Author Topic: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)  (Read 30879 times)

Offline CX

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Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« on: June 19, 2014, 11:40:31 AM »
So, yeah, I've become quite the anime nerd since the last time I was here.  In fact, not long after I started on my quest of looking up all the various things that looked like they might be interesting to watch and putting together a list of them, which I then began to watch alphabetically, except for a few a skipped ahead to.  Anyway, when I got to one in particular, I felt driven to write a review for it, and thus my obsession for writing a review for every anime (or animated work) I watched was born.  That was in July 2010.  As you might imagine, I have quite a few reviews now, which I'll list below alphabetically.

I plan to post a review once a day, and I'm thinking I'll post them as close to the order I originally wrote them as possible, though I'll skip ahead to any that people might request.  You'll notice that most of my early reviews tend to be a bit short - I guess I just felt most of them didn't deserve the attention I gave to Blue Gender, the first series I reviewed.  I also didn't include screencaps initially, though later on I began to do this fairly regularly as an excuse to snark at something. ;)  I'll also warn you that the majority of my reviews are somewhat spoiler heavy, as I like to discuss some specific things I liked or disliked about a series or movie.  I have tweaked some of the reviews a little from when I first posted them, but this is mostly to correct typos and the like.

Also, and I can't emphasize this enough, please feel free to comment on my reviews. 

My Recommendations:

These are shows I especially liked for whatever reason. Some are good sci-fis, some are funny, some are over-the-top action "man-ime", or well, whatever. They are in roughly "top" order, though to be honest it's kind of hard for me to rank them past the top 5.

The Index:

Everything I've written reviews for, in roughly alphabetical order (by franchise title).


I'll be posting direct links to each review as I post them.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2016, 06:21:56 PM by CX »
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


Offline CX

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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2014, 11:42:12 AM »
Blue Gender
(26 episode series)

I've actually been thinking about this one quite a bit since I started to watch it, and now that I've finished watching it.  It really isn't anything special per say, and in fact one could call it fairly derivative.  It's a mostly standard issue post-apocalyptic fare, with the protagonist having slept through said apocalypse.  That being said, I actually found it quite watchable and interesting.  Especially in the start of the series, I found myself drawn in and I just had to watch the next episode to find out what happened after what was usually a cliffhanger ending.  It wasn't until later on in the series that I found myself disappointed, and frankly at times annoyed with what the series was trying to say and how it was saying it.

The series opened right in the middle of things.  I'm usually annoyed with openings like this, and this wasn't much of an exception, but I was just interested enough by it to not get too annoyed.  Thankfully I didn't have to wait all that long for an explanation as to why the whiny, cowardly main character I was introduced to (he literally pisses his pants within the first five minutes) ended up in a cryo tube, and to an extent why there are giant bugs trying to kill everyone we've met so far.

I hate to say it, but the characters we meet at first aren't all that terribly interesting, including the main character, Yuji, who, for some reason, doesn't even think to ask how long he's been asleep.  He was only supposed to be asleep for a year or two while doctors literally tried to figure out what ailed him and apparently quite a few others so they could develop a treatment for it.  Pretty much the standard excuse to turn someone into a popsicle in pretty much every show to ever have suspended animation that doesn't also include a prolonged journey across space.  As it turns out in this case, bad things happened, and Yuji receives a very rude awakening, about twenty years after he was supposed to have been awakened originally. 

What happened?  Well, to quote Starship Troopers, "BUGS!"   Yes, as lame as that is, somehow giant bugs have taken over and turned all but a lucky few (relatively speaking) into tightly packed green balls that they never bother eating or doing anything with.  Basically it serves as a body horror image until the "message" comes along and ruins everything.

Anyway, back to the characters, most of them are basically cold-hearted bastards, which is constantly rubbed in as the series progresses.  Not only are most of the military personnel who were sent to recover Yuji and his fellow sleepers this way, but their superiors in the orbital stations that serve as humanity's last bastion are especially cold-hearted.  As it turns out, if this recovery team hadn't managed to recover any sleepers, they would have been left planet-side for dead, which is what ends up happening to most of them anyway.  That being said, while plenty of humans have managed to escape into orbit where the bugs can't get them, we're informed that only the select few seen as too valuable to lose were chosen to live on the orbital stations, which are collectively known as Second Earth.  While that makes it all the more confusing as to why they would then treat their soldiers as completely expendable, what makes even those expendable soldiers complete bastards is that they've all been completely brainwashed into believing the humans who have by some miracle managed to survive on the surface and not get turned into green balls are actually already as good as dead.  This means that while Yuji, and by extension the audience, sees a little girl being attacked by a giant bug and wants to stop to help, all of the soldiers he's with want to completely ignore it.  Oh, and if a "groundling" happens to get between them and a bug, the soldiers are supposed to shoot through them.  While this does lead to some verbal exchanges, I kind of wanted to see Yuji and the beautiful blonde ice queen who initially rescued him, Marlene, come to blows and exchange a few punches, too, mostly just because I would have in his place given what happened and what was being said.  Jury's still out on whether I would have pissed myself upon waking up and nearly being killed by a bug the size of a cow...

