Don't Leave Me Alone Daisy Collection
Once in a while, I run across anime that just can't bridge the culture gap: Don't Leave Me Alone Daisy is one of these. Teenage mad scientist Techno Reijiro has lived his entire life in a nuclear shelter with his eccentric grandfather, waiting for the end of the world. Once day, a security camera catches a shot of Hitomi Matsuzawa, and it's love at first sight for Techno. Unlike most animated Japanese geeks in love, Techno actively stalks Hitomi, whom he calls "Daisy", using his inventions to kidnap and hold Hitomi against her will. At about the midpoint, he starts to figure out that maybe this isn't the best way to make her love him, but Techno never really becomes Mr. Nice Guy. This is supposed to be funny, as a portrait of a teenager madly in love, but horribly lacking in social skills. I didn't find it very funny at all, as Hitomi is the stereotypical schoolgirl, passively taking all this abuse and misuse. She lashes out at Techno once on the first DVD, but she quickly melts back into her role as the average nice schoolgirl, complaining about how he treats her, but never doing anything about it.
Don't Leave Me Alone Daisy is an older anime (1999-2000) being released as a two DVD set. On the good side of things, it's twelve episodes on only two discs, and humor can be found in Techno's two pet missiles, Mimi and Bear that act like dolphins. However, this is definitely an average show. All of the characters and the story itself are merely stock: the dumb, yet sexy homeroom teacher, the loser classmate, the two loyal female friends of the main female character, need I go on? If you enjoy parody shows, rent this anime, but it's just not worth the purchasing price. --JC
éX-Driver: The Movie
Lorna, Lisa (Risa) and Soichi have come to America to compete in the éX-Driver World Championship. They meet Angela, who is trying to stop her ex-mafia father from gambling on the final race. Yes, the great crisis of this film is the morality of gambling. Pretty lame. In an unsurprising plot twist, the "bad guys" aren't really that bad, and the true villain comes out of the blue.
Included is Nina & Rei: Danger Zone, a short and very predictable featurette about high-speed remote-controlled cars and use of A.I. programs in place of human éX-Drivers. It really doesn't stand out, except with Nina as fan service in go-go boots.
The animation and plot was too Fox Box-ish for me, too generic. This movie is tailor-made for showing on a Saturday morning. It even has segment breaks for commercials! Sadly, éX-Driver: The Movie is utterly bland, making this a good DVD for keeping children entertained, but bad for older people with distinct tastes in their animation. --JC
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Vol. 4
Every once in a while, a series comes along that truly stands out from the crowd and presents itself as one of the greats. Right now for me it's Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. I could not wait to get my hands on volume four of the series, and after seeing it, my opinion has not changed at all on this series.
One thing about this volume that might turn some people off is that it only contains 'stand alone' episodes. They're good episodes, but some fans might want to see more of The Laughing Man, especially after the last volume. The first episode starts off with Section 9 going to find a girl who was kidnapped by terrorists many years ago, but has been spotted recently. The capper of this episode is the great action sequence to close it out. Following this episode is another "relatively" basic episode where Section 9 is trying to keep a wealthy businessman from being killed, but as usual, things aren't always as they seem. The third episode here deals exclusively with the Tachikomas, as they are starting to develop faster then expected, and thus, they could become a liability in the field. A Tachikoma even talks philosophy with Batou in a hilarious scene. The last episode focuses on Batou as he has to go undercover to see if one of his heroes has become a spy. You get a good dose of emotions with Batou in this one, particularly after they've built up from the previous episode because of his attachment to his Tachikoma.
The only bad thing about this show so far has been waiting for the next volume to come out. I cannot recommend this show enough to everyone. --JL
Gregory Horror Show: The Guest From Hell (Vol. 2)
The second volume of Gregory Horror Show is a lot like the first, only this time, the guest/narrator is a cold-heart woman who chose work over love, and is now feeling the pain of loneliness. Many of the characters inside Gregory House return (Gregory, Mama, the bandito cactus, Catherine the blood lusting nurse, among others), with the addition of a new principal character: James, the mischievous grandson of Gregory who helps as much as he hinders the nameless guest.
