Saturday, 11 September 2010

Love Hina Review

It's a generally accepted rule that you mustn't judge a book by it's cover. Clearly whoever came up with such sage advice had never seen the opening credits of Love Hina. Indeed, if the bouncy, riotous and wholly carefree opening (and song Sakura Saku) was any more indicative of the show's content, you could probably put it on a 20-minute loop and watch that instead of the episode it precedes. In so doing, however, you would deprive yourself of a surprisingly enjoyable experience.

Love Hina is a series with no delusions of grandeur. It recognises which genre it pertains to and never attempts to stray outside of it; only to excel within its boundaries. The result is something which is about as subtle as a spade to the face and yet every bit as effective when it comes to attracting the viewer's attention. The humour is loud and visual, the characters are simple and unambiguous, the plot is straightforward - in brief, this is hardly the thinking person's anime. Which is why it's so good.

The comedy serves as a wonderful example of how something can, in fact, be funny the umpteenth time. At least once per episode, Keitaro will - entirely by accident - touch a girl inappropriately or perhaps see someone in a state of undress. Then things will pause, allowing the realisation to dawn on him. Then he will be brutally assaulted by one or more of the female characters. What makes this amusing is not necessarily the sequence of events, but rather the constant stream of increasingly unlikely misfortunes that befall Keitaro to land him in these situations and the disproportionate, inconceivably painful results. Through its explicit recognition that "male falls face-first into breasts of female" is a hugely contrived situation, Love Hina is able to exaggerate it mercilessly. As a result, what would have been a stupid and even embarrassing element of the anime becomes a source of comedy.

In fact, most of the humour is equally self-aware and shows a flagrant disregard for the fourth wall. Many are the direct references to stock character archetypes, dating sims and other things which Love Hina's world and protagonists very clearly resemble. This doesn't just serve to generate laughter; it also absolves the show of any criticism it may have incurred for overuse of stereotypes or its formulaic nature. Again, this is a series that knows exactly what it is and is neither afraid nor ashamed to flaunt it.

As a result, it's a pleasant surprise when the hand that so relentlessly pounded on the fourth wall doles out moments that are genuinely touching. In spite of the plot being uncomplicated and frankly thin on the ground, the show contains a sprinkling of scenes which present simple, understated emotion and which balances the raucous energy that characterises the majority of the series. This juxtaposition alone renders the story satisfying, even though its conclusion is disappointingly incomplete, not quite reaching as far as the end of the manga. Whilst there are some episodes which do little to advance the story, there is sufficient magic and madness contained within each for the show to remain entertaining throughout.

In terms of animation, time seems to have been kind to Love Hina, and there are no tell-tale signs to indicate that this anime dates back to the beginning of the century. The character designs are sharp and distinctive, whilst a calculated sufficiency in detail means that nothing ever looks bad, just occasionally unambitious.
The series also makes use of cartoony animation to provide a lot of visual jokes. By way of example, Keitaro's face at one point becomes strangely elastic and Naru is able to stretch it over a couple of metres. Quirks like this are always unexpected and - in an impressive display of variety and creativity - never overused.
The voicing is well done. Although there are very few moments of emotional complexity, those that do exist are handled successfully by the voice cast. One irritant worth picking out, however, is the sound effect which accompanies the childish Kaolla Su seemingly wherever she goes. Its overuse alone is bothersome, but it is also lost in the proverbial translation. Western ears will recognise it as a wolf whistle, which is wholly inappropriate for her character.

The two main characters of this anime are Keiraro and Naru. Keitaro is seen through the series trying to get into Tokyo U because of his promise he made to a girl while he was a child. Keitaro is set on gaining entrance to Tokyo U to fulfil the promise he made to his childhood friend, even though he cannot properly remember either her name or her face. After he fails the entrance exams yet again, he travels to the Hinata Inn, a girls-only dormitory owned by his grandmother, who believes that he has passed the exams and passes on the title of landlord to him.

