Other Review Sources
The `meta' in my page comes from the fact that I freely leach^H^H^H^H^H cite from other sources. It's not too suprising, it was these sites that made me realise that the world of anime is wide, exotic and exciting... as opposed to the handful of dusty titles at the video store. As a result I grazed happily through reviews of titles I could only dream of seeing. Although to be honest that's still the case.
And as such i'd like to share them with you, and credit them. This includes both sites I source from, sites I respect and informational sites where I go hunting for data on a new titles. Sites are organised by category, and then by alphabetical order. If you know a site that isn't on this list, but deserves recognition, feel free to mail me.
Note that I don't include commercial review sites. While i'm amused by their willingness to be positive about every title they sell it's a pretty worthless source for objective reviews. Likewise sites that are collections of reader reviews are not included. With so much variation in style and quality it's too hard to work out the bias and quality of any given reviewer.
These are the sites this site wants to grow up to be like. Foundations of the online anime review. If you have any interest in an anime review you've either been there or have missed a rich source of quality reviews. Is this subtle enough? go visit them now.
They're also the sites I checked when I watched a title. It was very interesting to me how the various sites, and my own thoughts would often deviate a lot. After all, there is no such thing as an `ultimate' review. And, being quality sites, they all support their arguments which generally means they are all valid ways to view the title. My original site was based around gathering links to these reviews and looking for consensus between the reviews (the source of the meta-review part of the title). This became even more interesting when I started to write my own reviews.
As a result I owe a great deal to these quality sites. Both for informing me about new anime (and proving there was great stuff out there) and making me think more deeply about what I was watching. Even better these kind people, once my site started to grow a bit more serious, acknowledged my linking to their reviews. In addition these reviewers have been polite (more than I deserved) and supportive when e-mailed.
Undoubtably one of the most important online anime sites. A wealth of anime info, services and an active reader community even before the reviews themselves are considered. The popularity of this site being well represented by some truly obscene hit numbers (web site jealousy running rampant :) it has generated. And the reviews themselves are impressive with a large number of titles covered, long and perceptive reviews and lots of supporting information for each title. It's also attractively and conveniently presented.
From my experience they're tolerant of a wide variety of genres and styles and are receptive to slower, artistic or shoujo oriented titles. It sort of makes sense, given the long and perceptive reviews they like a title with either depth or meat on it...although in some cases their reviews are almost longer than the entire script of the title. In general the site seems relatively positive, if it slams a title then there's a good chance it's a shocker. The site has roughly 200 reviews, with about 30 of these being reader submitted. At last count 49 of my pages link to a review on Akemi's.
An extremely elegant page with a quite reasonable number of solid reviews. The anime critic has made the decision to focus on commercially released anime which somewhat limits his scope. On the other hand it means he has good coverage and supporting information for the titles you can actually buy (well, assuming you're in America). It also means he is willing to review hentai, although he does not have a large number of these reviews as yet. In addition he only reviews titles once he has completely viewed them, leading to each review being fairly authoritative. There's also a gentle sense of humor to the page which makes it pleasant reading.
While he disagree's I felt I detected a certain `action' bias in his reviews, being more positive of titles willing to put on a display and get some pace going. There also seems to be a preference for fantasy or sci-fi which links nicely with this. His reviews also seem to be based on the consideration of someone who bought this material, so he's quite willing to be critical of a title that can only manage `average'. That said his responses are fairly considered and balanced and worth taking notice of. He has over 150 reviews, with about 10 hentai reviews. At last count 53 of my pages link to a review on the Anime Critic's website.
Lord Carnage's review page is simply great fun to visit...although you've got to turn java (yech) on to fully experience the weirdness that this site includes. The site also has a definite flair for the eclectic, with Lord Carnage seemingly intending to review every anime in existence...and some of these are awfully obscure. There's also occasional input from `Herself the Elf' (his sister) who sometimes offers a quite different opinion or actually writes the review when carnage has obviously fled the room. Although i'm sure the opposite happens too. The site fairly beams with the energy of a true anime fan.
The reviews don't seem to be too concerned with being super objective, which is actually quite a good basis to review from. The site is quite happy to put the boot (often very amusingly) to a title that doesn't make the cut. The site also seems to have a taste for weird titles, fan favourites and titles that generate a sense of energy. Mundane or slow titles don't seem to be quite as popular, although Carnage's tastes are nothing if not eclectic. He also seems willing to sample `dodgy' titles that many other reviewers simply won't bother with. The site contains about 400 reviews (many pages hold multiple reviews) although many are quite short. At last count 71 of my pages link to a review on Lord Carnage's website.
