Friday, November 26, 2010

Top 5 Anime Dogs

If you're not a football or shopping fan, then chances are your Thanksgiving tradition is watching the National Dog Show (all 3 of you).

We listed our Top 5 Anime Cats a while back, so we'd better balance it out with our
Top 5 Anime Dogs

(Behave and you might get a treat.)

#5 - Blue (Wolf's Rain)

Loyal and lovely, Blue is actually part wolf. In Wolf's Rain that means she can appear in human form to other people. And in Blue's case, we'd say she looks much better walking on two legs.

#4 - Sesshomaru (InuYasha)

Another stretch in our list, as Sesshomaru is the son of a dog demon father. But when provoked, this uppity aristocrat transforms into his true dog demon form. And nothing irks Sesshomaru more than his snotty younger half-brother InuYasha. (Might have something to do with little bro cutting off big bro's arm.)

#3 - Mr. Tadakichi (Azumanga Daioh)

A Great Pyrenees nearly twice the size of his owner Chiyo, Tadakichi-san is cuddly like a teddy bear. He doesn't even snap at bite-bait Sakaki, as seen in this video. Even better, Tadakichi gives pony rides. Bonus!

#2 - Washington (Project Blue Earth SOS)

A faithful sidekick to the boy genius Penny Carter, even through an alien invasion. (He can climb ladders, too!) Extra kudos for not laughing at the name of costar Lotta Brest. (What is this - middle school?)

#1 - Ein (Cowboy Bebop)

Everyone's favorite "data dog," this Pembroke Welsh Corgi is smarter than your average canine. Plus, Ein and Edward are master mushroom hunters!

That's it for now - who's a good boy?!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Next Top 5 Openings

Time flies, and we just flew past our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!

To celebrate, here's a sequel to our very FIRST Top 5 List. We're calling it the

NEXT Top 5 Anime Openings

There are so many excellent opening animation sequences and songs, we just gotta enjoy five more. (Review our list of #1-5 HERE.)

#10 - .Hack//SIGN

Step into "The World" with this anime's main characters, courtesy of composer Yuki Kajiura and her See-Saw J-Pop duo. We recommend keeping your clothes on.

#9 - Last Exile

Bagpipes and beautiful steampunk CGI animation. What else do you need?

#8 - Bleach (Opening #2)

Bleach boasts a bunch of coolness througout its openings (best episode # bumpers, too). We're partial to the second opening, with its rocking anthem featuring the Soul Society story arc.

#7 - The Vision of Escaflowne

This show beautifully blends elements of mecha and fantasy, and its Yoko Kanno-composed opening number encapsulates all this amalgam anime has to offer.

#6 - Ergo Proxy

Just how cathartic is goth? Check out this opening and enjoy the 360 degrees of anguish at the one-minute mark.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Top 5 Anime Titles

"What's in a name?

Go smell a rose, or check out if you're curious why your parents call you what they do.

As for us, we're talking about the
Top 5 Anime Titles.

We mean "titles" as the name of the anime, not the anime itself. We'll leave that for other lists.

As for THIS list, we're looking at the "anime-est" titles of all anime. Name on!

#5 - Bubblegum Crisis

Not an endorsement for Hubba Bubba. Instead, this cyberpunk show borrows from the likes of Blade Runner with more babes and bikes. The title is deeper than it sounds--it's a metaphor for a crisis-filled world, like gum being blown into a bubble about to pop! Okay, so maybe it's not that profound.

#4 - Cowboy Bebop

Another anime in a future world setting, this series features hero bounty hunters (a.k.a. "cowboys") flying around the solar system in their spaceship Bebop. One of the best shows ever, thanks to some cool characters and Yoko Kanno's musical genius.

#3 - Pumpkin Scissors

Another example of food-related anime titles, this show features an elite military squad called Imperial Army State Section III. Not very catchy, so they go by Pumpkin Scissors. Why? Apparently, their purpose is to "cut" through corrupt powers who hide "behind lies, power, and money like the rind of a pumpkin," according to officer Alice Malvin.

Hmmmm, maybe Imperial Army State Section III would be better after all. Call them "IASS III," for short.

#2 - GunXSword

Guns? Cool. Swords? Cooler.

So combine those two cool weapons with the coolest letter of all--X--in between them. That gets you one coooooool title for an anime.

Saying it becomes a problem, though. The X is silent, so don' t call the show "Gunekksssword."

#1 - Full Metal Panic!

It's not just a panic, it's a full metal panic! With an exclamation point. The title alone should clue you in on the melodramatic qualities of this anime--whether it's giant mecha battles or teenage romance. Plus, it's got an exclamation point. An exclamation point! (Another standard for anime titles.)

That gives us an idea. Wanna name an anime show? Just follow our handy-dandy anime name-maker below. Give it a try!

