Thanksgiving Special: Pepper Ann – Thanksgiving Dad Review

Plot: On Halloween, Pepper Ann gets a call from her dad telling her and her sister to prepare for a surprise from him on Thanksgiving. She believes he’s going to visit for the holiday, something that makes her super excited since she doesn’t get to see much of him since the divorce. But is she getting her hopes up for no reason?

Breakdown: No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. No, this isn’t a sign of the end times. I got a Thanksgiving special out, ON TIME, and it kinda sorta doubles are more Animating Halloween stuff….a little….it is for the first minute and a half. I’m counting it.

Like I’ve mentioned several times while doing these Thanksgiving special reviews, it’s very, very difficult for them to stray from the norm. Basically any Thanksgiving trope you can think of is here. Parent rushing to get the dinner to be absolutely perfect, basically a warzone at the grocery store, not being able to find one specific item that you need for the dinner, crazy relatives who won’t stop fighting, the yearning for the kid to eat at the adult table, and finally, the one thing practically no Thanksgiving special is without – the dinner getting completely ruined but it ends up okay in the end.

However, this special does add something that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen in any other Thanksgiving special – how kids with divorced parents deal with Thanksgiving.

Pepper Ann’s parents broke up some time before the series began, and their divorce is shown to impact several aspects of her life in the show. Thanksgiving is one of the key moments where family is supposed to be all together. However, that just doesn’t happen in many households with divorced parents. Either they have two Thanksgivings at separate times at both houses or they just stick with one and maybe get a visit or a call or something. I can’t speak from experience because I didn’t grow up with divorced parents, but that’s what I’ve gleamed from others.

It’s pretty cool to see a cartoon address this with not just one but two characters. You might remember that Pepper Ann’s best friend, Milo, also has divorced parents, but his parents divorced quite a while before Pepper Ann’s did so he has more experience in that area. Milo bounces from house to house on Thanksgiving – and he doesn’t spend any of it with his parents. He just wanders between his friends’ houses.

Milo is a bit jaded when it comes to family and Thanksgiving. He tries to keep Pepper Ann level-headed when it comes to her belief that her dad will visit for Thanksgiving. He doesn’t know that he won’t, nor does Pepper Ann know that he will, all he said was he had a surprise for Thanksgiving. Milo just knows from his own experiences that the parent who doesn’t get custody tends to drift away and holidays like Thanksgiving end up getting lost more and more in the jumble as they build up a new life after the divorce. They just tend to forget and wind up sending money or gifts sometimes to make up for it.

Milo’s experiences are very sad, and I kinda wish that we had put a little more focus on his holiday bouncing around houses and not actually spending any time at home than we did with Pepper Ann. Both of their experiences are valid, of course, but, also of course, she ends up with a happy ending, for the most part, while Milo’s life with his broken up parents is still fairly sad. Like, does his mother and step-dad not care where he is right now? Does he not do anything for Thanksgiving with his family?

Pepper Ann was, sadly, mistaken. Her dad never did intend on visiting for Thanksgiving. His surprise was that he was piloting a blimp for a big Macy’s-style Thanksgiving day parade and got to wish her and Moose a happy Thanksgiving and give them a heartfelt message on TV. He also said he’d see them next week for visitation, which just begs the question….when is his visitation? Surely he had at least one visitation during the month between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Pepper Ann acts like she rarely ever sees her dad anymore. How infrequent are these visits?

This special was pretty entertaining for what it was worth. It never really got that deep into drama, not like As Told by Ginger or Hey Arnold would do, but they hit enough notes for a show like Pepper Ann. Also, there were numerous jokes that were pretty funny, and I was also fairly amused by Pepper Ann’s constant fantasies of her father trying desperately to get to the dinner.

Thanksgiving Dad is good, but not great. I don’t think it’s on anyone’s must-watch lists for the holiday, I barely even remember watching it when I was a kid, but it has some unique and grounded aspects that are worth exploring, and it has good humor and heart. Check it out while you’re waiting for the turkey to cook. Or while you’re recovering from Thanksgiving dinner. Or, if you’re not in the US…..just….watch it whenever ya want. I’m not your mom.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Digimon Adventure 01 Episode 13: Angemon Awakens! | Sub/Dub Comparison

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Plot: The battle with Devimon is reaching its boiling point, and it seems like the Chosen Children are in over their heads. With the power they have, there’s no way they can take down Devimon once and for all. Everything appears to be hopeless, but just when the devil has the team in his grips, an angel appears to save them.

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Title Card: DA01SDCEP13SCREEN1

Title Change: Angemon Awakens! is changed to The Legend of the Digidestined.

Takeru originally asks the baby Digimon if they need to poop. In the dub, he says “Okay, so you don’t want to play a game!”

Wow, Yamato/Matt came in from REALLY far away. How did he know Takeru/TK was in danger from that distance?

They remove Ogremon hitting Greymon in the head…..Really, Saban? That little bonk? When Greymon has a skull helmet, even? Use the stupid impact stars if you want, but that didn’t warrant a removal.

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They remove Ogremon hitting Greymon with his Pummel Whack too? That’s a regular attack. Since when are those cut?

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So…..more Black Gears = More evil, bigger and more powerful?….Then why doesn’t Devimon use a bunch of them by default? I’m getting Rita Repulsa flashbacks…

They remove Garurumon smashing into the cliffside.

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But wait, they can show Greymon getting hit and being thrown into the wall? What is even going on right now?

Leomon keeps repeating that he has to kill the Chosen Children. Likewise, when Leomon hears Devimon talking to him in his mind, he reminds him that he was ordered to kill the Chosen Children. In the dub, they change this to ‘Take’ and implications of kidnapping instead.

Originally, they imply that Patamon is either dying or passing out, complete with Takeru yelling at him to hang in there. In the dub, TK reassures Patamon that he did a good job protecting him and Patamon just kinda….sleeps?

This goes without saying, but originally Taichi didn’t call Leomon….Booger Breath…Really, guys? Booger Breath? That’s what you put on the final draft? That gets recorded? That gets seen by dozens of individuals and no one bats an eye? Okay.

I love how they have problems with showing these Digimon taking hits that don’t even leave wounds, but they’ll leave in the rather gross shots of the Black Gears slowly leaving Leomon’s body. You can hear the flesh squishing and everything…

Tai: *after the Black Gears are destroyed* “That’s bad!”….You mean….that’s good?….Or is this another misuse of outdated slang?

Izzy: “It worked! We destroyed the Black Gear!” That should be “They destroyed the Black Gears!”

Originally, Ogremon flees because there are too many Digimon to handle by himself now. In the dub, he goes on about how the kids don’t know who they’re dealing with but they will soon enough.

Leomon: “…That would change good Digimons into bad ones.” Digimon plural is just Digimon. No need for the s.

Taichi originally says that it now makes sense that Leomon keeps calling them ‘The Chosen Children’ once he’s heard the legend of a group of children being chosen to save the Digital World. In the dub, since they change this name to Digi-Destined, they have Tai exclaim how awesome the legend is, but he wonders if that’s even true.

The other kids and Digimon don’t have a moment of doubt where Tai needs to coerce them like the dub does. I guess them slightly nodding their heads for three frames lead Saban to thinking they were doing that.

Koushiro doesn’t mention it being ‘impossible’ to lose with the Digivices like Izzy does. You’re a stats man, Izzy. You should know better.

Mimi originally says that she’ll try her best even though she’s scared because she wants to go home. In the dub she says she’ll do some killer shopping when she goes home. Priorities, Dub!Mimi.

Palmon originally supports Mimi and says they’ll help her. In the dub, Palmon says they need to send her back before she can shop.

The music in the original is really strange. I don’t really expect western-esque trumpet music right now, especially in an anime.

Tai: “Far out!” Oh come on, now you guys aren’t even trying to stay in the right decade.

I just realized that they seem to give zero shits where Sora and Joe are. Leomon said they need all of the Chosen Children to beat the evil, but they’re heading right into Devimon’s clutches without even mentioning Sora or Joe. This is a criticism of both versions, by the way. Either they’re being ridiculously reckless, they feel like it’s gonna be so easy that they don’t need them to help, or they don’t care….or all of the above.

It’s just weird. You’d think they’d be extra cautious considering this is the literal source of all evil in the Digital World (at the moment anyway) but nah, they can handle it with 5/7 members – one of which can’t even get his Digimon to Adult level.

Devimon…maybe foreshadowed Angemon’s appearance by saying he wanted to destroy the Chosen Children before he appeared. And considering he really wanted Takeru gone first, I’d imagine he did know about Patamon’s evolution…..so….either Devimon wasn’t the evil in the prophecy or they didn’t need any other Chosen Child besides Takeru for this battle (which, as we’ll see, is more or less true.)

They remove a shot where Devimon is kinda strangling Ogremon.

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Koushiro asks if this giant Devimon could be an illusion, and Leomon responds by saying no. In the dub, Izzy says “Bad guys always seem to think bigger is better.” and Leomon says “’fraid not!”……..What?

Izzy: “My biology teacher would love this!”…Uhm…Okay I get what he’s talking about, but why did it take so long for Izzy to say that when he’s seen so many Digivolutions already? Especially when he’s talking about Kabuterimon? Also, why are you guys making stupid jokes when you’re literally fighting the source of all evil?

Mimi: “I do like the way our colors match.” Ahh….Mimi….Please.

They remove Leomon getting hit by Ogremon’s club and Ogremon taunting him for believing Devimon would leave his back exposed as well as the further shot of Leomon on the ground.

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Hahaha! I love how Ogremon shot Leomon into a treeline, but it left a hole like he was thrust into a rockface.

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So…yeah, Angemon is the antithesis to Devimon so, even though Devimon’s so powerful that all of the other Adult level Digimon can’t even touch him, Angemon is a threat to him. As cool as I always thought Angemon’s debut was and as tragic as his ‘death’ was, in hindsight, that really is kinda bullshit. I mean, at least this is a reprieve from the typical ‘leader (and deuteragonist) get the best stuff’ trope that this series will definitely embrace as time goes on, but it was literally that they only needed to guard Takeru and ensure Patamon could evolve instead of it being a full team effort to take down Devimon.

Dub!Devimon: “They say the smallest will destroy me.” Oh thanks, Saban. For a second I thought you were going to omit all the foreshadowing and try to be subtle, but specifically adding in a line where he basically admits TK and Patamon are the key to his defeat is totally brilliant and not stupid.

Okay, so you’re telling me you can’t show Greymon, dude with a helmet, getting bonked on the head or Leomon getting bonked on the head….but you can show Greymon, Ikkakumon and Kabuterimon biting the fuck out of Devimon? They really are thinking it’s more okay to show bad guys getting hit than it is to see heroes get hit…..

Originally, Taichi weakly called out to Greymon and Greymon apologized to Taichi. In the dub, Tai says nothing and Greymon comments on how tough Devimon is.

In the original, Togemon says ‘I wanted to send you back to your world, but….’ to Mimi, who if off-screen. In the dub, she says she can’t move and even her needles are numb.

So, in the dub, was TK calling out for Matt while unconscious/passed out?

Ya know, I joked in the last episode comparison about getting out tissues, but I was joking. I didn’t really think I’d start tearing up when the finale started. Angemon hasn’t even come out quite yet and I’m getting choked up. Jeez…

Originally, Mimi says Angemon looks like an angel….Yup…..yup….that’s uh….good observation there, Mimi. Of course, she manages to be even dumber in the dub where she says “Nice hair. Good color.” You know your Digimon is lying on the ground in agony right now?

Takeru only points out that Patamon evolved. In the dub, TK says “I wanna take him home with me!” which is….I was gonna say stupid…which it kinda is, but it’s also just kinda weird. For what reason do you want to take home an eight foot tall angel with a helmet over his face?

Angemon can just summon the powers of all the Digivices and use them to attack Devimon? I’m getting Tokyo Mew Mew flashbacks now. So, really, the way that all of the Chosen Children play into this finale is only through their Digivices, not the kids themselves or their Digimon? Come on.

Devimon originally curses himself because he was so close to killing Takeru and Patamon before Angemon came to be. In the dub, he just acts as if he doesn’t know of Angemon and isn’t a threat to him, which we already know doesn’t make sense given how Saban wrote this.

Devimon tells Angemon that he won’t get off so easily either if he uses that power on him, implying that Angemon will also die along with him. In the dub, Devimon says he can’t take his power so easily and he’ll have to fight him for it….Uh…1) That’s what he’s doing. 2) He’s not trying to take your power, he’s trying to kill you.

Angemon’s responses, implying that he’s ready to die if it will stop him, is kept the same, which is weird because the dub lost the setup to that response.

Oh my god…Saban, why? They added lightsaber sound effects to Angemon’s staff when he was absorbing its power into his fist….why….why?

Angemon says “I’m sorry, Takeru.” In the dub, he says “I’ll get him, relax.” I don’t much care for that line change because it goes from a somber moment to basically Angemon telling Takeru to chill out just because he told him to be careful.

Attack Name Change: Heaven’s Knuckle is…well, it’s going to be changed to Hand of Fate, but as of this episode, he only says “I’ll stop you! AYYYEEEEEH!”

Oh yeah, and they’ll also show Devimon getting impaled by Angemon’s attack, but Greymon can’t be shown taking an energy attack to the chin.

Ugh…I know Saban redoes lines when there’s a commercial break, like 4Kids does, even if it’s a very confusing and stupid practice. Here, they’re using the same dialogue, but after the commercial break it’s like they went for a worse take on how the VA was saying it. Before the commercial, he had some decent emotion in the lines. Afterwards, it’s like he was just reading them off the script for rehearsal.

I really don’t like the way TK pronounces “Angemon” because it kinda sounds like he’s saying “Angiemon” which I think I’ve talked about before in the Adventure 02 SDC, but I feel like I should backpedal because even though that’s not the way it’s pronounced….it does make sense. When you say “Angel” you say it like “Eyn-jel” But when you say the “Ange” part in Angemon you say “Ann-jah” like in Angela, or you say ‘ahn-jah’. Still bothers me a tiny bit, but I won’t harp on it if it makes sense.

