Kekkai Sensen Episode 12 [END]

Episode 12 Production Details

Episode Director: Rie Matsumoto (Episode Director on Yes! Precure 5 episodes 14 and 24 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Saint Seiya Omega episodes 3 and 10 / Series Composition and Storyboards on Kyousogiga)

Storyboards: Rie Matsumoto (Episode Director on Yes! Precure 5 episodes 14 and 24 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Saint Seiya Omega episodes 3 and 10 / Series Composition and Storyboards on Kyousogiga)

Script: Kazuhisa Furuya (Series Composition on Kekkai Sensen)


After that cliffhanger I would not have expected such a long wait on the finale.  Three and half months later (October 3rd) the conclusion to this incredible supernatural series finally airs!  The cause for the delay was because BONES originally intended on this finale to be longer than a thirty minute time-slot permits.  Finding a broadcaster to air it can be problematic due to other series and programs signing for a specific time-slot, from weeks prior to even months ahead of air time.  Typically, anime studios will delay an episode due to not finishing the animation in time.  I would imagine that would cost them an additional fee or a recap episode.  Now I can see why a recap episode was paramount to production. The question is does this long hiatus bode well for Kekkai Sensen‘s ending or does this tone down the excitement?

This had to be one of the best endings of 2015–BONES utilizing all of that extra time certainly paid off. Six animation supervisors, four assistant episode directors, 58 key animators, and 24 2nd key animators.  Delivering jaw-dropping visuals throughout the entire 46 minute runtime!  There wasn’t a single frame that contained a drop in quality! Terrific music including classical music references throughout. On a delivery front, the music was chosen wisely.  The build up is strong from the first half!  Showcasing at least the first five minutes or so of “Polovtsian Dances” from Alexander Borodin’s opera “Prince Igor”. Providing an emotionally-charged collection of scenes in order to build up Libra’s fight throughout the city and Klaus’ battle against the King of Despair.

Kekkai Sensen blew my expectations out of the water with this episode!  Instead of adding in extraneous sub-plots to re-introduce Hellsalem’s Lot after a near 4-month absence the creators committed to the ending they intended on from the get-go.  A story about love and peace [an honest homage to Trigun].

Mary and William were loved by their parents, that when the Great Collapse occurred they set up a barrier inside of White (Mary).  Tragically we know now that she had actually died from the collapse and explains why throughout this series she can’t ever go outside Hellsalem’s Lot.  This is where William comes in; why he wanted to keep her close inside the hospital at all times. The King of Despair’s presence explains why White betray’s Leonardo, offers the all-seeing Eyes of the Gods.  Despair [inside of Black] shooting White in the chest removes any barrier that is left protecting the city is further indication that White knew exactly what and who she was from the very beginning that she met Leonardo. A nice tie-in to the first episode’s conclusion!

I wish they’d have given an episode focused solely on Chain Sumeragi.  Her interactions with the rest of the cast are humors and it’d be great to see her backstory.

Remember the God of Chow back in episode 10?  If you’ve been paying attention you’ll notice how Leo can perceive the dead.  The finale, here, highlights this point and puts it right in front of us to understand that he’s more than just an ordinary guy.  He’s something special and more a part of Libra than he ever has been before!

While this episode concludes White and Black’s story it does a fine job establishing that Leo’s story within Hellsalem’s Lot isn’t over.  It is only just beginning. Both Leo and Black have confronted reality due to the choices they’ve made.  A city that is between two worlds  with varied aliens and humans living amongst the main cast shows how important the characterization in these series needed to be.  As devastating it was to lose White for both of these men; this moment in the final scenes of Kekkai Sensen allows for them to become more human than they ever have before.

Rie Matsumoto is a spectacular director.  She clearly is a fan of the old days of Japanese anime–Kyousougiga was loaded with a variety of colorful visual elements!  The direction she chooses is spastic and very inventive. She came up with the story of White and Black for Kekkai Sensen and original creator Nightow oversaw the project! Her style has a similar fashion to GAINAX’s first few animated works especially Gurren Lagann.  Also, I’d say that Kekkai Sensen is very reminiscent of Cutie Honey’s three-episode OAV opening sequence, how characters are introduced on-screen and how they interact with the world around them!

I believe this is one of the best anime narratives in recent years.  They took an original adaptation and created a faithful interpretation based on Yasuhiro Nightow’s original manga. After seeing this, I’d like to see her adapt either Warainaku’s Keyman-The Hand of Judgment or re-adapt Atsushi Ōkubo’s Soul Eater.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Kekkai Sensen Episode 11

Episode 11 Production Details

Episode Director: Masashi Abe (Director on Kekkai Sensen‘s Ending Sequence / Storyboard on Blue Dragon episodes 12, 26, 30 [alongside Matsushita Yukihiro), 37 and 46 / Episode Director and Storyboard on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure episodes 4 and 19 / Episode Director on Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis episodes 6 (alongside Shinichi Matsumi) and 10 (alongside Atsushi Wakabayashi and Tomoyuki Kurokawa) / Episode Director on Noragami Aragoto episodes 2, 5 and 12)

Storyboards: 

  • Rie Matsumoto (Episode Director on Yes! Precure 5 episodes 14 and 24 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Saint Seiya Omega episodes 3 and 10 / Series Composition and Storyboards on Kyousogiga)
  • Tomohiko Ito ( Director on Boku Dake ga Inai Machi / Director on Gin no Saji (Silver Spoon) / Director on Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin / Director on Sword Art Online / Storyboard and Episode Director on MONSTER episodes 42, 55 and 70 / Episode Director on Death Note episodes 2,7, 14, 23, 26, 29 and 35 / Episode Director on Michiko e Hatchin episodes 4 and 12 / Storyboard on Michiko e Hatchin episodes 4,12, and 19 [alongside Yasuji] / Storyboard on Noragami Aragoto episode 8)

Script: Kazuhisa Furuya (Series Composition on Kekkai Sensen)


I will admit I do not like recap episodes.  However, Episode 10.5 tackles Kekkai Sensen’s story thus far in a rather inventive way. A radio show with the cast making detailed changes along the way.  I will take no time in the recap and jump right into the story with episode 11.

One of the biggest points that Kekkai Sensen has with its success is how unpredictable it can be.  Dancing along the setting of the manga’s storyline we get an entire series focused on a bombastic group (Libra) and the situations they encounter with other people and aliens throughout a fictional New York City.

This episode manages to do the impossible. An entire 25 minutes dedicated to William (Black) and Mary (White) Macbeth.  Not a single member of Libra has a shred of dialogue! And yet we get details bit by bit from previous episodes finally coming together here in order to explain the twins’ backstory.  They’re children of casters, which is why the LOHOS group was prevalent in the previous episode, and marks a return in a big way here.

Throughout this show we’ve seen how devious Black is and the power that comes with his alternate persona. This penultimate episode filled in all the questions without shoving the information down our throats needlessly.  William inherited cast powers and Mary did not. This explains why Mary is sold brash, bold and whimsically charming towards Leonardo.  As for Black he’s the timid and shy twin.  That is until the King of Despair takes hold of his personality. The imagery is superb in this episode.  Delivering a heartwarming effect on its audience.  Filled with visually warm childhood scenes between sibling fights and touching scenes between child and parents.  Parents that are shepherds in a sense.  The father reminds me a lot of Maes Hughes from FullMetal Alchemist: BROTHERHOOD— especially with his comedic moments with Mary and his wife.  A beautiful collection of memories that are torn apart in the second half of this episode.  Containing some of the darkest moments out of this entire series!

This episode’s intention was to establish the main manga’s world elements but more importantly acts as a parallel between the Macbeths and the Watches.  Both older siblings giving up something precious for their younger siblings presents two motifs: hope and despair.  This is represented nicely when we learn what the twin’s parents had done in order to keep Mary alive.

I really like how Femt has been overseeing Black’s plan. That scene towards the end felt as though it was original creator, NIGHTOW, seeing this anime original arc unfold! Sitting at the sidelines teasing us that the main story hasn’t even begun!

I sure hope there is a season two because this has been a fantastic ride!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Kekkai Sensen Episode 10

Episode 10 Production Details

Episode Director: Ikuro Sato ( Director on FullMetal Alchemist: BROTHERHOOD‘s Second Ending Sequence and Third Opening Sequence / Director on STAR DRIVER‘s Second Opening Sequence / Director on No. 6‘s Opening Sequence / Director on Captain Earth‘s First Ending Sequence / Episode Director on Zetsuen no Tempest episodes 14 and 23 / Episode Director on Space Dandy episode 4 / Episode Director on Akagami no Shirayukihime episodes 5 and 11 / Episode Director on Soul Eater episodes 4, 8, 18, 24, 31, 40, 41, 48 and 51 [alongside Takuya Igarashi)

Storyboards: 

  • Rie Matsumoto (Episode Director on Yes! Precure 5 episodes 14 and 24 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Saint Seiya Omega episodes 3 and 10 / Series Composition and Storyboards on Kyousogiga)
  • Tomohiko Ito ( Director on Boku Dake ga Inai Machi / Director on Gin no Saji (Silver Spoon) / Director on Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin / Director on Sword Art Online / Storyboard and Episode Director on MONSTER episodes 42, 55 and 70 / Episode Director on Death Note episodes 2,7, 14, 23, 26, 29 and 35 / Episode Director on Michiko e Hatchin episodes 4 and 12 / Storyboard on Michiko e Hatchin episodes 4,12, and 19 [alongside Yasuji] / Storyboard on Noragami Aragoto episode 8)

Script: Kazuhisa Furuya (Series Composition on Kekkai Sensen)


In the last episode we were treated to the White/Black subplot, anime original, and finally becoming the heart of this show.  As dramatic as this was, learning about White’s tragic past we’re now getting to a climax. This episode was different.  A fun-filled antics adventure featuring Leonardo, Zapp, and Zed on a journey for lunch.  The comedy is spot-on with this show–Zapp is his usual obnoxious self, Leonardo is the worrywart of the group and Zed puts up a front that is non-confrontational and yet still finds a way to get into Zapp’s head.

