Passengers Review

Passengers got a lot of posters back when it came out but they did a good job because I really didn’t know much about the film. It’s definitely not a big alien invasion sci-fi so don’t go in expecting that. It’ more of a quiet title about finding out if you can live by yourself or if you would go crazy. This is the kind of film where there’s a lot to say but ultimately I don’t think the execution was very good. The main character holds this one back a lot because he makes some massive mistakes and I wouldn’t say that the ending is very satisfying either.

The premise here is that a bunch of people decided to voluntarily go into stasis for close to 100 years so they could wake up on a new planet and start a new life for themselves. The spaceship they’re on is super safe so they’re guaranteed not to wake up early. Well Jim wakes up around 88 years early unfortunately. The ship has enough supplies to last him for the rest of his life so technically he can absolutely survive on his own but at the same time but now he’s lonely. So he wakes up another passenger named Aurora because he’s hoping to marry her but can’t let her know that he intentionally woke her up and pretends it was a glitch. Can he keep this pretense up and won’t it completely wreck the romance?

So right off the bat Jim looks really bad here. There’s just no excuse for waking someone up. You’ve just ended that person’s life because she won’t be able to reconnect with society now. She is doomed to only have this guy for company and it’s not like he has the most selfless of intentions. There’s just no excusing this and it massively hurts his character.

Jim did last a year or two on his own before waking her up but even then he should have kept on going. The ship has all kinds of entertainment like basketball and dancing, not to mention a sentient robot that can talk to you. I wouldn’t be surprised if it has books and other things as well. Will you get bored from time to time? Sure, absolutely that will happen without a doubt but at the same time that’s just how the ball bounces.

Now, there is one other option and that is to wake everyone up. Just explain that the pod opened up early so you woke everyone else up to help out. Jim wanted to wake up the pilot and the tech crew but unfortunately they are in a different room from the passengers and so far it’s been impossible to open. So way I see it you wake everyone up or nobody. At least with everyone up then you can all figure out a way to open up the door and teamwork can go a long way. With just two people you’re not going to go far and of course it’s just super selfish. Survive on your own if you can’t make that call.

There is one thing the film doesn’t touch on that feels important though. This ship was stocked with the expectation that the crew would be asleep for the entire journey so in theory there aren’t going to be a ton of food supplies here. Certainly not enough for everybody so that’s another thing to consider if everyone is woken up. At the same time, even for one person you’re probably going to run out.

The original plan was to wake everyone up 1 month before arrival. So that’s one month of food for 5200+ people. That’s 15,600 meals and you can assume that they would have stocked some extra so maybe 20,000? Now lets look at Jim. If he has to live out the rest of his life here and I dunno, he’s probably late twenty’s to early thirty’s? I’m sure they said his age but I forget. We’ll assume about 27 as a good middle ground and with no threats or bad food to worry about lets say he lives to 87 just go keep the numbers round. That’s 60 years of 3 meals a day. 365 X 3 X 60 = 65,7000 meals. Lets now say he dies early at 67 just because. Then that’s still 43,800 meals. If Jim even lives for twenty years he will exceed the amount of food prepared for the whole ship.

So now we’ve voided the only reason for waking everyone up because they’re all dead either way. You can’t survive a month on no food so if they wake up and no food is there then they’re a goner. So again you have to wake everyone up and keep it moving. Learn how to create your own food but in a ship like this I wonder how possible that is. We see a garden near the end so I guess that could work. I have my doubts though and it’s the one glaring hole that I felt the film didn’t dive into. It’s not like it’s the point of the film but it’s worth thinking about since a huge part of the film is about deciding to wake up Aurora or not.

Well, I’ve already talked about Jim enough so we can end it there. He’s just not a good character. Meanwhile Aurora was reasonable enough. At first she tries to come up with lots of ways to escape but Jim has given up so completely that he won’t help at all. You’d think he would at least be interested in hearing her out a bit in case she thinks of something. It’s not unheard of that someone could think of an idea that you couldn’t right?

Naturally the romance falls absolutely flat here though. You just can’t root for it at all since the whole thing is based on a lie. When she finds out the truth she is naturally upset but is basically told not to blame Jim much and there are no other options so you know they’ll end up together. It’s one of the annoying things about the film. I feel like you don’t forget a big lie like that so they should never get together. Make them friends or something and she takes the high road but a romance absolutely does not work. Easily the worst aspect of the film without a doubt.

The deception just can’t be walked back particularly because it’s possible he would have never told her if the robot didn’t rat him out. Even the scenes that should be charming and fun have a darker edge to them as a result since you’re rooting for Jim’s downfall. It’s why Arthur was a fun robot since I absolutely think he sabotaged Jim on purpose. That was my interpretation of the scene at least. That little smirk of his before talking told me everything that I needed to know. The fact that there is a robot here who can talk is yet another reason why Jim should have been satisfied. Their talks were reasonable.

We also get one of the crew named Gus who shows up briefly but he’s basically just here for some exposition and to open up the crew hangers. I would have cut him out of the film entirely to be honest because he really serves no purpose and doesn’t have great advice either. I would have been more upset with him if I was Aurora and his inclusion in the film ultimately doesn’t really change much.

We do get some danger and action at the end of the film so it’s not purely calm the whole time, just for most of it. The climax isn’t bad, there’s not a whole lot you can do in space to be honest but the visuals still look good. We even almost got a quick fight with Arthur going crazy and waving that knife of his.

Overall, Passengers is a film that really can’t survive the main character. I think there’s a lot of promise here if you just change up the story so the main two wake up. Yes, the romance would still be super cheesy but at least it wouldn’t be starting them off on the wrong foot so you have a better time believing in it. Romance is the main focus of this film so when that falls away then everything does along with it. Remake the film with that one change and you’re looking at a world of difference.

Overall 4/10

The Devil Wears Prada Review

This film is a very well known romance/comedy title. Maybe drama would be appropriate to put in there as well but either way people know this one. It’s a classic story with a fun main villain and holds up fairly well in most respects. The romance itself has to be the weakest part of the film though. I’m not really into fashion so I could sympathize with the main character for a while because it all looks the same to me really. Just grab a good T shirt and you’re all set if you ask me.

The movie starts off with Andy showing up for an interview at a very prestigious fashion magazine. It’s not exactly her calling but she just needs something to pay the bills for a while so this will do. She surprisingly gets the job and now has to work for Miranda, the most infamous boss out there. Miranda is not afraid to put you on the spot and humiliate you for almost no reason just to remind you who the top dog is around here. Her demands are outrageous and she is impossible to please but Andy won’t be rattled so easily. Can she prove her own in this pseudo fight with Miranda and if she wins..will she have lost something important?

After all sometimes winning a fight means losing the war. You can win the fight to go to GameStop and buy every game but you’re going to lose when the credit card bill comes in and the IRS comes a knocking. In this case the cost is the respect of her friends as her boyfriend Nate and the crew are very judgmental about those who dress well and have a lot of sophistication. They’re basically the gossiping type and are quick to try and get Andy in trouble or make her feel bad when there’s a work obligation.

I should note now that I have 0 sympathy for these guys and Andy should cut ties real quick. They’re usually not willing to listen to her side of the story anyway and the friendship couldn’t have been so strong if they were so quick to turn on her. It’s just a really bad look for them and Nate deserves the lion’s share of the blame since they were together. Him pouting because she missed his birthday was absolutely the worst. Of course he claimed that he didn’t care…but didn’t act like it.

Now this was in 2006 so I forget how big cell phones were at the time but Andy had one so I assume Nate had something right? I could see him being a little upset that she didn’t text ahead of time but the problem is that they’ve been together for so long that he shouldn’t be causing such a scene over one little issue. Plus, she had even made the heroic call and decided not to go and meet the boss or stay late for drinks because she was hurrying home. It was only her normal job duties that caused her to be so late. So yeah there was no saving Nate and the friends here.

As for Andy, well she did good the whole time. The only instances you may use to go against her is when she goes to the big fashion event over Emily and when she starts hanging out with that desperate guy who was chasing after her. The first example isn’t a big deal if you ask me. Yes, Emily wanted to go but Andy was basically told by the boss directly that it wasn’t happening. Andy protested a bit but beyond that what is she supposed to do? Get fired just to prove a point? I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect her to do anything more than what she did.

For the latter, yeah that’s a big issue for sure. She was still with Nate when the guy started flirting and even afterwards they had just broken up so it’s way too early to be rebounding. That was a weakness on her part for sure but in the end she was one of the better characters here regardless. She put in the work and got really good at her job despite it being so extremely difficult. That’s talent and dedication right there. She earned every bit of her success.

As for Emily, she was more of an antagonist the whole time anyway. She was always taking shots at Andy for no real reason and just liked to feel superior. So when things don’t go well she starts complaining a lot. Ultimately Andy still takes the high road all the time which is another little thing I appreciated about the film. Andy never felt the need to get revenge or anything like that and so by the end she did win Emily over.

