More from my never-ending Update Quest!
More than once, I’ve mentioned that my favourite eras of anime tend to be the 1980s and 1990s. However, the 2000s certainly contain many of my favourites as well. And so today I’m going to write about just one of those years – two thousand and six.
This post won’t have any structure, I guess (apologies!) – but I’ve got some facts and figures here, a bit of trivia and some ranked lists before I mention my own favs, all mixed in with the occasional general thought.
… And I think I’ll start with those stats (as per Wikipedia):
- 306 anime television programs produced.
- Sales of DVDs and Laserdiscs in Japan: 95 billion yen.
- Box Office earnings for The Girl Who Leapt Through Time: 300 Million Yen.
Seeing that number of shows produced, woah – you could nearly watch one a day for the entire year. In comparison, 2018 seems to have at least 260 produced and jumping back to 1982, it’s only 42 with about 15 of those films, not tv series.
Clear marker of massive growth!
Okay, now for some ranked lists from a few different places – sadly, finding historical lists was not possible based on the short amount time I spent on this search 😀
First, here’s one from IMDB focusing on 2006, which placed the following shows at the top:
- Aria the Natural (2006– )
- Code Geass (2006–2012)
- Black Lagoon (2006)
- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2006–2009)
- Negima! Magister Negi Magi (2006–2008)
And now MAL – last night when I checked over there, the all time ‘Top anime’ list contained two shows from 2006 inside its Top 50:
40: Code Geass
(I also saw Mushi-Shi a little further below, though the series started in 2005 and finished in ’06 so I’m not sure I should count it here.)
And two more sites I checked also feature familiar titles from 2006 in their favs – Anilist has Death Note at #3 whereas over at Anime-Planet the first entry for 2006 I found was Code Geass sitting at #43. Next up from the year in question was Death Note in position #96.
How about you – got a fav or two from 2006?
I can’t really disagree or agree too much with those lists, since I haven’t seen enough from each (although Death Note wouldn’t be so generally high for me). Obviously, none of my searching represents anything comprehensive. I’ve also missed a few titles, left off a few that I came across too, since I can’t mention 306 shows here 😀
But finally to my lists – these ones aren’t ranked, it’s mostly just things that I found interesting, favourite shows or ones I want to see.
So, based on my memory + the recent reading up on the year, and lists, it does seem that 2006 was dominated by the following two anime:
- Code Geass
- Death Note
But if I was sharing longer lists before, you could see that 2006 was also the year when the following titles were released/continued/wrapped up, many of which also remain fan favs today:
- Higurashi When They Cry
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society
- Aria the Natural (second season)
- Hellsing Ultimate (OVA 1 and OVA 2 I think)
- Hell Girl (finishing)
- Mushi-Shi (finishing)
And, there’s a whole host more, of course!
But in terms of anime from the year, ones that that I’m still chasing down, here are three on my list – and I’m ranging from ‘very keen’ to ‘curious’ about these:
- Ghost Slayers Ayashi
- The Wallflower
If you’ve seen any I’d love to hear if you’d recommended them!
At long last, here are my favourites from 2006, though I might have forgotten to include some. So far, I’ve reviewed only 5 here at the Heap, but I’ll include just a line or so about each now, before finishing up!
- The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
A huge film from Mamoru Hosoda – fun premise, memorable leads and everything looks great, of course. Is it old enough to call ‘classic’ yet?
- Intrigue in the Bakumatsu – Irohanihoheto
I haven’t seen a whole host of anime featuring travelling theatre groups, so this really caught my eye, in addition to the historical setting and supernatural elements.
- Ghost Hunt
More supernatural – mixing suspense and some comedy, though this single season leaves a lot up in the air, I still really liked it.
- Pumpkin Scissors
Sometimes compared to FMA, Pumpkin Scissors is a dark but not oppressive war-time anime following a small team of soldiers fighting injustice and corruption.
