Dan Carroll

May 222018
 

While I’d been an anime fan for roughly five years by the time 1999 rolled around, I saw none of the following series during the year of their release. Most of these series are ones I bought on DVD when they were released a year or two later in the States. I was probably buying episodes of Cowboy Bebop on VHS while these series were airing in Japan, so if I wanted to make a 1999 list from my own perspective it’d probably be Bebop and Those Who Hunt Elves or something like that.

That’s not how these lists work, so here’s the shit from that year that I didn’t even see that year but makes up my list of best series from that year. Yeah.

10. Ojamajo DoReMi

I haven’t seen a whole lot of this series. Just a few episodes here and there, and mostly unsubbed. It’s typical magical girl fare aimed at actual little girls, but it had a good amount of charm to it. It was more about the girls getting powers and doing stupid stuff rather than fighting monsters and saving the world, at least the few episodes I saw, and that’s pretty cool. It also has a kick-ass disco theme song, and that’s the main reason why it’s on this list. Seriously, it’s probably one of my top ten favorite anime theme songs.

9. Excel Saga

Excel Saga doesn’t always work. Hell, it kinda flounders most of the time, repeating jokes that weren’t all that funny initially. But every now and then it manages to turn out some brilliant shit. The episode where Menchi goes off on her own is bizarre, what with the character designs becoming more and more anthropomorphized as the episode progresses. And I gotta give it props for keeping things relatively fresh, since the topic of ridicule changes with every episode. The series also advocates eating your pets in times of duress. That’s an important strategy to know in these trying times. Excel Saga was quite the forward thinker.

8. Reign: The Conqueror

Can I defend my love for this series? Nope, don’t think so. It all stems from my irrational love for Aeon Flux. Reign has character designs by the guy who created Aeon Flux. That creates an association in my mind that keeps me from being able to see this series in any other light. I know people say it’s horrible. I don’t give a damn. I like its weird take on the Alexander the Great story. I love the creepy, absurdly thin character designs. But fuck it. I’m gonna be all defensive about this. I like Reign: The Conqueror.

 

7. Ruroni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen

This is the only part of the Kenshin storyline that I can tolerate. This shows us the part of his story that’s actually interesting. We see his past life as the cold-blooded murderer he so despises in the “present.” We see the mistakes he made that turned him into the whiny, obnoxious pacifist he is in the TV series. This is all of the cool stuff that Kenshin so despises and that the TV series does its best to avoid. This is what I wanted to see while toughing it out through the painful TV series. It’s some good samurai drama stuff. Maybe a bit too melodramatic in the wrong ways, but I can forgive it for everything else it does right.

6. Great Teacher Onizuka

Being a teacher doesn’t work this way. No. You can’t buck the system. The system bucks you back twofold. This is porn for those of us who are or have been in the education system. This is the way we wished we could deal with kids. This is the way we wished we could deal with administrators. You wanna give the system the proverbial and literal middle finger and do thinks the Great Teacher way. But you can’t. Your force of personality can’t trump bureaucratic red tape, petty teacher politics, and vengeful parents. Just like how you’ll never be able to sleep with that plastic surgery laden super model chick in that porn you watch, you’ll never be able to pull off the sort of artificial antics of Onizuka. That’s why Onizuka is awesome.

1998: A Year Where Anime Didn’t Suck

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May 222018
 

A good year for sci-fi anime. A damn good year, in fact.

10. Twilight of the Dark Master

“Twilight” is a pretty apt name for this thing, since it feels like the death kneel of the ultra-violent OVAs of the 80s and 90s. It’s your standard “angelic beings fight secret war against demonic beings” thing from this era. It has some alright gore. It has two villains who play like the Wonder Twins from Superfriends. There are a couple of nice-looking shots, like one where a guy’s face if plastered over a bunch of TVs littering the walls of some back alley fix-it shop. The pieces are perfectly serviceable, delivering on everything I like about these sorts of things. And while it’s decent enough, it rings pretty hollow. When people complain about this genre of anime, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the thing their memory calls up, since it’s that mediocre representation that would turn away most fans unfamiliar with this stuff. But for those of us who like this sort of violent, exploitive anime, it’s perfectly alright.

9. The Adventures of the Mini-Goddesses

I was hyped about this show when I first heard about it. I was still in my Ah My Goddess phase of fandom, and I was itching for more Belldandy anime after the still-pretty-good OVA series. I knew it was gonna be a comedic shorts thing, but I was hoping it’d have the same vibe that made me like the series proper back then. Turns out the thing was wildly uneven. For every awesome episode like the one where their rat buddy turned into Godzilla there were two or three episodes that didn’t do much of anything. But those good episodes made the series as a whole pretty fun. Go Go Gabira!

