Pokemon Extravaganza: Movie 09 – Pokemon Ranger and the Prince of the Sea: Manaphy (Sub) Review

Plot: Satoshi, Haruka, Masato and Takeshi stumble upon a water-based circus troupe while traveling and join them for a bit while they perform their shows. However, they’re soon caught up in a web of trouble. The troupe is actually a family of descendants of an ancient race called the water folk. They’re being escorted by the Pokemon Ranger, Jackie, to deliver the egg of the legendary Pokemon, Manaphy, the prince of the sea, to the mysterious sea temple. He’s meant to protect them since they’re being pursued by Phantom – a sea captain who wants Manaphy for himself so it can show him the way to the sea temple, which houses the legendary sea crown that he’s been pursuing for many years.

Things get even more complicated when Manaphy imprints on Haruka as its mother, making his inevitable departure increasingly difficult as they grow closer.

Breakdown: Despite the movie itself being goofy, there apparently aren’t many significant differences between the English and Japanese versions. For the sake of brevity, we’ll be slicing the movie cake into 20 minute pieces.

20 Minute Mark

Pokemon Movie 09 Screen 1

Interestingly, Jack Walker’s name is the same in the original. He even has the same nickname, Jackie.

I really don’t understand the title animation for the Japanese version. First we get a crystal for some reason, a kaleidoscope effect, then we get god awful looking lava, a storm, the storm clearing, then we dive into the ocean, some…DNA….or cells? Or something….making up little lightning balls which go to water and then the title jumps out of the water?

I watched this opening three times just to see if I could make sense of it but I’m lost. The only connection to the movie that I’m getting is the water. Other than that, the best I can speculate is that they’re trying to depict the elements (the crystals are ice, the lava is for fire, the storm is water and lightning, the storm clearing is air.) but what does that have to do with this movie?

It didn’t click before, but the big water orbs that Masato just drank from are made from a Nyoromo/Poliwag or a Nyorobon/Poliwrath’s Water Gun. So my logic about never really being out of water because they always have at least a couple of Water Pokemon on hand holds true.

Lizabeth’s original name is Hiromi. Meredith, Lizabeth’s mother, is originally named Minamo and Kyle, Lizabeth’s dad, is originally named Kai. Ship keeps his name. Interestingly, this shows that Hiromi’s family originally had a water theme to their names. Ship is obviously referencing ships. Hiromi means ‘wide sea’, Minamo means ‘water’s surface’ and Kai means ‘sea’.

This theme might translate a little because Meredith’s ‘mer’ prefix is theorized to be ‘sea’ in French, but Lizabeth doesn’t mean anything related to water (from what I can gather, it means something along the lines of ‘God is my oath’) and Kyle was just given that name because it sounds like Kai. Most of the meanings of Kyle have nothing to do with water, but in Scottish and some other languages, it can be translated as a strait. I’m not sure if I want to give that to them.

Now that I’m thinking about it, it’s a little rude to suddenly pick up Ash and the others with those water orbs. Hope that PokeGear is waterproof and that they have nothing that can be damaged by water in their pockets.

As much as I don’t understand several aspects of this water show, I can’t deny that I would love to see that kind of thing if it was real. I’d love to be a part of it, too. It looks like a lot of fun.

40 Minute Mark

Pokemon Movie 09 Screen 2

Minor quibble, but Jessie’s hair, as seen from above, looks 1000x more ridiculous than it normally does.

In the original, they downright confirm that Haruka and, by extension, probably Masato, are people of the water. Takeshi even states that the memory of the temple must be encoded in their DNA. It’s not a ‘chosen one’ cliché, but it is still insanely convenient and hard to swallow – especially considering it’s never mentioned or explored outside of this movie. Again, this type of storyline would be more suited to Kasumi.

I really want to believe Manaphy just put the dream in her head, but they’re fighting that theory quite a bit.

Nyasu as Musashi is much more entertaining in this version for some reason. Just her mannerisms and expressions coming through Nyasu’s body are so goofy.

Musashi should’ve figured it out that, being a cat, she’s be faster running on all fours.

Nyasu being damn near giddy to skip along in Kojirou’s body is also much funnier than the dub for some reason.

Why didn’t Satoshi use his Ohsubame/Swellow when they were flying away? Seems like Jackie only did that to reveal that 1) He’s Jackie and 2) He’s a Pokemon Ranger.

They’re told that the item in that canister is important and absolutely cannot be damaged, so Pikachu, instead of waiting for Onidrill to land and safely handing it off, jumps from Onidrill’s back around 40 feet in the air and hopes Satoshi catches him.

Even in the original, Manaphy is still only described as being notable for living underwater and being rare.

The fact that Phantom can jump down from huge heights and not die is explained away later by his mechanical exo-skeleton. However, unless he also gave one to his grunt, that guy should at least be dead.

Even explained away by the mechanical exo-skeleton, the CGI in the rock-throwing scene is still appalling.

The joke about the vitamins is an untranslatable….’pun’? I don’t even get it with the subtitles, to be honest. Jackie says ‘What is this? Wanriki? No – Kairiki!’ The notes say that he’s talking about wanryoku, which means physical or brute strength, but he meant to say kairiki, which is superhuman strength. Even reading the Dogasu explanation for this joke doesn’t make much sense to me, except mentioning that kairiki is also Machoke’s Japanese name, and I still don’t get why that’d be funny. If someone can explain why this is a joke, please tell me because I don’t get it.

It didn’t occur to me before, but is this another movie/event in which Satoshi and the others forget they have Pokemon outside of Pikachu? Or at least forget them in situations where they’d be, ya know, useful?

Manaphy is much less annoying crying in its original Japanese voice, but it’s still bloody annoying.

Since I brought up Kasumi earlier and her relationship with Togepi briefly in the dub review, this whole imprinting thing does bring something important to light. This is completely unrelated to the movie, more or less, so feel free to skip if you want.

Pokemon Movie 09 Screen 3

Kasumi had Togepi for a couple hundred episodes or so and yet it never really matured or became independent. It was entirely reliant on Kasumi and Pikachu, and the other Pokemon acting as babysitters whenever needed. Here, Manaphy is very baby-like, but within the time frame of, say, a week or so, it’s leading an army on its own and taking its place as prince of the sea.

This isn’t the only instance of a much faster maturing baby Pokemon either. Didn’t the baby Larvitar Ash had for a bit mature much faster too?

I almost want to say Togepi would’ve matured a lot quicker if Kasumi and Pikachu didn’t coddle it like a baby all the time. Kasumi has even acknowledged that Togepi could battle once, but until Kasumi returns way down the line in Advanced Generation, it does damn near nothing besides be a walking Metronome Deus ex Togepi. Look at its bio for each generation. Half of them amount to ‘it does nothing’ and the other is ‘he does Metronome a billion times then finally evolves into Togetic’.

……..Ramble over. Movie continue.

Thank God they can sacrifice that plainly drawn trailer and not the bus they clearly spent ages designing.

Why does Haruka get pissed when Masato says ‘it’s hard to be a mother’? She didn’t seem to be bothered by that title a moment ago.

I still find it way too convenient, even by Team Rocket standards, for them to have crash landed on that temple.

I don’t get Team Rocket’s original plan. They were going to get in good with Phantom AND take Manaphy? If he ever found out they took Manaphy, he’d hate their guts.

There’s very obviously a door in that wall. You can clearly see the lines. If this was meant to be hidden, they sucked at it. Also, a very conspicuous red button right next to the door outline just further shows that it’s a door.

Still bothers me that they never explain how Phantom knew the lock’s ‘combination’.

Phantom should’ve realized that they were water folk merely from the fact that they knew their way around and knew how to open the door.

The underwater shots of Manaphy annoy me a bit because it doesn’t seem like it ever displaces water. It looks like it’s just flying through the air.

Small detail, but I like that Ship, Minamo and Kai thank their Pokemon for giving them a ride before recalling them. However, I don’t like that no one else does.

Another instance of a foreign-sounding word being replaced with a foreign-sounding word, Samaya, the sea temple, was originally called Acquscia. I honestly can’t remember if they ever said Samaya out loud either.

Hour Mark

Pokemon Movie 09 Screen 4

They needed Water Pokemon to get to the shrine but now they suddenly have boats from nowhere.

I know I said this before, but much of the CGI really looks bad. It ruins some scenes with how clunky and poorly integrated it is. We’re supposed to be marveling at these Whaloh/Wailord as they pop up around the boat and all I’m thinking is ‘I wish the ocean would finish rendering. Someone should tell Nintendo that the Wailoh escaped from the Nintendo DS.’

And then they follow it up with a scene on a reef that looks very beautiful. It’s weird.

Uhhh…..who hired the barbershop quartet to do the music for the emotional ‘Jackie nearly died as a kid’ scene?

I’m gonna sound like a total buzzkill right now, but, Satoshi, hopping on that railing and jumping off into the water is very dangerous. You’re setting a bad example for the kids at home.

Seriously, someone please stop the ‘dooododeedododo’ a capella music. Even outside of that flashback, it does not mesh with Pokemon or this scene.

I love the way Buoysel swims.

Oh yeah, keep that music going in the also-supposed-to-be-emotional scene where Haruka tells Manaphy that she loves it.

Thank God the Lapras are traditional animation. Though, what’s the logic on the decisions on what’s CGI and what’s not?

Hour and Twenty Minute Mark

Pokemon Movie 09 Screen 6

The diamonds and pearls stuff is in both versions, so both versions can bite me.

May’s bandanna comes out of the water bone dry. Not really a note, but I just noticed that.

Manaphy’s voice doesn’t change at all between when it’s underwater and when it surfaces….I’m low on material in this section.

Even the second line about diamonds and pearls is in the original? Double bite me.

Seeing it in action a couple of times, is anyone else a little bothered by stylus ‘capturing’? While traditional capture is very similar, stylus capturing seems like it mind controls the Pokemon being captured.

If Lizabeth’s family wants to keep the traditions and culture of the water folk alive, why has she never been taught their language?

End

Upon second viewing, the climax is actually better than I gave it credit for the first time around.

The original obviously doesn’t have the dumb vitamin joke. Jackie just points out that the mech suit was the trick behind Phantom’s great strength.

The music during the finale where everyone’s super saiyan is also fantastic.

The original ending theme is very beautiful as well.

———————————————–

While this movie still shares about 95% of the problems that enraged me in the dub, I can’t deny that, upon second viewing in the original Japanese, this version resonates with me better….at least in the end.

The first hour and ten-ish minutes is basically the same experience to me, but the climax just feels…better. Maybe I had a better appreciation for the action and visuals the second time around, maybe it was because I wasn’t as angry this time, but the climax seemed more epic, at least in style, than I felt it was in the dub. Even the goodbye with Haruka and Manaphy was much more emotionally impacting than it was in the dub, though that might be because Manaphy just says ‘Goodbye Haruka’ instead of saying May’s name and then calling her Mama.

……And I’ll admit that at least 2% of that problem solving comes from the lack of that vitamin “joke”. I don’t know why that makes me so angry, but…..just…urgh.

Rating: 4.5/10


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Hell Girl: Two Mirrors Episode 20 – A Maiden’s Album Review

Hell Girl Two Mirrors Ep20 Screen1

Plot: A girl named Mari is under the firm thumb of her supposed best friend Juri. Until recently, they had actually been legitimately great friends – dressing alike, doing everything together and being the other’s rock – however, an incident lead Mari to hurting Juri’s leg and her heart.

Ever since, Juri’s disposition has changed so drastically that she has called upon Hell Girl and is making no secret of using the doll as leverage against Mari. If she betrays her again, she’s gone. With that in play, Juri forces her to do her bidding and controls nearly every aspect of Mari’s life. What did Mari do that was so terrible, and is there any hope for this friendship to blossom once more or will it burn in the fires of hell?

Breakdown: This was one of those episodes where it intrigues me for the first half because there’s a bit of a mystery going on here – that being what Mari did to earn Juri’s ire – but once you learn of the reason, you realize what a stupid episode this is.

This episode is being framed in a bit of a flashback by Ren, who handled this case. He took an interest in Mari and befriended her for a bit, which is what got us to the reveal of why Juri became such a bitch.

Both Mari and Juri were avid tennis players. They trained a lot, but Juri struggled while Mari excelled. Mari always helped Juri through it and promised that the two of them would play doubles together (Whether she means that professionally or just in high school or something is never made clear.) One day, an upperclassman offers to have Mari play doubles with her because she didn’t want to see her potential squandered playing with Juri.

Since she’s clearly being pressured by this intimidating upperclassman (and her friend) Mari said she’d think about it. Juri overheard them. She was in such massive shock, she instantly ran away from the scene. However, her foot crashed through the cracked floor, injuring her leg and putting her on crutches.

Ever since then, Juri became a frickin’ psychopath. She scratched out any instances of that upperclassman’s face from all of their group pictures. Juri forced Mari to put her own name on her crappy tests and papers and put Juri’s name on hers since Mari was a great student, causing Mari’s grades to plummet. She forced her to stop watching her favorite movies. She forced her to report each and every thing she did to her. Juri even knitted matching hats, mittens and scarves with their names on them so Mari can constantly remember her hatred (And I’m not inferring that – she specifically said she made them with hatred.) And to top it all off, she threatens her every day by reminding her that she has the straw doll and will use it any time she pleases.

Hell Girl Two Mirrors Ep20 Screen2

I want you to stop reading right now and re-read the reason why she did this heel-turn. She’s filled with this much malice, this much anger, this much hate that she successfully called Hell Girl, all because Mari said she’d consider playing doubles in tennis with someone else.

