drama award for 2007.

However, Rental Magica did not achieve the level of greatness that Darker Than Black did. Why? I think it's due to its lack of final climax. Sure there is a "finale event", but it feels a bit "disconnected". This finale event did somewhat use the momentums that was gathered in previous episodes, but only barely. There just isn't enough build-up for me to get excited about it.

The bottom line is, it's a solid good anime, but it's a bit short from being a great anime.

Final Scoreboard (of 5):

Drama: 4.5 (No lack of it...)
Comedy: 3.5 (This is not its focus)
Action: 4 (Pretty good, but once a while, you do get some cheesy action)
Art/Animation: 4 (Good, clean style)
Sound/Music: 4 (Above average)
Character: 4.5 (Diverse, and deep characteristics)
Plot: 4.7 (Solid)
Ending: 3.75 (Acceptable, it'll be better if it had better final climax)
Re-watch value: 2 (You really don't need to watch more than once)

Overall: 4 ~ Very well built plot, but lack of final climax

Recommendation: Rental Magica lies in between my "Recommended" and "Highly Recommended" animes. Though it's not a "must watch" anime, I'd still recommend you place it somewhere high in your queue.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Majin Tantei Nōgami Neuro: (Ended) Whatever...

Majin Tantei Nogami Neuro never impressed me much. However, I kept watching. I mean during all this time I'm just simplying following it, as it's playing in the background while I'm drifting off somewhere else. The concept is "unique", the story, well, if you take away the lame parts, it might be somewhat decent. But as it is right now, it's just lame.

Final Scoreboard (of 5):

Drama: 3.5 (Kind of lame...)
Comedy: 4 (I guess you could view this as an comedy)
Action: 4 (One of the few decent part of the series)
Art/Animation: 4 (A bit weird, but not bad)
Sound/Music: 4 (I liked the ending theme song)
Character: 3 (A bit...retarded)
Plot: 4 (Acceptable to some degree)
Ending: 3 (Complete open ended)
Re-watch value: 1 (Once is enough)

Overall: 3.2 ~ It's barely enough for me to finish it

Recommendation: This is definitely on my "don't care" list. So the decision whether to watch is completely up to you. It has some values, but not enough for me to recommend it.

Gunslinger Girl ~ Il Teatrino: (Ended) Gotten Better

Later episodes of the series had gotten a lot better than the earlier ones. They don't look like a low budget B-movie like they did. Obviously, they have the ability to make it semi decent, I wonder why didn't they do it to begin with.

However, the first series just left too much of a good impression for me that I still couldn't get around to start liking the different art style in the second series. The look of everybody is just...not right: I can't quite tell what, it's just not right.

The story itself, seemed to focused not only in the main plot development, but also in developing the personality trait for each girl: Rico is the sensless; Triela is the stubborn; Angelica is the whiny; Henrietta is the emotional; and Claes is the useless.

Final Scoreboard (of 5):

Drama: 3.75 (Acceptable, I guess)
Comedy: N/A
Action: 1 / 3.5 (Earlier episodes are just plain cheesy in actions, later ones had gotten better)
Art/Animation: 2.75 (Sucks compare to the original)
Sound/Music: 3 (Acceptable)
Character: 3 (At least they declared each girl's personality trait)
Plot: 3 (I think it's somewhat cheesy and stupid)
Ending: 3.5 (Good enough, I guess)
Re-watch value: 1 (No, not gonna see it again)

Overall: 3.5 ~ I wish they had let the studio who made the original series make this one

Recommendation: On one hand, I really don't want to recommend it to anybody, especially for those who liked the original series. On the other hand, it does serve as an extension to the original series (especially most of the plot in this series followed the book which it's adapted from), and it's nice to see it.

Shakugan no Shana II: (Ended) Spectacular!

Rarely, I've seen an already outstanding series have a sequel that is just as good or even exceeds the level of the original series. Shakugan no Shana II managed to do that. After I heard that a sequel is coming out of the original series, I thought there is no way it's going to beat the original series. Because the original series, in my opinion is somewhere near if not at the top of its kind (action/modern fantasy). However, the sequel just brought it to a whole new level. This series further affirmed J.C.Staff's position being one of my favorite animation studio (the other one is Gonzo, but it's getting close to be struck out). The original series plus this sequel, would be gaining a spot on my all time favorite animes list.

