An Important Message from Japan #7

22 07 2008

News coming in on the wire!

16

Stop.





Gundam 00 Review

22 05 2008


Studio: Sunrise
Genre: Gundams, Gundams, Gundams
Episodes: 25

Warning: This review contains words which might be construed as spoilers by some.

What the fuck is a Gundam anyway? Wait, i’ll look it up… General Unilateral Neuro-Link Dispersive Autonomic Maneuver System? That doesn’t spell gundam…it spells gundams. Well anyway, Gundams 00 is a show about Gundams’s. I should probably mention my history with the gundams, just to make it clear that I am not one of those people who can identify every gundam model by silhouette. The first thing gundam related I saw was the first episode of Gundam Seed, and it was a very confusing experience. My mind was not prepared for the majesty that is gundam related entertainment. I watched all of Seed, and it’s sequel Gundam Seed Destiny. I then attempted to watch the original show Mobile Suit Gundam but stopped watching because it was boring or something. Oddly I found myself very pleased to discover that Gundam 00 was being made and that I would soon be able to view it with my eyes.

Since 1979 there has been almost continous stream of gundam things coming out. 616 anime episodes split among over 21 properties, and more than 12 films. Apparently the whole brand is worth 5 billion yen (250 million british pounds). Thats crazy madness, and admittedly very daunting as a person trying to understand what the hell it’s all about. In that regard, it’s worth knowing that each show is quite a separate entity. For example, this show Gundam 00 does not share anything in common with any other Gundam show except that there are gundams in it. There are some shows which are connected, these are identifiable by the fact that everyone in them refers to years in the same manner (ie. Universal Century, Cosmic Era)


Yes, that’s totally a gundam.

It’s worth asking the question, Why the hell is it so popular? An answer would be “Giant Robots? I dunno”. Another slightly more accurate answer would be that it taps into the same part of the brain as Star Trek did, but for the Japanese. Gundam shows are probably a lot more political than you would expect. Usually the universe has been divided into a bunch of different countries and their conflicts. Also there’s usually a baddie who wears a mask. Japan as a country also doesn’t seem to feature prominently in any of the shows I have seen. The theme of the each series seems to be vaguely analogous to what’s going on in the international headlines currently, and they deal with touchy subjects such as racism and unexpected amputation, that sort of thing. Gundam 00 is about terrorism and the effects of a global energy crisis which they solved by building millions of solar panels in orbit roung the planet, but that ruined a lot of countries only export and it all went tits up.

In the future there are three countries, the Union (which is America, Australia and Japan), the League (China, Russia and India), and the AEU (basically Europe). Coming along to mess things up is the ridiculously named Celestial Being, a group of people with the mandate of waging a war to end wars (with gundams). Continuing the theme of having dodgy names, the four pilots of the gundams are Setsuna F Seiei, Tieria Erde, Lockon Stratos, and Allelujah Haptism. Yes, Allelujah Haptism. Actually, they code-names which makes it a little less dumb. Main character Setsuna is a little Kurdish tyke who got himself involved with local civil wars and a youngster. He sort of fits the mold of angstish teen that you might expect in a Gundam show, but oddly he gets very little screen time. There are so many characters and plots going on simultaneously that no one element of it ever gets overplayed.


Setsuna F. Seiei, seemingly pretending to be Solid Snake

The bods of Celestial being are enacting the 200 year old plan of one Aeolia Schenberg, who wanted to unite the world somehow. He also invented the mysterious Solar Furnace drives that the gundams use that makes them continuously fart out fairydust. Whenever war doth occur, Celestial Being show up in their overpowered robots and total both sides. Their plan is to do this until no more war occurs. It’s a solid plan, and I like it. Also, they obey this big computer called Veda who tells them what to do. Yes, the plan is retarded, but that’s part of the point. Everyone is like “A war to end war? That’s sort, you know, stupid!” so you can’t make fun of that if you were about to.

