Sunday, March 30, 2008

Stellvia of the Universe

Full Title: Stellvia of the Universe
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Romance, Science Fiction
Episodes: 26
Uploaded By: Mavrik
My Age Rating: PG (Mild Language, Violence)

The year is 2356 A.D, 186 earth cycles around the sun since a galactically close supernova explosion wiped out 99% of the world's population. Humanity has since rebuilt itself and is living quite peacefully, but the next wave, which although starting at the same time as the first carries significantly more mass/energy and therefore accelerated slower thereby lagging 186 years behind the first, is coming in fast. Shima Katase, a child prodigy and recent Space Academy qualifier, is on her way to Stellvia, an earth-based "foundation" and school in space, to see the galaxy and make something of herself. Although it serves as an education space station, Stellvia is also highly involved in the training of space cadets and the protection of Earth from the rapidly approaching second wave that could spell not only the end of all the characters lives but also the permanent destruction of mankind.

When it comes right down to it, this show has two equal and distinct personalities, and although they do intermesh nicely, you'll probably have to be a fan of both to fully enjoy the series. The first side is your average space drama with people and machines trying to save the earth from disaster, exploring space, piloting spaceships, yada, yada, yada. The second side of the anime is a school romance with characters falling in love, having relational issues and love insecurities, finding their special one and never letting go, etc. If you like space drama but hate school romances (or visa versa), odds are this show will merely be an above average view. If you enjoy them both, you'll love it. The story is also a sort of coming of age story for Shima, as she gets passed her awkward social graces and shyness with the help of friends (sounds corny, right? Actually, it's not). (On a less serious note, another thing I think this anime was trying to do was see just how weird they could get away with drawing the character's hairstyles. There's nothing bad about that, just kinda strange is all...)

Overall, the series was produced fairly well for one of its type. The one bad thing that popped out at me was the quirky animation every once in awhile, but the art is decent, the character designs are original (if a bit cutesy), and the futuristic technology is pretty cool to look at. The opening and ending sequences are nothing spectacular (the latter being windowed replays of the episode), but they get the job done. The voice acting is well done, and the music the show uses is also quite nice. Bottom line, Stellvia is a show that may not appeal to everyone, but it's one you should definitely try anyway. There's something honest about life, love, and humanity hidden inside the storyline that cannot be ignored. For that, this series has my recommendation.

My Rating: 7.9/10 (Very Good)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Speed Grapher

Full Title: Speed Grapher
Genres: Drama, Mystery, Psychological, Romance, Supernatural
Episodes: 24
Uploaded By: Mavrik
My Age Rating: MA (Strong Language, Graphic Violence, Adult Situations, Sexual Themes, Brief Nudity)

Ten years after the Bubble War, Japan has gone to hell. While the poor have no hope of ever climbing out of their debts, the rich have become bored with their life of ease and splendor. To compensate for this, the elite can join a secret club where the worst of their fetishes and sexual desires are fulfilled, all the while pulling strings so that they will always remain in power. Into this world of corruption and greed steps Tatsumi Saiga, a world renowned war photographer with no care for money or fame, however, he is caught up in the worst of the corruption. While working for an honest tabloid, he discovers the club and infiltrates it to learn more. Unfortunately for him, he learns too much and is caught while snapping a picture of the club's prized possession, a fifteen year old girl with the power to turn people's deepest desires into reality. He is immediately sentenced to death, but before his execution, the girl kisses him and he is granted the ability to detonate anything he takes a picture of. He uses this power to escape but not before killing many aristocratic members and taking the girl with him.

Despite the reviews I read elsewhere, this series is not bad at all. Yes, there is an overload of sexual innuendos and adult situations, and yeah, the "everything photographed blows up" trick sounds, um, idiotic, but there really is a pretty good reason why that's the power he got. (You'll have to watch it to see.) The story itself is rightfully superhero-ish at first (a guy with a super power taking out villains with different super powers), but it doesn't stay that way. In the end, this show is a direct shot at the corruption, greed, and lack of humanity many people in power gain over the years by simply being in power too long, and the story is really quite fun and interesting (if overly pervish at times.)

