Category Archives: My Reviews

Capsule Reviews: Television and Movies (Legend of Korra, Babalas, etc.)

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…

Capsule Reviews: Animation (Tangled, Monsters vs. Aliens, etc.)

I’m not really into watching television or movies any more to be quite honest, and my love of animated things has dwindled to the point where I can’t even be bothered to sit down and enjoy simply superhero-themed kids’ show at all.

That said, with a little 3 year old girl in the house, I certainly caught up on a lot of the big screen animated movie releases from the houses of Pixar, Disney and DreamWorks over the holiday period – from the comfort of my couch and with a little body tucked in tightly next me.

As for this litter of capsule reviews coming right up? Well, I kind of like coming back every now and then to check up as to how my enjoyment/appreciation of any given piece of entertainment may have changed over time…

Tangled (2010)

Rapunzel is a girl with insanely long, magical-imbued hair who just happens to be trapped in a tower thanks to a rather overprotective ‘mom’. Of course, as any rebellious teenager would do, when the charming thief on the run, Flynn Rider, ducks in to escape his pursuers, Rapunzel seizes the opportunity to join up with Flynn and break free from the confines of the tower – the result of which leads to one very epic adventure that just happens to end with the returning of joy to an entire island kingdom!

Long story short, I simply can’t fault this film on any level whatsoever. It is astoundingly pretty and well animated, it is truly funny, dives through a deep and drama filled story, has fantastic action sequences, features brilliant voice actors and a polished soundtrack, and at the end of it all, is just the perfect kids animated movie – pitched perfectly for both young and old to enjoy. Seriously love watching this with my little ones!

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Bolt (2008)

A film star pup who is incredibly protective over his human girl, manages to get separated from the film studio and is now forced to travel back thousands of miles to reunite with his missing owner. Only problem is, this dog happens to think he is something of a super canine thanks to having been completely cocooned in his make believe world – something which definitely spells trouble for his new found travelling companions!

Bolt is a wonderfully animated kids movie that is impossible not to like. It is a great story of friendship and loyalty, and features some truly funny and touching moments. It is endearing, slickly animated, and well voiced, all backed up with a great soundtrack and a really fun character cast. I have to say, it is a hit with the kids, and it is certainly one of those animated movies that I don’t have any problem sitting down and enjoying with them.

Monsters, Inc. (2001)

James Sullivan and Mike Wazowski are monsters, they earn their living scaring children (their fearful screams are what powers Monster City) and are the best in the business… even though they’re more afraid of the children than they are of them. When a child accidentally enters their world, James and Mike suddenly find that kids are not to be afraid of – and they uncover a conspiracy that could just threaten all children across the world.

Without a doubt, one of the classics to emerge from the powerhouse that is Pixar animation. It is a superbly well told and heartfelt story, that doubles down on the humour, drama and action all at once. Pleasingly, it holds up well more than ten years later, and quite frankly, remains a pleasure to watch for both young and old!

monsters, inc backdrop

Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)

When Susan Murphy is unwittingly clobbered by a meteor full of outer space gunk on her wedding day, she mysteriously grows to 49-feet-11-inches tall. Naturally, the military jumps into action and hauls her away to a covert government compound where she is renamed Ginormica and placed in confinement with a ragtag group of monsters… which is just as well because Aliens are about to knock on Earth’s door!

Monsters vs. Aliens is a surprisingly enjoyable romp that sees well, monsters going up against aliens. The story is funny and naturally includes tons of action sequences, making it particularly enjoyable for all the boys sitting at home. That said, there is enough there for adults to feed on as well, meaning that this isn’t the worse way you can spend your time watching television with the kids.

Brave (2012)

Brave is set in the mystical Scottish Highlands, where Mérida is the princess of a kingdom ruled by King Fergus and Queen Elinor. An unruly daughter and an accomplished archer, Mérida one day defies a sacred custom of the land (she doesn’t want to be married off) and inadvertently brings turmoil to the kingdom. In an attempt to smooth things over, Mérida seeks out an eccentric old woman (who happens to be a witch) and is granted an ill-fated wish. A very ill-fated (and bear-related) wish!

