This 6 episode long anime can by all rights be considered a single movie segmented into 6 small stories. The story is not extraordinary and the animation not great, but the quiet way it is told makes it nostalgic and generates a lot of kind feelings. What's it about? There are these two (highschool, of course) guys in a not far away future where robots and androids are common place. Some of them are advanced enough to obey complex commands and to look human and they all follow the Three Rules of Robotics, as coined by Asimov. One of the guys notices in the logs of his house android that it goes out from the house, occasionally, to places where it hasn't been instructed to go. The two friends follow the logs and find a weird bar where androids and humans must obey a single rule: all customers are to treat each other the same and not discriminate against robots. This makes the two understand the complex feelings that robots can have and discover their own difficulty in relating to said robots under the weight of society expectations. There is even an "Ethics Committee" that hates robots and wants to limit the interactions between man and machine, but just before they make any move the show ends.

Eve no Jikan was an interesting concept, something that reminded me of some of the quieter episodes from Ghost in the Machine or Denou Coil, which says a lot considering that GiTS is my favourite anime ever. However, the sixth episode felt like one of the others and then it suddenly says the story is finished, so its production must have ended prematurely. Maybe with a little more backing, it could have become a cult anime, as well.

Macross Frontier is a 2008 anime series of 25 episodes set in the Macross universe, itself 25 years old at the time. Humanity is expanding in the galaxy using huge self contained colony fleets that are defended by the ubiquitous Mecha humanoid robots. Their enemies, a strange race of space bugs that seem to have no mind of their own, but whose method of communication or reason for doing anything is a mystery. Enter Alto, a beautiful guy - and when I say beautiful I mean it, as he is cute as a girl and many times in the series people address him as one, to his chagrin - that wants to be a pilot. He accidentally joins up with an elite piloting force and there the story seems to become interesting: space battles, interesting aliens, amazing tech, even political machinations. But wait! In Japan there has to be more. And there is! Alto is 17 years old, that means he is also in high school. Two of his pilot buddies are his colleagues. Then there is this galactic idol pop star singer that is very beautiful and somehow falls for Alto and subsequently becomes a student in the same class! And there is another girl who also wants to be a singer and she becomes one rivalling the first, only to fall for Alto and... join the same high school class! And all the time they need to act on their feelings, without actually expressing them in an articulate way, and trying to protect one thing or the other. And if you thought the two singers are just a filler device, not at all connected to the main story, you are wrong. The singing of one of them seems to affect the alien bugs!

To quote a friend, WTF is wrong with the Japanese? Why would you mix space battles with j-pop and high school? Why hasn't there appeared a service that strips the annoying 2 minute singing at the beginning and then at the end of every episode and lets you watch everything start to end? It would be perfect if it would also remove in separate streams the fighting plus the sci-fi from the ridiculous fascination with high school puppy love!

To conclude, it wasn't great by any means, and the insistence of showing every space battle in the context of a pop song was really annoying. The story was OK, although I could spoil it for you in about 5 minutes. The animation was standard, I didn't think there were any issues with it. If you love the kind of "oh, oh, poor me, I am in a love triangle and can't get out" story, this is the one for you. The sci-fi was, really, taking the backseat in this one. I have to admit, though, that the highschool theme was not exaggerated much, nor was it absurd to the point of annoyance like in Elfen Lied, for example.

I loved the first Avatar animated series. It was deep, funny and yet innocent. A perfect kid show, but one in which an adult could find finer underlying levels of understanding. So it is no wonder that I eagerly awaited the release of Legend of Korra.

Now, that the first season is over, I can have an opinion on it. The show is not about a little kid anymore, it's about a teenager avatar. She, for she is a female, lives in a technological steampunkish world, something that is pretty hard to understand, considering she is the granddaughter of Ang, the hero of the first series, and it all happens merely 70 years afterwards. The innocence of childhood is replaced by the impetuosity of teen age, complete with mood swings, romantic feelings and a strong false sense of infallibility. The elemental countries are now united, so the only possible threat can come from a terrorist organization. There are moments of real fun, but not that many.

Bottom line: it's a completely different show! While in the first Avatar one could find strong moral values underlying what the characters did and the viewer would watch the show waiting to see what would Ang do next in the face of overwhelming adversity, now the focus is on what the avatar girl is feeling when she is not the center of attention and how she gets angry and motivated to use power to solve things. Not something terribly surprising in an American show, but really disturbing in a sequel to such beautiful a series.

So, while the show is nicely animated, the world interesting and the story passable, the overwhelming feeling I get is disappointment. I really do hope something will come out of the next seasons, which I will watch religiously, but let's face it: I do it for Ang.

