Nine Puzzle (Manga) Review

Plot: Mika Sawamura is a very cheerful, nice and friendly teenage girl who is popular in school and liked by nearly everyone that she meets. Kaede Mirakami is almost her polar opposite. He doesn’t seem to have any friends, always wears a cold look on his face and never really talks to anyone.

One day, Mika sees Kaede playing billiards in a local shop, and more surprisingly she sees a big bright smile on his face as he plays. Curious, she enters the shop to see why this place seems to cause such a drastic change in Kaede and ends up giving the game a shot herself. She adores it and instantly becomes a regular at the shop, much to Kaede’s dismay. The two take each other on as competitors and eventually friends, but their love of billiards may end up causing them just as much trouble as it does enjoyment.

Breakdown: This manga is a bit of an oddity because I don’t think I’ve ever seen billiards be the main focus or even a slight bit of focus in a manga or anime before. They’ll sometimes include the game in more adult anime and manga, especially those with a more noir vibe, but it’s just not a common set piece in many features. To have it be spotlighted in a show starring 14-year-olds is also pretty unique.

This isn’t really much of a sport/gaming manga. While it does focus a good deal on billiards, they don’t explain much about the game nor are there the typical tropes of gaming/sports manga like tournaments, training, working through a particular problem you have in the game etc. There is a game against a bunch of assholes to show them up and make them leave the shop, but that’s really it.

It’s mostly just about enjoying the game, and I actually find that quite refreshing. Even if Mika sees Kaede as her rival, they’re very much friendly rivals. In fact, by the second volume, they’re pretty good friends. I would actually border into best friend territory a bit.

Mika isn’t that good at billiards, but she does have some specific talents suited for the game such as being able to shoot in very straight lines. Because of this, she’s definitely not Kaede’s equal competitor in the game or anything close to it. She sees him as a challenge in always getting better, much like Kaede sees Yoh, the store owner, as his challenge in always improving.

Mika and Kaede’s dynamic seriously reminded me a lot of Sana and Akito from Kodocha. Their characters do match very well. Sana is a very popular, likeable, optimistic girl who always tries to see good in everyone, like Mika, and Akito, like Kaede, is the rough cold loner who always gets into trouble, but has one thing that he loves and practices all the time (with Akito it’s karate). And over time the female lead slowly gets him to open up and they eventually become good friends and then love interests.

Another parallel is the fact that Kaede has a fairly rough home life. Not as bad as Akito’s, but still. He is mostly ignored at home since his parents focus all of their energies on working or his younger brother, who is much more skilled in academics than Kaede is. His little brother also doesn’t give a crap about him and frequently belittles him as well as anyone who befriends him.

While being an obviously shoujo-style manga focusing on a fairly close duo, they don’t really put any focus on any sort of romantic angle outside of little shots here and there until the very end. This is also something that I very much appreciated because I liked seeing their relationship develop as a friendship without feeling the need to rush into romance.

The story overall isn’t anything epic. It’s somewhat short at two volumes, and nothing really huge or dramatic happens. Dramatic events do happen here and there, but it never tries to border into soap opera territory.

There are plenty of comedic moments and fun cartoony panels to lighten even already light moods. The dramatic events that happen seem very real, barring maybe one instance involving an assault which I just found to be a little too much, and they add to the story very well, highlighting not only how important billiards is to Mika and Kaede but also how much the shop itself means to them.

Speaking of the shop, another character that should get some spotlight is the owner of the shop, a man named Youhei “Yoh” Ueda. Yoh is incredibly good at billiards and taught the very skilled Kaede everything that he knows. Kaede admires Yoh very much, and they have a really great brother-like relationship that jumps off the page. Yoh is a very nice guy who always welcomes Mika and Kaede into his store and helps them out with practice whenever he can.

The art fantastic. I love Mayu Sakai’s ability to draw clothing and hair. Her anatomy skills are also really great, but the faces bother me a bit. I know shoujo style really calls for even bigger eyes than usual, and I’m fine with that, my problem is the faces when drawn from even a slight angle. It looks like the chin just gets shoved towards the character’s throat while forming a weird triangle shape. The eye shapes at angles also don’t look right sometimes.

