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Mightyblue
06-29-2007, 10:10 PM
So...after remembering the excellent Anime thread we had over in the old forums, I figured it was time for a new one over here. That, and I need to kill some time before I get sleepy. :P

Full Metal Panic!/FMP?: Fumoffu/FMP!: The Second Raid:
What do you get when you cross mechas and school gag comedy? FMP, apparently. The mecha combat parts (the more serious part of the story) are really excellent (especially in TSR with its awesome production and art), and the school life comedy parts are generally pretty funny, since Sousuke makes an excellent gag man and Kaname does an excellent straight. Granted, I'd much rather have more of the mecha end of things (Fumoffu is entirely comedy bits that weren't covered in the first FMP anime), but the three different series are excellent separately and as a whole. Sound and music is excellent in this as well, the "Shouri" theme being one of my all time favorite anime songs (Toshihiko Sahashi is an excellent composer), and in general art and production values are high across the three series. For those dissatisfied with the usual Sunrise mecha fodder, this is an excellent alternative.

sola:
Yeah, I know this isn't finished airing yet. This is one of those shows anime or live-action that really makes you think about the importance of life, love, and happiness. This show is about the "yaka," or cursed beings for whom sunlight is lethal (no, they're not vamps either), and one particular young guy, Yorito Morimiya. His relationships with the other characters, and their shared histories is a huge part of the story and impact of the show, so I won't go into it here. Something to watch if you want a quality story accompanied by decent art, sound, and production values, not to mention storytelling.

The Third: Aoi Hitomi no Shoujo [Girl of the Blue Eye]:
Sci-Fi show set in a post-apocalyptic future where genetically altered humans, the "Thirds" (so named for their third eye in their foreheads), keep a tight ship over the remaining humans. At first I thought this would end up something along the lines of Gurren Lagaan, but it surprised me by following the varying travels and events in the life of one particular girl. Plenty of action and drama here, and the way the separate tales weave together is particularly well done. Art, sound, and production values are all fairly high, since this was made in the last several years.

Figure Four
06-29-2007, 10:47 PM
Space Runaway Ideon
One of two series that Yoshiyuki Tomino direct between Gundam and Zeta Gundam. It's kind of strange since it seems to be a very different take on the real robot concept than any of his other series. It really reminds me of Yamato but with a kick ass giant robot. So far I think it's good, but not great. Though I am only 13 episodes in and I've been told that it really picks up in the second half of the series.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes
Absolutely amazing space opera about a galaxy wide war between two factions. One of the best series that I've ever seen. It's also one of the longest running OVAs ever produced coming in at 110 episodes publishing between 1988 and 1997. Only four episodes left!

shivam
06-30-2007, 11:11 AM
god, logh bored me to tears. its something you really have get into right away if its gonna click.

mr_bungle700
07-02-2007, 07:36 AM
Yeah, LoGH strikes me as something where if it pulls you in you're in for the long run, but if it doesn't grab you that's pretty much it. I haven't gotten into it mainly because I'm afraid I'd get hooked.

So here's the notable stuff that I'm watching right now.

Dennou Coil

This got passed over by a lot of people in the initial rush of the spring season, but it's shaping up to be one of the best shows of possibly the year. In brief: it's a little way into the future and cyberspace is pretty much everywhere. A lot of people, particularly kids, wear special glasses that let them see the layer of virtual reality that lies over actual reality. They have virtual pets and virtual cellphones and virtual tools. Much mischief and curious happenings ensue. So far the setting is the biggest draw, but it seems that we're slowly working our way into to a deeper story.

There's nothing I can say that's more intriguing than the trailer though, so here you go (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u10Ie9mTqTY).

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu!

Very silly spinoff to the Full Metal Panic series. Eschews the usual military action and drama of FMP in favor of pure romantic comedy. Way over the top but a lot of fun.

Gurren Lagann

The best use of Gainax's overabundant energy and fearlessness since FLCL. Giant robots + comedy + very entertaining characters. I think the arc for the main character Simon is going to turn out to be something special as well. He's basically the anti-Shinji.

Lucky Star

High school girls doing high school girl things and making loads of pop culture references. A combination of greatly amusing, ridiculously cute and refreshingly mundane. John from Animenation's "Ask John" column referred to it as being more akin to an "iyashikei" ("healing") series than a hyperactive comedy, and I have to agree. Iyashikei stories are designed to evoke a pleasant mood, leaving you with a generally good feeling and not a whole lot of emotional baggage. Series like Aria and Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou are good examples of this.

While that is not the perfect description of Lucky Star, I definitely think that it is more accurate than saying it's the next Azumanga Daioh, which seems to be the most common comparison people are making. Lucky Star wants to amuse you, make you feel good, show you some of the fun things about regular everyday life, and occasionally knock you on your ass with a great parody/reference or carefully timed joke. I think it does this very effectively. It also doesn't hurt that the production quality is exceptional and the characters are quite likable.