Naru on the other hand, is extremely smart and a resident of the Hinata Inn. She has an extremely fiery temper and a tendency to inflict violent physical punishment (most usually on Keitaro). Of all the girls at the Hinata Inn, she is most often the unwilling and unwitting victim of Keitaro's clumsiness, which often results in her ending up naked, partially clothed, or placed in any number compromising positions. Keitaro invariably suffers as a result. Despite initially taking a (literally) violent dislike to Keitaro, she comes to develop very strong feelings for him. The main part of her character arc is that she has great difficulty in admitting these feelings, both to herself, to the hapless Keitaro and to the world in general.

Whilst the characters generally lack depth, they make amends for this by oozing what personality they have at every given opportunity. There is seemingly no occasion which cannot bring their identity to the forefront - be it Kaolla Su smiling like an idiot during a rockslide or the protective Motoko carrying the smaller girls under her arms whilst fleeing danger. Indeed, although the characters are barely conflicted and mostly simple to read, it does not preclude the viewer from enjoying and sympathising with them. It is also worth giving special mention to Keitaro here. Whilst most male leads in a harem anime are dry, obnoxious, or both, Keitaro is a sympathetic character, all the more admirable for his failings and his attempts to overcome them. He is bold enough to motor the love story yet sensitive enough to not deserve the punches to the face he so frequently receives.

Love Hina will not appeal to everyone. The same is true of any anime. What the show does, however, is recognise this truism and cater directly to the sort of audience who will enjoy a harem-based romance comedy. Resultantly, if you think you won't like this, then you're almost certainly right. But if a simple, energetic, and just occasionally stupid love comedy is what you're after, I couldn't recommend this highly enough. As a pioneer of its genre it's still one of the very best and resembles the product of years of trial and error, rather than an inspiration and originator for what has come since.

Monday, 6 September 2010

The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya Review

"Aliens, time travellers, and ESPers anyone?"

Aah, Haruhi. That's all most anime watchers talk about recently. And in that light, I wouldn't be blogging about anime if I didn't say something about her, now would I? 

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is not your typical, run-of-the-mill anime. At least, that's what it's trying really hard to put forward. And it does so pretty well, for now. Kyon is your normal, uninterested schoolguy, who once upon a time dreamt of meeting aliens, time-travellers, and ESPers. Feeling that would never come true, he decides to enter high school and live a normal life. A boring one. That is, until he meets a girl in class that specifically only wants to meet aliens, time-travellers, and that's right, ESPers. That girl was Haruhi Suzumiya.

His interest piqued, Kyon finally approaches the beautiful, yet weird girl, and talks to her. Deciding to humour her, Kyon gets caught up in much, much more than he bargained for, starting with Haruhi's formation of the 'Spreading Excitement all Over the World with the Haruhi Suzumiya Brigade' or the S.O.S. Brigade for short. Without reading anything much about it online, I first thought that this was another one of your school life satire and comedy series. Well, I was partly right. What I never expected were aliens, time-travellers, and ESPers. This show is definitely more than meets the eye.

Okay, a little rundown of the characters. The star is definitely Haruhi Suzumiya, the beautiful schoolgirl who has a very bossy attitude, and twisted mind, as one can definitely see in the way she orders Kyon around and 'uses'  Mikuru Asahina for her own devices.  Kyon is the disinterested schoolguy that Haruhi seems to demand having around and acts as the shows narrator, giving his opinion on everything, showing the viewer the world through his eyes. Mikuru is the blur, moé-like (moé = naive or innocent character, often submissive, and lovable) upperclassman, who turns out to be a time-traveller sent to monitor Haruhi. Itsuki Koizumi is the ESPer who is another member of the S.O.S and is there, again, to monitor Haruhi. And yes, Yuki Nagato, an alien, is also sent to monitor Haruhi. Don't get the wrong idea, in most shows, they're nothing more than your everyday schoolkids with weird personalities, but they are what they are. It seems Haruhi is sort of 'special' in that what she does seems to influence time and space. But the whole time the viewer is left wondering if Haruhi really is special or not, as her powers are never seen directly but more just strange coincidences. No blatant flying saucers here, but definitely sci-fi oriented.

