Category Archives: My Reviews

Testing out the Hi-Tec Trail OX Chukka | WP Boots My Life | My Reviews 31 OCT 2016

A little while ago I got sent a pair of Hi-Tec Trail OX Chukka | WP boots to give them a bit of a run and see what they are all about. (The odd name becomes a little less odd when you realise that OX stands for crossover – i.e. intended for both casual and trail use, and that the WP stands for waterproof).

dav

When I was younger (and believe it or not, extremely sporty), I used to swear by the Hi-Tec brand when it came to squash shoes which I used for both my badminton and squash court running about. Then I got into hiking, and it was a natural move to again favour the Hi-Tec brand in this particular realm.

Fast forward to today, and I am rather pleased to see them delving into the idea of making boots that are both practical and reasonably stylish as well.

The first thing that surprised me was just how light the shoes felt when I lifted them out of the box. Don’t get me wrong, these are not light as a feather shoes by any stretch of the imagination, but given their very rugged styling, they are in fact a lot lighter than what they look!

mde

As expected, the padding and support from the boot is exceptionally good, whilst the Michelin branded rubber soles are firm and quite ‘grippy’. (Plus, this shoe is so damn comfortable in its fitting. I don’t know how they do it.)

The waterproofing seems to work surprisingly as well, as my socks are yet to get wet whilst wearing these shoes (a mind-boggling feat for my little girls as you might imagine!). That said though, the waterproofing does come at a price of the shoe not being ‘breathable’ in the slightest – so expect sweaty/clammy toes when removing these boots after a long day’s worth of walking!

I’ve genuinely fallen in love with these shoes, meaning that they have now become my defacto go to shoes whenever I need to wear jeans or any other long pants – even if it is for no more than a quick walk to the shopping mall!

dav

(Oh, and naturally they perform quite brilliantly on the more rugged and natural stuff like gravel roads, river beds, vineyard fields, and grassy hills. As one would have expected them to I guess.)

Good shoes then these Hi-Tec OX Chukkas. #EverydayAdventure

sdr

Related Link: Hi-Tec OX Chukka | Hi-Tec SA | Twitter | Instagram

Amadeus Rocks! at Barnyard Theatre Willowbridge My Life | My Reviews 05 JUL 2016

Chantelle and I had a nice run up to Father’s Day this year, first with a date night that saw us enjoy some good food at the recently opened Rooibos restaurant in Strand, followed by the thoroughly entertaining, Shane Black directed “The Nice Guys” starring Russell Crowe and a hilariously good Ryan Gosling.

However, the next evening brought in an even nicer treat in the form of Amadeus Rocks!, a musical show rocking out at the always entertaining Barnyard Theatre at Willowbridge.

Following the success of a previous show entitled Roll Over Beethoven, Amandeus Rocks! replicates the formula by bringing back a resurrected Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart whose goal (other than impressing the ladies) is to change classical music into rock music.

Featuring two pianos, a set of drums, an electric guitar, a bass guitar, and the star of the show, an electric violin – oh, and the fabulous team of nine musicians and singers that brings everything to life, we were treated to a fantastic set of cover songs and instrumentals that covered a range that included classical, classical rock and contemporary pop tunes.

Smoke, lights, sound and a lot of energy makes for an exciting show indeed!

amadeus rocks barnyard theatre willowbridge electric violin in action

Our outing was put together by Rob and Tarryn, who had wanted to treat their respective dads Monty and Herman with a special Father’s Day treat, and in the end we were a nice group of ten (the dads with their wives and all the grown-up kids), with a near front row table and a spread laid out in front of us that definitely was making everyone around us drool in jealousy!

Tarryn certainly doesn’t mess around when she organises a special outing, that’s for sure!

Although the show had less rock content than what I was expecting, it was nevertheless a thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining evening out – with Chantelle salivating over the electric guitar player in particular – and I’m pretty confident that everyone walked out that venue with a massive smile on their faces!

amadeus rocks barnyard theatre willowbridge durbanville bass guitar

amadeus rocks barnyard theatre willowbridge durbanville mozart piano

amadeus rocks barnyard theatre willowbridge durbanville singer

amadeus rocks barnyard theatre willowbridge durbanville

Related Link: Amadeus Rocks! | Barnyard Theatre

Catching The Bats at Theatre on the Bay in Camps Bay My Life | My Reviews 04 JUL 2016

Back in May my dad turned the big 60 (and became a pensioner shortly after – just to sweeten the deal you know), and to celebrate the big event even more, a couple of weeks ago he invited 30 of his close friends and family to join him and mom for dinner and a show at the always entertaining Theatre on the Bay in Camps Bay, Cape Town.

dav

Supper was to be had in the charming onsite SideDish restaurant, which is run by the Dish Food & Social catering group.

