I think I’d already been introduced to Osamu Kobayashi by way of his Studio 4°C shorts End of the World and Table and Fishman at this point, so was quite excited to see him on the Beck adaptation. While it doesn’t quite capture his personal style fully (his Gurren Lagann & Kemonozume episodes are more representative), he was probably the best choice for the project as he has a grasp of pop culture that goes beyond other anime shows or otaku subculture.
In fact, he’s far cooler than Beck author, Harold Sakuishi. Gone are the manga’s references to UK/US bands that come across as cringeworthy rather than cool (Sade???) and in come in a ton of throw away references to indie bands from Japan, the US and UK. And an ending animation that is just a straight up tribute to musical acts Kobayashi digs.
Unfortunately as good as the show is, there’s one horribly clunky problem with the show. A number of characters are supposed to be bilingual in Japanese and English, and others are supposed to have English as their main language, and I’m afraid very few of the performances convince you that is the case. I’m not sure if this is down to the performers or the script, but at the very least Yuuma Ueno is terribly unconvincing as the supposedly fluent Ryuusuke. And there’s a few minor roles who have the opposite problem where they appear to have been cast for their language skills rather than their acting skills.
If you can get past that hurdle, it’s a worthwhile and stylish adaptation of a great manga.
Usune Masatoshi’s post apocalyptic gun fetish manga gets a broad adaptation from Gonzo, complete with now statutory terrible ending that deviates from the manga.
The “hero” of the show, Sunabouzu, won’t be to everyone’s taste. He’s like short-tempered Lupin III, but devoid of all of Lupin’s charm, meaning he comes across as a complete git fuelled by greed and lust. Likewise his relationship with Junko is a like a cruder version of the Lupin/Fujiko dynamic.
While I had no real problem with the episodes I saw, my over-riding impression was that I’d rather have read the manga. The whole military hardware & survivalist fetish side of the series is lost a little in the translation to the anime, which seemed happier with parts revolving around gags about Junko’s breasts. Likewise, the manga has a more realistic approach to the character design (though it can feel schizophrenic when it veers from near-Otomo realism to crude approximations of manga-cute to Wile E. Coyote cartoon gags).
Nerd club sitcom that pitches somewhere above a Dork Tower and below an Eltingville Comic Book Science Fiction Fantasy Horror Role-Playing Game Club.
Like Panda Z, Genshiken is one of those shows where I got to an episode and said to myself “it can’t get any better than this” and stopped watching. In this case it’s Episode 9, where Tsutomu Mizushima (Hale+Guu) draws out every moment of tension in head nerd Madarame’s afternoon spent alone with Kasukabe in the club room.
It’s a social discomfort comedy, like a Meet The Parents or The Office. It crops up in manga a reasonable amount (Detroit Metal City for instance thrives on it), but rarely do you see it converted on the screen as animation so well. It’s all in the timing, and Mizushima is a master at the slow turn of the screw in social torture as much as he is psychological and physical torture.
Another ufotable show with character designs from Jun Shibata (Dokkoida). For my money it’s the last of their projects that gelled as a whole, though the opening episode of their next show has some great action animation.
This is a mightily silly show based on Ryoichi Koga’s manga. It takes the two stories per episode route favoured by many comedy shows wanting to pack in the gags rather than pad a story out to fit an episode. Given the nature of so many of its peers in the pages of Dengeki Daioh (and their anime adaptations), it could so very easily have been a simpering mess. Thankfully though there’s a vulgar edge there in the source material. And a hell of a lot more edge in the performance of Norio Wakamoto as “super-handsome boy” Onsokumaru. If it is possible to chew scenery in a cartoon, then he is doing it here.
Of course as a ufotable show, it has a very tactile, hand crafted ending animation.
I know I’ve watched some of this, and yet I recall nothing. Standard fantasy adventure. Another show licensed in the US by the now elusive Illumitoon.
Another NHK show, which means it’s hard to find viewer ratings, but seeing as there’s been five seasons of it so far, I think we can assume it does more than OK.
Takuya Mitsuda’s manga has been running since 1994, and it follows the life of baseball player Goro Honda from kindergarten through to his professional career.
Director Kenichi Kasai had come off Mirumo and would direct the first three seasons of the show, before the popularity of Honey & Clover and Nodame Cantabile started to push his career in a different direction as the go to guy for romance shows.
Takahiro Omori (Bacanno!) adapts Tachibana Higuchi’s manga about a school for gifted youngsters. Seriously, there was no need for a “shojo manga” X-Men, because this is pretty much it in concept, if not characters. The show itself is a perfectly acceptable entry into the genre, helped by being an NHK show so that unlike a lot of its contemporaries you don’t feel like you’re watching an extended advert for merchandise.
A show that I really should watch more of, or at least read the manga of, as I quite liked what I saw.
The problem? Well I have a degree in Food Science and until I moved into the exciting world of the dotcom boom (& bust) and electronic publishing, a good portion of my life involved telling people off in food factories for poor food hygiene.
So the guy who bakes bread IN A MASK, WITH PEACOCK FEATHERS ON IT, flips a switch in my brain and I get angry at this fictional character. It’s made worse, in that early on, the hero is told off for poor kitchen attire.
Of course this is a series that in later volumes of the manga goes completely barking mad, so maybe I should cut it some slack, quell my Pavlovian food factory manager urges and give it another shot.
Bleach is a reasonable Shonen Jump property that makes for a reasonable anime. Animation-wise, while it doesn’t reach the highs of Naruto, it also doesn’t plummet to the lows. Noriyuki Abe, directed the thematically similar Yu Yu Hakusho in the 90s and he’s a steady hand for this sort of thing.
The manga suffers at little from the fact that it seems that Tite Kubo wasn’t expecting it to be this popular, and so after going through what now seems to be the pacing of a SJ property (opening that could be a one-off story, then gradual lengthening plot arcs, and slow to introduce main antagonist) it’s fallen into a holding pattern of repetition of story beats. And obviously the anime inherits that, along with the added problem of inserting filler arcs into a story that is now just one interminable drawn out fight.
Unfortunately the one main thing the manga has going for it – the sense of design – doesn’t survive the translation to animation that well. We get some of it in the openings, but the episode animation tends to be meat and potatoes work.
That said, if you like shonen action shows, it’s worth watching the up to the end of the Soul Society arc as the pacing is very strong on those episodes. Those episodes clear through source material at least twice as fast as Naruto or One Piece would.
The second big Tezuka adaptation of year. I hadn’t quite realised just how big this show was. Airing alongside Detective Conan, it debuted with very strong ratings for an anime show at the time, and ones that would kill today. Followed by Black Jack 21 in 2006. I’m interested in checking this out at some point, which I can as Crunchyroll have begun to stream it.