A recent anime series, aired in Japan in the second half of 2002, now licenced by viz. The full title actually gives away part of the plot, so it's refered to often by its shortened title, SaiKano. There are 13 episodes of about 25 minutes each.

I don't want to give away the plot, if you don't care about spoilers then read the bottom of this post. The story is very sad, it's quite a depressing series. The tone is quite strange, from what I've seen an awful lot isn't really explained and there's an odd sense of emptiness that probably comes from not knowing much at all about anything besides the characters involved in the story. This isn't a criticism as such, as it makes the show more unique, but by episode 6 (where I've seen up to) it does get a bit frustrating not knowing whether things will be explained. The central concept of the story is very interesting and the way it is handled is certainly something I've never seen done before to quite that extent.

The drawing style is sketchy but professional, it's quite a refreshing change from the style of some more recent animes which have a very straight, lifeless visual style. Occasionally the characters break into chibi mode when there is a moment of humour which actually fits quite well. The animation is consistently very good, mostly without too much help from cgi.

I think this is a great series, although some other people who've seen it haven't liked it so much. Some people called it boring, and someone told me he thought the characters whine too much, but then I think anyone would in their situation. I think it would appeal to fans of more dark, surreal anime (although it's not particularly surreal) like Serial Experiments Lain and Evangelion.

What follows is a brief explanation of the story. It contains mild spoilers, but I think even mild ones will take away the impact of the show. Let me assure you that it really, really is better to see this show knowing as little as possible about it.

***spoiler section***

The series starts off with Shu visiting a place that obviously has a lot of significance to him. He then begins to recount the tale in the series. It begins with him walking to school with his new girlfriend Chise. She is incredibly shy and walks very slowly. Shu is a little impatient with her, he used to be on the track-team so walks very fast. He is also considerably taller than her in that he is very tall and she is very short. They are both awkward about this new relationship; we find that Chise has really asked him out because her friends made her. She wants to get to know him better, so she gives him a joint-diary, the idea being that they each take turns to write in it and read what the other has written. Shu finds this very difficult, and eventually gives up. Instead he writes that he doesn't want to do this anymore and asks to meet her after school. There he says that it isn't going to work out and they should break up. Chise is ok with this and confesses that she only asked him out because her friends dared her to and she didn't think he'd say yes. They decide that maybe they should give it another try, and remain boyfriend and girlfriend. Shu agrees to keep writing in the diary.
Later, Shu is out shopping with some of his male friends. They are helping one of them buy something for his girlfriend when they experience what seems like an earthquake. They go outside and find that the city is being bombed. The streets are quickly in a panic as buildings collapse. Shu and his friends are injured and one of them is killed, but suddenly the planes are attacked by an unseen force. Shu gets up and sees Chise, except that now she has metal wings and a gun where her arm was. Chise, you see, is the military's new Ultimate Weapon. And by the way, in case you were wondering, the full title is Saikuuhenshi Kanojo, which translates as She, The Ultimate Weapon. The series continues from this episode concentrating mainly on Shu and Chise's relationship, which is what makes it rather strange as a sci-fi anime. From what I've seen there is no explanation of the war that is going on, and very little of why Chise is the weapon and so forth. Still, it's a good series, the explanation of the story doesn't really do it justice.

***end spoiler section***

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