Ogremon originally wonders if the kids defeated Devimon. In the dub, he says that, with Devimon gone, he can take over now, which is obviously BS that Leomon stamps out before he even takes a step.

While both versions of Mimi say they don’t want to fight anymore, Dub!Mimi adds “Oh, I think I broke a nail.” Seriously, guys? You’re going with the ridiculously overdone “I broke a nail” girl trope?

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Overall, I’ve always really loved this episode, and I still do. I was being serious when I said I was tearing up at the finale. I didn’t expect to, but it managed to get me again.

I still do believe it was a teeny tiny bit bunk that Angemon was able to defeat Devimon while absolutely none of the other Adult level Digimon could even scratch him. I get the parallels – angel vs. devil – I get that he had to use the power of the Digivices, and I get that he sacrificed his life for it, but it’s still the slightest bit bogus.

And, believe it or not, this situation is basically going to be mirrored near the end of the series, except Angemon doesn’t die there and it’s a bit more of a team effort.

As confusing as Patamon’s evolution line is, I adore it all. I own nearly all of his forms as toys. He’s always been one of my favorite Digimon ever.

His evolution scene was epic and heartbreaking at the same time. Like everyone else, he did evolve to protect his partner, but the buildup to it was quite sad because Patamon wanted to evolve so badly so he could protect Takeru. He had no chance in his Child form. Oddly, Patamon actually seems like the weakest Child level Digimon but the most powerful Adult level.

Compare that to the plotline in Adventure 02 where V-mon wanted to evolve to Adult, even though Armor evolving was seen as kinda better, all because he and Davis were jealous of Takeru and Angemon and their symmetry with Hikari and Angewomon.

Well, you can put away your hankies for now, Angemon/Patamon will return in due time. It will take quite a while, but he’ll be back. Until then, it’s off to even bigger threats.

Next time, the kids meet Gennai and learn what they must do to combat the next evil threat that is looming over the Digital World.


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Animating Halloween: Noctober/Episode One-Derland | Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun

Plot: Nene longingly yearns for love. She’s so desperate to tell the boy she likes about her feelings that she seeks out a wish-granting ghost in the girl’s bathroom. The ritual summon him – yes, him – works! But Nene has to face the reality that sometimes what you wish for most isn’t what you truly want.

Breakdown: While I had flitted around checking this series out for a while, it wasn’t until GlitterInformer suggested I check it out for Animating Halloween that I finally decided to sit down and watch it, and I’m glad I did.

Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun isn’t technically a horror show, but it is supernatural, is a ghost story and has some really interesting visuals that come off as horror-esque.

Overall, however, it’s a comedy show, and pretty funny one at that. Hanako is funny and sweet, and Nene was…..tolerable. She had some funny moments, but she was pretty annoying a good chunk of the time.

The setup was kinda cliché, but I like how Hanako was more about helping her confront her problem than it was just granting her wish. I also thought it was interesting for Nene to realize that she was more concerned about getting a cute boy to like her than it was that she was in love with that specific boy.

We do get a kinda scary interaction with a ‘mermaid’ who is summoned because of Nene’s mistake and insistence on getting her crush to like her, plus we get a glimpse of a slightly creepier Hanako and a fight between the two.

I really love the art for this show. It’s very sharp and stylistic with some amazing shots. I adore the gorgeous colors. It has a very manga-esque style to its animation, if that makes any sense. Lots of panels appearing on screen and intersections.

The music was alright, but nothing really stuck with me so far. The OP was the best of it all.

Verdict:

Continue Yes

Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun is definitely a lot better than its crappy (pun intended) name would suggest. I had a lot of fun with it, and I look forward to watching more.


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Cyborg 009 Full Review Project: Manga (1964) Volume 4

Volume four starts with chapter fifteen – Empty War. Or as it’s known originally, Vacuum War – a change I’m perfectly okay with. I know the original title was meant to indicate the vacuum of space, but all I see when I hear that title is a bunch of Kirbys, Hoovers and Dirt Devils shooting each other on a bloodied battlefield. Plus, Empty War kinda sounds poetic.

This story is another one of the side stories from Separate Shonen King that ran while Cyborg 009 was being canceled from Weekly Shonen King.

We start with a plane being shot down by Black Ghost. In the debris, a robot is carrying an old man through the air, dodging the fire from the fighter planes and trying to keep him safe. He bumps into the submarine of the 00 Cyborgs, who offer him refuge from the Black Ghost planes. The robot’s name is JQ and he was designed by Dr. Yamazaki, the old man being rescued from the plane.

Yamazaki was originally an engineer at Black Ghost, but when he realized the evils they were doing he wanted no part in it any longer. He remembered how Gilmore and the escaped cyborgs were fighting to take Black Ghost down, so he also decided to leave with JQ and fight for justice. However, Black Ghost quickly found him out and attacked his plane as he was leaving.

Yamazaki reveals the terrifying news that Black Ghost is setting to launch an armed satellite that will be utilized by the countries of the world to shoot missiles at any corner of the globe. It’s being completed today, and he needs their help to stop them.

JQ, 009, 004, 006, 008 and 003 head out to stop the last two rockets heading to the base. While they’re unable to stop one rocket, they do manage to board the second, but they’re forced to leave 004 and 008 behind.

Having hijacked the rocket, rather easily, actually, they get as much important information out of the pilots as possible. Their rocket is merely for transport and isn’t armed, meaning they can’t use it to attack the base. That’s not the worst part, though – apparently the satellite base is only one of two weapons bases Black Ghost has set up in space. Another has been built on the moon.

They plan to destroy the satellite base by setting their rocket to self-destruct at the exact moment it hits the atomic core of the base, which will cause a chain reaction and destroy everything. They’re able to pull this off, but the moon base is another issue. Black Ghost will be on full alert after the satellite explosion, and they don’t have much of a plan to destroy the base in the first place.

JQ heads off on his own to attack the missiles right next to the control dome while 009 takes care of the cyborgs and robots being sent to their location. After the battle, 009, 3 and 6 go to the base to see what happened with JQ and they find the place in ruins. While there are still some rockets and missiles left standing, the place is completely empty and the control dome has been destroyed. JQ blew up four of the missiles simultaneously with his arms and legs, which destroyed the area, but JQ did not survive the blast.

And uh….it’s actually really abrupt. 003 is like “He’s gone. I see pieces of him everywhere.” 006 says “Poor JQ!” 009 says “He will be missed.” then we get one more shot of the rockets and the chapter’s over. That’s pretty disrespectful of JQ. The dude died trying to save the world and then it’s like ‘Press F to pay respects.’ and we just move on.

Overall, though, I wish the ending was a bit cleaner, but I did enjoy this chapter. I liked JQ and Dr. Yamazaki. I actually felt really bad when JQ was killed. He was a very noble and loyal robot, and I kinda liked his dynamic with Yamazaki, but alas, being a side story character, he was destined to die.

