Tag Archives: 2006

Ghost Hunt

Type: Ghost Facers!

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Synopsis: Based on a Light Novel that ran for 2 years, which inspired a manga that ran for 12 years, is this anime that ran for 25 episodes. Its about, you guessed it, a group of Ghost Hunters. You get a little bit of everything. You get a Paranormal Researcher, a Monk, a Shrine Maiden, a Priest, an Onmyoji, and even a teenage girl for good measure.

Pros: Ghost Hunt is an anime comprised of several different “cases,” each involving some sort of paranormal activity. Some involve Ghost, while others involve Psychics, or Demons, or etc. One thing I really liked was the use of different specialities when dealing with the paranormal. A lot of different cultures and faiths are represented, from Buddhism, Christianity, Shintoism, to  modern technology. It’s a nice representation of the quirky fact that people all over the world have developed different ways to ward off evil spirits. The characters of the show end up using “real world” methods for fighting ghosts. So if your interested in paranormal activity, this is a quick primer. Some of the cases do get good, though they quality fluctuates. I loved the character of Mai, as her often overemotional delivery brought much needed energy into the show.

Cons: Honestly, its a little long. The show covers 8 different cases, and with 25 episodes, that’s about 3-4 episodes per case. And outside of Mai, none of the characters are well executed enough to warrant such attention. The problem is that the support cast are all outside contractors. The main characters are Mai and Naru, the latter running a paranormal research agency. Naru brings in the support characters to help out on cases. Every case in fact. Makes you wonder why he doesn’t just put them on staff. As such, there’s always this distance between the audience and the supporting characters. You pieces of personal history here and there, not that’s not much. Then there’s Naru, whose a really unlikable. He’s the stereotypical “cool” character, whose quite, prideful, and keeps things to himself. To quote Naru himself, he uses “strategic secrets.” Narratively, this is used to create situations that make Naru look evil, only to reveal after the fact that he’s actually super nice you guys! See, he wasn’t going to curse 600 students, that’s crazy talk. He was just going to make it look like he was and not tell anyone his plan, even though he had no reason not to tell the truth. Isn’t he the best and cutest?! Sadly, the brunt of this plot structure comes at the expense of Mai, who is often used to call Naru on his bullshit, only to be proven wrong at the end. Story wise, it has a monster of the week vibe, kinda boring at times, the animation doesn’t hold up, and the Opening, OH MY GOD, that was the laziest thing I’ve ever seen.

Watch it?: Overall, kind of bland. (3/5)

MVP: Mai Taniyama

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The Liveliest Hunter

Best Episodes: Ep18-21 “File 7: The Bloodstained Labyrinth Part 4” (scary, and the first anime I’ve encountered to mention Japan and China’s harsh history)

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Naruto the Movie: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom [Naruto Movie Month]

Type: Annoying kid character in 3,2,1….

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Synopsis: Mission 3- Escort a Prince and his son on vacation

Pros: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom is the last Naruto Part 1 movie. So that’s a plus!

Cons: A. Lot. Of. Stuff. The movie is slowwwwww. It spends way too much time trying to establish Hikaru. In all honesty, it felt more like a filler arc than film. The premise is that Naruto, Sakura, Rock Lee (f#ck yeah!) and Kakashi are escorting the Prince of the Moon Kingdom and his son back home. Prince Michiru and his son Hikaru’s story arc is that they are very materialistic, and they have to learn that whole “can’t buy my love” thing. This all rang a little hollow, and the film doesn’t do a good job making the viewer dislike the two, at least not in the way it intended. Michiru was played as more comedic, so his materialism was more funny than annoying, and Hikaru came off more as an lonely kid than spoiled. In fact, the other characters, particularly Naruto and Hikaru’s mother, came off as waaaay more judgemental and jerky. At one point, Naruto chastises the 8 year old Hikaru for crying, which was right after the DEATH of his grandfather and KIDNAPPING of his father. Give the kid a break, not all of us were raised by militant ninjas Naruto! Maybe combining Hikaru and Michiru into one character would have fixed this, I don’t know. And as usual, we get a cast of very forgettable villains who don’t even show up until halfway. The standard Evil Authority figure and his 3 ninja henchmen.

