SSBS – Saint Seiya/Knights of the Zodiac Episode 1: Revive! Legendary Hero

SnSBS Saint Seiya Episode 1

Plot: The goddess Athena is protected by a group of warriors, fueled by the constellations of the cosmos, called the Saints. They must fight and earn their own specific cloths, which contain the armor of the Saints, and protect their goddess from other gods who want to take over the world.

A teenager named Seiya is a Japanese boy attempting to earn the Pegasus cloth in a tournament, though no one wants him to win since they believe the cloth should only go to those of Greek descent. He does manage to win it by harnessing the power of the cosmos within, but his trials aren’t over yet.

A masked girl named Shaiya, wielding powers of a snake, wants to truly see if Seiya’s worthy of the cloth by challenging him to a battle.

Seiya can just barely keep up with her and nearly gets killed. He finally decides to unleash the power of the Pegasus. With the armor on, he is able to prove his worth and return to Japan.

Breakdown: Ah, Saint Seiya, also known as Knights of the Zodiac. Arguably the most well-known magical boy anime. Some may fight me on that description but I respectfully stand my ground on this. Transformation sequences to suit up, teams with themed powers, trying to save the world, enemies of the week etc. The most leeway I’ll give is that it is really a magical boy show melded with a tournament fighter with more plot than your typical magical girl show.

I first saw this show on Cartoon Network back in the day and I loved it, even if I can’t remember the dubbed voices worth a damn. I do remember one aspect very vividly….the opening theme.

It’s not uncommon for dubbed shows to get completely redone theme songs instead of just using the original, but with Knights of the Zodiac, DiC uh….Well, first of all, they used Bowling for Soup music, which is fine because I actually love Bowling for Soup. A bit of an odd choice for an anime, but they were popular at the time so whatever.

The weird part was….the song they were using….was BfS’s cover…..of A Flock of Seagulls’ ‘I Ran.’ The only thing this song has in common with Knights of the Zodiac is that they both came out the 80s. Why the hell they decided to use that song with that band is one of the biggest mysteries I’ve ever contemplated in anime.

But that doesn’t matter much because today I decided to use the original version. As an opener, it’s really good. It introduces the plot well, sets up the Saints and where their power comes from and how its used in an effective manner, and it created a sympathetic main lead…..outside of one thing I’ll get to later.

Seiya is obviously a major underdog. Not only does no one in this place, besides his mentor and teacher Marin, want him there and beats him up on a regular basis, even in spite of the age difference, but they also despise that a non-Greek is attempting to get the Pegasus cloth. He struggled a lot in his training because he couldn’t understand the techniques, though he quickly excelled at them once he did.

Surprisingly, this series actually tackled a magical girl/boy trope before it even became a trope. Seiya acts like the armor will be all that he needs to defeat his enemies. He, not exaggerating, straight out says that the armor should be acting of its own accord and giving him untold power to win instead of him putting any actual effort into his own fighting. It is very annoying when this does actually happen because you become less impressed with the character and more enamored with the powers they’re using. Nice to know the armor doesn’t put up with dependent garbage.

I know this is hard to believe, but his reaction is not the exception in his sympathetic personality I mentioned a minute ago.

Another trope they seem to overcome is being ‘destined’ to get these specific cloths. While Marin says some things that hint that it is fate, these cloths must be earned through battle. If you don’t manage to hone your skills enough without the cloth to beat the warriors in the tournaments, you’re out of luck. I imagine some people are just, by default, more ‘worthy’ of these cloths than others, but they don’t seem destined by birth or, if you’ll forgive the cheesy phrase, it doesn’t seem like it’s ‘written in the stars’ for it to be one person or another.

The personality flaw I mentioned before is shown in why his armor stops ‘working’ for him. When he put on the cloth at first, he actually utilizes its power quite well because he, as a fighter, was syncing with the power of the cosmos within him and fighting like a true warrior. His punch was so strong that, even from a vast distance, the air pressure from the strike was able to injure Shaina’s shoulder. However, when he came face to face with Shaina, his armor suddenly felt heavy and started hindering his ability to fight rather than help him.

Why?

………Because, as a man, he could never put his all into a fight against a woman.

*sigh*

Okay, I shouldn’t get so irked at this yet. This show may have been made in the mid 80s, but it’s based on a manga. It’s probably just parroting some sexist bullshit from the 60s or something. You really can’t blame an anime for trying to be loyal to a manga that was written…..in 1986….the same year this anime came out……

So….Seiya’s just a prick? Cool beans.

Seriously, 1986. I know sexism is still not dead, and I wasn’t alive back then, but we should’ve been passed this at that point.

At least Marin rightfully calls him out on his stupidity, yelling out that he’s about to be killed because he’s a sexist dumbass. He does actually almost end up getting killed. He’s about to be hit by another of Shaina’s Thunder Claws, which he stated was more than powerful enough to kill him if he got hit by it again…..then, out of nowhere, the other warriors of the city pop up and stop Shaina, stating they want to be the ones who kill him.

They start kicking the crap out of him and then, because they have penises, Seiya is able to get up, utilize his cosmic power again and blow them all away with his Pegasus Meteor Punch. The air pressure was enough to break Shaina’s mask in half, showing her face and proving to her that Seiya is worthy of the armor, which, in my opinion, is a little bull.

I know I’m acting a bit butthurt about the sexism stuff, especially since I don’t know what time period this is supposed to take place in, but if all you need to drain this guy’s power and kill him is be a woman, he really isn’t very worthy of that cloth.

Hell, he wouldn’t have that cloth at all if his opponent in the tournament was a woman, making him even less worthy. At some point, you need to have what it takes to suck up your ‘pride as a man’ and say ‘wow, this woman’s kicking the unholy shit out of my ass. Maybe I should actually take her seriously as a warrior and put my all into this fight instead of thinking she’ll cry and go binge watch Lifetime movies if I do.’

I don’t even understand his logic here. He already injured her shoulder, though he wasn’t able to see her because he was so far away, and before he used the cloth, he attempted a Meteor Punch on her. Those things are fine, but you won’t actually aim to take her down? You’re a friggin’ idiot, Seiya.

How can he even be sexist when his trainer and mentor, Marin, is also a goddamn woman!? AND both Marin and Shaina are both Saints on top of that! AND the guy he defeated to get the cloth was trained by Shaina! It doesn’t seem anyone else is sexist in this world but Seiya.

That stupidity aside, this is a very solid first episode to this series. I have a deep love of magical ‘boy’ shows, tournament fighters and classic art designs, so we’re already giving me all sorts of warm and fuzzies. It addresses certain aspects of shows like this that are commonly brought up as problems or plot holes and aims to actually explain them or simply remove them, and the plot as a whole is very interesting. Greek mythology, constellations, gods fighting gods with themed warriors? What’s not to like?

Rating: 7.5/10

Next Episode, the tournament begins! It’s Seiya vs. Geki of the Bear cloth!

Episode One-Derland: Blue Dragon

Plot: Thousands of years ago, at the dawn of humanity, God blessed the world with prosperity and light. However, the humans, greedy for more, wished for darkness as well. They were granted their wish, and darkness fell upon them. It invaded the hearts of men, and humanity had to fight against it. Warriors of light emerged and triumphed over the darkness, but now the darkness has returned, heralding in the call for warriors of light.

A dark and evil king named Nene is terrorizing villages everywhere looking for a special power, kidnapping children that he believes possesses the ability to wield it. One day, Nene’s forces target the village of a boy named Shu, who wishes for nothing more than to be a brave warrior called a Knight Master and travel the world looking for adventure.

He believes he’s found a Knight Master when he meets the stoic woman named Zola, but is disappointed when she states that she is no such thing. When the attack commences on Shu’s village, he races to find Zola and her companion, a boy named Jiro, to recruit them to help fight them off. They refuse, however, and tell him that if he wants his village saved he must do it himself.

Jiro and his friends, a girl named Kluke and three others, make a valiant effort to fight off the soldier, but to no avail. The leader of the soldiers is met with Zola and he prepares for battle by calling on his shadow, which turns into a goblin-like beast. Zola too calls upon her shadow, a killer bat.

The goblin is no match for Killer Bat, but the resulting battle causes debris to fly everywhere. Just as Shu’s friends are about to be killed by a falling heap of debris, he leaps into the path of danger with nothing but the wish to save them behind him. As he’s about to get crushed, his shadow suddenly emerges as a brilliant blue dragon, aptly named Blue Dragon, the incredible power everyone’s been looking for.

Breakdown: Blue Dragon is a title I’ve been aware of for quite some time, but I’ve never bothered to look up any information on it.

At face value, there’s not really anything special about this series so far besides the Akira Toriyama aesthetics. Being clear, Toriyama only lent his talent to the art. He had no hand in the story.

The opening in particular about the powers of light and darkness battling each other was some dry milky toast. The aspect of the shadows is also not horribly creative since it’s basically just a fancy way of saying ‘familiar.’

