Cowboy Bebop series (1998) and movie (2001) review

The bounty hunters, who are gathering in the spaceship “BEBOP”, will play freely without fear of risky things. They must create new dreams and films by breaking traditional styles. The work, which becomes a new genre itself, will be called… COWBOY BEBOP

Series Rating: 5 / 5
Film Rating: 3.5 / 5

 

Cowboy Bebop. Probably the first major anime I introduced myself to when I was younger, outside of Dragon Ball Z and Yu-Yu Hakusho anyway (didn’t see much of the latter). One of those series I found myself coming back to on a couple of occasions, including recently. I wanted to see if it was as good as I remembered. Well, it wasn’t. It was better.

Despite its episodic structure, in the sense that each episode is sort of stand-alone, there is an overarching theme to the whole thing. It’s all about the weight of the past, and the ways it affects the present. Every episode has that aspect of it to some extent. Whether it’s a character’s past mistake or broken relationship, a misdeed done by a government or corporate agency, old vs. new technology, or even a callback to a past cultural influence such as the western cowboys, Japanese samurai, or the Jazz/Blues music of the 70s exploitation era. It all affects one or more of the major characters in each episode in some way.

Each episode tackles this central theme in a different way, while also building upon the central protagonists who are in (almost) every episode themselves, or the galaxy they inhabit. This is a setting where mankind has acquired the technology to colonize a few planets in the solar system, thanks to jump gate technology (which itself had at least one catastrophic event with its development, which has affected individuals in certain episodes), and the development of various forms of spacecraft, small and large (including one ship design giving it the look of a tommy gun), capable of entering and exiting planet atmospheres and flying in space. And aside from ship technology, it is also possible to change one’s identity if one has enough cash (woolongs). Some episodes show a man going from skinny to fat, from a white guy to a black guy, a man to a woman, etc. Primarily with the intention to evade authorities and bounty hunters (the latter of which exist because there isn’t enough of a police presence on a solar system scale to track down all criminals).

Just as the criminals can’t outrun apprehension from the hunters or the authorities forever, neither can the protagonists, or anyone for that matter, outrun their past forever. The past only serves to chain us down until it is confronted and resolved. Yet one may find themselves in a position where resolving the past is impossible, or so one could think. There are multiple ways to resolve the weight of the past, each way leading to a different outcome. After all, the criminal could always just turn themselves in, an option that was presented in at least one of the episodes (though they never seem to take that option). It’s more about figuring out a way to let oneself be reconciled with their own past. Otherwise, being so hooked up on the past, you’ll be unable to appreciate what you have in the present. And if you stay hooked up on the past long enough, the stuff in the present you could’ve appreciated may be gone, just like the past.

And incredibly enough, this is a mature series. And by mature, I don’t mean in regards to the violent content or the sexual content or the nudity (the latter of which is only present very briefly in one episode). I mean mature in the themes themselves. Past weight and consequences aside, have you noticed a trend in most anime films that are out there? The same kind of trend that occurs in most films over the past few decades? This series is not one about “the coming of age,” or, “realizing/fulfilling one’s destiny,” or, “overcoming impossible odds through comradery and personal discovery,” the latter of which is something I tire of seeing, because it’s fucking everywhere, in virtually everything that is classified as an action/fantasy/adventure film. It’s about adults, who are likely past their prime, trying to rediscover a meaning in their life, to try and make a living in their self-employed conditions and harsh lifestyle. Adults who have no more life-lessons to be learned. Because normally, a situation like that acts as the motivation for the protagonist to do any of the previous traditional film/series arcs. We need more series and films with mature content like this, without any quest or destiny to be fulfilled. We need films and shows that teach us to be mature in their own way.

But anyway, funnily enough, the first episode I ever saw of this series is the same episode a few people I’ve become acquainted with coincidentally first saw. Heavy Metal Queen. And yes, it’s still one of my favorites, with this space trucker chick who blasts heavy metal music, plus that awesome sequence where Spike Spiegal is attempting to hop from one ship to another, by ejecting himself into space without a suit. My other favorites include Mushroom Samba (the “Edward” episode that’s also all about 70s blacksploitation, and a bit of Django), Gateway Shuffle, and Wild Horses. That being said, all the episodes are great.

As for the characters, the major characters are all solid. Spike and his Bruce-Lee inspired martial arts and philosophy, Jet being his stubborn hard-ass self, Fey being dangerous seductive manipulative and somewhat self-destructive, Ein just for being there, and Edward. Edward completely steals the show from everyone else, for two reasons. One, she is so wacky and unique and fun. Two, the English voice actress for her is unbelievably great. We’re talking greatest dub for one of the greatest animated characters of all time great. On-par with Mark Hamill’s dub of the Joker.

