Only Yesterday (1991)

Only Yesterday Movie Review

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

Only Yesterday is a 1991 anime drama film directed by Isao Takahata which is Studio Ghibli’s fifth movie. It is one of their most underrated and very best.

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There is always a tomorrow

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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The story is so strong. I am not usually a fan of this framing device where we jump from present to past, but this use of flashbacks is so strong that it complements the movie instead of hurting it. Critics have pointed out the strong adult approach that is present in Only Yesterday and that is definitely the case here. It is intended for women, but could be enjoyed by men as well. But it is mostly for adults as its story is very mature and deep.

We follow a 27-year-old woman as she journeys to the countryside and meanwhile reminisces about her 10-year-old self. This is not just your regular reminiscing, but it is important as she thus grows more as an adult and realizes her past and present mistakes. She is somewhat lost as an adult and she wants to fix that.

What I loved about it the most is its portrayal of childhood. Now there are a lot of movies about this subject matter, but this is easily one of the best of its type because it shows so truthfully how everything seemed better and more magical during childhood, but it also shows us that some of the problems and traumas faced during childhood are never really forgotten and they shape you as a human being. Incredibly powerful stuff.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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And I loved her romance with Toshio, so well done. I rooted for them to end up together and it is implied that they did which was wonderful. Their conversations were just so wonderful and realistic that they were easily the highlights here in terms of the dialogue. Toshio is a great character and Taeka just might be my favorite Ghibli heroine or at least in the top two or three. She is beautifully developed and always grounded in reality as she is never portrayed as too good, especially as a child and I appreciated that.

Other characters aren’t as memorable but they definitely help shape her experiences as an adult and as a child. Toshio’s family does have some great moments with her as they pressure her into dating Toshio which was such a realistically depicted scene. Taeka’s mother is also superbly realized, caring, yet also careless at times towards her. The same goes for her sister. And of course I liked all of her classmates and especially her love interest.

The scene where the two share their first conversation is just beautiful to witness. It wonderfully showcases the power and innocence of childhood love. All of the scenes between Taeka and Toshio were of course the other highlights. I loved the scenes with hitting puberty and the period talk is something you rarely see in animation and is greatly portrayed here. And her math problem led to such a great and relatable scene to me personally.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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But there is no denying the power of the last sequence. I just adored that ending and it is in fact one of my favorite Studio Ghibli scenes ever. There you see the need for the animated medium as this is a drama and not a fantasy but there it employs its flashback approach by bringing the kids on the screen together with her and facing her with her former self. That moment was just poetic and deep that I felt it emotionally. The fact that probably my favorite song ever The Rose was playing during the scene only heightened the emotion for me. It is the truly touching pinnacle of this entire mature and relatable drama.

Only Yesterday is beautifully animated. Now it isn’t on the level of some previous Ghibli classics such as ‘My Neighbor Totoro’, but it is still incredibly strong. The film portrays its characters realistically as they are not overly pretty and perfect. The imagery is gorgeous and the attention to detail is once again overwhelming.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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The film showcases the importance of country life and especially farm producing and I just loved that. This studio has always been the proponent of living in the country, but this movie takes that to the next level as it also shows us the importance of working and how producing plants can be beneficial to not just your health but also emotionally as you help grow a living thing. The relationship between humans and nature is so well emphasized here and it shows us how the two can co-exist peacefully and productively.

The score is again terrific and not just in the ending, but also in its use of Hungarian and Romanian folk music as that somehow transcends and perfectly fits the country scenes. It is so well edited and directed and a further proof why I love Isao Takahata so much as he truly directs his movies stupendously and his Ghibli films are my favorites.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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Only Yesterday isn’t perfect as I thought that some scenes weren’t as compelling as the rest and the film needed more humor in my opinion as it was overly serious, but it truly is one of Studio Ghibli’s finest outings and definitely near the top of the list for me. It is an underrated film that should be appreciated by more people and now that it finally came out in the USA, I am glad to see that start to happen. Also, it is easily one of the best that the very weak year of 1991 has to offer.

Only Yesterday is one of the very best that Studio Ghibli has to offer thanks to again gorgeous animation, a truly phenomenal score, excellent character development and a rich story. Its framing device is put to some great use, the film flows so well, it is beautifully directed by always great Isao Takahata and it is so emotional, relatable and ultimately deep in its very mature story. The highlight is the ending which deeply touched me with its song choice, imagery and strong emotion.