As a first episode, it fares okay. We get the personalities of all of the main characters fairly effectively, even if a good chunk of them are also stereotypes. Shu is the headstrong shounen fighting fantasy anime lead character who has a heart of gold, wants to protect the people he loves and is kinda dense. But he has the best power because main character. I’ll stave off of making a stark comparison between him and Goku for now.

You have the perpetually grumpy rival in Jiro.

Kluke is a bit of a generic love interest, though she’s also sort of a big sister to Shu, and her love of gadgetry is a nice touch.

Zola in particular caught my eye because holy shit it has gotten annoying to not have many prominent legit female fighters throughout shounen. Zola is one kickass pirate-clad assassin girl.

The enemies are horribly generic, destroying villages and beating up kids while chuckling evilly. Even the leader’s shadow is a typical goblin thing.

Shu discovering his power through a desire to save his friends is also typical. I know I praise some shows that use tropes, but I just don’t feel like this show is bringing enough to the table to make me ignore them.

They don’t explain these powers much at all in this episode. We know that some people can summon monsters through their shadows and that’s about it. We have no clue what constitutes gaining this ability, why certain people get certain shadows, why it seems like they were collecting kids for the sake of summoning the blue dragon (you can’t really argue that only kids can summon shadows because the leader guy is definitely an adult and Zola’s a teen at least), what’s so special about the shadows, how they work etc. They don’t even explain Nene and the Gran Kingdom well.

That being said, it is obviously very stylized because Akira Toriyama and I never felt bored while watching. I was never really immersed in it that much, but I didn’t find it to be that bad, especially with Zola.

Final verdict:

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A slightly reluctant yes. Yet another freshly hatched Shounen Step-By-Step. Hopefully it just gets better after this point.

Digimon Adventure V-Tamer Volume 3 (Manga) Review

2

Plot: After Zero gets some much needed medical care at Hospitown, Taichi and Gabo meet the evolved versions of some of the Agumon that he met back at Holy Angemon’s castle. They are determined to help stop Neo and Demon from taking over the Digital World, but it’s an uphill task even for their newly evolved forms, and Holy Angemon’s army continues to suffer massive losses.

Taichi and Zero finally reach the tree where Neo stands with the final tag. While Taichi and Zero are more than ready to take him on, they haven’t seen every trick up his sleeve.

Later, Taichi and Zero meet another human in the Digital World – a girl named Rei, and while she seems normal enough, there may be more to her than meets the eye.

Breakdown: Really the only notes I have between the anime and manga are that Piyomon makes an appearance and needs a boost of bravery when faced with the trail of fallen allies Demon and Neo have left in their wake.

Also, the new human character, Rei, has a haircut that looks a lot like Sora’s, but eh.

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This volume is where the stakes get amped up a hundred fold. The battle against Neo takes center stage in this volume, and it’s definitely the biggest and most nail-biting battle of the manga so far, but surprisingly that’s the ‘second act’, so to speak. A lot more happens in this volume than you’d first think, and we have quite a bit of ground to cover.

We start off learning where the other Digi-allies are in their fight against Demon and while there is some good news, such as the Agumon who were being trained in the first volume evolving and Leomon evolving, though his evolved form is never seen on-panel, there’s no denying that the battle against Neo and Demon has taken its toll on Holy Angemon’s army. Holy Angemon himself even catches some of the damage.

Piyomon’s reluctance to brave the frightening circumstances and continue to help the battle are a highlight to this, but the one who brings the shining light of hope back into her very skeptical eyes is Taichi…..and his goggles.

Yes, we get the backstory to Taichi’s goggles. You may faint now. And because I’m such a nice person, I’ll share it with you. A Piyomon is frozen with fear after surviving a massacre lead by Neo. She makes fun of Taichi’s goggles when explaining how ridiculous it is that he and Zero can do anything to help. Taichi explains that the goggles were given to him by his grandpa when he was a young kid.

When he was younger, he saw a kid getting bullied. He knew he should do something about it, but couldn’t find it within himself to do so. Taichi’s grandpa gave him the goggles, knowing he liked airplanes, and called them goggles of friendship and courage.

The goggles belonged to a childhood friend of his who was known for being brave and a great friend. When he was older, he became a great pilot but later fell ill and passed away. He kept his friend’s goggles as a reminder of him and his old saying of ‘courage will give you wings to fly’ (which is actually kinda foreshadowing something that happens later.) Taichi received the goggles happily and knew at that point that he had to be brave in order to protect his friends – a lesson he has never forgotten.

Dammit, considering how important the aspect of the gogglehead is in this franchise, why the hell have we never gotten a backstory for them in the anime? Plus, considering the strong connection the goggles have to Taichi’s courage, his crest no less, you’d think they’d jump on that chance. This revelation, if it can be applied to the anime, makes me a little madder that he just handed his goggles to Daisuke in Adventure 02. That wasn’t a reminder of courage for Daisuke, he was just given a new pair since his broke and Taichi basically proclaimed him as the new leader with them.

Onto the main event, Taichi’s battle with Neo. As I mentioned, Neo has several tricks up his sleeve for combating Zero with his own two Digimon, now a Kuwagamon and Akatorimon that he can merge and separate as many times as he wants. Not only that, but he takes their Perfect form, Megadramon, and merges it with another Perfect, Jureimon to make an Ultimate level Digimon, Deathmon. And it looks about as disappointingly uncreative as the name is. It’s basically a cyclopic (or tricloptic, considering it has eyeballs on its hands) monster with bat wings.

Despite its bland look and uncreative name, it is a huge threat to Taichi and Zero considering that Zero is still merely an adult level, they are still at a disadvantage on the ground while the enemy can fly and they’ve never once faced an Ultimate level before. As you can guess, this results in Zero getting the ever-loving crap beat out of him to the point where, again, you’re seriously wondering if they’ll make it out alive. Even Taichi and Gabo have near-death experiences.

This really was the perfect opportunity to spotlight Zero’s first evolution, and they took advantage of it. It’s probably one of the best evo events of the franchise, at least that I’ve seen. Granted, V-dramon doesn’t change very much when he evolves, but it’s a much needed change to his design and power structure that gives him plenty of edge in the fight.

I’ll also give them props for how Neo was handled in the end. They cop out at the end of the volume, but it was still pretty shocking when it happened. Neo did get a little too crazy and villain-like for my liking, though. Seriously, he’s basically surpassing Kaiba and Vegeta now for how obsessed his is with beating his rival.

After the events of the ‘second act’, we see that portals to the human world have opened and people are being sucked into the Digital World either because they’re being called there or they just happened to be sucked in on accident through their computers. In comes Rei, who comes off as very abrasive. She finds herself in a strange world filled with monsters and when she finally finds some friendly faces, a human one no less, she makes fun of them, insults them and leaves to find more ‘normal’ people to help her.

When they save her life, she pulls a complete 180 and practically flatters them while agreeing to join their group and even asks them to take her to Demon’s castle, but Taichi is soon suspicious of her.

Meanwhile, the egg of the Super Ultimate Digimon has hatched and Neo has to start training it. He sends out a new team of tamers who recently came to the Digital World through the portals, a group called Alias III, to take care of other matters in the battle against Holy Angemon’s army.

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But that’s not all, we also have our first mini-chapter in which Taichi and Zero run into a Sukamon while training. He takes advantage of the fact that his special ability is to emit pheromones that induce the need to poop to completely distract Zero and Taichi from the battle. It’s only made worse by the fact that Zero doesn’t want to fight a pile of crap because that’s gross. They can’t even fight from a safe distance with his V Breath Arrow because it will probably redefine explosive diarrhea.

Zero then can’t fight the need to crap anymore and dumps a load so large that it takes up 80% of the page, he can sit on it like a hill, and it intimidates Sukamon into leaving.

Yeah……that just happened.

And I thought that one Naruto OVA where he craps his pants was ridiculously stupid. I will admit, this mini-chapter is a little tiny itty bitty bit funny, though.

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All in all, this is the best volume yet. This series really just seems to get better and better as the ball keeps rolling. We got to start off fairly calmly while also getting some info on where Holy Angemon’s efforts stand, we got a huge battle, some more strengthening of Taichi and Zero’s friendship and we ended on plenty of interesting details for the next volume, such as the Super Ultimate hatching, Rei’s true intentions, who exactly the guys in Alias III are and what they can do, if any more humans came through the portals and even if we’ll see even more evolutions from Zero. Deathmon was a disappointment in regards to design, and I would’ve liked to see some real character development from Neo in this volume, but still a very solid vol—oh yeah the mini-chapter……

*sigh* That really does tarnish this whole volume quite a bit, doesn’t it? Like I said, it’s a little funny, but it’s an entire nine pages dedicated to fighting poop, talking about poop and actually pooping – a house-sized poop, mind you. So, yeah, I’m gonna take off at least half a point for that, but we’re still standing really strong with this one.

Rating: 9/10

Recommended Audience: Zero gets even more badly beaten in this volume, and there’s one instance where a character kinda sorta commits suicide by falling. You don’t see anything, and it’s later revealed that his life was saved so I guess we’ll stay with 7+

Next volume, it’s the debut of Neo’s Aliases!

