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I giggle like a little japanese girl every time I watch that show.

Next you'll be watching Yuru Yuri.

Then Hidamari Sketch.

Then you'll be watching Clannad again for all the wrong reasons.

And then you'll have your own personal waifu.

If you're going to go that far then I recommend just skipping to the end.

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Dai-Guard was pretty entertaining. It's an amusing combination of your standard giant robot vs godzilla monster style mecha awesomeness, and a wage-slave's eye view of the same. There's a reason why it's tagline is "office workers saving the world!". Wasn't the best mecha series I've ever seen, but worth watching.

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I return with a double-feature review! And not a combination you'd expect, either. But first, let's backtrack for a moment. This past weekend I replayed a few portions of the Kanon VN to get a better feeling for how the stories are set up and executed. In the process, however, I stumbled upon a realization I hadn't come to during my first read-through, partly due to the order that I played the paths in. I won't say anything else besides this: the realization was about Ayu within the other paths and was a punch to the gut. "Think you're over your feels about Kanon? Ha, you're going to feel it again whether you like it or not."

Anyway, because I watched them side-by-side and I figure talking about these two won't be very long individually, I bring to you today reviews of two anime and their films: K-ON! and Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Ooooh, the contrast!


If you didn't see my previous post, I'll sum it up as follows: "I've never before watched pure moe-blob anime before. I started watching K-ON! and it has infected me with smiles." It was a bit more passionate, but that's how it boils down.

K-ON! is a slice-of-life anime, and in true slice-of-life fashion, plot is pretty much thrown out the window in favor of making the ordinary lives of five highschool girls interesting, usually by way of amplified reactions, silly idiocy, and general adorableness of the main cast. If you're looking for a plot, look elsewhere; this is all about the characters. And if you're looking for any sort of darkness in the show, forget it. In the world of K-ON!, darkness is nonexistent. If you're looking for music, well, you'll get a few songs, but that's about it. If you're looking for cuteness and more cuteness, WELCOME ABOARD.

The show starts out with four of the main characters (Yui, Mio, Mugi, Ritsu) and adds the fifth (Azu-nya—ah, sorry, Azusa) halfway through the first season. It's interesting how that ends up working out. Azusa is the serious one of the group (or tries to be), and her addition allows the entire cast to go above and beyond with their antics while having someone to pull them all back down. It helps to accentuate the impact of the adorableness/craziness/cute idiocy when it happens (and it happens ALL THE TIME) by forcing it back down, even for just a few moments. That way the viewer isn't in a constant sugar-high.

It'll just be a near-constant suger-high instead.

The series as a whole works well. The first season, in retrospect, builds up the characters, gets the viewers used to them without their actions seeming too odd, before cranking it all up to eleven in the second season. The second season is where the show really shines as far as the light, cute feelings and jokes go, though those that aren't particularly fond of the style will have grown tired of them by the time the first season is over. I use jokes here loosely, too; the show is a comedy, but it's more clever/cute observations about the characters than traditional jokes. The movie continues in the same form, not much plot and mostly-rapid-fire yet light humor. There's a bit more of a concentration of them playing music, too, which is nice. The movie is basically an extended season 2 episode that ends with a nice, fulfilling, maybe even emotional conclusion to the series when paired up with the ending to season 2. It still ends on a humorous note, though.

Speaking of humor, Yui and Ritsu are the two main setups for gags when they happen, and the main reactions are done primarily through Mio and Azusa. Mugi is played a little differently and remains a bit more in the background. She's usually there to deliver the second punch or make the first one stronger. However, due to this, I feel that her own gags, which happen infrequently and are usually very simple (even compared to the rest of the show), have the greatest impact per hit. Whether it be by adorableness, naivety, or doing something completely unexpected (which really is to be expected from her, given her background), she was the most consistent in getting me to keel over in amusement and diabetes. That said, there were very few jokes and scenes that did not at least make me smile. Given the frequency of the antics, I simply did not stop smiling throughout each episode.

