Devilman Volume 1 (Manga) Review

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Rating: 8/10

Plot: Akira Fudou is rather cowardly yet kindhearted person who suddenly gets dragged away by his best friend, Ryo Asuka, who claims his father recently committed suicide and he wants to talk with Akira about his inheritance. He explains that demons used to rule the earth yet vanished long ago. Now they’re steadily coming back, and Akira and Ryo are the only ones who have any hope of saving the world from their reign. In particular, Akira is needed to merge with a demon due his kind nature and will to fight the demons hopefully allowing him to overcome the influence of the devil within him to become Devilman!

Breakdown: Well I certainly am glad I went back to read this series, because it explains a hell of a lot that I was missing in the first volume of Amon. I also got to understand the weight of a particular line from the first volume of Amon. In Amon, people keep calling him Akira and there’s a big buildup to him saying that his name is Amon, showing that Akira is either dead or sleeping within him and now the demon has full control. In Devilman, the devils around him keep trying to call out to Amon, but Akira proclaims that he is not Amon and that he is a being made of Akira and a demon, making him Devilman. I thought was pretty cool.

This first volume does have a pretty big problem, though, and that’s that most of it is a gigantic exposition dump. It was just page after page after page after page of Ryo telling us what happened prior to him picking up Akira. It’s a pretty good story, but it kinda drags due to the fact that a character is merely telling us about it instead of allowing us to see it as it went on. Even when the devils first start attacking it didn’t seem horribly exciting.

It’s not until the Black Sabbath scene where things really get crazy, intense and just awesome. It is an insane scene that makes up for all of the waiting though the previous chapters.

A problem I had in going through the first chapter of Amon was that I really didn’t know much about Akira throughout the entire thing. I knew his backstory, that he was in love with Miki and he was a nice guy with good friends, but that was about it.

Now that I’ve gotten to know Akira more as a character, I feel like he’s very believable but also slightly confusing. Akira is a pretty big wuss and he seems like a pacifist to the point where he won’t try to fight thugs who are trying to sexually assault Miki. She’s the one who has to tell them off and Asuka is the one who has to make them leave. Even when the demons start attacking, he has no real courage to fight them.

However, he is very noble in that he willingly accepts this deal with Ryo to merge with devils both to help save the world and to prevent Ryo from suffering alone.

It’s not until he finally has merged with Amon before he starts kicking some ass, but it’s a good buildup and pretty believable given his personality.

Ryo as a character is also pretty confusing. I’m not even really sure why someone like him is friends with someone like Akira. Ryo seems like a very intelligent and tough person, but he also has his moments where he seems like a stoic punk and even a few where he seems like a complete psychopath. It’s hard to get a real read on him.

Dosuroku is sadly nothing but an asshole thug here, and I don’t know how long it takes him to become a good guy.

Another character we finally learn of is Miki who (spoiler alert) is seen dead at the very beginning of Amon, leaving us with no clue as to her character. (End spoiler) Here, she seems to be a fairly nice girl who can stick up for herself when needed. However, she didn’t have much screentime (or…pagetime?) so she’s also a bit up in the air.

The art, done by author Go Nagai of Mazinger and Cutie Honey fame, is somewhat mixed. The scenes that are meant to be detailed look fantastic, but the miscellaneous scenes with them talking and the regular character models look weird sometimes. I actually laughed when Ryo first appears because his facial expression and manner of dress made me think he was either a drug dealer, ungodly bored or somehow future-channeling Johnny Bravo. And the various scenes of him tearing up look terrible. It looks like his eyes are melting.

All in all, I really liked this volume and I definitely look forward to more.

Recommended Audience: For 1972, this is some pretty graphic stuff. Hell, even for today. There are numerous instances of nudity, though the genitals are always never drawn or hidden in shadowed groins. There is also quite a bit of gore and blood, alcohol and drug use and implied threats of sexual assault. There are no sex scenes, however, and also very minimal swearing. 15+

Next Volume….

Happy (Late) 2 Year Bloggiversary to Me!

