Copy-pasting my rant from the previous thread this was in and adding onto it, figured it could get more people to discuss/watch it if it was it's own thread, plus it saves the mod having to split a tangent for this if that does happen.
I will only be going over some of the first season, the second season is even better but im not spoiling that because its so good.
So you have probably never heard of this anime, or if you did you saw it a few years ago and more popular anime were out so you ignored it, Twelve kingdoms came out at a terrible time, Naruto was coming out, Ghost in the shell SAC was popular as fuck and Gundam seed was a thing so nobody payed much attention to this gem.
The thing is the first few episodes don't help matters much either, it partially has the same "problem" (in some peoples eyes) that eva had, it starts out with a very strong leap then slows down to examine the characters, or just character since at the start of both series the people around youko and Shinji don't matter as much as how they affect said characters.
To get down to the basic plot given in the first episode youko is a normal high school girl just living everyday life with her friends until one day a strange man appears to her in class asking her to accept some strange contract she does not entirely understand and is attacked by this crow-like being, eventually Youko and her friends Yuka Sugimoto and Ikuya Asano (who only exists in the anime) get dragged into a strange world that they do not totally understand, Youko's apperance drastically changing in the process.
See the reason i am comparing Youko to Shinji is because Youko (by her own admission later) starts off as a very VERY weak character, she is mostly helpless (and only manages to survive because of gifts other people have given her) and spends a large amount of time crying about how it isn't fair that things happen to her, this is in total contrast to her friend Yuka Sugimoto who jumps at the opportunity to be the "hero" of this new world and is very easily manipulated because of her complex about it, she grows to despise Youko because everyone is concerned about her and how well she is doing despite how weak and useless she is (in her eyes), but there is justification for this, Yuka is constantly teased at school and left alone because people consider her "creepy" so she uses fantasy books as an escape, imagining herself as a great hero and youko only ever hung around with her when the other girls were not looking, she was too concerned about her image.
Next we move on to Ikuya Asano who was solely invented for the anime, unlike most OC anime characters though, he is actually half decent, he creates a driving wedge between Youko and Yuka because even though Yuka is his girlfriend she is much stronger than he is and while he is mostly a nice guy you can read into his lines that he feels his masculinity is at stake when he is around her so when he see's that Youko is feeling sad and alone he moves right in there (believe me he is a nice guy he's just a fuckup) which only adds fuel to Yuka's fire, cant say much more without jumping into season 2 stuff so i leave it at that.
Finally onto Youko herself (post start of series), god i love this woman.
Youko starts off as mentioned before however after Yuka leaves the party she and Asano slowly become more hungry and more desperate, they have been lied to and betrayed several times at this point and Youko considers robbing a Mother and her daughter for thier food when they see them near the river but cant go through with it, eventually Asano is gone and Yuka comes back only to try to kill her and Youko just completely loses trust in people (not helped by Aozaru tormenting her with visions).
And that's where im going to leave it because im not ruining her character dev, though i will say her first major growth as stated in my sig is one of my all time favourite scenes in anime, right up there with the Asuka fight in EoE and the transformation scene in Akira.
Oh and watch the dub, it is imo the definitive version of the anime, the sub is good but the dub is just superb.
First off we have Dorothy Fahn as Youko, you probably know her best as Meryl from Trigun, Kaoru from Rurouni Kenshin or Lilymon from Digimon, she is just amazing in this role and tracks the character perfectly see the reason i prefer this over the Japanese is that in the Japanese version Youko's voice is good and fits her but doesn't really alter that much throughout the series, with Dorothy you can tell the changes Youko is going through by voice alone, she starts off very quiet and reserved ranging to self pity and even being very cold when Youko is left alone at the start and as the character grows her voice becomes more powerful and commanding while at the same time keeping the compassion of the character in there and never letting it leave her.
Major shout out to both Richard Cansino and Kosuke Okano for the dub and Japanese version of Aozaru respectively, they both do an amazing job with the character and it almost feels "joker-ish", you can tell he enjoys every second he torments and berates Youko and his anger at losing control over her was just amazing.
Also hearing kenshin himura as a crazed monkey man is amazing.
Karen Strassman as Yuka Sugimoto does sound a little bit off in the first 2 episodes I'll admit but after that she really gets into the swing of things and you can almost feel the delusional "hero" coming off the screen, my favourite line from her is in the finale she just sounds so..........broken by the experiences, its chilling.
Sorry Kim Strauss but im actually kinda glad you don't voice act much any-more, his performance as Keiki works......but thats about all it does, overall the role is just sort of forgettable which in this dub is kinda bad.
Joshua Seth as Ikuya Asano is great, he doesn't do much here but he provides an extremely sad yet dangerous performance later on and it makes me sad he doesn't do much voice work any-more.
So yeah that's just the first few episodes im talking about here, i wont talk about the whole series right now unless someone else wants to