Category Archives: Final Impressions

Garo -Honō no Kokuin [91/100]

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Keita Amemiya got his start in the anime industry in character monster designing with 1989’s Ultraman. His first created work had been on Iria: Zeiram The Animation.  An action sci-fi adventure series.  Where he really shines though is in his fantasy works–  Mahou ShoujotaiGaro and horror OVA G-9.

Makai Knights under a code of honor by the Order are sent throughout the land to kill Horrors–  humans that are consumed by their own grief and/or hatred.  German’s wife is killed by being burned at the stake fueling the inevitable witch hunts led by Valiante King’s advisor Mendoza.  Some of the best narratives are the side-cast that Garo focuses on.  The horror doctor, the mother and child outed from their village, the blacksmith overcome by his grief of losing his son–  so many personal issues with these minor characters really build this world into a larger piece that plays onto Mendoza’s hatred wonderfully well.  His backstory is awesome:  he throws his wife and child off a cliff because they are marked just like him after he was banished from the Order as a Makai Alchemist because he was power hungry.

Ema Guizman is one of the strongest female characters of the past few seasons–  she’s doesn’t believe in the Makai Knights and tries to shoulder everything on her own.  The episode where her love with human-turned horror Luciano really illustrates the relationships people have with each other and how the code these Makai Knights and Alchemists follow can sometimes in unfortunate circumstances can change them.  Sometimes though the plot is flimsy–  the handmade Garo Knight felt entirely out of left field just for the sake of bringing back blacksmith apprentice Juliano.  Sometimes there’s overacting in times that doesn’t need to be just to deliver a more intense mood.  However, overall the story is so good that it’s easily passable.

The soundtrack is just as good as the art–  really dark and ambitious.  MONACA founder Keiichi Okabe is amazing–  I couldn’t tell this came from the same group that did the score of Hourou Musuko!  It has understated piano tracks and very toned down drum sections compared to Hiroyuki Sawano.  It works wonderfully in this series that is subtle with its grim narratives.  If you are a fan of Mahou Shoujotai, enjoy watching fantasy series with more mature themes than I highly recommend this series that is a twisted take on the tokusatsu genre!

Let’s see more original series from Amemiya like this one in the future!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: [91/100]

Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata [73/100]

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From the past few episodes I knew this series would be around the 70’s rating range for me.  I’m not such a huge fan of harem series however Saenai hits a lot of the right notes in being unconventional.  Based on a light novel series hat leads to collection of successful witty narratives between different female tropes about doujin creation.  If only the creators took the time in developing some kind of tie-in to how a dating sim game is created.  Perhaps they should have taken note from Bakuman was with the manga industry and how it had gradually shifted nicely between making serialization deadlines to timeframe of artwork and writing chapters.  I hope that the second season rectifies this glaring issue for me.  Aside from that the pacing in this is gradual, something that director Kanta Kamei knows really well on how to achieve after seeing his work on Usagi Drop.

The music score by Hajime Hyakkoku is toned down in the impact and yet a lot of the pieces throughout Saenai‘s episodes end up being up-lifting.  Tons of keyboard compositions.  Similar to his other works on K-On! and Gugure! Kokkuri-san.

This is much better than his directorial disaster on Nanana—  I believe that show had a poor scenario writer and planner.  Saenai for most of its run was very funny–  introduced its trope characters of Utaha and Eriri with just enough background that is familiar in this genre and still remains a refreshing contrast to Tomoya’s drive for anything that defines him as an otaku.  His room illustrates this point greatly.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: [73/100]

Mushishi Zoku Shou [98/100]

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This is my 299th post and what better way to end this here than with my final review of Mushishi‘s second half Zoku Shou.

There really isn’t a single series out there like this one.  This show is awesome!  What anime series lack in characterization Mushishi more than makes up for in its wide cast.  This is certainly a show that blows just about every other anime out of the water by focusing on people individually.  A big applause to Yuki Urushibara for writing such etherial and sometimes relaxing stories!  A lot of the episodes come across being really deep in its settings and themes but what really sets this anime apart from the rest is the atmosphere it gradually maintains–  luscious forests and even snow scenes with glowing mushi allows for this series to come off quite beautiful visually!

