Tag Archives: goro taniguchi

Review: s.CRY.ed (2001) Anime | My Reviews 24 DEC 2013

s-cry-ed anime dvd coverThe phenomenon that birthed the area known only as the Lost Grounds from the place once known as the Kanagawa prefecture brought with it another oddity, the birth of the so-called “Alter” user. Approximately 2% of the population, these people are born with the ability to transmute material into the most wondrous of paranormal abilities.

Kazuma is a cocky, arrogant, good-for-nothing kind of guy who enjoys a good fight if he can find it. His alloy alter provides him with tremendous power in his right fist, but he is lazy, incapable of holding down a job, never mind the money. A young man of steadfast resolution and iron-clad will, the rebellious Kazuma will not allow anyone to impose their will upon him. Never living in doubt or fear, Kazuma strides forward, always making the decision to break down any wall that may be standing in front of him.

Amongst the elitists of HOLY, the police force created for dealing with native alters, is a young man named Ryuhou, commander of the powerful Alter known as Zetsuei. The unforgiving justice of Zetsuei mirrors Ryuho’s cold demeanour in his mission to impose his and HOLY’s ideals upon the Lost Grounds.

But when a chance encounter between Kazuma and Ryuho occurs, a rivalry of unparalleled intenseness is spawned. Their hatred for each other will ensnare the land with chaos and turmoil. It is a battle between the hunter and the hunted; a struggle to rebel against conformity; and a fight to uphold ones ideals and freedom.

The epic battles within the Lost Ground will determine the fates of all who dwell there.

Scryed is the story of rebellion, about a man who refuses to accept the authority imposed upon him by others and to live out his life to his own rules. Seeking to follow his path alone, Kazuma will allow nothing to stand in his way nor tell him what to do. Similarly, there is a man who steadfastly believes in the ideals showed to him and now acts to ensure that these ideals are enforced upon everybody. As a member of HOLY Ryuhou seeks to the happiness of all man – even if a few have to suffer for it. Ryhuou and Kazuma are so very alike yet complete opposites when it comes to their view on fate and destiny. Ryuhou follows his destiny while Kazuma strives to create his own. Throw in some awesome paranormal abilities courtesy of Alter-abilities and you have one great, action-packed show.

The story is fast and full of action, the characters and their powers interesting and diverse and the animation solid with more than a few hints of brilliance. Scryed is an exciting show that revolves almost entirely around the never-ending feud between the two main characters, Kazuma and Ryuhou as well as Kazuma’s battle against HOLD and HOLY who are trying to impose their governance upon him. The story is well-paced, though at times feels a more than a little episodic, especially in the early stages of the show. But a well-timed twist in the story turns the tale upside down and adds tremendously to the series. Though including a few laughs mixed with some drama, Scyed focuses heavily on action and fight scenes between the various alter users. That said, there are more than a few scenes that will pull on your heartstrings.

Scryed boasts a diverse cast of characters and alter capabilities, ranging from the awesome to the just plain ridiculous. The character designs are solid, though it can be said that the series might have done with a better alter creature/ability designer. The animation for the series is very good, with the large number of fight scenes handled just perfectly. Very solid and very clean, the animation in Scryed doesn’t let one down. The soundtrack for the series is perfectly suited to the action as is the voices of the various cast members.

Scryed is a great action-packed series with a good story, a good point to bring across and great artwork. I dare you not to find Kazuma the Shell Bullet one of the more intriguing characters that you will ever come across.

scryed anime

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

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S-CRY-ed

Review: PLANETES (2003) Anime | My Reviews 09 JUN 2009

PLANETESIn the year 2075, mankind has reached a point where journeying between Earth, the moon and space stations is a part of daily life. However, the progression of technology in space has also resulted in the problem of the space debris, a scourge which if left unchecked, can cause excessive and even catastrophic damage to spacecrafts and equipment.

This is the story of Technora’s Debris Collecting section, its EVA worker, Hachirota “Hachimaki” Hoshino, and the newcomer to the group, Ai Tanabe…

2003’s PLANETES is a 26 episode long anime series based on the hard science fiction manga by Makoto Yukimura. The show is directed by Goro Taniguchi and produced by the combined force of Bandai Visual, NHK and Sunrise.

