Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu

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When doing a sequel what you want to are sure is that you major changes aren’t done to mess with the formula. Massive shifts in a series or movie that made it popular in the first place can be a recipe for disaster. For a giant robot show it would be insane to remove the robots for the show. Unless of course you had an incredible cast of characters that could still have hilarious adventures even without them.

Sosuke Saegara is back to protect Chidori Kaname from the dangers of the world. To this end he will detonate shoe lockers that have been tampered with and Bobby trap the school bread delivery. Chidori is going to have her hands full dealing with the hilarious chaos Sosuke causes.

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The comedy for this series is over  the top. Viewers will be laughing to the point they won’t be able to breath. Sosuke`s antics this time around seems to just as bad if not worse than in the original series. Sosuke is quick to pull a weapon on even in the most normal of circumstances. He fires a round off to rider his lunch from the food truck at school. If that isn’t funny, then nothing will. The episode at the hot springs is especially humorous complete with a parody to Gundam SEED in it.

There is something of robot introduced to this series. The robot is called Bunta-kin, a mascot costume from a amusement park that Sosuke grabs as a temporary disguise. Taking the costume home, Sosuke reinforces it with defensive abilities, and uses it in a few other episodes in the series and the results are comedy gold. The word, “Fumoffu” is all Bunta-ken can say and gives the series it’s subtitle. Also, if there is anything funnier than a teddy bear mascot holding a pump action shotgun then I have yet to find it.

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If there are any mecha fans out there who decided to pass this seris up because it didn’t have any giant robots in it should reconsider their life choices. This is a show that  people shouldn’t pass it up. Now rush out and grab this series. FUMOFFU! With this review out of the way, all I have left for Full Metal Panic is the Second Raid. Unless of course the studio would be so kind as to finally bring another series to the fans in the upcoming year. That would make 2016 something to remember for sure.

RATING: A

Gankutsuou

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Ever watched an anime and it made you want to look into the original source materiel? Today’s anime made me want to read the original novel which consequently became my favorite book of all time. The series which helped me find my favorite story is called Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

Albert and his friend, Franz are on vacation on Luna for a festival. The two soon find themselves being saved from a jam by the mysterious Count of Monte Cristo. Thankful, Albert invites the Count into his home, unaware of the sinister plot his guest has for him and his family.

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This show is a very unique adaptation of the original story. Taking place in a future complete with space travel, giant robots, and aliens yet still being a tale of betrayal and revenge. Definitely, a departure from the Victorian setting it originally displayed. It also follows a support character and makes him the protagonist in this adaptation. Albert is a naive character who is unaware of the web of lies that is spinning around him. Its interesting to watch how things play out for him as he falls for the charm of the count.

Much like Gatekeepers, this series is another of those shows where its not until later its revealed to have Mecha in it. It turns out that the armored suits in Albert’s house aren’t exactly decommissioned and are in perfect working order to use in a deal later in the series. Like old fashion knight these suits are equipped with a sword but have flight capabilities. They are impressive but needed to be introduced much sooner in the series. They are used in one of the most pivotal sciences in the series though so they make up for coming in late.

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The most noticeable thing about this anime is the art style. Even if someone doesn’t enjoy the show they will remember the art from this series. The mixture of layers and 3D animation make for a very visual and engaging experience. The compliant that it is hard to look at has been mentioned by other critics but much like the grips about the motion of the camera affecting those who saw Cloverfield, it doesn’t affect everyone that way. If it gives you a headache don’t watch it. No one has a gun to your head.

In the end, Gankutusou remains a fascinating adaptation and re-imaging of a classic novel. I’m not going to say adding a giant robot to all literature is a good idea but you never know what will happen. Look how good combining Jane and Austen and zombies turned out.

RATING: B+

Attack on Titan

 

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I’ve wondered if I need to review this series. I mean it is insanely popular and EVERYONE in the anime community knows about it already. Still, since it is a so popular I thought I should weigh in on how I feel about the series.

After a devastating war against cannibalistic giants known as Titans, humans retreated behind three large walls to keep themselves safe and to prosper. In a small village, Eren Yeagar lives with his parents and adopted sister Mikasa wishing to know what the world outside the wall is like. This peace is shattered when a Titan higher than the wall itself appears and creates a giant hole in the wall restarting the war of humanity against the Titans. Now Eren and Mikasa and their childhood friend Armin must join the army and train to fight for their survival.