The production for this show will never win any awards, but it's not a complete failure either. The art style is blatantly overused (most of the characters look like clones of people from more successful series). The animation is not always smooth, but it's not terrible. The music is a real let down during some parts, while in other parts it is the best thing to happen to the series. The opening theme part is average at best, and the ending sequence is kinda boring. Likewise, the voice acting is pretty much give and take but also never gets too bad, and for as corny as the story is, the dialog is actually pretty good. The major complaint I have with this series is the amateurish storytelling. It's lacking a certain timing and flow that would boost this series way ahead of where it stands now. Though when it comes down to it, I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoys action anime, superhero series, or anything with lots of drama. Overall, it held my attention, and that is saying something. This anime is just good plain unadulterated fun.

My Rating: 6.7/10 (Good)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Noein ~To Your Other Self~

Full Title: Noein ~To Your Other Self~
Genres: Adventure, Drama, Psychological, Romance, Science Fiction
Episodes: 24
Uploaded By: Mavrik
My Age Rating: PG (Language, Violence)

Fifteen years in the future a violent battle is taking place between Lacrima, a time line that protects humanity, and Shangri-La, a time line that plans the annihilation of all space and time. Lacrima is losing and desperate. In a last ditch effort to achieve victory, a highly trained crack team known as the Dragon Calvary is sent through space and time to locate and secure the Dragon Torque, an object of immense power that could change the tide of the war in Lacrima's favor. Meanwhile, present day in another time line, Yu Goto is thinking about running away from home. He's fed up with the cram school his mother forces him to go to. His loyal best friend, Haruka Kaminogi, wants to run away with him, so that they can always be together. While they are contemplating what decision to make, the Dragon Calvary arrive into their spacetime and try to kidnap Haruka, believing her to be the Dragon Torque. Things get only more complicated when it is learned that one of the members of the Calvary, Karasu, is Yu from the future.

This anime is ground in pure hardcore theoretical science. The technical jargon that spews from the mouths of the characters who actually have a clue whats going on is mind boggling. However, the series is well aware of just how far out there it is and accommodates for its bizarre concepts by means of a crash course explanation of multiple universe theories, space-time travel, quantum physics, etc. about three-fourths of the way through its run. Besides all this nonsense, the series is a fantastic and easy run through. You'll have no problem watching all of it once it gets started. In many ways it's a coming of age story for Yu, but it is also a wonderfully deep look at humanity. The series makes use of the Copenhagen Interpretation theory, beautifully explained by Schrodinger's cat metaphor. Although it may sound like nonstop mumbo jumbo, don't let the hardcore science fiction part deter you; there's enough explanation to cover all of the parts smoothly.

This series was well produced. The art style they used is purposely unorthodox, which the viewer may or may not initially like. After awhile, I tended not to notice it, but you might. The animation is crisp and smooth. The music is really quite stunning. The storyline is bizarre but well written. Some of the dialog (the relational dialog, not the technical) is cheesy in places, but I've seen much, much worse than this. This one was dubbed over very well, even keeping the original cheesiness for the scenes that have it. The opening is kinda boring but watchable. The ending sequence is better. If you have a complaint against the series it will be either about the bizarre drawing style (which I found refreshing in its own way), or the above mentioned science overload. It's overall an impressive series, and I would recommend it to anyone. Who knows? You might even learn something...

My Rating: 8.8/10 (Excellent)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Full Title: PlanetES
Genres: Action, Comedy, Drama, Romance, Science Fiction, Slice of Life
Episodes: 26
Uploaded By: Penad8
My Age Rating: PG (Language, Violence)

I came to this anime not really knowing what to expect. I was bored, had just plowed through about ten or so action and/or romance based anime, saw this series listed among someones top five favorites, and decided to give it a try. In all honesty, it blew me away. Took me for a ride from start to finish I won't soon forget.