The science-entrenched story of PLANETES focuses heavily on human nature and the relationships between the various team members that makes up the debris collecting team for the huge Technora corporation. The two main protagonists throughout the series is that of the single-minded, space-mad Hachirota “Hachimaki” Hoshino who dreams of one day owning his own spacecraft and love-obsessed, Ai Tanabe, the eternal optimist who strives to work hard and who more than anything else, wants people to succeed and get along with one another.

One of PLANETES’ strongest points is its intense characterization throughout the length of the series and as such the amount of depth and detail that is shared with each and every integral cast member goes a long way in creating some particularly memorable encounters and characters. Similarly, PLANETES also goes to great lengths to provide a solid scientific background to almost everything that goes on and occurs throughout the anime, and this particular attention to detail helps in forcing the viewer to completely suspend any disbelief that may arise from some of the more action-packed sequences, making the show just that much more engaging and accessible than what it might otherwise have been should it have gone for the more traditional ‘made-up’ science fiction route.

For the most part the series is quite episodic in nature, with most of the episodes exploring one or other of the team members’ histories or reactions to certain situations, usually building up to some sort of dramatic or explosive conclusion by the end of the show. However, as the series progresses and the characters strengthen in depth and motivation, the show suddenly pulls all its already strong elements together and launches into a wonderfully complex and involving story arc that steadily builds up steam and then releases with an extremely emotive and rewarding ending that is sure to leave anyone watching with a tear or two in their eyes.

On the animation front, Sunrise has pulled out all the stops and produced an exquisitely detailed show that oozes real-world qualities and as such begs the eye just to linger just that little longer over each and every environment that one gets introduced to over the course of the series. Character animation and detail is particularly well done and the result is a very clean and smart looking anime that doesn’t seem to hold anything back with regards to visual quality and smoothness of animation.

Voice acting for PLANETES is of a particular high quality as well, with some great seiyuu choices for the majority of characters. Special mention though must go to Kazunari Tanaka (Hachirota “Hachimaki” Hoshino) and Satsuki Yukino (Ai Tanabe) who both manage to sync perfectly with their respective characters and just add that much depth to the presentation as a whole.

The music of PLANETES is a mixture of traditional orchestral music, supplemented by chorals, several uses of a theremin, and traditional Japanese woodwinds. The score is composed by Kotaro Nakagawa and produced by Victor Entertainment. The upbeat opening theme song, “Dive in the Sky”, is performed by Mikio Sakai who also provides the ending “Wonderful Life” theme as well. Episode 26 however does feature a different closing song, this time being Hitomi Kuroishi’s Enya-influenced “Planetes”.

In summary, PLANETES is one of those awe-inspiring, ‘real world’ (or at least, real world in the future) dramas with a well-sprinkled hint of the fantastic that is quite simply, just done right. Extremely strong and likable characters, engaging and enthralling scenarios, an extremely satisfying ending arc, beautiful animation and a polished soundtrack just makes up the perfect package and if you are looking for some serious, meaningful fodder for the senses, then you can certainly not do that much better than to give PLANETES a well-deserved spin.

Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetes

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 Anime | My Reviews 11 JAN 2009

Code Geass R2Following directly on from the previous season, Code Geass R2 plunges us straight into a new world where not everything is quite as it seems. Japan remains under Britannian rule, still stripped of its name and status, still simply referred to as Area 11 and its inhabitants, Elevens. The Black Knights are no longer a plausible threat and to the public in general, Zero appears to be dead, lost in the final battle.

Lelouch Lamperouge and his school companions’ memories have been wiped, his precious sister Nunnally has been both physically and mentally taken from him, and he is now under constant Britannian supervision and surveillance, ensuring that his memories of his previous life as Zero don’t make a sudden reappearance.

However, C.C remains on the loose and with her still around, there is no guarantee that this newly crafted peaceful world will remain as it is for long. She has a pact with Lelouch and that pact must be seen through – meaning that the time for Zero and his geass is at hand once more… as is the destruction of the absolute Britannian Emperor, Charles Di Britannia.

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 is the second season of the highly successful Sunrise original animation, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion and was released in 2008, standing at 25 episodes long. It is once again directed by Goro Taniguchi and written by Ichiro Okouchi, with character designs once more handled by the famed CLAMP mangaka group.

