I’m still working on getting back into making sure to give this blog the attention it properly deserves. Until then though I’m still create content elsewhere. First up, check out my appearance over at Monster Kid Radio where Derek M. Koch and I discussion, the Giant Spider Invasion. Afterward, follow these links over to Monkeys Fighting Robots and check out reviews of the recent issues of Power Rangers and Transformers. You’ll enjoy it, trust me.
MFR: Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye # 52
Another Transformers Review is up at Monkeys Fighting Robots. I do my best not to gush but I just can’t help it. I love this series so much.
Gamera the Brave
A follow up to a popular trilogy does ot always get the best reception. With a high amount of expectation a new installment to the franchise to the franchise maybe unable to measure up. No, I’m not talking about Star Wars: The Force Awakens (which is a good movie and you should go see it) but about Gamera: The Brave, the first film after the fanominal Guardian of the Universe trilogy.
After a final battle with Gyaos, Gamera is destroyed and the world experiences peace. Over 30 years later, a young boy named Toru finds a store which hates into a turtle he calls Toto Unfortunately, Toto gets very big, very fast, and soon is as big as a house. It maybe more of a blessing though as the mysterious and blood thirsty monster called Zedus is reeking havoc across the country. It’s now time for the new Gamera to rise to the occasion and save the day.
The problem most people have with this film is the shift in tone from the previous trilogy. It is much more lighthearted and playful in nature. I`ll admit the turtle is cute, makes adorable sounds, and the scenes with his developing powers is entertaining to watch. Still, after watching the previous trilogy most would Gamera fans would prefer they didn’t change the tone.
The monster combat in this film is impressive from the beginning with Gyaos ripping Gamera apart. Zedus in a threat the moment he appears and it becomes incredible apparent without Gamera humanity is doomed. Just wish Zedus had a proper origin story and didn’t die with a single fireball.
The world building is pretty good with the monster fighting organization being put out of business for lack of activity, the economy changing after a monster attack, and the aspect with the scientists powering up Gamera so he can save humanity. Just a bit too much of the kids. A little too much of the kids and not enough of the adults who may have been able to shed light on where Zedus came from.
Overall, this is not he worst entry in the Gamera franchise, it’s just not the best. Don’t let this deter you from seeing this film. It’s worth a watch. Now if you will excuse me, watching Toto has prompted me to get a turtle. That or read some Sgt. Frog manga. That series was littered through the entire movie.
The review for this week came from realizing that I had not finished watching its sequel series. There was no major reason why I gave up on Eureka Seven: AO half way through. The series didn’t annoy me or frustrate me, it was just one of those series that you never get around to finishing. Oh well, let’s focus more on the one that really is worth talking about.
Renton Thurston lives a boring life in the shadow of his father, the man who saved the world. He’d much rather be a member of Gekkostate, the counter government group that uses pop culture and Lifting to get spread their message. Renton’s life is thrown into a tailspin when a member of Gekkostate named Eureka crashes into his house in her robot, Nirvash. Together, the two will form a bond that will be tested and will throw the entire world into change. Will Renton be strong enough to weather the storm?
The intriguing thing about the series is just how deep things go. Once Renton starts his crush on Eureka, he insists on sticking with her no matter what. What he doesn’t understand is that no matter what will include taking down a government that is bend on trying to destroy the mysterious Coral that has infected the world, learning the truth behind his father’s death, and coming to grips with the fact that his girlfriend might be more than a regular human. Still, give the boy credit, he crushes hard and doesn’t give up no matter what obstacles are thrown in his face. Give that boy a metal!
Eureka Seven is what you might call a package anime. it has everything going for it. Good characters, breathtaking landscape, detailed vehicles, and incredible Giant Robots. I mean, the Robots on moving through the sky on flying surf boards, how is that not the coolest thing ever? How about the fact that he animation is spectacular and their is no shortage of characters and relationships for you to attach yourself to. Not a fan of the Renton and Eureka relationship? Then try the Dominic and Anemone one. Takes the boy a while to realize just how much he that girl means to him but in the end, he finds a way to reach her…by falling through the sky screaming her name. .
Seriously, I know this anime is a bit long but go check it out. You will not regret it. Now that I finally did the review for the first series maybe this will prompt me to go back and finally finish Eureka Seven: AO. Probably not considering I haven’t gone back in almost three years. Still, you never know. I also realize I’ve been given too many good ratings lately. Expect something of at least a C or lower next week.
P.S. Wanted to make a reference to the ever popular quote “You’re going to carry that weight” that was often used in the series but nothing came to mind. Oh well. Still a cool quote to mention thoug.
Vision of Escaflowne
Today’s series had an interesting premiere when it was shown on American television. In order to be eligible for broadcast enough content needed to be cut that several episodes were able to be merged into one, including the very first episode. If you can`t tell today’s series is the Vision of Escaflowne. I promise not to make any comments about the pointy noses.
