Captain Earth

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No it in no way is associated with Captain Planet. This is the latest series from studio bones who gave me two of my favorite mecha series, Rahxephon and Eureka Seven. Is this new title another must see new classic or does it fall plummeting through the atmosphere? Lets find out.

Daichi Manastu had weird memories of his childhood friend and a girl he met in a bubble. As a mysterious group of invaders known as he Kiltgang threaten to absorb all of earth, Daichi is given a strange gun known as a livilaster that allows him to channel immense power. Using this intense power he energizes the giant robot the Earth Engine to become Captain earth to save his childhood friend Teppei and the girl from the bubble known as Hana.

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The art and look to the show are Bones’ usual high quality. The mecha designs for the series are also very interesting but seem to lack a specific quality that makes them unforgettable. They don’t have the distinct look that say Gundam or Evangelion possesses. I also question why the Earth Engine robot has arm blades in the toy version but never seems to use them once in the show. Also, compared to later suits the Earth Engine falls short in terms weapons and over all performance.

The characters are interesting enough but are not exactly ground breaking. I mean the series is fun and has some pretty good character moments but it doesn’t take deep into your soul, make you rethink your philosophy on life, or make you want to idolize these characters. The relationship between Hana and Daichi is heartwarming and you are routing for them to make it as a couple but they only develop just enough to say that they had something of a character arc, not that they each had an overwhelming moment that touches you deep inside.  Basically a few good moments here and a few moments there with some repetitive robot combing scenes in between.
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The ending seemed a bit rushed once I reflected back on it. They took the time to gather all of the Kiltgang in an effort to take down the Earth (an objective that could have been accomplished by only one of their Mecha reaching the planet by the way) and when they finally are all together in a group, a new enemy appears so the gang doesn’t have the opportunity to overwhelm the heroes and finally absorb all of earth. I mean the enemy was there the entire time but the actual power he seemed to control rose greatly so the Kiltgang had not choice but to stop the larger opponent instead of focusing on absorbing all life on Earth. After all the episodes that were spend individually gathering the Kiltgang I really thought it would be a more intense battle between them and the Midsummers’ Knights in the end. Kind of a cop out but I won’t fault them too much for it.

In the end the series the only major crime against this show is that it is so forgettable. It is doomed to be another series pushed to the back of our queues because it doesn’t do anything as sadistic as kill a character every other episode or Master degree philosophy on what to has the characters talk about. To studio Bones I commend you on a good effort but sadly this one doesn’t make me wish I had a livlaster.

Rating: B-

Code Geass R2

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Man I remember when Code Geass ended. I almost threw my laptop out the window in frustration. Luckily I was able to occupy my time with other things (Cant remember what they were at the moment) until I finally got around to the sequel. Personally I have to say that it was worth the wait.

Code Geass left the the fans on a nail biting Mexican stand off. Its sequel picks up Lelouch enjoying a semi normal day at school. It appears as if he has no idea of being Zero or leading the Black Knights. Its soon revealed that he has been brainwashed and placed back into his previous life in an attempt to flush out C.C. Now Lelouch has no choice but to rebuild his plans and forces from the ground up. This becomes difficult thanks to a young man named Rollo who possesses an interesting Geass and claims to be Lelouch’s brother.

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With the reset back to square one that Lelouch undergoes, he has no choice but to think outside the box or in this case another country. His plans take his tam outside of Area 11 (Japan) to China and back to build the forces his needs to take down Britannia. This exploration of the different areas of the world of Code Geass really helps to give a sense of the far reach that the power of Britannia holds.

The series also increases the development of characters we already know while at the same time introducing a lot of characters that add to the story. We are introduced to the Knights of Round, the elite warriors of the Britannia empire and their custom Mechas. Each of them has a unique look and feel to it. Personally though I am particular to Gino Weinberg’s Tristan. Maybe its just that I love a mecha that can also transform, still it was a good robot overall.

