Category Archives: Movie

No Game No Life: Zero

Type: This is your Season 2

Synopsis: Two outcast who are both totally legal guys! are unexpectedly drawn to each other through their love of chess. And, you know, both living in a world plagued in war as the Gods fight a petty battle for supremacy. One is a young(?) man who has to lead the last of humanity down their eventual march to extinction and is being crushed by the pressure. The other is a loli robot whose trying to learn what it means to be humans, but also kinda thirsty. Was this just an excuse to have a little girl character say lewd things? Yes, yes it was. Was I still caught up by the character work and stellar actions scenes? Yes, yes I was.

Pros: This movie is a flashback prequel to the anime No Game No Life, which has become something of a mascot for all great anime that never got a proper sequel. This story reveals how the Great War ended, how humanity earned it’s spot as one of the races, and how reality became the game world we first encounter in the anime. Let’s talk about each reveal. First, the movie does a great job showcasing how destructive the Great War was. Unlike the anime, the movie’s world has been utterly decimated by war. The bright colors we’re familiar with have been replaced with a dark color scheme. But I think the best example of the war was the battle between the Ex-Machina Schwi and Angel Jibril. No only is this battle amazing from a technical level, but it shows us the amount of destructive power the other races fought with, and these were just two grunts. It also helps clarify why other characters were so afraid to challenge races like Angels and Deus in the original anime. I know that sometimes less is more when it comes to certain events in stories, but showing the war through the eyes of low-level players helps add to it’s scale in my opinion. Second, the reveal that humanity, or “imanity” was almost extinct at this time of the was was interesting, as was the protagonist, Riku. Unlike Sora, Riku feels the brunt of status. His mood swings and desperation come off an genuine most of the time, and his relationship with Schwi actually does grow on you. By the end of the film, I ended up caring for both of them, as Riku and Schwi both taught each other to open their hearts. Third, by showing how Set became the God of the world, you are giving may more context about how the world works and the relationship between the races. You understand why certain races like Angels act the way they do, and why humanity is seen as such a loser race. The world in No Game No Life is a truly transformed world, predicated on one god and one lonely boy’s love of playing games.

Cons: The movie is rushed. Very rushed. The movie goes from story beat to story beat without ever letting moments breathe. Some moments are so abrupt that I lost track of the story a few times. It felt like they were trying to cram a story arc worth of stories within a 90 minute time frame. Which was weird because this anime only has 3 characters: Riku, Schwi, and Corounne as support. Everyone else is a side character at best, even Jibril. So while I did buy into Riku and Schwi’s relationship, that was mostly due to the sad music and direction. The writing didn’t do much. Riku goes from hating her to loving her within an hour. It’s only in the last half hour that you get to care about them together. Speaking of the characters, you might notice that Riku, Schwi, and Corounne look a lot like Shiro, Sora, and Stephanie. At first I thought that the studio was just being lazy and trying to get people to watch this movie by having similar looking characters in it. But the suggestion that they are reincarnations was a nice touch. They got Isekaied in order to get Isekaied again. I also kinda wish the Set had shown up more in the movie, maybe subtly pushing all the characters to finally win the game. In my own headcannon, I half expected this movie to show why Set became the god of games, but it turns out he was always that way. I should end by saying that this movie is very rushed and congested. It will only really appeal to fans of the show. Even then, some fans may not like it because it askews the tactical aspects of the anime for a more straightforward drama. I would not recommend this to a new audience.

Watch it?: For fans only

MVP: Schwi

We all know what they were doing with her, but it’s still funny.

Best Moment: The Schwi vs Jibril fight (made me appreciate how strong Jibril actually is).

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Lily C.A.T.

Type: Thing meets Alien meets Anime

Synopsis: A mysterious alien entity comes aboard the ship of blue collar space workers. A great prelude for the next adventure where a group of aliens come aboard a ship filled with space marines. Admittedly, the follow up involving the aliens coming aboard a prison colony wasn’t as good. But Resurrection was pretty alright, wasn’t it? Made us all believe again?

