Anamorphosis no Meijuu (Manga) Review

Rating: 5/10

Plot: There’s a new game show that is supposedly causing real deaths. Contestants are invited to spend 48 hours in a building that is reported to be haunted by the spirit of an actor who died on set due to a tragic accident. His spirit appears to others in the form of a giant monster in the same design as a monster costume he was wearing at the time of his death. Is there really a spirit behind the scenes or is all just camera tricks?

…..Oh and the second half of the manga is pure mind-fuckery in the form of numerous short stories.

Breakdown: Warning – This manga’s content is extremely graphic. Thus, discussing it involves some more graphic language than usual. Reader discretion is advised.

…….I can’t remember what happiness feels like….I can taste my thoughts…..I can hear colors…….what the unholy hell….did I just read?

I started reading Anamorphosis no Meijuu around Halloween last year, but never got around to finishing it for Animating Halloween. Well, I picked it back up and…..read the words….and….looked at the pictures….and comprehended….some….things. Mostly I just feel dirty.

You might be thinking I’m overreacting a lot for a manga that I’m awarding a fairly decent score, but you have understand my reasoning with this.

This manga throws you for one hell of a loop. For one half of the manga, you’re reading a linear plotline about the above story. It’s intriguing, has a lot of great twists and ends on a confusing, but very creative and satisfactory note.

The second half of the manga is made up of short stories, which only take up about eight to ten pages each. Every short story is incredibly graphic in nearly every way. Sexual content, nudity, rape, bestiality, lots of gore, cannibalism, and just complete mind-fuckery.

To give you an idea, I will summarize each plot in one sentence. Spoilers.

Bishoujo Tentei Tentai Sagiri: A teenage detective tries to clear someone of murder charges by turning herself into an electromagnet by wrapping herself in electrical wiring and having someone put a metal dildo into her.

Rainy Girl: A girl who is cursed to bring rain wherever she goes, indoors or out, is kidnapped by a man who introduces her to a man with the same powers who rapes her over and over until they breed an army of rain-producing babies.

Small Present: A couple keeps getting leftovers given to them by their neighbor, and they keep eating them until it’s revealed that the neighbor is a serial killer who targets children, chops them up, and cooks them into meals.

Hikikomori: A girl investigates why all of the students in her school are shut-ins, only to find that all of them are insanely fat monsters who are so large they can have sex with each other over their balconies without moving from their bedrooms.

Behind: A girl has a surgical instrument left in her, and after it’s removed everyone starts finding their lost junk in her stomach cavity.

Previous Life: A girl and a spiritualist make a business out of turning people into various animals and occupations by telling their past lives to overhunt the specified animal or person. This is an extra sentence, but the spiritualist rapes his dog for absolutely no reason in this story.

Salesman: A girl cannot seem to save anyone attempting to commit suicide by jumping since she has the spirit of a sumo wrestler with her that keeps pushing these people, resulting in their deaths.

Changes: A girl wakes up one day and finds her nipple has been replaced with a mouth.

Weightlessness: Why the fuck is there an easily accessible button to open a window on a space station?

If I lead you to believe any of these aren’t that crazy, I am sorry. It is…trippy. It’s certainly an experience. I’m not sure what kind of experience, but it is one.

There are several positives that I can lend this manga. Despite shading issues and some craggy lines, the artwork is disgustingly detailed and done in a more realistic style to up the gross-out factor. If you’re going to do this type of story, you really need the artwork to back it up. While I think it could be polished more, it definitely gets the job done.

If anything, these stories are all very creative…..fucked up beyond belief sometimes, but very creative. This manga will never steer you into tropes or leave you with a feeling of predictability. It’s wondering if the turns you took ripped a part of your soul away that pays for that luxury.

Finally, this manga is, admittedly, downright entertaining, purely because of how insane and ridiculous it is. There are many parts that are hard to sit through, certain pages that are damn near nauseating, but I found myself oddly intrigued by how bat-shit this manga kept proving to be. I’m almost disappointed in the ending because it’s by far the most benign story.

If you have a stomach for extreme content and are, for some reason, intrigued by this manga after everything I’ve told you, by all means, give it a shot. It will be a roller coaster ride that will leave you with some bruising and mental trauma, but it’s definitely a ride.

If you’re not ready to fully bite the bullet, though, just read the first half of the manga. The content in that story really isn’t too bad and the story is more toned down, but still well-written and interesting.

If you’re squeamish or have any of that stuff called ‘innocence’, please run far away.

Additional Information and Notes:

Anamorphosis no Meijuu was written and drawn by Shintaro Kago.

Volumes: 1

Chapters: 10

Year: 2008 – 2010

Recommended Audience: About as graphic as you can get. Very detailed depictions of sex (genitalia included), rape, possible statutory rape, bestiality, birth, cannibalism, extreme gore including children and babies, swearing – you name it, they probably have it. 18+

Hell Girl Episode 4: Silent Cries Review

Hell Girl Ep 4

Plot: Junko is heartbroken when her beloved dog and only family, Candy, dies on the operating table at the vet. She believes her vet, Dr. Hanjo, did everything in his power to save her, but finds out that he neglected Candy’s care, causing her to die unnecessarily.

Breakdown: I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it – I cannot stand stories about animal abuse or animal deaths or whatnot. It is my one weakness in my watchings. I will fast forward through episodes that focus on it or have it in there, and I have straight out skipped over episodes entirely because of it.

I can proudly say I only fast forwarded through about two or three minutes of the episode. Go me.

I realize some people don’t put as much stock in the importance of pets as I do, but I truly do find animal abusers to be some of the lowest, most evil scum the world has ever shat out, and they don’t deserve any better treatment than they give to those animals.

Oh right, I’m watching Hell Girl, so I’ll get my wish. Yay!

There’s no denying that this doctor deserves to go to hell, but he’s almost comical in how evil he is. He’s not just neglectful, he will purposely give crappy treatment to animals and report that he’s doing everything he’s supposed to be doing in his paperwork. He’s not lazy either, because he obviously does such good work for the famous and rich clients that he has. He just doesn’t care about the animals with owners who can’t pay as much or don’t have any power.

This is another story with a rather silly reason for committing the crime. He failed to properly treat Candy while she was on the table because he was too busy chatting on the phone to some congressman or something about going golfing. Even in spite of his assistant trying to get his attention, he ignored her, canceled appointments and let Candy die just to talk on the phone about golf.

Junko is rightfully pissed when the assistant tells her what happened and explains what kind of doctor Hanjo really is. This situation is even worse for Junko because Candy was literally her only family. Her parents died some time ago and all she had left in the world was her dog. Now, Junko is all alone.

I will also slightly disagree with Junko being the client here. Hasn’t the poor kid been through enough? She’s an orphan who just lost her beloved dog who also happened to be her only family. Now she’s damned to hell once she dies, meaning she’d never be able to reunite with her parents or her dog.

I don’t want to be mean here, but I almost wish the client had been the assistant. She was partially responsible for Candy’s death – she openly admits it. If she had been more stubborn in getting Dr. Hanjo off the phone or if she had tried to do something for the dog, Candy might not be dead. I understand that, as an assistant, she only has so much training, but surely there had to have been something she could’ve done. She literally just stood there and said ‘Doctor….’ over and over while he chatted away.

She’s also known that Hanjo has been doing shady crap like this for years and hasn’t done anything about it. I get that she was in a terrible situation – she didn’t want to lose her job or have Hanjo tarnish her rep – but this is one circumstance where the client would’ve somewhat kinda-ish deserved to go to hell, at least over Junko.

It would’ve been clever if the show kept us in the dark as to who the client was and tricked us into thinking it was Junko then revealed it was the assistant. Then maybe Junko could strive to be a vet to help animals and make up for the damage Hanjo did while simultaneously making Candy, her parents and the assistant proud? Maybe the assistant could’ve helped her with her studies to also make amends for her ‘sins’?

As for the torture segment, it was alright, but the more sadistic side of me would’ve liked to have seen more physical torment. One of the dogs he was treating was in a car accident and hurt its leg. He put off giving the dog a much-needed surgery because he had more influential clients to provide house calls to. Because he didn’t get the surgery right away, his healing process was slower and the leg wasn’t healing as well as it should have.

In his torture segment, he is forced off the road by Hone Onna and breaks his leg. Hone Onna, Wanyuudou and Ren treat him with just as much roughness and neglect that he treats his patients, even putting him in a cage and ignoring his pleas for help, much like the dog I mentioned before.

One of the more irksome aspects of these torture segments is that, even in the face of such torture, they don’t beg for their lives, apologize or say they were wrong for what they did. They defend their actions to the bitter end. Oh well, he’s consumed by hell puppies on the river Styx boat ride, so cool beans.

Rating: 7/10 This episode is more rewarding than the others for me due to that sweet sweet catharsis of watching the vet go to hell, but I feel even worse off for the victim this time around and feel like it should’ve been handled differently.

Next Episode….

…..Previous Episode

Pokemon Extravaganza: Movie 04 (Sub) Celebi: A Timeless Encounter Review

Rating: 6.5/10

Plot: Yukinari/Sam is a young boy who was whisked through time by a Celebi 40 years ago after the legendary Pokemon barely escaped from a Pokemon hunter. He meets Satoshi/Ash and the others after his trip ends and wishes to help the Celebi who sent him through time since he fears he could be injured. After healing his wounds, a new threat shows up by the name of Lord Vicious the Mask/The Iron-Masked Marauder who wishes to capture Celebi, make him evil and use his powers to take over the world!

Breakdown: I actually don’t have much to say on the poster this time. Celebi looks decent, everyone’s placement is spot-on for a change. Except Pikachu – he seems way too big, especially when Satoshi and Yukinari are so damn small. And holy crap, she’s a pointless character to begin with but they made Miku/Diane so small I completely overlooked that she was there on the first few viewings. Why even include her if she’s going to take up a penny’s worth of space?

Like usual, I will be breaking up the movie into chunks instead of giving another play by play to save space. I decided on fifteen minute chunks for this one since I’ll have to be addressing some removed scenes.

15 Minute Mark

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I find it odd that the Pokemon of the forest never helped Celebi when it was being pursued by the Pokemon hunter. Later, they all gather to bring Celebi back to the lake to heal itself and then later to capture Vicious/IMM (Yes, IMM’s Japanese name is Vicious. Much better name and possible Cowboy Bebop reference….yet 4Kids gives us the Iron Masked Marauder…..*sigh*), but they all run away from the Pokemon hunter instead of trying to help….

The old woman is named Towa. She keeps her name between the two versions, but I cannot confirm that because most sources discussing the English version just call her ‘the old woman’ and 4Kids never puts the roles of the voice actors next to their names in the credits.

Just to crack this out before we even see him, Deckhand is named Mr. White. What a weird name. Even weirder considering that he’s pretty young and most characters that young aren’t usually called ‘Mr.’ in the series. I have no clue if this is his dub name, but we’ll have to assume he was just never given one and that the dub adopted the Japanese one as an excuse.

I have to wonder, how did Vicious know that Celebi would be stopping in this time? Or did he not and just got insanely lucky? Celebi could’ve gone literally anywhen in time, past or future, and leaves no indication as to what era it’s heading to.