….Previous Volume

Pokemon Shorties! (4) Pikachu’s Pikaboo

Pikachu's Pikaboo

Rating: 5/10

Plot: Some of Ash and Misty’s Pokemon are left alone on a beach, I can only assume because their Trainers are irresponsible, and they go to a mansion and meet some Pokemon who live there. They decide to play Hide and Seek, but the game is interrupted by a psychotic lawnmower.

Breakdown: I only watched this short like once or twice before on my DVD because the disk messed up on the short for some reason. Every time I tried to play it afterward I’d get a stuttering effect. I really don’t remember this short very much…..except for the theme song. The theme song is yet another ear worm that 4Kids forged, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Before we start though….Pikachu’s Pikaboo? First of all, that is an awful pun. Just awful.

Second, I don’t think there’s any worse word you could’ve used to basically toddler-fy this series.

Third….they’re not playing peek-a-boo. I know the phrase is sometimes used in games with hiding, but peek-a-boo is technically an entirely different ‘game’ than what they’re playing, which is Hide and Seek. I don’t expect people playing Hide and Seek to pop out from where they’re hiding to yell ‘peek-a-boo!’

With that out of the way, let’s play Hide and Seek!

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We start out at some unidentified beach where the gang’s Pokemon, at least some of them because screw the others, are playing in the water. Totodile, Bulbasaur, Bayleef, Cyndaquil and Pikachu are present from Ash’s team….no idea why Noctowl isn’t there. I can usually make up an excuse, but for once I have no clue.

From Misty’s team, Togepi and Psyduck are out because they’re always the ones who get let out despite the fact that they’re at a damn beach and Misty’s Pokemon would have the most fun there, but nope. Go to hell Staryu, Poliwhirl, Goldeen and maybe Corsola.

From Brock’s team…..Not a single one. Friggin’ nice, guys. He usually at least chucks Vulpix into the mix, but nope.

Togepi nearly drowns itself because Togepi just likes putting its life in peril, but a passing Wailmer saves it and shoots it up to a passing Yanma who flies it back to the beach.

PS4 - SCREEN1
Eat him, Wailmer! Do the world a favor! No one has to know!

And no it’s never explained as to where Ash and the others are this time nor why they let their Pokemon roam without supervision again. I keep telling you, they’re turning these shorts into Rugrats.

The narrator finally realizes the short has started and we learn that there’s a nearby mansion with a beautiful garden near the beach. The owner, who is never seen (in fact no humans appear in this short at all, as per usual), has three Pokemon who guard it; a Larvitar, a Kecleon and a Granbull, with Larvitar acting as an anal retentive leader.

Pikachu and the others decide to trespass because why not, and while Granbull and Kecleon welcome them, Larvitar becomes annoyed by the group’s intrusion. Granbull calls the other Pokemon on the property, Sunflora, Azurill, Donphan, Sandshrew and Oddish to meet the group.

Pikachu tries to call Larvitar over to play, but he just snubs them and walks off. Granbull then suggests that they play Hide and Seek, Pikachu agrees and grabs a stick to select who will be ‘it’.

He throws it into the air as everyone stands in a circle. Gee I wonder if it’ll land on Pika—Yes, of course it lands on Pikachu. Why would it land on anyone else?

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WHOO!! WE’RE WAY TOO EXCITED FOR THIS! ALRIGHT! YEAH!

We get the aforementioned ear worm theme song “Everybody Hide, ‘Cause Pikachu’s Comin’” I found this song funny because of this one line. “But not just any place, you have to find a space that fits your color and your size!” I’m just imagining little kids singing or playing this song while playing Hide and Seek and looking for places to hide that match their skin color. I can imagine some awkward calls to other parents happening.

The Pokemon start hiding while Pikachu counts. Sunflora tries to find a field of flowers suitable to camouflage in. Kecleon basically cheats by using its camouflaging ability to hide in front of a bird bath. I know it leaves behind a little zig zag stripe so it’s not like he’s completely invisible, but that’s still cheating to me. Bulbasaur hides in the soil of a garden as a plant, and Oddish does the same. Cyndaquil tries to hide between two large pieces of furniture, but Granbull tries to get in too, prompting Cyndaquil to ditch the spot.

I always hated that in Hide and Seek. You find a great spot and then some asshole likes your idea so he tries to muscle in on your spot and forces you to go somewhere else. Pfft.

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Azurill hides underwater in one of the bird baths, and we end on everyone else trying to hide before we finally get our title screen.

Pikachu finishes counting and goes off to find everyone, but Larvitar is not amused.

Cut to Meowth and Wobbuffet who have taken a job at the mansion doing landscaping work….uhh, okay. Why are so many people okay with hiring a talking Meowth to do menial chores? Their lawnmower breaks down, and Meowth takes that as a cue to stop working in the garden.

Back with Pikachu, he’s looking through the garden for the Pokemon and finds Sunflora acting as a regular flower.

Pikachu gets to a yellow brick wall and we see that Sandshrew was pretty clever in using its design to camouflage with the wall. Pikachu catches him anyway, though. Damn ability to see in three dimensions!

He reaches a fountain and spots a weird water spout coming out of the water. He dips his head underwater and sees that Totodile is using Water Gun to make it seem like it’s a spout in the fountain even though there are no other little spouts in the fountain. Pikachu shoves his hands on Totodile’s Water Gun, which is kinda dickish, and calls him out when he emerges.

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“Haha! Nearly murdered you!” “Haha! Must not get upset at this for fear of the repercussions of conflicting with Messiahchu’s wishes!”

We see Larvitar again who spots Donphan rolled up near a pile of tires (again, pretty clever) and when he spots Pikachu at the bottom of the hill, he rolls Donphan down to hit Pikachu….Wow, what an asshole. Pikachu gets out of the way and calls out Donphan, which sucks because he didn’t technically get found.

Narrator: “Now Pikachu’s going for a look inside the mansion!” Wow, thanks Narrator for telling us that thing that we will see happen in literally seconds. Are you just bored and looking for stuff to say at this point?

Pikachu looks around the mansion and spots Togepi on the couch, who only has a suitable hiding spot because, for some reason, the owner has incredibly tacky blankets or pillows that have the exact same color and design scheme as Togepi’s shell.

Next, they find Cyndaquil in the fireplace acting as a fire, which is also kinda clever.

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Back with Larvitar, who is still salty from….I guess just not liking the other Pokemon or fun. He kicks a small rock angrily, and it bounces off Meowth and Wobbuffet’s lawnmower, which suddenly causes it not only start back up again, but also to go on on out of control rampage.

It actually seems to be sentient as it purposely pursues the Pokemon and changes direction when prompted by other Pokemon. Oh yeah….that’s not contrived or anything. I get it, a plot consisting of nothing but Hide and Seek, even for one of the shorts, is pretty damn boring and hard to fill up 22 minutes, but really you couldn’t come up with some other huge crisis besides this ball of stupidity?

The Pokemon all run away from the lawnmower, revealing Bulbasaur and Oddish underground while it causes havoc. I’m glad they got out of there, or this short would have a much higher content rating.

Bulbasaur tries to stop it with its Razor Leaf to no avail, Donphan tries to destroy it with Rollout but it doesn’t even dent it. Wow, where did the owner buy that thing? My dad’s lawnmower is usually defeated by damp soil.

Pikachu decides enough is enough and uses Thunderbolt on it, which actually seems to stop it for a bit, but then it starts back up again.

Oh, but it doesn’t just start back up again. It activates two hidden CHAINSAW ATTACHMENTS! What the unholy hell!? This was contrived enough as it was, but two chainsaws that pop out of the sides? How would that even be useful, let alone safe for landscaping? And why was this little turn of events even needed? Was the lawnmower not scary enough with the razor sharp blades underneath it? Did someone hire Leatherface to do landscaping work? Come on!

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MUAHAH! YOUR WATER GUN CANNOT EXTINGUISH THE FIRES OF HELL THAT ARE COURSING THROUGHOUT MY IGNITION SYSTEM!

Totodile tries it hand at stopping it with Water Gun, but it doesn’t work. Cyndaquil tries stopping it with Flamethrower, but, get this, it continuously dodges Cyndaquil’s attacks on purpose and even manages to get behind him to get the edge. Yeah, sure. Crazy sentient lawnmower now knows basic battle strategies. I’ll believe anything at this point.

Cut back to Meowth and Wobbuffet who just got done sweeping the chimney when Pikachu and the others cross their path. Meowth and Wobbuffet are now being pursued by the lawnmower that can apparently hop across stone slabs now too.

They try to fight it with the little chimney brooms, because that’ll work right? However, the chainsaws destroy the brooms, and the lawnmower knocks both Meowth and Wobbuffet into the air and down the chimney of the mansion. In the process, I guess the lawnmower also breaks off the chainsaw attachments, making those additions even more pointless.