Okay, I guess that explains the science-fiction genre then. What about humour, you say? Well, I find that while generally entertaining, most of the humour and satire present in the series comes from Kyon's actual narration of each episode and his inner thoughts during scenes. Sugita Tomokazu voices Kyon in the Japanese version, while Crispin Freeman voices Kyon in the english dub, and does a really good job at making his thoughts and narration seem natural, no matter how irritated or sarcastic he is trying to be.

Kyon is also viewed as the only 'normal' human in this group that is the S.O.S, but that can't be right, can it? After all, he IS interested in Haruhi and what she does, no matter how much he tries not to be. Haruhi herself is exuberant (most of the time) to the point of breaking. Her antics with Mikuru, and herself included, often has me smiling at its sheer 'twistedness'. A character as vibrant and lively as her is not usually found as the lead of an anime. But, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is trying to be different, and Haruhi is definitely different. If you don't mind listening closely to Kyon's narration, then you'd definitely find things to laugh about. 

Another thing to mention is the nature of the series. Do not watch this expecting an episode-by-episode continuation. They decided to do a few arcs of the story together, and this can often get confusing at first. Also, it's best to have a couple of episodes ready to watch, unless you want to risk wondering where you've seen a particular scene before. Although unique, I could have done without this little addition. The story is screwy enough without cutting it up into pieces and randomly throwing episodes at us. For instance, episode 1 is actually somewhere in the middle of the series, while 2 and 3 are linked and 4 is another part altogether. The story follows three orders: Broadcast order, the order that the episodes were aired on Japanese TV. Chronological Order, the order in which the events actually happen. DVD order, the order that the episodes are in, on the DVD release of the series.

I have to say though, animation is definitely top-notch. Well, this was 2006, but it was a pleasant surprise to find a 'school themed' show having exceptional animation like this, everyone is drawn in a way giving that 'easy to the eye' feel. 

This has got to be one of the best animes in terms of dance animations, or most known i should say. The Hare Hare Yukai dance as the ending to the first season is probably one of the most well known anime dances around. but you cant just focus on that now. Music isn't the greatest, with not much during the show. Both are catchy, the opening and ending songs give off a bright, cheery atmosphere to the show.

Not everything is perfect in the world of Haruhi though. As funny as he is, Kyon's narration can get stale sometimes. The Endless Eight episodes are another turn-off. The series, up to this point, is basically one crazy ride in preventing Haruhi from getting melancholic, and while okay for now, may get tiresome soon.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya seems to be anything but that. An anime which you will either like or hate, depending on your tastes. But at least suffer through the first episode of 'The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina' (or the eleventh episodes depending on the order you watch) and watch a few more before you make your decision. I'm not going crazy over it, but I find it's definitely one of the better animes.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Black Rock Shooter OVA Review

