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[Anime Web Turnpike]
Guests' Web Picks

Special Guests: Carlos Ross and Raphael See

Carlos: Well, looks like its our turn to speak our piece on the Anime Web Turnpike's Guest Picks!

Raphael: Sure is! We're pleased as punch to be given the opportunity to share some of our favorite links out there. But first, I guess it would be in order to introduce ourselves a little bit.

At one point, I was the maintainer of T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews. It's been fun watching the anime scene outside of Japan literally explode over the last few years -- when I first put the site together, there were only about ten or fifteen other review sites out there. A quick click over to the "Reviews" section of the Turnpike will show you very quickly that things have changed since then!  ^_^  With my graduation from ASU, though, I've turned over the site to the very capable hands of my colleague here, who I must say has been doing a darned fine job.

My interests include anime (duh), and my favorites include The Vision of Escaflowne, Whisper of the Heart, Kiki's Delivery Service, and of course everything else by Studio Ghibli and/or Hayao Miyazaki, although I greatly enjoy many other titles as well. But that could take a whole page to describe by itself, so...

As for other interests, I've recently gone back to playing the piano whenever I can (it's a great stress-reliever from my studies), and I've also discovered Kenpo Karate as another fun hobby (again, a great stress-reliever from my studies). And of course I'm a video game/computer game junkie, too, although I haven't been able to get my fix nearly as regularly as I used to, what with school and all...

Carlos: I guess that leaves me.  I'm a Filipino expatriate who grew up here in the United States on a diet of Robotech and Voltron, but only recently got into the anime scene in the Phoenix area, at first, watching Sailor Moon on USA (remember that?), then through showings at local comic stores, then all-night viewings of Marmalade Boy and Mahou Tsukai Tai with a few close friends.  Hook, line, and sinker.  One of the first anime sites I checked out on the Internet for recommendations was this site, and I was privileged to be able to not only join the club responsible for it, but end up maintaining the very site that's largely responsible for my being an anime fan.  So I'm trying my best to keep up and improve on everything Raph's put into T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews.  I hope you've enjoyed reading them as much as we've enjoyed writing them!

As far as the person behind it all, I'm actually pretty mundane.  Apart from my obvious interest in Japanese animation, I also do a bit of illustration on the side, including anime and gaming fanart, play a few role-playing games (both console and pencil/paper), watch college football (especially, of course, the ASU Sun Devils), sing a bit (I spent about eight years in choirs throughout high school and college), and finally, of course, sharing my life with my wonderful, wonderful fiancee, Christina Carpenter (incidentally also the Assistant Reviewing Editor - who says anime fans need to have terrible love lives?)  Maybe I have a bit too much time on my hands, but no one could ever accuse me of being lazy ^_^

Raphael: So without further ado, here are the sites we think are worth mentioning!

Other Review Sites

Carlos: First off, of course, I'm going to shamelessly plug our own site, the THEM Anime Reviews Page (). Even before I joined the club (or knew the club was conveniently located at Arizona State University, where I'm a junior studying the Japanese language...well, on hiatus, anyway), I enjoyed reading Raphael's reviews, which are dead on, and sometimes downright hilarious. (Read the Dagger of Kamui review if you haven't yet. It's a riot!) Never did I think I'd end up taking over when he left to get his M.D. (not Geist!) in Dallas... I hope I'm doing a good job keeping things going ^_^

Raphael: While we're at it, I'd be remiss if I didn't give a hearty nod to The Anime Cafe (). Akio and Jane Nagatomi do a exemplary job maintaining a site full of thorough, fully justified reviews. If I want to know how good a title I haven't seen is, I go here first and foremost of all.

Carlos: And I'd like to mention The Anime Critic (new address: ), maintained by Pete Harcoff. Both the Cafe and the Critic are brimming full with plenty of in-depth reviews, and easy to navigate as well. My pet peeve is a site with too many graphics - I have a clunky old 486 at home, and even with a 56k modem, it loads about as quickly as a dogsled team pulling a pair of sumo wrestlers through twenty-foot snowdrifts. These two sites avoid that, and they make for interesting reading, to boot!

Another review site I'd like to mention is Julie Bihn's Anime Reviews (). Honest, simple, and to-the-point, her reviews are not only very good, but as she is a regular at the TASS () anime showings at University of Arizona (our friendly southern rival in Tucson), she gets to see the new
stuff even quicker than we do. (And she agrees with me on Gasaraki, to boot.)