The extra is how strong the music is.  While the stories about people being afflicted by mushi in some form or another tackles japanese folklore and legends its very much in the way of its soundtrack that delivers the authenticity that this show is known for.  It sets itself up nicely for the viewer.  Toshio Masuda,  I’ve mentioned him before in Kamisama Kiss’ recent episode post and how well diverse he is getting to be as a composer.  Without a doubt Mushishi still stands as the best work he’s ever done and without it I do not believe Ginko’s tales would have been so effective.

When Zoku Shou got announced I was rather worried because there are times when series do come back for a sequel and some of the staff doesn’t return;  which can greatly hinder the differences between seasons drastically for the viewer.  A fine example of this was last season’s Psycho-Pass 2 in how the writer and production studio changed.  With Mushishi,  just as the stories are authentic it strived to adapt the manga with so much heart it had to have just about every staff member return.

Director Hiroshi Nagahama most known for helping conceive Revolutionary Girl Utena‘s animated work hasn’t done much but what he has achieved has been incredible.  This guy has done wonders for this series, to be able to maintain such consistency in every keeping the high standards the first season had set after having such a large gap between seasons 1 and 2 is an amazing achievement in itself!  One of my favorite series that he actually created was Simoun.  As for the animation I personally think its some of the best we’ve had of 2014 and Studio Artland pulled it off once again!  Mushishi isn’t flashy and doesn’t like to show off but more importantly what it aims at is whether or not it can tell a solid narrative.

This second season I think may have had some of the best chapters adapted.  It’s also one of the few anime series that has animated every single chapter a mangaka has ever done!  We start off with a sake brewer and his connection with his father’s wishes to be the best there is to episodes like Komori E and Koten no Hoshi that bring families even closer together by shifting the focus away from Ginko and using the mushi as the mediator to point things out.

Then there are some really dark stories that come off even better than the light-hearted ones!  Stories where people disappear into nothingness, chopping off heads to keep a woman alive, getting frostbitten, a fish-like boy turning into water to people killing each other out of rage–  these were episodes that were definitely on another level.  While they weren’t cruel they just put humans in ethical predicaments.  The mushi for the most of Zoku Shou remains a principal string that ties these episodes together into the genre of supernatural so well.  It’s because of that this anime is also able to develop these minor characters into the grand scheme of things.  The reoccurring theme of survival and what comes with it.  The life-cycle that is represented in a lot of Mushishi episodes conveys a strong message about morality and what kinds of customs the characters of this series follow and sometimes don’t.

Mushishi can make us laugh and cry within a single episode while pondering so many questions about human connections and even teach us about Japanese traditions.  A powerfully moving anime that invokes a spirited presence with stunning visuals and an enriching collection of ideas about our existence and the people that we connect with that can make it a fulfilling life.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: [98/100]

Mushishi Zoku Shou Episode 20 [END]

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Ancient trees are somewhat of a popular culture among Japanese stories.  According to legends, kodama are considered to be gods [kami] that dwell inside of trees.  Many believed that kodama never stick to one tree but can travel through forests by clinging from tree to tree.  In reference to Japanese animation kodama have been used in numerous Hayao Miyazaki’s films most notably in Princess Mononoke.  What makes this story of Zoku Shou especially engaging is how it takes these collections of legends and builds up from it using atmosphere, the conventional and sometimes awe-inspiring music of Japan and wraps it around a simple story about a village making sacrifices for one another.

Sentimental would probably be the best way to describe this episode.  The basis for a lot of Mushishi episodes even back in season 1 has been about Shinto–  an action-centered religion that focuses on ceremonial practices based on one principal idea:  to be diligent.  More over the fact that its a religion based around searching for connections between the present time and the past in order to secure a strong future.  Much like many episodes that Mushishi has had this one developed strongly with its episodic cast through its intertwining flashbacks around the giant tree and the fruit that Kanta eats from it.

