Tag Archives: English Dubbed

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

Type: Is this a rip-off?

Synopsis: Because this OVA came out in February 1995, while the Ghost in the Shell movie came out in November 1995. BUT, the Ghost in the Shell manga was published in 1989. So I don’t know if Armitage is a omage to the GTS manga, a product of the cyber punk trend in the mid-90’s, or a desperate cash grab at a more popular movie coming out 8 months in the future. Either way, it’s not that memorable.

Pros: Armitage III is a cyber punk story where an android questions what it means to be alive. Super original, I know. The basic story starts with a murder of “The last country singer in the Universe,” who turns out to be a robot. This starts Armitage, a cop and android, down a path of intrigue and philosophical questions of technology and society. This is all pretty by the numbers by now, but what I actually really liked was the setting of this OVA. This story takes place in Mars, where a “Third series” of robots who could give birth were secretly introduced to help with the low birth rate in order to increase the population and make Mars more autonomous from Earth. But then Earth pressured Mars to get rid of the robot women for moralistic and political reasons. Whether these robots who look, act, feel, and can reproduce just like humans deserve this type of treatment is what the anime ask you to decide. That type of political sci-fi is right up my alley.

Cons: I mean, in a world where Ghost in the Shell exists, is this OVA even worth paying attention to? Apparently not, given that I found this anime on Funimation, while Ghost in the Shell got a live action American adaptation starring Scarlet Johansson. So I guess the real winner is Armitage III. The story itself was fascinating, and I loved, loved, LOVED the old school cyber punk animation. But the characters really bring the story down. Armitage’s too cutesy, and Ross is too boring. And the 90’s English dub is…the 90’s English dub. Still, as an artifact of 90’s anime, it’s an interesting watch.

Watch it?: I still haven’t watched Ghost in the Shell! (3/5)

MVP: The backstory

I really should watch Ghost in the Shell

Best Episode: Ep.4 “Bit of Love”  (I’ve just been delaying it so long, it’s starting to get a little awkward).

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The Vision of Escaflowne

Type: That time Isaac Newton was thwarted by a Japanese teenager

Synopsis: And he would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those meddling defiers of fate, and their dumb dragon mecha!

Pros: First off, much better than the movie. In fact, the movie is super bad in comparison. This anime is all about a girl that is wisked away into a new land full of knights, and beastmen, and giant robots. One of the strongest things I can say about it is that it’s all very romantic. I don’t mean “romantic” as in a love story, through that is here, but as in the classical definition. There are chivalrous and handsome knights, byron-esque antagonists, evil Empires, dragons (in a sense), and various kings. It made the anime feel like I was watching a classic adventure story. And since this was made in 1996, it kinda is. The show’s premise is that the protagonists are on the run from the evil Zaibach Empire while going Kingdom to Kingdom trying to convince anyone to help them fight back. Along the way, we explore various aspects of the main and supporting cast, from their past to their presents and futures. The show has strong character exploration and character growth. The anime is a shojo  adventure story. This doesn’t take away from the action. Every episode or two has a fight scene with Escaflowne, the DRAGON MECHA. But it also explore the emotional turmoil each of the characters face from obvious things like losing an entire country, to smaller things, like your crush flirting with other people. What you get as a result is an anime is great action and great character work that I would argue belongs is the pantheon of great 90’s anime, right along side Cowboy Bebop, DBZ, and Evangelion.

