Monday, October 31, 2016

Anime Weeklies: Dragon Ball Super

This Vegeta pic is my reaction to most Dragon Ball Super episodes: slightly annoyed indifference.

The good side to Dragon Ball Super, lately: Vegeta punching everything in its stupid face.

The bad side to Dragon Ball Super, lately: ...EVERYTHING ELSE. 

Zamasu and Goku Black are basically villain versions of Boring Invincible Protagonists.  At a certain point, it's not even realistic to see the heroes triumph when the villains keep coming up with more powerful techniques that they're asspulling seemingly from NOWHERE.  This episode featured Goku Black literally slicing a hole in reality itself and from that hole sprouted Majin Buu-esque clouds that would form into wannabe Goku Blacks.  Where'd he get this technique?  According to him, the "depths of his anger".   This is only marginally better than when Hit was inexplicably using his technique at better and better levels because "he'd never wanted to before". 

And this is before you get to the fact that at this point, Goku is the fucking worst.  He took a day to master the Demon Capture Wave--Goku, the fighting genius who learned Kamehameha IMMEDIATELY after Master Roshi showed it off--while it took Trunks presumably LESS than five minutes.  Then he couldn't even be bothered to remember the seal that would keep Zamasu actually captured. this real life?   This oh-so-serious plot is being furthered along by a comedic development?

The manga, by the way, isn't as far along in this plot but has already made FAR more sense--with Goku Black's god-killing being made a much bigger deal of there than in the anime.  They in fact specifically point out that a dickwad like Goku Black running around purposely wiping out all sentient life is a job for the god of destruction to handle, and that there isn't one because the Kaioshin was killed and thus Beerus was taken out as well.  Is this where we're at?  Where I'm championing Akira Toriyama's stories? 

The episode ends with Goku Black and Zamasu fusing, and I'm reminded of a second "good" thing from DB Super: the callbacks.  Call backs in Dragon Ball Z are rare, but they're always GOOD--the Android Saga, the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, and now the Demon Capture Wave and the Potara earrings.  But again, this just brings me back to the Boring Invincible Antagonist thing.  Goku and Vegeta couldn't beat these guys BEFORE, but now that they've been "kinda" challenged, they suddenly fuse and presumably become more invincible than they've ever been?   I'm sorry, but with a plan this rock-solid, I legitimately DON'T want to see Vegeta and Goku eke out a win.  Either Beerus needs to show up and stomp Perfect Zamasu into the pavement, or Zeno pops up and blinks this goof out of existence.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Return of the 90's: Mobile Police Patlabor Reboot

One of the best things about anime gradually running out of shitty light novels with impossibly lengthy names to adapt is this resurgence of older anime.   Dragon Ball, Heroic Legend of Arslan (though that's because of a newer manga adaptation of the source material), Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Saber Marionette J, and Peacemaker Kurogane...and now Mobile Police Patlabor.

Patlabor was a manga/anime franchise developed near the end of the 80's by a group called Headgear.  They're not known for much aside from Patlabor, but that's really all it takes.  If Gundam ushered in the real "Real Robot" part of mecha--a franchise in which robots were used as tools of war in morally gray battles that were humans versus other humans--then Patlabor took that to the furthest/final extreme of that.   The mecha in their universe were called "Labors", named such for their usage in making manual labor easier--they were used primarily in construction, but also found purpose in military and police applications, and Patlabor followed a team of policemen and women who dealt in Labor-related crime.

What was most fascinating about Patlabor is just how...regular, everything was.  It was a form of slice-of-life, but minus the usual coming of age stories and plus giant robots.  No one had crazy colored hair, nobody had fantastical origins and there weren't any "ace" pilots that were inexplicably better than everyone else and constantly jumping into impossible levels of danger and surviving "because plot".    In fact, the series focused primarily on the realities of robot piloting--the team only used them when absolutely necessary, and more often than not avoided firing their weapons or even training with them because "bullets were expensive", something that makes a lot of sense when you realize a single shell meant to be fired by a giant robot would have to be equivalent to several dozen magazines from a normal automatic weapon.  