The Japanese title screen is so much better than the dub’s. And 4Kids was doing so well in that department in the past few movies.

In the opposite extreme in terms of names, Dundee apparently gets no original version name.

Wow, how many times can they remake the same Mezase Pokemon Master theme song in the original? This version is actually pretty cool, but when do they change it?

Here we are at the scene that was replaced before.

We cut to the kids talking to Okido Hakase/Professor Oak on the video phone. He holds up a drawing from a book portraying Suicune and asks them if that was the Pokemon they saw. Satoshi confirms, and Okido says it could’ve have been a Suicune. He’s not smiling as he was in the original, he’s not adamant about it being Suicune and Kenji/Tracey is in this shot smiling in the background as Okido’s on the phone.

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They ask what a Suicune is, but Okido doesn’t know much about it besides the fact that it’s a legendary Pokemon. Several people from the background are removed (and the angle is changed a bit), Mr. White is behind them as they’re on the phone as well in the original but is not there in the dub.

We keep it relatively the same for a bit, explaining Suicune’s powers and how he’s called the North Wind (I find it weird that a Water Pokemon’s the North Wind….shouldn’t that be a Flying type?) As he’s exaggerating some stuff about Suicune to seem cooler with Kenji looking embarrassed in the background, Betbeton/Muk hugs Okido. Because of this, Okido is the one who bids them goodbye and Kenji bids farewell as well.

If anything, seeing the scene that was cut makes me even madder at 4Kids’ decision…Why? Because it was basically the exact same friggin’ scene as the dub version, in terms of visuals anyway. They changed Okido to be smiling during this scene, got rid of Kenji for whatever reason, painted away the other people in town and Mr. White from the scene, and put in another picture of Suicune from the book, I guess to illustrate what he meant by water purifying powers.

Ultimately, what was changed was the dialogue, which was ‘Oh yeah, that’s Suicune. He’s totally real! I saw him once! And you were there and you were there and you were there….because spoiler alert, I am Sam.’ (Funny thing – Sam’s Wiki page makes no mention at all of him being Professor Oak. I honestly hope they didn’t miss that fact while watching the dub because I only have so much faith in humanity left.)

So, in essence, 4Kids honestly didn’t need to drop a damn dime on this scene….They didn’t need to do anything to begin with, but now they really didn’t need to.

Be creative with the clips you have and make dialogue changes. You practically changed the entire script of Movie 01 and yet you didn’t pay the original animators a dime to make special scenes for that! Doesn’t your toilet clog a lot with how much money you flush?

If you really needed that smile, why not Mew Mew Power his ass and flip his frown upside down? It’d still be insanely dumb, but it would save a ton of money and manpower.

Half Hour Mark

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So I’m guessing that it’s a thing in the original that Misty introduces herself as a ‘beauty’ or something like that. Every time Misty introduces herself in the dub she always says either she wants to be the best Water Pokemon Trainer or that she loves Water Pokemon etc.

I find it dumb that the only Pokemon we see Satoshi use in this movie are Bayleaf/Bayleef (Another instance of the English name just being the Japanese name misspelled.) and Pikachu….Considering this is the first Pokemon movie to have a legit human Pokemon trainer villain, it’s pretty disappointing.

45 Minute Mark

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Oh so Takeshi is just as obvious about the lake thing as Brock was….Okay. Sorry, 4Kids. Really, why would you dip him in the lake in the first place if you didn’t think the water would heal him?

Satoshi doesn’t explain what a Pokedex (Poke Guide/Zukan) is, nor do they start talking about how much Satoshi knows about the future. His tactless comment about being ‘sure glad (he’s) not stuck in it like (Yukinari) is’ is also not present.

Satoshi does say that the sketchbook is like a self-illustrated Poke Zukan, but he doesn’t take the time out to explain what it is. In addition, the conversation afterward is Satoshi asking Yukinari if he’s aspiring to be a Pokemon Trainer. Yukinari says he hasn’t decided and was actually traveling to help him decide when, and then he trails off.

There’s a short period of silence before Satoshi finishes Yukinari’s sentence and says ‘….you woke up in the future…’ Which is far less severe of a line than basically telling him ‘sucks to be you!’ Also, I’m nearly certain that the extra line about the Pokedex in the dub was to further poke at Professor Oak.

Ash’s goofy pun with the ‘Butterfree-Hope you’ll be free’ line is not present. Satoshi just says he knows he’ll get back to his own time.

It always feels weird to me watching the original version of a 4Kids production knowing they left the original score in. I can’t really explain why, but after making so many SDC’s and getting used to constant noise and poppy bullcrap, it’s just odd. I know they still inserted their own theme song and end credits song, but still.

This movie broke the tradition of Satoshi tackling and/or punching something incredibly powerful that would obviously kick his ass or hurt him. Closest he gets is climbing the giant robot spider to wrestle the Dark Ball from Vicious. Darn, I really wanted to make that a tradition. Oh well, I can only hope it’s in Movie 05.

Sure is necessary to make all that wheat CGI. Seriously, you’d think they just discovered CGI when they made this movie. Use it sparingly, it has a better impact that way. Either that or make the whole movie CGI.

Hour Mark

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ONIX used GENTLE NUDGE WITH NOSE it’s SUPER EFFECTIVE and BADASS

I do appreciate that neither Celebi nor Suicune speak in this movie. I’ve never had much of a qualm against any of the legendaries speaking, except slightly with Lugia, but it’s a welcome change.

I still don’t understand how or why Celebi gets dark lightning powers when it’s evil….