Cons: I actually knew nothing about Escaflowne before watching this. I watched the movie too long ago to remember it, and it has very little to do with the actual anime anyway. After a few episodes, I realized that this obviously a shojo story. For instance, Hitomi is a pretty, but not too pretty, high school runner who was working on getting her first kiss before being sent to a magical land by a abrasive, but ultimately caring, prince. Along the way, she also meets a handsome older knight, forming a love triangle. She also develops a friend group where she’s the moderate, not as pretty or naive as Princess Millerna, but also not as cutesy or bratty as Merle. They get into fight over the boys of the series, with Hitomi obviously being the object of jealousy for her friends. And, of course, Hitomi solve’s all her friends problems just by caring, because she’s that good of a friend. It’s all very shojo (or at least very anime, because a male protagonist would get the same deal). But that’s what kept me going. You get to see what every character is feeling after important events, and each main character experiences a character arc, where they aren’t the same person as their first introduction. Well, except maybe Merle…no, even she learns to let Vann go. Because without all the interpersonal drama, this anime would be convoluted and generic. I still have no idea what the hell was going one with the Emperor’s fate alteration machine, or the whole Mystic Moon (Earth) vs. Gaea origins thing. Like, who came first? Was it us or them? The show kinda loses itself in the whole divination angle, but that’s only one aspect of an otherwise amazing show. It’s the kind of show where you could explore every episode by itself. There’s actually a lot more I’d love to delve into (like Allen and Faulken’s story arcs), but I’d rather you watch this show. It’s that good.

Watch it?: One of the few anime I would recommend taking your time on. Don’t binge. Enjoy the ride. It’s worth it. (5/5)

MVP: Allen Schezar

Handsome. Chivalrous. Brave. Skilled. Give him a Doctor’s License and I can bring him to meet my mother.

Best Episode: Ep. 10-13 The Fried Arc (a little bit of everything that makes the show great)

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Dragon Ball Super: Broly

Type: HD Remake

Synopsis: A long time ago, the author of a popular fighting manga made fun of super buff/macho characters to take the wind out of his fanbase. Years later, that same author decides to take on that same character archetype to pad out his retirement fund. The result? A pretty good interpretation all things considered.

Pros: Let’s address the Elephant in the room. Yes, Broly has been a fan favorite ever since his inception. He’s been in every non-anime release for Dragon Ball since his debut movie. And no, I don’t think the original Dragon Ball writers knew exactly why he was so popular, which is why all his subsequent animated portrayals were bad. Just the worst. Remember Bio-Broly? Because I DO. Anyway, in this movie the writers for Dragon Ball Super give something to Broly he was sorely lacking: a personality. You see, the original Broly movie was more of a Pegasus film, with Broly sorta just being there for the fight. But in this, Broly is given his own supporting cast and backstory, while staying true to the original film. The start of the film also works to canonize a few Saiyan story lines into the main continuity. Frieza is there. Bardock is there (and yes, he does the thing). Flippin’ Tarble gets a mention! Later in the movie, the fight between Broly and Goku/Vegeta is set up well enough, and the resolution worked well to protect everyone’s status. And hey, Gogeta joins the fight!

Cons: This movie is far and away better than the original. That being said, no one really explains why Broly is so strong. He just is. This would be find, except that this movie happens after the tournament of power, where Goku and Jiren surpassed the levels of gods with the multiverse at stake. So having some random dude push Goku to his limit created a bit of dissonance. And the fusion stuff reeked of fan service/marketing. Don’t get me wrong, it was cool that Gogera became cannon, but still. The movie also does retcon a few small details from the Story of Bardock, but honestly, it was nothing too controversial. And hey, Goku’s mom is here!

Watch it?: Best Dragon Ball hyperfighting you’ll see

MVP: The first half hour

Someday they will join you in the Sun Kal–I mean Kakarot.

Best Moment: The POV fight segment (I personally liked the early story stuff, but let’s be honest, everyone should watch the POV segment).

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Robot Carnival

Type: Animation showcase

Synopsis: This movie is a collection of animated shorts revolving around robots in some way.

Pros: Since this is a collection of different mini-movies, it’s a little hard to pinpoint what’s good and what’s bad. It all depends on your perspective. But overall, this is a fun little group of experimental films. A lot of the films are also lack a lot of dialogue, so almost everyone can watch this. And if your a fan of robot centric fiction, or films like the AnimeMatrix, then this is the film for you.

Cons: If you need a plot, then this isn’t the film for you. Again, you might end up liking some of the shorts more than others. I personally liked “Star Light Angel” and “Presence.” The films do vary in tone, but most lean towards to dramatic and serious. Don’t go looking for something super funny every ten minutes.

