Tag Archives: action

Review: Dead Leaves Anime | My Reviews 22 SEP 2011

Retro and Pandy, two unlikely renegades, awaken naked on Earth with no recollection of their past, but with superior physical abilities. After embarking on a brief but devastating crime spree for food, clothing and transportation in downtown Tokyo, they are captured by authorities and sent to the infamous prison called Dead Leaves, on the half destroyed moon.

But it doesn’t end there. Soon they have managed to slip their shackles and spark a full scale prison break – and are now running head first down the track to learning the truth of their situation regardless of whether they want to or not!

Surprisingly rising out of the superstar animation house that is Production I.G. back 2004, Dead Leaves was Hiroyuki Imaishi’s directorial debut, who has since gone on to direct both the acclaimed Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (2007) and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt (2010) series.

Although it actually contains quite a neat little sci-fi storyline within it, you’ll be excused for mostly ignoring it as the film hurtles from start to finish at breakneck speed, never once letting up for you to catch your breath thanks to its frenetic pacing. And then of course, you would also have needed to look past all the crude and mostly vulgar fart, dick, sex and violence jokes that makes up most of the storytelling, all of which translates into a movie which has a rather limited target audience that will actually enjoy it.

If you have seen either Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann or Pant & Stocking then you will know the frenetic, simple line, highly exaggerated artwork that Imaishi employs for his fast paced approach to animated movie making, and while it certainly fits the pace of the story perfectly and works well for what is essentially an action movie from start to finish, it doesn’t exactly look pretty and nor will its style win it any awards. That said, it is unique, and you’re not going to find anything else like it out there, so maybe it does work for you after all.

The accompanying soundtrack keeps pace nicely with the visuals and the story, and is suitable epic where it needs to be, and this combines well with a good choice of voice actors who all fit their various manic personas pretty comfortably.

Overall, I can’t really think of anyone I can actually recommend Dead Leaves to. It is certainly different, I’ll give it that, but it lacks any sort of charm and the juvenile humor really will only amuse a select sort of people, meaning that as far as I’m concerned, this is one of those rare things to come out of Production I.G. that you can safely ignore.

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

Gin Tama (Volume 1) Manga | My Reviews 27 APR 2010

Nobody with Naturally Wavy Hair Can Be That Bad – The samurai didn’t stand a chance. First, the aliens invaded Japan. Next, they too all the jobs. And then they confiscated everyone’s swords. So what does a hotheaded former samurai like Sakata “Gin” Gintoki do to make ends meet? Take any odd job that comes his way, even if it means losing his dignity…

Sleazy alien moneylenders, monsters on the rampage, and a ticking time bomb may all be in a day’s work fo Gin, but a drop in blood sugar level means trouble for everyone!

Gin Tama is an interesting animal, that it is. Created by mangaka Hideaki Sorachi and launched back in 2003 already, Gin Tama has gone on to garner great success, constantly finding itself in Japan’s Top Ten Bestseller lists and has since spawned numerous TV, film and light novel extensions.

Set in the historic late Edo period, Gin Tama blends the historic with the current and then takes it one step further and mixes in aliens and sci-fi, making for quite the varied pot from which to pull an almost unending string of visual gags and puns from. Focusing on Gin, a laid back former samurai who has a penchant for violence and hitting things with his wooden sword (which is a lot when his blood sugar is running low), Gin Tama chronicles the various tales of Gin’s little Odd Jobs Gin company that takes on literally any job a customer might bring his way – which of course opens the door quite nicely for almost any sort of adventure, or misadventure that you can think of. Throwing in a young, ineffectual samurai student with glasses and an immoral, born to battle, super strong alien as Gin’s partners, volume 1 introduces us to the main set of characters and then goes on to lead us through three or four quickfire adventures which set the tone of the series, introduce characters and their backgrounds and provides plenty of laughs and action all in one go.

(And as an added bonus, one of Sorachi’s first unpublished manga pieces gets tacked on the end, just as a sample to the other storyline he might have ended up following had he chosen to or been given the go ahead on)

It’s difficult to pinpoint Sorachi’s aim with Gin Tama other than to make you laugh with the variety of visual, self-referencing and situational gags he keeps throwing at you but at the end of the day it is safe to say that Gin Tama is meant entirely as a laugh a minute, forget about your worries type of manga aimed at young men, and in that space it really works pretty well. It is genuinely funny (even if it does exploit some classic gags) and is filled to the brim with some great and energetic action sequences – not forgetting the myriad of misunderstandings that take place of course!

In terms of Sorachi’s pencils (he is responsible both for the writing and main drawing duties), he throws a wonderful amount of detail you way and his characters are all pretty much clean cut and nicely realized with some great old versus new designs – not to mention some particularly wacky hairstyles that Sorachi seems so intent on planting on the top of his villains’ heads.

Action sequences are greatly rendered and there is some nice power on display through his illustrations, as well as some remarkably funny character expressions that literally litter each page. Page compositions are generally quite tightly packed with a lot of panels per page, but the the amount of detail that is crammed into each panel is enough to slow one’s eye down enough that you tend not to miss anything as you read over it. Finally, it must be said that Sorachi certainly seems to have done his period homework and the mixture between drawing old and new in each panel is handled quite fantastically, so much so that it kind of leaves the reader in a rather bewildered state as to exactly which time period they’re currently sitting in – which is precisely what Sorachi imagined in the first place I’m sure.

(His aliens could do with a little more originality though I suppose!)