Pick one word out of each group--along with a punctuation mark for that final polish--and you've got one perfectly named anime show!

Word 1: (select one)
a. Armored
b. Fuzzy
c. Blue
d. Spike
e. Death

Word 2: (select one)
a. Banana
b. Gundam
c. Pancake
d. Stardust
e. Sushi

Word 3: (select one or skip)
a. Ninja
b. Robot
c. Samurai
d. Sister
e. Vampire

Punctuation: (select one or three)
a. !
b. !!
c. !?!
d. :)
e. $*&@~^%!

Watch out otaku. Here comes Blue Sushi Samurai!?!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Top 5 Anime-ish Shows

"I see dead people."

No wait, that's just M. Night Shyamalan's career. Here's hopin' for a comeback.

So the live-action Last Airbender movie didn't fare that well. Oh well. It's still based on a pretty keen cartoon, known for its anime influence. Airbender's not alone. Here's our

Top 5 Anime-ish Shows

#5 - Dexter's Laboratory

It's no secret that Cartoon Network/Cartoon Cartoon creators Craig McCracken and Genndy Tartakovsky are huge anime fans. You don't see as many anime tropes in Dexter's Lab as you do in other shows (see below!), but you do get some of the best anime spoofs of all time, including homages to Speed Racer and Voltron, among others.

#4 - Avatar: The Last Airbender

Before it got lost in the summer movie sludge, The Last Airbender was known as Nickelodeon's serious cartoon series with an epic storyline at an epic scale (61 episodes). Check out this Emmy-winning series about the four element nations and its lovable bald hero.

#3 - Powerpuff Girls

We're not even talking about the Powerpuff Girls Z actual ANIME spin-off show. McCracken's cute super-hero girl show arose from mixing Chemical X with "sugar, spice, and everything nice." Its also a blend of both anime and old Hanna-Barbera 'toons (Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Flintstones), as seen in the show's opening . . .

#2 - Teen Titans
This DC Comics show goes in a different direction to the near adult-ish Batman and related Bruce Timm-produced series. Rather than brooding, atmospheric episodes, we get hyperkinetic shows complete with super-deformed faces. And the opening comes in both Japanese and English versions, both sung by Japanese rock duo Puffy AmiYumi.

#1 - Samurai Jack

Perhaps the purest love story to Japan cinema from Genndy Tartakovsky. Samurai Jack is a sci-fi samurai futuristic fantasy that oozes mood-setting and action sequences from various martial arts and samurai films, including some anime methods.

This here is a quality list of shows for ya. Add them to your DVD collection if you call yourself an animation fan of any kind.

Here's hoping the new manga-inspired Scott Pilgrim film can fare much better at the box office!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Top 5 Anime Girls Who Kick Butt

So Angelina Jolie is the next summer action movie star in Salt. (Tread lightly, Brad.)

Here is our list of
Top 5 Anime Girls Who Kick Butt

#5 - Balsa (Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit)

Good thing spear-woman Balsa has sworn to save lives. Unfortunately, that whiny prince Chagum filled her last spot for "life saver." Talk about late to the party!

#4 - Sango (InuYasha)

Don't let this demon slayer's pretty teenage looks throw you for a loop. She can decapitate you with her ginormous boomerang "Hiraikotsu." If you hear that name called out, duck. And that weapon is not Sango's only big accessory. Her cute cuddly Kirara is actually a stallion-sized demon cat.

Awwwww . . . .


#3 - Nancy Makuhari (Read or Die)

"Miss Deep" here is not only a super-powered spy with master handgun and hand-to-hand combat skills; she's also a clone of Mata Hari, vicious enough to choke herself to death. Stay away.

#2 - Marlene Angel (Blue Gender)

Marlene is an orphaned soldier bent on killing giant mutant bugs, so she doesn't have much time for niceties. That's okay, we'll stand back and let her do the dirty work. (It worked for her boy toy Yuji)

#1 - Major Motoko Kusanagi (Ghost in the Shell)

She may be the sexiest major we've ever seen, but this cyborg can also break our necks with a pair of chopsticks. Lucky for us we love her for her brain.

That's right, ladies. We're the sensitive type. (Just don't hurt us. Much.)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Top 5 Anime Eyeglasses

To counter the sudden surge in coolness by last time's topic--sunglasses--let's crank the dial to the opposite side and examine characters with

Top 5 Anime Eyeglasses

These aren't the top 5 anime characters who wear glasses (sorry, Yomiko Readman).

No, these are characters whose eyeglasses play a pivotal role in the story, or at least make you pull off your own glasses, chew on the end, and go, "Hmmmm . . ."

