The Guyver, Tactics, Speed Racer and Tenchi
a bi-weekly column by Don Houston, John Sinnott, and Todd Douglass
Anime Talk has a look at some great, and not so great, anime DVDs this week. The second volume of Tactics doesn't suffer from the sophomore slump that afflicts many amime series. This show about an excorsist and the tasks that he takes on is unique and has a lot of personality. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig comes to an exciting conclusion and was one of the better series released in 2006. In addition to our usual installments of Holly's Anime Bargains and the upcoming releases there's an early look at a character who will be familar to many old-time anime fans: The Guyver. ADV is releasing a new series of boibooster goodness and it promises to be intense, violent and a lot of fun.
After putting it off for over a year, FUNimation has finally released the second part of the third Tenchi OVA series: Tenchi Muyo! Ryo Ohki. Taking off more or less where the other OVAs left off, this six episode series has a lot of the charm of the original series, though it feels rushed and needlessly complex. The story should have been told in a longer series. Still, fans of the characters will want to check this out too see what happens to Princess Ayeka, Ryoko, and poor Tenchi.
Quirky comedy series seem to be all the rave these days, though there have been many throughout anime's history that made the big time. Unfortunately I just don't think Papuwa (volume 1, volume 2) is going to hit that pinnacle of quality or popularity. The series is downright weird and truth be told; not very funny. The cast of characters is just about as eclectic as you can get ranging from a child in a leaf skirt to a talking mushroom and even a pink dinosaur. My problem with the show is that it is only funny at certain parts because most of the time it is trying too hard. Fans of cracked out anime that crosses the line of normality may appreciate the material here but those of you looking for an intelligent show with a reason for being may want to look elsewhere.
The final volume of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig brings the series to a very satisfying conclusion. Many of the questions that the series has raised are answered and viewers who were wondering just what Mr. Gohda has been up to and what Kuze's goals are will come away happy. Of course, things don't end quite the way anyone was expecting it to, but that's part of the show's charm. It always keeps you guessing. A great show that will certainly end up on this year's top ten list.
Tactics has quickly become one of the more interesting series that I've seen in a while. With storytelling that feels surreal and often fairytale-like in nature Tactics presents five episodic adventures on each disc. In case you haven't heard of this series it features an exorcist by the name of Kantaro and follows him through some of the cases he undertakes. Joining him are an oni named Haruka, a young girl named Suzu and a fox demon known as Yoko. Each of the tales so far has been very deep in meaning and in plot. There are a couple of points where the show falters thanks to its lack of flow and development but the second volume sees more of the latter. If you are looking for a unique series with personality and interesting stories check this one out for sure.
It has been a long wait, but the final eight episodes of Speed Racer are finally available on DVD. This fifth volume comes out an amazing three and a half years after the release of the first volume (way back in April of 2003) and I'm sure a lot of fans were wondering if the entire series would ever come out. Luckily it has, since this series is just as much fun now as it was 35 years ago when it was first released. Yes, it's a bit corny and laughable in parts, but the show has so much action and runs along at such a fast clip that it's easy to ignore the imperfections.
The third volume, Negima! takes a bit of a dip in quality; sort of the sophomore slump postponed for a volume. After introducing the main characters and setting up the problems in the earlier installments, this set of four episodes is mainly filler. The overall story is mostly ignored and these shows are played for laughs, sometimes more successfully than others. It feels like they are taking a bit of a breather before jumping into the meat of the program.
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The Guyver - Bioboosted Armor
Yoshiki Takaya's long running manga series Bio-Booster Armor Guyver has been appearing in Japanese comic anthologies since 1985 and is still going strong. It was turned into a 12 episode OVA series in 1986, (and became one of the early anime titles to make a big splash in the US market) and there have even been two live action movies based on the characters. In 2005 a new anime series started broadcasting in Japan and now that 26 episode series has crossed the Pacific thanks to ADV. The first volume is due to be released on November 14, but I got an early peak at the series and I liked what I saw.
While going home from school one day, Sho Fukamachi and his friend Tetsuro hear an explosion and see an odd disc shaped object fly out from a nearby forest. When Tetsuro picks the disc up, a strange multi-tentacled thing pops out and wraps itself around an unsuspecting Sho from head to foot. Totally encased Sho finds himself inside a suit of living armor, the Guyver. This suit enhances his natural abilities greatly and also adds some new ones such as a double barreled chest beam.
He has to use his new found powers almost immediately as a group of soldiers lead by a huge monster attacks poor Tetsuro. After dispatching them however Sho’s troubles aren't over. The bio-armor that he can call up at will belongs to a mysterious organization called the Chronos Corporation and they aren’t about to let their secret weapon get away from that easily. They send out squads of men to look for Tetsuro and Sho, men who have the ability to turn into huge powerful monsters and have orders to kill.
This is a pretty exciting and bloody series. Viewers who don't
like seeing limbs torn from their sockets and blood sprayed across walls
would do best to avoid this show. If you don't mind a little gore
with your anime however, this should prove to be a fun series. The
action is fast-paced and dynamic and the character designs are interesting.
The various monsters (really men in bio-armor) are creepy yet appealing.
Based on the episodes that I saw, this is going to be a show that is widely
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