Having already pre-selected our meal choices the previous week, we were treated before the show to some delicious food in an equally exquisite (and intimate) venue – with my three course meal consisting of Prego chicken arancini, rocket, peri-peri aioli for starters, followed by a main course comprised of aged rump, sauteed greens, lazy potatoes, and bearnaise. Finally, dessert came in the form of sticky toffee pudding, with a side of amarula ice cream.

Brilliant!

Anyway, a quick cup of coffee to round off the meal, finished literally just in time as the bell below started to ring – heralding the imminent start of the evening’s show downstairs. What show you might be wondering? Well in this case, a surprising performance by one of the more entertaining South African bands from Dad’s era – The Bats!

the bats south african band eddie eckstein paul ditchfield pete clifford derek gordon

The band was originally formed way back in 1964, when Eddie Eckstein, Paul Ditchfield, the late Jimmy Dunning and the late Barry Jarman, burst onto the local scene and became, to many ardent followers, South Africa’s answer to the Beatles. They toured extensively, both locally and internationally, generating more than a hit or two along the way!

Part of their charm was of course the mix of comedy and music that made up their performances, and 50 years later you can still very much see just what an entertaining bunch the lot must have been in their heyday.

the bats south african band electric guitar

The current lineup features Eddit Eckstein (Telly Fun Quiz anyone?), Paul Ditchfield, Pete Clifford and Derek Gordon, and despite the fact that pretty much all these guys are in their 70’s now, they had us completely entertained from start to finish.

Their musical abilities are fantastic, the songs impossible not to like, the chemistry and energy on stage is beyond surprising, and throw in a lot of laughter (and yes, that includes a couple of cringeworthy and sometimes not quite PC jokes) and you’re pretty much guaranteed in walking away from a brilliant evening out with the added bonus of having a massive smile on your face.

What a fun experience.

Neither Chantelle nor I would ever have dreamed that we would have enjoyed seeing someone like the Bats perform – but my goodness, am I glad that we did! :)

the bats band comical cover with eddie eckstein as batman

(Oh, and the girls were pretty chuffed in having Rob and Tarryn as babysitters for a change – just in case you were wondering where the two of them were for the night…)

Related Link: The Bats | Theatre on the Bay | SideDish

Toys for Boys: 4D MASTER: Spitfire Mk. VB Debden Model Plane My Reviews | Toys 08 NOV 2014

Chantelle had a good chuckle as she handed over a shiny silver-wrapped present to me on our recent 5 year wedding anniversary. Apparently during the present purchase process, the sales lady (about to wrap it) had asked if it was for a little boy, to which Chantelle gleefully answered, “No, it is for my husband!”.

Ha ha.

Anyway, not that it matters whatsoever, because underneath all that very shiny wrapping was something pretty damn cool. A 4D Master Spitfire Mk. VB Debden snap to build model airplane.

4d master spitfire mk.vb debden model pieces to completed

As a boy I was in love with World War II flying machines, and my bedroom ceiling was plastered with all sorts of airplanes precariously dangling from strands of fishing line. Some of the larger ones were known to sometimes escape their prestik bonds and fall to the earth, something my Gran discovered head first during one of her holidays down with us in Bellville.

Anyway, this Hong Kong produced toy from the guys at Fame Master is actually seriously fun for young boys as essentially it is an already painted, snap together, high quality model aircraft for which the goal is to see how fast one can actually put it together. It’s built to be taken apart and put back together again, and I have to say, I was truly amazed at the fantastic plastic machining that has gone into the pieces making up this gorgeous but ridiculously named “4D Puzzle”. (Seriously Fame Master, 3″D” + “D”etails does not equal 4D, no matter how much bolding you add to the font.)

All the pieces snap together perfectly, they are designed so that they can’t really be placed wrong, and the end result is a beautiful 1:72 scale model.