The first place that go into is a Sushi restaurant–exploring Zapp and Zed’s relationship as a semi-brotherly love.  I like how its Zapp that picks this place, ultimately backfiring on him.  Zed being perfectly fine with cannibalism highlights his reptilian appearance wonderfully!  Amidst their lunching adventure is Klaus, Steven, and Abrams aiding the city’s cops into fighting 1,000 brothers (literally).  This is one of the charm’s of Kekkai Sensen it doesn’t hold back!  Libra’s relationship with organization LOHOS is complex.  A philanthropic group of humans with super powers that had been awakened by their encounter with Beyond.  Known as Casters, referring to the same casters that created the barrier in Hellsalem’s Lot–unifying a peace treaty between humans and the otherworldly creatures known as Beyondians.  The organization is very much like Libra, keeping an interest in self-sufficiency, the natural order of things (in other words maintaining a “balance”) and a unyielding rule to sacrifice the powerful in order to protect the citizens of Hellsalem’s Lot.  This is where Black’s story converges with the cast.   A few finely detailed action sequences tied in with some strong exposition clarify how bizarrely crafted this episode is.  Strange restaurants (including an Italian restaurant that’s an obvious nod to the Sopranos) from a chef regurgitating the food they serve, chowder eating its own customers and food establishment serving brains and other body parts.  It is no wonder why Leonardo is seen freaking out (speaking in tongues) and has it out with the God of Chow.

The biggest highlight of this episode, however, is the small attention to detail.  The sign at Diane’s “Send a Salami to your boy in the army” is a reference to Katz’s Delicatessen.  A kosher style restaurant established in the lower east side of Manhattan, New York City.  During World War II the slogan was used to encourage parents to support their children that had joined the army.

I think this was a smart move to use this because everything up to this point had been absolutely bizarre and now the story has calmed down and grounded back into reality.  It isn’t until the last five minutes that the story really sets in with White’s demand of Leonardo.

Once again this show continues to amaze me!

Animator Spotlight:

Hidetsugu Ito

[Previous Works Include]

  • Bounen no X’amd Episode 2 [Key Animator]
  • Zetsuen no Tempest Episode 24 – debris, fire and lighting effects during Megumu Hanemura’s flame technique against the Tree of Genesis. [Key Animator]
  • Space Dandy Episode 10 – mecha, smoke explosions. [Key Animator]

ezgif.com-video-to-gif (3)

Yuki Hayashi

[Previous Works Include]

Notable Styles: yutapon cubes, smearing animation techniques and debris effects.

  • Toriko Episode 5 – cave fight sequence. [Key Animator]
  • Yuyushiki Episode 7 – leg grabbing sequence [Key Animator]
  • Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta Episode 2 – Kotoha Isone’s fight with Hime Yarizakura.

ezgif.com-video-to-gif (2)

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

—-

Top Ten Anime Series I’ve Seen

Ten: Toradora!
The ultimate tsundere romance, Toradora! portrays high school odd-couple Taiga, a short statured and short tempered student, and Ryuuji, a young man with the appearance of a Yakuza member and a borderline obsessive-compulsive need to clean and organize things. Although nominally set in high school, the relationship dynamic between Taiga and Ryuuji is more like that of a married couple than teenagers, which extends the appeal of the story.
Toradora! is based off of a light novel series by Yuyuko Takemiya, who also wrote Golden Time. What is interesting is that even though Golden Time is set in university and Toradora! Is set in high school, the characters and relationships in Toradora! seem more mature.
toradora2.png
Contrasting characters Taiga and Minori in an early episode.
Nine: Silver Spoon
Silver Spoon is the story of Yugo Hachiken, a somewhat stilted young man who has failed the entrance exam to the most prestigious high school in Sapporo. Unable to face his classmates and his family, he takes the best out he can find by attending an agricultural boarding school in the hinterland. Knowing literally nothing about farming, and surrounded by teens whose families have been farming for generations, he discovers that here, too he is completely out of his depth.Fortunately for everyone, he gamely steps up to these new challenges.
As an audience stand-in, Hachiken learns about both the technical and economic aspects of farming in Japan, often facing some dour truths about the state of family farms and rural life in general.Based on an on-going manga,I hope that there will be a third season at some point.
silverspoon2
Hachiken and Mikage go to the temple to write down their dreams.
Eight: Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun
The anime revolves around the relationship between Nozaki, a teenage boy who somehow is a famous author of girls’ romance manga, and his classmate Sakura, who is in love with him, but has through a series of misunderstandings been roped into working as his assistant.A great show to write a college paper on, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun overturns every accepted trope in anime and manga; whether this is done in order to deconstruct received notions about entrenched social structures, or just because it’s funny, is left as an exercise for the reader.
montly girls.png
Yuzuki Seo, the series’ kūki o yomanai (“oblivious”) character.
Seven: Genshiken
Genshiken’s main draw is that it lets fans of the manga to see it come to life; as a stand-alone work, it is fantastic as a mature slice-of-life story, but newcomers might not see what the big deal is, especially as neither of the two seasons manages to finish the manga’s overall story arc, and without the background information from the manga the individual episodes feel somewhat disconnected from one another.
Casual viewers also might not even be aware that there is a second season (not to be confused with Genshiken: Second Season, the series’ sequel), making the anime seem even more truncated.A similar series, Princess Jellyfish, has an even more pronounced version of this problem; the series ends right in the middle of a story arc.
oguie.png
Chica Oguie, my second favorite tsundere character.
Six: Welcome to the NHK
Welcome to the NHK is not for everybody, which is why it isn’t higher on this list. I don’t mean that it can only be appreciated by a true connoisseur, I just mean to enjoy it you need to have either gone through a similar situation, or else be willing to be a very sympathetic witness to the foibles of the young.It does take a charitable viewer to deal with the series’ protagonist.
Tatsuhiro Sato’s problem is outwardly simple: he needs to go out and get a job. All discussion of hikikomori or social anxiety disorder or what-have-you aside, the basic fact is he wouldn’t be able to sit alone in his room all day hating himself if it wasn’t subsidized. This can make Sato a difficult character to empathize with, particularly for very self-directed individuals, or those whose personal narrative, however rightly so, centers around overcoming of adversity.
But patience is rewarded, and Sato is neither undeserving of our attention, nor is he alone in the story: The series is filled with people who, for whatever reason, have become disassociated from society: a failed business person, an office worker who depends on pills to get through the day, a cult member, a young man fleeing attempting to flee his hometown, it goes on and on. These are people whose alienation is universally comprehensible; their degree of isolation in a society that emphasizes positive group dynamics can only be guessed at.The light novel the show is based on is well worth a read if you can find it.
welcomenhk.png

Life isn’t over in your early 20s. Or is it?
Five: My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU
A strong example of the recent trend towards irony-infused dramedies staring quirky, precocious teens, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU is a surprisingly good watch for anyone who has ever been an adolescent. The only drawback is that at certain points the plot seems to jump the tracks; I suspect that certain cultural cues and assumptions are lost on western viewers. Or maybe I just don’t get today’s youth. It would be hard to fault the translation, which does an amazing job of delivering the series’ deadpan, borderline cynical humor.

teenromanticcomedy
Hachiman’s rationalizations are a high point of the series.
Four: Steins;gate
Steins;gate’s chief strength, besides its memorable and immensely likeable characters, is the way in which the tone of the show completely alters depending on whether it is a first or second viewing. Following the series’ theme of time travel, the semi-circular plot forms a moebius strip that encourages and rewards a second viewing. So engrossing is the story that viewers may not notice the harem slowly building around the protagonist, nor the few moments of oddly timed fan-service.
steinsgate
Mayuri Shiina, a longtime observer of Rintarō Okabe’s social faux pas
Three: Psycho-Pass
Equal parts Orwell, Huxley, and Judge Dredd, Psycho-Pass presents a seemingly bright and shiny cyberpunk future, where mental health is the key determinant of social status. As such, the population is constantly being monitored by an ambiguous, networked system that continually tracks and evaluates the mental fitness of every citizen. Those that don’t pass muster are forced to attend therapy, imprisoned in mental health facilities, or even summarily executed on the street or in their homes.The depth of thought presented is stellar for a work of popular culture – characters discuss topics as varied as Titus Andonicus, Phillip K. Dick, Proust, and the Marquis de Sade, as well as quote Spinoza and Pascal, all without skipping a beat. The first season presents enough ideas in an episode to fill a season of a normal series; the only drawback is the somewhat lukewarm second season, which was, however, redeemed by the follow-up film.
psychopass
Mandatory Happiness
Two: From the New World
From the New World represents the most cohesive story on this list, having a clear and internally consistent dramatic arc with a satisfying resolution. It is an odd science fiction tale where technology is almost absent; instead, the driving force is human beings’ ESP powers, and the (very) ambiguous utopian society they have constructed for themselves. It is also a coming of age tale that follows the protagonists from early childhood well into adulthood, realistically depicting multiple stages of life in a context both familiar and yet also vastly different from contemporary society.Underpinning the story is a very subtle idea: if our minds were able to conjure up our heart’s desire in an instant, our own thoughts, particularly our subconscious, would be a constant source of potential danger to ourselves and those around us.
from_the_new_world

Saki Watanabe discusses school problems with her mother.
One: Attack on Titan
First place goes to Attack on Titan, which would be considered a stellar work in any medium, and would entertain and engross even the most diehard anime skeptic. The show has everything: memorable characters, an engaging and believable story, fantastic animation, particularly the action scenes, and great voice acting.The series defies easy labeling. More mature than a typical shonen anime, it is a science fiction story that features archaic technology with some fantasy elements, a conspiracy that so far is mostly just hinted at, and a coming of age tale in which the characters mature almost immediately.
titan

We lived in fear of the titans, and were disgraced to live in these cages we called walls.

