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So…let’s talk Mawaru a little bit.

When I first began seeing news about Kunihiko Ikahara’s latest brainchild, I had mixed feelings. The plot summaries that were initially released were extremely brief and vague, leaving me with the impression that this show was going to be about cute little penguins. As in…along the same lines as Chi’s Sweet Home is about a cute little cat. So, despite my familiarity with and devoted love for this director’s previous series, I honestly was not sure if this was a show that I was going to want to watch. Penguins are cute, but I just did not see myself enjoying an anime dedicated to the lives of these animals. This all changed, however, once promotional pictures finally began to be released.

The picture that changed my mind...

One look at the characters and I did a complete 180°. All of the misconceptions caused by the vague and uninformative plot summaries immediately disappeared and I found myself intensely anticipating what the director of Revolutionary Girl Utena had cooked up. Now, in all honesty, I did try my best to…and actually did a pretty good job of…keeping my expectations reasonable prior to the airing of the first episode. Yes, the twisted, disturbing, and powerful Revolutionary Girl Utena was what I most associated with this director, but I knew that this same person had also been in charge of my equally beloved and much more light-hearted Sailor Moon. Not only that, but it’s been more than a decade since Ikahura has directed a major project like this, and a decade is more than enough time for any person to undergo some pretty extraordinary changes. Keeping all of these things in mind, I was able to prevent myself from formulating too many ideas about the show before it began.

Now…9 episodes in…Mawaru Penguindrum has had more than enough time to make me establish some thoughts and opinions. And I can tell you…from episode one…I have absolutely LOVED this show. Clearly, Ikahura has not lost his touch, and a decade has proven to be more than enough time for him to come up with a comfortingly familiar, and yet refreshingly original concept. Where do I even begin?!

Oh the details! Ah the symbolism! The complex intertextuality! The literature lover in me is SMITTEN! We have here a series that is, thus far, proving to be very successful at weaving a complex and intriguing plot with depth, developing well-rounded characters, and maintaining a strong, high speed pace that has yet to falter. And then there’s the layered tone. Sometimes sweet, other times bitter, and always chaotic, Mawaru Penguindrum is an emotional roller coaster. By the end of a single twenty-five minute episode, I have found myself laughing, worrying for the characters, and…best of all…left not only wondering, but also thinking. To leave an audience wondering is not always the easiest task, but a strong cliff hanger usually does the trick. To leave an audience thinking, on the other hand…that, my friends, is an accomplishment on a whole different level. Society may define an author’s success by their paycheck, but literary scholars base at least part of their judgments of accomplishment more on the writer’s capability to imprint their words upon readers’ souls. In less fancy language…it really just means that…when a person comes away from a book with more than that with which they approached it, the writer has achieved at least some true success, be it great or small. And while Mawaru Penguindrum still has plenty of time to screw up royally, I am seeing signs that this show has the potential to join ranks with series like Utena.

And just what are these signs I speak of? To be as clear as I possibly can with such vague feelings…the clearest sign that Mawaru Penguindrum truly has something going for it…is the fact that it is bothering me on a deep and very dark level. More simply, there is something about this show that I find deeply disturbing. And the best thing is…I have yet to figure out just what that something is. It’s not like Mawaru Penguindrum has been hiding it’s true nature. The show has been dropping some pretty big hints that this brightly-colored, cutesy anime has something much more serious going on deep down inside. But I have watched and read plenty of serious stories…some quite dark…without feeling disturbed by them. And the fact that I am already beginning to feel hints of these disturbing emotions before it has even dropped it’s cutesy facade says to me that there is some pretty serious psychological stuff going on. Stuff that’s getting to me on a subconscious level. Exactly the sort of stuff that I love.

Oh, and I have to say…this show has GUTS. I have said it before…I am not a fan of vulgar language or behaviora line that Mawaru Penguindrum continuously crosses. But there is just something about it that is genuinely appealing. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I really love watching Himari when she takes on this crass, vulgar, and unladylike personality that seems to be as far from her true, innocent self as it can be. My ears burn every time, but the boldness of it is simply FABULOUS MAX!!!

Is she possessed? Or is this the true, repressed Himari?

