Monthly Archives: January 2017

Golgo 13

Type: The Man with the Constipated Face

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Synopsis: The series follows the mysterious assassin Golgo 13…who has a passport, introduces himself as Duke Togo, only kills with a sniper rifle, and is clearly identifiable with his unique broad frame and Japanese features. His only companions are gunpowder and death…and a personal gunsmith, a network of contacts, a few children here and there, and a number of one night stands. Huh, in retrospect, he’s not a very good assassin, is he?

Pros: Golgo 13 is one of the oldest franchises still going. It’s based on a manga that first published in 1968. Which you can tell by protagonist, a silent hulk of a man with big sideburns. He’s the stereotypical masculine archetype of the 60’s and 70’s. He’s non-emotional, highly skilled, quiet, and seemingly irresistible to women. However, since his not much of a talker, and has the personality of a block of wood, the anime revolves around a random assortment of characters involved with Golgo’s latest case. The whole show is a story of the week. Sometimes, Golgo doesn’t show up until the very end. And his stories can very from gritty crime stories to Golgo having to shoot a violin string. It’s a great episodic show modeled after a western drama. High tension, subtle action. In fact, except for all the sex, you could easily make this into a live action TV show here in the states.

Cons: Golgo literally could not emote if his life depended on it. I know that in the old days, men weren’t suppose to show emotion, but damn dude. The only time you ever see Golgo lose his composure is when someone tries to walk behind him, and when someone reaches into their breast pocket. But that’s it. He could be facing a hundred men, or in bed with a beautiful woman, and he’ll always have that same stony look. On that note, there quiet a few sex scenes in this. They’re not bad, and the female characters always the ones to initiate. But most of the scenes are still images of women in the throws of ecstasy as Golgo just stares blankly. But they happen often enough that they get repetitive. In fact, if a woman is the main character, there’s a good chance they’re going to sleep with Golgo. The size of the show, 50 episodes, is a positive and a negative. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but some of the episodes start to blend together. I only remember a handful myself. And because all the episodes are stand alone, you aren’t really given an incentive to watch all the episodes. And this is more of a personal nitpick, but is Golgo really that good of an assassin if he has to A) Meet his client in person, B) Only has one way to kill, and C) is so well known by the underground and authorities that they both try to kill him at one point?

Watch it?: Good to watch in a long stretch of time, but don’t marathon it. (4/5)

MVP: Golgo 13

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The textbook definition of an “ice-cold” killer.

Best Episode: Ep 4. “Pretty Woman” (a typical Golgo story)

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Science Ninja Team Gatchaman: The Movie (1978)

Type: Bird Power Rangers

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Synopsis: Gatchaman, the Science Ninja Team (no, really) are the world’s best defense against Galactor, a terrorist organization with an absolutely fabulous commander. Bonus points for groovy 70’s attire.

Pros: I caught this movie at an anime con while trying to kill some time. I’ve been aware of Gatchaman, or as I always referred to them as, those weird bird themed people. Now I know what they are: there the power rangers! Well, not really. Well, kinda really. They’re a Japanese superhero group. They’re composed of a leader, a girl, a kid, a big guy, and a rebel. They have bird themed weapons and fly in planes that combine into a bigger plane. Classic superhero group. The thing looks pretty old school, which was fun for someone who likes noticing cost cutting animation tricks. I also really loved the era appropriate clothing. Long hair, bell bottoms, numbers on t-shirts. It had pretty good action, though the Science Ninja Team sure did kill a lot of people. But hey, it was the 70s. And, I can’t lie, I loved the old school story telling and overly dramatic dialogue.

Cons: If you can’t get past the dated animation, then your obviously not going to watch this. The “film” is split into two stories: one involves Ken’s dad and the other involved Joe. If you where watching the show from the beginning, then I can imagine the two stories told being a big deal. But the don’t really connect in the movie itself. One story ends, and the other begins. It really two OVA’s edited together. And, I can’t lie, years of watching Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim make fun of this style of animation prevented me from taking the plots too seriously.

Watch it?: It’s a good way to see what this whole “Gatchaman” thing is about

MVP: Jun the Swan

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Science Ninja, Business Owner, and Guitarist. Woman of the 70’s.

Best Moment: The Doctor holding the UN hostage (all to let his Teenage heroes attempt to save the day)

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Danganronpa: The Animation

Type: Like Hunger Games, or Battle Royale, or whatever reference you prefer.

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Synopsis: It’s a survival game with high schoolers…hey! Don’t go yet. You didn’t hear that it’s also based on a visual novel….hey! Give it a chance at least. This one has a sadistic teddy bear in it!

Pros: Danganronpa is a visual novel series based around the theme of “despair.” This anime is based on the first game, “Trigger Happy Havoc,” and is a murder mystery. The set up is that 15 students are trapped in an elite high school and forced to kill each other. Its a mystery because the rules state that once a body is found, the students have to figure out who the killer is. If they fail, the killer goes free while the rest die. The last person surviving wins and is rewarded with fame and fortune. The anime follows a set formula: A murder happens, an investigation happens, and then a trial happens. One of the first things you’ll notice is the art style. The colors are vibrant and each of the characters are given unique designs, which helps make their death a bit more meaningful. The trial scenes, which are usually just the characters talking to each other, are spiced up with cool video game style animations and transitions, masterfully blending two mediums together. Ditto for the executions. And at only 13 episodes, the show moves at a very brisk and meaningful pace. Overall, the show has a unique look, an interesting cast of characters, an intriguing mystery, a sense of humor, and a cool set up. Well worth a watch.

