Escaflowne Review

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It’s always a sad day when a franchise is brought back from the grave just to shatter our memories. I’ve always been of the opinion that more content for a franchise is always a good thing even if it’s bad. I’m glad Dragon Ball Super exists even if it mocks most of the principles from DBZ. I’m glad Naruto Shippuden exists even if it’s painfully low budget and has some of the worst directing of all time. I’m even glad that we have Teen Titans Go because it has brought some nice episodes and scenes once in a while. These additions to the franchise may not have been amazing, but they did have their share of great moments which is why I love to see them. However, a film like this one or the latest season of Samurai Jack does sometimes make me question this. Ultimately, my stance hasn’t changed, but it’s always sad when we get a modern gritty remake/reboot/sequel that really just takes away everything that made the original good. Escaflowne is a terrible movie and it will make you feel bad for the TV show. It has animal violence and gratuitous violence at the ready so with that in order, lets tackle this film.

Hitomi was a normal suicidal teenager when the film picks up. Her friend makes a joke about wanting to be there when Hitomi jumps, but little does she know that Hitomi is serious, she just feels like she isn’t brave enough to do it yet. Hitomi decides to vent on her friend since it seems like this is what all terrible main characters do. Already we can see that the film is being randomly edgy for no reason. Why is Hitomi suicidal? This isn’t a good plot point nor is it a necessary one. It’s just a jarring change to her character which was unneeded. Well, one thing leads to another and she is warped to Gaea. There she meets up with Van.

Van is the last survivor of his clan and now he just wants bloody vengeance on everyone in his vicinity. He naturally tries to destroy Hitomi as soon as he sees her, but she is saved by the resistance. No worries, she falls for him anyway right away because this is the perfect start to a romance. Van decides to use the mighty Escaflowne robot to save the day, but it’s a little more twisted in this version. Escaflowne is a robotic vampire which feeds on its hosts so in order to use it, you have to let it stab you and suck your blood. Again, this is a random change that has nothing to do with anything, but it’s an excuse for the film to be more violent and dark once again.

As such, we get to see Van stabbed repeatedly every time he enters the machine and just moving causes him to be stabbed as well. How was this film not R? The whole time I was watching the film, I was super perplexed at that. This film is certainly violent enough to justify the rating if you ask me. Anyway, with these weapons at his disposal, Van is ready for revenge and so the big battles start.

The film made some good changes so we’ll start with those. Allen doesn’t have a very rushed romance with Hitomi here. There is little in the way of romantic tension here at all so that’s a good thing. The Mole Man also gets a much smaller role which I was glad to see since he was an annoying character in the first film. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all that I can think of for the film’s positives, at least when it comes to changes. The film cut out the main villain of the show which was a pretty big mistake. Folken was never a very interesting character after all and I wouldn’t say that he’s great here either.

Wait, there is one good change to the film. I just barely remember that the concept was good because it was mostly just used for more bad scenes. The characters with dragon DNA can use The Force to blast people with telekinetic energy. It’s a pretty exclusive list though since only Folken, Van, and Dilandau have dragon DNA. It’s a cool concept and certainly makes these characters way more difficult to defeat. Of course, the film can’t control itself and one character uses it to blow a Horse apart. Noooooo! That was the worst scene in the film and I knew it was only a matter of time before the film pulled something like that. It was such a cool concept, but the film couldn’t let it rest. Folken also blasts Dilandau so hard with it that the guy’s head comes close to exploding, but that was way more mild in comparison.

You can already tell that I didn’t like Hitomi in this film, but at least Allen was decently good. He’s as overconfident as ever and easily defeats Van when they fight. He doesn’t get a robot in this film though so he’s completely useless whenever the villains show up. It feels like an even more lopsided war than in the show since the villains have all of the advantages. All the heroes have at the ready are allies who keep backstabbing each other. Van’s even more blood thirsty than usual in the film. It’s hard to find him likable since he’s willing to destroy a defenseless lady (Hitomi) for basically no reason and never really apologizes for it. He’s certainly a very skilled warrior here, but not an ally that you can trust.

The film also added a new character for the lolz. She can see the future, teleport people, and do all kinds of crazy stuff. She wants to see Folken burn so she follows him around and makes fun of him from time to time. In the end, she decides that dying will be fun as long as it’s with Folken and her whole character arc was rather odd. Folken wasn’t a bad villain I suppose. He didn’t really stand out, but he made all of the threats and did a lot of posturing so at least he performed his roll. Dilandau somehow got a happy ending out of this and developed a loyal cadre of minions. I guess he wasn’t a mean leader or something? I didn’t get that impression from him to be honest, but that’s the way the ball bounces I guess. A wise leader doesn’t slice and dice his own men so I’ll take that a complement to him from the film.

The animation is pretty good. I’m not a fan of the character designs, but if you’re able to see past them, then you can see that the rest of the animation is on point. While violent, the action scenes are very fluid with the hand to hand action being quite good. The mind blasts between the characters are nice and Escaflowne’s berserker mode is also really good. The soundtrack is a little less inspiring. I’d say that it was decent. It wasn’t bad or underwhelming, but it wasn’t really anything to write home about.

It’s another case of a film succeeding on the technical levels while not being able to uphold its integrity for the main course. The excessive violence the whole time was just very forced. I always consider it to be forced because there are many examples of shows and movies that have great fight scenes without being violent. Many of them can be completely bloodless or adding in a smidge at times. Dragon Ball Z, Toriko, Sengoku Basara, Samurai Jack, (Original show) Justice League, Digimon Savers, etc. So when a fight scene is really violent, I can only really say that it is forced. It’s just the only explanation in my eyes. At least the movie didn’t add a bunch of language, that tactic is even more desperate. If it is true that Shin Godzilla is rated TV-MA because of that…that will just be sad. The animal violence and suicidal themes in Escaflowne were just icing on the cake by the end. The film was already not in a good spot in those issues just didn’t help it.

Overall, Escaflowne was a TV show that absolutely did not need a film remake. While it is preferable to a recap film, it should have been more faithful to the TV show. Diverging to such a large extent is a high risk/high reward option, but it typically ends up failing miserably. The movie still has some interesting storylines going on and the action/animation are good, but they don’t succeed in covering up the film’s failings. This almost goes without saying, but I’d highly recommend just going back and watching the original show if you want to delve into the franchise. There’s no reason to check this film out. Lets just let it fade away into our memories.

Overall 3/10

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Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Review

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Now I can finally be caught up with the main DC films. They’ve been on a solid roll and it’s good to have DC finally reclaim the throne. That being said, it’s not nearly as good as Bad Blood or Justice League vs Titans. Those films did set quite a high bar though and this film is still pretty solid. The action scenes are on point and all of the characters get to show off their skills. Considering that fans had been waiting for this film for around a decade, it was nice for them to finally get a payoff.

The Teen Titans are finally a pretty close knit team. They’ve even got a new member named Terra who is useful for breaking into enemy bases. Nightwing does his best to get back into the swing of things since he left the team for a long time. It looks like he showed up just in time since the assassin Deathstroke has shown up once again and he has his sights set on the Titans. The Justice League aren’t available to help in this round so Nightwing has to put his training to good use and solve this issue on his own.

