Saturday, May 29, 2010

Project Otaku Powerlevelling: Part 8

Whew! Let's get caught up again. Our first full series this time, hitting 24 episodes.




Having gone through several OVAs that both I and Traveler thought were...below-par, we switched to a series that I had began on my own back when it initially came out in 2005, but never finished it. One of our later additions, I think I mostly added it because I was curious as to just HOW it ended.

For those of you who have heard of this series already, it's a harem, yes. Deal with it. I watch harems sometimes.

Anyways. Maburaho, to me, has quite a bit going for it. To start off, there's only three girls. The absolute smallest harem one can have and still qualify to BE a harem.

As a result, Maburaho's three girls--Miyama Yuuna, Kazetsubaki Kuriko, and Kamishiro Rin, are all given a chance to develop properly. They begin rather stereotypical but eventually grow to be three distinct characters who come to care about the lead for different reasons that all reflect their own characters. Kamishiro Rin, for instance, develops a love for the lead because of how far he's willing to go to help his friends, reflecting her own feelings on the value of being diligent.

But aside from its characters, Maburaho's "twist" on the harem genre is a pretty good one. On this planet, magic both exists and is commonly used. But there IS a catch. From commoners to elites, people have a given number of times they can use magic. Once used up, a person's body...simply turns to dust. For most humans this is not a problem, particularly for the elites in Aoi Academy (where much of the story takes place), where even "normal" students possess uses in the thousands. For our series protagonist (Kazuki), however, only eight uses are alloted before his body turns to dust. However, his eight uses are extremely powerful, due to his bloodline essentially having every legendary magician ever, and it is presumed that Kazuki's child will most likely be one of the most powerful magicians in existence. (Hence the harem-ness.)

The setting forces the series to skip over typical slice-of-life trappings most harems are stuck with, which is to its benefit, honestly. Instead of hopping from one slice of life plot to the next, Maburaho instead features episodes where the protagonist finds his room haunted by a little girl ghost, then goes to another, more typical episode in which everyone helps the "deadly chef" Kamishiro Rin fix a boxed lunch for the fellow she actually likes. (Long story.) The result is, for people who don't mind a harem anime from time to time, Maburaho is never boring for longer than an episode. (In fact, I don't ever recall being actually BORED with an episode besides the first which I'd seen already.)

Another thing I'm particularly fond of in Maburaho is the show's background cast, which is Kazuki's Class 2B. In most slice-of-life series placed in a school setting, the background cast (the students) are basically a collection of generic student stereotypes. (Generally potential story fodder when the writers wish to throw the spotlight outside the main class.) But Kazuki's classmates make up the worst classroom I've seen since Class 3-4. (Shout out to Onizuka.) They gamble, they double-cross other classes, and spend most of their time scheming ways to get rich, and I love ALL of them.

After coming to terms with the fact that few harems attempt realism for their main characters, to see background characters get actual relationship development is depressing at best. Why NOT make their world just as insane as the main characters--it gives the universe a level of consistency.

Most importantly: I approve of this series for taking the normal harem ending and giving it one giant middle finger. We've all seen the typical "I love you all!" ending, and I don't think ANYBODY likes it. (Seems pointless; the series isn't a hentai! That's not a solution!) I won't go into detail, but Maburaho completely avoids it and offers a different answer to the harem question that, while somewhat of a cheat, matches a series that, to that point, offered ghosts, mages, immortals (watch the series), and summoned familiars.

All-in-all, Maburaho's a solid watch. Shouldn't make anyone's Top [number] list, but its definitely worth the time you'll spend finishing it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Project Otaku Powerlevelling: Part 7

For part seven, Traveler and I took out another set of OVAs, though sadly...well...click the jump.


Initially, our next series' were planned to be Gravion and Gravion Zwei. But, we ran into a roadblock:

...Gravion is a terrible series. We REALLY hated the opening song's lyrics, the creator of the Gravion creeped us out, and the animation was terrible. Worse yet, the story was incredibly repetitive. Monster appears, use a weapon. Next episode, new monster appears, weapon from the last ep doesn't work, but its okay there's a NEW weapon and THAT works. Rinse, repeat. The fifth episode had a bad encode, and we took it as the opportunity it was to replace both series with...something not crappy. (Current choices are Melty Lancer and Sora no Kakeru Shoujo.)

Anyways, after realizing we wasted two days on Gravion (long story), we had to make it up somehow: Our answer was to get two OVAs and wrap them up quick to see if we could make a bit of time.



Another 80's anime we picked, trying to dig a bit deeper into history. Before anyone insults our taste, our OVA picks were primarily because we knew we didn't have the time (or the ability to avoid being sidetracked) to finish more than a few 40-50 episode series and the best old ones are long. (Armored Trooper VOTOMS, for instance.) Dirty Pair is also rather legendary to older fans, so we figured, why not?

In all fairness, I WILL say this: Affair of Nolandia is beautifully drawn. For me, its personally hard for me to go back very far with anime. Past about 1981 and the art becomes such a crucial problem that my eyes glaze over upon a mere mention of series made then. Affair of Nolandia does not have to worry about this.

...Too bad it has to worry about everything ELSE. Nolandia has a decent start, with the Twin Angels given the assignment to rescue a little girl named Missnie. They travel to a planet in search of her, then get sent to a forest area known as (of course) Nolandia. What follows is a trip to LSD land, where the girls get trapped in numerous illusions, dreams within dreams (I'd punch whoever caused that when I found them), some weird H-stuff involving tentacles, and some amusing bits where the girls enjoy fun mirages. All to go through 20 minutes the film's runtime apparently did not need, before they find the girl, who created their illusions.