Oh come on, not even the original gives an explanation as to why Celebi’s dying?

End

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Hm, I wonder. Is this the first time we’ve ever seen a dead Pokemon on the show? I mean….it’s very unclear in both versions whether Celebi’s dead or just near death.

That reminds me, Kasumi didn’t cry a drop in the first movie when she thought Satoshi was dead, but she sees Celebi dead/dying and out come the waterworks.

Now Takeshi’s crying too. A boy you’ve been friends with for over a year dying and you barely react. A Pokemon you’ve barely known for a day dying and everyone evolves into a sprinkler.

Since 4Kids kept the soundtrack that means….more lalalalaalaaaaaaaalalala.

We get a scene that was cut in the dub to put the second call with Oak in there. Yukinari wakes up in front of the shrine back in his time, Towa finds him and asks if he’s alright and he just says he had a wonderful dream.

I don’t get why this was removed. In comparison to the scene that was inserted, this is incredibly short to justify cutting it unless they had a serious time limit for some reason and they couldn’t manage it with their super shiny new scenes.

The ending theme is very gentle and nice to listen to – A drastic contrast to the dub’s, and much more fitting. A movie mostly about friendship and the forest and whatnot, so have a big party song at the end with a bunch of record scratches. Makes sense. It’s even weirder considering that the last three movies, which were far more action-y and fast paced, had mostly gentle and slow songs at the end of those in the dub.

—————————————–

You may notice something odd. I didn’t raise my rating on this movie at all. You’d think without the inserted scenes and with the actual footage that I’d be happier and give this a better rating…Well, you see there’s a tiny problem in this little project of mine. Sometimes, when I rewatch the movie in the subbed version….my opinion lowers on the overall movie.

By all intents and purposes, and I honestly hate saying this, barring the inserted scenes and scene removals, 4Kids did a damn near perfect job on this movie….Perfect by 4Kids standards anyway.

They kept the original score (though put in their own OP and ED and the ED does get teethscrapingly grating…) and most of the script barring some minor stuff was kept exactly the same. Like I said, the only thing 4Kids did in terms of changes was get off to their own bank accounts and beat kids in the head with something they honestly didn’t even need to know….plus added in a Team Rocket scene which could’ve been cut to keep the scene with Yukinari—The point is, it’s still basically the same movie.

The problem is that, when I rewatch the movie and there’s not that many changes….I start noticing bigger flaws in the movie or the flaws I barely took note of before gain more weight.

The Yukinari/Satoshi friendship is still very nice. The villain is still an actual villain, but he’s still generic. There’s no real reason given as to why he’s pursuing Celebi nor how he knew Celebi would be in this time period. While I do give props for showing death, of a Pokemon no less (because according to our crying index, Pokemon are more important than people) there’s no real reason given as to why it’s dying.

The main problems I have are with the plot outside of the time travel. That really is the better plot in the movie. It’s rarer to see someone time travel to your own time and have to deal with that. It’s more common for the main characters to time travel themselves. There’s quite a bit that they could’ve done with that, but it’s sidetracked by the stuff with Celebi.

Did you get that? I just said that the side plot was better than the main plot and that the main plot gets in the way of the side plot. If that’s not a huge problem, I don’t know what is.

The stuff with Celebi isn’t that bad, but it’s ultimately the reason why I believe I found this movie so forgettable. I did say it’s because it wasn’t as epic of a movie as the others, but this is the part of the movie that is supposed to be epic so there ya go.

I actually remembered the parts with Sam just fine, it was the plot with Celebi that fled my mind. It was predictable and made incredibly silly by the ugly CGI monster and spiky wheatball of doom. And there’s the fact that the solution was literally the power of friendship.

Though neither version was really preachy about it, the whole thing about the forest being destroyed did stink of an environmentalist message, especially as Celebi’s dying. I already talked about how the forest really was the only thing in immediate danger and that was only because Vicious wanted to show off.

It is sometimes welcome to take a break from the world being in immediate danger, but you can still have an epic feeling without resorting to ‘go green!’ The plot was so flimsy they had the villain do that lame reprise when they come out of nowhere to grab the powerful item/creature again and try to merely run away, which is even more predictable because do you really think any movie would end with the villain getting away that stupidly?

In addition, it felt like this movie should’ve been Yukinari’s but Satoshi kept taking the reigns. I know it is his series, but you can’t tell me Satoshi was really the forefront of movie 03 or 01, so it can be done.

While I will scold 4Kids three ways from Sunday for those dumb scenes until the end of time, and I, in all honesty, don’t want to change the rating on the dub one from what I honestly gave it before. The rating stays as is. That was a roller coaster of an opinion ride that I haven’t felt in a while. It’s still an enjoyable movie, but there are very significant problems.

But the burning question still remains…..Who did Yukinari grow up to be?!

Recommended Audience: Still talking about death 50+!

Hell Girl Episode 3: The Tarnished Mound Review

Hell Girl Episode 3

Plot: Iwashida and Moroi are best friends and part of a high school baseball team with a fast-rising baseball star named Hanagasa. One day, Hanagasa violently smacks Moroi in the stomach with a baseball bat. He tells Moroi and Iwashida to keep their mouths shut about it. Moroi is happy to oblige in order to prevent the baseball team from getting in trouble. Iwashida is far more reluctant, but also agrees to not say anything. It merely seems like a bad situation that they’ll have to deal with for the sake of the team until everything falls apart.

Breakdown: If you weren’t angry enough with the bitches from episode one or creeped out enough by the stalker in episode two, prepare yourself because we finally have someone who’s fully ‘go to hell’ worthy with Hanagasa.

He is a smug conniving asshole who only cares for himself and has absolutely no remorse for anything he does.

