Anime Reviews

The following reviews cover the anime movies and series that I have seen and generally liked for various reasons. I have seen much more anime than I have listed here. Not everything I watch merits an entry, but these are the series/movies that I think other people should check out. Check back often as this site will be constantly updated.

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last updated: 24/Aug/11

Last five entries:
The Animatrix - added 24/Aug/11
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion - added 12/Jul/11
Sword of the Stranger - added 24/May/11
Eden of the East: Paradise Lost - added 09/Feb/11
Eden of the East: The King of Eden - added 03/Jan/11

Ah! My Goddess

Ah! My Goddess


Name Variant: Aa! Megami-sama
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Ah! My Goddess Go to the AniDB article for Ah! My Goddess See a YouTube clip for Ah! My Goddess
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 26
Tags: angst, comedy, ecchi, harem, magic, romance, slice of life
Date Added: 04/Feb/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 8
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 7.40/10

Description: A full-fledged season of the popular manga that explores the Ah My Goddess universe much further than the OVA, covering a great deal of the content presented in the manga. Keiichi is a down on his luck college student who never catches a break. Due to his extreme bad luck, he gets a visit from the Goddess Assistance Agency, in the form of the beautiful Belldandy, who grants him one wish to help compensate for this poor luck. Thinking that this is some sort of practical joke from his sen-pais, Keiichi impulsively wishes that he could have a goddess like Belldandy stay with him forever. To their mutual surprise, this wish is granted, and the remainder of the series explores the relationship between the pair, and how they never quite seem to get together without someone getting in the way.

Review: This light romantic comedy is technically harem without really being harem. Although several women, most of them quite attractive, surround Keiichi at every turn, he only has eyes for Belldandy. Despite his usual disposition at being very trepidacious in matters of the heart, he knows that he loves Belldandy and tries to find ways to let her know that. Eventually Belldandy's two sisters Urd and Skuld show up. Urd keeps trying to get the pair together and Skuld keeps trying to tear them apart. Despite all of their mutual interference, Keiichi and Belldandy manage to grow closer together eventually coming to a more permanent relationship.

This series is much better than the original, in that it explores all of the characters much more and introduces a lot more back-story. There is already a second season complete that I will be reviewing soon. Although I am not a huge fan of harem by default, I like this one because Keiichi does have any romantic feelings for any other girl but his goddess. Although the plot device of Belldandy being naive is required to drive some episodes, I find it hard to fathom that she does not understand some of the nuances of everyday life and relationships after spending a significant portion of time on earth. Aside from that, the anime delivers as a romantic comedy and there are almost no cringe-worthy moments. I recommend this series to anyone looking for a romantic spin to a light comedy. (top)






Ah! My Goddess - Fighting Wings

Ah! My Goddess - Fighting Wings


Name Variant: Aa! Megami-sama: Tatakau Tsubasa
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Ah! My Goddess - Fighting Wings Go to the AniDB article for Ah! My Goddess - Fighting Wings See a YouTube clip for Ah! My Goddess - Fighting Wings
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 2
Tags: action, fantasy, magic
Date Added: 16/Feb/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 7
Plot: 9
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 7.60/10

Description: A 2-episode 20th anniversary commemorative OVA that gives serious screen time to Lind, the Valkyrie. After a being that captures angels, known as an angel eater, rips through part of heaven, Lind comes to Keiichi and the goddesses to help protect them from this new threat. Soon enough the threat is revealed as Hild makes her entrance with chaos ensuing.

Review: The goddesses are fighting the most powerful evil in the universe, who has come to tip the balance in favor of hell. Only by banding together can they stop this new wave of evil - GO TEAM! Although the concepts used in the OVA are a little overdone in general, the execution was very good. The plot was interesting, and how they introduced some of the surprises was pleasing. This had almost nothing to do with relationships of goddesses and Keiichi, but more just a great action piece. I welcome any additional content that the studio wants to put out if they turn out as well as this one. I recommend you watch all of the other media before getting this one, but it is a welcome addition to all AMG fans. (top)






Ah! My Goddess - Flights of Fancy

Ah! My Goddess - Flights of Fancy


Name Variant: Aa! Megami-sama: Sorezore no Tsubasa
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Ah! My Goddess - Flights of Fancy Go to the AniDB article for Ah! My Goddess - Flights of Fancy See a YouTube clip for Ah! My Goddess - Flights of Fancy
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 22
Tags: comedy, ecchi, fantasy, harem, magic, romance, slice of life
Date Added: 16/Feb/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 9
Plot: 6
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 7.20/10

Description: A continuation of the lives of Keiichi and Belldandy, this series puts even more manga content to animation for your viewing pleasure. Several new characters are introduced, including Hild (Urd's demon mother), Peorth (a rival of Belldandy's), and Troubador (a former lover of Urd). Although the series is still a different kind of harem, there is much more fan service in this episode, with Keiichi being put into even more impossible scenarios with the various women in his life. However, true to form he only has eyes for Belldandy, at least, when magic doesn't get in the way.

Review: This series focuses more on the backgrounds of the various characters, explaining them all in much greater depth. Additionally, Belldandy shows a more human side experiencing jealousy and serious amounts of doubt for the first time. Although many other people get the limelight in this series, the focus is still almost exclusively on the relationship between Keiichi and Belldandy.

I know that the series requires some type of tension between Keiichi and Belldandy for this series to keep several plot points alive, but the idea that Keiichi has not kissed or told Belldandy that he loves her since the beginning of the first series seems trite, even for me. That said those who enjoyed the first series would definitely find this one entertaining. In addition, there is more fan service. :)

The best part of the series for me was the latter half that included Hild, as she added some very real spice to things. Even though the goddesses in this series are more Greek in nature (like humans only with serious power), I still have a few issues with how some of these characters go after Belldandy and Keiichi. The more interesting pieces for me were the tricks Hild used to try to corrupt the goddesses or destroy them through Keiichi. The attached video link in YouTube is very well done and captures some of the context of the series in that regard. Animation is similar from previous series, but due to the background development, I rate this more highly than others in the set... a nice addition. (top)






Ah! My Goddess - The Movie

Ah! My Goddess - The Movie


Name Variant: Gekijouban Aa! Megami-sama!
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Ah! My Goddess - The Movie Go to the AniDB article for Ah! My Goddess - The Movie See a YouTube clip for Ah! My Goddess - The Movie
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, fantasy, magic, romance
Date Added: 15/Jan/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 8
Character Development: 6
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 7.20/10

Description: This is the movie version of the general series. A being named Celestin, who was banished from heaven and trapped in the lunar prison, is freed by his minion and he goes to earth in search of Belldandy. As her old mentor he is held in a special place in her heart. Keichi and Belldandy welcome him without knowing of his past and he moves to take Belldandy away from Keichi with some success by infecting her with a virus. As a result of this virus Belldandy infects heaven's control systems to which she is still connected and develops selective amnesia. All of this is part of some deeper plot on Celestin's part to remake the world after this own corrupt heart. Keichi and Belldandy's sisters race against time to counter Celestin and save Belldandy before it's too late.

Review: The animation is significantly better in the movie than in the OVA and series. Heaven is a scary place in this one, and lots of odd things can happen there, but the Japanese were never ones to have everything make sense. The concept of infecting a heavenly computer control system via a virus is an interesting one, though how this got past the inevitable firewalls is a mystery to me. You think heaven would have better security! Putting that aside, the interactions here are fairly believable considering the circumstances, and the character depth is decent for a movie. I highly recommend watching the series or OVA first. A great movie to add to your collection, more so if you're a fan of the original episodes. (top)






Akira

Akira


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Akira Go to the AniDB article for Akira See a YouTube clip for Akira
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, angst, horror, mature, sci-fi, thriller
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 9
Character Development: 8
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 7.80/10

Description: one of the pioneering animation movies of the 80s. The amount of details put into this piece at the time was staggering. By today's standards the animation wouldn't necessarily be top notch, but it's still good. It takes place in 2020 or somewhere in the future and focuses on some kids in a motorcycle gang who get caught up in some government scientific hoo hah. Weird crap happens on a regular basis, but one kid, Tetsuo (IIRC) gets captured by the government and changed somehow. He can't control what's happening to him and goes berserk, escapes his government captors, and lots of people die. Eventually he gets confronted by his old friend, Kaneda, and the final confrontation goes down.

Review: The show itself is a little trippy, violent at times, but it is a must see as it is a defining film in animation. While you might not find the computer game Wolfenstein (the original from the early 90s) to be that ground shattering today, it revolutionized gaming. What Wolfenstein did for FPS, Akira did for anime. It set the bar that so many others had to follow. Go out and see it. Animation grade A. Rated R in the states. Good English dubs are available. (top)






Appleseed: Ex Machina

Appleseed: Ex Machina


Name Variant: Appleseed Saga Ex Machina
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Appleseed: Ex Machina Go to the AniDB article for Appleseed: Ex Machina See a YouTube clip for Appleseed: Ex Machina
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, sci-fi, thriller
Date Added: 16/Apr/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 5
Plot: 6
Sound/Music: 5
X-Factor: 5

OVERALL SCORE: 5.60/10

Description: A follow-on to the original Appleseed movie, based upon the manga by Masmune Shirow, an amazing artist. On the original movie I was fooled by the awesome cover art, only to be disappointed by the mediocre movie. This time around they made the entire thing CG and released it in BluRay. The story is set in the future where corporations are the predominant global powers and suit-enhanced soldiers provide protection to the masses following a recent cease-fire to a global war. Cyborg augmentation is normal and technological advances are truly astonishing. A rogue group is perpetuating a spate of terrorist attacks in pursuit of some unknown goal, and the squad you follow are responsible for not only keeping order, but also getting to the bottom of what's going on.

Review: Mostly a long ride of non-stop action, the animation is fairly well done, if you can get past the fact that it's CG. I'm still not at a point where I think that CG can do it better than hand-drawn, but some of the things they did here were nice. Animation is grade B+. The dialog is decent, but you're not going to watch this movie for some deep philosophical reason. You're watching it for the action, and on that point it delivers. (top)






Armitage III - Poly Matrix

Armitage III - Poly Matrix


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Armitage III - Poly Matrix Go to the AniDB article for Armitage III - Poly Matrix See a YouTube clip for Armitage III - Poly Matrix
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, mature, sci-fi, thriller
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 6
Character Development: 7
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 5
X-Factor: 6

OVERALL SCORE: 6.20/10

Description: One of the first anime movies that I saw. The polymatrix is a combination of the various Armitage III mini-movies (3-4 in all). Keiffer Sutherland plays the voice of the male lead detective. A group of people have been brazenly going around Mars murdering well known celebrities from various fields. However, to everyone's shock, the people getting murdered are really all enhanced androids and not even human at all. This causes a mixed reaction from the public as they don't want senseless killings, but androids don't have any rights per se. Keiffer teams up with a new partner (his last being killed by a rogue android) named Armitage, to track down those responsible and bring to light their motivation for these killings, which soon extend to more than just taking out Androids. Ultimately this will lead to a conclusion that will shock the planet to its core.

Review: 15 and up in viewing age as it is graphic, but not gratuitously so. Animation is fair, story is good, and it comes to a real conclusion. If you like Sci-Fi, robots have feelings too, and lots of fighting, then this one is for you. It is not as amazing a movie now as when it first came out in the mid '90s, but if you want a good sci-fi yarn, check it out. (top)






Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar: The Last Airbender


Name Variant: Avatar: The Legend of Aang
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Avatar: The Last Airbender See a YouTube clip for Avatar: The Last Airbender
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 3
Episode Count: 61
Tags: action, adventure, comedy, fantasy, magic, martial arts
Date Added: 01/Oct/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 6
Character Development: 8
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 6

OVERALL SCORE: 7.00/10

Description: This series is completed with 3 seasons, broken up over some 62 episodes. In the world in question there are 4 main tribes of people, each with mastery over a separate element, namely: air, earth, fire, and water. Each person of the tribe who can use magic (bend) is known as a bender, thus firebender, airbender, waterbender, etc. The fire nation decided to dominate the others and waged war. The avatar is a unique individual that has mastery over all 4 elements. When he was needed most to stop the fire nation's dreadful march, he disappeared. The series picks up 100 years into the great war with the re-emergence of the avatar in the polar caps. The avatar came from the airbending nation, which has since been completely destroyed by the fire nation. The avatar was, unfortunately, very young when he disappeared and had yet to learn much beyond airbending when he was encased in ice. Now that he has been rediscovered, it is a race against time to see if he can not only find a teacher from each of the elements, but also to master each element before the fire nation will have advanced too far to be stopped. The water and earth tribes are still fighting, but losing ground. Throw in to the mix some fire nation people who are hunting the avatar at every turn, and people in positions of power who would seek to use the avatar for their own person gain, and you have multiple avenues for subplot and subterfuge.

Review: Although this airs on Nickelodeon, and is targeted at a younger audience, it is a tremendously good series and worthy of anyone looking at it. It is in English and has good quality voice actors. The drawing is pretty good and the plots are also well thought out. Although there is an occasional throw back to inanity, the series consistently delivers quality episodes and encapsulates the frustration of adolescents trying to be adults in a world that will only see them as children. The ending was not too quick, and had a pleasant amount of tidying up that allowed the fans to see closure on a number of areas that had been left vague for a long time. The entire family enjoyed it. (top)






Black Heaven

Black Heaven


Name Variant: Kachou Ouji: Hard Rock Save the Space
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Black Heaven Go to the AniDB article for Black Heaven See a YouTube clip for Black Heaven
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 13
Tags: sci-fi
Date Added: 22/Jan/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 6
Character Development: 5
Plot: 4
Sound/Music: 8
X-Factor: 6

OVERALL SCORE: 5.80/10

Description: Oji Tanaka is a former heavy metal rocker who has landed himself in a deadand job and marriage. Ten years ago he was the lead guitarist in a popular band known as "Black Heaven." Fate hasn't been kind to this rocker of yesterday, but he gets a surprise when a new lady at work asks him to play his guitar again for the fate of the universe.

Review: My desire to see this anime was based upon an excellent AMV called Code Monkey, which won the Anime Expo 2007 AMV contest as best in show. The plot is pretty thin, but Oji is told that his sound is the key to powering a superweapon that will help one group of aliens defeat another. Although we never get to see the other race, we are lead to believe that they are evil (probably communist too) and should they win, the earth will eventually be destroyed. The aliens can reproduce the sound that Oji can make, but they can't get the same response out of the superweapon that he can.

The series itself has okay animation, but the sound is pretty cool. There are a few great guitar solos, but nothing that I would call amazing. There are some funny moments, but I wouldn't call it a comedy. It's definitely different and worth picking up for a weekend blitz. (top)






Bleach

Bleach


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Bleach Go to the AniDB article for Bleach See a YouTube clip for Bleach
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 11
Episode Count: 220
Tags: action, magic, martial arts, school life
Date Added: 29/May/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 9
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 9
X-Factor: 6

OVERALL SCORE: 7.80/10

Description: The story follows a group of teenagers who can see things from the spiritual world. Initially we follow the exploits of one Ichigo, a 15 yr old boy, who has been able to see dead people since an accident which resulted in the death of his mother. Ichigo meets a Death God (Shinegami) named Rukia who is responsible for sending the souls of the deceased to their proper resting place (heaven/hell). There are creatures, called hollows, which seek to consume the souls of men before the Death Gods can send them home. Rukia is chasing a particularly nasty hollow and gets damaged to the point where she can't fight. She and Ichigo strike a deal where he will take part of her powers to defeat the Hollow and save his life, and that of his family. However, instead of just taking part of Rukia's powers, he somehow takes them all. After defeating the hollow, Rukia forces Ichigo to carry on the work of being a Death God, even when it isn't convenient to his school and social life. After meeting the main principles in season 1, a story arc develops in which ruling Death Gods from a place called Soul Society decide that Rukia is breaking law by granting her powers to a human, punishable by death. Ichigo is defeated in battle and Rukia is taken home to be tried and executed. An outcast Death God and his crew help prepare Ichigo and some of his spirit-capable friends of getting ready to go to Soul Society and rescue Rukia. Throw in some intrigue, murder, and serious plot twists, and you have a drama with light moments that takes 4 seasons to play out.

The plot continues after the rescue, and goes into an area including some beings called Bounts, followed by the Arrancar.

Review: 11 Mar 2008: At least 10 seasons of this series have been made so far. I watched up through season 4 and some into 5 before I lost interest. So far as I can tell, the series should have ended after the completion of the main story arc surrounding Soul Society and the rescue of the girl, Rukia at the end of season 4. To be clear this series was very good through that story arc. It made you want to keep watching "just one more." The characters are memorable and the story arc very interesting. Once the main arc completes, stop watching. Seriously. Do yourself a favor. Let your memories of the series be good. =) Animation grade B, music grade A-. Good 4 seasons worth watching.