My Rating – 4.5

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Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

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Kiki’s Delivery Service Movie Review

Kiki’s Delivery Service is a 1989 fantasy anime film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is Studio Ghibli’s forth film which is solid, but pretty overrated.

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Flying used to be fun

until I started doing it for a living

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Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

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It follows a young witch in training. She hits her teenage years and moves to a new town where she starts earning money by delivering packages with her broom. She meets a lot of different people and experiences adulthood. It is a coming-of-age flick which should prove awesome for children and most especially little girls, but it is in my opinion too childlike and girly and it doesn’t have the adult appeal that childlike movies such as ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ have.

That is mostly why I didn’t love it. I liked it more upon my second viewing, but I still think it isn’t better than solid. The plot is somewhat non-existent except that it is a coming-of-age story and although it is too slow at times, I mostly liked its casual approach which is the director’s signature direction. He directed the film really well, that’s for sure.

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Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

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Of course Kiki not being able to talk to her cat eventually and losing her flying ability was a metaphor for becoming an adult and losing your innocence and I loved that, a very elegant and heartwarming way to state that transition. The movie is slow, but certainly quite sophisticated and although seemingly too sweet, it does portray many different types of people and some not all that good so it does become more mature at some points, but too rarely.

I’ve had a big problem with its ending. Kiki’s Delivery Service is a film that is leisurely in style and pace and thus its climactic ending felt way out of place and honestly quite ridiculous. It is a typical action-oriented finale that should be reserved for all those stupid family flicks made in USA and seeing Miyazaki resort to that was unfortunate.

Kiki is a good character, though a bit too good natured and somewhat forgettable when put against other strong Ghibli heroines. Jiji’s sarcasm proved to be a lot of fun and again I really liked that only she could talk to him. Their relationship pleasantly reminded me of Lyra and Pan’s relationship in ‘Northern Lights’.

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Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

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Osono is charming and Ursula shared a really great scene with Kiki and I loved her artistic background. As for Tombo, he is your typical Ghibli male love interest, but their relationship was admittedly quite sweet and touching. The voice acting is expectedly very good here.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is as superbly animated as you would come to expect from the caliber of this studio and its famous director. The character designs themselves are good, but it is the backgrounds that prove to be a real treat here. I absolutely loved how gorgeous some of the imagery was here. I always loved seaside towns and this town being European in style was refreshing to see in an anime film. I loved how the town looked and it felt so cozy, but the house interiors, the food, of course the nature and every little detail was beautiful to witness and Ghibli’s early films from eighties and nineties really do give hand-drawn animation a great reputation.

The score is also very good and grandiose and different in its style which I loved. Its opening and closing number was also quite sweet. The film is definitely wonderfully made technically and both the script and the dialogue offer some gems in terms of the scenes. My favorite scenes are Kiki’s discussion about art and flying with Ursula, her first scenes in a new town were all phenomenal and her scenes with Tombo and Jiji were all big winners.

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Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

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So the film is pleasant and charming, but admittedly too slow at times and I honestly thought that the film was way too simplistic and it definitely ended in a very mediocre, frustratingly annoying manner. It is a movie that is perfect for kids and little girls, but it never has that universality to it that other Ghibli classics have. It is the weakest Ghibli outing from the eighties by far and definitely one of its most overrated films. It is solid, don’t get me wrong, but I’d come to expect much greater things from this magnificent studio and this one is certainly way too overrated for my taste.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is expectedly gorgeously and meticulously animated, very well scored, pleasantly leisurely in pace and style with a good metaphor and it is a charming coming-of-age film that is great for children and especially girls, but it isn’t all that appealing to adults, I found its ending annoyingly too climactic and out of place and although the film is definitely sweet and solid, it is far from great and is actually one of Studio Ghibli’s most overrated works.

My Rating – 3.5

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Hunter x Hunter (Greed Island) Season 4 (2012)

Hunter x Hunter Season 4 Review

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Hunter x Hunter (Greed Island arc) Season 4 Review

The fourth season of Hunter x Hunter is an incredibly disappointing one and a huge let down from the previous seasons.

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You are my best friend.