Bottom Line: This a great and quick read for anyone who appreciates a good friendship/kinda romance story, or for anyone who has a hobby that they really love. You definitely don’t have to be a billiards fan to get into this manga. There’s not a lot of technical jargon to wade through, and even the simplest aspects of the game are explained clearly.

BONUS: Nine Puzzle includes two side stories (Three technically, but the third is canon with the rest of the manga and basically falls under the main review); one called Platinium, another called Strawberry Tears. Both of which don’t include anything about Mika, Kaede, billiards or anything in the main manga.

The first story is about a girl named Kasuga who is a bit quirky and tends to make stuff like jewelry out of everyday objects. She befriends a boy named Miyanaga, a handsome guy and model student that many girls have a crush on. However, they don’t tend to approach him because he wears a ring on his hand that people believe is from his girlfriend. Kasuga starts to fall for Miyanaga, but is conflicted by the fact that he supposedly has a girlfriend. When she learns the true and tragic meaning behind the ring, it changes everything for the both of them, leaving them with an important decision to make.

I liked this story. I would’ve liked a little more on the story behind the ring. They mostly just gave the bare bones of the story to let us get the gist and then teetered off. However, it’s a nice story about healing and moving on from a tragic event and learning to live life fully again. Seems a bit abrupt at the end, but nothing too bad.

The second story is about a girl named Yuu who basically treats guys like toys. All she does is get boys to take her on dates, bats her eyelashes and acts all sweet to get them to buy her stuff that she wants. She’s a gold digger, basically. She’s so cold in her ‘relationships’ that the first time we see her, she’s scamming some poor guy out of 8000 yen, roughly $60, for a choker only to completely blow him off minutes later. She also finds dating itself to be purely for stuff or, in a guys’ perspective, to show off their pretty girlfriends.

She meets up with Houjou, the class representative, as he’s shopping in the same mall as her. He’s looking for a nice birthday present for a girl who is very precious to him, but not yet his girlfriend. He picks out hairclips with little strawberries on them, but Yuu scoffs at the gift saying it’s lame and childish.

Houjou, not knowing what girls like to get, starts crying at her criticism of his gift idea, and, in an effort to keep him from embarrassing her, she offers to find out what his crush would like better and shops with him for a gift.

Understanding Houjou’s genuine love for his crush opens up new windows for Yuu’s perspective on love and dating.

I’m not a huge fan of this story, to be honest. Yuu really comes off like a bitch in many parts, especially in the intro, and they really don’t put any shame on the fact that she’s playing with these poor boys. You could make the argument that it’s their own faults for falling for her feminine wiles and thinking with their human horn, but that doesn’t seem right to me. Is this a ‘don’t hate the player, hate the game’ kind of thing? Because that always seemed dumb to me too.

There are two instances where her actions are brought into a negative light. The first is when she claims Houjou’s crush isn’t as pretty as she expected, thus hairclips would’ve been fine as it’s a lame gift for a lame person. She continues on to say that she’s not really the type of girl that you could really show off in public. Houjou gets angered at this and says that he’s not trying to date her so he can show her off. His statement rattles Yuu’s views on his intentions, which clash with those of the guys she normally dates. Though, to be honest, we never really got a good lock on Yuu’s ‘typical guy’ view. Guys and girls alike think with their hormones a lot, yes, but we never see her in a situation where that’s the only thing on their minds. Even the guy in the beginning, despite falling for her cutesy flaunts, never had a moment where it seemed like he was just in it for the hot chickness.

The second is when she explains what she usually does with her dates, and Houjou says she’s worth more than that, making it seem like the situation is really just that she doesn’t have the self-esteem to get into a real emotional relationship and instead uses boys as playthings to get expensive stuff. I guess that’s fine, but really is no one just going to flat out tell this girl that it’s wrong to manipulate others for your own gain?

The ending is alright, though I would have preferred it to just have Yuu’s experience with Houjou teach her to pursue more meaningful relationships while Houjou ends up with his crush. But I suppose the real ending is just as realistic and a little sweet. It does definitely show character development for Yuu and Houjou, but the whole story doesn’t really sit right with me.

Additional Information and Notes: Nine Puzzle is written and drawn by Mayu Sakai. It was published by Ribon Magazine.

