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Time of Eve

(6 episode OVA)

I'm honestly of mixed opinion about this short OVA. On the one hand, it actually is kind of touching, and I honestly would have liked to have seen the rest of the story play out. On the other hand, it was kind of corny, and I couldn't help but think of geeks who relate a lot more with the women on their computers than with the flesh and blood women in their lives. I mean, why else would you make androids who look like gorgeous women, right?

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Okay, to be fair, the story goes a lot deeper than that, and the image above isn't actually what it looks like, at least not as far as who the android is there. The story follows protagonist Rikuo Sakisaka as he comes to discover that his family's android maid has apparently been taking side trips to a small coffee shop named The Time of Eve. Here there's a rather unusual rule, which is that humans and androids are to be treated equally, which is stated on a large sign in the shop's entrance. This makes more sense when you realize that the vast majority of androids look just like human beings except for a holographic ring that floats above their heads as required by law for that every reason. Here, the rings are turned off which really means that it's hard to know who is human and who's a skin-job, to borrow from another sci-fi, especially since, for some reason, a lot of androids act very convincingly human. So basically the story arc deals with how Rikuo overcomes his own prejudices toward androids, and the mocking from society at large that this kind of liberal attitude usually entails.

In a lot of ways, I'm honestly not surprised that this is essentially a thinly-veiled allegory for bigotry – a time-honored tradition of sci-fi, really. In this case, it was even pretty well done. In others, I find myself disappointed that that's basically what this show boils down to. Here, androids are treated basically like crap, and the big twist that most "normal" people would reject is that these androids are fully capable of experiencing emotions and of essentially being human. Oh, and the few people who stick up for androids are lumped in with the kind of people who marry their hentai video games and given the label "android-ohalic." Now, I've written before about the ethics of creating what amounts to a slave race in an essay that can be found here. As you might guess, I find the idea pretty messed up. I've also already bitched about becoming too dependant on technology in my review of Summer Wars, so I won’t repeat my short rant about it. Of course, this show does kind of take a shot at people like me, in a way. But really what it comes down to is that I find this kind of allegory rather tiresome now, and I can't help but feel that a lot more interesting questions are being glossed over thanks to the bigotry issue.

The story focuses mostly on Rikuo and his home-bot Sammy as they learn more about each other and basically fall in love, or at least develop a kind of friendship. Or something. Rikuo's kind of a dick until he undergoes a kind of personal epiphany as the story progresses, actually. For me, though, the odd thing is in the kinds of questions being asked, which is to say not to many were asked about the nature of the androids and how they became self-aware and basically human, all while electing to not conduct a robot revolution and remain in servitude. So while Rikuo asked questions about how long Sammy has been going to that coffee shop, I would have been asking about how long androids have been self aware, and how it is that they came to be self aware, along with other questions relating to that. This is, in part, because I'm an engineer, so the idea of a machine becoming self aware is both interesting and somewhat disturbing, because really when you think about it, the androids in this OVA have no reason to be any more self-aware than what you’re reading this review on. Androids should only have software, not souls; they shouldn't get happy, they shouldn't get sad – they should just run programs. So for me, the idea that they could become self aware is the interesting part, which would then be more Ghost in the Shell territory I guess, or more like what Star Trek: The Next Generation did with Data. That's why I'm disappointed this show went the more standard bigotry route.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, the show kind of took a shot at people like me by making people who are uncomfortable with the idea of having android slaves, or with humanity becoming too dependant on technology this show's version of racists. It's a group of people that calls themselves an "Ethics Committee," and they seem to be a pretty powerful group, which dedicates itself to an anti-android/robot agenda. They hate places like The Time of Eve and can apparently have people arrested if they treat androids too much like people, too, thanks to the connections they apparently have. As it turns out, Rikuo's best friend, Masakazu Masaki, is the son of a top-ranking member of this committee. Oh, and Masakazu had been going with Rikuo to The Time of Eve up until Rikuo started to soften on the whole android issue. Naturally there's a reason behind this, and it goes back to something that happened during Masakazu's childhood, because even though his father hates them, he apparently has had a robot to help out around the house for a very long time. Of course, the Ethics Committee apparently already knew about The Time of Eve and has been spying on it for a while, so that kind of leave's the coffee shop's fate a bit up in the air at the end of the OVA.

I'd be more butthurt over the portrayal of the Ethics Committee as the stereotypical bigoted people who just don't understand the androids, but honestly I can't get very worked up about it. And while I was somewhat disappointed with this show, I still found it somewhat charming, and interesting enough that I'd totally watch a full series of it, presuming one got made. But this show was brought to you by the same people who brought you Pale Cocoon, so that probably isn't going to happen.

The show also had plenty of genuinely funny moments for all the others I didn't find particularly funny, like the reference to Blade Runner, and the part were a really old robot came into the place with Terminator vision and a soundtrack to match. There are also plenty of other references to other sci-fi works that I recognized and smiled at, like a robot named THX, for example.

The downside is that it also had some other things that tended to annoy me, like the whole "socially awkward male nerd and the women who love them" crap that's so horribly common these days in anime. That and the Moé. Like the 4-year-old girl who's brought to the coffee shop by her grandfather, erm, foster father, or whatever on a regular basis.

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She insists that she's a cat, too. Isn't she just cute enough to make you want to puke rainbows? Did I mention she's given free reign of the place and likes to steal things from people so they'll play with her?

Oh god, I can feel it coming on again... Must... resist... urge... to growl...

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"Get off my lawn..."

Okay, I guess I'm better now. ;)

Another thing that annoyed me a little was the simulated camera work. This isn't exactly something I would normally make a point of complaining about because, let's face it, it's anime, but they did the whole thing with bits of shakey-cam, and really wild pans and tilts, and it was a little hard in some ways for me to watch it because of that, mostly because it was a bit distracting from what was actually going on. It does look pretty good otherwise, though.

