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[In which I review] New anime, Spring 2001

KoboldLord

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I think one thing that turned out to be key for Galaxy Angel is the fact that each episode was really two half episodes. The shorter run time for any given plot means that a relatively thin joke didn't have as much time to wear out its welcome, and it was this more than the cast change that really killed Galaxy Angel Rune. It just isn't the same if the cast can't casually kill each other and then all be back for the next fifteen minutes.

I don't think Galaxy Angel could have gotten four seasons off of the actual plot of the games, which are pretty rote strategy/dating sim mashups. Cutting the male lead entirely may not have been the best thing to do, but it was better than the most likely alternative.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
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Project ARMS
(26 episodes)

What's it about ?

A high school student is stalked by both a creepy transfer student and a team of men in black. Maybe this is linked to his weird right arm (which hasn't been the same since a mysterious incident years ago)...

Characters

Ryo, our protagonist. Kind-hearted, a bit of a slacker... and owner of incredibly 80s sideburns. His right arm is definitely not normal, what with healing ridiculously fast and transforming into something else at the end of the episode.

Katsumi, totally not his girlfriend, and typical bossy tsundere material. Spends most of the episode either in distress... or with Ryo thinking she's in distress (while his opponents couldn't care less about her). She's actually less annoying than this sounds.

Hayato, the creepy transfer student with his left arm bandaged. The kind who single-handedly defeats a dozen bullies offscreen. His left arm is actually a weird claw-with-blades thing, and he's somehow able to make Ryo's arm vibrate by "resonance".

There are quite a few men in black circling around Ryo and Hayato while delivering cryptic exposition. They want to capture the two ARMS subjects, but there's probably more to it.

Production Values

Not a lot of budget, but enough directing tricks to somewhat disguise it as artistically-motivated. Good use of colour to build the atmosphere, too.

Overall impression

This is actually quite decent : the characters have a lot of chemistry, the atmosphere is well set, and it moves at a decent clip. The character design's a bit retro, but you get used to it quickly.

The problem is that I don't care about the story. At all. It's a bit of a cliché, and despite the quality of the execution I can't see this series going anywhere interesting.

Spoiler: Show


That's quite a skin condition Hayato has got there...
 

Mejiro

I think I'm a Drow now
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I watched the whole thing. It does come back to a little bit of plot at the end, but all totaled there's about six episodes of actual content in there. It would have probably been better as a mini-series. Sadly, even the action scenes started to suffer when the animators stopped having the targets' mooks attempt to dodge or take cover or do anything particularly interesting.
I think by the time you've watched the same flashback about a dozen times, each time in full but with just a little bit more added on (I think there are full-on nested flashbacks in there as well) it is getting a bit annoying. The soundtrack is fantastic (except the eyecatch, which is horrible), the animation is nice, the plot is good, but damn it takes its time to get anywhere. If you've got a lot of ironing to do, or something else where you're going to be stuck in front of the TV for periods of time, it's not bad, but you're not going to be missing sleep waiting for the next episode.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
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Zone of the Enders - Dolores, I
(26 episodes)

What's it about ?

A space trucker finds out that the dodgy shipment he's carrying back to Earth is a hotly sought-after experimental mecha.

Characters

James, our protagonist. A war veteran (or so he claims) stuck into a dead-end space-trucker job, he's at least well into his forties and got a not-so-loving family waiting for him back on Earth (at the very least, his teenage daughter wants nothing to do with him, and his son doesn't even return his calls). The series goes out of its way to depict him as a washed-out loser, miserably failing at flirting with girls half his age, and drowning himself in booze. He does get some sort of epiphany halfway through the first episode, although given that his idea of reconnecting with his family involves purchasing an overpriced cat for his daughter and burying himself into self-help books (with his cabin increasingly looking like a pigsty as he does so), I'm not too optimistic on his chances of success.

Laia, James's up-to-no-good contact who sets him up with his shipment. It's hard to look more shifty than this dude, and James has enough history with him to know better than taking the gig. But overpriced cats cost money, so he eventually relents. (It helps that Laia's backup trucker wound up mysteriously shot dead mere hours after taking the job - although Laia's not telling this to James, of course...)

