7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Roman Holiday Review


Time to look at a pretty classic rom-com. It’s certainly a movie that just about everyone should be familiar with at this point. That being said, I didn’t know much about it beyond the title so it was a new experience. I would consider this to be one of the best films in its genre. It does a good job of capturing the positives of both genres without dragging itself out or taking things too seriously. The ending is also well done.

The movie starts with Ann going through yet another boring event of having to shake everyone’s hands. Given how many people there are in attendance she has to stand for hours just doing this. Ann does a good job of putting up with all of it, but she wants a day to herself in the town. After trying to ask politely she escapes on her own and has a merry time. Unfortunately the sleeping drugs end up knocking her out. This leads to the other main character in the film, Joe. Joe sees that Ann isn’t in her right state of mind on the bench so he hails a cab and tries to get her home. Unfortunately she is unable to really explain where her home is and he doesn’t believe that it would be the castle so he takes her with him. The next day he wakes up too late and misses his official meeting with the Princess, but realizes that she is actually Ann. Now he is determined to write a big undercover scoop to give to the press so he’ll pretend to be her friend for a day. Can he really go through with such an underhanded plot?

When the movie starts Joe isn’t portrayed as the nicest of guys. It’s not that he’s antagonistic or anything, but the guy just wants to get a good night’s sleep and doesn’t really want to bother with a super tired/possibly drunk person right away. He doesn’t even offer Ann the bed and has her take the couch. After he learns she is a princess he is a lot nicer of course, but eventually it goes from playing a role to actually being a nice person since he likes her. They hit it off as good friends, but with their social circles it won’t really work to stay together. It depends on the kingdom of course, she could possibly pull it off depending on how much pull she has, but it would be a lot for Joe to hope for.

Joe’s plan to expose Ann by pretending to be her friend may be rather standard fare for someone in his line of work to get such scoops, but it’s still good that he abandoned that idea before it was too late. I think that’s the kind of plot that would have made the film a little too mean spirited. Even if he apologized afterwards it would be too late since the damage was already done. By not actually going through with this it makes the film a whole lot more enjoyable to watch. It still brings tension into the film, but without overdoing it.

Meanwhile Ann is a fun character. The sleeping drug may have been a little too effective for the sake of the humor scenes at the beginning, but when she’s in her right mind Ann is a very reasonable character. Really her goal isn’t so bad. She just wants to be normal for a day and that’s something her kingdom should have let her accomplish as it would have saved them a whole film of worry. As long as you have bodyguards undercover it shouldn’t really be much of a problem. Ann isn’t overly oblivious to normal customs so she’s handled realistically.

It’s also a fun dynamic of lying as she and Joe are lying to each other throughout the entire film. Even if it’s not direct, all the time they both have to live out the lie once they started it. Neither one of them wants to spill the beans or the day could be over in a flash. Of course it’s difficult to keep a lie up forever so little chinks in the stories eventually start to appear. Since Joe knows the truth from the start it’s a lot more obvious from his point of view though.

Then there’s the friend Irving who is definitely given a tough time here. Joe ruins quite a few of his outfits and the guy even takes some hits. Irving can be a little oblivious to why he is being attacked though and especially the second time it happens. Both of these scenes are definitely a lot of fun though and easily some of the best moments in the film. He was a good supporting character and ultimately a good guy as well. He didn’t get to hang out with Ann quite as much as Joe but was still able to toss aside his financial dreams to do the right thing.

As for the romance, it’s considerably better than the average ones you see in a film. It’s still on the rushed side when you take into account that they’ve only known each other for about a day though. So I won’t give it a pass, but it doesn’t take away from the film all that much and isn’t a huge focus. Most of the time it’s really just the two characters hanging out as friends and checking out all of the sites in Rome. We even get a nice action scene with the guards where Ann gets to land some hits as well. They were considerably outnumbered, but still took down a lot of the enemies and it was a pretty nicely handled action scene.

The writing is part of what makes this movie shine. The dialogue is quite strong with a lot of fun little jokes hidden in the conversations. All of the characters are realistic and even ones who only appear for a few minutes get to be quite likable. One example is Joe’s boss who sees through the lead’s bold lie and strings him along for a while. I was impressed that the boss was portrayed to be so smart here as half the time they tend to be oblivious.

Overall, Roman Holiday is a film I would recommend. Certainly if you’re looking for a nice romantic comedy this is a movie that fits the bill. The plot of a member of royalty deciding to see how the citizens live is always a premise with a lot of potential. This one really did a good job of handling it and the movie is really over in a flash. I don’t really have any complaints with the movie. The character cast is strong and the blend of humor/serious moments is just right. The ending is also good since it’s pretty happy without being unrealistic or too cheesy.

Overall 7/10

0 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

September Review


It’s time to look at one of those films that is pretty terrible. The very premise should clue you in to this though so at least it won’t come as any surprise. The whole plot basically revolves around cheating with none of the characters being strong enough to leave the house. That would have been the best way to avoid the drama. It drags on and on so by the time you walk out of the theater (Or more realistically walking out of the TV room since nobody is seeing this in theaters right now) you’ll just be ready for a good meal and to act as if the film never happened.

The film starts with Lane and her friend Stephanie meeting up at Lane’s place. For some reason I thought they were sisters, but they’re just best friends. They’re joined by Lane’s parents Diane and Lloyd as well as a guy named Howard and Lane’s boyfriend Peter. Having this many people around the house definitely ensures that there will be drama, but things get a little worse than that. Peter decides that he wants to start going out with Stephanie even though she is currently married. Howard wants to be with Lane, but that plot is so pointless that the film doesn’t care about it either so it gets almost no screen time. Meanwhile Diane just wants to have her book written but everyone is too selfish to help her out with it. What cane Lane do about all of this?

Whenever a movie is all about cheating it’s just not going to be good. The whole premise is pretty mean spirited and none of the characters are good. Stephanie is pretty guilty for even giving Peter a moment of her time. She claims that she was trying to get him to notice her for a while so she started the whole thing even though she’s married. That’s already a pretty big strike against her character. There are some things you just don’t do and trying to have an affair once you are taken is a big one. She also gets pretty defensive at Lane afterwards for this even though she is the one in the wrong. It’s a common reaction and one that doesn’t help her case.

