Japanese Anime Reviews
In Alphabetical Order
Note: This review website will also track and review non-Japanese anime. Many countries have very skilled animations and while we do appreciate Japanese anime, we want to keep the focus broad so we're not excluding anime just because its not from Japan.
This may offend some of the "Purists" out there (the kind of sickos who live in their parents' basement, watch anime non-stop and try to learn Japanese). But hey, we've already made clear what we think of you. On a side note, why stop at Japanese? Korean and Chinese are great languages too.
Afro Samurai - Akira - The Animatrix - Astro Boy - The Boondocks - Cowboy Bebop - Escaflowne - Gargoyles - Ghost in the Shell - InuYasha - Irresponsible Captain Tylor - Love Hina - Princess Mononoke - Ranma 1/2 - Samurai Jack - The Simpsons - The Slayers - South Park - Spirited Away - Steamboy - Vampire Hunter D - Video Girl AI - Wonderful Days - X-Men Evolution
Created by Takashi Okazaki and voiced by Samuel L. Jackson in 2007, Afro Samurai is an excellent example of the globalization of Japanese Anime. The plot centres around two sacred headbands, one which makes the wearer immortal and almost unbeatable, and the second which gives the person the ability to kill the first. Afro Samurai's character saw his father killed by One and grows up seeking to find and defeat him. The series of 5 episodes is relatively short, has frequent flashbacks and is good for anyone who loves samurai action.
"It's unfortunate you had to see this, boy. This moment will always haunt you. Challenge me when you are ready to duel a god." - Justice to young Afro.
Co-written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira is a 1988 film that is considered by a few to be one of the greatest animated films ever made. The film is set in a neon-lit Neo-Tokyo in 2019 and centres around a boy named Akira, who has god-like psychic powers and is caught up in a struggle between a biker gang and the government.
"Amoebas don't make motorcycles and atomic bombs!" - Kei.
The Animatrix is a collection of nine animated short films released in June 3, 2003, and set in the fictional universe of The Matrix series. The stories are quite good and showcases a variety of different animation styles. It makes a good introduction to animation to people not familiar with the different styles.
"In the beginning, there was man. And for a time, it was good. But humanity's so-called civil societies soon fell victim to vanity and corruption. Then man made the machine in his own likeness. Thus did man become the architect of his own demise." - The Instructor.
Astro Boy was created by Osamu Tezuka and was first broadcast in 1963-66. New versions were made in 1980-81 and 2003-04, but overall the show is considered to be a classic and is the most recognizable Japanese anime character in the world. A new computer animated Astro Boy film is coming out in 2009.
"There's a moral here somewhere, but I don't know what it is." - Astroboy.
The Boondocks is an American animated television series, based on the cartoon strip created by Aaron McGruder. The series focuses on African-American culture, martial arts and popular/counter culture. A new season of Boondocks will be aired in Fall 2009.
"Excuse me. Everyone, I have a brief announcement to make. Jesus was black, Ronald Reagan was the devil, and the government is lying about 9-11. Thank you for your time and good night." - Huey Freeman.
Written by Keiko Nobumoto, Cowboy Bebop follows a group of bounty hunters (aka "cowboys") traveling on their spaceship, the Bebop, in the year 2071. The series is very popular, although the plot may be disappointingly slow and complicated to some.
"Listen, I don't have time to screw around with you guys!" - Spike to an army.
The Vision of Escaflowne is a Japanese Anime TV series, which follows high school girl named Hitomi, who gets pulled into the planet Gaea when a boy named Van appears on the high school track while battling a dragon. Once there she must help defeat the evil bad guys from conquering Gaea. Escaflowne itself is a large mystical mech, so this series is definitely for people who love robot combat.
"I too am alone. It's sad being alone. It's painful. I felt that way too. But if we're together, at times we may hurt each other, and we may even part. But, that is not the end. I'll always be with you." - Hitomi Kanzaki.
Created by Greg Weisman, Gargoyles is a Disney animated series with a distinctive gothic look and far more violence than is normally found in a Disney TV show. The series focuses on a group of Scottish gargoyles that are transported to modern New York City and their coming to terms with their new roles as the protectors of New Yorkers. For Star Trek: TNG fans, the show also features the voices of Marina Sirtis, Jonathan Frakes, Michael Dorn and Brent Spiner. Overall, a fabulous show and unexpected from Disney.