Brave is something very different when it comes to CG animated movies, but that in itself is refreshing. It is a story about learning to take responsibility for one’s actions, and along the way to teaching this lesson, the film enthralls with its marvelous backdrops, action sequences and enchanting musical score. I don’t think it works quite so well for the younger kids, but for the older guys as well as the folks – well let’s just say that both I and Chantelle quite enjoyed the experience. (Plus, it really wasn’t what we were expecting).

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Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

Po is now living his dream as The Dragon Warior, protecting the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung fu masters, The Furious Five – Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey. But Po’s new life of awesomeness is threatened by the emergence of a formidable villain, who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu. It is up to Po and The Furious Five to journey across China to face this threat and vanquish it. But how can Po stop a weapon that can stop kung fu?

I’m a big fan of the original Kung Fu Panda, and sadly, this second outing of everyone’s favourite Kung Fu Panda Bear isn’t quite as awesome as the first, primarily because (as with pretty much all sequels) it has now lost the original charm of the lovable and silly incompetent panda bear succeeding against great odds – this time around we kind of expect him to succeed because he has already proven that he can. Never the less, it is still an enjoyable action romp that is brimming with silliness and high octane adventure. The boys will definitely love this one, that’s for sure.

Capsule Reviews: Movies (John Carter, The Wolverine, etc.)

I’m not really into spending time collecting my thoughts in the form of movie, gaming, television reviews any more, but that said, I do like coming back three of four years later to see just how my enjoyment/appreciation of any given piece may have changed over time.

Hence these little capsule reviews of things I’ve watched over the last few months.

John Carter (2012)

Civil War vet John Carter is transplanted to Mars, where he discovers a lush, wildly diverse planet whose main inhabitants are 12-foot tall green barbarians. Finding himself a prisoner of these creatures, he escapes, only to encounter Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, who is in desperate need of a savior.

I have to say, I enjoyed this otherworldly sci-fi action film literally from start to finish. Great actors, great action sequences, wondrous worlds and a truly enjoyable story + ending means that I can’t help but give a solid thumbs up for this polished epic.

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Justice League: War (2014)

When the powerful Darkseid and his massive, relentless forces invade Earth, a group of previously unaligned super heroes – misunderstood and, in some cases, hunted by the authorities – discover that the only way to fend off the attack will be to work together as a cohesive unit. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Shazam! and, in his origin story, Cyborg combine their respective talents in an all-out battle to save the planet.

The animation is slick and superb, the voice acting is perfect, and the action is perfect comic book action. The New 52 angle means a fresh look at some tired faces, and quite frankly, everything just works in this over the top, enjoyable, and action-packed Justice League animated movie hit!

JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time (2014)

With Lex Luthor granted the power to go back in time and eliminate the Justice League before it was even started, it is left up to young heroes of the 31st century, Dawnstar and Karate Kid to travel back in time and try and fix this disaster they accidentally unleashed – before all the timelines are completely altered beyond repair!

This is a standalone direct to video film that doesn’t form part of the current DC Animated Original Movies stable, the reason being that it is pitched at the slightly younger viewer and as such the story comes with a strong moral motivation attached to it. I’m not the primary audience and as such can’t say I really enjoyed it, even if there isn’t really any wrong with it per say. That said, the fact that the primary Leaguers aren’t the stars of the show here, might just hurt it as well.

Pacific Rim (2013)

Giant monsters arise from the deep and threaten to overrun the world. Earth’s only defense are the gigantic fighting mecha known as Jaegers. But after years of slugging it out, the Jaegers have all but fallen, and the monster Kaiju appear to be increasing in number and strength!

An absolute visual feast, there is no other way of describing this epic sci-fi monster versus mecha slobber knocker. It’s a great film from start to finish, loads of action and drama, plus a satisfying storyline even if the majority of the international Jaegers get so little screen time! Excellent acting and a fantastic soundtrack makes for a very polished film outing which I thoroughly enjoyed!

pacific rim backdrop

Thor (2011)

God of Thunder Thor finds himself disobeying Odin one too many times, and as a result, is punished by being banished to Midgard (Earth) for his disobedience to the All Father. However, this perfectly orchestrated play by the Trickster Loki, is exactly the opening he has been waiting for – and his allies the Frost Giants at his side, the play is made to make Asgard his once and for all!

This movie couldn’t have been better cast quite frankly, with the characters and actors all being perfectly matched up. Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Tom Hiddleston as Loki are literally perfect, and in the end, so is the movie. This is a fantastic comic book movie done right, with a larger than life story, mind-blowing visual affects, and just the perfect amount of drama and fantasy action. Comic book movie perfection in other words!