Alright…I guess that’s all I’ll say about it for now. I’m probably raving on too much about this anyways…it’s still fairly early on after all. Still plenty of time to disappoint. Anyways…guess I’ll call it quits for now. I may or may not post more about this AMAZING show again later. 🙂

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Watchlist Update Part 2

And now for what I’m currently watching. This is merely a list…no details…that’ll be for later. 🙂

1. Mawaru Penguindrum

Mawaru Penguindrum

2. Ikoku Meiro no Croisee

Ikoku Meiro no Croisee

3. Kami-sama no Memo-chou

Kami-sama no Memo-chou

4. No. 6

No. 6

5. Hanasaku Iroha

Hanasaku Iroha

Thinking of adding to my list:

1. Steins;Gate

2. Blood-C

3. Tiger & Bunny

4. Kamisama Dolls

5. Dantalian no Shoka

6. Bunny Drop

Watchlist Update Part 1

Well, hey, would you look at that, I’m back to make a random post again. I did warn you that my posts would be erratic and infrequent. Anyways…just wanted to write a few final thoughts on some of the latest series that I’ve finished and make some comments about the ones I’ve added to my watchlist. For now, I’ll just be including some brief blurbs…no details or whatever. For the series I think are worth going back to, I may…MAY…go back and give them another entry. Graduate school is very demanding and so, unfortunately, my time is limited. I do what I can. When I feel like it. 😛

COMPLETED (since the last time I posted):

1. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Madoka  ended up being everything I could have ever dreamed of and then some. I’ve always enjoyed watching how people can take something common and then twist it into something completely original. To say the least, it’s very refreshing. And Madoka does the job right. This was absolutely, positively, without a doubt, my favorite show of the year.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Grade: A+

2. Level E

Level E is a funny show. It really is. And like most comedies, it comes with its fair share of hits and misses. The first “arc” of the show was definitely Level E‘s strongest point. After those first few episodes, it’s downhill from there. But don’t get me wrong…it’s not so far downhill that the rest of the show can’t be enjoyed. It’s just that the first episodes were so good that the rest of the show simply does not compare. And while it is disappointing that the creators did not choose to capitalize on that first arc by expanding upon it, it was also nice to see something good not get stretched horribly out of proportion. It’s not a waste of time by any means, but there were certainly some better shows released this season that are more worthy of being watched.

Level E

Grade: B

3. Fractale

Similar to Level E, Fractale started off strong and then meandered off into middle-of-the-road territory. What is most disappointing is that this show felt like it had a lot of potential…a lot more potential than it proved to possess in the end. I’m honestly not exactly sure what happened…the premise was interesting, there were a couple of very lovable characters, and the setting was very imaginative. It feels like Fractale had everything it needed for a really strong kickstart but never really got very far off the ground. Not a bad show…not a waste of time…but don’t expect to get anything lasting or meaningful from it. Also…is it silly that I was disappointed when it turned out the girls did not have blue hair? Somehow, the show lost some of its magic for me when their hair color turned out different…

Fractale

Grade: B-

4. Gosick

Gosick was a lot of fun to watch. I do enjoy a good detective story, and Gosick follows the formula to a T. In addition to that, you have a wonderful cast of characters whose interactions make the show, and beautiful artwork and music to top it all off. Now…to be fair…I should emphasize that Gosick really does follow the detective formula. A mystery is presented, the characters struggle to solve it, and the answers are effortlessly achieved every time. I suppose you could say that Victorique’s skill for solving puzzles is both the strength and weakness of this show. Her character is a lot of fun, and I enjoyed seeing her put all of the pieces together…but much what one comes to expect from Scooby Doo and his gang, Gosick presents the answers without giving viewers much opportunity or reason to try figuring it out themselves. In other words…the mysteries are not a lot of work. But that’s partially because the mysteries are merely the setting, not the point of the show. The “big deal” with Gosick is the growth of the main characters and their relationship with each other…something that the anime succeeds at with flying colors. As such…if you want an excellent mystery anime, Gosick will probably disappoint you. If you don’t mind watching a show encased in a mystery shell, but not a detective story at its heart, then you will be much more likely to enjoy Gosick.

Gosick

Grade: B+

5. Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko

I don’t know what it was about Denpa Onna, but something in this show kept me watching to the very end. It is not a spectacular series with extraordinary characters and an original storyline…but it contains enough of each and then douses itself in quirkiness to make for a very entertaining watch. I do have to say I am really looking forward to that unaired final episode being released…I am very curious to see how the director intended for Denpa Onna to end. Honestly…if the episode is what it is rumored to be, it may very well make this series one of the best of the season. If it is less than that, though, Denpa Onna is still very entertaining and worth a casual watch.

