over 100 episodes

Anime titles reviewed here that has 100 or more episodes, in a single season or spanning multiple seasons (watched consecutively and reviewed in one single entry).

The main protagonist...
The main protagonist…

For this blog entry, I am going to review a sport anime title that aired in the last decade, titled Eyeshield 21. It has some notable distinctions; one being the first title that has more than 100 episodes being reviewed here in years, another is that this anime aired in the same year as with the best ever anime title I have reviewed in this blog, Capeta. The latter is the main reason why I always apply the sport genre handicap to all sport anime titles I reviewed after it, including this anime too.

...and this is his job.
…and this is his job.

The anime starts with the main protagonist just enrolling at Deimon High School. Unfortunately for him, the lite version of One Out’s male protagonist forces him to join the school's  American football club. To ensure that the main protagonist’s running power isn’t associated to him, he becomes the anonymous main title protagonist of this anime instead, while the real him acts up as the club’s secretary. As the size of the club grows, he, the One Out’s main protagonist and the others set their aim at the Christmas Bowl event, which is Japan’s high school version of the NFL’S Super Bowl.

My biggest pet-peeve about this anime is definitely the fact that the series has not ended, despite having 145 episodes, the second longest anime title reviewed here after Urusei Yatsura. I would not have complained about this if this anime does not have enough episodes, but this is not the case here, which I would explain more below.

By the time the final episode finished playing, the series is at the semifinal stage of the Kantou playoff tournament. Spoiler: for the record, the Deimon Devil Bats won that particular match and in theory, should go on to the finals of the said playoff tournament. But the final and the Christmas Bowl are not shown, and heads will roll because of this.

Pacing-wise, this anime is quite OK up until the end of the regional third–place playoff game that ends somewhere between episode 80 and 90. Quite a little bit slow between games, but generally spot-on in in-field episodes. But the ~25-episode gap between that third placing game and the first round of the Kantou Tournament is fatal to this anime. The gaps between previous games has never been this long before this part of the series, and it is almost big enough to fill in a normal 2-cour anime series today.

There are another two issues this anime is having; both of them are related to the 25-episode gap issue above. The first one is the gap between the first round of the Kantou Tournament and the semi final game. The gap is quite large too if compared to the ones that precedes the gap before the former. The second one is the pacing of the final game of this anime (the semi final of Kantou Tournament), which is the slowest when compared to all the games that was played before it.

Therefore, with great confidence, I can definitely say that if the last two non-playing gaps has normal lengths as just like the ones that comes before it, and that if the pacing of all games are similar (maybe gives two or there more episodes for Christmas Bowl), this anime would be able to accommodate the Kantou Tournament final and also the Christmas Bowl easily. I’m really pissed that I am not able to at least watch the former, especially when this anime has already set up some events leading to the game that Deimon Devil Bats are supposed to play. Is there any need to show Gaou stopping a truck if we are not goping to see the main title male protagonist going against him?

That pivotal moment right before an explosive burst of character development. You will see this a lot in this anime.
That pivotal moment right before an explosive burst of character development. You will see this a lot in this anime.

Storywise this anime is actually quite good in quality. The Death March arc in this anime is definitely the best power-up training regime I have seen in a sport anime to date. Not only it helps the members of Deimon Devil Bats upgrade their abilities and advance their character developments at that time, Death March was also used to do those two things again and again in future episodes, usually in-game using flashback sequences, in a slick and believable way that does not off-put the audience. Not only that, the Death March also helps advance the plot multiple times long after the arc finished playing.

Speaking about the Death March, the writer tried to replicate that arc in the aforementioned 25-episode gap above, but failed miserably.

As this is a sport anime, with a huge episode count at that, it is natural that this anime has extensive character developments, especially for the recurring characters, and to a lesser extent, the one-off characters from the team faced by the Deimon Devil Bats too. The best character in this anime is definitely the club captain, followed closely by the main title protagonist. It really helps too that there are no romance elements at all in this anime; there are no main female protagonist here at all.

