Tag Archives: English Dubbed

Dance in the Vampire Bund

Type: “Bund” means embankment or causeway

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Synopsis: Vampires! Creatures of the Night! Children of Satan that will feed on you very blood! They exist! They set up a city off the shore of Tokyo! Their queen is a totally legal blond girl who is regularly naked!

Pros: Despite having a highly sexualized child character as it’s poster child (which we will get to later), the anime is actually a pretty good vampire show. It has the right mix of gore, sex, and style that should appeal to any fans of this sub-genre. The plot also does not mess around. The first episode sets up the vampire city, and the rest of the series deals with the aftermath. The show tries its best to depict the social impact that Vampires would have on society,  like True Blood. But not all vampires want to integrate, leading to conflict with the protagonists,  like True Blood. And there are werewolfs and other magical creatures…like True Blood. OK, so this is the closest you may get to anime True Blood, at least in spirit. You even have a “forbidden” love between a vampire and non-vampire. The vampire in question is Mina Tepes, Queen of the Vampires.  Her physical portrayal aside, I found her to be a fun character to watch. She is portrayed as prideful and regal, but also kind and childish, and at times even cutthroat. Her best moment is her reactions to a command she gives for the benefit of her people. While necessary, she didn’t like it, but never said she regretted it, even if it cost her what she personally wanted the most. She’s a good addition to that weird group of immortal loli characters. (P.s. The animation is helmed by SHAFT, giving the show a stylish look that compliments the vampire mystique).

Cons: OK, so the first episode does this interesting thing where it’s all set during a talk show that discusses the existence of vampires. The show proper doesn’t start until episode 2. It was an interesting approach, but maybe not for everyone. In terms on character, the show seems to reserve it’s interesting character designs to vampires. Most everyone else if fairly generic. There’s also the main character, Akira, who’s about as bland as a piece of bread. His only real interesting moment is when he disagrees with one of Mina’s decisions, which was legitimately great, but everything else he does is boring. The plot…is actually worth watching, with a few factors in the show explained, from the establishment of the Vampire Bund to Mina’s appearance. That’s right, the show actually has an interesting rationale for it’s pedophilia! Not everything is explain, however, as the show has a “read the manga” ending. But it does have 12 solid episodes.

Watch it?: Every episode is named after other vampire media (4/5)

MVP: Mina Tepes

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Heavy is the head that wears the crown

Best Episode: Ep5-7 “Shadow of Vampire,” “From Dusk Till Dawn,” and “Innocent Blood” (characters actually having a disagreement based on personal beliefs and actions, not misunderstanding!)

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Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge

Type: A lot less popular than it should be

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Synopsis: We  were in the arcade late one night when our eyes beheld an eerie sight, for some dudes began to rise and suddenly to our surprise they played Nightstalkers. It was a graveyard smash!

Pros: Poor references to 1960’s parody songs aside, this anime OVA series is based on the Nighstalkers’ video game franchise. That’s right, it’s another anime based on a fighting game review! I’m starting to think I should add a tag for this. Anyway, the anime has 4 episodes, 40 minutes each, with some slight plot elements. The anime follows three pairs: Morrigan and Demitri, Donovan and Anita, and H-Sein Ko and Mei-Ling. The story takes place in a world where the “Dark” has encroached on the Human World, meaning monsters and humans are living together. “Darkstalkers” refer to creatures of the dark. For once, the fighting in this anime based on a fighting game is pretty good, and some of the story elements are interesting. Anita’s story is predictably the most compelling. The anime did it’s job by getting me interested in the series, and making me wonder why this wasn’t more popular. Seriously, its a game were movie monsters fight each other. How was it not all over the 90s!?

Cons: Even at 40 minutes a piece, the story is all over the place. I think they made a mistake trying to build an overarching story across the 4 episodes. The anime worked best when it had spotlight segments, like the one with Bishimon, the haunted samurai armor ghost, or the one with Felicia, the cat girl. Putting so much emphasis on Donovan was a mistake, because he has as much personality as a block of wood. The world itself is interesting enough. You have humans who fight the dark. You have Darkstalkers who are presecuted by humans. And you have characters who a trying to take over the world. But as it stands, you’d be better off picking and choosing what to watch, or skipping it.

Watch it?: Like the game, it has potential, but can’t quite fulfill it (3/5)

MVP: Anita

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She’s eerie, but interesting

Best Episode: Ep1 “Return of the Darkstalkers” (has a zombie in it)

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Escaflowne: A Girl in Gaea (film)

Type: A popular mess

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Synopsis: A girl, who’s kinda a downer to be honest, finds herself in a fantasy land where she happens to be a super special and important Goddess that all the boys have a crush on. To be fair, if she was a he, then he would be a super special and important Warrior that all the girls have a crush on. So no points for originality.

