A fan blog devoted to my reviews of recent Anime that I have had the pleasure of viewing, mostly via Netflix rentals. Some limited coverage of Manga, and even more limited coverage of Western animation.
Been on a bit of a SLAYERS binge lately, having recently concluded Slayers: Evolution-R and also ordering and watching the 5 prequel Slayers movies originally dubbed and distributed by ADV Films. Last night I finished the 3-OVA disc
Slayers: The Book of Spells. I have only one more disc, Slayers: Excellent to conclude tonight. One of the last of the prequel movies, Slayers: Premium reunites Lina with her regular television series travel companions, Gourry (voiced by Chris Patton), Naga’s idealistic little sister Amelia (voiced by Luci Christian), and Zelgadis (voiced by a returning Crispin Freeman), with Xellos making a brief appearance as well. Only 30-some-odd minutes long, this movie has the best animation of the lot, incorporating CG elements for the first time, including a very arresting “bullet time” sequence with Gourry jumping and swinging his legendary Sword of Light in a wide arc to devastating effect. Young Lina is still voiced by Cynthia Martinez, but her costume has evolved over time to look like she does in the regular TV episodes. Slightly older Lina is voiced by Lisa Ortiz, and slightly older Amelia is voiced by Veronica Taylor in the television series. Lina’s original travel companion and sometime rival, the bombastic Naga the Serpent, makes a brief cameo in Slayers: Premium then does not resurface again until possibly Slayers: Evolution-R, where it is speculated that the intelligent suit of armor with the soul trapped inside, going by the name of Nama, is in fact, Naga.
Slayers is a classic anime and I really like the “updated” look of Slayers: Revolution and Slayers: Evolution-R. It’s great to hear the original cast back together, still faithfully bringing their characters to life one last time. It is the most recent iteration of the Slayers grand narrative of which I’m aware, and has an emotionally satisfying finish. It’s an acquired taste and many fans do not like the English dub. For me, I appreciate the utterly cheesy nature of the dubbed version. Lina can be grating on the ears and rather annoying but she also makes me laugh out loud because she’s basically the embodiment of every obnoxious RPG “power gamer” ever. Flawed as she is, Lina is a paragon of virtue next to Naga the Serpent, who is buxom, beautiful, with long brunette hair and has a piercing, haughty laugh that echoes for miles. She’s every bit Lina’s rival as a spellcaster. Luckily for Lina, Naga is also vain, greedy, and kind of stupid. These vices are often her undoing over the course of several of the prequel movies. I appreciate equally the performances of Cynthia Martinez (young Lina) and Lisa Ortiz (older Lina). I happen to think the spell incantation of Dragon Slave in the television series is a good deal more poetic and beautiful than the version uttered in the prequel movies.
After I wrap up Slayers: Excellent, I plan to dive back into Record of Lodoss War (OVAs), picking up where I left off, at the start of disc B. As with the Slayers franchise, you can definitely suss out the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons roots of this show. Ms. Lisa Ortiz reappears, performing in a more restrained and understated way as Deedlit, the Elvish fighter-magic user. While Slayers is an action-comedy, Record of Lodoss War is a more sober drama. Once I conclude the original OVAs, it’s on to the 27 episode television series of the same name, which takes place later in time than the events of the original OVAs. Record of Lodoss War is an old CPM/US Manga Corps title and you can tell from the DVD main menu that standardization had not yet set in, as the layout differs markedly from a standard DVD one would access today from FUNimation or Sentai Filmworks. I do hope that Sentai Filmworks will license-rescue and re-release the original Slayers prequel movies and related OVAs, since all are out of print. FUNimation has licensed and re-released the original television series of course, but the fate of the prequel movies remain in limbo as of this writing.
