Tag Archives: 2006

Coyote Ragtime Show

Type: That Mister sure was a tall drink of…

Synopsis: Hello! I didn’t-I mean I wasn’t-I mean, boobs right? Right??….You know what? Nah. Nah son. It’s time to be loud and proud. Not just for myself, but for future generations. And I will proudly and loudly say that Mister is a top tier Daddy, and were it biologically possible, I would carry his children.

Pros: Coyote Ragtime Show is an anime space western, the best kind of space western in my opinion. The show follows a band of space pirates lead by the charismatic “Mister.” The entire show takes place in the span of about a week, with all the characters chasing after a treasure left behind by the king of the pirates. But this ain’t no One Piece were the treasure is friendship or whatever. This causes three main forces to all converge on the treasure: our lovable protagonists, Madame Marciano and her robot assassin “daughters,” and Detective Angelica Burns with her plucky if dimwitted sidekick. Mister and the crew of the ship “Coyote” play particularly well off each other, reminding you of an Ocean’s 11 esque style ensemble cast. But the emotional core comes from Franca, daughter of the kind of the pirates, and ward of Mister. Their relationship is cute, if a little cliche. The show does really well in handling it’s moving pieces without ever sacrificing pacing. A solid show all around.

Cons: The entire show revolves around all the character’s journey to Graceland, the location of the treasure. So it’s a bit of a shame that the closer we get to Graceland, the less interesting some of the stories become. The first four episodes are really great. They have a prison escape, a noir parenting story, a church shot out, and a high tech robbery. Top notch stuff that establishes the history of these characters. The last eight episodes aren’t as exciting, mostly because the have to focus on the race to Graceland. It also doesn’t help that the robot assassins aren’t allowed to kill the main characters for story reasons, nor the fact that two of the five main characters never get proper backstories. We never really learn where Bishop or Katana are from, or what their motivations are. Ditto with Marciano. She drops hint in her last battle, and Mister speculates, but there was more there that we should have been given.

Watch it: A pleasant surprise (4/5)

MVP: Mister

Our love is true!

Best Episode: Ep. 1 “Prison Break” (exactly what it sounds like)

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Tekkonkinkreet

Type: Street Rats. Well, Street Cats technically.

Synopsis: It’s basically about orphans beating up gangsters.

Pros: Well, there’s like more to it, but yeah. There are two orphans, Kuro and Shiro (black and white). They get into trouble with some Yakuza, and Kuro gets targeted by assassins. For his own good, Shiro is sent with the cops for protective custody, which throws off their whole Ying-Yang/Co-Dependent relationship. This gets explored in their senses of reality being distorted and what not. Real emotional stuff handled well via animation. Outside of this, we get spliced-in stories of life in an inner city. Frought with crime, tragedy, and a never ending cycle of violence. Kinda like if Elvis’s In the Ghetto was an anime. Though I do appreciate the more street level urban story.

Cons: It can get kinda messy. There is a lot of imagery thrown at you, and you may not get the significance of it all. That’s not me being pretentious. I don’t what half the weird stuff I saw meant! The cuts between the Kuro/Shiro plot and the Yakuza plot can be a bit confusing. And like a lot of anime movies, some of it’s scenes hang around a little longer than they should for the sake of “mood.” There also not a “happy ending” resolution to the stories. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that, but Kuro/Shiro are basically in the same boat they were in at the start. You could argue that because of certain actions in the film, they’re home free, but are they? Who knows. The whole film is a very “International Anime” film, if you catch my drift. It’s not solidly Japanese (hell, the director was American). It’s made to appeal to a broad audience of film buffs. It’s more of a “Film” than a “movie.” Of at least it wants to be.

Watch it: Pretty nifty story about children beating up adults.

MVP: Kuro

Angry. Angry young man.

Best Moment: Kuro flying out of the sky (for some reason).

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xxxHolic

Type: A lot more lore than you think

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Synopsis: A boy named Watanuki visits a mysterious magic shop to because he attracts spirits. The owner of the shop, Yuko, agrees to help him in-exchange for becoming the shop’s part time cook/butler/errand boy. This sounds like a good deal, except for the fact that Yuko constantly sends him on supernatural-related missions Personally, I think Yuko is swindling the kid, but maybe it’s all just a coincidence…

Pros: The anime functions on a case-of-the-week story structure. Every episode deals the Watanuki and Yuko “helping” someone with a minor problem, like being a compulsive liar, or having an internet addiction. Something these people should really be going to a mental health clinic for, not a magic shop. And while these clients sometimes do have a spirit hanging around them, a lot of times it’s because the spirits were attracted to their negativity. They generally aren’t the cause of it. As such, Yuko often had to deal with the person’s personal issues rather an exorcise any evil spirits. The show had good characters to deal with these stories. Yuko is enigmatic and wise, but also lazy with a witty sense of humor. Watanuki is loud and complains a lot, but he’s generally a kind soul. These characters make the show’s predictable pace interesting to watch, and are the real reason to watch the show. (p.s. I’m not super cray about the lanky character designs, but Yuko’s outfits are always on point).

Cons: As with any case-of-the-week anthology show, things get boring and repetitive fast. Every week, some specifically female customer comes in, goes into self-denial over the problem they came to fix, and then Yuko fixes that problem. I actually found myself skipping through a lot of these episodes. And there were a few times when it even felt like a chore to watch the show. This season also has no real ending. It just ends. The only saving grace from the monotony of these episodes are the spotlight episodes with Watanuki and Domeki. The show has a running joke that Wataniki hates Domeki because he’s madly jealous at his popularity, but Yuko keeps finding ways to put them together because Domeki can repel spirits, and thus protect Watanuki. The two make a good comedic pair, with Domeki’s stoic personality contrasting well with Wataniki’s high-strung reactions. Now, the show does have one weird caveat: xxxHolic is actually part of a larger shared universe created by CLAMP, the all female writing group. This CLAMPaverse also includes Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles, Card Capture Sakura, and sometimes Blood C. From what I gather, you don’t really need to watch any of these to enjoy xxxHolic, but Tsubasa at least apparently helps.

Watch it?: It’s boring  (2/5)

MVP: Watanuki

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Complain, complain, complain….

Best Episode: Ep.19 “Unreasonable” (a fun episode! snowball fights!)

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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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