First Impressions of Rosario+Vampire and the other pink-haired sci-fi beauty.

Quick Synopsis: Aono Tsukune, who didn’t get into high school because of his low test grades, was fortunately able to enroll at Yokai Academy, allowing him to become a high school student afterall. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a mistake because it is actually a high school for monsters and demons that requires its students to disguise themselves as humans so that they can learn to fit into human society. And while he worries about keeping his human identity a secret and whether he can survive in a school of monsters, he is able to become friends with Akashiya Moka, a vampire who is initially attracted to Tsukune because of the taste of his blood, but later also because he protected her despite him being human and her being a vampire. As their relationship grows throughout the story, Tsukune and Moka also continue to make other friends and enemies at Yokai Academy in typical harem, love-comedy fashion.

Notable Seiyu:
Aono Tsukune = Kishio Daisuke (Vampire Knight – Kuran Kaname, AYAKASHI – Kusaka Yuu)
Akashiya Moka = Mizuki Nana (Naruto – Hyuga Hinata, Allison & Lillia – Allison Whittington; Lillia Whittington-Schultz, Tsuyokiss – Konoe Sunao, Basilisk – Oboro)

When I started watching this show, I was already thinking that watching two harem, love comedies was not gonna be one of my priorities, especially with a huge list of other shows to go through. So despite the respective high popularities of Rosario+Vampire and To Love-ru, one of them was prolly getting dropped. And although I tried to be as objective as possible and even took both shows to episode 5, I had to pick To Love-ru over Rosario+Vampire. Here’s some comparisons between the two shows:
Pink-haired girls: A large majority of choosing To Love-ru over Rosario+Vampire was from the simple fact that I liked Lala a lot more than Moka. Admittedly, Moka is pretty cute when trying to resist sucking blood from Tsukune, but she just doesn’t have the same charisma that Lala has whenever she brings out her malfunctioning inventions. A lot of this is just preference whether you want a more playful Lala or a more caring, kind-hearted Moka, but liking the show’s main driving character is huge. I mean, come on, guys aren’t watching these shows because they admire Rito or Tsukune.
Scrawny but wholesome protagonists: While we’re on the subject of Rito and Tsukune, I also thought that Rito was a stronger male character. Tsukune, even though he’s dependable enough to protect the girls in a pinch, admits to his own weakness. Not to say that Rito isn’t as physically weak, but depending on Moka to bail him out of every fight kinda wears on the viewer. Maybe its just the way the shows set up the problems where Rosario always requires someone to take down the troublemakers while To love-ru can leave their comical situations to resolve on their own. But I’m liking how Rito at least knows who he likes (though it’ll prolly change by the end of the series) while Tsukune hasn’t showed any major romantic aspirations with anyone yet, even with is more rapidly expanding harem.
The episode formula: For me, the biggest problem with Rosario + Vampire has been its repetitive episode formula, which is also the typical outline for harem building. Every episode has pretty much been 1) Introduce a new female character (if there is to be a new character introduced in the episode), 2) create a problem either associated with that new character or just one in general for the group, 3) develop Tsukune and Moka relationship either positively or negatively that will lead to positively, 4) resolve new character’s problem, usually through a confrontation ending with Moka’s transformation, 5) end the episode with harem members clinging around Tsukune. You could probably think of a similar formula for To love-ru, but I’ve found the situations created be at least be much more comical.
Ecchi factor: To love-ru does not give up on its ecchiness even after the first few episodes. Lala still ends up naked a lot and even Haruna and the newly introduced Tenjoin Saki get into questionable positions, often because of Lala. For Rosario+Vampire, the creator seems to prefer the relatively tame panty shot (and the Kurumu boob attack) over To love-ru’s full exposure. Its also amusing how the mouse-bat flys around as a censor sometimes. Basically a matter of preference, but I thought Rosario is more tasteful in this aspect despite the more hilarious situations the ecchi leads to in To love-ru. The creator of To love-ru also seems to have a thing for tentacles…
Transformation sequence: Which is more ridiculous, Lala’s clothes that make her gasp or Moka’s bats that increase her butt and breast size? Hey, what did you expect when you started watching a harem, love-comedy?

OP/ED: The OP theme for To love-ru was pretty catchy for me. I found myself humming it in the elevator and caught myself wondering where I had heard it. The OP theme for Rosario was ok, but personally nothing special. I’ll probably like the ED theme for To love-ru more than for Rosario if I listened to them more frequently. Needless to say, the quality of the OP and ED animation is a lot higher in To love-ru.