Oh except when he came back as a completely new character in the next chapter – A New Type of Bomb (Thunder and Lightning) or The Bomb Model “Raiden”

This story is a Frankenstein’d from Vacuum War and The Man in the High Castle. Almost all of the artwork is just lifted from those chapters with new writing being put in place to make a new story. I can’t find a solid reason as to why this story is the way it is. The best I’ve gathered is that Ishinomori was unhappy with how these stories initially went, or at least he was unhappy with how Vacuum War ended, so he made this story out of recycled panels and dialogue, but it only came out a few months after Vacuum War and The Man in the High Castle, and those stories are perfectly fine, in my opinion anyway. What went so wrong that he felt compelled to go back and ‘fix’ them, but not even really fix them because he didn’t remake either story he just stitched the two together? Also, if speculation is correct, he never considered this to be canon either, so why bother?

To make matters worse, this story’s existence and placement in the magazine and subsequent collections, like the one I’m reading right now, make everything extremely confusing as to the timeline, the canonicity of the stories, even in their own little side-collection of stories, and the status of 007.

This story starts off with a plane being shot down by Black Ghost fighter planes. We see a robot in disguise, C-11, who is totally not JQ with a darker head, introduce himself to Dr. Yamaz—Kaminari. C-11 was originally sent there to kill Kaminari, but he has defected from Black Ghost and plans to save him instead – and save him he does.

Meanwhile, on the Cyborgs’ submarine, they catch wind of the news of the attack while simultaneously getting the news that his granddaughter, the Prime Minister’s daughter from chapter fourtee—I mean not her – was kidnapped. He was working on a weapon called Thunder and Lightning which would send snowflake shaped nanomachines into the sky and explode. He didn’t work for Black Ghost, but they wanted his weapon, which he wouldn’t hand over. So, of course, they sent a killer robot to kill him in his plane while also planning on shooting down his plane, almost certainly killing him….WHILE kidnapping his granddaughter? Well, that’s doesn’t make any sense.

They do get information on the location of Black Ghost’s base from the recon dolphins they spot outside, but they don’t reuse the dolphin ‘torture’ scene from chapter fifteen.

The base infiltration scene is lifted entirely from Vacuum War, barring some new shots of 007 and 5. Then when we get outside, it’s back to chapter fourteen and now, despite being shown as an adult about a page prior, 007 is a child again because he was a child in chapter fourteen. Also, despite the fact that we were near Japan all of a page ago, we’re suddenly in some snowy tundra because that’s where we were in chapter fourteen. They explain away the snow by reminding us that the weapon he created uses nanomachines that, for some reason, look like snowflakes.

Also, somehow, despite escaping the planes and Black Ghost with C-11, Kaminari was captured off-screen, I guess?

We get a repeat of Lil’ 007 knocking some guy out as a snowman, and this entire fight scene was ripped from chapter fourteen. Because they’re recovering Kaminari here, they redraw the shot that was originally 002 giving 007 and 009 a lift over the electric barrier to showing 002 grabbing Kaminari and lifting him up.

One of the kidnappers activates the weapon, which causes the snow to explode….but I’m 99% certain it’s just repeat shots of the electric barrier from chapter fourteen.

Anyway, 007 had a growth spurt due to the weapon because he’s now back to being an adult again. Back on the sub – by the way, the other cyborgs saved his granddaughter off-panel – Kaminari explains that his prototype for the weapon wasn’t ready, but he knew he needed to deliver something to them or else they’d kill his granddaughter, so he loaded up the place with gunpowder and, when the snow exploded, so did the base.

009 tells him to use his brilliant intellect for good now, and the story ends.

….So…I had to go back and see what happened because the introduction scene is really confusing. I guess C-11 died in a missile explosion while trying to cause a distraction? They don’t really make it clear. There’s a final panel before we cut to the cyborgs where there’s a black blotch on the ocean floor and I honestly couldn’t tell if that was meant to be C-11’s body or part of it. Also, despite the pilot of one of the Black Ghost planes saying “He’s gone.” I guess that was when Kaminari was spotted by the Black Ghost planes, somehow, and taken away. How did they see him in that barrel? They couldn’t last time.

I don’t really get why Ishinomori made this story. If you ask me, it’s just a very sloppy retelling/chimera of two solid standalone stories. If Ishinomori really was unhappy about how Vacuum War ended, he should have just redone the story from scratch instead of making this because it almost feels like he missed a deadline and just threw this together. It’s not terrible, but I’d much rather take the other two stories on their own.

The next chapter, the 00 Cyborgs are attacked in their sub while Black Ghost utilizes all of their undersea friends – I mean fearsome creatures to attack them including their signature recon dolphins, swarms of regular fish, a manta ray with cameras for eyes, attack sharks, TIGER SHARK MISSILES which are exactly what you think they are, and a giant octopus which tries to crush their sub. I love this series with all my heart.

After 009, 008 and 005 take down the pursuing Black Ghost sub, with 009 hitching a ride on a sea turtle (How can you not love that imagery?) they chart a course for the Indo-China Peninsula because Gilmore had heard rumors that Black Ghost is funding a superhuman guerrilla unit for the Viet Cong in the civil war with Laos. They must head there, investigate and take down Black Ghost if they’re involved.

003 suddenly bursts out that she doesn’t want to go. She’s seen enough killing and destruction, and she wants it to end. Gilmore reminds her of the grim truth, however. They have to stop Black Ghost at all costs or else they’ll perpetuate war and bring about the destruction of the world. They’re the only ones who have a chance at taking them down.

But enough of that, it’s time to be attacked by an army of jellyfish and a plesiosaur! This crazy train ain’t stoppin’. The jellyfish are, somehow, draining all of the power from the sub. When 008 and 9 investigate, they spot a frickin’ plesiosaur who wants to destroy the sub among the mass of jellyfish.

009 gets attacked by the jellyfish, and all of his energy gets drained by them, but 008 saves him and returns him to the sub. 009 is okay, but they have to figure out how to get out of this jam……or jelly….fish. 😀

They decide to forcibly wake 001 up from his deep slumber, and he uses his psychic powers to power the sub manually and move the sub away from the jellyfish. However, the plesiosaur continues to pursue them. 005 decides to fight it, and he RIPS THE THING APART WITH HIS BARE HANDS. 005 needs more spotlight pronto.

They manage to get a sample from the plesiosaur and two of the jellyfish. After analyzing the jellyfish, Gilmore realizes that they weren’t modified by Black Ghost. Their insane power-draining abilities are a result of nuclear bomb tests performed underwater during the war. Realizing that war creates just as much suffering in the environment as it does in the lives of everyday people, the 00 Cyborgs reaffirm their resolve to stop Black Ghost and end war.

We then get a prologue that leads us into chapter eighteen. It philosophizes on the nature of man, violence and war while showing a depiction of war throughout history from the times of cavemen to the 20th century. It’s quite troubling, especially when Ishinomori starts showing images such as tanks driving right next to a dead body, someone running up to hug the body in despair and someone getting executed via firing squad. I was going to take a potshot at 003 for suddenly bursting out like that because I felt like it was another instance where she was just being ‘the girl’ of the group and getting overly emotional, wanting to quit, but after reading this section, I don’t think such a thing is warranted.