Not even that she actually agreed – she’d CONSIDER it.

And even though she remains in bandages and uses a crutch, Juri supposedly healed a while before the story started, yet she claims it hurts so much because of Mari’s betrayal and the pain will never go away.

In just as much of a break-neck speed as she suddenly became a super villain, Juri turns the other way completely at random. One day at school she decides to look at a picture that she keeps in the little bag that holds the straw doll. It’s obviously a picture of the two of them even though they don’t show it to us yet. And three, two, one, bam, suddenly she feels like she’s had enough of twirling her mustache and goes to find Mari to seemingly make amends.

But uh oh, here comes another stupid development.

Mari is comforted by Ren again, and she’s so moved by his support that she cries into his chest for a second. Just then, Juri rounds the corner, and, seeing this, becomes just as distraught as she did with the tennis girl before. Because I guess seeing her crying on some random dude’s shoulder is totally ‘betraying’ her again. Is Mari not allowed to have anyone even remotely close to her in her life besides Juri?

Juri runs off, proving that her foot is perfectly fine, and Mari gives chase. She stops Juri in a crosswalk by yelling that they always need to be together.

I’m going to try to say this next part as seriously as I can muster. And you have to trust that I’m not kidding.

Ahem.

And then a truck comes out nowhere and runs over Juri.

Hell Girl Two Mirrors Ep20 Screen3
♫ I believe I can fly…♫

What is it with this bitch and getting badly wounded after running away from Mari?

Also, doesn’t this technically mean Ren interfered in this case? If Mari wasn’t crying on Ren, Juri never would’ve ran off and gotten hit by that truck. If Ren wasn’t there, it’s also very possible they would have made up and gone on with their lives. Granted, I can’t see the friendship lasting if Mari can’t so much as look at another human being without Juri having a nervous breakdown, but still.

As Juri lies near death in the hospital, Mari tends to her at her bedside with the doll. She prompts Juri to pull the string out of guilt, but she refuses, pointing to the photo in the bag. Mari looks at it with tears in her eyes, and Juri suddenly takes a turn for the worse. At the last moments, Mari grabs Juri’s hands and forces her to pull the string in the hopes that they’ll be able to spend the afterlife together in hell.

Mari gets her wish, seeing a lantern with the bag and photo floating next to the ferry, but what the hell, Mari?! I’m not arguing that Juri was a good candidate for a halo and harp, but you just forced Juri into being bound for hell when she has mere seconds of life left in her and she had already expressed that she DIDN’T WANT TO PULL THE STRING.

You damned your friend to hell all because you felt guilty and wanted to be with her in hell, which I’ve already explained in a past episode is dumb because I sincerely doubt the welcome wagon in hell will ever let you get a glimpse of your friend, outside of in whatever painful manners they can muster. Hell is not a place where you pal around with your buddies.

Hell Girl Two Mirrors Ep20 Screen4

Oh well, I guess you deserve each other anyway. I get that teenagers tend to be very unsteady in regards to emotional states, but there is no consistency whatsoever in either of these two characters. They mean so much to each other that even the slightest thing that could be perceived as betrayal might as well be an affront to god, but they’ll also be insanely shitty to each other at the drop of a hat.

I can see some angle where this might be a very sad and bittersweet episode, but you need to stand on your head and squint to get it. All the other angles are just dumb – sometimes to hilarious levels.

Rating: 2/10

Next episode, Hone Onna’s backstory revealed.


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CSBS – Rugrats S01 Ep03: At the Movies/Slumber Party

CSBS - Rugrats Ep3 9

Plot: 3A – At the Movies: The babies are brought to the theater to see their first movie – The Dummi Bears: The World Without Smiles. However, Tommy’s much more interested in seeing the awesome giant green dinosaur, Reptar. Knowing he’s at the theater from seeing a poster for his new movie outside, Tommy and the other babies head off to find him.

3B – Slumber Party: Angelica is invited over to have a slumber party with Tommy. After inconsiderately opening the window during their nap, Tommy falls ill with a fever.

Breakdown: 3A – At the Movies: So, again, I’m not a parent, but I still don’t get the idea behind taking babies to the movies. I’m not talking about parents who bring their small children to movies that are clearly inappropriate for them or don’t bother doing anything about them making a racket during literally any movie – I’m talking about bringing one and two year olds to literally any movie.

The Dummi Bears movie, despite the name being an offshoot of the Gummi Bears, is a parody of the Care Bears, and you can’t get much more saccharine and G rated than the Care Bears. The franchise is obviously centered more on very young kids, but that’s more like three to six year olds not one and two year olds. I’d think kids need to have some sort of solid grasp on language before it’d be worth it to bring them to a movie.

For the kids, you’re basically paying around 40 bucks, not counting snacks and drinks, for bright moving colors to keep their eyeballs engaged for a little over an hour. For the parents, you’re paying the same to sit there bored out of your mind in a room filled with small rowdy children, most of whom won’t sit still or be quiet for the duration of the movie, and similarly disinterested parents.

Not to mention that, surely, one of those babies will need a diaper change in the middle of the film and that has either be annoying to the parents or the babies who may or may not be interested in the movie.

Maybe I’m just ignorant on this topic. I dunno.

CSBS - Rugrats Ep3 2

The parents in this circumstance were so engaged in the movie, they didn’t bother checking on their children for over an hour. The children who were literally sitting at their feet. They couldn’t tear their eyes away for a single second….Reminder – they’re watching a Dummi Bears movie.

I’m not one to slam cartoons on the basis of ‘you can’t like this because you’re too old for it’ no matter what age range their demo is – That’s just dumb – but I find it really hard to believe that ALL of the parents were this engaged in a movie that starts with the Dummi Bears shooting happy thought arrows down to the US (And only the US. Everywhere else has to be sad apparently) with the main conflict being the theft of a list of sad children to make happy. Without it, the United States will become the land without smiles.

CSBS - Rugrats Ep3 3

Guess they never found the list.

It’s a little understandable that Stu is so into this, I believe it’s been established that he’s a big Dummi Bear fan, but not everyone else. They’re audibly gasping, their eyes are glued to the screen, they’re holding onto each other when the slightest thing happens, Stu nearly broke down in tears. It’s a bit much.

Grandpa Lou is being a little too grumpy about this, but at least he’s acting like most normal adults would when dragged to a toddler movie. And even HE’S too preoccupied either pouting or watching the movie to check on the babies. He just finds them wandering around the lobby later and is like ‘Oh hey, you kids don’t like that garbage either, eh? Let’s get back to our seats.’

Let me also make it clear that the babies are literally right at their feet. They’re not in some movie theater playpen or in seats of their own – they’re put on the floor in front of them….the disgusting sticky movie theater floor. So even when the Rugrats parents (I should call them Rugrents……Hm) are trying to do something nice for their kids, they’re still being irresponsible with them.

CSBS - Rugrats Ep3 4

This is another one of those episodes where even the third-party adults are braindead, deaf and blind. Once the babies leave the theater, they run behind a curtain and I instantly think ‘Wow, better hope no one’s showing a hard R movie in here.’ That didn’t happen, but the first movie they found was right in the middle of an almost disturbingly long kissing scene. Obviously, they’re not really moving much and it’s closed-mouth, but still….that somehow makes it weirder, now that I think about it. They’re blocking the projector, they’re walking over people’s feet and somehow no one’s really paying any mind.

The babies break out of there, being detected by no one except one person who tells them ‘Down in front!’ They then lay waste to the lobby. Two teenage employees (One voiced by Scott Menville, and holy crap was that a weird revelation considering I love Teen Titans) are running the snack bar and they’re too engrossed in their argument to notice the babies. They’re arguing over skateboards because they’re teenagers in the 90s.

I can understand them not seeing the babies wandering around the lobby, but let me give a list of all the stuff the babies do that certainly would have been seen/heard by anyone standing a few feet away.

  • Tommy CLIMBS INTO THE POPCORN MACHINE and digs around for Reptar. Not only is that very dangerous, considering the heat, but that is just disgusting. He’s getting boogers, drool and dirty diaper residue all over the popcorn. They actually mention this later, but the guy says the popcorn tasted like soda pop, which doesn’t make sense because no soda came close to the popcorn machine. I almost want to believe the line was originally that the popcorn tasted like diaper and they rewrote it before recording because that’s a little too gross.
  • Phil and Lil pour soda everywhere (but not in the popcorn machine).
  • Chuckie eats a ton of candy bars and throws a bunch of stuff around.
  • Phil and Lil pour ketchup and mustard everywhere.
  • Lil knocks over a container of straws.

Only when the babies are gone do they finally realize the mess that’s been made.

CSBS - Rugrats Ep3 5

The babies then head into the projector room where the guy running the projectors for all of the movies is sitting reading a magazine. Again, so enthralled by it that he doesn’t notice the babies making baby noises or climbing into the viewing ports. He also doesn’t notice them climbing onto the spools, grabbing lines of film, yanking on them and causing a massive mess until the massive mess is way out of control.

He did kinda notice them once. Phil and Lil knocked over a stack of film reel cans, obviously making a very loud clanging noise and that makes him look up from his magazine and glance over only to resume reading a second later….

Tommy says he’s ‘seen this one’ when he looks into the port for the viewing of the Dummi Bears movie, and I’m just like….how? This movie is still in theaters and you’ve never been to a movie before. You are a baby….How have you seen this one?

The kids happily find Reptar, but they only pay him some mind for a minute or so before they want to play on the spinning film reels because they’re babies and that’s how they’d realistically react to a movie.

Once they realized they’ve caused trouble, they leave. Lou finds them in the lobby, thinks nothing of it, and brings them back to their seats…err…floor to try and watch the rest of the movie only to have the film cut off because of the babies’ shenanigans, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. The film should’ve cut out when the babies were messing around in there.

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Apparently, no one got a refund, which is bullshit. You pay for a movie and it cuts out before the end, you either give the customers a refund or some voucher for a free re-viewing of the movie in the future. Stu was upset because they were about to reveal if some girl was going to live or something. Stu….it’s a movie for toddlers….I’d wager she lives.

There was a lot of smack talk against the theater near the end. Lou berated the snack bar employees for the huge mess, even though they were clearly working hard to clean it up and it could’ve been an accident. The couple coming out of the theater were saying it’s the worst theater ever. Didi said they should visit a different theater the next time they go to see a movie.

I’m debating whether this is warranted, because, on one hand, the babies caused all of the problems in the theater, and the business doesn’t deserve to get punished for something they did. On the other hand, they have terrible employees who could have easily stopped all of this had they been even remotely interested in doing their jobs. In addition, they didn’t offer refunds for the movies that were cut off, and that’s all on management.

This episode was pretty decent. There was some good humor and pacing here, even if the logic, or lack thereof, regarding the adults was irksome. Obviously, if you know Rugrats, you know this is a pretty important episode because it’s our proper introduction to Reptar, who is HUGE in the Rugrats universe. The babies will remain Reptar fans for the entirety of the show. He’s a very beloved character to both them and most Rugrats fans. I know I love that big green dinosaur.

3B – Slumber Party: Before we begin, I have a very serious topic I’d like to discuss with you all today.

Namely, WHAT THE UNGODLY HELL IS THIS??!?!

CSBS - Rugrats Ep3 7

They just start the episode with an image of this creature that would make Satan seek therapy. Who drew this and why do they want to instill terror upon the viewer? Klasky/Csupo has never been known for great art, but…why? Why did the animators make it look like Cupid’s on bath salts?

Anyhoo, Rugrats was always pretty good at making trippy episodes. This is the first, but definitely not last, instance of one of the babies having weird-ass dreams. Most of them are known for being terrifying in their imagery. This one is rather harmless, though. By far the scariest image in this episode is the Cupid from hell – and that’s not part of the dream!

There’s not much to explain about this episode since it’s a trippy fever dream story. It’s moreso an experience than it is an actual story. The only real notable parts are the parenting fails, which are listed below. I definitely remember this episode, though. Every last bit of it.

The actual story is that Angelica is a miserable bitch. I’m sure that’s news to you She makes fun of Tommy for drinking out of a bottle like a baby when…yeah…yeah, he’s a baby. She dumps her perfectly fine dinner onto the floor when Didi pays more attention to a now-ill Tommy than her. What’s worse is that she made her cousin sick and simply doesn’t care.

I was going to make the argument that she didn’t realize the cold would make Tommy sick – she is just three after all – but nope. All signs point to her knowing she made Tommy sick by opening the window and she not only doesn’t care, but she threatens Tommy if he…I dunno what. He can’t tell his parents it was her, so her threat seems unnecessary.

If that’s not bad enough, she blames Phil and Lil for giving it to him, then she blames Chuckie claiming he probably came over and opened his window.

And then she claims Tommy’s faking it…

Angelica also takes every opportunity to vie for Didi’s attention at the dinner table when she knows Tommy’s getting sick and Angelica knows she made him that way. This is where the dinner dumping happens.

Oh well, at least she gets plenty of comeuppance through Tommy barfing all over her. She also gets a slightly nice moment when she flatters Tommy by complimenting his barfing ability. That’s something, I guess.

CSBS - Rugrats Ep3 8

While there were some annoying aspects to this episode, it’s otherwise a very sweet story. I’ll definitely take a moment where the parents are being kind and caring to help contrast all the times they’re insanely negligent.