Best Naruto Movie?: No

Villain: Shabadaba

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Forgettable Villain #3

Best Moment: The Ninja summer wear (short sleeves are in!)

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Negima!?

Type: A remake, who knew?

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Synopsis: In what I’m pretty sure is just a Harry Potter rip-off, a young wizard from England takes a teaching job at an all-girl’s school. While there, he makes semi-romantic pacts with his students and makes them do various favors for him. In a good way.

Pros: Negima!? is an alternate remake of Maho Sensei Negima! a manga and anime about a young wizard and his class of school girls. The manga was actually made by Ken Akamatsu, creator of Love Hina! As such, both series have a similar brand of goofy humor and love comedy. You have a girl with crazy pink tales and obsession with Chupacabras, a robot and vampire, a Blond girl who keeps calling another girl a failure, a samurai whose way too in love with her charge, it’s great! This particular version, however, was also made by SHAFT and director Akuyuki Shinbo, who worked on such anime as Medoka Magica and Nisemonogatari. So like a lot of SHAFT and Shinbo work, Negima!? is full of easter eggs (The Black Rose Baron), ranging art styles, match-cuts, short skits, etc. Just think Monogatari, or even Zetsubou-Sensei. In fact, the only reason I know about Negima!?’s production background is because it reminded so much of Zetsunou-Sensei that I had to double check. So while I was expecting a very generic looking love-comedy/harem, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the show.

Cons: Let me put it this way, having SHAFT and Akuyuki Shinbo saved the show. At its core, Negima!? is still a fairly generic harem anime. Its actually kinda weirder because he protagonist is a 10 year old boy, and all his love interests are about 14-15 years old. And the fact that all the girls have to kiss the child doesn’t help in the gross factor. Just imagine if it was a 10 year old girl and 14-15 year old boys. Ewwwwwww. But SHAFT and Shinbo’s style makes it sort of work. Now, its not perfect. The story arcs aren’t really that interesting. A lot of the early episodes are repetitive, with all the problems being resolved with Negima kissing a girl. Sometimes the animation and story don’t mesh, and the opening intro doesn’t really match the tone of the show. The central plot revolving around the “Star Crystals” and “The Darkness” are mediocre at best, but the gags and character interactions surrounding it are great. These two elements manage to balance each other out, and you’ll end up remembering the good over the bad.

Watch it!?: It takes a bit, but you’ll get into it (4/5)

MVP: Asuna’s Pink-Tails

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Officially the only anime girl I like with Pink-Tails

Best Episode: Ep.14 “‘Frankly speaking, in the face of magic, scientific theory might as well be nonexistent.’ by Hakase” (I just love that falling out of the sky scene)

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Samurai 7

Type: “I’ll be in the rice!”

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Synopsis: A remake of the legendary Seven Samurai film, Kambei is now a very pretty older man! Katsushiro is pretty much the same! Gorobei is a street performer! Shichiroji is in a healthy relationship! Haihachi is a mechanic! Kyuzo is a silent assassin! And Kikuchiyo is a loudmouth robot! And Shino is replaced my a water maiden named Kirara!

Pros: I’ve always been curious about Samurai 7. It’s an adaptation of one of the most, if not the most, influential Japanese movie in history. The anime mostly follows the plot of the movie, and does included a lot of the key moments (Ex: Kambei testing Gorobei). For those who somehow don’t know, the story is that a poor farming village hires Samurai to protect them from bandits. Only this time, the bandits are Mecha, as this takes place in a quasi-futuristic setting. Flying ships, samurai deflecting lasers, etc. The beauty with this adaptation is that we get more time with the 7 samurai, with each getting more fleshed out by virtue of having 26 episodes instead of 2 hours. For example, in the anime Kambei is younger than in the film, so we get to see him in battle. What I loved was that Kambei was skilled, but not overpowered, and tended to tactics rather than raw skill to hold his own. Another thing worth mentioning is that the actual plot borrowed from the film ends at about Ep19. The plot is then extended to a battle between the Samurai and the Capital. While I have mixed feelings about this, I did like the fact that the fight against the Capital stems from the mistreatment of the farmers, particularly the scores of women that had been abducted over the years. And while not a central focus, I did appreciate that the victimization of females in feudal settings was at least included in the conversation.