Then you have Nigel who was fun enough. He’s been waiting for a big promotion for a long time now and is finally close to the goal. He knows how Miranda works and so that puts him in a good position. He’s great at the job but he always has to be worried since one big mistake could be the end of him. His character arc goes down a more tragic path.

Finally we have Miranda who is fun because the film goes all in with making her the antagonist. There’s nothing half hearted about her. If she wants something done then you know that she is going to say that to your face directly. Additionally she is always on top of things and one step ahead of the competition. I may have seen too many Hallmark movies since for a minute there I actually thought she was going to turn good but then that didn’t happen and that was a good thing. She knew who she wanted to be and the film fleshes her character out so she’s still huma but will always put the job first. That’s just Miranda’s focus and it has turned out well for her. She is quite wealthy and powerful even if it came at the expense of having more time for family.

So the writing here is good and there’s a fun amount of humor as well. The fashion scenes can drag just a bit since fashion is like food. Usually the fancier you get, the more you lose sight of the main goal and don’t turn out as good. A lot of casual clothes easily top the more fancy attires you see in this film. A lot of Andy’s original clothes beat the ones that were made to look glamorous for example but fashion is in the eye of the beholder so at the end of the day you just have to dress in whichever way you think is best.

The film is at its best when we have some nice back and forth with Miranda giving orders and Andy trying to fulfill them. The scenes have a lot of impact and are just fun to follow along with. The film is at its weakest when the friends show up to try and slow Andy’s roll. If they just could have been supportive that would have been great but instead they are constantly in the way.

Overall, This was a good movie. I probably would have tweaked the ending just a bit for Andy and had her make a different choice. I feel like by this point so much has happened that she should see the path through or at least something similar. Still, the ending works out well enough and you will be satisfied by the time you finish the film. It’s a story that is tough to execute but this movie succeeded.

Overall 6/10

Clannad: After Story Review

Clannad: After Story is one of those shows that will start to stress you out near the end. It starts to go towards an ending that you know would absolutely wreck it and you’re just hoping that it doesn’t go that way but a small part of you knows that it could be possible. Well, it doesn’t happen and so you can breathe a sigh of relief. The show does stick the landing and ultimately it’s a good show. I do think it lags behind the original which managed to balance the drama and comedy a lot better. As the After Story this one is a lot more serious throughout with less time for light hearted humor. As expected from this franchise though the emotional scenes definitely do land and this will be a show where you get emotionally invested.

The show starts off with some final school adventures. Enjoy this part of the show while you can because once they leave the school then that’s it. The first episode is sort of the introduction episode for new fans that you often see for season 2s. It’s a chance to get the whole cast hanging out and having fun. It’s a Baseball episode so you’ve also got the sport bonus. It’s a fun way to start up the season and is probably the happiest episode in the saga. Nothing goes wrong, it’s just everyone having a good time bonding over the game. Definitely one of the best executions of the “intro” episode that I’ve seen.

The first real arc involves Tomoya’s friend Youhei as he finally gets his time to shine. Or falter as is the case this time. His sister Mei is really concerned about him because Youhei is still a big troublemaker and doesn’t seem to have matured at all. A lot of time has passed over the years so she was hoping to see some improvement. Youhei figures that he will need a fake girlfriend to trick Mei into thinking that he can look out for himself. None of his female classmates want to help out with this though so the only candidate left is Nagisa’s mom Sanae who doesn’t mind helping out.

The only tricky part is that Youhei doesn’t actually realize that she is the Mom and actually thinks he has a chance. Meanwhile Mei sees through this fairly quick and is discouraged again so she pretends to be going out with Tomoya to test Youhei’s bond but unfortunately he fails at this one because since he’s Tomoya’s best friend he figures that he will look the other way. Everything pretty much blows up at this point and it doesn’t help that Mei wants Tomoya to help her get Youhei back on the soccer team since everything seemed to go wrong as soon as he was kicked off of that club.

Part of the problem though is that the club is as corrupt as they come. The actual members of the club just aren’t good people so there isn’t much benefit in trying to warm up to them. It would have been better if they didn’t even try to help but of course once Mei says she will go Tomoya has to accompany her because these guys can’t be trusted. We do get a big fight there though and then another fight later on between Tomoya and Youhei.

This arc definitely had a lot of serious moments and a lot of dramatic ones as well. The reason I thought that Youhei didn’t look good though is because all of the plans were just bad. For starters, getting a fake girlfriend to convince Mei that he is mature now is just going to have the opposite effect when she inevitably finds out the truth. Even if he could keep the secret, well now he’s living out a lie. His best bet would be to get an actual girlfriend but of course that wasn’t quite in the cards for him either.

He’s always been the most unintelligent member of the cast and so Tomoya ends up tricking him a whole lot but if there was ever a time to rise above that then this would have been it. Instead Youhei makes the wrong call in not speaking up when he knows Mei is way too young for Tomoya. Honestly if the explanation was that he thought it was another prank that would have been way better than his nonreaction here. I would at least have been able to buy that a bit but otherwise he had to make a stand here and shut this down.

Youhei never really came back from that since he doesn’t get much of a role after this. Ultimately he was a good friend to Tomoya and kept him in check over the years but as the resident punching bag of the series it would have been nice if he could have at least looked really good during his big serious arc. That was his chance and he blew it.

Meanwhile I’d also say Mei didn’t look very good here. She could be a bit too forceful in trying to make sure that Youhei matured. At the end of the day it’s something that he has to do on his own and it’s not like you can really force it to happen. Her decision to get him back on the soccer team just ended up causing a whole lot of issues instead of really helping anything out.

It is unfortunate that Tomoyo and the others don’t get much of a role this time but it does work as the after story. It’s a bold approach for sure but when you think of this as the story taking place after the main story has concluded then it makes sense that most of the old characters would be completely written out. Their time in the sun has ended after all.

That said, we do get an alternate reality saga real quick with Kyou and Ryou. So of course Ryou has always liked Tomoya but was way too timid to actually say anything. Well, this time she does say something and he agrees to go out with her basically because he would agree to go out with any girl who worked up the courage to ask him out. That’s how it seems to be at least given how many alternate paths there are. Thing is…he quickly realizes that he actually likes her twin sister Kyou more which makes things complicated.

Kyou’s always liked Tomoya as well but tries to bury these feelings. Having her twin sister going out with him just makes it even harder to hide. Ultimately she wins out and Ryou gets wrecked again but I feel like having both of these involved in the same alternate path made things a little extra tragic. It would have been better if either Ryou got her own alternate universe episode or didn’t do much here. It just makes Tomoya look bad for jumping around so quickly.

Additionally Kyou owed it to her sister not to make a move in that case. Teasing Tomoya on the bench and messing with him was really just a way to get him to fall for her even if she wouldn’t admit it. It’s only natural that she would defeat Ryou once she got serious because she’s more outgoing and attractive while also being able to hold a normal conversation with Tomoya way more than Ryou ever could. But it’s like the bro code, you have to have the sister code as well where you won’t just steal the man like that.

The instant it happened everything was all over because if Tomoya stayed with Ryou then she’d know it was out of pity so the relationship was destroyed right off the bat. This at least allowed them to get more of a role in the season though. Kyou appears a bit anyway as a teacher in the future but Ryou mainly vanishes. Fuuko also appears a bit in the future but her role is really small and I wouldn’t say that it’s too pivotal. It was mostly just a reason to have her around but I miss her supernatural abilities as a ghost. Surprisingly the ghost never got to appear again but I guess that’s because she was back in the world of the living.

We get a mini arc for Misae who is sort of the dorm mother for a bunch of the kids. She was around a bit in season 1 as well so I suppose this was her chance to finally get some real development. It’s a pretty emotional arc that even has some supernatural elements to it. Basically she likes one guy who already has a boyfriend and then a magic guy named Katsuki likes her but it’s hard for him to confess now since Misae was already crushed.

As you can see this is one of those very dramatic arcs. I do think getting together with Katsuki wouldn’t have really worked because the rebound would have been way too quick there. You need time to get over the first love since things didn’t really work out there. It’s interesting to know more about her past but at the end of the day it’s not like she ever ends up being a main character. Think of it as extra world building. Katsuki did the right thing in not confessing initially though. I would defend that as there are times where you shouldn’t “Shoot your shot” and confessing right after someone had a big break up or was rejected is certainly one of those times.

Yukine gets a mini arc as well and if you don’t remember her that’s fine. Her role was eve smaller in season 1 but basically she is always in a small room in the school with some coffee. It turns out that she works as the resident nurse for a bunch of gangs in the area and patches them up whenever they get hurt. As a result everyone likes her because she doesn’t interfere in the fights. Still, her brother was the only one strong enough to stop the fighting entirely and things are getting dicey without him. This leads our hero Tomoya to have to jump in and try fighting.

