Category Archives: Anime

(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – A Place Further Than The Universe

List Item:  Watch the 100 Anime to See Before You Die
Progress: 59/100Title: A Place Further Than The Universe
Episodes Aired: 13
Year(s): 2018

Coming of age anime are really ten a penny, especially in the last decade or so as there have been more and more series being produced per year. Some of them have a really fond place in my heart (Hanasaku Iroha) others end up leaving me cold because they take too long (Aria) or just retreat so much of the same ground. It was a bit of fatigue with these kinds of shows that postponed me watching A Place Further Than The Universe for a good while. I honestly only picked this as I wanted an antidote to the mecha anime I have been consuming recently.

A Place Further Than The Universe is one of those gems of a small coming of age series that, whilst it treads over a lot of familiar ground, frames a lot of the tropes in a different way. I mean, it isn’t every decade that you come across a series where a group of high school girls find themselves whilst on a quest to visit the Antarctic. Having this barren undiscovered country of a place with it’s very real delights (penguins) and dangers (it being the place where the mother of a major character died) helps add a different perspective on their own problems.

At the beginning, it is about a girl fearing about wasting her youth whilst having to conform to the very regimented life that is expected of being a high schooler in Japan. After a chance encounter with someone at school obsessed to get to Antarctica to find her dead mother, this series builds them up until they have either come to terms with themselves or found peace in having finally found an outlet for their young dreams.

The series, once they get to Antarctica, could have easily trailed off a bit and become a confection of the beauty of the snow and the joy of penguins – kinda interesting therefore that penguins rarely appear and most of the time we see them in the research station is actually helping out by being in the kitchen, taking part in science expeditions or lifting boxes. Like, a lot of how they get there is thanks to the magic of it being a story but you also cannot deny that they work for their place.

A Place Further Than The Universe is one of those shows whose presence in my mind I didn’t really get until I finished the final episode and thought back on the journey the four girls had made. On a storytelling level this was a great show, but that was really bolstered up by some stunning art of the Antarctic, raging seas and some lovely scenes of Singapore that made me incredibly nostalgic.


(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – Mobile Suit Gundam

List Item:  Watch the 100 Anime to See Before You Die
Progress: 58/100Title: Mobile Suit Gundam
Episodes Aired: 43
Year(s): 1979-1980

In retrospect, it was a mistake to start watching Mobile Suit Gundam straight after Neon Genesis EvangelionThere is no way this could end well and I would just end up with a very specific fatigue related to watching sci-fi anime series featuring giant robot battlesuits. But this is where we are and this is one of those series that just ended up boring me.

This is the fourth series I have seen that has these giant robot battles. Of course, Mobile Suit Gundam is by far the oldest as it was one of the earliest in the mecha anime genre and helped to direct it in the direction that we have now. Being often-copied and often-improved upon, it’s actually quite odd watching it for the first time. Mainly because it’s actually quite dull.

I know there are a lot of people who really rate Mobile Suit Gundam and, honestly, I do kinda get it. This series gets a lot of cache for helping to revolutionize the mecha genre and for really help launch a massive toy empire. It is just that I have been spoiled by Neon Genesis and Gurren Laganwhere things are a bit more subversive and unpredictable.

So I am not sure where I go from here with my next anime series. Honestly, I think I need to watch something a lot more recent – so might end up reaching so something right at the end. Or just something that isn’t mecha. Shouldn’t be too hard to find something.

(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – Neon Genesis Evangelion

So, over Christmas 2020 the COVID-19 entered my household. These posts are those that had to be written up later because being at the computer for more than 15 minutes made me feel beyond tired. I can cook, but I can’t type – it’s very strange. Still, these posts were done well after the fact so apologies in advance.

List Item:  Watch the 100 Anime to See Before You Die
Progress: 57/100Title: Neon Genesis Evangelion
Episodes Aired: 26
Year(s): 1995-1996

Just to get this out of the way at the beginning. I have yet to see The End of Evangelion for the parallel ending to the anime. I have also not seen any of the Rebuild of Evangelion films  – although I hope that the fourth and final one of those will be finally released by the time this is posted. I fully intend to devour the movies within the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise as I need to try and understand more about the mythology behind this, which is not something I would have said had this series ended after 10 episodes.

Other than Cowboy Bebop, I cannot think of an anime from before 2000 that comes more recommended. Sure, there are those like the Gundam series that have been influential, but I feel that Neon Genesis Evangelion has a litmus test for getting to know the artform. The absence of this from the MyAnimeList was one of the reasons I changed over. I guess that the reason behind the lower rankings is because of the ending and that, as a series, it only kicks into high Twin Peaks gear in the final quarter.