- Ergo Proxy
My all-time number 2 from my top ten – one of my favourite science-fiction works in any medium, I think.
- The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye
I also love adventure stories, and usually ones based on light novels or just novels in general, tend to have great plots and charactarisation. I’ve always found it interesting that The Third has a narrator.
- Black Lagoon
Girls with guns, but also crime drama + a SE Asian setting really makes this stand out for me. Over the top but that’s a definitely plus.
- Red Garden
I don’t see this one mentioned a whole lot, maybe because it’s aged visually? But it’s a supernatural crime show that once caught my eye, grim but engaging.
- Le Chevalier D’Eon
I think I’ve said this before, but this has one of the greatest first episodes I’ve seen in anime, though I did find myself struggling with the pacing at times. Still, swords and the supernatural 😀
Satoshi Kon’s Paprika is a superb psychological thriller, great science-fiction that looks great too and is far superior to the Christopher Nolan adaptation known as Inception.
Done! *wipes brow*
I’ve been working on this for a while and foolishly, I thought it’d be a ‘quick’ post but of course, I got carried away a bit.
In any event, how about for you – what stood out in 2006? Anything I haven’t mentioned here that’s worth investigating? Have you seen Ghost Slayers Ayashi, The Wallflower or Nana?
Hit me with thoughts on 2006!
Toward the Terra (1980)
I tend to really enjoy stories that feature big concepts – especially imaginings of the future, and Toward the Terra features both of those things.
While it’s a generational story that skips a few years here and there, the beginning especially gives us a look at an unsettling ‘utopia’, a place boasting order and health but a place where a character might say something like “I’m sick of boys, let’s get a girl next time” and this statement would be perfectly normal.
The repressive society featured in Toward the Terra isn’t the main focus precisely, but it is the structure that our Chosen One (Jomy) must rebel against.
Ultimately, the story is a far-future struggle between humans and Mu (Mu are humans who can use psychic powers) and while the film does feature space battles and struggles, it’s not so much a war between equal and opposing sides, it’s more like a brainwashed humanity seeking to commit genocide upon the Mu.
It can be pretty grim – and while the ‘80s designs and animation might not make some of those things seem as visceral as modern shows could, it’s still compelling.
For me, the time skips I mentioned before suggest that this adaption would have worked really well as a series (and twenty-seven years later maybe it does :D), allowing the story to further explore things like Jomy and Physis for one, but beside that and similar issues related to the huge story and limited running time, I enjoyed Toward the Terra plenty.
[Spoilers appear further below]
Two things bugged me about SoltyRei, although otherwise I really enjoyed the series – but I’ll get to those two storytelling issues in a moment.
SoltyRei has a lot of aspects that I tend to seek out in an anime; a futuristic setting, mechanised gear, even an android to go with the other science fiction tropes. It also features bounty hunting and conspiracy plotlines, and there are some moe elements that bring a fun balance, though I could see some folks making the argument that those aspects clash with the more serious bits.
The series is quite character-driven, featuring a fairly large cast, but remaining mostly focused on Roy’s compelling struggle as a father, along with Solty’s adjustment to human society. While the large cast means certain storylines rise and fall in terms of importance and screen time, they certainly do tie together in the end.
The anime has an episodic feel in terms of cases that the unlikely pair of Roy and Solty must solve (at first), but the main storyline does come to the fore quickly enough.
Tonally, there are a lot of lighter moments (it was fun seeing Solty learn to cook for example) and while her solo-travelling arc stood out too, it’s not wholly uplifting even if it was among my favourite episodes. Above all other elements, I think Roy figuring out how to take emotional risks once more was the thing that hooked me most. There you can see the classic ‘detective with a troubled past’ trope, but I’m one to dig anything vaguely film noir 🙂
I’m about to get to my two main issues, which will include spoilers, but firstly, the fan-service can present another drinking game opportunity if you’re watching the direction. (Partial spoilers right below too).
