2006 News Archive
Weekly Update - January 2
We bring in the new year with a title that's often been accused of recycling the old...De:Vadasy. Yes, it's a pastiche of a few titles, most notably Neon Genesis Evangelion. However, I found De:Vadasy easy to get into and an enjoyable if harmless and derivative diversion. It's not great, but I believe it's better than most other reviewers have thought. Take a read and see if it might hold you until your next Evangelion fix.
Weekly Update - January 9
So who hasn't heard of Rumiko Takahashi? Modern fans have Inuyasha, while some of us old-timers still admire Those Obnoxious Aliens and Maison Ikkoku. For those in need of a short Takahashi fix not lasting for 150+ episodes, I've reviewed an OVA from 1989 called One Pound Gospel, based on her manga. The story of a boxer, his appetite, and a nun-in-training, One Pound Gospel is a decent diversion, even if it's quite rough around the edges.
Weekly Update - January 16
This week, the weather may be cold but we've got an old title with a new lease on life...Macross. A new dub of the seminal title was just released by ADV Films, and lo and behold, it's awesome. I've always been a fan of the series, but the new soundtrack is nothing short of incredible. Take a look at the review and then put in your order. If you've ever wanted to get into Macross but never found the opportunity, there's no better time.
As a side note, I'm adding a couple weeks worth of extra advance information due to some recent screeners that we've been graciously sent by ADV Films and Viz Media. Diamond Daydreams is the story of six women whose lives interconnect in the streets of Hokkaido, and though I haven't watched it yet, I'm excited about it -- it's nice to have something that resembles an adult drama for a chance! In a complete opposite corner of fandom, Hikaru No Go is finally making it stateside after a hugely successful run in Japan. Yes, it centers around an ancient board game. But so what? It's been a megahit, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the buzz is about. Watch for the reviews soon!
Weekly Update - January 23
How often do you see ninja warriors with six shooters and Uzis? If you've never seen such a thing, you've never seen the first volume of Samurai Gun. A violent, messy, anachronistic hodgepodge of action that manages to be a bit entertaining and a little bit too much, Samurai Gun is an odd but interesting title that has some flaws but is still worth a rental for those who like their action bloody and vengeful.
Weekly Update - January 30
After revisiting Macross a couple weeks ago, I was truly excited and hoped that the newest series in the franchise, Macross Zero, might be my great new hope. However, the fact that it hadn't been licensed for the US despite some out-of-this-world aerial sequences bothered me, and now I know why. As much as I would love there to be another Macross product that equals that seminal series, Macross Zero just isn't it. Nevertheless, there's a full review waiting for you to explain just why this prequel with loads of potential just didn't work.
Weekly Update - February 6
Going back into the recesses of time, I've got a look at a film by Isao Takahata from 1982 called Goshu the Cellist. It's a cute family feature that probably skews young enough that the kids who would like it the most would have problems with subtitles (since the only way to currently see it is via BitTorrent). However, the music is great, the story is fun, and it's a great way to see some of the early work from one of the two legends at Studio Ghibli.
Meanwhile, I also ask that you pardon our dust in the corners of the website. As you may notice, we have gone from putting show and film titles in all caps to putting them in boldface type. We hope this makes the site look more professional and easier to read. However, this is a very time-consuming process since there is no way to change all the words in all caps on the site; I've had to go through and manually search for them via GoLive. This means that you may occasionally spot a review with both caps and boldface, and perhaps a mistake here and there where I didn't catch something. Within a week or two, however, the improvements should be complete across the website. I also plan to be implementing a couple more changes within the following months -- nothing big, but some minor improvements that I hope you'll enjoy.
I also want to bid a hearty farewell to Jason Rickard, the webmaster who has faithfully updated the website since its official opening in 1999. On every page, you see the handiwork of the last seven years. Although he will no longer be handling the updating duties -- those now fall to me, as I've gotten more interested in HTML -- I'm sure he will still be around to find all my errors. If you'd like to send him an email of appreciation, please click on his link below. Thank you, Mr. Rickard!
