Url: What's a URL? I'm not too Computer-Savvy.
(Revised November 2013) Maybe I've become jaded, maybe I'm just demanding higher standards from the stuff I watch. I think my reviews have gotten more and more like those of the professionals at ANN and elsewhere, in that I have little patience nowadays for trashy shows. At one time I would've been a staunch defender of fanservice-heavy shows and wondered what kind of problem the professional reviewers had when they put them down. Perhaps everybody tends to go through a set of stages from their original introduction to anime to where they are five or ten years later. Early on, every new show you discover is liable to seem the best one you've seen yet; years later you can't believe how heavily you praised shows which seem like absolute garbage nowadays. Perhaps it's nothing more than a matter of as you see more and more different shows you gain a wider perspective on what quality exists and where. If I don't know that anything better than, say, Hyperdolls exists, I'm liable to declare it the greatest work of all time. One thing I have learned after over a decade of watching anime is that Sturgeon's Law ('90% of everything is crap') applies to anime just like to any other form of media. Most new shows will just try to duplicate formulas that have already been a success rather than be original. They will use cheap shortcuts like fanservice to attract viewers so that they don't have to pay for genuine talent. The trick is to recognize the shows in which a serious effort has been made to try something new, and some skill was involved from the beginning. In a way I miss the naivete I had back as a beginner, because it was easier to enjoy myself and discover new things. In another way I'm appalled at the crapola I was wasting my time on. Well, I have a saying: "you can't claim to be an expert if you only watch the good shows!".
Why do I like anime? Because it's different, I suppose. I'm frustrated by concepts like "political correctness" which have the effect of turning out a steaming load of patronizing, uninteresting drek that passes as entertainment here in the US. As a result I have tended to tune out of the American media. In contrast, I had no idea that the vibrant, uninhibited world of anime existed until I stumbled upon Cartoon Network's Saturday night Adult Swim while channel-surfing (unless you count watching "Speed Racer" as a kid, that is). My fascination with anime has gotten to the point where about the only American-made TV I still watch is "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" (and Major League Baseball). Some critics bemoan the naughty elements of anime which keep it from "going mainstream" in America; personally, I think that removing these would be an absolute catastrophe, which would demolish it's uniqueness and vibrancy. The best thing about anime is that it isn't American, it's from a completely different culture. Being as frustrated with the state of affairs in this country as I am, an opportunity to immerse myself in the fascinating media of another country is a blessing.
At some point I decided that Anime was so much fun that I should not just watch it, but write about it--that is, review shows. I've never taken any sort of class in writing, animation, or reviewing, but it just seemed that I wouldn't be getting all I could out of the experience of anime watching unless I put my thoughts into words as well. Or maybe I'm just trying to show off.
When it comes to anime, early on I was a hard person to disappoint--I thought almost anything was worth a watch, and I only assigned a handful of "Avoid" ratings, so you might want to take my older reviews with a grain of salt. The older the review, the less reliable my rating might be. I'm not too comfortable with assigning numbers to plot, music, animation, etc, since I haven't got enough concentration to keep track of so many different aspects without my overall enjoyment of a show taking a hit. I prefer to come up with an opinion of the show in general, and explain why I reached it in my review. I'm better at writing than assigning numbers.
Using categories like "Buy", "Rent" and "Watch" is tricky because the same amount of money means different things to different people. I am relatively poor at the moment and a show would have to be pretty damn good to justify a Buy rating from me. Also, there's the variable of how many different shows are competing for your viewing time--do you have a backlog of as yet unwatched anime? From my perspective, I would say that more shows belong in the Watch category than in all other categories combined. So, a show could be pretty good yet land only a Watch review from me--a "Watch+". I would say that the chief attribute of a Buy category show would be rewatchability. It must be good enough to be worth watching numerous times, even when there are plenty of other shows competing for one's time.