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko

Grade: B+

6. Squid Girl

I began Squid Girl not expecting too terribly much from it. It looked like a cute, mindless, and quirky anime that might occasionally make me laugh…something that I needed at the time I picked this up, when school was demanding so much of my energy. Well, lo and behold, Squid Girl turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. Before watching this, I would not have believed a show about a human-shaped squid desiring to invade the world could possibly be anything beyond mildly entertaining. As it turned out, though, Squid Girl was absolutely hilarious. I was laughing during every single episode…it really was just the medicine I needed. And to say the least, I am very excited about the second season that should be airing soon!

Squid Girl

Grade: A+

7. Bokurano

Ah, Bokurano…I have such mixed feelings about you. I read the manga that inspired this show a couple of years ago (largely due to having read Shadow Star Narutaru by the same author), and had been intending to watch the anime adaptation since then. I just never got around to it until now. Bokurano has a very intriguing premise…one that would suggest lots of exciting action…but it is not that type of story. More than anything, Bokurano is a character study. And in that sense, it does an excellent job. Viewers are presented with a wide assortment of characters, each of which get at least one or two episodes to themselves. Then, after viewers are given the chance to get to know each individual, the inevitable tragedy presented in episode one quickly follows. It is a difficult show to watch…but a good one. I will say, though, that after reading the manga, the anime felt…watered down. It definitely not delve quite so far into the darkness as its manga counterpart. Still worth watching, though…just be aware that Bokurano is intentionally disturbing and, thus, not for everybody.

Bokurano

Grade: A-

8. The World God Only Knows I and II

What a fun show! Both seasons of The World God Only Knows are visually appealing, funny, and generally entertaining. I do have to say, though, that this show may not work for everybody. Being that the story relies heavily on the dating sim/visual novel universe for its inspiration, those who are not familiar with or are but really hate these games probably will not “get” this show. Or they’ll get it, but not like it. If you are, however, familiar with these games and, perhaps, like the concept (if not the games themselves), then you very well may enjoy The World God Only Knows. I suppose the biggest downside to this series is the protagonist himself. What a jerk! He reminds me too much of people I don’t like to remember. But do not fear! He gets the smack down he totally deserves…many times. And he actually grows as a person, albeit very gradually. Much like most harem shows, this is one you watch for the girls…they are the ones who will keep you watching to the end. And the nice thing about The World God Only Knows is that the story actually provides an explanation for why the protagonist “gets” all the girls…an explanation that is funny and easy enough to accept. I’ll be very curious to see if a third season gets made…I know that the manga continues to this day. If they do continue the anime, I can guarantee that I’ll be watching it.

The World God Only Knows

Grade: A

9. A Bridge to the Starry Skies

A Bridge to the Starry Skies is your middle-of-the-road harem anime. Sure, the artwork and style is pretty, but it really has nothing special going for it. That said, this show isn’t all bad either. You’ve got your usual group of girls, each falling into a certain, cliched role, all of whom eventually wind up madly in love with the protagonist. I guess the one nice difference about this show compared to a lot of anime from this genre is that the protagonist is actually a pretty nice guy. He’s not a lazy bum or jerk, and he actually genuinely cares about each of the girls he meets. So…I guess you could say that A Bridge to the Starry Skies is tolerable…just nothing really new. You won’t really be missing anything if you skip this one.

A Bridge to the Starry Skies

Grade: C

10. Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail

Ah, Black Lagoon, how I love you and the mindless, over-the-top, kick-butt violence you provide me. Once again, you have given me a dose of exactly what I was hoping for! Returning to its fans in this OVA, Black Lagoon brings back its lovable ragtag cast to give you another fun, blood-and-violence-filled adventure. One thing I will say is that there is a noticeable jump in maturity from the original series to Roberta’s Blood Trail. Not to say that the series does not already have plenty of violence, cussing, and scantily clad women, but Black Lagoon‘s OVA definitely kicks it up a couple of notches. To be perfectly honest, though, this is in no way out of place. As the regular series went on, the level of violence and the plot’s darkness grew incrementally, and so the OVA really feels just like the culmination of where Black Lagoon was trying to go. But if you were made squeamish by the TV series, then you may want to exercise some caution and at least prepare yourself before watching these episodes. I definitely feel they are worth watching, though…I really hope to be able to own a DVD copy someday. And I certainly would not mind seeing the show continue (though I have my doubts as to this actually happening).

