ABOUT THE REVIEWS
Explanations are only given for categories that are not self-explanatory.
Rating: When available, the
official MPAA rating (G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17) is
given. In other cases the rating given is my own estimate. I also use two
additional ratings. PG-13: Mature reflects content that I feel is PG-13
in spirit but would technically get bumped to R in the
Factors contributing to a rating are given in parenthesis and may include:
· BN (Brief Nudity) – Includes cases where a character is seen nude but either undefined (i.e. no nipples or pubic region detail) or unexposed (back side shots, critical parts covered) or for only a split-second in the background.
· N (Nudity) – Defined nudity. Any nudity that is the focus of a scene automatically earns this rating instead of BN, no matter how brief.
· SSC (Strong Sexual Content) – Indicates graphic depiction of sex acts. No anime carrying this designation is appropriate for viewers under the age of 18!
· AC (Adult Content) – Most commonly indicates sexual innuendo or mildly suggestive scenes, such as fondling, panning shots of a girl/woman’s figure, panty shots, or suggested sex acts. Can also indicate mature themes that may be too complex for younger viewers or especially intense imagery that might be too much or too scary for younger viewers.
· AL (Adult Language) – Usually indicates profanity in the English dub, can also indicate particularly racy dialogue.
· V (Violence) – Violence at a cartoonish level or which involves no serious physical harm.
· GV (Graphic Violence) – Involves significant bloodshed and bodily harm, may also include graphic depictions of people being killed and/or especially intense violence. If a rape scene or attempted rape scene is involved, this will be noted in the Long View section.
· EG (Extreme Gore) – Used in cases where a GV rating alone isn’t sufficient. Indicates that the gore factor is high and pervasive. Any anime with this factor listed is probably not appropriate for many adults, much less anyone under 18.
· DU (Drug Use) – Rarely seen in anime, but it could pop up. . .
Grades under this heading break down as follows:
A - among the best in this category. An A+ grade indicates the best.
B - distinctly above average
C - run-of-the-mill; the anime does not distinguish itself in this category
D - distinctly below average
F - completely intolerable or unacceptable. Not worth watching.
Character/Mecha Design: Just as choosing the right actors can be crucial to the success or failure of a live-action movie, so is the artistic design of the characters (and, if present, the mecha) crucial to the success or failure of anime. For this reason the artists chiefly responsible for creating the characters and mecha are often listed prominently in the credits and advertisements for anime titles. Hence I feel it is appropriate to rate these categories separately from the overall Artistic Merits.
Animation: Titles that take shortcuts or use animation sparingly get graded lower in this category, so a lower grade does not necessarily mean that the overall fluidity of the animation is substandard; what animation is present could still be quite good. See the main body of the individual reviews for further details on specific cases.
Artistic Merits: An overall grade for artistry, which is based on quality of backgrounds, how smoothly the characters fit into the backgrounds, attention to detail, the “cleanness” of the artwork, and how visually appropriate and/or appealing the color scheme is.
English Dub: Grades overall quality of performances, how seamlessly the dub fits into the original animation, how appropriate the English voice actors are for the roles, and how effectively the performances capture the spirit and tenor of the series.
Songs: This category is only graded when the title includes songs other than the opening or closing theme for a series. In cases where a title has multiple songs, this is an overall grade.
Opener/Closer: These categories are only graded for series. Grade is based both on the song or theme music and the visuals, so closers that only play music while rolling the credits take a hit in this category. Also factored in is how well the opener or closer represents the tone and/or content of the series. In cases where the opener or closer changes over the course of the series, separate grades are given for alternate versions only if the change markedly affects the grade.
Content Grades: If a title has even the slightest content in one of these categories then it gets a grade. Grades in these categories do not necessarily reflect the amount of content of that type; they only reflect how affective and effective the content of that type is within the title. For instance, an otherwise-serious title which has only a handful of funny moments can still get a high Humor Content rating if the moments are really funny.
DVD Presentation: Grades the set-up and artistry of the menu screens, cover art, and packaging of the American DVD release. High grades are given for particular cleverness; low grades are given for a lack of imagination or for use of detrimental oddities in the formatting, such as not putting the openers and closers of a series episode in separate chapters. Any DVD that makes the “subtitling on/off” option separate from the language choices automatically gets a grade increase here!
DVD Extras: Grades the quality and extent of the extras included on the title’s DVD(s). An F grade in this category indicates no extras, while a D grade indicates that the extras consist of nothing beyond previews and a company Web site reference. A C grades indicates the additional inclusion of typical extras such as clean openers/closers, concept art, movie/TV trailers, and/or brief bio files on the characters and/or voice actors. Additional extras seen in titles with better grades include translation notes (the most prized extra for anime DVDs!), interviews with voice actors or key production personnel, more extensive bios, “behind the scenes” notes and/or clips, cultural notes, glossaries or encyclopedias, audio commentary, outtake/blooper clips, supplementary animation (known as omake), mini-games, and a plethora of other odd amusements and distractions for the viewer. Easter eggs embedded within the DVD automatically merit a higher than normal rating. Exact extras present are listed in the DVD Extras subheading, as are any special notes about DVD set-up. Language and subtitling options are expected features, so they will only be noted if more or less extensive than usual.
Overall: Grades my assessment of the title as a total package. Can be a weighted average of the above ratings, but this is not always the case.
Principle English Voice Actors: This is a listing of all significant roles in the series, which are generally defined as characters that have foreground speaking roles and some impact on the story (in features) or characters which have multiple lines in two or more episodes (in series). Voice Actors whose only parts fall under the “Additional Voices” listing in the credits are not listed here.