Hey, I never thought we’d get here!
This is the official Inaugural J-Vision article.
Last time was a Season Preview, so this is the first to use the official column format.
In case you’re feeling stupid, and you didn’t read the Fall Season Preview, here’s what this column is about.
I, the one and only Vampt Vo, will watch lots of anime on Japanese TV, and report back to you the reader, on the quality of the shows I watch, by writing brief plot summaries and reviews.
- Mimasho!: Japanese for “Let’s watch,” this section contains the good shows.
- Mimasen!: Japanese for “Do not watch,” this section has the mind-numbingly bad ones.
- What Else?: A list of other stuff to watch.
Now that we’re done with our rudimentary Japanese language lesson, let’s get started (or “ikimasho”)!
This week we’ve got Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Mokke, and Prism Ark.
Mobile Suit Gundam 00
Premiere: October 6, 2007
Genres: Mecha, Action, Sci-Fi, Military, Political, Drama
The Gundam series has been alive and kicking for going on 30 years now, so it’s no surprise that BANDAI and Sunrise would be producing yet another epic installment of the classic mecha anime.
Luckily, Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (Double-Oh) seems to be taking a very refined approach to the series.
Fans of Seed will enjoy the similar character designs, while Wing fans will love the plot similarities and political undertones.
Of course, the new mecha designs are also very cool-looking, with some mobile suits taking fairly large departures from the Gundam norm.
The plot goes like this:
Humanity has created a giant ring around the Earth, installed with massive solar panels and generators in order to use solar power as the predominant power source of the Earth.
Connecting this ring (similar to the “Halo,” as a matter of fact) to the Earth are three “Orbital Elevators” that transport people, supplies, and–most importantly–solar energy to and from the ring.
These three Elevators are placed evenly across the globe in South America, Africa, and Asia.
The importance of the elevators has caused the world to split into three major powers: The Union, the AEU, and the Human Reform League.
These three powers stand on the brink of war, and are currently engaged in a massive arm’s race.
Appearing seemingly out of nowhere, a terrorist group called Celestial Being attacks, claiming a goal of ridding the world of wars by attacking anyone who starts one.
(Luckily the irony of this theory is pointed out multiple times in the first few episodes, showing a marked self-awareness in this Gundam plot)
Celestial Being’s secret weapon is the Gundams, mobile suits powered by an unknown particle system and piloted by young “Gundam Meisters.”
(It’s okay, they’re not 14 years old this time)
We’ve seen pacifism-based plots like this before in Gundam, but this is one of the first in the series to not include Space Colonies, as well as focus on important political issues like alternate energy and terrorism.
This is clearly a very fresh Gundam, and both its plot and characters have a mature appeal to them that gives 00 a potential to outperform previous Gundams.
Of course, this is a mecha action show, so we cannot forget one of the most important features: animation.
In only the first four episodes, there have been 4 or 5 battles, and the animation for these have been incredibly smooth and beautiful.
The main Gundam (Exia) is such a beautiful sight to see, cutting up enemies with its elbow-mounted blade, that just those scenes alone are a reason to watch 00.
For anybody interested in mecha, military, or political anime, this is the show to watch this fall.
From the battle scenes to the killer mobile suit designs to the political themes, Gundam 00 is sure to please action fans this fall.
Final Grade: Unlike most Gundams, this one should be greatly enjoyable whether you’re into all-out action, political intrigue, or a little of both.
Premiere: October 7, 2007
It’s hard for me to write a review of Mokke.
The series is so charming and effortlessly whimsical that a review does not do it justice.
But like little Mizuki, who is constantly oppressed with various ghosts and spirits, I perservere.
Mokke’s slice-of-life story is quite simple.
Shizuru and Mizuki live out in the Japanese countryside with their Grandma and Grandpa.
Their parents sent the sisters to live there primarily because of their Grandpa’s expertise when it comes to spirits and exorcism.
You see, Shizuru, a concientious teenager, can see ghosts, and her younger sister Mizuki, an energetic little girl, is often haunted and possessed by them.