Weekly Update - February 13
After last week's flashback, we return to the present and a brand new release from ADV Films called Diamond Daydreams. An anthology series about a variety of young women in Hokkaido, Diamond Daydreams is one of the few recent shows that interested my wife even more than it did me. Surprisingly, not only is it a nice entry-level show for women who aren't interested in mobile suits and fan service, it's one that throws quite a few surprises at us along the way. Those looking for an anime that doesn't follow all the typical norms will be pleasantly surprised.
Weekly Update - February 20
A lot of anime on the shelves today just looks bad on first look. Many of them turn out to be just as bad as they appear. But, thankfully, that's not always the case, as I found with the first volume of Hikaru no Go. On the surface, it looks like a snooze...who wants to watch an anime about the ancient game of Go? But it turns out to be both charming and engaging. Who knew? Although there are a few problems with the first disc in the series released by Viz, I really recommend it highly.
Weekly Update - March 6
Looking back at an older DVD release today, I've checked out the old Urban Vision disc of Pet Shop of Horrors. Scary (or at least creepy) programs that are also smart are hard to find, but Pet Shop of Horrors does both pretty well. Though not a great-looking title, if you've enjoyed The Twilight Zone or Vampire Princess Miyu, then this show should be a welcome find.
Also, there's been a recent update to our "upcoming" review column. I just finished up Samurai Champloo this morning; as reruns of the show are starting up on Adult Swim this week, now's as good a time as any to catch up on this underrated show with a huge attitude. Expect to see a full review of the show along with my review of One Piece Vol. 1 coming up on March 20.
Weekly Update - March 13
It's been a long time since I've sat down and watched a show by the legendary Rumiko Takahashi. Though I've got the sixth Maison Ikkoku box set sitting on top of my computer monitor, I needed to sit down and at least see the opening of the phenomenon that is InuYasha. Now that the show's release (all 167 episodes) might finally be completed in the US here shortly, what are my thoughts on how it started? If you're confident that your love (or hate) for InuYasha can handle a fair but critical review, click the link and see my take on volume one of the long-running epic.
Weekly Update - March 20
It's not often that I've got the time to put up a double feature, but I'm glad to be able to give a look at two important series in the anime community. The first is Samurai Champloo, which recently completed its run on Adult Swim. The story of three misfits travelling through a bizarrely anachronistic Japan of the mid-19th century, it's a fun and furious (if occasionally too self-aware) action adventure that I think most of my readers will enjoy.
Then there's the first volume of One Piece as edited by 4Kids for TV broadcast. Sadly, this is a dull mess of a show so bad that I can't even imagine that the unedited version is any good. However, any show that can run over 200 episodes has to have a major following, so read for yourself and see if you might be ready to join the pirate king Luffy on his search for a treasure beyond imagination. (Unless you're under 15 or so, I think you'll much prefer the adventures of Mugen, Jin, and Foo in Samurai Champloo.)
Weekly Update - March 27
This week's entry isn't one of the best, unfortunately. Android Kikaider Vol. 1 is about yet another robot who's got an absent daddy and needs to find himself. As much as I enjoyed Steven Spielburg's A.I., I've just had enough of the whole robot who wants to become human thing. Granted, Android Kikaider has some great painted shots and some decent music, but it's old-school style without being old-school good.
Weekly Update - April 3
Boys Be... Vol. 1 is not at all what I was expecting. Any more, when I get a DVD from a anime company with a cute schoolgirl on the front, I immediately start to assume the worst. After all, how many bad harem shows can we get? But surprisingly, the first volume of Boys Be... is often delightful, taking us on a tour of high school with three boys who are just getting their first taste of real love. Yes, there's still a little more fan service than I'd like on display, but otherwise, it's an engaging, funny, and slightly wistful look at love from the male point of view. And gals, if you can't get your guy to sit through an anime without robots in it, try this one...it's like a chick flick that guys might actually relate to.
I also want to note a new addition to the lineup...last night, I was able to catch Otaku Unite!, a documentary about the whole fan experience in America. It's been released by Central Park Media, and it's an interesting film to say the least. I'll have a full review of it along with Gungrave Vol. 1 next week.
