Friday, October 7, 2011

Top 5 Anime Closings (ED)

This month marks our 2nd anniversary - Hooray!

In past Octobers, we've recognized the Top 5 Opening Songs and Next Top 5 Opening Songs. So to change things up a bit, here's our

Top 5 Anime Closings (ED)

#5 - InuYasha (1st season)

One of the best EDs to showcase common anime closing techniques--focus on female characters, retrospective vignettes, j-pop divas, and snow. Makes you want to ride a ferris wheel, don't it?

#4 - Eden of the East

This closing channels a 1980s Peter Gabriel music video and conveying the frantic conspiracy-laden theme. And really, what's more suspicious than paper?

#3 - Wolf's Rain

Proving that you don't need a lot of eye catching animation to create a gripping closer. (Yoko Kanno's music doesn't hurt.) There's something striking about watching lead wolf Kiba stride slow-motion across a barren landscape in front of a setting moon. Kinda gets ya were you live.

#2 - FLCL

Again, not much animation here, although the vibrating guitar strings at the beginning are a nice touch. And the stop motion-style video footage of a scooter echoes the coolness of this Gainax show. Or is this just a Vespa commercial?

#1 - The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (1st season)

Okay, so sometimes snazzy animation helps, too. Along with a spastic j-pop song and flash mob inducing dance crazes and parodies a plenty.

The nerdiverse just imploded . . .

Friday, September 9, 2011

Top 5 Anime Domes

Long time, no five. We're back in action, though, with class . . .

In honor of the 15th anniversary of the cinematic masterpiece Bio-Dome, here's our

Top 5 Anime Domes

#5 - Romdeau (Ergo Proxy)

In a post-apocalyptic future (aren't they all?), the few remaining humans don't have it so bad--as long as you live in the right dome.

In Ergo Proxy, the place to be is inside the city of Romdeau. This utopia is complete with android helpers called AutoReivs, so you don't have to do any driving, raising of children, thinking, and so on. Just be careful once robots become self-aware and crazy monsters start popping up.

#4 - No. 6 (No. 6)

As long as you're born on the right side of the tracks, you've got it good in this utopia. Wait. Look out! It's bees! Bees! BEEES!

#3 - Zuellni Academy (Chrome Shelled Regios)

When the world is over-polluted and giant buggy Filth Monsters are running loose, it's time to move. Literally.

Humanity decides they don't want to live just in domed cities, but MOBILE domed cities called Regios. And in some insane Lord of the Flies experiment, one Regios called Zuellni is completely populated and governed by a bunch of teenagers. Yeah. That'll last.

#2 - Siberian Domepolis (Overman King Gainer)

More environmental cataclysms, more domed cities, this time going by the name Domepolis. Everything's hunky dory, as long as you stay inside. But if you want a breath of fresh air . . . well, you'd better go find a giant robot.

#1 - Paradigm City (The Big O)

Utopic domes are nice and all, but sometimes they can be a little . . . dull. Time for some urban renewal - New York noir style. Or maybe you're a tomato fan.

And if you don't like the domes, you can always venture outside for more urban sprawl. Travel far enough and it's not the end of the world, just a sandy wasteland. Heck, you may even find a giant robot out there.

Okay now, let's crank up the AC.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Top 5 Anime for Harry Potter Fans

The end of Harry Potter is near! Part Two of the last movie of the last book--Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows--is just days away.

While some Potter-philes will be prone to weeping, we'd like to lumos their gloomy moods and give them our

Top 5 Anime for Harry Potter Fans

These shows lend themselves to some of the familiar themes and archetypes of J.K. Rowling's wizard world, courtesy of Japan.

#5 - Vision of Escaflowne

Instead of a special boy stumbling upon a wizarding world, Escaflowne features a schoolgirl sprinting (literally) into a fantasy world with dragons, wizards, and castles. Instead of broomsticks, though, this world boasts mystical mecha for all your transportation needs. We'd like to see one of those giant armors play a round of Quidditch.

#4 - Witch Hunter Robin

What if witches were all around us? That's what this show asks, and in most cases, the answer is not a good one. Not for the witches, especially the naughty ones.

Fortunately, Robin Sena is a witch fighting on the side of good along with the rest of the STN-J. Ditching wands, this team of witches and non-witches packs heat--courtesy of their Orbo guns. (Who wouldn't want to pop a cap in Lord Voldemort's heiny?)