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Serial Experiments Lain is a strange little anime. It reminded me a bit of Dennou Coil, but the subject was more akin to the show Caprica, as it covers virtual worlds, disembodied conciousness, gods and the barriers between what is real and what is "Wired". It was also psychedelic as hell at times, full of fractured philosophical ideas that were presented in digital like flashes.

After all its 13 episodes, it is hard to say what I was left with. I enjoyed the show, but more because of its overall subject and weird presentation. I am sure I haven't understood half of what the creators were attempting to communicate. In a way, it is an abstract art anime, which might not appeal to some people and other people might like it for completely different reasons than intended, such as myself. I couldn't shake the feeling that this is what the Japanese would have done if they were making Caprica. How the characters see the connected world is interesting, as something almost occult, that can store human conciousness into protocols that are hardly well understood and that have evolved organically in time. The concepts of ego and self are also explored, when one has to ask: if I am both connected in a virtual world and have a body in the real world, where is "I" ?

All in all a pretty decent anime, something that lacked any attempt to make it artificially humorous. No highschool love stories, no weird lewd jokes, just the plain storyline. I liked it.

What a beautiful anime film this was. I rated Summer Wars a full 10 on Imdb and I just felt the need to also post my opinion on the blog. Imagine Myiakazi combined with Denou Coil and you will get a glimpse of what Summer Wars is. Brilliant!

The Sword of Uruk is the continuation of The Tower of Druaga - The Aegis of Uruk, itself a spawn of the The Tower of Druaga arcade game by Namco. I must confess I have not watched the first part before venturing to see the second, but as the story unfolded, it was pretty clear what had transpired before. The problem, thus, was not that I didn't "get it".

The animation itself is typically Japanese, but one of the styles that is found usually in children animations. I didn't really mind that so much either, except the lazy 3D CGI bits that seems to be the creation of some 90's computer. The script, though, was a combination of ridicule, then ridiculous. I liked some of the jaunts directed to some movies or other anime, but in the end, it was just a really childish story. Also, it seemed to go towards an RPG style feel, one of those weird Asian dress-up MMO games. I didn't like that at all.

The world in which the story unfolds is a combination of modern, old and RPG, something that continuously switches from serious to not. Or better said, from ridiculous to ludicrous.

Long story short, I couldn't finish watching it. It is at best a children animation, with nothing to be learned or admired, really.

The only thing I did notice and is worth mentioning is that it featured two audio tracks, one in Japanese and one in English. The English one had the text completely changed, the attitude of the voice actors was completely different and it made me realize how much people who only watch the dubbed versions miss out on Japanese animation. It was really fun to watch an episode with English dubbing and English subtitles, both very different from each other, as the subtitles were direct translations from Japanese.

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The Shigurui (Death Frenzy) manga is now complete. The beautifully terrible story of two exceptional samurai in a world of politics, betrayal and cultural conditioning, locked in absolute rivalry, has ended with the 84th chapter, Pure Crimson. There is an anime with the same subject, I've also seen it and it is really great, even if it stops dead after 11 episodes. I actually recommend to watch the anime and then continue with the chapters in the manga, in order to understand better the feeling of the story. It must be said that the translation from a book written by a war veteran to a graphic novel by a mangaka 58 years his young and then translated to TV anime has not lost, but gained insight and emotion.

One can read the entire manga at MangaFox.

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I quite liked this anime series, one which combined with success the typical demon slaying organisation with a background of describing the culture and history of Japan. In that regard it is quite similar to Ruruoni Kenshin, but without the romantic side and a bit more supernatural.

The plot is set somewhere in the middle of the 19th century, when a government official decided to create an organization to defeat Youi, or demons. These people are called the Ayashi. The main character is a guy that has the power to extract weapons and other useful tools from the names of things. It is a beautiful concept, since in Japanese the characters are very complex, have a lot of meanings and have a habit of evolving through history. Usually a demon can be defeated with a weapon made from it's name, which usually holds extra significance as to what the demon's reason to be is.

The series also describes a very feudal and disgusting Japan, where people are constrained to ridiculous levels by etiquette, social ladder, politics or gender. Many a time, to ensure the survival of their little group, their leader resorts to despicable acts which the team performs with disgust, but a complete lack of choice. Women are treated as commodities, low rank people as livestock, while the rich and powerful engage in complex political struggles to ensure their survival. Scholars are being imprisoned for studying Western concepts, foreigners are considered a bane that people should not come across, while people without a family name and land are tatooed as "floaters" and arrested if caught inside cities.

A lot of the details of the show are about Japanese customs, history and view of the world, so I naturally enjoy this as a background for a fun fighting story. Other people obviously did not think the same way, so it only has 25 episodes, even if originally 52 episodes were planned.

