Archive for October, 2013

Anime Review: Guyver the Bio-Boosted Armor

Note: This review refers to the 2005 remake of the anime, not the original OVA.
gbGenre: Superhero/Sci-fi

Creator/Studio: Yoshiyuki Takaya/OLM

Distributor: FUNimation

Suggested Age: 17+

My Rating: 5/10

No. of Episodes: 26

Summary: Sho Fukumachi is a high school student who happens upon a biologically sentient armor that allows him to become the Guyver. The Guyver is actually an experiment conducted by the enigmatic company called Chronos, who is dispatching monsters called Zoanoids to further world domination. This causes him to become a target and he must now defend his family and friends from the Zoanoids.

Review: This series actually seemed promising at first.  I’m somewhat familiar with the tokatsu/sentai programs, having occasionally looked at Power Rangers in its various forms (the most recent one I watched was Power Rangers SPD) .  This is a tribute to the tokatsu genre, so I thought why not check it out.

Sho is a great hero.  He cares a great deal for his family. Like a certain friendly neighborhood webslinger, he sees the responsibility his new powers have given him.  I like the theme of this newfound responsibility a lot.

Tetsuro is Sho’s lifelong friend.  He’s a typical geek, but his knowledge of sci-fi conventions comes in handy.  Mizuki, his younger sister, plays the romantic interest/distressed damsel trope for Sho.

My main problem with the program is that about halfway through, I could see where it was heading.  The manga it’s based on isn’t finished, and to make matters worse, the creator’s health isn’t so good.  The anime is incomplete as a result. (This is the third title I’ve seen from OLM that hasn’t been resolved) I couldn’t enjoy it as a result. 

Let me put it this way, folks.  I rarely, if ever, read manga. So when an anime tacks on an original ending, I don’t mind.  Unfinished anime don’t encourage me to read the accompanying manga to find out what’s happened.  All it does is waste my time.

Sub/Dub: I thought it was pretty good in dubbed form.

Music/Score: The opening theme was pretty good, but I didn’t much care for the closing theme.

Violence: (7/10) The Guyver unit can obliterate its enemies in quite gruesome fashion.

Language: (2/10)

Sexuality: (0/10)

Nudity: (1/10)–Except for the fact that Sho is naked when the Guyver unit releases its hold on him, there’s nothing to worry about.

Religion: (0/10)

Related Media: This is based on the manga Guyver the Bio-Boosted Armor, which is published in America by Viz.  There was an OVA back in the 90’s, as well as a live-action “adaptation” (note the quotes) that starred Mark Hammil. Yes, that Mark Hammil.

 

 

 

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Anime Review: Kemono no Souja Erin

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Genre: Fantasy

Creator/Studio: Nahoko Uehashi (writer of light novels)/Production IG

Distributor: Streaming on Crunchy Roll (note: Crunchy Roll calls it simply “Erin”)

No. of Episodes: 50

Suggested Age: 7+

My Rating: 10/10

Summary: A little green-haired girl named Erin lives in a village named Ake with her mother, Soyon.  Soyon is the head doctor of the dragon-like Touda. When Soyon’s objections against the Touda being used for war come to light, she is sentenced to death, but sacrifices herself to save her child.  The story follows Erin’s story as she attempts to lead a life following in her mother’s path.

Review: One thing I love about watching anime on the Internet is that I often find titles that I feel deserve more attention.  Kemono no Souja Erin (translated into English: “Beast Player Erin”) is one such title.

The animation is very well done.  Production IG has a very good track record, consisting of such titles as Ghost in the Shell and Blood the Last Vampire.

Erin is an adorable heroine right from the start.  She is a high-spirited child. I enjoyed her far-too-brief relationship with her mother. What I like best about this story is how it develops her character. We see her grow from an innocent child into a teenager, eager to learn how to take care of animals.

We are also introduced to Joh-on, who is a jolly bee-keeper and becomes Erin’s surrogate father when she runs from the village after her mother is executed.  He was a great character, despite the constant farts.  There’s also Nuk and Mok, two annoying thieving brothers who fail at comic relief.

We’re also often following the side story of the Shin-Oh, who are the royal family.  They are treated idealistically, with the exception of Duke Damiya, a cunning man who serves as the villain.  And I should certainly mention Ia-lu, the enigmatic Seian, or bodyguard, of the Shin-Oh, who befriends Erin early on.  He has a mysterious past that parallels Erin’s and is dedicated to protecting the royalty.

I cannot recommend this story enough.  It’s great for those who enjoy a good saga.

Sub/Dub: This series has yet to be translated.

Music/Score: The music is quite cheerful. I especially liked the original version of the opening and the closing theme.

Violence: (5/10) I gave it the 7+ rating because I’ve seen some live-action fantasy as a kid and the violence is comparable to what I saw in those and in books such as Percy Jackson and Harry Potter. If your child is able to handle those stories, this one shouldn’t be a problem.

Language: (2/10)

Sexuality: (0/10)

Nudity: (0/10)

Religion: (0/10)

Related Media: This is based on the light novels by Nahoko Uehashi, who also wrote Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit.

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Anime Review: Rebuild of Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone

eva1Genre: Mech

Creator/Studio: Hideaki Anno/Gainax

Distributor: FUNimation

Running Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

Suggested Age: 17+

My Rating: 10/10

Summary: This is the first part in a four-part reboot of Hideaki Anno’s masterpiece Neon Genesis Evangelion. While the story is still basically the same, many details have been changed. This part focuses on the first six episodes of the TV series.

