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Castle in the Sky

(1986 movie)

You know, I wasn't expecting a whole lot from a 1986 anime movie about a floating castle, but this actually wasn't that bad. Sure, it was kind of cutesy at times, and while the animation style kind of dates, the story still holds up pretty well.

The story itself is set in a kind of generic European country about 1900 or so. It's steampunk, though, so dates don't mean much. Cars and airplanes seem to be that very early vintage, along with artillery and small arms, but there are flying battleships and dirigibles that make it pretty steampunk. Actually in some ways this reminds me of Nadia, as far as everything revolving around a young girl with a special blue necklace who turns out to be a princess of a lost city. It's just that in this case the city is floating in the air rather than the water.

There's some standard boy-meets-girl along the way, with some air pirates who aren't so bad thrown in for fun. The story is paced fairly well, not moving very fast, but not dragging things out unnecessarily, either. Naturally a movie like this has a message, which seems to be very strongly environmental. Not so much "save the planet" so much as over-emphasizing the importance of trees and wild animals. It also has something of a generic anti-military message, but then that tends to go hand in hand with the kind of friendly, romantic view of pirates this movie ended up having.

There really isn't all that much else to say about this movie, other than that it's worth a watch. 7/10.

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Charger Girl Juden-chan

(12 episode series)

This series ... wow, I don't know how I made it as far into the second episode as I did or why I even chose to put it on my list of anime to watch. Oh, wait, I'm pretty sure the reason why was the fan service, and by fan service in this case I mean practically porn (the term is hentai, you uncultured swine! ;) ). And by porn, I mean something for people even more perverted than I am. As for what I mean by that, well, it's a big part of why I just couldn't keep watching.

Believe it or not, at first I found it kind of funny, in a "let's make fun of weird hentai" kinda way; I mean, they even showed bits of a stereotypical tentacle hentai that the main character, Plug, would catch at random points on TV in a manner that pretty much had me convinced they were making fun of this kind of thing, along with the "magical girl" genre. Instead, it turned out worse.

I know Japan is somewhat disturbingly misogynistic, and this has shown itself in some of the stuff I've already watched, but this was just way over the top. Basically, while normal humans can't see or touch the magical girls who fly around and cure people of depression by electrocuting them (yeah, that's really the premise of the series), the male lead can, and he usually reacts to them by getting pissed off and hitting them in the head with a baseball bat, the usual result being that they would then literally piss themselves. This was played for laughs, and at the point I just had to turn it off, one of the invisible women he was doing this to was somehow developing an attraction to this man and actually stated that being beamed in the head by him actually felt good.

Now, a lot of people tend to confuse the fact that I like to drool over naked women means I'm some kind of troglodyte, but really I just love how great women tend to look nekkid. That doesn't mean I don't respect women, and in fact that's why I just couldn't take this series anymore – because a man beating women until they pissed themselves was played as funny and sexy.

So to sum things up, I really wasn't expecting more than some animated nudity and some sex jokes, but even that low expectation managed to leave me coming away offended and feeling a little dirty for having watched as much as I did. 0/10.

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Chiko, Heiress of the Phantom Thief

(22 episode series)

This was actually a pretty good series. It wasn't quite what I initially thought it was going to be, and I have to say, I think it actually worked out better that way.

This series does have some of the standard clichés: a mysterious rogue, a young apprentice becoming a master, an evil plan being carried out by a mad scientist, etc, but it also tends to mix things up a bit.

At first, the series seemed to be a lot more about the Phantom Thief, who is a bit of a Robin Hood figure – stealing famous treasures and returning them to their rightful owners. It's in doing this that he comes across Chiko, a young heiress whose aunt is plotting to kill her for her inheritance. The Phantom Thief stealing her along with a famous ruby she happens to have just seems to be part of what the Phantom Thief is all about. But he is a mysterious character, and really he's pretty much impossible to figure out. We do learn bits about his past, which has something to do with the recently ended Second World War. Some of his jobs have also involved the destruction of things he was apparently involved in developing, like an impossibly huge airplane found sunken at the bottom of the ocean.

So basically, it seems like this series is going to be about Chiko traveling along with and becoming a part of the Phantom Thief's gang, which is naturally more like a family than an actual gang. The Phantom Thief even seemed to be setting her up to someday take his place. That's just when the series changes things up and kills almost every single member of the Phantom Thief's gang. There's a bit of a depressing transitional period, and then the real story starts to reveal itself, the pieces falling into place with each episode.