#3 - Kiki's Delivery Service

One of the best Studio Ghibli movies, Kiki's asks the same question as above, and the answer is much more pleasant. Young witch-in-training Kiki doesn't have to worry about witch hunters, but rather must overcome the challenges of coming of age. At least she has her talking cat Jiji with her.

As a bonus, check out this movie for some of the best animated broomstick flying ever.

#2 - Soul Eater

We all know the best part of Harry Potter isn't the spells or magical creatures. It's Hogwarts. J.K. Rowling (and the movies) depicts the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with precision that echoes school life known by all of us muggles.

So be true to your school now . . . like you would to your girl or guy . . .

In Soul Eater, the kiddos all attend Death Weapon Meister Academy in Death City to learn how to protect the world from evil Kishins and witches. If you thought Dumbledore was the coolest head schoolmaster, check out DWMA's founder: death god Shinigami. Both are cheery, but only one can wield the Direct Noggin Shinigami Chop.

And Meister Maka Albarn has got to be the lost twin of everyone's favorite overachiever Hermoine Granger. She even has the school uniform.

#1 - Naruto/Naruto Shippuden

Another anime made special by a special school. Instead of wizards, Naruto features a school for ninjas.

So what makes Naruto land on top of Soul Eater for Harry Potter fans? It has to be the tight-knit trio of heroes and their misadventures, combined with an enormous cast of memorable and unique characters, each one deserving their own chance in the spotlight. (Sound familiar?)

And at over 200 episodes (twice that counting its Shippuden sequel), Naruto rivals the 4,176 pages of J.K. Rowling's forest-killer of a series.

That's right, trees. You can breathe a sigh of relief now.

Mischief managed!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Top 5 Gundam Series

The latest Gundam show--Mobile Suit Gundam UC (Unicorn)--is heating up forums and the fan base, mostly for its revitalized interpretation of the franchise's familiar tropes.

That got us to thinking, which gets us to listing. Here's our

Top 5 Gundam Series

Caution: Spoilers, angst and the horrors of war to follow!

#5 - Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket

Granted, this 6-episode OAV series does slide into some childish hokey-ism, thanks to 11-year-old Alfred and his school chums. But it also features some amazingly choreographed and vicious mecha battles, most inside the confines of a space colony.

Like the best Gundam series, War in the Pocket examines sympathetic characters from both sides of the war, leading to some dramatic irony (literary lesson, kiddos). And that last Gundam/Zaku duel? Talk about a gut punch.

#4 - Mobile Fighter G Gundam

Ridiculous? Yeah.

Unrealistic? Isn't most anime?

Basically, G Gundam is a shonen fighting show dressed up in mecha suits. Martial arts, special attacks, winning by pure willpower, and a lot of shouting all add up to something Gundam fans have never seen.

#3 - Turn A Gundam

Dubbed "the last good Gundam" by some, Turn A was also the last series created through hand-painted cel animation. Both zany and elegant, Turn A exists in its own universe, complete with aliens and some alien-looking mecha. Pray that Bandai Entertainment does something with its license in North America.

Oh yeah, Yoko Kanno composed the soundtrack. That alone is worth the ticket price for 50 episodes.

#2 - Mobile Suit Gundam Wing

Gundam Wing is responsible for introducing 95% of all American viewers to the Gundam phenom at the dawn of the 21st century. Is it perfect? No. But plenty long with twists, turns, amnesia, split personality disorder, mental breakdowns, and oh such fun!

If G Gundam is full-blown shonen, Gundam Wing is inches away from shojo anime, complete with five pretty-boy pilots (and the girls who just can't get enough of 'em). It hasn't aged well, but Gundan Wing creates its own universe with political agendas, military clashes, and the scars of war. And the additional 3-episode OAV Endless Waltz creates a tidy addendum without opening up too many worm-filled cans.

#1 - Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team

Every other Gundam series focuses on super-skilled (and super-powered) pilots. What separates 08th MS Team from the rest is its in-depth study of the "everyman." Near the end of the One Year War, Federation Lieutenant Shiro Amada gets plopped into a unit commander role for an infantry mobile suit team. If that's not stressful enough, he's also got the hots for Aina Sahalin, who happens to be royal family on the enemy Zeon side and test pilot for a new secret weapon. (Love sucks.)

Like War in the Pocket, 08th MS Team also takes place in the "Universal Century" universe of the first series, and it too features some stunning and savage mecha battle sequences. Check out this clip, which takes place right after the Gundam team parachutes through a fleet of Zeon airships.

Added to solid animation and a riveting soundtrack is one of the most complete casts in any anime show, including all the 08th Team's pilots and members. From main characters to supporting troops to even smaller roles that most shows "throw away," 08th MS Team keeps them all three-dimensional. (You don't even need those special glasses.)

