Episode One-derland Mizuiro Jidai

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Plot: Yuuko has just entered middle school, and she’s quickly noticing how everything around her is changing. Her childhood friend, Hiroshi, is more mature and responsible, and she sees him a new light. Takako, her best friend, is also changing as she finds out that Takako has a crush on Hiroshi.

While Yuuko is extremely supportive of Takako’s feelings and wants the two to be together, she can’t deny that this new light she’s viewing Hiroshi in is making her feel odd about the whole situation. When Takako convinces Yuuko to ask Hiroshi if there’s anyone he likes before she decides to confess to him, she overhears Hiroshi confess to Yuuko that he likes her.

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This is a great first episode to a pretty decent looking slice of life/romance show. While Hiroshi is a little too perfect, he’s not Aoyama from Tokyo Mew Mew levels of perfect. He’s a very nice kid who also tends to be a bit rough, but really a lot better than most boys his age.

Yuuko is also a very sweet girl who wants nothing more than to keep Takako out of trouble with the upperclassmen and help her with her crush on Hiroshi, despite her confusing feelings. She can be a bit scatterbrained, but also not nearly as bad as most shoujo protagonists.

I think I liked Takako most of all. While she is rough around the edges and a bit temperamental, she is still Yuuko’s best friend no matter what. While she doesn’t initially tell Yuuko about her feelings, she has no problem talking to her about them once her secret’s out. Yuuko even graciously, if not somewhat creepily, decides to share information on Hiroshi’s activities when he’s at home since she lives right next door.

Takako’s not afraid to stand up for herself, and she’ll do whatever it takes to solve her own problems on her own. I really like that.

As for the story, as someone who’s been in this situation in middle school, oh god I know dem feelz. They portray practically everything in a very realistic light, even down to the bitchy upperclassmen who keep getting on Takako’s case for skipping out on band practice. The girls want to be like their upperclassmen and are developing romantic feelings, Hiroshi wants to play sports and be more responsible while also developing romantic feelings – it’s real life. Well, shoujo real life, but real life.

The art style is very dated and not that detailed, but it’s pretty decent. I especially liked Takako’s designs. Her hair and eyes are just perfect for her character. They made her look tough without making her look like a jerk.

Final Verdict:

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I will eventually make a shoujo step by step on this series as I really have high hopes for it. The series seems like a nice little slice of life/friendship/romance anime that would be a good watch.

Super Grand Prix Review

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Rating: 1.5/10

Plot: Sean Corrigan is a rookie race car driver who wants nothing more than to become an F1 driver. He makes a promise to himself that if he didn’t win his first official race, he’d quit racing for good. As luck would have it, despite Sean getting first place for a good stretch of his first race and nearly winning the whole thing, he drives over an oil slick because he starts daydreaming only a handful of yards away from the finish line. After his crash, he quits racing for good. Suddenly, a “MYSTERIOUS” masked man gives him an offer to race with his racing team.

Breakdown: I tend to have a positive attitude when an older title cross my path. You never know what forgotten gem I might come across. However, I do have difficulty approaching them sometimes. I usually give leeway for cheesiness or poor animation quality because of the age, but it really comes down to whether an anime stands the test of time in terms of story and characters. Is this movie as good now as it was when it was released back in 2003?……2003?! What?! Nononono. That can’t be right. To the Internet!

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….Ohhhhh this movie is actually a cobbled together movie made from clips of an old 1977 anime series called Arrow Emblem: Hawk of the Grand Prix….that is 44 episodes long…..44 episodes worth of material in one movie? Yikes. Either that show was horribly butchered, had little to no plot to begin with or they pulled off a miracle. Also, why did they decide to wait 30 years to release that show in the States under a completely different name as a 90 minute long movie?

I can’t find any footage that I can understand of the original series, so, sadly, I’ll never know. Not that it matters much anyway since this is supposed to be a stand-alone movie. And, chances are, no one who bothers to pick up this movie has watched the series.

So does this movie stand up well? The short answer is ‘hell no.’ I hope the original series was better than this piece of garbage because this is….a piece of garbage.

Lets go over some key points before we break it down, shall we?

The art and animation is incredibly dated and just not that good. Cheap animation is something I can deal with in old titles, but age is never really an excuse for poor art.

The voice acting is atrocious. I’ve heard plenty worse, believe me, but this is awful. One character sounds like Mr. Howell (Aces) a maid sounds like a typical Japanese stereotype (IE, saying “early” like “urry”) one of the characters sounds like Elvis (Shades) and everyone acts very poorly.

This is fairly typical of old anime titles since there wasn’t much to English dubbed anime back in the day, but that’s not a great excuse, and keep in mind that just the title is turning 40 years old, not the dub. The dub is merely 13 years old, there’s no excuse for this. Not like they have much to work with anyway since the dialogue is also pretty clunky and filled with exposition.

Now let’s get onto the story.

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We start of with our narrator giving an explanation of the thrills of racing while introducing us to our main character, Sean Corrigan (Takaya in the original). He explains how Sean’s dad went missing when he was a kid and now he’s built his own car to work towards his dream of becoming an F1 racer.

Sean walks through the pit, talking smack to some other racer named Aces who is a pretty well known racer in this circuit.

The race starts and both Sean and Aces are neck and neck until Sean passes him in the final stretch. Thinking he’s got a locked win, Sean starts daydreaming about the checkered flag and winning, causing him to overlook the puddle of oil on the track….Why is that there? That’s a huge safety hazard. Is it there on purpose as a hazard or is the track crew really lazy and irresponsible?

Sean crashes and he’s removed from his car before it bursts into flames. Aces wins the race.

Cut to Sean at the hospital where he’s moping and says he’ll quit racing. He made a pact with himself that if he didn’t win his first official race, he’d quit altogether. Dude, it’s nice to set bars and challenge yourself, but that’s just stupid. Be the best or don’t do it at all? Come on.

A masked man comes in offering him a deal with his racing team, but Sean refuses saying he quit racing. The man then asks if he ever heard of Niki Lauda, an extremely well-known racer who got into an awful crash and burned a large portion of his body but lived to race again.

For those thinking that the name sounds familiar, yes, he is based on an actual driver named Niki Lauda – and his story is actually the same as what’s presented here. He was an Austrian F1 champion who got into a terrible crash that resulted in him becoming severely burned and leaving him permanently disfigured. Yet he lived to race another day. Six weeks after the crash, to be exact. For those who have already connected the dots in this scenario with the masked man, that’s where the similarities end because the rest of the story is fiction.

Anyway, he tells Sean that Niki never gave up and neither should he. Sean’s still stubborn, but changes his mind yet doesn’t change his mind? You’ll get it in a minute. Also, could that Niki Lauda thing be a little more obvious? Gee mysterious masked man, you sure know a lot about that guy who got burned all over his body. Hey Schwartz Bruder from G Gundam, do you know who he really is? And if not, ask the Masked Fighter from Yu Yu Hakusho.

We arrive at the house Sean will be staying at, despite the fact that he keeps saying he quit. He even goes so far as to mock racing and cars by saying they’re just toys. See what I meant about him accepting yet not?

We meet a girl named Millie who is a mechanic and navigator. We also meet a small boy named Joji who looks no older than eight and has no business being there. He’s supposedly really good with cars, but he’s way too young to be working as a mechanic for a professional racing team. Also, he never does anything in the entire movie. He’s always with Sean and Millie in the car during races but he doesn’t seem to have a purpose.