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The series builds to on intensely to a conclusion that I insist everyone needs to see. It wraps up so nicely that I wonder I have revisit the new OVA series, Code Geass: Akito the Exiled. I haven’t heard anyone talking about it but it does look very entertaining. Maybe Ill get around to it eventually but after the intense and memorable ending that Code Geass R2 leave you with, there is very little reason to check out any other series. The creative team behind it really did stick the landing. Iv you liked the first series, then you need to see the sequel. Its that simple.

Rating: A-

Vision of Escaflowne

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Today’s series had an interesting premiere when it was shown on American television. In order to be eligible for broadcast enough content needed to be cut that several episodes were able to be merged into one, including the very first episode. If you can`t tell today’s series is the Vision of Escaflowne. I promise not to make any comments about the pointy noses.

High School girl Hitomi wants nothing more than to confess her love to her first crush and be the best track runner she can. Unfortunately for her this life is shattered when a young prince named Van appears before her. Soon she is whisked away to Gaia a fantasy world where people fight in giant robots called Guymelefs. As trouble grows, Van awakens the legendary Guymelef Escaflowne to help him as he works to fight against the evil empire of Zaibach.

Escaflowne was a series designed to appeal to both males and females. For the guys we have intense action and giant robots and for the gals we have romance and good looking men with long flowing hair. Other series try to incorporate this elements but some how forget to get the balance right usually forgetting that on top of just good action and intense romance their also needs to be some type of story to top it all off with. The story of Escaflowne though is deep, mystical, and has fans insisting even today that a sequel to the series should be made.escaflowne_versus

Id be in the wrong if I didn’t address Hitomi as a character. Yes she is a bit annoying and way too focused on the wrong guy in the series, focusing too much on Alan despite the fact that Van is the man she is obviously meant to be with. That and the fact that she actually bends fate to her will but for the totally wrong reasons result in large amounts of chaos to unfold. Other than that shes a perfectly lovely character.Vision-of-Escaflowne-Escaflowne

Basically Escaflowne is a classic that everyone needs to see. Sadly most people cant get over the crap job done with the American broadcast and others who insist the English dub is horrendous (personally I liked it. I don’t really see what all the complaining is about). Still, I highly recommend that everyone tracks this series down and watch it. Use the original Japanese if your not a fan of the dub

Rating: B+

Rahxephon

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In the wake of the genre changing anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, there were a lot of series that tried to copy the formula. Basically, the mecha series that tried copy Evangelion had a similar story where the giant robot of the series having aspirations to change the world. One of these series which I personally feel surpassed Evangelion itself is Rahxephon.

The young artist Kamina Ayato lives in Tokyo the last remaining city in the world. Soon his world is turned upside down when he is shown the truth that there is more to than just Tokyo in the world and Ayato`s connection to the mysterious giant robot Rahxephon. Does this powerful creation have the power to tune the world?

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One of the aspects that separates Rahxephon from Evangelion is the love story at the center between Ayato and Haruka. The attraction between the two of them is evident from the moment the two of them are on screen together. You really feel yourself wanting these two to get together and over come the odds that are thrown against them. Make no mistake these two have a lot to get through including she’s at least 12 years older then him, he’s a member of a mystical race, and Ayato catches Haruka kissing her ex-boyfriend. Still, even through the hardships you find yourself wanting them to hook up.

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A problem that the series seemed to suffer from is that it seems to lack staying power. I mean I love this anime and count it among one of my favorites but unfortunately not a lot of others feel the same way. If I can find a big fault in it the series’ characters other than Ayato and Haruka are a bit on the forgetful side. I mean they don’t have the recognition factor that say Rei or Asuka from Evangelion have. Of course maybe if there were hundreds of figures of Haruka then the series might have the popularity that Evangelion has. Still, its true that the supporting cast is more generic than that of Evangelion but at least Rahxephon works hard to answer all the plot points that it sets up and doesn’t try to twists its fan’s minds just to tell a story.