Volumes: 2

Chapters: 11

Year: 2002

Recommended Audience: Some mild violence, a little tragic story in the Nine Puzzle canon side story, but overall nothing that bad. 7+

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Episode One-Derland (Cartoon Edition) Angel’s Friends

Plot: Raf is an aspiring guardian angel working at the organization for both angels and guardian devils called VETO. Both angels and devils are assigned to a human during one of many moments in a human’s life when they have a choice between good and evil (Or, to be honest, good and slightly bad.) During this time, angels and devils take turns trying to lure the human to the side of good or evil without directly interfering with their lives or the specific turns of one or the other. Raf’s been assigned to a boy named Andrew with his guardian devil being the cunning Sulfus.

Breakdown: This is an Italian cartoon heavily inspired by magical girl anime. It stars a girl named Raf, though several other angels will come to join her later. Raf is a guardian angel in training who has recently started her work at VETO. Neither angels nor devils can be seen by humans unless they transform first, which is where the magical girl influence really comes into play because they love the transformation sequences. Angels and devils cannot influence a human at the same time. They must take turns. To determine who goes first, the angel and devil go through a competition in a room that can create any challenge that they come up with. Whoever is selected as second is left to wait to see if the first person fails in order to have their chance to swoop in and try their hand. They may not interfere in the situation while it is the first person’s turn.

This episode did a pretty good job of establishing our main character, the world they live in, how their jobs work, the antagonist, and even teased a big baddy. There’s also a looming omen, which is the star mark left on the hands of Raf and Sulfus when they touched hands during the challenge as angels and devils are not allowed to make contact.

Raf herself is a very likable character. She’s responsible, very optimistic, works hard and wants desperately to help the people she’s assigned to. However, it’s also shown that she’s a bit naïve, overly nice to a fault and has difficulty with the not-interfering part of her job.

Sulfus is very much a typical bully so far, though. He mostly just picks on Raf and tricks her while doing his job with a smug smile on his face. I have a feeling he’ll get more interesting as time goes on, but we’ll see.

Art and Animation: ….Ech. The art is passable but really rough. The line art just gets so sloppy sometimes. The colors are bright and eye-catching, though. The animation is horrid, however. It’s a very cheap Flash animation effect that looks like the animation for Sixteen only a lot sloppier. On that note, the lip-syncing is some of the worst I’ve ever seen. I don’t know exactly who dubbed this as the only information I found on the English version is that it’s owned by NBC, but the lips hardly ever matched the words in the least, and sometimes they were talking without the lips even moving!

Voice Acting: English – So far so good. I see a few 4Kids alum on here like Lisa Ortiz and Dan Green. Despite never ever ever matching the lips, the voices are pretty decent.

Music: As poppy and girly as you’d imagine. From all I’ve seen, people are not fans of the songs, and I don’t blame them. While I’ve heard a lot worse, the OP goes on for too long, and they’re just generic girly pop songs.

Bottom Line: I am a sucker for magical girl shows, I will admit. Plus this series has a really interesting and solid premise. It’s a bit kiddy, really seeming aimed at young children, but that’s okay. If they can keep the story interesting, then it’s worth sitting through the ech-tastic visuals. A nice surprise.


Recommended Audience: E for everyone!

UPDATE: 3/31/2023 – After a few more episodes, I decided to drop it. The show just wasn’t holding my attention as much as I thought it would. That being said, for a younger demographic, this would probably still be a pretty solid show to watch.

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Tokyo Mew Mew/Mew Mew Power Episode 3 (2 for the Original) Sub/Dub Comparison


Plot: Ichigo has been recruited to work in a café that is run by Shirogane and Akasaka and acts as their Mew Mew base. They tell her that she’ll need to find the other girls that were selected for the Mew project in order to help complete their mission. Along the way, Ichigo discovers a rich ballerina named Mint who turns out to be one of the Mews.


After Akasaka and Shirogane show Ichigo the café, Akasaka tells her that Aoyama was brought home safely from yesterday’s attack. She expresses happiness and gratitude at this. In the dub, Wesley explains that the café is her new place of employment, she awkwardly asks what that means, and Elliot says it’s not like she has a choice.

As she looks over the cafe, Ichigo says that it’s a beautiful store in a sincere tone. In the dub, she basically makes fun of the guys for making such a girly looking cafe.

