Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Pokemon XY The Strongest Mega Evolution Act IV Review

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It’s time to close out this series since Act IV appears to be the last one. It’s been a fun ride and was certainly filled with a lot of action. It definitely gets you hyped for the climactic clash between Alain and Ash. I’m satisfied with how this all ended even if Alain’s naivety can be a bit much. Seriously, his goals seem pretty iffy and he certainly takes contradictory steps to get him to the end goal.

Alain decides that he wants to be the strongest Pokemon Trainer of all time. His boss Lysandre tells Alain that he will need to defeat 10 Mega Pokemon trainers in a row. If he loses even one of them, Alain will be forced to hand over his Mega Stone and he’ll be fired. Alain doesn’t seem to mind the fact that this is basically a threat and agrees to the challenge. “Fight’s over son” is what his opponents should have said, but none of them went that far. In the subplot, Mairin is forced into tears once more and her Pokemon helps a prisoner escape the evil facility, but becomes sickly in the process. This is alarming and it seems like Lysandre may not be the nice guy that we thought he was. Of course…who ever actually believed that one right?

As always, the animation is quite good for the special. This one was basically just nonstop action the whole time and while the fight in episode I was probably still the most impressive, the quality doesn’t let up here. It’s still sad to see the Pokemon wait for the trainer to give out an attack instead of making a move, but it seems to be their destiny. After all, getting caught by the Pokeball has always seemed like a subtle form of brainwashing, which is what made the N plot from the Unova days so interesting. Maybe it also takes away some of their intelligence or free will to even think about doing something without a command. It’s something to think about. We get quite a few Mega Pokemon here as Alain runs through them all with minimal effort.

One thing to note is that Alain’s Charizard has the edge over most of the Pokemon thanks to the type advantage. It was interesting to see so many grass Pokemon in the mix, maybe Lysandre has a heart inside of him after all! That being said, I have to call in plot hax to the fact that Alain won all of the fights. Especially when you consider the fact that the very first opponent was giving him a lot of trouble. There’s no way that he should have been able to have defeated an Elite Four member in his weakened state. I’m not buying it and that’s why Ash is always routinely defeated by these guys. They mean business pure and simple.

There was one intriguing moment in the film where the Dub seems to have messed something up. I forgot the context so you’ll have to watch the film yourself. It involves Alain answering a question with a big No, followed by a little line and then a No. It was just odd and I don’t think that it was intentional. Maybe….but unlikely. The soundtrack was pretty fun. Oddly enough, the soundtrack for the full length Hoopa film wasn’t very good, but this special used quite a few themes from the games and that’s always fun to see. We had a remix from what I think was probably the Red/Kanto games and another one from the newer titles. Good music themes can always make the difference in a film so you want to have good ones.

I’d say that the main frustrating part of the film is Alain. His goal is to become the strongest Pokemon Trainer, which is a great one. The problem is that he goes about it the wrong way. Being Lysandre’s Yes Man is not the greatest job in the world and he’s mean to Mairin for no reason. He wants to make things right by saving her Pokemon, but it really made no sense to be rude to her earlier. He can’t seem to make up his mind. Furthermore, it’s odd that he doesn’t even suspect that the organization is evil. I thought that it was obvious when the group grabbed the crystal and it should be even more evident now that a Pokemon is sick from the mysterious lab. They were clearly imprisoning a Pokemon and while the heroes don’t know that, the dots should be connected now. It seems like a Professor is close to figuring out the truth though.

I do like the concept of having a “hero” who is being tricked and working for an evil organization since it can lead to a good fight between heroes. Case in point, Ash and Alain are going to be facing off against each other soon so that’s going to be great since Alain is already an established character. It’s like having Yugi fight Jaden or Batman going up against Captain America. Of course, the former barely counts since it’s best when the two characters are seriously fighting each other with something at stake. I’m certainly going to be on Ash’s side and I want him to crush Alain, but Alain is still a good main character. The fact that he’s getting suckered so easily and convincingly is part of why I’m looking forward to Ash pounding him flat. Alain needs to learn from someone who knows, that you’ve gotta see the bigger picture. That’s probably how Ash made it all the way back to age 10 after so many years. Charizard is a great partner for Alain as well and it’s easy to see how they’ve beaten so many opponents. He really means business.

There’s a nice twist ending in the film as well. If there’s anything that can match up to a crossover battle, it’s seeing the next big villain. The Pokemon that was being experimented on is getting ready for vengeance and hopefully he is able to take down the villain organization. Those guys have definitely got to go. Steven should know that the group is evil as well since he’s supposed to be a pretty wise guy so this is all partially his fault as well. I still don’t care for Mairin as a character and she’s definitely not needed here, but she could be worse I suppose. She’s mostly getting in the way though, but Alain still needs to remember that there are no johns (excuses) in Pokemon battles.

Overall, A Pokemon special with nonstop action the whole time is definitely a good way to get me interested in what’s happening. Alain’s story ends here and it’ll be great to see him return from Ash’s point of view soon. In the anime, Ash just got his Mega Pokemon recently so since Alain can’t stand to see another trainer use a Mega that he has not defeated, things are definitely going to heat up a lot in the upcoming moments. With that epic cliffhanger at the ready, I’m looking forward to seeing the Pokemon’s true form. I remember seeing it a while back and the design was certainly awesome. Steven and Mairin may be rather uninteresting supporting characters, but all that you need in the end is a good main character to have a TV special succeed. While Alain is a watered down Sasuke, he still has his moments and I’d say that he ended this 4 part special as a good (naive) character.

Overall 8/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Digimon Adventure The Movie Review


It had certainly been quite a while since I had seen this film. I’ve seen it a few times in the past and recently I finally saw the subbed version. It’s definitely interesting to compare and contrast the two versions. I grew up on the dub and I’m always very partial to that format so it certainly wins for me, but both of them are certainly solid. The film is very short and is essentially an episode, but we still get a nice fight at the end and that’s what counts. It’s a nice way to start off your Digimon anime experience and Godzilla fans will definitely appreciate it.

Tai and his sister Kari were having an ordinary day at home when an egg shows up and a monster jumps out of it. The monster is nice and pretty small at first, but things start to get a little worrisome when it evolves into Agumon and breaks the roof of their house. It jumps away with Kari so now Tai must find this monster and rescue his sister. Tai will have to hurry with this as well since another monster is about to come through the gates and this one’s not an ally! Can Tai really keep it together under such duress? Well…this is Tai that we’re talking about!

The original version takes itself a little more seriously than its English counterpart. The music is very subdued and soft. Unfortunately, this does mean that we don’t get any real battle/action themes in the film so the fight is more of a visual experience. No crude humor jokes at least and the film has some extra scenes that weren’t in the dub. I can see why the beak getting smashed was cut out although the fire blast to the wing wasn’t that bad and could have easily been kept. It’s definitely more of a thriller in the original cut as the whole thing is pretty mysterious and a little out of nowhere for the main characters so it’s really a trial by storm. I’d probably give this version a 6/10, but the dub helps the overall score jump by a star as it wasn’t too far away from that anyway.

In the Dub version, it’s more of a comedy action. We even get some narration that I could probably do without, but most of the dub’s other qualities are good. For starters, the music is a drastic improvement even if it doesn’t feel very Digimon esque at times. The battle theme is much more fitting for the climax and the Dub just has an epic feel to it at the end. There are also more burns and epic one liners in the dub like a truck driver scene that I had completely forgotten involving two truck drivers and one who fell asleep at the wheel. (The wiki is pretty handy for times like this) Tai jokes about how large the egg is and he’s never speechless when it comes to these strange occurrences. An overload of jokes can be bad if they’re poorly written like in Pixels, but for something like Digimon that has quality control, it works out pretty well. Another good part on the dub is that it cuts out a random scene where we find out that Tai’s father is a drunk. Yeah, we didn’t need to know that! The dub’s high intensity and one liners help to alleviate my slight weakness with the film that will come up in a second. Regardless of what version you watch, the animation for the fight scene at the end is very good and this film certainly succeeds on a technical level.

If the film has a main weakness, it’s that the happy days scenes can drag a little. As you may or may not be aware, I’m not a big fan of kids and babies in films and other media. Kids are usually exempt in anime though (I can elaborate on that if necessary in the comments) and I actually thought that Tai was a pretty good character. Kari…not so much, but at least we know that she gets a lot better in the actual anime. I actually didn’t care for Koromon. He is cool as Agumon and Greymon, but the chasing each other around the room and the odd face hug parts were moments that could have been dramatically shortened. That’s really it though and while the scenes can get a little dull, it’s not something that will really hurt the experience for you. It’s already a short film after all so how much can it really drag out right?

What I think would have made the film a little better would have been for a larger cast or at least one more character to be with Tai. It would help to give us some more dialogue and if we were lucky, maybe even some banter. Alternately, the easier and possibly even more effective strategy would just be to make Tai a little older. Of course in that case, the film would need to have made it a different cast since that may not have made a whole lot of sense for the TV show and we don’t want logic holes right from the get go right? As just mentioned, Tai is already a good character in this film. He takes charge and isn’t afraid of anything. Once Kari is taken away, he quickly goes outside on his own and confronts the Digimon. It’s easy to see why he became the leader of the group. Kari can’t really talk all that much at this point in the film so it would essentially be impossible for her to be a likable character. If she couldn’t talk, but was old enough to still have a personality, then it could be a different story. The other main characters of the TV show make cameo appearances so that’s neat for their fans I suppose.

It almost goes without saying that Parrotmon makes for a great villain. He has a nice projectile and in terms of pure power, Parrotmon is actually able to hold his own against Greymon. That’s pretty impressive when you really think about it since Parrotmon is typically a zoner when it comes to combat. Greymon is a great homage to Godzilla as well and their battle was done so well. A clash of anime Kaiju is something that you don’t see every day and sometimes not even in a full year. You will also be able to recognize some of the famous Godzilla roars if you pay close enough attention to the details.

Overall, Digimon Adventure starts out right with this quick film. It was probably fun for the people who ended up seeing this day 1 and becoming a fan of the franchise. It’s certainly lasted quite a while and may be the 2nd most popular mon show at this point. It’s probably solidified its standing there as well so nothing will be passing it anytime soon. I’ve seen this film many times in the past and it’s an enjoyable film for fans and people who haven’t seen Digimon yet. If you’re looking for a film with a nice fight scene at the end as a foreshadowing of things to come, then you should check this film out. It’s a little light on action of course, but no worries, the TV show has fight scenes in bulk! Naturally, this review also comes at a good time as the new Digimon film series is finally here. Yes, this site is just That good!