Apparently, not checking your WordPress updates over two days is bad because my 2 year Bloggiversary was two days ago!

 

And so, by the powers vested in me by this keyboard, I hereby claim that this is my bloggiversary. So there!

 

I’m so glad that I have still kept up fairly regularly with this place since I started it, and I have no intentions of stopping anytime soon. I even have plans for new series and stuff! So here’s to another year of anime, animation and blogging! Thanks for the views, all of your great comments and simply putting up with me for two years! 😛

 

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Episode One-Derland: Bt’X

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Plot: Uhhhhhh……well…..there’s a guy named Teppei who has a weird powerful gauntlet thing called the Messiah Fist….he has a brother named Kotaro who is a prodigy in robotics and is announcing his discovery in the concept of a human brain for robots. There’s a robot empire who kidnaps him for some reason, and Teppei tries to save him.

Breakdown: It really amazes me when I find a show that is equal parts ridiculous and cliché at the same time.

First and foremost, this episode absolutely fails at being an introduction to the series. I feel like I know really no more about this series coming out than I did going in.

Kotaro and Teppei are close brothers. Kotaro’s a genius and well respected professor and Teppei’s a loud brute. Because of his announcement on the findings of this human brain for robots thing, a member of the robot empire, and yes that’s the name of the evil group in this series, named Aramis decides to kill everyone who listened to the speech and kidnap Kotaro when it would’ve been easier to just prevent the speech from happening but whatever.

There’s no reason ever given as to why Kotaro was kidnapped. He just discovered what the robot empire already has in the namesake of the series, the B’t (pronounced ‘beat’) robots, robots with brains that don’t follow human command and have free thought and run on human blood.

Teppei, using the power of his seemingly-does-everything gauntlet called, fittingly enough, the Messiah Fist, beats down robots and tracks down Kotaro only to fight with a cyborg named Metal Face and again, yes, that’s his real name. Want a better one? He rides a dragon robot thing named….wait for it…

Madonna.

Yes, Metal Face and Madonna. These names were greenlit.

We get no explanation as to what the Messiah Fist is outside of something that can punch through metal. No idea where it came from even though it seems to be well known by Metal Face. No idea of how many things it can really do. It’s just a power, okay?

Teppei and Metal Face seem to have a past, but don’t worry we won’t bore you by giving out actually plot development here. We’ll just have them repeat over and over that they know each other.

Teppei is about to get killed by Madonna (I knew this would happen some day) but the blood from his wounds resurrects the legendary B’tX, a big dragon pegasus robot thing that supposedly was destroyed five years ago. And then the episode just ends.

Even for the early 90’s this is a really cliché story so far. One superhuman-esque guy is fighting a bunch of evil robots to save someone precious to him? They don’t add anything really special to make it stand out. The Messiah Fist is the only thing that even tries to make a name for itself and even that’s not horribly memorable. It’s just shoots wires, has a tracker and allows him to punch through metal, though I imagine it does all sorts of ungodly convenient things later on.

The B’t robots are kinda an interesting idea, but it feels like this is something that would be introduced way later in a series because we never really see why it’s such a big deal for robots to have human brains. If these robots already have their own empire and freely kill humans without anyone’s direction but their own, then don’t they do things of their own volition anyway?

These robots also don’t even look good. It’s hard to tell what they’re trying to be most of the time, and the two I saw were just animal-like robots made of nothing but white metal.

The characters were okay, but nothing really made them special either. Teppei is a very typical male lead – brutish, loud, dresses like a punk including torn jean vest and red bandanna but really has a heart of gold. Kotaro is seemingly perfect. He’s been a genius his whole life, he’s handsome, he has a great relationship with his brother, he’s very kind, and he speaks like a philosopher as a child. All the baddies are super evil assholes.

In the art and animation department, being an admitted lover of the old styles of the 80’s and 90’s…..eugh. The eyes are too big for their design and they’re never lined up correctly or spaced properly. When closed, the eyelashes look like giant caterpillars on their faces. The overall designs are uninspired, lacking detail and forgettable. And the animation doesn’t fare any better. It’s not downright terrible, but it is very rough.

