Writing up my ‘Watched but Not Reviewed’ list – which I have since realised is missing many titles – gave me the urge to revisit s-CRY-ed, or Scryed for simplicity’s sake. I had watched Scryed several times within a year – I had access to less than ten titles at the time, so pickins were slim. As I mentioned in the list, I remembered this series as wall-to-wall action and similar to Marvel’s Civil War. Is it as I remember? Let’s find out.
A geological phenomenon splintered a part of Japan, creating an isolated area called ‘The Lost Ground’ where people known as Alters have started to develop the ability to summon weapons. Kazuma is one such Alter working as a mercenary to care for himself and his sister in this lawless land. The mainland government to bring the law, however, and have recruited Alters looking for a better life in exchange for their services in capturing ‘Native Alters’. Kazuma soon meets Ryuho, elite member of the mainland order HOLY, igniting a rivalry for the history books.
The rivalry is the heart of Scryed. You’re probably thinking this is a rivalry like Naruto versus Sasuke, Ash versus Gary, or Yugi versus Seto ‘I have Money’ Kaiba. No, no, no, you don’t understand. Kazuma versus Ryuho is on another level. Nothing takes precedence. These guys hate each other by mere mention of the other’s name. It’s never quite clear why. When one tries to help the other, that help is refused with prejudice because you never, ever accept anything from your rival. A starving Kazuma would tell Ryuho to kill himself if he offered food. When these two are on screen, each line of dialogue from one is met by derision or anger from the other like a bitter couple that has been married for too long, yet have to see each other every day. Ryuho would rather murder a puppy than accept help from Kazuma. This rivalry sounds absurd, but it is so absurd that it loops back around to greatness and it gives us the most ridiculous final episode of any show I have ever seen. Only this rivalry could give us such insanity.
You need to be into the rivalry to enjoy Scryed fully. However, beyond that, the action is good, thanks in most part to creative powers. I like that the author didn’t simply give them pliable powers and call them mutants. Each power is a physical construct. Instead of super strength, for example, Kazuma materialises a power gauntlet with thrusters around his right arm. Ryuho’s Alter is a humanoid in a strait jacket that kills with the straps. The most creative power has to be from the guy who can manipulate people by writing a script in his book, which is a different take on classic mind control. These differentiating factors make Scryed feel fresh, even today. Wait until you meet the guy with the gun.
The characters are a mixed bag. Kazuma is a hooligan while Ryuho is a snooty highborn – fitting for the rivalry. My favourite character is Straight Cougar, who can transform any vehicle into a super car out of Wacky Racers or Redline in addition to operating at a faster level than everyone else. His philosophy is speed, because the faster you do things, the more time you save and thus the more you can accomplish in life. That’s my kind of philosophy. He has this running gag of mispronouncing people’s names by one letter. Even after hearing this joke several times an episode, every episode, it still makes me laugh because it’s sharp and timed perfectly amidst regular dialogue. I love this character. His interactions with MinoriMimori, a researcher of Alters in love with Ryuho, are a delight.
Mimori is a serviceable character. The fact that her purpose isn’t just to be a love interest makes her more interesting. Where the cast falters is in some of the lesser Alters, who are merely filling bodies, and in Kazuma’s younger sister, Kanami. She is the narrator, of sorts, with her power to read the thoughts and emotions of others while dreaming. All she does is tell us Kazuma’s emotions that we can already see on screen… Pointless. Her inclusion is to give Kazuma something to protect, which is fine, but she has too much screen time for a clichéd younger-but-is-the-adult-in-the-house girl.
The story is where my memory went most wrong. I thought it was akin to Civil War, when its arc is the opposite, really. The Alters start divided between the lawless and HOLY. HOLD (owners of HOLY) treats the Lost Ground citizens like trash, arrested and tortured with no hesitation, eventually leading some to question if they are on the correct side. Real estate moguls want to develop the area, but the natives are a problem. I recalled Scryed as consisting of 90% action as well. In truth, though there is plenty of action, the story has much more to it than I remembered with character development, changing motives, and conflict to keep thing interesting.