Weekly Update - April 10
We've got a double feature for you this week! Gungrave Vol. 1 is a cool thriller with quite a bit of violence and, even better, some characters you can care about. This story of young thugs who get in over their heads is really good once you get past the first episode, which drops the audience square into the middle of the story without explaining anything. Get through those 20 minutes, and it'll be worth your while.
Meanwhile, Otaku Unite! is an interesting introduction into American anime fandom. Scary, fascinating, and ultimately illuminating, it may not be one you'll treasure forever, but you should see it if you consider yourself an anime fan just to see what extremes folks are willing to go to in this hobby. Take a gander at the review to find out if you qualify as an otaku or just a mere wannabe.
Weekly Update - April 17
Thanks for stopping by...due to the Easter holiday and large amounts of seminary work, the review for Haibane Renmei Vol. 1 has been delayed one week. I believe all should be ready to go for next Monday's deadline. It's actually the first deadline I've missed since early 1999 when I started my weekly updates, so I suppose I'm due. You have my apologies!
Meanwhile, I'm also declaring a sabbatical period at The Anime Review for the summer of 2006. During this time, the weekly review will go on hiatus. This does not mean that The Anime Review is going away any time soon...2007 will mark our ten year anniversary as a website, and I plan to keep it running for some time yet! However, a number of things have brought me to the conclusion that this is the best way to keep The Anime Review in shape for the years to come. If you're interested in my current plan, including the how and why of my sabbatical and what you can expect from The Anime Review in the future, please read on. In the meantime, I will be completing all the "coming soon" reviews within the next four weeks before the sabbatical begins. I'll hope to see you then!
Weekly Update - April 24
Well, it was delayed, but I've finally posted the review of Haibane Renmei Vol. 1. And you know, I think it's well worth the wait. This is a show full of mystery and wonder, and though it doesn't have many of the bells and whistles of mecha violence and bouncy fems, I think it's a compelling story. This tale of a girl who literally hatches into a new world and gains both wings and a halo is one of the most interesting anime I've seen in some time, and I hope to see the rest shortly. So pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee, and read through our review of a truly overlooked gem.
Weekly Update - May 1
New month, new show right off the presses for review -- Munto 2. This one's a sequel to a 2003 OVA that U.S. Manga Corps released last year, a gorgeous if slight 50-minute extravaganza that didn't wow me but wasn't bad, either. This world of sci-fi fantasy continues to be as impressive looking as ever, but is it really worth your time and your hard earned cash? Read on to find out.
Weekly Update - May 8
Do you like bugs? I'm not a fan, but Blue Gender Vol. 1 is crawling with them. This is a sci-fi/horror hybrid that isn't exactly imaginative but is full of violence and bloodshed aplenty. Does it work? Um...not so much, in my opinion, though I'm sure there are some gore hounds who would disagree. Click the link and see if it might be your anime answer to Starship Troopers.
Weekly Update - May 15
Shadow Skill Vol. 1 is a curious beast...a fantasy adventure that's a bit like The Slayers with the goofy comedy sucked out, it has quite a bit of action and some interesting characters, but its lack of a discernable story arc makes the first four volumes a little less than perfect. Take a quick read and see if this 1998 TV series might fulfill your need for some raucous beastslaying and bad guy pummelling.
Meanwhile, this review also starts our sabbatical period. Now make sure to check back in on a regular basis...we're not going anywhere, and I'll be posting reviews throughout the summer when I get through various series. In fact, because I don't have to worry about a weekly review for a few months, I've already been able to get some more of FullMetal Alchemist watched (as the sidebar shows). Read here for more information on why I'm taking the break. Have a great summer, and I'll hope to have some more material up for you shortly!
Sabbatical Update - May 19
Didn't think you could get rid of me that quickly, did you? Apparently, declaring a sabbatical works wonders for getting through shows, because I just pounded through the rest of Fullmetal Alchemist. A review will be forthcoming...though I'll tell you now that if you haven't watched any of this series yet, either tune into Adult Swim on Cartoon Network or save your pennies, 'cause this one's a keeper.