So I hear that Eureka Seven AO gets a lot of hate in some quarters from fans of the original series who feel like it betrays or lessens the original series' message, impact, etc. And I do get where that's coming from, to a certain extent. Firstly, Eureka Seven Astral Ocean is *confusing*; it takes awhile to reconcile two undeniable facts. Yes, Ao is Eureka's son and Renton is his father. And yes, Ao lives on a near future Okinawa, which has only recently declared independence from Japan. And all of this is in the distant PAST of Earth as we knew it in the original series timeline, which didn't reveal its taking place on Earth in the far flung future until very late in the series. There's a lot of time travel and inter-dimensional jumping around that is rather hard to follow and takes awhile to sort out. Add to that the fact that Ao comes to possess a special gun for his Nirvash that instead of destroying its target like a beam weapon, instead randomly jumps to a reset timeline somewhere else in the space/time continuum.
Whereas the end of the original Eureka Seven left one hopeful that Humans and Coralians, i.e. Scub Coral would find a way to co-exist, in Eureka Seven AO, once the Scub Corals discover inter-dimensional travel, they resume their slow conquest of space-time, using this as a means to escape and evade the "Limitation of Questions" dilemma posed in the original series. Eureka and Renton have made it their mission to stop the Scubs' plan of conquest across the dimensions, the result of which first sends Eureka hurtling back in time to the mid 21st century, where she gives birth to Ao. She then gets stuck in a time loop that Ao and Renton have to find a way to fix somehow.
Our star-crossed family is reunited briefly in an emotionally rewarding moment...Mother Eureka, Father Renton, and son Ao. Ao uses his special trans-dimension gun one last time to re-unite his parents and to send himself hurtling into yet another brand new reality on Earth where probably nobody remembers who he is; But he embraces this fate willingly and concludes the series ready for new adventures. Eureka Seven Astral Ocean is markedly shorter and a bit more melancholy than Eureka Seven. But it's a respectably good sci-fi action series in any case. I suppose it could stand alone, but obviously you can't fully appreciate it without having seen the original Eureka Seven. Do be sure to listen to the special features with the commentaries by Stephanie Sheh and Johnny Yong Bosch who reflect on coming back to reprise their roles as Eureka and Renton, as well as Micah Solusod reflecting on how he studied the original show to get a feel for how to play Ao, and the happy coincidence of the similarities between Johnny's voice performance and Micah's, which makes sense thematically for this father-and-son duo. I'm glad I went back to re-watch Eureka Seven and I'm glad I followed that up by marathoning Eureka Seven Astral Ocean directly on the heels of re-watching the original show. I felt so inspired I went out and acquired an Eureka figurine to celebrate.
The visuals are amazing, it is worth watching & owning on Blu-Ray, though it's even more painfully obvious in Eureka Seven Astral Ocean how much the series shamelessly steals from Neon Genesis Evangelion even more so than the original series did.
So I got to attend Delta H Con this year. I have to say that when you're used to a larger con like Oni-Con or Anime Matsuri, downshifting to a smaller con like Delta H....is a recipe for disappointment. The dealer's room was a fraction of the size of even Oni-Con's dealer room in the Galveston Island Convention Center. The selection was much more limited and the figurine prices were on par with Anime Matsuri in the bad old days, e.g. Highway Robbery. That said, I did walk away with a single figurine that was moderately reasonable in terms of price, namely Sinon from SAO II, voiced by Michelle Ruff in the English dub on Toonami.
According to the vendor who sold her to me, she was originally a figure whose container was designed to be sold from a vending machine in Japan. The gun and stand are actually sold separately in Japan. I didn't like not being able to have Sinon with her iconic sniper rifle, but the figure he had of her posed with said rifle was over $100 and I was unwilling to spend that much. Sinon is my favorite character of the entire SAO franchise so just having her was more important. She can stand up on her own, but it's a careful balancing act, and I have her propped up a bit in this photo so she's steady.
