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Everything Else => Silver Screens and Boob Tubes => Topic started by: CX on June 19, 2014, 11:40:31 AM

Title: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 19, 2014, 11:40:31 AM
So, yeah, I've become quite the anime nerd since the last time I was here.  In fact, not long after I started on my quest of looking up all the various things that looked like they might be interesting to watch and putting together a list of them, which I then began to watch alphabetically, except for a few a skipped ahead to.  Anyway, when I got to one in particular, I felt driven to write a review for it, and thus my obsession for writing a review for every anime (or animated work) I watched was born.  That was in July 2010.  As you might imagine, I have quite a few reviews now, which I'll list below alphabetically.

I plan to post a review once a day, and I'm thinking I'll post them as close to the order I originally wrote them as possible, though I'll skip ahead to any that people might request.  You'll notice that most of my early reviews tend to be a bit short - I guess I just felt most of them didn't deserve the attention I gave to Blue Gender, the first series I reviewed.  I also didn't include screencaps initially, though later on I began to do this fairly regularly as an excuse to snark at something. ;)  I'll also warn you that the majority of my reviews are somewhat spoiler heavy, as I like to discuss some specific things I liked or disliked about a series or movie.  I have tweaked some of the reviews a little from when I first posted them, but this is mostly to correct typos and the like.

Also, and I can't emphasize this enough, please feel free to comment on my reviews.  (http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/smilies/thumbup.gif)

My Recommendations:

These are shows I especially liked for whatever reason. Some are good sci-fis, some are funny, some are over-the-top action "man-ime", or well, whatever. They are in roughly "top" order, though to be honest it's kind of hard for me to rank them past the top 5.

The Index:

Everything I've written reviews for, in roughly alphabetical order (by franchise title).


I'll be posting direct links to each review as I post them.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 19, 2014, 11:42:12 AM
Blue Gender
(26 episode series)

I've actually been thinking about this one quite a bit since I started to watch it, and now that I've finished watching it.  It really isn't anything special per say, and in fact one could call it fairly derivative.  It's a mostly standard issue post-apocalyptic fare, with the protagonist having slept through said apocalypse.  That being said, I actually found it quite watchable and interesting.  Especially in the start of the series, I found myself drawn in and I just had to watch the next episode to find out what happened after what was usually a cliffhanger ending.  It wasn't until later on in the series that I found myself disappointed, and frankly at times annoyed with what the series was trying to say and how it was saying it.

The series opened right in the middle of things.  I'm usually annoyed with openings like this, and this wasn't much of an exception, but I was just interested enough by it to not get too annoyed.  Thankfully I didn't have to wait all that long for an explanation as to why the whiny, cowardly main character I was introduced to (he literally pisses his pants within the first five minutes) ended up in a cryo tube, and to an extent why there are giant bugs trying to kill everyone we've met so far.

I hate to say it, but the characters we meet at first aren't all that terribly interesting, including the main character, Yuji, who, for some reason, doesn't even think to ask how long he's been asleep.  He was only supposed to be asleep for a year or two while doctors literally tried to figure out what ailed him and apparently quite a few others so they could develop a treatment for it.  Pretty much the standard excuse to turn someone into a popsicle in pretty much every show to ever have suspended animation that doesn't also include a prolonged journey across space.  As it turns out in this case, bad things happened, and Yuji receives a very rude awakening, about twenty years after he was supposed to have been awakened originally. 

What happened?  Well, to quote Starship Troopers, "BUGS!"   Yes, as lame as that is, somehow giant bugs have taken over and turned all but a lucky few (relatively speaking) into tightly packed green balls that they never bother eating or doing anything with.  Basically it serves as a body horror image until the "message" comes along and ruins everything.

Anyway, back to the characters, most of them are basically cold-hearted bastards, which is constantly rubbed in as the series progresses.  Not only are most of the military personnel who were sent to recover Yuji and his fellow sleepers this way, but their superiors in the orbital stations that serve as humanity's last bastion are especially cold-hearted.  As it turns out, if this recovery team hadn't managed to recover any sleepers, they would have been left planet-side for dead, which is what ends up happening to most of them anyway.  That being said, while plenty of humans have managed to escape into orbit where the bugs can't get them, we're informed that only the select few seen as too valuable to lose were chosen to live on the orbital stations, which are collectively known as Second Earth.  While that makes it all the more confusing as to why they would then treat their soldiers as completely expendable, what makes even those expendable soldiers complete bastards is that they've all been completely brainwashed into believing the humans who have by some miracle managed to survive on the surface and not get turned into green balls are actually already as good as dead.  This means that while Yuji, and by extension the audience, sees a little girl being attacked by a giant bug and wants to stop to help, all of the soldiers he's with want to completely ignore it.  Oh, and if a "groundling" happens to get between them and a bug, the soldiers are supposed to shoot through them.  While this does lead to some verbal exchanges, I kind of wanted to see Yuji and the beautiful blonde ice queen who initially rescued him, Marlene, come to blows and exchange a few punches, too, mostly just because I would have in his place given what happened and what was being said.  Jury's still out on whether I would have pissed myself upon waking up and nearly being killed by a bug the size of a cow...

Only one of the soldiers really had any redeeming qualities, which was Joey.  Unlike Marlene, Joey actually seemed human.  He was compassionate and more than once stuck up for Yuji when Marlene was being a bitch to him.  It was nice that this was a series, so we could see that friendship develop, even though things were still moving along at a pretty fast clip.

We do see some of that development between Yuji and Marlene, but I feel it still could have used more to explain why the two of them develop feelings.  Marlene never really seems to be all that compassionate towards Yuji despite saving his life repeatedly; if anything she makes it seem like a pain that she has to keep doing it, since Yuji is basically her ticket back to Second Earth.  On Yuji's end, it seems more physical than anything, because Marlene is pretty attractive (and also nekkid in the end credits, FYI ;) ).  They do have some time to talk and argue with each other, but most of their time is spent running away from giant bugs.  She explains how humanity has basically lost touch with emotions, which is why they all have pointless sex and why she's such a frigid bitch to him.  He basically goes on and on about how he was only supposed to be asleep for a couple of years and how he wishes he'd never woken up if this is the world he had to wake up to.  This somehow equates to the two of them being in love with each other.

While it's pretty easy to tell I was unimpressed with how they got there, I kind of dug the idea of a somewhat unemotional woman and a somewhat emotional man falling in love with each other.  The fact that Marlene had to figure out just what was going on with her, and started to see just how much the humans of Second Earth really were bastards also appealed to me, and I loved seeing her kick ass to find Yuji, even though it was against the standard idiot mooks that seem to make up the military in shows like this.  It's after this that things kind of go south for me.

As it turns out, the Second Earth military scientist types seem to think Yuji's disease can somehow do for them what really any competent military should have been able to do at any point in the past twenty years – kill all the giant bugs.  This being anime, naturally it features mecha, which seem to be about the most effective means of fighting the giant bugs, even though air support from some kind of gunship would probably work a lot better.  What's worse is that while at some points the guns being used by the characters are quite effective, most of the time bullets seem to bounce harmlessly off of the bugs' armored skin.  And way too many times soldiers freeze up and just let the giant bugs kill them.  All of that was pretty annoying, but that actually isn't what bothered me the most.

So what bothered me the most about this show?  Marlene and Yuji basically switch roles, for no real reason at all.  While it's true Yuji had evil scientists abuse his illness in order to make him basically super-human, his obsession with another sleeper named Tony and the way he turned into the same kind of uncaring bastard that all the other Second Earth military types were just didn't ring true for me.   Worse though was Marlene, who turned into a really emotional and frankly kind of useless woman.  She went from cold and unemotional to really emotional without having much of any transition, and while before she was a very effective soldier in combat, she suddenly started freezing up.  Basically she turned into the Yuji from the first few episodes.

Okay, I lied, that isn't the part that bothered me the most about this show.  What did?  Well, I hinted at the "message" in the beginning of this review, and this one is a doozy.  The message?  Earth is alive and trying to kill humanity, which it perceives as a cancer and therefore a threat to itself.  And if that wasn't bad enough, it turns into a luddite message of how we can only peacefully coexist with the planet by giving up all technology and living in grass huts.  No, really, that's the happy ending of the series: Yuji and Marlene decide to join some random villagers they met in South America that was living in grass huts.  This after a really quick WTF montage of the remaining Second Earther's killing the leader who has made it clear that if anyone wanted to leave, he wouldn't stop them, just so that they can fight over the last shuttle and somehow blow up the main space station.  And it all happens in like a minute running time.  Oh, and those green balls the bugs made out of humans?  Apparently tree food, because at one point we see little tree plants growing out of them. 

While there is plenty to rag on in this series, much like Star Trek: Enterprise, I liked the basic concept.  I also liked most of the character interactions and development, at least up until Yuji and Marlene trade roles.  I would still recommend this series, even if it scores a little low at 6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on June 19, 2014, 06:53:23 PM
Hmm... I've seen 2 of the series on your recommendation list, Ghost in the Shell - mostly the first season and the odd episode of Bebop. Heard of a few others. I've seen more from your index list. I look forward to seeing what you have to say about some of them (even the 'anime-like' shows I noticed on the list), but take your time.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 20, 2014, 12:29:50 AM
Cool beans.  Hopefully I'll review something you find interesting.  Might be a while before I get to one, though, as I went through some real stinkers before I got to something good.  :-\

But, hey, as an added bonus, why not throw in the trailer for Blue Gender (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5RMwWxEsbc).  ;)
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 20, 2014, 09:25:44 AM
Blue Gender: The Warrior
(2002 movie)

What happens when you take a 26 episode series and try to cram it into a 95 minute long movie?  Well, not much good, as you might expect.

The original series was just way too complex to turn into an hour and a half made-for-TV movie, so naturally, while things started out more or less the same, a lot got cut out, and a lot got changed in the plot.  In the end, not much really makes sense about the plot, and if I hadn't watched the series before this movie, I probably would have been completely lost.  Most of what they cut out was either good, like Yuji's friendship with Joey, or important to character and plot development.  It wouldn't have been as bad had they changed the plot even more, but they left just enough in to make things that much more confusing plot-wise.  It also makes the fact that they only left one small part of what had to be the shortest training montage I've ever seen out from the series somewhat amusing.  The part they left out?  Marlene pressing her body against Yuji's in order to show him the proper shooting stance for a pistol.

The Yuji/Marlene relationship just seems to come that much more out of the blue in this movie because so much has been left out or become part of the chopped up journey/survival montage that reduces something like 3-4 episodes into a single minute.  It also makes it that much more pathetic when Marlene becomes such a whiny loser after returning to Second Earth.  Then, after explaining how she doubts she'll ever be allowed to return to Earth's surface, she's suddenly there and searching frantically for Yuji.  She does find him, and he promptly tries to kill her, until something she says turns him back into something like his old self, somehow.

The ending of the movie is even more WTF than the series.  While we never see or learn anything about Second Earth's final fate, the movie basically ends with Marlene cradling Yuji in the middle of the street.  At one point they were surrounded by the giant bugs, looking for all intents to become another green ball in the middle of the street, when Yuji opens his eyes, makes some kind of psychic noise, and all the bugs go away.  Knowing that there is a connection between the disease Yuji and his fellow sleepers have from the series, I kind of sort of know what happened, but in the context of the movie there is just no explanation at all.

So combine the storyline being ripped to shreds with character narration out of no where in a vain attempt to explain what the hell is going on, and basically you get a lot of suck.  The environmental/luddite message has mostly been lost, but in its place it has a "science is bad" message.  Whereas in the series, rampant militarism was blamed for Second Earth becoming what it had when we saw it in the series, the head scientist who actually lead a coup against the corrupt military council turns out to be the bad guy in the movie, sort of.  Basically he's blamed for things turning out the way they are, and he kills himself after whining about what a loser he is in his narration piece.

While this movie pretty much just sucked, I'll admit that there were a few things I liked about it.  To begin with, while it was kind of lame, what Yuji's illness was supposed to end up doing to him and anyone who had it is actually explained in the movie, while in the series it's never mentioned beyond the explanation of Earth using it as a means to destroy humanity.  In the movie it basically just drives them insane and they start babbling predictions about the future.  Another thing I liked is that at one point, Yuji actually hauls off and punches Marlene after calling her and her Second Earth compatriots on their inhumanity.  He actually sticks up for himself beyond words, so I liked that.  Later on, he gives his earring to Marlene as a good luck charm and at one point she expresses her strong conviction for him by piercing her ear with it and wearing it.  The relationship doesn't make much sense in the movie, but something like that would have been nice in the series.

Still, the movie sucked, and I'm only giving it a 1/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 21, 2014, 12:56:09 PM
009-1
(13 episode series)

As you might guess from the title, this is basically the Japanese version of James Bond, naturally featuring mostly female spies.  Set in a fictional future where the Cold War never ended, countries have single letter names, and the cybernetic implantation of firearms into one's body isn't all that uncommon, really all this anime has going for it is the amusement factor.  Heavy on fan service without any real actual nudity, this show manages to give new meaning to the phrase "killer set of tits", as the main character isn't the only woman who has either machine guns or lasers for nipples, which apparently come standard issue for female spies in the future.  The male agents apparently pack, too, though in different parts of their anatomy.  ;)  I have to say, though, that the character and visual design is a bit odd for a modern anime, and in fact seems to hearken back to '70s anime.  Not saying this is bad, just different and maybe worth noting.

The series itself is very episodic in nature, with the only real character development being the title character moving away from being an unquestioning spy into being more of an independent operator.  The closest this series comes to a story arc is a plot thread about how there are psychics/telekinetics which the East Block likes to exploit, and the West Block likes to hunt down and kill as soon as they find out about them, the West Block being our side, and the side 009-1 is on.  As you might imagine, she kind of has problems with that, as most people who aren't evil really should.  There's also a bit with her having a sad back story, and a lost brother who she ends up finding   Basically it's about a chick with guns in her tits having action-filled adventure in each episode and that's about it, which earns it a 4/10.  It's a fun series, worth watching maybe once and that's about it.  It has pretty cool opening (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfK5scInd3U), though.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 23, 2014, 09:32:13 AM
A Wind Named Amnesia
(1990 movie)

Of the post-apocalyptic variety, this movie tries to ask questions, but in the end only rhetorically. 

Basically humanity has reverted to something like cavemen, having lost its civilization along with its memories, which all disappeared one day thanks to a mysterious wind that swept over the entire planet.  Fortunately, all the neat toys the military had been playing around with were left behind, one of which was a convenient teaching tool that allowed the main character to relearn how to be human, if not his own actual past.  He's taken on the impossible task of restoring humanity to its former self, but really all he can do is drive around in a jeep and help a few people as he comes across them.  Along the way he meets a strange woman who also seems to be a normal, civilized human, except for the fact that she seems to know an awful lot about what's going on in any given situation.

In a way this almost would have done better as a series, but it probably wouldn't have been a very good series either.  I found it just interesting enough to keep watching, though amusement with the Japanese interpretation of the United States (the movie took place entirely there) helped keep me watching, too.  In the end it really didn't pay off.  As I'd suspected early on due to some really obvious foreshadowing, the mysterious woman was in fact an alien, and the wind was caused by these aliens, who took it upon themselves to punish humanity, or something like that.  I never really understood the reasons, but the message in the end was the standard issue "humanity is growing too fast and too out of harmony with Earth" variety.  So really there was nothing special about this movie.  The main character didn't even act upset at all at this revelation, and instead had some good-bye sex with the alien chick before she left him in the ruins of his civilization, neither of them really having accomplished anything toward the goal stated in the beginning of the movie, which earns it a 2/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 24, 2014, 09:39:38 AM
Ah! (or Oh) My Goddess!
(50 episode series)

Yeah, I know there are movies and other versions to go along with this series, but really I'm a little embarrassed that I watched this series in full as it is.  It was actually one of the first when I started watching everything basically alphabetically on my huge "to watch" list, and for some reason, I actually did watch this angst-fest beginning to end.  On the other hand, if I hadn't, I actually would have missed a few interesting stories.

What I'm referring to has more to do with stories involving the Motor Club within the series that the main character, Keiichi, was involved in.  One of them was actually a ghost story, and it's actually my favorite of the stories I found somewhat interesting.  It actually managed to tug on what's left of my heart strings a little, mainly because it involved a sick young woman who died before someone could fulfill a promise to her, which in this case was just something as simple as a motorcycle ride.  So basically she ended up haunting the property she died at until someone else could come along, fix the now classic motorcycle and give her a ride around the nearby lake.  I also have to admit that I liked how the writers pointed out that love comes in many forms, even in the form of someone taking care of their old cars/electronics/etc.

Belldandy, the title goddess, really was too sweet that way.  And really she was just too impossibly sweet.  A "harem" anime, we got to meet her sisters too, but while they were anything but sweet, I wouldn't call them all that interesting either.  That could be because I found most of this series either boring or really frustrating.  The two main characters are basically living together as a couple from the very beginning, but the male lead was horribly immature and the female lead wasn't much better.  It was completely obvious that the two of them cared a great deal for each other, and yet the vast majority of what happened revolved around the other one trying to show their love to the other or still trying to determine if the other loves them, no matter how many times they show or outright say that they do to each other.  No, really, right up to the last episode.

I guess if you like angst (I'm looking at you TnT 'shippers – you know who you are), this might actually be the thing for you.  Otherwise, not much to see here, and if you were only interested in the stories I was talking about being interested in, I'd be happy to look up the episodes for you and list them.  It's for those that I'm even bothering to throw this series any kind of a bone, scoring it 3/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 25, 2014, 09:13:36 AM
Akira
(1988 movie, new dub)

So this is the famous movie that is credited with making anime cool here in the US?  Well, it's not bad, but it's not really as awesome as I was hoping it would be.  I'm not even sure what the point was supposed to be, aside from the standard "science gone wrong."  The movie itself is set in the future, after a nuclear WWIII that apparently started with an explosion going off in Tokyo.  Well Neo-Tokyo has been built in the crater, with the old part of the city surrounding it pretty much in ruins.  It's easy to see why this movie is classed as cyber-punk, which can pretty much be summed up as "high tech, low life," as in, everything is all very future-y and stuff, but it's all old, worn out, and dirty rather than being top of the line, with the people in this setting being much the same as the technology around them.

The main characters themselves aren't exactly good guys, most of them belonging to a motorcycle gang which regularly goes out and battles another motorcycle gang called The Clowns.  That is, all until a fateful meeting with a little kid that looks like he has that freakish rapid-aging disease.  Turns out the kid is special, and not in a back of the short bus way, as he uses some kind of a mind force-field to keep from getting run over by Tetsuo, basically the secondary main character of the film.  Why the freakishly old kid didn't use his mind force field earlier to protect himself and the communist revolutionary who rescued him from the secret military lab he was being kept at is never really made clear, or addressed even.

Oh, yeah, Japan is apparently in the throes of a recession which has resulted in massive civil unrest and a practically fascist police state to deal with it.  Naturally where there are fascists, there are communists to fight them ... well, they never really identify as communists, but let's just say I had the feeling.  In any case, the movie never really delves into any of this all that deeply, instead focusing on the main storyline of Kaneda, the film's main character, and his exploits in trying to find and rescue his friend Tetsuo from the military (with a little commie tail-chasing on the side).  It seems Tetsuo is suffering some rather odd side-effects from the mind force field, which is why the military and its scientists have taken an interest in him.  It seems he reminded them of another really powerful psychic kid they experimented on named Akira, who has become a messianic figure to a large portion of the anarchist types who make up most of the mobs seen in the movie being oppressed by the police.

This brings up one of the secondary characters, a JSDF Lieutenant Colonel.  He's hard to put a finger on, mostly because at times he's a complete bastard, and at other times the movie basically makes him out to be justified for being a complete bastard, who occasionally has a heart.  He's the one in charge of the military's research into these telekinetic kids, and it's more than hinted at that Akira caused what appeared to be a nuclear detonation at the beginning of the film.  Naturally, the colonel doesn't want this to happen again, and he's determined to kill Tetsuo should he get out of hand, which is naturally exactly what happens.

Akira is an okay film, and is kind of cool.  There is a lot of awesomeness, especially as Tetsuo grows out of control, but it isn't really an awesome movie in my opinion.  The storyline is at times hard to follow, and there's a connection between some government officials and the communist revolutionaries that is never really explained, and really has nothing at all to do with the main plot as far as I could tell.  That being said, this movie is still worth a watch, and scores a 7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on June 25, 2014, 04:53:36 PM
This one I've seen, as with you the more recent dub, and I liked it. I've thought about picking up the most recent release actually. As for the unexplained bits... The manga, from what I've heard, clears up a lot and expands on it as well.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 25, 2014, 11:25:41 PM
I've heard that, but the same old rule still applies as far as works having to stand on their own, even if it's anime.  ;)
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 26, 2014, 09:37:10 AM
Area 88
(12 episode series)

I tried to get into this series, but there really wasn't much there for me aside from cool warplanes and cool air-to-air combat. 

It takes place in a generic middle-east country which is undergoing a civil war, with the government having hired on a mercenary force of combat pilots to aid their side against the rebels.  The concept of mercenary jet fighter pilots never really makes much sense to me, and what makes even less sense is that the mercenary force itself is like the French Foreign Legion of old, which kidnapped people and pressed them into service.  Well, technically everyone signs up for a stint of service, but they're still treated like slaves in the sense that they can't leave the super-secret base they are stationed at unless they serve their full contractual stint, or they buy their way out of it with the money they earn from their kills.

While the series' main character is in fact a reporter who is there for reasons not made entirely clear until later, the character being focused on is a blonde-haired Japanese pilot who flies an F-5.  He's your basic moody type yearning for home and the one he left behind.  Considering he got screwed over by his friend and shanghaied into service, that would normally make him pretty sympathetic as a character.  Unfortunately this is ruined by the aforementioned moodiness, which fails completely at making him mysterious or even really interesting, for that matter.  Ironically the reporter/photographer is more interesting as he develops from the typical snooty press type into someone who's sympathetic towards the pilots at this base.  He ends up having second thoughts about his job, and actually ends up quitting it, which makes it that much worse that he gets the tar beat out of him by the pilots and is almost killed by them when they find out what he was originally sent there to do in typical kill the messenger style.

Well, fear not, all turns out "right" in the end as far as the main pilot's girl deciding to not marry the douche that betrayed him and had him shanghaied, and the fact he's completely forgiven for trying to run. Of course he still has to serve out his time and do exactly what he's been lamenting doing by shooting down and killing other human beings, which is what's made him such a moody bastard.  I guess if you like the eye candy, this series might be worth the time to watch, but there isn't much of a story that's worth watching.  4/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 27, 2014, 09:41:04 AM
Argento Soma
(25 episode series)

This is a classic example of an anime that takes too long to get to the point.  While I understand and like the idea of meeting characters and getting to know them as they develop, there's something to be said for keeping the plot moving at a steady pace, which this series doesn't until the last few episodes.  What's worse is that from the beginning of the series, you're teased by an image in the end credits that doesn't become significant until the last half of the series when the big mystery is finally solved and the series finally gets to the point.

Superficially this series reminds me of what I've read about Neon Genesis Evangelion, at least in the sense that giant alien robots dubbed "angels" have been randomly descending from the heavens and wreaking havoc on humanity.  In fact, New York City, the place they first landed, had been completely destroyed and left abandoned.  Giant mechas also seem to be humanity's only hope, but that seems to be where the similarities end.  There are no children piloting these things, the aliens all seem to be setting down in North America and heading towards a "pilgrimage point" which is just north of the North Dakota border in Canada.  This is the big mystery of the series, as well as the origin and purpose of the very different looking giant robot dubbed "Frank" (short for Frankenstein).  All is eventually answered late in the series, but the pace getting there is what makes it frustrating, because really the series probably could have gotten there in about half the time it did.

I guess the main storyline itself revolves around the character whose false identity the series is named after and his struggle to find out what his girlfriend was doing experimenting with this mad scientist type on Frank, and what the military has to do with what happened.  He's basically made a spy by a person whose identity we don't learn until almost the end of the series in order to infiltrate the FUNERAL organization, which is charged with the defense of Earth against the alien robots.  Hilariously, it's headquartered in Minnesota on the edge of Lake Superior.  In any case, the military is butthurt over what it sees as someone invading its turf, and there is a power struggle which results.  Also hilarious is that while this is set in mid-21st century America, it's seen as somehow special that a woman is in charge of Funeral, despite female commanding officers being not all that uncommon even now.  In fact the only thing women are restricted from doing is actively engaging in combat, which is something you see in a lot of in anime.  The misogyny is very open and frequent, and it all comes off as a hammer-to-the-head message against it.  This is probably because it's from Japan, where misogyny is pretty common.

I guess I found it interesting enough to keep watching, and I don't really regret watching it exactly, but it was very frustrating to have the story crawl along at a snail's pace for about the first half.  The main character is also something of a whiny misogynistic bastard, which also affects the watchability of the series since it's hard to really sympathize with him.  It might be worth a watch, but it's also a bit of a waste of time, earning it a 6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on July 14, 2014, 10:42:52 AM
Armitage III
(4 episode OVA)

This OVA is mostly good.  It's hard to put it any other way, because while it has its interesting points, there are also a lot of clichés which tend to annoy me.  Not to mention the continuity gaffes, with the opening being where it's at its worst.

Taking place on Mars, which has been terraformed successfully at some point in the future, the main plot focuses on the murder of several people who turn out to in fact be robots.  While human-like robots are quite commonplace and actually the source of contention on Mars over labor rights, these robots are special because they are so human-like in personality as well as appearance, so much so that if they hadn't been killed, no one would have known any differently.  In fact, it's at first expected that people have been replaced by the robots, since most of them have been famous musicians, artists, writers and the like.  Of course the only one to care that robots are being killed is Officer Naomi Armitage, the fan servicey partner of the real main character, Ross Syllibus, who is actually a recent transfer.  The somewhat annoying part is that she only feels that way because as it turns out, she's actually one of them.

Like pretty much every sci-fi to feature androids, this OVA somewhat awkwardly deals with the question of if artificial life can really be considered that much different from humans themselves, especially since they look and act human (and most of them happen to be attractive women).

That being said, Naomi herself is probably the most annoying aspect of the show, since in the beginning she tends to behave inappropriately, like gushing over how attractive her new male partner is while he's hunched over what they both initially think is a human murder victim.  And later she basically goes off on her own, abandoning her partner, even though it's clear by this point that Ross sympathizes with and supports her.  In fact they end up falling in love and going on the run together by the end of the show.  I guess having her go off on her own was supposed to be dramatic, but it ended up just being annoying, at least to me.

Overall this is a pretty good show, interesting to watch, and with some amusing reminders of when it was made.  It also seems like this show wasn't quite finished, or ran out of time or something due to the jumps in continuity and the way the show ends, really.  Otherwise, I guess I would recommend this anime, though I don't think I can score it any higher than 7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on July 16, 2014, 01:31:46 AM
Armitage III: Poly-Matrix
(2000 movie)

This is a compilation movie made from the original OVA.  Most of it is exactly the same, though some cuts were made to save time, and some bits were added to help make things make a little more sense, which it marginally succeeds at.  Of course many of the continuity issues from the OVA are still completely unaddressed.  It features Kiefer "Jack Bower" Sutherland as the voice of the main character, Ross Syllibus, and Elizabeth Berkley as the voice of the title character, Naomi Armitage, which is the only other real thing of note to say about this movie.

While this isn't as bad as some other compilation movies I've seen, most of its strengths come from the additional scenes which would have actually added more to the OVA.  That being said, I don't really feel they make up for the storylines that were cut, and I still prefer the original OVA.  It's not horrible, but not really worth the watch unless you want to see the additional scenes I'm referring to, and only after you've seen the OVA.  Otherwise, you'll probably be even more confused about what's going on.  5/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on July 16, 2014, 01:23:13 PM
Either I've seen Sage's Anime Abandon episode on this one a few too many times or this might be on my list of 'seen-at-least-once' movies. You're right, their (questionable) choice in cast is the only thing note worthy here.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on July 19, 2014, 02:41:06 AM
Armitage: Duel Matrix
(2002 movie)

A direct sequel to the OVA or the compilation movie depending on how you look at it, it also features some celebrity voice talent, including none other than Jar-Jar Binks.  And no, I'm not kidding.

Just as with the first movie, the plot deals with androids and the people who made them.  In this case the androids look like Armitage and the people who made them all end up being murdered as part of the same type of conspiracy that took place in the OVA.  The difference is, this movie takes place on Earth, where Naomi and Ross, now her husband, have been hiding out with their daughter.  Yeah, that's right, an android somehow had a kid, but then the reproductive capabilities of the new "type III" androids that Naomi is an example of is what caused the conspiracy and systematic killing of those androids in the OVA.  The main difference from the OVA is that Naomi is actually mostly the main character of the movie.

The conspiracy manages to separate Armitage from her husband, who ends up on Mars.  The two of them both work to solve it, which results in plenty of action and drama, especially when two android assassins who look like Armitage are activated and sent after the family.  Armitage then has to deal with her daughter seeing her as the same kind of monster as the assassins for a while, which I guess is technically true except for the whole laughing cruelly and trying to kill them part.

Jar-Jar turns up to lend an unexpected hand after Armitage gets her ass handed to her a couple times, and while initially his motives are somewhat suspect, he ends up being a good guy of sorts and makes it possible for Armitage and her family to defeat the assassins and escape back to Mars.

I'd say the movie is at least as watchable as the original OVA, and I'd give it the same grade of 7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on July 21, 2014, 01:28:21 PM
Avatar: The Last Airbender
(61 episode series)

This series was surprisingly good, considering the age group it was aimed at.  While early on it was especially obvious that this show was meant more for children than adults, it still managed to have a complex plot that featured an epic journey and a battle between good and evil that might be compared in some ways to the original Star Wars trilogy.  It even features a reluctant hero, Aang, who has a destiny but doesn't want anything to do with it.

Set in an alternate world, there are a select group of humans capable of exerting a kind of telekinetic control, called bending, over the 4 ancient Greek elements: earth, air, fire and water.  Most of them only have control over one element depending on which nation they belong to, and each nation in turn is named after the element its people can bend.  The only exception is the Avatar, who can bend each element and is reincarnated as a member of each nation in turn every time he or she dies.  The Avatar's function is to keep the balance and peace between the 4 nations.  As it turns out, Aang, the most recent Avatar and a member of the Air Nomads, was frozen during a storm a century before the series takes place and as a result, the Fire Nation has successfully conquered most of the world.

Despite its rather mature story content (such as genocide), the series initially doesn't deal too much with it, focusing instead on immature humor that is obviously aimed at younger viewers.  I found this rather annoying, to the point that I almost gave up on the series fairly early on, but fortunately the series matured a little to something one might expect to be aimed at the teenaged crowd.

While the entire point of the series is that Aang has to eventually fight the evil Fire Lord who is currently leading the Fire Nation in its war against the rest of the world, most of the series actually deals with him learning how to bend each element (despite having access to the memories of the previous Avatars), as well as agonizing over his past actions and that his destiny may force him to kill despite being very much against it.  He's also physically a child, so while he's more mature than any child his age would be, he still wants to be just a child and have fun, but fate keeps robbing him of this.  He meets a lot of people and makes many friends in his search for teachers to help train him to bend each element, including in the Fire Nation itself.  It was actually quite refreshing to have the "bad guy" nation shown to be as much a victim of its leadership as the nations which have been invaded by its armies, with sympathetic characters among them.  Even the persistent villain who is obsessively trying to hunt Aang down throughout most of the series is shown in a sympathetic light at times.

While I really would have preferred that the series would have been aimed at an older demographic and lose a lot of the immature humor it had, it was still a pretty good series, and I would recommend that you watch it if you have the time.  It's a pity the story was completely ruined in adaptation to screen as so often happens with tv series being turned into movies.  9/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on July 21, 2014, 02:32:07 PM
As a fan of this one, I'm glad you liked it for the most part. And yes, the... film... was awful. The director said he was a fan of the show himself in various interviews leading up to its release. After seeing it though, I don't believe that for a second.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on July 21, 2014, 04:23:33 PM
Me either.  At best, I'd believe that his kids were fans of it.  The most enjoyment to be had out of that movie was of the unintentional type, my personal favorite being the penis hair.  :D
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on July 23, 2014, 12:32:53 AM
Barefoot Gen
(1983 movie)

This movie was good in a documentary kind of way.  That's basically all it is, narrator and all, detailing the events of the daily lives of one family as they struggled to survive both before and after the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima.  It focuses on one boy in particular, who was based on an actual survivor.  It tends to come off as a bit of a white guilt movie, mostly because it completely omits the politics of the war.  In fact, the war is only brought up at all in the first part of the movie as the cause for food shortages and the hardships that the boy's family faces.  Any other reason could probably be given for that aspect of it and the story would basically be exactly the same right up to the bombing.  Of course, it could also be that the politics are omitted because they didn't much matter to the main protagonist, who was a child, and only wanted to focus on the plight of the civilians who were effected by this war.  As I think about it, the latter is probably more likely, with the former viewpoint I had mostly coming from my experience watching so many shows that express an anti-US sentiment.

In a lot of ways, this movie comes off as something for a younger crowd, though it deals with mature topics like the effects of radiation poisoning, mass body cremations, the death of the main character's father and younger brother from being burned alive in the collapsed remnants of their house, and the later death of his infant sister of starvation.

This movie is worth a watch, though it wasn't quite what I was expecting for a movie about Hiroshima.  6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on July 23, 2014, 02:35:46 PM
This almost sounds like one I've heard about, Grave of the Fireflies. Only I don't believe they present it as a documentary.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on July 23, 2014, 10:03:52 PM
I think that one's a fictionalization of the LeMay treatment of Tokyo, where there basically firebombed the shit out of it.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on July 24, 2014, 10:08:10 AM
Battle Angel Alita
(2 episode OVA)

This is a good, but strange and ultimately frustrating anime, frustrating because it's obvious that the story is supposed to continue and in the OVA it simply ends.

Set in a post-apocalyptic future, it seems that both artificial life and cybernetic life are commonplace, even in the slum city that the story is set in.  The "Battle Angel", is actually dug out of a garbage heap, brought back to life and named Alita.  The scientist who does this is actually from the futuristic and very exclusive city which floats above the slum city.  Much like the Star Trek episode, "The Cloud Minders", the labors of the slum city's inhabitants are enjoyed by the inhabitants of the city above, and the slum only gets the trash from the city above.

Basically the story is a mystery, about Alita and her origins, as well as about the city above.  There's also a mystery in the slum city involving the murder of individuals for their organs.  Alita becomes a bounty hunter in order to solve this mystery, as the slum city has no police force.  Along the way she meets another cyborg and develops feelings for him, though it ends badly.  In the end, she finds out who is actually participating in the murders, but motivation for them was explained in a very rushed and anti-climatic way, and the floating city remains a mystery as well, remaining just a long term goal for her to reach.  And then the OVA just ends.

Having read about this OVA in advance, I knew this would happen, because the OVA only covers about the first two issues of the manga (graphic novel) series it is based on.  I would hope for this OVA to either be finished or remade, keeping as faithful to the source as possible.  The only possible downside to that is that anything new might go with a more modern visual design, and I feel something would be lost because of that.  There's just something about older anime and the way it was drawn that's very appealing.  Otherwise, it's a pretty good OVA and worth a watch, but be aware that the ending leaves you wanting more, but there is no more, unfortunately.  9/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on July 25, 2014, 11:40:31 PM
Black Cat
(24 episode series)

This is one of those series that while somewhat serious, also has quite a bit of comedy mixed in with the drama.  Overall, it is a fairly good mix of both, mainly as a drama with comedy relief.  At times this is taken a bit far, however, mostly having to do with the main character's nickname, the title of this series (wearing a bell around his neck, drinking a lot of milk, etc). 

The storyline is split between two main characters, a "sweeper" named Sven, and a trained assassin named Train.  The series contrasts the two, with Sven being very laid back and down on his luck, and Train being a trained, ruthless, mostly emotionless killing machine.  The series then slowly introduces the secondary characters, including Eve, who is literally an engineered weapon in the form of a pre-teen girl, and Saya, another somewhat more successful sweeper who gets Train to rethink his life through late night visits.  Train and Saya do develop some romantic chemistry, but thanks to a somewhat odd love triangle with another male assassin named Creed, she is murdered.  The resulting antagonism between Train and Creed is both disturbing and interesting, and it kept me watching.

Then there's the storyline with Eve.  Sven saves her from the evil bastards that made her and intended to exploit her as a horrible weapon and teaches her how to be human.  He basically adopts her as a kind of daughter, and after teaming up with Train, she tends to take what Sven taught her and attempts to teach the same lessons to Train.  At times this can be interesting and/or humorous, but as I mentioned before, the connections she makes with Train being a cat tend to take it too far.

The series does kind of mislead, though, as the antagonism between Train and Creed, while taking up most of the series, ends quite a while before the series does.  There's more betrayal to be had, and Train ends up saving the organization he was originally part of, even though they've basically been hunting him down and trying to kill both him and Eve, who was originally a target they assigned to him to kill.  The series also misleads in its message of not killing others by advocating alternative uses of firearms that quite frankly would probably still result in people getting killed.  But TV shows and movies tend to be like that with firearms, I guess.

I'm still, in some ways, up in the air as to whether I really like this series or not.  It has some good/interesting elements to it, but it also has some rather annoying clichés that would make me hesitate before recommending it to a few of my friends who might be expecting something else.  Still, I think I feel safe giving this series a 7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 04, 2014, 12:16:02 AM
Black Magic M-66
(single episode OVA)

Ah, more androids, and they aren't the focus of the story ... more or less.  In any case, the story actually follows a sexy news reporter, Sybel, who reminds me a little of April from the old Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles show I watched as a kid back in the late '80s and early '90s.  She's arrogant, driven, temperamental, and has to constantly fight off the advances of her co-worker, who is something of a leach with aspirations of his own.  Oh, and she's a hot brunette with short hair. 

In what is basically a fish-out-of-water story, Sybel noses her way into something big and ends up being hunted by both the military and the android killing machines created by some crazy scientist type.  Some mishap occurred in transporting the things, and they end up on the loose, somehow programmed to kill their creator's spoiled granddaughter, though only after they've ripped a grizzly bear and a couple of hikers to shreds, just to show us how dangerous and indiscriminate they are.  Sybel, being the just caring enough person that she is, takes it upon herself to break free of military custody, during an attack by the killing machines no less, so she can personally save the scientist's granddaughter.

Thankfully this movie wasn't completely horribly clichéd, so the soldiers weren't all evil, even if they weren't real big on the freedom of the press, and actually catch on to the fact Sybel is trying to save the same person they are, and she basically ends up completely forgiven for nosing in on their big state secret.  The end credits actually show us some mildly amusing snippets from her continued exploits, and let's just say that she doesn't change a bit.

Hmmm...  How to put this?  Well, this movie didn't suck.  The plot was straightforward, there weren't any hugely annoying and obvious political messages to ruin things, and the main character was an interesting if not really what a viewer could really entirely sympathize with.  I'd call her a chaotic neutral anti-hero ... maybe.  Yeah, there were some clichés, and really not all of the movie makes sense, but it was still fun to watch, even if there was some obvious ripping-off of The Terminator at points.  7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 06, 2014, 10:11:48 AM
Blassreiter
(24 episode series)

Set in a future Germany, this series both entertained and annoyed me.  Annoyed because of the anti-US slant that turns up late in the series, and because of how annoying some of the characters could be, not to mention some of the clichés that reared their ugly heads.

In a problem that is entirely unique to Germany, human bodies have started coming back to life as these strange monsters that are really hard to kill, have devastating attacks, and apparently just appeared out of no where.  Then, just as icing on the cake, most of the victims tend to come back to life as these monsters themselves, sort of like really angry and fast zombies that can blend with machinery to become even worse monsters.  Their origin is finally explained toward the end of the series, and isn't exactly a huge surprise thanks to the many hints dropped from the beginning of the series.

The story focuses mostly on one team of elite police, the Xenogenesis Assault Team, which actually reminds me a bit of FUNERAL from Argento Soma in the type of team members present.  As it turns out, one of their number, Hermann, has a friend who is infected and becomes one of these monsters, but to an extent he can control it and he retains his humanity.  This mostly has to do with the manner in which he was infected, which leads into what becomes the main plot of the series.  At first, it seems like this Gerd guy is going to become something like a Batman figure in that while he continually fights the good fight against the monsters, only a few people (and later only his friend) stick up for him and most regard him as simply another monster.

Well, fooled me.  As it turns out, that wasn't the case, and it only set things up for the main plotline, which is of mysterious figures from the past of yet another anti-hero character plotting to force their brand of evolution on humanity.  We eventually learn the past of this anti-hero, Joseph, and through that the solution to the big mystery that's been dragged along since the beginning of the series.  Then, like Argento Soma, there's a betrayal from within the team, but the difference is that here the betrayer never redeems themselves and most of the team dies, and the storyline shifts to follow formerly secondary characters accordingly. 

Then towards the end, the US bullies the UN into letting it unleash nuclear armageddon on Germany in order to prevent the spread of the monsters to the rest of the world.  Oh yeah, and the Knights Templar make an appearance and turn out to not be that much better, except for a few people who mostly all die saving the day.

At times this series grew quite tiresome, either from slow pacing or from the anti-US bullshit, not to mention the hugely anvilicious anti-xenophobia aesop, but I guess overall I don’t regret watching it.  It is another series that could have gotten to the point more quickly, but it's still okay.  I'd say it's about 5/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 11, 2014, 09:54:50 PM
Blood: The Last Vampire
(2000 movie)

It's safe to say that while I liked this movie, it was also somewhat lacking in story development.  We're very abruptly introduced to the story, and the pace never really slowed down enough for me to absorb as much of it as I would have liked.  We're introduced to the characters very quickly, though the only really important one is Saya, who her handler David describes as "the last original."  He and another character named Lewis are apparently part of an organization called Red Shield, which is charged with battling these bat-like demon creatures referred to as chiropterans.  We're never informed of the origin of these creatures, who or what exactly Saya is, or how Red Shield is able to cover things up so completely despite so much evidence from the various battles that take place.

Movies like this tend to give us an "ordinary" person to sympathize with, and this is no exception.  In this case, it's a plump American woman who is the school nurse at the high school on Yanato Air Base in Tokyo.  She's actually quite annoying, and a pretty negative stereotype of Americans.  Saya has to repeatedly save her, though at one point she seems to lament not being able to kill her.

Saya herself seems to be a vampire, but she doesn't seem to be affected by any of the stereotypical things associated as weaknesses for vampires, and we never see her drink blood.  The title actually seems to have to do with the method Saya employs to kill the chiropterans, which is the only way to kill them, through a single blow that causes massive blood loss.  Saya herself is somewhat difficult to sympathize with as a character due to her temperamental and abrupt nature, but she definitely kicks plenty of ass.

Overall I'd say that this was an enjoyable movie, though somewhat short.  It asks a lot of questions without really answering any of them, and while I kind of like that to an extent, in this case I think there were way too many unanswered questions.  It's still worth a watch though, earning a solid 7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on August 12, 2014, 01:46:24 AM
I've heard the title of this one, but I'm not honestly sure if I've seen it as well.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on August 12, 2014, 07:01:17 AM
  • Akira - review (http://www.subspace-comms.net/index.php?topic=4530.msg129622#msg129622)
  • Black Lagoon
  • Blood: The Last Vampire (2000 movie) - review (http://www.subspace-comms.net/index.php?topic=4530.msg129882#msg129882)
  • Blood+
  • Casshern Sins
  • Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
  • Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2
  • Durarara!!
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
  • Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion
  • Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone
  • Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance
  • Outlaw Star
  • Summer Wars

I've seen these, currently watching Black Lagoon on Toonami/Adult Swim (They're in what I think is the middle of a Yakuza story arc as of 8-10-14).  I think I've seen Blue Submarine No. 6, IIRC it was half CGI/half anime, something about humanity fighting genetically enhanced sea creatures with submarines...

CX, do you mind if other people post anime recommendations/comments here?

Hmm... I've seen 2 of the series on your recommendation list, Ghost in the Shell - mostly the first season and the odd episode of Bebop. Heard of a few others. I've seen more from your index list. I look forward to seeing what you have to say about some of them (even the 'anime-like' shows I noticed on the list), but take your time.

You should dig up the second season of GitS, I'd say it's probably the best anime I've ever watched.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on August 12, 2014, 02:31:35 PM
I've seen the odd episode here and there, whenever I've been in the States and they're running it, but by the time I made that post I had already bought the most recent (as far as I know) box sets. ;)
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 13, 2014, 12:56:53 AM
I certainly don't mind if people post their own recommendations and comments here, as part of the point of this thread is to discuss the different stuff I'm reviewing, as well as what you think of my reviews.  ;) 
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on August 14, 2014, 05:37:11 AM
Regarding Blood: The Last Vampire, I'd have to agree with your review, though it's been a while since I've seen it.  I saw it after watching the series Blood+.  I liked the fact that there was some bilingual moments.  The channel I watched it on likes to show anime in the original Japanese, or so I assume since they showed GitS 2: Innocence in Japanese.  In this movie, most of the dialog was in English but there were a couple scenes with people on the street speaking Japanese.

Also, regarding Akira.  I liked it, but I'd have to agree with your review for the most part.  The ending was a bit of a WTF moment.  It's worth watching though as it probably influenced later anime (and the South Park "Trapper Keeper" episode) and it has some cool moments.

Anywho, my recommendations (in no particular order):

There's probably more, but that's all I can think of at the moment...
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 14, 2014, 09:43:36 AM
For the longest time, Innocence didn't have a dub.  I forget when they finally gave it one, featuring the cast from the series' dub, but it wasn't until the late 2000s sometime.  Incidentally, it's actually become somewhat difficult to get a hold of a copy of it, so apparently it didn't sell very well.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 14, 2014, 09:48:46 AM
Blood: The Last Vampire
(2009 live-action movie)

Based on the animated movie, the live action version adds a lot to it, which in the end I feel improves it a great deal.  A lot of the mystery is lost, which may be why a lot of fans of the original may react so negatively to it, but the story is much more fleshed out to the benefit of the movie, I feel.

Some of the differences are that instead of a school nurse, we instead have Saya rescuing the daughter of Yanato's commander, both from the chiropterans and from rogue elements of Red Shield.  David also doesn't play as big of a role as he did in the original, and Lewis either changed races or was omitted and replaced by another character.  And rather than just a few chiropterans, there's practically an army of them that has infiltrated quite a bit of both Yanato Air Base and Japan in general, and there are also some main antagonists for us to focus on.

More or less, it's the same story of Saya (who's now officially a blood-drinker), working with Red Shield to kill chiropterans, and at one point infiltrating the high school on Yanato Air Base to do so.  From there it leads into a larger story than the anime movie, and while the resolution isn't all that clear, it at least felt like I’d seen an entire movie rather than just half of it.  There are still some absurd parts, the worst offender being the point that Saya fights a massive crowd of chiropterans by herself, rather like a certain scene in Kill Bill that was played for humor.

I'd recommend this movie, but while you could enjoy this movie without seeing the original, I would suggest that you do watch the original first, if nothing else to compare them so you can make up your own mind about them and how they compare to one another.  8/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on August 14, 2014, 12:07:12 PM
For the longest time, Innocence didn't have a dub.  I forget when they finally gave it one, featuring the cast from the series' dub, but it wasn't until the late 2000s sometime.  Incidentally, it's actually become somewhat difficult to get a hold of a copy of it, so apparently it didn't sell very well.

I don't remember when I saw it, but I think it was some time in the last 4 years.  IIRC I recorded it of of IFC, same as Blood: The Last Vampire (again IIRC).  I'm pretty sure I saw The Last Vampire in 2009, as they were showing commercials for the live-action movie during the anime movie. 

Speaking of "difficult to get a hold of", that reminds me of another anime series I'd highly recommend.  It's called Monster, and despite what the title may suggest its the only anime I've watched that doesn't have a heavy science fiction or fantasy bend.  Unfortunately, I've read that its near impossible to find now.  I'd have to say this is quite possibly the best anime I've ever watched, or at least tied for best along with Ghost in the Shell: SAC

It's about a brilliant Japanese neurosurgeon, Dr. Kenzo Tenma, who's working at a hospital in Germany.  One day he gets called in to do a surgery on a political big shot and at the same time a kid (Johan Liebert) is brought in with a gunshot to the head.  He's ordered to do the surgery on the big shot but instead does the surgery on the kid.  Which turns out to be a huge mistake, since the kid is the gone horribly right (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GoneHorriblyRight) result of an old East German program to create supersoldiers through physiological manipulation.  So years later the kid begets a bunch of murders through manipulating other people to kill for him and Tenma decides to quit working at the hospital and hunt the guy down and kill him.  Meanwhile, Johan's twin sister (Nina Fortner/Anna Liebert) is also trying to hunt him down and kill him.

If I had to compare it to anything, I'd loosely compare it to The Following, as like Joe Carroll, Johan acquires something of a cult following (though not as heavily as Joe Carroll IIRC and not as crazily).  Pretty much anyone who associates with Johan over the course of the series winds up dead, including the people who work for him/think he's working for them.  Here's a Wikipedia link to the manga (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monster_%28anime%29) it's based on (which also includes details about the anime) expect SPOILERS.  Oh, and according to this link HBO is collaborating with Guillermo del Toro to produce a live action TV show based on Monster (as of 2013).
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 17, 2014, 12:30:28 AM
That's on my list of things to watch, actually.  Of course that list is pretty big.   :-\
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 17, 2014, 11:19:21 AM
Blood+
(50 episode series)

This series is a reboot/reimaging of the original movie, giving us a much more epic and complex story.  This time, all of humanity is at risk, and our only hope is a (seemingly) teenaged girl who is having memory and post traumatic stress issues from something horrible we see her do in the opening of the first episode.

Saya is shown as being a "normal" high school student, and part of an adopted family, but naturally things come along and ruin that for her.  Of course, all along there have are hints that Saya is anything but normal, but it takes an attack from a chiropteran and the return of her chevalier, Haji, to bring out the killing machine that she really is.  She ends up struggling to remember her past and trying to deal with what she is, and while that could be somewhat dramatic, I tend to think it was drawn out and that it tended to happen at times that made it really, really annoying.  In fact, Saya seemed pretty useless for about the first half of the series.

The series also changes a few other things up, like giving Saya a sister named Diva, whose blood is as toxic to Saya and any chiropterans (which chevalier's and even Saya and Diva are also) she makes by feeding them her blood, and vice versa.  In fact, Saya's blood is the only way to kill the bat-like creatures that Red Shield has been fighting for over a century, which was usually complicated by the fact Saya is only active for a few years and goes into hibernation for something like 30 years.  During the series, the complication is that Saya doesn't remember her past and freaks out at the changes that happen to her when she cuts her finger or thumb on her special sword and kills chiropterans.

Actually the connection with blood was done pretty well, not only in making it the only weapon against Diva's chiropterans, but also in the connection between Saya and Diva, and all of the chiropterans.  The series was pretty well done, and kept a fairly good pace for the last half of it, all while teasing us with Saya's past and how the situation with the chiropterans started.  It's pretty messed up, actually, and no one is really clean, so to speak.

I will say, though, that it seems like someone at Production I.G seems to have an anti-US axe to grind.  While it's ironic, seeing as most of the good guys surrounding Saya, including her adoptive father, are all Americans, this series does pretty much everything it can to paint the US military and US government as evil.  There are even a couple characters that turn up to conspire with Diva's faction who very strongly resemble Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice.  I'm almost surprised Bush didn't get the same treatment, seeing as in some cases the Rumsfeld character was making statements and taking actions which would have been more appropriate for the President anyway.

That aside, the series was pretty good.  It wasn't as good as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, which was also made by Production I.G, but it was still worth the watch.  I'd rate it a 7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on August 17, 2014, 02:12:32 PM
As soon as I read the words 'when she cuts her finger or thumb on her special sword' I knew I had seen a few episodes here and there of this one. From what I recall it did seem interesting. It was on one of those 'here today, gone tomorrow' specialty channels.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on August 18, 2014, 12:46:24 PM
I second CX's recommendation of Blood+.  IIRC this is one of those shows I didn't get into when it first aired (on Adult Swim at the time), I ignored it until I caught a rerun and then started watching it.  I don't remember the anti-U.S. stuff that CX talked about, but its been several years since I've seen it and I probably forgot about it.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 18, 2014, 12:58:35 PM
The big secret evil plan was that there was something in the food that turned people into chiropterans, thus creating a problem only the US would have a solution to because they had super soldiers based on the Shiff (or whatever they were called), thus creating an excuse to invade and occupy whatever country they wanted.  And, being evil, naturally they decided to test out how the food worked by handing it out at an air show being hosted on an Air Force base.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on August 18, 2014, 03:57:22 PM
Ah, yeah I forgot about that.

Speaking of which, another anime series I'd recommend that I forgot to add to my list would be Sword Art OnlineSword Art Online takes place in the near future in Japan and is about a virtual reality MMO named... Sword Art Online.  The series follows a Japanese teen who goes by the name Kirito in the game.  SAO (as it's called in the show) is fantasy game without magic.  The first episode starts all normal until Kirito and another person he meets in-game decide to log out of the game and there's no log out menu icon.  Turns out the guy who developed the game didn't include a log out option, the only way to escape the game is to clear all 100 floors and defeat the final boss.  Much like The Matrix if you die in the game, you die in real life (because the VR headset the player wears microwaves the user's brain).  If someone on the outside tries to disconnect you from the game, the VR headset microwaves your brain.

Between the first and second episode quite a bit of time passes (several months IIRC), lots of players die, and no one has even located the first boss' lair.  Eventually Kirito falls in love with this girl in the game named Asuna and they get married in the game.  The series is divided into two seasons (AFAIK) with a time-skip between the two seasons.  Season one focuses entirely on Kirito and the other player's trying to get out of SAO. 

At the start of season two, SAO has been beat and Kirito is back in the real world; however, some of the people in SAO are still in comas, including Asuna (as it so happens that's her real name too).  Turns out Asuna's stuck in another fantasy VRMMO game called Alfheim Online.  In case you're not familiar with Norse mythology (I wasn't until after doing some research after watching Thor) Alfheim means "land of the faeries".  While that sound's kiddy, Alfheim Online is not kiddy, and actively encourages PvP and (as the show calls it) PK-ing (player killing), and since the player characters are faeries, there's a flight mechanic in the game.  Alfheim Online isn't a death trap, so Kirito goes into the game to search for Asuna.  Along the way he runs into another girl who happens to be his sister (well, actually cousin IIRC since he was adopted) and some awkwardness occurs.  As it turns out there's a sinister purpose behind the former SAO players who are still in comas, that revolves around the main human villain (I forget his name at the moment, but he's a fucking creepy pervert who's obsessed with Asuna).  SPOILERS: He's using the VR interface to create mind control technology.  Basically he snagged people from SAO as it was being deleted after Kirito beat the final boss to experiment on.

Overall the series is pretty good, has lots of good action, and some humor (IIRC).  Although there is the whole "awkward teen love" story between Kirito and Asuna, plus the... complicated relationship between Kirito and his sister (who's name I've forgotten).  Also there's some uncomfortable moments towards the end of the second season (let's just say there's a reason I called the villain a fucking creepy pervert).  One thing that bugged me is that SAO's programmer's motivation for making a death game was well... I think "WTF was he thinking?!" fits.  It's actually pretty dark too (especially in the beginning when damn near everyone Kirito works with winds up dieing, in some cases its kind of his fault).
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 19, 2014, 12:06:20 AM
Blue Submarine No. 6
(4 episode OVA)

This was an interesting take on the whole post-apocalyptic type of story, even with the annoying environmental message.  Essentially, some Dr. Moreau type has gone nuts and somehow not only managed to flood most of Earth's surface by creating a polar shift, killing a good chunk of the population, but he's created an army (navy?) of intelligent human/animal hybrids to kill as many humans as possible.  He later denies that was the purpose, but his motivations are rather difficult to understand anyway.  Apparently he hatched his evil secret plan after losing his family in an ethnic cleansing while he was off figuring out how to create more food for the world's population.

In the meantime, the world's surviving navies have banded together and formed "Blue Fleet," a futuristic submarine force, of which Blue Submarine No. 6 is a part of.  It's a little frustrating that they didn't give the sub its own name, as most of the other subs in the fleet do have their own names, but that doesn't really affect the story.  The fleet continues to fight the water-borne forces of Dr. Moreau – I mean Zorndyke, losing many of its number along the way.

Due to these massive loses and an acceleration detected in Earth's polar shift, Blue Fleet plans to attack the tropical Antarctic (yeah, really) stronghold of Dr. Zorndyke in an effort to break the will of his creations to fight.  Dr. Zorndyke interrupts their little briefing and lets them know that he's on to them, right before the massive phantom ship that has been systematically wiping out Blue Fleet turns up at their base to kill them all.

Blue Sub 6  had picked up a former crew member, Tetsu in the first episode, and during one of these fights, he, for no real reason, takes pity on the pilot of one of the machines that was moments ago trying to kill him and lets her go (kind of a fish girl/mermaid I guess).  This comes into play as the Blue Fleet base is destroyed and he is shipwrecked in the process of allowing Blue Sub 6 to escape, as he is in turn rescued by the creepy mermaid he had returned to the water early in the OVA.  While I'm glad they never went the romance route, it would have been interesting to have the two develop more of a friendship, but sadly it didn't come to much, other than this mermaid changing her way of thinking and not seeing humans has her enemy.

What does come of it, and from the help of another friend who has been turned into a sea creature by Zorndyke, is that Tetsu is able to infiltrate Zorndyke's "base" and kill him, thus preventing the nuclear strike that was Blue Fleet's original plan, which actually would have finally brought on the end of humanity through the pole shift.  The moral of the story is supposed to be that we should try to get along instead of fighting each other, but it's left somewhat ambiguous as to whether Zorndyke's creations will make an effort to get along with humans or vice versa.

Made by the same studio that would go on to make Last Exile, some of the character designs look rather familiar.  There's even a short-haired tomboy, Kino, who is unfortunately more annoying than anything.  She's moody, unreasonable, and cries a lot, which kind of contrasts the professional officer image they initially tried to sell her as in the beginning of the OVA.   Most of the other characters we meet are interesting enough, though I have to say that the main fish creatures manning the phantom ship (a battleship/whale combination) were a bit too cartoonish for my taste.  The captain of Blue Sub 6 was likable, and actually reminded me a bit of a Star Trek captain, which is probably what they were going for anyway, including with the look of Blue Sub 6 herself (not to mention a Scottish chief engineer).

While an okay anime, this probably isn't what fans of submarine movies would like, simply because it doesn't have much of that feel, which is very firmly in the sci-fi side of things.  I kind of wished that they'd gone a more realistic route, and gotten a more appropriate soundtrack, for that matter.  Other than that, it was okay, so it might be worth checking out.  7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 20, 2014, 11:11:40 PM
Boogiepop Phantom
(12 episode series)

While Baccano! managed to pull off the ADD editing somehow, this series made all the skipping around a bit annoying.  It also tended to skip around in time and location, though each episode was basically its own self-contained story.  Each tended to intersect with more than one other episode, however, so it could get a bit confusing to follow.  There were also so many different characters that it became hard to remember their names, at least, to even really see how much each storyline might intersect with another.  It also might have helped if I'd understood what was going on or what the show was even really about. 

The title character basically goes around and disappears various characters that all have special powers of some kind, usually after chastising them for the use of those powers.  She alternatively refers to herself as Death, and as "saving" the people she makes disappear, so it's hard to tell if she's a villain or not.  I normally like ambiguity, but this was just confusing.  I guess making them disappear into thin air (or cocooning them as is revealed close to the end) is somewhat better than the obviously evil "composite" humans who literally ate people who were supposed to represent evolution within the human species.  The big evil organization they belonged to apparently controlled everything while actually preferring to just observe, except when it came to preventing change, as in evolution in humans.  That's pretty much all I got out of the series.

According to my research (as in, I read the Wiki article), this anime was apparently made with the assumption that the viewer had read the source material, and that this wasn't an adaptation so much as an addition to it.  That could be why the anime seemed to hit the ground running and never really slowed down to me, but even if that wasn't the case, I'd say that this series was severely lacking in story structure and development.

I guess if you like having your mind screwed with a bit, this might be worth a watch, but I'm guessing most would simply find this series confusing and hard to follow.  3/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 23, 2014, 12:07:21 AM
Burn-Up!
(single episode OVA)

This show was immature and actually a little painful to watch.  It focuses on a mostly female police squad as it investigates a female slavery ring run by some gangster type.  As one might expect, this means some fan service, but while I usually kind of enjoy this kind of thing, it really wasn't worth it to watch this stinker.  The English dub was especially annoying, but having to read the moronic conversation taking place in Japanese didn't improve on anything.  It was just stupid, both the plot and the characters.  There's a certain amount of corn one might get some enjoyment out of, but I didn't think it was really enough to overcome the many, many problems this stinker has.  The one thing it has going for it is that it isn't all that long, although it seems longer than it is.  0/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on August 28, 2014, 11:19:30 PM
Attack on Titan
As I'm currently only 15 or so episodes in, I can't evaluate the series as a whole, but what I've seen so far is pretty good.  If you get Cartoon Network they are reruning the first 12 episodes this Saturday (8-30) from 11 pm-5 am (Central time).

The series is set in a roughly Renaissance-era (technologically) world where humanity lives in a large walled-off area.  Outside the walls are giant, humanoid creatures called titans.  These titans range in size from 4-17 meters in height and are mostly a complete and total mystery.  They seem to get all the energy they need to survive from sunlight and lack a digestive system, yet they eat people.  They appear to be lacking in intelligence (to put it mildly) but are near impossible to kill as they can regenerate their heads within 5 minutes.  Their only weak point is a small area on the back of their necks.  The soldiers fight the titans using ODM (omni-directional mobility) gear which consists mostly of a pair of grappling hooks and gas-jet propulsion (the ODM gear has a nozzle that ejects gas at high pressures to propel the user).  The ODM gear's controls double as sword hilts and each soldier carries four blades (two pair for each sword).

As one would predict, the outermost of the three walls are breached by the titans in the first episode.  This leads the three main characters (Erin, Mikasa, and Armin) to join the military as teenagers to fight the titans.  Erin comes off as one of those hot-headed kid protagonists that seem common in anime (at first at least), while Mikasa is the badass girl, and Armin it the confidence lacking genius (at first at least).  Also as one would predict, this show is pretty violent, gory, and dark.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 30, 2014, 11:13:35 AM
I saw the first episode of that a while back, and couldn't help but wonder about how they handled agriculture for some reason.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on August 30, 2014, 11:40:53 AM
In the third or fourth episode they show some soldiers that couldn't hack boot camp and said something about them going to work in the fields or something to that effect.  The middle and outer walls actually seem to encompass a large amount of land judging from the areal shots they show later on in the series.  Most of that land looked undeveloped though, it seems the cities are confined to the N, S, E, and West sides of the walls.  They also mention that meat has been scarce since the fall of Wall Maria (the outermost wall), probably because they don't have the room to raise livestock (or had to abandon a lot of the livestock while fleeing the titans).  Plus they mention food shortages in the second or third episode (right after Erin and company make it out to safety).

That said they mention that 20% of the human population died after Wall Maria fell.  Most of the survivors of the fall were sent on a suicide mission to retake Wall Maria as the lands inside Wall Rose (the middle wall) couldn't sustain that many people.  The inner most wall (Wall Cina) looks like its pressed against a large castle (where the King lives) and I'd imagine that its almost entirely supported by the territory beyond that wall.  How humanity managed to enclose such a large area with walls 50 or so meters high while being decimated by the titans, well that's another question... (Of course, maybe the walls existed before then...)  (In a later episode they mention that there's a cult that believes the walls were a gift from God.)
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 01, 2014, 12:49:11 PM
Burn-Up W
(4 episode OVA)

This OVA didn't have much to do with the first one beyond names, so I guess it had that going for it.  For about the first half of it, it seemed like it was going to be all nudity and comedy, not unlike GoldenBoy.  There was a villainous plotline in the background the whole time, but it seemed like it was more about making a VR orgasm machine than anything really threatening or dangerous.  Honestly I probably would have enjoyed the show a lot more if that were the case, but it turned out to be something actually sinister, and the show took a turn for serious with the third episode.  Basically we got introduced to one of the character's friends only to have that friend wind up getting shot in the face.  And even after the show turned mostly serious at that point, it still tried to throw some comedy and fan service out there, and that didn't really come off well in my opinion, because the mood shift had already happened and there was no going back, at least not for me.

Really this show would have been improved had it simply chosen whether to be serious or to be a comedy, because mixing the two just didn't work for it.  4/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 02, 2014, 11:28:23 PM
Burn-Up Excess
(12 episode series)

This series was actually fairly good as far as being basically a sex comedy.  As with the 4 episode OVA, this series pretty much focused on fan service and comedy, which was mostly about the fan service.  It's refreshing to see an anime that doesn't really take itself too seriously.  Actually, this series reminds me a little of Desert Punk as far as how over the top the action and comedy can be without overdoing it.  The problem is, much like Desert Punk did toward its end, this series just had to get serious suddenly in its last few episodes.  We're talking a major terrorist plot here, along with major betrayal from characters who were supposed to be "good guys."  It's somewhat frustrating that once again, the people making this series had to ruin what they had by introducing a serious plot.

As for the plot itself, well, for a while it was refreshingly episodic with some minor connection with the big evil secret plan that finally reared its ugly head at the end of the series.  The character design and voice talent is the same as Burn Up W, which at first lead me to believe Excess was a sequel to it, but as someone turned up who was killed in the OVA, I guess there is no real continuity between the OVA and this series.  Oh, and speaking of character design, the Warrior Squad's only male team member, Yuji, looks a lot like the main character of GoldenBoy, so that helped sell both the OVA and this series to me initially. 

I'd say this series is worth a watch if you're up for some adult comedy.  Much as with the OVA, though, the ending kind of spoiled my enjoyment of it, so I'm not going to score it much higher at 5/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 06, 2014, 08:16:14 AM
Burn-Up Scramble
(12 episode series)

This series features a new character design and animation style that frankly makes the older versions of this franchise look a lot better by comparison.  This series also features a new voice cast along with having a new continuity completely unrelated to the other versions of the franchise.  But what really makes this version suck, in my opinion, is that it's way too serious.  It reminds me of other "future cop" animes which also bored the hell out of me so much.  The fan service is still there, albeit much tamer and therefore less fun as far as I'm concerned. 

I have to be honest, though, and admit up front that I couldn't watch this entire series.  Even if I didn't have a massively huge list of things I want to watch and get through, I probably still wouldn't take the time to watch the entirety of this series, because at points I was tempted to quit before the first episode was even done.  That being said, I only made it through the first episode.  0/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 09, 2014, 03:30:13 AM
Burst Angel
(24 episode series)

This is basically your stereotypical anime – giant mecha, girls with guns, and plenty of fan service.  So, at least in my opinion, there's nothing really special about it and it's basically eye candy.  For the most part, the series is somewhat episodic, though the "episodes" can actually last 2-3 episodes.  There's the big evil plot in the background, though not all of it makes sense, particularly in how it manifests in each episode, which includes the requisite beach episode.

There is a lesbian couple, sort of, with a tomboy engineered weapon and a busty, not all that bright girly type, Jo and Meg, respectively.  The series does try to do a bit of drama with them, and even finishes off with a heroic sacrifice, though it's not clear to me if Jo and her former boss actually died or not at the end of the epic battle that finished the series off.  The idea that Meg would somehow take Jo's place was pretty amusing, though, seeing as she was pretty much the Daphne of the series, what with getting kidnapped in basically every episode and needing Jo to save her.

There is something of a fake protagonist in this series, though, a real whiny loser by the name of Kyohei who is a culinary student just seeking a job on the side for some extra cash.  It was pretty apparent from the start that this was going to be a "harem" type comedy, with a single male character surrounded by hot female characters that he will never, ever get to be more than friends with.  Like most harem comedies I've seen so far, Kyohei is whiney and pathetic, being impossibly understanding and pathetic.  At the beginning of the series, Jo threatened to kill him more than once, including one time when he was infected by a nanovirus that was set to kill him in a few hours if it was not removed.  As Meg was at risk, Jo used him as a hostage in an exchange, threatening to kill him if he didn't cooperate.  And he just goes along with it, even going so far as to save her ass before that storyline was through.  Personally I would have threatened to kill her right back, and probably would have tried to follow through with that threat as soon as the opportunity presented itself, but since Kyohei let himself be a doormat, apparently Jo decided he was now a friend and the series progressed from there.  At a point later in the series, though, it becomes clear that Kyohei is nothing but a supporting character and that Jo is the real protagonist.  Which is pretty lame, really.  Apparently whoever made this was under the mistaken impression that they had to fool their perceived all-male audience into watching their show about hot women fighting crime with their giant robot.

Anyway, this was an okay watch, but it really wasn't anything special.  The most noteworthy thing about it to me was that this was the first role of Monica Rial's that made me notice and appreciate the range her voice actually has by doing something that wasn't a cutesy moé voice.  This series was an attempt at a comedy drama, or maybe a drama with a lot of comedy relief, and it marginally succeeds.  I'd give it a 6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 12, 2014, 02:04:18 AM
Burst Angel Infinity
(single episode OVA)

A prequel to the series and a sequel to the background episode where Jo and Meg first met.  There isn't a whole lot more to say about the OVA, which really could have been just another episode to the series.  The story itself is about Meg and Jo seeking revenge against a mechanized monster who hurt the youngest member of the gang of street urchins Meg was leading when they found Jo.  Hints at widespread corruption in New York City (like that's anything new), where the story takes place, and an even more obvious anti-US message in that the big bad from the series shows up in NYC as its mayor.

As an aside, it's kind of amusing how many more times I've seen the "teen-aged girl leading a band of street kids who all live in an abandoned bus" aspect of this story pop up in other anime series.

Nothing is really added to the series by this OVA, and like the series itself, while not bad it wasn't really good either.  5/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 14, 2014, 11:47:51 AM
Canaan
(13 episode series)

This was one of the better animes I've watched from my list so far.  I was only able to watch a subbed version, but a dub has been made since.

This series is more action oriented, and of the big bad conspiracy to develop a human super-weapon variety.  It takes place mostly in Shanghai, China, which I find somewhat laughable considering that at least part of the conspiracy involves the US and China cooperating with one another, since everything takes place in China.  I'm not sure I would label this one entirely anti-US, since most of the hate is focused on the CIA, and on intelligence organizations in general it seems, as Japan's own such organization is made to look pretty evil, too.  I'd say the US is probably made fun of more than anything, as the President is made out to be a somewhat lovable buffoon.  The war on terror is also made out to be fake, which is pretty stupid also, but I digress.  Sufficed to say there is a somewhat hippy viewpoint presented about the "military industrial complex", with the group of terrorists showcased presented as far more like a conventional military than actual terrorist organizations are.

Aside from all the action and the big evil conspiracy revolving around a bioengineered "Ua Virus", there's also something of a romance between two women.  Unfortunately we're later supposed to believe the two of them are only friends, but everything in the storyline is played as the two of them being romantically interested in each other.  After all, Canaan, a super-soldier created by exposure to the Ua Virus (which is supposed to be 100% deadly, mind), is constantly protecting the much more feminine Maria, and the two constantly refer to the other being their light, go on about wanting to be together forever, etc.  Even in the end, it's played as a bittersweet end, with the two of them being separated by fate.  Insert a male character into the Canaan role, and I'm pretty sure most people would see it the way I did, but whatever.

There was also some messed up, incestuous infatuation going on between the main villain, Alphard (once also Canaan), and her (adopted) sister.  Of course that woman was even more fucked up than Alphard in the head when it came to killing people, and just in general for that matter.

As you might guess, Alphard has a special infatuation with Canaan, due to the two of them basically being adopted and raised by the same man, a mercenary who was apparently paid to do so.  He also named them both Canaan.  Alphard is weird in that while she constantly hunts down Canaan and fights her, or kidnaps Maria in order to get Canaan to fight her, she never goes all out and kills Canaan.

A bit strange, but still enjoyable, with some comedy relief and fan service thrown in for fun.  It's not an especially good series, and it does have an annoyance factor to it in the form of Maria constantly calling out Canaan's name, but overall I'd say it was fun to watch, and worth a score of about 7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 15, 2014, 01:01:25 PM
Casshan (or Casshern): Robot Hunter
(4 episode OVA)

Another post-apocalyptic story, this time brought on by robot overlords that humans created themselves, lead by an android whose designation BK-1 coincidentally works out as initials for his later name "Black King".  That still sort of sounds like it could be awesome, even if there's an annoying message of hubris to sit through along with it, but really it wasn't all that good.  Battlestar Galactica or Terminator this ain't, because while both of those franchises feature somewhat thoughtful takes on the whole "robots bent on destroying humanity" angle, in this case the robots ...excuse me "neo-roids" were created to help preserve and protect the environment or some shit like that.  So, kind of like the movie I, Robot, BK-1 comes to the conclusion that the best way to do this is to take over things and to kill the majority of humanity, since humanity is a threat to the environment and all that.  I found the environmental bit funny, seeing as the "Robo-Zone" the OVA begins in is a desolate wasteland that obviously once flourished with life.

The robots themselves are a big chunk of why I don't much care for this OVA, mostly just because the way they were written, they could have just as well been aliens or even an elitist group of humans.  After all, they really pushed the whole Nazi angle with the neo-roid symbol and the stiff-armed salute (not to mention the speeches with flags in the background), so humans or space Nazis would have fit the bill a lot better than robots, especially since they acted so human.  They weren't cold and calculating like the terminators or the Cylons, they piloted aircraft and other vehicles with normal instrumentation and controls, rather than the vehicles being neo-roids themselves, stuff like that.  Kind of nitpicky, but I just wasn't sold on the robot angle.  That and I had a really hard time believing all the major world powers' militaries could have been defeated by Black King and his robot armies because of how inefficient and ineffective they were.

Casshan himself was kind of a cool concept, but there was also the same problem with just being unable to suspend disbelief.  He has this cool armor, and at some points he demonstrates the ability to deal out significant damage from a distance, but for the most part he just karate chops and kicks robots to death, one at a time, usually to save his girlfriend Luna, who is usually in some form of peril.  Oh, speaking of, they did try some drama, including romantic drama between Luna and Casshan, but usually the action got in the way of that.  To be honest what drama there was wasn't terribly compelling or interesting anyway.

While easier to follow than the live-action Casshern movie and considerably less boring, it still just isn't all that good, at least for anything other than some amusement.  Fortunately this is only a 4 episode OVA, and each episode is only a bit over 20 minutes long.  I'd give it a 2/10, because while a little interesting and somewhat riff-able (oh, and animated tits), it just really wasn't all that good.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 17, 2014, 12:44:41 PM
Casshern Sins
(24 episode series)

Wow, what a depressing show.  Another take on the original Casshern story, naturally this is a post-apocalyptic story, but that isn't what makes this show depressing.  Rather, we meet a lot of characters and get to know them just well enough for it to tug at our heart strings when they die.  And pretty much everyone Casshern meets does just that, either by his hand, those of other robots, or from the super-rust that is slowly killing all robots along with the entire planet.

In this take on the Casshern story, Casshern actually started out as a killing machine under the command of Braiking Boss (the BK-1 character), and killed Luna, who was his girlfriend on both of the other versions of Casshern I've seen.  Thankfully there was never (and is never) any romance between them, because this version of her looks like a creepy 10 year old.  Anyway, somehow through killing her, Casshern becomes immortal, and the great robot plague called "the ruin" is created and starts to spread.

Different robot characters lamented the super-rust, which prevents them from accepting new replacement parts or from creating new robots as well as slowly killing them, but I kind of thought of it as karma coming back to even the score after Braiking Boss and his army wiped out most of humanity, which had somehow managed to achieve immortality by then.  And not just the robots are affected, but the planet itself seems to be turning into a lifeless ball of sand, with few remaining areas of plant life, and every structure a crumbling ruin.

Overall this was a fairly interesting series, but I have to say that it did get rather tiresome at times.  Every version of Casshern I've seen has lamented his creation and what he is, but this version of him was practically emo.  He not only wanted to die, but there were a few times he actually let an enemy try to kill him, and at one point he even tried to rip his own heart out.  And while the somewhat limited soundtrack could at times effectively add to scenes and help to tug at the heart strings, there was this one pop song with English lyrics that got old fast and at times didn't even really fit what was going on in the scene it was being used for.  And while he was busy being depressed, Casshern basically just wandered around aimlessly, somehow still managing to come across random characters.  This basically gave us each episode's story for about the first 2/3's of the series - Casshern comes across random characters, other robots try to kill him and/or the characters he just met, he fights them, and usually goes into berserker mode and ends up killing basically everyone within sight.  I guess I can't complain too much though, as some of those episodes were actually somewhat decent.  Still, it got somewhat tiresome, along with everyone hating him after they found out his name, even if he'd just saved their lives.

The character design was somewhat different than what I was used to, just to throw that out there.  Some characters reminded me a lot of the anime movie Metropolis, especially Ringo, who was either some weird kind of robot or maybe a human/robot hybrid of some kind.  Anyway, when she smiled and laughed, it was hard not to do the same.  Casshern and a lot of the others were way more ... artistic.  At times it was impressionist, and at others, it almost reminded me of a more American style of animation.  Casshern and the other robots like him also all sported the ultimate popped collars.  ;)

I think I'll give this one a 7/10, which isn't bad considering that it started out so generically that I almost didn't bother watching past the first episode.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 18, 2014, 02:06:18 AM
Castle in the Sky
(1986 movie)

You know, I wasn't expecting a whole lot from a 1986 anime movie about a floating castle, but this actually wasn't that bad.  Sure, it was kind of cutesy at times, and while the animation style kind of dates, the story still holds up pretty well.

The story itself is set in a kind of generic European country about 1900 or so.  It's steampunk, though, so dates don't mean much.  Cars and airplanes seem to be that very early vintage, along with artillery and small arms, but there are flying battleships and dirigibles that make it pretty steampunk.  Actually in some ways this reminds me of Nadia, as far as everything revolving around a young girl with a special blue necklace who turns out to be a princess of a lost city.  It's just that in this case the city is floating in the air rather than the water.

In this case the young girl is named Sheeta, and she doesn't even know what her true heritage is at first and has to kind of intuit it later on in the movie.   Apparently she's descended from the royalty of a civilization that had huge cities that flew far above the ground.  The movie's opening implies that some great catastrophe happens to make the majority of the cities crash.  During the time the movie takes place, most people take this all to be myth, and for the few pilots who have seen the last remaining flying city, they tend to get treated like nuts.  Apparently the government of whatever country this movie takes place in believes it enough to kidnap Sheeta and attempt to force her to show them where the flying city, Laputa, is, even though she doesn't know what they're talking about.  Luckily for her the airship she's been absconded to is attacked by air pirates, and in the ensuing battle, she ends up falling.  Normally that would be a bad thing, but like I said, magic blue necklace, so she ends up floating safely to the ground, and right into the arms of the standard good-guy and humble love interest Pazu.

There's some standard boy-meets-girl along the way, with some air pirates who aren't so bad thrown in for fun.  The story is paced fairly well, not moving very fast, but not dragging things out unnecessarily, either.  Naturally a movie like this has a message, which seems to be very strongly environmental.  Not so much "save the planet" so much as over-emphasizing the importance of trees and wild animals.  It also has something of a generic anti-military message, but then that tends to go hand in hand with the kind of friendly, romantic view of pirates this movie ended up having.  So basically it's everything you'd expect from a Miyazaki film, it's just that this was my first of his.

There really isn't all that much else to say about this movie, other than that it's worth a watch.  7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on September 18, 2014, 03:58:54 PM
I've seen quite a few of Miyazaki's movies and this one is no exception. Nature is one of his most common themes, usually in the form of man vs nature in some way.

As for this one, overall I liked it, but I think the common consensus is that it's hard not to like his movies even if it's a case of you like some more than others.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 19, 2014, 10:03:22 AM
Just wait until I get to some of his other movies.  :D
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 23, 2014, 10:12:26 AM
Charger Girl Juden-chan
(12 episode series)

This series ... wow, I don't know how I made it as far into the second episode as I did or why I even chose to put it on my list of anime to watch.  Oh, wait, I'm pretty sure the reason why was the fan service, and by fan service in this case I mean practically porn (the term is hentai, you uncultured swine! ;) ).  And by porn, I mean something for people even more perverted than I am.  As for what I mean by that, well, it's a big part of why I just couldn't keep watching.

Believe it or not, at first I found it kind of funny, in a "let's make fun of weird hentai" kinda way; I mean, they even showed bits of a stereotypical tentacle hentai that the main character, Plug, would catch at random points on TV in a manner that pretty much had me convinced they were making fun of this kind of thing, along with the "magical girl" genre.  Instead, it turned out worse.

I know Japan is somewhat disturbingly misogynistic, and this has shown itself in some of the stuff I've already watched, but this was just way over the top.  Basically, while normal humans can't see or touch the magical girls who fly around and cure people of depression by electrocuting them (yeah, that's really the premise of the series), the male lead can, and he usually reacts to them by getting pissed off and hitting them in the head with a baseball bat, the usual result being that they would then literally piss themselves.  This was played for laughs, and at the point I just had to turn it off, one of the invisible women he was doing this to was somehow developing an attraction to this man and actually stated that being beamed in the head by him actually felt good.

Now, a lot of people tend to confuse the fact that I like to drool over naked women means I'm some kind of troglodyte, but really I just love how great women tend to look nekkid.  That doesn't mean I don't respect women, and in fact that's why I just couldn't take this series anymore – because a man beating women until they pissed themselves was played as funny and sexy.

So to sum things up, I really wasn't expecting more than some animated nudity and some sex jokes, but even those low expectation managed to leave me coming away offended and feeling a little dirty for having watched as much as I did.  0/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 24, 2014, 12:18:16 PM
Chiko, Heiress of the Phantom Thief (aka The Daughter of Twenty Faces)
(22 episode series)

This was actually a pretty good series.  It wasn't quite what I initially thought it was going to be, and I have to say, I think it actually worked out better that way.

This series does have some of the standard clichés: a mysterious rogue, a young apprentice becoming a master, an evil plan being carried out by a mad scientist, etc, but it also tends to mix things up a bit.

At first, the series seemed to be a lot more about the Phantom Thief, who is a bit of a Robin Hood figure – stealing famous treasures and returning them to their rightful owners.  It's in doing this that he comes across Chiko, a young heiress whose aunt is plotting to kill her for her inheritance.  The Phantom Thief stealing her along with a famous ruby she happens to have just seems to be part of what the Phantom Thief is all about.  But he is a mysterious character, and really he's pretty much impossible to figure out.  We do learn bits about his past, which has something to do with the recently ended Second World War.  Some of his jobs have also involved the destruction of things he was apparently involved in developing, like an impossibly huge airplane found sunken at the bottom of the ocean.

So basically, it seems like this series is going to be about Chiko traveling along with and becoming a part of the Phantom Thief's gang, which is naturally more like a family than an actual gang.  The Phantom Thief even seemed to be setting her up to someday take his place.  That's just when the series changes things up and kills almost every single member of the Phantom Thief's gang.  There's a bit of a depressing transitional period, and then the real story starts to reveal itself, the pieces falling into place with each episode.

The pacing is fairly good, but I have to admit to a little disappointment with the large periods of time that are being skipped.  I do understand, though, that it might drag things out unnecessarily otherwise.  It's just that in the beginning, the series skips almost three years' worth of time Chiko spends with the Phantom Thief and the gang, effectively turning it into a montage of what will become the teenaged girl's memories when she returns to a more normal life.  Then, at the end of the series, it skips three years again.  Really the last episode is more of an epilogue than anything else.  I guess that means it was an okay last episode, but it was a little anti-climatic given what had just happened with a mad scientist's evil plan ripping a huge hole in Tokyo and all.