Sadly, if you've seen the first volume, then you know exactly how the story goes and essentially how it ends. However, I will say that the story here is a lot more linear, thus easier to understand in this volume's re-telling, so if you're intending to check out the Gregory Horror Show series, try this DVD. This DVD includes four more Bloody Karte episodes featuring the lizard nurse, Catherine. --JC
I'll/CKBC: Crazy Kouzu Basketball Club
Akane Tachibana and Hitonari Hiiragi are both friends and rivals as rising star basketball players on the same team. Hitonari suddenly gets the opportunity to take his game to the next level, the National Championships, abandoning his team and Akane. This two-part OVA ends with a showdown game between Hitonari and his new team and Akane and the old team, the winning team getting Hitonari. Since these events occur before the manga series, you can guess which team rises to the occasion and wins. Besides the main story, we get the background of Akane and Hitonari's relationship, as well as some vignettes of Akane and his female childhood friend, Sumire. (Need I say that she has a crush on him?)
I really enjoyed this anime, even though the jumps back and forth in time were a little confusing. The character designs were rather generic, but still contained unique qualities. I liked the backgrounds in particular; whoever was doing the cloudy dusk sky has talent. The orchestral music in the background also plays a role in giving the final game a sense of importance. I'll/CKBC is perfect for all ages as well, except for when the high school kids set off fireworks on the beach in the post-credits final scene. (Kids, don't play with fireworks!) --JC
Ikki Tousen Vol. 3
I should have listened to Janet on this one when she did her review of volume one. Ikki Tousen may look nice and have pretty character designs, but it just falls short on quite a few levels. Volume three of Ikki Tousen continues this downward slope. Just for starters, let's see what this volume offers: a hot springs episode, a perverted old man who's also very wise and who everyone goes to for help, a "WacDonalds", and of course, tons of fan service.
It seems that the Big Fighters Tournament that was built up in the last volume didn't have much of a point in the story. It finishes up in this volume with no real consequences afterwards. After that, the story does a pretty big change in direction and we are now heading towards unraveling Hakufu's power and dealing with the evil mastermind who won the last Big Fighters Tournament. There is a sense of where Ikki Tousen wants to go, but it's been poorly executed and masked by overloads of fan service and poor dialog.
This volume really isn't any different from the first two. On top of the show's problems, the DVD only has three episodes, and for a DVD that's nearly USD$30.00, this is a big problem for me. There aren't even any good features thrown in to help justify the high price. As of now, you have to be a huge fan of this show or a reviewer trying to perfect their craft to be still watching this one. --JL
Last Exile: Sealed Move (Vol. 7)
Finally, we reach the conclusion of Last Exile! (It's been a long two years.) This volume includes the last three episodes, with extras consisting of Geneon previews and DVD credits. Still, this was a good volume and finish to the series.
Claus, Alvis and Dio escape from The Guild's fortress-city, waking up in Claus and Lavie's hometown. From there, Alvis and Claus embark on their last mission: to reach Exile. Along the way, they pick up Lavie and their original vanship, passing through The Grand Stream to the other side, where Exile awaits. What is Exile? Will it really save the world? I'll let you watch and see.
The climax of this last volume is where a major character dies. (After seeing this DVD, you will know *exactly* whom I am referring to.) I hate giving away good spoilers, but it is at that point, where everything seems lost, that the momentum turns around for the heroes. If you've been following Last Exile, get this DVD now! If you haven't seen Last Exile, feel free to start watching, as the series is now finished, so no need to wait between volumes! --JC
Meltylancer: Alpha (Vol. 1)
This two-volume OVA series really shows that it is inspired by the Playstation video game of the same name. Each of the six girls comprising the Meltylancer team in the Galaxy Police Organization has her own skill, ranging from a power suit to elemental magic to secret informants to shooting like a gunslinger. The Meltylancer team was retired a year ago, then suddenly and mysteriously reactivated. The team takes on missions while trying to discover just why they were recalled into service.