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

A malevolent evil spirit is awakened, and bonded with the hapless Jane Foster. This in turn awakens the Dark Elf Malekith, and with him comes a renewed attempt to take down Odin and Asgard with him. With Jane now under Asgard’s protection, Thor is forced to team up with his imprisoned brother Loki if there is any hope of stopping Malekith’s overwhelming forces – and the immense power of the Aether!

Following on from the slick and thoroughly enjoyable first Thor movie, this second outing pretty much continues where the original left off. Once again the actors are perfect, and in turn, the story is a perfect fantasy comic book yarn, with big stakes, plenty of action, and not to mention more than a little drama to go around. Great soundtrack, superb visuals, this is yet again another comic book film done right!

The Wolverine (2013)

An old acquaintance sends word from Japan that he is on his deathbed and as such would like to personally thank and say farewell to Logan. Of course things are never quite so cut and dry for the Wolverine, who soon finds himself leaving his self-imposed exile, travelling to Japan, and embroiled in the middle of a fierce battle over the daughter of a powerful and rich family. A life that needless to say he feels responsible for and must save, no matter the cost!

The first standalone Wolverine movie (X-Men Origins: Wolverine [2009]) was quite frankly horrible. Pleasingly, this time around it is much, much better. Hugh Jackman has without a doubt grown much more into his Wolverine persona, and with a drama-filled story that features exotic locales, ninjas, yakuza and not to mention exhilarating (and bloody) action sequences, The Wolverine ends up being a fantastic comic book movie. It is ever so slightly too long, but that isn’t a complete deal breaker for me, and in the end I seriously enjoyed it – which is great, because the X-Men family of movies really does need a bit of a boost in my book (based purely on how bad they look compared to the awesome current crop of Marvel Universe releases!)

the wolverine backdrop

The World’s End (2013)

Gary King and the lads are all grown up these days, well everyone but Gary King that is. A man with a lot of personal problems to deal with but with no concept of responsibility anyway, rounds up the old gang for the sole purpose of completing a pub crawl they failed to complete as lads. The final target of the 12 pub crawl being the renowned World’s End. Unfortunately for the group though, they’re about to find out first hand that something downright alien is going on in their old stomping grounds…

Rounding out the so-called Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End), this is another Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost collaboration and thus blends the same everyday life and drama with some completely over the top twists and then some completely over the top action sequences. As expected, the film is slickly done and well put together, the twist is over the top – as expected, and to be honest, it really does fit in as another installment of the Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz puzzle. In other words, if you liked those, then you’ll like this one. As for me, it wasn’t horrible, I did laugh occasionally, but I can’t say I necessarily walked away having enjoyed it.

Review: Argento Soma (2000)

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)

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.

golden boy anime 2

(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)

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.

getbackers anime 2

(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)

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

Review: Mouse (2003)

mouse anime 1Setarai. The High School Yamanou is one of the city’s proudest and largest institutions, churning out many a fine student into society. Muon Sorata is a college student in the Fine Arts Department, but is also a recognised teacher of Fine Arts in the high school. However, he is forever tardy, something three of the school’s teachers are forever ragging him on about. But Muon Sorata, Momojono Mei, Kuribayashi Yayoi and Kakio Hazuki hide a little secret.

For four hundred years the world has played host to the greatest thief of all time. That thief is Mouse. Capable of stealing anything he wants, Mouse never turns down a challenge. Known for his daring thefts in broad daylight and his habit of leaving call card warnings, Mouse is the police’s most wanted thief.

And this generation’s Mouse is none other than Muon. With his three sexy helpers he is willing to take on any challenge – after all, there is nothing that Mouse can’t steal!

Mouse is a silly little show designed to be silly and provide a lot of fan service. The story revolves around the super thief Mouse and his three sexy assistants who are capable of stealing anything they want. Mouse always warns his targets of his impending theft attempt – and always gets away with it. The bungling police force assigned to detective Onizuka is always one step behind this elusive thief.

Mouse’s three sexy assistants wait upon him hand and foot. They are will to do anything for him and their greatest desire it to please, and be pleased by, him. Forever half-dressed or stuffed into super sexy clothing, the three girls are always trying to get some loving from Mouse.

