Anime Me! #4: Chrono Crusade

Anime Me!  #4: Chrono Crusade

This week, I bring to you Chrono Crusade.  Easily one of the best presented anime on my all-time list.  The shonen manga was written and illustrated by Daisuke Moriyama.  The individual chapters were published in eight tankōbon volumes by Kadokawa Shoten from December 1999 to September 2004.  The anime itself first aired on Fuji TV in Japan on November 23, 2003 and ran for 24 episodes until June 10, 2004.

Of quick note, you will sometimes find the spelling of the name to be different.  Sometimes it is “Chrono”, and others “Chrno”.  In a bit of an embarrassment, Moriyama’s publishers during the original serialization apologized for the typo.  It has since been corrected as well as the logo itself has gone through a rehaul to be less confused with other stories that use the word “Chrono” in the title.

After the first few episodes you start to feel like it’s the same story.  It starts to have a “villain of the week” type plot in every episode.  As anyone who knows me, knows I don’t look fondly on “villain of the week” stories.  But the moment you feel this, it switches up and give you a swerve.  An actual story, lol!

Chrono Crusade is set in 1920’s.  The division between rich and poor is growing day by day during WWI.  At this time, a darkness is rising influencing the choices of mankind.  A fictional organization known as the Order of Magdalene fight demonic forces across America.  The main characters of Sister Rosette and her demon partner Chrono are part of this organization.  The main story arc that is revealed breaks up the seemingly “villain of the week” episodic nature, and starts driving that arc right through the end of the series.  We see that Sister Rosette and Chrono have more of a past than we are led to believe and they are connected spiritually as well as “physically” (I really do not want to spoil any further).

Sister Rosette Christopher is an impulsive, 16-year-old, and the protagonist of the story.  She seems like any other 16 year old, considering she is a demon hunter.  Except the swerve I mentioned earlier, involving her “contract” with her partner.  Again, I will not spoiler any further.  But from the moment we learn of the contract, the series switches from a “villain of the week” type story to more of a character driven one.  While her character is altered more in the anime than in the manga.  I feel it, in no way changes her character for the purpose of the story.

The anime follows the manga story through the events of Vol. 4, but it really diverges during a crucial point in the plot and as a result, creates different arcs and endings.  Most anime that diverges from the manga story, I have always felt falls flat.  In this instance, the only aspect that I disagree with is the final confrontation between Aion and Chrono.  While I will not reveal specifics, it feels way too fast for the build up it gets throughout the series.  I won’t reveal anything further, but I will say, it’s not even the end.

Let me say this.  I have NEVER watched a more emotional scene than the final 10 minutes of the final episode.  I DARE anyone, who has sat through the entire series, to watch the final scene…and NOT cry.  ANYONE!

Anime Me! #3: Black Lagoon

Anime Me!  #3: Black Lagoon

This week, I bring to you one of my all-time favorites.  Black Lagoon.  This is one of those rare animes that I have just immersed myself into.  I have the original Japanese manga books, as well as the English translations.  I have the anime DVD’s, as well as the anime soundtrack.  So it’s not going to take a genius to figure out, I love this anime.

Black Lagoon is a manga series written and illustrated by the great Rei Hiroe, and published in Shogakukan’s Sunday GX since 2002.  The anime series based on the manga aired in Japan from April 8, 2006 to June 24, 2006.  It totaled twelve episodes.  The second season was called Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage and ran for another 12 episodes beginning on October 2, 2006.  The third season was just recently announced as Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail, and has been slated as an OVA.

The story follows a team of misfit mercenaries known as Lagoon Company, who smuggle goods around the seas of Southeast Asia.  They are located in the fictional city of Roanapur in Thailand.  Their main means of transport is an 80-foot Elco-type PT boat named Black Lagoon.

Each episode basically consists of the team taking on a variety of missions in various Southeast Asian locations.  What really draws me into the anime is that the stories take on a realistic view.  Such as if cars or other vehicles are destroyed in one episode, they remain destroyed in subsequent episodes.  Even some instances were some injuries will continue on in later episodes.