Dolores, the cargo. A fifty-foot-tall mecha that behaves and speaks like a teenage girl. No, seriously, she's even shy about having a man "down there" (into the cockpit).

There are of course some shady people looking into taking hold of Dolores, with enough connections to infiltrate the UN space patrols.

Production Values

Perfectly watchable, and there's been a lot of care put into background details to make the setup feel grounded in reality. The score is a bit dated and MIDI-ish, but it does the job.

Overall Impression

Wow, that was fun. I don't know if it's the novelty of having a "mature" dude as a protagonist, but I really enjoyed this. It's not exactly deep or subtle, but this looks like a madcap romp in a relatively grounded space sci-fi setting. Despite being a loser, James is a compelling protagonist, and he's already got lots of chemistry with Dolores.

Google tells me this is a sequel to an OVA that itself spun off a videogame franchise, but it seems to stand perfectly well on its own.

Spoiler: Show


James in his natural habitat.
 

Dawgstar

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I've only ever seen the first episode of Noir, but I remember quite liking it. I note that they have a complete collection out and it's very affordably priced. Darn it.
 

ru

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Dolores, the cargo. A fifty-foot-tall mecha that behaves and speaks like a teenage girl. No, seriously, she's even shy about having a man "down there" (into the cockpit).
and they really do mean COCKpit

Google tells me this is a sequel to an OVA that itself spun off a videogame franchise, but it seems to stand perfectly well on its own.
The ZOE video games (of which there are two) are fantastic; some of my favourite games - even considering the protagonist of the first one is a whiny-ass kid. great frenetic 3d flying mecha combat
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
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I'm skipping two series :
- Gyouten Ningen Batsealer, a kids' show I couldn't get a hold of.
- You're Under Arrest Second Season, which fell outside of the remit of this thread by being an obvious sequel.

So the next show on the list is...



Hanaukyo Maids (Hanaukyo Maid-tai)
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

A boy receives a sudden inheritance from his grandfather : a ridiculously huged mansion, staffed by hundreds of maids. (Also, tons of money.)

Characters

Taro, our protagonist. Completely baffled by the whole thing. In the grand tradition of stupid harem comedies, he's got an allergy to girls, which makes it all very awkward.

We don't actually see his grandfather, but he sounds like a gigantic pervert : his video will to Taro only has footage of maids sunbathing on a private island, there are nude statues everywhere, and then there's all the training of the maids to be very intimate to their master. Now, I can somewhat understand why a squad of them would help him pee and bathe, but there's little excuse for the "final service" after lights out.

Mariel seems to be the head maid or something (although it's not actually acknowledged onscreen). Taro seems to like her, and she's the only maid who does not set off his girl allergy (which of course raises all sorts of alarms in my brain - hopefully they're not going that route, are they ?).

There are literally hundreds of other maids, although the only other notable ones are a set of triplets who seem the most sexually aggressive of the bunch.

Production Values

Terrible. This is barely animated at all. Also : boobies ! There's LOTS of nudity here.

The ED sequence has live-action footage of what looks like the voice-actresses cosplaying as their characters, which is frankly embarassing. At least they're properly clothed...

Overall Impression

Dear gods this was horrible and sanity-destroying. This obviously tries to be a raunchy sex comedy, but this is neither funny nor titillating.

This somehow got a remake in 2004. I can't see how that'd improve things.

Spoiler: Show


I had trouble retrieving the only SFW scene of assault in this episode.
 

dkellis

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- You're Under Arrest Second Season, which fell outside of the remit of this thread by being an obvious sequel.
Aw. Although I could have sworn YUA's first season was around that time... wait, 1996? With the OAV at 1994? That's older than I remembered.

... now I really want to watch it again.
 

Evil Midnight Lurker

What Lurks at Midnight
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Project ARMS: It does not help matters that the translation is by Fred Burke, Viz's least competent writer, who could not localize his way out of a wet paper bag.

(I blame him for the cancellation of Viz's Guyver and FotN manga. Yes, I'm bitter.)
 
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