Category Archives: Anime

Animation coming out from Japan all gets lumped underneath this banner called Anime. It’s usually slick, beautiful to look at and if you are watching it – undoubtedly loaded with a whole lot of subtitles underneath.

Capsule Reviews: Anime and Movies (The LEGO Movie, Paul, etc.) Animation | Anime | Live-Action | My Reviews 07 AUG 2014

War of the Worlds: Goliath (2012)

War of the Worlds: Goliath is a 2012 Malaysian animated science fiction film directed by Joe Pearson that was released in November 15, 2012 in Malaysia. Unlike other War of the Worlds films, this film is a loose sequel to H. G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds.

With strong dieselpunk/steampunk undertones, the film is set in an alternate reality Manhattan, New York City, in 1914, just before the First World War. As it happened, Earth was invaded and laid waste to by Martian invaders, doing most of their damage via giant tripod battle machines. However, the invaders eventually succumbed to common Earth bacteria, thus allowing humanity to recover and rebuild.

However, the aliens are set to return, now immune to Earth’s bacteria, setting the stage for a second confrontation. This time around though, humanity, having learned a few tricks of their own since the first war, are ready – as are their giant battle mecha!

Honestly, this wasn’t very good as a whole. The backdrops are generally beautiful and well animated, but the main characters and action sequences not so much. Simple lines, over-muscular builds on all the male characters, and often very flat CG overlay effects (particularly for things like fire, lasers and explosions), means that visually not everything works on this one. The story is relatively simple and just a little too ‘rah rah’ for me as well, and I have to be honest, despite one or two nice ideas (particularly the steampunk aspect of it all), I struggled to make it through this one in a single sitting.

It isn’t for kids I don’t think (given all the death rays employed to great success), but it doesn’t really work for adults either, leaving this film stranded in a bit of a no man’s land scenario really. Not recommended, nor worth the time.

Rotten Tomatoes rating: N/A

war of the worlds goliath movie

The LEGO Movie (2014)

The Lego Movie is a 2014 computer animated adventure comedy film directed and co-written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, and featuring the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, and Morgan Freeman.

Based mainly on the Lego line of construction toys, the film tells the story of an ordinary Lego minifigure named Emmet prophesied to save the Lego universe from the tyrannical Lord Business who plans to use the Kragle to glue everything in place.

Sounds simple enough, but oh my goodness, what a fantastic, heartfelt film that is guaranteed to please absolutely anyone who watches it – provided of course they’ve had some sort of exposure to LEGO in their lifetime. It pushes all the right buttons, features humour on levels for both young and old, carries a huge sense of nostalgia for older viewers, and then to top it all off, tugs equally hard at the heartstrings at the very end.

It’s a fantastic tale, that is brilliantly done, featuring the perfect voice actors, fantastically clever visuals and an awesome soundtrack. Having gushed all that, by now you might just have guessed as to how much I enjoyed The LEGO Movie – and just how much I recommend you see it, especially with your kids!

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 96%

the lego movie emmet batman and wild style

Paul (2011)

Paul is a 2011 British-American Comic science fiction road film directed by Greg Mottola and written by and starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, with Seth Rogen as the voice of the title character. The film is about two British science fiction fans who meet an ET-like alien who has a sarcastic manner and a penchant for alcohol and cigarettes. The two help the alien to escape secret service agents who are pursuing him so he can return to his home planet.

Hmm, I have to say, I’ve come to realize that I’m not actually such a big fan of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost buddy movies after all. Paul has a moment or two, but to be honest, it felt as if it just lumbered through some over the top scenarios (one after the other) and just didn’t put in the necessary laugh a minute punches to make it a memorable comedy film. Maybe it is because I’m a little jaded, but I have to say, I can’t really remember enjoying this one all that much.

Still, the CG visuals are great, and the soundtrack pretty good too – plus, the surprise ending certainly proved a unsuspected treat!

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 71% (looks like a lot of people enjoyed it after all).

paul movie simon pegg nick frost

Æon Flux (2005)

Four hundred years in the future, Aeon Flux is the top underground operative at war with the totalitarian regime governing what appears to be a perfect society. But is this perfect life hiding a perfect lie? Aeon is on the front lines of a rebellion that will reveal a world of secrets.

Hmm, it’s hard to say that I found Aeon Flux a complete disappointment, primarily because at the end of the day I really did enjoy the visual style, the visuals themselves, and all futuristic concepts on display. That said, the acting is perhaps not the greatest in the world, and there are some action sequences that are just too over the top (read silly) to be enjoyable. The story starts out interesting enough and there is certainly twists and turns that you don’t see coming, but it feels jerky quite often in terms of pacing, and there are just too many implausible logical jumps (and twists), all of which combine with some seriously dull dialogue that eventually just weighs the movie down.