There’s a reason this is considered not only one of the best gateway anime series to watch, but also one of the greatest of all time. Accessible and deep, and ages like fine wine.  Some episodes are hilarious, others great solid action/drama/noir/thriller entertainment, others pack an emotional gut-punch.  It doesn’t answer every question raised or hinted at, and that’s perfectly fine, because it’s good to leave people wondering about some of these things, to have some mystery about the past, and how some characters will turn out in the end. And unlike most anime, it’s also refreshing to see one that has a definitive end.  With it’s mismatch of different genres and episode structures, and managed to pull things together in such a perfect concoction, it’s a true lightning in a bottle series.

 

 

 

And then there’s the movie Knocking on Heaven’s Door.

It does a bit of development on Spike’s character, but it’s not really anything any true fan didn’t already pick up on from the series. But it does have those bitchin’ insta-noodles, and the callback to the battle on Titan (and no, this has nothing to do with that series Attack on Titan, though I’ll eventually get around to watching the latest season of that), with another dimension to it. Another example of how fucked up things were in that war. The show and the movie never does enough to show/tell all with what happened there, and that’s a good thing. All you need to know was that it was hell, and there were some weird biological/chemical/nano experiments utilized on some of the soldiers in some of the battles. It’s more of a background thing among a bunch of other background elements in both the movie and the series. It has enough subtle world-building moments to compare to the series.

I want to like the movie more than I currently do. It’s a decent enough stand-alone (fitting in with the episodic nature of the series). Not the best entry, maybe not the worst (though the worst is better than most anime can approach). But it is a real slow burn at times, especially during the first half. The filmmakers really wanted to indulge in having that extra time they wished they had to pad things out, going from a 25 minute episode, to a 90 minute movie. It’s just that you can really feel the slow crawl at times.

Thankfully, the film kicks into high gear at two separate points, from Fey chasing the hacker arcade guy, and leading to the fight on the subway; then the breaking out of jail all the way to the finale. It made getting through the slow portions worth it. That’s not to say the slow portions were entirely bad, they had some decent moments too. Like Edward and Ein going trick or treating (this movie should be watched annually for Halloween!).

There are two aspects of this film that make it truly memorable. First, the fights between Spike and Vincent, especially during the finale. It’s some of the best martial arts sequences ever put to animation, and I challenge anyone to find grounded fight sequences in any animated film that does it better than this (CG does not count, and fuck anyone who tries to pull that shit; you won’t find any grounded fights that use CG anyway; sorry if that’s coming off as harsh, I’m boozed up for this review [not while I was watching the movie]).

Second, the sequence where Spike is flying his ship and dodging the military aircraft. Holy God. That whole bit is a masterpiece in animation. You can feel the weight, you can feel the change in gravity and momentum. They put so much effort into making these aircraft seem real that it’s insane. This sequence doesn’t get anywhere near enough of the appreciation it deserves, especially for a non-CG animation sequence. I’m sure there are other anime films/shows that have reached the level of this sequence, if not surpassed it. But it’s more than a pleasant surprise to see something like that in this movie. I also appreciate that it doesn’t dumb down the military aircraft/pilots just to have the protagonist have a chance. They use some intelligent maneuvering, and it’s never anything really over-the-top.

And that’s one of the things I appreciate about this anime flick. Just because it’s an anime (let alone an animation) doesn’t mean they have to go full bonkers with it by doing stuff that defies the laws of physics and couldn’t possible be done in a live-action film. They keep it grounded, which makes it all the more investing for someone like me. Plus there aren’t enough solid R rated animated flicks out there, especially ones that don’t do R-rated stuff just for the sake of having an R-rating, or for the sake of being exploitative, and really cartoonish. That’s not to say I don’t get enjoyment out of animated flicks that do just that (Dead Leaves, Heavy Metal, Golgo 13: The Professional, Redline), it’s just refreshing to see one that makes an extra effort to stay in grounded territory when it comes to the action.

So I’d say that extra half star is partly for appreciation of what the film contains compared to other animated flicks out there, and also partly just for being a Cowboy Bebop flick, with the same director, and same voice actors. The film didn’t do a disservice to the show, but I can’t say it’s outstanding in it’s own right. It’s just there, as a stand-alone extended episode. And that’s perfectly fine.

I do have to admit though. Considering this was originally released in Japan September 1, 2001, 10 days prior to 9/11, and it has a Middle Easter character responsible for developing a bio-weapon (and the vaccine for it), terrorist bombing killing hundreds of civilians, plus brief imagery of the twin towers, it got a bit eerie. It makes some of the more subtle themes and background stories somewhat relevant, though you have to pay attention to catch it.

 

 

 

PS: Just to get ahead of the curve, fuck you Netflix for fucking this up.

