November 13, 2003

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu Episode 13

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu

"Fancy With No Moral Codes"

Fumoffu is coming off as something of a formulaic show. Sure, it bounces from one weird theme to the next, but now we've got two consecutive episodes where we start with Chidori making fun of a genre of television show, and then the episode follows with it happening in real life. I suppose it works as a frame, and the things Chidori says is usually pretty funny, so I'll accept it. Just don't make it three episodes in a row (maybe she can parody anime next).

In this one, we are shown what would happen in the unlikely (or maybe likely, for this particular universe) situation where Sagara is recruited to help a gang toughen up, and reassert themselves on their turf. As that story is clearly not bizarre enough, the twist that is thrown in is that Sagara disguises himself in his Bonta-kun outfit. Unfortunately, I feel like the whole Bonta-kun gag really throws this show too far into the comedy/bizarre category, especially given the groundedness of the first season.

So, another disjointed episode that is too silly for my tastes, and on the whole, comes off only a little better than average.

Rating: B-

Posted by Kei at 12:52 AM | Comments (1)

November 24, 2003

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu Episode 14

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu

"Blue Bird Who Cannot Be Controlled"

Been busy lately, so let's play some catchup, shall we?

Carrying over from the club madness that featured in earlier episodes, it seems that there just aren't enough rooms for the various clubs to meet in. Luckily, the sociology club is willing to give up theirs (as they only have two members), but has decided that the people who get the room must win their challenge: pick up on as many girls as possible in one day.

Kind of weird, being that you'd think there were girls in some of these clubs, but oh well.

Anyways, you can bet that this is yet another opportunity to check out Sousuke completely missing the point of the exercise. Flirting is described as a "girl hunt" to him, so inevitably he takes the idea to inappropriate extremes.

This episode isn't completely a wash though, as the last few minutes move along the Sousuke/Chidori relationship. It's those few moments that are actually carrying me through this predictable comedy show, and makes me wish they had focused more on this, than the insanity that seems to follow Sousuke around in his everyday life.

Rating: B-

Posted by Kei at 08:40 PM | Comments (0)

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu Episode 15

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu

"Fifth Period's Hot Spot"

So let's see what trouble Sousuke's gotten himself into this time. Ah, the biological kind!

Sousuke places an order for a new sight for one of his guns, but receives a mysterious biological agent. Of course, for some reason he's decided to take this biological agent to school (despite the fact he knows what it is)--ahh narrative!--where it proceeds to be opened and released into the air.

Finding out that the class is doomed to die brings out some funny moments in Sousuke's assorted classmates, and we find out that Oren apparently has feelings of some sort for the student council president.

In the end, everything's fine of course, though it is kind of funny (and fanservicey), when the details of the biological weapon are exposed, and Sousuke reacts to his fate.

Ultimately, the best I can say is that at least the series was reasonably amusing, but it really pains me that this was the successor to the fantastic first season.

Rating: B

Posted by Kei at 08:48 PM | Comments (4)

Fullmetal Alchemist Episode 02

Fullmetal Alchemist

"Body of Taboo"

The first episode of this show felt a little uneven, but this one has a much more reasonable pace that I think the rest of the series will follow.

I really wasn't crazy about the overall plot in this opening story, with the method that Edward uses to unmask the high priest's conspiracy being a little overdone, and a little stupid. What was a lot more gratifying, though, was watching Roze's reactions to having her beliefs being systematically destroyed by Edward (no malice intended, of course).

When Roze discovers that the priest's miracles are a sham, she reacts with the expected horror and anger, but then proceeds to direct it to Edward for popping her (and the town's) bubble. These are all very realistic and believable reactions, and it comes off fairly well.

This show is entertaining enough, and has good production values, but we'll have to see where it goes from here, as we hardly know anything about the world, and have really only been introduced to a few characters (and barely introduced to the requisite mysterious villains).

Rating: B-

Posted by Kei at 09:04 PM | Comments (1)

November 25, 2003

Green Green Episode 04

Green Green

"Trouble Dance in the Girl's Dorm"

I hate it when a unassuming anime main male character (this doesn't seem to happen to females as much) gets dragged along on some doomed-to-failure scheme, because he really can't stand up for himself to not participate. This process usually takes a few seconds to happen, and I suppose if you stretched out over a longer period of time, it might be some sort of peer pressure thing, but it's really pretty stupid.

In this case, it's pretty stupid that Yusuke gets dragged along on their panty raid (boy, they sure don't run out of perverted things for these guys to do). I really can't begin to describe how disgusting the whole eating-rice-while-inhaling-scent-of-young-girl routine is, and I really wish they wouldn't use it every episode. Maybe this is some sort of cultural humor that I'm missing (but I'm pretty sure if that's the case, it's pretty disgusting in Japan, too).

