March 01, 2004

Full Metal Panic! Episode 22

Full Metal Panic!

"Jack in the Box"

Full Metal Panic! moves into its last three episodes, picking up right where the action left off in the previous episode. Watching this episode, it's seems kind of unfortunate that with such a good and visible bad guy already established (Gauron), the show decides to make the American navy almost just as bad.

Either way, this episode is about Kaname (with an assist from Tessa) doing her part to rescue the submarine from Gauron's control. Of course we have Kurz and Sousuke also slinking around, so she's not completely on her own!

There are two good stories going on here, with the individual heroes trying to take back the submarine, while the technologically superior submarine attempts to evade and destroy the destroyer and submarine in pursuit (which is of course the underlying concept behind all submarine films). Also, there's some tension between the trigger happy American navy (none-too-subtle political statement) and Mithril over why they're being fired on.

Oh, and apparently those special powers the girls have enables them to speak to each other telepathically (okay, it's really through "resonance").

All in all, an entertaining episode, and the tension keeps up going into the last two.

Rating: B+

Posted by Kei at 10:01 PM | Comments (10)

March 02, 2004

Full Metal Panic! Episode 23

Full Metal Panic!

"Field of Giants"

More of the crazy Americans in this one, "Remember Pearl Harbor!" being the nice battle cry in this one.


The end is so close you can smell it, and there's still enough that needs to be resolved that it seems like a substantial episode is unlikely. My prediction is the standard ending-in-the-credits with most of the episode given over to the last fight between Gauron and Sousuke.

After twenty-three episodes of vaguely dealing with Black Technology and exactly what the Whispered are capable of doing (for a core motivation, it sure gets very little screen time), there's a lot more explanation (or at least demonstration) in this episode with Kaname taking control of the submarine. But in the end, this is all just window dressing for another fight between Gauron and Sosuke, which in the past have pretty much all come out as draws (with Gauron slightly ahead).

The show still looks and sounds good, and the intensity makes the episode fly by, but it's missing that intangible that would elevate the show from entertaining to great.

Rating: B+

Posted by Kei at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2004

Full Metal Panic! Episode 24

Full Metal Panic!

"Into the Blue"

Weird, did they add a writer to the show in the last two episodes that just loves baseball? That's all I can think of to explain all the sudden baseball references.

The best thing I can say about the ending to Full Metal Panic! is that it does actually give you a bit of closure. Sure there's no real ending to the relationship stuff between Sousuke and Chidori, but the show wasn't really about that, so the way the ends are wrapped up is rather nice. On the down side (at least from the show's perspective), it doesn't exactly leave you begging for more.

Being that this is a last episode, I suppose I should do a little bit of looking back. This is probably my favorite mecha show ever (not a big fan of the giant robots, to be honest). It had a good combination of production values, humor, action, romance and sheer wackiness. The side episodes were all fun, and it was a genuinely entertaining show. It wasn't spectacular, but you won't go wrong watching it.

Rating: B+

Posted by Kei at 11:18 PM | Comments (2)

March 08, 2004

Fullmetal Alchemist Episode 20

Fullmetal Alchemist

"Guardian's Soul"

It kind of bothers me that whenever Edward gets into a fight, his first reaction is to transmute his automail arm into that little stabbing glove. He's short (super shorty who needs help seeing himself in the mirror, or something like that) and fighting isn't really his strong suit, but nonetheless, it's always take 'em on hand to hand. Of course, that is more visually exciting. Though I have to say, in this episode Ed makes good use of transmutation during his fight with the other soul-bonded armor.

Plotwise, not much happens other than the revelation that the prisoners were being used as test subjects (not a huge surprise), their souls bonded to suits of armor to serve as guards for the lab. Their unique perspective gives them an opportunity to make Al question whether or not he is who he thinks he is (or if it's just some elaborate conspiracy by Ed and the others). Like maybe he was just some random kid they found, told him that he was a brother that owed a lot to Ed, and figured he'd make a good protector. Kind of hard to believe though (other than the fact that Ed seems like a nice guy), given that everyone else seems to believe Ed's story, and if they could brainwash Al to be anything they wanted just to protect Ed, they'd probably program him to be a little more efficient.

Anyways, this was another entertaining episode of the show, the best in the last handful, and promises to have some more explanations about the Philosopher's Stone in the near future.

Rating: A

Posted by Kei at 10:38 PM | Comments (2)

March 10, 2004

Noir Episode 7


"The Black Thread of Fate"

Were they so desperate to make a twenty-plus episode series instead of a nice twelve or thirteen one that the only way they could make it was to use every frame of animation at least twice (in the same episode)? Sure seems that way.