The story of Tokoshie no Ki here with Kanta’s curiosity to travel across unknown lands brings this season 2 to a close quite nicely.  What’s great about these episodes are how individual they are.  It certainly did not feel like Mushishi was ending here but rather delivers exceptionally strong based on how much we’ve seen of this world.  This episode might recall some relevance to season 1’s Kago no Naka episode.  Setsu being unable to get out of the forest which turns out that he has a familiar family connection with the bamboo tree.  Here though it’s Kanta’s curiosity of the world that pushes him even further into the tree to the point of disabling his legs literally!  Love the scene where Kanta recollects how he knows of Ginko when he was a boy and the elderly mushishi when he was but a child as well.  Its the sudden flashback that gives off the mushi’s influence by the tree that gets this story going with a bang.

While both season 1’s episode 14 and this final episode shows a tree getting cut down they both exploit shinto in different ways.  Kanta getting his feet stuck  while becoming one with the tree was a strong visual indicator that he really has been a part of this tree all along.  Not to mention all the memories he’s collected:  550 years worth!

The flashback with Isaza and young Ginko was awesome because we get to see how long this Satorigi has also been around for.  The earthquake the elderly man mentions from 550 years ago where the first bloom occurred depicts the sacrificial aspect of this tale really well.  The villagers healing it, then trying to cut it down and finally to the point of praising it as a god could not have emphasized this better!  I like how this episode uses the various villagers as storytellers about what the tree has caused within their village over time.  The glowing sap after the tree had been cut down once again reintroduces the Light Vein we’ve seen in past episodes and the strength it lends to its hosts.  Which in this case is Kanta.

Ginko offers medicine to the ailing Kanta and I like how he sends out messages in hopes for a cure really settled down the atmosphere here.  A calm before the storm.  In order to save the villagers from a coming threat he has them escape from an earthquake.  That was an incredibly well-animated scene during that earthquake!  It’s not until the end here that Tokoshie no Ki delivers a really strong message!  And that’s this idea of humans bonding together with mushi to learn from each other on how to live.  A theme that seems to flow throughout every episode of Mushishi:  survival.

At last!  We are finally at the end of Zoku Shou.  I’m actually quite sad this series has ended and I hope that there will be more in the future.  Good thing that there will be an animated feature film coming this summer to adapt the final two chapters of the manga.  I can’t even imagine what the budget will look like for that!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS [75/100]

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If someone asked me to define this series in one word I would have to say “entertaining”.  As this is exactly what this show was trying to do, it didn’t follow most adventure anime series with it’s incessant scenes of sexuality, deus-ex machina like how BLEACH or even Naruto suffers from at times, but MAPPA succeeded in bringing a japanese-based card game series to life!

Shingeki almost feels at times not like anime in the way it pushes tons of Pirates of the Caribbean ideas around the supernatural aspect that the card game is known for–  demons and angels at war with each other where the humans of this story are used as pieces of entertainment for them.

For the most part this series was well-paced and coming from Gegege no Kitaro season 5’s script writer Keiichi Hasegawa this was like an entirely different realm for him that worked out well for his repertoire.  Without a doubt though episode 3 was one of the best episodes that used necromancers in introducing Miyuki Sawashiro’s Rita as a main cast member by building up the town around her in such a darkly and grisly-defining way.

Also, if any of you recall me mentioning how the music to this is more film-quality like than you’ll understand how many similarities it has to Karas’ score and Tiger & Bunny’s collection of orchestral pieces.  It’s strong and hard-hitting that allow the emotional scenes of this series to really carry over and IKE is great at pulling this off!  While the staff of this consisted mainly of the same creators that worked on Karas and Tiger & Bunny this worked out in their favor for a lot of the episodes but what has surprised me the most was the voice acting–  Go Inoue’s performance as Kaisar provided a style of insecurity in upholding his family name while having his lackluster scenes against Space Dandy Meow’s Hiroyuki Yoshino as Favaro.