Anyway, as I might guess, I'm not exactly a huge fan or anything of this show, but I still found it somewhat interesting and worth watching. I would still recommend this OVA, even if I'm not exactly counting it among my favorites. I'm sure some of you wouldn't be bothered at all by the stuff I found annoying or disappointing, and each episode is only 15 minutes long, so it's not like you're out a lot of time by watching this. 7/10.

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Geneshaft

(13 episode series)

This was an okay-ish series, but mostly I found myself disappointed from the get go. The series starts off with an opening scroll not unlike Star Wars, explaining the background of the little universe the series is based in. Basically, there was some big war that nearly wiped out humanity, so the survivors formed an extremely authoritarian government and set about making the "perfect" society. Humans are now completely genetically engineered and are expressly made to fulfill a particular role within society. Emotions are likewise supposed to be limited, with love in particular being singled out for elimination. One would have thought emotions like anger and hatred would have been eliminated, but nope, just love. Oh, and they apparently decided to make the female to male ratio 9 to 1, because, well, sexism mainly. Yeah, they try to explain it all, but really it comes down to gender roles and stereotypes, not to mention an excuse to have a bridge staffed full of bridge bunnies under the command of one man.

Actually, some of the women have been specially bred to be completely emotionless in order to serve as "registers" to the few men that are around to keep track of what they say and do in order to make sure they don't get out of control, and to also do pretty much everything they are ordered to do – like a secretary and a political officer all in one. Based on the premise described in the beginning of the series, I would have thought that all of humanity would be more like the registers than what they ended up being shown as, which was essentially as normal human beings. So what could have been something like Gattaca meets Equilibrium kind of fell on its face, though to be fair that's mostly from the nonsensical charlie foxtrot way the series was executed in lieu of simply failing to live up to its own premise. While there were a few token "lessons" learned about the nature of humanity, and how abhorrent the idea of humanity becoming what to me would be a nightmare, for the most part it was like the series only paid lip service to that aspect, and wanted to be something else it just couldn't quite figure out.

On the one hand it was something more along the lines of 2001, which copied both themes and imagery from, but on the other, it was mostly a generic anime that wanted to be funny more than anything. It tried really, really hard at being funny too, between the insane token lolis and the stereotypical bitch fights between some of the female characters, but I was more annoyed than anything. Which is where the disappointment really comes in, because while it was obvious that this series was going to be kind of bad from the first scene on, it was also obvious that the series could have had potential in the hands of someone who took the subject matter more seriously. And on top of that, there was also a lot of good voice talent involved (speaking of the English dub) – it had both the Major and Togusa, and Spike and Jet even showed up to visit for an episode (that turned out to be basically pointless).

And just think, I haven't even gotten to the story or characters yet. ;)

The story follows protagonist Mika Seido, a teenaged girl who has just been assigned to a special mission to investigate a mysterious ring that's taken up an orbit around the moon. We're quickly introduced to some of the supporting characters, including Mika's best friend, Sofia Galgalim. But before any of them can do anything, there's a terrorist attack on the surface of the ring, which apparently provokes the ring to open fire on Earth, taking out part of the station Mika and Seido are on. Fortunately, the ship they were supposed to be posted to for their special mission was docked there, and they were able to get there before the station self destructed, presumably to prevent large debris from falling to Earth. But not before a touching scene where a character we never know and who I don't think even had a single line dies all to establish that Mika really hates her new captain, Hiroto Amagiwa, because she blames him for the death of one of her friends and is utterly convinced that he's a heartless bastard. To be fair, he and pretty much every other human in this show's universe are, though.

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Too bad the Master Chief wasn't there to solve this one for them.

On the orders of a character named Lord Sneak (not kidding), humanity's newest battleship, the Bilkis, springs into action and manages to destroy the ring, but not before the ring takes out a small fleet of warships which were actually there to prevent the Bilkis from attacking on its own initiative. Lord Sneak then sends the Bilkis to the Jupiter moon Ganymede, to check out some ruins that he says are related to the rings. As you might have guessed though, he's hiding things from the crew of the Bilkis, as well as from Earth's governing "Council of Elders". I mean, who would've thought with a name like Lord Sneak that the guy would be sneaking around behind the scenes putting his own plan in to action?

The vast majority of the series pretty much just involves the Bilkis, which looks like a giant sting ray, flying around space attacking and being attacked by more of the gold rings, with the help of its giant mecha, which they, for some reason, have named "the Shaft". I'll admit that it was kind of fun playing with that name in my head, and that it was a lot more funny than any of the actual humor the series attempted, which mostly involved an insane loli forcing some computer geeks to resolve the buggy operating system of the Shaft. Then there was the other part, which was mainly about how Mika really hated Hiroto, and another bitchy woman named Mir Lotus, who is supposedly genetically perfect. Oh, and then later she suddenly starts caring about both of these people she was supposed to have hated so much, and to be frank really deserved to be hated by any sane and decent human being.

There was also a throw-away episode involving the space shuttle Columbia being transported to the future with Spike and Jet on board, all so they could meet the Mika and the others and comment on how completely messed up humanity has become. Naturally they react the way any normal human probably would by attempting to fight back against it by taking over the Bilkis, so if nothing else they can see Earth one last time. And then a ring shows up to transport them away, and nothing ever really comes from it aside from the message Gattaca gave much better.