Pros: My allusions to the Aliens franchise and The Thing is no mere tongue and cheek. This anime cribbed hard from those two. And surprise, surprise, Aliens came out one year before this movie. You can therefore imagine the premise. A group of space surveyors are hired by a corporation to investigate a planet with an alien bacteria infiltrates the ship and starts killing people. There’s also a subplot where one of the crew is a murders whose escaping sentencing by joining this 20 years long voyage. As rip offs go, this one is fairly entertaining. You can tell who the culprit is right away, but the investigations were fun.

Cons: I think this movie has too many plots going on. One plot involves a creepy alien taking over the ship, that’s fine. Another plot involves the computer going rouge and trapping everyone on the ship, that’s fine. Another plot involves looking for a murder suspect, that’s fine. And another plot involves that characters realizing that space voyages cost them precious time with their families and culture, to the point of becoming strangers in their own worlds, and that also fine. But maybe pick one instead of cramming them all in an hour long “movie.” Because I tended to forget about some of the plots from time to time. The animation quality also fluctuates, but for some reason, the animators felt the need to show us a cat being gutted alive. Thank’s for that.

Watch it?: The more I think about it, AVP was pretty fun too.

MVP: The existential crisis of the sailor

What is a home that time has stolen from you?

Best Moment: The flamethrowers (when it all clicked for me).

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Wicked City (1987)

Type: A lot of sex and violence

Synopsis: But really, just a lot of sex, with some violence. Like, a 60:40 ratio.

Pros: Did I mention the sex, cause that’s gonna happen a lot. Well, like 5 times. At first I though it was kinda nice to have an anime with a sex scene between two consenting adult. Then the killer vaginas and rape scenes happened…cause anime in the 80s. Or anime in the 90’s. Or anime in the 00s. Or anime in general. Ya know anime industry, characters can just have sex for fun, or for romance. The portrayal of sex can be use for more than jokes or assault. Anyway, this movie is about two special agents, a human and a demon, trying to protect a mystic in order to renew the peace agreement between humans and demons. Since the human is a macho playboy from the 80s, and the demon is a sexy fashion model, they of course meet a lot of challenges, with sexy results. As stories goes, the plot jumps from action to sex scene to action to sex scene, with the final act feeling weak and anti-climatic.

Cons: This being a sexy movie with demons in it, there is some weird stuff. I’m taking demon vaginas coming out of a woman’s torso. In addition, Makie, the female protagonist and supernatural demon, is naturally sexually assaulted on three separate occasions. Once by an ex-lover, once by a tentacle monster, and once by a group of demons to motivate the male protagonist. No great. It’s also kinda sad to say, but Makie is also the only character with some spectrum of character development. In so far was we learn a little about her past. Taki, the human protagonist, is more generic. He really is just an 80’s cool-guy troupe that is really, really, really bad at his job. The demon antagonists are also kinda meh.

Watch it: It’s basically a once of those bad-movies to watch. But maybe by yourself.

MVP: Makie

Because at least’s she’s trying.

Best Moment: The demon with the vagina chest (You just can’t unsee that).

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Girls und Panzer der Film

Type: How can my murder machines be so cute!?

Synopsis: It’s like Bend It Like Beckham, but with tanks, and different characters, and an unrelated plot. Maybe this analogy doesn’t work anymore.

Pros: This is a moe-military anime that I had no idea was given a film. Well, I say “film,” but it’s really more like a long OVA, or a pseudo-second season. The story is that the girls at Ooarai Girls High School are on top of the world, until the MAN tells them that the school that lets them use live ammo to attack each other in war games will be closed down. Kill joys. The girls then go through a sort of graduation/splitting up story, where we get to see our cute main characters act cute about leaving behind the only friends they’ve ever had. Aww, their lives are breaking apart. How kawaii. Any who, they girls get a change to win their school back competing against a college war tank team. It’s pretty unfair, but it does give us a pretty awesome 20 min skirmish that included the multi-national characters introduced during the series (clearly the focus of the animations team’s time and money). I feel that I’m underselling this. If your a fan of this series, then the return characters, the interactions between the main cast due to the threat of splitting up, and the final battle are all for you.