This anime has the most informative eyecatches section I’ve ever seen, which is useful for those who doesn’t know American football. Recap episodes and repeated scenes are a staple of this anime, and they are done largely well. The issue with the pacing of this anime has been largely explained above, and that problem do affect the flow of the story in a negative way. There are many comedy events in this anime too, and they can be hit-or-miss.

This anime has its share of quirky teams with equally quirky character designs too.
This anime has its share of quirky teams with equally quirky character designs too.

Character Design:-
Character designs in this anime is very notable for its diverseness. You can see character designs that comes out straight from a  typical shounen anime title like Naruto or Bleach (like the main title male protagonist), then you can see designs that is common from a shounen-ai titles, then shoujo titles, then seinen titles (like the One-Out-esque quarterback) and more. The huge character cast, many of them at least semi-recurring ones, do help this anime in this regard. A positive aspect of this anime.

Some asinine questions too during the eyecatch section.
Some asinine questions too during the eyecatch section.

Voice Acting:-
Voica acting for core characters (the Deimon Devil Bats members) are largely good, with the sore exception of the main male title protagonist, which is just about average. The monkey receiver and the One-out-esque quarterback have the best voice acting gigs in this anime. Hirano Aya of pre-Haruhi Suzumiya era sure is more restrained as shown in this anime compared to her newer gigs.

The voices of other characters, recurring or not, do mirror the diverseness of their character designs. Many of them are good or better, while there are some of them that are just average.

The OST of this anime is good; could have been better especially for scenes off the field. As for OP/ED themes, the good ones includes the 1st, 2nd and the 4th OP themes, then the insert songs in episode 28 and 116 (both of them played multiple times). But the best of them all is definitely the 6th ED theme, which is head and shoulders above the rest of them. A positive aspect for this anime because of that alone.

Answer: The main reason why I don't watch NBA and NFL games.
Answer: The main reason why I don't watch NBA and NFL games.

Character animations in this anime can be very jerky at times, usually in off-field moments, but sometimes also happens during a match. There are also numerous problems with the quality of character compositions, in numerous scenes in the anime, on and off the field.

General animation quality doesn’t seem to have those numerous quality issues that plagued the characters of this anime. This anime of last decade has already used 3D CGI animation, but integration with the traditional 2D animation is not seamless. As for choreography in this sport anime, you can consider them good if you enjoy normal American football techniques being overexaggerated with slow-motion techniques, contrails, after–images, special effects and things like that. If you don’t, well…

The director also has made some mistakes, in addition of the pacing problem above. One of them is plot execution. For example, some scenes like the main title protagonist’s second touchdown against Oujou High School in their first match-up, and also his visit to Sakuraba Haruto after that match, does not have the impact that those scenes should deliver. A better director would have used those scenes to manipulate viewers’ feeling much better.

The best ever name for a cruise liner in anime history.
The best ever name for a cruise liner in anime history.

6 out of 10.
Even after 145 episodes, this anime is in dire need of a second season if you ask me. Blame this on the director for letting this happening.

Quoted for truth.
Quoted for truth.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/prgSo-Ea

The main male protagonist…

Märchen Awakens Romance is just the third anime series I reviewed here that contained 100 or more episodes, and that’s why it took me a little bit more than a month to watch the whole goddamn thing. This review would have come much earlier though if I don’t waste a week or so playing The Last Remnants, and probably even earlier if the War Game arc doesn’t suck. This is an anime released 5 years ago in 2005, therefore none of the ‘Anime of the Year’ title holders will be challenged for today.

…and this is his talking weapon who is also the best character in this anime.

The fantasy world of MAR Heaven descends into chaos with the return of the mysterious and evil organization called Chess Piece, after 6 years of hiatus. Not knowing what to do themselves, one of the side characters summoned the unsuspecting main male protagonist from the present-day Japan so that he can help get rid of the aforementioned evil group that is hell-bent to destroy the world.