Kekkai Sensen Episode 9

Episode 9 Production Details

Episode Director: Masashi Abe (Director on Kekkai Sensen‘s Ending Sequence / Storyboard on Blue Dragon episodes 12, 26, 30 [alongside Matsushita Yukihiro), 37 and 46 / Episode Director and Storyboard on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure episodes 4 and 19 / Episode Director on Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis episodes 6 (alongside Shinichi Matsumi) and 10 (alongside Atsushi Wakabayashi and Tomoyuki Kurokawa) / Episode Director on Noragami Aragoto episodes 2, 5 and 12)

Storyboards: 

  • Rie Matsumoto (Episode Director on Yes! Precure 5 episodes 14 and 24 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Saint Seiya Omega episodes 3 and 10 / Series Composition and Storyboards on Kyousogiga)
  • Michio Fukuda (Storyboard on Death Note episodes 9,13, 19 and 28 / Storyboard on Dennou Coil episode 17 (alongside Mitsuo Iso) / Storyboard on FullMetal Alchemist: BROTHERHOOD episodes 13 and 21 / Storyboard on STAR DRIVER episodes 5, 9, 14, 17, 20 and 24 / Storyboard on Galilei Donna episode 8 / Key Animator on Summer Wars film / Key Animator on REDLINE film / Director, Storyboard and Animation Supervisor on Terra Formars: Revenge first Ending Sequence / Director on Terra Formars: Revenge / Key Animator on One Piece Film 6: Omatsuri Danshaku to Himitsu no Shima)

Script: Kazuhisa Furuya (Series Composition on Kekkai Sensen)


Series like Space Dandy and Kekkai Sensen reminds me why I love watching Japanese anime. Animation can be free form without any constraints. Fueled by relentless, imaginative storytelling and visuals.  Combine that with Japanese traditions and American pop culture and you can get some incredibly diverse, risky, and fresh shows. Both Space Dandy and Kekkai Sensen excel at this, giving us a fantasized perspective of world culture with spectacular BONES quality! In a conventional sense Kekkai Sensen’s manga would have been quite difficult to adapt. I’ve got to hand it to Matsumoto and her ability to craft together an original-anime story, Black and White, and weave this into the world of Kekkai Sensen flawlessly. Both Kyousogiga and this series nails down how incredible Matsumoto is at pacing.

The beginning spans in the matter of minutes–introducing us to Zed, Raju’s other disciple, giving a feel of what his relationship with Zapp is like and how they learned their techniques under Raju. The teacher giving a finishing blow to the blood breed spells out how well trained all of them really are too. This allows Leonardo to use his all seeing eye ability so that Klaus can seal him. A team effort that delivered a very fun ride of action!

The reveal with White and Black alludes to how this show might end. Leonardo can sense something is going on with White.  With that said, it is proof enough that his ability will be the crux of this series (hopefully, season). A bad heart is what White has. The Ming of Despair can only save White’s body if he can receive Leo’s all seeing eyes. A trade off that I’m sure will result in casualties is a a strong way to build up Kekkai Sensen’s finale. Setting up White as the sacrificial character of this show.

The flashback of William (Black) and Mary’s (White) homeland is absolutely gorgeous. Super bright tones that mixes a beautifully drawn blue sky and nicely bright greenery. Illustrating how happy their family was before the King of Depravity entered the picture and changed their lives forever.

That ending scene was incredible! Well-acted on White and Black’s parts!  The soundtrack really stood out this episode too!

Animator Spotlight:

Yutaka Nakamura

[Previous Works Include]

  • Sword of the Stranger film- fight sequences
  • STAR DRIVER‘s second ending sequence
  • Escaflowne‘s opening sequence [specifically, Nakamura animate the slow motion mecha fight]

ezgif.com-video-to-gif (1)

 

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Arslan Senki Episode 15

Episode 15 Production Details

Episode Director: Fumio Maezono (Storyboard on Diamond no Ace episodes 5 and 15 / Episode Director on Photo Kano episodes 2 and 8)

Storyboards: Hiroshi Hara [Key Animator on Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta episode 11 / Storyboard on Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu episode 9 / Storyboard on Blade & Soul episode 9)

Script: Aoi Shushiro [Script writer for Samurai Champloo episode 10 / Series Composition writer on Hamatora / Script writer for Galilei Donna episodes 5, 9 and 10]


This show continues to have trouble with animation.  Especially when it comes to action scenes–Jaswant fighting Gieve had some poor facial animation and choppy hand movements.  Putting that aside, Arslan Senki‘s soundtrack is one of the best of 2015.  Incredibly moving pieces that enhance the less detailed visuals at times!  Can’t wait to hear more from Taro Iwashiro!

Narsus continues to be a driving force into the story of Arslan Senki.  He’s thwarted Kharlan’s assassination attempts towards Arslan and company, recruited many followers and last episode pincer attacked Rajendra into an inevitable alliance that would prove even this time around that the journey isn’t just about Arslan taking claim to the throne.  Gadevi sends the spy Jaswant into Rajendra’s ranks in order to turn the tables on the young prince Arslan.  It isn’t until Jaswant is recruited to the Sindhuran fortress where we see his true nature.

I believe what makes this show truly spectacular, as a whole, is how Narsus becomes so focused aiding Arslan one step ahead of everyone else.  Yet he’s unable to wrap his head around the constant bickering between Elam and Alfreed.  It just goes to show how trusted Arslan is having these soldiers and advisers follow him.  This also relates on how peaceful Arslan will be going further.

An easy success for Arslan with the battle gainst Guavin.  Deciding to release Jaswant rather than execute him goes to show his respect for human life and an impact on Jaswant it will be later.  It will make a huge impact on him because he was an orphan and loyal to his vizier–freedom is something he doesn’t know all too well of.

This episode gradually shows us Arslan’s resolve and how he will use peace to bring neighboring nations together.  The truce between Pars and Rajendra using the war elephants should prove to be interesting because it will be a test of adversity for Arslan.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10

Arslan Senki Episode 14

Episode 14 Production Details

Episode Director: Koji Aritomi [Assistant Director on Princess Mononoke / Episode Director for Kill la Kill’s episode 8 / Assistant Animation Director on Patlabor WXIII]

Storyboards: Takashi Yamazaki [storyboard writer for Shokugeki no Soma‘s episode 6 / key animator for Yu Yu Hakusho‘s episode 79]

Script: Makoto Uezu ( Script on D-Frag! episodes 1, 3, 4, 8 and 12 / Series Composition on Akame ga Kill! / Script on Arslan Senki episodes 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 13, 17, 24 and 25)


The animation took a drop in quality this time around. Lots of CG Animation.  And if I’ve mentioned before the CG is awkward in Arslan Senki.  It doesn’t fit and in the first few episodes had used the same character models for its Persian soldiers. When this aired the previous week took a break–giving us a recap episode of the story so far.

This new episode features a new dynamic with the addition of a new opening and ending sequence. Previously we learned that Sindhuran Prince Rajendra is an opportunist. In order to put himself in a good position as a general and eventual claim to the throne of the country he takes advantage of the chaos within Pars.  He’s fearless and bold, however, this episode quickly points to the notion that he’s a bit of a fool.  Going after Arslan and not noticing Narsus’ suspicions makes light of this.  It also foreshadows the ending of this episode as well.  Not to mention his own general seeing this mistake will be a downfall for Rajendra.

Cleverly, it isn’t until now that we see Arslan viewed as a symbol of the rebirth of Pars instead of a military commander. I really like how Narsus spins the 10,000 Peshawar army to Arslan’s advantage. Splitting their forces, creating a ploy using Gadevi’s men by using the terrain to create a pincer attack around the enemy. Ultimately trapping Rajendra in a situation that forces the two in an alliance and by the end seals the deal using alcohol and blackmail.

The introduction of Gadvei’s spy here also proves Narsus talents as a strategic advisor as he even sees this alliance opportunity with Rajendra too enticing to pass up.


OP: “Uzu to Uzu” (渦と渦) by NICO Touches the Walls

 

Directed by: Yuzuru Tachikawa

Storyboards: Yuzuru Tachikawa

Such a better song to use!  I like how subtle the movements are in the animation until it builds up into the chorus and action sequences!  Mitsumura Tamura’s voice has an amazing range! Overall it does a great job in depoicting the large cast this anime has shown us so far!

ED: “One Light” by Kalafina

 

Directed by: Naomi Nakayama

Storyboards: Naomi Nakayama

Not as good as the first ending but still pretty decent.  It’s emotionally inviting using Kalafina’s popular orchestra mixed with a slight edgy rock sound.  Only issue though is that it sounds like your generic Kalafina song.  It has a similar visual feel to it (Nakayama directed the first ending too!) that the cast is progressing on a grand adventure to reclaim the country.

Animator Spotlight:

Satoshi Kimura

[Previous Works Include)

  • Terra Formars character designer

ezgif.com-video-to-gif(3)

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

Kekkai Sensen Episode 8

Episode 8 Production Details

Episode Director: Ikuro Sato ( Director on FullMetal Alchemist: BROTHERHOOD‘s Second Ending Sequence and Third Opening Sequence / Director on STAR DRIVER‘s Second Opening Sequence / Director on No. 6‘s Opening Sequence / Director on Captain Earth‘s First Ending Sequence / Episode Director on Zetsuen no Tempest episodes 14 and 23 / Episode Director on Space Dandy episode 4 / Episode Director on Akagami no Shirayukihime episodes 5 and 11 / Episode Director on Soul Eater episodes 4, 8, 18, 24, 31, 40, 41, 48 and 51 [alongside Takuya Igarashi)

Storyboards: 

  • Rie Matsumoto (Episode Director on Yes! Precure 5 episodes 14 and 24 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Saint Seiya Omega episodes 3 and 10 / Series Composition and Storyboards on Kyousogiga)
  • Miyao Yoshikazu (Series Director on Magi: Sinbad no Bouken / Storyboard on Soul Eater NOT!‘s First Ending Sequence / Storyboard on Sakura Trick episode 9 / Storyboard on Haikyuu! 12 / Storyboard on Magi: The Kingdom of Magic episode 6)

Script: Kazuhisa Furuya (Series Composition on Kekkai Sensen)


How is it possible that this show keeps getting better every episode?!  This episode turns back to its genuine comedy from when the series began by using Zapp as the butt of every joke.  Especially when it comes to seeing Chain interact with him!  The chemistry between the two of them is pure gold!  There’s some obvious relationship tension there, with jealousy biting from both sides.  Zapp fending off against a Blood Breed was only a teaser for part two in the next episode!  Incredibly detailed fight scenes coupled with Zapp’s Master (Raju Jugei Shizuyoshi) makes for some solid character development.

