And, no, this isn't entirely down to Manifest - it's a bunch of stuff that got put off until I had some free time to kill, free time in this case translating the break. Or this weekend.
Anyhoo, series which I shall elaborate my opinions on, with varying levels of enjoyment and verbosity: Princess Tutu, Monster (just the manga), Hellsing (just the OVA movie whatsits), and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (mostly just the anime, since I'm still in progress on the novels).
This was the first of my things to watch, mainly because of the fact that unlike most of this other stuff, which was picked up on account of recommendations or interesting trailers, I'd had the box-set for a while and never quite gotten around to watching it.
Which was, I have decided, an exceedingly stupid move, since by the end it had rocketed it's way up to being right near my Favouritest Things Ever.
The only things really stopping it from taking the Favouritest Thing Ever crown in it's own right is the fact that the first half of each season is a bit too "MacGuffin of the Week" for my liking. Which isn't to say the one-offs are in any way bad, just that in contrast to the HOLY SHIT SOMEONE CREATED AN ANIME ENTIRELY TO BE RELEVENT TO MY INTERESTS end of season episodes, they don't come off as well.
...Except for the one with Femio. Oh, Femio, how I loved you and your utter absurdity. Epic Lulz, bb.
But yeah. I know it has a stupid name, but Princess Tutu: I recommend it to everyone. Because it is awesome. I mean, what's not to love about an anime with Classical Music! Ballet! Dance!Fights! Random animal people! Unexpected Creepiness! Snark! The Power of Love being Badass!
..and yet, beneath all this, is essentially a deconstruction of archetypical storybook fairytale roles, complete with multiple layers of metafictionality and stories within stories and some surprisingly deep philosophy going on. And playing with the fourth wall, which is always fun.
Yeah, I'm trying not to be too specific about spoilers or anything, since I really think this is one of those things you should see for yourself. But I love it muchly, for the wonderful characters (Fakir ♥ Ahiru ♥
Besides, how can you not love something which was the cause for a fanvid as epic as this.
It took me an epicly long time to really get into this, partially because of the first few chapters being just set-up and the real hook for the major plot not happening for a surpisingly long time, and partially because I am impatient. I want to get to the action, dammit! That said, in retrospect it's very much paced like a book, with a lot of time set to displaying the "normal" situation before plot comes along and disrupts them.
All that said, once I got into it, it really was utterly compelling and just as good as I'd heard. Admittedly, it was the sort of good of impressive literary novels, which you read once or twice and admire, as opposed to good like a favourite book you read over and over again (Which is what FMA or Princess Tutu would probably be for me).
I mean, I enjoyed it, but it's more the impressive sort of good than the fun sort of good. You can't just pick up a couple of chapters and read for the lulz, it actually requires investment of time and thought.
That said, if you have a bit of time to kill, and would like a very intelligent, well thought out story on good versus evil and the nature of both, complete with a complicated plot and some really interesting characters (Tenma ♥), I'd recommend this like a shot.
Just don't expect light reading.
It's kind of hard to give an overall review to what I watched, since the OVAs, or whatever they are (Hellsing Ultimate, apparently), are a ongoing series, of which only 4 have been released, and I only have 3.
Also, they're an adaptation of a manga that apparently only finished up about a week ago. Which, incidentally, I am looking into reading. Or I will, once whoever has the first two volumes returns them to the Rowdy. *grumps*
...That's probably a favourable review in itself, really. Good enough to make me want to check out the source they are based on.
Anyhow, in contrast to the other things I watched/read, this was not a series that was heavily intellectual. Which isn't to say it was stupid, just that, well, as TVTropes would say, it's all about Rule of Cool.
As a result, the plot basically seems to consist of an ongoing three way fight between Protestants armed with Dracula (sorry, Alucard), heavily armed Catholics and Nazi Mad Scientists, if by plot we mean "excuse for incredibly badass characters to have ridiculously cool fight scenes".
Not that I'm complaining. The characters are, indeed, ridiculously badass, and the fight scenes are, indeed, ridiculously cool. It's shiny awesome eye-candy.
Also, for those into that sort of thing: D/S subtext by the bucketload. Though it's more text than sub, really.
Of the three I watched, my favourite was the second. To borrow Whovian parlance, it was a basic Base Under Siege plot, but it had the most fun villains.
Like I said, it was interesting enough to make me want to read the manga, and stylish enough to be epic eyecandy. Ridiculous but fun is a pretty good summary, really.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Last but certainly not least (it's last 'cos I only finished watching yesterday). This is the only one, aside from Princess Tutu, I've made much of an effort to seek out the fandom thereof, even if it's just to find icons and fic (the icon I'm using being a case in point).
Anyway, of the series I read/watched, this manages to simultaneously be both the most normal and most abnormal. I mean, it's about the day to day life of a bunch of Japanese school kids. On the other hand... it's really, really not.
And though the really not part is what the hooked my interest to start with (and had, I felt, the strongest parts of the anime), the characters were strong enough that even the normal stuff seems to hold my interest.
Anyways, the characters: My favourites are Kyon and Haruhi, which is helpful seeing they're the central focus and narrator/POV character. And the whole not-entirely subtle shipping going on between them.
Haruhi is... I think she's inspirational. I mean, yeah, she's obnoxious and selfish at times (and seriously, sweetheart, ease up on Mikuru, she's not your toy), but she's just so unashamedly herself, no matter what anyone else thinks. The fact she's so unselfconscious about what other people think... well, it took me a very long time to ease up on how much I worried about that. And I still have my moments.
I want to be Haruhi when I grow up. Never mind that I'm already older than her.
The fact that we get just enough moments to see the cracks, the insecurities that prove Haruhi isn't really too good to be true... I love her, I really do.
Kyon is also fun, snark and all. I'm not entirely sure why I like him - I mean yeah, I like snarkers and banter and all, but that can't just be it - but I do. I like him, and I like the way he interacts with people, and even when I want to hit him for being so clueless about Haruhi, I like the way he interacts with her. (Maybe that's it, I like the way he pulls crazy dreaming Haruhi back down to earth?)
Actually, I like most of the mains. Yuki alternates between being epicly awesome and utterly hilarious. And Koizumi is funny, even if he has a case of the tl;drs. The only one I'm not really into is Mikuru, which is more frustration than anything else: Future!Mikuru and the "That's Classified!" moments show that she's certainly capable of having a backbone, so the fact she spends most of the time being a soppy pushover just bugs me immensely, even when I am feeling sorry for her, or angry at Haruhi on her behalf. I get Haruhi chose her for fanservice factor, but the show should use her for more than that since the audience knows she's more than that.
It also helps that it had some of the most freaking gorgeous visuals in a series I have ever seen. Seriously, pretty, pretty show.
I'm currently working my way through the novels - well, the fan translations thereof. I'm currently on number three. At this point, I'm preferring the anime to the books, though given the anime mostly consists of events from the first three books, I may be biased. I'll see how my opinion changes after I try reading something new.
Also, I totally need to put some time aside so I can learn that dance.
So, feel free to comment on my comments in the comments,
ETA: Since this only just popped up while I was typing this entry: Just how epic is the new chapter of FMA? Also, Hohenheim: Will fuck your shit up. Epicly