I finished watching the anime adaptation of Kare Kano. One thing to remember about this series is that it is by Gainax. So when you see the all paper cut-out/photographic background/characters bopping around on popsicle sticks episode (no, I’m not kidding), it will not be a huge surprise. The endless recaps/clip shows of what went on in previous episodes got tiresome at times, and the series doesn’t actually end. The last show doesn’t have much resolution, so if that type of thing might bug you, be prepared to pick up some volumes of the manga to get a satisfying conclusion. I think the anime covers up to volume 7 or 8 of the manga. Right Stuf put the show out, and sometimes the Kare Kano box set is on sale for around $35 dollars. It still manages to be a very artistic and funny show, despite its flaws.
Fruits Basket: I watched the first disc of the Fruits Basket anime, it is every bit as adorable as the manga and there are some bits (Prince Yuki’s fan club and Hanajima’s waves) that work better in animated form than on the page.
Full Metal Alchemist: Full Metal Alchemist continues to be a fun action show, that is sometimes poignant due to the contrast of the grim storylines and the young protagonists. I mean, there are plenty of shows where a character foils a serial killer, but when a 12 year old boy foils a serial killer in a meat freezer and has an understandable emotional reaction to the event, the storyline seems more compelling than if a cool laconic antihero had experienced the same event. The relationship between Edward and Al continues to be entertaining, it is easy to feel affection for these characters and wish for them to succeed in their quest to discover more alchemical knowledge so they get their original bodies back.
Tusbasa Reservoir Chronicle: The first episode of Tsubasa seemed like a good adaptation of the manga, with attractive but very skinny character designs and interesting music provided by Yuki Kajiura who also did the music for .hack/sign (a show that I personally have found one of the most boring and soul deadening animes ever produced, although the music was one of the more interesting aspects of the show. Some of the wordless vocal music used when Sakura and Syaoran are investigating the spooky archaeological dig was quite nifty.
The second episode has a drop off in the quality of animation that is typical at times, the character design turns erratic in execution and it is a bit of a disappointment.
Another first episode that I watched recently was Sousei no Aquarion. Shoji Kawamori directs the show, he also worked on a ton of Macross stuff, Escaflowne, and the Escaflowne movie (which was beautiful even if it did really suffer from compressing a season of tv show into a couple hours). So I was expecting Aquarion to have pretty robots. It is really hilarious how many anime cliches are packed into one show. If you were to make an anime cliche drinking game and watch this show it would end up being dangerous to your liver. I’ll count up some of the cliches:
1) The world tries to recover from a great catastrophe while fending off an invading force of aliens/angels.
2) A group of plucky fighters with psychic powers pilot giant mecha to fight the angels as part of an organized resistance.
3) Our plucky fighters appear to get their powers from some past life in Atlantis
4) The unwilling spiky-haired hero of the show lives like a feral animal, yet is singled out to pilot a mecha due to his psychic abilities/earlier Atlantian incarnation. He also tragically loses his best friend early in the episode in a horrific wall melting incident. The wall melting was actually sort of interesting.
5) Plucky female heroine is called “princess”, and she is simultaneously attracted to and repelled by spiky haired hero. She has older brother issues, and her brother is also an elite pilot
6) Is there a roguish authority figure with a dueling scar across his face?! Yes!
7) Is there a frail girl with extrasensory powers in a position of authority?! Yes!
8) Are there cheesy sexual references when the mecha and pilots “combine” to form a giant super mecha? But of course!
9) There is also a mysterious blond guy in a coma. You can’t have an anime show without an enigmatic blond guy.
10) Does the hero somehow connect with his long-lost Atlantean ancestor and manage to pilot a giant mecha better than anyone has before? Do you even have to ask?
So it was so cheesy and stereotypical in an unintentionally hilarious way, but the animation was great, and I do love those transforming mecha shows. One of the supporting characters seems like a transplant from Shaolin Soccer. This is such a messed up show, I haven’t decided if it is great or awful. Perhaps it is greatly awful or awfully great.