For such a whimsical series, you wouldn't expect too much from the animation, but it is done amazingly well in this series. I don't mean flashy movements or amazing visual detail, though. It's the attention to animation subtlety that is so fantastic in this series. Even the smallest movements are given individual touches. Each character moves differently from the rest, emphasizing character traits and feelings. Even shots of legs climbing stairs and walking is given full attention by the animators to create expressions of the character they belong to. Watch an episode, particularly in the second season, without the sound on; even without it, the characters' personalities shine through using their movements.

The characters are each basically a caricature of a personality, and it's used to great effect. When something goes down, you more or less know how each character could react, but you know neither the specifics of how and exactly which ones are going to be doing so. The semi-predictability is a positive in this way, since it builds up the characters so they'll always be playing off each other's strengths (in the entertainment sense). Due to that, the viewers' empathy can be tapped quickly, as they can identify parts of themselves within each character while not getting distracted by other character traits that the viewer may not have and may hamper their empathy. If K-ON! is representative of what's typical in moe-blob shows as far as characters go, I think this is why the moe-blob sub-genre is so popular. They're easy to identify with personality-wise, so the humor that hinges on those personality traits are very likely to resonate. That said, each character does have a few traits that aren't expressed as often but make them so much more likeable when they are finally used.

Overall, it's an excellent show for those viewers looking for the anime equivalent of comfort food. It's tailored specifically to drag out as many good, light, fluffy feelings as possible. From the visual style to the way it plays with the characters, it's "fuwa fuwa" through and through. The show meanders but never really loses its relaxed edge; it comes close at times in the first season, but never really does in the second.

I don't have much else to say about the show, since it's really quite simple and you'll either like it or not, so I'll leave you with this statement of fact:

Every family needs a Mugi-chan.

<3 Mugi


Rating: A

Neon Genesis Evangelion

If you haven't seen the original Evangelion series, stop what you're doing and go watch it. Not because it's the greatest thing ever (it isn't), but because it's one of those defining series for the mecha genre and anime as a whole. This review is of my second time watching it; the first was some 7 years ago.

The start of the series is fairly typical of what was common around the time it came out. A simple "here's the target, go fight it", with more-or-less a "daily enemy" to battle and ultimately win against. It isn't completely generic for the time, but much of it does get played fairly straight. However, hints are dropped early on about how the series will end up playing out. Specifically, the show shifts its focus more on the characters themselves (and their inner conflicts) than it does on the actual battles. It starts doing so about halfway through and continuously ramps it up all the way to the end. Especially at the end. Oh dear lord, the original ending...

The plot isn't the most interesting in the world, but it does its purpose. In the beginning, all you know is that humanity is threatened by things called Angels and there's these big robots called Evas used to fight them. As time passes, more and more details about both the Angels and the Evas are revealed, fueling the viewer's desire to understand the mystery going on behind the scenes. The show uses the plot and the visuals to achieve this through some straight and some clever effects and snippets of conversations and actions. It never reveals too much at a time, but also never too little. The information is spread out in an almost ideal fashion; just as we're getting bored with what we currently know, something new is dropped into the mix that throws our perception of the situation out of balance. Characters are also affected in this manner, swinging our ideas of who's right and who's wrong back and forth. Nothing is ever quite so universally gray as some series, like the Gundam franchise tends to be, but none of the main characters are shown to be either good or bad, just with different motivations and, particularly, with different fears. Shinji gets the most of this treatment, but the rest have their fair share as well. Even Shinji's father, the one main character in the show we're sure is just a dick for quite some time.

The visuals aren't spectacular, but they're good. More importantly, they're used properly. Shots are lined up to emphasize a feeling, a moment, or even just a particular character. It's done very effectively. However, there has always been some controversy over the nature of some of the symbolism used throughout the show. Some say it's deliberate with deep meaning, others say it's there just because. Without getting into what the creators have said on the subject, it is my opinion that the symbolism is deliberate yet shallow at best. It's done very obviously, with the visuals and the words used, but nothing about them hints at any sort of depth. When watching this series, I got the distinct feeling that it was all just to provide a hook for the viewers to latch onto, something to give it a more "epic" feeling without too much work. It certainly succeeded in that regard; the symbolism does a great job at making everything feel just a bit more tense, a bit more meaningful, without having to do much legwork itself. It's not thrown in the show halfhazardly, but neither is it given any sort of deep thought.

