Shuffle! – Anime Review

Shuffle!
Production Info
Episodes: 24
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Aired: 07/07/05 – 01/05/06
Director: Naoto Hosoda
Producertion: asread
US Info
Licensee: Funimation
Distributor: Funimation
Scores
Story: ★★★★
Animation: ★★★★★
Music: ★★★★
Dub: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★

Shuffle! initially appears to be your standard harem anime series, though with a little twist.  You have the main male character, Rin Tsuchimi, which is actually an above-average male lead for a harem series due to the fact that, despite still being indecisive, he appears to be normal and otherwise someone you could actually see the female characters falling for normally.

Rin is surrounded by 4 girls(well, technically 5, but effectively his choice is between 4 of them): 2 from the human world, 1 from the world of the gods, and 1 from the world of the demons.  The two human girls are his close childhood friend Kaede and his tomboyish sempai Asa.  Then there is Sia, a goddess princess, and Nerine, a demon princess.  They all compete, at some level, and in different ways, for Rin’s attention throughout the series.

The first thing I should warn possible viewers about is that this series is very fan-service laden.  So much so that Funimation has decided to give it a TV-MA rating.

The first 11 episodes or so of the series is very much like a slice of life series.  Most of the show’s entertainment is being driven by the comedy caused from the girls all trying to get Rin’s attention and spend more time with him.  Some of this comedy is also derived from the fact that most of the other boys in the school are angry that Rin is spending too much time with either Kaede, Sia, or Nerine, and are routinely disrupting his life because of it.

Once the series enters it’s second half, it starts getting into the main character’s backgrounds, resulting in a darker and more serious turn in the series.  I find this half of the show to be the more interesting half, since we start dealing with actual issues and problems with the characters instead of just happily going around flashing panties, which is what mostly happens in the first half of the series.  The girl that Rin starts leaning towards becomes increasingly obvious as the 2nd half progresses, though the end result is still at least relatively in doubt until the end.

Overall, I thought the humorous first half of the show had enough humor to at least make it a decent watch, though if that was all that made up the show, the excessive fan service might have been too much for me.  As I noted before, what I think really carried the show was the darker, more dramatic second half.  Sure, there was still some comedy thrown in, but no where near as much as the first half of the series.

To some extent, once you’ve seen one harem show you’ve seen them all, but that’s true of many sub-genre’s as well.  I think there were several aspects that made Shuffle! unique, especially in it’s second half.  Again, I would rate Rin as an above-average male lead for a typical harem show because he seems like your average joe, and not necessarily a loser or a jerk, which is often the case of male lead in similar shows.  Also, while the characters are, just by the nature of the show, probably going to be a bit excessively enthusiastic about the male lead, I don’t think it was overdone.

The one big minus I have for this show is, once again, the fan service.  There is a good reason it was rated TV-MA, and much of the fan-service is pretty much needless and gratuitous.  I’m not sure what reason there was for it, other than to cater for a specific audiences.  Other shows have been made from ero-games without stooping to the level of fan-service that appears in Shuffle!.

On the technical aspects of the show, the animation is excellently done, I thought.  The music is good, though isn’t anything really to call home about.  One of the pleasant surprises in Funimatin’s release of the show, however, is the dub, with everyone’s dub (except perhaps Primula’s) being very well done.  I actually thought it was one of the better dubbed shows out there.

Overall, if you just don’t like harem shows, I’m not sure there is enough in Shuffle! to really make this show be an exception for you.  However, if you like harems, or at least don’t mind them, I think Shuffle! presents itself as one of the better examples out of that sub-genre, and it might be worth giving it a watch.  You might want to give it some time, though, since the better stuff is in the second half of the series.  I think I’ll give this show an overall rating of 4 stars.  The “story” rating is probably more like 3 1/2 stars, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and round up to 4 stars.