Only one of the soldiers really had any redeeming qualities, which was Joey.  Unlike Marlene, Joey actually seemed human.  He was compassionate and more than once stuck up for Yuji when Marlene was being a bitch to him.  It was nice that this was a series, so we could see that friendship develop, even though things were still moving along at a pretty fast clip.

We do see some of that development between Yuji and Marlene, but I feel it still could have used more to explain why the two of them develop feelings.  Marlene never really seems to be all that compassionate towards Yuji despite saving his life repeatedly; if anything she makes it seem like a pain that she has to keep doing it, since Yuji is basically her ticket back to Second Earth.  On Yuji's end, it seems more physical than anything, because Marlene is pretty attractive (and also nekkid in the end credits, FYI ;) ).  They do have some time to talk and argue with each other, but most of their time is spent running away from giant bugs.  She explains how humanity has basically lost touch with emotions, which is why they all have pointless sex and why she's such a frigid bitch to him.  He basically goes on and on about how he was only supposed to be asleep for a couple of years and how he wishes he'd never woken up if this is the world he had to wake up to.  This somehow equates to the two of them being in love with each other.

While it's pretty easy to tell I was unimpressed with how they got there, I kind of dug the idea of a somewhat unemotional woman and a somewhat emotional man falling in love with each other.  The fact that Marlene had to figure out just what was going on with her, and started to see just how much the humans of Second Earth really were bastards also appealed to me, and I loved seeing her kick ass to find Yuji, even though it was against the standard idiot mooks that seem to make up the military in shows like this.  It's after this that things kind of go south for me.

As it turns out, the Second Earth military scientist types seem to think Yuji's disease can somehow do for them what really any competent military should have been able to do at any point in the past twenty years – kill all the giant bugs.  This being anime, naturally it features mecha, which seem to be about the most effective means of fighting the giant bugs, even though air support from some kind of gunship would probably work a lot better.  What's worse is that while at some points the guns being used by the characters are quite effective, most of the time bullets seem to bounce harmlessly off of the bugs' armored skin.  And way too many times soldiers freeze up and just let the giant bugs kill them.  All of that was pretty annoying, but that actually isn't what bothered me the most.

So what bothered me the most about this show?  Marlene and Yuji basically switch roles, for no real reason at all.  While it's true Yuji had evil scientists abuse his illness in order to make him basically super-human, his obsession with another sleeper named Tony and the way he turned into the same kind of uncaring bastard that all the other Second Earth military types were just didn't ring true for me.   Worse though was Marlene, who turned into a really emotional and frankly kind of useless woman.  She went from cold and unemotional to really emotional without having much of any transition, and while before she was a very effective soldier in combat, she suddenly started freezing up.  Basically she turned into the Yuji from the first few episodes.

Okay, I lied, that isn't the part that bothered me the most about this show.  What did?  Well, I hinted at the "message" in the beginning of this review, and this one is a doozy.  The message?  Earth is alive and trying to kill humanity, which it perceives as a cancer and therefore a threat to itself.  And if that wasn't bad enough, it turns into a luddite message of how we can only peacefully coexist with the planet by giving up all technology and living in grass huts.  No, really, that's the happy ending of the series: Yuji and Marlene decide to join some random villagers they met in South America that was living in grass huts.  This after a really quick WTF montage of the remaining Second Earther's killing the leader who has made it clear that if anyone wanted to leave, he wouldn't stop them, just so that they can fight over the last shuttle and somehow blow up the main space station.  And it all happens in like a minute running time.  Oh, and those green balls the bugs made out of humans?  Apparently tree food, because at one point we see little tree plants growing out of them. 

While there is plenty to rag on in this series, much like Star Trek: Enterprise, I liked the basic concept.  I also liked most of the character interactions and development, at least up until Yuji and Marlene trade roles.  I would still recommend this series, even if it scores a little low at 6/10.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


Offline Fiery Little One

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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2014, 06:53:23 PM »
Hmm... I've seen 2 of the series on your recommendation list, Ghost in the Shell - mostly the first season and the odd episode of Bebop. Heard of a few others. I've seen more from your index list. I look forward to seeing what you have to say about some of them (even the 'anime-like' shows I noticed on the list), but take your time.
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Offline CX

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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2014, 12:29:50 AM »
Cool beans.  Hopefully I'll review something you find interesting.  Might be a while before I get to one, though, as I went through some real stinkers before I got to something good.  :-\

But, hey, as an added bonus, why not throw in the trailer for Blue Gender;)
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2014, 09:25:44 AM »
Blue Gender: The Warrior
(2002 movie)

What happens when you take a 26 episode series and try to cram it into a 95 minute long movie?  Well, not much good, as you might expect.