The lawnmower chases the group through a hedge maze for some time before Larvitar helps them out and kicks the lawnmower into one of the walls, supposedly stopping it from continuing its rampage…..uh, I’d try to disable it before walking aw–

The gang then walks away thinking that they’re safe, but then we see the lawnmower break through the hedges…..with BUZZSAW ATTACHMENTS!

Further questions

I mean, really what the hell!? At least chainsaws might be used for some landscaping, even if their existence on the lawnmower is incredibly inefficient and dangerous, but buzz saws aren’t used in landscaping! What purpose do those possibly have on that thing!? Next you’re going to tell me there’s a flamethrower and a BFG on it!

Also, am I the only one freaked out by the fact that we went from our main short issues being, in order, Charizard being stuck in a pipe, making it through a thunderstorm, Pikachu finding its way back to Ash to a murderous sentient lawnmower with chainsaw and buzzsaw attachments? Especially on a short called Pikachu’s Pikaboo? Just seems like a B-movie horror plot is all.

They keep running from the lawnmower and try to hide up a tree, but the lawnmower just saws it down and keeps chasing after them. They reach the beach and trick the lawnmower into flying off a dock and into the water, seemingly stopping its rampage yet again.

Larvitar and Pikachu take a sigh of relief for a second but then realize that horror movie villains always come back from the dead. It rips the dock up with its saws and continues chasing them.

PS4 - SCREEN7
I told them not to build this place so close to Crystal Lake.

The other Pokemon gather some logs to make a track for the lawnmower to follow to lead it away from them, even though I don’t see how that would work considering that it sawed through a huge tree in less than two seconds and reduced a dock to toothpicks a second ago, but whatever. However, Psyduck trips and screws it up, causing it to continue the rampage.

Bayleef, who has been napping this whole time, comes into play by Vine Whipping the handle and throwing the lawnmower back into the track….Why Bulbasaur hasn’t done that this entire time is beyond me.

They continue the track and lead it into some shed, shutting the door behind it. The shed bounces around in a terrible CGI effect that gives us a nice preview to the also awful CGI effects coming in our feature presentation. The bouncing suddenly stops. The door opens and reveals that the lawnmower is now basically destroyed…..…

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Curses….my one weakness….poor writing.

Really?….That’s our climax? The ultimate weapon against that thing….was a shed? It was subject to Razor Leafs, Rollouts, Thunderbolts, Water Guns and being completely submerged in water with little to no issue….yet a track of small logs and a shed defeat Satan’s lawnmower? What a rip off.

The gang cleans up the yard, and Bayleef and Bulbasaur Razor Leaf a design of the Pichu Bros into the hedges…..for…some….reason, and we see that Meowth and Wobbuffet finally made it out of the chimney.

Larvitar picks up the stick from earlier and wants to play Hide and Seek with them this time. They all agree and he throws the stick into the air. Since we see Pikachu actively trying to blow the leaf/indicator on the stick now and Larvitar’s not in the frame, it obviously lands on him this time and he smiles. They go off to hide again as the sun sets, and Ash and Misty never see their Pokemon again.

The End.

I should mention that this is the first time that the short has ever had its credits kept intact. In the other movies, the short’s credits were always put with the ending credits of the movie to keep people from thinking the short was the  movie and had already ended. However, I suppose because this is the first movie that was released on DVD instead of VHS, the magic of DVDs granted them the ability to keep the credits with the short.

I have no clue if it remained this way in theaters because, to the best of my knowledge, it never showed in any theaters near me. This was the first Pokemon movie that I wasn’t able to see in theaters. I don’t have many theaters near me to begin with, but none of them ever showed 4ever and beyond to the best of my knowledge. Some people have told me that they still play Pokemon movies in theaters, but if that’s true I must just live in an area that never gets them.

Bottomline: This short was boring. Cute, and sometimes made me smile with the way that the Pokemon hid themselves, but boring. And even with the INCREDIBLY INSANE AND CONTRIVED lawnmower chase scene, it was still boring mostly because the chase got really old and repetitive even with the craziness of that serial killer lawnmower.

In fact, it really just seems like that whole plot point was shoved in there because they realized Hide and Seek couldn’t fill even half the running time without getting boring. It’s worth one watch just because of how crazy the lawnmower is, but has really no rewatch value.

Recommended Audience: Keep away from children who have completely reasonable and healthy fears of sentient lawnmowers that have several saw attachments and a thirst for blood. But it’s okay for everyone else.

CSBS – Fillmore! Episode 3

CSBS Fillmore episode 3

Plot: While Fillmore deals with a troublemaker named Tony Clementina, all of the books in the library get mysteriously stolen. One bit of evidence points to Clementina, and Fillmore is compelled to believe he’s the culprit. But is he really a lost cause?

Breakdown: The crime this week is pretty outlandish, even for Fillmore. Are you seriously telling me a librarian was so obliviously lost in a book that they didn’t realize every book in the library was being checked out? If they did it book by book, that must’ve taken hours.

Also, the culprit is incredibly obvious from the get-go once you meet him because he’s a bit overly dramatic in his reaction to the crime. Much like the first episode where the culprit is obviously the person who seemingly cares most about what was damaged or stolen.

His plan didn’t even make full sense. He complains about never being able to read the best books in the library because they’re always checked out. He wanted to keep all of the books, especially the best ones, for himself. But how did he plan it to take out the good books too as this mass and sudden book heist was happening if those particular books are always checked out?

There’s also the school-yard forensics going on. Fillmore has had a touch of forensics in their episodes so far, but this one was the first to really get down into it. And I gotta say, this is where any intelligent viewer would constantly call BS. I can handle the inconsistencies, oddities and outlandish goings on in regards to the crimes because that’s what they intend on doing, but a lot of this stuff is hard to swallow.

For instance, I get that Ingrid is a genius, but she can identify custard under a microscope, especially when it’s a year old? She can also microscopically tell the difference between two different salt samples from various brands of pretzels?

Also, they have fingerprinting. This isn’t really entirely out there because, for the most part, a good chunk of actual fingerprinting is done by hand in a visual inspection, so a kid might have the know-how to pull it off, which Tehama seems to be.

Despite realistically having Ingrid struggle for a while to lift the fingerprint properly (even though, after all of those attempts on that mug, all of the prints must’ve been destroyed by the time she was actually able to get one) they have her instantly, and from a distance, match the fingerprint of Fillmore’s with the fingerprint on a soda rocket she found in the gym’s ceiling.

I’m not expecting forensic precision and accuracy with a cartoon, especially one that is obviously embellishing on numerous aspects of school life for the sake of making a police setting possible, but it still catches my eye.

This brings us to the subplot. While the Safety Patrollers are chasing Clementina for an unrelated crime, Ingrid notices a soda can rocket lodged in the ceiling of the gym. Without telling Fillmore, she requests that it be taken down so she can examine it. She discovers that there is custard residue on it and asks around if there have been any incidents involving custard recently.

Tehama tells her that last year, before Ingrid transferred, one of the faculty members was trying to break the world record for largest bowl of custard. As he was trying to empty the last small bowl into the big bowl, the platform the big bowl was sitting on gave way, causing a huge custard flood in the gym.

Tehama points Ingrid in the direction of Fillmore since the brand of soda used in the rocket was only sold in Cleveland, where Fillmore used to live before they moved to wherever this takes place.

She matches Fillmore’s print to one lifted from the rocket, but keeps her findings to herself. However, she finds herself annoyed when he treats Clementina as a ‘lost cause’ when that’s exactly what many people thought, and some still think, of Fillmore back in his troublemaking days.

Fillmore realizes what Ingrid found out and explains what happened. He didn’t cause the custard spill. That truly was an accident caused by a buckling platform.

However, the rocket was his attempt to try to make the spill happen. The platform was already falling when he shot it off, and the angle of the wood sent the rocket into the ceiling, where it stayed for a year. He was caught sometime later on an unrelated but serious charge, and the Safety Patroller who nabbed him gave him an ultimatum – either help him with a case or spend the rest of the school year in detention. He decided to help and turned over a new leaf as a Safety Patroller.

We never learn the name of the Safety Patroller who helped him out, but it’s a decent backstory for Fillmore either way.

I will say that Fillmore is being kinda out of character in this episode. He’s usually not so dismissive of the criminals he deals with. Hell, he had faith in a kid who was so bad that he was isolated from the other kids and had to take his classes in a special prison cell with no one else in the room. Yet he’s now completely ignoring a plethora of hard evidence that full-out proves Clementina didn’t do it just because of one piece of easily planted circumstantial evidence and Fillmore’s seeming vendetta against him. It’s just not like Fillmore is all.

It’s also a bit weird how quickly Clementina turned around. Fillmore changed his ways because someone showed him a better path. Clementina went from a complete asshole criminal who only cared about money and prestige to someone who willingly wants to help the Safety Patrol without even being asked. Fillmore didn’t show him any better way before this point. They were butting heads the whole time up until the climax.