Sabbatical Update - August 12
Folks, it's been a crazy, crazy summer around here with lots of joy and sorrow in my family, more than I can go into right now. If you've checked out the titles in the "In Progress" section, you'll see that I have gotten through some shows this summer, even though I haven't had the chance to see as many as originally hoped. When I get back to the grind (hopefully in September), I'll have those shows reviewed and give you an update on the web site in general.
Meanwhile, Central Park Media was nice enough to send me a copy of a 2-disc set that includes both the original Yotoden OVAs and the edited movie of them called Wrath of the Ninja. Although I'm not a big fan of the edit, the original series got a B+ from me, and I'm glad to see it on disc. Take a look at our classic review to see if it's something you'd like to pick up.
Sabbatical Update - August 28
Hello, loyal readers! I'm happy to announce that this is the last week of The Anime Review's first official sabbatical. You'll definitely want to come back on Labor Day, September 4, for a trifecta of reviews to celebrate our return: the entirety of Neon Genesis Evangelion. That's right - after many delays and countless requests, we'll have reviews for the TV series, Death/Rebirth, and The End of Evangelion. Then we'll be back to our regular weekly updates every Monday. Don't miss it!
Weekly Update - September 4
I cannot tell you how great it is to be back and reviewing anime! As promised, I have the Evangelion reviews: Neon Genesis Evangelion TV, Death/Rebirth, and The End of Evangelion. Now these may not be the most favorable reviews you've ever read of this series. All I can say is, don't shoot the messenger! I can't say that I thought it was the end-all/be-all of anime, but perhaps I've gotten jaded from years of anime reviewing. But then again, I have a couple of reviews coming up for shows that will receive A+ grades...so stay tuned to find out what those great series are and feast on the Eva reviews in the meantime!
Weekly Update - September 11
This week, I get to return to one of the best anime series in recent memory, Haibane Renmei. Although I'd given stellar marks to the first volume some time ago, I had not had the chance to take in the whole. Now that I have, I'm glad to say the rest of the program is just as good as its opening. Take a look at the revised review that confirms just how spectacular Haibane Renmei is.
I also want to take a brief moment to remember those who lost loved ones in the terrorist attack on America five years ago today and for the families of all those who have given their lives in the service of protecting our freedom from terrorism since. May God's comfort be with you.
Weekly Update - September 18
Not every anime that shows up on American cable is all that good. With all the hype that Cartoon Network put into IGPX, I had expected it to be a barnburner. Instead, what I found was a mishmash of stereotypes that made for one of the dullest shows in recent memory. My review is officially of just the first volume, since I could only stomach watching four episodes without hitting the fast forward button. I did skim through the rest of the first season with the magic that is Tivo, so I can assure you it doesn't get better. But if you're really into shows with big robots thrashing each other on a race track and drivers who co-pilot their mechs with their pets, who knows what you'll think?
Weekly Update - September 25
There are a few times when I am truly glad to be able to proclaim to my web audience that there is something they really must see...and that happens today with Paranoia Agent. Satoshi Kon continues to be the best animator under 50 in the business today, bar none, and this show proves it. The only other animator who consistently impresses me the same way is Matoko Shinkai (Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised In Our Early Days). Click on the link and see why I think Paranoia Agent should be your next purchase (assuming you're old enough to handle the dark psychological themes in this beauty). It's a freakshow, but a fantastic one.
Weekly Update - October 2
You know, I'm starting to develop a love/hate relationship with Area 88. I've been a fan since the manga premiered in America over 15 years ago, and I've anxiously anticipated each little bit we've gotten in the U.S. ever since. But the TV show ends just as inconclusively as every other version we've seen on this side of the Pacific, and I'm a bit frustrated. But why am I surprised? At any rate, take a look at my review of Area 88 TV Vol. 4, which expresses my problems a little more thoroughly. On the whole, I think the TV show is still quite worthwhile, despite my slight disappointment with its conclusion.