29 May 2009 update: I am almost done with season 10 of Bleach. I decided to go back and give it another chance, and watch it with the family this time. The kids and wife have loved it, and to be honest, the only poor part of the series is where I stopped watching last time. The episodes with the Bount are the weakest of the set and kind of boring/lame, but if you can bear with it, the series really gets interesting afterwards with the arrival of the Arrancar. I heartily recommend the series to anyone. Additionally, I have upgraded my overall ratings on the series, as the character development is very good, as well as the music quality. You will notice after watching the series a bit that they use musical cues repeatedly to help heighten tension and further plot and they have done an excellent job of it throughout. (top)






BLEACH: Fade to Black

BLEACH: Fade to Black


Name Variant: Gekijouban Bleach: Fade to Black Kimi no Na o Yobu
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for BLEACH: Fade to Black Go to the AniDB article for BLEACH: Fade to Black See a YouTube clip for BLEACH: Fade to Black
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, fantasy, magic, martial arts, thriller
Date Added: 10/Oct/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 9
Character Development: 7
Plot: 9
Sound/Music: 8
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 8.20/10

Description: This is the third movie in the Bleach franchise. A mysterious pair of powerful figures infiltrates soul society and steals a new invention from the technological bureau that causes untold havoc. In the process they manage to rip away the memories of both captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi and Kuchiki Rukia. As a result the memory of Rukia is ripped away from everyone but Ichigo and Kon. Ichigo is also forgotten by everyone else. Now he goes back to Soul Society to discover what happened to Rukia, all the while dodging everyone who used to be his friend. His discovery, with the help of a few he has managed to convince, leads Soul Society to the very brink.

Review: I would not recommend this movie to anyone who is not familiar with the series, as it assumes a wide canon of knowledge prior to the start. The movie, for fans however, is quite good. The animation is a step above the normal series and provides a detailed plot through its 1 hr 30 min run time. There were several plot holes, which I won't mention here, that require a bit of a leap of faith to make, but overall the action is pretty good. Due to everyone forgetting Ichigo, he is branded an enemy who should be apprehended. As a result you get to see some new fight pairings you would never see otherwise. However, unlike the first few episodes of the series, Ichigo now has bankai and hollow powers, meaning that he can regularly kicks ass. Of worthy note you get to see a lot more of Kisuke Urahara, including him actually picking up a sword to fight, as well as some Yoruichi action.

The usual cast of regular characters appears, even though some of them didn't do much more than say one line. While this added some level of comfort, it wasn't strictly necessary. I am still up in the air on how this movie compares to the second, but it is leaps and bounds above the first. I heartily recommend it to any fan. (top)






Bleach: Memories of Nobody

Bleach: Memories of Nobody


Name Variant: Gekijouban Bleach: Memories of Nobody
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Bleach: Memories of Nobody Go to the AniDB article for Bleach: Memories of Nobody See a YouTube clip for Bleach: Memories of Nobody
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, fantasy, magic, martial arts
Date Added: 10/Sep/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 9
Character Development: 6
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 7.40/10

Description: This is the first movie in the Bleach franchise. The story goes that between the worlds of human existence and the spirit world of the shinigami, there is a dead space. This is the place that Ichigo and the rest had to pass through whenever they went to the spirit world. As the reincarnation of souls between the two worlds takes place, occasionally a soul would get lost or separated from the rest of the pack. Over time those souls would gather together and form a pocket of existence known as the Valley of Sorrows. The souls and their memories would be separated. A larger valley than normal has appeared and threatens to connect the two worlds together with disastrous consequences. Ichigo and the other shinigami try to sort out how to stop, all while dealing with the discovery of a new shinigami, Senna, and the mysterious group of outsiders who are chasing her.

Review: The movie doesn't take any time to do any background on any of the characters, so it assumes that you have been well versed in the show itself. This movie takes place prior to the arrancar story arc. Overall the plot was interesting, if not slightly complicated in some areas. However, it had the feeling of a really long episode. It clocked in at almost exactly 1:30. The fight scenes were pretty well done, and the animation was better than the regular series. I saw it in HD, so I don't know how the regular DVD version compares. Ichigo and Senna had developed a bit of a relationship by the end of the movie, and the chemistry was decidedly different from what he has with Rukia and/or Orihime. I would recommend the movie only if you've seen the series. It made for a great side adventure while you're waiting on more regular Bleach episodes to become available. (top)






Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion

Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion


Name Variant: Gekijouban Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion Mouhitotsu no Hyourinmaru
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion Go to the AniDB article for Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion See a YouTube clip for Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, drama, fantasy, magic, martial arts
Date Added: 18/Sep/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 8
Character Development: 9
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 7.80/10

Description: This is the second Bleach movie. Captain Hitsugaya and 10th squad have been assigned to protect the King's Seal in its movement from one place to another. Along the way the caravan is attacked and the King's Seal is stolen. Captain Hitsugaya is defeated and goes off on his own to recover the missing artifact. Due to his absence and disobeying a direct order to return, he is assumed complicit in the plot to steal the device and is branded a traitor. The entire 10th squad is stripped of their weapons and laid to house arrest as the rest of Soul Society hunts the former captain. Ichigo and his friends are convinced that Hitsugaya is innocent and work to help clear his name. Hitsugaya does not welcome their aid, and actively fights against it. A figure from Hitsugaya's past comes to the fore as a person of extreme interest in the case, leading to an ultimate showdown wherein the true power of the King's Seal is released.

Review: The plot involves a very dark past to the Central 46 and some of their draconian precepts on justice and honor. It is surprising that after all of the "asshattery" of the ruling council it somehow manages to retain a loyal core of shinigami. Sooner or later if these types of shenanigans continue I would not be surprised to see a popular uprising. While in the current plot arc the central 46 have all been killed by Aizen long ago and have not been replaced, I often get the feeling that Soul Society is better off without them.

The animation is better than what is found in the general series, but not overwhelmingly so. The plot was pretty solid and worked like an extra long episode. There was plenty of action and lots of people getting hurt, though as is the general rule, only a few deaths. The story moves along at a good clip and there was nothing that I thought was slow paced or boring. The movie focuses pretty heavily on both Ichigo and Captain Hitsugaya. I would have liked to have seen more action from some of the other captains, and maybe they'll oblige in future movies. I would recommend this movie to anyone who was a fan of the series. I also thought that this movie was better than the first one by a healthy margin. If this trend continues then the upcoming third movie will be a welcome addition indeed. (top)






Blood: The Last Vampire

Blood: The Last Vampire


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Blood: The Last Vampire Go to the AniDB article for Blood: The Last Vampire See a YouTube clip for Blood: The Last Vampire
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, fantasy, horror, mature, thriller
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 10
Character Development: 4
Plot: 10
Sound/Music: 9
X-Factor: 9

OVERALL SCORE: 8.40/10

Description: An outstanding, albeit short piece, about a girl named Saya who you are lead to believe is the last "true" vampire, who goes around chopping people up with swords at the behest of a covert [nameless] USG group. Not just any people mind you, but those who are chiropterans, a creature masquerading as human so that it can feed on human flesh/blood. The story is set at a naval/marine base in Okinawa in the 1990s right around Halloween.

Review: The entire movie is less than an hour long and is based upon manga of the same name. The manga is disturbing and not recommended for those with weak stomachs. The movie, while tinged with varying shades of violence, is PG13 at worst. Who is Saya? Why does she work for Uncle Sugar? And why does she have to kill those things with swords? Some of those questions are answered in this film, while others require delving into a "follow-on" precursor series called "Blood", going into Saya's background. The movie's action is gripping, the dialogue is tight, and the animation/sound is excellent. A very worthy piece to add to your collection. (top)






Blue Drop

Blue Drop


Name Variant: Blue Drop: Tenshi-tachi no Gikyoku
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Blue Drop Go to the AniDB article for Blue Drop See a YouTube clip for Blue Drop
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 13
Tags: action, school life, sci-fi
Date Added: 18/Sep/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 6
Plot: 6
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 6

OVERALL SCORE: 6.20/10

Description: A girl who has been brought up in a nurturing environment by her grandmother is suddenly thrust from home and forced to go to an all-girls academy to finish her education. Hurt and resentful, she comes to eventually befriend several of the people there, but not without some serious hurdles along the way. In the backdrop is that her parents were killed on an island along with everyone else, except for this little girl. What she didn't know is that a precursor recon team for an alien invasion had a mishap there and an incident caused everyone's death. This girl was the lone survivor and the captain of that mission is posing as a girl at that school, interested in finding out more about this girl. Incidentally, she's the most popular girl there and our human heroine instantly dislikes her. Their interaction is the main subject matter of the entire series, culminating in the inevitable attack on the human homeworld.

Review: 13-episode series that highlights the unintentional relationships that can form and complicate our lives. The series was based on a manga that took place 1,000 yrs after mankind had been conquered and focused on a rebel military leader who decided to fight the "man". The entire alien race is female and although the concept of love is broached, it holds a minor component of the series and is never more than suggestive. Rated PG, good animation, decent music, and a viable story line. I was surprised by the ending, but still recommend it. (top)






Claymore

Claymore


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Claymore Go to the AniDB article for Claymore See a YouTube clip for Claymore
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 26
Tags: action, fantasy, horror, mature
Date Added: 02/May/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 6
Character Development: 9
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 5
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 7.20/10

Description: This series is based upon a manga of the same name, and takes directly from the first 11 episodes of the manga before coming up with their own ending in the last two episodes. In the past demons that ate human guts, called Yoma, began living among humans. They were able to take on human form and were far superior in speed and strength, making humans incapable of dealing with them. A group that came to be known as Claymore rose to fill this need. Through some mysterious process females are made into half-human/half-Yoma creatures. They use their mental prowess to suppress their Yoma side, but call upon it to match the strength and speed of the creatures they fight. If they call on it too much, or take too much damage while calling on too much of this power, they can cross over to the other side. These "silver-eyed witches" are the only possible hope for humankind, but are on the edge of humanity themselves.

The series focuses primarily on a single Claymore, Clare, and her interactions with a human boy called Raki, and other Claymore fighters. After finally bonding with this boy, they are separated by fate, and Clare learns some nefarious things about the world and her own organization. At the same time, a war is coming, and the Claymores are mere pawns in a game of chaos.

Review: The animators appear to be Korean and they took some obvious short cuts with animation and music/sound. However, the plot is good and the story draws you in after a few opening episodes to set the scene. The struggle within the various Claymores to retain control and survive is fairly well done. At first, you are left with the impression that all Claymores behave a certain way, but after you get to interact with many others in the organization, you see that they have a wide variety of personalities.

There were several moments within the series that took unexpected turns that were surprising, if not downright shocking. This only added to the depth of the series and made me want to watch some more to see what would happen next. I found the plot to be very engaging and look forward to a follow-on season.

The series itself is adult-oriented. It's not hard core violent but there is plenty of blood and nastiness. There is almost no sexuality, the animation is weak in some areas, but compensates well enough in others. The series has battles from top to bottom, and they flow well. Something that you are forced to reckon with is that there is always someone stronger. I heartily recommend this series to anyone who likes action and fighting anime. (top)






Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion


Name Variant: Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Go to the AniDB article for Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion See a YouTube clip for Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 25
Tags: action, drama, mecha, sci-fi
Date Added: 12/Jul/11

DP Ratings

Animation: 8
Character Development: 9
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 9

OVERALL SCORE: 8.20/10

Description: The series takes place in an alternate future in which a large portion of the world has been conquered by the Britannian Empire, to include Japan. The Britannian Empire's main weapon in this quest for global domination is a mobile mechanized unit known as a Knightmare Frame. The main character, Lelouch, is a prince of the Britannian royal line that was sent to Japan, along with his sister, after his mother was murdered. His true identity unknown to virtually all of those around him, Lelouch spends his time as an idle youth in a private academy until he comes across the mysterious girl C.C. who provides him with an extraordinary power, known as Geass. This power allows him to mentally dominate anyone to follow a single order, regardless of the consequences, provided he can make eye contact. Once the order has been fulfilled the person is released from the power and can never be held with Geass again. The story follows Lelouch's quest to uncover who killed his mother, with the backdrop of Japanese rebellion against the Britannian Empire.

Review: The series is interesting from a mecah point of view. Most mecha anime series are ho hum, but this one is different. Although a significant amount of fighting does take place, this series does not succumb to the plot twists of most mecha series with the one enigmatic bad guy vs. the one enigmatic good guy who are destined to fight for forever but can't quite determine who wins until 565 episodes have gone past. The focus of this series is on the complex character interactions between the main and supporting characters. On this front the series delivers very well. The story could work just as well without the mecha component of it, which, I think, is one of the reasons why the series succeeds so well. The character development is very good and you can see the struggle of friend against friend and the descent of the main character into madness. The series itself has at least one more season which I have not yet seen at this point, but the end of the first season is a definite cliff hanger that provides few answers, requiring a delving into the second season to get closure (we assume). All in all this series is enjoyable and breaks from several common anime tropes to deliver a great performance. Worth a watch especially if you like mecha series. (top)






Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Cowboy Bebop Go to the AniDB article for Cowboy Bebop See a YouTube clip for Cowboy Bebop
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 26
Tags: action, sci-fi
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 8
Character Development: 9
Plot: 9
Sound/Music: 10
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 8.80/10

Description: The story follows a few bounty hunters, known as cowboys, as they gallivant across the galaxy running down bounties on fugitives in their spaceship, the Bebop.

Review: perhaps one of THE best series out there. This is my current standard that the wife and I compare all anime series to, until another takes its place. That stands for music, character development, and plot, but not animation. Although the animation is better than most, it's not breathtaking.

The background music is decidely jazz in nature and the animation is grade A-. Most of the time the series is very, very good. The story is compelling, and, barring a few episodes of randomness, it lives faithful to a good story arc. There is great character development and you get a sense of what the characters think and feel as the people seem to be very 3-dimensional. Not for the faint of heart, there is violence and blood. People die regularly, though not in an overtly graphic manner. The English dubs are decent, but the subtitles are where it's at. The series had so many quality episodes that it's hard to name a single favorite, although the ones with encounters between Spike and Vicious have to be my favorites. This one ends very well, and is great from start to finish. Although there were some episodes that were weaker than others, I didn't ever have an episode I didn't like. There was also a movie made (see below), which was very good as well. If you like jazzy music, space travel, and gun battles, this is definitely the series for you. I still listen to some of the tunes from the show. I own the entire collection. 26 episodes (top)






Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door

Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door


Name Variant: Cowboy Bebop - Tengoku no Tobira
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door Go to the AniDB article for Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door See a YouTube clip for Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, mature, sci-fi, thriller
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 9
Character Development: 7
Plot: 9
Sound/Music: 9
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 8.40/10

Description: A mysterious virus is taking hold on people and the bebop crew get their chance at the biggest bounty ever. It's so large that they can't resist. However, things are never what they seem, and some other groups are also involved to set things awry.

Review: This is the movie based upon the series. It takes place sometime before the end of the 26-episode series. The action and music are on par with the best of any episode in the regular series, and the plot is a good one. If you enjoyed the series (how could you not?), then this is a MUST see. The animation, plot, action, everything is just plain awesome. They used a little more violence in this one and I think it got an "R" rating when released in the states, though I don't recall specifically. Go watch it. You won't be disappointed. (top)






Darker Than Black

Darker Than Black


Name Variant: Darker than Black - Kuro no Keiyakusha
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Darker Than Black Go to the AniDB article for Darker Than Black See a YouTube clip for Darker Than Black
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 25
Tags: action, magic, mature, sci-fi
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 8
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 7.40/10

Description: takes place predominantly in Japan some time after 2000. There are a group of individuals known as contractors which have exceptional powers, making them more than normal. Contractors all have some type of unique power that no other contractor has, albeit some may be close with slight variations. These people each have entered into a contract wherein they get certain powers, but have to pay a price to renew their powers. Some are simple as arranging stones in a particular pattern, others are as heinous as drinking children's blood. The more powerful the contractor's power, the more serious the debt price to renew powers. Each contractor is devoid of emotion and are beings of cold logic. This combination of power and lack of moral/emotional response makes them highly sought after by powerful groups and governments worldwide. The anime follows one particularly powerful contractor called BK209. Each contractor's power is tied to a given star. When the contractor is using his power, the star shines brightly. Some contractors are known by their names, others just by their numbers. BK209 has been involved in some very bad things and when his star starts shining over Japan, he is considered the #1 target of a special Japanese task force designed to handle contractors and keep their presence hidden from the general populace.

Review: The plot follows a steady arc to a climactic finale that answers your questions and leaves you wanting more. Plenty of room for a hopeful sequel. Main character development is solid, and although many people die, it is fit for 13+ viewing. Although the contractor powers are fantasy, everything else is modern day equivalent more or less. Some complex relationship issues are handled in a pleasing manner throughout the series. Animation A-/B+, the music was written by the same person responsible for some of Cowboy Bebop's score, though they sound vastly different. Excellent series to pick up. (top)






Darker than Black: Ryuusei no Gemini

Darker than Black: Ryuusei no Gemini


Name Variant: Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Darker than Black: Ryuusei no Gemini Go to the AniDB article for Darker than Black: Ryuusei no Gemini See a YouTube clip for Darker than Black: Ryuusei no Gemini
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 12
Tags: action, magic, mature, sci-fi
Date Added: 04/Jan/10

DP Ratings

Animation: 6
Character Development: 8
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 5

OVERALL SCORE: 6.60/10

Description: The second season of the Darker Than Black franchise. This story follows the conversion of two small children from Russia, Shion and Suou, into contractors and the dogged attempts of multiple organizations to make them their own. We witness the return of Hei, AKA BK-201, Mao, his animal skinned companion, and detective Kirihara who is determined to find Hei no matter what. The story begins in Russia, with the conversion of the two children into contractors. It then follows their travels to Japan and the pursuit by various factions, determined to bring them in.