It is a little irritating that 003 was singled out for that scene, but I can completely understand why any of them would want to quit after everything they’ve seen, especially if no end seems to be in sight for them. And 003 does have to see and hear the horrible details of everything they go through. Many times, she has to sense things that the others can’t see or hear. In that regard, I feel pretty bad for her.

The prologue ends with us arriving in Vietnam – the US forces rolling up and destroying a bunch of stuff before one of the tanks gets destroyed by a strange man in a full-body black suit driving a weird black domed tank.

Chapter eighteen starts and we get more backstory on the situation, questioning why the American troops were having such difficulty taking on the Viet Cong. It’s chalked up to either the Viet Cong using the confusing terrain to their advantage since American troops aren’t used to fighting in these dense jungles, the American troops being unable to discern between North and South Vietnamese people, which allowed the north to deceive them OR….Cyborgs, robots and super tanks that turn into robot spiders.

See what happens when you fall asleep in history class, kids? You miss all the cool robot spiders.

Anyway, it uses its buzzsaw arms, because, yes, it has those too, to cut a pathway through the jungle. And then it uses its suction cup feet to climb up a rockface.

This thing is really sick. Just look at the blueprints.

It’s awesome.

The man in black gives the tank to the leader of the Viet Cong unit without any compensation and leaves. Joe, GB and Albert are watching all of this from the shadows, but they suddenly trip a booby trap and that’s where volume four ends.

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All in all….this volume was…okay. Forgive my lack of enthusiasm, but this volume just didn’t have a lot going for it. Most of it was filler a la forcibly included side stories. This doesn’t mean the stories were inherently bad just because they were filler – I quite enjoyed the story with JQ – but the second story was just a recycled confusing okay story at best.

The only true saving grace of this volume was the storyline with all of the awesome undersea creatures Black Ghost was utilizing – plus the super mutated jellyfish and the PLESIOSAUR, that weren’t even created by Black Ghost. That chapter was just buckets of fun, even if it ended on a downer note.

Right when we get back into the thick of things, the volume ends.

The volume wasn’t bad by any stretch, but it wasn’t quite as the same level as some of the previous volumes.

Fear not, though, next time, in volume five, we’re really heating things up as we delve deep into the Vietnam arc.


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Animating Halloween: Noctober | The Scooby-Doo Show: The Headless Horseman of Halloween Review

Plot: On the night of Halloween, Shaggy, Scooby-Doo, Velma, Fred, Daphne and Scooby’s cousin, Scooby-Dum, attend a costume party at the mansion of the descendant of Icabod Crane. In this universe, Icabod Crane was indeed real, and he supposedly was killed after a run-in with the legendary Headless Horseman. It’s nothing but a story, but the Headless Horseman makes an appearance at the party looking for a replacement head.

Breakdown: Well, it just wouldn’t be Halloween without some Scooby-Doon, would it? Plus, a send-up to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow? Count me in!

While this episode/special is enjoyable enough, made me smile several times, there’s not a whole lot to separate it from your typical Scooby-Doo episode outside of one element – Scooby-Dum.

So, uh…where did this character come from and why does he exist? He’s literally just Scooby-Doo if he were a lot, well, dumber, and if he was a bit of a hick. That’s it. I mean, he’s likable and endearing, but his shtick is constantly just ‘he’s super dumb’ and also ‘haha, he’s named Scooby-Dum BECAUSE HE’S DUMB!’

The mystery was also kinda weak if you ask me. I mean, it’s almost never actually a supernatural being in Scooby-Doo, and if you go into this knowing that fact then the actual culprit will be very obvious about halfway into the episode.

…Although, I do wonder, if Icabod Crane was real in this universe and he was supposedly killed by the Headless Horseman, but this one was fake…..does that mean…..Hmmmm.

The Headless Horseman of Halloween is a pretty decent Scooby-Doo Halloween special, so if you have the means and you love yourself some Scooby goodness check it out.


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Cardcaptor Sakura/Cardcaptors (Nelvana) Episode 13: Sakura and the Elephant’s Test of Strength | Sub/Dub Comparison

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Card(s) of the Day: Power: Power is a card that makes the user more, well, powerful. Usually in terms of physical strength. Kero stated that Windy might be the counter to it, but that might just be from what she has.

Plot: Sakura’s class is going to the zoo, but a strange seemingly invisible Clow card is causing havoc all over the place. It’s the Power card, and Sakura must challenge its pride in order to capture it. Can she overpower Power?

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In the original, Toya mocks Sakura a tad by saying since she got up on her own for a change that it will probably rain today, but Sakura argues by saying the weather person claimed it’d be sunny. In the dub, he says he heard Sakura’s going to the zoo today and mocks her by asking if they’re going to put her in a cage. Sakura responds by saying his brain’s turned to mush.

Sakura’s dad doesn’t say what’s in the lunch box, he just says it’s full of her favorites. In the dub he says it’s a meatloaf sandwich with chocolate chip cookies.

Sakura explains that she’s going to meet her class and then they’re going to take the bus to the zoo. Toya says to be careful if she goes to the park, then he points to the TV to show that the giant penguin slide at the park was completely flipped upside down. In the dub, Toya mocks her some more by asking if she’s planning to be a weightlifter with the lunch she has. Sakura mock laughs before Tori suggests she might be the King Kong of Penguin Park. He then points to the TV.

Yukito shows up as Sakura’s rollerblading. She asks why he’s not with her brother, and he responds that he has to go in early to do chores at school. Sakura, lucky that her brother’s not there to mess with her age-gap-ish game, gets goo-goo eyes and celebrates internally. Yukito asks what’s wrong, and Sakura shakes off her embarrassment. All of this, barring Yukito showing up, is removed. We cut straight from him meeting with Sakura to the shot of the park that comes after.

The reporter, who is oddly still talking about this on live TV even when it’s just a penguin slide, is just talking about how weird it is that this happened in the original. In the dub, it’s almost the same, but she makes this statement; “Some suspect the radical group the “Pals of Penguins” organization is behind this…” Pbbbttt…Nelvana, stop being silly.

They edit out a short scene of a conversation of Yukito and Sakura as they’re going to school. I guess this is to make the Yukito time even shorter. Also, Sakura blushes once while talking with him even though he’s just inquiring about her backpack.

Because that conversation was edited out, the final line that they actually kept the visuals for is changed. Yukito mentions that her dad’s a great cook since she mentioned the lunch he made for her and she agrees. In the dub, he tells her to have fun on her field trip and ‘beware the penguin tippers.’

More Yukito cuts: Like he’s done several other times, Yukito throws a small candy to Sakura before he leaves. Sakura gets all gushy again and goes on about how great her day has been and is going to be. She spins around in front of the school when she hears a noise. She tries to listen for it again, but shrugs it off before we cut to the zoo. All of this is removed.