Jugei’s appearance is somewhat ghastly, having lost limbs at some point in time, his choice of words to Zapp that he doesn’t care if he lost limbs speaks a lot about how serious this master really is and how little he cares for Zapp as a person and more as his best disciple. Much like Space Dandy did in building the world to its audience Kekkai Sensen highlights the supernatural aspect of this series by introducing a diverse cast of side-characters that become a bridge in further explaining the main casts’ personalities and endeavors!  This especially works with a 1-cour series like this one!  Fat Zapp was some sight to see!

What makes this episode particularly amazing is how this was just a small bit of fun added to this episode–the main treat ends up being about White and Black.  Their real names are revealed (Mary and William) and we finally get an explanation behind the mystic aura surrounding these two siblings.  They never had their powers to begin with.  Which if you recall from the first episode is similar to Leonardo’s situation with his all-seeing eye and his sister.

What the creators did here was very smart–they showed us Zapp’s day to day life and framed it inside Black’s backstory of how he became the King of Despair. Which also explains his ties to the King of Depravity, Femt.  The significance of seeing his watch all throughout this episode seemed to illustrate that Despair can only control William’s body for a short amount of time.  Especially since at the end of this episode we see the King of Despair in a mirror image talking to Black and then taking over his body.  The blue-hued past sequence was animated nicely.  If I hadn’t been reading the manga I wouldn’t have guessed that he was an anime-only character as he’s so well-developed and fits right into the cast exceptionally well!

Another amazing episode of Kekkai Sensen!  I hope Matsumoto makes another season of this because this has been a fun ride!  I believe to be one of the best parts about this show is that it doesn’t spoon-feed the story to you.

Animator Spotlight:

Yutaka Nakamura

[Previous Works Include]

  • Soul Eater episode 11 (Key Animator)
  • Soul Eater Fight Sequence during Second Opening (Key Animator)
  • Cowboy Bebop The Movie – Spike Spiegel’s fight scene in the train with Vincent (Key Animator)

ezgif.com-video-to-gif(1)

Yuki Hayashi

[Previous Works Include]

  • Toriko episode 6 [Key Animator]
  • Summer Wars film – creature fight sequence inside virtual reality space.
  • Kurage no Shokudou OVA – running sequence where the camera pans backwards revealing a wide shot of night time against the ocean and very fluid character acting scenes through the water.

ezgif.com-video-to-gif(2)

 

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Top 10 Best Original Video Animations (OVA’s or OAV’s)

I am at my 500th post!  Ever since I began this blog I haven’t really spent time on discussing original video animations, more popularly known as OVAs.  These are episodes produced exclusively for home video releases.  Often times a broadcaster will air these on television months or sometimes years later.  They often are marked as special episodes–adding something extra to a full-fledged TV series and sometimes we see brand news works originating out of OVAs. In 2008, the term OAD caught on–Original Animation DVD where typically these are bundled with source-material manga. (An example are the Attack on Titan OADs) Also, OVA episodes usually have a higher budget than TV series because they don’t have to follow a stringent schedule or timeblock deadlines. There is also no required length these episodes need to be.

What makes this list are OVAs that were tightly directed, a unique and/or beautiful style in animation, storytelling, music and characterization. If you’ve read my previous Top 10 then you’ll notice it’s in the same format as before.  Without further ado here is the list.

#10

Wasurenagumo

[From Young Animator’s Training Project 2012]

vlcsnap-2016-06-01-21h26m10s041 vlcsnap-2016-06-04-20h05m48s201 vlcsnap-2016-06-04-20h07m12s704 vlcsnap-2016-06-04-20h07m35s822

This story involves the shopkeeper Suzuri of Kokumondou who sells historic books and Mizuki, granddaughter of the land owner. When Mizuki releases a somewhat cute young spider demon out of a sealed book, the pair investigate the origins behind it.

Animation Production: Production I.G. ( PSYCHO-PASSGhost in the ShellBlood+Blood-CBlood the Last VampireReal DriveReideenJoker GameSarusuberi: Miss HokusaiGiovanni’s IslandHaikyuu!!Guilty CrownLoups=GarousHigashi no EdenxxxHolic series and OVAs, FLCLThe Heroic Legend of Arslan 1991 film, Mobile Police Patlabor 1988 OVA and 1989 Film 1, Kill Bill Vol. 1 Animation Sequence, Otogi ZoshiWindy TalesGhost HoundTokyo Marble Chocolate OVA)

Director: Kaiya Toshihisa ( Key Animator on Naruto episodes 42, 44, 48, 56, 64, 68 and 92 / Key Animator on Robotics;Notes Second Opening Sequence / Animation Supervisor on Haikyuu!!‘s First and Second Opening Seqences and Second Ending Sequence / Character Designer on World Trigger)

Sceenplay: Daishiro Tanimura ( Series Composition on Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san / Script on Kuroko no Basuke episodes 11, 15 and 19 / Script on Suisei no Gargantia episodes 2, 5, 7, 10 and 12 / Script on Sakura Trick episodes 2, 4, 6 and 12)

Original Concept: Kaiya Toshihisa

Character Designer: Hideki Takahashi ( Key Animator on Summer Wars / Key Animator on Bleach Movie 4: Jigoku-hen / Key Animator on Toki o Kakeru Shoujo / Key Animator on PSYCHO-PASS 2 Second Opening Sequence / Key Animator on Shingeki no Kyojin‘s Second Opening Sequence / Animation Supervisor on Robotics;Notes‘ First and Second Opening and Ending Sequences / Key Animator on Neon Genesis Evangelion episode 7 / Key Animator on BLEACH episode 341)

Music: Yasuo Sugibayashi ( Music Composer on Tansuwarashi / Composer, Singer and Guitarist for the band Qujila)


Out of the four Young Animator Training Projects from 2012 (today this is known as Anime Mirai) this was the best. Ojii-san no Lamp utilized the best kind of narrative but after seeing this I can honestly say that this OVA contained a top notch in story, animation, characters and music.  The whole reason for the Animator Training Project is to allow for an animation studio’s newest talent to shine.  With that said, Production I.G. has amazing animators;  keep in mind that this animation was produced in 2012!  In the early 90’s well into the 2000’s, Production I.G. was known for creating original projects that maintained a consistent style in animation and storytelling.  While working on adapted animated works to keep a budget flowing within their office and to their staff.  Why couldn’t I.G.’s financing director give tips to Manglobe?  Because this studio knows what its doing.  Developing Higashi no Eden, Real Drive and the guts they had with Blood-C. Wasurenagumo is highly detailed–the fluidity of the animation is so amazing you might think this OVA was actually a film.  Seems that the Japanese Government funding this certainly paid off!  What really stood out for me was the art direction–it’s very dark but uses hues of light colors to accent the characters.

Then there are the well-cast of characters in this who are absolutely amazing and some of the best acting out of an OVA I’ve seen from the Mirai Project!  Suzuri and his assistant find themselves in a situation quite out of the ordinary–meeting a spider in the form of a girl.  In traditional Japanese folklore, there is a creature called the Jurogumo which has the body of a spider and the torso of a beautiful woman. The Jurogumo will attract men looking for love, only to quickly devour them after mating just like a real spider.  Lures men to their doom is very similar to the Siren from Greek mythology.  Throughout this OVA we are led to believe that this is a comedy–visually we are given a girl straight out of a moe series and to top it off the character designs look similar to a P.A. Works title.  The ending is mind blowing and totally not what I had expected.  Came out of left-field and makes me wonder why they couldn’t make more of this.  This would be a pretty decent series if it was even adapted for 1-cour.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10


#9

FREEDOM PROJECT

[7 episodes in total]

vlcsnap-2016-06-08-16h25m43s850 vlcsnap-2016-06-08-16h26m08s593 vlcsnap-2016-06-08-16h27m02s513 vlcsnap-2016-06-08-16h27m38s144

Animation Production: Sunrise ( Cowboy BebopSpace Battleship Yamato (1975), Cyborg 009 (1979), Space Runaway IdeonCode GeassGintamaInuyashaLove Live! School Idol ProjectKakumeiki ValvraveMobile Suit GundamTenkuu no EscaflowneThe Big OKing of ThornsCity HunterTiger & BunnyGasarakiRanma 1/2Norageki!KurokamiSarusuberi: Miss HokusaiKoi SentoPlanetes)

Director: Shuhei Morita ( CGI Director on Gatchaman Crowds / Storyboard on Valvrave the Liberator episode 5 / Director on Tokyo Ghoul and Tokyo Ghoul A / Director and Script on Coicent / Director, Storyboard, Producer, CG and Editing on Kakurenbo: Hide and Seek / Director and Screenplay on Possessions)

Sceenplay: 

  • Dai Sato ( Script on Samurai Champloo episodes 5, 8, 9, 18 and 22 / Script on Space Dandy episodes 2, 6, 13 and 25 / Sript on Cowboy Bebop episodes 9, 14 and 23 / Script on Higashi no Eden (Eden of the East) episodes 3 and 8 / Screenplay on Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Individual Eleven OAV and The Laughing Man OAV / Sript on Lupin III: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna / Script on Toward the Terra episodes 12, 16 and 17)
  • Katsuhiko Chiba ( Series Composition and Script on Baby Steps / Script on Black Jack: The Two Doctors of Darkness / Script on Inuyasha / Script on Outlaw Star episodes 1-8, 10-13, 17, 21, 23-26 / Series Composition on Rune Soldier / Script on Mobile Suit Gundam Wing)