There are some fun moments here especially the big moment where the brother seemingly appears. This one is less of an emotional arc I’d say and more of a quick action one. The fight is actually played totally straight and has a good amount of tension. It’s clear that Tomoya won’t be able t win with his busted arm but it’s always impressive just how long he lasts considering what he has to deal with. He does well in every sport and challenge even when he can only use one arm.
Now we enter the big part of the series which is the climax to Tomoya and Nagisa’s plot. Well, she is sick once again which is rough because that means that she will have to miss school once again which could prevent her from graduating. Her condition has always been a bit of a mystery as the doctors could not figure out exactly what was wrong with her. This naturally makes things rather tough on Tomoya who can’t possibly enjoy graduation without her. Also if she has to start a whole new year again then that means she will be all by herself this time. He also has to move on and get a job which is where Yoshino comes in handy.

I always thought Yoshino was a good guy and he really comes in handy when it counts here. The guy does his best to show Tomoya the ropes and has his back at every turn. It’s not every day that you find a good friend like that. Yoshino’s speeches also may be a bit on the cheesy side but he does mean every word of them. I was glad that Tomoya never laughed at them because he does owe this guy a lot.

Akio and Sanae are fun supporting characters here as always. Sanae definitely likes to have fun and act as one of the kids along with the main characters. She’s good at alternating between being a motherly figure and a friend and helps quite a lot of the characters in the show. She really came in clutch with helping Tomoya when he was down in the dumps during the show. He really had a rough stretch and during that period she kept going after him until she was able to get him into the clear. It’s not something most characters could have done.

Akio also helps out a lot too of course both verbally and economically. He wants Tomoya to know that he’s here for him and the message is definitely received. I’d say a good part of why Nagisa is able to remain so hopeful throughout everything going on is because she had such supportive parents. It just wouldn’t have been possible without them.

The show definitely goes farther in the timeline than you’d expect but it’s why around half of the show takes place after school. We get to see Tomoya out in the real world working a job and how each character has went on to pursue their dreams. It does mean that the show takes on a much more serious tone for those moments though. There isn’t a whole lot of comedy after the school part is over and things can even get rather dark. It’s why everything was riding on the ending which ultimately is what keeps the show afloat.

You are super invested in everything going on and it’s all emotional but of course that is also why a bad ending would really doom the whole thing. The animation is solid here as expected. I would say it maybe doesn’t feel quite as high budget as the first season which had some really stylish moments for the occasional fight scenes and Chun Li combos. This one has moments like that as well but they tend to be rare and not quite as flashy. Still, it all looks good enough to me. Then for the soundtrack you’ve got all of the classic tunes. The emotional songs definitely fit in with the scenes really well and help to really amp up the atmosphere. I’d definitely give the full soundtrack a thumbs up for sure.

Now I’m going to dive into the more spoilery aspects of the show so skip the next 5 paragraphs if you haven’t seen the show yet. After all with a big emotional show like this you don’t want to know any of the big events before they happen. It would soften the impact of every scene in a big way since you can only experience them once.

All right so here we go. Nagisa is unable to overcome her illness and ends up dying. It was definitely a real tragic moment because you really thought that she would get better this time. She does end up delivering her baby Ushio first though and asks Tomoya to watch out for him. Unfortunately Tomoya gets super depressed to the point where he can’t even interact with the baby and so for several years Nagisa’s parents take care of him instead. I have to say that this made Tomoya look really awful though. You can’t just shut down like that and he basically became his father even though he swore that he never would.

Well, eventually Sanae tricks Tomoya into spending time with his daughter Ushio and the two of them grow close. Tomoya finally reconnects with all of his old friends and becomes a good father…only for Ushio to get the same illness and die. So now Tomoya has lost everything. See, this is where the show would have immediately gone down the tubes for me if it ended like that. There would just be no coming back from this because it would all be way too mean spirited and empty. It would be like the whole adventure was a waste and it was a cruel twist of fate. Tomoya had a theory that Nagisa and Ushio’s lives were dependent on the town so it being changed was what destroyed them.
Well, that wasn’t quite it. It turns out that instead there is an Earth Prime of sorts with the robot and the girl. By sacrificing her life the girl is able to give everyone a fresh start and resets things to the happy timeline where everyone lives and is happily ever after. Every part from Nagisa dying onwards just didn’t happen. It’s a little rough for the robot since he wanted to have fun with her but in a way he is reincarnated to the human world too. It’s all a bit trippy there for sure bit I was a big fan of this one without a doubt. We needed a happy ending and it finally justified that whole plot so I was glad about it.

Otherwise that arc was quickly becoming a train wreck. Tomoya would have lost all my respect in ditching his daughter like that. It would have been such a horrible look for him. Meanwhile his father committed a crime and went to jail which I thought was unexpected but maybe it would at least remind Tomoya not to make the same mistakes. So seeing him go to the dark side anyway was just really off. Even though the timeline reset it still happened so I can’t forget that but at least he got a shot at a second chance.

Meanwhile Ushio was a good character. She had to live without her father for a very long time but she kept a positive attitude about the whole thing and didn’t hold it against Tomoya. She just rode the waves of life and kept it moving. We don’t get to see her too long since the series was nearly ending by the time she showed up but she made an impact in that time.

I didn’t really talk about Nagisa much but I’d say that she’s a good heroine. It’s certainly not her fault that she gets sick a lot and she tries to stay strong throughout all of the sad things happening to her. Having to repeat a year again for the third time just because she was sick probably felt really unfair. Then she does her best to work and support Tomoya during his tough job as well. She never complains and always tries to do the right thing so there’s nothing to really dislike here.

Meanwhile Tomoya definitely made more mistakes this time around. Even in season 1 he wasn’t perfect as I thought some of his pranks could be a bit on the mean side but at least that was more of a humor plot. Here he tends to make more serious mistakes as the show goes on, ones that are a whole lot harder to just wave away. To in the end I have to say that I didn’t like Tomoya, he erased most of the goodwill around his character.

At least I can say something for this show that I rarely say and it’s that the romance here was actually rather solid. At least for the main pairing since Tomoya and Nagisa got a lot of time to interact and build this romance up. It’s certainly way better than the usual rushed type of romances where you feel like it just happened out of nowhere. In context this one took months to develop and at this point they’ve known each other for well over a year. When a show that is part romance manages to execute the romance well you know that it’s going to be in good shape.

In a way the show benefits from not trying to squeeze in a bunch of side romances. That would ultimately just distract from the main one where you want as much development as possible. Since this is the after story we also don’t have to worry about any of the other heroines trying to make a move because at this point they have all accepted that Nagisa and Tomoya are together. So there’s no funny business. It’s just everyone being good supportive friends as the adventures go on. The show is also long enough where you feel like you’ve known the characters a long while and got to see them on their journey. Not all of the characters get a big conclusion but since it’s from Tomoya’s view it makes sense that he wouldn’t see them all complete their dreams. We do get quick glimpses to see where they are at though.
Overall, Clannad: After Story really lives up to its name as being the post game in a way. The characters get to go through their epilogues while you watch. It’s something you almost never see since usually the end of the story is just that…the end. It’s very rare that you get the cast back for a whole other season like this. Maybe a big movie or something but not a full show. In the end the first show still wins just because it is a lot more fun and the school setting just works better but if you saw the original show then you owe it to yourself to watch this one. Even if just to see how the whole robot plot ends since in season 1 it still felt rather pointless by the end. At least now in this season you really see why it was included.

Overall 6/10

Romantic Killer Review

Romantic Killer is a bit of a different romance title but you can probably guess that from the title. The main heroine isn’t going to make things easy and that’s why she refers to herself as the Anti-Heroine. It’s a nice spin on things which you’ll see once I get to the plot. The ending doesn’t drop the ball on this either so it stays true to the plot and I would say this is a pretty good adventure.

So the show starts by introducing us to Anzu who is really having a great life so far. She has a nice pet cat, her collection of video games, and a whole lot of chocolate! Yeah life is pretty much perfect but one day a fairy named Riri infiltrates Anzu’s home and announces that Anzu’s top 3 possessions in life will be taken away from her. Anzu can no longer eat chocolate, her cat has been taken away, and her video games are also gone. The only way to get these back is to fall in love with a guy. Yes, Anzu is being blackmailed into falling in love by this fairy who basically says that she is doing it for Anzu’s own good. Anzu refuses and says she will not get a boyfriend no matter what happen and Riri puts this to the test by using her magic to summon a bunch of guys in the most contrived situations in order to break Anzu. Can she stay strong?

I think part of the big thing that separates this from the other shows is how Anzu is so completely against getting a boyfriend. In a lot of these shows the heroine technically wants to find a guy but it’s either tough to confess her feelings or things just weren’t working well. Here, Anzu is against this but you are supporting her because of the situation.

If a fairy shows up to ruin your life and said you would only get it back by getting a boyfriend, wouldn’t you want to rebel? You want to control your life and how things go but letting yourself get manipulated is not a good idea. You’re completely rooting for Anzu because of this without a doubt. You could even say that there is a tragic angle to this as it means that Anzu really can’t give any of the guys a fair shake as a result. I can’t say I felt bad for them though…this is just how it goes sometimes.