Honestly, it probably isn’t worth watching, even if you adored the original MTV cartoons. Unless of course you’re a big Charlize Theron fan that is.

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 10% (That rating seems a little harsh to me)

aeon flux movie charlize theron

The Skull Man (2007)

Studio BONES adapted Skull Man into an anime TV series which premiered on Fuji TV in April 2007. The series is directed by Takeshi Mori and written by Yutaka Izubuchi. Unlike the previous Skull Man, the story closely focuses on a journalist named Hayato Mikogami who returns to his hometown at Otomo to investigate strange rumors of killings done by a man wearing a skull mask. Tailed tightly by a young photographer, Kiriko Mamiya, the two soon uncover the many strings of connections between the victims, a local pharmaceutical company, a mysterious new religious sect, and strange half human, half animal creatures, which roam the night streets for blood.

Nice and short, lots of intrigue and some decent twists and turns (even if the plot does hasten a little too fast towards the end) makes for an enjoyable viewing that starts out strong, fumbles a bit during the middle, and then picks up some good steam to deliver an action-packed finale – which doesn’t necessarily satisfy the viewer mind you. Dark visuals, slick animation and a generally likable cast makes for a decent drama/horror watch that will certainly entertain followers of the genre.

In the end, I did enjoy the viewing, though I can’t necessarily say that I loved it. Worth catching given the slickness of production though.

the skull man anime

Review: InuYasha the Movie: Affections Touching Across Time (2001) Anime | My Reviews 04 JUL 2014

When Kagome’s arrow shattered the Shikon no Tama, its shards scattered across feudal Japan, putting power into even the most lowly of creatures’ hands. Now, surrounded by their friends and fighting comrades, Inuyasha and Kagome must journey across Japan, locating the shards and righting the wrongs which they have caused.

Two hundred years ago during the Mongol invasion of Japan, a powerful Chinese demon named Hyoga attempted to enter Japan with the intent of collecting the souls of the dead. Inuyasha’s demon father entered into battle with this powerful enemy and the resulting backlash destroyed the entire Mongol invasion fleet. Hyoga was defeated and imprisoned within the Tree of Ages in the Forest of No Return, with one of Inuyasha’s father’s fangs as the seal.

When one of the Shikon no Tama shards embedded itself into a tree, its power triggered the release of Morenmaru, son of Hyoga, from his own imprisonment. Now the moth-controlling Morenmaru seeks the power of Inuyasha’s Tetsusaiga, in a bid to release Hyoga’s energy from the Tree of Ages. Should he do this, he will inherit his father’s will and power and be able to absorb all the souls from the land, turning him into something akin to a God.

Gathering more Chinese demons around him, Morenmaru now seeks to tear apart Inuyasha’s group and take Tetsusaiga for himself – and with the ability to seize control of peoples’ bodies, friends are soon going to find themselves fighting some very familiar faces. Sango and Miroku are going to have to face and fight their own demons, while Inuyasha is going to have to fight the hardest battle of them all – Kagome!

The ripples of Morenmaru’s quest for power are going to be felt throughout all of time.

InuYasha the Movie: Affections Touching Across Time is the first movie release based on the hugely popular Inuyasha anime series aired on Japanese television. Inuyasha is based on the manga by Rumiko Takahashi, the same person responsible for bringing the world Ranma 1/2, Maison Ikkoku and Urusei Yatsura. The movie is specifically targeted at viewers of the regular Inuyasha series and therefore foregoes lengthy background information which may thus be a little off-putting to viewers new to the Inuyasha world.

For those of you that are new to the franchise, Inuyasha is a dog half-demon or hanyou who is on a mission to claim the power of the magical Shikon no Tama for himself and use it to turn him into a full-blooded youkai (demon). Kagome is a time-displaced girl who is the heroine of the Inuyasha saga. Travelling back to the feudal ages from present day Tokyo, the spiritually powerful Kagome befriends Inuyasha and slowly begins to bring out the humanity of this antisocial hanyou. Her accidental destruction of the mysterious Shikon no Tama that lends power to anyone it comes in contact with, led her to join forces with Inuyasha on a quest to recover the shards of the jewel and undo any damage caused by it. They are joined by Miroku, the perverted monk who controls the fearsome air void in his right hand, the youkai exterminator Sango and her pet youkai, Kirara, and lastly the child fox demon Shippo. The wise but cowardly old flea youkai, Myouga is also on hand to lend them some advice should they ever need it. Together they travel across feudal Japan, slaying monsters, righting wrongs and slowly rebuilding the magical Shikon jewel.