 

Metropolis (2001)

(I can’t stop loving you.)
I’ve made up my mind, to live in memory of the lonesome times.
(I can’t stop wanting you.)
It’s useless to say. So I’ll just live my life of dreams of yesterday.

— Ray Charles

Rated: 3 / 5

This film has an interesting way with music, and it works. It may not be traditional to play a Ray Charles song the moment when everything is blowing up as is bound to happen in an anime, but it pulls it off. It’s just too bad I didn’t feel the anime was strong enough to match up with the lyrics.

 

It starts out with red lines making intersections among a black screen. A target? Paths crossing? Or just a simple opening credits stylistic choice? Who know? More importantly, it starts black and white, and grainy, before emerging as a bountiful amount of yellow/gold lights, brightening up the dark. The film stays this well lit up until the coup, where the snow starts to fall and the colors become more and more muted, until near the end, encapsulating the film’s arc. As any film art 101 student would know, this indicates that life is good, then it’s not, but then it will get good again. But I find such a conclusion questionable for this film.

The main reason I went and watched Fritz Lang’s Metropolis was to prep myself for this version of it. This movie is not a shot for shot remake in the slightest. In fact, ziggurat and futuristic utopia with underground workers and some Christian metaphors aside, these are very different films. Sure there’s a robot girl created for different purposes among the 2 parties involved, but she behaves differently than in the 1920s Metropolis. The Supreme Being, as she’s called, is the 2 girls made one from the older film, both the demented robotic version, and the good version. She starts out good and innocent, and angelic as bluntly shown at one point, mainly due to her ignorance and lack of knowledge, and hair growing solar powers. But as she goes on and gains more and more knowledge about herself and those around her, she eventually transforms, quite suddenly actually, when some internal part of her (the heart part I believe) activates. Then she becomes an enemy to all of mankind, including Astro Boy.

The theme from the first film is that the mind and the hands need the heart as a mediator. Well, that’s not the theme from this film, though it does put some emphasis on the heart. If I understand correctly, when the heart activates, what’s really going on is that it’s shutting down. She no longer has a heart or emotions, just as her creator eventually desired. The repercussions are disastrous, because a Supreme Being without a heart will reign down destruction. One could say that she learned to be this way because of the violence she’s seen, but really, when you think about it, it just ends up being due to programming, which takes away from the film.

In fact, the finale is when things start to fall apart. Of course they designed the ziggurat to become an uncontrollable time bomb when a robot they had designed for it decides to take control. Of course there aren’t any backup security measures. Of course the tower would start to do things unexpected by the very people who built it. All this wiring and circuitry shit just comes out of the blue because, fuck it, anime’s need a big bombastic over the top finale. Things just happen manically because the script says so from that point, not to mention our two protagonists are the only ones to somehow survive the destruction of the ziggurat.

So, yeah, I found things that I disliked this time around, after haven’t having seen this movie for many years.

Like more films of today, the question and theme is on artificial intelligence. Can a machine think for itself? Can a machine love? Are machines better than humans? You know, all that bullshit, a theme that I’m not a big fan of. It’s not as universal as the themes found in the Fritz Lang original.

All that aside, the animations are largely fantastic, even if some of the CGI meshing doesn’t, you know, mesh all that well or look all that good compared to the 2D style. Many of the camera views aren’t close ups, they are pulled back to give a large view of areas of the city, allowing for a massive amount of detail to be captured in many frames. Close-ups are used sparingly, and largely saved for brief moments. Another difference between this film and the old silent picture is that there are less details shown about how this society functions, technology-wise. I mean, there are the robots, and the robot firemen, robot firehoses, robot garbage collectors, robot detectives, robot everything. As one character states, the machines will replace man and take all their jobs one day (which is a guarantee if the political cocksuckers keep attempting to raise minimum wage to the point where having and maintaining machines is cheaper than having human workers; sorry, tangent).

There are sectors of people who are for machines and their rights, and those who don’t believe machines have any, so they resort to violence against the machines, destroying them (some in the coup, others for security reasons). The film makes sure we are supposed to feel sad when machines are killed off. Killing off a machine that places some animal symbol in a spotlight. Killing off another that is up on some advertisement mannequin. And guess what? No explanation is given as to why those dumbass machines were there in the first place, which makes the film feel manipulative as hell. “Oh the poor machines, why do they have to kill them? Boohoohoo!” You know what, fuck the machines. There are only 3 to care about in the entire movie, who’s reasons for acting in such a way as to be killed off make sense and the context is understandable and more clear. The rest of them can burn in robot hell for all I care.