When it comes to the characters, I have to say that I really didn't care for the vast majority of them. Really the only one I liked who didn't disappear within the same episode they were introduced in was Mario Musicanova, voiced by Crispin Freeman in the English dub, mostly just because he was the most normal and well-adjusted character. He also had a lot more interesting about him than the main character because he had become fascinated with how humanity used to be, and with the concept of love. Most everyone else was either bitchy, psychotic, obnoxious, or otherwise annoying, so I really wish in some ways that there had been more done with Mario's character.

And as an aside, damn the names on this show are lame.

Worth mentioning, I guess, is the giant mecha. I can't help but laugh at the idea of a humanoid robot being used for space combat, but I suppose something this particular giant robot has going for it is that it looks kind of unique. The Wiki article describes it as being "crane-like", but really it reminds me a lot more of a willow tree. It also reminds me a little of the derelict ship the aliens came from in Alien, which I suppose makes sense given the way this show rips off- I mean, pays homage to other sci-fis, and that the Shaft was made using plans from a mysterious race of giants. It also lacks a traditional head and has two projections of some kind mounted to its shoulders. Oh, and it's named "the Shaft", and its main weapon could almost be seen as being like ejaculation. Just saying. ;)

Believe it or not, though, I can actually do a little more analysis of this show, because it actually managed to have a little depth. Well, it wasn't really deep, per say, because it was pretty obvious, but I guess it was a little deeper than most of the bad shows I've seen. I'm not an expert on Japanese culture by any means, but that seems to be what the show is getting at, because there's a heavy emphasis on people being forced to serve roles within society as a duty and responsibility. From what I understand of Japanese culture, there also seems to be an emphasis there on that. This is contrasted by the 21st century humans that show up, who are real big on things like individuality and being able to be whatever they want to be. They also just happen to be Americans, who are generally seen as being all for those kinds of things. I guess if nothing else, it was nice to see the US in a somewhat positive light in an anime.

I think the best thing this series has going for it, though, is that it's fairly short, at only 13 episodes long, so if you really want to check this series, out, you aren't wasting as much time with it as you would be with a 26 episode series. To be honest, that's the biggest reason I stuck it out through this entire series. It did manage to have a few moments that I actually found interesting, but for the most part I wouldn't really recommend this series. It isn't horrible, but it is kind of obnoxious and disappointing. 3/10.

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Black Lagoon – Seasons 1 & 2

(24 episode series)

Put succinctly, this series is a valentine to action movies on both sides of the Pacific. Not a hold you down and have its way with you valentine like Star Trek: Enterprise's last episode, either, but something people who enjoy old action movies from the '80s and '90s would actually appreciate.

Now, just to be clear, this isn't exactly what I would normally consider "good" per say, but you might notice that it's still ranked fairly high on my favorites/recommendations list. Why? Because this series is fuckin' awesome, that's why. It's awesome the same way the movies RED and The Expendables are awesome. Shows like that don't try to sell themselves as anything other than mindless action, with plenty of explosions and fight scenes thrown in, but without being completely stupid. They wink and smile at what they are and have fun. That's what Black Lagoon does. It also references plenty of other cool action movies, which tells me that the people who made this movie are as big of film nerds as I am. Das Boot and Terminator 2 are probably the most obvious references, but there are a few others, along with some Japanese action schlock just to round everything out.

At the same time, this series is more than that. If I could directly compare this series to anything else, the closest I could come would be the short-lived series Firefly. It takes place on an old PT boat called the Black Lagoon, captained by an old war vet (or so we're led to believe), and crewed by misfits. However, this isn't the captain's story, it's Rock's. Once known as Rokuro Okajima, he was a typical business yuppie who took any amount of flack from anyone just so he could maybe someday move up that corporate ladder. One fateful day, he was asked to carry a disk with some of his company's dirty secrets on it, and as it just so happened the Russian mafia knew about this and decided to do a little blackmail, and so Rokuro met the crew of the Lagoon and became Rock.

There is no overall arcing story to the series, which instead is split up into a number of multi-episode story arcs. Well, I guess that's not entirely accurate – the overall story arc is how Rock changes from the business yuppie into someone harder, someone who can survive in the dark underbelly of Asia that is Roanapur. Not to mention someone who can survive having sexual tension with someone who's a breath away from blowing his brains out.

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Kind of makes the typical "Pride and Prejudice" bullshit seem laughable in comparison, really.

But the main point is that Rock not only survives, but begins to thrive, becoming a full-fledged part of the Lagoon Company, and impressing all the very bad people who make crime their business in Roanapur – people like Balalaika, the boss of Hotel Moscow. Hotel Moscow, just so you know, is a part of the Russian mafia made up entirely of an elite military group that fought in the Soviet-Afghanistan conflict.

The stories that make up the series tend to be pretty interesting by themselves, too, in a usually messed up kind of way. At one point they even managed to kind of make me feel a little sorry for some psychopathic little murdering kids. Most of the time, though, it's mostly about awesome, over-the-top action, at least until it turns into the Rock and Revy Show in the last part of the second season.

Honestly, the characters are a big part of why this series was enjoyable. Rock makes a pretty decent protagonist, who actually manages to break away from the whiny Japanese male stereotype every once in a while and actually stands up for himself. Revy is very much the Ms. Fanservice of the series, on top of being the ultimate action girl. She's nicknamed "Two Hands" thanks to her ability to accurately fire both of her handguns at the same time. She also apparently has the ability to jump something like 20 feet or better. As I hinted above, there also seems to be a bit of a romance ... thing going on between Rock and Revy, though definitely not in the traditional sense. They each seem to be drawn to aspects of the other, and other characters even call them one it, and while part of me kind of would like to see that, I guess I'm not like the typical fanboy because I can't get past how certifiably evil Revy is. She is very much the Jayne of the show. I guess that's why I was kind of disappointed when the show kind of tended to push aside Dutch and Benny so much, because those two were fairly interesting, too.

