Elf Princess Rane
2 episodes (30 minutes)
Oh man, what a way to start off. I kinda forgot about Elf Princess Rane in the last Quick Anime Reviews and, perhaps, that was my forgetful mind warning me of it.
Elf Princess Rane is a typical ADHD anime. It’s a nonstop barrage of noise and animations mimicking something that should be vaguely entertaining. The story follows hyperactive treasure hunter Go Takarada, a youth who is always off chasing treasures, but who is too incompetent to interpret even the most basic of clues and too excitable to listen to people spelling them out for him. When one of his escapades ends in failure, he meets a little Elf called Rane and misinterprets her cry for help as another clue for a completely unrelated treasure.
The story jumps between various characters, few of which are afforded any kind of introduction, and many just don’t make sense. On top of that, these characters also don’t get much to do at all, as Elf Princess Rane rushes to a conclusion in which most of these characters are barely of any consequence. It’s an immensely unsatisfying story, and the animation and sound-design are equally flawed. Especially the voice acting was obnoxious and forced me to keep on subtitles, as some characters obnoxiously shout their dialogue while other seem to almost whisper into the microphone.
I thought this OVA might be marketing material for a longer manga, as was the case with Dragon Half, but no… this is a standalone story. This all Elf Princess Rane has to show for itself. Akitarou Daichi is such a phenomenal director, but I have no clue what in the world motivated him to create this inane abomination of a show.
4 episodes (30 minutes), 3 episodes (45 minutes)
Titles with numbers at the start of them are an odd breed and I always suspect them of trying to cheat their way to the top of any alphabetically sorted lists. This might not be one of those lists, but I still feel that 3×3 Eyes is one of the top picks of today.
It’s a dark, urban fantasy about a Japanese teenager who receives a letter from his now-dead father, charging him with the care of a Tibetan girl called Pai, who he claims is a Demon looking to become human. When this boy, Yakumo, ends up dead shortly after, Pai uses her magic to make him an immortal being like herself. The two of them are now bound together; if Pai dies, so does Yakumo, but if she becomes Human, then so will he.
Pai is an adorable character and the rest of the cast is plenty interesting as well, with a storyline that is very dramatic and sees them taking on horrible monsters and twisted cults. Its drab visuals that try to mimic the work of Katsuhiro Otomo are a letdown, but 3×3 Eyes definitely gets the body horror right and has some intense scenes. I was also fond of some of the clashing imagery, like a monster being torn to shreds by bullets fired by a confused Pai who struggles to keep an oversized gun in control.
24 episodes (3 minutes)
Bananya = Perfection
This is a series of TV shorts about bananas that are also cats. Or, perhaps, they are cats who are also bananas. It’s a little unclear. Through 3-minute skits we explore their daily life and the mischief main character Bananya gets up to. It’s adorable and very well-written; great for children, but charming enough to be fun for adults too.
Season 2 takes a bit of a departure from the familiar household setting and largely takes place on a planet full of Bananya, with Earth hovering above it. It’s even more fantastical and fun, with even-weirder characters and storylines that are even more adorable. It does leave me wondering if maybe, just maybe, Bananya is canonical with Visions of Escaflowne.
6 episodes (30 minutes)
Melty Lancer is an awkward show for me to talk about because it’s in that perilous 5/10 territory for me. It’s a perfectly watchable sci-fi romp about an all-female unit of peacekeepers that doesn’t do anything glaringly wrong, but it also never grabbed me.
The girls of the Melty Lancer team are being called back into action after being previously disbanded, now tasked with taking on a mysterious syndicate that may be more powerful than anybody could have imagined. The show mixes standard sci-fi themes with some magical elements, so the Melty Lancer team has a girl in a powersuit, a proper gunslinger with lasers, as well as a little magical girl that is constantly underestimated. It’s certainly creative, but the plot itself is just plain boring and fluctuates between comedy bad guys that never once got a laugh out of me and super-serious villains with dark, emotional backstories.
I really tried to like it, but it’s very generic and its science fiction is more of a science fantasy, with many twists just getting magicked into the plot. The characters also fall short of being interesting, so barring a few fun comedy bits, I never felt invested in their story or continued survival. I just sat through Melty Lancer being kinda bored with it, though somebody with a deeper passion for sci-fi may be able to get more out of this OVA.
Recorder and Randsell
40 episodes (3 minutes)
Atsushi and Atsumi are brother and sister, but despite being a mere 11 years old, Atsushi towers over his 17-year-old sister. He may still act like a kid, but Atsushi has the body and looks of an adult, which causes a lot of problems as he tries to attend grade school.
The short episodes chronicle various brief stories that the two of them go through, often focusing on either of the siblings being misidentified. Atsushi gets into a lot of trouble as he just tries to play with his friends and Atsumi has to deal with fellow high schoolers doting on her because she’s so small and cute. There are some really fun sketches in there, like Atsushi having to learn how to ride a bike without training wheels, but it also tends to recycle a lot of gags, making the first season in particular quite repetitive.
Recorder and Randsell does improve from there and the characters are endearing enough to stick with it through some low points. I recommend it to anybody looking for a breezy comedy series.
Looking for something very different and unique? Then take a look at A-Girl, a short anime that mimics the feel of classic, silent movies.
Mariko is a young woman with the warmest smile, the most loving heart, and the coolest boyfriend. At least, that’s what it looks like on the surface. Mariko’s relationship has turned abusive and deeply troubled, yet she feels obligated to stick with it and be loyal to her guy. That is, until a nearby housefire forces her and her sister to evacuate to the home of her sister’s colleague, a male model renowned for his womanizing ways, but who seems to be genuinely falling in love with Mariko.