And, really, it is sweet, especially at the end where we see all of the adults sleeping in Tommy’s room (Didi sleeping on Stu’s lap) and even Angelica gets some more subtle shade when we see her sucking her thumb as she sleeps. Hehe, the little hypocrite. (Funny how the one person missing from the previous episode was Angelica considering she’s wearing a Dummi Bears shirt.)

Angelica may be a nightmare, and she may have caused Tommy distress, but she didn’t ruin this cute little acid trip of an episode.

Ratings:

3A – 7/10

3B – 7.5/10

Parenting Fails

3ANone of the parents notice their children are missing from the theater at any point…when they were right at their feet….and they were watching a Dummi Bears movie. I’m gonna count five for this because it’s too dumb.

They put their babies on the floor of a movie theater in the first place….x2 because gross and there’s no reason for this. Everyone else is in seats. Come on – they can at least sit in your laps.

Grandpa Lou thinking nothing of the babies wandering around the lobby, clearly coming from some place that is not their theater.

3B – The window in Tommy’s room not only doesn’t have any baby-proofed lock on it, but it’s also simply not regularly locked and is at a low enough height for a three year old to open it easily.

No one checked on the kids for the duration of their several hour long nap?

Oh dear god, the scene where they’re talking about what to do about Tommy’s illness. At first, it’s not bad because they just want to take his temperature and call a doctor, but then Lou suggests a cure that is never adequately explained. He talks about getting a sock as big as Tommy’s head (?!) and holding him upside down (?!?!?!?) while feeding him applesauce. This “cure” was something he did to Drew and Stu when they were kids. I’m going to give him an overdue parenting fail for that.

This would just be the crazy ramblings of an old coot, and they compound this thought by rolling their eyes at it, but Didi suggested they actually try it! What the hell are you smoking, woman!? x3

Even if this wasn’t just a stupid and possibly harmful thing to do, how does she think feeding him applesauce upside down will bring down his fever?

Speaking of Didi, she, of course, breaks out the damn Lipschitz books. What’s his remedy? Putting a radio under his pillow….Because…that’s how you treat a fever, apparently. Since they don’t have one small enough, they read that they can also sing him a lullaby….Uhm…Didi, are you looking at the section for making a baby sleep and not the one for treating a fever or other illness? Because a lullaby will not treat your son’s fever.

He hasn’t been having trouble going to sleep, why are you trying to treat your son’s illness via song? You’re not a bard.

And…really, if she was looking up ways to make him sleep…why is a lullaby so novel? Did you really need to read that in a Lipschitz book?

Admittedly, the lullaby is quite nice and it’s a sweet moment for them as a family so bit of a parenting win here.

Tally: 12

Next Episode…

Previous Episode


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I’ve Been Nominated for a Real Neat Blog Award!

I’ve been nominated for a Real Neat Blog Award by the awesometastic Blamesaiki! Thank you very much for the nomination, BlameSaiki! 🙂 Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond, but I hope I’ve come up with some decent answers to your questions.

If you haven’t already, check out their blog – There are a lot of really great anime and manga reviews waiting for you! We each reviewed the latest Yami Shibai series episode by episode back around Halloween, and it was a ton of fun to bounce back and forth and get different (and similar) views on the episodes as we went on. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do it again this fall, but for now it’s question time!

So, what are the rules?

  • Display the logo.
  • Thank the blogger for the award.
  • Answer the questions from the one who nominated you.
  • Nominate 7 to 10 bloggers.
  • Ask them 7 questions.

Questions!

So, you’ve been hit by the infamous truck-kun. You are now in a different world! (Didn’t see that coming, did ya?). You’re now forced to make some choices prior to starting your journey. But, be warned, once chosen, they cannot be undone. Play at your own risk.

1) What Class/Role Would You Choose?

I’ve answered this question a couple of ways in the past, but this time I feel more like answering with: A machinist/engineer.

I absolutely love any game that has a machinist/engineer or the like in it. The usually steampunk-esque vibe is always cool, and it’s so much fun and so interesting to set up turrets, traps, healing locations etc. whether by yourself or in a team (though, admittedly, it’s usually more fun when you’re in a team.) Plus, I love tech, mecha and robots, so I think I’d have just as much fun being this class in a real scenario.

2) What Ability or Weapon Would Be Your Go-To?

I love the power to bring drawings to life. I love art, I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, and this ability literally yields endless opportunities, as long as I’d have something to draw with and on.

3) Pick Two Companions to Have with You from Any Form of Entertainment.

Deadpool. Hands down. He’d be an endless source of entertainment, and he’d be able to take down any threats we encounter.

The second pick is a little tougher….Maybe Appa from Avatar the Last Airbender? He’d be an awesome companion, and he’d be able to fly us around to get a lay of the area and transport us anywhere quickly.

4) What is an Unexpected Talent You Have That’ll Help You in Your Journey?

Uhhhh…..I don’t really think I have any? I’m a pretty talentless schmo.

5) What Character Would You Choose as Your Mentor/Sensei?

Vash the Stampede. He’s funny, but wise. He’s gentle, but kickass. He’s a great friend, serious, focused when need be, and his philosophies are noble. Plus, he’d be able to teach me how to shoot damn near perfectly.

Special shoutout to Rock Lee and Might Guy, though. I really considered both of them for this but I remembered that Might’s not all that great of a sensei to Tenten and Neji. He may be great for Rock Lee, but he’s pretty much never training Neji and Tenten. You could argue Neji doesn’t ‘need’ it, but Tenten needs all the help she can get.

As for Rock Lee, I would’ve chosen him in a heartbeat if I didn’t think his training regimen would kill me lol

6) What Stat Would You Considering to be Your Highest (Strength, Intelligence, Stamina/Endurance, Luck, Charisma, etc.) and What One Is Your Weakest?

Charisma for weakest, most definitely. I have the social skills and grace of a sack of hammers.

Highest is….tricky….I have been told I’m pretty strong, though, in my opinion, I’m not really significantly as such. I’d probably say intelligence just because I really like learning. Retaining knowledge, however, is iffy. My memory is garbage.

7) And Finally, What’s Your Ultimate Goal/Mission in this World?

What else would it be?

WORLD DOMINATION!!

Err…I mean….I’d help…people…Make the world a better place. Yup.

My Questions

I don’t have a cool story setup for people, I’m kinda bad at that, so let’s have a game theme here!

1) What’s Your Favorite Board Game/Tabletop RPG?

2) You’ve Just Acquired the BEST Co-op Video Game Ever. What Anime/Manga Character Would you Choose to Play with You?

3) What is Your Least Favorite Class/Role in Video/Tabletop Games?

4) What is Your Favorite Anime/Manga Based on a Video Game or Video Game Based on an Anime/Manga?

5) You Can Play One Sport of Your Choosing with One Anime/Manga Character. What Sport and Character Would You Choose?

6) You Can Choose Any Anime/Manga Character to be the Dungeon Master at Your Next D&D Game – Who is it? (Alternatively, What Character Do You Think Would be Able to Create the Best Story?)

7) You Can Steal the Weapon of Any Anime/Manga Character to Use in an Action Video Game. Whose Weapon Do You Steal?

Nominees (Sorry if I nom anyone who has done this already. No pressure to do it either way. :))

012Mashi

9 Tailed Kitsune

Yahari Bento!!

Inskime

Krystallina

Jiraiyan

BiblioNyan

 

My Poke-Pinions: (172,) 025 and 026 – The ‘Chu Line

Preface: I struggled a bit with how to do this. Since I’m giving my opinions on entire lines, but I’m also going in numerical order, it presents a bit of a problem when I confront Pokemon in early gens that got evos or pre-evos in later gens. Ultimately, I decided I would still go down a numerical line, but when circumstances like these pop up, I will be including any future gen pre-evos and evos just to get the entire line out of the way. If future gens add more evos or pre-evos to any line, I’ll try to update them.

Pichu

Name: Wiki: “Pichu is a combination of ピカピカ pikapika (onomatopoeia for sparkle) and チューチュー chūchū (the sound of squeaking).” …..Mmhmm….

“It may also be a play on プチ puchi (petit).” Sure….

“Pichu is ultimately a diminutive of Pikachu.” There it is.

I like Pichu fine as a name, it’s pretty snappy and cutesy, but I can’t get away from the vibe that this is just them further banking off of ‘Hey look, guys, a chibi Pikachu!’

Design: Pichu’s pretty cute. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite of the mini-Pikachu clone Pokemon, but it’s cute. It always kinda bothered me that it looks like its head is too big for its body, though. I’m always afraid it will tip over and break its neck. I like how they added more black to the design to help break up the yellow more.

Sprite-Wise, Gen II’s is pretty…..chubby. I think Pichu was designed when we were still in Pikachu’s chubby phase, so this makes sense, but it still looks a little off.

Gold looks worse than Silver, which also looks happier, and the animation on Crystal is adorable.

Gen III looks better, though the animation on Emerald is a bit too erratic for me.

Gen IV is very cute, and the animation for HG/SS is adorable.

All of the other Gens get really cute constant animations.

Spike-Eared Pichu:

It’s a Pichu with a spiky ear……Wheee.

I don’t dislike the spikes. I guess I kinda wish the base Pichu design had spiky ears to make it a little cooler, but it’s just fine.

Also, in the Portuguese version, it’s called SLICED-EAR Pichu! OW.

Ukulele Pichu:

It’s a Pichu with a ukulele…..Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Actually, considering how tiny Pichu is, how do we tell the difference between it having a ukulele and a regular guitar?

Shiny:

It’s just a darker color yellow. In fact, they’ve taken to calling Shiny Pichu “Pikachu-Colored Pichu,” which is a little irritating, all things considered. I guess it tracks with Shiny Pikachu, which is also just a darker colored yellow, but still. The ones that are just darker colored versions of their original palettes are usually really lame to me. Oddly, the first shiny is the best to me because it looks more orange, channeling Raichu more than Pikachu.

Cry/Voice: Pichu’s anime voice is almost too cute. It’s not too high-pitched and it’s really sweet….when you hear it once or twice. But it’s one of those voices that gets annoying REAL fast.

Its game cry is similarly cute. It’s basically a midi-version of the Pillsbury Doughboy’s giggle.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Unsurprisingly, its Dex entries focus heavily on how much it sucks from a practicality standpoint. Pichu can only hold a small amount of electricity and they are unable to control it. As a result, they constantly let off bursts of electricity when they laugh, get upset or become startled. It will also commonly shock humans without meaning to. They might short out when playing with other Pichu, causing them both to cry.

What’s even worse is that they can’t help but shock themselves when they accidentally or purposefully let off their electricity either.

In short, their shocks are very weak, but they shock their trainers all the time without warning because they can’t control their electricity, they can’t play with other Pichu without creating sparks and hurting each other, and they are useless in battle because purposefully using Electric attacks will just backfire on the Pichu while also barely causing any damage to the enemy. Yay.

The only other real note is that they’ll touch tails to purposely create sparks as a sign of courage. Is that like me punching myself in the face as a sign of courage?

In terms of design, Pichu’s supposed based on squirrels, but I don’t see that. I just see a chibi more circular Pikachu. I get that the cheek thing comes from squirrels, but that’s about it.

Pikachu

Name: First off, dear god the Wiki page for Pikachu is ridonkulously long. I should have opted to do Pikachu on its own page. Yikes.

That being said, I think I need to take a minute to remove myself from this topic since, with all the reviews and stuff I’ve done with Pokemon over the years, Pikachu kinda brings on a lot of knee-jerk reactions. I’m going to try to keep my opinion from being skewed based on the oversaturation of Pikachu’s usage and his utmost favoritism and Messiahchu-isms in the anime.

Pikachu’s name is very cute, snappy and sticks with you for a long time. Every syllable is cute, really. When he says ‘Pika’ it’s cute. When he says ‘Chu!’ it’s even cuter. And if you get him to say ‘CHAAA!’ some of your brain cells explode with cute. It’s a very cute name.

Like I mentioned in Pichu’s section, Pikachu is a combination of the Japanese sound for sparkle and the sound a mouse makes, which is very fitting. However, the Wiki also felt like adding that it could be an offshoot of ‘Peekaboo.’ I can only guess they got that from the short Pikachu’s Peekaboo, because other than sounding similar they have no connection whatsoever.

Design: Pikachu’s frickin’ adorable. It has a very simple design, but it’s also extremely memorable. Most people, even those who aren’t Pokemon fans, can easily discern Pikachu from its silhouette, and I don’t mean to reference Who’s That Pokemon? there. It has an adorable face, cute little chubby cheeks that add some more color to it to break up all the yellow, it has perfect ears and adorable paws – it’s just adorable.

Female Version

It’s just Pikachu with a heart shape on its tail. Quite frankly, I roll my eyes a lot at the fact that so many Pokemon have their gender discerned through little heart designs….

Base Cosplay Pikachu

It’s just Pikachu with a heart shape on its tail….shaded in black. I actually kinda wish this was the female version because it stands out more.

Pikachu Rock Star

It’s too much, in my opinion. I get that that’s the point, but it’s just too much.

Pikachu Belle

It’s alright….Nothing much else to say….It’s very alright.

Pikachu Pop Star

Well, if you’re going to have a rock star version, you might as well have a pop star costume too. This one is at least better than the rock star one, but I still think it’s a bit much.

Pikachu, Ph. D.

I adore this one. It’s hilarious.

Pikachu Libre

I think that costume is extremely well-designed. It’s very cool. Kinda makes me wish there was a Pikachu superhero.