The original series was just way too complex to turn into an hour and a half made-for-TV movie, so naturally, while things started out more or less the same, a lot got cut out, and a lot got changed in the plot.  In the end, not much really makes sense about the plot, and if I hadn't watched the series before this movie, I probably would have been completely lost.  Most of what they cut out was either good, like Yuji's friendship with Joey, or important to character and plot development.  It wouldn't have been as bad had they changed the plot even more, but they left just enough in to make things that much more confusing plot-wise.  It also makes the fact that they only left one small part of what had to be the shortest training montage I've ever seen out from the series somewhat amusing.  The part they left out?  Marlene pressing her body against Yuji's in order to show him the proper shooting stance for a pistol.

The Yuji/Marlene relationship just seems to come that much more out of the blue in this movie because so much has been left out or become part of the chopped up journey/survival montage that reduces something like 3-4 episodes into a single minute.  It also makes it that much more pathetic when Marlene becomes such a whiny loser after returning to Second Earth.  Then, after explaining how she doubts she'll ever be allowed to return to Earth's surface, she's suddenly there and searching frantically for Yuji.  She does find him, and he promptly tries to kill her, until something she says turns him back into something like his old self, somehow.

The ending of the movie is even more WTF than the series.  While we never see or learn anything about Second Earth's final fate, the movie basically ends with Marlene cradling Yuji in the middle of the street.  At one point they were surrounded by the giant bugs, looking for all intents to become another green ball in the middle of the street, when Yuji opens his eyes, makes some kind of psychic noise, and all the bugs go away.  Knowing that there is a connection between the disease Yuji and his fellow sleepers have from the series, I kind of sort of know what happened, but in the context of the movie there is just no explanation at all.

So combine the storyline being ripped to shreds with character narration out of no where in a vain attempt to explain what the hell is going on, and basically you get a lot of suck.  The environmental/luddite message has mostly been lost, but in its place it has a "science is bad" message.  Whereas in the series, rampant militarism was blamed for Second Earth becoming what it had when we saw it in the series, the head scientist who actually lead a coup against the corrupt military council turns out to be the bad guy in the movie, sort of.  Basically he's blamed for things turning out the way they are, and he kills himself after whining about what a loser he is in his narration piece.

While this movie pretty much just sucked, I'll admit that there were a few things I liked about it.  To begin with, while it was kind of lame, what Yuji's illness was supposed to end up doing to him and anyone who had it is actually explained in the movie, while in the series it's never mentioned beyond the explanation of Earth using it as a means to destroy humanity.  In the movie it basically just drives them insane and they start babbling predictions about the future.  Another thing I liked is that at one point, Yuji actually hauls off and punches Marlene after calling her and her Second Earth compatriots on their inhumanity.  He actually sticks up for himself beyond words, so I liked that.  Later on, he gives his earring to Marlene as a good luck charm and at one point she expresses her strong conviction for him by piercing her ear with it and wearing it.  The relationship doesn't make much sense in the movie, but something like that would have been nice in the series.

Still, the movie sucked, and I'm only giving it a 1/10.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


Offline CX

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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2014, 12:56:09 PM »
009-1
(13 episode series)

As you might guess from the title, this is basically the Japanese version of James Bond, naturally featuring mostly female spies.  Set in a fictional future where the Cold War never ended, countries have single letter names, and the cybernetic implantation of firearms into one's body isn't all that uncommon, really all this anime has going for it is the amusement factor.  Heavy on fan service without any real actual nudity, this show manages to give new meaning to the phrase "killer set of tits", as the main character isn't the only woman who has either machine guns or lasers for nipples, which apparently come standard issue for female spies in the future.  The male agents apparently pack, too, though in different parts of their anatomy.  ;)  I have to say, though, that the character and visual design is a bit odd for a modern anime, and in fact seems to hearken back to '70s anime.  Not saying this is bad, just different and maybe worth noting.

The series itself is very episodic in nature, with the only real character development being the title character moving away from being an unquestioning spy into being more of an independent operator.  The closest this series comes to a story arc is a plot thread about how there are psychics/telekinetics which the East Block likes to exploit, and the West Block likes to hunt down and kill as soon as they find out about them, the West Block being our side, and the side 009-1 is on.  As you might imagine, she kind of has problems with that, as most people who aren't evil really should.  There's also a bit with her having a sad back story, and a lost brother who she ends up finding   Basically it's about a chick with guns in her tits having action-filled adventure in each episode and that's about it, which earns it a 4/10.  It's a fun series, worth watching maybe once and that's about it.  It has pretty cool opening, though.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


Offline CX

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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2014, 09:32:13 AM »
A Wind Named Amnesia
(1990 movie)

Of the post-apocalyptic variety, this movie tries to ask questions, but in the end only rhetorically. 