Pros: I chose to watch this movie because whenever older fans of anime (meaning people my age who’s family had money for cable) talk about 90’s anime, there’s always a few names that pop up. Someone will mention Cowboy Bebop, or Evangelion, or Sailor Moon, or DBZ, or this one weird anime called “Escaflowne.” So I decided to give it a shot. Though, in hindsight, I probably should have watched the 1996 anime instead of this 2000 movie (even though the English anime actually did premiere in 2000 in North America). The movie is very pretty to look at, in that 90’s animation kinda way. The themes of depression and escalation stay more or less consistent throughout the story. And the overall world looks fairly interesting. I was actually thinking that I wouldn’t mind following these characters for more than just a 90 minute movie. (P.S. I watched the English Dub, the Ocean Version I believe, and boy…was that something).

Cons: Condensing a full length anime series into a 90 minutes movie is never a wise idea. The movie treatment works better with story arcs that have a more consistent beginning, middle, and end. As such, I often found myself feeling rushed while watching this movie. No character is really allowed to breath. For example, the protagonist Hitomi’s character arc is that she’s suffering from depression, which is only alleviated after she visits a new world and gets a purpose (and also meets a cute boy that solves all her problems, but that’s a separate issue). But the movie didn’t really have enough time to explore this properly, so to me Hitomi was just an angsty teen who felt “alone,” despite not really having any external forces weighing her down and showing evidence being pretty sociable. Then there’s her relationship with Van, the would be Dragon King, which goes from indifference to eternal love in the span of a quick fight scene. Not to mention all the supporting characters that I’m struggling to remember because they don’t really do anything. What all this boils down to is the realization the film version was probably not the best way to experience the Escaflowne story.

Watch it?: Find the anime instead

MVP: Lord Folken

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Now his nihilism I could understand. Being passed over as King would suck.

Best Moment: The characters faces (they look so weird up close)

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Golden Boy

Type: Very Educational

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Synopsis: In this show that’s kinda porn, but not really, but still really close–I mean, you probably wouldn’t watch this in the office. But you probably shouldn’t be watching any anime in the office. Get back to work!– a guy whose basically a Temp helps various women by being a pathetic perv who’s a quick study.

Pros: The anime’s biggest strength is it’s serialized format. Each story is a stand alone tale about Kintaro meeting a woman at work, driving them away with his sick fetishes, but secretly helping them in a way that makes each woman fall in love with him. Most of the humor is based on sex jokes, as Kintaro has a very active libido. I watched the English dub, and Kintaro’s actor plays him very over the top. Even after seeing Kintaro save the day with his mary-sue like ability to learn, he still comes off as a weird loser in the next story. But his desire to learn about the world is admirable, and his positive personality does grow on you. And while the show is very fan service heavy, it is not pornographic, per say. The closest is probably episode 4, involving a woman and her motorcycle, which puts it under the category of a soft sore skin flix more than anything.

Cons: Kintaro’s toilet fetish. I don’t get it. People poop there man. But I guess I shouldn’t judge people’s tastes, fictional or otherwise. Other than that, Kintaro can be a little too much to handle at times, and can come off a a creep. And this is a very sex-joke heavy show, with more of the women being drawn as such. And weirdly enough, 4 out of the 6 women that Kintaro helps are condescending women of higher authority or status that are “humbled” by Kintaro’s kindness. I’m not really sure what that says about the author’s thoughts on gender dynamics, given his love for Dominant Women,  but I do know that the later part of the Golder Boy manga gets really philosophical about sex and gender, so….yeah. (p.s. the opening is poor and doesn’t really set up the show).

Watch it: It’s can be fun, but know what your getting into (3/5)

MVP: Kintaro’s voice actor

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Doug Smith, you’ve done it again.

Best Episode: Ep.3 “Danger! The Virgin’s First Love” (the nicest and least sexual episode, which is ironic, considering that this is also the only episode with a sex scene in it)

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Magical Pretty Girl Sammy

Type: Spin-off!

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Synopsis: In the magical world of anime Japan, a pretty girl named Sasami is turned into a pretty magical girl named Sammy in the name of love, justice, and merchandising.

