Keeping on task! Escaflowne, Azumanga, Spiral!

See! I can be consistent.

I don't know how I'm going to go forward from here, except to weekly keep you posted on what I'm watching and what I think of it. I finally finished Escaflowne and Azumanga Daioh, but Magic Knight Rayearth may have to wait because I've picked up Death Note again. I may finish that before anything else. I'm also finishing the first season of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle and I've picked up the Escaflowne movie, so we'll have to see what I can get to for next week. I may also take a few moments and reminisce about titles I've enjoyed in the past. Let's begin!

Azumanga Daioh (26 Episodes)
Animation: ***
Story: ****
Music: **
Overall: ***

Azumanga Daioh is a title that seems so simple when you watch it, but when you try to explain it to other people, it gets rather difficult. Really, its a comedy about the misadventures of six high school girls, but they aren't the general misadventures you'd expect. Conisdering that it was first a comic strip, it really is more comparable to Calvin and Hobbes than shoujo anime. And perhaps we're getting an idea of what it's about.

I had actually read the manga and loved it, so I anticipated the anime version to be as much fun. While there were moments were I was laughing out loud, sometimes there were things that were a little awkward. I don't know how to describe it, but I guess it's the difference between manga and anime, especially with comedy.

At first, I didn't like ADV's dub. I've always had issues with using Southern accents for the Kansai dialect because it's not a fair comparison. But over time, I got used to them and rather liked it by the end. Osaka ended up sounding stupid rather than southern, and that is much closer to her character.

The one thing that really got on my nerves were the theme songs. They have got to be the weirdest theme songs in all of anime, and that makes them hard to watch. And the rest of the music, though fitting at times, was pretty lackluster.

Azumanga Daioh truly is a strange show, filled with strange characters doing and saying some strange things, but somehow it works and is a comedy classic. It may not be one of my favorites (Kodocha beats the pants off of this) but definitely worth seeing and reccomendable to anyone looking for good comedy.

Escaflowne (26 Episodes)
Animation: ****
Story: ***
Music: ****
Overall: ***

Escaflowne has become a classic on its own. Now that we have shows like Glass Fleet and Aquarion coming out, using the name of Escaflowne as one if its selling tactics, Escaflowne is now the standard for fantasy/sci-fi epics. It's such a shame that it ends so horribly.

Now, don't get me wrong. There are a lot of things done right in this show. The Guymulefs are cool and the battles are very well done. Being a mecha fan, seing these massive suits of armor battling it out with massive swords is really sweet. There is also a lot of great atomsphere and a good sense of character depth. The music is also considred classic, this being one of Yoko Kanno's best works, and I agree that the tones really help set the epic mood this show needs.

However, I also feel that the story is a bit disjointed. We're suddenly flung here and there with seemingly little reason. The love triangle kind of takes a lot of the center stage, which is to draw in a female audience, but there are parts where I think it drags too much. And, of course, I have major issues about the ending where Hitomi and Van have to stay apart for absolutely no reason. Why can't Hitomi stay? Why does she go back? What kind of love is that?

Escaflowne definitely deserves its place in the anime hall-of-fame as one to look back on, but I guess it just quite isn't perfect. I haven't gotten to these newer titles yet, so maybe they'll work out al the kinks I didn't care for in this one.

Spiral (25 Episodes)
Animation: ***

Story: ****
Music: ****
Overal: ****

I'm just kind of throwing this in. I haven't watched it in a while, but it really has a special place in my heart. And now that the manga is being produced by Yen Press, I'm finally going to find out the answers that were left unresolved from the anime series.

Spiral is a very different kind of anime. It starts off a handful of mysteries, but as the secrets of the blade children are revealed, it becomes a kind of battle of wits, episode after episode. Maybe because it is so different (from standard DBZ, Naruto shonen style action) that I like it so much. The further you get into the series, the higher the stakes become.

However, when you finish the 25 episodes, there are a lot of unanswered questions. While there is some resolution and Kanone is, essentially, defeated, you still wonder what the deal is with the blade children and why they are cursed.

There are still a lot of highlights with the show. I personally like the music quite a bit, and the adventures are a lot of fun to watch. Also, Funimation really does great work with the dub, hitting all of the characters on the nose, giving Eyes a british accent and everything, is rather brilliant. Again, we have a southern accent for Kansai, but it's forgivable. And, as a side note, the DVDs have an outakes section that just kills me. Now, I've always been a fan of outakes, like from Toy Story and Jackie Chan movies, but anime dubbing outakes seem a little odd. However, they way they were presented for Spiral, I think, was brilliant. Instead of just showing the scene they're supposed to be dubbing, they made a bit of a montage, mixing up the lines with images and music.

Spiral is very recommendable as long as you can tolerate a bit of a cliffhanger ending. Everything from Hiyono's terrifying ability to get information to the interactions between the blade children, especially Rio and Kousuke, is very entertaining. It's good to see how something different can come out as something interesting.

My life has succeeding in making me busy, but I'm still going to watch anime and be a guide to what (I think) is good. Leave comments and lemme know what you think.

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