High School girl Hitomi wants nothing more than to confess her love to her first crush and be the best track runner she can. Unfortunately for her this life is shattered when a young prince named Van appears before her. Soon she is whisked away to Gaia a fantasy world where people fight in giant robots called Guymelefs. As trouble grows, Van awakens the legendary Guymelef Escaflowne to help him as he works to fight against the evil empire of Zaibach.
Escaflowne was a series designed to appeal to both males and females. For the guys we have intense action and giant robots and for the gals we have romance and good looking men with long flowing hair. Other series try to incorporate this elements but some how forget to get the balance right usually forgetting that on top of just good action and intense romance their also needs to be some type of story to top it all off with. The story of Escaflowne though is deep, mystical, and has fans insisting even today that a sequel to the series should be made.
Id be in the wrong if I didn’t address Hitomi as a character. Yes she is a bit annoying and way too focused on the wrong guy in the series, focusing too much on Alan despite the fact that Van is the man she is obviously meant to be with. That and the fact that she actually bends fate to her will but for the totally wrong reasons result in large amounts of chaos to unfold. Other than that shes a perfectly lovely character.
Basically Escaflowne is a classic that everyone needs to see. Sadly most people cant get over the crap job done with the American broadcast and others who insist the English dub is horrendous (personally I liked it. I don’t really see what all the complaining is about). Still, I highly recommend that everyone tracks this series down and watch it. Use the original Japanese if your not a fan of the dub
Gamera: Revenge of Iris
Rounding out a trilogy is a very hit or miss task. For every Return of the Jedi or Iron Man 3 there is X-Men: The Last Stand or Batman Forever to compare it to. After the first two movies were incredible there was a lot riding on the third film in the Gamera Heisei Trilogy to be just as impressive. So how does it stack up?
In a flashback, young Ayana watches helplessly as Gamersa destroys her family’s home with her parents inside during his battle with Gyaos in Tokyo. In the present a graveyard of Gamera’s bodies are found and while he attacks two Gyaos, Gamera ends up destroying Shibuya. Seeing this and still fueled by pain and loss Ayana discovers a baby monsters that she calls Iris. Soon little Iris grows big and is absorbing the blood out of helpless victims for nourishment. Meeting in Kyoto Gamera and Iris have an epic showdown but is the recently discovered grave site a bad omen for everyone’s favorite Guardian of the Universe?
The world continues to spin in the Gamera trilogy and the effects of the previous two films catches up with our characters. Having absorbed Mana to defeat Legion has had devastating consequences causing Gyaos around the world to hatch. The world’s is now in chaos and Gamera is working his butt off trying to keep up. Helping him out we have the return of Dr. Nagamine (who is now a globe trotting Gyaos expert) and Asagi (Gamera’s former priestess and biggest fan). The two women work as a team helping to recruit allies and investigate the claims of a Gyaos mutation (Iris) in efforts to do all they can for Gamera. It’s this incredible attention to detail and world building that make me love the series so much.
A recent viewing of this film reminded me of the insane amount of detail they have done improving upon the characters from the first film. After watching this movie and rewatching a trailer for the first film, it was insane to see all the different changes that the characters went through. The damage the Gyaos go through (especially the one in Shibuya with its eye hanging out) and the more menacing and jagged look that Gamera sports in this film really help to accentuate the darkness and carnage that the film is trying to express. Still, despite his intense new look, Gamera is still trying to do all he can to stop the world from coming under Gyaos’ control. My only major problem is that I don’t get to see the epic fight scene between Gamera and the large flock of Gyaos descending on Japan. That would have been one of the coolest fight scenes ever. Still, I’ve grown comfortable with the way they cap off the story.
If you can’t tell I love this film just as much as the other two and find the entire trilogy to be some of the best giant monster action that came out of the 90s. The series gave a new sense of respect and power to a character that had been written off as a joke. Watching him especially defend the Universe from the likes of Gyaos, Legion, and Iris is a joy that I will gladly partake in at the drop of a hat. Again, if you haven’t taken the time to watch these films yet, stop depriving yourself. If you are reading this blog then I guarantee you that you will enjoy watching these three films. So ends my discussion of the Gamera Heisei trilogy. This won’t be the last of our green flying butt kicker though. I’ll eventually go back and review his past films and the one that followed this. Still, my fingers are crossed that the new film that will come out in the near future taps into the roots set forth by this trilogy.
Have you ever talked with an old school anime fan? I mean true old school anime fan, not those who look at Toonami with a sense of nostalgia but those who were fans from before the creation of cartoon network. The three titles these true old schoolers will mention is StarBlazers (Space Battleship Yamata), Voltron (Beast King Golion) and Robotech. the show Robotech is particularly notorious fore being created by typing three series together with no other connection to create s huge spanning universe. Still, its the first arc, the one based on Super Dimension Fortress Macross that people feel the most love for. The reason: Its just so damn good.
