Paranoia Agent is an anime about several people who essentially get to the point in their lives where they pretty much snap. Going into this anime, I actually didn't know what it was really about, just that there was this kid Lil' Slugger and he hit people over the head with a metal bat. That and the fact that it was supposed to be kind of trippy. Now neither of these two things are false, but when you get right down to it, the anime is really about madness, which is a theme I can totally get behind and usually love in anything I happen to be watching or reading. The same rings true for Paranoia Agent.
The anime does revolve around several different people getting backed into corners and loosing their minds, in fact that happens pretty much every episode, but it truly comes down to the main character of Tsukiko Sagi. This anime sort of revolves around a mystery and essentially a big twist at the end, so I do not want to really give anything away. However, to talk about the characters of the show, she must be brought up because she is so essential. She is a good character, a sort of shy and quite type with a lot more going on then the average person might see and I like that type of person. She creates this little dog character, which could kind of be seen as a hello kitty type phenomenon, called Maromi. As Tsukiko slips into her own little madness, Maromi starts talking to her all the time and I would be remissed if I did not bring up the fact of how much I love this little dog. It is so cute and adorable, especially its voice, and the role it ends up playing in the big picture is absolutely amazing because of just how adorable the thing is. The other two main characters are these two police officers who sort of start loosing it too, but always maintain enough to continue to try and save the day. In fact if they had maintained their sanity entirely, they never would have been able to help anyone.
That is the thing about this anime, it throws out a lot of really interesting ideas about life and people throughout the course of the series. One example being the way four or five gossiping house wives talk to each other outside of their apparent complex, feeding everyone's paranoia about Lil' Slugger. It is little things like that which consistently makes the anime consistently so interesting. On that note, I almost forgot to talk about Lil' Slugger who is simply an entity that I thoroughly enjoy. He attacks once, someone hears about it, they start to loose their mind and so he shows up again, creating a mass paranoia that snowballs completely out of control. He's less of a character and more of an idea that becomes lodged into the psyche of an entire populous, which is as awesome as it sounds.
As for the voice acting (again I watched in English) it was rather good, especially little Maromi, however one might want to check into the original Japanese on this one because the voice acting in English is fine but it could be better. Now for my theory about the animation style of Paranoia Agent. Now this is just a theory, but it would seem to me that the animators did not exactly have a whole lot of money when creating this anime. The normal style of it is perfectly fine, good even, however it looks like they did not have the budget to keep it up for the entire show. So, what is an animator to do? What they do is simply brilliant, because every time someone starts loosing their mind, they use the animation to illustrate it. So the show is going along, looking just fine, but then detail go away, things become fuzzy or disoriented, clearly cheaper to animate, but it all makes sense because this is what this crazy person is now seeing. I'm not certain that this is a true story or anything, but that is just the feeling that I get and the anime is all the more amazing for it.
The only real negative thing about this anime is that it is more than likely an acquired taste. It really is not for everyone and becomes rather cumbersome and even confusing at certain points, but that is also the point of it all. Paranoia Agent is insane and the story matched with the animation really shows this. So for me it is a solid four out of five, but be forewarned that your mileage may vary.
So I decided to take a little time away from watching traditional anime in order to finally get around to giving Avatar: The Last Airbender a shot. Everyone you talk to who has ever seen the series seems to be completely infatuated with it and now, after having watched it, I can totally see why. Ordinarily my reviews consist of sections talking about what did not work in a series for me and a section of what I love about it. Well with this particular review, we are going to be feeling the love, because I literally do not think I have a single bad thing to say about Avatar.
At this point, getting into what the show is about almost seems pointless (unless you have been living under a rock you at least know the premise). If you need a synopsis, watch the opening sequence of any random episode and there you go. There is a nation for each of the four elements who lived in peace until fire (naturally) got greedy and attacked the other three nations. The Avatar, who can control all four elements must stop them in order to save the world. It is an awesome premise which is truly what pulled me into the series to begin with. Well, that and all of the fan boys and girls telling me how I simply NEEDED to see it. The story is fantastic and really keeps the viewer constantly wanting to find out what is going to happen next. Ill leave it at that in order to avoid any real spoilers.
Anyway, lets get into what is so great about this little Nickelodeon produced show that everyone seems to love so much. The main thing about the series, its true heart and soul that really pulls everyone into it, has to be the characters. It's a rare occurrence that one finds such a great cast of completely loveable characters in any show, animated or otherwise, at all. One of the hardest things for me while watching the show was actually picking a favorite character because quite honestly, anyone of the main characters could easily become your favorite. It simply depends on who you are and what kind of people you connect with, but there is truly someone here for everyone. For those of you wondering I eventually settled on the pair of Prince Zuko and Uncle Iroh as my favorite character. Yeah, all the characters are so good that I could not pick just one, I had to pick a pair, although Sokka gave them a run for their money.
