Tag Archives: 2008

DBZ Abridged

Type: It was the hype!!

Synopsis: It was hilarious, and we will all quote everything it said.

Pros: Dragon Ball Z: Abridged is probably the best anime abridged series in the history of the medium. It’s certainly the standard bearer. I say this with no hyperbole. For over 10 years, Team Four Star created one of the funniest, silliest, and weirdly emotionally resonant parodies on the internet. I think that a part of being a fan is secretly wishing to add to your fandom, at least a little. Team Four Star lived out that dream. Not only did they get to play around with the Dragon Ball Z characters, they made one of the best entries in the franchise. This may sound odd, but I would argue that DBZ: Abridged is the best way to ingest Dragon Ball after the original airing. DBZ: Abridged acts as a loving reflection of all the horribly funny inconsistencies in the greatest shonen story of all time. How many of us witnessed the Saiyan, Freeza, and Cell Saga and thought: Ya know, Goku is kinda a bad father, Piccolo is much better…I wonder what the human Z-fighters think about all these Super Saiyans running around…Now that I think about it, PoPo probably is some sort of Eldritch horror. But in all seriousness, I think that DBZ’s greatest legacy is that for a group of fans, myself included, it kept the Dragon Ball flame lit during some very dark times. It was a 10 years gap between Dragon Ball GT and Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. This show started in 2008. The abridged series made me fall in love with Dragon Ball Z again, and got me excited for new entries like Dragon Ball Super and DBZ Fighters. I guess it’s a little poetic that DBZ abridged is ending right as Dragon Ball got another resurgence. After reigniting passions for the franchise, making it’s own mark on the industry, and even creating it’s own lore, it was time to move on. Team Four Star made us laugh and care about Dragon Ball again, and they did it there way.

Cons: After reading all that, you might be wondering: What the hell is Dragon Ball Z Abridged? To which I say: You go some attitude mister. DBZ: Abridged was an online video parody series about the story and characters of Dragon Ball Z. The show covers every episode and plot-line from the original show in a condensed, often satirical version. Everything is more or less the same, just bent or twisted for comedic effect. For example, in the show Guru of Namek is still the ruler of the Namekians, but he’s also an asshole and war criminal. Piccolo is still a stoic warrior, but also a bit of a tsundere. Some characters veer off their beaten track, and others go way off. Looking at you Mr. Popo. Despite my love and gratitude of this show, it’s not perfect in any way. The early episodes are rough, and the joke very in quality. There are some very lazy dick and drug jokes. I would say that this show, on average, is about at a mid-2000’s Adult Swim level of comedy. It’s stupid funny. That could be a compliment or an insult, depending on the episode.

Watch it: A must for DBZ fans! (5/5)

MVP: Team Four Star

Now they can live their own lives, and make their own futures.

Best Episode: Ep. 60, Part 1-3 (They were perfect).

 

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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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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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Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Bonds [Naruto Movie Month]

Type: Sasuke shirtless in 3,2,1….

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Synopsis: Mission 5-Protect Doctor and Apprentice during Battle

Pros: The theme is pretty easy to figure out. It’s all about “bonds,” specifically between master and apprentice….and also about Naruto borderline obsession with Sasuke. But hey! Sasuke makes his return to the Naruto films from the very first movie. I mean, we got a weird cameo in the second movie, but that doesn’t count. He also doesn’t really factor into this movie until the last battle, but whatever, he’s shirtless most of the time. That’s fan service we can all get behind. The premise of the film is good and straightforward: a Ninja village holds an old grudge against the Leaf Village and attacks them. Naruto stories work best when they revolve around Ninja vs Ninja political conflict. The opening attack is beautifully ominous, and you get a real sense of the magnitude of the attack. The pacing is well done, with cuts from the Leaf’s counter attack to Naruto’s medical escort mission. We get a good mix of action and character work without overdoing either. And the themes of war and bonds are actually a pretty nifty allusion to the later parts of the Naruto story.

Cons: There are too many antagonists in this movie. The Sky Ninja was enough. They had ties to the Naruto cannon thanks to the Second Shinobi war, they attacked first, and their flying machines where made to look like a serious threat to the Leaf Village. Did we really need the inclusion of a “Zero Tailed” beast and a crazy old man? Speaking of crazy old man, or Shinno, we get yet another Naruto movie where the new Film only character is betrayed by an authority figure. To be fair, this twist wasn’t as telegraphed as the others in the franchise. But his plan is pretty dumb and convoluted. Shinno basically goes from kind doctor to insane dictator without any real explanations of his motives. The film lost a really good chance to tie the loose ends of the Sky Ninja story by exploring how war affects a community. But no, Shinno’s just crazy because LOL.  Amaru’s romance subplot was also a bit icky, mostly because the whole teenage girl loving the over 50 old man/father figure/mentor is icky,  but I wouldn’t have minded adding Amaru to the regular cast. The Sasuke stuff, though, does feel forced. Maybe if he had been shown more during the movie, his inclusion would have felt more organic. And, on a personal note, I forgot how much of an assh#le Sasuke is during this part of the story. Just a pretty, pretty ash#le.

Best Naruto movie?: Yes

Villain: Shinnō

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Forgettable villain #5

Best Moments: The Sky Ninja attack (I think it ripped off Pearl Harbor)

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Desert Punk

Type: Well, this took a turn

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Synopsis: The world’s sh#$. The people are sh#$. And anyone who points out the fact is especially sh#$. Take the case of Kanta, the “Demon of the Desert” or “Desert Punk.” He’s a horrible person. Perverse, greedy, selfish, cowardly, but ultimately real. He is who he is. A jackass. But in this godforsaken desert world, who isn’t?

Pros: The anime is a post apocalyptic story taking place in a Mad-Max/Trigun like cut-throat desert. Our protagonist is Desert Punk, a mercenary with only one rule: fulfill the contract. And I mean one rule. Outside of this, the Desert Punk has participated in such noble pursuits as: kidnapping, sexual blackmail, murder, human trafficking, etc. The show does an incredibly job at pushing the audience’s tolerance of him. He truly proves the point that a protagonist does not have to be likable (but also why he/she probably should be). Desert Punk is a jerk, so you laugh when he loses. But you also kinda root for him, especially when he deals with other equally hypocritical people. The show also keeps the tone relatively light-hearted, especially in the first half, that nothing comes off a disgusting. In fact, the first 12 episodes are basically a sex-comedy with Desert Punk as the main pervert. I have never head so many penis jokes from an anime. Then it take a more serious turn after, but still keep some of the comedy.

Cons: Well, the intros suck, first of all. The show takes a serious at about episode 13. It’s not bad, but it does change the course of the show. It goes from a few stand alone episode about Desert Punk and his apprentice’s misadventures to a more plot heary story involving a civil war. This turn makes the show lightly more generic. Character wise, the only real constant is Desert Punk, and he does become truly unlikable at times. I noticed with happened more when he had his mask off. Man, I wish his face had never been revealed. His cool helmet is kinda false advertisement, cause he hardly wears it. My least favorite version of him was when he kidnaps the big-boobed Junko and holds her hostage until she agrees to sleep with him. I mean, Junko’s also a bad person, but who does that!? It makes sense why Desert Punk is given a kid sidekick. Some may find her annoying, but she helps soften some of Desert Punk’s actions. Like the ending (ah, spoilers I guess), where Punk “betrays” his friends. But let’s be honest, his “friends” kidnapped him and forced him to help their cause. They don’t like him, and he don’t like them. The only person he offered to help was his apprentice, which is why she’s pivotal to the story (I mean, he still left her to die earlier, and tried to kill her a few scenes before, but like I said, he’s a jackass).

Watch it?: Maybe just the first 12 episodes (4/5)

MVP: Desert Punk

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He is truly dead inside. It’s hilarious.

Best Episode: Ep.1 “Demon and Boobs (The Demon and The Double D’s)” (a no faced pervert, perfect)

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Bamboo Blade

Type: It. Gets. Interesting.

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Synopsis: No internet image searches! No! You will not make this about boobs! You will not. This is about a girls Kendo team, dammit! Five girls. One’s super good and into power rangers. There’s two boys on the side and one down on his luck Teacher. And that’s it!

Pros: So yeah, this is a sports anime. I’ll tell you this about watching sports anime, they really like to show the actual sport in it. Sometimes, this is hit or miss for me. I really liked the team building part of sports anime, the stuff that happens outside the ring/field/course. Game day thought, not so much. So imagine my surprise when I found myself getting excited over these totally fictitious and predetermined Kendo matches. The matches you really need to watch out for are Tamaki’s and Miya’s, the strongest and weakest members of the team. Tamaki’s matches are interesting because her dedication towards Kendo and refusing to lose contrast nicely with her normally quiet demeanor. On the other hand, Miya’s the most inexperienced member of the team, so watching her growth was absorbing. Plus, Miya’s secret “evil” personality and lovy-dovy relationship with the cartoonish Danjuro were my favorite parts of the show (particularly when Donny explains why his girls is fly using American slang).

