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I've watched so many series last year, I think I'm going to make a separate post for the liveaction shows.

The Awesome
Natsume Yuujinchou (S1&2): The very good adaptation of one of my favourite fantastique shoujo manga. Here's hoping to a third season!
Mononoke: Gorgeous art and chilling historical horror at its best.
Michiko e Hatchin: Action road movie series about a young badass orphan girl and a female gangster on the run in Brazil of some years back. This one really caught my heart.
Black Lagoon (S1&2): Comparable to Michiko e Hatchin with original setting and many badass female characters, this one has slightly less "heart" and compensates for it with gonzo action & dark existential musings.
Mushishi: Sublime historical supernatural cases stories!
Baccano!: Tarantinesque action & narrative deconstruction meet alchemical immortality in the 30's. Woohoo!
Aoi Hana: High school f/f romance & slice of life at its best, served by beautiful animation.
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0: Poignant catastrophe story.

The Good
Shion no Ou: Murder mystery meets Japanese Chess series, excellent plotting served by a break neck pacing.
Spice and Wolf (S1&2): Fantasy with a focus on economics & the relationship between a wandering merchant and a trickster wolf goddess.
Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood (on going): A pretty good adaptation of an excellent manga series; after a few clumsy first episodes it really took its strides and really delivered in the high points of the storytelling so far.
Ghost Hunt: Extremely solid supernatural case stories with endearing regular characters.
Ghost Hound: Horror & mystery series with a great creepy atmosphere and excellent characterisation.
Kodomo no Omocha (on going): An adorable and very funny old shoujo series (from the 90's) about an hyperactive ten years old child actress and her day to day life. I've been stuck in the middle of this one because I couldn't find good subtitled version of the episodes after ep 40 ;_;
Taishou Yakyuu Musume: Adorable and well crafted comedy series about a female baseball team in the 20's.
Le Chevalier d'Eon: Swashbuckling meets alchemical zombies meets esoteric conspiracies meets genderfuck in 18th century Europe.
Sasameki Koto: Well crafted High school comedy & f/f romance with very endearing characters.
Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann: Reconstruction of the mecha genre. Even for someone like me who rather hates the genre this show is a love letter too, this series stood out as pretty awesome and communicative in enthusiasm.
Towards the Terra: Epic old school space opera with psychic powers.

The Okay
Ristorante Paradiso: One of the two series I finished watching this year which I failed to write a review of (oops). A slice of life show around a restaurant in Rome which focus on, err, fetishizing old men with glasses. I'm a bit at a loss about what to say about it, it's no unpleasant to watch and rather refreshing in its originality, but it was strongly lacking in plot and characterisation.
Kazemakase Tsukikake Ran (on going): A female samurai and a female kung fu warrior wander Japan and fight crime injustice. I'm only 2 episodes from the ending. It's a rather charming chambara show despite some weakness of the episodic plots and the way the sidekick is mostly used as the butt monkey of the story.
Requiem for the Phantom: Noir story about assassins, a little bit overdone and with some flaws, but still decent enough overall in terms of story and characters.
Rental Magica (on going): I'm halfway through this urban fantasy stories about a team of Magicians for hire. Pretty slim characterisation and plots, but the magical system is interesting at least.

The Mediocre
Kannazuki no Miko: Mecha & magical girl series plagued by a horrible lead and trying too hard for fetish tropes.
Daughter of 20 Faces: Great female Phantom Thief premise undercut by terrible storytelling.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya S2: Repetitive sequel :p (worst time loop story ever)