The show’s almost like a competition between Riri and Anzu or you could also think of it like a video game. Every time Anzu stops one guy she is met with an even tougher challenge in the next level. Since Riri has magic it’s also not like there is any chance of this stopping anytime soon. The game is set up against Anzu for sure because there is no end date to this. In theory Anzu could be doomed to not have her possessions forever which is pretty rough to think about. So time is on Riri’s side as Anzu’s resolve could theoretically start to shake the more the days/months/years go on.

It goes without saying that I don’t like Riri for this reason. She is just trying to force Anzu into love which is absolutely the wrong approach. I know Riri is merely an employee working for some really tough bosses who will do whatever they want but Riri still has a choice not to do this. The only possible way I could defend Riri is if she gave Anzu some kind of a chance and a reward to even things out. For example, declaring that Anzu has lost her 3 possessions for a full year and if she makes it through that period without a boyfriend then she will get something extra. I dunno, a million dollars or something. That would really raise the stakes.

I’d say Riri is also annoying because you can’t count on her when the going gets tough. Things get serious near the end of the series as we get a real villain and some life or death stakes and suddenly Riri’s magic isn’t so helpful. Either the wand is dirty or she’s too slow to help but it’s just annoying. Seriously what’s the point of magic if you can only show up in time to annoy everyone?

Riri also sometimes acts against her best interests by getting Anzu into tricky situations that make the other guys a bit wary. I suppose the long con here is getting the other guys jealous enough to make a move but eh…..doesn’t seem worth it. There’s really no point in Riri shapeshifting into a guy except to make things tough on Anzu and cause misunderstandings. At least Riri does one nice thing by the end but that’s about it.

Now for Anzu, well I was quite pleased with her character from the start. You absolutely empathize with her because her top 3 hobbies are very relatable. Who doesn’t like to just enjoy time with their pet, video games, and eating some chocolate on the side? Those are the top 3 hobbies out there and so when they are taken away you can understand her anguish. The fact that she immediately takes such a hard stance against having a boyfriend was brilliant.

Throughout the show she conducts herself well. One thing I appreciated is that she isn’t rude about it. Anzu is quite straight forward about not wanting to get romantically entangled with anyone but is still willing to be their friend and just a nice person in general. It would have been so easy to make the main heroine a jerk but the show doesn’t do that.

Anzu is also potentially putting herself at a disadvantage by letting herself be close to these guys but she just wants to do the right thing and that’s great. Doing the right thing is its own reward after all. Anzu can also fight a little bit as needed even if she doesn’t get to go hand to hand against the main villain. That would have been nice but she stood in there and didn’t give up.

She is also able to talk back to any bullies and defends her friends. We get a quick flashback later on in the series with her best friend Saki and see how Anzu just squashed all of the bad rumors. Anzu doesn’t let any injustice happen on her watch and this continues into the present when she tells off the girls who were going after Tsukasa.

A lot of times when a girl asks if the heroine can let her meet up with the main guy, the heroine relents. Usually it’s a mix of “Well, he’s not my boyfriend so I don’t care.” or “Sure, I don’t see any harm in that.”. This was better as she just said she wouldn’t be a party to any of this and wouldn’t set up anything since Tsukasa obviously didn’t want to hang out with these characters. Anzu speaks her mind which is a big upgrade from many characters.

Her friend Saki doesn’t get a whole lot to do here since most of the show is about Anzu meeting up with the various guys but she did good in her limited screen time. She had a really rough backstory that also shows why she is so close to Anzu now. She really rebounded from how things used to be to still be popular and nice in the present instead of jaded about everyone.

Now lets talk about the guys. As they’re all effectively boss battles, I’ll describe them like video game fighters. I should note that Riri does make sure to mention that she isn’t mind controlling anyone. That would have been a very dubious moment after all so while she dos create circumstances to play matchmaker, the characters all do actually like Anzu of their own accord. This was a good move by the way as all of the romances would have really been doomed otherwise.

Of course I can’t say that I was really on board with any of the romances here either way. I stand with Anzu in staying strong against these guys since the fairy is trying to play matchmaker with blackmail the whole time. So without that then maybe they’d have a chance but nah that’s game over until the deal is over.

So first up we have Tsukasa. He’s the cool guy in school who is mega popular but really cold to any girls that are around. He’s got a tragic backstory and his best asset is the fact that he is always around. Put it this way, Riri flooded his house so now Tsukasa has to live with Anzu for a while. That means since they are together a whole lot there isn’t a way to really avoid him.

It would be difficult not to become friends after that and so keeping the line drawn is the tough part. For Tsukasa it’s easy to see why he falls for Anzu because up until now he’s always been around a lot of very judgmental people. Anzu is the only one who treats him as just an ordinary guy and is super casual around him instead of putting on a persona.

Then you have to also factor in Tsukasa’s childhood tragedy involving a stalker named Yukana. basically Tsukasa was traumatized by her because of how unhinged she was. She would buy him clothes and follow him around and ultimately even drugged him. He was very fortunate that things didn’t escalate past that. So he’s unable to really feel free outside as he doesn’t want her to find him again.

He easily has the most amount of screen time and development so even though there are a few guys here and it’s more of an ensemble show, it’s fair to say that he is the main guy here. The climax even revolves around him so at the end of the day you figure that while he is the first boss battle of the show, he also works as the final boss. Anzu has to be careful around him.

Then we’ve got Junta and his biggest attribute to watch out for is that he’s the Childhood friend. He moved away for a while but he’s back now and is ready to try and make a move. He’s loved Anzu for many years and never got over her but of course she never really noticed this. I mean that’s on Junta for not saying anything though. When you’ve got a crush you have to either silently get over it or let the other party know but staying silent is the only way to really lose.

Junta is great at sports and is a super nice guy. As the nicest member of the guys that is another aspect of his to watch out for. He gives everyone a fair shake but can be stern when needed. He lacks self confidence which may make it easy to give him sympathy points though so that’s something else to watch out for. On one hand, the fact that he’s liked her for years helps in the romance angle because it’s not super sudden like Tsukasa. It’s more of a believable romance even if Anzu never noticed him before.

Of course at the same time ending the plot as an unrequited love while tragic always makes things a bit more compelling as you get to see him slowly accept that just being a normal friend really isn’t that bad. If he was a bit bolder then I would like him more but I rarely like the characters who really aren’t confident like this. He tends to throw in the towel early until he’s given a motivational speech.

Then you have the third main guy here named Hijiri. Well he’s rich which is always a very tempting attribute in any character. If Anzu ends up with him then she will be set for life and will never have to worry about anything ever again. You should never marry for riches of course…but it is probably the single most tempting thing aside from pure love.

Hijiri is used to everyone throwing themselves at him so of course the fact that Anzu isn’t interested at all just makes him want her even more. He has a tough time acting normal though and tends to throw around insults by mistake and can be generally annoying. Showing him how to live life as a normal person is something Anzu might feel instinctively so she has to worry about that. Of course she also has to be careful that she doesn’t just feel bad for him since he’ll be crushed. Pity dates are never a good idea.

Those are all of the main guys. There are a few supporting characters like Tsukasa’s friend Makoto who is around but it’s not like he’s ever involved in the romance. There is one extra guy for romance but his role is really small. His name is Ryuya and he’s really just annoying. He’s another childhood friend who liked Anzu but unlike Junta who was too shy to make a move and stayed quiet, he ended up teasing her a lot because of his crush.

You don’t see that happening as much nowadays but I do remember it being a really big thing for a while where they say you would tease and bully the person you like accidentally because you didn’t know how to interact with them normally. I gotta admit I always thought this was a super lame excuse. Seriously, your way of dealing with your feelings is to be mean to the person you like?

That’s just awful so nah I wasn’t going to root for him. Ryuya is super petty and nearly messes up the reunion for everyone by getting into his feels like this. It’s just not a good look for him at all. Maybe a tiny part of you feels bad for him…but it’s a super tiny part that is almost nonexistent. Anzu didn’t take any of it seriously at least and barely even remembers him so he should have just taken it in stride and kept it moving. They could totally be friends in the present without all the awkwardness but he really makes a spectacle of himself for a while there.

Finally we have some of the supporting characters from Tsukasa’s plot like his sister Arisa. She’s probably the only super nice member of the family. His father is a bit crazy as he blames Tsukasa for everything and unfortunately his mother tends to be a bit more passive about the whole thing. This really forced Tsukasa to have to move out and live on his own.

In part this would help him avoid the stalker but it’s also because he wasn’t getting any real support here. His father seemed to have a very old fashioned idea that if there were issues with a girl then it means that the guy led her on. He never even tries to hear Tsukasa’s side of the story and blames him entirely. This even continues on to the present. I wasn’t expecting him to stay as a villain in the present but it gave Anzu another really good moment.

Considering how much he went through, Tsukasa definitely turned out well. I also can’t say that he really made any big mistakes with how he handled the stalker situation. It’s really hard to know just how to handle something like that but he tried ignoring her, talking to her directly, but nothing would work. With someone like that who is clever enough not to break laws too openly escape can feel like the only real option. Especially since even once the courts get involved it doesn’t deter her.