Original Concept: Katsuhiro Otomo

Character Designers: 

  • Atsushi Irie ( Key Animator on Coicent / Animation Director on Comet Lucifer episodes 7 and 12 / Character Designer, Animation Director and Key Animator on Steamboy / Key Animator on Tekkonkinkreet / In-Between Animator on Grave of the Fireflies / Animation Director Noein episode 17 / Key Animator on Tokyo Ravens‘ Opening Sequence)

Music: Yoshihiro Ike ( Music Composer on Blood the Last VampireErgo ProxyShisha no Teikoku: Empire of CorpsesHarmonyNoblesse AwakeningShingeki no Bahamut: GenesisKarasTiger & BunnyTelepathy Shojo Ran)


FREEDOM Project was a Japanese promotional work created by Nissin Cup Noodles under the direct supervision of famed Akira director and creator Katsuhiro Otomo.  This is actually one of the few anime (at the time) to be rendered in 3D cell-shaded CG. This style isn’t for everyone–if you have seen Ajin or Sidonia no Kishi then I would highly recommend checking this OVA series out.  It’s around 7 episodes total about kids discovering the Earth wasn’t destroyed after all, their journey to fight against the very society bound by lies, and their journey to meet a girl in the photo that starts this sci-fi story!  This is an over glorified view of teens off on an adventure.  FREEDOM is a solid representation of what the shounen genre is–teens being idiotic.  Typically we see characters doing stupid things for the sake of dramatic effect–I don’t see that with this OVA series because we never really get that feeling here.  Takeru and his friend Biz act amazed at witnessing a world they believed was erased from existence this show time and time again plays with that very well–especially when these two interact with other world human characters!  I also like how subdued the romance is in this with the final episode however I do have my gripes that this couldn’t be longer with a couple more episodes.  Kazuma’s fight with Takeru is rushed and the main leader of Eden is barely touched on.  Considering these points it is good to see a show so entertaining that builds its characters up nicely on a straightforward path.


#8

Kigeki [Comedy]

vlcsnap-2016-06-05-19h24m10s188 vlcsnap-2016-06-05-19h24m19s832 vlcsnap-2016-06-05-19h24m35s932 vlcsnap-2016-06-05-19h26m33s153

Animation Production: 

  • Production I.G. ( PSYCHO-PASSGhost in the ShellBlood+Blood-CBlood the Last VampireReal DriveReideenJoker GameSarusuberi: Miss HokusaiGiovanni’s IslandHaikyuu!!Guilty CrownLoups=GarousHigashi no EdenxxxHolic series and OVAs, FLCLThe Heroic Legend of Arslan 1991 film, Mobile Police Patlabor 1988 OVA and 1989 Film 1, Kill Bill Vol. 1 Animation Sequence, Otogi ZoshiWindy TalesGhost HoundTokyo Marble Chocolate OVA)
  • Studio 4C ( Beyond OAV, Amazing Nuts! OAV, Baby Blue [from Genius Party Collection], Berserk: The Golden Age Arc Films, Deathtic 4, Detective Story [from the Animatrix Collection], Eikyuu KazokuHigan OAVKid’s Story OAVMahou ShoujotaiMoondriveShanghai DragonSprigganTekkonkinkreetThundercats 2011Transformers: Animated U.S. VersionUrarochi DiamondTojin Kit [from the Genius Party Collection])

Director: Kazuto Nakazawa ( Director on Blood+‘s Second Opening Sequence / Character Designer on DAYS / Key Animator on Death Parade‘s Opening Sequence / Character Designer on El Hazard / Character Designer and Chief Animation Director on Hells film / Key Animator on Ergo Proxy‘s Opening Sequence / Character Designer, Chief Animation Director on Sarai-ya Goyo (House of Five Leaves) / Storyboard, Animation Director and Key Animator on Sakamichi no Apollon’s (Kids on the Slope) Opening Sequence / Director and Script on Parasite Dolls OAV / Character Designer, Chief Animation Director on Samurai Champloo / Character Designer, Chief Animation Director on Zankyou no Terror (Terror in Tokyo) / Director, Chief Animation Director, Key Animator on Vassalord OVA)

Sceenplay: Kazuto Nakazawa

Original Work: Rika Hataketa

Character Designer: Kazuto Nakazawa

Music: Franz Peter Schubert’s “Ave Maria”

Anyone that reads my blog and that read my Blog Challenge post would know why this is in my Top 10 Best OVAs.  Kigeki is one short is a series of five Studio 4C produced animations as a direct-to-DVD film entitled Deep Imagination. Amazing voice acting, incredible visuals including that beautifully fluid fight sequence and features Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria. It’s been noted that this OVA was inspired from Schubert’s piece Erikonig. Not many series take place in Ireland. Actually I can’t think of any right now.  It’s great to see Japanese creators shifting away from their homeland to write stories in other countries. Michiko e Hatchin took place in Brazil. Bacanno! was set in the U.S. during the 1930’s. There are also a few series that utilize a European setting–GosickIkoku Meiro no CroiseeLe Chevalier D’EonNoir and most notably Rose of Versailles.  Nice breakaway from the norm.

 Taking place during the Irish War of Independence, Kigeki situates its story when a five-year old girl goes on a journey to recruit the infamous Black Swordsman.  The gothic presentation and eerie background designs capture this feeling that the anime is gradually coming alive as you watch it!  Every scene flows naturally and by the end makes you wanting more!  I wish that Studio 4C could have turned this story into a series because this was beautifully dark! A story set in fairy-tale fashion combined with a grim and supernatural presence.


#7

Hellsing Ultimate

[10 episodes + Hellsing: The Dawn 3 Episode Arc OVAs]

vlcsnap-2016-06-13-20h18m17s047 vlcsnap-2016-06-13-20h19m07s141 vlcsnap-2016-06-13-20h20m47s528 vlcsnap-2016-06-13-20h22m38s495

 

Animation Production: Studio MADHOUSE ( BECK: Mongolian Chop SquadBoogiepop PhantomAoi BungakuBarefoot GenBlack LagoonBio HunterCasshern SINSCardcaptor SakuraChobitsChihayafuruGungraveThe Girl Who Leapt Through TimeHajime no IppoHellsing Ultimate, Highschool of the DeadHunter x Hunter 2011KaibaKurozukaDenno CoilLast Order: Final Fantasy VIIDeath NoteDeath ParadeNeo TokyoNinja ScrollParadise KissParanoia AgentKiseijuuRecord of Lodoss WarPaprikaPrince of Stride: AlternativeMonster, Moryo no HakoSummer WarsThe Tatami GalaxyTokyo GodfathersTrigunWicked CityDemon City ShinjukuXWolf Children)

Directors: 

  • Tomokazu Tokoro [Episodes 1 – 4] ( Key Animator on AD Police episode 3 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Accel World episodes 13 and 20 / Key Animator on Black Magic M-66 / Key Animator on Armitage III / Episode Director and Key Animator on Chihayafuru episode 4 / Storyboard and Art Design on Hikaru no Go episodes 9, 13 and 21 / Key Animator on Serial Experiments Lain‘s Opening Sequence / Animation Director on Tekkaman Blade episode 45 / Storyboard on Texhnolyze episode 9)
  • Hiroyuki Tanaka [Episodes 5-7, 9 and 10] ( Episode Director Cooperation on BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad episodes 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26 / Director and Storyboard on Claymore / Producer at AVEX Entertainment / Episode Director on Kemonozume episode 4 / Assistant Director on Shisha no Teikoku: Empire of Corpses / CG Artist on Memories / Assistant Unit Director on Ninja Scroll film / Storyboard and Episode Director on Ninja Scroll episode 9 / Assistant Director on X the movie / Episode Director and Storyboard on Guilty Crown episodes 2 and 10)
  • Yasuhiro Matsumura [Episode 8] ( Series Director on The Adventures of Mini-Goddess / Episode Director and Key Animator on Aldnoah.Zero episodes 6 and 16 / Episode Director on Legend of the Galactic Heroes OAV / Episode Director on Master Keaton episode 29 / Storyboard on Noein episode 3 / Director on Papillon Rose / Director on Landlock OAV)

Sceenplay: 

  • Yousuke Kuroda ( Script on Battle Athletes Victory / Series Composition, Scenario and Ending Theme Song Lyrics on Best Student Council / Script on Drifters / Script on Excel Saga / Script on Honey and Clover / Series Composition and Script on Jormungand / Scenario on Love Hina episode 14 / Series Composition on Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia) / Series Composition on Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom / Series Composition on Trigun / Screenplay on Ano Natsu de Matteru)
  • Hideyuki Kurata ( Series Composition and Screenplay on Android Ana Maico 2010 / Screenplay on Galilei Donna / Script on GunXSword / Series Composition on Oreimo / Story and Original Creator on R.O.D. Read or Die / Series Composition on Samurai Flamenco / Series Composition on The World God Only Knows)

Original Work: Kouta Hirano ( Creator on the following manga works: Coyote – Hangyaku no Resistance, Drifters, Hi Tension, Ikaryaku, Susume!! Seigaku Denno Kenkyubu)

Character Designer: Ryoji Nakamori ( Key Animator and Lead Animation Designer on BLEACH / Character Designer and Chief Animation Director on Drifters / Key Animator on Saber Marionette J episode 20 / In-Between Animator on New Dominion Tank Police / Key Animator on Akatsuki no Yona (Yona of the Dawn))

Music: Hayato Matsuo ( Music Composer for the following works: Captain Kuppa, Haunted Junction, Drifters, Magic Knight Rayearth, Les Miserables- Shojo Cosette, Transformers: Armada, The World God Only Knows)

The original Hellsing is very different to the OVAs.  Everything from story to music down to its cast of wildly ambitious characters.  The question is which one to watch? Hellsing pales in comparison to the Ultimate series. OVAs have a huge advantage to TV broadcast series and that is they don’t have to follow much of a broadcasting schedule, editing for television and ensure a demographic is met per episode.  With OVAs they can take as much time as the committee allows which is a large reason why every episode in Hellsing Ultimate is beautifully animated. Not to mention why many of these were delayed for a year to 6 months at a time.  MADHOUSE repeatedly gives us an amazing looking series and Hellsing Ultimate is no different.  Alucard is a vampire that fights ghouls and demons.  His maniacal presence is highly entertaining to watch!   Working alongside the police-girl-turned-vampire, Seras Victoria.  She’s one of the few characters that has a slight human aura to her.  While Alucard is the trademark protagonist of Hellsing Ultimate it’s Seras that is the real lead. Her transformative process that we see throughout this series from human to vampire is compelling (and sometimes grueling to see) is the real heart of this show.  There isn’t a single character in this that’s boring.  Everyone has their odd quirks and are extremely colorful. Even its villains! A good balance that features a gruesome presentation and a dark setting.  It also contains a silliness to its gore that can be off-putting to some viewers at times. So if you can’t handle cannibalism or extreme violence do not watch this one.