Just as they find her, she gets taken into police custody and its revealed that Missnie killed her own mother. However, something seems wrong to the Dirty Pair, so they follow some leads, do a bit of detective work, and surprise! Kei and Yuri learn the true identity of the villain; a rich guy with Nietzche-esque beliefs (which makes him, much like everyone else who follows the guy, a blithering idiot), who intended to use Missnie (and other kids with her powers) to control the universe.

After this, Affair of Nolandia hits its high point: A dual fight/chase scene, with Yuri chasing after the CEO bad guy, and Kei battling his bodyguard (who turns out to be a cyborg). This is the longest chase scene I've seen in any comic book, movie, or anime, as Yuri cycles through a car, rocket skates, a motorbike AND a bicycle, and finally on FOOT, before the final scene of the movie where the jerk is leaving on an airplane, and she takes it out with one shot from a high-powered rifle. (Yeah, guess she got it on the fuel tank or something.)

Had the movie ended with Kei watching the plane explode, the movie might have been a decent film. But, there's a twist. The stupid psychic brat wakes up from her suspended animation and decides she's REALLY not happy about someone killing the douchebag that was just going to use her, and unites the other psychic beings together, causing massive destruction and eventually destroying the entire island and everyone on it aside from the movie's protagonists, who escape "just in time".

The movie ends with Kei and Yuri wondering if its their fault, lamenting they could not save Missnie, and then saying "at least no one can bother her anymore" before Yuri cheerily tells Kei that she can do the report to their boss this time, and Kei chases her, laughing.

...I'm sorry, what the fuck? Am I the only one here that realizes an entire island FULL of people are fucking DEAD?! We're talking hundreds of thousands, if NOT millions! And they're ALL DEAD. I think the writers, maybe, didn't realize WTF they were doing.

My theory is that they believed they wrote a "cool", sci-fi noir story. It had a lot of classic noir characters, and was your typical "nobody's got clean hands" noir story. And at the end all the characters besides the protagonists die, and we have the protagonists lamenting the most tragic death before attempting to clear their head and move on.

....BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT YOU WROTE. Me and Traveler instead got to witness an island full of people die and the protagonists say, "...Oh well. Would've fallen apart eventually anyway, right?"

I sincerely hope Dirty Pair: TV is better.




One episode OVA that sets up the Mega Man X timeline...I think?

I, have no idea what to say to this except that it attempts to do far too much within the thirty minute timeframe. Its villain seems to have no true purpose behind his actions other than "Look, bad guys blow crap up!", and we're never given a reason to believe he's a bad-ass capable of taking down X anyway.

I'm guessing this was for people who play Mega Man X...but I think X fans might have liked to see the WHOLE first game adapted at least, right?

FOUR bad anime in a row?! What happened to my impeccable anime taste?! Ah well...part 8 coming up soon. Am I doing any better now?

Project Otaku Powerlevelling: Part 6

No need for the opening song, I'm starting the show without credits today. Subject: Variable Geo.




Variable Geo is regrettably, the first series replacement we've had for our project. The plan (if you want to call it that) was to watch V.G. Neo, and we planned to make it the back-up plan in case Pretear sucked. (Of course, we didn't find OUT Pretear sucked until 9, after which point the time sink effect took over...) But as I found links for V.G. Neo, I saw screenshots, and the opening seconds of the opening episode had some guy raping one of the fighters.

...Yeah, not in MY Variable Geo. It was not until I got the chance to do this re-watch that I realized...V.G. is a *very*...not, female-oriented, but, its a universe where the women are plainly in charge. There's no question about this. Even traditionally male roles are given to females.

The protagonist is a female. Her best friend is a female. The first opponent in series like this is generally a dumb-as-a-brick powerhouse male. In this series, while Jun is no idiot, she's STILL the very typical "My First Opponent" character--with a lot more curves. She's even a grappler!

Even though the premise involves defeated opponents stripping, the head of the company who started this tournament isn't some lecherous Jii-san, its a woman--a participant in the tournament herself (who also appens to be abnormally powerful and never loses).

The few males IN the series use female agents (who then take over, pushing the males out of the series to take the star roles), and the one guy that has a significant role in the series is carrying out the will of (guess who) ANOTHER woman. (I'm certain a feminist somewhere could spin this into a series ladies should be highly offended by...but I'm choosing to view the show in a more positive light...sorry.) Even the end credits, filled with nude shots of the fighters, is a bit different. Instead of blatant fanservice, there's a...tastefulness to the images that also does a great job of being representativeness of each character's personalities.

And don't even get me STARTED on Reimi Jahana, who goes through the series with her own personal bishounen sextoy. (I never noticed how domme-y Reimi was until this rewatch. O_O)

To see men have control over a woman--even some no-name fighter--feels too contrary for the Variable Geo franchise I'm so used to. (Even if that franchise is only three episodes long.)

In any case; I love this series. Its three episodes that are rapidly paced, with the action not slowing for even a moment. The OVAs link together so well that they actually could have easily been one movie, Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz-style. Its packed with a crapload of fights, and it actually watches like a composite fighting game plot, though I never realized it until this re-watch. You notice little things, like how the characters have their own "defeated" phrases, and how the plot makes absolutely no sense at all but would work perfectly for some fighting game. (Finding the perfect warrior to place your spirit in, and you're holding a tournament to do that--what a coincedence...)

In any case, VG definitely cleansed my palate, and it was nice to see a series put its animation budget to use for something besides bouncing boobies.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Project Otaku Power-Levelling: Part 5

So I've been doing this for two weeks now, and I've yet to run into a crappy series. Are my tastes that good? As it turns out...


No, they're not. Or at least, my prediction powers are not that good. The marathon continued with this little...ugh.



I'm not sure HOW Pretear got added, but for whatever reason, my partner-in-crime Traveler (who really needs a site) suggested we should watch it next. I agreed, but with the caveat that, if we hated the first three episodes, we would throw it out and watch Variable Geo instead.