Cap Pikachu

Pikachu wearing one of any version of Ash’s hat….It’s Pikachu wearing hats….It’s adorable. Also, to get this out of the way, I won’t really be addressing Pikachu’s Pokemon Go costumes, same as I didn’t with Pichu. Most of them are just hats anyway. I do love the straw hat one because it makes me think he’s cosplaying as Luffy.

Gigantamax Pikachu

I’m only barely warming up to Mega forms, so don’t expect me to be singing many praises here, especially since I find the Gigantamax idea to be really lazy. Take Pokemon and make them bigger….and change their designs a little, I guess. At least with the Mega forms they changed their designs quite a lot, to the point where they tend to look very busy, but they do the bare minimum with most of the Gigantamaxs I’ve seen. Gigantamax Pikachu, for example, seems to have gone back to his chubbier form, which I like, and they made his tail an actual lightning bolt, which is a little cool, but other than that….it’s just Pikachu.

In terms of sprites, R/B is simply classic.

Yellow is like it was ripped straight from the anime, which is pretty much the point. They, oddly, didn’t change its back design for this game, though. Weird.

Green doesn’t look like a real animal. It looks like an inanimate toy.

Gen II is really cute with one of the most adorable animations for Crystal.

Gen III is also cute, but they’re starting the annoying flashing animations for it in this Gen and, not lying, it makes me physically ill. I think I’m more prone to flicker vertigo than I first thought….

Gen IV has even more flashing, and a weird stretchy animation on HG/SS.

Gen V is really cute, especially with that little finger wag and tail twitch.

All of the rest are just okay.

Shiny:

Like I mentioned, Pikachu’s shiny is just a darker yellow color – like a yellow-orange. It’s a bit lame, and I wish they had just gone all out and made it Raichu orange or something, but it’s fine.

Cry/Voice: Pikachu’s anime voice is basically perfect. It’s really cute and fitting with some great emotion put into it without being overly high pitched and irritating. Thank god he maintains his Japanese voice actress (And has for over 20 years!)

Pikachu’s game cry is pretty good. The starting note is cute and it ends with a burst that sounds just slightly intimidating.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Pikachu stores its electricity in its cheeks, which is the send-up to squirrels, but I don’t really see the design based off of them here either. It uses its tail to check its surroundings, which sometimes causes it to act as a lightning rod. As a result, Pikachu nests tend to be dangerous spots because lightning hits the area a lot.

They tend to shock new things that they see, which I honestly didn’t know. What a weird and destructive trait for little Pikachu to have. It also notes that they’ll commonly roast hard berries with their electricity.

When weakened, a Pikachu can and commonly is brought back to health by a jolt of electricity by a fellow Pikachu. They will also touch tails a form of greeting, which I don’t get. How do you go from touching tails as a show of courage as Pichu to a greeting as Pikachu? When many Pikachu gather together, they can cause lightning storms, and Pokemon Sun notes that there are plans to make a power plant with Pikachu as the generators, which you’d think would be a thing by now.

The Wiki also mentions that Pikachu will get stressed if they don’t discharge their electricity regularly, which I think they got from the anime, but Pikachu got sick in that instance. They also need plenty of sleep or else their electricity doesn’t build up as well…..Oh haha. When you don’t sleep, you don’t have as much….energy….haha.

In terms of design, Pikachu was obviously based on a mouse, but its cheeks were inspired from squirrels storing food in their cheeks, as previously mentioned. Pikachu’s designer directly said that Pikachu was based on a design she made from a daifuku with ears, which…I guess I can see. Supposedly, only the black parts of the ear were kept from that original design.

Raichu

Name: Raichu’s name is perfect, because it is perfect. (Should I mention that Raichu’s my second favorite Pokemon? Nearly tied for first.) Anyway, Raichu breaks down into ‘Rai’ for ‘Thunder’ and ‘Chu/chuchu’ was already explained. In all honesty, I DO find this name to be perfect. It’s a great alteration from Pikachu, it sounds tougher and more intimidating without losing its adorable vibe or snappiness, and it is technically tougher with Rai’s meaning being more threatening (Thunder>sparkling)

Alolan Raichu is also known as Hodad, which I find really weird and not at all fitting of Raichu or any of the ‘Chu line for that matter. However, it does have a purpose to it. Alolan Raichu looks like a surfer, uses its tail like a surfboard, but cannot learn Surf (unless evolved from an event Pikachu). Hodad is actual surfer lingo for someone who dresses like a surfer, comes to the beach with a surfboard but never actually surfs. So, basically, a surf poser.

I don’t much care for that name as it’s basically an insult to an otherwise rather cute Raichu form, and there’s nothing really stopping Alolan Raichu from surfing. Surf basically just summons a tidal wave, it’s not the actual skill of surfing. But hey, any opportunity to jab at Raichu, right? *eye roll*

Design: Raichu is such an adorable cuddly-wuddly pumpkin pie–….Err…Uh…*cough* I really love Raichu’s design. It didn’t sacrifice any cuteness upon evolution – in fact, I think it really gained cuteness. Those ears are more mouse-like while also being unique. I love the little swirl at the bottom. I also like how its tail is now a more mouse-like long tail with a lightning bolt at the end.

It’s body shape is really cool. It’s sweet and pudgy while also having adorable stubby arms and strong legs that look like it could kick you pretty hard. It has the perfect shade of orange, and it’s got just the right amount of yellow, white and brown on it to break it up.

Alolan Raichu

I prefer regular Raichu, but I think they did a really good job with Alolan Raichu. They made its eyes blue, which is nice, and made its orange fur a more burnt-orange color to signify tanned skin, which is pretty cool. Not a big fan of the ears. The shape and design make me think of fairies, and they stand out too much. I love its feet, though. They made the feet shorter and thicker and it reminds me of a bunny.

I like its tail. It’s basically the same as before, but with more of a rounded shape to look like a surfboard. I also find it really adorable that it stands on it. I think a Flying type could easily be made of that with the tail being a cloud with lightning coming out of it.

Female Raichu

I almost thought this was a mistake because I honestly could not see the difference between male and female Raichu. I had to bring my face right up to the screen to realize female Raichu’s tail doesn’t have a pointing end. It’s blunt. Like someone cut it off. That is probably the laziest way to make a female version. Why not just make the lightning bolt a heart or make the cheek marks hearts or make the stripes on the back hearts? Heartheartsheartsgurrlllssluvhartz

In terms of sprites, Gen I needs some work. R/B looks too oval-shaped and has a derpy expression.

Green has a similar problem, just a different derpy expression.

Yellow is adorable, but way too yellow on the coloring, almost like they thought Raichu had Pikachu’s colors.

Gen II is good, but what the hell is up with Crystal’s animation? It either looks like it’s cat-calling or heckling the player.

Is that more effort to make Raichu look like a jerk?

I absolutely love the pose in Gen III, but I can’t help but think the animation in Emerald is Raichu doing the Spongebob laugh.

In Gen IV, D/P is cute, but Platinum’s expression is back to derpy and HG/SS is adopting the annoying flashing animation Pikachu had.

Gen V is adorable because it has a constant bouncing animation, and everything else is alright.

Shiny:

Following the trend of Pichu and Pikachu, Raichu’s shiny is also just a darker version of its base color, but I actually really like it. That deep shade of orange looks great with the darker hues of yellow.

Gen II’s version looks strange because it looks more like a sickly gold color, but it’s corrected in every Gen onward.

As for shiny Alolan Raichu….it’s…..uhm….it’s…Well, I guess it still fits the beach theme because it looks like a very, very dark tan. And it’s a rarity in being a brown shiny. But otherwise it kinda looks terrible. At best, it looks like someone made an Alolan Raichu out of chocolate.

Cry/Voice: Raichu’s anime voice is adorable. It’s lower pitched to give off a more serious and mature tone while also being high enough to be cute. I also love the specific way it pronounces ‘Rai’ usually. Like it’s halfway between ‘Rai’ and ‘Wai.’

It’s game cry is perfect with a ‘shocking’ kind of noise to it while also adding in a cute little high pitched sound.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Raichu’s tail serves as a ground to protect itself from its own electricity, which might be a window into another reason why Pichu always hurts itself when it uses its electricity – its tail is too short to act as ground. When Raichu does discharge electricity this way, it leaves scorch marks on the ground. It can also stick its tail into the ground to search for sources of electricity.

Unlike Pikachu who gets weakened and sick when it stores too much electric energy, Raichu actually gets very aggressive. Raichu is also proactive in avoiding this issue by using its tail to discharge its own electricity into the ground when this starts happening.

In the opposite extreme, if it is running low on electricity, it can recharge by gathering electricity from the atmosphere, which is awesome.

When it is fully charged, its ears will stand up, which is a cute detail.

Raichu has electric power of over 100,000 volts (Gen I and Stadium mistakenly lists this as 10,000. The Wiki states this is a translation error based on how the Japanese language writes numbers (In this case, 100,000 or juu-man would read literally like ‘ten ten-thousands’ since ‘man’ is 10,000 and ‘juu’ is 10. They must have just dropped the first 10 on accident.) which is powerful enough to down an elephant.

Raichu can glow in the dark by constantly emitting a weak electrical charge throughout its body…..I want a glow in the dark Raichu doll now.

Also, Ultra Moon can kiss my ass because it is the only game that omits all of this and instead notes: “Because so many Trainers like the way Pikachu looks, you don’t see this Pokémon very often.” Couldn’t resist kissing Pikachu’s ass, eh?

And, really, Pikachu’s just so adorable and wonderful that Raichu are actually considered rare because no one wants to sacrifice their Perfectchu for, ew, Raichu? That’s like saying “Eevee can evolve into a wide spectrum of other Pokemon, but you never see them usually because Eevee is just so gosh darn adorable that no one wants to evolve it.” I was having such a nice time writing this entry until I read that. Thanks, Ultra Moon.

As for Alolan Raichu, it uses psychic abilities to control electricity (it’s also noted that Alolan Raichu is the only Pokemon with a Psychic/Electric combo) as well as for levitating on its tail. It attacks with star-shaped thunderbolts, which is honestly a little random.

It emits a sweet aroma if you rub its cheek sacs, and it loves PANCAKES! That has got to be one of the most adorable notes I’ve ever seen in a Dex entry. Granted, it’s explaining this because it loves pancakes prepared with a special secret Alolan recipe that some believe might be the key to this Pokemon’s evolution…..Actually, upon second thought, that’s even cooler. Alolan Raichu might have evolved this way because of PANCAKES! How can you not love everything Raichu related?

As for the design origins, Raichu’s cheeks are still based on squirrels, but its long tail and thicker, longer hind legs (and possibly wider bunny-like ears) seem to come from Jerboas which are hopping desert rodents that are somehow adorable and somewhat frightening looking at the same time, and kangaroo rats.

Alolan Raichu was obviously inspired by surfing, and given the area they’re in it makes a lot of sense. However, it’s also very possible that it was based on the novelty Pokemon, Surfing Pikachu from Pokemon Yellow, Gold, Silver and Crystal (I didn’t talk about that one because it’s literally just Pikachu with a surfboard and it doesn’t even have much of a sprite) and even Puka, the surfing Pikachu from the anime who also had blue eyes.

Interestingly, Raichu in Pokemon Stadium can learn Surf, and the animation for performing this move had it using its tail as a surfboard, which might have been additional inspiration.

Absolutely none of those things clicked with me when I first saw this Pokemon, and I think it’s really cool that so many old cogs might have been put into play to make Alolan Raichu’s design.

Next up, the Sandshrew line!


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Cyber City Oedo 808 Review

Rating: 7/10

Plot: In the year 2808 in a technologically advanced yet dystopian future, three criminals, Sengoku, Gogul and Benten, are given an offer – they can reduce their sentences in the orbiting space prison by serving for the Cyber Police force in Cyber City. For every criminal caught, they’ll get a certain amount of time shaved from their individual 300+ year sentences. Begrudgingly, they accept the terms.

In order to ensure that they behave, they’re given special collars that will blow up if they fail to complete a mission within a certain time or if they go too far rogue (obviously there’s some wiggle room since this is an action show from the 80’s). This three episode OVA chronicles three individual cases each one giving focus on one of the three.

Breakdown: Let’s just get this out of the way – yes, this premise is extremely similar to Suicide Squad. I can’t call Suicide Squad the ripoff because, technically, Suicide Squad came first. The first incarnation of the team came out in 1959 and the modern interpretation came out in 1987. This OVA came out in 1990. So, if anything, this is the ripoff.

However, I won’t say that either. I think, even with such similar main premises, the series is definitely it’s own thing. It has its own style, characters, setting and relationships to make it unique enough for me to not give it that damning brand. Maybe they’ve earned a disapproving finger wag, though.

Anyhoo, this is another one of those shows that you really just have to sit back and enjoy for its action and ridiculousness. I’m not one to say that bad shows should be excused in lieu of ‘just turn off your brain’, if you know my reviews you really know that much for the most part, but there are those shows out there that are really just trying to have cheesy action fun. Cheesy 80s action fun. Come on, who could resist that? (It was released in 1990, but it was being made in the 80s so it counts)

Three criminals are serving 300+ year sentences in a space prison – Sengoku, Gogul and Benton. Each episode revolves around one of the three criminals.

Sengoku is the roguest of all. In fact, he’s basically babysat by the police robot, Varsas, who is constantly nagging him about police protocol, to which Sengoku rarely pays any mind. He has a real potty mouth as he hardly speaks a line without swearing. Also, I really want to have “Isn’t it your bedtime, motherfucker?” on a t-shirt.