Basically humanity has reverted to something like cavemen, having lost its civilization along with its memories, which all disappeared one day thanks to a mysterious wind that swept over the entire planet.  Fortunately, all the neat toys the military had been playing around with were left behind, one of which was a convenient teaching tool that allowed the main character to relearn how to be human, if not his own actual past.  He's taken on the impossible task of restoring humanity to its former self, but really all he can do is drive around in a jeep and help a few people as he comes across them.  Along the way he meets a strange woman who also seems to be a normal, civilized human, except for the fact that she seems to know an awful lot about what's going on in any given situation.

In a way this almost would have done better as a series, but it probably wouldn't have been a very good series either.  I found it just interesting enough to keep watching, though amusement with the Japanese interpretation of the United States (the movie took place entirely there) helped keep me watching, too.  In the end it really didn't pay off.  As I'd suspected early on due to some really obvious foreshadowing, the mysterious woman was in fact an alien, and the wind was caused by these aliens, who took it upon themselves to punish humanity, or something like that.  I never really understood the reasons, but the message in the end was the standard issue "humanity is growing too fast and too out of harmony with Earth" variety.  So really there was nothing special about this movie.  The main character didn't even act upset at all at this revelation, and instead had some good-bye sex with the alien chick before she left him in the ruins of his civilization, neither of them really having accomplished anything toward the goal stated in the beginning of the movie, which earns it a 2/10.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


Offline CX

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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2014, 09:39:38 AM »
Ah! (or Oh) My Goddess!
(50 episode series)

Yeah, I know there are movies and other versions to go along with this series, but really I'm a little embarrassed that I watched this series in full as it is.  It was actually one of the first when I started watching everything basically alphabetically on my huge "to watch" list, and for some reason, I actually did watch this angst-fest beginning to end.  On the other hand, if I hadn't, I actually would have missed a few interesting stories.

What I'm referring to has more to do with stories involving the Motor Club within the series that the main character, Keiichi, was involved in.  One of them was actually a ghost story, and it's actually my favorite of the stories I found somewhat interesting.  It actually managed to tug on what's left of my heart strings a little, mainly because it involved a sick young woman who died before someone could fulfill a promise to her, which in this case was just something as simple as a motorcycle ride.  So basically she ended up haunting the property she died at until someone else could come along, fix the now classic motorcycle and give her a ride around the nearby lake.  I also have to admit that I liked how the writers pointed out that love comes in many forms, even in the form of someone taking care of their old cars/electronics/etc.

Belldandy, the title goddess, really was too sweet that way.  And really she was just too impossibly sweet.  A "harem" anime, we got to meet her sisters too, but while they were anything but sweet, I wouldn't call them all that interesting either.  That could be because I found most of this series either boring or really frustrating.  The two main characters are basically living together as a couple from the very beginning, but the male lead was horribly immature and the female lead wasn't much better.  It was completely obvious that the two of them cared a great deal for each other, and yet the vast majority of what happened revolved around the other one trying to show their love to the other or still trying to determine if the other loves them, no matter how many times they show or outright say that they do to each other.  No, really, right up to the last episode.

I guess if you like angst (I'm looking at you TnT 'shippers – you know who you are), this might actually be the thing for you.  Otherwise, not much to see here, and if you were only interested in the stories I was talking about being interested in, I'd be happy to look up the episodes for you and list them.  It's for those that I'm even bothering to throw this series any kind of a bone, scoring it 3/10.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


Offline CX

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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2014, 09:13:36 AM »
Akira
(1988 movie, new dub)

So this is the famous movie that is credited with making anime cool here in the US?  Well, it's not bad, but it's not really as awesome as I was hoping it would be.  I'm not even sure what the point was supposed to be, aside from the standard "science gone wrong."  The movie itself is set in the future, after a nuclear WWIII that apparently started with an explosion going off in Tokyo.  Well Neo-Tokyo has been built in the crater, with the old part of the city surrounding it pretty much in ruins.  It's easy to see why this movie is classed as cyber-punk, which can pretty much be summed up as "high tech, low life," as in, everything is all very future-y and stuff, but it's all old, worn out, and dirty rather than being top of the line, with the people in this setting being much the same as the technology around them.

The main characters themselves aren't exactly good guys, most of them belonging to a motorcycle gang which regularly goes out and battles another motorcycle gang called The Clowns.  That is, all until a fateful meeting with a little kid that looks like he has that freakish rapid-aging disease.  Turns out the kid is special, and not in a back of the short bus way, as he uses some kind of a mind force-field to keep from getting run over by Tetsuo, basically the secondary main character of the film.  Why the freakishly old kid didn't use his mind force field earlier to protect himself and the communist revolutionary who rescued him from the secret military lab he was being kept at is never really made clear, or addressed even.