Cons: This is a sports anime, so, ah, expect sports stuff. Specifically, expect a lot of Kendo matches, practices, and sparring matches. I know that some anime use sports as a backdrop for the plot, but Bamboo Blade is a capital S Sports anime. In fact, aside from Tamaki and Miya, you don’t really get to know much about the other member’s lives outside of the club. Sure, each member has a basic backstory involving grades, or relatives, but they never get more than a superficial episode or two. Which is a shame, because I found myself really having fun with this batch of team members. Except for the teacher. I could have done with a lot less teacher drama. He was a downer. I also found the show tonenally unbalanced. For the most part, Bamboo Blade is a comedy, but it throws in light-drama, like one time rivals or team members that may or may not join, the kind of stuff an actual Kendo team may be worried about, but not the end of the world.

Watch it?: It got me to care at the end (3/5)

MVP: Miya-Miya and Donny

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I wish this was just the Miya and Donny show!

Best Episode: Ep.19 “The Armadillo and the Pangolin” (“Don’t Speak, or I’ll fall for you even harder”)

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Special A

Type: Not to be confused with Abnormal B or Strange C

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Synopsis: Hikari Hanazono is the 2nd Best in the World in the PHA, which I assume stands for the Pacific Headlock-Wrestling Association. Her only real competition is Kei “Nature Boy” Takishima, whom she has never beaten in a big match situation. She had thus become obsessed with gaining what I again assume is a pin-fall or submission victory over him. Before we get to that, however, we have to contend with the other top 5 contenders, or “Special A,” consisting of Psycho Jun, Miss Megumi, Tornado Tadashi, Akira “The Snake” Toudou, and Sin Ryu.

Pros: This show has some pretty solid gags. I especially liked Hikari’s reactions whenever she loses to Takishima and Takishima’s own jealousy/annoyance towards Hikari’s denseness. I’d say the show is at it’s best when it’s trying to be funny with each of the character’s unique foibles. I could have done with way more “Inner Jun” stories. I also liked the pairings that each character eventually get into, and wish they had been introduced way earlier in the series. The comedic potential of these people trying to figure out how to date each other is staggering. In fact, any anime about two people trying to figure out the mechanics of dating sounds enticing.

Cons: Nothing this show does will surprise you. It’s fairly generic and in-line with most romantic high school comedies targeted at girls. Some of the boys are even prettier than the girls. You can gloss over most of the anime without missing much. The show doesn’t distribute it’s attention evenly, putting a disproportionate amount of time on Akira. Just because she’s the only other girl that can talk is not an excuse. I had a bit of a hard time sympathizing with the “Special A” rich people classroom, though to the show’s credit, it does address this fact in the very first episode. As I said above, I would much rather watch a show about 7 weirdo’s love lives rather than a show about rich people having tea in a green house.

Watch it?: If you’ve never watched a High School Love-Comedy aimed at Girls, this is a good place to start. (3/5)

MVP: Hikari Hanazono

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Hakari-Mania is Running Wild!

Best Episode: Ep. 11 “Boyfriend-Girlfriend” and Ep. 19 “Singing Voice-Bad Guy” (It should have been just this)

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Corpse Princess: Aka

Type: Submachine Gun Zombie

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Synopsis: The dead are walking among us in the form of cute girls with the shortest skirts imaginable. It was either that, or returns are crazy ghosts who like to kill people. These “Corpse Princesses” all work for a secret Buddhist cult, and one of the members happens to have a brother named Ouri. He’s our super uncool protagonist, as shown by the fact that he does not have a super pretty zombie girl that can fight his battles for him.

Pros: I’m a sucker for ghost stories, and the early part of the season was basically a “case of the week” style show, with lead Corpse Princess Makina gunning down different ghosts/zombies called “Corpses.” Her constantly pissed off demeanor was a somewhat refreshing change of pace. All the corpses where grotesque and disturbing, exactly what we’ve all come to expect from a Japanese horror show. As the show progresses, more attention is shifted to the actual Corpse Princesses themselves, which was also very interesting. A few of them turn out to be pretty tragic figures, so your left wondering how and why each individual Corpse Princess became the way the are.

