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You all already know the drill by now.
Air (Movie) - 6.5
Probably has taken me FAR too long to review this after my last blog, but better late then never, right? Anyhow, the movie Air is about a girl, Misuzu, who is the reincarnation of a cursed yokujin (a winged being) named Kanna, who is doomed to lose anyone she develops a bond with, and becomes sickly herself in the process. Cue Yukito, the direct descendant of Kanna's lover Ryuyo. It's the same basic plotline as the anime. The major differences are that Kano and Minagi have been relegated to cameo appearances, and the series instead focuses exclusively on the relationship between Yukito and Misuzu. And unfortunately that also means it carries the same problems that plagued the series. Primarily, the first two thirds of the movie is a throughly enjoyable watch, whilst the last third takes everything it has worked on so far and flushes it right down the toilet. It's not a waste of time per se, but don't expect any sort of closure or satisfaction from the ending. If you choose to watch Air, go with the movie if you're strapped for time and want a more quickly digestible trimmed story. Otherwise, stick with the series with a word of caution to not get your hopes too high.
Seitokai Yakuindomo - 8
Okay, there's not many words to describe this anime. It is nothing more than nonstop sex jokes and random other assorted gags. A school recently becomes gender-mixed after years of being exclusively for girls, and now a handful of males trickle in. The main character is, surprisingly, not a pervert. Most of the females he meets upon arriving and joining the student council however would make even the most grizzled of perverts blush with shame. It's a simple concept, and one that is completely the opposite of the expected outcome of a boy attending what is pretty much an all-girls school. But, here's the thing. It takes its very simple concept, and makes it absolutely hilarious for people who enjoy that type of humor, with a decent cast of characters behind it and an art style that suits the absurdity well. There's no end to the rapid-fire dirty comments. Everything from periods to enemas are used as joke fodder for the show, much to the behest of the main character, Tsuda. It never pretends to be anything it's not, just does what it knows best. And for that I find it great.
Steins;Gate - 10
I... I honestly don't even know where to start here. This anime is about THE MAD SCIENTIST, HOUOUIN KYOUMA, AND HIS QUEST TO CHANGE THE RULING ORDER OF THE WORLD. IT IS THE CHOICE OF STEINS;GATE. EL. PSY. CONGROO. *ahem* I mean, the main character Okabe Rintarou is a scientist which seems to be in the throes of chuunibyo, and works with his partner Daru to create many failed inventions. One day, they discover that their newest creation actually works after Okabe discovers a famed scientist named Makise Kurisu stabbed to death at a lecture he was attending. The invention; a combination of a cell phone and a microwave that can send text messages to the past. Much to Okabe's surprise, after he sends one of these "D-Mail" texts he finds Kurisu alive and well. What happens at this point is the epic unfolds, bringing with it tragedy, romance, fleeting happiness, dystopia, and a story of the agony time travel can truly bring with it. I literally cannot come up with enough words to describe just how fantastic this anime is. It's beautiful, it's emotional, it's exciting, it's awe-inspiring, it takes all its elements and utilizes them to the fullest. Time travel is a hard concept to do, and to do it this well is truly an astounding feat. The best way for me to truly convey my thoughts is to say it's to anime what Chrono Trigger is to games. A masterpiece that will absolutely stand the test of time across all the world lines. This is my second favorite series I've ever seen short of Higurashi, and I can NOT recommend it enough. If you only watch one thing off this list then by Haruhi make it this.
Clannad - 9.75*
And right on the heels of Steins;Gate comes my new fourth-favorite anime. You may notice that I put an asterisk next to the score, and the reasoning is simple. I rate this the same as After Story as I believe one is inseparable from the other. This is what causes After Story to have the development needed to really pack its punch. Anyhow, this starts off as a fairly typical visual novel adaptation, especially compared to Key's past works. Tomoya, the principal character meets several girls whilst going to school, and works to help them solve their problems within their arcs. The characters seem to be merely archetypes at first glance. Do NOT let this decieve you. Beneath KyoAni's great animation lies the foundations for one of the greatest stories ever told. As you progress further in you see just how complex and nuanced the characters are. From Kotomi's studies on the illusionary world to Nagisa's slowly becoming more and more resolute throughout the series, it builds a beautiful foundation. This is punctuated off and on by the sad tale of a girl all alone in a world that has ended. The ending of the series is satisfying after emotions rise and fall throughout the show.I would have been content here and awarded it a spot in my top ten animes already, but that was not enough for Key...
Clannad After Story - 9.75
And that brings us to After Story, one of the pinnacles of the animation medium. (Note: If just my Clannad review was enough to convince you SKIP THIS SECTION AND GO WATCH NOW. JUST TAKE IT ALL IN.) Anyhow, the thing about this that sets it so far apart and ahead of almost anything else I've seen is that most animes works so hard at getting its main romance plot to the first kiss that by the time it finally happens there's no time to see the progression of the relationship. But After Story takes it much further. The first few arcs of this series wraps up Tomoya's school days and brings him into the real world. Around this time, the series goes to a place I've never seen any other come close to touching. It weaves a tale of love and loss, change and memory, the importance of families both good and bad, and the difficulties that come with growing up; leaving behind your childhood, stepping out into the world at large and trying to make a place for yourself and your loved ones. From around episode 10 to right at the end of the series, the show takes you on a roller coaster of emotions that simply refuses to give up until you are utterly drained. Whilst I have some qualms with the ending, the anime nevertheless remains one of the most beautiful and poignant things I've ever seen, and one I could probably fill a book with my thoughts on it. Clannad (and both OVAs as well) is absolutely worth a watch for anyone who is willing to invest the time in the character building to see it pay off immensely in the end.
Hellsing - 6.75
Hellsing is at its core something that has a ton of style, but very little substance, at least as far as this adaptation goes. The story: The titular organization was formed to hunt down vampires and other vicious creatures. But working for them is possibly one of the most badass characters in the history of anything, Alucard. He's a vampire whom for various reasons now works for the Hellsing family. In the first episode, he converts a police girl named Seris Victoria to a vampire in order to save her life. It's a good... nay, a GREAT premise, but in all honestly it quickly becomes greatly disappointing. Upon becoming a creature of the night, the main focus of the anime seems to focus on Victoria. Which wouldn't be bad, if not for the fact that she has very little character development throughout the series. Between her and some minor characters it makes the show drag at some points. However, these segments are interspersed between general badassery of the nth caliber from Alucard. At the end in retrospect, it's not a bad watch, just not something you're going to get anything more than some mindless entertainment from. I do have to give special accolades to the dubbing though, they did fantastic on the voice actors they chose. If you choose to watch this it's one of the few which I'd go dub over sub every time.
Steins;Gate Movie - 10*
Another one in which I can't separate the series from what follows in score. Let's get this out of the way first, this is not something that can stand up on its own, you HAVE to see the anime before watching this. So, moving on, the strength in this doesn't lie in the story as much as the show did. No, where this truly shines is in two things. First is just the pure amount of fanservice packed into this, and not the sexual kind. Instead it will have fans of the series getting wave-blasted with nonstop nostalgia for at least the first solid fifteen minutes. Secondly, and this is the more important part, the characterization of Kurisu and Okabe. It ties up some loose ends left between the special and the movie, and makes the two main characters even more fantastic than they already were. Is it as good as the show itself? No, not really. But nevertheless it's a great way to wrap up the story and is a far cry from my fears that it was going to butcher the original ending to the series (the special actually did more to harm that than the movie does). Definitely a great watch.
Mirai Nikki - 9.25
And to round out this list of my new favorite series, clocking in at #5 is The Future Diary. The anime is about twelve people who got diaries that can tell certain facets of the future, and they're pitted against each other in a fight to the death for the right to become the new god of the world. And what a spectacle it is. The main character Yuki looks at first glance to be the typical useless protagonist who barely scrapes by. Happily that is not the case here. And the other primary character is named Gasai Yuno, and I can't properly convey just how batshit insane and utterly awesome she is. She is the poster girl for yandere, and without her the show absolutely would be a totally different beast. She steals the spotlight as far as I'm concerned. Plus, f*cked up as her and Yuki's romance I can't stop cheering it on. Other than her, all the other characters are almost as messed up and interesting as hell. Now, I'm gonna be quite honest, there are plot holes galore and problems with the story. But none of that matters. I geniunely had so much pure fun from experiencing the anime that any inconsistencies did nothing to detract from just how damn enjoyable it is. Both openings and endings are fantastic, the story wraps up nicely with the help of the OVA, and is an all around great watch despite any flaws. Just be aware it certainly isn't for sensitive types.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time - 5
Here's where I'm probably going to be ostracised. I found this movie... boring. Not bad. Not good. Simply forgettable. I watched it like a week ago and already I can't remember a single character name or even hardly what they looked like. The story is about a girl who, after landing on a 'mysterious walnut' can suddenly leap through time in a literal sense. Using this power for trivial and silly things only ends up causing misfortune to her and those around her. The consequences of these frivolous changes are blown way out of the realm of plausibility however, such as a mishap in the cooking lab and subsequent time-meddling ends up with the new recipient of causing the mistake to end up throwing a fire extinguisher at someone days later in a frenzied rage. It even begs the question as to how someone else who took over her position made the identical blunder in the first place. Overall though, it wasn't outright bad, but definitely not something I feel was time well spent. There's much better time travel media to be had. *points up the blog*
5 Centimeters Per Second - 9
There is beauty in simplicity. No movie shows that better than 5 Centimeters Per Second. The story is about two friends who slowly drift apart throughout the years, one looking to the future whilst the other is stuck in the past. And... that's it. It's told in the form of a few short segments that are snapshots in their lives. First thing's first. As far as I'm concerned, the art in this film is the greatest animation ever in anything in the history of time. My friend describes it as "eyeporn", I just state that every instant, every frame is stunningly gorgeous. The narrative is simple yet powerful. The music sets a great mood as well. Overall, this movie is just something to simply sit down and soak in. It's an experience, not something to be actively involved in reaching conclusions about. It's in many ways similar to the Koyaanisqatsi for the few people here who knows what it is. The details and the art and characters just drag you along on brief outlooks into the little nuances of life. The ending may not be satisfying, but overall it's a stellar watch. If you have an hour, find it on Youtube, crank it up to 1080p, and just take it all in.
Psycho-Pass - 7.5
And for the final one of this blog, this is one I'm totally mixed on. It's a crime story set in a dystopian future in where machines can now read the potential a human has for commiting crimes, known as the user's Psycho-Pass. The "latent criminals" are punished by the system through required therapy for changing mental outlook, or even death in cases with higher Crime Coefficents, turning all the "healthy" people into complacent sheep who are told how to be happy by the government. It's a good idea for story (draws heavily from stuff such as 1984 and Brave New World), and it's backed up with high quality animation, a great cyberpunk aesthetic, and decent if not amazing characters. The problems arise the further in as you go however, with plotlines and characters ending up disappointing and sometimes downright irksome, some things seeing to be played for nothing more than sheer shock value, and an extremely frustrating ending that thorougly sucked. The series is still fun to see, but the dropped potential for so much more ends up hurting its score quite a bit in the end.
(NOTE ABOUT NEW SCORES: I have recently begun the process of changing my older scores from letter grades to numbers. I will eventually be publishing a blog with all 33 animes I've reviewed so far and short blurbs about each. Stay tuned.)