Hidden Gems I’ve finished recently.

Hello all!  Recently I’ve been finishing a lot of anime series that I started months and months ago, because I’m watching 50+ series at the moment and my summer holiday is finally giving me some time to finish them.  I thought I’d talk about a few underrated gems here, some which need to be polished a little, but others which are pretty darn shiny and just need more attention.

Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou

Danshi pic

While this may be more well known than some of the other anime on this list, I don’t hear/see as many people talking about this as much as some similar comedy anime.  While there are some golden moments of comedy in this series, some relateable moments from high school students (mostly boys, but girls feature in this too) and scenes which I would highly recommend to any anime fan, unfortunately, this series wasn’t as good as I was hoping.  This being a sketch comedy, comparable to something like Nichijou where similar themes and comedy skits pop in throughout, it started better than it finished, on the whole.  While Nichijou succeeded in referencing previous moments of the show and still retained originality by presenting new jokes/scenarios in each episode, Danshi ended up repeating itself and most of the jokes became predictable and overused about halfway through the 12-episode series.  Luckily, the characters are the highlight of this show, and while being well-developed for a comedy anime, part of the humour lies in their unpredictably, but I guess that’s normal with teenagers, eh?

While, on the whole, Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou was still a very good laugh and deserves to be mentioned and referenced more in and outside of the anime community, sadly the humour doesn’t quite match the quality of more famous, popular comedy shows of similar genres.

Gunslinger Girl

Gunslinger Girl pic

I have mixed opinions about this series.  It presents some fairly original, controversial ideas concerning the ethics of developing gun-shooting, purpose-built cyborgs from badly injured girls who otherwise wouldn’t survive.  While this idea is to the show’s advantage, for me the anime didn’t quite capture the seriousness of the actual concept.  This was partially because the facial expressions throughout the series, particularly those of the young girls’, were rather flat, almost as if the girls had plastic faces that couldn’t move very much and were strained into mostly very subtle expressions (I’m pretty sure that even cyborgs’ faces aren’t made of plastic, considering how human-like they are in almost every apsect).  While the relationships between the cyborg girls and their “handlers,” (the men who look after them and take them out on combat missions to fight crime) are well shown and are good/interesting for the most part, we do not get enough time to relate to most of the girls and the handlers as individuals.  The show focusses on one character in particular, especially as the series comes to a close (which is one of the more surprising moments in the series, the ending being fairly good for such a short anime).  The portrayal of Italy in this anime, particularly the Tuscan architecture and landscapes, is detailed, engaging and interesting, although this is coming from a Tuscany fan, so I may be biased.  The slightly inaccurate portrayal of Italians (making them seem more Japanese in behaviour than Italian) can be just about excused, at least by me, considering this was a Japanese animation.  Also, the scenarios in which some of the characters are put is quite interesting, and the personality change of one of the girls was surprising and helped the story.  

I would recommend this animation simply for the concept alone, but please bear in mind that it could have been executed a little better.  I wonder if this anime had been made more recently whether it would have looked and felt better?  I guess we shall never know…

Karneval

Karneval pic

This anime is full of bright colour, fancy costumes, and a range of colourful characters.  The animation is gorgeous throughout and the character designs are beautiful and inventive, while being reminiscent of a few other fantasy/historical anime.  Our main character, Nai, is absolutely adorable, and relateable throughout most of the series, despite the fact that he is not entirely human…  Gareki, while being your typical stern, slightly grumpy male protagonist, gradually opens up as the show goes on and seeing his relationship with Nai is very sweet, this is possibly one of the highlights of the show.  While the majority of side characters here are interesting and entertaining, we possibly don’t get quite as much backstory about them as they themselves deserve, and consequently they feel slightly flat compared to the main characters, which is a shame, because they had more than enough potential.  Some of the personality changes/reveals as the show goes on are fairly intriguing, while others seem a little forced and random.  Also, the world we see in the anime seems very original, well-developed and vibrant, but we don’t get to see enough of it and we don’t have enough background about the different places and politics in the story, at least in my mind.  

All in all, Karneval is a lovely series (with one of my absolute favourite ending songs, funnily enough!).  Its main, most glaring flaw, is that it is too short.  A show like Karneval is ideally at least 24 episodes long, enough time to explore all of the characters and setting that we only get to glimpse briefly in this anime.  I know that a lot of studios don’t have the budget to see a series through to the end of the original story/manga, but I feel it would have been particularly nice for this underappreciated show.  I would definitely recommend this to people who are fans of show like Black Butler, as the animation style is similar, but there are not too many dark moments despite the feeling of suspense and adventure throughout the series, making this show more suitable for younger/more sensitive viewers as well.

