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  • #46
    Please excuse today's brief summaries.

    Samurai Deeper Kyo episode 4 provided some interesting hints of character and story development, and hinted at some interesting plot developments to come.

    Witch Hunter Robin episode 4 was a nice subtle change of pace because it introduced a bit of character development and background information on the characters, and ended with a simple but still revealing little philosophical concept that, if nothing else, at least suggests that the animation staff is thinking about the show a bit.

    SaiKano episode 4 set up a love triangle. While it's cliche, it's still effective because the characters are so well defined and characterized, and the timing of the event is both logical and effective. With Chise changing now, I'm very curious to see what will happen next.

    Rockman.exe episode 5 introduced the first hint of a serious continuing sub-plot but was otherwise another very well produced by forgettable fluff episode.

    Galaxy Angel episode 20 was fun because it ended with a brief but unexpected humorous twist.

    Kogepan episode 7 was a strange as ever, this time revealing Kogepan's weakness as seen through the eyes of Cream pan.

    Shicinin no Nana episode 3 introduced the super hero outfits, and took the overzealous school principal running gag a bit too far for my taste, but the show is still very sweet natured and fun to watch. Although my support of Media Blasters has been mixed in the past, I'm looking forward to their American release of this show.

    Aura Bancho Psychic Academy episodes 2-6 seemed to me very uneven and unfocused. Since it was created for streaming internet broadcast, I won't criticize the production quality, which is actually quite good for what it is. However, the show's writing just doesn't seem to be sure what it wants to be- a romance, a fan service comedy, a supernatural light drama. It seems to employ elements of everything, but focus on developing no one aspect, which leaves the entire series feeling limp and uninspired.

    Hand Maid May was a cute, but somewhat uneven show as well, and Strawberry Egg just wasn't interesting enough to hold my interest for very long, but the production staff seems to have finally hit its stride with G-On Riders. With episode 2 all of the character personalities are interesting, the show is nice to look at, and it's simply pure fun without the aggrevating annoyances of Hand Maid May. I'm surprised that AD Vision or Pioneer or Media Blasters hasn't already picked up this show.

    And I rounded out the weekend with 3 untranslated recent underground Japanese horror/shock/exploitation movies.

    Strongest Woman Legend Kyoko vs Yuki barely qualified as a "good" bad movie. Considering its visual style, I wouldn't be surprised to know that it's an adaptation of manga. Unfortunately it was terribly acted and terribly written. The inclusion of borderline pornographic lesbian sex scenes may sink or swim the film for some viewers, but for me only made the movie more of an oddity. The film is, in few word, the story of a professional sailor suit wearing teen girl assassin pitted against a sailor suit wearing lesbian kogal over a briefcase full of money.

    Red Room ("Akai Meshitsu no Heya - Kindan no Oosama Game" if my translation is correct) was the most stylish of the three movies I watched. It was also one of the most outrageous, explotive and blatantly offensive movies I've ever seen. When it comes to gruesome sex and horror films, America can't even dream of the sort of stuff that comes out of Japan.

    And speaking of sex and splatter, the less said about Senketsu no Kizuna probably the better. In summation, for those that know what I'm talking about, this was a very graphic and explicit Japanese re-make of I Spit on Your Grave.

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    • #47
      Ground Defense Force Mao-chan episode 2 again just makes me wonder how somebody got budget approval for this show. I really love it, but I didn't think the anime industry still supported and produced such utterly inconsequential and cute shows. I don't think I've seen anything this cutesy since 80s anime like Creamy Mami and Magical Emi.

      I can tell already that Cosplay Complex will be the next candidate for AD Vision's pop up vid notes gimmick. I was afraid that there wouldn't be many anime in-jokes in the show because the promotional art for this new OAV series is conspicuously absent of any. But my fears were allayed when the first five minutes of this first OAV had as many anime references as an entire slow episode of Excel Saga. Some of the obvious costumes like You're Under Arrest, KoF's Yuri Sakazaki and Dead of Alive girls will be easily identifiable to most viewers, but some of the sight gags, including references to Di-Gi-Charat, Cyber Formula GPX, and Zone of the Enders, and the extended running gag on Aim for the Ace are either too obscure or too subtle for, I suspect, mainstream fans to catch. This is clearly going to be a show for fanatic otaku to test their geekish trivia knowledge on. And thankfully it's a really good OAV too. The show begins with solid characterizations and a fun attitude then uses fan service as an enhancement to an already good show instead of something like Nanako Kaitei Shinsyo which uses fan service as a crutch to help salvage poor writing and ineffective directing.