I basically went to Delta H Con so that I could show my friend Frank around who loves anime, especially Naruto, but has never ever been to an anime convention before. We hung out all day dividing our time between artist's alley, the dealer's room, and the gaming hall. We ate out for dinner at a local Asian fusion place. We topped off the evening by attending a live performance of two geeky bands, Otaku Accoustic and the solo artist Sugar Joiko. Then the clock struck midnight (well, 11pm) and it was time to retire back to Sugar Land where we watched an episode of SAO Unabridged on YouTube, then raided my DVD collection to watch an episode of Tweeny Witches, then continued watching Log Horizon on Blu-Ray. I had fun getting the permission of Cosplayers to photograph them and they always obliged and I always thanked them. BUT, I've been regretting carrying around my heavy Canon Rebel SLR camera around my neck for close to 11 hours straight. I'm still hurting in the neck and shoulders area this long after. But it was worth it to show my friend his first anime convention and I think he enjoyed it. It also made me more excited than ever for Oni-Con this year down in Galveston. I got new tires for my car just today and am so ready for the Halloween road trip down to Galveston Island this year....we're staying through Sunday night and checking out Monday morning for the full convention experience. I loved last year but I hated feeling so rushed on Sunday morning to check out and get the heck out of dodge. Now I'll be able to properly enjoy the last day of the con and the panels planned for those days and maybe get some last minute steals in the dealer's room and/or artist's alley. I'm also eager to show off my new Star Trek TNG cosplay, mixed in with my ST: TOS cosplay. Gonna be fun.
English: Monty Oum at the Penny Arcade Expo East 2010 in Boston, MA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is pretty much a straight up narration of the press release posted to the Rooster Teeth website a few days ago, with original intro and outro narration written by yours truly. Here I press Emma (UK) and Grace (Australia) into service to do the narration, in response to RT's call to "do something creative" to honor Monty's untimely passing at age 33. This one's for you, Monty.
Fuji MS 100/1000 Cross Processed LC-A+RL A trip up to the Alamo Drafthouse Lake Creek for a showing of "Everyting is Terrible- The Movie". The Sunset on the way in. My Double Exposure Tips Part I My Double Exposure Tips Part II (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It's a bit late, but here's the rest of the schedule, narrated. Love, Chunibuyo and other Delusions was really damn awesome.
Just got back from a special screening of the anime feature film Expelled from Paradise which features 3DCG technology. It looks very smooth, nearly like hand-drawn animation, but it is all CG and visually brilliant. Think Knights of Sidonia, only even better with respect to its visuals.
This anime not only looks really good, but it's a solid sci-fi story to boot. It's a bit of a slow burn leading to some high concept Sci Fi leading to plot complications, conflict, and good old Anime mech battle badassness. The trailer did NOT prepare me for what was to come. The beginning reminds me of Sword Art Online, and it was disorienting as I hadn't expected such an opening.
I was very lucky to attend this screening, which is apparently a world-wide premiere taking place only shortly after this film's release in Japan, so of course this was a subtitled show, which I didn't mind. In fact, there is so much if it that revolves around singing and music that I'd be very surprised indeed if this anime even gets considered for an English dub, as music rights is always a formidable hurdle, and they'd have to pick thematically appropriate songs, too.
The screenplay was by Gen Urobuchi and I was definitely pleased with the writing of this show. It's got solid Sci Fi elements in it, and reminds me a bit of the Utopian/Dystopian visions of Psycho Pass, which Gen Urobuchi was associated with for season 1. He's also the creative mind behind Fate/Zero, the prequel toFate/Stay Night.
It was also a nice night out to meet up with my friends and fellow Aspies, S.R. and F.M. It was the first time in several months we've managed to all hang out together. We even had some good discussion after the movie, too, and managed some catching up chit-chat before the film, too. All in all, I give Expelled from Paradise a big thumbs up for story and for its visual appeal. Definitely a worthy film.
