The Red Balloon Review

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It’s time to look at a fairly short film. This is one of those movies where you have to really enjoy balloons as otherwise you might not get all that invested in the plot. I don’t use the word “plot” loosely either since there isn’t much to find here. It’s a very short film so I wouldn’t even say that it drags on, but the movie forgets to ever get interesting. As such you’re just watching things happen on screen but without any kind of payoff or punchline.

The film starts with a kid walking with a Red Balloon. This balloon is sentient which is handy for the kid since he would have dropped it ages ago otherwise. The Balloon isn’t allowed in the school so the kid goes on ahead and everything goes well for a while. Things deteriorate when a group of kids decide to pop the balloon. The kid doesn’t want this so he runs, but he’s up against an entire school so he may be a little outgunned here. I sympathize with the kid, but with the numbers advantage so clearly against him there just isn’t much that he can do.

The ending is a little emotional as the Balloon gets wrecked by the kids. It’s hard to feel too sympathetic though since the balloon played the match up horribly. He can fly and yet when the kids came he decided to go low. A low sweep is good when the opponent is expecting an aerial attack, but since the balloon has no legs to kick with it’s a pointless maneuver. Of course they ended up popping him. I guess they were trying to say that the balloon wasn’t very smart, but I could have told you that from the start. It’s also sad for the kid since he wasn’t very smart either, but he was pretty young so I guess I’ll cut him some slack. At the end the other balloons come together in one last act of unity and teamwork. It’s an interesting scene I guess as it does show their true colors. They didn’t come to help until after the threat was passed and the balloon was terminated. Some friends they were!

At its core the problem this film faces is that without dialogue and a plot no film can succeed. You can have a good film without dialogue or a solid one without a plot, but you can’t do both at the same time. You need something to keep the audience engaged. Even the main character wasn’t really a character. What could you tell me about him aside from the fact that he’s a kid? The guy has no real personality and just seeing him cross the street and walk around town is hardly entertaining. Kids can’t really hold their own films. This is something that has been true for decades and I don’t expect it will change anytime soon. I already talked about how I didn’t like the balloon so there were no likable characters in this film.

Also, as most of the film is just the bullies chasing the hero, you’re hoping that he will outwit them at some point or do something. At least head for the adults for backup right? Instead he just runs through a lot of empty alleys until he finally lands in a field where no one can come to help. Fortunately the bullies were only interested in the balloon, but it definitely wasn’t an optimal outcome for the kid. Things went better than they could have, but why did the bullies have to get away for free? When you stop to think about it, they ended up winning which sends the wrong message.

Overall, I can’t really see how you would enjoy this film all that much to be honest. Maybe it will generate a level of nostalgia if you used to have a pet balloon or something. I can’t recommend the film even with the length because there just doesn’t seem to be a point to it. If you just want to see the landscapes just head to Central Park or London’s tower. Sitting down to watch someone just walk around doesn’t strike me as something that would be entertaining to do. If we ever get a sequel hopefully this time it gets a bigger budget so we will have something to watch and be entertained by. In the meantime, you should watch a good cartoon like Arthur instead.

Overall 4/10

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Pop Team Epic Review

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It’s time to look at another one of the worst anime out there. This one definitely holds its own against titles like FLCL. I’ve never been a big fan of anthologies and I’m even less of a fan of this kind of art style. Mix the two together and you’ve got yourself a show that was doomed right from the start. There just isn’t anything really good about this show so what ends up happening is that you just wait for it to end. Each episode is only around 10 minutes before it repeats so it isn’t even all that long but it feels long.

There’s no plot so we don’t have to worry about that I guess. There are two characters here Pipimi and Popuko. They just like walking around and doing crazy things. Most of the shorts don’t have anything to do with the others. Since there is no continuity to keep or logic to follow the series can get as absolutely crazy as it wants. There’s just no end to it. In particular there are 3 kinds of shorts that pop up frequently.

First is Bob’s Epic Team. The whole point of these specials is that each of the characters look incredibly deformed and they go around doing more crazy stuff. The voices are annoying and much like the rest of the show it just isn’t funny. It usually gets 2 segments in each episode so brace yourself for those. The second kind of short is Pop Team Cooking. In these the characters usually start to cook or just talk until the segment ends. Nothing ever really happens but at least I can say that the title is kind of catchy.