This anime is pretty, with bright colors and solid character designs, if but a little cliched at times. The CG blending is a little rough by today's standards, but for GONZO in 1999, it's great! Unfortunately, the rest of Meltylancer is a mess and it can't seem to pull itself together.
We are dropped in the middle of the story, without any proper introduction to the world or to the girls. Even the glossary and footnotes in the extras are pretty useless, giving information without any context. I can't seem to feel for our heroines, as we hardly even know them. Their enemies are also diverse, ranging from a group of goofy young mad scientists called Vanessars to ex-military Defiants to the secret organization called Iyonesco. Considering that the first volume is only three episodes, that's a lot of unfocused opposition. Character quirks are left unexplained, such as the magic girl suddenly fainting and dreaming about ...well, becoming a woman via a Sailor Moon transformation. I don't know if the writers just assumed that we've played the video game or if it's just bad writing. The final call: pretty eye candy, but you can find better visual sweetness than this elsewhere. --JC
Paranoia Agent: True Believers (Vol. 2)
Paranoia Agent just keeps getting better and better. In fact, if it keeps going this way, I'll have to deem it the best anime of all time. I've never walked away from a volume of anime so satisfied.
The story basically continues where it left off in last volume, following the pattern of never sticking to a previous character's POV, but centering an episode on one newly introduced individual while still incorporating those from previous episodes. The police have finally caught the one that they believe is responsible for the Shonen Bat attacks, and upon his interrogation, he claims to be a holy liberator from a popular video game. However, only two of the five attacks are claimed by him. The psychological drama continues as the police diligently try to solve the mystery of Shonen Bat.
After only three movies, Satoshi Kon has already acquired his spot among other anime greats, such as Hayao Miyazaki, with his amazingly original ideas and great execution. Paranoia Agent only reaffirms his greatness. I would normally have subtracted at least half a point from the score because of the terrible cover art and the lack of any decent extras, combined with the low count of three episodes on this DVD, but the show is just too good for anything less than a perfect score.
Go buy it now. --CI
Peacemaker: Of Swords & Strength (Vol. 2)
The first volume of Peacemaker had promise, and I was waiting to see more. The only issue that I had was how annoying the main character, Tetsu was. I was pleased to see Tetsu calmer and a bit more grown up in this second volume.
In this installment, Tetsu meets Saya, a young girl who, like Tetsu, lost her parents. Tetsu befriends her and they quickly become very close...as friends. We see a lighter side of the Shinsengumi, as there is less killing and more character development. The rebel Choshu are still in the background, but the focus is on character introductions. Overall, I like where this show is going, and Tetsu is less annoying than the first. This volume includes four episodes. --AC
Popotan: Vanishing House (Vol. 1)
The video game based anime Popotan came out in the midst of the Christmas anime rush, and it was largely overshadowed by more high profile releases, such as D.N.Angel Vol. 1 and the Fruits Basket box set. As it turns out, Popotan would be overshadowed by basically anything at any month of the year because of its sub-par quality.
Those even only vaguely familiar with the Japanese language will recognize the show's name as the word "dandelion" with the "tan" kanji on the wrong end. The show follows three girls and their robot maid as they travel around in their mobile Christmas-themed mansion, settling in areas with large amounts of tanpopo. Each episode pretty much stands by itself, following the exploits of the girls and the experiences that they have as they travel around Japan. Sounds strange? Believe me, it is. The story is excessive, and so is the nudity. This might turn off some viewers, since it has been advertised as one of Geneon's more mainstream releases. The main issue that I have with Popotan is its lack of any funny moments. The show is enjoyable, but I was really expecting more comedy. The show can be very boring and uninteresting at times as well, focusing far too much on fan service over meaningful content.
As with most other releases I've seen from Geneon, the video quality here is awesome. Presented in anamorphic widescreen, everything is extremely clear, and the extremely colorful environments and characters look great. The audio is fine, and I noticed no issues with the subtitles. The DVD also contains the standard art gallery and non-credit opening animation extras, as well as trailers for other Geneon shows.
Not a truly awful anime, but there are certainly better buys out there. Rent this one, if anything. --CI