Category Archives: Top 10

Top 10 Best Original Video Animations (OVA’s or OAV’s)

I am at my 500th post!  Ever since I began this blog I haven’t really spent time on discussing original video animations, more popularly known as OVAs.  These are episodes produced exclusively for home video releases.  Often times a broadcaster will air these on television months or sometimes years later.  They often are marked as special episodes–adding something extra to a full-fledged TV series and sometimes we see brand news works originating out of OVAs. In 2008, the term OAD caught on–Original Animation DVD where typically these are bundled with source-material manga. (An example are the Attack on Titan OADs) Also, OVA episodes usually have a higher budget than TV series because they don’t have to follow a stringent schedule or timeblock deadlines. There is also no required length these episodes need to be.

What makes this list are OVAs that were tightly directed, a unique and/or beautiful style in animation, storytelling, music and characterization. If you’ve read my previous Top 10 then you’ll notice it’s in the same format as before.  Without further ado here is the list.



[From Young Animator’s Training Project 2012]

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This story involves the shopkeeper Suzuri of Kokumondou who sells historic books and Mizuki, granddaughter of the land owner. When Mizuki releases a somewhat cute young spider demon out of a sealed book, the pair investigate the origins behind it.

Animation Production: Production I.G. ( PSYCHO-PASSGhost in the ShellBlood+Blood-CBlood the Last VampireReal DriveReideenJoker GameSarusuberi: Miss HokusaiGiovanni’s IslandHaikyuu!!Guilty CrownLoups=GarousHigashi no EdenxxxHolic series and OVAs, FLCLThe Heroic Legend of Arslan 1991 film, Mobile Police Patlabor 1988 OVA and 1989 Film 1, Kill Bill Vol. 1 Animation Sequence, Otogi ZoshiWindy TalesGhost HoundTokyo Marble Chocolate OVA)

Director: Kaiya Toshihisa ( Key Animator on Naruto episodes 42, 44, 48, 56, 64, 68 and 92 / Key Animator on Robotics;Notes Second Opening Sequence / Animation Supervisor on Haikyuu!!‘s First and Second Opening Seqences and Second Ending Sequence / Character Designer on World Trigger)

Sceenplay: Daishiro Tanimura ( Series Composition on Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san / Script on Kuroko no Basuke episodes 11, 15 and 19 / Script on Suisei no Gargantia episodes 2, 5, 7, 10 and 12 / Script on Sakura Trick episodes 2, 4, 6 and 12)

Original Concept: Kaiya Toshihisa

Character Designer: Hideki Takahashi ( Key Animator on Summer Wars / Key Animator on Bleach Movie 4: Jigoku-hen / Key Animator on Toki o Kakeru Shoujo / Key Animator on PSYCHO-PASS 2 Second Opening Sequence / Key Animator on Shingeki no Kyojin‘s Second Opening Sequence / Animation Supervisor on Robotics;Notes‘ First and Second Opening and Ending Sequences / Key Animator on Neon Genesis Evangelion episode 7 / Key Animator on BLEACH episode 341)

Music: Yasuo Sugibayashi ( Music Composer on Tansuwarashi / Composer, Singer and Guitarist for the band Qujila)

Out of the four Young Animator Training Projects from 2012 (today this is known as Anime Mirai) this was the best. Ojii-san no Lamp utilized the best kind of narrative but after seeing this I can honestly say that this OVA contained a top notch in story, animation, characters and music.  The whole reason for the Animator Training Project is to allow for an animation studio’s newest talent to shine.  With that said, Production I.G. has amazing animators;  keep in mind that this animation was produced in 2012!  In the early 90’s well into the 2000’s, Production I.G. was known for creating original projects that maintained a consistent style in animation and storytelling.  While working on adapted animated works to keep a budget flowing within their office and to their staff.  Why couldn’t I.G.’s financing director give tips to Manglobe?  Because this studio knows what its doing.  Developing Higashi no Eden, Real Drive and the guts they had with Blood-C. Wasurenagumo is highly detailed–the fluidity of the animation is so amazing you might think this OVA was actually a film.  Seems that the Japanese Government funding this certainly paid off!  What really stood out for me was the art direction–it’s very dark but uses hues of light colors to accent the characters.

Then there are the well-cast of characters in this who are absolutely amazing and some of the best acting out of an OVA I’ve seen from the Mirai Project!  Suzuri and his assistant find themselves in a situation quite out of the ordinary–meeting a spider in the form of a girl.  In traditional Japanese folklore, there is a creature called the Jurogumo which has the body of a spider and the torso of a beautiful woman. The Jurogumo will attract men looking for love, only to quickly devour them after mating just like a real spider.  Lures men to their doom is very similar to the Siren from Greek mythology.  Throughout this OVA we are led to believe that this is a comedy–visually we are given a girl straight out of a moe series and to top it off the character designs look similar to a P.A. Works title.  The ending is mind blowing and totally not what I had expected.  Came out of left-field and makes me wonder why they couldn’t make more of this.  This would be a pretty decent series if it was even adapted for 1-cour.




[7 episodes in total]

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Animation Production: Sunrise ( Cowboy BebopSpace Battleship Yamato (1975), Cyborg 009 (1979), Space Runaway IdeonCode GeassGintamaInuyashaLove Live! School Idol ProjectKakumeiki ValvraveMobile Suit GundamTenkuu no EscaflowneThe Big OKing of ThornsCity HunterTiger & BunnyGasarakiRanma 1/2Norageki!KurokamiSarusuberi: Miss HokusaiKoi SentoPlanetes)

Director: Shuhei Morita ( CGI Director on Gatchaman Crowds / Storyboard on Valvrave the Liberator episode 5 / Director on Tokyo Ghoul and Tokyo Ghoul A / Director and Script on Coicent / Director, Storyboard, Producer, CG and Editing on Kakurenbo: Hide and Seek / Director and Screenplay on Possessions)


  • Dai Sato ( Script on Samurai Champloo episodes 5, 8, 9, 18 and 22 / Script on Space Dandy episodes 2, 6, 13 and 25 / Sript on Cowboy Bebop episodes 9, 14 and 23 / Script on Higashi no Eden (Eden of the East) episodes 3 and 8 / Screenplay on Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Individual Eleven OAV and The Laughing Man OAV / Sript on Lupin III: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna / Script on Toward the Terra episodes 12, 16 and 17)
  • Katsuhiko Chiba ( Series Composition and Script on Baby Steps / Script on Black Jack: The Two Doctors of Darkness / Script on Inuyasha / Script on Outlaw Star episodes 1-8, 10-13, 17, 21, 23-26 / Series Composition on Rune Soldier / Script on Mobile Suit Gundam Wing)

Original Concept: Katsuhiro Otomo

Character Designers: 

  • Atsushi Irie ( Key Animator on Coicent / Animation Director on Comet Lucifer episodes 7 and 12 / Character Designer, Animation Director and Key Animator on Steamboy / Key Animator on Tekkonkinkreet / In-Between Animator on Grave of the Fireflies / Animation Director Noein episode 17 / Key Animator on Tokyo Ravens‘ Opening Sequence)

Music: Yoshihiro Ike ( Music Composer on Blood the Last VampireErgo ProxyShisha no Teikoku: Empire of CorpsesHarmonyNoblesse AwakeningShingeki no Bahamut: GenesisKarasTiger & BunnyTelepathy Shojo Ran)

FREEDOM Project was a Japanese promotional work created by Nissin Cup Noodles under the direct supervision of famed Akira director and creator Katsuhiro Otomo.  This is actually one of the few anime (at the time) to be rendered in 3D cell-shaded CG. This style isn’t for everyone–if you have seen Ajin or Sidonia no Kishi then I would highly recommend checking this OVA series out.  It’s around 7 episodes total about kids discovering the Earth wasn’t destroyed after all, their journey to fight against the very society bound by lies, and their journey to meet a girl in the photo that starts this sci-fi story!  This is an over glorified view of teens off on an adventure.  FREEDOM is a solid representation of what the shounen genre is–teens being idiotic.  Typically we see characters doing stupid things for the sake of dramatic effect–I don’t see that with this OVA series because we never really get that feeling here.  Takeru and his friend Biz act amazed at witnessing a world they believed was erased from existence this show time and time again plays with that very well–especially when these two interact with other world human characters!  I also like how subdued the romance is in this with the final episode however I do have my gripes that this couldn’t be longer with a couple more episodes.  Kazuma’s fight with Takeru is rushed and the main leader of Eden is barely touched on.  Considering these points it is good to see a show so entertaining that builds its characters up nicely on a straightforward path.


Kigeki [Comedy]

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Animation Production: 

  • Production I.G. ( PSYCHO-PASSGhost in the ShellBlood+Blood-CBlood the Last VampireReal DriveReideenJoker GameSarusuberi: Miss HokusaiGiovanni’s IslandHaikyuu!!Guilty CrownLoups=GarousHigashi no EdenxxxHolic series and OVAs, FLCLThe Heroic Legend of Arslan 1991 film, Mobile Police Patlabor 1988 OVA and 1989 Film 1, Kill Bill Vol. 1 Animation Sequence, Otogi ZoshiWindy TalesGhost HoundTokyo Marble Chocolate OVA)
  • Studio 4C ( Beyond OAV, Amazing Nuts! OAV, Baby Blue [from Genius Party Collection], Berserk: The Golden Age Arc Films, Deathtic 4, Detective Story [from the Animatrix Collection], Eikyuu KazokuHigan OAVKid’s Story OAVMahou ShoujotaiMoondriveShanghai DragonSprigganTekkonkinkreetThundercats 2011Transformers: Animated U.S. VersionUrarochi DiamondTojin Kit [from the Genius Party Collection])

Director: Kazuto Nakazawa ( Director on Blood+‘s Second Opening Sequence / Character Designer on DAYS / Key Animator on Death Parade‘s Opening Sequence / Character Designer on El Hazard / Character Designer and Chief Animation Director on Hells film / Key Animator on Ergo Proxy‘s Opening Sequence / Character Designer, Chief Animation Director on Sarai-ya Goyo (House of Five Leaves) / Storyboard, Animation Director and Key Animator on Sakamichi no Apollon’s (Kids on the Slope) Opening Sequence / Director and Script on Parasite Dolls OAV / Character Designer, Chief Animation Director on Samurai Champloo / Character Designer, Chief Animation Director on Zankyou no Terror (Terror in Tokyo) / Director, Chief Animation Director, Key Animator on Vassalord OVA)

Sceenplay: Kazuto Nakazawa

Original Work: Rika Hataketa

Character Designer: Kazuto Nakazawa

Music: Franz Peter Schubert’s “Ave Maria”

Anyone that reads my blog and that read my Blog Challenge post would know why this is in my Top 10 Best OVAs.  Kigeki is one short is a series of five Studio 4C produced animations as a direct-to-DVD film entitled Deep Imagination. Amazing voice acting, incredible visuals including that beautifully fluid fight sequence and features Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria. It’s been noted that this OVA was inspired from Schubert’s piece Erikonig. Not many series take place in Ireland. Actually I can’t think of any right now.  It’s great to see Japanese creators shifting away from their homeland to write stories in other countries. Michiko e Hatchin took place in Brazil. Bacanno! was set in the U.S. during the 1930’s. There are also a few series that utilize a European setting–GosickIkoku Meiro no CroiseeLe Chevalier D’EonNoir and most notably Rose of Versailles.  Nice breakaway from the norm.

 Taking place during the Irish War of Independence, Kigeki situates its story when a five-year old girl goes on a journey to recruit the infamous Black Swordsman.  The gothic presentation and eerie background designs capture this feeling that the anime is gradually coming alive as you watch it!  Every scene flows naturally and by the end makes you wanting more!  I wish that Studio 4C could have turned this story into a series because this was beautifully dark! A story set in fairy-tale fashion combined with a grim and supernatural presence.


Hellsing Ultimate

[10 episodes + Hellsing: The Dawn 3 Episode Arc OVAs]

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Animation Production: Studio MADHOUSE ( BECK: Mongolian Chop SquadBoogiepop PhantomAoi BungakuBarefoot GenBlack LagoonBio HunterCasshern SINSCardcaptor SakuraChobitsChihayafuruGungraveThe Girl Who Leapt Through TimeHajime no IppoHellsing Ultimate, Highschool of the DeadHunter x Hunter 2011KaibaKurozukaDenno CoilLast Order: Final Fantasy VIIDeath NoteDeath ParadeNeo TokyoNinja ScrollParadise KissParanoia AgentKiseijuuRecord of Lodoss WarPaprikaPrince of Stride: AlternativeMonster, Moryo no HakoSummer WarsThe Tatami GalaxyTokyo GodfathersTrigunWicked CityDemon City ShinjukuXWolf Children)


  • Tomokazu Tokoro [Episodes 1 – 4] ( Key Animator on AD Police episode 3 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Accel World episodes 13 and 20 / Key Animator on Black Magic M-66 / Key Animator on Armitage III / Episode Director and Key Animator on Chihayafuru episode 4 / Storyboard and Art Design on Hikaru no Go episodes 9, 13 and 21 / Key Animator on Serial Experiments Lain‘s Opening Sequence / Animation Director on Tekkaman Blade episode 45 / Storyboard on Texhnolyze episode 9)
  • Hiroyuki Tanaka [Episodes 5-7, 9 and 10] ( Episode Director Cooperation on BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad episodes 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26 / Director and Storyboard on Claymore / Producer at AVEX Entertainment / Episode Director on Kemonozume episode 4 / Assistant Director on Shisha no Teikoku: Empire of Corpses / CG Artist on Memories / Assistant Unit Director on Ninja Scroll film / Storyboard and Episode Director on Ninja Scroll episode 9 / Assistant Director on X the movie / Episode Director and Storyboard on Guilty Crown episodes 2 and 10)
  • Yasuhiro Matsumura [Episode 8] ( Series Director on The Adventures of Mini-Goddess / Episode Director and Key Animator on Aldnoah.Zero episodes 6 and 16 / Episode Director on Legend of the Galactic Heroes OAV / Episode Director on Master Keaton episode 29 / Storyboard on Noein episode 3 / Director on Papillon Rose / Director on Landlock OAV)


  • Yousuke Kuroda ( Script on Battle Athletes Victory / Series Composition, Scenario and Ending Theme Song Lyrics on Best Student Council / Script on Drifters / Script on Excel Saga / Script on Honey and Clover / Series Composition and Script on Jormungand / Scenario on Love Hina episode 14 / Series Composition on Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia) / Series Composition on Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom / Series Composition on Trigun / Screenplay on Ano Natsu de Matteru)
  • Hideyuki Kurata ( Series Composition and Screenplay on Android Ana Maico 2010 / Screenplay on Galilei Donna / Script on GunXSword / Series Composition on Oreimo / Story and Original Creator on R.O.D. Read or Die / Series Composition on Samurai Flamenco / Series Composition on The World God Only Knows)

Original Work: Kouta Hirano ( Creator on the following manga works: Coyote – Hangyaku no Resistance, Drifters, Hi Tension, Ikaryaku, Susume!! Seigaku Denno Kenkyubu)

Character Designer: Ryoji Nakamori ( Key Animator and Lead Animation Designer on BLEACH / Character Designer and Chief Animation Director on Drifters / Key Animator on Saber Marionette J episode 20 / In-Between Animator on New Dominion Tank Police / Key Animator on Akatsuki no Yona (Yona of the Dawn))

Music: Hayato Matsuo ( Music Composer for the following works: Captain Kuppa, Haunted Junction, Drifters, Magic Knight Rayearth, Les Miserables- Shojo Cosette, Transformers: Armada, The World God Only Knows)

The original Hellsing is very different to the OVAs.  Everything from story to music down to its cast of wildly ambitious characters.  The question is which one to watch? Hellsing pales in comparison to the Ultimate series. OVAs have a huge advantage to TV broadcast series and that is they don’t have to follow much of a broadcasting schedule, editing for television and ensure a demographic is met per episode.  With OVAs they can take as much time as the committee allows which is a large reason why every episode in Hellsing Ultimate is beautifully animated. Not to mention why many of these were delayed for a year to 6 months at a time.  MADHOUSE repeatedly gives us an amazing looking series and Hellsing Ultimate is no different.  Alucard is a vampire that fights ghouls and demons.  His maniacal presence is highly entertaining to watch!   Working alongside the police-girl-turned-vampire, Seras Victoria.  She’s one of the few characters that has a slight human aura to her.  While Alucard is the trademark protagonist of Hellsing Ultimate it’s Seras that is the real lead. Her transformative process that we see throughout this series from human to vampire is compelling (and sometimes grueling to see) is the real heart of this show.  There isn’t a single character in this that’s boring.  Everyone has their odd quirks and are extremely colorful. Even its villains! A good balance that features a gruesome presentation and a dark setting.  It also contains a silliness to its gore that can be off-putting to some viewers at times. So if you can’t handle cannibalism or extreme violence do not watch this one.