Anime Movie Guide (Book)
If you clicked on the link you'll have noticed that this ain't much of a web-site. It's not that great a book either, but considering how rare collected info on Western Anime titles is i've found it a very useful purchase. It covers all OAV's and movies (here's hoping she does a TV version) in the period from 1983 to 1995, which means that many popular titles fall outside the period or scope. I don't really agree with that many of the reviews and a lot of the titles have `estimated' reviews or indeed no review at all. On the other hand if you think you've seen every anime title there is then this book should still deliver up lots of clues for new stuff.
I have 22 citations to this source, although obviously in this case they are not available on line.
Don't be discouraged by the grey appearance and the rather brutally efficient interface, this site is worthy of exploration. It's also one of the few sites to allow titles to be viewed by genre. Behind this facade are a goodly number of reviews, many of them being quite interesting and obscure titles. And while some of the reviews are not immense in size the newer ones, and revised older ones, are quite sizable. In addition the site doesn't spend much time on synopsis, allowing the review to focus on quality and importance of the title. The style is generally a touch dry, but more than makes up for this in being knowledgeable and very fair and calm even for titles that he doesn't really like. There's also some obsure treasures on this page, as befits one of the older review sites I source from. At last count 24 of my pages have links to reviews on this site.
Note that this site doesn't use a 5 star grading system, but a more expressive system well described on the first page of the site. For convenience I compressed this down to a rating, but you will get more out of it if you visit the site and read the rating system. I also got an e-mail explaining that I had over-simplified it, and the site author helpfully offered this conversion guide, for which I am grateful.
The first review site I found, and without doubt one of the best review sites on the internet. When it looked like the page was comatose, something that thankfully turned out to be temporary, the idea of losing access to this material was terrifying. The page has a rich collection of links and miscellanea much of which is very illuminating and amusing, with THEM having a strong sense of humor. The current page design brings the concept of minimal HTML to a new level (at least on my browser) but is very accessible. Don't let it put you off though, it's only a place to pass through on the way to the reviews.
And while at about 300 reviews they might not have the largest number, and Akemi generally has longer reviews, these are exemplary reviews. To begin with they have a readable, memorable and often gently humorous style. They're also eclectic, having reviews for all sorts of titles you won't find elsewhere. This includes a willingness to explore and enjoy shoujo or slower titles. And, finally, the reviews are often perceptive, willing to find novel viewpoints on even well known titles, and very fair. Be warned however that their `suitability' advice is pretty strict, although I guess it makes sense to take this approach. Also, some of their reviews have been watched in a group environment which can lead to one `element' of the title dominating the review. This is pretty rare though. In general the reviews are so well written and perceptive that they're enjoyable reading even if you never expect to see the title. At the current time I have 94 pages that link to a review on their site.
It's also worth mentioning that THEM is actually a fan-group. Which motivates their reviews and gives them a pool of writers. Normally I consider this a negative, as it makes it hard to get the `character' of the review bias. However given the quality of THEM, the fact that the majority of the reviews are by a small subset of THEM, and shared taste / editorial control it doesn't seem to be a problem.
These sites probably contain reviews as well, and in most cases they're worth visiting for that reason alone. However what makes them really valuable is the large amount of data that has either accumulated or been gathered within these pages. As any serious anime fan will know collected, organised and accurate information is hard to find. This is especially true for information that steps past the narrow range that is commercially available. These sites are ones that I have found helpful when hunting information on either a specific title or about the width of material that has been covered in anime.
Wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. Having suffered through the Anime Movie Guide, and feeling ripped off by the Erotic Anime Movie Guide, this tome has completely redeemed the authors. This sizable book capitalizes on the strength of the authors research and the desperate need for solid data on the immense number of anime titles that exist. And it's here in shovel sized amounts. Creators, episode numbers, solid synopsis and the often complicated history some of these titles have followed before coming to the attention of the western market. For those who want to hunt out obscure titles, or understand the true width of the anime medium, this book is invaluable.
And, even better, the format is extremely accessible. For one thing it's got a much wider historical span. Not only does it replace the rapidly aging anime movie guide but it also goes into much earlier anime than that volume. And, in a huge advance, it also contains information on television anime. Meanwhile it is ordered by name, rather than the movie guides questionable decision to order by date, and contains some good indices to make finding the information you want much easier. The index also helping decode the many names an anime title tends to gather over time and translation. Great stuff, cleanly designed, well printed and with really no competition.