Cons: It doesn’t feel like a movie. It feels like a long TV episode. This is partly because a lot of the events happen close enough to each other to feel rushed, but not spaced out enough to build mood. It basically goes: The girls are told their school is closed, the girls are given temporary lodgings and feel sad, they spend a day doing nothing, they get the news they have chance to save their school, they have a competition and win. The end. The antagonist, or rather the big challenger in the film, is also underdeveloped. She’s a loli/quiet character whose mostly used as the focus of personality for the college tank team, who are severely lacking in charisma. It’s almost like the writers have no interest in physically developed grown women and would rather focus more on young, sometimes underdeveloped, high school girls….

Watch it?: I was this during Fanime 2018! So maybe.

MVP:The Italian team

Clever tactics.

Best moment: The Italian team’s battle scene. (what a maneuver!)

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The End of Evangelion

Type: Can’t wait for the American live-action remake (You KNOW we will live to see that)!

Synopsis: But why beat on a dead horse when I can instead milk a decades old franchise thanks to nostalgia and a certain malaise that has stuck with people since adolescence. Thanks Netflix!

Pros: So I’m not ganna talk about any of the themes present in End of Eva. I’m not going to analyze the metaphors for depression, the Freudian sexuality, the commentary on Otoku culture, the depiction of misogyny, nor the numerous allusions to Christianity. Other people do that, and have been doing that since 1997. That’s all well and good, but what I think is the most fascinating aspect of End of Eva is it’s very existence. You see, during the original run of Evangelion, the production ran out of time and money towards the end of the series. This resulted in a controversial ending to the landmark series, with some fans praising it for it’s artistic merit, while others criticizing it for it’s confusing execution. The fan backlash and critic commentaries were enough for director Hideaki Anno and Studio Gainax to redo the ending of Evangelion through a movie released a year later. And in classic Eva style, the even the existence of the film can be interpreted in numerous ways.

One way to view it is as pandering to the Evangelion fanbase. The film does exactly what an Eva fan would want out of an ending. It shows NERV having one last stand against the mysterious SEELE organization. It has a kick-ass Eva fight with Asuka at the helm. It clarifies Gendo’s ultimate plan. It has amazing animation. It’s got a bunch of horrifying celestial body horror. It has Shinji crying for 90 minutes. Everything a Evangelion fan wants!

Another way to view it is as a criticism of the Evangelion fanbase. In a lot of ways, Shinji is used as a surrogate for the audience. In this film, Shinji is depicted as a weak, apathetic, immature being who literally tries to run away from reality through fantasy. Let’s not forget that during Shinji’s debate on whether or not to join humanity’s new form, we see live actions shots of audience members and actual death threats Anno and Gainax received because of the original Eva ending. Shinji actively tries to push other away out of a fear of rejection, and hurts anyone who gets close to him. He also likes to play the victim, and has a very disturbing lust/hatred towards women. The very first thing Shinji does in this movie, the very first thing we see, is Shinji masturbating over a comatose Asuka. This happens within the first 5 minutes of the movie! In fact, Asuka sums up Anno’s view of the fan base pretty well: Pathetic and Disgusting.

You can also view this movie as Anno’s through process while working on Eva. Anno famously battled depression during the production of Evangelion. So this film can act as a reflection on his feelings throughout the project. These are best represented in the scenes between Asuka and Shinji. In the first scene, Asuka is comatose and unaware of Shinji’s unhealthy obsession towards her. This represents Anno’s time actually working on the anime, unaware of exactly how invested the fan are in his work. The scene with Asuka fighting the angels while being annoyed as Shinji is basically Anno fighting either the critics, sponsors, studio executives while being annoyed at the fans.  The next scene is in Shinji’s head, with Asuka giving Shinji some hard truths about himself and his own narcissism. Through Asuka, Anno is almost angrily pleading with the fanbase to move on, recognize their faults, and grow. But Shiji’s attack on Asuka show’s their resistance. This is Anno’s emotions after the end of the original series. The last scene, with Shinji basically rejecting others and perpetuating his cycle of isolation, represents the fan’s own stubbornness. Shinji choking Asuka again is basically Anno predicting the fans criticizing the End of Evangelion, even after Asuka/Anno’s hard work and the fan’s/Shinji’s supposed love of them. Asuka touching Shinji’s face is Anno again trying to reach out to pacify the fanbase, even if the final lines of dialogue show some lingering resentment.