...But the opening third was actually not that bad. Himeno Awayuki is the Pretear, the girl who can make the red snow, white. The Pretear is the only being alive who can battle against the Princess of Disaster, a being that uses evil seeds to steal Leafe, the essence of life on Earth and on Leafenia. As a result, the Leafe Knights (protectors of Earth) are forced to find the Pretear when the Princess of Darkness begins to make moves to destroy the planet with the tree Fenrir.

Himeno starts out as a great character. Rather than be the typical female character, Himeno is a very spirited character. She's a bit of a klutz, but she's also a pretty impressive martial artist. Her home life is weird right now as she's living with a "merged family". Her father married a rich business owner with two sisters, and the whole family is learning to adjust. She's having trouble adjusting, but hides it well. The biggest problem she has, is a feeling of being needed. A great theme to work with--everyone can identify with it, right?

Being a mahou shoujo series, initially I thought someone would have to twist her arm to get her to save the world, but I was wrong. There was a twinge of Nanoha (the bar for all mahou shoujo...and action-oriented anime in general) as Himeno not only accepts, but almost *demands* the right to be the Pretear and help save the planet. Me being me, I was impressed.

This impressed feeling carried as I learned the Pretear actually merges with a Knight to use her powers, and has to do the fighting herself. I LIKED this--I've never been a fan of protagonists in action series who play vital, non-fighting roles. Your series is ABOUT action. It is neither entertaining nor logically sound for you to be unable to battle, just because you can find the jewel shards.

The series continues after she gains her powers at a pretty good pace. Watching the characters interact is rather entertaining. I was thinking this would be the shoujo series I could recommend to my fellow guy anime fans.

Its still very much a shoujo series, with Himeno getting to play dress up in different outfits every time she "Prets" with a different Leafe Knight. (My favorite is when she becomes Flame Pretear, looking like a member of the Gatchman. Awesome!)

...And then episode six comes along. This is where Himeno starts to ask questions, and Pretear's weak spot appears: The plot.

From the beginning of the series, the story had been dropping hints about the fate of the last Pretear, and its rather obvious that our current villain IS the previous Pretear. We've seen that plot before. The questions never come from the "What", they always come from the "Why?" My initial thought was that a Pretear, after her job is done, is stuck with the awful fate of becoming the Princess of Darkness because of some reason or another.

...If only the story went that way. Pretentious? Sure. What we got instead, was the story of a girl who became the Pretear and saved the world...but turned evil because the Wind Knight wouldn't fuck her.

...Its like the writers realized the series wasn't girly enough, so they shoved in a completely random romance. However, I'm okay with this. The series doesn't suffer very terribly from one forced romance.

...Its when they begin to force ANOTHER down my throat, that I start to grumble. Despite the Wind Knight turning the last girl away, this one apparently is self-sufficient enough for him to turn completely guy-dependent. His vow as a Wind Knight made him turn the last Pretear down, but apparently for THIS one its okay? That bugs me, for some reason. I'm not certain why, but it does. But even with this, the show is still an average series with a potential for greatness in the finale.


Our hero lives in a house with two sisters. One's older, and a spoiled brat that plays pranks constantly on her new sister. The younger one, though, is quiet, stoic, and very clearly struggling with her life in general, particularly since she lost her father years ago. The only person she feels she can confide in is a radio personality who happens to be the Knight of Sound. And her existence, is why this series goes from average..to fucking terrible.

This girl is clearly in need of help, and every time someone ignores her in a significant way, I found myself hating the series a little bit more. This may be because of the initial time this happens. You're about...seven or so episodes in, the hero (Himeno) is depressed because the knights lied to her, terrified she's going to become evil, and is basically wandering about the city in the daze, when she runs into her equally distraught sister. They begin talking and slowly start to bring one another out of their respective funks, and it seems like a genuine friendship is formed.

...And then Himeno sees the Knight of Wind, Hayate, who's been looking for her. And suddenly... "Sorry sis, but I REALLY wanna fuck this guy! Later!"

Okay, I'm paraphrasing, but at least THAT'S honest. She literally drops her own sister like a stone to cuddle with the Knight of Wind. It wouldn't be so bad if she hated her family, but during the early episodes she talks about how important she feels it is for her new family to get along. Family's important to her, but she ditches the one person that COULD accept her to be with her new boyfriend?

I really should have seen this series' stupidity coming. The transformation should've tipped me off. When Himeno and a Knight merge, it basically looks like a sex scene, as they both become nude and she just barely avoids bumping crotches. (Which is good, since about half the Knights are shota.) But she doesn't avoid looking somewhat sexually satisfied afterwards. Oh, and the energy for her weapons comes from her groin area. Thanks symbolism. I didn't ORDER a ton of bricks, but since they're free and already here....

Ugh. It gets worse. The powers of the villain work off pain and sorrow (of course), so she goes after the sister. Now not only is it necessary to help her, but it would go some ways toward saving the world.

...But nope. The hero continues to ignore her while attempting to find Princess of Disaster, who (coincedentally) lives at the hero's house and spends her freetime mind-screwing her sister. Of course, they notice it eventually, but then, the series makes its final screw-up, throwing the series totally off the rails.

Out of nowhere, after nine episodes, we learn the Knight of Sound (who the Princess of Disaster almost destroyed), Sasame, is in love with the former Pretear/the villain. And decides he no longer cares about the Knights, and abandons them to be with her.

First of all, this not only is not even HINTED at, its completely contrary to the way the character has acted up to this point! Suddenly, with no build-up, he decides he's deeply in love with her, and leaves the knighthood to serve her. He goes the whole nine too--attacking his friends and following every command the Princess gives him.