Kurozuka

Kurozuka pic

Before I go into the highlights of this show, I’ll deal with the more negative stuff first…

There are some moments in this series, in terms of the bending of physics, that, even for an anime, seem absolutely ridiculous.  Considering the realistic animation here that is reminiscent of many sci-fi and cyberpunk anime, these cartoonish moments feel jarring and forced.  Separately, the main character seems a little flat most of the time, although he does improve towards the ending of the show.  Lastly, the separation of different timelines is very confusing at first, which may initially put viewers off.

And now, onto the highlights…

This seriously dark and beautiful show ended up being very interesting, engaging and heart-wrenching.  It also presents the vampire theme in a good, mature way, making it probably one of the better series with vampire characters that I’ve seen.  If you’re going into this expecting something like the Twilight Saga, sorry, you’re going to be majorly disappointed.  The vampires in Kurozuka are better.  Period.  There are a lot of Japanese themes presented in this anime as well, with mythology and history being referenced in an intriguing way, enough to keep mythology and history buffs interested.  Having said that, this show also has some very well executed sci-fi elements, again, allowing the vampire theme to be presented in a fairly original light.  There is enough gore for any Hellsing Ultimate fan, which will likely put off some viewers, but if you can get through it, there’s enough action and a reasonable amount of character development here for you instead, along with, as I’ve already mentioned, the fantastic animation.  The main characters, for the most part, are very well done, and you become attached to most of the (good) side characters as well.  There are certain reveals at the end, mostly relating to the main characters, which were pretty much unexpected for me, and the ending of the show, in my mind, was a worthy conclusion, one of the better anime endings I’ve seen for a while.

All in all, while this show has some flaws, it is on the whole a very engaging, well presented story.  While the mixing up of timelines at the beginning of the series is very confusing, as you basically have no idea what’s going on, once parts of the story start falling into place, you feel more engaged with the characters and the plot and you’ll be able to enjoy the show much better.  While I’d normally recommend watching the first two episodes of an anime to decide whether you want to continue it, I’d maybe recommend watching the first three or four episodes of Kurozuka before deciding whether or not to press on with it.

And the main message to take away from this blog post is…

Don’t be afraid to try shows that people aren’t constantly mentioning!  Feel free to dive into more obscure/random/unique shows, as you may well find something you like.  I hope that you’ll feel inspired to watch one or more of the shows I’ve talked about, whatever your preferential genre is.  If you haven’t watched much anime before, out of all of these, I’d recommend Danshi the most, as it gives a fairly good impression of modern anime comedy and it’s fairly accessible for people who are not so aware of anime/Japanese culture.  I’d then, in order, recommend Karneval, Gunslinger Girl, and Kurozuka.  

Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll attempt to recommend Hidden Gems that are great for people who are new to anime!  I’ll recommend shows that I’ve already mentioned in previous blog posts, and talk about others which I haven’t yet brought up.  

An underappreciated anime saga: Giant Robo.

I remembered a hidden anime gem that I forgot to mention in my last post, and thought I’d talk about it today.  It may have a certain cult following among die-hard anime fans and people who watched anime back in the day, but I wouldn’t be surprised if most new viewers haven’t heard of it/haven’t bothered to watch it, and I only heard of it through recommendations from older anime fans.  It definitely deserves to be talked about and viewed more!

 

Despite the fact that it’s a pretty old anime (released from 1992 to 1998), Giant Robo: The Animation, based on manga by Mitsuteru Yokoyama, still packs a punch, and is certainly still a gripping, emotional rollercoaster of an OVA (original video animation).  The series is basically made up of seven short movies, a format which adds a more “epic” tone to the show, and allows for longer, more intense stories during most of the episodes.

Giant Robo the Animation 1

So, what’s it about?  Giant Robo’s main theme is basically “the environment”, but it goes into a lot of depth, presenting contrasting viewpoints concerning the development of alternative, renewable energy sources.

Hold on, have I started to lose you there?  Bored of soppy, environmental messages about how we should abandon fossil fuels and create a greener planet?  I would argue that they’re not soppy messages in this show, but well, OK, there’s stuff for you here as well.  The Giant Robot which lends to the show’s name is pretty cool, although, if you’re a mecha fan, I wouldn’t get too hyped, as he doesn’t appear quite as much as you’d think.  There’s more than enough action sequences throughout the show, with different types of fighting style, for all of you fans of fighting anime (from katana duels to fist fights) and there’s brilliant character developments, with a few surprise twists and turns here and there.  The atmosphere of the anime is pretty darn dramatic, as two factions fight, one trying to save the world, and the other trying to save it.  This leads to more deaths than the majority of “teen friendly” anime that I’ve seen, making it perhaps a little more gruesome and heart-wrenching than you might expect.  Just make sure you don’t show this to your toddler/easily upset child, this is not a kids’ show.