Aces and his navigator, Tsumiko, who is the daughter of the owner of the team or some car company, we know because they tell us that twice in clunky expositiony dialogue, are also part of the team. While I initially saw Aces as your typical douchebag rival character, he actually seems fairly nice throughout the whole movie. In fact, if anything, Sean looks like the douche. Really think about it – Sean was the douche the first time they met too because he was the one who started egging on Aces to begin with. Aces is being perfectly civil here while Sean’s being a brat.

Sean stumbles upon a new car that they came out with and decides to sit in it and day dream some more. The next morning, Millie and Joji find him and they show the car to the others on the team including someone with shades named Shades. This movie, so imaginative.

Shades convinces him to take the car out for a spin. He does and he freaks out by thinking about his crash so he crashes into a tree. (Sean, Sean, Sean of the racetrack – WATCH OUT FOR THAT TREE!) The masked man and the other officials from the team freak out, and he’s told that he’ll definitely have to pay for his mistake by…..driving in a simulator? Wha? I hope they edited out him fixing the car or paying for the repairs because that’s a dumb punishment.

On the simulator, Sean does pretty well, but when faced with a sudden and sharp turn, he crashes into the wall.

The masked man then asks him why he didn’t do a spin turn, but Sean has no clue what that is. The masked man then shows him on the simulator. To perform a spin turn, you take a really sharp turn by applying the hand brake and suddenly twisting the car in an entirely different direction and disengaging the brake when you’ve reached the proper angle.

After that, Sean, Millie and Joji are seen at the rally race. A rally race is basically a race taking place on a long course over various terrain. The main goal is to have the best times at various checkpoints instead of going head to head against other racers for the majority of the race, though you can also win that way.

Shades decides to cheat by tricking Sean and the others. He has a fake checkpoint with a fake official waiting for them. They stop at the fake checkpoint and the fake official tells Sean that there were last minute changes to the rules that said they were including a scavenger hunt in the race. Their first task is to solve a riddle of fish and fire or something.

Being complete dumbasses, especially Millie, they fall for it without question. I say ‘especially Millie’ because she’s the damn navigator. She’s supposed to be the one who knows where all of the checkpoints are and everything about the track, yet she doesn’t find an unmarked checkpoint with a sudden rule change for a completely stupid scavenger hunt side quest that would likely never be in a professional race odd?

What I find even stupider about this is that it doesn’t help Shades much at all because, despite the fact that he’s distracting Sean and the others for some inexplicable reason, they’re even on the same team, he still has to stick around and act like he’s partaking in it too to make it seem realistic. He does leave while the others are busy, but he still wastes a lot of time.

After Sean and the others have caught, thoroughly cooked and eaten their fish, they discover that Shades is gone and there are no other racers in sight. Thus they must’ve been tricked!

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Sean and the others get back in their car to plow through a storm, and Sean does a spin turn even though we never saw him practice it or anything.

The next stop is where all the racers are halted due to a mudslide caused by the storm. Debris is blocking the road, so they believe the race must be done since they can’t pass on such a narrow mountainside. Sean decides to screw that noise and drives on the nearly vertical mountainside to get by……What is this, Speed Racer? Lupin the Third: Castle of Cagliostro? That doesn’t happen! Maybe, just maybe the incline was shallow enough to not topple the car, but there’s still no way he’d ever get up there.

The other racers follow suit, so I guess they all have this ridiculous level of skill and luck, but it’s basically just a race between Aces and Sean….wait, where’s Shades? It seems even more pointless to have that distraction prank if Shades inexplicably vanished immediately after.

They get to a sandy location, and it seems like Sean will win until he suddenly speeds up to ensure that Aces doesn’t catch up. He goes over a sandy mound too quickly and crashes. He tries in vain to get unstuck from the sand, but can’t get the traction necessary to move. Aces quickly gains on them, passes them and wins the race.

Oh and for those keeping score at home, that’s four times Sean has technically crashed in the past fifty minutes.

Since he made another mistake, Sean quits again, but is quickly back to being excited about racing again when the owner suggests that, since he’s so off-kilter since he lost his first car (the one he built on his own), that maybe he should build another car.

Well, we don’t know if he blew as a racer before the crash since that was the first race we saw him in and supposedly his first official race ever so, sure whatever. Also, I should really point out that had he not fallen for that dumb checkpoint, he probably would’ve won by a mile or 20. It wasn’t because of that one crash into the sand and bad traction. He wasted at least like a half hour doing that crap.

At this point, I really don’t understand why we’re supposed to be rooting for him. He sucks as a driver for one, except when he gets anime-protagonist prodigy powers like pulling off that spin turn or driving on a wall, he’s a cocky asshat and when he’s not a cocky asshat he’s Sally Sadface. Not to mention the fact that he’s an idiot and this will only get worse as the movie goes on.

He builds himself an ugly piece of shit that I guess we’re supposed to be impressed with.

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First off all, if he’s a rally racer, why build a car with no top? Rally racers go through all sorts of weather including rain and snow – why build a car with the least protection against the elements for rally racing? Second of all, brown? Really? Brown? I know I’m calling it a piece of shit, but that’s a term of speech, Sean. You don’t have to make it look like a literal piece of shit.

To test out the new car’s traction, he puts a ton of sand on the test track and pours a bunch of water on it without asking anyone or warning possible other test racers.

That could kill someone. How nice.

He tries to take the turn on the muddy sand, but can’t get enough grip and gets stuck.

Aces comes up in his own car and crashes. I guess this scene is just to showcase stupid Sean some more because it’s not played up for laughs and Aces doesn’t get hurt so….yeah.

Sean gets depressed again and acts like everyone’s overreacting to what he did…..Well, why is everyone so upset anyway? It’s just sandy mud…..on a race track….where people do 100+ mph….oh and that nasty possible FIERY DEATH thing to worry about. But no, you just test your ugly jalopy and nearly kill Aces. Go right ahead.

Millie and Joji try to cheer him up by asking if he wants to go to a steak dinner and he instantly gets excited again. I’m starting to wonder if Sean has emotional issues. He flipflops so severely between emotions that he should seek counseling or something.

Despite my ragging on this character, some of his mistakes are perfectly understandable, like daydreaming while you’re about to win your first race. Granted, some things were just stupid like falling for that scavenger hunt trick or putting muddy sand on the race track, but come on, stop giving me personality whiplash. Either that or go see a therapist.

He drives and they nearly crash, but Sean keeps the car in control as they follow a truck with double-wide wheels and he gets an epiphany about his traction problem.

As with most underdog prodigy stories, Sean has a moment of “genius” and “imagination” when dealing with problem he’s having. After seeing a tractor trailer with double-wide wheels, he gets the idea to use the same setup with his car to get better traction. Now, while this seems to make sense from first glance, this was something I had to look up for myself to make sure.

To sum up what I researched, and feel free to correct me, the most important things when it comes to traction are weight, softness/stickiness of the tire material, treads and tire temperature. Wider tires do seem to make turning slightly easier, but they won’t help your traction very much while going forward. While Sean did show a traction problem while trying to do a spin turn on the mud, he also got stuck while trying to go forward in the sand. That’s what spurred his problem to begin with.

He also acts like a wider tire is the end all solution to his traction problem without even considering the other aspects I mentioned before despite the fact that a throwaway scene later has some old man telling a kid that putting weight on the back tires increases traction. It should also be noted that Dune Buggies, vehicles meant for soft terrain like snow and sand, usually have fairly narrow tires.

