Shuji and Chise are high school seniors in a small town who have just started dating when Shuji discovers that Chise has been engineered by the SDF so that she can transform herself into a powerful weapon. While Shuji and... more » Chise keep trying to nurture their relationship, Chise continues to grow even more powerful as the Ultimate Weapon, and becomes increasingly torn between being a destructive fighting force and remaining an ordinary teenager. What do you do when the girl you love becomes a weapon of mass destruction? Bilingual Japanese & English, with optional English subtitle,scene access menu, line-art gallery, Interviews with the creator, director, voice actors, Making of featurette, Special Footage, Production art and more!« less
Alejandra C. (Minioda) from GARLAND, TX Reviewed on 3/30/2008...
This series is amazing. I can't say much about it without ruining it for you but I enjoyed it and all it's strong emotions.
I wept like a baby.
Joshua Irwin | Dover, DE USA | 05/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If your looking for an action series look elsewhere.
This series started off slow for me. I was expecting a mech action anime. I was not expecting a deep and moving multiangled love story. This anime by Gonzo is one of those must haves that will have you feeling sorrowful days after completing it. The line in the last episode "you have this much love for me in your heart" got me crying and I couldn't stop. No one was around so I went with it. This is one of only three movies/shows that have ever made me cry. My Dog Skip, Radio Flyer and now Saikano. If you do not have this in your collection buy it now."
It's a deep-meaning/romantic theme, not an action/sci-fi peo
Sera | Georgia | 04/22/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This anime is one of my all-time favorites. People who are picking this up for action have clearly mis-assumed the plot. The story is meant to be meaningful, deep, emotional, and "romantic". It explores life and what love realistically is. It's meant to make you question things.
I highly recommend this for mature audiences. It's dramatic, so if you don't like drama, then this isn't for you. But, like I said, if you like love stories and meaningful plots, then by all means, get this! It's beautiful!"
She: The Ultimate Cry-Baby
Aion | England | 10/13/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This series ended up being very disappointing. Echoing the thoughts of others who have the same views about Saikano, it tried hard to be a tragic romance story and turned out to be more boring than depressing - it didn't make me watery eyed. There are series that depress viewers without making it obvious the plan is to pull on the viewers heart strings and there are series that make it so obvious that you expect people to die just to get a reaction, and Saikano is the latter.
Before watching I thought it was going to turn out to be a winner in my eyes - Great looking box/DVD art, a depressing sounding story, short length and only a £10 fee required to own the series. I couldn't see how, for such a small amount of money, a fairly highly rated show could fail to meet my expectations. But, sadly for me, Saikano got all the basics wrong.
It's a shame because the story had a lot of potential: In the Saikano world Japan is losing a war against a nameless country. The Japanese government decide to make an ultimate weapon to change their fortunes, and they pick Chise, a 17 year old girl with poor grades and physical abilities, to be that weapon. She has to deal with the fact her body has become a weapon of mass destruction and, at the same time, come to terms with being in love for the first time.
The first problem the series has is terrible pacing. The first half of the series left me feeling like nothing had happened; like events simply kept repeating themselves in slightly different ways each episode. Chise cried, she had a talk with Shuji (her boyfriend), Chise cried some more, Chise then went off to fight (without the fighting getting shown since that would require money) and the episode ended. The script for each of the early episodes had very little variation, and the characters started saying fake sounding rubbish (such as talking about kids and marriage after being together for 1 week...), which made the show a difficult one to stick with.
Even though the relationship between the main two failed miserably for the most part, the series still could've saved itself if the sci-fi elements had been explained in convincing fashion. However, almost as you'd expect after seeing how badly the pacing and love side was handled, the sci-fi parts of the story weren't explained at all. Chise, seemingly not caring a great deal, reveals to Shuji that she, a useless girl who can't get anything right, was turned into some kind of humanoid weapon that can grow rockets out of her back...and that she forgot to ask any important details after having her body irreversibly transformed. From start to finish, that's all you learn about why a pathetic school girl was turned into a living weapon. And, worst of all, it's never even revealed who Japan is supposed to be involved in a war with, as if such a minor detail doesn't matter.