In most Gundam shows, the opponents of the main characters can usually put up a bit of a fight, but in this show most of their opponents respond to almost anything any of the gundams do by exploding. This makes these gundams seem more like Super Robots than Real Robots, if you get the difference. Anyway, the three countries of course don’t like being messed with very much, and start trying to build robots good enough to not explode whenever a Gundam flies over them, and are largely unsuccessful. In the later half of the show some enemies that are more of a threat emerge, and the characters seem very put out that they actually have to put some effort into their giant robot piloting, the lazy sods.


Aeolia Schenberg declaring the war on war

The cast is far to vast to list, but there are some good memorable characters. Being a gundam show, it looks really really good. Sunrise pride themselves as not stooping so low as to use CG to render robots fights. Sunrise employs humanity’s foremost experts at drawing gundams, and they are not eager to be put out of the job by computers, so they dutifully get out their rulers, compasses and sextants in order to bring us some of the best animated robots possible. This series was aired in HD which makes it look even more better than any previous gundams. There isn’t an enormous amount more detail on characters, but the background paintings and detail within scenes is truly astonishing. Music ain’t so bad either, especially the first ending song, and the second intro song which is very excellent:


HD version

Most gundam shows hover around the 50 episode mark, but this one went for the much more restrained 25 episodes and managed a much tighter narrative because of it. There is supposed to be another season coming along after Sunrise stop making Code Geese R2 which is good. Though this season did have a mostly satisfactory ending so it’s not entirely necessary. The ending was actually pleasantly bleak. I just hope you don’t get attached to any of the characters or anything. All in all if you have any interest in Gundam but are unsure where to start, this would be as good a place as any.

Arbitrary Rating: 8 – Gundams.





Rosario + Vampire Review

28 04 2008


Studio: Gonzo
Genre: Fansevice, Vampires, Trees
Episodes: 13

I’m pretty sure the title of this show should of been ‘Rosary + Vampire’, seeing as the story features a rosary more prominently than most do, while also featuring little to no Rosario Dawson. Of course Rosario Dawson + Vampire would of been a much different and probably better show, but no we’ll have to make do with what we were given. So why did it end up being called Rosario? Well, probably for the same reason that the Chrno Crusade anime was called that instead of Chrono Crusade, whatever that is, I assume some level of incompetence probably occurred at some point?

Anyway, so this show has vampires in it. Uh, well it has vampire in it anyway. It isn’t about a vampire who kills other vampire either, unlike Gonzo’s last vampire related work. When you think about it, Gonzo isn’t really doing very well with its vampire shows. There was Hellsing which is being remade to a much higher quality currently and bloody Trinity Blood which was so unspeakably bad that I have been known to swear never to mention it again sometimes.


….who kills other vampires?

Tsukune is a harem show stereotype. He has brown hair, is a bit of a meek twat, has no idea what to do with women, and is inexplicably attractive to every single female in the cast. What happens is, he’s bad at school, so bad that his parents can’t get him into any high schools. They somehow pilfer a high-school application of some old geezer (how the hell does that work again?) and he ends up going to Youkai Academy, a school for monsters. You see, Youkai means ‘Monster’, hahahaha.. *sigh*

So yeah, the school is full of monsters! It’s only accessible by EVIL BUS, which comes once a month so he’s stuck. Of course all the monsters assume human-like forms because human-like forms wear underwear that can be flashed. There are so many panty-shots in the first episode that it becomes sort of nauseating. To be honest, I probably shouldn’t of watched any more, yet somehow I was compelled to continue. Tsukune bumbles around attracting women, mainly a pink-haired vampire girl called Moka who becomes his girlfriend by the end of the first episode. Each subsequent episode usually deals with yet another girl who tried to get between them, fails, then becomes a regular member of the cast just to spite them.


Excellent trees and panty shot + vampire. This show basically.

The show establishes a formula with all this, but it breaks it just often enough to not get too annoying. In fact, I think they borrowed the formula from Sailor Moon, and the fanservice from Eiken. Actually, I’m not going to link to anything Eiken related, you do not want to know. Ahem, the full cast includes a succubus called Kurumu, a witch named Yukari (I’m not sure how she qualifies as a monster to be honest), a werwolf named Gin, and by far the best character a yuki-onna called Mizore who looks sort of punk.