A fair warning though: it is ultra-moe. However, moe in and of itself is not inherently evil. It's only misuse of this powerful force that leads to corruption and doom. Lucky Star uses the cute factor to make the show more enjoyable, and I have no problem with that.

Seirei no Moribito

Drama/action/political intrigue series set in an alternate world that seems similar to Warring States Period China. Created by Production I.G. and directed by Kenji Kamiyama, who is responsible for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (all of you have seen that by now, right?). A spear-wielding female bodyguard named Balsa is hired to protect the son of the emperor, as the boy is believed to hold a water spirit inside of him that will bring a massive drought to the country and the emperor believes the only way to avoid disaster is to kill him. Balsa takes the kid and goes on the run, and things are set in motion from there.

What I'm really enjoying in this series is how every character that plays a part in the story, ranging from members of the royal court to lowly street urchins, is important, and each has their own reasons for everything they do. Everybody is only doing what they think is right, be it trying to capture the prince or trying to protect him. It's interesting to see where each of them falls on the harm/protect line and why, and to see what happens when these differing approaches clash with one another. Good show. Complex and slowly paced, but I'm enjoying it.

BEAT
07-02-2007, 05:01 PM
Alright, I think I can play this "Talking about anime" game.

I think.

Devil May Cry

As of now I've seen the first two episodes of this in-progress series Via Crunchyroll, (complete with hilariously bad translation.)

The Games it's based off of (or at least 1 and 3, the ones I've played) set the standard for awesome in completely banal ways. Dante is a broadly grinning, borderline psychotic whacko, who just happens to be practically invincible. Lady is just as crazy, only always scowling, and getting into fights caused by her total inability to carry on a conversation. At some point a horde of relentless hellbeasts are slaughtered in acrobatic and brutal ways, normally with generic metal playing in the background. Some great force of evil is vanquished, everybody goes home happy. It's a pretty simple formula.

Which is why, by comparision, the show so far seems horribly off. Dante apparently went from insane-unkillable-fun loving-surfer dude to generic anime goth male lead, sitting around scowling at things and taking care of some orphan girl for reasons completely obscured by the near-useless subtitles. Lady, who earlier was barely able to carry on a conversation without threatening violence has become generic anime annoying calculating Female lead, tricking and manipulating people like so many past versions of her new stock character persona. Spanish guitars now play in the background and the whole thing just oozes class and high production values.

The problem is that so far it just doesn't work. When I heard this franchise was getting a series, I figured it would basically be "Dead Leaves" only with slightly more realistic character models and a color pallet that went from red to dark gray. Instead we get this heavy handed, character driven nonsense with 99 percent of the fun sucked out.

So yeah. My verdict so far: Far too classy for it's own good. Maybe It'll get it's act together as the series progresses.

At least the action's pretty cool.

Francis
07-05-2007, 04:37 PM
Darker than BLACK

An inscrutable and abnormal territory, known as Hell's Gate, appeared in Tokyo and altered the sky. At the same time, people who possess various special abilities emerged. The stars disappeared, replaced by fake stars which correspond to those people with special powers. However, the cost of gaining those abilities is the loss of human emotion. Kept secret from the knowledge of the masses, these individuals able to murder in cold blood are known as Contractors. Various nations around the world use Contractors as spies and agents, often resulting in violent battles for information.

In short, it's superhero noir, combining the atmosphere and mystery of the latter with the theme power guessing game of, say, Heroes. Highlights include the protagonist, Hei, an electricity-control Contractor indentured to a mysterious Chinese syndicate. He moonlights as mild-mannered college student Li Shunsheng with an uncanny guilelessness it's almost questionable if they're even the same person. Also notable is the two-part arc episodic structure, which allows for a deeper level of storytelling without the slumps and long, unresolved threads of a continuous drama.

Unfortunately, the series has at times an inconsistent tone, where it drops its noir atmosphere and remembers that it is an anime, and anime is wacky. Such deviations aren't bad per se, but they're certainly out of place in what is otherwise a very promising piece of work.

Kishi
07-05-2007, 06:01 PM
John from Animenation's "Ask John" column

Hilarious!

mr_bungle700
07-05-2007, 06:07 PM
Well, I could have said that I think it's an iyashikei series, but since John beat me to the punch on that observation I figured I'd give him credit where it was due.

I deflect your sarcasm with my AT Field!

Mightyblue
07-05-2007, 06:26 PM
A couple more to tack on the list:

Kekkaishi [lit. means Barrier-user, this is important :P]:
This one centers around two (rival) families of 'Kekkaishi' who guard a place called Karasumori [Crow's Forest], which has an intensely powerful source of spiritual energy sealed underneath it since Japanese medieval times. They have to guard it because of monsters and demons called 'Ayakashi', who can use the power sealed underneath Karasumori to grow stronger and change form, more or less. The catch is that the modern day world built a school over the damn place and the heirs to the two families are students there (to better protect it, I assume). Beyond the monster fighting and the occasional school comedy bit involving the supernatural, there also appears to be some kind of overarching storyline that's just being hinted at where I am in the series right now. Excellent pacing, characterizations, and sound and animation quality are all hallmarks of this series. Definitely a recommendation. That, and I like Uura Saeka's music.