Story sequencing: This is a minor thing that probably other shows have taken liberties with, but (Wiki tells me) the episode order for the anime doesn’t match up with the story order in the manga. For example, Episode 3 is actually Chapter 5 while Episode 5 is Chapter 3. This seems weird and you’d think it’d affect the animation for subsequent episodes (like having to include the girl introduced in Ep3/Ch5 into Ep5/Ch3) but in fact, Episode 4 is already an anime exclusive (hurray to some maybe, but that translates to “filler” for me) so the anime is just based off of the manga (Switching Ep3 and Ep5 may not seem like a big deal, but consider it when Ep8 is Ch12, Ep 10 is Ch15-17, and then Ep11 is Ch8). Just seems like a bizarre decision to me and makes me want to simply read the manga instead.

Bottomline impressions:
Rosario to Vampire: C, dropping the anime, but may consider switch to manga-form.

Reminds me of: Monster Princess/Princess Resurrection, but less horror/action and more emphasis on harem love and comedy. Moka is also more Lala-like than Hime-like.


So as many Geass lovers and haters know, Code Geass ended this weekend with episode 25 of the second season. Since I didn’t write a first impressions page, I won’t write up a formal reflections page either, and I’ve already expressed some of my love for the series in this Top 10 Anime post. Here’s an exact quote: “if Code Geass can end well in the next few episodes, it easily deserves its spot in the top 3 of my list after I enjoyed watching it so much.” Let’s go into some thoughts on how the series ended, but with plenty of spoilers ahead, readers might want to finish the series first before browsing this blog. But to sum it up, for me whose hands were still shaking even afterwards out of adrenaline from the awesomeness of the series, it was damn good.

The beginning of the episode after the OP plays beautifully, jumping around from character to character like a well designed PV, but continually building on the philosophical dialogue among characters over why they fight and what was justice during war – who was right, how wrong is it to fight for your dreams – and other rhetoric in that vein that really binds together the series well. These vignette-like scenes gives the rhetoric a warmer feeling of humanity rather than transidentally cramming philosophy down your throats and preaching through extremely confusings scenes of abstract, surreal thought (yes Evangelion, I’m referring to you). Ironically, this comparison comes to mind only because of criticisms I read elsewhere dubbing the show “geassgelion” negatively because of how confusing the episodes during the world of C was, but I’m also aware of the popular OP parodies of Evangelion’s opening with Code Geass (people who loved Eva probaby use that term in a positive sense, but I hated how Eva ended, so I’m with the former on the negative sense of the phrase, not that it should apply). I didn’t think the episodes – 16, 20, 21 – were that hard to understand other than the origin of the world of C and how they were able to start manipulating it. And if it was for you, I’m sure another watch through slowly (or finding an explanation) would probably clear things up for you.

Zero Requiem – Its a pretty flashy name and we all probably wanted to know what it entails, so when he kept throwing the phrase around with Suzaku, you know there was definitely some bigger plan other than takeover the world (Light would def. have settled with world domination). Well, I was not disappointed at all finding out about it in this episode. And even though I warned about spoilers, I won’t mention anymore about Zero Requiem other than the fact that it was so poetically well-done. Heroes are heroes, punishments are for past sins, and the future is left for the right people. Perfect.

Wishes and Geass. I can see why the writers did it, but I think it puts too nice of a bow and too sweetly presents what geass really is. Its what people thought it was throughout the whole series – a sin and a burden, but it does go nicely with the idea of a new world that he creates. I have mixed feelings about it, only on whether the emphasis should be on Lelouch’s repenting for his heavy sins or on his goal of a peaceful world (adds a sense of justification for his sins).

But was he suffering? R2… So watching the last scene, I thought the fanboy in me was just screaming that maybe Lelouch actually is alive (was C.C. addressing the spirit of Lelouch or Lelouch the wagon driver?) I disregarded it until my bro brought it up and then I read a few blogs and people were feeling the same thing. Nice job Sunrise. Stating it flat out makes it too concrete – people will either like or hate that he lived or died. Leaving it simply as a possibility creates discussion and is a recipe for an epic ending that no one but the purest haters would be unhappy with.

