The Great Anime Experiment 2

Twitch here, with group 2 of the Great Anime Experiment. The results of the previous installment were less than promising. After finding only one show I was willing to watch for more than the required two episodes, group one turned out to be an abysmal failure. In the interest of perking the odds, I decided to focus on iconic anime for the next sample group. In this edition I will rate: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Trigun, and Initial D.

 

Rating System:

UGH!: Asinine story, structural problems, cardboard characters. There are serious problems.

Meh: There isn’t any major with the plot or writing, but the story just didn’t grab me.

More!: Solid and intriguing storytelling and characterization meets pretty, pretty pictures. Warrants at least two more episodes.

Hell Yeah!: Amazing art, cool music, and a story that makes me weep from the sheer beauty and complexity. I don’t care where the writers are going, I’m going with them!

 

As always I will watch two episodes from the first season of each show before making a decision.

Fmab-poster

 

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009) Bones/FUNimation Entertainment

 

What it says on the tin: FMA: Brotherhood is the second adaptation of the manga Hagane no Renkinjutsushi. In all versions, FMA tells the story of the Elric brothers and their quest to develop a Philosopher’s Stone, a powerful gem that will unlock the secrets of alchemy. By creating a stone, the brothers hope to recover their human bodies which they damaged in an alchemy experiment as children. Full disclosure: I did watch a few episodes of the first adaptation during it’s original 2004 run on Cartoon Network.

Episode 1 and 2: Episode 1 begins with the Elric brothers’ attempt to capture Issac McDougal. McDougal is a rouge alchemist known for his ability to freeze things, even airborne water molecules. The main focus of the first episode is the brothers’ struggle to work together as part of a larger group of alchemists employed by the military. Oh yeah, and there’s the bit about Ed having a metal arm and leg, and Al not having a body at all. Episode 2 goes back in time to show how the brothers losing their bodies and joining the military.

Verdict: More!

Why it Rocks: Like it’s predecessor, the relationship between the Elric brothers is the heart and soul of the series. In the line of duty, Ed and Al are more capable than any boys their age should be. In their free time, they are best friends, and they look after one another in a way that is truly touching. The writers chose to introduce several of the main characters during a 30 minute fight. It’s perfect. At their core these alchemists are just warriors who use magic as their weapons. I will admit, I was skeptical about the need for a redo of a series that had been so popular, less than a decade after the original. The characters and many of the things that happen to them are the same, the tone is different. FMA: Brotherhood feels heavier than the original, which concerns me. There is one near universal truth about anime: the resolution is never as happy as the beginning. Even in the happiest anime, things tend to turn for the worse before the finale. The world of FMA: Brotherhood is already dark. Even the artwork tends toward gritty, shadowy realism. How emotionally crushing is this show going to get before the end?

Trigun

Trigun (1998) Madhouse/FUNimation Entertainment

What it says on the tin: Vash the Stampede is a wanted man with a habit of reducing entire towns to rubble. His legend is matched only by the obscene price on his head. The destruction around Vash is always the result of one or more bounty hunters pursuiting him. Vash is a fun-loving, doughnut-munching pacifist!

Episode 1 and 2: Episode 1 kicks off with Vash evading two groups of bounty hunters, each after the $$60 billion price on his head (that is not a typo). Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson are two insurance agents desperate to stop Vash’s expensive trail of destruction. Hilarity ensues when it becomes clear that nobody is sure what Vash the Stampede looks like, or even what weapon he carries. The only word to describe the destruction in the first episode is “epic”. Despite Vash’s best efforts the entire town of Felnarl is reduced to smoldering rubble. In episode 2, Vash takes a job as a body guard in the mansion of a water baron. He’s surprised to find that his new boss wants him to pretend to be…Vash the Stampede. Through a combination of skill and dumb luck, Vash brings down his tyrannical boss. Unfortunately, he destroys the neighboring town in the process.

Verdict: Hell Yeah!

Why it Rocks: What makes the series so entertaining is Vash’s ability to stumble through gunfights, chaos, and destruction, and make every lucky move seem deliberate. Sometimes, even he seems surprised by his dumb luck. The first two episodes don’t lay the groundwork for anything complicated down the road, but there doesn’t need to be. The visuals and jokes are the real stars here. Simply put, Trigun is fun.

 d_third_stage11

Initial D (1998) Studio Comet/FUNimation Entertainment

What it says on the tin: Takumi’s nights working as the delivery boy for his dad’s tofu shop turned him into a formidable driver. His determination to be the best turned him into a street racing legend. Behind the wheel of his modified Eight-Six, he schools all comers with his amazing drifting technique and downhill expertise.