Yukana is the stalker and the final boss of the series. It was nice to have some action at the end here for sure and when she took out the knife you knew things were going to get intense. It is crazy that with such a big cast, one person can make so many waves but the whole situation is handled pretty realistically. The show is mainly comedic but the whole stalker situation is handled super seriously. Riri at least helped a bit in summoning everyone at one point to deal with some bullies (Who had the least believable redemption arc in the franchise. They looked awful and were actually going to beat up Anzu so they shouldn’t have been forgiven so easily. I thought they should have been arrested personally) but Riri’s reasoning for not taking down Yukana directly was really weak.

Riri does need Anzu alive and well to get the mission completed so Yukana is an active threat. Ergo it should be reasonable to take her down but Riri is not convinced and can’t make a move without that confirmation. It’s definitely annoying and feels a bit contrived since otherwise there would not really be a big climax like this. With magic ending it all would be easy.

The humor in the series works well. I would say that it is rarely laugh out loud levels of funny but you can appreciate the humor. I liked how fake they made the first dating sim look which helped to illustrate just what Anzu thought of the whole thing. A whole show with those graphics could actually be rather fun. You can also appreciate this from the guy’s point of view here as well since they all like her and she just has no interest in returning those feelings.

Think of it like everyone falling for the popular girl in school. Usually in the movies there is the main guy who ends up breaking past the pack and they get together so this show is more like if there was no guy. Everyone here are the bit players in the average movie who are doing their best to get her to notice them and it’s all to no avail. None of their feelings are being returned and that’s just how it goes sometimes.

Meanwhile the animation for the show is good too. I get the feeling that it wouldn’t work too well with a lot of movement because it feels a bit rigid but at the same time the colors really stand out. Everyone has eyes that are really sharp and the colors are on point. For a show like this where there won’t be big action scenes I think it makes sense to focus on the artwork than on pure animation. Because of that the visuals will really age well even several years from now. It’s why all of the screenshots look so sharp here as well. The soundtrack is more on the forgettable side though. I really couldn’t recall a single tune by the time the show was over but I want to say that it did work well while watching the show.

There is an interesting gimmick where any bugs are turned into different cakes in the show. It’s super random but I’d say that it works because of that. It’s almost like the show is throwing in some photoshop and you can’t go wrong with that. I guess Anzu needed one weakness as well since otherwise she was shredding all obstacles. So since she is scared of bugs that throws the guys a little lifeline to use.

Overall, Romantic Killer is a pretty fun show and I definitely had a good amount of fun with it. It succeeds by focusing more on the challenge and comedic aspects than the actual romance. The serious stuff was handled well too but to me the comedic moments are when the show is at its best. I’d be down with a season 2 to see how this continues on and if they stick to those fundamentals then I think it would be in good shape. In theory Anzu should still be trying to stay strong and it would focus more on the guys doing their best to win her over. It would make for a fairly unique spin on the whole romance genre and if it balances in the humor like this one did then I think it would be a success. Of course the ending is always really important for a show like this as well so they do need to make sure to stick the landing. I believe the show can pull this off though. The ending here could have easily been dodgy but it wasn’t so that worked out.

Overall 7/10

Behind the Scenes!! Review

As a romantic comedy manga each series faces a lot of tough calls in terms of who will get paired with whom. Often times the romantic rival is cooler than the main heroine or main hero depending on who the lead is but you sort of can’t deviate from the main path. Then for the one who loses out you have to have a rebound ready and that’s usually where things get tricky. Well you don’t “have to” and in face you shouldn’t have a rebound ready but most series do and this one goes for one of the worst possible final ships possible. It is right there on the level of God of High School and it’s hard to see which one is worse. They’re neck and neck…I guess the other one is probably a little worse but it’s tough either way. It does hurt this title’s momentum.

The series revolves around a character named Ranmaru. He’s rather timid and doesn’t really like to be around people. Ranmaru is very detail oriented though and that helps him a lot when it comes to noticing things that most people would usually miss. He ends up joining the special effects art club led by Ryuji though. Ryuji is a fairly bold character who is the outgoing type and while you’d think that he may not get along with Ranmaru as they’re so different, it really works out. This is sort of a safe space for Ranmaru to really get used to being with people and becoming more confident in himself.

Timid main characters like this usually aren’t my thing so I wouldn’t say that Ranmaru ever ends up being one of my favorite characters. His romance is mostly tragic as he likes Ruka but is too shy to actually speak up about it. So for the most part he just ends up being good friends with her and can only watch as she gets farther and farther away. It’s an emotional plot for sure but one where you feel like if he just spoke up a bit then it wouldn’t be such a big deal. Instead he’s digging a bigger and bigger hole for himself that will be difficult to get out of.

It’s only in the final volume or two really where he starts to truly get out of his shell so this is a series where the side characters really have to take control but I wouldn’t say that they really do. This isn’t the strongest cast all around. The main standout character here would probably be Ryuji. He’s the tough character a series like this needs to push everyone along. He does really well in that role to be sure. Ryuji also has his own tough backstory to get through and he’s really just putting up a tough front.

It adds some good depth to his character as he isn’t actually past everything and just does his best to move forward. He isn’t someone who is trapped by the past and makes no excuses for himself. Still, he just keeps on moving forward no matter what happens. By far he was the best character here. The main heroine Ruka is also good. She’s great at arts and crafts. Ruka likes Ryuji but is unsure of how to let him know about this when they have such a good friendship and then she has a lot of pressure from her family which makes it difficult for her to hang out with the crew a lot. That’s probably the toughest situation to get past since the others mostly just have to fight their inner selves to move on but she has actual people to deal with.

I feel like the series doesn’t spend as much time on this as you would expect but it still makes for an intense storyline. Ruka is also the main focus of a lot of the series in other ways with how she is connected to Ranmaru and Ryuji so you will have no shortage of screen time for her. If anything Maasa is the one who loses out here as she really wants a boyfriend but is mostly reduced to that one character trait. Well, I suppose she really loves slasher films which tends to scare the guys off.

As you go through the series you absently think she will probably be paired with one of the other guys but that’s about it. You never figure that she will be an integral focus in the series and well that is exactly what happened. Maasa seems like a fun character but doesn’t get much to do. Then you have Izumi who is really talented and tends to stick out for his good looks but he doesn’t really know about his past. This is probably the most serious plot in some ways. It ends up being connected to Ranmaru’s cousin Soh as she wants to be there to help him recover and lead into a romance subplot.

I give the series a lot of credit for how this plot goes. Izumi is flattered of course but he still treats Soh as more of a kid and doesn’t take the whole thing too seriously. He basically just tries to help her get past her infatuation and keep it moving. She is a bit younger than him so it would be hard for that to work out but additionally he just doesn’t see her in that way. Additionally the memory issues have also affected his ability to actually have real emotions so that was another thing to consider. He got some good points for that and also for generally being a nice guy even when he is being absolutely crushed by not even knowing who he truly is. That’s something that’s hard to simply deal with.

Finally you have Tomu but he never really got to do much. He’s always around as one of the main members and we know that he used to be a bit of a delinquent before falling in with the right crowd but that’s about it. He doesn’t get any big plots or shocking reveals so it feels like he’s just along for the ride. Maybe it’s good to have a character like that but I feel like you could cut him out and nothing would change. If that can ever be said about a character then usually it means that he should have been scrapped.

Finally you have Soh who deals with a lot of confidence issues like Ranmaru. She has carefully crafted a public image of being the really cool girl though in a way to avoid attracting attention to herself. That may sound contradictory but it actually does work really well. Put it this way, if you seem popular and are always surrounded by a few friends, strangers won’t approach you and you can just head home without worry. If you stick out for being anti social or quiet then people are probably going to walk up to you. Either to bully you if they’re mean or to try and talk to you if you seem lonely.

I thought Soh’s strategy was really good and she was actually being proactive in handling her weakness which is something that boosted her past Ranmaru. I just didn’t see Ranmaru putting in the same level of effort. Not saying he had to match her but this is why she was ahead for me. It also makes for a fun dynamic between them at home where they can be more open with each other but you still see how they are awkward at talking in general. At least having someone you can talk to is always a huge relief and that helps both of them keep going.

I would say where the series succeeds is that the angle of being a special effects group is really unique. It’s cool to see them help with the designs for different movies and shows and you get a lot of fun facts for setting up different practical effects. You may not be able to put most of them to use because you’d need specialized equipment to start with but it is shown quite plainly so you can try this at home if you do get the materials. It’s a fresh take as you would usually be focusing on the movie stars.

Additionally the series may be laidback but it makes for an easy read. Even if the characters may not stand out, you’ll be entertained all the way through which is important. I had a good time with the title. It feels a bit short by the time it ends and I didn’t think every plot got to be wrapped up (Like the ex delinquent not really doing anything) but as a result it also doesn’t drag out.