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ef: a tale of melodies – Anime Review

ef – a tale of melodies
Production Info
Episodes: 12
Genre: Drama
Aired: 10/6/08 – 12/22/08
Director: Shin Oonuma
Production: SHAFT
US Info
Licensee: N/A
Distributor: N/A
Scores
Story: ★★★★★
Animation: ★★★★★
Music: ★★★★★
Dub: N/A
Overall: ★★★★★

ef – a tale of melodies is the 2nd part of the ef series – part sequel, part prequel, part spinoff – which focuses on two new stories, both of which can stand own their own, and yet are also intertwined with the stories of the first series.

The first story is set several years in the past between the mysterious girl Yuuko Amamiya and Chihiro’s caretaker Yu Himura.  Suddenly Yuuko tries to befriend Himura while they’re in high school.  However, Himura realizes that Yuuko is the same girl he knew when he was growing up in the local orphanage. However, he resisted to befriend Yuuko because she reminded him too much of his little sister whom he lost in a major earthquake which had rocked the town.  Himura similarly tries giving Yuuko the cold shoulder  when they meet again in high school for much of the same reasons.  However, Yuuko’s insistence and evidence that Yuuko is being bullied by the other girls at school starts to pull Himura closer to her, only to reveal Yuuko’s terrible past.

The second story is set in what we end up learning to be a duplicate town of Otowa in Australia, which is actually where Chihiro lives with Himura and Renji, away from her sister Kei, who lives in the “real” Otowa with Hiro and Miyako in Japan.  Kei’s friend Mizuki is visiting this 2nd Otowa and staying with Renji, who is her cousin, over the break.  She soon runs into Renji’s neighbor Kuze and immediately starts to fall for him because of his beautiful violin playing.  However, while initially playing along with Mizuki, Kuze starts pushing her away because he has an apparently fatal and incurable illness.  However, Mizuki still insists on getting closer to him.

One of the best things about a tale of melodies as opposed to a tale of memories is that it seems more jointed.  What I mean is that a tale of memories could have pretty easily been two separate shows just because they were, seemingly, so unrelated.  However, the two stories in a tale of melodies are linked, at least in some ways, as well as giving a little back story to the two stories from memories as well.  I think in part because of this a tale of melodies does what I would have thought to be unthinkable before: top it’s predecessor, a tale of memories.

I think the Yuuko/Himura arc is the best arc out of the 4 covered in the two series, and while I think the Mizuki/Kuze arc is probably the weakest of the four, it’s still good enough to keep the show going.  Also, just like memories, melodies excels in keeping the stories going despite splitting time between the two of them in the bulk of the episodes.  Also, the fantastic technical aspect of the first series also remain in this series.

If you liked ef – a tale of memories, you’ll probably love ef – a tale of melodies. If you haven’t watched either and you don’t mind some drama-heavy shows, go ahead and check this out.

True Tears – Anime Review

The Essentials

True TearsName: True Tears
Genre: Romance, Drama, Comedy
Episodes: 13
Aired: January 5, 2008 – March 29, 2008
Based On: True Tears visual novel game by La’cryma
Director: Junji Nishimura
Produced By: P.A. Works, Bandai Visual
US Distribution By: Bandai Visual/Bandai Entertainment
Continue reading

Place Promised in our Early Days, The – Anime Review Update

The Place Promised in our Early DaysThis is just a note saying that I’ve re-scored my review for The Place Promised in Our Early Days as part of my project to switch my scoring system from the old percentage system to the new 5-point system.

You can see the full review here.