A hero must have a sidekick too…

The typical shounen-genre storyline is not that bad, but oh boy this anime is way too predictable, even when compared to its peers in the same genre. It doesn’t really help either that the storyline contained some plotholes, plus there are some unexplained issues that still remains after the last episode finished playing. The writer could have spiced up the story if he/she wasn’t too conservative in his/her writing, which makes the story conforms too much with the norms of a shounen-genre storywriting. This anime could have benefited from more usage of some common storytelling techniques such as plot twists etc.

…and some much-needed comic-relief also has to be there, or else the team will be dull. Surprisingly, she is also the main protagonist love-interest.

The presentation of this anime is mixed bag at best, and this mainly have to do with the humongous War Game arc that takes at least two-thirds of this anime’s (very long) airtime. Prior to the start of the War Game tournament, the anime has one of the best pacing and story development I have seen in an anime for quite some time, where the story simply develops nicely without any distraction whatsoever. The pacing is excellent too during that period. Then come the War Game arc, where the great start this anime has started to unravel.

The Dragonball-esque War Game tournament. The tournaments in DragonBall are much better though.

The first casualty of the War Game arc is that the story development slowed down heavily right when the tournament started. But this is still acceptable because real character developments also start happening at the same period. The pacing is still good up until the fifth round of the said tournament where filler episodes started appearing between the fifth and sixth round and also between the sixth and seventh round (the last one). These filler episodes, nearly 20 episodes of them all combined, are the primary main reason the War Game arc sinks at the end. As usual, these filler episodes are completely useless; they doesn’t advance the main storyline, actually harm characters’ developments as the main protagonist and his team prepare for the final battle, and completely destroy the great pacing that the anime has at that point. These episodes doesn’t exist at all between the earlier rounds, making them far more palatable even when very nature of the War Game itself is plagued by a couple of problems.

Quoted For Truth, uttered by the best character in this anime.

The first problem is that the War Game tournament has a very strange rule in place, where if the captain of a team loses in a match, the said team will automatically loses the round, and subsequently the tournament, even if the losing captain’s team is leading in the match count for the said round. The writer apparently doesn’t realize that by applying this kind of rule, this anime viewers will be able to easily predict the result of the tournament (hint: Team Ginta never lose a single round). Couple that with the fact that the writer only allows the main protagonist’s team to not use the captain only once (the rule allows unlimited non-usage of team captain in any given round), the only thing that viewers can anticipate is how the main protagonist’s team will won, not if they will won or not.

Proof that the writer has run out of ideas when choreographing the latter battles in the War Game tournament.

The second problem is there are a lot of fighting/battles in this arc, which, by the end of the tournament, the writer has simply runs out of ideas on how to choreograph them, especially in the latter rounds. The battles in earlier round in this tournament are excellent, helped by the fact that this anime actually has very good action choreography. But the quality of the battles in latter rounds deteriorates rapidly, and the writer has to resort to improper usage of plot devices (very obvious after the first visit to Caldea) and even a couple of deux ex machina moments. Couple that with the fact that the main protagonist’s team always win in the tournament, and we have a flawed (very big) story arc in the first place.

One of the most annoying emo character in anime history, even worse that the main protagonist of La Corda D’Oro ~primo passo~. She died at the end of this anime and WASN'T REVIVED. For that, I give this anime one extra point for the final evaluation of this anime.

Character development are done well in general, except during the portion in the War Game tournament mentioned above. The filler episodes harmed character developments in this anime during that time by obscuring any visible power-ups that the characters in the main protagonist’s team may have, especially between the penultimate sixth round and the last seventh round. It is obvious that the team has improved during the gap between sixth and seventh round, but the multiple side-stories (which is not even remotely connected to the main storyline) doesn’t indicate that any improvement has happened. There is another interesting fact that you can see from the main protagonist’s development; he should have been able to use 8 forms of his talking weapon, but at the end of the series, he only use 7 of them (running out of ideas huh). And BTW, the talking weapon of his is definitely the best character in the anime, comparable to his counterpart in Bokurano.

And here she is, being told of her proper place by the macho men in this anime.

