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42 reviews in total 
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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
better than Fushigi Yuugi, 14 April 2003

Twelve Kingdoms is an anime based on a book by Ono Fuyumi (sometimes transliterated as Ono Huyumi) that is similar to Vision of Escaflowne or Fushigi Yuugi. It tells the story of Yoko Nakajima a red-haired high school student. On the outside Yoko is popular and kind-hearted but on the inside she is full of doubts and can't express her true feelings. Her teacher wonders if she dyes her hair so her parents want her to dye it black so she will fit in. Yoko has frightening dreams of slaying monsters but her mother brushes them off as nothing to worry about. One day a strange man named Keiki comes to class and warns her of approaching danger. Monsters attack and they flee to the roof where sweethearts Yuka and Asano are chatting. Keiki wants Yoko to take up the sword and go with him to his world. She tries to refuse but when she sees her two classmates in mortal danger she accepts if they can be brought to safety too. They take a trip through a dimensional whirpool and arrive in the world of The Twelve Kingdoms.

I've seen the first story arc from episodes 1 to 13 and I understand there should be 39 in the series. The artwork is good and the backgrounds are detailed. I am glad the writer doesn't ignore problems like the language barrier when people go to another world and practical issues like getting food or seeing if strangers can be trusted. I understand Media Blasters has gotten the US rights to the series for 2003 but try to get the Japanese language version if you can. If you like stories about an ordinary person who has to grow up to become a hero you will definitely like it.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
sweet romantic-comedy about old-fashioned kimono-wearing girl, 16 February 2003

I understand Pioneer is going to be releasing the English-language version soon so I will give you a sneak peek based on the subtitled version I've seen.

Polite, traditional Japanese girl Aoi has come to the big city looking for her childhood sweetheart Kaoru with the intention of marrying him. Being naive she has run away from home without even knowing that the boy would accept her. As it turns out she is the daughter of a wealthy family the Sakurabas and he is from another wealthy family the Hanabishis. Kaoru ran away during his teens because the Hanabishis ostracized his mother and tried to erase her from the family history when she died. Since Aoi loves Kaoru with all her heart everything will turn out ok right? Wrong! Since Aoi is willing to give up everything to be with Kaoru the family governess Miyabi sets up a house for them to live in on condition that the two of them not cause a scandal by sleeping together. Their cover story is that Aoi is the owner of the building, Miyabi is the building superintendant and Kaoru is a tenant. Soon we are introduced to the rest of the large cast of characters who are there to provide the comedy. I've seen the first nine episodes (Destiny, Supper, Separation, Live-in, Friend, Housework, Mysterious Demon, Fondness, One Night) and it looks promising. Since this show depends on the cuteness of Aoi I think you will like the Japanese-language version best.

7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
loveable, oddball characters at a Japanese high school, 5 March 2003

This animation is based on a Japanese comic strip, kind of like Charles Schulz's "Peanuts" in North America. Like the "Peanuts" cartoon each episode is built on short segments taken from the comic strip. It has been shown at a few Toronto anime clubs and I also have seen it on DVD. It was jarring watching the show at first because the episodes are really just a series of short gags and then suddenly we see the next episode preview. We have some anime stereotypes like the loudmouth Tomo, the dimwitted Osaka and the pushy Yukari but some characters seemed fresh like Chiyo a bright ten-year old girl who was advanced all the way to high school. Since Japanese high school covers 15 to 17 year-olds Chiyo is much shorter and physically underdeveloped compared the rest of the class. This leads to recurring gags like when Chiyo acts like an elementary school student or when she can't keep up with the rest in phys ed class. If you search the Internet you should find a few translated comic strips so you can see if this series is right for you but I give it a "thumbs-up".

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
not quite as good as OVA version, 26 July 2004

Nuku Nuku TV retells the story of our favourite cat-brain androbot from the direct-to-video 6-part series. They make a joke of this in the opening sequence where Ryu is holding onto the tapes from the OVA series. As before Nuku Nuku is an android with the brain of a cat which means she has trouble adapting to human society. The show is a high-school comedy but seems aimed a younger audience so older fans from before will be disappointed. I have seen all TV episodes and it is not quite as good as the OVA version.

Being a TV show the budget is less so the quality of the pictures is a little inferior to the original series. One plus is the music. I have the soundtrack CD and there are lots of catchy tunes from the show on it. It seems like everyone gets a song to sing not just the lead Megume Hayashibara. The stories are generally about monsters of the week created by Mishima Industries. In this series the head of Mishima is actively trying to cause trouble which is the reason why Mr. Kyusaku created Nuku Nuku. As before the son Ryunusuke is overly mature to make up for the crazy antics of his mother Miss Akiko and his father Mr. Kyusaku. This series is definitely worth a rental if you liked the original series but I would rate it "B" and the first series "A".

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
lonely student invents a female android companion, 27 May 2002

Hiroshi Karigari is a lonely engineering student who longs for a girl named Marie a member of the school tennis club. Hiroshi is too shy to talk to her so he ends up just hitting balls off the wall. He must have inherited money from his dead parents because he has a sophisticated workshop in his home. He designs a robot based on Marie and one day the human-looking robot activates itself. He is startled to see her in his room and calls out "Marie" and the robot decides that is her name. Complications occur when Marie follows him to the tennis club and the android sees the young woman she is based on. Human Marie has blue hair and android Marie has pink hair but nobody actually refers to that in the show so maybe those colours are for the benefit of the viewer so we can tell which one is which. Hiroshi introduces android Marie as his sister and nobody mentions the issue of where she has been up to now except for club president Tanaka.