Review: The series follows the events of the first series only loosely and has no direct bearing with the manga that I could discover. When I first started watching the show I was curious if I was watching the right series, because of how different it was. Although they used the same voice actors for the major characters, it spent some significant time before introducing any of them. Additionally, the animation was of a far inferior quality to the first season. One of the things that made the first season so interesting was the constant introduction of new contractors and their respective abilities. In this season you more or less have the same core group of contractors for the entire 12 episodes, so it wasn't as exciting in that regard, especially since they didn't use their powers that often in comparison.

The introduction of a girl, who is an incomplete contractor, made Hei confused in several regards, but also helped him find himself again. The specifics of what had made Hei become a drunk and somewhat washed-up contractor were only hinted at. Although the series did end and the events made sense, it was not as fulfilling as the first season. It was a decent watch and good for three nights of entertainment. I wanted to see more in several areas, so perhaps a third season will make up for it. If you'd like to see more contractor action and great writing, check out the manga. (top)






Death Note

Death Note


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Death Note Go to the AniDB article for Death Note See a YouTube clip for Death Note
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 37
Tags: horror, magic, mature, thriller
Date Added: 28/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 8
Character Development: 9
Plot: 9
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 10

OVERALL SCORE: 8.40/10

Description: The premise is expertly explained in the first chapter of this 37-episode drama roller coaster. Shinegami, or Death Gods, have a notebook. If you have a face in mind, any human name written inside will die within 40 seconds. The name + face requirement prevents people with the same name dropping over dead just from their name written in the book. If you specify a manner of death, if possible, that will happen as well. A bored death god decides to have some fun and drops a death note on earth. An equally bored genius high school senior finds the note and picks it up. Inside are detailed instructions on how to use the note. Although he thinks it's an elaborate prank at first, after a little experimentation he quickly understands that the note is deadly real. After a brief encounter with the death god, explaining things in fuller detail, the student, Yagami Light, decides to take justice into his own hands and rid the world of criminals by writing their names in his book. With the Internet and news media as his unwitting accomplices, Light journeys down a very dark path and quickly becomes corrupted by the power he wields. After a large number of criminals drop dead of heart attacks, Interpol takes notice and dispatches a legendary detective to hunt down this ruthless murderer.

Review: The series explores the confines of the worlds we create by our actions and is a deadly cat/mouse enterprise. Can the shadow detective keep his face and name hidden long enough to capture this master killer? Or will the killer find him first? The story encompasses three distinct arcs, around a central theme. It is very well written, clever, and kept me guessing until the end. The ending was satisfying and left you with a sense of completeness, if not a little sadness at there being no more episodes to watch. The artwork is pretty good and takes place in present and future Japan (mostly). Animation is grade A-. Music in the series is pretty good, but the opening/closing songs are a little odd. I place this in my top 5 list of all time. Go and get it today! (top)






Devilman Lady

Devilman Lady


Name Variant: The Devil Lady
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Devilman Lady Go to the AniDB article for Devilman Lady See a YouTube clip for Devilman Lady
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 26
Tags: action, ecchi, horror, magic, mature
Date Added: 22/May/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 6
Character Development: 6
Plot: 6
Sound/Music: 5
X-Factor: 5

OVERALL SCORE: 5.60/10

Description: Having partially watched the original horror movie called Devilman I thought I knew what I was getting into with this series, but it was quite different in both plot, scope, and ultimate resolution. The plot takes place in present-day Japan and focuses on one Jun Foudou, a model. Early in the first episode she gets picked up by a mysterious woman named Asuka who tells her some fantastical things regarding herself and forcing her to come face to face with the fact that she is no longer human, but contains a "beast" gene that turns her into a creature that is considered the next phase of human evolution. Beasts are pretty much just that, and become animalistic in the primal sense, but have heightened strength, intelligence, powers, etc. This is basically VERY bad news for us normal humans. Through intimidation, blackmail, and intense pressure, Asuka forces Jun to work as a hunter that seeks out and destroys these menaces to society. Jun is special because she is a Devilman, or someone who has not completely transformed into a beast. Basically she has the powers but has retained her humanity, making her immensely useful, but also able to transform to/from beast form almost at will. The story follows the path of self discovery for Jun as the new powers awaken in her, how she fits in with society, and the reactions of people around her to what's going on. Through in a younger female model friend, some blatant lesbianism, lots of dead people, a group of evil beasts, a government conspiracy, apocalyptic portents, and enough double-crossing to satisfy a mafia don and you have a 26-episode series.

Review: The animation style of the series follows the older model established in the original devilman series/movie. Additionally, the final baddy is similar to the final boss in the Devilman OVA.

As far as horror goes there weren't any moments that scared or even jarred me a little. There were lots of deaths, lots of blood, and a smattering of nudity, but it would have been much scarier if it were live action (apparently it was really toned down from the manga). There were several classic horror movie setups, but it didn't translate as well in the animation. The sexuality (yuri & regular) was more wistful with a few kisses for the most part, with a few exceptions here and there until an implied rape in the final episodes. Animation was grade B+/A-, music somewhat standard, and the plot was satisfying for what it was. Overall I can't place anything about the series that "did it" for me, but I kept watching start to finish doing multiple episodes in a shot until it was finished. I didn't know what to make of it after the first episode, but it drew me in over a few episodes. The ending was not quite what I expected, and there were several questions which went unanswered. If you're looking for something very different from most series, horror or otherwise, worth a viewing. (top)






Eden of the East

Eden of the East


Name Variant: Higashi no Eden
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Eden of the East Go to the AniDB article for Eden of the East See a YouTube clip for Eden of the East
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 11
Episode Count: 1
Tags: action, drama
Date Added: 07/Aug/10

DP Ratings

Animation: 9
Character Development: 8
Plot: 10
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 9

OVERALL SCORE: 8.60/10

Description: The story starts with a Japanese college girl on her senior trip to Washington, D.C. She goes to visit the White House and is confronted by a naked Japanese man, a revolver in one hand, and a curious cell phone in another. This chance meeting sets off a chain of events that guides us through the plot. The mysterious man, Takizawa has no memories, but does have an incredible cell phone. The cell phone is his token to a game, in which he is one of twelve players, trying to become the savior of Japan. Each player is given ?10B and can do virtually anything they want with it, via their magical concierge, Juiz. Each action has an associated cost, and when they run out of money, if they haven't become the saviors of Japan, they are killed. Takizawa has to figure out how the game is played, why he had his memory erased, and not make any missteps before he, or another player, takes himself out of the game.

Review: I wasn't certain what to make of the story based upon the plot, but this was a fantastic series that left you guessing until the end. The animation is brilliant and all of the characters designs were true to life. The plot kept at an excellent pace and the series delivered information to the main character and the reader at the same time, always hoping for a little bit more. The main character isn't certain if he's an international terrorist, the luckiest man on earth, or somewhere in between. The different players in the game, known as selecao, are all unique and have various motivations and ways in which they think that they can make the ideal Japan. There was going to be a second season, but the studios opted to split the series into two movies instead. Do yourself a favor and get this on BluRay today. A must see for any serious anime fan. (top)






Eden of the East: Paradise Lost

Eden of the East: Paradise Lost


Name Variant: Higashi no Eden: Gekijouban II Paradise Lost
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Eden of the East: Paradise Lost Go to the AniDB article for Eden of the East: Paradise Lost See a YouTube clip for Eden of the East: Paradise Lost
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, adventure, drama, thriller
Date Added: 09/Feb/11

DP Ratings

Animation: 9
Character Development: 8
Plot: 9
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 9

OVERALL SCORE: 8.40/10

Description: This is the concluding movie of the second season of Eden of the East, following King of Eden, and brings the entire series into the endgame. After Saki found Akira and they were saved by a former selecao, they return to Japan only to be branded as terrorists with a national net of police attempting to track them down. The remaining selecao do their best to outmaneuver one another and win the game. In the course of wrapping the series up, Akira's relation to the prime minister, the origins of the game itself, and the identity of Mr. Outside are finally revealed.

Review: I felt a greater sense of completeness watching this movie than the previous as a long set of questions were finally put to bed. The writing in this series is very original and I enjoyed the plot twists and reveals along the way. How the selecao were selected was a very interesting component of the story that made sense after understanding who Mr. Outside was. I heartily recommend this movie and the previous be watched back-to-back, and think that the entire collection is a great addition to anyone's personal stock of anime. The characters are believable, drawn in good proportions, and it is a series that deals with adults and adult issues, not whiny teenagers. Well done all around. (top)






Eden of the East: The King of Eden

Eden of the East: The King of Eden


Name Variant: Higashi no Eden: Gekijouban I The King of Eden
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Eden of the East: The King of Eden Go to the AniDB article for Eden of the East: The King of Eden See a YouTube clip for Eden of the East: The King of Eden
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, adventure, drama, romance, thriller
Date Added: 03/Jan/11

DP Ratings

Animation: 9
Character Development: 8
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 8.00/10

Description: Following the success of the original series, the producers of Eden of the East decided to continue the series but do it broken into two movies. This movie follows shortly after the incidents of the series and has Saki go to New York in search of Akira, who has again disappeared. The various selecao still have not given up, and are determined to eliminate others from the game, especially Akira. Some unexpected help keeps Akira and Saki one step ahead of the others as they race to win the game.

Review: This movie is best seen in immediate conjunction with the follow-on movie Paradise Lost. Several puzzle pieces are fit into place nicely with this film, but it leaves yet still more questions unresolved as a result. Juiz, the multi-purpose concierge, is given a definite "face" that is clever and makes immediate sense. The series was excellent and the two movies help bring some closure, but I felt hanging by watching this specific movie, because although it did provide those bonus details, the point where it leaves off is a letdown because you will have to wait for the sequel. I wished that the plot had advanced more in this specific movie, but it is still worthwhile. The animation is of the same excellent quality as previously and the show is suitable for children. (top)






Full Metal Panic!

Full Metal Panic!


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Full Metal Panic! Go to the AniDB article for Full Metal Panic! See a YouTube clip for Full Metal Panic!
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 24
Tags: action, adventure, mecha, school life, sci-fi
Date Added: 11/Feb/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 8
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 7.20/10

Description: three seasons of this excellent series have been released. They are all based off of various portions of the manga. The first season focuses on the serious aspect of the manga. The second series is the lighter side of the manga (called Fomoffu) and the third is a continuation of the first series, and is called Second Raid. The series focuses on an organization known as Mithril. They are a group of "benevolent" mercenaries that work to thwart evil doers on a global scale. Their background is never fully explained. A teenage girl (16... surprise!), named Chidori, is a possessor of black/secret technology and the enemy wants her and the knowledge that she possesses, even though the girl (one of several), doesn't know that she possesses this knowledge. Mithril sends in a group of special operatives to protect her at her school, including a close cover agent named Sagara Souske. Sagara is a sergeant in the group and also happens to be a teenager who grew up on the battlefield. As a result he has no sense of relationships that aren't military in nature, and is paranoid, to the point of scary behavior. Half of the series takes place at school, and the other half takes place on the battle field. The story is in the protection of the girl and the deadly techonlogy she possesses, the kidnap, rescue, and inevitable love interest between the two main teenagers. Mix in this a truly nasty villain, a bunch of mech units, and lots of explosions and dead people and you've got yourself an anime.

Review: 11 Mar 2008: I found that some serious issues were tackled in the series that took the anime plot seriously. While the secret technology ploy is a little trite, if you are willing to overlook that little bit, the rest flows quite naturally. Fomoffu is very light and comedic in nature, and has some truly LOL moments. The second raid is serious all over again, and shows the rehash of several characters. Most of the issues in the series get resolved, and the ending is not whacked out. The first season is better than the last, but you'll watch all three and like it! Animation: B+, Plot: B+, Character interaction: A-.

11 Feb 2010 update: I recently rewatched the series with the family and found that I had made this review a long time ago and that each season of the series warranted its own entry. The series itself has a great plot hook in the beginning, but spends the first 3 episodes setting up the action. Once you hit the fourth episode, things really start to pick up. Once things get going, it's a nonstop ride until the end. It is my current opinion, Gundam fans notwithstanding, that this is one of the better mecha series out there. If you are interested in seeing a mecha series, but not going over the top, then this is definitely the series for you. (top)






Full Metal Panic! OVA

Full Metal Panic! OVA


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Full Metal Panic! OVA See a YouTube clip for Full Metal Panic! OVA
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 1
Tags: comedy, romance, slice of life
Date Added: 12/Mar/10

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 7
Plot: 6
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 6

OVERALL SCORE: 6.40/10

Description: A 30-minute OVA detailing an otherwise peaceful day in dry dock for the Tuatha De Danaan. It focuses almost exclusively on Capt. Testarossa. She wakes up in the command chair of the sub and is unable to remember many of the previous night's activities. As she moves to unravel what happened she encounters the majority of the ship's crew and slowly things start to click into place.

Review: Although t plot was coherent and had some truly funny moments, the OVA seemed to be an excuse for fan service for Capt. Tessie. Everyone gets a little different when they're drunk, and the captain should probably not drink around Mao EVER. She lost one of her teddy bears and went on a search to acquire it. With every new realization of the last night she gets a bit more embarrassed. Finally, near the end of the series she gets enough courage to tell Sagara exactly how she feels about him, but even that doesn't go her way either.

If you were a fan of the original series, then this is a nice fluff piece to keep the dream alive for another season. I thought it was enjoyable and gave you some more insight into the captain, which is a lacking aspect of much of the other three seasons that have already been produced. While most people would agree that Sagara should end up with Kaname if the series ever takes us there, a pairing with the captain wouldn't be a bad thing either. I recommend watching this short segment right after the second raid to help wash away some of the ugly things it made you consider. (top)






Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid

Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid


Name Variant: Full Metal Panic! TSR
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid Go to the AniDB article for Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid See a YouTube clip for Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 12
Tags: action, angst, drama, mecha, sci-fi
Date Added: 09/Mar/10

DP Ratings

Animation: 8
Character Development: 8
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 7.20/10

Description: The Second Raid takes place chronologically after the end of the first FMP series. A new terrorist threat has arisen which is seeking to imbalance the East and Mithril is sent in to take care of business. As the original threat against the whispered is complete, Sagara is given a new assignment and is forced to leave Kaname in pursuit of the larger terrorist threat. This change in mission makes Sagara doubt himself at a critical juncture and leaves his team in peril as a result. Aspects of Sagara's past continue to haunt him until he reaches a fateful decision that will forever change him. A final showdown with the new enemy takes place in China amidst delicate negotiations to prevent a new civil war from erupting.

Review: This series almost got a "mature" tag slapped on it for a few scenes. Although my kids saw it, I would not recommend it for kids in general due to a couple of very violent death scenes. The main antagonist in the series is a mentally unhinged sociopath, and he was portrayed very well. The character development was fairly good, especially for such a short series, for both the bad guys as well as the protagonists. The animation appeared to have improved slightly over the last series as well. I think that this was a very worthy successor to the original series, and as the manga content is still ongoing there will likely be a true third season at some point.

In general the plot was good enough to string along a series of action sequences, but managed to not be bothersome at all. The part of the series that seemed to shine for me was in the self examination, loathing, and final acceptance of Sagara himself. He went through a series of emotions and was getting closer to being honest with himself across the board, but he's still not fully able to deal with things. He's a deeply flawed character, who still needs to speak his mind and understand the feelings of others, but he's believable, and I like that. If he were always on top of his game I don't know if others would ever have a chance. (top)






Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu


Name Variant: Fullmetal Panic? Fumoffu
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu Go to the AniDB article for Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu See a YouTube clip for Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 17
Tags: action, comedy, ecchi, romance, school life, sci-fi, slice of life
Date Added: 22/Feb/10

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 7
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 7.00/10

Description: FMP: Fumoffu is a light-hearted section of the series that contains all of the comedic/silly bits from the manga. The interaction between the various characters is in line with the Three Stooges, for violence that doesn't cause harm. If you liked the first season, then this is a short comedic break in between the two serious episodes. Although everything found in the series is spawned from the manga, nothing that takes place in this portion is "canon."

Review: In order to understand all of the nuances, this should be watched after the first season, however, the comedy value is high enough without having the original series as a precursor, you just won't have as much invested in the various characters. Although the series has 17 episodes, several of them are 2-part segment shorts within a single 22 min "episode." As such some of the episode/stories are far shorter than a traditional episode. There is nothing serious about this entire season, but it is very entertaining. I am not normally a fan of comedy anime, but this series is an exception. A definite must for any fan. (top)






Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist


Name Variant: Hagane no Renkinjutsushi
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Fullmetal Alchemist Go to the AniDB article for Fullmetal Alchemist See a YouTube clip for Fullmetal Alchemist
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 2
Episode Count: 51
Tags: action, fantasy, magic
Date Added: 06/Nov/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 9
Plot: 9
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 7.80/10

Description: this anime comprises 51 episodes over two seasons. It chronicles the lives of two brothers who are pursuing alchemy as a way to solve their problems. Unlike most children, these two are prodigies. Following the absence of their father and subsequent death of their mother, these two precocious children take it upon themselves to learn the sercrets of human transmutation, a forbidden lore, to bring back their mother. What they bring back is not recognizable and ends in tragedy. Their attempts leave one brother without and arm and leg, and the other without his body, required to live his life as a spirit attached to a suit of armor. Not to be daunted by this setback, the two embark upon a journey to become state alchemists, in order to gain access to more secretive knowledge. Their pursuits land the main character as a state alchemist at the age of 12. The series follows his quests as a "dog of the military", the relationship he shares with others, and the unraveling of a horrific plot that sets the entire world on the brink of ruin.

