May 01, 2004

Madlax Episode 4


"Temptation - Ask"

It struck me, four episodes into this show, that I don't really know (or maybe it's that I just don't care) what's going on in Madlax. I don't really know any of the characters, either. I haven't really identified with any of them, and I don't really feel like I'm involved in the story at all.

This episode is another abstract, scattered sort of episode, where Madlax only appears for a few moments, and is connected to the events for some weird reason that really isn't explained. Also, just to figure out what's going on in this episode (the story beyond the random things you seem to be seeing on the screen), requires far more critical thinking than I think anyone wants to spend. So, basically, the story's just this obscure, slow-moving thing that doesn't really involve any characters we care about.

I really wish I knew what this show was about, or had even the slightest inkling about where it's going. I figure Margaret and Madlax have to get together and have adventures eventually, but they're nowhere near that. Maybe next episode, Madlax will actually be a main character in...

Rating: D

Posted by Kei at 08:32 AM | Comments (1)

May 02, 2004

Bakuretsu Tenshi Episode 1

Bakuretsu Tenshi

"Hell Is Coming Silently"

The first thing that should be said about Bakuretsu Tenshi is that Gonzo has really cleared a hurdle in regards to blending traditional 2D animation with 3D CG. If you're really looking for it, you'll see it, but most of the time it goes by looking completely natural, which is great, because it means that the action scenes involving the big mechs (cybots) looks better than ever.

The character designs are really different and cool, with your usual Gonzo fanservice, bouncy females, dressed in absurd costumes (my favorite would have to be Meg, with her tarted-up cowgirl look (complete with hat). Lots of great color use, which makes the show stand out from many of the others immediately.

The first episode of Bakuretsu Tenshi fills me with hope that it might actually be a well-executed action anime. We get a whole lot of Jo flying through the air with guns blazing, in that stylish, Hong Kong-style. If the whole series maintains the level of quality as the early fights (or surpasses it), this could be a fun show.

Rating: A-

Posted by Kei at 04:19 AM | Comments (0)

Fullmetal Alchemist Episode 30

Fullmetal Alchemist

"South Headquarters Assault"

As is the norm on Fullmetal Alchemist lately, Mustang shows up for about five seconds and does his little one line thing, which is still too bad.

I was just thinking, while watching this episode, that the show is really pretty inconsistent about how exactly alchemy works. I don't think it really takes away from the show (let's face it, we're not watching to see the fundamental laws of alchemy), but it is sort of amusingly random. Obviously the one huge part of alchemy is narrative.

So, we finally get an explanation as to why Izumi keeps coughing up blood (other than being an anime character, which to me seems like a good enough excuse). They've dropped a few hints about what she may or may not have done, but it's nice to get the definitive answer. As that's really all her character had still going for her, I wonder if they're going to kill her off in the near future.

Speaking of the unbelievability of the show, Izumi's health problem is just another one of those ridiculous things you'll have to swallow. Also, in this episode, in a little mini-combat, an enemy takes Al's head (helmet) off pretty easily. From previous episodes, we know that this completely exposes the seal that keeps his soul in the armor, so this seems like a pretty huge weakness.

This is a good buildup episode, and I'm really curious to see what happens when it all hits the fan next episode, with a promised fight between Izumi, Ed, Al, Armstrong, the Mad Bomber, and (apparently) the Dopplefuhrer. Of course, being anime, it could all fall apart, but I'm hoping for a good fight.

Rating: A-

Posted by Kei at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

FLCL Episode 4


"Full Swing"

Hm. Well, I wish I could do a content review about this episode, but let's just say it's pretty out of this world. Which is to say that it's pretty standard for FLCL. If there's any real cohesive story, it's a little bit about baseball, a little bit about jealousy, a little bit about the city blowing up, and a lot about being weird.

I almost feel like everyone should watch this show just for the pure insanity of it all. Maybe with a few repeated viewings, this stuff becomes more clear, but the first time you see it, more like than not, you'll be going, "Huh?"

What I can say is that the production values are still incredible, and the music still rocks.

So, yeah, if you'd like to watch a show that is seriously twisted, and has some sort of underlying meaning that is convered by layers and layers of wackiness. Check out FLCL!

Rating: B

Posted by Kei at 10:21 PM | Comments (1)

Bakuretsu Tenshi Episode 2

Bakuretsu Tenshi

"The Heartless Gunfighter"

Everybody's loosey!

