Yeah I had to follow through with this one, it wouldn't feel right if I didn't, so lets go. *Updated 30th August 2014 - New picture, honorable mentions and new entry*
Professor Layton & the Eternal Diva: This film was surprisingly good and mixes in the video game elements surprisingly well.
Fatal Fury: Somehow manages to be half decent despite being extremely cheesy
Variable Geo: An anime about fighting waitresses, nuff said. Still too cheesy for an actual place in the top ten.
10. Sakura Wars
This would've been so much higher if the dubs weren't so terrible. Steampunk mecha with a set of lovely ladies in the most fashionable military outfits ever made, stay tuned later on as reviews of the OVAs, Film & Series are to come.
9. Viewtiful Joe
The animation style is very Americanized yet it works like a charm very much in the same way as Gainax do with Panty & Stocking. It wasn't perfect but offered new art direction than the typical anime style used since the 90s & 00s.
8. Final Fantasy Unlimited
Sadly Advent Children is disqualified for technically not being an anime, sorry I just don't count it as one; however Final Fantasy Unlimited makes up for it being missing. It makes a change to see a Final Fantasy that doesn't involve pretty boys or a link to Final Fantasy VII, it deserves to stand on it's own. Now if I can just find a boxset, I'll be in business.
7. Anything by Key
Not my cup of tea but every series adapted from the games is still a beautiful watch and highly emotional and will leave a mark on your heart for years to come.
6. Inazuma Eleven
I never thought an RPG based on Soccer would do so well as an anime series, I still really enjoy watching those killer moves and if I see one I usually see all of them. This series is a good lesson in spectacle.
5. Fate/Stay Night
Apart from a few lines of terrible dialogue, Fate/Stay Night can definitely stand up to the big wigs of anime. With a host of memorable characters and some interesting bits of history it's more than enough to satisfy the shonen crowd.
4. Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie
Never has a franchise gone through so many changes in fortune, but Street Fighter's animated film is the best were ever going to see for a fighting game adaption, it gives us exactly what we expect and it only takes the first few minutes of Ryu & Sagat's battle to get us hooked.
3. Persona 4
New entry for this old list, an array of intense story telling with equally intense character writing mixed with one of the finest art styles in recent years makes for a near perfect anime.
2. Sengoku Basara
Capcom has far too many awful habits for my liking but Sengoku Basara was the dark horse of my anime watching last year, it's over the top, historically skewed and awesome, enough to make you want to cry "Your Lordship!"
1. Pokemon: The 1st season & the Diamond & Pearl series
How can I not put Pokemon down, it's anime perfection and built the lives of so many otaku. A natural blend of endless art set in a universe of unique creatures; Pokemon will remain with anime fans until the end of time. A lot of people will argue that Pokemon has not been good since Johto, but Diamond & Pearl was the only saga that came close to the original formula.
So that's your lot, some surprises and some no surprises, you be the judge.
When I last did an OVA, it was rubbish, a putrid mess of an anime that should never have been made, but with this one, despite being in the same category of anime about Motor Racing as previous entry Circuit Angel, this one comes out as actually half decent. This is my review of Goddamn.
Gen Todoroki is a Rally driver with some terrible luck, he pretty much crashes every Rally Car he drives and some how walks away from it, however a big conglomerate known as Seiou hires Gen to be one of their Rally Drivers for the Safari Rally in Kenya, with no money to travel home, Gen reluctantly accepts the contract and proceeds to training in the Mountains of Monte Carlo.
During his test runs he comes across a renegade woman named Cotti, who escapes her school and nearly gets run off the road during a race with Gen.
After completing the test he then goes to the Safari Rally but crashes in the first stage, this leads to a change in Co-Driver as he requests African Rov Lowe over the other co-driver Dick Van Dyke. (Yes those are the real names)
After a few hairy moments later on including a plunge off a cliff and surviving a potential car pile up, Gen and his teammate achieve 6th & 3rd place respectively but their Rallying is over when the higher ups pull the plug on the Rally venture leaving Gen with nothing, the OVA ends with some words of encouragement from Gen to his ex boss.
So that's Goddamn, named for the curse words Gen uses when he crashes and it's actually half decent. The attention to detail along with the research that went into the subject matter was plain to see. As a fan of motor racing, I researched the actual 1990 World Rally Championship to see how many mistakes were made and to my surprise not one was made, every Rally Car that was drawn in this anime was actually used for that year's championship. I shouldn't really be surprised, Noboru Furuse is used to drawing cars having done art directives for Ex-Driver and Initial D two more prominent car anime.
While I can appreciate the racing and the high attention to detail on the cars, I can't get into the politics that goes alongside the main story, it's distracting and doesn't add anything to the spectacle, other than that, Goddamn is quite entertaining and fills a gap between major series or as a taster at an Anime Society.
There is no dub as licensing issues on the cars and advertisements would've been a problem in the west, even in Japan you can only find a VHS release.
That's a video tape for those currently younger than 20 years old.
It's relatively easy to find on Youtube as well.
Final Verdict: Goddamn is fun and the attention to detail can easily be well appreciated by the most avid car fanatic but poor plot structuring and over reliance of politics to drive the story spoils it. I still recommend a watch though.
Journey to the West is a classic of Chinese Literature and anime has been known to adapt it into many forms, today's review is one of these forms as I review Saiyuki as written by Kazuya Minekura.
The story is about a monk named Genjo Sanzo who through fate is joined alongside three demons consisting of the Monkey King Son Goku, the half demon Sha Gojyo and the man turned demon Cho Hakkai; their mission as ordained by the heavens is to travel to India to stop the resurrection of the Demon Ox King Gyumaoh, along the way they must fight numerous malevolent demons along with dealing with their tragic pasts and in some of the slower episodes just general goofing off; the journey would normally be on foot but for some reason Cho Hakkai's Dragon, Jeep can become an actual road worthy Jeep, so the entire series is one big road trip and that's where it loses it's value.