I guess I should mention that whenever Moka’s Rosary Dawson is removed, she becomes a True Vampire! A true vampire has bigger breasts, different coloured hair, is a bit nastier, and a lot fightier. She does this whenever a fight needs to occur, which is usually in the last five minutes of every episode. The fights are actually animated really nicely. Infact, the whole show looks really really good. It has the art design of a much better show than it is. For one particularly fight-intensive episode they even hire Gainax to do the animation. Unfortunately this episode must of blown almost every single scrap of budget, as the parts where fights aren’t occurring are basically stills.


Oh, sorry were you excpecting fanservice here instead of the cast?

So why should anyone watch this? Do you like fanservice? Well then watch ToLoveRu (or don’t, please). Apart from that it’s just sort of vaguely entertaining, and the plot that develops towards the end is nowhere near as bad as you’d probably expect. I can’t really be bothered to say much positive beyond this, except about how amazing the trees look. I reckon they must of used SpeedTree to make them or something, because damn those trees look fine.

Remeber, if you do watch this show, for the love of god don’t tell anyone you are watching it. Most certainly don’t mention it in your blog either, people will think less of you.

Arbitrary Rating: 5 – Ehhhhhhhhhh





Kaiji Review

21 04 2008


Studio: Madhouse
Genre: Gambling, Grimacing, Paper Towels
Episodes: 26

Kaiji is an excellent, excellent show. There I said it. Review over.

Wait, that’s not going to convince anyone. Fine, I’ll keep going if you insist. Kaiji is the spiritual successor to Akagi, a show I have admittedly never seen. Both shows are based on manga by Nobuyuki Fukumoto who’s works have two notable aspects. 1) They have a really unique look that doesn’t look like anything you’d expect to come out of Japan. 2) They are mostly about the act of gambling. Akagi was about a genius gambler who is capable of outwitting anyone, and his wins over increasingly formidable Yakuza foes.

Kaiji is pretty much the reverse of Akagi. He’s not really all that good at gambling, but he is good at surviving. Infact, one of the show’s many subtitles is ‘Ultimate Survivor’ which is quite apt. But I also like ‘Gambling Apocalypse’ and ‘The Suffering Pariah’. Anyway, Kaiji is a total bum. He lives in squalor, and gambles for a living, while occasionally vandalising cars out of boredom. One day a sinister man knocks on his door (who’s car he vandalised earlier), and tells him he owes the yakuza 3 million yen. A co-worker had asked him to put countersign a loan application, which his co-worker had later defaulted on, so the loan must be paid by Kaiji. Obviously, he’s not in a good position to pay it off being the bum that he is.


Kaiji, looking horrified at the gambling.

The yakuza guy offers Kaiji a night on a GAMBLING BOAT in order to pay off his debts. If he should win, he’ll get enough to pay off all his debts, and more! Although if he should loose he’ll be forced to work slave labour in order to pay them off, which he probably will not survive. So naturally Kaiji agrees to go along with all this. Cut to the boat. He finds himself with about a hundred other losers, and given a hand of cards and millions of yen for bets. The cards have have rock, paper or scissors on them, and he must rock-paper-scissors his way to victory! Of course the game is a lot more complicated than that, and it branches out into strategic alliances, card buying, and betrayal.

The main focus of the show is around these complicated and tense gambling situations in which Kaiji finds himself while struggling to stay out of debt. The rock-paper-scissors arc is just the first of 4 different gambles that Kaiji must survive. In the first arc they are given four hours to complete their gambling, and it plays out in almost real time. I’d describe the pacing as 24-esque, the first arc even has frequent cuts to a large digital clock. Sometimes the twenty-two minute shows seem to only last ten minutes, such is the tension. This is really the main hook of the show. Each episode will have you demanding the next one immedieatly, in order to find out what happens.

