Saturday, June 30 2007

Anime Review: Shingu

Before I get started with my review, let me declare the first rule on anime:  The odds of any two people agreeing in their opinion on what anime series are good is almost zero.  If you want recommendations as to what's good to watch, I can give you my opinion, but take it with a grain of salt because we will more likely disagree than agree.  Even if we agree on most series, there are bound to be one or two series I love but you can't stand and vice versa.

I first heard about Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars from a posting on Chizumatic.  Stephen Den Beste's review was positively glowing.  Then, one by one, other anime bloggers picked up the series and all turned in highly positive reviews of a series I'd never heard of.  Intrigued by both the reviews and the description of it as a conspiracy-filled sci-fi comedy, I picked it up and promptly got hooked myself.

The series, while not destined to become a classic, is one of the most fun series I've watched in a long time.  I'm pleased to say that the reviews were correct.  The plot varies smoothly between light-hearted and dramatic, the characters are likable and both drive and are changed by the plot.  The animation quality is pretty good but not great, and the retro-style works very well with the series concept.  Although a full-length series, this is likely to go into my stable of rainy-day anime.

Note:  the following contains deliberately vague spoilers for series Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars.

Overall Rating:  B+
Story: B+  The story has some minor issues that can be overlooked.  I was pleasantly surprised that my plot sense was thrown off by some of the deliberate red herrings thrown in, but some of the events were cliche.
Main Characters: A  The main characters are all likable once you get to know them, and they develop as the story progresses, and none of them turn out to fit well into any of the annoying cliche stereotypes.
Supporting Cast:  A  The supporting cast is very well done, with developed personalities.  My biggest complaint is that a lot of the supporting cast doesn't get enough screen time.
Villain:  C  Given the amount of red herrings in the plot, getting to the final showdown takes a while with a couple of detours along the way, so its understandable that the showdown is a bit rushed, and occurs with little buildup.
Humor:  A  The series is enjoyably funny, and the humor by and large dervies from character interaction, rather than slapstick or sight gags (although there are occasional instances of both).
Action:  C  The series is a comedy, but it is a sci-fi comedy with a plot supposedly centered around fighting giant monsters from space, and the relatively quick and underwhelming action was a bit of a disappointment.  A couple of the action scenes are quite good, though brief.
Drama:  B- The series makes use of the conspiracy-filled plot to set up a fair amount of character drama between many of the characters.  Some of the relationships seem forced at first, but by the end of the series the character interaction works very well.
OP and ED:  D-  The opening sequence is flat, and the ending is so plain as to be outright dull.
Fun Factor:  A  Between the likable characters, the outright twists in the plot, and the humor, this was an outright fun series to watch.

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