"One thousand years ago, superstition and the sword ruled. It was a time of darkness, it was a world of fear, it was the age of Gargoyles. Stone by day, warriors by night, we were betrayed by the humans we had sworn to protect, frozen in stone by a magic spell for a thousand years. Now, here in Manhattan, the spell is broken and we live again! We are defenders of the night, we are Gargoyles!" - Goliath's introduction.
Ghost in the Shell is a series of three films and is adapted from the manga by Masamune Shirow. The films were made in 1995, 2004 and 2006. The cyberpunk films centre around human-cyborgs and artificial intelligence and a government looking to use cyborgs to do their dirty work.
"Well, I guess cyborgs like myself have a tendency to be paranoid about our origins." - Major Motoko Kusanagi.
Based on the Japanese manga by Rumiko Takahashi (the creator of Ranma 1/2), InuYasha follows a time-traveling high school student, a half-demon (named InuYasha), a lecherous monk, a fox demon and a demon slayer in their quest to defeat a demon and collect shards from a sacred jewel of a great power. InuYasha is great for both teenagers and adults and has 167 episodes and 3 movies, especially for anyone who likes the concept of samurais and monks fighting demons.
"Stop teasing the cat." - Grandpa Higurashi.
Irresponsible Captain Tylor is a 36-episodes TV series created by Koichi Mashimo (including 10 OVAs), which follows a misfit crew of space naval officers fighting the Raalgon Empire. The series is funny, but has a disappointing ending.
Run from 1998 to 2001, Love Hina is a Japanese anime which follows the life of Keitaro Urashima (a student trying to get into Tokyo University) and his fellow housemates Hinata Inn, which is an all female dormitory. Keitaro as the only male, and the manager, has his work cut out for him in this "harem anime" as he is frequently bossed around by the girls. The series also has a Christmas Special, a Spring Special and finishes its story line with the 3 OVAs "Love Hina Again". As romance-comedies go, Love Hina is one of the best.
"Donít touch me! What if I catch bad grades from you?!" - Naru to Keitaro.
Made in 1997, Princess Mononoke is a fantasy film written/directed by Hayao Miyazaki and set in the late Muromachi period of Japan. The film's plots centres around the spirits of the forest fighting the destruction of mankind in Irontown, which smelts iron and makes guns. The film is a metaphor for the wrongs of technology and seeks a balance between the environment and mankind.
I wish the wolves had eaten you! Then maybe I could've found a real husband." - Toki.
Ranma Ĺ was created by Rumiko Takahashi (who also created InuYasha) and the TV series ran from 1989 to 1992, 7 seasons, 13 OVAS and two films. The series is now considered a classic and one of the best anime series ever made. The plot focuses on 16-year old Ranma Saotome, who while training as a martial artist fell in a cursed spring and now whenever splashed with cold water turns into a girl (and back to a boy with hot water). His father likewise turns into a Panda, and several other characters have their own problems. Unfortunately for Ranma, he's also been engaged against his will to a tomboy named Akane Tendo. The series is incredibly funny and makes for good commentary on gender issues.
"Shampoo love boy-type Ranma... maybe pervert-girl like only girl-type Ranma? Tell truth now..." - Shampoo to Akane.
Samurai Jack is a 4-time Emmy award-winning American animated television series created by animator Genndy Tartakovsky, and aired from 2001 to 2004. The nameless Japanese samurai is thrust forward in time by trickster demon Aku and given the name "Jack" by men he talks to on the street. The TV series follows Jack as he tries to find a way to travel back in time to defeat Aku, but ends up helping the people of the future who have been enslaved by Aku. There are also plans for an animated film, but there is no release date.
"Long ago in a distant land, I, Aku, the shape-shifting Master of Darkness, unleashed an unspeakable evil! But a foolish Samurai warrior wielding a magic sword stepped forth to oppose me. Before the final blow was struck, I tore open a portal in time and flung him into the future, where my evil is law! Now the fool seeks to return to the past, and undo the future that is Aku!" - Aku's introduction.
