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.

Rahxephon: Pluralitas Concentio

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Welcome to my first themed month. Every post in this month of January will be dedicated to the theme of “Series retelling.” These movies take the plot of the original series they were based on and retell them in a short condensed movie. The first entry in this theme month is Rahxephon.

Ayato Kamina and his young girlfriend have been separated by the Tokyo Jupiter Incident, which cuts off Tokyo from the outside world. Ayato is approached by a mysterious woman named Haruka who leads him to the giant winged robot Rahxephon. Now Ayato must use the Rahxephon to fight the Dolems send by the Mu, who caused the Tokyo Jupiter Incident and find a way to reunite with the love of his life, Mishima.

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Since the month is about retelling the story, evaluating whether its a good or bad retelling should come first. Overall, it does a pretty good job retelling the story of Rahxephon. The mysteries don’t get as much time to drag out as they did in the TV show. Still they make sure to focus the important beats of the original story and add some very interesting scenes.

Speaking of interesting scenes, the love story between Ayato and Mishima is the main focus of the movie. Though their romance was a subplot in the original series, focusing on it really helps to showcase just who important it was to the overall plot. Also, the two of them are a cute couple and their love is very entertain to watch develop. Small spoiler but the two of them make love. Personally, I find this refreshing as not all anime couples get the option of having the aspect of an adult relationship without it become some kind of ecchi fanservice comedy or straight up hentai.

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Sadly, the studio didn’t add any new mecha to the film. Would have been nice if they had added one movie exclusive robot for a new fight scene. They do make sure to include a few of the better fight scenes form the show but probably could have benefited from one just one more fight.

Overall, this is a good movie to watch. All fans who enjoyed the Rahxephon series should make it a point to watch this film. This was made at the point in time when many thought that Studio Bones doing a mecha anime was always going to be a recipe for success. Sadly, shows like Heroman and Captain Earth have made it so fans must be a little wary before diving head first into one of their shows. Still, Bones still has a pretty good track record and I become hesitatingly optimist every time I hear they are doing a giant robot series.

There we go. the first entry in the “retelling” theme month.  If you like the theme let me know and I’ll work on adding more theme months in this blog’s future.

RATING: A-

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu

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When doing a sequel what you want to are sure is that you major changes aren’t done to mess with the formula. Massive shifts in a series or movie that made it popular in the first place can be a recipe for disaster. For a giant robot show it would be insane to remove the robots for the show. Unless of course you had an incredible cast of characters that could still have hilarious adventures even without them.

Sosuke Saegara is back to protect Chidori Kaname from the dangers of the world. To this end he will detonate shoe lockers that have been tampered with and Bobby trap the school bread delivery. Chidori is going to have her hands full dealing with the hilarious chaos Sosuke causes.

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The comedy for this series is over  the top. Viewers will be laughing to the point they won’t be able to breath. Sosuke`s antics this time around seems to just as bad if not worse than in the original series. Sosuke is quick to pull a weapon on even in the most normal of circumstances. He fires a round off to rider his lunch from the food truck at school. If that isn’t funny, then nothing will. The episode at the hot springs is especially humorous complete with a parody to Gundam SEED in it.

There is something of robot introduced to this series. The robot is called Bunta-kin, a mascot costume from a amusement park that Sosuke grabs as a temporary disguise. Taking the costume home, Sosuke reinforces it with defensive abilities, and uses it in a few other episodes in the series and the results are comedy gold. The word, “Fumoffu” is all Bunta-ken can say and gives the series it’s subtitle. Also, if there is anything funnier than a teddy bear mascot holding a pump action shotgun then I have yet to find it.

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If there are any mecha fans out there who decided to pass this seris up because it didn’t have any giant robots in it should reconsider their life choices. This is a show that  people shouldn’t pass it up. Now rush out and grab this series. FUMOFFU! With this review out of the way, all I have left for Full Metal Panic is the Second Raid. Unless of course the studio would be so kind as to finally bring another series to the fans in the upcoming year. That would make 2016 something to remember for sure.

RATING: A

Gankutsuou

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Ever watched an anime and it made you want to look into the original source materiel? Today’s anime made me want to read the original novel which consequently became my favorite book of all time. The series which helped me find my favorite story is called Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

Albert and his friend, Franz are on vacation on Luna for a festival. The two soon find themselves being saved from a jam by the mysterious Count of Monte Cristo. Thankful, Albert invites the Count into his home, unaware of the sinister plot his guest has for him and his family.

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This show is a very unique adaptation of the original story. Taking place in a future complete with space travel, giant robots, and aliens yet still being a tale of betrayal and revenge. Definitely, a departure from the Victorian setting it originally displayed. It also follows a support character and makes him the protagonist in this adaptation. Albert is a naive character who is unaware of the web of lies that is spinning around him. Its interesting to watch how things play out for him as he falls for the charm of the count.