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Black Rock Shooter‘s anime debut. If nothing else the franchise has become a great example of the power of the Internet, as original artwork and character designs by artist huke inspired a song by Supercell, which together have spawned an increasing variety of figures and merchandise and – at last – a 50-minute anime, released for free (with various subtitles!) in both physical and digital media. There’s no doubting that Black Rock Shooter is a phenomenon and this OVA has been surrounded by hype. but when I finished watching it, i found it pretty amazing, even if it did lack story in certain parts.
I’ll get straight to the short answer before going into a little more detail: there is certainly some substance to Black Rock Shooter and potential for a solid anime franchise to justify all of the merchandising, rather than the other way around. By the end of the OVA’s roughly 50-minute runtime there’s little doubt that there’s more to come, so time will tell if that potential is fulfilled. But enough about potential, let’s talk about the debut OVA. The story centres around Mato Kuroi who, on her first day of junior high school, finds a new friend in classmate Yomi Takanashi. The two girls become close friends, but when their class is split in the second year of junior high their friendship begins to suffer.
I know what you’re thinking: “Where does the girl with the huge cannon fit into this?” That tale of young friends is interspersed with scenes of a stylised alternate world mostly depicting Black Rock Shooter facing off against Dead Master, though the OVA opens with a battle against Black Gold Saw and Strength also makes non-combat appearances. These sequences benefit greatly from a bold, textured aesthetic heavily influenced by huke’s artwork and become gradually more integrated with the main story, though if you can’t make the connection right from the start you’re not looking very hard… or at all. Unfortunately, many of the transitions between the two worlds are jarring and some of the sequences from the alternate world – specifically, a bunch of scenes depicting nothing more than Black Rock Shooter walking – seem superfluous, with little to offer other than the great art design.
Those somewhat extraneous scenes become particularly problematic as the film progresses and it becomes increasingly obvious that the main story would benefit from a longer runtime. To put a more positive spin on things, it’s a problem because the real-world story of Mato and Yomi is actually pretty good. It’s not a particularly original story, but I found myself engaged with the girls’ friendship even when things occasionally moved a bit too quickly thanks to the alternate world scenes eating up the OVA’s already relatively short runtime. While most will be drawn to Black Rock Shooter by the fast-paced action – and they won’t be disappointed – I found myself enjoying the real-world side of the story much more, even though the fight scenes are truly spectacular.
At this point I’d like to go back to that question – “Where does the girl with the huge cannon fit into this?” – and give an alternative, more personal answer: “Not particularly well, for the most part.” I’ve already mentioned how obvious the parallels between the two worlds are, but they’re not directly linked in terms of actual plot until literally the very end of the film, at which point we’re left with no real resolution. As a lead-in to the inevitable follow-up it’s effective, but on its own – as it is now – it’s a somewhat unsatisfying conclusion (or lack thereof) to a fortunately enjoyable story.
In the end, then, it’s impossible to avoid discussing the franchise’s potential, because whether this is a complete stand-alone story or the start of something more actually makes a pretty big difference when it comes to evaluating the OVA. Given the already formidable popularity of Black Rock Shooter I think it’s safe to assume there’s more on the way, so let’s run with that. While the fight scenes in the alternate world may be mostly all flash and little substance, the seeming convergence between the two worlds in the closing moments of the Black Rock Shooter holds the promise of combining that flash – and it is nice to look at – with the much more engaging, character-driven drama that sustains the OVA. That’s the real potential of Black Rock Shooter and, although this first chapter only begins to achieve it, it’s still a pretty enjoyable introduction and I would recommend it. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too long for the story to continue. 

Friday, 3 September 2010

Elfen Lied Review

Elfen Lied is a Japanese manga series created by manga author Lynn Okamoto. A thirteen-episode anime television series adaptation based on the manga was produced by the studio ARMS and broadcast on TV Tokyo from July to October 2004. The anime started before the manga was complete; as a result, the plot differed between the two, especially towards the ending of the story. The anime has the legendary opening theme 'Lilium' with a gripping storyline and is extremely graphic, while the manga art style is very softly drawn. But for now i am going to review the anime.

The Diclonius are a species of evolved humans with two horns and vectors, transparent arms that have the power to manipulate and cut objects within their reach. These arms are capable of incredible strength able to lift objects of extremeweight and move at super sonic speeds easily able to cut through any object with ease, including the human body. Diclonius are being held in a special experimental facility off the coast of Kamakura in Kanagawa, south of the city of Yokohama. However one night Lucy a teenage Diclonius escapes from her restraints and trys to break out of the facility. She effortlessly kills many in the facility with her vectors and makes it outside. However a marksman has been ordered to shoot Lucy, landing a would-be fatal blow to her head which causes Lucy to fall into the ocean only to be washed up on sure in the south city of Yokohama,developping a split personality and creating the persona 'Nyu'.

