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Cat’s Eye (1983 – 1985)

Weekly Shōnen Jump is one of the best selling and longest running manga anthology magazines in Japan. The first issue of which releasing with a cover date of August 1. 1968. One author who has had his work published in this magazine is Tsukasa Hojo. He’s particularly seen a lot of success with the 35 volume series City Hunter. But that is not what we’re talking about today. I’m here today to recommend you guys another one of Tsukasa Hojo’s works. Today we’re gonna be talking about the series he did before City Hunter. That being Cat’s Eye.

So Cat’s Eye is a 73 episode TV anime that released between 1983 – 1985. It was produced by studio TMS. As well as being directed by both Yoshio Takeuchi and Kenji Kodama. Takeuchi was responsible for the first 36 episodes and Kodama was responsible for the last 37. Meaning that there is a bit of a sudden style change after episode 36. And like I said in the introduction, Cat’s Eye is based on a manga, written and illustrated by Tsukasa Hojo. It was being published in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1981 to 1985.

In Cat’s Eye we follow the three Kisugi sisters, Rui, Hitomi and Ai. During the day they run a nice little cafe called Cat’s Eye. But by night time, the three sisters turn into the highly skilled art thieves, also known as Cat’s Eye. Coincidence? Well the police certainly seem to think so. But Cat’s Eye aren’t your average art thieves. They only look for specific art pieces. Those being the art that primarily belonged to the collector Michael Heinz. A famous art collect from during the Nazi regime in Germany. He also happens to be the Kisugi sisters father. For unknown reasons, he has gone into hiding. And the reason the Kisugi sisters are stealing these art pieces, is that they hope it will give them a clue as to where their father is hiding. But the middle sister Hitomi also have to be careful her night time work does not get in the way of her relationship with Toshio Utsumi. A detective assigned to the Cat’s Eye case, who also happens to be Hitomi’s boyfriend.

So to just get right into it, Cat’s Eye as a series is a lot of fun. If you’ve ever seen Lupin III, you know exactly what you’re getting here. It’s a lot of the same fun hijinks of how they can fool the police and avoid getting caught. But what separates Cat’s Eye from Lupin is primarily two things. The first is that it’s an all female main cast. The second is that we get more in terms of the interpersonal relationship between the characters, as well as more day to day stuff. Cat’s Eye basically just takes the things that works in Lupin and tries to add it’s own little spin to things. Some things work and others not so much. But all in all, it’s a pretty decent package. If I were to find any flaw it would be that it goes on for a bit too long without really changing. So 73 episodes might feel like a lot because of it. The other negative is that the series doesn’t end. They just give us a final episode, letting us know it’s the final episode and then leave us without really having solved the mystery surrounding the Kisugi sisters main motivation. The whereabouts of their father or why he even went into hiding. An actual ending does exist, but you need to read the manga for that.

Cat’s Eye is available for streaming on Crunchyroll, though not for everyone due to licensing restrictions. You can find it here: https://www.crunchyroll.com/cats-eye

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Quack Experimental Animation Excel Saga (1999 – 2000)

Comedy. We all know it and we all love it. We might not all agree on what is and isn’t funny, but I think you’re gonna have to look a long time for someone who doesn’t enjoy any kind of humor. However comedy can also be very difficult to get across. Especially when you’re trying to translate humor from one language/culture to another. But there is one gag comedy anime that manages to translate its humor, at least if you’re knowledgeable about anime and otaku culture from the 80s and 90s. I’m of course talking about the wacky gag comedy called Excel Saga.

So Excel Saga is a 26 episode gag parody anime that makes fun of anime and otaku culture of the pre 2000s. It’s based on a manga by Koushi Rikdo that is also called Excel Saga. It tells the story of Excel, Hyatt and Il Palazzo. Three members of the «evil» organization ACROSS, that plans to take over the world. Not that they’ll be able to do that anytime soon with only three members. So for now they are only focusing on taking over a single city. But try as they might, Excel and Hyatt never seem to be able to carry out even the simplest missions given to them by Il Palazzo. But watching them fail in spectacular ways is half the fun!

Now the reason why Excel Saga works where a lot of other comedy anime fails is simple. It’s because the show is very much made for anime fans and otaku at the time. They parody popular anime from the 80s and 90s like Fist of the North Star and Space Battleship Yamato, among others. So as long as you’re familiar with anime like that, you’re very likely to get the humor in this show. They also take common tropes at the time and take them to their logical extreme. Like Hyatt who is the frail girl character. As a matter of fact, she’s so frail that she is constantly struggling with nosebleeds, and even the slightest surprise could just kill her. This, as well as the fact that the show feels like it’s constantly going at 100 miles per hour, is why this show works. And that is why I think that this show is worth watching.

Alright, so if you’re interested in watching this I have some bad news. As of the time writing this, it seems that Excel Saga is not streaming anywhere. It was available on Funimation, but I’m not sure if it’s getting moved to Crunchyroll. The good news however is that you can get a hold of it if you’re willing to buy it physically if you live in the US or Canada. Then you can get the complete series DVD on Crunchyroll’s store here. https://store.crunchyroll.com/products/excel-saga-the-complete-series-anime-classics

If you want to know more about this series, then you can check out my video on it right here!

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Master Keaton (1998 – 2000)

In the world of anime there is one name that that grabs people’s attention. That name is Naoki Urasawa. A great story writer who’s been responsible for some great series like Monster (2004). But there is one series by him that you don’t hear talked about very much. That is the 24 episode TV series from 1998 – 1999 and the sequel 15 episode OVA from 1999 – 2000 called Master Keaton.

Master Keaton tells us the story of Taichi Keaton. He is a half-British, half-Japanese archeologist, university lecturer and former Special Air Service (SAS) veteran. We follow him on his current main job as an insurance OP working for the insurance company Lloyds. Keaton travels around the world and investigates insurance fraud. On those investigations he experiences everything from a weird immortal Russian man who is running from the Russian mafia, to a father who is looking for his long lost daughter who was born after he had escaped from a concentration camp in East Germany.

Master Keaton is a mixture of many different genres that comes together to make this episode masterpiece. While that may sound bad, we promise you it’s not. This show makes the most of it’s variety of genres such as mystery, action and slice of life. And thanks to its episodic nature, it can easily make these switches between genres without it feeling out of place. Now while we would like to show you where you could go to watch this masterpiece right now, the truth is that Master Keaton is sadly not available for streaming anywhere. You might be able to find a physical copy on Amazon, and if you understand Japanese you can find copies on on CDJapan.

If you’re interested in hearing more about Master Keaton you can check out our video about it over on YouTube!

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