However, the best seiyu of this is a tie between Rita’s Miyuki Sawashiro and how much she was able to downplay the role with subtle remarks about her zombie nature.  The other being Martinet’s Kenjiro Tsuda–  an accomplished seiyu that reminds me somewhat of what Johnny Depp does in his roles as a film actor.  Versatile in giving voices to a wide-range of characters that give off an oddball yet mysterious sound to enhance each anime personality, and Shingeki was no different: given that Martinet was a maniacal human tampering in the affairs between demons, angels and of his own kind.

Not everything in this series shined as there were episodes in the middle part that seemed to take a backseat to the adventurous ride that focus on Favaro and Amira’s journey to Helheim.  The actual card capturing had only been shown at least three times in this series and as much as I enjoy the trick that Favaro and Kaisar pull on Martinet in the finale with it I can say it should have been more prevalent in this series considering how it uses source material from this very idea.

More of the world could have been expanded here and the traveling side of things should have been explored to great length in not just establishing the relationships between Favaro and Amira constantly escaping Kaisar’s clutches but in how the other side-lined demons could handle situations as they arise.  Colorful animation in the scenes of the underworld and in the skies with the demons and angels but when it comes to plot development not much remains to be enhanced.

However putting the gripes I had with this if you are looking for a series that is short but fun and fluid in its animation then look no further than Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS!  Animation by Zankyou no Terror and Sakamichi no Apollon’s studio MAPPA brings a style all its own here that gives off this idea that sometimes anime stories can be something leaps and bounds separate than the action/adventure anime series of the norm.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: [75/100]

Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS Episode 12 [END]

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The swashbuckling adventure series by MAPPA finally comes to a close and this could have been one of the most satisfying 1-cour endings we could have had.  It tied everything together wonderfully here especially by hardening the fact that Lavalley and Martinet are the same person.

While it might not have been the most creative way to utilize Lavalley as the final villain here but it did work out in terms of pushing this story at a quicker pace in such a limited amount of time.  Even Bahamut who was the main crux of Shingeki was able to handle Beelzebub to such effect that Azazel could redeem himself–  giving his character closure.  Speaking of wrapping up the people in this series Kaisar turns out to be one of the strongest characters in this–  he shoots his friend Favaro and ends up freeing him from his manipulative and somewhat comedic lying which reflects with the expression on his face towards Amira at the end.

The duel between them ends up being what Shingeki is trying to convey as a genre–  a stage play.  Two bandits on a journey both of self-discovery to fill their own desires and yet they come across tons of fantastical obstacles that ensures this series as highly entertaining.  Would like to see the same staff including the director here write an anime for the Brothers Grimm because that is definitely what I got from this finale.  When Kaisar gets his hand cut off by Favaro it really displayed the strong bond they share as friends and more notably how this friendship matures as the story moves along.

One of the few parts of this I could not seem to grasp was how little Bacchus and the duck Hamsa were shown throughout this and finally they receive the screen time to actually do something useful–  this is where this show could have improved and where the finale lacked substance as we had a small amount of detail known about these two characters.

Amira stuck within Bahamut accepts the amazing journey she had with Favaro and their own bond they share–  an adventurous love.  The kiss signifies this point to a large extent even where she appears from Bahamut’s eye and disappears into it depicting this idea of the “eye of the beholder” both literally and figuratively towards Favaro.

Nonetheless this was a conclusion to me that was delightful, beautiful to the viewer’s eye and a whimsical action anime series that aims at delivery themes that hits all the right notes on friendship, love, good versus evil and the supernatural.