Before they kill off a few of the female characters, Gonzo and AIC never miss an opportunity to get the girls into showers, baths or pools. And if you do need to get drunk (to borrow that game from Irina) just take a drink each time there’s a low-angle panning up Rose’s legs or a shot framed to ensure Solty’s shapely butt is visible.
Okay! To the problems I mentioned earlier – I think I’m extremely forgiving when it comes to most shows, and I know that not everything I consider a fault is a deal-breaker (or even a problem) for each viewer, but I wanted to raise two character issues:
- Our villain, Ashley Lynx has a reason for being what he is, but that information is rushed in at the end, in time for his death scene. It seemed like this was done to evoke some last-minute sympathy – but I didn’t care about him so it didn’t land for me. Had some of this info been delivered earlier, I think his ending would have packed a punch – because there’s some sincere tragedy going on, but it ends up tied to a generic villain that doesn’t get the chance to be much more.
- Rose is presented in quite an inconsistent way for such a vital character. Her motivations are both contradictory and/or hidden from the audience at different times, making her actions seem bizarre instead of mysterious. And while things were half-explained retroactively, during the period where the audience was kept in the dark, I lost some interest in her future. (This obviously lessened the impact of the ending episodes for me).
- Half the time, as I watched her playing at villain I was thinking you have no reason to do this and you’re far too smart to fall for this tosh. And I remember thinking those things because previous episodes had taken some pains to establish Rose as clever and as having her own stubborn moral code. When she went ‘off-script’ for no reason, I didn’t find it intriguing, I found it an example of poor charactarisation – not the choice to have her essentially switch sides, but what I thought was a failure to present her motivation onscreen.
Now having spent all that time attacking the way important info about Rose was presented, I’ll also say that I reckon some things about her certainly are foreshadowed well.
Elsewhere, there were enough hints of upcoming things to keep me satisfied in that department overall, but for the anime as an entire story, I’m not sure whether my rating below is slightly reactionary.
For instance, I thought SoltyRei really was ‘great’… save for those two flaws, and so maybe my disappointment drives it down to ‘good’? I dunno, what’s in a rating, right?
(Again, the general sci-fi elements and Roy’s struggle were real highlights for me, in spite of the issues I mentioned above; in fact, those things rise above my doubts about the charactarisation in the end anyway – and there’s a great final episode too.)
Here I wanted to share a few more images and go over two things that I mentioned last post, in a tiny bit more detail. It seemed best not to have that post drag on any longer, and so this second post might be better.
First, I’ll include an example of the fight sequence style, second will be that ‘cracking’ effect and as it turns out there’s a “thirdly” further below too – I might just share some final random shots I liked.
So, this one is something you’ll see both Casshern and Lyuze do fairly often – leaping over enemies and tearing into them on the way down, and often wide shots aren’t the focus but instead it’s POV shots looking up.
The sequence will finish with the sliced-in-half moment, as another Redshirt robot bites the dust. (I should have included the preceding moment for this sequence, but it turns out I missed it).
These impact shots are always fun too.
For the second thing I wanted to note, a quick quote from the previous post:
(Sometimes the sharp, ‘snapping’ approach to the Ruin (for robots at least) made me wonder whether Land of the Lustrous and their shattering crystals were accidentally foreshadowed here, which was fun.)
It’s great detail but obviously these stills lack a bit of impact without motion or sound involved, but you get the idea.
And finally, just a few bits and pieces from different parts of the series with a note or two, mostly stuff I wanted to include before but again, I didn’t want that first post to run forever.
Not precisely the villain, but definitely one of the bad guys, Braiking Boss in his 2008 form and classic form below.
And there we go – second post on Casshern Sins completed!
One day, I’ll link back here when I’ve found and seen the 1973 series, or perhaps I’ll be able to locate the OVA from the 90s first.