He modifies his car and tells the higher ups at the racing team to watch him demonstrate how well his modified car handles on snowy terrain while he drives up on a mountainside.

He shows that his modifications work, but the activity causes an avalanche. Despite his best efforts to escape the wave of snow, Sean crashes again and gets buried in the snow. As he collapses, he goes drama-queen mode again. I guess even the dubbers were getting sick of mopey Sean because we quickly cut to the team owners announcing who of their team members will be racing in the next rally race in the Alps. Aces is one, some guy who never gets focus yet seems nice enough named Hans is another, and they say that, due to Sean’s imagination and ingenuity with the tires, he’ll be racing as well and Sean becomes happy again.

The rally race in the Alps begins and everything goes rather well for first bit until we get to snowy terrain. While trying to avoid a driver in the road, Sean crashes yet again into a snowbanking but they’re all fine and continue driving.

That’s now six times that he has crashed…

We get up to a higher point of the mountain at night where we see a big ol’ death montage. They don’t outright say it, but numerous people had to have died. Cars fall off of cliffs on the side of the Alps during an awful snowstorm with no way for emergency personnel or helicopters to get to them. Some of them fall so far that you can’t even see them anymore, and others have the car visibly crushed while falling. Other drivers seem to have a better chance of survival with mere collisions, but several cars burst into flames and there still seems to be no medical staff up there. Yikes.

The race is fairly uneventful….There’s no head to head match ups, and the one time we see Hans do anything it’s just to get passed by Sean.

Then.

There’s.

The.

Ending.

The ending….is complete bull. We cut straight from Sean about to win with him daydreaming about winning again, and then we transition to him leaving the racing team with his navigator offering him his share of the prize money! What the hell?! At least show him actually winning! For god’s sake, that’s one of the main points of racing shows!

I thought he would crash again like he did the last time he daydreamed while driving, but I guess that would’ve been too funny. The entire race was uneventful and boring. The rally race in the middle was way more exciting than this tripe.

Also, the rivalry between Sean and Aces is completely unresolved. The last time we see Aces before the ending, he’s at a checkpoint and is raring to take on Sean down the road to prove which one of them is better but we never see him again.

The thing with the masked man is also never revealed. Anyone can deduce by his obvious story that he was the legendary driver who got burned, Niki Lauda, and the Wiki says it, but we’re never told or shown that and Sean never figures it out.

You may be wondering why Sean was leaving. The only explanation they gave was that he felt guilty for being a douche when he first got there. Uh…huh…Just apologize! You can even invite everyone out for dinner or something. Why leave because of that?

Oh but let’s flip the switch to have him change his mind a minute and a half later after talking with Millie. He tells the masked man that he’s going to shoot for being an F1 racer. Masked man throws Sean the keys to I guess an F1 car that he just happened to have on him in case Sean made that statement and we end right there.

What utter bull. Before the last twenty minutes, I was really just going to chalk this up to being a lame racing anime to watch when you’re bored and nostalgic, but this ending is appalling.

The only other note is the music which is mostly generic except one part during the avalanche where it sounds like Castlevania music for no reason.

Bottomline: It’s a stupid, awful quality movie with a cliché story, non-rivals, insanely stupid moments and a basically unlikable main character and even the racing’s not very exciting.

If you can track down the original series, maybe give that a try. It has to be better than this movie at least. I found the series in Spanish on Youtube, if you can understand Spanish. I’m not good enough with Spanish, so I can’t say.

Additional Information and Notes: The original series and this movie were animated by Toei Animation. Since this movie is amalgamation of the original series, the direction and write staff don’t apply here, but since I can’t find that info for this movie, the original series was written by Masaki Tsuji, Keisuke Fujikawa and Shozo Uehara. The first half was directed by Rintaro, a widely renowned anime director, so that may spell better hope for the original series, and the second half was directed by Nobutaka Nishizawa. The movie was a product of Liberty Entertainment.

Runtime: 90 Minutes

Year: 2003 (Original series – 1977)

Recommended Audience: Nothing really offensive, though a bunch of people do die in the last race without being shown or explained as having died. 5+

Dissecting the Disquels: Bambi 2

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Rating: 7/10

Plot: What exactly happened in the time after Bambi’s mother’s death yet before he became a buck? Bambi’s father, The Great Prince of the Forest, has difficulties in raising a child on his own and searches for a doe to take over parenting him. However, while bonding with his son, he struggles with the concept of giving him up.

Breakdown: I know this is going to be a surprise….but I really like this movie. I mean, it’s no masterpiece, but it’s a thoroughly enjoyable movie to me. This movie is a midquel set after Bambi’s mom dies but before he grows up any. It chronicles the time Bambi spent with his father. Now, see, this is actually something that the original movie never delved much into and is a pretty interesting concept.

Not….much happens in the movie. I actually started making a scene by scene review of this movie like I have for practically every other Disney sequel, but I saw little point because I didn’t really have much to say about the scenes at hand. It’s a pretty tame flick, though I have to say that it’s one of the few Disney sequels that actually delves into death both with Bambi’s mom and a couple of the dogs that chase Bambi at the end of the movie. I mean, they don’t outright say that they’re dead, but they fall off of a cliffside and are no longer a threat so yeah.

It actually does have pretty good emotional impact too. Though Bambi gets over his mom’s death fairly quickly, you can definitely feel grief in him and his father and you can feel the emotional attachment between The Great Prince and Bambi. They really seem like a believable father and son.

The story has good pacing, great atmosphere and nice dialogue.

However, it’s not without some flaws.

The story, while good, is predictable no matter if it’s a midquel or not. We all know he’s going to change his mind about giving Bambi away to a new doe, we all know he’s going to grow attached to him and we know Bambi will learn and grow from his father.

If you’re going to do a death fake out, like every emotional family film, do it when the dogs are actually attacking him, not when he’s just standing on the cliff after he’s already defeated them. That’d be so lame if he died from that. “Oh hey, my small fawn of a son just defeated several dogs that were chasing h—and he died from standing on an unstable rock. Lovely.”

Ronno, the mean deer from the first movie, also makes an appearance here. If it wasn’t glaringly obvious by seeing him for two seconds on screen, he’s our movie’s antagonist. And holy freakin’ crap they overdid the hell out of his personality.

There are no likable factors about him, but he’s also a cliché bully. He’s mean, violent, rude even to his mom, mocking about matters of death and child abandonment, a liar and a complete coward. Yeah, he’s the typical bully that talks big game and likes to fight, but when he actually gets hurt or senses danger he runs to his mother like a baby. That is practically every scene he’s in. Acts like a big shot, insults or mocks Bambi, something comedic happens to him like he gets hit by a branch or slips and falls, the end. I mean, I know he’s a big asshole in the first movie too, but wow.

He’s mostly meant to serve as a measuring stick to show Bambi’s progress in growing up. At the beginning of the film, he has little confidence and not much skill as a deer, meaning Ronno can easily best him in nearly every area. Near the end, he matches and beats Ronno in several areas. However, Ronno doesn’t get any real comeuppance in this movie. He doesn’t get beaten by Bambi in a fight and his final scene is of him slipping on a rock and falling into the stream. Then again, I guess considering that he beats him in the sequel, we don’t really need to see that.

Faline, the doe who eventually becomes Bambi’s mate also makes an appearance here and she’s incredibly likable. Her relationship with Bambi is very cute and she’s a very nice young doe.

Thumper and Flower are as cute and funny as ever as well.

