Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Little Witch Academia Review

It’s time to look at the fairly well known Little Witch Academia special. I remember seeing this one mentioned online a lot and always wondered if it was made as some kind of rival to My Hero Academia. The timing was just coincidental I’m thinking though because the two aren’t very similar at all. It’s a pretty fun fantasy story and feels like like Spirited Away or the other big anime films that can also make it as a Pixar type film. It’s a good movie that can appeal to just about anyone. It introduces the characters right away and gives us a good debut adventure.

The story starts by introducing us to Shiny Chariot. She is pretty well known to the humans and serves as a shining example to how Witches are. Atsuko has always wanted to be a witch and thanks to Chariot’s grand display Atsuko reaffirms her wish to join the school. She has now made it and must aim to do well in her classes. It’ll be difficult as she didn’t grow up with magic the way that most of the others did. She is a quick study though and makes it to the team phase with two other girls named Lotte and Sucy. The 3 of them must climb a tower and find some items in a scavenger hunt, but when a dragon shows up the danger becomes very real.

You’ll get some Harry Potter and RWBY vibes here as well. It’s an all girls school since it’s for witches so that part is like RWBY (Yes, there are some guys in RWBY, but rarely are they important) but it’s less action based and more of an adventure/fantasy like Potter. The characters even have wands and such to use their spells. I think starting off with this tower exploration was the right move since it feels like a video game mission and lets the characters interact with each other in a fun environment. Now lets take a look at the cast.

Atsuko is our lead and she’s a good main character. Her determination and youthful energy are what you would expect upon seeing her and she does not disappoint. Wherever there is action you’ll find her at the center. Atsuko isn’t irresponsible though and stays determined even when the others don’t take her seriously. None of the other characters like Shiny Chariot, but Atsuko doesn’t take it too hard. Then she comes in clutch during the climax with the legendary scepter weapon and manages to save the day. I definitely look forward to seeing more of her. Her teammates Lotte and Sucy are less impressive. Sucy’s fine, she’s fairly aloof and doesn’t talk all that much. It’s hard to get much of a gauge on her character beyond that but her spells are quite potent. I can easily see her being the secret weapon on the team. Lotte is more of a book worm and fairly timid. She’s not my kind of character but I wouldn’t say that she is bad.

Shiny Chariot is the legendary witch that humans like, but ironically witches don’t. She seems nice enough so I have to disagree with the witches here. They don’t like her theatrics, but as we learn in the next movie, humans and witches don’t get along very well. Isn’t it good that she is bridging the gap? While it’s not outright stated, it’s heavily implied that she was forced into early retirement and now works as a teacher in the school. Her teacher persona is basically like Clark Kent. She can’t act very tough in this one, but it works well enough since it isn’t the real her. I do hope we get to see Chariot fight again soon though.

Finally we have Diana who is the rival character in the series. She is a prodigy and typically can master any spell with ease. The tower is pretty much a cakewalk for her. What I like about Diana is that she’s portrayed as a tough character, but she never becomes petty. A lot of times the bullies will show up to make fun of the main character for no real reason and quickly get jealous. Here Diana does get into it with Atsuko, but only in passing and it never becomes a priority. Diana isn’t suddenly switching life goals just because Atsuko is here. She also does her best to help against the dragon at the end. Diana is easily my favorite character and I look forward to seeing her return. She’s definitely a dependable ally that you can count on to always see the bigger picture.

The animation definitely looks really good. There aren’t a lot of flashy scenes to really let the animators show off, but the make the most of each moment. The opening scene with the monster and Chariot looks good and likewise for the climax. The rest of the film is smooth as well. You definitely can’t take away any points on this one. The soundtrack is fairly standard so that part doesn’t really stand out. What you’re really here for is the quality writing and pacing which is on point. The characters are all pretty realistic and the film doesn’t have any real negatives. It’s just a pleasant experience and one that will have a lot of replay value.

Overall, Little Witch Academia is a title that I would recommend. It’s pretty short as it skirts the line between a mini movie and an episode, but it does a good job of setting up the universe and characters right away. By the end of the film you’ll have a good understanding of the world and what’s going on. I’ve already seen the next film so I’ll have a review up for that one as well pretty soon. So stay tuned since the Little Witch adventures are not over yet.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Slayers Perfect Review

I’ve already seen the first two series (or seasons if you prefer) of Slayers and I’m currently in the middle of the third one so it’s good timing to check out the first film. It’s time to leave Gourry and friends as Lina teams up with a new ally this time…Naga! It certainly feels a lot different from the show in some regards while still keeping in many similar aspects. You could say the same about the title character, but I’ll discuss that more as we get deeper into the review. It’s a decent film, but it never manages to reach up to the level of the shows.