Review: There are many memorable characters and although the series has a tendency to make liberal use of manga emotives (which I normally hate), it isn't a big turn off for me here. The story is generally coherent and some things take several episodes to be explained, but they DO get explained. Some of the twists are unforeseen and others are obvious, but by and large they are weaved together quite well. Animation is not crisp, but better than average, garnering a B+. Music is acceptable B-, plot is a solid A. A worthwhile series that has some left-field moments, but generally follows one long cohesive story arc driving up to the main conclusion. I would not have made some of the same choices they did, but such is life. The ending of the series is a little weak, but there is a follow-on move, Conqueror of Shamballa, which helps bring it to rest. Check it out today. (top)






Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa

Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa


Name Variant: Gekijouban Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Shambala o Yuku Mono
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa Go to the AniDB article for Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa See a YouTube clip for Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, fantasy, magic, thriller
Date Added: 06/Nov/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 8
Character Development: 6
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 6

OVERALL SCORE: 6.60/10

Description: A movie based upon the series Fullmetal Alchemist. You should not see this movie without first going through the series it's based on. Following the conclusion of the series, this movie explores how the various surviving characters' lives played out. Ed and Alphonse seek ways to be reunited and uncover some interesting plots along the way revealing a foe bent on global domination.

Review: This is a feel-good piece that lets you relive some more memories with the FMA crew, albeit in too short a manner. After watching through 2 seasons you develop a sense of connection with the characters that is similar to not wanting a good book series to end. The animation was a touch better than the series. The music was good and the plot was workable. I disagreed vehemently with the main character's decision at the end of this movie and called him all kinds of ugly, idiot words, but otherwise felt it was a decent flick. If you've enjoyed the series, you should definitely see this movie. (top)






Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood


Name Variant: Hagane no Renkinjutsushi
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Go to the AniDB article for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood See a YouTube clip for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 64
Tags: action, adventure, drama, fantasy, magic
Date Added: 19/Oct/10

DP Ratings

Animation: 8
Character Development: 10
Plot: 9
Sound/Music: 8
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 8.40/10

Description: This version is a remaking of the series to be more true to the manga. It starts off with Edward Elric as State Alchemist already, and fills the viewers in on critical past events but does not do a rehash of the former series. This version is true to the manga and quickly places the team of Hughes, Mustang, and Fullmetal on the trail of the Homunculus. By episode 9 or so of this series the viewer was already in the same place as the last 10 episodes of the old anime. The series then embarks on a new path and hurtles the viewers towards the chosen day where it is the homunculus versus humans in an all-out war for survival. Ed and his friends make startling discoveries about who is and isn't a homunculus, what their real plans are, and are given a front-row seat the end of the world. The Elric brothers are pushed to the limits of what their psyches and bodies can take in a battle royale that is a drastic departure from the old series.

Review: I was pleased with this remake. The first few episodes appeared to be a complete rehash of the old series, about 20 episodes in, but quickly diverged. One thing that stood out in this series for me, is that despite there being 64 episodes, there were no sideplot or fluff episodes. Every single episode was connected to the larger whole and provided more insight into the characters and goings on in the world itself. The world of Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood was much larger and inclusive than the previous anime series, and more real. The plot was well thought out from start to finish. Although I was left guessing on certain elements, there were no surprise power figures showing up late in the game, or plot points that made you scratch your head. It was solid all the way through.

I still am not a fan of the Pollyanna world that Ed lives in that makes him feel like he has to do things without killing people. Several plot points would have been much easier if he had simply taken the necessary step to kill someone. I don't mean to trivialize death, and think that pulling a trigger, so to speak, is not as easy as it is made out to be on TV/movies, but a desire to take people down alive is naive. There were a few bad characters in the story that simply needed to die and Ed wasn't willing to pull that trigger, and it wound up costing him several times.

The animation was fairly similar to the last go around, but showed some polish in a few areas. The plot was solid and the ending left you feeling complete (whether you liked it or not). Character development was a big improvement as well in this series. With 64 episodes you can throw a lot more in for sure, but it was balanced and didn't feel light or overdone as compared to story progression. Solid entry. Suitable for teenage children. If you were a fan of the original, you owe it to yourself to see this version. (top)






Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell


Name Variant: Koukaku Kidoutai
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Ghost in the Shell Go to the AniDB article for Ghost in the Shell See a YouTube clip for Ghost in the Shell
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, mature, mecha, sci-fi, thriller
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 10
Character Development: 7
Plot: 9
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 9

OVERALL SCORE: 8.40/10

Description: Another defining film in anime. GITS is at heart, a love story, but that may or may not be obvious the first time you see it. It is set in Tokyo in the future, perhaps 50 years up where cybernetic enhancements are the rule of the day and very few people are still au natural. As the amount of hardware and cybernetic parts within people grows, the line between being a machine and a human blurs. What is it that makes someone alive, is it just the ghost that is in their shell? You follow a team of crack government special agents who track down and eliminate very bad people, led by the very able Major Katsuragi (IIRC). She is a lethal killing machine, and her partners are no less dangerous. The main plot line is based upon the pursuit of a high-profile hacker known as the Puppet Master, because he can hack into people and control them.

Review: Animation is superb, and this is one of the must see anime films. The science of the movie is very smart and is based upon the manga by Masmune Shirow. For me the defining scene in the movie involves a tank and some arms. That's all I'll say, but it is something that the wife and I still talk about as amazingly cool. The manga goes into a lot more details that are glossed over in the movie, and if you enjoy the movie, I recommend the manga for a follow up. If you get the DVD, I recommend watching the making of the series, as it is very interesting. Animation grade A+. Excellent English dubs are available. (top)






Ghost in the Shell 2.0

Ghost in the Shell 2.0


Name Variant: Koukaku Kidoutai 2.0
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Ghost in the Shell 2.0 Go to the AniDB article for Ghost in the Shell 2.0 See a YouTube clip for Ghost in the Shell 2.0
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, mature, sci-fi, thriller
Date Added: 04/Dec/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 10
Character Development: 8
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 8.00/10

Description: This is a remake of the original movie. They remastered it with 6.1 sound and also updated some of the animation. The story remains unchanged from the original. See the original review for more information.

Review: I don't think that GITS is now as ground breaking as it once was, perhaps because I've already seen and experienced it several times now. However, it is still a good movie. The setting reminds me of Blade Runner very much. Although I don't have better than a 6.1 sound system, it still sounded great to me. The animation that was updated was particularly breathtaking in its clarity, and I hope to acquire more BluRay anime (that was designed for the medium), because it was just stunning. The transition back to some of the older animation was a little off putting at times just because it was like switching from HD to regular broadcast on a TV, but I still enjoyed it all the same. I didn't realize that the English voice actor for the major in the movie is not the same one they use in the follow on movies and series (unless I'm mistaken). Not recommended for kids, but still a great addition to your collection. (top)






Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence


Name Variant: Innocence
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence Go to the AniDB article for Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence See a YouTube clip for Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, mature, mecha, sci-fi, thriller
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 9
Character Development: 7
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 7.80/10

Description: A follow-on movie to the original GITS, this one takes up where the first movie left off. Katsuragi is still MIA, and Bato is now partners with Togusa, the lone unmodified human in Section 9. The team goes after some rather nasty fellows and runs into a lot of surprises along the way. Someone has been messing around with machines and getting them to kill people. The three rules have been violated! Perish the thought. Bato and crew go in to find out who's responsible, and along the way, they meet up with some old friends.

Review: This series introduces obvious ray tracing alongside of hand drawn animation. In some cases it works out well, in others it wasn't a good fit. Overall the animation is superb, but the story gets a little freaky at one or two points. However, the ending is somewhat surprising and not a little disturbing. People in the future are sick. What can I say? A good watch if you're a GITS fan, however, I wouldn't recommend watching this one until you've seen the original movie and the following 26-episode series. (top)






Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex


Name Variant: Koukaku Kidoutai Stand Alone Complex
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Go to the AniDB article for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex See a YouTube clip for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 26
Tags: action, mature, mecha, sci-fi
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 8
Character Development: 9
Plot: 9
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 8.20/10

Description: A 26 episode series with the same characters from the very successful movie (see below). It is unknown when the movie and the series take place in relation to each other, though it is likely not after the first movie. If you've seen them you'll know why. Major Katsuragi, Bato, Togusa, and the rest are around to kick butt and take names. The main story arc focuses on Section 9's search for a class A hacker known as the laughing man, who committed a very brazen hacking event in public and got away with it. Although not every episode focuses on this main theme, far more than half of them do. Follow the story as it goes from the hunt of a lone, powerful individual into a large government conspiracy, reaching to the highest levels. Even section 9 gets targeted for removal.

Review: The animation is not as good as the movie, but few series are anywhere in that ballpark of production. As far as overall series go, this anime is very good. The plots are engaging, the characters compelling, and animation is good. The themes covered in this series are mature. I place this in my top 10 anime series list. If you haven't seen it already, go and get it. Animation A-. I prefer the English dubs, which carry the same actors from the original movie through all the series. (top)






Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society


Name Variant: Koukaku Kidoutai Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society Go to the AniDB article for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society See a YouTube clip for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, mature, mecha, sci-fi, thriller
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 8
Character Development: 7
Plot: 9
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 7.60/10

Description: this is a movie to consider what takes place in between the first series, Stand Alone Complex, and the second series, 2nd Gig. In this series Togusa is in charge of the unit and the group tries to figure out why children keep disappearing and what that has to do with some people committing rash suicides. Also, there is a subplot in which Major Kusanagi might be involved with some political assassinations. The whole thing boils down to some mysterious clues as to what relation it has to the solid state society, pointing to some type of relationship between old coots and disappearing children. It also helps sets the stage for 2ng Gig.

Review: Animation is similar to the two series, A-. The plot is good and the action excellent. Adult themes are carried in this series. Not suitable for young children, but a good view for 13+. (top)






Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG


Name Variant: Koukaku Kidoutai S.A.C. 2nd GIG
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG Go to the AniDB article for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG See a YouTube clip for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 26
Tags: action, mature, mecha, sci-fi
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 8
Character Development: 9
Plot: 10
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 9

OVERALL SCORE: 8.60/10

Description: this continues the fine tradition started by the first series. There is a movie in between the first series (Stand Alone Complex above) and this one called Solid State Society (see below in movie's section) which provides a good segue from one series to the next. You get to find out a bit more about the background of some of the characters on the team and their association with each other as well. The main plot line focuses on a mounting refugee problem from the last world war. The refugees are listlessly holing up in a region of Japan, when a mysterious character takes control, a modern day inspiration to the masses, who helps establish a drive for autonomy and independence. Of course this is best brought about by indiscriminate acts of terror and suicide bombings.

Review: Follow the action from one episode to the next as you just can't put it down. Over 60% of the series focuses on the main plot line, and as in every series/movie, someone gets their head/brain stem blown off at least once. This is written as well as any good drama on TV today. The characters are compelling, the story is good, and the animation is grade A. I felt like the series end was a little abrupt, and that with 2 or 3 more episodes it would have been more complete, but, a definite must watch. If you haven't see it, or the first series, get them both today. A fine addition to anyone's collection. 26 episodes. English dubs preferred. (top)






Gungrave

Gungrave


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Gungrave Go to the AniDB article for Gungrave See a YouTube clip for Gungrave
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 26
Tags: action, horror, mature, sci-fi, thriller
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 8
Character Development: 8
Plot: 9
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 8.00/10

Description: Undead and Mafia... what's not to like? This story follows the path of two friends who are part of a local gang and manage to work their way through the ranks of a major crime syndicate to the very top. It is a tale of betrayal, friendship, and love mixed in with great animation, lots of killing, and to spice up life, the undead.

Review: The first episode really throws you into the middle of things and doesn't explain what's going on, and then proceeds to spend the next 16 or so episodes to catch you up to speed. Lots of people die. There are some very memorable characters and anyone with any amount of face time usually dies in some graphic way sooner or later. It's not over the top on violence, but sufficient for the needs of the story. The story is compelling and the ending doesn't leave you with a "huh?!?!" moment. Things progress towards a somewhat predictable destination, but it's always a surprise on how you get there. Alliances, betrayals, and intrigue make this a very memorable series. I place it in my top 10 anime list. 26 episodes. Animation is grade A-. (top)






Gunslinger Girl

Gunslinger Girl


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Gunslinger Girl Go to the AniDB article for Gunslinger Girl See a YouTube clip for Gunslinger Girl
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 13
Tags: action, sci-fi
Date Added: 18/Sep/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 9
Character Development: 8
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 8
X-Factor: 10

OVERALL SCORE: 8.60/10

Description: there's something special about seeing a little girl take an P-90, short-range assault rifle and shoot up some mafia thugs in close-quarter combat. Yes, you need to see this. The story goes that there is an organization within the Italian government which takes little girls that no one wants (circa 8-11 yrs old), who are on death's door, and cybernetically enhances them. Through a process of careful conditioning, these girls are trained to be the unobserved killers of those who would disturb the public peace. The whole story arc takes place within Italy (not the US or Japan!) and follows several of the girls in this organization as they take on the evils of terrorism from without, and dangerous forces within, while still being girls in need of love and friendship. Each girl is paired with an older, male handler and several of the episodes focus on this relationship.

Review: It's only 13 episodes and just sort of ends, but the concepts are beautifully done in several of the episodes and a follow-on season (called Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino-) has laready been completed in Japan and is due to be released in the US some time in 2009. I would rate this PG-13, with very good animation and musical score. I recommend it. The DVDs default to English audio, but they (thankfully) have Japanese language tracks. (top)






Hellsing

Hellsing


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Hellsing Go to the AniDB article for Hellsing See a YouTube clip for Hellsing
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 13
Tags: action, horror, magic, mature, thriller
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 7
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 7.40/10

Description: this short 13-episode series is violent and bloody. The Hellsing family has been involved in hunting the undead for some time. In this series you get to meet the current head of the Hellsing family, a woman by the name of Integra. She has a pet vampire, Alucard, that works for her and goes around killing other people and things that she allows him to. He is always there in the shadows, waiting to kill, but won't act without her leave. Eventually the relationship between the two is explained and how they came to work together. Along the way he picks up a female member of the swat team who he turns into a vampire and gets her to work along beside him. Although she made this bargain to save her life in the first episode, she winds up regretting it for most of the series, as she can't come to grips with what she's become. The series follows the group as they go around kicking serious undead butt.

Review: At first it starts off with people who are wannabe undead. Those who think they are powerful until they meet the real deal. The bad guys get progressively more insane as time goes on, until Alucard finally gets to fight a true undead himself for the climactic showdown. Plenty of room left for a sequel. There are some parts in the series which might disturb the younger crowd. They have already started a remake of this series called Hellsing:Ultimate OVA which takes the approach of the manga and is much more intense, dark, and gruesome. (top)






Hellsing Ultimate OVA

Hellsing Ultimate OVA


Name Variant: Hellsing Ultimate
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Hellsing Ultimate OVA Go to the AniDB article for Hellsing Ultimate OVA See a YouTube clip for Hellsing Ultimate OVA
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 10
Tags: action, horror, magic, mature, thriller
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 8
Character Development: 9
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 8
X-Factor: 9

OVERALL SCORE: 8.40/10

Description: In this remaking, the plot line is completely different from the first, although you can easily see the similarities. The OVA (of which there are a projected 10 episodes) instantly starts out telling the Hellsing story and putting a lot of the character development up front. It also makes the story of how Victoria Ceres (the SWAT member) gets involved much more intricate. There is a greater emphasis on the conflicts between the Vatican and the Hellsing family (Protestants) and the Millenium group is not left to be exposed until late in the series, but up front and personal. The third Reich is still alive and well, and apparently playing around with undead.

Review: Tthe Ultimate OVA is far and above better than the original series. The character animation appears to be similar, but the team putting this together has gone back and found a violent and bloody way to make the series work. You get to delve more deeply into the past of the various characters and the action is more intense and FAR MORE BLOODY AND GRAPHIC. Do not let children watch this series. For anime it delivers a careful balance of animation, gore, and plot. The gore helps drive the story and makes it more gritty. Alucard is a vampire and he is insanely powerful. You get to see his powers more fully and understand what fear is, as seen throught he eyes of his victims. The company distributing these in the US went bankrupt, so I don't know when we'll get more than the first four already released in the states, but someone will pick it up. Animation grade A-. Subtitles are far superior to dubs. (top)






Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle


Name Variant: Howl no Ugoku Shiros
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Howl's Moving Castle Go to the AniDB article for Howl's Moving Castle See a YouTube clip for Howl's Moving Castle
Production Type: Movie
Tags: adventure, fantasy, magic
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 9
Character Development: 6
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 7.20/10

Description: Another Miyazaki port to the US. This movie follows a girl, who normally makes fine lady's hats, that gets caught up in the power struggles of the mighty who trying to hunt down an elusive wizard, Howl. After initially meeting this wizard, our little lady gets turned into an old woman by unfortunate magical side effects, and goes off in search of Howl and a cure. She finds him and his mysterious, moving castle. She works for him as servant and gets to know the other inhabitants of the castle and Howl's part in their lives as well as the war between the two rival superpowers of the day. Can Howl survive the war that is threatening his life? Can this old lady become young again? And who is trying to bring the elusive wizard down?