What makes me sad is that now I can’t enjoy this movie as much as I used to. And there’s plenty to admire about this film. Great animation, decent plot, interesting music, good characters. The first 3/4ths of the film are solid enough before the “the less fucks we give for the sake of the action, the better” finale, except for a few things:

* The mad doctor who created Supreme Being Tima. Not much motivation as to why he’s wants to run away with her, or what his real intentions of creating her are if not for Duke Red. There’s a brief moment when we first see him that gives a potential reason that links back to the original film. He’s glancing at an old picture of Duke Red’s daughter. But that’s all we get. You know, considering that this is a Japanese film, and that the Japanese aren’t know for being subtle when it comes to film, you would think they’d clear that up somehow. But they don’t, so I’m just assuming this is a nod to the mad doctor character from the silent film, and settling for a character with less dimensions to him.

* Some robots that die to make the viewer feel sympathetic about it, when the average viewer probably wouldn’t give a flying monkey shit about them.


So, what could’ve been done better then? Well, the above two points could’ve been easily resolved with more footage and an expansion upon the subjects. But the finale, well, why not link things back to what happened midway through the film? Duke Red creating the ziggurat with the intention not to make the city/nation more grand and beautiful, but also as a way to gain power and threaten the world with the power of the ziggurat, which can shoot lazers at the sun and cause the sun’s radiation (the sun’s rays) to hit the Earth and mess up the robots (not to mention the citizens themselves if the radiation was bad enough). Is it so difficult to have crazy blonde Tima just hijack control of the lazer and threaten to use it to destroy humanity or something? Or just control all the robots in the city and eventually the world (it does that already, but they need more More MORE!)? Build upon what you’ve laid the groundwork for movie! You can’t just pull shit out of the blue for the hell of it. We’ve already got Takashi Miike for that.

The main characters, Kenichi and Tima, their relationship with one another isn’t all that well developed, so when the turning point of the story happens, the emotional impact isn’t as great as is needed (not to mention that Tima’s turn happens a bit too drastically with no hint that it would happen in that way).

This film has some heart to it, but not enough. I rewatched this with the intention of enjoying it again, but I can’t enjoy it like I used to. Unless there’s something I’m missing, or some other way of looking at the film that I haven’t comprehended. Still, all in all, it is a beautiful looking film. The CGI may not mesh perfectly, but it’s the next best thing compared to Memories. Three stars is the best I can give it, and 1/2 of those stars is due to sympathy.

Continue reading

Berserk (1997) anime review

Rated: 3.5 / 5

WARNING: If you haven’t seen the show before and intend to watch it, SKIP THE FIRST EPISODE!!!  That first episode should be the last episode, because it acts as a sort of epilogue to the entire fucking season (seriously, fuck them for putting that episode first and spoiling much of what is to come).  That aside, there will be spoilers in this review, which may make that warning pointless.

Continue reading

Naoki Urasawa’s Monster (2004) review

Rated: 3 / 5 (might improve sometime in the future when I decide to rewatch this show)

And slowly, you come to realize, it’s all as it should be.
You can only do so much.
If you’re game enough, you can place your trust in me.
For the love of life, there’s a trade-off.
We could lose it all, but we’ll go down fighting.

So I’ve been aware of this anime’s reputation for a while now.  Some say it’s “the best anime no one has ever seen,” and by no one they mean Americans.  Not sure how true that is (personally, I think that reputation should fall upon Legend of the Galactic Heroes, something I have completely downloaded, but have only seen a few episodes so far; didn’t stop because it sucked, just have the mindset, “Let me finish this, and this, and this first, before getting sucked into this.”), as I believe it has gotten the attention it’s deserved since its release, but viewers have to jump through a few hoops to get the whole thing.  From what I understand, this only aired on the Sci-Fi channel (was it that far back, or was it SyFy at this point?) for a duration, and the last 15 or so episodes never aired, so most didn’t get to see how the anime would wrap up.  Well, I’ve seen the whole damn thing.  I won’t say how, but you could probably think of a few ways.

So, how was it?  Not too shabby, despite a couple minor caveats here and there; up until the last 5-6 episodes or so when it does this stupid bullshit that a lot of animes do that irritate me to no end.  I’ll get to what those are later, but for now I’ll just say they don’t fuck up the show to the point where I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.  Despite its faults, it’s one of the better anime series out there, and it doesn’t run so long to the point where it overstays it’s welcome (I mean, Inuyasha, Bleach, One Piece, holy fuck do those go on forever).

Oh, and there will be spoilers.  Just sayin’.