The film starts off with a decent action sequence as we learn about one of the Teen Titans first missions. At the very least, it was how they first met Starfire and ultimately she would become the leader. I have to say that the old roster may have been a little stronger since they had Kid Flash, but Starfire’s a pretty decent replacement. The actual Titans from that era were fairly unlikable as expected since the film really played up the whole Teens angle. That also ends up hurting the main cast to an extent as well.

The main plot with Deathstroke taking everyone down was a lot of fun though. I was wondering how they would incorporate Deathstroke into the film since he met an untimely demise a while back, but the reason was satisfactory and the most plausible one of the bunch. Fortunately for him, Deathstroke also got a lot stronger and became better at hand to hand combat. He looked so terrible in Son of Batman, but this was a great way to finally treat the character with respect. I’m definitely a Deathstroke fan and his portrayal here was spot on.

Naturally, Terra also gets a big role, but I can’t say that she was likable here at all. I’d actually say that her TV show version was probably better. This one’s subplot with Deathstroke was pretty unnecessary and her “Too tough for everyone” personality didn’t work well. If you want an example of a character who pulled it off, look no further than Damian! Damian’s role here was fairly small since he wasn’t in the comic and the writers didn’t want to upset the fans. Still, he looked good in his brief appearance as he put up a fight against Deathstroke and seemed to be the only member with common sense. I know the Titans are about acceptance and all, but letting in random people with no background checks is extremely risky. Damian’s hunch proved to be correct as it always is.

A minor subplot is how Starfire is worried that the other members treat Nightwing as more of a leader than her. It’s to be expected since he was the leader for a while, but he’s a nice guy and does his best not to usurp her authority. Starfire’s not a bad character and still a big step up from the TV show version. She could be better though. This also wasn’t Nightwing’s best appearance and all of the scenes with him and Starfire typically just slow the film down. He still does well in combat though.

Beast Boy’s still as annoying as ever. There’s no way Terra should fall for him just because he is constantly pestering her. He was basically asking to be betrayed the whole time and it’ll probably be tough for me to ever be a big fan of his. Blue Beetle’s scarab continues to act up and it’ll be fun to see if a film tackles that plot at some point. His subplot was pretty boring though and definitely didn’t need to be in the film. It’s nice of him to help out, but did it have to immediately have to also become a romance subplot? What happened to just having nice co-workers?

Raven gets the smallest role here, but she already had her own film so that makes sense. Unfortunately, she is heavily nerfed as a result. Honestly, the power levels are pretty bad all around here which is a shame since the previous film did pretty good with them. Raven losing to Terra is one of those “I can’t believe that happened” moments and the Titans just ganging up on Brother Blood at the end was also pretty iffy. His powers seemed to magically vanish and suddenly he was getting wrecked by everyone. The only main fight that I was really okay with was Deathstroke taking on Damian and Nightwing since a super soldier serum can definitely make that plausible. Every bit of strength and speed helps a lot in a fight like that.

The animation is definitely sharp as expected. All of the fights are pretty sharp and the character designs on point. DC’s never disappointed in this area though so it’s hardly a surprise at all. Unfortunately, the soundtrack didn’t return from Justice League vs Teen Titans. That one had some really good tunes, but this one went for a more generic ensemble. It wasn’t bad, but I can’t remember a single tune, you’d think that it was a silent film.

Ultimately what holds this one back from being as good as the others is the writing. It’s a little more sub par this time around as it’s a TEEN Titans film as opposed to being a Teen Titans film. There’s a lot of romance and drama everywhere with some rather iffy lines being thrown around. We did get our fair share of superhero action as well, but these elements definitely weakened the film just enough. It also doesn’t help that I’m not a Brother Blood fan and he’s as boring as ever. At least he got a power up so he could actually fight here. Still, you can easily forget that HIVE is in the film and it wouldn’t really change much.

Overall, The Judas Contract is a good film. It’s not as sharply written as the last few films and Raven was nerfed way too hard, but it’s still enjoyable to watch. The film breezes by since it’s so short and that allows then pacing to always be pretty quick. Damian’s a highlight as always and Deathstroke has fully reclaimed his glory. I look forward to seeing what the rest of 2017 can bring for DC animation. I want to see a Justice League movie now that DC is bringing its A game back. A Trinity War adaption could be a lot of fun or we could even skip to the Darkseid War at this point. Wherever we go, it should be hype!

Overall 6/10

Justice League vs Teen Titans Review

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The DC movies continue as I finally got to check out this film. As you may remember, I was pleasantly surprised by how Batman: Bad Blood was and hoped that this one would continue things on track. It’s definitely a solid film and I’d say that it is 2nd only to the former in the post Flashpoint era. I have more issues with it than I did for Bad Blood and it never reached the same level of intensity and animation that the former had, but it is a quality film. So don’t let the cover art scare you, it’s just DC’s way of reducing sales for all of its current films.

A demonic being by the name of Trigon has set his sights on the planet Earth. His ticket there is his daughter Raven, who is currently a member of the Teen Titans. She had trapped him in hell and he is unable to break free so he sends his subordinates to capture her. Can Raven defeat them and keep her friends safe? Meanwhile, Robin completely embarrasses the Justice League in front of the city so Batman demotes him from League member to Teen Titan. Robin doesn’t take it well, but learns that sometimes it is good to protect those who are weaker.

As you hopefully probably guessed, the title is pure clickbait. The Justice League vs Teen Titans fight lasts for only about 2-4 minutes. The rest of the film is mainly about the Titans although the Justice League gets their moments as well. That’s fine, I know that most Vs titles never actually go anywhere. Just look at Batman vs Robin although admittedly, that fight certainly lasted longer than this one. There’s a lot to talk about in this film so lets start with the Justice League.

They’re on the backburner in this film. While it is a sequel to Throne of Atlantis, the world just doesn’t revolve around them this time. Superman looks both good and bad. It was interesting to see him at first because he acts like the protagonist in a B grade horror film. A monster whizzes past, the door slams, and the room is even chilled to the core. Superman’s only reaction is the classic “If this is a joke…then it’s not funny!” and then he even yells in terror as he is taken over. For starters, the whole “Superman has no willpower” thing that the New 52 made popular is total nonsense. Superman doesn’t get taken over and his reaction times are good enough so he wouldn’t be taken in like that. It happens though. There is a lot of plot hax here. Nothing that hurts the film as a whole, but it does make you shake your head.

Superman getting steamrolled by Trigon at the end is another moment where you have to tilt your head. Superman beats guys like that for breakfast. The rest of the League didn’t do much better. Too bad Green Lantern wasn’t here to save the day eh? Superman’s fight against Wonder Woman and Flash was brilliant though. As I’ve always said, Superman is easily the strongest comic book character of all time. It’s not even close. I like how he’s faster than the Flash, Smarter than Batman, and a better warrior than Wonder Woman. It’s part of why he’s a good character, he invalidates the rest of the League with his existence. Effortlessly breaking Flash’s leg and then trapping Wonder Woman with her lasso is something for the record books. It was the best part of the film hands down and should answer any debates as to who would win in a fight. As Flash pointed out, it was a bit of a brutal way to take him down, but it was effective. It was also good to see Flash’s accelerated healing factor be acknowledged for once. I feel like most animated features don’t even remember this. On a final note, Superman’s voice has got to go. It was awful in this film. Maybe the guy was out of practice or something, but it sounded nothing like Superman.

Flash didn’t actually get a role beyond that. He got the shaft from the League members. Batman was good as always. It’s definitely unfortunate for him that Damian always acts out when they’re in public. Still, Batman takes control of the situation as always and even prevents himself from being mind controlled. He handled the whole thing quite well. His plan to have Wonder Woman hide herself and not engaging Superman as well was a little iffy though. Didn’t seem as brave a move as you’d expect. Wonder Woman didn’t hide which is a good thing, but she didn’t pursue either. I would have liked for her to have gone after Superman anyway. Her terribly irrelevant relationship with Superman can drag both characters down if it keeps up so hopefully that goes away soon. I don’t want it to be a main plot though, let it be a one line thing.

One last note on the Justice League, I can’t buy into the whole confrontation that happened later on. They want to take Raven in for questioning and basically arrest her? These aren’t the Avengers. The Justice League don’t randomly shoot civilians or kidnap teenagers for no reason. I can’t picture the heroes doing this. They could have handled the situation with more tact and I also don’t see how they didn’t notice Trigon the whole time. There were some stretches in logic to be sure, but at least it was still good to see the League. They got a bit more of a role than I had expected them too.

Now lets talk about the Teen Titans. As you’d expect, it’ll take a few minutes to get used to their new designs and voices. Starfire’s is an improvement from the start for me as I never liked her “I don’t understand human culture” gimmick. The jokes with it were never that funny so seeing her as a capable team leader was a nice change of pace. I feel like she was a little underpowered here. I do agree with her losing to Wonder Woman of course, but she did absolutely terrible against the Trigon demons to the point where Blue Beetle and Robin were doing far better. I’m just not sure I totally buy that, but it’s not an issue with her character.

Beast Boy was annoying as per usual. He was just a bit much the whole time and I also had to chuckle when I saw his undercover getup. It’s something that you usually see the mysterious heroine wear in an anime. I have a co-worker who has the same get up and she is not a guy. It’s just not something that you really see a guy wearing or maybe it’s just the way that it was animated. Either way, it was funny because that style isn’t for a character like Beast Boy. His personality would make you think that he’d be wearing something a lot brighter or more outlandish.

Raven was great as per usual. I think she did panic a little too quickly with the Trigon situation though. As she explained, he is still trapped in the crystal so it’s not as if he can do anything. All he can do is summon his minions and she can handle those right? Admittedly, she looked a little too weak in the first confrontation until she used her demonic powers, but they shouldn’t be a serious threat. Of course, once the Titans were held hostage, she didn’t really have any other choice. So long as we don’t get any random romance between her and Robin, their friendship is also a good subplot. They definitely do have similar pasts and aren’t good with others. Raven just handles it by keeping to herself while Robin likes to insult everyone. The Titans definitely would be in a jam without Raven’s powers so they’re lucky that she stays as a hero.

Robin was also a very solid character. Yeah, he’s a little meaner here and may have regressed a little in character development, (He still thinks Ra’s is a great man with good ideals? I feel like he should have moved on from that by now considering how crazy the guy was) but I still like his confidence. Robin does well in a fight and saving the Titans was a good way to start. He was also handling Blue Beetle pretty well until the unexpected attack. That’s why you should never let your guard down, even in a sparring session. At first I wasn’t thrilled about DC forcing Damian into every single plot, but now I’m okay with it. I’m still gonna say that Dick Grayson is my favorite Robin, but Damian is better than Nightwing. Nightwing appears for a few minutes here and never really looks good anymore. His era is really done at this point.

Blue Beetle is effectively Cyborg’s replacement on the team. For him, I didn’t have to get used to a new voice, but the new design would take some getting used too. The buzzcut look just didn’t feel quite as right as the Young Justice look. Still, he was a good character. He got less of a role than the others, but that’s probably because the Blue Beetle will get his own film like Raven at some point. There’s certainly a lot they can do with him. I definitely had no problems with him and I’ve always liked the Beetle. It definitely doesn’t take any nonsense from anyone and always goes out swinging. There’s not much to say about Cyborg to be honest. Of course, I had hoped that this film would help him see what team he should really be on. I can’t say that happens, but I can say that Cyborg has always acted more like a Teen Titan than a League member. It’s like how the Beast never quite fit in as an Avenger since he was an X-Man for so long. It’s hard to just switch teams.

I’d say that one thing which holds this film back a little is the writing. It is a lot weaker than the last film and maybe even last few films. It could be the Teen Titans angle I suppose, but a lot of the dialogue is pretty forced. Most of the lines are either from Beast Boy or about Beast Boy. Batman asking Cyborg what happens to the food that he eats was also completely out of left field. Those are just a few examples and the dialogue could be a little distracting at times. It got serious when necessary though and don’t get me wrong. It’s not overwhelming or constantly in your face, but it’s still consistent enough to be noticeable.

The animation for the film is pretty solid. That being said, it is certainly a step under Batman: Bad Blood. You’ll notice that for the hand to hand fight scenes, the camera starts to be a little shaky as to hide the actual animation. I found that to be a little odd, as if the animators weren’t too confident. The energy displays were on point though and the energy that all of the Trigon creations emitted was similar to Bass’ iconic energies or any cool anime villain. It worked quite well and since this film was a lot more supernatural than the last few, it got to use all of these effects quite a lot. I also like the fact that Batman and Robin’s eyes are always glowing through the suit. It does make them look more menacing.

The soundtrack is also a step down, but it’s reasonably good. There aren’t really any battle themes this time around or none that I can recall. That being said, we did get some lyrical songs for the montages. The song that played during Robin and Beast Boy’s duel was pretty catchy. The one for the amusement park adventures was also solid. They easily made up for the lack of battle themes although the best of both worlds would be to include them all. The sound effects for the hits was a little lower which was unfortunate, but I guess it’s tough to get that perfect balance.

I need to give a quick shoutout to Lex and the Legion of Doom for the worst villain plan ever as well. A little hyperbole thrown in there, but what were they thinking? So, Lex, Solomon Grundy, Toyman, Weather Wizard, and Cheetah thought that they could defeat the Justice League? They may have had the element of surprise, but they never had a chance of victory. Each individual fighter was outranked by his/her counterpart. There was just no strategy or gameplan here which was odd. Lex had a great line though. It went along the lines of “You guys are always fighting (Demons, gods, Superheroes, Machines, etc) and I’m just a poor industrialist caught in the middle.” Superman even had to sarcastically admit that Lex had a point there. It was just an awesome line to be honest. Plus, it’s a nice way to think about things and it could give you newfound respect for his predicament. That being said, Lex still needs to up his game. He may have had an after credits scene in a previous film, but apparently the writers decided to ditch that. Ah well, it happens. We’ll see if this post credits scene leads to something more direct. Well..we know it does since the next film is already out.