8. Serial Exerpiments Lain

The way Lain portrays the internet seems downright quaint now. It was still steeped in that alien-like attitude born out of early cyberpunk, where the internet was a strange thing where you might just find God amidst the digits and codes. That isn’t to say it’s bad or anything, it’s no different from looking at early sc-fi from the 30s-50s. The tech might not feel right, but that’s irrelevant when looking at what the series is going for. All this stuff about isolation and finding something with meaning in a “new world” is still pretty relevant today, even if Lain is steeped in that late 90s vibe that some might find dated. And it’s still a damn good-looking show, and it has a killer soundtrack. I might not dig on it as much as others, since by the time I saw it I’d already seen plenty of Hollywood movies that tackled similar concepts (The Matrix, eXistenZ, and the like), it’s still solid stuff that’s still worth watching.

7. Trigun

I have a love/hate relationship with Trigun. I hate the first few episodes, since they focus on Vash and his wacky antics. I hate the series once Wolfwood dies (spoiler) since it portrays his way of thinking as downright wrong rather than a reasonable alternative for humans incapable of Vash’s inhuman feats. But for a little more than half the series’ run, it’s downright brilliant. It nails that “space western” ideal almost perfectly. Vash and Wolfwood’s clashing philosophies make them an interesting pair. But DAMN, Vash is such an irritating character who can’t carry a series on his own, so when he’s left to his own devices he drags everything down. I still like the majority of this series, but it’s kept from true greatness by its own lead character.

6. Cardcaptor Sakura

It’s probably the pinnacle of the straight-up magical girl genre. Sailor Moon and other older series deserve credit for forming the genre, and Precure ain’t all that bad, but Sakura pretty much nails the formula perfectly. It has the right mix of kid-friendly suspense and wackiness. It has likable characters who never grated on my nerves. It even has the awesomest magical pet ever in Kero. It also manages to pull off a good bit of CLAMP’s trademark weirdness while still being a kid show (Really, Yukito is fucking weird for a kid show character.). Other superior series might borrow from the magical girl genre– Magic Users’ Club comes to mind– but yeah, Cardcaptor Sakura is the best traditional one out there.

Dimension W #1

 Anime, Dimension W  Comments Off on Dimension W #1
Feb 082018
 

So I’m finally watching anime again. I’ll have to start catching up, and I’ve started with Dimension W. Which, alas, is a rather vexing show.

So we begin the show with some radio newscaster woman or something noting the price hike in gasoline because the electric car is gonna be condemned. Because it’s become obsolete? A 4th dimension was found some years back, as in, the X, Y and Z axis type of dimension. And somehow, humanity is able to tap into unlimited energy via this dimension.

Cue the OP and that’s when I had a bad feeling about this show. The OP is GORGEOUSLY animated. And this filled me with dread. Because it looked like a pretty damn expensive OP.

My fears came true as the first action scene of the episode is reduced to a bunch of stills. But I decided to persevere and lo and behold, the second action scene’s outright skipped. And we got stylized shadows here and there too.

And it’s not like they don’t have good details and animation. There’s an explosion toward the end of the episode and it’s one of those beautiful explosions where you can see each individual brick coming off from the shock of the blast. The explosion seemed kinda flat though and then it suddenly cuts off.

Basically, it felt like the show was being made by 2 or 3 teams with the interns being in charged of the humanoid to humanoid action sequences. Though more likely they probably just ran out of time and money because they blew it all on the OP, ED and 5 to 10 seconds of an explosion.

A better distribution of time, manpower, funds… whatever, and this coulda been Darker Than Black level. I’m not some animator or whatever, I’m just a viewer who doesn’t even care about animation quality all that much, but even I can see/feel there’s something “off” about Dimension W, hence the over-analyzing. And as a result, it was just plain vexing.

And when something’s vexing, it makes me start nitpicking. Like, why the fuck would gasoline prices go astronomically up if the world had unlimited energy? They make it seem like gasoline is now expensive because it’s become a luxury item, like diamonds or emeralds. But that assumes that oil has no other use other than as gas for cars and other assorted vehicles. It assumes that oil isn’t used in the manufacture of plastics or as goddamn lubrication for said cars and other assorted vehicles.

Aaaaand another thing, yeah, this show’s all about creepy fanservice. I mean, fanservice is great but this is the type of fanservice where it feels like it’s “leering” and expects us to leer along. I reckon’ if this was a show shown at certain late night slots or whatever, we’d be getting cameltoe.

