College (kind-of-sort-of Hiatus)

The new semester has started!  I have a little bit more time than last, but nothing substantial (just enough to maybe get in an entry on weekends).  In other words, I’m sort of… disappearing again for a while.  Sporadic updates will be the best I can do.

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Quick Review – Bokura no

Gonzo actually managed to spew out something good in the form of Bokura no.

Music
The OP was absolutely the best for the Spring 2007 season! I believe it’s the only one, aside from The Skull Man, that I sat through each and every time I watched an episode. The BG music was almost good enough for me to go find the OST.

Art/Animation
CG robots still aren’t really my thing, but Zearth looks decent. The best part of the battles was the realistically slow motion of them, as giant robots, if we assume their possible existence for a second, aren’t really going to be zipping around. Otherwise, a presumably low budget unfortunately shows, although it’s not bad enough to really distract from the story. A few decent scenes, such as the one in the screencap above, are sprinkled here and there, but that’s it.

Story
I’ve never read the manga so I can’t really draw comparisons, but I’m aware that the anime version is apparently toned down. On one hand, I’m happy with what I saw, as it was tragic but still had a relatively happy ending, but on the other, I don’t know if the happy ending really fit. I’ve seen Narutaru, after all, and the brutality was kind of what made it good. I don’t like the lovey-dovey resolution; I would have liked to see absolute despair.
In any case, one of the best parts was the characters, particularly Ushiro. A show has to be pretty good to turn my most hated character into my favorite.
The worst part was the middle. It’s not that nothing happened or that there was a lot of filler, but it felt a bit lackluster and boring comparing to the beginning and end. I wish that they hadn’t focused so much on the military and economic happenings but instead of just the children.

Final Verdict
I now want to read the manga, which is a good thing. (For average shows, I’m glad that they’re over and done with.) Bokura no was fairly good overall, but the middle kept it from being great and there was just something missing that would’ve made it excellent.
7/10

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Quick Review – Baccano!

Baccano is probably the best thing I’ve caught up on and finished watching since Gurren Lagann.

Music
One of the few shows sporting a purely instrumental OP, the music, as far as I can remember, is catchy and jazz-like. It seldomly stands out but provides excellent background music. The only weak point would be the ED; I didn’t care much for it.

Art/Animation
Great! There are a few dips in the quality here and there, but they’re easy to overlook when considering the droolworthy combat scenes. (Fingers being sliced off never looked so good, I would imagine.)

Story
The storytelling is splendid. It basically follows three different parts of the storyline, taking place mostly in 1930-32, and jumps back and forth between them while gradually piecing everything together. It’s so disjointed yet makes so much sense and all comes together well to form a coherent whole. Really, It’s amazing. The characters, too, were great when you consider that there were so many of them and only 13 episodes, yet by the end I was completely attached. At the same time, this is also quite possibly the most violent anime I’ve watched this year (last year, I mean), but even with two crazy killers romping around and grinding people up on train tracks, among other things, it never feels gimicky or even overly focused on it.
It’s just so… good. And so much fun. I really can’t think of anything bad to say about it.

Final Verdict
The most important thing to mention about Baccano! is that I’m left wanting more. I want the light novels, even though they’re in Japanese and my Japanese-skills aren’t good enough (yet) for anything past the dialogue found in manga aimed at elementary school girls. I want the manga, too, and I want the anime to get licensed. Most of all, I want a sequel, because, as far as I know (from Wikipedia), this covered the first four novels or so out of the thirteen out by now.
9/10

P.S. Happy New Year!

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Quick Review – Heroic Age

Oh, Heroic Age, I really wanted to like you. As for that image up there, it’s sadly the best sceencap I took of the show since my last entry on it. Sorry.

Music
Everything was decent, just not great. I don’t know what else to say; mediocrity is the hardest thing to write about.

Art/Animation
This went down the drain rather quickly and didn’t recover much. I suppose there’s not that much to recover when your characters are designed by Hisashi Hirai (whose style I hate with a burning passion), but the Nodos had at least some potential to look decent.