Dutch is the captain of the Black Lagoon, and the owner of the Lagoon Company, which does odd jobs for whoever pays the most. Benny is a computer nerd and the information expert of the company. Both of them are pretty laid back characters who keep themselves calm and collected.

There are also a number of minor characters who have their own little quirks that manage to make them endure themselves to the audience, even if they're bad people. Actually that's part of how the show goes over-the-top, because I think Benny is the only character who isn't messed up in some way. You know, like Balalaika, who just happens to look on the outside like she is on the inside.

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Go ahead, call her "Fry Face," I'm sure she won't mind.

The only characters I wasn't terribly impressed with were the yakuza types in the last part of the series. The show kept trying to impress me with how badass they were, and how noble some of them supposedly were, but, let's face it, they're yakuza.

Oh, and as an aside, swords could never cut through a gun. Sorry katana fanboys, but no matter how sharp they are, they aren't hard enough to cut through a gun barrel.

Anyway, as you might guess, I thoroughly enjoyed this series. It isn't remotely the kind of thing I would normally call "good," rather, it's carried by the sheer power of awesome. If you enjoy action movies, if you enjoyed Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, or Firefly, you will definitely enjoy this series, too. 9/10.

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Sekirei

(12 episode series)

Sekirei? Moar like Ecchirei, amirite?

Okay, for those of you who don't know what ecchi is, that basically translates into lots and lots of bare boobs, with the nipples actually drawn on them. Or, put another way, that fine line separating an R rating from an NC-17 rating, because showing genitals is one of the few taboos Japan seems to have, at least in their normal television programming. And what I'm getting at is that this show is one of the most pathetic excuses to show as many tits as possible. Now those of you who have been keeping up with my reviews on a regular basis know that I have nothing against fan service per say; I even prefer to have them show the bits instead of using anime anatomy if they're going to bother. No, what bothers me is when that's the entire point of the show. Oh, there's a plot, and even a weak story, but mostly this show is about how many different ways it can get women topless, and how many ways said women can practically throw themselves at some pathetic loser only for him to act like he's bloody afraid of them.

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You know, like every harem anime ever. Oh yeah, that's the other thing, this show is also all about pairing this guy up with almost every woman he comes across, and even one small girl in order to cover all the fetish bases. Oh, I'm sure some people will claim it was all innocent, and they were just playing that tiresome moé trope straight. After all, most of the time she calls the loser protagonist "big brother", but later one when one of these women insists that being kissed by him make her his wife, she was fighting over him like all the others (don’t worry, I'll explain that part a bit later). Oh, Japan, what is it with you and loli?

And just as a brief explanation of what moé is, basically it's the really cutesy character with the big eyes who talks very meekly in a high but quiet voice, and is also usually really clumsy. This was supposedly to instill the "big brother" instinct in viewers, but apparently for a large number of anime nerds it actually causes a boner. Don’t ask me to explain; I don't understand it either.

For me, though, one of the more amusing/pathetic aspects of this series was that despite it was all about throwing as many female characters as possible at the whiny male protagonist, it apparently felt the need to cover all of its bases. So not only was there an implied lesbian couple, but there was some implied boy love, too, and even a really femmy looking boy for a female character to fawn over and even dress up like a girl. You know, to hide him, I guess.

Anyway, I suppose I should actually get around to explaining what this show is actually supposed to be about. Sekirei are actually a race of aliens which just happen to look human, and most of whom happen to be attractive, large-breasted women. Their ship crashed on Earth in 1999 (the show takes place in 2020), and it was found by some crazy frakker with a dream of world complex. He names himself the game-master, and founds a large military organization called the MBI Corporation out of nothing. He then sets in motion the "Sekirei Plan", which basically involves all these large-breasted women fighting each other, sometimes to the death, because apparently there can only be one. The idea, though, since they’re magic and stuff, is for them to find a human and kiss them, thereby getting their "wings", which unlocks special powers they can then use in their fights. These humans are called ashikabi. Minato Sahashi ends up becoming one such ashikabi one day when Musubi literally falls out of the sky and into his lap. You have no idea how common something like this is in the "romantic comedy" genre of anime, and in fact when this first happened, I thought this was going to be a "magical girlfriend" series, which basically entails some pathetic loser suddenly getting the perfect girlfriend one day, who is really awesome at cooking and doing other household chores while also usually having some kind of special powers or abilities. But since Minato ends up with five or six of them, that makes this a harem anime.

It all started because Minato helped Musubi out against a couple of other sekirei, who were trying to take her out before she could become "winged". As a way of saying thanks, she kisses him, which causes her to become "winged". It also means she basically belongs to him, so you can guess where that kind of leads, or would lead anyway if Minato wasn't afraid of women who want to have sex with him. But since he lives in an apartment rented to him by an old fart who had a morality clause in the lease, he loses his apartment and ends up living in a boarding house of some kind, where it just so happens that a bunch of other sekirei also live, which includes the landlady by the by. He then ends up collecting sekirei, either by rescuing them, or because they seek him out and sexually assault him.

The fun part of all of this, though, is that supposedly at least in the beginning, all these fights are supposed to take place in secret. That's funny, because right from the start these fights were taking place in the open. The other fun part is how the fights usually result in shredded clothing and mostly naked women, because their clothes are apparently made out of something even weaker than tissue paper – just getting punched is enough to shred clothing.

Anyway, as the series progresses, Minato meets other ashikabi and sekirei, including one pair of them that actually wants nothing to do with the "Sekirei Plan" and wants to get the hell out of dodge. This kind of becomes the "drama" of the series, because by this point, MBI has completely taken over Tokyo, and for some reason the JSDF is powerless to stop them, though the series never bothers to explain why. Minato agrees to help them get out of the city, and talks most of his harem and another ashikabi with two sekirei he's managed to befriend into helping him out with this plan. But naturally things go wrong, and drama supposedly happens, including a part where Musubi is defeated and it looks like she's a goner. Then the show pulls a miraculous recovery out of its fourth point of contact that makes no sense at all, but somehow involves a multiple personality that Musubi has.