The film is based somewhere after the 35th episode of the television series, but manages to stay clear from impacting upon the television series’ storyline or time line. The story revolves around a Chinese youkai that awakens after a Shikon no Tama shard frees him from his sealed imprisonment. Morenmaru immediately sets about fulfilling his father’s mission from more than 200 years ago, seeking to capture the souls from this very land. But to acquire his father’s power and will, Morenmaru requires Inuyasha’s Tetsusaiga to break the seal on his father’s grave.

The story is well written and beautifully self-contained, making it one of the strongest Inuyasha stories to date. Not working in the half-hour constraint of a normal episode, the movie tells a complete story that is filled with the usual Inuyasha action, suspense, fantasy, romance and comedy. Though the film’s main story focuses on the battle between Inuyasha and Morenmaru, its main theme focuses very squarely on the developing relationship between Kagome and Inuyasha.

The artwork is of the usual Inuyasha high standard, with characters and backgrounds being very solidly portrayed. The colours are bright and the action sequences smooth and exciting. The special light effects are also well done, adding to the production as a whole. The voice acting is good, with the same voice cast used as in the regular television series. The movie boasts a strong soundtrack that really adds depth to the cinematic experience.

If you are a fan of the Inuyasha series then this is a must watch. It is action-packed, makes you laugh and even tugs a little at your heartstrings. A fine production, the only flaw being that it doesn’t perhaps cater for introductory viewers as much as it should. Still, The Love that Transcends Time is a highly recommended and polished addition to the Inuyasha universe.

InuYasha the Movie Affections Touching Across Time

(Historical Note: This was written back in November 2004. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then.)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/InuYasha_the_Movie

Review: Jungle wa itsumo Hare nochi Guu (2001) Anime | My Reviews 28 JUN 2014

Deep in a forest on a remote tropical island, far removed from the mainland, lives a peaceful village. The people there live in a strange combination of the modern and the old. Access to modern technologies yet sticking to the old ways is the way things get done around here. One little family that lives in the village consists of the mother Ueda and her son Hale.

Hale is a hyperactive loud kid, who up to now has enjoyed his life. He enjoys his video games tremendously, even if he does occasionally forget to save them.

But the village’s peaceful lifestyle is about to change. Enter Guu. Guu is a young girl who is found and adopted by Hale’s mother. But there is something strange about Guu. She has two distinct personas and she swallows things. Whole. In fact, the more Hale looks at it, the less human Guu is.

But Hale is certain of one thing though – wherever Guu goes, problems are sure to follow.

Jungle Wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu is a highly entertaining comedy romp that aims to tickle your funny bone as much as possible. Set in a modern-day jungle, the story revolves around the hyperactive and highly stressed Hale and the mysterious, anarchy-bringing Guu. Hale is basically a very nice boy with his own set of troubles but who is always thinking of others. Guu on the other hand is not even remotely human. Able to swallow almost everything in sight, Guu appears to be from a completely different dimension. Packed into the body of a young girl, Guu seeks to cause chaos and generally make Hale’s life as difficult as possible. Playing on Guu’s otherworldliness, the show takes on a very surreal aspect. However, this allows for a lot of unexpected and extremely hilarious humour to creep into the show. The series consist of loosely connected once-off stories that put Hale in a series of difficult situations.

However, one is always reminded throughout the show of a slightly darker story thread weaving its way through the series. Things like why Hale’s mom is living in the jungle in the first place and Hale’s missing father adds depth to an otherwise pure comedic series.

The characters that inhabit this show are a bright and bawdy bunch, each with their own personal wit and charm. The jungle is also inhabited by a variety of very strange and unusual-looking creatures, the strangest of which probably being the Pokute.

The animation is bright and fairly simplistic. However, the characters are well animated and the use of caricatures and super-deformed artwork during the show works very well in the comedic moments. In fact, the general smoothness of the animation allows for a lot of the show’s humour to seamlessly be brought to light.

The music score for the series is upbeat with a great jungle rhythm. As the show progresses, a slightly more dramatic style of score does however begin to creep in. However, the show is generally characterised by its fun and upbeat musical score. The voice actors for this show are really good and Hale’s hyperactive, energy-driven character is perfectly carried out. Guu’s slow, monotonous voice is sheer brilliance as well.