Oh, yeah, Japan is apparently in the throes of a recession which has resulted in massive civil unrest and a practically fascist police state to deal with it.  Naturally where there are fascists, there are communists to fight them ... well, they never really identify as communists, but let's just say I had the feeling.  In any case, the movie never really delves into any of this all that deeply, instead focusing on the main storyline of Kaneda, the film's main character, and his exploits in trying to find and rescue his friend Tetsuo from the military (with a little commie tail-chasing on the side).  It seems Tetsuo is suffering some rather odd side-effects from the mind force field, which is why the military and its scientists have taken an interest in him.  It seems he reminded them of another really powerful psychic kid they experimented on named Akira, who has become a messianic figure to a large portion of the anarchist types who make up most of the mobs seen in the movie being oppressed by the police.

This brings up one of the secondary characters, a JSDF Lieutenant Colonel.  He's hard to put a finger on, mostly because at times he's a complete bastard, and at other times the movie basically makes him out to be justified for being a complete bastard, who occasionally has a heart.  He's the one in charge of the military's research into these telekinetic kids, and it's more than hinted at that Akira caused what appeared to be a nuclear detonation at the beginning of the film.  Naturally, the colonel doesn't want this to happen again, and he's determined to kill Tetsuo should he get out of hand, which is naturally exactly what happens.

Akira is an okay film, and is kind of cool.  There is a lot of awesomeness, especially as Tetsuo grows out of control, but it isn't really an awesome movie in my opinion.  The storyline is at times hard to follow, and there's a connection between some government officials and the communist revolutionaries that is never really explained, and really has nothing at all to do with the main plot as far as I could tell.  That being said, this movie is still worth a watch, and scores a 7/10.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


Offline Fiery Little One

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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2014, 04:53:36 PM »
This one I've seen, as with you the more recent dub, and I liked it. I've thought about picking up the most recent release actually. As for the unexplained bits... The manga, from what I've heard, clears up a lot and expands on it as well.
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Offline CX

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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2014, 11:25:41 PM »
I've heard that, but the same old rule still applies as far as works having to stand on their own, even if it's anime.  ;)
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2014, 09:37:10 AM »
Area 88
(12 episode series)

I tried to get into this series, but there really wasn't much there for me aside from cool warplanes and cool air-to-air combat. 

It takes place in a generic middle-east country which is undergoing a civil war, with the government having hired on a mercenary force of combat pilots to aid their side against the rebels.  The concept of mercenary jet fighter pilots never really makes much sense to me, and what makes even less sense is that the mercenary force itself is like the French Foreign Legion of old, which kidnapped people and pressed them into service.  Well, technically everyone signs up for a stint of service, but they're still treated like slaves in the sense that they can't leave the super-secret base they are stationed at unless they serve their full contractual stint, or they buy their way out of it with the money they earn from their kills.

While the series' main character is in fact a reporter who is there for reasons not made entirely clear until later, the character being focused on is a blonde-haired Japanese pilot who flies an F-5.  He's your basic moody type yearning for home and the one he left behind.  Considering he got screwed over by his friend and shanghaied into service, that would normally make him pretty sympathetic as a character.  Unfortunately this is ruined by the aforementioned moodiness, which fails completely at making him mysterious or even really interesting, for that matter.  Ironically the reporter/photographer is more interesting as he develops from the typical snooty press type into someone who's sympathetic towards the pilots at this base.  He ends up having second thoughts about his job, and actually ends up quitting it, which makes it that much worse that he gets the tar beat out of him by the pilots and is almost killed by them when they find out what he was originally sent there to do in typical kill the messenger style.

Well, fear not, all turns out "right" in the end as far as the main pilot's girl deciding to not marry the douche that betrayed him and had him shanghaied, and the fact he's completely forgiven for trying to run. Of course he still has to serve out his time and do exactly what he's been lamenting doing by shooting down and killing other human beings, which is what's made him such a moody bastard.  I guess if you like the eye candy, this series might be worth the time to watch, but there isn't much of a story that's worth watching.  4/10.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2014, 09:41:04 AM »
Argento Soma
(25 episode series)

This is a classic example of an anime that takes too long to get to the point.  While I understand and like the idea of meeting characters and getting to know them as they develop, there's something to be said for keeping the plot moving at a steady pace, which this series doesn't until the last few episodes.  What's worse is that from the beginning of the series, you're teased by an image in the end credits that doesn't become significant until the last half of the series when the big mystery is finally solved and the series finally gets to the point.

Superficially this series reminds me of what I've read about Neon Genesis Evangelion, at least in the sense that giant alien robots dubbed "angels" have been randomly descending from the heavens and wreaking havoc on humanity.  In fact, New York City, the place they first landed, had been completely destroyed and left abandoned.  Giant mechas also seem to be humanity's only hope, but that seems to be where the similarities end.  There are no children piloting these things, the aliens all seem to be setting down in North America and heading towards a "pilgrimage point" which is just north of the North Dakota border in Canada.  This is the big mystery of the series, as well as the origin and purpose of the very different looking giant robot dubbed "Frank" (short for Frankenstein).  All is eventually answered late in the series, but the pace getting there is what makes it frustrating, because really the series probably could have gotten there in about half the time it did.