But just when you thought that wasn't disgusting enough, we get Bacchigu putting on a string bikini and g-string. Does he really actually have to have breasts? And does he have to describe them as e-cups? This is as bad as it can get, and phsyically makes me ill watching it.

As far as weird stuff that I think is kind of cool: Wakaba communicating with her cactus! This seems weirdly amusing to me, but something tells me I'm missing some terribly perverted innuendo.

I'm probably biased because I think Futaba's cute, but I really hope this isn't the end of her budding relationship with Yusuke. I'm sure this hope of mine is hopeless, though, because it's obvious he's going to hook up with Midori in the end, and rooting for another pairing is folly! Folly!

But I digress. This show might be better if it didn't make me feel sick to my stomach.

Rating: D+

Posted by Kei at 12:28 AM | Comments (0)

Green Green Episode 05

Green Green

"Fall Down in the Infirmary"

Probably the most disappointing part about Green Green is that you always know what's going to happen before it actually does. This feeling is just a testament to the show's utter predictability.

If there's one thing Green Green does well, it's presenting Bacchigu in some monumentally disturbing poses and outfits. I'll leave it to you to discover this episodes special surprise. This episode also gives us a glimpse into Tenjin's personality... not much there! You can't help but marvel how incredibly, unbelievably idiotic this guy is.

Also a Green Green first, we've got the first real glimpse at this show's underlying story (two lovers whose love couldn't be realized in the past, reunited in the future), between Midori and Yusuke. And what's Reika's part in all it? She's obviously the third wheel in the relationship, and she seems quite content to meddle, but we really don't know what her goal is (other than ensuring the two star-crossed lovers don't get together).

I guess those are some interesting questions... but they've sort of been around since episode one. At least now Reika seems to be ready to play a bigger part in the show, hopefully things will pick up.

Rating: C+

Posted by Kei at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2003

Fullmetal Alchemist Episode 03

Fullmetal Alchemist


Fullmetal Alchemist would have to be one of my two favorite shows whose titles begin with "full metal", right up there with Full Metal Panic.

I'll let that sink in.

Seriously though, this show is right around average, though I think episode three is a little too early to already have an extended flashback episode. I barely know what's going on, and I'm already getting overburdened with history.

I really can't stand Alphonse's little boy voice, especially when the mechanical whine is applied to it. Well, to be honest, Edward's little boy voice isn't all that hot either. On the plus side, this show has some outstanding production values, which shows in the quality of the animation and art. The music is above average, on the few occasions where it poked through the dialogue.

In this episode, we're whisked back into the past to observe Edward and Alphonse's childhood, where they attempted to revive their deceased mother through alchemy, and ultimately fail (didn't we just see this in episode one?).

Mental note: when preforming gargantuan, impossible tasks of alchemy, wait for clear skies and bright sunshine... avoid dark, stormy nights.

The story of their failed transmutation and subsequent mutilation is actually very good, though, and definitely above what I was expecting after the previous two episodes. If the story continues to improve, given the production values of this show, it could turn out to be a surprise hit.

Rating: B+

Posted by Kei at 12:23 AM | Comments (18)

Chrono Crusade Episode 01

Chrono Crusade

"Sister Rosette"

Yay a new sries. <-- Not a typo.

The thing is, anime heroes now, they can only have one vowel in their first name. (But don't worry, "Chrno" is still pronounced "Chrono", I figure it's just more stylish and sexy this way. We all know about anime and style, right?)

Well, there's no better way to sum up a show by trying to compare its various parts to popular shows that have come before. We've got something of Hellsing's style (and theme), with lots of cute silliness thrown in, with a main character that has a Vash the Stampede-like habit of leaving destruction in her wake. I think the show definitely has more fun with itself than Hellsing, not taking itself too seriously. The Hellsing similarity is probably due in part to the fact that this is a Gonzo show, so much of the usual Gonzo trappings exist (the best of which being the high production values).

Chrno Crusade takes place in the 1920's in New York City, a very unique setting for an anime series. It involves a semi-secret organization that hunts down demons (no breaking ground there). The character designs are very good, owing in large parts to the setting of the show. Much of the action in this first episode takes place at night, so the vibrant colors of the characters costumes is lost in the gloomy haze. I suspect this is something that will continue in further episodes, as demon hunting is generally a nighttime activity.

It's always hard to judge a first episode, but this one stands out from the pack just for its weird setting and appealing art. There's something immediately weird about a girl nun wielding a tommy gun that makes you curious for more.

