Hellsing Ultimate

Media format: 3 Episodes of subs

Last viewed: 6 months ago

I wish I could write a full and detailed review of this anime, but it’s not all out yet.  Hellsing is basically another take on the story of Dracula.  Alucard, the vampire, is a servant for the Hellsing organization.  He is the one of the most ancient and powerful of his kind though the exact reason why he works for the Hellsing organization is a mystery.  Britain is facing an upsurge of vampire activity so Alucard is quite busy. 

However, one of the more dynamic characters is Seras Victoria, a former “police girl” turned draculina by Alucard.  Seras is sometimes the comic relief and sometimes a violent blooming rose coming to terms with her new self.  While most of the characters in Hellsing are static, they are all still very interesting and have a dark depth.

The plot and storytelling is good but very much not the focal point of HellsingHellsing is in essence a beautiful and graphic violence orgy with detailed and impressive visuals.  Alucard doesn’t cleanly and efficiently kill the threats.  He destroys his enemies’ swagger and confidence.  He shows the wannabe monsters what real power and fear really is.  After the mental torture, he butchers them.  It’s messy, gruesome, and inhumane but, hey, Alucard isn’t human; he is the fucking original monster of the night.

The animation and audio just exudes badassery.  It is also definitely not for the weak of heart or stomach.  I am looking forward to the next massacre that is Hellsing Ultimate IV.

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Gravitation

Media format: 1-13 Episodes of dubs

Last viewed: 3 years ago

Gravitation is an “yaoi”, or was it considered “Boy Love”.  To be honest, I don’t know.  It’s not really one of my specialties.  The only reason I didn’t stop watching Gravitation when I realized it was about two guys was because I figure I watched Noir, an anime about two chicks, for the story mostly so why not watch Gravitation.  Too bad Gravitation‘s story is weak and probably was only made into an anime to whore out the manga.

Plot and Storytelling:

So there’s this weird pink haired kid named Shuichi.  He wants to make the band he and his friend, Hiro, started famous.  He meets some random blond guy, Eiri, that says his lyrics suck and Shuichi starts stalking Eiri.  And somehow Shuichi falls in love with Eiri even though Eiri keeps pushing him away.  Hilarity ensues?

For me, this plot is kind of “wtf”, but I decided to keep watching anyway.   The main pilot point is Eiri and Shuichi’s relationship, which is understandable.  However, it just seems all the other pilot points are underdeveloped and kind of half-assed at times.  Oh, Hiro is in love with Eiri’s fiance!  Okay, back to Eiri and Shuichi.  Granted the series was kind of short and didn’t really get enough time to develop the other problems and issues, but it’s still mildly annoying.  In terms of at least dealing with the main plot point, it’s pretty well done.  Actually somehow made me pay attention to their seemingly doomed relationship.

Characters:

The characters are decent.  Nothing really interesting or refreshing, but they are distinct for the most part.  Usually the tone is just silly and goofy, but when the plot needs it, the characters do show their more emotional side.  While usually I’m laughing at them due to a sense of Schadenfreude, my laughter at least means their feelings seemed real enough and believable.  Ultimately, that’s what made me give a crap about the characters.

Animation and Audio:

The animation was very clean and indistinct.  As in, it seemed pretty generic.  At least, the animation at least gets darker when the mood gets darker unlike some other animes I’ve seen.  There’s a lot of chibi stuff and other various anime staples, but overall, the animation was nothing special.

The English dub was good in my opinion.  Each voice actor did add more personality to the characters though maybe not in the same way as the Japanese Seiyū (I have no idea, I didn’t watch the Japanese version).  The music sucked for this anime though.  I thought Shuichi looked retarded on stage and the song was meh at best.  I usually fast-forwarded after I heard the song the first time.

Afterglow:

The ending was decent.  It didn’t impressive but it didn’t disappoint either.  Not all that surprising considering who Shuichi is.

Conclusion:

Well considering Gravitation was a yaoi, it could have been a lot worse.  The plot involving the main relationship was decently developed though the other points seemed forgotten.  The characters were real enough to be effective and the animation was at least appropriate and matched the mood.  But in the end, the plot and storytelling was weak overall and the music sucked for an anime with a decent amount of it’s focus on bands.  Gravitation was just an average anime.  Nothing great but nothing bad either.