I guess if there's one positive aspect to the series, it's that Minato actually shows a little character growth from the beginning of the series – a little. Instead of being a whiny pathetic loser that cries at the drop of a hat, he's a whiny pathetic loser that cries at the drop of a hat, and actually throws a punch to defend himself. Of course he manages to knock himself on his own ass in the process, so there you go.

I'm not even going to discuss the characters any further. There are a lot of them, but there isn't a whole lot to them. Of course this show is about boobs, so I guess that's to be expected.

I'm sure some of you are probably wondering why I bothered watching this series since it's obvious I didn't like it. Well, to be honest my friends talked me into it. Every once in a while they pick out a show they know is going to be bad and subject themselves to it, and since this one didn't seem as bad as say My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute or Ouran High School Host Club, I decided to go along with it. I'm just glad it was only 12 episodes long, or at least that's all that was on NetFlix at the time. As it turns out there's an OVA and a second season, but I'm not going to bother watching those, and if you actually like this show you probably wouldn't want me to review them.

I was going to rate this a 1, but then I remembered that I rated Ah! My Goddess a 1, and that show was more interesting and less painful to watch. To be honest I can't really think of anything positive about this show anyway, so, 0/10.

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Sekirei is more or less a rip off of Zatch Bell, only with a sort of Pokemon vibe of 'Gotta Catch em all', along with boob shots everywhere instead of actual story. The story of Sekirei-- where they're suppose to battle till the last one standing seems to have been completely forgotten about and that's even after two whole seasons.

If you're looking for battles and story in the same vein then watch Zatch Bell.

Sekirei is only good if it's ecchi you're after and then there are still better alternatives.

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Hadn't heard of Zatch Bell before, which is surprising considering how many episodes there are to it.

As I watched Sekirei, I couldn't help but be reminded of things I've heard about Master of Martial Hearts from other reviewers. It's kind of sad that there seems to be a lot more of this kind of anime these days, too.

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Night Raid 1931

(16 episode series)

I hate to say it, but probably the most positive thing I can say about this series is that it tried. I mean, compared to the moé/fan service –filled crap that's been coming out more lately, it was nice to see a new series that didn't revolve entirely around boobs. By comparison, this series was actually pretty mature, though it did still indulge in a bathhouse scene.

This series is a bit like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets Forest Gump in that it follows the exploits of a secretive group of spies called "Sakurai Kikan" during significant historical events, yet has been lost to history. Oh, and these spies all have special talents, like telepathy, Nightcrawler-like teleportation, and the ability to deflect bullets using some kind of kinetic field. This show uses something of an ensemble cast of characters, so there isn't really any one protagonist. If anything, there's something of a big three between the characters of Aoi Miyoshi, Kazura Iha, and Yukina Sonogi.

The story has both stand-alone filler episodes and story arc episodes that revolve around a plot by a rogue group of Japanese soldiers who have disappeared in Manchuria. This also just happens to coincide with the Manchurian Incident, which as you might recall was a fairly transparent excuse that Japan used to invade and occupy the region so it could exploit its resources. As you might guess, the story is very involved and somewhat dramatic as our group of spies tries to figure out what's going on, as the Manchurian Incident is only just the beginning of another plot. The stand-alone episodes serve mainly to break up the tension a bit, and to do a little character development.

The thing is, while I like a good steady pace, and a series that takes its time to unravel a plot and let us get to know the characters, there just wasn't enough interesting in this series to really hold my interest. I like history, and I'm even something of a history buff, but there just wasn't enough here to keep me interested. If the series had focused more on the real historical problems, or just more on the group of spies, it might have been a bit better, but as it was, I never found myself much caring about any of the characters or what was going on around them. For a brief time there, I was thinking that this series was taking an alternate history route because the big evil secret plan was for the development and deployment of an atomic bomb in the name of creating a world-wide peace, because, you know, the Cold War was an awesome, really peaceful period in our history that never threatened to turn hot at any point. And then of course there's the whole destroying Shanghai and spreading nuclear fallout all over the Chinese countryside thing that was an integral part of their plan. But, much like The Daughter of Twenty Faces before it, despite everything that happened, including a telepathic attack that made a huge number of people experience a nuclear detonation, everything was neatly wrapped up and never spoken of again so history could resume the course that we're all familiar with.

I wanted to like this series – really, I did. It was a break from the usual tripe that makes up most of anime these days. But, it just wasn't very interesting to me. Others may feel differently, but overall my experience was very bland. It wasn't quite boring to the point that it was a chore to watch, but it certainly wasn't compelling or dramatic either. It tried, but it just didn't quite succeed, at least not with me. 6/10.

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Gunsmith Cats

(3 episode OVA)

You know, it's shows like this that kind of makes me appreciate older anime. It actually has a half-way interesting plot, characters, and a story that doesn't focus entirely around fan service. Oh sure, it still has fan service, but it's definitely not as in your face about it, or nearly as frequent, because, you know, there's a story going on.

In this case, the story follows two young female bounty hunters as they become involved in a gunrunning investigation. And by involved, I mean the ATF blackmailed them into helping, because as it turns out Irene "Rally" Vincent, and her petite partner, "Minnie" May Hopkins also run their own gun shop, and they apparently don’t quite comply with the oppressive gun laws in Chicago.

GunsmithCats01.jpg

You tell 'em, ladies.