Now for the series issues, the ending really hurts it quite a bit. There will be spoilers for this paragraph and the next one so don’t read on if you haven’t read the series yet. As this is a romance series the final pairing is quite important after all so you don’t want to know about this before the right time is here right? Okay so here goes. Ranmaru ends up with Soh. Now to go into more detail on this, Ranmaru moved in with his cousin Soh and her folks as the series begins but he wasn’t always around there. Japan also treats that dynamic a little differently but either way it is the worst possible ship you could go with. I don’t care if they’re 5 times removed, it’s still a bad look. Even in series where they aren’t related but lived together for a while as a pseudo family like in Attack on Titan I tend to vent on that because it’s not a good relationship.

If you’re family or treated as family then that’s a no go. Do not pass start, don’t collect your reward. It’s just a non starter right from the jump and it felt like the series needed some rebound for Ranmaru since he was doomed with the main heroine due to how timid he was the whole time. This wasn’t the answer though and it was such a bizarre ending. A bad ending is one that you remember forever and so unfortunately this is now the legacy of the series. I don’t see how it can really come back from this and of course it hurt with the score for me as well. Definitely one of the weaker endings I’ve read in a bit. It’s no Attack on Titan of course but definitely a weak ending either way.

The art here is okay but not great. I remember having a hard time keeping character straight at some points and anytime I can mix up any characters (Unless there’s a narrative reason for that) I always take it out on the art. It can also get a little cluttered during some of the set pieces and design moments. It’s not bad but the art is below the average of what you tend to see from the Shojo titles for me. Maybe if the series went on longer that would have helped the artist clear things up but as it stands I wasn’t impressed.

We get a lot of good inspirational quotes and moments in the series as Ryuji tries to help Ranmaru stand strong. Part of Ranmaru’s character arc is about getting braver on his own as opposed to waiting for someone else to help him. I thought this was sound, you won’t always have someone out there to back you up. That being said, you absolutely can and should seek out advice and use any available resources to get past your fears but the final decision will be on you. Ryuji may be a tough character but he never held back on the advice and his tough love approach worked really well with Ranmaru. He would also let the kid have a break when he needed it and gave him space during the tough times.

In a way what this series lacked was more humor. I mean there are jokes and such as this is a fairly light hearted series but for the most part I would rarely find it funny. I liked the faces that Soh and Ranmaru would make when they were being timid as the author gave them really great facial expressions but that was it. Those visual humor moments were really the extent of what the series would throw at you. You had the really strict member of the movie club who had his dynamic with Ryuji and such but those scenes wouldn’t typically land as being quite as funny. As a result this series goes through the motions and is reasonable about it but I find that being funny can help a series and its replay value immensely. Every time you laugh or crack a smile is when the series has just risen up even if just a little more for you. It’s no surprise that all of the best romance titles are the ones that are part comedy like Nisekoi and Kaguya Sama. It just makes sense because when you laugh with the characters it is another way of truly connecting with them and so you naturally get more invested in the journey.

Overall, Behind the Scenes!! lives up to its name as sticking behind the scenes with the crew for the most part. This worked really well and it is part of what made the series solid in that area. It’s really just the romance that holds the series back but since that’s a major part of the series it is not something that’s easy to ignore. A sub par ending just doesn’t help matters at all and this has no real replay value. Without a lot of humor to stick up for the series or some grand climax, it will be lost in the wave of Shojo titles and can be safely skipped. I’d be interested to see another series try to tackle this angle. It’s probably not one that most should try for as it is more limited in how many fun situations you can craft around it but at the same time for a non action title, what really matters are the characters and interactions. You can make any backdrop work with good enough writing.

Overall 5/10

Metropolitan Review

Metropolitan is one of those films where characters mainly talk about nothing much and then the film ends. I’ve seen a few titles like that but in general they tend to be quite awful. Hannah and her Sisters is a classic example of a film like this that I’ve seen. So I can’t say that I had high hopes for this title but it’s actually better than I expected. I’d say in part because the characters are a little more interesting and some of the dialogue is actually decent. The climax is ironically one of the weakest parts of the film but on the whole I was entertained.

So the movie is about a group of teenagers who all hang out at an apartment and try to feel really fancy. They talk about very complex subjects with each other like politics and general warfare of social customs. Anything that sounds very intelligent like that is something they’ll talk about even if they don’t know what they are doing. It’s just what they’ve always done. One day Tom is invited into the clique by chance. This sort of thing isn’t really his idea of a fun time and he’s not quite as wealthy as they are but ultimately he can’t find it within himself to leave. In a way he’s actually having a whole lot of fun right now. Still this means he has entered the world of romantic drama and scandals so his life may be a bit more complicated now.

There is a general plot in that he likes a girl named Serena who is related to the group even though she has long since moved on. Then you have Audrey who likes Tom and Charlie likes Audrey. It’s a full circle thing here and so you can see how it gets complicated. But while that’s the general plot, this isn’t a film that’s super connected to the story or anything like that. For the most part it’s still about the general day to day operations of what’s going on here and the romance is on the back foot.

The climax involves one of the villains who was mentioned during the film and now Tom has to go and save the heroine (I won’t say who this is to keep up the suspense) but it’s really just a way to quickly have some action. It almost feels out of place and some characters really made a bunch of iffy moves in order to get into that scenario. I should mention that while the characters are interesting, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that any of them are likable. They all succumb easily to peer pressure and just don’t seem like good influences to have around.

Starting off with Tom, in general he has some reasonable views. I’m not much of a party person myself so going to these events where you just sit and talk would have me bored to tears. I can do festive parties where you’re running around and eating. Those are a lot of fun while you’re eating at least but parties with no food? Nah not my cup of tea. Now the problem though is that Tom actually does enjoy them and he’s just jealous. Sure he denies this a whole lot but that’s what it comes down to and Nick calls him out on this at one point. Tom is so busy looking down on himself and throwing a pity party that he doesn’t realize nobody really cares.

It’s one of those things that you have to remind yourself of which is that you aren’t the main character of everyone’s story. If you make a mistake or fall down you may think everyone is watching you but really they’re still just continuing along with their lives. Once Tom gets this into perspective he starts to enjoy himself more. He’s the kind of guy who has a lot of strong views on books that he’s never read and still keeps on going after Serena even when it’s clear that she’s not interested in him and just generally enjoys being in a lot of relationships. I don’t think that means he has to rebound with Audrey of course, if he’s not interested in her then he’s not but my issue is with him still going after Serena the whole time.

Then you have Nick who is probably the best of the main characters. Yes he’s a bit more arrogant and dare I say even a bit rude but the guy knows what he likes and doesn’t put up as much of a front as the others. He just has a good time all the way through and lives his life. I would argue that while most of the characters are worried about their image or fitting in, he just actually is that way. The only thing he denies is how he’s jealous of the main antagonist when he is to an extent but the guy also does seem like he is a creep so I can see why Nick wants to take him down.

Audrey is a little too shy which hurts her character for me. Part of the issue here is that she likes Tom but is of course too shy to tell him herself. So she keeps this in but then also gets super upset when he doesn’t notice her or makes a pass on another girl (Serena). I don’t think she really had much reason to be super upset at him. She could be upset at herself for not making a move but it’s not like she and Tom were actually together so it’s too early to be jealous. Not saying it’s easy to have 100% control of your emotions or anything like that but it’s still not a great look. She can be upset at him for just ditching her though, that was really uncalled for. Then she makes a very questionable decision that could have easily ended badly for her later on.

She seems like a decent person but one without a strong will so it’s easy to influence her. Then there is Serena but there isn’t a whole lot to say about her. She’s very outgoing and can be a bit manipulative with how many pen pals she wrote too who all thought that they were together with her. I guess you could just say that they were gullible which is absolutely valid but at the same time she’s just not a very nice person. It’s a shame that Tom couldn’t just move on himself.

Finally there is Charlie who is a fun character. He likes to be a doomer about everything and is always talking about how their entire generation is destined to fall to ruins. He refuses to accept any examples or evidence to the contrary. The guy constantly goes on speeches about everything and it’s why he’s fun. I liked the dialogue in the movie thanks in no small part to his contributions. Charlie always had something to say about everything and they were actual thoughts so I could appreciate that. He had a way of tying things together that worked and even if you didn’t agree with anything that he said, I didn’t mind listening to the speeches.

That’s where this film had an advantage over most which is that the dialogue was actually interesting as it happened. Most of it is still fluff and everyone outbluffing themselves with crazy theories but they didn’t drag on or feel pointless at the time. I could do without the romance and of course the characters are annoying but they’re annoying in a way that’s fun to watch as opposed to shaking your head the whole time.

Overall, This would be a hard film to recommend to anyone because it’s hard to make a sales pitch for it. I’m not really sure how I’d even market this film to people. That said, I did think it was surprisingly a good movie and one that I could see again. It embraces the fact that this film isn’t really about much at all. If you could do a movie like this without the drama, maybe a group of adults who get together then it would probably be very good. Either way, it’s a bit of a strange film in the sense that there isn’t much of a focus but it works. I wouldn’t recommend other filmmakers to try and replicate this title though because it seems hard to pull off.