This show won’t tug at any heartstrings, but it may very well tickle your funny bone. Sit back and enjoy the weird, surreal world of Jungle Wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu.

Jungle wa itsumo Hare nochi Guu

(Historical Note: This was written back in June 2004. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then.)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jungle_wa_itsumo_Hare_nochi_Guu

Review: Initial D: Third Stage (2001) Anime | My Reviews 22 JUN 2014

Fujiwara Takumi exploded onto the street racing scene six months ago, literally sweeping away all competition on the mountain slopes of his local Mt. Akina with the aid of his outdated Toyota AE86. Gone is the self-conscious, sleepy Takumi who wasn’t interested in racing one bit, only to be replaced by a young man who is yearning to become a proper racer of the highest regard.

There are only a few more weeks of school left, and Takumi and his best friend Itsuki need to begin deciding what to do with their rest of their lives. For some people it is easy to map out the future they want to achieve, but for others like Takumi, this can be one of the hardest decisions ever made in their lifetime.

The best and most famous street racer in the Kanto prefecture, a man Takumi has already defeated, Takahashi Ryosuke has extended a hand in friendship to the young man, offering him a place on his new elite team that is being formed. Under Ryosuke’s tutelage, Takumi will gain experience and skills never dreamt of before. But Takumi has always been a loner, so just how can he answer Ryosuke yet?

And then there is the unfinished business with Sudou Kyouichi, leader of Irohazaka’s Emperors racing team. Last time they battled, Kyouichi defeated Takumi thanks to a blown engine. Now, the AE86 has been restored and Takumi will battle Kyouichi again in an effort to restore his lost pride.

The AE86 can never rest on its laurels though. Another challenger has emerged from the woodwork, this time a legacy from Takumi’s father’s racing days. The son of Fujiwara Bunta’s greatest ever rival has come to battle Takumi – and regain some of his father’s glory. Against this challenge from both father and son, Takumi is going to have to turn to the most unexpected of sources for advice.

Amongst all these battles though, another battle of a different kind rages on. Despite what he saw and how he feels about it, Takumi still holds a torch for Mogi Natsuki. Though she is trying to right her sins of the past, will it be enough to bring these once friends back together again? Perhaps the right circumstances are all that are needed to force this relationship back on the tracks.

All in all, life if pretty busy for Takumi on his journey to becoming a true street racer!

Initial D: Third Stage brings the exciting world of the two Initial D television series’ to the big screen. A movie aimed mainly at existing fans of the title, Third Stage attempts to finish off the plot threads that remained after the two television series’ had completed. Takumi is again the focal point of the story that revolves around the exciting world of street racers, finding one’s goal in life, and first love relationships.

Although there is a brief background given in the story, first-time viewers to the Initial D genre will miss an awful lot of just what exactly is going on. As per usual, the movie features almost the entire cast of people from the first series, as well as a few exciting new ones.

The story however does feel a little forced, particularly because it feels so linear. It is as if the director kind of forced himself through all the remaining plot issues, neatly tying them up, one by one. The problem is that this kind of takes away from the excitement and flowing of the story. Nevertheless, as proper Initial D material requires, the action is fast paced and will without a doubt keep you glued to the edge of your seat as Takumi’s battered old Toyota takes on all challengers.

The animation has again went through an upgrade, with the 2D animation just about completely shaking the bad character style which so defined the first stage episodes. Still, the characters remain instantly recognisable, with no one losing any of their distinct appeal. The major change to the animation comes in the form of the updated CG special affects and their integration into the 2D surroundings. No longer plagued by the two shots that looked horrible when put together, the CG now blends seamlessly with the 2D, causing a much smoother and spectacular visual feast.

For the racing sequences, Initial D has once again turned to its ‘Euro dance’ beats that so characterised the first two seasons. The music is fast-paced and makes you want to get out there and race. The voice cast is pretty much the same as for the television show, meaning that all your favourite characters maintain their unique personalities. All in all, nothing is bad about the sounds of Initial D: Third Stage.

This is an exciting movie to watch, racing fan or not. Although it has lost some of the underdog charm of the first stage, it still tells one great story of skill triumphing over money and is a must watch for Initial D lovers, simply because it beautifully closes off many of the plot lines left begging at the end of the television series.

initial d third stage anime movie

(Historical Note: This was written back in January 2005. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then.)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Initial_D

Capsule Reviews: Television and Movies (Legend of Korra, Babalas, etc.) Animation | Anime | Live-Action | My Reviews 23 APR 2014

I don’t really feel like typing up reviews any more, and in truth, I haven’t been doing so for a while. However, I do like coming back every couple of years to see if my thoughts on a particular movie or television show has subsequently changed (like how I found Love Hina hilarious the first time I watched it and then atrocious the subsequent time I tried to rewatch it), hence this quick capsule reviews.