Review: A very engaging film, suitable for children. The characters are superbly drawn and the style of Miyazaki is instantly recognizable. The plot moves along swiftly towards an interesting conclusion. Not to be missed. (top)






Initial D First Stage

Initial D First Stage


Name Variant: Initial D
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Initial D First Stage Go to the AniDB article for Initial D First Stage See a YouTube clip for Initial D First Stage
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 26
Tags: sports
Date Added: 12/May/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 3
Character Development: 3
Plot: 5
Sound/Music: 4
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 4.40/10

Description: A group of local workers at a gas station are involved in downhill racing as a hobby at a local mountain pass. A group of racers comes by one day to throw down a challenge to see who's the best. The racers are a well-known group that have some people who could be professional drivers if they wanted, but go around to prove that they are the best by beating people on their home turf. It quickly becomes obvious that this new group is superior to the local boys, but on one of the practice runs, a white eight-six comes out of nowhere and blows away the #2 racer on the visiting group. Word gets back to the local boys that an eight-six won and they struggle in vain to figure out who it is. Rumors lead to a tofu shop owner who was known as a downhill racing champ who had some "monster drift" back in his prime. To the surprise of the local boys, one of their friends who never showed any interest in racing is the new driver of the eight-six, the son of the tofu shop owner. He's been driving the roads for years, making deliveries for his dad, and learning tricks on how to be a great downhill driver. It drives his friends nuts that he doesn't have a passion for racing even though he's so obviously talented. After winning the much anticipated race with the #2 racer, his name becomes instantly known and various racers from the region want to take on the new sensation. With each win his reputation only grows until the final showdown against the fastest racer in the area.

Review: There are at least 4 seasons and 1 movie for this series. I liked the 1st series despite its obvious weaknesses (animation and dialog), but didn't get into the others as it looked like more of the same. The series wisely focuses on drifting, car races, and highlights a few different car types and their various strengths and weaknesses to downhill racing. For what it seeks to accomplish as a racing anime, it does a very good job. The dialog and animation are poor, so much so that my wife refused to watch it on principle. I watched it on the recommendation of a bud (thanks Dooley!) and got into it pretty quickly. The car sequences are where it's all at, and the rest of the series is like filler fluff that's only there to add some human element to the story. If you like racing/cars then this is a great series. The show feel authentic in those areas, but must have been operating on a shoestring budget due to the other deficiencies. An excellent TDY series. (top)






Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade

Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade Go to the AniDB article for Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade See a YouTube clip for Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, mature, thriller
Date Added: 12/Feb/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 9
Character Development: 7
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 8
X-Factor: 6

OVERALL SCORE: 7.40/10

Description: (Taken from AniDB) Jin-Roh is a very dark tale set in the riot-torn 1960's Tokyo of an alternate history. A special police force, the Capitol Police Organization (CAPO) has been formed. Within CAPO is the Special Unit which gets the toughest jobs. Some of the men in the Special Unit, according to rumor, comprise a vigilante group called the Wolf Brigade. Conceived by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell) Fuse, a member of the Special Unit, broods obsessively about a terrorist girl who blew herself up in front of him. Then he meets the girl's sister and becomes emotionally involved.

Review: This movie was interesting on several fronts. The riot animation sequence in the beginning of the film was very convincing and the machinations between various government organizations were quite lifelike. The animation is violent and pretty true to life (all of the people look Japanese, have dark hair/eyes, etc.). The action slows down in the middle, but picks up for an interesting conclusion. The story of Little Red Riding Hood has prominent use throughout. As was true in early fairy tales, not all stories end happily ever after. Be sure you check this out on DVD or Blu-Ray as the sound is just intense. (top)






Kiddy Grade

Kiddy Grade


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Kiddy Grade Go to the AniDB article for Kiddy Grade See a YouTube clip for Kiddy Grade
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 24
Tags: adventure, ecchi, magic, mecha, sci-fi
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 7
Plot: 5
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 5

OVERALL SCORE: 6.00/10

Description: Kiddy Grade follows the exploits of a group of powerful women who work for the Galactic Organization of Trades and Tarriffs. By powerful women I mean women with fantastic powers that allow them to alter reality as we know it. Each woman in the group has a different type of power and they are all partnered together. The opening few episodes are meant to introduce you to the various characters, the organization they work for, and the undercurrents of political unrest. Eventually you get to the main story arc and the struggle of the rich vs. poor in a galaxy controlled by trade and business interests. The fine ladies working for GOTT get caught in the middle and subterfuge and treachery lead to the downfall of the organization and potentially throw the galaxy into chaos. Down but never out, the main characters are able to battle their way back from the gates of oblivion to overcome the evil that seeks to control the lives of men.

Review: This was kind of weekend series I took in (okay, several weekends) and got hooked. It's a guilty pleasure like pop songs. You know that there is no redeeming value to it, but you hum them in your head anyway. This series reminded me of that. There were some memorable fight scenes, but this seemed designed to part geek male teens from some money because it has good looking girls in tight/short clothes running around fighting and saving the universe. If you feel like a guilty pleasure, then this is it! 24 episodes. animation grade B+, English dubs are high quality. (top)






Kiki's Delivery Service

Kiki's Delivery Service


Name Variant: Majo no Takkyuubin
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Kiki's Delivery Service Go to the AniDB article for Kiki's Delivery Service See a YouTube clip for Kiki's Delivery Service
Production Type: Movie
Tags: adventure, angst, magic
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 9
Character Development: 8
Plot: 6
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 7.20/10

Description: Another film by Miyazaki, the same guy who did Princess Mononoke (or Mononoke Hime for those otakus). When the Disney animator's were asked what they thought of Miyazaki, they said simply "he is a god". This is a light-hearted tale set in the modern world, with one small difference - there are witches. Everyone in the story knows this and all of the witches are cast as good. If there is evil in the world, it is small scale from this picture's POV. Kiki is a young witch who has to go out in the world to discover her talent as part of a right of passage. She feels that she isn't really good at anything but flying, so with a little help from a kind baker family, she opens a delivery service. During the course of her time away from home she goes through the range of emotions, and eventually loses her self confidence, and with it, her ability to do magic and fly. With the help of friends she has to rediscover her ability to succeed, even when life throws you a curve ball or two, or watch someone she cares for die.

Review: Emotional to a degree, a great story, and one worth watching again and again. A great kids' film, but also good for adults. Animation grade A. Good English dubs are available (top)






Kurenai

Kurenai


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Kurenai Go to the AniDB article for Kurenai See a YouTube clip for Kurenai
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 12
Tags: action, drama, martial arts, mature
Date Added: 01/Jun/10

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 8
Plot: 9
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 9

OVERALL SCORE: 8.00/10

Description: Shinkurou, a high-school student who works as a dispute mediator, is approached one day by his employer for his most difficult assignment ever, to work as a bodyguard for a 9-year old girl. This girl, Murasaki, is a precocious child of one of the most powerful plutocratic families in Japan, and she is in hiding, stolen away from her home by Shinkurou's employer, at the request of Murasaki's mother, who wanted her child to lead a more normal life. Not content to let their daughter be stolen from them, the Kuhouin family sends dangerous people to get her back, leading to an inevitable show down, in which Shinkurou has to decide what's truly important to him.

Review: I started reading the manga before I ever watched the show itself. The manga, as is normally the case, is much more intense than the show itself. While I do recommend checking out both, they are each unique. The anime is almost a precursor to the manga in many respects. Although the manga covers the period that transpires in the anime, the anime does things differently, allowing for a more drawn out series of events. Overall I prefer the manga more, but the anime stands on its own as a worthy series.

The character development of the two lead characters, Shinkurou and Murasaki is excellent. Although Murasaki is extremely precocious I have to admit that I felt a connection to her character and she is one of the better child main characters I have ever seen. There were some emotionally painful moments watching the showing as a result/ I found myself caring about the characters. The voice acting was also well done. I hope that one day they go back and make an anime that is on par with the manga.

This show is NOT for little kids as the subject matter discussed is wholly inappropriate. Some of the banter between the various characters is quite funny, and there are several light-hearted moments spread throughout the series, but the main focus is dark and dirty work. If you like things that aren't on the strait and narrow, then this is definitely a series for you. I heartily recommend it. (top)






Lovely Complex

Lovely Complex


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Lovely Complex Go to the AniDB article for Lovely Complex See a YouTube clip for Lovely Complex
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 24
Tags: angst, comedy, romance, school life, slice of life
Date Added: 03/Apr/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 10
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 7.60/10

Description: Risa is a very tall girl and Otani is a very short guy. They wound up running into each other in homeroom in highschool and instantly disliked each other, even slinging height-related insults. To their mutual chagrin they were selected to be the two class representatives and were forced to be together. Through mutual friends and their assignments they were required to be together and discovered that they had many mutual interests and became good friends. When their friends suggest they go out they both think that the idea is absurd. However, over time Risa discovers that she likes Otani more than just as a friend and so with the help of everyone around her she sets off to win the heart of the boy who only sees her as a friend.

Review: One of the striking things about this excellent romance series is how well they captured the insecurities of a highschool girl (so says the wife). Risa is a good representation of every girl who has been unlucky in love and the fleeting courage that comes from following your heart. Although she and Otani have every reason to stay apart, they have just as many to get together.

There are several couples involved in the series and you get to see the joys and sorrows of each, though the main focus is squarely on Risa and Otani. Besides dealing with their own insecurities, the pair must also deal with rivals, some of which are determined to make sure the two never get together or last if they do.

The character animation was mixed between manga style emotives and well-drawn art. The level of depth and emotion that the characters were able to portray was very well done, getting high marks. The story had moments of happiness and sadness (even made the wife cry a few times). If you like romantic dramas, then this is an excellent series worth checking out. It is one of the best I've seen in this genre. (top)






Mai-Hime

Mai-Hime


Name Variant: My-HiME
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Mai-Hime Go to the AniDB article for Mai-Hime See a YouTube clip for Mai-Hime
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 26
Tags: action, ecchi, harem, magic, school life
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 8
Plot: 6
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 7.00/10

Description: HiME's are special girls/women who have the ability to manipulate high order matter, described as "photons" in the series. The manga that this is based on is better than the series, has a different plot and motivation for the characters, and is more adult in nature. The series fluctuates between being targeted at older teenagers and throwing out little bits for the younger teens. A new girl and her brother get accepted via scholarship to a prestigious co-ed Japanese school that is (unknown to the student-body) gathering certain types of girls for their special powers. The HiME are the only one's capable of defeating the "Orphans" a group of monsters which seem attracted to the HiMEs and try to kill them on a regular basis. Each HiME has a "Child" which significantly augments their powers that they can summon to help them fight the orphans. The story is about where the Orphans come from, the organization which is trying to eliminate the HiMEs, the other group which wants to use the HiMEs to protect itself, and then a battle royale against the deadly enemy which seeks to reshape the world, which conveniently doesn't show up until more than half the episodes are over.

Review: The series has three main female characters, but obviously focuses most on Mai and her relationship struggles. Even though she has fantastic powers, she still has work, school, friends, and two potential romances to manage. There are some light-hearted episodes early on, and some truly funny moments, but near the end it gets down right ugly when HiMEs start turning on each other left and right with lethal consequences. Lots of people get hurt, and some die. The animation is pretty decent (grade A-), but sometimes the "camera" angles are such to maximize cleavage or other types of fan service. Some of the extras at the end of the DVDs are also borderline disturbing fan service. With so many females running around together it's easy to guess what most focus on. The story line is not silly, just fantastic. Sometimes monsters conveniently wait for characters to enact dialogue, but otherwise, it is true to life. The ending felt a little abrupt (a recurring theme in much anime) and convenient, but the ride was what was interesting, not the conclusion itself. There were some "OH NO YOU DIDN'T!" moments in character interaction and when some of the hime's get mad, look out. Certainly worth a perusal. 26 episodes. (top)






Midori No Hibi

Midori No Hibi


Name Variant: My Days With Midori
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Midori No Hibi Go to the AniDB article for Midori No Hibi See a YouTube clip for Midori No Hibi
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 13
Tags: angst, comedy, ecchi, school life
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 6
Character Development: 8
Plot: 3
Sound/Music: 5
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 5.80/10

Description: A young man at school is notorious for the many fights he gets into and is known for his "demon" right hand punch. One day when he wakes up his right hand has been transformed into the upper torso (waist and above) of a girl he's never met. Much to their mutual surprise this isn't a dream. Now the tough guy has to keep up his reputation, but his demon right hand is now a little girl.

Review: The various methods he uses to try and hide her presence is interesting, and at one point becomes dangerous to him. This series also explores the scary hobby some Japanese men have of playing with and dressing up dolls. The transformation of his right hand into the girl, and the eventual release of his hand to normal, teaches both people a lot about themselves and what life, friendship, and love is all about. A good TDY anime. 13 episodes. (top)






Mushi-Shi

Mushi-Shi


Name Variant: Mushishi
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Mushi-Shi Go to the AniDB article for Mushi-Shi See a YouTube clip for Mushi-Shi
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 26
Tags: adventure, fantasy, magic
Date Added: 20/Jan/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 8
Character Development: 10
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 8.20/10

Description: The story follows a Mushi-Shi, or mushi master in his travels throughout the countryside. The world has small organisms which are constantly around us, called mushi, but only a select few people can see them. Those who dedicate their lives to the study of mushi are called Mushi-Shi. Due to their propensity to attract mushi if they stay put for too long, they are constantly traveling. They spend their time studying, learning, and helping others deal with mushi. The series follows a Mushi-Shi by the name of Ginko as he moves around to study the mushi and the lives of whom they affect.

Review: The series is episodic in nature with very few references from one episode to the next. There are a few recurring characters but by and large Ginko is the only constant between any episode. Some of the stories are crazy, but some are poignant and moving. Mushi in the story are rarely good and most often times they have very negative effects on people. Because most people can't see mushi, they often attribute these effects to magic or fate, ignorant of the larger world they live in.

The animation is pretty and the style is fairly true to life. It seems that the animators only have about 10 different people that they draw regularly and every character in the story is close to one of these few, but they are well done. The story is good, the character development of Ginko is strong throughout the series (as he is the only character in every episode, you would hope it to be). Although bad things can, and do, happen, this series is suitable for children. There is also a live action movie which is based upon the manga. An excellent series to pick up. English dubs are of high quality. (top)






Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind


Name Variant: Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind Go to the AniDB article for Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind See a YouTube clip for Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, adventure, fantasy, sci-fi
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 8
Character Development: 7
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 7.20/10

Description: Post apocalyptic society that is being taken over by noxious plants and insects. The plants/insects carry toxins which cause fatal results in people. Society keeps getting pushed further and further back as "nature" claims back its own. Nausica is a princess who leads her people in a protected valley. She flies a type of wind surfing device that gives her the nickname. An ambitious warlike race has discovered a terrible secret from a technological past and is seeking to revive it. Unfortunately, for Nausica and her people, the airship carrying their prize crashes in their valley. When the soldiers come to take it back, with conquest in their eyes, Naussica must rise to the challenge to save her people's lives, even if it means her own in exchange.

Review: Complex interpersonal relationships, a cautionary tale of biological tampering, and at its base, a story of love make up this impressive tale. Quality voice dubbing done by an English cast, including Patrick Stewart, is availabe in the US release. Animation is A- and story is a good one. (top)






Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion


Name Variant: Shinseiki Evangelion
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Neon Genesis Evangelion Go to the AniDB article for Neon Genesis Evangelion See a YouTube clip for Neon Genesis Evangelion
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 26
Tags: action, harem, mecha, sci-fi
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 8
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 7.20/10

Description: my first anime. Alien invaders are coming to earth (affectionately called "Angels") and mankind has some type of mechanized superweapon called the "Evangelion" which can only be utilized by teenagers (sound familiar?). The story follows the main three pilots throughout the series and their messed up lives as they are required to spend vast amounts of emotional capital to save a thankless and demanding mankind. Throw in some family issues, a few affairs, crazy bioengineering, and conniving leadership, and you've got a tripped out drama only the Japanese can fully relate to. There is a decent amount of violence, but most of it is not graphic or is alluded to.