Final Scoreboard (of 5):

Drama: 5 (This is what it's all about)
Comedy: 4.75 (There are some interesting comedies in most unexpected places)
Action: 5 (Spectacular)
Art/Animation: 5 (Very well presented)
Sound/Music: 4.75 (I like the first set of theme songs, not quite fund of the second set)
Character: 5 (Deep and rich in personalities)
Plot: 4.75 (There are some short comings, but still great)
Ending: 4.5 (It ended close to perfection, somehow I didn't mind it that much...)
Re-watch value: 3 (It's just my personal opinion, I think it might worth re-watching)

Overall (not average): 4.8 ~ October 2007 Season's Top Pick

Award: Best Long Season Action/Drama Anime of 2008

Recommendation: This is one of the few animes that I unconditionally recommend to anybody. However, you really can't just jump in from the beginning of this series. You'll need to watch the first series, or, if you want to save time, watch the movie before you could appreciate this sequel.

Kimikiss Pure Rouge: (Ended) Too......Perfect

I don't really have a problem with stories having perfect ending, as long as it's reasonable. As for Kimikiss, well, the ending is reasonable, but it's just too perfect. Everybody ended up with who they supposed to be (ok, that's up for debate, but I think most people would agree). I'm not saying I didn't like it, I just feel it's been "over-crafted" into the perfect ending. Grant it there are still people getting the shaft, but you could already tell from the very beginning that they were stamped with "fail" ever since the beginning. So, the ending like this just make you feel like you've wasted all this time to see something going towards where you know it's going to end up.

Final Scoreboard (0f 5):

Drama: 4 (It's very planned, but it's still good)
Comedy: 4 (This is not its focus)
Action: N/A
Art/Animation: 3.8 (The constrast is too low)
Sound/Music: 3.5 (Not much impression)
Character: 4.5 (Quantity and quality)
Plot: 3.75 (More surprises would be good)
Ending: 3.75 (Too perfect)
Re-watch value: 2 (Once is enough)

Overall (not average): 4 ~ Despite how it ended, I think it's still a solid series

Recommendation: If you're into animes about relationships, this is for you. If you're into perfect ending, this is also for you. If you're into neither, well, then, watch other stuff on your list before you watch this.

Kaiji: (Ended) Gamble = Lose

If Kaiji tought us anything, it is that you never win at gamble, unless you're running the gamble. The author of this manga, is very famous for the use of deep psychological analysis. You can definitely see that from this anime. However, I'm not sure exactly what message is the author trying to pass to us: to gamble or not to gamble. On one hand, it seems that it's trying to tell us that we only live once, if you don't gamble, you never win; on the other hand, it's trying to tell us that unless you are the one running the gamble, the odds are always against you. I'm a bit confused about what it's trying to say...

Final Scoreboard (of 5):

Drama: 5 (Filled with it)
Comedy: N/A
Action: N/A
Art/Animation: 3 (I hated this art style, but it does grow on you after a while)
Sound/Music: 4 (Theme songs are quite good)
Character: 5 (Deep, deep, deep...)
Plot: 4.2 (The drama is great, but there are some part of the plot just make you say "WTF?")
Ending: 4.8 (This is one of the few animes that didn't chicken out on ending it in a non-ideal way)
Re-watch value: 3 (There are certain part you may want to re-watch to see the psychological analyisis)

Overall (not average): 4.5 ~ I'm surprised how good an anime that I was ready to through away before I watched the first episode could be become

Recommendataion: If you're into deep psychological analysis, you might find this one amusing (or retarded, depending on how good you're at it, I guess). Otherwise, if you like its art style (I really couldn't image anybody actually does...) watch it. Otherwise, there'll be no reason for you to watch it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

True Tears: (Ended) Slow Start, Slow End

Normally, a story which has a slow start tend to build up momentum speed throughout the series. True Tears is a bit strange though: It has a slow start and slow end, the middle part seemed to have a slightly faster pace then either end.

The story itself, is interesting enough, if you can put up with the slow developing plots. The thing is that nobody except one character like to talk throughout the series. You have a whole bunch of characters, running around not talking to each other, and things are happening the way it did because nobody is talking to others. I guess at some point they're trying to show that sometimes, a little talking would prevent big problems.

The ending, I saw that coming long time ago. Actually, I take that back, I didn't see it coming, but I was hoping it to end that way. Normally, I prefer tragic endings. However, if there is just no way it'll end in tragedies, I'd prefer it end in the way I'm hoping to end.

Final Scoreboard (of 5):

Drama: 4 (Slow, but there's definitely drama)
Comedy: N/A
Action: N/A
Art/Animation: 4 (Something I like about its style that I can't quite get a grasp on)
Sound/Music: 3.5 (Not much lasting impression)
Character: 4 (Again, slow, but there are quite some character development)
Plot: 4 (There are some unpredictable events along the way)
Ending: 4 (One of my preferred ending)
Re-watch value: 1 (I don't think anybody want to suffer the slowness again)

Overall (not average): 3.8 ~ Only if they could figure out a way to speed it up, it'd be much better...