The story goes that Hanagasa, for some reason, suddenly slammed his baseball bat into Moroi’s stomach in the middle of the woods. Iwashida witnesses this, but Moroi tells him to back down. Hanagasa tells them to lie to anyone who asks about the incident and say that Moroi fell off of the pitcher’s mound. Moroi happily agrees since he doesn’t want to create any complications with the team seeing as how Hanagasa is the star player.

Iwashida reluctantly agrees to this, but tells Moroi’s mother that they were horsing around too roughly as the excuse as to how he got the wounds. This doesn’t seem like a big deal until they later reveal that, after three days of pain and suffering, Moroi died from his internal injuries.

As if being responsible for the death of his friend wasn’t enough, Hanagasa plays it completely innocently and even hams it up at Moroi’s memorial service, stating that he’ll work hard and become a pro baseball player in his memory. Yeah, do something you were planning on doing anyway but preface it with ‘in his memory.’ That’s noble as hell.

Iwashida is enraged by how Hanagasa is acting, but he’s in trouble of his own. Since Iwashida told Moroi’s mother that he got hurt from them playing around, he’s the main suspect when the detectives reveal that they know he died from blunt force trauma, probably due to a baseball bat. Everyone immediately suspects him even though they only have a piece of a story and Iwashida has no reason whatsoever for smacking his best friend in the stomach with a baseball bat.

Even his own parents immediately believe their son is responsible. Without knowing the story, even with no evidence or motive whatsoever, they just instantly believe Iwashida’s the killer. His father punches him in the face as he’s trying to give his side of the story, and his mother openly gets down on her knees and begs Moroi’s parents for forgiveness. What the hell?

You’d think this was just horrible luck and everyone’s tempers are high due to the circumstances, but no. Apparently, Hanagasa, by his own admission, somehow planned this whole thing.

And his reasons are insanely ridiculous.

He somehow knew Moroi would die three days after receiving his injuries, I guess, knew the two of them would never tell the truth about it, knew that Iwashida would get blamed for it, even though the story he told them to tell other people didn’t involve Iwashida and would turn it into a complete accident that was Moroi’s fault, then he knew the team would get banned from the upcoming tournament for shared responsibility of Moroi’s death, even though no proper investigation has been carried out outside of the autopsy confirming that he died of blunt force trauma.

He wanted the team to be barred from the tournament, which is why he set this whole thing in motion.

Why did Hanagasa, their star player, need to resort to this incredibly complicated and contrived scheme to get the team out of the tournament?

Because participating in the tournament would put undue stress on his shoulders and he didn’t want them to be in any way negatively affected for his bright professional baseball career. A high school tournament isn’t worth the incredibly minor risk in his eyes.

….He committed murder and framed another boy for the crime, subsequently ruining his life…..TO RELAX HIS ARMS.

…………I don’t know what to say.

Why he couldn’t just remove himself from the tournament is beyond me. He was a shoe-in for college or pro deals with the scouts who were basically humping the fence for him. Why not just say you felt the need to rest your body for your future career and skip the tournament? Or make up an excuse? Or something….anything! There are hundreds of thousands of things you could’ve done to get out of the tournament that are far more understandable and acceptable than first degree murder.

Hanagasa gives zero shits that either Moroi’s dead or that Iwashida’s life is completely ruined. He got what he wanted, and that shit-eating grin never leaves his face. I hate that Justin Cook is so good at playing assholes. I want to love you so much, yet you keep taking these roles.

In the end, you know how it goes, but even the absolute end isn’t as hopeful as the previous episodes.

Whereas in those episodes where it seems the victim’s troubles all get washed away when the string is pulled, Iwashida isn’t as lucky. Hanagasa was properly accused of the crime, and his hellish torture was definitely scarier this time around with some pretty good visuals and creepy moments. but apparently there was still so much heat on Iwashida at school that he had to move away to his aunt’s house, and no one, not even his parents, are seen apologizing to him for treating him like shit. He’s just left to wait everything out with that black mark emblazoned on his chest. His best friend’s still dead, he’s still somewhat vilified for a crime he didn’t commit, and he’s now damned to hell.

This episode also gave us a little bit more about Ai. Her ‘grandmother’ states that she has no choice but to do what she does, even though it seems like Ai doesn’t like it. It is her duty.

Rating: 7.5/10 – They go way overboard with Hanagasa as a despicable character, and his reasoning as well as his plan are just ridiculous. It’s completely unreasonable to believe all of that stuff happened according to his plan. There are way too many flimsy variables. However, it’s still a really good story with nice payoff.

Next Episode…

….Previous Episode

Cartoons Step-By-Step: Dave the Barbarian Episode 2

CSBS DTB EP2

Plot: 2a – Pet Threat: It’s dragon appreciation week and Dave the others have completely forgotten to do anything special for Faaffy. They rush out on the final day of the week to get him a gift, and Dave decides to buy him a new best friend – a diseased weasel he names Carl. However, Carl is not nearly as sickly and innocent as he seems, and no one will believe Faffy when he tries to warn the others.

2b – Lula’s First Barbarian: Lula spots her first owner and lost love, Argan the Ageless, at the marketplace and the flames of her love instantly start growing again. Despite the fact that he’s an obvious jerk who left her for stupid reasons thousands of years ago, she is more than willing to drop Dave the instant he seems to want her back. Worried about her welfare, Dave, Fang, Candy and Oswidge band together to save her heart from getting broken again.

Breakdown:

2a – Pet Threat: This is a rather tired plot that is predictable from start to finish. Not to mention the fact that a good chunk of it doesn’t make any sense.