#6

The Cockpit

[3 episodes in total]

vlcsnap-2016-06-08-18h21m05s003 vlcsnap-2016-06-08-18h25m01s961vlcsnap-2016-06-08-18h22m20s174 vlcsnap-2016-06-08-18h23m30s397

Animation Production: Studio MADHOUSE ( BECK: Mongolian Chop SquadBoogiepop PhantomAoi BungakuBarefoot GenBlack LagoonBio HunterCasshern SINSCardcaptor SakuraChobitsChihayafuruGungraveThe Girl Who Leapt Through TimeHajime no IppoHellsing Ultimate, Highschool of the DeadHunter x Hunter 2011KaibaKurozukaDenno CoilLast Order: Final Fantasy VIIDeath NoteDeath ParadeNeo TokyoNinja ScrollParadise KissParanoia AgentKiseijuuRecord of Lodoss WarPaprikaPrince of Stride: AlternativeMonster, Moryo no HakoSummer WarsThe Tatami GalaxyTokyo GodfathersTrigunWicked CityDemon City ShinjukuXWolf Children)

Directors: 

  • Yoshiaki Kawajiri [Episode 1] ( Key Animation on Barefoot Gen films 1 and 2 / Script, Key Animator and Supervisor on Biohunter / Key Animator on Black Jack Final episode 2 / Storyboard on Chihayafuru‘s First Ending Sequence / Director and Character Designer on Demon City Shinjuku / Animator on Gatchaman episode 10 / Key Animator on Dino Mech Gaiking‘s Opening Sequence / Director on Goku: Midnight Eye OAV’s 1 and 2 / Director, Storyboard, Character Designer and Key Animator on Lensman film / Script and Storyboard on Master Keaton episode 34 / Key Animator and Layout Design on Metropolis film / Director, Screenplay, Original Creator, Original Character Designer and Key Animator on Ninja Scroll film / Storyboard on One-Punch Man episodes 8, 9, 10 and 11 / Storyboard on Pet Shop of Horrors episode 3 / Director, Screenplay, Character Designer and Animation Director on Running Man film / Storyboard on Rokka no Yusha episode 12 / Director, Character Designer and Animation Director on Wicked City film / Director, Script and Storyboard on X TV Series and film)
  • Takashi Imanishi Episode 2] ( Director on Aoki Ryusei SPT Layzner‘s Opening Sequence / Director on Afro Ken OAV / Director on Armored Trooper Votoms: The Heretic Saint OAV / Director on Gundam Evolve OVA / Setting Production on Panzer World Galient / Director and Screeplay on Violinist of Hamelin film)
  • Ryousuke Takahashi [Episode 3] ( Episode Director on Animal 1 / Series Composition and Original Creator on Armored Trooper Votoms / Director and Original Creator on Gasaraki / Episode Director on Moomin / Chief Director on Ozma / Director on Phoenix / Production Assistant and Title Designer on Samurai 7)

Sceenplay: 

  • Yoshiaki Kawajiri [ Episode 1]
  • Takashi Waguri [ Episode 2]
  • Ryousuke Takahashi [ Episode 3]

Original Manga: Leiji Matsumoto ( Original Creator of the following works: Captain Harlock
, Galaxy Express 999, Ginga Tetsudo 999, Gun Frontier, Harlock Saga, Interstella 5555 / The Galaxy Railways, Maetel LEgend, Marine Snow no Densetsu, Ozma, Planet Robot Danguard Ace, Queen Emeraldas, Slipstream, Space Battleship Yamato, Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Star Blazers)

Character Designers:

  • Yoshiaki Kawajiri [Episode 1]
  • Toshihiro Kawamoto [Episode 2] ( Key Animator on Blood: The Last Vampire / Key Animator on City Hunter: Bay City Wars / Character Designer, Chief Animation Director on Cowboy Bebop / In-Between Animator on Dirty Pair / Assistant Chief Animator on Escaflowne: The Movie / Key Animator on FullMetal Alchemist: BROTHERHOOD‘s First Opening Sequence / Character Designer on Ghost Slayers Ayashi)
  • Yoshinobu Saito [Episode 3]

Music: 

  • Masahiro Kawasaki [Episode 1] ( Music Composer for the following works: Ashita Genki ni Nare! ~Hanbun no Satsumaimo~ film, Gegege no Kitaro, Himitsu no Akko-chan Season 3, Mischievous Twins, Neighborhood Story, Slipstream OAV, Street Fighter II V, Tenjohen – Utsunomiko film)
  • Akira Inoue [Episode 2] ( Music Composer for the following works: Harlock Saga‘s Ending Song, Lensman film, Lily C.A.T. OAV, Sonic Boom Squadron, Super Dimensional Fortress Macross II: The Movie)
  • Kaoru Wada [Episode 3] ( Music Composer for the following works: D.Gray-man, D.Gray-man Hallow, Fencer of Minerva OAV, 3×3 Eyes OAV, Ace Attorney, Gilgamesh, Ghost Stories, Hakaba Kitaro, Inuyasha, Ninja Scroll film, Princess Tutu, Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight, Samurai 7, Silent Mobius, Strange Dawn, Tekkaman Blade, To Heart)

Leiji Matsumoto is one of the most well-known creators in Japan.  HIs popularity stems from the success of Galaxy Express 999 and Captain Harlock.  Most of his stories are told in the vast reaches of space–suitably named “space opera” anime.  Characters that hold a sense of justice and are always fighting someone or something.  What makes Cockpit truly special is that it doesn’t have anything to do with pirates, space or aliens.  A 3 episode OVA series that have entirely original stories focused on World War II. This wouldn’t be a Matsumoto work without a feeling of drama and his style is very opera-esque.  All three of these episodes were done by entirely different directors.  The first one by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, you might know his work from Birdy the Mighty and the original Ninja Scroll film.  Focusing on a German pilot, Erhart von Leinders and his mission to use the atomic bomb.  Kawajiri follows the Matsumoto trend and focuses much of this episode’s time on emotional conflict–should a weapon of mass destruction like this be used?

The second one is from Gundam animator Takashi Imaishi.  This was the heartbreaking story of the three.  It’s about kamikaze pilots and their sense of duty and pride for their country.  By the end of this episode, alludes to the idea that this was a senseless act.  The visuals matched perfectly to the music.  There is one point where a pilot is screaming and then the next shot his plane is completely engulfed in flames without ever dramatizing it like the previous episode does in Matsumoto fashion.

Then there is my least favorite out of the three. This is because this story focuses on being funny rather than serious like the previous OVAs had been.  A bond between a war veteran and a rookie in the first five minutes sounds promising but doesn’t engage you as the first two do!

The Cockpit is a part of this list because it steers away from a glorified Japan.  Depicting the brutality of World War II and how the Japanese fought during it.


#5

Eikyuu Kazoku

vlcsnap-2016-06-05-19h32m11s737 vlcsnap-2016-06-05-19h32m42s198vlcsnap-2016-06-05-19h33m31s152 vlcsnap-2016-06-05-19h35m54s256

Animation Production: Studio 4°C ( Beyond OAV, Amazing Nuts! OAV, Baby Blue [from Genius Party Collection], Berserk: The Golden Age Arc Films, Deathtic 4, Detective Story [from the Animatrix Collection], Eikyuu Kazoku, Higan OAVKid’s Story OAV, Mahou ShoujotaiMoondriveShanghai DragonSprigganTekkonkinkreetThundercats 2011Transformers: Animated U.S. VersionUrarochi DiamondTojin Kit [from the Genius Party Collection])

Director: Koji Morimoto ( Assistant Chief Animator on Akira film / Director and Character Designer on Ai Monogatari OAV “Hero” / Key Animator on City Hunter‘s Opening Sequence / Director on Connected OVA / Director, Storyboard, Character Designer and Animation Director on Genius Party Collection‘s “Dimension Bomb” / Director on Four Day Weekend OAV / Lead Animator on Concert Scene from Macross Plus Movie Edition / Animator on Short Peace‘s Opening Segment / Storyboard on Tekkonkinkreet film / Key Animator on Genius Party‘s “Tojin Kit“)

Sceenplay: 

  • Dai Sato ( Script on Samurai Champloo episodes 5, 8, 9, 18 and 22 / Script on Space Dandy episodes 2, 6, 13 and 25 / Sript on Cowboy Bebop episodes 9, 14 and 23 / Script on Higashi no Eden (Eden of the East) episodes 3 and 8 / Screenplay on Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Individual Eleven OAV and The Laughing Man OAV / Sript on Lupin III: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna / Script on Toward the Terra episodes 12, 16 and 17)
  • Koji Morimoto

Original Concept: Koji Morimoto

Character Designers: 

  • Koji Morimoto

Music: Chito Kawachi ( Music Composer for the following works: Ranpou, Wonderful Adventures of Nils)


The mid 90’s certainly were a time for Studio 4C.  Working on animation sequences from Akira to Masaaki Yuasa’s Mind Game film and the latest entry into the Project Itoh film trilogy, Harmony. You can read my review on that film here. The studio has established themselves outside the realm of normal Japanese Animation Studios by enriching their works with odd stories and wild animation techniques.  They’re a different breed of Japanese anime in that many of their works stray from traditional animation.  Eikyuu Kazoku reminds me of how they handled Tekkonkinkreet visual style Overall, Eikyuu Kazoku is as strange as they come.  If you like messy art then you will certainly end up enjoying Kazoku.  Heck, even fans of Ping Pong The Animation or Kaiba–both of which are Masaaki Yuasa-directed series will pull you into this bizarre OVA.

