2007 News Archive
Weekly Update - January 15
Who knew that Christmas and an intensive seminary course could throw me so far off track? Ah, well...at least I'm back with a review of a relatively new series. Pani Poni Dash! is considered to be a "hot" show by Japanese standards...Protoculture Addicts #89 said that in a recent Japanese survey of TV views, the show placed third in a list of favorite anime behind only FullMetal Alchemist and Neon Genesis Evangelion! While that might be impressive, it's also important to note that a lot of anime shows like Doraemon never make it to the West because they are so culturally different. And I'm sad to say it, but Pani Poni Dash! just doesn't translate well. Read on to find out why I'm not so thrilled about this madcap comedy.
Weekly Update - February 5
Who would have thought that the most melodramatic shoujo anime on the planet could be so entertaining? Boys Over Flowers Vol. 1 is a show that features predictable situations, cliched characters, and a soap-worthy plot...and it's also surprisingly good how it goes about all of it. Depending on your genre expectations, you might find it a hokey mess or an enjoyable pastiche. Take a look at the full review to find out why something that should be tired feels pretty fresh instead.
Weekly Update - February 26
Three weeks since my last update...yeesh. Another intensive seminary class got in the way...and if you want to read more about my current schedule and reasons for delays, you can click here. But generally, my woes are not the reason you come here...you come here for reviews, and I'm glad to say I've got a good one for you in Coyote Ragtime Show Vol. 1. It's a B-movie plot done at an A-grade level, with explosions, prison breaks, and treasures that promise to make your eyes water. Follow the link to read read more about this fun new sci-fi series.
Meanwhile, to make my delay in reviews a bit more forgiveable, I've also added an additional review for next week...the Samuel L. Jackson slash-and-hack fest that is Afro Samurai. Stayed tuned for its review along with thoughts on the unique but virtually unpronounceable Utawarerumono Vol. 1.
Weekly Update - March 5
As promised, I've got two reviews for you this week to make up for my recent delays. I hope you find them worthwhile! First up is Afro Samurai, a wildly violent yet entertaining epic about a drifter battling his way to avenge his father. It's beautifully animated and slick overall, but its dark tone and extreme brutality may not be your cup of tea.
Second this week is the far slower (and only briefly violent) Utawarerumono Vol. 1. It's difficult to put a label on this series about a masked man without a past who becomes a village's defender from both the wiles of the forest gods and the crass despot who rules their land. Though some will dislike its animation and others will find it dull, I found myself intrigued and entertained by the growing saga.
Finally, I want to put a brief word in for Spider Riders, a new American-Japanese co-production that started just a few weeks ago on Kids WB. It's really geared for an audience far younger than myself, and I honestly can't give it a review that would reflect what that target audience might think of it. However, they were nice enough to send me a screener disc for the series. So if you're a younger reader (or the parent of a younger reader), please take a look for it in your local listings or check it out at www.spiderriders.com. Thanks!
Weekly Update - March 12
This week's review will matter to you only if you can handle your anime riddled with imperfections that existed in programming 30 years ago. Believe it or not, that's how old one of the seminal titles of anime is, and that's Space Battleship Yamato: The Movie. This compilation film that summarized the first season of the television series caught wildfire in Japan in 1977 and helped the show find its audience. The TV program was eventually released in America under the title Star Blazers, and the rest is history. Seen through the modern lens, parts of the movie are atrocious, and the first half's a bore. However, if you're like I am, you'll find that there's a certain charm to it, particularly in the second hour that sums up everything good about this legendary show. If nothing else, check out the review to pay your respects to a huge part of anime history on both sides of the Pacific.
Weekly Update - March 19
When you think of 1700s France, do you include killer zombies and secret societies? If so, then Le Chevalier D'Eon Vol. 1 might be just right for you. A strangely twisted take on events leading up to the French Revolution, Le Chevalier D'Eon follows the exploits of a young nobleman whose sister has been murdered. Her soul, however, wants to take revenge on those responsible, even if it means possessing her brother for a bit. Although I found it all a bit too much at times, it's certainly entertaining and a definite change of pace. While I might have liked it better had it not decided to go the occult route, the swordfighting is something to see.