Mari Shimazaki tried to make the witch Bayonetta more appealing with longer limbs and adjusted proportions. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was expecting to write this post telling readers all about Episodes 1-4 of The Devil Is A Part Time, but instead our host Rommel S. pulled a switcheroo on us and treated us instead to an exclusive advanced screening of the new Bayonetta movie!! While I was looking forward to The Devil Is A Part Timer, it is in fact screening WITH the English dub on Netflix as of this writing. So I can watch it anytime, in fact. Currently I'm back to watching Fairy Tail, and I'm also part-way through Psycho-Pass. I was pleasantly surprised to get to watch Bayonetta this evening, having only just today heard it talked about on the most recent episode of ANNCast with Zac & Justin. Apparently FUNimation was very flexible with this production and went out of their way to call back the original voice actors from the original SEGA video game, including sending the ADR Director to the UK to track down the English voice actor for Bayonetta and record her dialogue at a sound studio in England, conducted over the course of 12 days. I was very impressed with the visuals of this movie, which is non-stop action, never a dull moment. I have no experience with the video game or its fictional world, but the movie does a decent job of exposition via dialogue that I caught on fairly quickly who the principle players were, etc. I never once felt confused or disoriented. The "angels" of this world reminded me in passing of the menancing nature of the "angels" of Neon Genesis Evangelion, and to a lesser degree some of the visual motifs of RaXephon, as well. I was unclear if Witch Jean was intended to be a nodding reference to Jean D'Arc (Joan of Arc) or if that nomenclature was merely coincidence.
This is a definite Blu-Ray collectors' item, if nothing else for the intense battle sequences alone, of which this movie delivers in spades. Unlike the Blood C movie, which had serious pacing problems, the pacing in Bayonetta moves along at an even clip with no drag whatsoever. It feels like watching a successful play-through of a medium sized video game. The story is ostensibly set on earth, but the countries are fictional and it also takes place partly in certain terra incognitae astral realms outside of normal space-time. The angels are invisible to ordinary humans but can wreak havoc on the physical world nonetheless.
It's difficult to really talk about this film without spoiling it; those that know the videogame already know the story. I came into the theater a blank slate and was reasonably entertained by the spectacle. It is rated TV-MA but mostly for the graphic violence and some of the heavy sexual overtones and fanservice, but there's very little in the way of overt nudity. It's provocatively sexy but hardly "smutty". Bayonetta as a character is larger than life and over the top. She's an unruly demigod with a strong will of her own. The entire movie is basically watching Bayonetta kick ass, over and over again. My only criticism of the movie is that Bayonetta is basically female Superman who never has to confront any metaphorical "kryptonite". She never suffers, never endures any defeats or setbacks. She's perhaps a little too perfect as a cinematic hero. I like to see my heroes and heroines suffer and struggle a little on the way to attaining their goal. I suppose one could argue that in her past she knew defeat and suffering, but we only get that in glimpses and flashbacks. Again, it's damn impressive in its visuals, and it's nearly enough to bamboozle the audience into overlooking Bayonetta's indestructability and lack of empathy for nearly any of the other characters. The ADR script was witty, with plenty of amusing one-liners that provoked laughter in the audience tonight. I would definitely re-watch this movie, and it piqued my interest in the videogame franchise as well.
My thanks to our host R.S. once more for securing this special advance screening for us at Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park in Katy, Texas.