On top of having such amazing and likeable characters, the show also sports a rather excellent voice acting cast to go along with them. Everyone just feels so right in their respective roles and as a Batman fan I can not say that I did not simply LOVE Mark Hamill as the voice of Fire Lord Ozai. Another thing that makes the series and its characters is not just the heroes, but also the villains. Ozai is purely and simply evil with an insatiable thirst for power. However, on top of that we have his daughter, Princess Azula who is just the epitome of what a horrible human being can be and watching her slip slowly into complete and total insanity throughout the course of the series is simply fantastic.
On top of its awesome draw you in story, world, and characters, Avatar also has a lot of technical things going for it as well. The animation is beautiful as well as being really very unique and original. One can clearly see that it pulls inspiration from all over the place, but because of this the final product looks really like nothing anyone has have ever seen before. Nowhere is this more prevalent then in the spectacular fight sequences that are sprinkled throughout the entire series, especially the final one with Aang and the Fire Lord, not to mention Zuko's amazing final fight against Azula. It is here that the art of the show really shines and it looks absolutely spectacular. The ways in which the characters utilize there abilities is always really cool to see as well, for example waterbenders blood-bending. It just make sense that people who could control certain elements would be able to do things like this and the show definitely touches upon this, allowing the characters to use their elemental abilities in unique ways.
However, do not think that Avatar is all serious drama, action, and fighting. It does have these things and this, as well as the characters, is what propels the story forward, but on top of all this the show has one of the most hilarious, amazing, and self aware senses of humor that I have ever seen in an animated series from this side of the globe if not the entire world. Sokka always had me in stitches with his stupid jokes and one liners but on top of that the whole cast has such great comedic timing with each other. The show also is never afraid to take a risk with a joke and be different and it is because of this that it works so well as more than just a kids show. Believe me when I say that by the end, you will join the pantheon of people who start cracking up every time some random person yells out “MY CABBAGES!!!”
All and all, that's really about it. This could perhaps be the first review I have ever written where I have nothing bad to say so kudos on you Avatar for just being so completely perfect and awesome. If you have not seen this show yet then you are definitely missing out and need go out and watch it like right now. Stop reading this, turn on Netflix, because the whole show is on instant watch, and enjoy the perfection that is Avatar: The Last Airbender.
P.S. Whatever you do, stay the hell away from that GOD AWFUL live action M. Night Shyamalan piece of turd!!! It is truly the worst thing ever except for maybe the Dragon Ball live action movie so just don't even look it up!
Darker Than Black is essentially an anime where this gate, known as “Hell's Gate,” has appeared around Tokyo, sealing them off from the rest of the world. Right on the other side of the gate is this sort of hell/ground zero type of area where no one who ever tries to go in, which happens rarely, ever comes out. Upon being sealed off, certain people became Contractors. These are people who obtain what is essentially a super power which they can use as they please so long as they pay the price to do so. For some people its drinking a beer, for others its smoking or even eating cigarettes. People fight, people die, the main character, Hei, tries to stop them and so on and so forth.
As one can probably tell by how lazy I became at the end of that description, I do not share the same love of this anime that other people seem to. I can see why people love it but in the end it just was not really for me and I felt it came off as mostly very generic. Quite honestly, there is very little bad to be said about Darker Than Black, however, try to say anything exemplary about it and one finds themselves grasping at straws.
For starters, what was really good about the anime was the Contractors and the concept of the Contractors. The anime takes this very original idea of giving certain people super powers, essentially taking their emotions away in the process, and forcing them to make a payment every time they use them. That is a very cool idea which inspired excellent and endlessly entertaining fight sequences. The action in Darker Than Black is spot on and when it is there, it's quite awesome. Giving everyone such unique abilities and ways of using them made this a great fighting action anime. The main problem with it is everything else that just keeps bogging it down.
The plot to, not only the whole anime but to each and every single episode, always just feels so needlessly convoluted. Everything always seemed to complicated when it didn't really need to be. On top of that, one gets a constant feeling of being spoken at with Dark Than Black. Every other episode (and that's being generous) someone had to go on a long diatribe about this or that and what was going on and why. This wouldn't have even been so bad except for the fact that the anime never pulls away from the people going on and on about plot. A lot of what they were saying might have made a good cut away flashback kind of scenario, but the anime never capitalizes on this. Maybe it's this way in the manga, I don't know, but that was what I wanted from the anime and never got. So instead there is simply people consistently just talking exposition at me and I hate that in really anything.
Those are really the only two things with Darker Than Black that I at all feel passionate about though. Love the fighting, hate the exposition, but then everything else is just like, “meh, whatever.” The animation, though perfectly acceptable, adds absolutely nothing new that I have not seen a hundred times before. It looked like any other anime that could have come out within the past ten years and was just whatever.
The same thing can be said of the characters. Sure I liked Hei, but I've seen his archetype like a dozen times before and the same thing goes for Yin, Hueng, and even Mao. They're just fine characters, but we have all seen them before, again causing this generic feeling that one might have when watching this anime.
Darker Than Black does not at all deserve a bad score and it shall not receive one. I don't know, maybe people who have not watched a hell of a lot of anime will like it better than those who have. As previously stated, I can see why people like this anime, it just really did not do it for me and I think there may be a good few people who will feel the same way. You know what you like and you know how much anime you have seen so with recommending it, I would just say tread softly. You may like it, you may not.