Black Lagoon: Roberta's Blood Trail

Grade: A

11. AnoHana

This…is a beautiful show. Absolutely beautiful. And it will make you weep like a little baby. I would chalk AnoHana right up there with Key’s Air in this show’s ability to draw you in and then wrench your heart right out. Do I hate to cry? Yes, yes, yes. But did AnoHana make it worth it? Without a doubt. I can’t even begin to go into the details of why you should watch this show…just watch it. It’ll make you love and appreciate life and the people you care about more. Just do it. Watch it. Go. Now.

AnoHana

Grade: A+

12. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

I seem to be in the mood for watching tear-jerkers this year. What’s with that? Yup, you got it, Tokyo Magnitude is another show that will bring out the tears. I picked this show up because I love watching disaster films. What can I say? They’re a lot of fun to watch! And having read the premise for Tokyo Magnitude, I thought, heck, why not, I’ll give it a shot. It’s an excellent series…very well done. I was impressed. Unlike American disaster films, though, Tokyo Magnitude is not merely about a group of characters experiencing and having to survive some terrible occurrence. This, like much of Japan’s shows, spends a lot of time focusing on the characters and their relationships, delving into emotions and psychology to send out messages about self-betterment, yadayadayada. So…if you’re wanting a mindless disaster movie…this one is not for you. If you’d like something a little more meaningful, though, then Tokyo Magnitude will give you that and then some. And then some more. Without spoiling anything…I do have to say…trust your instincts when watching this show. I was impressed by how well Tokyo Magnitude managed to hint at things without revealing them until the end.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

Grade A

Alright…here is my first review. To begin, I would like to note that this format…a one-time review of a show upon completion…will probably be what I stick with. I know a lot of people review an anime series episode by episode, but I have neither the time nor the patience for this…at least not right now. Also, I prefer judging a show in its entirety rather than based upon its individual pieces. Some episodes will always be stronger than others…the animation quality will vary…characters will develop (or not)…and so rather than making judgments too soon, I will wait until I have seen the piece in its entirety. Because I will be doing this, you should take heed: These reviews will contain spoilers. So if you have not watched a show and do not wish to have all the surprises ruined, do not read my reviews. Finally…I will review these shows with the assumption that you have at least some knowledge about them. In other words…I’m not giving you any lengthy summaries. I might be willing to give you a few sentences as a memory refresher, but beyond that, you’re going to have to do the research yourself. Harsh, I know. Okay then…so let’s move on to my first review.

This Ugly Yet Beautiful World

This Ugly Yet Beautiful World

First, my brief, spoiler-filled summary: Takeru is your normal high school boy who feels apathetic about his future (and his life in general) and the world around him. One evening, he and his friend, Ryou, see a light falling from the sky that turns out to be an extremely dangerous force in the form of a human girl, named Hikari. As the series progresses, viewers learn that Hikari has come to Earth for a single purpose: to bring about the extinction of all currently-living creatures in order to make way for the next generation of species. As it turns out, the Earth has a natural defense against Hikari: monstrous creatures termed E.D.s (or Extended Definitions). And it just so happens that Takeru is one of these E.D.s. Unfortunately, the poor boy has fallen head over heels for Hikari, and so he must choose between protecting her from his fellow E.D.s and fulfilling his duty of saving the Earth by destroying her.

The first word that comes to mind when I think of this show is “disappointing.” Now…before running off and never giving this show a shot…don’t get me wrong…it’s a pretty decent series that would not be a waste of your time to watch. Easy-on-the-eyes art, an intriguing premise, and a decent music score all combine to make for more than just an adequate anime. The reason I classify this show as disappointing is because of its unfulfilled potential.

In all truth, This Ugly Yet Beautiful World had something really going for it. The plot might not have been all that unique, but it had tons of potential. It could actually be compared to a show like Elfen Lied. Unfortunately, where Elfen Lied went over the top, This Ugly Yet Beautiful World didn’t do enough. It simply did not have the impact that it was more than capable of leaving with viewers. A word that comes to mind is “lackluster.” It needed more…it could have given more…but it didn’t.