Rating: B

Posted by Kei at 11:46 PM | Comments (12)

November 28, 2003

Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien Episode 03

Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien

If there's one thing pretty much every anime series lacks, in my opinion, it's an overall sense of pacing and continuity of theme. Kiminozo definitely suffers from this, as the scenes of the restaurant are so over-the-top and ridiculous, they really take away from the overall package and texture of the show. (I know many disagree with me about this, as bouts of random insanity can almost be said to be a hallmark of anime.)

Ignoring these moments, the show succeeds as a slice of life romantic drama. We've always known that Mitsuki had feelings for Narumi, and with the tragic accident that put Suzumiya in a coma (and the passing of a few years), she has her opportunity to be with him. Of course, she feels like she is betraying her friend, and seeks Narumi's approval for their relationship, "Is it all right for me to be with you?"

One thing that strikes me as odd is Mitsuki's character, three years removed from the start of the show. My initial impression was that Suzumiya was the stereotypical, shy girl, and Mitsuki was the tomboyish, loud one. However, Mitsuki's manner now is omre like Suzumiya, generally very apologetic and almost submissive (especially to Narumi). Maybe this is caused by her feelings of guilt, or some measure of depression she's going through. The easier answer is that it's just easier to write a character like that, then an opinionated woman who knows what she wants.

That's a fairly minor niggling, as the other parts of the show all come together well. I hope that as we move along, we see less and less of the restaurant antics, and more of our two main characters, which really is an exceptionally good and original love story.

Rating: A-

Posted by Kei at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)

Fullmetal Alchemist Episode 04

Fullmetal Alchemist

"Transmutation of Love"

You know, it's always around this episode of a series that I finally remember to comment about a show's music. Full Metal Alchemist's music is definitely good, with some pretty memorable tracks on the rare occasions that it comes out from the background.

Anyways, there's one way to describe the plot of this episode: subtle.

You should *really* see the various plot twists in this episode coming from a mile away. I guess that's more than a little disappointing. I watched the episode hoping that they were going to prove me wrong, but watching the show was like waiting for another person to put a puzzle together. If you can't figure out what's going on while you watch this episode, then I have the feeling you will enjoy it a lot more than I did.

I thought this installment might serve as further exploration of the backstory, with Majhal being one of Ed and Al's father's friends (best friends, according to him), but this is more of an orientation filler episode. Expect the plot to pick up at about... episode twelve.

Rating: B-

Posted by Kei at 12:36 PM | Comments (1)

November 29, 2003

Lunar Legend Tsukihime Episode 01

Lunar Legend Tsukihime

"Reversal Impulse"

I think this is the first show I've seen where characters' (non-sunglasses) glasses subtly tint a character's face. Not saying it's the first, but it's the first I've seen. Or maybe I've just never noticed it before.

That should be enough to base a review on this show, right?

I can't remember the last anime that left me with as much of a "what the heck is going on?" feeling as this one. I can't really try to explain the plot, because it drifts from weird, fantasylike dream sequences to graphic murder shots to everyday life at school. There is one thing that ties it all together, though, and that is the slow, methodical pacing of the show. This really adds to the mystery of the show, which is good, because frequently slow-paced anime just tends to drag on needlessly, without enhancing the end product.

Also adding to the sparse, dreamlike feel of the show is the music, which is very laid back, fleeting and nostalgic. The whole show feels like it has been fuzzed out a bit, which also helps with the presentation, which is almost universally top notch. The art and animation is very good, screaming high production values.

I'm grateful that unlike most shows, Shingetsutan Tsukihime's first episode feels like the beginning of a story, instead of a forced, one-shot episode used to introduce a few main characters.

Though I have no idea what's going on, or even what kind of show this is, its understated style has definitely piqued my curiousity for the next installment.

Rating: B+

Posted by Kei at 01:04 PM | Comments (0)

Green Green Episode 06

Green Green

"Hot Hot in the P.E. Preparation Room"

I laughed at a lot of things I was supposed to, and one or two things that I shouldn't have in this episode. In the shouldn't have column would have to be Yuusuke using a giant leaf as an umbrella. Don't ask me where they found this cala lilly, big tropical leaf in the middle of a forest in the mountains.

For all those of you who have suspected that the three non-Yuusuke males are secretly homosexual, this episode should leave you with little to no doubt. It's too bad that while one part of the story is becoming more interesting and fun, the disgusting parts are just getting more and more disgusting. (If you are as truly frightened as me by these parts of the show, it'd probably be best for you to watch Green Green with a remote control and liberal use of the fast forward button.)

I wanted to say that this show is a guilty pleasure, but that might give the wrong idea. It's like... You know how good it feels after throwing up? This show is just like that.