Weekly Update - March 26
Do you like goofy anime from the early '90s? If so, then you'll probably enjoy this week's title, Ghost Sweeper Mikami: The Movie. A tale of a penny-pinching exorcist and her crew of spiritualists, Mikami is an action farce that goes on a bit too long and doesn't do a thing to develop its characters. So why did I like it? Hmm...maybe as I write the review, I'll figure it out. It's not a keeper for me, but it's still an entertaining diversion with some good laughs -- check out the review to find out more.
Also, after getting some requests, I have created a way to make donations to the site via PayPal. There's a little button at the bottom of the "new reviews" frame under the links to our latest musings. That will take you to a PayPal website where you can securely donate to The Anime Review if you should so desire. The Anime Review is a not-for-profit entity, but we aren't officially registered as such with the United States government, so your donations are not tax-deductible (though I will send you a nice email thank-you). And if you don't like PayPal, I understand completely...feel free to buy anime via our RightStuf links, because that also helps us out. And if you don't like that option, you can also buy our merchandise at Cafepress! (You can also find the link for that under the donations button.) I appreciate your willingness to help me keep the site running.
Weekly Update - April 2
I headed into unique territory this week with the first volume of Kurogane Communication. Who would have ever thought that a story about the last girl on Earth could be so, um, cheerful? This tale of a young woman who's awakened after an apocalypse by a group of friendly robots is quite effective at the unexpected. Though it has some problems, it's high on the "don't see this everyday" scale...read the review to learn more.
Weekly Update - April 9
I'm not all that fond of shows that are schizophrenic, uncertain of what they want to be from the outset. Too many good concepts are ruined by hazy scripting and poor plotting. Initially, I thought that was what I had found with Scrapped Princess Vol. 1, a show that takes a while to find its feet and presents itself at first as a light comedy with dark undertones. However, if you give it the whole disc, you'll find an entertaining work that is worthy of a second look. Between a beautiful young princess, a knight that makes Monty Python's outfit look brilliant, and an enemy determined to destroy said princess before she destroys their world, there's enough here for a good evening's entertainment.
Brief Update - April 15
Hi there, loyal readers...due to family emergencies and obligations the last few days, the next update will be late. How late, I can't say. However, please keep checking back in...I hope to have a new review up within the week. Thanks for your patience.
Weekly Update - May 7
Well, that was an unexpected hiatus...my apologies to all of you who make The Anime Review a regular stop on your weekly dose of the internet. The various situations that caused the break were both serious and personal, enough so that I'm not going to broadcast them. Besides, you're probably not here for color commentary on my life but for reviews on anime, right? So here we go...things are looking good that I may be able to get caught up and print a couple reviews each week. That's my plan.
Meanwhile, let's get to this week's show, shall we? While I enjoyed the shorter version of Mezzo Forte, an exciting and violent burst of energy from the notorious Yasuomi Umetsu, I still have a bad taste from the unedited version of it that was seriously disgusting and wholly unnecessary. Thus, I had my doubts about whether or not the television series based on the same show would be great fun with guns or something too lewd to appreciate. Turns out, Mezzo: Shell One is five episodes of anime goodness that is a mix of fantastically unbelievable action with some character development to spare. It has its weak moments, but I'm back on board the Umetsu train...take a read and find out why.
Weekly Update - May 14
I haven't quite gotten to the point where I can do any double reviews yet, but I've got one worth a double review this week: Kurau Phantom Memory Vol. 1. Having heard no buzz on the title, I would never have known of it if not for a review screener. I reluctantly popped it in...and found it to be one of the most engaging, entertaining, and compelling anime I've seen all spring. The story of Kurau, a young girl whose life is dramatically changed by a science experiment gone awry, reads on paper like just one more superhero tale, but that turns out to be very wrong. Written at a relational level miles deeper than most television anime, I've rarely felt connected to anime characters this soon in a series. Along with Coyote Ragtime Show and Utawarerumono, ADV Films has a trifecta of excellent shows this season worth watching.
In other site news, I recently got an email from Brian York, the artist responsible for the Minmei "art girl" who's been our mascot for many years now. He created the picture back in the late '80s when we both were involved in various ways with the Dayton Animation Club. I'd forgotten his name over the years and always wanted to give him credit, so I was glad to hear from him. Thanks to Brian for supplying us with a great piece of artwork!