Note the placement of the folded Crane, Nunnally’s signature item. Note the series title R2, as in R.R.? as in Lelouch (romanji = ‘Rurūshu Ranperūji’ ) if he had inherited the code and immortality from C.C.? Now instead of “C.C. becomes satisfied with her immortality after living with Lelouch and wishes to live her life fully” (which I kinda didn’t like) it becomes “Lelouch doesn’t die and doesn’t leave C.C. alone with her immortality, but rather grants her wish and the two disappear wandering the world together” (that’s poetic and brings nice closure; it refutes Lelouch repenting for his sins with his death, but makes his punishment his ‘death’ that doesn’t allow him to ever live happily with his sister or Kallen or Suzaku or all the people from the student council club that he had wanted to protect) Now, I’m not saying its one way or the other, and I’m not telling you how you should interprete it either. But for me, if Sunrise is leaving hints for this kind of interpretation, I’m gonna go ahead and take it as intended and think that’s how the series ends. Man, damn good.

First Impressions of To Love-ru and Shonen Jump’s troublesome alien princess.

Quick synopsis: To Love-ru, illustrated by Black Cat creator Yabuki Kentaro, is a harem, love-comedy about Yuuki Rito and the Deviluke princess, Lala, who teleports into Rito’s bathroom naked while he was taking a bath and lamenting over his failures in confessing to the girl of his dreams, Sairenji Haruna. Lala comes to Earth to escape her father and the arranged marriage plans he tries to make for her. Through various circumstances and misunderstandings, Rito becomes Lala’s fiance and his life becomes filled with all the troubles of living together, love triangles, and protecting Lala from various intergalactic suitors. The show’s title in hiragana (toraburu) is a play on the word ‘trouble’. Lala believes that the decision to marry should be based on love and be up to her, and so begins a story of freedom and fan service for all.

Notable Seiyu:
Sairenji Haruna = Saiyuri Yahagi (Karin/Chibi Vampire – Maaka Karin)
Lala Satalin Deviluke = Tomatsu Haruka (Kyoran Kazoku Nikki – Midarezaki Chika)

The main word that I could think of to describe this series is ‘ridiculous’. Ridiculous (and ridiculously ecchi) introduction of Lala. Ridiculous love comedy circumstances. Ridiculous (and ridiculously ecchi) clothes transformation sequence. Ridiculously ecchi OP animation. Ridiculous inventions created by Lala. Ridiculous alien outfits. Ridiculous jiggliness of Lala’s cleavage. A lot of these may or may sound very appealing to you, but for me, the one definite plus is how ridiculously cute and likeable Lala’s character is. She’s childishly playful and very cheerful, and I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the things she does. But seriously, the amount of fan service is to the point where watching too many of these kinds of shows (Kanokon quickly comes to mind) would turn you into a ‘no good, useless person’.

The show has followed a pretty standard sci-fi love comedy formula in the first few episodes, and the love triangle between Rito-Haruna-Lala will probably be the major underlying equation for the show even when they fully establish the harem (the OP shows the other female characters to be introduced as the show continues) and potentially other less minor suitor characters for Lala. Rito initially reminded me of Tsuna from Katekyo Hitman Reborn due to their similar look and build and timidness around girls, but Rito quickly shows he is a bit more decisive and dependable (I liked Tsuna a lot more after he started using the X-gloves). You can also kind of see the similarities in hair style between Rito and Train from Black Cat. I think Rito and Lala can definitely be interesting characters and develop into a nice couple, but I worry about the freshness of the show and whether it’ll still hold my attention after a couple more episodes. The problem with some harem love-comedies is that it falls into repetitiveness, either in itself or in the same pattern as other shows in the genre, but I don’t mind giving Lala a couple more episodes to totally impress me without resorting to getting naked. :p

Bottomline impressions:
To Love-ru: B-, continuing happily but reserving the right to drop.

Reminds me of: Beating Angel Dokoro-chan, but with nicer curves and the constant beatings to death replaced with constant naked-inducing ecchi situations.

The complement to the first impressions series, the Mirrors series of blogs will offer reflections on completed shows.  Ironically we’ll start with vampires who have no reflections. As these posts are reactions after finishing a series, there will undoubtedly be some spoilers, so keep that in mind and maybe finish the show before reading.