The series relied on the quirky personalities of their main characters: a pair of laid back team leaders, a girl that was a total gearhead and loved her Labor to the point of naming it, a guy obsessed with the duty that came with being a cop, and more--as well as focusing on their day-to-day lives as cops to get the show over.   They dealt with everything from run-ins with federal agents and shadowy organizations to ghost stories, each time knowing how to perfectly balance the comedy inherent to the team and the drama necessary to take each case seriously.

The OVA is one of my favorite series of all time and the television series isn't too far behind.  Seeing this trailer gave me excited chills and I may or may not've shed a tear at how awesome it'll be to have these guys back, even if its just for a single cour.  

Now if I can just get Flame of Recca a remake...

CW-verse Supergirl: "Welcome to Earth"

I miss Superman already, but this episode kept me from missing him TOO much because there was quite a bit going on.  Introducing Lynda Carter as President, showing Mon-El's first time as more than just a coma prop, bringing in Detective Maggie Sawyer (who should totally be in Metropolis right now but nevermind that), and a last minute appearance by M'gann M'orzz, AKA Miss Martian--kept the episode so busy that you almost forget that the villain's plot is kinda half-baked.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

CW-verse: Legends of Tomorrow "Out of Time"

Even though she screwed up the most this episode, I'm still not tired of Sara.  Most successful "player" of the team!
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow show is a classic example of the saying “be careful what you wish for”.   When the series trailer first popped up around the end of Arrow S3/Flash S1, I was giddy with excitement.  Though the overall line-up was lacking (basically anyone relevant from Flash and Arrow tossed onto a team), I got the concept—this was the CW’s Justice League.   And watching the first two episodes, everything just seemed to fall into place with Rip Hunter leading this ragtag group into battle against the immortal Vandal Savage to save the Earth. 

CW-verse: Flash - "Paradox"

Jay's sick of your shit, Barry!

Since I'm a week behind and these two episodes kinda work together, let's just knock them both out at once.

CW-Verse: "Adventures of Supergirl"

I don't think I've been this excited for DC TV stuff since The Flash.  Having avoided last season of Supergirl due to its puzzling lack of connection with the CW-verse, "Adventures of Supergirl" was my first time watching the series.   I'd be lying if I said what made me give it a try was the simple fact that I didn't believe the show would ever use Superman and would simply lazily bring him up as always being "busy" and make him too important for the series.    The fact that they were willing to not only cast an actor as Superman but allow the character to be around for multiple episodes was a bold decision that I admire.

Monday, October 10, 2016

ViVid Strike! Thoughts

From one main character to another, a warm welcome!
So far, ViVid Strike!! is my favorite of the season. 

Time Bokan 24, Bloodivores Thoughts

Sometimes you watch the chaff...

Why wouldn't you just print new textbooks?
Time Bokan 24 is a series about Tokio--a junior high kid from the year 2016, and his friend Calen, a veteran of the 24th century's Space-Time Administration Bureau.  Together, they travel throughout time on Time Adventures to find the "True History" of the world, one that's funnier than what's been written in our textbooks.  Yes, that's almost exactly the way that they phrased it.  Their antagonists are the mischievous Akudama, employees at a company called History Paradise which has created false textbooks covering the history we believe to be true. 

The first episode sees Calen and her crew, a robot named Pikobo and a talking parrot named Peralino, traveling throughout time trying to escape from the Akudama--until they finally travel back to their home base and lose their pursuers, but not before picking up a boy from the 21st century who's shockingly just as capable of traveling through time as they are.  As a result, they invite him to join their group to find the True History--starting with ancient Egypt, where we learn Queen Cleopatra was actually a duo of comedians known as Cleo and Patra.  The group helps Cleo and Patra win a talent contest before getting into battle with the Akudama, which results in a rather amusing mecha fight before they learn the True History's been "restored".