Lina is just enjoying a regular day of beating up thugs and gangs when she bumps into Naga, an old friend/rival. Naga informs her of some intense hot springs that are on a nearby country so they decide to go there since the Earth isn’t at stake at the moment. That changes when a wise sage visits Lina in her dreams and informs her that a demon is terrorizing many people. His name is Joyrock. Joyrock’s name may not be that scary, but his skills are respectable as it will take everything that Lina and Naga have if they want to defeat him. They also have to make time to defeat petty con artists and let people know the true nature of the hot springs. After all, the island has a ranking system so they will have to defeat all of the strong opponents if they want to become the very best!

Lina Inverse is our protagonist and she still has the reputation of being a pretty vicious fighter. That being said, she really doesn’t act like the Lina that we are used too from the TV show. She’s still pretty tough, but she has less interest in treasure and riches. Right now she is totally preoccupied with food so at least that is a trait that she has kept up with. Her abilities are also not quite as formidable as her Dragon Slave takes a lot more time to draw up and her array of attacks is considerably reduced. That being said, it’s not as if she’s going to have to face off against someone like Rezo anytime soon so she doesn’t need all of that extra power. She starts off pretty well by beating up a gang and she’s mostly taking charge during the whole film as she mows down fighter after fighter.

On the other hand, her inexperience shows at some points as well. She takes an old man’s word at face value about a special hot springs and she falls for a simple hypnosis trick. Finally, Lina doesn’t look very impressive against Joyrock. Now, Joyrock is a good fighter so I’m not going to take credit away from him on that front, but I would expect Lina to put up a longer fight. Throw some good spells at him or something! I always thought that magicians shouldn’t be afraid to just beam spam as long as their energy levels can hold out and that has never really been a problem in this series. I also have to admit that her voice really takes some getting used too. The accent is just very different from all of the other characters and it helps to make her sound younger, but it also makes her sound less self assured and confident than her TV show counterpart. I’m not sure how many years this takes place before the show, but I would guess no more than 10. I think I would probably like the voice more without the accent, but I’ll probably be used to it by the second or third film. It’ll be like Sonic’s new voice in Boom. I still end up liking it a lot as a good voice for Sonic, but nothing will beat the Adventure 2 Battle days. Overall, Lina’s still a solid protagonist who just needs to work on a few things.

I’m mostly pulling a blank on the soundtrack. I’m inclined to say that it was decent, but I can’t remember a single tune. It may be one of the most forgettable soundtracks that I’ve ever heard in an anime film. Slayers has never been at the top of its game in this area though. At least this gives the sequel an easy way to improve on this one since one good song is all that it would need to claim victory on this front.

Animation wise, it’s about on par with the first show. I’d say that it’s definitely worse than the high budget episodes of that series, but it can beat some of the earlier episodes. It’s probably not J.C. Staff’s best work, but sometimes it all depends on who works on the character designs or backgrounds. Usually, the energy blasts are what stand out, but Lina’s Dragon Slave just looked very unimpressive this time. It was just faded out and didn’t even look like it would be a threat to Joyrock. That being said, I think it would hold out pretty well if we compared it to other films of that year.

Naga is one of the big characters and she’s really similar to Martina. It’s never explained how she knows Lina, but they’ve clearly been friends for quite a while. She’s a skilled sorcerer as well although she rarely takes things very seriously. She does have a thing for hot springs though and she makes sure to put store owners on the spot if they try to use cheap ingredients to trick consumers. It’s hard to call her a hero, but at least she is usually on the side of justice if there is a reward to be had or just if she feels like it. She is unfortunately used for fanservice, but at least she typically acts like a decently good character. She’s not very likable, but as far as supporting characters go, she could certainly be worse. I’ll need to see her in more action scenes to see if she really has what it takes to stay on the crew.

Roudy is one of the main characters at the end of the film, but he doesn’t appear for most of the beginning. He’s a nice swordsman who grew up to be an old man who wasn’t quite as interesting. As a kid, he will definitely remind you of Gourry. I liked him in that form and he put up a brave fight against Joyrock, but he’s still just a kid. I guess he beat Gourry to the punch with mixing the Dragon Slave with the Sword of Light to create a form of the Giga Slave, but it’s not quite as all powerful. He was probably the best supporting character here if we ignore his elderly self. If we do not, then he ends up just being a decent character or maybe even a little unlikable.

Joyrock is the big antagonist of the film. He has a great design, but as a character he could certainly be better. He’s pretty generic and his overall goals are simply not that interesting. He’s a pretty good fighter, but you just know that he wouldn’t stand a chance if Lina had been more experienced. I guess he’s basically what you would expect from the average film villain. He doesn’t really get likable as the film goes on, but at least he treats us to some intense fight scenes. I suppose that this will have to do for now.

