As you can tell from the title, one of the five shows below got a rare five stars from me. Keen readers of my anime posts might have an inkling of which anime made it to my top fifty. Let me start from the bottom and work my way up.
This show is not on the bottom because I don’t like it, but because I haven’t finished it. One never knows whether the second half of the show will ruin a promising start.
As of episode ten, the show appears to shine in three areas: the fight scenes, the animation, and the comedy. I greatly enjoy the samurai’s cultural shock as he experiences modern life in Japan. The sword fights surprise me with their realism: both within and without the mecha. (I think that I caught a glissade during one bout.) And the animation draws one in by sharp details and beautiful backgrounds.
It is not unheard of for a mecha anime to contain realistic swordsmanship. The Vision of Escaflowne portrays Western swordsmanship with remarkable accuracy. If you look at the upper right hand corner of my background, for example, you see Van’s mech holding the blade in Hangort or hanging guard. This guard is found in Meyer’s fencing treatise and unfortunately seems to have a low reputation in the HEMA community. But, there it is!
So, I’m very enthusiastic about Kuromukuro. Y’all need to check it out.
4) Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen – ★★
As a huge fan of the original series, I was greatly disappointed in this show. Greatly indeed! I felt obliged to watch it until the end, and at least the characters were amusing. At times, the show inspired me with hope that it would become better; yet, all these hopes proved false. To top it off, the ending was utterly unsatisfying.
3) Dagashi Kashi – ★★
This show aired long enough to turn to vinegar. The first five episodes were hilarious; but the comedy turned repetitive, and their attempt to add a serious element to the humor fell on its face. There are only so many ways to drive humor off of sweets. This show might have been better off as a series of shorts rather than full length episodes. Also, the fanservice was frequently overbearing. What a shame!
2) Dimension W – ★★★ 1/2
Dimension W took the opposite tack of Dagashi Kashi by having a weak start and a grand finale. The story becomes progressively better until the final arc leaves nothing for me to complain about. If not for Mira being so darn cute, I might not have made it past the first three episodes.
This anime strongly reminds me of Solty Rei with its bubbly cyborg girl and hard-boiled bounty hunter. The main characters and the action are the anime’s strongest suits until the pathos of the final arc hits us. It’s well worth sticking through the first episodes.
1) Princess Tutu – ★★★★★
It feels so good to scribble in those five stars! After watching the show, I asked myself whether there were any reason not to give it five stars. The only thing I could come up with was the effeminate Prince Mytho:
No! No! No! His garb for the final battle especially irks me: if a prince is going to fight against a dark lord, he needs to properly dress for the occasion:
Or like this:
But, I did not let his non-martial garb or appearance induce me to deduct any points. I suppose a prince who can turn pirouettes in mail or harness would be too manly even for anime–especially an anime having to do with ballet.
At any rate, Princess Tutu offers a very unique story drawing from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. The characters are all unique and likable. Plenty of obstacles befall not only the heroine, Duck, but the three other major characters in the story: Rue, Mythos, and Fakir. The fact that we have a front row seat to all of the villains’ machinations, both Drosselmeyer the “demented, sadistic fossil who toys with people’s hearts for a lark” and the Raven, makes us only more engrossed in the heroes’ struggles.
It also has some interesting parallels to the Christ story. *Spoilers until the end of paragraph* The prince’s bride is “nigra sed pulchra–black but beautiful” (Song of Songs 1:5). She is tainted by the Raven’s blood, but the prince loves her anyway. This reminds one of Christ taking the Church as His bride even though we are tainted by Original Sin. Also, the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love are exalted above the cardinal virtues. Yet, it is difficult to tell whether these ideas were drawn from Hans Christian Andersen’s works or on the writer’s heart.
Princess Tutu counts as an anime every otaku needs to watch. How rare it is for an anime to successfully combine a journey story, a warrior story, and a dying and rising hero story into one!