In this episode, Yuusuke and Midori finally get some time alone (of course, Midori is looking too much into the situation, as Reika points out), as they search for a location to hold a co-ed party. To ensure that his friends don't get in the way (an agreement with Midori), Reika locks the three losers in the equipment room, where they promptly begin exploring their homosexual fantasies.

I really enjoyed half of the show (guess which half), and really wished the other half ceased to exist. It was also amusing to see the usually calm and collected Reika thrown off her game a bit.

I really can't say if it's worth sitting through the other half of the show though. Ugh, but I must perservere.

Rating: B (Not accounting for the guys' half, which scores a F.)

Posted by Kei at 10:19 PM | Comments (0)

Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien Episode 04

Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien

It's episode four, and that means it's time for me to comment on the music of Kiminozo. Because of the slow pace of the show, and its dramatic content, there are lots of melancholy piano solo tracks that really help set the tone during scenes without dialogue (and there are quite a bit of these, for mood). The one odd thing is that some pivotal scenes are missing music, which makes them feel a bit empty.

Despite the somber nature of the show, the art is very bright and colorful. It seems that characters are usually designed with opposing colors in mind. For example with the purple-haired doctor wearing a yellow dress, and blue-haired Mitsuki with her orange top (Akane about opposite from that). Visually, it really is a very appealing show (which I suspect might have something to do with its game roots, where character designs have perhaps even greater importance).

I'll try to talk about the plot in as unspoilerish a manner possible, but chances are if you're perceptive, you'll be able to figure out what happens in this episode. (Just skip the next paragraph to be safe!) Really, though, you should be watching this show if you think you have the smallest bit of interest in it.

Narumi and Miyuki's relationship are moving faster than ever, after Narumi is finally able to ease Miyuki's misgivings about their relationship. It's just then, though, that events begin to occur that throw their relationship into even stormier waters.

Despite the emotional content of the first three episodes of this series, this one eclipses the previous ones easily. There's sadness and joy, and a whole lot of other powerful moments all bundled up in this installment.

Rating: A+

Posted by Kei at 10:53 PM | Comments (1)

November 30, 2003

Green Green Episode 07

Green Green

"Soaking Wet by the Pool"

I thought this would be the episode where the three amigos would finally participate in a non-sexually deviant manner, but alas, it was not to be. This time it's crossdressing, which probably isn't quite as disgusting as the last episode, but ranks pretty high up there. I guess being in an all-guys school can drive you to these lengths. If you're wondering why they decide to do it, they say it's because they think it will help them understand what a woman feels, but I'm sticking with the latent (perhaps not so latent, actually) homosexuality theory.

Somehow, this episode managed to be mostly about them, instead about Futaba and Yusuke (which I have in the past mentioned is my favorite pairing right now), and how Futaba is dealing with the apparent progress in Yuusuke and Midori's relationship. It's nice to know they haven't given up on this particular thread though, so I hope they go back to it soon.

I haven't mentioned this yet, but I really like the opening and closing themes to this show. The first one is a frenetically bouncy, crazy song and epilitpic-seizure-inducing flood of visuals that emphasizes the fun nature of the show. The closing theme is a nice rock piece with some appealing guitar lines.

I'm disturbed that the last few episodes of this show have featured the three amigos more than Yuusuke and his relationships with the girls, as that should definitely be the main focus of the show. I suppose they should be applauded for trying something different with the layout of this show... but that doesn't change the fact that I think the creators all have serious sexual frustration issues.

Rating: C+

Posted by Kei at 04:09 PM | Comments (0)

Fullmetal Alchemist Episode 05

Fullmetal Alchemist

"Dash! Auto-Mail"

Is it really time for another flashback episode? Seems like half of this show takes place in the past. It's really not that big a problem, though I'd really like to know what the general thrust of the story is (getting the bad guys involved at some point would be nice). Maybe it's just ingrained in me that this sort of flashback should happen later on in a series.

One little problem with the flashbacks is that it's kind of hard to tell they take place in the past. Al looks like... well... Al. And Ed looks the same, too. I thought they were go without the red coat for Ed in the past, but looks like he's always had it.

Still a fun episode, though, and it does sort of ask a few more questions, like what the military's aim is with training Al and Ed to take the national alchemist exam.

That's the problem with the show so far, lots of questions, very few answers. We've already been shown what the power of alchemy is like, how the rules work (somewhat), and Ed's background and some of his goals. I think it's time this show got a kick in the pants. Less setup, more payoff!

Also, the action sequences in this episode were hit and miss in their appeal. Having Al walk in with his full armor, deflecting bullets at attackers was pretty cool, but having Ed flood the train passenger car with a flood of water was over the top enough to be kind of cheesy.

I'm still interested by this show, but if I don't get some answers soon, I'll be vexed.

Rating: B

Posted by Kei at 11:32 PM | Comments (0)