A revisit of Scryed was a pleasant surprise. I expected nothing but nostalgia to keep me going. Instead, I finished the series and enjoyed every episode. That ending…
Art – Medium
The style is the same as the later released Gundam SEED though lacks visual depth and the animation is wonky at times. Interesting designs for the powers.
Sound – Medium
Clumsy exposition. The first line to the research scientist is someone telling her that she graduated seven years early. The acting is serviceable for the content, with a few great performances, but the Japanese acting for Kazuma and Ryuho is terrible. I like the ED – brings back memories.
Story – Medium
A mysterious phenomenon gifted select people with Alter powers, which has ignited a conflict for control over this ‘Lost Ground’ with free mercenaries on one side and organised Alters on the other. Scryed’s embodiment of testosterone in an eternal rivalry is entertaining and varied enough to warrant interest.
Overall Quality – Medium
Recommendation: For action fans. If you want hyper-action, yelling out names, bitter rivalry, and cool powers, look no further than Scryed.
For most of this site’s early reviews, I revisited anime I had already seen to build a solid foundation. However, rewatching so many episodes was time-consuming and in the end, I had to skip a number of series that were either too long or not interesting enough to warrant a review.
This article will be a list of brief reviews, of sorts, from memory as I consider whether it’s worth going back to any for full review. (I’ve likely forgotten a dozen more titles.)
Agent Aika is the sole anime that’s honest about panty visibility with the length of anime skirts. Finding a safe for work image for this article was a challenge (the secret was in the camera angle…). Aika is some Charlie’s Angel-type working as a salvager and has a magical transformation – if you can call being molested to near nudity a magical transformation (too weird for words) – to fight off other groups. It’s a garbage show with more panty shots than sense, story, and substance combined.
This is a weird one. I remember Argento Soma being similar to the animated film The Iron Giant, except that the giant is an alien and one girl falls in love with it (I think). The protagonist is some emo, which created this slow and depressing atmosphere that bored me. I barely remember Argento Soma.
Spinning top battles. The Japanese can turn any idea into an anime. Interestingly enough, Beyblade isn’t as out there as you would imagine. The Japanese play a spinning top duel game called Beigoma, which you can see here on Begin Japanology (love this show). Of course, you can’t issue commands to your Beyblade top as they can in the anime. Beyblade is about a collective people sharing in a delusion that you can yell at a spinning top to turn on the ‘Eye of the Tiger’, calling upon a spirit inside the top. This anime sucks. I ended up watching every episode in broken chunks each morning because of my younger brother.
A friend of mine was obsessed with Black Cat – ‘best anime ever’ obsessed. In the face of such obsession, I had to watch it. And…I still don’t get it a decade later. Why did he love Black Cat so much? Why? I never got a clear answer. This bounty hunter anime is bland, forgettable, with no reason for recommendation. All I properly remember of the story is one moment in the finale when a character transforms into a hideous blimp of a woman – literally a blimp – and a girl looks up and says, “Wow, so beautiful!” Still makes me laugh.
The art style for Blassreiter drew my initial interest, but it was worth nothing in the end. The plot is similar to Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress with the protagonist infected by the cybernetic enemies, but in control of himself and his powers. Belongs in the slush pile.
What a crapfest… No anime knows how to pad the story better than Bleach does. For those who haven’t seen this, the plot maintains momentum for two arcs ending in the reveal of the true villain, and what follows is nearly 300 episodes of padding. The filler is filler. The canon is filler. Everything is filler in Bleach. It throws one enemy after the other at Ichigo and company amid power resets every few seasons. Very Low rating. (Since been reviewed here.)
Of all the anime on this list, Cardcaptor Sakura is one of the better titles. The first season is a typical monster-of-the-week format with Sakura capturing spirits for her card deck, but the second season goes into a proper story that works. Young girls will love Cardcaptor Sakura in particular.
Another CLAMP title. A boy finds an abandoned android assistant, but unlike the other ‘Persocoms’, she seems to have consciousness. Despite powering on the android by going to second base, Chobits is a timid romance that meanders to no payoff. Typical shallow anime romance.