A shot of the ceiling is cut out before we cut back to Shirogane and Akasaka talking in the dark.

In the original, Akasaka says that Professor Shirogane, Ryou’s father, would’ve been proud of Ryou’s progress in the Mew Project. Ryou responds that he wishes he could’ve lived to see it come to fruition. In the dub, they just say that the project’s underway. No mention of Elliot’s father or his death.

In the original, after Akasaka compliments Ichigo on how she looks, Ryou says that it’s just because the uniform was designed so well, and Ichigo yells at him. In the dub, Elliot basically does say that she looks cute, but Zoey gets mad at him anyway.

The name for the Chimera Animals in the dub is predasites (I assume the name means predatory parasites) – animals that have been taken over by aliens called infusors. In the original, the aliens that take them over aren’t named.

In the original, Ichigo freaks out because she’s going to slowly become more cat-like. In the dub, she freaks out because she can’t catch the school bus but they want her to save the world.

Text is removed from the various daydream magazines that appear as Wesley explains how adored she’ll be as a Mew.



Our first glimpse of a Mew mark in the dub, we see Zoey’s as Elliot explains the marks to her. Like I said before, they’re edited out quite often for no reason, but when they need to show them, they’re sometimes edited. Ichigo’s mark is on her upper thigh whereas Zoey’s is lower down around the knee. I guess this is to divert attention away from her crotch.



In the original, Akasaka coaxes Ichigo into working at the café on the promise that she can eat as many cakes and pastries as she wants. Since she loves cakes, she gushes at the idea but soon freaks out again because she’s trying to take all of this in.

In the dub, Wesley coaxes her into working there by calling her a superhero. Zoey gushes at the idea of being a superhero, saying that Mark will be so impressed, but quickly freaks out because she thinks that Mark will instead think that she’s a freak.

Wow, the voice of Deep Blue in the dub is ech. I know WHY he has that voice, but still.

Uh, Mint’s grandmother says to please excuse Miki and says that Miki ran out of the car to play. In the dub, Corina’s grandmother says that Micky (sounds more like Micky than Miki in the dub) jumped out of the window to ‘play with the street urchin.’ OUCH. What did she do to warrant that? Geez.

Also, in the original, there’s more subtlety to how Mint acts. In the original, she just scolds Miki for running off, politely apologizes to Ichigo, and offers her a handkerchief to wipe off her face after Miki licked it. When Ichigo comments on how soft it is, Mint says that it’s silk and adds “What? Don’t you know what silk is?” She then says that she can have it before they drive away.

In the dub, due to the line from her grandma, Corina repeats the insult and adds that she’ll have to give Micky a bath because he played with Zoey, telling Zoey that she can keep the handkerchief because she’s ‘sullied it’ with her face and, because of that, she can’t possibly touch it. This coupled with her incredibly snotty voice acting and tone, there’s no underlying act at all. You know from the instant she gets on the scene that she’s a snobby bitch.

Masha originally tells Ichigo that he must’ve made a mistake by saying there was an alien presence when it was just the dog. In the dub, Mini-mew just repeats what Zoey says about Corina being a jerk.

Some of the scene between Aoyama and Ichigo is cut out. Just a small scene where Ichigo makes conversation before she brings up the bruise. The way it’s edited in the dub, it makes it seem like Mark couldn’t help but notice Zoey staring intently at his bruise.

In the original, after Ichigo drops her bag, she comes to the realization that Aoyama must’ve gotten the bruise from yesterday’s attack, not kendo like he stated. Then she blushes and thinks to herself that she’s sorry for what happened to him and that she loves him very much.

In the dub, Mark is talking over this whole scene about Zoey acting weird and saying that she can always come to him with anything. She never blushes or thinks anything to herself and never comes to the realization that Mark was hurt in yesterday’s attack.

I don’t really think I have to mention that Mark’s tangent about having a substitute teacher that looks just like a lizard is made up by 4Kids, right? In fact, that’s really against Aoyama’s nature to not only make fun of someone but to talk about others behind their backs. In the original scene, he’s quiet as he picks up Ichigo’s stuff.