If there’s one character I feel bad for, though, it’s Mina. She was supposedly Bambi’s mother’s close friend and she was the doe chosen to be Bambi’s new mother, but after The Great Prince decides to take care of Bambi himself, she just smiles and walks away. Poor Mina….Also, she wasn’t very fleshed out as a character. Maybe that’s a good thing though to avoid getting too attached to a small part character.

The art and animation are actually very well done. Hell, this movie could’ve been released in theaters instead of straight to DVD. It’s so different considering the average quality of most Disney sequels.

The music is…..good-ish. It’s not winning any awards with me, but there are some memorable songs that are pretty good. Better than some of the other songs in Disney Sequels.

The acting and the voices were both very well done. Everyone seemed very fitting in their roles and they all did a great job. Patrick Stewart voices The Great Prince and he’s awesome at it, so you can wet your pants now. Also, according to the Wiki, he’s apparently been asked to do several Disney roles before deciding on the Great Prince such as Jafar, King Triton, Zazu of all things, and Zeus. Though the Great Prince does fit him best out of all of these, it is weird that when he finally decided on a role for his awesome voice to grace and it’s in a direct to DVD Disney sequel.

Bottomline: I’d rank this number two behind TLK 2 as my favorite Disney sequels….though that might not be saying much considering the competition. It’s not a must see, but it’s still an enjoyable feel-good movie for Disney fans.

Recommended Audience: Only things that might be questionable are slight mentions of death, ‘scary themes’ with the hunting dogs, two of them might’ve actually died, fake out death of the main character that is a huge FAKE out seeing as how we know he lives to be an adult. 5+

Why I ‘Quit’ Watching Sailor Moon Crystal

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Yesterday, I basically dropped watching Sailor Moon Crystal. I just completed watching episode five and realized that I simply wasn’t enjoying it. Now, I really enjoy the Sailor Moon manga and the 90’s anime, and by all means, considering that Crystal is meant to be a closer adaptation to the manga, I should enjoy Crystal just fine. However, as I watched, I quickly noticed that I just wasn’t getting into it at any point.

Before I continue, I don’t think it necessary to bring up the ridiculous art and animation troubles that this series has. While it is incredibly distracting and pause-the-video laughable at several points, that….is only partially connected to my main issues behind the show. If you’d like to laugh for a while, however, check out the screen caps and gifsets here http://crystalquality.tumblr.com/

No, the real reason I dropped Crystal was because I felt there was no point in continuing. They’re right, Crystal does follow the manga more closely than the 90’s anime ever did. At least in regards to the scenes and structure set in the manga. For instance, each episode of Crystal covers one chapter of the manga. They even have the exact same titles. However, the 90’s series still did something way better than Crystal; it kept the soul of the series.

Something jarringly odd about Crystal is in its lack of emotion. Usagi, once a very comedic slapstick character, has all but lost her goofy facial expressions and cartoony moments. The slapstick and jokes do remain, but they’re done in such a manner that it’s just not funny. In some of the scenes where Usagi’s being punished for being an airhead or a glutton, you actually feel bad for her instead of laugh because her goofy reactions are almost entirely erased and instead is replaced by only slightly over-the-top crying.

For an example, in the first episode, there’s a scene where Usagi gets booted to the hallway. In the manga, there is no dream sequence about the moon princess to remember and fantasize about, and Usagi is much more comedic and animated about everything. She’s more expressive and pouty about being sent to the hall, she chuckles as she’s about to eat her lunch and she has a much more expressive look of dread when she’s caught. In Crystal, every reaction barring being caught is completely deadpan. Despite the lines being basically the same, she says them with the same flat expression and no change of tone in her voice. When she’s caught, instead of the comedic look of dread complete with facial shadow and sweatdrop, she starts tearing up. And not in an overly dramatic bawling way that Usagi tends to do. She’s starting to cry like she’s being bullied.

Rei seems to be another example of this. In the chapters covered in the episodes I watched, Rei shows herself to be quite abrasive and strict, but this seems toned down entirely in Crystal. The instant I noticed something was off was in chapter four and episode four. Rei, in SMC, is acting quite timid and bashful in the first scene in the arcade. It’s really off when Luna shares the information that Usagi is late since she got detention for falling asleep in class and Rei’s reaction is to sigh, smile and say that that is so like Usagi….

Now compare that to Rei’s reaction in the manga. Rei clearly says, with an angry expression, that Usagi is late. They changed ‘You’re late. >:|’ to ‘Oh that is SO like Usagi. Lol *eye roll*’

But if that’s not enough, in that same scene in SMC, Rei says she’s already tired of fighting evil, and that’s that. In the manga, she scoffs and says in a seemingly snotty tone that she doesn’t understand why she has to be a sailor scout and not only that but if Luna doesn’t tell them all where she came from and what she truly is that she’s going to leave.

One more subtle yet significant change comes at the end of the scene where Usagi gushes over wanting to go to the big fancy Princess D party. Rei responds calmly that it might not be a good idea since she has a bad feeling about it. In the manga, she basically says the same thing but it’s clear that she’s saying it with an attitude, especially when she prefaces her dialogue with ‘pfft, you better give up on that now.’

Please keep in mind that I’m not making these comparisons to the manga for purist purposes; I’m doing it because SMC is specifically designed to be a better adaptation of the manga and because I’m trying to convey why the show doesn’t have the same heart that the manga and 90’s anime have.

I’m also not saying that changing characters’ personalities in adaptations is entirely a bad thing either. But the problem here is that the new personalities just seem drab to me. Usagi seems to have lost a good deal of what made her endearing and funny, and Rei, no pun intended, seems to have lost her fire.

Ami is kept pretty loyal, for the most part, but it’s a bit difficult to really alter her character too bad without just completely overhauling it. Worst I’ve heard in regards to changes for her is that she becomes kinda useless as time goes on, which is a damn shame if that’s true because Ami’s the most useful, to be honest.

When we get to Makoto, she’s also seemingly altered. She’s, for lack of a better term, weaker than her manga counterpart. In the manga, as she’s being held captive by Nephrite and his bride mannequin, she quickly picks herself up by the bootstraps and takes them on, even without transforming, once she realizes that she was tricked and manipulated. She instantly throws the mannequin and transforms in her desire to prove to them the powers of an innocent girl. She takes on Nephrite, entirely on her own, and manages to kill him.

In SMC, she is devastated by hearing Nephrite talk about how people only care about looks and how humans are easily manipulated through them. She explains that Motoki looked a lot like her old crush who gently let her down after revealing he had a girlfriend (in the manga, we don’t get the story, we just get told that someone she was in love with broke her heart). So, since he manipulated her, she should give up on love and everything and falls to the floor in a heap. Usagi then gives her a speech about not giving up on love and how there’s definitely someone out there for Makoto and her. Yeah, we went from ‘girl power’ to ‘don’t give up on life because of a guy; you’ll get a guy someday.’ Also, sweetie, Motoki was clearly controlled by an evil force. He didn’t mean to manipulate you.

So, hearing Usagi’s speech, she only then decides to get up and fight. To be fair, though, she does get the rest of the fight to herself. ….But Nephrite survives. I’ll leave the connotations of that alone since it’s the start of a pretty iffy plot thread. You can find a more thorough analysis on that in the Tumblr link.