Crest of the Stars & Banner of the Stars
I liked this one. Crest of the Stars is a mix of Martian Successor Nadesico and Escaflowne following a human and an alien elf princess on the run amid a war between their peoples. I won’t revisit this because apart from having too many episodes, a dozen other anime do a better job today. Maybe if the visuals were appealing I would make the effort.
Devil May Cry
Where is Dante’s charm? Play the game instead.
Dragon Ball Z
I am not watching this behemoth again. I saw Dragon Ball Z more times than most in my teen years, but it has been many years since I’ve had anything good to say about this repetitive, plodding battle shounen. Goku ranks among the worst characters in fiction. The future Trunks standalone movie is good, being the only Dragon Ball Z story with consequences and no filler. I recommend that piece.
Gunbuster is bad. Geneshaft is the same anime, yet somehow worse.
I have seen GetBackers two or three times already, so this should receive a full review, no? Well, I may have enjoyed it plenty an eon ago, but I can predict what I would think of it now. In this world, super powered humans work in pairs for various professions, (thieves, bounty hunters, bodyguards, typical shady jobs) clashing with other duos on every assignment. The powers are cool – glasses guy can force illusions upon others akin to Sharingan, which is a favourite power type of mine – the action is decent, and I recall hilarious comedy. Unfortunately, after several mission-of-the-week episodes, everyone enters a cyberpunk slum monolith controlled by an emo kid with tech powers, at which point it becomes boring. GetBackers does have the accolade of best use of sudden chibi art for protagonist Ginji. (Since been reviewed here.)
This belongs on the worst anime list. An all-boy school pervs on an all-girl school after they merge for ‘psychological stimuli’. I thought Green Green was hilarious in high school. I was also an idiot. Hey, at least the main relationship has more progress than most anime romances.
.hack was the original Sword Art Online. Except it wasn’t. An anime about a no-life kid trapped in a VR MMO with a Guardian item that destroys anyone who tries to attack him should be an action, intrigue, and wonder filled romp, a slam-dunk success. What we have instead is a bunch of noobs sitting around chatting about nothing. .hack is the most boring anime ever made. You’ll be a puddle of ooze by the end. That said, the soundtrack – the soundtrack! – oh boy, let me tell you about the soundtrack. 10 out of 10. Phenomenal. It deserves a better anime. (Since been reviewed here.)
Garbage harem. A bunch of girls wants to shag harem protagonist guy because his special mayonnaise, when ingested vaginally, will produce powerful magical kids.
Maria Watches Over Us
Maria Watches Over Us started the yuritopia craze – anime set in all-girl schools (often Catholic, because, you know, all love a repressed girl gone naughty) where everyone is a lesbian and conflict doesn’t exist. As the yuritopia moniker suggests, these anime are snorefests. Neither sexy nor deep, neither engaging nor fun, Maria Watches Over Us has nothing going for it.
What an ugly anime. Clichés and a terrible protagonist destroy any appeal, even once you get past the art.
The early 2000s had many anime sporting girls/women with guns, usually with a sombre, psychological tone about their traumatised states of mind from all the killing. Noir, like its sister series, doesn’t quite hit the mark. It wallows too much in self-pity. Twenty-six episodes is too long for a story so thin on content.
Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva
I love the Layton games. Their charm, quirky characters, storybook art, mysteries, and puzzles make them a delight. Eternal Diva doesn’t succeed in many of these qualities. It looks like the games, but not much more. The mystery doesn’t engage as it should and the puzzle element feels clumsy. It’s okay, at most.
Read or Die TV
Three bookish sisters can control paper, which is one cool power and what attracted me to Read or Die. I wish it had substance and that the sisters had more than their one defining trait. I’m told the OVA prequel is superior. I may check that out.