The Legend of Korra [Season 2] (2013)

The second season, Book Two: Spirits, is set six months after the events of the first season, with Korra learning that restless spirits called Dark Spirits have been terrorizing the south seas. Feeling that she can not learn to calm the Dark Spirits through Tenzin, Korra turns to her uncle Unalaq, the Northern Water Tribe chief, for guidance. However, as civil war among the Water Tribe branches erupts from the Northern Tribe’s forced occupancy, Korra learns that the exile of her father Tonraq was arranged by Unalaq who is using her to achieve his own agenda. Which now means that Korra and her comrades will have to unite once more in order to put a stop to whatever it is that Unalaq is putting in motion!

As with the first season, I absolutely loved this second helping of the Legend of Korra. Fantastic animation and backdrops complement an intricately woven story that carries the right amounts of drama, action and of course humour when necessary. It’s a great blend of elements that then combines well with a fantastic voice cast and soundtrack, making for a very polished, and very enjoyable animated television show.

avatar the legend of korra backdrop

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)

When time travel allows a past wrong to be righted for The Flash and his family, the ripples of the event prove disastrous as a fractured, alternate reality now exists where a Justice League never formed, and even Superman is nowhere to be found. Teaming with a grittier, more violent Dark Knight and Cyborg, Flash races to restore the continuity of his original timeline while this new world is ravaged by a fierce war between Wonder Woman’s Amazons and Aquaman’s Atlanteans.

Another hit addition to the DC Original Animated Movie stable, The Flashpoint Paradox is a slick and polished animated film with high production values, featuring a great story (loads of action, surprise character reveals, and plenty of drama), an excellent score and fantastic voice acting. I thoroughly enjoyed this animated outing and will definitely watch it again in the near future.

Community [Season 5] (2014)

Jeff Winger and most of the old study group find themselves back at Greendale, after failing to have made the cut in the real world following their graduation. Now on the committee to save Greendale from the various problems that always seem to land at its doorstep, the gang is at again as if they had never left… (though with one or two new faces thrown into the mix, mind you)

So the good news is that Dan Harmon is back. The bad news is that Community should probably not have returned after the third season. They continue to do the same thing over and over again, this time with a slightly tweaked cast, and to be honest, the humour is now very much stale. There is only so much that you can rely on meta-humor and pop culture references in order to make your show funny, and unfortunately this limit feels as very much as it has long since been reached. It’s a pity really to watch this show fizzle out just as much as it has. (Sigh, and to think I absolutely adored the first two seasons of it…)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine [Season 1] (2013)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a comedy television series set in New York, telling the story of a group of detectives in the Nine-Nine Precinct. With a new, by the book, Captain to please, these detectives should probably get themselves back into line – though to be fair, that’s not really how they do things in this particular precinct…

Definitely one of our favourite comedy television shows to sit down to at the moment, the acting team of Andy Samberg, Terry Crews, Andre Braugher, Stephanie Beatriz, Melissa Fumero, Joe Lo Truglio and Chelsea Peretti do a fantastic job of bringing to life some very funny scripts, and with some clever writing and decent plotting to boot, it is no wonder that Chantelle and I can’t wait for the second season to come rolling in!

brooklyn nine-nine backdrop

Man of Steel (2013)

A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.

It is always a bad sign when you are forced to watch a movie over two sittings, and then fall asleep during both sessions. Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel is unfortunately a prime example of a comic book movie that just fails to have any real substance, in fact, making it par for the course when it comes to live action Superman films of recent years. Although the visuals and action sequences are stunning, the character development is non existent and thus one’s emotional attachment to the story is just not where it should be. It is a polished production to be sure, but I just didn’t like it, and the fact that they did a very un-Superman-like thing at the end did just enough for me to simply not have enjoyed the experience. Quite a pity really.

DC Super Villains Superman: Worlds At War! (2013)

This is a compilation disc pulling together episodes from Superman: The Animated Series (10 stories), plus 3 Superman-centric episodes of Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Everything is Darkseid and Apokolips based, meaning that naturally there is no surprise as to the flavour of the villain of the day for all the various stories.