Cons: Obviously this isn’t a perfect adaptation of the film. The anime takes liberties to help set it aparts. Some good, some not so good (like Kikuchiyo coming off way more annoying). But still, the show has a definitive beginning, middle, and end (though the ending could have been better). I didn’t really buy the “Emperor” as a credible antagonist. I would have much preferred that the bandits had stayed the main protagonists. Maybe take the opportunity to flesh them out and explore why they abandoned the samurai way. In fact, the show could have easily replaced “The Emperor” with “Bandit Leader.”But that’s the thing about this, even though it had more time than the original, none of the characters are as explored as I would have liked. You do get a better sense of their personalities, but not their backstory. How did Kambei and Shijirochi act in their younger days? What happened with Heihachi’s old troupe? Why does Kyozu want a duel so bad? One or two spotlight episodes would have been appreciated. On the technical side, the animation was all over the place in terms of quality, particularly in the first few episodes where the show actually repeats crowd scenes (maybe the animators were in a rush?). And on a personal note, I hated the love triangle the show was trying to make between Kambei, Katsuchiro, and Kirara. It was mostly there because it was in the movie, but come on. No matter how much anime I watch, I am just never going to root for the teenager(16 in this one) trying to get with an adult, no matter how cool he/she is. Plus, it doesn’t do anything other than give Katsuchiro another area to feel inadequate about. If the show really wanted to explore a love story, how about Shichiroji and his girlfriend Yukiko? At least they have witty banter.

Watch it?: Watch Seven Samurai, and then The Magnificent Seven, and the maybe this (4/5)

MVP: Shichiroji and Yukiko

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The more I think about it, the more I want a side series

Best Episode?: Ep.7 “The Friend” (I can’t help it, I just find them cute)

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Makai Senki Disgaea

Type: Hour of Darkness, sort of

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Synopsis: An anime inspired by a video game series that already uses a lot of anime in it. This one loosely follows the plot of the first game, where an annoying would-be “Overlord” and his two female sidekicks travel the tactical rpg world with an army of penguins.

Pros: I love the Disgaea game series. Well, technically I love Disgaea 2, but I respect the rest. Apparently, this anime sorta follows the plot of the Disgaea 1. As a fan, I can sort of see this, but the story clearly works better in the battle-by-battle cutscene flow of the games. The anime itself is ok. Except of a few boob jokes here and there, its the kind of anime what you would see from an old Fox Saturday Morning cartoon line-up.

Cons: This is an anime that tries to translate a video game story into an anime. These don’t tend to work out. Partly, its because anime creators don’t have faith in the strength of the original story and try to add filler. There are some exceptions, like visual novels, but these tend to follow anime troupes. But to be fair, a lot of game stories are bad, but you give them a pass because you get to do all the exciting stuff yourself. Anyway,  I’d wager that I’d enjoy the game scenes on Youtube over the anime. The anime simply flows oddly, having weird stops and warps in the story. The characters are fun, especially Etna and Flonne, but they have to contend with an anime story that’s just not strong enough. Again, the anime is fine. It’s OK. It’s enjoyable at points. But given the source material, it had the potential to be more. Maybe the first game wasn’t the one to adapt.

Watch it?: I’d pass on it (3/5)

MVP: Flonne

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Love will save the Demon World

Best Episode: Ep.11 “A Night Lit Up by the Red Moon” (The only time I could tolerate Laharl)

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Hellsing Ultimate

Type: Six Years in the Making

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Synopsis: The English Hellsing organization hunt and destroy the creatures of the night for Queen and Country. For years, the biggest thing they needed to contend with was the Iscariot group supported by the Vatican. Typical Protestant vs Catholic competition, until a group of VAMPIRE NAZIS!!!!! led by an actual Mad Scientist decide to invade England. Luckily for Hellsing, they have a secret weapon, an incredibly deadly and enigmatic vampire named Alucard, which suspiciously spells “Dracula” backwards, hmm…..