Stop, it’s embarrassing

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Hunter x Hunter Season 4 Review

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Yes, I wasn’t that big a fan of Phantom Troupe arc, but Greed Island arc is new low for the once great anime. So what I didn’t like here? Well, basically its entire storyline. It is honestly a rip-off of Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh with all the cards and the duels and collecting cards. I just found it incredibly uninspired and of all the ways they could have handled this game, they chose the most anime cliched and that was a problem as this series was once incredibly inventive and original.

The characters do not help either. Bisky is the only truly excellent new character in this saga and I really liked her and her interactions with Gon and Killua were great. The boys were likable as always, but other new characters did not get much to do and were ultimately forgettable.

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Hunter x Hunter Season 4 Review

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There are some pretty great episodes here and that is why this season is ultimately solid. It has pretty good action at times and I loved its ending and particularly some of Gon’s great fights, but its story is so uninspired and almost came as a detour in a way that it significantly hurt the entire season. I can’t wait for the next arc as I do think it will get much better and that we will finally meet Gon’s father, but this one wasn’t a great build-up towards that goal at all.

In the end, Greed Island is the weakest arc so far in Hunter x Hunter and I do think that it will be the weakest of them all when I watch the rest of the two sagas. It does have its pretty good episodes and some fantastic fights, but most of the episodes weren’t all that great and of the new characters only Bisky is memorable with others being dull. It is such an uninspired card collecting story that came as a detour and I disliked it to be honest. Not a proud moment for once great anime. It isn’t bad at all and is rather solid, but I expect much greater things from Hunter x Hunter and solid just ain’t gonna cut it in this series.

Worst Episodes: Bid and Haste and Reality and Raw.

Best Episodes: A Heated Showdown and Guts and Courage.

My Rating – 3.7

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Hunter x Hunter (Phantom Troupe arc) Season 3 (2012)

Hunter x Hunter Season 3 Review

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Hunter x Hunter (Phantom Troupe arc) Season 3 Review

The third season of Hunter x Hunter is so weaker from the previous two that it was honestly a big disappointment for me.

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What is important is not that I live,

but that the spider lives

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Hunter x Hunter Season 3 Review

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Now that doesn’t mean it is bad. It is certainly very good but just so far from the level of greatness exhibited in the previous two arcs. And that stems from personal taste and not objective opinion as I personally dislike the gangster genre and Phantom Troupe is admittedly a gangster arc, very much so a crime/thriller season.

It is executed admittedly very well, but I still disliked that it featured so little fights, humor and it was filled with too many characters and some never really got enough to do. I want Leorio to return as he is here, but quite barely. Gon and Killua have their moments and are good, but the focus is pulled away from them this time around which was an okay choice having in mind that ‘Heavens Arena arc’ was all theirs.

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Hunter x Hunter Season 3 Review

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Now I have a twofold opinion of Kurapika’s role here. On the one hand, it is definitely great to have a bigger emphasis on his quest of revenge and this is certainly a very well told story that ends in a satisfactory manner. But on the other hand, he is almost too capable and smart here and he has always been the least interesting of the foursome protagonists so I wasn’t thrilled to see him get an entire arc for himself.

Let’s talk about the Phantom Troupe members in detail, one by one. Chrollo as the boss is surprisingly tame and forgettable. Feitan and Franklin even more so. Machi and Nobunaga are much more memorable and they have their moments. Uvogin was definitely very memorable and I liked his fights quite a bit and of course Pakunoda is one of the standouts here. Her ability to read minds is well realized and her unappealing, far from beautiful face is an interesting choice rarely seen in anime.

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Hunter x Hunter Season 3 Review

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Both the Royal and the Nostrade family are solid with Melody being the standout as such a different, very fascinating female character and I loved the addition of music as a strong power to the show. Hisoka is as cocky and as showy as usual and I liked all of his scenes even though they weren’t too long.

So in the end, Phantom Troupe arc is far from great and the crime angle, though very well executed, was boring to me personally and this season was much duller and slower paced from the rest. I do think that it has too many characters in it, but at least half of them are very memorable and this saga ended really well despite starting unpromisingly. Overall, it is a very good arc, but a disappointment as the first and the second one were infinitely better.

Worst Episodes: A Shocking Tragedy, Chasing and Waiting, Fortunes Aren’t Right and Beloved and Beleaguered.

Best Episodes: Defend and Attack, Buildup to a Fierce Battle, Pursuit and Analysis and Assault and Impact.

