Tag Archives: 2004

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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Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow [Naruto Movie Month]

Type: That’s right, this is becoming a Yearly thing.

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Synopsis: Mission 1- Guard an Actress

Pros: Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow, which is an absurdly long title, was the first Naruto film. There had been a few OVA ans stuff before, but this one is officially the first movie. It starts the tradition of having all Naruto films have “the Movie” in the title, in case anyone gets confused. The animation is good. All the Naruto movie animations are usually good. This one has a lot of snow in it, and the snow looks like snow. It may feel like I’m reaching, and that’s because I am. The first Naruto movie takes place in Part 1 of the manga, meaning that Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura are still in their annoying middle school phases. Which is fine, as they can be occasionally funny, but it also means that none of them have any real skill of abilities. Kinda like the first Dragon Ball movies, Naruto was still finding it’s voice at the point of this film.

Cons: Again, the kids aren’t cool yet. If you don’t like Part 1 of Naruto, feel free to skip. You’re not really missing much. The film tries to tie in one of the bad guys to Kakashi’s past, but this doesn’t really work. I liked that the film suggests that movies exist in the Naruto universe, if only to further contradict the exact level of technology the Naruto franchise has (seriously, this is a world where movies exist, but not cars or planes or phones). The antagonists are typical forgettable Ninja. They wear Chakra armor. And I think this may have spoiled the Rasengan in advanced, but I’m not sure.

Best Naruto film?: No

Villain: Dotō Kazahana

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Forgettable villain #1

Best Moment: That train that shot kunai volleys (I also liked the end where Naruto got a little peck on the cheek)

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Ninja Nonsense

Type: Nonsense with Ninjas

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Synopsis: It’s about Ninjas…who do nonsense.

Pros: I watched this because I had nothing better to do. But you kinda want to watch this when you have nothing better to do. This is great background noise. Something you can put on when you want to do something else. Most episodes are stand alone, and being a gag comedy, the plot is a non-issue. Onsokumaru is the comedic heavy hitter, the Steve Urkel if you will. You tune in to see him and his perverted antics. Milage may vary in terms of tolerance, but he’s more good than bad. This is a comedy based on ninja, so some of the jokes are: an army of ninja that aren’t very good, Shinobu the female ninja who isn’t very good, etc.

Cons: This is a very throw away anime. You could watch it, you could not watch it, and your overall net life experience won’t change much. There was a point in the anime when the show hint at some “mysterious” secret involving Shinobu, and I (despite knowing better) fell for it. For a minute, I thought the battle depicted in the opening was going to happen, and all the characters were going to show their cool side. Nope. It’s not that kind of show. It’s a straight silly comedy from the early 2000’s. Fan service jokes. Gag heavy. Cartoony.

Watch it?: Take it or leave it. (3/5)

MVP: Onsokumaru

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Ninja Master

Best Episode: Ep. 4 “Ninja, Getting Hot”/”Miyabi, Falling in Love” (eh, it has a story)

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Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

Type: Revenge in Space Paris

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Synopsis: Based on one of the greatest novels to slam the whole “let bygones be bygones” idea, we’re introduced to The Count of Monte Cristo, a vampire-like blue guy who everyone falls in love with. His servants love him. His friend’s wives love him. Even the young male protagonist loves him. Like a lot. Like in an adult way. Which is great for the Count, who may or may not be evil. But to be fair, almost every adult in this is pretty evil, so he fits right in!

Pros: The first thing you notice is the art style. It mixes 2D and 3D effects to give every clothing piece and hair style a distinct look. The whole anime looks visually abnormal, vibrant and static at the same time, which works well with the theme of revenge that the story revolves around. I’d like to think that most people know the story of The Count of Monte Cristo, but I’d rather not spoil anything for the uninitiated. That’s kinda the tricky thing about reviewing a good story. You want to gush over the story and characters with great detail, but risk ruining the experience for the reader. I’ll just say that Gankutsuou does an excellent job at adapting the classic western story, capturing most of the emotional beats and character moments from the original. Particular kudos should be given to the creation of The Count, who came off as so charismatic that even I wasn’t sure what his intentions were until late in the anime. In fact, given the number of characters included and time allowed, this may be one of the best interpretation of The Count of Monte Cristo outside of the novel itself.

