Episode One-Derland (Cartoons): Winx Club

Plot: A teenage girl named Bloom finds a fairy named Stella being attacked by an ogre out in the woods. In an effort to save her, Bloom discovers that she has fairy magic too. This is just the start of something much bigger for Bloom.

Breakdown: Alright, I need to prepare myself for this one. Just gonna jump into my subconscious for a tad.

*poof*

Girly part of me! Where are you?! I need you for 20 minutes and 14 seconds! I know you’re in here! I felt your presence when I was looking at puppy pictures earlier! Ah there you are. I don’t know why I don’t always look in the nook with my Beanie Baby collection first.

Away!

*poof*

So, yeah, as you can probably guess, despite having the girl parts, I’ve never been that girly. I’ve always been more into things that were more traditionally boy-like. I had some regular girly stuff like Barbies and bead sets and a fake plastic kitchen (I make the best plastic omelets), I’ve even had the tea parties and dressed like a fairy princess once. But if you ever asked me to choose between something like Power Rangers and My Little Pony, I’d be imagining piloting the Megazord before you’d finish your sentence. I never really disliked girly things, I was just more interested in boy-ish stuff…..It was cooler….No My Little Pony dolls shoot lasers or explode, okay?

With that in mind, it goes without saying that I never really watched Winx Club. I caught a few minutes of it here and there but—OOH BEYBLADE’S ON!

*cough* Something else would usually come on.

But I’m not without my girliness. My femininity. My female…itude…..I have a purse.

Let’s see if I can get into Winx Club.

*one episode later*

Mmmmmmmm…..Nrrghhh……Unf.

Alright, let me level with you. This show is not terrible on the basis of rampant girliness. The girliness levels are high, damn near ridiculous (The main character’s animal sidekick is a damn bunny for crying out loud), but I was able to get through that relatively fine…

This episode is just poorly written.

Right off the bat, the pacing for the first half is breakneck. In the first three minutes, we’re briefly introduced to our main character, Bloom, who is a normal average teenage girl, she sees a fairy girl with a valley girl accent fighting an ogre, she starts to be defeated, Bloom goes to help her, reveals she suddenly has powers, knocks the ogre away, the fairy girl, named Stella, gets back up, defeats the ogre with ease and then faints.

The pacing slows down a bit then ramps right back up after the ten minute mark. For example, in the time span of a minute, Stella brings Bloom to Alfea, an all-girls boarding college for fairies, pixies and something called…gowylians? Gowillians?….Uh those – Most of whom are princesses because of course they are. They learn to be magic users, protectors of their realms and queens.

This place is right down the road from the boy’s school – The Red Fountain School for Heroics and Bravery (A place ‘full of hunks’ according to Stella), where young men learn to become military heroes utilizing such things as hand to hand combat, weapon use, basic survival, magic swords and DRAGONS. Look! Look! The boys get magic swords and dragons! They get the cool stuff!

They’re also closeby to the Clow Tower School for Witches, which could not be more designed to be a villain factory if you tried.

Then, in the same minute mind you, she informs Bloom that she already invited some of the boys from the Red Fountain school to her house. When did she do this? She never had the opportunity as far as I saw.

If the pacing doesn’t get you, the story won’t do you any favors. It is extremely cut and dry ‘normal person discovers she has magic powers and is tasked to save the world’ schtick. The good guys are obvious, the bad guys are even more obvious and they practically go out of their way to separate everyone into their respective groups. For God’s sake, if sectioning off good from evil wasn’t enough, they have to cordon off the boys into their own school too. So we can wrangle the love interests? What’s that about?

Wait a minute.

*One Wiki Later*

Yup, that’s literally it’s purpose. All of the future members of the Winx club will have either fiances or boyfriends and, you guessed it, they all, barring one, come from the Red Fountain school. Wow.

Bloom’s parents are unreasonably stupid. Not believing your daughter brought home a fairy is one thing, being one room away from a door that is being brutally pounded on by someone, seeing a pet freaking out about it and constantly wondering why the animal is freaking out and pointing to the aforementioned door is another. They have to shake the whole house and actually enter before they realize, holy crap, someone’s at the door.

Anyone familiar with Tuxedo Mask Syndrome in magical girl shows can rest assured that the girls do indeed get rescued in the end by the hero boys she mentioned. At the very least, they barely know what they’re doing too.

The dialogue is okay at best and cringe-worthy at worst. There’s a lot of lame slang, valley girl speak and just horribly written lines delivered in lackluster ways. Par for the course for 4Kids.

The art and animation are horrid. It’s not the absolute worst I’ve seen, but it is quite a ways down there. Italy, I hate to keep giving you crap, but….you kinda keep giving me crap. It’s weird. There isn’t really a tidal wave of animation errors – it’s moreso like an unfinished animation or just sloppily done. The action actually isn’t the worst part of it. The bad animation is most highlighted in the speaking scenes. I laughed out loud when we saw Brendan speaking in that extreme closeup. If there was ever a shot where bobble-head physics applied, it’s that one.

The music is about what you’d expect from a girl-targeted show from 4Kids. Girly earworms. I will wag my finger in 4Kids face for one moment of music faux pas. They very clearly use a piece of BG music from Pokemon when Bloom wakes up. Tsk tsk.

As a first episode, it does the job just fine. Mostly because they’re mowing down the plot of the episode to shove every bit of exposition down our throats as quickly as possible. It introduces us to the characters and their universe just fine. They don’t really explain too well what fairies are in terms of what they do, nor do they explain how their magic works. They also never explain why or how Bloom is a fairy. She just shows she has powers and Stella spends half the episode gushing about how awesome she is.

They show the big bads, but we have no clue what they want beside power and I can only assume world domination.

Final Verdict—wait a minute.

While this first episode, in my opinion, is a hot mess that doesn’t make me want to want to watch anymore, I will concede for a bit. Winx Club is a huge franchise spanning over several seasons, movies and even comics.

I’ve read some stuff from future storylines and it seems somewhat interesting. I don’t want to write off the entire franchise for you all here, so let’s leave this as an;

ebzss3e

I, personally, won’t be continuing because it’s just not my cup of tea. However, if you can find yourself getting into shows of this vein, I recommend giving it a go for a few episodes. If anything, the art and animation seem to improve over time.

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Blogger Recognition Award (+ A Surprise!)

Whoo! I’ve been recognized! This awesome person named Jenn bestowed upon me this award. I knew all those years of pretending this was a blog and not my bin for crazy ramblings would pay off.

Thank you very much for the nomination, Jenn. 🙂 Do you like anime, reviews, good things, happiness and listening to me tell you to read a great blog? Then look at Jenn’s Blog, Welcome to Hell Zone!

Here are the rules for this award.

1.Say thanks to who nominated you and leave a link back to that persons blog.
2.Give the story or history of your blog.

3.Give two or more pieces of advice for new bloggers.

4. Nominate 10 other bloggers and link their blogs.

History of My Blog

Is it boring to say ‘I wanted to make a blog for my reviews, so I did?’

Okay, let’s back up then. Many, many years ago, I was a frequent player of the now far defunct online Pokemon game, Pokemon Crater. I was also a common face on the forums, where I met many great people, some of which are still my friends to this day.

The forums had a blog section where users were free to write about whatever they wanted, within rules of course. I started writing reviews in there, and since the website is gone I am completely blanking on exactly when I started doing this, but I wanna say, estimating from other sources, it was mid 2006—wha, mid-2006? I feel ancient right now.

And, yeah, surprise, my origins are rooted in Pokemon. I was far more into doing Pokemon sprite work than writing reviews at that point. I had a sprite shop and everything. I loved doing splices and recolors, but I especially enjoyed making glowing and ‘angel’ versions of Pokemon. I wasn’t fantastic at it, but I had regular-ish requests and did it on a frequent basis.

Anyhoo, I didn’t do these on any sort of schedule on my reviews and I had barely any format to them. I’d watch some anime and blather about it in a short blog post whenever I felt like it.