Review: It started out pretty well, and then went downhill near the end (like so many). Supposedly they were going to have two seasons and it ran out of money near the end of season one. It was horribly popular in Japan and had so much public outcry that they made a movie to fix everything that was left unresolved by the series. Alas, the Japanese are trippy individuals and although it did indeed answer many questions, it also left me with a disconnected feeling that it really was messed up. Not bad English dubs, Subtitles are better. Some of the episodes were really good, some were not. It is considered a much watch, but I've re-evaluated my opinion over time. It is certainly interesting, and is much more fun to watch if you can do so with someone else to discuss. Several of the things they've done are very clever. Animation is grade B (better than most daily cartoons, but not movie quality, weak in a few areas.) 26 episodes. According to Anime news sources, the original Gainax team will be getting together in the immediate future to redo Evangelion and make it what it was meant to be. Not just reworking the art, but changing the characters and story line and applying everything that everyone has learned over the past 10 years into making the definitive statement. I've seen the first, of the projected 4 movies, and they have taken out a lot of the fluff found in the series. Some of the footage is new and goes into different depths than the previous one. Shinji appears to be a little less of a whiner too (thankfully). Apparently movies 1-3 will be fairly consistent with the original series, but the final movie will be a complete rework. (top)






Neon Genesis Evangelion - The End of Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion - The End of Evangelion


Name Variant: Shinseiki Evangelion Gekijouban: The End of Evangelion
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Neon Genesis Evangelion - The End of Evangelion Go to the AniDB article for Neon Genesis Evangelion - The End of Evangelion See a YouTube clip for Neon Genesis Evangelion - The End of Evangelion
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, angst, mature, mecha, sci-fi, thriller
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 8
Character Development: 6
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 6

OVERALL SCORE: 6.60/10

Description: when Evangelion was originally created by GAINAX, rumor had it that there was going to be two seasons. Budget crunches turned that into one season late into the first season. The result was that the last two episodes were reall, REALLY crappy and left a ton of questions unanswered. There was such a public outcry that they released not one, but TWO movies to tidy things up. The first movie (death and rebirth) is merely a rehash of the first 24 episodes to catch everybody back up on what happened in the series. I don't recall if it contained any new material or not, or if the emphasis was new on something. Regardless, you can skip it. The End of Evangelion does in 2 hours, what the series should have done in season two.

Review: Perhaps the remake will take this all into account. The movie has better animation than the series and you learn a lot more about a lot of the characters. You also get some sense of finality to the whole thing. The people in the series are twisted wrecks of people, used, abused, and then discarded when they are spent. I really don't know what to make of the final scene. I'll leave it at that. If you slogged through Evangelion, you will want this to heal the balm of your soul. For the dedicated fan there is an excellent fansite at http://www.eva-r.com which has some fanfiction that continued the series beyond epidsode 24 and gave some very real and new challenges that are great reads. It put a much better perspective into the series and helped provide more closure than this movie did, but all in all, it was a trippy experience. (top)






Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu

Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu Go to the AniDB article for Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu See a YouTube clip for Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 12
Tags: comedy, ecchi, romance, school life
Date Added: 23/Mar/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 6
Character Development: 8
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 6

OVERALL SCORE: 6.60/10

Description: Yuuto is a pretty normal high school guy, somewhere around 16-17 years old. He has a friend who is a total otaku, but he himself doesn't see what's so great about it. One day by chance he bumps into Haruka, the belle of the school and bar far the most popular girl he's ever met. In that fateful encounter Hauka spills her bag's contents, and inside is a hardcore otaku magazine, Scared of someone finding out what she considers an unusual hobby, she is convinced that nothing but ill can come from it. However, to her surprise he doesn't care and the two become friends. What follows from that fateful encounter is a friendship that endures and has the potential for so much more.

Review: This is a cute romance story with some fan service tossed in. The boy and girl blush at all the right times and for once, neither side in a romance is indecisive, they are just young. It reminds me a bit of when I was a kid and running around. The two become friends and almost everyone else can see what's going on, but they can't admit it to themselves that they are falling in love. Of course there is a rival tossed into the mix later on, but the series doesn't get weird at all. Like life, many of the problems we face can be avoided with proper communication. If you're looking for a cute romantic story, then it is hard to beat this one. There is really only one main male character, and several female characters with lots of face time, but it is not a harem anime. Although there are a few pantsu shots, it is minor and never the point of the story. Animation style is slightly exaggerated, and the plot isn't fantastic, but both are quite serviceable. The depth of the characters is pretty good considering it's only 12 episodes long. A great weekend watch. (top)






Nyan Koi!

Nyan Koi!


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Nyan Koi! Go to the AniDB article for Nyan Koi! See a YouTube clip for Nyan Koi!
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 12
Tags: comedy, ecchi, harem, magic, romance, school life
Date Added: 30/Apr/10

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 6
Plot: 6
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 6.60/10

Description: A high-school boy who has never had the courage to confess to the girl he really likes is walking home one day and accidentally beheads the statue of a cat god. As punishment for his crime, he is cursed by the cat god to be able to understand cats and have to do 100 deeds of kindness for them. If he does not do this penance in an expeditious manner, he will be turned into a cat, and due to his cat allergies that would kill him. His allergies also play havoc on his ability to deal with the cats that he can communicate with. If he tells anyone else of the curse, not only will they be cursed as well, but the curse will be greatly magnified against him. Toss in several women interested in him at the same time and you have the stage set ripe for a harem comedy.

Review: The story line is somewhat predictable in a few areas, but they manage to establish all of the female interests in short order and then get down to the story itself. Junepei, the male, has horrible luck. Like many teenage boys I know he is oblivious to what is not immediately in front of his own face. As a male I often find harems frustrating because more often than not it falls into one of two categories: a weak male who is incapable of deciding whom to pursue or someone who is oblivious to his surroundings. Most men like the harem interplay because they get to fantasize how they would "do things differently." While I didn't identify with Junpei in this series, I think that the harem angle was necessary to make the comedy points work.

As a comedy series I think that this series delivered. The plot line was definitely unique, some of the situations were novel, and although there is nothing impressive with the series, it's a good short romp. I started reading the manga first and admit a little disappointment in how they carried it out. While they kept the main character points the same, they completely departed from the manga in several areas and even made some sections up out of whole cloth. Had they kept to the manga story line I think it would have worked out much better, but it is what it is. Not suitable for younger kids. (top)






Oh My Goddess! (OVA)

Oh My Goddess! (OVA)


Name Variant: Aa! Megami-sama!
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Oh My Goddess! (OVA) Go to the AniDB article for Oh My Goddess! (OVA) See a YouTube clip for Oh My Goddess! (OVA)
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 5
Tags: comedy, fantasy, harem, magic, slice of life
Date Added: 15/Jan/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 7
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 8
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 7.20/10

Description: The Oh My Goddess OVA is a 5-episode series that finds the main character, Keichi, as a smaller, down-on-your-luck college student as someone who never catches a break... someone with perennial bad luck. In an effort to fix this karmic imbalance heaven sends a goddess named Belldandy to grant Keichi one wish. Thinking this is some joke that he's been subjected to, Keichi thinks of something outlandish to wish for, that Belldandy would stay with him and be his girlfriend forever. Much to their mutual surprise the wish is granted. Supernatural forces work to keep the two together, despite circumstances that would otherwise tear them apart. Soon enough Belldandy's sisters come to check up on their sister and riotous times enuse.

Review: Although this OVA is short, it is pleasing on several levels. The animation is a bit dated, but it doesn't detract from the overall story. Keichi suffers from some of the same insecurities you see stereotyped in harm-style anime, his biggest problem being his indecisiveness. However, this isn't a major detractor as he learns to work through his issues for what's really important. The sound/music is pretty good, and even though it's short, you get a sense of the character's strengths and weaknesses in short order. There is a longer series that goes in a slightly different direction, and a movie as well. Kid watchable and entertaining. (top)






Onegai Teacher

Onegai Teacher


Name Variant: Please Teacher!
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Onegai Teacher Go to the AniDB article for Onegai Teacher See a YouTube clip for Onegai Teacher
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 13
Tags: angst, comedy, ecchi, harem, romance, school life, sci-fi
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 6
Character Development: 7
Plot: 4
Sound/Music: 5
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 5.80/10

Description: a short 13 episode series that is somewhat different. An alien researcher comes down to earth (I can't recall if on purpose or via crash) and she comes into contact with an earth teenager. She tries to contain him, but he slips away and goes on his merry way hoping that it was all some bad dream. He goes to school next day and finds out that he has a surprise new teacher, yes the alien. After school there is a confrontation and through a series of wacky events the student and teacher (alien) are forced to make up the fact that they are secretly married. Hijinks ensue.

Review: While no sane person would come to this whacked out possibility, it is a strange plot device that is required to make this series work. The series focuses on relationships, secrets, the wistful, open, and brash choices that people make, and their associated repercussions. Throw in some alien in-laws with scheming of their own, and you have a bizarre comedy that only the Japanese can somehow continuously relate to. The series pretext is weak, but if you can put that aside it is an enjoyable, if not short series worth a look. All relationships need work, especially extraterrestrial ones. Animation is grade B. Guilty Pleasure series! (top)






Paprika

Paprika


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Paprika Go to the AniDB article for Paprika See a YouTube clip for Paprika
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, fantasy, mature, sci-fi, thriller
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 9
Character Development: 5
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 5
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 6.80/10

Description: This movie came out in 2006 and has a similar theme to the movie Dreamscape with Dennis Quaid. A team of psychiatric researchers have developed a device call the Mini DC which can allow doctors to enter the dreams and minds of their patients to help treat them. Unfortunately two of the devices have been stolen before all the security features have been programmed in. Now some criminals are able to enter the dreams of people and force new realities upon them. Even worse, the more someone has been exposed to the DC mini, the more susceptible they are to implanted feelings and thoughts, even while awake. As a result the team hunting down the thieves is most vulnerable to its influence.

Review: Paprika is the sometimes trippy flight that blurs the lines between dreams and reality. A thought provoking story, runs 90 minutes, and is avaialble on BluRay. Animation is grade A, music is decent, and the drama of the series is interesting. You pick up new things every time you see it. Worth a watch. (top)






Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke


Name Variant: Mononoke Hime
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Princess Mononoke Go to the AniDB article for Princess Mononoke See a YouTube clip for Princess Mononoke
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, adventure, fantasy, magic
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 10
Character Development: 9
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 9
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 8.80/10

Description: one of the better stand alone anime movies to come out in a long time. Prior to Titanic hitting the theaters, this was the #1 grossing film in Japan of all time. It follows a main character, Prince Ashitaka, who is seeking to free himself from a curse placed upon him by a boar demon which he slew in the defense of his village. In his journeys for a cure, he is caught up in the struggle between a human princess of the wolves, named Mononoke, and a village which is trying to mine the iron in the mountains, past the forest which she helps protect. It is a time of gods and demons that walk freely in the lands of men. There are large battles and forces at play. It is a great movie because there isn't anyone that you can identify with as a 100% good or bad guy. Each side is struggling for what it wants and Ashitaka gets caught in the middle as both sides seek to use him for their own ends. All the while, Ashitaka is forced to deal with the demon's curse which is in him, which without a cure will soon claim his life.

Review: It is not something I would show to small children as a matter of course, though my kids (both under 10) love it to pieces. Lots of people die, lose limbs, heads, etc. Animation is superb, grade A+. Although I prefer subtitles, the English dubbing is very good and definitely worth using. The story is engaging and I consider this a Must Watch anime film. (top)






RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~

RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~


Name Variant: Mnemosyne: Mnemosyne no Musume-tachi
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~ Go to the AniDB article for RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~ See a YouTube clip for RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 6
Tags: action, drama, fantasy, magic, mature
Date Added: 22/Feb/10

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 9
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 9

OVERALL SCORE: 7.80/10

Description: This story begins in an alternate current time period in which a tree, Yggdrassill, produces something called the Fruits of Time. If a woman touches a special fruit with her body, the fruit is taken inside and she becomes immortal. Only immortals can see the tree, and it stretches far across the horizon. This anime follows the adventures of a pair of immortal women who run a detective agency and do odd jobs to pass the stretches of eternity. It follows their doings throughout a period of over a hundred years, and stretches far into the future.

Review: The series takes a couple of unexpected turns along the way to its conclusion. Each of the six episodes is around 42 minutes in length, so it is more or less the size of a normal 13-episode series, but compacted into lengthier set of individual episodes. The action is pretty intense in some parts and involves some very graphic and brutal occurrences. Many of the people in this series that the title character, Rin, goes up against are evil, evil people. There are a few main characters that you see throughout the series that keep coming back. It's hard to kill an immortal, but that doesn't stop lots of people from trying.

The overall series had an air of mystique about it that lended itself towards a high overall rating. It has a certain something that's hard to put your finger on, but it keeps you coming back for more. Be warned that this is a no-go for children, and besides the violence, someone gets naked (and often killed) at least once in every episode.

The animation was pretty good, though I can't imagine that they would show this series on TV as is. The sounds in the series were done decently, but the music was nothing to write home about. The plot was handily tied up in the final episode and brought a sense of closure. Overall a hearty recommendation for those who don't have weak stomachs. Additionally, there are some blatant segments of lesbianism laced throughout the series. (top)






Saber Marionette J

Saber Marionette J


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Saber Marionette J Go to the AniDB article for Saber Marionette J See a YouTube clip for Saber Marionette J
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 25
Tags: action, comedy, harem, martial arts, mecha, romance, sci-fi
Date Added: 16/Jan/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 6
Character Development: 8
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 5
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 6.80/10

Description: In a colonized planet women have basically gone extinct due to some horrible mishaps. In an effort to replace this loss, female androids called marionettes were created to handle fighting, household chores, and companionship. Enter Otaru stage left. He is a young guy who manages to stumble across not 1, but 3, very special marionettes who will alter the course of destiny on this world for all time. Otaru isn't the only one with Marionettes. Evil forces who would remake the world in their own image martial their forces. The two sides battle it out over various episodes, all the while learning more about their own tragic past and how to have normal relationships.

Review: This was one of the earlier anime series I ever watched, probably back in early 2000. As far as comedies go there are still some scenes that the wife and I reminisce about even today. The three marionettes have distinct personalities and very unique powers. This series is squarely aimed at a teen crowd and does not cover very many adult themes. The overall story is enjoyable and it is a fine yarn for a lazy day. The characters are memorable and you get a decent sense of depth from each of them. They want to be human and spend time with Otaru and all are effectively in love with him by the end. This could have taken some hentai turns if they wanted to (I'm sure the fanfic exists), but they didn't. Animation is certainly dated by current standards, but the plot and character value are plenty for keeping your interest. The story does have a few slow points, but overall it is a good collection piece to add. (top)






Samurai Champloo

Samurai Champloo


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Samurai Champloo Go to the AniDB article for Samurai Champloo See a YouTube clip for Samurai Champloo
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 26
Tags: action, martial arts, mature
Date Added: 12/May/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 9
Character Development: 9
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 8
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 8.40/10

Description: This was brought to us by the same director for Cowboy Bebop, and the style shows. The series chronicles the eclectic adventures of two Ronin (Jin and Mugen) that meet by chance and reluctantly agree to assist a young woman named Fuu in her search for a samurai who "smells of sunflowers." The story takes place in real world Japan circa 1700 or so, and starts off with Mugen walking into a bar at which Fuu works to see her about to get a finger or two cut off by some Yakuza. Although he isn't interested in the girl, he loves to fight and takes on the whole group for the fun of it. After laying waste to them, we are quickly introduced to Jin, a much-more reserved warrior. He killed several people himself earlier in the episode and the two fighters come face to face for the first time and instantly feel the pull to fight and see who is more skilled, and who will die. The two seem well matched and are unable to finish each other off. Ultimately, the pair get arrested and sentenced to death for their "murderous" ways. Fuu helps them escape and after fleeing town the two warriors agree to a truce from killing each other until they can assist Fuu in her quest to uncover this mysterious samurai. The series follows their wandering journeys together as they uncover clues which will lead them to a climactic showdown with some very bad men.

Review: The artwork is very good, the music has a decided hip-hop blend to it, and the story is intriguing on many levels. Some of the side characters show up more than once, and although people pretty much die in every episode, it's not gory. Some of the plot elements introduced as early as episodes 1-2 aren't explained until very late in the story. The ending was interesting. I thought it could have been better, but it wasn't a let down. The language is sometimes jarring for an anime series, but does not detract from what it tries to accomplish. Mugen and Jin are used to traveling in rough crowds and are never shy when it comes to words and actions.

One of my favorite side tracks was where the group played baseball against some American sailors. The rules were a little loose, and before I saw this, I never could have imagined a samurai playing baseball, let alone being any good at it. The wife and I still talk about this segment sometimes. Although the majority of the series was serious, there were several lighter moments which shined. Animation grade: A-, story: A-, action sequences: A+, 24-26 episodes. Overall, a very worthwhile addition to any collection. (top)






Scrapped Princess

Scrapped Princess


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Scrapped Princess Go to the AniDB article for Scrapped Princess See a YouTube clip for Scrapped Princess
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 24
Tags: adventure, fantasy, magic, sci-fi
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 6
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 6.60/10

Description: An interesting twist of the story of Oedipus. A princess is due to be born and it is prophesied that on her 16th birthday that she will bring death and complete destruction to the entire world. Although grieved over the foretelling of their child, the king orders the newborn babe thrown over a cliff and dashed to pieces on the rocks below. Somehow the child survives and grows up. We pick up in the story near her 16th birthday. The series takes place in a medieval fantasy setting with knights, clergy, assassins, magic wielders, etc. Early on in the series you are left to wonder about that as there are evidences of great technology of times past. This all comes to light throughout the series. The kingdom becomes aware the of child's existence through the clergy who have received revelation that the girl lives, so it sends out a group of people to kill her. This scrapped princess is being protected by a few people who do not believe that she really is capable of global destruction and seek to take her out of the borders of the kingdom before the government agents can track them down and kill them. The series focuses on the hunt of the princess and the journey she takes with her protectors to safeguard her. The princess herself is kindhearted and doesn't know if she really is destined to destroy the world and has some self-loathing issues to deal with. Plots, intrigues, ecclesiastical manipulation, war, magic, love, and forbidden technology all make up some nasty surprised for both sides of this fight, and it all comes down to a set of very large and reckless encounters near the end.