Essentially everything that was packed in and what made the first season such a hit is back in the follow-up run, with our love him or hate him protagonist still making some pretty dirty decisions to further his goals. There is a lot of mystery and intrigue, a lot of drama, the usual, seemingly completely out of place humour and of course tons of action – with just a hint of romance sprinkled in for good measure. The pacing is non-stop and Zero’s machinations continuously grow and change in scope as the series progresses, always keeping you on your toes and waiting to surprise you around each and every corner.

There are quite a few new characters added to the roster and the season focuses more heavily on the geass itself, introducing new users of it as well as chronicling a little more about this wonderous gift or curse as it is. However, Lelouch’s primary goals of creating a peaceful world for his blind, paralysed sister and eliminating the current Britannian emperor remains the same and thus his lies and machinations stay pretty true to his original run with the first Black Knights uprising. And in addition to all this political and strategic maneuvering, the series ALSO throws a ton of very well choreographed and thought out mecha battles to enjoy, thus ensuring that the series continues to hold as much entertainment value for those just interested in the action aspect of the story as what it does for those who dig slightly deeper in the story and message of the show.

Visually, Code Geass R2 continues its interesting character designs courtesy of CLAMP and the resulting visuals are pleasingly different from your standard anime fare, making this one of the better looking anime shows currently out. The mecha designs in particular are also pretty fantastic and very different from the norm, again helping the show to stand just that little bit taller than the rest of the current, rather generic pack. Colors are bright and vibrant and the animation is particularly fluid and generally very well choreographed. CG is kept to a minimum and the special effects that are used are extremely well blended into the scenes, making Code Geass R2 a particularly pleasing on the eye watch.

The show features some pretty veteran voice actors, including the likes of Jun Fukuyama as Lelouch Lamperouge, Takahiro Sakurai as Suzaku Kururugi and Yukana as CC. The entire group puts in a fantastic performance and coupled with a well designed musical score and arrangement under the directorship of Motoi Izawa and Yasuo Uragami, Code Geass R2 comes out sounding as polished as one could hope for in a made for TV anime series. Theme song composition, arrangement and performance is handled by Orange Range, with additional performances by Ali Project and Flow.

In summary, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 continues its addictive blend of intrigue, drama, pulse-quickening excitement, humour and just sheer mecha madness action, and with a solid meaty story underneath that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat, it is most certainly one of those must see anime series that anyone calling themselves an anime fan simply cannot miss!

So my advice to you is simple: sit back and enjoy…

Code Geass R21

Related Link: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=9173

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Anime | My Reviews 06 APR 2008

Code GeassJapan is no more. Conquered by the Holy Empire of Britannia armed with their awe-inspiring mecha known as the Knightmare Frames, Japan is now known simply as Area 11 and its native inhabitants simply as “Elevens”. While society struggles to get to grips with the various class structures now forced upon it, there are however still those pockets of resistance that would see a revived Japan rise from the ashes and struggle against the authorities who would keep them down.

One such figure is your not so ordinary student Lelouch Lamperouge, an exiled prince who is abnormally clever and more than just a little scheming. A dark past has meant that this young man has sworn to bring down Britannia, and a chance encounter with a strange girl known only as CC has blessed him with the most awesome of abilities, that of the Geass. Now with the ability to bend anyone to his will, Lelouch seeks to craft a world where his disabled sister can live happily and where a Britannia no longer exists.

On the other side of the coin is Suzaku Kururugi, son of the last Japanese prime minister and a boy who has instead embraced Britannia and seeks to bring about a world of peace using Britannia as the tool. An excellent warrior with a particularly awesome Knightmare Frame at his disposal, Suzaku will soon be pitted head to head against his once best friend, Lelouch – or as he is more commonly known to the world – Zero.

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion is a 25 episode long anime series, produced by Sunrise and directed by Goro Taniguchi. Now Taniguchi isn’t new to the anime scene and has brought classics like s-CRY-ed, Planetes and Gun X Sword to our screens and his latest production, Code Geass, certainly doesn’t disappoint.

What makes Code Geass so enjoyable is the clever story writing in which we find an oppressed Japan (by Britain no less) and a scheming, revenge and power-hungry student who wishes to oppose his oppressor and take control over the world. This lad is then given the amazing power of the Geass which allows him to bend anyone to his will (with the usual restrictions in place just to give us some more plot devices) and then set free to start his machinations. The beginning of the anime is charaterised by clever and intricate plots that leaves a viewer hanging, much in the same vein as what Death Note did a year before it. Unfortunately though, the rigours of this clever writing proves to be a little too much and halfway through the anime slumps back into your typical student romance/comedy/drama which leaves a pretty bland taste in your mouth.