So the show starts out with this master surgeon, Dr. Tenma, who is considered to be the best doctor in the country (the show primarily takes place in Germany, but the lead doctor protagonist is Japanese), conflicted with his choices of whether he should continue to do what his bosses want, healing the patients they demand and thus prioritizing the more wealthy/famous/political over the commoners, or not.  The guilt of continuing this trend weighs heavy on him until he decides to disobey orders and do surgery on a young boy named Johan who was shot in the head, choosing to help him over the other more “important” individual.  Because of his actions he becomes de-promoted, and his twat fiance (who is the daughter of the hospital president) shows her true colors in that she was only in the relationship for the finances and high position, so she ditches him for another.  But the act has unforeseeable repercussions that extend beyond this.  Soon after healing the boy, several of the hospital higher ups are killed via poison, leaving nothing in the way of Tenma moving back up in the ranks.  And the boy patient Johan, along with his sister (who was admitted due to trauma/shock) disappear.

Years later, Tenma is successful, and glad to be rid of his fiance, who tried to come back to him (bitch, please).  However, a patient of his raves and rants about a monster coming for him, and he runs out of the hospital with Tenma in pursuit, only for both of them to become confronted by the monster.  The monster, as it turns out predictably, is Johan, the boy patient from nearly a decade ago.  Johan kills the patient, spares Tenma, and leaves.  Tenma also finds out that Johan is a serial killer, who has been killing many people over the years, which makes Tenma second-guess his philosophy that every life is sacred, and equal, and worth saving.  Are there some lives that shouldn’t be held as high as others?  Are there some lives that must be ended for the good of others?  Well, Tenma decides to change his life, leave his job, and begin tracking down Johan across the country, trying to find him and eventually kill him.

That’s more or less how the opening 10 episodes go.  And this is a series comprised of 74 episodes.  I began to wonder, “The premise is interesting, but how in the hell can they keep this show engaging for that long of a duration?  I’m seeing the setup for intrigue and deeper layers indicating that there’s more going on than what we’re currently seeing, but for another 60+ episodes?”

And the next several episodes began to worry me in this regard.  Because despite how the first few episodes seem, this isn’t one of those shows that tells its story in a straightforward manner where we continually follow the lead protagonist most of the time.  No.  For several episode stretches and different intervals, we are introduced to other characters, and follow their stories, like Tenma’s arc during the first act was just one story amidst a bunch of other stories that encompass a giant conspiracy.  In hindsight, this technique worked, but it demands patience from the viewer.  There were times where I went, “Ok, this is nice and all, but what the hell is happening with Tenma!?”  There are times when we leave him and then get introduced to some girl attending a college for a few episodes; or later on are introduced to some child of a rich man trying to become re-aquainted with his father; or follow a cop who’s a recovering drunk.  But after a certain point, they all start to link together.

By the time the series was halfway over, I was down with this style of pacing.  It accomplishes something that I desire in a lot of television shows.  That the main protagonist is not the center of the universe.  There are other pieces in the game that move independent of his actions/activities, who accomplish things that the protagonist is incapable of accomplishing, whether it’s because he’s not in the right place at the right time, or he doesn’t have the skill-set to do this sort of thing (ex: Tenma can’t really fight, and he’s just so-so with a gun, and most importantly he doesn’t know everyone anymore than he has all the answers).  Plus virtually all of these other characters are interesting in their own way, thus I didn’t mind so much that I was spending time with them.

By favorite of these side-characters is easily the detective Heinrich Lunge, who pretty much chooses to have no life outside of his detective work, and can become obsessive with solving cases.  And he has a technique for doing so.  He is able to recall conversations and details with eerie accuracy, like he’s a computer who can record information at will.  Yet his method does have a fault.  Despite being able to recall conversations word-for-word, another character (who is a criminal psychiatrist) points out that Lunge utilizes this technique in a biased manner.  If he has already predetermined a potential outcome, he will emphasize a tone/aura around his recall-ability, such as believing an individual said a line in a certain way (serious, lighthearted, grim, casual, a lie, a truth) when said-individual actually said the line in a different way.  Because as objectively-minded as some people try to be, there will always be an amount of subjectivity to how they perceive things.  Plus he does all his work at the expense of alienating his family; and there were times where I began to sympathize with this guy and begged for him to go to his daughter, a sign of good writing.

And speaking of multi-dimensional characters, to my surprise, Tenma’s bitch-tits fiance ends up showing a sympathetic side to her, though you do have to get pretty far in the show to see it.  And, of course, even the main villain Johan is shown to be multidimensional.  There are no perfect characters in this show, no heroes that aren’t infallible, no villains that are pure evil (even if they do their best to convince themselves and others that’s how they are).