Eikyuu Kazoku‘s literal English translation is Eternal Family.   And an odd family they are.  In fact they aren’t even a biological family at all! The story is that they’ve been brainwashed to believe they are.  So much creativity spread across the board with this!  A baby running around with scissors, a pyromaniac daughter, another son that loves guns and one of the weirdest members of the family is the other daughter that has a puppet speak for her.  It’s as if I was watching a full series focused on Satoshi Kon’s Tokyo Godfather‘s homeless cast told in vignettes.  The pacing in this is quick and highly energetic.  A fantastic OVA!


#4

FLCL

[6 episodes in total]

vlcsnap-2016-06-08-17h20m24s105 vlcsnap-2016-06-08-17h20m48s821 vlcsnap-2016-06-08-17h21m43s751 vlcsnap-2016-06-08-17h22m31s335

Animation Production: 

  • GAINAX (Abenobashi: Magical Shopping Arcade, Shikabane Hime, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Nadia: The Secret of the Blue Water, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, Medaka Box, Magica Wars, Wish Upon the Pleiades, Melody of Oblivion, Mahoromatic, His and Her Circumstances, He is My Master, This Ugly Yet Beautiful World, Dantalian no Shoka)
  • Production I.G. (PSYCHO-PASSGhost in the ShellBlood+Blood-CBlood the Last VampireReal DriveReideenJoker GameSarusuberi: Miss HokusaiGiovanni’s IslandHaikyuu!!Guilty CrownLoups=GarousHigashi no EdenxxxHolic series and OVAs, FLCLThe Heroic Legend of Arslan 1991 film, Mobile Police Patlabor 1988 OVA and 1989 Film 1, Kill Bill Vol. 1 Animation Sequence, Otogi ZoshiWindy TalesGhost HoundTokyo Marble Chocolate OVA)

Series Director:  Kazuya Tsurumaki (Episode Director on Berserk episode 1 / Storyboard and Unit Director on Captain Earth‘s First Opening Sequence / Storyboard on Shikabane Hime‘s Opening Sequence / Key Animator on Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture / Director and Storyboard on Gunbuster OAV / Storyboard on The Idolmaster episode 4 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Kill la Kill‘s Episode 24 “Epilogue” / Key Animator on Kimagure Orange Road OAV / In-Between Animator on Maison Ikkoku episodes 3 and 9 / Episode Director on Neon Genesis Evangelion episodes 1, 2, 8, 16, 25 and 26 / Unit Director on Neon Genesis Evangelion‘s Opening Sequence / Key Animator on Noir episode 26 / Storbyoard on STAR DRIVER‘s Second Opening Sequence / Key Animator on Shojo Kakumei Utena episode 37)

Script: Yoji Enokido ( Series Composition on Bungo Stray Dogs / Series Composition and Screenplay on Captain Earth / Script on Neon Genesis Evangelion episodes 2, 7, 8 and 11 / Series Composition and Script on Nodame Cantabile: Paris-hen / Series Composition and Script on Ouran High School Host Club / Script on Redline film / Screenplay on RahXephon / Series Composition and Script on Shojo Kakumei Utena / Series Composition and Script on STAR DRIVER)

Original Concept: Kazuya Tsurumaki

Original Character Designer: Yoshiyuki Sadamoto ( Character Designer on Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) live-action films / Character Designer on Girl Who Leapt Through Time film / Character Designer on .hack full series / Character Designer and Animation Director on Nadia Secret of the Blue Water / Character Designer on Neon Genesis Evangelion films and TV series / Character Designer on Robot Carnival OAV’s “A Tale of Two Robots: Chapter Meiji” / Story and Art on Route 20 manga / Character Designer on Summer Wars manga and film / Character Designer on Wolf Children manga and film)

Music: The Pillows

Now here is an OVA series that is strange. How do I even put a label on this OVA series?  Is it a comedy or drama?  Action? Mystery? Supernatural?  How about all of the above. FLCL is a first of its kind when it comes to delivering an exceeding amount of comedic gags.  Actually if it wasn’t for Excel Saga‘s relentless attempts at comedy I probably wouldn’t have liked FLCL as much as I did.  Limitless in its routine structure–both visually and story-wise. The Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt’s and Space Patrol Luluco’s of the early 2000’s.  Speaking of visuals the style utilizes a solid color palette ranging from super brights to dark sublime tonal colors.  Very deceiving for the creators to do this because it leads you to believe that this will be a slice-of-life show about kids and teens.  FLCL is an achievement in animation because it uses its background designs to enrich the character’s actions and emotional states perfectly.  Confusing and conflicted characters that balance one another (especially with Naoto and Haruko) with a payoff that screams spastic delivery.  Naoto suffers from sexual frustration resulting in nosebleeds reminding us that we’re watching a kid discovering there is more to the outside world than just his town.  His bat exemplifies his behavior and the absurd challenges he faces throughout–monsters, aliens, and a woman filled with his adult desires.  This series warrants multiple viewings because of how closely connected each episode layers on literal and metaphorical meanings resulting in a highly energizing and entertaining animated experience!


#3

Patlabor: Early Days

[7 episodes in total]

vlcsnap-2016-06-08-16h57m09s239 vlcsnap-2016-06-08-16h57m17s473 vlcsnap-2016-06-08-16h57m32s312 vlcsnap-2016-06-08-16h58m24s399

Animation Production: Studio DEEN ( Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, Sakamoto desu ga?, Urusei Yatsura, Angel’s Egg, Maison Ikkoku, Ranma 1/2, You’re Under Arrest, Zenki, Ehrgeiz, Eden’s Bowy, Gravitation, Fruits Basket, Read or Die R.O.D., Samurai Deeper Kyo, Rave Master, Law of Ueki, Simoun, Tactics, 07 Ghost, Vampire Knight, Giant Killing, Nurarihyon no Mago, Starry Sky, Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?, Sankarea, Pupa, Sakura Trick, Hybrid Child OVA, Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o!, Super Lovers, Fate/Stay Night (2006), Zipang, Domain of Murder OVA)

Director: Mamoru Oshii ( Original Creator on Blood: The Last Vampire nove, film and manga / Director and Screenplay on Dallos OAV / Director and Storyboard on Ghost in the Shell film and TV series / Director on Sky Crawlers film / Director on Urusei Yatsura / Supervision on Windy Tales / Director on The Wonderful Adventures of Nils both film and TV series)

Script: Kazunori Ito ( Screenplay on Dirty Pair / Screenplay on Maison Ikkoku / Screenplay on Ghost in the Shell film / Screenplay on Avalon / Screenplay and Script on .hack series / Screenplay on Absolute Boy)

Original Concept: Headgear [The group consists of director Mamoru Oshii, writer Kazunori Ito, mecha designer Yutaka Izubuchi, character designer Akemi Takada and manga artist Masami Yuki]

Character Designer: Akemi Takada ( Character Designer on CoCO & NiCO / Character Designer on Fancy Lala / Character Designer on Magical Angel Creamy Mami / Character Designer on Maison Ikkoku / Character Designer and Animation Director on Urusei Yatsura / Created the Capital Police Emblem Design from Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade)

Music: Kenji Kawai (Music Composer for the following works: Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider, Maison Ikkoku, Devilman, Project A-ko, Burn Up!, Ranma 1/2, Blue Seed, Ghost in the Shell film, You’re Under Arrest, Sky Crawlers film, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Higashi no Eden (Eden of the East), Barakamon, Joker Game, Mob Psycho 100, World Trigger, 009:Re:Cyborg film)

The best part about seeing Patlabor is that we get to see some many different sides of Mamoru Oshii’s directing.  A few of these OVA episodes are quite funny.  A little less action [aside from the odd final seventh episode; directed by Naoyuki Yoshinaga] than what you might expect from a mecha series.  Essentially this is a comedy/drama series about pilots’ lives during missions.  Episode one, transitions smoothly from comedy to seriousness in ways that many anime of today can’t pull off in 1-cour!  The OVAs are brilliant because it gives a new viewer a taste of its like-able cast, mecha setting and compelling collection of side-stories that round out the cast wonderfully.  If anything I would recommend watching these first before diving into the 50-episode series.  The main series may be a bit of a daunting task to jump into but with these OVAs it helps you enjoy the regular story a lot more and as to why Patlabor: Early Days makes this list!