Guyver

Media format: 1-2 Episodes of dubs

Last viewed: 2 months ago

The first and only animecon that I ever went to had a really cool Guyver cosplay advertising the anime and actually got me interested.  Too bad it only took one episode for me to hate Guyver.  I really only watched the second episode to give it the benefit of the doubt.  This anime really pissed me off because the animation is really lazy.  I realize there are anime techniques designed to decrease work (slow/stop motion running or still frames with the bubbly love background), but there’s a limit to when saving frames is too obvious and a sign of laziness.  I don’t mind most techniques if they also produce a desired dramatic effect.  I don’t like it if whole scenes look like it could be done with one drawn frame and a lot of Flash motion tweening.  Guyver is an action anime and NOT Aqua Teen Hunger Force.  ATHF can get away with being made in flash because it’s a comedy based on dialogue and situation.  But Guyver is an action anime…without the action or the animation, it’s just crap.  Even the fight scenes are lame.  They look like a total of five frames are drawn and had a lot of Photoshop effects applied to them.

Now if the story was amazing, I might have kept watching.  However, it just seemed like some generic story about the government making a secret weapon, one of which falls into the hands of some high school kid.  Some alien cover up might be included, too.

 Either way, Guyver was a boring pile of shit.


Beck

Media format: 1-26 Episodes of subs

Last viewed: 1 year ago

BECK is a great anime for any teenager.  It’s even good enough for those people that have grown out of it.

Plot and Storytelling:

At it’s very heart, BECK is a coming of age story.  Koyuki is just a 14-year old teenage boy in school.  He’s kind of bored and has no idea what he wants to do with life.  His musical taste is shallow basically clinging on any current pop idol.  And one day it all changed…he found a giant robot.  No wait, wrong anime.  BECK‘s plot is very down to Earth.  It’s not a fantasy or a murder mystery.  It’s just a slice of life story with some lucky but plausible encounters. 

The way the story advances is very realistic.  Yeah, there’s conflict, but nothing is over the top.  The pacing is well done and the story really sucks you in.  The focus of the story is not single minded and often deals with other things in life other than the music.

Characters:

All the characters made sense.  Even though you don’t know too much about each character’s past, the characters are fleshed out and portrayed consistently enough so that they all feel like someone you might meet in life.  They are real down to Earth with their problems and dreams.  Sure they want to make great music, but that doesn’t make them immune to life’s other problems like bills and love.  From the lovable bunch of misfits that is BECK to the shady record company owners, they exist and act as they should.

Animation and Audio:

Originally aired in 2004, BECK has a real distinct feel to it that separates it from other animes.  It doesn’t quite have the same clean, perfectly drawn feel that a lot of more generic animes have.  A lot of BECK feels like you are watching home video with it’s softer, darker colors which contrasts with more generic anime that feel candy coated.  With the way the lighting and shadows are handled, BECK feels like it’s trying to simulate real life which makes the whole story more believable.  Another really good touch was using CGI to animate the guitar work.  I don’t play a guitar so I have no idea whether the hand positions are right but it sure looks like it could be to me.

BECK is one of those animes that would lose a lot in translation.  I know FUNimation Entertainment picked up BECK and dubbed it, but it wouldn’t be as good as the original Japanese audio for a few reasons.  A lot of the humor in BECK is about the language barrier between some of the characters.  Koyuki speaking perfect English removes a lot of the awkward situations and makes some of events almost nonsensical unless the viewer actively remembers that many of the Japanese characters only know rudimentary English.  That being said, the Japanese audio is not perfect.  For living in United States for 10 years, Maho’s English is really bad.  It’s slurred and the intonation is off.  Also, the “American” documentary maker has probably the most fobbish lines ever.  However, a lot of English speakers in the anime obviously were actual voiced by English voice actors, which in my opinion is a good thing.  Ryûsuke’s English is also pretty good and fits his history pretty well.

Also, the music of BECK loses some charm when dubbed in English.  I felt the Japanese version with its grammar errors and off pronunciation make the anime seem more real.  Even with those grammar and pronunciation problems, the Japanese version of the songs are still effective.  After all, music is supposed to transcend language and physical borders right?