Finally, the music is just okay. Nothing stood out to me there, either, which I supposed rounds out this premiere episode.

Final Verdict:

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I have no real urge to continue this at all, and this is coming from someone who adores silly dated action shows. It just seems to have no identity and no spark. I guarantee most people who seek this out are really only wondering what the name is about, and trust me the explanation is nothing special. It doesn’t even really make sense.

B’t just stands for the four B’s that describe the B’t robots – brains, blood, bravery and battler. They have human-like brains, they power up and run when exposed to human blood…..uh, they’re brave and they fight stuff. Of course, that really only explains what the B part is. No real explanation as to why the T is there nor why the B and T have to be separated by an apostrophe. The X is merely the name of the legendary B’t robot that was thought to be dead yet was revived by Teppei. There, now I’ve ruined your curiosity.

Blood: The Last Vampire Review

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Rating: 8/10

Plot: Set around Halloween in 1966, just before the Vietnam war, a mysterious girl named Saya is tasked by a military force to kill off the chiropterans, terrifying monsters that feed on human blood. However, Saya’s connection to the chiropterans runs so deep that it’s in her blood…

Breakdown: Ah, one of the most well-known anime titles in existence – Blood the Last Vampire. What’s there really to say? It’s a very enjoyable, albeit short, movie about a kickass teenage girl killing monsters. The movie does a great job building a creepy atmosphere, even if it does lean into some cliches like shutting the door behind the hero and cutting the power….and killing the black guy.

Saya’s pretty abrasive, but, then again, she doesn’t seem like she’s meant to be all that sympathetic. She’s a dark cold silent type who only focuses on her mission, though the ending indicates something more to her.

It’s a shame that we don’t really explore this story much further. I guess we really don’t need to as it works perfectly fine as a one-shot, but exploring more of Saya’s story as well as the origins and story of the chiropterans would’ve been nice.

The voice acting for the English dub was on and off. Some of the acting was pretty good, but there are quite a few spots that are just blech. However, I will give tons of points for actually switching back and forth between Japanese with subtitles and English where appropriate (because some of the movie takes place in Japan, the bulk in America and Saya is Japanese) The VA’s for Saya and the nurse were bilingual to help that even further, so kudos, guys. Top notch.

On the topic of dialogue, however, the animation makes it even more apparent that the lip movements hardly ever match the dialogue. Mostly for the instances of English but also some spots in Japanese.

Finally, the art is……Okay, I know what they were going for with the art – something realistic with detail that also has a stylistic approach that creates an uneasy feeling, but this really only works during the horror segments for me. It is by no means ugly, but some shots just looked really bad to me, like when the nurse talks with that cop and we get that closeup of his face, it was just gaaaahhh. However, during the horror/action segments, it works really well and looks great.

The background designs were incredible and very well detailed. The animation was extremely fluid, as expected of Production IG. Though, again, some shots seemed off, like the scene with the band at the dance where they focus on the saxophone.

The music was really fitting and added well to the atmosphere.

All in all, this is a really enjoyable horror movie. And yes, there is the topic of Blood + and Blood -C as continuations, but technically Blood + is AU, meaning it doesn’t really have a foothold in being explored here and I haven’t even seen Blood -C, though I haven’t heard good things about it.

Additional Information and Notes: Blood: The Last Vampire was written by Kenji Kamiyama, writer and director of the Ghost in the Shell movies and Eden of the East, directed by Hiroyuki Kitakubo, director of Golden Boy, and produced by Production IG. It is currently licensed in English by Manga Entertainment.

Runtime: 45 minutes

Year: 2000

Recommended Audience: No nudity or sex, but some swearing and obviously a bunch of blood and violence. I’ve seen worse though and it’s nothing too gruesome. 13 +

Dissecting the Disquels: Tarzan 2

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Rating: 3/10

Plot: Taking place in the middle of the original Tarzan (Mid song, actually, since this supposedly takes place during “Son of Man”), Tarzan’s on a mission to find out what he really is. While he’s doing so, he runs into the mysterious frightening creature, the Zugor.

