Hell Girl Episode 12: Spilled Bits Review

Hell Girl ep 12

Plot: A girl named Sawai has been struggling with emotional issues. She refuses to go to school no matter how many times her teacher, Fukasawa, goes to her house to beg her to return or at least talk to him. Sawai only finds some sense of solace in her online friend known only as Cheppo. Likewise, Fukasawa is struggling day after day being a teacher, despite him having a strong passion for school and teaching. As both of them struggle to stay afloat, there’s one burning question – can hell be a paradise?

Breakdown: This episode starts off in an interesting manner. We see that Sawai already has the curse mark before we get a flashback to what lead her to that point.

Sawai is berated day after day to go back to school by her teacher, Fukasawa, but she stays holed up in her room. It’s unclear if there was a particular event that triggered this behavior or if she just succumbed to long-standing depression. Either way, Sawai is adamant in staying home and only finds some form of comfort in her daily messages to a mysterious person named Cheppo, who sympathizes and sends her pictures of unique and beautiful locations.

Most episodes start off with the main character being incredibly angry or betrayed by another, which eventually leads to the familiar contact with Hell Girl. This doesn’t seem like the most unique setup, but when it’s eventually shown that Sawai really was just fed up with everything, it allows us to explore the concept of people using Hell Girl when they don’t actually have a deep vendetta, which leads me to why this episode is very confusing in my eyes.

While it’s obvious that Sawai doesn’t particularly like Fukasawa, it’s very unclear as to why she dislikes him enough to enter his name into Hell Correspondence. Most we get is that, despite his daily pleas to come to school or at least talk, she doesn’t believe he really cares or would ever understand her problems. Even if she did hate him for that, hate doesn’t equal having a wanton need for vengeance on someone because he didn’t do anything to her or anyone she cares about. She never seems that tempted to pull the string once she gets the doll.

It’s later revealed that Cheppo was Fukasawa. He didn’t have any idea that the person he was talking to was Sawai, and she eventually believes him. Connecting after a while, the two become close friends, but she soon realizes that Fukasawa is miserable as a teacher. He always loved school and loves teaching, but he’s met with nothing but problems when he does teach. His students never listen to him, disrespect and insult him behind his back, and his boss berates him constantly.

Hearing that Sawai called Hell Girl on him, he actually asks her to pull the string to end his misery. Sawai continues to see more and more evidence that Fukasawa is indeed miserable and suffering on a daily basis, so she decides to grant his wish and pull the string.

Fukasawa is happy to be in hell, but is saddened when he realizes that Sawai had to damn herself to hell in order to send him there. He watches as she solemnly yet happily proclaims that they’ll reunite in hell some day.

I’m definitely not one to say ‘Oh his problems weren’t that bad. Definitely not bad enough to be suicidal over.’ I know all too well that depression is a mighty demon to fight. No matter how a situation might look to an outsider or how ‘good’ someone seemingly has it, they can still be experiencing their own personal hell every single day.

I also don’t have anything to say on Sawai’s situation in that regard.

I will, however, ask why these two find more solace in hell than taking their chances and committing suicide? Again, I’m not aiming to judge the perceptions of these two, but it’s a question even Ai brings up. Can hell be a paradise to some people? Can some people really find comfort in such a horrible place?

The reason I’m asking this question is because, while I’m well aware that suicide is taboo in many religions and cultures, why would you secure a one-way ticket to hell instead of taking your chances and maybe reaching some form of actual paradise on the other side by committing suicide? Even if it’s just nothingness, surely it’s better to take your chances than reserving a spot on that boat.

Maybe they just wanted a clean and simple method. I don’t know. Rational choices aren’t exactly a cornerstone of depression either.

Finally, you can argue that Fukasawa is ridden with guilt for not knowing Sawai would need to send herself to hell too in order to send him there, but you can’t say he didn’t know the weight of what he was asking. He was asking this teenage girl to murder him. No ifs, ands or buts. You can’t get around that. He saw her with a metaphoric gun and asked her to put it to his head and pull the proverbial trigger.

Just the act of doing such a thing, no matter if they believe it’s for the best or not, is a titanic weight on anyone’s shoulders. Walking around with that guilt day after day will only grow and make her situation worse.