Set in an alternate timeline where an extinction event has lead to mankind to fight against otherworldly beings designated as ‘Angels’ Neon Genesis Evangelion starts life as a pretty standard mecha series. Sure, the huge amounts of religious theming made it a bit different from the get-go, but I remember myself and the hub getting five episodes into this and getting a bit confused. Like, the robot fights were fun n’ all, but it was such a melancholy robot show with high school drama thrown in. Nothing too special.

We changed our tune soon enough though. Where it took us nearly two months to watch the first half, we demolished the second half in about two weeks. I can’t remember the last time where a series I watched has such a substantial change in my need to consume it once I was a substantial way in. I think it might have been Made in Abyssbut that’s only in terms of percentages. In terms of episode count, this would be the longest since The Vampire Diaries where it took almost a whole season of 20+ episodes before I demolished it voraciously.

Neon Genesis Evangelion is brilliant. I say this still not completely understanding what the hell was going on in the two-part finale, but I know that’s what the film will help to clear up… ish. I still have my problems with having a protagonist that is so passive to the point of having an early episode where you just want to yell at him Asuka style. Now I know how it ends (again, ish) I know that I will need to see this again and see how I view these earlier episodes.

(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – Land of the Lustrous

List Item:  Watch the 100 Anime to See Before You Die
Progress: 56/100Title: Land of the Lustrous
Episodes Aired: 12
Year(s): 2017

After it took a few months to watch Revolutionary Girl Utena – I was done with the series within a week. Being off for Christmas helps here as I typically get up before my husband, but the bigger help is that Land of the Lustrous could very well be the most beautifully animated anime series I have ever seen. Also, more importantly, the most consistently beautiful series I have ever seen.

What made it so beautiful was the 3D animation. I don’t think that I have ever seen an anime series where they used 3D character models within a 2D world – especially one where the backgrounds are gorgeous and the characters are never static. Like in a regular anime, you are used to some time savings where the characters only move when they have to – but in Land of the Lustrous they feel close to alive. This style of animation also did the job of bringing to life the coloured translucent hair for the jewel race of characters.

After all, this is a world many millennia in the future where Earth – after six separate bombardments from celestial bodies – has seen mass extinction to the point where now the only creatures that roam the earth are simple ones and a small number of humanoids who are sentient gemstones.

Gemstones that, thankfully, once smashed can be put together and be brought back to life. However, they are also in constant conflict with beings from the Moon (who look a lot like Buddist figures) who wish to smash them to pieces and use them for jewelry. Makes for some stunning fight sequences, with both lethal and non-lethal casualties.

As well as great visuals and a unique storyline, the music is amazing. The OP is great, but the real magic is the incidental music. This is one of the very few anime series where I have found myself actually listening to the whole soundtrack on Spotify. Really, this all does make me wonder why more people haven’t seen this.

The series, sadly, ended on a cliffhanger with more questions left than answers. I adored these 12 episodes and the time that I spent in their world, but man knowing there are no concrete plans for further adaptations of the manga is just sad. So, I’ve added them to my wish list so I can just get them whenever I have a tenner to spare.

(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – Revolutionary Girl Utena

List Item:  Watch the 100 Anime to See Before You Die
Progress: 55/100Title: Revolutionary Girl Utena
Episodes Aired: 39
Year(s): 1997

With both myself and my husband working from home, my anime time has really become the occasional snatched pocket of time – unless it is one he has expressed an actual interest in watching. In the before times, Revolutionary Girl Utena is one of those shows I would have finished in a few weeks rather than two months – but having this be prolonged might be exactly what I needed with this show.

There is a lot that goes on in this series that it is pretty difficult to know where to begin. Going into this, albeit completely blindly, I was expecting something closer to Rose of Versailles than something quite as genre-breaking as Madoka. On the surface, Revolutionary Girl Utena looks like it is a mild comic featuring a gender-bending heroine who likes to wear the boys’ uniform and longs to one day be a prince. However, this is a lot darker than that. And the anime series adaptation – compared to the manga and the anime film – seems to have gone for the more friendly version of the story.

By playing on the safer side, this series plays any acts of same-sex love very much as subtext – with one notable exception, but it is a very much unrequited love. There are other parts that this series omits by playing it safe, which I look forward to exploring in this franchises other versions – but rather than removing it, the same-sex is diluted down.

However, no matter how much you dilute it there is no escaping that the love that the relationship between Utena – as prince – and Anthy – as the rose bride – is more than friendship. Something that the final scenes very much hinge on and what makes the final two episodes some of the best anime that I have seen made for the small screen.