I try not to nitpick TOO much with the dialogue because I’d be here all day, but when the teacher is explaining to the groups about their report, he says their reports are due on Monday and they have to meet back at that same location at two o’clock, which is why the teacher holds up two fingers. In the dub, he makes no mention of the deadline and when he raises two fingers he says the report is about two things, teamwork and observation. Also, the original mentions nothing of the penguin incident.

They edit out Sakura slightly freaking out in fear when one of her friends mentions that whatever flipped over king penguin was a ghost.

Tomoyo says the ghost is so strong it must be the ghost of a sumo wrestler. Madison says she’d probably win a Pulitzer if she took a picture of the ghost.

Minor nitpick – the classes are assigned specific animals for their report, they don’t get to choose like in the dub.

Bunch of shots removed – shots of the boys looking at the sloths, one of the boys talking about them, Syaoran inquiring more about them, a shot of their backpacks, the boys picking up their notebooks, the boys taking notes, and Syaoran snapping one pic are all removed.

The parts of the scene that they do keep are changed. Syaoran’s amazed by the sloth whereas Lee’s bored/frustrated by it. Zachary also talks about how intelligent it is when originally he was talking about how fast it can run.

Another short scene is cut of the other boys talking about how Yamazaki always lies and it’s nice to see someone gullible enough to believe his lies.

Originally the girls were talking about the neat tricks that elephants can be taught to do. In the dub, they’re talking about how much an elephant can pick up and talking about how they should observe the elephant’s natural strengths in their unnatural environment. While I don’t like changes, at least this one is educational. Plus, it leads me to believe someone at Nelvana is a big elephant fan.

Well, here’s something new. Syaoran’s on the eyecatch this episode.

Sakura’s friend ask if she finished her report. She says she has a little more to do, and her friend wishes her good luck before watching the elephants some more. In the dub, Sakura’s friend asks if it’s lunchtime yet. Sakura says yes, and her friend says she and the other girl will meet them later before she returns to watching the elephants.

Sakura doesn’t bring up the suspected Clow card in the original. She just keeps going on about how she’s surprised that Kero’s there.

Rika follows her teacher and gives him a bento box that she made for him. He accepts it, thanks her and she smiles. All of this was removed.

Another scene removed. Syaoran takes a picture of the sloth and they mark down that it moved, but the other boys are complaining that they’ve been watching it for an hour and they’ve only seen it move three times. Despite this, Syaoran’s still excited as ever. I really like Syaoran when he’s happy and excited about learning. Even if he does get deceived by Yamazaki, he’s a lot more likable this way. They only keep the very end of the scene when Syaoran tries to take another shot.

Syaoran, Sakura and Kero all sense the Clow card in the original, but in the dub Syaoran seems to be the only one who senses something while both Sakura and, surprisingly, Kero don’t sense anything. Kero asks why he thinks this huge booming noise is a Clow card.

Kero says it’s one thing if the penguins escape, but quite another if the larger animals get out. In the dub, he says penguins don’t just escape on their own and that the only logical conclusion is a Clow card. Right, no animals ever got loose at a zoo without a Clow card breaking them out.

Kero says Sakura has to tell Power exactly what the test of strength shall be. The dub just has him tell her to run. Surprisingly, though, they leave in her funny faces during this entire scene, but it was likely unavoidable.

A shot of Sakura from the back with a sweat drop is removed.

Also, Power is indeed really adorable.

Not as cute as Rain, but still.

In the original, it’s a bit unclear as to why Syaoran decided to help Sakura secretly instead of trying to capture Power on his own after she lost. In the dub, Lee says there’s no chance she’ll win at the tug of war and decides to basically cheat for her just to get the card caught….even though she technically was cheating anyway with the elephant helping her.

Also, why the hell is Power hers anyway? Syaoran’s technically the one who stopped Power with Time. If he hadn’t interfered, it’s fairly likely she would’ve lost. Under the rules of the cards, Power should be Syaoran’s.

They keep bringing up that Sakura’s magic has gotten more powerful, but there’s nothing in this episode that really indicates that, in the dub anyway. She’s actually getting slightly better at sensing cards in the original, but this was removed in the dub.

Also, Syaoran originally wonders if the sloth has decided to do anything before running off. In the dub, he says Sakura’s going to need to get a lot more powerful if she’s going to be a Cardcaptor.

Sakura asks Kero what Power’s effect is on her when she uses it. Kero says that it makes you more powerful, of course, and Sakura derp-faces. Surprisingly they left the derp-face in but Sakura says they have unfinished business and Kero responds by saying they do – lunch.

I have no clue why, but they remove the shot of Sakura standing in front of the now right-side up king penguin slide.

They also shorten the scene with Yukito a bit here and there. Not really that noticeable.

A shot of Sakura getting nervous that Yukito will find out about her powers is removed.

Leave it to Kero-Chan!/Kero’s Corner: The dub’s logo ends up staying over Kero’s face as he appears on screen during Kero’s Corner for a couple of seconds, just like last episode….

While both segments are showing off Sakura’s uniform, the dub fails to mention that the reason they’re showcasing this uniform when they’ve already done a segment on it is that this is the summer version. The colors are inverted, black on white instead of white on black, and the school insignia is on the back instead of the arm.

Next time, Mist’s debut! Sakura is invited to Yukito’s school fair. Will there be age-inappropriate romance or heartache?


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Animating Halloween: Noctober | The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone (1979) Review

Plot: The Flintstones and the Rubbles win a trip to Count Rockula’s castle for a romantic weekend away and a great costume party. Things take a spooky turn when they discover that the real Rockula, and his cohort, Frankenstone, are living in the castle, and they’re none to happy to find their home filled with people.

Breakdown: This is about as close to a Halloween special as The Flintstones ever got, and as a Halloween special, I think it works pretty well. There are plenty of really funny moments and even some tense moments when the group is being chased by Rockula and Frankenstone.

I will say that, for what is seemingly a Halloween special, it is very weird that Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm never show up. For a while, I wondered if either of them even existed, but Wilma very briefly mentions Pebbles near the end of the movie, so I guess at least she does. What was she doing while they were gone that whole time?

Anyway, while I can’t say I’ll be rushing out to revisit this special every Halloween season, it was an enjoyable special that got me laughing and smiling numerous times. If you’re a fan of The Flintstones or even just Hanna-Barbera, you’d get a kick out of it.


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Cartoons Step-by-Step | Xiaolin Showdown Episode 5: Shen Yi Bu Review

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Plot: The dragon warriors detect the presence of a new Shen Gong Wu – The Sword of the Storm, which allows the user to control powerful storms and become intangible. But when Omi, self-proclaimed expert on the sword, tries to explain the technical aspects of the weapon, Raymundo daydreams and ignores most of what he says.

His lack of caring on the subject causes him to lose the sword to Tubbimura – Jack Spicer’s newest crony. While losing a Shen Gong Wu is embarrassing enough, it’s stings even worse for Raymundo since the sword is a wind-based Shen Gong Wu and he’s the dragon of wind.

Realizing that his lack of focus and seriousness in his studies caused him to fail, Raymundo cracks down on studying.