Breakdown: I liked Tarzan. It’s no masterpiece, but it certainly holds its own. It has likable characters, some touching moments, great music, nice visuals and a decent villain.

Tarzan 2…..is boring as hell.

First of all, let me tell you that this movie has no place being called Tarzan 2 since it’s a midquel not a sequel.

Second, I have no idea where this movie is supposed to take place. I wanted to say that it takes place during the montage where Tarzan’s coming into his own and growing up like in TLK 1 ½, and that seems to be the general consensus, but it can’t. In fact, this movie can’t possibly take place and fit in any part in the original movie that I can see. But let’s get to that later.

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This movie starts off by showing Tarzan getting chased by Terk who’s pretending to be some infamous monster called the Zugor. While he’s playing, he causes all sorts of chaos and nearly hurts some baby gorillas. This causes all of the adult apes to yell at him and tell their kids not to play with Tarzan anymore because he’s a menace.

Later, Tarzan sulks because he’s seen as a freak. He causes trouble and is slow compared to the other gorillas, making him an accident waiting to happen. Kala decides to take him to some huge tree that has tons of trunks and says that all of the trunks work together to support the tree just like all of the parts of their family work together, and this cheers Tarzan up.

Kala is easily the best thing in this movie. I loved her in the first movie and I love her here. She’s just such a perfect mother figure; just enough to be believable and real. It’s disheartening that she gets so little screen time.

The next day, the family is walking across a giant tree bridge when the tree starts to fall. Tarzan’s too slow to make it across in time and tries to hang on while Kala tries to reach him. However, she’s flung back by a branch and the tree falls. He manages to hang on to a vine and fling across to land, but Kala believes him to be dead. Damn, first her actual kid who never gets named now this.

Tarzan manages to find his way back but is horrified when he sees his mother lying on the ground telling Kerchak (who’s only in this film for about three minutes and gets all of two lines) that she would’ve given her life for his. Following that, he overhears a bunch of bitches saying that Kala’s probably better off without him. Wow! I know he survived, but what heartless whores. He’s barely cold and they’re saying she’s better off without him just because he’s an energetic and slow kid. Go to gorilla hell!

Tarzan decides to run away to avoid causing her mother any pain. He somehow enters Dark Mountain which is where the Zugor supposedly lives. He’s found by a large and dumb gorilla voiced by Brad Garret. He’s basically playing the same character as he plays on Everybody Loves Raymond right down to the fighting with his brother and the controlling mother.

He, his violent brother whose shtick is getting the hiccups and Marie (she might as well be that) live in the mountain because they’re too afraid of Zugor, a creature that is never seen by them, to leave. Well, I’d say they’re that stupid.

……Uhh, I honestly can’t fill in the gaps here but Tarzan runs away from something and runs into an old gorilla voiced by George Carlin. Yes, that George Carlin. The gorilla runs into his tree and refuses to let Tarzan in to hide.

The next day, he spots the gorilla scaring other animals by yelling ZUGOR into hollow trees and caves. He calls him out on it and makes him a deal; he’ll keep his Zugor secret if he lets him stay with him and help him figure out what he is if he’s not an ape. Okay, I don’t get how everyone’s afraid of a voice. No one’s been attacked by him, he’s just yelling into hollow things and that scares everyone enough to run off in fear? Wimps.

Terk, who’s not voiced by Rosie O’Donnell here, but who cares (the VA they got for her is pretty good at emulating her voice) and Tantor go off looking for Tarzan after Tantor hears Tarzan yelling through an echo.

Zugor tries to find out what Tarzan is by putting him with a bunch of different animals, but finds that he matches none of them. However, he discovers that he makes neat lassos with vines to do stuff like grabbing things and…grabbing things.

Tarzan makes him a hammock out of leaves and vines like Zugor’s mom used to as a gift. Aw.

Zugor states that he was never as fast or strong as the other gorillas for whatever reason and that’s why he ran off to be Zugor. Kindred spirits. Yay.