Series Sites

Carlos: Christi once showed me a little gem from the early '80s called Angel. For nineteen years, she had no idea what the Japanese name of the series was, or even if anyone else knew of it, even after taking a tape of it to three separate anime conventions (including AX97). No one knew. Well, the search is over - after finding an article of it in a recent Newtype, I found out the original name of the character - LunLun. Still not enough...until I chanced upon the Mahou Shoujo Anime Resource ().  (Though the site seems to be down at the moment, it is definitely a comprehensive resource for an often-ignored genre of anime.)  A wonderful site on our Mystery Series, based in Italy, is Hana no Ko LunLun: The Girl of Flowers (). This series, which achieved many firsts in the genre of the magical girl series, though almost forgotten, is now being revived, and deservedly so. If you too remember a certain little Angel from way back in your own childhood, check these sites out...and let us know too!

Another series definitely worth mentioning is Shinesman, which has to be my personal favorite parody anime. There's not a lot of sites on it as of yet, but the few existing ones are pretty decent. What the Heck is a Shinesman? () and Shinesman: The Special Combat Unit () are two examples.

Raphael: Well, the only series site I've got isn't really a series site at all! But since it focuses on the producer of what is perhaps the greatest anime in the world, I'll have to mention
(, the best resource out there for fans of Studio Ghibli and/or Miyazaki's works. I think this site is even better than the new book out on Miyazaki (which is still a pretty good book), and it's free to boot! I found out all sorts of interesting tidbits on my favorite films: for instance, did you know there was a manga sequel to Whisper of the Heart? Now, if only I could find it (and read Japanese as well)...

Picture Galleries

Raphael: Well, there's the stupidly obvious Ultimate Animanga Archive (, which I believe is still the most comprehensive index of series-related anime pics out there.

For more specialized interests, Norimaru's Ladies () has been somewhat of a guilty pleasure of mine. Featuring loads of fan-art of pretty much any female video game character out there, this is a site you can spend quite a bit of time clicking away at. The quality of the pics are variable, but there are some real gems to be found out there, including the loveliest CG portrait of Sakura from SFZ I've ever seen. ^_^

Carlos:  And most of the Leona pics and some other King of Fighters fanarts were done by my fiancee, so I can't say I'm not biased towards them =) Another site to check out is Neko's Saber Marionettes J Shrine (), run by Rachel Korthals. Though a bit on the slow side due to the server, this picture gallery is one of the most comprehensive picture sites of Saber Marionette J on the web, and the origin of practically every picture of Marine online.  (Sure, SMJ Again wasn't that great, but the art's still wonderful!)

Humor Sites

Carlos: For some more, ahh, irreverent fun with your anime, check out The Food Court (). It certainly isn't for the squeamish or younger children, but it's funny as heck. ^_^;; Another humorous site to check out is the Clark Steel Shrine
(), run by Natalie Carpenter, Christi's younger sister, and cosplayer on the West Coast convention circuit. (If you saw Bolt from Eat-man at AX99 or San Diego Comic-Con, that was her. Yes, her.) If you ever wanted to see what Clark Steel would look like as Ranma ... or as one of the Gundam Wing boys ... or as Cutey Honey(!) ... well, at least don't ever accuse it of being a typical King of Fighters site, because it just plain isn't. (And that's a good thing ^_^)

Raphael: Again, I'll go with the stupidly obvious with the Anime Marriage Prospects (), truly a classic in the anime humor department. This site takes otakudom to its logical extreme. But I enjoy the site waaay too much to say anything against it.

One more site worth mentioning is If I Become An Anime Character (). Much in the spirit of the famed Laws of Anime and the If I Were An Evil Overlord list, IIWAAC offers pointed observations on what a smart anime character _should_ do to ensure longevity, success, girls, etc. Some are better than others, but the place is definitely worth looking at.


Carlos: When Christi and I went to San Diego Comic-Con International this past year, one anime distributor really impressed us: AnimeWorks (). Kite aside, AnimeWorks is rapidly becoming one of our favorite (if not the favorite) US distributor. Not every one of their releases is a five-star, but it's nice to see a company taking chances on titles we never thought would see the light of day in America. Not only that, but it was the company's staff that was promoting Shinesman as *the* anime to watch (and were they ever right!).