My Rating – 4.3

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My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

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My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

My Neighbor Totoro is a 1988 family fantasy anime film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is one of Studio Ghibli’s loveliest offerings.

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Well, I’m not sure,

but I could’ve sworn that I saw

both of the girls up in the treetop, laughing

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My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

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This has to be Ghibli’s most childlike film and that is okay as it is wonderful and so pleasing and gentle that you gotta love it no matter the age. So basically we follow two sisters as they explore the country and the forest while interacting with friendly wood spirits. Yes, this film apparently doesn’t have a clear storyline, but I have to say that I liked it all the more for it.

In real life, rare are sudden conflicts and there are no villains so this film ended up being rather realistic and an original take on an animated film as I cannot think of any other animated flick that did this. It is a wonderful slice of life story for children and their parents and I myself sympathized with the characters and I loved the country setting. Despite not having a clear plot and goal, the film still explores some themes and the most emphasized are those of sibling love, benefits of living in the country and of course the film is as ecological as you’d come to expect from the director. It reminded me pleasantly of my childhood and seeing the two sisters explore the house and the forest is exactly what I did as a kid so it was relatable to me.

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My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

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Let’s talk about the characters. Satsuki and Mei are such wonderful child characters whom I really liked. As with ‘Grave of the Fireflies’, the film showcases realistically and nostalgically the powers of childhood and how children really interact. Everything is a wonder to them, their thirst for exploration is never-ending and they even portrayed realistically how boys and girls do not get along at an early age and how boys are much more shy. Very well done.

Satsuki having  to care for Mei also reminded me of the aforementioned film and it again shows us how responsible the role of an older child really is. Mei is cute and sometimes funny, but also at times annoying. A very grounded in reality four-year-old. I loved Kanta and his shy interactions with Satsuki were very amusing and of course the grandmother is lovable.

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My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

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My Neighbor Totoro is a family slice of life film but it is also very much a fantasy flick. Its creatures are so original in design and authentic that they deservedly stood the test of time and are iconic to this day. The dustbunnies are very interesting and the Catbus is such a fantastic creation that is zany in the best way possible. It obviously influenced J. K. Rowling for her Knight Bus. And of course Totoro is such a lovable creature and the mix of cute and large is memorable and he is cute while also being very funny at times.

Hayao Miyazaki directed this film really well and you cannot deny his strong sense of space and time as both the setting and the fifties are very well portrayed here. I just loved everything about this country. The house is quite memorable and of course the forest is beautiful to behold. I loved how we got to see the country jobs and the various amounts of vegetables and fruit shown here can definitely make you hungry.

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My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

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Yes, the animation is simply gorgeous as is expected from this magnificent studio. The character design of the humans is very good, but it is the creature design that really makes an impact as it is simple, yet unforgettable. The film is beautiful to look at and again highly advanced for its time as both the water and the light are so realistically portrayed.

As for some of the flaws, sometimes the kids yelled a bit too much for sure and the film can definitely be too simplistic and childish to some. I don’t see how a lot of people can like it. I myself did, but it isn’t for everyone. And even though I really liked the inclusion of their mother’s illness and the third act was more emotional and dark while still ending on a very positive note, I still wished that it was a bit darker and more emotional. I loved the film’s ending for sure, but maybe a more ambiguous ending would have been better.

And I loved the properties of the creatures such as the Catbus flying and Totoro making a tree grow to full size in a matter of minutes, but I still would have liked a bit more explanations and more concise rules for the powers as an adult. Again, that is where being a kid really matters as it leads to a better viewing experience of the film.

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My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

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My Neighbor Totoro is very well paced and although it may be too slow for some, I actually loved its languid pace and that meant that you can enjoy the power of the animation much more. The level of detail in this movie is truly staggering. The dialogue is also solid and some lines are quite memorable. And I have to mention its score as it is beautiful per usual but this time containing a song and its theme song is so endearing catchy and ultimately fantastic. The film has a big heart and very much a timeless appeal to it. It is one of the most wonderfully childlike films that I have ever seen and certainly one of Ghibli’s best works.

My Neighbor Totoro is a gentle, leisurely, simple slice of life film that offers you a heartwarming look into the eyes of a child without ever succumbing to clichéd conflicts and villains and thus it led to an original, more realistic take on an animated film. The characters are lovable, the creatures even more so and the animation is as brilliant as you would come to expect from the studio with a painstaking level of detail. It is a beautiful movie that is timeless in quality and it’s one of Studio Ghibli’s best.