What can I say about the ending? There's two. The original ending to the series within the last two episodes, and then the ending provided in the movie End of Evangelion. The original ending is a result of budget cuts during the series' production, causing the last two episodes to completely fall flat on their faces. One can say that there's some interesting psychology and such being revealed in those two episodes, both in the characters and as a general statement about humanity itself, and I will say that this isn't false. However, the episodes stretch for time so much that it dilutes any impact it may have had. The ending to this ending is deeply unsatisfying, too, as it provides no resolution. Absolutely none.

End of Evangelion is the "true" ending according to the creators, made possible by the success of the series. It certainly gives the viewer the action one would've expected from the ending to the series, it condenses the philosophical segment of the final two episodes into a much more meaningful and directed form, and gives a resolution to the series. Perhaps not the most satisfying of resolutions to some, but it is a definite resolution. It's even symbolic, perhaps moreso than any other part of the series. The action scenes are done very well, the visuals are used to great effect, and there's even moments where you feel the characters' struggles right up until the end. It has an impact, something that was lacking in the original ending. It's an excellent movie finale for a pretty good series. Evangelion should be watched through at least once.

Rating: B+


Coming up next may be a review of a movie that, according to many, should never have been made. I recently acquired a copy and put it on my computer. Immediately, I felt a great disturbance in the fandom. As if millions of Key fans cried out in disgust and were suddenly silenced.

As a diehard fan of the source material, I may be in for a rough hour and a half.

... Bring it on.

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Halcyonspirit, if you really liked K-ON!, then seriously Yuru Yuri should be the next thing you watch. Seriously. It's too good.

Of course there's such a thing as too much moe. So if you're at that point then chillin' out with some more action would be good. Nice reviews, by the way.

Going to try and watch Evangilon soon, speaking of. Maybe. Really I'm just trying to get all the short, 12-14 episode classics out the way (along with a few others). Just got a external hard drive storage which I badly needed and have been on an anime craze as of late.

After I'm finished with Shigofumi I'm onto Serial Experiements Lain. Then probably Evangilon.

Then whatever else comes after that. Probably another mystery series.

Edited by urdailywater
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In all honesty, the only reason I believe there is to watch Evangelion is simply because of the hype surrounding it. I watched it for this reason as well as Suzumiya Haruhi and I really disliked both shows. It takes more than cute girls to make a show and I believe that that is the only thing these 2 shows have.

But of course that's only my opinion.

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It's not that I don't enjoy more down-to-earth character-driven drama, it's just that I thought Evangelion's attempt at it was shitty. Sure, the characters had reasons for acting the way that they did, but that didn't change the fact that none of them were very likable or relatable. Yes, the non-robot-fighting part of the show was about how shoving children into giant robot fights over the fate of the world will horribly scar them psychologically, but when your three main characters are a wuss, a bitch, and a stoic, it's hard to root for them.

If you want to see teenagers breaking under the mental strain of giant robot combat, I'd recommend Gundam Seed. It's far from perfect (and let's not even mention the sequel, Gundam Seed Destiny), but it's a pretty stark look at what happens when you put the weight of the world on the shoulders of an unsuspecting teenager, minus the gratuitous religious pseduo-symbolism and general mindfuckery.

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That settles it.

My permanent method of taking recs from this thread is going with whatever you guys dislike.

...I should get around to watching the second season of Haruhi now that I've finally tracked down a copy of the dub.

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That settles it.

My permanent method of taking recs from this thread is going with whatever you guys dislike.

...I should get around to watching the second season of Haruhi now that I've finally tracked down a copy of the dub.

If that's the case, I really hate Berserk, Princess Mononoke, Blassreiter, Soul Eater, Hellsing Ultimate, Trinity Blood. Don't ever watch those.

(I kid, I kid. This is only reverse psychology.)

But in all honesty, the popular anime that I hate include Elfen Lied, Code Geass, Suzumiya Haruhi, One Piece, Evangelion, Cowboy Beebop, Eureka 7.

Edited by Thin Crust
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It's not that I don't enjoy more down-to-earth character-driven drama, it's just that I thought Evangelion's attempt at it was shitty. Sure, the characters had reasons for acting the way that they did, but that didn't change the fact that none of them were very likable or relatable.

If you want to see teenagers breaking under the mental strain of giant robot combat, I'd recommend Gundam Seed.

So wait. You don't like Evangelion because none of the characters are likeable, so you recommend Gundam Seed?

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My opinion on Evangelion has flip-flopped a few times in the years since I first saw it, but I think I've finally settled on it. The thing is, I think Eva is fascinating if viewed from the standpoint of looking at what a director suffering from severe clinical depression (which Anno was at the time) can produce. On the animation/music side of things, there are some great individual scenes and sequences. But narratively...it's an utter and complete mess. It feels like Anno never settled on what sort of series he was trying to create, and the latter half of the series infamously jumps off the rails as a result. Most of the main cast aren't so much "characters" as archetypes of individual psychological disorders, which makes them nigh-impossible to relate to. (Really, the fact that there's so much Rei fandom despite her having any personality for all of two minutes in the entire series is frightening.) The constant religious symbolism is obnoxious, though I think that's mostly because so many fans read so much false meaning into it. And in the end, you're kind of left wondering if there was a point to most of what you've seen.

Was it influential in the overall anime landscape? Definitely. Is it worth watching? Probably, if for no other reason than to form your own opinion on it. Would I ever label it a "great" series in terms of actual enjoyment? Nope. Some Eva fans would probably lynch me for saying so, but if you want to see "Eva done right," try RahXephon.

Also...recommending Trinity Blood, yet bashing Bebop and Eureka seveN? What is this I don't even.

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Death & Rebirth (or I guess really just the "Death" part) is largely a recap of the original TV series, albeit in a different order, and with a bit of extra footage thrown in. Some of that extra footage wound up being in the "director's cut" of several of the later TV episodes...21-24, I think. The "Rebirth" part of that movie is actually the first part of End of Evangelion, which serves as either a replacement for, or a companion to, the final two episodes of the TV series, depending on who you ask. Right now, Anno is in the process of directing a series of four movies, collectively called Rebuild of Evangelion, which are essentially a fresh take on the franchise. I haven't seen them yet, but from what I've heard, they start out fairly similar to the TV series but wind up greatly diverging from its story.

Yeah, all of this is about as much of a mess as the original series' story was. :D

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Death & Rebirth (or I guess really just the "Death" part) is largely a recap of the original TV series, albeit in a different order, and with a bit of extra footage thrown in. Some of that extra footage wound up being in the "director's cut" of several of the later TV episodes...21-24, I think. The "Rebirth" part of that movie is actually the first part of End of Evangelion, which serves as either a replacement for, or a companion to, the final two episodes of the TV series, depending on who you ask. Right now, Anno is in the process of directing a series of four movies, collectively called Rebuild of Evangelion, which are essentially a fresh take on the franchise. I haven't seen them yet, but from what I've heard, they start out fairly similar to the TV series but wind up greatly diverging from its story.

Yeah, all of this is about as much of a mess as the original series' story was. :D

i saw some of it on a tv in an electronics shop the other day and it did look very pretty though.

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I've seen both of the released Rebuild of Evangelion movies, and I personally think they're excellent. They cleaned up and redid a lot, if not all of the art and animation, and it is BEAUTIFUL to watch. The action scenes really feel that much better.

As Top Gun mentioned, by the second movie the plot has diverged substantially from the original series(they even added a new character into the mix). In my opinion it fixes a lot of the "whatthefuckness" of the original series/movies and makes much more sense, which makes it more interesting.

Still waiting on that release info for the final two movies...