Ai Tanabe is the newest recruit into the Space Debris Section of Technora Corporation, a company that bases most, if not all of its operations, in space. The year is 2075, a time of great development and strife for humanity. Space is the new frontier, and every company/country is pushing to see just how far into the vast emptiness they can go. Tanabe wants to be part of the movement but is disappointed to learn that she has been recruited into the bottom of the barrel "Half Section" as her new department is called, a department that deals with junk floating around in Earth's orbit. On her first day, she meets a most peculiar crew she'll call her team, and more importantly the bizarre man she will operate under known as Hachirota "Hachimaki" Hoshino. Although she has rather strong initial misgivings, she gradually eases into her situation and eventually comes to terms with just how important her new job is to the welfare of everyone in space.

The show itself, although it revolves around a bunch junk disposers in space, finds a way to incorporate many different themes into its rather impressive storyline. The most prevalent of these is the relationship between humanity, individuals, and space. This show goes for hyper-realistic space travel, and because of this, it really puts an emphasis on how scary the dark void Earth floats around in really is. It also has a lot to say about greed, ambition, and the ingrained ability man has to look to the sky and miss the starving / disease-stricken / dying people standing right in front of him. It also touches on other subjects like suicide, racism, mental/physical impairments, and death. Another thing I love about this show is the romance that develops between the two main characters, one of the best in any anime ever in my honest opinion. One thing that bothered me, and the thing that lowered this shows scores the most, is the times where you have no choice but to suspend your disbelief. (Such as the two main characters later chance reunion on Earth, it's downright unbelievable, and not in the good way...) In a normal anime, I wouldn't care, but this one is too realistic for such shoddy twists. (You'll see what I mean.)

The budget for this series was huge. I'm just going to get that out of the way right now. Because the show wants to be realistic in its depiction of zero gravity movements, every animation is silky smooth. The art goes for a realistic style as well (except for Tanabe's reddish eyes... but they make her look hotter during the intimate moments, so I guess I'll let it slide...). The dialog for this show is fantastic, and the voice acting is superb too. The opening sequence is downright awesome, and the ending sequence fits the show as well (the different ending sequence at the series end is absolutely breathtaking). The music is, like most of the show, top notch. Finally, the show was definitely not written by amateurs, excellent storylines interweave brilliantly. This series is a definite must see for any one who enjoys anime, and although I bashed the shows instances of long odds treated like everyday occurrences, I can't really find another fault. Therefore, I declare this one a masterpiece.

My Rating: 9.1/10 (Masterpiece)

Monday, March 24, 2008


Full Title: Mushi-Shi
Genres: Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Psychological, Supernatural
Episodes: 26
Uploaded By: Penad8
My Age Rating: PG (Mild Language)

Once in a very rare while an anime comes along that completely defies my idea of what makes a good series. It does everything wrong according to the predetermined standards I've set up in my head, and yet, it still manages to be one of the better animes I have the dubious pleasure of watching. Mushi-Shi falls squarely into this list.

The world of Mushi-shi consists of various different types of creatures: animals (the most advanced form of life), plants, and then an almost unseen genre of species known as the Mushi. These elusive creatures are the most fundamental life form. They are all around us, even inside us, but only a small percentage of the human population know of their existence and only a rare few among those can actually see them. Ginko, a traveling medicine man of sorts, has dedicated his life to the study and preservation of these basic lifeforms. As a mushi master, he travels the world looking for the rarest, strangest, and most beautiful of the mushi. This series is a collection of stories dealing with his travels and the strange happenings that befall him and the people he meets due to the creatures he studies; proving over and over again that "the cure lies in the curse."

A fascinating view to say the least, this show is like the fine wine of anime. It's slow paced, contemplative, and deeply enriched with some of the best plots I've ever seen. One of the things this show does differently than most is give every episode a different storyline, therefore the series is watchable in any order. The only character that really carries over from one episode to the next is Ginko (if you don't like him than you may disagree whole heartedly with my final score but so be it, I guess...) Another fault this series may have is its slowness. The fact that it almost never speeds up in the slightest may annoy viewers. That trait being the case, it's also a series that you'll have a hard time sitting down and watching straight through. I recommend watching only a couple episodes in one sitting. It keeps the pace fresh and unique.