Which leads me to a few asides.  I have to admit, that I thought this series was going more of the alternate history route, even though it was obvious that the war that everyone was talking about having recently ended was WWII.  Thing is, there were a few airships that showed up, along with that impossibly huge tank and that impossibly huge airplane.  It all seemed so dieselpunk.  The technology associated with the mad scientist's plan seemed that way, too, and given the aforementioned hole being ripped into Tokyo, well everything seemed to be pointing toward an alternate history story set in something like the early 1950s.  Well, wrong again, they filled in the hole, built Tokyo Tower, and apparently forgot everything about what happened, along with the supposedly world famous Phantom Thief.  Then there was Chiko's role in the gang, which along with becoming an awesome buttkicker, she was also relegated to being the cook, maid, and seamstress of the gang by virtue of being female.  That's actually somewhat amusing considering that Chiko is a rich girl who has always had servants to do those kinds of things for her, yet she is somehow supposedly good at doing all of them and is happy to do them.  Oh, Japan... ;)  And while the Phantom Thief is made out by the show to be made of awesome, he's actually kind of a dick because of how he messes with the feelings of Chiko and his gang (what ended up being left of it).

I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who might be interested in a kind of mystery/adventure story. There's some comedy relief, too, but thankfully they didn't go over the top with it.  Over all this series was very well done, despite a few flaws as I noted, and a few nitpickier ones I didn't bother to bring up.  I hope that an English dub will be made for this series someday, as in spite of its quality, it has yet to be picked up by anyone.  9/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 25, 2014, 01:13:06 PM
Chobits
(26 episode series)

This series is every bit as stupid and pointless as one of my friends warned me it would be.  I have to admit though that I only even gave this one a chance because it looked like it could be funny and have some nice fan service, but the attempts at comedy just completely fell flat, or were done so much that it completely lost any comedy value something might have initially had. 

Jokes about internet porn and a retarded computer shaped like a teenaged girl imitating everything the main character does might be funny the first time (not that they really were), but when it's constantly done it becomes grating.  Probably the most amusement I garnered from this complete waste of time was that the main character was being voiced by the same actor who did Captain Tyler, in the same type of voice (the actor actually does have a bit of a range).  That's probably because the main character was supposed to be a simpleton, what with coming from the farm and all.

I could tell that this was supposed to be one of those cutesy romantic comedy type shows, but frankly the idea of romance with a computer is pervy, especially given that Chi (the computer) looked like jailbait.  Oh, Japan...   And just think, there were apparently 26 episodes of this crap, and from what I read they actually left it open for even more.  I could barely sit through 2.  I admit that I probably gave Ah!  My Goddess! more of a chance despite kind of being along the same vein, and maybe Chobits might have proven to have a few interesting mini-stories like Goddess did, but I just didn't see anything even remotely worth keeping me watching.  At least Goddess had a few moments and characters like the Motor Club to keep me amused, but Chobits had nothing, nothing.  0/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 27, 2014, 10:07:58 AM
Chrome Shelled Regios
(24 episode series)

Yet another post-apocalyptic series with an environmental message.  There are even giant bugs in this one, too.  In fact, if there had been giant mecha, well let's just say I would have been a little more amused.  Really though, I was pretty much just bored out of my mind with what I watched out of this series.  It was very stereotypical in the kind of characters there were and the kind of fighting there was.

Basically, the world is a desert wasteland, and humans are getting by living in giant domed cities that can actually slowly cruise around in order to avoid the giant bugs, and so they can fight one another over dwindling resources.  Oh, and there are special academic cities, since apparently none of the other normal cities are big enough to just have a university in them.  One of the special rules of the cities fighting is that the university cities can only attack one another since they have so many military arts students, and the fights themselves are more like games of capture the flag, but with real weapons and real casualties.   And while there are some guns, mostly they fight with weird weapons that morph from just a handle into a sword, whip, staff, or some other kind of weapon.  Plus there's magic they can use to fight and do the physically impossible with.  It comes off like a fighting game, really.

So while some people might be into the kind of stuff this series has to offer, I really wasn't.  About the only thing I might have found interesting would be character drama, but there just wasn't enough in the first couple of episodes to make me even want to start watching the third episode.  There was a little potential there, but mostly it was focused on setting the male lead character up with about 3-4 female characters, including the captain of his platoon.  0/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 28, 2014, 10:48:12 AM
Claymore
(26 episode series)

So, we have a show set in a medieval fantasy world, following a beautiful female knight wielding a giant sword that she uses to kill demons.  Sounds kind of awesome, right?  Well, that's what I thought, but really it wasn't quite what I was hoping.  It really came off as basically any other anime involving a sword wielder, though usually the sword is a katana.  In other words, this series was nothing really new or special.  It wasn't really bad, but it wasn't that good, either.

As far as the story went, most of it has to do with these demon creatures, yoma, which have a craving for human innards.  They are pretty nasty creatures, often hiding out by eating the brain of a victim for their knowledge and memories (not sure how that works, exactly) and then shape-shifting into that victim's appearance in order to imitate them.  They're basically impossible for normal humans to beat.  The answer seems to be from a mysterious organization with no name: create human/yoma hybrids by implanting the flesh and blood from yoma corpses into a human's body.  Oh, by the way, they only use women because men don't last as long.  Seems the long term result of this is that the new warriors will eventually lose their human side over to their yoma side, and as it turns out having your body morph into a monster feels like having an orgasm, or something, so men don't last as long.  Hah, long elaborate sex joke. -_-

I was sort of hoping the show would do something interesting with the yoma, but aside from a little bit in the very beginning of the series, they were pretty stereotypical enemies.  While mysterious origins can be interesting, the show never really even went there, and while it might have added some depth to them by having the victims who the yoma are imitating survive and come through some times, like I said, that only ever turned up briefly in the first episode.  A little more interesting were the "awakened beings", which were really just Claymores who have lost control to their yoma halves.  Mostly, though, the yoma simply served as something for Clare, the title Claymore whose adventures we follow, and her other fellow Claymores to hack apart.

What the story ended up being, though, was a pretty basic story of revenge.  Clare had a pretty messed up childhood, which we did get to see part of, and someone important to her was killed.  Naturally the shadowy organization isn't exactly made up of "good guys", and it's made clear that they didn't create Claymore warriors to wipe out the yoma and in doing so preserving humanity, but rather for profit.  And while it is very difficult to produce warriors like Clare, the organization is perfectly fine using them as expendable assets.

The show also dabbles a bit in romance and romantic drama, or rather tries to.  Raki is a teenaged boy who is exiled from his village because of some suspicion that he might become a yoma because his entire family was killed by one, which then imitated Raki's older brother until Clare killed it.  He's also a whiny loser, who constantly cries like a little kid.  And, despite being a little weakling even by human standards, he has it in his head that he can somehow protect Clare in return for her saving his life (which at the time was only incidental to her job at his village).  Still, somehow we are to believe that Clare develops romantic feelings for Raki.  I just never really got into it, despite part of me kind of wanting to.  I know it was probably an attempt at reversing gender roles, because Clare was strong, able, and relatively stoic, while Raki was weak, practically useless (though a good cook, apparently), and constantly cried and whined.  I've seen other attempts at doing this kind of thing that actually mostly pulled it off, primarily because they didn't turn the guy into a pathetic whiny loser and weakling in the process.

Anyway, I wouldn't say that this series is completely uninteresting – I did watch all of it, after all – but there really isn't anything particularly interesting that might help this series stand out or make it different from any other hack and slash anime.  7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 29, 2014, 11:23:22 AM
Space Pirate Captain Herlock: The Endless Odyssey
(13 episode OVA)

This is actually a fairly complex story, and it was worth the time to watch it.  There was some oddball philosophy to go along with it, not to mention some serious male stereotyping and the usual romantic vision of pirates, but for the most part the story this OVA told was interesting.

The story starts on a trash heap planet, which people live on despite it being a trash heap.  A scientist type has a rebelling son, Tadashi, who is heading down the path to his own destruction.  Like father, like son, as it turned out.  Naturally, Tadashi ends up joining the mysterious Captain Herlock after the death of his scientist father.  He's basically the odd man out, as things aboard the ship, Arcadia, are not what he expects.  Yet somehow through this, he becomes a man, or so everyone in the OVA insists.

One thing I really liked here was the complexity of the characters.  There were some definite stereotypes, but there was also at least one exception.  There was one character who, for all intents looked to be the next Hitler, turning the "space sheriff's" department he is a high ranking officer of into the space Gestapo.  Later this character seems to realize the error of his ways, and even comes to respect his enemy, Captain Herlock.

The subject matter was surprisingly serious considering the seemingly cartoonish nature of the visual design.  Most of the characters looked kind of like monkeys, and then there were things like a prison satellite being connected by a chain to an artificial planet (the stereotypical ball at the end of a chain), or that the Arcadia had an old galleon style stern and wooden wheel, and sprouted a big knife in its bow for ramming attacks.

As for the story itself, well it's kind of reminiscent of Babylon 5's Shadow story arc – a scientific expedition is entirely wiped out save one person after coming in contact with a mysterious and ancient evil that has remained hidden for a long time.  That's about where the similarities end.  Basically it goes overboard on the whole demons and hell theme.

Actually, one of the things I really didn't care for was how invincible Herlock was.  I know he's supposed to be the one we're all rooting for, but he literally was impossible to beat, which made him something of a Gary Stu in my opinion.  I guess you could say the same about his ship, the Arcadia, which was also basically impossible to beat, and could even run without a crew.  It wasn't enough to ruin the show, but it did kind of annoy me a little.  Then there’s the unresolved cliffhanger ending.  Talk about a Kobayashi Maru.

Anyway, I'd say this OVA is definitely worth a watch, and I'm actually interested in seeing the original version of this now, if nothing else to see if the same kooky philosophy of some ancient evil force being responsible for all the evil in the world and even for the spiral shape of galaxies (instead of gravity, and ignoring all the other types of galaxies) is also present in it.  7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on October 01, 2014, 01:42:20 PM
Cosmo Warrior Zero
(13 +2 episode OVA)

In some ways I'm still trying to decide what to make of this OVA as I write this.  It's mostly a fairly typical space opera, espousing the principles of getting along with one another despite differences, living by a code of strong principles, and so on – everything one would expect from something of this genre.  It was also mostly fluff, with a lot of comedy relief; too much comedy relief to really be taken seriously.  The thing is, the series tended to bounce back and forth between having a serious storyline with some actual drama and being a comedy that happily makes fun of space operas.  So that's why I'm having some trouble making up my mind about this OVA.

It doesn't help things that Crispin Freeman is playing the lead role as Captain Warrius Zero, because for those who don't know, he also played the title character in The Irresponsible Captain Tylor, which pretty much was just entirely about making fun of space operas.  It also took place on a crappy old space ship and was crewed by a bunch of misfits who had to learn how to work together as a team.  Then again, Crispin Freeman wasn't using his buffoon voice for Captain Zero like he was for Captain Tyler, so there's yet another thing that only adds to the question of if this series was supposed to be taken all that seriously or not.  I'm leaning toward "not," though.

That's actually a little disappointing, because there were some elements about this series that could have made for a pretty good, seriously played science fiction story.  The background of this story is that cylo- I mean "machine men" have just gotten done kicking humanity's ass, but rather than wiping humanity out completely, they stopped and agreed to a tenuous peace treaty.  This treaty is then put at risk when the pirate Captain Harlock (now called rather than Herlock) and his green ship Deathshadow (rather than Arcadia though it looks about the same) start attacking ships, stations and colonies of machine men.  That could make for something pretty interesting, especially given how dedicated Captain Zero is to treating machine men as friends and equals worthy of his protection even though his entire family was killed by them during the war.  And that doesn't even matter if the machine men were aliens, originally created by humans as a slave race, or as in this OVA, humans who have somehow become machines and given up their humanity for various reasons of their own.  But, this show doesn't really go there, and what it basically amounts to is a grudge match between Zero and Harlock, though the two of them apparently decide that they respect one another.  As an aside, I have to say that casting Steven Blum of Spike Spiegel fame as Captain Harlock was very fitting.

In any case, there is the typical big bad who is behind the scenes plotting some evil scheme, which as it turns out doesn't make much sense when he could have just used brute force all along, given his uber-ship's capabilities and how he just ends up doing that anyway.  The show tries to change things up by adding a villain who is apparently supposed to be worse, but nothing ever comes of it.

And then there's the "special," which basically adds two more episodes to the OVA.  Most of the characters from the rest of the series aren't present, and Harlock and Zero both insist on fighting despite Zero already learning that his assignment to hunt Harlock down was a sham and that Harlock had been in the right all along.  It's like everything leading up to and culminating in the reveal of the evil secret plan at the end of the series proper never happened.  It's mostly played for laughs, and the tone set in the special was definitely lighter than the rest of the OVA.

Oh, veering off the track for a bit, I have to say that I can't understand at all why so many shows like this insist on doing a romantic pairing with the captain and the first officer of a ship.  Fraternization regulations aside, it just really irks me that there are rarely any shows that show a male and female in these roles simply being friends and maintaining their professional relationship.  It's like there's this expectation that men and women can't be adults and work together like grown-ups, and I find that ludicrous.

Don't get me wrong, this was an okay show, maybe worth a watch if you aren't looking for anything that's really serious.  It's definitely not the kind of show Endless Odyssey was, which was way more philosophical and serious.  It definitely had its moments, both positive and negative.  Trying to decide which it had more of is a little difficult, but I don't think I can really rank this higher than a 6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on October 02, 2014, 12:16:14 AM
Coyote Ragtime Show
(12 episode OVA)

This was actually a pretty good anime; fun to watch, with a good pace, entertaining storyline, and interesting characters.  This show reminded me a lot of Firefly, or at least aspects of it did - a sci-fi action following a small ship and its crew of misfits looking for the next big payoff.  In other ways, it reminded me of Chiko, both in how there was one under-aged girl traveling around with a band of thieves and acting as their cook (you know, since she's a girl), and in how she was a protégé of the master thief.

This show wasn't good in the normal sense –it wasn't some deep, thoughtful drama or anything- but what it had was a lot of over the top action and never bothered to take itself all that seriously.  Basically this is the kind of show you'd want to watch for some mindless entertainment.  There is a lot going on, and it's one wild ride, but while it would have been easy for this show to get bogged down with politics or some other kind of message, that was mostly averted.  There was some, but it wasn't as in your face as in other animes I've seen, and it thankfully wasn't the focus or even integral to the story.

Otherwise, this show has a lot to enjoy and laugh at, like say the killer androids that look like cutesy anime girls dressed in Victorian goth style clothing, laughing gleefully as they slaughter people by the dozen.  There's also plenty to keep gun geeks entertained, as the people who made this probably crammed as many as they thought possible into this short series.

There's also a certain romanticism of piracy present in this show, which is what the name "coyote" is supposed to be standing in for, given the context.  That makes it a little more amusing considering the people who are actually called coyotes tend to be pretty bad people.  The pirate theme is still played through pretty thoroughly, including a scene in a pirate-themed bar, with pirate music playing in the background before the big bar fight breaks out.  Then there were the bad guys, who looked like more modern versions of the soldiers in Jin-Roh, yet somehow made me still think of the faceless Cobra mooks from G.I. Joe.  Despite absurdities being present, it was pretty much all acknowledged in a kind of tongue-in-cheek manner and played for laughs from what I could tell.

About the only things I didn't much care for was the female inspector, Angelica, constantly chasing the coyote simply referred to as "Mister," the protagonist of the show.  She did add a little to the show, but naturally she ended up being played as secretly being in love with the over-the-top pirate.  She also was played as a voracious eater, which I guess is supposed to be funny, but really wasn't.  Also not funny was her partner, Chelsea, who while supposedly being a police officer, was actually so stupid she couldn't read much above a grade-schooler's level.  Monica Rial's moé voice tended to get to me, too.

Those are the only real down-sides to this show, and it was mostly just fun.  I'm definitely adding this to my list of favorites.  8/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on October 07, 2014, 09:39:41 AM
Cromartie High School
(26 episode series)

It isn't very often that I get to finish an entire series in a single day, even if it's one of my days off.  Of course it helps when each episode is only about 10 minutes long.

I'm not really sure how to describe this series, other than that it goes out of its way to be as over the top as possible, and that it's both hilarious and awesome because of it.  A lot of shows will make fun of themselves or other shows like them, so in that way this series isn't any different with them, but it's still pretty good.  It touches on a lot of subjects, including the anime fandom, the manga vs. anime argument(s), and stupid things like getting into arguments on the internet.  There are also times the show actually gets thoughtful and discusses things somewhat seriously, usually to comedic effect.  In a way, it's kind of like South Park ... but not really, that's just the closest comparison I can make.

Other than that, I can't really describe why this show is awesome and hilarious, so I suggest you watch it for yourself if you want to know why.  I'm going to give this an A/Z.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on October 14, 2014, 11:18:03 AM
Cybersix
(12 episode series)

This was actually more like 12 episodes of disappointment.  I'd read some things about this series that made it sound promising (you mean you can't believe everything you read on the internet?), and the opening sequence even made it look like it was in the same vein as Batman, only with a cybernetic chick in a stripperiffic costume.  Even the first episode made it look more interesting than that, because the "hero" of the show was actually going around hunting the bad guy's Frankenstein-looking henchmen so she could feed on them (sort of) in order to survive.  So really there was potential there for a kind of anti-hero who wasn't fighting crime, but was instead only incidentally foiling the plans of the bad guy through her interference.  Unfortunately all of this potential for awesomeness vanished before the first episode was even over, and it quickly became apparent that this show was aimed at an even younger age group than Batman: The Animated Series.  Oh, sure, there's some humor derived from that, given that the Cybersix is basically a Clark Kent, only instead of just glasses, she also brushes her hair slightly differently, and dresses up like a nerdy high school literature teacher (though the high school looks more like a stereotypical university).  There's also the humorously stereotypical way some Japanese characters were drawn, especially as this series was animated by a Japanese company.  Yes, there are those things, but it wasn't enough to make me overcome the boredom I felt watching this series, and since most of the humor is the type you would find in an American Saturday morning cartoon aimed at the kiddies.  If anything this show is actually slightly bad instead of just staying safely within "meh" territory.  If anything, the more mature elements that were apparently left in from the source comic book series seem to be more like artifacts from that source, or maybe a parental bonus at best.  Not really worth it to watch, and frankly, I'm surprised I put up with it for the six episodes I did watch.  2/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on October 14, 2014, 02:29:52 PM
Huh. Can't win 'em all I guess. The only thing that put me off, watched it back in the day, was the animation style, and even then only slightly.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on October 15, 2014, 03:15:04 AM
Cyborg 009: Legend of the Super Galaxy
(1980 movie)

You know all those stereotypes about anime and sci-fi (especially the two mixed together) everyone loves to make fun of?  This movie has pretty much all of them: a horribly bad English dub with laughable dialog, a retardedly stupid plot that's just full of holes, characters that know everything despite just encountering something or someone, or leaping to conclusions that happen to be right, and a really dated appearance and soundtrack.

Speaking of appearance, it was made by the same people who made 009-1, so it has about the same character design, which is a bit cartoonish and looks like something from the '70s.  Of course in this case it pretty much was from the '70s.

As for the plot, well, some big bad wants to conquer the universe, and it's up to our plucky group of cyborgs and their alien friend to stop him.  Along the way, a lot of time is made for the cyborgs to angst about being war machines despite wanting to live peaceful lives, and other such clumsy attempts at drama.  Oh, and one of the cyborgs is an infant who can levitate, talk, and has telepathy.

As you can tell by my lack of any real effort on this review, I don't really want to waste much time writing it, which should tell you that you don't want to waste time watching this movie.  It might be good to watch to make fun of, and it would probably be improved with a Rifftrax, but other than that, it pretty much just sucks.  0/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on October 16, 2014, 10:20:58 AM
Cyborg 009: The Cyborg Soldier
(51 episode series)

Probably the most notable thing about this series is that it does a fairly decent job of blending the old '70s character designs with a more modern visual direction.  A "darker and edgier" reboot, I'm afraid I don't have any real basis for comparison other than the 1980 movie I reviewed not that long ago.  Compared to that, there is quite a bit of difference, first and foremost that there aren't any aliens or secret evil plans to conquer the entire universe.  Instead, a secret evil mercenary group plots to keep the world at war with itself so it can make money and because it just gets off on that kind of thing.  The big bad of this series also bears a striking resemblance to Darth Vader, albeit actually somewhat more comical in appearance (almost friendly-looking, if it wasn't for the ruthless killing part).  As I tried to watch this, giving it the requisite 3 episodes to sort itself out, I couldn't help but feel that this series was aimed at a younger age group due to the abundance of some rather immature humor.

I tried to get into this series, I guess because I was hoping that it was at least as good as 009-1 or Casshern Sins, but while those series weren't much above okay, they did have something to keep me just interested enough to keep watching.  This series, however, lacked any real draw that I could get into.  I might not have been as quick to give up on it if it had been shorter, but I'm just not willing to sit through 50+ episodes that might all be just as boring as the first 3 episodes.  So I guess I'll pass on this one, but throw it a bone for at least trying to do something: 1/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on October 17, 2014, 09:15:25 AM
Dante's Inferno
(2010 movie)

This was a fairly good movie with a coherent if basic plot, considering that it was made using quite a few different animation studios.  I've seen this kind of work before with Halo Legends and Gotham Knight, but this is the first time I've seen all of the different segments edited together as one story – the others were collections of shorts each animation studio produced.  So this movie is impressive in that way.

Story-wise, it was a pretty basic premise of a crusading knight going quite literally to hell in order to save the soul of the woman he loved.  So basically it was a visually impressive hack n' slash, without much depth.  Famous names were dropped and ancient Greek myths were shoe-horned into the Christian view of hell.  Yeah, you could say I was a bit turned off by the viewpoint being presented.  The movie did try to make up for this by pointing out that the Crusaders were a bunch of hypocrites, and that the holier-than-thou protagonist was one of the worst sinners in hell, but it was still selling a viewpoint on religion I just really can't agree with.

As for the characters, the fall-back to a lack of a story, well, not much depth here either, but I didn't really expect that much from an action-oriented movie that's based on a video game.  There were some occasional tales of woe and attempts at drama, but I didn't really get into it.

Don't get me wrong, though, I'm not coming down all that hard on this movie.  I didn't like it, but I didn't exactly dislike it either.  Confused?  Well, I like it as a kind of guilty pleasure, because it's full of action-packed ass-kicking.  It might be worth a watch if blood and gore and the like aren't going to upset you, because this movie seems to go out of its way to gross you out.  But if you want some mindless action and don't expect much out of this movie, I'd say go for it.  4/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on October 18, 2014, 10:43:09 PM
Daphne in the Brilliant Blue
(26 episode series)

It was clear from the title sequence that this series was pretty much just about fan service.  Basically it's a lot like Burn Up Excess – a group of women fighting crime for money while wearing as little as possible.  There's even a loud mouth, violent, lazy blonde who's perpetually in debt.  That might mean I'd actually like it, except that it actually tends to be a bit boring to watch, and what comedy there is just isn't really all that funny.  I'm a little surprised to say this, but for all the fan service, I just don't find much interesting about this series, at least not enough to watch the whole series.  Hell, I was getting so bored watching this series, I started doing some other writing as I let it play in the background.

At first I thought it might be something akin to a space opera, only underwater with the elite ocean agency the main character was trying to get into in the first episode.  But as it turned out it was basically just another girl cop show like every other one I've seen.  By now I guess I'm just bored with them.  3/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on October 19, 2014, 09:58:20 PM
Dead Leaves
(2004 movie)

As I write this, I'm still trying to figure out just what the hell it is that I watched.  No, really, I have no idea.  Considering what I've come to expect from Production I.G, the visual direction was very abstract, and well, I really don't understand what the plot was supposed to be about.  Basically it has the same kind of gross-out humor as Super Jail (and vague memories of Cool World), with the kind of "what the frak am I watching?" style of FLCL's storytelling.  I think the movie was poking fun, but I'm not sure what at exactly.  There are guns and explosions, a hot chick, a dude with a TV for a head, and a guy with a giant drill penis all trapped in a prison in the tattered remains of the moon.  I really don't know how else to explain the movie.  I mean, honestly, as messed up and confusing as it was, FLCL still made more sense than this movie.  Don't get me wrong, it does have a kind of appeal, as in something to laugh hysterically at that doesn't make any real sense.  I bet watching it drunk would be even more fun.  In any case, I can't really rate this movie higher than a 4/10, even if I did find it kind of enjoyable to watch.  The soundtrack is also pretty fun in its own right.  I'm just not sure what to make of what it was I experienced.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on October 21, 2014, 12:47:09 PM
DearS
(13 episode series)

You know, it's hard at times to separate crap that I just can't get into, and crap that I can.  On the surface, this series was pretty much like Chobits or Ah! My Goddess, but whereas I hated Chobits and was barely able to keep watching Goddess, I actually liked DearS, just probably not the way one was expected to.

Don't get me wrong, there's plenty on the shit list, like the whole slavery fetish, and the female protagonist/love interest being back of the short bus special, and it did annoy the hell out of me, but there was way more for me to laugh at.  The humor written into it could have its moments, but really, what I was laughing at most of the time was all the stereotypical stuff I like to make fun of about anime.  I mean, there was even a catgirl who constantly said "nyah".  You know, the kind of stuff you would probably just think was weird if you didn't know anything at all about anime.  There's just so much there, I was cracking up quite a bit.  Hell, they even threw in a couple of stereotypical "cool dudes" with the lamest come-ons and innuendos I've ever heard just for fun.

Of course they also threw in weird kinky S&M sex tidbits, and some of that even involved minors, and that was just so very wrong.  And I never got into the whole romance plot either, even though that's basically what the whole plot was, played for laughs with the usual "shy, nerdy dude has hot chick foisted on him" stuff that's in basically every show like this.  And hey, if you’re into that kind of thing, here you go.  But even if you aren't, then there's plenty here to make fun of without being bored out of you mind while you wait for it.  4/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on October 22, 2014, 08:31:23 AM
Demon Fighter Kocho
(Single episode OVA)

Since this OVA is pretty much all about the fan service, I wasn't expecting a whole lot out of it, and that's pretty much what I got.  The story is told mostly from Kosaku's perspective, a young, male college student.  There is a teaser opener that plays out like pretty much every teen slasher movie you've ever seen, where a young promiscuous couple end up having bad things happen to them.  We're told right afterwards that they're in the hospital and weren't actually killed, but we never see them again so it's not like it really matters.

The whole rest of the story is mostly devoted to seeing Kocho naked so both Kosaku and the old man acting as their Astrology club advisor/teacher can drool over her (and subsequently get beat up by her).  Just to make that angle even more fun, even though it's really obvious that Kosaku and Kocho want to hook up and the nutty professor just wants to watch, Kocho's sister shows up and literally throws herself at Kosaku.  The "love triangle" bit of Kocho and her sister competing for Kosaku was obviously meant to be funny, but mostly it came off as the tiresome teenaged male fantasy that it was.  Not that seeing animated boobs and camel toe doesn't just brighten up my day or anything, but the humor pretty much fell flat.  Probably the only thing that got much of a chuckle out of me was when the professor had a magical girl transformation scene, complete with a black dot to cover his bits.

Oh, there was also a plot going on that had something to do with the ghosts of some young master (who turns out to be really young) and his servants haunting the community college this OVA takes place at.  Kocho kicks one of them in the nuts, they swing some katanas around, and that's about it.

While anybody who knows me knows that I don't mind fan service at all, or a show not having much of a plot as long as it's funny, I have to admit that this OVA was kind of ... "meh".  It was okay-ish, and that's about all I can sum it up as.  Burn-Up W and GoldenBoy were both a lot more entertaining and had a lot more laughs despite not having much of a plot and consisting almost entirely of fan service.  Demon Fighter Kocho just lacked jokes that worked very well, or characters that I could really like, even as a lovable buffoon.  I'll throw it a bone though for trying and give it a 3/10.  It didn't completely suck, but I wouldn't really recommend it to anyone.  I guess if you do want to bother watching it, it only wastes about a half-hour of your time, so that's something.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on October 22, 2014, 12:26:45 PM
Hellsing Ultimate

Hellsing Ultimate is a 10 part OVA (each part is an hour long) about an England based vampire hunting group called the Hellsing Organization.  Their top agent, Alucard (English voiced by Crispin Freeman), is also a vampire, the most powerful vampire ever apparently.  As you can expect from the whole vampire hunting thing, this show is very violent.  In fact, this has to be most messed up anime I've ever watched.  Its definitely the goriest and most violent one.  On the other hand while its super violent its also got all that quirky anime humor in between the violence and story exposition (example below).  Which for me takes me out of the show. 

For the example of the quirky humor, part 5's teaser is all one big gag.  It starts off with Alucard having a messed up dream where the "spirit of his gun" (who looks like a bad charactiture of Bruce Willis) blathers on about a bunch of stuff, then makes a bunch of references to Bruce Willis movies (including Die Hard, Pulp Fiction, The 5th Element, The 6th Sense) before getting shot and then a whole bunch of other random movie references (none of which I got) fly by before the title screen gets shown and the story starts.  The creators had to have been on something when they made this...

While its got a lot of action for the action junkies, it does have a few points against it...
1) The annoying quirky humor.
2) The over the top gore.
3) The big bads are Nazi vampires.
    [Seriously, the villain is an ex-SS Major who's built an army of Nazi vampires (complete with Zeppelins armed with V1 rockets and
    other WWII era gear) and decides to start a war with the entire world for shits and giggles.  That's right, he really likes war, so
    he's going to start one with a vampire army.]
4) Not really a point against it, but something that bugs me.  There's a rival vampire hunter organization called Iscariot that's controlled by the Vatican, and they really don't like Hellsing because Iscariot was chosen by God and all that crap and Hellsing are a bunch of dirty Protestants.

So in summary, if you can get over the gore, "humor", and Nazi vampires this is a decent watch.  Although I won't be able to see the last half of it if anytime soon if DishNetwork doesn't get Cartoon Network back (bastards!).
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on October 23, 2014, 09:38:03 AM
Detroit Metal City
(12 episode OVA)

I guess this could be called Japan's answer to Metalocalypse, mostly because it deals with an insanely popular death metal band that has a legion of obsessive fans.  Of course while Deathklok from Metalocalypse lives the kind of far out "metal" life that the manager of the title band Detroit Metal City wishes its members would live both on and off the stage. they aren't very "metal" at all off stage.  The thing is, only the drummer is like that, with both the bassist and the lead guitarist/singer being more or less normal.  But then the Death Records President judges how good songs/movies/concerts/whatever are based on how wet they make her, so there you have it.

Oddly enough, with a character like that, there isn't really all that much in way of fan service (fan dis-service if anything).  The focus of the series actually is on a male protagonist, Soichi Negishi, a somewhat meek character who you would never take to be the very metal band member Johannes Krauser II.  Negishi claims to only be doing it for the money and at a few points actually threatens to quit the band, but really he's just too good at being Krauser.  Actually, a lot of the humor is derived from the fact that things tend either work out to make it look like he's being very much in character even when he isn't trying to be, or how he'll get caught up in the moment and instead just slip into being Krauser, usually when he's trying to woo a girl he knows from his days in high school.

Of course the idea of a death metal band living very normal lives that are nothing at all like their band personas while their fans insist on living as "metal" of lifestyles as possible is entertaining as it is.  This also separates it from Metalocalypse, which is pretty much just played straight.  It's actually a bit unfortunate that there couldn't be a bit of a crossover there somehow, but the closest it gets is in the form of Jack ill Dark, a death metal artist from the United States whose "metal" lifestyle turns out to actually be true, unlike the members of DMC, who have all made up stories to go with their death metal characters. 

I've read that all of this is actually based somewhat on KISS or is at least a tribute to it, which can kind of be seen in the form of the makeup and costumes of the DMC band members.

This is definitely a fun little series, and I'd definitely suggest it to you if you like Metalocalyse, because it is very much in the same vein.  I'm not actually sure what to rate this, since it doesn't really fit into any of the normal categories I tend to rate things by.  The characters are fun and the series is fun, and that's mainly what matters, so I guess I'll give it a 8/10.  If you're wondering why it's not higher, there were still a few times that it felt like things were dragging, and the jokes involving Negishi telling his love interest that he wanted to rape her and/or kill her got a bit old after a while.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on October 24, 2014, 09:33:30 AM
Devil Lady
(26 episode series)

I can't say that I really cared for this series all that much.  For as much fan service as there was (combined with lesbianism), I still frequently found myself bored while trying to watch this series.  And while it was supposed to be a horror series, I can't say that it really ever got particularly scary or creepy, at least not in my opinion.

The series follows a Japanese supermodel, Jun Fudo, who as it turns out is a monster.  The basic premise of the series is that humans are evolving into these strange beast-like creatures (simply referred to as "beasts") who have a tendency to kill humans in horrible ways that usually involve dismemberment and/or eating them.  Some of them seem to be able to go between looking like a monster and looking like a normal human, and Jun happens to be one of those, who can also keep her mind intact while in her "beast" form.

Now, turning into monsters would put most people off just by itself, but seeing as most of them tend to kill any humans they can find, it's not hard to understand why Japan has reacted to this problem by having the military and a special police force blow them away as soon as one reveals itself to them.  That doesn't stop the series from repeatedly sermonizing that this is somehow wrong and humans are just evil bastards.  Mostly this comes after they've turned on Jun, though they claim that she is the traitor.  Kind of like the other beasts accuse her of being since she's being used to kill them by this special police force and the psycho lesbian/tranny in charge of it, Lan Asuka.  I found that amusing, too, because she only ever killed any of these beasts after they tried their best to kill her first.

Pretty much what the series turned into was a very formulaic format where Asuka would say some pretty mean things to Jun, Jun would cry, some monster would appear and kill a bunch of people, Jun would be forced to fight it, the monster would make some attempt at being a sympathetic character, and Jun would either be forced to kill it or someone else would finish off the monster for her.  Either way she'd end up being lectured, and Kazumi Takiura, the young girl she saved from a bunch of other beasts who killed her family, would mope about Jun never being around to sleep with –I mean spend time with, and some creepy little boy monster would threaten to kill Jun and Kazumi.  When every episode of your series can pretty much be summed up the same way, I'm sorry, but your series kind of sucks.

Now there was a kind of ongoing evil secret plan involving Asuka in the background, but it never really came out much until towards the end and we see that Asuka is pretty much exactly what you could tell she was from the first episode.  I guess there is the odd gender switch that never really got explained (Asuka started out as a man and then somehow became a woman), but that doesn't really count as much of a twist or surprise.

There's also some US-bashing, but in the end that turns out to be more amusing than anything.

Now I know some people may like this, but really the whole monsters fighting each other every week thing doesn't really appeal to me.  It ends up getting so boring that I end up fast-forwarding through a lot of it, which is exactly what happens here.  In fact the only reason I didn't just stop watching was the fan service, so this review owes most of its length to me being a pervy bastard who likes seeing animated breasts and girl on girl action.  In this case the girl on girl action wasn't as nice though, because most of it ended up being rape.  Yay.  1/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on October 26, 2014, 07:12:20 PM
Divergence Eve
(13 episode series)

This series started things off by doing something that really annoys me – it started at what was actually pretty much the end of the story and then jumped back to what was superficially supposed to be the start of it.  That style of storytelling has been done so many times that it just grates on me whenever I see it.  This isn't helped by the fact that while suddenly finding myself immersed in the midst of what's going on is supposed to make me interested, in this case it just left me wondering what the hell was going on.

Even as the story went back to what was basically the beginning and I learned more, the series still tended to be kind of hard to follow.  I could tell that it was trying to mess with my head and trying to be something in the vein of 2001, but no, sorry, didn't work.  While I did find some of the aspects of the conspiracy developing in the background interesting, the plot constantly skipping around just tended to ruin my enjoyment of what little there was to enjoy, at least of the story, anyway.  Not a lot in the story made sense. 

For instance the existence of the massive station, Watcher's Nest made a kind of sense as it was vital to Earth's faster-than-light flight capabilities.  But when the 10 million civilians who are there because of overpopulation on Earth, the point tends to be lost somewhat since if overpopulation is a problem, why are all these civilians on the station and not colonizing a new planet?  Since the station is under constant attack, there aren't a lot of ships coming from earth bringing even more people, but the need for keeping those attacks secret from the civilians was entirely based on the fear that they would all want to head back to Earth, which is overcrowded. 

Which brings me to my next example.  One of the four female pilots the story focuses on decides she's no longer up to the task she finds herself facing, so she apparently has to have the last two years of her memory erased in order to keep the big secret of the attacks.  Why so much when she hasn't been there that long is never explained, especially since while this pilot may have washed out in this "elite" area she was training for, she still would have theoretically had promise as a regular officer or even as a regular pilot who didn't have to kill monsters from another dimension for a living.  Well as it turns out, they didn't just erase two years of her memory, they erased all of it and reprogrammed her to be some random janitor on the station.  There is never any explanation as to why, and the matter is never even discussed after it is brought up.

Of course, I wasn't expecting all that much out of this series to begin with.  Pretty much the only reason I watched this series was the fan service.  In this case pretty much all of the women had massive breasts, with the type of exaggerated physics you'd expect to go along with that, and there was even some occasional nudity.  Actually maybe a bit more than occasional.  From what I've read, this apparently caused some butthurt from a lot of people.  I can't say that I had a problem with any of the fan service, but then I usually actually like fan service.  When it comes to shows like this, I pretty much like to make fun of it.  You see the same kind of focus on breast size in a lot of other sci-fis, like the last two Star Trek series, which both featured large-breasted women in skintight "uniforms".  I've criticized Star Trek for that, but I guess when it comes to most generic sci fi or action movies I just recognize it for what it is and laugh at it.  Go figure.

Anyway, I guess if you like seeing large animated breasts that move around a lot more than they should in a generic sci-fi atmosphere, this is definitely the series for you.  Anyone looking for something exciting or the least bit serious, don't even bother.  3/10 (1 for story and 2 for breasts, get it? ;) ).
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on October 27, 2014, 10:30:46 AM
Divergence Eve: Misaki Chronicles
(13 episode series)

The sequel to Divergence Eve was actually a little more interesting than the original, probably because there was more focus on the plot and characters.  Oh, the fan service was still there to enjoy, though it was toned down a bit.  Instead of showing the main characters naked at every opportunity it was only almost every opportunity. ;)

The plot this time wasn't the mixed up jumbled heap that the first series had, or at least it wasn't as mixed up and jumbled.  This is in spite of a story that revolved almost entirely around time travel and the concept of multiple parallel universes.  Which is to say that at times it still didn't make all that much sense, since at the bottom of it all was that the title character, Misaki, was trying to get back to her friends.  Mostly the point of all the time travel seems to be to tug at the audience's heart strings a little, but since I don't have many of those left it didn't really work for me.

Since this series picks up right where the last one left off, the same evil secret plot is there in the background, only this time it revolves entirely around the main bad guy, Jean-Luc LeBlanc.  I still don’t really get this character, who apparently has gone through a lot of convoluted planning and effort to destroy the universe because he hates science ("Of course!" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8u7px_GzWQ)).  There's a revelation about his creation and his relationship to the rather odd female scientist Prim Snowlight (who also happens to have a huge rack).  It doesn't really make all that much sense to me, particularly in light of his position of power aboard Watcher's Nest that allowed him to carefully plan and carry out his evil secret plan.

As for the characters, well, I hate to say it but I never really found any of them all that interesting.  I suppose I could find some of them somewhat sympathetic, though mainly that would be Misaki because she's been trapped in the weird alternate universe/time, and Suzanna, who's had her memory rather unjustly erased.  The thing with the later case, which I mentioned in my previous review, is that it is never really addressed beyond trying to tug at our heartstrings of how horrible it has to be for the busty British chick to have had the last two years of her life erased and false memories implanted in their place. But never once are the ethics of it discussed, and one of the people who was involved in it, Lyar Von Ertiana, never talks about it with Suzanna, much less apologizes for it, even if for the supposed necessity of it, and she's basically become the de facto protagonist of this series since Misaki is trapped in time.  Actually having Suzanna participate at all in the important mission that takes up the last half of the series really doesn't make sense, because while Suzanna does recover some of her memory along the way, for all intents and purposes all of her military training has been erased and she's now just a janitor.  A janitor who knows how to fly a spaceship and a mobile armored suit, apparently.

Overall, Misaki Chronicles was an improvement on Divergence Eve, even if it wasn't much of one.  I'd say that the same conditions apply to this series as with the original if you want to enjoy it, mainly that you aren’t expecting all that much out of it.  As this series continues right where the last one left off from, it might be a little difficult to skip the first series and dive right into this one, but there is a little flashback/explanation, so it might be possible.  4/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on October 28, 2014, 10:54:54 AM
Dominion Tank Police
(4 episode OVA)

For a while there, I wasn't entirely sure what age group this OVA was aimed at.  The only thing that was clear was that this was meant to be a comedy romp.  Initially I thought that this was meant for kids due to the immaturity of the humor and just the way the voice actors were treating it, not to mention how the tank squad commander freaked out when the tank squad had been assigned a "gooyal".  Then again there were things like the twin cat girls doing a strip show to distract the police (and it working), giant inflatable penis and ball sack mines, the occasional cuss word, all the fan service, and just all the lame sex jokes in general.  Then again there wasn't much cussing, no actual nudity (unless it was artwork) and no one actually died (on screen), so I suppose this actually could've originally been aimed at kids in Japan.

Okay, I suppose I should pause a bit to actually introduce this OVA properly.  Really it's just a basic dystopian future sci-fi, which looks like it was inspired quite a bit by Blade Runner.  It's set in a city with very organic-looking skyscrapers that is being shrouded by a poisonous bacterial cloud that forces everyone to wear respirators if they go outside (except as it turns out humanity has had to deal with it for long enough that the masks aren't really needed anymore).  There are also androids, though it doesn't appear that they only get to live 4 years or that there is any restriction against them living on Earth.  The reason there is a tank squad within the police force is that there has simply been so much escalation from the criminal element that it was a controversial way to give the police a definitive advantage.  Of course they seem to cause a lot of damage no matter where they go, including tearing up the road the way a real tank with tracks would ... except these are tanks of the future that roll around on big plastic-looking balls.

Cool, so a bunch of police cruising around town in tanks.  Sounds awesome, right? The only problem is that this is an over-the-top comedy and not an over-the-top action piece like Black Lagoon.  Admittedly, over-the-top action is usually funny, too, but in a different way that doesn't involve giant penis mines (usually).  There's also the guy who talks like a medieval monk they all call "chaplain".  Why'd I make a point of bringing him up?  Because he's annoying and not funny, at all.  Actually I'd say that most of the humor fails, either being too immature (coming from a pretty immature guy), or being just plain unfunny.  Example: apparently it's supposed to be funny for the police to torture criminals and to mock violating their civil rights to whoever wrote this.  They even had Leona Ozaki, the resident "gooyal" dress up in a bunny suit to turn it into a kind of game show for the tank squad on one occasion.  Personally, I wasn't amused.

As an aside, I have to admit to some pleasant surprise that Leona was actually dressed the same way as all the male officers (usually), as opposed to the typical stripperiffic "uniforms" that seem to be standard issue in sci-fi in general, let alone in future cop shows like this.  Kind of ironic, too, seeing as some of those are actually supposed to be taken seriously, and this show was completely fluff.  Of course Leona is still treated like the stereotypical klutzy, initially semi-cowardly, eventually extra gung-ho woman one tends to find in anime comedy cop shows like this, so I suppose it kind of balances out.

Anyway, back to the story, it seems that there's some kind of evil secret plan involving urine and Greenpeace, which sounds hilarious, except that it's about creating a green-haired fairy chick, whose significance is left unknown by the end of the OVA.  So basically there isn't a lot of plot, except something secretive about the poisoned atmosphere and their fairy chick.

I'd say that this OVA was decent enough.  I honestly don't mind mindless fluff on occasion, though in this case it still wasn't particularly good, it just wasn't horrible.  6/10.

Oh, did I mention that it had a catchy intro theme (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sVEevB7oRk)?
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on October 28, 2014, 02:31:02 PM
I've seen this one at least once many moons ago. I thought it was fun. And yes, that tune is on a short list of ones that I know it when I hear it. ;D
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on October 29, 2014, 09:36:10 AM
New Dominion Tank Police
(6 episode OVA)

This OVA seems to follow the same basic continuity as the first OVA, though it seems to skip over an awful lot.  At first I actually thought that this was just a rehash in the same style as the Burn-Up franchise, where each new incarnation has its own separate continuity even if they are all based on the same source material.  I thought this because while the story still took place in the same alien-looking city and both the characters and the tanks looked pretty much the same, there were some slight differences in appearance and characterization.  For instance, the android cat girl twins from the first OVA weren't nearly as criminally minded, to the point that they were appalled at the suggestion that they might have killed someone, not to mention that they worked a lot with the police.  That's pretty much the opposite of how they were in the first OVA.  The poisonous atmosphere also doesn't seem to be as much of an issue, and the storyline with the fat criminal and the green-haired fairy girl from the first OVA seemed to have been dropped.  Doing a little reading, though, it turns out that the first OVA was a prequel to the original manga and that this OVA was a sequel to it.  That's a little different from most anime I've seen, which is usually just a direct adaptation of its source.  Mostly, though, I'm a little disappointed because it seems like a lot went on that I missed out on, such as the resolution of the Greenpeace plot started in the first OVA.  Yeah, I could just read the manga, but when it comes to movies and TV shows, I shouldn't really have to read something else separately in order to understand everything that's going on.

Moving on, this OVA seems to be at least somewhat more mature, and it's definitely more serious in tone.  There is a much more obvious evil secret plan going on from pretty much the beginning of the OVA, and really overall this OVA comes off more like a typical "buddy cop" show.  That's not to say that there isn't still plenty of fluff, but the change in tone is pretty apparent.  Speaking of a change in tone, I have to say that I kind of missed the theme song they came up with for the first OVA, which was a lot catchier than the generic guitar riff theme they came up with for this one.

Anyway, what was once just mindless fluff turned fairly serious, unfortunately.  While the end goal of the evil secret plan was never really made all that clear, what was made clear was that corporations, especially corporations that make guns, are evil.  So, basically the storyline got ruined by the injection of contemporary politics, using the same basic plot and clichés of movies like this that have been being put out since at least the '80s.  The whole issue with guns was apparently so important that no one bothered to give the evil corporation an end goal for any of its actions beyond making guns and "expanding."  The mayor of the fictional city this all takes place in was also given what amounts to presidential power, as she was somehow able to get a bill passed banning the private sale and production of firearms, which would be kind of pointless if the ban was only for within the city limits, which is as far as an actual city law would go.  Of course there's a police tank squad in this city, so it's not like this OVA was really going for realism.

So basically this OVA was a bit worse than the first one.  The serious subject matter really dragged it down for me, so I'm going to have to rate this a 4/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on November 01, 2014, 11:53:44 AM
Tank SWAT 01
(single episode OVA)

This OVA seems to be unrelated to the others, aside from sharing some of the same characters.  Having read about it, it seems to have a connection to what is essentially a reboot of the Tank Police story.  Leona and the twin cat girl Puma sisters are still there, as is the little tank Bonaparte, but here Bonaparte isn't unique and things aren't quite as wild or exaggerated as the other OVAs, at least not in the same way.  Instead, this comes off as a pretty typical future police show that at least tries to take itself seriously.  I say tries, because at one point there was a fat android using a golf club against the police the same way Sauron used his mace against the men and elves at the beginning of Lord of the Rings.

The visual style has been significantly changed, not only bringing things up to date from the old '80s style the other OVAs had, but by using computer animation.  Basically it looks along the lines of the more recent Appleseed movie (not the sequel), with computer models and texturing meant to give it an animated look.  Here it doesn't really look very good, probably because they just didn't have the kind of budget Appleseed probably did.

As for the plot, well, there isn't much of one.  There seems to be something involving discs that contain the identities of everyone in Japan on them that some evil corporation stole, and the police are sent in to retrieve them.  There are some other AI controlled tanks they have to fight and the android somehow sets up a bomb that manages to wrap itself around the neck of the cop who is carrying the discs.  Most of the "drama" is derived from whether the android is lying about disarming the bomb or not in exchange for the discs.  You can probably guess how this turns out, which is to say that this isn't an angsty show with a downer ending.  We never do learn anything of significance, like what company is actually behind all this, or to what end.

As for the characters, this is only one short OVA, and most of it is focused on action, so there isn't much of a chance for any of them to develop past whatever cliché they happen to fit into.  One of the more annoying ones was the female cop who had the bomb around her neck, mostly because of how completely useless and pathetic she was.  I know some might argue that having a bomb wrapped around her neck might've made her that way, but I just didn't get that feeling from what I saw as I was watching this.

I almost feel like it was a complete waste of time watching this OVA, mostly because not a whole lot happens in its 25 minute length, and there don't appear to be any kind of continuations for it, at least not anything that isn't manga.  If you really want to see this as part of your Tank Police experience, well, it's there I guess.  Otherwise, it really isn't worth it to bother watching.  2/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on November 04, 2014, 12:05:10 AM
Dragon Half
(2 episode OVA)

Pretty much the entire premise of this OVA is to make fun of anime clichés, particularly those associated with the ones set in a medieval fantasy realm.  I haven't seen many of those, mostly because I just have no interest at all in that genre, so I might actually be missing out on more than what I caught.  Of course, there's plenty of other stuff to laugh at, including the portrayal of anime fangirls.  A stereotype to be sure, but definitely based on something, as I've had the misfortune of witnessing myself.  Of course that also makes this OVA a bit annoying, mostly because high-pitched squeals just have a way of annoying the hell out of me.

Visually, it's pretty average, or at least as average as low budget anime goes.  Actually one of the things about this OVA is that it bounces back and forth between a more typical visual design, and something more like a super deformed chibi style.  It was trying to be so cute that I wasn't sure if I wanted to vomit rainbows in disgust or just laugh at it.  Given the context of making fun of cutesy anime, I pretty much just decided to snicker a bit, though to be honest I probably would have anyway if it'd been played straight ... right before I turned it off and tried to forget about it.

Naturally, this OVA also makes fun of fan service, or maybe it just used it as an excuse to have some of its own.  It's probably a mix between the two, as there was a little lampshade hanging, but that doesn't stop it from throwing in some animated boobies at the very end.  I guess that's a perk of being an OVA instead of something aired on TV. ;)

There actually was a plot hidden in amongst all the fluff, but it really wasn't much of one.  What plot there actually is just parodies any anime where a female character has to go on some convoluted quest in order to change herself so she can be desirable to the object of her affection.  In this case, there's the kind of long-haired effeminate warrior type you've seen in every anime like this who kind of pulls double duty as a singer/star/celebrity.  He's supposed to be a dragon slayer, too, which I guess is supposed to be funny since the main protagonist, Mink, is the title half dragon who he is on a mission to slay.  There isn't much in way of plot resolution, though, as the OVA apparently stops short of finishing the manga it was based on.

The characters are actually kind of annoying, but then they're supposed to be.  All of them are based off of some stereotype that's showed up in pretty much every show like this and played for comedy.  The downside to that is that none of them are particularly interesting.  The brainless muscle character Damaramu was probably my favorite out of all of them, though I can't really explain exactly why.

This was a fairly fun OVA overall, and it is mostly just fluff.  It isn't the best parody anime I've seen by a long shot, but it isn't bad.  I wasn't bored either, and I did find myself chuckling from time to time.  I'm not sure if I'd recommend it or not, but if you do decide to watch it, just know going in that you can't expect a whole lot out of it.  6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on November 05, 2014, 11:25:19 AM
Eiken
(2 episode OVA)

I wasn't even sure if I should have bothered with this one, and I could see within about a minute or so that I'd made the wrong choice.  Being the glutton for punishment I sometimes am, I decided to finish watching the hour long OVA all the way through, mostly out of morbid curiosity.  I'd heard that this OVA was bad, and now I've seen for myself that it is.

I've read that this anime and the manga it's based on are fairly popular in Japan, which makes me giggle a little on the inside.  I also read that this was horribly panned in the US.  At first I was thinking that it might just be an overreaction to the obviously large amount of fan service.  Being a pervert, I thought maybe at the very least I'd get some laughs out of it.  I didn't.  About the only way this show is even remotely funny would be to take clips of it out of context and add some humorous music, you know, just like AMV Hell, where I first saw clips of this show.

This OVA tried really hard to be funny and sexy, but it failed at both.  The entire premise is built around boob jokes and panty shots, and while I know this is supposed to be a parody of fan service, it still manages to not be funny.  Hell, normally I might just say something along the lines of how a joke done constantly over and over again becomes unfunny, but in this case all the boob jokes and innuendo were never even funny to begin with.  As for sexy, same thing.  I'll admit right up front to actually liking most fan service, so theoretically I should like something full of it.  Of course, it might help if the women being flaunted were even remotely attractive.  In fact, I usually found myself grossed out a little.  There's not only the impossibly huge breast thing going on, there's also how most of the fan (dis)service also tended to pour out of their stockings and other clothing, rather like a marshmallow being squeezed out of the end of a smore.  You're welcome for that mental image, by the way. ;)  Disturbingly, I've seen this kind of thing at anime conventions before, when overweight women have cosplayed in costumes not unlike what were in this show.  And just to add to the grossness, the chick that wants the main character, Densuke Mifune, so bad that she literally throws herself at him and practically rapes him is his step-sister.  While technically not incest, this is still close enough, especially since she constantly refers to him as "brother."

Amazingly enough, there actually was a plot, only it was the stereotypical "guy must win competition to win girl" plot.  And the contest was just another excuse for even more fan service, often including the ridiculous, like a waterslide that uses chocolate pudding instead of water.  That was about the extent of the plot, though.  Pretty much this was just an hour's worth of seeing how many ways Densuke could feel up extremely busty school girls (and his teacher) and how embarrassing all that was supposed to be.  Basically situational comedy for pervs.

Needless to say, I recommend that you stay the hell away from this OVA.  Even if all you're looking for is fan service, you'd probably be better off just watching some porn.  If you think there might be some actual comedy to be had from this, there really isn't.  If you decide to watch this anyway, well, I warned you.  0/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on November 05, 2014, 03:37:27 PM
I believe JesuOtaku did an episode on this one and she came to pretty much the same conclusion as I recall.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on November 06, 2014, 02:22:00 AM
It's too bad she stopped doing video reviews.  :-\
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on November 06, 2014, 03:17:37 PM
I originally wrote a much more glowing review of this next one, but felt compelled to do a re-review after seeing it again more recently.  I'm not going to bother posting the original review since it no longer really reflects my feelings about this particular anime.

Elfen Lied  (The Review 2: Electric Boogaloo)
(14 episode series)

Okay, so I already reviewed this series a long time ago (which I won’t include in any new posting of my reviews), but having recently finished re-watching it, I felt the need to revisit it, mainly because my views on it have significantly changed.  This could be because the whole moé thing was still relatively new to me at the time I first watched this and thus it didn't grate on me as much, or it could be I was just more willing to put up with the negative aspects of this series.  Either way, I actually feel strongly enough about this series in the opposite way I initially did to take it off of my favorites list.  Just to make something clear here, too, this change of heart has nothing to do with the level of graphic nudity and violence ... well, not that much, but rather with how the story was executed.  If you happened to catch my original review, you'll find that I harp on basically the same things, but that I'm not as forgiving of them.

The series follows protagonist Kohta and his kissing cousin Yuka, though we only catch up to them shortly before they come across the mysterious naked woman from the memorable opening of the series, which features a full-frontal assault in every sense of that phrase.   They name her "Nyu" since that's the only word she can seem to say.  Naturally, they take this naked woman with obvious head trauma home with them instead of to the hospital, because anime.  So while I might be somewhat willing to overlook that if it had been written a little more believably, unfortunately this is just one of many brain farts the series makes as its story progresses.  But then this is a harem series, so I guess we can't expect that much out of it.  To be fair, it isn't as bad as some other harem series I've seen, and it at least has potential for a better story hidden in there with all the obnoxiously high voices and cute moé character designs.

When the series first starts with what is arguably the best scene of the series, the audience might be mislead into believing that Lucy, aka Nyu, might be the main character.  But since this show is aimed at the young male demographic, it's apparently assumed that the audience could only relate to Kohta.  Of course there's also the mystery aspect of Lucy's past and how it relates to Kohta, because the mother of all coincidences happens when he and his cousin come across her on the beach.  To be fair, this series did have plenty of good potential in it, and I think that's what I was focusing on when I first watched this series and reviewed it afterwards.  That and it is amusing to see cutesy little anime characters tear each other to pieces with invisible arms, but then I can actually find the humor in that because I’m a dark-humored bastard.

The main positive of the series is its basic underlying theme – nature or nurture.  Lucy belongs to a mutant species referred to as Diclonius, of which more and more are being born for some reason.  All of them have horns, though the men turn out bald for some reason that is never explained while the women get obnoxious pink hair.  Apparently this is all the better for them to kill humans by, because the female Diclonius seem to just love the hell out of killing people, though for some reason they won't harm animals.  And while they are sterile in the biological sense, they are still somehow able to reproduce through a virus that is somehow connected to the use of their invisible arms, which are referred to in the series as vectors.  We meet Lucy as she escapes from a secret research facility that is located on an island somewhere close to Kamakura, Japan.  There's a good dynamic between her character and Kurama, the director of the team tasked with isolating the Diclonius virus and finding a cure for it (or so his team thinks), though this could have been better.  The reason for this is explained later, in the OVA I count as just another of the episodes, since it takes place between episodes 10 and 11 anyway.  What I'm getting at, though, is that after Lucy takes a heavy blow to the head and develops the child-like Nyu personality, she isn't the bloodthirsty killer anymore, and given the horrors Lucy went through all of her life, it could be argued that the bloodthirsty killer aspect is brought on by nurture more than nature.  This is also the case with Nana, who remembers every bit of torture she's been put through, but seems to have formed a bond with Kurama and developed a much more balanced personality.  The series does argue this point back and forth, but while it could have been executed in a much better fashion, it's still the draw of the series for me.

The thing is, while I do see some good in the series, there is so much going against it.  This series had the makings for something much better with everything it had already set up: a secret research facility that has military connections conducting inhuman studies on girls and young women – that's Alien stuff right there.  But a lot of the motivations of the many different characters, protagonist and antagonist alike, just don’t make all that much sense.  There's also way too much focus on the moé and harem aspects of the series, which frankly gives it some really bad mood swings.  After all, it’s also filled to the brim with plenty of horrible things that either happened to the characters at some point in the past, or is happening to them during the course of the series, so it doesn't really jive with the whole moé thing.  That's actually the same problem Higurashi has, really, which is that had the mood been kept consistent, that would have made the series better almost by default.  In Elfen Lied's case, it makes it way too difficult for the series to be taken seriously, which isn't helped by the mediocre animation and the lack-luster dub given to it.  But really, the number one thing that this series should not have done, was to make Nyu so damn special.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/EL01.jpg)
Back of the short bus special.

When Nyu is first introduced, she has the mind of a child, and really she doesn't get much better over the course of the series.  Now if by chance you don't know what the whole moé thing is about, aside from setting the current generic anime look of impossibly huge eyes and a squeaky little voice, it was originally supposed to be all about engaging the "big brother" feelings in the male audience members (the assumed average viewer).  Unfortunately for way too many people, this also engaged their boners, which says something pretty nasty about them.  On the other hand, it handily explains why there are just as many nude scenes with prepubescent girls as there are with the more mature Lucy/Nyu and Nana, as well as why there's a love triangle between Kohta, Lucy, and his cousin Yuka.  And if you think that was bad, it seems to be suggested during flashbacks that Kohta's sister also had a thing for him and that both she and Yuka were jealous of each other over his affections.

As many messed up aspects to this series there are, though, I can't help but feel that a lot would have been improved had they simply given Lucy the standard clichéd amnesia.  It would have made a lot more of an impact against the nature vs. nurture theme a lot better, especially given Nana, who was the complete opposite of most of the other Diclonius.  Anything would have been better than making Lucy completely retarded.  Losing the moé crap and those other things I mentioned would have also made the series much better overall, but whoever made this seemed to be more interested in making a moé harem anime than in making a compelling story, so there you have it.

But at least it has a catchy theme song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkvGq9iqgmE).  ;)

Anyway, if gore and nudity isn't your thing, you definitely want to avoid this series.  It is very much a horror, with lots of blood and gore to go with its nudity and overdone moé.  And as I mentioned, this is hardly the only offensive thing about the series, but if you think you can put up with that, or if you just don't mind it for whatever reason, it might be worth seeing this series just to see what I was talking about.  It's better than Gantz, but only just barely.  5/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on November 08, 2014, 12:48:30 PM
Ergo Proxy
(23 episode series)

This is an amazingly well done series.  The artwork and soundtrack are beautiful, the story is intriguing, and the characters actually have some depth to them.

Technology as presented here is pretty interesting.  Everything is obviously pretty high tech, and yet it all has a kind of art deco look to it that seems to hearken back to the 1920s view of the future, actually kind of mixing modern and past visions of the future.  For instance, while there are androids (referred to as AutoReivs), they look nothing like the tin can versions or ridiculously human versions seen in other sci fi.  Instead, they manage to look both interesting and creepy, looking more or less human in shape, but with faces that look more like porcelain masks and bodies that seem to resemble canvas.  About the only exception to this are AutoReivs that resemble children, like Pino.

Taking place in a post-apocalyptic future, it seems that earth's environment has been devastated, ironically in an attempt to create a clean energy alternative.  Most of the story is focused around a domed city called Romdo, which could almost be a city from the TV movie adaptation of Brave New World.  People are grown in artificial wombs and programmed to serve a particular function within this artificial, dystopic city.  They're also constantly encouraged to spend and buy new things, while throwing out old things.  Outside the dome, people eek out an existence off of Romdo's scraps in the desolate landscape while dodging Romdo's many robotic patrols.  There were also obviously other domed cities at one point, but they are either empty of human inhabitants or destroyed.

This series has two protagonists who share the focus fairly evenly.  The first is a man named Vincent Law.  An immigrant from another failed city, he works as an AutoReiv disposal worker.  AutoReivs have started getting a computer virus that makes them become self-aware, and the disposal unit basically hunts these down and kills them.  Romdo is a very structured place, so people and Auto Reivs that don't fit into their pre-determined place in that society are basically just hunted down and killed.  Vincent, though, has something of a mystery surrounding him, and soon after we meet him he ends up being whisked away outside.

The other protagonist is Re-l Mayer, a police officer as best I can tell.  In some ways she reminds me a little of Rick Deckard, at least in some aspects.  She's investigating a series of murders perpetuated by infected AutoReivs when we meet her, along with her AutoReiv partner, Iggy.  She actually hates Romdo and its structured society, though this, at least in part, seems to be out of resentment for her grandfather, who runs the city.  Naturally life gets complicated for her soon after we meet her and she meets Vincent.  She develops a strange kind of obsession with him, especially after she first encounters what will come to be known as a Proxy.

While there is some sporadic action, if you’re looking for some kind of sci fi action piece here, you'll be disappointed.  Instead, the series focuses a lot more on the frame of mind of the protagonists as they are taken through the story.  Vincent has a mysterious past that he's determined to remember, and to do this he goes on a long journey into the devastated landscape he finds himself in.  Re-l catches up with him and ends up going with him on his journey, along with Pino, who is the only one to be there with him the whole way. 

Neither Vincent nor Re-l are perfect, either.  Thankfully the series doesn't go too over the top with their flaws, making them feel a bit more real.  For instance, Vincent is kind of a wuss, and he also is more than a little into Re-l, to the point he comes off as somewhat creepy.  Re-l, on the other hand, is pretty much a selfish bitch who at times can be very difficult to sympathize with.  But, like I said, at least they aren't too over the top.

The story could at times get a bit boring, but for the most part it was intriguing, and left me wanting to find out more.  The first few episodes in particular drew me in as everything was set up, and they tended to end as cliffhangers.  I'd say Ergo Proxy's biggest faults lie with what were basically just filler episodes.  Basically Vincent, Re-l, and Pino would come across another dome or habitation of some kind and one or two of them would have some kind of strange adventure.  These were somewhat mitigated by what self-discovery was made by the characters involved, and what little additional information we learned about Vincent and his past, as well as about the Proxies (incidentally related, to spoil you a little).  The worst offenders, though, were the episodes that broke the fourth wall just to give us some exposition.  The book store episode and the game show episode were especially bad that way.  And then there was the Disneyland episode, which was more about having Pino have something to do than anything that actually contributed to the story.  Basically, when the story was good, things were interesting and occasionally would tug at my heart strings, but when it was bad it was pretty much just boring and seemed more diversionary than anything.

I'm going to do something odd for me and not actually reveal all that much about the story.  Instead, I'm just going to encourage you to watch this series.  Some may not find it interesting, but if you're into more cerebral sci fi, you just might like this series.  9/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on November 10, 2014, 02:01:58 AM
Gurren Lagann
(27 episode series)

Yet another post-apocalyptic offering, this series is definitely more in the "over-the-top" category, much like Desert Punk.  Just as Desert Punk is set in a world that has been devastated and reduced to a desert due to some past cataclysm, depends heavily on over the top humor and action, and isn't really meant to be taken even a little bit seriously, so too is Gurren Lagann.  It does have its serious moments, mostly dealing with death, but I never much got into that, I guess, but then that was kind of how I felt about the series at times.

There are actually a lot of things about Gurren Lagann that I normally hate about anime, and actually caused me to stop watching this when it first aired on the Sci Fi Channel (now SyFy).  One is the heavy use of mechs.  It’s a staple of a lot of anime, about as much as samurai swords and magic-based attacks that require the attacker to loudly announce their attacks in elaborate manners, which this show also does.  So, like I said, I pretty much tuned out of this show when it first aired.  Based on the advice of my friends, I gave it another try, and it did fair slightly better with me this time, mostly because I realized the things I mentioned above were being done to be funny.  Part of me was still annoyed by it, but the other part was just laughing.

I'd have to say that the appeal of this show is pretty much summed up not long into the first episode: kicking logic to the curb and doing the impossible.  That's pretty much what the show does, and we even got a catchy theme song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VT6LFOIofRE) out of it.  With all the themes of fighting progressively impossible fights and coming out on top in the end, I can see why this show has caught on with quite a few people.  It's my understanding that in the UK, there was a poll on the possibility of updating the Union Jack, and the version that won was the addition of the Team Gurren symbol from this show.  I actually kind of like the idea myself, to the point of wanting my university to change its sporting name to Team Dai-Gurren, with the symbol as our new mascot.

Then, of course, there's the fan service.  Yoko definitely has to be the show's other big draw, what with constantly running around in nothing but a bikini top and short-shorts for the majority of the show.  She doesn't play as much of a role as I, personally, wish that she should have had.  Mostly she was in a supporting role, and had an unfortunate tendency to have a thing for guys who wind up dead.

Speaking of, I was somewhat surprised when a main character actually died, and only about a third or so into the show.  What made it surprising was that this character had been through a lot and lived earlier in the show.  But I find I actually liked this aspect of the series, not so much because it was used to occasionally pull at our heartstrings, but because it meant that the show actually did evolve a little, adding new characters and in this case losing at least one of them.  It was also used to allow another character to grow and develop.

That tended to get lost in how the show pretty much was just one progressively larger battle after the other.  What started out as a battle against one and then a few mecha, here called "gunmen" pretty much just turned into fighting larger and larger versions of these things.  At one point there were actually gunmen being used to pilot larger gunmen being used to pilot a gunmen that was literally the size of the moon (and even bigger after that).  I personally found that kind of boring, because it was becoming basically the same thing over and over again.  So really at its base, it's the humor driving this series.

Some people have complained about the ending, and I won't spoil it too much for you, but I can't say that I see it as a bad ending.  I've seen much worse, whether it's that a show simply ends without resolving anything, or that it very quickly and sloppily tries to resolve everything at the last minute (see Blue Gender for an example of that), that's more what I consider to be a bad ending.  In this case, the series ends on somewhat of a downer note, but only in the sense that the hero doesn't accept staying on as some great leader figure and seeks life as a wandering homeless man offering small bits of help to strangers while others rebuild the empire, so to speak.  I'd actually argue that this makes sense, because this character had tried to be the great leader once, and that didn't work out so great.

Which brings me to the one thing that I really disagree with this show about.  At one point there's what I would consider to be a major betrayal, with two of Team Dai-Gurren betraying their leader, conducting a coup, and going as far as sentencing their former friend and leader to death.  The show and the betrayed character instantly forgave them, much in the same way Battlestar Galactica did when Commander Adama carried out a coup against his president.  I never really understand when a show or the characters in it suggest that such betrayal should be forgiven, but then I don't take betrayal well.

Anyway, while I didn't like this show nearly as much as I did Desert Punk, it was still fairly good.  There isn't a whole lot to it, but with shows like this, there doesn't have to be.  The characters were likable, and it was funny.  It's worth a watch, if nothing else so you can see it and decide for yourself if you like it.  You might want to try sticking it out to at least episode 6.  6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on November 10, 2014, 03:02:34 AM
Another in my list of 'seen at least a few episodes of' shows. "Head tilting" would be putting it mildly.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on November 11, 2014, 01:48:20 PM
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Gurren-hen
(2008 movie)
&
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Lagann-hen
(2009 movie)

I'm grouping these two together, because really they're just one big compilation movie of the series.  Which is basically its biggest fault.  I have yet to see a compilation movie that does the series it's compressing into movie length much justice.  These two movies come close, but that has mainly to do with the extensive bits of reanimation and how the story has actually been rewritten in a number of areas.  However, it still suffers from the bane of compilation movies, and of just movies in general that try to shove a bunch of stuff into a small amount of time – montages.  The first movie in particular was guilty of this, having more than one in just the first half-hour of the movie.  I understand the motivation behind this – to speed things up – but here is where the rewrites do much better than montages.  So much is skipped over that later scenes don't entirely make sense, and in the montages themselves, you have to be familiar with the series to know the significance of what's being seen.

I guess that only really becomes a problem if you see the purpose of a compilation movie as telling the story of a popular series for movie audiences, thus sparing them the time it takes to watch a large number of episodes.  I guess it could also be seen as just an alternate take on the story, and given the large number of rewrites that happened to the basic Gurren Lagann story, there is definitely something to that viewpoint.  But that kind of goes back to the montages and how they brought the quality of the movie down.  Since there was already so much being changed to make everything fit into two movies, why not re-do the story a bit in the beginning to eliminate the need for montages?

As for the alternate take on the story of this series, I can't say that there was anything I either liked or disliked about how the story was changed.  In Blue Gender, the redone parts introduced some things that might have improved the series, even if the movie itself sucked.  In this case, there was nothing that really stood out that way to me.  But then, I was never all that attached or drawn in to the series, either, so someone who is especially attached to the series might feel differently.  I think of the two, though, I preferred the series, simply because while the series tended to have some filler, I just prefer the experience of the series making its way through the story to the experience of the movie rushing through it.  6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on November 12, 2014, 06:18:39 AM
Hellsing Ultimate

Update... It's an 8-part OVA, I must have misheard the commercials for it on Adult Swim...  Anywho...  Now that I've seen the whole thing (thanks to Hulu), It's definitely the most messed up anime I've ever watched because of what happens in Episode 7 (SPOILERS, and warning, it's really fucked up): During the invasion of the Hellsing Mansion one of the enemy vampires (Lt. Zorin) uses her mind screw powers to create illusory flashbacks of Seras' past.  One of the flashbacks is of her mother and father being murdered by thugs in front of her.  She grabs a fork off the floor and stabs one of the thugs in the eye.  Then she gets shot and the now one eyed thug decides as some weird form of revenge to rape the corpse of Seras' mother in front of her as she is bleeding out.  It's a really brief scene but its still hard to watch.

Also, the ending is a little bit disappointing as it leaves some threads hanging.  BIG SPOILERS For example, It ends with Father Anderson and Alucard's big duel even though the insane Major and some of his goons are still in a Zeppelin hovering over the burning city of London.  Still it's a fairly decent action romp.  Also it is an adaptation of a manga, and there's an earlier anime adaptation in the form of an (at least) 13 episode series, titled simply Hellsing (also on Hulu) {haven't watched it beyond the first episode}.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on November 12, 2014, 11:58:13 AM
Actually it does have 10 episodes total.   Not sure if the last two have been dubbed yet.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on November 12, 2014, 03:09:02 PM
Oh?  Well the last two aren't on Hulu in any form (or at least not on the free version).  They only have the 1st episode of the dubbed versions.  I watched the subtitled versions of episodes 6-8.  Well I guess that explains the loose threads...

Interestingly enough Adult Swim has pulled Hellsing Ultimate from its schedule for this Saturday, which suggests they don't have the dubbed versions of the last two episodes.  Seems weird to me to air a show that you don't have in its entirety...
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on November 13, 2014, 12:01:27 PM
Paprika
(2006 movie)

This was definitely an oddball of a movie.  But then since it involved technology intruding into dreams, I guess "weird" is to be expected.

Taking place in the near future, a scientific team has developed a device capable of monitoring and recording a patient's dream.  But it doesn't stop there, as apparently at least one psychologist can take on a dream persona and actually help people through their dreams.  Again, all well and good until the devices get stolen.  From that point on it becomes more of a "science gone mad" movie that I can't help but nit-pick the hell out of, mostly because of the improbability of what the movie ends up suggesting that technology, however new and amazing, can do.

At first it seemed more legitimate, in that some of the head doctors working on the project were losing control of their conscious mind over to a dream, because at this point it was suggested that it happened as a result of having been hooked up to the machine.  It still seems plausible there, but where it gets implausible and I lose my willing sense of disbelief is when the movie suggests this device, called the DC Mini, can somehow remotely enter peoples' minds and mess them up.  But wait, it gets worse, because later on in the movie, dreams have somehow manifested in the real world.  At first I thought this was simply a dream within a dream, but no, the movie tells us that dreams have in fact invaded reality.

The whole dream within a dream thing has been done a lot of times before, usually to either wax poetic about the nature of reality, or to philosophize about the nature of dreams vs. the nature of reality.  I'm sure this movie was still trying to do that, but I just didn't quite go along for the wild ride this time.  While it would still mess with a person's mind if they kept waking up only to find that they were still dreaming, having dreams somehow magically manifest in reality kind of ruins it.  Plus, as you can tell, I've really gotten hung up on this, because what started out as science fiction became fantasy.  The story about how a new technology could effect humanity, in this case through the abuse of a megalomaniac (who looks a lot like Patrick Stewart's Professor X), just got lost in a jumble of everyone's dream getting mixed together and marching through Tokyo despite there being no way a device made to have the human subconscious interact with a computer should be able to accomplish this.

Well, it wasn't a horrible movie or anything, it just wasn't very good.  My hang-up aside, there wasn't a whole lot that actually happened.  I mean, a fat guy got a hot chick (who happened to be his boss) and a cop got over a recurring nightmare, but that's about it.  Mostly this movie was just eye candy, showing us something weird and throwing in some fan service here and there for good measure.  There was no real depth, though, at least not that I could see.

Pretty much the same thing goes for the characters.  Pretty much all of them were bland, and we never really got to learn much about them, other than the shocker that the hot psychologist who is repulsed by the morbidly obese guy is actually in love with him.  Well, I guess that was supposed to be shocking, but really it just didn't make a lot of sense because of the part where she was openly disgusted by his appearance and his habits, as most people probably would be, brilliant scientist or not. 

Actually the most interesting character in this movie was the detective whose dream we start out in, Detective Konakawa Toshimi.  He's also about the only one who goes through any kind of growth, finally getting over his recurring nightmare and his completely unreasonable fear/hatred of movies.  And then there's the irony of how he ended up playing out the character he played in a student film, in which he played the part of a detective.  Well, the movie explains it a bit better than I do, but there's a connection to his dream and what's going on in his life during the movie.

Anyway, I actually ended up being a bit disappointed with this movie.  I was hoping for something that was a bit more straight-up sci-fi and got a flashy fantasy movie instead.  As I already said, that's not to say that it's bad, it's just not very good either.  I guess if you have a spare hour and a half this might be a good time-waster.  6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on November 15, 2014, 12:24:49 AM
The Silent Service
(Single episode OVA)

In some ways I could almost see this as a movie in the same vein as The Hunt for Red October, and to its credit, it shows submarine warfare fairly realistically.  I just can't get over the huge axe this OVA had to grind.  It's hugely obvious that whoever wrote this is not a fan of the United States and hates the fact that Japan is bound by treaty to limit itself militarily. 

Now I could go on a brief rant about how it's basically Japan's own fault for starting WWII in the Pacific, but that would be a waste of time.  One might argue that with all the time that's past (though this takes place in the late 1980s), that everyone should probably be over that and the treaty could probably go by the wayside, but this OVA fails completely to make that kind of an argument.  Instead it argues that the United States is completely made up of bastards who will violate the treaty with Japan at the drop of a hat and declare war on Japan over one submarine.  While it's certainly true that the US Government has a history of going back on its treaties (*cough*Black Hills*cough*), I doubt the treaty it has with Japan would be dropped so quickly, especially since the US has an interest in maintaining its bases there so it can deploy its military to anywhere in the world on short notice, and at the time this OVA was made, that was especially important given tensions with the Soviet Union.  And that's about as far as I'm going to get into that.

As far as the actual story goes, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  The thing starts out with an entire submarine crew faking its own death.  Why?  Well because there's a secret new submarine they have to crew, that's why.  How nice that the entire crew went along with it.  Of course it's pretty short-sighted since the crew will eventually have to resurface, since the whole point of this was that the US and Japan had jointly developed a nuclear attack submarine (basically an improved Los Angeles class) with the idea that it would become part of Japan's navy.  So unless they're planning on killing this entire crew, wouldn't it have just been easier to look like they were off on some secret mission on their original submarine instead of sinking it and faking the crew's deaths?  And I hate to say it, but the US would never develop a top-of-the-line submarine and then just hand it over to another country's crew, no matter how tight we are with said country.  But that's pretty much the only way this story can work, because without an uber-sub that can give its captain such a huge advantage over the sub-hunting capabilities of the US Navy to the point he can even show off while he's doing it, they would just get blown away and the story would have to be a lot different, if not just end.

Apparently whoever wrote this was a bit worried about losing the audience, though, since they didn't make this an act of the Japanese government.  Instead, the captain pulls a Marco Ramius and defects, only instead of to another country he declares the submarine an independent nation and says he has a nuclear weapon on board.  Again, how nice that the entire crew is with him on this.  Literally the only person on board to give him even intellectual opposition is the American observer/advisor who was on board with them when they decided to show the fact that they'd gone rogue by firing on some other American submarines.  The OVA also makes a show of having the Japanese government agonize over the idea of actually supporting this mutinous captain or not, despite the fact that the guy is as much a traitor to Japan as he is a backstabber to the US.  There is a lot of convoluted reasoning put forward to support this, and really this is helped along by having the US act completely unreasonable.  They even have the president declare war on Japan, even though he can't actually do that (only congress has that power), and the only warfare that's happening is between the US Pacific Fleet and the rogue submarine.  Oh, that and the JMDF ships that are stupid enough to try defending said rogue submarine. 

And that's where the story just sort of ends.  There's a subplot involving another Japanese captain who's always been a rival of the rogue captain, but that never ends up really going anywhere either.  This is probably because the manga this OVA was based on wasn't finished yet, and I'm going to guess that given the story content, no one felt like finishing this OVA series.  Can't say I blame them all that much.  1/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on November 18, 2014, 03:03:34 AM
Submarine 707R
(2 episode OVA)

I'm not really sure if I can make much sense out of this one.  It had a lot of action, but not a whole lot of substance, I'm afraid.  That actually isn't necessarily a bad thing, but in this case it isn't really a good thing, either.

The best I can figure, the bad guy, Admiral Red, is going around blowing everyone out of the water because he's convinced humanity is polluting and exploiting the oceans.  The blowing people up part then doesn't make a lot of sense because, as he even admits himself, he is helping to pollute the oceans with all the junk from the ships he's blowing up.  He also calls a secret underwater base home, despite thinking humans shouldn't be out in the ocean, so maybe I just missed something there...  Or maybe not.  Who knows?  The only permanent residents there that I could tell were Red's wife and 4 daughters, who I'm convinced are only there in the hopes that we'll actually feel some kind of sympathy when the inevitable happens.

This anime definitely doesn't try to be very realistic, what with the odd-shaped submarines and the city-sized aircraft carriers that can also submerge, but really the best part is the tiny 707, which is way bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.  So who is driving this thing? Captain Hayami, who's fat and also has a wife and daughter.  Actually the best part is how Admiral Red is able to take out entire fleets of high-tech ships and submarines sent after him, but the rickety old 707 is able to not only take on his high-tech UX submarine, but actually sink him and all the subs he'd recruited to help him.

Okay, so it's not "realistic", what about the story and the characters?  Well, it tries.  It tries to make us like Captain Hayami and his family.  It tries to make us like the trio of young cadets that joins the crew (including one that wears a dog collar and often a leash with it).  It tries to make us feel some sympathy for Admiral Red and his family, instead of just seeing him as batshit insane.  It tries to hide the fact that its story is practically non-existent.  It tries.

Okay, but is it fun?  Well, sort of.  I have to admit that I liked some of the ship designs, even if they weren't particularly hydrodynamic.  I also have to admit that it managed to be a little fun, but at the same time it also tended to get tedious.  Even if this had just been a space show it felt like it wanted to be, I doubt it would have been all that much fun or interesting.

Overall, while this was a little interesting to watch early on, mainly because of the action, by the time the second episode started it actually had gotten a little stale.  Introducing us to the families of the protagonist and the antagonist didn't really do anything story-wise either, so it probably would've been better if they'd been left out or just barely mentioned.  It tried, but I just couldn't get into it.  3/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on November 20, 2014, 01:11:25 AM
Tide-Line Blue
(13 episode series)

This was a thoroughly enjoyable series to watch, balancing action and a coherent plot that kept me interested enough to watch the next episode.  Now, it has a fairly familiar storyline in that most of Earth's surface has been flooded, making most everything take place on or under the ocean, but in this case it's caused by some unknown ecological disaster rather than a madman.  While it may have been caused by some kind of "science gone wrong" experiment, no one knows and as far as the plot is concerned, it doesn't matter.  Here the conflict is mainly between the New United Nations and the submarine USS Ulysses, commanded by a rogue, former US Navy Captain.  While they both agree that what's left of the world needs to be united if humanity is to regain anything of its former level of civilization, Aoi, the secretary general of the New United Nations, thinks that this can be accomplished through diplomacy, and Gould, the disillusioned captain of Ulysses thinks the only way to bring peace to the world is through military force.

Naturally, the anime doesn't really focus much on these characters, and instead focuses on a teen-aged boy named Keel, who wants to hook up with a girl who's already knocked up, named Isla.  Both of them are lucky enough to live on an island that just happened to be were a massive nuclear-powered aircraft carrier washed up, so they have basically limitless power.  Of course this carrier is also the meeting place of the New United Nations, and Gould has gotten to the point that he actually attacks the NUN at one of its meetings.  Being the gentleman he is, he sends his adjutant to formally declare war first.  As it turns out this is Teen, twin brother of Keel.

The island is devastated by the Ulysses's attack, forcing most of the inhabitants to evacuate because it looks like the carrier's reactor might melt down and spew radiation everywhere. Naturally this is when Isla goes into labor and hijinks ensue when Teen shows up to help a clueless Keel deliver the baby.  He also gives Keel his badge and lets him know about the ride he'd planned to take out of there, back to his ship.  Teen is then captured, and Keel with Isla and baby in tow make it to the ride, which turns out to be a mini-sub from the Ulysses.

The series then divides its attention between Teen and Keel, two brothers separated when their evacuation from a space station goes wrong.  The space station was supposed to have a pretty mundane mission originally, which I guess is why there's an entire family on it.  When the "Eden's Hammer" disaster happens, the space station is damaged and will eventually fall out of orbit, so the father decides to stay on board to complete the new, important mission of mapping Earth's new surface, oceans, and remaining resources, while the mother and twin brothers are evacuated to the surface.  Apparently things don't go well and as far as Keel knows, his mother and brother are both killed.  As it turned out, only the mother was killed, and Teen was rescued by Gould at about the same time he took on a young girl about the same age.