With the help of their Grandpa (and sometimes their cat Mike-san), the two work their way through various spirit-related problems.
What, were you expecting them to fight the ghosts?
Mokke is a great example of what anime can do when it gets down to its simple, Japanese roots.
The stories of Shizuru and Mizuki (4 in all at the time of this writing) are simple, meaningful, and heartwarming.
Much like the highly-acclaimed Mushi-shi, this series is calmly paced, and provides a peaceful portrayal of Japanese mysticism and spirituality.
Sadly, where Mokke lets me down is exactly the place where it should do best.
Unlike Mushi-shi, Mokke lacks beautiful animation, character designs, and backdrops.
The characters look forced and unrealistic and the animation is far from great.
To its credit, Mokke often shows pretty (though not top-shelf) backgrounds and other nature-related art.
In this regard, fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s work, especially in Princess Mononoke, will find much to love here.
All in all, Mokke is something for anyone who likes slower-paced stories.
The characters are charming, and the plot can get really philosophical and heartwarming, especially at the resolution of each episode.
Final Grade: A truly charming mix of drama, comedy, and spirituality creates a great example of calm, thought-provoking slice-of-life anime.
Premiere: October ??, 2007
Genres: Fantasy, Action, Romance, Drama, Comedy, Moe, Ecchi
Stream it on: CrunchyRoll
Torrent it from: Hydrargyrum Subs
Take everything you loved about Slayers, then add everything you hate about moe.
Now take out everything that could make that a watchable experience, and you have Prism Ark.
Based on the H-game of the same name, this anime is a nearly unwatchable show that attempts to make up for its general shortcomings with some slightly-above-mediocre technical touches.
The plot of the first episode is about as shallow and generic as you can get.
Young warriors Hyaweh and Priecia are travelling through a desert with their allies (all women), and are trying to reach the land of their enemies to fight some war or something.
(None of this is explicitly specified)
As the two are about to go through their horribly cliched teen love scene, they are rudely interrupted by the ironically-named Sister Hell.
As if that scene wasn’t bad enough, they go into a huge battle with the scantily-clad, crucifix-sword-wielding nun, and eventually get aid from their pink moe catgirl, moe priestess, and moe samurai teacher.
All the while, any possibility of enjoyment is cut into little pieces by stupid and confusing flashbacks about how Priecia’s mother (confusingly named Prinsea) met Priecia’s father.
Meanwhile, we watch the army of moes do generic seen-a-million-times-before fantasy battle with a giant mecha thing summoned by Sister Hell.
Let’s get the good stuff out of the way.
If you enjoy good fantasy animation and action-packed battles, you might like Prism Ark’s action scenes.
Don’t be expecting a Claymore here, though, since the moe characters and overstylized look of Prism Ark will definitely turn away fans of “real” fantasy-action.
While the animation is usually pretty good, the character designs sure aren’t.
Costume design is way overboard, with characters looking like they wre ripped from the pages of a gothic-lolita catalog.
Not to mention, the characters all have an annoying moe look that immediately kills any serious scene
When it comes to writing, there is so much to criticize.
Not only is the plot fractured, confusing, and badly-paced, but the names (both of characters and “special attacks”) are comicly bad.
Apparently they were being sophisticated with the choice of Hyaweh, a simple anagram of the Jewish god Yahweh (with only one changed letter).
And the names Priecia and Prinsea are definitely some of the most brilliantly inventive names for princesses I’ve ever heard.
Who can forget Sister Hell, whose name and character design are great reasons why half on the anime is existence needs to be thrown into the fires of Mount Doom?
As for the attacks, we have some very nice lessons in cliche, including “Glow Lance,” “Frost Buster,” “Ice Javelin,” and my personal favorite, “Critical Break.”
Each of these are, of course, screamed out by their users before their attacks.
Final Grade: Unless you’re a fan of the original H-game, or you can stand masochistically bad levels of cheese in between your mediocre fighting scenes, steer clear of Prism Ark this fall.
What Else Is On?
- Genshiken 2
- Ghost Hound
- Hero Tales
- Shakugan no Shana Second