Thankfully though, the writers rescue the show with a couple of episodes to go and turn up the action a notch, while at the same time falling back to the clever twists that made the show such a hit right at the outset. This makes for a grand finale and puts Code Geass back firmly on the must see list.

However, and this is a big however, Code Geass is let down by the fact that it appears that commerce had a heavy hand in its production. First off is the atrocious decision to allow Pizza-Hut on board with its egarious advertising campaign in which huge sections of the show is specifically added to simply showcase their product. It is an annoyingly obvious intrusion and I can only believe in the disgust that Tanaguchi to deal with when forced to inject these scenes in his work. The second is the whole stop production at 23 episodes, then decide to wait a couple of months before releasing episodes 24 and 25 and then because of the great interest that was generated, end episode 25 and thus the ‘season’ off on a HUGE cliffhanger and announce that a second season would come into production.

Terrible. Of course, the problem is that we as the fans allowed this kind of behavior from the production companies behind the show and as such have to live with the consequence. Nevertheless, despite these two quibbles, Code Geass is in fact quite a well written story with an interesting storyline, some compelling characters and worthy themes that are explored throughout the series.

The first thing that immediately stands out when you see Code Geass for the first time is the unmistakable CLAMP inspired character designs, all in their trademark character gawkiness. An inspired move on the part of Taniguchi because the look of Code Geass raises it above other similar mecha-based school shows and CLAMP certainly didn’t let him down in this regard. For instance, one of the pieces that got the most attention was the design of Zero’s helmet. The idea was to come up with something never seen before and the final “tulip” design certainly exclaims this.

Of course, the show needs good looking mecha to move forward as well and in this regard Code Geass doesn’t disappoint. Solid mecha designs that use an innovative roller skating system to get around and clever harpoon cables to inflict a lot of damage makes for some fantastic battle sequences which are made even more spectacular thanks to the extremely smooth and fluid animation that literally oozes throughout Code Geass. A lot of effort was spent on animating things right and combined with a dynamic and vibrant colour palette give a stunning visual result.

The voice acting in Code Geass is pretty much as spot on as you can get for all the characters, though the forced English “Yes my Lord” can sometimes be a tad silly. Lelouch in particular stands out, sounding as arrogant, conceited and eccentric as what he appears to be. The music for the series is composed by Kotaro Nakagawa and Hitomi Kuroishi, the same guys who had worked previously with the Geass team on Planetes and Gun X Sword and they come up with some great incidental and insert tracks for the show.

The initial opening theme song is “Colors” performed by FLOW and is a brilliantly energetic track that sets the perfect mood for the action and intrigue that is to follow. Unfortunately the ending track doesn’t quite live up to the opening theme song and disappointingly, neither do the two opening/closing replacement tracks halfway through the series even though they aren’t all that bad on their own.

Code Geass is a novel take on your usual Mecha series in that it is cleverly written, intellectual at heart and yet features a protagonist that you simply can’t bring yourself to like but at the same time delivers on some strong themes like friendship, loyalty and betrayal – all mixed up with a generous amount of comedy and romantic hi-jinks that are pretty standard in most anime titles nowadays anyway. The forced Pizza-Hut advertising is a bit of a pain and the horrible cliffhanger of an ending is a disaster, but outside of those two negatives, Code Geass does make for quite an interesting and gripping watch, particularly the first and last thirds of the series.

It looks good, plays out good and is guaranteed to hold your attention. What more could you ask for?

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

GUNxSWORD Anime | My Reviews 29 DEC 2007

GUNxSWORDEndless Illusion. A planet that seems to attract drifters and rouges from far and wide, a world blessed with the technology of tomorrow but with a vision and style routed in the American Wild West. Van of the Dawn goes by many names, and despite his dark swallowtail armour and liquid metal sword that can alter shape on command, he is as much a down and out drifter as the next homeless bum. Seemingly simple of mind, slow of speech yet skilled in action, Van stumbles around aimlessly in search of the next meal or glass of milk.