Dark Lord Chuckles, the Silly Piggy, is actually the diseased weasel, Carl, and he plans on stealing the magical grape of bobobidobo from Faffy’s room. Okay, that’s fine. But uh, how did Chuckles know Dave would be in that marketplace? Or that specific store? Or that the owner would pull him out of that basket to show Dave? Or that Dave would even be remotely interested in buying a diseased weasel? Or that he was buying the diseased weasel to be the new companion to Faffy? Or that the grape was even in Faffy’s room?

Not to mention the fact that Faffy gets treated fairly badly in this episode for no reason. Oswidge eats the ham Dave’s parents sent him for dragon appreciation week. The others forget dragon appreciation week, which depresses Faffy. They buy him a ratty diseased animal as a gift and don’t take Faffy’s feelings into consideration. Dave even completely writes him off when Faffy explicitly points out that Dave is treating Carl better than he’s treating him, when it’s completely obvious. (Then again, Dave is an idiot.) No one believes him for a second when he tries to warn them about what Carl is doing. He runs away, no one notices or seems to care. He comes back, no one notices or seems to care.

They show a little bit of concern when Faffy appears to sacrifice himself to beat Chuckles, and you think for a second they’ll actually do something nice for him on the final day of dragon appreciation week. They seem like they do by preparing a nice meal for Faffy only to reveal it’s Chuckles dressed as a ham. Dave breaks the fourth wall and tells the audience that Faffy’s not really going to eat him and that it’s all for a joke and Faffy’s in the background with a distraught look on his face.

So, in the end, Faffy gets treated like crap for dragon appreciation week and the one moment of redemption for the others is just a visual gag that screws Faffy out of a meal. Lovely.

Not only that, but there weren’t very many jokes in this segment that worked for me and several were gross-out gags.

This was not a very enjoyable segment to me. It just seemed mean-spirited and lacking in several departments.

2b – Lula’s First Barbarian: This segment basically has the same problems as 2a, but at least the plot makes more sense. Again, you know from the very instant you learn anything about Argan, which is the first minute he’s on screen, that he’ll be a complete dickhead to Lula, she’ll fall for him anyway and Dave and the others will rip off her love goggles before she gets in too deep.

Lula’s being an idiot and a bitch in this episode because not only is she completely denying that Argan is anything but an amazing love muffin, no matter how he continues to treat her and has in the past (he literally uses her as a nose for a snowman tens of thousands of years ago and just left her there, never to return.), but she’s also more than willing to leave Dave because he’s such a prissy barbarian.

And, again, Dave doesn’t seem to care. He cares about Lula’s well-being enough to help create a plan to get her away from him, but even he doesn’t see what a jackass Argan is until his newer sword, Judy, explains that he traded her away to some toothless villager for a potato. I don’t know if this is a testament to how much of an idiot Dave is or he just doesn’t have strong connections with the people (and dragons….and swords) who are supposedly closest to him.

Candy was surprisingly supportive of this clearly unhealthy relationship, even making a montage out of her using tips from a teen magazine to help Lula bag her man.

Fang’s the only one with an ounce of sense in this episode and she doesn’t get to do much.

This episode was light on jokes that worked but, like 2a, there were some smile-worthy moments.

Overall, I’d give 2a a rating of 3/10 and 2b a 4/10, giving the overall episode a 3.5/10

Next Episode…..

….Previous Episode

Hell Girl Episode 2: The Possessed Girl Review

Hell Girl Ep 2

Plot: A high school girl named Ryoko is being stalked and harassed by a mysterious man.

Breakdown: I feel like, for some reason, I wasn’t as creeped out by this guy as the show wanted me to be. He sends her some creepy gifts, breaks into her room when she’s not there and he even has the scary aspect of being a cop, with the power and authority to get around being suspected or charged.

However, he still doesn’t come off as fully scary to me. There was no moment when I went ‘Oh holy crap, this sick bastard needs to go to hell.’

I also felt more sympathy for the victim this time around because she was trapped in every sense of the word and basically had to send him, and subsequently herself, to hell for something she couldn’t control.

How she knew who he was before even her father knew is beyond me. She had to have known his name in order to input her grievance into the Hell Girl website, yet their lone suspect was the wrong person at that time. Maybe it was a flashforward I didn’t quite get. I dunno.

The torment this time around was fairly fun, but nothing fantastic or particularly memorable.

Rating – 6/10 In the end, it’s a blasé episode that didn’t get me riled up enough to want to root for this guy to ride the river Styx, though, by all means, take him there.

Next episode…

….Previous Episode

Baccano! Review

Rating 9.5/10

Plot: It’s the 1930s (for most of the show) and old-style gangsters are all over the place. Mostly following the story of incidents on a train that is currently being hijacked (by two separate gangs) called The Flying Pussyfoot, a much larger and more complex story is unfolding behind the scenes with one of the main focal points being the power of immortality.

Breakdown:

…..I’m in love with this show. I really am. They nailed everything in this show. If I make it sound in any way bad from my plot synopsis, I am sorry, and do not even begin to think that way. Baccano! Is a breath of fresh air in a wave of mediocrity and crap that I’ve had to sift through in recent time.

I don’t want to spoil anything at all, so let me just give you my main highlights and my few bad points.

Isaac and Miria are awesome. I usually hate characters meant to be comic relief, but they are hilarious and I adored every second of their screen time. Their shtick never got old, they never resorted to dumb cliché jokes – they were just awesome.

In such a dark anime, you need to have talent in order to make comic relief characters truly work, and they work overtime. They also actually affect the plot….in good ways! That is just amazing! They’re the kind of characters that you’d love to meet in real life. They’re thieves, but they’re incredibly nice and funny. Hell, they’re not even really bad in a thief regard.