After a mysterious craft falls to earth, the governments of the world partake in the Unification War to band together with one goal in mind: To restore the ship that fell from the stars. On the day of its initial launch, Hikaru Ichjiyo, a young stunt pilot is caught into the middle of an alien invasion. Finding himself caught with in the crossfires with this armada looking to use the ship that got away for their own purposes, Hikaru has no choice but to become a soldier and fight to protect his friends and family. Along the way, he develops a complicated love triangle with upcoming idol Lynn Minmay and First Lieutenant Misa Hayase.
It’s really hard to talk about a series like Macross because it is such a milestone series and has had such lasting power in the anime community that there is no denying the hold that it possesses. The series starts strong with an alien ship crashing to earth, continues with incredible mecha fight scenes in space, and rounds itself off by focusing on the intense love triangle that the series became known for. An anime fan that has not seen Macross, is someone who needs to realize they have a lot that they still need to check out. This series is one that must not be missed.
Of course I’m not going to just gush all over this series. I’m aware its not without its faults. Thanks to the American Version of this series, the name Minmay became associated with a very character that was very annoying and unnecessary. Know that is more in the Robotech version of the show and doesn’t truly carry back into the original series. The original voice actress and the Japanese songs were fair more entertaining then the ones that were made for the american audience. If your finding it hard to believe that these songs could be that annoying, just pop over to YouTube and check them out. Trust me, they aren’t exactly something you add to a favorite playlist.
There also is the issue with the additional nine episodes. Originally the series was just supposed to be a 27 episode series. Then the audience and ratings for the show were insane so the studio tacked on an additional nine episodes which really do feel very tacked on. This is especially true considering that in the 27th episode an incredible planet wide battle took place and the most of the Earth was destroyed in the process. Kinda hard to come back after hitting a high point like that.
Despite the drag in the attached episodes, the series is still good and started a franchise that is continuing today. I look back fondly on Macross and would gladly rewatch it if I was blessed with more time in my life. For now I’ll keep remembering love and the importance of protoculture.
Godzilla vs. King Ghidora
Ever had that film that does so many things so wrong that you want to writ it off as terrible but keep giving it the benefit of still being entertaining because of a few scenes. That is Godzilla vs. King Ghidora in a nut shell. The movie falls onto its face for most of the film until the very end. the real question though is “Is sitting through the bad parts worth the greatness that comes at the end?”
A flying saucer flies through Japan that turns out to be visitors from the future. They say they wish to help get rid of Godzilla by going back to the past and stopping him from mutating into a his current fire breathing form. But there true intention is far more sinister as they hope to create a monster of even greater force: King Ghidora.
The expression “Jumping the shark” refers to when a series goes far from the original message or theme. You`d think that a film series involving mutant dinosaurs, mystical guardians awakened by song, and space cockroaches disguised as humans. that jumping the shark would be impossible. Still, thanks tot he introduction of time travel, such a feat is accomplished. And man does it make the move feel awkward. That and the humans make several turns with their operations. First they get rid of Godzilla, but need him back then need the defeated King Ghidora to defeat him. You’d think after messing things up the first time they would leave well enough alone and just let things work out. The time space continuum only needs to be messed up so much before you just wish someone would use the time machine to make it so things never got messed up in the first place.
There is also the whole aspect with the Android which really helps to hammer in the “Jumping the shark” aspect. He just feels totally out place during the movie. And before anyone tries to remind me of Katsura from Terror of Mechagodzilla as she was a cyborg, hold your horses. Katsura’s presence as a cyborg was much more underlying and not nearly as overplayed. She wasn’t running down cars in Tokyo in an obvious homage to another movie with killer android disguised as a human from the future.
Not to say this movie is not without its perks. For starters this is the first time we actually get to see Godzilla fight King Ghidora one on one without any other monsters giving him any aid. The fight is gloriously topped off by the fact that Godzilla does more damage to his winged foe then in any other movie before. The use of Mecha-King Ghidora is a very interesting spin on a classic villain and a better take than Kaiser Ghidora from Final wars. Also Yasuaki Shindo played by Yoshio Tsuchiya is one of the most memorable humans in a kaiju movie. Watching him respectfully bow to an oncoming force of destruction he once come to look upon as a savior was truly touching. Basically since those two aspects come at the end of the movie you’d be better just using the DVD to jump to the last hour to get the best part of the film. Which is the best advice I can give for this movie.
Just like when I talked about Burst Angel there are times when a show has a strong opening but then goes absolutely nowhere with its story. This is far too common and much rarer are occasions when a show has a strong first episode and episodes that follow are jut as incredible. This is the case of Code Geass, a mecha series that is incredible powerful through the its entire run.