The Cockpit

[3 episodes in total]

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Animation Production: Studio MADHOUSE ( BECK: Mongolian Chop SquadBoogiepop PhantomAoi BungakuBarefoot GenBlack LagoonBio HunterCasshern SINSCardcaptor SakuraChobitsChihayafuruGungraveThe Girl Who Leapt Through TimeHajime no IppoHellsing Ultimate, Highschool of the DeadHunter x Hunter 2011KaibaKurozukaDenno CoilLast Order: Final Fantasy VIIDeath NoteDeath ParadeNeo TokyoNinja ScrollParadise KissParanoia AgentKiseijuuRecord of Lodoss WarPaprikaPrince of Stride: AlternativeMonster, Moryo no HakoSummer WarsThe Tatami GalaxyTokyo GodfathersTrigunWicked CityDemon City ShinjukuXWolf Children)


  • Yoshiaki Kawajiri [Episode 1] ( Key Animation on Barefoot Gen films 1 and 2 / Script, Key Animator and Supervisor on Biohunter / Key Animator on Black Jack Final episode 2 / Storyboard on Chihayafuru‘s First Ending Sequence / Director and Character Designer on Demon City Shinjuku / Animator on Gatchaman episode 10 / Key Animator on Dino Mech Gaiking‘s Opening Sequence / Director on Goku: Midnight Eye OAV’s 1 and 2 / Director, Storyboard, Character Designer and Key Animator on Lensman film / Script and Storyboard on Master Keaton episode 34 / Key Animator and Layout Design on Metropolis film / Director, Screenplay, Original Creator, Original Character Designer and Key Animator on Ninja Scroll film / Storyboard on One-Punch Man episodes 8, 9, 10 and 11 / Storyboard on Pet Shop of Horrors episode 3 / Director, Screenplay, Character Designer and Animation Director on Running Man film / Storyboard on Rokka no Yusha episode 12 / Director, Character Designer and Animation Director on Wicked City film / Director, Script and Storyboard on X TV Series and film)
  • Takashi Imanishi Episode 2] ( Director on Aoki Ryusei SPT Layzner‘s Opening Sequence / Director on Afro Ken OAV / Director on Armored Trooper Votoms: The Heretic Saint OAV / Director on Gundam Evolve OVA / Setting Production on Panzer World Galient / Director and Screeplay on Violinist of Hamelin film)
  • Ryousuke Takahashi [Episode 3] ( Episode Director on Animal 1 / Series Composition and Original Creator on Armored Trooper Votoms / Director and Original Creator on Gasaraki / Episode Director on Moomin / Chief Director on Ozma / Director on Phoenix / Production Assistant and Title Designer on Samurai 7)


  • Yoshiaki Kawajiri [ Episode 1]
  • Takashi Waguri [ Episode 2]
  • Ryousuke Takahashi [ Episode 3]

Original Manga: Leiji Matsumoto ( Original Creator of the following works: Captain Harlock
, Galaxy Express 999, Ginga Tetsudo 999, Gun Frontier, Harlock Saga, Interstella 5555 / The Galaxy Railways, Maetel LEgend, Marine Snow no Densetsu, Ozma, Planet Robot Danguard Ace, Queen Emeraldas, Slipstream, Space Battleship Yamato, Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Star Blazers)

Character Designers:

  • Yoshiaki Kawajiri [Episode 1]
  • Toshihiro Kawamoto [Episode 2] ( Key Animator on Blood: The Last Vampire / Key Animator on City Hunter: Bay City Wars / Character Designer, Chief Animation Director on Cowboy Bebop / In-Between Animator on Dirty Pair / Assistant Chief Animator on Escaflowne: The Movie / Key Animator on FullMetal Alchemist: BROTHERHOOD‘s First Opening Sequence / Character Designer on Ghost Slayers Ayashi)
  • Yoshinobu Saito [Episode 3]


  • Masahiro Kawasaki [Episode 1] ( Music Composer for the following works: Ashita Genki ni Nare! ~Hanbun no Satsumaimo~ film, Gegege no Kitaro, Himitsu no Akko-chan Season 3, Mischievous Twins, Neighborhood Story, Slipstream OAV, Street Fighter II V, Tenjohen – Utsunomiko film)
  • Akira Inoue [Episode 2] ( Music Composer for the following works: Harlock Saga‘s Ending Song, Lensman film, Lily C.A.T. OAV, Sonic Boom Squadron, Super Dimensional Fortress Macross II: The Movie)
  • Kaoru Wada [Episode 3] ( Music Composer for the following works: D.Gray-man, D.Gray-man Hallow, Fencer of Minerva OAV, 3×3 Eyes OAV, Ace Attorney, Gilgamesh, Ghost Stories, Hakaba Kitaro, Inuyasha, Ninja Scroll film, Princess Tutu, Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight, Samurai 7, Silent Mobius, Strange Dawn, Tekkaman Blade, To Heart)

Leiji Matsumoto is one of the most well-known creators in Japan.  HIs popularity stems from the success of Galaxy Express 999 and Captain Harlock.  Most of his stories are told in the vast reaches of space–suitably named “space opera” anime.  Characters that hold a sense of justice and are always fighting someone or something.  What makes Cockpit truly special is that it doesn’t have anything to do with pirates, space or aliens.  A 3 episode OVA series that have entirely original stories focused on World War II. This wouldn’t be a Matsumoto work without a feeling of drama and his style is very opera-esque.  All three of these episodes were done by entirely different directors.  The first one by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, you might know his work from Birdy the Mighty and the original Ninja Scroll film.  Focusing on a German pilot, Erhart von Leinders and his mission to use the atomic bomb.  Kawajiri follows the Matsumoto trend and focuses much of this episode’s time on emotional conflict–should a weapon of mass destruction like this be used?

The second one is from Gundam animator Takashi Imaishi.  This was the heartbreaking story of the three.  It’s about kamikaze pilots and their sense of duty and pride for their country.  By the end of this episode, alludes to the idea that this was a senseless act.  The visuals matched perfectly to the music.  There is one point where a pilot is screaming and then the next shot his plane is completely engulfed in flames without ever dramatizing it like the previous episode does in Matsumoto fashion.

Then there is my least favorite out of the three. This is because this story focuses on being funny rather than serious like the previous OVAs had been.  A bond between a war veteran and a rookie in the first five minutes sounds promising but doesn’t engage you as the first two do!

The Cockpit is a part of this list because it steers away from a glorified Japan.  Depicting the brutality of World War II and how the Japanese fought during it.


Eikyuu Kazoku

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Animation Production: Studio 4°C ( Beyond OAV, Amazing Nuts! OAV, Baby Blue [from Genius Party Collection], Berserk: The Golden Age Arc Films, Deathtic 4, Detective Story [from the Animatrix Collection], Eikyuu Kazoku, Higan OAVKid’s Story OAV, Mahou ShoujotaiMoondriveShanghai DragonSprigganTekkonkinkreetThundercats 2011Transformers: Animated U.S. VersionUrarochi DiamondTojin Kit [from the Genius Party Collection])

Director: Koji Morimoto ( Assistant Chief Animator on Akira film / Director and Character Designer on Ai Monogatari OAV “Hero” / Key Animator on City Hunter‘s Opening Sequence / Director on Connected OVA / Director, Storyboard, Character Designer and Animation Director on Genius Party Collection‘s “Dimension Bomb” / Director on Four Day Weekend OAV / Lead Animator on Concert Scene from Macross Plus Movie Edition / Animator on Short Peace‘s Opening Segment / Storyboard on Tekkonkinkreet film / Key Animator on Genius Party‘s “Tojin Kit“)


  • Dai Sato ( Script on Samurai Champloo episodes 5, 8, 9, 18 and 22 / Script on Space Dandy episodes 2, 6, 13 and 25 / Sript on Cowboy Bebop episodes 9, 14 and 23 / Script on Higashi no Eden (Eden of the East) episodes 3 and 8 / Screenplay on Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Individual Eleven OAV and The Laughing Man OAV / Sript on Lupin III: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna / Script on Toward the Terra episodes 12, 16 and 17)
  • Koji Morimoto

Original Concept: Koji Morimoto

Character Designers: 

  • Koji Morimoto

Music: Chito Kawachi ( Music Composer for the following works: Ranpou, Wonderful Adventures of Nils)

The mid 90’s certainly were a time for Studio 4C.  Working on animation sequences from Akira to Masaaki Yuasa’s Mind Game film and the latest entry into the Project Itoh film trilogy, Harmony. You can read my review on that film here. The studio has established themselves outside the realm of normal Japanese Animation Studios by enriching their works with odd stories and wild animation techniques.  They’re a different breed of Japanese anime in that many of their works stray from traditional animation.  Eikyuu Kazoku reminds me of how they handled Tekkonkinkreet visual style Overall, Eikyuu Kazoku is as strange as they come.  If you like messy art then you will certainly end up enjoying Kazoku.  Heck, even fans of Ping Pong The Animation or Kaiba–both of which are Masaaki Yuasa-directed series will pull you into this bizarre OVA.

Eikyuu Kazoku‘s literal English translation is Eternal Family.   And an odd family they are.  In fact they aren’t even a biological family at all! The story is that they’ve been brainwashed to believe they are.  So much creativity spread across the board with this!  A baby running around with scissors, a pyromaniac daughter, another son that loves guns and one of the weirdest members of the family is the other daughter that has a puppet speak for her.  It’s as if I was watching a full series focused on Satoshi Kon’s Tokyo Godfather‘s homeless cast told in vignettes.  The pacing in this is quick and highly energetic.  A fantastic OVA!



[6 episodes in total]

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Animation Production: 

  • GAINAX (Abenobashi: Magical Shopping Arcade, Shikabane Hime, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Nadia: The Secret of the Blue Water, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, Medaka Box, Magica Wars, Wish Upon the Pleiades, Melody of Oblivion, Mahoromatic, His and Her Circumstances, He is My Master, This Ugly Yet Beautiful World, Dantalian no Shoka)
  • Production I.G. (PSYCHO-PASSGhost in the ShellBlood+Blood-CBlood the Last VampireReal DriveReideenJoker GameSarusuberi: Miss HokusaiGiovanni’s IslandHaikyuu!!Guilty CrownLoups=GarousHigashi no EdenxxxHolic series and OVAs, FLCLThe Heroic Legend of Arslan 1991 film, Mobile Police Patlabor 1988 OVA and 1989 Film 1, Kill Bill Vol. 1 Animation Sequence, Otogi ZoshiWindy TalesGhost HoundTokyo Marble Chocolate OVA)

Series Director:  Kazuya Tsurumaki (Episode Director on Berserk episode 1 / Storyboard and Unit Director on Captain Earth‘s First Opening Sequence / Storyboard on Shikabane Hime‘s Opening Sequence / Key Animator on Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture / Director and Storyboard on Gunbuster OAV / Storyboard on The Idolmaster episode 4 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Kill la Kill‘s Episode 24 “Epilogue” / Key Animator on Kimagure Orange Road OAV / In-Between Animator on Maison Ikkoku episodes 3 and 9 / Episode Director on Neon Genesis Evangelion episodes 1, 2, 8, 16, 25 and 26 / Unit Director on Neon Genesis Evangelion‘s Opening Sequence / Key Animator on Noir episode 26 / Storbyoard on STAR DRIVER‘s Second Opening Sequence / Key Animator on Shojo Kakumei Utena episode 37)

Script: Yoji Enokido ( Series Composition on Bungo Stray Dogs / Series Composition and Screenplay on Captain Earth / Script on Neon Genesis Evangelion episodes 2, 7, 8 and 11 / Series Composition and Script on Nodame Cantabile: Paris-hen / Series Composition and Script on Ouran High School Host Club / Script on Redline film / Screenplay on RahXephon / Series Composition and Script on Shojo Kakumei Utena / Series Composition and Script on STAR DRIVER)

Original Concept: Kazuya Tsurumaki

Original Character Designer: Yoshiyuki Sadamoto ( Character Designer on Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) live-action films / Character Designer on Girl Who Leapt Through Time film / Character Designer on .hack full series / Character Designer and Animation Director on Nadia Secret of the Blue Water / Character Designer on Neon Genesis Evangelion films and TV series / Character Designer on Robot Carnival OAV’s “A Tale of Two Robots: Chapter Meiji” / Story and Art on Route 20 manga / Character Designer on Summer Wars manga and film / Character Designer on Wolf Children manga and film)

Music: The Pillows

Now here is an OVA series that is strange. How do I even put a label on this OVA series?  Is it a comedy or drama?  Action? Mystery? Supernatural?  How about all of the above. FLCL is a first of its kind when it comes to delivering an exceeding amount of comedic gags.  Actually if it wasn’t for Excel Saga‘s relentless attempts at comedy I probably wouldn’t have liked FLCL as much as I did.  Limitless in its routine structure–both visually and story-wise. The Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt’s and Space Patrol Luluco’s of the early 2000’s.  Speaking of visuals the style utilizes a solid color palette ranging from super brights to dark sublime tonal colors.  Very deceiving for the creators to do this because it leads you to believe that this will be a slice-of-life show about kids and teens.  FLCL is an achievement in animation because it uses its background designs to enrich the character’s actions and emotional states perfectly.  Confusing and conflicted characters that balance one another (especially with Naoto and Haruko) with a payoff that screams spastic delivery.  Naoto suffers from sexual frustration resulting in nosebleeds reminding us that we’re watching a kid discovering there is more to the outside world than just his town.  His bat exemplifies his behavior and the absurd challenges he faces throughout–monsters, aliens, and a woman filled with his adult desires.  This series warrants multiple viewings because of how closely connected each episode layers on literal and metaphorical meanings resulting in a highly energizing and entertaining animated experience!