I was able to finish the series in two days between classes and studying time, so maybe that speaks for how enjoyable the show is to watch or how I watch too much anime. In either case, to comment on some of my first impressions, I was surprised in actually how minimal the conflict between choosing Zero or Kaname actually was for Yuuki. Yea, there are times when the series goes into how undecided and confused she is (even Zero brings it up with Yuuki) but there’s no gut-wrenching moments of indecision or big confessions that end up straining the relationship between one of the characters in the love triangle that you might see in other romance animes. I’m happy about that. Good job for not taking 3 episodes to decide to help Zero and then wavering and crying about it after the decision. In fact, there isn’t much resistance on Kaname’s part and the more central focus of the series was between Yuuki and Zero (looks like the writers didn’t add flashy chains and an uber-cool name to their protagonist just for show).

I could go into how well they’ve set up Zero’s suffering/new found resolve to live on/resolution of his past/etc, but I won’t. People how like Zero probably already know and can express it better while people who like Kaname more are probably more interested in how much he gives for Yuuki and stuff like that. I’ll just say 1) for me, the set up was about on the level of Sasuke’s whole bit in Naruto and I didn’t think it was particularly anything special, just well executed and 2) yea, Kaname probably does do a lot of things for Yuuki’s sake, but I feel like he’s actually very twisted – as in, he’s plotting something and what he does serves his own motives too. I was reading some comments after ep13 where people are making him out to be a saint, but I don’t buy it at all. I’m thinking he gave Zero some of his blood more because Zero is still useful for him in his grand scheme of things and less for Yuuki, even though that’s what he says. I don’t know – I don’t plan on reading the manga, so we’ll be finding out with the seond season in October. Speaking of that scene, I will say thankfully that it was the first even remotely yaoi moment in a series that I thought would be using it more with all the bishies running around (kinda like a reverse fan service for girls).

There was some action, but the degree of action has been disappointing, so I guess its just not that kind of show, whether they want to run that part in the OP   where the different night students are throwing around their powers or not. The OP (“Futatsu no Kodou to Akai Tsumi” – On/Off) is pretty awesome songwise, and the clip of the ED (“Still Doll” – Kanon Wakeshima), though short, is hauntingly beautiful. So all in all, I was pretty happy with the show and will look forward to the second season.

The first show in the First Impressions series of blogs is Vampire Knight.

Quick Synopsis: At a boarding school, there are two classes of students – the day class, which is normal humans, and the night class, which are vampires. To keep the secret that the smart and handsome bishies (there are a few females too) of the night class are actually vampires, Kurosu Yuki and Kiryu Zero, another bishie with a Sasuke-like emo personality stemming from a tragic past, work as prefects to keep all day class screaming girls from mauling their vampire/bishie idols. Of course, Yuki also has feelings for the dormhead of the vampire bishies and other main male protagonist, Kuran Kaname, who saved her from a vampire attack when she was young. There are a lot of contrasting views on the vampires – the head of the school, Yuki and Zero’s adoptive father, wants humans and vampires to learn to coexist, which fits well with Yuki, who sees that there are good vampires like Kaname, but not so much with Zero, who hates them because of his tragic past and thinks of them as monsters hiding in human form.

Notable seiyu:
Kusosu Yuki = Horie Yui – Fruits Basket (Tohru Honda), School Rumble (Tsukamoto Tenma), Love Hina (Narusegawa Naru)
Kiryu Zero = Miyano Mamoru – Deathnote (Yagami Light), Wolf’s Rain (Kiba), Soul Eater (Death the Kid)

So I’m typically not very enthusiastic about starting a bishonen series (wasn’t a big fan of Fruits Basket or Hana yori Dango, but I did like Ouran Host Club and X), but thought I was obligated to take a look at Vampire Knight, which many people (I’m thinking a female majority) seem to really like. It starts off as expected with one girl and two lead guys as the most likely love interest candidates and what they give initially of Yuki and Zero’s backstories is pretty standard, but I can def. see why Zero would make some fangirls squeal, and he only gets cooler after showing off that sleek handgun (the unnecessary chain connected to it is clearly for stylistic effect :p). But even when he starts getting whiny/emo like Sasuke after ep2, I still prefer him over the more conventional “mysterious hero who saved me when I was little and I got lost in his bishie eyes” that Kaname brings to the table. And with the end of ep3, how can any fangirl not love the “deep internal struggle that he was tragically and unavoidably destined to face” that goes along with clearly as cool a name as Zero. Just shows how  well designed a bishie anime Vampire Knight really is.