Oh, yeah, that's the other thing, this takes place completely in Chicago, and as an aside, I really have to give kudos to the people who made this, because it's obvious that they really did their homework. While the look of the series is still somewhat cartoony, they still managed to capture the look of various American vehicles, official symbols and seals, and of Chicago itself. Hell, they even managed to convey how much Chicago hates the Second Amendment, and I bet they weren't even trying. ;)

Anyway, the story follows Rally, Minnie, and the ATF agent that blackmailed them into helping his investigation as they discover what looks like a fairly typical gang-related gunrunning operation actually goes a lot higher. This is somewhat amusing in light of more recent events involving the BATFE, which has added a few more letters to its alphabet soup since this OVA was made – you know, that whole "Fast and Furious" operation aimed at undermining the Second Amendment. Oh, don't ever change, ATF.

Okay, this show isn't really about politics, and it also isn't what might be called especially thoughtful or deep, but it does have a coherent story and a plot that moves along at a nice pace, so I still feel this is a good show overall. It also really helped that Rally and Minnie were my kind of action girls, and that even the ATF agent that blackmailed them managed to endure himself a bit to me. There are plenty of action clichés to go along with everything, but the series manages to not take itself all that seriously without quite crossing into the mindless crap that a lot of action stories often does. That being said, the big reveal at the end wasn't very surprising, but it was still interesting watching everyone get there.

So if you enjoy light action fluff, this is definitely a show you might want to watch. Honestly, my biggest disappointment with it is that this wasn't a full-blown series. This isn't quite a favorite, but it's pretty close. 8/10.

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Riding Bean

(single episode OVA)

Ah yes, the '80s. I don't quite know what it is, but there's a special something about watching old action anime like this. I mean, I know there's plenty of more modern anime that isn't afraid to show blood and guts, but for some reason the stuff from the '80s really stands out.

Anyway, as some of you no doubt know, this is actually a spiritual predecessor to Gunsmith Cats, and it even features a character by the name of Rally Vincent. Of course, like a lot of anime, as the chick, she's playing second fiddle to a male protagonist, in this case named Bean Bandit. He's a mercenary, working odd jobs as a courier of sorts, whether as a getaway driver, or to deliver a kidnap victim. Naturally, this has caused him to earn the animosity of the Chicago Police Department, and at points I couldn't help but be reminded a bit of Blues Brothers.

RidingBean.jpg

Can't quite put my finger on why, though...

Bean himself actually reminds me a bit of Johnny Bravo, between how he looks and how he sounds, he's basically the darker skinned, brunette twin of good ol' Johnny. Of course he actually succeeds at most of what he does and he probably does plenty of Rally racing, too, if you know what I mean (of course you do).

A one-off, this OVA is about an evil lesbian and her convoluted plan to kidnap the owner of some big made-up company. To do so, she hires Bean as a getaway driver after robbing a bank in the middle of a mall, and manages to get him on camera with what appears to be the daughter of the business guy in the back of his car, not long after they'd actually kidnapped said 11 year old girl. But, as it turns out, the little girl who went on the bank job with the evil lesbian is actually working for her, in more ways than one. Yes, yes, corrupted loli lesbian, lover and submissive to the evil lesbian. Oh Japan...

So the evil lesbian went through a lot of trouble to get $2 million and a hostage, all while framing Bean for kidnapping, though to be frank he was already a wanted criminal, so it's not like she'd have had to do much to get the cops on his tail. And, just as you'd expect for a simple action flick like this, everything works out for our anti-hero and his partner. And since Bean has a soft spot for kids (no, not that way, perv), he even seems to adopt the corrupted lesbian loli as an added bonus.

This is not what would really be considered a good anime – generic, simplistic, clichéd, and a bit predictable – but it was still somewhat enjoyable to watch. I'd blame it on nostalgia, but I actually only got into anime starting in 2001/2002, so it probably just has more to do with shows like High School of the Dead and Sekirei making me appreciate older anime a bit more. Of course, I've always kind of appreciated older anime, so I've never understood why so many people dismiss it out of hand. I mean, I get that the older dubs can be a bit grating, and this one's dub doesn't do it any favors either, but the stories and characters tend to be a bit more interesting, so I tend to overlook things like that.

To sum it up, this isn't quite as good as Gunsmith Cats in my opinion, though it did have a charm all it's own. I think it's still worth a watch, though. 7/10.

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[C]: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control

(11 episode series)

I have to admit, when I first heard about this series, it didn't strike me as something I'd be interested in. I forget why I ended up deciding to watch it, so all I can really do is shrug my shoulders after the fact. To be honest, I almost didn't finish watching this series after watching the first couple of episodes, but being a believer in the "three episode rule" I decided to give it one more episode before I gave up on it entirely, and it managed to keep me interested just enough to keep watching.

This series follows an average college student, Kimimaro Yoga, just trying to make it through college without ending up in debt or having to ask others for financial help. This is a nice break from the norm of watching the antics of some average high school student, but as far as the story structure goes, that fact is pretty irrelevant because everything plays out in about the same way. The series tried to make up for this a little by giving us something kind of different to introduce itself with instead of starting by introducing its rather unremarkable protagonist. That basically translated into a kind of video game battle between some generic loser who's down on his luck already and the guy who will come to be known as the antagonist. I can't say that I was especially wowed or impressed in any way. In fact, for the first two episodes, I was kind of bored by what looked like another generic fighting anime to me.