I went into Scrapped Princess thinking it was an adventure similar to Orphen or Fullmetal Alchemist. It’s not. Two warrior siblings escort their outcast younger sister on a rather dull adventure. I mostly remember the twist for the final act, which was a good idea, though the poor build up weakened its impact.
s-CRY-ed, now this was my jam! I loved this anime. I don’t remember much of the plot. I think it was like Marvel’s Civil War, where anyone with powers must work for the government while rebel supernaturals live in a lawless zone, or some such. Regardless, the action was where it mattered. s-CRY-ed is wall-to-wall crazy action and ridiculous characters, to the best of my memory. With a title like s-CRY-ed it had better be. You know, I think I’ll give this a full review. It may shatter my fond memories, but perhaps it might be just as fun as I remember. (Since been reviewed here)
Searching for the Full Moon
This was in the top 10 on some anime database a decade ago, so of course I had to watch it. Gee willikers, I was in for a great time! Only 52 episodes? Give me more! … A few episodes in, I wanted to end it all in a hail of bullets. Searching for the Full Moon is about a little girl with throat cancer whose dream is to be a popstar. Lucky for her, the shinigami that come to collect her soul instead decide to transform her into a 16 year old so she can sing. Apart from embodying the usual emotionally manipulative schlock of its genre, Searching for the Full Moon teaches awful morals to little girls, the target audience. Forget hard work, effort and merit – if you wish hard enough, everything will be okay! Watch Kodocha instead.
Stellvia of the Universe
Geneshaft but with a slice of life leaning, Stellvia of the Universe is a sleeping drug – a mercy, if you ask me, with that character design. This anime should have had that ‘cosy’ feeling I love from the likes of Gundam SEED. It doesn’t.
Suzuka was the first anime I streamed online. Back then, studios would put entire series on YouTube to watch for free. The ease of access made me watch all 26 episodes in a day, even though it was your average high school drama. Worst part? It’s incomplete. You have to read the manga, which I’ve heard takes all sorts of dramatic turns.
I’m fairly certain Vandread was in the first 10 anime I watched. I’m not sure why I chose this above all other great titles available. Must have been a random choice. I completed both seasons in quick succession because it was anime. I don’t know what I would think of Vandread today. The premise screams of trash. Men and women have lived on separate planets for generations (they reproduce through cloning, if I recall), becoming alien to each other to the point of going to war. An incident forces a crew of men onto the same ship as a crew of women for some comedy hijinks. Perhaps I’ll revisit Vandread when bored. (Update: Reviewed)
Yes, Witchblade is based on the American comics featuring a woman with the minimum amount of coverage not to fall in the ‘nude’ category. Unlike Agent Aika however, Witchblade is a decent anime. It has a solid protagonist in the mother doing all she can for her daughter as they stay on the run from the government and evil organisations. She can transform into the Witchblade, which makes her a target. This is worth your time if you want some fun action with an older protagonist that is easy on the eyes. Medium rating. (Since been reviewed here.)
Marvel licensed out several properties for anime conversion at one time. They are all straightforward adaptations without any surprises, incorporating Japan as the location, to forgettable success. These Marvel anime are too generic. Except for Blade – that’s straight trash.
You’re Under Arrest
This police comedy comes from the same author as Ah! My Goddess. It’s very much a comedy of its time, the 90s. Leave it in the archives unless you love that era.
It’s time to duel! Alright, here’s what you do: watch a season or just a few episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh to get a feel for its ludicrous world of a children’s card game. Then, go watch Yu-Gi-Ohthe Abridged Series. That fan series made by one guy is comedy gold up to the conclusion of the main story. As for the anime, it is goofy fun designed to sell you on the real card game. I’m unsure if the overdramatic duels are intentionally or accidentally hilarious.
I have reviewed Zoids: New Century Zero, a fun battle anime about 3-on-3 duels with robot dinosaurs. Zoids proper features an ongoing adventure story instead of the battle format. Typically, that’s a good idea…if you have a good story and likeable characters. Zoids is a forgettable shounen you should forgo in favour of New Century for some genuine fun.
So, that’s the list, excepting Neon Genesis Evangelion, whose review is on the way out now. Only the insanity of s-CRY-ed (review) tempts me to go back, and perhaps Vandread (review)– that premise must result in a so-bad-its-good anime, surely. As for the rest, I’d rather venture into new territory than retread old ground I probably wouldn’t have much fun with today. My ‘plan to watch’ list is long enough as it is. Speaking of, I’m devising a technique to clear a large chunk of the backlog in a month or so once my current work is complete. Having 200 titles waiting in line makes me anxious. I need a leap in progress. And soon.