Created by American Matt Groening and first aired in December 1989, The Simpsons has been growing strong ever since. The show follows Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson and the town of Springfield in the daily shenanigans. The Simpsons also makes regular social commentary about everything from sports, religion and world politics, has won 24 Emmy Awards and grossed over half a billion USD. In the beginning The Simpsons were considered a bit controversial and risque, and summarily banned by Christian groups, but since then The Simpsons has been toned down a fair bit but still manages to shock viewers from time to time.
"Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is never try." - Homer Simpson.
Often known as just "Slayers", this fantasy Japanese anime was created by Hajime Kanzaka and follows the adventures of a sword & sorcery team of adventurers. Inspired partly by Dungeons & Dragons and Japanese folklore, Slayers features wizardly and sword duels against demons, monsters, bandits, dragons, etc. The series has a total of 104 episodes, 3 OVAs and 5 films.
"MY ASS! YOU'VE LED US RIGHT INTO A DEAD END!" - Lina Inverse.
Created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker in 1997 and using very low budget animation, South Park nevertheless has become a top notch show. The plot centres around four foul mouthed boys (Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick) and their redneck town of South Park in the Colorado Rockies (and their misadventures thereof). The show goes out of its way to mock celebrities, politicians and social problems, and during almost every episode the character Kenny dies. Hilarious!
"Oh, my god! They killed Kenny!" - Stan.
Spirited Away is a 2001 animated film written and directed by famed animator Hayao Miyazaki. In it 10-year-old Chihiro follows her parents into a mysterious world, where they are turned into pigs and she must work as a cleaning servant in her efforts to rescue her parents from the monsters who hold them captive. The film is both unusual and fantastic, in a Alice in Wonderland kind of way.
"I'm not leaving until you give me a job!" - Chihiro.
Steamboy is a 2004 Japanese animated film, produced by Sunrise, and directed and co-written by Katsuhiro Otomo. The setting is a retro-futuristic dystopia (aka steampunk) in which young Ray Steam has been sent a metallic ball from his grandfather, with instructions to guard it. Unfortunately others want the precious steam ball and Ray must find a way to save the day. Spectacular graphics and the biggest budget Japanese animation ever made Steamboy is good for both kids and adults.
"What are these?" - Ray Steam.
Vampire Hunter D is two animated films (1985 and 2002 sequel) has become a bit of a cult classic in the vampire lovers community. The plot is essentially a gothic romance in which lone wolf "D", the half-breed child of a vampire father and human mother, has grown up to become a vampire hunter. Sounds familiar? The Blade Trilogy is based off the same idea. For non-vampire fanatics, Vampire Hunter D is a bit of a downer and rather disappointing. It feels like a vampire version of Cowboy Bebop.
"Your time is coming to an end. Your kind must face extinction. You cannot survive, you must die. That is the rule of nature." - D.
Originally a manga and live action film, Video Girl AI is also a six-part OVA series in which main character Yota Moteuchi is stuck in a love triangle and rents a video. Next thing he knows he's being comforted by Ai (a reference to Artificial Intelligence and the Chinese word for love), and the awkward relationship they develop. The series ends badly, but overall is funny.
Wonderful Days (aka Sky Blue) is a South Korean animated film made in 2003, written and directed by Kim Moon-saeng. Set in the post-apocalyptic far future, the film beautifully combines 2-D and 3-D graphics. In the film young man Shua is caught in a love triangle with his childhood friend Jay and her boss Cade and focuses on environmental destruction, pollution and class struggle as Shua tries to save the people from their own arrogance.
"They say billions of people once lived on the earth. And the temperatures rose. The great cities fell. And this rain came. This terrible toxic rain. Our ancestors saw it coming. The catastrophe. They built Ecoban. The first living city genetically engineered to survive in a poisonous environment. Ecoban became our refuge. Our salvation." - Jay.
Based on the American comicbook series "The Uncanny X-Men", X-Men Evolution ran 52 episodes from 2000 to 2003 and details how the X-Men came to be, their evolution from mutant teenagers in highschool into superhero adults who go on to save the world from Apocalypse. The show is spectacular and for fans of the X-Men movies, gives a hint to what the future of the X-Men movies will entail.
"Hey, did you see? Were you watching? This time it took me *twice* as long to crash and burn!" - Wolverine talking to Iceman.
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