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Rebellion Review

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All right, it’s time to look at the movie that followed the TV show for Madoka Magica. I’m assuming that you have already seen the TV show so I will be mentioning the ending since we have to connect how it leads into the film and what happened. While the movie isn’t quite as amazing as the TV show, it’s still great and gives us some epic fight scenes while still dealing with deep themes. The ending is not as satisfying as the TV show’s end, but it is fairly original.

As you remember from the TV show, Madoka used her unlimited magical powers to recreate reality and add another rule to the books. The Law of Cycles was created and when magical girls are filled with despair, Madoka takes them to the afterlife so that no witches are born. Sayaka was taken so the rest of the magical girls were on their own and Homura was the only one who was allowed to keep her memories of Madoka. The witches were gone, but in their place came a new evil, the Wraiths.

That should have been the end of everything, but Homura wakes up one day in a world that seems to have forgotten this. Witches are still gone, but so are Wraiths. Nightmares have taken up their place and Sayaka, as well as Madoka are both alive once again. Kyubey acts like he cannot talk anymore and Mami is friends with the witch who ate her in the show. This world seems messed up and Homura has to find a way to make everything turn back to how it was. This labyrinth cannot hold her forever!

There’s a lot to say here so where to start right? Let’s go into the technical parts of the film first. The soundtrack is not quite as good as the TV show’s since we’re missing the incredible end theme that was present over there. Nonetheless, it’s still quite good and the songs definitely give the film the feeling that the heroes are always in danger. You can tell that the very city is sinister the entire time and it helps to create a good atmosphere for the viewers.

Animation wise, the movie likes to be very abstract so it doesn’t show off the animation very often. For the most part, you won’t notice much of a difference between the show and the movie. That being said, there is one scene where the film uses its animation seriously when Mami fights with Homura. That was certainly the highlight of the film and the action scene is quite good and we get to see why you have to fight very carefully when time control is being used. The two heroines shoot hundreds of bullets at each other so when time moves again, it gets very chaotic. These two are also likely the strongest of the magical girls so seeing them fight was epic.

The fight wasn’t very short either so we really got to see what they could do. Obviously, Homura could win in an instant with time control so Mami intelligently placed a thread on Homura so that Mami wouldn’t be stuck in time. That move’s what makes the fight so even. Homura was confident that she could win the fight, but she was also trying not to destroy her friend in the process. Both of them were holding back and due to the circumstances, I’m fine with Homura not winning. With her time mastery, she is virtually invincible, but take that away and Mami should in fact have the edge thanks to her incredible offensive capabilities.

I liked her as a character much more here than in the show. Of course, Mami didn’t crack here like she did in the other version and even tried to stop Homura from shooting herself. I’m actually glad that Mami defended Bebe since they were friends for quite a while so she shouldn’t betray the creature just for a transfer student. Protecting one’s friends is what a magical girl does after all so while I was rooting for Homura to win, Mami made the right decision in fighting at that point.

Kyoko’s still ahead of the other Magical Girls for me (Aside from Homura) and she gets a decently good role here. She’s the first to be told that the world isn’t real and she backs Homura up the whole time. By the end of the film, her role quickly begins to grow smaller, but she is a little outmatched against the heavy hitters. She has been surpassed by all of the other magical girls, but she still tries hard and is a nice friend to have.

Madoka is an interesting case here because some twists make her look a little bad and possibly weak considering that she’s all powerful. All right gang, spoilers for the film are coming up now so skip the rest of the paragraphs to avoid them until the final one. I do recommend just checking out the film before reading the review so you can have your own thoughts on what just happened and your views on Homura’s decisions. Before going into the characters, I should really talk about the timeline here so that it all makes sense. As you remember, Homura was still fighting Wraiths in the after credits scene of the show. She was not fighting to save the world, but she did it because that’s what Madoka would have wanted.

Well, at some point, the Incubators found her. It’s hinted that it may have been willingly, but even if it wasn’t, the Incubators trapped her soul in a prism so that nothing could interfere with it. This allowed Homura’s despair to turn her soul into a witch since the Law of Cycles cannot breach the barrier that the Incubators had put around her soul. If you think about it for a minute, this means that the Incubators were able to defy one of the fundamental laws of the universe. It’s been hinted that these cosmic beings can do just about anything, but their limits are very vague so it’s still hard to quantify. They cannot end entropy on their own after all and offensively, they don’t seem to have a lot of power, but maybe it’s all just an act. They have no emotions so they may not even care what happens to their physical selves.
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Back to the timeline though, as a witch, Homura recreated the city where she used to fight with the other heroines. Her soul lured in Mami, Kyoko, Sayaka’s friend, and the violin player among others. It was impossible for anyone to free Homura from the outside and once the heroes were tricked into entering her labyrinth, they could not get out again and they also forgot their memories rather quickly. It was like the old days of entering a witch’s labyrinth, but Homura is much stronger than an ordinary opponent. Homura even erased her own memories so that she could have fun with her friends. It was created to be a perfect world after all so she would have infinite happiness here.

In the end, her illusion was too good and Homura sought out the truth. There were 3 people in her labyrnth who didn’t belong. Madoka realized that her friend was in trouble so she assumed a physical form once more and entered the labyrnth. Realizing that there was a lot of danger here, she gave her powers to a creature known as Bebe and gave Sayaka her memories. They are essentially Madoka’s bodyguards and have ascended with her to the next plane of existence. Naturally, this means that they both got a big power boost, which explains why Sayaka was so quick in her brief scuffle with Homura. Madoka forgot her memories, but the two bodyguards didn’t lose theirs.

The heroes were able to defeat Homura’s witch form and made it back to the real world. Homura’s despair had still covered her soul so Madoka reached out to take her to the afterlife, but Homura had actually been tainted more than the heroes had realized and literally ripped out the human Madoka from her godself and altered the laws of reality once more. Homura essentially became evil to counter Madoka being good. If Madoka became a god then Homura was essentially a devil. (The word demon is used in the film) She decided to recreate the universe and now Homura is the ruler of it all. Madoka still has her limitless power and could overthrow Homura in time, but she has lost her memories again.

The film ends with Homura stating that the heroes will remember at some point and they will try to fight her. With Homura’s abilities are great as they are now, it’s hard to see how they can pose a challenge. Only Madoka can hope to defeat Homura and she will need to get her memories back first to do that. Sayaka seems to recall some parts of what happened even after Homura erased her memories so she will likely be the key if the film ever gets a sequel.

A sequel really isn’t needed, but I would like one. We know that Homura will either keep them under her power for eternity or they will eventually defeat her, but what will the heroes do then? Madoka can recreate the universe a third time or bring things back to the way they were. If Madoka does the latter, the Earth is not in a good state. From what we saw of the present, there aren’t many inhabitants anymore and the whole world is like a large desert. It’s easy to see how the heroes succumb to despair so quickly and it’s what ended up breaking Homura. If Madoka ends up just recreating things from scratch, it will be like Terminator where the cycle will never end, but at least then the heroes get to have more adventures.

By the end, I thought that the film did a pretty great job of explaining everything. Now, the whole film works well into a linear timeline and the show also made a good amount of sense and it’ll probably feel even more grim when you watch it since you know that Homura ultimately ends up turning evil and wasted Madoka’s wish. The one really iffy part here is how Homura was able to grab infinite Madoka and pull her down from the heavens. She is now a demon who is evil incarnate, but that should not be enough power to grab Madoka even if the heroine was surprised.

As I mentioned earlier, the ending is very original because evil actually won in the end. There was no happy ending to be found and the powers of love and friendship lost to a twisted version of those that Homura used. Whether you decide that good wins in the end or not, the film ends with evil having the clear upper hand and it’s really 50/50 as to what side will ultimately claim victory this time. Madoka can’t count on any of the other characters to help her aside from Sayaka so it will be tough.
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So, I still like Madoka a lot like in the show, but the one thing that makes her look a little bad is that she lost her memories when she went into the labyrnth. It’s okay for the mortals to lose theirs, but Madoka is literally a concept who is above everything in the universe. She should have had enough power to have stopped Homura without putting in any effort. I’m glad that she stepped in unlike most cosmic deities, but it did make her look a little weak. It’s a good thing that she has two bodyguards by her side. This will likely give One Above All fans from Marvel some breathing room for debates since Madoka clearly has some weaknesses now. Personality wise, she’s definitely still a lot of fun though. Even without infinite power, she’s a good fighter.

Sayaka is no longer mortal and she can now use her witch form to fight, which makes for a pretty good power up. She’s a solid character as you would expect and still backs Madoka up whenever they get into a tough situation. She has moved on from the violin player, which is great character development if you ask me. That guy certainly wasn’t adding to the story so I’m cool with him being gone from the main focus. The power up was also very good for Sayaka and I’m glad that she was able to keep her memories and personality since she had been dead.

Kyubey is still as sly and crafty as ever and his plan here is really ambitious as he wants to control Madoka and her unlimited power. I don’t think that the plan should be very plausible, but I suppose that if Madoka had destroyed Homura while inside of the gem, then they would be able to steal her power, but it’s all assuming that Madoka couldn’t break out of the barrier and with unlimited power, I feel like she should be able to easily bust free. Those cosmic beings definitely have some good tech to be able to stop her. His chase scene with Homura was a lot of fun and it was like a high budget version of what happened in the first episode of the show. It’s impressive that he was able to last so long when Homura was really out to get him.

Homura’s story is the most tragic like usual and she totally went off the deep end. At the start of the film, she was the Homura that we all remembered as she tried to escape this fake world. She was willing to fight her friends and get into a lot of trouble to restore Madoka’s vision because she’s always done everything to save her friend. That being said, the revelation of being a witch and the temptation of being able to keep Madoka in the world was too much for her and she ended up being a total villain by the end. Homura’s sharp change in personality was definitely drastic and she is now a complete demon and definitely not a magical girl. Her abilities have risen tremendously and she can now erase memories and do what she wants with the world. While her abilities aren’t unlimited like Madoka’s, she seems to have gained a fraction of them. She mentions that she took the Madoka part of the Law of Cycles while the other two are still around with their powers intact, but all three have lost their memories now. (Sayaka may have some though)

It’s too bad that Homura is a total villain now. I also don’t fully understand why Homura made her final decision. If she had gone with Madoka to the afterlife, they would have been together forever like with Sayaka, who is always by Madoka’s side now. That would surely be better than trapping her in the new Earth while repressing her memories. I don’t fully understand Homura’s rationale for doing this, but since she has become a demon, she may just prefer it this way.

If you ignore the moral implications for a second, Homura’s world is actually a lot better than Madoka’s. Everyone is essentially back to life and the world is how it was before everything was destroyed. The Kyubey race can no longer hurt them and while villains are still around, the heroes can defeat them with ease. Everyone gets to live and Madoka doesn’t have to be a cosmic entity who can’t hang out with her friends anymore. On the surface, it’s a perfect world. The problem is that Homura had to alter everyone’s memories so they wouldn’t object to it. Madoka simply erased her existence from everyone’s minds, which is different from Homura deliberately altering her friends so they wouldn’t try to stop her.