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      • #48
        Ippatsu Kikimusume episode 3 was surprisingly tame and non-risque, although still quite funny. Episodes 14 & 15 got back to basics by making fun of not only pain but also nudity.

        I'd said that I wasn't planning on watching more Dragon Drive, but I'm a sucker for anything new because I'm always curious about the state of the industry in Japan. Episode 2 wasn't quite as silly as episode 1, and still kept up the very active, fast pace. And I'm almost tempted to argue that the show's opening theme song is too good for it.

        The 5 minute long Azumanga Daioh movie was clearly intended for fans of the manga that were already familiar with the characters and running gags in the show. It's also noticeable how good the animation quality is in this short, because it's made for theatrical release. The motion in the character's bodies and especially their hair shows a priority on detailed animation that I'm not used to seeing very often. Most anime don't have animation quality this good because it's time consuming and expensive to produce. It's nice to see such good animation lavished on such a relatively simple show because most viewers won't even notice it at all. But after watching 13 TV episodes so far, it's hard to get used to the slightly different movie character designs, which premiered a little before the TV series.

        The You're Under Arrest: No Mercy OAV was unbelievably silly. This most recent YUA anime, in this episode Miyuki and Natsumi temporarily transfer to the LAPD, and every possible American steroetype gets played up in full force. LA is a bright and sunny land of loud, obnoxious, violent Americans who are all prone to violence and crime. And everyone in America carries at least one gun at all times. Much more in the style of YUA Special than the TV series, this OAV was fun to watch because it was fast paced and reasonably exciting, but also fun to watch because it was just so entertaining to point out and laugh at all the excessively played up American stereotypes and myths.

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        • #49
          I have mixed feelings on the Sakura Wars movie. Early in the film it obviously tries very hard to show off its animation, which is somewhat distracting, but not exactly terrible. I'm also very pleased to see the film really take advantage of the widescreen format in a way that anime movies all too often do not. The film is full of wide rooms, tall ceilings, and panoramic vistas that really take advantage of the theatrical setting to show what can't be shown effectively on a television. The movie intentionally holds back its action for the spectacular climactic battle (which is simply stunning) but as a result fails to develop enough empathy with the viewer. As though the film is more concerned with being an cannonical addition to the Sakura Taisen continuity instead of concentrating on being an exciting film, it spends too much time introducing Rachette, and as a result, spreads itself too thin. We meet all of the girls, but the movie never makes us really care about the girls. Therefore the film is engaging on a technical level, but not an emotional one. I've always been hoping for a Sakura Taisen anime with the raw emotional intensity of Bubblegum Crisis OAVs 5 & 6. The ending of this movie came close, but it's too little, too late for me. An excellent movie, just not what I would have made it.

          I really love the original Geobreeders OAV series because it's so much the epitome of what we think of as anime: cute girls with guns, supernatural battles, real-world technology and settings, and lots of fast paced, awe inspiring action. Perhaps because the second series wasn't directed by Yuji Moriyama himself, I was a bit disappointed with Geobreeders 2. First and foremost, the Kagura team itself really doesn't do anything this time around. While in the original series, which was presumably based on the manga, the girls were competent, albeit ideocentric, in this original second series, the girls are mostly incompetents and hangers-on, merely window dressing to the real story instead of being the central characters that the story moved around. The John Woo homage in the fourth episode was especially nice, but overall this second series simply seemed to be missing something. It left me thinking not that I'd watched something special, but merely something okay.

          Playing with the color settings on your TV does fix the Spirited Away DVD. There's such a wealth of things I could say about this film. It's not as immediately sentimental as the classics like Nausicaa and Laputa, but it's got a little more weight than Totoro or Porco Rosso. The magic of this film is that it's a film that you can watch over and over again. It's not as didactic as Mononoke or Nausicaa or Laputa, and while in one sense it therefore seems like less, on the other hand that makes the film stronger as it doesn't rely on emotional manupulation or tugging at heartstrings to make its point. There are a lot of unanswered questions in the film, but none of them are important. And hopefully Americans will appreciate that. I still think that Mononoke is Miyazaki's greatest film, and I still like Kiki the best personally, but Spirited Away may be his most refined and effective film.