Story
I have two main complaints. 1) Why were the brothers alive? Their spaceship got blown up and pretty much every person blogging this show (all 2 or 3 of them) had a little party over the most annoying characters finally being killed off, but then they just miraculously reappeared a few episodes later. I don’t get it. 2) Everyone, meaning the different tribes, suddenly got all happy and friendly with each other, and I didn’t like it one bit. If it was that easy, it kind of makes all of the fighting pretty pointless. Pointless for the characters but also for the viewers having to watch it.
Other than that, I believe I’ve already voiced what else is wrong in the entry I’ve written about it: starting off with a super strong mecha which doesn’t get much stronger isn’t very exciting at all when your focus is on said mecha fighting things in pretty much the exact same way. I guess the nicest thing I can say is that the ending was well executed and the cliffhangers that (almost?) each episode ended on actually made me want to watch more.

Final Verdict
Heroic Age had the potential to be pretty awesome eye candy, but then it stopped being awesome and good-looking and turned completely average.
5/10

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Quick Review – The Skull Man

The Skull Man was yet another show I wanted to see because of bones. I haven’t read this manga or any others by the mangaka, so I had no clue where it’d go and also missed any references to other works that may have been there. (Apparently there was some reference to Cyborg 009 – I had no idea.)

Music
The OP was probably my favorite from the season, and the rest of the music was decent. I can at least remember the theme that played when Skull Man would show up, but I wouldn’t buy or even bother to download the OST.

Art/Animation
A comparison with Darker Than Black makes it clear which show got more money thrown at it. This one is pretty far below other shows bones has put out recently (that I can think of), although a few top notch scenes, usually showing the Skull Man himself, were interspersed among the mediocre rest. To be fair, the last few episodes got a bit better, too.

Story
My main complaint about The Skull Man is that I don’t really know what in the world it’s trying to be. Most of the time, it seems to be a murder mystery with lots of political intrigue, but then monsters appear who look out of place and completely ridiculous. To make matters worse, those military freaks got involved, and the ending turned into absolute insanity. Insanity can be nice and all, but when you go from quoting Nietzsche and Shakespeare to fighting lizard-like monsters, it’s kind of weird. How am I supposed to take the whole theme of “humans are evil” seriously when that kind of stuff is in there?

Final Verdict
I liked The Skull Man when it was good, but the greater focus on action toward the end left a bad taste in my mouth. Had the show been about supernatural action and fighting from the start, it would have been fine, but the beginning and end didn’t really go together well for me at all.
6.5/10

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Quick Review – Darker Than Black

Darker Than Black was something I looked forward to because it was made by bones. I had no idea what to expect, but it ended up being neat until the ending just had to come along and ruin everything.

Music
The first OP really grew on me, but the second one was not so great, particularly because there was such a focus on cars at the beginning of it and the song wasn’t good enough to salvage that mess. As for the rest: Yoko Kanno. What more is there to say?

Art/Animation
Thankfully, Darker Than Black was another relatively good looking show, and although the fighting scenes weren’t as fluid as those found in Seirei no Moribito, they were still a pleasure to watch. Or, they at least weren’t painful to watch. Another big plus was the style of the character designs; I quite liked it.

Story
The story is really the most important part of an anime for me; even if the animation isn’t great, a solid story means that I’ll probably still like it. I enjoyed the Violinist of Hamelin TV show, for instance. Darker Than Black doesn’t have any technical issues to worry about, but its story is a difficult thing to judge because it’s both so strong and so awful at the same time. Its strong points are the characters, which were developed well (or maybe I just thought Hei was cool), the intriguing setting, and the two-episode set up, which always had a neat cliffhanger in the middle. There is only one bad point: the ending. Oh, the ending. The setting was left unexplained. On the day I watched it, I had some idea what happened, but trying to remember it only brings to mind the following: “What the hell actually happened?” I have no idea. All I know is that it was extremely unsatisfying, and if that was the way they were going to wrap things up, they should’ve just not tried to wrap anything up at all. I would’ve enjoyed no ending more than this.