Then we also have the french segments which are great if you like recycled animation and nothing ever happening. These definitely don’t help the show’s case either. Then we’ve got the random segments that have nothing to do with anything as well. Those are about as bad as you may expect. The only ones that are even kind of good are the long ones at the beginning of every episode. Each episode gets 1 long segment and this allows the segment to get an actual plot. We had an action one, a Detective Conan one, a supernatural murder one, etc. At least these plots were trying to be okay. Of course the show can’t help but go off the deep end here as well as one segment decides to have a romance plot within the family which gets to be about as bad as you would expect. Hey, at least nobody can ever accuse the show of being classy right?

Surprisingly the show doesn’t have a lot of fanservice since I wouldn’t have been surprised from this kind of title. With the animation being this bad though I guess it didn’t want to even try. The soundtrack is basically nonexistent, but I suppose the opening isn’t bad. The images are pretty boring but the tune can be catchy. This kind of show just doesn’t have much in the way of music during the episodes. I already talked about how terrible the animation is so we don’t have to go over that. It’s just painfully bad.

I did like the episode previews at the end because they hint at what kind of show this could have been. The hypothetical story in those bits already look a whole lot more interesting than this one. It seems like a real show with actual animation. You just can’t go wrong there am I right? The show looks rather generic intentionally of course, but I would still take it over this one in a heart beat.

The only 2 real characters here are Popuko and Pipimi but of course their personalities do tend to change based on the short. No matter how the show up the two characters are always pretty annoying though. I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a fan of them. Without a good cast or a reasonable plot a show is never going to go anywhere and that’s exactly what happened to this title.

At the end of the day Pop Team Epic is a comedy show. It tries for very outlandish and abstract humor which doesn’t land. Since that is the whole point of the show it was rather doomed right from the start. It’s very focus just wasn’t good enough to keep your attention and there just isn’t anything for it to fall back on from that point. I almost feel bad for the show, but it really has no one to blame but itself. From the very first episode you could tell that it was not going to be good. Making half of the show recycled animation is also incredibly lazy. I can’t imagine how this ever got to be on TV with such lazy production values behind it. In the end you could say that it just didn’t deserve to succeed.

Overall, This is a short review, but Pop Team Epic is basically only 6 episodes so it’s a rather short show. There is no cast or plot either so there just isn’t much to talk about. It’s essentially a long joke that keeps losing its focus and forgetting the punch lines. I’m sure it had a lot of plans initially but in the end the show just couldn’t bring them to fruition. All it did for me was reaffirm the fact that anthology series don’t have a whole lot of potential. Especially when the shorts are only around 2 minutes or less on average. There is really nothing you can do in such a short amount of time. If this sounds interesting to you then by all means check it out. Still, I can’t say that I’m hyped for the next season. Hopefully it is able to do something because the references aren’t enough to help this show overcome its terrible sense of humor and nonexistent plot. Maybe we could just get a full reboot with a different group of staff behind it. Surely an overhaul would ensure that the season is better…right?

Overall 1/10

Mad Max Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be even more negative
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It’s time for one of those films that has always been known as one of the worst. It’s always an interesting experience to go into a film knowing that there is over a 95% chance that it’s going to be terrible. Well, Mad Max certainly lived up to the hype. There is no real plot and the writing is worse than an Adam Sandler film. There are no redeemable qualities for this film whatsoever and right away you can tell that this film is going to be a chore to get through. If this film was intending to be good then it failed miserably but if deep down its intention was to be known as the greatest mess of a film during its time, then perhaps it succeeded. Either way, I think we know what the score is going to be here.

The film starts off with the corrupt cops knocking each others cars over and getting steamrolled by two random crooks in a car. Nobody in this film knows how to drive and that point will keep on getting brought up over the course of the film. If the villains even so much as try to turn, then the heroes get knocked over because they can’t do the same. The cops nearly lose this round, but the villain randomly crashes and blows up. Now there is a biker gang on the loose who are trying to avenge the other villains and go around blowing up cops and murdering towns. Max, being the hero that he is, decides to run away and leave the rest of the cops to fend for themselves. He takes his family to an abandoned part of the forest where nobody can possibly help them and then runs off again. They’re murdered and now Max has to try and avenge them. Thing is, if he wasn’t even remotely intelligent prior to this..is he smart enough to finish off the job?

Where to start with this film? First off, the writers should clearly rethink their careers because the story is as nonsensical as it can be. There is no focus to the story as its just the bandits messing around with everyone. They might even have more screentime than the main lead and half of the time it’s just them acting obnoxious and yelling a lot. Nobody even makes any logical moves. Take Max for example. Since he was a cop, he knows all about the biker gang and how they target anyone they come across. This also seems to be common knowledge across the country in this alternate future. Why would he possibly leave his family alone once they made it to the woods? This area isn’t far from all of the biker gang attacks after all so he should have gone with them. Even once he meets up with the family, he deserts them again in the very next scene to check out the forest. Finally, when he is trying to murder all of the bikers, he falls into their very obvious trap. Maybe if the film was trying to portray him as an unintelligent person then it would be decent writing, but this is clearly not the intent. Nobody looks smart here and unless this is a film that’s actually taking place in the past and everyone’s a caveman, then it just doesn’t work.