Overall 6/10

In the Good Old Summertime Review

This film will probably seem really familiar if you saw the original or the other remake later on down the line. It’s not really doing anything different except to add in some extra songs. The story has a fun angle with the main characters being pen pals but in real life they don’t get along at all. It’s almost like a Superman/Clark Kent dynamic with Lois but a little different. I like the idea of it and if this were a TV show you could absolutely milk the premise for quite a few seasons. As it stands you’ll have a good time with this one although I would not say that it is the definitive version of the story.

The film opens up with Andrew having a rather tough first meeting with Veronica as he drops her stuff and then keeps making matters worse the more he tries to get away. They meet up again later on when Veronica is trying to get a job at the store he works at. Andrew doesn’t think this is a very good idea but he is overruled by the boss Otto. Veronica never quite forgets this though and the two are off to a rocky dynamic for the rest of the film. Still, both of them don’t care too much since they are pen pals with someone of true romantic integrity. Little do they know that they are each other’s pen pal. Who will find out first?

So you’ve got a fun plot idea here with the secret romance. You also see how Andrew and Veronica don’t get along due to that first encounter which was rough. I do think that they could have been a little kinder the whole time though. Particularly Veronica as it seemed at least that she was always the one picking fights and starting trouble. She insulted his intelligence on more than one occasion and apparently would make fun of him through imitations to the other co-workers. While you can say that maybe he did things to jump-start this in each instance, all we see if her attacking him and rarely the flip side.

So it almost goes far enough in the other direction where you wonder why he still likes her. It doesn’t seem like he could possibly still like her after all of this right? Fighting is a part of the rom-com formula of course but since it’s more one sided it always just feels off the whole time. I think Veronica is still a good character and gets a lot of fun moments though.

Meanwhile Andrew may have made a mess of things in the opening scene but otherwise he seems to be pretty good at the job and you can see why he was promoted. Ultimately he probably should have stood up for himself a bit more when being asked to do two different things by Otto and Nellie though. Either you help one or you help the other but don’t try to say that you’ll help both. That’s just not going to work, it can’t work because they want completely different things and it just ends up with him being in the middle.

There’s a lot of fun dialogue during the banter between Andrew and Veronica. The supporting characters tend to vanish a bit in this version though so they really aren’t very memorable. Otto has to hold it all together on his own as far as the side characters go. He’s a fun boss who is super selfish and will gladly ruin everyone else’s day if he thinks that he is going to have a bad one. So much for teamwork, it’s his way or the highway. He certainly won’t admit to making any mistakes either, he figures that if he did something then he definitely did it right. This leads to a whole plot of his buying a lot of harps and not being able to sell them because they just weren’t popular.

Otto never really learns a lesson here either so he actually ends up in the same place that he started. This movie is part musical so you’ve also got some songs now and again but honestly not as much as you would expect. The songs weren’t bad, I wouldn’t say they were really my style but they don’t take away from the film as much as a bunch of songs could have. It’s balanced well enough where this doesn’t become a big worry which is good.

The humor isn’t quite laugh out loud funny but you won’t be bored which is really the important thing. This is a very low key film that is entertaining all the way through. I’d say it survives on solid fundamentals like good pacing and just never stopping. Something is always happening even if you feel like they could have taken the premise a bit further. Have one of the characters figure out the pen pal’s identity sooner so you could spend a good part of the film with some fun manipulating going on in the background. Alternately, have more scenes about each of the main characters talking about the pen pal and that could work too.

The movie does a good job of really showing why it’s impractical to fall in love with someone that you’ve never met though. At the end of the day it’s just impossible because you don’t truly know the person. Looks may not be everything but it’s certainly not nothing either. It’s also real easy to be writing just about anything but to get to know someone you have to hang out with them IRL, at least if you’re planning to be more than platonic friends. It may be played for laughs with how different each character is compared to their written self but it also makes sense because people do talk and write very differently. I like to think this shows in my blogging style as well and if I were to ever start video streaming or something then it would be a fun comparison. Don’t see that happening anytime soon though so you’ll just have my written reviews!

Overall, In the Good Ole Summertime is a bit of an odd title for the film. I mean it’s not like it’s completely unrelated but you would really not have as much of a clue as to what the film is about. Film titles don’t have to match the plots but ideally there should be a bit of a stronger connection. I’d assume this was more of a laidback slice of life. Either way I do recommend the film though. It’s not particularly ambitious but it’s a good movie and that’s all it needed to be.

Overall 7/10

That Touch of Mink Review

It’s time for a classic romantic comedy film. It’s been a little while since I’ve seen one of the Cary Grant/Doris Day combination films and this is a solid one as you’d expect. It’s maybe a tad weaker than the average film because the film tries to be a little more grounded this time. It’s not quite as crazy as you might expect although you can still expect a lot of shenanigans to be occurring. It may not be near the top but at the same time it is quite timeless so you can really watch this at any time and have fun.

The movie starts with Cathy heading to a job interview. It’s been a trying time for her as she has to deal with an annoying clerk to cash in her unemployment checks named Beasley so she really needs things to work out. Unfortunately she ends up getting splashed with a bunch of mud by the rich Roger who is so rich that he doesn’t even stop to help out. Instead he sends his lackey Roger to do the damage control. Roger has watched as time and time again Philip got his way due to a mix of being handsome and rich. Now that he has someone as upset as Cathy at his side, he figures this is the perfect time to watch someone really let Philip have it. So Roger escorts her up but unfortunately it doesn’t end up working out that well.

See, she has a change of heart as everyone else always does and as a result she accepts his offer to go out with her. Now Roger’s plan is foiled and he may have just helped Philip get another win accidentally. With his mind slowly breaking he starts to seek some help from a psychiatrist which kicks off a whole lot of misunderstandings.

Back to Cathy she is a bit unsure of how to proceed. On one hand she does like Philip but she isn’t sure exactly how serious he is. Does he actually want to marry her or is he just trying to pull out some moves so that she will go all the way with him. For Philip he also starts to see Cathy a bit differently than most of the ladies that he has gone out so he starts to have doubts on if he should break the whole thing off. Both of them are just never on the same page which always leads to a lot of drama and issues. Can they make this work?

So at its core this is a classic romance film and you can probably see how that’s going to play out. In the short term what sets this one apart is that both of them want to be together but have doubts on the other one’s intentions so they play it safe. This results in both characters going in a circle a whole lot which drags things out but there are fun scenes with this as well. I appreciated Cathy having a good friend in Connie who was defending her the whole time. Connie has a bit more of a cynical mindset when it comes to these guys but you really can’t blame her. If a rich guy showed up and then 5 minutes later you found out he was going out with your best friend you’d also feel like this is suspiciously fast. It just doesn’t really add up so you would start to think that it’s some kind of a desperate play.

Unfortunately Cathy usually doesn’t listen to Connie’s advice much but at least she tries. Roger is the equivalent for Philip but the guy isn’t quite as selfless as Connie. Honestly for most of the film he’s really just trying to keep Philip and Cathy from being together just to stick it to Philip. He sort of resents being the sidekick all the time and wants to do something about it but isn’t brave enough to do this directly. It’s definitely what holds him back as a character. He’s fun and fulfils the punching bag role rather well but as a character he’s not the kind of friend you would want to have.

Then we have Beasley who is really here just as a tool to try and make Philip jealous. You know that he never stands a chance here and the guy comes off as so desperate and annoying that he’s basically the villain. He really tries to take advantage of his position to get together with Cathy and that tells you all that you need to know about the guy. He’s far from being a class act that’s for sure. I’d have preferred that we got a real rival but that may have muddied the water here a bit. At least this way there’s no rebound but the climax involves tricking him into thinking he has a chance which is a trope I tend to dislike. Cathy should try to get to Philip without having to use anybody.
As for Philip, he is the kind of guy who never seems all that serious about a relationship. He’s certainly been through a whole lot of them over the years after all so why should this one be any different? Of course you’re meant to see that it will be different this time but I would be completely skeptical all the while. It just doesn’t really add up and it’s hard to change so quickly. Of course it’s possible but it’s not something you would typically bet on. He seems like a decent guy otherwise, Philip is just a chronic flirt. He does have the decency to try and break things off with Cathy when he sees that she’s serious about the whole thing at least.

By the end I can’t say I’m fully on board with the romance but at least there weren’t any real rebounds here compared to most films like this. A lot of times the middle act will have the characters going with a rebound to see if they can get over the other but that doesn’t happen here aside from Cathy pretending at one point. The scenes of each character getting super stressed out and breaking into hives was a bit odd but perhaps a creative way of showing how nervous they were. Philip getting sick at the end was a bit cheesy since he doesn’t seem like the type to get nervous at the end with all of his experience. That seemed to just be to even things up even if it didn’t make a lot of sense.

Overall, That Touch of Mink is a fun comedy film. It’s nothing great or world shattering but it gets the job done with that retro style of humor that works well. Things tend to happen quickly and the writing is on point. It’s a pleasant film that doesn’t drag on and even if some of the jokes may not land, most should. It’s a well balanced film and there aren’t any moments that will really leave you shaking your head. At the end of the day you’ll certainly be entertained all the way through and that is the goal of the film. So I’d recommend checking it out and you won’t be disappointed.