I'd like to express my thanks to fellow Mikomi members for the help I've been offered with all sorts of topics, ranging from renting DVDs by mail, to recording anime music, to fixing computer problems, to downloading fansubs, to saving screen images, etc, etc. I routinely do things nowadays which seemed like fantastic fairy tales ten years ago. It's all the more surprising considering how little I knew about computers, the internet and DVDs when I first became interested in anime. "What's the deal with these newfangled DVDs?" I used to ask myself. "I think VHS tapes are perfectly satisfactory!"
My insatiable quest for my "anime fix" seems to have gone through a number of stages:
1. I'm limited to whatever is shown on Adult Swim--Cowboy Bebop, Yu Yu Hakusho, Outlaw Star, Tenchi Muyo, etc. Despite the limited choices, I cannot wait to get home from work on Saturday nights for three hours of anime paradise.
2. I find used VHS tapes can be bought at a not too faraway hobby shop. I feel an odd nostalgia for searching through rows of tapes which I know nothing about, and basing my choices on what the jackets had to say, and the minutes each tape would run. Shows like Bubblegum Crisis, Key The Metal Idol, and Irresponsible Captain Tylor come to mind.
3. I learn about shopping online at Amazon.com, E-bay, and other websites. With the benefit of hindsight, I realize that the first few years of this century were a most fortunate time to become involved in anime. As DVDs supplanted VHS tapes, the once obscenely expensive tapes could be gotten for a fraction of their original price--I bought a number of them for 99 cents (plus a dollar postage) each!
4. I'm informed by a fellow Mikomi reviewer that the titles which are still quite expensive can be rented via the internet as well! More than once I've rented shows which I liked so much that I bought my own copies.
5. Again, a fellow Mikomi reviewer tips me off to the wonderous world of BitTorrent fansub downloading. Whereas once I made a habit of watching at least one rerun for every new episode, lest I run out of the fresh material too quickly, now I'm virtually drowning in anime (I'm not complaining, though). I've reached a state in which the bulk of my TV time is spent watching incomplete series that are currently running in Japan. For some reason this seems to me like the most vibrant, exciting way to watch anime—virtually the same way the Japanese are doing it!
I've made a habit of keeping a log of the shows I watch each day. Since I like to watch just a single episode of each series per day, it helps keep track of which one I need next. I used to sometimes strive to watch as many different shows as possible in a single "anime marathon"--fourteen is my current record--and this enabled me to keep track. Nowadays, I have less time to spare, so that record will probably stand.
Subs vs Dubs: My initial impression was that surely dubs would be preferable, since I couldn't fully enjoy the animation if my eyes are going to be tied up speed-reading subtitles. However, I gradually realized it wasn't so simple. There's another factor in play, a potentially dark, nefarious phenomena called "localization". In short, when anime is localized, the translators take liberties to make it easier for westerners to understand. That's not necessarily bad, a certain amount of localization (translation, for instance) is needed. The problem comes when the people working on the R1 release decide that they can improve the script by diluting or deleting exotic cultural references which would surely leave English-speaking viewers scratching their heads anyway. But I think the tidbits of knowledge I gain about Japanese culture are half the fun of anime (and we westerners aren't all that dim after all). My impression is that the anime which is most tempting to localize is that which is set in the present day--perhaps because neither the past (Japanese history) nor the future (science fiction) can be directly matched to any western experience. I think fansubs tend to do a much better job of avoiding excessive localization (and providing intriguing notes to explain just what's going on).
After giving the topic some thought, here are some favorites of mine (in no particular order). These are shows which have stood the test of time, which I have (or will) rewatch numerous times:
1. Bakuman, Bakuman 2, and Bakuman 3--probably my all-time favorite anime series. The wide variety of characters were fun and likeable, the jokes were good, and the look into the world of the mangakka was fascinating. This long series finally coming to an end has left a vacuum within me.
2. Orguss 02--without a doubt, my favorite mecha show, with neat characters, plentiful action, a sophisticated, intriguing, mysterious plot, and a pleasing conclusion.
3. PaniPoni Dash!--a crazy show chock-full of anime in-jokes, with different forms of comedy on multiple levels; it has been described as "Azumanga Daioh meets Excel Saga". Perhaps I like it because it's a challenge to understand it—a challenge I have yet to fully meet.