The ending is actually very decent, a much-needed respite from the woeful War Game arc. Still very predictable though, at that point, I have abandoned any hope of the ending springing any surprises on me. Even that, there are some unanswered questions this anime left hanging, such as the true origins of Nanashi, and the relationship between the main protagonist’s mom and Queen Diana.

All those abuse took a heavy toll on her, psychologically.

Character Design:-
This shounen-genre anime has your common shounen-genre character design, with small occurrence of black hairs. Even the main protagonist, the native of present-day Japan, is a shiny blonde character. No one stands out here. Guardian designs are mixed bag, some of them are good (especially hand-drawn ones) but many others are bad (usually CGI models).

Another annoying character in this anime. She doesn't die though, which is a pity. If she died, this anime would have gotten 10 out of 10 score no matter how bad this anime is in other sections.

Voice Acting:-
Voice acting in this anime is just so-so in general, below average even. Still, there are some outstanding characters in this anime for this aspect. The talking weapon (a.k.a. the best character in this anime), the main antagonist (who used to wield him) and the annoying fairy are the three of them.

Another technique ripped straight from DragonBall and used by the main protagonist in the final battle.

The OST in this anime is excellent, verily so. But from the many OP/ED themes this anime has, only the 2nd OP theme and 2nd ED theme is any good.

His left-hand was supposed to be chained in this scene, but a screw-up by the director ensured that this doesn't happen.

The animation in this anime is good, but can be jerky in fast-paced scenes. Integration between 2D animation and CGI videos are not seamless most of the time. The choreography is good as mentioned in the story section. The director has not done his/her job properly, with all those frayed ends and plotholes, and the filler episodes etc.

Epiphany – yet another literary technique that the writer misuse a lot.

7 out of 10.
I’m somewhat proud that I can actually finish watching this anime, lesser mortals out there will definitely drop this anime somewhere during the War Game arc. Coming next: the new Evangelion movie!

Plot device – Also misused a lot in this anime.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/prgSo-dd

Our main male protagonist Darling, laughing in the style of Lelouch.

Finally, after nearly two months of on-and-off viewing (punctuated by the Code Geass review earlier this month), I finally finished the humongous series Urusei Yatsura, the first Takahashi Rumiko work reviewed in this blog (the second one I watched after Ranma 1/2), and at 195 episodes, the biggest single-season series I have ever watched. For comparison, it is like watching Code Geass (50 episodes), Powerpuff Girls Z (52 episodes), Wolf and Spice (13 episodes), Chobits (26 episodes), Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Kai (24 episodes), Record of Lodoss War (13 episodes) and Kodomo no Jikan (12 episodes + 1 OVA) all in one go with some episodes to spare (I do not count movies or the non-anime Avatar). Just like Gakkou No Kaidan, this is another of those Animax titles I have partially watched in the past, and here I finally watched the series to the very end.

Darling’s house (destroyed by Lum here) and classroom (destroyed by Arsonist Ten) are regular collateral damage in this series. The mortgage and reconstruction efforts must be a pain…

Planet Earth was invaded by a demonic alien race armed with overwhelming physical and technology superiority over the 1980's human race, and all that stands between the world as we know it and complete annihilation is our lecherous hero Moroboshi 'Darling' Ataru. Chosen to compete in a tournament with the fate of the world in the balance, he has to defeat Lum, the princess of the king of the alien invaders and win, or else he will lose his girlfriend Shinobu that has promised him her hand in marriage if he wins. Eventually he wins the contest using a simple trick, but his truly 'electrifying' married life has just started…

There is one of those anime that is powered by the immense character strength of its main male protagonist, and this factor alone salvage the really thin overall story this anime has. Our Darling is definitely one of the strongest anime characters I have ever seen in the myriads of anime titles I have ever watched. As a reference to the previous anime I have reviewed before, Code Geass, Darling is vastly superior to Lelouch Lamperouge for example. Frankly speaking, if it wasn't for him, I would have dropped this anime at around episode 30 or something when they started to do 1 30-minutes episode every episode (pun?) instead of the 2 15-minutes episodes per episode format this anime started with.