Cons: When you think about it, its weird that Albert fall for the Count the moment he meets him. That being said, it is in his character. Albert is portrayed as extremely naive and trusting, and his sometimes childish attitude may irritate viewers. But what bothered me most was the one dimensional characterization of the the Count’s targets for revenge. They all came off as unrepentant villains, even in their home lives. I would have liked a bit more complexity in their portrayals, just so we in the audience could have felt more conflicted about the Count’s quest for vengeance. I would have liked one or two episodes exploring the Count’s past, instead of using flashbacks. Then there’s the art style which, while unique, is  a bit intense. I should also point out that the story is a bit of a slow burn, since the first half of the anime focuses on establishing all the characters and the Count slowly integrating himself in their lives. And a lot of Albert’s friends felt superfluous. Outside of Franz and Euginie, I could have lived without the rest.

Watch it?: Trust me, it’s good. (5/5)

MVP: The Count of Monte Cristo

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Sleep well, sweet Edmund Dantes

Best Episode: Ep17-18 The Confession/The Duel (the turning point of the story)

 

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Elfen Lied

Type: Oh, geez anime!

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Synopsis: With the gore, and the nudity, and the child nudity, and the people with the horns and crazy invisible hand things, yeesh!

Pros: So yeah…I watched Elfen Lied, an anime with one of the most well known reputations for being disturbing. Its, ah, an honest assessment. The anime is about a mutant species that can kill people semi-telepathically. One of the most dangerous ones, Lucy, escapes and makes it back to her childhood friend. So one half of the show is about an evil corporation trying to kill Lucy with other mutants, or Diclonious, and the other half is about Lucy living an innocent life with her friends. Now, this thing is Violent. Gore fans will probably get a kick out of it. Its not as over the top as Blood C, or even Gatz, but its high up there. That’s kind of its selling point.

Cons: Let’s be real here. If you’re ganna watch Elfen Lied, its for the ultraviolence, not the story. The plot is not impressive in the least. We get it, humans are the real monsters. It also never explains where exactly diclonios originated from, or why they all look alike. This Dark Anime Drama covers such uplifting and totally predictable topics like: child molestation, torture, psychological trauma, dual personality, schizophrenia, child murder, and lots of nudity etc. Nothing innovative, nothing great. Its icky, but also kinda superficial. Part of this is because the anime still adheres to other anime troupes, and they mainly all happen in the Kohta household. Like when psycho killer Lucy, under a second identity, messages someones breasts from behind. What is this, a harem!? (p.s. Elfen Lied is kinda a harem). These moments fell really inconsistent with the rest of the show. I get it, these scenes are trying to juxtapose the cruelty of Lucy’s world with something more innocent, but the should could have been more subtle. Then again, a show where a little girl is amazed by giraffes one minute, then kills an entire family the next, probably doesn’t do subtlety.

Watch it!?: Eh, I’ve seen worse. God, I wish I hadn’t seen worse. (3/5)

MVP: Lucy

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That first scene is still pretty good.

Best Episode: Ep. 08 “The Beginning ~ Beginn” (Those kids deserved to die, right? I’m not the only one who thinks that?”)

 

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Grenadier

Type: Smiling Gunslinger

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Synopsis: Boobs are cool. They make us drool. We love ’em all, big and small. They’re especially great when using guns. You can bounce bullets off ’em for quick reloads. They also help comfort people. If you can use ’em to break a person’s will, then no fighting need take place. They’re really the key to the ultimate battle strategy.