My Rating – 4.5

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Hunter x Hunter (Heavens Arena arc) Season 2 (2012)

Hunter x Hunter Season 2 Review

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Hunter x Hunter (Heavens Arena arc) Season 2 Review

The second season of Hunter x Hunter is Heavens Arena arc and it is another truly great saga in a fantastic anime that for now is almost perfect.

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When I say it doesn’t hurt me,

that means I can bear it

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Hunter x Hunter Season 2 Review

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So Killua and Gon visit Heavens Arena which is basically one giant tournament which is very strictly and meticulously imagined unlike the one in Dragon Ball, but this saga is still pretty much like the aforementioned show’s sagas and I loved those so I loved this one as well. Gon eventually fights Hisoka and goes back to Whale Island to see his mom. The two friends open the box and listen to his father’s message and set out in search for Greed Island game.

Certainly the next saga looks promising if this finale is any indication of it. And I hope to see Kurapika and Leorio again. They have been absent here and yes, this arc is certainly very narrow in its characters. But that was still great as it led to much more development for Killua and Gon whose friendship is building up pretty well as they share some wonderful moments together.

I liked Killua a lot here, but this is mostly Gon’s season and it was truly satisfying following his quest to fight Hisoka. Zushi and sensei are two memorable characters and I hope to see more from them. I thought that the introduction of various techniques and styles of fighting and the Nen element was very well established and explored. Hunter x Hunter has been throwing many details at you rapidly, but they are essential for further arcs and episodes. A truly epic anime this is.

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Hunter x Hunter Season 2 Review

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Kastro and Hisoka’s fight was truly excellent as it was very rich in detail and all the more rewarding to follow all the rules and twists and turns. I loved how it ended and how they examined afterwards how Hisoka won. The attention to detail is overwhelming and thus the action is all the more engaging.

But Hisoka and Gon’s fight is excellent, it was worth all the build-up and I loved how short, yet sweet it was. Hisoka’s feminine mannerisms and manner of speech continue to amuse me and it is crazy how over-the-top and campy his character is, but still oh so menacing and sinister. He truly is a great, unforgettable villain.

Heavens Arena arc benefits from an excellent teaching part to it and great fights, but I also adored the final two episodes on Whale Island as they were wonderfully familial and emotional. I loved the dialogue there and how cozy and warm those episodes felt. I am certainly looking forward to meeting Gon’s father Ging as he is built up as a really intriguing character.

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Hunter x Hunter Season 2 Review

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The animation is great as ever and although the opening song was changed a bit in lyrics, it is still the same in its tune and I love it all the same as it continues to be incredibly catchy. The overall score and sound effects are excellent. I loved the attention to detail in not only character design, but also fight choreography and imagery. I found the action to be excellent and though sometimes a bit too short, it was mostly very satisfactory and exhilarating. I also loved its brutality and mature tone at times while also being childlike and quite wonderful in its humor.

Overall, Heavens Arena arc is mostly of the same quality as Hunter Exam arc. Yes, it is shorter and more narrow, but still character-driven, emotional, funny and filled with excellent fights and a superb attention to detail which is present both in script and in animation. It was a truly great arc and I am so looking forward to Phantom Troupe arc.

 

Worst Episodes: Fierce and Ferocious and An Empty Threat.

Best Episodes: A Surprising Win, The True Pass and Reply from Dad.

My Rating – 4.9

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Elfen Lied (2004)

Elfen Lied Review

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Elfen Lied Review

Elfen Lied is a 2004 science fiction thriller anime series directed by Mamoru Kanbe. I liked this anime despite its many deficiencies.

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I envy you just for having someone who’s worried about you

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Elfen Lied Review

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The plot is pretty good and I liked both its setting and the conflicts. It revolves around the interactions and differences between human beings and the Diclonii, a mutant species similar to humans in build but distinguishable by two horns on their heads and so-called vectors which are transparent telekinetically controlled arms that have the power to manipulate and cut objects within their reach. I disagree with the notion that Elfen Lief is a horror show, to me it has some of those elements, but it is mostly a sci-fi thriller with definite romance elements here and there.
Speaking of horror, I totally disliked the use of gore here. Not only do I dislike violence in movies and shows and here it was overly abundant, but it was also done in a totally unrealistic manner with awful blood animation and effects. The blood here looks simply ridiculous. As for the nudity, sometimes it was funny or needed, but for the most time the series relied too heavily on satisfying the heterosexual male viewers and those moe elements were also way too emphasized.
Lucy is one of the character highlights and her split personality Nyu is of course quite sweet. Kouta is a bit forgettable, but the relationship between the two is amazing and easily the emotional core of the show. Some of their scenes were quite romantic and their flashbacks were stupendously good. I rarely like flashbacks, but Elfen Lied found a surprisingly good use of it.