If a story is going to work it needs to be explained. Simply expecting viewers to believe that an annoying high school girl (who happens to look eight) would be forcefully turned into a weapon instead of a consenting adult is stupidity of the highest order. How was I supposed to care about the events that occurred if the story seemed far too daft to take seriously?
I suppose the damage the snail pacing, fake/generic dialogue and completely unbelievable story did could've been lessened if the characters made me care about them. After all, the key to making a viewer feel something when characters die is to build up their attachment beforehand. But Saikano failed to make me care enough about any of the cast to make me feel anything. Chise acted pathetically, crying at every available opportunity and being a doormat for Shuji whenever possible. Shuji was a plain guy with glasses who managed to get three of the opposite gender, including an older woman, after him...and he played around. Akemi, who was probably the best of a bad bunch, was only there to support Chise and be another female who longed for the glasses wearing male lead. None of them did anything for me; I was almost willing the main two to be killed at times!
Aside from the pacing, story and characters (not much really!), the other thing that bugged me about Saikano was the art. For reasons known only to more intelligent people than myself, the characters have a blushing effect going on 24/7 in Saikano...well, either that or Earthlings in the Saikano world have red lines on their faces by default. And the face weirdness didn't stop there; the faces all look silly from the sides due to the way the noses are drawn so small. If you mix those two issues with a lack of animation then you have a problem, and Saikano shouldn't have had problems (at least not with the animation) visually when it's only 13 episodes long. The only plus on the looks side was the excellent use of eye-catching colours.
As for the music, the less said the better. The only theme that has managed to stick in my memory is the guitar theme that plays on the DVD menus. I don't even remember the opening and ending themes. The soundtrack failed to draw any emotion out of me, which is quite a serious flaw for an anime that wants to play with my feelings.
Overall, Saikano disappointed more than it pleased. I almost dropped it after the first 6 episodes, only ending up continuing to see if the end made up for the first half. Although there was a considerable amount of improvement once the same episode stopped seeming to keep repeating itself and the plot actually started to give me the feeling it was going somewhere, the content wasn't good enough to save what had been an awful series up until that point. And the series wasn't even able to end in style, with the ending being rushed (the world was ending all of a sudden, for no reason) and the conclusion to the events making little to no sense.
After the World Ends, It Lingers
Lisa T. Davis | Elkton, MD USA | 10/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It seems odd to love a story that spirals relentlessly toward its grim conclusion. It's no spoiler to reveal things don't exactly end happily ever after; the subtitle is perfectly accurate. Saikano is not rosy, escapist, shoujo (or even shounen) fare. It packs an emotional punch.
The setting is a small, seaside town in rural Hokkaido (that big northern island in the Japan Archipelago). Chise and Shuji are classmates. Neither is particularly remarkable. Both are awkward and shy. Chise is small, slow, clumsy, not terribly bright and apologises for everything. She has tended to be sickly and has a hard time making it up Hell Hill to school each day. But she's cute. And genuine. Shuji used to be on the track team. He's quiet, uncertain of himself, a little bristly, sort of cool, sort of directionless and disaffected. Chise worked up the courage to ask Shuji to be her boyfriend. He agreed. Thus they begin.
Shuji narrates their story, and the primary device is an exchange diary Chise asks him to write with her. She is a more conscientious contributor than he, and through her words, reveals things she cannot bring herself to say face to face.
"Normal" does not last long for this improbable pair. For reasons we never learn, Chise is chosen to become the ultimate weapon in a global-scale war. Only Shuji knows who and what Chise has become, and it is her dichotomous existence that shapes and clarifies his love for her - Shuji ultimately proves himself deeply compassionate in the face of this insanity. Chise's abilities evolve, the two fumble in their attempts to articulate their love, they grapple with their human flaws, and as the war inexorably progresses, their world crumbles around them. When it seems they are lost to each other as so much flotsam and jetsam amid forces of epic proportion, they find the strength of their love.