If I had to indicate a negative, just for balance, it would be that it has changed from being a review guide to an information source. Some of Helen McCarthy's views, which I generally find little agreement with, still shine through but in general the tone is neutral and data centric. The titles are not rated in any way. As such while it is superb for those who want facts (such as, um, people who have anime review web sites) it might be less useful for those who want to know what to watch next. Although in all honesty the synopsis of the show really does go a long way towards helping selection. Although I am envious of the anime fan who has a chance to find even 20% of the material covered in this sizable book.
to be reviewed in the near future
This has quickly become the authoritative site for worldwide info on anime DVD releases. And since this media is well suited to anime, and popular with fans and companies, it looks like it's importance will only continue to grow. And, on visiting, it's not too suprising. The site is detailed, complete and practical. It includes all sort of information and includes title reviews. Mind you these reviews often focus on the technical quality of the DVD rather than the content. As a result, for the purposes of this page, it's considered to be an information site. Still, absolutely worth a visit.
Yes, it's a book, so no online links. I wrote a review of this book for the Hentai anime FAQ, which i'll reproduce here.
When considering erotic anime good information is both needed (there's no shortage of stuff to avoid) and hard to come by (since many sources won't cover the domain). Thus the "Erotic Anime Movie Guide", by Helen Mc Carthy & Johnathan Clements (ISBN:1-185286-946-1) seemed like a promising possibility. Even though, being sold at a comic specialty store, it was expensive and shrink-wrapped.
Which is a shame, because the contents are not quite what you might expect. Especially given that it shares the style, and one of the authors, from the more useful "Anime movie guide". The first thing is that about 2/3 of this slim volume (190 pages) is actually filled with `film studies' essays on various elements of erotic anime. While some of these are interesting to serious students of anime history, although there are some doubtful arguments, they're not actually much use for understanding erotic anime. The subjects are old news and well known by most anime fans (U-jin,Go-Nagai,Overfiend etc.).
Even more disappointing is the list of 200 reviews provided. A lot of these have only a marginal erotic content, or are provided to back up arguments made in the essays. Thus titles such as Dirty Pair, Gunbuster, Doreamon and Oh My Goddess have reviews, despite requiring a lot of imagination to see these as `erotic anime'. And there are lots more titles that simply don't belong in this book. The remaining reviews tend to be well known, commercially released, titles that are largely synopsis rather than commentary.
While this is an interesting book, especially to someone interested in the history and development of erotic anime, it is largely useless as a guide to the genre. Those planning a purchase should definitely find a copy to look through first.
How can I write something yet, I haven't even seen all of his site yet. The things huge!
to be reviewed in the near future
While initially the multitude of options on the front page is confusing it is worth persevering. Not because the interface gets less complex, but because you realise there's an immense amount of material in the database from which it is generated. And this includes interesting information on titles you won't see on any other anime page. The reach and breadth of this page really must be seen to be believed. And while the reviews are great, although perhaps a bit small or variable at times (probably since in some cases they come from other sources) the wealth of material, and support information is what makes this an invaluable site. It's also an English site, leading to it being a nice balancer and having information on anime screened in England and Europe.
This is his description of his own site: Contains anime reviews (some illustrated), manga reviews (mostly illustrated), and general Japan info, scripts, synopses, miscellaneous information. Shoujo anime and manga are featured. TV Anime from European satellites is also featured.
A quick glance at the list of review sites on the anime turnpike will reveal that there's a sizable number of possibilities. However a more detailed search will reveal the normal number of dead links, a sizable number of dead sites and a reasonable number of sites where reality did not quite measure up to ambition. Not too much of a suprise, writing reviews is a time consuming and relatively minor element of anime fandom.
Even with this reality there are a number of sites that either stand out as having value or the potential for value. And given that the turnpike list gives no indication of quality (or even existence) I thought i'd mention some of them here. In many cases these sites are similar to my original vision, giving hints and links rather than long reviews, and they generally don't have the width or depth of my source sites. That said, the more reviews available for a title you're considering the better informed you'll be.
I'd also ask anyone looking over this list to please e-mail me if you notice that the site has died. While i'm not going to spend too much time on this list there's little point in keeping a page full of dead links. Likewise if you've noticed a quality anime review site (and only review sites please) that's missing i'd love a pointer.
This site was originally one of my source sites, and there's still lots of good material to be had. That said it spent a lot of time semi-dormant and now has a bad case of .com disease. So much energy is being extended in so many avenues other than the vital task (well, from this pages point of view :) of reviewing anime. The reviews also show signs of different authors but are not credited, making learning their `style' more difficult. Even so, well worth a visit and you might find their other services even more valuable than their reviews.
Only recently open to the public (I was visitor 100 and something) this site is rich in possibility rather than being complete now. On the positive side it has some interesting titles amongst a reasonable number of reviews. On the downside the reviews are shorter than one would like and the reviewers seem to find it difficult to review an anime that doesn't interest them. Here's hoping the site continues to grow.Anime lines you won't hear.