Pros: The Magical Pretty Girl Sammy franchise is a very interesting entry in the surprisingly wide Tenchi Muyo brand. The concept is based on a multiverse story from a CD Drama, which was later adapted into Tenchi Universe, and then into this OVA. The premise is fairly simple: Sasami and everyone in the Tenchi Muyo Universe cast is in a magical girl show. Now for me, I got a kick out of this, as it was yet another way to see the Tenchi English voice cast strut their stuff. And I do generally enjoy when an established anime experiments with other genres. The jokes are neither here nor there, though I did like the fierce rivalry between Ayeka and Ryoko (even if Ryoko is a lot more forward in this). The best character is probably Pixie Misa, Sasami’s delightfully evil rival. And while this show keeps it fairly light, the moments when Sasami gets serious is pretty cool.

Cons: The show is a 3 episode OVA what doesn’t really have an ending. Now, I looked it up, an apparently the Pretty Sammy brand has two other full length anime, Magical Project S, and the non-canotical Sasami: Magical Girl’s Club. So I would view this OVA as more of a backdoor pilot than anything else. The show is not amazing by any means. It’s got that traditional Tenchi Muyo jank in terms of animation and voice acting, but that’s kinda it’s charm (at least to me). My only real complain is against the show’s attempts to make the 10 year old, 4th grader Sasami “sexy,” or at least more sexual. I can always live without that.

Watch it: Maybe out of curiosity (3/5)

MVP: Pixie Misa

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She loves to double cross everyone!

Best Episode: OVA rules (a.k.a. you decide)

 

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Black Cat

Type: Tries to fit in waaaay too much

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Synopsis: In the most basic terms, this is an B-level anime about a disgruntled government employee who travels around with a bounty hunter and a teenage girl. But honestly, the “main character” is the most uninteresting part. I was way more enthralled by oddly cute story about a father figure taking his charge for ice cream, fireworks, getting her tones of books, and letting her hunt down criminals by utilizing her super soldier abilities. Maybe my tastes are maturing….

Pros: As stated above, this anime is a really fun B-anime. I’d put it right up there with Outlaw Star and Negima!? There are really 2 main plots that run parallel to each other in the anime. The primary plot is about Train, an ex-government assassin who’s on a quest for revenge against the man who killed a girl he kinda, sorta liked. I mean, they only met for, like, 30 minutes combined, but she was being all manic pixie. Boys like that. Train’s rival starts a revolutionary terrorist, “Apostles of the Star,” who drive the main plot. The other plot involves Eve, an artificial life form who’s powers drive the plot of the last arc. But really, the anime is mostly about 3 people going on wacky adventures with one another. That’s when its at its best. Train’s the wacky one, Sven’s the straight man, and Eve’s the deadpan girl. And sometimes they’re joined by Rinslet, a sly con woman. The three had great chemistry, make a great comedic team, and I honestly could have lived with the entire series just being them going on jobs.

Cons: There is actually a lot wrong with Black Cat. The story is rushed. The original manga was 20 volumes. The show is only 24 episodes. That’s practically a volume per episode. The show tries it’s best to cram in as many characters and villains as it can, but most are forgettable. I mean, yeah, Creed’s obsession with Train was unique, but he’s outfit was just too much to take him seriously. And the Apostles and the Numbers aren’t really given enough time individually to establish themselves as credible threats. This is a rare case where the “read the manga” ending would have been better than the “let’s get as many plot points as we can” ending. You never really get a chance to “know” any of these characters. And the English Dub dips in quality one too many times. Train’s story is ultimately uninteresting, and he’s more of a poster boy than compelling protagonist. Eve’s story isn’t as fleshed out as I would have liked it. And Sven isn’t really given an arc at all. He has a quick flashback and that’s it. I liked Rinslet’s addition, but she usually stayed at arms length most of the time. But the most jarring this about watching this show is that ep1-7 feels very removed from the rest of the show. The first seven episodes are the intro arc, which is way more melodramatic and dark than the rest of the show (the first arc is literally all at night). And Train is way more of a emo anime boy than the happy go lucky guy he is later. I would actually not recommend watching ep1-7 first. I would actually watch these between ep10 and 11, or even until ep20. I think this anime would have been truly great if it’s story had been given more episodes to breath.

Watch it?: For all it’s faults, it’s still a fun ride (4/5)

MVP: Sven

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This is an alternate version of Kenji Harima. This is my headcannon now.

Best Episode: Ep.8 “The Sweeping Cat / A Traveling Cat” (adventure!)