There's TWO problems with this: Its blatantly obvious the Princess doesn't love him, and more importantly--if he truly felt this strongly about her, shouldn't he have said something about it BEFORE, and maybe ALL of this wouldn't be happening? The series even ADDRESSES these in a conversation between the two, almost as if it is aware of how absolutely banal the writing has become. It does that TWICE.

Just after the Princess abandons the Knight (before later taking him to use him in her plans), Himeno outright ADMITS that she might have done the same thing. Abandon all that's important for love--because no one has the right to tell someone they cannot fall in love.

...Before we get into just how damaging that is to say to young girls that might be watching this series, I'd just like to say: DO THE WRITERS NOT REALIZE THEY HAVE JUST MADE THE HERO CONDONE SIDING WITH THE VILLAIN?!

And y'know, it wouldn't be as questionable, had it been the Knight of Wind. If the reason he hadn't decided to be with the last Pretear was because it was forbidden, but had now changed his mind. But that would have ruined the relationship between Himeno and Hayate; yet another anime immature relationship formed by a mutual dislike of each other--because that's what adults do when they're in love, constantly mock, attack, and insult one another.

Then they could've set up a mature, equally supportive relationship between Himeno and the Knight of Sound. But that's not Inuyasha enough, so let's go with the fanfic relationships instead.

Now, I'd also like to point out that, this is the message the series is sending to young girls: Your man doesn't need to stand for anything. Its okay if he throws EVERYTHING else away from his friends to his honor so long as he cares about you.

You could tell me the show doesn't condone that...but the series Hero, our moral compass, ACCEPTS this relationship as regrettable, but "not so bad", so...it kinda does.

This is nine episodes into the series. By this time, both I and my partner Traveler are screaming at our screens, completely PISSED because it was a decent series up until this "twist", and we've wasted nearly three and a half hours of our life. With only 4 episodes left, we decide...hey, screw it, might as well finish.

If you can't tell, the show never manages (or even attempts) to redeem itself.

My absolute favorite part is where the villain finally enacts her final plan, completely breaking the girl she had been mind-screwing for the past five episodes or so as she embraces the Knight of Sound, the only person the girl felt any connection to, in a deep, "passionate" kiss. The girl becomes catatonic, while the family wonders why she's even like that in the first place. This from:

- A father in law who, perhaps an episode ago, noticed the girl hadn't left her room in ages and attempted to talk to her, but got no answer. He decided, "I'll come back later."

- An older sister who spends most of her time ignoring the girl in place of playing jokes on her NEW sister that constantly backfire.

- A mother who, when the girl begins to talk about how she truly feels, wonders why she's being so immature, and says, "You've always my strong little girl who I was able to lean on and didn't ask for anything in return." (The girl's response? Same as mine. "There's no person that exists like that!")

- A sister-in-law that abandoned her for a guy that she had been whacking and insulting for the entire series up to that point when it was obvious the girl needed help.

SHE'S catatonic? So am I, this family is the worst. They try to make it up later but by this point they've broken the barrier that makes me no longer care about them.

Oh, and the series ending? Himeno becomes Final Form Pretear and defeats Fenrir, the tree that lives off Leafe, then revives everyone else in the series who'd died, or nearly died. How did she manage this? Because, she forgave everybody.

...Excuse me? She...forgave everybody? I think they forgot which character they were using. Y'know what? I don't care. I'm done with this series, and I've spent WAYYYYYY too much time bitching about it. Consider it my Final Vent. (...That series kinda sucked too, but at least its main character TRIED...)






Saturday, May 15, 2010

Project Otaku Powerlevelling: Part 4

Three more of these (including this), and I'll be all caught up. Here we go!






Another of the 80's anime series I chose. My first thought upon seeing the description for this series is... Who thought THIS up, and how come no one told me?? A single episode OVA, Gakuen Tokusou Hikaruon is pretty much..the anime Metal Hero. Seriously. The kid does a henshin into an outfit that looks exactly like Juspion, his bike has super-powers (Super. Bike. The villains don't stand a chance.), and the battles take place in alternate realities (a part of many of the first Metal Heroes).

Within a mere thirty minutes, Hikaruon managed to give me everything. Introduced the main character, his sidekick (a hot teacher...apparently), a conflict with the villains, a highly creative fight scene, and a resolution. I almost thought it would cop out and go cliffhanger on me a la Eien no Aseria, when both the rescue fodder *and* the female sidekick had been kidnapped and there was only five minutes left, but they pulled it off.

Hikaruon is a visual explanation of why an animated Henshin Hero would be awesome. The visual budget is, on the basis of being animated, much higher. More creative settings can be used, more fantastical fight scenes, and the mood can be manufactured easier.

Its not a perfect OVA; there's no explanation for how the kid got his power, why the sidekick is working with him, or where the series' villains come from. But with only a single episode, they leaped right into things rather than beat us over the head with exposition--it worked rather well. A great way to spend thirty minutes if you're waiting for a short period of time and have a laptop, and a must-see if you're a Henshin Hero/Toku fan.




I picked this to be another nineties series, and because I saw it on the previews when I used to buy ADV tapes, and I was always curious about it. When I finally got to see it, though...

What...the heck. I wasn't expecting high art from this series, but...uhm, seriously??Debutante Detective Corps watches like...not even a pilot. More like, a test pilot (joke not intended). Its like, the creators WANTED this to be a show, so they threw together as much bad-ass shit as possible into a half-hour and shopped it around to broadcast networks going, "See? Look how AWESOME this could be!"

As a result, we're shown a school and given no reason to care about it until these random girls (the stars of the show) pop up out of nowhere making the most flashy entrances possible--each one growing successively more ridiculous.