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The setting of this Anime is unique. From the get go we are introduced to a world where humanity lives behind walls to hide from hyper violent monsters. This is one of those shows that has a person interested and addicted by the end of the first episode. A welcome sight considering there are so many shows that need a few episode grace period to get themselves in gear. Also, the 3D gear which allows a person to move through the air like Spider-Man really helps to make the anime stand out.

One of the main draws that the series has going for it is the pacing. Things go from “everything is fine” to “Run for your life!” at the drop a hat. The first episode alone shows us a quiet peaceful village bustling with life and people deluded in the idea they are safe behind their walls only to have this delusion shattered within a few minutes. The incredible graphic description of violence against humans and titans makes the fear and severity of the situations much more real.

Another aspect of this series that draws people to it is the main female lead. Mikasa Ackerman proves to be one of more skilled humans in the army once she finishes training. Her talent for fighting titans is found to be on parallel with Captain Levi, leader of the Survey Corps and one of the most destructive humans on the planet. On top of being a great fighter, Mikasa displays that she is the incredible loyal to her friends Armin and Eren as they are the family that she will stand by and support through the hell they endure. She attacks with the strength of lioness if you touch her pride.

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It should be noted that if you don’t enjoy violence then this is definitely not the series for you. I have someone I know who can’t stand all the gore that comes from the titan’s rampage. That is the major point that makes this Anime less than accessible for those who aren’t fans of violence. Don’t vault these fans who are unable to appreciate this series though as Anime is just a media. Not liking this show doesn’t mean they don’t like Anime in general. Its not necessary that every popular show be loved by everyone. Yes, I do feel like I need to make that distinction as the community seems to be quick to jump on others who don’t like what they like.

The intense action, engaging story, and intriguing characters will be hard to recreate by any other series in the future.  If you can’t tell, I enjoyed this series and the only true complaint I have against it is that I’m still waiting for that sequel to get here. I’ll make sure to do a review of that show when it comes out as well. Maybe I’ll even do an episode by episode review. I’ll let you know when it comes out.

Rating: A

Samurai Flamenco


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Ever watched a show which started on one path but then took a few turns and you are watching a completely different show from what you started with? Now this isn’t always a bad thing and many shows actually are memorable because of taking such a bold step. When I write my reviews, I try my best not to mention that many plot twists or surprises a show will have because for the most part I’m hoping that you will discover some of these titles for yourself. Unless the media in question is terrible and then I’ll spoil it like crazy because I’m trying to prove why you shouldn’t give it your precious time.

Today’s show though wasn’t awful but I can’t help but need to mention major details of the later story to review it properly. That’s why for this show I have created the category and hash tag “Spoiler Warning” to give a heads up that I will have to reveal elements of the plot to properly analysis the movie or show. That way I’m able to give subject the justice it deserves. Speaking is justice, that the perfect segway to start talking about this anime.

Goto is a cop with a normal assignment and a long distance relationship with his girlfriend. One day on the way home he happens upon a man who is totally naked and claims to be a superhero. This man is Masayoshi Hazama and he trying to be a hero by enforcing all the petty laws that everyone doesn’t want to follow. Before long and thanks to Goto’s help Hazama becomes a hit on social network and soon the entire world is talking about his alias, Samurai Flamenco.

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I am a big fan of Superheroes and stories about what it takes to be a hero. I can appreciate this show for wanting to break down this genre and exam it for what makes it tick but I can’t forgive it for its inconsistencies and its weird pacing.This is a series that I remember enjoying while I was watching it but doesn’t hold up to scrutiny as I go back and review. In the mist of the viewing I would have given it a much higher score then the one it will receive. If it had been a series where a man dealt with coming to terms with being hero, unable to reach these goals, and finally being able to in the end save his friend from his own demons (and at about half the length) I really think this show would have an essential anime for those who love heroes much like Tiger and Bunny.

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Since it is an anime I’m reviewing you’d expect their to be a giant robot in here as well. You are right there is eventually a giant robot and an entire power ranger team of heroes that call themselves the Flamenco Rangers who just so happened to be based under the city that Hazama was operating out of. Really comes out of left field and the Mecha is really just a parody knock off of a Sentai robot and not a good one at that.