If she had willingly gotten everyone to agree to her plan, then it would be completely okay. She just went about it the wrong way. For her, it’s likely a deal that is worth it since she gets to hang out with Madoka again. (I don’t get why Madoka had to be the transfer student this time though. Wouldn’t that change so many things that Homura should be a little concerned?) As always, Homura is just doing things for Madoka. Now, the heroine won’t have to be a cosmic deity who is forever alone. That being said, Homura is also looking out for herself this time and now she gets to have the life that she always wanted. I feel like I would sympathize with her wish a little more if she didn’t act so creepy/evil in the final scenes. For some characters, their bond is stronger than their desire for justice so protecting Madoka at any costs is something that I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with especially with how well the world turned out to be. Seriously, if Homura hadn’t been so over the top at the end, I wouldn’t have minded the ending nearly as much. Homura’s still a villain, but she’s a very likable villain at this point. Who knew that one character would end up being the best hero and the best villain in this franchise!

When you think about it, friendship is still the main theme here. The main difference with this compared to other shows is that the powers of friendship actually hurt the main characters. Madoka sees that Homura is in trouble and decided to enter the labyrinth in a human form, but it was her undoing. Homura’s friendship for Madoka turned into something sinister and led her into the road of evil. Everyone believed in the power of friendship, it just turned out badly for the characters.

Naturally, the series got even higher in the tier lists here thanks to Homura’s big power boost. Not to mention that Sayaka was also a lot stronger as well. This series really does blow the rest of the magical girl series away with how strong the heroes are. Mami could likely take down the group of sailor scouts on her own if you ask me. The Wraiths and Nightmares weren’t particularly impressive, but they have a lot of minions, which will help to distract the opponents. In a possible sequel, I’m sure that the characters would get even stronger!

As with the show, we get a lot of random abstract scenes during the show, which are always intriguing. The cotton balls with mustaches are still around and we get to see them fight the new villains at one point. The magical girls also have a weird transformation scene for each of them, which are all odd and likely have deeper meanings, but it’s good to just take them at face value sometimes. One really entertaining scene was the cake song where the heroes took on the nightmare. It was fairly creepy, funny, and entertaining at the same time. Talk about high stakes!

With the battle between good and evil, the film reminds you that it can be very easy to cross that bridge. Madoka allowed her friend to pull her back from her ascension and Homura turned evil. One must be strong and know when to hold steady so that you do not end up being led astray. Saving someone else is always a top priority and you must make every endeavor to complete that mission, but you must also not allow yourself to become weak enough that you are dragged to the dark side yourself. It’s something that Madoka probably wishes that she had known earlier.

It should be quickly noted that the original ending was actually Homura ascending with Madoka, but it was altered before the film came out due to the company pulling rank. That’s too bad because that ending would have been perfect. It even felt like the film could have ended there so there was definitely some behind the scenes action going. The extra content isn’t bad per say, but this ending would have been superior!
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Overall, Rebellion was a fun movie and it was still really great. I wasn’t crazy about the ending, but it was a very thought provoking film like I expected and the characters were still all likable like in the show. The soundtrack and animation are strong and the film was around 2 hours so it had quite a lot of time to develop. The Mami vs Homura scene is the one to look out for and the film nearly ends at one point, which was a great fake out. It’s also slightly regrettable though since that ending would have been vastly superior to the true one that we got. If you enjoyed the TV show, then you should definitely enjoy this film and it’s cool to see the main characters finally get to fight as a team for a change since they all got to be alive in the fake world. I do hope that the film gets a sequel at some point so that we can have a more positive ending for the heroes. Particularly for Homura since she’s still my favorite character in the series so I’m hoping that she’ll see the light and realize how far she has come from being the noble hero that she used to be. I’m confident that she would become a hero again in the next film. While her new personality is still pretty epic as the villain, it’s just not the ending that I had envisioned for her. Madoka has always been a layered show and Homura’s final actions are much deeper than your average villain’s. I don’t believe for a second that she should not be considered as a villain by the end because her wish was selfish and altering someone’s memories is always immoral, but at least it’s a decision that I can understand. The whole concept of helping someone through whatever means possible is always an intriguing one and something that I can sometimes agree with. It’s a concept that I’ll probably try to discuss more in a future review that deals with the subject. It shouldn’t be too long until something has this theme again since it can be quite prevalent at times. Almost forgot, make sure that you stick around for the after credits scene. It is fairly vague, but you get to decide what just happened. I like to think that someone is protecting the world from Kyubey and doing it in a way that Madoka would object to, which will raise some tension for the next film.

Overall 9/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Slayers Premium Review

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I have gone through most of the Slayers franchise and have finally arrived at the last movie. The movies have typically been one of the best parts about the Slayers franchise as we clearly saw in the last installment. Unfortunately, this one is not able to keep up. For some reason, it’s only about 30-35 minutes in length so there’s not a lot of time for anything to happen. It simply feels like an episode. A decent episode, but not one that will rock your world. All right, let’s check out the Premium film!

Lina and Gourry are enjoying a nice Octopus dinner when Gourry starts to talk in gibberish. Apparently, the Octopus have all gone bad and anyone who eats them will talk in the creature’s native language. The effects start to spread and simply living puts you at risk of getting this illness. Lina must find the big boss behind this and put the creature to justice, but how can she win when she can’t even understand her friends? A wise mage may know a spell to stop this, but he is already infected with the curse. Luckily, Amelia and Zelgadis show up to help, but will their combined strength be enough to win?

As I mentioned, this movie is only half an hour so it really goes by in a flash. It’s a fun ride as always since Slayers typically does a good job of mixing humor and action. I’d say that it succeeded here as we still got a decent fight without the comedy going over the top and the atmosphere felt right. It’s similar to the Son Goku and Friends Return OVA while having a little more substance. The cast from the TV show is in this movie, which is a big change from the others, but the voices couldn’t come along with them. While Xellos may have an improved voice, I’m too used to the TV show versions to care for the others. Lina is the exception of course as I am already fairly used to her movie accent. She’s really toned down the Southern aspect of it though and I kinda miss that part. Ah well, she still takes charge and defends the world fairly well. Gourry is now more defensive of his meals, but Lina still manages to get the last laugh. As always, Lina never disappoints as the leader of the gang.

Gourry is back to being rather under average and it’s barely his fault this time. Speaking in Octopus distorts a person’s words, but they don’t hear the result. So, Gourry will hear himself say, “I’m awesome!” but to everyone else it may sound like “Larry!” As a result, Gourry says a lot of provacative things even though he means to say something else. So, technically, he is a good character here, but the gag ends up turning him into an unlikable one. At least he helps out against the villains.

None of the other heroes are able to do that. Xellos is around, but since when does he help the heroes? He mostly observes and has a good laugh at the heroes’ expense. Amelia may have been a fighter back in the day, but she is completely ineffective against the Octopus. She was really looking forward to eating them for dinner, but maybe that’s the problem. They certainly weren’t going to show her any mercy after they heard that! Amelia was a good character here. She may have been a little more strong willed than usual, but she almost felt like she could have been the main character if this was another show.

As for good ole Zelgadis, he also looks very bad against the Octopus minions. You would think that this could have been his big moment, but Lina had to save him like she did with everyone else. Gone are the days when he was known as a tough guy and he is really just a punching bag at this point. I can’t say that I’m a fan, but he didn’t look bad here. Just really weak. There was also a filler character who told Lina and the others about the plight, but as the movie was so short, her role was minimal. She technically plays a crucial role with her spells, but she’s just your average filler character.

The villains are all rather inconsequential as well. The main Octopus has a nifty hair style, but that’s about it for him. He wants revenge on the humans, but is doomed. The final boss is a giant Dragon/Sea Lord who hungers. Its energy blasts are able to destroy a tree, but it takes a few shots. He was your average giant monster. Cool design, but he ultimately went down very quickly when matched up with the boundless power of the Dragon Slave!

The ending is fairly tragic for the Octopus. They are reminded that the town’s economy really depends on eating them so the new agreement is that the Octopus will still be eaten, but only their tendrils since they can grow back. This way, there’s an endless supply of them to eat and the Octopus can keep their lives. It doesn’t sound like a very fair bet if you ask me. Meanwhile, Naga gets a very small cameo here. I guess we will probably never get to see her interact with the TV show cast. That would have certainly been interesting so that’s too bad, but in this case, it could be for the best that she didn’t get a real role. Sometimes, it simply isn’t worth the risk with her character.

Unfortunately, this movie dipped back into some of the negatives, which hurt the OVAs. We get the chest comments once again and that gag got old the first time that it ever showed up in the franchise. Seriously, at this point, it should just stay down. Also, Amelia of all characters is actually used for mild fanservice. It’s rather mild at least and it’s not as in your face as some of the other Slayer products, but it’s a little sad that Amelia is the victim here. She’s still just a kid so the whole situation doesn’t make sense. This keeps it from getting a solid seven like some of the other Slayer movies, but it’s not bad enough to cripple the score either.

With this movie, the animation is finally starting to look more modern. This is easily the best animation that we’ve seen from the franchise. Everything is really bright and vibrant. The character designs are all updated and the Dragon Slave really looks good. While the other Slayers products looked like the good ole 90’s style, this one is clearly from the 2000’s era. It just goes to show what a difference a few years can make.

As for the soundtrack, it’s a little on the uninspired side. The final theme for the credits isn’t that good and the animation in the background didn’t have much of a budget. Most of the other songs are also old or simply not memorable. Slayers is a franchise that really isn’t known for its music. Perhaps the staff in charge of the music will read this review and quickly decide to make a new movie just so they can show off some new tunes. That would certainly be epic.

Overall, Slayers Premium is a decent Slayers movie. It’s so short that you may as well just call it your average episode or an OVA. The animation is at its best and it is fun to see the TV show cast appear once again. The only design that is a little worse than the show’s would be Gourry’s sword of light. It looks way too thin if you ask me and comes off as a generic beam sword. The Sword of Light used to be a little more unique. While the film was not strong enough to match up to the other films, it was still a fairly fun ride. I recommend this to Slayer fans, but otherwise I recommend watching the Slayers film before this one if you want to see the franchise at its best. It’s been a long time since this film came out so I guess we really may not get another Slayers movie for quite some time. Once the fans are ready for some nostalgia in a few years, then I guess it’ll be time for a new one. I’ll certainly be ready for it and I still say that Lina Inverse is a better heroine for a series than Sailor Moon. Lina could be the very best female led protagonist in anime, but that’s a much trickier question to answer since there are quite a few. Off the top of my head she would certainly take the lead.