Maybe I should start keeping track of these things. The Mireille flashback occurs three times in this episode.

The show is still undeniably cool though, and it's entertaining to watch just for that, as it pulls it off in an enjoyable way (unlike, for example, Hellsing). It's almost like we're watching the same episode over and over again (in a different locale), but each time we're told two more things about the story. Think Groundhog Day with assassins.

The story is really moving slowly, though, and you probably could have skipped the last five episodes and still not be confused. I guess it's saying something about the visual quality and overall makeup of the show that it's still fairly watchable despite having no plot development.

Rating: B-

Posted by Kei at 11:46 PM | Comments (2)

March 18, 2004

Maburaho Episode 1


"They Came..."

Did you read Harry Potter? Its global popularity more than guarantees a large number of hangers-on, imitations, copycats and other works in the same genre. Not that anime hasn't been here before, but with this show, it seems even more obviously the result of Pottermania.

The art for this show is appealing to me, cute (without being overly so) character designs, and female characters of suitable attractiveness (and bounciness). Right, bounciness, this is defintely a show for boys, with fanservice thrown all over the place (not to mention this is a show about a loser guy with beautiful women falling all over him).

For a few seconds there, the show has you worried that it's going to be like every other harem show, or show of this type, but in the background, you always have the feeling that there's at least something different (and there is).

It all seems a little transparent. Apparently our hero is descended from a line of great magicians, though his direct ancestors have been far below average. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to have gotten the power, because he can only use magic eight times (the number of times being the measure of a magician's power). The popular theory, then, is that his child could be an extraordinary magician.

Yeah, right.

This show isn't about his kid though, so let's be honest. Obviously he's the mage of great power, and the fact he can only do it eight times is probably because each of the eight times he's able to do something unbelievably crazy. (That's not even mentioning how absurd an idea that his genes are going to be the ones to produce this super magician, when they must have thought the same about his pathetic previous ancestors, right?)

Then, of course, in the end, when he's out of magic, there'll still be one girl who still loves him, and they can ride off into the sunset.

That's just my guess anyways.

Rating: B+

Posted by Kei at 12:21 AM | Comments (0)

Fullmetal Alchemist Episode 21

Fullmetal Alchemist

"Crimson Glow"

Anime characters never seem to be able to stop people before they kill themselves.

Wow, well this is probably the best episode of the series so far, with former characters popping up and a whole lot of insight shed on the various mysteries of the show so far. On top of that, there's a whole lot of shocking moments when these things are revealed and explained. We finally get some more insight on Scar's character, all ending up with a big showdown (which promises to really heat up in the next episode).

If you've been following the show so far, then it seems like (judging from this episode) it's paid off.

Rating: A

Posted by Kei at 09:22 AM | Comments (1)

March 19, 2004

Maburaho Episode 2


"It Fell..."

The title must be referring to the quality of the show.

Will they ever make a sword-wielding female that doesn't want to kill the main character?

Kazuki has a really annoying, nasal voice. Many anime characters have nasally voices, of course, but his is exceptional, especially since he whines tremendously (as befits a character of his role).

There's a promise at the center of this show, like every show of this type (Ah! My Goddess, Love Hina, etc.). Of course, it's all befuddled because Kazuki doesn't remember it (there's always a big barrier with the promise, some sort of forgetfulness almost always). At least in Maburaho, we get that out of the way quickly. That gives me a little hope, at least, that the show will tackle some prevoiusly unexplored territory in this very formulaic type of show.

Rating: B-

Posted by Kei at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2004

Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien Episode 14

Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien

The best romantic drama anime comes to a close with episode fourteen, and it's just as good at the end as it promised to be in the beginning. Though Kiminozo resorts to the anime tradition of wrapping up in the credits, at least we get satisfactory endings for all the characters. I won't spoil how everyone turns out, you'll just have to watch and see.

The show uses an interesting mechanism to describe the trials and emotional trauma that has come before, using the children's book that Suzumiya had been trying to get. Of course it's easy to make a fictional story match your own fictional story, but it is an interesting alternate way to look at the drama that takes place between the childhood friends. A different children's book (Haruka's) is used at the end of the show, but the content and the story don't seem to match up as well, and the impact doesn't quite hit as hard as it should. It's like I can see what they were trying to do, but they weren't successful.

The music, art and animation for Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien were all beautiful, and the entire show is a top notch product, with a great story and characters to keep it all together. If you're even remotely interested in this genre (and even if you aren't), you should watch this, as the best example of an original romantic anime.