Sengoku’s episode revolves around an emergency in a huge, ridiculous, insane, what-the-hell-were-they-thinking tower. This huge building that stands as the largest building ever made. Wanna know how tall it is? It’s so tall, with a friggin’ pole design, mind you, that it reaches up past the atmosphere INTO OUTER SPACE. If that’s not ridiculous enough, listen to this.

The emergency is that everyone in the building is trapped due to a hacker causing all of the systems to lock up as he goes in pursuit of one of the people who works there. As the perp is being combated by Gogul’s hacking skills, the target’s security and Sengoku, he gets impatient and shuts down a vital part of the building – two gyro disks that are quite literally the only things supporting the building. If disabled, the building….falls. No failsafes, no backups, no nothing. It will fall.

That has to be the dumbest construction design I’ve ever seen. First of all, why is a building that big even needed? We’re always building bigger skyscrapers, but having a skyscraper that reaches out into space balancing purely on two spinning discs seems far stupider than those houses from The Jetsons that balance entirely on a thin stick or two. Second, a power failure or hacker can instantly send the tallest building in the world tumbling down like a jenga game.

Think about that.

Something so minute could end up in the instant deaths of tens of millions of people. Not just the millions that supposedly work in the building (Yes, they actually state that supposedly millions of people work in that building), but the millions on the ground below who will all be crushed when the building falls one way or another, and the additional people who will die from the debris. Yeah, it doesn’t collapse in on itself, it falls in a random direction. Meaning miles and miles of buildings, in a highly populated city, no less, will be crushed ending millions of extra lives.

Crack up job, Mr. Architect. Crack. Up.

We don’t really learn much about Sengoku besides his character traits in this episode, but it is a pretty interesting story. Sengoku typically uses a gun as his weapon of choice (a gun that can only fire if the fingerprints of the person holding it match the registration for the gun, which is really an awesome idea…Little bit flawed but awesome), but all of the characters are given a retractable jitte as a weapon as well. His seems to be able to shoot out the blade part at his enemies.

Next up, we have Gogul, our resident techie/hacker. He’s blind, but he wears a special visor that allows him to see. No idea how he went blind, but he is. His episode involves him helping out an old criminal friend named Sira or Sara, I couldn’t tell. He’s on the run from the military as Sara is trapping him into testing out a new cyborg weapon. We learn a bit more about Gogul in this episode, but not much. However, we do learn that they’re not the only criminals working for their freedom with the Cyber Police as we actually see someone trying to remove their collar through acquired inside intelligence on the technology, but ultimately end up failing.

Gogul doesn’t seem to have a main weapon. He uses his jitte and gun but doesn’t seem to have a specialty of choice since he’s mostly on the side doing techno-work.

Finally we have Benton. Benten’s main weapon outside of his jitte is a very thin and strong wire that can cut through basically anything like it’s nothing, which is pretty cool and fitting for his style.

And boy they broke the mold when it came to his character design.

What is even on his head? But I guess it’s all the same. After all, they needed someone with big poofy hair to complete their 80s hair band trifecta.

Benten’s episode is the oddest of them all. He’s investigating weird attacks where the victim is drained of blood and has two odd puncture marks on their necks. And yes, the very obvious answer is vampires.

However, it’s not a traditional vampire. Some scientist made a serum that allows him to live forever, but there’s a flaw. Something about not being able to replace hemoglobin or something. The point is they need to drink blood in order to maintain their immortality. In addition, this serum unlocks the person’s latent psychic powers such as telekinesis and teleportation. They can even be torn to bits and put themselves back together again in a completely different room.

Because…

Science.

Not only that, but the only way to kill them for good, besides I suppose starving them, is to stab them through the heart with an altered jitte.

Like Sengoku’s episode, we don’t learn much about Benten in this part. He comes across some woman he, I guess, used to work with or against back when he was a criminal, but they give us no information on what they mean to each other, what happened between them – nothing at all really.

In addition to not learning much about the pasts of these guys, you also never get an ending to their story. The OVA has three short stories or ‘files’ then it just ends. Surprisingly, there is no manga that adds anything more to it either.

That’s really my major problem with this series. I really like the stories, the action, the characters, even if some aspects of this world seem ridiculous, but we don’t get to learn anything else about these characters in terms of their past or future. It’s hard to root for them to actually go free because they state several times that they are only doing this because it’s better than rotting in a jail cell. They seem to have every intention of going back to criminal work if they go free. The only exception is possibly Benten, but that’s unclear. They’re cool, badass characters, but you really just want them to stay as they are. They may break rules all the time, but at least they’re doing it towards noble means.

Finally, I really find it funny that they live in the year 2808 with robots and cyborg technology – Hell they live in a place called Cyber City and are the Cyber Police – but they still use floppy disks and look like they belong in an 80’s music video on VH1.

Art and Animation: The art has aged pretty damn well. It’s still very crisp and appealing even if Benten’s design is kinda kooky. Animation-wise, it’s not amazing but still pretty good.

Music: I actually really love the music for this series. The opening is so 80’s, especially with its low robot voice repeating ‘Cyber City’.

Voice Acting: English Dub – The dubbing actually stands up pretty well too. There’s some hokey acting, but otherwise okay. The main cast is actually really good for the most part.

Bottomline: It’s disappointing with its lack of insight into the past and futures of the main characters and really has no linear storyline, but if you’re okay with just having a few short stories involving crime solving, ass-kicking, robots and vampires, go ahead and have some fun! I know I did.

Additional Information and Notes: Cyber City Oedo 808 was directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, who also directed Wicked City, Demon City Shinjuku, A Wind Named Amnesia, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust and Ninja Scroll. It was written by Akinori Endo, who wrote the screenplay for Battle Angel and 3×3 Eyes, and did writing work on series such as Inuyasha, Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory and Mister Ajikko. It was animated by Madhouse.

While an English dub is available, it is currently not licensed in North America due to the license expiring. It is, however, licensed by Madman Entertainment in Australia and Anime Limited in the UK.

Episodes: 3

Year: 1990-91

Recommended Audience: No sex or nudity, but Sengoku has a real potty mouth. None of the characters are really shy in the cursing department, but Sengoku slings ’em out sailor style. In addition, the series can get pretty damn gory with people blowing up, limbs getting sliced off etc. 15+


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Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Mighty Magiswords

Plot: Warriors for hire, the clumsy sibling team of Vambre and Prohyas, trek out on quests as they collect magiswords – powerful swords of an endless array of shapes, sizes and powers.

Breakdown: I hate that this disappointed me as much as it did.

I had heard a decent amount of good chatter about this show before I finally gave it a watch, and….I just….I didn’t enjoy myself.

My first impression of Mighty Magiswords is that it’s one of those shows that tries too hard, and, as a result, it ends up just basically being a lot of noise. All of the characters are loud and have overly exaggerated mannerisms. Normally, I wouldn’t have much of an issue with that, these are cartoons afterall, but everything goes at such a breakneck pace that you can’t really absorb the jokes when they come along. Some of the jokes hit with me, but everything else was like driveby comedy.

I honestly had such difficulty following along properly that I couldn’t even absorb the main characters names, which is especially odd because the theme song is one of those ‘explain the plot’ songs. I had to look at the Wiki to get their names jotted down. At least I remembered enough to make a suitable plot synopsis.

The hook of the magiswords is interesting, and I can see where the concept would make for a lot of comedy, but I can also see this shtick getting old fast. Basically, magiswords are a grab bag of pretty much any power they can think of from completely useless, like tomatoes and bacon powers, to somewhat good like making your arms super muscular.

The main characters seemingly already have a plethora of these swords that they can wield whenever they please, though it’s impossible to know exactly which ones they have. There was one battle in this episode, and they were whipping out magiswords with chewed bubblegum powers, laser pointers and even frog missiles.

In some ways, this show is kinda reminiscent of old, old, OLD cartoons where they’d pretty much just pull the world and everything in it out of their asses while they do kooky shit and bounce around, but in many others it reminds me of some irritating modern shows, like The Mighty B!, and that’s not a good thing.

Maybe I’m just an old curmudgeon who can’t find a taste for these mile-a-minute insane shows that rely heavily on randomness and yelling for their comedy, but this one just didn’t hit with me.

The art is alright, though there’s not a lot to make it stand out much. I do like that they made Vambre at least a little curvy and stocky instead of being overly stick-ified, but that’s really all the notably positive stuff I have to say in the realm of the art and animation.

I didn’t even really notice the music too much. That was another thing that just kinda got swept up in the rushing waters of this show.

Final Verdict:

Continue no

I can see how some people might like this series, and maybe I’m just missing something, though I’m certainly not the first person to have these criticisms. As far as I can see, it’s just not my cup of tea.


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My AniManga-ish Thoughts on Alien Nine

A handful of years ago, I watched the OVA series Alien Nine – a show about three girls, Yuri, Kumi and Kasumi, who were tasked with being their school’s alien fighters. In this world, aliens landed on earth 14 years ago and dealing with them is pretty much the norm. The aliens seem more like a nuisance than a threat, which is how school alien fighters became a thing. The girls are given Borgs, frog-like alien creatures with wings that establish symbiotic relationships with their hosts, to help them fight the aliens.

Alien fighters are only meant to capture any rogue aliens who are causing problems – killing is a last resort. Despite invading their planet, humans respect the lives of the aliens and do everything in their power to not kill them. Not every alien is as tame as the last, however.

I very much enjoyed the OVA. My only two real gripes about it were 1) It ended on a massive cliffhanger, making the entire series one of those shows where it basically requires you to read the manga to get a full story (I recently learned that they intended on completing the OVA, but they didn’t have the funding. The creators said they were in the process of getting the funding, but it’s assumed that the series fell into development hell and was quietly canceled) and 2) Yuri.

Yuri really damaged my ability to enjoy the OVA. She is one of the whiniest most useless anime characters I’ve ever seen. Like I mentioned in my original review, I give her some leeway because she’s just a 12 year old kid thrown into a dangerous and scary job that she didn’t want or ask for. It’s just treated like another chore at school, but it’s still risky and violent.

However, I only have so much slack in that department. Yuri does….nothing. She cries, she whines, she complains, and the only times she’s actually doing something against the aliens, it’s her Borg going into instant kill mode because Yuri’s so scared that she believes her life is in danger. She’s never not being rescued by someone else. If her Borg isn’t going rogue to protect her, Kumi or Kasumi is rushing in to save her.

Kumi does, rightfully, chew her out for this once. She, as the most responsible one in the group, is fed up with having to clean up other people’s messes, and Yuri is basically a human mess. At home, Kumi has had to fend for herself since she was four since her father died, and her mother is constantly working – she even has to help her mom with her work. Meanwhile, she frequently gets tasked with jobs at school and is usually made class president. While she does all of these jobs without complaining, she thought the one job where she wouldn’t have people so reliant on her with be an alien fighter job, and then she gets Yuri as a teammate.

I really wanted Yuri to get better by the end of the anime, even just a little, but she doesn’t. She leaves her friend in danger because she’s too scared to do anything and the only reason she even does a slight bit near the end is because Kumi came in, saved her ass again and literally held her hand through the ordeal.

Sorry to say, but she doesn’t get any better by the end of the manga either. In fact, she pretty much gets worse. Not only does she maintain her whiny crybaby nature throughout the rest of the manga (I swear she must dehydrate herself on a regular basis as a result of all the tears she has pour from her face), but she keeps making problems for the other girls while contributing nothing to help them.

She wanders into the Forest of Spaceships, a place loaded with aliens and noted by the school as being dangerous and off-limits, just because she was uncomfortable as a result of recent events affecting the team.

That’s really dumb.

She’s a massive crybaby and wimp, why would she do something like go into a dangerous restricted area loaded with aliens, the ones she’s terrified of, just because she’s ‘uncomfortable’? Ms. Hisakawa specifically states the reasoning and says she understands, but it makes no sense at all. Run away, fine, but it really felt like they had her go into the forest just because the plot said so.

Yuri is attacked by aliens and her Borg is separated from her. Realizing Yuri would very likely die, her Borg, being loyal to its partner and wishing to preserve her life in any way it can, stored Yuri’s memories before going into hiding. Yuri, having survived her ordeal, is left in an infantile state for a few chapters as a result.

Yes, Yuri the massive crybaby is a literal baby (mentally) for a while. I honestly can’t tell if that was worse or a bit of a reprieve because she, somehow, didn’t seem like she cried as much in that state.

The girls have to risk their lives and go into the Forest of Spaceships to save her Borg so they can retrieve her memories and bring her back to normal.

Then there’s Yuri causing all sorts of trouble because of her scaredy cat nature prompting her Borg to constantly freak out and kill, even innocent creatures (At one point, as Yuri’s walking away from a freakout incident, her Borg just randomly murders Kasumi and Kumi’s Borgs in cold blood). In addition, the freakouts once get so bad that it causes her Borg to rapidly grow. It couldn’t handle the stress of such a massive freakout and died.

Yes, Yuri killed a Borg with her fear.

At this point, I might say she maybe has anxiety issues or depression, so she may deserve a little more leeway. However, not only is it hard to give such a diagnosis here (Being honest, I don’t really think she displays enough symptoms for a firm diagnosis of either) but the series never mentions or even implies this. I’d have to be forcing my own interpretations onto her character, and I’m not sure how fair that is.

She was at her happiest at summer vacation when her friends basically did everything they could to spend the entire vacation with her doing fun things, but even then she spent a majority of it sporting more of a grimace than an actual smile.