Getting into the character of Johan here, he does become a fascinating character.  First one begins to wonder just how it is he’s able to brainwash/manipulate others into doing his deeds.  Because as we soon find out, he usually prefers not to get his own hands bloody (though he certainly has no qualms about doing so), but rather getting other people to do things for him.  Why?  What is his end goal?  Why is he doing this?  Well, honestly, despite the hopes others have for him (there are organizations who have an interest in Johan, partly because they’ve put some investment into him in the past), he seems more interested in causing destruction simply because he likes manipulating others to see how they will all interact with each other, like interfering with the paths a line of ants would take, forcing them to follow different trails and seeing how they will adapt to new obstacles.  And he is determined to show that no one really deserves to live, that there isn’t really any value in life.  Which is why he became a bit fascinated with Tenma, intentionally bringing him into the game, wanting to see Tenma’s early philosophy on life proven wrong by having Tenma turn that very belief 180 degrees.

He also has an obsession with identity, or more accurately, lack of identity.  Because he feels he himself has none.  Because he is a monster; because his beliefs were built on the foundation of an obscure kid’s book titled, “The Monster With No Name,” something he was read to during his younger years.  On top of that, he was also the subject to multiple experiments done on children, experiments designed to create a new Hitler, ala The Boys From Brazil, but more extreme.  The experiments were designed to make the children intelligent, incredibly disciplined, and very acute.  The main thing they were taught was on observing their surroundings, and learning how to read people, to anticipate how an individual with a certain type of personality would react to various general situations.  Thus the children could grow up to become master manipulators.  And lastly, and this is something implied more than anything else (though there are enough heavy hints dropped to convince me), that Johan wasn’t always a male.  As a very young child, before he was separated from his sister, he used to be a boy, but due to surgery from the organization, he was turned into a boy (and thus to my shock, this series somehow pulled off an LGBT twist that didn’t come off as forced at all, and it was rather brilliant).  It’s at this point that a lot of his questioning of identity and his madness begins to make a lot of sense, ultimately making him one of the more intriguing villains in anime history, with a very tragic backstory.  His innocence was lost early on, thus he believed early on that innocence doesn’t exist.

Though to be fair, it is quite easy for children to lose their innocence.

And since he was trained to be a manipulator (though some in the organization admit that he was a prodigy compared to the other children, which is something that was bound to happen), he finds ways to easily manipulate others.  Because if you observe one for long enough, you find faults in their character, regrets over sins of the past, or having no regrets and thus being prime candidates for doing evil deeds simply because they enjoy it.  There are many faults to be exploited in humanity, and exploit them he does, not for riches, not for fame, but to send a message.

Fascinating stuff, and there are other complexities I haven’t covered yet, but I’ll leave those for readers who wish to seek out the show.  And this would be as good a time as any before reading the rest of this, because now I’m going to spoil the ending (moving from spoilers to uber-spoilers).  Because the ending is why I currently don’t rate the show higher than 3/5.

It’s not that the final outcome in of itself was bad, it’s just some of the bullshit that was done to get there, bullshit that was easily avoidable.  So first off, about halfway through the show, there’s this big muscleman who gets shot and flies down the story of a building and into the smoke below where a fire had broken out.  The way they framed this, the way it was shown, an alarm bell rang in the back of my mind, “He’s going to show up again.  We didn’t see the life go out of his eyes, so he’s coming back.”  That’s anime 101 logic (and most film logic for that matter, but animes pull this shit all the time, and it annoys the fuck out of me because it comes off as insulting my intelligence, what little I have).  So I was (not) shocked to see him show up about a dozen or so episodes later.

“That’s right motherfuckers, you can’t kill me!”

But that’s just the warmup.  During the finale, this bodyguard and Lunge get in a scuffle, and Lunge continues to do this stupid shit that keeps getting bodybuilder to regain the upper hand.  One of these actions was so fucking stupid, the anime didn’t want to shame itself by showing it, so it happens off-screen and is mentioned later (you know what, fuck you, seriously).  “Oh, I let him live and didn’t bother to handcuff him or anything, which allowed him to tackle me while I was walking down this stairs with my back turned to him.  Yeah, it makes me sound like a fucking idiot doesn’t it?  Good thing you didn’t see me being a fucking idiot, considering I’m supposed to be the intelligent one.”

And then, of course, there’s the tip of the finale.  Where the main protagonist and others are face-to-face with Johan, guns pointed, people wounded, emotions running high.  Johan is asking Tenma to end his life, by shooting him in the head.  A part of Tenma doesn’t want to do this, because it’s not in self-defense, and he knows that he will be forever changed if he takes a life as opposed to saving one.  And no one else really wants him to do this other than Johan himself, though many do want Johan to die because of all the lives he has taken.  Long story short, some other semi-random schmuck ends up shooting Johan in the head, which was a lucky shot not only because he had never fired a gun before, but also because he was in a bit of a drunken state.  It’s a pure lazy fucking cop-out, and it results in the show trying to give the happiest ending possible, despite everything that happened prior to this, from episode 1 and onward.  It would’ve been interesting to see how Tenma would’ve handled himself after doing that, but nope, we’re not going to have any of that.