You’d think that, given the seemingly more serious tone of this anime that they’d at least have a more powerful romance….Well, it’s really hard to get into the sparking romance between Usagi and Mamoru when most of their scenes are just blank stares. Not to mention that in the only two face-to-face interactions that they’ve had as Usagi and Mamoru, without transformations or disguises, they took away a good chunk of the arguing and over the top anger and replaced it with, you guessed it, blank stares. In a nutshell, they made it boring to me.

That really is the bigger problem I have with the art. Sure, there are just terrible art and animation problems, but those could be forgivable if the art they were going for had any real emotion behind it. They’re not even trying to make these characters come to life in any way and it’s still coming out looking like a fourth grader animated it half the time. I know they fixed a lot of this for the BluRay, or at least attempted, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was released this way to begin with and is still as such on sites such as Hulu.

Even the fights, while having some kickass moments, such as Rei’s attack in episode five, lose a lot of their oomph because the art of the facial expressions just don’t convey any real emotions. The voice acting, Japanese, is alright, but it’s also not as good as it really should be in the emoting department.

In essence, the reasons why I ‘quit’ watching SMC was because I feel like it’s not really giving me any reason to watch it. If I want a story more loyal to the manga, I’ll read the manga. The changes that are present in SMC just aren’t appealing to me at all. There aren’t any real drastic story changes so far and what scene changes there are seem to be changed for the worse. I’m definitely not against anime or any adaptations changing things from the source material as long as what they put in its place is just as good, better or builds upon something interesting. SMC just isn’t doing that. They’re taking stuff away and not adding to it.

If I want to watch an animated version of the manga, then the 90’s series works just fine for me. No, it doesn’t follow the manga to a T, but, again, it doesn’t have to as long as what its adding or building upon seems to be either as good or for the better. Not saying the 90’s series is perfect, oh god no, but it does manage to keep the heart and soul of the manga much better than SMC does.

And, to be honest, an adaptation doesn’t even really have to do that. You can build an entirely new soul of a piece of source material and make it into something entirely different and that can still be okay. As long as it’s entertaining and truly feels like something that is trying to connect with you in some way, then you don’t have to even try to emulate the heart or soul of the source material.

The problem is that that’s not what SMC is trying to do. Their main hook was being a more loyal adaptation to the manga, not trying for a new vision of it. Because of this, their aim really was, more or less, to bring the heart behind the manga to an anime, and they just really failed in nearly all levels to me.

Now, the reason ‘quit’ is written like that is because, despite the fact that I’ve dropped it, I’m not against watching another episode or two in the future if I’m in the mood. I’m just not going to actively continue watching it on a semi-regular basis. I’ve heard SMC II and III are better in regards to art and animation quality and kinda better story-wise, but apparently it’s just mediocre at best, and I still doubt I’ll ever bother going that far.

Also, as a note, to anyone with similar opinions to mine, don’t be put off by hard core fans who may judge you for disliking Crystal. Just like no one should judge anyone else for liking it. Everyone’s free to like or dislike anything, even in a big powerful franchise, especially if you’ve given it a fair shot. Remember, if liking everything in a franchise was required to be a real fan of it, I’d have to like The Last Airbender. And that’s just cruel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, I can’t resist posting a couple.

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There is an alarming amount of ones containing Sailor Mars.

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Just, why Toei?

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Last one, honest. It’s a video, so I can’t upload it here, but enjoy anyway.

http://crystalquality.tumblr.com/post/98685920019/crisontumblr-i-cant-be-the-only-one-who

Images courtesy of Crystal Quality and Sailor Moon Crystal Failures.

http://sailormooncrystalfailures.tumblr.com/

 

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Scaredy Squirrel

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Plot: Scaredy Squirrel is a squirrel who lives in a town with other animal people and hijinks ensue I guess.

Breakdown: Have you ever merely seen and heard a show’s theme song and instantly got a bad feeling about the entire show? One example of that feeling is with Scaredy Squirrel, also known as diet-more-annoying-much-less-funny-even-considering-the-post-movie-seasons-Spongebob Squarepants.

The opening I’m referring to is one where the title character, Scaredy, and yes that’s really his name, basically scream/scats the tune of the opening theme. You can practically feel your ears curl up in agony.

Scaredy himself is just a more annoying version of Spongebob. He works a crappy minimum wage job, he’s constantly happy, he has a high-pitched voice, lives in a giant food item (an acorn) he’s always being overly nice to everyone, he’s a complete dork, he’s neurotic, and even though it’s fully justified because, well squirrel, he also has buck teeth.

He also has a best friend whose two biggest traits are being fat/constantly eating and being dumb. Though, unlike Patrick whose main shtick is his stupidity, they put way more emphasis on the over eating and fat jokes, which amount to him just always eating everything edible in his path. His voice actor also sounds like a higher pitched Dom DeLuise.

But let’s back away from Spongebob for a second and analyze this as a show. It’s still bad….The art is about as simplistic as humanly possible. I know, I know, kid’s cartoon, but there’s really nothing creative here and the ‘kids cartoon’ excuse is such a terrible one. I’m not demanding realistic detail, but nothing stands out or even reminds me of anything good. I didn’t even realize what animals some of the characters were, and I’m still fuzzy on some of them. Like Paddy, the antagonist of the first half; I couldn’t tell if he was supposed to be a weasel or a rat.

The backgrounds are also lacking a hell of a lot of detail; like the artists just threw some random shapes together and called it a day. Also, the animation, done in Flash, is really lazy. It’s not really terrible, but it is not by any means good.

Going into the stories, like many similar shows, the episodes are broken up into two parts with two different stories. The first segment, called Pranks for Nothing, involves Scaredy accidentally causing a prank war with an egotistical jackass of a….weasel (?) named Paddy.

He initially doesn’t want to partake in the prank war, which consisted mostly of sudden wedgies and a pie to the face (real creative, guys), but after being fed up with his pranks he decides to retaliate with wuss-ified versions of pranks like flinging him across a room to land on a soft mat, making him slip on a bunch of banana peels and dumping oatmeal on his head.

Tied in the pranks, Paddy decides to trick Scaredy into thinking he broke his leg during the banana peel prank to make him basically be his guilt slave. This is also very inconsistent with the way Scaredy has been acting. He complains about pies to the face causing numerous broken nose incidents per year and makes every prank pretty harmless, yet he let Paddy slip continuously on a floor covered in banana peels only to slam face first into a refrigerator….

Scaredy waits on Paddy hand and foot and after Paddy calls him to the house to do some menial task for him, he sees Paddy take off the fake cast for a minute, which is incredibly dumb. He just called Scaredy to the house and knew he was on his way. Why take off the fake cast?

Anyway, Scaredy realizes that the entire thing was a prank that Paddy was setting up as his tie-breaking prank. Something even the dumbest of kids figured out the instant that Paddy walked on screen with a broken leg.

Paddy makes Scaredy set up a party in his honor where he plans to reveal that his leg wasn’t broken all along, at least I assume, but Scaredy, knowing he’s a faker, turns the tide on him during his speech. He rips the fake cast off, revealing his leg isn’t broken and then dumps a whole bunch of…..yellow goo stuff? On him. He ends up slipping on the goo, making him actually break his leg, and Scaredy, while offering to take care of him out of guilt yet again, runs over his other foot with a wheelbarrow. The end…?

——————————————

What a completely cliché and predictable first episode. Prank war trope + faking an injury to make someone their slave? No part of this episode was creative in the least from the writing to the art to the characters to the jokes. Everything was just flat and completely forgettable.