The made-for-video series is based on a manga in Young Jump Weekly. Episode one is "The Birth of Marie" and it introduces the main characters. Episode two is "The Appearance of Hibiki Kennou" and is about a childhood acquaintance of Hiroshi who is now a bad teenaged girl. Episode three was a clever one called "Dreaming Android" where Marie learns about dreams and asks Hiroshi take make her capable of dreaming. This is one of those stories where you can't be sure if the character is really awake.

I first saw this series at one of the local anime clubs and I wasn't the only one who wished there were more episodes. I've seen the subtitled version and the English-dubbed version and they were both good. If you liked Video Girl Ai then you will probably like Metal Angel Marie because both Ai and Marie are conflicted as they try to help their guys meet their dream girl.

16 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
childhood favourite still good as an adult, 28 June 2002

I just rented "The Mysterians" which seems to be called "Earth Defence Force" in the Japanse version. The movie holds up well because it seems that the people involved treated the story seriously. When I was young I remember that the "Marcolights" were pretty cool and the music was very dramatic. The music still sounds good today but the sound quality on the tape wasn't that good.

I am glad to see the writers took the job seriously and had the characters ask the questions we asked from the audience. Can the Mysterians be trusted even though they say they are peaceful? Should we ask for a nuclear strike? The Marcolights have a limited range, how can we get around that? Should we wait for the Electronic Cannon or attack right now with the giant airships and Marcolights?

There were a few flaws. For example one of the characters mentioned that a fixed base was a weakness. I assume that is because you can't depend only on a defensive shield. A base must be defended by mobile fighter craft as well. The flying saucers performed that function until they unexpectedly retreated to the base during the climatic battle. The other weak point was the giant airships Alpha-1 and Beta-1. They moved like zeppelins and the standard cannon seemed weak. I guess their plot purpose was to be shot down so that Beta-2 could built for a second attack on the Mysterian base.

If you saw this movie as a kid it is still enjoyable as an adult. If you've never seen it then it is probably only of interest to those who want to see the early days of Japanese monster movies. You may be pleasantly surprised to see the leader of the Seven Samurai as the head scientist.

5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
when the police can't help you, hire City Hunter, 30 May 2002

Ryo Saeba calls himself a "sweeper". When you have trouble that needs to be cleaned up, when you need an "equalizer" you can hire the City Hunter by writing "XYZ" on a certain bulletin board in the rough part of town. Ryo will do "hits" or he can provide bodyguard services. He is an expert marksman and is proficient at hand-to-hand combat. His only weakness: pretty girls. Ryo is his own worst enemy when it comes to women. He can't help but act like a playboy. Luckily his partner Kaori is around to keep his lust in check. The series is mostly serious but is broken up by Ryo's inappropriate actions towards females. In situations like that Kaori pulls a giant hammer out of nowhere and smashes Ryo flat. I assume that recurring gag means that she is actually punching him in the face. On rare occasions Ryo did get to meet a pretty woman who wouldn't run away.

This classic was shown at a local anime club and the first TV series is available in the US from ADV. Don't forget to look for the yearly specials that came after the TV show ended. Also check out the live-action Jackie Chan version.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
noticeable improvement over first series, 17 December 2003

As you may know this comedy series is about muscle-head Junpei, military-freak Ritsuko and actress Airi and their attempts to return to Japan from a strange fantasy world by searching for spell fragments that have attached themselves to the bodies of elves. I wasn't too thrilled by the first series because there seemed to be a lot of adlibs and yelling in the English dub. I am sure you will wonder why the elves wouldn't cooperate and look for the spell fragments on their own bodies rather than be humiliated each episode by those who strip elves. I guess there would be no series then. Otherwise you will wonder how Ritsuko manages to get supplies for her her tank in a world without modern technology. At least they came up with a "worlds merging" excuse in the first series to explain how they could understand the local languge.

The English cast is much the same for the second series with the voice of Celsia the elf elder being different. This time around the stories seem better. The writers make it clear that they want the series to keep going because now our heroes must find a thousand spell fragments. There are also a few stories where we learn something of the characters' past which is important since we really don't know anything about them. I rate it "B".

Ariel (1989) (V)
interesting concept that should have been developed further, 9 December 2003

Central Park Media released this on videotape around 1996 but it is actually a 1989 anime based on a novel. In Japan these novels are mostly text with a few illustrations and many anime shows are based on such novels. The concept here is "girls who pilot a giant robot that looks like a woman". The story is a comedy and seems aimed at a very young audience. Therefore there is zero character development. Kazumi is the enthusiastic high school girl, Aya is the overly serious prep-school girl and Mia is the reluctant leader/university student. Their job is to protect the Earth from attack by the Gedo Corporation. These aliens rely on the monster-of-the-week for world conquest rather than conventional armies so the Ariel robot is the perfect counter. Why Dr. Kishida's grandaughters and niece are the ones chosen to pilot Ariel is never explained.

This show should be done again with a little more care because I think the concept is a good one. And I don't mean the subsequent release called Deluxe Ariel which is pretty much more of the same.

5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
sweet story about a gentle girl helping out a cursed clan, 9 September 2002

I see Funimation has gotten the English rights to this anime so I will let you know what the series is about. I saw seven episodes of this show subtitled at the Ryerson anime club.

Schoolgirl Toru Honda has been living with her grandfather since her mother passed away. Grandpa is getting the house renovated so they have to move out for a while. Grandpa goes to live with his son's family but Toru ends up living by herself in a tent. As it turns out she is squatting on the land of the Soma clan. One of the family recognizes her from school and invites her to live with their all-male household for a bit until her grandfather's home is rebuilt. Toru soon gets a big surprise because the Soma's have a secret curse like Ranma 1/2.

I like the opening and closing songs written Ritsuko Okazaki. She sings in a soft, whispery style that suits the melancholy mood of the show.

I understand the manga and anime are doing very well in Japan so check out the English version when it appears.

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