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Gun x Sword

Type: On the verge of greatness

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Synopsis: Gun x Sword is about a guy with a sword. Well, it’s not really a “sword” sword. It’s more of a remote control for his Mecha suit. There is a guy with a gun as well, but he only shows up here and there. The anime really should have been called “Gun x Claw” since the protagonist is hunting a man with a metal claw for a hand, like in The Fugitive. Wait–the other protagonist Wendy carries a gun. Is she the “gun” in “Gun x Sword?” That actually makes way more sense. Holy crap, I can’t believe I just figured that out…

Pros: This anime is a very good anime. Yes, that’s the phrase. “Very good.” The premise is simple enough, it’s about a guy named Van hunting down a man with a claw who killed his bride to be. In the first episode, Van meets a girl named Wendy, whose brother was kidnapped by the same man with the claw. For a third of the series, the two set out in some pretty great episodic adventures and eventually tie together at the end, where everyone they meet come together to help Van and Wendy defeat the man with the claw and his crazy schemes. The anime does a good job of hiding “The Claw,” for a good while, and I really liked his depiction. The Claw presented himself as a soft spoken man, but never took the “I’m actually really evil” turn that a lot of villains do, especially when their plans are thwarted. He’s crazy, sure, but he developed a cult of personality around his crazy. The anime is filled with interesting characters, from the con woman Carmen 99, to the El Dorado Five, the SICKEST heroes this side of the Power Rangers. The anime has interesting and fun stories, great characters, and an overall swell plot. It has all the elements of a great series.

Cons: But, Gun x Sword never quiet reaches that apex of greatness. It’s hard to describe why. It doesn’t have that “It” factor. It’s strange, because it has everyone most fans and cranky critics would love. It has episodic, stand alone episodes. A lot of them are parodies, which I loved. It has a connecting narrative that doesn’t overpower the present story being told. It has fun and memorable characters. And it has villains that, that-oh, that’s the problem. It has weak villains. Outside of “The Claw,” the villainous New Original 7 (it makes sense in the anime) aren’t that interesting. You have two little kids who are annoying, especially the boy. You have a rich dude, I guess, who does nothing and dies later. And you have Wendy’s Brother, who got brainwashed way too easily. Van’s friend, who turned out betrayed him to the Claw, was somewhat interesting, but he could only really die given the story. That leaves Fasalina, the Claw’s right hand woman, whose interesting in her devotion to the plan. But honestly, a large part of her appeal is her unique fighting styles, which mixes stripper moves and sticky substances. I’ve never seen that. The main protagonists aren’t that strong either. Wendy can get away from being bland since she’s the audience surrogate, but Van doesn’t have an excuse. Van doesn’t really have an arc outside of “making friends.” He acts the same in episode 1 as he does in episode 25. His lazy gimmick was interesting, as was his violent outburst when The Claw was involved, but I never felt that I go to know him. I would have liked an episode dedicated to just his life as “Van the Drifter” (and no, the flashbacks don’t count). The show’s real strengths are it’s stand alone episodes, which area littered with great supporting characters. The last chunck, which is all plot related, is great because it brings all the characters together, but the villains bring it a bit down. If I was going to compare my feelings for this anime to anything, I think it’d be to Planetes. Both are anime that are of solid quality, but it just doesn’t reach the levels of other shows of a similar nature.

Watch it: Again, it’s a good show. I liked it. (4/5)

MVP: El Dorodo Five

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Adios Amigo!

Best Episode: Ep.3 “Heroes One More Time” (most of the episodes are good, but this one has five robots turn into a bigger robot!)

 

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Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie [Fighting Game Week]

Type: An actual good movie!

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Synopsis: Col. William Guile, one of the greatest martial artists in the world, travels the global tournament circuit, using it to conceal his top secret mission as leader of an elite group of top secret international street fighters known only by their codename, Street Fighters! Wait, oh crap! Wrong one….Eh, close enough.

Pros: My long journey is over. I finally found a good adaptation of a fighting game. To tell the truth, I probably should have started here. Street Fighter II is an adaptation of Street Fighter II. You know, the fighting game that revolutionized the industry and basically gave birth to an entire sub genre? This film actually treats its source material with respect, FINALLY delivering great fighting scenes. The animation is on point, and so is the story. Basically, this evil tyrant called Bison is collecting powerful fighters, targeting two martial artists named Ryu and Ken specifically, while Interpol agent Chun-Li and Air Force Captain Guile try to hunt Bison down. The film does an admirable job cutting between the Ryu/Ken and Chun-Li/Guile pairings. But the best thing about this film is that is actually feels like a film instead of a game tie-in. Hilariously, the film ends with a ad for the Street Fighter movie made in America, and I kinda hope that part of the reasons this movie is so good was to spite the US live action version (though that film is a definite so-bad-its-good entry).