The pacing is fairly good, but I have to admit to a little disappointment with the large periods of time that are being skipped. I do understand though that it might drag things out unnecessarily otherwise. It's just that in the beginning, the series skips almost three years' worth of time Chiko spends with the Phantom Thief and the gang, effectively turning it into a montage of what will become the teenaged girl's memories when she returns to a more normal life. Then, at the end of the series, it skips three years again. Really the last episode is more of an epilogue than anything else. I guess that means it was an okay last episode, but it was a little anti-climatic given what had just happened with the mad scientist's evil plan ripping a huge hole in Tokyo and all.

Which leads me to a few asides. I have to admit, that I thought this series was going more of the alternate history route, even though it was obvious that the war that everyone was talking about having recently ended was WWII. Thing is, there were a few airships that showed up, along with that impossibly huge tank and that impossibly huge airplane. It all seemed so steampunk-ish, or maybe dieselpunk. The technology associated with the mad scientist's plan seemed that way, too, and given the aforementioned hole being ripped into Tokyo, well everything seemed to be pointing toward an alternate history story set in something like the early 1950s. Well, wrong again, they filled in the hole, built Tokyo Tower, and apparently forgot everything about what happened, along with the supposedly world famous Phantom Thief. Then there was Chiko's role in the gang, which along with becoming an awesome buttkicker, she was also relegated to being the cook, maid, and seamstress of the gang by virtue of being female. That's actually somewhat amusing considering that Chiko is a rich girl who has always had servants to do those kinds of things for her, yet she is somehow supposedly good at doing all of them and is happy to do them. Oh, Japan... ;)

I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who might be interested in a kind of mystery/adventure story. There's some comedy relief, too, but thankfully they didn't go over the top with it. Over all this series was very well done, despite a few flaws as I noted, and a few nitpickier ones I didn't bother to bring up. I hope that an English dub will be made for this series someday. 9/10.

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Chobits

(26 episode series)

This series is every bit as stupid and pointless as one of my friends warned me it would be. I have to admit though that I only even gave this one a chance because it looked like it could be funny and have some nice fan service, but the attempts at comedy just completely fell flat, or were done so much that it completely lost any comedy value something might have initially had.

Jokes about internet porn and a retarded computer shaped like a teenaged girl imitating everything the main character does might be funny the first time (not that they really were), but when it's constantly done it becomes grating. Probably the most amusement I garnered from this complete waste of time was that the main character was being voiced by the same actor who did Captain Tyler, in the same type of voice (the actor actually does have a bit of a range). That's probably because the main character was supposed to be a simpleton, what with coming from the farm and all.

I could tell that this was supposed to be one of those cutesy romantic comedy (aka chick flick) type shows, but frankly the idea of romance with a computer is pervy, especially given that Chi (the computer) looked like jailbait. Oh, Japan... And just think, there were apparently 26 episodes of this crap, and from what I read they actually left it open for even more. I could barely sit through 2. I admit that I probably gave Ah! My Goddess! more of a chance despite kind of being along the same vein, and maybe Chobits might have proven to have a few interesting mini-stories like Goddess did, but I just didn't see anything even remotely worth keeping me watching. At least Goddess had a few moments and characters like the Motor Club to keep me amused, but Chobits had nothing, nothing. 0/10.

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Chrome Shelled Regios

(24 episode series)

Yet another post-apocalyptic series with an environmental message. There are even giant bugs in this one, too. In fact, if there had been giant mecha, well let's just say I would have been a little more amused. Really though, I was pretty much just bored out of my mind with what I watched out of this series. It was very stereotypical in the kind of characters there were and the kind of fighting there was.

Basically, the world is a desert wasteland, and humans are getting by living in giant domed cities that can actually slowly cruise around in order to avoid the giant bugs, and so they can fight one another over dwindling resources. Oh, and there are special academic cities, since apparently none of the other normal cities are big enough to just have a university in them. One of the special rules of the cities fighting is that the university cities can only attack one another since they have so many military arts students, and the fights themselves are more like games of capture the flag, but with real weapons and real casualties. And while there are some guns, mostly they fight with weird weapons that morph from just a handle into a sword, whip, staff, or some other kind of weapon. Plus there's magic they can use to fight and do the physically impossible with. It comes off like a fighting game, really.

So while some people might be into the kind of stuff this series has to offer, I really wasn't. About the only thing I might have found interesting would be character drama, but there just wasn't enough in the first couple of episodes to make me even want to start watching the third episode. There was a little potential there, but mostly it was focused on setting the male lead character up with about 3-4 female characters, including the captain of his platoon. 0/10.