There is some interesting character development and interaction while everything goes on, but mostly it's a kind of coming of age story for Keel.  No one really stays the same, though.  Naturally there's a lot of focus on action, but this doesn't drag down the story, which manages to keep a fairly consistent plot going.  It even manages to depict submarine and anti-submarine warfare fairly realistically for an anime.  Probably the only place it goes overboard is with the comedy, which really only does so because of the inclusion of an ostrich which is only there for comedy relief, and somehow gets dragged along everywhere.  Some of the characters even complain about it, yet they keep dragging it with them everywhere, so it just ends up being one big unfunny joke.  Other than that, this was a pretty good series.  They even made the bad guy fairly sympathetic, though I think they might have been going a bit far with how everything just kind of works out in the end.

I would definitely recommend this series, and in fact I'm adding it to my list at the beginning of the thread.  9/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on November 24, 2014, 02:43:21 PM
Hellsing (2001 Anime, 13 episodes)
This earlier series was developed around the same time as the original manga, and from what I've read the series outpaced the development of the manga so it eventually diverged from its source.  Hellsing Ultimate apparently more closely follows the manga.  Anyway, the story starts off the same and there are several scenes which are almost the same; however, this time around there are no Nazis.  While Hellsing is still adults only, it's not as messed up.  Especially in the gore factor, as all the undead disintegrate into dust rather than leaving a bloody mess.

Overall, there are some things about this earlier version than the newer OVA.  For one, we actually get to see some of the Hellsing Organization's human soldiers (in a capacity other than cannon fodder).  There's also a little more focus on character development.  For me a nice thing was that the Iscariots where less prominently featured, (Father Anderson only got two major appearances and a quick scene while Enrico Maxwell (the head of Iscariot) only got one scene).  It also lacks the annoying humor/deformed animation in the actual episodes.  It's only present during the "previews", which are in quotes because these "previews" tell you nothing about the next episode and serve only to have annoying humor and deformed animation.  One other difference that I liked is in one episode the Hellsing Manor is attacked by couple of vampires with an army of ghouls.  In this version they drive a bus through the manor's gate while in the OVA they shoot a hole in the brick wall surrounding the manor with submachineguns.  I like the bus crash better as it seems more plausible.  However, it does appear a little dated and the story has some loose threads hanging.  Also both series have the same English voice cast, and even though I only saw two episodes dubbed, you could tell the actors got better in the time between the two shows (especially Seras' English voice actor).

I don't know if I would recommend this one over the OVA, but it might be easier to get the entire Hellsing series as Hulu doesn't have the last two episodes of Hellsing Ultimate, although you might be able to find them elsewhere.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on November 25, 2014, 04:12:10 AM
Yukikaze
(5 episode OVA)

This is one of the better shows I've watched.  While it's superficially about humans fighting it out with aliens and flying cool airplanes that aren't very aerodynamic, it also touches on a few other things that are actually somewhat contemporary. 

The most obvious one is how this conflict is treated on the home front.  Initially, when a mysterious portal forms in Antarctica and some aliens (eventually called the JAM) randomly attack an Antarctic research base, people all over the world are shocked and the world rises up to respond against this new threat.  The UN manages to pull together and coordinate a military response that successfully pushes the alien invaders back through their portal.  A special military force is then assembled to take the fight to the other side of the portal, in order to keep the aliens from ever making it back to Earth, or so the story goes (and yeah, it's obvious where they were going with that, too).  But after the war moves to the other side of the portal and is no longer obviously visible, people start pretending that the war never even existed, to the point that when an author writes a book about the ongoing war, it's popular and sells a lot of copies, because everyone says it's a well thought out science fiction novel.  When some pilots from the other side of the portal briefly reappear on Earth, they're treated somewhat coldly by the naval force gathered to keep an eye on the portal, even though these pilots just saved a lot of their asses.  In other words no one wants the conflict to be there anymore, so much so that they pretend it doesn't exist, and they shun any reminders that it does.  Fortunately at least some of them manage to pull their heads out of their asses, but by then the JAM are stepping things up.

The other contemporary issue touched on is the introduction of AI controlled combat aircraft.  Not everyone is sold on the idea, and in fact the weaknesses of AI-controlled aircraft are shown quite often.  However, the series focuses on the idea of a pilot and an AI developing a kind of bond that makes the both of them together practically unbeatable.  The suggestion seems to be that we shouldn't be afraid of technology, but rather than make it do everything itself, we should develop a kind of symbiotic relationship with it.

For me, though, the interesting part was the conflict with the JAM.  They were tough to beat as it was, but during the part of the conflict that the OVA covers, they've developed some new strategies which made things a bit more interesting.  Basically this involved the same old cliché of "conquered from within," because as we find out, the JAM have figured out how to imitate humans and their aircraft.  This is also the point where things tend to get a bit confusing, because not only is it hard to find out who may have been replaced with an alien, but the show seems to skip around a bit and it almost feels like I missed something at a few points.  In one instance it appears that the main character, Lt. Fukai, his friend, Maj. Bukhar, and the fighter they're flying in (Yukikaze) have been replaced by copies, since they are attacked and it appears beaten ... except they weren't, apparently.

There's plenty of action, and it's all quite visually interesting.  They even managed not to go completely overboard with things like having impossible missile barrages ... at least until the end.  The mad dash back to the portal so all the remaining humans can escape and close the portal behind them is naturally the biggest battle, but this is also where things tend to go way over the top, at least as far as the attacking JAM forces.  Mostly this comes from the fact that the writers have essentially set the JAM up so that they are impossible to beat, because they have millions of these tiny aircraft that can literally swarm the human aircraft and rip them to shreds.  Yet somehow the humans win, spontaneously developing some new laser weapons, just because, apparently.  I'd say the ending is somewhat unsatisfying because of that, and because the short epilogue doesn't really do justice to the massive battle, it just sort of ends and wraps everything up quickly without telling us much.

As for the characters, none of them really stood out that much.  Lt. Fukai and his plane, Yukikaze, are both stereotypically "mysterious".  At points both of them come out a little, the plane even admitting to being afraid a couple of times, but for the most part they are stoic, pragmatic, and do pretty much whatever they want while getting away with all of it because they are just so awesome at killing aliens.  Hell, they even figure out that the JAM are replacing humans for everyone so the plan we see come into fruition at the end of the OVA can be developed.  Major Bukhar is supposed to be a kind of buddy commander to Fukai, I think, but they tend to go over the top with him.  At one point he's actually pretty pathetic.  It actually made me wonder if the two of them were intentionally written to come off as a couple, or if it was just supposed to be bromance.  Anyway, it was just hard to like him at all because he tended to either be a whiny loser or a prick.  Pretty much all the other characters were just kind of weird and until the end kind of hard to figure out.

Probably the most interesting "character" was the JAM.  Their nature and purpose was always shrouded in mystery, and while the human characters made some guesses about them, the JAM are simply left as being the mysterious creatures (or creature) that they (or it) are.  The idea that the entire planet and all of the JAM were in fact one single entity was especially intriguing to me, as was the idea that the war was just its way of studying humanity and testing itself.

Overall it's pretty fair to say that I was fairly impressed by this OVA.  It's not perfect by any means, but it's still pretty good and I'd definitely recommend it.  8/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on December 03, 2014, 11:46:39 AM
Zipang
(26 episode series)

This series was both good and frustrating, frustrating mostly because of how it ended.

The story revolves around a modern Aegis destroyer named Mirai, which gets sucked back in time to just after the Battle of Midway.  While in an American show the natural impulse would probably be to have the futuristic ship and crew get into the action (Final Countdown comes to mind), here they decide to try to keep as far away from everything that they can because they're afraid not only of any unforeseen consequences to the timeline, but also of the implications of picking a side.  Displaced from their own time, they have no allies, not even the Japanese, because as it is constantly pointed out, they aren't like the Imperial Japanese of this era. Unfortunately for them, they find themselves getting more and more drawn into the war thanks to finding and rescuing an Imperial Japanese officer, and they end up getting involved in some very big ways.

If you're thinking that this will be an epic adventure with awesome action scenes, well, prepare to be disappointed.  This series definitely comes down on the cerebral side of things, making even the action scenes full of dialog, whether it's to agonize about having to kill in order to survive, or to philosophize about the future and politics.  This isn't all bad, and in fact I found most of it to be quite interesting.  The problem is that they went so far with it that it made the action scenes stale and drawn out.

The series tends to focus on the Mirai's first officer, Lt. Comm. Kadomatsu, and the Imperial Officer he rescues from a crashed seas plane, Lt. Comm. Kusaka.  Basically the crew decides to let Kusaka read through the ship's library to find out what he's in for, but as it turns out Kusaka is a pretty slick individual who ends up basically stabbing them in the back, though it's not entirely clear that this is what he intended.  Kusaka is probably the most interesting and the most frustrating character of the series in that it's pretty hard to figure him out.  Toward the end of the series he makes it clearer what his actual ambitions are, but things involving him tend to stay somewhat ambiguous. 

I have to say that I also found the politics and discussion about time travel and its possible consequences pretty interesting, too.  While I wish that there had been a bit more about how the Mirai managed to travel back in time and how they might get back, the series never really went there, focusing instead on the philosophy of time travel and how one might manage to inadvertently cause themselves to never have been born.  Their agonizing over even the smallest bit of interference from them might cause them to fade out of existence like Marty McFly is thrown for a loop though toward the end of the series, when a crew member's father is run over and killed as a child.  By the end of the series, though, the crew has pretty much decided that they are stuck in the past and are just trying to stay as far away from everybody as possible, for fear that the Mirai will be taken from them and used in the war.  There's actually quite a bit of complexity that goes into making that decision, but it would make this review a lot longer if I tried to explain it all.

At the end of the series, there is still quite a bit going on, Kusaka's plans and actions still somewhat shrouded in mystery.  And that leads me to the biggest disappointment of the series: it just ends.  The last episode doesn't come off as a series finale so much as a season finale that ends on a cliff hanger.  I know the real reason for this is because the manga hadn't been finished yet, but since there hasn't been any more news on this since about 2005 as far as I can tell, I'm more than a little frustrated by the fact that this series might go unfinished.

So while I would say that this is a pretty good anime to watch if you're into a more cerebral show that combines history and sci-fi, just know going in that the series is actually incomplete.  7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on December 09, 2014, 02:59:49 AM
The Irresponsible Captain Tylor
(26 episode series)

This series is basically one big parody of space operas, though in the same kind of light-hearted way that Galaxy Quest is a parody of Star Trek.  More than acknowledging the many clichés inherent in the genre, it insists on calling all of them out, always to humorous effect.

What we have here is the very same basic set-up one might see in literally any space opera.  We have Earth's fleet of ships, usually flying under the banner of some kind of federation, fighting a conflict of some kind with an alien enemy.  In this case the enemy is shown as a worthy foe, with a lead antagonist who is simply an honorable soldier of an empire led by a sympathetic empress, a teen-aged girl with the mantel of responsibility forced upon her by the assassination of her royal parents.  We have the "real" enemy manipulating the young empress in a power play.  We have our heroes, a band of misfits with the odds against them, including their own devious and power hungry superiors.  Actually, considering the effort that was actually put in to the set-up, this might not have been a bad series if played seriously .... just like every other space opera.  Oh, it might have been one of the better ones that managed to stand out, but I feel that this series true strength is in the fact that it takes everything you would expect from a space opera and starts to play it straight, only to turn everything completely on its head.

For instance, we take our main protagonist, Justy Ueki Tylor, who for all appearances is a moron.  He's the exact opposite of what is expected of a good soldier, let alone a good captain.  He's impossible to upset or get down, even when members of his own crew try to kill him or his own superiors try to get his ship destroyed by sending it on impossible missions.  His main strength seem to be dumb luck, though there are moments that he shows at least a certain kind of intelligence, even if otherwise he seems oblivious to anything going on around him.  It's just enough to make one wonder at times if he really is just lucky, or if he ever actually plans anything out.  In fact, this is lampshaded by other characters all the time.

As for the crew of the Soyokaze, an old, decrepit, run-down destroyer no one wants to be on, they are somewhat more typical of the cast of characters on most other space operas.  There are the professional warriors and the bad-ass marines who make their own rules.  Except to an extent they all pretty much suck compared to the rest of the fleet, making their assignment to Soyokaze more fitting than they would like to admit.  Later, after they get over their depression and that whole trying to kill each other and the captain thing, this becomes a source of pride for them, and a way to kind of stick it to the rest of the fleet, which basically represents the typical space opera.

The "plot" of the series is almost exactly as one would expect from a space opera, with an ongoing war between the protagonists' United Planets Space Force against the Holy Raalgon Empire.  They have battles, and we do see some characters we never really know die, but that's about where the "typical" aspect of the plot ends.  Because really, nothing makes much actual sense.  Aside from Tylor and his crew constantly escaping by pure luck in every absurd situation they find themselves in, even the war itself doesn't make much sense in light of the relationship developed between Raalgon Empress Azalyn and Captain Dom.  Azalyn in particular doesn't really live up the supposed barbaric reputation of the Raalgan, even if most of her subordinates do.  Later on, they actually manage to take a trip to Earth themselves and saw that humans weren't really the horrible enemy they imagined.  This after a battle that both sides "won" by simply not firing on one another, making it pretty clear that neither side really wanted to fight each other all that badly.

But again, this pretty much just illustrates the purposeful ridiculousness of the series.  If anything, the above is calling out the same kind of illogical plotlines that can develop in serious series.  But Captain Tylor is not a serious series.  If anything, I would categorize it as a comedy with some "drama relief" because when there is a dramatic moment involving a character death or say the capture and brainwashing of a main character, this is pretty much in leading up to a punch-line of some kind.

Naturally, the series calls out the obvious clichés like all the fan service, a possible relationship between the male captain and his female first officer, and the captain getting sexual offers from practically every woman he comes across, except the one he really wants, naturally.  Actually that last one in particular is pretty good, because while Tylor can sweet talk even a female computer into letting him have what he wants, what he wants usually isn't actually sex, and he really doesn't ever have sex, at least that we can be sure of.  So in a way, he's both like Captain Kirk's pop culture stereotype, and the exact opposite at the same time.

The series does start off a bit slow at first, even if it does quickly become apparent that this isn't a serious space opera thanks to Tylor, so you'll have to keep that in mind if you decide to give this series a watch.  I would recommend that, by the way, and I'm rating this series an 8/10, mostly because of the aforementioned slow start and how at times things could get a bit repetitive.  Otherwise, this series is well worth a watch by any sci-fi fan who doesn't take themselves too seriously.  So if you liked Galaxy Quest, you'll probably like Captain Tylor.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on December 09, 2014, 05:01:39 PM
So... Our hero is basically Zapp Brannigan?
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on December 10, 2014, 01:11:38 AM
No, he actually cares about people, and doesn't like fighting.  At one point he says, "you always win by running away."  It's always the exact opposite of what you expect.  ;)
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on December 11, 2014, 12:41:40 AM
The Irresponsible Captain Tylor
(10 episode OVA)

Whelp, they did it – they done managed to ruin this comedic franchise.  The ending of the series proper was perfect for the series itself, with the crew rejecting assignment to a brand-spanking new "cool" ship and sticking with their old Soyokaze, literally tearing their way out of the scrap dump and ramming the shiny new ship out of space dock to take its place.  While there was something of a sequel hook, in a lot of ways I wished they'd just left well enough alone.

So is the OVA bad?  Well, not really.  Actually saying that they screwed up the series would probably be unnecessarily harsh.  More, I'm just disappointed.  Much like Desert Punk, Burn-Up W and Burn-Up Excess, what started out as a light series, heavy on comedy, turned into something more serious.  What makes the Captain Tylor OVA a bit different is that this change was more gradual and didn't involve a lot of character deaths.  Instead, things just got more dramatic and less comedic.  So basically this fun parody of typical space opera became a typical space opera, and thus effectively ruined the very fitting ending that the series proper had.

What frustrates me more, though, is that the OVA actually starts out with pretty much more of the same as far as the series proper had been.  The shooting war between the United Planets Space Force and the Holy Raalgon Empire has ended and both sides are kind of taking things easy.  Naturally something new pops up, the Raalgon come up with some new weapon and the Soyokaze has to save the day in some audaciously unconventional way.

But here already there are some indications of the more serious change in tone, just for the simple fact that Tylor actually has a plan, even if it isn't readily apparent what it is.  For a while things seem normal, the show actually teasing us a bit about whether or not Tylor actually has a plan, but then things take a more serious turn.  Dom beats the crap out of Tylor because he made Azalyn cry for a reason that is explained a bit later, and a bit later on he nearly destroys the Soyokaze and kills Tylor despite orders from Azalyn to let them go unharmed.  Then he abruptly decides to stop and everything seems okay again.

There isn't really much of a mood swing though, mostly because while there is still comedy relief, the OVA never really goes back to the same light tone the series proper had.  Instead, things slowly built, with seemingly unrelated stories focusing on different supporting characters and some new threat that has made itself known.  And that's pretty much how the show slides into becoming a more typical space opera.  There's a lot of political maneuvering going on, betrayals happening, and it all plays out like a show that's taking itself seriously.  This made me feel uneasy, and left me feeling disappointed.

The OVA does end on a somewhat light note, and yet at the same time manages to end on a serious one thanks to the drama of the political plotline that got added along the way.  On top of that the OVA leaves things hanging, with a much larger sequel hook than before.  As this OVA came out in the mid-'90s, I'm not seeing that happening because it probably would have been done already.  Actually I have mixed feelings about that, because I actually am somewhat interested in seeing how things turn out.  What can I say, I do tend to like space operas, and the OVA is pretty much a typical space opera in a lot of ways..  On the other hand, the much more serious tone the OVA took on doesn't fit with the series, or the point of what Captain Tylor was all about, really, which was to be a parody.  So in some ways, I'm actually glad that nothing further has been added in order to continue that trend.  But then I'm annoyed things were left hanging ... well, you get the idea. ;)  In any case I'm afraid that I'm going to have to rank this lower than the series.  6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on December 13, 2014, 08:58:21 PM
Fullmetal Alchemist (franchise)
Like Hellsing and Hellsing Ultimate, Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) and FMA: Brotherhood are based on a manga.  The 2003 series diverges from the source while Brotherhood follows it more closely.  That's where the similarities end though. 

FMA takes place in an alternate world with roughly pre-WWII technology where alchemy is an actual science with laws and such (in fact the series will beat you over the head with the 1st Law of Equivalent Exchange, which is the only law we ever learn).  The series focuses on the Elric brothers (Edward and Alphonse), who are prodigy children of a famous alchemist (their father).  The father disappeared when they were young leaving their mother to care for them.  Eventually the mother dies and the kids decide to break alchemy's biggest taboo, human transmutation, to bring their mother back to life.  As you can expect, this goes horribly wrong, Al looses his entire body while Ed looses a leg and sacrifices an arm to bind Al's soul to a suit of armor.  Ed's missing limbs are replaced with metal prosthetic called auto-mail and the two boys proceed to become State Alchemists, find the Philosopher's Stone (a mythical object that allows you to break the laws of alchemy), and get their bodies back.

This basic story is true for both series.  Where they diverge is the conspiracy going on behind the scenes (major division) and the source of power for alchemical transmutations (minor division).  The 2003 anime ends with some loose threads and the movie Conqueror of Shamballa ties up those threads.

Despite the fact that this series is rich in all the things that tend to annoy me in anime (teenage protagonists, hot-headed teenage protagonists, deformed animation at times, pointless arguments that I assume are supposed to be humorous but just annoy the hell out of me, probably some other things...) it's still one of my favorite anime franchises.*  This is probably because when the crap hits the fan the shows drop all that stuff to focus on the action.  While there's not a lot of profanity (hell I can't really remember anything stronger than damn), and it's not super gory (there is gore though), it is fairly dark and a little messed up.  As far as recommending one over the other... I don't know if I can do that.  The 2003 series drops all the things that annoy me faster than Brotherhood, but Brotherhood has a better conclusion.  Conqueror of Shamballa does a pretty good job of wrapping up the 2003 series' loose ends, but it didn't feel that satisfying to me as I saw it after watching Brotherhood and it had been a while since I had seen the 2003 series.  Not saying it was bad or anything, just that I probably would have enjoyed it more had it not taken forever for it to air on TV over here, or Brotherhood had not aired.  On the other hand Brotherhood has some advantages, for one I don't remember the 2003 series ever naming the country that the series takes place in (Amestris or something like that), while Brotherhood does name it.

*If I had to rate things in an order...
#1: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex/2nd GIG
#2: Mobile Suit Gundam franchise
#3: Fullmetal Alchemist

There's another FMA movie: The Sacred Star of Milos, which I'll post comments on after it airs tonight...
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on December 14, 2014, 02:01:25 AM
The '03 series does name it, but it is in a few throw away lines. (It's the version I'm familiar with.)
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on December 15, 2014, 01:59:28 AM
Ah, I didn't remember that.  They did mention it in Conqueror of Shamballa though.  Have you seen the full series? The movie?

If you liked the '03 series then I'd recommend watching Brotherhood as well.



Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos (2011 movie)
Based on visual evidence I'd assume that it takes place within the Brotherhood version of the anime, although I can't be sure of when exactly in the series timeline it takes place (probably somewhere in the middle).

Anywho... The story starts with a skilled alchemist escaping from a prison (who is using a unique form of alchemy).  Ed and Al go to Table City (dumb name, I know) on the border of Amestris and Creta (an opposing country to the west).  Table City used to be the holy land of a country called Milos, which was invaded years ago by Creta, then Amestris took Table City from Creta, and now the former Milosians are forced to live in a massive valley filled with all the trash the people from Table City dump there.  So they're trying to rebel against Creta and Amestris and regain their ancestral homeland.  Ed and Al get caught up in the middle of this soon after arriving in the city to catch the escaped prisoner.

Personally I liked this one a little more than Conqueror of Shamballa.  There's not really much profanity (in fact I don't really remember any) but a fair amount of blood and gore.  (A guy's head explodes, although its shown from a distance.  It's less "meat chucks flying everywhere" and more "blood splatter... oh damn, his head's gone...")
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on December 15, 2014, 02:46:46 AM
I've seen pretty much the entire '03 series, including Shamballa. I liked it enough that I got the recent releases for all of that.

I have seen the odd episode of Brotherhood, any time I've been in the States, the differences that I noticed were interesting. As for this movie, I remember coming across the DVD for it once not long after it came out over here, as far as I know, and the blurb on the back seemed to indicate that it was related to Brotherhood rather than the '03 series.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on December 16, 2014, 01:38:41 PM
Ghost in the Shell
(1995 movie)

When I'd first seen this movie, I didn't understand yet that it was actually unrelated to the series, which is what I'd seen first.  So I was a bit understandably confused at the differences, not yet realizing that there are a lot of anime movies, series, and OVAs which are only related in that they are all different adaptations of the same source material.  I'm told that this movie is closer to the source material than the series, though it's a bit slower paced than the original manga.  I still can't hide the fact that I prefer the series, but that really doesn't mean that I don't like this movie.

Having watched it a few times since I first rented it, I can definitely say that this movie takes a more patient sci-fi fan to be really enjoyed.  There is action at different points in the movie, not to mention fan service in the form of the main protagonist Major Motoko Kusanagi stripping down for her invisibility camouflage to work, but the pacing is fairly slow.  In fact, I'd say that this movie is more in the spirit of older sci-fi, from the late '60s and the '70s than more modern ones, excepting Blade Runner of course.  Actually comparisons to Blade Runner wouldn't be all that far off.

The story follows Kusanagi and her fellow Section 9 officers, who deal specifically with technological threats and crimes.  Even still, the focus of the story is more on the philosophy of what it really means to be human, and if a machine can actually develop a soul, though here they refer to it as a "ghost."  This movie is also an old school sci-fi in that it actually does focus on what effect(s) new technology might have on humanity.  In this case, not only are there androids, but people have become cybernetic to varying degrees, some actually having their entire bodies replaced, like the Major and her friend/subordinate, Bateau (as it is spelled in this movie).  So from there the movie deals with ideas like, can a person who's had their entire body replaced still be considered the same person, and themes of losing one's identity because those cybernetic bodies are produced in assembly lines.  At points the Major sees what seem to be copies of herself, though we can never be sure if that's in her mind or not.

Actually, that brings me to another comparison to Blade Runner, namely that in exactly the same way there was some ambiguity as to whether Decker was a human or a replicant, Major Kusanagi is paranoid by the idea that the military has somehow secretly replaced her brain with a computer, and that she's actually just an android programmed to think she is human.  So she tends to do some things that are very dangerous in order to feel human, much to Bateau's chagrin.

Then, of course, there's the idea that a person who has been cybernetically enhanced might lose their free will and even their own identity thanks to actually being hacked by someone else.  Of course while I actually feel plenty of sympathy for someone like that, even if in fact that person may have gone on to commit crimes because of that hacking, other characters in the movie seem to not really be all that sympathetic.  Kind of another commentary of the effects such technology might have on humanity, I guess.

The nice thing about all this is that it all leads back into the plot.  A mysterious hacker known as the "Puppetmaster" has been hacking a lot of people.  That plot leads to more as Section 9 investigates the matter and makes them run afoul of certain military interests.  This is where the idea of artificial life comes in, as it turns out their quarry is actually a military AI that wants to escape and to actually bond with a human being.  Naturally those certain military interests I mentioned earlier want to both destroy the escaped AI, and kill anyone who knows about it in order to keep them from revealing the truth about the Puppetmaster and their connection to it.

That being said, the end of the movie is somewhat sad, mostly because the implication is that the human the Puppetmaster chooses to bond with effectively ceases to exist in the process and becomes a new life form entirely, and I was rather fond of that character.  The new life form then escapes to an unknown fate.  There is a bit of a sequel hook there, but really the story could have just ended there.

I honestly can't make any comparison to the original manga because I haven't read it yet, and probably won't anytime soon.  All I can say is that this is overall a good movie, and well worth a watch.  The only caveat with that is that you are definitely going to need some patience to get through it.  I, personally, don't see the slow pace as a bad thing, especially because the movie is just taking the time to explain the characters and set things up for the story rather than rushing right into the action, but at times I have to admit that I wished the pacing would pick up just a little bit.  I'd say the movie that suffers more from that is the sequel, which is the review I'll be writing next.  As for this one, it's a little tough to rate, actually.  In some ways, I'm not entirely sure if I want to rate it at an 8 or a 9, but I think I'm going to go ahead and rate it as an 8/10.  It just doesn't quite make a 9 in my opinion, and I don't really split ratings.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on December 16, 2014, 03:50:37 PM
I've watched this one, but I think it's been even longer than the last time I watched an episode of the series, so I don't remember it as well.

Fun Fact: The Major's name, in Western terms, would be the equivalent of Jane Excalibur.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on December 16, 2014, 09:38:40 PM
Like CX, I saw the movie after watching the series and didn't know it was unconnected to the series.  (In fact, I may have seen both SAC and 2nd GIG before seeing the movie).  It's been a long time since I've seen the movie, so I can't make that many comments on it, but from what I remember I agree with CX's review.  Also I prefer the series over the two movies and will have more comments when CX posts the reviews of GitS 2: Innocence and the Stand Alone Complex series.

I've seen pretty much the entire '03 series, including Shamballa. I liked it enough that I got the recent releases for all of that.

I have seen the odd episode of Brotherhood, any time I've been in the States, the differences that I noticed were interesting. As for this movie, I remember coming across the DVD for it once not long after it came out over here, as far as I know, and the blurb on the back seemed to indicate that it was related to Brotherhood rather than the '03 series.

Regarding Sacred Star of Milos, I figured it was related to Brotherhood due to the fact that Al was able to use alchemy without a transmutation circle (an ability he lacked in the '03 series) and the term "Doorway of Truth" which AFAIK was not used in the '03 series (IIRC it was just referred to as the Doorway in the '03).  Plus IIRC the Doorway was just shown as a plain stone door in the '03 series but in Sacred Star of Milos and Brotherhood there were carvings on the Doorway.  The Wikipedia page for the movie also states that the idea for it came during the development of Brotherhood.

Expanding on what I said before, Brotherhood and the '03 series have different antagonists, they're both searching for the Philosopher's Stone but for very different reasons.  In Brotherhood the purpose is more sinister (I won't go into spoilery details though).   Both series' antagonists use homunculi (artificial humans) named after the 7 deadly sins for their purposes.  The three most used homunculi (Lust, Gluttony, and Envy) are pretty much the same in both series (although Gluttony and Envy have some new twists in Brotherhood).  Greed is more or less the same as well, though with some new twists in Brotherhood.  Sloth, Wraith, and Pride are completely different though (with Sloth probably getting the least air time).  The origin of the homunculi is also very different.  Another thing is that the '03 series briefly mentions Xing (a country somewhere to the east of Amestris past a vast desert), while Brotherhood introduces us to several characters from Xing, fleshes the country out a little more (fantasy China more or less), and introduces us to their own form of alchemy (called alkahestry). 

Also among the new characters is Major Armstrong's sister (Olivier Mira Armstrong) as the commanding officer of the northern Briggs' Fortress.  Unlike her brother, she's not super annoying and is a complete and total badass.  To make another Hellsing comparison, she's very similar to the leader of the Hellsing Organization (Sir Integra Fairbanks Windgates Hellsing).  They are both no-nonsense, badass leader women who you don't want to get on the bad side of.

Also a slight criticism of Sacred Star of Milos that I forgot to mention in my review, Roy Mustang (Ed and Al's superior) and his right-hand woman Riza Hawkeye arrive in Table City near the end of the movie when crap starts really hitting the fan.  However, they really don't really get the chance to do much.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on December 17, 2014, 01:55:32 PM
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
(2004 movie)

With this sequel to the 1995 movie, pacing is definitely a bit of a problem.  It tries to capture the same feel as the first movie, and to be fair, it does to a certain extent.  I can completely understand wanting to take time to give viewers more clues and to try to mess with their heads a little while they try to figure things out, but in some cases this movie wastes this time where it probably shouldn't have. 

With Major Kusanagi gone, Batou (the spelling now changed to something more familiar) is now partnered with the mostly human Togusa and leading an investigation into some strange sex-bot gynoids (the technically correct term for female androids) that have killed their owners and anyone else unfortunate enough to be nearby.  Of course Batou is also dealing with the loss of the Major, whom he obviously had feelings for.  That being said, this movie has a somewhat more depressing tone than the last one, and Botou is pretty much exclusively the focus of this movie.

Batou and Togusa's investigation eventually leads them to a cyborg company called LOCUS SOLUS, which makes the malfunctioning gynoids, which themselves seem to have actually been tampered with in order to draw this investigation.  There seem to be some ties with organized crime and a rich eccentric hacker who apparently lives in a somewhat dangerous and lawless part of the world.  This is where the movie drags a bit, because for all the time it takes to give the audience some clues while it messes with our heads, there isn't a whole lot of pay off.  Not to mention scenes that seem to be more about showing off eye candy than anything else.

The idea of having one's mind hacked naturally returns, and it seems that Batou becomes a victim in the course of his investigation.  Actually he ends up shooting up a store and shooting off one of his own arms, thinking that someone is trying to kill him.  Then there's the scene were they go to visit the rich eccentric hacker I mentioned earlier, as both Batou and Togasa almost get trapped in a computer-generated repeating hell.  It's only thanks to a brief return by the Major in her new, entirely computerized form that Batou is able to beat this illusion.  I have to admit, though, that the repeating kind of got on my nerves.  I understand what the movie was trying to do, but after the second time I was ready for the movie to just get on with it already.

While at times this movie tends to drag on, there are some points that it is actually pretty good.  Leading up to the climax, there's a scene where Batou boards an off-shore factory ship and wages a one-man battle against essentially an army.  Togasa helps out by hacking into the ship's security system to open the doors for him, and the scene where Batou charges through them is pretty cool by itself, especially with the addition of the soundtrack.  And just when it seems like Batou might lose this fight, the Major shows up to help him out, and there's a nice scene between them where she tries to comfort him a little.  There's also a call-back to the first movie, because Batou has a thing for putting his coat on the Major when she ends up naked, and he ends up doing that with the gyroid she hacks into to help him out.

Now as it turns out, the cause of those gyroid malfunctions and the reason this LOCUS SOLUS company has been trying its damnedest to kill Batou and Togusa is that they've been having the mafia kidnap little girls to use in some kind of weird soul copying machine.  Apparently whatever standard software might normally be used in these live sex dolls wasn't quite "real" enough to the sick frakkers that bought them, never mind that the bots didn't even look quite human to begin with, so LUCUS SOLUS decided that adding bits of the souls of little girls in order to effectively make their products into pedo-bots.  Apparently, one of the people working there actually had a conscience and conspired with a couple of the girls to cause these killer malfunctions in order to draw official attention to what was going on to them so they might be rescued.  On finding this out, Batou is a lot harder on them than I would be.  Sure, it sucks that some innocent people ended up getting killed as a result, but most of the victims were the sick pedophilic owners of these sex-bots, and there is the whole matter of how these girls were kidnapped and were having bits of their soul taken away piece by piece from them until they died, and all so some pedophiles can get their jollies with a robotic sex doll.  Of course Batou also feels sorry for the sex-bots that now effectively have human souls who ended up dead, too, but you can guess I'm not with him on that either.

The movie does try to get a bit philosophical, mostly dealing with how robots are becoming more human with things like this soul-ripping machine adding bits of soul to robots, and how humans are becoming more like robots as with the Major.  Unfortunately it also tries to do this by having Batou, Togusa, and the Major constantly quoting philosophers during the slow parts of their investigation.  And this is where I feel the movie is really lacking.  Probably the best it gets at being philosophical is when it comes to dolls and the comparison of humans to dolls, and vice versa.  Actually the movie has something of an obsession with dolls and how creepy they can be with the right mentality.  I wasn't really into that, so for me this aspect of the movie also became something of a bore for me.

As an aside, I also have to say that it just isn't the same without the Major, and the movie never really quite manages to move on from that fact itself.  Batou is a pretty cool character, but he's no Kusanagi, and he doesn't really take her place very well as the lead character.  Of course, who knows, maybe that was the point.

As for other things about the movie I never really got over, there was the very intrusive nature of the CGI used in the movie.  While it was blended fairly well with the animation, it just tended to stand out to the point that one almost wonders why they didn't simply make everything, including the characters, CGI.  I also didn't care for the visual design, as it seemed way too abstract to me.  Plus, what can I say?  I prefer my machines to look like machines, so having a tilt-rotor with wings that split up into feather-looking sections and flap made me cringe, among other such examples. 

Anyway, I suppose this movie is still worth a watch, but be aware that it does tend to drag in some parts and actually feel a bit longer than it is.  7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on December 17, 2014, 03:14:03 PM
Yeah, I'd have to agree with your review for Innocence.  All the philosophy/zen quoting threw me off while watching it because it just seemed out of character/out of place to me, especially for Batou.  While there are certainly discussions of a philosophical nature in the series, there's rarely direct quoting of philosophers (from what I remember anyway), and when there is its usually the Major or the Tachikomas (AI controlled spider-tanks only seen in the SAC series).  Also regarding your comments about showing off eye-candy, this was especially an issue as they are traveling to the area where the eccentric hacker is.  Lots of long shots of this mechanical city and some sort of parade that looked like it was ripped out of a Final Fantasy game.  It's kind of like how in Star Trek: TMP there's excessive beauty shots of the Enterprise before they launch or when they get to V'ger and they take 15 minutes going back and forth between viewscreen shots of the massive ship and the crew's reaction of what's on the viewscreen.  You just want them to get on with it...

For me there was also the issue that this was the first anime that I'd watched subtitles only, so there was lots of rewinding to keep up with the dialog.  A minor complaint but there was also the one scene where Batou and Togusa were sitting in a car with the POV behind them, it was early in the movie and I wasn't really able to tell the voice actors apart from each other so I couldn't tell who was saying what.

As and aside: the short lived FOX series Almost Human had an episode somewhat similar to this movie.  In that show, they were taking women's skin and attaching it to sex robots rather than copying their souls and the main characters (a human police officer and his robot partner) started investigating it when they find DNA (or a fingerprint, I forget which) from one of the missing women at a murder scene.  The bots and kidnappings were also done by an organized crime outfit.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on December 17, 2014, 03:36:34 PM
Wouldn't surprise me if it was inspired by GitS2.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on December 18, 2014, 01:00:32 PM
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
(25 episode series)

When I caught my first glimpse of this series when it aired on Adult Swim, I have to admit that I wasn't really impressed.  It looked like just another mecha anime to me, and to be frank I really don’t care for shows like that, partly due to the large number of them.  They just tend to all be the same and even kind of run together.  This one involved a character with a weird eye who liked to dress up in a weird costume, and I really didn't care for the visual design at all.  But, just as I'd been talked into watching Gurren Lagann in large part because of the alleged fan service, I'd read quite a bit about how naughty Code Geass was supposed to be, in particular the first season before the executive meddling took place and ruined everything, or so I'd read.  Something about a female character using a table to masturbate?  ;)  At the same time there was supposed to be a great deal of awesome going on due to this series being on real late and largely ignored by the censors and the like.  So I decided to give this series a chance, and I have to say that I'm glad that I did.

The series follows a somewhat spoiled, smarmy, arrogant high school student named Lelouch Lamperouge, who apparently likes to skip out on class to gamble with rich aristocrats on the outcome of chess games.  This all takes place in a rather interesting alternate Japan, which has been conquered by the Holy Britannian Empire, and of which Lelouch is actually a member of.  In fact, he's even royalty, albeit disowned by his own choice due to an assassination-induced grudge.  Actually the world this story takes place in is kind of interesting by itself as an alternate history, in which a branch of the British monarchy escaped to North America and founded yet another empire ruled by a hereditary monarchy.  At the time the series takes place, the Britannian Empire controls a third of the world, and has a rather nasty tendency of erasing the national identity of any country it conquers (usually over resources), reducing them and their occupants to numbers as one of the many ways they continue to treat conquered peoples like crap long after the conquest has taken place.  Personally I find the idea of Japan being conquered by an empire over resources kind of funny in an ironic kind of way, considering that whole world war thing back here in the real world.  I also found it a little amusing that for all the ways the world developed differently in this alternate history, Japan was basically the same, except that they were already a more or less democratic nation led by a prime minister rather than a militaristic empire themselves.  But that's just me. ;)

Lelouch is far from a sympathetic character, but the series does a good job of explaining just what lead him down the path to becoming Zero, the mysterious masked leader of the rebellion against Britannia who vows to destroy the Empire, starting in Japan.  He does this for rather selfish reasons, mainly out of revenge for the assassination for his mother and the way his father treated him and his now crippled daughter like crap afterwards.  Of course he's always had dreams of bringing down the Empire, but as fate would have it he'd be given a unique power called "geass", which would enable him to essentially brainwash people into doing whatever he wanted.  Of course one of the first things he does when he realizes his power is to meticulously and mercilessly test it out on his classmates.  But then that's just him.

I actually like that he's far from the typical flawless hero.  The show manages to keep him just sympathetic enough while he plays chess with peoples' lives and very pragmatically tests out exactly what he can do with his power on his classmates, among other things.  Actually at one point he even kills would-be allies of his in order to take out some Britannians along with them.  And yet his character managed to evolve along the way, keeping just on the sympathetic side of crazy for me to actually feel a little excitement when he was under the threat of being exposed and his double life catching up with him.  Part of that was actually kind of funny, as some of the members of the Japanese resistance were students at his school, among other unlikely connections.  Plus his name kind of lends itself to a pun on the true nature of his character. :D

The series also has an interesting number of layers to it.  For instance, pretty much all of the royals Lelouch ends up fighting and either trying or succeeding at killing are actually members of his own family, even if they are only half-siblings.  He also ends up fighting a childhood friend who he actually helped to save back when Japan was first conquered seven years before, though at first he doesn't realize this.  It makes it that much more interesting when he finally does find out, though.

Actually all these connections culminate until he finally reaches the point that he can no longer lead his double life.  He can no longer control his power, which leads to a rather sad, if completely outlandish, incident where he almost achieves a kind of peace with a member of the royal family who still loves him from their childhood days.  She actually sets up a little slice of land where Japan exists again, and Zero/Lelouch is basically explaining what has led him to this point in the story, only to lose control of his power just as he's all like "if, for example, I told you to kill all the Japanese, you wouldn't be able to resist that command."  So of course she ends up doing her best to do just that and he ends up having to kill her and using the incident as a way to drive the rebellion to its strongest point.  But still, who would use something horrible like that as a hypothetical?  Why not give a hypothetical about her giving him a blowjob instead?  I mean, I know there's that whole incest thing there, but between that and a massacre?  But I'm getting off track here.  The point is that not only could he never look anyone in the eye again without his mask, but at the very end of the series he's finally unmasked, too, and exposed to two of his former friends.

The series ends on a kind of Blake's 7 note, with characters dying or looking like they might die, the battle suddenly going south because Lelouch has to leave to go rescue his kidnapped sister, and Lelouch himself looking like he might buy it from one or both of his former friends who are present as he is unmasked.  It doesn't make the most sense, but it's still a pretty good sequel hook, which makes it that much more frustrating to know that this ending is never really followed through on.  It kind of makes me wish that the series had ended with Japan gaining its independence, with the sequel hook being that Lelouch is unmasked pretty much the way he was, and Britannia set to retake Japan.

Anywho, addressing the reason I had originally decided to watch this anime, I was somewhat surprised at the lack of naughtiness.  Sure there was a bit of nudity, though most of it missing certain features, the way a lot of anime tries to be discrete.  Nipples do show up very briefly at one point, but other than that this series isn't really any worse in way of fan service from most every other anime I've seen.  Even the infamous table scene was somewhat underwhelming, as nothing was really seen or even heard for that matter, taking place in the dark for all of about two or three seconds while said lesbian character got off silently.   I'm not exactly disappointed, but if the series had actually sucked I might have been, partly because most every character in this anime is so androgynous anyway.  So I'm not really seeing what people were talking about.  Yes, there are the bits I talked about, plus some light and not so light bits dealing with homosexuality thrown in the mix, but its nothing that other series I've seen haven't done.

Actually, if anything, the biggest weakness of this series is that it's somewhat generic.  Granted, it’s a much better take on the whole mecha theme, as the mechas themselves aren't really the focus of the story so much as a rather convenient plot device, but it is still very generic in nature.  We have a seemingly average high school student with power and/or leadership thrust unwittingly upon them and they go on to fight against overwhelming odds.  The sad fact is, that last sentence describes a disturbingly large number of animes.  Then there are all the logical brain farts and conveniences in the plot itself, one of the last ones being how the rebel army is suddenly unable to operate or function despite having already basically won simply because Lelouch had to take off to deal with something else, even though he hadn't been actively participating in the battle for some time prior to that.

Still, it isn't really a bad series, and I'd even call it more than just okay.  I'd say watch it, but keep in mind that the ending leaves a lot unresolved, and the continuation doesn't really logically follow either.  7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on December 18, 2014, 01:56:27 PM
Code Geass has a sequel (with the doofy name Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2) that ties up the loose ends.  It's also a 25 episode series and really just acts as a second season for Code Geass.  There's a time jump between the two series (I forget how long it is though).

I liked this series and its sequel.  The second season has a little more Gundam-esque feel to it as several of the mecha get rebuilt with flight capabilities (and especially later Gundams had a lot of aerial mech combat).  Also R2 does suffer from feeling like it repeats a lot of the first series.

Oh, I just noticed that you mentioned a continuation for Code Geass in the closing of your review...  Disregard what needs disregarding then...
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on December 19, 2014, 10:48:44 AM
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2
(25 episode series)

Well, I can see why a lot of people like this series, and I can also see why a lot of people hate it.  It's  a mixed bag, really.  It had a lot of the same things from the first season/series that made it good.  But then it also had plenty that was bad.  For me, the worst aspect wasn't anything in particular from the story, it was that everything was reset back to the status quo.

The last episode from the first season/series left things at a point that this should not have been possible.  Great change was finally coming in that the Black Knights, the group Lelouch/Zero formed, were pretty much going to win, despite the implication that they were somehow going to lose without Zero there to direct them in the closing stage of the battle.  Lelouch had finally been unmasked, he'd finally really crossed a line by having a well-meaning would-be ally order and participate in a massacre and then killed her, and either his friend Suzaku was finally going to kill him or his best soldier Kallen was because for some reason she felt betrayed as well.  So how did that turn out?  Well, they conveniently missed each other and Lelouch was captured and brainwashed instead.  The first episode was actually a little insulting that way, because there were a lot of things about it that made no sense.  One thing that still doesn't is how Lelouch's geass power was suddenly repressed when he was brainwashed by his father, the Emperor, who apparently had his own geass power all along.  Then there was how one of the first people he ever used his power on and who had sworn to kill him was suddenly just a concerned teacher watching over him and trying to get him to go to class.  And then Lelouch also suddenly had a brother and everyone at his school was playing along.  The explanation was not very satisfying.

Of course, the first part of this sequel series was pretty much focused on explaining how pretty much all that came to be.  It was all very elaborate, and I have to say pretty disappointing.  Of course that still leaves the matter of Lelouch's permanent loss of control over his geass power, almost like they were hoping no one would notice, despite all the other acrobatic explanations they came up with for everything else.  But really this was all so this series could be pretty much like the first one, with Lelouch leading a double life, hiding his identity and all that with the constant threat of being revealed all over again.  And really that was the lamest part of it all.  You can always tell when a studio interferes, because when they find they have something successful, they try to copy it in the hopes that it will keep being successful.  But here they missed the point, because it wasn't Lelouch's double life or the high school aspect of his life that made the series good, it was the revolution and how Lelouch was evolving as a character.

In this series, he pretty much becomes a complete bastard, and it's difficult to much care what happens to him.  In the end we find out he's a bastard on purpose, though that, along with so much else, just doesn't make all that much sense.  Suzaku also changes radically, but then so do a lot of the characters, apparently out of convenience.  Even the evil Emperor is suddenly made out to be more of a well-intentioned extremist than the big bad he was originally made out to be, and Lelouch's mother who everyone liked so much ended up being made out to be more of an uncaring bitch than the person whose death had driven Lelouch to become Zero.

This series also really went to town on the aspect of friends and allies fighting each other.  It even has the Black Knights turn on Zero and try to kill him.  Actually pretty much everyone turns on him, despite all the victories or other good things he's actually done while fighting against the Britannian Empire.  Then when he finally wins and has taken over the Empire, Lelouch becomes the evil emperor in a really elaborate plan meant to finally unite the world by having them focus their hatred on him.  The thing is, that really wasn't necessary, because he had gotten himself in a position to bring the peace through simply leading the Britannian Empire that way.  After all, it seemed like he was headed down that path, and it would have been a way to prove himself to people who would have been his allies, as well as against his enemies.

But that was simply one of the many contrivances that was either unnecessary or simply came out of left field.  Pretty much everything was some elaborate plan.  While it's obvious that whoever wrote this actually put some thought into these elaborate schemes, I just wasn't impressed by their attempts at trying to convince me various characters were the absolute geniuses they would have to be to plan and execute these impossible plans, mostly because the plans were simply far too elaborate.  Part of that was how the different fighters were able to figure out each others moves and know what the other was thinking.  It was probably meant to make each of them a worthy foe to their counterpart(s), but in the end it got on my nerves a little when the show would constantly jump cut between multiple characters who were all saying essentially the same thing.

In the end, though, I didn't really hate this series, probably because I didn't really have much invested in it to begin with.  After all, it was a fairly typical anime from the start, filled with a lot of clichés.  The things that stood out a bit and made it kind of good were still present, to an extent, in this continuation of the story, but I can definitely see what upset so many fans of the first series.  But it did keep me interested enough to watch, mainly to find out how they would explain everything, and how it would all turn out in the end.  It wasn't really all that satisfying, though, mainly because there wasn't much in way of actual resolution, and the series ends on an unrealistically optimistic note.  Even with the big bad finally defeated after all the world's hate has been focused on this object to hate, that wouldn't automatically mean the peace would be maintained, nor that no longer focusing on military conflict would mean that hunger and poverty and the like would just all magically be solved for lack of anything else to do.  Humans are humans, after all, for better or worse, and I have no doubt that without some big bad for everyone to unite against, the Code Geass world would simply go back to the same kind of petty squabbling that the real world has to deal with.  5/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on December 20, 2014, 03:22:38 PM
E's Otherwise
(26 episode series)

This was one of the most boring and pointless series I ever bothered to watch all the way through.  It is entirely my own fault that I did, though.  I can't even really explain why, either, other than being mildly interested in what the big evil secret plan was, and the continued hope that things might pick up and that something important might happen.  It pretty much takes more than half the series for that, though.

The series takes place in a kind of dystopic future that is run entirely by competing mega-corporations, which almost seems like something out of the '80s.  It follows Kai Kudou, a psychic who works for ASHURUM, one of the twelve mega-corportations I mentioned.  The term "psychics" is used a bit more loosely here to mean anyone who is either telepathic or who can use telekinetics, which is apparently way more common here.  Of course they also tend to be referred to as "E's," which gives the series its name.  In any case, Kai is caught up in the conflict between humans and psychics because it turns out that Ashrum wasn't what he thought it was, and neither was the mission it sent him on.

As cool as the premise of the series sounded, it really didn't turn out to be much about this conflict or whatever these evil corporations were up to.  Occasionally the series would touch on something, but mostly it seemed like a distraction from the somewhat typical slice-of-life anime that had developed following Kai being found by some random girl and brought to the home she shared with her adopted brother, you know, instead of to a hospital.  Well, in this case there's a kind of reason for that, but still, it kind of turns into this thing where Kai is the fish out of water and the two people who took him in have fun, wacky adventures, like dressing Kai up like a chick and finding a lost cat.  Oh yeah, there's this rebellion thing going on, too, but it isn't entirely clear who the rebels are or who they're fighting for quite a while into the series because apparently the adopted family thing is more important, or something.

Eventually we find out that Ashurum is brainwashing psychics in order to use them as weapons, and that both it and Kai's boss, Eiji Sagimiya aren't what they are initially supposed to appear.  Shocker.  Oh, and the big secret evil plan involves basically destroying the world as we know it by killing pretty much all of humanity.  Of course! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8u7px_GzWQ)  Just like so many other anime outings I've watched, including Code Geass just recently.

So you might say I'm a bit disappointed, mainly in that I didn't follow my initial instinct after the standard 3 episode trial and just stop watching at that point.  I would have spared myself from the cookie-cutter plot, all the attempts at cuteness and being funny, the annoying asshat of the series's antics, and the lame sequel hook.  Oh yeah, we never do find out what happens to good guy Kai, bad guy Eiji, and a few other characters after the big battle at the end.  The series just sort of ends, while making a very lame attempt at suggesting that there might be more to follow.  Honestly, this series was mostly filler, and it could have done everything in 12 episodes and probably still had plenty of filler to make the big evil secret plan still feel like it was falling into place over time.  Maybe the quality of the animation would have been better then, too.

Probably the most fun I got out of this series was unintentional.  The series opens itself up for pedophile jokes way too easily, although part of that is thanks to the character design.  I don't know how old Asuka, the girl who found Kai, is supposed to be, but at one point a feminine man shows up and wants to marry her.  He also has a thing for candy, so one of the first things he does is to ask her if she likes candy.  Seems legit, right? ;)  Then there's also the standard Catholic Church pedophile jokes when it turns out some cardinal is keeping a bunch of children locked up.  So yeah, it's safe to say that the only fun I really had out of this series was unintentional, because lord knows the running gags of Asuka not being able to cook and all the cross-dressing crap wasn't funny.

I honestly would recommend skipping this series if you're thinking of watching it.  About the only way you'd probably enjoy it un-ironically would be if you're a fan of the adopted family hijinks type shows, and even then you'd probably lose interest when the plot finally kicks in and people try to kill each other (and sometimes succeed).  It's sad, but I actually enjoyed Divergence Eve more than I enjoyed this series, and by that I mean the actual plot of it.  1/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on December 24, 2014, 06:33:30 AM
Devil May Cry: The Animated Series (12 episode anime)
This anime is based on CAPCOM's Devil May Cry video game series (which spun off from one of many aborted Resident Evil 4 ideas) and set in-between the first and forth games (for those unfamiliar with the series, the timeline is: 3rd game, 1st game, 4th game, 2nd game).  It's about a human/demon hybrid named Dante who hunts demons using a two-handed sword and a pair of handguns.  Due to the violence, gore, and profanity, it's definitely adults only.

The series begins on Dante taking up a bodyguard job, protecting a little girl called Patty, who's being attacked by demons.  From there, Patty starts hanging out at his shop (Devil May Cry) and each following episode has him taking jobs hunting various demons, a demon hunt of the week format if you will.  While most anime of this nature have a big plot arc going on in the background that gets continually hinted at until it eventually comes to the foreground, DMC diverges in that the final confrontation of the show is only very briefly hinted at in a few of the later episodes (although the seeds for it are sewn in the first episode).  The anime also uses Lady (a human demon-hunting woman from DMC3) and Trish (a demon made in the image of Dante's mother, who eventually took sides with Dante and started hunting demons [seen in the first DMC game]) from the video game series in several episodes (and shows us their first meeting in one episode), and introduces a new character, Morrison, who is pretty much Dante's agent.  While Patty seems to be a useless child/comedy relief character, she does play an actual story role in the end.  Oh, and the show gets brownie points for the fact that the English dub uses the guy who voiced Dante in DMC4 to voice act Dante.

If you're a fan of the video game series, then you should probably take a look at this series (assuming you haven't already, as it is 7 years old at this point).  If you're a fan of the demon hunting genre, then you might like this series.  It doesn't really go that deep into the mythos of the DMC game series, but it expects that you know it.  Then again, the mythos of the DMC series isn't all that complicated.  Anywho, I enjoyed the series for what it was, an addition to the DMC universe.  A couple of complaints though...
1) You would expect a series like this to focus on action, and to be fair there is a good bit of action, but the action scenes are way too short.  Seriously, virtually every fight Dante, Lady, or Trish have with a demon is over in a few seconds, maybe a minute or two at the most. Dante is supposed to be a badass and all, but still...  Even the final battle in the last episode is too short...
2) Dante's "Devil Trigger" ability is never shown throughout the course of the series.  (For those unfamiliar with DMC, the "Devil Trigger" ability lets you unleash Dante's demonic power for a brief period of time.  This would give him a demonic appearance, enhance his attack power, and regenerate his health.  Basically its something of an "Oh crap!" button.)  The final battle hints that he activated it, but we don't get to see a demonic Dante.  It's not that big of a deal, but a minor disappointment for me.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on December 28, 2014, 01:10:00 AM
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
(26 episode series)

I'm going to say right up front that this is an excellent series and that you should definitely see it if you're a sci-fi fan and/or a cyberpunk fan.  Based on the same manga that the movies are based on, the series takes place in the near future and is set primarily in Japan.  Technology is very pervasive, with nearly everyone having accepted some form of "cyberization" that links them to an even more advanced version of the internet.

So why do I prefer the series over the movie?  Well, as much as I hate to say it, there's just a lot more going on in the series and the movie tends to drag on a bit.  That's not to say that I don't mind some cerebral stimulation and some philosophy, but there just has to be more there for me to be interested in, like some good characters.  The movies really only ever focus on two of the many characters who make up Section 9.  The series, being a series, is able to explore more of the other characters.

I tend to like series with a large ensemble casts and multi-episode story arcs, and wouldn't you know it, but this series happens to fit the bill.  Actually one of the nice things about this series is that it manages to introduce you to everyone and the setting everything is taking place in without really slowing the pace down.  A lot of anime tends to do that, the thing is while it’s nice to be introduced to characters before we jump into the story, it tends to make the first few episodes kind of drag.  This is also why the "three episode rule" exists, because that's usually about the time introductions are over and the plot starts.

GitS;SAC's solution to this is to actually live up to its name and have plenty of stand alone episodes which are unrelated to the main plot, which we catch up to later on.  This way, we get to learn about each of the different members of Section 9 by watching them as they go about their jobs, defending Japan against cyber-terrorism.  We even follow the antics of the new Tachikomas, robotic "think tanks" where are controlled by artificial intelligence.  Each of these stand alone episodes is usually pretty good in its own right, exploring different themes which touch on the philosophies that tend to go hand in hand with the type of technologies presented in this series.  There are times this gets a little tiring, such as with the Tachikomas, and just insulting, as with the episode featuring "Imperial" Americans.

As an aside, I have to note, yet again, that it seems like someone at Production I.G has an anti-American axe to grind.  Yes, I know there is supposed to be some kind of backstory which explains the how the American Empire came into being, but that should've been in the show, and it still could've done without presenting the actual Americans who showed up like they were buffoons.  If anything, they should have been creepy since they were from the CIA, but I digress.

In any case, another nice thing these little stand alone episodes did was to give us an occasional break when the main plotline started, and actually helped to set the pacing a little better.  Movies have something of a disadvantage when it comes to this, because they have a much more limited amount of time to do everything in.  So whereas in a movie, things which take place over the course of weeks or months can seem to be happening in a much more rapid-fire pacing, and diversions away from it can negatively affect the story, in a series, we only get a finite amount of time in each installment, but especially in the case of longer series, there are plenty of episodes to stretch things out over.  Plus, the main Laughing Man plotline started out essentially as any other story covered in the series up to that point, and it got the same kind of attention as everything else, and other things were still going on.  In a way, this adds a kind of realism, because in real life we don’t have a preset plot that takes over everything and we focus all our attention on.

This approach also allows the series to slowly delve into the plot, until we realize just how much there is to the story it's telling.  In this case, it involves an expert hacker, the Laughing Man, who has a beef with a micro-machine pharmaceutical company.  It isn't until later why this is, or how far this shady deal to give this company an unfair leg-up over a competitor goes.  That's actually another aspect I like about this series, which is that while it still goes over more abstract ideas like just what makes us human, what exactly a "ghost" is, why people might choose to isolate themselves in such an interconnected society, and other things like that, with much more real aspects, like parts of the government working against each other in a struggle for power, corrupt politicians and police, government interference in the marketplace, and smaller idea men getting crushed by large corporations.

As it turns out, this is all about a possible cure to a debilitating disease that has emerged thanks to the push to implant the human body with technology.  A lesser known scientist seems to have discovered a possible cure using some other kind of naturally derived, biological treatment, but this information is suppressed by a collaboration between government officials and a large technology corporation which is developing a micro-machine based "cure" which actually doesn’t work all that well.  This was all done in the name of money, naturally, and this really pissed the Laughing Man off, and he tried to do something about it.  What makes this interesting, aside from learning who the Laughing Man is and what he's about, is just how deep this conspiracy goes.  It apparently leads to confrontations with the narc squad and even the military.  Things actually look pretty bad for Section 9 there for a while.

Unfortunately, that last part is one of where the series lacks.  Why?  Well, it's just very anti-climactic.  Everything has gone to hell and has fallen apart, characters are captured and maybe worse, leaving only one who has no clue as to what is going on.  Everything gets real tense, the character decides to take action, and then nothing.  It was all a part of a bigger plan, and move along now, nothing to see.

That being said, this is one of the series few weaknesses, the others being the anti-American episode, and some of the cutesy stuff with the Tachikomas that went on a bit longer than it really should have.

When it comes to the characters, Batou and Major Motoko Kusanagi are easily my favorites.  They are both complex characters with interesting backgrounds (or in the case of the Major, a mysterious background).  They have a sense of humor (especially Batou), and both are easy to empathize and sympathize with.  It's also obvious that Batou has romantic feelings for the Major, even if she doesn't really share them.  I really normally don’t go for the whole leader/subordinate romance thing, but here my only real problem was that it got milked way too much toward the end of the series, and came off as somewhat forced for the sake of drama.

Togusa is also an interesting character.  He's the least cyberized member of Section 9, and the only one with a law enforcement rather than a military background.  He's also a family man, and we actually get to meet his family a few times, so anything that happens to him tends to generate a bit more sympathy.  He really gets a chance to shine in the series, even more so than in the second movie where he was partnered with Batou.  About the only thing there is a plotline that seems to go no where, as at the end of one episode his computer turns itself on, does something, and then shuts back down.  This seems like it should lead to something, but it never really seems to.

A lot also tends to get made about the fan service from the Major.  All I can say is that while, yes, her outfit is definitely more about that, in this case I can't help but take it in stride.  While I really don’t mind fan service at all in most cases, when it comes to a series or movie that's trying to take itself seriously, I usually do start to mind, because I prefer my professionals to appear professional rather than to simply serve as eye candy.  This is actually one of my complaints when it comes to other sci-fis, like Star Trek.  In this case, though, I guess it just fits her character the same way the rest of Section 9 chooses to present itself.  Togusa and Chief Aramaki are really the only ones to dress professionally, with all the others dressing very casually.  Plus when it comes down to business, she actually does don a combat outfit that's more or less the same as the rest of them wear, albeit a bit more skin-tight.  Plus, as an added bonus, it gave me something to laugh about when the Chief teased her about trying to grab his attention by wearing revealing clothing, when she's actually wearing something that's less revealing than what she normally wears.

Anyway, this is an excellent series, with great artwork, and a wonderful soundtrack to go with an interesting story and characters.  I highly recommend that you see this series, even if anime isn't normally your thing.  This is a really good sci-fi which just happens to be animated.  9/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on December 28, 2014, 01:35:15 AM
Togusa is also an interesting character.  He's the least cyberized member of Section 9, and the only one with a law enforcement rather than a military background.  He's also a family man, and we actually get to meet his family a few times, so anything that happens to him tends to generate a bit more sympathy.  He really gets a chance to shine in the series, even more so than in the second movie where he was partnered with Batou.  About the only thing there is a plotline that seems to go no where, as at the end of one episode his computer turns itself on, does something, and then shuts back down.  This seems like it should lead to something, but it never really seems to.

Regarding the bolded text, IIRC that was the episode where an assassin was sent to kill some investment banker.  The banker had written some program that took small amounts of money out of accounts (like fractions of a cent) or something like that.  I think the computer turning on and off was supposed to be the program messing with his computer.  Then again, it's been a long time since I've seen GitS: SAC so I could be wrong.

Anywho, I concur with CX, if you're a sci-fi fan you should watch this show.

Fun fact: The actress who voices the Major in the English dub (Mary Elizabeth McGlynn), voiced Cornelia Li Britannia in the English dub of Code Geass, a whole crapload more anime work, voices female Crusaders in Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, briefly guest starred in one episode of VOY (Vis A Vis), and has done the vocals for every song with female vocals in virtually every Silent Hill game since Silent Hill 3.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on December 28, 2014, 01:56:40 AM
On the point of the Major's fan service elements, as I recall there was a debate in the show itself between her and Batou in the form of the advantages of a male body vs a female body. The results were hilarious.

Honestly, I found the Tachikomas to be interesting if only for one sequence. Their applying what we tend to think of as 'the liar's paradox' to a rather unfortunate Operator.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on December 28, 2014, 02:20:17 AM
I more or less liked the Tachikomas.  I'll admit that the high-pitched children's voices for them was a little annoying.  (At least in the English dub, never saw the Japanese version.) 

Here you have an AI controlled spider-tank, with a machinegun and cannon, the ability to hack computers, an invisibility cloak, and the ability to cling to walls, have a habit to debate philosophy on the nature of the soul and whatnot, and they sound like little kids...  Japan is weird. :P

I was hooked on this show after the second episode (the one with the rogue multi-ped tank).
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on December 29, 2014, 09:45:03 AM
On the point of the Major's fan service elements, as I recall there was a debate in the show itself between her and Batou in the form of the advantages of a male body vs a female body. The results were hilarious.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/batou.gif)

 ;D
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on December 30, 2014, 11:15:21 AM
Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG
(26 episode series)

A great follow up to the first season (or series, technically), this is actually the first anime I ever actively got interested in and made a point of watching.  And while I really didn't fully understand what was going on because I caught it toward the end of its first showing on Adult Swim, it is a testament to its quality that it still had me hooked from the first time I saw it.  I found it so interesting that when Adult Swim re-ran it, I made sure to watch everything from the start of the first SAC series.

Once again the series kind of easies us into the plot.  Theoretically we should already know everyone, but the first episode makes a kind of point to reintroduce everyone and briefly recap what happened in the first Stand Alone Complex series while it simultaneously introduces us into what will become a major plotline.  That does weaken the first episode a little, but not a whole lot.

The major difference in this sequel series is that we are introduced to a major plotline up front, from the first episode.  There's some kind of conspiratory group calling itself "The Individual Eleven" which has been carrying out terrorist attacks, and has gone on to threaten Japan's Prime Minister.  There also seem to be some similarities with the Laughing Man incident in that some of the people involved seemed to have gotten their ghosts hacked.  This gets Section 9 on the case and investigating.  This leads comes to a head, with a lot of people ending up killing themselves due to a virus that makes them think that they are a member of the Individual Eleven.  This in turn leads to even bigger things, and a conspiracy that at least attempts to make the one from the first season look small by comparison.  In the end, though, this does seem to give us something of a false plotline, as that plot was only a lead-in to another plot, which in turn made what was initially a relatively minor character take on a much larger importance.

This series also carries on the first one's tradition of breaking things up with some stand alone episodes which allow us to explore the characters a bit more in depth, including Major Kusanagi herself.  For 2nd GIG, these episodes focus a lot more on the character's backgrounds, which is how we learn about the circumstances that resulted in her getting a completely prosthetic body, as well as what turns out to be a connection to the main antagonist of the series.  Of course they don’t really make it that hard to figure out, either.

Of course, everything seems to have a way of leading back to the main plotline, though there are still a few things left unresolved, like whatever ended up happening to a woman that Togusa saved at one point.  Things like that seem to have been overlooked or forgotten in favor of putting the puzzle pieces in place for the main plot, which involves a revolution to establish an independent nation within Japan that's made up of refugees from a recent war in Asia (I think that's where they're from anyway).  The leader of this movement is one of the Individual Eleven who managed to overcome the virus and stop from killing himself.  He apparently has some even loftier goals, which he sees as the next stage in human evolution.  This is, of course, a very sci-fi idea, namely that humans could simply choose to evolve into something else.  In this case he thinks humans could all exist on the net, without the need for physical bodies.  His goal isn't quite as sympathetic as the Laughing Man's, but whatever.

Everything leading up to the conflict at the end of the series is pretty exciting, as is the final conflict itself.  Everything was very fast-paced and action-packed, and I have to say that this is a big part of why I got excited about this series even though I didn't know what was going on when I first saw it.  The nice thing about it, though, it that even with all the action, there was still an undercurrent of some very sci-fi themes, including the main Ghost in the Shell philosophical theme of existentialism.  I actually ended up writing a short paper citing this series as an example just on how it treated artificial life alone, and as annoying as they could be at times, the Tachikomas played a big part in that.  After all, they had developed sentience and in the end they chose to sacrifice themselves yet again to save Japan from another nuclear attack.

Speaking of, I can't help but note the undercurrent of anti-Americanism yet again.  About the only difference this time is that instead of being complete buffoons, the "Imperial" Americans were just shady types willing to conspire with some Japanese attempting a coup of their own government.  I won't get into it too far so as not to spoil anyone who hasn't seen it too much, but while it does take a while for all the details to be clear, it isn't all that hard to figure it out say an episode or two before hand.  Apparently taking a shot at the United States was more important than not making their somewhat complex plot completely predictable.

Still, it's a good series, and it was pretty fun to watch.  I'd say that this season/series was just as good as the first one, even with its flaws, and the complete series as a whole remains my favorite anime.  It's also one of my favorite sci-fis, period.  9/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on December 30, 2014, 01:36:06 PM
I liked 2nd GIG more than the first series/season.  Mostly because of the extra action, and maybe a little bit because the Major's outfit wasn't as... "fan-service-y" as before.  If I had to assign a score, SAC would get a 9 and 2nd GIG would be a 9.7.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on December 30, 2014, 03:50:18 PM
This one was not brought to Canada, so I've only ever seen bits of it any time I've been in the States. When I found out they released new box sets for both, I snapped them up when I had the chance to get both at the same time.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on January 09, 2015, 12:44:39 AM
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Solid State Society
(2006 TV movie)

The end of the series did leave something of a sequel hook, if only in the form of making the audience wonder what Major Kusanagi would do following the death of her love interest and how Section 9 might turn out when the dust cleared.  It wasn't all that surprising to find out the Major quit Section 9 and went off on her own, nor that Batou refused to take her place.  Naturally, the first part of the movie pretty much revolved as much around getting her back on the team as it did setting up the plot of the movie.

Speaking of the plot, I can't say that it made all that much sense to me, and what parts of it did make sense were essentially a retread of what the first movie had explored.  It seemed that there was some big conspiracy involving old folks somehow ghost-hacking people in order to kidnap children to adopt as their own.  As with in the series, this first part is actually only a lead-in to another one that is a bit bigger.  I won't say that any of it is bad exactly, but I'm somewhat disappointed with where this went. 

There were a few good moments, and there were a few odd ones too that didn't make any sense, like Section 9's ace sniper giving his target warning instead of just taking him out.

Still, in the end it was all about getting the Major to confront this oddly Puppetmaster-like character so they can have a kind of philosophical discussion.  It never is clear just who or what this hacker is, and it seems that the goal was to combine with the Major, just as in the first movie.

Overall, this movie just seemed to drag a bit.  In some ways, the magic from the series was there, but it was like it was missing something.  In some ways, I wish that they'd simply not done this movie.  It's not that it was bad, exactly, it's just that it was kind of pointless, and it didn't really live up to the series, in my opinion.  I can't even bring myself to say all that much about it, or even to recommend whether or not anyone might want to watch it.  I guess if you were a fan of the series, you might want to watch this movie, just to see what happens to everyone, but other than that, all I can really say is "meh."  You really wouldn't be missing much if you didn't see this movie.  I kind of wished they'd kept the series going since the way things were set up, they really could have kept going for several more seasons if they'd wanted to.  On the other hand, if this was all they could come up with in way of a story, maybe it's better that they didn't.  7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on January 13, 2015, 11:23:45 AM
Murder Princess
(6 episode OVA)

There isn't a whole lot to say about this OVA, I'm afraid.  It's kind of fun, but at the same time, there's no getting by the fact that it's pretty much just a typical medieval hack n' slash anime.  There is a bit of a twist in that it's made abundantly clear that this is actually a post-apocalyptic setting, with humanity having reclaimed civilization only at the level of Western Europe's Middle Ages.  So while there are knights and kings and the like, there are also scientists, androids, and cyborgs. 

The plot is still fairly typical, though.  Naturally there's some heavy-handed message about how humanity should just die already, since it's just in our nature to be destructive and fight each other, as explained by the big bad as to why he wants to end it all.  Of course, one of the characters who ends up sacrificing themselves in the name of saving the world gives the optimistic view that maybe humanity will "get it right this time", now that it has a second chance.  The end of the series doesn't really make it look like there's much hope of that, as it ends with warfare and the Murder Princess earning that name.  Really this is a case of forgetting the message in favor of making the title character a badass, and I can't say that I much care in this case, probably because I never really took this OVA seriously. 

The greatest strength of this OVA was that it was hard at times to tell if it was trying to be serious.  At times it did, but at others it was like the OVA was playing up its own absurdness.  That's the aspect of it I liked.  Then again, even if this wasn't the case and the OVA was trying to be entirely serious, I still had fun laughing at the absurdity of everything.  And by that I don't just mean the two main characters switching bodies, I mean everything from the insane hack 'n slash combat to the monocle-wearing scientist villain, not to mention the two cutesy little killer robot girls.  The one with the meek little voice and the machine gun arm was particularly funny.  Monica Rial also fits well as the voice of the title princess, though I have to admit part of that is the fact she's playing another ambiguously lesbian character, which she's done before. 

Which does bring me to another thing I liked about the OVA – the growth of the relationship between Princess Alita and Falis, who have actually switched bodies.  It is a little ambiguous as to whether they have romantic feelings for each other, but that's the way I interpreted it.  The nice thing here is that it wasn't played up too much while actually being a bit sweet.  At least I thought so.  Of course there's the weirdness of them being in each others' bodies, so if they do it with each other, they'd actually be doing it with themselves, really.  I'm sure that'd still be fetish fuel for some, though. ;)

In any case, the fun I derived from this OVA was mainly that I could just watch and laugh at its over the top nature.  It has weird creatures and cute little robot girls fighting with each other or for or against a hot action girl, high pressure blood splatter, and pretty much everything that's fun to make fun of about anime, like it or hate it.  That being said, this isn't really what I'd consider a good show, it just isn't really a bad one.  It's worth watching once.  6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on January 15, 2015, 01:26:34 AM
Excel Saga
(26 episode series)

This series is very safely in the refuge of absurdity.  In fact, its entire purpose is to make fun of as much as it possibly can.  Every episode tackles a genre and mercilessly parodies it.  For the most part, it tends to focus on anime, though it expands itself somewhat to include American animation for one episode.  There have been a lot of shows that have done the whole "make fun of anime" thing, but this series is definitely one of the better examples I've seen.

At first I wasn't entirely sold on it, because it seemed like just another anime in the same vein as FLCL and Dead Leaves.  That isn't to say that it was bad, or that those shows were bad, but I was a bit bored for the first few episodes.  The three episode rule definitely applies here, though, as the series seems to pick up after that.  It helps to have watched a fair amount of anime to recognize all the references in this series, though.  Actually it wouldn't surprise me if I missed a lot more than I caught.  Probably the most obvious ones for me were the references to the Captain Herlock franchise and Golgo 13.  But really if you're familiar with any of the genres Excel Saga parodies in any of its 26 episodes, you'll probably get at least some enjoyment out of it.  But that's just because the people who made this did such a good job, that they managed to make an episode that had no gags into one big gag itself, mostly because all the clichés being played straight on purpose ended up being just as funny as the usual treatment they got in the rest of the series.

I'm not really sure what else to say about this series, other than that it's worth a watch, of course.  There is literally so much that it's a bit overwhelming, and I feel like I'd either have to go into detail about everything, or just not bother getting into it.  So I'm just not going to bother getting into it. ;)

This is definitely a weird show, but it's very enjoyable to watch.  If you can laugh at yourself about being a fan of anime, or already like to make fun of the many clichés that tend to show up in anime, you'll probably like this series.  If you like to take anime seriously, you probably won't.  It's pretty much that simple.  Either way, I'm giving this an 8/10, which isn't bad for a parody series.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on January 15, 2015, 02:49:14 AM
I've heard about this one. Somehow I thought it was longer.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on January 19, 2015, 11:58:49 PM
Puni Puni Poemy
(2 episode OVA)

It showed up toward the end of Excel Saga as a show within a show, as a gag to make fun of the magical girl anime, so it shouldn't be all that surprising that this gag would have been followed up on.  Actually this OVA is pretty much just episodes 27 and 28 of Excel Saga, parodying magical girl anime, yuri (lesbian) relationships in anime, and of course fan service.  Yes, I imagine they had a lot of fun making fun of fan service. ;)  The anime anatomy and other self censorship kind of ruined that a little for me, but all the cracks about it made up for it, a little.

The major running gag of this OVA is the constant breaking of the fourth wall.  I didn't really find it all that funny, but then I didn't find it unfunny either.  Basically Poemy constantly refers to herself as the name of the Japanese voice actress who plays her, and just to rub it in, said voice actress actually shows up in the opening theme as she sings it, and at the very end of the OVA after the credits.  It loses a little of its effect that she's dubbed over, you know, in the dub, but I have to admit that it was still a little amusing, especially since she was cosplaying as the character.

There actually is a plot about aliens trying to take over the world (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8u7px_GzWQ), but it's actually pretty pointless and pretty much just serves as a means to set up the jokes.
(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/thread%20bombs/captain19pu.jpg)
You're welcome.

In any case, if you liked Excel Saga, there's a pretty good chance that you'll like this, too.  I mostly did, though I have to admit that I didn't really enjoy it as much as Excel Saga proper.  To be fair, that might just be from overexposure, but either way I'm giving this a 7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on January 23, 2015, 12:19:08 AM
Neon Genesis Evangelion
(26 episode series)

I'm sure some people reading this review are going to be upset, because frankly, I didn't particularly like this series.  Mostly it suffers from "too frakking long and drawn out" syndrome, but there's also the fact that there isn't really a single character who doesn't have some form of mental or emotional malfunction, and there's so much whining that I've pretty much decided to call this "Emo-gelion."

Now let's get something straight up front – I do like it when a work goes into some depth to explain things, to set them up, or to give me a sense of mystery.  Evangelion does do this, and I liked those parts of it.  The mystery about what exactly all the angels were trying to get at inside NERV headquarters is eventually revealed, leading to more mysteries about what exactly Lilith is and what will really happen if an angel gets there, as well as why it's being kept secret.  After all, the characters are always complaining about their budget being too small for them to effectively protect this mysterious creature/thing/whatever, and how the world is going to end if an angel ever touches it, so why not just explain this to the bean-counters so they can get more money to do their jobs?  Instead, everything is kept secret, even from most of the people working at NERV, including Misato Katsuragi, who is a major and the operations director of NERV.  In a way, though, that makes things a little more interesting, because the nature and origin of the Eva units is slowly revealed to us, as well as just what "second impact" is, and why the world seems to be a lot warmer than what it is now.  There is a bit of a disconnect, though, in that while it's said that basically half of humanity has been wiped out and the above-ground city appears to be in ruins, there seem to be no shortage of people that we see, anyway, and nothing ever seems to disrupt or change the "normal high school" we see various characters attending.

Which brings me to my next area of discussion, the characters.  Now most of them might have been somewhat interesting just because they had some rather complex backgrounds, and this usually makes for some complex characters.  For instance it was somewhat interesting to learn that Gendo had changed his last name upon marrying rather than following the tradition of having the wife change her family name.  Even though Gendo is a complete bastard, it still says something about his character and gives some indication about how he felt about his wife, which also goes to explain something about his relationship with Rei Ayanami.  Well, sort of.  Anyway, the real problem here is just the shear amount of characters who are completely messed up.  I like ensemble casts, and this is one, and the series does try to pay each of them some service, but there's just too much malfunction.  In the end, that's all that I really got out of this series.  Finding out that Rei acts like a robot because she's basically a genetically engineered clone isn't much of a revelation, and to be frank I saw that one coming even without spoilers.  Finding out Asuka is a bitch because she had a messed up childhood and a horrible mother doesn't really make her any more sympathetic.  Finding out Misato is a slut because she had bad parents didn't really do a whole lot either.  The fact that there is just so much of stuff like that kind of cheapens what it might otherwise do for a character.  Misato was a somewhat interesting character, even if she was somewhat stereotypical and accounts for a lot of the fan service.  The thing is, by the time the series gets to her background, I really wasn't in a mindset to much care anymore, because the series had already gone into so much with so many other characters.  Hell, Asuka might have been a bit more sympathetic even if she'd been the only completely messed up one, though she also would've had to cut back on the whining.  Then there's Shinji, who is pretty much just completely pathetic.  He whines a lot, seems to have no will to stand up for himself, and when he finally gets a bit of development and starts to tell people off, he ends up going right back to being a whiny loser.  There were even some indications that Shinji might swing for both teams at one point, but by then I just didn't care and could pretty much only laugh at how it played out.

Actually, I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised at how character-oriented this series was.  I was pretty much under the impression that this was just another giant mecha series, but while in some ways the series did revolve around the mecha, in others it really didn't.  Which, ironically enough, makes it like a lot of other mecha series that I've seen, though to be fair they were probably influenced by Evangelion.  There were plenty of aspects of this series I liked, which I described above in a bit more detail.  I liked the build up of mystery, I liked the ensemble cast vibe, and I liked how complex the characters were, even though this turned out to be something of a double-edged sword.

Which brings me to the main reason I could barely stand to watch this series – the constant whining.  I'm already pretty biased against anything that uses internal monologue.  To me, having the character mentally explain everything to the audience is a cheat, because part of the fun of a good show is trying to guess what a character is thinking and/or feeling.  That actually made Gendo somewhat interesting because he never really had any internal monologue to conveniently explain everything for us.  Everyone else, though, had tons of it, especially the children.  Whether it was to whine in voice only while we watched them curl into the fetal position, or to enter a strange mental world, pretty much all of it was purely exposition and it all really got on my nerves, in no small part just from the shear fact that 90% of it was to whine about something.  Yes, I know that the creator of this series was off his meds and depressed at one point and he put a lot of that experience into making this series, but to be frank he went overboard with it.  It would have been a lot better had only a few characters been messed up/depressed instead of basically everyone, but that isn't all.  Shinji in particular is a pathetic loser and I lost all sympathy for him because of it.  Characters can be sympathetic because of something messed up happening to them, and Shinji does have a bastard father who basically robbed him of a childhood, but my god the whining.  Not only did it seem somewhat disproportionate, but to be frank, I really didn't need to hear all that, and all the time given to have him whine using internal monologue was ridiculous.  And making him a complete push-over didn't make things any better.  I mean, it could have, maybe, if there had been some development from that point that actually stayed with him, but he pretty much was just always the whiney push-over and nothing else.  Another way this could have been better would have been if Shinji had actually interacted with any of the other characters who could have maybe helped him to get over some of the issues he had, even if it was kind of in a messed up way, like they almost seemed to be doing with Misato but never really went anywhere with it.  In any case, all the time given to have the characters whine to themselves is what killed my enjoyment of the series.  There actually were times I shouted, "do something!" at the screen, and I got more than a few laughs from the rest of the people watching this with me.

Then there are the other aspects of this series that didn't make a lot of sense to me.  Like why were children needed to pilot these giant mecha?  I mean, they very briefly mentioned an excuse at one point, but I never really felt that it was explained.  How is it that the mechas themselves were able to combat the invading alien "angels" when no conventional weapons could touch them?  I get that it had some technological reason, but again, I never felt this was explained very well, so all we really got were giant monsters beating each other up, played entirely straight.  Occasionally they used guns, too, and I have to admit that this is just an area in general I've never gotten the whole mecha design, because to me any guns should be built into the machines rather than just making them giant guns they can use.  In this instance it makes a little less sense because we watched all kinds of conventional military attacks being thrown at these angels by the time NERV steps in, and they're still shooting what amounts to conventional weaponry at them.  The big laser gun was about the only thing that made much sense as a separate weapon that might do something to these extremely hard to beat invaders, though making it a giant sniper rifle made me laugh a little.  Then there's the cause of all their problems, Lilith.  It is apparently what touched down in Antarctica and caused "Second Impact" (on another note, was there a "First Impact?") and what is drawing all these alien "angels" to it.  If they touch it, it is said all life on Earth will be destroyed.  How and why?  What is the nature of this threat?  If they just shot it into space and away from the planet, would all life on Earth still be destroyed?  Would shooting it into the Sun eliminate this threat?  If not, why not do either of those and save everyone the trouble?  You could still make an interesting show out of that, after all that's basically what Argento Soma was about, except the only reason all life on Earth was going to end had to do with the size of an approaching "angel" and not for any mystical, quasi-religious reason.

Oh, and what was the deal with Pen-Pen?  I mean, they mentioned he was a genetic experiment of some kind, and I realize he was basically only there for comedy relief, but did they ever mention what the reason for his creation was or why Misato was able to adopt him?

Which, I have to say, the comedy relief really helped keep this series watchable, and I will say that I think it was fairly well balanced.  The show was depressing enough as it is, but the comedy relief made it so that it wasn't completely depressing, you know, like the Battlestar Galactica reboot, which is how this series easily could have been with all the depression that was being focused on as it was.  It was also nice that they didn't go completely overboard with the comedy relief, much like the recent in name only reboot of Star Trek, or so many examples of it I've seen in other animes. 

So to be fair, Evangelion does have many strong points which I hope I covered.  The problems I have with it are the overwhelming negative aspects which I also described.  You also might notice I haven't mentioned the original series' ending up to this point either.  While I'm going to be reviewing The End of Evangelion separately, I'm hoping that it at least does a better job than the last couple of episodes of the series, which made no sense at all, and frankly didn't even fit with the rest of the series aside from just the general weirdness factor.  The only other thing I'll really say is that if the series hadn't wasted so much time with the whining exposition, and the flashback clip episode, they might have had a bit more time to give it a better ending.  Having some budget left over to animate it probably would have helped, too, but that's another matter.

