The year 2000 probably equals the year 2005 in terms of how terrible I found it. In fact, the only thing 2000 has going for it over 2005 is that the movie selection is actually decent. Series-wise, it’s probably even worse than 2005. Only one of the series even comes close to an all-time favorite of mine and because anime was trying to get the hang of digital paint around this time, combined with the fact that the actual output is nowhere near as frequent by today’s standards, there’s not really a very good selection to pull from here.
Still, this year did have some good stuff. So let’s give focus to ’em.
10. Amon: The Darkside of the Devilman
Amon is one of those last grasps at making one of those old-school ultraviolent OVAs before they died out as a trend, and it’s about as substantial as you’d expect from the Devilman saga, as well as these types of OVAs in general. You’ve got your gruesome violence, your mistreatment of women, and a guy transforming into a demon in order to kill the Devilman that ruined his life. Okay, that last one is probably just limited to this thing in general. It’s nothing I’d really recommend, as there’s not much to it other than being a competent product in a field not many people like. But for guys like me who have an interest in that field, it’s fun stuff.
Just like Amon, I really don’t have much to recommend regarding Space Travelers. I’ve never even seen the original live-action version that inspired the thing. It’s your typical “cool guys in space need to fight evil” stuff, and because Crispin Freeman voices the main dude, I felt like I was watching a simplified version of Captain Tylor. It did some cool things. It didn’t offend me. I had a decent time, but I can’t say it stuck in my mind all that much.
The actual story and characters are a load of bleh. Poorly written, unenergetic, and just plain dull. What makes this anime so fun is the English dub. Not since Kanon have I seen an English dub turn crap into something watchable. But unlike the former, which is the equivalent of good actors elevating crap source material, the latter is the equivalent of the actors realizing what they’re working on is a lost cause and just having fun with the whole thing with pop culture references, fourth-wall breaking, and plain racism. The schtick wears out its welcome at times, but overall I had fun watching ADV’s version of Ghost Stories.
Whilst I wouldn’t call The Sealed Card the best way to close out the Cardcaptor Sakura franchise, it wasn’t exactly a bad finale either. The new conflict didn’t feel like a phoned in attempt to extend the story, and the relationship between Sakura and Syaoran was cute enough, particularly that masked dance scene. That said, I never really felt their relationship was all that big a deal in the series, so ending the movie on that note just confuses me. But whatever. It’s good old magical girl stuff with enough CLAMP weirdness to it, and sometimes that’s all you need.
This isn’t really saying much, but this movie version of Blood is easily the best thing to come out of the franchise. It’s a weird experimental film with crazy visuals and atmosphere to support a simple story of Saya infiltrating a school in order to hunt monsters. The actual meat of the story isn’t really all that, especially if you’re well-versed in horror stuff. But the style makes it worth watching at least once.
I don’t love this OVA series. That sort of “growing up from adolescence” thing doesn’t gel with me the way it does for other people. I’m way too old to appreciate that kind of story as of now. But at the same time, I respect FLCL’s decision to tell that story through wacky visuals, songs from The Pillows, a funky robot, and a boy turning into a red alien superhero thing to fight a girl who probably is an alien in reality. It’s called animation because you’re supposed to tell the story visually, and this thing does a good job at that. Dub is decent as well.
Thirteen short stories concerning a sake-loving female samurai and her energetic martial artist of a companion as they travel the land and engage in conflicts that usually end with them having to kick well-animated, well-choreographed ass. I think that sums up why I like this show enough.
Easily one of the better attempts to cash in on Evangelion’s popularity. It had flawed characters who never grated on me with their angst. It had regular amounts of conflict whilst holding its cards until they’re necessary. The main draw of the show is the main dude’s desire for revenge against the robot that killed his girlfriend and how he has to work together with said robot in order to stop an alien invasion whilst biding his time. I liked the path said hatred drives him towards, especially when it’s revealed what’s really going on. I honestly think the series could have been condensed to half its length and have the same impact, if not a better one. But as it is, it’s pretty damn good.
Kawajiri’s take on the Vampire Hunter D franchise may have a simple story: vampire kidnaps maiden and our half-vampire hero, D, is hired to rescue her. But it’s through the gothic style and all-encompassing supremacy this film exudes at a constant pace that makes this movie click with me. Watching Bloodlust is like being sucked into a dark dimension where nothing but mysteries exist, and yet you can’t help but be intrigued, so you press onward. If that doesn’t convince you to give it a shot, then you suck.
Boogiepop Phantom is the one anime on this list to grab me in terms of style AND substance at the same time. I love its sepia puzzle style of storytelling and how it trusts the audience to figure out what’s going on based on what it gives you. I love the individual episodic stories and how it focuses on the human condition in disturbing ways. And I also really love its unique color presentation and how each subsequent episode gets brighter and brighter from its grim and grainy premiere in order to showcase how the story itself is becoming “clear” until the finale when it looks just like any other anime in general. On top of that, the overall story is pretty awesome too in regards to the supernatural and all. It’s not a positive show in the least, but it has a lot of positive things to say at the same time.