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Elfen Lied Review

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Yyka is too typical as this jealous love interest, but Mayu is wonderful and the most sympathetic character for sure. Nana is also easy to root for and these two got some wonderful scenes together. Mariko was fine, albeit underutilized. And all of those doctors and military personnel were also underutilized as antagonists.
Elfen Lied’s animation is pretty good for its time, discounting of course the previously mentioned horrible gore effects. I loved the seaside setting and I adored Kouta’s house. It was quite cozy and charming. Those vectors were also really well animated. As for the action, it is good, but underwhelming in its quantity. I expected more fight scenes than just the handful that we got.
Obviously the pink hair color is fitting for the Diclonii as their qualities are shy, naive and inexperienced, but I still disliked the show’s tendency to basically only have female Diclonii. This anime is made for the teen males way too much. But I still liked the conflicts here and I liked the show’s themes of discrimination and racism. I wanted more examination of that, but what we got was still quite sophisticated and the roots of crime in particular are well established as it showcases how the individuals prone to become violent were mostly the victims of violence themselves during childhood.

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Elfen Lied Review

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I liked its opening theme a lot – very moody and interestingly using Latin language. As for the show’s romance and drama elements, they were fine, but too often than not, the characters met in way too unbelievable set of circumstances and some episodes had plot holes. I also thought that the show suffered from short length and too small set of characters as the story needed more.

In the end, Elfen Lied is overly violent, typically sexualized and sometimes filled with plot holes and underutilized, but the romance and drama elements are solid, the flahbacks are very good, the story is interesting, the themes are well explored and the finale in particular is very emotional. It is a pretty good anime, but it could have been much better regardless.

Worst Episodes: A Chance Encounter and Attack.
Best Episodes: Confrontation and No Return.

My Rating – 3.9

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Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (2009)

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Review

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Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Review

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a 2009 sci-fi adventure anime series directed by Yasuhiro Irie. It is regularly cited as one of the best anime shows ever.

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Like I always say –

if you can’t find a door…

make your own

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Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Review

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First and foremost, this is certainly a very good series with quality writing and characters. However, I still found it to be overrated and that is for two reasons. One is that it has way too many characters and most do not get their proper due. And the other is that the mythology of the show is so fascinating that it is unfortunate how it was never utilized in the best way possible. So critics and audiences saying it is the best anime ever is definitely going way too far.
I will now touch upon each and every character and thus I will comment upon the storyline as well. I wasn’t a fan of Edward Elric. He is such a frustratingly clichéd anime shõnen protagonist who never is particularly likable. So I liked the decision to have a vast amount of episodes without him. Alphonse Elric is a bit too good, but much more likable and sweeter than his brother. They aren’t the most memorable characters, but their sibling relationship is moving and quite well established.

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Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Review

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The villains are excellent and most of the homunculi posed genuine threat to the heroes. Their goals and manner of speaking very cartoony in a typical shõnen manner, but they were memorable and powerful enough that I deem them successful. Lust disappointed me a lot, but Greed and Envy are phenomenal villains and of course Gluttony was a lot of goofy fun.
Their father’s story is emotional and well executed, especially the ending. Scar is great too, I really liked his backstory. I liked Izumi as the fact that the brothers’ sensei is a woman was refreshing for this series. Both Roy Mustang and Riza Kawkeye are a good duo and they have their moments, but they were admittedly a bit boring, at least they were to me.
The Armstrong siblings are superb! She is a tough female character and he is such a wonderfully goofy and very likable dude, their bickering relationship provided the finest laughs of the entire anime. May Chang is cute as is her panda and to me all of the other characters were too forgettable or dull to talk about.