I could see why this anime is liked by so many anime fans; I just don't share their feelings for it.  I will say that I am somewhat interested in the storyline, to the point that I want to see The End of Evangelion and that I'm somewhat interested in seeing if the Rebuild of Evangelion movies are any better at telling it.  But there were still a lot of times that almost made me want to stop watching, so much so that only the fact I was providing the speakers for my local anime club to watch this kept me there.  That and the fact I had some friends there riffing it with me helped.  I don't want to insult anyone who's a fan of this series, and please don’t be if you are, but I can't rate this series very high.  I just wouldn't recommend this for someone who hasn't seen it unless they're just curious to see what the big deal is, and this comes with ample warning of the boring depression aspect of it.  6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on January 23, 2015, 03:13:24 AM
Huh. You would not be the only reviewer I've heard from that doesn't care much for Evangelion. Sage has covered it at least twice on Anime Abandon. His thoughts seem to line up with yours.

In my case I have thought about it a few times, mostly when they released some of the newest stuff, but as you might expect I didn't know where to start.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on January 23, 2015, 09:13:09 AM
Most anime fans in general seem to like it, to the point it's almost anathema to say anything bad about it.  There is some depth to the story and characters that the series has and the movies don't, but not enough for me to get past the characters' messed up natures, Shinji in particular.  I guess it was worth watching, mainly just to see what everyone was on about, and because the series was influential to much that has followed.  As for where to start, if you'd asked me not that terribly long ago, I'd have said the movies without hesitation.  But based on what's been seen so far, it's actually possible that the movies are a sequel to, rather than a reboot of the series.  So I'd actually recommend you start with the series.  Plus then you can experience the messed up ending and witness what happens when a studio's animation budget runs out before the series is over.  ;D
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on January 23, 2015, 03:28:50 PM
So noted. If I ever find a copy, I prefer having a physical copy of something when possible, I'll probably pick it up.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: TNC on January 23, 2015, 05:41:54 PM
There's the Rebuild of Evangelion movies (three I think) which are are pretty much an abbreviated version of the series.  They did change some things (such as the designs of some of the angels), from what I've read the characters are a little more stable (or at least happier) in the movies (though that means they frak up worse when crap hits the fan).  I've only seen the first two movies (Evangelion 1.11 You Are [Not] Alone (IIRC) and Evangelion 2.22 You Can [Not] Advance (or something like that).  The visual style is also updated and cleaned up some.

It's been a very long time since I watched this series, but I remember being very confused by it and not liking it that much.  I like the movies a little better, I guess just because they're more recent in my mind.  The action and everything is nice, but other than that...  This series' complex plot and WTF ending has it's own trope on TVtropes: The Gainax Ending (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GainaxEnding) (named after the production studio that made it). (Which says that the ending in the last movie was the originally intended ending of the show.) If I were to compare this series to anything, it would be Pacific Rim, but with a completely indecipherable ending...
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on January 24, 2015, 10:14:15 PM
Slayers
(26 episode series)

While not a horrible anime series, it definitely isn't good.  This is more one of those boring shows that tries to be funny and occasionally manages to be, kind of like Ah! My Goddess, only without a group like the Motor Club to make things slightly interesting.  I can honestly say that after a few episodes I would have given up on this series.  But as it turns out, I'm the sound guy for the local anime club, and this was one of the series they elected to watch this semester.

Now to be fair, this series does have its moments where it actually succeeds at being funny, whether intentionally or not.  It's obvious that this series doesn't take itself entirely seriously, and it frequently goes over the top with things and breaks the fourth wall.  The thing is, a lot of the things that are supposed to be funny, like say main character Lina Inverse's eating habits, generally aren't.  There are also a few other moments that lend themselves very well to being riffed and just generally being easy to make fun of.  Bad voice acting was one of those things, and interjecting "so when do I get paid?" after an example of it was a fairly easy way to get a few laughs.  Then there was a fight toward the end of the series that happened to fit very well with a YTMND that consisted of a loop of Harry Plinkett saying “I’m a fuckin’ badass” and “titty cleavage,” which my friends and I quoted over and over during said fight scene.  You'll probably have had to have seen this series to know what I'm talking about, so if you haven't, don't worry if you don't get this joke because frankly it isn't worth it to watch just to find out. 

Unfortunately, for the most part this series was just plain boring.  Usually this was when the series actually got into its plot, which was a very typical quest plot for what was a very typical medieval magic fantasy story.  This is actually one of the things I think of when I think "generic anime," mostly because it seems like there are a lot of them, which I hope to never ever watch.  There's some magical big bad who wants to take over the world (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8u7px_GzWQ) and some random hero(ine) with some kind of special skill slowly gathers up allies and goes on side-quests to gain those allies as well as experience.  And since this one tries to be funny most of the time, hijinks ensue.  Oh, and they end up fighting the big bad twice.  Kind of like a BioWare game now that I think about it. ;)

I have to say that I was relieved when this show was finally over.  It seemed like it wasn't going to end for a while, like it would just keep on going around in circles, doing the same tired old crap over and over again.  I have to wonder if part of the problem isn't that this series might not have been aimed at a younger audience.  I mean, there were more mature jokes in there, but that could have just been parental bonuses.  Either way, the humor tended to be rather childish and I tired of it rather quickly thanks to the same types of bad jokes being done constantly.

Now this isn't the most horrible anime I've seen, but it is one of the most boring ones.  Chobits still has it beat there, as well as in the "jokes that aren't funny" category, but not by a whole lot.  1/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on February 16, 2015, 11:24:37 AM
The End of Evangelion
(1997 movie)

Right up front here I'm going to warn you that this will probably be one of the most spoiler heavy reviews I've written to this point, so if you don't want to be spoiled, just go right ahead and skip this review.

Now that that's out of the way, I have to admit that I really don't understand what this movie was about.  I mean, I know it's an alternate ending to the series, and that they are essentially about the same thing.  I get that while NERV and SEELE were both apparently working to destroy the attacking "angels" and keep them from reaching Lilith that they were always planning to begin "Third Impact" all on their own, apparently.  What I don't understand is why.  It's obvious that the people speaking through the black monoliths in that weird conference room were keeping that bit of information to themselves, too, because while they told the Prime Minister that NERV was planning on ending the world in order to get the JSDF to attack it, they apparently left out the part that they were planning on doing the same thing.  Actually the only reason they seemed to have it in for NERV, or more specifically Gendo, was because Gendo wanted to do it in a slightly different way so he could be reunited with his wife.  And yet they had the JSDF kill everyone in sight.  I don't understand that either, but since I was technically in the military at one point I know from experience that most of the people in it would probably pretty resistant to the idea of killing fleeing and defenseless people and children, let alone acting so nonchalantly about it.  Of course why Gendo didn't better prepare NERV headquarters when he knew an assault was coming is another thing that doesn't make sense.  There was one guard at the entrance and that warship they had in the big lake underground ended up only being used as a big thing for Asuka to throw.  Then there's the fact that the SEELE people had all the EVA pilots marked for death when they apparently needed Unit 01 to initiate Third Impact.

Of course, maybe I missed something.  I still don’t get why any of them wanted to end all life on Earth and turn every living creature into Tang to begin with.  In fact I was pretty much under the impression that they were trying to prevent that.  There was a lot going on, though, so maybe I just missed something.  Which, while I appreciate complex stories and all, I just didn't understand this one.

I also don’t get the characters.  Shinji is a whiny bitch and I never sympathized with his character.  During this movie, he basically curled up into a ball after he'd finished jerking off over Asuka (which the wiki article almost makes sound like it he had no choice in the matter).  Misato, being awesome even if personally she's as fucked up as the rest of them, saves his ass, and apparently also has some kind of messed up feelings for him.  Why she'd want such a pathetic loser is beyond me, but then he's also still a child technically, and that's a little messed up anyway.  But I'm getting off track here.  What I was getting at is that he's such a pathetic loser in this movie that I really wanted Misato to pistol whip him, because while she was risking everything and ended up dying to save his ass, he was pretty much just being a whiny emo bitch, crying about how no one understood him and how he didn't really want to live.  Then there's Asuka, who's just a bitch, period.  And she also apparently wants to die, because at the end of the movie, when Shinji is reliving his weird dream of choking her to death, not only does she not resist, but when he can't do it she calls him pathetic.  And then there's pretty much everyone else.  In fact, the only people with the will to live seem to be the random supporting characters who have always been there to provide us with whatever technobabble needed to be expositioned to us for the episode.  Of course, we did get to see that Gendo was pretty much the same kind of whiny emo his son was, he just apparently held it in better.  In the end, though, pretty much the only characters I cared much about as characters were the supporting characters who actually wanted to live.  Well, there was that awesome fight scene Asuka had against the "production line" EVAs, that was pretty cool.  Especially with as hurt as she was she was able to move her disemboweled and unpowered Unit 02 on hate alone.  I couldn't help but think a bit of Khan's death scene at the end of The Wrath of Khan as she reached up into the sky, constantly repeating, "I'll kill you."

As far as the actual end, I can't say I much understand that, either.  It apparently had something to do with Shinji's acid trip after he was absorbed by that huge Lilith/Rei ... thing.  (Vera!? ;) )  As in the original ending that showed us just how much it sucks when a show's budget runs out, Shinji apparently spontaneously decides to live and whatever the hell was going on ends, and Lilith/Rei literally falls to pieces.  Then Shinji, Asuka, and Rei spontaneously turn from Tang back into people, conveniently with clothes.  Asuka seems to have gotten the short end of the stick, though, as she apparently has still lost her eye, and apparently her split arm is still split and only being held together by a bandage wrap.  Apparently the implication here is supposed to be that anyone can turn back from Tang if they want to, but I'm still left wondering just what it is I watched and don't really understand the vast majority of it.

Actually, I don't really understand why people liked this show all that much.  Most of the characters aren’t really what I'd consider likable, which would require being sympathetic or at least being somewhat badass to offset a lack of more normal likability.  I know some people probably do find them likable and/or badass, but the only main character I really liked all that much was Misato, even as messed up as she was.  Pretty much all the other main characters just grated on me, Shinji most of all.  Asuka was pretty much only cool during that short period she was kicking ass before she was impaled and eaten.  Otherwise she was a prima donna and a bitch, when she wasn't busy being a whiny loser like Shinji.   While the movie thankfully didn't have any extra time to get too boring, most of the series was.  I guess there were the fight scenes, but really that isn't enough to carry a show any more than fan service can.  I am somewhat hopeful that the movies will be a bit better, as the first one seemed to be somewhat of an improvement, but as for the original series and this alternate ending, I really didn't much care for it.  The only thing The End of Evangelion has going for it is that it was better than the odd clip show that was the original ending of the series.  5/10.

Note:  Since I've written this I've learned that apparently Seele and Gendo were adherents to a religion that all life on Earth was a mistake and had to be returned to primordial ooze or something like that.  It doesn't improve the score any, though, especially since the show failed to convey this and only learned about it by reading about the show later on.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on February 18, 2015, 10:36:20 AM
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
(14 episode series)

And this is pretty much one of those shows that manages to both annoy and entertain me at the same time.  That and be confusing as hell.

What I liked about this series is that its story was actually kind of interesting.  It revolves entirely around an a-typical high school student, Haruhi Suzumiya, who apparently has the power to destroy and re-create the world.  She is odd to say the least, and treats people like objects.  She also seems to enjoy molesting people, or at least one person in particular.  Still, I can't help but laugh at the idea that the world actually would revolve around such a self-centered individual.  Then there's the other aspect of this series I like, which is the comedy.  There is definitely plenty to laugh at, whether it was intentional or not.  The antics of Mikuru Asahina in particular were both funny and annoying, although the whole moe-blob thing was intentional and even lampshaded early on.  Her patheticness and cutesy little voice somehow managed to make me laugh and annoy the hell out of me at the same time, and that's something, I guess.

As for the story, as I mentioned, it was somewhat interesting.  It wasn't hugely interesting, but it was interesting.  I wasn't really interested by the thought exercise that revolved around Haruhi and her mysterious capabilities so much as what was going on as a result of it.  I guess I just found the strangeness of it all to be appealing.

Then there were the characters.  Kyon, the narrator, was pretty effective as someone the audience could relate to.  He was pretty much an everyman, though he probably took all the weirdness that was going on around him and the expository explanation that was given to him by all the other members of Haruhi's SOS Brigade a lot more in stride then most people probably would.  He also seems to be something of a ladies man, because it seems like every female member of the SOS Brigade seems to be attracted to him on some level, and the feeling seems to be mutual.  I mean, he even seems to have something for the emotionless robot girl, Yuki, and right back at him, I guess.  His attraction to Mikuru is kind of the obvious 'ship, being as she's the designated Ms. Fanservice and all.  Hell, even the only other male character in the SOS Brigade, Itsuki, seems like he has a thing for Kyon.  Then there's Haruhi herself, who also has a thing from him, although he doesn't seem to make up his mind about her until the last episode in a moment I'm sure everyone was supposed to think was cute.  I just laughed, personally, the cliché of it all.  I will say, though, that Haruhi really wasn't all that interesting herself in my opinion.  Her appeal was mainly in her eccentricity.  She actually seems like someone who could use some psychological help, but luckily she's a funny kind of crazy instead of a scary kind of crazy.  Except of course that she can apparently destroy the world.

That does beg the question, though, why don't they just kill her?  I know that she's not visibly a threat, and while she's amoral and likes to treat the moe-blob like she's a doll, it wouldn't really be the most humane thing to kill her, but it would be the pragmatic thing to do if she's really such a threat to humanity.  Of course, this is a comedy, and I wasn't supposed to think of that, but I really am a horrible person. ;)

I guess this was an okay series, and while it's not a favorite by any means, it was okay to watch.  Mostly it's just fluff with a bit of philosophizing and plenty of comedy.  The series was apparently broadcast out of chronological order just to make things a bit more confusing I guess, and that's the order I watched it in.  I know there's some argument among fans about whether it's better to show in broadcast order or chronological order, so if you watch this you'll pretty much have to decide for yourself.  Either way there are guides online you can look up to help you watch it in whichever order you decide to.  I think the main argument for watching it in broadcast order is that it presents everything the way the people who made it intended to have the information in it revealed.  Things might make more sense in chronological order, though, so it's up to you which argument is better.  7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on February 22, 2015, 08:49:43 AM
Fist of the North Star
(1986 movie)

Ah yes, another anime "classic."  Well, I can't say this was really to my liking either, at least not in the traditional sense.  In pretty much every way, this anime is the stereotype that everyone and his uncle loves to make fun of, and that's pretty much where I derived my enjoyment from. 

It has a pretty basic story.  A nuclear war has happened, and it pretty much leaves the landscape and people looking like something you'd expect to find in a Mad Max movie.  Actually pretty much all the guys look like some variation of Lord Humungus, the only real variations being the outlandish armor and hair style they happen to have, and how big in relation to one another they are.  Apparently the nuclear war has caused men to grow into giants even though there's a distinct lack of food and water.  Of course they can also glow and pull off impossible fighting moves that can bring down skyscrapers on their own heads that won't even make them flinch.  On the other hand, most people seem to be made of pudding, and certain "skilled" warriors can just stab them or cut them to shreds using nothing but their fingers, or better yet, they can use some made-up martial art fighting move to touch all the right pressure points to just make people spontaneously explode.  So really the only way to enjoy this movie is just to turn your brain off and accept it as the over-the-top kung-fu action flick that it is.  Otherwise you're bound to notice things like how characters who are strong enough to shred all their clothing by just flexing their muscles will suddenly have them back again, and how the bloody mess of the person they just made explode is suddenly not there anymore.  I'm actually reminded of Sengoku Basara in just how over-the-top and manly this show is, and it doesn’t even care what you might think about it, dammit.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, the story, I kind of got off track there.  Like I said, the story is extremely basic.  The protagonist, Kenshiro, loses the love of his life (who was actually just betrothed to him by his would-be father-in-law) to his former best friend.  Apparently humanity is divided into sects of North and South, and the two sides have slowly been moving toward peaceful coexistence.  Ken is from the North, and his old buddy who backstabs him, Shin, is from the South.  The chick he was supposed to marry, Yuria, is also from the South.  So Shin kicks his ass and takes Yuria for himself.  Ken also has a couple of evil brothers who basically want to be the special successor of the martial art style they've all been learning from a master of the art, and one of them set up the whole thing while the other just decided he wanted to take over the heavens, starting with the planet (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8u7px_GzWQ).  So that one kills their master while the other dumps the mostly already dead Ken off a cliff so he can take his place as successor to this martial art style.  Some time later, Ken appears out of no where to save some innocent kiddies and goes on a roaring rampage of revenge.  And that's pretty much all there is to it.  And Ken manages to not even really win in the end.  He doesn't kill his asshat older brother Raoh, and Yuria just kind of disappears, like she found hammer space or something.  Ken just ends up wandering everywhere to try to find her again, but in the end he doesn't.  Logic would've suggested she ended up somewhere in the rubble of all those skyscrapers Ken and Raoh knocked over during their fight, but this movie is the opposite of logic.  I mean, there’s a flying horse and a ship through a skyscraper.  Logic isn’t nearly manly enough for this movie.  ;)

Reading about this movie prior to watching it, I actually elected to watch the Japanese version first because of all the flack the English dub was getting.  Having seen them both, I can't say I noted a lot of difference there.  The English dub changed the story a bit, unless the subtitled version I watched was wrong in its translation, but as far as quality, well, it sounds like a cartoon from the '70s.  It isn't the most horrible dub I've heard, but I can sort of see where people were coming from.  But honestly the Japanese dub wasn't any better.

As far as suggesting this as something to watch or not, I'd say it's only something to watch just to see and make fun of yourself.  There isn't much point to the actual movie itself since nothing of the story-line is really resolved, and there wasn't a whole lot to the story to begin with.  I will throw it a bone for the unintentional entertainment value, though.  2/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on February 23, 2015, 06:08:30 PM
New Fist of the North Star
(3 episode OVA)

A reboot rather than a sequel to the 1986 movie, this OVA manages to change a lot of the details without really changing the story.  Mostly what's different are the characters and the roles they play.  We no longer see Kenshiro's origin, and he's no longer been betrayed by his best friend or his brothers from as much as I could tell.  But there's still a big bad that has to be fought and a kidnapped woman who has to be rescued, even if it isn't his girlfriend.

To its credit, this OVA does try to improve on the old movie, and to an extent it does.  The artwork is a lot better even if the animation really isn't and the use of CGI can be somewhat distracting.  We're introduced to a sympathetic set of characters before Kenshiro is introduced rather than showing his origins, and the OVA even plays a bit with drama.  Some of it even works a little, but then it's easy to tug at heart strings by killing a child, especially a sickly one.  The story also tries to be a bit more expansive, introducing a city called "Last Land" where most of the story takes place as well as a group of fighters which has sworn itself to seal away the weapons and the secrets of the nuclear war that devastated the planet.  This OVA has also practically made Kenshiro into Superman.  For all the fights he's in, he's never actually hurt and he tends to just devastatingly defeat any enemy that fights him, no matter how many people that might be.  He also seems to have about the same sense of justice, only killing people who really seem to deserve it and committing selfless acts to help others despite having no real connection to them.

But in the end, this OVA is still just a bunch of impossibly well-muscled dudes fighting each other.  There are still two big bads Kenshiro has to fight and defeat, with the last fight stopping short of actually killing the other combatant.  There's still a busty blonde woman who is kidnapped and must be rescued, and there is still some random kid who Kenshiro feels the need to defend against anything for.  Then there's the typical over-emphasis on fighting style, with each pressure point that's touched being loudly called out with an accompanying expository description of what exactly it does.  The only difference there is that these pressure points can also be used for insta-healing instead of just making peoples' heads explode.

The characters themselves are rather bland, and the mediocre dub doesn't really help anything.  Kenshiro himself is the stereotypical mysterious short-spoken hero type, Sara is the hot chick whose purpose in life is to heal and who hates seeing violence, and the other characters are pretty much just defined by their role.  Then there's Toby, who started out somewhat sympathetic, but ended up suddenly turning into a giant douche and locked Kenshiro up, only to attempt to become sympathetic again in time for him to die.

So really if you liked the first movie, this OVA is a lot like it, just longer.  It has the same kind of fighting, more or less the same style of character design, and the same story, with just a bit of fan service and nudity thrown in for fun.  I’m sure there are people who go for that, but I’ve never been a fan of fighting anime, and this one lacks the corny charm that the original movie had.   1/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on February 28, 2015, 01:51:50 AM
Flag
(13 episode series)

While short, this was an effective, fairly good series.  The vast majority takes place in a fictitious country of Uddiyana in Central Asia, which is in the midst of a civil war between the two major religions of this country.  The United Nations has been called in to help, with its fictitious UNF military force securing and bringing order to the country's capital city.  At the time of their arrival, some of the locals made a makeshift flag from a UN flag that became a symbol for peace after a young Japanese photojournalist named Saeko Shirasu snapped an iconic picture of it.  The UN is supposed to be setting up some kind of a peace treaty that will bring a permanent cease fire to the country between the warring sides.  As one might expect, holding this flag up as a symbol made it a target and it was stolen.  A special military unit, the SDC, has been put together to recover the flag, with Saeko going along as an embedded journalist.

This is a fairly typical "documentary" style series, except of course for the fact that it's an anime.  It's a somewhat different way of telling a story, as everything is supposed to be from cameras which were on the scene recording everything that's been happening.  There's also some heavy hinting that the narrator and character Keiichi Akagi, another photojournalist, is going over all of the raw footage and editing it for us, which is also why we see his part of the story.  I have to admit that the attention to detail is pretty impressive, and I both liked and disliked this unique storytelling technique.  The reason I disliked it at times was that it could get a little obnoxious.  Since doing it in a completely realistic way would really restrict what could be seen and heard, there tended to be a lot of shots taken that realistically wouldn't have been.  That and all the camera guides and indicators superimposed over the image could get a bit annoying at times.

As for the story itself, we get to see everything that's done to recover this stolen flag.  It soon becomes apparent that there are some sinister dealings going on behind the scenes, as the terrorists end up packing some pretty serious hardware that normal terrorists wouldn't have access to, like say attack helicopters.  The UNF is also made to look pretty shady, which is a little different since anime tends to practically glorify the UN.  It brings into light the frankly quite corrupt way the UN tends to do things, and how ineffective they can be.  For instance, when their headquarters in the capitol city is taken over and occupied, none of the numerous remaining UNF forces want to do anything.  And then there's the way the upper echelon is more interested in saving face then in actually accomplishing the mission.  So when a mission they planned to recover this flag goes wrong, they try to make a scapegoat out of one of the SDC pilots involved in the operation rather than accept responsibility for themselves.  Then there's how the morning press briefings try to tell one story when the journalists who are following it know that the opposite is true.  Of course there also tends to be something of an anti-military tone to all of this, and I can't help but think that the people who made this had a somewhat unrealistic expectation out of the UNF's military strikes.  With all the complaining about collateral damage and demonizing of the UNF for it, one wonders what short of just not being there is expected.  After all, if they did leave, the country erupts into civil war again and the UNF would be blamed for leaving.  Of course this is also somewhat realistic as a reflection of the real world where the impossible is expected of the participants in any military conflict.

Most of the time, though, we follow Saeko as she hangs around with the team tasked with finding and retaking the flag in time for the all-important peace treaty signing, and the personnel she documents are very sympathetic.  While somewhat stereotypical, especially the Japanese pilot, they were, for the most part, very human and it was easy to like them.  None of them was really singled out much as comedy relief, though the mechanic could at times be a comedic foil to Saeko since he often took pictures of her at awkward moments as a kind of karmatic way to get back at her for always taking pictures of them.  It was also nice to see a female commander who was strong-willed, competent, cared about her people as much as her mission, and who wasn't ever put on the spot in any way because of her gender, unlike say in Argento Soma.

Keiichi Akagi is also very easy to like, though he isn't seen a whole lot in the series until closer to the end.  He actually comes off as somewhat stereotypically the dashing adventurer type, especially the few times we get to see him on screen – he very much looks the part.  The other free-lance journalists he hangs out with seem oddly cooperative with each other considering the competitive field they are in.  Mostly his part of the story is there to glorify photojournalism.  To be fair, some of the things they accomplish can be pretty cool, but this tends to really glorify them while tending to skim over their less admirable traits.  His part of the story is also where some of the hammiest scenes come from, in particular one of the scenes where he is initially trying to reach Saeko during a battle both of them are documenting.  At one point he stops trying to reach her and instead shouts all kinds of hammy encouragements at her to keep taking pictures, completely reversing his earlier shouts of how stupid she was to risk everything like that.  I think that scene would have actually been way more effective had he not said anything, but that's me.

And now comes the part I've been purposely putting off until the end – the mechas.  As the other "with a difference" aspect of this series, what is otherwise a show about war journalism apparently felt the need to add, "but with mechas" to its pitch/description.  While not done in an overly obnoxious way, I still can't help but think it's a bit silly that they felt the need to make this yet another mecha anime.  God knows how many of them I've watched up to this point.  In my opinion that aspect of it brings this series down a little bit, especially since these mechas, called HAVWKs (or "havocs" phonetically) are depicted as basically being super-weapons.  It's true that at least one of them is destroyed and that they tend not to come out of fights entirely unscathed, the amount of punishment they can take and their capabilities can at times come off as pretty ridiculous.  I think it could have been a pretty good show without the mechas, but in some ways that’s what makes the story somewhat unique.  It really helps, though, that the focus is on the characters and not the mechas.

The series does have something of a downer ending, though.  It isn't really unexpected considering the extremely heavy foreshadowing given by the narrator.  While a little anticlimactic, I can't help but note that real life just tends to be that way sometimes, and this series has made a point of trying to make this show as realistic as possible given the subject matter.  It may not be the best thing ever, but it's still a good series and I'd recommend it.  I'm thinking that I'll actually add it to my over-all recommendation list.  8/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on March 05, 2015, 02:09:46 PM
Gall Force
(4 films and 5 episodes of OVA)

I'm combining everything that made up the "canon" Gall Force series into one review, because frankly, it's going to be a short enough review as it is.  The thing is, everything about this series can be summed up as one part space opera and one part fan service.  The entire franchise revolves around the same seven female characters, and let's just say that the action tends to be broken up by frequent shower breaks, and that one character in particular tends to wander around naked or at least mostly naked on at least two occasions.  Actually, the first three movies are all about a really weird alien that is actually some kind of living goo, and its mutually destructive war with a human-like species that happens to be made up entirely of women.  It’s hinted that they use artificial means of reproduction in case you were wondering, but for the most part this is just an excuse for fan service and to play up the cutesy "moé" aspect as much as possible.  The fun part is when they all have dreams about a male version of one of themselves and act all embarrassed to wake up hugging and nearly making out with each other.  After all, with no males and all... ;)

The point of the first three movies, in between mood swings of killing people in horrible ways and trying to make us laugh, is to establish that humans are the product of a genetically engineered union between this race of women and the goo monsters.  They do this by having one of the goo monsters rape two of the women.  One dies and the other gets preggers.  Conveniently they are able to just beam the embryo out and it rapidly grows up into an adult male version of the chick that was knocked up.  One of the moe characters escapes to the eventually to be Earth with the dude in order to be Adam and Eve while everyone else dies.  The war kills everyone and humanity is supposed to be like the future legacy of the two alien races.  Part of this includes leaving a computer record of all their technology for when humans are finally advanced enough for space travel.

Then, much like Battlestar Galactica, all of what happened before happened again, only now the unwinnable war was between  humans and their machine creations, which just happened to resemble the goo aliens when they were wearing their mecha suits.  There is much proselytizing about how there should be a way for humans and the machines to peacefully co-exist, but the machines (led ironically by a computer called "Gorn") seems pretty intent on killing all humans no matter what, so suggesting to the humans to seek a peaceful solution is just as pointless as begging both sides in the first three movies to stop fighting each other.  Naturally the war ends, with the reincarnations of the seven main characters showing up again to win the war.

Then it happens all over again in the last two OVA episodes.  Gorn and the seven main characters are once again reincarnated out of nothing and Gorn does a pretty good job of killing all humans, who have once again decided to trust computers a lot more than they should have if they'd been genre-savvy.  Basically the whole point is to have the main characters on the run once more, constantly under attack.  Then the OVA just ends, with them managing to escape but to an unknown fate.  Obviously whoever worked on this franchise meant for it to continue in some way, but it looks like it never did, seeing as it was made in the late '80s and the only other things to be done with it were a reboot and some video games.

Probably the most fun to be had out of all these movies and OVAs involves the many shower breaks the female characters take.  Even in post-apocalyptic Earth during the war with the machines appears to have a plentiful supply of showers in its ruins, specifically so the women can take shower breaks.  So basically this is all just a cheesy space opera with plenty of fan service, which means that it's only worth it to watch if you can have fun with that.  1/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on March 05, 2015, 04:45:14 PM
The first part (pre-Earth) was covered by Sage. He summed it up as an Alien knock-off with a nBSG ending. Seems that last part was very accurate.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on March 09, 2015, 11:42:13 AM
Dirty Pair
(26 episode series)

This series is basically your average '80s buddy cop show mixed with Charlie's Angels.  In fact, the title pair of women actually call themselves the Lovely Angels.  Despite being the show's excuse for almost constant fan service, the two women actually do prove to be quite intelligent and quite capable.  The problem is that they tend to go a bit overboard at times, and even if they don't mean to, they tend to cause a massive amount of damage for a good chunk of the jobs they do, hence the "Dirty Pair" nickname they are more commonly known by, much to their chagrin.  This is the basis of most of the comedy in the series, which really doesn't take itself seriously at all.  Not even when they accidentally blow up an entire planet.

The series is very episodic in nature, and there was only one story which apparently turned out to be long enough to split between two episodes.  The missions the Lovely Angels go on tend to be very random, and each episode isn't always ended in a very conclusive manner – we're just supposed to accept that they made it out of whatever situation they were in at the end of a given episode.  Like in one episode they rescued a bunch of engineers being held in a prison.  The engineers made it out okay, but the Lovely Angels missed their ride and the episode literally ended with the two of them blasting away at all the guards from the top of a prison wall.  It wasn't even a real job and was set up by Kei, the red-haired Angel as a favor for Yuri, the dark-haired Angel, because she believed an old flame was one of the engineers being held.  Naturally, in the next episode, everything was normal and it was just the usual banter between the Angels' boss and the pair before being sent on their next mission.  This isn't a bad thing necessarily, but this should give you an idea of what you're getting into as far as the story goes, because there is no overall plot for the series.

Actually in some ways there's a little similarity to Excel Saga in that there are some occasional in-jokes that show up during an episode depending on what the theme of an episode is.  For instance, in a treasure-hunting episode, the Angels are trapped in an ancient booby trap and at one point a skeleton dressed like Indiana Jones and impaled on a set of spikes just like out of one of those movies briefly appears.  In another episode, a model of the original Enterprise briefly appears on screen.

I can see why this series is considered a classic by some, and to be fair, it hasn't aged all that poorly from what I can tell.  I have a certain fondness for the series, too, and this has only grown on repeat viewings.  It has plenty of '80s corn, but that's part of the charm, in my opinion.  If I really had to knock it for anything, it's that some of the episodes have obvious filler in them, and at times it can get a bit repetitive watching them, at least when you marathon through them.  The other, much more minor complaint is that a disproportionally large amount of humor seems to be derived from the Angels being sluts.  Which is to say it doesn't bother me all that terribly much, but having them constantly go on about how they have so many boyfriends or how they hope men they work with or even men they are sent after to capture are young and attractive got old very fast.  On the plus side, when random male douches show up and try to force themselves on them, the Angels tend to beat the crap out of them instead of being helpless.  Actually, when they get captured, which doesn't happen a whole lot, they tend to be able to get out of it on their own instead of relying on others to rescue them.  Of course, they are supposed to be the protagonists, so that helps.

Oh, and despite one of them being actually named Yuri, if you're thinking that the two of them might be partners in more than one way, I'm just going to disappoint you now.  Actually, for that matter, most of the fan service consists of them being in their normal revealing outfits, or a towel immediately after a shower with the usual discretion shots you'd expect of something that aired on TV.  So being the pervert I am, that was something of disappointment for me, too.  What?  You've got your tastes and I have mine.  So what if I like seeing cartoon boobs?  (BTW, watch episode 24 if you're into that kind of thing too. ;) )

Anyway, this series is charming in its own way, and I, too, would call it a classic.  It isn't a complex series, but it was fun to watch.  The characters were a likable kind of goofy, and their "pets" tended to be kind of interesting too.  One was a small robot that sounded a little like a dog's chew toy, and the other was a giant genetically engineered cat that actually looked more like a bear.  They were also somewhat capable and competent, although the cat was a wuss, but they also did double duty as the comedy relief of the comedy series. 

Overall, this was an okay series, and I would recommend it.  If you liked Excel Saga there's a chance you might like this, too, even though it isn't nearly as over the top.  7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on March 09, 2015, 03:12:16 PM
This one was referenced on TNG more than once. Mostly as background stuff.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on March 09, 2015, 04:05:05 PM
Yep, because Rick Sternbach is a huge fan of it.  It even became something of an in joke with other staff members, who would sometimes write something along the lines of "and this is where Rick Sternbach would make a Kei and Yuri reference" in text blocks that were supposed to be illegible on screen.   8)  Of course there were plenty of other anime references thanks to there being more than one anime fan on staff, which is cooler yet, because in TNG's case, it was during a time when anime wasn't well known in the US and there weren't any distributors for it the way there is now.

Also it's kind of funny when you think about that fact that Star Trek is referenced heavily by Dirty Pair, and Dirty Pair is referenced heavily in Star Trek.  :lol:
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on March 14, 2015, 12:40:53 AM
Dirty Pair: Affair on Nolandia
(single episode OVA)

If you've seen the series, this OVA sequel is pretty much just more of the same.  About the only new thing about it is that it has an English dub available, and that the giant cat, Mughi, has changed colors.  Also both Mughi and Nammo, the title characters' pet robot, don't play nearly as much of a role as they did in the series.  Oh, and the Lovely Angels have a new ship, apparently.

The story focuses almost entirely on the Lovely Angels and their antics once they've been assigned to a case.  Of course it might only seem to be a bit more than usual because this OVA is longer than a standard episode despite following essentially the same format.  Basically, something odd happens and the Lovely Angels are called up by their boss to resolve the situation.  We don't really see the boss this time, and the Angels are already on the way to the planet of the week.  In this case we have two seemingly unrelated situations developing, namely that a woman the Lovely Angels were hired to help out has been killed and her daughter has gone missing, and a space plane has crashed on landing due to some kind of telepathic interference from a little girl.  It really isn't all that hard to figure out that the little telepathic girl and the missing daughter are one and the same.  From there the pair goes through the typical difficulty with corrupt local officials while being helped out by some honest ones.  In this case, though, the mission, which looked to be successful, actually ends in failure, with everyone on the planet being killed.  In this particular case, only a large plateau area of the planet was habitable, and the telepathic girl had a hand in basically killing everyone by collapsing the plateau.  The Angels even deliberate a bit somberly for all of a few minutes as to whether this instance of mass deaths was their fault or not.  And then the OVA ends with the typical light mood that really isn't all that appropriate considering what just happened.  It's kind of like that episode in the series proper where they managed to destroy an entire planet and everyone on it, and then joke about it later.

The characters are the same as in the series.  The Lovely Angels are still the same shallow yet capable women.  On the plus side, there's a bit more in way of fan service in this OVA, so hurray for OVAs. ;) 

As for the dub vs. sub, really it's just going to be a matter of taste.  From what I understand, the same actresses portrayed Yuri and Kei for everything except the latest reboot of the franchise. I just happen to prefer not having to read subtitles while I'm watching.  That being said, the dub isn't really bad, but it does sound a bit awkward and unnatural in places.

Overall, I feel very indifferent about this OVA.  You could probably go without seeing it unless you're just desperate for the full Dirty Pair experience or something. 6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on March 16, 2015, 11:06:57 AM
Dirty Pair: Project Eden
(1986 movie)

Being an actual movie and all, one might hope for an increase in animation quality and maybe even a somewhat more involved storyline.  Well, do not look to hope, it has forsaken this movie.  Now the animation isn't horrible or anything and neither is the story exactly, it's just that everything is pretty much on par with the original TV series.  What that translates into for this movie is a long drawn out storyline that actually made it a little difficult to remember what the Lovely Angels were originally sent to do when the movie was finally getting close to being over.  The movie tried to make up for this a little by filling up time with musical action sequences, some of which were in slow motion and none of which had any dialog.  Basically it was like someone had made some AMVs and stuck them in the middle of the movie.

As for that actual story, it revolved entirely around some strange lizard creatures attacking some kind of unobtanium plants, killing everyone in sight, and running off with the unobtanium.  There are two main factions on this planet, one of which is capitalist and the other communist, and both sides are convinced the other is behind these destructive attacks.  The Angels are sent in to figure out what's going on.  It doesn't take that long for the movie to reveal that some mad scientist type is behind it all, apparently seeking some kind of next stage in evolution or some crap along those lines.  These creatures are basically the result of him zapping some kind of a fossil with a weird-looking vagina eye energy ray. 

While the Angels take a brief side trip to one of the factories that had been ruined in one of these creature attacks, they meet a thief who very obviously is also supposed to double as a love interest.  Naturally this happens when the Angels are taking a bath, since there were conveniently a couple of tubs available right next to each other in some completely ruined room which also apparently had hot running water available to them.  As you might expect, our thief/love interest, Carson D. Carson, falls into the tubs, both of them.  He even manages to feel Kei up.  And for me, this is where mediocre started to go downhill, because from this point on the Angels suddenly aren't as capable as they always otherwise have been, basically just so this thief can prove his worth to the Angels.  It's a classic example of making one character look better at the expense of others.  They also do that whole love/hate thing between Kei and Carson, where the two act like they don't like each other even though it's really obvious that they're supposed to have a thing for each other.

As it turns out, Carson is looking to get back at the mad scientist and his butler for stealing some very rare wine which he stole himself fair and square.  The movie then quickly becomes a fight between the mad scientist, his butler, and the lizard creatures against Carson and the Angels, which is why it became somewhat difficult to remember why the Angels were even there to begin with.  The movie, being oh so stereotypical in pretty much every way imaginable, manages to have its cake and eat it too by having Carson not only make the heroic sacrifice, but live through it so he and Kei can get their kinky thing on.  Of course, this wouldn't be an episode of angels without things ending in disaster, so the movie ends with the Angels having unwittingly unleashed a ton of those lizard creatures on the entire planet.

When it comes to the characters, there really isn't a lot to say.  The Angels are pretty much the same as in their previous outings, except that in this movie they become somewhat less capable after Carson shows up.  Mughi is the only other character from the original series to show up in this movie, and his role is very limited.  Nammo didn't even turn up at all, which disappointed me a little because I always liked her better than Mughi anyway.  Carson is a very stereotypical sympathetic thief archtype who we're just supposed to like.  I have to admit that I liked some of his responses to the Angels, but otherwise he was somewhat boring.

As for the fan service, well, it's pretty much like the TV series, which is again disappointing if you're a perv like I am.  Pretty much all of it was the teasing type that didn't really allow you to see anything, except for the very Bond movie-like opening and one scene where Yuri gets her makeshift shorts torn.  To make things worse, there is plenty of fan dis-service, mostly from the lizard creatures.  The thing about them is that their long neck and lack of a distinct head was somewhat phallic-like, which wasn't helped much by their tendency to spew some kind of white sticky substance from their mouths.  Later versions of these creatures all had some nice racks and asses, but with the typical anime anatomy, though in this case it wasn't a bad thing.  Aside from being lizard creatures, they also lacked a typical head, and had something resembling a head nestled where the breast bone would normally be on a human, though their mouths were where the neck would normally be.

I don't hate this movie exactly, and I don’t even regret seeing it, it's just that it's not an experience I ever intend to repeat.  I can honestly say that this is the worst outing of the Dirty Pair franchise that I've seen to this point.  The only fun to really be had in watching it is in how very riffable this movie is.  3/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on March 25, 2015, 12:50:18 PM
Dirty Pair
(10 episode OVA)

While this OVA is listed as a sequel to the original series, with all the differences from the series, I'd say that this is closer to a reboot.  The 3WA building is different, a new ship, and a distinct lack of Nammo highlight the main differences.  Other than that, it tries to be very much in the spirit of the original series, with the two lovely Angels, Kei and Yuri, going on random missions every week while trading the usual shallow jibes at each other.  It also tries to be funny, but most of the time it doesn't succeed.

I'd honestly compare this OVA to the Slayers series that I saw recently.  It has lousy voice acting that accounts for most of the laughs to be had while watching it, and while at times it seems like it's intended for a more mature audience, most of the time it comes off as a lame Saturday morning cartoon aimed at kids.  The vast majority of the humor also comes off as forced, and I honestly feel that while the series wasn't exactly made of awesome itself, it certainly had a charm that this OVA lacks.  It also actually managed to be funny on purpose.  Just as an example, in the series the Angels managed to destroy a planet completely by accident and through no real fault of their own, and this was actually a little funny in a dark way.  In this OVA, the Angels destroy no less than two planets and it manages to not be funny at all, even though the OVA was trying to play it up as funny.  Of course at its start, the OVA also really tried to play up the James Bond aspect of the series by featuring a Dr. Q who comes up with random spy weapons which usually fail to work properly.  Again this was supposed to be funny but just wasn't.

This OVA is boring and very skippable, and I recommend that you do exactly that.  I was going to rate this a zero, but +1 point for the random appearance of the Enterprise as a giant transforming mecha.  1/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on March 29, 2015, 03:12:53 PM
Dirty Pair: Flight 005 Conspiracy
(single episode OVA)

After watching the other OVAs and the movie, this OVA is like a breath of fresh air.  While it seems to be a continuation of the 10 episode OVA, it isn't nearly as corny, except in the beginning when the Lovely Angels, Kei and Yuri, are getting their traditional beginning of the episode briefing.  Once again the joke is supposed to be how horrible the "Dirty Pair" are, though in this case their boss and the Angels almost seem like they aren't all that familiar with each other.  In any case, the joke, which wasn't really all that funny, ends up falling flat because the way the story unfolds, the Angels are shown to be competent and the destruction of a large military station is the fault of a person they rescued, not their own.  And for once this isn't really played for laughs either.  Actually, outside from some comedy relief early in the OVA, this outing is a lot more serious in tone than pretty much any of the other Dirty Pair animes I've seen.

The story itself seems to be a bit of a rip-off from the only two-part episode from the original series.  A space liner explodes and while it was supposed to have been fully loaded, there is no crew or passenger manifest available, and either no one on board had anyone to miss them, or all of their families for whatever reason never bothered to file any kind of legal or civil action as a result of the "accident."  The Angels are sent to investigate both this, and the disappearance of a scientist and his family, and as you might guess the two incidents are connected.  Where this becomes a bit of a rip off of a previous episode is that it turns out that no one was aboard the liner to begin with.  That aspect aside, the story actually was marginally interesting, with the Angels investigating and people trying to kill them almost every step of the way.  Oh, and as an added bonus, there are space Nazis.

Naturally the Angels manage to successfully complete their mission, and while there ends up being a significant amount of collateral damage and loss of life, as I mentioned before, this isn't played for laughs.  Actually this outing seems more like a traditional space opera than the light-hearted girls-with-guns action comedy that it's always tried to be.  I'm not saying this is a negative thing exactly, but I am noting the difference in tone from the rest of the franchise that I've seen up to this point.  The ending actually underlines this difference because while usually an episode would end on a light note, even if it wasn't entirely appropriate, this time the Angels lamented the loss of people who had helped them along the way while the people they'd rescued mourned the loss of a loved one who had died to save them.

There isn't a whole lot to be said about the characters in this one.  The Angels' boss is seen only in the beginning, and he's pretty much the same angry police chief stereotype that he's always been.  The Angels start out about the same as they've always been as well, teasing each other and going on about men they find attractive.  Of course even early on there were some differences I noted, like Yuri being more of a wuss and the Angels not getting nearly as upset about their "Dirty Pair" nickname as in the series.  As the story progressed, they became a lot more serious themselves, and stopped taking the usual gibes at each other.  There also wasn't nearly as much of the usual fan service from the Angels or any of the other characters.

I wouldn't say this OVA was especially good or anything, but it was definitely an improvement over the other OVAs and the movie.  It might be worth watching if you liked the series.  5/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on March 31, 2015, 10:38:30 AM
Dirty Pair Flash
(16 episode OVA)

This is probably a great example of what a bad reboot looks like.  Reboots are pretty much just an excuse to take a basic concept but change details, and that's exactly what happened here.  This isn't always a bad thing, and in a lot of cases the reboot can actually be better than the original.  This isn't one of those cases.

On the surface, making Kei and Yuri hate each other at first isn't really a bad idea per say, especially in light of the comedic nature of this anime.  It isn't even all that far off from the way the original characters tended to trade barbs occasionally.  But this, like so many other things in this reboot, are amped up to eleven, and manage to not actually be funny.  It also doesn't help that they used voice actresses with some of the most annoying voices I've heard to play the main characters.  Aside from the annoyance factor, this also means a joke that might have actually managed to get a chuckle becomes irritating when told by a voice that sounds like nails on a chalkboard.  Actually the fan service is probably the thing I found most amusing.  You know, the standard stuff.  Like Yuri being in a sailor outfit when she's first introduced, and their clothes being torn to just a few gravity and physics defying shreds that manage to just barely hide the bits they aren't going to bother drawing in anyway, which we actually get to see thanks to the magical girl transformation sequence which dissolves their clothing and forms new fan service outfits over their naked bodies.  Don't worry, no nipples to traumatize us with.  I do kind of like how they had their cake and ate it too, though, because not only did they get the transformation sequence, but they lampshaded it by having a group of dirty old men enjoy the stripperific display.  Of course the somewhat disturbing thing is that both Angels are actually 17, which would make them both under-aged, which is a little worse seeing as how Yuri is obviously supposed to be a slut.  Okay, they aren't that under-aged, but still, oh Japan...

Gone is the very episodic nature of the original series.  Which is to say that while there is more than one unrelated mission, they stretch out over several episodes, and they'd only make sense in sequential order since the OVA follows all the team-forming stages the Lovely Angels go through, even if the "storming" stage tends to stretch on somewhat indefinitely.  Somewhat unfortunately, also gone is the level of competence the Lovely Angels had in the original series, and as a result their "Dirty Pair" nickname is somewhat more deserved.

Another area this anime suffers is in animation quality.  Normally this isn't a huge deal for me, but in this case the quality is noticeably worse than the original, which came out a decade earlier in the mid-80s.  I'd actually make the comparison to Slayers again. 

So to sum it up, The stories and characters aren't particularly interesting, the comedy isn't all that funny, and the animation quality is pretty bad.  It does manage to revive some of the spirit of the original series, but really it has a lot more negative about it than positive.  To be honest, after the halfway-point of the series I basically just started skipping through the rest of them because I started to get bored.  1/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on April 01, 2015, 11:20:42 AM
Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone
(2007 movie)

So apparently the people who made Neon Genesis Evangelion agreed with me that the show could have been better, and not just in the ending.  Fortunately they've been given a pretty good budget and new technology has become available which will help them toward that goal.  Now the only obstacle is in the writing – can they do better with this reboot of the franchise?

This first installation already shows some promise in that it is very well done for what is essentially a compilation movie.  I've seen a few compilation movies, and the thing about them is that they tend to suck.  A lot in terms of story and character development tends to get lost, and continuity can become an issue because most compilation movies try to use as much of the series it was based on as possible, and only do a limited amount of new animation as required.  But to be frank, Evangelion was extremely slow in pacing and could stand to have a lot of fat trimmed.  Thankfully, this translates very well in this movie, which is basically a compilation of the first six episodes or so of the original series.  Not only does it look great, what with all the newly redone animation, but the writers actually did a pretty good job of getting all the important stuff in without really losing anything, and in getting everything to flow smoothly while doing so.  In fact, if I hadn't seen the series, I probably wouldn't even notice where the story basically jumps ahead, or where something new has been added the way someone might with say the Blue Gender or Gurren Lagann compilation movies.

As for what's different this time around, a lot of it has to do with pacing.  For one thing, there is no mystery made out of the existence of Lilith being kept down in NERV's basement.  Misato just takes Shinji on an elevator ride and opens the door right up to show him.  Another more noticeable difference is that Misato is a lieutenant colonel rather than a freshly minted major, and she's a lot more involved in NERV's operations.  She actually seems to be on more equal footing with Ritsuko Akagi compared to the series.  Other than that, there isn't a whole lot that's different from the first episodes of the series.

Now, for anyone who hasn't seen the series and has no idea what I'm even talking about, the story revolves around a child protagonist, Shinji Ikari.  He is the pilot of a giant, mostly organic robot called the Evangelion Unit 01.  There are actually a few of these, all with different numbers and slightly different designs, and all of them have child pilots.  They all seem to be in the 14-ish age range, which is why some of the fan service in this movie and in the series it was based on is actually one of the many disturbing things about this show.  Others may feel differently, but the whole jailbait thing isn't really something I feel comfortable with.  That goes hand in hand with the way it is more than hinted at that Misato Katsuragi, his commanding officer, legal guardian, and roommate, might have romantic feelings toward him, and Ritsuko also seems to think this is okay, apparently.  There's a similar problem in regards to Rei Ayanami, the first child pilot, and NERV's commander, Gendo Ikari.  There isn't a lot of that in this first movie, but I doubt that'll really change much since the way Gendo has planned out Shinji's life and his growing romantic interest in Rei has remained pretty much the same.  Which is another thing that adds to the "ick" factor, but that also comes out later on.  Anyway, the main plot is that this secretive organization called NERV has to prevent the end of humanity by destroying these giant alien "angels" which randomly appear to attack whatever happens to be in their way on their way to attack NERV headquarters.  They are all apparently trying to reach and bond with the "Lilith" creature I mentioned earlier, which will apparently result in the death of all life on Earth.  There is something of a secretive plan going on in the background which frankly doesn't make a lot of sense, but it's part of the larger story as everything progresses.  I have to admit I'm kind of curious to see how this is done in the rest of these movies.

The story moves at a fairly good pace from the beginning through to the end.  We're introduced to everyone, Shinji is put through the paces and fights a few monsters, a lot of important plot information is told or shown to us, and all without seeming all that rushed and without too much exposition.  This is a definite improvement over the series and bodes well for this Rebuild of Evangelion project.  The last battle in this movie is actually one of my favorites, as it involves a very powerful and very strange "angel", which is normally shaped like a giant diamond, but can take on complex geometric shapes to defend and attack.  Which actually brings me to what is probably the biggest appeal of both this movie and the series it is based on – the eye candy.  The series was okay, especially for the time and in light of the limited budget the animation studio had.  The movie, however, does a really great job.  I have to admit that this is something of a double-edged sword where I'm concerned, because when the eye candy overshadows the story, that's usually a sign of a bad writing.  That isn't especially the case here, though.  The main weak point of this movie is actually that it is simply the introduction to a much larger story, so there isn't a lot to go on just yet.  But, the writing isn't bad in this movie, and as I mentioned it effectively introduced us to quite a few characters and concepts while throwing in some action to keep things interesting.

As for the characters, again, there isn't much of a difference from the series.  Shinji is still a whiny loser, and he really makes me hate the way anime tends to let us hear a character's internal dialog.  I was kind of hoping based on something I read that Shinji wouldn't be as bad in the Rebuild, but I can't see any difference in this movie.  The same could be said of Rei being the meek little robot girl, which I guess is supposed to make her mysterious and interesting.  I know the way Shinji notices that she isolates herself and ends up reaching out to her is supposed to be the highlight of all this, but I just can't get over the ick factor.  The fact that the two of them are so young makes it disturbing enough, but add the fact that Rei shares some of Shinji's DNA, and now we have an incest angle to make thing that much more disturbing.  Gendo is a bastard, as always, and nothing highlights that better than when Shinji is pressured into piloting Unit 01 for the first time.  I'm glad that Misato has a greater role within NERV in this movie, though.  While she's just as messed up as pretty much every other character in this franchise, at least on the job she's presented as being competent and able.  She's also probably the only character I really much care for outside of all the random crew people in the control room at NERV headquarters.

So I'm sure some of you are wondering one of two things: 1) how much different is 1.11 from 1.01, and 2) if I haven't seen the series, should I bother?  To answer the first question, there isn't a whole lot that's actually added.  I think it amounts to maybe about 5 minutes total of added scenes, and most of that is toward the beginning of the movie when Misato picks up Shinji during the first angel attack we see.  To answer the second question, that kind of depends.  If you’re willing to sit through what's probably some of the most boring anime you'll ever see, it might be worth it just to see for yourself what's considered to be an influential series.  If you do that, I recommend that you skip the last two episodes and watch End of Evangelion instead.  Myself, I didn't like the series.  It was boring, and while some of the eye candy was cool, that didn't make up for the other failings of the series.  I don’t regret watching it, but in some ways I think I'd have rather just seen the movies if they actually do turn out to be better than the series.  So far, things are looking up.  8/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on April 01, 2015, 02:50:34 PM
Good to know. I think the first time I saw any of the dvds was around 2.0 or something like that and, of course, my previously asked 'where to start?' question popped up for the first time.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on April 01, 2015, 11:09:40 PM
There's actually a fan theory out there that the movies are actually a sequel rather than a reboot.  I find this kind of interesting, because there's actually quite a bit there to support this theory.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on April 02, 2015, 09:42:41 AM
Cowboy Bebop
(26 episode series + 1 movie)

This is the kind of anime that even non-anime fans might get into, provided that they are either sci-fi fans, or could get into a show that could in some ways be considered a western.  It is essentially a space western, and chances are if you like Firefly, you'll probably like this show, too.  And as an added bonus, it lasted a lot longer and wasn't screwed by its network.

Now for a little background on the setting, humanity has developed something of a means for traveling faster than light using these large jump gates.  This allows rapid travel throughout the system and makes the establishment of colonies on the various planets and large moons much more practical.  Note that this is one of the similarities to Firefly in that there are so many terrestrial bodies within one system that have been terraformed and have colonies on them, even if technically this wouldn't be all that practical due to low gravity, low light from the sun, or various other reasons.  The main point, though, is that an accident with this FTL system resulted in an explosion which took a good-sized chunk out of Earth's moon, pelting the surface with the debris and making it generally difficult to live there.  As a result, most of humanity has spread throughout the system to these various colonies, with Mars essentially becoming the new home world.

The series follows a rag-tag group of bounty hunters, here called "cowboys," as they struggle to hunt down their next bounty so they can have a decent meal, keep the Bebop and their other smaller ships running, and in Faye's case so she can gamble it all away in an attempt to get rich quick.  At first we are only introduced to the main characters Spike Spiegle, and his partner, as well as owner of the Bebop, Jet Black.  As the show progresses, we are introduced to more and more of the characters who will end up joining the crew.  One of the first of these is Ein (as in Einstein), a genetically engineered Corgi dog.  Pretty much all of the characters have something special or otherwise unusual about them, which contrasts them with Spike and Jet, who are both pretty laid back guys.  Fay Valentine is a victim of some past accident who was put into cryo-stasis and recently thawed out by a group of con artists, and "Radical" Edward Wong Hau Pepulu Tivruskii IV is a young girl with a horrible case of ADHD, who also happens to be a genius hacker.  All of them bring something to the table, and by that I mean both to the ship and its band of bounty hunters as well as the show.  Which is actually why I started out by introducing them rather than with the story like I usually do.  Of course with Cowboy Bebop, it's somewhat difficult to describe what the story is other than an exploration of the characters, who are all very interesting and who all end up developing through the show and discovering something about who they are.

The series does have a main plotline, it's just that it doesn't make itself all that readily apparent, and very few of the series' episodes actually deal with it directly.  Spike is really the main character of the series, simply by virtue of the main plot focusing on him and his story.  He wasn't always the laid back bounty hunter that he is in the show, and it turns out that he was originally a hit-man for an organized crime syndicate called the Red Dragons.  He fell in love with a woman named Julia and decided to leave the syndicate because of his love for her.  In doing so, he became a hunted man and he lost Julia.  So basically his cause in life other than putting food in his mouth is to find Julia again.  This is an especially touching story, and I can't heap enough praise on it even if it is a bit clichéd.  Maybe even more than a bit clichéd.  Learning about Spike and his past is one of the main draws of the series, or at least it was for me. 

This is also something that happens with pretty much all the characters except maybe for Ein, who is explained right off the bat as to what the deal was with him.  Jet also has a lost love who he finds and has to deal with the reality that she has moved on even if he hasn't, and his reunion with her is also bittersweet.  Faye, who suffers from amnesia for most of the series, finally discovers her identity and remembers her past, but she is also denied a happy ending.  Not to mention that it's kind of obvious that she has feelings for Spike, and he can't reciprocate.  I actually felt a lot of sympathy for her toward the end of the series, even if she generally is the kind of manipulative, selfish character that you just kind of love to hate.  Even Ed has something of a bittersweet ending, having finally found her father and learned what her real name is, but ultimately deciding not only not to rejoin her father, but  to leave Bebop and strike it out on her own, with Ein tagging along to keep her company.  So while technically the vast majority of the episodes are filler, they tend not to feel like it.  Either they are fun adventures, or dramatic journeys into the lives of the characters.  I can't really think of any particularly bad episodes.  Some of them can be slow moving, but none of them are really boring in my opinion.  Of course it has been a while since I watched the series, so I could just be forgetting something or otherwise missing something while viewing it through my nostalgia glasses.  After all, this was one of my first animes, and is just as responsible for getting me into anime as the Ghost in the Shell series is.

The series goes through a number of shifts in mood, but the pacing is very good, and nothing ever really feels like an unnatural shift, or mood swing.  It just kind of flows naturally as the show progresses, following the crew through good times and bad.  The bad tends to accumulate towards the end of the series, especially as the crew breaks up and goes their separate ways again.  This is also where the excellent soundtrack really shines, and when Ed leaves, the ship, the song playing in the background actually had me pretty misty-eyed.

Now, I'd be neglectful if I didn't also mention the movie, Knockin' on Heaven's Door.  Normally I'd give it its own separate review, but as excellent as this movie is, it is essentially just a feature-length episode of the series, fitting in somewhere between some of the last episodes, before Ed and Ein leave the ship.  It takes place on Mars and features a plot about a terrorist who is releasing a deadly virus and generally making a huge nuisance of himself.  Naturally, he gets a bounty on his head, and this is where our crew comes in.  It is a very good movie and addition to the series.  In fact, it was so good that even my dad, who didn't really care for the series or anime in general, liked this movie.  So while I can't really say much more about this movie than I already did about the series, I can't recommend that you see it more.  It makes an excellent addition to the series, and even if you haven't seen the series yet, you could probably still get into it even if you won't know who the characters really are or why there's a colony on Mars. 

I highly recommend this series and its movie.  Cowboy Bebop is currently in my number 2 spot of my favorite animes, so that should tell you something even if my review doesn't convey just how awesome this series is.  Seriously, just buy it if you get the chance, it is worth it.  Is it perfect?  You know what, it's pretty damn close.  I'm not saying that it is completely without flaws, but it doesn't have any major ones I can think of.  And while Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is still my favorite, Cowboy Bebop completely avoids the face-palm worthy pitfalls that GitS:SAC had thanks to someone at Production I.G having an axe to grind.  Cowboy Bebop has no axe to grind, it simply wants to introduce you to some interesting characters and tell you their stories.  So based on merit alone, I actually rank Cowboy Bebop higher than my current personal favorite, giving it one of the few if not the only 10/10 rankings that I will ever give.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on April 02, 2015, 01:27:42 PM
As far as I know, this one was never brought to Canada, excluding the recent box set. That said I have seen several episodes thanks to my frequent trips to the States. Though lately my timing is such that I usually manage to catch Jupiter Jazz.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on April 03, 2015, 01:27:57 AM
I'd actually recommend buying this one if you can get it for a good price.  Amazon is selling both a regular DVD and a Blue-Ray version for less than $35 at the moment.  The movie is pretty good, too.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on April 03, 2015, 01:38:24 AM
Next time I see it, I will.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on April 04, 2015, 07:14:18 AM
Last Exile
(26 episode series)

In some aspects this series somewhat resembles a steampunk sci-fi, because of the anachronistic technology it portrays alongside the otherwise Napoleonic era society living on what appears to be a kind of alternate history Earth.  There are flying ships which otherwise seem like they'd be very early 20th century battleships, and soldiers who use steam-powered muskets and classic Napoleonic tactics in using them, while even later on there are hand-cranked machine guns.  Everyone dresses like it's the 18th century, yet there are wingless flying craft that would look like something from the late 1920s if not for the fact they lacked real wings and a propulsion system that wasn't magic.  Nothing is quite right about this world, as even the landscape seems artificial in some places and completely alien in others.  It helps to build the mystery and ultimately makes this show both visually striking and very interesting to watch.

The series unfortunately gets off to something of a slow start, but this does allow us to be introduced to the teen-aged main characters, a pilot named Claus Valca and his navigator Lavie Head, as well as the strange world this all takes place on, Prester.  We do get our first taste of the long-running war between the two nations of Prester, Anatoray and Disith, early on, but it takes a while for the series to get around to really explaining much of anything.  We do get a few basics on what allows both the large warships and the small fighter-like craft, called vanships, to fly eventually, as well as a bit more of an explanation about Anatoray and Disith.  Anatory is where our main characters are from, and it resembles a generic European country circa the 18th century.  Disith seems to resemble more of an Eastern country, though to be frank this isn't a very strong resemblance.  There is also a powerful third party, the Guild, which oversees their warfare and ensures that both parties follow a chivalric code in conducting their warfare, enforcing this through the use of fantastical technology which shows us early on that this is in fact a science fiction series and not a steampunk series.  After all, nothing is really powered by steam aside from the muskets anyway. 

Anatoray and Disith are separated by a massive, turbulent gulf called the Grand Steam.  We actually get our first glimpse of this as the very first thing we see in the series.  Once the plot finally gets going, the focus is very heavily on this Grand Stream.  Claus and Lavie both lost their fathers to this area while they were on an important mission to deliver something to Disith, and there is a mysterious force there which both the Maestro Delphine and her Guild, as well as Captain Alex Row and his mysterious ship the Silvana are looking for and hope to control.  The key to this is a young girl, Alvis Hamilton, whom Claus and Lavie rescue from a Guild attack which killed the pilot who was originally supposed to deliver her to the Silvana.  What follows is an epic story which brings together the warring nations of Anatoray and Disith against the powerful Guild.  I really feel bad because I can't really do the story much justice in my review – it's just something you have to watch for yourself.

When it comes to the characters, there are so many good ones, from the main characters of Claus and Lavie, to supporting ones like Alex Row and his executive officer Sophia Forrester, to the background characters, like the Silvana's deck crew.  Claus is the young pilot determined to make something of himself and Lavie is his loyal friend and navigator (who wants to be something more to him), which somewhat mirrors Captain Row and his first officer.  But whereas Row is driven by a thirst for revenge, Claus is driven by the need to know what happened to his father.  Claus also has something of an odd relationship with someone who is essentially his enemy, Guild member (and royalty) Dio Eraclea, who brings along his servant and friend Lucciola for the ride.  Dio is a piece of work by himself, and as it turns out, he has as much to fear from the Guild as Claus does, and his ultimate fate is quite tragic.

Tragedy abounds in this series.  There really aren't any characters who don't suffer some tragedy in this series, whether they end up dying or not.  I can't help but be captivated by the drama of this series and feel for the characters, especially once the series really gets going.  This, along with its mystery, and in no small part wonderful appearance and soundtrack are major draws of this series.  And while there are resemblances to other works, such as Star Wars, it doesn't really suffer that much for it.

I'd say that the main weakness of this series is its pacing.  It gets off to a very slow start, and while it does give us a chance to get introduced to the many characters and the unique world this story takes place in, it moves far too slowly, and this might actually turn off some people from watching this otherwise excellent series.  There is also something of a wasteful flashback episode exploring Lavie's past and her relationship to Claus that wasn't really needed and interrupted the nice pacing the series had begun to take on. 

The other major weakness is how it treats two of its female characters.  Lavie started out as basically a co-star to Claus, but once they get to the Silvana this changes, and she basically becomes something of a moody but supportive cheerleader.  Then there's Tatiana Wisla, something of an ice queen with an attitude problem, but an outstanding pilot and a strong character.  The problem is, the show tries to hook her up with Claus, and in doing so it's like she becomes not as competent, and she also loses the iron will that made her so good and interesting when we first met her.  Even worse, nothing even comes of this, and while Lavie is jealous of Tatiana, it's all for nothing.  Okay, this might be considered character development because she has a somewhat negative outlook on life which Claus makes her rethink, but in the end she seems like a worse pilot for it.  So basically two of the female characters were brought down a peg because of Claus, which upsets me a little because I never like it when characters are made worse in order to make another look better by comparison.

Actually this show has something of a harem feel to it, because not only does Lavie have a romantic interest in Claus and something hinted at with Tatiana, he actually ends up losing his virginity to the Silvana's first officer, Sophia, so there are naturally some lingering feelings between them because of that.  And literally right after that, she reveals herself to be the daughter of Anatoray's emperor.  Of course this adds a pedophilic aspect to this series, which is made a little worse by the fact that it is made completely obvious that Sophia only went to Claus for sex after Alex, being obsessed the way he is, turned her down first for the goodbye sex she wanted.

But really, this is a really good series and I highly recommend it, even if I can't really explain all that well why.  It does have a slow beginning, but if you stick through it, you'll be rewarded with a really great series which will leave an impression.  8/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on April 05, 2015, 08:57:28 PM
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
(24 episode series)

This is probably the umpteenth adaptation of Alexandre Dumas's classic novel, so to try to stand out a little more, this animated series changes the setting to something decidedly more sci-fi.  Yet, despite taking place in the far future (something like the 5050s if certain headstones are to be believed), this adaptation tries to keep its roots firmly in the original story by presenting us with an odd mix of both futuristic technology and visual design and other technology and visual design which looks more appropriate to the early 19th century and the early 20th century while still trying to look futuristic.  Oh, and they do manage to work mechas into the story briefly, because it wouldn't be a sci-fi anime without mechas, apparently.

That being said, it wasn't all bad, and it did succeed at making things a bit more visually interesting, except for the mecha part, that was just gratuitous.  No, the thing that bothered me the most visually was the odd use of simple photoshop-like textures for almost everything on screen.  Characters' clothing and hair, furniture, various buildings – all of them used this odd masking technique which sets a pattern as a background while an unmasked opening allows it to be seen through.  So while clothing and the like were animated, the backgrounds didn't move, and overall everything just tended to stand out because of this look, which was almost as if someone had used patterned paper and photographs to cut shapes out of, not unlike South Park's early look.  And, it should say a lot about how distracting this was, because I dove right into it as the first thing, rather than making a note of it later, after I talked about the actual story and everything.

The story itself was quite good.  I have to admit that I've never read the original novel, so I can't say one way or another how good this adaptation is.  I've heard that the Count isn't nearly as sympathetic as most adaptations portray him, so I guess in that way this adaptation is somewhat similar, because the Count wasn't portrayed in a much better light than the people who betrayed him and sent him up the river.  This especially stands out, because while the other adaptations I've seen tell the story solely from the Count's perspective, this series focuses primarily on the son of the best friend and former fiancé who had betrayed Edmund Dantes.  That does give it a somewhat interesting angle, though it is essentially doing the same as a lot of other anime that focuses on youth.

Albert de Morcerf is on Luna with his best friend, Franz d'Epinay for a carnival there.  As it so happens, the mysterious Count of Monte Cristo is at an opera the two go to.  Not long afterwards, Albert has one of his many fits with Franz (who I think is a bit more into Albert than Albert is to him, if you catch my drift), and wanders off on his own.  This is all over the fact that Albert has a straight crush on the Count after he has the two boys partake in a rather morbid game which involves pardoning one of three men to be publically guillotined as the final part of the carnival.  Naturally the one to get pardoned is the remorseless killer, and as it happens this man also has a part in kidnapping Albert after he wanders off on his own.  The Count is the only one to come to Franz's aid and so rescues Albert.  This widens the rift between Franz and Albert and draws Albert closer to the Count.  Even at this early point, the Count hints that this is no accident, though naturally he tells Albert that it's fate.  Of course his true plan is eventually revealed, and anyone familiar with the story really just knows that it's a matter of time before the bad things start happening.

By focusing on the children of the people who wronged Edmund, who conveniently form a group of friends so they all know each other, it also gives the series a bit of a chance to flesh out the families of these people a bit more.  Naturally there is more than a little soap opera to it, since pretty much all of them are messed up in some way.  For example, two of these people had an affair which produced a child, which they buried alive in order to hide.  As it turns out, the infant was rescued, and the Count uses him as part of his plan for revenge.  Apparently this includes having sex with his own mother, and sexually assaulting his half sister just before he's supposed to marry her.  So as messed up as pretty much all of the grown-ups are, the teenaged friends give us some characters to sympathize with when it all goes down.  People die or are otherwise ruined, and this naturally effects all of the friends.  The main weakness here is actually Albert, because he's a bit of a whiny bastard, who has the unfortunate distinction of reminding me of Shinji from Evangelion.  He does grow a pair at one point, but in my opinion it wasn't really enough to make me like him.  His friend Franz and his fiancé Eugénie de Danglars come off as way more sympathetic just due to how much they actually care for their friends, and how they react to what's going on around them.  Key thing is that they pretty much keep it together while Albert freaks out and does stupid things.

That all being said, I was drawn in by the story and I found most of the characters at least somewhat interesting.  Not all of them were really given much of a chance to be fleshed out, unfortunately, but other than that it was all fairly good.  It's true that this is an adaptation, but I have to say that it's one of the better ones I've seen, and I never really got bored.  It was a little slow picking up, but that was just to get all the pieces of the puzzle set up before the Count started making his move to get his revenge.  And since he's a bit of a bastard, essentially doing the same thing to some others that he is taking his revenge for, I think it was a good move to focus on another protagonist rather than making the Count the protagonist.  I'd say this series is worth a watch.  8/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on April 07, 2015, 10:30:02 AM
Outlaw Star
(26 episode series)

Yet another space western, this series has a lot in common with the likes of Cowboy Bebop and Firefly.  In fact, as it came before Firefly, there are a few things I wouldn't be surprised Joss Whedon may have borrowed from Outlaw Star, such as the way the mysterious girl Melfina is introduced – huddled nude in a somewhat fetal position within a box-shaped cryo container.  That being said, the resemblance is somewhat superficial, and this series takes itself much less seriously than either Firefly or Cowboy Bebop.

The series focuses on protagonist Gene Starwind, and his 11 year old genius business partner and friend, Jim Hawking.  They run a business together on a backwater planet when they are basically hired into trouble by outlaw "Hot Ice" Hilda.  Outlaws in this series are basically just mercenaries rather than criminals, the "outlaw" apparently just supposed to go toward reminding us that this is a space western since the way Gene dresses and his six-shooter-like gun apparently aren't enough.  The thing about the Outlaw Star universe is that there isn't a lot of actual law enforcement due to humanity being somewhat spread out among the stars, rather than confined to just one system.  This goes toward making the setting something like the frontier of the old west, or at least the fantasy many people have of it.  So with limited law enforcement, naturally come pirates to prey on the interstellar shipping.  There are mercenary groups which will protect shipping lanes for a price, but these are different from the outlaws, who will do pretty much anything for a price.  Gene is the kind of womanizer that everyone seems to think Captain Kirk is, and the business he and Jim are running isn't doing to well, in part because while he dreams of being an outlaw and cruising space in his own ship, he spends most of his money on booze and women. 

Pirates actually form very powerful crime syndicates, and the helpful narrator (the voice of Jet Black as it turns out) explains to us that this is actually how the absurd notion of having large grappling arms on ships in order to engage in combat came about.  Apparently in order to solve this problem they hire on some scientist types, including mad scientist Nguyen Khan to create the ultimate weapon for them – an advanced ship controlled by a bio-engineered android, which is the previously mentioned Melfina.  Of course this XGP15A-II is also supposed to be the key to the mysterious "Galactic Leyline", which is what forms the basis of the background plot that holds the series together.  Hilda is an outlaw who knows about all of this, and wants to prevent the pirates from getting a hold of the prototype ship and/or Melfina.  Her ship ends up getting destroyed, but she is able to make her way to the same backwater planet Gene and Jim are on, and even manages to hire on the two as bodyguards while she gets her next move ready.  Not to spoil too much, but unfortunately Hilda, the not quite good, not quite bad outlaw, ends up not making it, leaving the prototype ship and Melfina in Gene and Jim's care.  They name it the Outlaw Star, give it a snazzy paint job, and fight their way out of the first big fight with the pirates.  But, as cool as the ship is and the fact Gene has finally gotten what he's always wanted, it turns out that it costs a lot of money to keep a ship running, let alone being able to put food on the table for themselves.

After the pilot plotline is done and until the final couple of episodes, the series becomes largely episodic as Gene and Jim try to find work so they can finish fixing up the Outlaw Star into top condition as well as keeping themselves fed.  Along the way, the main plot of the Galactic Leyline serves as an excuse for the pirates to make attacks on them, as well as for the powerful alien Ctarl-Ctarl Empire to take an interest and make a few attacks of their own.  This helps to add both drama and comedy, and also gives the perfect excuse to introduce a couple new crew members to the Outlaw Star.  One is cat-girl Aisha Clanclan (who is one of the few I'd put aside the whole anti-furry thing for) of the Ctarl-Ctarl Empire, and the other is the deadly assassin "Twilight" Suzuka.  And yes, Gene totally uses both his Kirk-like charm and fighting skill on both of them as a major part of the reason they end up joining the crew.  Oh, and then there's the hot springs episode, which is definitely not to be missed if you like a good excuse for some fan service along with a healthy dose of perverted comedy.  And speaking of fan service, did I mention that Melfina is basically the navigation computer of the ship and has to do her job in the buff?  Yeah, it's kind of cool actually, because she jumps into the big tank that holds her fully clothed and somehow ends up nekkid when the tank comes up out of the floor with her inside of it.  In any case, all the episodes are pretty fun, and lead up to both the main plotline involving finding the Galactic Leyline, as well as Gene being able to get his revenge on the MacDougall brothers, who are outlaws that were hired to kill his dad when he was still a child.

As for the characters, there are many, and most of them are fairly interesting.  Gene and Jim naturally get the majority of the focus, though Jim falls somewhat by the wayside in order to develop Melfina's character a bit more.  She is every bit as afraid and confused as one might expect her to be, basically being woken up and told she's just a machine who is programmed to find the Galactic Leyline, which could potentially bring doom to the entire galaxy.  Of course they end up making her and Gene something of an item, but to be frank this could kind of get to me at times because he tended to be an asshole to her.  One interesting difference from the norm, though, was that the Outlaw Star's computer, Gilliam II, is also a character all of his own, much in the same way Rommy was for Andromeda.  He's something of the comedy relief along with Aisha Clanclan, though while she tends to be a kind of silly funny, Gilliam is more of a dry, witty funny, and he really adds to the cast of characters.  There are quite a few others who could have used a bit more development but really didn't get it, though.  Some of the pirates seemed like they could have been a bit more interesting, but instead ended up being just one-dimensional villains.  The same could also be said for Professor Khan (*snicker*), as well as for assassin Suzuka, who tended to be a woman of few words.  Hilda was probably one of the most interesting of all the characters (and it didn't hurt to be voiced by Major Kusanagi), but unfortunately she was killed almost right away.  On the opposite end of the spectrum was Fred Luo, long time friend of Gene and stereotypical bad gay joke.  He really only showed up from time to time to help Gene out, for a price, and to act like a stereotypical effeminate gay guy.

Overall, this was a very fun and interesting series to watch.  It had a fairly good cast of characters and an interesting plotline that kept me hooked as I watched, along with some fun filler episodes along the way.  The pacing was pretty good, and I never felt bored while I was watching this series.  I would definitely recommend this series, especially if you liked Cowboy Bebop and/or Firefly.  9/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on April 07, 2015, 02:36:18 PM
Sage covered this one. He really likes this one. The similarities between this and Firefly have me curious enough to have a look, I just hope they release it again at some point.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on April 07, 2015, 09:46:09 PM
Was this a Bandai release?  Because I got a copy off Amazon a few years back for like $30.   ???
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on April 08, 2015, 12:38:00 AM
(shrug) I'm not sure. I might have even seen it a couple of times at HMV, I probably just blanked on it when I wrote that.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on April 08, 2015, 12:01:57 PM
Angel Links
(13 episode)

This series is supposed to be a spin-off of Outlaw Star, but it doesn't really seem like it.  They throw in a cameo appearance of Fred, the stereotypically gay guy, in the first episode and it features one of the big lizard aliens that showed up in Outlaw Star, but that's about all it has in common with Outlaw Star itself.

It follows the exploits of one of those mercenary security forces I mentioned in the Outlaw Star review.  Basically they help to protect the shipping lanes from pirates for a fee.  Well, I guess this series wants to be like Gene Roddenberry's revised idea of the Star Trek universe where there's no money, because this security company does its work for free, just because.  So I guess either the company is endlessly rich in order to be able to maintain their ships and keep them in top fighting shape and to pay all of its employees, or everyone just does it all for free, for no reason.  This of course directly contrasts Outlaw Star, which made a point of reminding us that owning a space ship would actually be very expensive.  But then, this company was apparently inherited by a busty 16 year old girl who apparently is just supposed to be competent at running this company and commanding the flagship of the company, which goes out and fights pirates for free.  Just remember, she's 16, and hugely busty.  And a lot of characters make really crude remarks about that, especially in light of the fact she has a penchant for wearing a tight, revealing outfit.  Japan, bringing us under-aged fan service since 1946. ;)

Really, though, this series seems much more interested in showing off than in any kind of actual story.  Or at least nothing seemed readily apparent in the first couple of episodes, which is frankly all I cared to endure of this series.  Most of the time is spent showing off the ship, using a lot of the same shots of the ship landing or taking off from the water on the planet it's based out of.  The first couple of episodes consisted of Meifon Li, the busty jailbait protagonist, going out to help random people with her ship.  It went from mind-numbingly boring to just bad.  This is a horrible show and you shouldn't bother watching it.  0/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on April 12, 2015, 11:23:46 PM
Desert Punk
(24 episode series)

Though it is set in a post-apocalyptic future in which humanity has devastated itself and its planet, this series is in fact a comedy.  An awesome, raunchy comedy.

Following the exploits of Desert Punk, aka the Demon of the Desert, aka Kanta Mizuno, this series doesn't really take itself seriously, at least not until the end.  Punk is shown to be competent at being a mercenary, at least at first, so much so that there are rumors that he is actually a demon and supernatural.  The series starts with what would have been another successful job, but thanks to his obsession and weakness for large-breasted women, he slips up and lets himself get beaten by Junko Asagiri, who will turn into a recurring foil for him for the majority of the series.  This is something of a turning point for Punk, as none of the rest of his jobs go well for him, and we get to watch and laugh at the results.

The series itself is very episodic until the last few, with Punk and some of his fellow mercenaries being hired to do random jobs, sometimes on the same side, and sometimes on opposite sides.  While the series does have its serious moments, and it doesn't rely all that much on absurdity, it still manages to be very funny.  Most of this humor tends to be sexual or toilet humor, though there's also some dark humor thrown in for fun.  This is also the area where the dub especially excels, because the cast really does well, and the humor is definitely more fitting for an English-speaking audience.  Eric Vale is the star of the show, and for me this is the role I will always remember him for, because he is so awesome as the perverted, smug Desert Punk.

Along the way, Punk picks up an apprentice named Kosuna, a young teen-aged girl who wants to become the desert's number one power babe (her words).  At first Punk doesn't want to go for it, but Kosuna manages to talk him into it by showing him a picture of a busty, bikini-clad woman she claims is her mother.  Punk, being the pervert he is, agrees to take her on as an apprentice in what is apparently a long-term goal of getting laid by a busty babe like he's always wanted.

As much as the series focuses on comedy, the episodes are all interesting in and of themselves.  In some of the later episodes this actually involves learning a bit more about what happened prior to the apocalypse that created the massive desert the series takes place in.  Unfortunately this also marks a turn in the series toward a more serious tone.  The last few episodes in particular lose pretty much all of their humor and focus on a storyline that involves the reawakening of old weapons of mass destruction and the possibility that humanity might be finished off for good instead of just severely reduced in number like the last time it happened.  Or at the very least one of the four governments existing in the desert world will get sole control over these weapons and devastate anyone who doesn't do what they want them to.  So, much like Burn-Up W and Burn-Up Excess, this series is somewhat spoiled by getting a serious ending.  Other than that, though, it's very good.

The characters are part of what makes this series so great, too.  I already mentioned what a pervert Desert Punk is, but he's also pretty believable as an expert mercenary, too.  Kosuna isn't nearly as perverted, but she definitely has her moments, too, especially when it comes to hating on Junko.  She also makes a pretty good apprentice, and when she ends up on her own, she does fairly well for herself as another Desert Punk with an apprentice of her own.  Junko, despite being very much the Ms. Fanservice of the show, is also very intelligent.  She uses her body and sexuality to her full advantage, but she doesn't depend on them.  She makes a great foil for Desert Punk, because despite being continually fooled by her, he still sets himself up for another one of her schemes, even if he tries to take precautions against it.  Plus there are some hints that she might actually like him a little.  Another great foil for the Punk is Rain Spider, a fellow pervert and also an expert mercenary with a reputation for being good at what he does.  Both he and Desert Punk play well off of each other.  And last but not least are the Machine Gun Brothers, three of Desert Punk's friends from when they were all kids, and also fellow mercenaries.  They aren't nearly as good as the others, but they still prove their worth from time to time.  They also add a lot to the humor, and not just from being somewhat stupid.

Now I have to admit, I'm somewhat at a loss for being able to describe just why I like this series or what makes it so great, so all I can do is show you this clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEkcBsj2x9E), which is a compilation of some of the best lines from the show at its best.  I just cannot express the awesome that is this show.  Just go watch it, trust me.  9/10.

Oh, and have this blooper reel (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5dLevTRF-0) as an added bonus.  ;)
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on April 15, 2015, 11:20:59 PM
Golden Boy
(6 episode OVA)

This is something of a guilty pleasure of mine, simply owing to the fact that I happen to be a pervert, though not as big of a pervert as Kintaro Oe, the main character of this show.  While I can definitely understand his obsession with the female form, I have to say that the toilet fetish is definitely something I don't, even if I do still find his kinks hilarious.  And that being said, this anime definitely isn't for everyone, because it makes some other sex comedies look absolutely charming by comparison.

Basically the whole point of this OVA is to follow Kintaro around on his adventures as a "student of the world," going around getting some random job each episode despite the fact he would have a law degree if only he applied to graduate.  His goal is to learn as much from life as possible, which is why he does this.  He'll also scribble down any random bits of knowledge he finds "very educational" in a little notebook he has, often right next to sketches he makes of the various good-looking women he encounters.  His mantra is to, "STUDY STUDY STUDY STUDY!"  He's also pretty much just a clumsy, socially awkward, mostly inept, perverted idiot who tends to massively screw something up during the job he happens to have during a given episode, only to be revealed to have somehow done something really good during his time there, or as in the first episode completely make-up for it by basically doing something impossible.  You wouldn't guess that he's actually quite intelligent and capable from how he looks or how he acts, but at the same time, I personally didn't really care because I was too busy laughing my ass off.

Now, I've seen other reviews that tend to give this OVA a hard time due to its heavy use of clichés and the crude nature of it humor, but to me the humor is just hilarious, and the clichés are a big part of that.  If anything, this OVA makes fun of the kind of fan service and awkward romantic buffoonery one might see in other anime that's actually playing everything completely straight and completely seriously and just cranks it all up to eleven.  Take, for instance, breast physics.  I've poked fun of this kind of thing before in shows like Divergence Eve, where breasts will jiggle about at even the slightest movement of a female character, but here they not only do that, but they make it obvious that they're making fun of it.  This is where the clichés come in, and why the woman he ends up helping in each episode tends to be a different cliché.  Madam President is the stereotypical Ms. Fanservice, wearing skimpy clothing everywhere, including to her office job as a software developer.  In another episode, there's a stereotypical manipulative school girl who likes to play innocent to her father (the Japanese TR) and get various men into trouble.  Kintaro naturally calls out all these stereotypes for comedic effect, so I can't really understand complains about clichés and stereotypes because that's pretty much the point of the show.  If you’re looking for something that takes itself even remotely seriously, this is not the show for you.