The new scores for this series are:

Animation: 5/5
Story: 4/5
Music: 5/5
Dub: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

Someday's Dreamers: Summer Skies – Anime Review

The Essentials

summerskiesName: Someday’s Dreamers: Summer Skies
Genre: Romance, Drama
Episodes: 12
Aired: July 2, 2008 – September 24, 2008
Based On: Someday’s Dreamers: Summer Skies manga by Norie Yamada
Director: Osamu Kobayashi
Produced By: Hal Film Maker
US Distribution By: Not Licensed

Cast

Character Japanese Cast English Cast (N/A)
Sora Suzuki: Kana Hanazawa
Gouta Midorikawa: Tomoaki Maeno
Seiichirou Hara: Rikiya Koyama
Hiyori Yamabuki: Mikako Takahashi
Honomi Asagi: Marina Inoue
Kouji Kuroda: Daisuke Namikawa
Mage Kawada: Yoko Soumi

Review

Someday’s Dreamers: Summer Skies is about a girl, Sora Suzuki, who travels to Tokyo from Hokkaido to train as a mage.  She soon runs into a boy, Midorikawa, who is also attending mage training because his father was a mage (unbeknownst to him until recently), despite the fact that he can’t seem to do any magic himself at all.

The series progresses – slowly – as Sora learns more about the world, helping Midorikawa come to grips with his magical power along the way and creating a romance between the two along the way.  However, unknown to Midorikawa, Sora has a special reason why she wants to train as a mage.

This series, if viewed from very high, may not be all that bad a work, but once you start watching the episodes, several problems immediately start to show themselves.  First, the pacing, as a alluded to above, is slow.  Very slow.  Painfully slow.  I usually have a problem when doing episode reviews of having my reviews be too long and having too many screenshots.  This series presented me with the opposite problem: so little happened that I struggled to even write about what was going on.

While the development that did happen in the first 3/4 of the series of so is pretty good (however much of it there was), the last quarter of the series took a turn which turned the entire series on it’s head, and not necessarily in a good way.  Some people may like the twist at the end, but I found it needless and counterproductive.

This is all on top of the fact that the animation isn’t all that good.  The character animations look somewhat cheap, and the background animation doesn’t really impress either once one realizes that they’re essentially photoshopped real life photos.  If one likes really slow Dramas with romance thrown in, then you might like this, but this show might be a bit too slow for most people.

Scores

Story: 2/5
Animation: 2/5
Music: 4/5
English Dubs: N/A

Overall: 2/5

First Watched: July – September 2008
Do I Own: No
Do I Recommend: No

World of Narue – Anime Review Update

World of NarueThis is just a note saying that I’ve re-scored my review for World of Narue as part of my project to switch my scoring system from the old percentage system to the new 5-point system.

You can see the full review here.

The new scores for this series are:

Animation: 4/5
Story: 4/5
Music: 4/5
Dub: 3/5

Series: 4/5

Maria Holic – Anime Review

The Essentials

maria_holicName: Maria Holic
Genre: Comedy
Episodes: 12
Aired: January 4, 2009 – March 22, 2009
Based On: Maria Holic manga by Minari Endo
Director: Yukihiro Miyamoto
Produced By: SHAFT, Genco
US Distribution By: Not Licensed

Cast

Character Japanese Cast English Cast (N/A)
Kanako Miyamae: Asami Sanada
Mariya Shido: Yu Kobayashi
Matsurika Shinouji: Marina Inoue
Nanami Kiri: Akemi Kanda
Sachi Momoi: Ryoko Shintani
Yuzuru Inamori: Saori Goto
Dorm Leader: Miyuki Sawashiro

Review

Maria Holic is about a girl, Kanako, who transfers to the Catholic high school Ame no Kisaki in hopes of finding her partner in life just like her parents did.  There are a few problems, however:  Kanako isn’t Catholic, Ame no Kisaki is an all-girls school and her father was a teacher and not a student there, all-girl schools aren’t the yuri paradises that Kanako imagines them to be, Kanako is very tall, and she breaks out in rashes whenever boys touch her.

There’s also another problem: Kanako’s prime dating candidate, Mariya, happens to be a cross-dressing guy who turns the tables on Kanako buy pointing out that many people at the Catholic school she’s attending may be unhappy about her lesbianism while no one would believe that Mariya, the grandchild of the school’s ex-chairman, is actually a cross-dressing guy.  He is overall quite sadistic towards Kanako, whom he decides to room with to keep his eyes on her, along with his maid Matsurika who regards both Mariya and Kanako as perverts.  However, all of this doesn’t stop Kanako from having frequent hallucinations about the other girls in the school, resulting in massive nose bleeds that often land her in the infirmary.