#5 - Lady Une (Gundam Wing)

With glasses, Lady Une is a treacherous, murderous witch. Without her glasses, she becomes a lovelorn peacemaker. If you're sniffing out a split personality disorder, you may be the next candidate for piloting Gundam Wing Zero--or filling in for Dr. Oz.

#4 - Gendo Ikari (Neon Genesis Evangelion)

These tinted eyeglasses worn by Nerv's commander are the perfect shade with which to gaze down at your son with perpetual disapproval.

#3 - Eri Ninamori (FLCL)

Ninamori is the mayor's daughter, class president, and lead role in the school play. But her uppity actions are mostly a mask of her frustrated life, something main character Naota finds out when she stays at his house. Her eyeglasses are just one secret she keeps.

#2 - Yukino Miyazawa (His and Her Circumstances)

Out in public, Yukino is a perfect student without blemish. Inside her house, though Yukino is an eyeglasses wearing slob with self-esteem issues. Rival classmate Arima Soichiro finds out Yukino's private identity, and the hi-jinks ensue.

His and Her Circumstances takes the Eri Ninamori-studied episode of FLCL and gives it a full series treatment--with teenage melodrama.

#1 - Robin Sena (Witch Hunter Robin)

Robin is a pyrokinetic hunter of evil witches--not bad work if you can get it. Unfortunately, Robin's powers interfere with her eyesight. Before she can burn her teammates to a crisp, Robin goes to the eye doctor and returns wearing Dumbledore half-moon spectacles. Those granny glasses go perfect with her Pippy Longstocking pigtails.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Top 5 Anime Sunglasses

Mark your calendars: June 27 is the official holiday "Sunglasses Day."

These snazzy spectacles are useful not only for blocking glare and UV rays. They also increase anyone's "coolness" factor by 39%. (Just ask Snoopy.)

In the anime world, sunglasses are even more amazing because they often have to shade such GINORMOUS eyes.

Here are characters with the
Top 5 Anime Sunglasses

#5 - Jet Black (Cowboy Bebop)

Jet goes to show that sunglasses are multifunctional - useful for welding or cooking.

#4 - Renji Abarai (Bleach)

Soul Society Division 6's lieutenant is a rebel. And we know that because he's got tattoos and wears stuff on his noggin--whether a white headband or the much cooler visor sunglasses.

#3 - Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo (Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo)

Sunglasses probably aren't the first thing that come to mind when you see this hero, with his boffo blond Afro and powerful Hanage Shinken (Fist of the Nose Hair). But Bo x 7's beauty lies in his final accessory--shades that scream justice against the forces of baldness.

#2 - Roger Smith (The Big O)

How cool is Roger Smith? You means besides the fact that he's got a mansion, butler, android assistant, sweet ride, and giant robot?

Roger's so cool that he wears sunglasses in Paradigm City, a place that makes Seattle look like Miami. Fake dome suns or no, Paradigm City's top negotiator shows that even the coolest can get cooler.

#1 - Tie: Vash the Stampede (Trigun) and Alucard (Hellsing)

Sunglasses = hero

Sunglasses = anti-hero

Vash and Alucard share more than near immortality, nigh invulnerability, and incomparable combat skills. They also sport the same specs.

You can, too, if you shell over a few hundred bucks. Check it out:
Stay cool . . .

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Top 5 Anime That Should Be Longer

Last time we talked about anime that needed to be shorter. But sometimes, you can't have too much of a good thing.

Here's our list of
Top 5 Anime That Should Be Longer

#5 - Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
This Production I.G title built its own world based on the original Ghost in the Shell manga and anime movie. In fact, Stand Alone Complex took Shiro Masamune's creation and made it better.

Check out the opening song of the GitS: 2nd Gig season to see quality animation and music:

What we'd add: With two 26-episode series, one could wonder why we'd need more. But we think the whole Stand Alone/Complex arrangement works pretty well. Add another season with episodic "stand alone" stories mixed among a much larger "complex" mystery/conspiracy plot bound up with cybertech coolness. (And more Yoko Kanno music to boot!)

#4 - Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit
Another fine show produced by Production I.G, this series takes the strong female lead with strong supporting cast and throws it into feudal Japan.

What we'd add: With such an elegant world, more episodes and exploration of fantasy elements would add to the epic feel of Moribito. Plus, the anime is based on only one novel of the TEN volume Guardian series by Nakoko Uehashi. There's gotta be more material to milk!

#3 - Samurai Champloo
Another series set in feudal Japan, with less fantasy and more hip hop. The last trio of episodes features a three-part finale to Mugen, Jin, and Fuu's journey in search of "the samurai who smells of sunflowers." The climatic battles and revelations create a riveting, agonizing, and hilarious mishmash conclusion that encapsulates the show's style.

So why not just end there?