Finally, you can view this movie for what it says it is: the ending of Evangelion. While Anno and is assitant director, Kazuya Tsurumak, stand by the original ending, it was not what they wanted. How could it be? It was an artistic compromise at best. They ran out of money and time to make their ideal ending. But now, they get to do everything they possibly could have wanted. The characters of NERV get a proper send off. Asuka gets one last grand fight. Gendo gets his. Rei finally ascends to her true form. The angels are given their proper showcases. Lilith, the mother of humanity, is shown. And the team even gets to explore the opposite spectrum of Shinji’s character. The original ending has Shinji choose to be with others, giving up some of his individuality and vulnerability in exchange for social praise and personal growth. This alternate ending has Shinji reject others, choosing himself over people, and actively choosing to repeat his mistakes. The movie also salvaged the franchise, allowing it to become and enduring and lucrative license for years to come.

Cons: Nothing is perfect. Even Eva. This film really is suppose to be the end of the series, so you need to watch the original Evangelion anime before you can watch this. The imagery in this can get disturbing, especially in the latter half, so viewer discretion is advised. And the last I’d say 20 minutes gets downright trippy. To break it down: The first 20 minutes are an action movie, the next 30 minutes are the ending of the anime, and the last 30 minutes is a psychological exploration of depression.

Watch it?: Even for a non-Eva fan like me, it was a good watch

MVP: Asuka

If you see her as Anno, you get a whole new perspective on things.

Best Moment: The Eva 02 fight. (I was also ganna say Shinji jerking it, but that would be crass and silly, which of course has no place for such a serious anime).

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Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer

Type: From the director of Ghost in the Shell.

Synopsis: Like for real. The guy’s name is Mamoru Oshii. Man, the anime industry is a small world sometimes.

Pros: Finally! I got to experience Urusei Yatsura. Or should I say, the first time I got to experience Lum. The original magic pixie magical alien dream girlfriend. She was…fine. Cute, I guess. The story overall was pretty funny. The cast is trying to get ready for the school festival, but then realize they’re stuck in a time loop. There experiencing the same day over and over again while the city around them ages. How long have they been in the time loop? Who can say. But its clearly been a while. The characters were all fun, and I got interested in finding more Urusei Yatsura material for the future. But the real selling point is the animation. As the film goes one, you could just tell that the animators were flexing their creative muscles. We got shadows, tracking shots, long shots, looping scenes, high speed movement, intricate body work, small but noticeable twitches, etc. It a great movie to make a trailer with. A great movie to make a slide reel out of. And it was made in 1984! If you’re an animation geek, you’ll enjoy this one.

Cons: So it turns out that the time loop is caused by a dream demon who wants to create his own world. He uses Lum’s ideal world as a foundation. What kinda sucks is that the finale focuses on the dream demon and Ataru, the male protagonist of the manga series. But he’s a protagonist who doesn’t really do much in the movie. He’s more of a side character, with Mendou and Sakura acting more as the driving force of the film. I found Ataru move annoying than endearing, so his showdown with the demon didn’t land for me. That being said, I wouldn’t mind watching more of this.

Watch it: An enjoyable 100 minutes or so.

MVP: The animation

The school scene or space scene. Both amazing.

Best moment: The school blackout scene. (just show off why don’t you!)

 

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Tekkonkinkreet

Type: Street Rats. Well, Street Cats technically.

Synopsis: It’s basically about orphans beating up gangsters.

Pros: Well, there’s like more to it, but yeah. There are two orphans, Kuro and Shiro (black and white). They get into trouble with some Yakuza, and Kuro gets targeted by assassins. For his own good, Shiro is sent with the cops for protective custody, which throws off their whole Ying-Yang/Co-Dependent relationship. This gets explored in their senses of reality being distorted and what not. Real emotional stuff handled well via animation. Outside of this, we get spliced-in stories of life in an inner city. Frought with crime, tragedy, and a never ending cycle of violence. Kinda like if Elvis’s In the Ghetto was an anime. Though I do appreciate the more street level urban story.