I guess the main storyline itself revolves around the character whose false identity the series is named after and his struggle to find out what his girlfriend was doing experimenting with this mad scientist type on Frank, and what the military has to do with what happened.  He's basically made a spy by a person whose identity we don't learn until almost the end of the series in order to infiltrate the FUNERAL organization, which is charged with the defense of Earth against the alien robots.  Hilariously, it's headquartered in Minnesota on the edge of Lake Superior.  In any case, the military is butthurt over what it sees as someone invading its turf, and there is a power struggle which results.  Also hilarious is that while this is set in mid-21st century America, it's seen as somehow special that a woman is in charge of Funeral, despite female commanding officers being not all that uncommon even now.  In fact the only thing women are restricted from doing is actively engaging in combat, which is something you see in a lot of in anime.  The misogyny is very open and frequent, and it all comes off as a hammer-to-the-head message against it.  This is probably because it's from Japan, where misogyny is pretty common.

I guess I found it interesting enough to keep watching, and I don't really regret watching it exactly, but it was very frustrating to have the story crawl along at a snail's pace for about the first half.  The main character is also something of a whiny misogynistic bastard, which also affects the watchability of the series since it's hard to really sympathize with him.  It might be worth a watch, but it's also a bit of a waste of time, earning it a 6/10.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


Offline CX

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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2014, 10:42:52 AM »
Armitage III
(4 episode OVA)

This OVA is mostly good.  It's hard to put it any other way, because while it has its interesting points, there are also a lot of clichés which tend to annoy me.  Not to mention the continuity gaffes, with the opening being where it's at its worst.

Taking place on Mars, which has been terraformed successfully at some point in the future, the main plot focuses on the murder of several people who turn out to in fact be robots.  While human-like robots are quite commonplace and actually the source of contention on Mars over labor rights, these robots are special because they are so human-like in personality as well as appearance, so much so that if they hadn't been killed, no one would have known any differently.  In fact, it's at first expected that people have been replaced by the robots, since most of them have been famous musicians, artists, writers and the like.  Of course the only one to care that robots are being killed is Officer Naomi Armitage, the fan servicey partner of the real main character, Ross Syllibus, who is actually a recent transfer.  The somewhat annoying part is that she only feels that way because as it turns out, she's actually one of them.

Like pretty much every sci-fi to feature androids, this OVA somewhat awkwardly deals with the question of if artificial life can really be considered that much different from humans themselves, especially since they look and act human (and most of them happen to be attractive women).

That being said, Naomi herself is probably the most annoying aspect of the show, since in the beginning she tends to behave inappropriately, like gushing over how attractive her new male partner is while he's hunched over what they both initially think is a human murder victim.  And later she basically goes off on her own, abandoning her partner, even though it's clear by this point that Ross sympathizes with and supports her.  In fact they end up falling in love and going on the run together by the end of the show.  I guess having her go off on her own was supposed to be dramatic, but it ended up just being annoying, at least to me.

Overall this is a pretty good show, interesting to watch, and with some amusing reminders of when it was made.  It also seems like this show wasn't quite finished, or ran out of time or something due to the jumps in continuity and the way the show ends, really.  Otherwise, I guess I would recommend this anime, though I don't think I can score it any higher than 7/10.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2014, 01:31:46 AM »
Armitage III: Poly-Matrix
(2000 movie)

This is a compilation movie made from the original OVA.  Most of it is exactly the same, though some cuts were made to save time, and some bits were added to help make things make a little more sense, which it marginally succeeds at.  Of course many of the continuity issues from the OVA are still completely unaddressed.  It features Kiefer "Jack Bower" Sutherland as the voice of the main character, Ross Syllibus, and Elizabeth Berkley as the voice of the title character, Naomi Armitage, which is the only other real thing of note to say about this movie.

While this isn't as bad as some other compilation movies I've seen, most of its strengths come from the additional scenes which would have actually added more to the OVA.  That being said, I don't really feel they make up for the storylines that were cut, and I still prefer the original OVA.  It's not horrible, but not really worth the watch unless you want to see the additional scenes I'm referring to, and only after you've seen the OVA.  Otherwise, you'll probably be even more confused about what's going on.  5/10.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


Offline Fiery Little One

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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2014, 01:23:13 PM »
Either I've seen Sage's Anime Abandon episode on this one a few too many times or this might be on my list of 'seen-at-least-once' movies. You're right, their (questionable) choice in cast is the only thing note worthy here.
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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #16 on: July 19, 2014, 02:41:06 AM »
Armitage: Duel Matrix
(2002 movie)

A direct sequel to the OVA or the compilation movie depending on how you look at it, it also features some celebrity voice talent, including none other than Jar-Jar Binks.  And no, I'm not kidding.