Darling is trying to hit on his childhood friend Shinobu while the jealous Lum is administering more electrical punishment. A common scene in this series.

Darling is similar to Raou in Inukami, but more decisive, more thick-skinned, more tenacious and exemplarily good at wooing women using some of the best flowery (and corny) pick-up words, and he has no qualms whatsoever at doing it in-front of the main female protagonist. He (and some of the other characters) is also extremely good at doing funny/insightful/witty one-liners which can really make excellent scenes. Some of his choice of words really amazes me, especially when he is doing his girl-hunting trips.

Mendou Shutaro and Darling, planning their next perverted move.

Darling is also ably assisted by some other side-characters; Mendou Shutaro, Arsonist Ten, Shinobu, Sakuramboo Cherry, Ran and Darling's parents, especially his mom comes to mind. What is criminal is that some of these characters suffers from the lack of airtime (and this is a 195 episodes series for God's sake), especially Darling's mom. This also applies to Ten in the second half of the series. Darling's relationships with the myriads of characters in this anime makes up the bulk of the appeal this anime has. Some of the characters are way too one-dimensional for my liking though, for example Rei (thanks God he did not appear often) and Sakura (oh snap). Episodes where these characters are the focal point tends to be uninspiring unless Darling decides to step in and have a big slice of the air time. And this bring us to the enigma that is Lum.

The twin terror from Oni Planet, our main female protagonist Lum and her cousin Arsonist Ten (who is about to fire a burst of flames as he burns down another house).

For a main female protagonist with huge amount of airtime, Lum is disappointingly one-dimensional and uninspiring. Her character is shallow, and things that she do tends to be very predictable. She would have done vastly better if she isn't fawning over Darling too much. Even more frustrating is that the child version of Lum is much better than the present herself. The way the child Lum harass/blackmail/set-up the child version of Ran can be brilliant sometimes, but she doesn't even do that in the present to the current Ran, except in some circumstances involving her beloved Darling (and she is being conservative when doing it). She improves somewhat in the last third of the anime, but it is simply not enough.

WANTED: A Lum’s character that is actually exciting (see the first picture) instead of the regular one-dimensional version (second picture).

Character development is excellent. Mendou Shutaro, Arsonist Ten and Shinobu are great examples of it. Watching over the course of the series on how the heir of Mendou conglomerate and a flying baby that can breathe fire to burn houses and schools slowly morphing over time to become just another copy of our lecherous Darling is brilliant, while the same can also be said about Shinobu who slowly loses her feelings about her childhood Darling after seeing him and Lum get betrothed, and she gets attached to Mendou instead. Meanwhile the nature of Darling did not change in a fundamental way; he is still a pervert that chases anything female (humans, extraterrestrial aliens, ghosts etc) in episode 1 until 195, but the nature of his relationships with other characters can change significantly. For example, at first he has problems dealing with Ten when he first appeared (with his abilities to fly and breath fire notwithstanding) and he always become the victim of Ten's breaths of fire, but at the end Ten ended up becoming Darling's punching bags or become a portable flame-thrower that Darling used every time he invaded Mendou's vast real estate for various reasons. The episode where Darling invades Mendou's home for Ryoko's lips while having the self-proclaimed innocent baby Ten tied to his hips is epic! A whack on the head and a huge burst of flames comes out. That's what I call a convenient weapon.

Darling’s mother has lots of potential that unfortunately aren’t tapped.

Moving to the story, do not expect a coherent main plot. Just like Ranma 1/2 (which I watched on AXN while I still do not have this blog), the very many episodes in this anime involves Darling and the huge cast of characters doing their thing in myriads of situations. A significant chunk of the episodes involves focusing on a character that is not Darling or Lum also make up part of the series. The quality of the episodes seems to be related with the amount of airtime Darling has (the higher it is, the better) and also whether the one-dimensional characters like Sakura and Rei is present or not. You probably can skip a lot of the episodes in this anime and do not lose anything, but some episodes can be considered as key episodes that advanced the thin main plot and should not be skipped.