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          • #50
            Lupin the 3rd: Alcatraz Connection was one of the better mid range TV movies. It's not up to the level of Walther P-38, but not as bad/silly as Harimaoh's Treasure or Napeleon's Dictionary or Tokyo Crisis. It's about on par with Twilight Gemini and Burn Zantetsuken. It's nice to see Zenigata portrayed as somewhat competent, as it's done too rarely in Lupin movies. But when it is done provides a more compelling foil to Lupin. And Fujiko looked the best in this movie she's looked since Lupin Assassination Directive.

            The first story in the Kitty Pleasure Pack 2 hentai DVD turned out to be one of those tragic romance/sex OAVs that are usually decent, but not particularly exciting. This one was no different. The second episode on the disc turned out to be the most fun "little girls" sex comedy since Nagekino Kenko Yuroji (AKA: SoftCel's F^3).

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            • #51
              Kung Pow: Enter the Fist wasn't nearly as funny as it should have been. Somebody should have mentioned to Steve Odekirk that something is funny once or maybe twice, but dull and boring when repeated dozens of times.

              Witch Hunter Robin episode 5 was solid, but not unusual except for the fact that it may be either the series' first multi-part episode or the beginning of a larger storyline. I won't be sure at least until after I see episode 6.

              Samurai Deeper Kyo included some interesting revelations including a surprise character revelation and the introduction of a second "demon" samurai.

              G-On Riders episode 4 was quite cute, and very high on the fan service meter. Now did I ever watch episode 3?

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              • #52
                I've been so busy lately that I haven't had nearly as much time to watch anime as I've wanted.

                I did indeed skip G-On Riders episode 3, so I went back and filled in that hole last night. Episode 4 now makes a little more sense. This is a really cute show, and I'm surprised that since every episode is essentially the same, it hasn't gotten boring yet.

                Asagiri no Miko episode 3 was a bit more placid than the prior two, and perhaps because of that, quite charming and fun. The little nasty tempered gal is really a great character.

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                • #53
                  After napping from about 8pm to 9:30pm, most of my evening was taken up watching the copy of Donnie Darko my room-mate rented. An interesting supernatural/suspense film because it's smart enough not to spoon-feed the audience answers, and not heavy handed enough to beat its message into the viewer's skull.

                  Galaxy Angel series 1 episode 21 was short and cute. A throw-away fluff episode revolving around Ranpha, Mint and Vanilla trying to save an indebted pizza resturant.

                  Samurai Deeper Kyo episode 6 began the martial arts tournament. The next episode with the Kyo versus Hidetada fight we knew was coming eventually should be something to look forward to.

                  Since I'm falling so far behind on viewing, hopefully this weekend will give me a lot of time to catch up.

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                  • #54
                    After watching the second TOKYOPOP Real Bout High School DVD I was reminded of the horrifyingly bad character art in the second half of episode 6. And having watched these episodes before in untranslated Japanese, I was hoping for some dramatic revelations in the dialogue which, alas, were not to come. But the show is still pretty entertaining.

                    Cosplay Complex OAV 2 focused on further developing some story, so as a result didn't have as many sight gags and in-jokes. It's still pretty funny, though, even in untranslated Japanese.

                    I watched Volcano High School twice on Sunday. Once alone and once later with my room-mates. This is a recent Korean action film just released on R3 special edition DVD (which is what I just got from Aznfilms.com.) The movie wasn't quite as action packed as I'd been led to believe from reviews I've read, but it's full of really wonderful cinematography, impressive set design, and very accomplished CG. I can easily see this movie being the next cult hit Shaolin Soccer. And this also continues to convince me that a live action Dragonball Z movie actually is possible.

                    Hare Nochi Guu episode 19 continued the wackiness with changing personalities.

                    G-On Riders episode 5 threw me with two unexpected plot twists. Neither of them is particularly dramatic, but both of them were slightly unexpected.

                    Sentou Yousei Yukikaze OAV 1 was essentially exactly what I expected it to be. All of those fans that like to argue over sexual orientation in Gundam W and Yu Yu Hakusho really ought to look at this OAV for something that clearly, intentionally builds a lot of homoerotic suggestion into the story. The technical/metaphysical aspects of the Yukikaze aircraft itself and its relationship to Lt. Fukai are interesting, but the rest of the show left me a bit underwhelmed considering the show's running time. Considering this is only the first of several episodes, though, I don't want to be too harsh on it yet.