Weekly Update - May 21
There's a minor switch in the ordering of reviews this week...since it looks like I can get my hands on a copy of Utawarerumono Vol. 3 by the end of the week, I held off on reviewing #2 and will look at both together for next week. That means that Coyote Ragtime Show Vol. 2 moves up a week and gets its review today! I'm still enjoying this show, though the lack of energy in the second half of the disc made it less thrilling than the previous round. However, if you enjoyed the first disc as much as I did, I think it's worth a pickup.
Weekly Update - June 4, 2007
For decades now, young boys have been entertained by Shonen Jump, possibly the most important weekly manga magazine ever. Within its pages have come everything from slice-of-life tales to impossible fantasy and everything inbetween. In this mix are sports stories such as The Prince of Tennis, which has been adapted into a 150+ episode television series. For this week's review, I looked at The Prince of Tennis Box Set 1, which contains the first thirteen episodes of the epic, and I found it...difficult. Having been a tennis player at the same age as the show's protagonist, I was really hoping to get into the plot. The problem is, it so closely follows typical shonen formulas that it nearly smothers itself to death in cliche. But is it watchable? Against my better judgment, I have to say yes. Follow the link and find out why this long volley of a show still works enough for a recommendation.
Weekly Update - June 11, 2007
The "unexpected magical lovers" genre isn't a new one in anime. Lots of shows from Video Girl Ai to Urusei Yatsura have the premise that by some strange feat, a unique feminine alien or entity shows up who shouldn't be a perfect match for the lead character, but she is. A lot of these shows feature a harem of girls, all of which are after the hero, or at least there's a love triangle to make things interesting. So far, so good.
Into this mix comes Chobits Vol. 1, an endeavor based on a manga by the collective group of female writers known as CLAMP, about a boy and his pretty robot. This leap into the world of ecchi shonen comics is, at times, endearing. At other times, it's a bit raunchy. And occasionally, it made me wonder whether or not the emptyheaded female lead is supposed to be the perfect male fantasy or represent reverse feminist thought or something very politically incorrect I haven't even considered. Sometimes good, sometimes frustrating, Chobits is one where you'll have to read the review to figure out if it will suit your taste.
Weekly Update - June 18, 2007
Due to some unexpected shifts in discs that were available to me this week, I wound up not reviewing Noein yet. My apologies! And yet, I postponed it temporarily to get a review out there of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. I've been hearing about this title for a while now, and after the incredible animation of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, I was interested in taking a look. And yep...it's gorgeous. I mean, my wife literally couldn't take her eyes off of it when she walked into the room during the middle. But does it make any sense unless you've spent countless hours in the world of Final Fantasy VII: The Game? Not really. Take a read of the review and see why brilliant eye candy isn't the only thing a fanboy needs.
Site Update - September 3, 2007
Hello, loyal readers! You have probably been wondering where I've been the past two and a half months. In some ways, I've been wondering that myself. The site has not been updated, quite simply, because this summer has been insane. I've been taking three online classes where I was writing about 20 pages of material, if not more, every single week...the last of those ends this week. I did learn one thing...to take a full semester's worth of seminary classes in 12 weeks during the summer rather than during the normal 15 is good but also mind-numbing! Between that, preaching, and ordination exams, summer has passed me by. This week, I also started my unit of CPE -- clinical pastoral education -- at a local hospice. That's draining but fulfilling work.
By this point, you're probably wondering what all this has to do with you, the faithful who come by to read my reviews. Well, good news! Once my final paper is written and I get my hospice schedule under control, The Anime Review will return. I'm shooting for my next regular update to be September 17. So your patience will not go unrewarded! Thanks for your understanding.
Weekly Update - September 17, 2007
Thanks for your patience, friends...finally, I can post my long-awaited review of Noein Vol. 1. It's got a headtrip beginning, but then it slows down into a creepy, character driven event. I don't know where the ride is going to go, but so far it's worth the price of admission.
Weekly Update - October 1, 2007
As I recovered from a nasty case of strep throat and a vicious sinus infection, it was nice to have a bright and shiny show to watch in the form of 009-1 Vol. 1. This new show, based on a manga that ran nearly forty years ago, has the retro feel, color, and character designs down perfectly. There's some great action sequences and an atmosphere to rival a Bond picture. It's not a great show, primarily because it takes itself too seriously and doesn't open up. Not every retro show has to be Austin Powers, but it should still have a sense of its own place. Ah, well...it's still worth watching, especially the third and fourth episodes. (And for those of you who use my lists to find titles that interest you, you'll find the show listed under D for "Double O Nine One," both the English and Japanese pronunciation of the series.) Read the review to find out if this sexy throwback spyfest is worth the effort for you.