Review: When Hideaki Anno originally created Neon Genesis Evangelion it reflected his state of mind. He was fighting fits of depression, which made the story very dark. He even lashed out at the fans when they said they didn’t like the ending, leading to End of Evangelion. Thanks to some therapy (and a marriage) , Anno has decided to reinvent his classic series, this time with a more stable frame of mind. Just don’t expect sunshine and roses. It wouldn’t be Evangelion without some angst.

The animation is done on a bigger budget than the TV series, and it shows. Not that it was bad before, far from it. But it looks even better with the usage of current technology, particularly in the battles.

While some details are the same, it should be noted that the story is more optimistic. Misato is perhaps the biggest change I noticed. She is much kinder to Shinji this time and seems more motherly. Sure, she’ll still admonish him when he gets out of line, but she clearly sympathizes with him.

This is a great start and I’m eager to see what other changes are made.  If you liked the original and are curious to see what’s being done, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this too.

Sub/Dub: I only watched the dub, but I liked it.

Music/Score: Very good, just like the original’s.

Violence: (8/10) It’s still as graphic as the original.

Nudity: (2/10) We see the same shower scene with Shinji and Pen-pen again.

Religion: (9/10) The enemies are angels and they still turn into crosses when they explode. Despite the more optimistic feel, there is still a nearly blasphemous treatment of Christianity.

Sexuality: (1/10) Some frank sexual humor.

Related Media: There is the original series, a manga, and the original movies. There are two more parts to Rebuild available, and I will be reviewing Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance next year.

 

 

 

 

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Anime Review: Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood

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Genre: Sci-fi/Fantasy

Creator/Studio: Himoru Arakawa/Bones

Distributor: FUNimation, streams on Hulu

No. of Episodes: 64

Suggested Age: 13+

My Rating: 10/10

Summary: Edward Elric is the “Fullmetal Alchemist.” When he was a boy, he and his brother Alphonse attempted the ultimate taboo when they dared to resurrect their dead mother.  As a result, he lost his arm and nearly lost his brother.  He and his brother now search for the fabled Philosopher’s Stone to reverse these effects.  Hot in pursuit are a group of homunculi led by the enigmatic Father. This is a retelling of the original series, adding in material that was not included in it.

Review: Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood is probably my new all-time favorite anime series.  It is an excellent cast, including originally manga-exclusive characters; action; and great writing.

Edward Elric is my #1 hero.Think about this–he has lost so much–his mother, his arm, his brother’s body–yet he still fights. He eventually realizes that no one should have the Philosopher’s Stone, and this causes him to change his goal: to right the wrongs caused by those who would use it for evil purposes.

Alphonse is practically Edward’s moral compass: he does what he can to assist his brother and keep him on the right path.  But is he a true person, or just a suit of armor with false memories? These questions plague an otherwise kind, innocent, and scared boy.

Winry is Ed’s girlfriend.  I enjoy their relationship. It’s probably one of the most realistically handled romances I’ve seen.  She tries her best to be a shoulder for Ed and Al, encouraging him on and repairing him both mentally and physically.

Roy Mustang, Ed’s commanding officer, is just pure awesome. Nothing stops this guy. I love how he plans everything out with precision, even willing to use his own officers like chess pieces to achieve his goal to usurp the evil government.

The villains are equally as intriguing.  Not only are they patterned after the seven deadly sins, but when you think about it, their powers make sense.  Gluttony has an insatiable appetite and can eat anything! Lust uses her beauty to entice others to do her wishes.  Greed’s body is an impenetrable shield, allowing him the best way to protect his possessions–and to him, that’s everything and everyone.  Sloth is big and fast–the better to finish assigned and bothersome tasks.  Envy can change shape, allowing it to obtain what it desires. I can’t tell you about Pride and Wrath because they are walking spoilers.

The new additions are very welcome, even if you haven’t read the manga.  (I haven’t) I especially like Lin, who values his bodyguards so much, he gets angry at them when they put their lives on the line for him.  He does not want to deal with the grief that would result from their loss.

My sole complaint is that the first 16 episodes feel as though they are moving too quickly and don’t let the story breathe.  I understand that the team wanted to quickly go through what the original anime had established, but I still think they could’ve spent a little more time on some material.

Bottom line–whether you’ve seen the original or not, you should certainly watch this series.

Sub/Dub: I prefer the dub. Ed’s Japanese voice just doesn’t sound right to me.

 

Music/Score: While I like the original’s music better, this version’s music is pretty good.

Violence: (6/10) The series is far from needlessly violent.  I felt it showed us how the villains considered those underneath them nothing more than fuel for their schemes.

Language: (3/10)

Sexuality: (3/10) Some mild references, but not much else.

Nudity: (3/10) Winry’s outfit does show her midriff, but I feel her proportions are far from exaggerated and I think her outfit is actually rather modest.  Lust does show a little bit of skin, but I think it helps define her character.

Religion: (5/10) Alchemy is treated as an actual science rather than a form of magic.  While Edward scoffs at the idea of religion when he encounters a corrupt cleric at the beginning of the series, it should be noted that he is far from an example of the correct way for a Christian to behave.  What I like best about this story is its overall theme of sacrifice: are there things that are worth sacrificing for a cause, or are there limitations? Especially good is the idea behind the taboo on human transmutation: that nothing is more valuable than a soul.

 

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