The action that started in the first episode definitely carries over into the second, the cybot fight taking advantage of the 3D animation to do some really cool things that 2D just can't do (compare the fight here to an earlier Gonzo series, like Full Metal Panic!).

Not too much plot stuff revealed, but when you're going for action, who really needs plot, right?

Jo's journey into the underworld gives the show an opportunity to display a lot more crazy character designs, that really give the future world of Bakuretsu Tenshi a unique look (not to mention cute female leads). Adding to the setting is a good soundtrack, that ranges from hard rock to music inspired by good, old fashioned westerns.

I'm pretty jazzed about this series, especially if it continues to put out more great action sequences.

Rating: B+

Posted by Kei at 10:49 PM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2004

Saikano Episode 03


"Together, Alone"

I think this show could be at least eleven or thirteen times better if Chise's character wasn't so unsympathetic and wasn't so pathetic. It makes you wonder about Shuji, who basically has a girlfriend that he treats like a pet dog or something. (That's all the way down to the way he gives her food, pats her on the head, calls her "dummy", etc.)

I also find it odd that Shuji can't figure out what Chise is doing when she stands him up. I figure an invasion of Japan would be pretty newsworthy, and the destruction of a bunch of attacking forces in Osaka just might be on his radar.

Just as the story was beginning to annoy me, though, the hand of fate interjects! Enter Shuji's old flame! With Shuji already having problems figuring out his feelings for Chise, Fuyumi-sempai (his old middle school teacher, or something) only serves to mess him up more. But that's what I call entertainment!

Rating: B+

Posted by Kei at 09:54 PM | Comments (0)

Midori no Hibi Episode 5

Midori no Hibi

"The Power of Love"

This show is really, really bad. Luckily, the premise is so bizarre, I actually want to know how they get themselves out of this. Five episodes in, they haven't even hinted at how they might return Midori to her real body, so in the interim, I'm forced to slog through these terrible episodes.

Really, when it comes down to it, this show is just as bad as the concept implies. Imagine how the meeting went where they came up with this brilliant show:

"Alright, we're going to do another romantic, young-adult anime."
"What's the catch?"
"Something has to keep the lovers apart... She could be... half-robot? An alien? His sister?"
"No, no, those are all done to death."
"Well... what if..." And he looks at his right hand. "What if she's his RIGHT HAND?"
"Great! Imagine the problems that will cause! Run with it."

Okay, so I think there was actually a manga first, but you get the picture.

I also hope that the doll-otaku's getting hit with heavy objects as a way to try and get his memory back doesn't turn into a recurring concept that finally leads up to an episode in the future where he remembers about Midori, and proceeds to cause problems for Seiji. But I'm pretty sure it will.

Oh, before I forget, the plot of this episode. It's your standard romantic anime, one of the characters gets sick, then the other character gets sick after taking care of the other one. Except this time, one of them is the other's right hand (substitute that for alien, sister, goddess, robot, or whatever floats your boat).

Rating: C-

Posted by Kei at 10:38 PM | Comments (6)

May 04, 2004

Kono Minikuku mo Utsukushii Sekai Episode 3

Kono Minikuku Mo Utsukushii Sekai

"Three-shade for Two"

In the words of Strong Bad:

"There is two of them?"

In this episode we're introduced to Akari, who appears to be like Hikari in many ways (you wouldn't have guessed, huh?). Except that she's hooked up with Ryou instead of Takeru. It's almost like we get to see how two different guys deal with their newfound pets. After the early craziness of the show, it's passed into a sort of sci-fi domestic normality.

Other than a long (most of the episode) exploration of Ryou's current relationship with Akari, there's not much to this episode. Now that Akari and Hikari are both establlished, I'm hoping that the story can move on. Really, I'm getting annoyed by how many episodes one through five I have to make this same comment, complaining about how there's nothing going on.

Otherwise, the pictures are pretty enough (though the voices grate on me a bit), and the music is fairly unoffensive and is a welcome addition in some scenes.

Rating: B

Posted by Kei at 12:49 AM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2004

Saikano Episode 04



For an episode called "Fuyumi", she sure doesn't show up, or play a very big part in it. Which is too bad, because I really hope her story isn't over, as I like the wrinkle messing around with Shuji's emotions presents.

One thing that Saikano does really well is tell a lot of story and deliver a lot of exposition in very short amounts of time. Through offhand comments and careful delivery of information, one or two lines can fill in a lot of stuff about the characters, what's going on and more.