 

The inconsistency with this show also needs to be addressed. The beginning and end of the series seem to take place in the world much like our own but the middle is something else entirely. This series started as a story of a man trying to honor the heroes of justice he loved as a kid in an everyday world, became a legitimate monsters in the real world preying on humanity, with a twist of reality warping aliens, and ends with a down to earth story of helping a friend unsuccessfully coop with his delusions. If that sounds confusing to you then don’t feel bad because that’s the feeling you’ll be left with after finishing this series. Samurai Flamenco is series that was made up as it was going into production and doesn’t hold up on review. Sorry true believers.

RATING: C-

Knights of Sidonia Season 2

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It’s time again to return to the space colony of Sidonia as it traverses the heavens in search of a new home for all humanity. The entire time they find they must fight against the alien race known as the Gauna whose mission seems to be the destruction of all mankind. This is the plot behind the series Knights of Sidonia, a show that easily won me over with its first season. Now the second season has been released but does the story keep up with the intensity it had previously?

After the events of the first season, Nagate Tanikaze is now known through all of Sidonia as an Ace Pilot. Elsewhere his rival, Kunato becomes infected with a Gauna parasite in the lab of the legendary scientist Ochiai. Under its control Kunato kidnaps the Gauna recreated Hoshigino and begins running experiments on her. The pair soon emerge as a pilot and Gauna the size of a robot who now calls herself Tsumugi. Tanikazi must continue to fight against the enemies invading outside and the growing threat inside the colony of Sidonia while learning more about the incredibly friendly giant Tsumugi.

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The second season doesn’t waste time. That summary comes from only the first two episodes of this new season. The Gauna/Human hybrid who talks like a polite young lady is introduced in the first episode in the heat of battle. The ending of the second episode alone is jaw dropping and is so intense I dare not any spoilers talking about it. We also see Isane choose a gender but considering she was set up a long time ago to be Tanikazi’s love interest this should be no surprise to anyone. There is character growth here and I am all for it.

The newest cast member to be introduced, the Hybrid, Tsumugi really steals the show. She’s a sweetheart, innocent girl who happens to be as big as a giant robot and uses a penis shaped appendage to interact with others. I know how odd that sounds but trust me she really is a fascinating character. Her innocence adds to the charm of the show and allows a much needed break from the intensity of parasites plotting a conspiracy that will affect the future of all of Sidonia.

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The show does increase its comedy incidents but the drama increases as well. I mean the moments with the ever growing love triangle can be frustrating at time but then in the next scene the Gauna are attacking and people are getting destroyed because the menace is just too great. It does feel like a roller coaster at times though with all of the up and downs that you go on as the viewer which is a negative against it.

Unfortunately, the season finally doesn’t wrap up any thing and still hints that there is a lot of story with these characters left to be told. I’m looking forward to more but sadly I don’t know when the 3rd season is coming. The series is a lot of fun and with a solid finale it could very well be one of the greatest Mecha shows in the history of anime. For now though it still has some faults and gets the same rating as the previous season. Watch it but its still missing the bump needed to call it a masterpiece.
RATING: B

Beast King Go-lion


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I’m going to go retro on this review. I mean really retro to the point that this anime came out before a lot of people who read this were even born. This was one of the first animes I ever saw and it became a classic to many. Americans recognize it more under the name Voltron: Defender of the Universe. Though I’ve seen a great of the American adaptation I will instead be looking at the original anime, Beast King Golion.

After they return to Earth and find it destroyed, 5 explorers (who go by the nicknames Chief, Quiet, Moody, Shorty, and Hothead) get captured by the evil forces of the Galra Empire. Escaping to the planet Altea, the 5 five find a castle and the planet’s ruler, Princess Fala. Entrusted the keys to the five robot lions by the Princess, the explorers set out and fight against the invading forces of Galra. When they need more power, the lions combine into the ultimate warrior, The Beast King Golion.