Patlabor: Early Days

[7 episodes in total]

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Animation Production: Studio DEEN ( Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, Sakamoto desu ga?, Urusei Yatsura, Angel’s Egg, Maison Ikkoku, Ranma 1/2, You’re Under Arrest, Zenki, Ehrgeiz, Eden’s Bowy, Gravitation, Fruits Basket, Read or Die R.O.D., Samurai Deeper Kyo, Rave Master, Law of Ueki, Simoun, Tactics, 07 Ghost, Vampire Knight, Giant Killing, Nurarihyon no Mago, Starry Sky, Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?, Sankarea, Pupa, Sakura Trick, Hybrid Child OVA, Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o!, Super Lovers, Fate/Stay Night (2006), Zipang, Domain of Murder OVA)

Director: Mamoru Oshii ( Original Creator on Blood: The Last Vampire nove, film and manga / Director and Screenplay on Dallos OAV / Director and Storyboard on Ghost in the Shell film and TV series / Director on Sky Crawlers film / Director on Urusei Yatsura / Supervision on Windy Tales / Director on The Wonderful Adventures of Nils both film and TV series)

Script: Kazunori Ito ( Screenplay on Dirty Pair / Screenplay on Maison Ikkoku / Screenplay on Ghost in the Shell film / Screenplay on Avalon / Screenplay and Script on .hack series / Screenplay on Absolute Boy)

Original Concept: Headgear [The group consists of director Mamoru Oshii, writer Kazunori Ito, mecha designer Yutaka Izubuchi, character designer Akemi Takada and manga artist Masami Yuki]

Character Designer: Akemi Takada ( Character Designer on CoCO & NiCO / Character Designer on Fancy Lala / Character Designer on Magical Angel Creamy Mami / Character Designer on Maison Ikkoku / Character Designer and Animation Director on Urusei Yatsura / Created the Capital Police Emblem Design from Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade)

Music: Kenji Kawai (Music Composer for the following works: Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider, Maison Ikkoku, Devilman, Project A-ko, Burn Up!, Ranma 1/2, Blue Seed, Ghost in the Shell film, You’re Under Arrest, Sky Crawlers film, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Higashi no Eden (Eden of the East), Barakamon, Joker Game, Mob Psycho 100, World Trigger, 009:Re:Cyborg film)

The best part about seeing Patlabor is that we get to see some many different sides of Mamoru Oshii’s directing.  A few of these OVA episodes are quite funny.  A little less action [aside from the odd final seventh episode; directed by Naoyuki Yoshinaga] than what you might expect from a mecha series.  Essentially this is a comedy/drama series about pilots’ lives during missions.  Episode one, transitions smoothly from comedy to seriousness in ways that many anime of today can’t pull off in 1-cour!  The OVAs are brilliant because it gives a new viewer a taste of its like-able cast, mecha setting and compelling collection of side-stories that round out the cast wonderfully.  If anything I would recommend watching these first before diving into the 50-episode series.  The main series may be a bit of a daunting task to jump into but with these OVAs it helps you enjoy the regular story a lot more and as to why Patlabor: Early Days makes this list!

[7 episodes in total]


Macross Plus

[4 episodes then re-released in Movie Edition format]

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Animation Production: Triangle Staff (Aoi & Mutsuki: A Pair of Queens, Boogiepop Phantom, Colorful film, Go Nagai World OAV, Magic User’s Club!, NieA_7, Serial Experiments Lain, Space Pirate Mito, St. Luminous Mission High School, Venus Wars film)

Chief Director: Shoji Kawamori ( Director, Series Composition, Screenplay and Original Creator on Aquarion / Mechanical Design on Moretsu Pirates / Original Creator on Basquash! / Conceptual Design on the Nirvash from Eureka Seven / Original Creator of the entirety of Macross / Original Creator and Series Composition on Nobunaga the Fool, Storyboard on Noein episode 20 / Original Creator and Director on Escaflowne)

Director: Shinichiro Watanabe (Director and Creator on Cowboy Bebop / Director on Samurai Champloo / Music Producer on Michiko e Hatchin / Music Director on Mind Game film / Storyboard on Mobile Suit Gundam Wing episode 34 / Director on Cancelled Project T.A.T.u. Paragate / Storyboard on Ergo Proxy episode 19 / Director on Death Parade‘s Ending Sequence / Storyboard on Birdy the Mighty: Decode episode 12 / Director on Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope) / Chief Animation Director on Space Dandy / Director and Storyboard on Zankyou no Terror [Terror in Tokyo], Storyboard and Unit Director on STAR DRIVER‘s First Opening Sequence / Storyboard and Unit Director on Space Dandy‘s Opening Sequence)

Screenplay: Keiko Nobumoto ( Series Composition and Script on Cowboy Bebop / Script on Space Dandy episodes 8, 15, 19 and 22 / Screenplay on Tokyo Godfathers film / Original Creator and Script on Wolf’s Rain)

Original Concept: Shoji Kawamori

Character Designer: Masayuki ( Character Designer and Animation Director on BAOH OAV / Character Designer on Duel Masters / Director on Neon Genesis Evangelion films / Storyboard on Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann episode 15 / Storyboard on Kill la Kill episode 14 / Key Animator on Now and Then, Here and There episode 1 / Storyboard on Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt episode 18 / Key Animator on Project A-Ko film / Director and Key Animator on Re: Cutie Honey OAV Episode 3 / Animation Director on Vampiyan Kids episode 6)

Music: Yoko Kanno (Music Composer for the following works: Cowboy Bebop, Aquarion, Darker Than Black, Escaflowne, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Sakamichi no Apollon [Kids on the Slope], entire Macross franchise, Space Dandy, Zankyou no Terror, Wolf’s Rain)

Incredibly focused.  Really solid voice acting.  Spectacular visuals.  An OVA series turned feature length film with amazing characterization. A tour de force.  The decision to not develop the shallow side-cast heightens many strengths Macross Plus carries throughout its 4 episodes.  Engaging, relatable, and down-to-earth main characters. A grandiose character study between a pilot’s duty and relationships in life.  It is not big surprise why this is so damn good.  The original creator of Macross Shoji Kawamori and Cowboy Bebop director Shinichiro Watanabe collaborated on this!  This was the first time Watanabe got a chance to co-direct an animated project.  It was also the began Yoko Kanno’s working relationship with Watanabe! The soundtrack is superb and contains the most amazing pieces of music you will ever hear to an animated series/feature film!  Establishing strong emotional music that lifts every scene together to great heights.  The animation isn’t the best of its time but it is the smoothest you’ll see. Overall, the payoff is an incredibly constructed ending!  It couldn’t have been any better it was perfect!  This is one of the most dramatic endings I have ever seen!


Vampire Hunter D

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Animation Production:

  • Ashi Productions ( 8 Man After, Ai City film, Beast Wars II Cho Seimeitai Transformers, Blue Seed, Doctor Chichibuyama, In-Between Animation on Dog of Flanders film)
  • Studio Live (Amon-Apocalupse of Devilman OAV, Character Designs and In-Between Animation on Future GPX Cyber Formula TV Series and OAV’s “11” and “Zero” / 2nd Key Animation on Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin Episode 11 / In-Between Animation work on over hundreds of series including Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED), Endride, Eureka Seven, Fairy Tail, Aku no Hana, Heat Guy J, Hunter x Hunter Original and 2011 Series, The IdolMasterKurenaiKing of Thorn film, Miss Hokusai film, Mobile Suit Gundam 00NarutoSenko no Night RaidReal Drive, Rio – Rainbow Gate!Rurouni KenshinSailor MoonSamurai ChamplooUN-GOShigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)Cowboy Bebop)

Director: Toyoo Ashida (Character Designer and Animation Director on Alps no Shojo Heidi / Animation Director on Candy Candy / Character Designer on Fairy Princess Minky Momo / Director and Original Character Designer on Gdleen / Animation Director on Galaxy Express 999 / Producer for Love Love? / Character Designer and Animation Director on Star Blazers)

Screenplay: Yasushi Hirano (Series Composition and Screenplay on 6 Angels film / Series Composition on City Hunter / Script on Dragon Ball / Script on Lupin III: Part III / Script on Ninja Scroll episodes 7, 10, 12 and 13 / Series Composition on Showa Monogatari / Screenplay on Ultraman)

Original Concept: Based on the novels written by Hideyuki Kikuchi and illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano.

Character Designer: Yoshitaka Amano (Lead Character Designer on the Final Fantasy video-game series / Original Creator and Original Character Designer on Amon Saga OAV / Original Character Designer on Ayakashi – Samurai Horror Tales “Yotsuya Kaidan” arc / Original Character Designer on Final Fantasy: Unlimited / Character Designer on Lily C.A.T. OAV / Character Designer on Casshan / Original Character Designer on Tekkaman, The Space Knight)

Music: Tetsuya Komuro (Music Composer for the following works: Carol OAV, City Hunter‘s Theme Songs, Cyborg 009, Punch-Line, Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie / Theme Song Composition on Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S in Episode 24)

One of the big reasons why Vampire Hunter D is number one is because it reminds me of my childhood.  On Saturday mornings the Sci-Fi Channel aired a programming block entitled “Saturday Anime”.  I grew up with seeing OVA series like 8-ManDominion Tank Police, Iria: Zeiram the Animation and Urusei Yatsura. To full length TV series Record of Lodoss War, Galaxy Express 999and Casshan Robot Hunter.  The channel also aired Japanese animated films that were heavily edited for TV featuring an English dub language track–AkiraDemon City Shinjuku and Vampire Hunter D were just a few that I can remember. The first time I watched Vampire Hunter D was around the early to mid 90’s in Japanese with fansubs.  It is great that it received a stateside release through Sci-Fi Channel’s programming block, which I saw only a few months later, but the English dub ruined much of the charm that made the Japanese cast so compelling to listen to.  It’s initial release was back in 1985 and for that time turned out to be a very beautiful OVA. You either love it or hate it.  I believe that Vampire Hunter D is a misunderstood classic.  About a girl becoming the interest of an Italian mafia-looking Vampire. A simplistic damsel-in-distress story.  If it had been made today it would probably be over-looked but over time this has become an instant classic for me.  The art including its character designs were done by Final Fantasy illustrator Yoshitaka Amano–growing up playing those video-games gave me more interest in seeing this OVA.  It also uses prolific 90’s animation director Hiromi Matsushita.  Everything about this OVA oozes with cool and utilizes an extremely dark tone of red, blue, black and green color palette. I highly recommend checking this one out if you are a fan of vampire series.

Top 10 Best Anime Series/Film Composers [400th post]

400th Post and with it comes another Top 10!  This is sort of a two-part post with a special review for #401.  I’ve seen dozens of series, feature films, animated shorts that have really good music and really bad.  The music score of a an animated work can truly elevate how the director intended to tell a story–  here is a list of my Top 10 favorite anime series and film composers.



Shirō Sagisu

Selection of written works:

  • Fushigi no Umi no Nadia
  • Macross II [film]
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion and Films
  • Abenobashi Mahō Shōtengai

A composer and record producer in the japanese music industry.  He uses a ton of brass arrangements and chorus melodies throughout his works especially on the Evangelion films and BLEACH series.  That show had influences of latin and spanish flamenco styles incorporated.  I feel like he’s the earlier generation of Hiroyuki Sawano–  highly intensified instrumentals with a deep bass percussion sounds and striking vocals.



Tamiya Terashima

  • Plastic Little OVA
  • Glass Mask 2nd season
  • Tales from Earthsea [film]
  • Mahou Shoujotai 

Mostly known for his energetic scores on the Falcom game series “Ys” and “Legend of Heroes”  his work on Japanese animation is pretty unique ranging from the incredible theatre study series Glass Mask and its wonderfully well-written European rooted musical score to fantasy orchestral sounds of Mahou Shoujotai!  This composer really knows his stuff as he’s written for comedy series like Sacred Blacksmith too!



Akira Senju

  • Full Metal Alchemist: BROTHERHOOD
  • Red Garden
  • Mobile Suit Victory Gundam
  • Arite Hime [film]

This video is awesome because there have been very few anime to ever achieve a musical segment to its narrative.  Red Garden is beautifully withdrawn series about girls yearning to be accepted even after death: this song illustrates this wonderfully!

Studied at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music with a master’s degree–  on top of his widely successful orchestral arrangements he is also an avid lecturer and in the early 90’s taught at Tokyo National University!  Many of his works have been reordered by many world-renowned ochestras including Philharmonia Orchestra, Slovak Philharmonic, Cracow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra.  His emphasis is through strong passionate violin and cello melodies that are carried over by a solid horn section–  Full Metal had an incredibly emotional collection of soundtracks because of this style!



Hiroyuki Sawano

  • Shingeki no Kyojin
  • Kill la Kill
  • Guilty Crown
  • Ao no Exorcist

I’ve mention Sawano very many times–  he’s not a versatile composer but he is extremely prolific and sticks to what he knows:  his style has an intensity that has a film-like quality to it.  In elementary school, Hiroyuki Sawano began studying the piano and by the age of 17 he began composing his own arrangements including orchestrations under the teachings of Nobuchika Tsuboi. He’s young and has a lot of work ahead of him–  his success started in 2006 with the drama Team Medical Dragon.  Gaining the attention of a ton of anime producers which led him to dive into this realm of entertainment.  Mika Kobayashi has to be my favorite singer of his group:  she has such a beautiful voice that can reach great heights!



Taku Iwasaki

  • R.O.D. -Red or Die-
  • Now and Then, Here and There
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
  • Katanagatari
  • [C] The Money of Soul and Possibility CONTROL

An anime composer that has been around since the mid 90’s with their first work being o the OVA series The Irresponsible Captain Tylor.  He received huge acclaim on his work with Witch Hunter RobinGurren Lagann and the most recent JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.  Graduate of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music Iwasaki is known for his scores to have a strong jazz feel to it.  He started out arranging compositions for various video game titles including the Cho-Aniki series.  However he didn’t earn his name out into the world until 1999 when he joined a band Smart Drug as the keyboardist and arranger.  Within the same year he spoke in an interview with a magazine that he was working on two highly popular manga series receiving an anime adaptation–  Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal and Now and Then, Here and There.  While these two series were a style strings arrangements with Now and Then have a more modern cut to it.  Witch Hunter Robin was an awesome mature series about a government organization eliminating witches in a fictional modern world of Japan.  Iwasaki’s score was a huge departure from what we’re used to as it added in heavy rock riffs into his pieces–  this would later be used on Studio GAINAX‘s Gurren Lagann.