In essence the series has a simple premise, we are in a high school where the upper echelons of the student body undertake duels in order to win the hand of a girl referred to as ‘The Rose Bride’ in an effort to bring about a revolution. Cue a lot of repetitive sword fight sequences and, in typical anime style a regular transformation sequence with kick-ass music.

However, once you get to the beginning of season three, things take a very sour turn which turns this from a fun series to watch into even more of the surreal and abstract conspiratorial storytelling that I really love. It starts to break it’s own genre and, at times, becomes downright Lynchian. Scenes involving sports cars driving to the ‘End of the World’ play like the Red Room of Twin Peaks and the shadow puppet theatre segments get more and more absurd.

Revolutionary Girl Utena is one of those series where I am so in need of a friend who has seen it as there is a lot I want to unpack and it is not as much fun to do it by myself. This was exactly what I needed after two sports anime in a row and it’s just nice to be posting about anime again – especially as my watch of Neon Genesis Evangelion with my husband is proceeding too slowly for my liking.

(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – Kuroko’s Basketball

List Item:  Watch the 100 Anime to See Before You Die
Progress: 54/100Title: Kuroko’s Basketball
Episodes Aired: 75
Year(s): 2012-2015

Like I said when I wrote up Slam Dunk, I wanted to see how basketball anime had evolved in the 20-odd years since it was first aired. Kuroko’s Basketball is the logical place to go for that, given how it is the only other basketball anime to feature on the list. Unlike Slam Dunk, this is split into three seasons – thus giving me a proper place to have an out should I not want to watch all 75 episodes.

I took the out. After the end of the first season, I didn’t really want to continue on – which leaves Haikyuu as the only sports anime that I made the choice to stick with. Whilst Kuroko’s Basketball did improve on a lot of the things that made me want to give up on Slam Dunk – it wasn’t enough to keep me engaged.

There are more interesting characters in here, like the titular Kuroko and the team’s coach, but in the end the show failed me on two places. Firstly, thanks to the initial premise of there being a Miracle Generation of players, there are basketball players who are effectively supernatural. Whilst it is good to have big obstacles in a sports anime for the main team to triumph over or lose against – it’s not exactly a fair fight to lose against someone with godlike abilities.

Then there is the fact that multiple episodes cover the same match. Now I know they did this with Haikyuu, but I think that it worked for me there because you actually get to care about each individual member of the volleyball team – with Kuroko’s Basketball, the focus is mostly on two key players with some attention to the rest. When, like me, you aren’t as invested in one of the key players then you aren’t as invested in the game.

It is clearly just me on this as Kuroko’s Basketball is one of the holy grail’s of sports anime. I think that I have two issues at play. Firstly, I am not a big fan of watching sports in real life so I am not going to be as keen to watch it in anime form. Secondly, of the sports I kinda enjoy watching – basketball is not one of them. Now if there was a decent ice hockey anime out there, then someone please point it my way. Else, this is just another miss for me.

With this, I have nearly crossed out all of the sports anime from the list. Thankfully. I know that Ping Pong is still left, but I am actually looking forward to that one because of the very different animation style. Before that though, I think it’s time to get away from sports anime and maybe got for something from the list that’s completely different. Whatever that ends up being.

(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – Slam Dunk

List Item:  Watch the 100 Anime to See Before You Die
Progress: 53/100Title: Slam Dunk
Episodes Aired: 101
Year(s): 1993-1996

Figured it was time to get back into the world of list anime, so why not dust off one of the longest ones that I have left. 101 episodes of a basketball anime where they have a whole episode about the final two minutes of a game. Yea, I clearly didn’t watch all the episodes of this – and I don’t think I’m going to continue on after writing this.

This is the first sports anime that I have watched since I swapped anime lists over a year ago. I have purposely avoided this one because of the number of episodes that I would have potentially had to watch and because I remember how burned out I got watching too many episodes of Hajime no Ippo thanks to how MyAnimeList does their rankings.

At 101 episodes long, there really needed to be more happening more episode to keep me watching. I get that this is the series that helped to make basketball popular in Japan, and that’s why there are sections of explaining the game, but this could have been done in a more entertaining way like in HaikyuuAlso, by the time you are 20 episodes, the explanations are still about very basic aspects of the game – to the point that I (who have never watched a game of basketball) still knew exactly what they were talking about.

I also had an issue with the protagonist. This is a very generic kind of semi-delinquent character, that was heightened in GTOthat I always find an issue with liking. In the case of Slam Dunk, he is just so full of himself and in his own abilities that I could not warm to him. Especially when everyone is commenting on his natural talent, which makes this more an anime about polishing a diamond rather than someone truly training to be better.

There is still another basketball anime for me to watch, so I am interested to see how things have moved on in the 20 years since. Maybe I’ll like it? Who knows, but at least it’s divided into seasons with sane episode counts – so you know there’s got to be proper contained arcs going on.