When Aoyama lifts his head up in response to Ichigo screaming, his hair and eyes are different colors than what they’re supposed to be. He’s supposed to have black hair with brown eyes, but in this shot he has brown hair and gray eyes. This is prevalent in both versions, but it’s such a closeup that lasts for so long that it seems odd that it never got fixed.

In the original, Ichigo distracts Aoyama by telling him that there’s an alien in another direction. In the dub, this is changed to a spider. To be fair, 4Kids’ explanation seems more believable.

Text on Shirogane’s magazine is edited away in the dub. Also…..Noodle Magazine? What?



In the original, Ichigo gets upset because she can’t find her companions and doesn’t want to fight alone. In the dub, she worries about what Mark would think about her cat tail and ears and asks what other stuff might happen to her.

A banner behind Mint at her recital is edited out.



In the original, Ichigo finally names Masha as she’s sitting on a bench thinking. She names him Masha after Aoyama as his first name is Masaya, and she gushes about how she’s happy just saying his name.

In the dub, since Zoey already named Mini-mew when they first met, this scene is changed to her thinking that she should put a posting on the internet to look for her companions that says “freak girl who turns in animals” or something. As Mini-mew repeats what she says she gushes over him, likely not being able to understand her at all and says he’s cute. To be fair, Mark could’ve actually worked as being inspiration for the name Masha (MA-sha. MA-rk) but 4Kids decided to throw creativity out the window.

There’s no mention of needing to go to bed to get up early for a recital or being tired from the performance for the less fortunate in the original. Mint just states that it’s rude to come into someone’s house and run about everywhere and tells Ichigo that it’s better for her to leave.

Mint originally tells Miki to stay away from ‘that vulgar girl’ when Ichigo apologizes. In the dub, Corina tells Zoey to not pet her dog because she doesn’t want to wash Micky for a second time that night. You do realize that she pet him a minute ago and you said nothing then.

In the original, Ichigo asks how Masha detects a Chimera Animal if there was no signs of it in the house. Masha says the mutation was incomplete and thus was too difficult to detect. In the dub, there’s no mention of this. Just “Danger, Danger” (Danger, Will Robinson. Danger) and “Predasite alert”

Can I just say that it is glaringly apparent that Corina’s VA cannot mask that she’s an adult in her screams? Not only are the screams awful, but it’s very obvious that the screams are being made by someone in her thirties, not 13.

In the original, the Mew motto doesn’t happen until after Ichigo has stood in front of Mint and told the alien to release Miki. In the dub, it’s right after she transforms…..I honestly don’t know if I can hear about 20 or so “Mew Mew style, mew mew–” I can’t even complete that. It’s physically hurting me.

Mew Mark Alert: We need to see Mint’s mew mark on her back in order to know that she’s a Mew Mew.

Transformation Breakdown: This time we’re tackling Mint’s. Here are the subsequent edits.

Mint in front of the DNA strands is gone.

Most of her dance is gone.

Her putting her power pendant to her back to grow wings is gone.

Her signature pose, as Ichigo’s, is also edited away. I still don’t know why that is. What’s wrong with the poses?

Also, they don’t have Corina say anything as she transforms. She’s originally says “Mew Mew Mint, Metamorphosis!” Dub wise, this would still be “Power pendant, Mewtamorphosis” but she says nothing.

Weapon Name Change: Mint Arrow is changed to Heart Arrow. Something else I don’t understand. Zoey’s weapon is still the Strawberry Bell despite her not having a name that means ‘strawberry’ anymore. Why couldn’t they have kept her weapon as Mint Arrow for her mint blue colors or something? Heart Arrow. Yeah, you go get ’em, Cupid.

Attack Name Change: Ribbon Mint Echo is changed to…..nothing. Really. They say nothing in the dub. I guess Heart arrow is also the name of her attack.

In the original, Mint thanks Ichigo for saving Miki, and Ichigo thinks that she’s a nice girl after all. In the dub, she says she’s sorry for how she acted before and says there’s no excuse for it. Zoey doesn’t have any inner monologue in this scene. As Zoey tries to shake hands at finally becoming friends, Corina says she was sorry for hesitating in battle and has no intentions of being friends. Originally, she did say that she has no intentions on being friends with someone as vulgar as her, but she doesn’t apologize for anything.