For example…I have a weakness for crazy characters. I am just a huge fan of the psychos, especially the ones that seem normal and then surprise you when they snap. Not just the ones who turn violent, though…it is more-so just seeing the mental change that gives the character another layer…another dimension…that makes you realize they weren’t what they seemed. Like Lucy/Nyu from Elfen Lied. Kaede from Shuffle! Kozue from Mahoraba ~Heartful Days~. Kotomi from Clannad. The list goes on. And Hikari can be added to this list. You always know something’s a little strange about her, even from the very beginning. But there a couple of points where the show reallllly teases you. I remember a couple of different times when I became so interested in the show because Hikari had all the signs of becoming another Lucy. I was on the edge of my seat, afraid to see what would happen next, and yet hoping to really see her snap.

It's the crazy eyes...gotta love the crazy eyes...

And then…you know what? Nothing happened. Or…to be more correct…things did happen…but they were sooooo…..not….epic. I was expecting something really bad to happen. And it wasn’t that nothing bad happened…it was just that the way it was portrayed was completely…empty. It was missing impact. I mean…don’t get me wrong…it’s not like I wanted characters to die. It’s not like I enjoy watching shows that are full of blood and gore, because I don’t. But in all honesty, this show needed some more blood…some more violence…some more death. Because, without it, the whole end-of-the-world premise simply wasn’t all that…well…threatening. And the end of the world should be threatening. We’ve got this character who is threatening to wipe all life from the face of the Earth aaaaand…it’s not doing anything for me like it should.

So…overall…I’d probably give this anime a B. It had all the makings of something great, but then it left me hanging. What I would really like to see is for somebody to try this again…to take similar ideas, rework the premise, and get it right. Elfen Lied does too much…This Ugly Yet Beautiful World too little…so if somebody can figure out how to reach that happy medium, I really think they’d have a great show on their hands. Also…it would be nice if they’d leave out all the nudity. I don’t know what it is with these type of shows…but they really like to show the characters naked. A lot. I can handle brief nudity here and there, but it is focused on waaaaay too much in these shows. So there you have it…cut out the nudity…give it the extra “umph” it needs without overstimulating the senses by including too much over-the-top violence…and I think you’d have a great show there.

Final Grade: B

Feel free to disagree with me as you please. I know some of you are probably partial to these shows that I review, but please avoid flaming…I prefer intellectual debates over uninformed arguments. So, comment as you please. Or not. Until next time.

Whoa. Part 2. Bet you never thought you’d see this. Well…I figured since I’m on a roll with my posting today, I’d go ahead and knock this out while I’m at it. Plus, it would free up some space on my desktop…getting tired of those pictures I’m using for this taking up all the space. So here we are…Part 2 GO!

9. Koge-Donbo

Digi Charat, Pita-Ten, and Kamichama Karin

To an extent, Koge-Donbo is a guilty pleasure for me. Her art is sweet enough to give you a cavity just looking at it. But do not be fooled…Koge-Donbo is good at far more than just drawing painfully cute pictures. In what starts out as what can be compared to an ADHD three-year old that’s just been pumped full of sugar, Pita-Ten matures into an incredibly beautiful and heart-wrenching story. The only problem is that you have to get past the fluff to get to that first…and some people will probably not be able to last that long. If you’re like me and LIKE the cutesy stuff…or if you’re not, but you think you can endure it long enough…then Pita-Ten will certainly reward you in the end. Koge-Donbo definitely falls into that “more than what meets the eye” category.

10. Kiyohiko Azuma

Azumanga Daioh and Yotsuba&!

Kiyohiko Azuma is an incredible artist and a comedic genius. In both his works Azumanga Daioh and Yotsuba&!, Azuma successfully captures the humor of everyday life in a way that will bring a smile to your face (when it doesn’t have you rolling on the ground with tears streaming down your face). If I am ever in a bad mood, picking up one of Azuma’s books will put a smile right back on my face, whether I’m reading about the antics of high school friends or the innocent adventures of a precocious toddler. Not only that, but as I previously mentioned, Azuma is an amazing artist. Azumanga Daioh is a young series and so, while it does give you a glimpse of his talent, Yotsuba&! is the one to which you truly want to turn in order to get a better idea of his capabilities. Every time I pick up the next Yotsuba&! volume, I am dumbfounded by what I see…it is not just a manga…it is a work of art. Azuma takes the time to explore the different ways he can use his art to depict the beauty of life, and he succeeds with flying colors. The only downside to Azuma is that HE TAKES FOREVER TO RELEASE THE NEXT BOOK. But considering what I get from it in the end…the wait is TOTALLY worth it.