Pros: Man, is this thing stylized. If your a fan of over the top violence with plenty of gore, this is the one for you. This here is high octane folks. It should be noted that this is Hellsing Ultimate, not to be confused with the original Hellsing anime. The differences? Well, for one, this one is much prettier. Second, it apparently follows the manga plot much for closes. Finally, each episodes is about 45-60 minutes long. I also feel that its very Western friendly. The plot, Nazi Vampires vs. the Church, is familiar enough to come out of a B-movie or video game. The English voice work is fantastic, and an almost textbook example of the difference between localization and straight translation. I myself particularly liked the use of English accents, since the story takes place mainly in Britain. I also found it very impressive that the whole anime works despite taking 6 years to complete.

Cons: This is a very violent anime, which may turn you off. It was also the first instance that I ran into necrophilia in an anime, so….yeah. To the show’s credit though, they had a pretty blond girl with bouncy breasts, and nothing pervy happens to her. Their are some moments when the animation quality fluxuates, and I don’t feel that the humor used landed quite well.

Watch it?: I mean, you do see a lot of Nazis get killed…which is AWESOME (5/5)

MPV: Alexander Anderson

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That Scottish Accent Though!

Best Episode: Ep. 5 “Hellsing V” (The Battle of London begins again!)

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The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Type: Literal Title

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Synopsis: Really? A girl leaps through time. It’s not that hard to figure out.

Pros: O.K., so I’m a sucker for time travel stories. This has been established. I loved the this movie. It was light-hearted, funny, and used time travel in a very realistic fashion. Basically, it was used for shinanigans. Pass a test. Dodge a hit. Sing kareoke ten times in a row. Everything the average person would do. Because, lets be real here. You might think you’d use time travel to kill Hitler or bet on the 2004 World Series, but you would actually just use it as a redo-button for your life. A lot of the humor comes from Makoto literally leaping though time and fixing various little high school problems. The main conflict, which thankfully isn’t some reality shattering consequence of abusing time travel, arises when Makoto discovers that her two male best friends like her (which I get the feeling happens to a lot of girls). This wasn’t overly melodramatic, at least at the start, and I would highly recommend this film to anyone.

Cons: The film doesn’t quite stick the landing. In about the last 40 minutes, you discover how Makoto was traveling through time, and the movie goes down the cliche love angle. This felt out of place with the rest of the story. The first act had been Makoto using time travel in funny ways. The second act was Makoto finding herself in a love triangle and trying her best to undo it, because screw whoever came up with the term “friend zone.” What bothered me about the third act is that the previous two had been alluding to the consequences of time travel. Not in an earth shattering way, but in a more personal “you open a door but close a window” sort of way. That’s why one of Makoto’s classmates was being bullied, because Makoto accidentally transferred her series of unfortunate events to him. But these consequences never pay off in a tone consistent to the more down to earth plot before hand. Maybe if the film had explored Makoto dating both boys, or giving up both, or something totally different. Don’t get me wrong, the ending doesn’t ruin the movie by any means, it just makes it “good” where it could have been “great.”

Watch it?: Very accessible.

MVP: Makoto

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Keep rolling, rolling, rolling….

Best Moment: Makoto laughing arrogantly over her new mastery over time.

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Ah My Goddess! Flights of Fancy

Type: Also known as Season 2

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Synopsis: Keiichi is basically still living the swell life. After somehow ending up with the goddess Belldandy and her two not-so-wicked sister, Urd and Skuld, he’s more or less adjusted. He and Belldandy even manage to get closer on an emotional level, which is cool I guess. I mean, this kinda comes back to bite them when Urd’s mother, the LORD OF TERROR, decides to mess with them because why not? Can their love overcome the devil herself!? (Spoilers: Yeah, probably).

Synopsis: The animation seems to have gotten a bit of an upgrade between seasons, but not by much. I liked this season’s plot better than the first season. Aside from a few fluff episodes, the core story for season 2 is the growing intimacy between Keiichi and Belldandy, specifically on Belldandy’s side. This season, Belldandy experiences jealousy and possessiveness for the first time (she also gets drunk, which is always funny). Keiichi and Belldandy’s relationship are given several tests time around, and Belldandy’s new feelings boost the drama. Don’t get me wrong, this ain’t Days of Our Lives or anything, but I’m glad Belldandy and Keiichi were back to being the focus of the show after the lackluster second half of season 1. I also forgot to mention this last time, but I love the scottish influenced opening melody.

