I have seen a lot of movies and complete series since the past too years, thanks the weekly meetings and free "renting" of cassettes of Animorency and also thanks to great friends and Sci-Fi Anime. Most of them are OK, there are some I find really bad (most anime made up from video games, Dragon Ball, and Sailor Moon for example), and there a lot that are very good. I will express my opinion on the best I've seen, and more if I feel like it later. BTW, always find subtitled versions of Animes if you can, but recent dubbing seems to be getting better, so it's only a matter of which cast did the best job, the Japenese or the English one?
NOTE: I have these pictures and some others I also like a lot in higher resolutions. Also note that Japanese name are usually written with the family name first, but because of some English tradition with Japanese names, I've written them reversed (ie.: English style first name and then last name). Also, the names on the pictures are listed from left to right, then from top to bottom.
Right, first, explanations on some Japanese common knowledge. Kimagure is just the Japanese word for Capricious. Orange represents something sweet (love), and bit sour (sensual pleasure). It's a shoujo (girl stuff) type serie and also a comedy. Yup, you guessed it. It's a soap opera, but it concentrates on only a couple of relation, unlike the unfollowable and uninteresting American soap operas.
The story focuses on three characters: Hikaru Hiyama, Madoka Ayukawa and Kyosuke Kasuga. The first two are childhood friends, and the third is a good for nothing ESPer that arrives in town. His family was moving from town to town for people were rejecting them because of their powers, and now they are trying to keep it secret. It's then that Kyosuke falls in love with Madoka on his first day. The immature Hiraku will soon fall in love with him seeing some of his ESP powers in action without knowing about them. Madoka is the capricious part of the show and will also fall in love with Kyosuke, but because of Hiraku, will repress it along the show. Although both Hikaru and Madoka ultimately truely love Kyosuke, he is only interested in Madoka, but because he is so indecisive and because Hiraku is so annoying, he just can't tell her.
This is my all time favorite, and I think it will be for a while!! Also,
the CDs Loving Heart and Singing Heart are must have. The serie has 48
episodes, 8 OAVs (video club episodes), and 2 movies. This all comes from
the 18 mangas (books), made by the original author, Izumi Matsumoto. The
VERY nice anime drawings were made by Akemi Takada.
This comedy show by Rumiko Takahashi, which is at the same time shoujo and shonen (boys' stuff), has around 161 TV episodes, twelve OAVs and three movies. The original is in 38 mangas (books). Rare are the mangas that make it all (and more) into anime like this one. However, only the first season containing 18 episodes really follow them. I, personally, love only the episodes from that first season also. After them, not much happens, (and the drawings start to suck) but there are still some very good episodes, eventhough most of the time the original mangas are better.
The story evolves around Ranma Saotome, a boy that changes into a girl
in contact with cold water (and gets back to normal with hot water). What
happens before the story begins is that him and his father went to practice
Kenpo in China, but because they were not at all cautious, they've fallen
into some cursed springs. The old man changes into a panda in contact with
cold water. They come back to Japan to find and live with the Tendo family
which has three girls, one of which is Ranma's (unwanted) fiancée.
This romantic comedy (shoujo) is also made by Rumiko Takahashi. However, this time there is no power involved at all. It consists of a full blown 96 TV episodes, one OAV and one movie, coming from fifteen mangas for the most part. I really like this anime from top to bottom also. Of course, there is always the dummy episode somewhere... watch out Yotsuya's egg episode for a laugh. :)
Anyway, the story is about Yusaku Godai, a ronin (a student that can't
pass the entrance exams) at the beginning, who lives in room 5 of an appartement
named Ikkoku-kan. A new manager (and her dog), Kyoko Otonashi, arrives
and he falls in love with her. However, she lost her husband, Souichiro
(which is also the name she gave her dog), a year ago. The house is full of
insane people. Nobody knows anything about Yotsuya, not even his name or
his job and always appear mysteriously to bother Yusaku. Hanae Ichinose
can't stop drinking at night and always starts a party in room 5
(preventing Yusaku to study). Akemi Roppongi walks in the corridors half
naked and cunningly teases Yusaku badly most of the time. Later on a rival
arrives to seduce Kyoko, Shun Mitaka, a very beautiful, successful and rich
man, but he is afraid of dogs, hehe...