Other characters revolve around this pair in ways that are sad, urgent or affirming. These relationships, all tragedy-prone, provide the framework upon which the story develops its themes. Saikano is not particularly interested in the whys and hows of war and weaponry, it is interested in what happens to individuals who live with the experience of war.
Saikano is based on the manga series by Takahashi Shin. The character design in the animation is sensitive to Takahashi-san's line art; the plotting is largely consonant (yes, even in the manga everyone is perpetually blushing, and Chise is a waterworks). The artistry of Saikano's character development is such that I found myself caring as much for the supporting cast as I did for the leads. The anime generally tames the didactic tone that occasionally made the manga feel message-heavy.
Mecha otaku beware. Despite her experience with the mecha genre, director Kase Mitsuko (Mobile Suit Gundam) clearly made the choice to remain faithful to the human focus of Takahashi-san's story rather than flesh out the technology. Where others have minded this, I am grateful.
Look elsewhere if: you require a conventional happy ending; you need the machinations of your geopolitical conflicts fully outlined; you need your science fiction carefully and credibly explained; you crave long, action-packed battle scenes; you find the willing suspension of disbelief problematic. A mass of hardware, sometimes insect-like, sometimes angel-like, sometimes tank-like, sometimes octopus-like, is contained in Chise's small body. Every now and again she inexplicably expels chunks of it. Just suspend judgment and go with the flow. It really doesn't matter to the story that's being told what the weapon is or how it works or even why Chise was the chosen one; it just matters that a small, inconsequential girl who had rather conventional aspirations and was in love for the first time became a weapon capable of eradicating humanity.
The story suggests numerous questions: what does it mean to love? what does it mean to live? what are we meant to do? what are the repercussions of our destructive nature, and might destruction encompass a measure of compassion? who is to blame? what does it mean to be human? what is happiness? what are our sins? what evidence do we leave of our passing through? what matters? We're not talking Philosophy 401, but neither are we talking your typical light-weight cartoon pablum. Saikano has the grace to leave many of these questions open to your own interpretations.
In the final scenes of the manga (it's expressed differently in the anime; the question pertains to both), Shuji asks Chise, "Do you think we were good lovers in the end?" How do we measure the goodness of love? If we look at Shuji's relationship with Fuyumi or the manner in which he eases Akemi's death by affirming her beauty or Chise's relationship with Tetsu and see only evidence of cheating, we will measure love's goodness shallowly. In Saikano's world, love is not a casual, superficial construct; it is a path, often confused, often morally ambiguous, toward redemption. Love, in its many permutations, matters.
After the world ended, Saikano still lingers in my mind in the same way Kino's Journey and Mushi-shi do (though these are hardly similar stories!). It touched me as deeply as did Grave of the Fireflies. Works like these constitute Anime for the Thinking Person, and I cherish artistic creations with the power to leave me feeling moved, thoughtful and enlarged.
Kino's Journey - The Complete Collection Mushi-shi: The Complete Series Grave of the Fireflies
[Note: There is tastefully executed nudity and sex. There is blood. There is killing (this is about war). Characters you come to care for die. Chise, who is supposed to be a petite and very cute high school senior, looks underage, which raises the spectre of paedophilia for some. If you are inclined to be bothered by any of these things, it's best to avoid this anime.]"
Darcy Pryciak | Detroit, MI | 09/04/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A beautiful, but painful show to watch. You know the ending by the title itself "Last love song on the planet," so don't expect deux ex machina to save the day or anything chippper or cheerful to happen at the end. It's a tragedy. It's a story of a boy who tries his best to love his girlfriend, but like any young couple, suffers the angst and temptations of reality, mixed with scifi, as he discovers his girlfriend was injected with weapon genes that are maturing in her body, making her more and more into a weapon and less of a human."