Watching this, I could never decide whether this was aimed at like, pre-school kids or not.  It has that kind of classic, overly simplistic Level 5 animation that makes me feel like this airs on Sunday before Super Sentai.  Of course, that's probably because this is a remake of an older series from Tatsunoko and they kept most of the look of the original series in tact.  Still, some of its bits were amusing--there's a point where after the villains lose they're stuck in a room having to personally glue over the pages of the "fake" history now that the real one's been restored that was laugh out loud funny.   Still, I suspect somewhere along the line before the first month of new stuff finishes this is either going to turn me off or I'm going to bail on it out of time issues.

I won't lie. Best part of the show is when this dude catches a gun butt to the face.
....Do I have to talk about this one?   Twenty minutes into this show and the only thing that made me think I needed to see more was the minor mystery happening near the end.  The series is about a world where vampires got created after a case of insomnia kept a bunch of people awake for an entire week, who all went mad and the attempt to cure them turned all of them into vampires (somehow).  None of this backstory happens to be in the actual show, we just pick up with some punk kid named "Mi Liu" who's been nicknamed the "Child of Peace" as the son of a human and a vampire.  Despite this, by the time the episode starts he has a huge rap sheet and is already in the act of robbing a bank with a crew full of fellow vampires.

After the heist went wrong--because despite being well-planned, of course it does--and the group gets caught, Mi Liu blows off the potential punishment as just another thing he'll inevitably be freed from because he's under 18.  But in the middle of his flippant ignorance of the crime he's committed, the officer questioning him suddenly points out that what was definitely a completely victim-free bank robbery was turned into an utter slaughter after they ran off, with over 15 people killed.  Suddenly, the story becomes "serious" and Mi Liu and his friends are sentenced to death, and the episode starts to end as they're being carried in a van to await their sentence....only to suddenly have a group of masked people stop their van and riddle it with bullets from automatic rifles.

This show wasn't that hard to get through, but it didn't give me a reason to care about any of this.  They just skipped from one plot point to the next without introductions, character development, proper world-building--they just threw us into things and expected we'd get it.  Presumably, this episode was to set the ground work for the story the series actually wants to tell, which looks vaguely Deadman Wonderland in its idea from the preview of the second episode.  But it was executed sloppy and overall I'm fairly certain I can skip this in favor of more interesting series for the fall.

Digimon Universe: Appli Monsters Thoughts

One episode in, this doesn't look like any Digimon series I've ever seen before.  There's a Digivice, there's a kid wearing a goggles, there are Digimon, but that's about where the relations stop.  The familiar faces you're looking for, the ones that tie all the disparate Digimon series into a loosely connected "universe"?  For right now, they appear to all be gone--from Agumon to Leomon, the lore you're used to relying on as comfortable touchstones have vanished.

And I'm not sure that's a bad thing.  I hate to be one of those "original is the best" type of people, but ultimately most of the Digimon series I've seen have too much of the same going on for them not to have a continuing, grander story at play.  And at the same time, this series feels more...relevant?  Digimon is basically Pokemon but with a strong technological component--they are Digital Monsters, after all.  Which means, much like technology they should really be constantly changing and adapting as we develop new technology.  But Digimon still feels like a relic of early 2000's tech, like there's always a possibility that a Geocities reference is waiting right around the corner.

But Digimon Universe's seeming desire to rebuild the mythos from the ground up makes the show feel more fresh and modern.  The idea of Digimon being "apps" just flat out makes sense, and the first episode's antagonist being basically a bunch of hacked messenger appmon that are releasing everyone's private information feels amusingly relevant for our tech-consumed world.  When I first heard they were giving Digimon a make-over of sorts I was pretty against it--like most fans I'm pretty turned off by major change--but having seen it for myself I feel like this makes more sense than anything I've seen out of Digimon since the original 01+02 combo. 

...Of course, I reserve the right to withdraw all of this if everything breaks down into a typical Digimon series within the first five episodes.

*This will probably be a part of Anime Weeklies when it returns.