Roving Thoughts archives


My memorable anime from 2001

See the initial 2000 entry for the full background. I'm doing this based on the show's start date and memorable is not the same as either good or significant. Date information comes from Wikipedia and Anime-Planet.


  • Spirited Away: See my discussion of it in my favorite Miyazaki movies.

  • Earth Maiden Arjuna (or Earth Girl Arjuna): This has so many excellent aspects to it that it's a pity its environmental message turns people off. It has great secondary characters (including one who gets both excellent lines and an entire episode that was apparently so controversial that it couldn't be aired on TV), beautiful character focused episodes, and it never shies away from showing just how difficult and isolating it is for the heroine to be so strongly environmentally aware; it never pitches its environmental message as at all easy. (And I love the music without reservation because it hits my buttons just right.)

    It has always amazed me that Arjuna was actually licensed in the US, partly because of the environmental message and partly because it's so much a subtle character drama instead of anything more active (yes, despite the periodic quite nice action scenes).

    By the way, Arjuna is a Shoji Kawamori project. (Yes, I'm trying to get you to give it a chance.)

  • Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars: This is an excellent show, as plenty of people will correctly tell you. I had some reactions when I finally saw it.

  • Alien Nine: I'm not sure that this is a good show as such (for a start it doesn't so much end as stop abruptly in the middle of something). What makes it so memorable is that it's so harrowing once you start paying attention and it's chock-full of interestingly weird science-fiction concepts (especially for alien creatures). You can read more about it here and also see Scamp's longer writeup.

Ordinarily memorable:

  • Animation Runner Kuromi: This is a very interesting and apparently extremely true to life look inside the anime production process. It's also touching, periodically funny, and full of small details.

  • Read Or Die (OVA): The first OVA is the distilled and turbo-charged essence of a particular kind of wild, supernatural action-adventure show. Crazy things are happening all of the time, one on top of the other, right from the opening moments. The other two OVAs can't top it or fully keep up the momentum and so mostly serve to finish off the story, but this in no way diminishes the sheer impact and momentum of the first OVA.

    (The subsequent TV series is in an entirely different genre.)

  • Millennium Actress: I'm not as taken with this film as some people are, but it's still an excellent film. Mind you I've only seen it once; possibly I should rewatch it.

Honorable mentions:

  • Cowboy Bebop: The Movie: I'm docking this memorability points because it was basically a big episode of the TV series. It doesn't stand out beyond 'hey, a chunk more of Cowboy Bebop'. That's still nice but it's not really earth-shaking.

  • Super GALS! Kotobuki Ran: This has frenzied energy and a quirky charm, but it's possibly a good thing that I only saw part of it; all 52 episodes might be a bit too much. I'm still amused by how the theoretically highly rebellious Ran always came down on the side of propriety when the dust settled.

Things from 2001 that I want to see and am going to real soon now, honest:

  • Angelic Layer
  • Figure 17

  • Noir: This is yet another show that the local anime clubs started showing just as they started collapsing, so I've only seen a number of the early episodes.

  • Popee the Performer: Due to Shinmaru at The Cart Driver. He inspired me to check out the first episode and yes, it's my kind of comedy. I just have to watch the rest of it someday.

Things I want to see are here in large part because I expect that when I see them they'll be good enough to place into at least the ordinarily memorable section. Some I rather suspect will be standouts.

anime/Memorable2001 written at 16:53:24; Add Comment

My views on character death in anime

I'm not one of the people who insist that their favorite characters can never die, because that's absurd. I don't even demand that characters get heroic ends or 'good deaths' or the like, instead of petty casual ones; the furthest I'll go is to say that a character's death should fit in with the feel of the show, but that's just good writing in general. However there are a number of ways for a show to anger me (sometimes very much) with character deaths:

  • When the deaths are mostly carnography. Some people are repulsed by carnography but I think I've become sufficiently numb to it in anime that it's mostly just a boring waste of time. Sometimes what I see as excessive brutality will get under my skin, though.

    One example of general carnography that comes to mind is the opening of the first episode of Elfen Lied, where a bunch of people are bloodily slaughtered for writing motives that I won't speculate on.

  • When the deaths are part of a giant middle finger extended to the audience by the show's creators. Often this also involves carnography, because you might as well make the audience even more angry at you by 'lovingly' dwelling on the deaths of characters that they like.

    Perhaps the most famous example of this is much of End of Evangelion, with the slaughter involved in the invasion of NERV Headquarters and so on.

  • When the death is just a cheap and lazy way of injecting (melo)drama into the show by having a shocking event happen that's sure to get an emotional rise out of the viewers. Deaths, like plenty of other shocking events, are easily (and frequently) exploited by bad writers.

    I will pick on Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse's second episode for this; in it, a whole bunch of people we spent the first episode getting to know are slaughtered in battle one by one so that we can understand that this is war and war is serious brutal business and so on. The final death was impressively melodramatic. I had a bad reaction to this.

There are any number of ways to make characters deaths be simply bad writing without rising to the level that irritates and angers me the way that the stuff above does. If I can see the death coming a mile in advance because the show has lovingly tripped a whole series of death flags for the character, well, that's cliched writing (sometimes it can be appropriate for the show's genre, although I'm sort of making excuses for the show here). But it doesn't irritate me more than any other form of bad writing and it generally won't cause me to bail out of a show on the spot.

(This issue of anger-inducing character deaths is going to come up in my 'memorable anime from 200x' series of entries, so I might as well explain my views in advance.)

anime/CharacterDeathViews written at 13:23:54; Add Comment

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