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Mostly what I'd read about them on TV Tropes and/or Wikipedia that made them sound good, or at least that they might have some fan service worth seeing. For instance watching Chobits (or at least starting to) was mostly out of seeing what kind of fan service it might have, and AMV Hell 4 is pretty much the reason for that. Chrome Shelled Regios looked like it might actually be interesting to watch based on what I'd read about it. Aftr all, on the surface, it sounded like Blue Gender, and I still kind of liked that series even if I hated the ending and the "message" it had.

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Claymore

(26 episode series)

So, we have a show set in a Medieval fantasy world, following a beautiful female knight wielding a giant sword that she uses to kill demons. Sounds kind of awesome, right? Well, that's what I thought, but really it wasn't quite what I was hoping. It really came off as basically any other anime involving a sword wielder, though usually the sword is a katana. In other words, this series was nothing really new or special. It wasn't really bad, but it wasn't that good, either.

As far as the story went, most of it has to do with these demon creatures, yoma, which have a craving for human innards. They are pretty nasty creatures, often hiding out by eating the brain of a victim for their knowledge and memories (not sure how that works, exactly) and then shape-shifting into that victim's appearance in order to imitate them. They're basically impossible for normal humans to beat. The answer seems to be from a mysterious organization with no name: create human/yoma hybrids by implanting the flesh and blood from yoma corpses into a human's body. Oh, by the way, they only use women because men don't last as long. Seems the long term result of this is that the new warriors will eventually lose their human side over to their yoma side, and as it turns out having your body morph into a monster feels like having an orgasm, or something, so men don't last as long. Hah, long elaborate sex joke.

I was sort of hoping the show would do something interesting with the yoma, but aside from a little bit in the very beginning of the series, they were pretty stereotypical enemies. While mysterious origins can be interesting, the show never really even went there, and while it might have added some depth to them by having the victims who the yoma are imitating survive and come through some times, like I said, that only ever turned up briefly in the first episode. A little more interesting were the "awakened beings", which were really just Claymores who have lost control to their yoma halves. Mostly, though, the yoma simply served as something for Clare, the title Claymore whose adventures we follow, and her other fellow Claymores to hack apart.

What the story ended up being, though, was a pretty basic story of revenge. Clare had a pretty messed up childhood, which we did get to see part of, and someone important to her was killed. Naturally the shadowy organization isn't exactly made up of "good guys", and it's made clear that they didn't create Claymore warriors to wipe out the yoma and in doing so preserving humanity, but rather for profit. And while it is very difficult to produce warriors like Clare, the organization is perfectly fine using them as expendable assets.

The show also dabbles a bit in romance and romantic drama, or rather tries to. Raki is a teenaged boy who is exiled from his village because of some suspicion that he might become a yoma because his entire family was killed by one, which then imitated Raki's older brother until Clare killed it. He's also a whiny loser, who constantly cries like a little kid. And, despite being a little weakling even by human standards, he has it in his head that he can somehow protect Clare in return for her saving his life (which at the time was only incidental to her job at his village). Still, somehow we are to believe that Clare develops romantic feelings for Raki. I just never really got into it, despite part of me kind of wanting to. I know it was probably an attempt at reversing gender roles, because Clare was strong, able, and relatively stoic, while Raki was weak, practically useless (though a good cook, apparently), and constantly cried and whined. I've seen other attempts at doing this kind of thing that actually mostly pulled it off, primarily because they didn't turn the guy into a pathetic whiny loser and weakling in the process.

Anyway, I wouldn't say that this series is completely uninteresting – I did watch all of it, after all – but there really isn't anything particularly interesting that might help this series stand out or make it different from any other hack and slash anime. 7/10.

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Space Pirate Captain Herlock: The Endless Odyssey

(13 episode OVA)

This is actually a fairly complex story, and it was worth the time to watch it. There was some oddball philosophy to go along with it, not to mention some serious male stereotyping and the usual romantic vision of pirates, but for the most part the story this OVA told was interesting.

The story starts on a trash heap planet, which people live on despite it being a trash heap. A scientist type has a rebelling son, Tadashi, who is heading down the path to his own destruction. Like father, like son, as it turned out. Naturally, Tadashi ends up joining the mysterious Captain Herlock after the death of his scientist father. He's basically the odd man out, as things aboard the ship, Arcadia, are not what he expects. Yet somehow through this, he becomes a man, or so everyone in the OVA insists.

One thing I really liked here was the complexity of the characters. There were some definite stereotypes, but there was also at least one exception. There was one character who, for all intents looked to be the next Hitler, turning the "space sheriff's" department he is a high ranking officer in into the space Gestapo. Later this character seems to realize the error of his ways, and even comes to respect his enemy, Captain Herlock.