Beyond that, this show is just noise. I didn’t even bother watching the second segment because it was so much of a chore to sit through the first one. Everyone’s voice actor is ungodly annoying and grating, like they’re purposely directed to be that way. Their mannerisms are annoying. Their lines have no life behind them; there’s no life in this show. It’s just noise.

Final verdict?

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There are much better crazy, random cartoons out there to entertain yourself or your kids or whatever.

Recommended Audience: Not for people with sensitive ears, but otherwise absolutely nothing offensive. E for everyone.

Tokyo Mew Mew/Mew Mew Power Episode 5 (4 for the Original) Sub/Dub Comparison

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Plot: Ichigo’s bummed because Kisshu kissed her and she doesn’t know how to act around Aoyama now because of it. That’s about it.

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Originally, the flashback to the kiss that Kisshu gave Ichigo is before the title card not after we see her walking to school like the dub.

The flashback, in addition, is wrong in the dub. The flashback shows that Zoey said “You kissed me” followed by Dren saying “Yeah, nice wasn’t it? Well, see ya soon!” In actuality, the dubbed scene had Zoey simply saying “Eww” while Dren followed it up with “I’ve got to run, but don’t worry we’ll run into each other again real soon.” Seriously 4Kids, you even mess with crap when you’re referencing your own show or were you really too lazy to simply look at what you made?

A scene where Dren is having a meeting with Deep Blue is inserted in the dub after Zoey’s second run-in with Mark.

Another short flashback of the kiss is edited out.

Zoey: (While in the classroom) “WHAT IF MY EARS POP OUT AND LOOK LIKE SOME HALF-CAT FREAK!?” You and your yelling of things that could instantly out you as a Mew Mew…

Zoey snorted while laughing….again.

The ticket that Aoyama gives Ichigo is digitally altered to English text. By the way, the ticket looks that awful in both versions. Although I wish the dub’s had more text. That has to be the easiest ticket to counterfeit. I could make a perfect counterfeit of that in MSPaint.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

Nishiyama Park is changed to Wild Ride Amusement Park.

Also, it’s not Bring a Friend Day in the original….and that kinda makes you look cheap, Mark. That’s like giving her a coupon as a gift. Bring a Friend Day also doesn’t scream ‘romantic’…

An extended shot of Ichigo apologizing again is edited out.

The scene with Dren and Deep Blue was taken from this point in the episode.

Time to compare those scenes then. The original meeting scene has Deep Blue asking Kisshu if he’s gathered data for the plan. He says he’s doing so now. Deep Blue then says that humans have been infecting the Earth for over 56 million years. Kisshu says he’ll keep working. Then Deep Blue reminds Kisshu that the Earth and all of its inhabitants will be put into submission.

In the dub, Dren tells Deep Blue that he had a run-in with Zoey. Deep Blue asks if she was eliminated and he says no because she’s intriguing and wants to keep an eye on her. Then Deep Blue reminds Dren that he wants the ‘blue planet’ take over the world yada yada.

Originally, Lettuce asks Mint in whisper what’s wrong with Ichigo. Mint says she doesn’t know and says she’s falling apart. In the dub, Bridget asks Corina if they should ask Zoey what’s wrong. Corina asks why they should because she’s just trying to get attention.

This scene is basically the same, but it’s the dialogue that needs attention. Ichigo/Zoey nearly tells Mint/Corina and Lettuce/Bridget that she was kissed by Kisshu/Dren. Ichigo blows it off by saying it’s nothing and Zoey changes her words by saying she didn’t say “kissed” she meant “dissed” and that she was dissed by some girl in school…..4Kids, we talked about this. Stop thinking you know what the children are saying nowadays. This just bugs me all the more because there are numerous other words that would’ve worked there. Missed/Mist, wrist, list, hissed, gist, fist, cyst…okay that one would’ve been gross…Pisse—okay I know you can’t use that one, but you get it…

The word “Fukum” is taken off of a sign in the background. Dunno what that is, but there you go.

Subbed: SUBDUBCOMPARETMMEP5SCREEN3

Dubbed:

Ichigo is originally mad that Shirogane would boss her around when she’s so obviously upset. In the dub, she’s still moaning about rejecting Mark’s invite for a date.

The words “Porapora” on an awning behind Ichigo are edited away.

Subbed: SUBDUBCOMPARETMMEP5SCREEN5

Dubbed:

The words on a poster above Ichigo’s head on the train are painted away.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

The words over the escalator are painted away.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

The words on a divider behind Ichigo are painted away.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

They don’t give a name to the location where Ichigo gets off of the train where Zoey gets off on Maple Street.

I didn’t catch this the first time I went through this episode, but it caught my eye while trying to get screencaps. There’s an ad on the side of the bus that Ichigo’s riding for ice cream or yogurt or something – in hindsight it could be Ben and Jerry’s ice cream or a knock-off. On the ad is a tub of ice cream/yogurt with….I dunno what they are. They don’t look like Japanese words, they just look like shapes, and the ‘words’ are painted off.

……..4Kids….I, albeit in my spare time, am putting effort into seeing how many changes and edits you’ve made to your series. I’m actually putting effort into it…..If I didn’t even see this change until a second viewing while knowing exactly what I need to look for in these comparisons….why the unholy hell did you even bother to edit that away?

I mean, it’s not even EEEEVVVVVVIIIILLLLLL Japanese, it just looks like scribbles and shapes, and it’s on-screen for literally less than a second. I know that I’m kinda in a chain of pointless edits right now, but at least these are on screen for usually a few seconds. At least those contain actual Japanese words. This is a flash that NO ONE (besides geeks like me) would notice. It took me two tries to notice that and a few tries to catch these screencaps because they go by so fast. What is the point?! What!?

Subbed: uyxvey4

Dubbed: 7eusksw

Text is edited off of a street sign.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

Text is edited off another sign in the background. (Yellow square is → if anyone’s lost.)

Subbed:

Dubbed:

The text on the banner for the park is painted away.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

The text on the board outside is paint away—WAIT….Okay, finally have it changed instead of merely erased. The original sign said “Today: Time with Animals” The dub has “Petting Zoo 12-4 PM: Wild Ride Amusement Park: Bring a friend for FREE.”

Subbed: fasergn

Dubbed: hqlswig

Bridget: (While pouring Corina some tea that’s not even given attention in the original) “Here you go, some nice mint tea”…….some nice mint tea…..nice mint tea…..mint tea….mint…..4Kids….I think you just called me out….I really do. That….that just seems like something they’d put in there to piss off people like me who actually complain about dub changes…You wanna dance? We can dance.

Mint originally says that Ichigo’s probably still crying over her date. Corina asks why she should be worried about Zoey when she got the day off (not really, she was sent to look for aliens…) while they’re toiling away like slaves. Right….slaves….Hey Corina…take that tea and pour it up your–

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*sigh* Okay. I gotta calm down or I’ll be burnt out by the mid point of this series.

The really tiny text on the banner for the animal pen is edited out.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

Not sure why they’d visit a petting zoo….to not pet animals… (The original just says they show animals, not a petting zoo.)

Boy the digital painters sure are earning their paychecks this week. Another banner on the stage is edited free of text. (By the way, what the hell is going on here? Is that Sailor Moon in a tutu fighting jellyfish and narwhals?)

Subbed: u0etxco

Dubbed: 7pdzybu

What the hell? One of the ghost illusions in the haunted house is a guy with a sword stabbed through him while he’s covered in blood……4Kids did nothing about it….That IS scary…

Originally, Kisshu says that Ichigo shouldn’t be going on dates with other guys since she’s his. In the dub, Dren’s just happy they’re out of the haunted house so that he can see if she can handle his latest attack.

