The Anime Primer

Capsule Descriptions of Anime: P

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Panda Kopanda   Paradise Kiss   Paranoia Agent   Patlabor   Perfect Blue   Phantom Quest Corporation   PLANETES   Please Save My Earth   Pokemon   Popotan   Porco Rosso   The Portrait of Petite Cosette   Princess Mononoke   Princess Nine   Princess Tutu   Project A-Ko

Panda Kopanda (a.k.a. Panda! Go Panda!)

Hayao Miyazaki's first produced work. It is two half-hour short pieces. The first piece was made in 1972, the second a year later. The main characters are a little girl named Mimiko, a large panda (Pa Panda), and his panda son (Panny). Mimiko (about 5 years old) lives with her grandmother. One day, her grandmother has to travel out of town for an extended period, leaving Mimiko alone to take care of things. By chance, a panda father and his son wander into the town where Mimiko lives, and attracted by the large bamboo garden, come to her house. Mimiko talks with them and decides to create a family of sorts, wherein she is the little panda's mother, and the large panda is her father. This piece is generally seen as a precursor to Tonari no Totoro (My Meighbor Totoro). It is available on DVD and VHS from Geneon.

[Entry by Matt Huber]

Paradise Kiss

One day, A-student Yukari Hayasaki is approached on the street by a punk-rock-styled teenager telling her she'd be perfect as their new model. Thinking he was a nut, she tries to escape, but trips into the arms of a fashionable young lady called Isabella and faints. Thus the straight-laced Yukari is brought into the world of Paradise Kiss, a fashion shoujo anime that describes the kind of universal painful adolescence that has won this series fans around the globe.

Everyone can understand the emotions of these characters. It would be very familiar to anyone who was a teenager. Yukari has a strained relationship with her overbearing mother who only seems to be concerned about pushing her to succeed, and this is the story of her rebellion and trying to find a life for herself separate from what her mother wants. Characters like George, Miwako and Arashi seem to be part of everyone's experience, as well as the relationship problems they go through. Even if you haven't experienced a relationship like Yukari and George's, you probably know someone who has. The verisimilitude of the characters makes this series entertaining even if you don't care about fashion.

Age 14+: Some alcohol consumption and teen sex.

[Entry by Travers Naran]

Paranoia Agent

To date, the only animated TV series directed by Satoshi Kon (Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress), and an outlet for ideas he had during production of his movies. The series starts when character designer Tsukiko Sagi, creator of the popular cartoon dog character Maromi, is under a lot of pressure to develop another hit. She ends up in hospital after being assaulted by a mysterious grinnng baseball-capped boy on inline skates with a bent golden baseball bat. This is the first of several attacks by "Shounen Bat"/"Li'l Slugger," and two police detectives are assigned to investigate and apprehend him. In the process, they (and we) meet several different and frequently unusual people whose lives are affected by Shounen Bat. Licenced in North America by Geneon Entertainment.

[Entry by Dave Watson]

Patlabor: the main cast

Although Patlabor TV nominally deals with police using mecha ("labors") to combat labor crime, the series is no more a mecha show than a modern-day Western police show is a "car show" or a "truncheon show"; the majority of episodes are comedy based on oddities of modern Japanese culture (apart from the mecha, there are practically no futuristic elements in Patlabor) or the thoroughly dysfunctional cast.

The second OVA series is essentially a continuation of the TV series; but the first OVA series is less well-conceived, and should probably be watched only if you come to like the TV series. The movies are very different, being serious works not atypical of Mamoru Oshii's direction.

Manga Entertainment released the first two movies both theatrically and on video, but their licence has expired; the licence is currently held by Bandai Visual USA's Honneamise label. The TV series and OAV series are being released by USMC.

[Entry by David Damerell]

DMOZ Open Directory Project

Perfect Blue

What happens to idol singers when they stop being idol singers? Mima is a popular singer but wants to move on to something else and lands a part acting in a popular TV drama. However, idols have otaku, and Mima's otaku seem to be a little more violent than most. Who is sending the booby-trapped threat letters? Who is the mysterious deformed man, and who is behind the website "Mima's Room"? It all nearly drives poor Mima over the edge...

A psychological thriller with a twist at the end that will keep you guessing as the body count rises. And you won't believe the twist! Released by Manga Video.

[Entry by Chika]

Phantom Quest Corporation (a.k.a. Yuugen Kaisha)
Yuugen Kaisha: Ayaka confronting a ghost

Hard-drinking, hard-shopping Ayaka Kisaragi is the head of the "Phantom Quest Corporation", an eclectic team of ghostbusters whose members include Ayaka with her magical sword, a huge Buddhist priest, a flame-summoning schoolgirl, and a brilliant little boy whose financial acumen is all that keeps Ayaka's shopping from ruining the company. The animation is beautiful and fluid, and the soundtrack songs catchy indeed. Four OAVs, available from Geneon on two tapes or one DVD.