Also if the ending card sequence of “I’ll be back” rings true than we might see another season of this sometime in the future!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10

PSYCHO-PASS 2 [40/100]

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I’m going to keep this short because I feel that the review of the final episode covered most of my thoughts on this series as a whole.  When I heard that a second season was announced for Noitamina’s 2014 lineup I was overjoyed.  It’s been awhile since we’ve had a really good cyberpunk anime series, last one that I can remember having such an influence into the genre was the Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex series that Production I.G. developed in the early 2000’s.  The first season of Psycho-Pass used wonderful ideas about a futuristic dystopian society that followed the rules under a secretive system that with the first season had been let out of its cage by an asymptomatic killer Shougo Makishima and his tenacious behavior at influencing others to unleash their own aspirations of behind heard through killing.  Following the events with Kougami gone missing, Akane gaining the Shepherd I title and having complete authority over Division I puts her into quite a strong role for this second series.

Kirito Kamui, one of the series villains was used here as the focal point in evolving Sibyl into a collective entity but threw Akane to the sidelines by the end.  This wasn’t the only part of the show that went wrong here:  Yugo Kanno’s strong orchestral sound was replaced by a new style of his that did not work one bit–  electronica.  Also the series’ writer was changed from Gen Urobuchi to Tow Ubukata of Mardock Scramble and I can definitely tell it’s in every way inferior to its predecessor.

New enforcers were unveiled in this second season with Sho Hinakawa whom only speaks three words in the entire show that barely has screen time voiced by Makishima’s seiyu Takahiro Sakurai.  Then there is Sakuya Togane a mother-obsessed enforcer that oddly reminded Akane of Kougami of the first season a few times that turns out to be the other villain of this series with this highest crime coefficient ever recorded.  I think what targeted this series wasn’t the story as much as it was its under-developed characters including the schoolgirl-turned inspector Mika Shimotsuki that was more of an annoyance to not just the people she worked with but the viewer as well.

With the return of Production I.G. in the animation spot for the film and Gen Urobuchi’s return for the script I hope to see great things just as I did with the first season.  As for this second season this was a great example of what doesn’t make a series shine.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: [40/100]

PSYCHO-PASS 2 Episode 11 [END]

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It’s been about a week or so since I’ve had an update on my blog due to the holidays.  I hope that everyone had a great holiday and look forward to the new year with some interesting and fun anime series to get into!  Hopefully I will have a post about that within the coming week!  Now onto Noitamina’s second season of Psycho-Pass!

I get the feeling especially with the finale here is that Ubukata could not quite grasp the ideas Gen Urobuchi had for the story of Psycho-Pass when it came to developing its characters, creating intense scenes and wrapping that around the Sibyl System.  I miss the quotes he used in the first season and it’s highly noticeable especially with this episode and the constant persona switches from Kamui in the beginning that this is the same series but a completely different writer.

I say this because this episode pointed out absolutely everything that was wrong in the development of this second season.  Two antagonists, Kamui and Togane that could have been made into frightening people on two sides of the spectrum–  one obeying the system and the other denying it’s perfection.  Personally, I did not like Togane very much as Ubukata forcefully wrote his personality from the get-go to be evil since the very beginning which contrived some really plain backdrop scenes around Akane. [Thinking of when he pointed his dominator at her for the first time and Shimotsuki was right around the corner witnessing it all and his red eyes during the drone facility event]

Right at the core of Sibyl is finally where Kamui questions the authority of a collective entity but it just doesn’t add up.  Why destroy all those brains that the system has worked so hard at enriching itself into being better and why didn’t Kamui manipulate Akane into pointing the dominator right at Sibyl from the start?  I guess the writers here needed something desperately to work with and it’s without fail that they even used Chief Kasei’s death to somehow elevate the situation for her son, Togane. I can understand that Kamui has a skewed view of this system just as Shougo Makishima had but his reasons were rather unnecessary:  to be denied by a system that establishes a clear path into a life of peace just because your life was saved from 184 human beings.  It’s a shame that they even used a different writer for this because Urobuchi could have crafted this more intelligently as he has some kind of understanding of the sci-fi world built here rather than Ubukata.