Everything from each episode ends up with Kintaro not only proving himself, but usually with the end result of the woman he helps each week wanting him.  This all leads up to the last episode, where Kintaro finds himself working at an animation studio, and ends up calling in favors from all of the women he's helped.  Then, as with all the other episodes, he disappears and leaves all the women to chase after him.

So you could definitely say I found this OVA very entertaining, and in fact my local anime club has made it something of a tradition to show it once a year during finals week of spring semester.  It's something you can turn your brain off for and just enjoy the hell out of.  It has some very perverted humor to go along with everything else it makes fun of, so don’t watch this and then complain about how crude it is.  Here's a trailer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Op-MtftCyw), have a look.  And this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHmBSfci0yE).  So, with the full knowledge of what you'd be getting yourself into, I would definitely recommend this OVA.  Actually, you could probably watch all of it on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mU7d7cFK3ps).  9/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on April 16, 2015, 02:10:15 AM
Yeah this is another one the Sage looked at... By way of Suave if I recall correctly... and I think he liked it, too. I just don't recall him mentioning that it was 6 episodes. I'll probably give it a shot at some point since it seems to be easier to track down.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on April 19, 2015, 08:04:51 AM
Pale Cocoon
(single episode OVA)

At only 23 minutes long, this is a very short OVA, and while it looks good and has a decent story, I can understand why none of the US distributers have picked this OVA up and made a dub for it yet.  I was actually introduced to this OVA by another reviewer in his first "Top 10 Unlicensed Anime" (http://www.glassreflection.net/anime-video-reviews/top-10-unlicensed-anime-2010/) list.

I have to say, though, that while I found it very visually appealing, and I found the concept somewhat interesting, it confused me somewhat and I don't really understand it.  This being the case, I'm going to spoil the hell out of this OVA, so you've been warned.

The setting is basically underground in what was supposed to be an underground climate control infrastructure which once covered the planet (according to the narrator, anyway).  Apparently Earth has been ruined environmentally, and the implication is that things are getting worse as people are being forced to move further and further underground.  This seems to be the typical environmental aesop, because everything we see points to humanity ruining the planet.

The story itself focuses mainly on two people, a young man named Ura and a young woman named Riko.  The two of them work at the "Archive Excavation Department", and are among the last of what used to be a massive work effort.  Basically, despite all the advanced technology humanity still possesses, somehow most of human history has been lost, and the job of this department is to dig up as much information out of the archives as they can and restore it.  As one might expect, this turns out to be depressing to the vast majority of the people who had worked there as they learn about how Earth used to be and how humanity apparently ruined it through overpopulation and pollution.  Ura is actually the only one left who's interested in learning for learning's sake, and everyone else has either already quit, or say that they're going to quit during the OVA.  Riko is essentially the voice of the rest of humanity, voicing a very nihilistic view about their work and about the fate of humanity.  She's basically stopped caring, and Ura tries to get her interested again by showing her a video file he is in the process of restoring, but she just stops coming into work, choosing instead to lay on a platform next to a glowing core of some kind, staring up at the blackness above.  Ura sees something in this video file that changes his perspective along with ours, revealing the thing that confuses me about this OVA.  While the video he was restoring is just a music video, apparently a shot of a spiral staircase upside down leading into the sky causes him to climb the staircase around the power core I mentioned up to an old elevator, which seems to take him even higher at a rapid speed, right before it seems to fall... right out into the sky.

As it turns out, they've been on the moon all along, humanity apparently having been evacuated there following an environmental disaster on Earth.  Apparently everyone has been on a ship which is still sticking out of the lunar surface upside down, though with a cubic dome covering it.  Why, I don't know.  All I know is that gravity is apparently being generated artificially and Ura managed to work himself out into the weak lunar gravity after actually falling out of the ground.  And that kind of confuses me somewhat because that is the best sense I can make out of it.  Apparently this is supposed to double as a somewhat optimistic ending despite Ura's fate not looking all that great, because Earth looks like it might have restored itself, appearing to be blue and normal in contrast to one of the first lunar colonists' description of Earth as looking rusted.

Now, it's kind of obvious that our focus is supposed to be more on how the characters feel and all that, but I guess I'm too left-brained to see all that far beneath the surface.  I say that because what was shown doesn't make all that much sense to me.  Riko explained the very understandable depression that would come with seeing Earth all pretty and looking fine when they're all living in post-apocalyptic devastation.  One of Ura and Riko's unseen co-workers even expresses some skepticism as to whether any of the stuff in the images and videos they've restored is even real.  The thing is, it doesn't make sense to me that a humanity this advanced technologically has forgotten so much of its past that it's apparently forgotten that they aren't even on Earth anymore.  At the very basic, wouldn't the original colonists/refuges have passed that little nugget of information onto their children and so on and so forth down the generations?  So in a way, it would have made more sense for it to be aliens going through an extinct humanity's archives, but that has been done so many times that it's cliché, so I can understand this OVA wanting to do something a bit different.  It also bothers me that no one seems to care what caused the apocalypse.  I know some people argue that it doesn't matter, but this is something that tends to bother me even if nothing can be done about it.  Another example would be The Road, which has much the same tone as this OVA anyway.  I guess if nothing else, I would have thought it would be a goal of this "Archive Excavation Department" to find out what went wrong to put them all in their current predicament, but no one seems to care, not even Ura.  But, I think this is supposed to be like one of those "art" films, and art doesn't always have to make sense.

I guess you could say that I was somewhat disappointed, because I was hoping that there would be more to it, somehow.  It actually seems more like the pilot episode of a series than a one-off OVA.  I would still say, though, that this OVA is worth a watch, despite not making all that much sense, at least not to me.  It's barely over 20 minutes long, so it's not like you're out all that much even if you end up a bit frustrated like I did.  6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on April 21, 2015, 12:11:21 PM
Gantz
(26 episode series)

This is honestly one of the worst series I've actually bothered to muddle my way all the way through.  Basically it's just otaku porn – filled to the brim with the kind of crap that the stereotypical otaku fanboy is supposed to just love the hell out of.  On top of that, the series takes every possible opportunity to hit its audience over the head with as much clichéd bullshit as possible when it comes to denouncing how horrible society has become, militaries, the second Iraq War, the United States (you know, 'cuz it's evil), and ironically violence in general, despite being pretty much all about violence.  And if that wasn't bad enough, the characters are all either unsympathetic assholes, too stupid to live, or both.

So what's it about?  Well basically there's this mysterious, magical black ball with a bald guy on life support inside of it that apparently clones various people at their moments of death in order to have them compete in a sadistic game it likes to play.  Basically it gives them these skintight powered armor suits and some sci-fi guns to go out and kill random creatures it claims are aliens, giving them a limited amount of time and a limited area in which to complete these missions.  It rewards points based on the outcome of the missions, with the goal being to gain 100 points total.

The series follows "typical high school student" Kei Kurono, who apparently the average otaku is supposed to identify with.  He apparently has a hard time (heh) paying attention in class, undressing his attractive teacher and all the girls in his class with his eyes and popping a boner on a regular enough basis that some of the girls in his class can tell when he's hiding one.  They then go on to point out this fact to the teacher, who has some fun embarrassing him about it along with the rest of the class.  He's the quintessential pervert, thinking about and doing things that frankly make even me think he's a freak.  And if that wasn't enough to make me not like him, he's also a rather selfish asshole.  Unfortunately for him, he crosses paths with a creepy old lady who apparently is a recruiter for Gantz.  This is as he runs into an old friend of his from elementary school at a subway station, Masaru Kato.  Masaru is the kind of noble guy I'm guessing all the otaku want to be like, because he always seems to be doing selfless, sacrificing things for anyone and everyone to the point that he's frankly quite annoying.  He also tends to do way too much analyzing about things like the implications of using deadly force to defend himself and others that he's basically useless and indecisive during the various "games" Gantz sends the characters on.  I say all this up front, because it's pretty much all Masaru's fault that both he and Kei end up dead with their clones fighting random aliens for Gantz's amusement.  In the first episode a drunken bum wanders down into the subway station and manages to collapse onto the tracks.  And since society is horrible according to this show, no one but Masaru wants to bother actually doing anything to prevent this guy from getting run over by the incoming train.  He also happens to recognize Kei and calls out to him, so Kei apparently feels obligated to help out his old friend.  They save the bum, but naturally they both end up getting run over by a train.  Despite this happening in front of a crowd, no one believes anyone about what happened because not only are their bodies and all the blood mysteriously gone, but all photographic evidence is also gone.

Kei and Masaru find themselves in an unfurnished Tokyo apartment along with several other people, apparently having appeared out of thin air.  Not long afterwards, we get to see how this looks when a wet, naked Kei Kishimoto also appears out of thin air, looking somewhat like a 3-D printer has constructed her.  She'd apparently tried to commit suicide by slitting her wrists.  She's also the reason why it's really obvious that all of the characters who appear in that room are actually clones of the dead originals, because as it turns out, her original was saved (just remember kids, it's down the road, not across the street ;) ).  Anyway, Kei Titty McBoobs is basically the main source of fan service for the series, at least until she buys it.  She's also our allotment of moé-blob for the series.  Actually it's kind of funny because while the opening titles make her look like a hot action girl, really the only function she serves aside from providing about 75% of the massive amount of fan service is to shriek, need rescuing, and ask plaintively for someone to do something.  Oh, and there's a dog that likes to lick her crotch pretty much every time it sees her, leading me to believe that the people behind this show are even bigger perverts than I am.

Fortunately for everyone in that apartment, the stereotypical psycho kid was something of a veteran and smugly explained basically everything to everyone else, and by extension the audience, because Gantz never bothered to explain any of the rules of its twisted little game.  Simple rules like not wandering more than a kilometer away from where it beamed them outside to fight whatever random enemies it had sent them after, the importance of the power suits, how to operate the weapons it provided, or to not try talking about anything related to Gantz or its games to anyone.  The punishment of breaking the "don’t leave the area" or the "don’t talk about Gantz" rules was for Gantz to set off a little bomb it'd implanted into the clones' heads.  Everything else was just a matter of making survivability of the characters and success of their missions more likely, or for that matter even explaining why earning 100 points was a good thing, or that they could leave the room after they'd completed a mission until Gantz transported them back for another "game."

There are so many other characters that show up and don’t even last through more than one of these "game" sessions that it would be pretty pointless to describe them all.  I'll just say that they're all pathetically stupid to the point that they pretty much all deserved their fate.  Don't get me wrong, some of them actually managed to be sympathetic, but they were still stupid.  This is actually the thing that frustrated me the most about this series, because when they should've been gunning down the targets Gantz pitted them against before they killed them, most of the time they just stood around and talked, whether to argue about what was going on or what to do, or to agonize about making the really obvious choice to kill something or someone that represented a deadly threat to their own lives.  But even when the characters actually started to do that, they tended to do really stupid things, like running right up to the creatures they were fighting to shoot them instead of doing it from a distance and out of range of the vast majority of these things' attacks, because guns can do that.  For that matter, even these alleged aliens tended to just stand there for long periods to let all this discussion and/or argument take place.  This also tended to stretch out the series and really slow down the pacing, so while there is action, it tends to be spread pretty thin. 

And then there's all the beating over the head we get about how horrible society is and ironically about how horrible violence is, despite how much the series actually glorifies violence in order to attract its audience.  It does this by showing us examples of humanity at its worst.  For instance, in the subway scene at the beginning of the series, we're given a taste of just how horrible everyone is by being given a window into their inner dialog and pretty much everyone is messed up in some way.  And when the bum falls onto the tracks, the reactions range from thinking that someone should do something while being unwilling to actually do anything themselves to looking forward to the hobo's impending death so they can see someone die.  One of the valley girl types even snaps a picture of Kei's decapitated head as it flies toward her.  Later, when we're introduced to Masaru's home life, we learn that his parents are dead and that he's staying with his aunt, who is extremely physically and psychologically abusive toward Masaru and his little brother.  A bit later on, we're introduced to two characters who like to go around and kill homeless people, including the bum Kei and Masaru gave their lives to save.  The fun part is that at the end of the series, one of these psycho killers excuses his actions by going on an anti-military rant, which includes some shots at the United States just for good measure. 

As for why this series is otaku porn, well, I have a list for that, too.  Remember fan service girl Kei McBoobs?  She's a virgin.  This is only worth mentioning because apparently a lot of otakus consider this to be important, because they want their fan service girls to be "pure" or something like that.  They also had her cling to Masaru, who was supposed to represent the kind of nobility that otaku are supposed to aspire for, even while Kei, the character they were supposed to identify with, lusted over her and had some very detailed fantasies involving her.  Then there's basically everything Kei has going on in his head, between thinking about sex and women, and going around killing things.  He also finally ends up having sex with a busty 30s-something woman who just happens to have a thing for otakus, being sure to explain how when she was younger, all the girls were totally all over the cosplaying anime nerds.  And then there's Kei's teacher, who aside from carrying on an affair with another teacher, apparently got off on the idea that Kei was getting hard-ons in class because of her.

So if this show was so horrible, why did I watch all of it?  Well, it managed to keep things just interesting enough for me to want to see what happened next.  I admit I was somewhat curious to see who was going to die and how things would turn out.  It also didn't hurt that all the clichés, fan service, and perverted content gave me something to laugh at.  To be frank, the biggest problems I had with this show were the clichéd and moronic commentaries it offered, the extremely slow pacing, and all the characters acting so stupidly.  Even if something isn't really what I'd consider good, if I can laugh at it I don't really mind it that much, but if I'm bored or finding myself rolling my eyes quite a bit, that really drags a series down.  So really, despite the reputation this anime has for being nasty and messed up, that isn't what bothered me, it was just pretty much everything else.  Actually, being messed up is the only reason I'd even tell anyone to watch this series, just so they can see it for themselves.  If you could handle Elfen Lied, then you'd probably be able to handle this one, too, you just might not enjoy it nearly as much.  4/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on April 22, 2015, 01:10:38 PM
Dead Space: Aftermath
(2011 movie)

I'm afraid I have to start this out by saying that even though the "so okay it's average" nature of the first Dead Space movie made me not really expect all that much out of this movie, I still came away disappointed.  And it's not even that this movie sucks so much as there is basically nothing of substance to it.

We start the movie by seeing some random military ship dock with a derelict ship named the USG O'Bannon, which is in orbit of what's left of the planet we saw the USG Ishimura carve up in the first movie in order to recover some odd alien artifact they call "the marker" which makes most of the crew go batshit insane and kill most of their fellow crew members so some flying sting ray can turn them into alien zombies.  The O'Bannon, as we soon see, suffers much the same fate, having been disabled when the planet went all Genesis on them and it failed to get away, lacking the ability to jump to warp like a certain Klingon Bird of Prey.  No one can blame them, though, because there was just no Kirk or Scotty to be found, even though the captain was himself Scottish. 

The somewhat amusing aspect to this opening sequence is that the faceless marines that board the O'Bannon actually seem to be somewhat concerned for the loss of life they see around them, and it actually looks like they're there to rescue the four survivors they find, right before one of them kills their supposed would-be rescuers.  I find this amusing, because Dead Space is all about some vast conspiracy between a cultish religion, the government, a large mining corporation, and the military which wants to get the alien marker so it can basically end the world, so sayith the church's scriptures.  This is easily Dead Space's greatest weakness, mainly because it's so clichéd that it makes me roll my eyes, since it essentially comes off as cheap pot shots at whoever made this franchise sees as evil, namely religion, corporations, the government, and the military.  Where this movie is concerned, the amusing aspect comes from the fact that these few faceless marines who genuinely seem to care about the people they rescued for the most part must be the only ones on board who aren't part of the evil conspiracy, and they probably got sucked out into space when the most insane of the survivors thought he'd just go outside and join the hallucination of his dead daughter.

SyFy recently replayed Dead Space: Downfall to celebrate the release of Dead Space 2 along with this hour-long ad for it.  Naturally there was plenty of praise for both by the people who made them, but one thing that was supposed to be so awesome about this movie was that it was made up of four different stories as told by the four different survivors.  Naturally they showed off some short clips of the show in order to convince people to watch, and what can I say, it worked.  Of course what I thought I was getting into was a decently animated mystery movie, because those four stories were said to be treated like witnesses' testimony that had to be deciphered by the rescue team so they could figure out what actually happened.  That actually sounded kinda interesting, but the actual movie wasn't what the man on the TV said it would be.  I know, shocking.  What actually happened was that the four survivors were tortured one by one for their "testimony," which was actually just to determine if the survivor they were questioning had come into direct contact with a shard of the marker the Ishimura had found.  I was also fooled into believing that this was a completely animated film, and well, technically it is, it's just that the framing sequences all the torture takes place in is computer generated, and looks about on par with the cut scenes in StarCraft, as in the first one.  It really made me understand why the only clips they showed of this movie were from the traditionally animated flashback sequences, which all looked okay, I guess.

The part about four different stories is actually true, though.  We see most of the movie as flashback scenes during each survivor's interrogation, and as is the case with eye witness testimony, the parts where the stories overlap aren't all the same.  Just to over-emphasize this, each sequence has a different animation style, which is marked by completely different character and art design – the characters, the clothes they are wearing, and the sets all look completely different in each sequence.  This bothered me, but not nearly as much as how everything was a completely predictable story leading up to where the movie started.  The last survivor that was interrogated even finished everything off with the clichéd, "you know the rest."  The story is a lackluster rush job with lackluster characters that can't come even close to rescuing this movie by being even remotely interesting – the movie never gives them a chance to be.  While the first movie actually moved a bit on the slow side to the point of being somewhat boring, this movie ties to make up for that by moving so fast that the characters are never really delved into beyond the bare minimum needed to keep forcing the movie forward.  As a result, there is never any reason to feel anything more than apathy toward them, or their fates.

As you might guess, the evil overseer (yes, he's actually called "the overseer") sees to it that all of the survivors are either killed or meet a worse fate.  One apparently shows up in the second game and ends up in a cryo-tube right next to the game's protagonist, Isaac Clarke.  The other, who pulled double duty as the movie's fan service, was lobotomized and brainwashed into being the scapegoat to explain the loss of two ships and a mining colony.  Cue evil cackling and the establishing shot of where the game this is a prequel of is going to take place.

So as you can tell, I don't like this movie, and while it's not horrible, it definitely isn't good either.  No, not even the tits it threw at me in a last desperate attempt to make me interested in it helped in the least.  Despite its much too fast pacing, this movie still managed to be boring, and actually felt much longer than the hour it took to watch it.  It was just another shallow zombie movie, and while I know both this and the last movie were just ads for their respective games, that doesn't excuse them from their many flaws since they're still supposed to pretend to be movies.  I'm really only throwing this movie a bone because it had an interesting premise that it simply failed to live up to, and another because of the quality of the voice acting, which was an improvement over the first movie.  It looks like there was some anime voice talent there, but the one I recognized the most was Christopher Judge, who you might know as Teal'c from Stargate SG-1.  Here he played Nick Kuttner, a large scary black man, and the nucking futs survivor who spaced himself.  It's a shame such good talent was wasted on such a bad movie.

Don’t bother watching this movie – it'll leave you wishing that you had an hour of you life back.  2/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on April 24, 2015, 11:53:00 AM
Titan A.E.
(2000 movie)

This is one of those movies that I wanted to like but just couldn't.  That's mostly because like so many movies and shows before it, it had so much potential that just kind of fizzled out and died.  A big part of that is that this movie couldn't decide what it wanted to be, kind of like the Disney movie Atlantis.  On the one hand, it wanted to be more of a serious grown up movie, and that's the part of it I liked and felt had potential to go somewhere.  On the other hand, apparently somewhere along the way, someone decided this was a kid's show (probably because it's animated), so there was a lot of childish humor along the way, and to be frank it really gave off mixed signals.  Just as an example, a character got shot by one of those fancy sci-fi laser guns that does pretty much whatever it needs to do in a particular scene, and in this case that was to reduce this character into a mass of green goo, which should have been a gruesome but instant death, but instead this character's mouth managed to survive long enough to say, "bulls eye."  Then of course there's the scene where one character goes all mortal combat on the other and snaps his neck.  For kids!

To be fair, though, not a whole lot about the movie really made all that much sense.  Apparently humanity has developed this giant space ark they call the Titan, which has the capability of forming an entire planet out of nothing but giant ice crystals and cloning every other form of life that existed on Earth prior to some aliens showing up and blowing it up.  This is where I, at least, feel not a lot makes sense, though this may be just due to a lack of a scene or something just to set things up.  Because why would Earth ever develop the Titan, let alone have it all ready to go for a last minute escape?  Sure, it could have been that the planet was overcrowded and they needed a colony to help ease that.  It makes me wonder where they'd originally had in mind for this since they gave the Titan an FTL drive that gave it an interstellar capability.  The ship ends up becoming humanity's last hope, but it would have been nice to find out more about why the ship was built to begin with, because it's also apparently the reason Earth was destroyed by the Drej, which are aliens made of pure energy.  Apparently the Drej feel so threatened by the Titan that they decide to exterminate humanity, and the first thing they do is blow up Earth.  I don't know how humanity knows this, but it's what we're told.  I also don’t understand why humans seem to be able to understand what the Drej are saying when they speak, but they do, so I guess the Drej could have said something before they blew up the planet.

And that's just the set-up; the actual story doesn't make a lot of sense either.  The story follows a character named Cale Tucker (seems to be a popular name in sci-fi), who we see as a small boy the day Earth died.  His father was behind Project Titan and took the space ark off to some hidden location just in the nick of time.  Fortunately he thought to give his son a magic space ring that had a map to where he'd planned to hid the Titan, and which also acts as the key which starts the Genesis Device-I mean the transformation sequence.  So this is why his dad leaves the ship and ends up getting killed, apparently along with everyone else who had gone with him on the giant ship.  That makes sense, as does the Drej's obsession with wanting to find Titan and blow it up, since they were apparently afraid of what it could do to begin with.  This is where Cale comes in, because apparently the Drej have figured out he has a map leading to the Titan, and naturally they want it.  This also apparently takes 15 years for them to figure out, but later we find out why, and it involves something else that doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  Which, speaking of sense, since the Drej want to find where the Titan is, one would think they'd want to capture him, and later on they try to and succeed.  Except the first time they spot him, they try to shoot him, repeatedly, and they even manage to hit him a couple of times.  This is where the magic sci-fi guns come in, though, as the same gun that reduced one character to goo just gives Cale a couple of flesh wounds that take like a minute to patch up.

Fortunately, this seemingly Han Solo type named Joseph Korso who shows up on his cool ship named the Valkyrie to rescue him.  Naturally this isn't a coincidence, and it was all part of a plan to help the Drej to find and destroy the Titan.  Now, I'm not sure if the Drej showing up was all part of the plan to get Cale to go with or not.  Cale was somewhat reluctant to do anything that might get him killed and all, even if he's yeaning for a way to get out of the crappy salvage yard he calls both home and work.  He's become very pessimistic, losing his planet and the only remaining member of his family (apparently) and all.  So having the Drej show up just kind of lit a fire under his ass, quite literally.  The thing is, as I mentioned before, they sure seemed to be doing their damnedest to kill both Cale and Korso.  So, what, did no one tell the Drej foot soldiers about the whole "capture that human because he has the only key to the ship we want to blow up" plan?  Later on it's more obvious that the Drej are just trying to grab Cale on their own, because Korso bitches about this to them after they managed to capture Cale and copy the map.  This is also where the bullshit heel face turn takes place.

One of the other potentially good things this movie had going for it was the crew of the Valkyrie.  They were a somewhat rag-tag crew that seemed like they could be interesting. Since Joss Whedon had a hand in writing this, it isn't all that surprising that this crew reminded me a little of Serenity's crew from Firefly, though this movie predates that series.  The thing I liked about them was just how natural they seemed to be.  They had some minor annoyances with each other, and their own little quirks, and that made them seem interesting.  But while they had their own little conflicts with each other, none of them really seemed like they were just itching to kill each other.  This is part of where the movie doesn't make sense, because that bullshit heel face turn I mentioned drastically alters two of the characters, who suddenly become evil.  I understand that Korso and his first mate being in league with the Drej was supposed to be a surprise and all, it's just that their attitude and actions don't match up with everything that came before this heel face turn.  Up to that point, Korso actually seems to genuinely care about Cale, and even indulges the young man by letting him fly the Valkyrie during this cool eye candy scene.  The first mate, Preed, seemed like a somewhat sarcastic but otherwise likeable character up to that point, but suddenly he wanted to kill Cale along with his other crewmates, who have presumably been together as a crew for some time, and Korso seems to be in agreement with this.  Not only does he not say anything when Preed mentions he's going to blow up the other two crew members who somehow aren't in the know on the whole evil plan thing, but he threatens and assaults those crew members before that, and during his whole bitch session to the Drej he mentions how he'd like to kill Cale, and then tries his damnedest to do just that.  Also part of this heel face turn is that now Cale is suddenly the champion of humanity's continued survival while Korso is the pessimist who sees no way of beating the Drej or for humanity to survive beyond the near future, and really only cares about himself and getting rich.  Of course at the end of the movie, Korso makes the heroic sacrifice to save the day because, surprise, Preed made another separate deal with the Drej for his survival provided he kill Cale and the rest of his crew, and this just makes Korso change his mind again for whatever reason.

Naturally there's also something of a deux ex machine in that whereas the Drej's weaponry has been devastatingly destructive up until now, the Titan can suddenly be jury-rigged to convert the energy of the Drej weapons as well as the energy of the Drej themselves to simultaneously power its reactors and make the new planet while killing all the Drej in the immediate area.  As the movie ended, I couldn't help but note that this was just one ship, and it seemed entirely possible that more Drej could just show up later.  I mean, the movie wasn't suggesting that this one ship and its fighters were the entirety of the Drej species, was it?  Well, Wikipedia confirms this is the case, but given all the other face palm worthy aspects of this movie, it isn't all that surprising, it's just that it's stupid.

There were some other nitpicky things I didn't like either and I'd complain about, but this review is getting to be long enough as it is.  The sad thing is, this movie could have been so much better.  If it'd dropped all the kiddy comedy elements and had a plot that made more sense, it would have been a lot better.  There's also the Valkyrie's crew, which had a lot of potential that just ended up being squandered.  Rather than learn anything more about them or allow anyone other than Cale to undergo a little development, they were pretty much just there to set up a few jokes and to conveniently come to the rescue when Cale almost managed to get killed a few times.  Oh, and the hot chick to fall into insta-love with Cale, you know, because.  But just think of how much more interesting it could have been if the entire crew had been in on the deal with the Drej from the start.  Sure, it wouldn't have been as much of a surprise when the evil plan was revealed, but there's a difference between surprise and just coming out of no where for no real reason.  It also might have made the crew more sympathetic had there been a more realistic reason behind their deal that wasn't just about getting rich.  Say they'd actually been nice and reasonable people to start out with and were forced into it somehow, and had to play along with the plan, all while actually kind of feeling sorry for Cale, and feeling bad about the whole betrayal of the whole human race thing?  The crew could've even tried to keep him at something of a distance so they didn't get to know him too well in order to spare themselves some of the guilt.  And if the hot chick, Akima Kunimoto, found herself being attracted to him in a not completely out of the blue manner, there even could have been a scene where the captain warned her against getting too close, to foreshadow the coming betrayal.  Then it could have been a running theme to have Cale trying to figure out what the deal was, and seeming to make some progress with Akima or maybe even Korso at some points before being shut out again.  You know, drama.

Also wasted were the Drej.  They were some of the most alien aliens I've seen in a sci-fi, and they had the potential to be really interesting, what with the whole being made out of energy thing.  Like if the movie had gone into their origin somewhat, and gave them some motivation for wanting to kill every single human being beyond just being ass hats.  Unfortunately  they just ended up being generic bad guys who were hard to kill, at least with normal hand-held laser guns, what with the whole being made out of energy thing.  They even had a queen Drej who made typical bad guy speeches about killing every human being.  And apparently all the Drej could fit on that one planet-killing ship from the beginning of the movie.  Lame.

The voice talent was ok-ish.  I did recognize a few of the voices right off the bat, but everyone sounded somewhat bland.  I guess maybe since they'd read the script and decided to not even really bother putting any real effort into it.  Speaking of bland, while the soundtrack is somewhat decent to listen to in its own, it also really dates this movie.  I'd normally say something along the lines of doing something instrumental, but really the movie wasn't worth it.  I'm actually not even sure why I bothered to mention it, other than that it kind of made me roll my eyes at times.

I'll throw this movie a bone, but really it's only because I feel a little sorry for it.  Part of what sucks about this movie is that there was some really obvious potential there, and it just got wasted, which in some ways is even worse than if it'd just completely sucked.  3/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on April 24, 2015, 02:57:03 PM
I can see what you mean about wasted potential, this even goes back to the marketing which wasn't sure what they were dealing with either as I recall. I think I like it more than you did, though. About the only thing I disagree with is the phoned in performances. Some may have been more used to live action acting at the time, but that's it.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on April 28, 2015, 12:57:39 PM
Moonlight Mile
Season 1: Lift Off
(12 episode series)

The opening to this series made it seem very interesting, and based on the description I'd read of it, it looked like something I could get into.  The first thing we see as the show starts is a female astronaut who has crash-landed on the moon and is struggling to maintain a rigorous running pace in the low gravity so she can reach a distant outpost before her limited air supply runs out.  That would have been enough to draw me in as it was, but then she runs into some robot soldiers who try to shoot her, only to back down and wait for someone in an EVA suit that hides their identity.  The teaser then ends with this person pointing a pistol at the astronaut and pulling away quickly as she screams.  Then the awesome opening sequence (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_e7-KAvzHg) starts, promising space battles and political intrigue.  Unfortunately the series never really delivers on that.

While I was hoping the series would go back to whatever was happening on the moon, it didn't, and I'm not entirely sure if that scene was set some time after the actual start of the story, or if it was meant as an in medias res beginning.  I was given some brief hope when things started out in the International Space Station (ISS), with some crew members remarking on a blizzard in the Himalayas.  Unfortunately this was only a set-up to introduce the main characters of the series, who are both mountain climbers.  This is also our introduction to the fan service and the more immature aspect of the series.

Okay, let me take a break here and say that I actually like fan service to an extent, and if you've read my other reviews, you probably already know that.  That being said, I appreciate it when it's more mature and isn't just there for its own sake, though to be honest I still won’t complain that much about being able to see naked women.  The reason I call the fan service in this series immature is that it pretty much just is there for its own sake, since the only function it really serves is to show how immature the main characters they are.  They both seem to have a "tradition" of a "good luck fuck," where they have sex with some random woman before going on a climb or whatever else they have going on.  The series actually opens with both of the main characters having a foursome in some tent at the base of Mount Everest.  But naturally this keeps up through the entire series, which splits up to mostly follow Gorou Saruwatari, the Japanese climber, and he literally has sex with a woman every time he changes location.  Even when he finally ends up on the ISS, there happens to be a female astronaut there who wants to have sex with him.

But I'm getting a little ahead of myself there.  After Gorou and Lostman, his American climbing partner, finish having their foursome, the blizzard that was going on during their introduction is over and they start climbing Everest.  They are some distance off when a French climbing team is hit by an avalanche.  Naturally, like any decent human beings, they go over to see if there are any survivors, though their conversation during this is our first hint that they're actually callous bastards.  They do find one survivor, who just happens to be an attractive woman, and start dragging both her and the three dead men who were on her team back down the mountain.  Another blizzard starts and they decide to stop, and this is where I really start to not like the main characters.  For no reason at all, and despite having dragged them all that way, Gorou decides to just dump the bodies of the French team off of a cliff instead of just leaving them on the side of the path they'd been following so they could be found later.  As it turns out, one of these men was actually the French woman's husband.  She's in pretty bad shape herself, and not long after she wakes up, she apparently hallucinates and sees her husband, and asks for him to "keep her warm."  This is where Lostman and Gurou come off as especially callous, because not only have they basically been talking about this woman like she's just a piece of meat they want to fuck from the moment they found her, but they've already given her up for dead at this point.  And rather than trying to actually keep her warm and alive, Lostman makes a comment to the effect of blowing her off, and suggests that Gorou give her one last pity fuck before she dies, which he then proceeds to actually do.  Then they just bury her under a pile of rocks and continue their climb.  The best part is that when they get to the top, both of them act like they're bored.  And at this point I really don't like either of these characters.  Later on, Gorou is at least supposed to come off as being somewhat more sympathetic and kind of a nice guy, but really I can't help but think of both him and Lostman as pricks.

Really, though, this has all been a set-up for these two to decide they want to be astronauts and climb mountains on the moon.  So they split up and go about it their own separate and equally complicated ways.  Lostman joins the US Navy and becomes a pilot, all so he can pilot the space shuttle.  Gurou becomes a construction worker and turns down repeated attempts to promote him to an office job, all so he can become an expert at operating cranes and the like, because it just so happens that all the major space agencies have been combined to form the International Space Agency, and the ISA is interested in going to the moon to exploit resources there.  Naturally, things work out for the both of them, though the series takes some time by throwing what could have been interesting hurdles their way if I'd actually cared that much about either character, and had the pacing of the series not been such to basically just breeze right through all of this.  Basically they take a span of years and breeze through it all in a few episodes.  Lostman actually ends up getting shot down in a third war with Iraq and becomes a POW for a year, and the episode literally skips over this year during the commercial break.  We are then introduced to an Iraqi boy who also appears in the awesome opening title sequence, but he never appears again for the rest of this season.

I'd say that the first season was basically just a set-up season, but I couldn't help but feel disappointed.  In my opinion the pacing was actually still too fast for what it apparently wanted to cover, so it either should have started further along in the story, or it should have been a longer season.  Of course it also might've helped if I actually liked the main characters, too, or if any of the secondary characters had been fleshed out a bit more.  The only other one to get much attention is essentially the series' Ms. Fanservice, and she's a selfish unlikeable character herself, who actually tried to sabotage Gorou from being selected as their company's astronaut candidate for the sake of the guy she was having an affair with at the time. She does this by calling his cell phone to distract the already drunk Gorou, who is right in the middle of a very precise crane operation meant to rescue a man who has been trapped under some fallen girders at the top of a skyscraper under construction.  She does this after being told that not only would this man be killed, but the girders would probably all fall, causing millions in damage, and probably taking the crane and Gurou along with them as they fell.  Of course this not only makes me hate her (she later goes on to supposedly be a protagonist), but it helps me to not like Gurou that much more, because his reaction to this attempt to sabotage and possibly kill him was to want to have sex with this woman, which he does succeed at, by the way.

I guess you could say that while I wasn't interested in the main characters or their plight, I was still somewhat interested in the story.  I liked seeing the different space agencies work together to colonize the moon and some of the different hurdles they had to overcome during this process.  I was also hoping some of the things from the opening titles would come to pass, but they never did.  Actually the closest the first season got to political intrigue was an attempt by a Japanese industrial boss to stretch out the development of the lunar construction robot his company had been contracted by the ISA to design and build so he could line his pockets, even if it meant the death of one of his divers and the ruin of the best developmental engineer his company had, and a bit involving Area 51 and a secret military build-up in space.  Maybe everything that series seemed to promise is in the second season, but since the second season hasn't been picked up by anyone, has no dub, and apparently no one's bothered to sub more than the first four episodes, I guess I'll never find out.

So I guess overall this is an okay series.  They do put some effort into being somewhat semi-realistic during the space sequences, though this goes out the window when we're introduced to a space fighter that Lostman gets to fly.  The visuals are fairly good, though the CGI that's used stands out quite a bit from the traditionally animated elements.  The dub is also somewhat decent, and one of the things I appreciated was the attempt at accents for the characters who were supposed to be from other countries instead of making everyone sound like they are from America with dialog suggesting that they are all speaking Japanese.  6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on April 29, 2015, 09:52:32 AM
Planetes
(26 episode series)

This is a hard sci-fi that presents us with a fairly plausible future in which the world is a lot more interested in developing space in order to exploit a new energy resource located in the Moon and in Jupiter.  This is slightly hampered by all the space trash that's been generated over decades of space development from the initial space race to the slightly futuristic setting of the series.  The series actually opens with a consequence of this space trash, showing us just how dangerous something as small as a screw can be when it's moving at orbital speeds, when it runs into a sub-orbital passenger liner.  This sets the series up to follow the main characters, who all belong to the "Debris Section" of a company named Technora, whose job it is to go out and haul in space debris in order to make space a safer place to travel.  Naturally, like everyone whose job it is to clean up after others, they get maligned quite a bit, even when they manage to save human lives.

The series follows two main protagonists, Ai Tanabe, a young woman who is a great example of how easy it apparently is to get a job in space in the future, and Hachirota "Hachimaki" Hoshino, a cynical, more experienced member of Debris Section who was the most junior member until Tanabe showed up.  I both like and dislike both characters to be entirely honest.  Tanabe is likable in the sense that she always has an optimistic outlook on everything with a kind of fresh innocence that any fan of Star Trek can probably relate to.  At the same time, she tends to be overly optimistic, thinking that love can literally solve every problem, and she tends to proselytize about it quite a bit.  The writing also pretty much bears her out as being right, which reminds me of one of the aspects of Star Trek I actually hate.  Hachimaki is somewhat more pragmatic, at least at first, having seen plenty in just the three years he's been on the job to know better.  At the same time, he also dreams of owning his own ship, though later on he accepts the fact that his job as a debris hauler makes that an impossibility.  On the other hand, his negativity about pretty much everything gets just as grating as Tanabe's constantly going on about how love will solve everything.

The secondary characters are somewhat interesting, though I think the two section managers were much too silly, even if they were supposed to be the comedy relief in a series that actually manages to get somewhat dark at a few points.  My favorite characters are actually Fee Carmichael, the captain of Toy Box, the small ship Debris Section uses to collect space trash, and Yuri Mihairokov, a mature, seasoned member of Debris Section with a compelling background story.  The show went over the top with Fee's smoking addiction and how she'll become not only cranky but actually somewhat insane if she has to go any length of time without being able to smoke, though I do appreciate the fact that the show acknowledged the fact that smoking in space isn't exactly to be taken lightly.   Otherwise I found her to be likeable and a good leader who cared about her people and getting the job done.  Yuri is more interesting than either of the protagonists in my opinion because he has a somewhat more substantial reason for wanting to become a debris hauler that actually involves the opening scene of the series.  He also goes through a far more believable development as a character when he finally lets go of an old pain -the entire reason he became a debris hauler- and decides to keep working his job as best he can.

I also found the story to be pretty interesting.  Not only is it something of a character drama, but it also has a bigger story going on in the background at the beginning of the series which evolves naturally into something that directly involves the main characters.  Basically we have INTO, a somewhat more militant evolution of NATO and the UN pushing into space to exploit resources to its own ends.  They also seem to have a somewhat more annoyingly unrealistic side in that they not only like to invade other countries for basically no reason, but they apparently have a thing for planting mines that will mess up space ships' electronics in places that could harm ships from their own member states.  This makes them something of a bad guy, though they aren't made out to be entirely evil either.  There are also terrorists, who call themselves the Space Defense Front, who are given a fairly realistic back-story and motivations for doing what they do, despite being much more obviously bad guys.  The thing is that despite how awesome all this space development is and the clean energy source and the advanced technology it provides, it's also acting to further widen the gap between the advanced industrial countries able to exploit these resources and the poor countries that can't even feed their own people.  A couple of countries are made up to illustrate this by introducing us to a few characters who are from these countries.  This helps to flesh the story out very nicely.

Most of the series follows Debris Section as they not only pick up space trash, but deal with illegal space dumpers, company politics, international politics, and terrorists.  We also get to meet some interesting characters along the way, like Gigalt Gangaragash, a veteran astronaut and teacher to Hachimaki, as well as a former Debris Section member who is responsible for many of the nicknames various characters have, and Nono, a twelve year old girl who was born on the Moon.  We also meet some of Hachimaki's friends, some of Tanabe's friends, and a few obnoxious comedy relief characters who somewhat tragically go on to die later on in the story.

The story ends up focusing on the construction of a ship called the Wernher von Braun.  The terrorists do everything they can to blow it up, the guy designing and building it is being a complete bastard, and dirty politics are going on in the background.  Also, out of no where, Hachimaki decides he wants to join the crew and goes really balls to the wall to do so, leading to an aspect of the series I didn't like because I really didn't think it flowed very naturally, but I'll get into that later on.  The build up and climax of the terrorist attack on the Von Braun made the show very interesting to follow, and I was drawn in to the point that I had to watch the last half or so of the series marathon style until I got to the end.  It also shows us the after effects of the attack on Hachimaki and Tanabe, who both nearly took very dark turns in order to survive, and then deal with the consequences afterwards.  For instance, Tanabe was running out of air, and very nearly took the air supply from the character she was trying to save, while simultaneously coming to the realization that this character probably deserved to die anyway.  Instead, she decides she won’t cross that line, and is only saved because someone just happens to come along, and the terrorist and betrayer she saved has a change of heart and attracts the attention of their rescuers.  As a consequence, Tanabe suffers severe nerve damage that would have been permanent without the advanced technology of the series, and even with it took more than a year to recover to the point she could walk on her own and to venture back into space, even if it was just for a visit.  This is especially interesting in that it does this with characters who are not a member of a military, but are instead just civilian space janitors, which is along the same lines of what Star Trek could have been if Starfleet had not actually been a military, which is something the creative talent behind that franchise often stated they wanted to be the case, only to turn around and have Starfleet act like a military.  Toy Box is not armed and neither is its crew.  Neither is the crew of the Von Braun, which depends entirely on an INTO security force for defense against being boarded by terrorists, and ends up improvising tools as weapons in order to defend themselves and save the ship.

This actually brings me to the aspects of the series I didn't like.  It starts off with Hachimaki having a close call which very realistically leaves him somewhat psychologically scarred.  In his recovery from this, he just up and decides to leave everything and everyone behind, including recent romantic interest Tanabe, so he can focus on joining the crew of the Von Braun.  The way he does this, alienating all his friends, coworkers and family in the process just comes off as completely out of character and it literally comes out of the blue.  To its credit, the series does try to explain his motivation, but I never really bought it.  I also never really bought into the romance between Hachimaki and Tanabe.  I know they were trying to go for that whole "opposites attract" thing, but it all came off as forced to me, and I'd really rather they'd never been more than friends rather than following convention by having the two of them hook up.  Basically it's so the show can milk a bit more drama out of Hachimaki's heel-face-turn when he just suddenly decides to leave everyone and everything behind.  It was also no surprise at all when the two of them end up getting back together and actually get married.  Incidentally, it's implied he got her pregnant in addition to marrying her just prior to leaving on a seven year trip to and from Jupiter, which doesn't seem very much like a happy ending to me.

Then there's Claire Rondo, who was Hachimaki's ex-girlfriend and who just happened to be from one of those small impoverished made up countries mentioned earlier.  She's a member of Control Section who actually seems to come around and pull her head out of her ass when it comes to Debris Section.  She's fleshed out more by the revelation that she's pushing herself so hard in order to escape her humble background, much like the temp worker Edelgard Rivera, who works for Debris Section and projects a stern, professional exterior while trying to hide her unpleasant past.  The difference is, while Edelgard grows to become more of a member of Debris Section, Claire ends up betraying them.  She plans out how to hijack Toy Box after being demoted to Debris Section and apparently having joined the Space Defense Front, and then does just that along with her boyfriend and former security officer Hakim Ashmead.  With both of these characters, their betrayal is actually handled fairly well, with some hints being given out before hand but still being very surprising without coming off as out of character.  Where it goes wrong is in the aftermath.  Claire betrayed the people who had come to trust her with every intention of them ending up dead along with everyone on the Von Braun and everyone in the Lunar city they'd set the Von Braun to crash into.  She also helped her terrorist comrades gun down crew members aboard the Von Braun, making her every bit a bad guy as far as I'm concerned.  Yet the show tries to make the audience feel sympathetic toward her, and even goes as far as to say that Fee and Yuri, the people aboard Toy Box she beat up and left to die, wouldn't have testified against her and that she's only in prison serving a 10 year sentence because she decided on her own to confess.  While I like the fact that she was a villain with a sympathetic background and had more than one dimension, once she'd crossed the line, there was no going back for her as far as I'm concerned.

Everything else I didn't like about the series comes down to nitpicks about Technora Corporation and just the way the characters were presented and the like.  The thing about it is that while it wanted to present us with an international team of people, no one in it came off as anything other than Japanese, and I don't just mean how Tanabe calls Hachimaki "Sempi" or how he in turn calls Gigalt "Sensai", I mean how everyone acts.  Everyone in Technora, despite supposedly coming from all over the world, acts exactly like people in a cut-throat Japanese company, treating everyone like they are in a caste-based culture, with everyone beneath them being treated as if they are sub-human.  While it does make Debris Section the underdogs, it just doesn't live up to its supposed international nature, which admittedly is something most sci-fis are just as guilty of.  Adding to this is the dub, which isn't bad exactly, it's just that no one even bothered to try to sound anything other than American.  I know some people complain about bad accents, and to be honest when they are poorly done they tend to stand out, but I do appreciate it when the people making these shows at least go through the effort to try, even if it doesn't turn out well.  Moonlight Mile even does that, and it isn't nearly as interesting a show in my opinion.

Everything else about the show is pretty well done.  The CGI used didn't stand out that much from the animated elements, and the animation itself was very well done, looking very smooth and capturing the motion of objects in space very well.  That in itself makes this series stand out, because they actually portrayed how objects would move in space very well, and made a point of not having any sound in space, much like 2001: A Space Odyssey.  In addition to that, they also had the only artificial gravity in space being generated through spinning portions of the various stations and ships seen in the series, with everything else being zero-gravity, or in the Moon's case being very low gravity.  At times they seemed to forget this by having people just walking around normally while on the Moon, but when they ran it was with the more familiar bounding motion that the low Lunar gravity pretty much necessitates.  Overall the space aspect was very well done, and it only adds to the quality of the series as far as I'm concerned.

I think I'd consider this series one of my favorites, but I wouldn't list it very high because of all the negative aspects I mentioned.  That being said, I would still very much recommend this series to anyone who likes character dramas and science fiction, as this is both, and actually manages to stick a lot closer to what science fiction is supposed to be about, which is how advanced technology affects humanity.  8/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on May 01, 2015, 09:05:20 AM
Summer Wars
(2009 movie)

I can honestly say that this movie didn't look that terribly interesting to me when I read about it, but it looked interesting enough to watch.  So when someone requested that I review this movie, I guess I figured I could for the hell of it.  Unfortunately I'm guessing this person will be disappointed, because they probably wanted to see what I thought because they themselves liked it.  Or maybe they just wanted a second opinion on it before watching it, who knows?  In any case, I didn't really like this movie, because the whole romantic comedy thing just isn't my thing.  I'm the type of anime nerd who reminisces about the time anime was about giant robots fighting and explosions despite being fairly recent to the whole anime thing, but this movie is more along the lines of being socially awkward.

The movie follows protagonist Kenji Koiso, a high school math nerd who works as a system admin for this movie's version of Second Life, or something kind of like that, except that it's called Oz.  This massive online game/marketplace/everything you can possibly connect to the internet thing is made out to be the most awesomest thing ever, but really it touches on a nerve that's kind of ironic for an internet nerd like myself to have, which is half of the story and half of the reason why it really isn't my thing.  The other half of the story comes in the form of Natsuki Shinohara, who busts into the room Kenji and his friend/fellow moderator are working in.  She says she's looking for someone to do a job for her, and that there's money in it for them.  This being their place of work and all, Kenji and his buddy both tell her that they already have jobs.  Of course it helps that she's an attractive girl, and when she mentions that the only thing they have to do is to go out to the country with her, they both volunteer.  She only needs one of them, though, and a little game of rock-paper-scissors apparently sorts out which one of them gets the job, and touches on yet another thing that I don't like about shows like this.

I'm sure you're wondering what that could be, so this is the part where I mention that the job is pretending to be Natsuki's fiancé.  It seems that her granny is turning 90 and like most old people she's having some health problems.  Like a lot of old, traditional people, she apparently wants to see that Natsuki is married off like a good little Japanese girl before she kicks the bucket, so the job is to lie to this nice old woman's face.  There are so many things that I don't like about that.  I'm sure you can tell that there's a values dissonance there as far as the whole being a good little girl and getting married, so there's that.  Then there's the fact that Natsuki is being dishonest and manipulative in order to look good to her grandmother, even if she thinks it's somehow good for the her materfamlias (and the entire family) to think that they're adding another member to their family before granny buys it.  She neglected to tell Kenji any of this on that whole long trip out to the place which made it super awkward for him.  As if that wasn't bad enough, he was pressured to lie to a woman and a whole family he was trying to be a respectable house guest to literally within a few minutes of getting there and being introduced.  I know this was meant for comedy, and I'm sure a lot of people even found this funny, but I was actually a little appalled.  How much was she going to pay him, anyway?

Now up to this point, everything seemed more like one of those domestic bliss fantasies many members of the fairer sex seem to have.  There's a big house and a big family, with lots of little kids running around, and everyone mostly gets along aside from a few little comedic conflicts here and there to make things interesting, I guess.  Now I don't come from a very big family or have a big house in the country, but my family is big enough for me to see this for the fantasy it is.  But then I'm biased because I really don't like most of my family, and to be frank the less I see of them the better.  Oh, and I hate little kids, too, so the idea of a bunch of them running around being rambunctious doesn't make me laugh or smile so much as leaving me somewhere between wanting to curl into the fetal position and wanting to growl at them to get off my lawn.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/GranTorinoEastwood.jpg)

The other half of the story comes into play when, later that night, Kenji gets a text message from some stranger with a code for him to figure out, and like a dumbass he actually solves it and replies back with the answer.  I don’t know about any of you, but when I get a text from someone I don't know, I just assume they got the wrong number and delete it.  So I was completely unsurprised that the next morning he was being accused of hacking the wonderful world of Oz, since it also apparently didn't occur to anyone that a hacker wouldn't be dumbass enough to hack using their own legitimate account.  Conveniently, the big family happens to count a police officer among its numbers, so that saves them from having to make a phone call to take him away.  Of course by now, things are going really wrong and they can't make it to jail anyway, so they just take him back home.  All the while this is going on and things are being messed up by what appears to be a generic movie brand version of Second Life or World of Warcraft, I can't help but think how completely stupid it is to have all these things connected to the internet to the point that they can actually be controlled by it.  This is that nerve I mentioned before, because as much of a technology nerd as I am, the idea of doing something like this stuns me.  The sad thing is, you can already see aspects of this in that society seems to have forgotten to do a lot of things without the aid of computers, and, well, I'm getting of track here.  Sufficed to say, the big emergency of the movie pretty much just made me roll my eyes because it was pretty much a problem of everyone's own making.

I will give them this, though, setting the real world portion of this sci-fi technological story in an old style, traditional Japanese home place with a 90 year old woman calling people on an old school rotary phone in order to help out was kind of funny.  I totally see what they did there. ;)

In any case, the black sheep of the family shows up and it's revealed that he had gone to America for a while.  He'd also stolen a bunch of money from Granny, so naturally everyone hates the guy, except of course Natsuki, who it is revealed had a crush on him since she was in kindergarten.  Oh, Japan... ;)  Well, he was adopted, so I guess that makes it not incestuous, technically.  Of course the information we're given about him comes into play when it's revealed all the problems are being caused by an AI that's from an American university.  Gee, I wonder if the two could be in any way related?

Of course they are.  But while he made the evil AI, it was actually the US military that set the thing loose in Oz to test it out, you know, because it's not like you'd conduct an experiment in a controlled environment instead of something that is apparently connected to everything, including a satellite in orbit.  But granny doesn’t sweat the details, and she gets so pissed off upon learning his connection to what’s going on that she actually tries to kill his ass with a spear.  But hey, let's just recognize this for the shot at that American military that it is. ;)  Of course this immediately begged the question as to whether this guy would somehow redeem himself, like say by helping to destroy this AI.  Since he wasn't the one who actually released the thing, I really never had much doubt there.

And then Granny dies, right after making Kenji promise to take care of her manipulative granddaughter.  The conflict is then generated by most of the family naturally wanting to deal with the whole Granny being dead thing, while the few of them that actually know something horrible might happen struggle to solve that, giving Dell and a few other companies some product placement in the process.  And so starts the online battle, which is one of the lamest things I've ever seen.

Now before anyone gets too mad at me, you have to understand that the whole social networking thing is just not my thing.  So all these online games like Second Life and World of Warcraft are lame to me to begin with.  What can I say?  I like to shoot people from the first person perspective, so give me Halo or FEAR any day.  The thing is, even with something like that, when someone plays it, it's just some person looking at a screen.  In this movie, it's represented more like a fully immersive virtual reality, with everyone having a cute little furry avatar (I don’t like furs either, by the way).  That just comes off as that much more lame to me especially when people who are literally right next to a character in the room playing the same game actually use their little avatars to talk to each other, and at different points in the game they react as if they feel pain when their avatar is getting beat up in the game.  Sorry guys, this just came off as lame to me.

Of course everything works itself out in the end, including the part where Natsuki decides she likes Kenji and he decides he likes her.  The massive family even pressures them to get married and to kiss right there in front of them.  You know, the sad thing is, this aspect of the movie I didn't like could have been very easily avoided had the two of them already at least kind of had a thing going for each other, and the reason Natsuki wanted Kenji to pretend to be her fiancé was because she, you know, actually wanted him to be her fiancé.  Instead it was a 50/50 chance that it could have been Kenji's fellow nerd, since Kenji could have just as easily lost at that game of rock-paper-scissors instead of winning it.

But enough bitching; this just wasn't my kind of movie and my grading is going to reflect that.  But don't let that put you off if this actually is your kind of movie.  If you like romantic comedies, you will probably like this movie even if you don't like the computer game part of this movie, simply because the romantic comedy part is like so many other movies in that genre.  Like how Twister and Sweet Home Alabama start out as just being a quick little diversion from the protagonist's regular life but turns into the whole falling in love thing.  If you also happen to play Second Life and/or WoW, you'll probably really like this movie, because that's basically what it is.  I, on the other hand, like neither, but I do recognize the work and talent that went into making it, so I'm not going to goose egg it even if I end up not giving it a very good score.  5/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on May 03, 2015, 10:50:31 PM
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (When They Cry) &
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai

(50 episode series)

This is an exceptionally well put together series, which approached the story from many different angles and kept me hooked from start to finish.  That’s actually why I’m including both the first and second seasons together in this review, because it’s only together that they make a complete story.  That’s what makes it that much more unfortunate that the second season apparently wasn’t picked up for a dub like the first season was.  The story was just as good even if I had to read subtitles, but to be honest I’d gotten used to the dub cast, and some elements just weren’t as effective in my opinion as in the dub because what’s said has to be filtered through emotionless subtitles.

Moving on, as much praise as I’m giving this series, I’m going to say right up front that it’s hardly perfect either, though its flaws aren’t anywhere near being a deal-breaker, at least for me.  While the story itself is actually made up of repeating time loops in which are main characters each tend to do things a bit differently and things tend not to end well for them, I can’t help but feel that there was also something of an anime within an anime here.  While I liked the main anime, which was a murder mystery/psychological thriller, with plenty of drama thrown in, I didn’t much care for the anime within it, which was the kind of typical, cutesy, moé, slice-of-life anime I just don’t like.  As the main character who serves as the primary protagonist for the first season, Keiichi Maebara is also the only male character among the other main characters, who also form an after-school club in their small, one-room school located in the village of Hinamizawa.  This has all the makings of a harem anime, and to be honest the anime within the anime seemed to pretty much be that.  The character designs kind of added to this, and was somewhat disarming to the horrible murders that take place in this series, while simultaneously making it somewhat amusing for that fact, just like Elfen Lied.  I feel that the cutesy slice-of-life bits distracted from the story somewhat, but while I would have done it differently, I completely understand why this aspect of the story was done – so we’d care about the characters.

Since the story is pretty much TNG’s Cause and Effect or Groundhog Day with a murder mystery, it’s pretty important that the audience gets to know and care about the characters, otherwise, there is no point to watching them die and/or kill over and over again other than as gore porn.  That’s what I feel is a major failing of the vast majority of most horror films, because it isn’t so much about the characters (who are usually too stupid to live anyway) as it is about seeing the horrible way they meet their end.  Gore porn, in other words.  With Higurashi, however, we learn a lot about the characters and their village each time the story makes its way through the fateful events of June 1983.  Sure, it’s a bit over the top that each of the characters has some kind of a past shame that makes them kind of scary in some ways, and that the village has such a sorted history as well, but this is also what makes the story interesting.  I also have to admit that this is where the moé slice-of-life bits actually help to add to being able to care about the characters, as we get to see them when times are good, and it makes it that much more tragic when things got to hell.  Often it involves one of the characters losing it completely, betraying, and killing all of their friends.  I just wish they hadn’t gone so overboard with the cutesy moé crap.

The first season doesn’t really explain all that much.  Actually this is where one of the more annoying flaws of the series stands out, because information we already learned as the audience tends to be constantly repeated.  I’m cool with the way information was slowly learned with each new time loop, and in fact I actually liked that and the pacing it set, but I really hated hearing the same information repeated.  It was better when the story changed to focus on other main characters, though.  I also liked how each new time loop started with a vision of the horrible ending it would have, with everything then adding up to what we saw it start out with.  The thing is, it becomes apparent very quickly that more is going on, involving a conspiracy of some kind with parties unknown committing some of the gruesome murders in Hinamizawa valley.  At first we’re lead to believe that people in the village itself are responsible, but much like having Keiichi act as the protagonist for the first season, this is somewhat misleading.

The season ends with Rena Ryugu, one of Keiichi’s friends going psycho and killing a couple of people, who to be fair were conning her father for basically most of what he had.  Her friends help her to hide the bodies, but eventually she gets paranoid and takes her entire school hostage, apparently intending to kill all of them using a gasoline bomb.  Keiichi manages to talk her out of it, however, and the next season starts from here, only about 25 years later, with Hinamizawa being the abandoned site of a disaster that had apparently killed everyone but her, and which we see happen more than once with a different main character as the sole survivor each time.  At the start of season 2, this is Rena.  We also get the first really obvious clue that what’s going on here was definitely an external conspiracy.

While season 1 was the build up, season 2 is the climax, finally explaining all the mysteries.  To begin with, as it turns out there actually is a Bill Murray character who technically then would be the true protagonist of the entire thing, though here she’s only the protagonist of the second season.  Kind of surprising considering that in the first season we only got a few hints she knew more than she was letting on.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/nipah.jpg)
Meet Bill Murray, aka Rika Furude.

Rika is the shrine maiden for the local deity, Oyashiro, a supposedly wrathful and vengeful god who has been said to be killing and disappearing people every year for going on the fifth year.  This naturally isn’t actually the case, and as it turns out, Oyashiro is actually Hanyū, a meek spirit who was apparently an ancestor of Rika’s who was sacrificed to bring peace to the village, and who originally set the rules meant to keep the local disease or parasite the entire village is infected with from spreading further or getting out of control.  She has been watching everything go down, though she is unable to do anything but watch, and it is because she wants the village to avoid being destroyed that she brings Rika back to some prior point in history after Rika is killed in June of 1983.  Apparently this has added up to over a century of time, and the two of them have become somewhat jaded for that reason.  Fortunately, and somewhat conveniently, other main characters start to remember events from previous time loops, and are able to fight their fate.

Along the way, we learn more and more about what is going on, who is involved, and what role they play.  For the most part, the pacing is perfect, though at one point we go back and see how one character apparently became the monster that they are in 1983, and I felt the story dwelled a bit too long on that part.  Seeing the conspiracy that was first hinted at in the first time loop come together was definitely interesting and important to the story, especially when it becomes apparent that the event that kills the entire village is not the tragic natural disaster it was initially thought to be by authorities.

The final time loop and climax to the story is a fairly good payoff.  The only disappointment in my opinion is the lack of any real punishment to the main big bad of the series, who is responsible not only for the massacre of the entire village in previous time loops, but for the butchery of Rika in order to set that massacre in motion, and for other murders which occurred prior to June 1983 and are not undone by Rika and her friends.  Actually, one of the people she consistently killed in each time loop and tried to kill in the last one ends up being sympathetic toward her and lets her cry into his shoulder.  How disgusting.  Yes, the point of this last time loop was that there weren’t supposed to be any losers, but it’s also a little too perfect that not even any of the bad guys wind up dead in what was supposed to be a life and death battle.  The final battle was kind of lame that way, because it consisted of a bunch of kids setting non-lethal traps for people who were instructed to kill all of them on sight and were armed to do so.  But, the end was still pretty satisfying when everything that had been building up came together in the end and the grisly fate of Hinamizawa was finally avoided.

As far as other weaknesses, for the most part they’re nitpicks.  Things like Mion and Shion Sonozaki packing a revolver and no one noticing or mentioning it, and never actually using it when it would have made sense to do so, or Hanyū showing up in physical form for the last time loop, but still having horns, only no one seems to notice and they never get mentioned.  The thing I personally hated and found to be the biggest flaw, however, was the sexualizing of the younger girls, and taking this further by having an adult character have a sexual attraction to one of these girls (we’re talking grade school age) and playing up his pedophilia as being funny and a joke.  Fortunately this doesn’t come up very often, or it might have affected my ability to enjoy the show.  The other major weakness of note is the ending.  Basically it suggests that an adult Rika or Hanyū has gone back in time and has successfully managed to keep the major event that leads to the big bad becoming the big bad from happening.  That actually kind of ruins things considering everything the story has gone through, and the way the characters fought so hard for their happy ending.  Not to mention that it doesn’t make much sense in how the series established the time loops happened to begin with.

That being said, I can’t recommend this series enough for you to watch, especially if you’re interested in murder mysteries and psychological thrillers.  However, be warned that many of the murder scenes are somewhat gruesome, and if the thought of cute little moé characters going crazy and killing people disturbs you, you might want to pass on this series instead.  If that doesn’t bother you or you otherwise think you can handle it, definitely watch this series.  Just skip everything after the second season and don’t bother with the live action movies.  8/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on May 06, 2015, 12:03:46 PM
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei
(5 episode OVA)

This OVA is completely pointless and adds nothing to the series at all.  In fact, it seems to forget or ignore aspects of the series.  So basically this OVA does to Higurashi what Terminator 3 does for that franchise.

I started watching this wondering what could possibly happen to add to the series and manage to be wrapped up within 5 episodes, because while the end of season 2 has an odd sequel hook, it could basically be ignored since it didn’t make any sense to begin with.  The story was over, we saw it end with a nice happy ending that had no losers.  Now I was hoping that it might be another mystery/psychological thriller story that added on to the series proper and showed us some kind of consequence of what went down.  Naturally, I was disappointed.  The OVA is actually three separate stories, and really nothing adds to the series proper.  It also seems to forget that Hanyū should have a physical human body now and that the big bad was, you know, the big bad.  Instead she becomes the comedy relief for the two comedy stories that serve as bookends to the more serious middle story that takes up only three episodes.

Now, I won’t bash the first episode completely, because it was pretty obvious that it was never meant to be taken seriously even a little bit.  I also have to admit to laughing more than once during it, despite it pretty much being the cutesy, slice-of-life stuff that I really don’t care for.  Most of the humor for me pretty much just came from the absurdity of it all.  I might have even forgiven this as just a fun little romp that didn’t mean anything, except that this wasted an episode of an already short OVA, and the fact that the next episode and the start of the serious story arc made it clear that the main characters’ day at the pool did take place and the absurd events from it did actually happen.  I hate you, OVA.

The last episode was also a waste of an episode, and consisted of a story where some magical charm makes one of the main characters fall in love with whoever happens to have another magical charm that goes with it.  You know, one of those stories…  Yes, I know it’s just supposed to be a fun romp, but by now my patience was at an end and all I saw was a waste of an episode, and to be frank a waste of an OVA.  Why?  Why, OVA, why?

Okay, so I’ve bitched about it, now for the “good” part.  The serious story arc that took up only three episodes of this 5 episode OVA actually does present a somewhat interesting dilemma, in which Rika, the Bill Murray of this blood-soaked Groundhog Day story, must choose between two worlds which each have positive and negative aspects to them.  There’s the one from the series proper (aside from the mistakes I mentioned earlier), in which she and her friends fought to overcome fate and now live happily together, or there’s the alternate world she finds herself in.  Basically, in this new time loop, the big fight over the construction of a dam that essentially started everything in the series proper never happened, none of the gruesome deaths happened, and none of the main characters have the tragic pasts they had in the series proper.  Oh, and Rika’s parents didn’t die.  This also serves to complicate her choice, as the key to Rika getting back to the familiar world she knew was trapped in the form of her mother, and the only way to use it would be to kill her mother.  And it was also apparent that while initially she was unhappy with this new world, she could potentially be happy in it now, so it was an interesting dilemma, even if the choice she was going to make was pretty obvious.

The downside is that we’re basically cheated here.  We started out getting cheated by having Rika act like a complete idiot in order for her to die and end up in what appears to be a new time loop.  Her being an idiot aside, initially this is something of an “oh shit” moment, because it looked like she might have to go through everything all over again, and all because she was a dumbass and got herself run over by a truck.  We’re then cheated again at the end of the story arc, because we never see her make the choice, we just see her wake up back in the timeline from the beginning of the story arc, apparently having recovered from having a truck run over her face (Hanyū’s doing, somehow, apparently).  We then learn that apparently the entire story arc was a cheat, and that the entire point of it was to get Rika to respect and miss her parents again.  I think.  Thanks for wasting my time, OVA…

So you could definitely say I really didn’t much care for this “addition” to the Higurashi saga.  It really didn’t add anything, and the one good part of it was basically a cheat.  I can honestly say that even with the somewhat interesting dilemma faced in the three-episode story arc, I wish that this OVA just hadn’t been done.  The series already has a decent enough ending and didn’t need this little addendum.  4/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on May 07, 2015, 12:49:29 PM
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
(2008 live action movie)

This is unfortunately yet another example of a good animated series being poorly adapted into a live action movie.  I was disappointed, because when I’d heard that there was a live-action version of this series, I was hoping that it would be as good as or better than the series itself.  But, that’s not really being fair, because stories that originally took a lengthy series to tell rarely adapt well into movies.  I guess I got my hopes up here because the first movie only told the story from the first time loop in the first season of the series, with another movie already having come out and it looking for all intents like this will be a series of movies.  And hey, the first story arc from the first season was one of the creepiest ones, so really this movie could have been pretty good.  But it wasn’t.

Now, I’m not going to bitch because this movie wasn’t exactly like the anime; I completely understand them taking liberties with the story in order to adapt it to a movie.  What’s important is that the main point of the story isn’t lost, and here a rather important aspect of it was, namely that it was already apparent that there was some kind of conspiracy involving a mysterious drug in a syringe, with that fact being covered up by parties unknown.  The conspiracy aspect was kept, and the syringe even showed up, but the ending was kind of one of the clues that came up later on, and here it was changed, as was Keiichi’s end, and it doesn’t look like for any real reason, other than perhaps to show that the town’s doctor might know that the nurse who was supposedly burned to death in a barrel was actually still alive.  But we don’t actually see that, so having Keiichi die in the hospital instead of being found after he’d died doesn’t really add anything to the story.

Really though, the two biggest enemies of this movie are the seeming lack of budget, and the lack of acting ability of the cast.  Now, I say seeming lack of budget just because that’s the impression I got – that of a low budget horror movie.  It looks like everything was shot on location, and while that does add to the realism of the setting, it also makes the movie look cheap, and leads to some issues with a severe lack of room.  You know, for things like wildly swinging a bat around to kill two girls. 

Speaking of, I was disappointed that this scene wasn’t actually shown save for a few flashes in the beginning of the movie.  That should have made a pretty good hook to make people want to watch this movie, you know, some horror to go with the creepy tone, like in the series.  Maybe it didn’t shoot well because of the lack of space on the set, or maybe the special effects didn’t have a budget to speak of.

Anyway, as if the visuals kind of souring me on this movie wasn’t enough, the actors just couldn’t sell me at all on what was going on.  I honestly couldn’t even tell you if the voice acting part of it was good or not, because I don’t understand Japanese and had to depend on emotionless subtitles.  What I can tell you is that what I saw didn’t really sell me on anything even being creepy, let alone scary.  It was like watching a pale imitation of the anime made by some college kids for a film class.  As if to rub this in, the ads at the end of the movie didn’t just advertise the next movie, but the DVDs of the anime and volumes of the manga.

This movie was a waste of time, and doesn’t in any way encourage me to want to keep watching this live action movie series.  If you liked the series, you probably won't like this more boring, unconvincing version of what you already saw and liked.  1/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on May 10, 2015, 08:11:58 PM
When the Seagulls Cry (Umineko no Naku Koro ni)
(26 episode series)

When I first decided to check this out, I was actually thinking that this was Higurashi because I'd misremembered the title.  It turns out the two are related, going back to their roots as murder mystery games.  As far as the two series go, they just have a somewhat similar premise and tone.  Oh, and a couple of characters who look and act like characters from Higurashi show up, and in the background at a couple points when we see the creepy 9 year old girl watching the cheerier moé parts of Higurashi on TV.  They were somewhat amusing nods to Higurashi, along with the title page they used for commercial breaks. 

Anyway, since I'd seen Haruhi before I watched this, I couldn't help but be reminded of the episode where they all go to some rich guy's private island to solve a murder mystery, because that's exactly how this series started out.  Well, that and by getting the fact that the protagonist, Battler Ushiromiya, was a perv who was obsessed with big breasts right out in the open as soon as possible.  I may share his fascination that way, but I'm not into my cousins like he is.  But then it's pretty obvious whoever made this series was a perv themselves since every female character except the three loli characters has at least D-cups and dresses like a slut.  Kind of makes me think of Eiken, actually...

Moving on, the creepy 9 year old, Maria, just happens to be obsessed with witches and the supernatural and the like, which is handy.  After all, she single-handedly moves the plot along at points, and to an extent actually got it moving to begin with.  Up until she sees Beatrice the witch and reads the creepy letter she gave her after dinner, the show pretty much consisted of rich people being boring rich people while they set up this incredibly stereotypical scenario right out of the game Clue.  For the most part, though, Maria is just there to be creepy and to simultaneously fill the moé quotient of the series.

So the murders start happening, and there's supposed to be a supernatural element to it that makes it creeper or something, and it kind of sort of was, except for the fact that I also found it kind of boring at the same time.  The idea is that they're supposed to be figuring out this riddle so they can not only be spared their lives and get ten tons of gold, but they're all convinced that someone who is just a regular old human being like themselves is just killing them and trying to scare them into finding this gold for them, like probably any sane person would.  So they spend all their time trying to figure out who the culprit is just so they can all die in the process, as Beatrice finally reveals herself and her magic for the audience and kills them.  Why?  Because she's a witch, and that's how she gets her jollies, apparently.  Or something.  Let's just say she isn't entirely consistent with how she's written.

As I mentioned before, this shares the whole time loop premise with Higurashi.  The difference here is that instead of the characters just getting a new chance to avoid their fates, it's about Beatrice trying to convince Battler, one last skeptic among the family, that she's really a witch and that she's really using magic to kill people.  Apparently it's really important that he believe in her or something so she can kill him and own his soul or something, I don't know.  This could have been kind of interesting if it hadn't been basically an excuse to have Beatrice kill off everyone in different gruesome ways using magic, with the deck stacked completely in her favor, at least up until she basically gives up.  Also, it's not like any sane person, having just heard that their skepticism is basically all that's keeping them alive is going to admit that they believe in magic so they can be killed.  But then, there are a lot of missed opportunities in this series.  Like at one point Beatrice puts on a little cannibal feast for the last rich Ushiromiya sibling made out of parts of her family, including her own daughter.  This could have been disturbing as hell and actually live up to being a horror like it's supposed to be, but instead it was so over the top theatrically that it just comes off as funny.  But I will say that the series did actually manage to have a few moments.

Like this:
(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/WhenSeagullsCry.jpg)
That's right.  Witch?  More like, "Bitch!  Make me a sandwich!"  (From the cannibal scene, FYI)

Unfortunately these doses of humor are somewhat sparse, and much of it is unintentional.  Like say the opening and closing themes, which aren't bad, they're just completely over the top and disproportionate to the "drama" in the actual show.  It's not for lack of trying either; it's just that I found the attempts at drama and horror to be much more amusing than any of the humor that was written into the series.  Add to that the few interesting moments where it seemed like Beatrice might have lost, even with her completely stacked, messed up game, only to have her suddenly come out of it using some contrived countermeasure, and you could definitely say that I was disappointed by pretty much the entirety of what I saw.  Then Battler's sister came along and it looked like he might succeed again, only she died and the series ends with an unresolved sequel hook instead.

There's also the matter of the conflict that takes place in the series.  There's the main one with Kinzo, the paterfamilias, being a complete ass who actually seems to want the majority of his family dead, along with all of his loyal servants and even his good friend and personal doctor, for reasons that are never really rationally explained.  Also not really explained is the conflict between Beatrice and the two other witches who look like Higurashi characters.  They are established to not like each other and to be engaging in a kind of competition over this matter with Battler verbally sparring with Beatrice about whether witches and magic exist or not, but the reasons for this are left very vague.  Basically it comes down to me asking myself why I should care. 

I think, aside from being boring, the next biggest problem with this series is that it never really solves anything.  There are plenty of questions raised, but none really answered.  I suppose I could be wrong, and maybe there's some upcoming season which will explain everything as with Higurashi, but I'm not seeing anything about a continuation on Wikipedia or Anime News Network.  The next biggest thing is the slew of other characters we never really learn anything about, which makes it difficult to care about them as anything other than the tools Beatrice and the other witches use them as.  The funny (and annoying) thing is, a lot of them actually seem to have constant heel-face-turns that are never really explained and are simply a plot convenience.  Like say how the same seven demon sisters who helped to slaughter the Ushiromiya family in the main 1986 storyline suddenly care about Angie, Battler's sister who they orphaned to begin with, and basically help her to grow up to be a witch herself in 1998.  All so she can go back to 1986 (means never explained) and help her brother defeat Beatrice.  Beatrice herself tends to bounce back and forth from being sympathetic and kind(er) to being just a monster.

These major weaknesses added to the often slow pacing (especially in the first half), and lead me to suggest that even if you liked Higurashi, you might want to skip this one.  I'll throw it a bone for trying, though.  3/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on May 12, 2015, 12:32:59 AM
Ga-Rei: Zero
(12 episode series)

This was an okay-ish series.  If I had to describe it, it's kind of like Ghostbusters, but with a Japanese twist.  It's actually pretty much what you would expect from an action anime, and they even have it revolve around a couple of school-girls just for fun and fan service.  So it isn't really bad, but it doesn't do a whole lot to impress me either.  Then there's also the fact that this is apparently a prequel story to a manga rather than an adaptation or a story which would otherwise stand on its own.  The frustrating part about that is that the anime then makes the assumption that you know who people are and what's going on.  Since I didn't, the first episode almost turned me off entirely.

This series really got off to a bad start with me, because it did two things that really annoy me.  The first thing it did was to start off at what is basically the end of the story, and this is made all the more clumsy by the fact that this flash-forward isn't even entirely contained in one episode.  The other thing it did, which actually was a lot worse in my opinion, was to kick everything off with a set of characters those of us who haven't read the manga might think are the main characters.  While their introductions are rushed in order to keep up the absurd pacing a lot of action anime like this tends to take, everything still seemed to be revolving around this group of characters.  And then they all die at the end of the first episode.

The second episode continues on from this point, introducing us to the real main characters of the story while still showing us about the 3/4 point of the story.  Meanwhile, I still had no idea what was going on, and while it was apparent that the main characters knew who the big bad with the sword and the giant lion monster was, I still had no freakin' clue.  If not for the fact that this series was only 12 episodes long, I honestly probably would have given up at this point, but I decided to give it another episode before I passed judgment.  Fortunately, the story goes back to the beginning of itself and properly introduces us to the characters and the setting.

Basically, the world is under threat from paranormal threats that range from headcrab zombies (not kidding), to ghosts, to ghost monsters, to seemingly demon possessed humans who can transform into blue butterflies.  There is apparently a rich history of exorcist families fighting these things, and they still do it in modern times, though there are also two secretive government-based organizations which are competing with each other to do the same.  One is military-based and relies on technology, while the other is civilian-based and uses people from these old exorcist families who can actually see the supernatural beasties.  The really fun part is how despite all the massive damage occurring to the city and all the people who end up victims, everything is supposedly kept secret.  Now, I could rant about how this doesn't make any sense, and how both "secret" organizations seem to do everything they can to not go unnoticed, but whatever.

Why did I want to watch this again?
(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Ga-Rei2.jpg)
Oh yeah, lesbians (supposedly). 

The two main characters are both school girls, though Yomi Isayama is older than Kagura Tsuchimiya, the real protagonist of the series.  Yomi has lost both of her parents, but was adopted by the head of another exorcist family and has become his heir apparent.  The actual story starts with Kagura's mother having died in action during a demon attack.  Since Kagura's father is super into his exorcist job, he decides he can't be arsed to raise his own daughter and instead asks Yomi's adoptive father to do it for him, who in turn asks Yomi to look after her.  This proves difficult as right away, Yomi is repeatedly called away by the secretive civilian organization I mentioned earlier to fight the supernatural with her sword and magic lion beast who lives in the sword's scabbard.  Since Kagura is kind of hurt by being repeatedly left to fend for herself by the otherwise kind Yomi, Yomi brings her with on one of the jobs.  She gets chewed out for doing so, but not long afterwards Kagura becomes part of the team anyway.  The two become very closely bonded and really it's more of a sisterly thing, but that doesn't stop the series from teasing us with some lesbian fan service.  It actually might've been more interesting if they'd really been lovers, but that would have given it something of an incestuous overtone unless they'd had a different backstory.  Of course they were both still in school and therefore are jailbait anyway, so if you liked the fan service from them you should feel bad (I mostly do).  Damn it, Japan!  Give me some grown-up lesbians to drool over!

Anyway, something good the story does is to carefully set up the characters relationships with each other, so we actually kind of feel something when a lot of them wind up dead.  We're introduced to a number of them, and there's even some humor to be had from some of their antics.  Like the guy who makes their weapons going around in nothing but a loincloth, and his introduction being that he gets sprayed in the face by Kagura because she thinks he's some pervert who's snuck into the place.  I wasn't really taken in all that much, but it was still fairly good.  It also helped to understand Yomi's eventual betrayal that we already saw before being properly introduced to her to even know she had become a turncoat.  The drama resulting from that kind of even works a little, though a lot of it is lost in the hyper action of the series.  Still, the fact that Yomi kills basically all of her friends, coworkers, and even Kagura's doche father and still comes off as somewhat sympathetic is something.

This isn't what I'd consider a favorite by far, but this series does have some good-ish qualities to it once the major hurdles it trips the audience up with in the beginning are past.  If you like hack n' slash action with secretive organizations fighting for the good of humanity, this would probably be worth seeing.  Other than that, all I can really say is that while interesting at times, I did have some trouble getting into it.  6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on May 19, 2015, 02:07:25 AM
High School of the Dead
(12 episode series)

Ever wonder what it'd be like if Japan did its own version of a zombie movie?  Well, this is pretty much it.  Like most modern zombie shows, it constantly refers to zombie movies and has fun with the fourth wall.  But then, it never really does seem to take itself all that seriously, and a lot of that has to do with the massive amount of fan service the show has.  Not only do all of the women who end up surviving have large breasts, but at least once every few minutes we see them bounce around in an exaggerated fashion and/or a panty shot of some kind.  So shots like this are very common, right from the first few minutes of the show.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/HotD1.jpg)

Even the occasional zombie gets this treatment.

Other than that, the only real difference from most zombie shows is the flashy way in which zombies are dealt with, and how quickly people who are bitten die and become zombies themselves.  There also seems to be a mix between the classic shamblers and the more modern sprinting variety.  There's also the way the world apparently isn't satisfied with how quickly the world is ending, so a bunch of world powers decide to nuke each other.  Other than that, it's a fairly typical story about how our main characters have to balance hardening themselves so they can survive without becoming completely inhuman themselves, contrasting this with other survivors.  Believe it or not, that story was actually somewhat interesting, enough so that I actually marathonned this overnight when I had only intended to watch an episode or two before turning in for the night.  The only real disappointment there was that the story didn't really end, and it's doubtful it ever will get an ending, at least in anime form from what I hear.

It takes getting past all the blatant fan service and the harem aspect of this series to really enjoy it, but the show doesn't make that easy.  In the first few episodes, it goes as far as to use silly cartoon sound effects for the busty nurse's various parts as they bounce around.  The opening titles also let you know what the show's real focus is, so it's easy to tell that the show isn't really taking itself seriously the way most other zombie shows do.  At first it made me laugh, but after a while it just made me roll my eyes, and this is coming from someone who actually kind of likes fan service.  Still, I couldn't help but be reminded of Divergence Eve, which had a sci-fi plot that might have otherwise been taken somewhat seriously, but instead focuses on fan service.

As for the characters, there isn't a whole lot to say about them.  The leader of the group and the protagonist of the show is Takashi Komuro.  He's the "average" high school student with the typical drama issues when the zombie apocalypse first arrives at his school.  He's also the apparent romantic interest of pretty much every female survivor in his group, except for the token loli they rescue along the way.  In fact, the only other dude in the group is a gun nerd, who's there to make gun nerds feel good about how useful their knowledge would be during a situation like this, and to help the show pander its other form of fan service – guns.  Other than that, there isn't much interesting about the characters specifically, aside from the one who apparently gets turned on by violence.  Yes, at one point while slaughtering zombies, they actually have her inform the audience that she's wet.  At some points the characters are somewhat sympathetic because of everything that's going on, but at others the characters, in particular the female characters, are just bitchy and annoying.

If you like fan service and you like zombie movies, you'll probably like this series.  If not, you'll probably just find this show every bit as obnoxious as it is.  5/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on May 19, 2015, 06:23:39 PM
I want to say I know about this one from JO. In the context of 'she's mentioned the title a few times in her vids.'
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on May 19, 2015, 11:55:37 PM
Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance
(2009 movie)

This movie marks the beginning of what are some much more obvious deviations from the series.  It starts things off by introducing us to a new character, Mari Illustrious Makinami, a red-headed teenaged girl who seems older than the other Eva pilots.  There's also the implication that she's using her masters as much as they are using her, whatever that means.  There are a few other changes that I'll get into later, but the most positive one has to be Shinji.  He still acts like a loser when it comes to Asuka (now with a different last name), but overall he's definitely a lot less whiny and useless.  But I'm actually still kind of neutral in how I feel about this movie, and to be frank a lot of that has to do with the somewhat lighter tone the movie seems to take at times.  It also doesn't help that the soundtrack went from the more dramatic instrumental/choir music to light J-Pop music that honestly felt inappropriately happy at points in the movie that should have been serious and dramatic.

The plot was also kind of "meh."  I mean, it was okay, but not a lot happened overall.  Mainly we got introduced to Mari and Asuka, and learned that Asuka was a self-important bitch all over again.  Asuka showed up with Unit 02, bragged about it, and got to fight some more attacking angels that showed up.  One of the highlights there was that all three of the children had to work together to kill one of the angels.  Then one of the really major changes happened, because the Eva unit that turns into an angel isn't piloted by Shinji's friend from school, it's piloted by Asuka, so it makes it that much more dramatic, I think, when Shinji is made to attack her Eva and nearly kill her in the process.  Actually, even the "dummy plug" auto-pilot from the series is different, too, and is a mechanical device inside the pilot's capsule, and it clamped down on his hands along with the controls in order to take out the possessed Eva, so Gendo literally had it use Shinji's hands to almost kill Asuka, though at the time he'd thought that it had succeeded.  That kind of made it a little better, in my opinion, and I really felt for Shinji as he went ape-shit and actually attacked NERV headquarters.

This marks the beginning of Shinji really standing up for himself, and the great thing is that he kept on doing it.  Another great character change was Rei, who actually showed some emotion and actually was somewhat proactive in trying to get Shinji and Gendo to get along as father and son, or at least she tried until the business with the possessed Eva.  It actually made it a bit more poignant when it looked like she was going to sacrifice herself again and we'd lose all that character development, just like in the series.  Fortunately, this is where Shinji standing up for himself comes into play, and he actually goes pretty far to save her after she was literally absorbed by the last angel attack of the movie.  And by "absorbed", I mean the thing ate her along with the top part of her Eva, and then turned into something that looked an awful lot like the Lilith/Rei from the End of Evangelion movie.  As for Mari, well, I'm not sure what to make of her yet.  Basically she showed up all covert like (and Shinji even played along) and hijacked Unit 2 (Asuka's Eva). 

