The Anime Primer

Capsule Descriptions of Anime: E

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Early Reins   Earth Defense Family   Earth Girl Arjuna   El Hazard   Elfen Lied   Emma   Excel Saga   Eyeshield 21

Early Reins

If you love classic bullets-flying-everywhere Western movies and good-looking anime girls, this one's for you. No steampunk or any other modern trappings (unless you count one character's short skirt, and even then, no panty shots). Very reverent (but not without a sense of humour), very entertaining, very recommended. One OAV.

[Entry by David Watson]

Earth Defender Mao-chan

See Mao-chan

Earth Defense Family (a.k.a. The Daichis)

A very different take on the classic "fighting team defending the Earth" theme as the Daichis, a contemporary and very dysfunctional Japanese family, are unexpectedly offered the opportunity to turn their lives around by becoming a team of masked fighters who must defend the Earth against an alien invasion. But nothing is what it seems - the agreement to become the "Earth Defense Team" turns out to be a very Faustian bargain, the family finds out that their own problems don't go away just because they can beat some alien monsters, and in the end the divisions within the Daichis threaten the Earth itself. Earth Defense Family is masterful and thoroughly entertaining mix of action, comedy and social commentary.

Available in North America from Geneon.

[Entry by Dave Baranyi]

Earth Girl Arjuna

Juna Ariyoshi is involved in a mysterious motorbike accident with her boyfriend Tokio. She awakens to find herself "dead", and privy to a horrifying vision of the destruction of Earth's environment by man, and controlled by fearsome worm-like creatures known as Rajah. She is given a second chance at life by the apparition of Chris Horken, a crippled telepath, if she agrees to become the Avatar of Time and protect Earth from the Rajah. But Juna is not at ease with this role - although she utilises her power to save Tokio, she is petrified of the monstrous Rajah, and has difficulty reconciling her environmental awareness and protection with her modern life - how would you feel if you heard the voices of all the creatures killed to make your food each time you ate? An extremely high budget shows through in the detailed character animation and computer effects - although some rendering doesn't mesh very well - and another high quality soundtrack from Yoko Kanno present an extremely polished show. However, the environmental message can become extremely heavy handed, which aggravates many viewers - this thought-provoking "magical girl" show tends to polarise viewers.

Arjuna is available in North America from Bandai, and in Australia from Madman.

[Entry by Andrew Hollingbury]

DMOZ Open Directory Project

El Hazard
El Hazard: most of the main cast

Makoto is your average high-school kid. A bit of a nebbish, he likes Nanami and is constantly hounded by her big brother Jinnai, though not about Nanami per se. Makoto and several of his classmates get sucked through a portal to another world where he and his friends each seem to manifest a superpower. There is a war going on between the human people of the world and the insect-like Bugrom. Makoto and his friends try to help the humans, aided by the three priestesses of Muldoon, while Jinnai ends up on the wrong side, helping the Bugrom. Hilarity, action and adventure ensue, including the discovery of an ancient evil power, a woman named Ifurita who only Makoto can defeat. Good art and animation. Silly and fun. This summary applies only to the OVA version; there is also a TV series with the same characters. Comedic violence only. Seven OVAs. From Geneon.

[Entry by Ben Cantrick]

[Parental Advisory: Some characters in this OAV series have what has come to euphemistically be called "alternative lifestyles", and not all of them are villains. If this bothers you or your children, watch the TV series El Hazard: The Wanderers instead of the OAV series.  -  Rob Kelk]

DMOZ Open Directory Project

Elfen Lied

The series begins with Lucy's escape from a maximum security facility, a bloody, violent escape that begins a heart-wrenching 13 episode series. After her escape, Lucys ends up on a beach to be found naked and bleeding by Kouta and Yuka. However, she no longer has Lucy's adult personality - it has been replaced by Nyu, a naive child-like personality. Kouta and Yuka take Nyu in to Kouta's home (an old Japanese inn), setting the stage for an unfolding love story with unimaginable pain.

Lucy's escape brings a wide cast to the stage. One of the most lovable is Nana. From the beginning, her arc is one of unimaginable pain. She has spawned a following of web comics called "Nana's Everyday Life" that are a must-see for fans of the anime. Nana befriends a runaway, Mayu, who is also befriended by Kouta and Yuka, bringing them all together under the same roof. The relationships between Kouta, Yuka and Lucy are unraveled over the 13 episodes. At times it is shocking and disturbing; the revelation of Mayu's past is possibly the worst one to watch.