I think what went wrong here more-so than anything else is the impact Akane made on Kamui and Togane as even the cliffhanger from last time pointed out that this is a showdown between the two of them.  A question of ideals that Togane backs up on the front that Sibyl is perfect and Kamui with his prowess in removing obstacles just to be noticed makes me think of Zankyou no Terror‘s main cast.  Pushing aside that the kids in that series were neglected and used as tools for so long without a family, Nine and Twelve somewhat gave off the idea that they vied for attention with those bombings whereas with Psycho-Pass there is this undesirable effect of completely removing a key solution [Akane] to solving Kamui’s deep-ridden issues of feeling left behind.  He could have just manipulated Akane into using her own dominator in question Sibyl instead of killing off tons of people including civilians, inspectors and enforcers.  He had used Shusui to a pretty good effect in this series but it was this ending that resulted in his downfall as she was apprehended quite easily by Ginoza.  It’s too bad that we could not have seen her character switched with Akane’s, as being a strong-willed person and abruptly captured would have provided some very interesting scenes with the new and old cast.

Overall he is a loosely-cultivated character that doesn’t fit into this cyberpunk world which works in the matter of not being noticed by Sibyl for the sake of enriching the story but in terms of keeping on cue of the other characters and this series themes it doesn’t work one bit.  It’s at fault by the writers in creating a stronger effect with him.  What takes the cake here is solely due to Togane’s poorly scripted emotional scenes about his mother dying, the truth behind Sibyl and his own lack of empathy for the Safety Bureau Inspectors that were trying to uphold a truer sense of justice.

Shimotsuki however did get the backbone to finish off Togane and it’s about time!  After all the hell she was put through in the previous episodes it was good to see her have a courageous moment of doubt on Sibyl’s part.  However it’s a shame it took eleven episodes even do this monumental part into her own character.

There were two parts of this I actually did like and that’s where Akane’s color has remained the same and the other being that music composer Yuugo Kanno chose to use the beautiful score from the end of the first season to close off this season and remind us as horrible as this season was that we are watching a series based on a dystopian future that is revolving around Sibyl a system that leaves a question to the viewer throughout:  What is it exactly that makes us human?

Please, Production I.G. redeem yourself of the mess that this was with the feature film in January!  I look forward to seeing the animation better than what your sub-par animation studio Tatsunoko Productions managed to create with this season!

Also what was that animation on Togane’s complete meltdown, that had to be one of the worst character drawn scenes I have ever seen.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 5/10

Space Dandy [Seasons 1 and 2] [99/100]

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Episode **: I Can’t Write a Review with Stale Words, Baby

Instead of talking about just the 2nd half or rather Season 2 I thought it’d be better to discuss this in its entirety: Episodes 1 through 26, we are finally at the end [for now] one that has been a stupendous ride.  Now this is an anime that takes risks, one that says screw it with conventions; it is a series that takes a concept only to reintroduce it in an entirely obscure way!  This sci-fi adventure comedy is absolutely perfect, and if I had to nitpick something it would be that we did not get enough scenes of the Boobies restaurants or even more of Admiral Perry.  Aside from that, Space Dandy has a been monumental anime series in the genre of space opera.

Wacky, fun, weird, and downright hilarious narratives that Dandy is thrown into with tales of an alien hunter and his companions.  This series very much could have ended on episode 14 as it returned the world to a somewhat rightful place but there was a catch–  an entirely different kind of Dandy and crew!  A show that always seems to create loose ends yet explain them in future episodes.

Space Dandy is a visual feast and the stories were so eclectic– Dandy decides to become a racer, catch a big fish, sing in a high-school built on musicals, gets captured by giant talking plants, meets aliens that have no reflection only to fall in love with a woman who is the essence of a planet, joins a rock group with the leader of the Jaicro Empire, travels through a 2-dimensional world and fought off a giant omnivorous booby monster.   It took on tons of challenges by being varied, where its content was boundless in the people on screen, and animation designs it took ideas and ran with them with just about every episode delivering amazing results!