4. G-on Riders--a crazy show which many would scoff at but which pushed all the right buttons for me. Planet Earth is threatened—by small children?
5. Tattoon Master--somehow, this little known show seems to be loaded with unrecognized quality and seems to get better every time I rewatch it.
6. Mahoromatic and it's sequel Mahoromatic: Motto Utsukushii Mono--Likeable characters, a strange but believable plot (with a clever twist at the end) and fanservice too! I've rewatched it several times.
7. Mahou Tsukai Tai!--a brilliant, virtually flawless OVA series, with well balanced comedy, mystery, and best of all, originality. The TV series sequel isn't nearly as good, though.
8. City Hunter and it's recent reincarnation, Angel Heart--the chemistry between main characters Ryo and Kaori in the original is frequently hilarious, while Angel Heart takes the action element more seriously and delivers a well-rounded action/adventure series.
9. Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu--The world just might be a figment of the imagination of your strange female high school classmate? A highly original show, and Kyon's deadpan sarcastic wit is killer.
I'm sure I have missed some shows which ought to be on this list.
Oh yeah, I got the nickname "Stretch" because I'm 6'6" tall.
|アグレッシブ烈子||Unevaluated||See Aggressive Retsuko|
It's the near future, and there is only one video game, called "The World." In the virtual reality of "The World", all sorts of people play. However, once a character named Tsukasa is unable to log out, and weird events start happening, "The World" starts to seem much more mysterious than anyone ever thought.
|07 Ghost||Watch||See 07-Ghost|
Teito, a former sklave (German for "slave") who because of his magical powers is recruited into attending an elite military school. While taking part in the graduation finals required to become an army officer in the Barsburg Empire, he discovers his father's killer at his school and tries to kill him. Having failed in the attempt, Teito manages to elude capture, but gets caught up in a larger struggle between Verloren, the God of Death, and the “beings of light” sent by Heaven to oppose him: the Seven Ghosts.
|100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams: The Animation||Unevaluated||See Yume Oukoku to Nemureru 100 Nin no Ouji-sama|
100-Man no Inochi no Ue ni Ore wa Tatteiru
Yuusuke Yotsuya finds himself yanked from his high school classroom and transferred to a video game-like fantasy world. There he finds two female classmates, Yu Shindo, a hot and athletic girl, and Kusue Hakotaki, a shy and weak one. Together they are assigned a quest by the bizarre 'Gamemaster'. They can return to modern-day Tokyo in between quests, but Yuusuke finds that he sort of prefers this new reality.
|100万の命の上に俺は立っている||Unevaluated||See 100-Man no Inochi no Ue ni Ore wa Tatteiru|
Satsuki Kakeru lost his sister by suicide and has been living a dull life ever since then. One day, he is transported into a bizarre world "Red Night" along with his friend Minase Yuka and six other classmates. In order to survive and escape from Red Night, they must defeat six black knights in order to return home.
|11eyes -Tsumi to Batsu to Aganai no Shoujo||Unevaluated||See 11eyes|
|11eyes: Sin, Damnation, and the Atonement Girl||Unevaluated||See 11eyes|
12-sai ~Chicchana Mune no Tokimeki~
Ayase Hanabi is a twelve year old girl who is caught in the transition period between childhood and adulthood. She begins to notice things at school like teachers kissing and a friend experiencing her first menstrual cramps.
|12歳。～ちっちゃなムネのトキメキ～||Unevaluated||See 12-sai ~Chicchana Mune no Tokimeki~|
One day, Haruto Tsukishiro wakes up in a strange room and finds himself entrapped in a dream world that is dominated by the frightening 'Witch of Thunder'. He meets Lily, a strange girl who claims to be his sister, and Katsumi Kanzaki, who in this place appears as a cat. Together they attempt to figure out what's going on and how to return to their normal lives.
|1982 Otaku no Video||Rent||See Otaku No Video|