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I’m taking a different approach with this show and I’m gonna focus more on the steps to adapt this show for an American Audience. On the plus side, the original has a few things going for it. First off there is death. Quiet (Sven in the original), that monster that Shorty (Pidge, who had the worst adaptation name ever) befriended, and even Lady Hys all buy the farm. This really raises the stakes of the battles they fight. Also there is no Galaxy Garrison as this was an added feature that would later be used to connect the series to the Vehicle Voltron Series (originally known as Armored Fleet Dairugger XV). The Garrison isn’t needed as the team was originally just explorers who came back to and found earth destroyed by the thermonuclear war. The human race destroyed itself and the bad guys just happened to show up to collect anyone alive for their entertainment. Also the team gets to watch Earth get destroyed. Sorry Earth. You had a good run.

The are some negative aspects that were changed by the shows conversion when it came to America though. For starters the company added some songs. The original anime used the opening song (which was lacking to say the least) over and over again, especially when the robots combine. meanwhile, Voltron was overflowing with 80s synthesizer goodness. Also, the voice over during the combination is not there and feels missing with it. I found myself saying “Form Feet and Legs” as the fusion took place. Its a small missing piece but give that it happens every episode it becomes very noticeable.

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The robot is iconic even to this day. Made up of five lion robots each powered by a different element, these machines come together to form an impressive warrior. Seems like every other episode this combined machine is pulling out a new weapon or power. Still, to finish the monster of the week off, Golion forms the Juoken (10 Kings Sword) aka the Blazing Sword to slice the monster apart. This is cool but can get a bit old considering its the only finishing move used and it almost never fail.

The series does get a bit repetitive but still there is something to enjoy here as long as a person can get over the aging animation. Still, I can understand where people would be hesitant to come back to this show. Without my nostalgia for the series I found myself finding it difficult to keep watching. Somethings just aren’t as awesome as we remember them.

Rating: B

 

Valvrave the Liberator

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You’d think Sunrise as a studio wouldn’t need to make any more robot series. After all they are the studio that makes all the Gundam shows. Still, despite a near monopoly on mecha, they eventually make other series in an effort to launch a new franchise. Though they may never be as enormous of a franchise as Gundam they are still entertaining in some extent as long as they have a draw that sets the series apart from others, memorable. The draw of this series: LOTS of blood.

Haruto Tokishima is a boy who is just trying to live an ordinary High School life and let his crush, Shoko, know how he feels. His world is thrown upside down when enemy forces from Dorssia attack the Module that he lives on and almost kill Shoko. Thinking she is dead, Haruto enters into the Valvrave, a mysterious red robot that allows him to fight off the Dorssia horde. After the battle is over, he is approached by the Dorssia spy L-Elf, who shoots Haruto repeatedly in the chest killing him. Haruto revives a few minutes later and sinks his teeth into L-Elf’s neck…which ends the first episode.

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This show starts out extreme and doesn’t slow down at all. It has something of a “Game of Thrones” feel to it, a series which has a reputation of killing of large portions of its cast dying in order to advance the story. Likewise, the anime doesn’t mind killing a few of its characters quite often to advance the plot (a lot more in the second season but that’s a review for another time). The new form that the Valvraves (yes there is more than one) gives to their pilots allows them to be hurt a lot but survive from it, which explains why Haruto is able to survive after being shot in the chest in the first episode. That aside, there are characters that won’t even make it out of the first five episodes.

The robots are very unique. Much like a series like Gundam Wing, each of the suits is a powerhouse on its own with its own special abilities that distinguishes it from others. Haruto’s own robot does an impressive energy attack that allows him to destroy an entire fleet of ships with a swing of his sword. They are also given an interesting weakness in even though they are self powered, if the robot gets too hot it will shut itself down. Very interesting way to cap very powerful machines.

The use of social networking is actively addressed in this show. From the students using it to gain support to Haruto’s phone being overrun with friend requests after its revealed he is the pilot of the giant robot, the anime does a nice job showcasing what would happen when a world with giant robots has something like Facebook. One of the other pilots, Saki, uses social media to help to restart her career as an idol once after she makes her transformation. The show uses social media to also point out how fast information can travel and how the world can be aware of what is going around at a moments notice.

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The show, especially its first season was an intense ride that had me going the entire time. I was watching this show as soon as it dropped on Crunchyroll. The show is action packed and has some very interesting Mecha designs. I do wonder though if the series has truly become noteworthy though. I mean the show ended back in January of 2014 and I haven’t really heard that many people scream their love of it since it ended. Was it just a flicker in the dark or are more people holding it close to their hearts then I know?