I really do recommend this series though profusely. If the series finds its way onto Netflix or Hulu (scratch that I looked it up while I was typing up this post. It is on Hulu. The entire series), I highloy recommend that you take some time and rewatch this series. The mecha battles are entertaining in a way that’s just as inventive as Evangelion and the tug on your heart strings love story will keep you going throughout the series. And if you find yourself enjoying it, recommend it to someone else so this series can stay a classic for all to enjoy. Fly me to the music…

Rating: A-

Macross

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Have you ever talked with an old school anime fan? I mean true old school anime fan, not those who look at Toonami with a sense of nostalgia but those who were fans from before the creation of cartoon network. The three titles these true old schoolers will mention is StarBlazers (Space Battleship Yamata), Voltron (Beast King Golion) and Robotech. the show Robotech is particularly notorious fore being created by typing three series together with no other connection to create s huge spanning universe. Still, its the first arc, the one based on Super Dimension Fortress Macross that people feel the most love for. The reason: Its just so damn good.

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After a mysterious craft falls to earth, the governments of the world partake in the Unification War to band together with one goal in mind: To restore the ship that fell from the stars. On the day of its initial launch, Hikaru Ichjiyo, a young stunt pilot is caught into the middle of an alien invasion. Finding himself caught with in the crossfires with this armada looking to use the ship that got away for their own purposes, Hikaru has no choice but to become a soldier and fight to protect his friends and family. Along the way, he develops a complicated love triangle with upcoming idol Lynn Minmay and First Lieutenant Misa Hayase.

It’s really hard to talk about a series like Macross because it is such a milestone series and has had such lasting power in the anime community that there is no denying the hold that it possesses. The series starts strong with an alien ship crashing to earth, continues with incredible mecha fight scenes in space, and rounds itself off by focusing on the intense love triangle that the series became known for. An anime fan that has not seen Macross, is someone who needs to realize they have a lot that they still need to check out. This series is one that must not be missed.

166b6c989634c395a19e63d7f9a6dbf9Of course I’m not going to just gush all over this series. I’m aware its not without its faults. Thanks to the American Version of this series, the name Minmay became associated with a very character that was very annoying and unnecessary. Know that is more in the Robotech version of the show and doesn’t truly carry back into the original series. The original voice actress and the Japanese songs were fair more entertaining then the ones that were made for the american audience. If your finding it hard to believe that these songs could be that annoying, just pop over to YouTube and check them out. Trust me, they aren’t exactly something you add to a favorite playlist.

There also is the issue with the additional nine episodes. Originally the series was just supposed to be a 27 episode series. Then the audience and ratings for the show were insane so the studio tacked on an additional nine episodes which really do feel very tacked on. This is especially true considering that in the 27th episode an incredible planet wide battle took place and the most of the Earth was destroyed in the process. Kinda hard to come back after hitting a high point like that.

Despite the drag in the attached episodes, the series is still good and started a franchise that is continuing today. I look back fondly on Macross and would gladly rewatch it if I was blessed with more time in my life. For now I’ll keep remembering love and the importance of protoculture.

Rating: A

Gasaraki

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There are series that stay with you for years to come that you reflect on with great nostalgia. Then there are the shows that annoy you to the point that you look at them with malice and contempt (I’m looking at you Burst Angel). But there is another category of shows that are so bland and forgettable that is not until you find it mentioned elsewhere that you remember “Oh yeah I did see that.” This i s the case of Gasara.

Yushiro Gowa is a member of the a military squadron sent into the Middle East. On top of being a pilot of a TA (mecha of the series), Yushiro is also a member of the family that is helping to produce the machine and are set to make a high profit in the new battlefield. As Yushiro deploys he finds himself being drawn away spiritually by a rival pilot Miharu. As he dives deeper in to this spiritual connection he finds that his family, have unlocked a power from long ago that helped them to establish themselves in the world today. Now, he might find himself having to pay for his family’s sins.

 

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Gasaraki is a series with serious pacing issues. It tries to be deep with its themes of mysticism and trying to tie them to modern robotics is stretched out and lost to the point they are rushing to explain the connection in the last episode. This is best shown in the series finale, where Yushior’s sister Misuzu is being absorbed by the demon armor (don’t really remember why and frankly don’t care to find out) but is saved at last minute by Yushiro right before the credits start to roll without letting us know how the revelation to the cast that this ancient mysticism helped to make their mechas. Not that we really get to know any of the characters in a proper manner. I still can’t remember a single name of any of the members of Yushior’s team.