(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – Hellsing

List Item:  Watch the 100 Anime to See Before You Die
Progress: 52/100Title: Hellsing
Episodes Aired: 13
Year(s): 2001-2002

So, according to the list, I could have chosen to watch either Hellsing or the later 50-minute per episode Hellsing Ultimate. After reading a number of articles online, which gave the conclusion that it was worth seeing both, I went for the earlier incarnation. Just figured that if I liked this well enough, I could always watch Ultimate at some point in the future to get the remaining story.

I probably should have gone with my gut and jumped straight to Ultimate. In the end, this is what I did with Full Metal Alchemist and Hunter x Hunter as the later anime were not only more acclaimed but also had more source material to use without resorting to some anime-only arcs.

The idea of a dark series featuring a super-strong vampire hunting other vampires under the watch of a shadowy vampire-killing organisation is what drew me to watching this and why I’ve been looking forward to seeing Hellsing for ages. However, after promising opening episodes it just seemed to veer off the rails and then it ends on a frustrating note.

So frustrating in fact that I considered going straight to Ultimate in order to get the proper experience. However, I am not finding time for anime at the moment, let alone 50 minute episodes, so am going to be switching to a non-list anime from my childhood in order to bring some brightness into my life: Flint the Time Detective. Sure, it’s not one of the best ever released but this is a time where something light and fun is very much appreciated.

(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – K-On!

List Item:  Watch the 100 Anime to See Before You Die
Progress: 51/100Title: K-On!
Episodes Aired: 39
Year(s): 2009-2010

After a heavier and mech anime like Macross I think I needed to go in the complete opposite direction for my next one – which is how I ended up with K-On!. There are many anime out there which broadly fall into the category of cute girls doing stuff and K-On! is one of the really important series that helped shape a bunch that followed. Despite my earlier written love of Azumanga Daioh, this isn’t necessarily my favourite genre, but this list managed to steer me in the right direction yet again.

Over the course of two seasons (where the name changes by the addition of another exclamation point) we get to know the members of a high school light music club – essentially a club where they play popular music. To begin with it’s a core group of four, then not too far in we get an additional member from the lower years. Being the type series that it is, the music isn’t the top priority, instead it’s the lives of these five band members.

Not to say that the music isn’t an integral part of their lives, we watch them as they perform, practice and do all they can to avoid practicing. Given all that’s happening right now around coronavirus, a series with low stakes and such a positive feeling is exactly what I needed. Plus some of the songs are legitimately good to the point that I have actually been playing a small selection on Spotify.

Given the current coronavirus stuff happening, and my not getting any substantial solo anime time for a while, it’s likely that this will be my last anime series being crossed off for a while unless it’s something the husband would also like to see. So, I’ll end this post on my favourite song from the series – which I have been playing a lot recently:

(✿◠‿◠) Anime!!! – Macross

List Item:  Watch the 100 Anime to See Before You Die
Progress: 50/100Title: Super Dimension Fortress Macross
Episodes Aired: 36
Year(s): 1982-1983

I haven’t always been too impressed by the anime series that I have seen from the earlier section of the list. Some of them because of the extremely dated humour that made me squirm and others because the storylines were being stretched beyond all reasonable proportions. Super Dimension Fortress Macross managed to avoid all these traps and instead is the best of the older animes that I have seen so far.

The series itself can be split into two distinct sections. The first, longer section being about a conflict between humans and an alien race and the second section being the uneasy truce that exists afterwards. This could so easily have just been a mecha anime full of battle sequences and not much else. But, instead, this very much takes on board the idea of being a space opera where interpersonal relationships inspire many of the conflicts.

It’s weird watching Super Dimension Fortress Macross now as the events that were so futuristic are now set in the past. Then again, when I was growing up the idea of 2020 felt like it would be super futuristic and filled with flying cars. Probably for the best that we don’t have an Earth exclave on a refurbished alien ship as we deal in a life or death battle against an alien race of giants.

One thing that makes Super Dimension Fortress Macross an interesting part of anime history is the character of Lynn Minmay. In the show, she is a girl swept up int he conflict and, far from home, becomes a singer whose voice inspires the soldiers and wins over many of the enemies. This makes her the more iconic character from the series compared to the central fighter who somehow is attractive enough to inspire a love triangle. Lynn Minmay was one of the first characters to properly spin off their voice actress into becoming an actual music star and is a huge inspiration for a lot of cute girl anime types to follow.

So, I am halfway through the anime list and I have somehow managed to more or less evenly distribute my watches throughout the years. I’m still so excited to see what different genres of anime I have yet to discover on this 100-series snapshot.