Directly after this, the girls meet up in a club house somewhere, and suddenly learn there's a terrorist group after the five girls for...some flimsy bullshit terrorist reason. (In all honesty...that's pretty realistic.) This is apparently, bad, because the girls' combined worth is Japan's National Budget. (No, wait! Its Japan's GNP! ...This is actually a correction they made in the show.)

Around this point, as the cops are carefully guarding the girls to make certain no one kills them, we begin to wonder WTF this series is going to be about. Its rare that an OVA becomes a series, but...they're still BUILT like they could be, so...I mean, one can't build a series around five rich broads being in danger every episode, can one?

...And then, about the halfway mark...we learn these girls are all apparently, superheroes. I don't remember names, but check the picture and you'll know who I'm talking about:

1.) The Meganekko (a term referring to girls wearing glasses), apparently is a *master* of disguise. And I don't mean, she can wear loose clothes and fool people that have bad vision into thinking she's a guy. No, I mean she can look exactly like other characters in the show, and perfectly alter her voice to sound like other people. This, is how they escape the cops to go screw around.

2.) The tough, spunky girl (IE, the only one with short hair, naturally) is one of those super hackers you tend to see in mid-90's series back when people had no idea how computers work. In all fairness, this one's more believable--they get attacked upon leaving and are forced into another building, where a bomb is waiting for them hacker girl gets to disarm. (But, she can't *quite* get it.)

3.) The blonde girl was a mystery. She had no obvious stereotype, so I had no idea who she was until our heroes tried to escape the booby-trapped building and were attacked by snipers...and she suddenly, out of her tight/skimpy outfit, puts together a *large*, high-powered fucking hunting rifle. She's the Weapons Nut. Right. So she takes out the sniper, and off they go to escape, with only one minute left on the clock.

4.) The loli in the cosplay outfit becomes important next. As it turns out, she's (of course) an impressive martial artist. That helps when the protagonists are attacked by a giant (literally) named the general. Whom she proceeds to embarass by smacking him around, before he...uhm...grows even taller like this is Super Sentai and she solo'd the Monster of the Week. (Make my Monster...GROW!) He proceeds to beat the hell out of her, before the loli reveals she's from the Yu Yu Hakusho school of martial arts, ditching the weights on her arms and stealing Genkai's Spirit Wave to defeat him.

5.) The last girl, the ojou-sama in the front of the picture with the long hair turns out to be a "paranormal expert" and a quack. ...So we think, at least. Until she suddenly fires the Kamehameha wave at a fighter jet(!!) attacking her. She misses, but pulls out a tuning fork that "controls" the fighter jet, making it crash...right into the building with the bomb.

...And I'll stop there. I realize I may've spoiled most of the plot for this one, but...let's be honest. This is a PWP (Plot? What Plot?) story at its best, and even from the descriptions its obvious you're better off seeing it for yourself.

Personally? Its like they shoved everything I've ever thought was awesome into one series with cute girls as the focus to keep my attention. This, like Hikaruon, should have been a series--has very little chance at being a GOOD series, but entertaining? DEFINITELY.

I'm certain the plotting would have been...somewhat better given more than thirty minutes, and the ability to leap from genre to genre (from hardcore shonen fighting to serious military ops) might have been a breathe of fresh air during the nineties, which as I recall was rather obsessed with fantasy stories.

Anyway, just two more series to catch up on, now. Almost there! (The next one, however...*growls*...)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Project Otaku Power-Levelling: Part 3

Part 3 in your mouth! Swallow, BITCHES!



Ah, humorous urban colloquialisms. Anyway, let's get to it. My brain froze for a bit, but I'm back with the reboot and hopefully coherent thoughts on this series. A little behind so here's me *almost* catching up. Friday night/Saturday morning I marathoned Mobile Police Patlabor with my trusty friend Traveler.

Mobile Police Patlabor


This series is straight out of the eighties. Not in a bad way, either. The OVA is not an action series, so it relies on the characters' relationships to make it through seven 30 minute episodes. And, to be honest, it works well for them. The first episode is somewhat boring, but after the characters are introduced properly, the other six episodes are a breeze.

...Such a breeze I performed a marathon on all seven episodes in a single night after coming home last week on a Friday after midnight. >_<

Patlabor reminds me of Gunsmith Cats: Both the premise *and* the show is set up to allow for long-form plots and self-contained stories, but use the more self-contained stories for the purposes of not overstretching a short episode count.

Fortunately unlike Gunsmith Cats, Patlabor is allowed to "breathe" in a full-length television series later on, because these characters are awesome. From Chief "Serious Guy" Sasaki to Captain "Laid Back Guy" Goto to trigger-happy Ohta, these characters feel like real police officers more than anime characters. Most of my enjoyment of this series came from watching this squad interact with each other.

...Which is good, since about the middle of the series, I think the writers have mistaken the show for Ultraman, 'cause suddenly the criminal cases are over and the team is dealing with undersea "Loch Ness" monsters and ghosts for 2 eps. (The ghost thing is awesome though..)

The end of the series makes up for it, though. A three part finale that sees the team take down a terrorist. Its an intense ninety minutes, balancing drama with the Patlabor style that by now you must have come to love.

All-in-all, the OVA series of Patlabor was awesome. Not the mech series I wanted, but a welcome surprise nonetheless.

The Five Colored Warriors Return!

According to Variety, Power Rangers has returned to its original owner, Saban. This is interesting for a couple of reasons, but first...


If I haven't made it clear by now, I'm a *huge* fan of Super Sentai, essentially the original, Japanese series from which Power Rangers is adapted. I could write out a list a mile long as to WHY I enjoy Sentai, or I could show you this, the roll call for 2007's Jyuken Sentai Gekiranger, versus 2008's Power Rangers: Jungle Fury.