Overall, this anime's production could not have been much better. The character designs may seem a bit repetitive to you, but since that character will only ever appear in one episode, it doesn't much matter. The music for this series is incredible, especially the ending sequences (there is a different one for each episode), which are at worse, great and at the best, simply stunning. The opening itself does a great job of setting the mood and cannot be faulted. The animation for this series is smooth and artful in its approach to any and every frame. The voice acting itself is superb, even with its myriad of different voice actors as each episode demands. All in all, although this anime is slow as molasses and insanely deep, I recommend it to anyone and everyone into anime. At least give this show a try, you (probably) won't regret it.
My Rating: 9.1/10 (Masterpiece)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

His and Her Circumstances

Full Title: His and Her Circumstances
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Psychological, Romance
Episodes: 26
Uploaded By: Rassiel
My Age Rating: PG-13 (Language, Adult Situations, Sexual Themes)

I've been doing a whole lot of romances lately, haven't I? eh... here's another one...

Yukino Miyazawa is the self described queen of vainity, and an insanely self serving girl. At school, she lives for the praise of others, and in order to gain said praise, goes through much secret studying, training, and beautifying. She has been number one in her class, and the envy of everyone all the way up through middle school. Now in high school, she does not see why things should be any different. That is until she meets Souichiro Arima and realizes that he is better than her at everything she was once praised for. Hatred for him quickly builds in her heart until she realizes that he does not view her as a rival, instead, he wishes to be her boyfriend. She rejects him. However, he soon learns she is not at all like she pretends to be at school, and he uses this knowledge to blackmail her into spending time with him. The two quickly become close friends and later, lovers. Everything in life seems perfect, but their problems have only just begun.

Although its production is long over, this anime is only about halfway done. It follows the manga to an incredibly accurate degree, and when the anime director and manga artist had a falling out, it stopped right where it was, leaving the story only halfway finished. That being the case, you shouldn't watch this for the storyline. Although very well developed, it doesn't really go anywhere in the end. Instead, watch this for the fascinating animation sequences. Characters are visually represented as they feel, (for example, when Yukino is next to Arima and feeling like a little child, that is how she will be portrayed) only ever once in awhile will they look "normal." This brings along with it a lot of comedy potential that is very well taken care of, but it also takes awhile to get used to. (Also, the stories going on in the background are almost as interesting as the main one. The interweaving is splendid!)

Production-wise, this anime is old, and it shows. The frame will sometimes shift ever-so-slightly. The animation is not always fluid, and the art greatly relies on pencil sketches and such. (Actually, for the most part it's really interesting to see the creative ways the artists work around their limitations.) The opening sequence is quite nice, and the closing credits are... um... creative? (You'll have to watch it to see what I mean...) The voice acting for this series is very well done. I recommend this show to practically everyone, but I also recommend reading the manga (Kare Kano) as it is a masterpiece (and has single-handedly consumed a day of my life). Lack of a definite ending kept this anime out of the masterpiece category, but I couldn't help but rate it high anyway.

My Rating: 8.7/10 (Excellent)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Full Title: DearS
Genres: Action, Comedy, Romance, Science Fiction, Ecchi
Episodes: 13
Uploaded By: Mavrik
My Age Rating: PG-13 (Language, Adult Situations, Sexual Themes)

Um... how to characterize what I just saw... hmm... It was like taking Chobits and playing it out to the extreme. Replace Chi with a considerably better looking girl by the name of Ren, and you have the main feel to the story. Japan must be absolutely brimming over with beautiful homeless girls for boys to randomly find and take home because, well, here we go again...

A year before the story gets underway, a massive spacecraft slams into Tokyo Bay and from it emerge beautiful human looking aliens that we real humans later name the Dears because of their friendly nature. The story picks up with an average (getting tired of this average crap? Me neither...) high school student by the name of Ikuhara Takeya who, unlike his classmates, doesn't see anything particularly desirable about the Dears, so it's only fitting that while walking home one day he accidentally stumbles across a female one and takes her home with him after she passes out in his arms. Much ecchi and comedy ensues, mainly due to the fact that Ren, as he names her, seems to have a problem keeping herself clothed. Also, Ren seems to have absolutely no will power of her own, and starts calling Takeya master. Soon, she starts going to school with him, and then it is learned that she is an escaped defective model that the Dears desperately want to recall.