————————–

This episode is just a big mixed bag. I liked the glimpse into Fillmore’s backstory and the case was alright, but I don’t think they did enough with Clementina to really draw the parallels enough for this to be that impacting on Fillmore or the audience. The culprit was pretty obvious, especially since there were far fewer red herrings than normal (let’s see, it’s either the obvious guy everyone’s pointing the finger at immediately or the only other child character who has been prevalent so far. Hm.)

The crime itself was just a bit too far out there to be plausible unless X Middle School has the dumbest librarian ever.

In addition, the forensics stuff is mostly a bit too tough to swallow if you know anything about forensics, though it really is one of those things you just have to let slide for entertainment value. I know I just thought it was cool when I was a kid (and, hell, it sparked an interest in forensics so much that my focus for my degree was forensic psychology) And Fillmore’s on the OOC side in this episode.

Rating: 7/10

Next Episode, who stole the school mascot, Lobstee?

…Previous Episode

Danganronpa The Animation Review

Rating: 8/10

Plot: Fifteen teenagers are accepted into the prestigious Hope’s Peak Academy, but they soon find themselves drugged and sealed within the walls of the empty school….well, empty except for a robotic teddy bear named Monobear who tells them that they’re completely trapped in the school and the only way out is to ‘graduate.’

How do you graduate?

Quite simple, really.

You just have to get away with murder.

Breakdown: This is one of those anime that, when I saw the first episode, I really wanted to finish it as soon as possible….In a good way. This may seem weird, but I actually like stories that involve people being trapped somewhere with a bunch of mysteries to solve and knowing that you can trust no one because they may want you dead. Most importantly, I love murder mysteries, and that’s really what this series is.

Danganronpa The Animation is an anime version of a PSP game of the same name. I’ve never played said game, but I really want to, especially give the fact that the trial format seems a lot like Phoenix Wright to a degree.

Only one person out of all of the students is allowed to ‘graduate,’ and the ‘get away with murder’ aspect is really only keeping the murder a secret from your fellow classmates. Monobear is allowed to know everything and pretty much does know everything due to the cameras that he has placed in nearly every room of the school. I should also mention that he has the students pinned pretty firmly under his…paw.

Spoiler alert: The fish is the mastermind.

 

In addition to the cameras and everything being controlled and monitored through their school-issued PDAs (And the entire school being sealed like a fallout shelter), he also has several methods of instantly punishing students when they break rules. By ‘punish’ I mean ‘brutally murder’.

Also, for a reason not stated until the ending, the police will not come rescue them nor will anyone else come looking for them. They are completely on their own with their only given option to kill someone and get away with it in order to leave.

Once a murder has been committed, the students will have a set amount of time to investigate the murder and examine evidence. Once Monobear feels enough time has gone by, or if he gets bored or impatient, the trial starts.

During the trial phase, Monobear’s role is to sometimes give other information or confirm some suspicions, but, for the most part, he just sits there watching the trial unfold until someone has been pegged as the murderer.

The trials are interesting in that the students vote on who they believe is the culprit after deliberating amongst themselves. Naegi, our main character, is given three ‘verbal bullets’ (Objections to conflicting evidence or testimonies) to use during the trial, except on special occasions when he’s given six. He solves basically all of the cases because…well, main character. However, it’s up to everyone else to vote on who is actually the culprit.

The other interesting part of the trials is in the voting process. The students converse about who they think the killer is. After Naegi’s points, the students usually agree with his decisions, except on a couple occasions, and select the actual culprit. However, there is a very risky part to this trial for everyone involved that adds a lot of stress to the situation.

If the vote is unanimous for a person who did not do it, the people who voted for the innocent person get sentenced to death. So not only does the killer have to worry about getting caught, but everyone else has to worry about not catching the killer.

As a slight spoiler, I will say that this never happens. However, I don’t quite understand how this would pan out. Obviously, the killer would not be sentenced to death no matter who they voted for because that’s the whole point – to frame someone else for the murder or, at the very least, not deny it when someone else is suspected.

If everyone else voted for that innocent person, that means you got away with the murder and would graduate. My question is what happens to the innocent person who was accused? They don’t get sentenced to death, do they? Do they get trapped in the school forever or do they really get killed for no reason?

If most of your classmates vote for the right suspect and a few people vote for the wrong one, the culprit is considered caught and the people who voted for the wrong person are saved by the others voting for the right person.

If the actual culprit is caught, the remaining students get to live, but the killer has to die for getting caught. The punishment phase has an art style all its own with a mixture of CGI and cardboard cutout-like animation. It’s pretty cool, and some of the imagery gets very imaginative. Monobear has set up ironic and incredibly gruesome manners of death for the killers. I can’t really explain what they are because that would spoil the killers’ identities, but they range from really gruesome crazy to really weird crazy.

When the trial is over and the punishment has been done, the surviving students go back to their lives in the school waiting for another murder to occur. If they go too long without murdering one another, Monobear will give extra incentives to ‘graduate.’

That is one of the iffier aspects of this series – visual aspects of the trials. It just seems weird to me that they included the Visual Novel-esque format for their trials. Everywhere else, the intros, clues, evidence etc. are fine but it seems weird to include it in the trials mostly because there’s no really point in showing us the ‘verbal bullets’ or the points where you may find contradictions in someone’s testimony. We aren’t usually given enough time to think about these and it’s not like we’re answering anyway – Naegi is.

I don’t want to spoil this series because I really enjoyed it, so I’ll just be diving into short character descriptions before continuing with a few other points. All of the characters in this series are labeled as being a ‘Super Duper High School (title)’, their main point in excellence that allowed them to enroll in Hope’s Peak, even if some of the titles are kinda silly.

Makoto Naegi – Super Duper High School Luckster: Naegi got into Hope’s Peak through a raffle, earning him the title ‘Super Duper High School Luckster’ as that was really his only notable trait beyond the fact that he’s really optimistic. To be honest, considering the nature of the school, he’s really anything but lucky.

Naegi as our main character is a really good choice. He’s pretty bland, mostly to allow the viewer or player to project their own personality onto him, but also very likable. He seems to find good in everyone no matter the situation. Plus, I love the hell out of that jacket. God, I want that jacket.

Sayaka Maizono – Super Duper High School Idol: The only person that Naegi seems to know out of this whole group, Maizono used to go to Junior high with Naegi, but he never believed she ever noticed him because he was so plain and she was, well, a super duper high school idol. However, she shows that she does indeed remember him and they become friends. They soon rely on each other even more in regards to their situation.

Junko Enoshima – Super Duper High School Model: Not much to say about Junko. She has huge pink pigtails and an attitude. You pretty much want her to die or know she’d have no qualms against killing someone.

Sakura Ogami – Super Duper High School Fighter: Sakura is one of my favorite characters. She looks, sounds and acts like a very muscular guy. In fact, the only reason I questioned her sex at first was because she wore a sailor uniform like female high schoolers typically wear. Despite her intense appearance and her title, Sakura is a very kindhearted girl with a lot of honor. She quickly becomes friends with another female student, Asahina, and their friendship becomes a major point in the series.

Leon Kuwata – Super Duper High School Baseball Star: Leon has a pretty cool character design but a fairly forgettable personality….and might I ask whose big idea was it for him to be wearing a blood stain t-shirt in a murder mystery show?

Celestia Ludenberg – Super Duper High School Gambler: A goth character with one of those weird finger bands that are also blades. Celes remains fairly calm throughout the proceedings as she believes that they need to adapt to their situation to survive instead of playing into Monobear’s hands by actually killing people.

Aoi Asahina – Super Duper High School Swimmer: Aoi is a very strong yet sensitive girl. She tries to remain optimistic despite the horrible situation she’s in and finds great strength in her friendship with Sakura. Despite this, the numerous murders and deaths take a toll on her resolve.

Kyoko Kirigiri – Super Duper High School Detective: Kirigiri’s title is actually not given in the beginning like the others. She’s merely labeled ‘Super Duper High School ???’ until later on. This may be a spoiler, but not really. Kirigiri herself is a rather mysterious girl throughout most of the series. She’s constantly running off from the group to find evidence and explore the school for clues, causing many of her classmates to be suspicious of her during many of the murder trials. She’s quite obsessed with finding out who the mastermind is behind the school.

Kiyotaka Ishimaru – Super Duper High School Prefect: Ishimaru is one of the more entertaining of the bunch. He really, truly, seriously lives up to his title because he is obsessed with being a model student, rule follower, everything. No matter the situation they’re in, he wants to follow the straight and narrow. Ishimaru also has a really freaky character design. By all accounts, it’s insanely tame compared to the others, but dammit his eyes and eyebrows. Geez.

Yasuhiro Hagakure – Super Duper High School Shaman: Despite his title, he never does much in terms of fortune telling in the series. Hagakure is a very friendly individual, but also somewhat panicky and nervous and dear lord look at his hair. That is some hair right there. Damn.