We begin the anime with the introduction of Rock, your mild-mannered Japanese businessman, and he’s been used by his bosses in a situation he wants no part of.  While you immediately feel sorry for him.  It won’t be the last time he finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He joins up with Lagoon Company and immediately gets at odds with most of them because of his moral compass.

While female anime characters are not exactly rare.  You will NEVER find one as tough, or as strong, or as talented as Revi.  She is the muscle for Lagoon Company and the protagonist for the series.  She is of Chinese descent and is very skilled with firearms.  What makes her character rare, is that she enjoys killing her enemies.  While normally calm, she tends to have some sort of internal emotional instability.  You can see this flourish with her interactions with Rock.  You can immediately tell, both of these characters need each other.  Rock needs Revi’s strong backbone, and Revi needs Rock’s moral stability.  This of course causes many fights, some very violent.  One of which almost costs Rock his life.  But it is soon realized that without each other, both characters just wouldn’t be the same.

But the anime doesn’t stop there.  Chock-full of many characters, and all of them are given a sort of depth, especially in the manga.  Some do border on cliche for anime, such as nuns & maids (both of whom are skilled in firearms).  But the characters never show any sign of just being thrown into the story.  Each has a purpose, and each are used to the fullest.  THAT is rare in any story telling in this day-and-age of old, tired, retread remakes.

Another aspect I enjoy is the humor.  A very dark humor that involves adult themes such as drugs, alcohol, guns, sex, and murder.  All usually during very violent scenes and gun battles.  One of my favorite is the Rock, Paper, Scissors game Revi plays with another character.  They are playing to see who will start killing first.  When Revi loses, she begins to whine like a child.

On the flip side, there are scenes of great depth, and thought.  The submarine scene with Rock and Revi comes to mind.  It is the first real instance where both Rock and Revi explain to each other their views.  Some scenes concern themselves with philosophical thought as well as emotions, actions, and responsibilities.

It’s a real treat to find an anime that can satisfy you with action, violence, thought, depth, and humor.  Quite literally you’d be lucky to get one of these with most.  With Black Lagoon, you get it all.

Anime Me! #2: Ranma 1/2

Anime Me! #2: Ranma 1/2

We jump right into one of my all-time favorite anime.  Pronounced “Ranma One-Half”.  Originally a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by the great Rumiko Takahashi.  In April 1989, it was adapted as a 161 episode TV series, but almost didn’t return in September 1989 after the first 18, due to low ratings.  Thankfully a month later the story was repackaged and re-released, and had it’s long run including 3 theatrical movies and 13 OVA’s.  With it’s comedic formula and unique main character, it found new life in American anime fans after it’s Japanese run in 1992.

Ranma 1/2

The story follows a 16-year old boy named Ranma Saotome who has been trained by his father his entire life in martial arts.  We learn soon enough that they have both previously suffered an accident while training.  As a result, they are cursed to shape-shift when splashed with cold water.  His father is found to transform into a giant panda, and Ranma himself transforms into a girl.  Hot water will revert them back.

We are introduced to Ranma and his father as the series opens (pictured above).  The characters unique story gets even stranger when even more secondary characters are added.  Which begins soon when Ranma finds out that his father Genma has arranged a marriage for him.  Thus we are introduced to the 3 daughters of Soun Tendo (Kasumi, Nabiki, and Akane, who becomes Ranma’s fiance)…

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Anime Me! #1: Monster

Anime Me!  #1: Monster

This week, the first Anime I am viewing is called “Monster”.  This anime is based on a seinen manga (Japanese Comic) written and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa, published by Shogakukan in “Big Comic Original” (1994 – 2001).  It was adapted as a 74 episode anime series by Madhouse.  It originally aired on Japanese NTV from April 2004 to September 2005.


Monster

First to note, this is not for children.  A seinen anime is generally targeted at an 18–30 year old male audience.  The series follows Dr. Kenzo Tenma as he pursues a young psychopath & sociopath named Johan, whose life as a little boy, Tenma once saved.  In doing so Tenma must make a severe moral choice, one that haunts him and alters his life and they way he views it.  It is a unique anime as it does not involve any locations within Japan.  In this instance most, if not all, locations are based in Germany and the Czech Republic…

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