Final Verdict
Stylish and entertaining but marred by a bad ending.
7/10

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Quick Review – Seirei no Moribito

Hello, I still exist. I haven’t abandoned this blog; I just have a hard time finding time to even watch things during the semester. I’m off from school for about another week, so, as I said months ago, I’m catching up. Because it’s been a while since I started watching many of these shows, I’m not going to spend hours writing detailed reviews. Rather, I’d just like to do a quick one of each to sort of wrap things up.

First up: Seirei no Moribito

Seirei no Moribito wasn’t something I even looked forward to; the only reason I started watching it was because it got favorable reviews from other bloggers. I’m glad I did. I have no pictures because I had to watch the later episodes with Windows Media Player (not even MPC would work) and have yet to figure out (or care enough to do so) how to take screencaps with it. If you would really like to see some pretty images, head over to the official site.

Music
I’m sorry L’Arc en Ciel, but that OP was terrible. The English at the beginning was probably the worst and most painful part. The ED was good but forgettable, as most of the rest of the music. In fact, the only song that I can actually remember is the Nahji one. As for everything else that played in the background? I have no idea if I’d even recognize it.

Art/Animation
One of the best things about this show was probably the consistently high level of animation. In a time where TV series tend to go drastically downhill after the first few episodes, this is a welcomed change. Sure, the animation quality diminished a bit, but even its low levels looked better than some things seen in other contemporary shows. (Heroic Age, I’m looking at you.)

Story
I’d describe the story as engaging, titillating at parts, and heart-warming. Although I know that it was based on novels and there is actually much more to come that wasn’t told, the ending felt like an actual ending. The one complaint I have is the pacing, which could drag on at parts and just felt a tad too long for 26 episodes.

Final Verdict
Seirei no Moribito was quite a solid title that was excellent on many levels. Just as it’s music, however, something about it just didn’t scream “awesome.” I wouldn’t buy the individual DVDs for it (as I’m doing for Mushishi), but I would consider purchasing a thinpack if one ever came out.

Good, even great, just not exquisite, sublime, awe-inspiring, or whatever synonym of those you’d like.
If I had to give it a rating: 8/10

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Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann Review

What better way to spend part of a four-day weekend than watching Gurren-Lagann?

I finished watching it on Friday, but spent the last two days randomly watching three or four scenes from the final three episodes because it was just that good. In fact, it left me with that empty, sinking feeling that happens upon the completion of a really, really good book, when it feels as though you can never read anything again and enjoy it because nothing can ever live up to what you finished. I can’t remember the last time that happened with anime. (Honey and Clover, maybe?)

In any case, that’s how good it was. I’ve waited a few days to really try to write up a review because I don’t think I could have summoned up the willpower to write anything even remotely objective earlier.

Spoilers ahead.

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College (Hiatus?)

Classes have started up again, and I find myself with little free time.  For example, I didn’t have the chance to even watch anything last weekend, much less write about it.  This probably means that I’m pretty much not going to be updating much (and sporadically if so).  I suppose I may as well announce another hiatus, although I’m going to try my best to finish up at least the spring season shows I had been watching and write reviews.

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Gedo Senki Review

I first came across the Earthsea trilogy in middle school or junior high when I read a book and a half of it (The Tombs of Atuan just wasn’t very interesting to me back then, I guess.) and really liked it, aside from the fact that I never finished it. Years later, I found a little box set of the trilogy at Half-Price Books and finally, finally finished reading all three books a month or so ago. The point of this whole “I have read the books!” intro is that I’m viewing this movie from the perspective of someone who has read the books. Someone who has never read them and has no idea what the original storyline is may feel completely different about the movie than I do.I try hard not to be one of the “Raaah, they changed this tiny little detail from how it was in the books; I absolutely hate the movie now!!” people, but when this movie is a mix of the third and fourth (which I haven’t read) books, that’s just a tiny little bit foreboding.

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