Hifumi Yamada – Super Duper High School Fanfic Maker: Yamada is….something else. He’s fat and creepy. That’s about it. He falls over himself to cater to the whims of people like Celes and comes off as a bit of a perv. He’s also an anime nut who has a thing for fanart of pretty girls.

Touko Fukawa – Super Duper High School Bookworm: Fukawa is incredibly annoying as she’s panicky, extremely paranoid and is constantly shaking and accusing people of things. She also never seems to have her own opinions as she’ll blindly follow quite literally any line of reasoning in the trials, causing her vote to switch back and forth whenever there’s a new point brought up. Doesn’t help at all that she essentially stalks and lusts over another character named Togami. She also harbors a secret that makes her much more entertaining and tolerable.

Byakuya Togami – Super Duper High School Scion: Kaiba—Excuse me, Togami is an heir to an extremely powerful corporation run by his proud Togami family. Togami is a very stone-faced individual who is constantly butting heads with nearly everyone. The only one he seems to get along with in the least is Naegi and that’s only because he seems to subtly respect Naegi’s deduction skills.

Despite this, they’re no where near ‘friends.’ That also doesn’t change the fact that he’s an asshole. You know how I just explained how I find Fukawa really annoying? Well, he basically does nothing but throw really cruel insults her way and even I was feeling bad for her. Don’t feel too bad though as she turns everything Togami says into a compliment since she has a huge crush on him. Togami also never really gets better in his attitude as episodes go on, but he is just as determined as Kirigiri to find out who is behind this.

Mondo Owada – Super Duper High School Outlaw Biker: Owada’s also kinda hard to like and look at his ultra-Kuwabara hairdoo. Dang.

Anyway, as you’d expect from a gang member, he’s extremely abrasive and picks a lot of fights, even knocking out Naegi at one point. His anger is what first showcases Monobear’s true hold on everyone as Owada tries to attack Monobear, but his defense mechanisms caused him to explode. Owada was unharmed because he threw Monobear before he exploded, but it displayed one of the primary rules of the school – do not attack the principal (Monobear). He gets better later on, however, as he finds a weird friendship or brotherhood in Ishimaru.

Chihiro Fujisaki – Super Duper High School Programmer: Fujisaki is a very timid and seemingly weak individual. She harbors more than one secret that will be both very useful and very devastating to the entire class.

Monobear: Monobear is a very entertaining antagonist. His design is also pretty cool. Half is a white teddy bear, the other is a black psychotic looking bear with sharp teeth. Monobear seems really entertained when a murder occurs, but gets bored easily when nothing is happening or when the trials are going on for too long.

His mastermind controls nearly everything in the school. He has cameras practically everywhere and everything is monitored through electronic access. He also has guns and other booby traps placed in some areas of the school to prevent rule breaking. Despite being entertaining, he’s not a very impressive antagonist as it’s shown that it’s not necessarily difficult to make him lose his cool.

This series has many twist and turns and interesting cases as well as a very intriguing storyline. I greatly enjoyed the murder mysteries, the atmosphere and the mystery behind the school as a whole. Most of the characters are very likable and entertaining. Even the ones who got on my nerves didn’t manage to press their luck too much. Togami was really the only one who stayed on my dislike fully list because of his damn pride and arrogance.

If there is one glaring flaw with this show, it’s the fact that, unlike other mystery shows like Detective Conan, you’re not given much of an opportunity to solve the mysteries with Naegi. Yes, almost every piece of evidence that Naegi uses to solve the crime is given before the trial, but there are some moments of unfair revelations in terms of using information that is somehow available to Naegi but not to the viewer.

In addition, you’re just given the pieces of evidence and not given any hints as to why these items may be significant. I’m not saying hold our hands and walk us through everything, that takes away the fun of the mystery, but at least give us enough information to allow us to figure out why certain pieces of evidence are important.

While you may believe that being trapped in a school isn’t really grounds for murder, especially multiple and gruesome murders, Monobear gives the students several incentives to prompt them to commit these murders such as the promise of large amounts of money, showing them threatening and real situations involving their loved ones, threatening to expose deep secrets and even placing a mole within the group who has been tasked to kill someone if no murders occur for long periods of time.

I honestly didn’t see the ending twist coming, and it was really clever. While I didn’t see it coming, it did answer a question that I had nagging in my head about a very early death in the series. However, I will give points off for the ending a bit. I mentioned before that objections in this series are called ‘verbal bullets’ or just ‘ammunition.’ Well, let’s just say the finale involves Naegi shooting bullets of literal hope at people. Cheesy as hell, but I’ll allow it.

Art and Animation: The art is wonderful and very stylized. Some character designs are a little too crazy for my taste, and sometimes it really seems like they’re using character design to make up for lack of real personality, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the designs are really memorable and appealing.

The animation is good. It feels visual-novel-y sometimes, but nothing terribly noticeable. The punishment sequences in particular are really done well.

CGI is integrated very well in various other aspects of the series as well.

As a final note, and I’m not entirely certain if this is the same in every version, but the blood in this series is ‘censored’ to be bright pink and it kinda distracts from the show a bit. Looks like everyone’s bleeding gel pen ink.

Music: The music is great. I love the OP and ED, and both are incredibly addictive. They also do this cool bit at the end that shows Naegi in a classroom and each episode that has a death introduces one more person to the picture. They also add an 8-bit intro to the ending that is pretty neat.

Bottomline: If you like murder mystery shows or video games, or if this sort of set up appeals to you at all, check it out. The ending cheese is really the only slightly major issue I have with it. I loved it, and I look forward to checking out the continuations.

Additional Information and Notes: Danganronpa the Animation was produced by Lerche, producers of Persona 4: The Animation and Kino’s Journey. It was directed by Seiji Kishi, director of My Bride is a Mermaid, Angel Beats and Persona 4: The Animation.

Episodes: 13

Year: 2013

Recommended Audience: Boy this plot sounds like Sesame Street doesn’t it? You have psycho killers, large amounts of hot pink paint—I mean ‘blood’, depictions, explanations and scenes of murder plus several shots of corpses that have usually been killed in pretty awful manners. No nudity, no sex, no swearing I don’t believe. 14+

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Zeke’s Pad

Plot: Zeke Palmer has a magic electric drawing pad that allows him to alter reality and create things from thin air just by drawing them.

Breakdown: It’s like Chalkzone mixed with Fairly Odd Parents only not nearly as imaginative, funny, or with as much freedom.

The end

I know, I’ve done similar bits before, but it’s true. This concept, on paper (….puns?), is a very good one that hasn’t been done to death but has been done, ala Chalkzone. But its execution here is just plain not good.

First and foremost, this is not an origin story episode. Which is….alright, because we can get the gist of the main plot from the theme song and the episode itself. Zeke has some sort of tablet (called ‘the pad’. How creative) that can create anything he draws. It seems like this ‘power’ is a secret, but I don’t really know. His best friend knows, and that’s all I got.

The origins of the pad are rushed through in the theme song and still make no sense. An electronic drawing pad was being assembled at a factory when the machine suddenly malfunctioned and caused lots of sparks and….magic? The machine threw it out, seeing it as defective, but it bounced out of the bin and out the window where Zeke caught it, somehow instantly knew its powers and how to use it and used to it get away from a dog that was chasing them…..Okie.

Next, Zeke is bland and forgettable with his only notable traits being that he’s lazy, selfish and inconsiderate. Because that’s what I want in my main character – unlikable traits.

To give you the low down, let’s go through Zeke’s actions throughout the course of the episode.

We spend well over two minutes hearing him bitch and moan and have a breakdown over having porridge for breakfast yet again. Apparently his insanely neurotic mother makes it every single day. However, this ‘joke’ has no real setup because we don’t go in knowing this and the joke runs for way too long and amounts to nothing.

After he has a minor porridge breakdown, he bitches and moans that they never have something good like pancakes for breakfast. Aw, poor baby. Your loving mother takes the time out to make you breakfast every morning and it’s not what you want. If you want pancakes, get off your ass and make them.

And he takes my advice…..by going to his room and drawing a huge pile of pancakes on the pad, which materialize before him. And by ‘huge pile’ I mean he stockpiles his room nearly to the ceiling with pancakes and he chows them all down….without syrup or butter. I know that would be messy, but without syrup or butter, you might as well be eating mattress foam.

He gets a huge gut because of this, and, continuity honored, his gut stays this way for the entirety of the episode. However, he completely fails a fitness test at school because of it. Why the hell would you draw a room full of pancakes to eat when you have a fitness test that day? Huge gut and cartoonish appetite aside, eating even a regular helping of pancakes before strenuous exercise would make me feel like garbage.

He got the worst grades on the test in school history, so he’s sent to a fitness camp to bulk up and pass. He exercises a little and gets so fed up with the whole thing that he draws a hot air balloon to escape, but drew it with a nearly empty fuel gauge and crashes…..Yeah, don’t ask me why he did that. He brings it up (“I had to draw it with a FULL fuel gauge?!”) but it still makes no sense (Why would you draw it with an empty gauge to begin with?….or a fuel gauge at all?). Anyway, he makes it home and obviously gets found out because his crazy camp counselor instantly finds he’s escaped, goes straight to his house, searches it and finds Zeke.