[Entry by Antaeus Feldspar]


In the relatively near future, space debris has become a problem to mankind's continuing expansion into the stars. PLANETES follows the adventures of the Debris Section of Technora Corp, a space-based company, after the arrival of idealistic new recruit Ai Tanabe. The misfit staff - including the slacker Hachimaki, tragic ferret-obsessed Yuri and the heavy smoker Fee - make the most of their job, which is laughed at by the rest of the company, but Tanabe's arrival catalyses changes which will see the Debris Section become important to mankind's survival in space.

PLANETES is basically Patlabor in space, where the sci-fi setting serves mostly as a background to an excellent character drama laced with wry humour (however, the space aspect is realised more accurately than in many shows - the ships make no sound in a vacuum, for example!). Whilst slow - the first half develops the characters before a real over-arching plot develops about halfway through - the writing is exquisitely judged, with plot developments relying on the series as a whole, and generally winning characters (although some may find Tanabe's optimism wearing at least to begin with).

PLANETES is licensed by Bandai for release in Region 1 around June 2005, with the manga already available in full from Tokyopop.

[Entry by Andrew Hollingbury]

Please Save my Earth

Please Save My Earth is a shoujo anime that centers on the concept of reincarnation. Based on the original manga by Saki Hiwatari published in Dreams and Flowers magazine, this story follows seven year old Rin Kobayashi who has dreams of another life. These dreams are shared by his neighbor Alice Sakaguchi and two of her high school classmates Jinpachi Ogura and Issei Nishikiyori. The three of them decide to search for others who may share the same dreams while Rin sets off on his own agenda. In these dreams, they all seem to live on a base on the moon. From that base they study the Earth, its politics, resources, music, wildlife etc. In total there are seven scientists, each one seemingly gifted in some way. They feel a fondness for the Earth and wish they could be a part of it. Full of emotion, complex relationships and a myriad of characters that the seven who share the "Moon Dreams" encounter, Please Save My Earth is one of few anime that will truly make you think and feel. Complete OVA series available on one DVD from Viz Video.

[Entry by Terrence Walker]

DMOZ Open Directory Project

Please Teacher!

see Onegai Teacher!

Pokemon (a.k.a. Pocket Monsters)
Pokemon: Pikachu and Ash

Before you all start gagging, yes this is a full blown, card carrying anime. The story is loosely Earth like in its setting, however the world in this case is inhabited by many different "Pocket Monsters" or "Pokemon", which people trap and train to compete in fighting competitions. Of course there are all sorts of rules attached to this, plus the obligatory baddies, in this case a boy and girl team (Team Rocket) and their pet Pokemon. Dubbed and on show on TV virtually everywhere, with two films also released to date. Both the anime and manga are available from Viz.

[Entry by Chika]

DMOZ Open Directory Project

Popotan: Ai, Mii, and Mai

Three cute sisters travel from place to place with their maid in a teleporting house, skipping forward in time as they go. As they do this, they meet people and change lives, often having to confront losing friends as they continue on in their search for a certain person who can help them understand why they've been set on this journey. [Note: "Popotan" is the sisters' term for tanpopo, the Japanese word for dandelion.]

Licenced in North America by Geneon.

[Entry by "HiEv"]

Porco Rosso (a.k.a. Kurenai no buta or Crimson Pig)

"A pig who doesn't fly is just a pig." That's why Porco, a man living out his life in a pig's body for reasons that are only hinted at during the movie, spends most of his time in the air, hunting air pirates over the Adriatic between the two World Wars. The air pirates take exception to this, and hire a crack American pilot to go up against Porco ...

Porco Rosso is a lightweight but very enjoyable movie from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. But it isn't just a pleasant way to pass the time; a serious story about love and responsibility hides amongst the derring-do and spectacle found here, and (as should be expected in one of Miyazaki's works) assertive women are in abundance in the cast.

Available in North America from Disney.

[Entry by Rob Kelk]

DMOZ Open Directory Project

The Portrait of Petite Cosette

Kurahashi Eiri works part-time in his uncle's antique shop. One day, when sorting through a shipment his uncle sent from Europe, he finds that through a goblet of Venetian glass he can catch glimpses of the life of a delicate young girl named Cosette d'Auvergne. With his growing attraction to her, he feels compelled to draw her over and over again, but at the same rate seems to more and more lose his grip on reality as he is drawn into the surreal world where Cosette's spirit is entrapped.