Much like Gatekeepers, this series is another of those shows where its not until later its revealed to have Mecha in it. It turns out that the armored suits in Albert’s house aren’t exactly decommissioned and are in perfect working order to use in a deal later in the series. Like old fashion knight these suits are equipped with a sword but have flight capabilities. They are impressive but needed to be introduced much sooner in the series. They are used in one of the most pivotal sciences in the series though so they make up for coming in late.

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The most noticeable thing about this anime is the art style. Even if someone doesn’t enjoy the show they will remember the art from this series. The mixture of layers and 3D animation make for a very visual and engaging experience. The compliant that it is hard to look at has been mentioned by other critics but much like the grips about the motion of the camera affecting those who saw Cloverfield, it doesn’t affect everyone that way. If it gives you a headache don’t watch it. No one has a gun to your head.

In the end, Gankutusou remains a fascinating adaptation and re-imaging of a classic novel. I’m not going to say adding a giant robot to all literature is a good idea but you never know what will happen. Look how good combining Jane and Austen and zombies turned out.

RATING: B+

Transformers Armada

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Today’s review is one of the first of the many Transformers series that were created in Japan. You would think that given the country’s history with Giant Robots and that the series was originally the product of combining several toy franchises together that they would know exactly how to tell the perfect Transformers story. Unfortunately, this is not the case at all and the series in question is a perfect example of just how poorly the Japanese Transformers series are in their storytelling and presentation.

In the long war between the Decepticons and Autobots, a new groups has been drawn into the conflict. They are called Minicons and by combining with either Decepticons or Autobots infuse them with incredible powers. Escaping the conflict by coming to Earth million of years ago, hibernating in small devices, the Minicons are awakened by a trio of humans named Rad, Carlos, and Alexis. They soon discover that reviving the Minicons has gotten the attention of both the Autobots and Decepticons  who come to earth to gather the Minicons. Wishing to help the Minicons, the trio teams up with the Autobots who are fighting to protect the universe.

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I should probably start with the good points of this series before I rain down the negative points that plague it. First off I like that this show brought back Unicron as the ultimate obstacle of the series. This time thought he is mostly silent and unable to be communicated with. Also, the series does have Alexis who I stated in my Top 10 Transformer Human Companions as one of the best human companions in the history of the franchise and her bonding relationship with Starscream really is interesting to watch.

Now, let the crap storm begin. The series takes some of the best story lines in the entire history of the Transformers Franchise and executes them so poorly that the entire show is mediocre at best. Story lines including Wheeljack becoming evil, Starscream becoming good, and the introduction of a third race of Transformers caught between the two factions are handled with little to no severity that they range from average  to incredible boring. This makes the series a chore to get through instead of the constant thrill ride that it should be using such unique and original plot threads.

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This show also has several voice acting errors. The number of times that a character calls another character a different name occurs so much that a viewer could easily make a drinking game out of it. Don’t believe me? Just pay attention to the fact that Carlos calls his Minicon partner Grindor by the name of Alexis` partner Sureshot more than once.

Also despite all my efforts to talk about something enjoyable in this series, there still is the biggest problem that makes the series so untouchable. I speak of course of FRED: The worse human companion EVER!!! Fred`s whole gimmick is that he’s the fat kid and he likes to eat. THAT`S IT! He doesn’t have a special bond with a particular Transformer, he doesn’t have a special skill that helps him to help the team, and has like one moment in an entire series where he is useful but then we have the rest of the show where he`s whiny and complaining. I hate Fred so much.

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Since this is the first Japanese Transformers I am reviewing I should probably take the time to talk about my theory with a lot of the adaptations of Western series and why they aren’t as successful as we would they they would be. Western properties such as Iron Man or Wolverine should have been incredible when they finally came to the realm of anime but they were less than essential viewing to say the least. Instead they suffered from what I like to call, Adaptation Over Protection. Basically its the idea that the the creative team is so worried about doing anything too extreme with the characters to not offend the fans that they don’t tell a proper story and the show overall feels bland and unnecessary as an entry to franchise. With Armada for example they are so afraid of telling a good story with the good drama with the characters that the show isn’t able to achieve the emotion that they were hoping for. I mean both Optimus Prime and Smokescreen die but are back so quick that we don’t feel the impact of their temporary passing. I’ll be mentioning my Adaptation Over Protection Theory in future posts on this blog.

So there it is. The first of my Japanese Transformer series reviews. Now not all the shows are this bad but there are plenty more that are actually worse then this. Armada has a lot of potential and wasted it. Wasted potential is always hard to see.

RATING: C-

Attack on Titan

 

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I’ve wondered if I need to review this series. I mean it is insanely popular and EVERYONE in the anime community knows about it already. Still, since it is a so popular I thought I should weigh in on how I feel about the series.

After a devastating war against cannibalistic giants known as Titans, humans retreated behind three large walls to keep themselves safe and to prosper. In a small village, Eren Yeagar lives with his parents and adopted sister Mikasa wishing to know what the world outside the wall is like. This peace is shattered when a Titan higher than the wall itself appears and creates a giant hole in the wall restarting the war of humanity against the Titans. Now Eren and Mikasa and their childhood friend Armin must join the army and train to fight for their survival.