Nevertheless, it is a good trip down memory lane if you haven’t seen any of the classic DC animated universe stuff for a long time, and pleasingly the quality of the story telling remains right up there. That said, chances of you not having seen this material before is pretty slim, and if by chance you haven’t in fact seen these before, then honestly you’d be better off purchasing the series DVD releases instead, because obviously they give more variety in the stories being told. Still, I did enjoy seeing these again…

Tiger & Bunny [Season 1] (2011)

In a futuristic city, people born with super abilities train to be Heroes, sponsored do-gooders that protect the city and fight crime for points, all in front of a cheering television audience. One of the older heroes, old fashioned, clumsy but with a will of steel, Wild Tiger is about to be assigned a brand new partner – the calculating and efficient Barnaby Brooks Jr. The thing is, Barnaby Brooks Jr. brings somewhat of a history with him – and its a mystery which both he and the old man will have to work together on in order to solve!

This is a difficult one. I’m a bit off anime these days, but I have to admit that overall I really did enjoy this show, despite its sometime over the top goofiness and silliness that at times threatened to derail the seriousness and drama of the story being told. The animation is a good blend of traditional and CG, and the action sequences are well choreographed, particularly the various fight scenes. However, the character models are sometimes a little too goofy for my liking. It’s an action ability-powered hero story at the heart of it all, and as such, delivers on the points that it is expected to, thus making for a watchable and relatively fun show at the end of the day. That said, I can’t ever see myself re-watching it any time in the near future…

tiger and bunny backdrop

Babalas (2013)

An events co-ordination company executive goes in search of the nostalgic Boet and Swaer from the old Castrol ads to lure them to a big gala event at Emperor’s Palace. What follows is a road trip of misadventure, fueled of course by copious amounts of alcohol – the good old fashioned South African way!

I hate to say it, but the trailer for this movie is what reeled me in – I definitely thought it could be funny and a bit of a trip down memory lane to see a movie revolving around old South African television adverts that used to air when I was growing up. Sadly, that was not the case, and this time around, the trailer is by far better than the movie itself. It’s not very funny, Jack Parow is really not an actor, and in short, I should probably just have picked up a Hollywood blockbuster instead. Still, I did rather enjoy the very cool South African soundtrack that accompanied this rather limp script…

Review: Argento Soma (2000) Anime | My Reviews 28 MAR 2014

argento soma anime dvdIn 2054, an unknown alien life form fell from the sky. The destruction began and the United Nations government was forced reorganise the army to oppose them and to defend the Earth. This combat action was dubbed ‘The first encounter action’. In 2059, after five years, the battle is still going on.

Takuto Kaneshiro is a young scientist, currently completing his studies at a prestigious aerospace university. His girlfriend, Maki Agata, is also a young scientist, currently working with Prof. Noguchi to decipher more about the mysterious aliens. Their current project is a gigantic alien iron life form that fell from the sky. They finally managed to piece the patchwork giant up again and now hope to resurrect it.

But the experiment to awaken Frank, or Extra-1 as the military designates it, goes horribly wrong. As the facility known as Morgue crumbles around his ears, Kaneshiro can only watch in horror as the monster Extra-1 crushes his beloved Maki and Prof. Noguchi.

Somehow Kaneshiro’s life is sparred, but he is left horribly scarred and disfigured. As he lies recovering in the hospital bed, a mysterious man with red-hair approaches him. The man proposes a deal. If he gave Kaneshiro the power to destroy Extra-1, will Kaneshiro become his tool? With hatred burning in his heart, Kaneshiro accepts the stranger’s offer. He awakes to find himself with a new face, a new name and a new identity. Ryu Soma.

He joins up with the elite military anti-alien task force known as Funeral. Using their advanced weaponary such as the Sarg Mecha and the Mistel carrier, Funeral wage a non-stop war against the alien menace. Ryu fights alongside them, but his only real opponent shall ever be Extra-1.

Argento Soma is a very stylish artistic anime title. The stories are well told, the use of imagery nicely done and the music nicely presented. The ideas being portrayed are interesting and so you feel that this series should be a good package. Unfortunately it isn’t. It’s not bad, but the pace at which the story unfolds is so badly handled that you find yourself wishing the series would end already, that is, if you have continued watching it so far.

As mentioned before the story is relatively interesting. Aliens have invaded Earth and the military have scrambled to stop them. A special division called Funeral is established, and utilizing advanced mecha and machinery, are in charge of stopping the alien incursions. A pathwork alien falls in their hands and becomes their tool against the aliens. However, the main character, Takuto Kaneshiro loses his girlfriend as well as a part of his face when they revive the patchwork alien, known as Extra-1. Kaneshiro, pushed by a mystery man, assumes a new identity of Ryu Soma and joins up with funeral. The story focuses on the hate relationship between the two and how this is eventually resolved. The character, alien and mecha designs are all first class and the storytelling is very well done, but the series is let down by horrible pacing.