Don't get me wrong, this depiction of the Saiyuki four is by far the most Badass to ever be conceived but after so many episodes they still haven't sorted out Gyumaoh, not Minekura's fault as health has been an issue but the franchise has faded somewhat in popularity in recent years, in fact I became too exhausted watching the series to warrant continuing beyond the Gensoumaden and Reload series.
For what it's worth, the fact that the cast in this Saiyuki is led by a chain smoking monk, a womanizing kappa demon, a pig demon with a drivers license and a Monkey King with a serious meat bun addiction, does make a change from the alternatives we've had over the years which also includes Dragonball, and that's what makes this series special, it had the balls to take a classic story and give it the anime makeover it really deserved in an era (Late 90s, Early 00s) desperately needing some originality beyond taking a well known warrior class like Pirate or Ninja and making it awesome.
Yeah it's too long, the drama gets too heavy, the so called final boss is never actually fought and having two different dubs is relatively off putting, but you still enjoy what's on offer regardless.
Final Verdict: Saiyuki is lots of fun and by far it's best depiction in anime but it's length is intimidating and can be tiring to watch after a while, so only watch/read to it's current chapter if you're committed to finishing the story.
Now we come to an anime that's not afraid to bare all for it's viewers, it's time for High School DxD.
The story begins at a girls school turns co-education for unknown reasons but it's not important. We focus on the life of Issei Hyodo, a typical high school pervert but as it usually is with these ecchi harem type anime, he's apparently got a good heart.
Luck seems to hit him early on when he ends up on a date with a girl but ends up being killed by said girl as she reveals herself to be a fallen angel. Issei gets revived by the lovely red haired devil Rias but in exchange he becomes a devil as well, although this isn't a bad thing as he also finds out he has a cool power he never knew he had and the fallen angels want it.
After a few battles, Issei joins the Gremory household as a pawn alongside other devils that assist Lady Rias, all of which have nicknames of chess pieces as it follows a strong chess motif, this also includes a former nun named Asia Argento who joins after the first half of season one. In the second half of season one Issei beats down a noble devil to reclaim Rias from an arranged marriage; there are two more seasons after this.
Now when this anime began, I was skeptical because it was going to be another one of those shows like Akikan where you have an obvious pervert with a good heart but the lead female is the ultimate tsundere but this time we don't get that from Rias and thank god for it, otherwise this show would suck.
Saying that it does take a while to get going but once you get stuck in, you're left wanting more by the time Season one ends.
Yes it plays a lot of shameless ecchi moments, and never shys away from showing full frontal nudity, well the DxD does refer to breast size after all; but as a bonus we get decent action, mostly well written characters and a story that rarely resorts to horrid cliches. The music is incredible and the dubbing is really well done and we even get a few comedy references from other anime. My only question is, can it manage to avoid the dreaded curse of Season 2 downfall? Well we'll find out at a later date.
Final Verdict: While looking like a typical show of it's genre, High School DxD manages to surprise it's doubters by focusing on the action and plot with the bonus of ecchi. This is one ecchi where you can feel proud to say "I watch it for the plot"
Yesterday we lost a comedy legend, the great and charismatic Robin Williams; and today's Cartoon Vault review looks at one of the animated features he starred in, Ferngully The Last Rainforest.
In a Rainforest in Australia, fairies have lived for centuries away from the world of humans and it is believed that humans are extinct thanks to a demonic being named Hexxus, that is until Crysta out of curiosity discovers that humans could in fact still be around as she sees in a distance black smoke coming from Mt Warning. Along with Batty, a deranged fruit bat who has escaped a science lab, they go and investigate the black smoke to find some humans cutting down the Rainforest; through a sudden reaction to a falling tree, Crysta shrinks a human male named Zak and along with Batty go on a crazy adventure which involves escaping the local wildlife, teaching the fairies human culture such as cheesy 90s music and going through the compulsory love scene between the lead characters with Batty providing the comic relief perfectly executed by Robin Williams.
Unfortunately a tree Zak accidentally sprayed earlier is in fact the tree Hexxus is sealed in, which is promptly cut down, releasing the rather flamboyant smog monster Hexxus, voiced by Tim Curry. By using the bulldozer to his advantage, Hexxus lays waste to the Rainforest but the fairy folk not willing to see their home destroyed, combine powers left by the elder fairy as well as having Zak stop the machine in order to end Hexxus' rampage. But before he can be defeated for good, Hexxus leaves us a sinister piece of Nightmare fuel as he transforms into a skeleton with a body of oil but when he consumes Crysta he's then consumed by a new sacred tree which finally puts an end to Hexxus.
Crysta comes out alive, resizes Zak and takes her place as the new leader of the fairies and so ends Ferngully.
Now this film is obviously a "Save the Rainforest" kinda film, during a time where supporting such a campaign was fashionable but it becomes a bit skewed when the fairies make growing new trees look easy, even in the face of a monster like Hexxus who looks like the personification of pollution that Captain Planet would be proud to fight. The plot struggles to get the message across and the experiences in the first half of the movie are confusing and add nothing to the story, in fact this film would be a write off if not for Robin Williams' performance as Batty to give us some brilliant comedy moments.
Robin Williams can create some bizarre characters whether it be the Scottish cross dressing nanny Mrs Doubtfire or the Blue Genie of Aladdin, if you removed these characters from the equation of their respective films then I doubt any of these films would see success and Ferngully is no exception.
"Cause you're only given a little spark of madness, and if you lose that, you're nothing" - Robin Williams 1951-2014 RIP