The subject matter was surprisingly serious considering the seemingly cartoonish nature of the visual design. Most of the characters looked kind of like monkeys, and then there were things like a prison satellite being connected by a chain to an artificial planet (the stereotypical ball at the end of a chain), or that the Arcadia had an old galleon style stern and wooden wheel, and sprouted a big knife in its bow for ramming attacks.

As for the story itself, well it's kind of reminiscent of Babylon 5's Shadow story arc – a scientific expedition is entirely wiped out save one person after coming in contact with a mysterious and ancient evil that has remained hidden for a long time. That's about where the similarities end. Basically it goes overboard on the whole demons and hell theme.

Actually, one of the things I really didn't care for was how invincible Herlock was. I know he's supposed to be the one we're all rooting for, but he literally was impossible to beat, which made him something of a Gary Stu in my opinion. I guess you could say the same about his ship, the Arcadia, which was also basically impossible to beat, and could even run without a crew. It wasn't enough to ruin the show, but it did kind of annoy me a little.

Anyway, I'd say this OVA is definitely worth a watch, and I'm actually interested in seeing the original version of this now, if nothing else to see if the same kooky philosophy of some ancient evil force being responsible for all the evil in the world and even for the spiral shape of galaxies (instead of gravity, and ignoring all the other types of galaxies) is also present in it. 7/10.

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Cosmo Warrior Zero

(15 episode OVA)

In some ways I'm still trying to decide what to make of this OVA as I write this. It's mostly a fairly typical space opera, espousing the principles of getting along with one another despite differences, living by a code of strong principles, and so on – everything one would expect from something of this genre. It was also mostly fluff, with a lot of comedy relief; too much comedy relief to really be taken seriously. The thing is, the series tended to bounce back and forth between having a serious storyline with some actual drama and being a comedy that happily makes fun of space operas. So that's why I'm having some trouble making up my mind about this OVA.

It doesn't help things that Crispin Freeman is playing the lead role as Captain Warrius Zero, because for those who don't know, he also played the title character in The Irresponsible Captain Tyler, which pretty much was just entirely about making fun of space operas. It also took place on a crappy old space ship and was crewed by a bunch of misfits who had to learn how to work together as a team. Then again, Crispin Freeman wasn't using his buffoon voice for Captain Zero like he was for Captain Tyler, so there's yet another thing that only adds to the question of if this series was supposed to be taken all that seriously or not. I'm leaning toward "not", though.

That's actually a little disappointing, because there were some elements about this series that could have made for a pretty good, seriously played science fiction story. The background of this story is that cylo- I mean "machine men" have just gotten done kicking humanity's ass, but rather than wiping humanity out completely, they stopped and agreed to a tenuous peace treaty. This treaty is then put at risk when the pirate Captain Harlock (now called rather than Herlock) and his green ship Deathshadow (rather than Arcadia though it looks about the same) start attacking ships, stations and colonies of machine men. That could make for something pretty interesting, especially given how dedicated Captain Zero is to treating machine men as friends and equals worthy of his protection even though his entire family was killed by them during the war. And that doesn't even matter if the machine men were aliens, originally created by humans as a slave race, or as in this OVA, humans who have somehow become machines and given up their humanity for various reasons of their own. But, this show doesn't really go there, and what it basically amounts to is a grudge match between Zero and Harlock, though the two of them apparently decide that they respect one another. As an aside, I have to say that casting Steven Blum of Spike Spiegel fame as Captain Harlock was very fitting.

In any case, there is the typical big bad who is behind the scenes plotting some evil scheme, which as it turns out doesn't make much sense when he could have just used brute force all along, given his uber-ship's capabilities and how he just ends up doing that anyway. The show tries to change things up by adding a villain who is apparently supposed to be worse, but nothing ever comes of it.

And then there's the "special", which basically adds two more episodes to the OVA. Most of the characters from the rest of the series aren't present, and Harlock and Zero both insist on fighting despite Zero already learning that his assignment to hunt Harlock down was a sham and that Harlock had been in the right all along. It's like everything leading up to and culminating in the reveal of the evil secret plan at the end of the series proper never happened. It's mostly played for laughs, and the tone set in the special was definitely lighter than the rest of the OVA.

Oh, veering off the track for a bit, I have to say that I can't understand at all why so many shows like this insist on doing a romantic pairing with the captain and the first officer of a ship. Fraternization regulations aside, it just really irks me that there are rarely any shows that show a male and female in these roles simply being friends and maintaining their professional relationship. It's like there's this expectation that men and women can't be adults and work together like grown-ups, and I find that ludicrous.