Cons: From a fan’s perspective, maybe some of the characters are slightly off character. Like, I don’t think T.Hawk is that eager for fight. But all the Street Fighter 2 casts are included, even if they came varying lengths in cameos. Now, let’s all be real here. One of the reasons this movie is so famous, aside form it’s quality, is because of the full frontal shower scene involving Chun-Li. And while I would argue that his is a bit gratuitous, it’s actually done for a stylistic reason. It’s set up as an omage to classic horror/suspense films, with Vega as the “slasher.”

Watch it?: If your going to watch any fighting game movie, make it this one.

MVP: Chin Li

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I liked her delightful nature

Best Moment: Chun Li sitting on Guile’s car (Guile almost ran her over!)

 

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Street Fighter Alpha: Generations [Fighting Game Week]

Type: Prequel to a Sequel

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Synopsis: Ok, look, here Ryu’s basic backstory. Ryu was raised by a martial artist named Gouken, whose brother killed their master after succumbing to the “Dark Hado,” or killing intent. When Ryu was around 23, Gouken was killed by his brother. Enraged, Ryu fought the evil Gouki (or Akuma), but lost, as he tapped into the Dark Hado as well. Intrigued, Gouki lets Ryu live so he can grow into a worthier challenger. Ryu, ashamed at his lose and confused about the Dark Hado, goes on a world journey to find other strong fighters and finds his own strength. Eventually, he is able to overcome the Dark Hado through the Power of Nothingness, finally defeating his own weaknesses. This movie, yeah, doesn’t really cover any of that.

Pros: I really liked the animation style used in this. It was a little muted, but the action was perfect. It was able to portray the energy that Street Fighter matches deserve. The story was alright, as the Ryu-Akuma story is probably the most straight forward story in the Street Fighter franchise. Nothing about over the top evil organizations here. Sakura makes an appearance, which was neat. Always fun to have her around.

Cons: While I found it muted, others may find the animation and quieter moments a little dour. And the story is strictly non-cannon. Just take the fact that Ryu wears street clothes as all the evidence you need. The core story remains the same. Gouki killed his master and brother. He wants to fight Ryu. Ryu struggles to control the Dark Hado inside him. But the details are changed. The Dark Hado is now a blood line technique instead of a side effect of training. Ken does not appear until the very end. It’s implied that Gouki is Ryu’s father (which, to be fair, has been a long standing fan theory). Oh, and Ryu beats Gouki. That’s something. Street Fighter fans will probably be annoyed, and normal viewers will probably find this pretty to look at. (And honestly? This is probably the most understandable Street Fighter anime to date).

Watch it?: Completely Optional.

MVP: The Animation

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Damn, they looked good to me.

Best Moment: Sakura vs Ryu (we fight, to find that answer!)

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Tekken: The Motion Picture [Fighting Game Week]

Type: So. Not. Cannon.

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Synopsis: Kazuya Mashima has a blood feud against his father, Heihachi Mashima, for throwing him off a cliff when he was a little kid. This is the plot for Tekken 1. This plot, ah, this plot does not stay consistent in our little “motion picture,” which throws in Cyborgs, Kangaroos, Hong Kong PD, and killer dinosaurs, who aren’t suppose to show up until Tekken 2! (Tekken is kinda a weird series).

Pros: Full disclosure-I am a huge Tekken fan. It’s my main fighting game series. I’ve played every entry, (though I played Tekken 6 on the psp). I still remember getting Tekken 3 and discovering that you have to block in a fighting game. So personally, it was a hoot noting all the glaring plot errors in this. Everyone else though…..

Cons: From a strict anime/film stand point, this thing is a mess: They try to mash Tekken 1 and 2 together, making Jun Kazama and Kazuya Mishima childhood friends. Setting the entire Iron First Tournament in a Battle Royal like island. A Sloppy story with truly cheap animation. The dialogue is laughable at best. Who approved this? Who saw this and said, “yeah, that’s a good idea. Let’s sale that.” This was released at the end of 1997, with Tekken 3 having been released a few months before in arcades, with a home release the following year. So maybe this was released to catch everyone up on the Tekken story? (Which makes no sense now that I think about it, because Tekken 3 is largely a soft-reboot of the series). I just cannot fathom why this was made so poorly. Because Tekken has a reputation as one of the most cinematic fighting game series in the industry. That’s part of why I fell in love with it. But this, this was embarrassing.

Watch it: Just go on Youtube and watch the victory cinematics.

MVP: No

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No.

Best Moment: No. (No)

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