And can true love really end a war? Maybe . . . or maybe not.

Ah, Gundam. You make war so gosh darn difficult.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Top 5 Anime Super-Heroes

These days, you can't swing a mystic Norse hammer without thonking at least four super-heroes. They're everywhere--comics, movies, TV, videogames, Broadway, even anime.

One of the hottest anime shows this season is Tiger and Bunny, currently airing on-line and hopefully on U.S. television in the near future.

Check out T&B for a modern take on super-powered heroes and villians. Until then, here's our list of

Top 5 Anime Super-Heroes

These characters come from all kinds of shows, but they possess the powers, heroics, costume changes, and gadgetry that would make any spandex-clad chum proud.

#5 - Karas

Karas follows the painful path to heroism. Criminal assassin Otoha gets whacked only to be reborn as the savior of mankind (or at least part of Tokyo).

The whole "angel of vengeance" gig works for Ghost Rider and the Crow, and it's pretty standard here in this six-episode OVA.

But what Karas lacks in story originality, it makes up in 2D/3D animation, stunning orchestral score, and weird factor. Just check out the trailer and see if you don't agree . . .

#4 - Roger Smith/Big O

Anime's answer to Batman, rich playboy Roger Smith protects a gloomy gothic city and instead of donning a cowl, dives into the cockpit of a giant robot. (This is anime, after all.)

It doesn't hurt that the same studio for Big O also did earlier work on Batman: The Animated Series. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Roger wisely follows the Bruce Wayne school of heroics--ample gadgetry, huge mansion, sweet wheels, butler, and--instead of annoying teen sidekick--faithful android maid. (This is anime, after all.)

#3 - Sailor Moon

And now for something on the opposite side of the super-hero spectrum.

Sailor Moon is a "magical girls" anime, but it celebrates just as many super-hero tropes--colorful outfits, secret identities, enchanted weapons, sidekicks, and saving planet Earth.

Get ready for a monsoon of nostalgia when this baby gets re-released in the future.

#2 - Goku

How many times have you heard the Goku vs. Superman debate? Who would win?

Both came to Earth as alien babies. Both have super strength and speed, flight, nigh-invulnerability and mad fightin' skillz.

The Man of Steel may have eye beams, freeze breath, and X-ray vision. But DragonBall's hero has martial arts skills, including his Kamehameha energy blast and the all-powerful Spirit Bomb (love that name).

And hey, both can come back from the dead. Not bad.

#1 - Astro Boy

The first and the best super-hero in anime, Astro Boy combines the robot love of Japan with the tragic yet hopeful origins of American heroes.

Built by genius roboticist Dr. Tenma to replace his deceased son, Astro later becomes the champion of future Japan, saving the world from evil robots, aliens, or even robot-hating humans (a la X-Men and their mutant schtick).

Like the greatest heroes, Astro Boy boasts a plethora of powers. In this case, he's got rocket-powered flight, laser-gun finger, super-hearing, and--um--a machine gun gluteus maximus.

If only Spider-Man would be so brave with his web shooters . . .

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Top 5 Manly Anime

No more gushy love stuff like last time.

Here's our list of

Top 5 Manly Anime

(Also known as "Manime.")

#5 - Baki the Grappler

Just one look at hero Baki and you're transported to one of those Old Spice commercials.

Like many kids, Baki Hamma wants to be just like Dad. Only difference is Baki's papa is the strongest fighter in the world, and following father's footsteps means bashing in everyone's heads.

#4 - Berserk

The main character's name is "Guts." And that red stuff flying around is not spaghetti sauce. 'Nuff said.

#3 - Gurren Lagann

This is mecha--manly style. You've got beastmen piloting Gunmen, and a whole series of mecha that get bigger and badder.

And remember, "Don't believe in the you who believes in me. Don't believe in the me who believes in you. Believe in the you who believes in yourself."

Whatever that means. True "guy logic."

#2 - Golgo 13

Duke Togo, professional assassin, is just like James Bond, professional spy, minus the charisma. You do the math.

#1 - Fist of the North Star

Literally translated from Japanese to mean "Fist of the Big Dipper," this show is a doozy.

Post-apocalyptic world? Check.

Stolen girlfriend? Yup.

"Fist" in the title? Bonus.

Martial arts fighting with violent gory deaths? Do you have to ask?

And that's our list of Top 5 Manly Anime. Chuck Norris would be proud.