Cons: It can get kinda messy. There is a lot of imagery thrown at you, and you may not get the significance of it all. That’s not me being pretentious. I don’t what half the weird stuff I saw meant! The cuts between the Kuro/Shiro plot and the Yakuza plot can be a bit confusing. And like a lot of anime movies, some of it’s scenes hang around a little longer than they should for the sake of “mood.” There also not a “happy ending” resolution to the stories. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that, but Kuro/Shiro are basically in the same boat they were in at the start. You could argue that because of certain actions in the film, they’re home free, but are they? Who knows. The whole film is a very “International Anime” film, if you catch my drift. It’s not solidly Japanese (hell, the director was American). It’s made to appeal to a broad audience of film buffs. It’s more of a “Film” than a “movie.” Of at least it wants to be.

Watch it: Pretty nifty story about children beating up adults.

MVP: Kuro

Angry. Angry young man.

Best Moment: Kuro flying out of the sky (for some reason).

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Trigun: Badlands Rumble

Type: Mostly a story arc

Synopsis: In this story, Trigun saves a bandit whom he crosses paths with years later. The bandit wants revenge on someone, but an innocent village is in the way, so Trigun and his new lady friend have to try and stop him. Then Trigun saves the day and walks into the sunset.

Pros: This “movies” is really just a long Trigun story arc. That’s a good thing, because Trigun is great. I didn’t remember how much I liked Trigun until this film reminded me. It’s got this old anime vibe that’s been lost. It’s a little slower, a little quieter, a little more lived in. The gang’s all here, and their roles make sense. The insurance girls are working a job, as is Wolfwood. The main theme is “revenge” and “living in the past.” The main character of the film, Amelia, wants revenge on the antagonist for the death of her mother. The antagonist, Gasback, wants revenge on the partner’s that betrayed him. Gasback’s an example of revenge’s pitfalls and costs, and Amelia’s struggle with revenge is the film’s emotional focus. Overall, a fun return to Trigun’s universe. (p.s. This movie was made is 2010, so good for Trigun fans!)

Cons: This “movies” is really just a long Trigun story arc. That’s a bad thing, because it’s largely forgettable. Movies adapted from existing anime tend to fall under a few different categories. There’s a film adaptation of a story arc. There’s a side story exploring a supporting character. There’s an origin story or prequel. There’s the rare film sequel. And then there’s the expendable side story. Trigun: Badlands Rumble is the latter. It has a movie only villain, a movie only protagonist, it neither adds or detracts from the source material, it ultimately didn’t matter. Trigun doesn’t learn anything from this. Hell, he doesn’t even do much. He was kinda just there. The film had the audacity to imply that Trigun died in this, but we all know he didn’t. And worst of all, the film doesn’t try anything new. The setting is still a desert and Trigun is still Trigun. There’s a few things you could have done, like explore Trigun’s early years, do a movie from Woofback’s perpective, or Trigun’s brother’s perspective, or put Trigun is a jungle or city or something. As it stands, this is a serviceable movie, but not must-see.

Watch it?: Maybe for that Trigun inch.

MVP: Amelia

I would also get goosebumps if creepy Trigun tried to touch me.

Best Moment: Gasback’s booby-trap walk (some pretty fancy animation there)

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Black Jack: The Movie

Type: Real medicine doesn’t work this way…

Synopsis: Except in E.R. But E.R. is good.

Pros: I’m be honest. I’ve never watched E.R. I just wanted to sound smart for all of you. But we’re here to talk about Black Jack: The Movie. This was my first introduction to Black Jack, created by Osamu Tezuka, who also made Astro Boy. I didn’t make this connection until about 30 minutes into the movie and though “boy, these guys sure look like robot children.” According to the Wikipedia, Black Jack is a medical mercenary who charges an insane amount of money for his services, despite not having a medical license and wearing a garish opera cape. And hes allowed to do this in a world and legal system to is fully aware of his existence as an illegal surgeon. In this story, he’s hired to deal with a string of superhuman who seem to be dying for no reason. Most of the film is just an excuse to draw highly detained medical procedures, but it’s a serviceable medical drama.