This series reminded me a lot of what I've seen and heard about Pokémon, because the series focuses almost entirely on these one on one gladiatorial style battles between two people, called "Entrés," and the monsters they all apparently own, called "assets." The "gotta catch 'em all" would be the money the Entrés are fighting over, I guess. Add to that the way everything comes off as being from a video game, what with the load announcements of the various powers being used sounding like the announcement for using a combo move in a fighting game, and I couldn't help but think of this as Pokémon with economics jargon. Oh, yeah, that's the other thing; I couldn't help but be left with the impression that this series used economic terms like the Star Trek franchise used science terms, particularly during the Voyager/Enterprise years, which is to say basically just as cool-sounding terms for the characters to rattle off while they did things. Combine that with the way the entire point of the series started coming off to me just as an excuse to fantasize about being rich and spending money and really stupid things, and I just wasn't very impressed with the series.

Thankfully, this series started to show a little depth starting in the third episode, when it became apparent that it wasn't so much about how rich some assholes were as it was about how messed up the effects of what they did in their little virtual world were when translated into the real world, like say a character losing all of his kids because he went bankrupt in this virtual Financial District. At that point it became more apparent that all the random background talk about suicides and crime being on the rise and birth rates being on the decline were more than just mood setting. To the series's credit, it did explain that the money of the Financial District, Midas Notes, used the future as collateral. However, this was rather meaningless until the series actually got around to explaining it. It also made Masakaki, the strange Mad Hatter character who invited Kimimaro into the strange world of the Financial District somewhat more sinister on top of just being generally strange and creepy.

C.jpg

It's kind of offset by his appearance, though.

The strength of this series is mainly in the depth it gives its characters rather than in its plot. The plot is basically all about saving the world, because this business with the Financial District can actually make entire nations cease to exist, landmass included. It helps to add a sense of drama as the story progresses, but it isn't terribly compelling on its own. The story is about Kimimaro and his growth as a person, which is amplified and reflected by his antagonist, Souichirou Mikuni. The two of them are both similar in that they both only wanted simple lives that they could enjoy on their own, but were caught up in the business of making money. They also both have similar goals in that both want to save Japan, but they are different in how they want to go about it. Souichirou's solution is to buy up the debt of Japan directly, but the problem is that he uses the Midas money of the Financial District, so in return for "saving" Japan, it turns Japan into a corporate financial wasteland not unlike what many dystopian sci-fis of the '80s envisioned. The main argument here is philosophical: is the present or the future worth more? Souichirou feels that the present is more important, and for a while Kimimaro isn't sure, but eventually he decides the future is worth more.

If I give this series props for anything, though, it has to be with Souichirou's character. I mean, it was obvious that he was supposed to be the villain of the series from the very start of the series, but they actually gave him some depth and made him a somewhat sympathetic character. He was basically robbed of the happy life he'd wanted when he was younger, in part by his overbearing father and in part by his own inability to stand up for himself, and the ultimate irony was that while he'd taken Kimimaro under his wing, he was essentially trying to destroy the college student the way his father had destroyed him. Things like that carried the series for me.

There was plenty, however, that knock this series down in score for me. Aside from weak opening and the other things I mentioned, there's way Kimimaro's asset, Msyu, looked like a prepubescent girl, dressed in next to nothing, and yet was pushed as a romantic interest of sorts for Kimimaro in a fairly typical fashion. Things kind of took a turn for the weird (more so) when it was revealed that Msyu actually represented a possible future daughter of Kimimaro's. Oh, and while the fan service wasn't nearly as obnoxious as something like Sekirei or High School of the Dead, it's also obvious someone on the staff had an oral fixation. There's also a -1 modifier for the unnecessary America-bashing in this series, because that shit really wears on me fast. I also can't say that I much cared for the story all that much. The series was probably trying something a bit different by making Kimimaro so unremarkable, but between there not being much for me to really root for with him, and the story being so economics-based, at least in theory, I was somewhat bored with that. What can I say? I'm an engineer, so the numbers I have to deal with actually mean something – it’s not like economics, which is basically about philosophy more than anything else.

Overall, I guess I'd say this was worth watching just the one time, but it really is unremarkable. It isn't horribly bad, but it isn't especially good either, and a good antagonist isn't enough to carry a boring story for me. 5/10.

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Have you watched Cross Game? Its my favorite, and if u have make a review? If you haveant, I highly recommend it. Dont go hating on the pictures and its about baseball because many people do and dont give it a go. 10/10 for me Give it a shot ^.-

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20th Century Boys

(live action movie trilogy)

It might be laziness on my part to combine the reviews for all three of these movies, but I guess I'd argue that there simply isn't enough to any one of these movies to make it worth writing separate reviews for them. Actually, I was kind of tempted to not do a review at all. Why? Well, mostly because I'm disappointed. Back when I first watched the first movie, I was actually kind of drawn in my the story and the mystery that made it up, but upon repeat viewing in preparation for watching the remaining two movies, and the subsequent viewing of those movies, I could see that there actually wasn't all that much to the plot, complex as it was, simply because everything was just so damn convenient. And to quote my roommate, who watched this with me recently, it's actually pretty predictable.

The movies actually are somewhat ensemble in nature, with a large cast of characters, some of which are actually able to have the story focus on them for a while. I kind of liked that about them, actually, but there was a definite protagonist - Kenji Endō. While the movies jump around through various time periods spanning 1969 – 2017, the story starts in the summer of 1969 with Kenji and his group of friends building a secret hideout in the long grass of a vacant lot, apparently on the edge of Tokyo. They decide to form their own little secret group of heroes, out for justice, and even write an illustrated story about how they're totally going to save the world from an alien invasion at the end of the 20th Century. Childish stuff, really, and something they all forgot about when they grew up. Fast forward to the late '90s, and there's a cult lead by a masked man, calling himself Friend, who has co-opted the old symbol Kenji's friends used as kids. Worse yet, Friend is making doomsday predictions right out of the little book Kenji wrote with the help of his friends back in 1969.