The series basically highlights Mouse’s various thefts and tells the stories of how the three girls came to call Sorata their master. The humour is pretty much ecchi-based for this series.

The characters funnily enough are actually well developed through the run of this series. Each character has a past and a motivation for what they do. Even detective Onizuka becomes a little more three-dimensional than most antagonists.

The animation quality is high and the colours are bright and vibrant. The opening theme is nice and catchy and the in-show music is well suited to the mood of the series. The character voices are also good, with the girls’ voices oozing sexiness.

This is a very silly little series and only if you enjoy a good dose of fan-service in the form of bulging breasts and cute panty shots should you give this series a try.

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

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

Packt Publishing: Instant Fancybox – Why, oh why?

packt publishing logoA while ago I was approached via e-mail and asked to review (and thus publicize) an e-book via my site by a representative (Dyson D’Souza) of Packt Publishing. (Packt is apparently a UK based publishing company specializing in focused IT books.)

The title in question was Instant Fancybox, authored by a Kyle Diedrick.

Now I’m particularly fond of the fantastic Fancybox jQuery plugin developed by Janis Skarnelis, and have of course mentioned it on numerous occasions in my code-related posts, which is why I guess I was asked to provide a review in the first place.

First of all, I have to say that I was rather surprised to learn that someone had actually bothered writing a book covering the usage of a single jQuery plugin. Sadly this thought rang true as I quickly flipped through the downloaded e-book and realized that my initial reaction had been correct – there really isn’t much point in writing a book about how to use the fancyBox plugin, as all you are really doing is rehashing all the usage/implementation documentation already present on the plugin’s primary download page.

So a pointless exercise then in other words.

Sadly this wasn’t actually the thing that left a slightly bad taste in my mouth. FancyBox is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 license. It is still essentially free to use for personal, non-commercial projects as long as you correctly attribute the plugin back to fancyApps, i.e. Janis Skarnelis.

Now for decency’s sake, shouldn’t an e-book that is essentially attempting to make money off Skarnelis’ work at least acknowledge him somewhere in the text?

I would have thought it good manners to do so. (Because of this, I’ve decided not to physically link back to Packt – seems fair to me.)

So in summary, (and while I’m sure Kyle Diedrick is a great guy) this e-book really isn’t worth paying for – and it’s 7.99 UK pounds for 72 pages mind you. The reason? Well, you require familiarity with HTML and jQuery to get something out of this title, but the reality is that if you are familiar with HTML and jQuery, then the existing documentation and usage guides on the primary FancyBox download page is actually more than enough for you to achieve what you need to achieve.

My recommendation: skip in favour of a something more advanced like an in-depth guide to jQuery.

Review: Platinumhugen Ordian (2000)

Platinumhugen Ordian anime 1Kananase Yuu is just an ordinary high school student. Inexplicably possessing the knowledge to pilot mecha craft, Yuu is recruited by the International Military Organization (IMO) as a potential test pilot for the new class of mobile armour, the Ordian. However, Yuu is not the only one who has been selected with the potential to pilot the Ordian. Other young recruits, including one of his classmates, have also been recruited, meaning Yuu must now strive to prove that he is the best.

But the IMO is not as transparent as what it first seems. The secrets it holds are many. And then there is the shadowy organisation that is currently locked in open combat with the IMO. Just what is the Ragnarok system and what is the secret behind Ordian?

Platinumhugen Ordian is another mecha show following in the vein of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Lots of mecha, lots of fighting, and lots of confused grandiose writing which leaves viewers more confused than enlightened. It’s a pity, because the mecha and character designs are pretty nice and the show starts off well for the first half of the series. It is the second half of the series where the plot goes slightly awry and begins to get so existential that in the end no one can understand what the show is trying to say.

The animation for the show is good, with the characters and mecha having a lot of design and detail put into them. The colours are a bit dull though, detracting rather than adding to the show’s overall look. However, some of the imagery and visual sequences are simply breathtaking.

The characters are well designed and developed through the series and the voice acting and musical score is of a good standard as well.

If you are a fan of confused anime such as Neon Genesis Evangelion, then you will probably enjoy Platinumhugen Ordian. However, this is a mecha anime aimed at hardcore fans of the genre, meaning that the casual anime watcher probably won’t get as much out of the series as was intended.

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

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