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The setting of this Anime is unique. From the get go we are introduced to a world where humanity lives behind walls to hide from hyper violent monsters. This is one of those shows that has a person interested and addicted by the end of the first episode. A welcome sight considering there are so many shows that need a few episode grace period to get themselves in gear. Also, the 3D gear which allows a person to move through the air like Spider-Man really helps to make the anime stand out.

One of the main draws that the series has going for it is the pacing. Things go from “everything is fine” to “Run for your life!” at the drop a hat. The first episode alone shows us a quiet peaceful village bustling with life and people deluded in the idea they are safe behind their walls only to have this delusion shattered within a few minutes. The incredible graphic description of violence against humans and titans makes the fear and severity of the situations much more real.

Another aspect of this series that draws people to it is the main female lead. Mikasa Ackerman proves to be one of more skilled humans in the army once she finishes training. Her talent for fighting titans is found to be on parallel with Captain Levi, leader of the Survey Corps and one of the most destructive humans on the planet. On top of being a great fighter, Mikasa displays that she is the incredible loyal to her friends Armin and Eren as they are the family that she will stand by and support through the hell they endure. She attacks with the strength of lioness if you touch her pride.

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It should be noted that if you don’t enjoy violence then this is definitely not the series for you. I have someone I know who can’t stand all the gore that comes from the titan’s rampage. That is the major point that makes this Anime less than accessible for those who aren’t fans of violence. Don’t vault these fans who are unable to appreciate this series though as Anime is just a media. Not liking this show doesn’t mean they don’t like Anime in general. Its not necessary that every popular show be loved by everyone. Yes, I do feel like I need to make that distinction as the community seems to be quick to jump on others who don’t like what they like.

The intense action, engaging story, and intriguing characters will be hard to recreate by any other series in the future.  If you can’t tell, I enjoyed this series and the only true complaint I have against it is that I’m still waiting for that sequel to get here. I’ll make sure to do a review of that show when it comes out as well. Maybe I’ll even do an episode by episode review. I’ll let you know when it comes out.

Rating: A

Samurai Flamenco


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Ever watched a show which started on one path but then took a few turns and you are watching a completely different show from what you started with? Now this isn’t always a bad thing and many shows actually are memorable because of taking such a bold step. When I write my reviews, I try my best not to mention that many plot twists or surprises a show will have because for the most part I’m hoping that you will discover some of these titles for yourself. Unless the media in question is terrible and then I’ll spoil it like crazy because I’m trying to prove why you shouldn’t give it your precious time.

Today’s show though wasn’t awful but I can’t help but need to mention major details of the later story to review it properly. That’s why for this show I have created the category and hash tag “Spoiler Warning” to give a heads up that I will have to reveal elements of the plot to properly analysis the movie or show. That way I’m able to give subject the justice it deserves. Speaking is justice, that the perfect segway to start talking about this anime.

Goto is a cop with a normal assignment and a long distance relationship with his girlfriend. One day on the way home he happens upon a man who is totally naked and claims to be a superhero. This man is Masayoshi Hazama and he trying to be a hero by enforcing all the petty laws that everyone doesn’t want to follow. Before long and thanks to Goto’s help Hazama becomes a hit on social network and soon the entire world is talking about his alias, Samurai Flamenco.

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I am a big fan of Superheroes and stories about what it takes to be a hero. I can appreciate this show for wanting to break down this genre and exam it for what makes it tick but I can’t forgive it for its inconsistencies and its weird pacing.This is a series that I remember enjoying while I was watching it but doesn’t hold up to scrutiny as I go back and review. In the mist of the viewing I would have given it a much higher score then the one it will receive. If it had been a series where a man dealt with coming to terms with being hero, unable to reach these goals, and finally being able to in the end save his friend from his own demons (and at about half the length) I really think this show would have an essential anime for those who love heroes much like Tiger and Bunny.

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Since it is an anime I’m reviewing you’d expect their to be a giant robot in here as well. You are right there is eventually a giant robot and an entire power ranger team of heroes that call themselves the Flamenco Rangers who just so happened to be based under the city that Hazama was operating out of. Really comes out of left field and the Mecha is really just a parody knock off of a Sentai robot and not a good one at that.

 

The inconsistency with this show also needs to be addressed. The beginning and end of the series seem to take place in the world much like our own but the middle is something else entirely. This series started as a story of a man trying to honor the heroes of justice he loved as a kid in an everyday world, became a legitimate monsters in the real world preying on humanity, with a twist of reality warping aliens, and ends with a down to earth story of helping a friend unsuccessfully coop with his delusions. If that sounds confusing to you then don’t feel bad because that’s the feeling you’ll be left with after finishing this series. Samurai Flamenco is series that was made up as it was going into production and doesn’t hold up on review. Sorry true believers.

RATING: C-