Don't get me wrong, this was an okay show, maybe worth a watch if you aren't looking for anything that's really serious. It's definitely not the kind of show Endless Odyssey was, which was way more philosophical and serious. It definitely had its moments, both positive and negative. Trying to decide which it had more of is a little difficult, but I don't think I can really rank this higher than a 6/10.

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Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

(25 episode series)

When I caught my first glimpse of this series when it aired on Adult Swim, I have to admit that I wasn't really impressed. It looked like just another mecha anime to me, and to be frank I really don’t care for shows like that, partly due to the large number of them. They just tend to all be the same and even kind of run together. This one involved a character with a weird eye who liked to dress up in a weird costume, and I really didn't care for the visual design at all. But, just as I'd been talked into watching Gurren Lagann in large part because of the alleged fan service, I'd read quite a bit about how naughty Code Geass was supposed to be, in particular the first season before the executive meddling took place and ruined everything, or so I'd read. Something about a female character using a table to masturbate? ;) At the same time there was supposed to be a great deal of awesome going on due to this series being on real late and largely ignored by the censors and the like. So I decided to give this series a chance, and I have to say that I'm glad that I did.

The series follows a somewhat spoiled, smarmy, arrogant high school student named Lelouch Lamperouge, who apparently likes to skip out on class to gamble with rich aristocrats on the outcome of chess games. This all takes place in a rather interesting alternate Japan, which has been conquered by the Holy Britannian Empire, and of which Lelouch is actually a member of. In fact, he's even royalty, albeit disowned by his own choice due to an assassination-induced grudge. Actually the world this story takes place in is kind of interesting by itself as an alternate history, in which a branch of the British monarchy escaped to North America and founded yet another empire ruled by a hereditary monarchy. At the time the series takes place, the Britannian Empire controls a third of the world, and has a rather nasty tendency of erasing the national identity of any country it conquers (usually over resources), reducing them and their occupants to numbers as one of the many ways they continue to treat conquered peoples like crap long after the conquest has taken place. Personally I find the idea of Japan being conquered by an empire over resources kind of funny in an ironic kind of way, considering that whole world war thing back here in the real world. I also found it a little amusing that for all the ways the world developed differently in this alternate history, Japan was basically the same, except that they were already a more or less democratic nation led by a prime minister rather than a militaristic empire themselves. But that's just me. ;)

Lelouch is far from a sympathetic character, but the series does a good job of explaining just what lead him down the path to becoming Zero, the mysterious masked leader of the rebellion against Britannia who vows to destroy the Empire, starting in Japan. He does this for rather selfish reasons, mainly out of revenge for the assassination for his mother and the way his father treated him and his now crippled daughter like crap afterwards. Of course he's always had dreams of bringing down the Empire, but as fate would have it he'd be given a unique power called "geass", which would enable him to essentially brainwash people into doing whatever he wanted. Of course one of the first things he does when he realizes his power is to meticulously and mercilessly test it out on his classmates. But then that's just him.

I actually like that he's far from the typical flawless hero. The show manages to keep him just sympathetic enough while he plays chess with peoples' lives and very pragmatically tests out exactly what he can do with his power on his classmates, among other things. Actually at one point he even kills would-be allies of his in order to take out some Britannians along with them. And yet his character managed to evolve along the way, keeping just on the sympathetic side of crazy for me to actually feel a little excitement when he was under the threat of being exposed and his double life catching up with him. Part of that was actually kind of funny, as some of the members of the Japanese resistance were students at his school, among other unlikely connections. Plus his name kind of lends itself to a pun on the true nature of his character. :D

The series also has an interesting number of layers to it. For instance, pretty much all of the royals Lelouch ends up fighting and either trying or succeeding at killing are actually members of his own family, even if they are only half-siblings. He also ends up fighting a childhood friend who he actually helped to save back when Japan was first conquered seven years before, though at first he doesn't realize this. It makes it that much more interesting when he finally does find out, though.

Actually all these connections culminate until he finally reaches the point that he can no longer lead his double life. He can no longer control his power, which leads to a rather sad, if completely outlandish, incident where he almost achieves a kind of peace with a member of the royal family who still loves him from their childhood days. She actually sets up a little slice of land where Japan exists again, and Zero/Lelouch is basically explaining what has led him to this point in the story, only to lose control of his power just as he's all like "if, for example, I told you to kill all the Japanese, you wouldn't be able to resist that command." So of course she ends up doing her best to do just that and he ends up having to kill her and using the incident as a way to drive the rebellion to its strongest point. But still, who would use something horrible like that as a hypothetical? Why not give a hypothetical about her giving him a blowjob instead? I mean, I know there's that whole incest thing there, but between that and a massacre? But I'm getting off track here. The point is that not only could he never look anyone in the eye again without his mask, but at the very end of the series he's finally unmasked, too, and exposed to two of his former friends.

The series ends on a kind of Blake's 7 note, with characters dying or looking like they might die, the battle suddenly going south because Lelouch has to leave to go rescue his kidnapped sister, and Lelouch himself looking like he might buy it from one or both of his former friends who are present as he is unmasked. It doesn't make the most sense, but it's still a pretty good sequel hook, which makes it that much more frustrating to know that this ending is never really followed through on. It kind of makes me wish that the series had ended with Japan gaining its independence, with the sequel hook being that Lelouch is unmasked pretty much the way he was, and Britannia set to retake Japan.

Anywho, addressing the reason I had originally decided to watch this anime, I was somewhat surprised at the lack of naughtiness. Sure there was a bit of nudity, though most of it missing certain features, the way a lot of anime tries to be discrete. Nipples do show up very briefly at one point, but other than that this series isn't really any worse in way of fan service from most every other anime I've seen. Even the infamous table scene was somewhat underwhelming, as nothing was really seen or even heard for that matter, taking place in the dark for all of about two or three seconds while said lesbian character got off silently. I'm not exactly disappointed, but if the series had actually sucked I might have been, partly because most every character in this anime is so androgynous anyway. So I'm not really seeing what people were talking about. Yes, there are the bits I talked about, plus some light and not so light bits dealing with homosexuality thrown in the mix, but it nothing that other series I've seen haven't done.

Actually, if anything, the biggest weakness of this series is that it's somewhat generic. Granted, it’s a much better take on the whole mecha theme, as the mechas themselves aren't really the focus of the story so much as a rather convenient plot device, but it is still very generic in nature. We have a seemingly average high school student with power and/or leadership thrust unwittingly upon them and they go on to fight against overwhelming odds. The sad fact is, that last sentence describes a disturbingly large number of animes. Then there are all the logical brain farts and conveniences in the plot itself, one of the last ones being how the rebel army is suddenly unable to operate or function despite having already basically won simply because Lelouch had to take off to deal with something else, even though he hadn't been actively participating in the battle for some time prior to that.

Still, it isn't really a bad series, and I'd even call it more than just okay. I'd say watch it, but keep in mind that the ending leaves a lot unresolved, and the continuation doesn't really logically follow either. 7/10.

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Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2

(25 episode series)

Well, I can see why a lot of people like this series, and I can also see why a lot of people hate it. It's a mixed bag, really. I had a lot of the same things from the first season/series that made it good. But then it also had plenty that was bad. For me, the worst aspect wasn't anything in particular from the story, it was that everything was reset back to the status quo.

The last episode from the first season/series left things at a point that this should not have been possible. Great change was finally coming in that the Black Knights, the group Lelouch/Zero formed, were pretty going to win, despite the implication that they were somehow going to lose without Zero there to direct them in the closing stage of the battle. Lelouch had finally been unmasked, he'd finally really crossed a line by having a well-meaning would be ally order and participate in a massacre and then killed her, and either his friend Suzaku was finally going to kill him or his best soldier Kallen was because for some reason she felt betrayed as well. So how did that turn out? Well, they conveniently missed each other and Lelouch was captured and brainwashed instead. The first episode was actually a little insulting that way, because there were a lot of things about it that made no sense. One thing that still doesn't is how Lelouch's geass power was suddenly repressed when he was brainwashed by his father, the Emperor, who apparently had his own geass power all along. Then there was how one of the first people he ever used his power on and who had sworn to kill him was suddenly just a concerned teacher watching over him and trying to get him to go to class. And then Lelouch also suddenly had a brother and everyone at his school was playing along.

Of course, the first part of this sequel series was pretty much focused on explaining how pretty much all that came to be. It was all very elaborate, and I have to say pretty disappointing. Of course that still leaves the matter of Lelouch's permanent loss of control over his geass power, almost like they were hoping no one would notice, despite all the other acrobatic explanations they came up with for everything else. But really this was all so this series could be pretty much like the first one, with Lelouch leading a double life, hiding his identity and all that with the constant threat of being revealed all over again. And really that was the lamest part of it all. You can always tell when a studio interferes, because when they find they have something successful, they try to copy it in the hopes that it will keep being successful. But here they missed the point, because it wasn't Lelouch's double life or the high school aspect of his life that made the series good, it was the revolution and how Lelouch was evolving as a character.