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What? You want another review? No? Too bad, you're getting TWO. The two reviews will be split into their own posts, though, since OCR's character limit on posts is too low to fit both into one. These aren't all sunshine and rainbows, though, for this time I bring you two alternative adaptations to previously watched series. One is pretty good, though lacking somewhat in areas compared to the more recent adaptation. The other... hurt a bit to watch, but it did have its own merits.

Kanon (2002 Toei Animation Version)

If you've read my previous reviews, you'll remember me reviewing a different adaptation of Key's Kanon, the 24-episode, 2006 Kyoto Animation version. I mentioned there that I may review the 13-episode, 2002 version, and whaddya know, here it is.

Kanon tells the story of Yuuichi, a young man that has just transferred to a new school in a new town where his aunt's and his cousin, Nayuki, live, where he'll be spending his time until graduating. It's been 7 years since he last visited and he doesn't recall much of anything about those days there as a boy. He quickly meets a number of young women inside and outside his school, including the amnesiac Makoto, the quiet, sword-wielding Mai, the upbeat yet evasive Shiori, and the oddly childish Ayu. As he spends time with them and others, he begins to recall memories that hint he may have known some of them as a child. Mysteries are abound, and soon he is pulled deep into each of their stories as he grapples with not being able to quite grasp the memories that lay beneath the surface. Who were these people in his past, and what significance does it have in the present?

Kanon, at first glance, appears to be your run-of-the-mill high school haremfest, but as the narrative progresses and you are drawn into each character's story, the series takes an emotional turn for the characters and the viewers. The story is structured to endear you to the characters with upbeat, everyday humor/cuteness before pulling out the twists, turns and tragedies that are made to evoke strong emotions. Kanon originated as a visual novel with a branching storyline, so each character's story wasn't originally meant to mesh with the others. This anime adaptation thus has had to find a way to make it work as a single, linear narrative. It largely does so; the characters are built up mostly together in the first half before delving into each character's finale individually. The Kanon 2002 series largely succeeds on the storytelling front; everything is as clear as it's meant to be and the viewers' interest is largely kept throughout. Each significant event or item is hinted at through the series, building the tension as it does so until it hits the final release. It stumbles on the emotional front, however, due to the time and space limitations of a 13-episode run. Since another adaptation exists in the 2006 version, I'll be explaining why this is with the 2006 version as a reference in some places.

The first thing that is immediately obvious to anyone familiar with the 2006 version is that the art style differs quite a bit. The character designs here are a bit closer to the original visual novel's designs, for better and for worse, and have a more 'cartoony' feel to them in both the body forms and the color scheme used. It's less subtle, in other words. This isn't a bad thing in itself, though it can be off-putting considering the other main distinction: the animation is far less fluid than the 2006 version. Slow movements are fine, but ones that cover more screenspace in a short amount of time fall victim to choppiness. It's not too distracting once you get used to it, but it's there. Kyoto Animation's work is a hard bar to reach, especially if theirs is newer.

Putting the animation aside, the main concern is whether or not this adaptation succeeds on the story, characters, and feelings fronts. Since both versions are covering pretty much exactly the same ground, it's hard not to compare the two.

After watching the first episode, I was ready to tear my hair out, but it wasn't due to the quality. There wasn't anything wrong with it, per se, but I simply couldn't agree with many of the choices that were made in adapting the VN to the anime. Some were nice and even hinted at the priorities the show would have later on, but others just felt off-mark, considering the source material. In particular, I felt the presentation was blatantly pointing out hints that I felt would be better off being subtle. Even the 2006 version slipped up a little bit here at times, but this first episode was on another level completely. It also brought things into play at the beginning that anywhere else would not have been seen until much later on. Even after watching the entire show, I still can't agree with how they presented many things in the first episode. Thankfully, the blatantness gets toned down a little after that, though not as much as I might've liked. However, I also recognize that trying to condense such a long VN into 13 episodes is a daunting task. It's difficult enough with 24 episodes. The way it's done does help move things along, though it sacrifices potential atmosphere and suspense later on in doing so.