Review: I found the series enjoyable and although it wasn't as awesome as Cowboy Bebop, I rate this series in my top 10 anime list. Animation is grade B+/A- and it ended well without any craziness or hoo hah surprises at the end. 24 episodes. The blend of magic and sci-fi was interesting, and although it's not a groundbreaking approach, it was well done. Also, you get some sense of closure at the end of the series which so many lack. (top)






Seirei No Moribito

Seirei No Moribito


Name Variant: Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Seirei No Moribito Go to the AniDB article for Seirei No Moribito See a YouTube clip for Seirei No Moribito
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 26
Tags: action, adventure, magic, martial arts
Date Added: 05/Jan/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 9
Character Development: 9
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 6

OVERALL SCORE: 7.80/10

Description: I think that the English translation of this is roughly Guardian of the Sacred Spirit. A spear-wielding woman by the name of Balsa, who works as a mercenary/bodyguard rescues the crown prince from certain death when the carriage he is in goes off a bridge. Because of her heroics, she gets an invitation to the imperial palace where the second empress expresses her thanks. She also reveals that there is a plot by the emperor to have this same child killed because he has become possessed with the spirit of the water demon. Balsa agrees to protect the child as a bodyguard and has numerous encounters with palace assassins who are sent to cut her down and bring the prince back. Balsa, and a core group of friends must take the time they have to discover a way to rid the prince of the burden he carries while protecting him from a foe that has limitless resources. The story follows Balsa on her quest to protect the prince and learn the truth.

Review: The action in the series comes in spurts. It is truer to life in that regard. They focus on the reality of the situation that the people are in (as real as any situation involving magic can be) and make a good story out of it. The animation is very good and quite lifelike in many places. There are no manga moments to spoil things, nor whiny kids, just pure hunt/chase interspersed with action. I think that they extended the final episode one scene too long, but otherwise an enjoyable series, suitable for pre-teens. The resolution was not perfect, but it was acceptable. A definite "winner" addition to anyone's list. (top)






Shakugan No Shana

Shakugan No Shana


Name Variant: Shana
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Shakugan No Shana Go to the AniDB article for Shakugan No Shana See a YouTube clip for Shakugan No Shana
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 24
Tags: action, angst, fantasy, magic, school life
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 6
Character Development: 5
Plot: 6
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 6

OVERALL SCORE: 5.80/10

Description: An interesting premise starts this series off. There are creatures which feed on the life force of human beings, but can operate, via magic, in a space which is outside of our time. Their feeding can kill the people they consume, and as a result, the protectors of our kind, who battle these evil creatures will put in a temporary place holder to help ease the pain of loss this would have on the world balance. It is described as the loss of a person would be like a ledge loosing a supporting wall suddenly. The replacement is like ice, that melts over time. That gradual melting allows for a more smooth transition and the shock to the overall system is lesser. Once the person is gone for good, it is as if they never existed. The main character dies in the first episode, and has to come to grips with the fact that he is on borrowed time. He uses his remaining time to help hunt down and kill the creatures which affected him, but discovers some new things about himself and his new companion along the way.

Review: The animation is grade B. This is a worthwhile series from the plot stand point, but the character depth is a little weak. Some interesting relationships help keep things fresh, and love triangles make the world go round. Some of the fights were resolved too easily, but you can't have everything. A good TDY series with 24 episodes. (top)






Speed Grapher

Speed Grapher


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Speed Grapher Go to the AniDB article for Speed Grapher See a YouTube clip for Speed Grapher
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 26
Tags: action, drama, magic, mature
Date Added: 03/Jun/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 8
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 7.20/10

Description: In the near future, a large war pitted the wealthy against the poor. Following the conclusion to this war, a new society was set up, centered in Japan, which catered to the rich at the expense of everyone else. At the center of this decadence is a secret club that can cater to your every desire, if the price is right. An intrepid photographer, name Saiga managed to gain entry to the secret club as part of a story he was working on. Unfortunately, after taking the picture of the club's "goddess", he became a marked man, sentenced to die. Although he managed to escape the club, with the goddess in tow, through some bizarre circumstances, he found that strange powers had awoken within him, causing his camera to become a lethal weapon. This series focuses on the relationship formed between Saiga and the goddess, and their fight to stay alive in the treacherous world of modern Japan. Their struggle serves as a backdrop to the real action of the power plays of the wealthy against one another.

Review: I found this series to be interesting and difficult to put down. It explored some dark areas, and some of the people in this series were real perverts and/or totally corrupted by money/power. It was surprising to see some of the twists that this show threw in, but some of the plot points were also expected. You get a real sense of most of the main characters, and some of the emotions that they deal with are well done. The show is definitely mature and NOT for children. Some of the violence is graphic, but none of the sex is. Every episode has some amount of intrigue and backstabbing in it, and plenty of action. People die a lot and life is so very cheap. The animation is a little poor in some areas, and the music is nothing to write home about, but the character development and plot is quite good. I recommend the series for a more adult audience. (top)






Spice and Wolf

Spice and Wolf


Name Variant: Ookami to Koushinryou
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Spice and Wolf Go to the AniDB article for Spice and Wolf See a YouTube clip for Spice and Wolf
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 12
Tags: adventure, fantasy
Date Added: 21/Apr/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 8
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 9

OVERALL SCORE: 7.80/10

Description: As a general rule the wife and I do not like animorphs, or furries (humanoids with animal features, typically tails, ears, and teeth, with most other things being decidely human). So it was with some trepidation that we started watching this series, but our faith was well rewarded by this intelligent drama. In medieval times a traveling merchant by the name of Lawrence Craft makes regular trips to various villages in pursuit of his mercantile goals. One such village called Pasoe has a tradition in which they offer sacrifice to a wolf god named Horo in exchange for a bountiful harvest. The people of the village ultimately decide that with their advances in science, that they don't need Horo anymore. As a result Horo decides to leave, showing up in the merchant's cart in the body of a sleeping, naked young woman complete with bushy wolf's tail, perky ears, and canine teeth. After convincing the merchant the she really is Horo, and stealing his best clothes to cover up with, they agree upon a contract where she will use her wisdom to help in his mercantile deals while he will help her return to her homeland in the far north. The series follows their exploits towards the northern lands and the difficulties they are placed under due to her being an animorph in a land beholden to a pervasive church (think Catholic church in medieval times) who would view her as someone possessed by the devil.

Review: The show is heavy in economics and mercantile exchange, with plots, counterplots, intrigue, betrayal, and even some wolf-god smack down. The economics actually were a strong point of the series that helped make it unique from so many other series we've watched. The other part about the series that's good is that they spend time developing the relationship between Horo and Lawrence (who loves trading spices, hence the name "Spice"). I wish that there was some more in that area, and it was somewhat unresolved at the end, leaving room for a follow-on. The series has 13 total episodes, one of which is a recap episode (effectively wasted), so it's really a 12 episode series. Animation is fairly crisp, but not great, grade B+/A-. Dialogue is clever and the action sequences are interspersed well throughout the series. Suitable for children to watch and a great addition to any collection. We watched the entire series in 2 days and were sad when it was over. We wanted more, and luckily a second season has been confirmed, with all of the original voice actors, so it should be great. (top)






Spice and Wolf 2

Spice and Wolf 2


Name Variant: Ookami to Koushinryou II
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Spice and Wolf 2 Go to the AniDB article for Spice and Wolf 2 See a YouTube clip for Spice and Wolf 2
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 12
Tags: drama, fantasy, magic, romance
Date Added: 20/Nov/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 7
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 8
X-Factor: 6

OVERALL SCORE: 7.00/10

Description: The second season continues the sage of Horo and Craft Lawrence as they continue on their journeys. From the first season Horo and Lawrence had a deal that he would help her get home. In this series they meet with some adventure along the way, but also have to begin to deal with the reality that once they reach their destination, they no longer have any direct contractual ties to keep each other together. They both struggle with expressing their emotions as the date of their separation approaches.

Review: I do not believe that the second season was as good as the first one was. Some of the plot machinations are deep enough that they required a little thought and consideration before I could truly figure them out. Craft in many instances is an idiot man (females reading this can go, "duh.") who can't really express what his feelings are, but Horo comes off more as a confused teenager (whose body she inhabits) then as a wise wolf god. I don't know if that was intentional from the stand point of a target audience, or just a fact that it's been hundreds of years since she's been in love.

The plot follows the pair through three story arcs in the 12 episodes. All of them involve some angle that would break apart Lawrence and Horo, and forces them to analyze their behavior. However, I will say that the situations and feelings they caused were all distinctly different. I believe that fans of the first season would like the series continuation, but I would not recommend this as a starting point if you haven't seen the first series. Suitable for kids. (top)






Spiral

Spiral


Name Variant: Spiral: Suiri no Kizuna
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Spiral Go to the AniDB article for Spiral See a YouTube clip for Spiral
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 25
Tags: school life, thriller
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 6
Character Development: 6
Plot: 9
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 7.00/10

Description: I didn't really know what to expect when I first started watching this series, because it was kind of like Encyclopedia Brown, but dealt with murder cases. The focus of the first 2 episodes is misleading, as the story line firms up and moves in a new direction thereafter. The main character is a 16-18 year old high school student who is incredibly smart and has great deductive powers. His sister-in-law is a homicide detective for the police andis in charge of officially investigating the murders he looks into solving as well. Her husband, and the main character's brother, disappeared about a year before the series started in search of something called "Blade Children". After the kid breaks a few cases involving these Blade Children (much to the continual annoyance of his sis-in-law), he arouses their interest and they decide to test him with deadly consequences, should he fail.

Review: Surprise! He never finds out what Blade Children are through the entire series, although he does get heavily involved with them, and tries to help them from being killed by some other group in an effort to locate his brother. You don't really find out much about the "other" group, besides that they are somehow tied to the "nefarious" government. There are some very smart things in the series and it is not silly at all. It is mostly a drama that centers around a strange group of individuals who somehow are special, and the deadly games they play. No fancy tech, no magic, no aliens, just everyday things in the series. I think it appealed to me as a series because it was placed in a modern setting with nothing crazy involved. It was disappointing that the series ended with so many unanswered questions, but I didn't feel upset by that, just a little jilted. The story arc is more or less continuous, so a complete watching from start to finish is a good idea if you plan to get into this one. 25 episodes. Animation grade B. (top)






Spirited Away

Spirited Away


Name Variant: Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Spirited Away Go to the AniDB article for Spirited Away See a YouTube clip for Spirited Away
Production Type: Movie
Tags: adventure, fantasy, magic
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 9
Character Development: 9
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 8
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 8.40/10

Description: Yet another Miyazaki film. This follows the course of a girl who gets transported into a parallel or different place/time from where she calls home. To make matters worse, her parents get turned into pigs for eating the food that belongs to a crazy witch who runs a bath house for the gods. The girl is then forced to work in the bath house in order to eat and find a way to help save her parents. Many people are interested in this girl and want to use her for their own ends. She is befriended by a young boy who is also forced to work for the witch. They work to try and save each other from the witch's cruelty, and help her get home with her parents in tact.

Review: The animation is very, very good, and although the plot could only come from the Japanese, it works. Follow the course of the movie and learn more information about the characters, and the strange nether world in which they live. Witness the effects of corruption and avarice, and how the love of a little girl can change people for the better. My kids love this DVD. Good English dubs are available. Animation grade A. (top)






Straight Jacket

Straight Jacket


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Straight Jacket Go to the AniDB article for Straight Jacket See a YouTube clip for Straight Jacket
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 3
Tags: action, fantasy, horror, magic, sci-fi, thriller
Date Added: 01/Oct/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 8
Character Development: 5
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 6.80/10

Description: 100 years ago mankind scientifically proved the existence of magic through experimentation (at a religious institution no less. We're mixing all the genres here!) and developed ways to harness it for use in all fields. Eventually they discovered that those who overused magic eventually succumbed to a transformative process that turned them into a "demon." They basically became high-powered, killing machines that could only be killed with more magic. By this time, however, mankind had come to depend upon magic too much to let it go. As a result two developments were undertaken. First, they created a device known as a "mold" that allowed magical practitioners to safely use their power without fear of transformation. Second, they created a trained corps of mages called "tactical sorcerers," who were used to combat unconventional threats. These sorcerers were heavily clad in armor and had a BFG9000 equivalent to dispense spell power. Magical use weakened a mold. The more powerful the magic, the more damage it did. You had a time limit, therefore, to deal with magical threats.

Review: Our story picks up with the nation's sorcerers called to the front lines to help out in the war effort with a rival superpower. At home, mean while, the number of demonic transformations has increased (with possible terrorist implications). With a pinch on available tactical sorcerers, the authorities are forced to turn to an unlicensed sorcerer for help. He gets the job done, but has his own style (usually resulting in massive collateral damage). The series is a 3-part OVA that explores the setting and provides some good backdrop for a longer series, which may or may not be coming. The animation was crisp, the dialog acceptable, and the action sequences were well paced. They did not revel in gore, but they did not shy away from it either. The entire compilation takes just over 1 hr to play through and is well worth a look. I would very much like to see this setting expanded. (top)






Summer Wars

Summer Wars


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Summer Wars Go to the AniDB article for Summer Wars See a YouTube clip for Summer Wars
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, comedy, drama, sci-fi, slice of life
Date Added: 25/Jun/10

DP Ratings

Animation: 9
Character Development: 8
Plot: 9
Sound/Music: 8
X-Factor: 9

OVERALL SCORE: 8.60/10

Description: A young math prodigy, Kenji, is recruited by his secret crush (and highly popular) Natsuki, to come and work at her house for a short while under the auspices of a summer job. When he shows up he finds out that the real job is to pretend to be her fianc?, which causes all sorts of issues. While the fallout from this misadventure is taking place, a strange text message appears on Kenji's cell phone with a math challenge problem. After solving it he is horrified to realize that it was the key to cracking the supposedly super-strong encryption to a massive virtual world, Oz, which is tied into virtually all aspects of daily life. Kenji is then internationally accused of being the mastermind behind the massive service disruptions plaguing Oz. With the help of some friends, both new and old, Kenji moves to take back the virtual world from the thief that stole it, and stop some major real-world catastrophes from happening before its too late.

Review: I was skeptical of how good this movie would be after reading the initial plot summary, but my hat is off to the writers of this story as it was amazingly good. I would recommend this movie to audiences of all ages as an excellent example of how good Japanese anime can be. The story flowed quite well. Although the individuals involved were all flawed in some way, they were imminently likeable and real. The interactions of the family, how they treated each other, and the power of the grand matriarch in bringing everyone together rang true to life. The voice acting was good with proper emotion, and everyone looked realistic in size, hair coloring, and figures. I think that this is one of the best anime films that I have seen in a long, long time. A+ (top)






Sword of the Stranger

Sword of the Stranger


Name Variant: Stranger: Mukou Hadan
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Sword of the Stranger Go to the AniDB article for Sword of the Stranger See a YouTube clip for Sword of the Stranger
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, drama, martial arts, mature
Date Added: 24/May/11

DP Ratings

Animation: 10
Character Development: 9
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 8
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 8.60/10

Description: A small child and his faithful dog are pursued in Medieval Japan by a group of Chinese imperial agents. During their flight they cross paths with a ronin who saves the boy's life, beginning the start of a testy relationship in which the ronin promises to deliver the boy to supposed safety. However, after delivering the child, it is discovered that the place in question is not as safe as originally discovered, causing the ronin to leap back into action, intent on saving the child before the Chinese agents can sacrifice him in a dark ritual.

Review: This movie provides compellingly real and graphic animation for a well-written story draped around a series of fairly intense fight scenes. I would not recommend this movie to children, as it is too graphic, but it is a fantastic movie for mature audiences. The pace is brisk and you get just enough background to understand the motivations of the main characters. There are no surprise plot angles nor crazy endings, just a solid carve-'em-up, martial arts showpiece. There is surprising depth in the relationship between the ronin and his charge, and the characters came across as quite believable. This movie delivers on pretty much all fronts for a non-series entrant and is heartily recommended to anyone. (top)






The Animatrix

The Animatrix


Name Variant: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animatrix
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for The Animatrix Go to the AniDB article for The Animatrix See a YouTube clip for The Animatrix
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, drama, horror, mature, sci-fi, thriller
Date Added: 24/Aug/11

DP Ratings

Animation: 8
Character Development: 6
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 7.40/10

Description: Based upon the Matrix universe created for the movie franchise bearing the same name, Animatrix is a collection of 8-9 video shorts that explore different facets of the storyline, from the original days of the matrix's creation, to stories of those caught up in the matrix, and those who are only painfully too aware of its reality. Each story is unique in its telling and holds both good and bad things within them.

Review: I won't attempt to review each short contained within the animatrix. General impressions are that the content is mature in nature and although some of the shorts would be acceptable for viewing among all audiences, many are decidedly adult in nature. Considering the movie world this anime collection is based upon, that shouldn't be a big surprise.