Flash forward to late 2007 where the admins of the site are saying the website’s going down – and quick. Like a handful of days of notice before the place implodes. Being such a popular and large site, it caused quite the stir to scamper off to other places. I migrated to a forum that was specially made for Crater refugees, which I won’t share the name of since 1) It’s dead anyway and 2) it’s mostly meant for close-knit already established members and 3) I am pretty sure registrations are turned off either way.

I was made a moderator by the admin and happy days were here again. It took me six months before I finally put up an open review thread for anime, but I did and posted…..more regularly than I did on Crater but still very sporadically and without a solid format.

Over the years, I started reviewing things more frequently, polished up my writing style, branched out into cartoon reviews (back then, it was usually just holiday specials), and even started some of my sub-series like Sub/Dub Comparisons and Pokemon Extravaganza. I also started doing very minor Pokemon reviews episode by episode, which grew and improved over time as well. I started late Orange League and am still doing them today. As of this writing, I’m up to episode 181, which kinda depresses me because I thought, after all this time, I’d be much further than that. Oh well, at least when I close the gap I’ll have a hell of a backlog to upload.

As time went by, the website experienced a….uh….let’s just say a cataclysm of drama that, in hindsight, was incredibly stupid and poorly handled by all parties, myself included.

After that, the forum started to die, even more than it was, quite frankly. I felt like my writings weren’t being seen and that I was missing out on all sorts of discussions about the things I was writing about. I gave a couple of blogs a test drive until I finally decided to go all in on a WordPress blog.

In regards to the name, I was known to get into rageful rants and random babblings in both my reviews and my regular blog posts, and I still am proud guilty of that to this day, so I figured The Anime Madhouse was perfect for it…..Took me a long time to realize I might’ve made this place invisible to search engines because there’s an anime studio named Madhouse….Pbbbtt.

I exported and continue to export various reviews I made at my old place here, revamping the hell out of some of them, but I have greatly enjoyed making reviews, creating new series and discussing various topics with the community here on WordPress since February 17, 2014……Hey, that means–

cheer2cheer3cheer4cheer5

It’s my Bloggiversary!

It’s now been four years since I started my reign of terror. That’s one way of spicing up a Bloggiversary post, I suppose. 😛

Piece of Advice for New Bloggers #1: Try to Do Plenty of Research on What You’re Writing About.

Not only does research enhance the quality of a post immensely, but research can actually be a lot of fun. I’ve stumbled upon quite a few interesting tidbits and stories about the things that I review just from doing a quick Google search on it.

You absolutely shouldn’t feel compelled to do hours of research to make a few blog posts, god knows I usually don’t, but learning more about your chosen topic and even citing sources can be greatly beneficial both to your readers and you.

Piece of Advice for New Bloggers #2: Never Be Discouraged by Lack of Likes, Comments, Shares etc.

Blogging is something that you do moreso for yourself than anybody. Obviously, we post this stuff online to be seen, otherwise we’d just keep a diary, but don’t feel discouraged just because you don’t get a lot of likes, comments, shares etc. When you’re just starting out, people will have to find you. And even after doing this for years, you might still find little in regards to feedback. That’s okay. Just the fact that you’re putting yourself out there and having fun writing is all that matters.

But if you really yearn for some discussions, try visiting other peoples blogs and comment on them. Like their stuff, share it on social media, ask questions, make requests or just say hi. You’d be amazed how many people check out your stuff just because you pop in and share your thoughts on their posts.

As a bit of a tip, though, don’t follow too many blogs in a short period of time. You’ll be automatically locked out of following people and have to ask for a system admin to unblock you. That totally didn’t happen to me. It happened to a friend. Named….TwiddleFix….

…..Hey, it’s not my fault that I keep finding interesting blogs around here. I blame all of you and your suggesting of visiting blogs.

Speaking of which, I suggest you visit these blogs because here are my nominations!

(Hopefully I caught people who haven’t done it yet. No pressure either way.)

Matt-in-the-Hat

Nice Job Breaking it, Hero

Karandi

Lita Kino Anime Corner

The Otaku Judge

The Cool Kat’s Reviews

DReager1

Mr. Panda

Lethargic Ramblings

Fueled by Smiling

Hell Girl Episode 9: Sweet Trap Review

Hell Girl ep 9
I can’t tell if he’s stuck in the cake or if he became a part of the cake….

Plot: Hiromi and her sister Yuko are ready to open their new sweets shop. Ever since they were young, they always wanted to open a sweets shop with their father, but he passed away before that dream could be realized. With Hiromi’s great talents and Yuko’s savings from years of part-time jobs, they’re finally able to open a shop. However, Hiromi’s previous boss, Mirasaki, steals one of her trademark desserts and makes her look like the thief, damning their shop to ruin before it even gets off the ground. Yuko wants revenge against Mirasaki for crushing her sister’s dreams.

Breakdown: Back to less infuriating targets, this one’s iffy on whether or not the guy deserved to go to hell.

Mirasaki is indeed an asshole. His reasons behind stealing her dessert weren’t even to further his career or anything – she rejected his sexual advances so he decided the best course of action to get revenge was to basically ruin her career by stealing a trademark dessert she made and was planning to unveil in her new shop, then he got them both back to back TV spots. He revealed his stolen dessert on his segment, so when Hiromi presented the same dessert on her segment immediately afterward, she looked like a thief. He was a notable chef and she was merely an up and comer, plus she was his apprentice so it appeared like it was a no contest case of her stealing his dessert.

They don’t say her career is ruined, though. They just say he ruined her shop. And, yeah, he did. They were barely open a few weeks before they had to close their doors, and it was all because everyone labeled the place as belonging to a dessert thief.

Both Hiromi and Yuko are still very young, and they can save up the money for another shop. It was one dessert and one minor scandal that didn’t even have proof attached to it. She still has a very hopeful future ahead of her if they play their cards right. Does Mirasaki still suck? Yes. Does he deserve an ass-whuppin’? Sure. But going to hell? And Yuko going to hell to do so? Ehhhh.

Yuko does feel particularly guilty because the only reason he was able to steal her dessert was because Yuko gave him a sample when they were talking about Hiromi’s new shop. How he was able to determine the exact recipe by a taste, I dunno. Maybe she felt it was worth it for how much pain she seemingly caused her sister, but I still don’t believe this needed to happen.

Not for pun sake, but the whole situation was very bittersweet.

The torment this time was also….goofy. People threw cakes at him and called him a terrible chef, people kept turning into frosting and then at the end he was eaten by a cake. And any ‘torment’ scene with someone yelling ‘EAT ME!’ is just not going to do anything for me but make me laugh.

Hajime and Tsugumi were in this episode, but really only to show us that they weren’t one-off characters. They did nothing.

Rating: 5/10

Exploring Disney’s Castle: Dinosaur (2000)

Rating: 7/10

Plot: The egg of an iguanodon is separated from its parents and ends up traveling far away from any dinosaurs on an island where he’s found and cared by a family of lemurs who name him Aladar. Despite being vastly different from anyone on the island, he lives a very happy life with his family. One day, a horrible meteor shower wipes out their home and most of the animals that they knew. While escaping the aftermath, Aladar and his family, his mother, grandfather, sister and uncle, run into a herd of many dinosaurs trying to make it back to their nesting grounds since they believe it may be a safe haven from this catastrophe. Lead by Cron, a cruel iguanodon who believes in survival of the fittest, the herd tries to make it to their nesting grounds alive, but Aladar doesn’t agree with Cron’s methods and wishes to get everyone, the old, young, sick and injured there alive no matter what.

Breakdown: I remember seeing this a while back and not getting a huge impression about it. It’s not bad, there are many good points, but there’s nothing very fantastic about it. The visuals, especially during the meteor shower and Aladar’s egg traveling to the island are wonderful, but unlike what I first thought, the backgrounds are almost always actual footage of real locations with only the animals and the effects CGI. The visuals are still great, though, and the CGI meshes well with the environment.