The characters are portrayed mostly the same as in the VN and 2006 version, so I don't have any complaints here. There are subtle differences, of course. Yuuichi is portrayed here with a slightly less sarcastic personality than the 2006 version's, for instance, and Ayu is a bit closer to her VN roots here. This affects some details in the event portrayals later on, but nothing is actually lost for it. Despite the lack of time available for character development, this show does a fairly good job of hitting all the important points and even inserting a few short sequences that do a lot to define the characters.

However, the time issue does come into play with the empathy component of the viewer experience, and that's my main complaint about this adaptation. There's enough time available through the entire show to understand how the characters are feeling and why they're doing what they do, but there isn't enough time to both describe all the important events and feelings and also to spend enough time showing them to properly foster empathy between the viewer and all the characters. That is to say, this show will not evoke the same strong, emotional response that the VN and 2006 version can. It certainly has its moments: for instance, its handling of Kaori I felt was much stronger in this version, enough to make my chest tighten briefly, something the 2006 version couldn't do. However, for all the main characters, their stories are fairly cut down to the essentials. The beginning and middle of each is covered together in the first half of the series. Following that, Mai gets two episodes to finish her story, then Makoto and Shiori each get a single episode to finish their own story. The last three episodes are split between Nayuki and Ayu. In the first three cases, this is simply not enough time to create the emotional attachment so central to what Kanon was made for without cutting out significant amounts of detail made for that purpose, thus negating the effect either way. Mai's in particular is noteworthy in that the showing of her history, her troubles, and how it relates to her story is simply left out. No explanation given. If you weren't already familiar with her story, you'd be left with a giant blank spot with regard to Mai's full picture. Shiori and Makoto aren't given the proper time, either; Makoto in particular is a sad example. Her big central event is over so quickly I was left wondering if I had blacked out and missed part of it. All the emotion is gone. Shiori's wasn't much better in that regard, though she didn't have a huge event to build up to, so hers wasn't impacted quite so much.

That leaves Nayuki and Ayu. I am happy to say that Nayuki fans will be rather pleased with this adaptation's handling of her arc. The 2006 version left something to be desired with Nayuki, and while in my last review I said I felt it was more or less the best they could do, given the source material, I am retracting that statement right now. This version of the events, while still rushed due to time, covers Nayuki's inner feelings and conflict so much better. They're given their due time here. I can personally appreciate it; I'm a Nayuki person, myself, and my heart was pained as a result for one moment in particular. A cliché moment, to be sure, but cliché doesn't mean bad.

As for Ayu, up until the initial separation, it's covered much in the same way as the 2006 version. Quicker and with some details different, but much the same, so no complaints story-wise. Unfortunately, the quicker aspect also applies to one main event in the story, so again, the emotional impact is cut down quite a bit. After that, certain details are different, and I think I prefer the discovery of the truth in this version compared to both the VN and the 2006 version's, but otherwise, again, it's much the same. The final scenes are handled in a more forward way than the 2006 version, much like the rest of the show, but it works here. I have no complaints, it's just a different take on how to portray it.

The 2002 adaptation also has a single OVA episode that takes place in the time just prior to the final scene in the main series. It basically catches up with the main characters and ties up a few loose ends; the main one being Nayuki. I have mixed feelings about it, especially when it comes to how the follow-up to Makoto is handled. Some of it feels genuine, and some of it feels almost like fanfiction. I don't believe the events have any basis in the Kanon canon, so really, that's essentially what it is. It's a decent addition, but not really necessary.

So my final verdict on the series? It's good. Not great, but if you liked the VN and/or the 2006 anime adaptation, this 2002 adaptation is a nice addition to the experience. It's a different portrayal on the story, and though I would not recommend it for those new to the story, those familiar with the story beforehand can appreciate it much more due to having character impressions and details from the other sources. A few details from the VN not in the 2006 version can be found here, too, which is a plus. And of course, Nayuki gets the attention she needed in this portrayal compared to the 2006 version. Overall a good experience, if rather heavy-handed due to time constraints.

Rating: B (with the caveat that it is extremely recommended that viewers read the VN or watch the 2006 adaptation beforehand for full enjoyment)

Edited by HalcyonSpirit
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