Finally, the main girl looks like a Pokemon. I don’t know which, ’cause I’m not a Pokemon gamer, but she totally looks like that one Pokemon.

I’ll give Dimension W another chance or two, maybe. If it becomes less vexing, I would imagine I’d nitpick less. It’s not instantly super special awesome sauce but it has potential to be really cool.

Hoshi no Ponko to Tofuya Reiko

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Aug 012016
 

Holy shithahise! They fucking continued

Here’s the link to the original article on it:

Manga Round-Up

Here’s a link to the series:

http://m.mangahere.co/manga/hoshi_no_ponko_to_toufuya_reiko/

Edit: It would seem this is a slightly different version in that chapter one has additional pages that help lead up the new chapters.

Remember!

 Anime, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei  Comments Off on Remember!
Jul 102016
 

By my timezone it’s already time to laugh, but I just woke up and my body’s not warmed up enough for it. I’ll make sure to have a hearty laugh sometime today though. Seriously, laugh. LAUGH and do it properly.

Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! S2 #1

 Anime, Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! S2  Comments Off on Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! S2 #1
Jul 082016
 

Sequel seasons pretty much ruin even the most beloved of series.

But not with Magical Boys, now this is how you do a sequel. Which is basically to give us exactly the same thing as from season 1.

Having said that, Magical Boys S2 is particularly good in reminding us of all the running gags we may have forgotten while only slightly ramping up the gayness and bukkake-ness of the first season.

I think the key to spotting a good second season vs a terriblefuckingpieceofruinousshitstain is in the number of !. If they stick to just one !, then the second season’s good. If they add a second ! like in K-On!/K-On!!, then it’s the latter.

tl;dr, I dig Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! S2 episode 1.

Manga Review: CRIMSONS: AKAI KOUKAISHATACHI

 Crimsons: Akai Koukaishatachi  Comments Off on Manga Review: CRIMSONS: AKAI KOUKAISHATACHI
Feb 072016
 

So I finally got around to finishing up Crimsons, aka “Eden no Umi” (Eden of the Sea? Sea of Eden?). It’s basically the dramatization of the Sockeye Salmon’s life cycle.

Spoilers after the jump because spoilers are nigh fucking unavoidable if I wanna talk about this manga.

Eden no Umi being a made up pun I made up, ’cause Crimsons is basically Eden no Ori… in the ocean!

I came upon Crimsons when the first couple chapters were first scanlated, and I liked it. But I didn’t really follow it. Welp, I finally got around to looking at it again and it seems it was completed. So I binged read.

Again, if I had to describe it, it’s basically Eden no Ori, but set in the sea. If you’ve never heard or read of Eden no Ori, then lemme describe it a lil’. It’s when a bunch of youngin’s get thrown into a hostile environment and there are sudden bouts of graphic death amidst an otherwise cute/comfy setting. It’s easy to spot. Just look for a character to have a “mind break”-face whenever something dies horribly or if there’s some abrupt death of a main character.

There, I’ve spoiled the early portion of the manga. Kinda unavoidable if I wanna talk about it at all. Oh well, not like it was any surprise. It’s more of a “will they do it or are we getting something toned down?”. I do dig that predators are depicted as eldritch abominations, at least in the earlier chapters. Pity they become less mythical as time progressed.

Anyways, each chapter’s typically broken down to 3 parts. The opening segment focusing on a water flea. The water fleas are awesome. They’re all philosophers and some are outright geniuses. But they’re near the bottom of the totem pole. Then we have the actual Salmon main story, which is interjected with scenes of a professor and his student explaining stuff while engaging in an illicit relationship.

Anywho, it’s a decent read and it’s only 20 chapters + 3 chapter side story. Give it a read.

Koukaku no Pandora #1 & Sekkou Boys #1

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Jan 272016
 

Okay, so this post is a tad late. I wanted to do one post per day so I held off of reviewing these, but stuff came up and I simply haven’t had time to watch any anime.

I just tried watching Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R #1 before making this post, but got interrupted halfway, right before we’re getting to the meat of the story. So I only saw the boring setup part and not the hook. Bleh.

So, just a quickie review for Koukaku and Sekkou, since I’m short on time. They’re both okay. Koukaku has a vibe like it’s based on a manga from the late 90s/early 00s. It’s pretty okay but perhaps a tad underwhelming. I saw half of the second episode, which looked pretty good.

Sekkou Boys, same deal. Kinda good but not quite hooking me with the first episode.

It’ a shame. This season looks like there’s a lot of possibly visually decent though somewhat mediocre series and well, real life just ain’t letting me see if there’s any gems. Bummer.