The show has a crazy ultra-serious narrator who often stops to explain the situation in detail if it’s getting too complicated, with visual aids! That probably sounds totally ridiculous, but it works really well. The show also often visualises characters torment, like showing them drowning in the sea (of gambling), or leaping over a chasm (of gambling). It also gets quite brutal in places, the most singularly horrible of which is a sequence in which a character is forced to kneel down and prostrate himself on a red hot metal plate. Needless to say the plot gets sort of crazy at times, but this is some sort of gambling obsessed yakuza we are dealing with here so it’s allowed. The Chairman of the Yakuza is probably one of the most insane characters I’ve ever seen. I mean, look at him!


The Chairman is exactly as insane than he looks.

Kaiji is really the only main character in the show. Other minor characters come and go, but it’s mostly just Kaiji, his thoughts, and the aforementioned hilariously serious narrator who I’m not sure is on Kaiji’s side a lot of the time. The villains, from the lowly bums who betray Kaiji to the yazkua chiefs responsible for everything, are all horrible people who you wish to see badly hurt.

I’ll just mention the unusual art style of which looks sort of western to me, you can probably make your own decision from the images. The characters are all really angular in design. Also, everyone constantly has the most horrified expressions glued to their faces which works well with the style. There is quite a bit of 3d usage as most locations in the show are fully 3d so that the camera can do crazy pans all around the rooms in which gambling takes place in all David Fincher style, this stuff works better than you’d probably expect.


Even the background charcters are looking horrified at things, possibly gambling related.

At times the show’s pacing is perhaps a bit slow, as whole episodes pass without significant advancement in plot. The effect is a bit like Gantz, except not nearly as extreme, but even the slow episodes are tense as hell. The second arc of the show is by far the weakest, mainly due to it not being about a gambling game, but rather a much more physical type of gamble. This section doesn’t work nearly as well, but it is a bit shorter than the other arcs, so it’s not too much of a problem and does provide some good setup for the excellent conclusion.

All in all, I highly recommend watching this fine gambling apocalypse. The manga is still being written, and by all accounts the show has followed it quite well, so you should not expect a full conclusion to the story here. There is quite a high possibility of another Kaiji season happening at some point though which is awesome.

Arbitrary Rating: 9 – Paper Towels!





Spice and Wolf Review

15 04 2008


Studio: IMAGIN
Genre: Drama, Wolves, Medieval Economics Thing
Episodes: 12

While you may well immediately dismess this show as furry bait, and yes there is a chances that furries would probably be drawn to it, but there is nothing furry about it beyond there being a girl with ears and a tail in it. There is no ‘yiffing’ whatever the hell that is, and there is definitely no bestiality, implied or otherwise. As a prospective watcher of the show, you’ll have to put your totally understandable prejudice aside and just try it. I thought it best to get that out of the way early.

Anyway, “Spice and Wolf” AKA “Spicy Wolf” AKA “The Wolf and The Spice” is a story of medieval cart travel with the occasional wolf-god. Craft Lawrence AKA Lawrence Craft is a merchant trader in a vague medieval Europe type place, which isn’t as far as I understand, meant to be anywhere in particular. Craft’s unusual travelling companion is a 600 year old Harvest God called Horo who takes the form of either a giant wolf or a wolf-esque girl with ears and whatnot. Horo was bored looking after the harvest in her local pagan village, as the march of technology has lessened the villagers dependence on her. She escapes the village as Lawrence makes a trading visit, and he agrees to take her back to ‘The North’ where she apparently came from.


Horo and Craft Lawrence Craft Crarence Lawft

While you might expect a series in which one of the main characters is a god would be rather wacky, but it’s surprisingly down to earth. In the medieval world in which they live, there is a church organisation that runs most towns, and will declare people to be heretics if they show the slightest sign of being a bit fey or pagany. Having ears and a tail would certainly sentence Horo to the burning pole, so she has to keep a cloak on for most of the time people are around, and she can’t do anything remotely divine. Not that it would be a problem for her, she can turn into a 100 foot long wolf after all, but it would be quite a hassle.