After that, she was a focal point in the Sunflower incident. Sunflower aliens, which are sworn enemies of the alien species most common at the school, the drill clan, of which the Borgs originate, capture Yuri and manipulate her into helping them take over the school. I can’t really pin that much on her in that regard, the Sunflower aliens just targeted her as a host for some reason, but she still acted like a brat during that time – including slicing up Kumi’s body (This will make sense in a bit) and murdering visions of her friends.

You could certainly pin some of her behavior on the Sunflowers, but they never make off like Yuri isn’t Yuri. She’s still conscious, she’s still making decisions on what she does and says, she’s just being influenced by the Sunflowers. In fact, the vision of Kasumi specifically tells Yuri they’re tricking her not controlling her. Their method of manipulating her was giving her encouragement and praise while viewing her friends as picking on her.

I kinda get this, but I also kinda don’t. She’s been given plenty of encouragement and kind words from everyone. They just start faltering on her in response to her stark negativity and, well, personality. It’s not like they’re ragging on her at every turn, they still give her comfort and encouragement all the time, it’s just that there’s only so much they can put up with. It’s difficult to keep giving positivity to someone who responds to most of it with whining and negative comments.

This is the one arc where she actually kinda does something useful of her own volition as she rebels against the Sunflowers’ influence for a minute in order to stop them from taking over Kasumi. She really just plucked the alien off of Kasumi’s head like it was a hat, but she still did something, so that’s good. (For contrast, though, immediately after this, Ms. Hisakawa stops herself from getting taken over by a Sunflower by ripping it apart with her teeth.)

Then, in the sequel Alien Nine Emulators Yuri’s kidnapped by aliens again, needs to be saved again, then she’s targeted AGAIN, and needs to be saved AGAIN.

I understand why she was targeted in the very end, because it was Kumi’s desire not really the aliens, but I don’t get why she’s such a prime target for aliens considering they need hearty hosts. Both the minds and bodies of their hosts need to be strong to properly withstand fusion. Yuri’s body can’t be that strong considering she never actually fights (though I guess she’d be more adapted to alien influence given her time as an alien fighter) and she’s CERTAINLY not mentally strong (Fun fact: One of the chapters has little blurbs from the OVA voice actors on how much they liked the characters they played and how much they enjoyed being on the show. Yuri’s voice actress, Hitomi Tachibana, made a note saying “By the way, I’m not as dumb as Yuri.” I laughed out loud.)

And that’s how the series ends. With Yuri having developed approximately 0%. She started the series as a whiny useless sack of diapers and she ended the series as a whiny useless sack of diapers.

Even her mother stated, out loud, with Yuri right next to her, that she’s always complaining and has never been good at anything. Then she ends the series not being good at anything or even putting forth effort into anything. She never tries to learn how to be an alien fighter, not even for the sake of being better able to protect herself or her friends, she never tries to bond with her Borg or make the best of her situation, she just puts up with it because she’s being forced to do so.

If you’re curious as to why no one will let her quit, I still have no clue. The point of the alien fighters is both to protect the school and train girls for the sake of finding suitable fusion candidates, but Yuri’s very obviously not a good fusion candidate and she’s a massive liability and hazard in battle.

This bothers me a lot because, if you want a character to be whiny, fine. If you want them to cry all the time, fine. Hell, you want them to be useless? Go for it. But 1) The character that is being given these traits should not be THE main character and 2) These traits should not make matters worse for everyone else.

Every time she was faced with even the slightest challenge, she’d just shrivel up like an old banana on a hot rooftop and wait for the Borg or her friends to save her. Even when she has to simply do menial chores, like feeding the captured aliens, she’s crying, whining and complaining.

The only reason Kumi and Kasumi stop getting irritated by her behavior is because, due to their connections to the Borgs, they suffer from empathy whenever one of them is experiencing intense emotions. Since there are obviously numerous times when Yuri is terrified beyond belief, they experience this terror and vow to protect her. Ya know, perpetuating the problem.

What’s even worse is that she never self-evaluates and criticizes herself for how she acts, which is the first step to actually bettering herself. She just blames the world, basically. Stupid classmates for making her an alien fighter. Stupid aliens for existing. Stupid Borgs for being gross, even though they’re literally creatures meant to protect her at all costs and make her happy. There are even some points where she seems to direct her irritation towards Kumi and Kasumi for either things that were completely beyond their control or for seemingly treating her poorly when they either weren’t or they were, but it was only because she was being ungodly irritating and unhelpful in life-threatening situations.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, they decided to make Kumi and Yuri romantically interested in each other, I guess. Yes, Kumi, the girl who was sick to death of protecting this useless blob of jello, and Yuri, aforementioned useless blob of jello, get so close that they’re legit romantic interests by the end, even kissing twice. They don’t focus on the romantic angle much, but it is there in black and white.

And…I don’t…understand.

I specifically don’t understand why Kumi’s feelings seem the strongest. Yuri is obviously dependent on Kumi to a pathetic degree, but there’s no question that Kumi’s feelings for Yuri are given more focus. In fact, it really seems like it’s a one-sided affair because I can’t think of any instance where they frame a scene or dialogue like Yuri sees Kumi as anything more than a big sister/parent/guardian/friend.

Again, she doesn’t develop at all over the course of the series. The same girl that Kumi screamed at for being useless to a point of endangerment is the same girl she’s developing a crush on. You can’t really control who you develop feelings for, I suppose, but this seems like a harmful co-dependent relationship.

Yuri has literally zero likable traits. Like most useless crybaby characters, you can say she’s nice but that’s about it, and, surprisingly, even that’s not all that strong. There are numerous times where she’s being grumpy or copping an attitude at someone or just being an overall downer on everything. Then there are the moments where she’s abandoning her friends in dangerous situations because she’s just too scared to do anything.

Kumi and Kasumi are more interesting as characters, and it’s really disappointing that they weren’t given the main focus. I think Kasumi in particular would have been a better focal main character because she was very interesting before the incident with the Yellow Knife and got even more interesting after the fact. I liked how, after the incident, you never truly knew if she was always acting in the best interests of her team. She nearly bounced back and forth between friend and foe.

Kumi wasn’t as interesting as Kasumi, but she would still be a better choice than Yuri, and she suffered from a very fascinating yet tragic plight after her murder…..No, I’m not kidding.

*sigh* But enough about Yuri – what of the rest of the story?

Sadly, that was also a little disappointing.

Again, they just left me wanting more, but in a different way from the cliffhanger of the OVA.

The pacing and structure of this series are out of whack. They will omit or skim through interesting parts of their universe. For example, what are the aliens, and what do they want? How has the government and society as a whole been dealing with this on a wider scale? Why are they training these kids in secret? I feel like doing such a thing is incredibly unethical and should be illegal. Why are those who are fused, such as Ms. Hisakawa, seemingly keeping their alien nature a secret from the students at the start but it just seems like something people know about and accept later on? Why is it important for humanity to give the Borg aliens what they want but also refuse other aliens the same thing?

Not only that but major events will go by way too quickly as well. It makes it difficult to really care about dark or tragic turns in the plot when they go by in a flash. I believe the OVA, while also having the same issue of not really explaining deeper details of the world much, which is really the fault of the manga, did the pacing and structure much better. Makes me all the more disappointed that the OVA series never got to continue.

You want a perfect example of how screwed up the pacing and structure are in the manga? The final two pages are literally the entire resolution to the final big conflict and then most of the main characters leaving for America and Yuri going ‘Thanks a lot.’ That’s just….it. It ends.

I figured the plot would really take off once I reached the point where the OVA left off, which was Kumi seemingly murdered and Kasumi looking like she was possessed by the Yellow Knife that attacked the school and tried to fuse with her.

It did take off, but it never really soared, ya know? There are consequences that are felt throughout the entirety of the manga, but it’s pretty much the same thing over and over. An alien attacks, wants to fuse with everyone, most likely targets Yuri in some way, save Yuri, defeat alien.

Some cool and interesting things happen, usually regarding Kumi, Kasumi or even Ms. Hisakawa, but it is the same formula over and over. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you do enough with the formula, but I don’t think it really did.

The most interesting arc was the Yellow Knife incident, which was covered in the OVA. The Yellow Knives have sonic powers that allow them to knock people out, communicate and even create hallucinations. That combined with Kasumi’s plight of being trapped within the Yellow Knife and really not wanting to leave made the story very compelling and interesting. Compared to the Sunflowers, which were kinda boring, and the Gladiuses, which were really just a different form of Borgs with the same drill-cable powers, it feels like they used their best card first.

I suppose that’s why the finale brings back the Yellow Knives in spades, but it almost entirely focuses on Kumi and Yuri with the Yellow Knives being more of a backdrop or tool.

Picking up from where the OVA left off, Kumi did legitimately die. Her stomach and some of her other organs were consumed by the alien that attacked her. However, she’s basically brought back to life because they have some sort of special cell gel that regenerates their bodies, which….I thought was a bit of a bad choice. Kumi’s ‘death’ was extremely shocking in the OVA and I was itching to find out how they’d deal with such a blow, but she’s barely ‘dead’ a full chapter before she’s brought back.

Introducing an item that has such incredible regenerative powers that it can bring people back to life easily (with a Borg’s help in restoring the memories anyway) and even restore limbs puts death nearly off the table and lowers the tension significantly. They don’t even care much when their Borgs die. They just grow new ones.

The most prominent conflict that arises is the topic of fusing with the aliens. Ms. Hisakawa, who herself is a fused being, is basically training the girls to become strong enough to fuse with the aliens for…I suppose the aliens’ sake for some reason. The aliens do need humans, but it’s never made clear why the humans care about what the aliens need. The only information we get is that humans ‘have no other choice’ but to do so. However, they never explain why we don’t have a choice.

Fusing is a big commitment, obviously. You’re literally sharing your body and mind with an alien being. If you’re not strong enough, mentally and physically, many problems will arise that may result in the death of the host.

You do get some benefits from the deal. You’re never lonely, you can send the alien out to do things for you, you’re always protected by it and you might even get some cool powers of your own. For example, those fused with Borgs get cool drill-cable hair and those fused with Yellow Knives get sonic waves.

Kumi is basically forced to fuse with a Borg after she ‘dies’ but her case is much, much worse than Ms. Hisakawa’s. While the only real alien part of Ms. Hisakawa is her hair, practically all of Kumi below her neck is a Borg, or, more to the point, it’s a series of drill-cables. When she’s restored with the cell gel, it’s really creating a skin-like structure around drill-cables that are making up her body. She struggles accepting the fact that she’s not only now fused with an alien but now has such a monstrous body.

While they didn’t handle this plot point poorly, I think they’ve could have approached it a lot better. She never breaks down or really has a full-on struggle with this even though anyone else would be devastated beyond belief if they lost pretty much their entire body and had them replaced with alien drill-cables and fake skin.

She lashes out about her eaten stomach once by kicking a garbage can full of aliens, and she sadly laments that she’ll never get a husband with a body like that now, but that’s about it.

This is the main reason why Kumi would have been such a great choice as a main character. The opportunity of exploring such a struggle is unique and incredibly interesting, but it’s pretty much wasted.

It can be argued that her psychological trauma involving her physical changes manifested itself in a much stronger desire to protect Yuri from the same fate, which is indeed brought up and would explain the sudden romantic feelings for Yuri. She’s not internalizing her pain or really vocalizing how terrible she feels about it – she’s channeling it into a drive to be overprotective towards the last full human in their group.

And because she’s now a fused being, she feels a strong desire to fuse, like all of the aliens do. I suppose her fixation on fusing with Yuri and only Yuri could be a result of her intense desire to protect her. It’s not just to sate the deep feelings of loneliness she gets as a fused being now (It should be noted that even though she’s fused, Kumi doesn’t have an alien to talk to, she’s more of an alien by herself.), but also to better protect Yuri and always keep an eye on her………

…..I have no idea why I usually find myself getting analytical in a psychological manner at 3AM and after I’ve already written contradicting viewpoints on the third draft. Stupid brain.

I’ll fully accept that explanation and eat some crow on some of my earlier related complaints, but I still think it would’ve been very beneficial to see her react more strongly to the state of her body. Also, the fact that she frickin’ died is something that you’d think would be something to see a therapist about, but I guess not.

It’s a little more understandable with Kasumi because she’s more mentally influenced by the Yellow Knife with which she’s fused. Plus, her personality beforehand was perfect for fusion. She was always jazzed about alien stuff and was their most enthusiastic fighter. I can totally see her being down with fusion. My problem with Kasumi in this regard is that she’s the first of the girls to fuse – somewhat drawn to the Yellow Knife due to her loneliness since her brother is studying overseas. She seemingly fuses willingly, if not happily, because she doesn’t want to be lonely anymore, but we never meet her brother or explore their relationship in the slightest. We don’t even know his name.

Loneliness is a big topic in this series. The aliens all need relationships in order to live and thrive. They get very affected by feelings of loneliness, to the point where they can die from it, and they strongly desire connections and fusions. Kasumi’s loneliness is the crux for her fusion, but it seems wasted to not really give proper due to the reasons behind her loneliness.

Even the grand finale of Emulators centers on loneliness. Kumi is essentially dying from loneliness because she refuses to fuse with Yuri and, I guess, she feels like she might be losing Yuri because she’s “growing up” and talked to a boy for five minutes. I’m going to assume that’s just the influence of the alien blood making her too possessive. However, Kasumi can’t take Kumi’s pain and suffering anymore so she tries to guilt Yuri into fusing with Kumi.