I haven't finished the series yet, I still have the last five episodes to see, but so far I have enjoyed it. There is a manga for it, too, but I didn't find it free online.

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Stellvia is an anime with teenage kids saving the world. It starts like a kind of Harry Potter, only the main character is a girl, the academy is in space and there are no Voldermort or Slitherins in sight. All in all it was a fun series to watch, but so easy going and adolescent oriented that I am sure it will not remain in my memory for long.

The plot is simple enough: Earth was devastated by a supernova blast wave, it recovered, then it set out on a mission to defend the Solar System from the second wave, slower but deadlier. Their solution was to create a bunch of stellar academies, fill them with children trained by dedicated teachers, while the whole world stands united against this coming disaster. One can see from this plot alone that the focus is not on realism nor human nature. However, since it does touch all the Japanese topics of choice like pursuit of perfection, positive competition, love between school children and loyalty and "gabatte"-ness, it was nice to watch and I have easily enjoyed it.

Composed of 26 episodes, the series does leave room for more, like humanity exploring the stars. The aliens were never explained and the last episode does show a rebuilt Stellvia star academy with the trainees that saved the world as full students welcoming a new batch of recruits. However, it seems like a second season of Stellvia will never happen, due to creative differences.

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What a sad day this is. I have been reading manga at OneManga on an almost daily basis for a few years now. I liked how you can easily find the manga you want to read, then go through it without tons of ads and crap distracting you. Today, I entered their site and this message appeared:
"There is an end to everything, to good things as well."

It pains me to announce that this is the last week of manga reading on One Manga (!!). Manga publishers have recently changed their stance on manga scanlations and made it clear that they no longer approve of it. We have decided to abide by their wishes, and remove all manga content (regardless of licensing status) from the site. The removal of content will happen gradually (so you can at least finish some of the outstanding reading you have), but we expect all content to be gone by early next week (RIP OM July 2010).

So what next? We're not really sure at this point, but we have some ideas we would like to try out. Until then, the One Manga forums will remain active and we encourage all of you to continue using them. OMF has developed into a great community and it would be a shame to see that disappear.

You can also show us some love in this moment of sadness by 'liking' our brand new Facebook page. It would be nice to see just how many of you came to enjoy our 'better than peanut butter and jelly' invention.

Regardless of whether you stay with us or not, on behalf of the One Manga team, I would like to thank you all for your unwavering support over the years. Through the ups and downs you have stuck with us, and that is what kept us going.

As a certain Porky was fond of saying... That's all folks!

Time for me to go lay down and let this all sink in.

- Zabi

Sure, there are a lot of free manga sites out there, but none of them had the soul of OneManga, a place where obvious passion was fueling things and not financial greed. I will soon add a post with the newest place for free manga. I will also have to update all manga links in the blog. Ugh! Nothing good seems to last forever...

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The final chapter of the Fullmetal Alchemist story has been released today. Have the Elric brothers regained their bodies? Have they sacrificed everything in that Japanese way we so love? Did they get to yet another place filled with Nazis, turned vampire and got to be characters in an Uwe Boll movie? You will have to read the manga to find out! :) The good news it that following the link above you can do just that!

As you may know, the anime finished abruptly a while ago with the two brothers teleporting to our world in the middle of World War 2 and ended up in a ridiculous story. Luckily enough, the manga had none of that bullshit and continued on its merry way. Picking on that, another anime was started, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, which was supposed to delete from our memory the shame of the ending of the first anime. It is now pretty close to ending itself.

My opinion about the whole story is that it was a pretty imaginative concept, a kind of alchemic steampunk universe, filled with wonder, horror and fun stories. I hope you Read/watch it with just as much fun as I have.

Update 4th of July: The anime (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) has also ended. It covered the exact same things as the manga this time.

I also forgot to mention that the story ends with a few loose ends: Al goes to explore the East and learn Alkahestry, accompanied by the two chimera men that want their original bodies back as well; Ed is going West, trying to learn as much as possible so that he can return and complete his brother's research and then help people together; Mrs Bradley is raising the last homunculus, Selim, as her son, trying to infuse him with love and make him a good person. These three threads can lead to a possible continuation of the Alchemist story. At least, I hope they do.

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From all the animes that I've watched, Cowboy Bebop must be in the top three or five. It was an imaginative mix of space sci-fi and film noir, jazz and fight movies. The director of said anime, Shinichirō Watanabe, also did another anime called Samurai Champloo that I just finished watching. It is an imaginative mix of samurai era and Tarantino movies, hip hop and gangster movies. Even if it is sort of formulaic, this recipe for animes produced some pretty cool results. I thoroughly enjoyed the series and, at the end of the 26Th and last episode, I was crying for more.