Overall, Justice League vs Teen Titans continues DC’s path into the light. This marks two films in a row where DC is looking like their old selves. I could definitely recommend this film to anyone. It moves very quickly and there is a lot of action. Superman’s scenes are great and went a long way to ensuring that this film got a solid 8. It was a team effort though with the film just being solid all around. Seeing the Justice League and Teen Titans in a movie together is pretty fun. While I’d like the film to be a little longer, being under 90 minutes does guarantee good pacing. It’s a tradeoff, but one that makes the film a little more accessible to everyone. Next up is Teen Titans: Judas Contract so we’ll see how that goes. I don’t expect it to be quite as good since Terra’s annoying and the whole arc will probably be annoying, but if handled well it could be good. I did like the comic after all and Damian can easily fill in for Grayson’s role since he is so skilled already. Also, it’s time to redeem Deathstroke since he looked completely terrible last time. Here’s to hoping that DC pulls out another winner. If they do manage this, then I think we can officially say that DC animation is back to quality for the forseeable future. Now they just need to fix their DVD covers.

Overall 8/10

Kino’s Journey: Country of Illness -For You Review

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It’s time for another Kino special. I’ve never been much of a Kino fan but the concept isn’t bad. Because the whole series is about watching her go to various lands and experiencing their traditions and customs, it means that there is always the chance you will enjoy the adventure or also dislike it by the same token. Effectively the franchise gets a blank slate each time. I’d say this one was the best yet mainly thanks to the Moped not getting to do much and Kino being a little less deadpan this time around. It’s short so the special doesn’t drag on or anything either.

In this adventure, Kino heads to a futuristic city. The inhabitants are worried about germs because they may prove to be fatal. Their way of society seems rather flipped from the usual norm. The wealthy and influential people live outside in the rugged desert as they make a home and defeat the outside elements. The poor and middle class live in the city where they can do whatever they want thanks to the tech. It seems like a paradise for them and an endurance test for the wealthy, but why is this? Kino becomes friends with a girl who is sick at the hospital and agrees to deliver her letter to a boy who lives on the outside. Is Kino ready for what she may discover there?

It’s not a Kino adventure without a few twists and the adventure should keep you guessing for a little while. You can probably imagine that things didn’t go very well for the boy when the girl explains that she hasn’t seen him in over a year. That’s always a bad sign and when Kino sees how desolate the outside world looks, it brings a few questions to mind as well. People rarely tell the actual truth to outsiders in these things so at least Kino is ready. It’s also fortunate that she always has her gun at the ready as well. You really can’t trust these guys.

While it’s a pretty somber special, it doesn’t go overboard. It’s sad, but not over the top with big time human experimentation or anything. People were effectively sacrificed though and the government looks shady as always. We don’t really get any fights in this special although Kino does get to fire a shot. Her recommendation to the girl to go check the outside world out when she is better is probably not the greatest advice though. The girl is certainly going to be in for a very rude awakening.

As far as Kino herself goes, the character wasn’t all that bad this time. She’s still not very interesting, but at least she tried to keep the girl’s spirits up and didn’t stand by as a bunch of people were murdered for a change. Her “no interference” policy still ensures that she’ll never be a hero though. At best she will always be a person who looks out for herself first and foremost. The Moped still tries to be funny in all of his scenes, but they never really work. I’ll give him some credit for the constant attempts though. He certainly never gives up.

The other characters in the special were okay although none of them got a particularly large role. They’re meant to be background elements as you focus on just taking in the land and how it works. The sick girl was reasonable although it’s unfortunate that she has to go along with all of the tests. I opt out of just about every shot at the doctor because most of them just seem so pointless. That’s definitely what she should have done here. The boy from the flashbacks was all right I guess, but he was a little generic and nothing really happened with his plot. The night guard may have tried to justify his actions with every other line, but they weren’t very convincing. He makes for a decent antagonist though.

One thing Kino’s Journey always does well is keeping everything very quiet. The towns always seem desolate as Kino walks around even when people are there. There’s something about the series that always makes everything seem hollow and fake even if the people are being jolly. It’s that elusive Twilight Zone effect and it certainly gives the series an air of mystery.

The soundtrack is really nothing special as it’s the same tunes that we have been hearing over and over again. I can’t even say that it’s all that memorable. I suppose the laid back feel of the music is supposed to go hand in hand with how mellow the special is in general, but I wouldn’t mind some fast tunes once in a while. The animation isn’t bad either. It’s below average as it definitely hasn’t aged well and much older shows look more impressive. There is no way that you’d guess this film came out in 2007 as it looks like something closer to the 90’s or very late 80’s. However, if you look at it in a vacuum without comparing it to anything else, then Kino’s Journey still looks fine.

Overall, This was the most enjoyable Kino’s Journey feature. It’s still held back by a number of issues like the underwhelming technical aspects and the lackluster main characters. The plot is still interesting though and it doesn’t drag on. At it’s core, Kino’s Journey is like a nice breeze that is fun while it lasts and is then forgotten. There’s nothing there to call it a bad film, but there isn’t much to make it memorable either. It’s a good film because it doesn’t make any mistakes is the best way to think about it. Hopefully the series can get a reboot/sequel nostalgia film which will energize the franchise. I think that’s what it needs the most, some energy. It’ll be difficult balancing that and the eerily quiet scenes, but I’m sure it can manage. I think this is it for the franchise at the moment though so it feels pretty good to be caught up. At least as far as the animated content goes.

Overall 6/10

Batman: Bad Blood Review

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First off, I have to say that I was really surprised at how good this film was. DC’s animation films have been sorely dropping in quality ever since the New 52 began. I’m not counting the side films, just mainstream. Lets quickly take a trip down memory lane for them. Here are the DC animated films that I’m counting. Superman: Doomsday, Justice League New Frontier, Batman Gotham Knight, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern First Flight, Public Enemies, Crisis on Two Earths, Under The Red Hood, Apocalypse, All Star Superman, Emerald Knight, Year One, Doom, Superman and the Elite, Dark Knight Returns, Unbound, Flashpoint, War, Son of Batman, Assault on Arkham, Throne of Atlantis, Batman vs Robin, Gods and Monsters, Bad Blood. I’m not even going to count the Killing Joke and Justice League Dark. The former because I haven’t seen it and don’t plan to since the film looks so trashy and the latter since it’ll be a long time til a TV-14 version of it is up. Naturally, the film wouldn’t help DC’s case anyway since it’s as gritty as it gets.

So, Superman: Doomsday was a great film. It was a good way to kick things off. New Frontier could have been better, but it was a solid Justice League film. Gotham Knight was DC’s first miss, but they made up for it with the next two installments as Wonder Woman and Green Lantern were both very good. Public Enemies and Crisis on Two Earths were amazing and two of the best DC films of all time. Under The Red Hood and Apocalypse continued things off on a high level. All Star Superman was reasonably solid as well. It lacked in action, but had good writing. Emerald Knight was rather disappointing and Year One was pretty sad. You could argue that DC was starting to weaken at this point. Justice League Doom was good. It was a cut under the previous all stars, but it still felt right.

Next was Superman and the Elite. It’s easily one of the weaker Superman films and the animation was bad. Dark Knight Returns was truly dreadful though and it brought back the more violent roots that I was hoping to avoid. The next title (Superman Unbound) avoided this thanks to its My Little Pony styled animation. However, this was the end. We would now enter the violent era of DC films and this is where things got ugly. Flashpoint is super dark, gritty, and violent. It was a bad film that just left you shaking your head. Next was JL: War. Justice League War is a good story, but it was plagued by excessive violence all around. It’s no surprise though since this is where the New 52 started. Technically it’s not a bad film, it’s still good, but should have been far better. The next films would not have the Justice League to bail them out. Son of Batman is a gritty story where the writing just slacks off and the violence continues. Assault on Arkham is one of the worst DC films and with many villains as the main characters, you can see how it would be bad.