The menu is edited to make the menu items into squiggles. I’ll have one order of scribble with a side of unnecessary editing, please.



Next episode is Lettuce’s debut!

…Previous Episode

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Pokemon Episode 6 Analysis: Clefairy and the Moon Stone

Knowledge….Research….I’m Seymour the Scientist!

CotD: Seymour (The Scientist®) – Seymour’s one of the most memorable CotD’s to me. He was really animated, passionate and quirky, and I had a lot of fun watching him. He works at the Pewter City Museum and is really interested in learning about the Clefairy and Moon Stone at Mt. Moon.

Reappears?: No 😦

Captures: Brock’s Zubat

Plot: Ash, Brock and Misty arrive at the beautiful Mt. Moon only to find an eccentric man named Seymour (The Scientist ®) being attacked by Zubat. They save Seymour and wonder why the normally nocturnal Zubat are active in broad daylight.

Seymour shows the group that Mt. Moon has been covered in string lights, confusing the dark-loving Zubat, the local Paras and drying out the Sandshrew. They find out that Team Rocket is behind the whole thing, digging for the legendary Moon Stone to power up their Pokemon.

They manage to save a rare Clefairy that happens to have a Moon Stone from the clutches of Team Rocket, and the Pokemon is nice enough to lead Ash and the others to the larger Moon Stone and its Clefairy friends who pray to the stone as a deity.

Team Rocket appear again and steal the Moon Stone from the Clefairy, but Brock quickly stops them in their tracks with his Onix. After another battle, the Clefairy take out Team Rocket themselves with the mysterious deus ex machina, Metronome.

The resulting explosion from the attack not only makes Team Rocket blast off, but it also blows some of the Moon Stones to shards, making some of the Clefairy evolve into Clefable.

Later, Seymour states that he wishes to live with Clefairy in Mt. Moon to study them and hopefully discover if Pokemon really do originate from space. He bids farewell to the group, and they set off on their next destination.

Ash spots a sign showing that the nearest town is Cerulean City and marks it as their next destination. He’s fired up when he sees that Gary scribbled “Gary was here. Ash is a loser!” on the sign, which makes him run off in anger towards Cerulean City.


– Seymour: “And these hot lights are drying up these Sandshrew.” I get that it’s just that they’re really hot, but why phrase it like ‘drying up’? Makes it sound like they’re Spongebob and Patrick in that scene in the Gift Shop in the Spongebob movie…..

Also, they’re Ground Pokemon, particularly ones who thrive in sand. Is dryness really a problem for them?

– While I find the theory of Pokemon being aliens…interesting, does he really believe they came to earth….in a rock?

Okay, that’s two Spongebob references in a row. I need to chill out.

– Ash: (In regards to Team Rocket’s Motto) “Don’t you ever get tired of saying the same things over and over?” Oh, honey….no…..



– This is one of those storylines that could’ve been over in five minutes if the Pokemon world had decent law enforcement. Someone strung lights up at Mt. Moon and it’s damaging the ecosystem there? That’s illegal. Call the cops. It’s obvious this isn’t anything official from the getgo, so why not just take the lights down yourself?

– Should someone tell Team Rocket that the Moon Stone won’t make their Pokemon more powerful….at all? In fact, isn’t it the least used evolutionary stone in existence seeing as how there are so few Pokemon that can use it?

– I really like Zubat and all, and bravo to Brock for being so proactive in not only capturing a Pokemon but jumping right into battle too, but the fact that it was caught completely off screen never ceases to bug me. It’s not even like they have the excuse of ‘Oh they showed it, but the episode got banned’ like with Ash’s Tauros. They just threw a Zubat to Brock.

– Brock: “I caught one just before we entered the cave.”

Ash: “Aw, I shoulda caught one.” Yeah, you should’ve considering you were the one who weakened them all. Then again, you were probably distracted by Seymour’s awesomeness.

Speaking of Zubat, why would he use that when it is weakened from the previous attack and capture? He has a couple of other Pokemon on hand, why not use those?

– Ash: (While Brock is feeding his Zubat) “What’s that?”

Brock: “Pokemon food.”

…..Ash…..please tell me you’ve fed your Pokemon since you’ve caught them.

– I love how Seymour and Ash are both completely flippant about eating what is essentially pet food.