Just as with the first movie, the plot deals with androids and the people who made them.  In this case the androids look like Armitage and the people who made them all end up being murdered as part of the same type of conspiracy that took place in the OVA.  The difference is, this movie takes place on Earth, where Naomi and Ross, now her husband, have been hiding out with their daughter.  Yeah, that's right, an android somehow had a kid, but then the reproductive capabilities of the new "type III" androids that Naomi is an example of is what caused the conspiracy and systematic killing of those androids in the OVA.  The main difference from the OVA is that Naomi is actually mostly the main character of the movie.

The conspiracy manages to separate Armitage from her husband, who ends up on Mars.  The two of them both work to solve it, which results in plenty of action and drama, especially when two android assassins who look like Armitage are activated and sent after the family.  Armitage then has to deal with her daughter seeing her as the same kind of monster as the assassins for a while, which I guess is technically true except for the whole laughing cruelly and trying to kill them part.

Jar-Jar turns up to lend an unexpected hand after Armitage gets her ass handed to her a couple times, and while initially his motives are somewhat suspect, he ends up being a good guy of sorts and makes it possible for Armitage and her family to defeat the assassins and escape back to Mars.

I'd say the movie is at least as watchable as the original OVA, and I'd give it the same grade of 7/10.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2014, 01:28:21 PM »
Avatar: The Last Airbender
(61 episode series)

This series was surprisingly good, considering the age group it was aimed at.  While early on it was especially obvious that this show was meant more for children than adults, it still managed to have a complex plot that featured an epic journey and a battle between good and evil that might be compared in some ways to the original Star Wars trilogy.  It even features a reluctant hero, Aang, who has a destiny but doesn't want anything to do with it.

Set in an alternate world, there are a select group of humans capable of exerting a kind of telekinetic control, called bending, over the 4 ancient Greek elements: earth, air, fire and water.  Most of them only have control over one element depending on which nation they belong to, and each nation in turn is named after the element its people can bend.  The only exception is the Avatar, who can bend each element and is reincarnated as a member of each nation in turn every time he or she dies.  The Avatar's function is to keep the balance and peace between the 4 nations.  As it turns out, Aang, the most recent Avatar and a member of the Air Nomads, was frozen during a storm a century before the series takes place and as a result, the Fire Nation has successfully conquered most of the world.

Despite its rather mature story content (such as genocide), the series initially doesn't deal too much with it, focusing instead on immature humor that is obviously aimed at younger viewers.  I found this rather annoying, to the point that I almost gave up on the series fairly early on, but fortunately the series matured a little to something one might expect to be aimed at the teenaged crowd.

While the entire point of the series is that Aang has to eventually fight the evil Fire Lord who is currently leading the Fire Nation in its war against the rest of the world, most of the series actually deals with him learning how to bend each element (despite having access to the memories of the previous Avatars), as well as agonizing over his past actions and that his destiny may force him to kill despite being very much against it.  He's also physically a child, so while he's more mature than any child his age would be, he still wants to be just a child and have fun, but fate keeps robbing him of this.  He meets a lot of people and makes many friends in his search for teachers to help train him to bend each element, including in the Fire Nation itself.  It was actually quite refreshing to have the "bad guy" nation shown to be as much a victim of its leadership as the nations which have been invaded by its armies, with sympathetic characters among them.  Even the persistent villain who is obsessively trying to hunt Aang down throughout most of the series is shown in a sympathetic light at times.

While I really would have preferred that the series would have been aimed at an older demographic and lose a lot of the immature humor it had, it was still a pretty good series, and I would recommend that you watch it if you have the time.  It's a pity the story was completely ruined in adaptation to screen as so often happens with tv series being turned into movies.  9/10.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


Offline Fiery Little One

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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2014, 02:32:07 PM »
As a fan of this one, I'm glad you liked it for the most part. And yes, the... film... was awful. The director said he was a fan of the show himself in various interviews leading up to its release. After seeing it though, I don't believe that for a second.
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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2014, 04:23:33 PM »
Me either.  At best, I'd believe that his kids were fans of it.  The most enjoyment to be had out of that movie was of the unintentional type, my personal favorite being the penis hair.  :D
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #20 on: July 23, 2014, 12:32:53 AM »
Barefoot Gen
(1983 movie)

This movie was good in a documentary kind of way.  That's basically all it is, narrator and all, detailing the events of the daily lives of one family as they struggled to survive both before and after the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima.  It focuses on one boy in particular, who was based on an actual survivor.  It tends to come off as a bit of a white guilt movie, mostly because it completely omits the politics of the war.  In fact, the war is only brought up at all in the first part of the movie as the cause for food shortages and the hardships that the boy's family faces.  Any other reason could probably be given for that aspect of it and the story would basically be exactly the same right up to the bombing.  Of course, it could also be that the politics are omitted because they didn't much matter to the main protagonist, who was a child, and only wanted to focus on the plight of the civilians who were effected by this war.  As I think about it, the latter is probably more likely, with the former viewpoint I had mostly coming from my experience watching so many shows that express an anti-US sentiment.