Elfen Lied involves themes of social alienation, identity, prejudice, revenge, abuse, jealousy, regret and the value of humanity. The plot is extremely sad to say the least, I found myself being rather depressed that these diclonius are being experimented on in a far off facility. What makes it even worse is the amount of innocent people that just end up dieing, its hard to know whether Lucy or Nyu as a single person is the protaganist or the antaganist of the story. However it is that complexity which makes the plot line great. Sadness and depression is a powerful emotional tool which makes the viewer question him or herself about the treatment of these diclonius. We follow the story of these Diclonius and especially Lucy and how she interacts with human life. When you see Nyu in character she is harmless, cute, innocent girl but then you see Lucy who is violent and dangerous and would kill without question.

The characters of Elfen Lied are ones that many will love, the work together so perfectly with Nyu acting as the light in this very dark anime.

Lucy: She is the main female protagnist and the teenage Diclonius who escaped the experimental facility at the begining of the anime, developing a split personality in the process resulting in 'Nyu'. For her whole life she has been met with hatred, alienation and contempt and this has caused her to develop an extreme hatred to all humans because of the treatment she received as a child, causing her to kill them without a second thought. What makes things worse is that she is the most powerfull diclonius in the anime, her power unstoppable, which makes her a difficult adversary to defeat, even for other diclonius.

Nyu: When Lucy was struck in the head with a 50. Calibre bullet, she developped an alternate personality. When she awoke, she became Nyu, who is one of the most cutest anime characters in existence. She becomes completely selfless and is always smiling craving for attention. She becomes this child like character unaware of how the world works and only wants to be with her loved ones. In this form she does not even know she is a diclonius and thus cannot use her vectors. It is this innocence and soft heartedness that us the viewers become conflicted and question our feelings. This because Nyu and Lucy are the same person as 2 sides of the same coin, truly a dangerous combination.

Kohta: Kohta is the male protagonist of the anime, who does everything for the girls that live with him. He shows his authority by not allowing any of the girls to stay if they do not work, yet still shows sympathy towards each one acting as a father figure to many of the girls in the house. It shows he has responsibility and very reliable. Even with his stern attitude he does have a soft side to him as he is ussually caring most of the time. He is so caring he is the only human Lucy refuses to kill because of their past relationship that is revealed in the anime.

When you watch the first 7 minutes of the first episode in the anime, you see Lucy killing and endless amount of people with blood shed flying in all corners of the screen. This over the top graphical violence most people think is very unnecessary. Throughout the series, there is a great deal of nudity, blood and gore, extreme graphic violence as well as psychological violence. Dicloius are essentially just mutations of normal humans, yet they are locked away in a far off facility and are experimented on day and night. These inhumane actions cause much shock to the viewer, which in turn allows them to take pity on the diclonius. Lucy shows so much violence throughout the entire anime, however when she reverts back to Nyu she becomes cute and harmless. This sudden change of personalities and the never ending violence is a true juxtaposition on context for the anime.

I found this anime truly amazing and it holds a place at the top of my list. The story was amazing, it showed me the true extent of human nature and how lonliness can develop into hatred.  Many people would agree that Elfen Lied is one of the greatest animes ever, I find it hard to believe that a second season has not been developed, but I love the animation in the Elfen Lied anime. The music is so fitting, with many parts being these dark orchestral pieces that create an ominous atmosphere for the anime, the title song, 'Lilium' is played throughout in many different versions, a favourite of mine being the music box piece. For this reason I believe Elfen Lied is the very best anime because it is just so shocking, yet very depressing and cold as well. When watching Elfen Lied everything feels forced upon you, the emotions and feelings of the characters all try and make you question humanity and cause you to question yourself about what you would do in the position that the characters are forced into and if you would meet Lucy with the same hatred and alienation that so many already did in the past.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Spice And Wolf Review

The physical setting of Spice and Wolf is romanticized medieval fantasy. While it may not be the most eccentric of preferences, I found it to be boundlessly fascinating; and Spice and Wolf proved certainly no exception, it managed to exceed my expectations quite profoundly. However, while most similar anime within the genre tend to focus on the caustic militaristic trends of the era, Spice and Wolf does anything but. Instead, its core story elements revolve around the day-to-day travels of a roaming merchant and his companion, which means most conflict comes in the form of economic disputes and not sword fights. This premise, while simple, emerged as surprisingly effective, as it allowed the series to flaunt a very strong sense of character development in lieu of an ordinarily frail story.