Jacuzzi has the best name ever. Jacuzzi Splot has the worst last name ever. He also was the breakout character for me because he was really grating on my nerves in the first handful of episodes since all he seemed to do was worry, cry and panic about everything. However, as we learned of his backstory and as the episodes go by, we learn that he’s incredibly brave and one of the sweetest guys ever. When you learn why he got his famous sword tattoo, you’re going to smile. You’re going to go ‘awwwww.’ You may even cry. This is normal. Simply cuddle the nearest cute animal, preferably one that does not have rabies, and enjoy it.

Baccano! definitely tries to do something different than most other anime. Not many anime take place in 1930s New York. Immortality’s not a new thing, but the way they handle it is pretty unique. And the relationships to all of the immortals both old and new are really interesting.

The show is crazy and insanely entertaining to watch. There’s hardly a moment where it feels slow, and, when it does, it’s for good reason such as tension or to create atmosphere. The story is great even if things get confusing sometimes, and I loved watching every step of the way.

Another aspect of this series that is fairly unique is in the fact that the story is out of order. And not Haruhi Suzumiya out of order, like in you can just watch episodes in different orders, I mean episodes jump around 1, 2, 3 or even hundreds of years without a moment’s notice. This is both a positive and a slight negative to me.

It’s pretty clever in its execution since it allows you to piece together the plot on your own and slowly gain more pieces and views of the story, which makes it more interesting and fun to watch. And it is fair to the viewer because they notify you when a date shift is taking place and what year they’re jumping to.

However, I can definitely see how it’d be annoying to some people, especially in the beginning. Once you get used to the format, it’s way easier to follow the story and piece everything together, and it is fun to watch scenes and figure out how certain events came to pass. Even so, during the first few episodes, it kinda throws you off and makes it somewhat confusing.

All of the characters were enjoyable to watch, and some were a downright blast to see in action. The only ones I might say were on the lower end of the spectrum would be Dallas and maybe Ches. Dallas just didn’t do much, and Ches was the only character who started to annoy me a bit.

The ending is left a little open-ended, but according to the dialogue, that was intentional. The ending to all of the events that happen on the Pussyfoot actually end in episode 13, which seems like it was set up to the final episodes of the series as we get no next episode preview, no ending theme song and the credits roll over the final scene.

However, there’s a three episode epilogue of sorts where the only real connecting action plotline involves a new character named Graham Specter, a crazy mechanic who uses an unreasonably huge monkey wrench as a weapon. He worked under the crazy murderous gang leader Ladd Russo – one of the hijackers of the Pussyfoot.

Some new things do get explored such as the origins of Jacuzzi’s tattoo, a continuance of the storyline between Chane and the Rail Tracer, we see how Nice got her scars and lost her eye, and a few other things.

This epilogue technically doesn’t need to be here, but it’s a good continuation. Graham’s entertaining to watch, to say the least, and, dammit, I did not want this series to end. 😦 Oh well. I guess I can read the manga next. I can also kick up Durarara! on my watch list since that’s a spiritual successor, possibly an actual successor since they take place in the same universe, and Isaac and Miria also make an appearance in it! Yay!

Art and Animation: High scores in this department. The animation is very fluid and a joy to watch while the art has it’s own distinct style without straying too much from the average anime formula. The fight scenes in particular were very well done. Even the lighting was beautiful.

Music: The OP, ED and BG music are all amazing and I would love to buy the soundtrack to this series. It fits the chaotic mood while also suiting the time period and characters perfectly.

Bottomline: I’m gushing over this. I hardly ever get to gush on my reviews. If I ever get around to making a favorite anime list, this will be at or near the top. There are some aspects that may not be perfect and the format may get confusing, but it is well worth it.

Additional Information and Notes: Baccano! Was directed by Takahiro Omori, director of Koi Kaze, Hell Girl, and Durarara! It was written Noboru Takagi, who has also written for Attack on Titan, C – The Money of Soul and Possibility Control, all of the Durarara! and Hell Girl series. It was based on a light novel written by Ryohgo Narita.

Baccano! was produced by Brain’s Base and is currently licensed by Aniplex of America.

Episodes: 16

Year: 2007

Recommended Audience: No nudity, no sex, some swearing. The most you need to worry about is gore. It gets pretty damn bloody up in here. Because some of the characters are immortals, we see some graphic displays of violence and gore. I really shouldn’t limit it to that as some of the characters are crazy murderous psychopaths who may as well wear nothing but black and red to avoid paying outlandish dry cleaning bills for all the blood stains. It drives me nuts that Ladd Russo, one of the craziest and blood hungry sons of bitches ever, actually leads a gang where they all wear white suits. WHITE SUITS. For the gore alone, I’d say at least 15+ If you want a comparison, I’ve seen Elfen Lied and Shigurui Death Frenzy and this made me cringe.

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) The Amazing World of Gumball

Plot: Gumball and his brother, Darwin, ruin a DVD they rented. Afraid of facing their mother, they decide to plot and scheme to either replace the DVD or get the money needed to pay off the fee.

Breakdown: Gumball is a show I’ve seen in passing a few times on Cartoon Network, and I always felt divisive about it. I liked some of the jokes and comedic timing, but the art style put me off, and sometimes it seems like they’re being far more annoying than they are funny.

After sitting down and watching the first episode (first segment, DVD, I should say), I just can’t help but feel the same way. Again, I ended up liking some moments – there are pretty good jokes and clever writing in there, but Gumball and Darwin sometimes piss me off with their voice acting, Gumball annoys me with how stereotypical he is as a character (irresponsible scheming troublemaker – that’s new) and the art style has its moments where it works and others where it’s just odd.

