15 CommentsFirst Impressions / By Scamp /

Mock First Impressions

The method I used to use when picking older anime to watch was to write down a bunch of titles on a piece of paper, number them 1-6, roll a dice and let fate decide what I watch. However I have grown tired of this decision method and decided to implement the same tactic I use for a new season. Watch a load of first episodes and watch the one with the best first episode and most potential of the lot. I’ve divided this list the same way am standerd new season would be. One anime I really want to watch, one anime everyone is telling me to watch and a bunch of anime I’m only watching because they just happen to be there.

The Random Choices: Hell Teacher Nube, Legend of Basara, Black Jack (2004)

The show I’m excited about: Berserk

I was told to watch: Demon Detective Nougami Neuro

Hell Teacher Nube: 1996

You can see what they’re going for here. Nube is a teacher with a devil’s right hand that he uses to exercise demons and stuff. He goes to teach in an elementary school with an exorcism of the week formula. The idea is that Nube is trying really hard to be cool in front of the kids but keeps making a fool out of himself, only to win them over by performing some badass exorcism and saving his beloved students. The one good scene from the episode came when Nube was trying to make a dramatic entrance to the classroom for the first time by hanging little fiery balls around his head like those little spirit things, only for the door to jam and for him to set his head on fire.

But for the most part it just feels like the guy who wrote this doesn’t know what he’s doing. Each method he used to show certain personality traits feel so lazy. ‘Hey, Nube sees a women, shouldn’t he make a funny perverted face about now?’ and other such methods. Nube isn’t nearly goofy enough nor badass enough at anytime to make you care enough about watching the guy. It’s very similar to Great Teacher Onizuka and I can already see the pattern that will evolve. Kid doesn’t believe in teacher because he’s a dope, but the kid also has problems that Nube fixes to win them over, except this time with added demons. I never liked this formula in GTO either but at least that had Onizuka being awesome to make up for it. Nube himself just doesn’t work.

Legend of Basara: 1998

Legend of Basara is pretty damn convinced it’s one of the most epic tales to grace the world of animation. Too bad it was only given 13 episodes to do this in. The first episode has prophecy of a saviour, meeting of the grand villain, coming of age ceremony, death of a childhood friend, time skip, not-so-subtle foreshadowing, evil army and evil leader returns, death of main character and finally a lifetime decision for the main character. It’s slightly more rushed than Angel Beats episode 6.

As I said, the first episode is so nonsensically rushed that they had to try cram in as much as possible, mostly done through miserable foreshadowing of the “hey, why can’t I go out in the desert sensei? – That’s because *insert extremely condensed version of the worlds history* dear” variety. I will admit I am interested in seeing what happens next though. While the plot may not have been presented with much grace, the story itself is quite interesting. It’s a 12 Kingdoms-esque story about a girl gaining courage to be a great leader, except without the huge amount of difficult terminology you had to learn while watching 12 Kingdoms. In Legend of Basara it’s like “See that guy dressed in red and wearing a crown? He’s the Red King”. Now that’s fantasy terminology I can actually follow.

Black Jack: 2004

This was my first exposure to anything related to the Tezuka, the God of Manga (no, the Lion King doesn’t count). Black Jack is about a freelance unlicensed surgeon with awesome hair and an annoying sidekick who wanders the world and somehow keeps getting into situations where people get seriously injured. What really baffled me about this episode wasn’t so much what was happening on screen but that this was Tezuka, the guy who men in their forties who say anime is dead go nuts about. This is quite unmistakably a kids show. The artwork is extremely cartoony, the dialogue is kept simple and every character in the show is an over the top caricature. The baddy in the episode is quite clearly a rubbish pantomime villain the kids are supposed to laugh at.