This series suffers a bit from repetitive jokes, but it still does a decent job of keeping things fresh and funny.  While this series ended up dropping off a bit from it’s start, it still ended up being a decent series to watch.  Probably the biggest issues I have with it are it’s lack of any real central plot, making it more of a random or episodic comedy, and it’s inconsistent humor.  This is a series which probably could have lived up to it’s potential a a lot better, but it could have been a lot worse as well.

The animation in this show is rather washed out stylistically, which I thought was sometimes annoying, but it wasn’t too bad in the grand scheme of things, I guess.  The music is also pretty good.  Overall, if you like a random yuri comedy series, you may very well like Maria Holic.

Scores

Story: 3/5
Animation: 4/5
Music: 4/5
English Dubs: N/A

Overall: 4/5

First Watched: January – March 2009
Do I Own: No
Do I Recommend: Yes

Porco Rosso – Anime Review Update

Porco RossoThis is just a note saying that I’ve re-scored my review for Porco Rosso as part of my project to switch my scoring system from the old percentage system to the new 5-point system.

You can see the full review here.

The new scores for this series are:

Animation: 4/5
Story: 2/5
Music: 3/5
Dub: 4/5

Series: 3/5

Kimi ga Nozomu Eien: Next Season – Anime Review

The Essentials

kiminozo2Name: Kimi ga Nozomu Eien: Next Season
Genre: Drama
Episodes: 4
Aired: December 21, 2007 – December 19, 2008
Based On: Kimi ga Nozomu Eien visual novel
Director: Hideki Takayama
Produced By: Brains Base, Bandai Visual
US Distribution By: Not Licensed

Cast

Character Japanese Cast English Cast (N/A)
Takayuki Narumi: Kisho Taniyama
Haruka Suzumiya: Minami Kuribayashi
Akane Suzumiya: Kaori Mizuhashi
Shinji Taira: Makoto Aoki
Mitsuki Hayase: Chiaki Takahashi
Dr. Motoko Kouzuki: Mami Kosuge

Review

Kimi ga Nozomu Eien: Next Season is an alternate ending OVA series to the Kimi ga Nozomu Eien (aka Rumbling Hearts) TV anime series, in which Takayuki chooses Haruka instead of Mitsuki to be with at the end.  Of course, it’s not as easy as that, as Haruka starts to fear that she’s being nothing but a burden to Takayuki and attempts to break off their relationship.  Akane, in disbelief over the two’s apparent separation does everything she can to try to get the two back together.

This OVA might be a nice set of episodes for those who are just so distraught over Takayuki not choosing Haruka at the end of the TV series that they’re in outright denial, but other than that, this OVA doesn’t seem to have all that much to offer.  The storytelling was only mediocre, it seemed to focus almost more on Akane, despite it being a series about Haruka (in theory), and it took a dip in production values all around.

Given how short this series is, it probably isn’t so bad that you’ll wish for those 2 hours of your life back, but if it was much longer, you might think that.  If you’re a hard core KimiNozo fan, you might like to check this out, but for anyone else, this probably isn’t worth it.

Scores

Story: 3/5
Animation: 3/5
Music: 4/5
English Dubs: N/A

Overall: 3/5

First Watched: December 2007 – December 2008
Do I Own: No
Do I Recommend: No

Kashimashi – Anime Review Update

Kashimashi: Girl Meets GirlThis is just a note saying that I’ve re-scored my review for Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl as part of my project to switch my scoring system from the old percentage system to the new 5-point system.

You can see the full review here.

The new scores for this series are:

Animation: 4/5
Story: 3/5
Music: 4/5
Dub: N/A

Series: 4/5