In this series, he pretty much becomes a complete bastard, and it's difficult to much care what happens to him. In the end we find out he's a bastard on purpose, though that, along with so much else, just doesn't make all that much sense. Suzaku also changes radically, but then so do a lot of the characters, apparently out of convenience. Even the evil Emperor is suddenly made out to be more of a well-intentioned extremist than the big bad he was originally made out to be, and Lelouch's mother who everyone liked so much ended up being made out to be more of an uncaring bitch than the person whose death had driven Lelouch to become Zero.

This series also really went to town on the aspect of friends and allies fighting each other. It even has the Black Knights turn on Zero and try to kill him. Actually pretty much everyone turns on him, despite all the victories or other good things he's actually done while fighting against the Britannian Empire. Then when he finally wins and has taken over the Empire, Lelouch becomes the evil emperor in a really elaborate plan meant to finally unite the world by having them focus their hatred on him. The thing is, that really wasn't necessary, because he had gotten himself in a position to bring the peace through simply leading the Britannian Empire that way. After all, it seemed like he was headed down that path, and it would have been a way to prove himself to people who would have been his allies, as well as against his enemies.

But that was simply one of the many contrivances that was either unnecessary or simply came out of left field. Pretty much everything was some elaborate plan. While it's obvious that whoever wrote this actually put some thought into these elaborate schemes, I just wasn't impressed by their attempts at trying to convince me various characters were the absolute geniuses they would have to be to plan and execute these impossible plans, mostly because the plans were simply far too elaborate. Part of that was how the different fighters were able to figure out each others moves and know what the other was thinking. It was probably meant to make each of them a worthy foe to their counterpart(s), but in the end it got on my nerves a little when the show would constantly jump cut between multiple characters who were all saying essentially the same thing.

In the end, though, I didn't really hate this series, probably because I didn't really have much invested in it to begin with. After all, it was a fairly typical anime from the start, filled with a lot of clichés. The things that stood out a bit and made it kind of good were still present, to an extent in this continuation of the story, but I can definitely see what upset so many fans of the first series. But it did keep me interested enough to watch, mainly to find out how they would explain everything, and how it would all turn out in the end. It wasn't really all that satisfying, though, mainly because there wasn't much in way of actual resolution, and the series ends on an unrealistically optimistic note. Even with the big bad finally defeated after all the world's hate has been focused this object to hate, that wouldn't automatically mean the peace would be maintained, nor that no longer focusing on military conflict would mean that hunger and poverty and the like would just all magically be solved for lack of anything else to do. Humans are humans, after all, for better or worse, and I have no doubt that without some big bad for everyone to unite against, the world would simply go back to the same kind of petty squabbling that the real world has to deal with. 5/10.

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Coyote Ragtime Show

(12 episode OVA)

This was actually a pretty good anime; fun to watch, with a good pace, entertaining storyline, and interesting characters. This show reminded me a lot of Firefly, or at least aspects of it did - a sci-fi action following a small ship and its crew of misfits looking for the next big payoff. In other ways, it reminded me of Chiko, both in how there was one under-aged girl traveling around with a band of thieves and acting as their cook (you know, since she's a girl).

This show wasn't good in the normal sense –it wasn't some deep, thoughtful drama or anything- but what it had was a lot of over the top action and never bothered to take itself all that seriously. Basically this is the kind of show you'd want to watch for some mindless entertainment. There is a lot going on, and it's one wild ride, but while it would have been easy for this show to get bogged down with politics or some other kind of message, that was mostly averted. There was some, but it wasn't as in your face as in other animes I've seen, and it thankfully wasn't the focus or even integral to the story.

Otherwise, this show has a lot to enjoy and laugh at, like say the killer androids that look like cutesy anime girls dressed in Victorian goth style clothing, laughing gleefully as they slaughter people by the dozen. There's also plenty to keep gun geeks entertained, as the people who made this probably crammed as many as they thought possible into this short series.

There's also a certain romanticism of piracy present in this show, which is what the name "coyote" is supposed to be standing in for, given the context. That makes it a little more amusing considering the people who are actually called coyotes tend to actually be pretty bad people. The pirate theme is still played through pretty thoroughly, including a scene in a pirate-themed bar, with pirate music playing in the background before the big bar fight breaks out. Then there were the bad guys, who looked like more modern versions of the soldiers in Jin-Roh, yet somehow made me still think of the faceless Cobra mooks from G.I. Joe. Despite absurdities being present, it was pretty much all acknowledged in a kind of tongue-in-cheek manner and played for laughs from what I could tell.