Kiyoshi Yoshida

  • Kaiba
  • Kurozuka
  • Shigurui: Death Frenzy
  • Girl Who Leapt Through Time [film]

One of my favorite soundtracks of all time is Yoshida’s Kaiba score.  I think what helps is the fact that Metropolis musician Haruki Mino helped with a lot of the piano arrangements for its soundtrack.  Incredibly talented performer!  Having studied at the Berkley College of Music in the 80’s Yoshida began his music career by becoming involved in commercials as a  synthesizer technician.  1999 he released his first album and what followed years later was his debut in Mamoru Hosoda’s feature film Girl Who Leapt Through Time.  His style of music defines the Japanese historical background of music really well with the use of taiko drums and mixes it with digital synthesizer sounds.  He describes it as “wabi” (tasteful simplicity), “Sabi” (austerity), “Uneri” (undulation);  these are the elements that makes his music deliver a sound that can be reflected as the spirit of Japan.  He writes some pretty amazing piano works and his work on Kurozuka reflects his ideals about being passion about his own country extremely well.



Kei Wakakusa

  •  Kemonozume
  • Hikaru no Go
  • Romeo no Aoi Sora
  • Uchū Densetsu Ulysses 31

His work on Kemonozume is the greatest work I’ve ever heard from him.  Just a side note the soundtrack is incredibly hard to find and is only available in the DVD-BOX set that was released around 2007–  extremely rare find!  Very jazz-like and rigid that is in some ways spontaneous in its delivery! He’s most known for his scoring on sports comedy series Hikaru no Go.



Kenji Kawai

  • Ghost in the Shell
  • Patlabor
  • Seirei no Moribito
  • Higashi no Eden
  • Ranma 1/2
  • The Sky Crawlers [film]

Originally studying nuclear engineering at Tokai University, Kenji Kawai studied music at Shobi Music Academy.  Dropping out he entered contests and that eventually led to his chance encounter with music director Naoko Asari that inspired him to write anime soundtracks.  His style ranges within the world of Japanese traditional music from Min’yō to techno sounds.  Ghost in the Shell received high regard for his score because of the dominating sound of Taiko!  I’m eager about his work on Subete ga F ni Naru this fall!



Joe Hisashi

  • Porcco Rosso
  • Princess Mononoke
  • Spirited Away
  • Howl’s Moving Castle
  • The Tale of Princess Kaguya

At the 5:00 minute mark is probably my favorite song out of the entire soundtrack of Kaguya!  So emotionally gripping!

World-renowned by even the Hollywood film industry.  The best of the best–  as he’s worked alongside legendary film-maker and animator Hayao Miyazaki since the very beginning.  He took violin lessons at the age of five and is where he discovered his passion for music. In 1969 he attended the Kunitachi College of Music majoring in music composition.  He collaborated with with artists as a typesetter which would enrich his experience the musical world for years to come.  Around the 70’s he established in alias with his character names being written the same as “Quincy Jones”.  Upon recommendation he wrote an image album for Nausicaa Valley of the Wind which culminated in a life-long friendship between director Miyazaki.  To this day he still composers for him as well as a few live-action films.  His compositions are emotionally engaging and inspiring to classical musicians everywhere.



Yoko Kanno

  • Cowboy Bebop
  • Macross Plus
  • Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex
  • Sakamichi no Apollon
  • Zankyo no Terror

“I hear everyone talk about how many genres [I work in] like classical, jazz and others, but personally, I don’t divide music by genre when creating. I don’t create by saying, ‘I must create a classical piece here,’ or ‘I must create a jazz piece here.’ When I create music, I don’t consider at all which genre I like best, but what the scene or the anime calls for, like a love [theme] or a mood. There isn’t one genre I like more than the others. I find all of them satisfying and all inspire me in different ways”. ~Yoko Kanno

Cowboy Bebop’s jazz-infused musical score is the very reason why she hits number 1 on my list.  It’s ambitious for the its time and it crosses cultures between western and eastern styles from spontaneous horn most notably saxophone solos and maintains a solid foundation that its based on a Japanese director’s vision.  To me, Zankyo no Terror IS her best work because she’s grown in her style by using various genres dependent on scene changes in a narrative all crossing together– guitar riffs mixed with jazz melodies and electronica.  Amazing how diverse her repertoire is!


Well, that’s it! Hope you enjoyed my 400th post on my site!  I will have the special review up next! So be sure to check back soon for an update on the review!


Top 10 Best Anime of 2014

Finally I have arrived at post 300!  Every hundred I’ve done a Top 10 and this time I’ve decided to separate this into the following categories of “Best of 2014”:

  • Animation
  • Opening Sequence
  • Ending Sequence
  • Soundtrack
  • Directed Episode
  • Anime Series

This post reflects series that I may not have covered and includes soundtracks to series that have been released in 2014.  Parasyte is not included in this list because it is still an ongoing series, whereas Aldnoah.Zero had split-cour airings.

This was a really tough selection.  I’ve spent weeks on this, trying to figure out a good way to keep this organized for my readers.  I had covered some really incredible series that were all quite varied and some I neglected on my site due to time constraints.  However 2014 was a huge year for a lot of creativity in the industry to shine through.  So for starters I’ll begin with Animation.





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Animation Studio: BRAINS BASE

If there had been any romantic comedy series I SHOULD have blogged it definitely would be this.  This show has heart, it has comedy that isn’t stale.  A light-hearted series about a young boy moving into a boarding house with other residents, crazy residents.

Kawaisou is witty at times, filled with sexual humor this show doesn’t let up the punches with getting a laugh or two from the viewer.  Usa is a strong male character in this series that has such good chemistry between the bookworm Ritsu.  An anime with charm and its the animation that really pulls this off strong!  Brains Base Animation Production Studio consists of former TMS employees and I can really see the amount of talent they have.  A company that sure has grown from animating 2006’s Innocent Venus to 2011’s Mawaru Penguindrum and now this.  At first glance it looks like an A-1 Pictures project with the large emphasis on bright tones on the character’s faces, the sparkles drawn in so well and the gorgeous background designs!  I recommend anyone that wants to pick up a decent romance series with a ton of comedy to check this one out!



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Animation Studio: BONES

Anyone that enjoys STAR DRIVER would appreciate everything this series offers.  The animation is really similar in terms of key animation and character designs.  However this show takes it up a notch with how detailed the Impactors are in this series.  The humans fight against the designer children in space and while you can tell some episodes look better than others they don’t let it distract the viewer from the story.  Shinji Aramaki designed the mechs for this show and just by looking at them they have a nod to 1998’s Gasarki‘s mech designs and STAR DRIVER’s entire basis for its mechs as well.  Aramaki established Star Driver’s ideas–  boys that would control giant robots to save mankind against other robots.  Captain Earth uses the same thought process with prettier animation.



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Animation Studio: Kinema Citrus

One of the best series that Kinema Citrus ever animated was Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 in 2009 and it really shows up in this slice-of-life comedy series about a calligraphy artist searching for his own creative style.

Barakamon has a relaxing feeling going for it and it certainly helps when you’ve got a group of talented animators on board.  The backgrounds weren’t striking but did give off a rather realistic perspective of the Goto Island.  The dramatic expressions these characters gave off especially the hugging scenes were drawn with incredible detail!

I can really see Kumiko Watanabe’s wonderful work from the Asura film to this.  Dark to something really bright and it paid off extremely well with this anime!



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Animation Studio: P.A. WORKS

I’ll be honest here–  P.A. Works is one of my favorite studios.  This studio and Kyoto Animation are my fluff companies I turn to when I want to see some solid animation.  While a lot of their series may look rehashed in the original character designs they more than make up for it with how visually appealing the designs in these characters and background art is!  One of my top series of 2011 was Hanasaku Iroha and that had some really well-drawn animated sequences!

Nagi no Asukara is the same way here–  however the stories they choose are often times way too dramatic. This show has an interesting premise about people that live underwater interacting with people on land.  This show focuses more on the romance aspect a bit too much than emphasizing on the livelihood of the social system it builds up between the two cultures.

Those underwater segments were brilliantly animated!



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Animation Studio: TRIGGER

I absolutely loved this series and if it weren’t for its generic tropes regarding the villains I would have rated this much higher.  Taking this into account, this was a highly entertaining anime to watch!

A series that focuses on clothing as an integral part of its story in amping up Ryoko and the committee members for some ridiculously overpowered fights!  These character designs were done by Sushio whom worked on key animation for Gurren Lagann and even an episode of Mushishi!

Seeing this and Gurren Lagann you can definitely see similarities in the wide-panel fight scenes, the over-exaggerated on-screen text and quick jumps between mature designs and characters that tend to have a more kawaii look to them where comedy enters in the mix.  Especially with the bubble sleeping scenes with Mako.

Trigger is for the most part a bunch of ex-GAINAX employees.  So if you enjoyed LagannInferno Cop and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt than this action series is right up your alley!


Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS

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Animation Studio: MAPPA

Formed in 2011, the original founder of Madhouse Animation Studio Masao Maruyama really got onto the map with the jazz-Shinichiro Watanabe series Sakamichi no Apollon.  This studio is known for making some definitive cinematic choices between close up shots to long overview scenes with beautifully drawn background designs!

What initially got me interested in Bahamut was their work on Apollon and Zankyou.  All three of these series could have had their episodes joined together and really feel like a feature film.  I can’t even imagine what sort of funding this studio receives when they start the drafting process for an original work!

Azazel has a really dark bishounen look to him while Favaro and Kaisar could be pulled from a swashbuckling film!  Naoyuki Onda is really talented when it comes to designing characters and he’s sure come a long way from Sol Biana and Gantz to this!  This was my favorite series in 2014 to portray facial expressions, well this and Zankyou no Terror.



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Animation Studio: Tatsunoko Productions {mostly: Masaaki Yuasa}

This was an extremely hard choice.  Masaaki Yuasa is one of my favorite illustrators in the world of anime.  He’s strikingly different as he takes so many risks that detracts people from seeing his works.  It’s a shame really because for me I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every series he’s created.  Most of the time its really gritty but what it lacks in beauty makes up for with so much heart.  Ping Pong is probably going to be in my Top 10 Favorite anime series of all time because of how realistic it truly is.

Tatsunoko Productions.  This studio has been around for a long time.  If I recall they were established sometime around the 1960’s.  One of the worst series they animated in 2014 was Psycho-Pass 2 however, Ping Pong rocks in every way!  Those table matches were so fluid and while they did have Yuasa’s bizarre designs it came off perfectly with this!

Now I would just love to see Yuasa design a Kunihiko Ikuhara series with music by Naruyoshi Kikuchi.  How about an adaptation of Ohana Holoholo?  Noitamina, are you reading this? *laughs*




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Animation Studio: Artland Animation Studio

How could this not be on here?  Both seasons 1 and 2 are incredibly detailed.  This is a very talented group of animators that have worked on projects since the 80’s.  Macross character designer Haruhiko Mikimoto and director Noboru Ishiguro whom worked alongside Leiji Matsumoto! [one of the creators of Space Battleship Yamato] Artland split from Marvelous Entertainment in 2010 becoming Artland Animation Studio.

Mushishi is really known for captivating its audience with its atmosphere and this almost 10 year break between seasons really shows the charm they are still able to achieve with this occult detective series!  Slow paced scenes mixed with transparent glowing mushi come together to really tell a strong story visually and its this contrast between deep greens and bright colors that manage to pull this off well.

Looking back on Zoku Shou episodes that pulled the animation so tightly had to be Shimaki Tatsu and the Koten no Hoshi episodes!




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Animation Studio: MAPPA

Shinichiro Watanabe…this director is probably my favorite in the industry.  He’s written quite possibly some of the greatest stories ever told through animation and considering how Cowboy Bebop is my number 1 favorite anime series it’s no wonder that he needs to have everything come together to really pull this off.

As for the animation we’ve got a strong style with this high school terrorism plot that gives off such a feature film feeling to it.  Just like Bahamut this is another MAPPA series that could be put together as one entire 4-hour film and could work well.  There isn’t one scene that has shoddy animation techniques, every scene is drawn with incredible detail.

In the early 90’s Kazuto Nakazawa did a ton of popular series as a key animator and when Watanabe’s Samurai Champloo came out around 2004 he rose to the top as an acclaimed designer.  If I remember correctly this is the same animator that spear headed the designs for Ashita no Nadja and Sarai-ya Goyō.

You can really see some influence between his character Mugen (Champloo) and Detective Shibazaki (Zankyou).  Strong facial expressions illustrate how Sphinx’s bombings affect the other people in this show and it really delivers a strong performance overall.  Powerfully moving series with beautifully animated sequences helps put this series up at the top for me!


Space Dandy

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Animation Studio: BONES

It’s to no surprise that this series made this list being that this was the first Shinichiro Watanabe production that aired in 2014.  I am all for a unique style or rather studios that takes risks.  This had such a huge staff credited and it was different for each episode!  Most of the key animators that worked on this BONES project worked on Cowboy Bebop and there had been quite a few easter eggs thrown in to establish this quite effectively!  The main character designer Yoshiyuki Ito most known for his work on Full Metal Alchemist first season and STAR DRIVER delivered his best drawings for this well-written science fiction series!  We also had some strong level of talent–  Masaaki Yuasa, Sayo Yamamoto, Ryo Kono the art Director for the opening sequence and created the designs to Yojō-Han Shinwa Taikei!  What amazed me the most was with the animation department.

How every planet and every alien had been designed by different animators!  Loved the background art for episode 21 by Santiago Montiel.  The design of the Aloha Oe was done by French animator Thomas Romain!  Considering how the focus of this series was to broadcast it worldwide, Watanabe from the very beginning wanted Space Dandy to be developed by talent from all over the world and it pays off with varied aliens every episode, stunning drawings of the planets and unique concepts for the ships, the characters and stories that were contained in them!  Fans of Cowboy BebopSamurai ChamplooSakamichi no Apollon and 80’s sci-fi films should give this series the attention it deserves, baby!




Aldnoah.Zero OP 1:  Heavenly Blue by KALAFINA

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Ah Kalafina, this band is amazing.  Formed by Japanese composer Yuki Kajiura.  You can really tell the orchestral style that she uses in her works because I can distinctly hear from a lot of her songs music from Noir in this.  Magia is probably one of the most popular songs this band has ever done, but this really pulled through in the drama side of this mecha series quite well.  The visuals are gorgeous that match up with this and I really enjoyed the closeup scenes of Slaine and Inaho gearing up for battle.



Hōzuki no Reitetsu OP 1:  “Jigoku no Sata mo Kimi Shidai” by Jigoku no Sata All Stars

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This was one of the weirdest songs I’ve ever heard. No, really.  I’m serious.  The main cast dances and sings along to the song. And its the visual style here that depicts the crazy adventures these demons have within hell.  Really unique song and animation that WIT STUDIO used.  Great comedy series.  Perhaps a re-watch is in order so that I can catalog this one on the site.