What we'd add: Even with one of the best ending arcs in all anime, Samurai Champloo still has room for more. Several characters and subplots introduced throughout the series are worth revisiting. Even more, start the "second season" by featuring our three hapless heroes in solo adventures, building up anticipation for the trio to finally meet again, diving into another grand odyssey. And more record scratch cut scenes, please!

#2 - Read or Die: OAV
You may be thinking, "Didn't this three episode OAV already have a sequel?"

Well . . . sorta . . . but the less attention we give to the Charlie's Angels-inspired R.O.D: TV series, the better.

R.O.D. the OAV = Literary anime masterpiece. (With babes.)

R.O.D. the TV = Not so much. (Still more babes.)

What we'd add: Ditch the TV chicks and show more literary-based adventures with Agent Paper, the surviving Miss Deep, Drake and the rest of the original crew. We especially would like to explore Joker and Wendy at the British Library as they had been initially portrayed in the OAV. Plus, there's gotta be more I-Jin historical figures resurrected and running around.

#1 - Trinity Blood
Based on light novels by Sunao Yoshida, the Trinity Blood anime suffers from a rushed, blunt ending--partly due to Yoshida's death before completing his story. Trinity Blood's tale of humans (Terrans), vampires (The Methuselah), and vampires that feed on vampires (Crusniks, there will be a test) is prime for a revival in this current craze for vampires.

What we'd add: Go back to the source material and beef up the stories. Add more episodes featuring the diverse cast of heroes of the cloth. With so many divinely cool priests and nuns with assorted abilities and backstories, Trinity Blood is primed for a resurrection.

(As long as they bring plenty of hairspray.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Top 5 Anime That Should Be Shorter

One of the biggest anime hits last century is now a big hit THIS century: DragonBall Z, now known as DragonBall Z Kai, currently airing on Nicktoons Network and soon to show on CW's Saturday morning Toonzai block in September 2010. Watch for it!

The big deal about Kai is that it's DBZ footage remastered and re-edited to cut out a lot of scenes and speed up the story. Brilliant! We could do without all the time wasted on recaps, sweaty standoffs, and glacial-pace power-ups.

Besides DBZ, here are
Top 5 Anime That Should Be Shorter

#5 - Bleach

At its beginning, Bleach was a unique story of "soul reapers" that oozed with coolness and diverse character designs. But like other hit shows, Bleach became a victim of it's own success. Fans (and producers) wanted more, so the creators began pumping out more episodes. Bleach's story line began to drag with loose plot threads and unfinished character development.

What we'd cut: A lot of fans point to the non-manga-based "Bounts" arc. We do too, but we also could do without some of the lame high school "comedy" and the melodramatic side battles that result in the same status quo after the smoke clears.

#4 - Fullmetal Alchemist

We won't go near the whole "reimagined" Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood series. Talk about an anime Mulligan. Ugh. So instead, we'll focus on the original anime series.

What we'd cut: The whole backstory of Ed and Al's training with their teacher Izumi Curtis and her crew. It's not particularly interesting and we don't need a detailed origin of the Homunculus Wrath (above). Get back to the Philosopher's Stone and the State Military, which have much more interesting histories.

#3 - Last Exile

We love this Gonzo-produced anime, and at 26 episodes, it's the shortest series on our list. Still, the middle of the story loses steam before the grand finale through the Grand Stream.

What we'd cut: The whole Sophia Forrester ditching her Silvana crewmates to act as reigning Anatoray princess was a waste of time--it's not long before she's back on Silvana's deck in her Vice-Captain uniform.



Plus, ditch the many potential love interests for hero Claus--this is Victorian steam punk, not a harem show! Besides, while we may enjoy the sexual tension with Tatiana, we all know Claus belongs to childhood friend and co-pilot Lavie.

#2 - Gundam Wing

This is most American viewers' introduction to the world of Gundam, and it's still one of the best. Even so, Gundam Wing is not without its faults.

What we'd cut: Pick a side already! Our five malleable mecha pilots switch allegiances faster than Senator Joe Lieberman picks political parties. (Thought we'd throw in a little political humor there.)

#1 - InuYasha

So we're finally getting the "Final Act" of InuYasha anime. Hooray!

The original InuYasha series clocked in at over 160 episodes and eventually had an unresolved ending, as we had to wait for creator Rumiko Takahashi to finish her manga. While we waited, the anime series featured a lot of fun misadventures and one- or two-episode self-contained stories.

What we'd cut: We actually enjoy all the mini-story arcs. But the massive "Band of Seven" story line (much of Seasons 4 & 5, see below) didn't do anything for the overall plot. In fact, it basically was an excuse to plop out (resurrect) seven new villians to pester and eventually succumb to InuYasha and Co. It probably would have been better for everyone if those seven bad guys just stayed dead in the first place.

Quality over quantity--Handy reminder next time you hunger for fast food.