The animation on Argento Soma is very nicely done, with movements being very fluid and realistic. The aliens take on the same feel as those in Neon Genesis Evangelion, something instantly recognizable to Evangelion fans. The music is atmospheric and the anime has a beautifully melodic opening track. However, the end track sounds kind of out of place, so I usually skip listening to it.

Overall, you can see that the director was trying his best to put forward a polished and artistic piece of work. It would have succeeded too, if it only hadn’t been for the poor story pacing. If you enjoy a good drama and some mecha action, then you might enjoy Argento Soma. Just don’t expect to watch the series all in one go though.

argento soma anime

(Historical Note: This was written back in August 2003. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then.)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argento_Soma

Review: Golden Boy (1995) Anime | My Reviews 21 MAR 2014

golden boy anime 1Oe Kintaro, age 25. A professional wandering spirit, he withdrew from Tokyo University Law School before graduating, but only after he had already completed all the requirements for graduation. Ever since, he has travelled the highways and byways of Japan, trying out new jobs and positions, and learning about life to the fullest. Riding his favourite bike, the Mikazuki 5, he keeps moving forward, always on the lookout for new knowledge and adventure.

In tip top physical condition and sparkling mental health, his hobby is studying the world (and the girls) around him. And who knows, someday perhaps he may just be destined to save Japan – or even the world.

Or then again, maybe not.

Golden Boy is based on the manga written by Tatsuya Engawa (who even makes a cameo in episode 6). It is an extremely funny 6 part OVA that takes a look into the life of Kintaro Oe, a professional wandering spirit. Kintaro is a free spirit, moving from job to job whilst travelling throughout Japan on his trusty bicycle. Kintaro is a very bright, athletic and healthy boy, though one wouldn’t say so from watching his actions. Kintaro is a good man with a good heart and will go out of his way to help others without them even realising that he is helping them. Coming across as an idiot and a nobody, Kintaro uses this to his advantage to learn more about the world around him. All his experiences are jotted down in his trusty notebook, his crib notes for life. Kintaro’s only weakness is his eyes for beautiful girls. Kintaro is a bit of a pervert, who can’t stop thinking about sex and pretty girls. Although never doing anything about his perverted visions, Kintaro does have one strange vice – the weird obsession with hugging and drinking from the toilet that a pretty girl has used.

The OVA follows Kintaro through six of his adventures, all involving a host of pretty women. He works as a software house janitor, a noodle maker, a swimming instructor, a house boy, an election campaigner and even an animation production assistant. And in each job he finds some girl that needs his help – even if she doesn’t know it yet. The stories are all funny and charming, with one sitting on the edge of their seat to see how Kintaro resolves matters right at the last moment. The only problem with the series if there is one, is that the stories all follow fairly the same plot. Kintaro finds job, Kintaro sees girl, Girl has problems, Kintaro solves them before running off into the sunset. However, given that this is only a six-part series, it gets away with it just fine.

The animation for this title is excellent. The use of facial expressions to emphasize the humour couldn’t have been better done. Every time you see Kintaro doing or thinking something stupid you can’t help but laugh. The women are all sexy and well-proportioned and the action sequences are fluid and exciting. The colours look a bit washed out, but that may just be the copy I watched. The voice acting for both the Japanese and the English versions are good, though I must say that the English version brings across the blithering idiot character of Kintaro across far better than its Japanese counterpart. The opening sequence animation and score aren’t up to much though it must be said.

If you are looking for a good ecchi laugh, the Golden Boy will deliver. A truly funny anime, it is a must see for all serious guy otaku.

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(Historical Note: This was written back in October 2004. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then.)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Boy_(manga)

Review: Get Backers (2002) Anime | My Reviews 14 MAR 2014

getbackers anime 1Mido Ban. The man possessing the Evil Eye. Amano Ginji. The Thunder Emperor. These two men make up the retrieval specialist group known as the Get Backers. You lose something, they will get it back. And their success rate is nearly always 100%.

Unfortunately their luck with money isn’t quite that good. Forever penniless, these two unlikely partners have to try and make do with what they have while they wait for their next request.

Mido Ban is from Europe and possesses what is known as the Evil Eye. The ability to make people see dreams that he controls. He can do this three times a day, but never twice on the same victim. He also has an incredible grip known as his snake bite. Capable of exerting over 200kg of pressure, nothing can free itself from his grip. He is known as a battle genius and is as cold-hearted as a snake.