Gender benders plot device in this anime are very well executed. The episode where Darling becomes a woman is one of the better episodes in the series. BTW, the girl in both pictures is Mendou Shutaro.

The main attraction of the story (or plots more like it) in this anime is the humor. Some of the jokes are brilliant, especially from Darling who are not only capable of one-liners but also slapstick humor as well. Plus, what this anime has that Ranma 1/2 doesn't is the constant references to other TV shows, Hollywood films or the humongous amount of Japanese mythologies (some episodes are dedicated purely for a parody, like the one for Indiana Jones). Seeing Fujinami 'Ranma' Ryuunosuke parodying Ultraman or Mendou Shutaro parodying Luke Skywalker adds up to this factor well.

Some of the parodies in Urusei Yatsura.

But this series is guilty of abusing some common plot devices common to this genre. For example, the number of episodes where Darling and his entourage (usually Lum, Mendou and Shinobu) going to the beach is very numerous. Fortunately, even with 195 episodes count, there are no 'going to the hot spring' episode, even if the perpetually 2nd year 4th class has a homeroom teacher called 'Onsen-Mark'. Some of the episodes has outrageously unreal plots, and I vastly prefer episodes that take place on Earth instead of another dimension or planets.

Another weakness that this anime has is that some potentially good story arcs are not pursued. A good example is the Arsonist Ten relationship with his stalker who attended kindergarten. It is beyond belief that we only have one episode about Ten's stalker, while the vastly inferior arc about Shinobu and the fox got more episodes. The last episode meanwhile, did not exactly qualify as an ending, maybe it wants me to watch the movies, of which I will definitely do in the near future.

edit: Finished with all the 15 volumes I got from lurk, the majority of the episodes in the anime seems to be the more elaborate versions of the chapters in the manga. Very many of manga chapters has been modified, with mixed results. For example, the ending of the anime is a random episode from volume 5 but presented much better (that Ameterasu episode). It also seems that there are many anime-only plots that did not exist in the manga (although the same thing can also be said with the manga). Is it just me, but the manga has less of the Mendou-estate invasions plots compared to the anime?

The element of friendship is important in this anime.

Character Design:-
For its time (this anime was aired in Japan when I am still a snot-nosed brat and finished even before I get to kindergarten), the design is pretty decent. Not exactly too different than Ranma 1/2. Some characters has black hair like Mendou Shutaro, but the lack of them can be forgiven for the nature of the alien-infested Japan.

Waterboarding is already popular at the era when this anime is aired. The victim seems unperturbed though.

Voice Acting:-
The voice acting in this anime is mixed bag. Obviously, Darling with his creepy laugh that scares women (and sometimes Lum too) stands out from the rest, alongside Arsonist Ten and the double-faced Ran. At first, I think that Lum's voice did not match her character (like the main protagonist in Excel Saga) but after 100 episodes or so, I just forgot about it.

Some of the best one-liners in the anime.

The OST for this anime is pretty decent, but from the very many OP/ED themes that this anime has, only the 3rd ED (so good they use it twice), 2nd OP and the last OP themes are of any good.

Final confirmation of Mendou Shutaro’s transformation to Darling Mark II.

The animation quality is pretty decent but holds its own in fast-paced scenes. Animation reuse seems to be common here too. Choreography for whatever the small action scenes that this anime has is average. The director is good, at least for organizing the plots in any given episode although failed in character management (some characters like Shinobu can be missing for extended periods) and also in timeline management (the first year spans about 40 episodes, the second year nearly double that etc.).

Sakuramboo Cherry harassing both Darling and Mendou Shutaro.

9 out of 10. Despite the immense character strength of Moroboshi 'Darling' Ataru and co., he can only take this series so far. I should watch all 6 movies in the near future and review them here too, although highly unlikely not the next one. Maybe I should consider reading the manga too at some point in the future.

Darling will chase almost anything female, even if it made of snow.

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