Monthly Archives: May 2017

Black Butler

Type: So many historical inaccurate

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Synopsis: The Earl of Phantonhive, also known as the Duke of Short Pants, also know as Lord Protector of Boys Love, has a problem. He’s alive, and so are the people the killed his mother as father. The problem is, he would like them to not be alive anymore. You see the dilemma here. Now, he can’t simply use his vast, vast, vast fortune, connection to the Queen of England, and his own notable genius to find these people. Instead, he sold his Soul to a demon butler to get his revenge. Even though the Demon Butler can’t leave his side. Or do anything without a direct order. And was possibly responsible for the Plauge. But kids, am I right?

Pros: The anime’s strongest asset is its characters. Black Butler has a set of amazing characters, from the haughty Ciel, the always debonair Sebastian, and the comedic servants. They are quiet versatile, working in comedic and serious moments. The anime is mostly made us of “cases.” As the Earl of Phantomhive, Ciel is the “guard dog” for the British Crown, often sent to various locations to root out corruption and wrong doing. Ciel is portrayed as a very good tactician. His family’s fortune lies in sweets and games, which allude to Ciel’s talent for manipulation and his young age and temperment. Sebastian often accompanies him as his highly skilled butler, sometimes comedically so, and he’s always used as the Mcguffin that saves the day. Then there’s the comedic servants: a pyromaniac cook, a cooky maid, and a jolly groundskeeper, how as indispensable as the comic relief (since the show can get dark on you). Like I said, it’s a solid group.

Cons: The anime’s story is kinda bland. It starts off strong enough, but loses it’s luster as it goes. The whole angel subplot was weak. And there was this one dog episode, Ep.7, that felt out of nowhere. I don’t wanna see dog fights. I’ll get that fix from Pokemon, thank you very much. I also felt that the story jumped the shark too quickly on the Jack the Ripper case. From my research (Wikipedia), it seems that the anime veers off from it’s manga counterpart around halfway through. For my money, Ep.7, ep17-20, and ep.22-24 are the worst story arcs of the bunch. Ep.21 stands out because it gives use the origin of the servants, which was fun. The any does delve into some darkish territory, in a psudo Victorian horror kinda a way. Your enjoyment kinda depends on your tolerance for bloody mysteries and arrogant protagonists. Oh, and your feelings on implied romance between a teenage (?) boy and his handsome adult butler.

Watch it: Pick and choose episodes (4/5)

MVP: The Servants

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My favorite characters

Best Episode: Ep.1 “His Butler, Able” (Comedic Downton Abbey)

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Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

Type: Really, Really, Really Good

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Synopsis: In the ancient land of…Japan? China? Korea?…In the ancient land of South East Fantasy Asia, a female spear wielder is tasked with protecting a young Prince whose been ordered to die due to being possessed by an evil spirit. The bodyguard must now act as guardian and care giver to the young Prince, while also being a generally all around bad-ass.

Pros: This anime is really, really, really good. After watching it for an hour, I immediately looked to see if there was a second season. No such luck, but I did learn that the anime is based on a Japanese fantasy novel series. Amazon here I come. Being based on a novels makes a lot of sense, because the anime’s story is allowed to breath more than your standard action-drama. You can usually guess the story source based on the pacing. Manga anime are typically fast paced. Light-Novel anime are brisk. Visual novel anime have slow start but quickly ramp up. And video game anime are a mess, just a complete mess. But getting back to Moribito, the anime does great job mixing realism with fantasy, almost to the levels of a Miyazaki project. All the characters felt real, and the pre-industrial Japanese-esque setting made their daily lives and struggles come off as more relatable. Their are very few stories in fiction that are confident enough to allow their characters to be the story, not just be part of the story. I found myself being equally entertained by the well done action scenes, to the quieter personal scenes. The protagonist Balsa could be fighting 7 men at once, or explaining how money works, and I’d be enjoying it either way. On the topic of Balsa, can I say how refreshing it was to have a grown-up as the main character in an anime? A single Female grown up at that? One of the first things Balsa says in the series is that she’s almost 30 years old. She is a fully established character by the time we the audience meet her. She’s at the tale end of resolving her personal mission when Chagum the Prince is introduced. Her relationship with Chagum is very well handled, as her duty to look after him evolves into maternal love organically on both ends. I would love giving the anime the series of analytic essays it deserves, but these are meant to be quick. I just say that like all great stories, this anime is filled with notable moments that you can pick out and say: “Remember the fight on the mountain ledge? Or the Gambling scene? Or the attack in the rice patties? Or Chagum’s first fight? Or the visit to the blacksmith? Or Tada’s trip to the spirit world? Or, etc, etc…