Cons: While the corpse fighting was cool, and the Corpse Princesses where intriguing, the actual plot was very underwhelming. Nothing really enticing. Most of this season was just an introduction of the main concepts of the series, proven by the fact that the last episode was a 20-minute recap of every event and concept so far. It should also be pointed out that while the Corpse Princesses where interesting, their Monk partners were not, even Keisei. The inner working of the Buddhist cult seems like something that will be explored later on. The animation also seemed to fluxuate in terms of quality and style. Lastely, the protagonist Ouri often came off as too soft and naive, though this admittedly made him a good medium for the audience.

Watch it?: It’s good if your in the mood for ghost/zombie fighting (2/5)

MVP: Minai Ruo

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Punching zombies is way cooler than shooting them

Best Episode: Ep. 8 “Serenity” (damn girl)

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Chaos;Head

Type: Delusional

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Synopsis:…..something to do with…..something. I think it was like….reality, or maybe mental illness. There’s this nerd right? And one day he walks in on a murder. Then all these different girls with swords show up, and sometimes they want to date him, or kill him, or both. Then this evil Corporation shows up. But we’re never really sure, because the nerd may be schizophrenic. It’s all very confusing.

Pros: One thing that Chaos;Head should be praised is for it’s protagonist Takumi’s voice actor. Takumi’s voice ranged perfectly from calm to frantic, without ever seeming to lose it’s core character. You believe Takumi’s anxious reactions to the extraordinary things happening around him. Even though he’s a coward, you end up sympathizing with him because you can imagine reacting the same way. Takumi was the crucial human element in this admittedly bizarre show. I also very much appreciated the recaps at the start of the show. I wish more dramas did that.

Cons: Chaos;Head is confusing. It plays with the premise of reality, and the idea that reality exists because you believe reality exists. But it doesn’t handle this central idea in a satisfying manner. Instead of making us question whether or not everything is just happening in Takumi’s head, it confirms very early on that delusions are real, and are basically like a superpower. No great psychological mystery here. Just another anime involving crazy psychic stuff. It throws together a story involving an evil corporation and girls that use psychic swords without any real explanation as to how or why.

Watch it?: If you value your sanity, I say skip it (2/5)

MVP: Takumi Nishijo

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Dream Boy

Best Episode: Ep.9 “Rejection” (childhood math is heavy stuff)

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Spice and Wolf (Season 1 & 2)

Type: Medieval Economics 101

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Synopsis: A merchant named Kraft Lawrence accidentally becomes the tour guide of a wolf spirit named Holo. He promises to take her to her home in the north. In exchange, he gets to travel with a cute girl whose superhuman senses gives him an edge in trading. Even so, Lawrence’s ineptitude as a merchant gets them into trouble on numerous occasions. Seriously, he’s not very good at what he does. Its like he was running a bank or something.

Pros: I really like what the show did with the relationship between Lawrence and Holo. From their silly banter, to their more intimate moments, you really get the sense that these two are close. All too often in anime, a relationship feels too forced and rushed. But in the case of Lawrence and Holo, their relationship is allowed to grow, making their eventual romance feel organic and natural. I especially liked Holo. The show does a good job emphasizing her age through her dialogue and actions, subtly reminding you that she is several hundred years old. She has a confidence that only comes through experience, as well as a sadness from living so long. Quite a compelling character.

Cons: This show can be divided into three parts. The fist part is the relationship between Lawrence and Holo, which I found to be the most entertaining. The second part is the basic plot structure. Every season has two story arcs, each revolving around some sort of business deal that eventually goes bad. The only thing that changes are the characters and details. This part is actually pretty exciting, and the show does a good job building drama and suspense. The last part is detailed financial explanations. The show revolves around a merchant. Thus, it delves deeply, often dedicating entire scenes, into explaining various aspects of trading, from market fluxes, networking, the risk of investing in futures, etc. This was very boring, but it did remind me of Moby Dick, which itself has weirdly detailed explanations of the whailing industry.

Watch it?: If you have the patience, you’ll enjoy it (4/5)

MVP: Holo

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Wise Wolf of Yoitsu

Best Episode: S2, Ep.1-6 The Amati Arc (all of it)

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