It’s worth remembering this series in a time when the future is very uncertain.  Unlike Giant Robo: The Animation, conversely, we now seem to be in a world where support of scientific research into renewables is decreasing rather than increasing.  Either way, Giant Robo emphasies the fact that relying on one source entirely can be dangerous and lead to unexpected consequences.  Renewables are obviously going to be necessary at some point in the future when fossil fuels are almost exhausted, but at the same time, back-up plans can be life-savers.

Anyhow, I highly recommend Giant Robo: The Animation to anyone who is looking for a new anime to watch, and has at least some passing interest in philosophical sci-fi anime with a partial focus on technology and mechas.  And if you’re missing shows like Game of Thrones with their twists and turns, corruption, conspiracies, and multiple character deaths, this may be a show for you.  🙂  Enjoy!

 

A first for me!

So I came across this BEAUTY on Facebook  today whilst killing time at work…

Underexposed Anime Masterpieces

Whilst looking over this list it came to my surprise that I’ve not seen a single one of these series before. This was a first for me! The title of the post is Underexposed Anime Masterpieces so here’s the question. Who’s is in charge of an anime’s exposure? Why are some series more exposed than other’s? And why are there so many fantastic series out there that were never recognised for their quality? Needless to say I’ve added all of these series to my list and I plan to watch them all this weekend.Of course I’ll tell you all about them once I’ve finished watching. Have look for yourself and tell me if you’ve seen any of these before.

saikano

Thank you Akemi Mokoto and Goboiano

Dusk Maiden Of A Ummm..

This was supposed to be the second part of my previous Valentines double post but, the demands of a working life never allow anyone to do things as planned. Anyways here is a romance series that was never meant to be.

dusk-maiden

Series Information

Dusk Maiden of Amnesia (Tasogare Otome × Amunejia)

Directed by: Shin Ōnuma

Written by: Maybe

Studio: Silver Link

Anime based on the Manga of the same name.

Genre: Supernatural and Romance is the key themes in this series. It does have a bit of Drama,Horror,Harem and Comedy on the side with a dash of Mystery. It’s a fantastic balance of Dreary and Lively

This one has a great mixture of gorgeous visuals and a gripping story-line.

Here’s the gist of the plot. Teiichi Niiya has just enrolled at Seikyou Private Academy… Yes I know I know this is how every High school anime starts off but please read on. He meets a girl named Yuuko Kanoe who reveals herself as a ghost with no memories. Teiichi then decides to investigate her death by looking through the school’s seven mysteries revolving around her. Throughout the story, Teiichi and Yuuko discover the truth about these ghost stories while helping those who are troubled. It is discovered that Yuuko has no memories as she forced her entire reason for existing into another dark form referred to as “Shadow Yuuko”. If she can accept this part of her, she can remember why she is still trapped as a ghost, i.e. her final wish.

So why should you watch this ?

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I have to admit I was a bit surprised by the lack of interest in this series when I first discovered it.Whilst browsing through a list of series that was recently release that year I found this little gem at the bottom of the list.It looked interesting enough so I started to watch it. Please note that this list was in order of popularity, after binge watching all 13 episodes a couple things came to mind. Firstly why is this series so short and secondly how have I not heard of this series before?

This question still eludes me to this day seriously Dusk Maiden has so much to offer. I’ll start with the animation and atmosphere. The name says it all ‘Dusk Maiden’, the animation is fantastic and does a really good job of capturing that alluring feeling of twilight. Yuuko Kanoe is in-fact a ghost and a very beautiful one at that. The animation style perfectly portrays her ghostly movements, her hair flows beautifully and the orange and red of the twilight against her pale skin is mesmerising. The whole series is bathed in this beautiful twilight feel and it gives it a whole other dimension.

Next is the characters; while I’m not going to dive into much details and spoil it for you, what I will say is they are all very likeable if not lovable, especially Yuuko she’s the best. While I have to admit there were some points where I felt kind of annoyed at the character’s decisions throughout the series, I did come to realise why they chose the path they did.

Finally the story-line, when watching the series there were many points throughout in which I felt a slight twist in my stomach either because of fear of what was going to happen or realisation of what did happen. The series isn’t all like this however, there are lots of light hearted moments and lots of comedy woven in. What I will say is there are some very unsettling dark parts within this series. The horror element does show itself quite vividly in this series. A word of warning watch until the very end of the credits otherwise you will miss key moments.

You can find this series at Crunchyroll.com

Please tell me what you thought about this series in the comments below.

I am always open to suggestions and constrictive criticism please leave a comment below.