The story’s somewhat predictable, though the meteor shower comes right out of nowhere. There’s still several parts that are heartwarming, tragic and impacting, especially when Eema, one of the elderly dinosaurs, starts to deteriorate.

The romance is predictable as well. Only female iguanodon tail meet only other iguanodon around that isn’t your brother or a dick (Cron being both)

The characters are where it loses me a bit. We have Zini who is Aladar’s lemur uncle. He’s obnoxious and that’s all there is to it. We’re supposed to feel bad for him because he can’t find a mate, but if you watched him for five minutes you’d know why he can’t find one. And of course he’s a total playboy by the end for no reason. His character does nothing in the slightest. His little sister, Suri, does way more than Zini does.

The lemurs on their own don’t do much anyway. They ride the backs of the dinosaurs and make comments about what’s happening around them. That’s about it. The mom does some stuff, as does Suri, but after the opening scene they’re just kinda there.

Then we have I guess his name is Url. He’s a ankylosaurus that acts like a dog for reasons beyond my understanding. I don’t know why some of these dinosaurs are smart and can speak but then we have dog-like dinosaurs like Url and carnosaurus who are nothing but hungry beasts incapable of rational thought.

Cron’s a pretty decent bad guy, but you can’t sympathize with him very much. I know that in dire circumstances sometimes you need to do harsh things in order to ensure that even some survive instead of none, but by the end it really seems like he didn’t give a crap about any of the herd and that if any of them didn’t make it they didn’t deserve to make it. In some circumstances he was nearly causing their death by his blowhard plans.

That’s supposed to make Aladar look like a real hero by contrast, which it does, but they clearly want you to have some sort of connection to him since he’s noted as being Neera’s (female iguanodon) brother.

Bottomline: This isn’t a fantastic movie, but it’s still a very enjoyable film with plenty of suspense, action, some romance, and likable characters especially in Eema and Baylene. The story is predictable, but it’s not horribly cliché. The art and animation along with the music are fantastic, with maybe the lemurs looking the worst. You may get annoyed by Zini, but he gets hardly any screentime so I wouldn’t worry about it. I’d still watch it if it was randomly airing on TV.

Recommended Audience: This is a Disney production, so it’s not too bad in the content department, but you do have sudden apocalyptic conditions, corpses, some dinosaurs die on screen, some dinosaur corpses are eaten by raptors and carnosaurs, non-graphically for the most part, and a good chunk of it takes place off camera, there’s some blood….eh 10+.

Ojamajo Doremi Episode 2 Sub/Dub Comparison

Plot: Hazuki is depressed with her life and wishes to be Doremi. Doremi doesn’t mind the idea of being Hazuki since she’s rich, so she uses magic to change them into each other to live each others lives. However, is the grass really greener on the other side?

======================

The episode starts off with Hazuki leaving for the day and wondering to herself what would happen if she ran away before the theme song starts. After the theme song ends, we get Doremi giving a short recap as to who she is and why she has powers, the regular magic girl show schtick. Both of these scenes are removed.

Pop tells Doremi that the bath is ready for her whereas Caitlyn asks if Dorie’s having conversations with herself again.

The witch exams are just called ninth through first exams. In the dub, the first exam is called the Fairy Exam whereas, originally, it’s the ninth. Technically this is still descriptive of the exam since it’s an exam that, if passed, allows Doremi to get her own fairy like Majorika has in Lala.

Doremi originally accidentally tells Hazuki that she’s a witch for a second, and imagines herself as a frog alongside Majorika. Hazuki asks what she means by that, she freaks out and says she has a witch’s way of thinking. In the dub, the daydream and the freaking out are removed and it’s changed to Dorie telling Reanne that she forgot to do her homework. I have no clue why this was cut.

Visuals:

Doremi’s actually more rude than Dorie is in the next part. It’s clear that Hazuki is upset and depressed about her life right now. When she’s trying to explain it, Doremi says, literally, that it doesn’t matter and that she’s the world’s unhappiest pretty girl, but if she were Hazuki she’d be lucky and happy. In the dub, Reanne says she might have a point that her life seems good, but sometimes she wishes she were someone else. Dorie then goes off saying she’d want to be like that shampoo commercial where she smells the shampoo and then rides off into the rainforest on a unicorn….call that stupid, but that actually sounds like an awesome commercial.

Text is replaced again to make the books say…oddly enough ‘reading.’…”Kids, these are your reading books.” “…..As opposed to non-reading books?” “DO YOU WANT DETENTION!?”

Subbed:

Dubbed:

Name Change: Yuki-Sensei is changed to Ms. Shannon

Originally, Doremi apologizes for what she said earlier and Hazuki says she wishes Doremi hadn’t found out about her problems that way and also apologizes. In the dub, Dorie tells Reanne that her friendship is important to her and that she wants her to know that she can always tell her anything. Reanne says that no one’s never said such a nice thing to her before and says Dorie’s a great friend.

I thank God above that 4Kids only dubbed two magical girl anime in their existence because between Mew Mew Power in my face and Faladeiladongding now I am a witchling, I’m already resisting the urge to be a serial killer.

The spell to turn Reanne into Dorie is “This will make a real great story, turn Reanne into Dorie.” The original’s has yet to change.

Hazuki is happy she’s finally Doremi whereas Reanne is happy she’s ‘someone else’, which is a lot sadder when you think about it. Being envious of someone and despising your life so much that you’d just wish to be anyone else are two very different things.

Aw, 4Kids, you were doing so well. There’s a sign on the trash bins that says ‘Trash’ in Japanese. Instead of changing it like they’ve been doing, they painted away not only the word but also all of the little designs on the sign and the bins. They replace them with typical recycling symbols.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

The spell for changing Dorie into Reanne is “Now for part two of this plan, turn Dorie into Reanne!” Still the same in the original.

The dub doesn’t include the parts about saying that witches really exist and also adds that Dorie jokes with Reanne about calling her sister ‘bratface’. In addition, while they keep in the part about asking how to address their parents, Dorie doesn’t ask Reanne for the same information whereas Doremi does.

Again, they change her being excited about being Doremi into her being excited to be quite literally anyone but herself.

The eyecatches are removed.

Visuals:

Pop isn’t singing a girly pop (hehe) song when Hazuki comes in like Caitlyn is. Also, Pop kindly greets Hazuki (Doremi) while Catilyn says snotily “What are YOU staring at?”

There’s no way to keep this in here besides being uncharacteristically loyal to the source material, but Hazuki keeps calling Pop, Pop-chan, which she seems to despise. It causes her to continuously freak out, and she refers to her prior conversation with the actual Doremi by saying ‘If you don’t want one of my boyfriends, that’s fine. But don’t refer to me by that suffix!” In the dub, she’s freaking out about how nice Reanne is being to her. She then says the complete opposite of the last line by saying this means Dorie actually wants one of her boyfriends now, but it will cost her.

They edit out a shot of Hazuki freaking out when Pop says she’s acting weird.

Visuals:

Also, they cut the next shot of Pop down to just show her with big round eyes.

Doremi’s mom is nicer and just asks Pop what she wants whereas Dorie’s mom yells that she’s busy.

In the original, Doremi’s mom asks for the sauce. The dub asks for the flour. She then asks to check the bathroom where as the dub asks for vacuuming. Asking if the gate is locked is changed to answering the phone and Doremi’s mom is consistently nicer than Dorie’s seemingly attitude-ish one.

Doremi clamors over calling Hazuki’s mom ‘mama’ whereas Dorie’s clamoring over saying ‘ma’am’ because god knows she never could’ve said that when she was Dorie.

The one thing I always find weird about these ‘switching bodies’ episodes of anything is when the characters change clothes or are the other person for extended periods of time. Technically, in this case, the girls are just magically transformed to look exactly like each other, but it’s still an exact replica of Doremi’s and Hazuki’s bodies. You’d have to change clothes, take showers, do….other things, in someone else’s body. That’s just creepy.