Mixed Feelings ones
Ayakashi: Japanese Ghost Stories: Classical horror stories anthology of very uneven qualities.
Sayonara Zetsubuou Sensei (S1&S2): The other anime series I finished watching (well, up to the season season at least) which I failed to review. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is tough to describe... imagine South Park with better art and more fanservice? Dark&morbid humour, parody, puns & gorgeous animation meet in a crackful fest around the class of the weirdest high school students of Japan and their suicidal teacher. First season is pretty good (if frequently offensive), but the second loses most of its charm and originality.
Bakemonogatori (on going): Interesting graphics and supernatural cases stories but undermined by harem dynamics & disturbing fanservice.
Kemonozume: Weird supernatural love story with a dark and ironic atmosphere. Pretty good up through the surrealist ending. Gets prop for originality and art.
Simoun: Steampunk war story in a genderfucked world; a great setting and characterisation but too many flaws of pacing and storytelling.
Spiral: It's hard to decide if a mystery focussed series is good or bad WHEN THERE IS NO ENDING! (grrr)

The ones I dropped
Fate/Stay Night: Contemporary magical tournament for the Graal of teams of one Magician and one Heroes of Legend servant. So many bad sides to this one... a terrible lead character, annoying harem dynamics, bad graphism and animation. On the other hand one of the female lead is made of awesome and has great snarky interaction with her own servant. In the end i gave it up when I read some spoilers about more of the world/story. It's just... not my kind of stuff.
Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji: A very weird series about a desperate loser taking part in gambling tournaments in hope of winning enough money to repay his debts. Very idiosyncratic in style, so it gets prop for originality and for trying for interesting themes about the darkness of human nature and hope one can have nevertheless; although the pacing was sometimes very annoying and oddly enough has zero female characters. I dropped it because I'm depressed enough in my life, I don't need a show to increase my anxiety level. XD
Eureka Seven: Surfing mecha shows. Pretty intriguing setting and overall story, but I got annoyed by the lead - obligatory 14 year old boy - and how everything in the story is focussed on him and his romance with obligatory Emotionless girl, and all the relatively cool secondary characters only get to play peanut gallery to his antics. Bad pacing too.
Kemono no Souja Erin: Coming of age fantasy. Dropped it after 6 episodes because it seemed to much built as a children show; but with the superlative reviews I've seen of it lately, I think I'll probably pick it up again.

The not sure yet
Ergo Proxy (on going): Post apocalyptic/cyberpunk mystery. I'm a bit more than halfway through and it's a pretty interesting stories if a bit tough to get into at first. My final opinion will depend a lot of the ending and how it resolves of the mystery, but it'll probably be at least "good".
Legend of Galactic Heroes (on going): Very old, very epic, and very long Space Opera drama series. I'm in the middle of S2 on a total of 4 seasons (not counting the movies and side stories). It's really good, with excellent characters, plotting and political intrigue and battle scenes, with most of the flaws I can blame on the age of the series (mid 80s to early 90s).
Bokurano (on going): Deconstruction of the humongous mecha genre, with a lot of death and character exploration. It's been pretty good so far, although I'll need to compare it to the manga sometimes.
Kobato (on going): CLAMP's latest slice of life/supernatural adaptation. Cute and pretty pleasant to watch so far.
Armed Librarians of Bantorra (on going): Action/mystery series in a weird diesel punk world where everyone leaves a "book" (a stone tablet than can be read by touch) behind them when they die. So far I have mixed feelings: animation is pretty bad and characters are somewhat clicheed but the storytelling has been pretty good and the setting is intriguing.
Aoi Bungaku (on going): Anthology adaptation of Japanese Literature classics. So far what I've seen has been stylistically awesome, but the source material is seldom to my taste.

NB:
- on going means I'm still in the process of watching it, not that it's still being broadcasted. Although, in some cases, it is still being broadcasted.
- Links go to my reviews of the series, when I made one




Total series: 41 (well shit)
Best series overall: Mushishi
Best Male Lead: Natsume
Best Female Lead: Michiko
Best Art/Character Design: Mononoke
Best Animation: Baccano!
Best Plot: Baccano!
Best Storytelling: Mushishi
Best Soundtrack: Mushishi

See the recap of the year before
salinea: (Default)
All right, enough with the slacking!