Sentai:
- Poses look like actual martial arts stances (they aren't, but still)
- Beautiful music playing in the background, almost orchestral
- Descriptive phrases during their poses explaining the difference in each character's martial arts philosophy that is almost poetic.

Power Rangers:
- Random poses that look like...every other pose you've ever seen in Power Rangers.
- Generic rock music in the back ground.
- Phrases that say...fuck-all about who each character is.

Feel free to rag on me for liking Sentai. But I'll punch you in the face if you say they're exactly the same.

Anyways, I'm mentioning this because, as said before, I kinda LIKED the Saban era of Power Rangers as a kid. But I'm neutral about the news as a whole. There are a lot of fans of Power Rangers, and I am certain most of them are excited about this.

I'm more interested in seeing whether or not Saban has an interest in releasing the Sentai versions in America, starting from the pre-Power Rangers series (yes, Super Sentai is *far* older, for the uninitiated). I'd even pay slightly inflated prices for many of the early ones. (JAKQ, the 1984-1986 series, 1988's Turboranger...)

Probably, this is a pipe dream. The people who would buy Sentai sets would not number anymore than a few thousand, most likely not enough to be worth it to Saban, given Power Rangers pulled in 5 billion dollars. Oh well.

This is ALSO notable because, apparently NICK is ordering the episodes. Between this and Dragon Ball Kai, methinks other children's networks may need to start paying attention.

Personal opinion: Find writers that care to create new, connected seasons. It kills the Sentai comparisons that plagued the Disney years. May also net more fans, as well.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Project Otaku Power-Levelling: Part 2

It continues! This one's a bit shorter. I'll be going by what I actually finished on a given night, so this time its just one addition. I'd intended to do more than one, but I got invited to see Iron Man 2. (Thought it was great; see it for yourself.)


Anyways! My second night involved finishing Gunsmith Cats before I left home.

Gunsmith Cats

Right back to the 90's again for an OVA that's well-known by anyone who started watching anime pre-Gundam Wing, or just anyone that enjoys knowing their history.

Another example of how researching the series somewhat would be helpful--both I and my watching partner Traveler believed the series was *actually* about catgirls! Can't say I wasn't disappointed (slightly), but I'd be lying if I said I cared after episode one.

Watching this OVA, I suddenly longed for a return to stuff like this. We got fanservice without being beaten over the head with it. The girls were cute without being preteens (I don't mind this stuff but eventually it gets WAY old), and the action was well-choreographed and frequent.

I wish there were more of it, but really Gunsmith Cats is several steps over and above the last two OVAs. It introduces characters, develops them, keeps a running continuity without introducing elements that stand no chance at being followed up on, and introduces a villain capable of being a credible threat and got rid of them in a respectable manner, all in three episodes.

Oh, and the characters were LIKABLE. This is important. In this age of twintails, no female character over the age of 16 is ever likable without having serious problems. Its almost jarring, really.

Hopefully some day they'll do a TV series of this--knowing what can be done in animation now, plus this plot--it would be freaking legendary.

That's all for now. I've got two more of these in me, plus possibly a three-part series that's really just nostalgia flashbacks--depends on how much I want to spend the time on writing them, honestly.

Project Otaku Power-Levelling: Part 1

With explanations out of the way, let's get started on the first night of my marathon.


My first night involved the OVAs Gestalt and Eien no Aseria. I was excited to watch these, but truth be told...they were kinda letdowns.

Gestalt

Gestalt is one of about a billion fantasy anime ideas that get shoved into OVA format and never goes anywhere. I'm not sure what I expected out of it, but I wanted better than a "tournament of the demi-gods" and a priest going on a long journey to find out a blatantly obvious truth. The thing is, Gestalt kinda does that thing I hate about OVAs. It sets up a lot of plot points that would take several episodes to play out, while the writers are already aware most won't be able to pay off.

The one part I did enjoy was Ouri's (click the link) introduction. The character has a Silence spell cast on her, so she talks with text boxes, RPG-style. Its simultaneously hilarious and cute. The priest seems likable enough, but only as a side character. I've never been big on action series where the main character is just a bystander whenever fights come and a side character has to save them, and that's what this was and would have remained.

A positive thing I can say about Gestalt, too, was that the most pertinent issues DID get resolved, even if it had more story to be told. The story ends with the priest and Ouri having saved a kingdom from a dark elf and a demi-god before heading off to new, unseen adventures. We'd like to know more, but at least we know how that particular story ended. I wish I could say that for my other pick of the night.

Eien no Aseria

This anime gives me a headache. I didn't know anything about it going in--I hadn't even read MAL's synopsis, I just thought the art was pretty and it was a short, fantasy anime that might be nice to waste an hour watching.

My mistake. To start, fantasy worlds by way of parallel universes is rarely my bag. Then there's the fact that we're not allowed to like any of the characters. The main character just reacts to events, rather than using his strength to forge his own path, so he gets bullied by some dick-ish King and his even more dick-ish daughter while they threaten his sister.

They ask him to use what is CLEARLY an evil sword so the entire two episodes I spent screaming: "Hey douchebag! Your sword's EVIL! Ditch it before that bites you in the ass!" He NEVER listens.

The series raises an interesting issue with the idea of using summoned spirits to fight battles instead of humans--how it can basically lead to endless no-win battles that destroy lives for no reason. No one even knew anything about the warring kingdom--which, honestly, has been used by far deeper stories than this series. But again: Episode count of two. So there's really no time to get into that. I'm fine with that, but...

The story ends with some anonymous villains kidnapping his sister after an attack on the kingdom the protagonist has been assigned to protect, and him continuing to help despite the death of the king, so they'll help him get his sister back.

...I'm sorry, WHAT? You CAN'T end your story that way. Its bad enough to ignore all the philosophical questions raised, but to refuse to at LEAST solve something THAT huge? Why even bother?!

