Last Update: May 2010.
Scroll down for "Karin" and "Ginban Kaleidoscope -- 2 great new shows!
Hayao Miyazaki / Orange Road / Hime-chan's Ribbon / R.O.D. The TV / Karin / Ginban Kaleidoscope / Chobits
Haibane Renmei / Gatekeepers / Saikano / Arjuna / World of Narue / Witch Hunter Robin / Armitage III / More
JAPANESE ANIMATION PAGE (THEATRICAL & TV)
The purpose of this page is not to delve into Japanese Animation in
general, but rather to show you some of my own personal favorites.
Perhaps you might be curious, and one day decide to watch these gems.
These reviews are based on the original Japanese-language versions.
Whenever you have a choice, opt to view these animations subtitled
rather than dubbed, as English dubs can rarely match the original.
"Spirited Away" won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature!
Over the past few years, Japanese Animation ("anime") has become more
popular in America. The reason, I believe, is threefold:
(1) Animation from Japan contains something lacking in traditional
American animation: emphasis on characterization and story, rather
than on animation technique. The characters are more fully rounded,
with histories and moral conflicts -- not just cardboard cut-out
"Good" and "Bad" guys that you'll find in a typical Disney product.
(2) Japanese animation will tackle subjects and take on stories you'd
never find being animated in America. Whether it be a movie about
surviving war ("Grave of the Fireflies"), or a horror/sci-fi
romp ("3x3 Eyes"), you'll never find similar genres being made into
animation here in the U.S. The tradition in America has always been
that animation was for the kids. In Japan, animation is just as much
for adults as for children.
(3) The sheer output of titles produced in Japan (though now often
being animated or painted in places like Korea, China, or Thailand),
means that with so many titles being produced, you're sure to find
SOMETHING you'll like. Whether it be beautifully-done feature-length
movies, X-rated horror stories, robot/mecha-fighting shows, a fantastic
sci-fi tale, or a simple romantic love-comedy, chances are, you'll be
able to find something suited to your tastes.
Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli
Often regarded as Japan's Walt Disney, Hayao Miyazaki is Japan's
premiere animator. His films are among the best that Japanese animation
has to offer, and are a must-see. They are quite famous throughout Asia
(both "Princess Mononoke" and "Spirited Away" became the highest-grossing
movies of all time in Japan), and Disney acquired the rights to bring the
Studio Ghibli films to America. When "Princess Mononoke" was released here
in 1999, it made Roger Ebert's "10 Best of the Year" list -- and in 2002
"Spirited Away" not only found itself on over 90 Top Ten lists, but walked
away with the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, beating out "Ice Age", "Spirit",
"Treasure Planet" and "Lilo & Stitch." Walt Disney Home Video has now released
most of the Ghibli titles on video here in the US, including "Nausicaa",
"Laputa: Castle in the Sky", "My Neighbor Totoro", "Kiki's Delivery Service",
"Porco Rosso", "Princess Mononoke", "Pompoko", "Whisper of the Heart",
"Spirited Away", and Miyazaki's latest: "Howl's Moving Castle." Sadly, Disney
decided not to release "Only Yesterday." Perhaps they will re-consider.
Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata (another famous animation director) formed
their own studio in the mid-1980s ("Studio Ghibli"), financed by Tokuma Shoten
(a large Japanese publishing concern). Though Miyazaki worked as an animator
and director for many years, my favorite works of his are those from 1984 on,
once he was on his own with the control to make the movies he wanted to make
(rather than merely being an employee of some large animation firm). I've been
lucky enough to see all but "Only Yesterday" in a cinema, and believe me, there's
nothing like seeing these movies on the big screen.
N A U S I C A A
1984: Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind ("Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa").
This 116-min film is based on Miyazaki's graphic-novel epic of the
same name, and tells the story of civilization living out its
twilight years in the future. With technology lost, a devistated
environment, and wars still raging, Nausicaa is the Princess of the
Valley of Wind -- a gentle and strong warrior, with an empathic
bond to many of the mutated animal species that populate the earth.
The last few liveable areas of land are being swallowed up by the
"Sea of Corruption", and Nausicaa must figure out the mystery of
this Sea, and try to stop warring kingdoms from battling over
the last of Earth's precious remaining resources. A masterpiece.
L A P U T A (Castle in the Sky)
1986: Laputa: Castle in the Sky ("Tenku no Shiro, Laputa").
From the idea of a floating island in the sky (found in
Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels"), Miyazaki creates an
original story that starts with a young girl floating down from
the sky, and falling into the hands of a young orphan boy in a
small mining town. The girl is pursued both by pirates
(who want the levitation stone she has) as well as the military
(who want the secrets of Laputa). This 2-hour-plus movie (124 mins)
takes you on an exciting adventure, and in the end, teaches you
what is really important in life. The movie is gorgeous to look
at (the backgrounds are incredible), and features a wonderful
score by composer Joe Hisaishi.
NOTE: unlike "Princess Mononoke" or "Spirited Away", the English dub for
"Castle in the Sky" isn't that great, and includes a different score.
I highly recommend watching this movie in its original Japanese (with
subtitles and the original score) -- a feature available on the DVD.
T O T O R O
1988: My Neighbor Totoro ("Tonari no Totoro") is more simple and
gentle than Nausicaa or Laputa. Set in Japan, it celebrates
the joys and wonderment of being a child. Two young girls
(Satsuki and Mei) go to live in the countryside with their
father while their mother recuperates in a hospital. While wandering
through the nearby forest, they meet Totoro, a tree spirit,
as well as many other spirits that only children can see
(such as the wonderful "Cat-Bus"). Children will absolutely love
this movie, and the art will captivate any adult.
NOTE: The most famous of Miyazaki's movies, it's loved around the world.
The new (2006) Walt Disney home video release of Totoro is much better than
the old Fox Video release from a few years ago (the 2-disc Disney set is
letterboxed, bilingual, contians multiple subtitles, and has much better
video and audio quality) -- though for what it's worth, I actually liked
the English voice cast on the old Fox release over the new Disney one.
K I K I
1989: Kiki's Delivery Service ("Majo no Takkyubin"). Another
wonderful story that both kids and adults will enjoy. Taking
place in a mythical town (with a European look), Kiki the witch
has just turned 13. As is the tradition, she must leave home,
find a town where no other witch lives, and learn to live on
her own. However, Kiki has no real skills other than being able
to fly a broom. It's the story of learning to be on your own in
the big city, with all its ups and downs. A wonderfully-made
film, the story was actually not Miyazaki's, but based on a
Japanese children's book by Eiko Kadono. (A little trivia:
"Takkyubin" is a copyrighted servicemark of Yamato Transport,
Japan's equivalent of UPS or FedEx, and is a type of
express-shipping service they offer).
O N L Y Y E S T E R D A Y
1991: Only Yesterday ("Omohide Poroporo"/Teardrops of Memories)
was directed by Miyazaki's partner, Isao Takahata, and follows
a Tokyo office-worker in her late 20s, as she goes to the
Japanese countryside for her vacation. Still single, and unsure
of where her life is going, she finds comfort and enjoyment in
the hard work of country life. Along the way, she discovers her
childhood self following her (literally), as she begins to
remember random flashbacks of growing up -- the first time she
tasted a pineapple, her debut in the school play, and the first
time a boy said he liked her. A wonderfully moving film; one that
could have easily been made as live-action, though animation
lends itself beautifully to the story. Sadly, this is the only
major Ghibli title that Disney will not be releasing in the U.S.,
even though it was recently shown (subtitled) on Turner Classic
Movies in the US.
P O R C O R O S S O
1992: Porco Rosso ("Kurenai no Buta"/Crimson Pig). Miyazaki
described this movie as a very personal one to him. Set in Italy
during the late 1920s, it's the story of a famous pig -- a valiant
pilot who would rather live a solitary life as a bounty-hunter
or hero-in-need than embrace the coming facism. Once human but
now a pig, Porco fights for honor and love in the skies.
NOTE: Miyazaki is an aviation/airplane buff, and flying or flight
plays a major part in many of his films.
W H I S P E R O F T H E H E A R T
1995: Whisper of the Heart ("Mimi wo Sumaseba"/If You Listen Closely)
Produced by Miyazaki, but directed by Yoshifumi Kondo, the story is based
on a shojo (young girls) comic of the same name, and is different than
most Studio Ghibli fare. Shizuku -- a high school girl, is intrigued
as she notices that every book she checks out of the library has
already been read by some boy named "Seiji." She later meets him,
discovers that he wants to become a violin maker, and gets upset at
herself for not knowing what she wants to do with her life. So, she
begins to write stories, and as the two become friends they start
falling in love. While the movie isn't quite as good as other
Studio Ghibli works, it's still entertaining to watch, and contains
the most accurately animated violin playing I've ever seen. :)
P R I N C E S S M O N O N O K E
1997: Princess Mononoke ("Mononoke Hime"), Japan's top-grossing
movie of all time (until surpassed by "Spirited Away"), is set
during the Muromachi era of Japan (15th century). Ashitaka,
a prince infected by a demon, leaves his village forever to
wander in search of a cure. Along the way, he meets San,
(a fierce girl warrior who lives with wolves, hating all
humans), and Lady Eboshi (San's arch-enemy), a woman who
cares for, and gives work to lepers and the sick, though by
doing so, wrecks the forest where the wolves and other
spirits live. 2hrs 13mins long, Mononoke Hime is a
thought-provoking film made for adults (though acceptable
for children). Filled with Japanese myth, beautiful
animation, and hard questions, you'll be thinking about
this movie long after you finish viewing it. Released
theatrically in English in the U.S. by Miramax/Disney in
October 1999, it's now available on VHS and DVD. As English
dubs go, this is one of the best.
NOTE: Roger Ebert selected Princess Mononoke as one of his
10 Best Films of the Year.
S P I R I T E D A W A Y
Academy Award Winner
2001: Spirited Away ("Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi"), Japan's
highest-grossing movie of all time and Miyazaki's latest, is an
absolute delight to watch. While moving to a new town, Chihiro
(a sulky 10yr-old girl) and her parents stop at what they think
is a deserted amusement park, but what is actually a bath-house
for the gods. Her greedy parents are turned into pigs, and Chihiro
must work for the sorceress Yubaba (owner of the bath-house), who
steals Chihiro's name and changes it to "Sen." Surrounded by strange
and magical gods who come to relax at the bath-house, Sen buckles down
and works hard, as only a few others at the bath-house (including the
mysterious Haku, who somehow knows her real name) cares what happens to
her. With no super powers or magic, Sen must rely on herself, using
determination and hard work in order to survive and perhaps save her
parents (a theme Miyazaki specifically wished to convey). The movie is
gorgeous to look at, with another wonderful score by Joe Hisaishi -- and
its 2hr 5min length seems to go by in a flash. Released in the US in 2002,
"Spirited Away" made it onto over 90 Top Ten lists and won the Golden Bear
award at the Berlin International Film Festival before winning the 2002
Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. It has been dubbed into English by
Disney (one of the few decent English dubs), and is now available on VHS
and DVD. Don't miss it -- this is a wonderful film for everyone.
TELEVISION ANIMATIONClassic Shows (1980s-1990s)
Kimagure Orange Road
Kimagure Orange Road ("Whimsical Orange Road") is a Japanese animated
TV show from 1987-1988. Based on the comic of the same name by
Izumi Matsumoto, it became an instant classic with me, and has
remained my favorite animated TV show, even after all these years.
The story is simple enough: High School Boy moves to new town. Boy falls
in love with Girl #1. Except Girl #2 likes Boy. And Girl #1 and Girl #2
are best friends. And Boy is too wishy-washy to make up his mind. Oh, and
did I mention that Boy comes from a family with psychic abilities (causing
lots of problems), has two twin sisters (one responsible, one a ditz),
a rival at school who loves Girl #2 -- and can beat Boy up, lecherous
classmates, cousins, and grandpa who are always getting him into trouble,
and a cat that's always trying to escape?
Yes, Kimagure Orange Road ("KOR") is a wonderful little love-triangle
comedy that's guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Everything about
the show (the writing, voice acting, animation, music -- everything)
gels perfectly, and is top-notch. KOR has a relaxed feel to it -- there
may be plenty of hijinks going on, but everything is in good fun, and
celebrating youth. "Being Youthful" is, in fact, the show's catch-phrase,
and the feel of the show is pure Summer. The opening theme song of the
first season says it all: "Take Me to Summer Side..."
Like a lazy summer afternoon, Kimagure Orange Road is a place to relax
and enjoy your youth -- with always some funny hijinks going on.
No matter what kind of mood you're in when you start watching KOR,
by the time you're done, you'll have a smile on your face.
KOR has been broadcast on TV in many countries, from Taiwan to
France ("Max et Compagnie") to Sweden ("Superfamiljen"), though
it never made it to the U.S. until recently. A company called
AnimEigo came out with the entire 48-episode TV series subtitled
in English on VHS and LaserDisc, and re-released it on DVD in 2002
(see LINKS below for a link to their site). The show is a gem --
don't let it pass you by!
NOTE: Also available from AnimEigo are the 8 KOR specials (OAVs), and
original KOR movie "Ano Hi ni Kaeritai" ("I Want To Return To That Day").
The 2nd movie: "Shin Kimgaure Orange Road" ("New Whimsical Orange Road"),
is available on VHS and DVD from A.D. Vision.
Shin Kimagure Orange Road Movie ("New Kimagure Orange Road")
The "Orange Road" universe a few years later, after all the characters have graudated from
high school and have begun growing up. I won't write anything on the story, except to say that
this 2nd KOR movie ("New Kimagure Orange Road") has all the fun, style, and charm of the
original TV series -- and was a wonderful way to end everything as we watch our favorite
characters look to their futures. Easily available on VHS/DVD in the US from a company called
"A.D. Vision" (http://www.advfilms.com), this is one of those rare film sequels that is
as good as the original TV series.
Hime-chan no Ribbon
"Hime-chan no Ribbon" ("Hime-chan's Ribbon") is a shojo (for
young girls) animated TV show that aired from 1992-1993. What sets
THIS show apart from the thousands of other shojo, made-to-sell-toys
shows, is that "Hime-chan no Ribbon" is actually a really great show!
Even today, there's still a huge fan following for the show, and
I count myself as one of those fans.
Himeko Nonohara ("Hime-chan") is a 13-14 year old tomboy who other kids
often mistake for a boy. She's athletic, energetic, and would rather
slide in the mud in a baseball game than be in a cooking class. Though
she enjoys being a tomboy, to herself, she admits she wishes she was
more gentle and lady-like, the way her older sister Aiko is.
Erika (Princess of the Magic World, and an an exact twin for Hime-chan,
except with long hair), visits the Human World, and offers Hime-chan
a magic ribbon she's invented for one year, in exchange for being able
to watch Hime-chan and gauge the usefulness of the ribbon. The large,
red ribbon will let the person wearing it transform into anybody for
one hour. Also, the magic turns Hime-chan's favorite stuffed animal
("Pokota", a stuffed lion that she's had since she was born), into
a living, talking friend. Later on in the show, Hime-chan gets more
magic items from Erika, including a palette that lets her split in
two (though her "twin" has almost the opposite characteristics as the
real Hime-chan does), stop time, and change size.
Hime-chan sees Daichi Kobayashi (the cool, "trouble-maker" boy at school
that all the girls have a crush on) hanging around a deserted house, and
when she approaches him, Daichi thinks she's a boy. A swift "Hime-kick"
later, and Daichi doesn't make that mistake again, though he can't stop
laughing when he hears the tomboy's name is "Himeko" ("Little Princess").
At first, Hime-chan thinks Daichi is mean, but as time goes by, the two
develop a close friendship. Daichi is the only other human to know
Hime-chan's secret (of the magic she was lent for a year), and Hime-chan
knows Daichi's secret (the deserted old house, that Daichi has made into
There are plenty of other characters: Hikaru Hibino (Hime-chan's
arch-rival, because SHE thinks Daichi is in love with HER), Hime-chan's
two best friends (I-chan and Manami), the stiff teacher (Mr. Gori),
Sei Arisaka (a boy from the Magic World who is banished to the Human
World), Hasekura (the older student Hime-chan originally has a crush
on), Daichi's parents (both police officers), Daichi's younger brother
(who has a crush on Hime-chan's younger sister Yumeko), Hime-chan's
family: the mother (a writer who's always yelling about deadlines, and
gets plot ideas from the happenings around her), the father (a movie
director and gentle father, often willing to spend more time with his
family than his family is willing to spend with him), older-sister Aiko
(the "perfect" girl in every sense -- kind, beautiful, and lady-like),
younger-sister Yumeko (nosy, always snooping around), and many, many
more -- each with well-defined personality traits that make this show
so fun to watch.
"Hime-chan no Ribbon" lasted for 61 episodes, and is an extremely
funny and well-written show. Most appealing about it is the fact that
each character on the show has his/her own personality fully developed.
You know each character's desires and little idiosyncracies, their
psyche and their quirks -- something you don't find too often in TV
AVAILABILITY: Though the show has many adult fans, because the original
demographics of "Hime-chan" was for younger girls, it was almost impossible
to find on video for many years. In the 1990s there was a special pre-order,
two-part LaserDisc box set (yes, I have this set), though the set was poorly
pressed, and most have rotted over time. However, in 2005-2006, the entire
show was finally released on DVD in Japan (in 3 box sets). It's Japanese only,
but these Region 2 DVD sets can be ordered from places such as Amazon Japan.
There were also two fan-subtitling organizations that released the show with
English subtitles in the 1990s: Arctic Animation in Vancouver, and Tomodachi
Animation in Oregon (Tomodachi did a fantastic job). Both groups have now
disbanded, though you might still be able to find someone with VHS copies of
the subtitled episodes.
NOTE FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE THE OLD LASERDISC SETS: The original two-part
Hime-chan LaserDisc Box Set was pressed poorly, and almost all original sets
have rotted over time. Many years back I contacted Mitsubishi Plastics in
Japan (the actual presser of the discs) about it, and because of the defects,
they re-pressed all the discs. At the time, if you sent them your old sets,
they would send you replacements for free. I tried to get the word out about
this back then, though at this point with LaserDiscs no longer being made, your
best bet is probably to just pick up the new DVD box sets. However I know that
at least a few people (including myself) have the replacement LaserDisc sets,
and they're still in great shape, even today.
TELEVISION ANIMATIONNewer Shows (2000-2006)
R.O.D. The TV [Read Or Die: The TV]
Nenene Sumiregawa is a writer, but she's had writer's block ever since her book-crazy friend
Yomiko vanished five years ago. While on a tour of Hong Kong, she meets Michelle, Maggie, and
Anita -- three sisters who, like her missing friend Yomiko, have the ability to magically "use"
paper for everything from weapons to clothes. Because of threats, Nenene's editor asks the sisters
to become Nenene's bodyguards (much to her annoyance) -- Michelle (the oldest) is ditzy and bubbly,
Maggie is tall, quiet, and prefers to sleep in tiny cramped spaces, and Anita (the youngest) is a
spunky, direct 13yr-old who couldn't care less that Nenene is a famous author. "Paper users" are
also extreme book fans (to them, the only thing important in life is being able to read)... but for
some reason young Anita can't stand books, having a distant memory of something terrifying happening
to her around books while she was a child. For a while, the sisters stay with Nenene in Japan, guarding
her part-time between taking assignments for the Chinese Intelligence while Nenene continues to search
for her missing friend. But soon a search for some very powerful books by competing Chinese and British
agents drag the sisters (and Nenene) into chaos -- and into a conspiracy of global proportions.
I realize this review doesn't tell you much... but I've done this on purpose, for "R.O.D. The TV"
is, hands-down, the best anime series I've seen in years, and deserves to be viewed fresh. If I were
to give more of the story away (with all its surprises, twists and turns), it wouldn't be half as
much fun for you to watch. Needless to say, there's enough story and action to keep you coming back
for more -- but the show also shines in its humor, drama, and wonderful character development.
"R.O.D. The TV" is one of the most satifying animes I've ever seen. The story is inventive, the
characters are great, there are a ton of in-jokes (the sisters' names are an homage to Hong Kong female
action stars, the name "Yomiko" means "Little Reader"), the animation and art are top-notch, the pacing
between action and reflection is absolutely perfect, the Japanese voice acting is supurb, and the music
(featuring a real orchestra and jazz combo) is among the best I've heard in an anime. 26 episodes long
(originally broadcast in Japan during 2003-2004), the show is being released on DVD in the US by Geneon --
and I can't recommend it highly enough. While the English dub included on the DVD isn't as bad as others
I've heard, it still can't compare to the original Japanese. Watch this show in Japanese with English
subitltes (an option on the DVD). Trust me on this. It gets pretty dramatic as the story progresses, and
the Japanese voice cast is incredible.
Interesting sidenote: the background music in episode #8 was changed for the DVD release (in both the US
and Japan) from what was used when the episode was actually shown on Japanese TV. If you ever have a
chance to view the original broadcast version anywhere, there's a beautiful three-minute music cue with
solo oboe and strings in the middle of this episode (when Anita and Junior are lying out under the stars
talking) that is absolutely gorgeous. Perhaps the rights were not secured, but the music was never used
again in any other episode, nor can it be found on the CD soundtrack. On the US & Japanese DVD releases,
another music cue was substituted for this scene instead.
Note that before "R.O.D. The TV", there was a 3-part "OAV" (direct-to-video) release, set in the same
general universe, called simply "Read or Die" (or "Read or Die OAV") -- also available in the US from
Geneon. The OAV features the Yomiko Readman character (Nenene's missing friend in the TV series), and
takes place five years prior to the TV show... but I recommend that you watch the TV series first, as
the OAV isn't nearly as interesting, and the OAV's story gets covered and summarized in episode #14
of the TV series anyway. "R.O.D. The TV" will give you one fun ride -- and it's as enjoyable to watch
the second and third times around as it is the first. If you check out only one TV anime, let this show
be the one -- and watch it through to the end, for it just gets better and better.
Karin's a vampire. Well, not quite. You see, she has a terribly embarassing secret she doesn't want anyone to
know. Karin's family are vampires whose ancestors fled persecution in Europe two hundred years ago to settle
in Japan. Like other vampires of today, they live a peaceful life in secret, quietly taking a little blood
from humans only when necessary. However Karin's not like the rest of her family -- she's a complete failure
as a vampire, for instead of being a vampire who sucks blood, she instead is a vampire who gives blood! Not
only that, but she's a freak among vampires, for she goes to high school, is hardworking, sleeps at night,
loves the daylight -- and hates the dark! Shamefully, other than her blood increasing, she's just like a human!
But Karin's body produces blood, and every so often she'll either need to find someone to bite and give blood
to, or she'll wind up having a terrible nose bleed. Biting someone is actually a good thing, for it gives that
person renewed energy for a short time... but Karin's such a vampire reject that she can't even erase someone's
memory! (Her family being vampires must be kept secret -- not even her best friend Maki knows).
Until recently, Karin would need to get rid of her blood about once a month -- but then a transfer student named
Kenta Usui comes to her school, and now anytime she gets near him, her blood overflows! She tries her hardest to
avoid him (driving Kenta nuts, as he can't understand why this girl is always running from him), but it's useless:
not only are they in the same class, but they also wind up at the same part-time job. If it goes on like this, her
normal, peaceful school life won't be able to continue! (Meanwhile, having seen Karin secretly bite a middle-aged
man in the park, Kenta thinks Karin's into teenage prostitution!) But Karin's younger sister realizes that Karin
will soon be alone in the "world of daylight" (as the family can't protect her during the day), and lets Kenta find
out their secret. Thankfully for Karin, Kenta is an upstanding guy who keeps the secret -- though the one thing Karin
doesn't tell him is that the reason her blood increases when they get close is because it reacts to unhappiness. Kenta's
family is poor, and he often comes to school without food or lunch money... so Karin suddenly decides that in order to
stop Kenta from being unhappy (and thus stop her blood from increasing), she'll start making lunches for him everyday.
And so you have the makings of one of the funniest comedies I've seen in a long time. Karin must keep the fact
that she's a vampire secret, yet she's also a total failure as a vampire. Her blood increases when she's around
Kenta, yet she's around him all the time -- and soon starts falling in love with him. Karin's parents are both
strange (though absolutely hilarious to watch), her older brother is a scary lech, and her younger sister a vampire
prodigy who walks around with a talking, knife-wielding doll. Then to make matters worse, an over-the-top boy
named Winner Sinclair transfers to her class, coming from a long line of vampire hunters. He has sworn to hunt down
and kill all vampires -- except he immediately falls head over heels for Karin, and vows to protect her from any
vampire that might be hiding in town. He only has eyes for Karin, but doesn't have a clue she's a vampire (or that
Karin's best friend Maki is in love with him).
This is one funny show that's extremely well-made all around. The episodes and situations are hilarious, the characters
endearing, the voice actors great, and the animation (produced by JC Staff) top-notch. 24 episodes long, the show
aired on Japan's WOWOW satellite TV channel from November 2005 to May 2006. The show was finally released on DVD
from Geneon shortly before they left the US anime market, but can still easily be found (as of May 2010, Amazon is
selling the complete DVD set for $33.49). The so-so English dub voices were recorded in Singapore -- but just ditch
the English dub altogether and watch the show in its original Japanese (with English subtitles), an option on the
DVD. This show is definitely worth a look -- it's absolutely hilarious, and ranks among my all-time favorite shows.
Ginban Kaleidoscope NEW!
16yr-old Tazusa Sakurano thinks of herself as the "10 Billion Dollar Girl." A contender for the 2006 Torino Olympics
in figure skating, she's loud, abrasive, and anything but gentle or demure. Lately though, she's been having problems
during her routines, falling down during competitions and preliminary trials. With only one spot open for the Japanese
Olympic figure skating team, she may not be able to qualify for Torino. Then after falling on the ice in a competition,
she begins to hear a strange voice in her head -- and before she knows it, she's being haunted by a 16yr-old Canadian
ghost named Pete Pamps, who recently died in an aerial acrobatics show.
Pete tells Tazusa that heaven wasn't ready for him yet, and he must co-occupy her body for 100 days. Tazusa is incensed,
and tries everything she can to get rid of him -- but nothing works. If she bangs her head, Pete will feel pain.. but so
will Tazusa. Meanwhile, everywhere she goes people think she's nuts, because she winds up talking to thin air (no one
else can see or hear Pete). What's worse, everything that Tazusa sees, Pete sees -- so she must wear a blindfold when
getting dressed or taking a bath (for a while, she even refuses to go to the bathroom). Soon though, she finds a secret
weapon: tomatoes. Pete can't stand them, and anytime she wants to "punish" the "Canadian parasite", she eats a mouthful.
But Pete is a down-to-earth guy (er... ghost) who somehow puts up with the quick-to-temper Tazusa... and as someone who
has no control over the situation, he tries to get along as best he can. The fact that Pete used to be a performer himself
(in aerial acrobatics) means he knows what it's like to compete with enormous pressure on you, and he constantly helps
Tazusa with ideas and motivation whenever he can. In time Tazusa slowly realizes she's beginning to get used to Pete -- but
the Olympics are just around the corner, and Pete's days with her are numbered.
Airing in the last half of 2005, Ginban ("Ice Rink") Kaleidoscope quickly became one of my favorite shows. The situations
are hilarious, the episodes well-written, the characters great, and the voice actors match the characters perfectly. The
animation quality isn't quite as good as on other shows, but one doesn't even care... the viewer immediately gets taken
into Tazusa's world of ice skating, rivals, Olympics, and annoying Canadian ghosts. This 12-episode comedy currently hasn't
yet been licensed in the US, but I hope in time it will be, for it was one of my favorite shows of 2005.
Hideki, an 18yr-old farmboy from Hokkaido, leaves the farm and moves
to Tokyo in order to attend a cram school when he fails to get into
college. He is awed by Tokyo life -- especially the number of "Persocons"
walking around. Persocons are the latest in technology: life-size, life-like
assistants (androids) that can do everything for their owners from handling
email and surfing the web to working a cash register. Though they have
personalities, learning capability, and look human (except for their ears),
they're still just computers running on software.
Hideki (ever the poor student) can't afford one -- but one night while walking
home he finds a discarded Persocon left in the garbage. Not noticing the disk on
the ground, he carries the Persocon back to his rooming house without the software,
and turns her on -- but without her software, she does nothing but say the word
"Chii". Though Hideki doesn't know the first thing about technology, a fellow
student tries to help, but all attempts to examine her data and operating system
fail, and any other Persocon hooked up to her instantly crashes.
It soon becomes apparent that while she has no personality software installed,
she does understand a little of what's being said, and her learning ability seems
to be functioning. Almost immediately she begins mimicing people around her like
a small child, and Hideki soon names her "Chii" (after the only word she can say).
In time, Chii begins to "learn" and develop as a "person", speaking her first
words, taking her first shopping trip, and even landing a part-time job.
Through it all though, Chii's origins are a mystery, and one of Hideki's friends
wonders if she might be a "Chobits" -- a legendary Persocon rumored to be so
advanced that it has its own free will. But Chii is innocent and sweet, and seems
happy just to spend all her time with Hideki.
Then on her first trip to a bookstore, Chii sees a picture-book ("A Town
With No People") which Hideki buys for her. The story (of someone searching for
a "person just for me" -- except there isn't anyone to be found, because they're all
with "those things") resonates with Chii, and she thinks about the book constantly.
As Chii's fondness for Hideki grows, she remembers the story -- which says that
when the one special "person just for me" is discovered, it'll be time to part
from that person forever.
There are a lot of anime shows that deal with life-like female androids, and most
are of the "Hand-Maid May" variety: mildy harmless fun about lucky college guys
with female robots just waiting to serve them. Chobits has a little of this (there
are more than enough hijinks and sexual gags) -- but Chobits is much deeper and far
more satisfying. Yes, Hideki is constantly having lewd daydreams about every female
around him, but this is only part of the show. Issues such as whether or not it's
right for society to have Persocons are addressed, as well as the jealousy humans
can have towards them, and the constant reminders that they're not "real". More than
anything else though, Chobits is about becoming a person and searching for that one
special other who might be out there for you. With each episode Chii grows a little
more, and it's a wonderful journey to take with her (with lots of fun along the way).
Chobits was a 26-episode TV series which aired on Japan's TBS Network from April to
September 2002, and was based on the manga (comic) of the same name by CLAMP. The
show has now been released on DVD in the US by Geneon/Pioneer. I was surprised at how
much I enjoyed this series (for I normally wouldn't give this type of show more than
a cursory glance), but it was very well-done (with some great ending songs too).
Floating in the clouds... Then falling, falling... A crow tries to help, but... A dream?
Waking up inside a cocoon... breaking out... A girl now in a place she doesn't know,
with no memory of who she used to be -- and everyone around her has halos and wings.
Where is she? What is she? Thus begins Haibane Renmei ("Ash-Wing Alliance"), a wonderful
13-episode TV series from Yoshitoshi Abe.
No one knows exactly what a Haibane is, but when one is born, they have no memory of the person
they once were, nor do others remember them. There are normal people in town as well, but the
Haibane (with their wings and halos) aren't allowed to leave the city's walls until their final
"Day of Passing," when a Haibane disappears forever. Tradition dictates that a new Haibane be named
after the dream they had in the cocoon, so the new girl is given the name "Rakka" ("to fall") by the
other Haibane living at the "Old Home" (a large building on the outskirts of town, where Rakka's
cocoon grew). Soon after Rakka is given a halo her wings begin to appear, and a slightly older
Haibane named Reki decides to look after her.
The first few weeks for Rakka are slow and uneventful as she spends time getting used to her new
surroundings and making friends.. but there are mysterious signs all around: the crows seem to be
calling to her, and one day her wings start turning black (the color of sin). Reki tells Rakka that
Haibane born with black wings cannot fully remember their dream, and will never be blessed or able
to leave the city on their "Day of Passing." But why Rakka? How can she hope to atone for a sin she
can't even remember? And as Reki tries to cover-up Rakka's newly-blackened wings with medicine,
Rakka wonders how Reki knows so much...
"Haibane Renmei" is a beautiful series to watch: the animation, backgrounds, character designs, and
music are very well done, and it has a rich, full look. While the first few episodes are slower-paced
(as we're introduced to Rakka's new world), the story becomes serious by the half-way point, and it's
a show definitely worth seeing. This 13-episode series aired in Japan in 2002, and has been released
in the US by Pioneer/Geneon.
The setting is an alternate 1969, when Japan is looking forward to a bright future -- but throughout the
world strange "invaders" are trying to take over the Earth. A secret organization called AEGIS is formed
to fight them, recruiting "Gatekeepers" (people who are able to summon various "gates" of power -- wind,
fire, life, illusion, etc.) to use against them. After witnessing an invader attack, high school student
Shun Ukiya not only meets a girl who can heal people with a Gate of Life, but soon realizes that he himself
has Gate ability. Before long, he's moving to a new school (over AEGIS' secret base), fighting invaders,
and helping to find other teenagers with similar abilities. What makes this show so much fun to watch
though, are its characters:
When the girl (Ruriko) hears Shun's name, she can't believe it, for they both knew each other years ago
in kindergarten. Ruriko (who had a crush on Shun back then) has since worked hard to become the model
student that everyone admires -- but to Shun, she's still just "runny-nosed Rurippe", pissing Ruriko
off to no end whenever he calls her that unflattering old nickname. Neither can admit that they actually
like each other.
Reiko: a nice but extremely dumb, ditzy girl who creates illusions by playing a "Bewitching Melody"
on the piano. Problem is, she usually misplaces her music, or has no clue as to what's going on.
Kaoru: spunky and full of energy, she's able to do incredible athletic feats. At first she resists
joining AEGIS, hating her abilities for depriving her of her love of sports (as because of them,
she's always disqualified from events)... but when Shun praises her after her help, she develops
a crush on him and decides to join.
Yukino: a mysterious girl who is very old. She can open a Gate of Ice, appear and disappear, and
speaks in ancient Japanese.
Bancho: a nice, blustery super-macho guy with a slurred "Yakuza"-like way of speaking, he was a
possible candidate for being a Gatekeeper -- but since he can't seem to show any Gate ability,
everyone except Shun assumes he's just a normal guy. Still, he joins AEGIS under special arrangement,
and goes around pretending he has Gate ability while spouting off anything macho that comes to mind.
Kurogane: smart, quiet, and extremely jealous of Ruriko, whom she sees as a rich and stuck up rival
that she's always coming in second to.
Fei-chan: the youngest of the group (age 12) from China, and just about the only one with common sense.
Besides the Gatekeepers themselves, there are plenty more great supporting characters, from Shun's sassy
younger sister Saemi, to the AEGIS Commander (who is hilariously over-the-top serious).
What makes Gatekeepers work so well is the care and talent with which the show was made -- for what could
easily have been just another formulaic series is instead one filled with style, panache, and enthusiasm
rarely seen today. The direction and timing are impeccable, the camera shots are zippy, the acting is
wonderfully over-the-top, the musical score soars triumphantly, the characters are loads of fun, and there
are plenty of fast cars and nifty gadgets to help the action along. The 1969 setting gives the series a nice
nostalgic feel, and alongside the drama, the show also has a great sense of humor (the Gatekeepers' secret
"Emergency Call Signal" is a baby's song about soap suds!)
24 episodes long, "Gatekeepers" was originally shown on WOWOW (a satellite pay TV channel in Japan),
and is now available on DVD in the US from Geneon. The show's production is absolutely first-rate all
the way around, from the supurb animation by Studio GONZO to the energetic voice acting and music (with
a great score by Kouhei Tanaka that actually uses a real studio orchestra -- quite a rarity these days).
Even the team that translated and subtitled the show for its US release did a fantastic job, especially
as the show should (and can) be viewed in its original Japanese with English subtitles.
Gatekeepers isn't "War and Peace." There's nothing profound or philosophical in the show -- but if
you have any of your younger self left in you, you'll absolutely love it, as you sit back and allow
yourself to become a kid again. This is a show as fun to watch on repeat viewings as it was the very
After the original "Gatekeepers" aired on TV, a 6-episode direct-to-video story called "Gatekeepers 21"
was produced. Not exactly a sequel, the story takes place 32 years later in 2001, and centers around
a high school girl named Ayane. Able to make both real and "false" Gates (by using celphones), Ayane
is a loner who keeps to herself, hating the people, noise, pollution, and annoyances of the city. Always
using a celphone or laptop, she's avoided by her classmates, and finds their idle chit-chat contemptable.
Still, she continues the fight against the invaders (who are now different than before -- I won't give
the secret away), and when she discovers that a classmate named Miu also has Gate ability, Ayane is asked
to train her. The energetic, optomistic feel of the original series has been replaced with a darker, more
somber atmosphere, as Ayane is definitely a girl wrestling with personal problems. As well, corruption and
greed are now running rampant in Japan, only making the invader situation worse.
Though "Gatekeepers 21" is very different in tone and style from the original, I was surprised at how
much I enjoyed it. The characters are strong and well-played, and standing completely on its own, it's
a very good piece of storytelling -- as good as the original. The six-episode story has been released
in the US by Geneon on two DVDs, and is definitely worth watching after the series.
Saikano (Saishu Heiki Kanojo / She, the Ultimate Weapon)
Chise is a weak, clumsy high school girl who is always apologizing to others. One of her
goals is to become a stronger person, so on a dare from a friend she asks a classmate named
Shuuji out on a date. Surprisingly he accepts, and the two start going out.
Though life has been peaceful in their Hokkaido town, war is raging elsewhere in Japan and
throughout the world. Suddenly the enemy attacks Sapporo, and as Shuuji watches the city being
destroyed, he notices something in the sky. After recovering from a shockwave, he sees a lone
figure coming towards him: it's his girlfriend Chise, with weapons protruding from her body --
she's allowed herself to be taken one night and turned into the Ultimate Weapon.
Other than the military, Shuuji is the only one who knows what Chise really is, and with his
girlfriend now a weapon of incredible destructive power, the two must struggle to test just how
strong their love for each other is. Chise is constantly being called upon to kill the enemy,
and with each passing battle she becomes more powerful and matter-of-fact about what she does
(casually saying how she kills the enemy quickly because they're so young). After a while it's
nothing for her to destory an entire city, and even the Japanese soldiers soon begin to fear her
(calling her the angel of death), for when she engages the enemy, everyone around her is killed.
But Chise is struggling as well: having been turned into a weapon, she cannot stop her attacks
when a threat is sensed, and is in constant fear of harming Shuuji. As her body keeps evolving,
life becomes a living hell for her, as it becomes harder and harder to cling to what's left of
her humanity. Through it all, the two try their hardest to love in spite of everything.. but
the Earth is headed for extinction, and even as Chise becomes virtually invincible, she can't
protect -- she can only kill.
One of the darkest, saddest, most bittersweet anime series I've ever seen, Saikano will make an
impact on anyone who watches it. The show is not a stylized anime like "Akira".. it's sad,
touching, and very emotional. It takes absolutely no easy outs, and at times can be very
difficult to watch, especially as things begin to happen to the characters you've come to care
about. But it's not a war story: instead, the show is about the relationship between Chise and
Shuuji, examining the themes of life, love, and being human. After watching the final episode,
I couldn't stop thinking about it for a long time.
The 13-episode TV series was broadcast in Japan in 2002, and is based on the manga (comic) of the
same name by Shin Takahashi. It's being released now in the US by Viz Video, but if your DVD player
can play Japanese (Region 2) discs, another option is the Japanese DVDs, which actually include
English subtitles (though they will be more expensive).
Chikyu Shojo Arjuna ("Earth Maiden Arjuna")
"One hot summer day, I died. And I saw it... this planet's dying future..."
Juna Arioshi is just your typical high school girl... but one day while out on a date with her boyfriend
Tokio, she dies in a motorcycle "accident" caused by a strange flash of light. Floating above her body
in the hospital, she meets a boy named Chris, who tells her "I've finally found you.. the person who will
save this planet from its deathbed!" Chris says he will give her a second life if she'll fight and defend
the Earth from strange "worm monsters" called "Rajahs", and shows Juna images of the Earth's destruction
in her mind. Though scared and confused, the thought of never seeing her mother and Tokio again make her
agree, and as she wakes up she quickly runs to a waiting helicopter. Inside, Chris hands Juna a small
jade-like object that glows and fuses itself to her forehead, as Juna's life changes forever...
The Rajas are appearing frequently now (generally hidden from most humans' eyes), causing destruction
in their wake. Juna quickly becomes adept at fighting them, but each time she tries to kill one, Chris
asks "Why do you kill?!" Confused, Juna replies that she's supposed to fight them, but Chris answers
"You don't understand!" As it turns out, the Rajahs aren't alien, they're from the Earth itself -- a
reaction to how man has trashed this planet. Chris wants Juna to purify the Rajahs without killing them,
but Juna just doesn't understand -- she's still clinging to her old ways, totally isolated from the Earth
as any normal teenager is in this day and age. But Juna is no longer a normal teenager, and her abilities
begin to show her nightmarish visions about normal everyday items around her (holding a hamburger makes
her see everything from the assembly-line slaughter of the cows to the chemicals used to process the food,
as well as all the bacteria that has seeped into it). Little by little, she has no choice but to become
concerned for the Earth, as her friends have no idea what's going on and think she's slipping away.
Meanwhile, things only get worse.
"Chikyu Shojo Arjuna" ("Earth Maiden Arjuna") is an extremely well-done, powerful tale that will leave a
lasting impression on anyone who sees it. It is not a silly "Captain Planet"-style program, but a serious
examination on how mankind has chosen to live. The show is absolutely unflinching in its presentation of
example after example of what we have done wrong with this world, and it forces us to take another look at
how we live our own lives. As Juna awakens to the world around her, the show examines subjects ranging from
the role insects play to the beauty of mathmatical equations. Though the entire production from story
to soundtrack is top-notch (with a wonderful score by Yoko Kanno), the animation (produced by Sapporo-based
Satelite) deserves special mention for its success in seemlessly mixing traditional animation style with CGI.
13 episodes long (including an episode not shown on Japanese TV), Earth Maiden Arjuna aired in Japan in 2001,
and has now been released on 4 DVDs in the US by Bandai (titled simply "Arjuna"). From the DVD's packaging, it
looks like something I'd normally pick up and set back down -- but don't let the cheesy packaging fool you.
This is a show worth seeing, and you'll be thinking about it long afterwards.
NOTE: Arjuna should be viewed in the original Japanese with English subtitles (an option on the DVD).
Trust me, it makes a huge difference. The English dub can't come close to the original.
Narue no Sekai (The World of Narue)
Narue Nanase is fourteen, and has never had a friend in her life. Part of the reason is that she's an
alien (half alien, actually), and has thus tended to keep to herself, enduring the ridicule from her
fellow classmates who tease her about being an alien. Kazuto Iizuka is a quiet, normal 14yr-old kid who
likes anime and doesn't have a girlfriend. Things change for both of them though, when one rainy day
Kazuto stops to pet a dog -- and Narue comes up and whacks the dog with a bat, telling Kazuto that it's
really a dangerous space creature. Having done her duty, Narue leaves, but Kazuto later returns the bat
to Narue, and asks her out for tea. Narue tells him that she'd be a waste of his time, for she's poor,
uninteresting, and an alien... but Kazuto doesn't seem to mind, and soon the two start going out.
There's not a lot of plot in this series (which is based on the manga by Tomohiro Marukawa), but instead
it's simply a nice gentle high school love comedy. In an interesting switch from other shows, here everyone
knows Narue's an alien, but no one seems to care (except for one girl, Hajime Yagi -- the "Walking X-files"
of the class, who doesn't believe Narue's an alien and tries to prove she's lying). Another nice thing about
the show is that it doesn't fall into cliches... while watching it, I could almost predict where things
would (usually) go wrong as typical anime cliches kick in -- but here they don't.
While the fact that Narue is half-alien is used as a backdrop, the show is really more about Narue and
Kazuto and their adventures with their fellow classmates (their first date, trip to the beach, costume
contest, etc.) But to give you an outline: Narue's dad is an observer from "Planet Nihon" (basically a
mirror of Japan). Narue's only power is her ability to teleport herself by wearing a special headband
that connects to ships orbiting in space. Her mom was human, but died when Narue was a child -- but Narue
soon finds out that she has a younger "older sister" who is 100% alien (from her dad's previous marriage).
There's Hajime (the girl who hates Narue before they start becoming friends), Maruo (Kazuto's best friend
and Hajime's neighbor), Bathyscaphe (a spaceship that can take on human form who looks after Narue's sister),
Haruna (a ditzy spaceship who has fallen in love with the owner of a bath house), and of course Yongo-chan,
an anime character that Kazuto is obsessed with (and thus, Narue has to put up with). Narue herself is an
interesting character too: she's kind, strong, bad with machines -- and incredibly frugal. Though the show
is light-hearted, you can also read into it a reminder of some of the angst children of mixed marriages
in Japan can face (in one episode, Narue finally gets fed up at always being reminded that she's an "alien",
saying that while she doesn't mind being half alien, she's also half human).
"The World of Narue" (shown in Japan in 2003-2004) isn't anything spectacular, but for some reason I like it.
It's just strange enough to be interesting, and some of the episodes are quite funny (the manga is also good,
with many more stories and characters). The anime is now available in the US from Central Park Media, which
decided to release all 12 episodes at once in a box set (with extras) rather than individually. The Engilsh
dub is OK, but it's better to watch it in its original Japanese (with English subtitles). The list price is
$79, but you can find it for much less ($44 currently at www.deepdiscountdvd.com). This show may not be for
die-hard action fans, but it's a simple little romantic comedy, and I like its charm.
Witch Hunter Robin
Living in the world alongside normal humans are witches and craft-users: people with abilities
ranging from being able to read strong emotions off objects people have touched to psychokinesis.
While most people are unaware of their existance, an organization called STN is charged with
keeping tabs on them (as well as anyone who might possibly have dormant witch genes -- as some
people's abilities don't manifest themselves until later in life). But STN's real job is to hunt
down any person who shows any sign of being a witch -- from criminals who use their abilities
to steal or kill, to innocent children who are taken from their parents, never to be seen again.
While STN branches in most countries kill the witches, the Japanese branch of STN takes them
alive, storing them in a place called "The Factory." While many of the hunters are normal humans
(who use a special liquid called "Orbo" to negate the power of a witch), some are craft-users
Robin is a 15yr-old craft-user who can create and control fire at will. Born in Japan, she was
raised in a monistary in Rome, never knowing her true parents. Because she works for STN, she's
classified as a "craft-user" rather than "witch", and joins the Japanese STN office to help hunt
down other witches who commit crimes. Honest, quiet, and smart, Robin works with the STN team
hunting down bad witches with her powerful abilities, but as time goes by she begins to question
if there's really a difference between the witches she's been hunting and herself -- and when she
discovers how strong she really is, she herself becomes a target.
I was surprised at how much I wound up liking this show, for the animation is nothing special,
the character designs are strange, and the first 10 episodes are nothing to get excited about
(self-contained stories where a different witch is hunted each week). But the mood and mythos
of the show grow on you after a while, and beginning with episode 11, a continuous story arc
begins -- which is where things start to get good (the show also features the best opening
song I've heard in an anime, "Shell" by Bana -- get the full version). Dark, gothic, and
character-driven with its own interesting universe, the series turns out to be quite a ride.
Witch Hunter Robin aired in Japan from July to December 2002, and is 26 episodes long. It has now
been released in the US on DVD by Bandai. One interesting sidenote: the English visuals in the show
(on computer screens, signs, titles, etc) are perfect -- a nice change from the typical bad English
often seen in Japanese anime.
Armitage III (Armitage The Third)
Mars 2046. Chicago cop Ross Sylibus has just arrived for his new posting with the Mars PD when he
meets his new partner Naomi Armitage: a tough, young, hotpants-wearing officer with an attitude.
Right off the bat a famous female country-western singer is murdered -- and Ross is shocked when he
discovers she was actually a robot. Up until now robots have been nothing but machines, yet this
murder has revealed the existance of third-generation androids ("Thirds") so advanced that they're
virtually indistinguishable from humans -- not only on the outside, but with full personalities,
emotions, creativity, and self-awareness. Now these Thirds (who have been living as normal humans) are
being murdered one-by-one -- and with less-advanced robots being blamed for everything from recession
to crime, few people care. Ross and Armitage are assigned to the case, but like everyone else, Ross
hates robots (as someone close to him was killed by one). But the real shock comes when Ross discovers
his spunky little partner's secret: she herself is a Third.
After the battle in which Ross finds out her secret, a villian calls Armitage a monster -- and ashamed
of what she really is -- and reflecting on how everyone feels about robots, the usually tough-as-nails
Armitage breaks down into tears. "If humans didn't want us, why did they make us?" she cries, jumping into
the water to drown herself. Ross saves her ("Thank God!"), but Armitage can say only "Thank God for what?!
You couldn't possibly imagine how I feel!" Thus you have the setting for Armitage The Third, a surprisingly
well-done futuristic tale that never forgets what's most important in any story (even a cyberpunk one): the
characters. Though she can kick butt like no human ever could, Armitage is as human as anyone Ross has ever
known... yet her life is nothing but a mystery. Why were the Thirds created? Why are they now being killed?
And then there's another shocker: one of the murdered Thirds... was pregnant.
Though the story appears similar to other works such as "Blade Runner", it borrows settings and ideas without
copying them. Director Hiroyuki Ochi commented: "When I did the planing for Armitage III, I tried to imagine
a girl born as a robot, and what society would look like to her." Yes, there is plenty of action, fighting,
and villains, but what makes this cyberpunk anime stand out so much is that its characters drive the story as
much as the action.
The original Armitage III was released in the mid 1990s as four OVAs (made-for-video animations) in Japan.
A few years later it was sold in the US as a shortened (missing 50 minutes) English-only, all-in-one video
called "Armitage: Poly Matrix." Though you can still purchase this awful, edited "Poly Matrix" version, you
can now also buy the original 4 OVA episodes uncut on one DVD from Pioneer ("Armitage III: OVAs") -- and this
is the version you'll want to watch. In 2002, a new 90min sequel to Armitage was released ("Armitage: Dual Matrix"),
which continues the story six years later. It too is worth watching -- but be sure to see the original OVAs first.
Note: Make sure to watch Armitage in the original Japanese -- not dubbed into English (on the "OVAs" and
"Dual Matrix" DVDs, you can select Japanese with English subtitles). Trust me on this. The English dub job
Other Misc. Animations
Here are some other Japanese animations that are fun to watch:
(TV=TV series, OAV=Direct-to-video series)
"Mama wa Shogakko Yonnensei" ("My Mom's a 4th-Grader"), TV
4th Grade Girl takes care of her future baby, who time-travels back to her in the present.
For kids, but still fun.
"Mirai Shonen Conan" ("Future Boy Conan"), TV (Miyazaki)
"3x3 Eyes" (Great adventure/monster romp), OAV
"Maison Ikkoku", TV
"Miracle Girls", TV
"Chibi Maruko-chan" ("Kid Maruko", like the Simpsons), TV
"Video Girl Ai", OAV
Japanese Animation Links
Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli Links
The absolute best place for EVERYTHING you want to know on
Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki is right here, on the main
page of "nausicaa.net". Click here.
Kimagure Orange Road Links
The "big daddy" of Kimagure Orange Road pages has to be
Rob Kwong's Super KOR Page.
Fred Gallagher maintains a nice KOR page that's definitely
worth a visit. It's here.
Brian Edmonds also has a great KOR Shrine.
In Sweden, KOR was known as "Superfamiljen", and there's a
web page devoted to it (though it's in Swedish). Click here.
Taisuke Itono of Japan maintains a great KOR page
(in English and Japanese) with up-to-date information on
Izumi Matsumoto's latest projects.
AnimEigo is the company that has released the 48-episode KOR TV series
on video (subtitled in English). They also sell the OAVs (specials),
and the first KOR movie.
AD Vision got the rights to sell the most recent KOR movie
("Shin Kimagure Orange Road", or "New Whimsical Orange Road")
Sho-chan's Homepage has some good English information and links
on Hime-chan, as well as other shojo manga and series such as
"Mama wa Shogakko Yonnensei" (Mama's a 4th Grader).
There's a great English/Chinese Hime-chan page here.
Hitoshi Doi has a Hime-chan section on his page.
Here is a web page in Japan which lists many other
(Japanese) Hime-chan related web pages.