Later, a new Shen Gong Wu is detected – the Shroud of Shadows, which allows the user to become invisible when cloaked. They track it down only to be met with Tubbimura again. Raymundo and Tubbimura start a Xiaolin Showdown over the Shroud, but Raymundo calls for a Shen Yi Bu dare, which doubles the stakes – in addition to the Shroud and their initial Shen Gong Wu item, they’ll also wager a second Shen Gong Wu. Winner goes home with five Shen Gong Wu. Tubbimura puts forth the Sword of the Storm and the Fist of Tebigong while Raymundo wagers the Two-Ton Tunic and the Eye of Dashi. Before starting, Raymundo calls for a third condition – swapping items at random intervals.

The Showdown starts. It’s a challenge to stay on a rock. First one to knock the other off into the water wins. While Raymundo’s newfound knowledge and determination definitely show in his improved skills in battle, Tubbimura proves to be a formidable opponent. Raymundo barely holds on to the side of the tall rock, using the Fist of Tebigong to maintain his grip. However, the item switch causes him to lose the Fist at the worst moment, but he gains the Sword of the Storm.

He chooses to fall, shocking everyone, but Raymundo once again uses what he learned in his studies to change the tides. He combines the Eye of Dashi with the Sword of the Storm to catch himself in midair and fly over the water. He creates a tornado over Tubbimura, which launches him off the rock and into the water.

Raymundo is declared the winner of the Showdown and goes home with five Shen Gong Wu.

Back at the temple, everyone discusses Raymundo’s progress. No one else on the team or even Jack Spicer knew what a Shen Yi Bu dare was, nor did they realize that they could combine Shen Gong Wu together. Master Fung mentions that no one has attempted a Shen Yi Bu in centuries, and winning one is exceptionally difficult.

Meanwhile, Raymundo continues to work hard on his studies to prepare for future challenges…..but he’s not above taking a secret break or two for video games.

Breakdown: This episode is probably the best of Xiaolin Showdown so far. While it was a pretty typical story as far as this series has been concerned so far (One of the group messes up because of a personal flaw, then they realize their mistake, work through it and win in the end) this is the best version of all of these types of stories.

Raymundo’s not being obnoxious, he just has his head up in the clouds (or in the waves, in his case) because he finds the subject to be boring. He clearly has an ego that allows him to think he can do this and still make off without any problems in his studies or battles, but he’s not really being cocky about it. He’s being a typical teenager. Studies are boring, so let’s just do the thing so I can goof off.

When he fails against Tubbimura because he didn’t listen to Omi explaining the Sword of the Storm, it’s a huge blow to his pride. He decides to buckle down, study more and actually engage with his role as the dragon of the wind.

Because he actually did the work, he manages to come through in spades, blowing everyone away with his newfound knowledge and skills, and not only getting the Sword of the Storm back, but also gaining the Fist of Tebigong and the Shroud of Shadows.

My main problem with this episode is that Raymundo goes a bit too far too fast. He studies for like a day or a few days and all of a sudden he’s such an expert that he even surpasses Omi, who was practically brought up on Shen Gong Wu stuff, and is doing things that haven’t been done or even discussed in centuries? In the end, Omi’s practically begging Raymundo to share his studies with him so he can get on his level.

It kinda comes off like Raymundo is ridiculously OP if he bothers to put in an iota of effort. I get that the message is to take your studies seriously and actually listen when people convey important lessons, but it gave me major ‘sudden shift in power scaling during a shounen fighting anime’ vibes when he started studying.

What’s even more disappointing is they didn’t really show him working for it much. We saw him pull one all-nighter, if it even was an all-nighter, and then boom he’s suddenly finding an invisible Shen Gong Wu in the water with no problem, using the other Shen Gong Wu like he’s an expert in them all, using Xiaolin Showdown battle conditions that no one else has even heard of, adding additional item swapping stipulations as part of his strategy and using Shen Gong Wu combination abilities that haven’t been introduced yet. It’s a bit overboard.

That being said, the Xiaolin Showdown was really cool and well done. I also like Raymundo’s arc in this episode, even if they went a big crazy with his upgrade. Plus, the Sword of the Storm and Shroud of Shadows seem like really cool Shen Gong Wu I hope to see more of in the future.

If I have any more notes, it’s these;

– Haha. The fat ninja’s weight is one of his main abilities and his name is frickin’ TUBBImura. Spelled and pronounced that way. You see it written in the first scene.

– Dojo is allergic to Shen Gong Wu in this episode, and it has no purpose in this story nor do I think it’s ever brought up again. I don’t understand why, even as a joke.


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 9 Episodes 11, 12, 13 (Season Finale) + Special (Episode 0) Review

Episode 11: Dragon Palace

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Plot: An overworked man and his coworker go night fishing to relax. He soon realizes that his friend isn’t exactly fishing for fish….

Breakdown: Unrelated to the episode, but can I just take the time out to say, holy crap, how am I just now noticing that this season has a full zodiac motif and it isn’t just an opening sequence gimmick?

Every episode so far has had a title and theme that involved a zodiac animal. I feel like a fool.

Anyway, this episode is okay. Not the first time I’ve seen a story where someone who is overworked or lonely or something gets dragged away by some mysterious beautiful woman who just wants to suck the life force out of the men, but this version was done well enough. Not sure what any of this has to do with dragons, though. Is the woman meant to be a dragon?

Episode 12: Monkey Prayer

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Plot: The legend of the Monkey Prayer claims it will bring death to anyone of your choosing.

Breakdown: There’s nothing inherently wrong with this episode, but there’s not a lot to sink your teeth into in regards to unique aspects. I’ve never heard of the Monkey Prayer before, but there’s certainly no shortage of legends concerning curses that bring death upon someone. The background of the legend is that monkeys started mimicking humans in prayer during funerals, but they have a special way of praying, with their elbows touching when they put their hands together. It’s not really that unique.

The other aspect of this episode is not judging a book by its cover. There’s a creepy girl in class who first alerts Mei to this legend. At first, it seems like she’d be the one doing the cursing, but it turns out she’s not only innocent, she was also giving Mei information that could save her life. I’ve also seen this before. In fact, I feel like I’ve probably seen it in Yami Shibai several times.

The motive of the actual culprit is very vague. Someone theorized that she was jealous because she had a crush on Mei’s boyfriend, but it’s not really clear.

It’s fine, but it’s kinda sloppy and not enough is done to make it stand out much.

Episode 13: Year of the Cat

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Plot: A designer tells his coworker about the legend of the cat of the zodiac. The story goes that the rat tricked the cat when they were supposed to have a feast with god, causing him to miss the party. While this legend is a relatively well-known folktale, there’s an urban legend tied with the myth. Apparently, after that incident, the cat ate the rat, and god kicked the cat out of the zodiac as punishment. People are still born in the year of the cat to this day, and if god notices them he wipes them from existence.

Breakdown: Fruits Basket reference!

Now that that’s out of the way, this is a pretty clever horror twist on the legend of the cat of the zodiac, and this is a great note to cap off the zodiac motif of this season. I’m not sure it’s all that scary, though. I suppose not many people would know whether or not they were born in the year of the cat, but the main lesson here seems to be to keep your ego in check. If you do that, then you’ll never receive the punishment from god.