In the original, Hazuki’s mom only says they’re having dinner at a hotel. In the dub, there’s no mention of a hotel, they just call the place The Winchesters. Which can only mean one thing. They’re having dinner with Sam and Dean.

Hazuki’s mom asks if she’d like Italian or French for dinner. Reanne’s mom asks if she’d like pasta or salad.

Hazuki’s mom replies to Doremi’s request of steak by mentioning that she had it yesterday. Doremi responds by saying that today’s another day and that’s just what she wants. In the dub, they keep the mention of steak there but they change her mom’s line to saying Reanne’s a vegetarian. Dorie responds by saying she’s not one anymore and she needs protein. Hazuki’s mom responds by saying she can have whatever she wants, and Doremi replies in thanks. Reanne’s mom asks her about her argument about soy protein, and Dorie just says to forget about it.

Hazuki’s mom goes off to make the reservations. In the dub, she goes off to pick more dresses.

Hazuki’s teacher doesn’t tell her what song to play, and Doremi asks when she gets steak. Hazuki’s mom laughs at the fact that she thought she’d get dinner right then. In the dub, Reanne’s teacher tells her to play Paco Bell. Dorie asks what Paco Bell is Reanne’s mom says she’s been practicing it all week and to kindly play it for them. To be fair, I don’t know what Paco Bell is either. Yo quiero Paco Bell!

Doremi’s dad shows Hazuki a catalog about lures when Doremi’s mom bursts in to tell them to stop what they’re doing and come eat dinner. Doremi’s dad yells about how he’s a serious fly fisher and Doremi’s mom strikes back by saying it’s awful because she’s the one who has to gut and clean them. This eventually leads to a comedic, note COMEDIC, physical fight. Exactly like the ones you’d see in Western cartoons with the doofy sound effects and cloud of smoke.

In the dub, Dorie’s mom tells him to stop talking to Reanne about that stuff and Dorie’s dad interrupts her by saying he’s a very serious fly fishing writer. Dorie’ mom strikes back by saying he’s barely sold anything and the entire scene with the extended comedic fight and the arguing is removed as we cut straight to Hazuki’s reaction shot, which is also edited to be rid of the dust clouds. I get it, ya know, domestic violence and whatnot, but come on, they couldn’t have made it anymore comically unserious if they put a giant banner on screen that said ‘THIS IS A JOKE! ONLY A COMPLETE BRAINDEAD IDIOT WOULD THINK DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS OKAY!”

Visuals:

Hazuki wonders how they can be so civil and friendly to one another at dinner after having such a bad fight. Due to the previous completely unneeded line change, this is changed to Reanne not being able to eat the steak dinner since she’s a vegetarian. I’m really just hoping sometime in the future Hazuki will eat meat and 4Kids will either completely miss it or edit it out because they’re idiots.

This line is changed, but what they did do was funny. Doremi’s mom says she knew Doremi was acting weird so she bought the steak to help cheer her up. In the dub, this line is omitted and instead we get this.

Mom: “She doesn’t have a fever.”

Dad: “Did you check her tongue?”

Mom: “For WHAT?!”

Dad: “I dunno! Spots?!”

I nearly spit out my drink this was so funny. Kudos, 4Kids. Also, you can tell Dan Green has a lot of fun as the dad. The parents have a good back and forth in both versions. Usually anyway.

Hazuki says her parents will be really worried about her whereabouts if they find Doremi in her bed instead of her. In the dub, Reanne says if they find Dorie there, they’ll be confused and send her to the hospital.

Hazuki talks about how bad she feels for deceiving Doremi’s parents and how she made them worry about her since she wasn’t acting like Doremi would act. In the dub, Reanne talks about how much she missed her family while she was with Dorie’s family.

The next scene is the same only the dub adds in the mention of her not eating it because she’s a vegetarian. It’s really important that we drill this into your head for no reason.

They cut the final scene out, which is Doremi learning that the steak that was kept from dinner last night was eaten sometime, somehow between Hazuki going to bed and Doremi returning late at night. Her family rejoices in her being back to normal, but Doremi laments at her bad luck.

Next episode we’re introduced to Aiko who seems to be the last girl in their magical girl group who will get powers – at least during this series.

Hell Girl Episode 8: Silent Friendship Review

Hell Girl ep 8

Plot: Chie wants revenge for her friend, Yuko, after she falls into a coma due to a terrible incident. Meanwhile, a reporter named Hajime investigates Hell Correspondence, and his daughter, Tsugumi, starts having weird visions of Ai’s clients and targets.

Breakdown: This episode is not so much about the case at hand and moreso about introducing a couple of characters who will be more or less mainstays for the rest of the season and partially throughout the other series – Hajime and Tsugumi Shibata.

At this point, their presence and this ability is not very relevant, but it does add some intrigue. You know from the moment that this link between Tsugumi and Ai is established that both of them are not going to be one-off characters. For now, we just look forward to what they’ll add to the overarching plot.

As for the case this time around, it’s very cut and dry. A woman named Chie wants revenge for her friend, Yuko, after witnessing her boyfriend, Guro, knock her off a balcony. She calls on Hell Girl for revenge and she pulls the string.

The torture this time around isn’t that memorable, but we do get to see an outsider’s view on someone else being dragged to hell, which is interesting but since each time is unique it’s also a bit pointless.

Rating: 6/10 This is very much an establishing episode to get the actual main plot of the series going. Doesn’t mean it’s bad, but the case suffers for it a bit and the main plot only gets going a little bit as well.

Pokemon Episode 44 Analysis: The Problem with Paras

Pokemon Ep 44 Title

CotD(s): Cassandra – An herbalist like her grandmother, Cassandra’s greatest dream is to evolve her Paras and use Parasect’s mushroom spores to make a miracle potion to help all Pokemon across the world.

Reappear?: No.

Pokemon: Paras and later Parasect, along with a Persian.

Plot: The group comes across a small village and decide to stop there to load up on potions and antidotes. When they approach an herbalist’s shop, they’re challenged by the owner’s granddaughter, Cassandra, to a Pokemon battle.

She sends out her Pokemon, Paras, to battle Ash, but he’s perplexed to find that Paras seemed extremely scared and unwilling to battle. Cassandra says she wants her Paras to evolve into a Parasect as soon as possible so she can harvest the spores from its mushroom to use in a miracle potion that will restore defensive power, attack power, concentration, determination and even make it smarter.

Ash realizes that Paras cannot withstand the full force of his team, so he tells Pikachu and Squirtle to go easy on it, essentially letting it win, in order to gain easy experience and evolve.

Despite a dinky spark from Pikachu and a little squirt of water from Squirtle, Paras is still easily toppled each time. Ash decides to try Charmeleon, but is shocked to find that it refuses to obey his orders, blasting Paras with a powerful Flamethrower and Tail Whip before burning Ash.

He’s able to get Charmeleon under control with the help of Pikachu, but Paras has run off in a panic.

Meanwhile, Meowth is obsessed with helping Cassandra achieve her dream since she cared for him earlier. He was suffering from a fever, and she was kind enough to stop and make him some medicine. After the fever was relieved, he found himself smitten and swore to help Cassandra.

As Paras runs away, Meowth takes the opportunity to nab up Paras and help him evolve by ‘training’ him with Arbok and Weezing. He knocks them both out himself and pretends Paras did it, then pretends to be knocked out by one measly attack, which instantly boosts Paras’ confidence.

They’re successful in their plans, but leave Ash to finish the job when they reunite Cassandra with Paras. Pikachu willingly falls to Paras, but Ash tries Charmeleon again afterwards.

It doesn’t go well.

Cassandra’s grandmother reveals that Ash is too inexperienced, making Charmeleon no longer respect him. Charmeleon won’t obey Ash at all now and starts rampaging. Paras tries to run, but Team Rocket arrives and cheers him on, revealing to Cassandra that they’ve been secretly training Paras. Suddenly, Paras manages to instantly knock Charmeleon out with a poke to the stomach. This last bit of experience allows Paras to evolve into Parasect.