Rather than all that, the focus of the show is Lawrence’s aspiring merchanting business. Most episodes involve Horo and Lawrence tricking a merchant, forcing a company representative to make a bad deal, talking about devaluing currencies, and other general sitting around on a cart discussing commodity prices. You would normally expect a show set in an ostensible fantastical universe to have lots of magic, swords, pantaloons, ronald weasleys, etc. in it, so this main focus on the economics side of things is definitely the more original and probably much harder route to take. Of course, it isn’t entirely ignored, as the climaxes to both of the story arcs make use of the fact that this show is about a God, to great effect I must add.


Beautifully rendered cart travel, and complex economics. So, Spice and Wolf basically.

There is also a reasonably restrained romantic plot between Horo and Craft, in which they pretend to not like each other, but really actually do. There’s potential for this to be really creepy, but they manage to avoid anything remotely like that for the duration of what has been adapted so far. Oh yeah, this was originally a series of light novels, I think the anime adapts the first two of them or something. This means that the plot isn’t really complete, and just the introduction to a much larger plot. I’ve read a few negative comments that neither the plot nor the characters get advanced particularly far in what has been adapted so far. I personally think it’s one of those ‘journey rather than the destination’ type situations, as the lack of development didn’t bother me much.

Going back to the whole economics thing. One of the earlier plots concerns how various dealings are effecting the value of the local currencies, and there might be a conspiracy to get a type of coin recalled and reissued with a lower silver purity percentage…or something. This is something that they rattle on about at length, and I have to admit that quite a lot of it went over my head. I guess I must conclude that either my limited understanding of economics failed me, or it was too poorly translated to make sense. Actually I guess it might just not make sense, you can never really rule that out. There’s also part of the story where Lawrence ends up heavily in debt somehow, and for the life of me I can’t quite work out what happened. If you figure it out, please send me an email!


Uh huh… huh.


“Hang on, i’ll fetch my slide-rule.”

One interesting thing I noticed about this show is that it really only has two characters. I don’t believe I’ve seen anything with such a limited cast before. After getting my head round the enormous casts of Tengen and Baccano, it’s odd to watch such a comparatively focussed show. This does of course mean that if you end up not liking either of the main characters then you probably won’t like the show as whole. I can’t really see that happening though. Craft, has seemingly white hair, but he’s supposed to be only twenty-five, nonetheless he comes off as a very mature character. Horo is also reasonably mature, and while they occasionally fall out, it’s usually for an actually good reason rather than idiotic misunderstanding.

Overall, if you can get over the slow pace, few characters, and furry connotations this is an excellent show. It’s certainly got a free run of whatever genre you would describe it. It’s also highly un-Japanese, which means there is NO DAMN ONSEN EPISODE! No-one even mentions an onsen at any point! If that isn’t a glowing recommendation, then I don’t know what is.

Arbitrary Rating: 8 – Nice!





Hayate no Gotoku Review

14 04 2008


Studio: Synergy SP
Genre: Comedy, Butlers
Episodes: 52

Hayate no Gotoku has just finished airing one 52 episode season, that’s one episode a week for an entire year. I have no idea what sort of horrible experience it is to be on the production team for this sort of thing. Anyway, given the incredibly tight turn-around for these episodes, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the quality would probably slip at some point. Normally the super long ‘every week’ type shows are shounen shows like Naruto that can get away with doing filler, flashback episodes, or those episodes where everyone stands perfectly still grimacing at each other, to make things easier. This show is mainly a comedy though, so it requires a bit more effort, and I’m amazed to say that there is no perceivable drop in quality for the whole 52 episode run.

Time for some Plot! Hayate is a combat butler… Japan sure does like it’s butlers doesn’t it? I’m not really sure why, they seem to me to be mostly a British sort of thing. Anyway, Hayate’s parents are gamblers, and leave him to pay off a 156,804,000 yen debt to the friendly people at the local Yakuza. To raise money he tries kidnapping someone for ransom, but it goes a bit wrong. The girl he tries to kidnap is Nagi Sanzen who is their heir to a vast fortune, and owner of a massive mansion in the middle of Tokyo. After falling for Hayate she pays off the Yakuza, and employs Hayate as her butler to pay off the debt.