I like how the episode mirrors the legend by having Mitsuki deceive the MC about the design contest their boss was holding. However, this time the rat’s the ‘good’ guy instead of being, well, a rat. He wasn’t really justified in what he did, though, so it’s hard to call him a good guy. The MC may have been an asshole, but he didn’t really seem bad enough to do that to him.

SPECIAL (Episode 0): The Old Well

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Plot: A woman is camping with friends when she accidentally falls down a well. Trapped, she has to find a way out on her own. However, she’s not really alone.

Breakdown: I can’t really get a lot of information on this special. From the way it’s formatted, I guess it was a….mobile exclusive episode that was released before season nine’s proper premiere as a way of promotion, but I can’t be sure. It does have an extremely weird vertical format, though.

This is, by far, the scariest episode of season nine, and probably one of the most legitimately scary episodes of Yami Shibai that I’ve ever seen. Granted, it’s not the most creative premise in the world, but it did manage to play on my biggest fear – drowning. And drowning in such a confined space as a well just makes it worse. I’m not claustrophobic, but in a circumstance of drowning, it would make me panic so much more.

The ending is simultaneously depressing and scary, which is kinda good for a horror story since it means I sympathize with the main character. Still, what an awful fate for that poor girl.

And that was all of Yami Shibai 9! I really hope we get season ten next year, but for now we’ll just head on to do the full Yami Shibai 9 review and kinda close out this year’s Animating Halloween!

Like I mentioned in my announcement at the start of the month, I knew I’d be very sparse on Halloween content this year due to personal matters, and I certainly was, so allow me to welcome you all to Animating Halloween: Noctober! Throughout November, I will be peppering in more Halloween reviews throughout my regular reviews of the month. While a good chunk of the hecticness has died down for me, it will start back up soon enough. I hope to be back to normal in time for A Very Animated Holiday Special, but we’ll have to see. Until then, thank you all for your patience, comments, likes and sticking with me through the spoooOOOOoooookiness.

👻 Have a Happy and Safe Halloween! 🎃


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 9 Episodes 9 and 10 Review

Episode 9: Snake Celebration

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Plot: A woman who has recently married visits her in-laws for the first time in order to celebrate her brother-in-law’s birthday.

Breakdown: This episode had a lot of promise in the first half but really fell off in the latter half. This story does a good job at making you like the main character and the in-laws, and the noises made when the family were behind the paper doors were really creepy…..However…

I know people, myself included, sometimes have a problem with Yami Shibai choosing not to show enough of the ghost or monster or what have you, but this episode has the opposite problem in that it shows too much. I was so into it until the instant they showed what the snake monster looked like. They had a perfect thing going where were just seeing what was happening via silhouette behind the paper door, but then they made that pointless by outright showing us the creature full out for numerous seconds, and it’s really lame.

Spoiler alert, the in-laws are snake people, but in the lamest of terms. As in, when they shed their skin, they’re just scaly. That’s it. No creativity whatsoever just…scales. And of course the ending is the MC turning into a snake person too, but really just getting scales. They’re not killing her or anyone else, they’re simply making her scaly. And that’s only when she chooses to look that way. The family usually has regular human appearances, and it’s only when they shed this skin that they look this way. I wouldn’t want to become scaly, but it’s hardly the scariest horror story ending.

I will say that the art style is creepy enough. It’s a bit rough and ugly, but the faces are just subtle enough in their creepy stares and slightly wide eyes that it makes you uncomfortable.

Episode 10: Boar Meat

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Plot: A young girl named Nao, who has recently moved to the countryside, has a difficult time making friends until she meets another girl named Botan. A strong bond forms between them quickly as they care for peonies through the winter, but there’s something peculiar about Botan….

Breakdown: I was really loving this story for a while. The art, the water color-like coloring style, the characters, the story, the pacing – it was one of the most engaging Yami Shibai stories I’ve seen to date.

However, it’s also one of those episodes that makes absolutely no sense unless you know Japanese, and even once you learn the context it’s still a little confusing. Granted, the story isn’t confusing at all until the very ending.

A bullied new kid in town, Nao, befriends a really nice girl named Botan, and they live in their own little world simply caring for a peony plant on a hilltop in the woods. It’s obvious something is off about Botan, but her intentions with Nao never seem malicious.

I feel like I have to spoil this one to explain how confusing the ending is, so fair spoiler warning.

At the end of the episode, Botan hurts her leg on something unseen. In a panic, Nao rushes off to get help, despite Botan’s pleas to not leave her side. As we cut to black after the incident, we see Nao with a really haunted expression sitting quietly at the table as her mom talks to someone on the phone about making a hotpot for dinner with the boar meat they’re giving them…..the end.

It’s rare that I reach these levels of confusion, but there I was. The sub I watched didn’t have any notes about the context here, as usual, so I went to the comment section to find someone explaining the ending.

According to one of the commenters, Botan was actually a boar who could, for some reason and somehow, take the form of a young girl. But, to everyone else, Botan just looked like a boar. Case and point, one of Nao’s bullies started throwing rocks at them because he believed Nao was being attacked by the boar. During the attack, Botan’s eyes turned yellow, scaring the boy away.

When Botan hurt her leg, she actually got it caught in a trap meant to hunt boars. It’s unclear what would have happened had Nao stayed with her, but, supposedly, when Nao went to get help, she either returned to realize her friend was actually a boar, which had since been killed by the trappers, or the people she got to help were the trappers, who in turn killed Botan right in front of Nao – either of which would explain why she looks so horrified and grief-stricken near the end. I can only imagine she felt exponentially worse once her mother started talking about making a hotpot with the boar meat that was offered by the trappers who just killed her best friend.

You may be wondering how the heck we jumped from a little girl taking care of a flower to a boar. The thread holding all of this together is Botan’s name. Botan means ‘peony’, but there’s also a Japanese stew called Botan Nabe made with wild boar meat. It’s named as such because the pieces of boar meat are cut and arranged like the petals of a peony. Basically, the ending is a super dark joke on Botan’s name.

There was also a theory that Botan was merely caught in a trap and was later killed by a wild boar, but this theory doesn’t fit nearly as well as the other one, especially since the mother would be ridiculously nonchalant about the entire situation. “Oh a boar killed my daughter’s best friend? Oh sorry about the fuss. Sure, I’d love to make dinner out of the boar meat!”

Either way, holy crap, what a depressing end to this story. This poor girl is just lonely and bullied. She finally finds a friend, and not only does she realize she wasn’t an actual person the whole time, but she, at best, saw her dead body (I have no clue if she ever reverted to looking like a boar to Nao at any point. For all we know, she could have seen a young girl’s dead body.) or, at worst, witnessed her being slaughtered. And no matter which of those it was, she still has to deal with the fact that her best friend is for DINNER. What the actual hell?

In my opinion, as long as you know the context, this is a pretty good story, but that ending is way too depressing. Season nine’s really going heavy with the sad stories, eh?


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