Episode 1 and 2: Episode 1 and 2 introduce Takumi Fujiwara, and his street racing friends. The action begins when a well known team, the Akagi RedSuns, show up and challenge the local race team. The local team has nobody who can challenge the RedSuns, until word gets out about a nocturnal racer with super drifting skills. As episode 2 ends, the local team befriends Takumi, but remain clueless about his driving talents.

Verdict: More!

Why it Rocks: Remember what I said about Trigun being good fun? Initial D is crazy good fun. The jokes aren’t as over the top, but there is something endearing and amusing about Takumi’s cluelessness. The animation holds up well all these years later with one exception: the occasional 3D renderings of the cars. No doubt these visuals were cutting edge in 1998, but in an age where 3D dragons are a weekly occurrence, boxy cars with no shading look odd. My one complaint is the pacing. At the end of episode two, no character development has happened, and none seems to be coming. That’s likely to be the pace of the series, given that the first season alone is 26 episodes.

 

There we have it. Three series, three positive results. I see a pattern here. Three anime, three positive reviews, all series aimed at male audiences. I think I require another variable. See you with the next round of The Great Anime Experiment! Next up? Shoujo anime.

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3 comments on “The Great Anime Experiment 2

  1. As an anime fan who’s been out of the game for a while, I wass hoping to see reviews for some lesser known animes.

    Please take what I say as not being rude or negitive, but as constructive criticism.

    Some things that bothered me.
    1. All three are funimation animes. You pulled three of the top tier animes from the top tier studio and gave reviews on them, it’s no wonder they scored so high in your opinion part. It would be like the Yankees taking on a tee ball team, it doesn’t feel like you really tried this time around (which you half admitted in your opening paragraph).

    2. That being said, I was kind of expecting to be reading about lesser known animes, ones that might have slipped between the cracks. Reading about three overpopulated animes is dull. Even somebody just entering the anime scene knows, at the very least, Full metal Alchemist. If thats the case, it cant be bad, right?

    With lesser known animes, you can explain the flaws in them, as well as the highlights, and give people a reason why you feel like they should or shouldn’t watch it. It would open up a lot of doors for people to discover new things.

    Also, Trigun and FMA both appeared on adult swim and Initial D has a bunch of arcade games, so if this is NOT for entry level anime fans, this more or less feels like a hipster anime review.

    Which brings me to my third point…

    3. This “review” feels more like a synopsis than a review. A review should be mostly based off opinions, not facts. Yes, you have some opinions for each, but one paragraph on each, easpecially these animes, do not give them justice.

    4. Don’t be self defeating, and especially don’t post about it. My initial reaction to reading “After finding only one show I was willing to watch for more than the required two episodes, group one turned out to be an abysmal failure”, I was ready to quit reading right there. If you dont care, why should the reader? By saying “required”, you are making g it sound like you went through torture to watch 45 minutes. Hell, lets be honest, a lot of anime is dull in the first few episodes. Like a book, characters backstories are described as well as getting a feel for the “lay of the land”, so to speak. I was highly disappointed by that.

    5. This is a review of your review; more opinion than fact. Take notes and please show that next time. It will make for a not so dull review.

    Again, these comments are hopefully meant to be constructive critizism. Take them as you wish.

    -Tony

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting ! The Great Anime Experiment was designed as a peak into my own process of getting back into anime. This group was what I like to think of as a “control group”. The fact that the first round of the experiment was only a success because of an anime that reminded me of a style of movie I like, made it necessary to make sure that the problem was the selection of the previous group. Hence the need for a control group; a group of composed of anime almost universally enjoyed.

      In Round One I selected two random anime series based on the cover art, and took a recommendation for the third anime, Cowboy Bebop. For the control group/Round Two, I took recommendations from friends of mine that are more familiar with anime, and from the other Raging Nerds staffers. The final three were the ones most commonly recommended. That they are all from FUNimation Studios is a combination of coincidence, and the prevalence of FUNimation licensed anime. In fact, I don’t look at the specifics of the anime until after I’ve already selected and watched it.

      The Great Anime Experiment was never designed to contain comprehensive reviews. The reason for this is twofold. First, three such reviews in one article would too difficult to read. Second, a comprehensive review would prevent me from watching anime which are iconic, but have already been reviewed by other Raging Nerds staffers. At the moment, Raging Crow (https://ragingnerds.net/author/knuxknuckles/) and Melodic Chaos (https://ragingnerds.net/author/melodicchaos/) are our resident comprehensive reviewer. If you haven’t checked them out already, you really should!

      I look forward to your comment on my next article!

      ~Twitch~

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