When Kisshu says “Hehe, we meet again Honey” his voice makes that line adorable. Also, that line is changed to “What, you didn’t tell him about US?” in the dub, but the line is delivered in an also cute manner. Not nearly as cute as subbed, but he tried.

A short flashback of the kiss (how many times are we gonna be reminded of that?) is edited out.

Kisshu originally thanked Ichigo again for the kiss. He insinuates that she liked it and asks if she wants to kiss again while holding her chin. In the dub, he basically taunts her about telling Mark that they’re an item now.

Kisshu licking his lips is again edited away.

Most of where Kisshu grabs Ichigo’s chin and talks to her is edited away even though we just saw him do the exact same thing a minute ago….

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Kisshu originally points out that she’s nothing more than a human unless she transforms, which leaves him disappointed and gives him no choice but to kill her. None of this is mentioned in the dub.

Ichigo originally berates Mint for yelling at her for slacking off when all she does is drink tea and slack off. In the dub, Zoey just tries to excuse why she’s at the amusement park.

Dub Dialogue Error: Bridget says that Zoey thought that the Amusement Park would be the best place to look….for Zoey. The name you’re looking for, Sweetie, is Corina.

Also, again, Lettuce doesn’t transform on screen. 😦

Zoey: “Are you ready to Mew-tilate that thing, girls?!” …….This show’s gonna drive me to be an alcoholic.

Also, Ichigo is originally concerned about turning the lion cub back to normal, not mutilating it…

The dub seems to have edited out the motto for this episode…..YAY!!! WHOOOOOOOOOOO!! NO MEW MEW POWER IN MY FACE!! YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!

I guess I should mention something about the motto for this episode, though. Mint and Lettuce are actually included in her pose, but not only do they get to say nothing during the motto, but the camera zooms in on Ichigo during the actual motto and pose, and before the zoom in all three of them are in shadow, which means we basically see and hear Lettuce and Mint contributing nothing to the motto, so why even have them doing it then?

Ichigo says as she’s flown through the air “Not my tail!” (Because the monster grabbed her tail) Zoey says “I’m totally flipping out!”….because she’s flipping through the air…get it?…Huh? Get it?

Mint originally complains that Ichigo runs off to see Aoyama without even thanking them. Lettuce excuses her by saying that Ichigo just gets pretty absorbed when Aoyama’s concerned. This is edited out I guess due to the placement of the commercial break or time, I dunno.

Originally, Ichigo says that she still has a secret that she needs to keep from Aoyama, but she’ll tell him eventually. Then she says that she loves him so so much.

In the dub, Zoey’s voiceover is acting like she just now remembered that, due to the way the dub is set up, that this entire thing is a flashback. Seriously, four episodes beyond the start of this flashback and this is the first time since the beginning of episode two that we’ve been reminded of it.

She says back then that she really thought she could keep that promise, she wanted to believe that, but with the Cyniclons and becoming a Mew Mew, she can’t be sure of anything. She just knew that she’d promise Mark anything at that moment.

Next up is Puddi—OH COME ON! More filler? -huff- Do we at least get to see Lettuce transform? ….What do you mean ‘probably not because it seems most if not all of the episode is centered on Ichigo and Lettuce doesn’t even go to her school?’ *more huff*

…Previous Episode

Pokemon Episode 15 Analysis – Battle Aboard the St. Anne!

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Character Debuts: Giovanni – Leader of Team Rocket, Giovanni stays cloaked in shadow for a good chunk of the first series. He rarely appears on-screen at all, and, sadly, he never amounts to much as a villain. Outside of the dub exclusive creation of Mewtwo later in movie 01, this massive attack on the St. Anne is probably his biggest and most notable plan. Ultimately, a wasted character and villain.

Pokemon: Probably a lot, though the only Pokemon confirmed to actually be on his team are Rhydon, Machamp, Kingler, Golem and a Cloyster. However, his trademark Pokemon is a Persian, which he treasures and never leaves his side.

The Magikarp Salesman: Never given an actual name, the Magikarp salesman, oddly enough, has made at least one appearance in every Pokemon series to date. He’s always swindling people, James especially, into believing that Magikarp are a great investment that will end up making the buyer millions of dollars only to leave his stand when the customers find out about the scam.

Pokemon: Gee I wonder.

CotD: Gentleman – While technically not a character, he doesn’t even get a name, the Gentleman that Ash battles and trades his Butterfree to is a significant enough character to at least be mentioned here. He seems like a very kind and respectable Trainer who also enjoys trading.

Reappears?: No.

Pokemon: Squirtle and Raticate. Butterfree (temporarily)

Captures: Ash’s Raticate – Ash traded away his Butterfree for a Gentleman’s Raticate in this episode. However, he changed his mind and traded him back before the end of the episode.

James’ Magikarp – James gets coerced into buying a Magikarp. He tosses it away later in this arc.

Plot: As Ash and the others are leaving Vermilion City, they see a beautiful cruise liner, the St. Anne, in port. After they gush over the idea of going on a cruise, they sulk when they realize they don’t have nearly enough money to ever go on one. However, as ‘luck’ would have it, two ridiculous teenage girls approach them offering them free passes to the St. Anne. What’s more is that there will be a big party of Pokemon Trainers on the ship.

As the teenagers reveal themselves to be (shocker) Team Rocket in disguise, they hold a video meeting with their leader, Giovanni, who reveals that he’s gathering tons of Pokemon Trainers on the St. Anne in order to take all of their Pokemon when they’re out at sea.

While Ash, Misty and Brock are in awe of the St. Anne and all the cool Pokemon stuff happening on board, Ash sees a Pokemon battle going on between a Gentleman and his Raticate and a boy and his Starmie. The Gentleman wins, but gives his opponent some respectful words of encouragement before asking the crowd if anyone else wants to challenge him.

Fired up, Ash challenges the Gentleman with his Butterfree. It’s a pretty even match until Butterfree paralyzes Raticate with Stun Spore. As he’s about to finish him off with a Whirlwind, the Gentleman calls off the match and says to call it a draw, much to Ash’s disdain.

Meanwhile, James comes across a salesman at a kiosk who shows him a Magikarp. He claims that the fish is a gold mine since they have many babies and each Magikarp can be sold for around $100. James is easily suckered into buying one.

Later, the Gentleman from earlier approaches Ash and tells him that he really liked his Butterfree. Ash thanks him for the compliment and says he also liked his Raticate. The Gentleman then offers to trade his Raticate for Ash’s Butterfree, stating that trading is a great practice that is part of what makes being a Pokemon Trainer so great. While Ash is a little uneasy about it, he ultimately agrees and trades Butterfree for Raticate.

Back with Team Rocket, James gets chewed out for buying a worthless Magikarp, and Jessie demands that he get his money back when she finds out that he used some of her salary to pay for it.

Ash speaks with Misty about how he’s feeling regret over the trade and worries that Butterfree won’t be cared for the way he cared for it.

A horde of Team Rocket members emerge and demand everyone hand over their Pokemon, but no one’s going down without a fight.

As Team Rocket gets thrashed by an onslaught of Pokemon, Ash accidentally tries letting out Butterfree only to sadly remember that he was traded away. He stops to remember all the good times he had with Butterfree before snapping out of it to help the effort against Team Rocket. They eventually blast all of the Team Rocket grunts away, except, oddly enough, our regular Team Rocket trio.