Cons: Also according to the Wikipedia, Black Jack’s face is explained as a skin graph from his half-african best friend. So I don’t know if he’s “Black Jack” because his face is half black (which is therefore racist), or because of his reputation as a cold hearted doctor. But he’s evil in the whole “he’s actually a kind doctor” kind or way. That being said, this movie is really just a basic medical drama. It looks nice, but nothing about is is super special. The only real element that rising above being average is Joe Carol Brian, how hires/blackmails Black Jack to help fix the superhuman death problem. She was interesting because she was the total opposite of the Black Jack character. Outside of her brilliance, she was a corporate puppet who used human experiments to further her ambitions, and was a prisoner of her own making. There was also magic bacteria found in desert stand. But that’s about it.

Watch it: It’s Fine.

MVP: The animation

People love to draw medical agony. They love it!

Best Moment: The brain surgery. (gross).

 

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Armitage III: Dual-Matrix

Type: A sequel no one asked for

Synopsis: A know that a lot of people complain about entertainment industry giving us sequels to decade old franchises that no one asked for, but this ain’t a new thing. Case in point, this anime movie is a sequel to a at best serviceable cyber punk anime. The first time around, Armitage III has the unfortunate luck of coming out the same year as Ghost in the Shell. But will this new movie revive the franchise!? No. No it will not.

Pros: And surprise, surprise, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex also came out in 2002. And AGAIN, Armitage was released earlier in the year, but was overshadowed by Ghost in the Shell’s first anime series. You just can’t win, can you? It’s like when Civil War came out before Batman vs Superman. Except that Civil War ended up making a billion dollars, while BVS didn’t. I mean, it made it’s money back. The critics didn’t like it, but I think they were being overly harsh. And as a DC fan, I enjoyed it. It set up the characters well, Ben Affleck as Batman was awesome, and that scene at Lex Luther’s party? Amazing. Plus, we got to see Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman for the first time. Weirdly enough, BVS has become a bit of a cultural touchstone, though usually with negative connotations. But no one really talks about Civil War anymore. I mean, that airport fight sure. Still, given time, I think people will begin to appreciate BVS more. I’ll freely admit that Superman was a downer, but that a bigger issue with the entire franchise (though they did fix Superman in Justice League, another misunderstood film). Yet as a whole, BVS told a story about what happens when a man defined by fear gives into it, and a man defined by hope starts to lose it. Apart their dangerous, but together they’re the World’s Finest….Oh s#$t, right, Armitage. Her kid was cute.

Cons: Hey, don’t get me wrong, I’ll call it like I see it. Suicide Squad was not good. It had a good aesthetic, but that don’t replace competent writing. The thing is that–alright, the bit’s gone far enough. Anyway, Armitage Dual-Matrix takes place seven years after the original. Armitage has a kid, but goes to Earth to stop more Third Type androids from being created. The villains master plan is to use the Third Type androids, androids that can reproduce, to make a slave race. Stuff happens and the day is saved. Here’s the thing, on the one hand I liked that Armitage seemed more mature, which was reflected in her less revealing outfit. One the other hand, she was less fun. Her character seemed to be reduced to angry or sad. All the conflict about her being android seems to have been resolved. There was an interesting bit when her daughter is scared when she find out that her mom’s an android. Maybe if this had happened earlier, as in being the catalyst that shattered Armitage’s idyllic life, then we’d be talking. But with what it got, it’s yet another attempt that was overshadowed by Ghost in the Shell, only this time with it’s personality lost.

Watch it?: Give Batman V Superman another shot. It’s better than it’s reputation.

MVP: Armitage’s outfit

Shorts and crop top. Easy, attractive, but not over the top. Though the clevage was a little much.

Best moment: Armitage’s daughter’s reaction to her mom’s metal arm (My mother’s a horrible robot in a forgettable series of stories!!)

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