Weekly Update - October 8, 2007
Just in time for the Halloween season comes a new thriller called Red Garden. The first volume has a plot incredibly similar to another recent (and quite controversial) title, Gantz. However, whereas that title was big on blood and gore and fan service extremes, Red Garden Vol. 1 is full of atmospheric tension and character moments that draw us into this dark little world. Read the review and you'll find out why I'm recommending this title despite its lack of an original plotline.
Weekly Update - October 15, 2007
Sometimes a show really exceeds its grasp. When said show wants to be an all-encompassing sci-fi epic in just 12 episodes, you know you're in trouble. Such is the situation with Xenosaga. As I watched the first volume of episodes of the serial based on the Playstation 2 game, I realized that despite some decent symphonic music, a few cool ship-to-ship battles, and a strangely appealing lead heroine, this show is overstuffed. Packed to the gills with plot, Xenosaga Vol. 1 forgets that if we don't care about the characters, all the events in the world are meaningless. That said, I didn't hate it either. Take a gander at the full review and see if this interplanetary adventure might be more to your liking than mine.
Weekly Update - October 22, 2007
You're not paranoid if somebody really is out to get you, right? This could be the truth for Sato, the reclusive and disturbed anti-hero of Welcome To The N.H.K. Vol. 1. He's convinced that there's a dark conspiracy plotted against him, so he hasn't left his apartment in virtually three years. Not exactly your typical anime plot, right? It turns out this show is a symphony of otaku dysfunction, darkly humorous and strangely serious and yet almost moving. It's one of the best anime shows I've seen this year, though some of the content isn't appropriate for younger viewers. That said, read the review and see if you might find some parallels from your own life in the world of Sato's obsessions.
Weekly Update - November 5, 2007
While the plotline is certainly different, Pumpkin Scissors Vol. 1 has the look and feel of Fullmetal Alchemist down pat. From the character designs to the costumes, it feels like you've stepped into that world all over again. But is this story of a military division dedicated to rebuilding a wartorn country nearly as compelling as the story of the Elric Brothers? Read this week's review to find if this oddly titled shonen war drama is worth your cash.
Weekly Update - November 12, 2007
Normally, I'm a bit of an anime snob. I want my characters to have, well, character. I want my plots complex and my stories unpredictable and my artwork as perfect as possible. But then there are shows that are just plain fun, even if they are derivative. And that's what I found with Coyote Ragtime Show Vol. 3, which concludes the series. CRS isn't the filet mignon of anime, but it's solid meat and potatoes, and this last volume is a hearty meal of starships blowing up and planets headed for destruction. Take a gander at the review and see if it might be appetizing to you.
Thanksgiving Update - November 21, 2007
Hello, loyal readers! I've gotten through Mezzo: Shell Two but want to finish up the final disc before posting my review. Look for it early next week. In the meantime, I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving...and for all of you who live where this holiday is not celebrated, simply know that I am thankful for you and your continued readership. See you next Monday...
Weekly Update - December 1, 2007
Hello all! It's a little earlier than my usual Monday updates, but since I'm already way behind on posts, I thought I'd get up the new review as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the news isn't as good as I'd hoped. While I really enjoyed the first disc of the Mezzo TV series, Mezzo: Shell Two is just plain bad. Mezzo: Shell Three does have a solid conclusion to the series, but I'm not certain that you'll want to bother with the second disc as poor as it is. As I state in my review of the two discs, it's possible to skip the second disc entirely, and if you really like these characters, the finale is strong. But the middle? Duller than dirt.
Christmas Update - December 21, 2007
Greetings to you...and apologies for my lack of updates. I know many of you come weekly for your dose of anime reviewing goodness, but it looks like my next update will hit after the new year begins...though I might just be able to squeeze one in on Dec. 31. I also wanted to let you know that changes are a'comin' to The Anime Review...no ownership changes or anything like that...but a slightly different philosophy towards my reviewing work than what you've seen over the past year or two on the site. I hope to update you all soon...in the meantime, may you and yours have a blessed Christmas!