Weekly Update - October 9
It's one of the most gory and deeply disturbing shows of recent memory. Yet it far exceeds the excesses and mindless carnage of Gantz. What other show could it be but Elfen Lied? As I reviewed volumes 3 & 4 to close out the series, I realized that this tale has stuck with me. It's flawed in many ways, a little too reliant on nudity and violence to move the story forward. However, there is a core to the narrative that I found quite moving. Read Elfen Lied Vol. 3 & 4 and determine for yourself if this brutal, touching story's finale is worth a look.
Weekly Update - October 16
One of my favorite OVAs of recent memory has returned! With Animation Runner Kuromi 2, we get another dose of hilarity about the ins and outs of an animation studio with a crew just this side of crazy. It's not too often that I get to review a comedy I think is just great, but Kuromi 2 really fits the bill. In fact, in some ways, it improves upon the original. Even if you're not all that familiar with the workings of the anime industry, I think you'll find this to be a fantastic show.
Weekly Update - October 23
Alright folks, this is a "taking one for the team" sort of week. Have you never heard of Dark Cat? I'm not surprised. The Meta Anime Review Project had no entry for this DVD until today. It has no ranking at Anime News Network. One would think that it has breathed its last. Nevertheless, Media Blasters has made it available on DVD, and it's dirt cheap. But dear friends, this is the bottom of the barrel. In fact, this is the creeping crud that actually sits under the rotting, stinking barrel. It's a very short review, but that's all you need when a show is this utterly pathetic. Yuck.
Weekly Update - October 30
Continuing with last week's theme of suckitude, I've got Kai Doh Maru up for review. This washed-out, washed-up anime is not the worst feudal-era swordplay show I've seen, but it's darn close. Not only is the plot a mess, it's literally a pain to watch. Click on the link if you dare, loyal readers...
Weekly Update - November 6
Although it's not as great as I had hoped it might be, we definitely break the junk streak this week with FullMetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa. If you've seen the series, it's a no-brainer, but perhaps my expectations going in were too high. It's exciting and fun...but it doesn't have the same deep core I found in the television show. That said, I'm very glad I saw it, and if you're a FullMetal Alchemist fan, I know you'll enjoy it at very least...hopefully you won't develop the aftertaste I did.
Weekly Update - November 13
I had no real hopes for this week's title, Guyver TV Vol. 1: Days of Future Past. My own experiences with the older Guyver series weren't exactly enthusiastic. That said, I was surprised to find this to be an enjoyable sci-fi tale with far more character development than I ever imagined. Though it has some weaknesses from being a tale that's been played out in many different animated forms over the years, it's certainly worth a look.
Weekly Update - December 4
Just a note for all my loyal readers...finals are upon me, and with Master's level papers due for three classes, I'm a little behind! But never fear...I will double up on my reviews when I return to get caught back up! I'm hoping to update no later than December 18 with two new reviews, and hopefully it will be earlier. So stay tuned, friends...I shall return!
Weekly Update - December 15
I'm back! Sorry for the delay, but I thought you'd appreciate the update as soon as possible. So what's the next contestant on The Anime Review? Today we've got the Elfen Lied OVA, which apparently has been licensed by ADV Films but has not yet been released. Why would they sit on it? Well, when you get right into the content, it becomes clear why it hasn't been seen on any official schedules. Now it's actually not the worst filler I've seen, but it is definitely filler, and that's not something that most fans will pay big bucks to buy. My expectation is that if we ever see it at all, we'd see it in a ultimate box set down the road...which is actually the one way it would really work well. Click the link and find out why...
Weekly Update - December 18
Only three days between updates...who would have thunk it? Anyway, today's update is of The Boy Who Saw The Wind, a film that brings back memories of an older time when anime wasn't quite as fast paced and yet somehow had a bigger sense of wonder. It's been (unfairly) compared to Hayao Miyazaki's work, but it stands well on its own. If you like stories of young heroes, dastardly villains, and brave peasants willing to take on a dangerous empire, you'll like Star Wars...erm, and you'll like this too.