Meanwhile we have Peter who is also terrible. Whether he was encouraged or not it doesn’t change the fact that he knows Stephanie already has a man as well. He is also quick to ditch Lane and blames it on being overly emotional. That’s not even remotely a good excuse and short of being mind controlled I can’t think of any that would have saved him either way. The guy is just quick to use people.

Then there is Lane and she’s not a good lead either. For starters she is never around and doesn’t try to confront Peter all that much. She’s too cautious and keeps her emotions grounded which doesn’t let her face up to what is happening right under her nose. She doesn’t handle any of the situations in the film well. Her hand in life is definitely a tough one here since nothing goes her way, but it would have been nice if she could have done something earlier.

Diane is the most enjoyable character in the film although she still makes mistakes of her own. Her decision to move back into the house when Lane was going to sell it was pretty selfish. It was probably the only time in the film where she appeared to be super unreasonable. Her decision to have a book made isn’t quite so bad because it is still her life. At the end of the day if she wants her story to be told then I don’t really think the other characters can object all that much. Also lets face it, Peter wasn’t going to finish his novel anyway.

Then there’s Howard, but there’s still nothing to say about him. He is pointless in the film as his plot gets the least amount of screen time and it doesn’t amount to anything. He’s way too old for anyone to be going with him here and he seems to realize that as he just walks out pretty silently. If the other characters could have just walked out like that rather than sticking around then maybe the film would have ended up with a happier ending. As it stands I can’t see the group getting together for a nice dinner anytime soon. The whole business probably left them pretty sore with each other.

Beyond the fact that the plot is lousy with a terrible cast of characters, the film is also pretty boring. It all takes place in one setting at the house so there is no variety. The plot is small enough for a 30 minute special so it has to be stretched out quite a lot with random plots to be a full movie. Nothing eventful happens here and you’d probably learn more just watching the news for a little while. The film makers weren’t able to succeed in getting any kind of emotion from the audience with the scenes found here. It’s all just darkly lit possibly in the hopes of saving on the budget.

Another part of the problem is really how half heartedly the characters resist making the wrong choices. If they were villains then at least you’d expect them to travel down these dark roads without remorse. By half heartedly saying that they won’t do this thing and then cheat a few minutes later it makes the characters look even worse. They couldn’t have been very serious if the situation would flip so suddenly. The only sympathetic characters here are the ones trying to buy the house and after the way they were treated I’d be surprised if they still wanted to make the sale.

Overall, September is definitely a pretty terrible film. Whenever the main characters are involved in an affair like this it’s just not going to go well. It’s a pretty big betrayal to say the least and with none of the characters getting a satisfying ending except possibly for Diane you can’t end the movie on a high note either. There’s nothing particularly positive about this film so I’d suggest staying as far away as possible. Hopefully if they make a film called October someday it will be a lot more impressive.

Overall 0/10

7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Love Bug Review


It’s time to look at a film with a car that is actually sentient. I’ve seen a few films with a similar premise but they tend to all be horror titles. This film looks at what would happen if the car was actually quite wholesome. The film definitely hits some bumps in the road, but overall it’s a pretty fun adventure that will grab your attention more than Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ever did.

The film starts with our lead Jim losing yet another race. He used to be a big race car driver but is now considered to be washed up. Jim tried to deny this but is slowly losing confidence. That’s when he has a fateful encounter with a car at a very pricey shop. The hero can’t afford this car but it shows up at his door the next day which does lead to the police getting involved. One thing leads to another and Jim uses the car on the track. He is finally winning again but is it his skills or the car’s?

Now the idea of a car being alive is pretty far fetched so you may cut the guy some slack for not believing that he is real…at first. The problem here is that Herbie proves himself many times with airtight maneuvers. Jim is pretty sure of himself with the whole “science can explain anything” routine but Herbie is too over the top for that to be true. I guess Tennessee’s plan backfires here as he should have let Herbie go wild after the upgrade to really prove that there was more to him than meets the eye. Even so, you’d think Jim would notice that the car was controlling the speed and always suddenly breaking records at the last second. Jim was nice to the car at first and then ditched him at the first possible moment.

It definitely makes Jim hard to root for and he goes from being a pretty reasonable main character to practically being an antagonist by the end. It may be a bit much to call him a villain here, but you’ll miss how he looks early on talking tough to corporate. His window shopping scene may have been foreshadowing for his character’s fall though.

The film is pretty long though and you could say that we get two full acts here. The bridge scene actually felt like the climax but really it was just the halfway point. The rest of the film is a very long cross country race as the heroes try to defend their honor and take home the gold. They all look quite terrible here though. For starters they somehow didn’t think to watch the car before the race. By this point they had already been duped and sabotaged several times so what’s the deal here? The villains had time to slash the tires, empty the fuel line, and substitute their extra tank with water. I dare say that the main characters deserved to lose after such a showing.

They basically left Herbie out to dry by not protecting him. We’ve also got the coffee scene where Tennessee allows the villain to walk in and pour a ton of coffee and whip cream into the car. Fortunately it lived through this but there shouldn’t have been this many close calls. If not for the sponsor looking out for them with his crew it really would have been game over at this point.

Herbie also seems to get nerfed towards the end of the film as somehow the main villain’s normal car is able to keep up. Keep in mind that Herbie was cartoon levels of fast in the beginning of the movie and that was part of the whole point of the film. Herbie is alive so he’s the fastest car around. I guess t just goes to show that a modern car can still keep up with a sentient one but I was surprised at how he kept getting passed over and over again during the race. He would get bumped off the road, lose a tire, etc.

I do gotta give the main villain Peter some props here because he’s a very solid character. His plans to get Herbie are really solid and the guy never gives up. He has plan after plan. Ultimately Peter is a businessman and just wants to be rich and famous. What adds an extra layer to his character here is the fact that he is a race car driver. He doesn’t mind getting up close to the action and putting his life on the line to win. Now that’s a solid villain right there.

The heroine Carole is also pretty solid. She doesn’t put up with Jim’s nonsense in the beginning as she turns him down at every corner and also does her best to prove that Herbie is a solid car. She worked hard to build up her professional reputation and wasn’t going to let some random joe get in the way of that. We get quite a few yelling scenes between the two characters and ultimately she definitely shows quite a lot of spirit. Carole’s also a talented mechanic and helps out when Peter tries his sabotage.

The writing is pretty solid here. The banter is great as always with just about all of the characters being extremely confident. Aside from the main hero and villain both constantly having a smirk at the ready and yelling out their sides in the debate, you’ve even got a cop running around with the same energy. He’s extremely sarcastic to the main character right away to the point where you have to assume that they’ve had some previous history. The scene is rather bizarre otherwise.

Overall, The Love Bug is an entertaining film. A talking car will never not be cheesy in this kind of context but it’s nice to have one on your side. It’s a shame that it can’t talk because that would make it a lot easier for the characters to actually establish a dialogue with it but I guess things would be too easy for them that way. If you haven’t seen this film yet then it’s a good one to check out. Watch the villain steal the show here.

Overall 7/10

1 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Ski Party Review


I’ve seen most of the old beach party films from this crew so I may as well see their skiing version as well right? It’s certainly not much better than the rest and makes all of the same mistakes. The characters may not be at the beach but they certainly dress as if they are. I would make the case that there is a little less fanservice here than in the beach versions, but I’m not invested enough into the series to do so. You certainly wouldn’t catch me defending this film. Well, let’s take a look at what we got.

The film starts off with Todd and Craig being down in the dumps because they are still single. They joined a bunch of sport programs but it was no use. Then they notice that Freddie is the star of the party and everyone is only interested in him. Perhaps the trick is that he is always skiing. The two leads quickly decide to go to the next big skiing event and are determined that this will put them on the radar. Will such a shallow plan really work or will the film test our intelligence by continuing to make the plans crazier and crazier?

There are a lot of issues here so it’s always hard to know where to start. I guess we should tackle the romance first. Romance was always a hard genre for films to really pin down and that can be especially true for this one. Part of the reason why the film kicks off is because both of the girls don’t seem to love the two guys straight away. They did go with them on two dates though so this is more about the main characters not being very patient. They want to immediately go further in the relationship while the girls are waiting. The guys are Freddie all the time and that really warps their expectations. You also can’t feel any sympathy for them because they would cheat on the two girls in a heartbeat. We have many scenes where they try to go after other girls so there is absolutely no loyalty here. They’ll simply go after the first one who accepts them.

They also use rather underhanded methods in order to complete their mission. One such tactic is to dress up as a girl and sneak into the dorms. This is a pretty bad move for many reasons. It’s also one of the largest gags in the film and it gets old very quickly. Naturally Freddie falls for one of them in this form and nobody can put the pieces together. I think if you cut away this whole sub plot the film will still be pretty terrible but it would certainly have improve. This plot line just didn’t do anything to really help the film rise up. It drags on and on.

It goes without saying that there is a lot of fanservice here even though they are in the snow. Characters just don’t care about the storm at all. They’re dressed for the beach and they aim to keep it that way for most of the film. We get a lot of zoom ins and crazy dances reminding yo that the plot was not the movie’s first priority. At least the singing isn’t too bad, the series has certainly had worse songs at any rate. Then you’ve got the beach scene at the end just to mess with the audience even further.

There are moments in the film that can be reasonably funny. It’s not like the whole duration is one failed joke after the other. While a good chunk of the jokes don’t work, the surreal nature of the movie helps at times. The scene of the main character floating like a balloon was fun. Additionally I liked the Polar Bear scenes. It’s a pretty nice gag to have that guy running around. The problem is that the movie beats this joke into the ground by having the same joke show up around 5-6 times. You never want to spam a joke that often because it will inevitably get quite old. It’s going for the running gag approach but that works better in a series. If you cram it into a single movie then you are bound to have some issues.

There aren’t any characters to root for here either so you won’t be as invested in the film as you could be. The two main guys are chronic cheaters. The two heroines are too passive and ultimately try to say that the guys were right even though that is definitely not the case. Freddie starts out as a pretty intense guy but by the end he is total comic relief to make the other characters look better. The movie definitely could and should have had more restraint. Maybe make it so the heroes get a win but Freddie still keeps his dignity. The parental figure here literally goes insane by the end of the film and I couldn’t give him any consolation points either. It was rather mean of the main guys to mess with him the whole time, but it’s also partially his fault for falling for their gags. They absolutely should not have worked on him. I prefer the guardians who at least talk tough the whole time. This guy was a punching bag so you’ll sooner feel bad for him than find the scene overly funny.

Overall, Ski Party is definitely everything you expect it to be. The film is pretty straight forward on delivering everything it is advertised to be. If this is your kind of film then you’ll enjoy it. However if you want a film with good writing and an actual plot then I’d recommend staying far away from this movie. It will have nothing to offer you. At least the gang sub plot isn’t around to get dragged out forever. The car chase at the end is actually a little better without those guys around to slow the pacing.

Overall 1/10

Manga

Queen’s Quality


I got to start the sequel to QQ Sweeper. I’m still not sure why the series just ended and re-started almost immediately, but it is what it is. It’s off to a decent start so far. The art isn’t amazing, but so far the rest of the manga keeps the series in the green. I’ll have a review for it when I’ve finished the series.

Overall 6/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

QQ Sweeper Review


It’s time to take a look at a manga about cleaning. That’s definitely a first for me and it’s an interesting concept. I don’t think it’s something you can keep up for long, but the it’s up to the writing and characters to hold the story. Unfortunately the main cast here is fairly weak so they do have a very tough time holding this adventure. It’s only 3 volumes and I can see why it ended so quickly. It feels like it was cancelled with how rushed it is, but a sequel series started almost immediately so maybe it was always part of the plan. It’s not a bad series, but it’s definitely not the most exciting one out there.

The manga introduces us to a girl named Fumi. She has had a tough time of it because everyone has always told her that she is cursed. Fumi believes this as well because bad things seem to happen when she is around. As a result she tries to distance herself from people ansd does her best to ignore the bullying. One day she meets up with a sweeper named Kyutaro. He makes the school clean, but it turns out that he does more than that. He is able to clean the minds of others and destroys the parasites that plague the human world. Fumi is eager to help out and becomes a junior sweeper. Can she help make the world a better place and ultimately use her skills to clean her curse?

As always the classmates and school are all pretty mean here. THey’re very quick to turn on Fumi so I’m glad that Fumi has some friends here. There are two in particular who stick with her throughout the whole adventure even when the class turns against her. There is a bugmaster who is orchestrating this and manipulating the school, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that a lot of these classmates are gullible. You have 2-3 guys who talk against the bullies, but all they do is talk so it doesn’t help a whole lot. I’d like one of them to have been a little more pro-active.

Fumi is a good lead although I feel like she didn’t get a whole lot of character. We see her toughness with how she comes prepared for the bullying without breaking down or attacking everyone. She isn’t super uqick to forgive the bullies either which is realistic because then they’ll just walk all over you. At the end of the day she does want to be the best sweeper she can be and does pretty well in the role. She has some connection to the queen and other vague things, but those plots don’t get to wrap up here. I suppose that will be in the sequel. The manga also hints that she was someone else a while back before losing her memory. It’s likely all connected to this big plot.

Kyutaro doesn’t get along with people at all and that works out in his favor a few times as he helps get Fumi away from the bullies. He acts as if it’s because he needs to clean which drives them away and then he consoles her. He is haunted by the disappearance of another girl he knew a while back so he is determined to protect Fumi. One thing that holds Kyutaro back is how he mixes the two up and gets delirious at times. Obviously this is to lead up to a romance at some point, but it’s not nearly as well developed as it could be and so I don’t think it’s going to end up working very well here.

Koichi is the leader of the Sweepers and along with the lady who can transform into a bird they are the most experienced. Naturally they don’t tell Fumi and Kyutaro much until it’s too late which can always be a bit annoying for those characters. I didn’t really care for Koichi. He can be helpful at times, but not often and does have a tendency to snap at the other characters. The lady is fine, but I do hope that she can fight and isn’t relegated to purely being a guide.

Ataru is the main villain in the series but he’s definitely not one that you will remember for long. His goals are fairly vague aside from causing anarchy. I guess he just wants to mentally destroy Fumi and bring out the queen within her. Of course, the queen can do whatever she wants to this plan seems incredibly risky to the bug faction. Why put such a powerful piece into play when there’s a good chance that she won’t be on your side? He’s also one of those sketchy villains who loses sight of his goals just to go for power plays and humiliation tactics. There’s just nothing likable about this guy and he drags the main cast down further.

All of the themes in this manga have just been done better in other titles. The cleaning angle does at least change things up compared to other titles, but it’s ultimately not that important when you think about it. They clean the area to help make the infected feel better but mostly this is done through talking and the cleaning happens in the background. Take the cleaning angle away and the series really wouldn’t change all that much. I’m glad it’s there since it’s one of the better parts of the series though.

QQ Sweeper’s biggest problem is just that it’s a little boring. I’ve already talked at length about how the character cast isn’t all that good and it’s always hard to make a manga great without them. Especially since this isn’t an action series then the character interactions are very important. You need a good story and characters to proceed and this title has neither. I will grant you that the manga has some promise with some of the story directions they are going in. If the appearance of the queen turns this into more of an action series then the sequel will be hype. The series just has to show me this first and of course it would be helping the sequel, not this one.

The art isn’t bad, but it can be a little convoluted. It certainly isn’t as clear as a lot of other titles that I’ve read. You’ll be able to read it without any real issues, but that does mean it probably won’t be able to keep up with most titles there. It’s only 3 volumes so it’s not like the artist had a ton of time to improve during the series though. We’ll see if in the sequel the art looks clearer or not.

Overall, QQ Sweeper sets up some interesting ideas and the premise is good. The execution just isn’t quite there. You’re never really given a reason to root for the characters beyond being the leads because they just aren’t very interesting. The villain is a flop as well and so that doesn’t make for an amazing dynamic within the cast. There are a ton of plotlines still ongoing which also works well for the sequel, but when you think about it nothing really happened in these 3 volumes. We got to see Fumi help some people but none of the important questions have been answered as of yet. I’d also like to see the Sweepers actually take the fight to the bug users instead of thinking about them as myths. The latter means that the bug guys have been doing whatever they wanted for years now which doesn’t sound all that responsible on the part of the heroes. In the end the series isn’t bad, but it’s not really good either. Check it out if you think the premise sounds fun and then just wait for the sequel.

Overall 5/10

7 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Fruits Basket Review


It’s time to look at the recent Fruits Basket anime. I read the manga many years ago when I was a kid and didn’t really like it all that much. I actually put it down as one of my least favorite Shojo series so it was good to see it in a fresh setting. I actually liked the show so maybe I would like the manga more on a re-read or the show is just directed that well. Either way it’s a title I can definitely recommend. It’s an emotional slice of life title that manages to hit different tones in different episodes, but is careful not to go too far into being tragic.

The show is centered around a girl named Tohru. After her Mom passed away she went to move in with her other relatives, but it wasn’t ideal and so now she lives in the forest. She is found by the popular boy at school (Yuki) and he convinces her to stay at his place instead of the forest. To be exact, it’s Shigure’s place and soon after another kid by the name of Kyo stays there as well. Kyo and Yuki are constantly fighting like cat and mouse (heh) so Tohru quickly becomes the most mature member in the household. Tohru has decided to always have a positive attitude and to do her best to help everyone else out in respect to her mother’s memory.

There are no shortages of situations for her to help out here as everyone in the school has issues. The 3 people she lives with all of things to deal with and then the rest of the family. See, in a larger scale look at the plot there is the Sohma family. They were hit with a curse where if anyone from the opposite gender makes contact with them they turn into an animal. It is from the Chinese Zodiac legend which may be real and of course Kyo is the Cat and Yuki is the mouse so now things make sense. In the legend the rat didn’t send the cat the invite so he was shunned for life. Of course that was ages ago so we’re likely dealing with descendants, but the wound is still fresh.

Tohru is definitely a great main character. I mean she is pretty much portrayed as the perfect heroine. She’s super nice, does well academically, and is always ready to lend a hand. Tohru imparts wisdom whenever she can and even stands by her friends when they literally lose their minds. If Tohru has any issues it is just that she is a little too oblivious when other people are being downright mean to her. It’s great that she turns the other cheek but at least acknowledging this or telling them to stop would be a good idea.

We don’t see Tohru’s Mom much since she dies prior to the series but she appears through flashbacks a few times. She also seems really good and I’m glad that she still knows how to fight even though she is retired. The flashback where she helps Arisa was handled really well since it’s implied that she basically took down an entire gang.

Yuki is one of the main guys so he naturally gets a lot of screen time. He has a tough time showing his emotions except for when he’s upset at Kyo. Gradually Tohru helps get him out of his shell. We haven’t really seen his true origin but there is a lot of foreshadowing for it. From the main 2 I do prefer Kyo, but Yuki is good. He does step in to help Tohru at times and I do believe he would be able to conquer his fears and help even if Akito was involved. I really hope so at least. Yuki still gets hit with fear and isn’t perfect, but he does his best.

Then there is Kyo who is always ready for a fight. I dare say that Yuki picks the fight most of the time but that isn’t always the case. Kyo always tends to lose the fight, but at least he is enthusiastic. Kyo is not great around people but does his best to communicate with Tohru. He’s come a very long way from the first episode to the last one. His character arc already feels pretty complete and that may help in why he is one of if not the best character in the show. He’s probably the only character to not be openly scared of Akito. While part of him wants to be in the main family, I do think this is an advantage of not being there.

Then we have Shigure, but I can’t get behind him. He’s always trolling his editor to the point where he basically puts her job at stake. Then there’s the fact that he flirts a lot and rarely takes things seriously. He may be the adult in the house, but there is a reason why I said that Tohru is the most responsible. Shigure will have a moment or two where he steps up but that’s about it. The show is hinting that he is planning some kind of big revenge on Akito and is pretending to be a friend for now. He claims that he will avenge everyone else, but he’s sure taking his sweet time. Shigure better do something before the tables turn on him, but that is one of the more interesting plots right now.

Arisa is one of Tohru’s friends. She used to be a juvenile delinquent who hanged out with gangs and was generally on a rough path. Her origin is a bit similar to Tohru’s mom in some respects and that’s also why Arisa always wanted to meet her. Arisa was less thrilled to meet Tohru but along the way Tohru got to show her how to properly adapt to school life. Arisa had a tough road, but now she’s in a good place and has a solid group of supporting friends. Arisa is a nice ally to have. While she may not be as entertaining as some of the Sohma characters she is definitely a good character.

Then you have Saki who is Tohru’s other best friend. She has psychic powers which is cool. Mainly she just uses them for comic relief scenes against bullies and there is actually a story reason for this. She gets a backstory where we learn that her abilities nearly ended Saki. Saki’s origin story was definitely one of the toughest ones in the series, maybe the toughest because everyone was against her. I was glad that she had supportive parents who were there for her at least. It’s a reverse of most situations where you have a friend on your side but the family isn’t. Saki is fairly laidback and quiet so she can’t hold her own episodes the way that others can, but as a side character she’s good.

Kagura is a very persistent character and that’s a good thing since otherwise she probably would get pretty hurt with how Kyo is always ignoring her. Deep down she likely realizes that he isn’t interested in her but will keep on trying until he meets someone else. She’s a good side character. I’m also glad that the show didn’t go down the road of making her jealous of Tohru. That always gets old pretty fast and them being friends is a much better development. Momiji is one of my least favorite characters in the show though. He can be pretty annoying with how oblivious he pretends to act. He trolls Kyo and Yuki about Tohru quite a lot. She may be too oblivious to really take notice but it doesn’t do wonders for his character. I’m not even really interested in learning more about his backstory, but maybe it’ll help to make him more likable. Right now he’s just quirky and not really in a good way.

Ayame is also fairly eccentric, but he handles himself well and with style. Ayame throws himself into every situation and you can admire how bold he is. Even in real life it’s always an admirable trait to be so confident. Nothing throws Ayame and even when everyone is hurling insults he keeps his cool. Ayame and Yuki may never properly bond the way he hoped they would because of how different their personalities are, but at least they won’t be as antagonistic as they used to be. Ayame is a handful, but not in a problematic way. I can’t point to anything he did in the show that was downright bad. Perhaps inconvenient for the others, but that’s about it.

Hatori is a character that I definitely had some problems with. For starters he is very submissive to Akito to the point where he allows the guy to wreck his life. Hatori is basically a yes man and even threatens Tohru into meeting him. We learn that he is a nice guy for the most part, but since he is so weak that is barely a consolation since you won’t be able to trust him when it counts. His origin story is sad, but it’s hard to feel any sympathy for him because of how terribly he handles it. He met someone and they were to be together, but then Akito decided that he didn’t like this and throws a fit. Instead of stopping him Hatori lets Akito claim the win and then even erases the girl’s memories. From there on Hatori lost the will to resist, but he never had it to begin with. If he won’t stand up to Akito there then he never will. The whole origin was just really annoying, especially since Akito is so sickly to begin with. How is he going to threaten Hatori and the guy just takes it? I don’t really have any respect for this character.

Hatsuharu is another one of the Sohma and his dual personality is definitely unique among the others. One half of him is very edgy and definitely wants to be close with Yuki. Then the other half is calmer and more polite in comparison. He can shift gears at any moment and as a result tends to get involved in a lot of fights. It’s nice to have another fighter on the team, but it makes it more and more odd why everyone is so scared of Akito. I’ll get into that more later on. Anyway Hatsuharu would be near the middle of the pack. He’s nowhere near the best members but he’s better than someone like Hatori.

Kisa is one of the younger members. She’s a nice enough kid although she hasn’t gotten much of a role yet. I’m not sure if that’ll change or not later on, but so far she’s off to a good start. The same can’t be said for Hiro. That guy’s real petty and a jerk to Tohru for no reason. She overlooks all of it because she’s so nice, but it doesn’t do him any favors. He seems to be over that now so things will be looking up for him, but he’ll have to work hard to fully get past that terrible intro. Then we have Kazuma who was Kyo’s instructor. This guy seems reasonable. He lives on a mountain probably so he can get away from the main family. Forcing Kyo to transform was definitely a pretty iffy strategy since that could have easily backfired and really made life terrible for Kyo. It worked out in the end I suppose, but it’s hard to see them being quite as close after that. Kazuma seems like Hatori, but with more self-confidence.

Then we have the main villain of the series, Akito. He gets a lot of hype throughout as everyone is scared of him. Everyone shudders at the thought of even meeting him and they all freeze in terror. The guy’s super sick though and needs constant attention or he’ll die. How is anyone scared of him? I think this goes more into cultural impact and the fact that the family is so old. Traditions are strong here and maybe everyone is afraid because he would ruin their reputation. Since everyone else is afraid it becomes circular logic where everyone is afraid because of everyone else. All one person needs to do is stand up to him though and then everyone else could. Maybe the next season will go more into depth on this.

Regardless, Akito isn’t a good villain. The guy just seems really petty and self centered the whole time. I’m sure he’ll have a sad origin, but he’s taking it out on everyone else which is never good. Everyone in this series has had a tough background and I mean almost literally everyone. That means it’ll be very hard for Akito to try and stand there with a straight face and explain why he has to be mean to everyone. I just won’t be able to buy that very easily. Seriously, someone just needs to stand up to this guy and then the rest will quickly fall into place.

At the end of the day Fruits Basket is really about moving on from your past. That’s the main theme of the show and Tohru helps the characters come to terms with it and move forward. The origins are all sad and dark in different ways which allows her to give many different kinds of advice. It’s definitely a moving series in that regard and that’s why it’s a fun watch. You should always feel pretty good upon finishing up the episode. It can get heavy at times as well so make sure you are prepared. It’s worth noting that the romance here isn’t terrible so far. I still don’t think any romance should ultimately happen here since Tohru is just too heroic and oblivious to get into that, but it does feel inevitable that it’ll happen soon. We’ll see how the show handles that.

It’s also just plain fun most of the time. The cast can handle themselves pretty well and that’s extremely important for a slice of life show. There aren’t going to be big action scenes here so the show has to hold its own with pure writing and fundamentals. The pacing is on point and the writing is good so it’s all set there. The animation is pretty good as well. I wouldn’t say it’s anything particularly special, but it all looks smooth and vibrant. Then you’ve got a reasonable soundtrack here as well. It may not be the most memorable, but it does get the job done.

Overall, Fruits Basket season 1 is a pretty good show. It’s the kind of all around title that you can easily recommend to someone who doesn’t really watch a lot of anime. That’s because it touches on a lot of themes that a live action show would with regard to the origin stories and characters trying to find reasons to keep on living or to re-experience what it’s like to enjoy their day to day existence. The show can get pretty sad, but there is always a happy ending. I can’t think of any episode that ended on a low note. It’s not a perfect show and I’d say that a drama will always be limited in how high it can ultimately reach. That being said, the execution is basically ideal and we’ll see if season 2 can match it. I don’t know if season 2 intends to cover the rest of the series but you can already see how not everyone can get their perfect ending here. Multiple characters are interested in each other so someone will have to take a back seat. I also better see more people stand up to Akito because that’s the one part of the series that makes no sense so far.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Star Wars: Lost Stars Review


It’s time to look at a recent Star Wars manga that had quite an abrupt end. I didn’t even realize that the manga had just ended after reaching the final chapter. In my defense there was no real closer page or a big “The End” to close things out. I suppose there couldn’t be too much of an ending since the films have to continue things, but I can’t help but feel like there should have been more here. I heard that there may be an epilogue floating around somewhere, but for now I’ll have to treat this as the ending.

The series follows a pair of characters Thane and Ciena. They both grew up on different planets, but eventually grow to know each other thanks to the time they serve in the Empire. Both of them rise up the ranks, but one day the Empire decides to destroy Ciena’s home world to prove a point. This is too much for Thane and he deserts the empire. Ciena stays but figures they can still meet up once in a blue moon as long as Thane doesn’t join the resistance or anything. Well…Thane joins the resistance and now the two who used to be close friends may end up being each other’s worst nightmare.

The series is mainly told from Thane’s point of view so for the most part we’re always seeing Ciena as the antagonist. That being said, he never stops seeing her as a friend so his goal is simply to convert or capture her in order to break Ciena’s tie to the empire. It won’t be easy, but he is one of the most talented fighters in the rebellion so that certainly helps.

It’s hard to deny that Thane is on the right side here. We know that the Empire is evil and they don’t really bother trying to hide that fact either. They’re just playing on the fact that everyone wants a ton of power and it works with Ciena. I don’t think there are any great reasons given as to why Ciena stands by them the whole time, but again this is mostly from Thane’s perspective. He’s a reasonable character with good goals. Thane won’t leave much of an impact on you but he’s not bad, the guy’s worst trait is simply that he’s generic.

Then you have Ciena who has essentially been brainwashed by the Empire. No matter how much they threaten her or commit evil acts she is on board to stop what she believes is the greater evil. By the time she is ready to pull out it is simply far too late to really make much of a move. Even to the end she is ready to go down with the ship. Hopefully the rebellion is as nice as they seem or the series doesn’t have a great ending for her. With Thane there I don’t think it’ll be a problem though.

The only other big character here is Nash. He was also friends with the other two characters, but he can be very fanatical about the Empire. They can do no wrong in his eyes and he just wants to climb the ranks. Interestingly he doesn’t waver from defending Ciena and would be a good friend if he was on a different side. It’s almost a shame that he grew up in the Empire environment since he doesn’t seem like a bad guy, he just made a lot of the wrong choices over the years. The ending sets him up to be a pretty big villain so if this ever gets a sequel that would be pretty interesting.

I enjoyed the artwork for Lost Stars. It is pretty detailed but manages to stay clear as well. You can always tell what is happening and makes for a pleasant read. There aren’t too many real fight scenes so the artwork doesn’t get to really test its hand there. Regardless this would be one of the positives in the series for sure.

There’s a lot of romance here and while it’s not terrible, it does have its off moments. One such time is when Ciena and Thane meet up again after being apart for a super long time and decide to hook up again. It’s basically the equivalent of a one night stand as they dash off again and the whole thing felt a little pointless. I think the story could have focused more on their friendship and it would have been a better dynamic than the romance angle. Stories of friends choosing different sides is always intense.

Regardless it is an interesting story and at the end of the day that’s the most important thing. It’s sort of like looking at how the war affected your average joe characters as opposed to focusing on the heroes each time. Despite having over 30 chapters I wouldn’t say that a ton happened here. Fortunately the writing was pretty strong so that’s not really an issue. You’ll have a good time as you read through it. It also does set up the potential sequel really well which is where we would get a nice payoff for all the character development here.

Overall, Lost Stars is a solid Star Wars title. I would have liked to have seen more Jedi and Sith getting some action scenes here. That would have really sealed the deal to make this a super solid Star Wars title. As it stands, it is pretty good and I would recommend checking it out. I’m not ready to say that it is the definitive manga experience though as it should likely be surpassed by other Star Wars titles. It’s definitely more of a drama/romance than what you would usually expect from the series, but it works out well or at least better than expected. We also do get the space ship fights so don’t worry about that. This review’s a little shorter than the average manga look through because there just isn’t a lot to talk about here. Doesn’t take away from the quality though.

Overall 7/10

1 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

West Side Story Review


It’s time to look at another popular musical from back in the day. This one has not aged nearly as well as Footloose and ends up being a pretty bad film. It has some interesting storylines and characters, but ultimately the movie falls apart because it is lacking in true heroes. There really isn’t anyone to root for by the end and while the film left the door open to a team up in the second half, it ultimately never happened. The ending isn’t really satisfying for any of the characters.

The movie starts by introducing us to two gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. These two do not get along and have been fighting over turf for a very long time. Both groups are roughly equal in power so nothing ever changes. One day the leaders of both gangs decide to end things once and for all with a big fight. Bernardo and Riff shake on it and prepare for battle. A wrinkle to this is that Tony has fallen in love with Maria and they are both in different gangs. Maria pleads with Tony to put an end to this fight and he decides to do so, but it won’t be so easy. In trying to stop this confrontation he may just end up making it worse.

I mentioned that there aren’t any characters to really root for. This is because they tend to be corrupt or make terrible decisions, but one solid character was Riff. He’s the leader of the Jets and seemed to be a lot more capable than the others. He was ready to fight at any time and always kept his cool. If not for Tony’s meddling he definitely had the win pretty decisively. He actually looked a lot like a younger captain Kirk and fought like him as well. His long skit which poked fun at the justice system was also solid and one of the best songs in the movie. It’s a shame that he didn’t get to appear more since I also think he would have kept his gang from crossing the line with Anita later on.

There’s little reason to root for the Jets because of that scene. There’s a moment later on in the film when Anita is sent by Maria to deliver a message to Tony. She is stopped by the gang though and while it is reasonable for them to stop her from meeting with him, they also decide to attack her. It’s basically 10 vs 1 and very quickly gets into downright villain territory with how they try to degrade her. There’s just no coming back from that especially since everyone was in on it. So, that means that not a single one of the remaining Jets was a decent human being.

The film also gives you reason to root for the Sharks if anything as the dialogue implies that the Jets started the fight with them just because the Sharks are outsiders. The cops are also more on the Jets side even if they just don’t like teens in general. The deck is stacked against the Sharks. Bernardo also seemed reasonable at times even if he definitely was not when Tony showed up. At that point he wasn’t helping matters and that’s why Riff had to step in. The rest of the gang doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time.

We’ve got Tony who is the pacifist, but he comes across as more annoying than anything else. I never liked the trope of the character holding back his ally from fighting while allowing the villain to get a cheap shot in. If you’re going to try and stop a fight then you’ve also got to make sure you stop the other side from attacking as well. Tony’s final move to try and get himself destroyed is also not a good one. You’d expect him to at least try and avenge Maria instead.

As for Maria, she was giving Tony a lot of pretty unreasonable demands the whole time. Ultimately she is the one who is getting him into all of this trouble. Why should it be his responsibility to stop two gangs single handily? That’s just very hard to do and so she definitely takes some of the blame for the ending as well. Anita was a more selfless character if anything as she put aside her feelings to help Maria time and time again despite knowing that this was a bad idea. Her character arc is definitely one of the most tragic ones as she ends up losing almost everything with nothing to gain.

There are quite a few songs here, but they aren’t very catchy in comparison to other musicals. The “Keep it cool” song was very surreal though and was fun in an ironic way. It was cool to see the characters dancing around silently in the garage. The dancing was handled pretty well in general. The opening scene might have been a little slow with all of the clicking and silent moving, but it did ultimately lead to a fun little confrontation. The film is at its best when it tries to throw a little humor around like with the skit that I mentioned earlier.

The serious moments don’t work nearly as well. This includes the romance which ends up being more annoying than anything. One such scene is when the characters are meeting by the balcony. Both of them make a lot of noise considering that they are supposed to be doing this in total secrecy. Then you have the ending which definitely doesn’t work for me either. At the very least you would expect Maria to take a shot. Knocking out both gangs would have been very interesting.

Really, this film wasn’t very good from start to finish, but what really made it cross the line into distasteful territory was the scene of the gang attacking Anita. It’s the straw that broke the film’s back so to speak. This is just a very mean spirited film which is almost surprising after you’ve seen the first few scenes since you would expect it to be fairly happy. The tone just shifts throughout which is impressive, but ultimately it did not work in the movie’s favor this time.

Overall, I would recommend staying away from West Side Story. Not only is it a fairly bad film, but it really drags on. The run time is incredibly long and that’s mainly because the pacing is so slow. You can go through long periods of the film with absolutely nothing happening and that’s never a good sign. If you want to go watch a good musical then I recommend watching Footloose. At least that one has the iconic hero song which works well to this day.

Overall 1/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

I Am Here Review


It’s time to look at a pretty short romance series. It’s a fun little read that I could recommend. At the same time, some of the characters can get a little tricky which I’ll get into in a moment. I’d say that the main takeaway here is that you can’t always trust the advice you get, but some of it will be legit. You gotta then act on it or the whole thing will have been a waste. It’s a tough situation for the lead for sure, but at least she has supportive characters at the ready.

So Hikage has never really stood out in school. People don’t notice her which makes her sad since she would like to have some friends. However it isn’t that everyone at school is mean, they just don’t notice her because Hikage is always hiding. It’s a bit of a loop as Hikage is too scared to approach anyone and nobody can approach her because she’s always hiding. Fortunately Hikage has two online friends who are always cheering her on. They encourage her to go and make a friend. Hikage takes a chance and actually manages to catch the attention of the two most popular guys at school. This leads to troubles with their respective fanclubs, but Hikage is determined to finally become a more pro-active person.

The message here is pretty good about escaping your shell and joining the rest of the world. Hikage is also less exaggerated in this regard than you would expect from most other leads. It’s handled pretty realistically and she seems like a nice person. Perhaps a little indecisive but that’s also something she tries to improve on as the series continues. While she’s not going to be a scene stealer nor is she my favorite character in the series I can’t really say that there is anything wrong with her. She’s just not really my kind of character.

Hinata is the main guy and his whole gimmick is that he’s really nice. He’s also the most popular kid in school because of how oblivious he is. The guy just wants to make everyone happy and fortunately for Hikage they seem to have a connection. He’s a little too oblivious though which holds him back a little. He really doesn’t notice what is going on around him and as a result is left in the dust at times. He should really have a clue as to what’s going on considering what he knows of Hikage but I suppose I should cut him some slack.

Then you have Teru who is Hinata’s best friend. Naturally that means he shouldn’t even try to start anything with Hikage because best friends don’t do that…right? It would be pretty sketchy and unfortunately the manga goes down that road which is unfortunate. I would have loved for Teru to have stayed as just a loyal friend to Hikage. It would have been a much nicer dynamic as well as a fresher one since the two main guys always happen to fall for the same person. This inevitably leads to a falling out between them which is unfortunate. I have to put all of the blame for this on Teru though. He gracefully chose not to pursue Hikage so to go back on that is basically a betrayal. I was disappointed in his character for doing something so underhanded.

As for Hikage’s online friends, they’re pretty reasonable. You’ve got Black Rabbit who is the nice one. He’s always encouraging Hikage and tries to keep her spirits up. Black Rabbit even gets a spinoff story at the end of the series where we see his point of view. Then you’ve got Mega Pig who is a little more direct and to the point. He wants to help Hikage as well, but speaks his mind and doesn’t beat around the bush. In general Mega Pig gives better advice even if it isn’t quite as calming. He tells you what you need to hear vs what you actually want to hear.

I Am Here isn’t a very subtle series though so you can probably guess most of what is going to happen right away. From all of the twists I’d say that only one of them really worked. One character’s plot didn’t end exactly like how I expected it to. For the rest this one is really going by the books which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’d say that the writing is pretty good here for the most part. You’ll be engaged enough to keep going and will want to see what happens next.

I also enjoyed the art for the series. It looks pretty clear and the artist doesn’t draw characters too similar in appearance so you don’t have to worry about mixing them up. That’s always the kind of thing that will make me drop the grade of the art. As it stands you won’t really have a problem trying to understand what will happen next.

The weakest part of the manga is definitely the romance though. First we have Hikage’s side of the story. She’s already with Hinata so as soon as Teru tries to get into the picture she should shut him down right away. In this case she was oblivious for most of it, but once she realized what was happening she should have flat out declined him. It may have made him sore for a while, but it was the right move. Then you have Teru who knew what he was doing from the start. He should have simply gave up on Hikage since he made his move way too late. Once the girl is taken that should be it. You can’t try to steal someone away. Even if you succeed you have to live with the fact that if you stole her away so easily then someone else can do the same. The only innocent one here is Hinata even if he’s fairly bland.

The plot of Hinata and Teru getting into it is also a bit iffy. They’ve been friends for ages so I like to think they should have figured out the plot a lot quicker than they did. I guess they were blinded by their emotions and all that but I feel like they still shouldn’t have jumped the gun this quickly. I suppose I should mention that there is a villain here. She tries her best to mess up Hikage’s life after being knocked out of the inner circle. It gets a little cheesy by the end, but I suppose she was a decent villain. Her plan may not have been amazing but it worked pretty well so you gotta give her some credit there.

Another thing I liked about the manga is that the classmates are actually realistic this time around. When they see that people are messing with Hikage later on they step in. They may not have done anything at first, but later on they are at least active participants. That’s a big upgrade from the usual guys who just stand around shaking their heads as things happen. These guys would actually talk even if they were super gullible during other scenes.

Overall, I Am Here is a decent manga. The romance definitely isn’t all that good, but otherwise it’s a decent story. It’s pretty short since there are only 2 volumes, but they’re large ones so a lot of content is still covered. I think the story would have been more interesting if it had gone in different directions but it is what it is. At the end of the day it still had an interesting dynamic with the online friends and there are enough unique aspects here to separate it from other Shojo titles. If it ever gets a sequel series I expect Hikage to take charge and be the confident lead she was meant to be.

Overall 6/10