The Secret World of Arrietty

Arriety01 It’s that time again! The one day a year where I see the error of my ways and look at the value of how small and compact things are exceptional instead of focusing on the need for them to be large and enormous. This year I’m looking at a particularly interesting movie which was made by the legendary studio known for creating breathtaking films, Studio Ghibli. Is it as good as some of the other gems in the studios’ library?

Sho is young boy with a heart condition who is sent to live with his great aunt Sadako in the house where his mother grew up. While he’s there he hears legends of tiny human creatures called borrowers who come to borrow things from humans to use in their own lives. One of these creatures is named Arrierty, a young girl who is curious about Sho but doesn’t know if she can trust him either. She will have to find a way to work with him if she has any hope of her world not being discovered by others.

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Overall this is a good film.The art is top notch and the story is more down played in comparison to other Studio Ghibili movies. This helps to give the film a sense of distinction but at the same time it also gives it a bit of a disadvantage. When going to see a Studio Ghibili movie people are more interested in the ever expanding worlds full of adventure and wonder. Though the whole, smaller scale making the regular human world look vast is fascinating and presented well, its not as wonderous as the worlds of Princess Mononoke or Spirted Away.

The interactions between Sho and Arrietty are very fascinating to watch. They have a great bit of bonding between the two of them and a true friendship is displayed. Unfortunately, they have the classic “From two separate worlds” story line  which doesn’t get settled in a way which allows them to continue to see each other in the end. Its a bit sad but not entirely tragic either.

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I don’t know how accurate this is to other adaptations of the Borrowers as I haven’t really seen any or read the original novel. The closest I have come is watching the cartoon version of The Little’s back in grade school but that’s another series all together. Still, as a movie on its own I believe this is a more faithful and fun adaptation than the Tales of Earthsea was.

The Secret World of Arrietty was good but unfortunately not many people saw it. It was another box office flop and which eventually helped contributed to Studio Ghibili now being in its current state. On standby and not really releasing anything major until founder Hayao Miyazaki decides he wants to do another film.

RATING: B+

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Geneshaft

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What happens when a show focuses more on character designs and its heavy handed message over the fact that they have a giant robot they can pilot? You get a show like Geneshaft which presents a future with giant robots that I don’t want to be a part of. It should be obvious that if a fan of mecha writes that and the series doesn’t involve aliens bugs crushing humanity then the show probably isn’t going to be good.

The world has become ruled by genetic engineering and woman outnumber men. Mika is a young woman with a white gene type and thought to be inferior by others. In order to fight a mysterious alien race known as The Rings, a ship called the Bilkis has been tasked to investigate them. Mika becomes a member of the crew but has to deal with the fact her captain’s actions resulted in the death of her friend.

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The first main problem with this series is it bites off far more than it can handle. The series deals with topics such as selective gene manipulation and what type of society these actions create. This could have been the focus in a series by itself but then issues such as people devolving into beings with less emotion who don’t feel attachment because they can easily be cloned back to life is also thrown in. These subjects are dealt with in a 13 episode series where there is a giant robot and an enemy alien race trying to destroy Earth. This is far too much to handle in such a short amount of time.

Another major problem is the show has no “outside man.” There is no character to look at what is going on with this advance society and say how mixed up it has become. There is an episode where characters from the past are transported to this future, make the claim of how strange the society has become, and then disappear by the end of the show like it never even happened. Again, this could be the plot of the whole series but they use it in only one episode and don’t address it the rest of the show.

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Now the flaws of this series could be redeemed if it had superior designed robots and outstanding mecha battle scenes. Sadly it doesn’t. The Shaft (a perfect description of the overall design of it) is a bare bones robot with one large cannon in its chest and that’s about it. The robot is plain metallic grey color (the photo is from a later episode when the Shaft is reacting to one of The Rings, which is why is gold) and looks like it is a wire frame bare bones model design no one took the time to go back and fix after they wrote the original idea down on paper. That’s what this feels like, a half finished product that no one took the time to correct and polish to make it any better or worse then the finished product.

This show really didn’t need a giant robot. It should have just had a crew of people going out into space with someone who was cryogentically frozen to awaken from the past to look at the bland and calculated way of life society has become and express the importance of feelings such as love and compassion. Because if the characters can’t get caught up on attachment and are working to repress emotion, why should the audience be expected to attach any feelings of their own?