Pros: Grenadier is a classic shonen adventure story. About 70% humor, 30% action. Good enough, but nothing impressive. The protagonist is a happy-go-lucky-fighter who mostly gets into trouble because of misunderstandings. Think Vash the Stampede, but with bigger breasts. On that topic, or topics, for the first time ever, an anime character with ludicrously bouncy boobs actually uses them in a fight. I wasn’t joking above, Rushuna actually does reload her gun by bouncy her bullets off her breasts (well, it happened once in the show). They’re also part of her “ultimate battle strategy” or removing the will to fight. Luckily, she mainly uses them in embraces, and doesn’t just flash them. I actually really liked Rushuna’s belief that sympathy and empathy where a superior answer to violence. It made her seem more heroic.

Cons: This thing goes by really fast. It’s 12 episodes makes it feel really stuffed with supporting characters who don’t get room to breath, story lines that come and go, and a general lack of character development. Just look at Yajiro, who just joined Rushuna because he was, what, bored? It’s a common problem with manga-anime that only gets one season. Some of Rushuna’s catchphrases and such are cute at first, but get tired afterwards. No Rushuna, I do not think you can pay a ransom with a smile. You ain’t Mary Tyler Moore. And the baths, always with the baths. Where is she getting the money for these things? And the fan service is…actually not bad. It’s more eye candy than anything else, with mostly cleavage and non-nudity nakedness.

Watch it?: Fun characters, good jokes, generic shonen feel (3/5)

MVP: Rushuna Tendo

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Would you care to join her?

Best Episode: Ep.12 “The Smiling Senshi” (who takes a battle in the middle of a battlefield?)

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Midori Days

Type: Someone’s dream I’m sure

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Synopsis: Ok, Ok, um, Ok. There’s this guy right? He’s like the toughest kid in school, but all he wants is a girlfriend. Then one day he wakes up, and his right hand has been transformed into a teenage girl! I shit you not. His right hand literally transforms into a teenage girl from the wrist up. Not only that, but the girl is super psyched about it!  That’s insane on so many levels!

Pros: The premise. Oh, my god, the premise. How can something so simple be so bizarre? In hindsight, its amazing that no one has ever thought of making a story where someone turns into an appendage. The scenes between Seiji and Midori are fascinating to watch. You don’t really realize how much you actually use your hands until its pointed out. Its gets a recommendation out of it’s unique factor alone.

Cons: If you strip away the premise, you’re left is a rather bland anime. All the characters and episodes that don’t deal with Seiji and Midori directly are pretty average. My least favorite are episodes dealing with a doll otoku, mostly because it reminded my of my initial impression of the show. I originally thought it was going to be about a nerd whose only friend is a puppet (and I cringed at the possibilities). Luckily, it was just a show about a kid with a bad reputation who gets a cute girl grafted onto his arm somehow.

Watch it?: You seriously need to watch this once, just to say that you did (3/5)

MVP: Seiji Sawamura

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Mad Dog in the House

Best Episode: Ep.5 “The Power of Love” (quite handy, wasn’t she?)

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Genshiken

Type: Nerds

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Synopsis: Nerds go to college. They start a club. I’m still not sure what the club was actually supposed to do. A girl starts sitting in on club meetings because her boyfriend is a member. She hates everyone involved. Then this other girl with big boobs joins the club because she loves to cosplay. Then nothing happens for a while. Then another girl joins, but she only did it because she secretly draws porn or something. Then they graduate.  So its basically a The Big Bang Theory anime.

Pros: I really give the show props for not dramatizing or mocking otoku life. A lot of anime tend to treat Otokus as comedic foils or psychologically stunted losers. But in Genshiken, Otokus are just people. People with hobbies that don’t have the best reputation. So the shows really just a light comedy about a group of nerds. The show’s not super hilarious, but its good for a chuckle or two. The key element is Saki Kasukabe, the only non-otoku member. Her total rejection of otoku life juxtaposed with the sheer amount of nerdiness surrounding her is very funny.