So not much to report insofar as completed shows, but I am impressed with some of the new(ish) anime that's been uploaded and added to Netflix lately, including the English dub of the acclaimed series Madoka Magica. I also started in watching Deadman Wonderland on Netflix. While I do own it on DVD, now I can watch episodes at lunch on my phone when the opportunity presents itself. Of late I tend to watch an episode or two of Deadman Wonderlandbefore I move on to watch another episode or two of Psycho-Pass. They fit well together thematically and tonally. I usually reach a good stopping point in each show then transition to watching something else, like continuing my re-watch of Knights of Sidonia in Spanish for the hell of it. I also note that Season 2 of Samurai Jack is now on Netflix streaming, so I've resumed watching that as well. Though I'm pretty sure I saw most of this show when it aired on TV, every now and then I stumble upon an episode that's new to me, but even when it's a re-watch, it's hardly a waste of time--it's still good to re-visit old episodes of this classic cartoon. I've also been checking out the re-dub of the original Sailor Moon on Neon Alley. I had thought it was Sailor Moon Crystalbut evidently not. I had known that VIZ/BangZoom! had re-dubbed the original Sailor Moonto re-release on DVD; the new dub is more faithful to the Japanese original and not censored for U.S. television, etc. I recognize a lot of the BangZoom! voice talents in the cast, like Stephanie Sheh as Usagi/Sailor Moon and Michelle Ruff as the magical cat Luna. Todd Haberkorn voices one of the bad guys, and I'm almost certain I've heard Johnny Yong Bosch at least once already. I never watched the original SailorMoon (I'm not in the target demographic), but the new dub on Neon Alley is mildly entertaining & amusing. I'm not rushing to finish it, I only watch maybe one maybe two episodes in any one sitting. Plus I have to sit through advertising, which is kind of a drag.
I've put on hiatus my two Crackle.com shows, Ruroni Kenshin and Viper's Creed because there's so much quality stuff back on Netflix now to watch instead. Once I'm finished with Psycho-Pass and Deadman Wonderland, I intend to resume watching those Crackle.com shows and maybe get caught up on some of the Sentai Filmworks shows I can only watch on DVD that I still haven't started or finished, OR, I'll go back to some of the FUNimation shows on their Roku channel that I still need to finish up, like Aquarion EVOL Season 2, and Fairy Tail, to name just two. I also need to finish up Season 2 of Baka & Test.
For the future, I really hope FUNimation will re-release the original Fullmetal Alchemist series on Blu-Ray someday. I own Brotherhood on Blu-Ray and I love it, but I've also seen the original series and love it too, for different reasons. The whole tone & flavor of the original anime is very different. Not superior, just different. I did pick up the Blu-Ray edition of Conqueror of Shamballa, which is tacked on to the *original* Continuity and not the Brotherhood continuity. Also coming up this week I get to attend a screening of the first four episodes of Tamako Market, new from Sentai Filmworks. Then on Thursday this week I'm going to be screening the first few episodes of Princess Jellyfish for a small circle of close friends. I look forward to this very much. I'm also trying to get caught up a little on Attack on Titan (part 2), and I need to get caught up on Space Dandy as well. I need to do that also because I'm way behind on the Toonami Faithful Podcast as well.
In manga, I just finished up volume 2 of Flowers of Evil, which finishes up around where the pivotal Episode 7 leaves off in the anime. I've already put in my Interlibrary Loan request for the next volume. Ditto Knights of Sidonia, which I finished the 2nd volume of this weekend as well. Both manga are published by Vertical.
Speaking of manga, I'm very happy to see that Houston Public Library has enabled its users to now check out short-term loans of digital graphic novels and bona fide manga from VIZ Media, which is frigging amazing. I played with a few volumes and they look great on my iPad. I wish my own home county library district did the same, but alas we're not there yet. I wish Yen Press would partner with this digital library program as well, but as yet they're not yet participating. I can always hope. It only makes sense and should help cut down on piracy of digital manga and give the publisher a revenue stream from library subscriptions and give end users a legitimate way to read their favorite manga digitally on their PC or mobile devices. Kudos to HPL for forging ahead with this, and to VIZ Media for being willing to play ball.
I'm still stuck on Vol.6 of the printed manga for Toradora!, featuring Aisaka Taiga's deadbeat father. I'm also still not very far into Vol.1 of the Haganaimanga. I'll finish these eventually but for right now I prefer reading Flowers of Evil and Knights of Sidonia respectively.
Anyway, that's what I've been up to lately with respect to my anime viewing and my manga reading habits. Not enough to podcast about, but worthy of a quick blog update, more or less.