One of the things that I don't like about Saikano is Chise's character, as I've mentioned before. She seems like she's an eight year old or something (both in appearance and in attitude). In this episode, she spouts off about how she'd like to try and protect everyone in the world if she could, of course completely missing the fact that the people she's killing are part of the world. She doesn't even come to that particular realization, though she does think she's not able to protect anyone, being a weapon. So, somehow she came to the right conclusion, just by the wrong reasoning. I would say her character design is pretty uninspired, also. And unappealing, unless you're into that sort of thing (which you shouldn't rush to admit). Then again, Fuyumi, who's probably supposed to be around 30, looks about 16, so whatever.

This was kind of a slow episode, rehashing a lot of what's already been gone over. How Shuji and Chise are trying to escape the military, but can't, and anyways, Chise knows she can't hide, because if she does, many people will die. Oh yeah, and Chise's friend probably has some secret love for Shuji, which would explain (stereotypically) why she treats him so poorly.

A lot of what happens is genuinely emotional, though I can't really take anything that Chise feels seriously, since she's such a ridiculous character (what with the huge mechanical wings and all). The other characters all work pretty well, though.

Oh, and I have to also mention that this war really could use some explanation. Sure it's not the focal point of the story, but when your setting is so insane (Japan is getting wiped off the face of the earth, why doesn't anyone care?), you should have to explain yourself, or pick a more generic story.

Rating: C+

Posted by Kei at 12:02 AM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2004

Kono Minikuku mo Utsukushii Sekai Episode 4

Kono Minikuku Mo Utsukushii Sekai

"Your Life from Now On"

Jennifer proudly joins the ranks of the most annoying character voices ever. On the same note, I can deal with Hikari's (Aoi from Ai Yori Aoshi) voice, but I can't stand Akari's (Karen from Onegai Twins, but having sucked on more helium).

There's an earth-shattering revelation in this episode:

Akari and Hikari are Transformers.

Think about it... They traveled through space, and then they fell onto Earth, and they assumed human forms for some reason. If you think of the girls like Transformers it makes sense. They wanted to be able to integrate into the world, so when they made contact with Takeru, they figured on human forms!

It all makes sense now.

Anyways, most of this episode is dedicated to Akari's addition to the show, Ryou's apparently incestuous relationship with his sister (sigh), which only becomes more amusing because Akari is voiced by one of the incestuous (actually, *the* incestuous Onegai Twin).

And when I say amusing, I mean more painful.

Rating: C-

Posted by Kei at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2004

Fullmetal Alchemist Episode 31

Fullmetal Alchemist


In case you hadn't figured out how the Homonculus are created, it gets spelled out in this episode. Much to my amusement, Mustang still only appears for about two seconds in this episode (fulfilling his quota). All this, and Mustang was voted the number three most popular male anime character in Animage (Ed being first!). Hawkeye was also named the most popular female character, which probably says something about how pathetic female characters in anime are.

All that buildup is leading to a fight between Al and Wrath in the next episode. This particular story arc hasn't completely fascinated me, as all this stuff with the gate seems a little too fantastical for me. Maybe hokey is a better word for it.

Behind the scenes during this segment of story, a lot of the various groups have been moving around (Mustang, the Ishbal refugees, the Homonculi), and I'm awaiting the point where we finally see where it's all going, as this story arc almost seems to be in this other pocket Fullmetal Alchemist universe. Also, not being a very big fan of Greed, his enlarged presence in the last few episodes hasn't really made me happy.

Rating: B

Posted by Kei at 11:35 AM | Comments (1)

May 19, 2004

Fullmetal Alchemist Episode 32

Fullmetal Alchemist

"Dante of the Deep Forest"

Maybe I spoke too soon in my review of the last episode. Now, the show makes it absolutely clear to anyone who hasn't figured it out yet what the deal with crazy boy's ability to use alchemy (despite the fact he's a Homunculus).

But on with the new stuff. I haven't enjoyed an episode of Fullmetal Alchemist as much as this one for quite a while. It's kind of an unhappy episode that will piss you off, as nothing seems to go right for our heroes. Whether it's an impediment to progress, some really annoying victories for the bad guys, or an outright loss, the good guys really take a beating in a very short amount of time. Hey, I get tired of seeing the good guys winning all the time!

Wrath is immediately my favorite of the Homonculi, and I think that he's probably the best villain in the show right now. His crazy insanity, and the fact that Izumi refuses to let Ed and Al take him out, adds frustration to the situation, and helps Wrath do all sorts of annoying things that make you hate him (he's got one of those great, psychotic voice actors, too).