Afterglow:

Realism being the general theme of the anime, BECK doesn’t end with them taking over the world with their music.  They don’t sign big deals with big music executives and reach a level of superstar-dom.  But it’s not a  bad ending either.  Actually, I thought it was quite happy and touching.  It made me feel a warm and fuzzy on the inside, which is something rare for me.

Conclusion:

I love BECK.  The music is good and the voice acting is awesome.  The characters are well developed and alive in their own right.  The story is realistic and gripping which just the right pace and feel with an animation style that just enhances every aspect of the story and characters.  I would just recommend watching subtitled with Japanese audio and not English dub.  Too much is lost due to dubbing like the language barrier aspects of the story.  BECK is a very good anime and I would recommend it to anyone.


Air Gear

Media format: 1-15 Episodes of English dubs

Last viewed: 1 week ago

BLLLLAAAAAAAAHHHHHH.  The music is pretty good for this anime.  Unfortunately, the action doesn’t hold to the beat.  Most of the action sequences could be made in Flash.  As in, it looked like they drew a frame of movement and motion tweened it for 10 seconds at a time.  The animation kind of reminded me of the visuals from the Reading Rainbow TV show, which is fine for a TV show about books but not so great for anime.  Even so, they do manage to get a few epic looking scenes in the anime.  Unfortunately, a lot of the action sequences has too much implied action and not enough straight-up action.

Then, the humor actually bogs down the anime more.  As in, it’s not funny at all.  OMG panties!  Wee?  I don’t give a crap about panties shots or boob shots.  To be honest, I hate fanservice.  Mostly because most fanservice is neither funny or moves the plot forward.  Love Hina‘s fanservice usually involves some funny situation or forces the story in an odd direction.  Air Gear‘s fanservice usually is lame and is there just to appeal to hormones.  If I wanted my hormones to be appealed, I wouldn’t be watching anime.  Just saying.

The storyline is really stupid so far.  There isn’t anything deep or moving.  Just a bunch of generic shots and vague talk of emotions that doesn’t really show through.  I personally think Ikki is as bipolar as Akito.  One episode, he says he can’t talk about his “sister’s” nice ass.  But a previous episode, he tried to get a naked headlock from her…I mean…come on.  That’s hardly consistent.  And the rest of the male characters can be summed in one word, “perverts”, while the female characters are all just “violent”.

So in other words, Air Gear has low quality animation that looks like motion tweening from Flash, boring characters with little depth, boring plot with crappy storytelling, but good music.  So…I’m not watching it anymore.  I watched for 15 episodes…that’s long enough.


Wolf’s Rain

Media format: 30 Episodes of dubs

Last viewed: 1 years ago

I’m not interested in wolves at all, which makes it a tad harder for me to give a crap about an anime full of wolves.

Plot and Storytelling:

So the basic plot of Wolf’s Rain involves a bunch of wolves that can cast the illusion that they are human to other humans.  Actually, all wolves can do this because all wolves are mystical, get their power from the moon, and are all attracted to a girl that smells like lunar flower.  Oh, and the girl that smells like lunar flower can bring about the end of the world and open the way to “paradise”.  I have no idea what “paradise” is supposed to be but apparently it’s for wolves only.  There’s also some humans travelling on a similar path as the wolves; each travelling for their own purpose.  So…yeah I don’t really get the story either. 

But the storytelling itself is decent.  It’s nothing superb like Kino’s Journey or Noir, but it gets the job down and does hold your attention pretty well.

Characters:

The characters are understandable, which is very important to me.  Unless the anime is a comedy, I can’t stand nonsensical characters that do not follow any sort of rhyme or reason.  Is it wrong to say that all the characters in the anime are very human?  Hmm…either way, the characters aren’t bad though nothing too special.

Animation and Audio:

The animation is very detailed and appropriate.  Everything in the world seems fitting from the broken down cities to the their shabby inhabitants.  Then fight scenes are well drawn, but unfortunately, I’m just not interested in seeing wolves fight.  All they do is claw, bite, and run, which doesn’t really hold my attention too well.

The audio quality is decent.  To be honest, I don’t remember much of the soundtrack…possibly due to me being bored by the fight scenes.  But the bits I remember were well done.

Afterglow:

The ending of Wolf’s Rain is really weird.  It’s like Last Exile out of the blue except less positive more confusing.  I can’t say I particularly liked it.