Cons: Their is no real main character. The whole group is the main character, and not all characters are created equal. I would have liked it if Saki had been more of a focal point, because her unfamiliarity with Otoku culture would have made her perfect for the lead role. I also wasn’t crazy about the episodes where the club goes to conventions. They do this about four times, and it just felt like filler to me.

What it?: Its was surprisingly enjoyable (3/5)

MVP: Saki Kasukabe

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Nerdy’s the new Sexy

Best Episode: S2, Ep.10 “Otaku from the USA” (I love English in Anime)

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Gantz

Type: The Fucked Up Kind

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Synopsis: So apparently the biggest dick in the universe is this thing called Gantz. This big black orb thingy randomly makes copies of dead people and forces them kill aliens for its amusement. To be fair it does give you weapons, power suits, and the target, but that’s about it. No instructions. No tips. If you die in the game, your dead for good. If you try to run away from the game area, your head explodes. Gatnz insults you at the end of the game and gives you points. Your free to live your life in-between games, unless Gantz copied a person that wasn’t fully dead, then you sorta have to avoid awkwardly meeting the original you.  Once you get 100 points, Gatnz lets you go for reals.

Pros: If your a fan of “realism” in anime, then you’ll probably be a fan of this. All the characters in the show act like real people, full of flaws and anxieties. What makes the show interesting is seeing all these “real” people deal with such an extraordinary situation. To makes things more interesting, the show actually allows people to die, no matter who they are. So in every Gatnz Game you get a new set of people and group dynamic. The only constant being the protagonist Kuruno. While I’m not a fan of this type of anime, I was genuienly interested in what was going to happen next, and hope they make more seasons in the future.

Cons: As stated above, this show incorporates “realism. This means that the characters are drawn realistically, which I was not a big fan of. It also doesn’t shy away from issues like abuse, bullying, crime, suicide.  When I used the term “real” people, I of course meant assholes (if I had a dollar for every dirtbag that wanted to molest Kei “big breasts” Kishimono…). The characters in Gantz aren’t very likable. Some are angry, some are crazy, some are losers, some are whiny, some are self centered, some are killers. Gantz tends to revive a mix of people. This show also has a lot of casual nudity and violent gore. So if anything stated above is not your thing, don’t watch it. (p.s. Kato cried waaay too much. That boy had feelings.)

Watch it?: Only your 18+ and have a strong constitution. (4/5)

MVP: Kei Kuruno

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I will survive.

Best Episode: Ep.17 “Is It OK to Shoot Them?” (I gatta be cool guy now)

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Samurai Champloo

Type: Hip-Hop Samurai fights

Synopsis: Ditzy waitress Fuu is looking for her father, “a Samurai that smells of Sunflower.” As luck would have it, she manages to get two wandering swordsmen into her debt. Mugen is a slob with an unorthodox break-dancing fighting style, Jin is a prim and proper rounin well versed in the traditional samurai sword style. Its the original odd-couple! You know…if it was set in Edo Japan…and had a recurring female lead…and was about rap.

Pros: The entire show is very well done. It mixes historical events, anime fights, and rap culture all into one very fun show. Fuu’s seach gives the show a reason for exploring 19th century Japan. Much of the show is essentially about rebellion and change, which is amplified by the use the hip-hip soundtrack. Each fight is also well handled. Mugen and Jin are fun to watch, but their not super human. Its nice to see an anime where the good guys can’t decimate a group of opponents with one move. Overall, an excellent show.

Cons: Nothing really….Nope, still nothing. Some episodes tend to veer off course a little, like the one involving a ninja. I also think that Jin isn’t given as much attention as Mugen. But that’s about it.

Watch it?: F@#$ Yeah! (5/5)

MVP?: Mugen

Baddest Man on the Planet

Best Episode: Ep. 18 “War of the Words” (the kids call it art, I call the cops)

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