This particular episode was also very cliché. Two brothers do something wrong so they get into a bunch of wacky shenanigans while trying to fix it without their parent knowing. I think that plot is a legal requirement of any sitcom or comedy cartoon with children that was ever made.

The actual art style is fine, it’s the fact that it’s always coupled with live action shots that puts me at odds – add that to the fact that you also have fully CGI characters and shifting art styles between characters and I just don’t know what to make of it. At the very least, it’s pretty unique.

Final Verdict:

ebzss3e

I’m not sure I’ll ever get off the fence about this show.

Hell Girl Season 1 Archive

Episode 1 – From Beyond the Twilight

Episode 2: The Possessed Girl

Episode 3: The Tarnished Mound

Episode 4: Silent Cries

Episode 5: The Woman in the Tall Tower

Episode 6: Early Afternoon Window

Episode 7: Cracked Mask

Episode 8: Silent Friendship

Episode 9: Sweet Trap

Episode 10: Friends

Episode 11: Broken Threads

Episode 12: Spilled Bits

Episode 13: Purgatory Girl

Episode 14: Beyond the Dead End

Episode 15: Island Woman

Episode 16: A Night Among Traveling Entertainers

Episode 17: Glass Scenery

Episode 18: Bound Girl

Episode 19: Bride Girl

Episode 20: Hell Girl vs. Hell Boy

Episode 21: Kind Neighbor

Episode 22: Rain of Remorse

Episode 23: The Light of the Hospital Ward

Episode 24: Home in the Twilight

Episode 25: Hell Girl

Episode 26: The Ephemeral

Hell Girl Episode 1: From Beyond the Twilight Review

Hell girl ep 1
Cannot unsee the derp face of the girl in the lower right.

Plot: A young girl named Mayumi is blackmailed by a classmate named Aya and her two friends when they give her a loan to replace money that had been raised for the school and entrusted to her. When Aya’s abuse becomes too much, Mayumi contacts Hell Correspondence.

Breakdown: Hell Girl or Jigoku Shoujo, is an anthology series that I’ve already reviewed as a whole in the past, for season one anyway. But I don’t really like tackling series such as these without analyzing every story that comes along with it (See: Yami Shibai) So, here we are.

Hell Girl’s concept and subsequent structure for each episode is simple. Someone has been wronged or is currently being harassed or tortured by someone else, and they use the Hell Correspondence website to demand vengeance upon them.

Hell Girl/Ai gives them the trademark straw doll with a scarlet string around its neck and tells them that their vengeance will be taken upon their tormentor when they pull the string. When the string is broken, their target will be instantly sent to hell and, as payment, upon the set/natural death of the contractor, they will also be ferried to hell.

The main reason you watch this series is for the characters of the day, their specific stories and that sweet, sweet release when that red string is pulled.

Because of the structure, however, the stories are slightly predictable. Hardly anyone refuses to pull the string, and plot twists and mysteries are hard to come by. Still, it’s the ride that you want and that’s what you typically get, outside of the off-color episode about Ai and her associates and their respective backstories or involvement in the story, rare as that may be.

Here’s the thing – This is a horror anthology, which almost always means wildly fluctuating quality in regards to story. There are several episodes throughout each season where you sit there actually feeling bad because you don’t believe the target deserved to get sent to hell, or you feel unsatisfied because the reasons for sending the jackass of the week to hell were unsatisfactory.

Then again, every episode usually makes you feel sad either way. Remember, the price for using the service is damning your soul to hell as well. The only difference is that you get to live out whatever remainder of life you had before you go instead of going instantly like the target does.

There are some upsides for the client. First and foremost, the tormentor is obviously gone from their life and it even seems like Ai and her associates do some sort of retroactive rewind because not only is the disappearance of the target rarely ever brought up, but most of the problems that stemmed from the target also seem to just vanish, leaving the contractor with basically a happy life. I’d dare say some clients even aim to live their lives better than they were before purely because they know of their fate. If all you have in regards to happiness is the here and now, you might as well make it the best you can.

——————————–

This episode centers around young teenagers, which makes it hard to truly want the target to go to hell….but that doesn’t mean I didn’t.

The target, a bitch named Aya, is so heartless and cruel for absolutely no reason. Mayumi did nothing to her, yet she steals the class’ money without Mayumi knowing, and gives her a loan of the money, so she has her under her thumb both financially and mentally under the blackmail that she’ll tell the class if she doesn’t obey her orders.

After a slue of little potshots and overall assholery, she aims to ruin her life by bringing her downtown in the middle of the night, nearly getting her sexually assaulted by some creeper just to get a free dinner then leaking a picture of her in the guy’s arms to the school, which puts her over the edge.

I do have to say, though, uh, Ai, what the hell took you so long in giving her the damn doll? You seriously had to wait until she was desperate enough to attempt suicide to say ‘Oh hey, here’s your doll.’ She usually does it immediately because, what’s the point in waiting? Yet here she waits a full day before giving it to her.

It is sad that Mayumi is marked for hell now. I find it particularly heartbreaking when the client is a child. They likely have the most life ahead of them, but it’s still hard to cope with the fact that a child is destined for hell.

It’s even worse when you consider that kids don’t really have a good grasp on making huge life-altering decisions like this, yet there seems to be no age requirement for the service. At the very least, it seems Mayumi has made peace with this fact and has decided to live a happy life as long as she has it.

Rating: 7/10 Not a terribly creative story, barring the main plot of the series, and it’s a bit too black and white, but still has that sweet vengeance we’re here for.

Next episode….