In the conquered former country of Japan now called Area 11, the exiled prince Lelouch of the conquering army of Britannia wishes to change the world. In the middle of a war zone he meets a mysterious woman named C.C., who grants him the ability of Geass which allows him to give someone one absolute command that the victim must follow. With his new power Leloouch takes the disguise of Zero and sets forth to take down Britannia and discovers the secrets behind his mother`s death.
The world and characters of Code Geass is what really makes the show stand on its own. Lelouch is an incredibly motivated and intriguing character who does some very underhanded moves but does it in a way that keeps people watching. On the other idea of the conflict is Suzaku a Japanese man who has enrolled in the Britannia Army who was childhood friend of Lelouch, the conflict between these two former friends is one of the center themes of the show and keeps people watching episode after episode. I would also re-missed if I didn’t mention Kallen, who beings an equal measure of epic mecha piloting skill and fanservice eye candy for the male watchers. Some shows just offer a female character that gives nothing except breast jiggling but a attribute nothing to the show. Code Geass is a show that makes itself a cut amongest the rest.
The mecha of the series are very unique in there own right. Each nation of the series has a different suit and offers a unique visual style about it. The standard mecha of both sides are very distinct but the prototype and specially built models are incredibly distinct. Suzaku’s Lancelot is a fast mecha with its launchers moves from the hips like other suits moves to its Arms. Also Kallen’s Guren Mark II has a devastatingly powerful attack that totally microwave her opponents robot. Just thinking about the Guren makes me want to pull up youtube and watch it again.
Code Geass is an intense series with a lot of great action and immersive characters. Yes, its not without its faults but personally none of them truly annoy me to the point that I cant give the series such a glowing review. Why are you still reading this? You need to track down this series and watch it. If i had the Geass I’d use it to command you to go watch this anime.
There are times when a series has a great premiere and a great reception only to fade away like dust in the wind. If a series is lucky it’s just that the response wasn’t what the studio or network was hoping for and it was cancelled before truly achieving glory. If the series was at least halfway entertaining then a fandom will grow around theses series and continue to sing its praise. Unfortunately as most are aware, Anime for the most part has a planned out length and get map of the story they are hoping to tell. This means that if a series has a great opening or start to it and their isn’t’ a huge group of followers discussing it and demanding that sequels be made then there is a good chance the series was just not every good in the long run. This was my experience with Burst angel.
My first exposure with the series took place at Acen 2005. I was at my hotel room and a friend of mine had returned from the dealer room with the first disc that Funimation had just put on sale that weekend. My friend popped it in and I will admit the first few minutes of the first episode are nothing but awesome. Before we even meet any characters we watch as a giant root gets into a fight with a giant monstrosity. The battle is intense as we watch the mecha, Django, defeat the creature with a pair of rapid fire pistols. It is probably one of the best first few minutes in anime history. Sadly it’s all downhill from here.
As the series begins we are introduced to Kyohei (you can just feel free to call him chef as his job is to cook for the rest of the characters and he has little character developments.). Anyways, Chef is hired to cook for a team of Mercenary girls all who are named after characters from the book little women. Unfortunately, none of the girls are nearly as developed as their classic literature counterparts and are instead bland enough to be downgraded to their job title. Sei is the business side of the operation, Jo is the muscle and pilot of Django, Amy is the hacker, and Meg is the hostage. No seriously she gets captured during almost every story line she’s involved in. More on this in a moment. Basically, chef is the normal one finding the operations the girls undertake to be too intense, but does little but sits on the sideline and watch as things explode around him. If you think I’m underselling the series you’re sadly mistaken.
One of the problems with the show is Meg. Like I said she gets captured every story line and despite having a real cool gun, she doesn’t do anything cool with it or defeat any of the enemies. She also doesn’t grow as a character, which makes the ending that much more frustrating. The biggest and most frustrating moments is the very end of the series, (YES, I am giving you spoilers as its for your own good), as it appears that Jo is gone, Meg says she will keep up the fight with the final scene being her wearing Jo’s jacket, Jo’s pistols, and a repainted Django. There was not enough development for the character for this ending to make any sense and the character is just plain annoying.
The mecha in the series Django is a pretty impressive robot with a nice cowboy look. Sadly it after the first fight in the opening things quickly goes downhill. Basically the impressive looking robot fights against a bunch of crappy generic monster of the week mechanical animals and poorly put together robots. Also, Django has no close combat weapons, which is a major flaw I see in all giant robots as close quarters weapons is a basic mainstay with all robotic arsenals.
When I did finally get around to watching this series was incredibly disappointing, especially after I had such a fond feeling from the first episode. I can’t tell fans enough that its just for the their best interest to stay far away from this series. I need to go watch a Gundam series just to watch the taste out of my mouth from writing this review.