Thirty-two episodes down and this show continues to have an engaging storyline, great music, art and animation. It's not always a slam dunk, but there are more than enough good episodes to this show. Even though the competition isn't very hot right now, I'd say this is the best new anime on television.

Rating: A+

Posted by Kei at 12:46 AM | Comments (5)

May 21, 2004

Maburaho Episode 5


"He Did It..."

If he really did, it'd probably make the demographic of this show happier.

Kazuki has a great facial expression in this episode. I had to rewind three times so that I could get enough of it. There's more than just that though, there were a handful of moments in the episode where characters had the perfect look or expression. This was a really light-hearted, silly episode that was somehow not quite as blatantly fanservicey (even though there's still a lot of it).

After losing interest in this show with each successive episode, I think this one actually brightened my outlook a bit.

In this episode, Rin wants to make a homemade lunch for Nanba, a boy she has a crush on who is leaving the school. Unfortunately, as all characters of her stereotype, she's totally unfeminine, and is completely incapable of cooking. There's nothing really original about this episode, but it's all put together in a way that is surprisingly fun and entertaining.

I guess it makes sense, as it's episode five, and every series seems to turn for the better after the opening four.

Rating: A-

Posted by Kei at 12:26 AM | Comments (2)

May 23, 2004

Kono Minikuku mo Utsukushii Sekai Episode 5

Kono Minikuku Mo Utsukushii Sekai

"School Days"

Fun fact:

The voice actress for Hikari played the character Akari in To Heart, which is fun because there is of course an Akari character in Konomini, and they have similar hair colors.

There definitely was no fear in creating completely two-dimensional characters for this show. (Haha, get it? Two-dimensional?)

In case you'd like to skip this episode and move right along to the next one, I'll give you a quick rundown of the story. Hikari decides that she wants to see what school is like. She can't understand why people go to school if they don't like it. In the end she figures it out, but it seems the creators of the show realized that it wouldn't be very interesting to show Hikari going to school every day. Easy solution to that problem: destroy the school!

And that's pretty much it. So far, this show has really sucked. This episode is completely pointless, other than introducing Kuon's big Orko-looking brother, and having Hikari talk about how she likes to see all the colors (and an ominous bit of foreshadowing, the "ugly" part of the show's title).

Rating: D

Posted by Kei at 10:08 PM | Comments (0)

Texhnolyze Episode 2



Well, it can only get better, right?

At the beginning of the episode, we see a man who has just had his arm and leg severed. While watching this show, I wish I were him. (By the way, it is totally unpleasant listening to him scream.)

By the way, how absurd is the word "Texhnolyze" anyways?

I'll admit that the reasons I'm probably so confused by what's happening in this episode are twofold: 1. I kept drifting in and out of sleep while watching the first episode, and 2. I thought the first episode was so bad, I had to let weeks go by before I hazarded the second.

I've been really harsh on this show up until now, so let me give it a few compliments. Okay, one compliment. I do think that the visual design is extremely good, with the near-future, grittiness well-realized and believable. But it's all static, which is boring in animation. The show is so slow that there's never much movement at any point, not to mention the pacing of the show is so slow, the plot could be summarized in about two sentences.

I'm also not really crazy about the character designs, but that's just my personal preference.

This show stinxhz.

Rating: D

Posted by Kei at 11:36 PM | Comments (3)

May 31, 2004

Fullmetal Alchemist Episode 33

Fullmetal Alchemist

"Al Is Kidnapped"

In this episode, Al is kidnapped. How's that for truth in advertising?

There's a weird music choice at the beginning of the episode that sticks out from anything I've heard so far in the serries, which I found a little weird. After that goes by, it's pretty much another good, solid episode of Fullmetal Alchemist.

Along with some action, the main focus of this episode is learning more about Greed, his motivations, special abilities, etc. There's also some more "whose side are you on anyways?" wrangling throughout, and Tucker is thrown into the mix again (boy does he get around). Right now, the various factions of this show are bouncing around in so many places, and crossing over, it's hard to have a clear sense of exactly what's going on. The brothers' quest for the Philosopher's Stone also seems to have been sidetracked for a good amount of time now, but I actually prefer this side story to it.

There's an exchange between Ed and Greed which reminds me of every fight Kenshin participates in.

Bad Guy: You can't beat me unless you unleash the Hitokiri, Battousai!
Kenshin: No, I will remain a rurouni!
Bad Guy: Then you'll die!

Kenshin always wins in the end, without giving in.

Rating: A-

Posted by Kei at 12:03 AM | Comments (1)