Kasumi has Kumi and Yuri both eaten by a Yellow Knife in order to forcibly fuse them together, but Kumi doesn’t want that and begs Monami (a new alien fighter at their junior high who has fused with her Borg. Strangely, she doesn’t have drill-cable hair, she has whip-like tentacle hair) to kill her to stop the fusion. They’re able to extract Yuri and save Kumi in the nick of time, but she’s in bad shape. And by ‘bad shape’ I mean she’s basically just a head being kept alive by a Borg.

Ms. Hisakawa and Kasumi head to California to help Kumi recover…..why she needs to go all the way California for that, I don’t know. They did mention that was where the first ‘Alien party’ was founded, but they never explain what that means. Yuri can barely eek out a ‘thank you’ to Kasumi and Kumi before they leave, which is nice for all the shit they went through for her.

I suppose this ending might be symbolic, like she’s letting them go and be away from her and vice versa in Kumi’s case so they won’t be so reliant on each other, but it’s not permanent, and it’s very possible Yuri will just rely on Monami from this point on, so….I dunno. It’s not clear.

The end.

Keep in mind, that was the ending of Emulators not the main manga. The main manga ended shortly after the Sunflower incident with an implication that Yuri was turning into a Borg since her hair was stubbornly turning into spirals, but Emulators never does anything with it. She just has a few curls in her hair as a result of the Sunflower incident or her Borg trying to fuse with her, I suppose.

There was another continuation called Alien Nine Next, but I debated talking about it because it’s very….weird in relation to the other manga. Not to mention that it seems like the manga was dropped after three chapters, possibly due to financial restraints since it had to be self-published, and left off on a massive cliffhanger. It’s possible there could be continuation some day but not only has there not been an update in nearly five years but the author also hasn’t published anything else in that time span either.

The story of Next takes place 11 years after the events of the original two manga. Yuri is, inexplicably, employed at an alien pest control company run by Monami. Wrap your head around that. The girl who hated every millisecond of her life as an alien fighter, completely sucked at it and wanted nothing more to do with aliens once school was over now has a career as a professional alien fighter. And she was hired by Monami, of all people. The girl who kept criticizing Yuri’s abilities as an alien fighter and her general scatterbrained lazy behavior hired her to be an alien fighter. Is it just because they’re friends and she took pity on her because she didn’t have the ability to do any other job?

By the way, the spiraling hair I mentioned a little bit ago? It’s completely gone in Next, so I have no clue what that was even supposed to be about. If she was an alien fighter all through school and is now a professional alien fighter, one would think she’s had so much exposure to Borgs that she’d be nearly if not entirely fused with one by now.

Kumi is being sent into space on the first ever joint mission between the Borgs and the Yellow Knives to do…..Pbbbbttttt something. It’s never really made clear what the mission is. There’s some seed on the ship that’s super important, but we’re never told what it is or what it does. Joining Kumi are Borgs containing the memories and personalities of Kasumi, Ms. Hisakawa and Yuri because….again, I really don’t know. I guess just for company? Or to always have her friends with her? Maybe for extra protection, but there’s really no need for them to have their personalities if that’s the reason.

By a mere moment, Yuri misses bidding farewell to Kumi on this mission that might take decades or centuries to complete and might yield death before she even starts it (Kumi no longer ages, by the way. Looking back, that might be the reason why Kumi was so concerned when she noted Yuri was ‘growing up’ but I don’t believe so. That would imply that she realizes Yuri’s mortal in an aging sense while Kumi’s not and would one day die and leave her alone. The dialogue didn’t imply anything nearly that heavy, so I’m going to stick with the idea that she was “growing up” in a manner of becoming an adult, finding someone else to love and leaving her one day. The fact that that line was coupled with the very brief shot of Yuri befriending a guy supports that idea.) Kumi stews in the ship saying this is the one thing Yuri could have made proper effort to do right, and yeah…she’s got a point.

Granted, the reason she didn’t get there in time was because she was prepping the Borg with her memories, but considering they had to have known Kumi was planning to do this for probably months if not years, she had plenty of time to get that done beforehand. Ms. Hisakawa and Kasumi prepped their Borgs and got them in well ahead of time with no problem.

Just as a cherry on top, later, Yuri is shown being angry with Kumi because she sent her an email about her leaving instead of coming to talk with her personally. Monami argues that talking with her in person is pointless and when asked why she says ‘Occam’s Razor.’ Which….I guess she’s arguing that talking to Yuri in person wasn’t necessary because it’s adding needless complication and jibber jabber to a situation Yuri is too simple to really grasp anyway? I really don’t get how Occam’s Razor applies here otherwise. I would say it would be adding needless emotional complication, but this is the same girl who barely said ‘Thanks a lot’ before Kumi left the country for god knows how long in the original manga, so I don’t think that’s an issue.

Am I just being dumb or something? What does she mean?

Meanwhile, Kasumi is now queen of the Yellow Knives. Why? I have no goddamn clue. Yellow Knives are now littering the city just sitting on buildings willy-nilly (Keep in mind, they’re massive. About the size of a house) Kasumi is helping out with Kumi’s mission back on earth, using the Yellow Knives’ power to help communicate with her and keep tabs on what’s going on.

Something that always bothered me about this overall concept, even though I really like it, is that it feels like there should be way more people involved with this stuff, but it’s always these young girls (though they’re women in Next) and one adult. The aliens obviously pose a threat to public safety – why is there no special military, task force or scientists etc. helping with alien activity, especially in regards to fusing and sending people into space acting as ambassadors to other alien species?

Kumi lands on the Borg homeworld and, because science, Yuri’s Borg, and only Yuri’s Borg, births a body, allowing Yuri herself, a clone of her anyway, to be present with Kumi, which Kumi doesn’t appreciate. She freaks out because now she has to worry about protecting Yuri in addition to doing her mission. As she looks for supplies for Yuri, I get deja vu because Kumi complains that the first thing she has to do is take care of Yuri, as usual.

Before I continue, let me give credit where credit is due. Even though Yuri still has that Charlie Brown-esque grumpy expression plastered on her face all the time, even though she still complains and whines, even though she still needs protection at all times, she does more and shows more growth in this three chapter sequel than she ever did in the entirety the original manga.

In the first chapter, she shows a bit of determination to persevere when she’s trying to reach Kumi’s ship in time and gets knocked down by a bolt of electricity. In the second chapter, her clone recovers and protects the seed, though, admittedly, she complains while she does it and states that she’s only doing it so Kumi won’t yell at her. In the third chapter, she (her clone anyway) FINALLY actively does something of her own accord and sets off to save Kumi, but because the manga ends here we don’t get to see her actually do anything.

Their ship is attacked by Borgs and they capture Kumi. Clone!Yuri avoids capture by being in some weird very deep tank in order to retrieve the seed and protect it. By the time she surfaces, Kumi’s gone. Kasumi’s Borg merges with Yuri’s Borg to send a transmission to Kasumi about their current situation, which causes their old school’s principal, another fused being, to lose her mind, babbling about the original Borgs. She murders Kasumi on site, but that’s okay because the Yellow Knives just birth a whole slue of new Kasumis. They really don’t want death to matter in this series, do they?

The last we see of our heroes, Kumi was being held captive by the original Borgs, a newborn Kasumi clone is excited about meeting the original Borgs, clone!Yuri is floating in the expanse of space not knowing what to do and Yuri and Monami are approached by some creepy guy saying he has a job for them.

The end.

Considering the end slate for the third chapter has ‘To be continued’ written on it like the other chapters, I’m going to hazard a guess and say that the speculation is correct and this series was probably just shelved because of financial issues.

But what confused me about that is, unlike the other two manga which were very simple in their art and were published in black and white, this one is not only fully colored and more detailed, but it also has quite a bit of 3D CGI. If you were self-published and struggling financially with your publication, why would choose one of the most expensive and time-consuming methods of doing your art?

In the end, if you read Next then you’re pretty much going to be left off with the same unfulfilled feeling that the OVA leaves you with. Maybe a little less so because you have much more of the story under your belt, but still.

It’s a shame, too, because Alien Nine, in its entirety, has a lot of really cool ideas that I’d love to see explored more thoroughly. The main concept alone really drew me in. Who wouldn’t want a job at their school where you get a cool, cute and kickass Borg pal that sits on your head and fight aliens while you’re patrolling the school in rollerblades and using a lacrosse stick as a weapon? That’s AWESOME!

While I had a lot to complain about here, I still enjoyed the series for what it was worth, even if we ultimately looped back around to Cliffhanger Town in Next. If you choose to ignore Next, then the series ended in a fairly decent spot. Emulators has a better end than the first manga, but that’s only because the continuation is so seamless that I feel like Emulators isn’t even a different manga.

However, even Next, despite its drastically different feel and setting, introduced some interesting ideas and concepts that I would have liked to explore. And I am definitely into the idea of seeing Yuri be more proactive and brave. I don’t need to see her going action hero on me, but just knowing she was at least starting to head in the right direction in Next was enough to spur my interest. Then again, if it took Yuri 11 frickin’ years just to get to this point, they’d probably need to write 50 more volumes to make her enjoyable to watch.

I’m still interested to know how the world they live in works side-by-side with the aliens, the intricacies of fusion, what other types of aliens are in their world and what kinds of powers they have. There are endless possibilities and opportunities here, but I feel like it really is a case of great ideas with problematic execution.

The final aspect I’ll go over before I close out is the art. This series is praised for its cutesy shoujo style being coupled with an otherwise dark manga. The characters all have very large and round faces with giant eyes, as I mentioned in the OVA review. At least you can see the noses in the manga much better than you could in the anime. The OVA did a very good job emulating the art style otherwise. I love the designs of the Borgs. I really want a Borg hat with all my heart and soul.

The art as a whole, as I mentioned earlier, is still very simplistic and hardly ever detailed very much. It’s not much of a problem, in my opinion. I have more issues with the structure of the scenes, the pacing and flow of the story than I do with the way the art presents the scenes.

In Next, it seems Tomizawa realized his eye problem and toned it down a tad, but I can’t shake the feeling that the characters feel more artificial in Next than they do in the original manga. I don’t know if it has something to do with the CGI aspect or he changed other parts of the art besides coloring it, but it feels off. The characters tend to feel more like dolls than real people.

Bottomline: Alien Nine, OVA and manga, are far from perfect but they are very enjoyable, present many intriguing ideas and create unique worlds that are just itching to be explored. I was engaged in the story the whole way through, even if there was some repetition and a lack of truly deep impacts. The main problems lie in the messy structure, the fact that tension is greatly reduced by nearly nullifying injuries and death entirely, outside of killing aliens, the lack of thorough world-building and, of course, focusing so much on such an irritating character as the main lead.

At the very least, Yuri should have had SOME degree of character development over the course of the manga, but she really doesn’t. Not even slightly. It takes her 11 years before she even shows signs of trying not to be such a massive crybaby, and of course that’s the entry that gets shelved….

The OVA did a fantastic job adapting what they could, especially considering they fix certain issues I had with the manga. I am bummed that they never got to continue. Since we’re living in reboot city, maybe the possibility of continuing on in anime is more plausible than finishing the manga.

If you caught onto the manga after feeling a yearn for resolution from the OVA, you’ll find your closure here, at least if you don’t read Next. In my opinion, you really need to read Emulators to get proper closure as the original just kinda stops, but you will find closure. I think you should still read Next, if you ever have the opportunity, because it’s also interesting in its own right and even improves the pacing and structure issues I had with the original manga.

I do hope that the manga series continues on in the future. I’m not holding my breath, especially considering the author hasn’t written anything since the cancellation of Next, but it seems like such a waste to leave it where it is.


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SSBS – Tokyo Mew Mew Episode 47: The Power of Love – I Will Protect Aoyama-Kun!

SSBS - TMM EP 47

Plot: Deep Blue has changed Pai and Taruto’s directive to destroying The Blue Knight.

Meanwhile, Aoyama proves to be a huge hit as a waiter in the cafe since all of the local girls crowd in to gush over him in his uniform. Shirogane, however, continues to be wary of their new team member.

The next day, the aliens attack with a floating blobby squid-like Chimera Animal. Aoyama and Ichigo rush into action together, soon met with the other Mews. After transforming, they try to take down the Chimera Animal, but to no avail. With a smokescreen, the Chimera Animal is able to blindside the girls and ensnare them all in its tentacles.

The Blue Knight tries to save Ichigo, but Pai stops him. The Chimera Animal lines up razor sharp tendrils to Ichigo’s head and threatens her life if he resists. The Blue Knight has no choice but to relent. Pai and Taruto then mercilessly beat The Blue Knight with intents to kill him. Ichigo is forced to watch her beloved get beaten within an inch of his life and it’s all for her sake – all because he wants to protect her and nothing else.

Ichigo cries out for Aoyama as several of her tears fall on The Blue Knight’s cheek. As his consciousness starts to wane, he remembers his dreams of Mew Ichigo crying on the ground.

With a flash, Ichigo is suddenly imbued with massive power, allowing her to break free and protect The Blue Knight from a surely fatal blast. Ichigo has taken it upon herself to be Aoyama’s protector just as much as he is hers. With the most powerful Ribbon Strawberry Surprise she’s ever conjured, she blows the Chimera Animal away and the aliens retreat.

The group and city are safe once more, but Kisshu looks on with suspicious eyes. That power may have been impressive, but it wasn’t Ichigo’s.

——————————

– Eugh, this episode has the same weird eye problem the previous episode had. In fact, it might even be worse.

– I understand that Aoyama’s the reason why all of these girls are there, but why are the other Mews standing there watching him instead of….ya know…waitressing?

– OH MY GOD, AOYAMA WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU IN THIS SHOT?!