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As I stated in the opening this series falls in the middle in terms of the whole Good/Bad spectrum. Of course in this day and age of my anime watching that’s almost a greater sin then being terrible series. I mean think about it. Good series you adore, rally behind, and tell your friends about how much you enjoyed watching it. Bad series you hate on, pick apart, and complain to your friends about how terrible it was to suffer through. What do you do with the middle of the road series that are okay at best and forgettable at worst? Not much really. I was able to see this series because I borrowed it form a friend who got it off a bargain bin sale. If you are able to duplicates these circumstances when you watch this series then by all means go for it. If not then its probably best to stay away from this one.

RATING: C-

Code Geass

code_geass_01 Just like when I talked about Burst Angel there are times when a show has a strong opening but then goes absolutely nowhere with its story. This is far too common and much rarer are occasions when a show has a strong first episode and episodes that follow are jut as incredible. This is the case of Code Geass, a mecha series that is incredible powerful through the its entire run.

In the conquered former country of Japan now called Area 11, the exiled prince Lelouch of the conquering army of Britannia wishes to change the world. In the middle of a war zone he meets a mysterious woman named C.C., who grants him the ability of Geass which allows him to give someone one absolute command that the victim must follow. With his new power Leloouch takes the disguise of Zero and sets forth to take down Britannia and discovers the secrets behind his mother`s death.

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The world and characters of Code Geass is what really makes the show stand on its own. Lelouch is an incredibly motivated and intriguing character who does some very underhanded moves but does it in a way that keeps people watching. On the other idea of the conflict is Suzaku a Japanese man who has enrolled in the Britannia Army who was childhood friend of Lelouch, the conflict between these two former friends is one of the center themes of the show and keeps people watching episode after episode. I would also re-missed if I didn’t mention Kallen, who beings an equal measure of epic mecha piloting skill and fanservice eye candy for the male watchers. Some shows just offer a female character that gives nothing except breast jiggling but a attribute nothing to the show. Code Geass is a show that makes itself a cut amongest the rest.

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The mecha of the series are very unique in there own right. Each nation of the series has a different suit and offers a unique visual style about it. The standard mecha of both sides are very distinct but the prototype and specially built models are incredibly distinct. Suzaku’s Lancelot is a fast mecha with its launchers moves from the hips like other suits moves to its Arms. Also Kallen’s Guren Mark II has a devastatingly powerful attack that totally microwave her opponents robot. Just thinking about the Guren makes me want to pull up youtube and watch it again.

Code Geass is an intense series with a lot of great action and immersive characters. Yes, its not without its faults but personally none of them truly annoy me to the point that I cant give the series such a glowing review. Why are you still reading this? You need to track down this series and watch it. If i had the Geass I’d use it to command you to go watch this anime.

RATING: A-

Burst Angel


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There are times when a series has a great premiere and a great reception only to fade away like dust in the wind. If a series is lucky it’s just that the response wasn’t what the studio or network was hoping for and it was cancelled before truly achieving glory. If the series was at least halfway entertaining then a fandom will grow around theses series and continue to sing its praise. Unfortunately as most are aware, Anime for the most part has a planned out length and get map of the story they are hoping to tell. This means that if a series has a great opening or start to it and their isn’t’ a huge group of followers discussing it and demanding that sequels be made then there is a good chance the series was just not every good in the long run. This was my experience with Burst angel.

My first exposure with the series took place at Acen 2005. I was at my hotel room and a friend of mine had returned from the dealer room with the first disc that Funimation had just put on sale that weekend. My friend popped it in and I will admit the first few minutes of the first episode are nothing but awesome. Before we even meet any characters we watch as a giant root gets into a fight with a giant monstrosity. The battle is intense as we watch the mecha, Django, defeat the creature with a pair of rapid fire pistols. It is probably one of the best first few minutes in anime history. Sadly it’s all downhill from here.