Rating: A

Posted by Kei at 10:34 PM | Comments (5)

March 21, 2004

Fullmetal Alchemist Episode 22

Fullmetal Alchemist

"Created Human"

This episode is basically the climax of the 5th Laboratory story arc, as far as I can tell. Ed is given the chance (not given so much) to create the Philosopher's Stone, weighing the sacrifice of a score of prisoners to Al's life.

The word of the day seems to be "homonculus". More than a few details (though a good number of mysteries remain) about Greed, Envy and Lust are revealed, most interestingly their motivations. That takes up most of the episode, with some other moments spent to introduce a new round of prospective bad guys for Ed (the Crimson Alchemist and friends, newly escaped from the laboratory).

The show's definitely been great lately, and I hope they keep up the intensity, and that the Crimson Alchemist storyline that seems primed to occur in the near future, will not just be a bunch of filler episodes. Also, if the next few episodes follow the show's pattern, they'll be slower, giving Ed some down time (and a chance to recover from his harrowing experiences in the lab).

Rating: A-

Posted by Kei at 12:41 AM | Comments (0)

Noir Episode 8


"Intoccabile Acte I"

Terrible audio to start out this episode. I know Yuki Kajiura has a pretty eclectic sense of melody and orchestration, but come on.

It might just be me, but I find "half face covered by hair" to be a rather uninspiring character design. Though it is kind of amusing that as a child, the Intoccabile would have the same hair quirk.

I tried really hard to like this episode. The action was pretty good, there's a little bit of story development (they don't have Mireille's childhood flashback!!!) and all the other art, animation and music elements that are usually present in an episode of Noir are all there.

But it's just not a very compelling episode. The story really drags along, and it doesn't really seem to tie into the overall story, other than revealing about why Mireille's missing that little tuft of hair (surely you've noticed it by now). We'll see how this story arc (I'm assuming from the title) will fit into the story in general.

At least they're trying.

Rating: B-

Posted by Kei at 09:51 PM | Comments (0)

Maburaho Episode 3


"She Left..."

Well, he's down to six more spells before he's spent. At this rate, this show won't last much longer!

Ah, but something tells me I won't be that lucky.

More fanservicey, bouncy moments with a little bit of inane, pointless story. So, other than the general plot of this show, which I've already guessed, I suppose we'll get the standard ten episodes of various character introductions before the big friction-inducing event happens, moving us into the more story-centric part of this show.

In this episode, a cute little ghost is chased out of her home by real estate agents. Because of this, for some reason she's decided that she'd like to live in Kazuki's room. This poses a problem for him, so like a good samaritan, he offers to help. Random misadventures later, Kazuki uses magic and ultimately makes his life more complicated.

Fun fun fun.

Rating: C

Posted by Kei at 10:20 PM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2004

Read or Die TV Episode 3

Read or Die TV

"Let's Meet at Jinbouchou"

Instead of feeling fuzzy and nostalgic with all the references to the ROD OAV series, watching this episode made me feel nothing but pain.

This episode seemed to try to establish two things: 1. the sisters are crazy about books, and 2. Nenene misses Yomiko, a lot.

Unfortunately, this is all stuff we already knew, and didn't really need a whole episode dedicated to further explanation. Like I've mentioned before, the cast of characters are all so obliviously stupid (with the exception of Nenene), that it makes watching their antics teeth-grittingly terrible. They act like vapid, brainless women, and do things that so defy logic it requires about two more leaps of faith than it takes to believe a bunch of girls could manipulate paper to create enormous paper constructs.

On top of that, the art style and animation can sometimes be a little spotty. One of the weird things (compared to most anime art design) is that the girls are very hippy (referring to their hips), and seem to have waists at lower points than most anime character designs. Because of this, when they walk around (and this is accenuated by the poor animation), it looks like they're just falling forward in a somewhat controlled fashion. It doesn't help that many of the girls usually lurch around, or otherwise propel themselves in an awkward fashion.

Hopefully some plot can come to take my mind off how annoying some of the other parts of the show are. I enjoyed the music cues from the OAV, at least.

Rating: D+

Posted by Kei at 11:10 PM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2004

Noir Episode 9


"Intoccabile Acte II"

I have this phobia, watching the Noir DVDs, that I'll accidentally skip an episode, and not realize it. I guess this says something about the content of the majority of most of the show's installments. Of course, it also says something that I still look forward to watching the show, mostly in hopes that some plot will show up to go along with the great visuals, style and music.

Flashbacks aren't terrible, but when they're as slow as they are in Noir, it becomes painful because you already know where it's going, and it takes so long to get there.