[7 episodes in total]

#2

Macross Plus

[4 episodes then re-released in Movie Edition format]

vlcsnap-2016-06-08-18h08m44s059 vlcsnap-2016-06-08-18h09m21s054 vlcsnap-2016-06-08-18h10m29s717 vlcsnap-2016-06-08-18h13m08s070

Animation Production: Triangle Staff (Aoi & Mutsuki: A Pair of Queens, Boogiepop Phantom, Colorful film, Go Nagai World OAV, Magic User’s Club!, NieA_7, Serial Experiments Lain, Space Pirate Mito, St. Luminous Mission High School, Venus Wars film)

Chief Director: Shoji Kawamori ( Director, Series Composition, Screenplay and Original Creator on Aquarion / Mechanical Design on Moretsu Pirates / Original Creator on Basquash! / Conceptual Design on the Nirvash from Eureka Seven / Original Creator of the entirety of Macross / Original Creator and Series Composition on Nobunaga the Fool, Storyboard on Noein episode 20 / Original Creator and Director on Escaflowne)

Director: Shinichiro Watanabe (Director and Creator on Cowboy Bebop / Director on Samurai Champloo / Music Producer on Michiko e Hatchin / Music Director on Mind Game film / Storyboard on Mobile Suit Gundam Wing episode 34 / Director on Cancelled Project T.A.T.u. Paragate / Storyboard on Ergo Proxy episode 19 / Director on Death Parade‘s Ending Sequence / Storyboard on Birdy the Mighty: Decode episode 12 / Director on Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope) / Chief Animation Director on Space Dandy / Director and Storyboard on Zankyou no Terror [Terror in Tokyo], Storyboard and Unit Director on STAR DRIVER‘s First Opening Sequence / Storyboard and Unit Director on Space Dandy‘s Opening Sequence)

Screenplay: Keiko Nobumoto ( Series Composition and Script on Cowboy Bebop / Script on Space Dandy episodes 8, 15, 19 and 22 / Screenplay on Tokyo Godfathers film / Original Creator and Script on Wolf’s Rain)

Original Concept: Shoji Kawamori

Character Designer: Masayuki ( Character Designer and Animation Director on BAOH OAV / Character Designer on Duel Masters / Director on Neon Genesis Evangelion films / Storyboard on Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann episode 15 / Storyboard on Kill la Kill episode 14 / Key Animator on Now and Then, Here and There episode 1 / Storyboard on Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt episode 18 / Key Animator on Project A-Ko film / Director and Key Animator on Re: Cutie Honey OAV Episode 3 / Animation Director on Vampiyan Kids episode 6)

Music: Yoko Kanno (Music Composer for the following works: Cowboy Bebop, Aquarion, Darker Than Black, Escaflowne, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Sakamichi no Apollon [Kids on the Slope], entire Macross franchise, Space Dandy, Zankyou no Terror, Wolf’s Rain)

Incredibly focused.  Really solid voice acting.  Spectacular visuals.  An OVA series turned feature length film with amazing characterization. A tour de force.  The decision to not develop the shallow side-cast heightens many strengths Macross Plus carries throughout its 4 episodes.  Engaging, relatable, and down-to-earth main characters. A grandiose character study between a pilot’s duty and relationships in life.  It is not big surprise why this is so damn good.  The original creator of Macross Shoji Kawamori and Cowboy Bebop director Shinichiro Watanabe collaborated on this!  This was the first time Watanabe got a chance to co-direct an animated project.  It was also the began Yoko Kanno’s working relationship with Watanabe! The soundtrack is superb and contains the most amazing pieces of music you will ever hear to an animated series/feature film!  Establishing strong emotional music that lifts every scene together to great heights.  The animation isn’t the best of its time but it is the smoothest you’ll see. Overall, the payoff is an incredibly constructed ending!  It couldn’t have been any better it was perfect!  This is one of the most dramatic endings I have ever seen!


#1

Vampire Hunter D

vlcsnap-2016-06-09-12h26m37s314 vlcsnap-2016-06-09-12h27m44s784 vlcsnap-2016-06-09-12h31m24s819 vlcsnap-2016-06-09-12h32m08s667

Animation Production:

  • Ashi Productions ( 8 Man After, Ai City film, Beast Wars II Cho Seimeitai Transformers, Blue Seed, Doctor Chichibuyama, In-Between Animation on Dog of Flanders film)
  • Studio Live (Amon-Apocalupse of Devilman OAV, Character Designs and In-Between Animation on Future GPX Cyber Formula TV Series and OAV’s “11” and “Zero” / 2nd Key Animation on Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin Episode 11 / In-Between Animation work on over hundreds of series including Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED), Endride, Eureka Seven, Fairy Tail, Aku no Hana, Heat Guy J, Hunter x Hunter Original and 2011 Series, The IdolMasterKurenaiKing of Thorn film, Miss Hokusai film, Mobile Suit Gundam 00NarutoSenko no Night RaidReal Drive, Rio – Rainbow Gate!Rurouni KenshinSailor MoonSamurai ChamplooUN-GOShigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)Cowboy Bebop)

Director: Toyoo Ashida (Character Designer and Animation Director on Alps no Shojo Heidi / Animation Director on Candy Candy / Character Designer on Fairy Princess Minky Momo / Director and Original Character Designer on Gdleen / Animation Director on Galaxy Express 999 / Producer for Love Love? / Character Designer and Animation Director on Star Blazers)

Screenplay: Yasushi Hirano (Series Composition and Screenplay on 6 Angels film / Series Composition on City Hunter / Script on Dragon Ball / Script on Lupin III: Part III / Script on Ninja Scroll episodes 7, 10, 12 and 13 / Series Composition on Showa Monogatari / Screenplay on Ultraman)

Original Concept: Based on the novels written by Hideyuki Kikuchi and illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano.

Character Designer: Yoshitaka Amano (Lead Character Designer on the Final Fantasy video-game series / Original Creator and Original Character Designer on Amon Saga OAV / Original Character Designer on Ayakashi – Samurai Horror Tales “Yotsuya Kaidan” arc / Original Character Designer on Final Fantasy: Unlimited / Character Designer on Lily C.A.T. OAV / Character Designer on Casshan / Original Character Designer on Tekkaman, The Space Knight)

Music: Tetsuya Komuro (Music Composer for the following works: Carol OAV, City Hunter‘s Theme Songs, Cyborg 009, Punch-Line, Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie / Theme Song Composition on Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S in Episode 24)

One of the big reasons why Vampire Hunter D is number one is because it reminds me of my childhood.  On Saturday mornings the Sci-Fi Channel aired a programming block entitled “Saturday Anime”.  I grew up with seeing OVA series like 8-ManDominion Tank Police, Iria: Zeiram the Animation and Urusei Yatsura. To full length TV series Record of Lodoss War, Galaxy Express 999and Casshan Robot Hunter.  The channel also aired Japanese animated films that were heavily edited for TV featuring an English dub language track–AkiraDemon City Shinjuku and Vampire Hunter D were just a few that I can remember. The first time I watched Vampire Hunter D was around the early to mid 90’s in Japanese with fansubs.  It is great that it received a stateside release through Sci-Fi Channel’s programming block, which I saw only a few months later, but the English dub ruined much of the charm that made the Japanese cast so compelling to listen to.  It’s initial release was back in 1985 and for that time turned out to be a very beautiful OVA. You either love it or hate it.  I believe that Vampire Hunter D is a misunderstood classic.  About a girl becoming the interest of an Italian mafia-looking Vampire. A simplistic damsel-in-distress story.  If it had been made today it would probably be over-looked but over time this has become an instant classic for me.  The art including its character designs were done by Final Fantasy illustrator Yoshitaka Amano–growing up playing those video-games gave me more interest in seeing this OVA.  It also uses prolific 90’s animation director Hiromi Matsushita.  Everything about this OVA oozes with cool and utilizes an extremely dark tone of red, blue, black and green color palette. I highly recommend checking this one out if you are a fan of vampire series.


Kekkai Sensen Episode 7

Episode 7 Production Details

Episode Director: Ikuro Sato ( Director on FullMetal Alchemist: BROTHERHOOD‘s Second Ending Sequence and Third Opening Sequence / Director on STAR DRIVER‘s Second Opening Sequence / Director on No. 6‘s Opening Sequence / Director on Captain Earth‘s First Ending Sequence / Episode Director on Zetsuen no Tempest episodes 14 and 23 / Episode Director on Space Dandy episode 4 / Episode Director on Akagami no Shirayukihime episodes 5 and 11 / Episode Director on Soul Eater episodes 4, 8, 18, 24, 31, 40, 41, 48 and 51 [alongside Takuya Igarashi)

Storyboards: 

  • Yoshikazu Miyao ( Storyboard on Soul Eater Not! Ending Sequence / Storyboard on Pocket Monsters XY film / Storyboard on Magi: Sinbad no Bouken‘s Opening Sequence / Director on Magi: Sinbad no Bouken / Storyboard on Noragami Aragoto episode 7 / Storyboard on Sakura Trick episode 9 / Storyboard on Haikyuu!! episode 12)

Script: Kazuhisa Furuya (Series Composition on Kekkai Sensen)


This has got to be one of the best anime original subplots I have ever seen. It’s obvious with this episode how interconnected the Black and White plot is to the main story.  Black’s friendliness is a bit off-key compared to his moments with Femt–something is off about the guy. Either he has a split personality or he’s putting on an act in front of his sister, White and Leonardo Watch.  The references don’t let up either.  I mentioned in a previous post about Empire of Corpses throwing references in just for dramatic appeal but this show uses them in the background to develop the large cast better than before!

Leonardo confides to Black the nickname given–Tortoise Knight. A reference to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ main character Leonardo. This ties together nicely with Kekkai Sensen‘s love affair for American pop culture. Then we’ve got the other section of the story taking form–Klaus.  Zapp’s feeble attempts at gaining the upperhand against Libra’s leader is downright amusing and reflects both of their personalities extremely well.  The fight between Klaus and Ozmaldo is a brilliant idea to build up how Zapp is going to finally defeat Klaus.  We also get a few tidbits of information that Ozmaldo was taken over by a dead Elder and even when Zapp didn’t know about that gives a bit more depth to Libra’s fight against the unknown wonderfully.  I like how the dead Elder that pops out of Ozmaldo’s head looks strikingly similar to that of Deldro Brody’s appearance.

After seven episodes the story isn’t set into stone yet but I have to admit this has been an entertaining and visually freakish series. I only say this because of the ridiculous actions going on in the backgrounds of Kekkai Sensen–the diner scene of this episode.  What a ride this has been!  Glad to see this series has a solid director with Rie Matsumoto at the helm to maintain this style throughout every episode!

Was that announcer the talking toaster from Space Dandy episode 13?!  I’d like to think so!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10