KILL LA KILL OP 2: “Sirius” by Eir Aoi

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A generic anime song.  However, it’s Aoi’s vocals and TRIGGER’s style that pushes this to the max with this opening sequence.  Clothing is so prevalent in this series and it’s these collection of scenes mixed in that give the viewer exactly what its looking for going into the second half!  Also, a good lead into the series villain Ragyou.



M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane OP 2:  “Replica” by Maaya Sakamoto

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This is one of my favorite Sakamoto songs to date because of the underlying chorus in the background.  The visuals illustrate the tone that this Junichi Sato series will be dark.  Regardless of how bad this show had ended up, its this opening segment that somewhat establishes some connection with the plot favorably to me.

As it shows a grown up Akashi playing with the very kids he’s forgotten about and the dark metal that seeps throughout this opening scene was drawn really well.  It’s the darkness that overshadows the happiest moments in his life:  A good theme as it gradually presents itself going into the second half!



PSYCHO-PASS 2 OP: “Enigmatic Feeling” by Ling Tosite Sigure

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These next two are quite similar and this was really hard to decide which one I liked better. The visuals were nicely done and probably better than the whole show.

I like how Kougami is placed as a shadow in the background to illustrate that he’s never left Akane’s thoughts.  The song rocks.  Ling Tosite Sigure is back from Season 1 to give us a highly experiment screaming to whisper melancholic song about what is it that makes people go crazy.



Tokyo Ghoul OP: “Unravel” by Ling Tosite Sigure

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At the very beginning of this Tokyo Ghoul shows off that Kaneki once had a normal life but is suddenly shattered by the women he finds attractive.  The reversal here is what makes this one of my Top of 2014.

The characters walking along at a slow pace while a mirror of their ghoul selves reveals their other identity.  Strikingly bright quinques really show off the talented animators that worked on this OP and was without a doubt my favorite part of this.



Samurai Flamenco OP 2: “Bye Bye Bye Shot Down Love Love Love” by FLOW

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Manglobe.  This studio was awesome in 2008 with Michiko e Hatchin.  What happened to them following was a mess of moe shows with no substance.  What attracted me to this opening was how much it shifts between normalcy and downright bizarre.  Mineral Miracle Muse snapping their fingers while the Flamengers have their hands shown:  teamwork that pays off in hilarity throughout this oddball tokusatsu series.  Flow did incredible work at making this song fit with the acting drama side of this series!



Zankyou no Terror OP: “Trigger” by Yuuki Ozaki

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This song is beautiful.  The animation is top notch just like the series, and I really like how there are all these parallels between the Savant Syndrome that gets brought up later on in Zankyou in this opening.  Lisa running through the city as the camera followed was gorgeous and those crows flying up in the sky really illustrate that Nine and Twelve were both far away from any home they could connect to.  Five being the white bird was a nice touch here too.  My favorite opening of the summer 2014 season and easily one of the best of that year!  Yuuki Ozaki has a strong voice and it comes off really well in the livetuning that is added to the quick tempo beats in the instrumentals!



Ping Pong The Animation OP: “Tada Hitori” (唯一人) by Bakudan Johnny

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Shinya Orihara one of the best animators in the industry right now tackles this.  TekkinkonkreetAkira, numerous Studio Chibli films including Howl’s Moving Castle, and the most recent Giovanni’s Island.  This guy is incredible at creating drawings that are rough and complex while the fluidity of the animation is highly detailed!  This was miles ahead of anything we had airing alongside Ping Pong!  Considering how the first two episodes were just a black and white panel montage its no wonder it took some time to get this opening finished by the third one!  Amazing!  Bakudan Johnny began under an indie label around 2011 but ended up making their debut with this song.



Mushishi Zoku Shou OP: “Shiver” by Lucy Rose

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Similar in the way that the first season’s opening was done by Scottish artist Ally Kerr:  Zoku Shou uses a non-Japanese artist yet again.  The song Shiver uses Lucy Rose a singer-songwriter from England.  Easily the most beautiful song and animation we had all year.  A closeup of nature and those flower petals and the transition into fall and winter strongly shows off the atmosphere that Mushishi has.  The acoustic guitar strumming along with the powerful lyrics gives us this gentle perspective about life and what we might be missing.



Aldnoah.Zero ED 1: “A/Z” by Hiroyuki Sawano/ vocals by Mizuki

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This song is especially powerful because of how dramatic this mecha series is.  Actually both endings should really be up here for how good they are.  However, the water-color like drawings here capture the struggles the kids are having going into battle.  I like where Asseylum is standing with the reflection of the water below showing the Princess side of herself.  Mizuki pours really strong vocals into this!


Captain Earth ED 2:  “The Glory Days” by Tia

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Life outside of fighting and this is the style I like! Oh my goodness!  The animation was awesome in this one!  Daichi and the others cleaning the Earth Engine Impactor and I like how fun and childish it is!  This was so refreshing here!


M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane ED 1: “Ego-izm” by La La Larks

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Originally from the band School Food Punishment, Yumi Uchimura returns with powerful vocals along with her sound producer and keyboardist Ryo Eguchi.  This sounds just like School Food Punishment and I’m glad to see this revitalized here!  The animation is drawn well and I like the background art of the Lightless Realm, everything just comes off as smooth here.


Space Dandy ED: “”Welcome to the X Dimension” by Etsuko Yakushimaru

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The Parallel Dimension theory.  Multiple Dandys being transported through transparent boxes.  What a strange and messy style but for as comedic and odd this show is it works.  Etsuko’s vocals reminds me a lot of the soft voice of Bonjour Suzuki from Yuri Kuma Arashi‘s op.  This song has a certain sway to it that it similar to some of her other pieces especially Arakawa Under the Bridge.


Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS ED: “Promised Land” by Risa Shimizu

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This rocks!  Sayo Yamamoto single-handedly gave us the best ending of the Fall 2014 Season with this.  The animation has that Fujiko Mine series style to it and it left me breathless.  Amira twirling was incredibly animated with a rather stop motion technique against a very detailed background.  The lyrics are emotionally moving and after seeing the series it explains the adventure side of this so well in regards to Amira’s character.  She’s a child and she wants to continue to learn about the world with Favaro.  What a great way to illustrate this through the sepia tone artwork of the mother and her dancing escape into unknown lands.


Gin no Saji Second Season ED: “”Oto no Naru Hō e” by Goose house

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A catchy song, bright animation all of which that features agriculture life so well.  I loved this Noitamina series and I do hope there will be another season of it in the future.  This ending was better than the first season’s because of how Goose House delivered a somewhat family style aspect with the vocals.  Which is a big part of what this series is about.  The still animated shots of Mikage, Hachiken and the rest of the crew were well-drawn!  Nerawareta Gakuen director Ryosuke Nakamura handled this ending nicely.


Mushishi Zoku Shou ED: various endings by composer Toshio Masuda

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Every ending connects with each episode seamlessly.  I think this might be the only episodic anime to tackle this well.  Traditional soundtrack to create an engaging atmosphere to the very end.


Barakamon ED: “Innocence” by NoisyCell

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This band is sure making a name for themselves with their rock sounds between light-hearted comedy series to this season’s Death Parade.  I’m not so sure as to who directed this ending sequence but one thing is for sure that the animation was incredible here.  The very detailed characters without color against a brown backdrop was stunning!


Ping Pong The Animation ED: “”Bokura ni Tsuite” (僕らについて) by Merengue

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What a neat song!  Eunyoung Choi is one of my favorite animators that reminds me a lot of Masaaki Yuasa’s style a lot.  She’s really detailed and it shows a lot where her influence has switched over the years from doing Black Lagoon to Yuasa’s numerous rough projects.  Its clearly seen between her episode 9 of Space Dandy and Yuasa’s episode 16 of the same series!  Kemenozume and Kaiba looks to be the biggest inspiration in her repertoire as we see with this ending.  Her work on episode 10 of Yojō-Han Shinwa Taikei was fantastic as well but this ending is one of her best!  The camera doing a time lapse along the walkway as the cars driving past was beautiful.  The pov car part of this was great–  not every car that is seen is fully drawn in but still gets to telling the big picture of what the animation is trying to convey perfectly!  Like most of Yuasa’s works, its not for everyone as it does have a messy look to it but underneath it all its an ending like this that can capture normal life outside of pong competitions so well!

The song is upbeat and has two versions one that’s a little lower on the drum beats.  However, both are incredibly well-done and I really hope to see more great things from Eunyoung Choi in the future!


Zankyou no Terror ED: “Dare ka, umi o.” by Aimer

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Aimer has such a beautiful strong voice.  Yuki Uchimura and her are my two favorite female singers in the japanese scene right now.  Powerful lyrics about being saved matched up to Lisa falling in the water being drowned by the two crows flying away. Fujiko Mine animator Takeshi Koike pulled off one amazing ending! I absolutely love the penciled in water.  The level of detail on this was incredible!



The music in an anime series is pivotal in getting the right message across.  These 10 series provided just enough to give a really strong impact in a particular scene and even where there had been parts to an episode that didn’t have any dialogue.  Here are my Top 10 for best soundtrack!


Gokukoku no Buryunhirude

Composer: Nao Tokisawa

One of Nao’s first musical scores.  He’s brand new on the scene and I think the only other anime scores he’s ever arranged were from Kiniro + Mosaic.

I have to say this guy did a tremendous job at making a dark tone match up with the plot of this really well.  Dubstep, I’ve really gotten interested in this genre of music since this score and Kiseiju also did a fine job at it as well!  Good to see these artists doing something creative in the business by shifting away from an entirely piano midi soundtrack!


Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii

Composer: Kousuke Yamashita

If there was any composer that could create a truly inspirational collection of songs its this guy. I loved what he did with Chihayafuru, if it weren’t for its soundtrack I don’t believe I would have enjoyed that series as much as I did.  With Soredemo, he continues his success in writing orchestral compositions with such an uplifting theme around them.  If Skip Beat! were ever to be re-done I would love to hear this guy do the music for that series.  Such a romantic calming style between stringed instruments and a lovely horn section.


Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS

Composer: Yoshihiro Ike

One of my favorite orchestra composers on feature films.  Asura was a tough film to watch but what gave it more of an emotional quality to it was its music score.

Ah man, the Ergo Proxy score was eerie, while the Karas OAV was powerfully engaging.  Tiger & Bunny gave a lot of inspiration to Bahamut‘s soundtrack here with the strong chorus melodies and rough quickly-paced string movements.


Tokyo Ghoul

Composer: Yutaka Yamada

Brand new in the anime industry and Tokyo Ghoul is the only thing he’s ever done!  I hope to see great things from this composer.  He worked with Hiroyuki Sawano in 2011 on the drama Marumo no Okite, and I can clearly see how much Sawano inspired him with this score.  A mix of bass beats and sometimes techno with a beautiful chorus line that is used in the background.  The violins deliver striking sounds to create this etherial sound mixed with a bit of rock.  Really cool.


Kill la Kill

Composer:  Hiroyuki Sawano

While this guy as I’ve said before isn’t varied, he does have high energy.  Strong chorus pieces matched up perfectly to Trigger’s animation.  Wouldn’t have asked for a better composer for this series.  The style Trigger uses is bold and Sawano’s music is very energetic and dramatic.  Loved this!



Composer: Hiroyuki Sawano

It’s no big surprise that both his works made it on this list.  You could switch between the scores in both series and they would have probably offered the same result impact-wise.  I think what made me like this more was his energy on the song “Alliez” and the amazing piece they used throughout the battles “MKAlliez” and “Z-Kat”.  When it comes to writing with other singers he’s got a gift of using their voices to their full potential.  Perhaps he should teach Kanon Wakeshima [Selector Infected WIXOSS OP] a thing or two about singing.


Ping Pong The Animation

Composer: Kensuke Ushio

Freaking amazing!  This was single-handedly the best music of the Spring 2014 season!  I actually had a difficult time trying to figure out where to place this on my list here.  Unique and messy just like the animation or rather Masaaki Yuasa’s style.  It screams potential while at the same time has such a strength to it that drives the characters motivations so solid!  It really pushed this story to its limits and enhanced those pong matches especially Peco’s match against Kazama the Dragon!


Mushishi Zoku Shou

Composer: Toshio Masuda

Is there really anything to say here?  This artist is able to use a traditional style from Japan and really give life to the atmosphere of the show as a whole ridiculously well.  Very soothing collection of melodies that plays throughout this series and if this series makes another return I hope that he does the music for it!


Zankyou no Terror 

Composer: Yoko Kanno

She is my favorite composer of all time.  This is without a doubt her best work and she’s got talent for knowing exactly how to develop what’s needed for a particular scene.  Which in Zankyou‘s case was everything about the show–  it was all about how it would look to the audience.  The sound was an astonishing extra that really pulled out Nine and Twelve’s feelings so well!  Not to mention Lisa’s worsening situation as the story progressed!


Space Dandy


  • Fujimaru Yoshino
  • Hiroshi Kawanabe
  • Hiroyuki Namba
  • Izumi Macra
  • Junk Fujiyama
  • KenKen
  • Kensuke Ushio
  • Kouichirou Tashiro
  • Latin Quarters
  • Mito
  • Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro
  • Noriyoshi Sasanuma
  • Shutoku Mukai
  • Taku Takahashi
  • Taro Umebayashi
  • Tomonori Hayashibe
  • Yasuyuki Okamura
  • Yoko Kanno
  • Seiichi Nagai

This is some list.  We’ve got Okamura, whom hasn’t done anything in five years and before that he’s had an absence from singing since the early 2000’s from a drug arrest.  These are some of the best of the best in Japanese music!  It’s such an eclectic mix between jazz bands, techno groups and j-pop idols.  Hands down the amount of creativity throughout this series wasn’t just the worldwide animators that worked on Space Dandy but it’s monumental success came from its varied soundtrack. “I should be..” was the most emotional songs out of the entire series and while a lot of it is very in key with the obscurity of the show between guitar riffs and stylized electronic downbeats this show’s score remains incredibly different from anything we had of 2014!  Unique and a series that from the get-go that takes risks!  Let’s see more of this in the future!


Before I go into overall what series were the best of 2014, I want to jump even deeper into individual episodes.  We had tons of incredible episodes even from one particular series, so compiling my Top 10 on this was rather challenging.


Kill la Kill Episode 5 “Trigger”

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This show introduced the coolest character out of any that this series presented itself with.  Tsumugu Kingase.  From the very beginning we see him destroying the garden club’s flowers and this guy just oozes cool. His confrontation with Ryoko was more than enough to bond her and Senketsu even further!


Samurai Flamenco Episode 19 “The Quiet Life”

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Everything has settled down after Samurai Flamenco’s fight against the Will of the Universe.  We are finally back to what this series shines in–  real drama.  While the tokusatsu aspect of this show remains we were finally given the reveal of Goto’s girlfriend and its a doozy.  Mari was my favorite character of this particularly because of this episode alone.  She’s crazy.  Her reaction when she finds out about Goto’s cellphone is probably the most authentic this show could catch up to.  It also helps the Masayoshi was conflicted on what to do.  He’s been trapped inside his own world for so long he doesn’t understand how to get grounded back towards reality and help his friend.


Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS Episode 3 “Fog of Nebelville”

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This is how to do a zombie episode!  This series is packed with so much adventure and this episode brought into the mix Rita as a great contrast between Favaro and Kaisar.  She’s a necromancer and I like how she shows up.  Disillusioned by the family she lives with and the other villagers–  she has grown accustomed to her life.  When Favaro and Amira show up for the bounty they are also illusioned by the fog that everything is normal.  Nothing truly is what it seems and there were so many parallels between Kaisar’s upbringing and Rita’s that it left this large impact of trust between the two of them exceptionally well.  This was my favorite episode of the series and I wished that we had more like it!  Hope a season 2 dives into more adventures with its episodes!


Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii Episode 3 “Chancellor’s Declaration”

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Livius and Nike’s relationship is progressing only after knowing each other for some time–  I like all the duties the future queen must uphold.  She’s horrible at them and really irritates the King’s staff!  I like how there is this huge transition from the dead mother cliche into Nike’s own reasons for being with him.  Loving someone out of protection and this is what Livius gains here in trying to understand her more.  A similarity between the two that both show it in different ways.  I’m glad that this episode was placed much earlier rather than later.


Nisekoi Episode 1 “The Promise”

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This show is really funny in a romantic way.  SHAFT pulled out all the stops in animating this without so many of their usual peculiar animated angles. Raku in appeasing with his yakuza boss’ wishes he pretends to date Chitoge.  The love triangle begins with a promise made 10 years earlier to another possible girl Kosaki Onodera (the girl he really likes).  This was a nice start to a somewhat bothersome situation that Raku is put into as more girls are involved with keys that match his locket.


SPACE DANDY Episode 13 “Even Vacuum Cleaners Fall in Love, Baby”

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I’ll be honest right here.  I wanted to put up all the episodes of Space Dandy within this post, because they were all fantastic!  However, there was something special with this episode.

This was a great end to the first half–  a story that focuses on QT.  A robot that can fall in love.  The animation was unlike anything we had of the previous twelve episodes and had an amazing collection of music attached to it!  Reminds me a lot of the Brave Little Toaster only this story fueled it up by hitting all the right notes with QT’s behavior towards Maker gradually transitioning towards human emotions. The giant robot at the end was brilliantly animated!


Mushishi Zoku Shou Episode 4 “The Hand That Caresses the Night”

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The first episode of Zoku Shou that delivered a really dark theme.  Tatsu is able to lure animals for hunting but the catch is that the meat has rotten.  Powerful!  Ginko frightened by whatever it is that has swayed Tatsu with such an intent on killing.  What a nice idea to use crows as the strong symbol that something bad was going to happen!  My favorite part of this was the scene where Tatsu is about to be attacked by a group of crows!  Ah that animation!  Breathtaking!


Tokyo Ghoul Episode 1 “Tragedy”

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I wasn’t all that impressed with this series considering how rushed it was by its later episodes.  However, its premiere was a really strong one!  Kaneki is enamored with Rize that sets up the fantastic date they have.  Wonderful way to turn this around by using her as the ghoul and killing Kaneki of any normal life he could have had.


Ping Pong the Animation Episode 10 “I Thought You Were the Hero!!”

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Kazama and Peco’s pong match while Tsukimoto is left nowhere to be seen.  I like how this plays in Tsukimoto’s favor that he is really intuitive.  As visually stunning as this was for me–  it gave me chills with how varied the camera angles were!  This episode was all about passion and what reasons the players have for playing pong.  Kazama had held on a desire to win for the sake of achieving greatness whereas Peco does it out of fun.  I like how the match tells the story for the two of them and how Kazama basically crosses over to the other side in understanding how Peco feels about the game.  There also was so much symbolism in this episode–  the birds flying to signify the face-off between the two of them, the slow motion sequence of Kazama rolling the ball.  Yuasa’s best episode this series hands down–  it was so intense!


Zankyou no Terror Episode 1 “Falling”

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A series about a terrorist attack that devastates the Shinjuku area of Japan.  What starts off as an action sequence of the two boys stealing plutonium at a nuclear reactor transitions wonderfully into the school setting and winds up with a giant building being blown up!  The visuals, the musical score, the dialogue, everything came together perfectly to start up this chilling story about kids that had been discarded, neglected and finally getting the chance to redeem themselves in their own ways!  This was the most intense episode I had seen all year!


Now that I’ve jumped into those categories its time to talk about the best series that aired for 2014.  I’ve decided that I wanted to keep this short but sweet.



Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii

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A series that has revitalized the shojo genre for me.  It’s a light-hearted series about a King and princess and the hardships they endure as they progress their relationship towards marriage.


Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou

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I really wish I had blogged this series when it aired in the spring.  It’s a wild romantic comedy series with charm and stunning visuals!



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Washed out calligrapher Seishu Handa arrives on an island by request only to discover a new style all his own and finds some friends along the way.  This was written in two halves each episode that gave a refreshing look at life away from technology and focuses on the nurturing side of life.


Captain Earth

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From the same creators that brought you STAR DRIVER.  This series tackles an invasion from beings known as Planetary Gears.  What this series did well was progress these young teens into adults by using mechs at the forefront!  The songs provided the power aspect that this team is known for with their other works!  I really enjoyed the relationship Daichi had with Hana.  Akari was awesome!


Samurai Flamenco

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A lot of people I know did not like this series at all.  Its first half was a realistic perspective of a young actor that wanted to become the superhero he’s always aspired to be.  And by acting in television dramas that had these sort of characters.  The second half more so episode 7 completely changes things into a tried and true Tokusatsu series!  Randomly ambitious and the Mineral Miracle Muse trio were the highlight of every episode they were in!



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Akin to Gurren Laggan, this series develops the idea that uniforms gives someone their power.  This is a series that illustrates the mahou shojo genre fairly well as it piles on with each episode a fierce performance with the intention of being brashly seductive!  Visually its a highly intensified series with a grandiose soundtrack!


Ping Pong The Animation

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One of my favorite directors adapts Taiyo Matsumoto’s ’96 manga series about pong players at various academies.  This is how to write a 1-cour series! Brush off any ideas you have of thinking this show is going to be pretty.  It’s not.  While I really liked this animation and as I’ve said before it’s not for everyone.  This is an unsentimental series that represents itself as an authentic and inexplicably-animated view of high-school life.  Ping Pong succeeded in being one of the best sports series out there!


Zankyou no Terror [Terror in Tokyo]

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A visually stunning narrative that explores the idea of terrorism on Japanese soil. A nihilistic journey towards retribution with a lot of exposition on 9/11.  I enjoyed this series a ton for how creative it was.


Mushishi Zoku Shou

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This show is beautiful.  Music, animation, characters and the story are just absolutely amazing! Every part of it comes together perfectly.  Individual tales that follow Ginko and his travels across lands while discovering Mushi.  I actually enjoyed this season much more than the first one–  we had some incredible stories!  Some dark, some light-hearted but by the end of them they arrive to one central theme: survival. I would recommend this series to anyone!

My family watches this one!


Space Dandy

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Ok here goes.

Moe, moe, moe, that’s all the industry thinks anime fans like these days.  It does sell well and Sword Art Online is a perfect example of achieving sales.  However, the plot can often times jump ship or crack down its second half.  And then there are those rare times it does work for the case of Kawaisou and Nisekoi which my reasons are stated clearly above. But you know what I think?  You know, the staff that throw it in all willy nilly in their series.  They’re idiots.  Show me a tsundere loving-man and I’ll show you a no-brain, no-class, timid otaku that knows nothing of a quality anime.  I guess I don’t get it.  You gotta take risks, jump for a surprise! You can’t have a well-structured anime series just by female characters’ appearances and personalities alone! No! There are far more important things to consider.  It’s all about everything coming together as one, baby.  Viva All. ~Stay Dandy

Every episode is crafted together with so many different creative styles arriving at one point.  This provides some unique planets that Dandy travels to, strange aliens and the comedy never lets up!  A pivotal series that revitalizes the space opera genre with such worldwide success!

I hope that someday this ‘may be continued’…

Well that’s it!  My 300th blog post.  Now onto continuing the series of 2015 and of course all the other series I’m way behind on writing about.  Hope you all liked reading this.

Top 10 Best Directed Episodes

It is time to celebrate with another Top 10!  Having hit 200 posts on this blog and with Space Dandy having finished its series run [so far I hope] I figured now would be the best opportunity to talk about some of the best directed episodes out of all the anime series I have ever seen.  Most of these don’t even hit my top 10 Best Anime Series, but had some really awesome individual episodes.  I am sure Space Dandy in time will make this list but for now, here is what makes the cut.

What styles of music can capitalize on creating stronger scenes?  How does animation influence this?  What sort of voice acting does it take help push the story along further?  It is actually all of these elements that create good storytelling, and without good episode directors we can’t have shows the remain solid.  There have been a couple of anime seasons in the late 90’s, early 2000’s and some of the best landed in the past 10 years–  anime series that have very solid episodes.

10. Dennou Coil Episode 2

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  • PRODUCTION STUDIO: Madhouse Studios
  • DIRECTOR: Mitsuo Iso
  • EPISODE DIRECTOR: Kazuya Murata
  • MUSIC: Tsuneyoshi Saito

For its time, Dennou Coil was an astonishing imaginative anime series about children developing connections within the real world via augmented reality eyeglasses.  This was a show that was so captivating in how it portrayed its children, and the introspection into the adults way of life with technology at the fore front.  This episode not only was able to pull together a diverse collection of songs but also able to generate some of the wildest sound effects for 2007.

Isako’s role call with her virtual pets had one of the best musical pieces in the entire show, and we had very strange background effects to back this up!  After the first episode, this one successfully immersed us into its strange world by not telling us exactly what was going on with the download packets but showing especially towards the end there.

I really like how much the grandmother portrays the lightly tainted evilness against the virtual pets– illustrating the gap that children and adults have with the use of technology.  Fantastic episode and an abnormal mystery series that I highly recommend my readers to check out!

9. GOSICK Episode 12

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  • DIRECTOR: Hitoshi Nanba
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Kazuki Sakuraba
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Hinata Takeda [Original Character Designer]; Takashi Tomioka, Toshihiro Kawamoto [Character Designs for Anime]
  • EPISODE DIRECTOR: Jun’ichi Wada
  • MUSIC: Kotaro Nakagawa

It is a shame that Bandai Entertainment USA closed its doors right before this anime was to be released in 2012 of May as it would have been a huge success.  Would have loved to hear what the English dub would offer for this.

This was one of the best series to air in 2011 that had one of the coolest and catchiest opening songs.  Being one of my favorite shows of that year, it is a 1920’s mystery series that follows Japanese native Kazuya Kujo and the book worm Victorique de Blois going all around Europe to solve cases.  This show had its great share of awesome episodic adventures I really enjoyed the Levithan episodes, but this one episode had to be the best of the best as it took the mystery portions of the show and sidelined it to develop Kazuya to great lengths.  Aoi Yuki’s best voice work and the girl she portrays [Victorique] is very funny and authentic in her pretentious behavior.

It is summer vacation and Kazuya decides to decline a trip with Avril to stay with Victorique in their quiet days together.  He reflects on his childhood and why he studied abroad, and I’m very glad that we got this episode sooner rather than later we get a better view of how he’s able to solve the cases so headstrong.  Compared to Victorique’s intelligence it is a nice balance and this was an episode that took a break from all of this to define how compatible they are together.  Loved the rain scene as it shows how stubborn she is and how hard Kazuya tries to protect her.

8. Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales [Bakeneko Arc] Episode 11

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  • PRODUCTION STUDIO: Toei Animation
  • DIRECTOR: Kenji Nakamura
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Toei with Michiko Yokote
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Michiko Yokote
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Takashi Hashimoto
  • EPISODE DIRECTOR: Kenji Nakamura
  • MUSIC: Yasuharu Takanashi

Out of all the stories in Ayakashi this 3-part arc was my favorite, but to sum up which one had been the best out of the three it had to be the final episode–  as it had revealed so much by the end!  You might know Takahiro Sakurai as the voice of Psycho-Pass’ Shogo Makishima and Code Geass’ Suzaku Kururugi but here is probably one of his better roles– the medicine seller.  A mysterious traveling doctor in the same vein as Ginko from Mushishi but that he vanquishes demons sometimes using a hidden power, and it is in this third act that we see his bizarre design take form.

The story takes place during the Edo-period of Japan where a strange cat monster has a vendetta against a family, and the Medicine Seller unravels the corruption within the people of the household.  This was awesome, because for the first two act everything was fairly low-key but here we get to hear and see the ferocious monster that the family has plagued beyond despair, and the grudge it holds!

The Ukiyo-e style presented itself so well here and one the most realistic and tough scenes to watch had to be the part where the  members of the family were grotesquely murdered against the backdrop of the wall.  As horrible as it was it depicted the level of hatred this monster had held on for so many years, and the vast love it had for the woman that protected this lonely cat long ago.

7. Sakamichi no Apollon [Kids on the Slope] Episode 9

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  • DIRECTOR: Shinichiro Watanabe
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Yuuko Kakihara
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Takashi Hashimoto
  • MUSIC: Yoko Kanno

Could not have asked for a better staff to adapt the winner of the 57th Shogakukan Manga award of Yuki Kodama’s incredible coming-of-age love story between teenagers.  Studio MAPPA is making a big name for themselves especially this year with three projects under their belt–  Zankyou no TerrorGARO: Honoo no Kokuin and Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis.

This episode was fueled greatly by Kanno’s amazing skills at composing jazz pieces to enhance the love triangle that this show built up in the previous episode.  Sentaro’s heart-felt apology to Ritsuko very much showed the childhood bond they share and illustrated how different Kaoru was in the group.  He’s stuck on the fence between the classical piano training he had when he was a kid and this style of jazz that was slowly emerging inside of him.  This was the one episode that impressed me in terms of music because of how heavy handed it was in developing the angst of Sentaro towards Junichi stealing his woman Yurika.

The animation techniques that this show utilizes is called rotoscoping and here is where it paid off immensely.  The train scene at the end was the emotional component I had been wanting to see in this show–  Junichi finds his resolve to share his pain with Yurika a woman he has fallen deeply in love with.  That piano piece highlighted the balance of the parents disapproval to counteract the authenticity of the love that these two youths shared for each other.  Amazing episode!  Reminds me of the classic american romance films of the 40’s and 50’s.

6. PHANTOM: Requiem for the Phantom Episode 8

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  • DIRECTOR: Koichi Mashimo
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Gen Urobuchi
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Yousuke Kuroda
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Kimi Yanoguchi
  • EPISODE DIRECTOR: Tatsuya Takahashi
  • MUSIC: Hikaru Nanase

Oh, Bee Train where have you been lately?  Since Hyouge Mono which was an engaging realistic series about samurai living in the Sengoku period there has been this long absence of any anime produced by them.