This very dark goth romance is aimed at a mature audience.

Le Portrait de Petit Cossette is a 3-episode OVA. The license for North America is owned by Geneon.

[Entry by Ansgar "59cobalt" Wiechers]

Princess Mononoke (a.k.a. Mononoke-hime)
Mononoke-hime: San vs. Eboshi

While on a quest to find a cure for a curse, a young man named Ashitaka finds himself caught in a war between a mining village and the local forest spirits. Each side is represented by a strong-willed woman - on the miners' side is Eboshi, the leader of the village, and on the spirits' side is San, the Mononoke princess. Ashitaka, Eboshi, and San find themselves caught up in a search for the Forest God, who is believed to be able to bestow great gifts upon mortals ...

This was the first film directed by Hayao Miyazaki after Studio Ghibli signed their now-famous distribution deal with Disney, and it showed fans that the deal made no difference to the kind of stories that Studio Ghibli would tell. It was also the first Studio Ghibli movie released in North America on DVD, setting the standard for Disney's high quality anime releases.

Parental Advisory: Princess Mononoke is not a film suitable for pre-teens. There are some graphic depictions of violence, and some characters die messily. Preview this movie before letting your children watch it.

Available from Disney.

[Entry by Rob Kelk]

Princess Nine
Princess Nine: Izumi and Ryo

Ryo Hayakawa is a "natural" at baseball - despite being in high school, her pitches are faster than some from the pros. Kisaragi Girls' School forms a team around her in order to be the first girls' school to win the Japanese high-school series at Koshien, a tournament that has been restricted to teams of boys only. But that's secondary to the people on or involved with the team - Ryo and her rival Izumi Himuro, Kisaragi Boys' School's team's star batter Hiroki Takasugi (who both Ryo and Izumi have feelings for, but not the same feelings), Ryo's childhood friend Seishiro, the boisterous Hikaru and the quiet Yuki who were first to join the team after Ryo, and too many other characters (most with hidden depths to them) to name here.

Like many other shows (such as Magic Users' Club), Princess Nine is about growing up and learning who you are, and not what it looks like it's about at first glance. But the baseball games are interesting, too, and manage to keep the viewer's attention even after repeated viewings. And who wins when Ryo pitches against Hiroki? That would be telling ...

Princess Nine is available from ADV Films. ADV's series website

[Entry by Rob Kelk]

DMOZ Open Directory Project

Princess Tutu
Princess Tutu: Tutu and Fakir

Once upon a time, Ikuko Ito and Junichi Sato decided to tell a story about a girl named Ahiru who attends a ballet school. Ahiru wants nothing more than to bring a smile to the face of her classmate Mytho. After learning of her true heritage in the first episode, including just how descriptive her name is, she starts her adventure as the magical girl Princess Tutu to put Mytho's heart back together so that he can smile. But Fakir and Rue, Mytho's only companions, take turns to try to stop Princess Tutu from putting Mytho's heart together again ...

The pacing and character designs of Princess Tutu are similar to those in Magic Users' Club, which is no surprise since Ito-san and Sato-san both worked as directors on both shows. The themes of various classic ballets that are worked into the series, the surreal elements (such as the ballet teacher who is a cat), and the presence of an all-knowing supporting character in many episodes, invite comparisons to shows like Revolutionary Girl Utena. And Ahiru is a classic magical girl, more interested in helping people than in fighting - in fact, she often says that she doesn't want to fight. These elements, drawn together into a consistent whole with strong episodes throughout the first half and last quarter of the series, make Princess Tutu a show not to be missed.

Thirteen half-hour episodes, 24 quarter-hour episodes, and one final half-hour episode, licenced in North America by ADV (who for some unknown reason chose to translate the lead character's name, which spoiled one plot twist).

R1 official website

[Entry by Rob Kelk]

Project A-Ko
Project A-Ko: B-ko, C-ko and A-ko

A very powerful girl named A-ko is the friend of a little girl called C-ko. The supergenius rich girl at school, B-ko, wants to get rid of A-ko so she can be C-ko's friend and she tries to do this via a bunch of mecha she designed and built herself. Then a bunch of female aliens who look like men (they have male voices in the dub) show up looking for their lost princess. Then things really get weird.

Filled with 'in jokes' galore, this was followed up by five OVAs. The two Project A-Ko VS OVAs are set in an alternate reality and so don't follow the continuity of the other OVAs.

Available from USMC in North America, and from Manga in the UK.

A-ko FAQ

[Entry by Bruce Grubb, edited by Rob Kelk]

DMOZ Open Directory Project

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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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