                    Like Cosplay Complex, Gatekeepers 21 OAV 2 wasn't as exciting as the first episode because it develops more story. It is really neat to see the Gatekeepers mythology expanding in this episode, though, with someone using both dark and light gates at the same time.

                    With Witch Hunter Robin episode 6 the show is beginning to leave more loose ends, which actually makes the show much more interesting. And we may be starting to see the first glimmer of respect and partnership between Robin and Amon.

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                    • #55
                      I didn't even realize that the Nurse Witch Komugi-chan TV series had started until the first episode turned up digi-subbed last night. I still don't know if I'm supposed to take this seriously or not. I can only think to say that it seems to be a spin-off from SoulTaker in the same way the Pretty Samy TV series is to Tenchi Muyo. It's a bit silly and parody filled, but it still seems to be a genuine, honest mahou shoujo show. I enjoyed the first episode immensely, but I'm going to withhold judgement until I see more of it and get a better idea of what type of show its going to be.

                      I'd thought that the Futari H OAV series would be a fan-service romantic comedy considering that it's from Yuji Moriyama. In fact, it's softcore porn. Apparently the manga is very popular with 15 volumes, but maybe it's because I was watching it in untranslated Japanese that I didn't really see the fascination. It's not bad, and I'd watch more of it, but it wasn't anything I've not seen before a dozen times.

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                      • #56
                        Juuni Kokki episode 9 contained some major revelations and was a really thrilling, interesting episode. Now if I can only get my hands on episode 8.

                        The final DVD of SoulTaker very nearly made the series logical. I'm surprised at how well the final episodes managed to tie up the show and make most of it make sense in a satisfying way. My only complaint was having to watch the show with Pioneer's subtitles which constantly annoy me when I hear the characters say "Date Kyosuke" and read on screen "Kyosuke Date," or hear Kyosuke say "Nakahara-san" and read the subtitles that say "Komugi," or hear Runa say "Oniichan" and read the subtitles that say "That's not true!" The mainstream Pioneer subs may express the intention of the dialogue adequately, but I can't help but shouting in my mind "That's not what they said!" over and over again.

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                        • #57
                          It's almost embarassing to admit that being as big a fan of anime and Asian genre film as I am, I never saw Takeshi Miike's Dead or Alive until last night. Partially knowing what to expect, I wasn't disappointed. Much of the middle of the film may seem slow or dull, so it's easy to forget that even when they're slow, most Takeshi Miike movies are simply not quite like anything else you've ever seen. Dead or Alive is an unflinching, brutal movie. The nearest American comparison I can think of is Reservoir Dogs, or possibly a less action oriented Wild Bunch. The film, although essentially grounded in reality, is a fantasy about what happens when two men, an irrestible force and an unmoving object, agree to a dual that neither is willing to back down from. It's also spectacularly interesting that the film never lays out what's going on, but rather gradually lays out enough hints and small bits of exposition to allow the viewer to figure out everything on his own. It's a very intelligent, offensive and extreme exploitation gangster film.

                          It seems that I totally skipped over watching Asagiri no Miko 3, so I filled in that hole last night. There was more humor in this episode than in any of the others I've watched, which was both entertaining, and seemingly slightly out of place.

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                          • #58
                            Overman King Gainer is definitely a Yoshiyuki Tomino show because its full of obscure technobabble and esoteric, fusion art design. The first episode was all action, which was nice but difficult to critique since it doesn't allow for any character or story development. Based on only one episode, though, this show seems to be better than Turn A Gundam or Brain Powerd.

                            Azumanga Daioh 14 seemed to be a quick re-hash, as the girls are already going on another trip to Chiyo's beach house. But the episode was still quite entertaining.

                            I'm secure enough in my masculinity to admit that SaiKano episodes 4 & 5 brought tears to my eyes. This show is simply so beautifully sad and tragic. Like Imaboku, this is another little masterpiece.

                            I watched Chobits episodes 16-20, but it was episodes 19 & 20 that are really intriguing. Episode 19 especially reminds me a lot of DNA^2. Suddenly dealing with 5 different parties all interested in Chii is quite exciting, so now I'm really left guessing what will happen next.

                            Atashinchi clearly wants to be Tonari no Yamada-kun, or even Crayon Shin-chan, but unfortunately it's not. Somewhat surprisingly, none of director Akitaro Daichi's trademarks are in the first episode of Atashinchi, including the humor. For a domestic comedy, there's nothing wrong with this show, but it simply doesn't do anything out of the ordinary either. It doesn't have the fanciful sense of wonder of Yamada or Nono-chan, and doesn't have the spirit of chaos and the unexpected that's in Crayon Shin-chan. If Yamada or Cray Shin-chan are the Simpsons, Atashinchi is King of the Hill.