Overall 6/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Slayers Gorgeous Review

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Looks like it is time to check out the next Slayers movie! We are nearing the end of the franchise so let’s see if this film could hold its own. After the last OVA, I was ready for something to get the Slayers formula right this time. Luckily, I was not disappointed as this film is the best Slayers one yet and besides the shows, it is the best Slayers product. This is how you get the blend between comedy and action right. I hope that the writers are taking notes.

Lina and Naga head over to a peaceful looking town to have their next meal. The tacos/wraps in this place are really good and it seems like the heroes will finally have a peaceful time. This does not last for long though as the inhabitants of the town go indoors. There is a civil war going on in the city between the King and The Princess over a matter so serious and deadly that the heroes have no real response to the issue. Lina decides to help the King out, but her mission proves to be much more difficult than expected when Naga joins the Princess’ side! Why is Naga doing this? Can Lina still win!? That’s the basic premise of the film.

This may sound like the average Slayers plot so what makes this one so much better than the others? (Keep in mind that I did like the first film as well, but this film is simply the best one) For starters, the film wisely decided to let go of the fanservice problems that have plagued the two OVAs. Naga’s outfit is still fairly revealing, but the animators don’t pay special attention to it. It’s essentially reduced to a non factor. We have no random hot spring scenes to get us either so the film effectively solved the problem. There is no real fanservice here and that’s already a big advantage over the OVA.

Next up, the animation is much better than the OVA and it could be the best animation that we have seen in Slayers aside from Next and even that is debatable. Next had better animation for the overall character models, but this one gives it a run for its money when it comes to energy blasts. You could tell that the animators gave the battle between the princess and Lina their all as the animation was much better than the other scenes in the film. It really worked out well for the action scenes. The rest of the film looks good as well, but its the fights that take it out of the good range and into the greats!

The final big reason for why this film was an improvement ties into the animation somewhat. As I’ve mentioned before, the balance between comedy and action is a tricky one and Slayers does mess it up quite often. The important thing is that Slayers has been able to get it right and this is an example of just that. There’s a good amount of comedy here like why the Princess is in a war with her father, and numerous other scenes that I could mention throughout the film. Naga’s actions are almost all for crazy reasons that could be called comedy. This is the bets way to use comedy, crazy reasons and illogical motivations to do things may be the best way to use humor.

Then, still play their actions off seriously even if their reasons or not. That is what the film does and we do get more than one serious fight. This film had the best Lina vs Naga fight that we have seen and the battle with the princess was also really good. That’s 2 really good fights in one movie and 2 more than we saw in either OVA. Slayers typically doesn’t have any real fights for the spinoffs as Lina quickly dominates or comedy steals the fight. Not this time! That was great since watching a movie level fight is a good incentive for any film.

Slayers still uses a lot of retro tunes, but there are some remixes, which are present. That livens things up as I have been saying that Slayers needs a new soundtrack. Remixes aren’t completely new, but they are the next best thing so I suppose that they will do. The songs still sound good and my favorite one is easily the end song that plays during the end of all the movies. The final scene with the coin is always slightly altered, which is fun. The most satisfying ending was probably the second time as Lina got away with the coin. In this one, a bird jumps in to save the day. Good for the bird if you ask me!

As always, Lina is a very good main character. While not always heroic, she still does whatever’s necessary to earn her gold. It is sad for her since she never manages to get her gold coins in the end thanks to various circumstances. She may have been able to have gotten her reward money if she had stuck around during the ending, but chasing off The Princess was evidently more fun for her. Lina’s reputation continues to grow larger and larger. Whole armies of dragons back off at the sound of her name now, which is pretty neat. Her spells ensure that Lina is still the strongest fighter among the humans and she proves this on more than one occasion. While Sailor Moon may be the most popular main heroine for anime, I dare say that Lina could be the best one.

Naga is back to being a traitor, but she is an amusing one and doesn’t make a single bad joke this time. That means that her portrayal in this film was actually really good and she makes for a fun rival. Her laugh is certainly iconic and potentially one of the best ones of all time. Joining the enemies on a whim or just to help them laugh more effectively is pretty ingenious. You certainly can’t say that she is not an original character. While Naga will never be as powerful as Lina, her abilities still aren’t bad and she can land a decent amount of damage. If Naga could always look like this, I’d certainly be a fan of hers. Unfortunately, her portrayal is rarely this good. I don’t think that she’s ever looked this good to be honest.

The final Dragon Boss is very intense and fans should definitely like him. He’s very huge and his abilities are so great that he is able to block a Dragon Slave blast at point blank range. There is a big twist about him, which could affect how fans see him, but he still looked so good before the twist that I think we can excuse him a little. Learning about the twist should actually give you more respect for the character depending on how you look at it. The final boss really talks tough and isn’t someone that you will want to mess with.

As for the two main filler characters, they weren’t bad. The King was more reasonable than most of the others and an actual character. I could agree with his thought processes and the demands of the Princess were certainly a bit much. The King is fairly courageous and a good person deep down. The Princess is rather unreasonable with her demands and did attempt to destroy some people so I’d say that she was a loose cannon. That being said, she could actually fight, which was impressive. Of course, there is a plot twist, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that she is able to fight in close quarters and doesn’t back down after hearing Lina’s name. She gives us a proper fight and that’s a good thing.

Overall, Slayers Gorgeous finally presents us with the Slayers film that we’ve needed. This is exactly how a film should be handled and every part of it was satisfying. The fights were excellent and really got to show off some solid animation. The writing was at its best and all of the characters were fairly good. The humor was finally back on track as well. This film eliminated all of the negatives that I had for the franchise and that resulted in a film that had no negatives. Everything about it was good. That doesn’t mean that I am about to throw out a 10 or a 9 as other films still outrank it and thiss title was very short, but it is still much better than the average title. I highly recommend this if you are a Slayers fan and it is also a great way to get started with the franchise. You certainly don’t need to watch much else to get what is happening since Slayers doesn’t bother much with exposition in the films beyond what you need to know. The next film is going to have a very tough time keeping up with this one!

Overall 8/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Patema Inverted Review

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It’s time to review a pretty recent anime film. Aside from franchise titles like (Super) Naruto and (Ultimate) DBZ, I rarely have time to check out one shot anime films like this one. I check out a bunch of live action ones, but anime films are just a little rarer. Well, I can safely say that this was a pretty good title and it succeeded in its genre pretty well. It’s not really an action so you shouldn’t go into the film expecting a lot of fights, but the dialogue is good and the plot is interesting. In the end, that’s all that you need to be a good film if you play your cards right.

A cruel trick of fate sent many of the world’s inhabitants into the sky along with everything that they had built. Their gravity had shifted thanks to an experiment that went dreadfully wrong. The ones who managed to cling onto something escaped underground, where they live an upside down..or inverted life. Patema is the princess of these people and one day she is chased by a batman (Aw yeah!) so she trips and falls above ground. She meets a man named Age who helps her inside a house so she doesn’t float all the way up to space. Age must help her get home, but the corrupt government wants to destroy her along with all of the other Inverts. Can the bonds of friendship between Age and Patema be enough to stop these villains or will they need to fight!?

That’s the jist of the film. The gimmick of being forced to endure reverse gravity is definitely interesting. The film shows you Patema’s point of view on more than one occasion and it’s always very interesting to see. Mentally picturing it can be quite difficult even if you just think about flipping everything. It’s simply not an easy thing to do and the sky certainly becomes a fearsome sight as it’s essentially a fall to oblivion. Needless to say, you never want to fall down. It would certainly be tough to live like that and I do have to wonder how her people were able to survive. How did they build enough equipment to sustain life or make food to eat? These are questions that we can just sidestep for a while I suppose, but they will certainly linger with you for a while.

The soundtrack is pretty good. It’s upbeat and fitting for the film while also retaining some dramatic tunes for the serious moments. You probably won’t remember a whole lot of the themes by the time that it is over, but they were still enjoyable. We also got a lyrical song during one-two of the scenes, which was pretty neat as well. I’m always ready for a good insert song. We also got some good animation as well. It may not be quite as good as the average anime of that year (Anime keep on growing better and better as the years go by (barring the 90’s) so it’s really tough for any film to match them at this point) but it still looks good. It is slightly more mainstreamed/americanized in the designs, but the eyes keep the true anime feel to it that I am always fond of. There weren’t many chances to show off the animation like with fight scenes or chaotic backgrounds, but all of the scenes did look pretty good. It certainly helps the adventure move along and stay enjoyable.

Patema is one of the main characters and she’s a likable lead. She is curious about the surface world and is one of the only individuals brave enough to head there. It was partially by accident, but most of the others wouldn’t even investigate the area so she still holds the edge in bravery. Considering how scary the visuals are from her point of view, she definitely deserves some props as she chooses to trust Age as they run across the landscapes. If he were to let go for an instant, it would be game over.

Age seems like a nice guy and he’s also a pretty good main character. He seems to be pretty bored with the current system that the world has set in place and he’s glad to disregard protocol when he meets Patema. Both of them have sad origins involving their parents or relatives so they bond pretty quickly. Age is determined to help Patema no matter what so he gets his share of heroics as the film goes on. He’s still not the greatest lead out there as I would like to see a little more aggression and hot headedness in him, but Age gets the job done. He’s not annoying or just mean like other leads.

The film deserves a lot of credit for staying away from the old fanservice trap. There’s no fanservice to be found here and you always feel like giving the film a fistbump when you realize that what it has achieved. It’s still pretty rare for a film to avoid the trap so you have to sing its praises. The one gripe that I would have with the film’s writing is that Age didn’t stay in the friend zone. I was hoping that Patema would tell Age that he was a nice friend, but that he shouldn’t get any ideas about being more than that. This didn’t happen and they ultimately get past that point. At least it’s only a quick scene and it doesn’t last for long while also being mostly off screen, but that also shows just how close the film was to keeping that friend zone at the ready. You don’t fall in love after a single day/week after all.

Now, where would this film be without a villain right? Unfortunately, we are all out of interesting ones so it’s time to settle for a generic foe. The head of the government is an old man who’s pretty twisted and he has probably cracked. He wants to destroy all inverts because he knows that they would usurp his power and change the status quo. Naturally, we can’t have that so that’s why he wants to get rid of them all. If he just stuck to yelling threats and pointing his gun around, he could have been decent or at least tolerable. Unfortunately, that just doesn’t happen and he talks way too much. It’s a shame that nobody thinks to dethrone him since he’s so blatantly evil.

The villain has a right hand man, but that character is pretty bland. He has a big moment by the end and we realize that his character has some potential, but it’s also a little late by then. What has this guy been doing all these years? It definitely took him a while to do anything. Patema also has a friend who helps out a little during some of the scenes, but his role is still pretty small. He thinks of himself as Age’s rival, but that doesn’t always work out for him.