In re-reading above, I thinking I’m a little too hard on this show for its bishie stereotypes, and I should say that I’ve honestly enjoyed the show so far. It hasn’t been hard to watch at all (there have been no boring or stupid points that make me want to fastforward or bash my head in) and Yuki seems like a strong interesting main character, which is huge because one-dimensional or weak main characters like Honda from Fruits Basket and Yuji from Shakugan no Shana have easily made some series disappointing to me. And some of the powers the different vampires use hints at the potential for good action later on in the series.

Bottomline impressions:
Vampire Knight – B, continuing with some anticipation.

Reminds me of: Ayashi no Ceres, but with modern animation and a more interesting/broader appealing fantasy element

Put up the new banner, same as the old banner but with cropped chibi characters. I’m pleased with it since I don’t have photoshop or much experience putting things like that together.

I should put out the disclaimer that I do not own any of the images used in this blog.
All characters and series are properties of their respective creators and licenses.
Whenever possible, please support the US anime and manga distributors for all licensed series.

As for thoughts on the format of this blog, I’m aiming for a Top 10 of 2008 post sometime in December. To do that, I’ll be watching as many 2008 shows from now until then that I can. As such, I’ll look to have posts on first impressions of any new shows that I start, probably after the first 3 episodes or so. I also will be doing a couple by-genre Top 5 Anime or Three Tiers of 2x2x2 to establish some sort of baseline for a reviews. There will also eventually be a Currently Watching/Finished/Dropped page to keep track of my own status for each series. I’ll be putting more thought into it and expanding as I go. Thanks.

It seems like writing yearly rankings (Top 10 of 2008) and series reviews is a big part of a lot of anime blogs, so expect those to start coming out as I continue working on the site. But if you the reader and I have extremely different tastes, then how much would my reviews really help you? So I thought it’d be good to write up an initial series of my own personal overall and then by-genre rankings for people to gauge how much our views have in common.

Here are my Top 10 Favorite Anime series:

10. Naruto / Bleach / Flame of Recca.
Let me start by prefacing that the Recca anime ended awfully – they skipped/changed a bunch of things during the last round of the tournament (so many tournaments in fighting anime) and then ended the series there, which was like only the halfway point of the manga. But hey, Naruto and Bleach anime aren’t perfect either – I still can’t forgive the Naruto series for that year or so of awful fillers, while Bleach fillers were at least relatively watchable. Anyway, I finished the Recca series as manga and currently only read the manga forms of Naruto and Bleach, and of the three, I couldn’t decide which deserved to be by itself in the 10 spot. I thought the Sasuke Retrieval arc of Naruto was alot better than the Soul Society arc of Bleach until Aizen dropped the hugest plot twist of the series, and even though the Hueco Mundo arc in Bleach as been good, Shippuuden has definitely had its moments, albeit in between some really slow and useless chapters (Tobi’s convo with Sasuke about Itachi was interesting until they drew it out for like a month and a half). And Recca is just a really solid fighting series with what turns into a very awesome overall plot to tie everything together.

9. Gungrave
Gungrave is kinda like two series put into one. The first half is a huge flashback about how Brandon Heat and his friend rise up through the yakuza/crime syndicate that they join, and then the second half is about how he’s resurrected as Beyond the Grave (not a really a spoiler, you’ll understand after the first episode) to get revenge on the people that betrayed and killed him. The second half was action packed, but not nearly as good as the first half, and I really feel there should be more like this in the yakuza/mafia genre. Think something like all the backstory behind Spike Speigel from Cowboy Bebop, and you’ll get an idea of what the first half of Gungrave is like. (Speaking of which, Cowboy Bebop prolly deserved a place on this Top 10, but I first watched the series in English dub, which I generally don’t care for)

8. Getbackers

One of the few instances where I started by reading the series at a Barnes & Noble one day and continued to buy and read the US distributed volumes. I really believe that the success of a action/fighting series is based on how interesting its characters are and how novel their fighting techniques are, then on how good the story is. Even though Ginji is basically a lightning element user, some of the ways he uses it during the series is more unique than simply blasting the opponent with electricity or charging limbs for melee fighting. And while Ban’s Evil Eye is basically genjitsu, the ways he tricks his opponents is interesting, and the one minute and three times daily limitations keep it from being too cheap of a hallucination technique. The series has finished publication in Japan, but I’m currently only up to Tokyopop’s most recent release of volume 25 (of 39). Its also important to note that the series is illustrated by Rando Ayamine, so it wasn’t surprising why I really liked the animation style because…