Rating: A-

Full Metal Panic

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As I’ve said mixing genres can be very tricky. You would think just from the description that a “Comedy mecha series set in high school” would not be a good idea because it sounds ludicrous. Well it is ludicrous, and hilarious, thrilling, touching, memorable and a whole lot of fun. This is the series known as as Full Metal Panic, a show that truly is the full package.

Sousuke Saga is a member of an elite secret military organization known as Mithirl who works to defend the world from the shadows. TO protect a young girl who is believed to be the target of a terrorist organization, Sousuke enrolls in her high school. Unfortunately, Sousuke doesn’t exactly fit into Japanese High School life and becomes a major annoyance to the young girl named Kaname Chidori. Just as it seems as if Kaname can’t take any more of Souske’s behavior, the bad guys come for her and Sousuke it there, ready to jump into a giant robot to protect her. Who says there’s no good guys in the world anymore?

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The characters of this show really make it stand out. Sousuke is clueless but a very competent solider. Kaname is an easily angered tsundare (A ruff exterior, sweet on the side type), but the anger can sometimes can justified given that Souske’s first thought is usually to reach for his gun, even in school. Still, the fact that Sousuke is so impulsive and one to make things blow up on a regular basis is what what makes this show so entertaining. The supportive characters such as Kurtz Weber and Melissa Mao are also great and help add to the story. I even enjoyed Tessa Testarossa, despite the fact that I am well aware that she is a rather annoying character to some fans.

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The mecha of this series are very unique. The show seems to showcase that every country has its own designs and different suits. A suit from Japan would be different from one in Russia. Still, its the main guys themselves who get some of the more impressive suits. I still think that the Arbalest (pictured above) is a one of my favorite suits throughout history. Hmm, that’s a list I should probably put together one of these days.

I know that I would heavily criticized if I didn’t mention the relationship between Kaname and Sousuke. There really isn’t anything that I could say that hasn’t been said a million times before by bigger fans then myself. They are adorable together, Sousuke does her best to try to protect her, even though his best sometimes makes Kaname very annoyed at his actions. They are one of the most entertaining Anime couples out there. I like many would probably squeal with delight if they actually animated a scene of the two of them kissing. Someday maybe it will happen.

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Getting around to reviewing fumoffu (even without giant robots) and second raid. I’ll give it some time though and hopefully by the time I get done reviewing all three series they will finally get that newly announced Full Metal Panic: Another done. Come on people, don’t leave me hanging.

Rating: A

Samurai 7

Samurai.7.full.441206I am a big fan of tracking down source material. When I hear an adaptation or remake is coming out often will go out and read some of the original work to see how it stacks up. That being said I actually haven’t taken the time to watch the original “Samurai Seven.” I really need to though as I keep getting told its an incredible film. Still with all the hype about how its such a great film, how would an anime adaptation of such a film stack up?sam7_2Large

After their village is continuously ransacked by bandits, the villagers decide they must fight back. A young water priestess named Kirara, along with her sister, Komachi, and the farmer, Rikichi, ventures into the city to find Samurai, mighty warriors from the previous war to aid them in their blight.  the three set off to the city. There they witness the skills of Shimada Kambei, who after some convincing agrees to help them in their blight. He insists he will need a team of seven to take down the bandits. He finds and recruits Katsuhiro the student, Gorobei the performer, Shichiroji the veteran, Heihachi the Mechanic, Kyuzo the assasin, and Kikuchiyo the cyborg to aid him in his quest to defend the village.