Fortunately, Spice and Wolf's lack of an exceedingly complex story was not a negative. At its conception, the story begins when Lawrence arrives in a rural farming village at the time of its harvest. After bartering some of his goods away, he comes into possession of a bundle of wheat which happens to be enchanted by the village's guardian spirit, a wolf goddess named Horo. With the village's increasing desire to distance itself from its old traditions regarding her, Horo decides to accompany Lawrence on his travels as she journeys to return to her home in the northern forests. From there on out, both Lawrence and Horo discover just how lonely their respective lives have been, and despite distinctly different personalities, begin to confide in one another's company.

This certainly is what makes Spice and Wolf shine as much as it does. Both Lawrence and Horo are absolutely fantastic characters, and their interactions with one another are both endearing and authentic; the series' pacing allows their story to flow very naturally, and lacks any noticeable lapses in quality. Though the romance only really starts to develop by the time the last episode rolls around, I didn't really find this an inherent flaw, as for the entire duration of the series their relationship is steadily developed. Initially Horo views Lawrence as little more than a traveling companion and a source for her personal amusement, but his kindness slowly seeps under her skin, and she begins to desire his company in a manner deeper than that of mere friendship.  Ultimately, by relying on each other's respective strengths and covering for each other's weaknesses, they pull themselves through a number of dangerous circumstances, resulting in the development of a very hardened bond between them.

Thus, for those looking for an action-packed thriller, Spice and Wolf is not for you. Its very leisurely pace is slow but cumulative in nature, creating a very serene, relaxing watch that guides the viewer through the story with a graceful hand.  While they are indeed a couple "action" scenes scattered throughout, they tend to lack much intensity, and are designed more as story elements than eye candy. At its heart, the story revolves around the communal bond between Lawrence and Horo and not so much the external strife that plagued the era.

The animation captures the medieval setting perfectly. From flowing fields of wheat to bustling market squares, the world comes across as surprisingly immersive, and the attention to color and lighting really enhances this. For example, particular attention is paid to clothing colors indicative of the times; most characters wear browns, grays, and whites, yet Horo is dressed in more regal purples, blues, and reds. These small, but cumulatively noticeable details, along with the music, provide for an enormously potent atmospheric feel. All in all, while not the most astounding of quality, the animation more than suits the series, and I can't think of a single instance of it appearing awkward or out of place.

Both Horo's and Lawrence's voice actors are splendid, and each captures the subtleties in his or her respective character magnificently. Given Horo's keen disposition for mixing emotional undertones in many of her more serious speeches, this further served to exemplify her character's strengths and insecurities as being hand-in-hand. Tack on a soundtrack awash with tunes composed with fiddles and other instruments of the times, and it's certainly easy to feel quite at home within Spice and Wolf's world.

If nothing else, Horo is the incarnation of every guy's dream girl: she's strong and confident, yet simultaneously both charming and feminine. This duality in her personality functions on a number of levels, and unlike most anime romances which have somewhat brazen females, Horo is much more human and believable (odd, since in actuality she is a wolf.)  Despite her constant attempts to deny her affections, she finds herself continually flattered by Lawrence's chivalry-driven personality, and finds it increasingly more difficult to deny how happy she finds herself when in his presence. In fact, at many points throughout the series she becomes angry with him simply because he sacrifices so much of his own happiness for hers. Come the end, her goal of returning home seems to trail off toward the back of her mind, and her desire to continue her travels with him and further develop their relationship takes priority.

And indeed, while Horo is charming, Lawrence is no stranger to the trait himself. Though his lifestyle of solitude leaves him somewhat oblivious to the subtleties of courtship, his constant care and concern for Horo's well being make him a very respectable lead. While he finds himself relying on Horo's wolf form for physical protection, he cultivates her emotional needs, which creates a heartwarming quid pro quo between the two. With so many male leads that tend to flop when placed in such a circumstance, Lawrence's character was enormously refreshing; he maintained his dignity and logic without deteriorating into an emotionally numb idiot. From the get-go he's able to clearly recognize that he has affections for Horo and she him, ruling out any form of unnecessary drama.