Plus the whole thing just seems naive to me.  And I get what they were going for.  Once you kill, you lose an element of innocence that you will never get back.  I get it.  But the fact remains that if someone had killed this psychopath far earlier on, a shitload of lives would’ve been spared his wrath, and many more would’ve lived.  You can talk about losing innocence all you want, but that is why people exist who are willing to lose that innocence to protect others so that way others won’t lose their own innocence, much less their own lives from others who have no innocence left.  But fuck that, the anime wants you to feel sympathy for this guy and demands that the viewer hopes for a redemption arc for Mr. kills-a-lot.

Seriously, this line is fucking said.  Fuck you lady, what about all the other people he’s killed, you wanna see if they forgive this cocksucker?

So yeah, all that stuff irritated me, and marred what had been a fairly excellent show, making it go from having minor annoyances to major annoyances.  But despite that, the show it still good, has some fascinated scenarios and some thought-provoking concepts and philosophies (up until it fucking simplifies them in the last 2 episodes).  And it is worth a watch.  The things that cause me major irritations may only be minor or insignificant to you.  So, there it is.

Golgo 13: The Professional review

Rated: 3.5/5

“Yes, if only I were like you, devoid of human sentiment.”

Now this!  This is how you do a movie about an assassin! A heartless, emotionless, cold-blooded killer with no sympathy and feels no compassion for anyone, and only speaks when necessary. It’s all about the job and finishing it. None of that, “Romantic interest who reminds him what it’s like to be human again” bullshit is present here. Tackling the themes of emotions (or lack thereof) and the things they can cause us do, and the destruction they cause.

Continue reading

The Last Boy Scout and 8 Man After dual review (football edition)

Are you ready for some football? I’m not. I’ve never really been a football fan. WWF/E, MMA, and Ice Hockey are my preferred sports for viewing. But regardless, it’s difficult to avoid football when it’s America’s most popular sport, and when my dad watches it religiously. Plus there’s the Super Bowl. So I get caught up in a game or two off and on. But lately, as it’s been impossible to avoid for the past several months, these cocksucking players do their kneeling bullshit, to the delight of the coaches apparently, and it’s all for bullshit reasons. So, I’ve decided it fitting to review 2 films where football players get killed on the field.

 

 

Rated: 2.5/5 Yes, I’m implementing a decimal system in my ratings now. Don’t worry, it’s always going to be rounded to the nearest 0.5. There won’t be any 2.1s, 4.7s, etc.

“Now this being the 90s you can’t just walk up to a guy and smack him in the face. You gotta say something cool first, you know what I mean?”

“Yeah, like ‘I’ll be back.'”

“Yeah only better than that. Like if you hit ’em with a surfboard you would say–“

“‘Surf’s up pal!'”

“Yeah, something like that.”

So the film begins with Billy Blanks, playing a football player, taking a pistol out on the field and blowing away a few tacklers before reaching the goal and then blowing his own head off.  Guess he wasn’t shooting any blanks.  Great start!

Anyway, this all starts off the plot of the film, making the viewer wonder, “What? Why?” and how it’s all connected to Bruce Willis’ case. And Bruce Willis here, well, this is one of those roles he could play in his sleep, and it looks like he is playing it in his sleep most of the time. But let’s face it, 90s Bruce Willis could get away with that because he wasn’t old and tired (more than usual) back then, and still oozed charisma and coolness that made everyone want to take on a bald or short-hair look, before neo-nazis made a comeback.

And then there’s Major Payne, played by Damon Wayans. He definitely tries, he makes a legit effort to act well in this role, but he’s just so-so at best.

The film goes into topics about how heartless the NFL corporation is.  That they really don’t care about the players, they only want money, blah blah blah.

To be honest, that’s the best I can describe this movie. So-so. It’s decent and entertaining enough, but I do think it’s good enough to have earned this cult-favorite status. A couple action scenes are fun, but most are just meh. The chemistry and interactions between the two leads aren’t as satisfying as I hoped they would be. Sure it has Bruce Willis and one of the Wayans brothers in it, and sure it also has some faggot named Milo getting butchered by helicopter blades.

Wait a minute…

There’s a gay guy who’s the main villain in a Bruce Willis film and his name is Milo!? Oh, I’m going to have some fun with this.

So Milo plays an asshole who is responsible, either indirectly or directly, for the deaths of a black woman and a police officer in this film. And on top of that he wants to assassinate the Senator.  On top of that, he’s likely jealous of this bromance between Bruce and Damon because he wants to suck Damon’s cock, because there’s nothing like the thick throbbing black NFL player dick.  And lastly, he just might enjoy rap music.  He must be stopped! And if football players can’t stop him, there is only one person who can. Bruce fucking Willis!