As with most films, there is one scene that will definitely make you think of the term “Plot hax.” Age’s father built a blimp so he could prove that being in the air wasn’t evil, but he randomly fell out and died. People were pretty sad, but they knew that it was simply the curse coming back to bite him. I’m sure that it’s pretty obvious how the guy died, but why didn’t any of the spectators notice? They likely wouldn’t have heard anything, but they were right under him so a quick body inspection would be impossible to stop. All of those witnesses should have seen everything so I definitely didn’t buy the plot twist. The dad seemed like a nice guy and I also liked his inverted counterpart, Lagos. A film about their exploits may not have been bad, but they didn’t get a whole lot of time together so it would be short. They definitely got along pretty well and it’s a shame that they couldn’t get a happier ending.

Overall, Patema Inverted is a pretty good film. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not an action film and I would treat it more as a slice of life or maybe a drama. The film starts out as an average day for Age and then it becomes an adventure that he’ll never forget. The film is all about looking at the world from a different perspective and it’s fun to see the heroes learn how to use their different gravity situations for the better. Flying sounds like a lot of fun and going through the clouds must be a lot of fun. There are really no negatives to speak of here and the film never drags on. This means that we’re getting another film that easily reaches 7 stars here on the blog. It just goes to show that good writing will trump the lack of action weakness every time. I definitely recommend checking this film out as it’s good in all areas. It’s a complete cinematic experience and one of the better one shot anime films that I’ve seen.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Summer Wars Review


It’s been almost 3 years since I’ve seen this film so it’s a pretty good time for a revisit. Summer Wars is a film that deals with the cyber threat that can be caused by data programs that we built to keep us secure. If you ever watched Megaman, then you know that this typically backfires on the humans. It’s a heart warming film although I think it tried being a little too “American.”

Well, the plot begins as Natsuki hired Kenji to be her fake boyfriend for a few days. She promised her great grandmother that she would bring him along so she had to resort to this desperate gamble. It’s not a bad situation for Kenji since he’ll get a lot of free food, but he’ll have to survive this dangerous ordeal. He may have prepared for the worst, but even that is not enough as a satellite begins to fall down and threatens to cause an extinction level event across the country. The only way to stop it is to destroy the legendary Love Machine virus that has taken over the internet. One of Natsuki’s relatives is the owner of the legendary King Kazma, but it’s going to take a team effort to defeat him.

Well, I suppose that I should touch on the “American” comment before I go further. This film is one of those really high budget, theatrical experiences that feels like it could almost be American. Summer Wars, that airplane film, Spirited Away, they could almost pass for a product in the U.S.A. They just don’t have that anime feel that a film like Bleach or DBZ would have. It’s not because the film is pretty down to Earth though as Kanon and Case Closed still retain an intense anime feel to them. It’s something about the actual character designs and the animation in itself. It could be that it’s hand drawn, but it still doesn’t add up. There’s just some kind of “American” feeling here that’s hard to describe, yet hard to miss. I’ll admit that it does hurt the film a little since that anime feeling is why anime typically trumps western animation in the first place.

Back to the film, Kenji is not a bad main character, but he’s definitely not my kind of lead. He’s extremely shy and timid. Kenji never really gets over this and he lets the others push him around. When it comes time to fight, he chokes and the villain just pounds on him over and over again until he’s saved by King Kazma. He’s a math whiz, which definitely comes in handy. It’s his strong suit and those scenes are always pretty fun for him. Now, if only he would have more confidence and a tough aura about him…then he could have been a really good character.

Natsuki is the main heroine and she’s not very good at reading the mood. When the heroes are having a big confrontation with the mysterious uncle, she still jumps in with a happy greeting. Reading the mood is key when you’re in life or death situations since you need to react quickly and without hesitation. This weakness could cost her. More importantly, it’s hard to believe that she wouldn’t be aware of the drama around Wabisuke. Bringing along Kenji as her fake boyfriend was also a dicey move and the promise to her great grandmother was definitely ill advised. She may just be a little too realistic for me. She doesn’t go around beating up the main character or yelling a lot of hardcore lines. She panics a little too much and I would have liked to have seen her fight more.

Wabisuke is actually a pretty decent character and I was on his side when it came down to the Love Machine debate. He may have built it, but he sold the program to the US Army. I don’t think that he was in the wrong there since the army is the one who used it. He just wanted the money and building things is what we do. So, I was against Sakae and the others there since Wabisuke didn’t do anything wrong. He helps out in crunchtime and that’s how it should be. He was easily the most likable member of the family.

Kazama is the owner of King Kazma. King Kazma looks like a bunny, but his hand to hand skills are not to be underestimated. In the real world, Kazama became an accomplished fighter and that allows him to type his commands into the computer with a very good amount of speed. It’s all done through the keyboard so you have to be a good button masher. It’s like a less advanced version of Angelic Layer. The line between the cyber world and the real one tends to blur in the film as a person’s psyche seems to go to the digital world sometimes, but it’s technically realistic for the most part. Kazama’s not a bad character although he also tends to panic at some points, which doesn’t help him.

Sakae is a pretty nice lady and she helps out a lot during the big crisis by calling all of her relatives. She has friends in very high places at this point so that’s definitely good for her. I do think that she was in the wrong during the Wabisuke situation, but I guess you can’t win them all right? She’s definitely a decent supporting character and I’m glad that she crushed Kenji in the card game.

The fight scenes are pretty cool when they happen. Unfortunately, they are very short, but it certainly helps the film. A little action here and there is better than none and all of the best scenes are in the cyber world. King Kazma is definitely a solid fighter and the Love Machine’s human form made for a good villain. It’s a little embarrassing that Kenji couldn’t land a single hit, but we can safely say that he was just paralyzed with fear. The true graphics of the server was too much for him so I guess it’s sort of a legitimate reason for his defeat.

I basically covered the animation in the “American” discussion so I don’t really need to go over that again. Needless to say, it is good animation, but I just miss that anime feel. If I had to put a label on it, maybe lack of color is what I’m looking for. The film’s not very colorful in the human world so everyone is pretty faded. It also brings back traumatic memories of FLCL so that could also help me instinctively not like it as much as I could have. I’ve always preferred the traditional animation from TV shows and cash in films to the big budget productions because of this American feel. So, saying that this animation is technically below average for me may sound dicey, but that’s just because it can’t beat the standard animation that anime typically have. It’s naturally tough to compare a realistic slice of life to something like Naruto, but look as Kanon. It was pretty realistic, but the animation is still leagues beyond this one.

There is unfortunately some fanservice in the film at the very end. Natsuki gets a random transformation sequence that doesn’t have a purpose in the film. It was definitely shoehorned in at the very last second and the only bonus is that she got a super form at the end of it. The fanservice was not necessary for this transformation. There is also a brief scene where a baby is sucking to get his nutrients and I always wince there. It’s so unnecessary and I’ve always found that kind of thing gross. Just jot it down as one of the numerous reasons as to why I don’t care for babies. Luckily, it’s only there for an instant, but it’s a “not cool” moment.

As far as slice of life films go, I think the cast was definitely one of the main weak points. The writers seemed to be going for more of a total realistic vibe so it can be dicey. I’m all for really cheery films and they can be pretty fun in their own way like My Little Pony, Frozen, or Pokemon, but this one didn’t work for me. It’s not because they’re happy, but it may be just how expressive they are. They’re just bubbling over with happiness and the comedy scenes don’t work for me.

Actually, I think I just nailed it. The comedy is not my style. Like the old man recounting some of the famous war battles or Kenji constantly blushing. It’s just not my kind of humor I suppose as I prefer sarcasm and jokes that involve witty dialogue or quick thinking. This film has that sophisticated feeling that should definitely work for many, but I couldn’t dig it. On the whole, the film is actually a little hard to describe as we’ve seen throughout this film. I would say that it’s too mainstream, but that also counts titles like Sword Art Online (That was good before the series died in arc 2) and Soul Eater so that’s not specific enough. Maybe it’s more of a mainstream, realistic, film, which is why so much of it just didn’t appeal to me. I typically enjoy things that are not universally accepted like Yugioh GX (Black sheep of Yugioh until Zexal) and the Amazing Spider Man films.

Well, regardless, the film still isn’t a bad one. As I mentioned, the fight scenes are fun when they happen and I do like all of the scenes in the cyber world. You can just imagine how great the film would have been if it had all been there. I could have watched them do battle for 2 hours easy. The avatars were pretty cool and it definitely could have been like Megaman or Accel World. The actual film is about 2 hours and it was maybe a little too long for its own good, but my motto is technically “the longer the better” so it’s always hard to count that as a negative. More length usually equals more fights right? Love Machine’s final form was epic so I’m glad that we got to see that one. It’s too bad that it never got to fight, but I suppose that it was already pretty OP at that point. It’s design is like the Phantom Blot, but given an anime spin, which is basically always a good spin to put on it.

The soundtrack is decent. There aren’t many tunes, but we get a good theme when the Love Machine is beating up on Kenji. It’s a nice techno theme that sets you up for the nice fight that’s about to begin. (It still should have been a lot longer since it would have been awesome to have seen them really go at it. Unfortunately, the kids interfered over in the real world) Unfortunately, that’s one of the only themes in the film so I can’t really say that it’s a good soundtrack, but it gets the job done. I would have liked some more battle themes and that would have definitely helped the film out some more. Fights are the way to victory.
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Overall, Summer Wars is a decent film. It’s not quite as good as the average anime film due to a lack of action and the animation style not being my favorite, but things reverse when you compare it to a lot of the big films here in the U.S.A. (Animation films anyway) It can hold its own there and the fight scenes to put it above a lot of them. The cast can be pretty annoying, which drags the film down, but if you want an emotional tale about family and friendship, this is the place for you. If not, check out Super Android 13 for an example of what I’m talking about when I say that you need to watch an anime’s anime film. That one is the perfect example of what to expect inside one of those.

Overall 5/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Naruto Shippuden Road to Ninja Review

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I finally checked out one of the latest Naruto films. This one got the most hype out of any Naruto film. Even the new one that came out about a month ago didn’t get the same kind of publicity as this one. This was going to be the ultimate Naruto film with the best villain yet. I understand that a lot of people did like the villain, but I can’t say that he was for me. This film suffers from the fact that it seems to appeal to the general audience a lot like the last film, but it’s still a decently good movie. We’re just falling back to the pre Shippuden level for the films.

Naruto and Sakura are having some drama with their parents/lack of parents. This results in some tense scenes in the beginning, which inevitably leads them to conclude that their lives would be better off if they could have swapped parental situations. That’s when the Masked Man appears and blasts them into an alternate world where that is the case. Naruto and Sakura realize that they’re going to really have to put some effort in if they want to escape this world and they’ll need to stop the Masked Man. The only problem is that the Masked Man looks a little different in this world. No matter, time to take him out!