Charmeleon gets up, blasts off Team Rocket and attacks again, but is put to sleep by Parasect’s Spore attack, allowing Ash to finally recall him.

Cassandra bids farewell to Ash and the others. Soon after, Team Rocket lands in front of her shop so she decides to patch them up. Meowth happily believes she’ll make him the company mascot now, but she refuses, stating she can’t take him away from their job as ‘superheroes’, the cover story they gave her before. Her grandma finds a Persian outside that she claims she’ll use as a surrogate for him before sending him on his way.

————————–

– It’s the return of the completely useless maps.

Pokemon Ep 44 Screen 1
Are they in a golf course?

– Narrator: “It’s a quaint, cute place. But it’s so small, it doesn’t even have its own Pokemon Gym.”

They very rarely ever visit a place that does have its own Pokemon Gym. Just ask literally every region they’ll visit in the future. About 95% of the places they visit are Gym free. Size doesn’t have anything to do with it, either. They’ve been to massive cities that don’t have Gyms, and some Gyms are in small rural towns.

Ash: “There’s no use stoppin’ here if they don’t have a Gym.” Again, you guys stop at many places that don’t have Gyms. If you didn’t, this series would be much shorter.

– Ash: “I’m dyin’ for a cheeseburger.” 4Kids and their hard-on for cheeseburgers again.

Misty: “No way! I want to go to a nice restaurant!” This place is described as being a very dinky little backwoods village. What makes her think they have a nice restaurant?

– I am finding the sudden shifts in quality for Team Rocket’s disguises to be off-putting. One episode, they’ll have great outfits and tons of props, the next they’ll be crawling on the ground in plain view while holding up small branches pretending to be bushes.

Pokemon Ep 44 Screen 2

– If Meowth’s head is so hot that it burns Jessie’s hand, through a glove no less, he should be dead.

– James: “Wait a second, Jessie. If we leave Meowth here, he could collapse from that fever.”

Jessie: “Don’t worry. He’s still got eight more lives left.” I know you guys are meant to be villains, but holy shit, you’re legit saying you don’t care if Meowth dies.

– And thus begins Meowth’s very uncomfortable crush on the human girl, Cassandra.

I get that Meowth is just not used to people being nice to him, but why does his appreciation need to be in the form of a crush? At least Cassandra doesn’t return his feelings or anything, but it’s still awkward. Between this and the crush Chikorita will have on Ash, it’s getting really weird in Pokemon. Oh well, at least I don’t believe there’s anything else like this in the further future—Oh hey, I didn’t read up on the Bulbagarden comparison for this episode.

Let’s see…Hmmmhmhmhm.

“This was years and years before the Diamond & Pearl games dropped that bombshell about humans marrying pokemon, by the way!” The….what?

Original Japanese Text in Diamond and Pearl: ““Sinnoh Folk Story 3” There once were Pokémon that married people. There once were people who married Pokémon. This was a normal thing because long ago people and Pokémon were the same.”

…..My God….so many people on DeviantArt must have had a field day with this.

– It was nice that Cassandra helped Meowth, but she is leaving him, happily, in the hands of people who denied being his trainers and nearly left for him dead, verbally expressing that they didn’t care if he died.

– I’m just going to condense some of the biggest problems with this episode so I don’t clutter up the post with pages of material.

Major problem A – who gives a crap about the Paras line?

Pokemon Ep 44 Screen 3
Oh my god, a handshake! Don’t kill me!

Personally, I don’t find it ugly or anything (Well, Parasect is a little) but you’d be hardpressed to find anyone who would either put them on their favorites list or use one on their team in the games at any point in time.

They’re not the worst Pokemon in the world, but they are a major liability being both Grass and Bug (Not one but two x4 weaknesses? Oh boy!) their stats are far from impressive and they’re really only even a little useful if you focus on status effects.

Major problem B – Pokemon specific episodes are meant to celebrate the focused Pokemon.

Pokemon Ep 44 Screen 4
Yay Paras!

Like the Paras line or not – this episode makes a Pokemon with a terrible rep look even worse. An incredibly weak Paras, even moreso than you’d think, is such a pathetic sack of crap that even minor non-attacks knock it flat on its ass.

Put it this way – if you encountered this thing in the wild in the games and wanted to capture it for some reason, all you had were off-brand Pokeballs and you knew every attack of any Pokemon you owned was too powerful for it and the game included a ‘breathe gently on it’ option – if you used that option, it would probably die.

When Paras is finally fake winning battles, the thing gets an ego the size of Kanto and starts picking fights with other Pokemon. So either Paras is a drama queen little wimp or an ego-centric asshole. Why would I want to root for this fungus covered dick?

Not only that, but Cassandra purely wants Parasect to use as an ingredient in potions. She doesn’t even have anything interesting to say about Paras. She’s laser focused on Parasect.

This has nothing to do with what Paras wants or highlights anything special about Paras or even Parasect, and it’s all about what the spores from Parasect’s mushroom MIGHT be able to do. Not what it’s been proven to do. What it could possibly maybe do – which is highly unlikely anyway because, bloody hell, she basically wants this ‘miracle potion’ to do everything short of solving the debt crisis and curing death. And, as we can see in the series, that potion never happened so, in hindsight, this whole episode is a waste of time and a complete waste of an attempt at cleaning up the Paras line’s horrible rep.

Major problem C – The clusterfuck that is experience, levels and how they’re applied in regards to battles in the anime. Notably the biggest and most discussed problem of this episode is how experience is being portrayed here.

Pokemon Ep 44 Screen 5

The plot goes that Cassandra is trying to get her Paras to evolve, but can’t since it doesn’t have much experience and its level is low. She tries to get it to win battles, but it’s so embarrassingly weak that she can’t win.

Ash decides to let Cassandra win by making her Pokemon do such lame attacks that, logically, no Pokemon should be able to be knocked out by. Ash is unsuccessful at this, but Team Rocket has better luck by knocking out their Pokemon behind Paras’ back and pretending it did it. It can be argued that the one battle it legit won was against Charmeleon, but let’s save that little nugget for later.

The point is, experience was fabricated and ‘levels’ were gained through fake battles, which ultimately let Paras evolve into Parasect. After The School of Hard Knocks, it seemed like they were dropping the idea of an experience system that was close to what the games had, especially since Ash’s Pokemon should be well into evolution by now if we estimate their levels.

However, now it seems like it’s back, at least in a sense. They’re not talking about levels, but they are clearly talking about experience as if it’s a quantifiable concept that can be measured and gained explicitly through battle.

That’s all well and dandy, but the idea of faking battles for the sake of evolution is just unreal. Experience, in a more subjective view, is much like how you’d gain experience in anything in real life. You learn, you build muscle, you get a little faster, you get a little stronger, you get better at developing strategies etc. Somehow, that translates to a Pokemon’s body or spirit or whatnot affirming that they’ve reached whatever point is deemed necessary for it to evolve, and it does so, if the Pokemon wishes (They use their internal B button if they don’t)

If it is as such, experience should not be able to be gained in such deceptive manners, unless, somehow, the concept of experience is all in the Pokemon’s head, which just creates more confusion. No timid Pokemon in existence would ever evolve, and egotistical Pokemon could evolve without barely a battle under their belt.

In a less realistic but, given the games, understandable viewpoint, experience is something quantitative that we can measure in numeric units. Which means this plan still shouldn’t work. Experience points, whatever they are, should only be able to be gained when legit battles are won. I’m not sure how the body or whatever is distributing these points would be able to tell the difference, but, logically, that’s the way it would go.

The only game canon thing I can think of that skirts around this rule is the item Exp. Share, which grants a Pokemon experience whenever another Pokemon on your team wins a battle. I have never been able to come up with a logical explanation behind how that device works and it’s not anime canon as far as I can see so it’s hard to work that into this discussion.

It just doesn’t seem right in any way that Paras is able to fabricate experience by faking battles – Which leads us into the next issue.

