Animation Production – Studio Fantasia
Director – Mitsuko Kase
Saikano director Mitsuko Kase brings us Crystal Blaze a science fiction story involving genetic experiments to create super humans for war purposes. The focus is on a detective agency pursuing this case.
This is a very average show, it involves a range of typical anime stereotypes that make this a completely unimaginative show. There’s an evil scientist, perverted doctor, cosplaying & cross dressing characters. The main hook of the show is the mystery surrounding these genetically modified young women which the failed experiments turn into crystal with a blaze and quickly disintegrate.
One positive from the show comes in the final episode where you can see a car fly into a helicopter as it’s gas tank is being shot. Other than that I find it hard to recommend this show to anyone. There are better shows that deal with the supernatural such as Darker than Black which also has detective and mystery elements.
Rating – C
Genre – Science Fiction, Mystery Length – 12 Episode series Year – 2008
Currently not licensed in the US, English name is Glass Maiden however Fuji Creative Corporation has not been successful in licensing in the US.
Animation Production – Studio 4C
Director – Hiroshi Nagahama
This a show that is based on the Detroit Metal City manga which is fairly popular in Japan and has been licenced by Viz. It is about an indie death metal band led by Krauser II. Director Hiroshi Nagahama most notably directed Mushishi, a show everyone should watch. Studio 4C known for their distinctive art style and techniques does the animation production.
The draw of the show is the crazy depiction of a metal band rising from indie obscurity to the top in Japan. Soichi Negichi is the legendary Krauser II despite his opposite musical tastes (Negishi is into swedish pop). The other members of the band are just as bizarre. In the screen cap above Krauser is the one in the middle, the drummer on the left and the other guitarist on the right.
As you would expect the comedy is the crude vulgar kind. It is however a short series that involves twelve 14 minute episodes. This benefits this show as the comedy doesn’t have time to get old. The animation style is interesting with distinctive character designs and the changes in aspect ratios (wide, 4:3).
Rating – B +
Genre – Music, Comedy Episodes – 12 (14 minutes each) Year – 2008
Currently not licensed in the US
Adapted from manga
Animation Production – Toei Animation
Director – Konosuke Uda
This is a romantic comedy if you didn’t already guess by the title. Every once in a while I watch once of these types of shows (Nodame Cantabile, Honey and Clover) and I never seem to be disappointed. I find it much more easy to blast through a series of this genre. Lovely Complex has a stylized and colorful art style which compliments the nature of the characters well. It is the work of Toei Animation and the experienced One Piece director Konosuke Uda.
The comedy in this anime is enjoyable but it does surround the singular concept of a tall girl and short boy couple which may seem repetitive to some. The greatest strength of this show comes from the relationship portrayal of friend to lover, rejection and perseverance. It is done so genuinely and sweetly that few other shows of the genre can match.
Nearing the end of the show some rivals are thrown into the mix which I’m not too sure what to think. Do they add to the plot or are they just filler? Despite this there is a satisfying conclusion that you only seem to get with romantic comedies.
Rating – A-
Genre – Romance, Comedy Episodes – 24 Year – 2007
Currently not licensed in the US
Lupin the third is the successful long running series originally created by Kazuhiko Kato or more well known as Monkey Punch. However the concept of Lupin came from Maurice Leblanc.
The manga started serialization in 1967 which took inspiration from Leblanc’s stories in the early 1900’s. The original 1971 TV series consisted of 23 episodes and was followed by the 155 episode Lupin the Third part 2 from 1977-80. The last TV series was from 1984-85 consisting of 50 episodes.
There have been many movies and TV specials with the most notable being Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro directed by Hayao Miyazaki in 1979. This is one of my favorite movies of all time. Additionally I’ve watched all of the first season which was directed in part by Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.
Lupin III is a thief and along with his partners the sharpshooter Jigen, Samurai Goemon and fellow thief Fujiko perform heists and deal with the troubles that arise. They are shadowed by detective Zenigata who is charged with catching Lupin.
Director – Yuchiro Yano
Animation Production – Shirogumi Inc.
This is the type of show that I very much enjoy, it is the definition of a niche show that takes a concept and builds an anime around it. The director Yuchiro Yano it not very well known but one of the other shows he has directed (Mujin Wakusei Survive) has me interested.
The show involves science/micro biology set in an agriculture university in Tokyo. The focus of the show is centered around a young man who can see microbes. This ability makes him a wanted man as others want to utilize it for various scientific and monetary gains. However it is a light hearted show with plenty of comedy while making the science aspects interesting.
Other notable points about this show is the exploration of university life in Japan and what an agriculture university would be like. It manages to throw in the theme of choices in life which is relevant to almost all the characters in the anime.
It is a short show leaving plenty of questions unanswered while there is no second season announced. They go so far as to say that after the 11th episode that it was the final episode of the series. The problem with a short episode count with these sort of shows (slice of life) is that there isn’t enough time to develop characters. But the comedic and bizarre elements of the show along with the science aspect are what I enjoy about it. I can’t recommend this to everyone but if what you have read so far interests you it is a must watch.
Side note Shirogumi is a animation and special effects studio. Only other previous anime work has been on Antique Bakery. They have worked on movies and game cut scenes such as in Soul Calibur 3, Baten Kaitos and FF7 Dirge of Cerberus.
Rating – B+
Genre – Comedy, Slice of Life Episodes – 11 Year – 2007
Currently not licensed in the U.S.
Animation Production – J.C. Staff
Director – Kenichi Kasai
Nodame Cantabile is a show that has become quite popular in Japan. It’s popularity have merited a second season in 2008 and 3rd season to be aired in 2009. Honey and Clover director Kenichi Kasai explores the world of classical music through the students of a Japanese music academy.
The beauty of this anime is in the music. Despite your musical tastes you will learn to appreciate classical music more by watching this. It explores a world that is foreign to most of us in a way that is entertaining and interesting. I found myself seeking more about the music and composers of classical music.
Most people will also comment on the strength of the characters in this series. The interaction between the leads Nodame and Chiaki are hilarious and are not the typical romantic comedy troupes. However it is a series more about music than romance. The side characters in the show may be stereotypical but do provide a different dimension to the comedy.
Rating – A
Genre – Music, School, Comedy, Romance Length – 23 Episode series Year – 2007
Currently not licensed in the US, Adapted from manga
Animation Production – Brains Base
Director – Kou Matsuo
Based on a light novel series this show is about Kurenai Shinkurou a 16 year old high school student in a modern day japan. Shinkuro has been trained in martial arts and works as a mediator sent to resolve disputes. The series revolves around 1 job where he is to protect a young girl of an influential family. Director Kou Matsuo is most notable for directing the Rozen Maiden series.
This show was not what I had expected, it is very much a comedy as it is an action drama. The twelve episodes keep the story flowing and highly compelling. It deals with the concept of growing up on two fronts with the two main characters which result in both humorous and dramatic outcomes.
I very much enjoyed the comedic moments of the show which encompass the issues that arise from a person that has been highly sheltered now forced to live in a relatively poor environment. The side characters are excellent providing variety in the comedic approaches. The show does a good job of characterization which allows it to be serious when it wants to.
This is very much an underrated show that would appeal to a wide range of anime fans. But be warned people who have no heart will not enjoy this show at all.
Rating – A
Genre – Drama, Action, School, Coming of Age, Comedy Length – 12 Episode Series Year – 2008
Currently not licensed in the US. Originally light novel, adapted into manga then anime