Well, it’s a pretty fun plot, but the movie just messed up in several areas. I will admit that I was worried from the very start, but luckily the film fixed my problem with the intro. Let’s just say that it plays out like a bad fanfic. (Good concept, but terrible execution = bad fanfic) The Genin 11 (Mostly Chunins at this point) are slaughtering the Akatsuki when the film starts. It’s embarrassing for the big villains who used to be a threat. Even Itachi and Kisame are treated like random minions. I was definitely wincing a little during this fight since the disregard for power levels was at an all time high. I feel like power levels tend to be more inaccurate as you go through a series so that made me extra cautious here. Luckily, we get a big twist that makes the Akatsuki look better while making Naruto look worse.

I definitely did not like Naruto as he is treated like a plot device to get things rolling. He suddenly starts to feel bad about not having any parents and he takes it out on Iruka. It’s just not the Naruto that we remember. He got over that a long time ago and seeing his parents in his memories was enough to finally snap him out of that. He’s proud of what they did so he would never wish that they were back here. It seems like something that the writers felt was “realistic” for a kid who didn’t have any parents so they threw that in. This transitions into the general audience problem, but I’ll sidestep from that for a little longer.

Naruto gets to meet up with fake versions of his parents and he decides that he’ll act like a rude person so that they’ll stay away from him. He decides that he’s not going to play the Masked Man’s games, but he’s stuck in the world for now so breaking ties with them is not the best way to go about it. Not to mention that fake Minato is the reason why he will get to go on the mission in the first place. If Naruto really didn’t want to hang out with them, he should have just slept on the bench or in the woods like last time. As long as he is in the house, he should definitely act hospitable.

Even worse than Naruto’s actual personality though is definitely how weak he looks. Naruto has long since surpassed everyone in his village by now so he should have crushed the “Akatsuki” in the opening now that we know the twist. He looks worse than most of his allies there and it’s sad since he was the first one to rush in. Then, he finally gets to face off against Menma and he is thoroughly outclassed. His Sage Mode is unable to do anything so he is forced to summon a giant monster so that we can have a one hit KO attack when he finally gets close to Menma. Not exactly how I pictured the final battle.

Sakura doesn’t look very good either. Temporarily she doesn’t even care about going back to the real world. This also happens to Naruto in the second half, which is also pretty disappointing. She also has her arguments with her parents that is out of character, but still counts against her in this film. Her portrayal definitely wasn’t very good like with Naruto, but she could have been a lot worse. Just look at most of the supporting characters. Once again, it’s safe to say that the Leaf Village is pretty unlikable. Iruka deciding not to recommend Naruto to be a Jounin is just a really low blow. This is why nobody can trust this village, they’re always stabbing each other in the back.

Time to back it up a little. The film really feels like it’s trying to be a decent introductory movie to new viewers in a few ways. One way is that we get to see Naruto’s origin story once again (Luckily we skip all of the bullying this time) and Naruto hasn’t gotten over the death of his parents like I mentioned earlier. Sakura’s arguments with her parents are completely out of character for her and it’s just here so that she can be a part of the plot. It’s also a common plot to use for a film so the writers just couldn’t pass it up. (The Author was the main one who decided what the film would be like, but I say writers because the film guys likely helped along the way with their suggestions) Another way that it feels like a general audience film is that the climax is a giant monster battle instead of a nice hand to hand experience.

Let’s face it, “Bigger is better” is still a popular saying in films. So, instead of letting audiences see Naruto and Menma go at it in a DBZ style confrontation, we get to see the Nine Tailed Fox duel a giant monster. They are naturally implied to be far superior to Naruto and Menma is strength even though they look pretty unimpressive. They can spam their energy blasts, but the small range of the blasts (They strike more vertically than horizontally) means that we end up with two monsters who are effectively “camping.” They just keep firing blasts at the other and none of them actually connect. It’s more of a chase than an actual fight and then we get the one punch that ends it all.

That would have been the more disappointing final anime fight since Pokemon if not for the fact that we quickly get another fight after that. Unfortunately, the film was running out of time by then so Naruto’s fight against the Masked Man is very short. No worries, they decide to rip some scenes out of the manga as Naruto wins in a move that pays homage to Minato’s fight. The film’s homages didn’t begin there though as Naruto’s punch with Menma is almost identical to how Naruto defeated Gaara back in the day. I like homages….actually I don’t. Thinking about it now, they’re typically just not good and take away opportunities. Look at Avengers Assemble and how often it copies the film. It’s always best to do something unique and a homage should be more subtle than just copying a fight scene. That’s a lesson that this film really needs to learn.

The film’s animation is pretty good. It’s definitely not something to write home about, but the quality is definitely very good and it makes for a pleasurable viewing experience. I think it’s a little dicey that a show that’s a few years old like Fate/Zero looks better than this film, but that company’s animation budget is just through the roof so I suppose that it’s not fair to compare. What hurts this film a lot is the fact that we didn’t get any real fight scenes, or at least ones that would have a chance to shine. No character uses any fancy energy weapons or has a power up scene where the animators can have fun with the aura. The energy blasts from the Kaiju are the only chance for the film to show off its movie budget and the blasts look good, but they’re more like energy balls so you can’t really make them look quite as good as a Kamehameha no matter how much time you spend drawing it. The fight against the Akatsuki is pretty smooth, but not flashy in the slightest, which is why it actually doesn’t look impressive. You could compare it to the fights against Kakuzu and Hidan in the series and it would actually be pretty similar. The film is more streamlined, but just not as explosively colorful sometimes.

This film borrows just about all of its themes from previous films and the show. That’s pretty sad for it, but it’s a new trend for films based off of old franchises nowadays. It’s a pretty bad trend if you ask me since the music may be established and great, but you need to keep making new songs. Imagine a time where all films just use old tunes and remixes of old tunes. That’s not what we want to see, but the soundtrack is definitely 5 stars worthy. They’re old, but the themes are tried and true. They’re perfect for battle scenes and some of the villain themes really make you feel like the end is near. They’re fitting for such a world filled with despair as everyone fears Menma.

Speaking of which, one of the gimmicks for this film was that Naruto’s supporting cast would have warped personalities in the alternate world. It’s a decent sub plot in concept I suppose, but totally unnecessary. I always liked the idea of parrellel worlds, but just turning all of the heroes to villains and villains to heroes would suffice for me. Instead, the writers decided to make just about all of them unlikable. We have a few perverts, and more of the others are either really meek or too aggressive to the point where they are antagonistic. It’s hard to imagine how this village lasted for a year, much less up to now. There are no good fighters and the whole world lives in fear of Menma.

Time to finally talk about Menma. Saying Menma’s true identity is hardly a spoiler since it’s probably basic Naruto knowledge at this point considering how popular he became for a while, (Not to mention that the actual plot mixed in with the tie in episode makes it a logical conclusion) but I shall not mention it just in case. He has brought the entire Shinobi world to its knees and he is feared as the ultimate Naruto villain. He knows about the Masked Man and then he decides to destroy the Red Moon scroll. It is the one thing that can defeat him so he heads to the Leaf Village to destroy it and that’s when the climax begins. He can summon several monsters like Pain and his physical abilities are already pretty considerable. He is able to catch a Sage Mode Punch from Naruto, which is no easy feat. Unfortunately, the film was just toying with us there as he doesn’t actually fight. Instead, the monster battle begins. From that one moment, we can tell that he is a tough villain, but he just couldn’t end up showing it.

Menma is ultimately an unlikable character despite his powers. One of the main reasons is that he seems to just be a tool the whole time. He has no real motivations and he seems to just fight for the thrills. What really doesn’t help this is the fact that he has a terrible voice. It’s one of the worst voices that I’ve heard for a final boss in some time. It doesn’t strike fear into you or make you gain respect for his character. It just makes Menma seem like a villain who’s tough talk is all that he’s got. Menma’s true design is pretty good and the voice luckily shifts, but it’s hard to watch his masked form.

This review is definitely turning out longer than I had expected. Partially it’s due to how many ways the film went wrong, but also just because this is a Naruto film so there is a lot to discuss. Naruto’s fake parents look pretty good for the most part. One scene is there to quickly reinforce the point that Naruto’s parents were better so that he could leave with no regrets. It definitely shows how much fun it would have been if the parents had been here since the beginning. That would make for a pretty good AU spinoff series since the Leaf Village would definitely be overpowered with them in the ranks. In a way, that’s how it should have been.

I think I’ve addressed most of the points in this film by now. Time to quickly mention one of the negatives that certainly helped to drag the film down. The fanservice. This film has a lot more of it than usual, which is pretty disappointing. It’s not a huge amount, but for Naruto film standards it is considerable. We have the generic bath house scene, which is pretty cringe worthy. There is really no point to it at all. It’s probably just there to get in some more money, but this has always been a pretty cheap trick. You don’t need fanservice in a film and then having two of the characters be perverted for no reason is also in bad taste.

This film is pretty long, but it doesn’t know how to maximize the time that it is given. Too much time is spent on showing us how everything is a little different and not enough is spent on the actual fights or the villain. The film is already almost over by the time that the final fight happens so naturally it is given the shaft instead of the filler moments. Definitely not a good move for the film if you ask me. The film could have been the usual 70 or so minutes without a lot of the filler moments or 2 hours with more action. Either way, it would have been a huge improvement from what we did get.

Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for. Was this movie as disappointing as Battle of Gods? I’m going to say no although it’s very close. My hopes for this film were slightly tempered by Blood Prison while I had nothing to protect me from Battle of Gods before hand. This film still had a great soundtrack, which Battle of Gods lacked although the DBZ film had the much better fight. It just goes to show that the modern films for these two series are not as good as the classics, but that just means that the sequels have a higher chance of being better than these. I’m already hyped for the return of Frieza and I think that the final Naruto film should be pretty good as well. I don’t have high hopes for that one anyway, but the big battle should be good.

In the missed opportunities section, there are definitely a few things that come to mind. One of them is Sasuke since his appearance literally has no point here. He just gets 2-4 lines and that’s about it. He’s relegated to the background like most of the characters here. That’s pretty sad for his fans when the trailers made it seem like he would actually get to do something. The Masked Man’s plan at the end is decent, but plot hax get in the way of this and he also looks rather weak since Sakura is able to hold her own against him for so long. Sakura is a tough fighter, but she’s not Naruto level so he should have been able to crush the Masked Man considering how Sakura’s fight turned out.