The rest of the cops? Don’t worry about them since they never actually get a role in the film. Like I said, over half of the film is about the villains and the last 15-20 minutes are about Max’s payback. Nothing else that we see in the film is ever important and most of the scenes can be considered as filler. An important thing when constructing a universe is to make sure that everything makes sense. If you live in a society where there is no law and you’re in constant danger, then everyone should always have a gun at the ready. If driving fast is essential to staying alive, then you’d expect people to know how to drive right away. Yet, nobody actually acts like they live in the world that they’re set in. Characters act as if they’re in a normal world and are then surprised when they are constantly attacked.

Mad Max is also a very mean spirited film as you might expect. The villains have their way with everyone and the heroes always suffer very slow deaths or fates worse than death. This film is quite graphic and dark. There’s never any actual happy scenes so instead the film plays the happy tunes when the main character tortures and murders the villains. Definitely shows you what the writer was thinking while writing this. It’s definitely a film that is trying its best to be as edgy and over the top as possible. It definitely succeeds in that regard and with all the shock value thrown into the film I suppose it was never trying to have any sort of quality anyway. This is the kind of film that you can chuck into the can within minutes. I can’t imagine being in the theaters for a film like this. You’d be dashing to the front to get your refund so fast that you’d be a blur. The problem is that everyone else would have the same idea so it would still be tough.

At least the film has a soundtrack so I suppose I should see that as a silver lining, but since the sound director had no idea what he was doing, the music is placed in all of the wrong scenes. It never actually makes sense and I get the feeling that the person in charge of the music didn’t actually watch the movie. Smart idea actually so he’s probably the smartest guy on the team. I can’t really put too much blame on the guy as a result.

There’s not too much more to say and bash about Mad Max since you get the drift. If the characters are poorly written, the plot is nonexistent, the music isn’t placed correctly, the writing for the universe and everything in it is terrible and the script is terrible…what is left for the film? Even the scenery is rather bland as it’s just a bunch of roads and we don’t have any cool buildings. Everything is torn down and old, just like this film. You can get to snoozeville before you actually find something interesting about this film. If the writers couldn’t be bothered to make an actual story why would you even want to try to find one? There is nothing to be found here, only despair and decay.

Max Max’s main incentive for viewers is to see a revenge story. It’s supposed to be exhilarating because they make villains that are really mean and then you get to see the hero become just as mean as he destroys them all. It’s just such a poor way to try and create a plot. Revenge fantasies are just no good as the “hero” ends up becoming just like the villains in his mad quest for vengeance. Still, it’s a popular writing technique for writers who don’t know what else to do because it is extremely easy. Just have a bunch of tragic things happen that causes the hero to snap. You could come up with a plot like this in seconds and that’s likely what the creative staff here did. You could probably come up with a better plot and script in a few minutes than what we got in this film.

Overall, This film is definitely a disaster. It’s the kind of movie that you play to get everyone to shut off the TV and save electricity. There’s no enjoyment to be found here and you’d have a lot more fun just taking a nap or watching a show about paint drying. Sure, paint drying is the classic example, but at least it’s so much of a meme that it would still be a little entertaining as you just space out. I don’t have any real hopes for the sequels to be honest, but how much worse can they get? I know that a film can always get worse, but you do really have to try to be this level of bad. Next time you think of watching Mad Max, remember that nobody deserves to have to watch this film. That’s just how bad this movie is.

Overall 0/10

Kino’s Journey Review

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It’s time for an anime review! It’s been a little while since I reviewed one so it’s time to get back in the swing of things. Unfortunately, Kino’s Journey is one of the weakest anime that I have seen in a long while and doesn’t hold up well. Despite the dated animation and unlikable characters, the show does have something going for it. Kino’s Journey is only 13 episodes. Beyond that, it’s a pretty tough ride and not a title that I would recommend for aspiring anime fans.

Kino’s journey is about a girl who drives around on her talking motorrad. She is a traveler, which means that she has no place to call home and simply visits towns as she travels the world. Her only rule is that she can never stay in a place for more than 3 days. She gets to see the worst of humanity and its best. Just about all of the episodes are stand alone adventures and some episodes even have 2-3 stories within them. As with most anthologies, this means that some episodes are good while others are really bad. Unfortunately, the latter is usually the case. Since the series is so short, lets take a look at most of the episodes.