The same director of that series helms Phantom, an action romance series about assassins.  I couldn’t have thought of anyone better than the music composer of Noein to write the music to this, all the tracks were astounding beautiful and somewhat haunting.  This was probably the strongest episode of the entire series, as it revealed Zwei’s real name and that the doctor was betraying the organization!  The doctor has so much drive to push Ein in following his orders worsens the situation here!

And this was just the tip of what happens here as McCunnen showing Zwei his passport before he had his memory wiped develops to the point where he even calls his real family in this episode!  It’s this level of sensuality that McCunnen gives off to Zwei that allows for his interest in learning of his past that much more alluring.

I think what amazed me the most about this episode was how Tatsuya Takahashi took a sensible approach at developing assassins that could lightly handle emotions.  The scene where Zwei taking the bullet out of Eren was breathtaking!

This was my favorite soundtrack of 2009!

 5. Cowboy Bebop Episode 24

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  • DIRECTOR: Shinichiro Watanabe
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Shinichiro Watanabe
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Keiko Nobumoto
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Toshihiro Kawamoto
  • EPISODE DIRECTOR: Tensai Okamura
  • MUSIC: Yoko Kanno

I bet some of you are surprised this didn’t make it higher on my list.  I do enjoy Bebop a lot but there were some better written episodes than what we had with this show.  As a whole this series surpassed everything I’ve seen since 2014, yet this episode was so emotional it could not be left out.

Faye Valentine the strongest female character of the show finally gets a chance at understanding her past.  We get to see the young girl she was so many years ago, and how the home that was destroyed would change who she was:  a hard luck woman that finds her own place in the world.  As much as this episode was about Faye, Tensai Okamura did wonders at seamlessly weaving in Ein’s father into the mix.  A computer genius of a hacker that when she finds her dad, is left in the most childlike state, and ends up leaving the Bebop with Ein.

A powerful episode of the two reoccurring women of the show that are both on entirely different journey’s in search of who they are and who they will become.  Yoko Kanno provided an awesome guitar rift in the beginning, and the end song Call Me Call Me sung by Steve Conte allowed a necessary finale to the story arc of these two people ending their adventures on the bebop.

 4. Mushishi Zoku Shou Episode 4

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  • DIRECTOR: Hiroshi Nagahama
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Yuki Urushibara
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Hiroshi Nagahama
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Yoshihiko Umakoshi
  • EPISODE DIRECTOR: Nobukage Kimura
  • MUSIC: Toshio Masuda

I would have said all of Mushishi Season 1 and Season 2, but this was my absolute favorite:  a story about a young man possessed by a mushi on his hand that lured animals for hunts and in turn had to sell rotten flesh.  Every episode of this show had spectacular sound effects that gave life to each Ginko tale, but this was haunting.  I believe what sold me were two scenes in particular–  at the very beginning when Ginko was unsure of what he saw at first and frightened by being unable to move noticed it was that of a man, his reaction was felt so genuine.  The second was how well cut this episode was, especially when the crows were attracted to his hand and in the end result took his arm.

Second out of this was Episode 6 with the beautiful woman living gaining eternal youth by a mushi and a generations of one family’s dark secret .  I love this series!

3. PSYCHO-PASS Episode 11

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  • DIRECTOR: Naoyoshi Shiotani
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Gen Urobuchi alongside Production I.G.
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Akira Amano [Original Character Designer]/ Kyoji Asano
  • EPISODE DIRECTOR: Hirotaka Endo
  • MUSIC: Yuugo Kanno

When this aired it has such an impact on me especially after seeing how the writers and the director here developed Yuki involved in the situation with Kogami and Makishima.  Katsumi Chou gave off this eery feeling of Senguji that reminded me a lot of the PM incident with the women from that one Ghost in the Shell episode.  Women in despair and the lack of oneself based on the ideals of robotics.

The inclusion of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy beautified the difference in the Sibyl System and hardened criminals to its core.  We’ve got a guy who’s seen war and sacrificed his body to live longer as a robot, to experience the thrill of killing, and alongside him is Shogo Makishima that poses an even bigger question against the system that is built in service with the Inspectors and Enforcers.  How can the system accept rational thinking killers?  Yuki’s cries for help as she is being tortured showed off the lack of humanity the show’s main villain Makishima has.

Heck the gunshots Akane fired off just proved how much the bureau at this point in the anime were useless with their Dominators.  A system that is constructed based on a trust that the people will be honest and unwavering in their emotions.

I am very curious to see how well Tatsunoko Production will handle the second season after the strong impression the first season made on me.

 2. Shinsekai Yori Episode 19

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  • DIRECTOR: Masashi Ishihama
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Yusuke Kishi
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: YORI [original character designer]/ Chikashi Kubota [Main character designer]
  • EPISODE DIRECTOR: Naomichi Yamato
  • MUSIC: Shigeo Komori

This is a series that classifies itself as an adventure fantasy series, but with this one episode it allowed for some of the best horror at least for me that I have ever seen.

We had a very talented animator on this, Takahashi Kojima.  As he made this episode probably the most beautiful episode of Shinsekai Yori surpass all the rest!  The facial expressions throughout this were tightly animated and drawn with such detail!  I would love to see this guy do the designs all the way through a horror series.

Genuinely scared the Doctor and the patients at the hospital were left haunted by the Friend’s attacks, and only wanted to escape from the hellish nightmare.  What was strange about this entire episode was how authentic the score had been.  Aside from Itsuka Tenma no Kurousagi, Shigeo has written close to nothing for a TV series but here he captured the scary scenes amazingly well!

The best part for me out of this was when Satoru, Saki and the others were hiding inside the room keeping the door tightly shut upon hearing the sounds of the Fiend’s footsteps.  Best sound effects for an episode I have ever heard!  Too bad the rest of the series could have pulled together so tightly as this was!

  1. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo Episode 11

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  • DIRECTOR: Mahiro Maeda
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Alexandre Dumas
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Natsuko Takahashi and Tomohiro Yamashita
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Mahiro Maeda [original character designer]/ Hidenori Matsubara [character designer]
  • EPISODE DIRECTOR: Michio Fukuda
  • MUSIC: Jean-Jacques Burnel, Koji Kasamatsu and Reiji Kitazato

I am a huge fan of Alexandre Dumas novels, as the story of Count of Monte Cristo is one of my favorites, and when I heard Gonzo would be adapting his novel I was feeling nothing but glee.

Going back to 2004 there were quite a few anime compared to today’s season standards that captivated me:  Samurai ChamplooBoogiepop PhantomParanoia Agent, the first three seasons of BLEACHGhost in the Shell 2nd GigMahou ShoujotaiGantzMONSTER, the list goes on including BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad and this.

The character designs are so lushous and those designs on every person’s outfit that moved were very detailed and unique.  I don’t think I have ever seen a show do something like this ever before or even after the fact!  This episode had so many people involved in such little time–  the car scene where Franz, Morrel, and Raoul de Chateau-Renaud kidnap Valentine, the Baron Danglars decision to break off Eugenie’s engagement to Albert and the culprit that tried to poison the Villeforts is finally revealed!

Albert offers the innocence in the show that suddenly right here dissolves as the Count discusses with him the inevitability of life, without coincidences.  Albert doesn’t show emotional here how he’s change but what we do see is the resolve in him to.  Fukuda did one heck of a job at creating this dynamic of Albert on the side of the Count, and Franz’ theories of the Count being more than what he is.  The conversation between them and Franz’ words about a deep darkness of the real Count is foreshadow enough that things are definitely NOT what they appear to be!

What made this episode have a huge emotional impact on me was the music, the direction with these classical pieces struck scene by scene so well!  When Heloise got exposed by his own husband for the poisonings where she was lying on the floor laughing against the mirrored moving pictures were a visual feast!

So with that ends my 200th blog post on Episode Direction and as we move into another season of anime I hope that there will be more that deliver such a strong impact like these anime episodes did.

Top 10 Best Anime Series


I have hit the 100-post mark on this blog! It is time to celebrate with another Top 10! I have mentioned my favorite anime series throughout my posts– and after having being at my 100th post–I feel this would be appropriate to discuss. This took me forever to figure out, as I had to watch a few series several times, here and there, to pick out details as to why I like a show more than another. I’ve been rewriting this list year after year, as it constantly changes. After the strong winter, spring, and now,summer 2014 season we’ve had, I would not be too surprised if some of these series end up on this list in the future. Keep in mind this is only my opinion.



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This series originally aired back in 2003, just as Arakawa’s manga was surging strong after about 2 years of running in Monthly Shonen Gangan. The plot was fantastic, and with its deviation from the manga, provided a justified anime-original ending. 2009 came along and when the announcement came that the series was being rebooted, I had high hopes for a faithful anime adaptation. This series is an incredible story for director Yasuhiro Irie has ,who has not directed much aside from Kurau: The Phantom Memory, but his vision for this series was astounding! We were introduced to the people of Xing, who were not even introduced into the original 2003 anime series.  The series opened with an anime-original episode to bring back the characters and feel of Full Metal. What a great idea! We jumped right into the action, and every episode was back-to-back, rarely having much of a recap.  The animation is still some of the best to this day; the choreographed fights (especially with Lin Yao and Bradley) developed some fluid animation styles not seen in a long-running series. BLEACH had its fair share of good fight scenes, but not all of them were as good, consistently, as this series was.  Sixty-four episodes in total, and there was not a single downfall in quality.  The delivery of the characters on-screen were so compelling it was nearly impossible to wait each week for the next episode, even though I was following the manga at the time!  The series sits on the list at #10 because it definitely is a revered series that I can re-watch anytime.  Highly recommend this series to anyone that is a fan of science fiction and action-adventure series.  If you enjoy Arakawa’s work here, I suggest checking out the agriculture series, Gin no Saji [Silver Spoon].  The ongoing manga and the two-season anime series  have been terrific in creating its characters ‘farming’ life.

If you like this you will also enjoy:

– Gin no Saji [Silver Spoon]

– Xam’d Lost Memories

– Eureka Seven




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One of the best opening animations and songs of 2011, Galileo Galilei’s, Aoi Shiori, was an awesome song–so fitting for this series, and now one of my favorite Japanese bands out there.  Coming up with this list was very difficult as I’ve seen more than 300 anime series over the years.  I enjoy a good balance between entertaining series and shows that have a lasting impression on me. There is no reason why this series would NOT be on this list.  Ano Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai or AnoHana for short, is quite a gem. This series follows the story of six childhood friends who drift apart after their friend, Menma, dies in an accident.  Ten years later, the leader of their group, Jinta, withdraws from society and becomes a recluse. The ghost of an older looking Menma is drawn to Jinta, asking him to fulfill her wish.  This series is probably one of the best and well-written emotional stories of tragedy of the past decade. The music by Remedios delivered some strong pieces during the high-intensity scenes that would otherwise have been left completely dry; the soundtrack is a definite and  integral part to this series. I can understand why this series aired on Noitamina.  The block was, and still is, known for airing more series directed with adult themes, tackling themes of death, and moving on after tragedy, were an essential part to this series. Seeing Menma through the eyes of [only Jinta was heart-wrenching to watch.  Great artistic take on this!

If you like this you will also enjoy:

– Usagi Drop [Bunny Drop]

– Natsuyuki Rendezvous

– Chihayafuru




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Another tough series to categorize, this would have placed much higher if it wasn’t for the overuse of quotes throughout. Oh Gen Urobuchi, you are doing this in Aldnoah Zero.  Can’t you learn to break away from that?  Anyway, the concept was fantastic. A futuristic setting where possible criminals could be arrested, killed, or sent to therapy if they held a high Crime Coefficient by the Dominators–sounds a bit similar to the Philip K. Dick novel, Minority Report, right?  Well, this branched on some of Dick’s ideas about criminals, but for the most part, was  entirely original.  What if one man upheld a crime coefficient that was always negated?  Interesting and intriguing plot to use here.  The music by Yugo Kanno was electronically pop- sounding when it needed to be, and the insertion of classical pieces, here and again, were memorable for the scenes that overlapped them.  Episode 11 is by far the best episode of the series.  Tightly animated, angles were crisp, the dialogue was heavy with plenty of action and the introduction of Makishima to the rookie Akane Tsunemori, at that point, was a great half-way point to all the previous crimes that were committed in the first half. If only this series would have maintained stronger animation in Episode 18, it would have remained consistently solid in its budget throughout. The ending was satisfactory and it was really cool to bring back a less important character in a role that will be largely played in the second season.

If you like this you will also enjoy:

– Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex


– Mardock Scramble




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If there was another show I would have to put above Nana that provided an introspect into the lives of musicians, it would most certainly be Nodame Cantabile. As for that series, it strongly depicted romance in a classic way. Nana, however, makes this list because of one aspect–it pulls together so much better than Nodame–that is, its characters and the way they grow throughout situations as the story progresses is so much greater. Nana Osaki is a punk singer, a lonely girl who is more emo than any female lead character I’ve ever seen. Not in the solemn depressing sense, but in the way she views herself as a young woman and what she can do for herself as well as others. Nana Komatsu starts off as a naive girl with so many hopes, who dreams of loving a prince charming, but everything falls through with her boyfriend  from the start.  As the two Nana’s meet, they move in together,  living  in apartment #707.  Maturing so differently,yet  blossoming in friendship that lasts a lifetime. This show has a larger cast, but not one character  outshines another!  Character development is where this series makes my Top 10 list. However, it is a shame this anime series couldn’t continue the ‘leftover’ story; the manga has progressed past the show due to Ai Yazawa’s health. I hope one day this series will see a reboot, asit is an authentic coming-of-age rock star masterpiece of young adult lives intertwining with its trials and tribulations–this series gradually pulls in throughout.

If you like this you will also enjoy:

– Paradise Kiss

– Nodame Cantabile

– Sakamichi no Apollon [Kids on the Slope]



Michiko e Hatchin

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This show was so good when it aired! The animation even to this day is still awesome! You can see Shinichiro Watanabe’s influence throughout every episode and I can just picture him directing this alongside Sayo Yamamoto! Granted he was the music producer and it really shows in all the compositions here, but I can see so many parts of this show where he would have laid down his ideas for the sake of the story! Kassin +2 a Brazilian band provided some unique songs to this show that impressively strengthen the series background. Set in Brazil, photography for the background animations were done in Brazil. Everything felt so genuine in each story! It would have been very cool to see this show turn episodic, rather than having a straight-forward plot. The story however was strong in the way it carried a hide and seek feel to it. Detective Atsuko after Michiko a wanted criminal and now having Hatchin under her belt didn’t help the situation for her. Hatchin did become a strong female in the end and you can see a mother/daughter relationship grow through their adventures of running away from police, drug dealers, and one of the best villains of 2008-2009 Satoshi Batista. This series was action-packed at times. There were also times when it was deep and slow moving that elaborated so much Michiko’s lost love. Especially seen in Episode 7. I feel like that episode had the best music production of any episode. Desencanto was a phenomenal song! I highly recommend this series for anyone who loves Brazilian culture, a passion for music, or just want to sit down and watch a strong, solid maturing story!

