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Serious Anime Reviews #2: 07-Ghost

“07-Ghost” is a typical example of modern anime. When you break it down, no matter which way you look at it, that’s what it is. The characters, the look of the animation, the voice acting, the music, even the plot: it’s all what we’ve come to expect from the standard that so many anime without good solid original writing and story are cut from.

Let’s start with the plot. This is one area that helps this anime stand out as decent.  Our main character, Teito Klein, is about to graduate along with his best friend Mikage from the Barsburg Empire’s military academy. This is an institution reserved for those with the rare ability to tap into a mysterious power source known as “Ziaphon”, which has both healing and fighting applications. Teito is (you guessed it) unnaturally skilled in the use of the Offensive Ziaphon, being the prized pupil of the councilman Miroku. The twist is that Teito is a former slave (translated as “sklave”) taken in by Miroku, and has little to no memory of his childhood or past to boot. What little he does know comes from intermittent dreams, suggesting that he was the son of some highborn family.

Shortly after both Teito and Mikage graduate from the academy, Teito has a run in with the grim military strike force commander Ayanami, who is apparently looking for an ancient relic of great power called the Eye of Mikhail. In a flash of memory, Teito remembers that this is the man who killed his father, and attacks Ayanami, resulting in his arrest. Mikage manages to break him out, and thus starts a journey in which Teito vows to find out the true history behind his father’s murder and Ayanami’s role in it, and what exactly the Eye of Mikhail is. But Ayanami is in pursuit of Teito, and is willing to do anything to get at him…

While the story is interesting, the animation style leaves much to be desired. Although the characters and backgrounds are clean and well drawn, the character designs show little or no originality. What is especially annoying is the use of CGI to depict the flying transports that the characters use to ride around in. Although you see this animation technique in many modern anime, it isn’t nearly perfected, and as a result is jarring and fake. If the flying “Hawkzicles” were animated just the same as the rest of the anime, the viewers’ suspension of disbelief wouldn’t be shattered every time they are shown along side the characters. It’s all well and good if CGI is used in something like Appleseed, but it still isn’t good enough to be used in the everyday anime episode.

The music is also a source of annoyance. There are only several tracks used in the show, and when they are played, they often don’t fit the scene very well. A good example of this would be towards the end of episode 7 where the dramatic music from a battle scene still plays while the characters talk about something foreboding that may or may not affect future events. Somehow, it seems as though foreboding music would fit foreboding words better, eh?

On the subject of the characters by themselves, they stand out like a sore thumb as being lifted from other series. The best example of this is Ayanami and his crew. Anyone who is familiar with Bleach (and who isn’t?) will recognize the similarity between the antagonist and his crew. Ayanami’s second in command is very much like Gin Ichimaru, who is very snake like and has a cruel sense of humor about him, and two others bear a similarity to the mad captain Kenpachi and his smaller pink-haired second in command Yachiru. Most of the other characters in the show are templates for standard character types: The Tough One, The Caring One, The Old Man, etc., etc…

In short, “07-Ghost” is a standard anime. Nothing outside of the plot is too impressive, and the characters and too standard in look and personality to gain the audience’s emotional investment. It shows some promise to get better as of the latest episode, if only because Teito FINALLY GOT HIS DAMN CHAINS TAKEN OFF!!!

MDNN Media Productions gives this anime:

Two out of Four stars.

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June 10, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Serious Anime Reviews #1: Fullmetal Alchemist – Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist has been and still is one of the classics of anime since it’s release in both Japan and the US. It was so popular, in fact, that even after the series ended and the movie was released, the fans wanted more.

What many fans wanted was a series that was faithful to the manga, which the original had strayed far from due to time constraints and the schedule of new manga chapters coming out. Basically, The original Fullmetal Alchemist suffered the fate of many other anime produced around the same time: It ran out of story when it caught up to the manga.

Fortunately, the Manga Ka, Hiromu Arakawa, stepped in and saved the series by writing a completely new storyline for the anime to follow. This new storyline was about as different as you could get from the manga, but still carried the anime for over 50 episodes that were incredibly gripping and entertaining.

But even after this miraculous save that ultimately lead to FMA becoming one of the most popular and well loved anime series in a long time, the fans wanted the manga storyline. They wanted the Fullmetal Alchemist they still read every month. And in May of 2009, they got their wish.

The second series of Fullmetal Alchemist, or as the American owners of the show are now calling it, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”, had been announced several months ago as being a remake of the old FMA, more specifically it would follow the events of the manga, which now has almost 100 chapters of content in the bag. Everyone following it had great expectations for the new series, and it most certainly does not disappoint.

The Series starts off with a completely original episode that has nothing to do with the manga, but this is nothing to worry about. The first episode is a spectacular piece of animation, and gives new viewers and old fans an instant thrill as all the familiar characters form the manga, and a few new one shots, engage in an all out brawl to save the military’s Central Command.

After the first episode hooks you in, which it does quite well, we are reintroduced to the characters and their troubled situation. Edward and Alphonse Elric are brilliant young alchemists, possibly even geniuses. However, in a horrible experimental transmutation meant to resurrect their dead mother, Al’s entire body and Ed’s left leg are consumed as punishment for attempting things beyond human understanding. Ed is given a brief glimpse at “The Truth” of all things, and uses this new knowledge to retrieve Al’s soul and affix it to a suit of plate armor. They pick themselves up, however, defying all odds and setting forth on a journey to find the legendary Philosopher’s Stone, which may be able to restore their ruined bodies.  Armed with new limbs of steel, known as “Auto-mail”, and the mysterious power to perform alchemy without a transmutation circle, Ed becomes certified as a State Alchemist with the military in hopes that this new authority will aid in his search for the Stone, and his younger brother’s missing body.

The next several episodes may annoy some viewers, due to the fact that they cover a good chunk of material that was depicted very well in the original series before it deviated from the original storyline. The new series seems to rush through these “shared events” between the two series so that it can get on to the unaltered storyline of the manga. As a result, the pacing of episodes 2 through 5 is all off. Fortunately, the first real split in the events between the first and second series appears in episode 6, and the series settles into a very comfortable pace.

As for the look of the new series, the addition of the widescreen format ups the dramatic feel, and the animation style is not quite as stylized as the original series. The characters are almost exactly as they appear in the manga, as well as their more comedic and distorted chibi forms. The voice acting is superb, although the guy saying “Fullmetal Alchemist!” at the beginning and end of every commercial break gets annoying after a while.

Be warned, this series is not for those with weak stomachs! Many horrible things are revealed in the Elric Brothers’ search for the Philosopher’s Stone, many more horrible than the Elrics’ own origin story. The flavor of this series is indeed rich, and each episode only leaves you screaming at your computer for more. It’s that good. In short, this series is looking to be one of the best anime produced this season, and now is the perfect time to jump in! For episodes 1 through 9, go to www.fullmetalalchemist.com.

MDNN Media Productions is proud to give this anime:

Four out of Four stars!

Go watch it! Do it now!!

June 2, 2009 Posted by | Anime, Review | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment