Giant Spider & Me: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale Review

A while back I would have said I hadn’t read a whole lot of slice of life adventures like this one where it’s about a girl and her companion but now I’d say I’ve got a decent amount of those at the ready. This one ended up finishing sooner than most though as it’s only 3 volumes. It’s a fun little story that even throws in some cooking. There’s a solid story to be had here with fun enough characters and so it works well as something to read on the side. The cast is quite small so it is easy to see how it could do everything it wanted within the 3 volumes although of course I’d have been game with the series going on for a while longer.

The story starts by introducing us to Nagi. She is on her own own in an apocalyptic future and often gets lonely at her cabin. One day she meets up with a giant spider monster. For a brief moment she is afraid but quickly realizes that it means no harm and invites the Spider over. She names the creature Asa and gives her some Hot Chocolate/Coffee to try out. Asa is a big fan of drinks like this and so the two of them quickly bond over food. Nagi now has someone to cook for and Asa has a safe home on the inside. Their lives would be fairly perfect here except the townsfolk aren’t thrilled about having a giant monster around. Can Nagi convince them that Asa is friendly or are they going to attack anyway?

Since Nagi lives alone in a wood cabin on the outskirts of town it’s not like the civilians play a part immediately. That said, she does need to go into town to get supplies from time to time and that’s when they start making a fuss. Asa does look pretty scary to be sure but they take things too far as you would expect. We do get to meet some supporting characters as a result though and Nagi even gets to make a few new friends.

The first main supporting character would be the Carpenter. I’m not sure if her name was ever confirmed but she owns a little cafe that’s in a boat in the wilderness. As a result nobody ever visits the shop which discourages her but she tells Nagi that she does not want to move no matter what. Even if the place completely bombs she refuses to leave. It’s certainly a determined stance to take but Nagi agrees to help her out. In a way this is perfect since Nagi gets to cook a little extra now and practice on her technique. The carpenter is also quick to accept Asa as well.

Then you’ve got Belle and her father. Initially her father is definitely very concerned about Nagi’s pet spider but he gradually gets with the program. From all of the adults here I’d say that he was the most reasonable about this. Belle was also a tough customer to get on board but not so much because of the spider but just because Belle has a hard time just acting nice to people. By the end of the series though she’s probably Nagi’s best friend outside of Asa. She’s definitely a good ally to have.
Then we’ve got Godot who’s the mayor of the town. After some convincing he is also on board with the heroes and someone that they can count on so that was fortunate. The only real obstacle in their way was a guy named Oleg who goes as far as to use Nagi as bait to lure out Asa and destroy him. It’s hard to ever like that guy even by the end because his steps were so drastic. if Asa was dangerous then he definitely put Nagi in harm’s way there. If Asa wasn’t dangerous then his whole plan was incredibly unnecessary as well. So no matter how you slice it, Oleg did not look very good here. Putting a kid in danger is just not the right play.

Meanwhile the cooking is always pretty fun. The manga really goes into detail on the meals that Nagi makes to the point where you could easily recreate these recipes on your own. A lot of them are classic meals you could make for lunch or dinner so you could even implement them right away. The author clearly likes Pumpkin a lot since most of the desserts use that in mind. I’m not a huge pumpkin fan but I would definitely give them a shot as well. The cooking angle is pretty fun and gives another layer to the general premise of the series.

While the term “Apocalyptic” is in the title the world doesn’t seem to be in very poor shape. We don’t see a whole lot of the world though since Nagi always stays at home or heads into town for supplies. The town looks good but it could also be that as soon as you leave the town then everything suddenly becomes bleak. The series isn’t really about this of course but it’s still a nice element to think of. After all, having your story take place during an apocalyptic time does at least subtly affect the context.

The art’s decent although I wouldn’t say it’s a standout or anything like that. It’s a little on the rough side but it’s going for a detailed look so all of the characters do look distinct. There’s a lot of effort put into the backgrounds and such. It may not make for the flashiest art to look at but you do get the gritty feel of the heroes trying to survive in a tough era. The foods also still look good. I could see the artist being really good at more of a horror title as well given that some of the visuals where Asa looks menacing tend to turn out really well. It’s also a nice way to show how scary Asa would look to an outsider.

You’ll definitely be blasting through this series pretty quick. Due to its nature of not having a big ongoing plot or many characters there isn’t a whole lot more to say about it. Asa’s design is pretty solid though. You can’t really go wrong with a giant spider like this. I definitely wouldn’t say there are even any negatives about it. The series serves its job well as a nice series in the day to day of Nagi’s life. It’s all about how a spider helped to turn things around and by the end of the series you know that she’s in good hands.

Overall, Giant Spider & Me is a fun little story. If you’re looking for a nice slice of life story to check out then this is a good one to read through. It’s a pleasant series about being able to make friends with a creature that most would find dangerous. The townsfolk are nice at the end and it’s good that Nagi has such supportive allies all around her. It reminds you that any animal can be an ally so long as you treat it right. Some pets definitely don’t seem as friendly as others of course but especially when they’re young any animal can be tamed. This doesn’t seem like the kind of story that would get a sequel but it would be fun if that ended up happening.

Overall 6/10

Detective Conan: Wild Police Story Review

Detective Conan may be one of those never ending stories with tons of volumes but that doesn’t mean that a spinoff can’t eventually conclude. The Wild Police Story is one such spinoff and at only 13 chapters it had a really brief run. I enjoyed it well enough. It’s always nice to see Zero in his various jobs. While this title doesn’t quite have the same charm as Zero’s Tea Time, it’s definitely a solid adventure. The ending is also pretty intense for setting up Zero’s role in the main series. It goes without saying that the final chapter will spoil a ton of his development and plot twists from Detective Conan if you haven’t read that yet so you wouldn’t want to read this one until you’re deep into the Conan series.

The series starts off with Zero and a few new cadets getting to the police academy. They all have their own dreams and aspirations for joining the core and naturally that tends to put them at odds with each other. Jinpei joined in order to punch out the boss while Zero has very secretive reasons for joining. The two of them get into fights quite a bit as Jinpei is more of a rival to him. They’ve got a pretty solid amount of banter going on for them and definitely stand out the most from the crew members. All of them are solid characters though.

Wild Police Story is effectively like having more detail to Zero’s origin story but having it as a separate spinoff rather than throwing it into Detective Conan. It’s a pretty interesting approach and I definitely would say it’s a good one. I always like to see a franchise continue to expand and that’s exactly what this series does for the Conan franchise. There isn’t time for a whole lot to happen of course so we get a few one shot stories a mini arc and then a final arc to end things off on. The final chapter is also a nice epilogue where you see what has happened to each character in the present.

Zero is the best character of course. As always he’s pretty much an expert at everything he does and additionally he’s just a pretty nice guy who always does the proper thing. Zero’s confident but not arrogant. He’s always willing to lend a hand and he’s a bit younger here so he’s not completely all powerful the way he tends to be in the later appearances. So you really couldn’t ask for much more out of the main character if you ask me.

Then we’ve got Jinpei who is also very solid. I like his hot headed approach to things. He’s a nice foil to Zero’s cool and calm persona. This guy doesn’t just wait around to see what happens next. He’s always right there on the front lines dictating how things are going to play out. He’s certainly pretty rash with his decision making but it tends to work out all right and that’s the kind of energy you want to see in your unit. It just wouldn’t be the same without him.

Wataru has a pretty solid character arc where he learned more about his father. Initially he didn’t quite understand why his father took some of the actions he did so when a bank robbery occurs then he and Zero are able to talk things out while figuring out how to escape the situation. One of the cases had a pretty nice resolution where the cops just walk in low key in civilian gear and quickly subdue the villains. It really pays to have a bunch of close friends who are all expert fighters that’s for sure. Wataru doesn’t stand out as much as Jinpei or Zero but he’s still solid.

Hiromitsu definitely has one of the biggest character arcs here. He doesn’t do a whole lot for a while but he gets the final case which is pretty big. He finally has a lead on the guy who murdered his parents and wants to get revenge after all these years. So it took a long while to find him but that’s why you’ve always got to stay on the case because you never know what can happen. The rest of the gang are quick to pitch in and help him out here which was good. It’s definitely a very intense case next to the other adventures which typically had a happier tone. It’s also interesting because if you re-read the very first chapter of the series there were already a few hints about what would happen with his character so it was nice foreshadowing. Clearly the author already had a vision of how this would play out.

There are 2-3 other characters but that’s about it. The cast is fairly small and that makes sense since their wouldn’t have been much time to really develop everyone else otherwise. This series isn’t really about the depth at the end of the day. It’s just about having a fun story with some quick adventures. It’s all about team bonding and it works out really well. A little Conan cameo would have been fun too but I suppose the series doesn’t want to get too obvious. It would be odd to see him just walking around and also depending on how long ago this was maybe Conan wasn’t born yet. Zero definitely looks a lot younger but it could have just been a few years I suppose.

The artwork is really solid here as you would expect. The panels are all very clean and the character proportions are on point. You really will have an easy time following the action at all times. There’s nothing confusing to be said here and that’s always an important part with the artwork. You shouldn’t have to squint to see what’s happening.

Overall, Wild Police Story is pretty fun. It’s definitely over in the blink of an eye but you’ll have a good time reading it. Seeing the gang slowly bond as they’re all on the same missions is pretty nice. They really become a unit by the end to the point where they’re able to save lives without anybody even noticing. One of the most intense cases was definitely when they took the car on the highway and managed to stop a truck by jumping across. It was a pretty nice maneuver and one that definitely required a whole lot of teamwork on each character’s part. I also really liked the first arc since it literally opens up with a quick fight between Zero and Jinpei. That’s how you get the ball rolling right away! If you’ve ever wanted to see the Conan cast in a different setting then this is a great title to check out. I also highly recommend Zero’s Tea Time but note that it has not finished yet.

Overall 7/10

Million Dollar Baby (1941) Review

I’ve seen another film with this title already but I can’t say that I gave it particularly high marks. This one has a plot that matches the title a lot more closely and it works out quite nicely. I was certainly pleased with the results at the very least. Who hasn’t imagined suddenly having a million dollars? There’s no much you can do with that. A million dollars now may be far less than it was in 1941 but you would still be able to do a mountain of things. One thing’s for sure, if you allocate your million bucks correctly you should definitely be set for life.

The film starts with an old lady named Cornelia who finds out that part of why she is so rich with her company now is that a long time ago they swindled someone out of a lot of money. While it’s been eons since then, Cornelia wants to make things right. She finds out that the heir to the guy who got cheated is in America trying to make ends meet. Her name is Pam and she has a pretty content life at the moment. She balances out her job along with having a boyfriend Pete who is having a tough time trying to launch his music career. After making sure that Pam is on the level as a good person, Cornelia anonymously gives her the million dollars through her lawyer Jim. Pam is ecstatic about this as she should be but Pete is not so happy. He doesn’t want them to be rich and is ready to fly the coop. Will Pam really sacrifice her newfound wealth for such an insecure fellow or will she end up going with the lawyer?

As stated already, the plot is just a lot of fun. It’s a classic wish fulfillment kind of story. It’s fun to see Pam spend it all around even if she probably doesn’t handle the situation in an amazing way. She certainly panics a bit at the money and gives the bank a hard time but eventually gets into the mix. I would argue that suddenly going to expensive diners and such is the quickest way to waste your money but I suppose when you have this much you may as well waste some right? It would be nearly impossible for her to lose all her money so there’s that to think about as well. At one point in the film she even starts to earn some interest which was even more than she had been giving out. The interest rates at the time must have been pretty nice.

At her core Pam is just a nice person though and you feel like money won’t really change her much. Her only concern would really just be in not going along with the flow. She seems rather easy to manipulate at times both by Pete and Jim. She is also maybe a bit too oblivious like inviting her old friends to the fancy sky diner that they couldn’t afford. If she led off with the whole “I’ll pay for you guys” that probably would have helped though. I also think her quick fling with Jim was a bit iffy. Even if she and Pete were on the outs at the time if she did intend to come back to him later on then you can’t be with another guy like that. Getting so drunk is also pretty tricky. She probably should have just made a clean break from Pete though.

One such gullible moment is near the end of the film when the mean land lady gets her to give out a ton of money. It’s all part of Pam’s plan to an extent but giving this lady of all characters such a huge sum? At least give it to friends and family or something. I always felt that if you get rich and seriously don’t want the money then at least give it to family & friends or charity or something. Just throwing it outside or giving to people that were just insulting you the entire time and suddenly want to be friends…really? That just doesn’t seem great but it is her money so of course she can do what she wants with it. Just seems like she messed that decision up quite a bit.

Pete’s just not a very good guy. Even from the star the doesn’t seem to have the best attitude. The two of them have a lot of banter but it seems to me like he always goes just a bit too far in his responses. The guy is always insulting Pam and after a while it goes from being playful to being a bit extra. As soon as he got jealous about the money I also had to take a backseat. You can’t get upset over something like that. A million bucks is nothing to sneeze at. Time and time again Pam does her best to help him out and he is always super ungrateful about it. If Pete is serious about his music you’d also think that he would enjoy the chance to practice it more at the restaurant instead of insulting the owner and taking time with his spaghettis.

Even when Pam is seemingly being harassed by Jim Pete doesn’t do much. He gets ready to try and fight with the guy a bit but never actually gets in close for a real hit so he comes off as being a little afraid. He definitely should have had more of an aggressive approach to Jim before Pam showed up and put a stop to things. Then you have Jim who is a nice guy but I couldn’t get behind his romance with Pam. It’s all a little too fast especially with how devastated he was by the end. Really? He only knew her for a very small period of time if we’re being honest here. He’s a nice guy though and aside from the romance scenes I thought he did really well.

There is a first act in the film before Pam even shows up where you could make the case that Jim is the main character. He goes through all of the motions of messing up on his old job, getting a new one with Cornelia afterwards and even getting a mission. It’s actually a bit of a twist when Pam shows up and takes center stage. So I liked Jim in all of these moments. He had spunk and a lot of energy. I just don’t think he should have made a move on Pam later. Even if things were shaky it wasn’t his place to jump in yet or rather if he is, then making that clear to everyone from the jump as a declaration of war.

Overall, Million Dollar Baby is a pretty fun film. It’s got great writing and pacing to really support what’s going on here. If I have any qualms here it’s with Pete as he is a pretty weak co-lead and the romance in general was pretty weak as a result. I also thought the ending was a bit cheesy with the characters making the wrong move. While it is supposed to signify something about actually getting rid of all the loot, we know from a previous scene that this wouldn’t be possible. So I like to imagine that a few weeks later they just go to their account and use more money whenever they really need it. That would still make more sense to me. I definitely recommend checking out the movie though. It’s just nice and charming which works as a fun adventure all the way through.

Overall 7/10

Sakura Wars: Sumire Review

Sumire has definitely been a pretty key figure in the Sakura Wars franchise. She’s always around to help the heroes out whether it be directly in a fight or by pushing the rest of her team to perform even better with her tough love approach. She quickly became one of the best members on the team so it’s fitting that she would be one of the only people in the series to get her own special. Next to Sakura you probably could say that she had the biggest role in the series.

The basic plot of the special is that Sumire has decided to retire from the Flower Division. She’s getting older now and has realize that her powers have started to wane. While she could theoretically try to stay in a support role, you need your powers to be able to use the mechs and I doubt she would be satisfied on the sidelines. This also means she will have to retire from the stage performances. None of the other members are happy about this but try to see her off with a smile as she has her final show. The special’s more of an emotional epilogue so there aren’t any big fight scenes or anything. It’s really here to give Sumire some closure.

So there isn’t a ton to say about this one because it’s only about 20 minutes and it’s not like there is a whole lot going on here. Sumire continues to look really good. She noticed her powers beginning to go away before anyone else and made the retirement decision on her own terms which is important. Sumire takes the whole thing in stride as well and already knows what to do now that her career is over. Building mechs with the company is a good way to keep fighting against the forces of evil. Also, her powers are not completely drained so if there’s an emergency I’d like to still see her get into the action. Maybe if we ever get a sequel movie she could have a quick scene where she gets into the mech one last time.

The rest of the division doesn’t get to do a lot here beyond saying goodbye to Sumire. Kanna takes it the hardest since she always had a lot of good banter with Sumire. Even to the end she isn’t quite able to keep up a game face the way that the others did. Of course that’s definitely a lot easier said than done so it’s nothing to fault her for. Sakura is finally able to gain some confidence after coaching from Sumire so she will be ready to be leader now. Technically Maria was the leader but everyone on the team knew it was secretly Sumire and now that role will be Sakura’s.

We get a clip show at the end of Sumire’s adventures with the team as the OVA finishes. So it was a pretty fun little adventure from start to finish. It’s the kind of special you can probably only appreciate if you saw the rest of the series. It’s all pretty low key after all but definitely worth the watch. The animation is good, the writing is solid, and there are no real mistakes here. It’s just a fun special and it’ll be tough for the Flower Division to really continue going on without her. I feel like a new character may need to be added just to help with bringing in more banter. To an extent I feel like that was Orihime’s purpose originally but she didn’t really end up sparring much so you still need another piece.

Overall, Sakura Wars: Sumire is a very direct epilogue. It accomplishes what it set out to do with concluding Sumire’s story and definitely ends this part of the franchise. There are a lot of ways you could still write in her return of course so if the writers are desperate she can return but otherwise it’s definitely a nice end to her character. I’d definitely recommend checking this out if you’ve been going through the Sakura Wars series and don’t know that this special exists. If you haven’t started the series yet then you should probably at least check out the main anime before watching the special so that you’ll really know the characters first.

Overall 7/10

In This Our Life Review

It’s time to look at another retro drama film with a lot of twists and turns as things don’t always go in favor of the main character. It’s not nearly as strong as the last two though. The characters don’t make a lot of good decisions here which results in the antagonist getting away with quite a bit. The ending’s definitely solid though and does finish the film off on a good note. It’s not quite enough to me to say that this film was solid but it’s a plot that is pretty hard to execute as is. You’ve got rebounds and weak willed characters running around all over the place here.

The movie starts by introducing us to the two sisters. They couldn’t be any more different. Roy is a proper young lady who isn’t timid or anything but she doesn’t rock the boat. She aims to have a fulfilling life with her husband Peter. Meanwhile her sister Stanley is always driving well past the speed limit and likes to take risks with her life. It’s how she really begins to feel alive! Her uncle William is super rich so he’s always able to bribe people so that it slides. Well, one day Stanley takes things to the next level and runs off with Roy’s husband. Her fiance Craig then gets depressed as well. Is it possible for Roy and Craig to move on or our their lives pretty much sunk?

Right off the bat you can tell that Peter’s a pretty weak willed character. It’s not even like in most films where he was only the boy friend and got whisked away. In this case he was actually the husband already so he really has absolutely no excuse here. Definitely a pretty bad character the whole time. Naturally the main antagonist here is Stanley. She’s definitely the kind of character who likes to openly manipulate people. Unfortunately she tends to be pretty successful at it too. The other characters just can’t seem to say anything to her and tend to back off almost immediately. You’d like to think that they could hold their own but it just doesn’t happen. She continues to spiral more and more out of control while the other characters use kid gloves for her.

The main part of the film that was going a bit too far here was Roy visiting Stanley and allowing her to come back. It’s great that she is so understanding but you’ve also got to take actual precautions in the meantime. For starters, you forgive her but afar. Allowing her back into the house just runs the risk of more controversies and trouble. While it would have been hard for the heroes to guess that a certain event would happen at the end, I’m sure Stanley would have thought of something else. Mainly she was just trying her best to see how far she could break the rules.

So Roy is a solid main character even if she can be a bit too passive at times. The film consistently portrays her as a very nice character who wants to succeed the right way. She isn’t taking any shortcuts with her career and is just a good role model. She helps Parry out quite a bit by getting him a good job and fully supporting his dream to be a Lawyer. Confidence can go a long way and by supporting him she was able to underscore that anything was possible. At the time this town seemed to be quite racist as the film makes sure to depict with how Parry is treated. The characters all treat this as matter of fact except for Roy who didn’t seem to notice that this was such an issue. I suppose in her position she wouldn’t have seen much of this happening around her but once she did, Roy took a solid stand. Roy plays a large part in helping out during the climax as well.

Then you’ve got Craig who didn’t handle Stanley leaving nearly as well. The guy gets depressed for a while and he definitely wouldn’t have recovered nearly as quick as he did if not for Roy. I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of his, but at least he didn’t show up at the bar which was critical. Even if nothing happened, showing up at the bar would have been a terrible mistake. Sometimes you’ve got to resist the urge to rise to a challenge because nothing good can come out of it. You just can’t let yourself get manipulated like that. It’s simply not worth it so he got points for this. Then you’ve got Parry who is a solid supporting character. He’s a bright guy who works really hard. You can tell he put in the effort to get to where he is and that he’ll keep on doing it. Using your first check to buy materials to study is the kind of dedication that you just won’t see a lot of people with.

Unfortunately the romance is pretty weak in this film. Due to the nature of the film, the main romance here with Roy and Craig is a rebound. Roy was married and Craig was ready to be. Now they’re ready to move on with each other so quickly? It’s just hard to see this as anything but a rebound no matter how the film slices it. It doesn’t let you buy into this and the film would have been a whole lot more convincing if they had just stayed as friends. If they were supportive friends I dare say that it would have had a more effective impact on the film.

The writing is solid although Rich Uncle William ends up looking pretty gullible by the end. I like all the bluster with how he yells at everyone and brags a lot. That’s good and his confidence is probably what helped him become to obscenely rich. You have to have that attitude. That said, Stanley just defeats him way too easily. He lets her get away with everything so you can’t really take what he says seriously. She openly tries to finish him off at one point but fortunately his stomach ended up being as tough as he said. He was still the most entertaining character in the film but he didn’t end particularly strong this time.

Overall, Is This Our Life is a film with some pretty strong themes about moving on after a tragedy occurs. The film just slips up with the main premise of the romance rebound which sort of undermines everything here. I’d also argue that the scenario for Stanley coming back seemed rather forced. It’s all tragic on her end of course, but letting her come back after all of that? I don’t think so. At the very least I dare say that Roy should not have been the one to go over. She’s just a little too passive here. The film goes by pretty quick and definitely has a solid climax, but it doesn’t hold up nearly as well as the other recent retro films I’ve been watching. The guys are too weak willed and the one who has absolute confidence in William just isn’t up to the task. I’d recommend checking out the Heiress instead on how to properly defend yourself in the end and that one perfectly executes the theme of moving on.

Overall 4/10

To Each His Own Review

It’s time to look at an old school drama film. It shows how keeping secrets and making elaborate plans can really end up backfiring for you. Of course, it also sounds like being in a small town like this would backfire as well. I feel like there are many better ways Jody could have handled things. Still, it’s a pretty entertaining film and while it may be a pretty sad one for most of its run, it does have a happy ending at least to balance things out. Always good to end on a solid note.

The movie starts with Jody spending New Year’s Eve by herself once more. It definitely hasn’t been the best year for her but she’s used to being alone anyway. She ends up saving the life of another fellow by the name of Desham and he lays the situation out for her. They’re both rather old right now and don’t have anybody to live for which is why they are so lonely. They wasted their youth but at least now they can be friends. Jody reluctantly has to admit that he has a point but she’s too busy for that. She heads to the train station and then gets a flashback to explain how things got this far which ends up being most of the film.

Jody grew up in a small town where all of the guys were always after her. Particularly Mac and Alex who asked her out many times but she always refused. She just didn’t think she was actually in love with them. Well, eventually she met a pilot named Bart and had a connection with him. The guy got murdered shortly afterwards but Jody did end up having the kid. The problem is that having a kid without being married was a big taboo in this town so she arranged for the baby to be brought to her friend’s house and since they were so packed she would inevitably get to keep the baby right? Wrong, the lady gave the baby over to Jody’s “friend” Corrinne instead. Corinne refuses to give the baby back so now Jody needs to figure out a ways to reunite with Griggsy before it’s too late.

There’s a point where the film is really just an endless string of tragedies for Jody. Nothing goes right for her at all and of course growing up without her own kid is pretty haunting. She at least gets to hang out with him a lot at Corrinne’s place, but as the “aunt” so it’s just not quite the same. She wanted to have that true mother son relationship but Corrinne eventually forced her to stop visiting. I can’t say I really blame Corrinne in this respect as Jody was starting to go a little far in bonding with the kid. Of course from Jody’s perspective this makes sense but why would Corrinne want to put up with this right?

Jody has some pretty decent plans for getting control of Griggsy though. You have to give her a lot of points for determination and will power. She never quite gives up during the film. No matter how things keep on backfiring she gets right back on the saddle again and again. She’s a pretty solid character for sure. She didn’t give up on finding true love as opposed to settling and also didn’t rebound afterwards. Jody’s a solid main character who sacrifices quite a lot again and again. It’d be hard to find a nicer character here.

The best character would have to be Desham though. The guy is a really quick thinker and definitely comes up with a really solid plan to try and get everyone back together by the end. Without him Jody would definitely have been pretty doomed the whole time. The guy just comes across as a true gentleman and one who sees the big picture. He also does respect Jody’s wishes even if he thinks she is incorrect in at least one decision. For a while there I was wondering if we would get back to the present timeline but we do and it all makes for a complete ending. The film is rather long so there’s a lot of time for all of the plots to get a good amount of screen time.

Griggsy doesn’t get to appear a whole lot but at the same time he is a huge focus of the story. I can’t say he was very likable as a kid but at least he tried being nice during the scene when they went to the rodeo. As an adult he’s a whole lot more reasonable. He may change plans quite often on the spur of the moment but he does tend to mean well. He has 0 context on what’s going on around him so he’s just going about business as usual. He certainly seems like he’ll be a much more dependable guy than his peers from the older generation. Alex turned out to not be very good as he admitted to loving Jody more than his own wife. Not a great look even if everyone suspected this by how quickly he rebounded. I liked Mac, but dependable wouldn’t be the right word for him. He started out as a swindler but Jody helped show him the error of his ways and from there he only got better. Now he’s an upstanding businessman who is actually quite solid.

Then you’ve got Corrinne who is okay. She was a bit rude during her first scenes like questioning if Jody was actually happy but the scenes with Griggsy are much more understandable. No matter the origin of how the baby got there, Corrinne is the mother now so of course she wasn’t about to surrender the kid up without a fight. There’s no way anyone would do that so it just all makes sense. In general the writing here was pretty realistic with the characters. I do think Jody just overthought things with the plan though. The town would gossip either way so just come up with a shorter story and that could work pretty well.

As mentioned, there’s a lot going on here. It’s easy to forget that most of the adventure is a flashback at that because it’s so long before the present timeline shows itself up again. The present makes all the more sense thanks to this extra development though so it all works out quite nicely. That said, spending the holidays by yourself isn’t so bad if you go and grab some food. I think part of why Jody wasn’t too happy was because she wasn’t doing much of anything so she had too much time to think. Instead she should have made some kind of goal like visiting every diner and that would give her a great opportunity to stay distracted all the while.

Overall, To Each His Own is a pretty solid film. I’d say that it is a good one in all aspects. The writing is solid and the characters are on point. The pacing is good and since the ending is satisfying that goes a long way as well. The film can be quite sad for most of its run so how much you enjoy it will likely depend on how much you think the ending ultimately ends up canceling this out. The ending is really what you remember the most though so I would say it works out. All’s well that ends well right?

Overall 7/10

Pokemon: Twilight Wings Review

It’s time to look at a recent Pokemon web series that ended. It’s always nice to get some new animated material. Pokemon recently did something similar with Pokemon Generations although that one was way too ambitious in scope and ended up being rather disappointing. Twilight Wings from the start is going for a much more inspirational/somber feel to the shorts. These aren’t about big action scenes or colorful backgrounds. It’s actually all very subdued which is where the somber part comes from while also showing that everyone is trying hard to get ready for their futures. It’s a fun little collection of shorts.

There are 7 shorts in all and they’re all under 10 minutes. So if you merge them together this could be around a 40 minute OVA or something like that. Each short changes main character except for the first and last shorts which are about a kid who is rather sick but wants to be a Pokemon trainer. His friend’s definitely a good kid to have around as he tries his best to make sure that the main character is able to get closer to his friend. The rest of the shorts vary in plot and will always have an ending scene that teases the lead of the next main character. I’ll talk briefly about each short.

The first one I already went over. It’s one of the weaker ones in the collection but is fun enough. It’s always nice to see the kids have a happy ending especially when they’ve clearly been through a lot already. The second one is about Bea who is training for her next fight. She actually spars with her Pokemon which is pretty impressive. Unfortunately she gets stuck in a cave in, but this helps her remember that her strength is with her friends as a team and not by doing everything on her own. We get a little action here which is always pretty neat so this was a solid followup.

Then we have one about Hop who is admiring how great Leon is as per usual. His Wooloo feels bad about this and runs away though so now Hop has to find him. Sometimes it can be obvious that the main character is in the wrong but this time I think Wooloo was making a mountain out of a molehill. It showed that Hop was as close to Wooloo as ever though by having him chase after his friend. This was one of the shorts going for a more emotional angle and it worked well. Hop may have been one of the least impressive rivals in Pokemon but it doesn’t take away from him being a pretty good guy in general.

The 4th short is about Nessa as she tries to balance her career of being a model and a gym leader. People say that it can’t be done and she will have to choose one. Ultimately she chooses to keep going in both fields and will prove her doubters wrong. It’s part of why she is one of the better gym leaders as it takes a lot of drive to maintain two careers at once like this. I was glad she didn’t choose to sacrifice any of them.

Next one’s a slice of life short about Oleana as she tries to deal with Chairman Rose’s rather impromptu ideas. He tends to vanish or get sidetracked very easily. It’s clear that she’s got a tough job on her shoulders. Another good special but a lot more low key compared to most of the others. Then we have the short with Allister which is the weakest short in the series. Still not saying it’s bad or anything but the gym leader’s personality doesn’t work for me. The character doesn’t really talk and the kids don’t have enough snappy dialogue to really make the atmosphere work. It’s hard to hold your own episode after all.

Finally, we end with the kid finally getting to meet Leon. Leon helps him realize that his dream to simply meet Leon wasn’t what he was actually meant to do. The kid really wants to go out there and beat Leon and so the champion gives him a little hope that he can pull this off someday. It’s a fun way to end and while the gym leaders seem to not understand Leon (Some going as far as to say he was holding back or not taking the fight seriously) at least they all understand his strength. I like the idea of an unbeatable champion like Leon because it makes the fight with him feel all the more grand.

So those are the 7 specials. Due to the length of the specials the summaries of each special pretty much tell the whole story but I tried to keep them brief. The series is so short that you should really go ahead and check them out. Especially since it’s only 7 episodes in total. They’re all fun and it’s a nice, calm series to check out. The animation style is going for the washed out look which isn’t exactly my favorite but I think they were going for a look to try and resemble the games a bit more than the anime. Something like Generations is going a lot more traditional with vibrant colors but since this one is going for that somber atmosphere perhaps they thought it would be a little distracting. The brief fight scenes we get still look good though with a lot of shockwave effects to show the scale of the attacks.

This is more about the stories than the visuals or soundtrack though so it makes sense that this would be the focus. I can’t really recall any particular big themes either but we had no long fights that would have taken advantage of them anyway. Twilight Wings thrives on the fact that it makes no real mistakes. After watching each episode you’ll be satisfied with what you saw and can easily binge the rest of it or do one episode at a time. Hopefully we get more Pokemon web series like this in the future. I think these bite sized portions are always a good idea for any series. They help to expand the franchise and give each character more development. They could also work as brief character moments in a future game. Imagine the next Pokemon game having 5-7 minute cutscenes that play out showing a character’s origin. I think it would work rather well.

Overall, Pokemon: Twilight Wings is a solid series. I would definitely recommend it whether you are a Pokemon fan or just a general viewer of media. You don’t have to be a fan to appreciate the themes it’s going for. At the end of the day it’s about showing that you make your own path and to keep going when things are getting tough. None of the characters in the series give up and it ultimately ends up benefiting each and every one of them. The payoff may not always be as great as literally becoming champion of the world but you can still get some personal victories in the meantime. Of course aside from more mini series I would still like to have either a bug budget anime version of Pokemon Ruby (Or Omega Ruby so we get Zinnia) or Pokemon Adventures. It’s time we get more media and it’s Pokemon so it would sell really well.

Overall 7/10

Bikini Beach Review

It’s time for another beach adventure. Unfortunately this one really doesn’t help the series. It’s basically the same as the last beach adventures and that’s an issue. There’s no real substance here and the movie basically brings in the same plot lines that it has been recycling over and over at this point. There’s not a lot of fresh content to be found and that’s a shame. I don’t think there’s a whole lot you could do with the premise anyway though. The beach just doesn’t make for a good backdrop in a film as it gets old pretty quick. It’s unfortunate but that’s just the way it goes.

The basic plot though is that a guy known as the Potato Bug has come into town. He wants to show everyone what true music is. Frankie still refuses to marry DeeDee so she decides to hang out with the Bug to make Frankie jealous. Meanwhile a local publisher known as Honeywagon has decided to prove that the teenagers are a menace to society. With his trained chimp he will make a monkey out of them yet. Much to the sadness of the main characters they are getting humiliated by this ape. He just seems to be smarter and faster than they are.

The film has a ton of weaknesses so let’s look at one of the few plots that actually was reasonably solid. That would be Honeywagon’s plot. He writes papers about how corrupt the teens are and you almost can’t help but root for him. The guy has a few legitimate points here because the teenagers aren’t really being all that productive. They’re just heading to the Beach and doing whatever they want for hours on end. They are always making jokes and messing with each other and they do this pretty loudly so it must be tough on the seniors. Honeywagon is proving that we have to get them off the beach and I had to agree. As the film goes on he naturally starts to weaken but even so I was rooting for the guy. I also thought he got a really good burn in when he explained that the teenagers weren’t even as smart as the monkey.

The rest of the plots aren’t very good though. For starters, the Potato Bug is portrayed to be pretty awful at just about everything. Even the singing seemed pretty bad and only half of the teenagers seemed to enjoy it. I don’t think he had much of a point in the film. He was only there to make Frankie jealous and either way that happens in pretty much every film. It’s not like it’s anything new at this point in the game. Frankie still won’t marry DeeDee no matter what tricks she pulls and she always goes back to him anyway. It’s not as tense since this always happens and Frankie has also proven that he doesn’t mind hanging out with someone while waiting for Deedee to come around.

In general I didn’t think the monkey scenes worked either. They tended to be rather boring most of the time. As always the film also suffers from a steady stream of fanservice as well. Pretty much no scene is safe from this and it ultimately takes away from the movie quite a lot. The movie starts off with a fanservice scene which sets the tone for the rest of the film. You can’t expect quality writing or pacing here either. This film feels quite long as it plays through and has virtually no replay value. There’s just not much good to be found in this film.

I guess I’ll give the climax some props here. At least we did get an extended fight scene with everyone. I could do without the chase scene but the fight itself was excellent. All of the characters got to contribute a bit with their haymaker and combos. Even Honeywagon got in on the action and seems to have some basic super strength which served him well here. Without Honeywagon the heroes may have been in trouble. The monkey also ended up helping even if that plot was always a bit cheesy. The whole film is meant to be cheesy though so that’s nothing new.

How much you enjoy the film just depends on how entertaining you find all of this. It’s got a lot of slapstick and is intentionally very over the top the whole time. The jokes are all recycled but meant to clearly still get their laughs. I like a good old fashioned comedy as much as the next guy but a film centered around the beach for laughs just idn’t going to work. What would have been interesting would have been if Honeywagon had taken the teens to court and we got some back and forth with the characters. Now that would have been pretty interesting and I dare say that it would have helped the film quite a bit. What we need is a winter version that takes place entirely in the courthouse. It would be a very different kind of film but that’s the point.

Overall. The main characters really prove Honeywagon right the whole time. All they can think about is hanging out and being at the beach. None of them are particularly serious or smart. Most of his burns land because the teens just can’t defend themselves. Some of them can’t even read because they’ve been at the beach too long fighting with gangs. If Honeywagon had ultimately won that would have been pretty cool and a great twist if you ask me. If you really love beach movies then I guess you can watch this. It’s pretty much the same as the rest of the beach films although with arguably a weaker plot than most. Really, that potato guy was just awful. Maybe that’s why the film has so many songs so you can try to forget about the story for a while. It doesn’t work though because the songs aren’t particularly good either. I’d definitely recommend taking a pass on this one.

Overall 2/10

The Swimmer Review

It’s time to look at our next certified stinker. This film’s about a crazy lead who decides to go home by swimming across everyone’s pools. He knows almost everyone in the neighborhood so he figures they won’t mind if he does this. You also have to wonder how he got to the first home as it is. The guy’s got good stamina I’ll give him that. The problems with this film are pretty numerous but easy to describe so we’ll tackle that in a moment. First just take a second to think about how creative the plot is. At the very least I’ll give the film this, the plot is pretty unique.

So, the film starts off with Ned jumping in someone’s pool. It turns out to belong to a group of his friends so they don’t really mind. Despite being married Ned does a ton of flirting with two other wives but their husbands don’t seem to care. Ned then says that he is going to use everyone’s pools. The others think he is joking but Ned is deadly serious. He heads off to do so, but the problem is that he seems to have severe memory loss while also being completely oblivious to everything as well as being morally bankrupt. This seemingly quick journey across the pools is about to get a whole lot more difficult than he thought.

In a way this film feels like it was going to a live action harem feel. It’s almost like how Nisekoi could have been if it was a movie instead of a series and if the characters were adults. Part of the problem is that Ned is married as I mentioned. He shouldn’t be making plays on anyone. He just seems way too overly familiar with the rest of the characters though as he breaks boundaries all the time. The real question mark here is how everyone else just watches and grins. The characters make no sense here and the whole story just doesn’t really work. You can maybe buy into the fact that Ned was so charismatic that everyone liked him. It’s not completely beyond the pale I suppose, but I like to think that everyone would be strong enough to have gotten over him by now or to at least establish boundaries. Nobody does and it makes for a lot of iffy interactions.

Still, this may not have hurt the film so much except for one of the picks. The film opts to go with a pretty crazy romance with Ned and one of the daughters. The film establishes that she is 20 at least which is good, but the age gap is still massive and the fact that Ned is completely obsessed with her as soon as they meet is terrible. It’s equally terrible that her family was ready to let her run off with him for a while. It was a safer time back then but the whole plot is crazy and unnecessary. The film would have been so much better had it not gone down that avenue. There’s just no real way to recover from that and the film just didn’t stand a chance. From there Ned doesn’t lose any momentum and continues his old tricks. The final lady has to say no many times before he finally gives up.

The Swimmer just isn’t a fun film. It tips its hand almost immediately that Ned is crazy so the final bits won’t really be any kind of twist if you were paying attention. The film gives you a whole lot of foreshadowing for everything but that doesn’t suddenly mean the plot is good. If you give foreshadowing that your ending is going to basically be pointless that really has no effect in the end. The movie doesn’t totally answer all of the questions but you can put it all together pretty well. I think the movie could have succeeded if the lead was likable though. For a film like this you need the lead to be likable so you can sympathize with him. Unfortunately, there is just no way to sympathize with Ned. From what we learn of his past, the guy just wasn’t very good.

This film doesn’t have good writing due to how unrealistically all of thee characters act. The pacing’s not terrible or anything but with no good plots to work with it was doomed to fail from the start. It’s a shame because the very beginning of the film was pretty solid. I like how extreme they presented the main character’s obsession with the pool. It’s immediate and shows that he is definitely a little too interested in learning if his neighbors got pools of their own. It’s pretty much a parody. Usually you’d see characters get obsessed with robots, cars, science, or something like that. Pools? That’s awfully specific but interesting. The whole film should have played up the comedy angle a bit more in that respect. Now, I’m not sure if the beginning was supposed to be played for laughs but that’s how I interpreted it at least and it worked out well that way. Once the film tried getting more and more serious that’s when it all started to fall to pieces.

Overall, The Swimmer ultimately didn’t have a chance of being great. It just made way too many mistakes and you can only make so many before you are ultimately doomed to fail. It’d be nice if another film decided to do the premise justice but I wouldn’t put that high up on the list of potential remakes. The premise itself is interesting but I’ve seen way better ones. Throw in some kind of sci-fi adventure or time travel and then you’ll have me at the ready. Maybe jumping into pools takes him to different timelines or something. I dunno, but that’s the direction I would start to take all of this in if I was at the helm. In the meantime you should absolutely avoid this film at all costs.

Overall 1/10

Little Women Review

It’s time to look at a pretty old film from the 30s. I’m sure just about everyone has heard of this film though because it has gotten several remakes over the years. I can’t say I had high expectations for the film, but it still managed to underwhelm me after watching. It feels like not a lot happens in the movie and you may grow bored by the end. I think a few plots could have been cut out, particularly some of the romance and backstabbing going on.

The film is focused on the 4 main girls who are trying to lead fulfilling lives. Jo is the main character and she’s always been a tom boy much to the embarrassment of her sisters who feel this puts them in an awkward spot at social gatherings. Jo meets up with the next door neighbor Laurie and they hit it off. The thing is, she just wants to be friends while he isn’t looking for that kind of thing. Jo just wants everything to stay the same but gradually her sisters begin to get romantically involved as well. Can she really prolong the status quo?

One thing in life that always rings true is that the status quo can never stay the same forever. Even if you choose to stay single that doesn’t mean everyone else will. You also have to account for World War III, Quarantines, Natural Disasters, and many other events that would make normal life impossible. The best thing to do is enjoy the time you have now and make the most of it so you have no regrets. Jo ends up missing her chance as a result, but at least she wrote a book right? She’s an okay character I guess, but I can’t say that I particularly liked any of the characters in the movie much. Laurie’s grandfather would be the best character for me since he seemed like a nice old man. Jo’s Mom and the maid also seemed like nice characters as well.

Amy is easily the weakest of the sisters though as she helps Laurie rebound from Joe’s rejection pretty quickly. Now, Jo and Laurie were thoroughly done so it’s not cheating, but it’s still pretty iffy to go after someone like that. If you’ve got family who just had a relationship not work out, you’re not going to quickly jump in right? It makes it seem like Amy was waiting for this opportunity and that Laurie must never have been all that serious about Jo. I’ve always got to assume that the romance was not all that real if you can bounce back from it with someone else so soon. So I have to blame both Laurie and Amy here. In particular with Amy it feels like a betrayal. They’re sisters so that makes it especially personal.

Meg doesn’t get nearly as much of a role. She was the first to get into romance I suppose, but that’s about it. The main stories were still mainly about Jo. Unfortunately that did not work in the film’s favor either as her rebound plot wasn’t any good either. She ends up falling for her writing tutor and it’s hard to ignore the fact that there appears to be a significant age gap there. It could just be the actors appearing that way I suppose but since we can only judge from the visuals it is a bit dicey. I don’t think there’s necessarily a problem with an age gap within reasonable limits (both are over 18) but you can’t go too far. Ideally you should be within 2-3 years and maybe at most you can go up to 10 but even that seems a little wide to me. Regardless this romance plot comes about very quickly and nothing about it seems very natural.

The writing is also not that good which is surprising from such an old film. The movie’s never engaging and that’s due in large part to the characters not being interesting. They tend to talk about a lot of things that don’t really matter all that much and certainly don’t hold your attention. You can have a good slice of life film but this movie is missing a key ingredient. It’s missing humor and banter. There is no witty dialogue to be found here or even any scenes that will have you crack a grin. It’s not as if this is a dark or grim film. It’s fairly upbeat and all, but it’s played incredibly serious the whole time and that doesn’t do wonders for the movie. I dare say that humor is absolutely necessary in a film like this. It could be in part due to the age of the film so the humor attempts don’t really resonate but again, I’ve seen plenty of old films with snappy dialogue and solid characters. This one just isn’t one of them.

Overall, Little Women is a movie that has not withstood the test of time. I saw a film similar to this one a while back that was also not very good. The premise just needs something to give it an extra boost that this one didn’t have. If you’re going to check this film out then just be ready for a fairly uneventful experience. If you want a film with a little more excitement then you should check out the original Ghost Rider instead. Of course, that movie is very different right from the start. If you want more of a slice of life adventure then check out the original Odd Couple film. That one’s got a lot more interesting moments to it.

Overall 4/10