That was a pointless waste of time because of stupid, by the way. Of course they’d find out and call his parents. Of course they’d look for him. Of course the first place they’d look is his house. Maybe they wouldn’t practically break in and search without asking permission, but they wouldn’t just leave him be. And he knows this camp is necessary to get him a passing grade, so he should know escaping is pointless. If he were smart, he’d draw a way to make the camp or test easy as hell to pass. Hell, he has reality altering powers, just draw a test with an A grade on it.

Also, just to get this plot hole/annoyance out of the way, Zeke’s father, despite hearing that Zeke has to fitness camp to pass his test, for some reason thinks it’s ridiculous that Zeke would be a camper at a fitness camp and that him, being an artist, must be at an art camp. Even after telling him that and being found at the house, escaping from the fitness camp, Zeke exclaims later that his dad still thinks he’s at art camp…..Is his dad an idiot or is this very poorly written? I can’t tell.

Zeke recruits his best friend, Jay, in the middle of the night to help him pass his test. He claims he can’t just draw himself before he ate all those pancakes,because going back, deleting and erasing  always goes horribly wrong. We just have to take his word for it, but uh…..just draw yourself in a fit way you’ve never been. That way it’s an alteration not a redo or a deletion. It’s not that hard.

Just a note, Jay does not help him at all. Not for lack of trying or because Jay’s a bad friend, but because he has no way of helping him. Zeke has the pad and Jay could easily give him advice over the phone, but he begs him to put aside his studying for an algebra exam to help him at the camp and he, reluctantly, goes. When Zeke’s pad gets taken away by the counselor, they both sneak into his office to get it, but it’s entirely unnecessary for Jay to be there. He doesn’t do anything because there’s nothing for him to do. He does point out that Zeke is running away faster than he is and asks if he’s been working out, but bite me Zeke’s Pad. There’s no way a day and half of moderate exercise with a huge gut hanging over his pants made him fit enough for there to be any noticeable improvement.

When he gets his pad back, he thinks of the perfect solution. He draws them at Art Camp, which alters reality….somehow, to making everything an art test and art challenges, which Zeke excels at.

The only repercussions of Zeke’s selfish and lazy actions is that Ike, his older jock brother who both gave him the initial fitness test and worked as a counselor at the fitness camp, is still rough on him, they have to draw Ike in his boxers (Jay’s still at the camp because of no reason whatsoever.) and Zeke’s mom makes him pancakes when he gets home as a gift for passing his test, which, wahmp wahmp, makes Zeke freak out….Also, he’s instantly thin again when he changes the camp to an art camp…..continuity makes sense, right!?

Nothing about this episode was funny. Not a damn thing made me even want to put effort into moving my lip muscles. I’m watching a lazy inconsiderate idiot get himself into trouble, easily get out of it and get what he wants all the while bothering his friends and scarily manipulating reality and those around him. Not to mention a total lack of a lesson being learned or comeuppance for his behavior. He could at least have done something nice for someone else with that pad (like, maybe something to help Jay with his algebra test), but he just uses it stupidly for stuff he wants and is too lazy to do himself.

There’s also a subplot with the rest of his forgettable family with his mother making them work out and eat healthy non-stop. It goes the way you think and ends the way you think.

The jokes they attempt have no thought put into them. Most of them are unfunny slapstick gags, burp jokes and a fart joke, the rest is just cartoon zaniness in how quickly and sporadically they move, which may as well be slapstick.

As an artist who would value this power like a gift from the gods, it bugs the hell out of me that this is such wasted potential. I would love another Chalkzone-esque show. It allows for such amazing creative freedom in plots, characters and powers. However, it is just not used well here. There are vague and undefined restrictions by default and they can’t use the power many times because the thing needs to be charged.

Not to mention the fact that there’s no artistic merit going into these drawings. We never see him actually ‘draw’ anything. We get some weird overdone transition, see the finished drawing for about a second and then cut to the thing appearing or reality changed. We don’t even see him draw anything for the hell of it or at all despite the fact that people keep saying he’s creative and loves to draw.

Even in the very end where he gets his altered test to draw Ike, we don’t get to see him draw or see his finished drawing. This is a show based around art-fueled powers….with no art.

Speaking of art, the CGI cel-shaded art for the show is really blah with no real style to it. The colors are bright and appealing, but that’s about it. These graphics look pretty dated for a show that was supposedly made in 2010, and the animation, while not having many errors, doesn’t have a good fluidity about it. Half the time it’s jarring shifts and the other it’s slow moving in a sliding fashion.

The music’s alright, but forgettable. I listened to the theme song three times just five minutes ago and I’ve already forgotten it.

Final Verdict:

750spsl

Two-dimensional characters with the MC having no real good traits conveyed so far, poorly written story structure and dialogue, no good jokes and a complete waste of a fairly good plot and you leave me with no reason to want to continue.

Also, in spite of the fact that this show won two Elan awards for Best Animation TV Production and Art Direction, this show only lasted one season. Hm.

Golan the Insatiable Review

Rating: 7.5/10

Plot: In season one, Godlord Golan is sent to earth from his home dimension of Gkrool after a rebellion uprising hurls him through a portal. He lands in the Beekler home where he lives with his acolyte, a goth girl named Dylan, as they wreak havoc across Oak Grove, Minnesota.

In season two, Golan is summoned to earth by Dylan after she finds an ancient demonic tome in the basement of her mother’s workplace. Golan returns to his home dimension shortly after only to find it has been taken over by his acolyte, Kruung, who sends the demons of the dimension after Golan. He returns to earth after fleeing the demons and wishes to take over our world instead in hopes of one day creating an army that can combat Kruung back in his own dimension.

Breakdown: I really didn’t expect to ever like this series based on the premise, but I actually got into it quite a bit. I like dark comedies when they’re not being overly gross or seeming like they’re gunning for pure shock humor, like Mr. Pickles, a show that can die in a the hottest of hell’s fire. Granted, there is a lot of maiming, murder and rape implications, but it’s not usually so in your face about it that it put me off very much.

Dylan really came out being the best character to me through both seasons as they mostly kept her character consistent in how ridiculously ‘evil’ yet still somewhat realistic she really is. I love watching her do pretty much anything as you can guarantee that the contrast between her and her environment will be pretty stark. Plus her dialogue is usually pretty funny in that she’s constantly trying to overly exaggerate her words like she’s a villain. Think Zim from Invader Zim only as a small goth girl and much more violent. She has an unhealthy obsession with demonic forces, gross things and overt violence, and quite a few times she gets in on the maiming and murder.

Golan can also be a lot of fun and pretty funny, but season two kinda butchered him a bit for me. More on that later.

Long story short, I really liked season one a lot more than season two, and not in the usual way that works.

As you can probably tell from the plot synopsis, the second season isn’t really a continuation. It’s a complete reboot. The first season consisted of six ten minute long episodes and when the second season was picked up by FOX, they extended the episodes to 22 minutes and gave the entire series a reboot. From what I’ve heard, the creators deem the second season as the more legit first season while the ‘first season’ is really a series of shorts. Which is a shame because I really believe this series worked best in the first format.

In season one, Golan acts much more like you’d expect a ‘fish out of water’ demonic godlord to act. He makes overly dramatic statements, threatens a lot of people and does a lot of horrible things without thinking any of it is a big deal. Despite the fact that human stuff like watching TV, hanging out with the cool kids and fitting in does appeal to Golan, his first and foremost duty is being the demonic godlord that he is, wreaking havoc and trying to take over the world.

In season two, Golan basically got neutered. Golan is now more ‘human’ though more ‘partier’ human than he has any right to be. Dylan pretty much has to drag him on evil adventures all the time instead of him being proactive in his demonic duties, which is lame. If he is being proactive in that duty, it’s usually for some human related selfish end.

He’s also gotten a voice change, which does not work for him. Before, he had a very ‘monster’ like voice that was gruff and gurgly, performed by series’ creator Josh Miller. In the second season, he pretty much just has a slightly gruff human voice done by Rob Riggle. When old Golan would get ‘demonic’ he didn’t need to have any audio alterations done to his voice to make him seem any more menacing because his voice was just fine for it. Now they have to give him the stereotypical ‘devil’ filter.

Dylan is mostly the same, but now she is also a bit more human and has a seeming excuse written in for her odd and hateful behavior. Her dad’s either dead or not around. In the first season, Dylan had a dad, Richard, a really conservative somewhat doormat of a dad who served as more or less foil for Golan. In season two, he doesn’t exist. It’s never explained what happened to Dylan’s dad or even if Richard is the dad in this series, but they imply that he either died (of Robot AIDs) or left the family.

Dylan is still the best character in both versions, working off Golan and utilizing her personality pretty well, but the fact that they changed her story in season two kinda makes it less fun. I mean, her becoming a hateful death and demon obsessed sociopathic goth is just a bit sad when it’s partially because she feels lonely and lacks a father figure, which only gets worse in the season two finale. In season one, it’s funnier because you just think she’s a bit of a psycho kid with a legit passion for this stuff.