Conclusion:

Well, the plot is odd and the fight scenes are boring.  However, the storytelling and visuals are pretty decent.  Personally, I think I just don’t like wolves enough to enjoy this anime.  Either way, I neither recommend nor discourage others from viewing this anime.


Kino and Hermes 

Also known as: Kino no Tabi -the Beautiful World-

Media format: 13 Episodes of dubs

Last viewed: 1 years ago

I believe Kino’s Journey is based off of a light novel series if I remember correctly.  What I do remember correctly is that the storytelling in Kino’s Journey is amazing.

Plot and Storytelling:

Kino is a “traveler”, someone who travels from country to country, usually in the company of a “motorrad”, a sentient motorcycle named Hermes.  While travelers and motorrads are commonly accepted everywhere it their world, they rarely meet other travelers or motorrads.  The young traveler and company wander through some of the most beautiful and fantastic lands and towns, but are never unprepared for the danger ever present in the world.  Armed to the teeth, Kino always has several trusty “persuaders”, the word for gun in the world, in reach as well as an assortment of other knives.  Atleast that seems to be the basic premise, Kino’s Journey doesn’t really explain anything to the viewer.  It just drops you in the story and goes from there.

The story from episode to episode is just another small section in Kino’s journey though never the destination if there is one.  No hint of grandeur through mysterious foreshadowing.  No epic fight with the source of all evil.  It’s just a simple little journey through a beautiful and twisted world. 

The thing that stands out the most to me is the contradictions in the world.  Probably the most quoted line from Kino’s Journey is “The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.”  This one line reflects the general tone of this anime so well.  The world is more beautiful because of all the ugly, dark intentions in it.  The world is perfect because it is not perfect.  Some of the worst countries and tragedies are due to people trying to be perfect.  From the Land of Adults to the country ruled by majority vote, each step towards ‘perfection’ is another step towards insanity.  There are plenty of wicked people in this anime.  At the same time, there are plenty of well meaning people doing horrible things.  

For example, the woman who wants to prevent war by advocating the competitive slaughter of a weak nomadic people instead of all out war.  The reason she advocated this was because her family have all died to the war effort.  At the same time, the weapons of war were becoming more and more destructive.  By adopting her brutal suggestion, the two countries probably avoided mutual destruction as well as greatly lowered war spending so it was a win-win situation for the two countries.  

Was her suggestion right?  It saved two great countries and greatly improved the standard on living for the people of both at the cost of the slaughter of a weaker third party.  The anime doesn’t really judge or say.  There isn’t an opinion forced onto the viewer.  Everything about the anime just is.  No moral, no lesson.  It is just Kino’s personal journey through an imperfect world that is beautiful because of its flaws.

Characters:

The biggest quality of the characters has to be their believability.  All of the characters are all understandable even the inherently insane ones.  Despite the craziness of the world around them and despite damages deal to them, the people (friendly or fiend) in Kino’s Journey continue forward to struggle and survive.

Animation and Audio:

When it comes to fight scenes, the action is amazing and always fresh.  Nothing is censored in Kino’s Journey, yet at the same time, nothing is graphic and violent for shock value either.  From the fight scenes to the flashbacks, there isn’t any needless animation reuse if any.  The term “flashback” might be inappropriate for this anime since most flashbacks are of events not shown to the viewer anyway.

Additionally, the animation is beautiful.  Th world of Kino’s Journey has a surreal feel to it where it is not uncommon to see a land with advanced technology like hovercrafts and old technology like phonograms.  The world might not have heavier than air flight yet talking motorcycles are common place.

The audio is appropriate.  Since the story is told so straight forward and plainly, there isn’t really a theme song for the anime.  Most events have no background music, just background noise.

Afterglow:

This was probably one of the few animes that consistently made me feel depressed after each episode.  Still, clocking in at 13 episodes, I wanted more when it ended.  There wasn’t really any thing left over to conclude or anything since Kino’s Journey seems like an eternal journey.  I just wanted some more time watching it.  Luckily, there is an OVA and a movie out too so I have a bit more to look forward to.

Conclusion:

Depressing and thought provoking, Kino’s Journey is a beautiful story full of contradictions delivered plainly and without pretense.  Words failed me in trying to get my feelings for this anime across.  All I can say is go watch this anime.  It is the best storytelling I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.