Some magicians can walk on water. Chuck Norris can swim through land.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Top 5 Anime Love Triangles

Have you recovered from Valentine's Day (A.k.a: Singles Awareness Day) yet?

If not, then read no further. It's our

Top 5 Anime Love Triangles

#5 - Tohru, Yuki, & Kyo (Fruits Basket)

Huggers beware! Tohru lives every girl's dream with cute boys who turn into cuddly animals. But really, is there any contest between a cat and rat?

#4 - Kagome, InuYasha, & Koga (InuYasha)

Continuing the animal theme (no beastiality jokes, please), school girl Kagome seems destined to fall for dog half-demon InuYasha. But then wolf demon Koga shows up and thinks he can sweep our heroine off her feet.

Either way you choose, Kagome, you're gonna have flea problems.

#3 - Roger Smith, Angel, & R. Dorothy Wayneright (Big O)

No animals or half-demons here. Just androids. Trust us, it isn't kinky.

In fact, the Roger-Angel-Dorothy triangle features some of the most tender, personal moments of any romantic tale. These three individuals help each other come to view themselves as they truly are, with an unblinking gaze like Dorothy's robotic eyes.

#2 - Isamu, Myung, & Guld (Macross Plus)

Three childhood friends' old scars resurface in adulthood when rivalries and dreams clash. Combine that high concept with transforming fighter jets, space dogfights, and a rogue H.A.L.-like synthetic singer; and you've got a humdinger of a show.

Together with the gorgeous "Voices" song, Macross Plus is surpassed only by its predecessor . . .

#1 - Rick Hunter, Lisa Hayes, & Lynn Minmei (Robotech: Macross)

Admit it, viewers, you cared more about Rick's love life than mankind's survival against the giant Zentradi aliens.

Rick is an upstart Veritech fighter pilot with a heart of gold (sound familiar?). Too bad that same organ is also torn in two by his closest lady friends.

Whom would you choose? Teen pop princess Lynn Minmei? Or Lisa, the honorable First Officer of a giant transforming spaceship? Tough call. And what makes this the #1 love triangle is the show keeps us guessing until the very end.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Top 5 Movies for Anime Fans

We're watching the 68th Annual Golden Globes. Hey, Hollywood Foreign Press! Where's the Outstanding Anime Award? Aww, nevermind.

Until then, here's our list of
Top 5 Movies for Anime Fans.

These are all live-action motion pictures that, for some reason or another, fit with the quirky tastes of otaku everywhere.

#5 - Tie: Men in Black series and The Fifth Element

Both movies mix in anime standards of space alien adventure, bug-eyed characters, memorable villains, and end-of-the world climaxes. So both deserve every anime fan's attention. Who cares about logic? These shows are just plan fun--seminal science-fiction of the late 1990s.

#4 - Avatar

Yup, more sci-fi stuff here. James Cameron's 3-D blockbuster boasts some awesome tech--massive airships and . . . hey kids, it's MECHA--bonus!

Don't forget the story's blaring environmental message. It's impossible to miss, unless your brain got bludgeoned from a front-row IMAX viewing.

#3 - Never Been Kissed

This flick may raise a few eyebrows, but stick with us on this one. Drew Barrymore's romantic comedy is a perfect movie for anime fans: an adult woman poses undercover as a high school student. And the hilarious hijinks ensue (not to mention underlying ethical issues)--popularity wars, varsity sports, and unrequited love. Plus, David Arquette's triumphant return to high school is every fanboy's dream.

#2 - Inception

Mind-blowing visuals AND plot--that's what makes anime so nifty. Same thing with Christopher Nolan's masterpiece. The best part is that viewers love to debate the so-called confounding final scene. But really, Inception's ambiguous end is perfectly clear when you compare it to any number of anime.

#1 - The Matrix Trilogy

No surprise here. The Wachowski brothers mined some of the best sci-fi anime to create their series. Just watch one of the trilogy's legendary and revolutionary action sequences and you'll see what anime shows have been pulling off for years. The Matrix also digs into some obscure philosophy/religion mishmash, a key ingredient to making anime so gosh darn artsy fartsy.

And just like they do with anime, fans can lament the trilogy's content for years to come. Each movie faced escalated expectations with mixed results, providing plenty of fuel for forum flamers.

Naturally, new movies will always compete for a spot on this list, including director Zack (300, Watchmen) Snyder's latest film, Sucker Punch. (How's that for an anime title?)

Take a peek:

Talk about an anime perfect storm. We can hear the squeals of otaku all over the globe.