RATING: D+

Valvrave the Liberator: Season 2

Valvrave-Season-2-00Time to return to the review the second half of a series where the Main Character dies at the end of the first episode. Yes, it’s time to take a look at the second season of Valvrave the Liberator. Will it keep up the death toll of the previous season? Spoiler alert: Yes! A lot of people die.

Now that Module 77 has reached the moon and become their own nation it’s time to travel to the Earth and face the Magius. As Haruto struggles to keep in the fight he discovers the dark secretes surrounding the Valvraves. From the Valvraves being powered by Runes (which come from human memories) and the Magius’ have existed since the dawn of Time, Haruto has a lot to deal with.

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The intensity from the first season doesn’t let up in this second season. It’s almost better to watch if you weren’t watching as the broadcast came out and didn’t have to wait the fourth months between the two seasons. The first episode even picks with the battle that was the cliffhanger of the previous season. The series screams to be the kind show that you binge watch some friends on a long weekend.

Only problem with binging this series is it has too much drama to watch at once. The group that goes down to the earth don’t all come back and some come back in body bags. With every little victory the Valvrave pilots experience seem to result in twice as many set backs. The Magius are a ruthless organization that want the Valvraves and will stop at nothing to get them back.

valvraveNew mecha are also introduced in the series. The strike brace is an attachment weapon that helps to cool down the robots and has both defensive and offensive capabilities. It’s a pretty cool piece of hardware. The enemies also get new suits known as Kirschbuum which are meant to be Anti-Valvrave type suit and are incredible destruive. These robot additions help to keep the combat scenes strong but often detracts from the characterization of the show.

Given the epic grand scale effects of where the series ends, it might have been better to show more development in how things turned out. Once again much like Code Geass and Gundam Seed, Sunrise Studios tries to tie up the entire show in the credits of the final episode. You can’t keep doing this to us guys. Fans need proper endings and they won’t get it if you wait until the last minutes to properly draw everything to a close.

The series ends good but kinda depressing. There is a lot of death and destruction and not necessarily in a good way. There is the possibility of sequel but it definitely won’t contain certain members of the cast which really helped make this show worth watching. Overall, not the worst attempt by Sunrise to make other robots other than Gundams.

RATING: B

Poll: The next theme month

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With my first theme month completed I need to figure out which theme month I should get ready for next. I’m going my Crew figure out which one should I prepare for deployment.

  • Monkey Madness: A month of giant monkey movies
  • Goofy Gamera: A month of all the more comical Showa Era Gamera films
  • Bigger than Big: A month looking at all the different versions of Gigantor (Tetsujin 28)
  • Transformers: A month of Tranformers series to help get through the extended list of different Transformer series

Cast your votes below crew and help me figure out what you want me to review for this blog.

Escaflowne: Girl in Gaia

2vttu8g Retelling month coming to an end as I review a movie that re-introduces a story with a much different look then before. New art, modified character designs, but the same story about a girl named Hitomi who gets teleported to the world of Gaia. This is Escaflowne: Girl in Gaia.

Hitomi is a girl with depression who wishes she could disappear. She gets her wish and transported to the world of Gaia where she meets the warrior prince, Van. Together the two of them must use the “Dragon Armor” called Escaflowne to retake the world. There is a prophecy though which talks of a “winged goddess” who will bring destruction to the world. Is this about Hitomi and will she destroy the world?

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The change in art is the most noticeable change from the show to the movie. The characters look much darker and harsher in their tone and the landscape and scenery shots are a wonder to behold. The movie does lacks the fun and lighter moments which were in the series as it seems to follow the art and keep a much harsher tone throughout the entire film. This change is what divides the fans of the series. Some like it and some hated it but for the most part everyone is happy the characters no longer have the pointed noses they did back in the original series.

The characters also have a change from what they were in the series. Van becomes a much tougher warrior from what he was in the TV series and gets the addition of having psychic powers. The first five minutes of the movie show him boarding an enemy vessel and slaughtering the crew. Hitomi gets a change too. She is much less love struck than she was in the show. The character may have changed but they are still very intriguing to watch.

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The mecha overall remain the same but there isn’t as many of them as their were in the show. Instead of everyone and their mother having a robot, they are much less common an occurrence. When the enemy Guymelef (the mecha for the series) makes its appearance it is a big deal and a lot of people are killed because of it. This change is a odd choice but the fight between the enemy and Escalowne is an intense battle that is one of the best parts of the film.

Overall, the Girl in Gaia manages to tell the story of a girl being taken to another world and meeting a prince with a Giant Robot in far less than half the time and half the mythology. Despite this lack of ability to cover all the points from the original, the movie is very good and it a great treats for fans of the series. There you have it, the end of the first themed month for this blog. Next up, time to take a step back to a first in a franchise.