So Bruce Willis kills Milo, saves the day, and saves feminists and football players so that can continue bitching and playing. Come to think of it, many, including Roger Ebert, have called this film sexist with its depictions of women. With this one football star trying to force a woman to blow him, that asshole senator whipping a woman just because, and Bruce trash-talking his wife (though in all fairness she is a cheating bitch and she wanted Bruce to trash talk her, so…).

Now for things to get animated.

 

 

 

Rated: 3/5

So this anime is basically a glorified remake of Robocop. It’s not a complete retread of that film, it takes the concept of making a man into a machine in different directions than Robocop did, so it becomes it’s own unique thing. But the plot does revolve around a criminal linked to a corporation taking out a private detective who gets reworked at a “special” hospital and then goes out to fight crime. But that’s where the similarities end.

With that introduction out of the way, let’s get to the part I’ve been wanting to get to. Yes, there is football in this. And it is fucking glorious.

With that out of the way, to be honest, this is actually a pretty decent anime.  It has an intriguing plot that doesn’t treat the audience as stupid.  For a while there, I was thinking the film would try to pretend that we’re not supposed to know who 8 Man is, even though the main protagonist gets (nearly) killed prior to his appearance.  Thankfully, it’s not long after 8 Man’s first appearance that we see the protagonist hacking into a computer terminal using his abilities (in a way that’s also ripped off from Robocop), and we see that he has become a cyborg.

But the similarities don’t stop there (so I lied earlier, sue me).  To my surprise, this also adapts another plot element from Robocop 2, thus in essence becoming a combination of both films.  The bad guys need drugs in order to maintain themselves after getting robotic parts.  Without the drug, their body won’t be able to power their cybernetic parts and will eventually shut down.  Think if it as a necessary shot of adrenaline in order to function.  But like most drugs, there are side effects, such as addiction and going completely fucking crazy and wanting to kill a bunch of people.  Thankfully for 8 Man, he has access to a drug that is more clean and pure, without the bad side-effects.  So unlike Robocop 2, our protagonist needs this drug too in order to function.  The downside to getting “improvements” installed to your body.

But what really surprised me is that the villains aren’t superhuman, in that they can’t be killed by anyone other than 8 Man.  The cops actually take down a few of these thugs.  A bullet to the head (or two) works just fine.  So the film maintains an acceptable amount of believably (by my standards anyway, take that as you will considering this is an anime).

In regards to the plot, there aren’t really any surprises or twists or anything like that.  The film is fairly straightforward, but has enough interesting stuff in it to maintain the viewer’s interest.  Plus, 90s anime animation style is a dead breed, which is a pity.  I miss this style of animation.  It was bad enough that it got replaced with this more cartoony look we’ve had for the past decade, but now it’s getting even worse with this weird CG style which I believe they are doing simply because it’s easier.  No longer is hand-drawn needed.  No longer do we need simple cell-shaded style.  Now we get this weird CG shit.  I wouldn’t take such issue with it if it wasn’t for the fact that it seems to be replacing all other forms.  At least Studio Ghibli is still dishing out some decent styles, for now.

So anyway, if you haven’t seen it, check it out.  It’s worth a watch.

Barbarossa review

Rated: 3/5

Introduction (ie addressing some criticisms of the game)

So there are 2 versions of this game. One is the version which has anime chicks in scantily clad outfits doing some implied and ridiculous sexual gesture. The other version is a more historical version with black and white WWII photos. Regarding the latter, where’s the fun in that?

First of all, I own the anime-chick version, not the historical photograph edition. Some would ask why I would buy such a game. I bought it for a simple reason, spite. I despise all you easily offended politically correct gamers with all of my little black perverted heart. Some of which state that no one should play this game because it is vile, perverted, sexist (sexploitation), pro-lolita, pro-nazi, and glorifies horrible people in a horrible war. That revisiting/addressing WWII should be done in a serious/professional matter, and in no other way. And there’s also arguments along the lines of keeping your sexual fetishes in private. Subject matter like this should not be perverted.

“It amazes me that people who fancy a certain fetish can seriously be upset by the aversion displayed by people who don’t share this fetish.”Simon Mueller

I’m starting to think that political correctness is also a fetish.

You know, stuff like that. It’s less controversial to have a game with images of individuals getting their brains/organs blown out by knives/gunfire/bombs/zombies, but more controversial when there’s any amount of skin shown in any fashion, perverted or otherwise. That’s how it works here in America. Doesn’t help that the girls in this game are under-age.

All you SJWs scared off now?  Good.  This review is for everyone else.  Image by jpwrunyan.

Continue reading