For a series centered around the merchant dealings of a medieval trader, Spice and Wolf confirms that even the most ordinary and plain of story ideas can be transformed into a splendid piece of work. I must admit that when first choosing to watch this title, I wanted to prove to myself that much of the credit given Horo's character was mere admiration of the fact that she's a cute wolf girl; once more, however, I've confirmed my initial conceptions wrong. Through her coupling with Lawrence, Horo highlights Spice and Wolf as one of the more exemplary titles of the winter season; I easily recommend this to anyone looking for a series that wistfully and brilliantly explores the complexities of the romantic interaction between two individuals - this is definitely not one to be missed.


Canaan is, without a doubt, the series with the biggest budget and best graphics of all the series that debuted the past Summer Season. With this, PA Works have really established themselves as a company with a number of amazing artists, with an amazing attention to detail. Canaan is a bit iffy on its plot, but it nevertheless turned out to be a great action series.
Especially the first episode is a masterpiece in terms of direction: there is so much happening at the same time, and there’s lots of stuff moving on the screen at the same time. The rest of the series is toned down a bit in comparison, but nevertheless continuously puts forth well-animated and directed climaxes, in which the action ranges from subtle to over the top, but always packs a punch.

The problems in this series come from the fact that it can’t seem to decide whether it wants to be taken seriously or not. On one hand, it has this deep subplot of Canaan’s past, and her friendship with Maria. On the other hand, there is the American President and Liang “Psycho Bitch from Hell” Qi. These characters are so ridiculously over the top that it becomes really hard to take them seriously, especially among the rest of the series that does want to be taken seriously.
The back-story behind this series is also nothing special, and the plot has no real surprised. It’s something about a virus from some village being evil, and Canaan’s mortal enemy Alphard having something to do with it. This really is a series for the action.
Thankfully though, the rest of the cast manages to save this series from being yet another action series that fails to stand out at everything else. Canaan, Maria and Alphard are a great cast of main characters, and the side-characters also have their own issues that make them interesting to watch. The cast is colourful, and while nothing like the best of this season, they do manage to carry the weight of this series.
There have been a lot of action series during the past half year, and while Canaan isn’t the best, it did manage to stay interesting, and despite the few over the top characters it did manage to pick itself up again and delivered a very strong finale that only has one real problem: breaking the “people die when they’re killed”-rule. Some of the resurrections in this series are a tad hard to buy. But hey, it’s an action-series, so it shouldn’t be that surprising.

Highschool Of The Dead review

Had a sexually-tense George A. Romero set Dawn of the Dead in a Japanese school, it would probably resemble Highschool of the Dead -- a new anime from Japanese production company Madhouse (ChobitsDeath Note) based on the manga of the same name.
On the surface it’s same as any other zombie film or tv series, different day: pandemic sweeps city, inhabitants become zombies, group of survivors must escape by any means necessary. But there are several other aspects that make this series uniquely entertaining.
Mix them together and you get an overly-sexualised and wonderfully violent production -- beautifully presented and horrific, even if it doesn’t, in its component parts, contain a single original element. And far be it from me to wonder if the ratio of zombie decapitations to shots of the lead girl’s underwear is a solid 1:1. (I've always believed movies should contain at least two decapitations for every shot of naked under-lady.)
A friend introduced this series to me recently after it began airing in Japan and the US and as such I’ve  seen all the episodes so far. Enough to reassure me that titillating zombie-based horror isn’t lost within the Japanese high school genre.
I’m looking forward to a Blu-ray release in the UK hopefully not too far down the line. For now, it’s airing on the Anime Network in the US and on various channels in Japan. For online streaming check out zomganime where its posted every monday. Let me know what you think of it in the comments if you’ve already been enjoying it.