In a lot of ways, this movie comes off as something for a younger crowd, though it deals with mature topics like the effects of radiation poisoning, mass body cremations, the death of the main character's father and younger brother from being burned alive in the collapsed remnants of their house, and the later death of his infant sister of starvation.

This movie is worth a watch, though it wasn't quite what I was expecting for a movie about Hiroshima.  6/10.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


Offline Fiery Little One

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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #21 on: July 23, 2014, 02:35:46 PM »
This almost sounds like one I've heard about, Grave of the Fireflies. Only I don't believe they present it as a documentary.
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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #22 on: July 23, 2014, 10:03:52 PM »
I think that one's a fictionalization of the LeMay treatment of Tokyo, where there basically firebombed the shit out of it.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #23 on: July 24, 2014, 10:08:10 AM »
Battle Angel Alita
(2 episode OVA)

This is a good, but strange and ultimately frustrating anime, frustrating because it's obvious that the story is supposed to continue and in the OVA it simply ends.

Set in a post-apocalyptic future, it seems that both artificial life and cybernetic life are commonplace, even in the slum city that the story is set in.  The "Battle Angel", is actually dug out of a garbage heap, brought back to life and named Alita.  The scientist who does this is actually from the futuristic and very exclusive city which floats above the slum city.  Much like the Star Trek episode, "The Cloud Minders", the labors of the slum city's inhabitants are enjoyed by the inhabitants of the city above, and the slum only gets the trash from the city above.

Basically the story is a mystery, about Alita and her origins, as well as about the city above.  There's also a mystery in the slum city involving the murder of individuals for their organs.  Alita becomes a bounty hunter in order to solve this mystery, as the slum city has no police force.  Along the way she meets another cyborg and develops feelings for him, though it ends badly.  In the end, she finds out who is actually participating in the murders, but motivation for them was explained in a very rushed and anti-climatic way, and the floating city remains a mystery as well, remaining just a long term goal for her to reach.  And then the OVA just ends.

Having read about this OVA in advance, I knew this would happen, because the OVA only covers about the first two issues of the manga (graphic novel) series it is based on.  I would hope for this OVA to either be finished or remade, keeping as faithful to the source as possible.  The only possible downside to that is that anything new might go with a more modern visual design, and I feel something would be lost because of that.  There's just something about older anime and the way it was drawn that's very appealing.  Otherwise, it's a pretty good OVA and worth a watch, but be aware that the ending leaves you wanting more, but there is no more, unfortunately.  9/10.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR


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Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
« Reply #24 on: July 25, 2014, 11:40:31 PM »
Black Cat
(24 episode series)

This is one of those series that while somewhat serious, also has quite a bit of comedy mixed in with the drama.  Overall, it is a fairly good mix of both, mainly as a drama with comedy relief.  At times this is taken a bit far, however, mostly having to do with the main character's nickname, the title of this series (wearing a bell around his neck, drinking a lot of milk, etc). 

The storyline is split between two main characters, a "sweeper" named Sven, and a trained assassin named Train.  The series contrasts the two, with Sven being very laid back and down on his luck, and Train being a trained, ruthless, mostly emotionless killing machine.  The series then slowly introduces the secondary characters, including Eve, who is literally an engineered weapon in the form of a pre-teen girl, and Saya, another somewhat more successful sweeper who gets Train to rethink his life through late night visits.  Train and Saya do develop some romantic chemistry, but thanks to a somewhat odd love triangle with another male assassin named Creed, she is murdered.  The resulting antagonism between Train and Creed is both disturbing and interesting, and it kept me watching.

Then there's the storyline with Eve.  Sven saves her from the evil bastards that made her and intended to exploit her as a horrible weapon and teaches her how to be human.  He basically adopts her as a kind of daughter, and after teaming up with Train, she tends to take what Sven taught her and attempts to teach the same lessons to Train.  At times this can be interesting and/or humorous, but as I mentioned before, the connections she makes with Train being a cat tend to take it too far.

The series does kind of mislead, though, as the antagonism between Train and Creed, while taking up most of the series, ends quite a while before the series does.  There's more betrayal to be had, and Train ends up saving the organization he was originally part of, even though they've basically been hunting him down and trying to kill both him and Eve, who was originally a target they assigned to him to kill.  The series also misleads in its message of not killing others by advocating alternative uses of firearms that quite frankly would probably still result in people getting killed.  But TV shows and movies tend to be like that with firearms, I guess.

I'm still, in some ways, up in the air as to whether I really like this series or not.  It has some good/interesting elements to it, but it also has some rather annoying clichés that would make me hesitate before recommending it to a few of my friends who might be expecting something else.  Still, I think I feel safe giving this series a 7/10.
"Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough." - TR