Now, I should probably summarize what the positives of the film are since we have so many negatives. How does it actually deserve a 6? Well, we still get a decent fight with the Akatsuki at the beginning and watching them fight random monsters at the end may not be extremely amusing, but it’ll do as an action scene. You just need to ignore the power levels for this film and then you’ll enjoy the fights a lot more. The actual concept is interesting, but it just isn’t used very well. The soundtrack and animation are pretty good as well of course. The film is also pretty interesting while you’re watching it and it’s a fun film. It’s a popcorn fun, action block buster so you’ll leave it feeling satisfied. Amidst all of the negatives, you have to remember that this is still a Shonen Jump film. The designs are unique and the fights are fun. We have good amounts of those two positives here and mixed in with the music, you’ve got the makings of a pretty good film. That’s about it for positives I’m afraid, but they’ll do.

Overall, Road To Ninja is definitely one of the worst Shippuden films and probably ranks pretty low on the all time Naruto list. It loses to films 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8. I’m going to say for now that it does beat films 1 and 5 though. 5 was probably the ultimate disappointing Naruto film since Sasuke was in it, but he couldn’t save it. This is a good film to introduce you to the world of Naruto and Naruto fans should still enjoy the fights. Just be prepared for all of Naruto’s friends to look pretty awful and for the unnecessary fanservice included. Also, brace yourself for the final battle because you are sure to be disappointed unless you were waiting for a giant monster fight. The soundtrack and animation are pretty solid and it’s still a good film despite all of the flaws. This review was certainly on the negative side, but that just seems to be the fate of the modern anime films that get a lot of hype. Obscure titles like Bleach 4 and Yugioh 3D seem to get all of the fun. You’re still guaranteed a fun experience here.

Overall 6/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Dragon Ball Z Broly The Legendary Super Saiyan Review


Broly The Legendary Super Saiyan has been my favorite DBZ film for a while now. I could never get past the fact that Broly is such a great villain and I loved the fight scenes. The soundtrack doesn’t hold up very well, but that won’t be an issue depending on what version you watch. This is still the best film to watch from a battle perspective and it can hold its own against any other film.

Our heroes are enjoying a nice day at the park when a spaceship arrives. It is filled with aliens who work for a Saiyan. He wants Vegeta to rule them on a new planet Vegeta. The Saiyan Prince is not interested until the Legendary Super Saiyan is mentioned. Vegeta can’t let this opportunity go by and he rushes off. Krillin and friends manage to tag along as well. Goku is sent by King Kai to take out the mysterious Saiyan as well and everything converges once Broly reveals himself. It is safe to say that the film never looks back from that point. This is the kind of film where the positives heavily outweigh the negatives so I will talk about some of those first.

This DBZ film probably had the best animation for a big DBZ film until Battle of Gods. The latter is much newer of course so everyone is a little more stream lined, but they still look very good. That being said, I think the animation in this film is able to capture the fights a little better. You really feel all of the blows and there is more destruction to he seen as the Z fighters battle Broly. So, I prefer the animation style in the Broly film, but Battle of Gods certainly keeps up with it. The only other film to reach this high level would be the Bojack film. The DBZ show already had pretty good animation, but you can instantly tell that this film has reached theatrical level.

It is a given that the fight scenes are amazing so I don’t really need to go into detail here. It is good to see Goku show off his hand ti hand skills even if they are ineffective. This film also had the iconic scene where Goku uses the Kamehameha, but it has no effect on Broly. That was definitely a scary moment for us all! The battles also take place in a city for the most part, which is pretty awesome. This is extremely rare for DBZ or just about any show for that matter. Cities will always make for the best backdrop in a fight and I wasn’t disappointed here. Getting thrown through a building will always send a chill down my spine. (I’m sure I would endure such a hit though…)

This is before Broly became a mindless monster in the sequels so he is actually pretty cunning in how he attacks the heroes. He catches Goku off guard by attacking from behind a building and he is constantly surprising the heroes when he appears from out of the blue. Considering that he can’t teleport and that the heroes can sense ki, it is a great speed feat. He is pretty deranged and the reason for his behavior is odd, but that may make it more realistic since a nut’s true nature can be ignited by any small spark. Broly is really everything that you could want in a villain and he really acts as a symbol for your average Shonen opponent. Through thick and thin it will always be fun to face off against such a strong looking opponent.

Goku looks very good as you probably suspected. He is easily the best character in the film and he certainly fights to the end. His unwavering determination and incredible strength have helped him become a top tier fighter so it makes sense that he puts up the best fight against Broly. Goku also doesn’t hold back for very long in this film, which shows how much he respects Broly’s power. You won’t be able to stop rooting for Goku here and he is basically the perfect main character. The film did a good job of keeping his character intact.

Unfortunately, most pf the other Z fighters do not look very good. Gohan feels a little underpowered as he doesn’t put much of an effort into the fight. Goku quickly makes him retreat and you can definitely agree with his decision. Gohan is still noble and it was good to see him helping the oppressed, but he should have looked like more of a fighter. Piccolo’s role is brief, but it is a good one. Once again, he gets to help Gohan out in a pinch and he revives all of the heroes for round 2. Zenkai Boost time! He is outmatched by Broly, but everyone was so it isn’t really a bad moment for Piccolo fans. His role in the films is definitely similar to Tuxedo Mask’s, but in a good way. Trunks is a fighter who is really a non factor here. He should be (remotely) close to Goku in power so you would expect more from him. He Is from the future after all. He mostly just get knocked around by Vegeta and the enemies the whole film. It’s great that he tagged along, but he should have lasted a little longer in the fight.

Unfortunately, the film’s greatest negative may have been its portrayal of Vegeta. They forgot that he is the Prince of all Saiyans and his bravery is matched only by his power. He is uncharacteristically afraid of Broly to the point where he refuses to fight the Saiyan and cannot move. He doesn’t even react as he is being mocked by Paragus and Piccolo just drops him 100+ feet into the ground without Vegeta even struggling. He finally does join the fray and only lasts for about a minute. The writers wanted to show that he is clearly inferior to Goku and that’s just not acceptable. At this point, they were roughly equal in strength and Vegeta would never back down from a fight. You have to watch the film to see just how bad it is, but the whole thing is preeeeetty bad. He also spends most of the first half of the film getting tricked by the villains. (And he doesn’t notice Broly’s attack on Goku during the night even with his perfect ki sensing abilities.

One sideplot that I thought was totally unnecessary was the part where we find out that the Saiyans had enslaved the locals and were forcing them to build the fake cities. I suppose that it adds some drama, but it would have been nice to have seen the Z Fighters stop the men before the whipping began. At their level of super speed it should have been an easy feat for them. Letting innocents get hit in the crossfire is not fun to see and the film could have done just as well without it.

Time to talk Power Levels. Judging from Broly’s power in this film, I’d place him at Super Perfect Cell at the very least, so he’s around SSJ2 level. Even Perfect Cell had a decently tough time with SSJ Goku and the latter couldn’t deal any damage to Broly whatsoever. The combined might of Piccolo and the other Saiyans couldn’t deal any damage either. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a villain overwhelm the heroes so badly apart from this film and it was pretty exciting. I still wouldn’t say that he could beat SSJ2 Gohan, but his LSSJ form is very impressive and it’s basically a variation of the Super Saiyan 2 transformation. His regular SSJ form isn’t impressive though as Goku was easily humiliating him in his base form. That’s a pretty big jump in power eh?

I was also glad to see Broly casually break a planet with a little energy blast. That’s the kind of power that I believe DBZ characters to possess even if they don’t show it. That being said, the planet that the heroes were fighting on should have been destroyed when Broly’s energy started to consume him. Just powering up and dropping those energy bombs should have scattered the planet in a million pieces. It’s cool to see things get blown up everywhere, but the planet should have gone with it. Naturally, this didn’t happen due to plot reasons, but it’s scenes like this that encourage Superman fans in their never ending debate against Goku. For the record, I’ve always thought that Frieza could solo the Comic Universes, but you can probably google my debates on that. Ignoring that part, I thought that the film did a pretty good job with the power levels. It was fun to watch and I wasn’t wincing too much. If I had to mention one thing that they could have changed…it would have been for Goku to have actually gotten some good damage in on Broly.

We can’t forget about the ending! I barely even count it and I luckily ended up purchasing a version of the film that cuts out the final punch. It’s gotta be intentional since it’s just way too convenient to end there. The final punch makes no sense since a weakened Vegeta adding a little strength to Goku should have just resulted in another broken fist. Goku was way too weakened to take Broly down and the ending probably ranks in the top 3 most inaccurate endings of all time. It’s seriously that bad and it’s a classic example of how you should not end a film. The writers just dug themselves in too deep by making Broly so strong.

The soundtrack is something that I’m pretty mixed on. I love the beat and rhythm of the tunes so don’t get me wrong on that front. They’re easily Attack on Titan level and it makes the whole film feel very theatrical and epic. An example of this is the opening where Trunks heads inside the ship after Vegeta. This would be an ordinary moment without the soundtrack, but it’s more like a heartfelt goodbye from Trunks and the heroes know that they may never see him again. The music really conveys a whole lot of emotion with it and it’ll make you start tearing up a little. The downside is that the lyrics aren’t always great and it almost sounds like they’re rapping at one point. So, I Love the themes and they’re awesome, but the lyrics wreck it. Try to find an instrumental version of the songs and you’ll see what I mean. So, for better or worse, it makes the film feel a lot bigger in scope, but it’s probably not a worthy tradeoff.

Krillin and Master Roshi’s sideplot is pretty awful though and it has no purpose in this film. The writers probably just wanted to add in Roshi somehow and this was the only way that they could think of. It beats Roshi’s plot in other DBZ films, but it’s still pretty bad and I wish that it hadn’t been there. It wrecks the tension and epicness that the scenes had.

Overall, Broly The Legendary Super Saiyan makes for a great film. It is easily one of the all time best in cinema and the action scenes are intense! Vegeta’s portrayal was very poor though and it is certainly a downer in this excellent movie. The slave subplot was also rather unnecessary and it just makes Vegeta look even worse. The soundtrack has a cinematic feel to it, but some of the songs are not very good. Again, this may not be a problem depending on which version you watch. There are some intense moments during the fight, like Broly hitting Goku so hard that glass breaks for a few miles, but nothing very violent. The worst moment is probably a baby getting stabbed in a flashback, which was admittedly pretty brutal, but it’s over very quickly and then you can just enjoy the popcorn fun. The previous scene that I mentioned isn’t as bad as it sounds since it’s in silhouette form for the most part, but you can have a hand on the remote while keeping your eyes peeled if you wish. I highly recommend this film and it definitely captures the essence of DBZ! You won’t be disappointed and maybe Broly will become your favorite DBZ villain as well.

Overall 9/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Naruto Shippuden Blood Prison Review

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Naruto Shippuden Blood Prison is a Naruto film that got pretty good reception when it came out. There was a decent amount of hype around its release and the concept was a new twist for the franchise. That being said, I was never really hyped for it from the trailer wasn’t amazing although it was pretty good. It is just one of those cases where the trailer was better than the film. The same thing happened with the 5th film while the opposite was true for the 6th and 7th.