Ugh. Yeah. Hopefully my remaining series are more interesting than this.


Project Otaku Power-Levelling: Prologue

Y'know, normally I don't ascribe the term "otaku" to myself. Western anime fans have kinda made it their own version of the word "nigga". After all, in Japan, the term is a perjorative few care to be described with, but Western fans have taken on the term as one of endearment to describe each other.

But with my current project...there's just no other way to explain what I'm doing aside from power-leveling in the game of Otaku.



See, the week of finals, for reasons that can only be called "stress-induced insanity", I decided that I would attempt to finish fifty anime over the course of the summer.

Of course, a goal like this is rather lofty--even impractical if one has other things they feel like getting done. Like, video games, reading comics books or going outside...

So my list had to be carefully planned, if I wanted to finish *and* get other stuff done during my first summer away from college. Basically this means I stuffed about half my list with 1 and 2-3 episode OVAs, while another third happen to be 12 episode half-season anime.

So as not to lack on history, I decided to go back and watch some 80's and 90's series--ten of each decade at the very least. (Those made up the majority of the OVAs, since many of the best series back then WERE OVAs.)

From the time I started the marathon last week to school's start, I had just over 100 days. With 50 anime to finish, that means I have to finish an anime every two days, and as I make my way through, I'll be posting brief paragraphs discussing what I thought of each one.

Now if I can finish these, I'll just have to watch...420 more series to clear the Plan to Watch section of MyAnimeList. ...Yay.

Edit:

My list, for those who cannot wait to find out. This is not the order I'm watching it in, just the order in which I picked them.

1.) Macross Plus
2.) Chrome Shelled Regios
3.) Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS
4.) Kiddy Girl-and
5.) Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam I - Heir to the Stars
6.) Pretear
7.) Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam II - Lovers
8.) Mai-Otome
9.) Genshiken
10.) Genshiken 2
11.) Gunsmith Cats
12.) Eien no Aseria
13.) Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito
14.) Melty Lancer
15.) Sora no Kakeru wo Shoujo
16.) Juusenshi Gulkeeva
17.) Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam III - Love is the Pulse of the Stars
18.) Mai-Otome Zwei
19.) Mai-Otome 0~S.ifr~
20.) Coyote Ragtime Show
21.) Sakura Wars OVA
22.) Variable Geo
23.) UFO Princess Valkyrie
24.) Mobile Suit Gundam F91
25.) Break Blade
26.) Aoi Umi no Tristia
27.) Gestalt
28.) Ryuseiki Gakusaver
29.) Ruin Explorer
30.) Iczer-One
31.) Compiler
32.) After War Gundam X
33.) Code-E
34.) City Hunter: .357 Magnum
35.) Dirty Pair
36.) Mega Man Maverick Hunter X
37.) Lupin III vs. Detective Conan
38.) Mobile Police Patlabor (OVA)
39.) Gakuen Tokusou Hikaruon
40.) Gunbuster
41.) You're Under Arrest! OVA
42.) Del Power X Bakuhatsu Miracle Genki!
43.) Meitantei Holmes
44.) Dangaioh
45.) Dirty Pair: Affair of Nolandia
46.) Debutante Detective Corps
47.) Maburaho
48.) BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad
49.) Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu
50.) Yozakura Quartet

Whew!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Finals

Ahh, the first Wednesday of [my] summer.

I've been out of school for about four years, and finally returning I gotta say: Nothing's changed. That first week of summer after you've finished the Spring semester always feels amazing.


It's not just about the break. Its the feeling of accomplishing something. Whether its your first year of high school or the last semester of your senior year, or in my case, the first semester of my freshman year--it just feels GOOD to say, "I did it. They threw their best at me, and I handled it."

It helps of course when your final grades are three As and a B (technically four As...they knocked off a letter grade in my Psych class for a lack of extracurricular work in that course), but even if you just made all Cs, it still feels good.

Summer has been missing that for me, while I was out of school. In fact, EVERYTHING was missing that for me while I was out. Holidays, weekends...none of it mattered to me because every day was part of a "break" for me.

You think that sounds cool, but it really isn't. I don't exactly live in a big town and my friends aren't big party-goers--eventually the only thing left to do is play video games and watch television. And as I was broke...I didn't get so much with the video games, and as I've mentioned in a few dozen articles, television SUCKS now.

To tell you the truth, a great deal behind my reasoning for breaking down and going to college, even without a firm direction in my life, was...I was BORED. Up until October (I'd already registered for school by then anyways) I was living out in the boonies with no internet, so with no way to download anything over 30MB, I was stuck with endless reruns of Scrubs and Phineas and Ferb. (Great shows but that's not the point.)

In any case, it is with a renewed love of summer that I write this post, faithful readers. Time to get cracking on all the projects I've got planned for the next three months. I've got a wall covered in papers telling me what comics I'm behind on, what anime I want to watch (a 50 part list), what J-Drama I'll be trying out, several movies I missed the past few months, the cartoons and series I'm keeping up with on a weekly basis, the manga series I'm keeping with as well, and the video games I'm supposed to beat.

Yep. I'll be going back to school somewhat deprived of sleep, but this time I'll be excited about it, at least.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Power Rangers Zeo: Stronger than Before!

Honestly, I'm not usually for internet videos. They tend to represent the internet in a visual form: Mean-spirited, and nowhere NEAR as funny as they think they are.

But, while I was surfing on HJU, I ran across this video by Linkara from AtopTheFourthWall (great name) entitled History of the Power Rangers. For whatever reason, this blogger decided to go through each of the seventeen Power Rangers series, one by one, doing a cross between a description and a review of each one.