In short, I just don’t see the appeal. I suppose one episode is too difficult to get a grasp on Black Jack’s character and I quite like the thought processes he goes through, but the idea of watching simplistic stories like that over and over isn’t exactly filling me with delight. Oh, and Pinako is fucking annoying. Hearing her lisped ‘Shenshei’ is pretty darn annoying but worse is that she has random nonsense words as catchphrases. Dattebayo~

Berserk: 1997

Ah yes, now I can see why everyone compared Claymore to this. I’d be shocked if the Claymore mangaka didn’t take a degree of inspiration from this manga. Berserk is a slightly darker demon filled fantasy about a dude with a massive sword. And, like Claymore, Berserk is soooo corny! Girl being abused by castle guards for slightly longer than was necessary? Evil demons cackling about pathetic humans? Plenty of references to the cracking of bones and tearing of flesh? Yup, it had everything in the corny violent handbook.

There was a lot to like about the episode though. The animation is amazing, especially when you compare it to Nube and Basara, both of which aired within 2 years of Berserk (Nube’s animation was so bad I actually laughed at it more than once). The pacing was perfect and I’m already interested in what’s going on with this big-sworded fellow. The next episode preview showed the guy when he was younger which should be interesting to see. Although I’d personally prefer less references to the tearing of flesh.

Demon Detective Nougami Neuro: 2007

Wondering what that poll on the sidebar for the past few days was? Yup, Nuero narrowly beat Aria to take the spot of ‘anime people keep telling me to watch’, which I was surprised at because I was under the impression almost nobody had seen it. Nuero is a demon who loves mysteries so turns a teenage girl into a detective and ‘eats’ mysteries, all the while performing constant acts of women beating. That last bit, as you can probably guess, is by far the best part of the show. Nuero is a fantastic character because the guy just oozes suave evilness and has the right edge of controlled insanity to make him thoroughly believable as a demon-on-earth.

The mystery of the episode was pretty stupid though. The sudden leap to revealing of the crime was pretty nonsensical but even that was out-nonsensefied by the roid-rage hulk chef that the episode finished with. If that’s the standard of mystery this episode is going to have then that’s quite a fatal flaw in a series that bills itself as a detective series that thrives on mysteries. Of course, Neuro is more than enough to carry this series by himself but it would be nice to have some proper mysteries to go with it.

And the winner is…Berserk

Totally unsurprising result, although I was rather disappointed that the three random titles I picked all ended up being rather poor. I definitely plan to take a look at Neuro again sometime in the future but Berserk has to take the spot above it because it felt a lot better constructed, even if Neuro did a lot better job of making a demon’s scary. See Berserk, you can make something scary without resorting to constant references to the tearing of flesh.

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15 Comments

  1. Posted May 14, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I have yet to see any of the above anime. Maybe I’ll start using the “throw the dice” method

  2. Posted May 14, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Claymore and Berserk are awesome. I refuse to watch Berserk until the manga is close to finishing, which it never will. Maybe I’ll wait one year and then just watch it/read the manga regardless. There will probably only be 3 new chapters by then though. Ugh.

  3. heyheyho
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    The Black Jack anime was HORRIBLE.
    Specially the first episodes…
    EVERYTHING is changed for kids to watch.

    I would tell you to read the manga but I bet you won’t listen to me, so meh…

  4. Posted May 14, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Berserk is one of those series that I’ve stopped watching for no good reason beyond the subs that I had used were pretty crappy (I now have the DVDs, so there really isn’t a good reason for this to sit on my backlog).

    Neuro did seem gimmicky, so I never really bothered to check it out and after this post, I’m still not inclined to do so.

  5. Posted May 14, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    lol What a strange method of choice. I just scroll through my to-watch list and wait until something leaps out at me. :p

    I don’t have much familiarity with Tezuka, but he did write a pretty wide range of stories from kids fare to more adult stories, so I don’t think it’s really fair to break out the blanket judgment based on one episode of one series (even though you’re probably being tongue-in-cheek with it).

    I watched the first episode of Neuro when the show first aired and remember liking it, but I never kept up with it for whatever reason. Same with Moyashimon (one of your favorites), which I think aired during the same season.