Recommendation: Overall, it's a decent anime. However, for those who couldn't stand slow animes, this is definitely not for you. Only watch it if you can tolerate slow developing plots.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Shigofumi: (Ended) Short and Unique

There really isn't much to say about this anime. Sure it's unique, kind of, maybe, but I don't see much value beyond that. Somehow it feels very...half-assed for the most part. Grant it, you want series like this to be short and sweet, but somehow, the way they did it, just doesn't feel quite complete. I mean, I can't point out obvious faults, but I can't seem to appreciate it very much either.

Final Scoreboard (of 5):

Drama: 3.75 (Somewhat, but not enough to make lasting impression)
Comedy: 3.75 (Here and there, quite sporadic)
Action: 3.75 (Very few, but not bad)
Art/Animation: 3.9 (Not my favorite art style, but doens't feel too bad either)
Sound/Music: 3.5 (Not much lasting impression)
Character: 4.25 (I think this is one thing they did do well in)
Plot: 3.9 (Feels somewhat "half-assed")
Ending: 3.5 (Predictible)
Re-watch value: 2 (Very unlikely anybody want to see it again)

Overall (not average): 3.5 ~ Above average for sure, but not much...

Recommendation: Well, this is a hard one. This one is not anywhere near my top recommendation level. However, there are some redeeming values. So, I'd probably put this in front those I say "watch it when you are out of stuff to watch", but behind anything I recommend straight up.

Rosario + Vampire: (Ended) ...

Gonzo truely is the master of drama. They manage to bring this series which have almost no substance what so ever into a highly dramatic conclusion. Talking about being over-dramatized...

The bottom line is I'm glad this series is over, because I really don't want to see any more of this low quality series that is actually made by one of my favorite production studio. Gonzo really need to either restructure or axe their comedy department. Series like this is destroying their reputation.

Final Scoreboard (of 5):

Drama: 2.5 (Barely)
Comedy: 3.25 (Something in their humor just doesn't feel right)
Action: 2.5 (Almost as cheesy as Devil May Cry)
Art/Animation: 2.75 (Too much fan service)
Sound/Music: 3 (Nothing exceptional)
Character: 2.75 (Shallow)
Plot: 2 (It's just plain stupid)
Ending: 3.5 (The only semi-decent part of this series)

Re-watch value: 1 (Even once is more than enough)

Overall (not average): 2.5 ~ One of Gonzo's worst

Recommendation: If somebody does some selective editing and cut the total running time to about, say 3~4 episodes, it might be a ok series to watch while you're bored. As it is right now, I wouldn't even recommend it even if you don't have anything else to watch.

Dragonaut: (Ended) Mediocre

After seeing the end of Dragonaut, I was a bit disappointed. I was hoping Gonzo would play out some of the tragic potential of this series, but they didn't. However, I wouldn't hold that against this them for the quality of the anime.

Overall, I think one of my biggest problems with this series is the lack of intensity. Sure there are ups and downs throughout the series, but there's almost never a moment made me hold my breath to see what's coming next. When there's no such a moment, the series tend not to leave a lasting impression for me.

On a separate note, I admint that Gonzo is the master of creating dramas. However, as I said in an earlier entry, they seemed to "over-used" this talent. If you plot a curve with view's satisfaction and the degree of dramatic effect, there would be a point increased dramatization causes negative satisfactions for the views. I think Dragonaut ran a bit too far crossed that point.

Final Scoreboard (of 5):

Drama: 4 (I think they over did it a little)
Comedy: N/A
Action: 3 (Most are ok, but there are some quite cheesy ones)
Art/Animation: 3 (I don't like this style. I think bit over simplified)
Sound/Music: 3.5 (Not bad, but nothing exceptional)
Character: 3.75 (Asides from the main pair, there aren't really much development on others)
Plot: 3.5 (I think there aren't enough ups and downs)
Ending: 3 (Flat, not interesting)

Re-watch value: 2 (I doubt anybody would want to watch it again)

Overall (not average): 3.25 (This one sucks consider Gonzo's standard level)

Recommendation: I wouldn't recommend it, unless by some odd chance, you liked Speed Grapher and Witchblade very much. Then, you might actually like this one, at least the art.

Shion no Ou: (Ended) Shougi or Drama?

The murder mystery is solved, and the drama (partially) about Shougi is ended. Come to think of it, I think there are more than half of the series' time is devoted to Shougi. It's surprising how it managed to last all the way to the end for me who do not play or care to play Shougi.