SSBS - TMM EP 47 1

Oddly, this shot reminds me a LOT of how Aoyama tends to look in the manga. It’s creepy, knock it off.

– Ichigo draws fanart of her boyfriend…..Okie dokie.

– I’ll bite my tongue on all of the Aoyama protecting Ichigo stuff because I know this episode has her protecting him, but watch it, show. I’m still salty about the trident attack from last episode.

– The animation on that Chimera Animal is so weird and not in a good way.

– Why haven’t Ichigo and Aoyama transformed already? Don’t they travel a lot faster that way?

– Wait, Aoyama got an entirely new and somehow shorter transformation animation for this episode. He flies up, glowing blue, then as they focus on his eye, we fade into BK and then we see him in front of a much better background than he had last time. Why was his transformation changed literally one episode after he first got his transformation? And why cut out the part with his sword? That’s really the only thing he was really doing in the original version.

– Wow, one of the only times I’ve ever seen legit streams of blood in this show. Why is it that blood only appears when the guys are on screen? The last time, it was Kisshu getting wounded, now BK’s sword strikes to the Chimera Animal cause it to bleed profusely even though Zakuro just hacked one of those same tentacles into several pieces and there was no blood to be found.

– I can’t keep quiet anymore – the animation budget and this episode apparently never met. It’s a tossup between this episode and the last as to which is worse, and I’m inclined to put more chips on this one. There are numerous odd faces and so many instances of paper-cutout animation that it’s hard to ignore.

– Pai’s acting really weird in this episode. Usually he maintains his composure and attacks with his powers, but here he’s losing his temper for some reason and is just wailing on BK with his fists.

– Guys, you have lightning powers than can take out whole towns, incredibly powerful poisons, so many ways to just kill the guy you were instructed to just kill, but you’re taking your sweet time pummeling him instead.

– Hrmmmmmm……I wanted this episode to be a real true example of Ichigo taking the reigns and being the protector this time around after last week angered me so much. Sad to say, it didn’t really work out that way.

The only reason Aoyama was in trouble in the first place was because Ichigo became a damsel in distress again, and the only way she protected him in the end……*sigh* was through her tears. Granted, she did come to the realization that it’s important to not always rely on Aoyama to be protected and that she needs to protect him right back (Which is something that she shouldn’t really need to learn. She’s protected Aoyama several times at this point) but she still only gained massive main character powers because she cried over Aoyama.

Also, again, the others Mews were entirely useless in this battle. You might as well save on animation and replace them all with sock puppets at this point. No one would notice.

– By the by, she’s glowing bluish with this attack and the power was triggered by intense emotions, so was Mew Aqua involved or somethi–

Kisshu: “Wrong.”

….Que?

Kisshu: “That power was not Ichigo’s.”

………….*rubs temples* Wait, let me back up.

Ichigo….cried….which gave her lots of power….lots of….blue power…..Her tears…..landed on BK’s face before it happened, and we saw an overlay of her face meeting BK’s right before she exploded with power.

…..Are

you

kidding

me?

Are you saying BK transferred his power to Ichigo or something, which allowed her to have this massive increase in power to take out the Chimera Animal in one fell swoop?

Are you saying, by proxy, BK saved HIMSELF…and proved, again, that he is the most powerful person in the group?

Okay, okay, hang on. Maybe I’m just jumping to conclusions. Maybe I’m reading too far into this. I’m going to do the rational thing and peek through the next episode to see–

*one peek later*

Fuck off. No, really. Do that. Fuck off. And fuck what I said about BK not being as bad as Tuxedo Mask in regards to making off like a guy is constantly saving the heroines – he is officially much worse. I know the twist of his true identity, I do, and logically it would make sense for him to be this powerful, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is basically the enraging previous episode only worse. Wanna know why?

Because either consciously or subconsciously, Aoyama knew he couldn’t fight the aliens because, if he did, Ichigo would die. So he transferred power to her to let her take the reigns so he could save himself and HER by proxy. In short, Aoyama was both the hero and heroine in this episode, and that’s just bullshit.

I may complain about Ichigo getting all the best powers and stuff, but this is one step short of when parents do something and secretly let their kids think they did it to make them believe they’re grown up or magic or something.

——————————————

This episode was 75% utter bullshit. The 25% is the first part of the episode where I really got jazzed because Pai was so intent on getting BK to the point where he was kinda frightening, he had a solid plan to do so, and I really wanted to see Ichigo just kick a door down or something and badass her way to protecting Aoyama.

But that’s not what we got is it? What we got was a lie. Even without the whole concept of BK transferring his powers to Ichigo, whether he meant to or not, he was only in danger because Ichigo was damsel’d, and she only triggered these powers through her goddamn tears. Far from the badassery I had anticipated.

Do I even need to bring up the other Mews? Mew Blank, Mew Open Space, Mew Placeholder and Mew Error 404 Not Found? They literally come out of nowhere, try to attack, but prove fruitless, then they’re also damsel’d but the focus is given to Ichigo because she’s most important. At least there’s finally one instance of BK trying to save a Mew other than Ichigo for a damn change, but that’s obviously just exacerbating the problem isn’t it?

I honestly don’t remember having this severe of a problem with BK the last couple of times I watched through this series. Granted, both of those times I wasn’t really so deep into reviewing or analysis, but seriously, how did I overlook this?

Plus, despite the gravity of this episode, the animation is distractingly terrible. There aren’t so many laughable frames as your typical mess fest Mew Mew episode, but they are there and there are so many instances of paper-cutout movement it’s ridiculous. They even do it when the movement is entirely unnecessary. Like, hey, Ichigo’s prepping to attack – let’s make her character layer bigger and create the illusion that we’re zooming in on her for no reason.

Next episode, a nice barbecue for the team, but they’re quickly targeted by Kisshu who wants to make his true final stand against BK.


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Illuminating Illumination – Despicable Me (2010) Review

Rating: 7/10

Plot: An aspiring supervillain, Gru, adopts three young girls to unwittingly help him with his plan to steal the moon. While initially using the girls as tools for his scheme, Gru finds himself rather liking fatherhood, though he’d be hardpressed to admit it. Still, the life of a villain and the life of a father don’t mix. It’s either shoot for the moon or follow your heart.

Breakdown: Illumination! They’re sure a company alright……

I have nothing against Illumination, really I don’t, but they always seemed like the animation company out of the big-wigs to be solely focused on money. There’s nothing wrong with that, they are a company afterall, but there’s something inherently…..artificial about nearly all of their movies. There’s never been much heart to them. And that’s before we get to the over-commercialization of nearly all of their properties. Do I need to bring up The Lorax being whored out to any company who would give them a buck, including a damn car company? The cognitive dissonance there was astounding.

And no.

No.

I’m not forgetting the minions.

It’s hard to avoid the flood of minions that came as a result of this franchise to the point where even a movie was made based on the little yellow pill bugs that ended up being, and I’m not kidding here, Illumination’s most successful movie to date. I don’t dislike the minions, I actually find them kinda cute and funny, but oversaturation can make anything a living nightmare.

The minions have become so front and center to this franchise that most of the current DVD and Blu-Ray box covers for the movies either feature them prominently with Gru and the girls in the background or it’s just the minions. There was one box art cover that was literally just one minion taking up the entire space.

But hey, they make the money.

Illumination is really is good at making money. Even their worst film by far, Hop, which I won’t be reviewing because it’s not animated, made more than three times its budget back. They’re a company that tends to know what they’re doing. They’re not out to make incredibly impacting stories or mind-blowing cinematic experiences – they’re out to make money. I can’t damn them for that, but I can give appropriate criticisms to their work.

Which leads us to our feature film.

Despicable Me is another one of those movies people would probably be surprised to hear that I’ve never seen before now. I never had much of an interest is all. No one’s ever told me that I had to see this movie for any reason or heard so many people quoting it or referencing it that my curiosity peaked. I’ve seen bits and pieces on TV before and it failed to hold my attention long enough for me to stay on that channel.

Who can really blame me? I mean, look at that plot synopsis and tell me you can’t give me a full explanation of what happens in this movie just by reading that paragraph. Not that being predictable is entirely a bad thing as long as you add substance and style to it, but this movie really does hit every beat you expect it to. About the only thing that surprised me even a little was that Vector, the antagonist, was actually a serious antagonist and THE main antagonist for the movie.

Not that that counted for much either considering he was a very predictable antagonist once it’s revealed that he is a serious threat, and that happened very early in the movie.

I actually got annoyed at the predictability at one point. Vector kidnaps the girls and holds them hostage so Gru will give him the moon. I said, out loud, “He’s not going to give the girls back once the moon is his, is he?” He, of course, doesn’t, but what irked me was, as he revealed he was doing this and was leaving Gru to his own devices, he yelled out ‘UNPREDICTABLE!’ I nearly had the pause the movie there because I wanted to slap somebody. Yes, it’s so unpredictable to do the exact thing expected of the villain in that exact situation.

Then, later, there’s a scene where Gru’s trying to save the girls from Vector’s ship midair and again, I said, out loud, “Vector’s going to show up and grab the girls before they jump, isn’t he?” Sure enough, I was right again.

While it was also par for the course that Gru had a somewhat sad childhood, that being his mother rarely ever paying attention to him, I felt like the role of his mother was kinda weird. They pepper flashbacks throughout the movie of Gru trying to impress his mother and her responding with ‘Meh.’ over and over, to everything. So, of course, he develops a complex about it. It’s even kinda implied that maybe Gru would’ve become a legitimate scientist or astronaut or something if his mother actually supported him. Instead, he became a supervillain and she’s still not impressed.

She randomly appears in the middle of the movie in present day, somehow knowing Gru adopted three girls, and the first thing she does when she arrives is show the girls a bunch of Gru’s baby pictures, which doesn’t line up with what we knew of her to this point. How do you go from a mother who seems to give zero shits about her son to her instantly visiting when she finds out he adopted kids and jumping at the chance to show them a ton of pictures of lil Gru?

Finally, she shows up at the end of the movie to watch the girls do ballet and she tells Gru he’s a good parent, probably even better than she was, and…I guess that’s the end of that arc? It felt like they skipped a bunch of development there. Just she was a crappy mom and now she’s a good grandma and passable mom?

So…..guess what the movie ends with.

A dance party.

Because someone at some point during the 2000s made a rule that all mediocre animated movies have to end in dance parties.

I want to make it clear that I didn’t dislike this movie. I knew what I was getting into from the start and it pretty much met expectations.

It’s an okay movie. The story’s predictable as hell, but the comedy is decent. The heartwarming moments go toe-to-toe with the sad moments, but neither really go far enough to pluck any heartstrings. There is nothing explicitly bad about the movie outside of its predictability. Even its art and animation stand up pretty well after nearly a decade. The voice acting is also pretty good. Steve Carell as Gru really ran with his character and even though the girls could sometimes be obnoxious, they were pretty realistically portrayed and well acted.

In fact, let me give this movie some more slack. There were some aspects that strayed away from the norm that made this experience a little better for me.

First of all, even though the minions are still, well, minions, it’s very obvious that Gru cares about all of these little guys. He treats them like family instead of abusing them left and right like most villains would do. I really appreciated that. The abusive asshole aspect would have made it harder to accept Gru as a good guy and would have made the movie feel more mean-spirited.

Secondly, despite his follies, Gru is a very competent supervillain. It’s just that circumstances tend to kick him in the ass sometimes.

Thirdly, they didn’t viciously harp on the girls’ orphan status as much as I thought they would. They had every opportunity in the world to play the ‘our parents used to (blank)’ card many times and they didn’t even really bring up their biological parents. To be honest, I’m not even sure if these girls are related at all and they seem to be the only kids at this orphanage barring one other girl we see in the box of shame.

They did kinda play up the fact that their orphanage is shitty place, though. The person who runs the orphanage is a total bitch who forces the girls to sell cookies door to door for the sake of the orphanage’s profit. She’s not physically abusive, but she is emotionally abusive. I wouldn’t say she’s bad enough for me to get into hatred territory, though. She’s a bitch, no doubt about that, but it’s like they wanted Delores Umbridge and got her more mellow second cousin twice removed.

Finally, Dr. Nefario, Gru’s right-hand man and head scientist, had a pretty good role and relationship with Gru. He didn’t hate the girls or even hate that Gru was showing signs that he wanted to be a dad – he just knew what their goals were and wanted to keep Gru on track. I do kinda resent him for sending the girls away behind Gru’s back, but he randomly decided to help save the girls in the end so I guess it’s all good.

In the end, it’s very much an okay movie. I probably won’t get the urge to watch it again anytime soon, but I would consider leaving it on if I saw it while flipping through channels.

I suppose I picked a good time to watch this, too, considering that the latest Despicable Me movie, Minions: The Rise of Gru, is coming out this July and there’s a Despicable Me 4 on the production slate down the line (Even though, if you count the Minions movies as being Despicable Me movies, which you probably should, that means that title should technically be Despicable Me 6….Yikes.)

Recommended Audience: There’s some questionable humor here and there, usually relegated to potty humor, but there is one joke where Edith, the middle kid, gets caught in an iron maiden, there’s a puddle of ‘blood’ that pools as a result and Gru brushes it off. It’s just her punctured juice box, but I was still pretty shocked they put in such a joke.

There’s also a moment where Gru makes the girls shaped pancakes and Edith’s (It should be noted that Edith has a thing for violence and the like) is a dead body that I’m almost certain was meant to be dead from a gunshot wound considering the hole in its chest…

Other than that, nothing really. 7+


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