Cons: The anime does get a but troupee. Its a survival game anime where a boy and girl form an alliance early one, the characters each betray each other for no real reason, a suicide occurs, and it all ends like you’d think it would. Even some of the mysteries and twists are cliche, though the show does call itself out on a few of these. In term of characters, a lot of the designs, while unique, also come off as overdone.Their meant to give you a quick visual summary of the character’s traits, as the show doesn’t have time to give depth to all 14 students. So some come off as one dimensional. The show is also very back heavy, meaning the the last episodes, particularly the finale, are stuffed with revelations and lore (and a weird lack of budget). My only real gripe that during the trials, when the murder has been accused, the characters tend to break down and admit it, turning into weird caricatures of themselves. Which again, was on purpose from a creative standpoint. Interestingly, I think this show does recognize it’s weaknesses and addresses them, or at least owns up to them. Everything the show does feels intentional and confident, so these are more nitpicks than anything else.

Watch it?: A strong recommend (4/5)

MVP: Kyouko Kirigiri

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Super High School Level Detective

Best Episode: Ep2-3 “Not Normal Arc: Kill and Live” (though I like other arcs better, this one is a good intro to the formula of the show)

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JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable

Type: Let’s party like it’s 1999!

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Synopsis: Once again, a perfectly normal show is being called “bizarre” just because it revolved around people who have psychic battle that sometimes result in someone turning into a rock, or collecting pocket change, or fusing a cat and a flower together that can shoot air bubbles. The show even tries to make itself presentable by using the setting of a peaceful suburban town…where you can eat at a restaurant the cleans your pores and go to a beauty shop that rearranges your face. Just what is so “bizarre” about that!

Pros: Ok, real talk, Diamond is Unbreakable is one of my favorites Jojo arcs. I flip flop between Diamond is Unbreakable and Phantom Blood. And, in all honesty, Diamond is Unbreakable is much more consistent, being Part 4 in the Jojo series. By this point the author is a seasons pro, stands have been introduced, and the stories are becoming more varies. Part 1 was a gothic shoen series. Part 2 was a martial arts shoen series. Part 3 was an adventure shoen series. But Part 4 is more of a slice-of-life suspense series. Basically Anime meets Twin Peaks. The story is mainly about this seemingly unassuming town named Morioh, which is actually home to a gaggle of strange, arguably bizarre, residents that each have weird powers called “Stands.” These powers can as straight forwards as turning invisible, or as specific a stand that turns pieces of paper into pocket dimensions. Like Twin Peaks, a lot of the best episodes are stand alone incidents involving Morioh’s abnormal residents. The show introduces some of my all time favorite Jojo characters, from the hard working Koichi, the love lorn Yukako, the mangaka Rohan, the stingy Shigekiyo, and the surprisingly compelling grade schooler Hayato. Episodes can range from deadly serious cat and mouse duels, to figuring out if the lunch your eating is actually a stand. I would actually argue that Diamond is Unbreakable is the easiest entry point for those curious about the series, but aren’t into the whole “fight-fight” shoen scenes. You can watch a random episode and not feel lost. You can follow it week by week. You can even marathon it. It has all the benefits of a slice of life show with a pinch of strange thrown in. The characters are great, as the main cast (and even some auxiliary characters) get their own episodes to shine. The show has 3 main arcs: The hunt for the Arrow, some downtime, and the search for Kira. Kira really takes over the show about a third of the way in, and his weird but deadly demeanor has made him a fan favorite antagonist, rivaling even Dio! (p.s. I also loved the color palette the show used, nice choice!)

Cons: Even though Diamond is Unbreakable is my favorite arc, it’s not without it’s flaws. As said above, a lot of the episodes are stand alone stories, with some feeling less important that others. So some points of the series may feel like the drag on too long (cough Highway Star cough). It feels like the author meanders between stories, probably returning to the main plot when his editor told him to. But your mileage may vary depending on your tastes in stories. I should also point out that because this is Part 4 of the Jojo saga, less attention is paid to the main protagonist. While Josuke Higashikata, illegitimate son of Part 2’s Joseph Joestar, if a good character and probably the most genial Jojo in the series, he can go long stretches of time without even appearing. The story often switches focus, sometimes going to Koichi, or Rohan, or even Kira! This is actually a trend that started in Part 3, and has arguably made subsequent Jojo’s feel less impactful. It doesn’t really hurt this story, but it seems like we get to know Josuke less than Jonathan or Joseph Joestar. Now, on to more subjective remarks: what the hell happened to the animation quality this season? I noticed so many animation errors and model mistakes! Either this was rushed or less people were working on it, because brah, we got some messed up picture up in here. There was also a lot more still shots, though this could be a result of simply having more episodes. Also, no women. Well, that’s not fair. There’s like 5 female characters: Two are moms, one’s killed off, one’s a love interest for a supporting character, and one’s a ghost. And, sadly, the Jojo franchise has still not gotten over giving explanatory commentary during it’s fights. This ain’t wresting! When a cat plant throws an air bubble at a serial killer, we get what’s going on!b (P.s.s. It was recently made aware of a big plothole in the show: Why didn’t anyone ask Joseph to find Kira using his stand, despite being brought in to find Red Hot Chilli Peper for the same reason!).

Watch it?: If you ever wanted to watch Jojo, start with this one (5/5)

MVP: Koichi

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A personal favorite, I admit

Best Episode: Ep.21-22 “Yoshikage Kira Just Wants to Live Quietly, Part 1 & 2 (this season was very hard to choose from, with funny and exciting choices, but one is Kira at his most menacing)

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