Shonen Onmyouji:
Based off a novel set in the Japanese medieval era, this follows the life and adventures of the heir and grandson of Abe no Seimei (A rather famous figure in Japanese history, ask shivam :P). For those who aren't familiar with Japanese and their culture, an Onmyouji is kind of like a priest crossed with a wizard. Most english translations of the term either go with sorcerer or priest, and the language isn't really equipped with the right terminology to describe it right, but the basic idea is of a spellcaster who calls upon the power of the gods in addition to their own spiritual powers in order to combat demons, monsters, ghosts, and evil spellcasters. Something just a little different, and though this is definitely AU history, it is still entertaining and a good way to learn a little about ancient Japanese history and customs.

tungwene
07-09-2007, 12:39 PM
This could get interesting.

Nodame Cantabile
Shinchi Chiaki is the son of a world famous pianist and one of the top pianist majors in his university. Though he's a talented musician his real dream is to become a conductor. His options are limited because ever since surviving a plane crash he's too terrified to fly and all the best opportunities for an up and coming classic musician lie outside of Japan. Just as he begins to lose all hope in his future music career he meets Noda Megumi AKA Nodame, a free-spirited but very spacey piano major one year below him. Nodame is a talented pianist with a lot of potential. She only needs to hear a song once to know how to play it but she can't read sheet music so she tends to play songs the way she feels like playing them completely different from the composers intent yet filled with her own love for music. Essentially, the show's like Honey & Clover only replace art school with music school and four or five convoluted romances with just one and the same upbeat and zany energy.

Ghost Hunt
Based on an earlier novel series by Fuyumi Ono of Twelve Kingdoms fame, Ghost Hunt is about a detective agency called Shibuya Psychic Research that specializes in cases involving spiritual matters be they ghosts, malicious curses, or young psychics who don't know how to control their powers yet. What I find appealing about the show is a lot of research was done in real life superstitions and supernatural phenomenon from all cultures both east and west in preparation. The show can be quite tense and terrifying but unlike most anime shows it doesn't depend on ample amounts of blood gore to achieve this effect. It instead frightens its viewers with sudden flashes of images with inverted color, dynamic camera angles, and surprise changes in the musical score. It tends to do things like make all the lights in a room go out while a girl is searching in it and having her think it's caused by a black out except she doesn't realize her flashlight has gone out too, yet.

No e in
Haruka's best friend Yuu is depressed because his mom's too strict with him. It's their last summer before middle school and his mother keeps him in his room studying all day and makes him attend cram schools in the evening because she wants him to get into a good middle school (That's right. MIDDLE school. Not high school) in Tokyo. The two kids are planning to run away from home but Yuu is annoyed with Haruka because he feels she thinks this is just a fun adventure for her. However, strange things have been happening around town. One night while Haruka and her friends are playing a game of test of courage (something like a Japanese version of Truth or Dare) in a grave yard, that Yuu tries to sneak away from his house to attend, they are chased by a creepy black cloaked man. The man manages to corner Haruka and Yuu rushes forward to try to fend him off with an exacto knife. At this point the man scoffs at Yuu and tells him he can't do it because he is Yuu from fifteen years in the future. This is the beginning of a complex tale involving time travel, alternate universes, quantum physics, and a cameo appearance by Schroedinger's cat. It's also the only story I can think of involving a love triangle between a boy, a girl, and the fifteen years older version of the boy.

Saiunkoku Monogatari
Set in a fictional world that's based heavily on Ancient China, the main character of Saiunkoku Monogatari is Kou Shuurei, a young noblewoman from a poor branch of a prestigious family. Shuurei is approached by one of the three most powerful ministers in the country who offers her a job to tutor the emperor for a hefty sum. However, this being a world based on Ancient China, women aren't allowed to hold positions of authority inside the imperial palace so for Shuurei to enter the palace and get close to the emperor she must become the emperor's new concubine. The emperor of Saiunkoku is only 19, has been on the throne for less than a year, and is rumored to be gay. Since ascending to the throne he has shown absolutely no interest in ruling the country and his ministers are at wits end as to what to do. They hope Shuurei can get him interested into statecraft because a) maybe having a tutor who's a pretty young woman instead of stern faced old men will do the trip of making him show interest in studying or b) being shown up by girl will humiliate him into becoming studious. Saiunkoku Monogatari shares the most similarity with the third arc of Twelve Kingdoms except it's a shojo romance giving it a more lighthearted atmosphere yet still chock-full of political intrigue goodness.

That's all I'm lazy enough to post for now.