Another site I'd like to promote is Planet Neo ().  This is the online branch to a startup anime store here in the Phoenix area that we support, and soon they're putting up resin model kits and other good stuff for sale.

For sheer list of titles, I often visit fansub list sites. I don't condone selling of fansubs, or fansubbing of titles commercially available in North America, but as far as titles which may never make it over to the United States (i.e. most '80s magical girl shows), this is probably to only way to get copies short of ponying up lots of money for LDs (keep in mind Japan hardly uses VHS anymore) of titles that may or may not be available anymore. (Oh, and of course, you also need an LD player...) () is THE place to go if you're looking for new titles (or older, overlooked titles).

Raphael: I'll be Captain Obvious yet one more time by reminding everyone that AnimeNation () is comprehensive, hassle-free, and fast! There might be a more efficient way to trade hard-earned dollars for anime, but I'm not sure I'd really want to know about it.  ^_^;

Miscellaneous/Shameless Plugs/Etc.

Carlos: While we're here, I'd also like to plug yet another site of a close friend. (Okay, so it's blatant nepotism, but at least they're good sites!) And yes, it's a Pokemon site: Bandraptor's Nest (), run by Ryah Rosenberg, an avowed Pokemon fanatic. The site seems pretty simple...right until you get to the Team Rocket Crossdressing Page. Then you start to wonder...

Also, I'd like to promote Arizona State University's new Japanese Animation Club (), which has showings every Friday during the semester.   The current president is Heather Skierra, who incidentally, is the Usagi of Usagi's House, a Tempe-based online anime goods store ().  If you're attending ASU or live in the Tempe-Mesa-Chandler area, stop on by!

One more site I'll mention is Chikako Ishikawa's Hesperia (). I don't know her personally, but her site certainly deserves mention for her article Otaku 101
() - and exactly why Americans *really* shouldn't use that word, unless they know what it *really* means. (Yes, I've been guilty of that...and I'm majoring in the Japanese language.)  It's as good a lesson as Perfect Blue.

On a non-anime note - one really fun place to go is Sluggy Freelance (), an online comic by Pete Abrams, who we happened to meet at San Diego Comic-Con. The comic is, well, you have to see it for yourself, because it defies all explanation (in a good way). And yes, you will worship the comic.

Raphael: I was at a time fairly modestly involved in the fan-fiction scene, and had the pleasure of reading many entertaining works of anime fans. Possibly the best value in terms of pound-for-pound entertainment is Stephan Gagne's Slayers Reflect Trilogy (), which not only reads like a bona fide season of Slayers, but is a fantastic epic no Slayers fan should go without reading. Just don't start it if you have things that need to be done (i.e. homework, sleep, eating, etc.).

And I'll plug a few of my friends I've met through the fanfiction scene as well. If you like fanfiction in any capacity (and even if you've never tried it), be sure to check out:
Mike Noakes
Greg Sandborn
Krista Perry
and Jamie and Bridget Wilde
Most of these fics are Ranma 1/2 related, but their writing skills are quite noteworthy, and definitely worth a peek! Plus, they're cool blokes, too. :)

Carlos: By the way, on the Sluggy Freelance site, if you checked the San Diego Comic-Con Report a while back, you may have seen the only known picture of the Assistant Reviewer and I together on the planet (as of yet). Really. It's no glamour shot though...we look so mundane  -_-;;) That about wraps it up for me ... I'll be working on plenty more anime reviews, as well as a little side project I've been working on for quite some time now (read: finally creating my original manga), so keep an eye out, and always feel free to e-mail me at, or at my home address at, which doubles as Christi's e-mail.  (She's more a web partner than assistant, which makes things much easier as far as the website is concerned ^_^)  In any case, happy viewing!

Raphael: And that goes for me, too! Well, the e-mail part of it, at least. will get you in touch with me if you ever want to  chat, talk shop, slam me for a review I wrote, etc. Can't promise I'll respond promptly, but I _will_ respond!

Carlos: And thank you for reading!

Raphael: Yup! Come visit us sometime! Bye for now!

Anipike not being responsible for Acts of God or the vaguaries of humans  ;)
this column will appear 'as and when' articles come in. New articles will
be announced on the "New List" page. (So original, da yo..^^)

Guests' Web Picks @ Anime Web Turnpike™
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Last Update: 12/27/99