If you look at the plot, even though there are some unpredictability, for the most part, you can still see something coming several episodes ahead. So I think the attraction has more to do with the character then the plot itself. There are many deep, rich, and well developed characteristics in this show. The mystery really isn't a mystery any more two thirds of the way through the series, yet it's still so interesting because you want to see how the character would react to the fact once they discovered them.

On top of that, there are Shougi play to fill in the blanks-in-between. I'm sure people with Shougi experience would be either praising or criticizing the plays. Me? I had no clue what they are doing. Even so, it still provided some necessary intensities for the series.

I really couldn't say which is more technical, Hikaru no Go, or Shion no Ou. Mostly due to the lack of experience of Shougi. But the general expression I got is that Shion no Ou does carry a bit deeper into the technicality of Shougi than Hikaru no Go does with Go.

Overall, I think it's a solid series.

Final Scoreboard (of 5):

Drama: 4.5 (No lack of that)
Comedy: 4 (There are some humors here and there)
Action: N/A
Art/Animation: 4.5 (Clean, clear, and stylized)
Sound/Music: 3.5 (I don't remember, which means average at best; I do like the opening theme though)
Character: 5 (Well developed)
Plot: 4 (Interesting)
Ending: 4 (Satisfactory)

Re-watch value: 3.5 (Maybe I'll watch it again once I get interested in Shougi)

Overall (not average): 4.2 ~ I think it's a solid series, people knows Shougi might disagree...

Recommendation: Unless you really dislike technical animes (or Shougi), I think this is worth watching.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Spice and Wolf:(Ended) More please...

It is only a 13 episode short journey, but I'm undoubtedly attached to all characters in the series, especially the wise wolf deity, Horo (or Holo, depending on your translation). Come to think of it, there is nothing really stands out, but it's just so mysteriously interesting.

This is one series that I didn't want it to end. The good thing is, the ending is left completely open. It's very easy to be picked back up and make another series out of it. Let's just hope they do.

About the art style, I thought it looked somewhat familiar, so I looked it up. It's done by animation studio IMAGIN, which is the co-production studio of Strawberry Panic!. If you've seen both, you can tell that there are many similarities.

One more word about the art work: the wolf ear is OK, but the wolf tail looks more like a fox tail. I'm not saying I didn't like it that way, it's just how I felt.

Final Scoreboard (of 5):

Drama: 4.75 (Ups and downs, highly contrasted plots)
Comedy: 4.5 (Some wicked humors)
Action: 4 (It's not the focus of this anime)
Art/Animation: 5 (Love the art work)
Sound/Music: 5 (Very good opening/ending theme, and good original score)
Character: 5 (Some of the most interesting characters I've seen)
Plot: 5 (Very creative)
Ending: 4.5 (I normally don't like anime finishes open-ended, but I like to see more of this, so...)

Re-watch value: 4 (This is highly debatable, but I wouldn't mind watching it again)

Overall (not average): 5

Award: Most Unique Anime of 2008 (well, at least among what we have so far)

Recommendation: Many of my friends say that I have weird taste for animes, this may just be one of my "weird tastes". But if you ask me, I'm going to tell you that I highly recommend this series.

Sisters of Wellber 2: (Ended) War and Peace

After two (technically three) long journeys, story of princess Rita and her girlfriend is finally over. While I wouldn't criticize overall quality of the series, there are so many little things that are just too "fantasy", like people in medieval setting naturally know how to pilot an air plane. Grant it, it is a "fantasy" story, so I don't have big problem about things being "fantasized".

The plot, well, I have mixed feelings about it. While they didn't chicken out on playing out the tragedy, the effect of the tragedy, was overshadowed by the later near perfect ending. (It is a bit strange to say that, because normally it's the other way around. Maybe I should say the tragedy is over-shined by the later perfected ending.) I mean, the effect of the tragedy just didn't last nearly long enough. The thing is, it should have been a big deal, but somehow they didn't make a big deal out of it. I am not very happy about that. If I were the writer, I'd attach a much heavier ending than this. But again, I LOVE tragedies, and most people wouldn't be able to stand it.

Final Scoreboard (of 5):

Drama: 3.5 (Acceptable)
Comedy: N/A
Action: 3.5 (Good and bad)
Art/Animation: 3.5 (Ok, I guess)
Sound/Music: 3.5 (One very important thing, they didn't play out proper music for the tragedy)
Character: 4 (Characters do have depth)
Plot: 3.75 (Relatively speaking, much better than first one)
Ending: 3.75 (They did play out one tragedy)
Re-watch value: 2 (No reason to watch it again)

Overall (not average): 3.5 ~ Slightly better than I thought

Recommendation: If they combine the two series, shink them down to about 15~16 episodes, it's probably an ok series. As it is right now, there are just too much fillers. My recommendation would be watch it if you are out of stuff to watch.