I guess something seemingly new to me and worth mentioning is that there seems to be a lot more danger with using the Eva units, since dropping down to the bottom of the pilot's capsule will turn the kids into angels, apparently, as will taking some kind of safeties off of the Eva units themselves that look kind of like control rods from a nuclear reactor.  Apparently in rescuing Rei, Shinji damn near started off the end of the world, and while I vaguely remember that this happened in the series, I don't remember how they resolved it.  As far as I can remember it was just resolved off screen somehow.  This time, it's resolved by the appearance of that creepy kid, Kaworu Nagisa, you know, the one that made Shinji a slashfic writer's dream.  Apparently he came from the moon, where Seele, the evil organization from the series, seems to have a secret base, where Gendo and his buddy both saw him out on the surface with no suit.  So there's no subtlety this time around, and it kind of leaves me wondering what's going to happen next.

At least there was only one damn train scene this time. 

This was an okay movie, though I would say that I feel slightly let down from the first movie.  I'm still kind of looking forward to what might happen in the next movie, so hopefully that won't let me down by making Shinji go back to being a whiny, useless bitch.  7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on May 21, 2015, 01:51:15 PM
The Vision of Escaflowne
(26 episode series)

My first experience with this series actually came with the heavily edited version that Fox Kids aired during the summer before my senior year of high school.  As soon as I saw it I was interested in it, but soon afterwards Fox cancelled it, much to my disappointment at the time.  I actually went looking for the series on DVD, but since Fox Kids had changed the name along with everything else, I didn't realize what I was actually looking for.  As you can see, though, I eventually figured it out and I've finally gotten around to watching it the way it was supposed to be seen.  The story is definitely better and makes a bit more sense, but I have to admit that I liked the Fox Kids opening (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5ZXbrqPjKM) better than the original one.

The setting of this show is kind of an anachronistic mix between a medieval fantasy land with dragons and a kind of steampunk world that uses technology that is seemingly out of place there.  This is how they're able to have giant mechas in an otherwise non-technological setting, I guess.  Actually it's kind of cool because the story lets itself touch on various aspects of how these things came to be, and a lot of it has to do with the main antagonist, Emperor Dornkirk of the Zaibach Empire.  They also have a kind of natural levitating stone that many of the locals have used to harness the power of flight for everything from a small plane-sized craft up to floating castles.

The series itself focuses on a female protagonist, Hitomi Kanzaki from Japan.  She was a mostly typical high school student (those sure do seem common in anime) up until the male lead, Van Fanel, king of Fanelia, appears in a pillar of light, followed shortly afterwards by a dragon.  I say "mostly typical" because the series explains that she's always had something of a psychic gift, though until the series starts, this has been limited to tarot card readings.  Shortly before Van shows up, she starts having full on visions.  To make a long story short, she ends up being taken back with Van to his home planet, Gaea, on the surface of which can be seen both the moon and Earth, which the locals call the Mystic Moon.  And if the dragon showing up wasn't weird and threatening enough, some furries show up and greet them.

At first there isn't a whole lot that happens, but soon Fanelia is invaded by invisible mechas, called guymelefs, from the Zaibach Empire.  This also introduces us to Dilandau Albatou, a rather young and bloodthirsty antagonist who leads a special forces group called the Dragon Slayers on this attack.  Fanelia falls and is burned to the ground, but Van and Hitomi escape.  This actually provides much of the excitement and drama early on, as Van and Hitomi try to escape from Dilandau and the other Zaibach forces that have been sent after them by Emperor Dornkirk.  Dornkirk has some kind of massive "fate" machine he is using for seemingly evil ends and he sees Van's guymelef Escaflowne as a threat due to its somewhat mystical nature.  It's actually technologically inferior to Zaibach's guymelefs, which can shoot fire and use a liquid metal to form spikes and swords not unlike the T-1000 from Terminator 2.  Van also isn't exactly the best fighter either, but Hitomi is able to help level the playing field with her psychic abilities, such as being able to see through the invisibility cloaks Dilandau and his forces use.

Once Van and Hitomi meet up with second male protagonist Allen Schezar, the story becomes much bigger, as there is now a fight on with the entirety of Gaea at risk.  Not only is Zaibach seemingly bent on world conquest with a technologically superior military, but the planet itself is apparently at risk from the same technology that had destroyed Atlantis.

That's right, Atlantis was apparently behind the creation of Gaea, following the destruction of Atlantis itself.  This is also why there's apparently so much going on with dimensional rifts on Gaea, as well as between Gaea and Earth.  Van's mother was actually one of the decedents of the Atlantians, called Draconian by all the normal humans on Gaea due to the wings they sport and the seeming black magic of their technology and abilities to alter luck and fate.  This means that Van himself, as well as his apparently turncoat brother, Folken Fanel, also sport wings.

I don’t think there's much more I can say about the story and the setting without just summarizing the entire series, so I'm going to stop while I'm ahead.  I'll just say that it was a really interesting story that took place in an intriguing world.  The pacing of the story itself was nice and even, never dragging too slow as it explained and set things up, or surrendering entirely to the action and battles that also took place.

The characters were also very interesting, and even though there are quite a few of them, they all tend to stand out on their own enough to be memorable.  As you might guess, not all that many of them get developed much, but what development does take place is, for the most part, pretty good.  Hitomi herself is a refreshingly different female protagonist in that while the male leads at times get pushy and want to exploit her powers more, she will stand up for herself and refuse. She does tend to get kidnapped a lot, and can't really defend herself outside of her psychic abilities, but it's worth noting that she wasn't at the complete beck and call of the male leads either, especially since the visions she was having had taken something of a toll on her.

Van and Allen are also somewhat interesting characters with complex backgrounds, though at times they seemed a little underdeveloped.  Allen is basically the noble knight type, a natural leader who's easy to like.  However, he hates his father for going off in search of the Mystic Valley of the Draconians and never returning, as soon afterwards his mother also died and left him and his sister alone.  Then not long after that, his sister disappeared.  This did serve to give him a connection to Van, however, as Van's mentor also finds Allen and mentors him.  As for Van, he's somewhat different in that he doesn't like to fight, though he is soon hardened by having to do so.

The antagonists are also given somewhat interesting backgrounds, too, and even made not so completely evil.  Take Van's brother, Folken.  Not only did he defect to Zaibach when he was supposed to be doing the dragon hunt we later see Van go on in order to become king, but he also ends up leading the attack that would end up razing Fanelia to the ground.  Van ends up hating his brother for good reason because of that and because of his continued efforts to capture Van along with Escaflowne.  But it's also completely obvious that Folken still cares for his brother, and after Emperor Dornkirk shows what a cold bastard he is, Folken later comes over to his brother's side.

Then there's bloodthirsty Dilandau.  He totally comes off as the stereotypical stuck up royal pain in the ass to go along with being a completely evil bastard who likes killing and destroying.  But he also has an interesting background, and even before we learn it, the series actually manages to paint him in a semi-sympathetic light by having him go through a mental breakdown following the wholesale slaughter of his Dragon Slayer squad by Van.  And then we find out "he" is actually Allen's lost sister, who was turned into the bloodthirsty Dilandau by Dornkirk's scientists through cruel experimentation.  It also kind of complicates things when this is revealed to Allen.

Hell, even Emperor Dornkirk is given some ambiguity to his character, even though he's easily still one of the most evil of the main characters.  It's strongly hinted at that he's actually Isaac Newton, resurrected on Gaea through sheer force of will alone upon his death on Earth.  When he first appears in Zaibach, it's basically a third world country, and he helps them to become a world power through his scientific knowledge.  So basically he's a Hitler analogue, but unlike Hitler he isn't after world domination so much as he actually wants to create a peaceful world where everyone can be granted their wishes.  Unfortunately, he's so obsessed with the Atlantian technology to make this happen that he no longer cares about human life, and will kill anyone who gets in his way.  His conquering of other kingdoms is solely aimed at getting what he needs for the machine he's built, but that doesn't change the fact Zaibach has devastated so much of Gaea.

What it comes down to is that everyone is given believable motivations for what they are doing during the story.

That being said, this series isn't without its own weaknesses.  The first one is kind of understandable in that while the pace wasn't exactly all that fast, they didn't want to slow things down too much.  This resulted in a lot of things happening solely for the benefit of the story.  Right off the bat, there's no explanation for how or why Van and the dragon ended up on Earth, or most of the other times they're conveniently transported somewhere by a beam of light.  Then there are things like Dilandau/ Celena ending up where he/she need to be so Allen can see the change take place to know that Dilandau is actually his sister, right before being conveniently beamed back to Zaibach.

For me, though, the biggest weakness of this series was the soap opera romance story.  Basically Hitomi already likes a guy on Earth when she ends up being spirited away to Gaea.  It also just so happens that Allen looks a lot like this guy, so she ends up having a crush on him.  But then, Van is the male lead and the first guy from Gaea she ever met, and since they both end up saving each other's lives more than once, she also has a crush on him.  So the series tries to make this dramatic by bouncing her between her love for each of these three guys, and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at all of it.  I can tell that this was a story element aimed at the teenaged girls in the audience, but in my opinion it rang false and actually hurt the story and the characters a bit.  It was also completely obvious who she was going to end up deciding on.

Oh, and just in case the teenaged male demographic felt left out on the whole pointless fan service area, the show gave them this:
(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Escaflowne.jpg)
Not only are they furries, but they're twin sisters.  I'm sure some people will like this, but I didn't.  At least the bottom one there wasn't really into it.  Eh, it's not like they end up being all that important anyway, aside from helping Folken to switch sides again.

Anyway, I can definitely say that for the most part I really like this series.  It has something that can probably appeal to most anyone, and even though its age is showing a bit, it's still very enjoyable to watch.  I would definitely recommend this series, especially if you can get into medieval fantasy stories.  8/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on May 21, 2015, 02:19:38 PM
I've been posting these more or less in the order I wrote them in.  I just finished a new review today, so I was wondering if the people reading this thread would want me to post any new reviews I make as soon as I finish them, or wait until I've finished posting the others.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on May 21, 2015, 05:00:24 PM
I'm fine with whatever order they come in, pre-written or brand new.

As for the latest one. I remember this show. It was interesting in terms of the mech designs if nothing else.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on May 21, 2015, 10:24:19 PM
Girls und Panzer
(12 episodes + 7 OVA episodes)

This series is what happens when you mix sports anime, Japanese school girls, and history nerd fap material.  Which is to say that this series is essentially fluff with a focus on WWII tank combat, but with cute high school girls, since that’s apparently a thing now.  At first I wasn’t sure what to think when I heard about this series, but I already knew about shows like Strike Witches, so I was pretty sure this would be more in the same vein as that, which did not appeal to me in the least other than to possibly make fun of.  But, as with a few other series, my friends talked me into watching it, and I actually wound up enjoying it.

The series mainly follows Miho Nishizumi, a recent transfer student who actually initially tries to hide her background as a tank operator from a long line of tank operators.  In fact, she transferred to Ōarai Girls Academy, one of many scaled up aircraft carrier ships that serve as something akin to a floating university town, specifically because it didn’t have a Sensha-dō (Way of the Tank) team.  I’ll get into the reason why later.  What matters is that the three-person student council find out and basically shanghaies her into being the commander of a Panzer IV D, because as it turns out, Ōarai actually used to have a tank team, and they are restarting it in order to compete in that year’s Sensha-dō competition.  So, like I said, sports anime, but with tanks.

Ōarai’s Sensha-dō team is pretty small compared to the other teams, which they face one after another, starting with a British-themed school.  Ōarai is also somewhat unique in that while all the other teams are focused on one particular nationality, they have tanks from Germany, the US, and Japan.  Incidentally, Miho is from a German-themed school, which is probably why she ended up in the Panzer.  The Ōarai team is also somewhat unique in that while the other teams seem to be really hardcore into it, some of their members have to be convinced to join, and they are largely made up of misfits.  So really it’s an underdog story.  Even more so due to the fact that they apparently have to win the tournament or their school will be shut down, since aircraft carriers aren’t exactly the cheapest things to operate, even if they are manned almost entirely by schoolgirls. Eh, I guess it makes as much sense as anything else, like how the tanks are able to shoot each other without blowing each other up and killing or maiming any of their occupants.  Anyway, this does give it a pretty clichéd feel, not unlike something like Remember the Titans, but the show was fun enough for me to overlook it, because everything is cuter when anime school girls do it.  :3  I suppose there’s also some fondness on my part for this series due to my current obsession with the online game World of Tanks, which actually has most of the tanks featured in this series.

I think my biggest problem with this series comes from the conflict between Miho and her sister and mother from the Kuromorimine Girls Academy that has a German theme.  This is the school Miho transferred from, where at one point she was the commander of the flag tank of the Kuromorimine team.  The reason why she transferred and didn’t want anything to do with tanks anymore was because in the final match of the Sensha-dō competition against Pravda, a Soviet-themed school, she abandoned her tank to save the crew of another tank that had fallen into a river and was going to drown.  Subsequently, the flag tank was shot and “killed,” which is the way Sensha-dō matches are won.  So basically, everyone except the girls whose lives she saved blame and shun her over this as a display of weakness.  I’m guessing this is largely an example of values dissonance, because I don’t understand this at all.  She saved people from dying in the course of playing what is effectively a game.  In my opinion, that would make her a big damn hero, but apparently to even her own mother this made her a coward and a weakling – risking her own life to save the lives of others.  This wouldn’t be as big of a deal if it wasn’t so heavily focused on in the series.  Still, it didn’t dampen my enjoyment of the series all that much, it’s just that it was really stupid as a source of conflict and it kept being revisited.  That and it was only resolved in the sense that Miho showed her mother and sister that she was able to use her more flexible tank tactics to win against their very strict and rigid doctrine.

It’s a pretty entertaining series overall, with each match having a pretty unique flavor to it, with the antics of the various team members providing a large amount of the fun.  It’s also a pretty satisfying build-up and pay-off for the finale, which turns out about like you’d expect.  True, this means the series is pretty predictable except for the finer details, but considering that this show is basically action fluff that aims mainly to make you laugh and nerd out over the tanks, I don’t really hold that against this predictability against it.  Not everything has to be high art, after all.  ;)

The OVAs are also largely fluff, with only one episode even being full length.  That one focuses on a battle that was actually skipped in the series proper, against an Italian-themed school. The other OVA episodes are your requisite beach and hot springs episodes, along with one that only consists of the Ōarai girls dressed up as anglerfish doing the Anglerfish Dance.  As such, they aren’t terribly long, but they do make a pretty fun addition to the overall show.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/GuP02_zpslnkc0zxv.jpg)

Normally, I might talk about the characters, but to be honest there isn’t a whole lot to most of them outside of stock characterizations that you might expect from any high school anime.  This isn’t really a bad thing in this case, though, as this actually is where a lot of the humor comes from as per how these characters act given the situations they face in tank combat.  That’s also it’s weakness in that these are very much stock characters, and most of them never really get a chance to develop, or to even be fleshed out much.  There’s some drama in that one of Miho’s crew members comes from a family that does just floral arrangements, and her mother doesn’t like the idea of her daughter tanking, and basically disowns her.  Much as with Miho and her family drama, this is only really resolved through the team winning, like pretty much every underdog-sports genre show ever.  Miho is probably the strongest character of the bunch (naturally as the main protagonist), and also undergoes the most development, changing from being shy and unsure of herself as a leader, to being more confident in her leadership ability and flexible style, thanks to the support from her team.  Of course the upshot is that this show is really only about having fun.  It’s simply playing with the standard moé slice-of-life genre by mixing it with the sports genre, with the twist that the cute girls are doing cute things in tanks.  But while it might not be good in the same sense as Ergo Proxy or Ghost in the Shell, I’d say that it’s still pretty enjoyable to watch just as something fun.  I guess what I’m saying is that while it might still be aimed at selling plastic, at least it had some thought and effort put into it, along with a healthy sense of wit in order to at least do something a bit different with some very cookie-cutter genres that seem to have been flooding the market lately. 

The music score is also one of the fun aspects of this series, and it’s enjoyable to listen to on its own. It adds very much to the sense of whimsy that the show is trying to achieve with the idea of moé high school girls driving tanks (with the juxtaposition of this being traditional and feminine).  Also included are some light renditions of traditional army songs from around the world, like “Panzer Lied” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”  Another great addition is a rendition of a traditional Russian folk song, “Katyusha,” sung by the voice actresses of the Russian team Pravda on their way to battle the girls of Ōarai, at least if you watch the original Japanese dub, anyway. 

This actually brings me to a topic I rarely, if ever, broach in my reviews.  I think I’ve mentioned briefly before that I will almost always choose the English-dubbed version of an anime, simply because I prefer to watch anime rather than reading it.  Yes, I’ve heard every argument there is, ranging from preserving the original artistic intent of a work to just straight-up elitism, and I just plain don’t care, because while not every dub lives up to the quality of something like Cowboy Bebop, usually at the very least they are serviceable, unless it’s something from the early, awkward days of localization.  That being said, this dub is far below what I’ve come to expect from a modern anime.  I’ve heard some people complain that American voice actors can never match the moé tone from Japanese dubs.  Since I don’t really care for moé, I honestly don’t give a shit about that personally, but if you do, I’d agree that the English voice talent does not in any way compare with the tone the Japanese actors achieved.  If anything, the English dub seems to be going for “stereotypical Hollywood high school,” and they succeed a sounding like a bunch of bored kids.  I lay this blame almost entirely on the director, as everyone, including what few recognizable voice talent there is (such as Monica Rial and Luci Christian), sounds this way.  Actually, Monica Rial seems to be the only one having any fun.  I’m left with the impression that whoever was behind this localization just didn’t give a shit about this show, and decided that no real effort need go into it.  I’ve watched some really shitty things from the RightStuff/Crunchyroll mystery box that were made during the ADV days that at least managed to have fun with what they were doing, but the Girls und Panzer team seemed like they were doing it more out of obligation.  In any case, I couldn’t make it past the first couple of episodes of the English dub, and I found the original to be much more enjoyable.  In spite of all the tank battles, the pacing manages to be such that even someone like me who isn’t the fastest at reading subtitles can follow along without any trouble.  So this is one of the few times I’ll ever recommend to someone that they go with sub over dub.  Sentai, I am disappoint.  :-[

So I’d say that I definitely enjoyed this series, though it probably helped that I’ve gotten into the game World of Tanks.  Part of my enjoyment came from the concept of anime school girls driving tanks, and part of it came from seeing some of the same kind of antics my friends and I have gotten into in World of Tanks.  The show does not take itself seriously, which is why I’d actually recommend it to anyone, even if you aren’t a tank nerd.  I’d rank this an 8/10 on my nebulous scale of good, which isn’t bad for a series that mainly consists of fluff.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on May 24, 2015, 12:55:09 PM
My Bride is a Mermaid
(26 episode series + 2 episode OVA)

This show is basically a parody of harem rom-coms.  I say “basically” because the sense I get out of it is that it tends to have its cake and eat it, too, when it comes to the tropes it’s raking over the coals.  As you might guess, though, this series does not take itself seriously in the least, and definitely has its fair share of moments.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/MyBrideisaMermaid01_zpst43qbj9f.jpg)
Moments like this.

Its humor tends to be of the slapstick variety, although it also tends to be very referential at times, with references to Terminator, Fist of the North Star, Full Metal Panic!, and classic Japanese cinema being among the more common ones.  The series also loves to lampshade common romantic comedy tropes, in much the same way The Irresponsible Captain Tylor did for space operas.

Most of the series focuses on protagonist Nagasumi Michishio, though it boasts a very large ensemble cast, most of which gets to shine in some way throughout the series’ run.  For me, the refreshing thing is that Nagasumi is not a whiny pathetic loser, and he can and does stick up for himself and others, such as his bride to be, Sun Seto.  As you might guess from the title of this show, Sun is a mermaid, who also happens to be the only child of the powerful Seto family, which is head of the Seto gang, a mermaid yakuza group.  One day while Nagasumi is vacationing at Seto Bay, he starts to drown and is rescued by Sun, who has a strong sense of morality and chivalry.  However, according to mermaid law, the existence of mermaids, who can actually alter their appearance to appear entirely human, must be kept entirely secret from humans.  This means that either Sun or Nagasumi (or both as I got out of it) must be killed along with Nagasumi’s parents in order to preserve this secret.  The only way out of this is for Nagasumi to marry into the Seto family.  And since Nagasumi and Sun share a mutual attraction for one another, this is naturally the option they go with.  The hang-ups being that aside from Sun’s mom and a character named Masa, none of the Seto gang like this idea and frequently try to kill Nagasumi, and that the two of them are only middle school aged.  So what ends up happening is that Sun goes to live with Nagasumi and attend school with him, and the Setos come along to keep an eye on things since the two of them presumably can’t get married until they reach the age of majority.  The catch is, Sun can’t keep her legs from transforming into a tail when splashed with water, and the secret of mermaids existing has to be kept, and thus situational humor.  Eh, it works for the most part, especially since later an association is made between the transition of legs to tail and orgasm.  ;)

Anyway, there isn’t an overarching plot aside from Nagasumi trying to gain the respect of Sun’s father, and the series as a whole is very episodic aside from the last few episodes of the series proper, and the OVA episodes, which do not deserve their own review.  As the series progresses, more characters are added to the ensemble, also adding to the harem aspect of the series, as apparently plain-ol’ Nagasumi is somehow very appealing to many of the female characters for various reasons.  Thankfully, there is never much of a will they/won’t they with the other potential love interests, which is something I tend to find annoying with harem animes that tend to be cookie-cutter in nature anyway.

The main strength of this series is its large cast of characters.  My favorite of them is hands down Masa, who is a smooth, cool, high-ranking member of the Seto gang that rocks an afro and sunglasses.  The running gag of the series is that he’s so attractive even heterosexual males are attracted to him, Nagasumi in particular as Masa “gave him his first kiss” in the process of performing CPR on him in the first episode.  He is a pretty cool character, often spouting bits of manly wisdom for Nagasumi and Sun to take to heart.

The series also has a very good English dub, with voices I recognized from other series like Bacanno and Desert Punk, which had a way of adding a layer of amusement for my friends and I.  I mean, how can you not love the hell out of the thought of Ladd Russo being a shark?  :D

If I can fault this series for anything, it’s that it can get a bit too into the typical rom-com stuff for me, to the point that there was a couple of episodes I actually found quite boring.  Also, the OVA basically reset things as far as character growth and [SPOILER] Nagasumi finally earning the respect of Sun’s father and thus his way into the Seto gang by rescuing her from getting raped [/SPOILER] while otherwise being a narrative continuation of the series by taking place the following school year from what was seen in the series.  But other than that this series was very enjoyable to watch, especially considering my dislike of the vast majority of rom-coms.  I suppose that has a lot to do with this series not really doing what so many others do as far as having a whiny male protagonist who acts like he’s afraid of women, and doing the will they/won’t they with basically every member of the “harem.”

That being said, I would definitely recommend this series, even if it doesn’t quite rank as a personal favorite for me.  It was definitely worth a watch.  8/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on May 27, 2015, 12:09:19 PM
Voices of a Distant Star
(single episode OVA)

Unfortunately, while I kind of liked this OVA, there isn't a lot I can say about it, because there simply isn't a lot there.  The OVA itself is only 25 minutes long, and much like Pale Cocoon, it left me wishing that there was more.  It also leaves its protagonist with an uncertain fate that actually looks kind of bad for them.

The story is about a long-distance relationship between Mikako Nagamine and her boyfriend, Noboru Terao, and by "long-distance", I mean interplanetary and then interstellar.  By some magic their cell phones' texting abilities are still able to reach out across this impossible distance to allow Mikako to talk to Noboru, though the texts only travel at the speed of light, meaning her messages, though sent out basically one right after the other, reach Earth at longer and longer spans of time apart.  So for the most part the story focuses on this drama.  In fact, the plot, which is about a war between humanity and an alien race known as the Tarsians is actually pretty much in the background.  That's somewhat unfortunate, because there was so much there that I found interesting.  Actually, while I like character drama, I feel that in this case too much emphasis was placed on it here, because while character drama can really add to a story, when it becomes the story itself it tends not to be as good or as interesting in my opinion.

There are some problems I have with the show aside from that misplaced focus, but for the most part this is detail oriented thanks to that misplaced focus.  For instance, Mikako is 15 years old, but she was recruited by the United Nations Space Army to go fight aliens with giant mecha (called Tracers here).  So basically this is one of those animes that Sky Crawlers was criticizing along with other shows, like Evangelion.  Maybe there would have been some convoluted explanation for the UN using children as combat pilots as well, and maybe even the laughable use of giant humanoid mecha in space, but for me these are both weak points against shows like these.  This is actually somewhat heightened by the fact Mikako doesn't wear a military uniform, but instead stays in the same skirted school uniform we see her in during the flashback that takes up most of the OVA.

As for the characters, well, again, there just isn't much to go off of.  I mean, they're both sad at their separation, but that's about all we can get out of it other than that they both also undergo a little growth – Mikako is a little hardened by her combat experience and Noboru goes from being depressed because he initially flunked out of the Self-Defense Force and was thus separated from Mikako to working hard to get into it at the end of the OVA.  He's also pretty much gotten over her by that point, or so it seems, and who can blame him?

This OVA was interesting enough to watch, but I can't help but feel a bit indifferent about it because there just isn't much there.  Maybe if this had been a pilot to a fully-fledged show it might have been better, but that just isn't the case unfortunately, and it feels like the show ended without a resolution. And as for the character drama, well, I've seen this kind of stuff before and it really wasn't all that special on its own, so I just didn't really get emotionally involved at all.  It isn't bad exactly, but it didn't impress me either.  6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on May 28, 2015, 11:19:43 AM
Toward the Terra
(1980 movie)

Gads this movie was bad, in pretty much the same way the 1980 Cyborg 009 movie was bad – loads of corn and preaching without much of an interesting plot to hold it together.  Actually I'd say the main problem with the plot is that there seemed to be way too much of it to fit into just one movie.  I guess that didn't stop whoever made this from trying, though.

The story follows a young protagonist, Jomy Marcus Shin, as he's about to become an adult at the ripe old age of 14.  This goes hand in hand with the backstory of most of humanity having escaped to the stars following the virtual destruction of Earth's environment and ecosystem.  Following this, for no rational reason, they apparently decided to just let computers run everything.  And not just any computers, but telepathic super-computers.  As part of this Brave New Word (*cough*), humans are now "rationally" grown completely artificially and raised by random couples in a colony that's supposed to look like some random Earth city.  Jomy is one of these people, and like a lot of young people he doesn't want to grow up just yet and he also questions the system, especially since the system is bent on taking him away from the parents he's grown to love.  Unfortunately for him, the computers that run everything don't like being questioned and tend to have people like Jomy killed, especially if wiping their memories doesn't work.  It doesn't help that Jomy is also a Mu, or a human who has developed telepathic and/or telekinetic abilities.  The computers also hate those people and wages a campaign of genocide against them.

Jomy is actually saved by the Mu, and is taken in by their leader who's actually named Soldier Blue for some reason.  Anyway, naturally having been trained from a very young age to hate the Mu has made Jomy very resistant to being around the Mu, let alone accepting that he's actually one of them.  That actually might've been an interesting story, but since they had to try to cram so much into this movie, that's over in like five minutes and Jomy actually ends up taking on Soldier Blue's memories and leading the Mu.  Convinced that there is a way the Mu can peacefully resolve their differences with the rest of humanity, he actually ends up leading the Mu to settle on a colony world that Earth had actually abandoned, where they then live out a luddite fantasy of farming and having kids the old fashioned way.

At one point we meet who's kind of the main antagonist but not really, Keith Anyan.  Truth be told, his character was probably one of the worst handled of the bunch.  He's supposed to be an "Elite", but basically he's a human who was rapidly grown to adulthood in a tank by the computer, specifically so he and others like him could be absolutely under the command and control of the "Grand Mother" computer that's running Earth, and to be resistant to the telepathic attacks of the Mu.  To do this, he was apparently created from the ovum of one of the main Mu characters, a blind woman we meet not long into the movie, and seemingly just for that connection.  Unfortunately this comes off as forced, as does the ambiguity they try to give Keith.  I mean, they sort of try to make him sympathetic in that he seems to feel sorry at times for killing people when the computer orders him to, and he does rescue another adult human who just spontaneously becomes a Mu one day.  On the other hand he's shown to be a completely cold bastard, and he does his damndest to exterminate the Mu even though they were just sitting minding their own business on that farm planet.

I guess the ambiguity comes from the fact that Keith eventually catches on to what's going on.  Early on, he wonders aloud why the Mu are even allowed to be born, since all humans are now artificially created anyway, and the genes that produce them could in all likelihood be found and eliminated.  This actually goes on to prove somewhat important later on, when Keith finally turns on the computer, though not before he follows its orders to shoot Jomy.  It really wasn't all that surprising when the reason was revealed, which turned out to be so that humanity had a common enemy among them to keep fighting, and to keep relying on the computers to run everything for them.

There's also another character, Tony, who was one of the first naturally born among the Mu.  He ends up leading the Mu on a campaign of slaughter himself while Jomy is conveniently sealed off from everyone. This is somewhat understandable what with how Keith is basically responsible for his mother's death.  To be fair Tony was also trying to kill Keith at the time, and that was when Tony as 5 years old.  Then at the end of the movie, with the big bad computer destroyed, humanity in disarray, and the Mu having returned to Earth, Tony and a few of his fellow young people decide to head off on their own, because for some reason he figures they'll be the new enemy.  It isn't really explained all that well, pretty much like everything else in this movie.

To be honest, I'm surprised I was able to write this much about such a stinker of a movie.  I guess that's because I recognized that there was some potential here that just got lost in everything being crammed in all at once.  On the other hand, it had one of those really preachy, anti-technology, pro-environment, "you shouldn't fight anyone even though they're trying to kill you" messages that I've seen more than once in sci-fi in general, but especially in sci-fi anime.  2/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on May 30, 2015, 08:25:39 AM
Toward the Terra
(24 episode series)

This series was 200% better than the movie that came out almost 20 years before it.  It actually managed to make the movie make more sense, though to be fair, being able to explain characters and what's going on in the story is a lot easier to do in a series than a movie thanks to actually having time to do so.  It kind of makes me wonder why anyone would try to cram such a lengthy and complex story into a slightly less than 2 hour long movie, anyway.  But enough about that.

The story of the series is probably 95% identical to the movie.  We follow protagonist Jomy Marcus Shin on a very difficult coming of age story.  The backstory here is that Earth's environment is ruined, and that Earth itself is basically abandoned save a few who are essentially guinea pigs to let humanity know when the planet has recovered enough for people to live there.  In the mean time, along with becoming completely frakked up by letting a computer control every aspect of their lives, they've made a home for themselves on many other planets in many other systems.  Jomy actually grows up along with every other human child on a planet specifically set aside for that, because the computer deems children too chaotic to allow them to be born and brought up the normal way.  Instead, they are grown artificially and raised by couples who have no blood relation to them.  When they reach age 14, they have to take an exam to enter the next stage of their lives, the exam being to see if they are actually a normal human or not, and to erase their memories.  Oh, and resist that or question any part of this rigid system, and end up getting killed.

That's what almost happened to Jomy, as he failed the "actually a normal human" part of the exam along with the getting his memories erased part.  Fortunately for him, he's rescued by a group of telepaths/telekinetics who call themselves the Mu.  The Mu are hunted down and killed without mercy by normal humans at the behest of the oddly emotional computer called Grand Mother which runs everything through numbered Terra computers.  For the most part humans do so without question, as they've been brainwashed into seeing the Mu as their enemy, what with the whole being able to read minds thing and being damn dirty mutants.  So, as one would expect, Jomy actually isn't happy with being taken in by the Mu, and in fact believes they interfered and caused the situation he's in as far as being a hunted individual. It also didn't help that they all bombarded him with their telepathic mojo as soon as he stepped on board their huge whale ship.

The Mu are initially lead by a character named Soldier Blue, so named because he's the head warrior of the group, and because of the type of telepathic/telekinetic power he has, which is quite powerful.  He and his people have been hanging out in a huge ship they call the Shangri-La, but everyone else calls Moby Dick due to its resemblance to a giant white whale.  The series actually differs a bit from the movie here in that this is their only ship for the most part, and it actually kind of looks cool instead of completely fugly.  Anyway, they hang out in the clouds of this child-rearing planet in order to rescue kids like Jomy who get found out to be Mu, hopefully before they actually get found out.  This doesn't work out so well for them when they rescue Jomy because their cover gets blown and they have to leave the planet.

Jomy ends up becoming the leader of the Mu, having inherited the job and the memories from Soldier Blue.  Blue isn't doing very well as he's actually 300 years old and he never had a very strong body to begin with.  He ends up staying in a coma until it's convenient for him to heroically sacrifice his life, after giving Jomy the cool headphones of power.  In the meantime, Jomy's childhood friends have passed their adulthood exams and have become students at one of apparently several high school/university stations used for the final education of humans designed to fit them into a cog within society.  It also just so happens this is the station experimenting with making designer humans who are resistant to psychic attacks in addition to being obedient and unemotional pricks.  This is where we meet Keith Anyan, said prick.

Actually, the nice thing about Keith is that while it's obvious that he's supposed to be the bad guy, and they really drill it into our heads that humanity has become Nazis, they do show a sympathetic side to him through his friendship to Sam Houston (possibly more than friends in Keith's head), who was actually Jomy's best friend during their childhood.  There are times that he's both a complete monster, and yet it's slowly revealed that he's simply acting this way, and truly does regret the vast majority of the things he's done.  It's bit confusing why he still does them, but I love the complexity in the character, as I do in any character for that matter.  It's just too bad about the Nazi thing

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/TowardTerra.jpg)
Space Nazis – a staple of sci-fi since 1946.

I guess they thought they had to make it really obvious that humanity was Nazis to make sure that we knew the Mu were supposed to be space Jews instead of space gays, which really, if you think about it, it could totally be interpreted that way.  Not only are they usually found out in the beginning of puberty, but even though they're still the same exact people they always were, they suddenly get treated like monsters by everyone they've trusted their entire lives.  But really you could insert any minority group there and it would work; I just found something to amuse myself with a little bit.  That and how practically every sound effect has been ripped off from either Star Trek or Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Really though, the whole argument about who's a monster is one of the best things about this show, because really both sides have shown they can be monsters.  The humans as monsters part is pretty obvious, but while the Mu start out being more of the mind to run and hide out, they also tend to treat people different from themselves like crap.  Jomy at first exhibited no outward sign of being a Mu, then turned out to be even more powerful than all the rest of them.  While some were cool with him and even really admired him, there were also plenty of them that treated him like a freak.  Then later on there were some other really powerful Mu that looked down on the other Mu because they thought themselves so superior, and even suggested killing Jomy and all the Mu elders.  Then Jomy leads the Mu on a war of attrition in which he orders the wholesale slaughter of humans, even if they try to surrender.  The only exception he makes is for a woman who was a friend of his as a child.  Even some of the Mu are appalled at this, though many others are totally for it because of how humans tried to slaughter them.

There's a definite parallel drawn between Jomy and Keith as well.  Both go through journeys in which they learn the truth about their paths and lament how things have come to pass, though each of them reacts to it differently.  This is another aspect of the story I liked, even if it was kind of hammered in as a completely obvious parallel.  Both men had protégés they'd rescued as well, though Jomy definitely treats his much better.  He's actually fortunate for that, because Tony, the first naturally born Mu, is so fiercely loyal to him that when the others like him suggest taking over the Mu through a bloody coup, he makes them fall into line and stop talking like that.  Keith, on the other hand, has Jonah Matsuka, a Mu who gets found out long after he should have been, but stays loyal to Keith despite Keith treating him like crap and intimating that he's be killed soon after the Mu were wiped out.  One of them dies to save their leader while the other becomes the leader of their people.  Can you guess which one?

So the Mu eventually make it back to Earth, only to find out that 300 years apparently hasn't been long enough to restore the planet.  This contrasts it with the movie, which showed that the planet had mostly recovered.  Of course the series stops just shy of blowing Earth up in the climax of the series, and the Mu end up having to leave until Earth can recover, made all the more difficult by the set-back Grand Mother's destruction caused.  Also, while Keith asked early on in the movie's story about why the Mu simply aren't prevented from being born rather than being hunted down, this question is saved for the series's climax.  Really the answer is much more obvious since it actually makes more sense than the odd explanation the movie seemed to give.  Basically the idea was to see if the Mu actually were the next step in human evolution by making the Mu and humanity fight each other to see which would go extinct and which would survive.  So basically social Darwinism taken to the extreme.

Overall, I really did find this series satisfying.  It had a nice even pace that didn't drag too much or try to pacify with action or fan service.  Actually there wasn't even much fan service to speak of, which was refreshing in a way.  It had complex, interesting characters and a story that, while it could also be simplistic in some areas, was fairly complex overall and interesting as well.  Mostly its weaknesses come from the anvil-to-the-head environmental message which is combined with the anti-technology message that stems from a premise that doesn't really make all that much sense.  It may just be a personal bias, but I can't see humanity handing over everything to a computer that kills them if they try to step out of line.  Talk about a robo-Hitler.  I would still recommend this series though, despite its flaws, because really it doesn't ruin the story.  8/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 03, 2015, 11:07:55 AM
Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt
(13 episode series)

Ah yes, the show that has apparently been the cause of so much butthurt from certain parts of the anime fandom.  And personally, I think I enjoy that fact as much as I enjoy the show itself, which is hilarious.  The key thing to enjoying this show is having a really great sense of humor when it comes to anime.  I, for example, love to make fun of anime as much as I love to watch it, because for every good anime, there're probably about ten bad ones.  Gainax seems to have a similar view on anime, which is why basically everything it makes seems to be making fun of anime as much as it celebrates it.  Of course this also seems like something that alcohol was probably involved in the creation of.  Apparently Drawn Together was a heavy inspiration as well, which is why having a warped and dirty sense of humor is also required to enjoy this show, because it tries to gross you out as much as it tries to make you laugh.

Since this show is more about having fun and trolling the average anime fan than anything else, there really isn't much of a plot to speak of.  The basic set-up, for lack of better description, is that the Anarchy sisters, Panty and Stocking, are angels who have been kicked out of heaven for being bad, and need to earn their way back by collecting enough Heaven tokens.  They collect these tokens by killing the ghosts that are constantly troubling Daten City, which is an Earthly city that is on the border between heaven and hell.  Garterbelt is an afro'd priest who keeps an eye on the sisters and hands out the marching orders they get from Heaven.  So basically every episode, which is itself split up into two mini-episodes, involves Panty and Stocking fighting one or more ghosts with their magically transforming undergarments.  There is no real overall continuity or purpose, though, except for a few where this is done just to throw the audience off.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are actually episodes where nothing is resolved, like say the episode where everyone actually becomes a zombie.  Then the next episode everyone and everything is back to normal.  So basically it's a lot like Star Trek: Voyager. ;)

It's really obvious though that the main purpose of this show is just to troll as much as possible, and by troll I mean everyone, but especially the otaku fandom that has been responsible for so much of the demand for the cutesy moé shit that has been so damn common since 2000.  Apparently it's really important for these nerds that the show's fan service be "pure," in other words a virgin, on top of being clumsy and not terribly bright.  Which is why Panty is a slut who loves sex and actually has made it a goal to have sex with 1000 men before she returns to heaven.  Then there's the animation style, which I can only really describe as something along the lines of the Powerpuff Girls or Space Invader Zim.  I'm not real familiar with the anime fandom myself, but apparently this animation style is another thing that makes a lot of otaku butthurt about this show.  And just to drive this point home, there are often segments of the show that are really well-drawn just to show they could do it if they really wanted to.  Mostly these segments coincide with the angels' transformation sequence, which itself is a shot at magical girls shows thanks to it being an out and out strip show.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/PS2.jpg)

While I'm sure a lot of anime fans would prefer the entire series to look like that above there, that isn't the point of the show, and if you ask why the entire show can't look like that, you have been successfully trolled.  Instead, what you can expect a lot more of from the show is this:
(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/PS1.jpg)

And I don't just mean the animation style, because the humor of the above picture is pretty much what you can come to expect from this series, too.

Another thing this show loves to do is to cram as many references to other movies and TV shows into each episode as possible, whether it's the title, dialog, action sequences, or even the character of Chuck, who is a pretty obvious call-out to Gir from Space Invader Zim.  This is also an aspect of the series I like, because, well, it's damn funny, like pretty much everything else about this show.

This isn't a show that's going to make my favorites list exactly, but it's still a pretty good show if all you want to do is watch something that's mindlessly funny.  So while I'm not going to give it an especially high score, I still like this show, and I would still recommend it to anyone looking for some good over-the-top humor.  I hope this review has at least prepared you a little for what you're in for, because this show isn't going to be for everyone.  Actually, even if you're the kind of fan this show is trolling, I would still recommend that you watch this series, because the thought of you getting offended by this show gives me an erection.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/t5tamu.gif)

7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 06, 2015, 11:15:43 AM
FLCL
(6 episode OVA)

So apparently this is the show Gainax did to get away from the depression that was Neon Genesis Evangelion.  A lot of the elements are still there, though, like the whole older women wanting to have sex with a middle-school-aged boy, and a somewhat whiny male protagonist who does nothing but bitch about his lot in life.  At least in this case he isn't nearly as useless.

I'm convinced that there's a plot in this OVA somewhere, but it's really hard to make heads or tales of it.  Whatever it is exactly that happens, it follows protagonist Naota Nandaba, a twelve-year-old boy living in the completely ordinary and boring suburb of Mabase as he goes on the weirdest coming-of-age adventure anime has bothered to come up with.  And really I'm convinced that this is the entire point of the series, because thankfully, unlike Shinji, Naota actually manages to mature a little and comes out of the story a little better for it.

Basically the reason he's such a whiny little bastard for the majority of the show is that his older brother has moved to America to go to school, leaving him alone with his father and grandfather in the bakery/home they have together.  His father and grandfather are actually kind of cool, but Naota naturally feels differently.  He also has to deal with his brother's ex-girlfriend, who is a high school student and has apparently latched on to this much younger version of her old boyfriend.  She's also not terribly bright, but whatever.  That's pretty much the running theme, because in this show, all the ladies seem to love Naota.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/FLCL.jpg)
The ladies love a guy with a nice big guitar.

There's also a girl who's much closer to his age who obviously likes him, but naturally he doesn't notice and actually doesn't want the attention that he is getting.  The attention that he likes the least is from Haruko Haruhara, the odd, pink-haired woman who he first meets when her classic Vespa Scooter runs him down and kills him, shortly before being brought back to life by a blow to the head with her pull-start blue Rickenbacker 4001 guitar and a little mouth-to-mouth.  This seems to have created some kind of odd portal in his head that generates various monsters and robots from the mysterious Medical Mechanica corporation, which has a large, iron-shaped "factory" in Mabase.  If that seems like a lot to take in, well, tough, because the OVA doesn't really care.

Haruko constantly follows Naota around, waiting for the stuff to come out of his head so she can fight it.  She does this by becoming basically whatever she needs to be, like say a nurse, or his father's live-in maid.  She also seems to delight in sexually teasing him, and trying to make him jealous by doing the same kind of things with his father.  Oh, and they constantly refer to "Fooly Cooly," which I'm convinced means the form of pedophilia when the grown-up is a woman and the kid is a boy.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/FLCL2.jpg)

All of this innuendo revolving around sex, especially as it relates to Naota is pretty much where the vast majority of the "coming of age" comes from.  Not that I'm complaining, because this is actually a big part of what makes the show so damn entertaining. 

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) this is yet another example of something Gainax has made that is mindlessly entertaining without making a whole lot of sense.  But then what else do you expect from the same people who would go on to give us Gurren Lagann and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt?  From what I've heard, the real reason behind this show was to try out a new animation technique, and that the story was something of an afterthought.  This actually seems to fit, because at one point there's another rather strange character who actually explains everything that's going on not unlike Mulder from The X-Files.  At first I thought this character might have only gotten things partially right, like Mulder tended to do, but after repeat viewings of the show (his exposition is kind of hard to follow), I'm convinced that he actually had everything completely right, like Gainax felt sorry for us and threw us a bone.

The "story" and the point of what Haruko is doing to Naota's head seems to have something to do with Haruko wanting some alien's powers to the point that she's in love with him, and she's actually trying to get him to come through the portal in Naota's head.  Everything else that comes out of there is from the apparently evil Medical Mechanica corporation, which is actually an alien invasion force bent on ironing the entire surface of the planet with giant irons pushed by giant hands.  Really.  The character Amarao exposits it in quite a bit of detail, actually.  He also wears the biggest eyebrows this side of the Monarch which are made out of seaweed and apparently prevent Hanuko from using his head as a portal, something he seems to have some previous experience with.

I honestly don’t know how else to describe this OVA or why it's actually a pretty good show and you should watch it.  The characters aren't really anything special, though some of them do have their moments.  Most of the fun comes from Haruko Haruhara herself, including some call-backs to previous work the animators worked on, even before they were Gainax.  Some of the fun is definitely had from trying to make some sense of the show, though to be honest I don’t really think there is much sense to be had from it.  It is a load of fun to watch, though.  7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on June 06, 2015, 03:52:45 PM
Huh, I did not realize this show was that short.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 07, 2015, 09:28:24 AM
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
(12 episode series)

Wow, this has to be about the only magical girl anime I've ever actually enjoyed, or at least to this extent.  What does it say about me and my tastes that it's also hugely depressing and that, well, there are some similarities to Higurashi? ;)

I'll try not to spoil you too much, but you have to keep in mind that this is one of my reviews, and I tend to like to talk about the stuff I wished I'd known about going into a series.  Speaking of which, I totally knew that this series would be a lot more serious and depressing than pretty much any other magical girl anime in existence thanks to another reviewer's brief commentary on this series, and in fact it's the only reason I bothered to watch this series, because as you know, magical girl anime is not a genre I typically watch unless I'm looking for some fan service or it's something that's making fun of the genre.  In this case, this series is more like a deconstruction of the genre.

For the most part we follow Madoka Kaname, a 14 year old girl with a househusband father and a cutthroat businesswoman mother.  You know, the average middle school student of the future, where schools look like glass cages (as they should).  Like most teenagers, while she doesn't really have anything to complain about, she still wishes her life was different and more exciting.  Since this is a show, naturally that's exactly what happens.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/MadokaMagica2.jpg)

Actually the show starts us off right from its very opening with this weird South Park-ish magical world where all the fights take place, and in doing so it not only introduces us to the kind of weirdness seen above, but gives us a hint that this show isn't so much about magical girls taking skyscrapers to the face as it is about them getting worn out and suffering deadly consequences if they fail.  Yup, that's right, in this show magical girls die and are not brought back to life.  Oh, for the first couple of episodes the show tries to fake us out, in more ways than one.  The first is by introducing Homura Akemi as a strange transfer student who comes off as a possible villain.  It isn't until later that we learn the reason why she's so hostile toward Madoka and her friend Sayaka Miki.  Of course by that time, we've already seen a magical girl die a horrific death by being eaten by the cutest witch/monster caterpillar ever.

And that's a big part of why I liked this series.  It's kind of like Higarashi that way – it contrasts cuteness with horrific things happening.  And this in turn contrasts this show with other magical girl shows, because while other shows of this type tend to play up how awesome it is to be a magical girl because they have flashy clothes, fight monsters, and save the world while balancing school and a social life, this one shows us what's being glossed over.  These are children.  Constant combat will wear down even adults who are mentally prepared for it, and the consequence of failure is death.  Most of the drama in these shows is derived from the possibility that the magical girls might fail, but they always win in the end.  It's even been brought to my attention that Sailor Moon actually died to push this even further, but she was still brought back to fight and defeat the bad guys in the end (as far as I know).  That doesn't happen here.

Like pretty much every magical girl show, there's a cute little magical animal companion, usually a cat.  In this case it's kind of like a cat, but instead it's an alien named Kyubey and his job seems to be recruiting young girls into making contracts with him to fight and destroy witches.  He'll even let the potential recruits tag along on missions with current Puella Magi to get a taste of what they're in for.  Like any recruiter he plays up how awesome it is to be a magical girl, and he even promises to grant any wish the girls can think of in exchange for a life-long commitment to serve as a Pulla Magi.  If that sounds like making a contract with the devil, well, they kind of gave that away by giving Kyubey beady red eyes.  I don't care how cute and cat-like an alien is, you just can't trust a face like this:
(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/MadokaMagica1.jpg)

God he's creepy....

In any case, though they witness the horrific death of a Puella Magi and are constantly being warned off by Homura that they are getting in way over their heads, Sayaka is guilt-tripped by a boy she likes into making a contract because he really liked playing violin and because of a crippling accident, he can't anymore.  You can guess what her wish was?  And since this show lives on being depressing, the little bastard doesn't end up hooking up with Sayaka, and she spirals into self-destruction, just so we can see exactly what witches are, and how horrible and alien Kyubey really is.  Which to be fair, his being horrible has mostly to do with his being alien, what with completely lacking human emotions and anything resembling morality.  Which just makes him all the creepier.  Still, while some fans try to excuse Kyubey for this reason, I still feel it’s obvious that he knew he was manipulating the girls he made contracts with and was simply too amoral to care.  Then, to depress us even more, we get to find out just how like Higarashi this show is by the revelation that Homura's magical power is time manipulation, and she's actually been going back in time multiple times in a so far fruitless effort to keep Makoda from becoming a Puella Magi and dying soon afterwards while fighting a hopeless battle against a really powerful witch.  So, much like Rika Furude, Homura isn't exactly the pleasant moe blob she started out as anymore.  The really fun part is that in one time loop she tried to warn them all, but seeing the ultimate fate of Puella Magi, one of the especially nice and friendly ones goes nuts and kills most of the rest of them.

The one let-down for me was kind of a big one in that the ending was pretty much a cheat.  I have to admit that there isn't a whole lot they could have done because they'd essentially written themselves into a corner, but this is probably because the pacing had been set too slow for such a short series.  Now, I'm not saying the show was boring, and to be fair, I tend to like it when a show takes its time, slowly unraveling everything for us, but when there were only 12 episodes to play around with, saving the resolution for the last episode kind of made it come off as very sudden and a cheat.  I say cheat because the ending basically was a way for the show to have both a happy and a depressing ending, both resolving the series and leaving it unresolved.  It could be that the creative staff is trying to hook us for another season, but at the same time there isn't a lot they can do without again cheating, the same way Code Geass did.

The characters in this show were for the most part kind of "meh."  The focus is fairly limited, so we don’t get to learn all that much about anyone other than Madoka, Sayaka, and Homura.  To be honest I didn't care much for Madoka.  As was pointed out by Homura in the show, she's kind of selfish and honestly seems to be depressed about nothing.  She has a loving, wealthy family, at least two close friends, and yet feels like something is missing in her life even before the whole magical girl thing comes up.  So I found her kind of boring.  Sayaka, honestly not a whole lot better.  For me, Homura was the interesting one.  She went through hell and was very versatile despite not having the kind of flashy powers the other Puella Magi had.  Instead, she used her time manipulation power to steal guns that she hid in her own version of hammer space.  She was also a very pragmatic character, and I dig that.  The only other character I much cared for was ironically Kyubey.  I thought he was written fairly well as far as the alien aspect of him.  Much like the Borg from Star Trek, he honestly thinks he's doing these girls a favor, even if he's actually doing something quite horrible to them.  He honestly doesn't understand why the things he does end up disturbing some of the girls he makes contracts with, because an alien probably wouldn't.  Of course, I do still think he's intentionally manipulative, and I think part of his lack of understanding human emotion comes from him not seeing humans as being any different from cattle.

While the ending was kind of a let-down, I would still recommend that you check this series out, even if the whole magical girl thing isn't normally what you'd watch.  If you stick it through to the third episode, this series will surprise you, hopefully to your enjoyment.  8/10.

/人◕ ‿‿ ◕人\
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 09, 2015, 09:30:48 AM
High School of the Dead: Drifters of the Dead
(single episode OVA)

Well, being the nerd that I am, I just had to watch this follow-up to the series.  And this is going to be a short review, because there isn't all that much to say about it.  You know how in the series review I mentioned that this could have been a serviceable zombie apocalypse story if it weren't for all the fan service and mood-swing-ish comedy?  Yeah, the OVA has given up any pretense of doing even a semi-serious zombie story. 

I guess the people who made this decided there just wasn't enough fan service yet, so they decided to throw in a beach episode for the hell of it, as this OVA is just an excuse to get everyone into bathing suits and to frolic together.  Oh, that and since this is an OVA they finally drew in some nipples.  Still, not much to write home about.  Then, of course, there's the reinforced misogyny in the form of all the women pressuring the two male characters into searching for food, just so they have an excuse to play around on the beach and have fun.  This is made even better by the fact that when the main protagonist (at least of the series), Takashi Komuro, fails to get anything, the same chick who was basically in charge of getting all the girls out of work gives him crap about it.  The OVA tried to say this was funny, but I wasn't amused.  But hey, there was fan service, so I guess I wasn't supposed to notice.  Naturally the fat nerd character that the audience is no doubt supposed to identify with is the one who gets everyone food.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/HotD2.jpg)
The expected demographic.

No one gets a chance to eat, though, as the perfect time has come for more fan service.  This time, everyone gets to hallucinate so everyone has a chance to make out and/or have sex with each other.  Everyone apparently sees their own ideal partner, with the nurse seeing her girlfriend, and the angry aggressive chick seeing her mom.  Yeah...  And if that wasn't fun enough, it's implied that Takashi made it with a zombie when he thought he was doing it with the psycho chick who got off on the violence during the series.  At least they show him managing to keep several bikini-clad zombies at bay while still hallucinating that it's the group of women he's with.

Of course, this OVA just admits that it isn't even trying anymore by expositing all the "important" information at the beginning and end of the OVA, with the characters even hanging the lampshade about it.  As you might guess, I'm not going to go easy on it.  And before anyone asks why I bothered watching it – to make fun of it.  It's not that I was expecting much out of it or anything, and as an added bonus it's only about 16 minutes long, about 3-4 minutes of which is the opening theme.  I did kind of think there might be some semblance of story, though, kind of like the series, but nope.  1/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 10, 2015, 01:20:19 AM
Moonlight Mile
Season 2: Touch Down
(14 episode series)

This series left me feeling frustrated, because while it definitely improved in terms of both writing and maturity, it still ended unresolved, and just as I was really starting to like it, too.  Cuss words!  You have no idea how much I hate it when a series does this.

This season picks up right where the last one left off, though it was nice enough to do a "previously on..." montage just to refresh my memory.  Just to refresh yours, this series follows two main characters, a Japanese man named Goro and an American named Lostman.  The two of them climbed all of the world's highest peaks together and on the summit of Everest they decided that they both wanted to climb even higher, by going to the moon.  They both did this in an extremely roundabout way, Goro becoming a notable construction worker and Lostman becoming a notable Naval pilot.  So by the end of season 1, both were in orbit with plans to head to the moon – Goro through the International Space Agency's project being constructed from the International Space Station, and Lostman through a secret military base run by a secret branch of the US military.  The other notable thing about the show is that it was basically an excuse for Goro to get laid every episode, and for us to see how good at drawing breasts Studio Hibari is.  Which is to say that they're pretty good, but I think they should seek other reference material since most of them looked porn star fake. ;)

In any case, I was just interested enough to seek out the second season of this show, due largely in part to the unresolved storyline.  Just as I suspected, the first season was just the set-up, but then the season titles probably should've tipped me off.  The thing that took me by surprise, though, was that the second season was actually a lot better than the first.  The writing was better, the story was more in depth, there was actually a little character development here and there, and best of all, the show even matured a little, so it wasn't basically Golden Boy in space.  Oh, there was still fan service, but it was definitely cut back on, and it was to the show's benefit that it could concentrate more on the whole "going to the moon" storyline instead of just making weak excuses to get Goro laid.

There were still a few drawbacks, mainly coming from the insistence of the show that the vast majority of Americans are assholes.  For instance, there was this Arab kid who helped to save Lostman as a POW back during the first season, and we get to see how he's doing in the US.  While I could see the government giving him some grief being a recent immigrant from the MidEast and gathering up a bunch of rocket parts, not a lot else makes sense as far as the racism the kid faces from basically everyone.  And really, at every point the show makes a point of showing Americans to be complete assholes, so that didn't earn it any points there.  And while there are plenty of assholes in every country, and I've met my fair share of them from both the US and Canada, it's not nearly as bad as this show made it out to be.  And this is coming from someone who tends to hate people in general.  But there's plenty of anime that seems to have someone with an axe to grind when it comes to the US, so I try not to take it too personally.

The other major weak point of this series is actually the characters, though this is more a case of "too much" than any real lack of trying.  The problem here was more that there were simply too many characters for any of them to get much of a chance to be more interesting than just some random extra with a name.  While I like ensemble casts, this show only really got half-way with that.  Unfortunately the show also picked up something of a spokesperson in the form of Maggy, a somewhat obnoxious young woman, at least in front of the camera.  Apparently she's the host of a show that's all about selling the ISA's moon project to the public, and she just happened to take the form of an obnoxious, somewhat moé Japanese hostess despite not being Japanese.  She even goes into space.  Thankfully, the astronauts reacted the way most normal human beings would when exposed to moé.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/MoonlightMile01.jpg)

Fortunately she gets better, for the most part.  She's actually shown to be somewhat more normal when she's not on camera, and she even tones it down a couple of notches when she's in front of it not long after she gets into space.  Of course this is also after she's revealed to be close to 30 and an aspiring journalist, so I guess they thought she should be a bit more serious to actually reflect that.

As for the story, big improvement over the first season, mostly because it's a lot more focused now.  The ISA's heavily involved in colonizing the moon in order to exploit it.  Just like in the movie Moon, they're after Helium-3 as a power source.  So this multi-national project is named Project Nexus, and it's being pushed especially hard by the US.  Since the last season, the ISA has been dropping crates full of supplies and building materials for the future moon base, and the first half of this season is mostly about building the Galileo, a large spaceship meant to take a dozen astronauts and even more supplies and building materials to the moon so they can start construction of the base.  Naturally, pretty much everything that can go wrong does, and just as the new big ship is finished and the crew selected, a massive debris field messes the ISS up with everyone on it, and they lose several astronauts.  They also mess up the space shuttle that is the only remaining means of getting back to Earth's surface, as the evac shuttles had been deployed earlier thanks to the most massive solar flare in recorded history.  So, with the Galileo miraculously undamaged, everyone who's left (coincidentally 12) heads to the moon, including the obnoxious TV hostess.

Meanwhile, the other big element of the story is all the politicking going on.  China isn't having any part in Project Nexus because they want to have control over the distribution of Helium-3.  So to start things off, they launch what is initially believed to be an anti-satellite satellite, but what turns out to be two space fighters.  Good thing the United States Space Force (*snicker*) already has its own fighters.  Unfortunately for them, the Chinese space fighters are a fairly even match for them, which is why there's a ton of debris that messes up the ISS.  Next China builds its own space station, and then quickly announces its existence in order to prevent the US from adding even more debris to Earth's orbit.

Unfortunately, while everything just kept building up, it became obvious in the last few episodes that most of these plot elements were going to go unresolved.  And just as it was getting interesting, too.  Hell, they'd even come full circle and actually showed what lead up to the opening scene of the series, though it didn't really make any more sense, unfortunately.  Presumably since this series was based on a manga, they'd simply run out of material to adapt to screen, and had to stop.  Or maybe the show just got non-renewed.  Or both.  But, just as with Zipang, whatever the reason this show had to just stop mid-stream like this, it's still disappointing.  I suppose that's actually a mark in this show's favor, simply because it was interesting enough for me to actually care about what would happen next.  This show was not only interesting, but it managed to hit some of the right notes in order to resonate with me during a few episodes.  That pioneering feeling that goes with space exploration and all that, not to mention an episode that ripped off October Sky (they even called it "The Rocket Boys").  So I guess you could say this was something of a double-edged sword, and you should really be aware of that if you think this show sounds interesting and you decide to watch it. 

Overall, this was a fairly decent series and I think it was worth the trouble I went through to find a fansub of season 2, since apparently no one has bothered to pick it up yet on this side of the Pacific.  8/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 11, 2015, 11:14:28 AM
Shiki
(24 + 2 episode series)

This series was both good and somewhat disappointing.  It was good in that it had an interesting story and somewhat interesting characters which kept me watching, but disappointing in how the majority of those characters reacted to what went on around them, as well as in how the series ultimately ended.

This story is a little like Higurashi in that it takes place in a small, geographically isolated village, and that a lot of bad things happen to good people.  In this case, ironically enough (on purpose, no doubt), Sotoba is a quiet little village that is famous for having a certain type of tree that gets used a lot to make grave markers and coffins.  Also like Higurashi, rather than taking place in modern day, it takes place at some point in the past, in this case the 1990's.  That's about where the similarities end, though, aside from having some little children which turn out to be evil because of what happens to them.  There are no time-loops or take-backs, though, just a lot of dead people.

This series has something of an ensemble cast, but focuses mainly on three characters: Natsuno, a high school boy who's also a prick, Dr. Ozaki, dean of the small hospital in Sotoba, and his friend since childhood, Seishin, a local junior priest who also writes novels on the side.  The story starts soon after an old traditional mansion on one of the local hills was torn down and replaced with a western-style castle.  No, really, a castle.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Shiki01.jpg)
Nothing forbidding about this at all.

It was built by a family of rich outsiders, who also move in during the middle of the night, rather rudely awakening some people so they can ask directions.  Still, all most people complain about is how the castle doesn't really fit in with the rest of the village, and how the new people pretty much keep to themselves and otherwise act so strangely (kind of reminded me of home, actually). 

Shortly before their arrival, there had been a number of strange deaths which left an isolated part of the village, which is spread out over a valley, completely vacant.  Then, soon after they arrived, the local moe blob who thinks she's destined for greater things goes missing after approaching the castle and is found to be in a strange lethargic state.  Soon afterwards, she dies.  While I was hoping this would be a permanent death and the story would be done with her, this series is actually about vampires, as you might have guessed what with the castle and all that.  It seems this "family" of vampires, the Kirishikis, has decided that Sotoba would make the perfect place make a safe haven for their kind, and soon set about feeding upon the locals.  Unlike most vampire movies, it takes several feedings to kill a victim, who even then might not necessarily reawaken as a vampire.  Pretty much all the other movie myths are shown to be right, though, and as an added bonus these vampires are not like the fangirl fap material that Anne Rice novels and the Twilight movies have made them into more recently.

So initially, no one knows what is going on, except of course that an unusual number of people seem to be getting sick and dying.  Dr. Ozaki initially thinks he has some kind of epidemic on his hands, and gets pretty stressed out trying to figure out what it is and how to combat it all while trying to keep it a secret so people don’t panic and possibly spread it further.  To complicate matters, the people who are sick insist they are simply fighting off a summer cold and refuse to be treated.  This is because while a single feeding isn't enough to turn someone into a vampire, just being bitten means they can be hypnotized by the vampires to do and say whatever they wish.  This actually made for a pretty gripping story, even though the audience is fully aware of what's going on even as the characters struggle against what they think is an epidemic of some kind.  It actually takes a while for the bites to be seen, and even then these are taken to be insect bites and therefore a possible vector for a disease.

In the meantime, Natsuno has been getting the feeling that the moe blob who liked to dress like a slut and had a creepy stalker crush on him, is still stalking him from the bushes outside of his window.  He reacts by hanging out at basically his only friend's house, sleeping over there at night to avoid feeling like he's being watched, and having strange dreams.  Unfortunately for him, his stalker follows him and takes her frustration out on his friend, who soon dies.  I'd feel sorry for him and all, but he is an asshole and I never took a liking to him.  I'm not sure if the audience was supposed to find him all "stoic" and therefore admirable, but I just thought he was a jerk.  However, he is the first to figure out what's going on, since he basically witnesses his stalker come into the room and feed on his friend, though at first he thinks this is nothing but a dream.  It also kind of comes back on him, too, because his family is from the city, so while Natsuno figures out what is happening and his best friend comes back to feed on him, his father undoes everything he does to try to protect himself.

While Natsuno is feeling watched, Seishin is likewise being stalked, but this time by a little girl who follows him out to his secret hideout in the woods, a small church.  He at first thinks she's just a strange little girl, but she keeps dropping hints that she isn't quite normal and is actually much older than she says she is.  She's also a fangirl for him, and has totally read all of his books.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Shiki02.jpg)
Isn't she just the cutest little killer you ever saw?

While I think Seishin had an inkling (and who wouldn’t with eyes like that), he only really accepts it when Dr. Ozaki also starts to figure things out and asks his old friend to help him keep watch on a patient overnight, because he's convinced she's being fed upon.  This is when both of them see a local woman who they both knew to be dead, hovering outside of the second story window of the patient's room, asking to be let in so she can feed.  The two of them naturally resolve to save this woman, but the next night the vampires conduct an overt attack on the clinic, which unfortunately only Dr. Ozaki and Seishin are around to witness.  They all attack the patient and kill her, but leave the doctor and the junior priest for now, basically telling them to back off or the same will happen to them.  And this is where the two characters react differently.  Seishin is a pacifist, so he elects to basically do nothing, and is disgusted at Ozaki for suggesting that they capture one of the vampires so he can conduct tests on them.

And really, this is where the show tries to get all moralistic and argue something that really doesn't make much sense to me.  Basically, it tries to humanize the vampires by having them argue that they didn't exactly ask to be vampires, which is a valid point, but they then go on to argue that since they have to feed to stay alive, humans are no different than animals to them.  This is not a valid argument, even though it's one that PETA tries to argue all the time.  The difference is that humans are sentient beings, and animals are not.  The vampires also refuse to seek any alternative solution which wouldn't require killing human beings for them to feed.  This makes them a threat, and frankly I don't have much sympathy for them, despite the show's best attempts to play up the tragedy of the vampires.  It's true that some of them met tragic ends, and this is especially the case for the vampires who refuse to feed on anyone.  But where I lose sympathy is when they try to use this tragedy as an excuse to kill others, who either stay dead, or are reborn into the same living hell.

Since both Natsuno and Dr. Ozaki have determined that they will try to fight the vampires, the vampires have decided to kill or otherwise punish the two of them.  Natsuno is the most proactive and is actually recruiting some of the other students who agree with him, so they take him out first.  Just to drive this home, they send his friend to do it, and while he initially doesn't seem like he can go through with it, despite threats from the other vampires against his family, he does go through with it.  Luckily for Natsuno, he doesn't either die or turn into a normal vampire.  Instead, he turns into a werewolf, though here a werewolf is basically what Blade is in that franchise – he has none of the weaknesses of the other vampires, and all of their strengths, or at least he would if he fed on humans.  The Kirishikis also have a couple of werewolves in their employ, who basically have been doing all of the dirty work for them, so that plays out somewhat interestingly.

When it came to Dr. Ozaki, however, they decided to punish him by feeding on his wife.  This was a rather stupid move on their part, because as it turns out, Dr. Ozaki is despicably pragmatic, so his reaction is to let them kill his wife, so he can then watch to see if she rises, and then conducts a series of experiments on her in order to figure out how to kill the vampires.  So basically he tortures his own wife to death.  And while the cold, calculating part of myself kind of agrees with what he did, I also agree with his friend Seishin, who was just disgusted at what he had done, and how unapologetic he was about it.  But while Ozaki now fully knows what he's up against, he then goes on to do nothing.  While he had all of this evidence he could have sent to the outside world while that was still possible, he didn't, so when he was finally bitten by one of the Kirishikis, he ends up destroying most of this evidence under her hypnotic control.

Really, things only came together at a point when I was just about to give up on this series out of disgust.  And while the bad guys winning doesn't necessarily turn me off to a show by itself, in this case I was getting fed up because no one who knew what was going on was really doing anything about it.  It was getting to a point that I felt that the people of this village deserved what was happening to them since they refused to do anything about it.  Hell, Seishin actually goes to live with the Kirishikis, which is supposed to be him "accepting" them for what they were. 

Thankfully, things finally happened.  As it turned out, Natsuno had planned on this happening along with Dr. Ozaki, who manages to self-treat himself with a blood transfusion so he can free himself from the hypnosis he's under.  He then fools his attacker into thinking he's still under her control, and convinces her into checking out a festival the village is throwing that night at the local temple.  As it turns out, the shrine actually weakens her, and Ozaki uses this to out her in front of what's left of the village, who then resolve to kill all of the vampires in order to defend themselves.  The odd thing here is that the doctor insists that they do this secretly, without involving the outside world.  And this is where a lot more tragedy plays out.

While the series really wants the audience to feel for the vampires, with most of them I really can't, as I explained earlier.  So really the only tragedy I feel comes from those who were recently turned into vampires and refuse to feed, but are killed along with the others anyway.  There are also a number of people who were killed who didn't have to be, because some of the villagers get too overzealous and either didn't pay attention to Dr. Ozaki's explanation that people who were bitten don't turn into vampires unless they die and therefore kill anyone who is bitten by vampires as they attack them, or argue that the bitten are collaborators since they are acting under the direction of the vampires and therefore should be killed anyway, even though they are nothing more than victims.  As the series is winding down, all the temple people end up being murdered as collaborators as well, because Seishin, who was a collaborator, hid in another part of the temple grounds and they knew nothing about it.  So really, tragic all around, unlike all the vampires who convinced themselves that their friends and family along with every other living human being were all cattle and it was totally cool for them to kill them as such, only to have some of these "cattle" visit it back upon them now.

For me, the disappointing part comes from how the series ends, so if you don't want to be spoiled any more than what this review has already given away, just skip the next paragraph.

Basically, the entire village is burnt to the ground, making the entire ordeal the villagers have gone through in order to wipe out the vampires to protect their village is all for nothing.  While the outside world naturally gets brought into the area to put the fire out, the fire did succeed at destroying all evidence of the slaughter the villagers were carrying out, it also destroyed all the evidence Dr. Ozaki collected and any evidence they might have which the outside world might actually find useful, considering that vampires exist and all.  Then there's the way the pre-teen vampire fangirl and the recently converted Seishin manage to escape during all the confusion with the fire.  And that’s how the series ends.  Hell of a note, isn't it?

When it comes to the characters, it's really a mixed bag.  As I said, it's an ensemble, so there are a lot of characters the series follows.  I find that this actually works somewhat against the series as it becomes difficult to keep all of them straight, let alone to remember all of their names.  There are also some characters who only seem to exist so we can hate them and actually want them to die horrible deaths, which they do, twice.  For me, though, the most interesting dynamic is in the character of Dr. Ozaki, because while he's more or less a good guy, he does some pretty horrible things, and to his own wife to boot.  And while both Ozaki and Seishin have an interesting background which explains why each is the way they are as far as how others have expectations of them which lock them into lives neither of them wants, Seishin is a coward and frankly I found myself wishing bad things would happen to him.

Overall, I'd say that I did like this series, though.  It was refreshing to see something with vampires that actually depicted them as monsters instead of as love interests for once.  So while there were still aspects of the show I didn't like, I'd still recommend this one to others, even though it isn't exactly among my favorites.  7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 15, 2015, 04:50:41 PM
Durarara!!
(26 episode series)

Brought to you by the same company who brought you Baccano!, this is pretty much the same type of show, only not quite as scattershot in its storytelling.  The opening titles even helpfully name all of the show's many characters for you, and show you relevant scenes from previous episodes it's going to pick up one or more of its many storylines from.  The only catch was, for me at least, it was easier to keep track of the storylines than the characters, although part of that may be because when I watched this, I was on some pretty serious pain medication to help me recover from some surgery.  Of course in Baccano! I could never keep track of all the characters either.

The story mostly follows Mikado Ryūgamine, seemingly an average high school student from the country who's just moved to Ikebukuro in Tokyo, Japan, in order to attend an academy one of his childhood friends is at.  It also follows a female dullahan named Celty Sturluson, who's in Japan looking for some head-I mean, her head, which was stolen from her some 20 years ago.  She now exists in Ikebukuro as an urban legend – the black, headless rider who rides a black motorcycle at night with no light and no sound, except when it brays like a horse.  There's also a cluster-frak of other characters, including some of whom are larger than life, like the guy who can toss vending machines around like toys and punch a guy out of his clothes.  There's also a group of four otaku (including one yoai fan girl) who seem to have not much else to do but sit around in a riced out van all day.

I'm not going to lie – when I started watching this show, while I got all the meta and referential humor in it, I just wasn't really interested in Mikado and his friends, or in his fish out of water story.  It wasn't until the show focused more on Celty that I got more interested, though to be fair, a lot of the characters also had something to like about them.  And while there is a story, this show seems to mainly be about having fun.  Not that that's a bad thing, exactly.

The story itself was about how basically everyone had some secret about them and how everything intertwined together, mostly due to the effort of an information broker.  He ended up in possession of Celty's head, and he had convinced himself that she and other dullahans were actually the same as valkyries from Norse mythology, or to put it another way, like a grim reaper.  He was convinced that the only way to make Celty's head wake up so he could see what happened was to manipulate the many different parties in Ikebukuro into conflict.  So then along the way we learned things about the different characters and about the different groups involved, such as the dollars gang and the yellow scarves gang, that were twists on what was initially told to the audience about them.  The narrative tended to set all of this up and reveal it in a very round-about way, which I have to admit kept things fairly interesting to watch, though this could also be a bit frustrating.  Thankfully only one episode went out of its way to tell its story out of chronological order.  Of course a side-effect of having so much going on is that, like so many other anime, there was a wealth of expository narration just to explain everything to the audience.  This was somewhat offset by making the narration from the limited perspective of some of the different characters, but I've never been a huge fan of narration.

As for the characters, they and the large amount of humor are pretty much what make this series.  There are way too many characters for me to have any real hope of going into, so about the best I can tell you is that none of them were really bad in the sense that I wish they hadn't been in the series.  There was a creepy woman who loved her brother in, you know, that way, and even a magnificent bastard who loved to manipulate everyone, but no one I really hated.  Actually most of them had a humorous side of them as part of the show was basically just being about having fun with itself.  Kind of like how Celty, essentially an invincible eldritch abomination, was afraid of some unusually aggressive motorcycle cops.  Probably the only annoyance I got was from Mikado and the large-breasted high school girl he had a crush on, and how their little ... relationship was basically the same as every other socially awkward "romantic comedy" type thing you usually see in the moé crap that's been making up most of the anime coming out of Japan lately. 

So while this was a fairly fun anime to watch in many ways, I wouldn't really count it among my favorites either.  It's worth watching at least once, just for the fun of it, but I'm guessing only the more seasoned anime fans would like this one, because people who are new to anime probably wouldn't get a lot of the humor.  7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on June 15, 2015, 05:06:25 PM
Hmmm, I've run across the title for this one a few times, but since my experience with anime is that the title usually has something to do with what's going on in the show, I had no idea what they were dealing with here.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 16, 2015, 12:28:14 PM
Gasaraki
(25 episode series)

This is another military drama series, for the most part anyway, with a heavy focus on giant mecha.  I can't help but reiterate how silly the idea of a giant humanoid robot being physically piloted is, despite all the technobabble explanations and excuses given for the "Tactical Armor system" in this series.  They try to claim something like this would be as fast as any rapid armor by running, but as an engineer I can't really see that being the case with such a design.  The other informed abilities, such as being highly maneuverable and the like are also pretty bullshit, simply because of the size of these machines and the fact that having a humanoid structure would actually tend to limit how well they can move around.  And as if to prove my point, for the most part that's exactly how these TA's are presented – as lumbering giant robots, slowly and sluggishly moving around, except of course when the plot needs them to move around really fast so they can evade and take out traditional armor.  I guess if there's one positive thing about this, though, it's that in this case the giant robots actually have their weapons built into them, instead of having ridiculously huge rifles or pistols they have to physically carry around in their robot hands.

Really the only reason I'm bothering to bitch so much about it is because of how much the story revolves around these giant robots and how supposedly awesome they are, even though the story itself really isn't about them.  Instead, it follows protagonist Yushiro Gowa, member of the large family owned military industrial company Gowa Industries.  He's being used as a tool to bring back some kind of ancient beast/weapon known as the title name drop, which he can apparently do by doing some kind of weird ancient traditional Japanese dance, or just by being pissed off enough.  Initially the series tries to build up a lot or mystery about him, along with another test subject just like him named Miharu, who pulls double duty as the love interest.  She's being used by an international mega-corporation called Symbol, which starts wars for fun and profit, apparently.  Fortunately, both Yushiro and Miharu develop personalities as the series progresses, or I might not have made it through this series.

So as I mentioned, the giant robots play a big part in this series.  We're shown the TA system being tested out by a small group of JSSDF officers in Japan, with everything being finished up just in time for a war to start in some made-up Middle Eastern country run by a Castro wannabe.  Basically the US picks a fight over what they believe to have been some kind of WMD test in this country, though everyone important to the narrative knows that this is actually the same kind of summoning that Yushiro Gowa was trying to do early in the series by doing his weird dance.  This ends up turning into a UN-sanctioned, NATO-backed invasion of the small fake country of Belgistan. *snerk*  Anyway, the Gowa family manages to arrange for their new TA's to make their debut in combat by going to this country, after the US-led invasion forces have been devastated by some other giant robots.  These are Symbol's, which they call "Fakes", and they're doing basically the same thing Gowa is.

I'll say right up front that this is basically the most interesting part of the story for me, mostly because it's a fairly straight-up military drama with some mystery and intrigue thrown in for fun.  While it's obvious that Gowa isn't on the up-and-up itself, Symbol is the big bad mega-corporation pulling the strings, with their fingers in basically everything.  Symbol actually has US military assets, as well as military assets in other parts of the world, which they try to use to capture Yushiro.  The Belgistan campaign is also where the JSSDF group that Yushiro is a part of has more of a role, which was nice because they were a fairly interesting group of characters.  Yushiro and Miharu also come face to face here, first in combat, and then in secret as they try to meet up and escape capture by Symbol.  This is also where Yushiro stops being a boring automaton, doing everything his family wants him to do.

Of course, Miharu ends up being recaptured so there aren't too many questions that actually get answered yet.  The action then moves back to Japan, where there's a conspiracy to overthrow the Japanese government and install what certainly sounds like a fascist government led by a very old-fashioned douchebag.  This guy only dresses traditionally, and carries a katana around with him, which he actually used to blind himself because he couldn't stand to look at modern Japan.  Everything this guy said led me to believe he was another bad guy and that he was going to complicate life for Yushiro and our band of JSSDF heroes, and to be frank even though the story took another direction, I still view him as a bad guy, who really was no better than Symbol.  Really the only difference is that while Symbol wanted to take over the world (Of course! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8u7px_GzWQ)), ol' scar face only wanted to take over Japan and rule it with an iron fist based on the rigid, supposedly ancient ideals that the earlier fascist government made up to control its people back in the 1930s, all so he could get rid of the foreigners in Japan, basically, and to get the Japanese people to give up such decadence as personal wealth and self-determination.  Oh yeah, later on, this guy gets made out to be a good guy, but at least before the half-way point of the series this was looking like a fairly interesting drama of sorts, even with the little jabs here and there at the US.

Things really looked up as the truth started to come out about Yushiro, and he grew a pair and ran off with Miharu, who had been captured in an attempt to infiltrate Gowa's research facilities.  The two of them do make a good run, and find out the truth of their pasts, but this is actually where the story started to go downhill for me.  Coincidentally, this is also where the series wasted a few episodes showing us a revised history of 11th century Japan, with many of the same characters as earlier incarnations of themselves.  Naturally, they all looked exactly the same.  This is also where the series really started to grind an axe against the US, which was apparently being a douche to Japan for no reason other than that apparently Symbol wanted it to, for reasons which were never really explained beyond taking over the world.  And supposedly everything started out with the USDA, being the evil entity that it is, lying through its teeth in an official report claiming that grain harvests were way down.  This set in motion a convoluted plan that scar face was going to try to take advantage of to meet his aims, and to allow the series to show the US acting as a terrorist force to attack Japan, you know, because.  Oh, and this is also the point that scar face and his plan is made out to be in the right, probably because this is someone's fantasy.  After all, so much of this series devotes itself to being fan service to traditional Japanese ideals going back to ye olde days of the samurai and such, supposedly.  Really the best part of this was the way scar face repeatedly whipped his katana out and used it as an allegory for pretty much whatever the hell he wanted in order to justify his ambitions.

Speaking of ambitions, the Gowa family was naturally involved in this plan, which would see it put in place as a powerful military industrial complex that was the real power, in the shadows, pulling the strings, because that sounds awesome to some people, I guess.  This is also where Gasaraki comes in as the eldest son seizes power of the company and family from his father, and plans to use scar face's plan of domination to his own ends in true bad guy fashion.

Anyway, as you might expect, while the US was totally going to go to war with Japan for no reason, the President apparently saw the light (read: made a sane decision) and called everything off, including the embargo on grain exports it had put in place for no reason, which is what had started everything off to begin with.  Why the US had it in for Japan or how a ban on exports to the rest of the world was somehow specifically a slap in the face to Japan is never explained, everything just kind of resolves itself.  Scar face suddenly sees the light himself (impressive for a blind guy), and after calling off his own plan to hurt the US economically, he commits suicide, in the way you might expect a self-declared samurai to do.

This leaves bad guy Gowa to carry out his own fiendish plans, which involves the use and abuse of his annoying little sister to bring on Gasaraki and give him the ultimate power (TM).  This is also where all that time wasted in medieval Japan comes to bite the series in the ass, because everything is resolved at the last minute and there is no real closure.  I guess the fun part here was the obvious rip-off of the last couple of episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion through the use of abstract imagery and live action footage mixed in with still imagery.  You know, the stuff NGE did to try to look cool after their animation budget had run out before the series had a chance to end.

When it came to characters, Yushiro was kind of interesting, at least once the series got going.  He finally started to resent the way his family was treating him and finally resisted it, though in my opinion he should have been a bit more active than just trying to run away, and later on just basically yelling at his oldest brother for being an evil bastard.  Miharu got the short end of the stick as far as development was concerned, because while she was also starting to resist due to the treatment she was getting from Symbol, after the pointless trip to medieval Japan she basically lost all of her personality and basically became a defenseless damsel in distress that Yushiro had to rescue.  I was also somewhat disappointed when it came to that group of JSSDF officers Yushiro was initially assigned to, because they also seemed kind of interesting, and they really deserved some fleshing out and development that they didn't get.  Actually, for some pretty long stretches we didn't even get to see any of them, until the series just decided to focus on them as part of the larger story, which unfortunately was executed in a somewhat sloppy fashion.  So overall there was a kind of blandness when it came to the characters, and between that and the story, which was somewhat interesting, I found myself kind of bored watching this series at times, especially during the middle portion.

I guess if there's anything positive left to say about the series, it's that it tried to make all the sides fairly ambiguous, rather than making everyone just straight-up evil for no reason.  That was left to the oldest Gowa brother, and for an earlier ancestor who did pretty much the same stuff back in medieval Japan.  The downside is that while parts of this series were interesting, large portions of it were pretty boring for me, and it actually became something of a chore to watch.  It picked up more toward the end of the series, mostly because it had to in order to resolve the story, but even there it was pretty lacking, and we never get to see the fallout of what happened over the course of the series.  So really, overall this is an okay series, not especially bad, but definitely not very good either.  6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 17, 2015, 11:53:24 AM
Time of Eve
(6 episode OVA)

I'm honestly of mixed opinion about this short OVA.  On the one hand, it actually is kind of touching, and I honestly would have liked to have seen the rest of the story play out.  On the other hand, it was kind of corny, and I couldn't help but think of geeks who relate a lot more with the women on their computers than with the flesh and blood women in their lives.  I mean, why else would you make androids who look like gorgeous women, right? 