The first episode has a Twilight Zone esque feel as Kino arrives in a town where machines do everything. Humans now live by themselves and avoid each other. The reason for this is that they have mastered telepathy and now know each other’s dark secrets. They are all so dark and mysterious that they can’t even look at each other. Kino listens to the sad tale and drives off, admiring the irony of how they originally just wanted to get to know each other better. This was a good way to start the series. It was an interesting episode and the plot was sound. It may not be very exciting, but it was decent enough.

Unfortunately, the second episode was the worst in the series and shot the series right into the gutter. Kino was driving across a snowy mountain when she noticed three human traffickers dying of hunger and thirst. She quickly murders a few rabbits and give them to these crooks, but not before they ate the people they were carrying. Kino quickly dashes off and realizes that she should have spared the rabbits instead of the humans, but 20/20 hindsight won’t be winning Kino any points. The episode is so dark and grim that it’ll just make you shake your head. Reading memes about Harambe is more thought provoking than this episode as Kino just proves that she has a lot more respect for saving humans than animals. The series really never recovered from this episode.

The third episode is an anthology inside of anthology. It was a little on the boring side since most of the stories didn’t have enough time to actually do anything. The first story is all right as a guy states that the world will be ending soon, but then another guy says that he counted the days wrong so it won’t be ending quite yet. Kino takes the opportunity to nab as much free food as she can and heads out. Another town showed up, which lived only to entertain travelers. Kino got out of there quickly to ensure the town’s demise. Well, the episode was a lot better than the second one.

Next was the episode where we finally saw Kino’s origin story. She lived in a twisted town where all kids had to undergo an operation to turn into adults. Luckily, a guy named Kino showed up. He was a traveler so he didn’t want to interfere, but when he saw that the town was going to murder Kino, he quickly stepped in. They murdered him and went to get Kino, but she escaped on the motorrad. This was the turning point where she lost her personality, design, and character in exchange for gun skills. It was a pretty fun episode and it shows how many towns are actually pretty twisted and you have to either get with the program of get out. I recommend the latter.

The 5th episode was fairly interesting even if it was a little repetitive. Kino discovers a land where there is an infinite cycle made by 4-5 guys. One guy spends his whole life taking apart the tracks, another guy spends his life putting them back, another guy polishes them, etc. They are all working together, but don’t see the other guys since they are a few miles apart. This means that none of them will ever make any progress or be able to return home to their families. It’s a shame, but they are getting paid so I suppose they should be grateful for that. Not to mention the fact that they technically could go home, but choose not to do so for some crazy reason. Kino decides not to mention any of this since she doesn’t want to change the customs and just tells them stories as she rides on. This was a good, calm episode.

The next two episodes contained the tournament saga. These episodes were the only ones with real action behind them so that was neat. Kino entered a tournament where she had to fight a lot of opponents to the death. Kino wanted to win without destroying anyone and steadily climbed the ranks. Then she realized that the leader was pretty corrupt so she decided to break her traveler law and shoot the guy in the face. A pretty dramatic Hunger Games esque ending to that event. Well, the tourney was pretty fun, but Kino was a jerk to everyone as per usual. She refused to keep anyone in the loop and just did what she wanted when she wanted to. At least this proved that she is certainly a very good fighter and someone who should be feared. It was a fun two parter.

The next episode had Kino be a supporting character for once as another character decided to build a plane. She did pretty good and completed the task. There’s not much to this episode, but there’s nothing wrong with it either. If anything, the main character was a definite improvement over Kino so that’s always a good thing. The one after that involved a land where books are forbidden aside from really family friendly ones. Naturally, that means that Kino didn’t like the books since she needs something with a little more edge to it. She meets a delusional author who believes that reality is fake and everyone starts chasing each other and the episode loses its sense of purpose by the end. There were fires and a lot of crazy stuff, but the episode was pretty jumbled and didn’t make too much sense by the end. It was all right I suppose, but Kino really needs to stop getting in everyone’s way if she’s not actually going to do anything to help.
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Episode 10 saw Kino head to a house where the family were robots. It takes Kino a really long time to figure this out, but at least it means that she will get free meals all the time. Kino ultimately decides to move on, but it was a decent enough resting place I suppose. Robots get more realistic each day eh? The next episode was another anthology esque episode where Kino remembers the good ole days. There’s a boat and a lot of stories, but we can skim over this episode as well. It wasn’t really an attention grabber. The last two episodes certainly are, but I’m afraid that this is not in a good way.

