Tuesday, 29 May 2012


Title: Dragonball Z (DBZ)
Distributor: Toei Animation
Genre(s): drama, action, adventure, sci-fi?
Age Rating: 13+

Episodes: 291
 26 April 1986 - 31 Jan 1996
Official Site: at 
Authors Rating: 3/10

I seriously don’t know where to begin. Right now, on one hand, I have my favorite TV show from my pubescent years while on the other I have a steaming pile of shit. As much as I would love to write a glowing review from the vantage point of my 13 year old self I just can’t bring myself to recommend Dragonball Z to anyone regardless of the nostalgia value it contains. While Dragonball Z is arguably one of the most popular anime ever, I can whole-heartedly state that it is also one of the worst. Besides the above-average musical score, DBZ suffers from poor animation, God awful pacing, and a chronic lack of originality after the first 40 episodes.

Primarily, DBZ suffers from being highly consistent in it’s inconsistencies. If the basis of the show is to watch people fight each other, then they should be punching or kicking each other, right? Surely every so often some fist-like blurs whiz around on the screen, but for the most part Dragonball Z is lip service. The characters will throw a flurry of punches and become so winded that they have to stare at each other and discuss their upcoming strategy and how much more powerful they are than one another. Unfortunately, the loser in this pissing contest of “epic” proportions is the viewer. Additionally, during each new “epic” battle, it takes somewhere between five and six episodes for the story to progress through five minutes worth of events. Each saga lasts approximately 40 episodes and as soon as a saga is completed, the story skips ahead somewhere around ten years and three kids. Then it’s back to week-long ten minute time frames. Lather, rinse, repeat.

However, if the constant repetition isn’t enough to make one turn off the TV, the choppy and erratic animation will surely do the trick. I could take a box of crayons to a pre-school and get a flip-book better animated than Dragonball Z. The only difference is I wouldn’t make a killing on merchandising and licensing a terrible story about intergalactic muscle-men.

The only even remotely redeeming part of Dragonball Z is the soundtrack, which isn’t great, but makes the whole experience slightly more tolerable. For whatever reason I still get kind of excited when I hear the fight songs and I have this urge to reminisce so hard that I consider running upstairs to get my old Goku costume out of the trunk. Thank God I have some sense left.

Of course Dragonball Z is targeted to entertain pubescent males and it succeeds quite well having managed to hold my attention during those years better than Power Rangers and Justice League. However, to the more seasoned anime fan, DBZ is nothing more than a nuisance, and should be watched only to remember those times when you enjoyed kicking the crap out of your sofa.

Thanks to Nihon Review

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Fullmetal Alchemist

Title: Fullmetal Alchemist
Distributor: Bones
Genre(s): drama, action, adventure, alchemy, science fantasy
Age Rating: 13+

Episodes: 51 + OVA (must watch)
 4 Oct 2003 - 2 Oct 2004
Official Site: at 

Authors Rating: 9/10

After their mother has died from a sickness, the brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric try to resurrect her using the magical art of alchemy. But the attempt fails, and Edward loses an arm and a leg while Alphonse’s entire body is lost and his soul is bound into a set of platemail armor. To regain their original bodies, the brothers set for a quest to find the legendary Philosopher’s Stone which is said to allow even impossible alchemistic transmutations. Their search leads into an adventure of epic proportions…

Long anime series often suffer from several flaws at once: due to the length of the production, the budget for each individual episode is limited, and the quality of art and animation decreases. The scriptwriters have to come up with “filler episodes” to artificially lengthen the plot, taking away the pacing of the series. Finally, with a fixed set of heroes and villains, the same people will fight one another again and again without a decisive victory for either side as that would end the series prematurely.

Fullmetal Alchemist Wallpaper 8Fortunately, Fullmetal Alchemist is the one exception to that rule. Even at a hefty fifty-one episodes, it retains a high quality standard during its entire length. Not only do art and animation consistently fulfill modern standards, the pacing of the series is nigh-perfect. Except for one side story focusing on a few minor characters, there are no filler episodes whatsoever. Many episodes end on beautifully crafted cliffhangers, and the steady development of the plot will keep everybody excited and waiting for more.

The plot itself is also a masterpiece. From an initially highly personal goal, the adventures of the Elric brothers soon start to take a turn for the bigger, culminating in war, death and destruction on a large scale. Characters you’ve known and loved for twenty episodes will suddenly die, and no one will bring them back. There are many different factions fighting for control of the Philosopher’s Stone, and every single one brings a new aspect into the story. Surprisingly, despite the overall larger-than-life plot, all motivations behind the characters’ actions are very down-to-Earth, making them believable and even understandable. I’d even go so far to say that Fullmetal Alchemisthas the most realistic set of characters of all contemporary anime.

It is beyond me why the creators of such a dark and serious series chose to spice it with lots of awkward and often inappropriate slapstick humor. Even in the most dramatic situations, characters will suddenly transform into their chibi forms for a short laugh, and all too many conflicts end like a Roadrunner cartoon. Were they trying to make the plot more attractive for kids? Another (albeit minor) flaw is a slight lack of logic in some details of the script - one episode features the outbreak of a dangerous disease, and in the end, we learn that the disease was intentionally created by a group of people. But there is no explanation for how these people would have the skill to create a new disease, and it even comes out that they shouldn’t have such skills at all. While these details are not that important to the main plot itself, it’s still unsatisfying to find them.

Even with these drawbacks, Fullmetal Alchemist is still one of the best anime series of the new millennium. An enthralling plot, believable characters you will care for and a perfect pacing are a guarantee for good entertainment from the exciting beginning to the powerful ending. If you haven’t seen this series so far, make it the next one you start watching.

Thanks to - nihonreview