Main characters: Nagi and Hayate

Nagi is a shut-in Hikikomori-ish girl who spends most of her time playing video games and reading manga. There’s also a maid called Maria whom Hayate fancies, head butler Klaus, and white tiger called Tama who only Hayate can hear talking. There is also a narration done by Norio Wakamoto (Mechazawa, Chiyo’s Father, etc.) which is sublime. With that out of the way, it’s all just set-up for amusing butler and maid related antics. Fortunately, Hayate himself is an awesomely likable character. Nagi isn’t so much, but that’s mostly due to the fact that there have to be lots of irritating misunderstandings to generate comic situations, but while I understand that it still bugs me when she’s being stupid.

There is what I call a ‘retarded love triangle’ relationship between Hayate, Nagi and Maria. I really hate love triangles, as they seem to crop up in every single show with any romantic elements. To be fair, this isn’t the worst example of one though, so it didn’t bother me all that much. Actually, there are many other girls who like Hayate, in real life too, I remember reading someone that Hayate was voted most popular character by some magazine in Japan though I can’t find any reference now that I come to try and link to it, so you’ll just have to believe me. It’s the likable nature of Hayate that binds the whole show together.


Robots!

Being a combat butler, Hayate is required to engage in fights with robots, criminals and other butlers reasonably often. Hayate, like all butlers, can leap a hundred feet in the air, and is capable of surviving almost anything. These sequences are always well animated, as is the rest of the show. One episode (episode 39) is even animated by Gainax, and has lots of Tengen references which is always awesome. Gainax animation is instantly recognisable to anyone who’s seen one of their recent shows, you are just like “Oh…it’s gainax I guess.”.

While this is supposed to be a comedy show, it’s sometimes not really very funny. It varies a surprising amount between episodes. Sometimes I will be laughing my arse off for the whole time, and others all the jokes fall flat. I assume this is a result of the aforementioned rushed production schedule. Although as the jokes are largely reference based, sometimes I won’t have the first clue what they are referring to. It’s not all reference stuff though, and a lot of the jokes are just amusing in their own right. Or sometimes they aren’t.

Being such a lengthy show they certainly run the gamut of anime clichés, you’ve got your Beach episodes, your New Year episode, your Onsen episodes, you Culture Day episode. It’s all there, sometimes more than once. But there are some greatly amusing original episodes though. There’s one episode where the characters are trying to make an anime and we get a hilarious self-parody of an anime production studio. Also in the first episode, Hayate punches Santa which you really have to respect.The most astonishing thing that happened in the show was that Nabeshin the director and character from the Excel Saga anime made a guest appearance. Nabeshin is one of my favourite characters ever, so that was super excellent.

It’s odd to see a show that I have watched for an entire year come to an end. It’s not like it was my favourite or anything, it’s just that I’ve grown to expect there to be more of it coming. Fortunately there is more of it coming in the form of a second season, but they’ll probably take a couple of seasons break before starting up back up. I am sure there are a lot of people on the staff in desperate need of their own onsen episode.

Arbitrary Rating: 7 – Combat Butlers!





Dragonaut ~The Resonnance~ Review

13 04 2008


Studio: Gonzo
Genre: Action, ~tildes~ , “Dragons”
Episodes: 25

Warning: This review deliberately contains spoilers.

It’s rarely a good sign when the fansubbers seem to hate the show they are subbing. With the final episode accompanied the following message:

Thanks for watching… kind of. This series has been a real train-wreck so if you made it this far, give yourself a pat on the back. This has been the only time I’ve ever wanted the power of love to lose. – Shouta

Good ol’ Shouta. Anyway, I can’t help but agree, but also question why this group would go to the trouble of subbing 25 episodes of shitty show. Possibly for the same reason that I watched 25 episodes of shitty show, whatever that is. Well I’ve thought long and hard about it and have come to the probably incredibly controversial opinion that it isn’t actually terrible. I mean it is definitely terrible, but sort of objectively, it’s not ‘terrible’. It’s probably at worst, below average. It’s a good sign that a show like this is considered terrible as it indicates that the quality threshold for anime currently is very high.