The baby gorillas from before tell Kala that Tarzan’s still alive so she goes to Dark Mountain to find him.

Terk gets captured by Brad Garret and he and his brother and mother basically force her to tell them where their home is.

Zugor says that if Tarzan can’t figure out what he is, he can be a Zugor and Tarzan’s happy about that.

Tarzan bumps into Terk and Tantor who explain that they’re being followed by Brad Garret and the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond so Tarzan runs off to hide them in Zugor’s house. Along the way, he basically yells out that he’s a Zugor now and he knows the actual Zugor and he’s not a monster.

Dammit Tarzan you had ONE JOB. Both Marie and Zugor overhear this and Marie’s pissed that she was stuck in an awful mountain for all of this time by an old gorilla (Again, all she heard was a voice, they could’ve easily left. In fact, it would’ve been more intelligent to leave either way. I doubt if anyone hears a bear roar or a wolf howl their first thought is ‘we should totally stay here the rest of our lives.’) and Zugor’s pissed that Tarzan’s a loud dumbass. Marie’s sons destroy Zugor’s home in revenge and go off to take over Tarzan’s family’s home.

Zugor turns him away for help to get away from the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond. Gee, I wonder where this is headed.

Kala runs into Brad Garret and his family. After Brad Garret grabs one of the babies, he’s threatened by Kala. In defense of her son, Marie knocks Kala and the babies off of the cliff. But luckily there’s an insanely convenient ledge directly below it to perch on.

Zugor returns to save Tarzan, because cliches.

He then tells him that he knows exactly what he is. He can swing on vines and make lassos and stuff that gorillas could easily do, I mean can’t do apparently, that’s what makes him unique so he’s….a TARZAN. Yeah…Okay.

So Tarzan takes this oldfound newfound knowledge to swing on vines and save Kala while simultaneously creating complicated traps and stuff to fight off Brad Garret and his brother. It’s like Home Alone if the traps were made in milliseconds.

Meanwhile Zugor fights Marie, for some reason shouts out that she has beautiful eyes and boom, romantic relationship established. Because we really wanted this psychotic bitch to get a happy ending, right?

Tarzan’s reunited with Kala and they go back home.

Zugor returns to say goodbye to Tarzan because he’s apparently going to go off somewhere with Marie and her sons because they need him and these guys out of the movie because he’s not in the original movie and that would create even more continuity errors.

Tarzan plays with Terk and Tantor and is now able to keep up, if not go faster because he can swing on vines and tree surf.

End on Tarzan’s yell which is child-ish.

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So, yeah, boring. I can’t even rage about this movie, it’s just boring. Oh and that stuff I was saying about this not fitting in anywhere in the original movie; it doesn’t.

If it happened before Kala gave Tarzan that great epiphany about himself then, well, he wouldn’t need an epiphany because he had that in this movie. Unless he’s like Shinji from Evangelion and has epiphanies just to forget them and get worse. If it happened during the growing up montage, then that negates what Kala told him and basically replaced it with an entirely new story that wasn’t mirrored in the original movie. It just doesn’t work.

And even if it did fit, we didn’t need to see this. This is nothing but a lame rehash of a plotline that already existed in the actual movie. TLK 1 ½ was also a retelling, but it was from a different perspective; Timon and Pumbaa’s (mostly Timon) and it gave us new insight and backstory, even if that still didn’t make much sense.

This movie simply didn’t need to be made. The story’s boring and rehashed from the original, the new characters are dumb and you know they don’t have a big bearing on his life because we see him as an adult in the original and they’re nowhere to be found. It’s just completely dull.

On a better note, Phil Collins reprises his role in the music section of this movie. However, other than ‘Who am I?’ The songs aren’t very memorable. They recycle ‘Son of Man’ (edited to make it sound awkward and piss you off.) and I mean recycled as in they didn’t even re-record it, they used the same copy from the first movie. And they give us some BG music style of ‘You’ll be in my Heart’ for one small scene. ‘Who am I’ was redone for the ending credits by some Disney pop girl everyone’s already forgotten.