Shinichiro Watanabe [General Director] oversees the project with various animators, episode directors, scenario writers and musical artists:  what a clever idea!  So many influences that tackle each story in creating an overwhelming universal science fiction comedy series.  There were a ton of big names in the industry working on this huge project that Watanabe wanted to tell.

Masaaki Yuasa one of my favorite directors in the business helmed Episode 16 that tells the story of a talking carp and his hardships to get back home with the help of Dandy and his misfit companions!  This was one of the most unusual tales of Dandy that we had as it shifted the world that Shingo Natsume [Director] and Watanabe built up with a dose of Yuasa’s perspective and storytelling.  As hilarious as these episodes have been, one that definitely stands out is the rock and roll adventure that Dandy experiences with his galactic buddy Johnny.  Every idea of starting a rock band would’ve have been thrown in, and Sayo Yamamoto wrote a powerful piece about how much music can sway human emotions even!

One of the more surprising directors of the 2nd half had to be Yasuhiro Nakura:  this is where Dandy experiences an other-worldy dimension caught up between life and death and needs to get out of the planet Limbo!  Nakura is not only a director but an animator as well, as he was the one who drew the characters for Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis. A fantastic cyberpunk drama film about self-discovery and corruption and with an episode of Space Dandy about the contemplation of death it was nice to have a long-time director of this caliber put to good use in this.  We also had some extremely talented animators on this episode as well–  Kazumi Inadome of UN-GO’s character designs and Chikashi Kubota of Shikabane Hime on top of the original character designer of the show Yoshiyuki Ito.  Incredible stuff!  These were just a few of the staff members behind the production of Space Dandy, but one aspect I’ve neglected to mention more notably in my previous posts are the composers that bring these tales to life!

After reading quite a few staff interviews and anime panel discussions Watanabe and his team sought out a lot of people for this project that some even turned down: one of them being Hideaki Anno [director of Neon Genesis Evangelion].  It’s a shame really, because he could have given us a wildly produced philosophical turn to the many worlds of Dandy.

Without ado I want to talk about the style of music that the creators chose for this.  KenKen and Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro provided a lot of the jazz scores incorporated into Space Dandy, I can definitely see an influence by Yoko Kanno as she has worked with Watanabe on numerous works including Zankyou no Terror and Sakamichi no Apollon.  Mabanua wrote some pieces to Sakamichi no Apollon and there is one track especially that I can hear sounds reminiscent of the late Nujabes [musical composer of Samurai Champloo] with their musical style!

LUVRAW&BTB provided one of the best songs out of the entire season with I’m Losing You [featured in Episode 23].  Without the use of these amazing artists and many more I felt that Space Dandy would not have been as energetically meaningful as it was:  episodes that immersed you into the varied inhabitants of oddly designed planets that tied together in developing fantastic space adventures.

There are a few other shows I can think of that had a similar effect on me:  MushishiCowboy BebopSamurai ChamplooTrigun and Master Keaton.  Obviously, as you can tell some of the works listed here are Watanabe projects as he has this creative vision at delivering such entertaining series that push the limits outside of the box.  Take the traditional anime of today, shows like Ben-To, Highschool DxD, Nisekoi, heck even Free! might look really good in terms of animation but lack substance.  Fan-service that most of the time will overwhelm a story with struggling characters that are often change emotionally for the sake of the plot resulting in sometimes weak endings.  I’m actually rather disappointed in the state of the anime industry, but every season we get a few gems and Space Dandy is one of them.

I would highly recommend a first-time watcher of Japanese anime to this series, that is if you can handle the occasional perverse tongue in cheek humor.  Space Dandy has single-handedly toppled all of Watanabe’s previous works! [even Zankyou no Terror] Week after week this anime series just worked flawlessly–  it made me laugh, cry, and rooting for Dandy and his friends whether their decisions were in the right or not!