Amano Ginji on the other hand is a loveable person, with a naive air about him. Friendly to all, Ginji looks like he couldn’t hurt a fly. But he hides a dark past that still haunts his soul. Inside the mysterious city slum known as the Infinity Castle, he ruled the undercity as the Thunder Emperor, leader of the strongest gang there, the Volts. But this person, capable of generating huge volts of electricity throughout his body, escaped that life, and is now making a new start with his best friend, Ban.

Together with all the other characters they meet along their jobs, Ban and Ginji are living their lives as they see fit. They are the consumate professionals. They are the Get Backers!

Get Backers. Mido Ban and Amano Ginji. Two of the most unlikely partners in the most unlikely sort of job. Retrieval Specialists. Get Backers is an entertaining romp about people with super abilities, usually ending up battling each other.

The stories aren’t bad and the missions are always entertaining. There are some pretty good storylines, backed up with a number of witty once off episodes. Overall, the characterisation of this serious is pretty good, and it is pretty much the interesting characters that make the show what it is.

While watching it, you can’t help but be reminded of a super hero comic book. Everyone has these awesome abilities. The series tries to mix action, drama and comedy, and succeeds pretty well. Though the comedy does at times feel a little forced.

The musical score and voice acting is spot on, making for a very enjoyable watch. The animation is of high quality, with a lot of detail going into the characters.

At times, the series did feel a little boring, but as you get further into the series you begin to enjoy it quite a lot. Humorous, action-packed and dramatic, this show keeps you on your toes and keeps you guessing as to what is real and what isn’t. It isn’t a bad show and you will probably enjoy it if you like a little light-hearted action.

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(Historical Note: This was written back in February 2004. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then.)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GetBackers

Review: Great Teacher Onizuka (2000) Anime | My Reviews 07 MAR 2014

great teacher onizuka anime 1Meet Onizuka Eikichi, former leader of the notorious Onibaku Motorcycle Gang from Shonan. 2nd Dan Black-belt in Karate, Eikichi is as strong as he is vicious. Known as Evil Eikichi, the dauntless Onizuka was known for fighting and decimating his opponents. He obeyed no rules except those he made himself.

Six years ago, Onizuka and his fellow gang member, Danma Ryuji, gave up that life and moved to Tokyo. Ryuji attended professional school and now manages a motorcycle shop. Onizuka is studying to be a teacher – albeit so that he can get closer to all the pretty schoolgirls in short skirts. His path has been opened to him. He will strive to be the greatest teacher ever.

His chance finally arrives when he is accepted at the prestigious private school, Holy Forest Academy. He’s been assigned the school’s most problematic class to deal with, but that shouldn’t faze him too much. Using his unique approach to life and applying it to teaching, Onizuka strives to make school a fun place for all of his students. And as many lessons as he has to teach, he has to learn as well.

No matter the problem, no matter the wall, Onizuka will break it down – and allow people to begin helping themselves. Truly he is: GTO.

Great Teacher Onizuka was one of the biggest hits on Japanese television. It follows the exploits of a gangster-turned teacher Onizuka Eikichi and the lessons he learns and teaches to his students. Although Onizuka is the most unconventional teacher around, he is also the teacher with the biggest heart. He’s naivety and belief in the goodness of the people around him is refreshing, and he willingness to face certain death in order to save his students is inspiring. Plus his general perverted nature is just fun to watch.

GTO introduces an interesting and complex group of characters, and follows the story of how Onizuka is accepted as a teacher at the Holy Forest Academy and subsequently assigned to the school’s most problematic class. They specialise in terrorising and driving out teachers. It would appear that something in the past occurred to break down their teacher-student relationship. And it is up to Onizuka to try and solve this as well as chase away each problem child’s personal demons.

The stories are wonderfully and powerfully scripted, each story arc flooring one with a wonderful moral. But it is the journey to uncovering this moral that makes GTO such a pleasure to watch.

The animation for GTO is quite brilliant. The style is crisp and clean, and is able to switch to the totally ridiculous faces and expressions at any time. For prime examples of this, watch any scene involving Onizuka and vice-principal Uchiyamada.

The musical score for Onizuka is brilliant. There are two great opening and three closing titles for the series. But the real winner is the uplifting music played when any problem finally gets resolved. Guaranteed to leave a lump in your throat everytime.

Overall, GTO is one of my favourite titles of all times. Hilariously funny, it manages to balance its extreme humour with extreme seriousness. GTO is a must see for all true Otakus. Grab your motorcycle and join the legend.

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(Historical Note: This was written back in November 2003. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then.)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Teacher_Onizuka