Moody stuff from this reboot of the 1973* anime; a bleak, quiet series that still has a steady stream of battles but which divided fans upon release.
I know that changing the tone (and also canonical story elements) with a reboot can be risky, but without having seen the original, I basically accepted the anime ‘as is’, though I could see the influence of the past on the character design for sure.
But it’s time to get to the premise – which is, the overpowered robot Casshern wanders a wasteland that is falling further into ruin, a ruin that he created, but cannot remember. On top of this, nearly everyone wants to kill him because they believe it will save them from the relentless decay.
It’s a grim story full of desperate folks, shown in shadow or washed out colours, contrasted by the brightness of a few key characters, mostly Ringo. I was pretty much enchanted, which is an odd word perhaps, considering what I’ve just described, but I was hooked by the visuals and also the need for Casshern to succeed, to make things better.
Earlier in the review, I mentioned that there were a lot of battles but it’s not precisely an action-heavy series. In addition to the destruction of many, many robots, the anime features an equal or higher share of silences, wandering, or characters facing off with their stares as much as anything else. It’s dramatic, and that drama is matched by the direction or at least, shot composition, with all the extreme close-ups being fish-eyed, and plenty of silhouette shots too.
More, the drama continues via the stylised, at times samurai-like combat, which ranges from ‘single slash’ to ‘slow-motion-acrobatic’. I think it’s very much about maintaining the graceful aesthetic that the slender characters posses. On a vaguely related not, it’s interesting that Lyuze has less of the ‘70s vibe of others, and more a 2000s ‘urban’ costume.
Time to switch to dot points, I think:
- Staying with the action sequences a moment, many are quick, to show Casshern’s dominance, but the first struggle against Dio is great, it had the most tension for me – more so than their final encounter.
- Luna is a pretty great villain, an extremely selfish thing that operates almost on reactionary whim, which makes her a fantastic false prophet in a way.
- Ringo is almost unbearably bright and cute – and thus very welcome, a very necessary character that brings balance, I reckon.
- One of my favourite characters is Dune, but I have a bit of trivia instead of a note about the character. I found it interesting that same voice actor is behind both Dune and Akoes – but more so, it is the criminally underrated Yūto Nakano, whom I instantly recognised as ‘Ginko’ from Mushi-Shi.
- Sometimes the sharp, ‘snapping’ approach to the ruin (for robots) made me wonder whether Land of the Lustrous and their shattering crystals were accidentally foreshadowed here, which was fun.
- Character design was a real stand out for me across the series – there’s the extreme grace of the key robots like Casshern, Dio, Leda and Lyuze etc, but the ‘redshirt’ robots are far blockier, far more 70s but in a different way. Sometimes, I got a Code Geass feel too, especially due to the prominence of triangles, and with some of the more insectoid looks.
- There’s an episode for Lyuze that’s kinda odd, but I think I see mostly what it was going for with her internal struggle.
- Across the whole of Casshern Sins, the episodic wandering half feels like it contains more of my favourite moments, like those with singer Janice or Margo the painter perhaps.
- Because it’s ultimately a dystopian show, there’s that loss of ‘humanity’ which turns the desperate into the animalistic, and really adds to the bleakness. However, when I think about contrasting scenes with bright, more vivid colours (often featuring flowers and general cuteness) these moments are often undercut by the menace of fear – my worry for Ringo or other innocents.
- And further, there’s a fantastically melancholy soundtrack, which is beautiful but has a similar function to underscore the threat of the ruin, the transient nature of everything in Casshern’s world.
- Transience is definitely a key theme, and how different characters deal with that knowledge, whether it’s a more gentle approach like Ohji or a more pitiful – and probably contemptible one – like with Leda.
To finish at last, I want to mention the ending – because Casshern Sins is definitely about robots fighting, but it’s also a redemption quest that doesn’t quite work out the way I was expecting, which was great.