We went back to the Justice League next, but questionable writing and more excessive violence held it back quite a lot. Batman vs Robin kept the violence as high as it could and even threw in animal violence. Gods and Monsters is so disgraceful that I knew it would be bad 10 minutes in. It was just so disgraceful. But, there’s a silver lining now. Batman: Bad Blood has toned the violence down quite a lot and based on the trailers and clips for the next two films, it looks like things could finally be changing. Are we going back to DC’s prime in animation? It’s a possibility and one that I’m excited for. It’s fitting since the New 52 was cancelled that things would finally get back on track.

Now, lets start the actual review for this film. Batwoman is a new crime fighter in town who believes in destroying all of her opponents. She’s a villain who takes out other villains for the greater good and believes herself to be above the law. As expected, she gets in over her head and a group of villains decide to take her down. It would seem that she was just the bait to lure Batman in as he is forced to save her from Heretic and his goons which results in his capture. Batwoman must now team up with Nightwing and Damian to find and rescue the Dark Knight. Can they succeed and who is the true mastermind behind the scenes?

This film starts off with a lot of action and it never lets up. The first 10-15 minutes are effectively one long action scene. Batman and Batwoman are up against a bunch of C listers, but these guys still have decent abilities and the fight makes for a bunch of cool visuals. Also, Batman is still just a human so he can’t afford to let his guard down against anyone. While the villains may not seem all that intimidating, one good attack could always mean the end. The film did a great job of showing how Batman fights in contrast to the others though. He has no wasted movements and is easily able to handle multiple opponents by fighting very strategically. His fighting style here was focused on being defensive and launching powerful hits. I dare say that this film did a better job of illustrating that than any of the other DC films. Watch this title and see how the animators do a good job of distinguishing everyone’s fighting styles. It’s pretty impressive.

The animation is also very sharp. Some of the hand to hand scenes can maybe get a little stretchy like Talia vs Batwoman, but the style works well enough. The various colors help the contrast which is why the night scenes in particular have the best fights. The film is able to pull this off even in the day time by having the characters fight in doors. Damian vs the bulldozer guy was a good example of this. The strong sound effects and fluid animation helped this film produce some of the best fight scenes. I have Batman Beyond Return of the Joker as my favorite Batman film, but this one is really high up there as well. The main competition it would have is Under The Red Hood and Mask of the Phantasm. So, Top 3 is a real possibility, but I’ll refrain from actually placing it there for now since it could just be a knee jerk reaction of this film completely surpassing my expectations. I can’t say that I was particularly hyped for this film before watching it, but it certainly delivered.

An extra cherry on top for this film is the fact that it actually had a good soundtrack as well. Most films miss out on this nowadays, but Bad Blood has quite a few great action tunes and that helps to keep the intensity up from the start. The film may only be around 70 minutes long, but since the action never stops, it probably has more fights than most 100+ minute films.

The character cast is pretty solid as well. Batman isn’t in his right mind for most of the film, but he’s on point when he is. He’s very no nonsense the whole time and just shows up to take the villains down. He doesn’t bother with pleasantries or any of that. However, Damian was the standout here. This is how I’ve always pictured the character to act. Damian’s strong and extremely confident. The bragging works as long as he can back it up and he does a good job of it here. I don’t even mind his loss to Heretic since he was drugged first and still put up a good fight. He was trained by the League of Assassins so I expect him to be really skilled. He was a little underpowered in the first fight, but he managed to come back from that. The film couldn’t get the power levels absolutely perfect right? I’m not sure about Batwoman defeating Talia, that was a bit of a stretch. Still, I suppose she needed as least one win since that would have been sad for her fans otherwise.

I’m not really a Batwoman fan. She’s on the opposite side of the spectrum with the bragging. She talks a really good game, but ends up getting wrecked in almost all of her fights. She doesn’t last 5 seconds against Heretic and she was getting overwhelmed by the C list fighters. It wasn’t a good showing for her at all. I thinks she has the potential to be more likable than Batgirl, but she also feels like a Huntress ripoff at the same time. I guess I’ll need to wait and see what future films do with her. Nightwing’s not bad. It’s nice to see him getting more of a role in the films lately. It would be great if he had a little more confidence/arrogance like Damian though. Lately it seems like he’s completely mellowed out. That’s not bad, but it won’t help his personality.

Alfred looked really good here and his fight was one of the cool parts in the film. Bad Blood even managed to squeeze in Batwing. I haven’t read a comic with him yet, but he seems cool. He’s a not very subtle ripoff of War Machine, but as always DC managed to improve on the character. I already like him more than Rhodey. They both have a military background which explains why they can use the suits so easily, but Batwing seems far less likely to betray everyone to the government. His transformation scene was also pretty fun and definitely seemed like something out of Iron-Man. I’m definitely glad that he took the suit right away as well since a real character doesn’t wait for permission.

This aspect hurt Onyx quite a bit though. As a loyal bodyguard, I was expecting her to try and help Heretic out of at least avenge him. Part of being a good lackey is knowing when not to follow an order and that vengeance must come first. She waits way too long to do anything and that did destroy her whole character. There was nothing that she could do to exonerate herself, the time for action had passed. It was also unexpected since the film was playing it off like she was about to do something, but then decided not too. I do have to say that one other missed opportunity here was killing off Heretic before he could get a real fight. He was definitely a tough fighter so seeing him get a full fight against Nightwing or Damian would have been fun. He had a brief bout with Nightwing and to the hero’s credit, he was holding his own. The 2 on 1 fight just proved to be too much in the end.

Bad Blood is also good with the misdirects. I actually thought that Batwoman’s dad had turned evil since it would be the kind of twist that DC would turn to in the past. I’m glad that it wasn’t the case though because that would have been just plain unnecessary. He seems like a pretty good character so I’d definitely be on board with having him around in the future. That being said, sticking to the Bat cast is the best move. One of the reasons why this film was so good was because over 90% of the film stayed with the plot. Batwoman had a small subplot that was boring and acted as pointless filler, but it was probably less than 10 minutes if you combine all of the scenes. Keep the subplots as small as possible and your film will probably be a winner.

Overall, Batman Bad Blood was pretty solid. The nonstop action was good and it was just full of quality. For those of you who still want blood and intensity, there is a bit when characters are punched or stabbed, but it isn’t completely over the top and overdone like the last few films. It’s handled with a lot more dignity and composure this time around. If there’s anything that you may have a problem with, it’s that everyone seems to be breaking into the batcave these days. It did make for a decent jump scene though since I really wasn’t expecting Heretic to show up at that moment. The film was really good with having unexpected things occur. I highly recommend checking this film out. You will not be disappointed!

Overall 7/10

Pinocchio Review

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It’s time for another classic Disney movie from the older days. I’d say that it’s easily the darkest one of them all. I can’t say that I knew much about the film aside from the general premise so I can safely say that it was pretty surprising. It’s definitely a film that you’ll want to add to your collection and you won’t be forgetting it anytime soon.