7. The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi
Probably one of the most notable titles of 2006, I’m happy to have watched it while it was still coming out before it reached the near epidemic popularity its enjoyed more recently. The show is hilarious with even its eccentricities in good taste, and Haruhi is definitely one of my favorite characters all-time (and I’m typically not a big fan of tsundere characters). “Hare Hare Yukai” is one of the most iconic anime ED themes in recent pop culture, and “God knows…” is one of the best insert songs I can think of. I’ll be a little honest though – I only liked “Hare Hare Yukai” the first 100 times I’ve seen it. That said, I’m trying to temper expectations while I wait as anxiously as anyone else for the second season. BTW, Aya Hirano, the seiyu for Haruhi and the main vocalist for a lot of the show’s songs, followed up this breakout role with roles as Misa Amane in Deathnote and as Konata Izumi in Lucky Star.

6. Ichigo 100%
My friend introduced me to this manga and I was really surprised at how quickly I went through it. For romance series, especially ecchi harem types, I typically wade through it, enjoy it if its funny, then forget about it when its done, but somehow for Ichigo 100%, which seriously only has a small harem of three contenders, I really took the story and characters to heart. Even before I finished it, my friend and I were already arguing over who the main character should/would end up with (I was in favor of Nishino, but later kicked myself when I found out Noto Mamiko, my favorite seiyu, did the voice for Toujou in the anime). I should also note that the anime and OAVs don’t come close to finishing the story like the manga does, and the series is a Shonen Jump comic, if anyone cares in terms of series popularity or intended target audience. Ichigo 100% also features one of the most ridiculous confession scenes in all the anime/manga I’ve ever seen near the beginning of the series. I’d be impressed if it ever worked in real life.

5. Detective Conan

Into the top 5, this series has been around for forever (Wiki says 1994), and even though I heard rumors that it was getting ready to end about a year ago, it just keeps on rolling. I haven’t been keeping up with the most recent releases, but I am pretty proud to have gone through 627 of the 664 chapters. Every 50 chapters or so, a major story arc with the Black Organization occurs to progress the overall plot, but the large majority of the series deals with individual cases usually lasting between 3-5 chapters. And despite some repetitiveness, especially in the same formula of intro chapter -> investigation chapters -> deduction chapter, a lot of the murders and how Conan solves them are pretty ingenius. I think I like being impressed by how clever a lot of the things are (while others can be just really far-fetched) and thats what keeps me reading even after the hundreds of chapters. The rotation of recurring side-characters also gives the series a sense of continuity, even when its mired in a long span of episodic cases without much overall plot movement. And as Conan says, “There is only one truth”, and that truth is that if I didn’t really like this series, I wouldn’t have devoted some much effort into reading it all these years. It is pretty ridiculous though how they manage to run into so many murder cases (even when theyre on vacation). And also that people like Ran still haven’t figured out that Conan is Shinichi.

4. Slam Dunk
Another old school series (started 1990! and ended 1996) that I ended up watching during college after seeing it on TV during a vacation in Hong Kong a while ago. The anime ends before the Nationals tournament though, replacing it with a not very good “all star” pickup game with players from other schools that they beat in the series. I reread the manga version with the continuation to the series end, and it did not disappoint. Sakuragi is one of my favorite all time characters with the same goofy but zealous “otoko spirit” (I just made up that phrase, otoko means ‘man’ or ‘manly’) as some of my other favorite characters (maybe you can guess the some of the next few series with that). As hilarious as the series is, I found it to be also very motivational. Sakuragi initially joins the basketball team to impress a girl and practices to beat his rival, but he later realizes that he’s come to love basketball, and his determination makes his triumphs motivational and his failures heartbreaking. I remember watching this series freshmen year, and because the matches last around 6-8 episodes, I ended up being late to or missing a lot of classes that week (you shouldn’t skip class) because I just couldn’t leave until I saw how they ended. I was really satisfied with the series ending too, and that’s really important to me (Recca and Ichigo 100% both also had really great endings).