There are a few ‘final’ fights in those last episodes but the real climax is actually Casshern’s promise to Luna, which I won’t spoil, but it’s an extremely satisfying close to the anime’s theme, even if it isn’t an all-guns blazing conclusion.
* One day I’d like to compare the two eras, especially because I think it’ll be a stark contrast.
[Turns out I have more than one post in mind for Casshern Sins, so I’ll link it here but it’s mostly because I took too many screencaps (as usual!). In the post, I’ll go over a few things I mention here, I think, like the ‘shatter effect’ and some of the combat or small things I didn’t include here.]
And so, here are the contestants for update post #3:
Spriggan (Supurigan) 1998
So! I was stunned to learn that Netflix is creating a series for Spriggan and that it’s due next year.
I think you could argue that it suits their action/sci-fi-heavy anime catalouge, but I guess I’m still surprised that Spriggan, which seems kinda ‘forgotten’ maybe, would be picked. In any event, I’m definitely looking forward to it because I think there’s room to expand the story, as compared to this 1998 film adaptation of Hiroshi Takashige’s manga.
And this is most certainly a film for action fans.
Spriggan is packed full of blistering, superhero-style battles and action sequences (even a touch of DBZ in there at times) and before you (maybe) groan at the idea of another schoolkid with unrealistic abilities, Spriggan does address that seeming oddity.
To very quickly talk premise: the story features two powerful groups vying for control over a world-altering artefact, with young hero Yu taking the lead as the top agent tasked with preventing misuse of said artefact.
For Studio 4°C this is quite opposite in tone etc to a latter film like Children of the Sea (which is the most recent comparative text I’ve seen) but the same level of care and attention to detail appears onscreen, with some cracking action sequences, as I mentioned above. Among the best I’ve seen in any anime.
Now, most folks seem to have problems with the story, and it does take a backseat to the action but it’s not like the plot is wildly swinging from one idea to another. Instead, maybe it’s just that a few important things (like Yu’s past, perhaps) don’t get a whole lot of screentime.
Katsuhiro Otomo was involved as a supervisor, and maybe you might then think of Akira in superficial ways (mind powers and sci-fi in general) but Spriggan is definitely closer to an American action film, fast-paced, violent and even far-fetched.
All the things that made it fun, perhaps.
A little similar to my ‘Abandoned’ posts I thought I’d do a second ‘Maybe’ one – though this time it’s doubling as a seasonal sampling kinda thing, I suppose 🙂
So I’ve seen episode one (or two) of each of these four shows and have yet to decide which I’ll keep going with. Well, it’d probably more accurate to say, which I’ll watch weekly, which I’ll save for later, and which one I’ll do write-ups on episode-per-episode.
(As I mentioned before, I don’t think I can keep up with reviewing two seasonal shows each week).
I’ve been hoping that there would be a science-fiction/action show this season and Akudama Drive seems like a cyberpunk feast when it comes to the visuals – though I’ve chosen a deceptively happy split second from the episode.
This feels like it will be way over the top, though at this incredibly early stage I don’t yet have a reason to get invested with most of the cast.
Moriarty the Patriot
As this is a detective show, I’ll probably give it a shot at least for a few more episodes. The idea that Holmes’ nemesis was once fighting for the unfortunate is fun, so I enjoyed this opening episode.
Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina
I think this will be more generally cute stuff amongst episodic storytelling, more so than say, something like Kiki’s Delivery Service or Little Witch Academia – which certainly doesn’t disqualify it for me.
However, two episodes in and I think I’ll save this to watch every now and then, rather than each week.
I quickly got a sense that this would have a large scale, from the opening shots, and there is a lot going on – in a good way. I could probably watch this weekly but maybe I won’t write about it each time, to manage my time better. (Based on a video game, which doesn’t automatically mean it will be a poor show by any means).
Anything caught your eye for this season? (There are a few shows on CR that I can access (just not so easily via web, compared to if I had the app) but I haven’t listed them here).