Geppetto was an old man who was growing pretty bored with his set up. He has a cat and a gold fish, but he wanted a kid as well. He wished upon a falling star that he could finally have one and that’s when Pinocchio was born. He was a puppet boy, but he was still alive so I suppose that counts. Geppetto quickly tells Pinocchio that he has to go to school so the kid heads off, but is confronted by some shady fellows. They trick Pinocchio into being in a circus where he is forced to perform. His conscience, a man cricket named Jiminy gets him out of that mess, but then Pinocchio is sold into slavery on Pleasure Island. He gets drunk and smokes quite a lot, but the downside to this is that you turn into a Donkey. Meanwhile Geppetto falls into a whale and gets himself into a sticky situation. Can Pinocchio save him or is it too late?

You may not be surprised at this, but Pinocchio isn’t a very likable main character. He is easily swayed by the masses and ends up getting himself into a lot of trouble. He starts to drink quite a lot and smokes as well. We don’t see him get into drugs at least, but you can tell that the kid fell into hard times. If not for Jiminy, the experience would have been quite fatal. It just goes to show that you can’t go with the “cool” crowd for too long or you’ll end up taking some hits. The unfortunate part about all of this is that Pinocchio never really seems to learn his lesson. He makes the same mistakes multiple times in the film so you have to wonder how sincere he is. Also, I would have stayed as a puppet kid if I was him. It seems like it’d be pretty novel if you ask me.

Jiminy is the better character here for the most part. He’s not perfect as his polite exterior cracks a few times, but he is persistent when it comes to helping Pinocchio. It’s not an easy job either so most crickets would have caved in after a while. Jiminy definitely has most of the best lines in the film and it’s fitting since his voice is also the most charismatic. The film wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable without him in it. He’s easily the best character here. Unfortunately, Geppetto was not a good character. He just comes across as very demanding and not very smart. You’d think that he would escort Pinocchio to school on his first day since he doesn’t even know how to be a person yet right? Nah, Geppetto is far too busy for that. He really should have been a whole lot more careful. I don’t even know how he got stuck in a whale. Maybe his car’s GPS was broken.

Honest John was the first villain to show up and he is pretty cunning. When all else fails…he doesn’t. His plans aren’t half bad even if they revolve around the fact that Pinocchio doesn’t know how to fight back. His name also just makes so much sense for the character. A sly fox may not be the most original idea out there, but as this film is so old, most films ended up copying from this one’s example. There are a few other supporting characters like a cat and a gold fish, but neither of them had much of a role here. They didn’t really add anything to the equation.

Pinocchio made a friend over at the bar and I guess he was semi important. He helped to remind Pinocchio that you can drown your conscience away in beer and he was also a crack shot at pool. He had one of the most intense lines in the film as it quickly became literal due to the circumstances. I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of this guy. He was a bad influence to be sure, but at least he knew it. The kid just embraced this fact after a while.

The soundtrack is definitely a lot weaker than the other Disney films. That’s probably because Pinocchio can’t sing as well as any of the famous Disney princesses. He tries his best of course, but the Avengers retake on the “I have no strings on me” song was a lot more impressive. Still, at least the film had a soundtrack, that’s always a good thing since many films just don’t have them or just have a few tunes and call it a day. There’s a lot of music that pops up now and again in this film.

While Pinocchio has a happy ending, the characters never actually stop the main villain. That was a little surprising since the Donkey seller just got away scot free in the end. Maybe a sequel would fix that, but I have a feeling that it’s just a forgotten plot point. You can’t help but feel bad for all of the other kids. Having a human trafficking plot in a kid’s Disney film must have been somewhat controversial back in the day. I mean, they did turn the kids into donkeys first though so maybe it was subtle enough for everyone to miss that little detail back in the day. The fact that the villain gets away is probably my only real negative with the film. I was hoping that he would be brought to justice. Having an arrest is always a good moral booster for the heroes.

Overall, Pinocchio is a solid film. It fits right in with the rest of the Disney films even if it is a lot darker. Forget everything you think you know about the character as you sit down to watch this film. Odds are that your childhood recollections about this movie are completely different from what is actually happening in the movie. It’s sort of like how the Berenstain Bears have altered the spelling a few times since the good ole days even if the Internet seems to not remember this. The intriguing cosmic revelations from this are fun to think about. Do Parrallel dimensions exist and does it even matter if they do? You’ll be thinking about these concepts as you watch the movie. The pacing is pretty good though so you won’t get too many chances to think about this so make the most of your opportunities.

Overall 7/10

Beauty and the Beast Review

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It’s time to take a look at one of the old Disney films. Seeing as how it just got a live action remake with as goat version of the Beast, this was the perfect opportunity to look at the original. It’s a solid film all around with no real weaknesses to drag it down. While it may not be the greatest of the classics, it may have the best pacing and most engaging plot. I’ll have to think on that one a bit before giving a definitive answer, but there really wasn’t much to slow it down.

Belle is stuck in a very old town. She is the only lady who reads and the town is scared of her as a result. How can they hope to stack up against someone who doesn’t go to the local bar and get drunk with the rest of them? The people’s champion, Gaston shows up to set things right, but he is rejected. Unfortunately, Belle’s crazy father runs into the woods and gets kidnapped by the Beast. Belle is forced to take his place as a prisoner while her father gets himself into more trouble and gives Gaston a legal opportunity to try and steal Belle away. Can she enlist the help of the Beast or is all hope lost?

I imagine that everyone already knows the plot to this film, but I just put that up as a formality. As you can probably tell, I don’t like the Dad. He just gets the family into more and more trouble the whole time. He’s pretty scatter brained and even once Belle is taken as a prisoner he is slow to act. It takes him forever to actually do anything about the situation. You’d think that he would have a lot more urgency about the whole thing when you consider the circumstances. The cast is pretty small so he’s one of the only supporting characters with a role. The other would be Gaston along with his follower. The follower spends the whole film getting beat up and knocked around. It’s safe to say that he had to endure a lot of pain in this adventure as the characters just wouldn’t let up for a second.

Gaston’s naturally not a likable character since he spends the whole film flirting. I do like his grandiose nature and excessive bragging, but it would be great if he could be more productive about it. Stealing candy from a baby, dining and dashing, those are the feats that I would have been expecting him to perform. He’s not totally full of hot air though as he actually does put up a good fight against the Beast. He lands a lot of devastating hits in their battle and while the majority of them were cheap shots…we take those. I could definitely take him more seriously than some of the other classic villains like Jafar.

The Beast wasn’t likable though. I couldn’t sympathize with him at all. Especially when he just tried to act friendly so Belle would fall in love with him. It seemed like he earned his fate as a Beast as well so I just never got to be on his side. He didn’t make things easy for Belle and actively sabotaged his chances every opportunity that he got. It’s why the goat design in the new film suits him even if it makes him look even more evil and nonredeemable. It’s just the table that he has set for himself. Now he has to live in it. He had a few minions who would help him out like a candle stick, an alarm clock, and a tea kettle. The best member was easily the Alarm Clock as he kept it real the whole time and did his best not to get in trouble. The Candle Stick seemed to purposely seek out trouble while the Tea Pot had the best manners. They were decent enough and never got to be too annoying.

Finally, we have Belle. It’s safe to say that she is the best character here by a long shot. She doesn’t really have any flaws as she’s a nice person who always does the right thing and helps others out. She volunteers to be a prisoner to save her father and also doesn’t succumb to peer pressure when the “cool” crowd approaches her. She did fall for the cheesy romance parts at the end, but that’s hardly a negative so much as it’s a “shakes head” moment.

The film has quite a few songs of course since the films back in these days were part musical. They go over pretty well and the music is catchy. While the lyrics weren’t memorable enough for me to remember the names, I believe Bell’s opening song was the best one with Gaston’s probably being the worst. Still, it was a good soundtrack and lyrical songs can definitely be good when handled well. That’s something that 2010’s and beyond have struggled with in some cases. Luckily we still have Frozen to save us and the animated films have mostly been immune. It’s just that in the 90’s, even live action films could have good lyrical themes if they tried. I could diverge into how music was a little better back in the day than currently when it comes to mainstream (So not counting anime ost and video game soundtracks) but that’s neither here nor there.

The animation looks good and is consistent as you would expect. The characters stand out and the designs are really colorful. The action scenes are pretty fluid and while the characters may literally punch each other out of proportion at times, it’s done in a cool way. It’s intentional as opposed to a Dragon Ball Super scene where they just forgot to do some drawing. It holds up really well and the animation wouldn’t look out of place next to a more modern film.

If there’s any real negative here, it’s naturally the wolf scene. It was handled fairly well as this kind of thing goes and the Wolves really took it to the beast so that was good. I was rooting for them to really knock him around. His near lethal injuries show that the wolves weren’t playing around. It’s enough to warrant a mention and is the kind of thing that can also solidify the film’s 7 ranking as opposed to trying for an 8. If this is the worst mistake that the film made, then at least you can be sure that it was mostly good.

Overall, Beauty and the Beast is a good film. It’s something that you can recommend to anyone since it’s just a nice story. The romance is very cheesy and unbelievable so that can be a bit of a weakness, but it’s not as if you expected it to be anything else. The film will fly by in an instant and there aren’t any painfully drawn out scenes to make you look at the wrist watch. The new film seems like it’s pretty faithful to the old film so hopefully that’ll be good as well. So long as they don’t add extra character development to drag characters down in its attempt to be super deep or extend the wolf scene and make it more realistic to drag it down a few stars…I’d expect it to be of comparable quality. Hopefully that will be the case and if you’ve never seen this version you should hurry. You want to know what everyone’s going on about when they compare this to the remake since that inevitably happens. I’ll be doing a bunch of comparisons myself when I watch it.

Overall 7/10

Children Who Chase Lost Voices Review

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I definitely didn’t know what to expect when I started this film. I didn’t know anything about it, from the plot to the characters. Unfortunately, the film wasn’t a pleasant surprise and certainly fell way below what I would have expected from it. It’s a shame since the film could have been good if it just had a better all around staff. The end product is just rather boring and aimless. It drags on and on and on.

Asuna is an everyday kid who knows how to take care of herself. She performs all of the chores and keeps her house in order since her Mom is typically out. One day, she witnesses a battle between a mysterious kid and a giant monster. They quickly become friends, but the kid is murdered soon after. Asuna doesn’t know what’s going on, but then the kid’s younger brother Shin shows up. He wants her crystal so one thing leads to another and she jumps through a portal with him to another world. Her substitute teacher, Ryuji, decides to come as well while he lets his comrades murder a poor monster that chose the wrong place to hang out. Despite realizing that Ryuji is a murderer who sold out his comrades and is keeping her prisoner, Asuna doesn’t take it personally. She hopes they can still be friends, but what is she even doing here anymore?

The film’s pretty aimless as I mentioned. Ryuji’s here to bring his wife back to life. If he can murder enough people, maybe he can get into the under world and find her. Of course, it won’t be so easy, but he is ready and willing to sacrifice Asuna to do this. Shin wants to help his corrupt village get their pendent back and is ready to murder everyone to do this as well. Asuna is really just here for the thrills and maybe she can see the dead kid again this way. There are no likable characters here and once again it is a story where you just feel bad for the animals. They didn’t ask for this, but the humans are always picking on them anyway.

What makes Asuna unlikable is the fact that she hangs out with Ryuji after everything he did. She seems completely oblivious to life in general and makes all of the wrong decisions. She is supremely annoying and grating to watch and if she even had a sliver of personality then she would have been a far better character. Even if the personality made her a jerk, at least it’s be something. She’s like a blank slip of paper in this one. Ryuji is evil even if the film doesn’t always try to portray it that way. I couldn’t sympathize with him one bit even if his goal is one that I typically don’t mind for villains. If he wants to do this, then he should go all the way and accept his role as a villain. The fact that the movie portrays him to still be a decent guy otherwise is just annoying and I didn’t buy it.

Shin’s also pretty generic. At least he helped out when it counted, but he’s just soooo weak. How could he let himself get one shotted so many times in one film? It was particularly embarrassing when he tried to stop Ryuji, but couldn’t. The film went out of its way to mock the concept of a child hero as he thought he was a great warrior, but ended up just being a kid in the end. It was easy for Ryuji to take him down. There weren’t any other real characters here aside from random villagers and Asuna’s human friend. They didn’t get to really do anything.

I’d say that the film was just too long. You’ll get bored after a little while and the fantasy elements take too long to really turn into anything tangible. The nightcrawler things were interesting as they suddenly showed up and kidnapped Asuna. More creatures like that could have been fun, but the sad fact is that the majority of them were animals that couldn’t fight and just existed to get slaughtered by the humans. The animal violence is naturally a huge reason why the film was really bad. They gunned down an animal for no good reason and this was the government. It’s all rather vague which is supposed to be interesting, but I wasn’t invested enough to care. Why does the government want this mystical land and how do people know about it? Why have they not sealed off the exits so the fantasy people don’t just come to the human world whenever they want? You can wait for the answers, but they’ll never come. It was always surprising when someone would get slashed and blood would appear. It always felt a little out of place, but it’s not excessive or anything. I wouldn’t really count it as a negative, but the animal part makes that irrelevant anyway.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the animation isn’t all that good. It’s not bad, but it has that soulless look that you may have come to expect from Westernized anime or as I like to call them “General audience” anime. It’s something that can be hard to describe, but it’s just a style. Look at Spirited Away or this film and then look at the latest DBZ or Naruto film. The latter you can instantly tell is an awesome anime film while the former titles look more see through and American. However you describe the difference, I always prefer the latter. It just looks a whole lot better. This film still looks decent by American standards though. We do get some action scenes here and I suppose the animation tries its best, but it certainly doesn’t do much to help the film. Likewise with the soundtrack as there aren’t any interesting themes here. I can’t say that I’m very surprised though. Not too much of a knock on the film, but you wouldn’t expect it to have any cool tunes. That’s just the kind of film it is.

Overall, Children Who Chase Lost Voices was absolutely a flop. Animal Violence + Annoying characters is always going to equal a loss in the end. The film was way too long and just got to be boring by the end. You’d definitely be changing the channel if this ever comes on TV again. None of the monsters were all that impressive when it comes to their power and the ending is like another laugh to the viewers. It seems to be a running gag that the heroine loves to go back to Earth and act like the whole thing never happened in the end. It was fitting for this film though since we’ll all just try to move on from this title. It’s definitely not one that I’d recommend. You should go watch a Dragon Ball Z film instead.