Major problem D – The ethical ramifications of faking experience.

Pokemon Ep 44 Screen 6

I’m certain that Ash and the others don’t see much harm in throwing these battles because it’s not like Cassandra is trying to win a contest or do anything official – she just wants a Parasect to make medicine. However, ethically, this practice would be ludicrous.

If it were that easy to gain experience, surely becoming a Pokemon trainer would be a gigantic pain in the ass. If you wanted to be legit, you’d have to face trainer after trainer of cheaters who have massive teams of level 100s that they got by playing ‘Pokemon Battle Theater’ for a few days.

And just forget about getting into the Pokemon League. Afterall, I doubt they’d have any method of determining if a Pokemon got their experience through legitimate battles or fake ones. Imagine how easy it would be if you wanted to be a professional baseball player and you reached pro level in skill by playing against two year olds in strollers while you play teeball with a bat the size of a pizza peel.

Let’s not leave out Team Rocket, who would’ve easily taken over the world by now with an army of level 100 powerhouses that they obtained in a few weeks.

(Admittedly Less) Major Problem E – Why can’t Cassandra just find a wild Parasect?

Pokemon Ep 44 Screen 7

They’re not exactly the rarest Pokemon ever. Or maybe find a Paras that is not a complete spineless wuss and train that to evolve. Paras definitely aren’t too rare, and I assume she lives in an area where they are indigenous because she has one.

For that matter, if Parasect’s spores are so well-known for their medicinal properties, surely it’s sold commercially. Given the commonality of the Paras line, I can’t imagine it’s that expensive either.

(Admittedly Less) Major Problem F – The unsettling connotations of this evolution.

Pokemon Ep 44 Screen 8

The unsettling aspect of this situation comes in Paras’ evolution. It’s not being forced to evolve or anything, but there is a question of whether Paras might be afraid to evolve, which is why it seems like such a wimpy drama queen in battle.

Why might this be? Have you ever read the games’ Pokedex entries for Parasect? Most of them explain that, after evolution, the mushroom on its back grows so large that the bug ‘host’ is drained of energy, loses consciousness and its control over its thoughts and body while the mushroom controls the ‘host’ for the rest of its life.

Yup. The mushroom is basically a parasite (name makes more sense now) and once Paras evolves, it becomes a mushroom zombie. That is one of the most horrifying ramifications of evolution I’ve ever heard.

– Cassandra: “Good luck, Paras! All the Pokemon on earth are counting on you!” All the Pokemon on earth? You’re being about as dramatic as Paras is about to be.

Also, this thing is so skiddish that it ran away from Pikachu for saying ‘hello’. You really want to pile on the pressure by saying that all of the Pokemon on earth are counting on him?

– Paras is certainly a good Pokemon to have. Look at it roll over and faint after receiving an electric shock so weak that I probably get more amperage flowing through my body when I rub my stocking feet on the carpet. It’s understandable, given that Electric types are ½ as effective on Paras.

– I would applaud Ash for actually researching Paras and deciding to go down the route of a weak type matchup to make it easier to let Paras win…..but…..let’s not waste it. In about two minutes, it will not matter.

Pokemon Ep 44 Screen 9

– If you ever had any doubt that Paras was faking – just look at his match with Squirtle. Not only are Water moves not very effective against Grass types, but it was a piddly Water Gun. Give the Electric type some credit – even static shocks hurt a little bit. In the case of Squirtle, his attack was so weak, there’s more pressure and water coming out of the water fountain in a middle school hallway. Either Paras is more fragile than an egg made out of a teenager’s feelings or he’s faking it.

– Ash: “I choose you, Charmeleon!” You….dumb….ass…mother…fucker.

This is why I chose not to praise him for looking up type disadvantages with Paras, ‘Hurr durr, if I can’t lose with a Pokemon who’s got type disadvantage, let’s go for my newly evolved soon-to-be dragon who has a quadruple type advantage! HURADURRDURR!’ Granted, Pidgeotto wouldn’t be any better (well, maybe, considering he at least listens to Ash) but why not give Bulbasaur a go before trying this stupidity? Or maybe letting Misty and Brock try? Outside of Vulpix and Zubat, all of their Pokemon have type disadvantages with Paras.

– Some people apparently believe that Charmeleon’s personality shift happens here due to Ash telling Charmeleon to go easy on Paras, making Charmeleon lose respect for Ash, but I call bunk.

First of all, he was misbehaving the instant he evolved. This is the first we see of Charmeleon straight out disobeying Ash, but blowing fire in his face isn’t something a well-behaved and trained Pokemon would do.

Second, this one incident is definitely not enough to warrant a year or so of misbehaving and assholery.

Third, the old lady later says that Ash simply doesn’t have the experience to handle Charmeleon, but that’s another thing I’m calling out. If we’re still bringing experience and levels into the equation, Ash has more than enough experience as a trainer to handle a Pokemon who is either level 16 or nudging level 36. Game-wise, even getting the Cascade badge (Up to level 30) should be enough to handle Charmeleon, and, if not, the Rainbow Badge (up to level 50) would definitely allow it. Just to make this scenario more realistic, let’s assume it’s the experience level of the trainer to get the badge and not the badge itself that allows for this.

Pokemon Ep 44 Screen 10

Charmeleon is acting as if evolving gave him amnesia. He either doesn’t remember or doesn’t care about his past with Ash anymore and that pisses me off to no end. Evolution should not be an excuse to change Charmander’s personality this much.

If winning over the misbehaving Charizard was end-game, they should’ve had Charmander be a difficult brat from the start, which would’ve been believable given his past with Damien. Maybe have him have a bad attitude, but still obey Ash, then when he evolved he started disobeying? They could have had a perfect foundation for this plot, but it’s like they were making it up as they went. This whole extended plotline just seems like it was built on poor writing and planning. The fact that we’ll have to deal with this misbehaving crap until late Orange League is ridiculous.

– Paras is still in the match after getting a full-blast Flamethrower to the face. He was faking before.

– Ash: “I was so happy when Charmander evolved, but now I’m not so sure I was ready for it.”

I give him props for owning up to his shortcomings and inexperience, but I immediately take them away in hindsight because Ash will never learn from this. He will just continue to use Charmeleon and Charizard and expect that each time he does so he will behave and listen even when he does jack to train him.

– There are many reasons to call foul on Paras evolving, but there’s another reason I just realized. Charmander evolves into Charmeleon at level 16. Paras evolves into Parasect at level 24. No way do I believe Paras’ level at the start was even in the double digits, so I’m left to believe all these fake battles gave it ridiculous amounts of experience, surpassing nearly 40 episodes of legitimate experience with Charmander. That’s a load of crap.

– Meowth: “I can’t do that unless you lend me Arbok and Weezing.”

James: “What do you need those two for?”

Meowth: “Because losing battles is their specialty.”

Jessie: “He’s got a point.”

James: “They’re bigger losers than the guy who invented homework. How did we get stuck with such rejects?”

Pokemon Ep 44 Screen 16

First of all, nice line about homework, 4Kids. You’re really connecting with the youth.

Second, damn, you two are being really mean today. Arbok and Weezing are two Pokemon that I would actually understand not obeying orders. They live in poverty, probably starve all the time considering the main three can barely keep themselves fed, (Come to think of it, outside of Island of the Giant Pokemon, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Arbok or Weezing eat.) and have to listen to their trainers constantly call them worthless.

– Paras is not only a drama queen wimp and soon to be egotistical jackhole, but it’s also an idiot. How can it really be falling for these fake battles when it’s literally just standing there covering its eyes?

Meowth’s not being subtle in the fact that he’s the one knocking Arbok and Weezing out. The only reason he’s getting away with it, even a little, is because Paras keeps covering its eyes. But even that shouldn’t work entirely because Meowth practically shouts what he’s doing as he does it.

– Meowth pretends to be knocked out by Paras. Why couldn’t they have commanded Arbok and Weezing to fake it too? They just hurt their Pokemon for no reason.