– This episode kinda confuses me. How do evolutionary stones really work? Clefairy has been carrying around a Moon Stone this entire episode and they worship a giant Moon Stone yet evolution is not instantaneous. Something similar pops up later during the Thunder Badge episode where Pikachu is not only near a Thunder Stone but also touches it with his tail yet doesn’t evolve. What exactly is the trigger for stone evolution in the anime?

– Ash: (Trying to translate what Pikachu’s saying) “These Clefairy collect all these rocks and……do the macarena!” Ah the macarena. That won’t ever get dated.

– Misty: “What rhymes with hair?”

Brock: “Hey, how about ‘prayer’?” Yes, everyone, there was a time when 4Kids would actually mention religion. T’was long long ago, back when we as children used to try to keep these things called ‘Gigapets’ alive. They were needy little bastards who never left you alone, but dammit you loved them.

– I gave you guys a pass when you had Misty say ‘Have a nice drip’ when she Water Gunned Meowth away, but having Meowth tell Seymour ‘Hope you had a nice trip.’ in the same episode after tripping Seymour just forces me to waggle my finger in disappointment. *waggle waggle*

– God, just look at how much Misty and Brock are doing. Battling right out the gate, catching Pokemon, proactively initiating plans. It really makes me feel bad that they so rarely get to do much of anything in future episodes.

– Wow, really? A Tackle attack by Koffing instantly KO’d Onix? That’s….highly unlikely.

– Misty: (Watching Clefairy wave their fingers back and forth to perform Metronome) “I’m getting dizzy.” Do people really get dizzy from watching something go back and forth?

– I do love the scene where the group of Clefairy perform Metronome, though. That’s a definite highlight in the cuteness factor for me.

– So wait, the Moon Stone had to explode into a million pieces before it would let the Clefairy evolve? I really don’t get this.

– In…let’s say a couple weeks or so, Ash has caught a glimpse of a Legendary Pokemon and seen two of ‘the rarest Pokemon in the world’ in Clefairy and Clefable. I guess it is completely plausible that he runs into one or two Legendaries per year.

– Seymour’s really going to live in Mt. Moon in hopes of seeing the Clefairy and Clefable return to the stars one day? You truly are an odd duck, Seymour. But you got a good heart, champ.

– Brock: (In regards to Ash) “He’ll never learn.”

All in all, I always really liked this episode and I still do. I really like Clefairy and the story of them worshiping a Moon Stone that fell to earth is kinda interesting. Seymour is also a great CotD. He’s just kooky enough to be funny without being annoying and he has a true love of Pokemon. Team Rocket’s scheme was okay, and everyone got to do plenty of stuff.

The animation actually seems worse in this episode for some reason. The lipsyncing also has several really rough spots in the first half. Nothing too major.

Next episode, we make it to Cerulean City and Ash gets a surprise when he finds that Misty is the Cerulean City Gym Leader. Can he beat her Water Pokemon and obtain a Cascade Badge?

Previous Episode…

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Dissecting the Disquels: Hunchback of Notre Dame 2

Plot: Quasimodo gets a girlfriend, and the villain is after one of the bells in the bell tower. That’s about it.

Breakdown: I’m going to guess how the meeting went for the pitch of this movie.

– Hey, do you guys remember how the original Hunchback movie was all dark and impacting; full of religious connotations, murder, mentions of hell, and our first direct plotline involving such a mature theme as lust?

= Yeah, it was an awesome movie! How can we top that in the sequel?

– By having the movie be about Quasimodo falling in love and getting a girlfriend with no mature themes whatsoever beyond theft!

= …..That, uh……I guess that can work if we do it right.

– Wait, wait, I’m not done! Remember how we had AMAZING songs in the original movie that were epic, deep and impacting?

= Yes! They were some of the best songs in Disney history! We’ll need to get a great orches–

– I was thinking we could have songs….that SUCK! 😀

=…….That….sounds awful.

– Oh and remember the gorgeous scenery and wide open feeling of the city?


– Hardly any scenery, what is there isn’t great and small town feeling.

= ……..

– Oh and the villain is very important!

= Of course! Frollo was one of the most complex, dark, influential and controversial Disney villains ever made! How can we top that?!