Individual segments are done by different animation studios and directors. Some of the animation is pure CG, others is hallmark animation of some American studios, and others are decidedly Japanese in origins. Due to the changing styles (some which play better than others) it's hard to give an overall animation rating, as it is with the musical score, however, generally it all works. Some of the shorts were much more enjoyable than others, but I imagine that there is a bit for everyone there. Most people would not be watching this collection of anime shorts if they were not fans of the movie, but stranger things can happen. Bottom line: if you liked The Matrix movie(s) and are a fan of animation, then I recommend the collection for viewing. Otherwise, the content itself won't make much sense logically. I would also recommended this movie for the fans of sci-fi. (top)






The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya


Name Variant: Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Go to the AniDB article for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya See a YouTube clip for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 2
Episode Count: 28
Tags: comedy, ecchi, magic, school life, sci-fi
Date Added: 30/Nov/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 6
Character Development: 7
Plot: 6
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 9

OVERALL SCORE: 7.00/10

Description: Haruhi Suzumiya is naturally gifted at everything she does, whether in school, sports, or life in general. She has an amazing knack for finding just what she was looking for. On her first day of highschool she announces, to everyone's surprise, that she is only interested in aliens, time travelers, and espers. Determined to break through her shell, a classmate starts talking to her and unintentionally gives her the idea to form her own club seeking after these things. The story follows their mutual exploits at uncovering mysteries and generating exciting, with a little bit of fan service thrown into the midst.

Review: 12 Jan 2009: Considered a cult classic in Japan, this series has been one of those rare gems that makes you go hmmm. A word of caution, when watching this series, DO NOT WATCH EPISODE 00 FIRST. You have been warned. If you do watch that episode first, then you will have a series WTF moment wondering what just happened, assuming you can even watch the whole thing. It is not explained until very late in the series and is part of a student film project and is NOT representational of the series in any way, shape, or form. You have been warned.

Haruhi can literally make things happen just by thinking about them (making her a god), so it's very bad for her to get bored. Life might cease to exist! (Try not to read any Freud into this, k?) The series is a comedy and has some really funny moments. Haruhi is an interesting individual, and we'll leave it at that. The story follows the boy who's been roped into the SOS Brigade and his interactions with other members of the club. There is rumor of a second series, and if so, I'll certainly check it out. For an anime that is different, this is the one for you. Animation is grade B/B+, but at only 13 episodes, you can't go wrong.

30 Nov 2009 update: I watched the whole series again with the family and also included the second series into the mix. The second series is new content which is interwoven into the original series and spends some more time explaining some of the back story. It is not meant to be watched independently of the first episode. If you buy the DVD, there is a new ordering of content that puts everything in chronological order. In consideration between the two series, I have to admit that I like the first series as it is and the second season didn't really do too much for me. The first series was just as good as I remember, and in this instance I think that they didn't take much of an effort to recapture the magic and the company was just looking to make a few bucks. In short, skip the second season and just watch the original. (top)






The Story of Saiunkoku

The Story of Saiunkoku


Name Variant: Saiunkoku Monogatari
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for The Story of Saiunkoku Go to the AniDB article for The Story of Saiunkoku See a YouTube clip for The Story of Saiunkoku
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 39
Tags: angst, drama, harem, martial arts, romance
Date Added: 04/Sep/10

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 8
Plot: 9
Sound/Music: 7
X-Factor: 8

OVERALL SCORE: 7.80/10

Description: Adapted from a series of light novels, this anime adaptation tells the story of Shuurei, the daughter of a distinguished noble clan whose family has fallen under hard times. An advisor to the king comes to their home and offers her a once-in-a-lifetime deal of a vast sum of money for Shuurei to become the king's escort (similar to concubine). Shuurei only agrees because her family could desperately use the funds and because the king is homosexual. Things turn upside down for Shuurei very quickly when she finds out that the king is nothing like what she bargained for. Shuurei gets swept into court intrigue and politics and winds up changing the political map in China forever.

Review: This story is a historical fiction romance set in ancient China. The animation is beautifully drawn in still scenes (and some of the men are prettier than the women) but the general movement of characters is somewhat basic. The plot itself is very interesting and there is an actual sense of drama woven into the story. I normally don't go for reverse harem plot lines, but this story worked quite well. Some of the actions of the main characters at times can be unrealistic, and not strictly true to life (e.g., such as the king going to save someone instead of sending the royal guards to do so), but is done to keep the main characters on the screen. I wasn't certain where the story was going to go after the initial arc, but I found it interesting and entertaining the whole way. There is a second season to the story in which there are another 39 episodes that pick up where the last one left off. It is a heart-warming story about the triumph of good ideals and friends overcoming the scheming plans of those who lust for power. The series is suitable for young viewers. (top)






They Are My Noble Masters

They Are My Noble Masters


Name Variant: Kimi ga Aruji de Shitsuji ga Ore de: They Are My Noble Masters
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for They Are My Noble Masters Go to the AniDB article for They Are My Noble Masters See a YouTube clip for They Are My Noble Masters
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 13
Tags: comedy, ecchi, harem
Date Added: 16/Apr/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 5
Plot: 6
Sound/Music: 5
X-Factor: 4

OVERALL SCORE: 5.40/10

Description: a brother (Ren) and sister pair flee an abusive home to try and strike out on their own. After a long day of not finding any work, Ren does an act of kindness to a girl as she is fainting, and together with his sister, they carry her back to her home. For this kindness they are offered dinner and a provisional opportunity for employment as servants within the home, assuming they can pass a 1 week trial period. After passing this period they are integrated into the odd family as full members. The series focuses on the personal interaction between the servants in the household and the three masters, all sisters, from young (14ish) to older (25ish). The family head, a famous symphony conductor, has some weird sister fetishes, but otherwise is pretty normal (for anime). Ren and his sister have to learn not only what it means to be a servant, but what it means to be in a family, as this is something that they've never previously experienced.

Review: This is not strictly harem anime, though the men are outnumbered by women. There are some fan service moments (heavy in the first 3 episodes compared to the rest of the series) and the end credits revolve around showing the women of the series in their underwear/lingerie, but otherwise it's meant to be a comedy/drama, depending upon which episode you watch. I would rate it PG13 for the fan service moments, and is generally good if that part is discounted (unless that's your thing). The ending is ripe for a follow-on series. The manga it is based on is currently serialized in a anime magazine, and will likely have an OVA special sooner or later as new content comes out. The series/manga was originally based on an H-game (adult situational video game), but the series didn't really go into this territory at all (thankfully). Guilty Pleasure series. (top)






Trigun

Trigun


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Trigun Go to the AniDB article for Trigun See a YouTube clip for Trigun
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 26
Tags: action, comedy, sci-fi, thriller
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 6
Character Development: 7
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 5
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 6.60/10

Description: follows the story of Vash: The Stampede, the $60B man. You find that early on there is someone responsible for such devastation and slaughter that he has a bounty of $60B on his head. You get to eventually meet the guy and follow his sense of humor. This is a comedy/drama set in a future world of unknown origin, though it is a Wild, Wild West genre in the truest sense.

Review: The series has more drama than humor, though that is mixed in throughout. A few notable characters make for an interesting cast. Only two or three of the characters really shine, and some seem to just be window dressing, but overall the series is enjoyable. People die, but not in a graphic manner, at least not most of the time. The ending of the series was a little weak, but not nearly as bad as some others I've seen. Vash is interesting because he does his very best not to kill people, and is an incredible shot. Most people want to bring him in for the bounty, and he just wants some peace and love. The anime has some campy bits to it and it is childlike in some regards (catlike faces for being clever, angry overdrawn welts for emotion, crying rivers, etc.), but for certain segments they have done a lot of detail in the drawing for nice shots. Worth the purchase/download. 24-26 episodes overall (top)






True Tears

True Tears


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for True Tears Go to the AniDB article for True Tears
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 13
Tags: angst, harem, school life
Date Added: 12/May/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 6
Plot: 6
Sound/Music: 5
X-Factor: 6

OVERALL SCORE: 6.00/10

Description: Slice of life, love-polygon, coming of age story. A boy and girl (Hiromi) are friends growing up, by nature of the close relationship of the two sets of parents. An accident leaves the girl's parents dead and she moves in to the house as a new member of the family. The boy had feelings for the girl, but because she lives with him now the whole thing has become pretty weird. Additionally complicating matters, the mother is being a total witch to Hiromi at every opportunity when she is alone with her. Early on the boy meets a younger girl named Noe who takes an instant liking to him. A friendly relationship develops between the two, but wouldn't have gone further without the boy being backed into a corner by the intervention of Noe's brother. The boy gets the brother to agree to go out with Hiromi as part of the deal and the two pairs struggle with their circumstances before coming to realize their true feelings, coming to a head at the winter festival.

Review: Several nasty surprises (true "oh snap!" moments) are revealed along the way. It shows how truly petty some people can be, but also shows the loving and caring side of others. What would you do for love? Several people find out what love is and also true tears. Animation grade: B+, character development: B, plot: B, 13 episodes. A good TDY series. (top)






Vampire Hunter D

Vampire Hunter D


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Vampire Hunter D Go to the AniDB article for Vampire Hunter D See a YouTube clip for Vampire Hunter D
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, fantasy, horror, magic, mature, thriller
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 7
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 7.00/10

Description: You have to know some background on "D", as he is called, to fully understand this movie, but no background is necessary to get the story itself. D is a dampire (IIRC), a part human-part vampire who hunts down and destroys vampires, similar to Wesley Snipes in Blade. Part of each world, belonging to neither. The story takes place in the vastly distant future, in which the world has revolved to a more agrarian lifestyle, but still has tons of tech popping up in the oddest places. The world has also become overrun with badness. Giants, vampires, werewolves, and more are not just stories, but known real-world entities. Society lives on the edge of extermination, little more than cattle with a sense of their helplessness, but knowing that they won't all be killed, because their dark lords must feed. D becomes involved with a local girl who is targeted by the main vampire for "acquisition", rising to what he needs to be, in order to bring some sense of safety back to the world.

Review: Rated "R" in the states in its release, I've seen PG-13 movies that are worse. There is plenty of violence, don't get me wrong, but I don't think "R" was strictly justified. Animation is grade B+, story is unique enough not be too clich? with the vampire hunter/dracula thing. If you like vampires and/or horror, then this is a must see. There was a follow-on movie Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust which I have not yet seen. (top)






Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust

Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust Go to the AniDB article for Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust See a YouTube clip for Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust
Production Type: Movie
Tags: action, adventure, fantasy, horror, mature
Date Added: 08/Apr/09

DP Ratings

Animation: 9
Character Development: 7
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 8
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 7.80/10

Description: We meet the infamous Vampire Hunter: D for a new installment of this franchise. After a vampire noble kidnaps the daughter of a powerful man, he hires several groups of bounty hunters to get her back. D is the one everyone calls when you need the best, as he is a hunter without equal. He takes the offer to bring this man's daughter home, or ensure her death if it is too late to save her humanity. Now D must fight against some very powerful foes, all the while competing with another group of mercenaries for the prize of rescuing the fair maiden. What happens when the maiden does not want to be rescued?

Review: This movie takes place in the very distant future in which there are still remnants of fantastical technology, but in a land overrun with creatures of the night that feed upon humankind. D takes on them all in his quest to sever the nobles from this earth, even though he himself is half vampire.

The interplay with the various humans in the story is well done, and the dialog does not disappoint. Although the movie had plenty of action scenes and fights, I would hesitate to call it an action film. It is a well-written story that happens to have many elements in it. There is very good animation and the scenes never feel rushed. Everything moves along at a good clip coming up to a satisfying conclusion. I listened to the movie in Japanese with English subtitles, but I have heard that the English dubbing is of high quality. This movie was rated R in the US but I do not know why, as I have seen worse PG-13 movies. There was almost no nudity, no real graphic violence, and virtually no profanity. Perhaps the dark subject matter garnered the rating. In any event, this is an excellent movie to add to a collection if you like the supernatural, outstanding animation, good plots, or vampires in general. (top)






Vision of Escaflowne

Vision of Escaflowne


Name Variant: Tenkuu no Escaflowne
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Vision of Escaflowne Go to the AniDB article for Vision of Escaflowne See a YouTube clip for Vision of Escaflowne
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 26
Tags: action, adventure, angst, fantasy, magic, mecha, sci-fi
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 7
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 6.80/10

Description: my second full-length series. Another series that got a little weird at the end. A young girl who is a track star somehow gets ripped into another dimension that has earth as a moon. She is thrust into a very aggressive battle-torn world that uses mecha as the ultimate fighting tool of warfare. These mecha are considerably smaller than the ones you'd find in other series, as they are little bigger than men themselves. The story focuses on the track girl (Hitomi?), Van (the guy who somehow brings her over), and a few other important characters as they try to stop the global superpower from destroying the land of free men.

Review: The plot doesn't get too crazy, but provides some good fighting scenes. People die, there is blood, and it is PG-13 violent. Some things in the series are really cool. The English dubs are not the best, but subtitles are very good. Near the end they don't sum everything up as well as they could, but they do bring a decent conclusion to it all. They also delve into the connection between user and mecha that is missing in many other series. Animation is grade: B+, plot: B+, character development: B+. 26 episodes (top)






Witch Hunter Robin

Witch Hunter Robin


Name Variant: N/A
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for Witch Hunter Robin Go to the AniDB article for Witch Hunter Robin See a YouTube clip for Witch Hunter Robin
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 1
Episode Count: 26
Tags: action, magic, sci-fi, thriller
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 6
Character Development: 7
Plot: 7
Sound/Music: 5
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 6.40/10

Description: Witch Hunter Robin is based upon a society in which witches (those that practice magic) are hunted by the church. Magic manifests itself in different ways and times, sometimes to disastrous results. Robin, is herself a witch, but gains sanctuary by using her powers for good. She joins up with a group of hunters that go after the bad witches and warlocks out there. In order to incapacitate the magic slingers the team has not only Robin, but also some serum which is anti-magic. Near the end of the series you get an understanding of where this serum comes from and how it was developed, but it is never really fleshed out in the series. I've never looked at the manga, so perhaps it is fully explained there.

Review: Throughout the series you get a better sense for the characters as well as the mission that they espouse, but as they delve deeper into the magical world, and start asking too many questions, they become a threat to their parent organization, which (surprise) isn't all that good and noble. The series builds up a terrible pace and momentum through several late episodes that force you to watch "just one more". Unfortunately they can't keep the pace going and you get left hanging slightly before it picks back up and ends, which is a little weak. Animation is grade B. There are sections where the animation is poor, but in other cases it's fine. An interesting series worth checking out. 26 episodes. English dubbing is poor quality. (top)






You're Under Arrest The Motion Picture

You're Under Arrest The Motion Picture


Name Variant: Taiho Shichauzo The Movie
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for You're Under Arrest The Motion Picture Go to the AniDB article for You're Under Arrest The Motion Picture See a YouTube clip for You're Under Arrest The Motion Picture
Production Type: Movie
Tags: adventure, thriller
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 7
Character Development: 6
Plot: 8
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 6

OVERALL SCORE: 6.60/10

Description: A movie based on the manga and 2 seasons of the show. All of the main and support characters from the precinct are in this movie which has the street cops try and chase down some major car thieves (I think). Although they try their best to catch the thieves and lay traps for them, they somehow manage to continue to slip through their fingers.

Review: The animation is a small notch above the series and is pure cop-on-the-street drama. I think that the movie is better than pretty much 95% of all of the 99 odd episodes in the series. Although you could watch it as a stand alone, it is better if you have the first season under your belt before watching. Available in subtitles only. (top)






You're Under Arrest!

You're Under Arrest!


Name Variant: Taiho Shichau zo: You're Under Arrest
External Information: Go to the Wikipedia article for You're Under Arrest! Go to the AniDB article for You're Under Arrest!
Production Type: Series
Seasons: 3
Episode Count: 99
Tags: action, angst, comedy
Date Added: 11/Mar/08

DP Ratings

Animation: 6
Character Development: 7
Plot: 5
Sound/Music: 6
X-Factor: 7

OVERALL SCORE: 6.20/10

Description: follows the stories of traffic cops on the mean streets of Tokyo. It is a light-hearted series that is more like a weekly soap opera for teenagers than anything else. The story is all about relationships, unrequited love, and plenty of car chases.

Review: Most of the stories are funny but some of the plot devices (AKA the crazy baseball dude) get overplayed, and others are filled with angst. The story is subtitled only, so far as I know. If you watch a few episodes, you get can get hooked in the way that you always watched those after-school shows like Saved By the Bell. This one isn't as campy as that type of drivel, but after a while you find yourself asking why you care about what happens to these people, and yet somehow you do. The show grows on you. I watched the whole thing on a 2-month TDY to Baghdad, so maybe I was starved for entertainment. YMMV. season 1: 52 episodes, season 2: 26 episodes. I have not yet seen season 3, but it is on tap for review. The final episode in season 2 answers most of the questions you would have, which is so rare in anime series. The series was based on the manga, which is ok, but nothing I'd hunt long and hard for to see. Bittorrent will suffice. There are also two OVA's, but you should stay away from those. They are not worth your time. There was a movie (see below) that is pretty much all drama that is pretty good. (top)






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