– Ash: “It’s Paras!”

Misty: “How’d it get up in that tree?”

Gee, I dunno, Misty. I’ll have to contact an etymologist about this, but I have certainly never heard of a bug climbing a tree.

Pokemon Ep 44 Screen 12

– Ash: “Remember, Pikachu, go easy on it!”

Better yell that right as the battle begins with Paras five feet away so Paras will never hear you say that and catch onto what you’re doing.

– Paras is a douche for stabbing Pikachu’s tail when it had its back turned. Not cool.

– Ash: “Charmeleon! One more time!”

You.

Dumb.

Ass.

Mother.

Fucker.

Take this in, ladies and gentlemen, because this is but the first of many, many, many times this complete braindead imbecile will just up and expect Charmeleon/izard to obey him when fuck all has changed between now and the last time he tried.

Can we get a flashback, by the way?

Ash: “I was so happy when Charmander evolved, but now I’m not so sure I was ready for it.”

Boy howdy, I sure am ready after, hm let’s clock it….five minutes and ten seconds of doing absolutely nothing.

This occasion is ten times as stupid as it is normally because Charmeleon was the one who made Paras run off in the first place, AND there’s still that glaring x4 weakness thing he’s not paying attention to.

What was so wrong with re-selecting Squirtle or letting Bulbasaur have a try or giving Misty and Brock a try? Logic in this episode does not exist.

– Ash: “Hey, what’s the matter? Charmander was always totally obedient.”

Pokemon Ep 44 Screen 14

…..Do…you have amnesia? Is amnesia contagious? If telling Charmeleon to let Paras win before did have anything to do with it misbehaving at all, doing it again is just going to make it worse. Even if it didn’t, he still has amnesia for obvious reasons.

– Misty: “Charmeleon won’t obey Ash.”

You sure are a quick study, Misty.

– *Paras one-hit KO’s Charmeleon by poking it in the stomach*

Hmmmm *dials phone*….Yeah, hi, is this every manure company in the world?….Ah, yes, I’d like to order all the bullshit…..What’s that? This episode gained sentience and already ordered it all? Okay.

– Charmeleon immediately gets up and smacks Team Rocket away with its tail. Either it was faking, which is unlikely, or this episode is forgetting that being knocked out takes a lot out of you.

– Why are Ash and Brock so impressed by the Spore attack? How many times have they seen a Pokemon be instantly paralyzed or fall asleep due to one spray of a powder or spore attack? In fact, you almost never see them needing more than one spray. Either the move is avoided, blown away or it hits, and if it does the effect is immediate and strong. I have yet to see a ‘weak’ powder or spore attack. I’ve seen one instance of a ‘more powerful’ Sleep Powder in the Soul Badge episode, but that was in regards to its…force? And ability to blast through a Gust attack.

– Misty: “Looks like you need to evolve into a better trainer, Ash.”

Ash: “Next time, I’ll be fine.”

Pokemon Ep 44 Screen 15
Wipe that smirk off your face and go train your Pokemon, you ninny.

I have no qualms about not giving him those props for owning up to his shortcomings because he doesn’t even go the rest of the episode before basically saying ‘Yeah, I don’t need to train anything. He’ll obey me next time.’

Also, minor note, but Misty’s entire role this whole episode has been to either fight with Ash or insult him. Seriously, nearly every line directed at him has been super bitchy. I didn’t bring it up because, being honest, I feel he deserves it today, but wow.

– Ash: “Well, losing on purpose is the toughest thing we’ve ever done.” He says, again, five feet away from Parasect. Though, being a mushroom zombie, he probably doesn’t care.

– I should really keep a tally of instances where people who should be questioning a talking Meowth aren’t.

– Meowth: “I guess it’s only natural to make me your company mascot–”

Cassandra: “NEVER! I’D NEVER TEAR YOU AWAY FROM TEAM ROCKET!” Why does she seem so pissed at this comment? She is practically screaming this line.

– If Cassandra’s shop needs a company mascot, why would it not be the obvious choice of Parasect? And why is she so willing to adopt this Persian as the mascot? Paras just…’went through all that trouble’ to evolve for Cassandra and she’s going to be using its spores for her miracle potion. Persian have nothing to do with medicine yet she’s instantly into this Persian.

——————————-

The Problem with Paras? More like The Problem with Everything in this Episode!

Pbbtbbtttthahahahaha….ha….that was funnier when I thought of it before writing this.

While March of the Exeggcutor Squad may be infuriating and filled to the brim with terrible, at least it has a few good or funny moments. This is the first episode I remember watching where I can barely think of even one slightly positive thing to say about it.

The faces that Jessie and James make, as well as their tones of voice, at the start of the scene where Meowth is trying to convince them to help him are a little humorous. It’s a teensy bit funny when Squirtle and Pikachu do their pathetic attacks.

The end.

Everything else is just awful.

Ash is being a major league hall of fame idiot. Misty’s being a bitch. Misty and Brock were basically talking backgrounds. Charmeleon officially starts his assholery here. Paras is boring. This Paras is terrible in regards to every facet of its personality. Parasect is creepy and tragic. Cassandra’s nice, I guess, but has a hair trigger temper. The grandma, despite rightfully blasting Ash a couple times, seems out of place and unnecessary in this episode. The plot and story are nonsensical garbage. The experience and levels and everything related to it are nonsensical here and continue to muddle the concept in the anime universe. Meowth’s crush is creepy. Team Rocket’s being assholes. Even the animation was notably much worse than it normally is.

Paras and Parasect may be far from impressive Pokemon, but I think they deserved more than an episode that makes them look like ultra weak chickens who are only useful for the mushroom that inevitably takes over their brains and turns them into zombies.

Next episode…..Jigglypuff’s debut. I don’t have much against the episode, that I recall, but this begins the start of an annoying unfunny running gag that, not lying, is STILL going on to this day. Yup, they brought him back for several episodes of Sun and Moon. Just…wow.

Hell Girl Episode 7: Cracked Mask Review

Hell girl ep 7

Plot: Midori Kurenai is an aging actress looking to pass the torch to her soon-to-be adoptive daughter, Ayaka. Everyone’s very excited about her upcoming role in the hit production ‘Lady Detective’, sure to skyrocket her career and give Kurenai a fond retirement to the acting world. Kurenai is a harsh teacher, however. So harsh that Ayaka feels the need to contact Hell Correspondence.

Breakdown: This was a fantastic episode. Sometimes, since these stories are frequently straightforward enough, the previews for the next episode leave you with no real twists to look forward to, but the preview for this episode didn’t spoil anything. It lead you to believe that the client was Ayaka, and, being fair, it is, but it’s not that simple.

The story goes that Ayaka was an orphan a couple of years ago, and Kurenai acknowledged her talents in acting and decided to adopt her to make her a successor. People were impressed with Ayaka’s abilities, but Kurenai was noted as being particularly strict on her protege. Not to the point of abuse, but still very harsh.

Ayaka, fed up with her soon-to-be adoptive mother’s behavior, calls on Hell Correspondence early in the episode to get her sent to hell. However, she doesn’t feel that she should go down that route quite yet since the price is so high. Instead, she recruits a couple of her thuggish friends to pretend to attack Kurenai so Ayaka can pretend to save her, hopefully gaining her the respect and praise that she believes she deserves.

Throughout the episode, Ren, Hone Onna and Ai are watching Ayaka since they believe something odd is going on with this client. Ai even gets into investigative mode and asks about the situation to some people at the production company. (While wearing a hat that has the curse mark on it. I thought that was cool.)

I really thought this episode might answer a question I had that was inspired by some similar episodes – do Ai and the others have the ability to deny a contract? It’s shown that they can ignore requests if they believe someone is dogging the system, but once the doll is given, do they have the ability to deny that person their entrance into the covenant when the string is pulled? It just seems a tad pointless to me for them to investigate cases such as this if they have no power to refuse ‘service’ so to speak, once the doll has been given.