3. Code Geass
Let me just say that I know there are people out there who don’t really like this show and think its overrated. If there were an equivalent for ‘narutard’ or ‘harutard’ for geass fans, they’d probably be flaming people with it. But I also know that a lot of people really like this show, and I’m of the mind that this is one of the best shows I’ve seen in my anime experience. Yea, people say “its gundam seed 2” and there were a lot of similarities, but I’ve been impressed with a lot of the other mechs in the show after lancelot (the guren in season 2 is awesome). And yea, other people make comparisons to Deathnote, but I personally hated Light after a while (I feel like there’s a point when he becomes less “I’m going to outsmart and trap you” and more “I’ve become so twisted with power that I don’t really care what other important things I lose.”) Lelouch remains a tragic hero for me even after the last few episodes, and that makes a huge difference in my opinion. The show also manages a fine mix of comedy, fan service, and drama that separates it from shows with similar genres like Gundam and Deathnote. Heck, go ahead and even call it a harem, as there used to be no clearcut frontrunner between C.C., Kallen, and Shirley for Lelouch’s affections, assuming he doesn’t have the same kind of ending as Light. Overall, there haven’t been many series around that make me shiver with anticipation before and after every episode quite like geass does (I honestly couldnt fall asleep a couple months ago after watching a certain episode at around 2am just after the fansub had been released). And if Code Geass can end well in the next few episodes, it easily deserves its spot in the top 3 of my list after I enjoyed watching it so much.

2. School Rumble

I’ve based the #2 ranking going to School Rumble because its one of the few shows that I regularly rewatch/reread and find its just as entertaining the sixth time through as it was the first time. Its also great when you can just randomly pick an episode to watch, think ‘oh, its this episode, sweet’, then laugh and smile during the next twenty minutes. Aside from the trainwreck that was the last 2-3 chapters of the manga (and I know Kobayahi prolly just wrapped it up as fast as possible so he could switch to publication to something non-weekly with School Rumble Z) I’ve generally loved this series. Harima Kenji and some of the misunderstandings he gets into is just hilarious, and the series easily transitions between scenes of simple slapstick/comedy to more dramatic/meaningful scenes without losing the overall lightness that defines the series. I wish I understood Japanese better to fully comprehend some of the puns the series uses. A lot of criticisms with the first season was that there was no plot development, but I disagree – you can definitely see the relationships between Harima and Tenma/Yakumo/Eri and between Tenma and Karasuma change throughout the series, and SR is a completely different beast than other true ‘no overall plot’ comedies like Lucky Star or Minami-ke (or Azumanga, so I’ve heard). A lot of the issue is that SR doesn’t really hit full stride until some of the relations outside of the Harima-Tenma-Karasuma connection is established a couple of episodes into the series. The second season, admittedly, isn’t quite as good as the first, but its still has plenty of great moments – it only got a little stale for me towards the late middle/end (I forget) when they throw in one or two anime-only episodes. The second of the two episode third season OAV was just released the other day, and I can’t wait to watch it, but its a shame they didn’t give san-gakki the full 26 episode treatment – I’d suggest turning to the manga after season two. I could go on and on about the various, well defined side characters and all my favorite SR moments, but I’ll just finish up with saying that Yakumo is prolly my all-time favorite female character.

1. GTO
I mentioned before that Getbackers was illustrated by Rando Ayamine. That was huge because Ayamine started by working as an assistant under Tohru Fujisawa, the creator of GTO and my favorite mangaka. In addition to GTO, I’ve seen Tokko, read Rose Hip Rose and Bad Company, and am still working on Rose Hip Zero and Shonai Junai Gumi, the prequel to GTO that Fujisawa first wrote. Onizuka is awesome, period. While Sakuragi of Slam Dunk is a ‘goofy’ hilarious and SR’s Harima is a ‘baka/misunderstandings’ hilarious, Onizuka’s is more of a ‘lewd and outrageous’ hilarious. He passionately stands for his ideals, and as the Great Teacher, uses his own unorthodox methods of fixing his troubled class of students, which is the premise behind the series and is almost always motivational/inspiring. The series does have its ecchi moments, but its not the mind-numbing fan service you get in some harem-romance anime. Again, the anime version has its problems of ending in the middle of the manga, and I personally read the manga before the anime, but in rewatching it recently, you do get a lot of laughs from watching Onizuka in action, even if the animation looks pretty old (1999 old). I’m a really big fan of Fujisawa’s drawing style, and everyone out there should do themselves a favor by checking out the first volume of Rose Hip Zero at their local bookstore. Its a recent work that really exemplifies his style of character models and action cinematography in a more modern sense. And as a side note, I wanted to point out that Atsushi Okubo, the mangaka behind Soul Eater, a 2008 anime possibly worth checking out, used to be an assistant to Rando Ayamine, making him Fujisawa’s disciple’s disciple, but Okubo’s animation style is significantly different from Ayamine and Fujisawa.