Ghost Hunt



Young teenage girl Mai likes telling ghost stories with her friends. Someday a supernatural investigation is launched at her high school, and after a mishap where the assistant investigator is injured, she finds herself replacing him in helping 17 year old head investigator Naru (short for Narcissist, due to his charming and remarkably humble personality, nicknamed by Mai and everyone followed up through on that ^_^) in this investigation an later on taking on a part time job officially at the Shibuya Psychic Research Center.

Adapted from a series of light novels by Fuyumi Ono (aka the writer of 12 Kingdoms), Ghost Hunt is made by a series of a few episodes long case stories. The cases are pretty classical haunting and ESP based stories, and never very surprising, but all very solidly told in terms of pacing, atmosphere and storytelling and as a result very successfully enjoyable and entertainingly creepy, each one better than the previous one. They also manage well to be credibly build their world in a way that made me want to reach for my Second Sights book to play nWoD: Ghost Hunters, if you see what I mean.

There's also a definite appeal to the cast dynamics. Naru is a pretty amusing character - a rather antisocial, extremely intelligent, exigent and dry-witted young man - and he plays up to Mai - your ordinary cheerful high school girl with a spine and lots of natural curiosity - in a very entertaining way. The secondary characters - we've got a kind hearted Australian Catholic priest, a laid-back and fashionable Buddhist monk, a Shinto priestess with a bad temper, a famous Medium girl with a traditional demeanour; and Naru's protective and laconic assistant - also all have their appeal and their moment to shine.

Although it's not show where i can point out one thing and say : "this is why it's awesome", I really enjoyed watching it all the way through, it's just solid and well done overall. The animation is also excellent and very fluid, and the musical atmosphere quite good.

One of the only bad point i have against it is that the series ended short of adapting one of the key reveal from the light novel, which I had to go find out on the internet (there's manga adaptation which does go until there, for the curious) - and it's a shame because that's one reveal that made me even more interest in the characters and their relationship.

Ghost Hound



In a small village, eleven years go, Taro and his older sister were kidnapped and imprisoned in the disaffected hospital beneath the dam, and when their kidnapper died unexpectedly when he was chased by the police, it was three days before they were found. Taro's sister was dead then. Nowadays he's a 14 years old boy whose whole family is still trying to get over the trauma of what happened. When a new boy from Tokyo, Masayuki, who likes asking uncomfortable questions spurs Taro and another boyfrom the village, Makoto, whose father may have been involved in the kidnapping before killing himself; to go back together to the deserted hospital in an effort to exorcise their fear and the mysteries from the past, they all end up having an Out of Body Experience, opening up to the Unseen World.

All right, as you see it's not exactly a simple premises, it's got a lot of texture, a lot of interesting and intriguing details interwoven thematically. The pacing is pretty slow, but it's got gripping atmosphere served by some of the most creepy sound effect I've ever seen. The characters are all very well realised and compelling. They play onto your average anime archetypes, yet feel much more realistic (and flawed) than that, while still ending up making you feel concerned with them. The somewhat claustrophobic setting in a small village where everyone knows everyone also works great.

In terms of the main mystery, I found the end of the story a bit of a disappointment, with a rather anticlimactic ending which didn't end up solving as much as I hoped it would. In fact, the true emotional climax of the story is three episodes before the actual ending, playing up to the psychological and character development which was the true highlight of the story. Despite the disappointment in the overall story, it's still got some really effective ideas, mixing psychological, quantum physic, biological and mythological concepts from right and left and building up a fascinating tension, interweaving characters and thematics in a great way.

The animation and graphics are top notch, and a pleasure to see. I love how they designed the Unseen World, full of old extinct species done with very lovely CGI. I really love the OP, too.


The main characters from Ghost Hound : sweet and cute Taro, nosy and cocky Masayuki, troubled boy with an attitude Makoto, and Miyako, a sensible elementary school girl and daughter of the local Shinto priest who sometimes gets possessed.

(so yes, I did review the two Horror anime with very similar names together on purpose ^_^)

February 2016

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