A new page has been added!

If you have ever wondered which anime I have already watched, I’ve added a new page on the website which lists every single anime series and movie watched by me. There are a few things I probably shouldn’t reveal that I’ve watched but it’s all there, for transparency sake and your entertainment.

So far I have watched 125 shows and movies that can be considered as anime. Its listed in an A to Z format since I don’t know the exact order I’ve watched them in but I believe Cowboy Bebop and Evangelion where among the first. My favourite older movie is either The Castle in the Sky or The Castle of Cagliostro, and favourite newer movie is The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Favourite TV series are Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell SAC. The absolute worst show I have watched is Shuffle.


Spice and Wolf Season 2 Review (TV)

DirectorTakeo Takahashi

Animation ProductionBrain’s Base

Brain’s Base is getting a lot of attention now with the excellent Durarara!!, but before this have done some other well-regarded series such as Baccano, Kurenai and the first season of Spice and Wolf. If anything Spice and Wolf is an interesting premise for a show that on the surface seem dull. With Brain Base’s excellent ability to craft a story they are able to make the life of a merchant trader in the medieval times full of drama and suspense. The second season of Spice and Wolf continues the same formula with merchant Kraft Lawrence and companion wolf god Horo going town to town making high risk trades. In this season there is an overall plot of Horo wanting to return back to her home town of Yoitsu, but this doesn’t happen in S2 so expect at least another season in the future. In fact in this season there are really only two arcs each 6 episodes which surround two different towns and trades.

I found that one the biggest draws of the show for me was the medieval fantasy setting. Seeing the architecture, churches, roads and the lifestyle in this time period is always interesting. It is all beautifully animated and has great detailed still shots every so often (some included in the screenshot gallery). Unlike other shows with a fantasy setting you get a different perspective of the period as you are following a merchant and not a warrior. You get a view into the lifestyle of merchants which is full of bartering, relationships, tricks and opportunities. In particular you get a good sense of the mind games that are played between merchants. For example they talk about future contracts in episode 4 along with some basic economics principles and market manipulation.

The romantic element of the show involving Lawrence and Horo is genuinely played out with enjoyable dialogue and dynamic between the two. Lawrence is less awkward this season as he has more confidence and ability to make quick comments and remarks.

Overall an enjoyable show, nothing that stands out as unbearable but also nothing spectacular.

Rating – B+

Year – 2009 Length – 12 Episodes

Genre – Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Romance

What we know about Studio Ghibli’s upcoming game Ni no Kuni

Ni no Kuni (“The another world“) is the upcoming Nintendo DS games developed by Level-5 (developer of Professor Layton and Dragon Quest series) and Studio Ghibli. It is being touted as the first game by Studio Ghibli where they will have heavy involvement in the game’s development as is already clear from the images that have been released. The animation is definitely in the Ghibli style and we can expect to story to also be also crafted by the experts at Studio Ghibli. It will be interesting how they will adapt their storytelling techniques to a video game and how well the cut scenes integrate will general gameplay.

What we know about the story: The main character is Oliver, a 13 year old boy, whose mother has recently died. A faerie, named Shizuku, appears from a doll given to him by his mother and gives him a magic book which allows him to travel to a parallel world, ni no kuni. The city he lives in Hotroit, loosely based on some aspects of Detroit, is an industrial city famous for automobile manufacturing. IGN did a write up in 2009 on the characters of Ni no Kuni:

When Oliver and Shizuku enter Ni no Kuni, they first come to Goronel Kingdom, which is ruled by Nyandal the 14th, a lazy cat. The people of Goronel are apparently troubled by their leader’s laziness, as Oliver learns by speaking with the citizens. As previously detailed, the people Oliver encounters in the Ni no Kuni world are all variations of people from the real world. Oliver himself takes on the clothes of an adventurer when in Ni no Kuni, although it appears that his name remains the same. Layla, a lady who sells milk in the real world, becomes Kaula, the Queen of Vavalencia who has an insatiable appetite. Nyandal the 14th is, in the real world, a neighborhood cat named Frank. Those characters were all previously announced. The latest Famitsu report offers a look at Marl, a fearless girl who loves to sing and ends up adventuring alongside Oliver. In the real world, Marl is Shelly, a girl who’s sick and cannot go outside. Oliver also meets a talking rat named Magooru. In the real world, Magooru is Mark, Oliver’s buddy. As with the characters, you’ll end up finding some parallels between the city of Hotroit and the world of Ni no Kuni.” (May 2009 IGN)

The game is an adventure/RPG and battles involve Oliver’s magic book where you cast spells by drawing them with the stylus. Ni no Kuni is also going to be released on an unannounced console where it was said that it will be a different experience not just a port. When announced in 2008 it was set to be released in 2009, but has been delayed. By the recent screenshots in Famitsu it’s release could come by the end of the year.

Kotaku has some clips of the opening cinematic and gameplay.