However, as a certain Wendy Garret, captive in a besieged town is soon to find out, there is more to Van that meets the eye. He is on a mission, a mission so desperate and ruthless that nothing must get in his way. He is on a quest for revenge, and the man with the claw hand SHALL pay!

GUNxSWORD is a 26 episode long anime series produced by AIC A.S.T.A and directed by Goro Taniguchi, the man who has brought such classics as Infinite Ryvius, s-CRY-ed, Planetes and Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion to our screens.

It tells the story of a mysterious fighter that goes by the name of Van who happens to pilot a immensely powerful humanoid combat Armour by the name of Dann of Thursday. However, he does appear to be short a few screws and his attitude towards money, work, food and people leaves a lot to be desired. However, as the story unfolds and more and more characters get added to the mix, we learn of the personal tragedy that drives him forward on his quest for absolutel revenge.

The other main protagonist is Wendy Garret, a young girl who gets rescued by Van and who then joins him on her own quest to find her missing brother – who happens to have been kidnapped by the same man that Van is after. Together they encounter many enemies and battles, and Wendy slowly begins to learn her own place in this world.

Of course, this story of revenge wouldn’t be quite so grand (despite the giant fighting robots of course) if we didn’t have a story line of planet destructing consequences of course, and as the series unfolds, we get introduced to such a story element that in the end drives the entire show forward. In fact, the writers behind the show do an incredibly good job of introducing and entwining the various story threads together until we are left with an absolutely epic story of mass proportion.

At first glance, a person can’t help but compare GUNxSWORD with classic shows such as Cowboy Bebop and Trigun – in fact the first couple of episodes leave this bad taste in your mouth because you can’t help but wonder if they are deliberately copying some of the greatest anime works ever produced. However, as the series progresses, these thoughts are quickly quelled as GUNxSWORD strives to create its own unique identity and make a name for itself. (However, that all said, I still think that if you want to compare it with any other anime out there, then Trigun would be your closest bet).

For the early half of the show, much of the writing tries to push a humorous action story at us (in pretty much an identical fashion as Trigun did), with a lot of situational comedy, exaggerated circumstances and some breathtaking mecha fight scenes. However, as the series matures, the writing takes on a far more dramatic turn and although some of the humour elements are maintained, the story becomes far more mature and established.

The story itself turns out to be as epic as any big action/adventure/sci-fi saga should be and you will find yourself thoroughly enjoying the series as a whole, particularly as the various story elements begin to pull together and then sock you with an absolutely perfect ending to what arguably has been a quality, action-packed ride.

Visually, GUNxSWORD does not disappoint. Extremely detailed and excitingly planned mecha are a treat for the eye, and Endless Illusion’s seeming obsession with the Wild West theme makes for some different and enjoyable backdrops and crowds. The character models all ooze personality, though Van definitely takes the cake in this department. A design very reminiscent of Cowboy Bebop with just a whole lot more coolness added in for good measure, Van stands apart as the title character of the show.

And while the mecha look breathtakingly gorgeous, it would have meant nothing if the action animation hadn’t been up to scratch. Luckily GUNxSWORD doesn’t disappoint and the action sequences are extremely fluid, well planned and bring about a sense of high impact.

The show isn’t particularly overly graphic, but you do begin to notice towards the end of the show that the deaths start to become a little more graphic and less implied than what they were in the beginning of the show.

The sound track to GUNxSWORD is just as polished as the visuals, with the sound effects standing out as particularly well done as well. On the voice acting front though, I have to declare that the guy who voices Van must be one of the worst male voice actors I have ever heard in anime. I’m guessing he is doing the voice in an uninterested way as he has been told to do, but honestly, Van comes across as nothing short of grating and you’ll find it particularly difficult to sit through any lengthy dialogues he might have. Luckily the rest of the voice actors do a pretty standard job with the roles, so you might be able to overlook this one.

Overall, GUNxSWORD turns out into one of those really explosive, fast-paced anime adventures you should watch, particularly if you enjoy high-paced mecha action tempered with a lot of silly humour and a story of epic proportions to boot. However, you must not go into it comparing it to existing anime titles such as Trigun or Cowboy Bebop, because you will then be left cursing it the whole way through. Trust me, GUNxSWORD quickly carves out its own story if you stick with it long enough, and it is more than worth the ride. A story about revenge and the aftermath thereof, GUNxSWORD is certainly one of those …buried treasures’ from 2005.

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Related link: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=4920