RATING: B+

Eureka Seven: Pocketful of Rainbows

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The two previous entries in this theme month managed to condense the story of the original series in a fun and entertaining way. Today’s movie doesn’t succeed in that regard and instead results in something which takes a turn from the original in ways which don’t pan out for the better.

Renton is looking for his childhood Love Eureka, who was taken from him when he was very young. After enrolling in the military and through the use of his robot, Nirvash, Renton is able to reunite with Eureka. What Renton is unaware of is that forces close to him plan to use her for their own purposes.

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The major change with the movie which brings won the film  as a whole is the new take on the crew of the Gekkostate. No longer just rebels trying to expose the military’s dark secretes, they are now former military experiments who are tying to find a way back to a paradise they saw called Neverland. The entire plot of the movie is them using Eureka to find a way to get back there because if they don’t there is a good chance they won’t live much longer. To obtain this lost Eden they are willing to do anything including assaulting Eureka. Yes, there is a scene where Hap and Stoner, fun loving characters in the original series decide to assault Eureka to confirm is she is the maiden who can help them return to Neverland. its a bit disturbing to say the lease and the film doesn’t’ really recover form it at all. Especially since the scene ends with Renton getting show in the stomach.

The ending is also a bit less than chipper as well. Eureka and Renton end up together but not in nearly as happy as they were in the series. This is the main problem with the whole movie. Instead of a good feeling of satisfaction which came after watching the original series, the movie feels awkward and uncomfortable. Not the best follow up to one of the best Mecha animes ever.

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This movie does have a new form for for the robot Nirvash (pictured above). Its a new evolved form which looks a bit like Tekkaman Blade from the anime series of the same name. As a fan of that show I think it looks impressive but isn’t in the movie long enough to save it from the crippling alterations they made. You are better off just taking the time to watch the original series.

There you have it, a retelling that didn’t work out for the better. Not every film is able to have the same joy and feelings epicness as the series they were based on. Next time, a retelling that takes a much different approach by reinventing the entire look of the show. For the better in many people’s opinion. See you then crew.

RATING: C-

Macross: Do you remember love?

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Time to return to the wonderful world of Macross. I’m looking forward to the new series, Macross Delta but it will  have to wait until later this year. For now we find ourselves still in “retelling” month and looking at a movie which retells the original Macross series and asks the important question, “Do you remember love?”

Out in the solar system, the spaceship, the Macross is out exploring when it is attacked by Zentrati forces. Helping to fight against them is Hikaru Ichijou, a pilot who finds himself falling in love with the young idol named Lynn Minmei. Things get turn upside down when Hikaru and his commanding officer Misa Hayate get thrown from the ship. As they struggle to survive the two grow closer and may have found the way to defeat the Zentradi by harnessing the power of love.

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This retelling is a masterpiece that adds a great deal to the original show it was based on and does so while looking so good in the process. The visuals in this movie are incredibly detailed to the point each missile with its vapor trail is lovingly hand drawn (rumor has it if you pause at the right moment you can see they drew one missile as a Budweiser can) and the landscapes are detailed in a way which conveys distress and hopelessness at just the right moments. Its truly a sight to behold.

The characters also have a bit of an alteration from the TV show. Minmei isn’t as annoying as she was in the show and you can feel the struggle with the result of the love triangle between her, Hikaru , and Misa. Also, they managed to squeeze in some time for Mira and Max’s relationship but sadly one character doesn’t have any change and once again Roy Fokker still meets with a very traumatic fate. Why can’t he just stay alive in one version and retire to private sector with Vanessa on his arm?

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The movie does have a few plot holes which are never properly addressed.  This has led to questions like “Did Mira shrink or did Max enlarge?” and “Why does an ancient alien song sound like 80s pop?” Still these little nitpicks don’t distract from the overall enjoyment of the movie and has some really memorable moments which mecha fans have been treasuring for years. The film is a quality piece of animation for not only fans of giant robots but fans of anime in general. Now if we could just get a physical media release of it in America. Are we asking too much for that to happen?

Two entries down and two to go on the first themed month. So far the entries have been successful in retelling the series properly. Next week though we find one that doesn’t succeed in properly recreating the feel of the show at all. Look forward to it crew.*

RATING: A-

*I’m thinking of addressing my readers as crew. Thoughts? Love it? Hate it? Comment and let me know.