Naturally, Slayers Perfect’s biggest weakness is the fanservice. It’s a little more in your face than it is in the shows while still giving us more rude comments about Lina’s chest. It’s a running gag that unfortunately seems like it’s going to stick around and that’s not cool. Naga’s first appearance is quickly bogged down by fanservice as well and I could tell almost right away that this wasn’t going to be quite as good as the show. The show had some of this as well, but luckily it mostly died down after a while or we could go several episodes without it popping up. The film is only about an hour, but similar scenes occur throughout so it’s harder to cut the film any slack. I mean, just look at the poster! I had to apply some subtle edits since I thought that it would be a little too risque for the blog since this is still a family friendly blog with impressionable youngsters. So, this definitely took away a few points and was the main reason why a 7 was unattainable for Slayers.

The action scenes are pretty good when they happen. We get a few of them during Lina’s gauntlet against the island’s strongest fighters. The hypnosis couldn’t really fight, but we had someone who could multiply fish and naturally Joyrock’s fight. His stab against Lina was a pretty good cut although it was handled a little undramatic ally afterwards. The hit looked like it did a lot of damage, but in the end it appeared to be no more than a flesh wound. This is actually the main reason why I think the film should have been longer. A lot of the fights are fairly brief and a little more screen time would have been great.

Naturally, Slayers always tries to blend comedy and action together so most of the fights aren’t totally meant to be taken seriously, but a longer fight is always a better fight right? Exceptions are valid of course, but another 30 minutes would have been really good. The time travel plot also could have been longer since Lina basically had to save the day in a few minutes. That plot could have held its own hour by itself since time travel is always fun to see.

Overall, Slayers Perfect is a decent film. I would almost call it your perfectly average anime film as it has the pros and cons that you could expect from a normal film. The negatives include the excessive fan service and short duration (It’s not always a negative, but the film could have used some extra time) while the positives include some good action scenes and a solid main character. The soundtrack was surprisingly bland, but I’m sure that the sequel could get past this. I recommend checking this out if you are a big Slayers fan or if you want a fantasy adventure and don’t mind the negatives listed. That being said, you’re better off just watching the original Slayers series since it has the definitive version of Lina Inverse and Gourry is a better sidekick than Naga. Now that is the series that revolutionized the fantasy genre at the time.

Overall 5/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Naruto Mission Protect The Waterfall Village Review

This OVA will always hold a special place in my heart since it was at the origin of my venture into being a Naruto fan. I always get a retro feeling from watching this film (Even if this is only my second time watching it) and the climax never disappoints. It’s a fun venture back into the old Naruto days and they did a good job with it. It had its flaws of course, but the pros outweigh the cons.

Naruto and friends have been assigned to protect a man named Shibuki. Shibuki is the leader of the Hidden Waterfall village. The very location of this place is a secret from just about everyone for security reasons. Shibuki then convinces Kakashi to have his team pick up the trash for some extra money. Kakashi gladly agrees to this and he quickly heads back to the Leaf Village. Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura are to follow once they have completed their mission, but the three shinobi are attacked by some rogue ninja. Will our heroes really be able to deal with this?

Well, it’s pretty interesting to see them try to fight these guys since our heroes were very inexperienced back then. From their power levels and the way that they fight, you would guess that this was either right after Zabuza or right before the Chunin Exams. (Not much of a gap there anyway……) Sasuke has mastered his Sharingan, but he definitely doesn’t have the speed that he acquired to fight Gaara. Naruto is in his clone spamming days and he doesn’t seem to know the Rasengan at this time. This was probably the toughest point in Team 7’s career. The heroes were actually more grounded than the average main characters after 5 or so volumes. (Bleach volume 5- Ichigo is already a supersonic warrior of legend, Yu Yu Hakusho volume 5- Yusuke is already getting familiar with his spirit gun and his abilities would possibly be around Kakashi level or slightly lower, etc) Sakura doesn’t fight at all so it’s hard to gauge just how prepared for action she is.

Nevertheless, the villains couldn’t have picked a better time to attack. It’s unfortunate for the Waterfall Village because the secret location is pretty easy to guess. The village is….behind the local waterfall!!! I don’t know whether that’s ingenius or just sad, but it evidently tricks most ninja. The villains only find out about this because the main one used to be a ninja there. The location of the village also provides a lot of questions. How can kids and seniors be expected to hold their breath for the reeeeeally long swim to and from the village? We see a possible answer since one of the old ladies just walks out of a forest claiming that she’s from the village, but then what’s the point of the shortcut? It seems like you can enter the secret way or you can just go all around through the forest. If that is the case, the writers really didn’t plan this out… all.