There's some good action scenes in this episode, and the final fight is fairly entertaining, if somewhat anticlimactic. This two episode arc seems to tie into the overall Noir storyline better than the previous seven, but I'm still waiting to get to the meat of the mystery behind who and what the Soldats are. Damn these twenty-four episode series.

I wanted to take a moment to make special mention of the great "work" outfits that Kirika dons throughout the series. Sometimes Mirieille wears similar garb, but somehow they turn out better on Kirika. Good designs!

Rating: B

Posted by Kei at 09:13 AM | Comments (1)

Fullmetal Alchemist Episode 23

Fullmetal Alchemist

"Heart of Steel"

In this slowdown episode, Al continues with one of the most uninteresting, self-pitying character growth stories I've seen in a while. Al questions whether he was ever actually human, or if Ed (and the military) have conspired to implant him with false memories.

Maybe I missed this in one of the earlier episodes, but if Ed can so easily transmute Al to fix him, why the heck can't he do the same to his own arm? I mean, it's not as though alchemy doesn't work on it. He uses it to make that dorky little blade all the time.

Back to the real meat of the episode, though. Winnnnnnry! Isn't she cute?

I wonder if she's going to be relegated to the role of a character who shows up ever ten episodes or so. I hope not, because I think she's a fun character. On the other hand, Al really is insufferable at this point, though he should be cut a little slack because he's just a kid. I hope that they wrap up this whole question as to whether or not he's who Ed says he is, because his attitude is really grating.

Plot doesn't move forward much in this episode, as most of it is given over to hijinks and silliness. It's a nice change of pace before we move into the next story arc.

Rating: B

Posted by Kei at 11:52 PM | Comments (1)

March 24, 2004

Maburaho Episode 4


"He Saw..."

Despite the fact it seems completely out of place in a lighthearted show like this, the atmosphere, spooky music that plays in the episode is really good.

Wow, now there's a terrible eyecatch. (Actually, they've all been pretty bad. This one takes the cake.)

Anyways, this episode deals with a plot that doesn't really make sense to begin with. There are motivations at work here that you aren't supposed to care about, and more or less just serve as an excuse for Kazuki to use up another one of his dwindling spells (at this rate, we're almost done with the show!). Anyways, true to genre convention, the haughty, aloof girl who thinks she's better than our hero ends up falling for him. It's not just about using him! Surprise surprise.

Uh... maybe they'll explain the behemoth thing better in a future episode... Yeah...

Rating: C-

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

March 27, 2004

eX-Driver Episode 2


"On and On"

By the time the eyecatch came up, I could have sworn I had already watched a full episode.

Another episode with a runaway car that requires the intervention of the eX-Drivers to save the day. The car chase stuff is fairly entertaining, but it's barely enough to make up for the extreme nothing (which is passed off as "character development") that happens in the first segment of the show.

Lisa's character seems to be built around whining, which is always a winning character trait.

Though, this is only episode two, which is acceptable lead-in suck time for all anime series.

Rating: D+

Posted by Kei at 10:56 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2004

Fullmetal Alchemist Episode 24

Fullmetal Alchemist

"Affixing Memories"

There's enough flashbacking in this episode that I could have sworn I was watching an episode of Noir.

Unfortunately, this is one of those filler episodes that Fullmetal Alchemist spits out every once in a while. It's not too surprising, given this series is going to finish at over fifty episodes. It's not terrible, as far as moving the plot, as we get some closure to the Ishbal story (is this really the end of Scar?), and it's almost all worth it for Al to stop complaining about whether or not his memories are his own or not.

I thought they artificially created the story of the two Ishbal boys as a mechanism for getting Al to believe that his memories were not artificially created by Ed, but it turns out they pretty much have nothing to do with each other. The Ishbal boys' story is a little far-fetched too, with the conclusion a little too convenient for me to swallow.

At least Winry is bopping around in little spots in this episode. She makes everything better!

Well, hopefully we can get back on track with the storyline next episode.

Rating: B-

Posted by Kei at 12:08 AM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2004

FLCL Episode 3


"Marquis de Carabas"

Halfway through this show, I've got a better idea of what's going on, but where it's all going, and the depths of insanity and weirdness I'll be subjected to before it's all over is far, far beyond my reckoning.

The music, animation and art is really top notch, but the story... It obviously loves being weird for weirdness' sake, but is there a point where the zaniess becomes too much? What's the whole point of everything that's happening? Is it symbolic? Is there some deeper meaning? It's really hard to say because it's all pumped into your brain at a frenetic, hyperactive rollercoaster pace.

You should probably watch FLCL just for the sheer insanity of it all. It's use of the weird goes far beyond masterful.

Rating: B-

Posted by Kei at 10:59 PM | Comments (0)