Cons: There’s not more of it? That it ended? That it took me this long to get to it? That you’ll want to pay attention? That I’m pretty sure The Legend of Korra might have taking large character points from it? I mean, come on, there are soo may ways this could have gone south. Chagum could have been a whiny rich brat. Balsa, a strong female warrior, could have been given the HBO treatment. A hacky conspiracy plot could have been added. A villain could have been added, Balsa could have been given the “forget being a warrior and be a woman” troupe! But thankfully, not of that happened. Balsa is never objectified, and her being a warrior is treated more as part of who she is rather than some tragic fate. Chagum never acts arrogantly. And the major conflict come more from trying to stop a force of nature than one character trying to gain something. Even the King, the guy who ordered his youngest son dead, did so under the idea that it would protect his nation (and he was totally feeling bad about it). Maybe, maybe the idea of Balsa and Chagum having parallel stories of being protected by someone at a young age is a big too convenient, but that’s just a personal opinion. Overall, this is an anime that anyone can watch and enjoy.

Watch it?: This is why watching anime is the best! (5/5)

MVP: Balsa

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I’m now a fan of the short spear

Best Episode: Ep.3 “Fight to the Death” (I’ll with excitement, but honestly, the entire thing is great)

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Blade of the Phantom Master

Type: Wait, the Phantom Master doesn’t use a sword

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Synopsis: Is, is the girl the “Blade?”

Pros: Blade of the Phantom Master is about a spirit summoner (I’m not even going to try to spell his actual title), who travels the land, saving people while insulting them for needing to be rescued. Its like if a Fireman saved you from a burning building, but then called you a moron for getting trapped in a burning building. The movie has two stories, the first being about the Phantom Master Munsu’s travels to a desert kingdom, and then his travels to a island village. After the firs adventure, he us joined by Sando, or Chun, his new bodyguard. And that’s it for positives, because guess what, this movie isn’t very good.

Cons: This movie isn’t very good. The animation is low tier. The action is lazy. The plot was boring. It made me fell bad after watching it.  And the protagonist is thoroughly unlikable. When Munsu is first introduced, he single handedly takes down a corrupt king. As a viewer, this gives you the impression that he Munsu hate corruption, or tyrants, or maybe he fights for the people. Nope. After the desert kingdom scene, Munsu encounters a boy on the beach, pleading for help, to which Munsu responds to by leaving his corpse on the beach. So what we have is a bad looking film that contradicts itself. Is Munsu a tough guy who fights for justice, or a bastard that needs to be convinced to help out. Story writers need to realize that you can’t have both. You can’t have an anti-hero saving the day. That’s an oxymoron. A hero could he a hard-ass, like Wolverine. An anti-hero’s actions could indirectly save the day, like the Punisher. But you can’t give your anti-hero heroic moments without diminishing his/her character (which is why so many anti-heroes die doing something heroic). There are too many times in this film where the story tries to set up a “oh, isn’t he a bad ass!” moment. For example, in one scene, Munsu wordlessly shots a crow full of people, much to the horror or an onlooker. When the spectator finally tries to stop him, Munsu explains his reasons, despite the fact that he could have done so on the walk over to the crowd. Overall, this felt like a long tv show rather than a movie, and the tv show sucked.

Watch it?: Noooooooooooooooooo.

MVP: Sando

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She, ah….she was tolerable

Best Moment: The ending (in that it ended this horrible film)

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