– Laughably non-threatening villain that is quite literally in love with himself and has no motivation beyond stealing a valuable bell that would be nearly impossible to sell on the black market.

= Who hired you?

– Oh oh! And we’ll have awful dialogue, a terrible new lead girl and art and animation that pales in comparison to the original so much that it makes viewers cry!

= That is one of the worst ideas ever.

– Too bad, I’ve already written the script. Bye! Oh and Quasimodo’s new best friend is Esmeralda and Phoebus’s five year old son. His name is Zephyr! And he’s annoying as sin! See you in the pile of money we’ll make!


Seriously, that is basically all that you need to know about this movie, but let’s delve slightly deeper shall we?

The new lead girl, Madeline, is a klutz. She works for a traveling circus because she’s paying off a debt to the main villain for stealing food from him when she was a starving six year old. Was she stealing gold plated caviar? Just run away! Not like he’d seriously pursue you. She’s much like practically any girl in a romantic comedy. She has the depth of a piece of paper and her only trait is being a klutz with bad self esteem.

She finds her way into the tower because the villain demanded she go in there to case the bell tower so that they could steal the precious bell that is plain on the outside but beautiful ON THE INSIDE…..Get it?….Get it?…..Like Quasimodo!…Get it? Hm? Hm? Hm?

He immediately falls in love with her after a shocking five lines of dialogue (Taking the relationship slow by Disney standards), but she initially finds his appearance so disturbing that she runs out of the bell tower and then claims he’s too ugly to confront again to the villain Sarousch. Until, however, Quasi and Zephyr sing a song about being best friends forever (not kidding) and that suddenly wins her heart.

Sarousch is the new villain, and how they ever thought that he could even breathe the same air that Frollo did is beyond me. He is a joke. Plain and simple. Frollo was fueled by lust, hatred and self-righteousness. Sarousch is fueled by laughable egotism, vanity and a desire to steal a bell for no reason beyond ‘it’s valuable’.

Yes. It is. But it’s also incredibly recognizable and would be impossible to sell on the black market without being caught. I know it looks like a crappy bell on the outside, but if someone was trying to sell it, they’d want to display the inside. That’s the hook of the whole thing.

He’s even willing to kill Quasi for the bell, because why not make yourself even more of a target for investigation?

The songs are awful. Not being up to par with the original is one thing. It’s hard as hell to match the fantastic quality of the original movie’s songs. But these are horrible even for direct-to-video sequels. Being direct-to-video is no excuse. There’s no excuse for this level of garbage. That best friend song is so terrible and corny I was just dumbstruck all the way through it, and our love song is actually called ‘Fa-la-la-la Falling in Love’ or ‘Quasimodo’s Falling in Love’ take your pick.

One last thing to note; this festival is really stupid. Now, don’t get me wrong, festivals of love are great, but the main attraction is each couple going up on an altar and literally screaming I LOVE (ENTER NAME OF ROMANTIC PARTNER!) while the other person does the same thing. Not only does this seem stupid, but it has to be 100x more irritating to be single on this day. Valentine’s Day is bad enough. You have to listen to that BS all day.

The dialogue is horrible. The acting is flat and lazy, though I’m not sure if I blame the director or the cast on that.

The art is fairly low quality, and the animation is saddening.

This movie also clocks in at an hour and three minutes, including credits. That is appalling. I thought an hour and ten minutes was bad.

You wanna know a sad fact? This movie supposedly took five years to release. Five….friggin’….years….I have no idea why it took so long especially when the production values are so poor. I don’t even think the original movie took that long to be released, and there was all sorts of complications with releasing that movie.

Bottom Line: I can’t recommend this to anyone except maybe easily entertained very small children who haven’t seen the first movie. It’s probably the most obvious cash-grab of the Disquels, at least so far, and it’s borderline insulting to fans of the first movie. Unless the aspect of Quasi not getting a girlfriend in the first movie particularly upset you and you really are desperate to see him finally get a love life, this is definitely not for anyone who is a fan of the first movie.

Recommended Audience: Really nothing questionable here. Esmeralda’s not a dancer anymore so not even the slightest tinge of sexual vibes. Frollo’s gone, so any controversial theme with him is gone. No one dies. E for everyone….

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