Another short scene raised a different question. This doll is not invisible to others. It can also be stolen by others. If it’s stolen and the thief pulls the string, does the thief get sent to hell or does the client? Does no one since the contract did not involve this third party? If the doll goes missing or gets destroyed, what then? It’s alive, being one of Ai’s companions, so logic would dictate that it could just find its way back, but I still wonder.

Most of these stories do involve individuals who have been wronged by evil people, but the further along we get into the episode, it’s clear that Ayaka’s the heartless bitch and Kurenai’s just a very strict professional who wants Ayaka to be the brightest star in Hollywood. Thus we’re lead to believe that somewhere down the line a relatively innocent person will get sent to hell and a horrible person will get what she wants because of Hell Girl.

It also raises the question of, what happens if a client is already damned to hell? Certainly a good chunk of the people who try to use Hell Correspondence are assholes who just want someone in their way dead. You can’t find much value in getting that soul for hell if it had a one-way ticket to begin with. Redemption for even the worst people is possible, I suppose, but still.

When it comes down to it, the question about denying a person entrance into the contract once a doll has been given is not answered, but the conflict is resolved in a creative way that gives the rightful person her just desserts. Who does it and why is something I won’t spoil.

The hell torture this time around was horrifying and definitely some of the creepiest imagery we’ve had to date. It was a very creative and satisfying sendoff for her.

One more note about this episode, it has a lot of swearing. I was surprised, to be honest. I don’t think I’ve heard more than one usage of a swear as bad as ‘shit’ during any episode so far, but this episode has a steady stream of f-bombs and shit slinging. Most of it comes from Ayaka and her goons, but it still surprised me quite a bit that they were so flippant with the swearing here.

Rating: 9/10

Shounen Step-By-Step – Yu Yu Hakusho Episode 2

SSBS YYH EP2

Plot: Yusuke’s quest to return to life is now underway and Botan ferries him to the spirit world to get him started. While the spirit world seems vast and intimidating, Yusuke finds that the inside of the massive castle is a giant bureaucracy of ogres. Botan claims he’s going to meet King Yama to discuss his ordeal, but instead he meets the infantile-looking Koenma, son of King Yama.

Koenma explains to Yusuke that his ordeal is a test of his character. He presents Yusuke with a golden spirit egg and tells him that it will eventually hatch into a spirit beast after it has slowly consumed enough of Yusuke’s spirit energy. If he is truly of poor character, the beast that emerges will be a horrific creature that will eat Yusuke’s soul, causing him to be lost forever. If he is truly a good person, the beast will reflect this and will protect him and guide him back to his body.

Yusuke accepts the task, but there’s a hitch. While Koenma has put a pulse back in Yusuke’s body, the funeral and cremation are soon. If Yusuke’s body is destroyed before his ordeal is over, he will never be able to return to life.

He has to find some way to communicate with his loved ones in order to stop the cremation, so Botan tells him that he can communicate with people in their dreams since people are more strongly connected to the spirit world when they’re sleeping.

Yusuke’s mother has been staying awake in a drunken stupor doing nothing but ranting to Yusuke’s body, so he decides to visit Keiko. While she fully believes he’s there and he conveys his message well enough, Keiko can’t bring herself to tell Yusuke’s mom about the dream due to her own odd dreams about him.

Botan offers another option – possession. He can take control of another person’s body for one hour and tell Keiko outright about what’s happening, but the hitch is that it needs to be someone he knew in life and someone who is particularly attuned to the spirit world. Yusuke claims he has no options, but Botan reveals that Kuwabara actually has a strange connection to the supernatural.

He agrees to the possession, but finds his time is quickly dwindling as he keeps bumping into people who have a bone to pick with Kuwabara.

He manages to find Keiko just before time runs out, and she instantly believes he is who he says he is. He manages to relay his message and embrace Keiko before leaving Kuwabara’s body. Keiko runs to Yusuke’s house and finds Atsuko in awe as she finds his body is regaining its color and warmth. With Keiko and Atsuko ensuring Yusuke’s body’s safety and the little spirit egg glowing in his hand, Yusuke has to wait to find out his true fate.

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Another good episode, this one establishes a bunch of important things such as the spirit world, Koenma, Yusuke’s revival trials and Kuwabara’s spiritual powers. It’s also a touching episode for Yusuke and Keiko as you can really see how much they both care for each other. Keiko’s line about knowing Yusuke because she knows how he moves and speaks so well is especially beautiful.

I don’t have much else to say about it except maybe one note. I remember watching this series so many times on both regular Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. The Cartoon Network/Toonami version had a bunch of obvious censorship, but I always thought that the Adult Swim version was uncut for the most part. In both versions, I only remember Yusuke walking up to Keiko saying ‘Nice uniform!’ while the shot held on Keiko’s expression. However, the scene goes on to show Kuwabarsuke grabbing Keiko’s boobs and saying ‘they’re so squishy!’ If I’m remembering incorrectly, please tell me. Otherwise, Adult Swim thought adults couldn’t handle watching a girl get her boobs touched. Yes, handle all that violence, gore and swearing, but we’ll shield your eyes from five seconds of clothed groping. Unless you’re groping a butt, in which case it’s okay. Right, Miroku?

Hell Girl Episode 6: Early Afternoon Window Review

Hell Girl Ep 6

Plot: Haruka’s mother has been getting harassed by her husband’s boss’s wife, Mrs. Todoka. As the abuse gets worse and worse, Haruka’s mother tries to commit suicide. Her father doesn’t believe her mother about any abuse and constantly tells her to get along with Mrs. Todoka in order to please his boss. At the end of her rope and worried about losing her mother, Haruka calls on Hell Girl.

Breakdown: Another one of the more intriguing stories in Hell Girl, this victim definitely deserves her fate. She is a completely evil irredeemable bitch from head to toe. Her daughter is an irredeemable bitch from head to toe – like she and her friends are literally just mini-versions of their mothers, who are also bitches.

It’s interesting to get this revenge story from a different perspective. While we have had cases involving someone avenging another who has died, this is the first time we’ve had a case where the abuse is not directed at the client. Some of the abuse is, but what Haruka gets is small potatoes compared to what her mother goes through.

Mrs. Todoka basically makes a hobby out of harassing Haruka’s mother to ensure that she won’t talk about something she did. While some of the harassment is just verbal mudslinging and mocking, she implies that she’s being followed, sics her daughter and her friends on Haruka, possibly poisoned some of her food and later seemingly has her sexually assaulted (possibly raped) so that she can take pictures of her in the act and blackmail her with them. She even goes so far as the imply that if she talks, she’ll have Haruka sexually assaulted too.

Haruka’s father is a complete asshole. It’s a bit understandable that he’d be unsympathetic during the more minor stages of abuse, but when she’s badly beaten and nearly died, all he focuses on is the fact that a strange man was knocking on the door and making a ruckus, causing rumors around town, and getting increasingly irritated that she’s not getting along with his boss’s wife. He even demeans her further and smacks her around when she’s still recovering from the assault.

There are several people who deserve the red string tug in this episode, if you ask me.

The reason Mrs. Todoka is doing this is because Haruka’s mother spotted her in a window having an affair. Even though she gave no indication that she was ever going to say a thing (and, ironically, I don’t think she ever would’ve thought about it had Mrs. Todoka not started harassing her.) she started abusing her day in and day out.

Of course, this means you feel even worse for the client this time around. It’s very noble and brave of her to sacrifice her own afterlife for the sake of her mother’s safety and happiness, but you can’t help but feel bad, especially considering her dad is still an asshole.

This episode was also interesting in that, for some reason, Ai seemed expressive in it. She noticeably changes her usually stony expression twice in this episode – once when she was talking with Haruka and another when Mrs. Todoka called her a brat. In fact, she almost looked pissed when the brat comment was made. Ai is not an emotionless person by default. She does have feelings, she just has to keep them locked up. Why this particular case made her crack her mask a couple of times raises some questions.

Rating: 8/10