It ranks as my #1 best anime series of all time beating Cowboy Bebop by a hair. A spiritual successor to a very fundamental show that generated a success in gathering new fans worldwide.  This has been a wonderful sci-fi series that includes many Bebop homages from Dr. Gel looking like Jet, the bird in the final episode, the fridge that has shown up numerous times,  Dandy’s line in the Lovers are Trendy episode where he says bang.  I’m sure there are some that I’ve missed out on as there had been tons of other references as well including: Eureka Seven, Hagane no Renkinjitsushi, Google, Chuck Norris, and the reveal of Admiral Perry.

Dandy acquires a large amount of pionium and episode after episode they seem to foreshadow the fact that he’s split himself up into different universes and timelines.  Never would have thought that this show would have utilized the multiverse theory in such detail like it did in subtle fashion adding elements of the real heart of this story inside of all these random episodes where Dandy turns into a zombie, dies numerous times either from getting blown up, being replaced by another version of himself, dancing until the world explodes, and turning down god for boobies.

Which moves to my next point as to why this show is so clever it has unbelievable dialogue.  It’s great that many viewers have been given the chance to see this show [that is the first of its kind I might add] to premiere a show in English prior to its Japanese airing.  There are quite a few lines throughout that remain subtitled in English, as they are kept intact in a native tongue in order to express the level of realism that this show has captured with its diverse worlds and creative aliens.  Nonetheless, one part of this show that is much more humorous than the Japanese is how well the English is came through in Dandy and the large cast he encountered on his various adventures.  Having learned from the downfall that Cowboy Bebop had in its initial broadcast run back in 1997, it feels as though Shinichiro Watanabe devoted this animated work to the Western fans of anime.

With a wide range of voice actors, episode directors and animators  Space Dandy was able to pay homage to many science fiction films and novels of the past.  Without a doubt this was the best anime of the year and one series that should not be missed, that is to say that this is as Dandy as any show can get!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 99/100

If you like this you might also enjoy:

–  Cowboy Bebop

–  Outlaw Star

– Space Adventure Cobra

Barakamon [78/100]

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From the director of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0.Hack//Quantum—  Masaki Tachibana started out as a storyboard artist for popular series like Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex and Noir, and even Bee Train’s Wild Arms Twilight Venom series.  I’d say though his two best works was on Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 and Serei no Moribito.  This guy has grown quite a bit from his previous works in that now he’s been able to adapt a decent and well-written comedy manga about a calligrapher.  My initial impression of this show was that i’d be how Moyashimon took the elements of an agricultural university and channel it as educational.  I was dead wrong on this:  this was a lot more than that.

As for Kenji Kawai, the music composer of Barakamon, this had to be one of his least favorites out of his repertoire.  He loves using passionate sounding stringed instruments synthesized horns and keyboards that often times in this show leave a less than powerful impression on a lot of the dramatic scenes.  This guy should stick with sci-fi, action and adventure shows to compose to.  Higashi no Eden, Serei no Moribito and the original 2005 Fate/Stay Night TV series had awesome soundtracks for the kinds of anime they were, but for Barakamon‘s realistic portrayal of life on an island it was lacking in every regard.

Here we’ve got this washed-out calligrapher named Seishu Handa whom ends up being sent off to the Goto Islands by his father to reinvent his work.  The first few episodes were very light-hearted as it gives this view of village life with its wildly-driven people.  If there was one aspect of this show I did not like it was how much it neglected the process of calligraphy and what it takes to become one, this show seemed to have sidelined the details in that.  As a comedy show however, this was for the most part very funny.  Naru provides this authenticity of innocence, and wild naivety that pushes the envelope most of the time for Seishu in evolving into more of an adult.  He’s slowly earning a respect from a child nonetheless that he was never given by any adult as a respectable calligrapher: and throughout these episodes this theme greatly reflects this.

A wildy entertaining series as it progresses, with portions of the episodes laid out in halves between catching fish, finding bugs, painting on a boat which in turn ultimately develops and builds Seishu’s greatest work by the end of it all.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 78/100

If you like this you will also enjoy:

– Usagi Drop

– Nagasarete Airantou

– Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou