Tag Archives: gonzo

Review: Kiddy Grade (2002) Anime | My Reviews 03 JAN 2014

kiddy grade anime 1Stars Century 0328. Planet Aineias. 162 years ago, in the year SC:0165, the Galactic Union and the Galactic Organisation of Trade and Tariffs (GOTT) were formed. At the time, the job of the Earth-based headquarters was to correct economic imbalance, arbitrate disputes and negotiate contracts and treaties with planets all over the galaxy. Today the Aineias-based headquarters serves the very same purpose, but included now is the protection of the entire galaxy, both its people and their property.

Eclair and Lumiere are two of GOTT’s special Encounter Shadows (ES) members, helping protect galactic peace and order. Endowed with special abilities, it is the ES members’ job to carry out all the dangerous and behind the scenes work of GOTT.

The young, refined Lumiere and the bold and brashful Eclair are long time partners and have been serving GOTT for a very long period of time. But that is where the problem lies. Eclair’s memories are incomplete, as is her control over her abilities.

Just what is it that she has forgotten? And just what is GOTT really hiding from her?

Kiddy Grade is set in a time and space where mankind has already moved to populate the galaxy. Galactic trade and relations are governed by two main organisations, namely the Galactic Union and the Galactic Organisation of Trade and Tariffs. The story of Kiddy Grade revolves around two Encounter Shadows (ES) teammates and their work within GOTT.

ES members are special in that they are each endowed with a very special ability, coupled with a lifespan that just never seems to end. They are the ones who carry out all the secretive and dangerous work that GOTT does. Eclair and Lumiere have been partners for a long time now. Eclair has the Power ability whilst Lumiere has the Puppet ability. Together they make a great team, though it would seem that something is holding Eclair back. Her memories are not whole, nor is her ability. This is the storyline that Kiddy Grade follows, telling of how Eclair finally breaks the cycle of time to learn the full truth behind herself, and as well as that behind GOTT.

The story starts out relatively slowly, building up a solid base for the later and bigger storylines to follow. There is a lot of action in the storylines, but ultimately the first half of the series feels like a series of one-shots, not really going anywhere. But then something happens that throws a twist in the story, forcing a complete shift of focus of the series. It is at this point that the title becomes a little more interesting.

Like I said, there are plenty of action sequences, a little bit of humour and a touch of fan service. A little bit of suspense and mystery are also thrown in for good measure. The characters are all pretty interesting and varied, with all having enough background and personality information to make them more usable. Eclair’s character is very nicely explored during the series, but not much is said about the other main character, namely Lumiere.

The animation is of a high quality, very smooth and nicely detailed. The colours are simple and bright and Kiddy Grade doesn’t really let down in the visual department. That said, the voice acting and musical score is also polished and of a high quality.

The only real complaint about this series is that it sometimes feels very distant and the storyline isn’t all that engaging. In short it just doesn’t evoke much emotion from the viewer. It’s a pity because the show is of quite a high production value and is perhaps a little more underrated amongst the anime community that what it should be.

Overall, it is not a bad watch, but one is left wishing that the writers had just done a little bit more with the story.

kiddy grade anime 2

(Historical Note: This was written back in October 2004. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then.)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiddy_Grade

Review: Final Fantasy: Unlimited (2001) Anime | My Reviews 07 JAN 2013

Twelve years ago, a mysterious purple column appeared in the heavens – This was the Day of Succession. Out of it emerged two fearsome beasts, one white, the other black. These beasts clashed and the resulting explosions left nothing but the mysterious dark pillar stretching between the earth and the heavens. This pillar is the gateway to the Inner World.

Marie and Joe Hayakawa were two of the scientists present when the day of confusion first arrived. They were instrumental in chronicling it’s story. They were also the first two people to actually travel to the new and strange world, but on their last mission they left their children and simply vanished. They have been lost somewhere inside the Inner World ever since.

Now the young Ai and Yu have decided to enter the Inner World to find their lost parents. Boarding the mysterious dimensional subway train that appears only at midnight, Ai and Yu need to take a giant leap of faith to enter the strangeness of the Inner World.

As Ai and Yu continue their quest through the many strange places that make up the Inner World, they continually meet new friends and make new allies. Lisa, the girl who hears the currents of energy. Cid, the inventor genius. Nav, leader of the revolutionary Comodin. And Kaze, the Black Wind. Controller of the Demon Gun, creator of the Soil Summonings.

But the Inner World is run by Chaos. The Count rules these dimensions with an iron fist. Together with his Gaudium Deathlords, the Count has now turned his attentions to these outsiders in his domain.

And slowly the appetite of Chaos grows…

2001 saw the release of Final Fantasy: Unlimited, a 25 part sci-fi fantasy adventure based in Square Enix’s Final Fantasy franchise universe and directed by Mahiro Maeda, with animation production handled by GONZO.

The plot of Final Fantasy: Unlimited revolves around a brother and sister’s search for their missing parents. However, their search takes place in the Inner World, a dimension separate from ours. The many worlds that inhabit this dimension are varied and wondrous, though things are not all that well in the Inner World. There exists a tyrant known as the Count who rules this area with an iron fist, and slowly he has been making his way across the worlds, destroying each and incorporating bits into his own vision.

Added to this is the story revolving around the hate relationship between the mysterious Black Wind, Kaze and the White Cloud, Makenshi. Kaze controls the Demon Gun, responsible for the creation of summoned creatures using the power of Soil. Makenshi on the other hand controls the Mist, and is able to summon huge white creatures from its essence. These two are sworn enemies, destined to face each other in battle.

The story of Final Fantasy Unlimited slowly builds up until it finishes with a great crescendo, though unfortunately, it is somewhat lacking in the build up stages. It is pretty formulaic in that it follows the standard “New monster arrives. New monster defeated by Kaze’s summoning” plotline for well over half the series!

On the other hand, the characters introduced throughout this show are really cool. Character development is good, and the characters are all interesting. One can’t help but want to learn more about the Inner World with each and every episode.

The animation is okay, with a lot of CGI graphics thrown in. It kind of captures the feel of the later Final Fantasy RPGs which also make use of CGI to blend in with the in-game graphics. A small gripe that I have is that this series makes a lot of reuse of animation sequences – something that can become particularly annoying.

The voice acting is superb and the musical soundtrack is top notch.

Overall, this isn’t a horribly bad title, but unfortunately it just isn’t as engrossing as a Final Fantasy fan would have liked. Fans will enjoy seeing their favourite creatures such as Chocobos making an appearance, but other than that, most people could probably give this title a skip.

It’s a pity, because SquareSoft could have done so much more with it.

(Historic Note of interest: This review was written back in 2004)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Fantasy:_Unlimited

Review: Blue Submarine No. 6 (2000) Anime | My Reviews 26 JUL 2012

Blue Submarine No. 6 is a post-apocalyptic manga series written and illustrated by Satoru Ozawa, first published in 1967, which was then picked up on by animation studio Gonzo, who produced the stunning 2000 OVA entitled “Blue Submarine No. 6”, directed by Mahiro Maeda.

The story begins in the near future, when the Earth’s oceans have risen and flooded most of the sea-lying land on Earth. The rogue scientist Zorndyke caused the flooding, which killed countless individuals, and most of humanity’s remaining cities have been attacked or destroyed by Zorndyke’s army of half-animal “hybrids”. The remaining humans begin to wage war against Zorndyke’s seagoing creations for simple survival.

Humanity’s best hope for a resolution to the conflict lies with its submarine forces, among which is the focus of the story, Blue Submarine #6. It is revealed that Zorndyke is attempting to decisively end the conflict in the favor of his hybrid children by artificially inducing a polar switch using geothermal energy at the South Pole.

What makes this particular OVA stand out was its pioneering use of a hybrid mix of 3D computer graphics with traditional animation, resulting in an exquisite visual phenomenon which was pretty much cutting edge for that era.

Unfortunately though, the short nature of only four episodes hurts the storytelling of this beautifully rendered animation, and the plot ends up hurtling along at breakneck speed, losing a lot of the moments in between which could have been used to try and endear us to and flesh out the central characters that much more, and perhaps in the process manage to emotionally invest us deeper into the story being told.

All that said though, this isn’t any light piece of fluff and what is well delivered is a fairly emotional, heavy drama, with plenty of underwater action and of course, a very important environmental message to go along with it.