About the only things I didn't much care for was the female inspector, Angelica, constantly chasing the coyote simply referred to as Mister, the protagonist of the show. She did add a little to the show, but naturally she ended up being played as secretly being in love with the over-the-top pirate. She also was played as a voracious eater, which I guess is supposed to be funny, but really wasn't. Also not funny was her partner, Chelsea, who while supposedly being a police officer, was actually so stupid she couldn't read much above a grade-schooler's level.

Those are the only real down-sides to this show, and it was mostly just fun. I'm definitely adding this to my list of favorites. 8/10.

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Shiny. I hope they actually do help. ;) If nothing else hopefully my tastes are pretty easy to figure out andguess if you might actuallylike something or not.

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Cromartie High School

(26 episode series)

It isn't very often that I get to finish an entire series in a single day, even if it's one of my days off. Of course it helps when each episode is only about 10 minutes long.

I'm not really sure how to describe this series, other than that it goes out of its way to be as over the top as possible, and that it's both hilarious and awesome because of it. A lot of shows will make fun of themselves or other shows like them, so in that way this series isn't any different with them, but it's still pretty good. It touches on a lot of subjects, including the anime fandom, the manga vs. anime argument(s), and stupid things like getting into arguments on the internet. There are also times the show actually gets thoughtful and discusses things somewhat seriously, usually to comedic effect. In a way, it's kind of like South Park ... but not really, that's just the closest comparison I can make.

Other than that, I can't really describe why this show is awesome and hilarious, so I suggest you watch it for yourself if you want to know why. I'm going to give this an A/Z.

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Cybersix

(12 episode series)

This was actually more like 12 episodes of disappointment. I'd read some things about this series that made it sound promising (you mean you can't believe everything you read on the internet?), and the opening sequence even made it look like it was in the same vein as Batman, only with a cybernetic chick in a stripperiffic costume. Even the first episode made it look more interesting than that, because the "hero" of the show was actually going around hunting the bad guy's Frankenstein-looking henchmen so she could feed on them (sort of) in order to survive. So really there was potential there for a kind of anti-hero who wasn't fighting crime, but was instead only incidentally foiling the plans of the bad guy through her interference. Unfortunately all of this potential for awesomeness vanished before the first episode was even over, and it quickly became apparent that this show was aimed at an even younger age group than Batman, the Animated Series. Oh, sure, there's some humor derived from that, given that the Cybersix is basically a Clark Kent, only instead of just glasses, she also brushes her hair slightly differently, and dresses up like a nerdy high school literature teacher (though the high school looks more like a stereotypical university). There's also the humorously stereotypical way some Japanese characters were drawn, especially as this series was animated by a Japanese company. Yes, there are those things, but it wasn't enough to make me overcome the boredom I felt watching this series, and since most of the humor is the type you would find in an American Saturday morning cartoon aimed at the kiddies, well, if anything this show is actually slightly bad instead of just staying safely within "meh" territory. If anything, the more mature elements that were apparently left in from the source comic book series seem to be more like artifacts from that source, or maybe a parental bonus at best. Not really worth it to watch, and frankly, I'm surprised I put up with it for the six episodes I did watch. 2/10.

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Cyborg 009: Legend of the Super Galaxy

(1980 movie)

You know all those stereotypes about anime and sci-fi (especially the two mixed together) everyone loves to make fun of? This movie has pretty much all of them: a horribly bad English dub with laughable dialog, a retardedly stupid plot that's just full of holes, characters that know everything despite just encountering something or someone or leaping to conclusions that happen to be right, and a really dated appearance and soundtrack.

Speaking of appearance, it was made by the same people who made 009-1, so it has about the same character design, which is a bit cartoonish and looks like something from the '70s. Of course in this case it pretty much was from the '70s.

As for the plot, well, some big bad wants to conquer the universe, and it's up to our plucky group of cyborgs and their alien friend to stop him. Along the way, a lot of time is made for the cyborgs to angst about being war machines despite wanting to live peaceful lives, and other such clumsy attempts at drama. Oh, and one of the cyborgs is an infant who can levitate, talk, and has telepathy.

As you can tell by my lack of any real effort on this review, I don't really want to waste much time writing it, which should tell you that you don't want to waste time watching this movie. It might be good to watch to make fun of, and it would probably be improved with a Rifftrax, but other than that, it pretty much just sucks. 0/10.

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