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Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Review

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Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has 64 episodes total which is actually a pretty low number for this usually excessive genre. But that was still too much for me personally and surely some episodes were weaker than others and some were even detours. But some were also rushed as the pacing of the show is all over the place.
I loved the story. The alchemy and the entire approach with it is very intriguing plus its sacrificial component provided the emotional support for the series, not to mention that it raised the stakes significantly. I really admired some of its sophisticated themes as it deals with a lot of political and social issues with the most prominent being war, discrimination, brotherhood and genocide.
By portraying imaginary countries, the anime managed to become metaphorical and imaginative at the same time. I loved the attention to detail that went to into this production as the world building, history, flashbacks and many groups are well explored. I love shows that feature many different groups of protagonists and antagonists on a quest, this time it was for the philosopher’s stone. But the problem of too many characters and not enough time still remains and I was definitely disappointed that we didn’t see more of the magical elements as they were quite intriguing. Alchemy was underutilized severely.

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Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Review

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As for the action, I liked it. I didn’t love it as it doesn’t contain enough unforgettable and amazing action set pieces, but the fights were still pretty good and entertaining. The animation is excellent – the character design is quite interesting and of course the detailed, meticulous approach that went into creating this world is noticeable from the beginning and quite admirable.

So in the end, I liked Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood quite a bit. It is an entertaining, at times funny and genuinely well told and even sophisticated story populated by some highly likable characters and a good set of villains, but it still isn’t great and is frankly overrated owing to too many characters, not enough alchemy and overly rushed pacing.

Worst Episodes: The Promised Day, Upheaval in Central and The Return of the Führer.
Best Episodes: Daydream, Emmisary of Darkness, The Other Side of the Gateway and Journey’s End.

My Rating – 4

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Space Battleship Yamato (1974)

Space Battleship Yamato Review

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Space Battleship Yamato Review

Space Battleship Yamato is a 1974 science fiction anime series directed by Leiji Matsumoto. It is such a disappointing show.

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Bid farewell to the Earth,

for our ship is setting off,

the Space Battleship, Yamato

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Space Battleship Yamato Review

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Set in 2199, it follows a titular ship setting on a journey toward a distant star system where they can find help in order to help the dying Earth. Now obviously this isn’t a particularly original premise, but it is actually pretty solid and promising for a show which is why it disappointed me immensely that the execution was so weak and lacking a lot in adventure field.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a bad anime and certainly it has some great episodes with the first and last couple of them being great, but most of the middle parts were actually kind of boring, at least to me personally, as they didn’t quite utilize on their settings or storylines. The action is solid, but nothing spectacular either.

As for its characters, they are the worst here. They aren’t horrible, but they are such bland, overly archaic and actually incredibly dull creations who were just pretty boring to follow on this journey. The characters definitely ruined it for me here.

The animation is pretty solid, especially for its time period. I especially liked some of the imagery and some planets and especially the ship were admittedly really well utilized with a number of interesting scenes and designs. I liked its colors and I mostly liked the looks of aliens and how the action was executed.

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Space Battleship Yamato Review

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The score is another highlight, really good and quite memorable. The sound design is very good and particularly the opening is strong and it fits so well with the show with its lyrics and the song’s style. The technical aspects are good here except for the attention to detail as the spacesuits look obviously like 70s clothes which was super distracting. And of course the pacing is bad and the show is actually pretty boring for the majority of its running time which is 26 episodes.

In the end, Space Battleship Yamato is a passable show with good animation and some good episodes, but with a wasted premise on boring and lifeless characters, too many similar and uneventful episodes and some pretty bad choices leading to a pretty big disappointment for me personally.

Worst Episodes: Yamato Sinks!, Yamato Braves Death, Certain Death!, Desperate Escape and Charge!

Best Episodes: The Opening Gun!, Farewell, Solar System!, Planet Beeland and Yamato Returns!

My Rating – 3.3

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Hunter x Hunter (Hunter Exam arc) Season 1 (2011)

Hunter x Hunter (Hunter Exam arc) Season 1 Review………………………………………………….

Hunter x Hunter (Hunter Exam arc) Season 1 Review

Hunter x Hunter is a 2011 adventure anime series directed by Hiroshi Kojina. It is one of my favorite anime series and I loved the first season so much.

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The art of hunting is aiming for the moment

when the target is busy hunting its prey!

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Hunter x Hunter (Hunter Exam arc) Season 1 Review………………………………………………….

I will later talk about the first season and touch upon some of its 26 episodes and the overall story arc, but first let’s talk about each and every character. Gon is such a great protagonist even though he is way too reminiscent to Goku. His cheerful and childlike personality is infectious and heartwarming and I really liked him in the first season. His interactions with his friends are excellent and he is such a wonderful kid.

Killua is interesting. At first, he seemed to be similar to Gon, but eventually we see his very dark side as he comes from the family of assassins. I wanted him to be closer to Kurapika and Leorio, but at least his and Gon’s friendship is wonderful and a lot of fun. Kurapika is a bit too calculated and forgettable when compared to the other three in this team, but he is still a good character though for now not as great as they are. And Leorio is a typical anime goofy sidekick, but done right as he is very amusing and I hope that he becomes stronger in the later seasons as he is trailing behind his friends too much for now.

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Hunter x Hunter (Hunter Exam arc) Season 1 Review………………………………………………….

Hisoka is excellent! Smart and incredibly powerful, yet also calm and crazy at the same time, he is the perfect villain for the show and his scenes were some of my favorites in season one. And his appearance is different than usual and interesting. Hanzo is very good, though not used too much in the season and Ponzu is very good and smart as the only female examinee. The examiners are all memorable and fun and the monsters and creatures we see by now are interestingly designed and quite memorable.

The Hunter Exam Arc is amazing and almost perfect (more on its flaws later). I just love all media that showcases schools/competitions/exams and thus I was loving every second of this saga and I hope to see at least some of its aspects in later arcs as well. The anime started off quickly and it instantly hooked me in. The fog part of the exam was so entertaining and Majority Rules was even more amusing (Tonpa is so well utilized there and he truly is annoying yet quite a memorable and well realized character).

Of course the fourth phase is the highlight as I just loved every minute of it. The episodes there are so well edited and constructed that it just might be the most important and perfect part of the entire anime, but I will have to wait to be sure of that. Hisoka and Gon’s scenes were absolutely spectacular in their intensity and I loved how he spared him and let him live to become stronger and fight him someday. Leorio had to be helped a bit too much which was my minor issue, but I loved how everyone worked together here.

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Hunter x Hunter (Hunter Exam arc) Season 1 Review………………………………………………….

The tournament started off great, but the decision to not show us the entirety of it was a very poor call and my only major issue with this entire arc. It ended off abruptly and not in the most satisfactory manner possible. And I wasn’t all that thrilled with the Killua’s family storyline at the end, but at least it had its great scenes and was an essential story when it comes to his character. His family is memorably crazy and sinister and although it started off a bit slowly, that part still ended in a good way and the tease for the next arc was awesome and I cannot wait to watch it.

The animation in Hunter x Hunter is excellent and fluid. I loved the imagery which was diverse and authentic while always being unforgettable. The world building is superb, but having in mind that the show is about hunters, the animals were not present as much in this first arc but I guess that will change in the next seasons. But the overall setup to the show was great, this world, its rules and everything I just loved and there are so many interesting details to be had here. It surely is a lot of fun to watch and finally I found an anime that is as fun and as charming as Dragon Ball was in its heyday.

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The score is excellent and the opening theme is definitely catchy and a lot of fun. The action is very good and sometimes even exhilarating, but I want much more of the fights and I hope I will get them later on. But for now those that I got were so well executed and hugely entertaining. The pacing of The Hunter Exam Arc is mostly great as is the dialogue and of course the humor is phenomenal. The anime mixes darkness with humor so well, but when it is funny, it is hilarious and the “tranny” part was so funny and of course the joke about Leorio’s age just killed me. The two fillers were unfortunate, but thankfully there will be no more.

All in all, The Hunter Exam arc is truly spectacular and one of the best seasons of any anime. If the rest of the show is this great, I am going to love every second of it. The storyline is carefully thought out here and filled with great action, humor and excellent characterizations. The exam phases are all excellent, the rules are interesting, this world is just wonderful and this season is almost perfect and it would have been perfect had it not been for a couple of evident, but small flaws.

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Worst Episodes: Trouble with the Gamble, Baffling Turn of Events, A Dangerous Watchdog and The Zoldyck Family.

Best Episodes: Hope and Ambition, Showdown on the Airship, Solution is Majority Rules, Scramble of Deception, Defeat and Disgrace and Can’t See if You’re Blind.

My Rating – 4.9

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