Back on point, the villains aren’t very interesting. Suien is the main villain and he’s just a corrupt ninja who fled when the going got tough. He wants the Hero’s Water so that he can live a glorious (and short) life. It increases a person’s chakra levels by 10X after all. (It also shortens a person’s life by 10X) We are never given any scenes to develop the villain, which aren’t typically necessary, but then the villain at least needs a cool design to fall back on. This guy has none of that and I can’t say that he’s that impressive without the enhancement. Once he has it, Suien’s super strength certainly looks good…which I found to be interesting to say the least. I’ll make the DBZ comparisons in a moment.

Suien had some partners, but none of them really appear all that much and they look terrible by the end. A single shot takes them down in an instant. The main filler character of the film is Shibuki and he’s pretty bad. He doesn’t want to risk his life and he’s the type of guy who won’t admit it either. He’ll act pretty ungrateful all the time and it’s really hard to root for him. He’s clearly not much of a fighter and he only became the leader because his father was the former (cooler) leader. He has his big moment towards the end, but he still almost let one of the kids die about 3-4 times before he stepped in. That’s pretty unacceptable so he gets a thumbs down from me.

Naruto looks pretty great here and it reminds me that he always has the potential to be a great character even if he doesn’t always live up to that. He stays determined to win and save everyone even while he is being pounded into the ground. It’s hard not to root for Naruto since he really looks great here. I dare say that he is probably the best character if we’re just judging from this OVA. He looks pretty weak if we’re talking about power, but he doesn’t let that stop him. Naturally, Sasuke will always be the better character….

Sasuke still looks pretty great as you would expect. He’s very confident and his abilities speak for themselves. He’s considerably stronger than Naruto at this point in time, but that also means that he has to lose since that will give the film some shock value. I don’t really agree with how he lost, but at least Sasuke dealt a lot of damage first. I have no problems with his portrayal and it was as good as you would expect from him.

Sakura doesn’t look very good and her fans will certainly be disappointed with her portrayal. She doesn’t fight at all and even the villains comment on how weak she is. That’s not what we expect from someone in the Haruno clan! Luckily she got some abilities after the 3 year timeskip, but this was certainly a tough time to be a Sakura fan. It’s hard to find any positives for her in this OVA….better luck next time I guess.

I felt like the writers had watched more DBZ than Naruto before they made this OVA. Chakra levels are treated completely like Ki from DBZ. The more chakra that you have, the greater that your speed and power increases. Suien is practically able to fly by the end and his punches can send his opponents into the distance with ease. He punches Naruto through a mountain and he can break someone’s bones by casually stepping on them. Chakra is good to have, but it doesn’t necessarily increase your physical stats or at least not by such a noticeable amount. It just means that you can use more ninjutsu, which is why your chakra level isn’t a downright huge factor. It’s still fun to see how much chakra a person has since it tends to show how skilled they are, but this felt more like sheer aura power than chakra.

My only negative would probably be in how much the villains get to pound on the heroes because it really makes you wince at Kakashi’s decision to leave. The heroes really take a beating in this OVA and the villagers are not safe either. The kids actually absorb their share of damage, which was a bit much. We don’t need to see the villains hurting the kids do we? Keep it to the ninja! (Who are kids, but they’re fighters so it’s different) That’s the only real negative for the film and the rest of it was classic popcorn fun.

The OVA also follows the concept of Naruto a little more than the show did. Team 7 basically act as mercenaries who simply aren’t holding back. Sasuke terminated nearly 10 of the enemy shinobi without a second thought. It’s not unheard of since that’s what ninja do, but it’s not something that you expect to see from them. Luckily, Naruto doesn’t destroy anyone so he’s still on the path to heroism while Sasuke’s foreshadowing got to start a little earlier than expected.

The animation is pretty good, but it’s not great. It’s basically at the TV show’s level and it looks better than the Zabuza arc, but not as good as the Chunin Exams. The fight scene between the two sword fighters at the end was pretty great and I liked the final battle as well. They were brief, but the animation really gets to shine in the fights. The soundtrack is from the show so it’s pretty great. I think that an OVA for a show should always get an original soundtrack or at least a few new tunes, but you still can’t fault the classic themes. They help to get you pumped up for the battles that are ahead.

Overall, This was a pretty fun OVA. It would have been nice to see Naruto put up a better fight in round 1, but he made up for that performance by the end. The animation is good and the soundtrack is pretty solid as well. It’s not very long (around 40 minutes) so the special will be over before you know it. This is a decent way to get into the Naruto franchise and I recommend it to any action fan. Just try not to wince when Kakashi leaves the main characters to fend themselves off in an unknown land while he heads all the way back to the village by himself…

Overall 7/10