Overall 6/10

Maggie’s Christmas Miracle Review

It’s time for another classic Hallmark movie and this one deals with a lot of tragedy and heartbreak throughout. We’ve got a good reason as to why the main heroine isn’t very into Christmas here and it works out as a fun adventure. The kid is a bit annoying and he doesn’t help the dynamic but at the end of the day you’ve got all the usual Hallmark fun you could ask for.

The movie starts off with Megan’s father running off right at Christmas which really wrecked her image of the holiday. Then fast forward to the future where her husband ran off and now she’s alone with her son Jordan. She’s determined to keep this from happening again and so she runs a bit of a strict home but tries to make sure Jordan is having fun. Unfortunately the broken home has started to affect his grades and so the school recommends a tutor named Casey. Megan has her doubts but calls him in. It’s not a great first impression for her as he’s busy taking care of a shop and has to call her back. Then on his first day looking after Jordan, the kid injures his hand while trying to lift up a tree. Perhaps this won’t work out but what are Megan’s other options?

Megan’s main character flaw here is definitely that she can be a bit overly dramatic. When Jordan injures his hand she really makes a big scene about the whole thing even when everyone including Jordan was saying that it wasn’t so bad. I do think it’s fair to criticize Casey a bit for letting Jordan help unload the truck. Probably not the safest thing for a kid to do but at the same time it’s a fairly busy area so there was never a chance that things would get too crazy. Jordan also messed up on the catch big time and fell over because he lets all the weight fall on him. Not the way you want to handle a situation like that at all.

Jordan badly wants a full family but it’s to the point where he is willing to wreck Christmas for this. He makes a big deal about Casey not being there when he wants to open the presents and while it’s great that he likes Casey, it’s not his place to try and spin a romance out of this. Worst case if Megan gets together with Casey just to keep Jordan happy, none of them would be happy in the long term. It’s why having kids meddle in the romance is always annoying because they are only thinking of themselves and that’s no good.

As for Casey, well he’s not a bad character I suppose. He rushes into the romance way quicker than most of the guys in these films. I’ll give him credit for not hesitating and realizing that he liked Megan right away but what about his professionalism as a teacher? He invites her for dinner almost immediately and you just know he can’t focus on being a normal teacher after all of this. You probably want to keep romance separate when you’re a teacher because it can make things awkward down the road. The romance is definitely a bit rushed as you’d expect.

We do get all of the classic Christmas backdrops though and a fun song here and there. It felt maybe a bit emptier than some of the others though. We don’t get a whole lot of baking scenes here and it felt like Megan didn’t have as many issues to deal with as you’d expect. This was more of a low key adventure all the way through. There wasn’t a whole lot of adversity in the present and the stakes were a lot lower than usual.

It’s not like these films usually have high stakes or anything but usually there’s at least a corporate group that needs to be impressed or an end of the year competition/show that has to be put on. So the whole time there’s the danger of not finishing in time but this didn’t really have any of that. Even if she didn’t get together with Ryan there wasn’t much of a penalty. I guess her son may have flunked the class but that’s about it so the whole film is revolving around the romance a bit more than usual. The movie keeps that small town vibe that always helps with the atmosphere though.

The fact that Casey has to operate a bakery while being a teacher shows how the income is really limited here. A small town atmosphere is almost like a circle where you figure you should be good if nobody moves out but even a small shift can change a lot. I think I’d enjoy being in a small town as part of a vacation to buy things and have a good time but it’s why I wouldn’t want to live there. It just feels like you’d always be watching your back because you don’t have secure prospects in the future. If someone moves out then the whole local economy would be shaken up. The snacks always look really good though.

Overall, Maggie’s Christmas Miracle is a good film. I’d probably be jaded on Christmas too if everything bad always happened on that date. It would just feel like a very bad coincidence that would suck the fun out of it. Even if it wasn’t the day’s fault per say, it would just be rough. So that helps the film as you understand her issues with Christmas more than some of the other heroines. Things all work out though and if you’re already missing Christmas right now then this is a good film to check out to regain that energy. It’s going to be a long while until we’re back in Christmas season after all.

Overall 7/10

A Magical Christmas Village Review

Hallmark Christmas movies are some of the biggest staples of quality and consistency in the industry. You can always count on them to be really solid but this has to be one of the weakest Hallmark films that I’ve seen. It’s still a good film so not taking that away from it but it just could and should have been a lot better. The magical angle here just doesn’t work and Vivian is one of the most annoying characters I’ve seen in this.

So the movie starts off with Summer’s mother Vivian going through hard times after selling off her house almost for free so Summer says Vivian can stay with her. The two don’t usually get along super well but this time she will make it work. Summer is a very methodical person who likes to plan everything out while Vivian is more about living in the moment. Things get more tense when Vivian helps Summer’s daughter Chloe set up a Christmas village that takes up a lot of space in the living room. All the while with tensions rising, a guy named Ryan shows up and Summer may have fallen for him. But she has no time for romance or Christmas….is this really happening to her?

So lets get the elephant out of the way here which is the magical village. “Do you believe in Destiny?” I’ve actually got an editorial about that coming up sometime by 2024 but this film takes the Yes approach to that in how the village is the controller of destiny. See, whatever happens in the village will happen in real life so Chloe uses this village to set up Summer and Ryan. Yes, she doesn’t realize that she is doing this but everything she does there happens in real life so you start doubting the romance big time. If Summer and Ryan are being manipulated then is this really valid?

You can make a case that the village doesn’t manipulate you emotionally and only does so physically but it still gets them into dicey situations the whole time. I think the village could have been a fun thing if it was limited to being used to help Vivian find a new house and things like that but when it started also being used for the romance then that was a touch too far. It just wasn’t charming and became more on the annoying side. Chloe’s okay since she isn’t trying to use this but I wouldn’t say she is the most interesting character. She can be a little too much with how she goads Summer into romance and tries to act like she’s wiser than she is.

Vivian is the annoying one here. So in the film you’re supposed to recognize that both she and Summer had good points and they needed to meet in the middle but this time I was on Team Summer the whole time. Vivian basically sold her house which was worth a fortune for peanuts because she felt bad for the new owners. It’s great that you want to help out but there’s a saying that you should always help within your means. For example if you buy your friend a house but now you’re homeless, you weren’t as altruistic as you think you were because now you have to freeload at a friend’s or with your family.

I wouldn’t have had a problem with Vivian doing this if she could have survived on her own but now her finances are awful and she has to stay with Summer the whole time. It’s a bad look for her and then Summer does her best to help out. She tries to balance Vivian’s finances, look for a new house, etc. Vivian responds by ghosting her and missing out on multiple meetings. Vivian is not helpful in the slightest nor does she have any intention of being useful. It’s almost like she’s rebelling the whole time but the film never paints her as the antagonist. So that part was always a bit frustrating. I didn’t even think Summer mishandled the situation.

Later on Summer vents about always having to help Vivian and well..she’s not wrong. Vivian doesn’t seem very responsible and just ends up causing more and more problems all the time. That’s not the kind of thing you want to see from someone who is supposed to be in your corner. Ryan at least tries his best to help her out and give good speeches but usually she responds with bad advice the whole time. The one positive quality for Vivian is that she is a very healthy eater. She’s big on smoothies and always buying the right things to live a long and healthy life.

This is Summer’s only flaw as I do think it was a bit uncalled for to throw away Vivian’s smoothies the way that she did. If she didn’t want to drink them or wanted to help Chloe do that then you should really do this in a direct way. Wasting food is wasting food no matter how you slice it. It’s also a bit disrespectful and she’s a grown up. Cmon now. Summer’s character arc is more straight forward about learning to love Christmas and getting together with Ryan. It’s a classic one and while you may not buy into the romance angle, she’s a fun enough heroine. She has a good reason for not being very into Christmas since she effectively lost her childhood by having to look after Vivian all the time.

Finally for Ryan, there’s not a whole lot to his character. He doesn’t see himself as ever being in a family so he has fun with his TV dinners and likes taking jobs that have him travelling all over the place. This way he’s never tied down and has no time to regret anything. Of course you know this won’t last but it’s honestly not a bad idea. You can have a blast when you’re single and just go around seeing the sights and having a ton of great frozen dinners. His lifestyle seemed rather reasonable and he was never whiny about that so I appreciated this. As always I found the romance to be rather rushed but otherwise he seemed like a good character with a clear head on his shoulders.

Overall, This is still a fun film that I would recommend. As always with Hallmark the pacing is quick and the tone is solid. You’ll get a lot of fun Christmas visuals and solid writing throughout. It’s only bogged down a bit by the cast not being very likable relative to the other Hallmark films and the magic angle just doesn’t work. Whenever someone is being controlled like this it just introduces a whole lot of other things to think about like the concept of free will here and the film has no time to really delve into this. So as a result it weakens the movie instead of helps it. It’s a fairly small part of the movie but it’s part of what keeps it from matching up with the others. That and Vivian of course. I feel like Vivian didn’t really learn her lesson the way most of the other characters learned a moral by the end.

Overall 6/10