Watch it?: If you got an afternoon to kill, or like animation (4/5)

MVP: Old school animation

It just feels more real, ya know?

Best Moment: The girls having fun in “Star Light Angel” (I thought they were having fun gay times!)

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King of the Hill (April Fools Day Special!)

Type: Slice-of-Life Americana

Synopsis: The anime focuses on a father trying to deal with the asinine world that surrounds him. His son is a well-meaning otoku in training. His niece is a ditzy neet who can’t go home because her “trailer flipped over.” His best friends are a gun nut, a foodie, and a hentai. And his neighbor considers him his rival for some reason. At least he has his wife…who sometimes goes yandere at the prospect of anyone being better than her. It’s a taihen life, I tell ya h’wat.

Pros: The main difference between Japanese anime and American anime is the audience. Anime, in general, tries to appeal to a younger demographic overall, and a younger male demographic specifically. So even anime meant to appeal to “adults” really appeal to 14-35 year olds who share the same mentalities. That’s why most anime characters are under 30 years old. American anime is a lot of stratified. An anime is either for children or adults, no middle ground. So you get shows like Spongebob or Gumball, which are meant for kids ages 5-11, or shows like The Simpsons or Bob’s Burgers, which is meant for people 24-50. That’s why a show like King of the Hill mainly stars adults in their mid-40’s, and deal with mainly adults subjects. No fake adult like stuff like sleeping around or spreading gossip, but real stuff, like infidelity, financial issues, self-identify, raising a family, and propane and propane accessories. King of the Hill’s strength is it’s realist take on absurdity. A situation where one of the characters feels depressed about letting himself go after high school can escalate into the main characters dodging tank missiles during a war game. A feeling of unease in a marriage can wind up with a character falling to her certain death off a plane. You can, and several people probably can, analyze almost every episode of King of the Hill and find multiple topics of substance. Every King of the Hill story could be filmed in live-action, but it reaches its full potential thanks to animation. It’s a satire of American society during the 2000’s, without ever losing respect for the people that had to live through it.

Cons: That’s not to say that King of the Hill is perfect, or that American anime is superior. For one thing, American anime can’t escape the yoke of comedy. Unlike Japanese anime, which explores almost every genre, American anime only deals in humor. Even bleaker shows like Rick and Morty or Moral Orel still are categorized as dark comedies. King of the Hill probably came the closest at dealing with serious issues in a non-condescending way. That being said, it did so because it was never all that wacky or laugh out loud funny. It was expertly written, don’t get me wrong, but it never really penetrated the zeitgeist like other shows. Some characters also verged on annoying, to the point of polarizing the audience. Peggy Hill’s arrogance was funny at first, but then it became obnoxious. Same with Dale’s paranoia and selfishness. Even Hank’s stubbornness became an issue. I remember one late episode where Hank effectively blackmailed his minister to guarantee reserved seating for his family during sermons. What the hell was that!? I would also like to contradict myself a little by pointing out that despite adhering to realism, the show never aged any of the characters and ended up showing at least 4 Christmas episodes and 3 Thanksgiving episodes. I wish we could have seen Bobby transition from middle school to high school, but the show didn’t want to lose Bobby’s voice actress by aging up his voice. The show also tended to forget certain characters in the later season, namely Connie and Luanne, who got less and less screen time in the last 2-3 seasons. However, despite it flaws, it was still one of the few American tv shows, period, that showed a realistic portrayal of a working class family at the time. And whether you noticed it or not, King of the Hill was always there, and a lot of us wished it always would be.

Watch it: Yep. (5/5)

MVP: Hank Hill

“I hope I never make it to L.A.!” (real talk though, he’s probably one of the best example of how positive and negative masculinity can interact in a person).

Best Season: Season 4 (Miss Liz, Connie’s first period, Peggy and Cotton’s therapy, Randy Travis, just a good combination of all time great episodes) (p.s. Hank! There’s a little state between Hollywood and San Francisco called California, come visit! It promise it’s not all Hippies and Buzzfeed!)

 

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