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/TimeofEve02.jpg)

Okay, to be fair, the story goes a lot deeper than that, and the image above isn't actually what it looks like, at least not as far as who the android is there.  The story follows protagonist Rikuo Sakisaka as he comes to discover that his family's android maid has apparently been taking side trips to a small coffee shop named The Time of Eve.  Here there's a rather unusual rule, which is that humans and androids are to be treated equally, which is stated on a large sign in the shop's entrance.  This makes more sense when you realize that the vast majority of androids look just like human beings except for a holographic ring that floats above their heads as required by law for that every reason.  Here, the rings are turned off which really means that it's hard to know who is human and who's a skin-job (to borrow from another sci-fi) especially since, for some reason, a lot of androids act very convincingly human.  So basically the story arc deals with how Rikuo overcomes his own prejudices toward androids, and the mocking from society at large that this kind of liberal attitude usually entails.

In a lot of ways, I'm honestly not surprised that this is essentially a thinly-veiled allegory for bigotry – a time-honored tradition of sci-fi, really.  In this case, it was even pretty well done.  In others, I find myself disappointed that that's basically what this show boils down to.  Here, androids are treated basically like crap, and the big twist that most "normal" people would reject is that these androids are fully capable of experiencing emotions and of essentially being human.  Oh, and the few people who stick up for androids are lumped in with the kind of people who marry their hentai video games and given the label "android-ohalic."  Now, I've written before about the ethics of creating what amounts to a slave race in an essay that can be found here (http://theinfinityprogram.com/showthread.php?t=4015).  As you might guess, I find the idea pretty messed up.  I've also already bitched about becoming too dependant on technology in my review of Summer Wars, so I won’t repeat my short rant about it.  Of course, this show does kind of take a shot at people like me, in a way.  But really what it comes down to is that I find this kind of allegory rather tiresome now, and I can't help but feel that a lot more interesting questions are being glossed over thanks to the bigotry issue.

The story focuses mostly on Rikuo and his home-bot Sammy as they learn more about each other and basically fall in love, or at least develop a kind of friendship.  Or something.  Rikuo's kind of a dick until he undergoes a kind of personal epiphany as the story progresses, actually.  For me, though, the odd thing is in the kinds of questions being asked, which is to say not too many were asked about the nature of the androids and how they became self-aware and basically human, all while electing to not conduct a robot revolution and remain in servitude.  So while Rikuo asked questions about how long Sammy has been going to that coffee shop, I would have been asking about how long androids have been self aware, and how it is that they came to be self aware, along with other questions relating to that.  This is, in part, because I'm an engineer, so the idea of a machine becoming self aware is both interesting and somewhat disturbing, because really when you think about it, the androids in this OVA have no reason to be any more self-aware than what you’re reading this review on.  Androids should only have software, not souls; they shouldn't get happy, they shouldn't get sad – they should just run programs.  So for me, the idea that they could become self aware is the interesting part, which would then be more Ghost in the Shell territory I guess, or more like what Star Trek: The Next Generation did with Data.  That's why I'm disappointed this show went the more standard bigotry route.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, the show kind of took a shot at people like me by making people who are uncomfortable with the idea of having android slaves, or with humanity becoming too dependant on technology this show's version of racists.  It's a group of people that calls themselves an "Ethics Committee," and they seem to be a pretty powerful group, which dedicates itself to an anti-android/robot agenda.  They hate places like The Time of Eve and can apparently have people arrested if they treat androids too much like people, too, thanks to the connections they apparently have.  As it turns out, Rikuo's best friend, Masakazu Masaki, is the son of a top-ranking member of this committee.  Oh, and Masakazu had been going with Rikuo to The Time of Eve up until Rikuo started to soften on the whole android issue.  Naturally there's a reason behind this, and it goes back to something that happened during Masakazu's childhood, because even though his father hates them, he apparently has had a robot to help out around the house for a very long time.  Of course, the Ethics Committee apparently already knew about The Time of Eve and has been spying on it for a while, so that kind of leave's the coffee shop's fate a bit up in the air at the end of the OVA.

I'd be more butthurt over the portrayal of the Ethics Committee as the stereotypical bigoted people who just don't understand the androids, but honestly I can't get very worked up about it.  And while I was somewhat disappointed with this show, I still found it somewhat charming, and interesting enough that I'd totally watch a full series of it, presuming one got made.  But this show was brought to you by the same people who brought you Pale Cocoon, so that probably isn't going to happen.

The show also had plenty of genuinely funny moments for all the others I didn't find particularly funny, like the reference to Blade Runner, and the part were a really old robot came into the place with Terminator vision and a music score to match.  There are also plenty of other references to other sci-fi works that I recognized and smiled at, like a robot named THX, for example. 

The downside is that it also had some other things that tended to annoy me, like the whole "socially awkward male nerd and the women who love them" crap that's so horribly common these days in anime.  That and the Moé.  Like the 4-year-old girl who's brought to the coffee shop by her grandfather, erm, foster father, or whatever on a regular basis. 

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/TimeofEve01.jpg)
She insists that she's a cat, too.  Isn't she just cute enough to make you want to puke rainbows?  Did I mention she's given free reign of the place and likes to steal things from people so they'll play with her?

Oh god, I can feel it coming on again...  Must... resist... urge... to growl...

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/GranTorinoEastwood.jpg)
"Get off my lawn..."

Okay, I guess I'm better now. ;)

Another thing that annoyed me a little was the simulated camera work.  This isn't exactly something I would normally make a point of complaining about because, let's face it, it's anime, but they did the whole thing with bits of shakey-cam, and really wild pans and tilts, and it was a little hard in some ways for me to watch it because of that, mostly because it was a bit distracting from what was actually going on.  It does look pretty good otherwise, though.

Anyway, as I might guess, I'm not exactly a huge fan or anything of this show, but I still found it somewhat interesting and worth watching.  I would still recommend this OVA, even if I'm not exactly counting it among my favorites.  I'm sure some of you wouldn't be bothered at all by the stuff I found annoying or disappointing, and each episode is only 15 minutes long, so it's not like you're out a lot of time by watching this.  7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 18, 2015, 10:22:25 AM
Geneshaft
(13 episode series)

This was an okay-ish series, but mostly I found myself disappointed from the get go.  The series starts off with an opening scroll not unlike Star Wars, explaining the background of the little universe the series is based in.  Basically, there was some big war that nearly wiped out humanity, so the survivors formed an extremely authoritarian government and set about making the "perfect" society.  Humans are now completely genetically engineered and are expressly made to fulfill a particular role within society.  Emotions are likewise supposed to be limited, with love in particular being singled out for elimination.  One would have thought emotions like anger and hatred would have been eliminated, but nope, just love.  Oh, and they apparently decided to make the female to male ratio 9 to 1, because, well, sexism mainly.  Yeah, they try to explain it all, but really it comes down to gender roles and stereotypes, not to mention an excuse to have a bridge staffed full of bridge bunnies under the command of one man. 

Actually, some of the women have been specially bred to be completely emotionless in order to serve as "registers" to the few men that are around to keep track of what they say and do in order to make sure they don't get out of control, and to also do pretty much everything they are ordered to do – like a secretary and a political officer all in one.  Based on the premise described in the beginning of the series, I would have thought that all of humanity would be more like the registers than what they ended up being shown as, which was essentially as normal human beings.  So what could have been something like Gattaca meets Equilibrium kind of fell on its face, though to be fair that's mostly from the nonsensical charlie foxtrot way the series was executed in lieu of simply failing to live up to its own premise.  While there were a few token "lessons" learned about the nature of humanity, and how abhorrent the idea of humanity becoming what to me would be a nightmare, for the most part it was like the series only paid lip service to that aspect, and wanted to be something else it just couldn't quite figure out. 

On the one hand it was something more along the lines of 2001, which it copied both themes and imagery from, but on the other, it was mostly a generic anime that wanted to be funny more than anything.  It tried really, really hard at being funny, too, between the insane token lolis and the stereotypical bitch fights between some of the female characters, but I was more annoyed than anything.  Which is where the disappointment really comes in, because while it was obvious that this series was going to be kind of bad from the first scene on, it was also obvious that the series could have had potential in the hands of someone who took the subject matter more seriously.  And on top of that, there was also a lot of good voice talent involved (speaking of the English dub) – it had both the Major and Togusa, and Spike and Jet even showed up to visit for an episode (that turned out to be basically pointless).

And just think, I haven't even gotten to the story or characters yet.  ;)

The story follows protagonist Mika Seido, a teenaged girl who has just been assigned to a special mission to investigate a mysterious ring that's taken up an orbit around the moon.  We're quickly introduced to some of the supporting characters, including Mika's best friend, Sofia Galgalim.  But before any of them can do anything, there's a terrorist attack on the surface of the ring, which apparently provokes the ring to open fire on Earth, taking out part of the station Mika and Seido are on.  Fortunately, the ship they were supposed to be posted to for their special mission was docked there, and they were able to get there before the station self destructed, presumably to prevent large debris from falling to Earth.  But not before a touching scene where a character we never know and who I don't think even had a single line dies all to establish that Mika really hates her new captain, Hiroto Amagiwa, because she blames him for the death of one of her friends and is utterly convinced that he's a heartless bastard.  To be fair, he and pretty much every other human in this show's universe are, though.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Geneshaft01.jpg)
Too bad the Master Chief wasn't there to solve this one for them.

On the orders of a character named Lord Sneak (not kidding), humanity's newest battleship, the Bilkis, springs into action and manages to destroy the ring, but not before the ring takes out a small fleet of warships which were actually there to prevent the Bilkis from attacking on its own initiative.  Lord Sneak then sends the Bilkis to the Jupiter moon Ganymede, to check out some ruins that he says are related to the rings.  As you might have guessed though, he's hiding things from the crew of the Bilkis, as well as from Earth's governing "Council of Elders".  I mean, who would've thought with a name like Lord Sneak that the guy would be sneaking around behind the scenes putting his own plan in to action?

The vast majority of the series pretty much just involves the Bilkis, which looks like a giant sting ray, flying around space attacking and being attacked by more of the gold rings, with the help of its giant mecha, which they, for some reason, have named "the Shaft".  I'll admit that it was kind of fun playing with that name in my head, and that it was a lot more funny than any of the actual humor the series attempted, which mostly involved an insane loli forcing some computer geeks to resolve the buggy operating system of the Shaft.  Then there was the other part, which was mainly about how Mika really hated Hiroto, and another bitchy woman named Mir Lotus, who is supposedly genetically perfect.  Oh, and then later she suddenly starts caring about both of these people she was supposed to have hated so much, and to be frank really deserved to be hated by any sane and decent human being.

There was also a throw-away episode involving the space shuttle Columbia being transported to the future with Spike and Jet on board, all so they could meet the Mika and the others and comment on how completely messed up humanity has become.  Naturally they react the way any normal human probably would by attempting to fight back against it by taking over the Bilkis, so if nothing else they can see Earth one last time.  And then a ring shows up to transport them away, and nothing ever really comes from it aside from the message Gattaca gave much better.

When it comes to the characters, I have to say that I really didn't care for the vast majority of them.  Really the only one I liked who didn't disappear within the same episode they were introduced in was Mario Musicanova, voiced by Crispin Freeman in the English dub, mostly just because he was the most normal and well-adjusted character.  He also had a lot more interesting about him than the main character because he had become fascinated with how humanity used to be, and with the concept of love.  Most everyone else was either bitchy, psychotic, obnoxious, or otherwise annoying, so I really wish in some ways that there had been more done with Mario's character. 

And as an aside, damn the names on this show are lame.

Worth mentioning, I guess, is the giant mecha.  I can't help but laugh at the idea of a humanoid robot being used for space combat, but I suppose something this particular giant robot has going for it is that it looks kind of unique.  The Wiki article describes it as being "crane-like", but really it reminds me a lot more of a willow tree.  It also reminds me a little of the derelict ship the aliens came from in Alien, which I suppose makes sense given the way this show rips off- I mean- pays homage to other sci-fis, and that the Shaft was made using plans from a mysterious race of giants.  It also lacks a traditional head and has two projections of some kind mounted to its shoulders.  Oh, and it's named "the Shaft", and its main weapon could almost be seen as being like ejaculation.  Just saying.  ;)

Believe it or not, though, I can actually do a little more analysis of this show, because it actually managed to have a little depth.  Well, it wasn't really deep, per say, because it was pretty obvious, but I guess it was a little deeper than most of the bad shows I've seen.  I'm not an expert on Japanese culture by any means, but that seems to be what the show is getting at, because there's a heavy emphasis on people being forced to serve roles within society as a duty and responsibility.  From what I understand of Japanese culture, there also seems to be an emphasis there on that.  This is contrasted by the 21st century humans that show up, who are real big on things like individuality and being able to be whatever they want to be.  They also just happen to be Americans, who are generally seen as being all for those kinds of things.  I guess if nothing else, it was nice to see the US in a somewhat positive light in an anime.

I think the best thing this series has going for it, though, is that it's fairly short, at only 13 episodes long, so if you really want to check this series, out, you aren't wasting as much time with it as you would be with a 26 episode series.  To be honest, that's the biggest reason I stuck it out through this entire series.  It did manage to have a few moments that I actually found interesting, but for the most part I wouldn't really recommend this series.  It isn't horrible, but it is kind of obnoxious and disappointing.  3/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on June 19, 2015, 11:26:20 PM
Black Lagoon – Seasons 1 & 2
(24 episode series)

Put succinctly, this series is a valentine to action movies on both sides of the Pacific.  Not a hold you down and have its way with you valentine like Star Trek: Enterprise's last episode, either, but something people who enjoy old action movies from the '80s and '90s would actually appreciate.

Now, just to be clear, this isn't exactly what I would normally consider "good" per say, but you might notice that it's still ranked fairly high on my favorites/recommendations list.  Why?  Because this series is fuckin' awesome, that's why.  It's awesome the same way the movies RED and The Expendables are awesome.  Shows like that don't try to sell themselves as anything other than mindless action, with plenty of explosions and fight scenes thrown in, but without being completely stupid.  They wink and smile at what they are and have fun.  That's what Black Lagoon does.  It also references plenty of other cool action movies, which tells me that the people who made this movie are as big of film nerds as I am.  Das Boot and Terminator 2 are probably the most obvious references, but there are a few others, along with some Japanese action schlock just to round everything out.

At the same time, this series is more than that.  If I could directly compare this series to anything else, the closest I could come would be the short-lived series Firefly.  It takes place on an old PT boat called the Black Lagoon, captained by an old war vet (or so we're led to believe), and crewed by misfits.  However, this isn't the captain's story, it's Rock's.  Once known as Rokuro Okajima, he was a typical business yuppie who took any amount of flack from anyone just so he could maybe someday move up that corporate ladder.  One fateful day, he was asked to carry a disk with some of his company's dirty secrets on it, and as it just so happened the Russian mafia knew about this and decided to do a little blackmail, and so Rokuro met the crew of the Lagoon and became Rock.

There is no overall arcing story to the series, which instead is split up into a number of multi-episode story arcs.  Well, I guess that's not entirely accurate – the overall story arc is how Rock changes from the business yuppie into someone harder, someone who can survive in the dark underbelly of Asia that is Roanapur.  Not to mention someone who can survive having sexual tension with someone who's a breath away from blowing his brains out.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/BlackLagoon01.jpg)
Kind of makes the typical "Pride and Prejudice" bullshit seem laughable in comparison, really.

But the main point is that Rock not only survives, but begins to thrive, becoming a full-fledged part of the Lagoon Company, and impressing all the very bad people who make crime their business in Roanapur – people like Balalaika, the boss of Hotel Moscow.  Hotel Moscow, just so you know, is a part of the Russian mafia made up entirely of an elite military group that fought in the Soviet-Afghanistan conflict.

The stories that make up the series tend to be pretty interesting by themselves, too, in a usually messed up kind of way.  At one point they even managed to kind of make me feel a little sorry for some psychopathic little murdering kids.  Most of the time, though, it's mostly about awesome, over-the-top action, at least until it turns into the Rock and Revy Show in the last part of the second season.

Honestly, the characters are a big part of why this series was enjoyable.  Rock makes a pretty decent protagonist, who actually manages to break away from the whiny Japanese male stereotype every once in a while and actually stands up for himself.  Revy is very much the Ms. Fanservice of the series, on top of being the ultimate action girl.  She's nicknamed "Two Hands" thanks to her ability to accurately fire both of her handguns at the same time.  She also apparently has the ability to jump something like 20 feet or better.  As I hinted above, there also seems to be a bit of a romance ... thing going on between Rock and Revy, though definitely not in the traditional sense.  They each seem to be drawn to aspects of the other, and other characters even call them on it, but while part of me kind of would like to see that, I guess I'm not like the typical fanboy because I can't get past how certifiably evil Revy is.  She is very much the Jayne of the show.  I guess that's why I was kind of disappointed when the show kind of tended to push aside Dutch and Benny so much, because those two were fairly interesting, too.

Dutch is the captain of the Black Lagoon, and the owner of the Lagoon Company, which does odd jobs for whoever pays the most.  Benny is a computer nerd and the information expert of the company.  Both of them are pretty laid back characters who keep themselves calm and collected. 

There are also a number of minor characters who have their own little quirks that manage to make them endure themselves to the audience, even if they're bad people.  Actually that's part of how the show goes over-the-top, because I think Benny is the only character who isn't messed up in some way.  You know, like Balalaika, who just happens to look on the outside like she is on the inside.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/BlackLagoon03a.jpg)
Go ahead, call her "Fry Face," I'm sure she won't mind.

The only characters I wasn't terribly impressed with were the yakuza types in the last part of the series.  The show kept trying to impress me with how badass they were, and how noble some of them supposedly were, but, let's face it, they're yakuza.

Oh, and as an aside, swords could never cut through a gun.  Sorry katana fanboys, but no matter how sharp they are, they aren't hard enough to cut through a gun barrel.

Anyway, as you might guess, I thoroughly enjoyed this series.  It isn't remotely the kind of thing I would normally call "good," rather, it's carried by the sheer power of awesome.  If you enjoy action movies, if you enjoyed Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, or Firefly, you will definitely enjoy this series, too.  9/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on July 09, 2015, 10:34:54 AM
Sekirei
(12 episode series)

Sekirei?  Moar like Ecchirei, amirite? 

Okay, for those of you who don't know what ecchi is, that basically translates into lots and lots of bare boobs, with the nipples actually drawn on them.  Or, put another way, that fine line separating an R rating from an NC-17 rating, because showing genitals is one of the few taboos Japan seems to have, at least in their normal television programming.  And what I'm getting at is that this show is one of the most pathetic excuses to show as many tits as possible.  Now those of you who have been keeping up with my reviews on a regular basis know that I have nothing against fan service per say; I even prefer to have them show the bits instead of using anime anatomy if they're going to bother.  No, what bothers me is when that's the entire point of the show.  Oh, there's a plot, and even a weak story, but mostly this show is about how many different ways it can get women topless, and how many ways said women can practically throw themselves at some pathetic loser only for him to act like he's bloody afraid of them.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Sekirei.jpg)

You know, like every harem anime ever.  Oh yeah, that's the other thing, this show is also all about pairing this guy up with almost every woman he comes across, and even one small girl in order to cover all the fetish bases.  Oh, I'm sure some people will claim it was all innocent, and they were just playing that tiresome moé trope straight.  After all, most of the time she calls the loser protagonist "big brother", but later on when one of these women insists that being kissed by him makes her his wife, the token loli was fighting over him like all the others (don’t worry, I'll explain that part a bit later).  Oh, Japan, what is it with you and loli?

And just as a brief explanation of what moé is, basically it's the really cutesy character with the big eyes who talks very meekly in a high but quiet voice, and is also usually really clumsy. This was supposedly to instill the "big brother" instinct in viewers, but apparently for a large number of anime nerds it actually causes a boner.  Don’t ask me to explain; I don't understand it either.

For me, though, one of the more amusing/pathetic aspects of this series was that despite the fact it was all about throwing as many female characters as possible at the whiny male protagonist, it apparently felt the need to cover all of its bases.  So not only was there an implied lesbian couple, but there was some implied boy love, too, and even a really femmy looking boy for a female character to fawn over and even dress up like a girl.  You know, to hide him, I guess.

Anyway, I suppose I should actually get around to explaining what this show is actually supposed to be about.  Sekirei are actually a race of aliens which just happen to look human, and most of whom happen to be attractive, large-breasted women.  Their ship crashed on Earth in 1999 (the show takes place in 2020), and it was found by some crazy frakker with a dream of world conquest.  He names himself the "Game-Master," and founds a large military organization called the MBI Corporation out of nothing.  He then sets in motion the "Sekirei Plan", which basically involves all these large-breasted women fighting each other, sometimes to the death, because apparently there can only be one.  The idea, though, since they’re magic and stuff, is for them to find a human and kiss them, thereby getting their "wings", which unlocks special powers they can then use in their fights.  These humans are called ashikabi.  Minato Sahashi ends up becoming one such ashikabi one day when Musubi literally falls out of the sky and into his lap.  You have no idea how common something like this is in the "romantic comedy" genre of anime, and in fact when this first happened, I thought this was going to be a "magical girlfriend" series, which basically entails some pathetic loser suddenly getting the perfect girlfriend one day, who is really awesome at cooking and doing other household chores while also usually having some kind of special powers or abilities.  But since Minato ends up with five or six of them, that makes this a harem anime.

It all started because Minato helped Musubi out against a couple of other sekirei, who were trying to take her out before she could become "winged."  As a way of saying thanks, she kisses him, which causes her to become "winged."  It also means she basically belongs to him, so you can guess where that kind of leads, or would lead anyway if Minato wasn't afraid of women who want to have sex with him.  But since he lives in an apartment rented to him by an old fart who had a morality clause in the lease, he loses his apartment and ends up living in a boarding house of some kind, where it just so happens that a bunch of other sekirei also live, which includes the landlady by-the-by.  He then ends up collecting sekirei, either by rescuing them, or because they seek him out and sexually assault him.

The fun part of all of this, though, is that supposedly at least in the beginning, all these fights are supposed to take place in secret.  That's funny, because right from the start these fights were taking place in the open.  The other fun part is how the fights usually result in shredded clothing and mostly naked women, because their clothes are apparently made out of something even weaker than tissue paper – just getting punched is enough to shred clothing.

Anyway, as the series progresses, Minato meets other ashikabi and sekirei, including one pair of them that actually wants nothing to do with the "Sekirei Plan" and wants to get the hell out of dodge.  This kind of becomes the "drama" of the series, because by this point, MBI has completely taken over Tokyo, and for some reason the JSDF is powerless to stop them, though the series never bothers to explain why.  Minato agrees to help them get out of the city, and talks most of his harem, and another ashikabi with two sekirei he's managed to befriend, into helping him out with this plan.  But naturally things go wrong, and drama supposedly happens, including a part where Musubi is defeated and it looks like she's a goner.  Then the show pulls a miraculous recovery out of its fourth point of contact that makes no sense at all, but somehow involves a multiple personality that Musubi has.

I guess if there's one positive aspect to the series, it's that Minato actually shows a little character growth from the beginning of the series – a little.  Instead of being a whiny pathetic loser that cries at the drop of a hat, he's a whiny pathetic loser that cries at the drop of a hat, and actually throws a punch to defend himself.  Of course he manages to knock himself on his own ass in the process, so there you go.

I'm not even going to discuss the characters any further.  There are a lot of them, but there isn't a whole lot to them.  Of course this show is about boobs, so I guess that's to be expected.

I'm sure some of you are probably wondering why I bothered watching this series since it's obvious I didn't like it.  Well, to be honest my friends talked me into it.  Every once in a while they pick out a show they know is going to be bad and subject themselves to it, and since this one didn't seem as bad as say My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute or Ouran High School Host Club, I decided to go along with it.  I'm just glad it was only 12 episodes long, or at least that's all that was on Netflix at the time.  As it turns out there's an OVA and a second season, but I'm not going to bother watching those, and if you actually like this show you probably wouldn't want me to review them. 

I really can't think of a show more deserving of a low score.  Originally I gave it a goose-egg, but that was mainly because I'd also originally scored Ah! My Goddess a 1.  Time and retrospective has led to me being a bit kinder on some of my ratings, and that's the case here, too.  So basically I'm throwing this series a bone because, well, I kind of like boobs and this series had some rather nicely drawn ones.  ;)  I guess you could say it was the only real substance the series had...  1/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on July 17, 2015, 01:37:30 AM
Night Raid 1931
(16 episode series)

I hate to say it, but probably the most positive thing I can say about this series is that it tried.  I mean, compared to the moé/fan service –filled crap that's been coming out more lately, it was nice to see a new series that didn't revolve entirely around boobs.  By comparison, this series was actually pretty mature, though it did still indulge in a bathhouse scene.

This series is a bit like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets Forest Gump in that it follows the exploits of a secretive group of spies called "Sakurai Kikan" during significant historical events, yet has been lost to history.  Oh, and these spies all have special talents, like telepathy, Nightcrawler-like teleportation, and the ability to deflect bullets using some kind of kinetic field.  This show uses something of an ensemble cast of characters, so there isn't really any one protagonist.  If anything, there's something of a big three between the characters of Aoi Miyoshi, Kazura Iha, and Yukina Sonogi.  I know some of you are probably wondering who the hell these characters are, and why you should care, but I honestly can't be arsed to say much about them.  "Meh" is the word here.

The story has both stand-alone filler episodes and story arc episodes that revolve around a plot by a rogue group of Japanese soldiers who have disappeared in Manchuria.  This also just happens to coincide with the Manchurian Incident, which as you might recall was a fairly transparent excuse that Japan used to invade and occupy the region so it could exploit its resources.  As you might guess, the story is very involved and somewhat dramatic as our group of spies tries to figure out what's going on, as the Manchurian Incident is only just the beginning of another plot.  The stand-alone episodes serve mainly to break up the tension a bit, and to do a little character development.

The thing is, while I like a good steady pace, and a series that takes its time to unravel a plot and let us get to know the characters, there just wasn't enough in this series to make me feel all that strongly about it.  I like history, and I'm even something of a history buff, but there just wasn't enough here to keep me interested.  If the series had focused more on the real historical problems, or just more on the group of spies, it might have been a bit better, but as it was, I never found myself much caring about any of the characters or what was going on around them.  For a brief time there, I was thinking that this series was taking an alternate history route because the big evil secret plan was for the development and deployment of an atomic bomb in the name of creating a world-wide peace, because, you know, the Cold War was an awesome, really peaceful period in our history that never threatened to turn hot at any point.  And then of course there's the whole destroying Shanghai and spreading nuclear fallout all over the Chinese countryside thing that was an integral part of their plan.  But, much like The Daughter of Twenty Faces before it, despite everything that happened, including a telepathic attack that made a huge number of people experience a nuclear detonation, everything was neatly wrapped up and never spoken of again so history could resume the course that we're all familiar with. 

I wanted to like this series – really, I did.  It was a break from the usual tripe that makes up most of anime these days.  But, it just wasn't very interesting to me.  Others may feel differently, but overall my experience was very bland.  It wasn't quite boring to the point that it was a chore to watch, but it certainly wasn't compelling or dramatic either.  It tried, but it just didn't quite succeed, at least not with me.  6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on July 18, 2015, 12:57:19 AM
Gunsmith Cats
(3 episode OVA)

You know, it's shows like this that kind of makes me appreciate older anime.  It actually has a half-way interesting plot, characters, and a story that doesn't focus entirely around fan service.  Oh sure, it still has fan service, but it's definitely not as in your face about it, or nearly as frequent, because, you know, there's a story going on.

In this case, the story follows two young female bounty hunters as they become involved in a gunrunning investigation.  And by involved, I mean the ATF blackmailed them into helping, because as it turns out Irene "Rally" Vincent, and her petite partner, "Minnie" May Hopkins also run their own gun shop, and they apparently don’t quite comply with the oppressive gun laws in Chicago.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/GunsmithCats01.jpg)
You tell 'em, ladies.

Oh, yeah, that's the other thing, this takes place completely in Chicago, and as an aside, I really have to give kudos to the people who made this, because it's obvious that they really did their homework.  While the look of the series is still somewhat cartoony, they still managed to capture the look of various American vehicles, official symbols and seals, and of Chicago itself.  Hell, they even managed to convey how much Chicago hates the Second Amendment, and I bet they weren't even trying.  ;)

Anyway, the story follows Rally, Minnie, and the ATF agent that blackmailed them into helping his investigation as they discover what looks like a fairly typical gang-related gunrunning operation actually goes a lot higher.  This is somewhat amusing in light of more recent events involving the BATFE, which has added a few more letters to its alphabet soup since this OVA was made – you know, that whole "Fast and Furious" operation aimed at undermining the Second Amendment.  Oh, don't ever change, ATF…

Okay, this show isn't really about politics, and it also isn't what might be called especially thoughtful or deep, but it does have a coherent story and a plot that moves along at a nice pace, so I still feel this is a good show overall.  It also really helped that Rally and Minnie were my kind of action girls, and that even the ATF agent that blackmailed them managed to endure himself a bit to me.  There are plenty of action clichés to go along with everything, but the series manages to not take itself all that seriously without quite crossing into the mindless crap that a lot of action stories often do.  That being said, the big reveal at the end wasn't very surprising, but it was still interesting watching everyone get there.

So if you enjoy light action fluff, this is definitely a show you might want to watch.  Honestly, my biggest disappointment with it is that this wasn't a full-blown series.  This isn't quite a favorite, but it's pretty close.  8/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on July 18, 2015, 02:35:12 AM
Huh, another one that Sage covered. I think he was a bit more down on this one than you were. (It's been a while since the last time I watched that review.)
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on July 18, 2015, 10:55:34 AM
I remember one of the problems he had was in believing Minnie May had time to set up all those traps at the end of the show, and that's fair enough.  Personally I was enjoying it enough to just let it slide.  Since writing this review I've actually read the original manga, and it has a lot of similar stretches, along with a number of other things that essentially make it juvenile fantasy (aside from neat toys and other acts that are basically impossible, there's also a ton of nudity and even sexual content), but I guess it did it in such a way to still make it enjoyable for me to read.  There are some things I wish had made it into the anime, but there's plenty that it's probably just as well that it didn't.

Also since writing this review, I've actually gone to Chicago myself, twice now, and on the last trip I saw enough of the city in daylight to actually be able to identify where one of the chase sequences took place (one of the major bridges over the Chicago River), so I'm again a bit impressed by the creative team behind the manga and the anime.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on July 20, 2015, 09:42:58 PM
Riding Bean
(single episode OVA)

Ah yes, the '80s.  I don't quite know what it is, but there's a special something about watching old action anime like this.  I mean, I know there's plenty of more modern anime that isn't afraid to show blood and guts, but for some reason the stuff from the '80s really stands out.

Anyway, as some of you no doubt know, this is actually a spiritual predecessor to Gunsmith Cats, and it even features a character by the name of Rally Vincent.  Of course, like a lot of anime, as the chick, she's playing second fiddle to a male protagonist, in this case named Bean Bandit.  He's a mercenary, working odd jobs as a courier of sorts, whether as a getaway driver, or to deliver a kidnap victim.  Naturally, this has caused him to earn the animosity of the Chicago Police Department, and at points I couldn't help but be reminded a bit of Blues Brothers.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/RidingBean.jpg)
Can't quite put my finger on why, though...

Bean himself actually reminds me a bit of Johnny Bravo, between how he looks and how he sounds, he's basically the darker skinned, brunette twin of good ol' Johnny.  Of course he actually succeeds at most of what he does and he probably does plenty of Rally racing, too, if you know what I mean (of course you do).

A one-off, this OVA is about an evil lesbian and her convoluted plan to kidnap the owner of some big made-up company.  To do so, she hires Bean as a getaway driver after robbing a bank in the middle of a mall, and manages to get him on camera with what appears to be the daughter of the business guy in the back of his car, not long after they'd actually kidnapped said 11 year old girl.  But, as it turns out, the little girl who went on the bank job with the evil lesbian is actually working for her, in more ways than one.  Yes, yes, corrupted loli lesbian, lover and submissive to the evil lesbian.  Oh Japan...

So the evil lesbian went through a lot of trouble to get $2 million and a hostage, all while framing Bean for kidnapping, though to be frank he was already a wanted criminal, so it's not like she'd have had to do much to get the cops on his tail.  And, just as you'd expect for a simple action flick like this, everything works out for our anti-hero and his partner.  And since Bean has a soft spot for kids (no, not that way, perv), he even seems to adopt the corrupted lesbian loli as an added bonus.

This is not what would really be considered a good anime – generic, simplistic, clichéd, and a bit predictable –  but it was still somewhat enjoyable to watch.  I'd blame it on nostalgia, but I actually only got into anime starting in 2001/2002, so it probably just has more to do with shows like High School of the Dead and Sekirei making me appreciate older anime a bit more.  Of course, I've always kind of appreciated older anime, so I've never understood why so many people dismiss it out of hand.  I mean, I get that the older dubs can be a bit grating, and this one's dub doesn't do it any favors either, but the stories and characters tend to be a bit more interesting, so I tend to overlook things like that.

To sum it up, this isn't quite as good as Gunsmith Cats in my opinion, though it did have a charm all it's own.  I think it's still worth a watch, though.  7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on July 27, 2015, 10:13:03 AM
[C]: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control
(11 episode series)

I have to admit, when I first heard about this series, it didn't strike me as something I'd be interested in.  I forget why I ended up deciding to watch it, so all I can really do is shrug my shoulders after the fact.  To be honest, I almost didn't finish watching this series after watching the first couple of episodes, but being a believer in the "three episode rule" I decided to give it one more episode before I gave up on it entirely, and it managed to keep me interested just enough to keep watching.

This series follows an average college student, Kimimaro Yoga, just trying to make it through college without ending up in debt or having to ask others for financial help.  This is a nice break from the norm of watching the antics of some average high school student, but as far as the story structure goes, that fact is pretty irrelevant because everything plays out in about the same way.  The series tried to make up for this a little by giving us something kind of different to introduce itself with instead of starting by introducing its rather unremarkable protagonist.  That basically translated into a kind of video game battle between some generic loser who's down on his luck already and the guy who will come to be known as the antagonist.  I can't say that I was especially wowed or impressed in any way.  In fact, for the first two episodes, I was kind of bored by what looked like another generic fighting anime to me. 

This series reminded me a lot of what I've seen and heard about Pokémon, because the series focuses almost entirely on these one on one gladiatorial style battles between two people, called "Entrés," and the monsters they all apparently own, called "assets."  The "gotta catch 'em all" would be the money the Entrés are fighting over, I guess.  Add to that the way everything comes off as being from a video game, what with the loud announcements of the various powers being used sounding like the announcement for using a combo move in a fighting game, and I couldn't help but think of this as Pokémon with economics jargon.  Oh, yeah, that's the other thing; I couldn't help but be left with the impression that this series used economic terms like the Star Trek franchise used science terms, particularly during the Voyager/Enterprise years, which is to say basically just as cool-sounding terms for the characters to rattle off while they did things.  Combine that with the way the entire point of the series started coming off to me just as an excuse to fantasize about being rich and spending money on really stupid things, and I just wasn't very impressed with the series.

Thankfully, this series started to show a little depth starting in the third episode, when it became apparent that it wasn't so much about how rich some assholes were as it was about how messed up the effects of what they did in their little virtual world were when translated into the real world, like say a character losing all of his kids because he went bankrupt in this virtual Financial District.  At that point it became more apparent that all the random background talk about suicides and crime being on the rise and birth rates being on the decline were more than just mood setting.  To the series's credit, it did explain that the money of the Financial District, Midas Notes, used the future as collateral.  However, this was rather meaningless until the series actually got around to explaining it.  It also made Masakaki, the strange Mad Hatter character who invited Kimimaro into the strange world of the Financial District somewhat more sinister on top of just being generally strange and creepy. 

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/C.jpg)
It's kind of offset by his appearance, though.

The strength of this series is mainly in the depth it gives its characters rather than in its plot.  The plot is basically all about saving the world, because this business with the Financial District can actually make entire nations cease to exist, landmass included.  It helps to add a sense of drama as the story progresses, but it isn't terribly compelling on its own.  The story is about Kimimaro and his growth as a person, which is amplified and reflected by his antagonist, Souichirou Mikuni.  The two of them are both similar in that they both only wanted simple lives that they could enjoy on their own, but were caught up in the business of making money.  They also both have similar goals in that both want to save Japan, but they are different in how they want to go about it.  Souichirou's solution is to buy up the debt of Japan directly, but the problem is that he uses the Midas money of the Financial District, so in return for "saving" Japan, it turns Japan into a corporate financial wasteland not unlike what many dystopian sci-fis of the '80s envisioned.  The main argument here is philosophical: is the present or the future worth more?  Souichirou feels that the present is more important, and for a while Kimimaro isn't sure, but eventually he decides the future is worth more.

If I give this series props for anything, though, it has to be with Souichirou's character.  I mean, it was obvious that he was supposed to be the villain of the series from the very start, but they actually gave him some depth and made him a somewhat sympathetic character.  He was basically robbed of the happy life he'd wanted when he was younger, in part by his overbearing father and in part by his own inability to stand up for himself, and the ultimate irony was that while he'd taken Kimimaro under his wing, he was essentially trying to destroy the college student the way his father had destroyed him.  Things like that carried the series for me.

There was plenty, however, that knocks this series down in score for me.  Aside from the weak opening and the other things I mentioned, there's the way Kimimaro's asset, Msyu, looked like a prepubescent girl, dressed in next to nothing, and yet was pushed as a romantic interest of sorts for Kimimaro in a fairly typical fashion.  Things kind of took a turn for the weird (more so) when it was revealed that Msyu actually represented a possible future daughter of Kimimaro's.  Oh, and while the fan service wasn't nearly as obnoxious as something like Sekirei or High School of the Dead, it's also obvious someone on the staff had an oral fixation.  There's also a -1 modifier for the unnecessary America-bashing in this series, because that shit really wears on me fast.  I also can't say that I much cared for the story all that much.  The series was probably trying something a bit different by making Kimimaro so unremarkable, but between there not being much for me to really root for with him, and the story being so economics-based, at least in theory, I was somewhat bored with that.  What can I say?  I'm an engineer, so the numbers I have to deal with actually mean something – it’s not like economics, which is basically about philosophy more than anything else.

Overall, I guess I'd say this was worth watching just the one time, but it really is unremarkable.  It isn't horribly bad, but it isn't especially good either, and a good antagonist isn't enough to carry a boring story for me.  5/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 04, 2015, 11:15:47 AM
RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~
(6 episode series)

I really don't know how to describe this series, other than as gore porn or as fetish fuel.  While it had plenty of fan service, the disturbing part is that the sex and nudity tended to go hand in hand with things like bondage and sadism.  Oh, and it was filled to the brim with sadistic lesbians, so while there was plenty of girl-on-girl action for those who like that kind of thing, it tended to have a somewhat disturbing edge to it.  For instance there was the psycho lesbian doctor who got off on sexually torturing her female victims with piercings before bashing their skulls in, or the one who demanded sex from her female clients in exchange for information, or the one who got off on trying to kill the protagonist even though she knew that she couldn't actually be killed, so it was just all about causing pain and suffering.

Oh, yeah, I suppose that I should get around to actually describing the series.  It's essentially a detective story that follows Rin Asogi and Mimi, two immortal women trying to lead somewhat normal lives as they run a consulting agency and end up acting as private investigators.  We're kind of clued in to the fact that Rin is immortal early on, as she's coldly gunned down by a female assassin in the teaser of the first episode, and then wakes up the next morning in her apartment.  If that wasn't enough, it doesn't take that long for us to actually see the process of her healing and reviving after suffering a rather brutal death.  This is no Highlander stuff, though, as apparently the only part that needs to survive is the little "time spore" or "fruit of time" that has entered their bodies and caused them to become immortal to begin with.  The only way to kill them is to remove this little orb and crack it open like an egg, the cum-like fluid within the antagonist Apos apparently likes to eat, because it contains tasty memories, or so we're told.

Most of the episodes are fairly episodic, focusing on what seem to be random cases, like in the first episode where Rin rescues a clone and investigates his origins.  Each episode is 45 minutes long, too, so what would have taken most anime series a two-parter, this series is able to do all in one episode.  There is an overall plot to the series, though, and I have to admit to feeling a bit let down about it.  About the mid-point of the series, the story was actually getting kind of interesting.  Things were starting to be connected, and elements of the show that had always been there in the background, like the huge tree that was releasing those time spores, were becoming important to the story.  Unfortunately, everything came down to this:

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Rin02.jpg)
A giant red egg filled with man-hating lesbians with a giant vagina used to unbirth some unfortunate sacrifice for some purpose that wasn't explained all that well.  It has something to do with who gets to be the next "guardian", who apparently has something to do with the giant tree and the time spores it releases.  Again, that aspect wasn't explained all that well, just that Rin got knocked up and gave birth to a baby that would grow up to be the next guardian after her.

I will admit that despite all the fan service and the more disturbing parts, this show did have some merit to it that made it better than say something like High School of the Dead or Sekirei, mainly due to the story and the characters.  When this series wasn't busy showing people screwing (usually right before they were brutally murdered) or torture porn, it actually was a somewhat interesting detective story that took place over the course of decades.  Rin and Mimi were fairly likeable characters, as was the clone they ended up rescuing.  There was also a detective on the police force who would help them out, and he was a somewhat interesting character, though we didn't get to see too much of him.  It actually was kind of sad when bad things happened to these characters.  I can't really say the same about any of the antagonists, though, as none of them really have any layers to them.  The closest any of them get to that is the "shocking" revelation that Apos, the main bad guy, technically isn't fully a guy or a gal.  So basically s/he's a trap.  As for the good story elements, well, that kind of got to a convoluted part, because there ended up being a lot of connections that took things to the point of stupid.

One thing I won't give this series a pass for, though, is all the fetish fuel.  Bondage, torture, psycho lesbians – that's just scratching the surface.  Actually, as I watched this series, I couldn't help but get the feeling that the reason Rin was made immortal was specifically so she could be repeatedly killed in ways that gore fans could fap off to.  At different points the series tried to sell her as an action girl who could stick up for herself, but most of the time her she was just killed and/or captured so she could be tortured in some sadistic and usually sexual way.  Then there's the part where we find out that only women get to be immortals, so when Rin ends up fighting fellow immortals, who are naturally psycho lesbians, it came off to me as a kind of twisted version of some kind of a magical girl show.  As for men who absorb time spores, well they turn into monsters called angels, entirely due to the fact that they have wings and can fly.  They also have superhuman strength but are doomed to short existences.  When in proximity to one another, the female immortals are compelled to have sex with angels, and angels are compelled to have sex with and eat the female immortals.  There's also just plenty of sadism to go around, usually from Apos.  And for all the pervs out there who like jailbait, we have Mimi, who seems like she's only immortal just so some nerds out there who object to being called pervs can try to defend themselves by pointing out that Mimi was really hundreds of years old.  That being said, she still looked about 14. 

Of course, even the regular sex comes off as the writer simply sharing their own fantasies, especially the lesbian parts, which played out like something you'd see in a porno made for guys.  While the subject matter and the overall series was definitely more mature than something like Sekirei, it still wasn't all that terribly mature itself, and I couldn't just help but feel like I was watching porn with plot.

Needless to say, this series is not for everyone.  That being said, I know that there are definitely people out there who will love this series.  But for those who don't enjoy sexual sadism, you'll probably want to avoid this series.  I honestly tried to see past all that, though the series didn't exactly make it easy, to see if the story buried underneath was any good, but it really wasn't worth it.  I don’t regret watching this series, but it's not an experience I'd care to repeat, except maybe to show parts of it to friends for shock value, which puts it right up there with Gantz as far as I'm concerned.  4/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 05, 2015, 12:32:37 PM
Gunbuster
(6 episode OVA)

An early offering from Studio Gainax, as you might imagine, this series involved a lot of giant robots and bouncing breasts.  Actually, according to Wikipedia, this series is where the exaggerated breast motion Gainax would come to be famous for got its start.  I have to admit, though, that while it does have some things going for it, for the most part I found myself somewhat disappointed with this series, but that has more to do with the kind of anime it is than anything that was specifically bad about it.

The plot, in a nutshell, is that humanity is at war with a seemingly unending army of giant bugs that was found to inhabit the galaxy shortly after FTL travel started..  The way that this ties into the story is that the main character, Noriko Takaya, is the daughter of a famous admiral who was lost along with his entire fleet soon after coming into contact with the giant bugs of doom, and she has sworn that she will become a great space pilot to be like her father.  To do so, she attends an all-female high school academy that trains its students to pilot giant robots.  Later she goes on to become the great pilot she always wanted to be, overcoming the doubts of others along with her own to pilot the giant mecha that gives this series its name.

To be fair, there was obviously some thought put into this series, and I don't mean just in how the machines all work.  While most sci-fi tends to ignore the complications that would actually be involved with space travel and combat in space, namely the way relativity will make space travelers out of sync with the rest of humanity.  As one approaches the speed of light, time is slower for the traveler relative to the outside observer, so while only minutes may be passing for them, months are passing on Earth.  This isn't something that's just barely mentioned either; it's actually a major point that is at least attempted to be used to generate some drama.

I'm going to be honest here and admit right up front that I'm just not into giant robot stuff for the most part.  If I ever am, it's only because it's being treated as a joke or otherwise over-the-top in order to generate humor, basically like Gurren Lagann did.  This series, though, plays everything completely straight, and includes the giant robots as a part of what is largely a stereotypical military drama, one which focuses very heavily on the clichéd training aspect of the military.  And since this is Giainax, I'm asked to take a bunch of jailbait teenaged girls dressed in skin-tight one-piece bathing suits while they pilot giant robots and fight giant bugs seriously.  Now, as ridiculous as that sounds, something like that actually could be pulled off to an extent, though I'm not sure I could ever take giant robots seriously in any context, especially if it involves combat in space.  However, this isn't the only problem I have with the series.

The other big turn-off this series had for me was the way the characters were presented, which is to say that all of them were completely clichéd and stereotypical.  All the male characters were the ultra-hardcore badass warriors while the female characters were treated like wilting violets when they weren't being vindictive bitches who were only after personal glory.  Then there's the main character, Noriko, who is only just better than Shinji Ikari when it comes to whining and self-doubt.  Really the only thing that makes her better is that she actually has some character growth and overcomes these issues, albeit not all that well in terms of the writing.  Then, of course, there was the rather shoe-horned romance between the woman Noriko looked up to and the man who was coaching them. 

As a brief aside, the whole "coach" aspect almost made this seem more like a sports anime than a military one.

Anyway, there was competition between two women over the coach, both of whom were subordinates of his he was training.  Coming from a military background, that kind of thing tends to rub me the wrong way, but the thing I actually found a little insulting was the way the woman who had been Noriko's role model for most of the series completely feel apart during an attack that all of humanity depended on succeeding, because she realized the coach was in all probability going to be dead from cancer by the time she got back to Earth.  Really, though, this was just a prime example of how none of the drama in this series really seemed to flow all that naturally for me – it all seemed rather forced and trite to me.

That being said, there are probably plenty of people out there who would enjoy this series, if only because it's a space opera with giant robots, and because it's an example of Gainax's work prior to Neon Genesis Evanglion, which has in many ways overshadowed everything else they've done both before and since.  It's somewhat interesting to see aspects from other franchises which seemed to have inspired this work, Starship Troopers being among them, as well as seeing aspects of this series which probably went on to inspire later works.  For instance, I would not be surprised in the least if Shinji's character was inspired by Noriko's.  There's also a heavy focus on the idea of "hard work and guts" being able to overcome anything in the same way "spiral power" in Gurren Lagann seems to be, though decidedly more tongue in cheek than Gunbuster.

As for the technical aspect of this series, it actually isn't bad considering that it was made in the late '80s.  This is probably owing to the fact that it was an OVA, and as an aside, it's somewhat interesting to see similarities in the animation style and design between this series and the shorts made back in the early '80s for Daicon III and IV.  However, there is no dub available for this series, probably because it isn’t terribly well known on this side of the pond.

Just to sum everything up, if you are into giant robot space operas, you might find this series worth a watch.  As for me, that kind of thing isn't really my cup of tea, and other aspects of the series just made it an even less enjoyable experience for me.  6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 07, 2015, 01:50:49 PM
Redline
(2009 movie)

Wow.  This movie.  This movie is like Speed Racer meets Gurren Lagann meets Dead Leaves meets Dragon Ball Z.  It is one of the most over-the-top action movies that actually mostly made sense that I have ever watched, and I enjoyed every minute of it. 

When I first saw ads for this movie, I have to admit that I was initially put off by it, mostly because racing really isn't an area of interest for me, and it seemed like that's what this movie was about.  Upon seeing some newer trailers and reviews that highlighted the animation and visual design, I actually started to come around a bit.  I normally wouldn't go by visuals alone, but seeing scenes from it reminded me a lot of '80s anime and even somewhat of the old MTV Æon Flux cartoon.  It looked beautiful – hand drawn – and from what I was starting to see I was willing enough to give it a chance since it was just a movie and not a 26 episode series.

So let me tell you right up front here – this movie is about racing like Gurren Lagann is about giant robots.  This is to say that they definitely play a large part, but that it's more focused on having as much fun as possible than on anything else.  We're given a wonderful cast of outlandish characters, whom we are introduced to in the Yellowline race that opens the movie.  The only ones that are really important are J.P. and Sonoshee, both of whom are humans amongst a wide variety of aliens.  The other characters are pretty much just there as part of the humor, usually to poke fun at various genres of anime.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Redline02.jpg)
Which is no doubt why a giant robot managed to show up and do a little fighting, with some magical girls at the controls just for added fun.

The story isn't really all that complicated, but in the long run, that's okay.  J.P. is the male protagonist.  He started racing after being inspired by Sonoshee as a teenager, mostly by how determined and driven she was.  And also because she's hot.  Naturally as an adult, she's now the movie's designated hot chick – no worries, they throw in a gratuitous nude scene while they introduce all the other characters participating in the titular race. ;)

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Redline01.jpg)
I'm sure J.P.'s hair isn't symbolic at all...

As you might guess, J.P. is as interested in winning Sonoshee's heart as he is in winning the race.  Naturally, things are complicated, because not only is Sonoshee his opponent in the race, but his mechanic, Frisbee, is in with the yakuza, which is determined to fix Redline just like they did to Yellowline at the beginning of the movie.  The deal was, J.P. was supposed to come from behind and look like he was going to win, only to lose at the end of the race.  And when J.P. went against the script, Frisbee detonated the bomb he'd hidden on J.P.'s car and nearly killed him.  It was only a matter of luck that J.P. qualified for Redline, and while Frisbee fixed up his car for the race, he also made sure to include another bomb just in case J.P. tried to win.  And if that wasn't enough, Redline itself takes place on Roboworld, home to an authoritarian nation of cyborgs, and they want nothing to do with this race.  So basically they threaten to kill all the racers, and then try their best to do so as the race begins.  The movie just gets more and more obnoxious with every minute, really.

I know that Madhouse has some good projects under its belt already, but I have to admit that I wasn't expecting a lot from this movie.  After all, lately Madhouse has been doing that same moé blob crap that everyone else has been doing.  Case in point – Summer Wars.  I can only hope that they've been doing that simply because they know all the pathetic otaku eat that shit up, and they can go on to fund really awesome stuff like this.  It might be selling out, but after delivering a movie like this, I'm willing to forgive them for it. 

I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention the excellent English dub that came with this movie.  This is also an area that has been lacking lately in a lot of anime, but there is a lot of good talent on board this project, and the direction fits the tone of the movie perfectly.  Between this, the awesome visuals, and the outstanding soundtrack, I'm really glad that I decided to give this movie a chance, and I can't recommend it enough.  If you liked Gurren Lagann, FLCL, and/or Dead Leaves, there's a pretty good chance you'll like this movie, too.  9/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 08, 2015, 09:44:45 AM
Diebuster
(6 episode OVA)

Sequel to Gunbuster, which was made in 1988, this series aired more than 16 years later.  I honestly have mixed feelings about this OVA series, though to be frank none of them are particularly strong.  Still, I always try to be fair, and I'll do my best to put what I hope is useful information to anyone who might be interested in watching this series into this review.  First thing I'll put out there is that while I read that it was recommended to watch Gunbuster prior to watching this series, I honestly think the only thing you might miss out on is the last few minutes of the last episode if you haven't.  Well, that and the repeated meme of "hard work and guts" along with a few other references to the original series here and there.

That being said, this series actually felt quite a bit different than Gunbuster, primarily in tone.  Whereas Gunbuster was a fairly typical anime space opera from the 1980s that took itself fairly seriously, Diebuster is almost the complete opposite.  In fact, I'd compare it a lot more to Gurren Lagann, which was made not all that long after this series was.  Actually, there are a lot of direct comparisons that can be made between this series and Gurren Lagann, but I'll get into that more later.  As far as comparing Diebuster to Gunbuster, though, probably the most similarity between them was that a female character, who seemed incapable of doing so, really wanted to be a space pilot and idolized another female pilot who seemed to be the most proficient of all of her peers. Other than that, this series is pretty much what you would expect from a modern anime, right down to the moé character design.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/DieBuster01.jpg)
I just can't seem to get away from it...

About the only good thing to say about that aspect of it is that it's at least kept to levels I could generally tolerate.  I have to say, though, that I don't find the idea of a woman being stupid and naïve to be cute, especially when she's one of the main characters.

The series actually throws us for a bit of a loop, at first, as to who exactly the main character is, but I’d argue that Lal'C, the first Buster pilot the moé character happens to meet while on her quest to become a pilot herself, fills that role.  The moé character is named Nono, and apparently she's a robot some old guy found in the middle of a comet.  At first, though, she's sold as a simple (and I do mean simple) country girl who's running off to the big city to try to make it big, and the series often can’t make up its mind whether she should be the main character or not.  To be fair, she isn’t terribly interesting as a character, so I can see why more attention tends to get paid to Lal’C at times.  And either I missed something, or the fact she's even a robot isn't revealed until she ends up being dragged into space by a "space monster," which is also when it's revealed that the planet they were all on up until then was Mars, not Earth.  But then this series likes to throw twists M. Night Shyamalan would be proud of almost every episode.

As far as the story goes, it's about what you would expect, with Nono eventually proving herself and Lal'C finally accepting her.  The fun part there was that apparently Lal'C actually liked her all along and just wanted a friend instead of a worshiper, but then she was a complete bitch to Nono at almost every possibility, so I'm sorry, I just didn't buy that reveal.  Of course, the series isn't terribly serious or mature, so they could have been poking fun for all I know.  I mean, this from a show that calls its elite young pilots "topless", and yes, they totally take that pun to its obvious outcome.  Gainax does love boobs, after all.  ;)  Of course they also made some ships look and move like sperm, too, so whatever.

I think what it comes down to, though, is that I just wasn't into the show very much.  I wasn't bored, exactly, but as with the first series, I just wasn't into the whole children piloting giant robots thing.  It wasn't taking itself seriously the way certain other shows Gainax has done, but while there were plenty of outlandish things in the series, like giant robots that can appear out of hammer space, ships shaped like sperm, and naked robot girls, it just wasn't quite the kind of over-the-top that makes me enjoy other Gainax works like Gurren Lagann and FLCL.  I can't put my finger on what was missing or anything, I just know that this series didn't quite do it for me.  So between that and the things that annoyed me, mostly having to do with moé, I was just generally underwhelmed.  It wasn't bad either, and it didn't feel like a chore watching it after the first couple of episodes, so it has that going for it.

I have to say, though, that having watched Gunbuster prior to this series, I wasn't really seeing how the two were really connected.  There were references here and there, but other than that, I wasn't really seeing it.  Some aspects that changed were that humanity had apparently given up on FTL travel, and that it had actually developed a sophisticated automated defense system to protect them from the giant space monsters that were the focus of the first series, and then completely forgot about them, and in quite a few other things.  So maybe it wasn't so much that it wasn't connecting to the first series well enough, it was just that it was stretching credulity that humanity, being advanced enough to not only move planets but to turn Jupiter into a freakin' black hole bomb, and has colonized basically every single terrestrial body in the solar system, actually lost track of all of its past technology.

Something this series is good for, though, is in seeing things that made their way into Gurren Lagann.  For instance, the giant robots were actually alive, and after being built, they basically chose a pilot and only woke up when that pilot really truly believed in what they were doing.  The robots would also stop working if their pilots stopped believing, or if the robots thought that an action was wrong.  You could almost say that they ran on spiral power, though in this series it was "hard work and guts".  There was also the way the conflicts escalated to a ridiculous scale as the series progressed, to the point that the space monsters were literally bigger than planets, and that planets were literally being used as weapons, though to be fair, Gunbuster did that, too, just without as much flair.  I think the main similarity has to be with Nono, though, in that she was basically the same character as Nia from Gurren Lagann, in both visual design and in character.  None of this stuff is really important to the story, but it is kind of fun to note it.  :)

Anyway, while I didn't enjoy this series all that much, that has a lot to do with my own biases and tastes than in the quality of the series itself.  From a technical standpoint, the series is well done – it obviously had a decent budget and a lot of love and fun were put into making it.  So if giant robot shows are your thing, and you like moé and the typical sex humor that seems to go along with that, you'll probably enjoy this series more than I did.  For my part, I enjoyed it slightly more than Gunbuster, mostly because it wasn't as boring or as serious.  Between that and the technical aspect I mentioned, I think I'd rate this series a 7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 11, 2015, 02:06:39 AM
Trigun
(26 episode series)

I first saw bits and pieces of this show on Adult Swim some years back, but at the time it didn't really appeal to me.  Since then, I've heard a lot of complaints, or maybe just warnings, about how the show was initially a comedy but then got serious as the series progressed.  Still, based on what I'd read about the series, I thought I'd give it a try, and I have to admit that I really liked this show. 

This series has quite a few characters that it follows.  Initially, it follows Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson, two agents of the Bernardelli Insurance Company, as they attempt to make contact with the real protagonist, Vash the Stampede.  Vash has been named as being responsible for a large amount of property damage, so Bernardelli apparently wants to see if they can keep him from damaging more property due to the large number of claims that have already been filed due to damage blamed on him.  It's not readily apparent how exactly Bernardelli was hoping to go about this, because while Vash has a sizable bounty on his head and both Meryl and Milly are proficient in the use of firearms, the first thing they do is try to give him donuts, and from that point on they pretty much just follow him around.  Of course this is the comedy intro to the series, and part of the joke is that they aren't even sure if the scrawny blonde guy they're following around is even Vash because initially the description they had was for someone else, and it was apparent that the kind-natured buffoon didn't seem anything like his reputation.

Later on, as the series starts to follow Vash more, it isn't even entirely clear if he is in fact guilty of any of the things he's accused of, such as destroying an entire city, or if the massive amount of damage attributed to him was simply caused by the many people trying to kill him for the bounty on his head.  But then, there's a lot that isn't really made all that clear about Vash or his surroundings until later on in the series. For instance, Vash seems to not be human due to his ability to dodge bullets, his implausible amount of luck, and his seeming ability to heal very rapidly.  He even gets accused of as much, but then since this is a cartoon and at this point the series isn't taking itself all that seriously, it was easy to blow this accusation off.  As for Vash's surroundings, while the setting seems to be a generic desert punk spaghetti western (including shout outs to Clint Eastwood), there are many anachronistic elements as far as technology goes that makes it apparent that this isn't supposed to be the old west.  There's also the fact that there are two suns in the sky and several moons which make it apparent that despite humanity not looking all that advanced technologically, that the series is not taking place on Earth.  The only clue we're given is the presence of deteriorating "plants" next to every settlement that look like giant light bulbs and are referred to as "lost technology."

The series does indeed take a turn for the more serious as answers to my many questions were starting to be revealed, and it actually turns out that a lot of them were already revealed early in the series, but were played off as ridiculous jokes.  To be fair, though, it isn't until about episode 16 or 17 that the series becomes really serious, and even then there tends to be comedy relief here and there.  One example that comes to mind is the appearance of a black cat in every episode, often more than once.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Trigun01.jpg)
Mreorw....  I'm everywhere and no where at the same time.  Mreorw...

What I take from the series, though, is that most people seem to take the first few episodes for granted and thought that the entire thing should have been a comedy.  After all, when the series first starts, it mainly consists of Meryl and Milly following Vash around as he seemingly wanders at random from settlement to settlement, solving problems as he goes in a non-lethal and humorous way.  However, I'd argue that those episodes are mainly there so that the audience develops an attachment to the characters, because comedy really is disarming that way.  We get to see these characters in light situations, so it makes it that much more dramatic when things go badly for them later on.  Really, this series is about Vash and the tragedies he's suffered and continues to suffer.  Hell, we have a character introduced, Nicholas D. Wolfwood, who only seems to be there to point out the fact that Vash's comedic personality is basically just all on the surface.  Well, that and to provide a much more pragmatic voice of reason to Vash's idealism, which was a viewpoint I could agree with a lot more than Vash's "no one has the right to take the life of another" philosophy. 

As an aside, when you think about it, Vash is really a lot like the Nolen-verse Batman.  A tragic past forged him, and he's sworn himself to protect others.  Yet despite his efforts to protect humanity, he is hated by everyone no matter where he goes, often even after proving himself to not be the monster they accuse him of being.  Yet despite all the hate heaped on him by the people he's sworn himself to protect, he refuses to kill, and uses his skills to find non-lethal ways of dealing with his opponents.  All because he's not the hero humanity deserves, but the one it needs.  ;)  Well, actually the one they deserve, too, considering that about 90% of humanity seems to be made up of asshats.  He also eventually has to face a "no-win" scenario in which his idealistic philosophy is challenged to the breaking point.

In any case, Vash's "no one has the right to take the life of another" is really what's at the heart of the series.  It and Vash are both offset, because as it turns out, Vash has an evil twin brother named Knives, and Knives wants to wipe out all of humanity.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Trigun02.jpg)
Wow, real subtle....

Knives's philosophy, if you want to call it that, is meant to echo Wolfwood's somewhat.  Wolfwood rather pragmatically argued that if you or someone you want to save is threatened with death by another, you are not only justified in killing that person or persons, but you should do it as quickly as possible so they don't get a chance to do any damage.  This was echoed by Knives's statement that if you want to save the butterfly from the spider, you just kill the spider, because even if you tried to just save the butterfly, the spider is still going to die because it is going to starve to death.  This sentiment is actually shown to be the case on a larger scale, because as it turned out, Vash actually did destroy an entire city, and while no one died at that moment, they eventually died due to the devastation of that city.  Of course, Knives is evil, so his viewpoint is made out to be the wrong one because frankly Knives is a sociopath, whereas Vash's viewpoint is upheld as being the right one, though I do give the people behind this some credit for challenging it more than once.

The thing is, this isn't the first show I've seen that makes this kind of an argument, and which shows it as being possible to shoot someone without doing any real harm.  But I already had a short "guns are not toys" rant in my review of Black Cat, so I'll spare you all from another one.

Ultimately, I found this series to be somewhat disappointing.  While I was pretty into it for most of it, I had to wonder how exactly the situation with Knives was going to be resolved, because it was obvious that Knives was a threat as long as he was alive, just as all of his followers were.  Hell, one of them could telepathically manipulate people into killing themselves or each other, and that's not something that can simply be "disabled" long enough to lock the guy away.  And Knives made it clear that he would continue to work toward humanity's destruction for as long as he lived.  So I felt that the ending was something of a cheat, and not really a real ending at all, because the threat Knives represents has not been eliminated and humanity is still at risk.  So while an attempt was made to have a happy ending for all the tragedy the audience has seen, I found it to be unsatisfying due to the implications.

On the technical side, this series is from the late '90s, and you can tell.  I still think that it looks fairly good, though, and I don't really hold its animation against it.  The dub is also okay for the most part, though the weak link there, in my opinion, is a song some of the characters sing which just doesn't sound natural to me.  Overall the dub isn't bad, though.  I think that Trigun's greatest strength on the technical side has to be its soundtrack.  It's this wonderful mix of rock, jazz, and old-style country that I could listen to all by itself.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed this series, but not as much as I've enjoyed some others, mostly due to the ending and the preachiness of the "no one has a right to take the life of another" message.  I'll probably add it to my list of favorites, but probably more towards the bottom of it.  That being said, this series is definitely worth a watch.  Just make sure you know going into it that this is more of a comedy-drama, not a straight-up comedy.  8/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on August 11, 2015, 02:32:16 AM
I've heard of this one. From what I can tell, I'd say it's on most anime fans' short list. I've only seen clips so far. Seems alright, but I think I'll try to fix the 'only clips' thing at some point.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 12, 2015, 10:42:45 PM
I would definitely recommend watching it.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 17, 2015, 01:24:43 PM
Avalon
(2001 live action movie)

I actually initially only watched this movie because I read that the movie Assault Girls was a sequel to it, and I kind of like to watch things in order, if I can, to try to gain a greater sense of context.  I'd actually completely forgotten that Mamoru Oshii directed this movie, though I had a really obvious hint in that most of the movie has a rather heavy orange tint to it, like someone slapped an orange filter over everything.  But the appearance of a basset hound made me look this movie's Wiki page up again, and sure enough, Oshii's name was on it. 

If you're not familiar with his work, he also directed the first two Ghost in the Shell movies, which hopefully most people reading this are familiar with.  The thing about his work is that they tend to have a common color theme to them to help set the tone, which a lot of recent games have done themselves as a cheap way of doing that themselves.  In Oshii's case, it also tends to coincide with what his favorite color is at the time he makes the movie (compare the original 1995 Ghost in the Shell movie to the more recent 2.0 release and you'll see what I mean).  Pretty much every movie he's ever done also features a basset hound, primarily because Oshii owns one and it's apparently a favorite of his.  Of course the other thing about Oshii's work is that he really tends to favor a slow pace as part of setting the tone of the movie, and will often do long, drawn out scenes or shots to evoke a particular kind of emotion from the audience.  I tend to only just tolerate this, because in my opinion he tends to drag things on for too long, probably because I'm just not that interested in what he wants me to focus on.  In one scene in particular in this movie, he focuses on a man's lips as he sloppily eats eggs and bacon with his hands.  I get that he was trying to make the audience disgusted, but I honestly could only take so much of it and had to fast forward.  Oshii also tends to focus a lot on the preparation of food, and while I get that in this case he was going for a mundane feeling for the main character's "real" life compared to the game the movie is named after, I felt that this scene was drawn out for far too long.  I know that not everyone agrees with me on that, though, and that some people look at Oshii the way that others look at Kubrick, which is to say that he has a very devoted fan base that sees him as a genius.  As a disclaimer, I'll say that I don't disagree with that, only that my tastes only allow me to get a limited amount of enjoyment out of Oshii's films, and also that I've noticed many of his films share the same existentialist theme and many of the same story elements, which is part of why I knew who directed this movie almost right off the bat.

Speaking of similar themes, though, I have to note that this movie seems to borrow a lot from The Matrix through its use of an older style of computer graphics, and how this is used in "rendering" the game environment.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Avalon01.jpg)
Follow the basset hound.

I suppose that's only fair, though, seeing as The Matrix borrowed a lot from Ghost in the Shell, so it's like coming full circle, really.  Still, I had to chuckle when the main character opened a set of windows at one point only to find a brick wall.

Okay, I suppose I should get around to talking about the actual movie at some point, so I guess this is as good a point as any to mention that it was actually a co-production with a Polish film company which was filmed in Poland and stars Polish actors.  That being said, the country the movie takes place in is never identified beyond looking stereotypically Eastern European in order to play up the cyberpunk feel of the setting.  All that's really said is that young people have been seeking escape in a virtual reality game called Avalon, which is supposedly illegal, and is also a means of making money for some people.  The story follows a young woman named Ash, who is an experienced player of the game and apparently an ace at it.  While I never got the feeling from the movie that the game was actually illegal, it was apparently supposed to be because there was a danger of players ending up brain dead from using it, apparently if they tried to seek a secret final level of the game.

The movie really plays up the importance of the game, at least to its players, because in the game Ash is really well known and thought of, but in real life she's just a single woman living in a small apartment with her basset hound.  Of course the movie also tried to mess with your head a little by suggesting at more than one point that Ash has never left the game.

Anyway, not long into the movie, another player has been showing Ash up in the game, and this bothers her.  This brings up her past, back when she was part of a well known team that was unbeatable until one of them panicked and called for a reset, which is the only way out of the game without winning or getting killed (in the game).  This split the team up, but ever since she's wondered about the team leader, Murphy.  I'm sure most people could have told her to look in Detroit, but she's convinced that he's still in the game somehow, in spite of seeing his brain dead body at a hospital.  So she sets out to find this secret final level of the game, despite many attempts to dissuade her.  She does finally find what she's looking for, including a Murphy who hasn't been turned into Robocop, but naturally it isn't what she hoped it would be.

Of course, it's only at this part of the movie that several running themes finally get a more obvious answer for them, such as the orange color scheme, which disappears in the "Class Real", and how basically every statue up until this part of the movie has been headless or at least faceless.  It's left open to interpretation, naturally, as is Ash's final fate.  The last part of the movie actually made me think of a few different other works, The Thirteenth Floor among them, as I attempted to figure out just what the hell was going on.  The most mysterious portion of this movie, as far as figuring that out, was the sudden disappearance of Ash's basset hound, which later appears on a poster for a concert named Avalon, and as a passenger in a car that just happens to be driving by in Class Real.  I was convinced for a while that some conspirators had somehow moved Ash's body in an attempt to fool her into murdering someone in real life, but when she stepped outside and the orange filter went away, I was then convinced she was a computer program who had somehow found her way into the real world.  Murphy actually made that argument, and he seemed convinced that his body wouldn't disappear like usual when Ash shot him, only it did, and the last few minutes of the movie kind of got weirder from there.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't get some enjoyment from watching this movie, otherwise I wouldn't have bothered watching all of it, but I'll tell you right up front that it isn't for everyone, mostly owing to the pacing.  I couldn't help but feel like the movie was being padded out, and while I'm sure that statement just upset some Oshii fans, I've never been afraid to call things the way I see them.  Something else I saw was bit of a shot against gamers who take themselves way too seriously and spend way too much time gaming.  I'm sure some people will disagree with me on that, but since another movie he made, The Sky Crawlers, also seemed to be a bit of a shot at the typical otaku that tends to watch all the same kind of shows, I can see him taking the same kind of a shot at gamers, especially since in his case it takes one to know one.  ;) 

I think this was an okay movie, though as you can tell it didn't exactly blow my socks off or anything.  I'd say that it's more for film nerds who enjoy interpreting what different details within a movie might mean, or who like to find hidden themes and messages within a film.  Oshii, like Kubrick, definitely puts a lot of that into his movies, so you can be rest assured that you might have fun trying to interpret this movie.  If you're not into that kind of thing, you might not find this movie all that enjoyable, because while it's about a combat game, there actually isn't all that much action.  Kind of like Ghost in the Shell (the movie, not the series).  7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 20, 2015, 10:25:45 PM
Assault Girls
(2010 live action movie)

Whelp, considering that this is supposed to be a sequel to Avalon, and that it was also written and directed by the famous Mamoru Oshii, it honestly couldn't be any more different from Avalon if it tried.  Whereas Avalon felt a lot like Ghost in the Shell and the Matrix in terms of complexity, depth, and tone, this movie feels more like a run of the mill action fluff anime, except it's introduced using a long drawn out narration explaining the set-up (and how it's connected to the first movie) and interrupted by long drawn out shots of the location this movie was shot at and few different examples of wildlife.  Those two things are the only hints Oshii has anything to do with this movie, as there is no overlying color theme and while a dog does appear at one point, it's not a basset hound.  I can't help but feel that Oshii is trying to distance himself from some of his older work that I'm more familiar with, which typically was cyberpunk and tended to focus on gritty realness with some kind of underlying philosophical angle, which was usually some variant of existentialism.  While it's nice to see him throw a little more variety into the mix, did he really have to go for pointless fluff?

I'm going to be mean here and just come right out and say that there is no substance to this movie.  I honestly don't get why there's even an attempt to connect this back to Avalon, because it's completely unrelated otherwise.  Large chunks of time are wasted on introducing the background for the movie, which is essentially a more detailed version of the paragraph we got at the beginning of Avalon.  The only thing is, it does exactly squat for the actual story, which consists of four different characters wandering a volcanic island-I mean barren wasteland, in search of giant worms to kill.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/AssaultGirls03.jpg)
The spice must flow...

The four of them have four different ways of fighting, with one of them being all tacticool in her fighter jet (which she gets out of to snipe), one using an assault rifle and a giant mecha, one using the power of magical girls to transform into a crow that can shoot lighting and orbs of energy, and one that uses a giant sniper rifle.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/AssaultGirls02.jpg)
Hey, give Yoko her gun back.

The one with the giant sniper rifle is a dude, though, but I guess they couldn't think of a catchy way to work him into the title.  He's also shown to be very gross, and while the girls all have ways of getting around the wasteland faster, he's stuck on foot because he put all of his earnings into the giant gun.

The story, in a nutshell, is that there's a boss worm, and none of them can take it down on their own, so they have to team up to fight it, even though they all seem to hate each other.  That's it.  The movie's only an hour long, and a good chunk of that is wasted on an intro with screensaver footage that doesn't add anything of importance, and on seeing how each of the characters react to a snail that one of them put on the head of a statue (rifle guy ate it).  The movie doesn't really take itself seriously for the entire rest of itself, though, so those segments seem really out of place.  I have to admit that I did get a little bit of a chuckle out of one scene that kind of simulates a fighting game like Street Fighter a little, but other than that the only real entertainment I derived was from the Engrish the actors were forced to use for most of the movie, and how great the three women looked in their fan service outfits. 

As an aside, I think I liked how crow girl looked the best, but she doesn't even have any dialog, and she spends most of her screen time dancing and acting silly.  She does look great in skintight black leather, though.  ;)

Anyway, the whole point of the fight between rifle guy and tacticool girl (I'm refusing to use their names in case you're wondering) was about how the points from killing the boss would be distributed.  The fight itself was good for a chuckle, but the movie ends with the three girls all flying back to base, with the exposition given that only the first player back to base gets the points.  Which makes no sense at all, either in the context of it being a game, or in the context of the movie where rifle guy got his ass handed to him in order to ensure that each of them would get an equal share of the points.  So rifle guy shoots all of them down, and they all start shooting at each other, and the movie just ends.

Why do people like this movie?

Okay, so it isn't horrible like some of the different anime I've seen, but it certainly isn't good, either.  4/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 24, 2015, 10:49:29 AM
Berserk
(25 episode series)

Set in a Western Medieval fantasy world, I have to admit that Berserk didn't really appeal to me all that much at first.  Actually, most of the series didn't have the appeal to me that it probably has to most of its fans, simply because the hack-n-slash battles just don't appeal to me all that much, and the way everyone who wasn't a main or supporting character tended to be cut down like grass didn't help any.  From what I'd read about this series ahead of time, though, I was convinced that this series would come through for me, and it did, despite many handicaps.

This series follows Guts, a large muscular man who wields an impossibly large sword.  The series starts in media res, with Guts seeking revenge against the demonic members of the Godhand and the abusive, oppressive people who surround them.  He is specifically seeking revenge against one named Griffith, and a few relevant flashbacks are shown before the series dives into the past to show us how Guts came to be the way we first see him.  I'd already been spoiled about the ending of this series, as frankly I actually like to read about this kind of information ahead of time anyway.  For those who haven't been spoiled, though, the first episode of the series would probably act as sufficient warning not to take Griffith for face value as the stereotypical enigmatic leader he appears to be for most of the series.  Of course, if you haven't been spoiled about this series, you soon will be by reading this review.  ;)

As I mentioned, for the most part, this series is a fairly typical hack-n-clash Medieval warfare story, with impossible characters doing impossible things.  A number of clichés were present that made it impossible for me to enjoy that aspect of the series too much, such as armor only actually doing its job for important characters, while for everyone else it was basically just tissue paper.  It is just a show, though, and I'm sure for some people the idea of a show that mostly consists of people hacking each other apart with swords or shooting crossbows at each other has an appeal of its own.  For me, though, the appeal came mainly from the themes of the show, such as camaraderie, and how people, especially leaders, can feel isolated despite that.  Aspects of human nature are also explored, mostly addressed by having characters that actually had some depth to them.  Guts, for example, is basically the stereotypical barbarian who really just likes to kill people, and yet he makes a competent military leader and not only cares for the lives of those under his command, but of people in general, even if he doesn't always involve himself.  In a way, he's kind of like a spaghetti western Clint Eastwood character.  Griffith, on the other hand, seems very much like a good leader, who cares about those who follow him, but later reveals that all he really cares about is his dream of having his own kingdom.  Hints of this are shown before his final betrayal of the band of mercenaries he leads, the Band of the Hawk, though even as he betrays them, it's still made clear that this wasn't originally his intention, and he even initially attempts to prevent their destruction.

The majority of the series takes place during a "100 Year War" between the kingdoms of Midland and Chudar.  Guts started out as a wandering mercenary who made something of a reputation for himself through his disproportionate fighting ability.  As fate would have it, he comes across the Band of the Hawk after the battle and a few of them decide to rob him.  Griffith, seeing Guts single-handedly fight off these attackers, challenges him to a duel which will decide whether Guts can go free or not.  In the end, Guts loses and is essentially forced to join the Band of the Hawk. 

As an aside, I'll note that Berserk seems to have a large number of yaoi fans (dude on dude love to you non-anime nerds reading this), and for once it actually wasn't all in their heads, because frankly the series wasn't helping anything.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Berserk01.jpg)
The one on the right is Griffith, and yes, he's a dude.

What with all the "you belong to me Guts" and the way Griffith practically fawns over him, it's kind of hard not to notice that aspect of it even if yaoi and yaoi fans make you roll your eyes like it does for me.  Still, it's pretty obvious that Guts doesn't think of Griffith that way, and Griffith pretty much seems to frak whoever will advance him toward his goal.  Anyway...

As the war goes on, both Guts and the Band of the Hawk make a name for themselves, with Guts being promoted to captain of a unit of raiders within the Hawks, and the Hawks themselves eventually coming to be recognized by the king of Midland, and becoming an official part of Midland's army.  Through it all, Griffith has to constantly fight off assassination attempts, though he always manages to stay a step ahead, or to just turn out to be extremely lucky.  Griffith credits his luck and his success to the ugly red "Egg of the King" he wears around his neck, which looks like something Picasso might've carved, and which also acts as a constant reminder of the kind of character Griffith really is.  Griffith and the Hawks' do so well that they are eventually raised to the level of white knights and are recognized as the best unit within the Midland army, with Griffith holding the rank of general.  Just to sweeten the deal, Griffith seems to be lining himself up to romance the princess.  One can only guess at what Griffith's original plan was, but apparently Guts deciding to strike out on his own again and actually winning in a second duel with Griffith made him lose his edge.  So, in spite of winning a century long war and doing so much for Midland, sleeping with his daughter was a berserker button for the king, and not only was Griffith arrested and tortured for a year, but the king ordered the destruction of the Band of the Hawk, even though they not only had nothing to do with Griffith's little nighttime escapades, but had no idea anything had happened.  So, yeah, winning the war and doing nothing but good for the kingdom means nothing when your commanding officer fraks the king's daughter, apparently.

Guts returns from a year of wandering to help save the Hawks, hopefully by saving Griffith.  Unfortunately, they are way beyond too late, because Griffith is skin and bones, and has had the tendons in his wrists and his ankles cut, meaning he can never stand or grasp anything again even if he managed to recover his weight and health otherwise.  Oh, and his tongue has been cut out, so he can't even so much as give rousing speeches anymore.  All for dipping his wick in the royal well.  Hope she was worth it, Griffith.  ;)

Apparently, this was all part of the red egg's plan, because following a suicide attempt by Griffith, some of his blood gets on it and causes it to rearrange itself into a normal-looking face, except for the tears of blood streaming out of it.  It's also apparent at this point that Griffith really did think the thing was only a trinket, and that only then did he understand the implications of what was happening.  He tries to warn Guts, but unfortunately he doesn't have a tongue anymore, and both Guts and the entirety of the Band of the Hawk are transported to a nightmarish landscape, followed shortly afterwards by the majority of them being eaten alive by demons.  Oh, spoilers. ;)

So I'm sure some of you are wondering why I haven't mentioned Guts's very own tsundere, Casca.  For those of you not in the know, basically tsundere means that Casca acts like a bitch to Guts, but deep down it's really because she likes him and totally wants to jump his bones.  I didn't mention her before because she deserves her own section to address why she is both a positive and a negative for the series.  She's a positive in that she's shown to be a competent commander, strong, and respected by those who follow her.  That would be a good thing, and she'd be one of the few strong female characters I've seen in anime.  Unfortunately, she really isn't, because it's all undone by her constant moodiness, and the way she is completely unreasonable and tends to get angry at pretty much anything.  Then there's the way she tends to need to be rescued by Guts, all while she's apparently pining after Griffith and constantly blaming Guts for anything bad that happens to Griffith.  I might have given this aspect of the series more of a pass if it had flowed a little more naturally, but I just couldn't see past what I saw as an obvious tsundere for Guts to win over, and how stereotypically moody and unreasonable her character was made to be.  It all just seemed rather forced to me.

From a technical standpoint, all I can really say is that it's really too bad that this series's budget didn't match the ambition of the story.  People who have only seen newer anime will probably be turned off by how primitive this series looks compared to pretty much anything that's come out in the last decade.  It's the kind of stuff that the stereotypical anime nerd of the past would gush about as far as the supposedly brilliant ways animators would cut corners so they could actually afford to finish the series on the laughable budget they were given.  So there are a lot of static drawings, many of which are moved around a lot to simulate something like shakey-cam, and some of which are panned multiple times to signify a powerful strike of some kind.  Not sure why they always did it three times, but whatever.  This kind of stuff normally wouldn't bother me that much, but it's just used so much in this series that it really wears on me.  It makes me wonder what this series might've been if it'd actually had a decent budget.  The soundtrack is the one saving grace, but it too has its drawback in that there just aren't that many tracks in it.  So while the music is used fairly effectively, you hear the same tracks over and over in this series.  I'm going to go out on a limb and guess budget had a lot to do with that, too.  In any case, this series may be disappointing on the technical side to some viewers, though story and character-wise it has plenty of positives.

Honestly I'm looking forward to the new movies that are coming out, which are supposed to follow the manga the series was based on more closely.  To be fair, though, from what I've read, the main reason the series didn't follow the manga as closely, aside from time constraints, had mostly to do with the fact that the manga wasn't, and in fact still isn't finished.  It started in 1990, by the way.   I can only hope then that a few areas will be cleared up for me that were left somewhat unaddressed in the series, such as how Guts survived the betrayal of the Hawks to become the "Black Swordsman" seen at the very beginning and very end of the series.  Casca's final fate is also left unaddressed, as is Griffith's for that matter, though to be fair these plot points remaining unknown or ambiguous didn't really spoil my enjoyment of the series.  That was mainly done by the fighting and romance clichés.

I'd still recommend this series, though.  The main thing is just to know what you're getting into, because it's one hell of a doozy of an ending, and being an older anime there are just some things about it that fans of newer anime might have a hard time getting past.  8/10.


Interestingly enough, as I rewatched this more recently with my friends, I actually came to appreciate it a bit more, and would even count it amongst my favorites now, though I didn't at the time I originally wrote this review.  Berserk has the distinction of being one of the few examples of this happening for me.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 25, 2015, 01:06:06 PM
Thermae Romae
(6 episode series)

This was a short, simple, and effective series.  Being short, unfortunately there really isn't a lot to say about it, but it was a pretty enjoyable series to watch. 

Set mostly in ancient Rome, it follows the time-traveling adventures of Lucius, a Roman architect who specializes in baths.  He is initially down on his luck, as the style of architecture he prefers to use in his designs is currently out of style.  He initially tries to relax in a bath as he explains what's upsetting him about current trends in bath architecture with one of his friends, only to wind up in a modern Japanese bath house.  With what he experiences during these mysterious journeys, which he takes to be a strange country Rome has conquered full of "flat-faced slaves," he copies everything about it that fascinates him, as per Roman tradition, and thus becomes famous as a bath architect.  Each episode sees him coming up against a new challenge, which he then solves after a humorous journey to modern Japan, bridging the gap between two bath cultures that are millennia apart.

As someone who considers themselves a Roman history buff, I have to say that I was actually pretty thoroughly impressed with the amount of historical accuracy put into this show.  For instance, the complaints about the noise and loss of the formerly relaxing nature of the baths in Rome was a real complaint written about by a Roman historian, though I can't think of which one as I write this.  There was also the many different aspects of Roman life and the technology they had available to them, and just some tidbits here and there that I thought added some authenticity to it.  They even had the voice actor struggle through some Latin at appropriately humorous times.