This short five manga, twelve TV episode and three OAV episode serie was made by Masakazu Katsura. It's at the same time shoujo and shounen type, since it has links to Dragon Ball's figthing (power ups, fighting, but bah, that's not what interests me).
In the future, there is major over-population problem due to Mega-Playboys. When they find out the original Mega-Playboy (the one that is their ancestor), Junta Momonari, who died, but that's not a problem, they send Karin Aio back in the past to inject Junta with a DCM bullet to change his DNA so he doesn't become a Mega-Playboy. She finds out Junta Mononari is nothing more than someone who has an "allergy" to women. As soon as he starts thinking about something funny, he pukes. The only women he can talk to are his mother and his old childhood friend, Ami Kurimoto. Anyway, Karin then injects the bullet, but it was the wrong one! This one actually made Junta the Mega-Playboy (a very strong and attractive type of person, it seems), but the complete transformation takes a while...
I like the general plot, how it evolves, and how it ends. It's just
perfect. Some funny parts, some action part, some serious part, well balanced.
Picture -> Myung Fan Lone
In 2040 A.D. on the planet Eden, three old friends (ie.: ex-friends) meet again. Isamu Dayson, a careless fellow, arrives on Eden to test pilot a new model of valkyrie (a mecha, which itself is usually defined as walking machines, or some combination), the YF-19, competing with another brain impulse driven one, the YF-21, test piloted by Guld Goa Boman, a usually cool tempered guy repressing a bad incident that is coming back to him (get the picture?). Myung Fan Lone, the third one who used to like singing, arrives later to complete her tour with Sharron Apple, an AI computer based idol singer (who of course, still doesn't have any emotion functions which Myung compensates for). Something happened between these three that isn't clear at the beginning, but things speed up and gets more complicated as other events take place with their conflict.
This magnificient masterpiece by Shoji Kawamori is the most beautiful
and well drawn anime I've ever seen. The sound and music (by Yoko Kanno)
arrangement is also impecable. It is a 4 part OVA serie as well as a movie
which is a remake of the OVAs. If you ever have to see only one anime in
your life, I'd say, get this one!
Picture -> Nuriko, Chichiri, Mitsukake, Tasuki, Tamahome, Miaka Yuuki, Hotohori and Chiriko
Fushigi Yuugi means "mysterious play". It was originally a 18 volume manga by Yuu Watase. The 52 episodes TV serie is based on the 13 first manga volumes, and the rest is covered by the nine OVAs. It is a shoujo type anime for the most part, but there are still seldom action scenes (battles, raw raw). It is also a fantasy anime.
The story's introduction doesn't give the feel of the rest. Miaka Yuuki and Yui Hongo, two good third grade school friends, are preparing for their final exams at the library when they are attracted to a special room by a ghostly red phoenix. They find a mysterious book (all right) titled "The Four Gods of the Earth and Sky" that tells a story about what happened in a couple of chinese countries long ago. The prologue started by describing a girl who was transported to another land. Then, they are swirled in the book and find themselves attacked by evil men, but saved by a good looking guy named Tamahome. DOH! That prologue was an incantation...
Nonetheless, they are left alone and Yui at one point goes back to the library and starts reading Miaka's adventure as she is again saved by Tamahome who are then both brought to the palace, where Hotohori the young and (duh) beautiful emperor lives. Miaka then becomes Suzaku (pheonix) no Miko, a powerful entity, for the Konan country. We also learn that Hotohori and Tamahome (and others) are seishi (warriors) of Susaku no Miko marked by a red kanji character on their body.
Oof, well now things are getting clearer as to where the story really begins. Later, Yui is swirled back in the book when Miaka finds a way to get out. By the time Miaka realizes this, it's too late. While only a day passed in the real world, a few months passed in the books, and bad things happened to Yui. She doesn't know this and now becomes Miaka's enemy manipulated by Nakago, emperor of the Kutou contry, enemy of the Konan country. Yui becomes the Seiryuu (dragon) no Miko for the Kutou country.
A lot of magic takes place, but love and hatred also. I like this serie
because it tells the story in a very complete (albeit painfully long to
start) manner, which gives a very broad picture of a totally new and fascinating
world. Finally, yes, the guys do look better than the girls in that anime.
Nuriko even sounds, looks and acts like a girl, but she's (err he's) a
Vision of Escaflowne
Picture -> Hitomi Kanzaki, Van Fanel, Allen Shezarr, and Susumu Amano
This 26 episode TV serie is also made by Shoji Kawamori. There is also an on going manga of the same name. Although, the general plot idea is the same, they do not resemble otherwise. The anime also contains very nice music made by Yoko Kanno as well as by Hajime Mizoguchi. The drawing is magnificient (unless you have the Hecto release). It easily beats most OVAs while still being a TV serie. The character design in the anime is however, strange, but you get used to it (hint, look at the nose).
Hitomi Kanzaki is a usual high school girl that is (unaccuratly) using her tarrot cards, runs the 100 meter and also has a kick on one of the boys in the school, Susumu Amano. One time, she lends her mysterious pendant that, when swung, counts seconds exactly, to him to time her run, but Van Fanel and a dragon appears in a light from the sky. Seeing Van in danger, Hitomi warns him, and he finally kills the dragon to retrieve the energist from him.
That's when it all starts. The pendant (important aspect), Hitomi and Van goes back into another light tunnel back to where he came from, the planet Gaea. We can see Earth and the Moon from there, but Earth can't see Gaea. They go back to Van's kingdom (Fanelia) who soon goes under heavy attack and is destroyed by the Zaibach Empire, which wants to control the planet for mysterious reason at first. Van then finds the Escaflowne (a Guymelf -> mecha), another important aspect, sticks the energist in it and flees with her. They end up being captured (for security) by Allen Shezarr, an Astoria Kingdom knight, and his team. Their camp also soon goes under attack and they are all forced to leave together. The story's general plot concentrates on the defense against the powerful Zaibach Empire.
The serie is at the same time both fantasy and science fiction type.
The atmosphere is medieval, but cool technology, like Guymelf and Veewon
(flying fortress), exists there. Battle scenes are also wonderful. Nonetheless,
be prepared to meet an old friend which is the creator of those machines,
but be sure to bring enough spare batteries for your CD player, since nothing
like these exist on Gaea. ;)
Bubblegum Crisis currently consists of eight OVA by Suzuki Toshimichi, plus an on-going TV serie currently playing in Japan, which have liltle resembles with the OVA other than the names of the characters. The character design in TV serie differs from the OVA one by Sonoda Kenichi, as seen in the picture. In any case, they both are of cyberpunk style (like Johnny Mnemonic).
The story starts in Mega-Tokyo in 2032 (and the TV episodes continue from 2040). Japan is a major player in the global economy, but one company, Genom, obviously controls a big chunk of the local and global economy just by looking at their building. They started to work on a space project a few years back and thought of developping a Cyberdroid to start space colonization. The father of Sylia Stingray was working on that project, and when something very wrong happened, he was killed, but sent his daughter the data on hard suits and what happened to him. From that time on, Genom continued developpement of Boomers (Cyberdroids) for everything under the sun: construction, public and private services, combat (although illegal), space colonization, and even sex (but due to other unrelated problems, these were dropped :). These machines are of course stronger and more flexible than humans, but artificial intelligence research continued to the point where we can't easily know if some types of Boomers are human or not anymore.
Inherithing her father's fortune and knowledge, Sylia Stingray as she grew up with her brother Mackie worked on making efficient hard suits and also became very good in combat to avenge her greed against Genom. Other members joined the group, all having something against Genom for a reason or another. There is Linna Yamazaki who is the most atheletic of the group and also works as an aerobics instructor. Priscilla S Asagiri (aka Priss), is a singer at her hours in a bar. She lived on the streets for a few years, so she knows a lot about fighting. Nene Romanova is a very bad fighter and doesn't do well in any action scenes, but since she is an expert hacker, she was able to get into the AD police when she was "pretty young" (?). They are known as the Knight Sabers. The AD police is inefficiently trying to stop combat Boomers with their slow hard suits, but nonetheless, Nene provides useful information from the police's network to the Knight Sabers.
The OVA serie is very very good. You won't see any neat computer effects (this dates from 1987-1991), but the music by Makaino Kouji and produced by Fujita Junji (which is also the executive producer) is very good, and the sound is also in stereo hi-fi. There is only one thing that bothers me though. What are high heels doing on a combat suit?
BubbleGum Crash is the follow up of BubbleGum Crisis OVAs. The
team who made it was not the same, and the plot and character personality
are changed and are not as good.
BubbleGum Crisis Tokyo 2040 was originally supposed to be the follow up in 2040, but it turned out to be another "parallel universe" thing AIC has already done for Tenchi Muyo and El Hazard before. The TV serie is also not as good as the original OVA.
Tenchi Muyo originally started as a six episode OVA named Tenchi Muyo Ryoohki by AIC under contract of Pioneer. Hiroki Hayashi and Masaki Kajishima did those six OVAs, plus seven more, which all rule in my humble opinion. The seven last are not as full of action and suprises like the six first ones, but believe me, you'll need something to calm down after seeing these. ;) The seven last also give hints to some mysteries.
After that came 26 TV episodes (which kinda suck, and which are not made by the same people either), two movies, and some Pretty Sammy episodes. (something that turned very wrong with a joke about Sasami's voice and Sailor Moon :) Recently, there were also 26 Shin Tenchi Muyo episodes (shin means new) that passed on Japanese TV. I have seen the first episodes, and it's just as bad as the original TV series, in addition of having no story plot.
The different series and films don't follow the same story line, and the characters are not exactly all the same. Personally, I saw the first TV serie and movies first and found they suck... the characters are very superfical and they act as if their corporal self didn't exist. It wasn't worth all the attention it had. Then, I saw the OVAs and learned these were made before and it's on this that Tenchi Muyo all started. Now that's more like it! So get Tenchi Muyo Ryoohki (BTW, that's the name of the cat-rabbit like puppet) if you don't want to be dissapointed.
Now, about Tenchi Muyo Ryoohki . "Tenchi Muyo" means "Useless Tenchi" or "No Need for Tenchi". Tenchi tends to react to the circumstances, he never pushes them. It can also mean "this side up" (some Japanese word play), which translates into Tenchi's desire to get back to his old life style. Now, this describes well Tenchi Masaki. Note: In Shin Tenchi Muyo, Tenchi is no longer "useless". The other characters are as still as annoying, but he now takes decisions and move things around him. He also now has a girlfriend in Tokyo, Sakuya Kumashiro!!
Back to the OVA. His grand-father runs a
shrine in the woods near a locked cave. One day, Tenchi finally decides
to break in that cave. It is said that 700 years ago a lengendary warrior
Yoshou imprisonned a demon in it, but it is "just" a legend. errr ... not
so. Tenchi finds a (good looking human female form) demon, which actually
gets quite chummy... later on, Aeka, Jurai's Princess comes down on Earth
in her ship Ryooh to snatch the demon, but alas, events take an unexpected
spin and they end up all together. Is it just a coincedence that Tenchi
fell in the middle of all this? Probably not, so have fun watching the
Golden Boy by Tatsuya Egawa is currently a running manga in Japan started in 1992 and a 6 part OVA. I have no idea how the mangas look like as they are still only available in Japan in Japanese. However, the OVAs were translated and distributed in North America by A.D. Vision, and I must say it's one of the best dubbed anime I've ever seen. I recommend getting the dubbed version over the subbed one.
Although Golden Boy might seem more of a hentai (pervert) anime at first, but it really isn't. It's the most hilarious anime you will ever watch! Kintaro Owe is a 25 years old student of life, literally. He had all the credits he needed to graduate from law school, but didn't and hit the road with his bike to study life. He has his own notebook which he writes everything in it. What he thinks, does, what others do, how he feels, everything. He takes his study very seriously, but it doesn't look that way. In the six part OVA he encounters a new woman each episode who gradually falls in love with him, but they realize it too late and by that time he's gone and riding his bike on to the next episode.
I just can't describe how hilarious this anime just is! The English voices are irresistable, the artwork is beautiful, and "facial" expression is tremendous. Although there is no general story line, a good plot is presented for each episode. This anime also depicts well the realities of life that people seem to forget. Everybody has a strange side, and Kintaro is no exception. Watch out for his love of toilet boils!
Note: not for children.
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is a 6 part OVA created by Araki Hirohiko. He also previously made the mangas which provides a more complete story, but I didn't see those. The story is about six stand users who combat against other stand users who ultimately protect Dio, a very powerful vampire stand user who feeds on the blood of Jotarou's family to live. Stand users have special power controlled by their will only. The stands show themselves as ghostly warriors when in use and have different powers for each user.
Each episode, they encounter a new stand user to defeat until they meet Dio himself. This adventurous team is composed of Joseph, Joutarou (where JoJo comes from), Polenareff, Kakyouin, Adbul, and Iggy (a smart dog). The animation is very impressive and the battle scenes show sign of intelligence and strategy. The action is very real, so be prepared to feel a bit unease. It is not like the artificical Dragon Ball fighting. The battle scenes are unique and outstanding. Although blood flows a bit too often, one battle actually contains no violence, you have to see that!
Note: not for children either.
Mobile Suit Gundam is a very long serie of series. From what I know, the following Gundam have been produced up to date starting from 1979: Gundam, Gundam The 08th MS Team, Gundam 0080, Gundam 0083, Z Gundam, Gundam ZZ, Gundam Char's Counterattack, Gundam F91, V Gundam, G Gundam, Gundam Wing, Endless Waltz, Gundam X and Turn A Gundam. I have seen Gundam (the movies only), Gundam 0080, Gundam 0083 and the first 13 TV episodes of Gundam Wing.
Gundam 0083 is a 13 episode OVA made by Takashi Imanishi at Sunrise in 1992. 79 years after space colonization, that is in Universal Century 0079, One Year War starts between the Earth Federation and the Dulchy of Zeon and ends in UC 0080. During that time, the Federation developed a Gundam model of Mobile Suits (mecha). The Federation wins, and this part is described in the original Gundam series. In 0083, the war is about to start again. Anavel Gato successfully steals Gundam Unit 1, which was armed with a nuclear head, from the Australian test pilot camp.
Kou Uraki, a test pilot, took the initiative to try to stop Gato using Unit 2, but alas... The Albion (a ship) who initially brought the Gundam to Australia from the moon's Anaheim Electronics took off in pursuit. On board Kou Uraki, Nina Purpleton (the engineer of the Gundams), their friends and commanding officers are about to experience a long adventure. Kou Uraki's life is being a pilot even if it means dying for it. The Gundams are a lifetime of work for Nina. Seeing Kou fighting with Unit 2 against Gato in Unit 1 is too much for her to bare. Their journey starts in Eastern Africa where the Gundam Unit 1 is hiding and continues in space where unending battle, physically as well as emotionally continues while suprising relationships, old and new, are revealed.
The general plot of the story is very well made and suspense very present.
The artwork and animation are wonderful. The background music as
well as the opening and ending are very good which makes the whole look
even better. Gundam 0083 is defintively an anime to see if you like
plots with a lot of material.