Initially, I thought it would be yet another "Abridged" deal, and he'd just toss out as many harsh criticisms as he could find about each show, and given that for some people, somehow, its cool to diss Power Rangers, I figured it'd get pretty bad. But I watched the first one anyways.

...Surprisingly, I was completely wrong. While I expected a mocking of the biggest part of my childhood, I got an honest, analytical look at Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Yeah. Read that twice. He explored the good characters (the Rangers), the bad (Rita and her army), even the side characters (Bulk and Skull!). He even talked about the themes present in the first season. I didn't even know Power Rangers HAD themes! (Granted, its been 15+ years since I saw the first season.)

But you know, that wasn't really enough to warrant an article on JiH until I saw him do Power Rangers Zeo. Check it:



See, when I was a child, I was a huge fan of Power Rangers. I mean, to a ridiculous extent. I had the Power Rangers bedspread, I kept two posters of the original team of Power Rangers (morphed and unmorphed) on the wall right in front of my bed. I had the entire team of action figures--both at 6" and 9"--and their laser gun. I remember working extra hard in kindergarten to get all S+ (remember that) because my mom had bought me the Megazord, but wouldn't give it to me until I got all S+ on my report card. It was my favorite toy even years later when they brought out the other Megazords.

I spent years scouring Wal-Marts and Toys R'Uses for the Rangers individual weapons. I finally found them just before the Power Rangers movie came out during a trip to Atlanta with my mother. I begged my mom to buy the pack of them, because I thought the crappy Wal-Mart in my small town would never sell them. (...I may've been right. I don't recall ever seeing them there.)

And of course, I never missed an episode. From the first episode where the team brushed off Zordon as being some crazy computer, to the first time they introduced Tommy the Green Ranger. (I would, of course, eventually beg my mom to buy me the Dragonzord. ...Never got that Dragon Dagger though!) I even remember spending the night at my aunt's house (she lived right up the road from us) and watching a new episode of Power Rangers in which they created a "new" formation of the Megazord with the Dragon Zord as the base. I rushed home and got the pieces of the new combo I hadn't brought with me so I could see if you could actually put it together that way. (You could!)

I remember marveling when they introduced Zedd as the new villain, wondering how the Rangers could beat a guy who could even steal control of their own zords. It was a two-parter aired in Primetime, and I thought it was the pinnacle of television writing. (What else would a seven year old think? He took the Tyrannosaurus!!) I even watched when they switched out my favorite Ranger Jason (and those other two, I guess...) for Rocky, Adam, and Aisha. I was angry at the show, but I kept watching--pestering my mom to go to the movie theatre to see their film. (For the record, their movie zords sucked, but I loved the costumes and the cockpit designs.)

I spent my formative years, from 5-9, watching the Power Rangers. It was my favorite television show, and they were my favorite heroes.

...So imagine my surprise when, at the end of season three, they destroyed the zords, blew up the Command Center, and completely took away the team's powers once and for all. I couldn't believe it; the bad guys had won! I had no idea how they were going to get out of this one, and then...



You couldn't have found a more excited, more irritated kid. "What is it!? What's happening!? WHAT'S COMING?!"

It would be several months before I found out what, exactly, was coming, but you'd better believe I was home from school--on time--to see the first episode of Power Rangers Zeo. From the very beginning, they got me with their opening:

(Sadly, I have to link you because every single douche that uploaded the video disabled embedding.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vmUyduQYsw

This was something completely different. For three years we'd had the same suits, the same opening, the same villains. It was consistent...familiar. Their main power-ups were with zords and maybe that metallic armor ("It's freaking glitter!"), but the rest remained the same. With Zeo, we had something completely different.

With the opening episodes, the old villains were gone, the old powers and zords were lost, and aw hell, you heard Zordon in the clip above.

Things would forever be different, and there was no turning back. In many ways, Zeo represented everything I loved in Power Rangers. Cool suits, cool weapons and cool robots (Zeo had the best robots aside from the original season, to be honest), of course, but it also represented the best of the pre-Lost Galaxy era, with their interconnected plotlines from season to season. Some heroes would occasionally retire, but by that time the guys who you once viewed as "the new kids" were suddenly like old friends, and veteran heroes. And while it seemed there would always be a new threat, stronger than the last...you knew the heroes would rise to the challenge. It made you feel like the Power Rangers universe...really was, one cohesive universe. (...A surprisingly dark universe, as we would learn in A Zeo Beginning. Apparently the ENTIRE FREAKING GALAXY has already fallen, and the last remaining planet just happens to be Earth. Yep, the last line of defense is apparently "teenagers with attitude".)


Even the writing took a step up around this time, laying seeds for different plotlines and letting them play out over several episodes--or even several years. (The United Alliance of Evil doesn't really seem too important in Zeo's run, but BOY does that change during the latter half of Turbo and for *all* of In Space.) They even gave the mystery ranger thing another go, with far superior results. The White Ranger mystery only lasted for maybe an episode or two, and even then the primary candidate was obvious. The Gold Ranger, however? What a sucker-punch!


Speaking of the Gold Ranger, the person who would eventually use the Golden Staff is right here:





And that pushed the series from "awesome" on into "...Greatest season EVER!"

Eventually Power Rangers would ditch all that and take a cue from Sentai, with a complete cast change from season to season. Its up to you as to whether you think this was for the best, but for me, Power Rangers lost something irreplaceable after that. There's no denying it worked (Power Rangers would continue for another 10 years, after all), but I feel like it was a lot easier to view Power Rangers as its own series back when there was a single continuity, as opposed to the past few years where many have viewed it as a cheap knock-off of the originals.

Anyway, I'll be following History of the Power Rangers from now on, but I had to discuss what was a central part of my childhood because...well, its my blog and I can do things like that. Hope you enjoyed it, and hopefully it caused you to have a fond trip into your own memories.