Overall 3/10

Attack on Titan Ilse’s Notebook Review

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It’s time for an Attack on Titan prequel OVA. This one adapts a side story from the manga so it’s fairly short. The OVA does manage to pad itself out a little with a brief recap on the state of things though so it’s not extremely short. It’s around the length of the average episode which is a pretty decent length for an OVA. It’s fairly interesting, but I can’t say that it’s actually good as it suffers from the usual Attack on Titan issues.

The main character of this story is Hange (Or Hanji depending on which name you’re more used too) and she really wants to experiment on a Titan. As she has no conscience to weigh her down, she has always been the perfect person to lead the scientist division. She may creep the rest of her comrades out, but that’s just a side effect of being insane. You’re basically rooting for the Titans here since you don’t want them to be enslaved so Hange can stab them forever. Things aren’t moving quickly enough for Hange so she decides to go rogue and head after a Titan. Along the way she learns that there was once a Titan who could talk. What does this mean?

The Notebook/Journal that the heroes find is the main item of importance in this story. It’s another tragic tale, but that’s to be expected here. Ilse was running through the woods when a Titan spotted her. The rest of her comrades had already been taken down for the count so she had no backup. Surprisingly, the Titan didn’t destroy her right away as it prolonged the experience by stretching its face and trying to let her know about the war going on and how the series was all a lie. Ilse didn’t handle this too well and panicked so she was quickly eaten. It’s meant to be pretty important since it shows that Titans have some level of intelligence even if it’s been buried pretty deep. At the same time her death in the end made the whole thing suspect anyway. Maybe she was just delusional. The heroes don’t seem to think much of it either as they just use this as an excuse to go on the hunt once more.

Humor has never been a strong point of the series and that continues here. A running gag is that Hange is super unhinged so she chokes one of her comrades and nearly murders him. She loses her cool constantly and I don’t know how she still has her job. Well, the government is corrupt so I guess that fits. It doesn’t make me like any of her comrades though since they don’t speak up about this and just keep on enduring it. Levi and the others seem to turn a blind eye as well. At least he’s one of the few people along with Erwin who doesn’t fear Hange, but if he’s not going to do anything about it, then it doesn’t really matter all that much.

Attack on Titan never fails to deliver on the technical side though. The soundtrack is pretty good as we got an awesome techno theme at the beginning of the OVA. It played when the series was giving a recap of the situation and it made for some fun visuals as well. If the whole OVA was like that, then I wouldn’t have had any problems. The strategic part of the series is when its typically at its best. The graphics are also pretty sharp as it looks and feels very modern. The character designs are on point and the OVA had fun using Sunset effects for when it was getting late, but not quite night time yet. It all looked good and at least that helps the OVA speed along even if it can’t totally nullify the negatives.

In the end, the OVA was still a little too violent and dark by the end. The novels pointed out that Titans don’t bleed so we technically shouldn’t be getting any blood when they’re slashed. The anime has always chosen to ignore that though and either way we have the Titans eating humans as well so that doesn’t help. The scene of the Titan trying to rearrange his face came across as completely unnecessary and eating Ilse at the end wasn’t a great ending either. Following the novels more closely would absolutely help Titan in all of its future products.

Overall, Ilse’s Notebook is fairly standard Attack on Titan fare. If you like the show then odds are that you’ll like the OVA. Eren and the other main characters may not be in it, but the rest of the OVA feels like it could easily be a normal episode. I still say that the show is too violent and melodramatic the whole time and Hange is a pretty terrible main character so she holds it down. To make it more interesting, I wouldn’t have minded some time travel thrown in so Eren could be around to yell a bit. It’s not exactly the feel good film of the year, but if you really want to make sure that you’re an expert on Attack on Titan lore, then you’ll want to check it out. For the rest of you, just go prepare yourself for Season 2 instead. It is certainly drawing closer and closer with every passing day.

Overall 4/10

Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown Review

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It’s time for the third Charlie Brown special in a row. The main plot in this one isn’t that bad and may be the most entertaining, but we also got the worst subplot of the trio. Yes, Linus actually got the worst plot for a change and it was a little surprising since you’d expect his story to be pretty interesting most of the time. I suppose it just wasn’t to be, but at least we got to see Snoopy pranking people and just making the day more fun in general.

It’s Valentine’s Day and Charlie is hoping that he’ll actually get one for a change. The problem is that the system is rigged against him as it involves students each writing Valentine’s to the other kids and then someone hands them out later. Since Charlie has no friends to send him Valentine’s, this means that he has to sit around and wait as they slowly show him all of the letters that are for everyone else. I’m surprised that Charlie was surprised at this result, but I guess you have to be in a state of denial sometimes or the school will overwhelm you. The main plot sees Charlie get down about this, but he must hang in there. Surely someone will give him a card before the day is over…right?

As for the Linus subplot, he buys a chocolate for his teacher. The problem is that she’s always dashing around so he can’t find an opportunity to give it to her. Can he make it in time or will he have to start looking for a refund. I’d say that it was an emotional trip, but it really wasn’t. The subplot didn’t really add anything to the special except for an opportunity to see Sally chase after him for the chocolate. I’m definitely in the mood for such a large quantity myself. It looked pretty filling although assorted chocolates usually don’t end up taking away your hunger all that much. The pieces are just too small.

The end of the special has a pretty tough choice. Would you accept a used valentine? That’s the question that you’ve gotta ask yourself. I’d definitely say “Lol no” but maybe I’d say that I appreciate the sentiment if I didn’t feel like it was intended as an insult. It just seems like you’d be better off with no card than to get a fake one. I guess Charlie was pretty desperate at the end though. Once again, his imagination takes off with him though as he starts to believe that he is actually really popular all of a sudden. It’s a little hard to take seriously, but everyone has to start somewhere right? Maybe Charlie’s time has finally arrived.

A decent interlude during all of this was Snoopy’s live puppet show. It really reminds you just how intense the dog could be. He deliberately used the play as a ruse so he could attack Lucy and laugh about it. Charlie didn’t seem to mind much so I guess Snoopy already had him on the payroll. The scene wasn’t too long which prevented it from dragging on or getting obnoxious. It’s always good to have a change of pace as long as it is handled well.

The animation is consistent as always. The chocolate box looked pretty good and all of the character models were on point. It’s nothing to write home about, but there are no real flaws either. It’s a tried and true recipe to success. This special didn’t really have any songs though and it feels like the specials just ditched the concept of a soundtrack all of a sudden. Where’d all the music go? I always like to have some music as it makes the whole special more endearing.

Overall, The special was decently good. The Linus part could have been left out, but Charlie’s plot had the right mix of tragedy and comedy. You never felt too bad for him because this was probably one of the most minor sad events to ever happen to him. Seriously, it’s usually a lot worse. Not getting a Valentine on Valentine’s Day is like not getting a turkey on Thanksgiving. It’s sad, but you’ll live so long as you have Mash and a bowl of Macaroni and Cheese. I’m not sure when I’ll see my next Charlie Brown special, but there are always more out there so they shall return. In the meantime, prepare for some more intense reviews coming up.

Overall 6/10