In summary then, Gin Tama is a really fun read for lovers of action and gags and with not too much drama or heavy handedness dragging it down the whole time, it really does make for some excellent escapist reading material. A fantastic setting that mixes everything together and spits out what is a really action-packed, unexpected experience that will definitely hook you if you fall within Sorachi’s target demographic.

Well worth picking up then in other words, though only if Mills and Boon isn’t particularly your thing! :P

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

Stripperella My Reviews 26 MAR 2010

I won’t lie, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this show as of late. Stripperella chronicles the adventures of the crime-fighting superheroine/secret agent Erotica Jones, who works as an exotic dancer by day but then battles evil by night in the guise of Stripperella, the woman whose mission it is to turn unscrupulous bad guys scrupulous.

Enhanced reflexes, strength, and pain tolerance (not to mention the tons of questionable crime-fighting gadgets like laser lipstick and nipple cameras), but kicking crime fighting has never looked quite so good!

Stripperella is the brain child of Marvel comic alumni Stan Lee who partnered up with Pamela Anderson who came on board to voice the ditzy Erotica Jones, a character very much in a similar vein as that  of VIP’s Vallery Irons which she portrayed for four years running. Consisting of 13 episodes in total and originally released back in 2003, Stripperella is best described as a mixture of animated comedy, action and camp (as well as just plain goofiness) and while it certainly isn’t raunchy, there is quite a fair bit of fan service, nipples and naughty double entendres to be had.

In terms of stories, most of the episodes are standalone adventures with little continuity between them. There are a host of recurring characters, particularly at Erotica’s home base, namely the Tender Loins gentleman’s club but of course these aren’t nearly as enjoyable as the host of over the top, comical villains the writers seem to come up with at will. If you remember the animated superhero goofball show The Tick, then you’ll know more or less what you are in for with regards to Stripperella. Villains like Cheapo (the World’s Cheapest Villain who dreams of becoming a “Hundrednaire”), Small Fry (the man who would make everything small so that he could be tall), Klinko (the copy store owner with delusions of brainwashing people for profit), Queen Clitoris (the man hater), and  Push Galore (the TV saleswoman who peddles high fashion fakes to unsuspecting buyers) are all popping out the woodwork to give our poor old Erotica Jones a run for her money.

The writing is usually filled with puns, double entendres and just plain silliness, with a good dose of satirical representations of real world people (like poor old ridiculed “Richard Slimmons”) to fill the stage. That said, there is plenty of action to be had, a good mixture or martial arts, car chases and even three bullet gun chases if you must – with a little pole dancing action neatly stamped in on the side. You can’t take it seriously, but you can laugh, and in this aspect Stripperella really does work well with us more mature children at heart.

The animation is generally pretty smooth and not at all badly produced, though for some strange reason animation style and character design gets altered halfway into the short season, which can be a little jarring to all those animation puritans out there. The world is colourful, the characters fairly simple but with all the right curves in all the right places and for the most part, the dancing and action sequences are pretty well choreographed and pushed into life. It’s standard television animation, but definitely at the upper end the production value chain – not too many re-used or re-hashed bits as far as I can see! :)

Voice actors all throw in a pretty good performance, with Pamela Anderson proving to be the perfect voice for the often confused but loveable Erotica Jones/Stripperella and as a surprise showing, we even get the legendary WWE’s Vince McMahon throwing in his talents as the rival strip club’s creepy manager! Oh, and did I mention voice actor alumni Mark Hamill, Joey Lauren Adams, Thomas F. Wilson, Jon Cryer, Tom Kenny, Kid Rock, Maurice LaMarche (Brain from Pinky and the Brain) all make a voice appearance as well? Well now I did, so now you know.

In short, while not for kids thanks to all the exotic dancing and naughty puns, this is the perfect slapstick action comedy to put on when you just want to sit back and laugh at something absurd, silly and just plain over the top, with just that hint of adult fare to make it even more entertaining for all us young at heart (i.e. don’t want to grow up) adults with nothing better to do.

Thanks Stan, you’re a legend! :P

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

Hats Off to… Rogue Assassin My Reviews 20 JAN 2010

I caught Rogue Assassin on DSTV the other day and I’ve got to give kudos to the writers – they seriously caught me off guard with some serious twists in the tale for this ultra violent action fliek.

And this is one of the least violent scenes...

I must admit, I can’t actually fault the movie on the story as I found myself actually compelled to sit through and watch just about the whole movie (ignoring Chantelle’s pleas for coffee at least twice) and the action sequences were pretty intense and well choreographed – if a little on the bloody side. But you can’t say any of the violence was unrealistic though, come to think of it.

Jason Statham is his usual tough guy self (I don’t think he knows how to play any other type of role to be honest), and he pulls his weight pretty well throughout the movie. Unfortunately on the other side of the main character list, Jet Li once again delivered an absolutely horrible performance in terms of acting – thank goodness his martial arts form is still top notch though.

I see it scored pretty low on Rotten Tomatoes, averaging around 14%, but those guys don’t usually give straight action movies much of a chance anyway. It’s not cute, it’s not romantic, it doesn’t have many laughs – but it does have plenty of yakuza and triads, plenty of gunfights, sword fights, hand to hand combat and explosions and one mean twist of the tale in the end.

And based on that twist in the tale alone, I’ve got to take my hat off to the scriptwriters on this blood-soaked, explosive tale. Well done boys, it’s not often someone catches me out like you guys did! :)

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