The story revolves around three characters: a young girl looking for a mysterious samurai that smells of sunflowers, a samurai looking for purpose in life and a low life thug with an unconventional but deadly style of sword fighting. In the end, they meet some very dangerous people, thus ending the whole story arc. I have to say that, even if the fights in the main story arc were better and the emotions stronger, I enjoyed the other stuff, the episodes on the side, a lot more, even if most of the time they did not take themselves seriously... or maybe perhaps because of that very reason.

I completely recommend this to any anime lover, it is a nicely animated, with a cool soundtrack, and with an ingenious story.

Every time I've heard about this anime I refused to watch it for the very simple reason that the American "brand name" was Samurai X, which pretty much sucked tremendously. But, while reading a list of Shōnen anime series, I've decided to give it a try. And it, real name Ruruoni Kenshin, was a decent anime.

Staged in the beginning of the Japanese Meiji era (the reconstruction, as they call it, after American battleships forced the country to open its borders to the outside world) it features the adventures of former samurai assassin Himura Kenshin Battousai, fighting for the imperialists in the Tokugawa era, now reformed as a wandering samurai and having vowed not to kill anyone anymore. He manages this feat by using a "reverse blade" sword, which has the cutting adge on the inside. He thus manages to beat the crap out of people without actually killing them.

The series reminded me of Twilight Samurai, the movie that I liked so much, because it shows the feelings of people in the middle of great social and political change. Featuring 95 episodes, it is split in three main parts.

The first is how Kenshin moves into a sword dojo ran by a beautiful and single girl (heh!) and how they save a little boy from thugs and thus they become sort of an unofficial family. His "man slaying" past is slowly eroded by the contact with this pure hearted people. During this period he gets to fight several enemies, each stronger than the others, but keeping his vow not to kill anyone.

The second part is a large story arch in which he fights against a plot to overthrow the Meiji government and bring Japan to another period of chaos and war. The story culminates with the battle against a former "manslayer", the mastermind of the said plot.

The third part is mostly a mix of different stories that pretty much breaks the spirit of the first two parts. Instead of getting better, it grinds to a stop and then even gets worse. In this section he gets to fight "Feng Shui" masters and participate in all kind of filler episodes.

I felt that the series had a very nice feel to it, so I would recommend anime fans to watch it, but with the third part optional. There are also several OVAs that I am yet to watch. Happy viewing!

Update: I have watched the 6 OVAs and I was blown away. There are 4 episodes that make up an "origin story" for Kenshin, then a fifth episode which kind of summarises the series (badly) and then an ending that is both positive and extremely sad (in that typical Japanese suicidal way :) ). The animation is way more mature, the plots more complex, the characters have real feelings and there is no comedy whatsoever, getting back to that good feeling I had when I started to watch the series. Also the audience is different: the battles are realistic, with wounds and lots of blood, no magical mambo-jambo, while the characters behave more traditionally, with the women being more passive and the men more closed up.

All in all, the origin story makes the series seem childish at best, however I would recommend it being watched after seeing the series, just as I did.

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A while ago I was writing of the ending of the anime series, well before the story in the manga, leaving me wanting more. Well, a new series has been started that continues the plot. The English translated first episode of Inuyasha Kanketsu-hen has been released on the 4th of October 2009.

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Avatar is one of those animation series that you read about and think they're crap. I mean, first of all they are not Japanese :), they are actually US. And then they are shown on Nickelodeon and then they are about and for kids. I must be honest when I tell you that I accidentally heard about the series and I had no great hopes for it. However, as it turned out, it is a great show, one to be watched and enjoyed.

The show is mostly inspired from Chinese mythology, with Western and Indian bits thrown in when required. The world is separated into four nations. The people of each nation can control in various degrees a specific element magic: air, water, earth or fire. Unlike say, Naruto, there are no people that can control or mix more than one magic type, except a special and unique person, the Avatar. The Avatar has the job of protecting the world and, if killed, reincarnates into another person. The last Avatar, though, dissapeared a century before the show starts and no one has heard of him or any of its reincarnations. Meanwhile, the evil Fire Lord has started a war to conquer the world and he is about to succeed.

Well, you can see where this is going, right? The Avatar comes back, he is a goofy kid, and in the end he saves the world together with his friends. However, the animation, the stories and the teachings in this show are all high value and, for once, something a kid can see, enjoy, understand and USE in the real world. Well, all except the magic part :)

What is also great about the series is that it is not a work in progress. It did not end because the ratings went down or the economic crisis hit or whatever and it has very few filler episodes. It was a long consistent script that span three seasons of 20 episodes each and then ended with no significant loose ends.

In other words, this is one of those rare American shows that can rival the best Japanese anime series. Even my wife enjoyed watching it (well, most of the time).