Suddenly, a terrible storm appears, knocking the ship violently. As Ash trades for his Butterfree back, the passengers angrily confront the captain, who ends up escaping on a life raft while trying to convince everyone that everything’s okay.

The passengers flee to the life boats, but Ash lags behind as he makes his trade. He completes the trade, but Butterfree’s Pokeball slips from his hand and rolls away after the ship gets hit by a wave. Likewise, James, Jessie and Meowth are also chasing his runaway Magikarp Pokeball.

While both groups manage to recover their Pokeballs, the ship gets hit with a huge wave and ends up capsizing. As the ship sinks to the bottom of the sea, Ash and his friends as well as Team Rocket lie unconscious from the hit. Will they be able to escape?

———————————————————–

– Narrator: “Has Ash’s ship finally come in? Or are Ash and his friends cruisin’ for a bruisin’?” That was an awful line, Mr. Narrator. Please go to your corner and don’t come out until we’re questioning the fates of our main characters.

– Ash: “Do you know anyone who says ‘radical’ anymore?” Ooh, look at 4Kids believing they know when slang is dated or not. That, kids, is what we call ‘kidding ourselves!’ Also, uh, considering this was made in 1998, I’d say ‘radical’ was not that dated by then.

– I can’t help but love James in the scene of him as a teenage girl. I know he’s mostly just going ‘CoooOOOOOOoooolll!’ over and over, but he just cracks me up when he does it.

– It’s kinda weird to see Giovanni actually having some modicum of a real connection with Jessie, James and Meowth considering he soon drops them like hot rocks and forgets about them, outside of their debts of course. He actually entrusted them with an important part of his newest scheme here.

– It’s also weird how, during these first handful of episodes, Charmander is sometimes pronounced ‘Char-minder’ I thought only Damian did it in Charmander’s debut, but I think I heard it an episode or two ago and now Ash said it here.

– I have to sympathize with Ash here – it’s a pretty dick move to see that you’re losing a match then decide to call it off as a ‘draw’. If you want to call off a match and accept defeat because you don’t want to see your Pokemon get hurt anymore, then fine. But calling a match you were clearly losing a draw, even if Whirlwind doesn’t actually do damage, is just stupid.

– Okay, so not only do we have Charmander being pronounced ‘Charminder’ but also the Gentleman calls Pokemon ‘Pokeymon’…..Apparently he’s my grandma.

– Whoa! What the hell? A splash of blood and a flying tooth made it through 4Kids’ censors? It’s only for a few frames, but it’s a closeup after a clear strike on another person. Even this early in their career, they would’ve edited that out.

– I do find it a little weird that Ash, a Trainer so intent on making strong relationships with his Pokemon, was so quick to accept this trade. He is uneasy about it, but he really let go of his first caught and evolved Pokemon for a Raticate, that was losing to Butterfree no less, all because of a pretty trading speech by the Gentleman?

– Ah it is so nice to see Team Rocket (the full one) doing something…..Even if they suck about as much at their job as Jessie, James and Meowth. Yes, kidnap all those Pokemon without protective suits to prevent people from using their Pokemon on you. What’s more is that the Trainers outnumber the Rockets like ten to one and they just assumed that they wouldn’t fight back, even without weapons to threaten them. They are literally just walking up to people saying ‘Gimme your Pokemon!’

Even WORSE is that their only capture mechanisms are vacuums that suck up Pokeballs only….so they have no way of taking Pokemon who are out of their balls.

And finally, they don’t even have Pokemon of their own to actually battle with!

You. All. Suck.

No wonder Team Rocket fizzled out and had to be rebooted in Best Wishes!

– Also, nice recycled multiple Pikachu footage from episode two. No idea why the Bulbasaur followed suit and made a pyramid too, same with the Charmander. This a Pokemon battle, not cheerleading camp, guys.

– Recycled footage from this episode doubling as recycled footage from the Pikachu in episode two. Wow. That’s really lazy.

– Nice to know that the captain and crew of the St. Anne don’t bother checking the weather report for storms strong enough to capsize a ship. Did no one even look out the window?

– Captain: “This ship is unsinkable!” Wow, that foreshadowing was so big, you could say it was Titanic!

 

 

 

 

 

*cough*

– Captain: “Attention; anyone who did not leave the ship safely, please say ‘aye’!….Good, everyone’s safe then!”

You’re a goddamn idiot, and I hope you fall overboard.

– Narrator: “How will they escape their watery fate? I don’t know, but I have a terrible sinking feeling.” That’s it, you’re grounded until the next episode, mister.

————————————

This is the start of a rare three-parter, with actual continuity, and it’s one of my favorite arcs in all of Pokemon. While not all of the pieces fit perfectly together (the final episode in the arc is particularly disjointed) the first two episodes are a great arc to the series. The cliffhanger is exciting, they brought on the concept of trading…even though trading in the anime has always made me a bit uneasy since you’re meant to grow emotionally connected to the Pokemon…Team Rocket actually did something….. even if, in hindsight, it was just an insanely stupid plan….And we get our first sneak peak at Giovanni….who ultimately amounts to nothing—wow, looking back at these episodes sometimes just makes me sad.

I did really enjoy this episode, but my favorite of the arc is coming up next. It’s one of my favorite episodes of Pokemon period, and while I’m aware of some wonky things with it, I hope the watch won’t be tarnished after reevaluating it.

Previous Episode….

2001+5 (Manga) Review

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Rating: 8.5/10

Plot: A continuation of the short sci-fi stories of 2001 Nights.

Breakdown: Despite this being just additional stories in the 2001 Nights universe, there actually is more to talk about than merely ‘This is just as good as 2001 Nights, so same rating.’ You can even tell from the rating that this is not true.

Hoshino Yokinobu released these stories as a collection of unreleased sci-fi shorts for the magazine Super Action. The longest work in 2001+5, Starship Adventure: Star Field, was a stand-alone serialization project that Yokinobu himself admits was poorly prepped. He started it without having planned out a solid story nor a fully fleshed out plot, and to make matters worse, the magazine that in which is was being published got canceled, and he had no desire to continue on. This leaves the entirety of this story slightly confusing and completely unfinished.

It is a shame that the story went unfinished, but I can see why he had no drive to go on with it. While the story is fairly interesting with decent characters, it doesn’t seem to stand up very well in contrast to most other 2001 Nights stories.

Speaking of seemingly unfinished works, there are three incredibly short ‘stories’ that are only three to four pages long each that only cover very basic aspects of what appears to be a much bigger story or merely waxing poetic about some aspect of space.

There are completed works in here such as Ocean of Night, which actually was intended all along to be an addition to 2001 Nights, Vessel of Wrath, Phobos and Deimos and finally Planet of Fog.

While Phobos and Deimos is probably the weakest entry of these, all of the other stories seem pretty well-fitted for the 2001 Nights universe in tone, story telling, characters and plot. We even get blessed with some full-color shots to really amaze you with what Yokinobu can do.

Overall, the discontinued weak story drags it down a bit, and the very short stories confuse me somewhat, but the other stories offer a pretty strong continuation of the 2001 Nights universe for anyone who was yearning for more. You can even view this mostly as a stand-alone even if Ocean of Night is a sequel to a 2001 Nights story.

Additional Information and Notes:

2001+5 was written and drawn by Hoshino Yokinobu.

Volumes: 1

Year: 2006

Recommended Audience: There is some mild nudity, tastefully done single shot of a sex scene, violence and intense situations. 14+