The plot begins with a cutaway to the Raikage’s lair. He orders his minions to find a certain box because it can grant any wish, but they are quickly attacked by Naruto Uzumaki. Naruto easily overpowers the minions, but the Raikage sends him packing. Similar incidents occur across the Ninja World so the Hokage banishes Naruto to Blood Prison. Naruto claims that he is innocent, but now he is stuck with a corrupt jailer and actual crooks. Getting out of here could be tougher than he thought.

Well, I thought that the film just had a lot of missed opportunities. It certainly didn’t capitalize on any positives that could have turned the tides for the film. It is still a good movie to be sure, but if could have been better. One twist that would have helped a lot would have been for Naruto to have escaped with his friends in pursuit.

Okay, time to tackle one of the big negatives. I don’t like when allies betray each other and are still portrayed as heroes. Unfortunately, that happens here as Naruto is betrayed by the very people he has been protecting for years. It is a pretty cringeworthy scene and it also shows us the ugly side of the Hidden Leaf village that we always try to forget. The Ninja are very much like Gladiator from X-Men or the Paladin from Blue Exorcist. Friendships seem to mean nothing to them and they will follow their leader’s orders without question. Even if the leader is corrupt they shall keep going. Just look at the sand when Orochimaru was leading them or all of the Leaf Shinobi who followed Danzo. The ninja don’t really think as they let the leader do that for them. It is part of why I like to root against the Leaf sometimes. Still, you wouldn’t expect that from the other Genin or Kakashi. It is just a little too much and I definitely did not like their portrayal here. They also attacked Naruto in film 6……Good thing this is happening in the film and not the show.

The soundtrack is decent, but there isn’t a lot of action for most of the film so we don’t get a chance to see any action scenes for a while. They reuse a theme from film 6 that I liked a lot so it was cool to see that one make a comeback. This film did have an original battle track or two. One of them had a good start and then fizzled out while I remember the other one being decent. I have no qualms with the overall soundtrack.

The animation is decently good. Unfortunately, none of the fighters have real energy attacks so the film can’t really get to show off how good it can be. Likewise, the backgrounds are all pretty similar since he is stuck in a jail. The sun is always red there which probably saves the film’s budget a little. The fight scene at the end does look pretty good though as it goes all Bleach on us and all of the fan favorite characters get to use their big attacks. Naruto’s speed feats also look pretty impressive as well.

The final fight was a pretty mixed bag for me though. It was cool to see a (Slayers) Monster as the big villain, but it was also sad because it meant that we wouldn’t get a real one on one hand to hand fight. The monster is big and he can dodge attacks with ease, but it is not as exciting as it would have been with a fellow humanoid. Just look at the villain from 2 films ago to see what I mean. Of course, watching all of the heroes get beaten up was pretty fun. It is scary just how weak they all look here and the film basically just says that Naruto could beat the whole village. I probably agree with this, but they definitely should have done better. Opening some of the inner gates or using Kamui would have been a nice start for the heroes. Maybe next time.

Of course, the fight still looks really good and the villain lasts for a while. He certainly wasn’t going down without a fight and he can fire energy blasts. That’s really all you need to help elevate the average film and it was exciting to watch. The fight also felt a little closer to DBZ than usual since Naruto was basically relying on fist barrages for most of the battle.

One plotline still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me though. After “Naruto” attacks the Raikage he tells his minions to go get Killer Bee since they needed to find the box ASAP. Then they vanish until the very ending. Did it really take them so long to find the box? It wasn’t very well hidden to be honest and it makes the heroes look pretty bad. Of course, they already looked pretty bad.

Maroi is one of the main prisoners since he is pretty shifty. He seems to be working for Mui one minute and then for the heroes the next. He’s definitely not the kind of guy that you would trust in a heartbeat. I actually expected a plot twist involving his character that simply never took place. He seems to be a decently tough shinobi, but he’s nowhere near the real ninja. (So, I’d call him Chunin level) He’s still not likable though and we learn that he certainly cannot be a hero. He’s just out to save his own skin and he’ll do whatever it takes to ensure his own survival.

Mui is one of the big characters and I guess you can argue that he’s the big villain of the film. He can fight as seen when he beat Naruto up when they had a quick sparring match. We don’t get to see a whole lot more than that from him, but his curse styled ninjutsu is very powerful. I don’t see him lasting long against one of the stronger characters, but a weakened Naruto is right up his ally. (According to this film) I can’t say that I like him a whole lot though and his character development is good…except for his origin. The origin just doesn’t fit in and he must have been pretty crazy to allow it to be so. He’s changed his thought processes on this, but there’s still no excuse for falling for something like that in the first place. He has a pretty cool voice in the English dub, which helps his character a little.

Naruto is the main character as expected and I’m glad to say that his character portrayal is basically spot on. He looks very good and this is probably the best that he has looked…since the last film. That may not sound very impressive, but it’s just that the films have been Reeeeeeeally good at making Naruto a likable hero. He may be better in the films than in the normal show although I like him there a lot too. He has his good and bad moments in the show while the film is really just about his good moments. He’s a pretty selfless hero who always wants to do the right thing and he refuses to cross the line. That’s the kind of hero that you want to follow. My only qualm with his portrayal is probably that he looks a little too weak.

Naruto should have easily crushed Mui. Naruto may have had to fight without chakra, but he’s still a very experienced fighter and I would expect him to have the upper hand in a fight. I also like to think that Naruto would have been able to have enough chakra to overpower the jutsu since he has the Nine Tailed Fox inside of him. We’ve seen time and time again that few things can really hope to overpower such a beast. Naruto’s brief escape at the beginning was also a little sad and he should have broken through the current. As you can see, I wasn’t pleased with the depiction of his power level for most of the film, but they had to nerf him or the whole thing would have been over in an instant. Bleach and DBZ never nerf their main characters, but I guess they were able to think of a main villain who could fight while keeping it believable. Naruto’s writers may have feared the power of the plot holes.

Ryuzetsu is the mysterious ninja who turns out to be a lady. Only Naruto is surprised at this twist since it’s fairly obvious in the Dub (The Sub as well since the character design looks female from the get go. It’s anime so you can never be too sure, but I still would have assumed that Ryuzetsu was a she) thanks to the voice. She has a role to play in all of this because there is a sub plot that is completely unnecessary about a sub faction called the Flowers. They don’t like what is happening at this prison and they’re going to put a stop to it. You don’t have to remember that though since it has absolutely no bearing on the plot. She’s a pretty nice person and she is also a very talented swimmer. When it comes down to a battle she’s decent, but she doesn’t seem to have any real special abilities. I guess she just didn’t get a chance to use them, but that would have been nice. As far as filler heroes go, she’s a marked improvement over the norm.

Muku is voiced by the same guy who voices Kirito and Rin so that was pretty awesome. His brief moments in the sob story are pretty intense because of this. Aside from that, I sill don’t care for him. At one point, he got my hopes really high because I thought that I was about to get the big fight scene that I had been waiting for. Unfortunately, it was just a red herring and I slumped back in my seat. He’s tough and a genius like Sasuke, but we don’t get a chance to really see that. I don’t think that we will ever forget Muku, but he’s just one of those guys who cracked and lost his shot at being a true hero.

There was a pretty pointless character who had the ability to transform into many people. He was probably only needed for the framing scene and even the writers seemed to have forgotten that he was around. A classic example of this is when the 6 members of the Zodiac animal mask wearing villains have a meeting. They discuss how it will take all of them teaming up to take him down and they’ll only manage it because of the shapeshifter’s weakness. The battle occurs and it takes one of the members a split second to win the battle. I thought this bald guy was supposed to be a threat? The whole scene just made you wince since the villains have paralysis techniques that are so powerful that nobody can break through them. Even Naruto is instantly ensnared by the technique. The villains are pretty cheap though and they never actually get a real fight scene so they are thrown by the wayside.

I also thought that the ending was extremely abrupt. There’s a “true” ending if you stick around long enough, but the screen just fading to black and Naruto seeming pretty emotionless is not exactly how you captivate an audience. It’s a decently emotional scene (Or as emotional as you can get for a character that you didn’t even know for 100 minutes) so you would expect Naruto to put up more of a fight. At least a “nooooooo” type of scene would have helped there. Once again, it also made the Leaf look pretty bad since you could tell that they really didn’t care that much. It was just a casualty of war after all. That’s how they seemed to think of it instead of owning up to the fact that none of this would have happened if the Leaf Shinobi had arrived sooner.

The plot twist about the villain’s ability is also pretty bad. It’s the worst possible way that they could have explained it. Why not just make him a telepath? Instead, he reads the heroes’ fear and that’s how he follows their movements. At the end, Naruto stops fearing the unknown so the villain can’t track him anymore. Are we really supposed to believe that Kakashi and Killer Bee were scared when they joined the fray? I don’t believe that for a second and neither would Maka. Fear powers are fun when they are used correctly, but that is difficult which is why few authors even bother to give it a whirl. It’s nice to see a big villain with this ability, but it was handled very poorly. The heroes were not given a reason to fear the monster and Naruto didn’t seem to be scared at all initially. That was just sloppy writing in the end.

As a final thought, I think that the series needs to stop hyping up Gamabunta. Haven’t we already confirmed that he’s infinitely weaker than Naruto at this point? I don’t think Naruto should have summoned him at all since he should be a liability at this point. There’s no good reason why he can keep up with the heroes anymore aside from the fact that he’s a fan favorite character. He was good in the old days when the Legendary Sannin were considered to be a threat, but those days are over. It’s why nobody summons animals unless they are desperate anymore. Naruto needs to follow suit.

Overall, Blood Prison is a solid film despite how negative the review seems. I will admit that I was pretty disappointed with the film, but not as much so as I was with Battle of Gods. (Pro tip, Do Not watch the trailer or you’ll get the wrong idea for either one of these films) I probably would have liked Blood Prison a little more if I had not seen the trailer, but I would still be disappointed with the lack of action. Blood Prison is probably the weakest installment in the Shippuden series. The only one that may be worse is Bonds and that one may actually have the slight edge over this one. (I’ll have to rewatch it again at some point. I remember not liking it much and the final fight was short, but the opponent was still a buff humanoid so there’s always that) It has its faults to be sure, but Blood Prison’s action scenes are still good when they happen and Naruto’s portrayal is spot on. The animation and soundtrack are good enough to keep the film afloat as well. The film drags on a little during the early prison scenes and the whole thing is rather unnecessary, but it gets more interesting once the monster appears. I recommend this title if you’re looking for an old school ninja film or if you just want to see some monster action. Just be warned that this film barely qualifies as an action since we don’t get a real fight scene until the end. It’s better to just call it a mystery. Go into the film expecting that and you should be pleased.

Overall 7/10