  6. luffyluffy
    Posted May 15, 2010 at 2:04 am | Permalink

    You could always watch the 1993 Version of Black Jack!

    http://myanimelist.net/anime/1520/Black_Jack

  7. Posted May 15, 2010 at 3:27 am | Permalink

    If you like the character of Neuro I suggest reading the manga, it is a completely different series entirely almost. The anime is one of the absolute worst adapations of -anything- I have ever seen. It just kept getting worse and completely ignored almost anything the manga had set out to do, and in the end I just dropped it in disgust. True, the manga is pretty lame in places, but I always got the feeling that it was self-aware in how silly it was whereas the anime thought it was being serious. Plus most of the anime mysteries arent even -from- the manga and are incredibly stupid. (The stupid one in the first episode sadly was…but the manga started much differently, with Yako meeting Neuro, a far different beginning than flinging the viewer straight into what was undoubtedly the worst ‘mystery’ in the entire series.)

    Also they cut out one of my favourite characters (Ai) and did a whole load of stupid shit that made no sense towards the end. Even though I’ve made myself feel a whole lot better by pretending the anime version of Neuro does not exist and never did, every now and then I remember it and just rage.

    (i’m not even a gigantic fan of the Neuro manga, but it’s decent,and I do think Neuro’s a great character and he deserves so much better than this terrible anime)

  8. BlueYoshi
    Posted May 15, 2010 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    I’m just surprised that Neuro was chosen over Aria. WOW. Should have checked the site more often to throw my vote to an anime that doesn’t have unsatisfactory mysteries.

    Claymore (the manga) is getting boring, so it might be a good time to start Berserk.

  9. Scamp
    Posted May 15, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    The reason I’ve taken so long to reply to these comments is because I’ve been marathoning Berserk. That first episode is nothing like the rest of the series and is also by far the worst episode of the lot. It’s good enough thus far (I’m on episode 16) for me to consider it a top 10 breaker. Anywho, replying time~

    @kluxorious

    Watch Berserk

    @Glo

    Watch Berserk

    @heyheyho

    …you’re probably right. I’m just terrible when it comes to manga. Although I might start reading the Berserk manga

    @zzeroparticle

    Watch Berserk

    I can see what you mean about Neuro being gimmicky. The gimmicks do work for the character of Neuro though

    @Shinmaru

    Surely you’ve read my blog long enough to know that blanket judgements after one episode is what I do best~

    Some seasons are like that. You just so happened to be in a certain mood at the time that sometimes you judgement is clouded by outside factors.

    @luffyluffy

    I’ve heard it’s a more adult version so I might give it a shot

    @moeronpan

    Wow, I’m not sure what I’m more surprised by. Someone getting angry about Neuro or that Madhouse did a shitty manga adaptation. That’s something almost unheard of

    @BlueYoshi

    Watch Berserk

  10. Posted May 16, 2010 at 4:53 am | Permalink

    I barely like any of those animes. The only one I watch was Neuro, and it was awesome.

    Also, maybe i should use your method to decide what anime to watch. It’s unique.

  11. maculid
    Posted May 17, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    I was surprised to see Berserk on this list since, in my experience, its the only older-ish anime that literally everyone I know has either heard of or watched. I saw the series a few years back because my friend wouldn’t stop hounding me and I too was surprised at how good it was. I thought it would be incredibly corny but I really fell in love with the characters and their interactions.

    The story really picked up for me after I started reading the manga. Miura’s illustrations are mind-blowing.. I can’t recommend the manga enough.

  12. Scamp
    Posted May 18, 2010 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    @maculid

    Berserk was picked up precisely because everyone knows it. That’s why it’s listed as the show I was excited about

    Although we clearly hang around different circles. I’m a newfag so I’m far more likely to have people who’ve seen Eden of the East than Patlabor

  13. Leah-san
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro is an good manga… but not an good anime… I’m missing Sicks… and Neuro is not half as sexy as in the manga…

  14. Leah-san
    Posted June 8, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro is one of the best manga ever.
    The anime was a piece of shit.
    The good parts are all in the manga. And the anime doesn’t have Sicks. And Sai sounds like freaking girl.

    • Gwen-Chan
      Posted May 15, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      I completely agree with Leah-San!
      But still I think you should take a look at it again SCAMP. Because it does get better then that first episode.

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