Tuesday, April 22, 2008

School Rumble

Full Title: School Rumble
Genres: Action, Comedy, Drama, Romance, Slice of Life
Episodes: 26
Uploaded By: Penad8
My Age Rating: PG-13 (Language, Violence, Adult Situations)

Tenma is your ordinary, everyday, 2nd year highschool girl with an IQ that would rival the highest of the Richter Scale Magnitudes, and the object of Harima Kenji's, a moronic delinquent from the same class, love interests. Unfortunately for him, Tenma is only interested in Karasuma Ooji, another student from that class. This anime is the story of the that class, its bizarre students, and their collective miserable luck in love.

Hmm, very short intro... anywho, this anime seems incredibly light and fluffy from all perspectives, but it does have some semblance of meat on its bones later on. Another point I'd like to make, it's hilarious. I laughed often (rare indeed for any comedy) at this series oddball sense of humor. It mixes together everything from traditional Japanese humor you'd find in any other romance, to absurd British humor. Irony, amazing comedic timing, funny quotable sentences, and incredibly awkward moments all grace this show on a regular basis. Every character seems to have this terrible desire to fall for the exact wrong person for them, and it works well. I will definitely see the second season when it's dubbed.

The production varies (sometimes purposefully) in regards to quality. It doesn't always have very smooth movements and some of the sillier scenes (i.e. Tenma spinning off into the depths of despair) are replayed over and over, but it's far from annoying and chances are you won't even notice. The voice acting in this series is definitely a strong point. Every personality is incredibly well performed. The only over the top character is Tenma, but she kinda needs to be ("I did it! I'm like a fricken mermaid!"). When watching this, listen for the conversations going on in the background, many of which are randomly hilarious. The opening for this series is high gear, bouncingly energetic, and the ending is a funny collage of the girls with Harima being random in the foreground set to a pretty good song. The creators of this show definitely knew what they were doing as it is well written. That being said don't expect too much from the story, it can hold water, but it mainly serves as a catalyst for the jokes. I recommend this one to everyone who enjoys a good laugh. As comedies go, it's top notch...
My Rating: 8.2/10 (Excellent)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Samurai Champloo

Full Title: Samurai Champloo
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Episodes: 26
Uploaded By: Mavrik
My Age Rating: MA (Language, Graphic Violence, Adult Situations, Sexual Themes)

The series takes place during Japan's Edo period, the golden age of small villages, open air markets, and wandering warriors known as samurai. At some point during this tumultuous timespan, three unlikely companions set out on a long journey to a certain location for a reason only one of them knows. One of them, Jin is a "by-the-book" samurai. His fighting style is of a traditional nature, and he is an extremely skilled swordsman, using refined sword strikes to down his foes. The other male of the group (and also Jin's foil) is Mugen who learned the ways of the samurai as a means to survive. He uses vast sweeping and unorthodox movements to keep himself away from his opponent's weapon and to better align the strike of his own. His reckless style of fighting is very reminiscent of break dancing. The last of the three is a young girl by the name of Fuu. She is the one who knows where the three are going and why. On top of directing the other two, she also occasionally has to stop them from killing each other, deal with various issues that crop up from her unusual escorts' dark pasts, and figure out exactly what it is that's driving her to search in the first place...

Samurai Champloo is an incredible series to behold. It combines historical facts, altered historical facts, and completely random happenings that might slightly have something to do with historical facts to become one of the more impressive anime ever created. The fight sequences are this show's key points, but it may surprise you how slow and contemplative it gets when it's not being combative. Despite its hip and cool, break dancing, flashy sword fights, this series greatly idealizes the concepts of friendship, love, loyalty, and coming to terms with yourself for who you are. The way this anime comes to an end may not be to your tastes, but I found it fitting for a show of this nature (very well executed).

Production-wise, the anime is very well done. The series draws influences from modern day hip-hop and beatboxing, so the music itself is incredible. The opening sequence is one of the best ever devised; the ending is a bit slower but has a nice slow song accompanying it. The art style used is fresh and interesting. The animation itself is always silky smooth especially around the fight scenes as these look fantastic. The dialog and the voice acting are always spot-on. If there is one thing that bothers you it will be the broken storyline, the series could almost be watched out of order if one excludes the two episode storylines, the beginning, and the end. However, there is enough story connecting the episodes that the "one storyline per show" stunt is not as annoying as it could be. This is a classic series and many devoted anime enthusiasts will claim this one as their all time favorite. I recommend it to everyone. It is a definite must-see...

My Rating: 8.9/10 (Excellent)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Please Teacher!