The series presents an interesting world to say the least. It has giant robots, cyborg samurai, and flying ships, but still has people living in poverty and conducting business like an ancient society. It ranges somewhere between Steampunk and Cyberpunk but I’m really not sure where it would be. The Samurai are trying their best to survive after apparently no longer being needed after fighting the war which is shown in flashback through the series. They are entertaining to say the least but some times they seem like they could go just a bit farther with their development to help ensure they were memorable. samurai7

Many may point to this film and insist that it has the “Gonzo Effect.” For those who don’t know this term refers to the studio creators Gonzo and how they were infamous for making shows with an extremely strong start but would lose focus in their story telling or art quality by the end of the series. While I would admit I have seen series that this rule applies to I feel that Samurai 7 is spared from it. Not that I believe the Gonzo effect doesn’t exist. I witnessed it first hand watching “Speed Grapher” and if I had been reminded of this effect earlier I would have made mention of it in my Burst Angel review. Samurai 7 keeps its consistency all the way through. Probably because of the high expectations given its source material.

samurai7_6This anime is serviceable and has some good moments to it and even had a mainstream run on TV, running on the relaunched Toonami back in August of 2012. Sadly, the series is another show that falls into the “good, not great category.” Sure their are some good characters to love and an interesting world presented for viewer but its not enough to make sure that its carves itself into the halls of anime history and place it high in fan’s “All time greatest series lists.” Maybe in the honorable mention category. If you feel I’m being too harsh, feel free to check out http://www.myanimelist.com where the series is currently ranked #1152 at the time of this entry. Sorry might Samurai, but your time has truly come to an end.

Rating: B-

Gatekeepers


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There are many shows out there that start with one concept or genre and then do a huge turn into a completely different genre all together. This is a hit or miss strategy as sometimes you find yourself already enjoying the kind of story that was first being told and this new direction feels unnatural and makes you question if you really enjoy the show anymore. Believe it or not, there are times when adding a giant robot to the recipe is not the best idea.

Shun Ukiya is a boy with a very special gift. He is a gatekeeper, one who is able to create and channel the energy from Gates which allows a person to have extreme powers. Shun’s power, the power of Wind, allows him to defeated the sunglass wearing creatures known as Invaders and save his childhood friend Ruriko Ikusawa, who happens to control the Gate of Life. Recruited by the special group known as A.E.G.I.S. (Alien Exterminating Global Intercept System), who uses the powers of these Gatekeepers to fight against the Invaders, Shun works towards fighting for the smiles of tomorrow.

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The different characters with their different gate powers are the real draw of this series. Like I said, Shun has the wind gate that allows him to shoot wind energy, and Ruriko uses a bow to send her life energy hurling towards the enemy, but the series also introduces Reiko (Gate of Illisions), Feng Fei Leng (Gate of Flame), and Megumi (Gate of Walls). Basically the show builds off the team using these powers to take down the enemy while at the same time discovering where they come from and dealing with personal problems. Standard stuff really.

 

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Even though this show technically qualifies for the blog with the giant monsters that the Invaders form on a regular basis but it also does have a robot in it. The robot is one of the more interesting aspects of the show as it has an engine in it that allows the driver to increase their Gate power, but also has a steering wheel for its controls. I know steering wheels as controls is nothing new but it doesn’t come up as often as you would think it would. I thought it was cool at least.

People are quick to accuse this series of suffering from the “Gonzo effect” but I quickly disagree. The “Gonzo effect” for who are not aware is a trend associated by Studio Gonzo who became infamous of having great episodes to start the series but by the end of the series there is a distinct drop in the art quality. I personally feel that this series doesn’t suffer from said effect and stays at a decent quality for the entire series. Had the podcast that reminded me of this affliction (Anime World Order. Check them as they do really good discussion on Anime) mentioned it sooner, I would have introduced the concept of the Gonzo Effect during my Burst Angel review. That show had a glaring drop in quality an story telling after the first episode.

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I remember loving this series back in the day and grabbing every new DVD as soon as it came out. As I look back though I realize that despite how much I enjoyed it I haven’t gone back once to rewatch it. It wasn’t really a bad series. It was entertaining to watch the characters use their Gate powers to defeat the different Invader creatures of the week that would often form together around a red suited invader and form some giant monstrosity that would tear apart the city. Its another show with a formula but sadly it doesn’t add enough to it in order to make it more than just a fun ride. You watch it, you may get a favorite character or two and that’s it.  Heck there isn’t even really that much merchandise for you to track down if you find yourself becoming a die hard fan of it. This was a good series that sadly became forgotten by the fans but I really can’t chastise them for forgetting it. Gate closed.

Rating: C+

P.S. I know this was based off a video game, but I never really tried to track it down or play it to make a comparison. This is a review for the anime by itself.