Carole, Dylan’s mom, stays roughly the same, but she’s crazier and more sexually frustrated somehow despite being a single mother who has no problem offering up her sexuality to people.

Dylan’s older sister, Alexis, is kept the same through versions, but the new animation style basically makes her look crazy. She can’t say a sentence without flipping her head or making big gestures. This might be a play on how overly dramatic some teens are, but it just seems more annoying than anything and this style is eventually applied to basically anyone, especially Carole.

Speaking of the new animation style, while you could argue that there is more detail and fluid animation in season two, I preferred season one’s. It was a bit on the rough jutting side, but it was fine. In the second season, everything’s a bit too animated. People don’t move their bodies that much when they’re just talking. It’s distracting and, like I previously mentioned, sometimes annoying.

Despite the fact that the characters are made slightly more human in the second season, the dark humor also gets amped up a bit. Like MacKenzie B and her friends are all viciously murdered in episode one and a baby is killed by either car crash or being burned alive in episode two. Yeah, Golan killed some people in season one, but for the most part he just maimed lots of people. Not that it really matters anyway since MacKenzie B is miraculously alive and well in episode two.

The finale with Keith’s background is even more confusing. They explain in a flashback that Dylan used to be a perfectly normal sweet pink dress and bow wearing little girl who used to be best buddies with Keith, Alexis’ boyfriend, after her dad ‘went away’ as a way for her to have a male role model. However, Alexis became his girlfriend and he never did stuff with Dylan again, causing her to become the evil and violence-obsessed goth girl she is today. It also explains that the teardrops (season one)/slash marks (season two) on the bottom of her eyes are actually scars as a result of her tearing at her eyelids when Keith was taken away from her.

It was never implied at all that Keith used to be Dylan’s best buddy nor that Keith felt bad about abandoning Dylan back then nor that Dylan had any lasting trauma from it. In fact, he’s made fun of Dylan right to her face several times before this revelation, yet suddenly he’s like ‘Oh…hi Dylan’ after that flashback and she huffs in response. It was nice to give Keith some backstory, but that was one of the sloppiest ways to shoehorn in such a story thread, not that they do much with this anyway in the grand scheme of things.

Not to mention, there have been numerous times where Dylan’s given zero shits about possibly losing Golan, even in similar circumstances, but the concept of such a thing in this episode is inconceivable to her just because it’s matching almost exactly how she lost Keith.

A character named Swingly is introduced in the finale of the first season as a spastic and odd little boy that Dylan develops a crush on. In season two, he’s basically the same. He’s pretty entertaining in his own right in both versions, even if they recycle several jokes of his between versions, but in the end of his only part in season two, they make him gay and give him a boyfriend, subsequently crushing Dylan’s first crush. I’m perfectly fine with making him gay, but it just seemed like such a dick move, writing-wise, to Dylan. They could’ve done a lot more with that pairing, but they just decided to scrap it. It’s even worse considering there are so few people Dylan actually likes.

Another strike against season two is the fact that the citizens of the town are way crazier than they were before, and some of them even possess supernatural powers. The thing that made season one so funny was the stark contrast between how evil and crazy Dylan and Golan were in comparison to the rest of the normal citizens in the world. Yet they were also pretty much accepting what Golan and Dylan were doing as if it were somewhat normal or, for comparison sake, like it’s a rambunctious child with an imaginary friend, only magnified.

If you make everyone else just as crazy and weird, while also making it so nothing has consequences (like MacKenzie B coming back to life) and other people having supernatural powers (like the doctor being able to time travel; almost certain that’s not a Doctor Who reference) then it makes it much less funny. It’s just a town of crazy people with a demon and an ‘evil’ little girl as the main characters. Added to the fact that Golan is made more human in the second season just basically waters down season two entirely. It still has its moments, but they lost much of what made it funny to begin with.

This also makes Dylan’s issues seem a little moot. Yes, she’s still quite a bit different from the other kids, but since so many people are so crazy and everyone sees them as normal, it makes her problem of feeling alone and misunderstood because she’s so different seem like less of an issue because, really, she’s not so different. Though considering, as of the finale, she has three major ‘tragic backstory’ reasons behind her behavior, I guess even this point is moot.

As a contrasting example, in season one, Dylan and Golan are trying to capture the tooth fairy. Dylan’s dad, the one who’s really been leaving money under her pillow, gets his arm caught in a bear trap that Golan left under the pillow to catch the tooth fairy. As he’s writhing in pain, he decides to keep up the charade of the tooth fairy by saying he was stealing the money she left behind instead of revealing that the tooth fairy isn’t real.

It’s important to note that the parents are the only ones who put value in Dylan’s belief in the tooth fairy, since they believe it’s normal for kids to believe in that stuff and revealing the truth too soon in their lives might be heartbreaking. Dylan doesn’t really care if she’s real one way or another, and the only reason they’re trying to capture her in the first place is because Golan wants to bone her.

His ridiculous and misguided sacrifice is for the sake of their view of normalcy, and that’s what makes it funny. If this was some crazy character hollering and jumping around then falling down or exploding or something, this whole scene would be boring.

Another good example of this is the running gag in season one where Golan keeps hitting on and making sexual references to Alexis and Carole. It’s funny because Alexis hates Golan and it’s also somewhat offensive considering she’s right on the border of legal age. It’s funny with Carole because she’s married and is obviously sexually frustrated while being attracted to Golan, as evidenced by her spicy Golan fanfiction. However, she can’t bring herself to just do it with Golan because she is loyal to her husband.

In the fourth episode of season two? Both Alexis and Carole blurt out that they’ve had sex with Golan, and both times were never mentioned or ‘shown’ on screen. So yeah, they basically just burnt that joke to make a not-really-joke. The reason they said it was because she was comparing the pain of breaking her arm to the pain of having sex with Golan…..Not like it would’ve still been funny with Carole anyway since she seems to be a freer sexual being who is now single.

Season two’s run time is also a problem for me. The first season’s episodes were all between 10 and 11 minutes long, which I found perfect for this type of formula. This show doesn’t really call for intricate storylines and extended plot elements. 10 to 11 minutes is all it really needed to tell the specific story it wanted to tell while keeping up the pacing just fine.

In the second season, the episodes are extended to 22 minutes, and I can’t say I was a fan of the change. It just seems like, for the stories it presented, except maybe the pilot, 22 minutes was too long. It felt like the stories dragged on for a bit and tried to fill up extra time with sideplots that usually didn’t work very well.

FOX has officially canceled the series after it spent about a year in hiatus hell, which is a shame because I have faith that this series could’ve been something pretty great if it had more of an opportunity to get its footing in the new format.

Is it perfect? No. I wouldn’t even go so far as to say it’s really entirely great, but it has quite a few memorable moments and lines and you can have a ton of fun with the characters, especially in the first season.

As a final note, here are my favorite and least favorite episodes of both seasons.

Season 1 Favorite: Dylan Crushes Reading – Swingly is a very entertaining character, and his weird mannerisms and personality are perfect alongside Dylan’s. Plus, the plotline with her being unable to read is handled in a very funny fashion.

Season 1 Least Favorite: A Pox on Your Pox – I didn’t like how Golan was treating Dylan during this entire episode. I know that seems like a weird thing to say considering he’s a demonic godlord, but he was just being a dick for most of this episode. Plus, it was kinda light on jokes that really worked.

Season 2 Favorite: Shell Raiser – It involves a bacteria ridden turtle with a sawblade taped to its back getting a magically possessed arm by a stoner that peer pressures Golan into messing up his and Dylan’s latest plot of infecting a huge vat of chili with turtle bacteria by pushing him into smoking weed. I don’t feel I need to say anything else.

Season 2 Least Favorite: On Golan Pond – This was one episode in the entire series that I pretty much hated. Golan sheds his skin and becomes a little chibi version of himself for 24 hours, leaving Dylan to protect him in the middle of the woods while they’re on vacation. He eventually gets taken by a mama wolf who sees him as one of her own. He then proceeds to treat the runt of the litter, a pup he calls ‘Runty’, like garbage.

Runty, starving partially because of Golan taking the last teat, licks up some of Golan’s blood and becomes a monster bent on killing Golan. He is then killed by Dylan and his heart is ripped out and eaten by her. So, yeah, the only two jokes in there are Golan being cute and cuddly and treating a dying wolf pup like crap before viciously killing him.

Oh and there’s a stupid subplot about Carole deciding to let loose with Keith’s partier parents and falling in love with a Party Bot. Reminded me somewhat of that Futurama episode where Bender doesn’t want to get an upgrade.

Recommended Audience: There are rape implications and some sexual content, but no real sex scenes, nudity and so forth. There is swearing slung around, but surprisingly not a whole lot considering the subject matter. People get killed and maimed quite a bit, and there are several instances of animal abuse. 16+