It’s a sweet, little love story that cuts out almost all spoken dialogue in favor of having the whole movie accompanied by a fantastic soundtrack consisting of various pop & rock songs specifically made for this project. It puts up text screens when characters talk with each other, which is certainly impractical, yet also has an artsy, old-fashioned feel to it that suits the movie well. If you can find it, then it’s a recommendation for anybody with an interest in artistic anime.
I Dream of Mimi
3 episodes (27 minutes)
Sigh… Don’t you just hate it when you buy a new computer from the Bloodborne cosplayer in the local alley, but you come home and there’s a naked woman in the box instead.
That is what happens to Akira Takaoka in I Dream of Mimi, which is best-described as “Chobits if Chi were to run on semen”. Akira unwillingly becomes the owner of an android girl called Mimi and finds himself dragged into a conspiracy where other computer girls like her are fighting in both the physical and digital world over Japan’s most valuable data. It’s a legitimately funny show and I grew to like the main characters quite a bit, but its ecchi content might be pushing it.
If there is a border between hentai and ecchi, then for I Dream of Mimi that border is a faint, transparent line. Mimi’s powers come from a series of disks that must be inserted in the front and she turns DNA into RAM storage when it’s inserted in the back, if you catch my drift. It doesn’t clearly show actual penetration, but good luck trying to explain that to whoever walks in on you during one of these scenes.
A Day Before Us
43 episodes (2 minutes)
Heresy! A Day Before Us is a South Korean ONA series, so it’s technically not anime. Still, fans of romance anime would be denying themselves an interesting story by ignoring it for that reason.
The series follows 4 awkward adolescents as they try to navigate the tumultuous waters of budding romance. This is all set off by Ha-Eun meeting a strange yet captivating boy while seeking shelter from the rain and later discovering that they have a shared friend in the excitable artist Yeo-Reum, who is herself torn between 2 different boys that have a romantic interest in her.
These romantic trials move fast through the show’s 2-minute episodes and I admire how well it manages to characterize these kids in such a short time frame. Especially season 3 was interesting, as it acts as a prequel after season 2 has already wrapped up the romantic storylines. It focuses entirely on providing backstory and showing how these characters all came to know each other. I also have to say that I like the vibrant artstyle that mimics watercoloring and it was a fun experience to watch an entire show in Korean. I never had an opportunity to hear the language before and it made my time with the show that extra bit special.
This is a moody little short film about a little girl who is exploring her town during a rainy night and happens upon a rickety old robot. Sounds like material for a whimsical adventure, but Rain Town has a melancholic overtone to it that neatly balances out the story.
There is no spoken dialogue throughout the movie, but the creative artstyle and solid directing work communicates a lot of emotion and the movie manages to do a lot with its brief 10-minute runtime. I was enchanted by the animation and art, and felt that Rain Town touched the right emotional strings; I was very impressed with it. With that said, it might not appeal to people who seek out anime specifically because of its distinct look and feel. To those people, I’d recommend the Ghibli-like short film Control Bear by the same animator or his brief romantic comedy Fumiko’s Confession.
4 episodes, 45 minutes
I don’t recall the last time when a Wikipedia article on the source material was so much more thrilling than the anime adaptation. Doomed Megalopolis is based on Hiroshi Aramata’s novel of the same name, but attempts to make it edgier in order to appeal to fans of Legend of the Overfiend. Fans that were hopefully watching 3×3 Eyes, Guyver, or Toshio Maeda’s own Adventure Kid at the time instead.
The story is set in Tokyo where a demon disguised as a military officer is seeking revenge on the city by reviving an even greater demon, while a cast of spiritualists and intellectuals band together to stop him. The story is filled with boring folklore that goes largely unexplained and, while it has its moments, the OVA is overall paced like a mountain being eroded away by a river.
Already in the first episode I found myself struggling to stay interested. The story goes nowhere and is filled with uninteresting characters, while the visuals are horrendously bland. It has a few gore moments, but they too are kind of lackluster and definitely not worth the wait. I can’t say how well other adaptations or the original story hold up, but this OVA is at least not worth seeking out.
Hentai Bonus: Itadaki! Seieki
23 minutes + 4 minute special
Many will have seen this one around I bet. Itadaki! Seieki is a hentai OVA about a red-haired vampire girl called Mari who is kind of an airheaded klutz and doesn’t even really like the taste of blood much. After luring her schoolmate Kanzaki to a shed behind the school and failing to drink his blood, they figure that if any bodily fluids will work for her, than they may as well try sex instead.
Mari, it turns out, is kind of bad at sex, until Kanzaki starts thinking to himself how she could do better and she immediately adapts as if she is reading his mind. Her personality and even her body change to be more appealing to him, making for a surprisingly diverse hentai for its length, especially if you add in the bonus special.
It’s very well-animated and also benefits from some surprisingly funny moments, owing to Mari being such a fun and lovable character. This comedic tone makes Itadaki Seieki particularly memorable, but also leads to a lurching shift of tone in the second half of the OVA, when two of Kanzaki’s friends randomly decide to assault Mari and everybody is just kind of okay with that. It’s an uncomfortable twist and I guess you could argue that you shouldn’t think too much about the plot development and consistency of hentai, but Itadaki Seieki gives you reasons to actually watch the bits between sex scenes, only to then turn very weird for the final stretch.
Even so, if you are in the market for a short hentai video, then this one has some solid character design and animation, plenty of variety, and a few meme-worthy comedy bits in-between. That’s a lot more than I got out of the hentai bonus last time, that’s for sure.