Cons: Again, nothing too bad or good. Aside from Keiichi and Belldandy, the other side stories are the inner turmoil between Urd’s goddess and demon sides, and a mini-arc about Skuld’s first love. A lot of episodes are still skippable, and you will most likely want to skim through a lot of this. Also, and I forgot the mention this last time, but this series has the weird habit of ending the plot two episodes early, meaning we essentially get two extra episodes for finales. That’s just weird.

Watch it!?: Did you know that Manga lasted 26 years? (3/5)

MPV: Belldandy

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She was rounded out a bit more

Best Episode: Ep.20 “Ah! It Doesn’t Matter Where, So Long as We’re Together!” (there’s nothing quite as romantic as a private dance together).

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Powerpuff Girls Z

Type: No sugar or spice, but still something nice.

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Synopsis: So apparently, someone read my dream journal and created an anime version of the Powerpuff Girls. In this alternate retelling, three unrelated girls are zapped with white energy powered by Chemical Z. Thus, the Powerpuff Girls are born. Using their Hensin-A-Go-Go! powers and totally cute matching outfits, Hyper Blossom, Rolling Bubbles, and Powered Buttercup dedicate their lives to fighting crime and the forces of evil.

Pros: My mind nearly exploded from joy when I discovered that Powerpuff Girls Z existed. Naturally, I had to drop everything and watch the show immediately (I’m sure my fiance will move the wedding to another month). When you think about it, turning the Powerpuff Girls into a Magical Girl-esque anime makes a lot of sense. You already have a leader, ditz, and tomboy right there. From a nostalgia viewpoint, this show was a hoot. It was also fun to see how slightly older versions of the girls would act, though I’m not sure if Blossom would have become quite so boy crazy.

Cons: I’m ganna be frank, this show gets very inane at times. Powerpuff Girls Z was definitely created for younger audiences, which becomes painfully obvious during the “learn a moral” episodes. Basically, whenever the girls have to deal with a younger kid, you might as well skip the segment. So if your not the type of person that can deal with semi-bland 52 episode anime made for children, this is not the show for you.

Watch it?: You almost have to just to say you did (3/5)

MVP: Kaoru Matsubara/Powered Buttercup

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I have a soft spot for tomboys

Best Episode: Ep. 1 “Powerpuff Girls to the Rescue / The Secret of the Powerpuff Girls” (Buttercup hates skirts)

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Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple

Type: Kung-Fu Fighting

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Synopsis: Shirahama Kenichi is a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooser. But he wants to be better. He wants to be the champion of the oppressed, the lone vigil in the night. Oh, who am I kidding! All he wants to do is get into some girl’s weird purple spandex pants. And with the help of 5 martial arts masters, he might just do that.

Pros: The greatest thing about Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple is it’s simple foundation. Kenichi is a young man with no fighting talent whatsoever, but through sheer hard work, he manages to become a great warrior. The best thing is, Kenichi doesn’t go out trying to be the best. His only real motivation is trying to become strong enough to protect the Dojo’s daughter, his only real friend. But the whole situation get out of hand, and he’s sorta forced into continually improving himself.  The whole idea of having to slowly work his way up the ranks of the town’s local gang leaders, who all somehow know Martial Arts, is great. It also has a fun cast of characters, and each of Kenichi’s Masters are very entertaining personalities.

Cons: My main gripe with Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple is it’s animation style. Don’t get me wrong, their are no glaring animation problems, nor is the animation itself of poor quality. But it just doesn’t match the tone of the source material. The animation style doesn’t do a proper job of making the fighting exciting. The fight scenes look way too generic, which is the one thing in an action show that should not look average. The rest of the show is honestly pretty hit or miss. It has pretty great character moments between the cast, but the conflict in the show isn’t exactly Sheakespere, its a great idea, but a mild execution.

Watch it?: Yeah. It’s a pretty fun Martial Arts anime. (4/5)

MVP: Shirahama Kenchi

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From Zero to Hero

Best Episode: Ep.49 “The Mightiest Transformation! The Ryōzanpaku Rhythm!” (Imitation is the heart of Martial Arts)

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