Art-wise, this movie holds up well. The environments aren’t as dark as they originally were due to the lighter tone, but the art itself seems pretty damn close to the original. The animation is also good.

This movie does give some cute little pokes to the original movie. For instance, it basically shows how Tarzan learns how to Tree Surf (by sliding down a tunnel, because that’s the same thing, right? Also, Tree Surfing always bothered me. It looks like that would really hurt.) and Tarzan makes the same pose as he does when ‘Son of Man’ ends when he finishes fighting the brothers.

Bottomline: This movie isn’t as bad as many other Disney Sequels. At least it doesn’t piss me off much, but there’s absolutely no reason to watch it. It gives no new insights on the characters, explores nothing new and what story is there is boring as hell.

Recommended Audience: Seriously? Fetus+

Amon (Manga) Volume 1 Review

Rating: 7.5/10

Plot: In an effort to combat demons that have been plaguing the world, Akira Fudou melded his body with the legendary Devilman, Amon. However, when Akira’s love, Miki, gets killed in the wake of the carnage, he loses his consciousness to Amon, allowing him to go on a rampage in search of a battle with Satan.

Breakdown: First and foremost, Amon is a retelling/reimagining of the last chapters of the Devilman manga from 1972. I have yet to read said manga and that was probably a mistake. Then again, this series is meant to stand on its own.

Next, since this is meant to be a reimagining of a manga’s ending, obviously there are going to be a lot of questions mostly in regards to what happened to lead to where we are now. What we know from volume one is that Akira Fudou is a man who tried to help combat demons on earth by merging himself with a powerful demon named Amon. However, his love, Miki, ended up getting killed somehow by the demons, causing his consciousness to sleep within his body leaving Amon to run amok.

As the world basically turns into a giant pile of melted goo due to the various demons of the world merging together with everything in the world, especially the people, Amon plows through everything in his path to find Satan for a battle.

Meanwhile, Akira’s close friends, Dosuroku, Meriken-jo and Miko band together along with a bunch of monks to save Akira. While Miko and Meriken-jo basically do nothing but watch the whole time, Dosuroku takes action that becomes a major turning point of the manga.

Dosuroku holds a great love and respect for Akira, whom he refers to as his brother, and in an effort to save his life he bravely merges his body with several of the most powerful devilmen in existence. While he was still no match for Amon, his powerful feelings and determination were able to reach Akira’s spirit deep within Amon for a second before Amon ended up killing him.

Amon eventually does have his battle with Satan, though it is horribly one-sided, and he does lose in the end. However, Satan returns Akira back to his regular form with a kiss.

As Satan and the other devilmen prepare for an epic battle, Akira wanders around a wasteland seemingly set back to as he was probably a little before the first chapter as he mourns Miki’s death and turns back into Amon again.

Bottomline: I did really like this volume, though I do plan on going back and reading Devilman before continuing on. Despite doing a pretty good job of allowing us to connect with the characters and get a decent grasp on the story without going back to read Devilman, it’s still somewhat confusing without doing your homework. I don’t really care about Miki as we never saw her alive and never saw her interact with Akira. I also don’t care much for Akira as we never see him or hear him say anything until the very end of the volume. We just know he’s a great guy by what his friends say about him.

Miko and Meriken-jo are basically background figures as they really don’t do anything over the course of the volume, but Miko’s odd demonic body is something intriguing. I’d like to know the story behind that.

The standout here is Dosuroku as I really don’t need to read anything else to understand his friendship with Akira. He’s a very passionate, brave and selfless person with a great heart. He really just shines here, especially for a supposed thug character. He kinda reminds me of Kuwabara only he doesn’t have as many annoying stupid/tough guy moments.

The art is gorgeously and grotesquely detailed with some really cool and really ughghguuggh moments.

I look forward to more of this manga, but like I said I’m going to go back and read Devilman to ensure I get the most of it.

Recommended Audience: This manga has about everything but sex. Lots of gore, some of it just really creepy especially in the scenes with the melted demon wave, full frontal nudity by both genders (I think, on Miko’s part anyway) and swearing. 16+