Kino heads to another evil country where two powerful lands have decided to band together and murder people for sport. Whoever murders the most people wins. The two lands do this every so often and are pretty proud of themselves. Kino doesn’t bother to stop them or do anything about it since she’s just a traveler, but she does take a few shots at the people who are being murdered. In her defense, they tried to murder her first as it’s their past time to let their aggression go after being hunted. It’s a pretty vicious cycle of violence, but as mentioned earlier, it doesn’t matter to Kino if her neck isn’t on the line. She just drives off. It’s another really dark episode that makes you really dislike Kino.

Finally, we have another really dark episode. Kino heads to a town that is about to be destroyed in three days. The adults know it, but most of the kids do not. The parents have decided that the kids have to die alongside them, but they’ll spare Kino. Kino doesn’t know about this until she leaves and sees that everyone has died. Well, at least Kino has lived so now she can go watch more tragedies and suffering with the strange traditions that people have. Not a bad plan eh? Kino’s Journey decides to end the series on this low note and I do have to question a lot of its decisions.

As you can guess, I really didn’t like Kino. She’s easily one of the worst anime main characters that I’ve come across. By visiting all of these lands and not actually interfering unless it’s something that personally offends her, Kino is basically an accomplice to the crime. She can fight and actually could help people out, but purposefully chooses not to do so. There’s really no point to her journey and she should feel ashamed for making all of these bad decisions. Injuring animals, Watching people die, chatting it up with the villains, you just have to wonder whose side Kino’s on. She seems to just be in it for the thrills. Her cold personality is certainly fitting then as she always gives very vague answers, acts rude to everyone that she talks too, and also has a pretty bland design. There’s really nothing to like about Kino and it’s a shame since she was fairly all right in the flash back episode.

The only other real character in the show is the motorrad. The motorrad is fairly bland was well though as half of his lines are just repeating what Kino just said or asking a really obvious question. The motorrad was always super annoying and the voice was so raspy that you just knew that he was doing it on purpose. I don’t blame him since Kino’s no mean all of the time, but I was never invested in any of the characters. I think the old Kino could have ended up being more interesting, but at the same time maybe not. The other Kino also didn’t like to interfere, but he did prove that he would help in a pinch when he saved the current Kino. That makes me think that he has a slightly stronger moral compass. A shame that current Kino couldn’t learn from his example.

The animation is rather sub par and certainly one of the weakest ones that you will be seeing. The colors are all pretty faded out and you’ll notice that they reuse a lot of scenes to save on the budget. Watch out for Kino’s daily gun practice and how she starts up the bike in every episode. It just gets annoying after a while and even if the animation isn’t great, the show could have used some nice backgrounds to bluff its way past that. The show just looks a lot older than it actually is. It came out in 2003 and yet the original seasons of shows like Pokemon and One Piece can take it on. That’s a little sad. The soundtrack is also not very good. The theme song’s a little on the boring side and the music inside each of the episodes is very lifeless. You’ll forget the tunes as soon as they pop up. That’s not a great way to make people more excited about the actual episodes. Not by a long shot!

The main problem with Kino’s journey is just how dark and depressing the whole show is. There is nobody to root for and Kino herself drags the show down. If it wants to go the Twilight Zone route and have episodes where we can see places with a lot of strangeness, then tragic endings can work a little better. It still shouldn’t go as extreme as Kino’s last two though. However, by having Kino around, it makes the whole thing worse since the victims have Kino right there to help them, but she decides not to do so. It’s like having a villain as the main character and that’s no fun.

Finally, the show tries to be deep and thoughtful in its own way with text in between the episodes and scattered at random points. Kino will also beat you over the head with a message at the end of every episode. The problem is that most of the dialogue ends up feeling very obvious or just like rambling. At least Serial Experiments Lain had aliens show up and cool conspiracies and fights. Lain also had a much better atmosphere and characters. I didn’t even like Lain all that much, but you can feel the difference. Lain is what Kino’s Journey wanted to be, but could never reach.
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Overall, Kino’s Journey is not a good anime. The animal violence is terrible and the episodes can get way too grim. If this show is supposed to be a calming experience, then it is clearly failing at that. The show also needed a far more likable pair of main characters if it wanted to get anywhere. Some plots never really went anywhere and just showed up to buy time like Kino training her gun skills every night. We get it, she can fight, but do we need whole minutes of her taking the gun out and putting it away again? That kind of training isn’t very fun if there’s no payoff and there should have at least been some music in the scenes. Ugh, I recommend watching just about anything else that I’ve reviewed instead. If you want a dark anime that handles itself well, watch Madoka Magica instead. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed in the slightest.

Overall 3/10