Full Title: Please Teacher!
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Science Fiction
Episodes: 12
Uploaded By: ToonstarTV
My Age Rating: PG-13 (Language, Adult Situations, Sexual Themes)

Kei Kusanagi appears to be an ordinary teen age boy. He hangs out with his tight knit group of friends and wouldn't stand out in most crowds, but unbeknownst to his pals, he's actually a couple years older than them. He suffers from a disease that literally claimed three years of his life. Whenever he is under severe emotional distress, his brain shuts his body into a dormant state known as a standstill, and the exact timespan any particular standstill will last is unknown. The story begins with Kei, after having a minor standstill by a lake in his town, awaking and seeing a strange series of phenomenon culminating in the touch down of a beautiful half-human alien by the name of Mizuho Kazami. As she lands, however, she spots him and chases him until he collapses into a standstill once more. The next morning, he awakes in his bed. Believing the events of the previous night to be a dream, he heads off to school where his teacher has mysteriously been replaced by a beautiful young woman. Later, after learning that this new teacher lives next door, meeting her, and helping her move into her new house, he discovers that she is the creature from the night before. Soon after, she learns of his illness. A series of mishaps later, they end up marrying to preserve each others secrets, but that is only the beginning of their problems.

This anime is an interesting story. It's a straight dose of romance, so if that isn't your thing, steer clear. However, if you enjoy that particular genre of anime, chances are you'll love Onegai Sensei (as it's called in Japan). Another thing you may want to do is suspend your disbelief for the first 1 and 1/2 episodes because forcing the two main characters into a marriage situation takes some dramatic leaps of faith. Get past that, however, and what you have is one of the most honest looks at love I think I've ever encountered in an anime series. The show makes very clear that true love takes commitment, passion, and is never satisfied with half efforts. No "happily-ever-afters" here, this series wants to portray realism (sort of) in its approach. If one thing bothers you, it'll probably be the seemingly sex obsessed mother Mizuho has...

The production of this anime is, for the most part, fairly decent. The characters are original, well drawn, and vibrant, but the background is fairly dull. The animation sequences are good enough for a romance, and the music for this series is also par for this genre. The opening sequence is a bit boring, despite the high pitched, energetic song, and the ending credits are a downright snooze fest. The voice acting can go over the top sometimes, but for the most part it stays right on course and is fairly pleasing. The dialog is pretty good, but there are one or two times when the cheese factor creeped in a little too strongly and forced a visible cringe to cross my face. At first this may seem like a shallow anime, but rest assured it's not. It presents a surprisingly deep and almost chilling back story about Kei and his illness. The ending may seem like a bit of a stretch to you, but if you really think about it, the answer to why he remembers her becomes quite clear, (hint: it has almost nothing to do with the box). Despite its obvious faults, this show is an all around fun watch. I highly recommend it if you enjoy romance stories of any sort.

My Rating: 7.5/10 (Very Good)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Full Title: Air
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Supernatural
Episodes: 13
Uploaded By: ShadowBane
My Age Rating: PG-13 (Language, Violence, Adult Situations)

Although there are fifteen episodes available, the series really only has twelve episodes. Thirteen is a recap, and fourteen and fifteen offer a more in depth view of the happenings between the 8th and 9th episodes.

Yukito Kunisaki is a traveling puppeteer trying to make his living performing on the streets of various towns and cities across Japan. Despite his incredible skill, he is always broke and hungry. Although he struggles to survive, he continues to live the way he does for the sake of ulterior motives. His mother spent her entire life looking for a girl with wings who flies in the sky, and Yukito is determined to carry out her wish for him to follow in her footsteps. During his travels, he stops in a small town hoping for some business. After a day of hard luck and no food, he settles down on an ocean wall to sleep. He awakes to find an odd girl standing over him. Introducing herself as Misuzu, she quickly befriends him, and, upon learning that he is homeless, she invites him stay at her house with her and her mother (who forces him to sleep in the shed). Intrigued by the girl and the town, Yukito decides to stay awhile to see if he can't find what he's looking for...

The first few episodes of this anime are slow to say the least. Characters are introduced at a snails pace and all the pieces are placed in position. Then, the series goes off the deep end, not speed wise, but depth wise. It basically chucks you in and hopes you want to swim because I had no clue what was going on for a good while, and just as everything started to make sense, it throws another wave at you. Enough with the analogies, this anime is confusing to say the least. Finally around the 7th or 8th episode ideas start to clear up quite nicely, and they stay pretty conceivable for the rest of the time. What I'm trying to say is, this show takes patience to watch. The story is entirely understandable at the end, but don't start watching this expecting breezy entertainment. (Because the storyline leans heavily on eastern ideas of reincarnation and reconciliation for the sins of past lives, the concepts this anime presents may seem a tad foreign to you.)

Production-wise, this series is top notch. It boasts excellent animation sequences and beautiful art styles. The voice acting won't leave you disappointed either. The opening sequence is good; the ending sequence watchable, if incredibly boring. The music for this show is great. Some of the dialog is pretty cheesy, but for most of the really dramatic scenes, it's very well written (the "crossing the finish line" word exchange is heartbreaking to say the least...). The storyline is probably the best thing this series has to offer. All the positive production aside, I really don't know who this anime would appeal to. It's not quite a romance, comedy, action, or even drama for that matter. Although it transitions flavors beautifully and does each one well, it ends up being a jack of all trades, master of none. I guess the best I can say is this show should appeal to any patient person who enjoys deep stories. I enjoyed my run through it at least.

My Rating: 7.7/10 (Very Good)