This is where things really start taking a turn for the impossible, really. While it was easy to get caught up in the plot of an enemy in the midst of Kenji and his friends and Friend making the old childhood fantasy come true, when you think about it, that would have been bloody impossible. I could take a shot at L. Ron. Hubbard and Scientology pretty easily here, but honestly as a nerd, the first thing that came to mind would be if Sybok, the bad guy from Star Trek V: Shatner's Ego, had somehow formed a cult in Japan and successfully taken over the world by having everyone he came in contact with "share their pain" with him. Nonsense, really, especially how he not only managed to get people from within the police and government to join him, but scientists who could actually make the killer virus Kenji and his friends thought up as the basis for their end of the world story, along with a giant robot, a laser pistol, and flying saucers. And if that wasn't enough, he not only managed to successfully got Japan to elect him into power, but he somehow became a world leader and managed to seduce the entire world, except for a few small hold-outs who then became terrorists to fight him. It wasn't exactly like he hid his authoritarian angle, either, and it wouldn't exactly take a rocket scientist to figure out the convenience of the virus attacks in his rise to power.

It gets worse, though. Apparently not being satisfied with unleashing a bioengineered virus on humanity that kills 100% of the people it infects by making their blood boil before bursting through their skin like a blood-filled water balloon. Kind of like the marines in Starcraft. Actually, the virus acted a lot more like a chemical agent, especially given the rapid effect it had and the fact it was deployed as a mist that had to rain down on people to infect them. That and how the bad guys deploying it were apparently protected just by wearing gas masks. Fun fact, you need a full chemical suit to protect you from most chemical agents that would kill you like that. Kenji and his group actually managed to get a hold of some for the final battle of the first movie, and they were protected, apparently. Why am I bothering to nitpick like this? Good question. I guess, I just happen to know that a chemical suit in all likelihood wouldn't protect you from a virus because it isn't air-tight, and it doesn't have its own built-in air supply, and the filter in a gas mask probably wouldn't actually keep a virus out. Depends on the virus, really, but there's a reason why in Outbreak that the scientist-types wore the kind of suits they did. I guess I have the Air Force to thank for that bit of knowledge. Really, though, considering that this movie trilogy also used something like the fridge from Indy 4, only it was the cab of a crane, and it was literally at the center of the nuclear explosion. Of course all of Kenji's friends that were around in close proximity and in the open to the thing when it went off also all managed to survive, and the radiation that typically goes along with a nuclear explosion apparently also just vanished.

So, as you can see, everything was just to serve the contrived plot. A nuke going off at the end of the movie only served to make us wonder if all of our heroes had died and if Friend had successfully brought about the end of humanity, just so they could be revealed to be alright in the next movie. The plot of the next movie was pretty much the same as the first, with everything written in the old childhood stories coming to pass. One of those things was that Friend would ascend to godhood when he came back to life after having been shot to death by an assassin – something that just shouldn't have been believed by anyone but just was because the movie needed them to. Pretty much everything involving Friend was all about misdirection, both with the story and the way the audience was lead along with the identity of Friend, which naturally wasn't revealed until the end of the last movie.

I'd say the other main annoyance factor of the movie was in how it seems like Japanese actors just seem to have a hard time being convincing in anything other than a comedy role. Admittedly, they were much better in this movie than the actors in the live action Higurashi. The only reason I'm even bothering to mention this is just that there were a lot of times when the characters were crying and the movie was trying to be dramatic and tug at my heart strings, but I just ended up laughing at the unintentional humor caused by actors trying way too hard.

Speaking of trying to tug at heart strings, Friend's motivation at the end is revealed to essentially boil down to him having been picked on as a kid and no one wanting to be his friend. It might have helped if he hadn't been such a creepy little bastard, but we're also informed that Kenji stole something from a sidewalk stand and Friend ended up taking the blame for it. Apparently being accused of ripping off a cheap little plastic badge was enough to make the kid ostracized by all of his classmates, who pretended he was dead, and actually ended up thinking he actually was dead. So basically Friend is the ultimate emo kid, only instead of cutting himself, he cut all of humanity. The epilogue at the end of the third movie tried to play this out even more by having Kenji enter a VR that simulated all the relevant parts of the late '60s and early '70s, just so he could pull a do-over with the kid that would end up becoming Friend. Of course, the reality of the movie is that most of humanity is still dead and Kenji couldn't actually make up for what he'd done to Friend, but whatever.

If there is anything positive to say about these movies, the first one in particular, it's that the characters are generally very likable. It was easy to sympathize with them, and to be honest they made me a little nostalgic for my own youth. The bits of comedy relief were also nice, but unfortunately that wasn't nearly enough to carry the movie.

I wanted to like this movie and its sequels, but I just couldn't get over how convenient everything was, and in the end how pointless it was, really. I guess these movies might be worth a watch, but the other bad thing about them is that they really feel their length, with each one being over 2 hours long.

First movie – 6/10 (decent set-up, interesting characters, but convenient and predictable).

Second movie – 5/10 (contrivances, unfunny humor, and not much to keep me interested).

Third movie – 4/10 (Rinse and repeat, but at least it's over now).

In the end, I was mostly just glad to be done with the movie, and to have satisfied the curiosity the first movie managed to generate, even if I was disappointed.

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Have you watched Cross Game? Its my favorite, and if u have make a review? If you haveant, I highly recommend it. Dont go hating on the pictures and its about baseball because many people do and dont give it a go. 10/10 for me Give it a shot ^.-

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Ahhh I see, well im glad that you atleste responded back with a reason. Thanks ^.-

Honestly i didnt like baseball nor do i do now. Its like one of those sports movies that really get you hyped and inspired and wanting more if u know what i mean. Also the comedy part is not your ordinary comedy at all. Ehh well if u get bored, watch the first ep, and see how u feel.

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