That being said, the people who made this had a lot of fun, and that really comes through.  In fact, if I were to sum this series up, it would be just to call it that – fun.  It has a lot of humor in it, mostly based around the "fish out of water" aspect of an ancient Roman finding himself in modern Japan, but not entirely around it.  It uses a flash animation style that reminds me a bit of some of the shows aired on Adult Swim, and in some ways that actually works for this series as far as making it funny.

I would definitely recommend this series; it's short, relaxing fun.  8/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 26, 2015, 01:44:51 PM
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
(1984 movie, 2005 dub)

This is the first of three Miyazaki films I’m reviewing, all of which I watched over the course of a weekend.  Just as a warning, I’m going to point out that, yes, I know Miyazaki is basically a hippy, being very pro-environment and anti-military.  Actually I find it somewhat amusing that he’s a pacifist considering how much violence there tends to be in many of his movies.  In any case, this is your fair warning that if you’re looking for a positive review that might reinforce your view of this movie, or really any that Miyazaki has made, you aren’t going to find it here.  That’s not to say that I’m going to be all negative, either, just that I definitely do not agree with most of what Miyazaki has to say with his movies.  I will say, though, that I think his movies tend to be very pretty, and they do have some interesting plots, characters, and good action, even if I really don’t care for his heavy-handed environmentalism and pacifism.

With that out of the way, I’ll start my actual review of this particular movie.  This is a post-apocalyptic move in which the earth has been devastated by warfare, which has burned most of the surface and killed most of the life on the planet.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, giant fungus has started to grow and spread, along with giant bugs that would give the Mobile Infantry a run for its money.  The bugs are really easy to piss off and the giant “ohm” bugs in particular, which are the size of a large house, will stampede and destroy everything in their path if anything disturbs what has come to be known as the toxic jungle, mostly because all the spores in the air are deadly to breathe.  This is actually part of how the toxic jungle spreads, as the ohm literally go until they drop dead, and then fungus starts to grow out of them on the newly devastated landscape they’ve created.  Of course, the spores that the fungus creates spread pretty easily on their own, so it’s safe to say that humanity is basically fighting a losing battle, as the opening of the movie makes obvious.  There are only a few small areas still habitable to humans, and these are becoming overrun by fungus, or by the military actions of other “nations” that still exist.

Unfortunately, there’s no Johnny Rico to help save the day.  Instead, we follow the peace-loving protagonist Nausicaä, princess of the Valley of the Wind, as she figures out a way to save everything without using any weapons, apparently having figured out how to communicate with the giant bugs.  We first see her as she explores the wonders of Pandora –I mean the toxic jungle.  I will say that it’s nice to see a strong female protagonist who isn’t bloody useless, but the downside is that she’s basically the mouthpiece of Miyazaki.  As a result, she tends to spout off a lot of crap science, and I have to admit that this irritated me almost as much as the “humans are evil and a threat to the planet” message, but then I have a background in engineering and science, so I actually know that ceramic, while extremely hard and heat resistant, is also very brittle, and that the soil from very deep underground tends to be sandy and/or made up of clay depending on where you are in the world, and is not suited to grow anything.

She also seems to be making a statement against wearing underwear.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Nausicaa01.jpg)

Okay, okay, it’s probably just an issue with the coloring and she’s actually wearing pants, but still…

Anyway, the main plot of the series revolves around the militaristic Kingdom of Tolmekia and what big assholes they are.  We get our first introduction to them as one of their impossibly huge airplanes crashes in the peaceful, monarchy ruled Valley of the Wind.  It seems they stole the embryo of a “Giant Warrior”, which is a genetically engineered weapon that’s responsible for the destruction of the world.  The Pejite are the ones who actually found and dug it up the thing, but the Tolmekians wanted it for themselves, and kidnapped the Pejite princess as a hostage after stealing it.  Both kingdoms wanted to use the Giant Warrior to burn up the toxic rainforest, but naturally the story is stacked completely against this idea, mostly in the form of a stampede of giant bugs, but also in the whining of Nausicaä as she tries to explain the convoluted “evolution” of the toxic jungle and its creatures. 

Apparently, the giant, deadly fungus functions to filter the soil, which makes zero sense since it’s, you know, fungus.  And the giant bugs?  Why to protect the giant fungus, of course.  And we’re just supposed to accept that humans are going to die as a result, because humans are seen as a threat by the planet.  And this is why I tend to not like Miyazaki films.

If that wasn’t absurd enough, though, apparently the world was destroyed by a bunch of fire-breathing giants.  This is where the movie delves into the pacifist message, which itself is frankly completely illogical, even with the story stacked in its favor.  Mostly this is because it preaches a peaceful solution in the face of an aggressive force bent on genocide and destruction, and chides the natural, sane response of wanting to fight for survival.  This applies to both the Tolmekians and the toxic jungle, by the way.  Of course the movie finds a way to actually resolve the immediate situation of a giant herd of ohm bearing down on the Valley of the Wind, and the occupying Tolmekian force by having Nausicaa sacrifice herself to them, which somehow shocks them into stopping.  Since, as a young girl, Nausicaa fought to preserve one of their kind, and did it again even as they stampeded toward her home bent on destruction, the ohm are then nice enough to bring her back to life, making it not really a sacrifice at all.  And they all lived happily ever after.  Except that the toxic jungle is still slowly devouring the rest of the planet and killing more and more villages as it does, but hey, the giant bugs are alright and the Tolmekians decided to go home, so I guess we’re supposed to forget about that part.

As you can tell, I wasn’t really a big fan of this movie.  It had very heavy-handed environmental and pacifist messages, and frankly the protagonist could get on my nerves at times, not only because of the stuff she’d say, but also because of how she was basically perfect, practically a Mary Stu, really.  Personally, I actually liked Master Yupa, a Gandalf-like wanderer who was pragmatic and skilled in both diplomacy and combat – the perfect character to be voiced by Captain Picard himself.  ;)  And as an added bonus, he didn’t talk down to the audience or spout any bullshit.

As for what I liked about this movie, well, occasionally post-apocalyptic stories can be interesting.  They show how people deal with the end of the world as we know it, and as long as they aren’t completely stupid, it can be interesting to see that.  This movie, and really a few of Miyazaki’s works, also tend to have a rather fanciful tone to them when they aren’t busy being preachy, with some good comedy relief moments, and character development, even if they can be a bit slow-paced at times.  I’ll also admit to just liking how things look, too, as Miyazaki movies tend to be very beautifully animated, and I also kind of like the different examples of steampunk in them.  Yeah, most of the giant flying machines and the like are impossible, but they are still cool to look at.

I’m sure some of you might be surprised to read after all of this that I think this is actually one of the better Miyazaki movies I’ve seen so far.  Unfortunately, the heavy-handed messages really dragged it down for me.  However, if you happen to agree with that stuff yourself, especially if you like the movie Avatar, which seems to think this movie wasn’t heavy-handed enough, you’ll probably like this movie.  If you aren’t into those kinds of messages, it’s still somewhat watchable, but be warned that this movie is pretty preachy.  7/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: Fiery Little One on August 26, 2015, 05:41:49 PM
Fair enough. I think the last time I watched this one was with the original dub.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 29, 2015, 10:52:42 AM
Princess Mononoke
(1997 movie)

Yet another offering by Miyazaki, this movie takes place in a mythical ancient Japan, which is not long into the iron age, and which still has to deal with actual spirits which exist in the vast forests which cover most of the land.  Like every Miyazaki film, there are heavy-handed environmental and pacifist messages, but fortunately these are balanced out by an intriguing story filled with characters that have some actual depth to them, including the people who are theoretically supposed to be the bad guys.

While there is a strong female character in this movie, named San, the protagonist is actually Ashitaka, a young member of an isolated, traditionalist village that sits on the edge of the forest, which we're informed is supposed to be off limits to humans.  Ashitaka is sent on a journey into this forest following an attack on his village by a forest spirit in the form of a giant boar that's been covered by black worms.  While Ashitaka is successful in defeating this possessed boar and protecting his village, he is wounded by the black worms, which leave a mark on his arm that will spread to cover more and more of his body throughout the movie.  He's informed that this will kill him unless he successfully finds the Forest Spirit and is able to talk it into lifting this curse from him.  In the interim, though, the evil black mark gives him superpowers that enable him to literally shoot the heads and limbs off of some douche-bag samurai types with a regular bow and arrows, lift a door that normally takes ten men to lift, and survive getting shot through the center of mass by a musket ball the size of a fist long enough to rescue the girl and get healed by the Forest Spirit he's looking for.

San is "the girl" I'm referring to here, who Ashitaka takes a liking to the moment he lays eyes on her, in spite of the fact she and her giant wolf buddies have just finished slaughtering a bunch of humans who are only trying to get through the forest to bring food and supplies to their families in Iron Town, and in spite of the way she and her wolf buddies constantly threaten to kill him and even make a go of carrying out those threats.  She is kind of a looker, though, so, hey, crazy in the head, crazy in bed, right?  ;)

The main plot of this film is about the conflict between the industrializing humans and nature, actually somewhat paralleling the kind of conflict J. R. R. Tolkien set up in his stories.  Actually it wouldn't surprise me that much if this movie was somewhat inspired by Lord of the Rings (as in the books, obviously), but really that's just an interesting thought and not something I'm actually holding this film up against.

Anyway, the industrializing humans are represented by two different groups – the douche-bag samurai I referred to earlier, and the inhabitants of the island-based Iron Town.  The samurai represent a militaristic group of humans who basically want everything they lay eyes on, and they'll kill anyone and everyone who happens to be there.  Given that this is a Miyazaki film, this representation of a military force really shouldn't be all that surprising.  Not that the samurai weren't douche-bags.  Iron Town, on the other hand, exists to create iron and the primitive firearms it uses to defend itself against douche-bag samurais and forest spirits alike.  Of course in doing so, they've cleared a significant portion of the forest, and have mined for iron ore, so you can kind of guess where the conflict comes in here.


Iron Town and its leader, a woman named Eboshi, are actually what help to balance this movie out quite a bit, and show that in spite of the fact Miyazaki can be very preachy when it comes to the environment and fighting, he can still keep his films from being completely one-sided, and I respect that.  See, Eboshi has basically taken in all of the social misfits that wouldn't be able to find good work anywhere else, like prostitutes and even lepers, so they can make iron.  It's hard work and these people are portrayed as more or less good people who are simply trying to make a living, and who owe a lot to their leader because she's taken them in and given them this refuge in exchange for their labor.  Ebashi also genuinely seems to care for these people, and will put her own life on the line to defend them.  As this brings them into conflict with the forest spirits, San and her wolf family are very hateful toward Ebashi and the residents of Iron Town, and since San and her wolf family are constantly killing their friends and family members, they're naturally very hateful toward San and the forest spirits.  This kind of puts Ashitaka in an awkward position, because while he doesn't agree with the industrialization and the stripping of the forest, he still recognizes these as good people and can't bring himself to condemn them, in spite of the revelation that they are essentially the cause of his present misfortune.  Then, of course, is the fact that he really wants to slip San the ol' sausage, so he ends up finding himself fighting both groups while trying to befriend both groups.  Complexity and depth, I like it.  :)

So as I mentioned earlier, Ashitaka ends up getting shot by a huge musket ball of doom, which is made of iron instead of lead for some reason, and is also responsible for the various forest spirit animals who get shot going crazy and turning into worm-covered demons that want to kill everyone in their sight.  Kind of like the samurai-types.  Huh, wonder if there's a parallel there or something.  Anyway, since San is impressed by what Ashitaka is willing to sacrifice in order to preserve her life, and by his respect for the forest and its spirits, she decides to take him to the Forest Spirit to be healed.  As it turns out, he'd actually spotted the Forest Spirit earlier in its day time form, which looks kind of like an elk with a flat, human-like face. 

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/PrincessMononoke01.jpg)
The forest's savior.

Due to its ability to magically heal the sick and wounded, and to literally walk on water, I'm going to refer to the Forest Spirit as Elk Jesus from now on.  In any case, this first instance of the audience being shown that Elk Jesus has these abilities also establishes that in order to give life, by healing or otherwise, life must be sacrificed to do so, which is why San grabbed a tree branch and planted it close to Ashitaka when she took him to Elk Jesus's home.

And thus Ashitaka finds himself no better off than he was at the start of his quest, healed of his gunshot wound, but still bearing the curse that has spread even further through his body.  And despite San coming around to him, somewhat, she still refuses to accept any kind of a peaceful compromise with humans, or that she even is human herself, having been raised by a she-wolf like Romulus and Remus.  He's also told to leave the forest by both the wolves and the leader of a huge pack of giant boars, because the next time they see him they'll kill him.  Of course, the samurai douche-bags attack Iron Town while Ebashi and most of the men from Iron Town are away on a hunt in service of the emperor, so he ends up resuming his quest to find a peaceful solution for Ebashi and her group and the forest spirits, and to save San while he's at it. 

Ebashi, for all the good that she's done the residents of Iron Town, apparently only had the resources to do so because of the emperor, and now owes the old bastard a favor.  As it turns out, the favor consists of hunting down Elk Jesus and cutting off its head, which is said to grant immortality upon its owner, or something like that.  To ensure she lives up to her end of things, the emperor even goes as far as to send an elite group of hunter-monks, who are portrayed not all that differently from the samurai.

As it turns out, Elk Jesus turns into this giant, ethereal humanoid at night and wanders the forest.  Apparently, during the transformation phase between elk-thing and giant ghost-thing, it's actually vulnerable to getting shot, although it apparently losing its head just makes it grope around wildly, killing everything it touches while it looks for its head.  This is where the movie basically sells itself as being a kind of lost history to the real world, because this incident marks the end of forest spirits as a tangible thing, and of the forest animals being sentient beings.  But hey, Ashitaka gets the crazy wolf-girl in the end, and in spite of Iron Town being destroyed and overrun by plants, there's nothing left now to keep humanity from progressing into an industrialized society, so happy ending for all ... except the forest spirits and Elk Jesus, who died for humanity’s sins (only being slightly sarcastic here).

This movie is mainly interesting to me due to its themes: religious, change from nature to industry, life from death, etc.  And while I don't really agree with what all this movie has to say, it is interesting to note these themes and to make comparisons to other works that have similar themes.  I also like that the majority of the characters in this movie have some actual depth to them, and that the causes and solutions to the conflict and drama in the story are not really all that clear-cut.  The resolution wasn't perfect for everyone either, because even though Ashitaka was cured of his curse and got a hot new girlfriend out of the deal, he was not able to save the forest spirits and only barely managed to save the residents of Iron Town.  And while the residents of Iron Town survived, everything they worked for and fought to protect was destroyed.

The main weakness of this movie, like pretty much every Miyazaki film, is that at times the pacing can be somewhat slow and the movie can drag in parts.  I also have to admit to a personal bias here in that the setting and subject matter just aren't all that terribly interesting to me.  However, due to the interesting theme and the balanced storytelling, I'm going to rate this movie somewhat higher than I might have otherwise. 

If you’re interested in myth, fantasy, and really like trees and stuff, you'll probably like this movie a lot more than I did, because really it's custom made for people who have those interests.  But even if you aren't someone like that, it's still a somewhat engaging and interesting story that can entertain.  8/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on August 30, 2015, 12:52:15 PM
Howl's Moving Castle
(2004 movie)

My third and final (for the moment) Miyazaki film review, this is everything I've come to expect from the man.  Well, mostly.  In this case it's more about being anti-military and pacifist than environmentalism, which takes a back seat to calling everyone in the military murderers.  The Wikipedia article about this movie mentions that Miyazaki was upset about the 2003 Iraq invasion, like pretty much everyone else in the world, so naturally he uses this movie as a soapbox to that end.

Okay, maybe I'm being a bit harsh here, because to be fair, most of the movie is about the protagonist, a young woman named Sophie, and the love she develops for the eccentric wizard named Howl.  As you might guess from the title, much of the movie takes place in Howl's magical moving castle, though the setting itself is in a fantasy country I never quite caught the name of and remembered, which seems like a mix of pre-WWI France, Britain, and Germany.  Actually the setting is one of the most impressive things about the movie as far as I'm concerned, mostly because it reminds me a lot of the fantastic visions of the future from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, from the architecture to all the different vehicles seen buzzing about on the ground and in the air.  Of course another major theme is that magic is taken as a normal, everyday thing, with wizards and witches actually being educated to be such. 

Sophie is a hatter, working for a small family shop, and she's very down on what she sees as her lot in life.  Basically she starts out with a very negative outlook on herself and her life because she feels it is her responsibility and her fate to waste her life making hats.  This becomes an important theme for the movie, because not long after the movie starts she has an unfortunate encounter with The Witch of Waste, who apparently is after Howl for some reason.  In any case, she's put under a spell that artificially ages her to the point that she looks like she's one foot in the grave.  The thing of note here is that she only looks like this when she is feeling down on herself or has an otherwise negative outlook on life, because when she's distracted with what's going on around her, and when she lets her feelings for Howl come to the forefront, she begins to appear younger – in one outburst defending Howl she briefly even appears her true age.  For most of the movie, though, you could almost miss the change in her appearance simply because of everything that's going on, as the movie doesn't slow down all that much once it starts introducing the characters.

The plot of the movie mainly focuses on Howl's involvement with a war that has recently broken out with another country.  The details are never discussed, though, because the movie is too busy bashing the military and war in general.  Actually this is part of where the movie shows some major weakness, primarily because there's a plot hole that makes things not make a lot of sense.  Because the thing is, Howl is drafted to fight, and he makes it obvious that he doesn't want to fight, but he still does.  The thing is, at one point he has Sophie pose as his mother to try to talk the reigning monarch/witch into letting him off the hook, and a big deal is made about this monarch, Madame Suliman, ordering him to be hunted down when it becomes obvious to her that he's just draft-dodging.  Yet later on, he's seen fighting in the war, and the focus shifts to Sophie trying to get him to stop fighting, because apparently there's some risk of him being stuck in the crow-like form he fights in.  So why is Suliman still hunting him if he's fighting?

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Howl01.jpg)
I don't get it.

There are some scenes that manage to hit home, especially when Sophie's home is attacked, but for the most part I find all the anti-military crap to be sanctimonious and frankly insulting.  It's true, I have some bias here because I was in Air Force ROTC for a while, but while I have respect for members of the armed forces, my limited experience has given me perspective enough to not be unquestioning and basically the kind of stupid that would be on the other side of the same coin here.  So while I don't unconditionally call everyone in the military a hero, I also don't unilaterally call them murderers, either, which at one point Howl just flat our states.  And while war is tragic and at times pointless, there are times it's necessary, illustrated wonderfully by WWII with the Hitler and Japan taking over the world thing.  I'm not going to get into it too much, because frankly that's its own discussion.  Safe to say that the movie rather irritated me with this subject matter.

For the most part, though, the movie tries to generate laughs more than anything, mostly with jokes having to do with getting old – something Miyazaki undoubtedly has experience with.  There are a number of secondary characters, which mostly serve comedic roles as well, including the Witch of Waste, who is reduced to a "cute" old woman who only really serves as a minor annoyance later on.  There isn't a lot that really stands out, though, either story-wise or character-wise.  The movie ends pretty much the way you would expect, which is to say not completely happy, but with Sophie and Howl hooking up and even adopting the child wizard who's been Howl's apprentice/assistant, along with the dog who's actually supposed to be a spy for Suliman but apparently just decides to become the family dog instead.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Howl02.jpg)

Before I wrap things up, though, I think I should mention another theme I've noticed with Miyazaki.  I can't help but notice that all the female characters he wants to portray as being strong tend to have short hair.  I also noticed that in the case of two female leads, Sophie being one of them, they start out with long hair and are somewhat weak and unassertive, but their hair is cut or otherwise ends up short as their character develops and they become stronger and more assertive.  It's not really important, just something I noticed and thought I'd mention.  I'm partial to short hair on women, too, so I guess that's one form of common ground between myself and Miyazaki.  I still think he's a hippie, though.  :D

Anyway, this is an interesting and marginally entertaining movie, but I find it to be mostly fluff surrounding an anti-military message.  If you like other examples of Miyazaki's work, you'll probably like this, too.  Even if you aren't, but you just don't mind being preached at for a few minutes out of two hours, you still might find this movie entertaining.  But when it comes to me, I don't much like the sermon, which earns it a -1 modifier in my book, resulting in a score of 6/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 01, 2015, 10:09:48 AM
Black Lagoon
Season 3 – Roberta’s Blood Trail
(5 episode OVA)

This sequel is basically more of the same as far as plot and characters go.  Oh, and since it’s an OVA, we finally get to see some uncensored side-boob from both the titular maid and everyone’s favorite fan service action girl, Revy.  ;)

This sequel picks up right where the series proper left off, continuing the storyline of Roberta, the terminator-like maid, and her master, Garcia Lovelace.  The thing about Black Lagoon is that it revels in its own grittiness, so while a story might have an otherwise happy ending, it usually still ends badly for someone or is at least bittersweet.  So while Roberta successfully rescued her young master and the two of them went home, as it turns out, Garcia’s father got blown up in a clandestine anti-drug operation conducted by the US Army.  Entirely innocent of anything, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and now Garcia is the head of the small Lovelace family.  This not only hits Roberta’s berserker switch, but it breaks it off in the “on” position, because she grabs the antique musket that symbolizes the Lovelace family and disappears, vowing to avenge this attack on the Lovelace family.

Fortunately for Garcia, he’s not left completely alone, as the Lovelace family apparently saw the need for a second assassin-trained maid, only this time she’s a moé-ish loli, just to make sure all the fetish bases are covered.  Since Garcia basically is in love with Roberta, he enlists the aid of his second maid, Fabiola, to go look for Roberta so they can hopefully bring her back home before she gets herself killed by trying to take on the US Army.  This leads them back to Roanapur and the Lagoon Company, naturally at the oft’ destroyed bar where they first met Roberta.  It goes about the same way, too.

Everyone is brought into this little adventure thanks to the implications being presented to the various mobs operating in Roanapur and elsewhere in the world, because they are interested in maintaining the status quo in Roanapur, even if some of them, like Hotel Moscow, would love to have an excuse to kill some American servicemen themselves thanks to the Cold War dying hard with them.  In the end they actually end up helping the American black ops unit responsible for Lovelace’s death, but they are sure to let the Americans know that while there is some professional respect there, they’d just as soon kill them as anything else the next time they see them.

One of the most interesting things about Black Lagoon is its characters, and that continues with this OVA.  For this story, we’re introduced to an Army officer who is duty-bound but also has a strong moral compass.  The first we see of him, he’s actually defending some young Vietnamese kid from the troops in his unit, risking getting fragged himself to do so.  But he holds strong, and even guns down one of his bloodthirsty subordinates to make his point.  Fast forward to the present, and upon learning that he’s killed an innocent man and wounded Garcia, and he does everything he can to defend Garcia even while he flees from Roberta, who’s so out of it that she nearly kills her own young master.  There isn’t a whole lot of depth to the character, and basically he’s an ideal more than a real person, but that’s pretty par for the course in Black Lagoon – what’s important is that he’s interesting. 

As always, Black Lagoon is a valentine to action movie fans, and the action is just as over the top and awesome in this OVA as it was in the series proper.  Sure, it’s unrealistic as hell, but if you recognize where things are coming from and just accept it for the action schlock that it is, it’s pretty damn fun to watch, and if you’re anything like me you’ll find yourself laughing at the ridiculousness of it all.  This is actually why I tend to give shows like Black Lagoon more of pass for that kind of thing, because they know exactly what they are and don’t try to apologize for it in any way, unlike something like say, Avatar (as in the one James Cameron made while fapping to furry porn).

The one downside to all of this is that it tends to be fairly predictable.  A lot of drama is made of Rock’s struggle to make some kind of a master plan that will enable him to save everyone this time around, since pretty much every other time he’s tried this he hasn’t really succeeded.  On the plus side, this is character development, as is Revy’s continuing interest in him (I really wish they’d just jump each other’s bones and get it over with).  On the other hand, it’s kind of robbed Rock of the underlying kindness that’s been an aspect of his character from the start, and turned more into this odd competition with Mr. Chang, boss of the local Triad mob.

Now what was I talking about again?  Oh yeah, predictability.  And I don’t just mean in that you could see action scenes coming from a mile away.  What I mean by that is that this story ends about the way you might guess that it would end, which is to say that it’s a mostly happy ending, except that Roberta ends up not quite being the fine specimen she was when we first met her.  This is basically foreshadowed earlier in the story when she starts taking depression medication and starts seeing dead people.  Essentially she becomes a Captain Ahab, in more ways than one.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/BlackLagoon04.jpg)
And they lived happily ever after...

Overall, it’s pretty easy to say that I liked this OVA, though in a lot of ways I kind of wished we’d gotten a fully-fledged season.  All the same, it was nice to get something, and it was one hell of an action romp to boot, every bit in the same vein as the first two seasons.  The only downsides are a lack of time for other characters to get more than a cameo, and the kind of predictability that just comes as standard fare for action schlock. 

If you liked the first two seasons, you’ll probably like what the third season has to offer, just be aware that there’s as yet no dub available, at least not as of the time I wrote this review.  I’m really hoping that a dub does get made, but I’m not going to hold my breath either.
Update: Not only did they make a dub, but it even features all of the same voice actors from the series.  I like being wrong sometimes.  :)

If you haven’t seen the first two seasons, you should still be able to jump right into Roberta’s Blood Trail without much trouble.  They do quickly run through introductions again, so you shouldn’t be completely lost if you skipped the first two seasons.  If you’re trying to decide to watch this, if you liked The Expendables, RED, or the Crank movies, Black Lagoon should be right up your ally.  9/10 (in my extremely biased opinion)
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 03, 2015, 11:51:03 AM
Armored Trooper VOTOMS
(52 episode series)

You know, I muddled my way through this beast of a series, hoping that in spite of the constant padding and drawing out, that it would pay off in the end.  After all, Blood+ turned into something worth watching in spite of a slow start, and it was likewise a long series.  However, Armored Trooper VOTOMS ultimately proved to be a disappointment for me, because as the series neared its end, it became really clear to me that the writers had been pulling everything out of their fourth point of contact all along.

A product of the '80s, this series really showed its age as far as the animation – it actually resembles the animated Star Trek series from the '70s in part.  That being said, at first that was my only real concern with the series.  We're given a bit of exposition in the beginning that explains that a war has been going on between two interstellar nations, the Gilgamesh Confederation and the Balarant Union, and from that point on the series closely follows protagonist Chirico Cuvie as he is sent on a secret mission with a clandestine group that has unknown objectives.  He thinks he's on a training mission of some kind only to find himself fighting his own forces as the group he's with looks for something.  He stumbles upon a mysterious bald (and buck-ass nekkid) woman in a glowing stasis chamber, and from that point on his life goes completely to hell as basically everyone he comes across tries to kill him.  So basically what I'm saying is that, initially anyway, the story seemed interesting enough to put up with the dated animation and lack of a dub (however horrible it might have been).  After all, it was obvious that this secret society didn't want Chirico with them on this mission to steal what turned out to be some kind of a genetically engineered super-soldier, yet he was an elite soldier from a group known as the Red Shoulders.  What was he doing there?  What was the secret society up to and how extensive was its membership?  Who was the mysterious bald woman?

So it was fairly easy to root for Chirico and the friends he made along the way, even if every single one of them basically was a cliché of some kind.  Chirico, for instance, was basically the ideal bad-ass soldier.  Actually, it got rather amusing at times, because the secret society was apparently after the "Perfect Soldier," or PS for short, and given how Chirico was basically perfect in his Gary Stu-like ability to overcome literally any odds, I thought it was pretty obvious that Chirico was the real perfect soldier.  Apparently the writers noticed this too and just made him one.  But then, the PS thing was pushed into the background, even as Chirico met up with the mysterious woman from the first episode and the two of them decided they were in love with each other.

I suppose it could be somehow argued that everything was planned out at least well enough, but especially getting toward the end of the series, it was obvious that the writers were just clamoring to tie up any loose ends they might have left.  I guess I can give them credit for at least caring enough to do so, anyway – that's more than Rick Berman and Brannon Braga can be given credit for anyway. ;)

I was also initially concerned that since this was a giant mech series that I'd end up not liking it because of that.  To be honest, giant mechs are mostly amusing to me, and for the most part in a series that's trying to be serious I usually find that it just isn't my thing (see my Evangelion reviews).  I was somewhat impressed that some thought was actually put into these particular giant mechs, but for the most part I just kind of bared with it.

I think the characterization is where I was mainly let down for the majority of the series.  To be frank, Chirico's character would change depending on whatever plot twist the writers decided to pull out of their asses, and so would pretty much everyone else's.  For instance, there were three comedy relief characters who always managed to end up following Chirico no matter where he ended up, and they would constantly yo-yo between thinking Chirico was a prick and deciding he wasn't that bad after all and do everything they could help him.  To be fair, though, there were plenty of times Chirico actually was a prick, and he'd usually end up screwing these people over in some way.  Then there was Fyanna, the mysterious bald woman Chirico saw in the first episode (she does grow hair, though).  Initially, she was an impressive combat soldier, but as Chirico drew closer to her in his search for answers, she started to grow weaker, and when the two of them fell in love she basically fell into the clichéd role a lot of women in anime (and just in media in general) tend to fall into.  Sure, occasionally she'd show some fighting ability, but for the most part she was there to be emotional about Chirico so the writers could try to fool the audience into thinking there was actually some drama.

The series goes on a very long, convoluted journey, which seems to change depending on what mood the writers were in, and it has a little bit of everything.  Chirico goes from the kind of urban cyberpunk dystopia that was pretty common for '80s sci-fi, to a Vietnam-like planet where he fights in someone else's civil war, to a post-apocalyptic desert planet that has a poisonous atmosphere, to the desert home planet of a species that decided to abandon technology, with an ancient technological mystery buried beneath them the entire time.  Likewise, Chirico goes from being almost an everyman, to an asshole, to being sympathetic, to being regretful in his past affiliation with the Red Shoulders due to atrocities they committed, to refusing to let a woman die even though she's vowed revenge on him and constantly tries to kill him, to being a prick with aspirations of galactic domination, to being the big damn hero at the last minute.  I especially wasn't impressed with those last two things.

So what was the solution to all the mysteries?  God did it.  Well, a technological god, who was made by a genetically superior superman, but, still.  And as it turns out, Chirico is actually one of these "overmen," too.  And the part that really irritated the hell out of me is that once this was finally revealed, Chirico basically turned evil and left his would-be lover and the friends who have been with him for all this way to die.  Then, not long after, he seems to actively try to kill them as they try to stop him from taking over the galaxy.  Of course! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8u7px_GzWQ)
Then, at the last minute, Chirico suddenly shoots the ancient computer god and sets about destroying it, having done all the douchebag things he'd done up to that point to fool the computer god.  Of course, the big deal about the computer god was that it was telepathic, so... yeah.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/ArmoredTroopersVOTOMS01.jpg)
Daisy... Daisy...  Give me your answer, do...  I'm half cra-zy, all for the love of you...

The ass-pull comes in how basically every lingering mystery – the strange ship Chirico and Fyanna found themselves on following planet Vietnam, why Chirico was on the mission in the first episode, etc. – was resolved by having the computer god exposit that it was totally behind everything, and even though Chirico came close to dying more than once, the computer god was somehow protecting him the entire time.  Talk about an eye-roller.

The series then somewhat abruptly ends as the war Chirico apparently was trying to prevent by destroying the computer god (along with the planet it was on and all of its inhabitants) breaks out between the Gilgamesh and the Balarant all over again anyway.  Chirico and Fyanna, now newly made up with each other as well as with the other friends Chirico had tried to kill previously, decide to be shot out into space in a cryo-tube, leaving the story open for a sequel, which there apparently were plenty of.  Jury is still out on whether I'll actually give them a chance – I might check them out just out of morbid curiosity.

I think, for me, the most interesting aspect of the series was seeing the influences this series took from other sources, and how it influenced at least one other show at least in name.  There was definitely a lot of influence from the movies Alien and 2001: A Space Odyssey, both in visual design and in the use of certain sound effects.  As for how it influenced another, much younger show – apparently someone from Gainax saw this show and liked the name of a certain character, named Gurren.  ;)

That being said, while there are some interesting aspects to this series and it is somewhat noteworthy in the basics of its story and approach to telling that story, I'm not sure I'd really recommend it to anyone.  Hardcore sci-fi and mech fans might be interested somewhat, but it's a rather dated show and it tends to drag at times.  4/10. 

I can't believe I watched the whole thing...  :(
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 16, 2015, 02:30:06 PM
Baccano! – A Re-Review
(13 + 3 episode series)

Having recently re-watched this series, I thought it deserved a re-review – not that my views have changed much on it, but because I have a clearer understanding of it.  That, and the original review I wrote up on it was one of the first ones I did, and I think it deserves to be reworked using my current, more detailed style.

Baccano! is a pretty unique series, and it’s obvious that a lot of effort went into bringing it into being.  Like the Gunsmith Cats team, the Baccano! team went to the locations they wanted to portray in New York City, and since a good chunk of the story takes place on a train, the team also visited the Steamtown National Historic Site, so the locations the story takes place in could be more accurately depicted.  This attention to detail was carried on into the English dub by the casting director and script writer, who watched old movies from the era so they could get a feel for how people talked at the time, and this produced one of the best dubs in anime.  About the only downside is that since most of these movies were about Chicago mobsters, a bunch of New York mobsters had Chicago accents, but in this case it’s the thought that counts.  For me, the attention to detail is pretty impressive nonetheless.  And as if that wasn’t enough, the outstanding soundtrack also makes a point of bringing the sound of Prohibition era America to life for a show that primarily takes place during this time frame.

Of course, this attention to detail isn’t really what I’m referring to when I call this a unique series.  What makes this show unique is its method of storytelling, which is to say that it’s like the editor had attention deficit disorder.  There are several different storylines that take place at several different time frames that all manage to intersect on a train called the Flying Pussyfoot (which is referring to being quick and light on the feet, you sick bastards).  Anyway, if that wasn’t bad enough, the story actually starts out after everything has already gone down, and then proceeds to feed the audience relevant information in a well-paced manner that kept me interested in the story.  To the credit of the people who made this, they actually kept things pretty straight, which is more than most other shows told in a more traditional manner can say sometimes.  This works both for and against this show, as it does generate interest and tells a story in a different way, but it can also be very frustrating and confusing at times.

The story itself revolves around a group of immortals and an elixir of immortality given to them by a demon one of them managed to summon.  This isn’t a case of Highlander immortality either, as one of these immortals can be shredded into little pieces and their flesh will magically reconstitute together and bring the person (or animal) back to life.  The original group was apparently a bunch of alchemists, though the series didn’t really make that point all that clear to me, as I was under the impression that it was a group of immigrants on the way across the Atlantic.  Although now it makes a lot more sense to me why they all had different fake European accents.  Anyway, the demon gives the knowledge for how to make the immortality elixir to the alchemist who summoned him, but he and most of the others decided that they would keep this to themselves, as the consequences of this becoming common knowledge and creating a world full of immortals was rather distressing.  However, one of them, an old man named Szilard Quates, disagrees and wants this knowledge for himself.  Incidentally, the demon left the group of immortals an out in case they ever decided they wanted to die by making it possible for them to be absorbed by one of their fellow immortals if their devourer placed their hand on their forehead and thought, ‘I wish to eat’, or something along those lines.  As an added bonus the devourer also absorbed all of that person’s knowledge and experience on top of basically being a cannibal, so you might guess where this was leading.

Fast forward to the 1930s, and ol’ mad Doc Quates was closing in on the correct formula for the elixir, and unfortunately for him, got tangled up with a bunch of mobsters in the process.  Really, though, the best thing he ever produced was Ennis, an incredibly attractive homunculus he created from his own cells using magic, apparently.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Baccano01.jpg)
*sigh*  So kawaii…  Have I mentioned I have a thing for women in suits, women with short hair, and women who can kick ass?

As for how all this leads up to a slaughter on the Flying Pussyfoot *snicker*, I can’t really say for sure, other than that a lot of the characters we’re introduced to end up on that train, and one of them was one of these original immortals (man, imagine being stuck in the body of a 10 year old boy for 200 years) and the homunculus of another immortal happened to be on the train while some kind of underhanded political crap was going on.  It’s really kind of a Charlie Foxtrot, because while there’s a group of black-suited terrorists basically looking to take a US Senator’s wife and daughter hostage, there’s also a group of white-suited thugs led by the completely insane mobster Ladd Russo that’s basically looking to kill everyone on board.  And if that wasn’t enough, there’s an expert assassin/gymnast on board who was actually one of the train’s conductors, but thanks to a scary story being told at the right time he effectively becomes a monster known as the “rail tracer” who busily goes about slaughtering all the black-suits and white-suits on the train.  It’s entertaining as hell to watch, but it can also be confusing at times.

That all being said, this series is completely over the top and ridiculous.  That actually helps me to let the giant cluster fuck that is the storytelling method and the sheer amount of story and characters that there is slide.  Which, speaking of the characters, there are so many of them that it's often hard to keep track of them all.  The opening credits helps a little, as it introduces basically everyone important to the story while the awesome theme song plays.  It also helps to convey the scatter-shot method of storytelling, I guess.  Really, there are only two characters that manage to weave it all together – Isaac and Miria, two eccentric (as in insane) characters who are in every single storyline except for the "how it all got started" storyline that took place in the 1700s.  There's also the vice president of the Daily Days, which is both a newspaper and an information brokerage, and his young apprentice, Carol.  Those two mainly serve the function of introducing the different storylines and the odd method of storytelling to the audience, as well as the all important role of being the writers' mouthpiece.  This may be somewhat unkind of me to say, but they just made it so damned obvious by only having these characters be in the first few episodes, literally introducing all the various storylines, and then not having them show up again until the very end of the special 3 episodes that were added after the original ending of the series, mainly to take pot shots at critics like myself, as well as making a statement to all the fans who were undoubtedly the reason these 3 episodes were made.  Which is to say that they tied up a few loose threads and then told everyone off about any others they might have left dangling. 

It's certainly a valid argument that the audience should be able to use its imagination in lieu of showing how each and every plot thread got resolved, which is to say that there is an appeal to that.  Mainly, I just took a little issue with the attitude, although I can understand anime fans being at the root of that.  I'll also say that their unique method of storytelling was also valid, but I still think the show would have been better in chronological order and without the story-framing writer mouthpieces, but that's just my opinion.

On that same note, I also have to say that I didn't particularly attach to any characters or find any of them sympathetic, mainly because they were all criminals, but that's okay because this isn't really a serious series anyway.   In this case, what matters is that there are interesting characters who are interesting to watch, and Baccano! has plenty of those.  One of my favorites has to be Ladd Russo.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Baccano02.jpg)
How can you not like this guy?  So what if he's a psychopathic murderer who's saving his girlfriend to kill last; he's just so damn entertaining to watch.  ;)

So, in case you were wondering if I'd changed my mind on the rating I gave this show on my nebulous and arbitrary scale of "good", no, I haven't.  I still rate this a 9/10 for being the entertaining, well done, and well thought out ruckus that it is.  I would definitely recommend it, and I'm going to finally get around to adding it to my favorites list.  Actually, I bought this show a while back when it was on sale, and the only thing I regret is that Funimation saw fit to put unskipable ads on every single disk.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 17, 2015, 12:03:06 PM
Neo Tokyo
(1987 movie)

I've actually been putting this review off for close to two weeks now, because honestly, I'm not entirely sure what all I can say about this movie.  Of course part of that is because strictly speaking it isn't so much a movie as a collection of three short stories, only one of which is told in a linear, mostly logical fashion.  The others are a bit more ... abstract.  But then, that isn't to say that I disliked this movie so much as I wished I understood what exactly it was I was watching.

Okay, just to start things off, I'm going to put it out there that this is a beautifully drawn and animated piece of work.  The visual style of the two less abstract shorts in particular typify one of the appeals older anime has with me.  Older sci-fi anime in particular just tends to look really awesome to me, and I actually kind of like it when things are kind of weird or otherworldly in the story that's being told.  Actually, one of the things I liked about the much more recent movie Redline was that it's visual style and even the type of story that was being told reminded me a lot of '80s anime that I've grown to like, in spite of never having watched any of it until more recently.  I'd say Redline actually mostly resembled the "Running Man" short with the hardness of the lines in the drawing style and just overall in the visual design, at least in my opinion.  Incidentally Madhouse animated both of these movies.  :D

As for things like plot and story, well, that's a bit more complicated.  As I mentioned before, this isn't a movie, it's a collection of three shorts, one of which serves as a framing device for the others, at least in how it was edited for the movie.  Called "Labyrinth labyrinthos", it seems to involve a little girl in '50s era Japan playing with her large pet cat, named Cicerone.  The Wiki article indicates that the abstract visuals the audience is subjected to is an "exploration into the mind of a little girl," which I guess I can buy, it's just that I felt kind of like I was watching an animated episode of The Twilight Zone.  Unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot of commentary I can offer on this short, as it's really much too abstract for me to do so – really this is a case of things possibly representing some other concept that I just don't grasp, or it could be complete nonsense.  About all I can offer is that her cat's name is an old European term for a guide, such as for a museum or an art gallery.  The word itself is derived from Marcus Tullius Cicero's name.  He was a Roman philosopher and politician during the late Roman Republic.  During Caesar's dictatorship, he advocated for a return to the more traditional style of republican government which later led him to becoming an enemy of Marc Antony and getting killed.  In any case, the use of his name as the title for a guide probably has a lot more to do with his writings on philosophy, mostly of the Greek variety, through which he introduced Greek philosophy to the Roman Republic.  These writings were rediscovered in early modern times and are often credited for helping to start the Renaissance by reintroducing classical philosophy to the writers of the day.  As for how this applies to a little girl traveling into a warped dimension and seeing some Salvador Dalí artwork on the way to a monster circus, I have no idea, beyond the obvious of the cat accompanying her in spite of not actually being a guide of any kind.

The second short, called "Running Man" is about a futuristic, ultra-violent race of some kind that is (in)famous for all the deaths it tends to cause.  It focuses on a driver named Zach Hugh, but is told out of linear order and is narrated by a magazine reporter after Zach's unusual and mysterious death.  Apparently Zach had a telekinetic ability which he used to destroy the hover-car racer of anyone who managed to pass him, and this apparently had driven him insane.  The short covers Zach's last race as the ghosts of his past catch up to him and he apparently destroys his own body and car.  I guess the thing is, while the narration explained all of this, the way the story is edited together made it somewhat confusing for me to watch until after I'd watched it a second time.  It was kind of bland as a story, but pretty neat to watch even if I didn't entirely understand just what I was watching.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/NeoTokyo01.jpg)
What did I just watch?

"The Order to Stop Construction" tells its story in a much more traditional fashion, keeping things nice and linear even if the setting is still strange as hell.  Basically, a stereotypical salary man from a generic Japanese construction company has to travel to a fictitious South American country to shut down an expensive project being built there.  Called Facility 444, this would be a bit more obvious to American audiences if it was called Facility 666 – 4 is the Japanese number for death.  Anyway, the facility is being built deep in the jungle and has to deal with both an abundance of rain and flora, and because of the conditions there it's being built entirely by robots with only one man supervising the project.  As you might guess, this is the pretty standard "warning against depending too much on technology" story, though I personally also see it as a bit of a jab at the business attitudes of the average Japanese company.  Since a coup has taken place, the contract for the facility has been cancelled, and the order has gone out to stop construction and recoup as much as possible from the site.  Unfortunately the human supervisor has not responded to this order and construction at the site is continuing.  So, it's a bit clichéd, but not in a way that made it unenjoyable for me to watch.

So while this movie may not be what I would normally call "good", I think it was still pretty fun to watch.  It actually reminded me of a show that was on Tech TV back in the early 2000s that featured animation (mostly CG) from amateurs, some of which had no point beyond being cool-looking, and some of which actually were short stories.  I'd say I enjoyed Neo Tokyo on that basis, and I think it's important to keep that in mind if you're thinking about watching this movie.  I actually would recommend it, though more in terms of seeing an example of some cool sci-fi anime from the '80s than in some other sense.  That being said, I'm not entirely sure how to rate this, even on my nebulous scale of "good", so I'll just tentatively call it a 7/10 – not something that'll rock your socks off, but still fun to watch.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 20, 2015, 07:46:43 PM
Wonderful Days/Sky Blue
(2003 movie)

Man, I really wished some of these shows would just keep the same title.  I actually watched this under the title "Sky Blue," but Wikipedia has informed me that it's actually supposed to be "Wonderful Days".  Whatever.  Wikipedia has also informed me that this animation comes to us from South Korea, which is actually where a lot of animation is done for both Japanese and American companies.  Of course this is also where movies like Diatron-5 come to us from, which is basically Korea's attempt at doing anime.  I'm not saying Sky Blue is that bad, though between the CGI (used for basically everything but the characters) and the story, it does remind me an awful lot of  Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, which isn't really a good thing.

The story, such as it is, takes place in 2142 in some unspecified region of an environmentally devastated Earth.  There's mention of global warming, and toxic rain is supposed to be responsible for the barren landscape, so, as you might guess, this movie has a very heavy-handed environmental message.  About the only thing going for it there is that its only about as heavy-handed as Ghibli's Castle in the Sky, as opposed to some of his other movies, just to give you a feel for what you'd be in for this movie.  As in Castle in the Sky (and Avatar, for that matter), the story follows two star-crossed lovers who are somewhat awkwardly made to share the protagonist spot.  What I mean by that is that Jay, a rather attractive female security officer in the "living" city of Ecoban, seems like she's the protagonist early on in the movie, as she not only narrates, but the film follows her perspective for the most part.  This changes when we're introduced to the male lead, Shua, who's an environmentalist terrorist bent on messing up Ecoban's power core.  He's also later revealed to be a former citizen of Ecoban and the boy Jay totally liked when they were kids.  Point being that Shua takes up most of the movie's focus from the point he's introduced, with Jay being relegated to more of a supporting role.  But then this movie isn't really what I thought and hoped that it might be from what the opening of the movie teased me with.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/SkyBlue01.jpg)
What can I say?  I like 'em with short hair.

You see, I was led to believe that Jay would be the protagonist, and the movie was even kind of setting her up as the type of strong female protagonist that I like seeing, mostly because that isn't a type of protagonist that is seen very often.  She informs us that it's been raining for a century, and that Ecoban is not only the last hold-out of humanity, but that it's also a living city.  Of course it's only almost always cloudy, not always raining, and only the computer/power core of the city is "living" in the sense that it's neurally-based and happens to be shaped like a flower bloom.  Of course Jay turned out to not be all that strong, or the main protagonist, so it shouldn't be hard to understand why I was disappointed by this movie. 

The thing is, this movie is pretty predictable, and not terribly compelling on top of being somewhat boring.  Right off the bat, we're given underdogs to root for, as survivors of the environmental apocalypse mentioned in the opening are basically used as mistreated labor to do all the dirty work of digging up the resources Ecoban needs to run, somewhat similar to what was depicted in Battle Angel Alita and in Star Trek's "The Cloud Minders."  Within the first few minutes of the movie, we're shown not only the bigoted way that most of Ecoban's residents treat the people they call diggers, but the way they abuse them.  Apparently Ecoban is powered by carbonite (no word on if they use it to freeze people, too), and they use these diggers to, well, dig it up for them.  So the opening consists of Jay, the one non-bigoted person who lives in Ecoban, heading out to an oil-rig looking mining platform, just in time for it to start falling apart and to show the complete disregard the Ecoban foreman, Commander Locke, has for the diggers' lives by not only ordering the part of the platform that's falling apart on its own to be cut loose into the ocean, but by shooting the digger foreman when he refuses to do so and threatens a mass strike if Locke gets someone else to do it anyway.  Of course this doubly serves to introduce the main antagonist to the audience.  And that being done, Jay goes right back to Ecoban, Commander Cade is introduced as her boss and the guy who wants to bone her, and Shua sneaks in, kills some poor security guard, and hacks Ecoban's computer for his boss, Dr, Noah.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/SkyBlue02.jpg)
Sadly, no.  (Photo Credit: Memory Alpha)

Dr. Noah, who not only used to be a citizen of Ecoban but designed its computer system, wants to do some kind of an energy release that will supposedly clear the entire planet's atmosphere, making sure to note that the only "harm" to the citizens of Ecoban will be that they'll have to use solar energy (because I'm real sure that's developed a lot under a sky that's constantly cloudy) and have to do some hard work themselves, because, you know, the diggers are the underdogs who do all the work while the Ecobans are bastards who live like rich people and do no real work themselves.  Class warfare, basically.  It's also at this point we're given some brief background on Shua and Jay, as Shua also used to be a citizen of Ecoban, and he and Jay were totally into each other even as kids, apparently.  We're also introduced to Woody, some little orphan kid Shua adopted as a little brother to show us he's totally domestic material, and to the comedy relief thugs that Woody hangs out with, and who naturally turn out to nobly sacrifice themselves so Shua can get laid- I mean so he can win the day and get the girl in the end.

The conflict of this movie is also quickly set up, not only between Ecoban and the diggers, but between quite a few of the characters.  Locke and Cade are set up as political rivals, with Locke being more militant and Cade being more moderate.  Cade is also an antagonist, though he's made much more ambiguous than the straight-up black hat wearing, mustache-twirling (if he had one) antagonist that Locke is, at least in every area but one – Cade totally wants to bone Jay, and has been jealous of Shua since they were kids.  Shua brought Jay outside Ecoban at one point to show her a brief break in the clouds, but Cade tattled on them, as the area they were in was supposed to be off limits.  The guard was a real prick himself, and went really overboard on Shua.  Naturally Cade was all for that, but when the guard turned his attention on Jay, Cade tried to pull him away from her.  In the ensuing struggle his foot knocks knife out of the guard's belt and he uses it and to stab the guard in the back.  Then, being rather forward thinking for a kid, Cade not only frames Shua for the guard's murder, but does his best to kill Shua so he can't be around to defend himself, as Jay was conveniently unconscious at the time.  So as you might guess, the conflict between Cade and Shua is made to be the main conflict of the movie, rivaling even the plot's main conflict, which is Dr. Noah's plan to screw Ecoban so the sky can be magically cleared.

Naturally, everything turns out exactly the way you would expect, with the underdog terrorists succeeding at Dr. Noah's plan at the cost of all of their lives, with Shua and Woody being the only survivors out of them so that Shua can hook up with Jay and the two of them can adopt Woody.  Cade actually turned out to be the most fleshed out character of all of them, as he actually stopped short of killing Shua, instead sacrificing himself to save Jay from Locke.  Of course, everything was very melodramatic during all of this and I couldn't help but roll my eyes.  There's also the reveal that the mythical "Gibraltar" Shua had been going on about having a blue sky all the time was actually where the entire story took place.

I mean, this isn't a horribly bad movie or anything, but it's just so thin in story and characterization, and the plot is very basic.  I suppose if you enjoy basically anything that has class conflict, star-crossed lovers with a love triangle, and an environmental message, you might be able to just turn your brain off and enjoy this movie.  As for myself, I found myself bored and disappointed.  Really the only entertainment I got out of this movie involved all the names of characters which just also happened to be the same as characters from other shows or movies, all the flaws in logic the movie had, and just how transparently manipulative this movie tried to be.  I also couldn't help but see some similarities with Ergo Proxy, which I totally would have made a crack about, except that Ergo Proxy came out about 3 years after this movie.  Well, Ergo Proxy may have borrowed from this movie, but it was definitely a better show and far more entertaining.  Other than that, while there are a few enjoyable moments, and it has some pretty visuals here and there, I can't really recommend this movie to anyone.  4/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 21, 2015, 03:57:33 PM
Appleseed
(2004 movie)

This is actually one of the first animes I ever watched back when I first started putting a list together, but before I was driven to start writing reviews, which some of you might recall was started by Blue Gender.  Since I've mostly been watching things alphabetically, you can kind of guess that most of the shows that start with "A" were either done from memory or were watched since I started writing reviews.  Appleseed is one of a few that I've decided to rewatch prior to writing reviews for them, so I can refresh my memory about them.  I have to admit that when I first watched Appleseed, I actually liked it quite a bit, enough so that it was actually the first anime I bought once I'd gotten all the Ghost in the Shell stuff.  But, much like Elfen Lied (and Higurashi, incidentally), Appleseed has not aged well for me.  I honestly don't know if this is because my tastes have changed or if watching more anime since has diminished my tolerance for certain clichés, but I'll try to be as fair as I can be. 

What brought this on was recently watching Vexille, thanks to my roommate who bought the DVD for it on sale.  The DVD cover brags about Vexille being brought to us by the same people who made Appleseed, which is the reason my roommate even bought it.  Of course Vexille turned out to be horrible, lacking a coherent plot, well thought out characters or story, or an antagonist with a clear motivation.  Instead, it mostly consisted of a series of action scenes that were very loosely tied together.  I expressed my disappointment with that movie by comparing it to Appleseed, which I remembered having a much more coherent plot and better characterization and pacing.  Apparently I was remembering through rosy-tinted glasses or something, because while Appleseed is better than Vexille, that really isn't saying much.

Appleseed apparently takes place at the tail end of a devastating world war, which has left most of the world a desolate wasteland that leaves one wondering where the combatants who are still fighting get their supplies from.  The story follows protagonist Deunan Knute, a rather good looking female warrior with short blonde hair.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Appleseed02.jpg)
*sigh* 

The movie begins with Deunan and some other poor saps following her as they fight it out with some robots or guys in mech suits (it's never made clear) and an eight-wheeled armored car that has the gun from the A-10 mounted on top of it.  As you might guess, a bunch of light infantry packing rifles and RPGs don't stand much of a chance, though Deunan is blessed with the ability to defy physics and  with guns that actually do something against her robotic aggressors.  She's eventually cornered and surrounded in a way that makes me wonder if they were trying to capture her, even though they sure seemed to be trying their hardest to kill her just seconds before that.  Fortunately for her, what looks like the love child between a C-130 and a V-22 comes along and drops off what we later find out to be guys in mech suits that kill the tanks and robo-dudes.  Of course since they never bother saying anything to her along the lines of, "we're here to help," or "come with me if you want to live," Deunan does what most anyone would do and tries to get the hell out of dodge, only to be taken down by large metal crosses fired by their guns.  Incidentally, these are actually real things, which much like bean bags fired from shotguns are designed to be a non-lethal weapon against crowds, and work by knocking the wind out of the person they hit, which unfortunately also tends to break bones and cause internal damage.  In this case, however, they apparently just deliver tranquilizer, as explained by a very out of place and much too chipper Asian chick named Hitomi, who comments on Deunan's beauty.   

This all happens at a very brisk pace, which the movie keeps up for the majority of its run.  Soon after, we're introduced to Olympus, a shiny happy city in the middle of the ruins, which is described as being a "utopia".  This is also where the problems with the pacing and focus on action rather than character start to become a lot more obvious, because after the title sequence is where the story is supposed to really begin, only the quick pacing kind of prevents a proper set-up.  This is where my disappointment really comes in, because Deunan seemed like she could have been an interesting character, but she is never really explored beyond being shown to be a much better soldier than anyone in Olympus.  We're very quickly introduced to other characters, to the city, and to the plot, with Deunan basically being made to be unrealistically resilient to being plucked out of the battle zone that's been all she's known for most of her adult life and placed in this pristine city and given a new problem to solve beyond her basic survival.  All of this while being hit on by another woman who turns out to not actually be human, and being confronted by the fact that her old boyfriend, Briareos, whom she had presumed to be dead, was now sporting a fully robotic body that didn't even resemble a human being. In fact, she accepts everything very quickly, even though she really has no reason to do so.  And the only real indication we're given that she's effected at all by the quick transition is a nightmare she has on her first night in Olympus and the fact she can't sleep on a bed, and even this is quickly brushed aside, much like we never really find out who was attacking her at the start of the movie or what their objectives were.

Anyway, the plot, such as it is, revolves around tension between bigoted humans and the bioroids that now run the city.  Bioroids, as the name suggests, are artificial beings that have been designed to resemble humans while being programmed to act a certain way, but are biological in nature rather then mechanical as an android would be.  The "utopia" apparently sprung up out of no where, thanks to the efforts of Deunan's mother and father, who also helped to create the bioroids.  Bioroids are to help humans in addition to apparently being responsible for most of the administrative tasks of the city.  As you might imagine, this doesn't sit well with many humans, but we're informed that because a bunch of old guys are interfaced with a supposedly infallible computer and that humans run the city's military, that everything is somehow "balanced" and everyone should just be cool with that.  Of course I can see right through that, and since there's as much condescension as any early episode of TNG to go along with this exposition, so should everyone else.  But then, there are a lot of silly things about this movie and its characters, such as how there seem to be an awful lot of Greek names being used, and how the majority of them are actually apt to the characters who bear these names.  But then I guess this is easier than establishing and developing characters, so why not name the bad guys after the Greek god of the underworld and the father of the Titans, and while we're at it, let's name the computer after the Greek goddess representing Mother Earth.  Of course Uranus and Gaia mated with each other and had many children together (the Titans), so there once can't really make many parallels off of the names.  Uranus is mostly known for having a messed up family, mostly because he hated his own children, so I'm guessing that's why the big bad general who wants to kill all the bioroids has that name, and Hades is the god of the underworld, so that's bad, right, so why not give that name to his ambitious right hand man?

I guess the main problem I have with the antagonists we're given not long into the movie, aside from the fact that they turn out to be red herrings, is that they and every other bigoted human like them are made to be ridiculously over the top as far as their bigotry goes.  This conveniently lets the movie overlook what might otherwise be a legitimate gripe humans might have with bioroids making up basically their entire government, in what is essentially an authoritarian oligarchy.  So rather than forming a rebellion to overthrow the government, they take the genocidal route by destroying the one building that apparently not only makes all the bioroids, but also contains the special genetic material existing bioroids need to periodically have maintenance done with to keep living, uh, somehow.  Conveniently, Hitomi missed her scheduled oil change, so now there's artificial tension to get the "appleseed" the title refers to.  This is actually secret information Deunan's mother developed which would somehow allow bioroids to reproduce on their own, and thus now represents the only way bioroids can continue to exist.  Apparently by this point we were supposed to have forgotten that all the bioroids are actually genetically siblings, because all of them are based off of DNA from Deunan's father.  But aside from that, the information on how to make bioroids should not be gone, so really according to the way everything was established, it should be as simple as using another DNA sample from someone else and rebuilding the production line, but whatever, Deunan really likes Hitomi and actually cares about the bioroids even though they've done nothing but talk down to her about humanity's "nature" and all Hitomi has done is talk about how hot Deunan is and how much she wants to have human emotions.  Of course the movie seems to give up at this point, so whatever.

Deunan finally finds out what happened to her mother, who died when she was young, but this has a rather anti-climactic ending, because while the military kills the rest of the ESWAT squad Deunan is with (none of whom we ever got to really know anyway), Deunan still gets away with the appleseed they wanted to destroy and the military surrenders immediately afterwards.  This is the point that we find out who the real bad guys are – the old men hooked up to the city's computer.  Anyone who hadn't seen that one coming shouldn't feel too bad, though, because to be fair the movie never gave any clue to this before it was revealed, instead throwing out multiple red herrings to distract the audience with, only to throw out basically everything the start of the movie established in a pathetic attempt to create a crisis.  For instance, the "D-tank" we were informed is a safeguard for humanity to use against the bioroids by infecting all bioroids with a deadly virus should it ever be broken, is at the end of the movie stated to contain a virus which will make all humans sterile, because the old guys have decided that humans are bad, m'kay, and bioroids should inherit the planet because they'll treat it better and stuff.  Of course whoever wrote this selectively remembered that the very logical computer had to be in complete agreement with the old guys for the option to release the virus to even be available, so we're quickly informed that they fooled the computer by actually making it possible for the attempted military coup to take place, thus convincing the computer to go along with the plan to make humans sterile, eventually making the species go extinct.  Not two minutes later, the newly recovered Hitomi stumbles through the door, and explains that the computer wasn't fooled so much as the old guys turned it off and have been doing everything on their own, even though this will kill them, too.  Since the big red button to unleash the virus is disabled by being shot, the old guys decide to have the giant insect-like tanks guarding the city from the outside world make their way to the building with the D-tank to just shoot it at point blank range with their giant rail guns.  As you might expect, this plan does not succeed, and as an added bonus all the old guys die so there's no need to deal with them in any way in the rushed resolution.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I didn't find the story or characters all that believable, and that the plot seemed rather forced and rushed along to me.  Pacing was far too quick for characters to be fleshed out or given believable motivations for what they were doing, and what little story there was seemed to mostly be there as filler and exposition to set up the many action scenes.  The soundtrack didn't do this movie any favors either, as it consisted mostly of some kind of J-rock/dance club music that was probably meant to get the audience's blood pumping but instead served mostly to distract, at least in my case.  The animation is ... different.  Everything is computer generated, much like the Final Fantasy movies, but rather than going for a more photorealistic look, everything was given a kind of animation cell texture in an effort to make it look more like traditional anime.  I also found this to be somewhat distracting at times, mostly because while the main characters used motion capture from real actors, most of the characters tended to move very unrealistically, and I couldn't help but feel like I was watching the cut-scenes for a video game.

I don’t want to make this movie out to be all bad or anything, and to be fair, if you like action that involves a lot of gunfights and mech suits, you'll probably like this movie.  Mainly I'm disappointed, because there was the basis for a good story here that just never got realized.  It would have been a lot more interesting to me had there been more focus given to Deunan's character and how she dealt with the revelation that the war she had been fighting for most of her life was pointless and yet still going on, how she'd basically been denied a life in the pristine city her father and mother had helped to create until the creepy old men and the bioroid governor running the place decided they had a use for her, and how the boyfriend she thought was dead was actually still alive, had been allowed to live in Olympus himself and become a leader of the elite police ESWAT, but never came to her rescue until told to do so by the aforementioned old guys and bioroid governor.  Hell, just dealing with the fact that her boyfriend was a robot would have been interesting, especially if she found she couldn't deal with this change and between that and never coming for her, decided she wanted nothing to do with him.  I guess we're just supposed to be excited by the idea of Deunan riding his robo-dick or something.

In any case, you can probably guess that I'm not going to be rating this very high.  It isn't horrible, but it's not really what I'd consider good, either, as it lacks in plot, character, and story.  Instead, I found myself rather bored while watching this, even during the action scenes, making the movie very "meh" in nature, in my opinion, anyway.  If all you're looking for is some action, you might like it, but if you're looking for anything more than that, you'll probably be disappointed the same as I was.  5/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 25, 2015, 01:20:36 PM
Vexille
(2007 movie)

This movie was actually the imputes for me to go back and rewatch Appleseed to see if it still held up or not.  Why?  Well, aside from the cover of the DVD bragging about it being from the same people who brought us Appleseed Ex Machina, it also reminded me a lot of that movie, and not just because it was made using CGI with animation cell textures.  These movies mostly consist of long, drawn out action scenes that actually manage to be boring, joined together with filler scenes consisting mostly of exposition and attempts at making the audience care about the many characters filling them.  I had thought that the 2004 Appleseed movie had done a better job at combining action with plot, but since I reviewed that movie before this one, you should already know if my memory held up over the three years or so since I'd last watched Appleseed (spoiler: it didn't).

As I did a little research on this movie before reviewing it (reading the Wiki article = "research"), I noted that this movie had actually been somewhat poorly received by the action junkies that normally watch this kind of movie, but about the only point of agreement as to why this movie kind of sucked was that the action scenes were kind of boring.  At the risk of being a bit repetitive on that point, there aren't many movies that managed to make me bored during its action scenes, but this movie is one of them.  Mostly I think that's because the scenes tended to go on for so long and lacked focus in its effort to cram so much going on with so many characters.  The many clichés didn't help, either, although they did make for some laughs on occasion.

I'd also say that it's entirely fair to call this movie derivative.  Apparently others have made comparisons to Resident Evil, although I'm not sure if they're referring to the games, the CGI movie, or the ones with Milla Jovovich's nipples.  Having only seen the movies, I can say that I can kind of see some resemblance to the movies that prove women don't need large breasts to be hot, but only in the sense that there's an evil corporation and a female lead with short hair.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Vexille01.jpg)
At least I'm not the only one that appreciates short hair on women.

Really, though, I think I'd compare Vexille to the 2004 Appleseed movie.  Aside from there aforementioned short-haired female protagonist, said protagonist is part of an elite paramilitary group, in this case a US Navy group called Sword, and is made out to be an especially skilled warrior.  She has a relationship with the stereotypical strong silent dude who is apparently keeping secrets from her, though in this case it involves another woman, so there is that.  She's also sent on a special mission that involves the potential extinction of humanity, is essentially hung out to dry, but manages to save the day and her boyfriend in the end.  Yeah, that's kind of superficial, but then so is the Resident Evil comparison. 

The other point of criticism mentioned on Wiki was the soundtrack, and I'd almost say that I agree, but really I don't because rather than just “missing a few notes,” I can't say I cared for any of the rock/dance club music in this movie, because it always distracted from what was going on in the movie.  It's like whoever made the soundtrack choices for these movies completely lacks the ability to match up music to what's going on in a way that will add to it rather than shoulder its way in and demand attention all on its own – like they were more concerned about selling an album than giving the movie a soundtrack.  An especially jarring example was the use of Dead Can Dance's "The Host Of Seraphim," though to be fair this is partially because I'd already seen the movie The Mist some time ago with my friends, and that movie features the same song very prominently, and more importantly in a way that actually adds to what's happening on screen.  Of course that song has also become something of a running gag with my friends and I, usually being played whenever a heavy fog rolls through the area.  As you might guess, when it was used in Vexille, we all busted out laughing.  This wasn't helped by the fact that the scene it was used for was itself very out of place from the rest of the movie's narrative, essentially being a cheap attempt at making the audience feel bad about the death of a character that was never really important or developed anyway.  The scene that followed went right back to the action "plot" and made for some nice mood whiplash.

As for what is laughingly referred to as the "plot" in this movie, there really isn't much to talk about, and it’s mostly pushed forward by unnatural exposition, which starts before anything even appears on screen.  The opening narrative and set-up actually sound like wank material to the types who want Japan to be the world's greatest economy and completely isolationist at the same time.  They even come up with some kind of technobabble bullshit that would make Berman and Braga proud to make that possible in the modern and near future world with things like satellites.  Of course the fancy shield cutting Japan off from the rest of the world is said to be so sensitive it will be set off by even micro-probes.  Kind of makes me wonder how it doesn't get set off by birds or fish, or even just by the movement of water in the oceans, for that matter, or how everything under the shield is completely blurred from the outside, but allows the sun and clouds to be seen from the inside.  Wouldn't rain set it off, too?  Eh, whatever.  Really the shield is just a plot device that keeps our main character, Vexille, isolated from the outside and completely dependant on the group of rebels she finds in what's left of Tokyo.  As it turns out, cutting Japan off from the outside world was all part of some evil secret plan to turn the entire country into a petri dish for turning humans into androids using bullshit.  I had to shake my head at the explanation of "bio-metal," but then I had to remember that in the movie's opening they showed people falling out of a helicopter hundreds of feet up in the air without any means of slowing their decent without death or injury, and a plane plowing its wing through an old brick and masonry mansion without, you know, losing it.  I'd wondered why they hadn't used another artificial material that might sound more plausible, but really it's because of these things:

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Vexille02.jpg)
I'm not even going to dignify this with the usual Dune reference...

They kind of resemble the weird tornado from Mission to Mars, but they're made of random metal junk, and are apparently what happens when the bullshit bio-metal virus "goes wrong."  Don't put too much thought into that, because the writers obviously didn't.  It's also never explicitly stated (that I can recall), but it is hinted at that they are the reason why all of Japan looks like North Dakota without any plant life.  I have no idea how there are any of the Japanese android people left since apparently even Tokyo has been leveled, or where the massive ceramic wall came from and why the metal worms can't borrow underneath it, or why the metal worms can't swim, other than because the plot demands it.  Oh, yeah, the metal worms are important to the climax and dénouement of the movie, you know, so the bad guys get theirs in the end.  This is after the predictable misdirection that makes it look like the good guys have failed in their mission to fly down the exhaust ports to the central core of Daiwa Heavy Industries, because apparently the metal worms can't jump when the plot demands that they can't.

And all of this over the UN banning the development of androids, because that's what the intro explained was the reason Japan isolated itself over, because Daiwa had the Japanese government in its pocket, and corporations are evil, don'cha know.  The big evil secret plan involved turning the entire human race into androids that bleed motor oil and are complete slaves to the corporations (corporations are evil).  The big bad even spouts the usual shit about evolution, apparently forgetting that evolution is the process through which a species perpetuates itself, which can't happen when there's no reproduction.  Whoops.  The main question here that keeps coming up is "why?"  Why would this man suddenly decide all of humanity would be better of as androids?  Why would his company and the Japanese government go along with his insane plan that involved turning all Japanese people into androids against their will, and ultimately lead to the destruction of Japan as a country and a land mass.  Why?  Well, because...  Because...

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/Vexille03.jpg)
Muhahahahahahahahahaha!   That's why.

What, you were expecting more?  You’re watching the wrong movie, pal.

Honestly his rant just had so many logical flaws and holes that I was pretty much just left staring blankly at the screen.  For instance, his argument that being an android is so much better than being human is somewhat negated by the fact being made out of metal apparently isn't enough to make a human-turned android immune to bullets, while he, hypocritically still human, somehow manages to live through being strangled by an android, shot in a helicopter with a high caliber machine gun, and crashing said helicopter.  No, really, he lived through all of that so he could get eaten by a giant metal worm, because poetic justice.

Of course there are a few other loose plot threads, like how everything was being set up for an I, Robot style robot revolution at the beginning of the movie, and like how an American politician was somehow replaced by an evil android double in order to start positioning the US into becoming the next place to be turned into a giant android-growing petri dish, but when the movie limped into its finish I really didn't care all that much anymore.  I guess they could have been sequel baiting, but considering that I, Robot was a better movie than this one, I really hope there's no Vexille Ex Machina.

So as you might guess, my overall conclusion is that this movie kinda sucks, just not as much as other movies out there.  It has some added bonus in that it's pretty riff-able, but that's about the only reason I might recommend watching this movie.  Well, that and if you just like mindless action and don't care about plot in the least.  As for me, the lengthy, boring, physics-defying action strung together by pointless filler and exposition, combined with the lack of any character development make this movie rank pretty low on my nebulous scale of good.  YMMV.  4/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 26, 2015, 04:03:01 PM
Appleseed
(Single episode OVA)

I originally watched this 1988 OVA not terribly long after I first started on this odd mission of mine to basically watch any anime that seemed remotely interesting after reading about it on TV Tropes and Wikipedia.  That was about 2009 or so, and I've become a lot more seasoned, not only with anime but toward story-telling in general.  That being said, I didn't remember much from this OVA aside from being rather bored while watching it originally, so I decided to give it another chance and re-watch it.  Looking at this OVA with fresher eyes, I can't really say as my original opinion was all that far off – it is rather boring, but this is mostly owing to how the story was told.

The major problem this OVA has is that it focuses its attention on the wrong things.  To be fair, there was an interesting premise here, it's just that pretty much every bit of story that sounded like it might be interesting to see was instead told to the audience through exposition that seemed to be aimed at rushing the story along, which is pointless considering that the plot moved along at a snail's pace.  The story itself follows both the familiar protagonists of Dunan and Briareos, and the main antagonists, a human police officer named Calon Mautholos and a cyborg terrorist named A.J. Sebastian.  The thing is, none of these characters or any of the supporting characters are established very well, not only as to their backgrounds and what they're doing, but why they're doing it, especially in the case of the antagonists, because it's later revealed that the two of them don't even know each others' names.  Motivation is lacking in general when it comes to the story, which goes hand in hand with giant leaps in logic that happen so the story can move along.  I'll get into that more a bit later.

There actually is a serviceable plot here, it's just that, like everything else about this OVA, it's executed poorly.  Basically, the set-up is the same, with many humans feeling powerless and resentful toward their situation in Olympus, the supposed "utopia" and last chance humanity has for survival following a non-nuclear WWIII that was somehow still so devastating that humanity actually was at risk of extinction.  The thing is, Olympus is controlled by a computer named Gaia, and administered by unelected "biodroids", artificial humans designed specifically for whatever role they end up serving, only supposedly without any negative emotions.  I say supposedly, because when shit starts to go down, the biodroids in control of the city sure do act rather angry, and frankly Athena, the city's highest authority, acts every bit the dictator she's accused of being.  Unsurprisingly, a lot of humans, most of whom have been "rescued" from the outside world and rehabilitated to live in civilization again, are resentful of their artificial leaders and the artificial environment they've been placed in, and react by either lashing out or offing themselves.  The main antagonist, Sebastian, is one of the former, attacking Olympus as a terrorist, and ultimately seeking to destroy Gaia, the city's computer, in an effort to allow humans to regain control of their surroundings.  Then there's Calon, a police officer who is a member of ESWAT, and Sebastian's inside man.  Seems Calon's wife killed herself because she saw Olympus as a cage with no way out.  Following this, a depressed Calon was dragged into a lab by Olympus officials (and probably biodroids, though never stated), strapped to a chair, and mind-raped by a computer in an effort to discover why this woman killed herself.  So it's pretty easy to see why he'd have it in for Olympus and biodroids.  So both he and Sebastian are working together to disable Gaia so they can take control of a giant beetle-looking tank and blast the hell out of the physical computer to destroy it for good.

As you might have guessed, I actually kind of side with the terrorists on this one, and it became harder and harder not to thanks to how Athena and her ilk were presented, and in how they treated Dunan and Briareos when they were trying to stop the evil secret plan from coming to fruition to begin with.  This is helped even further by one of the positive aspects of this show, because while the characters and their motivations aren't established very well, they are presented as being more than one-dimensional, and Calon in particular is shown in a sympathetic light.  For instance, when part of the plan calls on Calon to kill Dunan and Briareos, he can't bring himself to do so.  Sebastian, on the other hand, is pretty much just a cold, pragmatic asshole, who thinks nothing of killing his fellow humans if there's even a small chance they could interfere with his plan, and thinks nothing of causing any collateral damage even if his stated aim is to enable humanity to stand up on its own again, which is kind of hard to do when he keeps knocking down buildings full of them.

Unfortunately, the slow pace and almost casual way the story handles the plot has a way of bringing down the show overall.  It almost comes off as a standard '80s police procedural, complete with a montage of Dunan and her robot boyfriend hitting the streets in plain clothes and violating the rights of a bunch of people in an effort to hunt down Sebastian.  The darker aspect of that which seems a little glossed over here is that it's so they can essentially gun this guy down on sight without the benefit of a trial on the orders of their city's leader.  Of course the way it's played, this story could be taking place in modern day New York City, at least if it wasn't for Briareos looking like a giant mechanical rabbit.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/AppleseedOVA01.jpg)
"Annnhh...  What's up, doc?"

Eventually, Dunan and Briareos discover that a fellow cop is involved in this terrorist business, which they are able to very quickly put together involves Hitomi, the biodroid who has pulled many humans in from the outside world, including our protagonists, and is apparently considered a friend of many of them (she also apparently likes to get drunk and have casual sex with some of them).  I'm not sure how they do that with the information they have exactly, or how they predict that they are going to need to weather a gas attack, but the story demands it, so they do.  Apparently Hitomi has some kind of special DNA or something that makes her a kind of special "key" which will disable Gaia, just by walking into one of three computer terminals located around the city.  So Calon kidnaps Hitomi while Sebastian sets out to hijack the giant beetle tank thing.  Dunan and Briareos try to stop Calon, but he's running around in a mech suit, so he isn't exactly easy to stop.  They do almost manage to do so, but thanks to Athena being a complete bitch, they're arrested by other ESWAT officers who are also running around in mech suits.

It seems that, for reasons that are never really explained, Athena seems to think that Dunan and Briareos are working with Sebastian.  She tries to make the case that he got away at the beginning of the show while in their custody, except that he didn't, he got away by killing some random cop whose custody he was in.  There was also the part where Dunan blew the head off of the mech that Calon was operating in an attempt to stop him from running off with Hitomi only to be stopped by ESWAT.  Athena then tries to make something out of Briareos having some humanity in spite of looking like a robot by preventing ESWAT from simply pulling a spray and pray on Calon while he was holding an unconscious Hitomi.  Of course Athena is a bitch, so she sees Hitomi as a replicable piece of hardware, which is pretty good considering that Athena is a biodroid herself.  Dunan and Briareos are able to make the case that they had a lead on who the police mole is, however, only the informant that had clued Briareos into this was very much dead at that point.  But rather than slap the cuffs on our heroes again, they are still allowed to rejoin ESWAT actively and participate in the attempt to keep Gaia from getting shut down.

This is where even more stupidity makes itself known, because rather than say, cutting the wires at all three terminals, making it impossible for them to be used, and setting up observation at all three of them in case Calon shows up, they blow up two of the terminals and set up a huge police blockade at the one remaining terminal, which Calon manages to crash through.  It does end up costing him his life, but in the end Hitomi is pushed into the terminal and Gaia is shut down anyway.  This releases the giant beetle tank, and Sebastian makes a real nuisance of himself.  Apparently the only way to stop this and restore Gaia's control is to shoot some circuit which just happens to be shaped like a bull's-eye target.  So while Dunan was actually doing this, I couldn't help but think about how absurd it was that she had to hit the thing exactly in the center, because computers and bullets generally don’t get along very well, or as Marko Ramius put it, "mosht of the thingsh in here don't react well to bulletsh."

Hey, that'd be cool – anime Marko Ramius.

Anyway, Dunan manages to succeed at the last second, as the cliché demands, which makes Sebastian's day end very badly for him.  Afterwards, Athena waves at Dunan as she passes her on the street, so apparently this means she isn't a bitch anymore, or something.

Overall, this OVA really didn't have a lot going on for it.  It was rather drawn out and boring for most of its 70 minute run time.  It wasn't hugely bad, though, either.  If anything, I'd say that this version of Appleseed is fairly average and representative of anime from the '80s, at least of anime that didn't completely suck, anyway.  I'm not just referring to the dated music, either, because it has a lot of the cool things I actually like about anime from this era, mainly in the amount of detail they were able to work in, and the mindless violence that reminds me of watching something Paul Verhoeven made.  Even the visual design has a certain kind of charm to it.  There were also plenty of the things I like to make fun of about anime from this era, like all the misspelled English words (Olumpus, alart, etc.), the English dub itself (which apparently based its pronunciations on the Engrishy Japanese dub), and yes, even some of the clichés being played straight. 

That being said, I wouldn't recommend this OVA to someone who is new to anime, but I might to someone who likes older anime for the reasons I listed above.  5/10.
Title: Re: Teh CX Animu Review Thread (Contains some spoilers)
Post by: CX on September 28, 2015, 10:32:23 AM
Appleseed Ex Machina
(2007 movie)

You know, this movie is something of a rarity for me.  Usually, when I rewatch something, it seems like I don't like it as much as when I first watched it, but in the case of this movie, the opposite is true.  I'm not saying this movie is especially awesome or even partially good or anything, but I'm glad that I gave it another chance now that I've actually bothered to watch the whole thing.  See, the thing is, when I first watched this movie, I was completely turned off by the opening action scene, which basically consisted of our main characters, Deunan Knute and Briareos Hecatonchires, doing some kind of a weird dance as they unnecessarily twirled around each other as they gunned down the bad guys conveniently arranged in a circle around them with automatic gun fire.  This after Deunan pulled off a bunch of physics-defying acrobatic feats that Batman only wishes he could pull off while she infiltrated a giant cathedral.  At the time, I was frankly bored by this, so I just rolled my eyes and turned it off.  Now, with quite a bit of anime under my belt, I basically just laughed at this scene and made fun of it, punctuated by John Woo's name appearing on screen followed by a flurry of white doves, and just so many other things one associates with John Woo's direction style.  So really, enjoyment of this movie depends entirely on the mindset you happen to be in, because really it's just a lot of action schlock.

A few things about this movie I have to get out of the way, though, is that this is, overall, a better movie than the movie it claims to be a sequel to.  It has better pacing, a plot that is fairly straight-forward and makes some amount of sense, even if it is derivative, actually manages to have a little character development, and the CGI looks a lot better.  Of course it balances this out with heavy doses of cliché, having characters make decisions and take actions that don't really make sense, having a story like something out of a video game, ripping off the Borg from the Star Trek franchise, and living up to the "Ex Machina" part of its title in order to have the good guys win in the end.   

One of the other things about this movie is that it isn't really so much a sequel as a reboot.  Sure, it tries to say it's a sequel, but not only does everything look completely different, but it feels different, too.  What I mean by that is that in the first movie, Olympus represented the only bastion of civilization for humanity, which is why the big evil secret plot revolved around the release of some kind of virus from the "D-Tank" located in one of the donut buildings.  As silly as the plot and its reasoning was, it was still plausible as a threat to all of humanity if pretty much all of humanity was located within Olympus.  However, in this movie, Olympus is basically the United States, and we learn that there are other city-states around the world, such as the European Union and the fictitious Poseidon, which seems to be based in Asia thanks to the stereotypical Chinese dress the leader or representative from Poseidon wears in all of her scenes.  This change kind of makes the plot of the first movie even sillier, and since nothing in this movie is dependant on anything from the first movie, it makes more sense to view this movie as being another adaptation of the original manga rather than a sequel to the 2004 movie.

Something else I have to make note of is the fan service, not only in this movie, but in the 2004 movie, the 1988 OVA, and by extension of its producers, Vexille, is the very tame nature of it.  It's kind of an oddity for anime, at least in my experience, which makes it both a good thing and a bad thing at the same time, in some ways.  On the good side, it's nice to see some restraint from the completely ridiculous levels of jiggling woman flesh on display one might see in a lot of other anime.  Of course that's not to say that there's no fan service, as this movie in particular has a love affair with Deunan's ass.

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/AppleseedEM04.jpg)
Every shot of which managed to stop me mid-sentence from my riffing, because, damn...

And you know, between this and how Hitomi kept going on about how beautiful Deunan was in the first movie, I actually could have went for seeing the absolutely gorgeous short-haired blonde in all her naked glory, but then I'm a perv, so I can hardly fault the filmmakers for showing a little restraint.  Of course, they also tried to balance it out a little by showing off Briareos's and Tereus's (his bioroid clone) asses in skin-tight plants far too often for my tastes.  This also only briefly distracted me from noticing that Deunan is apparently the only female officer in ESWAT, which makes ESWAT a total sausage festivaaallll.....

(http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q203/captainexcabier/funny/Anime/AppleseedEM02.jpg)

What was I saying?  I kind of lost my train of thought there, so I guess I'll finally get around to the story and explaining just who the hell Tereus is.

Okay, so the opening scene I mentioned happened, and the set-up is basically that a bunch of cyborgs have kidnapped some EU officials, apparently to keep them from going to some important meeting, and is holding them hostage.  Deunan rushes in and does her thing, followed by her robot boyfriend, Briareos.  They gun everyone down and save a very Harrison Ford -looking hostage along with a few others.  Unfortunately for them, one of the cyborgs took a cue from Predator and sets off a bomb as Briareos tried to interrogate him.  He shields Deunan from the blast, but is messed up pretty badly himself, so we get that clichéd attempt at dramatically calling out the name of someone who's been hurt or killed.  Surprisingly, this doesn't work so well with a name like Briareos.  However, the point of this is basically to split up Briareos and Deunan as police partners so that Tereus, the son of Ares and clone of Briareos, can become her partner, and to set up Briareos to get screwed by the antagonist later on.

The big bad, sort of, is basically a grey-haired doctor that made me think of the doctor from Team Fortress 2 every time I saw him.   Doctor Richard Kestner is apparently pretty popular with cyborgs, which kind of sets him up to be behind the big secret evil plan, though really he ends up just offing himself and the big bad is revealed to be a computerized collective consciousness, and all because Doctor Kestner is upset about his wife dying in an accident, and because Poseidon shut their company, Halcon, down because of it.  Oh, and as an aside, I couldn't help but think of Calgon from the MST3K'd Space Mutiny.  Incidentally, Halcon is a real company, which manufactures firearms.  Anyway, as you