If you like this you will also enjoy:

– Phantom:Requiem for the Phantom

– Durarara!!

– Noir



Yojohan Shinwa Taikei [The Tatami Galaxy]

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It was either Uchoten Kazoku or this. I love all of Tomihiko’s works. His novels are a delight! Some are very adult themed and some can be crazy fun. Uchoten Kazoku is a fantastic quirky ride about family feuds and light-hearted adventures. PA Works did a great job animating that series! Yojohan Shinwa Taikei illustrated a great look at college life and how there are so many possibilities into creating our own futures. The ingenious part about adapting this novel is how well they pulled it off in 11 episodes. Noitamina was a perfect programming block to air this on because not only was it for adults it was mainly focused for college students understanding themselves and the lives they would lead into adulthood. This series was strongly episodic into Protagonist choosing a club. It was refreshing to see how the main character didn’t have a name, and yet he was the pivotal reason why I watched this show! Each episode was an alternate universe of Protagonist being in a completely different club with the same cast just in varied roles! The rest of the cast was funny but not as funny as this guy! His judgmental behavior on Ozu and his love for Akashi were just the tip of the iceberg of a strong comedy series. I could re-watch this show over and over again! Very funny. Madhouse provided the animation has been on a decline recently but this show has to be their best work they have ever done! It also helps that no other director could have done this series faithfully but Masaaki Yuasa. Such a creative mind telling a story about college youth! Great staff here developed an already well-written novel into a wonderfully colorful anime series! Also, the soundtrack by Ooshima is incredible!

If you like this you will also enjoy:

– Uchoten Kazoku

– Kuragehime

– Tsuritama




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My number 4 spot was extremely difficult to pick. I wanted to find a series that was full on drama with a small percentage of comedy and highly action-packed. How many series would match this criteria? Gungrave was an awesome mafia series at the beginning but managed to get strange when monster experimentation got thrown into the mix in the second half. Monster was a fantastic look at horror and drama interwoven as a mystery series. Strong large cast that were all part of the big picture in the grand scheme of things. However it didn’t make the list because it takes around 70 episodes to view the brilliance as a murder mystery series that this show is known for. Shinsekai Yori looked through the eyes of young kids that would grown into adults in an engineered world of telekinesis. The story, the music and its characters were strong throughout yet the animation was the one part of the show that remained inconsistent. I’ve got so many drama series I would have loved to have put up here, but there is one big reason why Mushishi ranks as my Top #4 Best anime series. Its authenticity. I’ve mentioned before in the season 2 posts that this show’s strong point is how everything from animation to music, to the entire atmosphere of a single plot in one episode comes together as one. The original season 1 and season 2 had such a subtle classic take on supernatural organisms that are all around us [Mushi] that can affect our lives because they are living out theirs just as they are. Each mushi is unique in how they try to continue on living. The series is episodic and can be watched in a random order without understanding any previous information. That is what is great about this show! It pulls you in with such subtly! A classic anthology of tales told in 24 minutes! Stories of people that fly up in the air and completely disappear, a boy growing horns to a traveling woman drying up villages of their water, to even chopping off heads and swapping them! This series has been consistently strong through each episode and so unique in how a story is told! I would recommend this series to anyone!

If you like this you will also enjoy:

– xxxHolic

– Serei no Moribito

– Natsume Yuujinchou




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It is no wonder why this series and Ghost Hunt are awesome series in the genre of horror. Both shows had really awesome sound effects, but Shiki maintained stronger because of its large cast and peculiar atmosphere. Fuyumi Ono is one heck of a strong writer! What is hilarious is how she is married to mystery novelist Yukito Ayatsuji. Does the name sound familiar? Well it should. He created the story behind the Another novels which had been adapted into a decent anime series. None of that guy’s works can touch the creativity that Ono has-especially in this series. This is without a doubt my favorite horror series. Shiki took the background of an isolated village and used that to its full potential so effectively! Another series with a large cast of characters- here is where we finally have a lengthy horror series that questions the compassion humans have for each other. Mushishi has a strong sense of human connection whereas this series rivals it by dismantling human nature. Not necessarily being influenced by mysterious living organisms but by the undead! I like how much the first half of this show depicts the livelihood of humans. The second half switches perspectives and portrays the vampires as the protagonists of the series. Obscure way to do this but it paid off greatly! The animation by Duame was the best animation for a horror series I could ever ask for! Loved this! Takanashi is strange composer. This is because he is all across the board with what is the definition of good composition and bad composition. Fairy Tail? Naruto? Really? There may be some good tracks on that but not everything laid down together perfectly into the story like Shiki did. I don’t know if he had some additional influence in piecing tracks but this show’s score was incredible!

If you like this you will also enjoy:

-Ghost Hunt






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Oh boy we are at this point of the list. This Top 10 was very tough to put together! My Top 5 followed a specific criteria. They not only had to be astounding at telling a story, continually maturing its characters, and having deep elements that keep that entire show from being stale. They had to be re-watchable. A series that introduced the school life aspect of a series done right was Utena. This show captured youth, love, and how much emotions can change over time. A series about two women falling in love- Utena and Anthy. There have been a few anime and manga that have tackled this genre right. Aoi Hana, Strawberry Panic, and the incredible manga Ohana Holoholo. Shows that have done it wrong were Sasameki Koto, Candy Boy, and the more recent Sakura Trick. All fan service infused without authentic romance to back it up. Revolutionary Girl Utena wasn’t just a story about yuri. It was more developed in mahou shojo. Sailor Moon hit acclaim with this side of a genre, but for me that series lacked performance in its voice acting, and it’s story fell flat a few times. [Hopefully, the new reboot will fix that] Utena managed exceedingly well with Ikuhara’s incredible directing skills. A series one in which that followed a beautiful tomboy turned prince. A charismatic and honest young woman with a naivety afraid of becoming a damsel in distress. The damsel in this was Anthy that was an astounding contrast to Utena. This revolutionized and fueled shows like Mawaru Penguindrum [another one of Ikuhara’s works], Star Driver and the more recent Captain Earth.

If you like this you will also enjoy:


– Mawaru Penguindrum

– Rose of Versailles




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Not much to say about this one. It’s popular, insanely popular. Anyone that has heard of anime has heard of this. This hasn’t changed in all the years I have seen anime. It might this year with Watanabe’s Zankyou no Terror but only time will tell with that one. Cowboy Bebop stands the test of time as the best anime series I have ever seen. Over-hyped in its initial run in the US. It actually failed when it first aired in Japan, and had trouble getting timeslots due to the graphic nature of the show. I cannot imagine what a show like Tokyo Ghoul or even Mouryou no Hako would have been in 1998. I remember seeing this series air on Cartoon network when I was younger-I believe it was back in 2001. By far the best English dub to an anime I’ve seen as well. Full Metal Alchemist and its reboot were both awesome but doesn’t take a candle to this show. If I recall it was the first anime series to air on Toonami’s Adult Swim programming block as well. This show knew what sort of story it needed to tell. It was a science fiction show that catered to the old days of western films and still to this day develops different values, and themes for different generations that watch it. Each episode- vastly different aside from the collection of episodes that are part 1 and part 2 of an ongoing plot between the main cast. Which is why this show captures its characters perfectly. An enjoyable ride that mixed the sounds of jazz with a futuristic yet classical illustration of action, comedy, romance, and bounty hunting. Haha! The pacing wasn’t ever flat either! Oh and then there’s the soundtrack. Incredible material Yoko Kanno provided. Her work on Sakamichi no Apollon into the realm of jazz was only garnered by Bebop’s successful musical score. Honestly even her work on Zankyou no Terror would not have been as good if not for Bebop. It’s quality directing, composing, and animation that pull everything together in Watanabe’s works. It’s like I said in my Zankyou post, everything is key to creating a Watanabe production. Bebop, Champloo, Apollon, Dandy, and Terror have all been amazing works of anime!  I would say if there would be any anime series to start out with it’s this!

If you like this you will also enjoy:

– Trigun

– Baccano!

– Outlaw Star


Top 10 Best Ending Animations


So now that I’ve been able to get a lot of the initial impressions out of the way, its time to go through some of my Top 10’s list. Last time I went through and discussed the best opening animations that have aired so far. Just like my previous post about OPs this is based on musical performance by artist with a combination of stylized animation techniques to provide an overall unique atmosphere that captures the anime series as a whole. Also, I want to add that the video above is from one of the more recent anime series to air, and the last post I wrote about: M3 Sono Kuroki Hagane. Great song and visual effects here! Now onto the Top 10 Best Ending Animations!

#10. Higashi no Eden [Eden of the East]

[Futuristic Imagination] by School Food Punishment

This was a very unique ending using cut outs to portray what the story of this series is about. I love the sidescrolling running effect they put on Saki in the very beginning. Really neat touch with the missle flying through. School Food Punishment was one of my favorite bands before they disbanded a few years back. Yumi Uchimura has a distinct voice that carries throughout her songs. She now sings for a new band La La Larks which is now in the featuring video above in this post. This song especially fit the tone of how mysterious the Selecao are and what sort of plot the system has for them. Interesting concept in the series that this ending utilized to its full potential.

#9. Guin Saga

[Saga ~ This is my Road] by Kanon

Epic is the best way to describe this here. The series was a testament to the older generation of anime series about adventure. Nadia of the Blue, Lupin the Third. Not in the way they were told but in their own stylistic intensity and large cast of characters. Guin Saga is like a revamped version of the 90’s anime Twelve Kingdoms in its storytelling. This song here was so beautifully done, and I can’t help but see Nobuo Uematsu who composed the soundtrack for this had a hand at writing the ED. Kanon was perfect for this, and her singing flowed through very well! Awesome series if you haven’t checked it out yet.


[Tokitsukasadoru Jūni no Meiyaku] by Yui Sakakibara

I really enjoyed this series a lot, and the music throughout was spectacular. The ending really allows for some mystery as to what is going on in the show. Yui Sakakibara invokes a strange feeling with her singing. The melismatic chords she sings pours into the overlaying melancholic sounds the instruments bring to this piece of music provides an astonishing and scary look into time travel whether forwards or backwards.


[MASK] by Aqua Timez

I unfortunately could not find a youtube video of this, and all that I could find. BLEACH has a lot of endings but I feel like this one stands above all the rest because of the visuals. This depicted Ichigo’s battle with his inner hollow, not knowing who he was or what he was doing, and this was great as a segway into one of the final arcs into this anime before ending at 366 episodes. Plus Aqua Timez does a nice job of giving an upbeat sound to a shonen series like this one.

#6. Natsuyuki Rendezvous

This series was one of the best Noitamina series to ever air. I am glad this series aired when it did, it fell in the summer lineup alongside Moyashimon second season. One light hearted comedy and one tear jerker of a series. This is what Noitamina should be doing more of! The use of the Josei genre! The voices were recorded prior to animation, which if I recall was the 3rd time this has ever been done. This ending song allowed the emotional roller-coaster ride that the story was to be told in a minute and half so gently. The animation here was beautiful and if you notice the plants that surround Ryosuke, Rokka, and Atsushi gave the picture that the story is set in very well. That the flower shop was really what tied them all together and ultimately defined who they were as individuals. Great series, and an awesome soundtrack too!

#5. Mahou Shoujotai

[DuDiDuWa*lalala] by KOTOKO

Such a unique series and song here! The vocals captured the essence of adventure not to mention the visuals here were great for their time remain a nice side-scroll to tell the story of mahou shoujo. The vocals are so strange!

#4. Michiko e Hatchin

[BEST FRIEND] by Karutetto

This song is so catchy for a hip hop song. I was surprised a song like this was used when this series aired. The setting is in a fictional country along the southern parts of South America. The hip hop is truly Watanabe’s presence as the music producer here. The backgrounds are visually stunning which allowed for a nice contrast to this anime series.

#3 Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

[MAGIA] by Kalafina

Oh Kalafina is one awesome band! This song and their vocals pulled on the theme of darkness that this series plays with nonstop here! This series was originally bright but the creators pulled a complete turn around and redefined the mahou shoujo genre! The animation, the story and the music all twisted up, and Kalafina could not have done a better job here! Great song and if you get a chance to see this series though it may be overrated is worth seeing every second of!


#2 Noir

[Kirei Na Kanjou] by Akino Arai

This is still one of my favorite songs in Japanese. Very relaxing to listen to like a lot of Akino Arai’s songs. The visual quality here was stunning especially for its time back in 2001. The animation was genius here because it showed the tone of the lighter side of this series among the main two girls being contract killers. Everyday life was the other aspect of this series that Mirelle and Kirika lived behind their killing ways. This ending was a great nod to that part of their life.

#1. Mushishi

[All Endings] by Toshio Masuda

You probably looked at this list and thought “Cowboy Bebop’s ending Real Folk Blues really? Its not on here?” Granted I do give the series praise for everything it has to offer, and the ending is fantastic, it just doesn’t touch the level that these 10 ending songs provided in capturing an essence of japanese anime. In this case, Mushishi put storytelling to a whole new level not just throught its adaptation in animation but through its music.  Note, this video is from the second season 1st episode’s ending. I could not find an ending from the first season, pretty hard to come by. There really is no way I couldn’t put this in here, yet I had no clue where to fit this on this list. All the episodes that both season 1, the OVA, and the second season so far has been completely different. The endings do however allow one main theme to convey. Like I have said before in my previous Mushishi posts. Authenticity. These stories are spread in a rather up and down timeline according to how the anime goes with the manga, and yet the music even throughout each episode delivers an aura unlike any series I’ve seen before. Whether its sadness, heartbreak, joy, curiosity, many feelings that the characters in this series reached could not have been done without its soundtrack. The endings allow for even more of these tales to be told in an entirely different medium of entertainment. Stories that are seen and told not just through animation but through sound they somehow achieved an astounding feat! Incredible!


Mushishi [95/100]


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With Season 2 just beginning it would be appropriate to talk about Season 1. This series was so original for its time, and still remains that way almost 10 years later! I will keep this short and sweet. This is more of an introductory piece about Season 1 of Mushishi. This series is astounding! Since 2005, Mushishi has been in my Top 10 Best Anime Series. Whenever I think of an anime to relax to I think of Mushishi…

Continue reading Mushishi [95/100]

Top 10 Best Opening Animations

The video above is the Opening to Space Dandy, love this song and the animation so I think it fits the message I am getting across in this post. So I figured I add something a little bit different to this site, and put up my Top Favorites from Anime series based on different criteria. I have seen about 200+ anime series and I listen to Japanese and Korean music extensively. So to start this list I will begin with the Top 10 Best Anime Opening Animations. This is based on musical performance by artist with a combination of stylized animation techniques to provide an overall unique atmosphere that captures the anime series as a whole. Here goes…

Continue reading Top 10 Best Opening Animations