If you have never seen a single other boy-co-inhabits-with-beautiful-girl anime, than you might think some of the comedy this series presents to be funny. If you have seen others, you can count on just rolling your eyes during these parts. The story line, although not incredibly original, is not altogether bad. If you can get by the insane amounts of ecchi, or if you happen to enjoy insane amounts of ecchi, you very probably will enjoy the 13 episodes. The one and only thing that will keep me from watching this anime a second time through is Takeya's teacher. I don't know what was going through whoever wrote this story's mind, but having a teacher that walks around in small underwear, even during class, and molests any student who happens to look at her is a BAD idea. By far the most annoying character I have ever come across in any anime ever. (I'm not sure if that deserves a round of applause or not...)

Production wise, this anime is average at everything. Yeah, the girls are much hotter than usual, but besides that, every single last feature of this show is average... The voice acting is average. The opening sequence is average. (By the way, if you want some of the most disturbing lyrics ever devised check out the opening song...) The ending is average. The animation is average. This anime screams mediocre at you in every conceivable way, so I shall succumb to its demand and rate it accordingly. Watch this if you are a fan of ecchi, or if you have never before seen this type of show. Otherwise, skip it, there are better ones out there... (To me, there has to be more to an anime than insanely beautiful girls... Although, I probably could stand to see them as a feature in more sophisticated series...)

My Rating: 5.9/10 (Fair)

Monday, March 3, 2008


Full Title: MoonPhase
Genres: Action, Comedy, Romance, Supernatural
Episodes: 26
Uploaded By: Mavrik
My Age Rating: PG (Mild Language, Violence)

Kohei Morioka is a photographer having a hard time making ends meet. It's not so much that he's not good at what he does, he's actually very good. The problem resides in the fact that every picture he takes seems to have a supernatural entity somewhere within it. This allows him to get some work with magazines devoted to the occult, but everyone else turns him down. One day while out in Germany doing photography for the occult, he spies a girl on the roof of an abandoned castle in the distance, he goes into the castle hoping to catch the perfect shot. Instead he meets a young vampire by the name of Hazuki, who attempts to enslave Kohei by biting him. Although Kohei mysteriously does not succumb to her will, he does manage to set her free of the castle. With no where else to go and convinced that Kohei is her slave, Hazuki follows him back home to Japan and proceeds to move in with him and his family.

I was fully expecting to not be completely satisfied with the plot of this story, so it didn't catch me off guard when it wasn't top notch. The comedy this series possesses, however, greatly exceeded my expectations. The list of cartoons that have managed to draw an audible laugh out of me are few indeed, and MoonPhase is on that list. The humor is just... wacky, and oddly varied. It catches the viewer off guard and just seems to be all around well written. The next best part of this anime is the intimate scenes between the two main characters. Those scenes so greatly contrast the way the two treat each other in every other sequence that it's quite touching. Although what appears to be a grown man lovingly embracing what appears to be a teenage girl might seem a bit creepy to you, their age differences are actually not that great... (the one thing I think is creepy is this anime's obsession with kitty ears...)

Production wise, this anime definitely takes shortcuts, but nothing extremely noticeable. The character designs are nothing new, and the story would make more sense in a different order. Sometimes the mouth animation is also a little sloppy, but all that aside, the musical score is quite good. The opening sequence is really unusual. It fits the anime, however, and I recommend watching through it at least once. The ending sequence is average. One of the stronger points is the voice acting, it's nothing sensational, but it more than gets the job done and never goes over the top as many other comedies do. For, at the end of the day, that's what MoonPhase is, a comedy. Watch this one for laughs, and maybe for the interesting relationship, but don't expect revelations of massive meaning or great depth. In no way ground breaking, but an all around good view... (The last episode is more of an OVA, and I really didn't enjoy it all that much myself, but eh, you might...)

My Rating: 7.1/10 (Very Good)