Accompanied by a fantastic score from the rock ‘n roll big band “The Thrill”, and featuring some great voice acting, Blue Submarine No. 6 still makes for a decent watch, especially if you are interested in witnessing one of the first and best attempts at the marrying together of traditional animation techniques with more modern CGI.

So in summary, if it is on hand watch it, otherwise don’t worry about making the effort of locating it.

[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”4″ orderby=”title”]

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Submarine_No._6

Sunabozu (Desert Punk) Anime | My Reviews 12 OCT 2008

Desert PunkThe future. Japan is a barren wasteland now and in the Great Kanto Desert, scattered humans eke out a meager living in this unforgiving world of heat and sand, doing anything and everything just to survive.

Handymen are the desert’s jack of all trades and the greatest one amongst them is a man known as Sunabozu, the ghost of the desert. Seemingly invincible and willing to take on almost any job that will net him a profit, there is just one small catch when dealing with this legendary handyman – he is downright the most immoral, money-grabbing, cantankerous person you may ever encounter!

Do not get on his bad side.

(And if you are a woman, pray that you aren’t beautiful, or more importantly, big breasted!)

Sunabozu, or Desert Punk as it is better known as here in the West, is a 24 episode long adventure/black comedy anime based on Masatoshi Usune’s manga of the same name. It is directed by the relatively unknown Takayuki Inagaki and Gonzo is responsible for the animation production.

The first thing one has to say after watching this guilty, laugh a minute show is that it is mostly probably unlike anything you have ever seen before (unless of course you are already a fan of the infamous Ping Pong Club anime). There is no hero or savior in this story. No, instead you get a lecherous young man who will do anything for a quick buck, chases after anything with a round chest and is surprisingly good with an old fashioned shotgun.

The story is action packed and there is a lot of fighting sequences littered all about, but what makes Sunabozu such a hit is all the black humour that it is constantly oozing out all over the place. The scriptwriters aren’t afraid to pull a laugh out of anything, and almost no sacred cow is left unturned. This show is about as sexist as you can get, but rest assured, at least our protagonist NEVER comes up tops!

The series begins by taking us through some of the various missions that Sunabozu picks up and slowly but surely introduces the more regular supporting characters that we get to see a lot more of as the series progresses. As the episode count keeps ticking over, so the depth of the stories and scenarios increase and when you hit the final quarter of the series, the storyline really kicks into high gear and you are left with some pretty dramatic stuff, a far cry from the relative silliness of some of the earlier episodes. However, that said, the show continues its extremely comedic feel all the way through and there is certainly not a single episode that won’t have you curled up with laughter, as long as you are not the uptight kind of person of course.

Visually, Sunaboza must be complemented on its high level of details, strong colouring and polished backgrounds. The look and outlines of the characters are sometimes a little strangely depicted, but this makes it easier to slot in the super deformation and exaggerated facial expressions which are an integral part to the whole Desert Punk experience. You won’t be getting your polished ‘pretty boy’ anime look here, but the visuals are certainly entertaining enough and on par with anything else you are going to catch on television anyway.

The animation itself is pretty smooth and there are some good visual effects thrown into the mix, making everything flow beautifully together. The gunfights are also particularly well done, though the clear winner in the end is definitely the visuals’ superb comedic timing, ensuring that none of the show’s physical comedy moments ever fall flat.

The two opening tracks and two closing tracks used throughout the series fit the feel of the show perfectly and indeed, the general sound effects and voice actors are all pretty top notch and everyone puts in a great performance. The talented and very experienced Chihiro Suzuki provides the main voice as Sunabozu if you really want to know.

In summary, Sunabozu is most likely the most un-PC show you will ever come across, so if you aren’t uptight, appreciate some good black comedy and are looking for an action-packed, laugh a minute show which is sure to offend almost all watching around you, then Sunabozu is a must watch.

While it starts out nice and fluffy, Sunabozu quickly backs it up with a solid storyline that is nicely fleshed out as the show runs a long, making it more than just a popcorn, throw-away title and you will certainly be hard-pressed to find anything quite like it out there. So one of those definitely should catch show for all us older, still immature viewers then! :)

Desert Punk1 Desert Punk2 Desert Punk3
Desert Punk4 Desert Punk5 Desert Punk6

Related Link: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=4128