Anime for a Newbie – A Review of 3 Popular Series Pilot Episodes
By Adam Carter
An important thing about traveling is having something you look forward to doing during your time off. Whether it’s reading a good book or keeping current on your favorite TV series, it’s like having a tasty slice of comfort pie. On my travels to Japan and throughout, I’ve read the entire Boku no Hero Academia manga series and streamed all of Dragon Ball Super. Watching the last few episode of Dragon Ball Super was especially difficult since it had just become a routine for me late at night. Like experiencing a breakup, I knew I needed a good rebound to take my mind off the end of the binging. Maybe this isn’t the best comparison, but hopefully you get the idea! Anyway, I decided to hunt for a new anime! I wanted an anime that was still new so that I could join the mainstream and discuss it with people that I met along my travels, so it had to be an anime that was created in the 2010’s era. So without a clue of what to watch, I asked four fellow guests at the Evergreen Hostel staying here in Hiroshima. We came to the consensus that I should check out One Punch Man, Tokyo Ghoul, and Attack on Titan. I decided I’d watch only the pilot episode of each of these shows and give them each a rating out of ten.
The criteria to decide the ratings were based on meeting these expectations ranking out of ten:
Artistic – How did the animation, transitions, settings, characters, colors, textures look? Any beautiful moments or special on screen moments?
Dialogue – Did the dialogue flow, make sense, was there lengthy and infamous monologues?
Plot – Was the story interesting, thrilling, funny, creative, and intricate? Would this be a series worth watching for multiple seasons?
Pace – How quickly or slowly did the show progress? Was it difficult to follow because it moved too fast or did I lose interest because it was too slow?
Soundtrack – How did the music complement the rest of the show? Was it especially exhilarating or did it make me feel certain emotions?
Watchability – Did this pilot episode provide more reason to watch this show in the future?
With this criteria in mind, I watched each episode and took notes as it went along. I viewed them with little outside distractions, and refrained from pausing or rewinding if I didn’t feel like I REALLY had to. Now, time to upset some serious anime otaku with my reviews J
First up Tokyo Ghoul – Began showing in 2014 by Studio Pierrot based on the manga by Sui Ishida
Very carefully considered pilot episode, where the pace was pushed fast to keep the viewers attention and thrill them with intense gore and violence contrasted against silly young romance and playful friendship. Perhaps at times though, the pace went to quickly and even the subtitles were zooming by too fast to read. The soundtrack complimented the episode the entire time even through transitions, it was like pairing a well prepared meal with a delicious wine of similar tasting notes. The protagonist Kaneki was relatable and still shown to be a unique character through his transformation to being half-ghoul half-human and the challenges he already is facing with this change. I really liked how the narrative was being described by third party sources – the news, radio, police conversations, gossip, etc. As gruesome and dark as this show already is, it is also equally thrilling and therefore I definitely could see myself watching more.
Art – 9/10
Dialogue – 9/10
Plot – 8/10
Pace – 8/10
Soundtrack – 7/10
Watchability – 8/10
Overall – 8.25/10
Next up! One Punch Man – aired in 2015 based on the manga written by One.
One punch man presents the viewer with a pretty cool idea different than the beginnings of so many other superhero stories. Instead of showing the major training and buildup to becoming a great superhero, the first episode of One Punch Man shows how the protagonist, Saitama or One Punch Man has to more or less cope with the boredom that comes with being able to defeat anyone with only one punch. There is a light heartedness here that combines well with the heaviness of what feels like depression and cynicism. The comedic elements such as the outrageously big chinned brat that the lobster villain hunts for which further tied into the flashback that was triggered by Saitama considering buying lobster at the grocery mart. The creative elements to the art and animation were fun and at times hilarious. I loved the feelings that the music gave me – sort of a cowboy and lone ranger feeling, like walking alone on a long road that you stay on for the hope of better things ahead. Maybe my favorite artistic scene was when One Punch Man was fighting an exhilarating battle he could only find in his dreams – the motions in the fighting turned to illustrations from a comic book. When thinking to himself about his emotions becoming distant, I think Saitama foreshadows the series when he says, “in exchange for power, maybe I’ve lost something essential to being human.” Over all, One Punch Man was amusing and unique in some ways though I personally think the first episode suffered from feeling inconsequential.
Art – 8/10
Dialogue – 8/10
Plot – 7/10
Pace – 7/10
Soundtrack – 9/10
Watchability – 8/10
Overall – 7.75/10
Finally, Attack on Titan – produced by Wit Studio and based on the manga written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama
Thrust into all out action against Titans expressed through punching intensity of fast hard rock music, the episode begins by showing us exactly what humanity is up against – violent and hungry titans that tower over humans like Mt. Fuji. Then the scene transitions to village life inside large walls built to keep the Titans away – but which also traps them in, a compelling reason to fight for the young protagonist, Eren. One of the strongest themes that the viewer is presented with is humans being treated like livestock – locked behind walls or cages, being at the mercy of Titans (which all have very human characteristics), and being hunted and eaten without sympathy. Not only is themes of human’s vs animals present, but also ones of historical Japan. The government and King put a ban on people leaving the walls to the outside world because if people leave, then Titans take their place. This reminds me of Japan during the “Sakoku” or “closed country” era in which travel to and from Japan was highly restricted for over two hundred years. This first episode played out like the beginning of a coming of age movie for our young protagonist and his sister Mikusa, who through her strength and will, fights and protects her brother. The show transitions from tranquil village life to blood and organs falling from the sky like rain from towering titans. Bloody, thrilling, and leaving the viewer with plenty of questions of what happens next makes this show very watchable for me in the future.
Art – 8/10
Dialogue – 8/10
Plot – 9/10
Pace – 9/10
Soundtrack – 8/10
Watchability – 9/10
Overall – 8.5/10
In conclusion, all of these anime’s were great and I was seriously impressed with such great pilot episodes. Even My Hero Academia (maybe my favorite anime) didn’t have as good of a pilot episode as these. In the end though, I think will spend my late night time watching Attack on Titan in the near future. It combined a lot of aspects of storytelling that I really enjoy. I am intrigued by Tokyo Ghoul, but think it would be better for me to watch with friends because the gore and intensity is a lot to handle! Seriously, it reminds me of playing Resident Evil when I was young and that was always so much more fun playing with friends to laugh at the scariness. I think One Punch man has a lot of potential beyond its pilot episode, it was fun, interesting, and witty and has a sort of cool confidence about its presentation that I really enjoy. All three of these were fun to watch and I will watch more of each of them in the future!