Of course it isn’t quite the same as the classic AirFix or Tamiya scale models which you painstakingly glue together, paint, and place decals on, but it does come with just as much satisfaction seeing the finished product, and to be fair, perhaps looking slightly better than if you had to make the whole thing yourself in the first place! ;)

It’s relatively inexpensive to buy, and this one Chantelle picked up from PNA whilst doing supply shopping for her cakes, meaning it’s easy to come by. In short, definitely a recommended toy for a school-going boy interested in putting things together!

4d master spitfire mk.vb debden model box

Related Link: http://www.famemaster.com/product_detail-pid-43-id-303

Capsule Reviews: Movies (Walk of Shame, The Love Punch, etc.) Animation | Live-Action | My Reviews 07 SEP 2014

Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014)

Batman: Assault on Arkham is set in the universe of the Batman: Arkham video game franchise, and occurs after the events of Batman: Arkham Origins. The story focuses primarily on the Suicide Squad, particularly Batman villains Deadshot and Harley Quinn, with Batman in a supporting role. In the film, a Suicide Squad of six hardened, super-powered criminals is dispatched by Amanda Waller to break into Arkham Asylum and retrieve a specific item, where they must contend with the asylum’s inmates, including the dangerous as always Joker, and not to mention the ever present Batman, as they attempt to complete their mission.

When we first heard that the latest offering in the excellent DC Universe Animated Original Movies line was to be yet another Batman title, we sighed. But as it turns out, Batman isn’t exactly the star of this particular outing, making for quite the nice twist as we follow a rampaging group trying to achieve their goal and thus buy their freedom, against some pretty overwhelming odds. It is to date the most violent (and graphically so) outing in this great movie line, but ignoring that this genuinely isn’t a half bad attempt at doing something different and it certainly entertains from start to finish, with more than a few surprises hidden up its sleeve. It’s a solid, good looking animated film that is a great watch for any Batman comic book fans.

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 85%

batman assault on arkham movie screenshot

Walk of Shame (2014)

Walk of Shame stars Elizabeth Banks as a resourceful reporter whose one-night stand with a handsome stranger (James Marsden) leaves her stranded the next morning in downtown Los Angeles without a phone, car, ID, or money – and only 8 hours before the most important job interview of her career.

This movie had me laughing out loud, and as such, is a genuinely laugh out loud comedy that will keep you entertained from start to finish. Elizabeth Banks is thoroughly entertaining in her role, and as a whole the movie is well put together and a proper polished comedy gem, despite the weirdly low Rotten Tomatoes rating. Both Chantelle and I loved it, making it well worth it as a date night watch!

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 12%

walk of shame movie screenshot

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

There is a new criminal mastermind at large-Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) – and not only is he Sherlock Holmes’ (Robert Downey Jr.) intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may actually give him an advantage over the renowned detective. When the Crown Prince of Austria is found dead, the evidence, as construed by Inspector Lestrade, points to suicide. But Sherlock Holmes deduces that the prince has been the victim of murder – a murder that is only one piece of a larger and much more portentous puzzle, designed by Professor Moriarty. The cunning Moriarty is always one step ahead of Holmes and Watson as he spins a web of death and destruction – all part of a greater plan that, if he succeeds, will change the course of history.

I enjoyed Guy Ritchie’s first stab at Sherlock Holmes very much, and as such, Holme’s second outing is equally as enjoyable. The second installment is as expected, louder, longer, and perhaps a little more action-orientated than the first (which is in truth a pity), but nevertheless remains a great action/mystery film watch with superb action, style, and filmography. Definitely worth picking up!

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 60%

sherlock holmes a game of shadows movie screenshot

The Love Punch (2013)

In a nutshell, a divorced couple of pensionable age (Pierce Brosnan as Richard Jones and Emma Thompson as Kate Jones), have their retirement nest egg wiped out when Richard’s investment firm is defrauded and the pension fund is siphoned away. Learning that the unscrupulous French financier behind the scheme has just purchased a $10 million diamond for his bride to be, the divorced duo grudgingly agree to set aside their differences, head over to France, and hatch a plot to gate-crash the wedding and steal the jewel.

Sadly, this movie just doesn’t work. Despite the talent and one or two chuckle-worthy moments, the whole plot is just too contrived and as a whole, The Love Punch comes across as a bungled attempt at classic caper cinema. Everything runs too smoothly, there are too many leaps in plot and as a whole, nothing feels believable behind the whole adventure. Not worth checking out to be honest.

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 27%

the love punch movie screenshot

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.

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(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