ADV has released a fine four-DVD set with a good English dub of the series. They did, however, leave out an episode that was not shown on Japanese TV, but included in the last Japanese DVD as an extra. That episode is available as a fansub and worth watching when you complete the series; it has a good bit of context for Lucy/Nyu. The DVD edition has more gore than the TV version. When the anime ended the series was still appearing in Young Animal; it finished its run in December 2005 and is now available in 14 bound volumes in Japan.

[Entry by Bobby Clark]

Parental Advisory: Definitely not for children. This series has gruesome, bloody death scenes, violent dismemberments, and nudity in non-consensual sexual settings.

R1 official website


In Victorian England, a young nobleman, William Jones, pays a visit to his old governess' house in central London, where he becomes captivated by her maid, Emma, and vice versa. However, William's family is pushing for him to marry a girl of his own ranking, Eleanor Campbell, and William's friend (and Indian prince) Hakim also takes an interest in Emma. Can any kind of relationship flourish between William and Emma across such a cultural divide?

Emma is a short yet sweet period romance, not exactly typical anime material. Unfortunately, due to budget problems, it only lasts for 12 episodes, thus not finishing the manga storyline (the ending is a good stopping point, however). That said, the short length of the series means that it's extremely polished - the attention to period detail is exquisite (there's no mangling of English whatsoever, which must be a first for anime!), and animation and music are top notch. It is quite slowly paced and entirely character and dialogue-focused, so not a series for action junkies, but Emma is a very well crafted romantic drama.

All 12 episodes are available fansubbed. Emma is currently unlicensed in Region 1 - the first 6 episodes are currently available on DVD in Japan.

[Entry by Andrew Hollingbury]

Endless Waltz

See Gundam Wing


See Vision of Escaflowne


see Neon Genesis Evangelion

Excel Saga
Excel Saga: Excel and Hyatt

This anime is an example of insanity in motion. Each episode is a parody of different styles of anime, and in the first episode the heroine, Excel Excel dies several times, then goes off to kill her manga artist (talk about breaking down the 'fourth wall'). In later episodes you meet others that get involved in the story, and she's joined by Hyatt, a girl that dies about as much as possible, but she keeps on getting back up. Not to mention the fact that she keeps a stray dog named Menchi as an emergency food supply. Released by ADV in North America.

[Entry by Bill Martin]

[Parental Advisory: ADV Films quite properly rated this show at "17+". Many episodes have a high violence quotient, some of the language is inappropriate for minors, and the final episode should be listed in the Anime Hentai Primer. Definitely not for children.  -  Rob Kelk]

DMOZ Open Directory Project

Eyeshield 21

This is a traditional sports anime about a kid who learns to believe in himself and become a winner, but at the same time it is also a comedy with a bizarre twist - it's about a group of misfit Japanese high school kids forming a team to play "American Football" in their Japanese high school. So you not only have all of the usual "Gambatte! Gambarimasu!" ("Do your best! I'll do my best!") sort of stuff, but also an attempt to give a Japanese youth audience a crash course in American-style football. The result is a spectacularly funny comedy, both deliberately - due to the wacky cast of misfits - and also unintentionally, because of the ongoing attempts to explain the rules and concepts of American football during the eyecatches and off-and-on during the story line.

First year high school student Sena has always relied upon his older female friend Mamori to protect him. And when Mamori isn't around, Sena has learned to run away from trouble because he is smaller than most of the bullies that bother him. But now that Sena is in high school he no longer wants to be "protected by a girl" and allows himself to be talked into joining his high school's American Football team, which has few players, never wins, and is almost unknown in the high school. But Sena's "running away" has developed him into a phenomenon - he can out-run most pursuers and can thread his way through most obstacles, including football defensive teams. Because of that, the fanatical and demonic captain of the high school football team, Hiruma, decides to rebuild the team around Sena, with Sena disguised as the mysterious running back "Eyeshield 21".

What results from this is a fast-paced, unpretentious story with surprisingly adept character development and smart, consistent comedy. Add to this reasonably good animation and a lively soundtrack and you have a nice bit of old-fashioned fun done in a thoroughly up-to-date manner. So forget about anything you ever knew about American High School Football, sit back, grab a bottle of "sports water", and enjoy the action.

Official Japanese website

[Entry by Dave Baranyi]

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Any images on this page are copyright their respective creators or licencees, and are used under Fair Use (review) provisions of the Copyright Act. All reviews on this page are copyright their respective authors, and are used with permission. The compilation copyright for this page is held by Rob Kelk.

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