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As the series begins we are introduced to Kyohei (you can just feel free to call him chef as his job is to cook for the rest of the characters and he has little character developments.). Anyways, Chef is hired to cook for a team of Mercenary girls all who are named after characters from the book little women. Unfortunately, none of the girls are nearly as developed as their classic literature counterparts and are instead bland enough to be downgraded to their job title. Sei is the business side of the operation, Jo is the muscle and pilot of Django, Amy is the hacker, and Meg is the hostage. No seriously she gets captured during almost every story line she’s involved in. More on this in a moment. Basically, chef is the normal one finding the operations the girls undertake to be too intense, but does little but sits on the sideline and watch as things explode around him. If you think I’m underselling the series you’re sadly mistaken.

One of the problems with the show is Meg. Like I said she gets captured every story line and despite having a real cool gun, she doesn’t do anything cool with it or defeat any of the enemies. She also doesn’t grow as a character, which makes the ending that much more frustrating. The biggest and most frustrating moments is the very end of the series, (YES, I am giving you spoilers as its for your own good), as it appears that Jo is gone, Meg says she will keep up the fight with the final scene being her wearing Jo’s jacket, Jo’s pistols, and a repainted Django. There was not enough development for the character for this ending to make any sense and the character is just plain annoying.

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The mecha in the series Django is a pretty impressive robot with a nice cowboy look. Sadly it after the first fight in the opening things quickly goes downhill. Basically the impressive looking robot fights against a bunch of crappy generic monster of the week mechanical animals and poorly put together robots. Also, Django has no close combat weapons, which is a major flaw I see in all giant robots as close quarters weapons is a basic mainstay with all robotic arsenals.

When I did finally get around to watching this series was incredibly disappointing, especially after I had such a fond feeling from the first episode. I can’t tell fans enough that its just for the their best interest to stay far away from this series. I need to go watch a Gundam series just to watch the taste out of my mouth from writing this review.

Rating: D

Knights of Sidonia

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Keeping up with the many different series that keep coming out in anime can be a bit difficult. I mean on top of consuming all the media, I have writing to do about it in both blogging and creative writing aspects. Still, when a great Mecha comes around, I can’t help but want to check it out. Unfortunately, there are so many titles with Giant Robots, that this is not always an easy task. Luckily I took the time to check out this new Netflix exclusive series as it was worth it.

In the bowels of the future space colony of Sidonia, Nagate Tanikaze has been in intense training. When his food supply runs out, he has no choice but to venture above and become reintroduced to society. Entered into the Guardian piloting program, it soon appears as if his training was for nothing. It is not until he is given the legendary Tsugumori robot that his skills are truly uncovered and he is able to become the hope that Sidonia needs to survive the alien menace known as the Gauna.

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One of the more appealing aspects of this anime is that it has a lot of good world building in terms of the scientific aspects of the story. Humans in this world have been altered to allow themselves to photosynthesize so they require less food and nutrients. This is a very reasonable explanation on how a space colony is able to survive despite how many people are in its population. There also was the very amusing scene with characters putting on their space suits and feeling uncomfortable as they have to adjust to the feeling of having a catheter in is just another piece of good world building.

I can’t help but point out one of the aspects of the show that I found a bit disconcerting. The character designs for Hoshijiro and Shinatose are too alike. I mean I know they say that Shinatose is some kind of Hermaphrodite that will later choose her gender but that doesn’t change the fact that the two have similar physical features and hair cuts to the point I didn’t realize they weren’t the same person until they were standing next to one another. Points off for not making the two characters stand out more from one another.

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Still, the series was addicting and I found myself binge watching it in less than a week. I’m half tempted to break down and run out and buy the manga for it. This is a lot of praise for a series as I usually don’t read much Mecha manga as I don’t think they capture the action as intensely as well as the animation does. Still, I’m trying to watch my spending so I’ll have to wait for more episodes to appear on Netflix. Unless someone out there wanted to make a sizeable donation so I can go grab some copies of the manga. HINT, HINT!

Rating: B