                            Asagiri no Miko episode 5 was a simple, straightforward episode that didn't really advance either character or plot beside briefly introducing a disposable new character. I could say roughly the same about G-On Riders episode 6.

                            Tenchi Muyo GXP episode 4 is simply "anti-funny." It's painfully obvious lowbrow attempt at humor simply drains all the fun out of the show. Allow me to re-create the comedy of GXP with this joke: "Why did the chicken cross the road? Because it wanted to get to the other side."

                            I managed to catch up with RahXephon by watching episodes 18-22. I still have virtually no clue what's going on, but I still love the show to death. And it's startling how much sexier Quon became all of a sudden!

                            UFO Princess Walkure episode 3 had to have what should now be considered the ultimate example of "fanboy" anime- a catgirl wearing a French maid outfit wildly destroying everything in sight with a pair of giant laser rifles. Anime just doesn't get much more "anime-like" than that! And the concept of a laser gun that transforms innocent young women into subserviant, utterly devoted cat-girl maids has got to be every (particularly male) anime fan's ultimate fantasy brought to light.

                            Having seen only the Ultraman Zearth movie in recent years, the first two episodes of Kamen Rider Ryuki really surprised me. I did expect this to be better than the cheesy traditional sentai we're used to, but I was really surprised to find this very close to genuine anime in live action. This is definitely not Power Rangers!
                            The use of CG really hightened the excitement and thrill dramatically. While kids may love it, I found the shameless marketing angle of "cards" to summon weapons and power a bit unimaginitive and excessively commercial, though.

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                            • #59
                              This list covers the past two days.

                              .hack//SIGN still doesn't make much sense, and still has virtually no character depth or development, but is finally getting interesting based solely on attachments formed with characters through extensive proximity and interaction. There's now a sense that events are becoming more important, and we're approaching a climax, but there's still nothing exact that suggests this urgency.

                              Ground Defense Force Mao-chan is apparently getting very popular in Japan based on the coverage it's getting in Japanese magazines. And I have to admit that with episode 3 there is an undeniable charm to the simplicty and innocence of the show. It's a non-patronizing cute and sweet show that includes just enough sly humor to let the viewer know that it's all a parody.

                              Azumanga Daioh 15 was very entertaining, but episode16 had me laughly out loud hysterically. Osaka promising "no cat corpses" is both unnerving and wildly funny all at once!

                              Witch Hunter Robin episode 7 was very satisfying. I personally take great pleasure in seeing characters that think too highly of themselves, put in their place. The humanity of the witch hunting team was made subtly apparent in this episode, and it's satisfying to see the witch that thought to take advantage of that kindness getting what he really deserved, all because he thought he was smarter than everyone but in fact was only fooling himself by not being smart enough to recognize his true circumstances.

                              After watching the first episode of Gear Fighter Dendoh I can easily see why it was so popular in Japan for a short while. The characterizations are varied from each other, but none of them too annoying. And the action is fast, extensive and exciting. For being a retro children's giant robot show, it also doesn't allow itself to descend into the silliness of Gaogaiger. This is a solid children's giant robot show that adults can watch without too much embarassment. And Vega has got to have one of the cutest, sexiest female character designs I've seen in a while.

                              Happy Lesson episode 12 was again entertaining, but not distinctive enough from all of the other episodes to make it memorable or anything more than mediocre.

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                              • #60
                                Seemingly a lot did and didn't happen in Samurai Deeper Kyo episode 7. Mysteries were explained and new ones revealed, and there were certainly a lot of fights. However, the emphasis on story development rather than action made the episode solid, but not really exciting.

                                The "evil" Mint in Galaxy Angel episode 22 was enjoyable. I'd argue that the last minute plot twist was totally un-necessary and highly unbelievable, but considering that this is Galaxy Angel I'm talking about, it would actually be unusual if the episode didn't pull out some bizarre coincidence or totally left-field ninth-ining surprise.

                                I finally finished another series by watching Happy Lesson episode 13 last night. I seem to start watching far more shows that I ever finish. The ending was not particularly impressive or emotive, but did manage to end essentially the way you'd expect it to, even if the ultimate ending was a little bit silly and cheesy.

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