Thanatos, a planet with an apparent abundance of Dragons

In the somewhat distant future Pluto exploded, and a weird new planet called Thanatos showed up. Naturally Thanatos is a planet totally stuffed with dragons. Some of the dragons make their way down to earth, accidentally killing the main character’s family on the way. Speaking of the main character, he is Kamishina Jin (I always hear this as ‘Commissioner Jin’ whenever it is said), a youth struggling to cope with the loss of his family. He was about to take his first SPACE HOLIDAY, when one of the dragons smashed the shuttle thing up, but saved him out of guilt. The other dragons crash all over earth for no adequately explained reason.

The dragons in this show aren’t the Smaug-esque or Sean Connery voiced variety, in fact they barely even look like dragons really. They also have a ‘resonance’ with the first human they come into contact with, and afterwards the dragon can turn into a human looking form. This resonance binds the dragon and human together as a friend, lover, or uh a butler (Who doesn’t want a dragon butler, seriously). Of course the government gets their hands involved in all of this and forms the ‘Dragonauts’ who are a group of people and their associated dragons who fight…other dragons. Commissioner Jin gets involved with all of this when the dragon who originally smashed up his family shows up (who happens to take the form of an attractive girl) , and the Dragonauts try and capture her.


Commissioner Jin and Kazuki, or ‘twats’ as they are known to anyone who has seen a single episode.

Jin is sort of highly unlikable as a character, he’s a mopey bastard and he’s oddly obsessed with a girl he’s only known for about 4 minutes, but he isn’t nearly as unlikable as his best friend and occasionally best enemy Kazuki. He is supposed to be Jin’s childhood friend, but a few dragons get between them, and he spends most of his time pathetically screaming about things and losing fights. Every second he is on screen raises questions about precisely why such an unlikable fuck needs to be in the show. The rest of the cast are rather bland characters. A few of the female characters have comically enormous breasts, which is sort of at odds with the serious nature of the rest of the show. It’s fair to say that it takes itself extremely seriously, and there aren’t even any of the usual comedy characters thrown in, it’s all serious all the time.

Anyway so what else is wrong with the show? Well biggest problem, apart from all the horrible characters, are the dragons themselves. Gonzo, while sometimes capable of producing pure excellence; have in this case seemingly used the same style of effects that made Transformers Cybertron look rubbish to bring the dragons to life in laughable blockiness. The CG dragons aren’t capable of interacting in a way that doesn’t look godawful, so when half your show is dedicated to the fighting of these things, you have yourself a bit of a problem. Gonzo are currently making a show called Blassreiter which also has 3d things fighting each other, but these look several times more convincing than anything seen in Dragonaut.


“Dragons”

One problem with the action scenes is that they usually don’t include any ‘fodder’ type enemies, so lengthy fights often occur between characters that need to live to be in the story later, which makes them quite unsatisfying as no-one is capable of defeating anyone ever. I call this the ‘Gundam Seed’ effect, due to it’s abundance of fights between the two main characters which never get resolved satisfactorily.

Oddly, the overall plot isn’t actually all that terrible, and manages to be mildly entertaining at times. It’s just whenever characters speak, or action happens then it all begins to break down. Towards the end, the show tackles the edgy subject of ‘Can humans and dragons peacefully coexist and have sexual relationships?’. The answer to this unimportant question is apparently ‘yes’ as answered by the ending in which the tedious power of love conquers everything.  


The nauseating power of love!

At the beginning I was saying about how it’s not ‘terrible’, but I realise that I have somehow failed to prove that in this review. Oh well. Anyway, please learn from my mistake and spare yourself from this rubbish example of anime. If even one person doesn’t watch Dragonaut because of this review, then it will have all been worthwhile.

Arbitrary Rating: 3 – Charmless Guff