10. Short but Fun

FLCL and R.O.D.

What do these two series have in common? Absolutely nothing, except that they are both short and fun shows that any true die-hard anime fan should take the time to watch. I cannot promise that everyone will like them, but they are anime milestones…shows that give a new glimpse of anime’s true potential. To be honest, I hated FLCL at first. I didn’t get the appeal…I didn’t get it at all. The art was TERRIBLE, the plot made NO SENSE, and I didn’t particularly care for some of the characters. And then I got to the last two episodes. I don’t know what happened, but all of a sudden something clicked, and I fell in love with it. Suddenly the terrible artwork appeared stylish…the senseless plot had a point…and even the annoying characters were endearing in their own quirky ways. It’s now one of those shows that I can watch again and again without thinking twice…there’s just something so charming about it. Unlike with FLCL, I instantly loved R.O.D. Not everybody likes this show, but I did. I could instantly relate to the main character and I fell in love with the whole premise…librarians saving the world from dangerous books and the people who abuse them. Perhaps it’s because, down deep inside, even then I knew I wanted to be a librarian. But it’s impossible to really say. At only three episodes, it won’t waste much of your day and, you never know, you might just like it…so give it a shot.

11. The Sci-Fi Era: Phase 2

Last Exile, Shangri-La, and Ergo Proxy

Where the first phase of my interest in sci-fi anime tended to include those shows that were fast-paced, high-flying, action-pumped epics, my second phase focused on something slower, more thoughtful, and much more close to home. While Last Exile maintains remnants of what I enjoyed in such shows as Neon Genesis Evangelion, this is the first sci-fi anime that began to branch away from the idea that science fiction somehow involved outer space, aliens, etc. It was not about the survival of humanity against some foreign force…it was about humanity having to save themselves from…well…themselves. This carries on into other shows like Shangri-La and Ergo Proxy, two shows that have taken critical hits for being too slow, not interesting enough, and inconclusive. To me, though, both of these series had exactly what they needed: intrigue. Sure, they didn’t always have very much action, and sure they embraced a lot of confusing themes and philosophies…but I was okay with that. These shows met another need of mine: the need for a puzzle. I liked not knowing all the answers. I liked not knowing if everything was going to be okay. They set out on a very different kind of mission, and both, I feel, delivered.

12. Key

Kanon, Air, Clannad, and Angel Beats

Ladies and gentlemen, I must confess: I hate watching movies that make me cry. I do not go to watch a movie because I want to be scared…or to have my heart torn to pieces…or to be made to think that everything is going wrong in the world and that I am to blame. I go to be entertained. And entertainment, to me, means LOTS of action, LOTS of laughing, and a tiny smattering of not-disgusting romance. Key breaks several of these rules. There is not a single series I have watched by this company that has not made me cry…that has not torn my heart to pieces…that has little action, some amount of laughing, and tons of romantic elements (though not disgusting). And I absolutely LOVE every single one of them. I love how these shows have all been able to pull my heart-strings in such a way that I am able to cry from sadness…cry from joy…laugh and cry at the same time…and without feeling ashamed. Each of these shows is a masterpiece (though many would disagree). Yes, they are all technically “harem” anime…but they are only that on the surface. Yes, every single one of these FEELS like it was made by Key…once you’ve watched one, you’ve watched them all. And yet, at the same time, Key pulls different heartstrings every time. They bring up new aspects…make you look at life in a slightly different way…and make you bawl your eyes out every single time. Those tears are good tears though. And while some Key shows are better than others, I am a firm believer that they are ALL worth watching. (No, do not ask me, I cannot choose a favorite.) And believe me when I say…I am waiting on the edge of my seat for the next Key anime. (PLEASE MAKE REWRITE AN ANIME! PLEASE!!!!)

13. Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni

Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni

Much like all of the shows by Key, Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni breaks a lot of my rules. (There’s just something about anime that makes me okay with it I guess.) Higurashi is scary. And not just a little scary. It is TERRIFYING. You are essentially watching children torture themselves and each other. No, not just mentally. PHYSICALLY torturing each other. We’re talking stabbing themselves in the head, tearing their own throats out, pulling off fingernails, gutting, beating with baseball bats, and the list goes on. You will cringe. You will flinch. You will wonder on NUMEROUS occasions why you are still watching this show. And yet you will continue watching. It is a gory, psychological horror fest that messes with the mind…and yet it has so many ways of keeping you hooked. Perhaps the strongest feature of Higurashi is the fact that this show is one gigantic puzzle. Though I know many people who have enjoyed the first season and the first season only, I am the type of person who likes it when my puzzles are eventually solved. Thus, if you are more like me, I recommend you be prepared to watch both seasons if you plan to begin this series in the first place. You have been warned. (Isn’t it oddly appropriate that this one happened to be #13? No, I didn’t plan it that way. I swear.)

14. Rip-Roaring Action

Black Lagoon and Baccano!

Two very different shows that are nowhere near being on the same level, and yet both succeed in providing the viewer with one heck of a fun ride. Black Lagoon is what I like to call my senseless violence anime. Ever had one of those days where you just want to sit down and play violent video games or watch a movie with a plot that consists of nothing more than characters shooting at each other? Black Lagoon fits that need perfectly. It is just plain fun. Senseless violence up the wazoo. A plot that you do not have to think very hard about. Completely unrealistic action and ridiculous characters that you don’t get tired of watching. That’s Black Lagoon. Baccano!, on the other hand, is very different. While this is another show that’s number one feature is being FUN, Baccano! is full of both strong characters and a strong story. In fact…you watch Baccano! just for that…the characters and the story. It is a “story” anime in every sense of the word. Does this mean it’s confusing? Does this mean you actually have to get to know the characters? Does this mean you have to pay attention?  Yes, yes, and yes. But the payoff is worth it. It is an extremely rewatchable show…one that I have no doubt I will be watching repeatedly in the future.

15. Ef ~a tale~

Ef ~a tale of memories~ and Ef ~a tale of melodies~

Last one! Can you believe it? And is that yet another harem anime you see me saving for last? You bet it is. And, let me tell you, it is a work of art. The Ef series is, hands down, my favorite romance anime. Yet, it contains some harem elements, and yet it has bits and pieces of fanservice like you’d expect in this sort of show, but it is, more than anything, a piece of great beauty. From the music to the characters to the story to the art and directing, Ef is a beautiful series. There is nothing not beautiful about it. Because this is a work of art, though, it has the qualities that one would expect to find in art: abstract, strange scenes that will throw a person off if they are not prepared for and willing to appreciate it. This is a slow series that one must take the time to digest…it’s like a fine wine…meant to be savored, not chugged. And I believe it is because of this that it did not obtain the popularity it deserves. It is because of this that it has not yet been licensed in the United States. In a decade where harem and moe anime are the trend, Ef is a breath of fresh air, but it is also misunderstood.  And so when I see shows like 11 Eyes and Koi Hime Musou licensed, yet Ef continues to be passed over, i can’t help but feel deeply saddened. I still have my fingers crossed, though, in the hopes that one day an American company will recognize this series for what it is and take the risk of bringing it over for the few who want it. It is worth the risk, ’cause believe me, those who want it will gladly pay the price for it.

Yay! I finally finished! Now that I’m done…I probably won’t post again for awhile. Who knows, though, maybe another interesting piece of news will catch my eye that I can’t wait to share. So yeah…see you on the flip side.

Alright…here’s my final piece of news (at least for now). And this news is for fans of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica! SHAFT has officially announced that they will be airing the final two episodes of the series, back-to-back, on April 21st! (For news in English, check here!) Celebrate oh rabid fans who have been waiting on the edge of your seats for this news! Now we can finally watch the end of their suffering! Or not.

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

The next bit of news of which many of you are probably already aware: Sailor Moon returns this summer! In what really comes as no surprise, Kodansha’s U.S.A. branch will be celebrating Sailor Moon‘s 20th birthday by re-releasing the manga. Not only are they re-releasing the manga, though, they are releasing it in its updated form with new translations. AND, yes and, they will also be releasing Takeuchi-sama’s original work that spawned the famous series: Codename wa Sailor V. (To read the news release, go here.) So celebrate my fellow fans! I know we haven’t gotten the anime back yet (nor has there been any mention of whether anybody has obtained it yet), but we are one GIANT step closer to having the series make a full return in America. I can’t believe I’m saying this….but I’m so excited about how poor I will be next year.

Sailor Moon (Revamped) Vol. 1

Codename wa Sailor V Vol. 1