Cromartie High School Review (TV)

DirectorHiroaki Sakurai

Animation ProductionProduction I.G.

Genre – Comedy

Cromartie High School is one of those shows that requires you be an old-school fan of anime and manga if you are going to get the most enjoyment out of it. It is a comedy that parodies the juvenile delinquent (yankii) manga of the 70s and 80s as well as using many pop culture references of that time period. The TV series was adapted from Eiji Nonaka’s Kodansha award-winning manga (tied with Beck in the Shonen group in 2002) by Production I.G and TV Tokyo. It was broadcast in the US on Tech TV’s (now known as G4) anime programming block and the DVD was released in 2005 by ADV.

The first thing that comes up at the start of every episode is this tagline “Dear viewers sitting in front of the television the guys that appear in this anime are delinquents. So please do not under any circumstances imitate what you see in this anime, or you will end up like this (in jail).” So straight away you know it is a comedy and it is going to involve delinquent high school students, other than this I didn’t know what to expect. But when watching the opening credits animation for the first time three characters that stand out; a gorilla, a robot and a someone who looks like Freddie Mercury that are attending this school. The main character is Takashi Kamiyama a normal student among a school full of delinquents and acts as a sort of arbiter in many of the bizarre situations that occur.

The show is pretty much a string of different situations with very little overarching plot that are enclosed in short 12 minute episodes. It’s joke after joke like a sketch show and since there is very little continuity the episodes are almost standalone. The general theme of the comedy is making fun of the delinquents who deep down aren’t really tough guys and have some sort of problem or other ambitions (i.e. motion sickness, become a comedian). But I have to admit most of this goes over my head as I am not familiar with the juvenile delinquent genre. Most of my enjoyment in the show comes from the gorilla, robot and Freddie and there are plenty of episodes that surround these characters. For example the gorilla becomes a sushi chef, the robot is scrapped and repaired into a motorcycle and Freddie pops up all over the place. I don’t know what it is but seeing Freddie Mercury pop up and never talk but doing things like riding a horse to school or acting manly is hilarious. So this is Cromartie High School a quirky, irrelevant and very Japanese comedy anime that should definitely be watched if you are familiar with what they are parodying. However if you are like me your enjoyment may vary.

Rating – B

Year – 2003-04 Length – 26 episodes 12 minutes each

Bakemonogatari Review (TV)

DirectorTatsuya Oishi

Animation ProductionShaft

Bakemonogatari is a spectacularly stylish and eerie series similar in tone to other atmospheric shows such as Ghost Hound and Paranoia Agent.

Based on the light novel by Nisio Isin, Bakemonogatari (lit. ghost story) is about Koyomi Araragi, a final year high school student, who deals with supernatural beings. After recovering from an undead state as a result of a vampire attack, Araragi has retained the ability to quickly recover from any physical harm. He now works with Oshino Meme an expert on vanquishing the supernatural. The 12 episodes involve Araragi’s encounter with different spirits that have inhabited other humans.

The supernatural spirits manifest in people as a result of some deep emotion problems, for example we first are introduced to Hitagi Senjougahara, who has become nearly weightless. Araragi discovers this when he catches her while she is falling down stairs at school (some really long, winding abstract looking stairs). Senjougahara for some reason is also able to hide a multitude of stationary which she uses aggressively to keep her secret and to make her point she jams a staple onto Araragi’s mouth. This serves as an introduction to the supernatural elements of the show and the recovery power of Araragi. The great thing about Senjougahara’s character is that there are many layers to her and as the series progress we learn that she is an emotionally scarred but independent girl lacking social interaction until meeting Araragi.

The animation style of the show is very interesting as it uses a range of different colours, frames of view and abstractions. It is very artistic in the way all of this is brought together as it keeps the viewer engaged since the show is mostly conversations. Something that is distinct in the show is that during the conversations, a frame of animation with text on a single colour background will pop up sometimes related to the emotions going on or something seemingly unrelated and random. Eerie real life footage also shows up, cementing its attempt to be abstract and adhere to a modern art style. Some episodes like the first use black and white, shadows and a sepia tone while others are colourful. The show rarely seems bland animation wise and this is probably due to the fact that you rarely see other characters except those you are introduced to. It is very clear that a lot of care went into the animation to the extent that every frame tries to do something intriguing.

One of the few problems I had with the show involved the moe characters in a few of the episodes. They might have tried to be humorous and ironic but it was painful to watch. The other attempts at humour were more successful making use of awkward pauses, weird situations, bending cliché’s (usually by adding over the top violence), and unexpected turns in conversations. One final thing to mention is how well it ends, the final episode is surreal for 3/4 of the episode and then ends in an absolutely heart warming conclusion. Shows rarely pull off a satisfying pleasant ending but Bakemonogatari does.

Rating – A

Year – 2009 Length – 12 episodes

Genres – Mystery, Supernatural, Romance, Action, Dark Comedy

Note: There are an additional 3 web only episodes that I haven’t seen yet.