Unlike other episodes, there’s no need to argue if the target in this situation ‘deserved’ to be sent to hell. No one deserves depression, and these two didn’t deserve such a fate. It’s a sad situation all around. While I think it could’ve been handled better, it’s a rather sadly beautiful story.

Rating: 8/10

Next Episode….

……Previous Episode

CSBS – Rugrats S01 Ep02

Rugrats episode 2 title

Plot: 2A – Barbecue Story: The adults are having a barbecue, and Angelica sends Tommy’s ball flying into the neighbor’s yard. Tommy sets off on a mission to get it back.

2B – Waiter, There’s a Baby in my Soup: Stu and Didi are forced to bring Tommy to a fancy dinner with a man who is listening to Stu’s presentation on why he should market his toys.

Breakdown:

2A – Something I kinda dread about rewatching this series as an adult is knowing there will be many moments that will make me cringe in how possibly horrifying the real-world result could’ve been.

Case and point, this segment.

During a barbecue, Angelica, being a bitch, decides to swat Tommy’s ball into the neighbor’s yard for kicks. Tommy breaks into the neighbor’s yard to retrieve it and is forced to go over a secondary fence into an area meant for a vicious guard dog. The dog very nearly (and, if you watch closely, honestly should have) mauls Tommy to death, until he’s suddenly saved by Spike.

Spike returns Tommy to the barbecue and is rewarded with a plate of burnt burgers.

At face value, this is an alright episode. Not the funniest in the world, and there are several annoying aspects I’ll get to in a minute, but it’s decent.

However, as an adult…..I’ve read several news stories about little kids being mauled by dogs, sometimes to death and others severely injured with many scars and deformities left behind. I could not stop myself from imagining Tommy getting viciously attacked by this dog.

Rugrats episode 2 - 2A 1

When Tommy’s parents discover him missing, I thought they’d hear his panicked cries and rescue him, but no. They never hear his cries nor discover where he went. Despite being just next door, Spike is the only one who hears poor Tommy and comes to the rescue. Granted, this scene is one awesome Spike moment. He is a total dog badass here, but Jesus Christ, these parents will never not win the worst parents ever award.

To put more clarity on this situation, when Tommy was crying in his playpen after Angelica swatted his ball, every single adult there diverted their attention to Tommy. When he’s screaming and wailing in terror with a huge bulldog snapping his teeth mere inches from his face, everyone besides Spike suddenly becomes deaf.

The ending is a very sweet moment between Tommy and Spike, but the rest of the episode just leaves me feeling uneasy.

The aforementioned annoying aspects come in Angelica and Chuckie. Angelica never gets any comeuppance for what she did, even though her actions very nearly lead to her cousin’s death. Chuckie has a moment of complaining that seemed more whiny than he normally is, mostly because he’s blaming his misfortunes on Tommy when he didn’t force him to come along.

2B – As big of a Rugrats nut as I was when I was a kid, I did have those episodes I didn’t care for. This is one of them. However, back then, my reasoning was entirely for the obnoxious antics of Mr. Mucklehoney. Nowadays, adult me can see that this whole episode doesn’t work.

It’s main premise is built on sand. Didi and Stu are ‘forced’ to bring Tommy to a fancy restaurant because their babysitter canceled last minute, Grandpa Lou is on a bowling date, and they have a presentation with Mr. Mucklehoney – an obnoxious prankster who is constantly laughing.

Rugrats episode 2 - 2B 1
ShutupshutupshutupshutupshutupshutupshutupSHUTUP!

Oh, excuse me, I mean Stu has a presentation with Mr. Mucklehoney. Didi has no purpose here.

This whole plot could’ve been avoided had Didi just stayed home with Tommy. What’s more disruptive? Stating a superfluous third party couldn’t attend a dinner because she had to watch their infant son or bringing a one year old to a fancy restaurant? Keep in mind, Tommy himself is being obnoxious in this episode. When they find out their babysitter needs to cancel, Tommy is on the floor having strewn all of the pots and pans in the kitchen on the floor and dumped a garbage can full of trash all over himself, the floor and the pans.

People find babies in cheap family restaurants to be an annoyance, but bringing a one year old to a fancy restaurant? When you have a very good reason not to? And when you’re having dinner with someone very important? Come on.

What’s even worse is that they set up an out and don’t take it just so it can be more believable when Tommy manages to escape. Didi gets a call from Grandpa Lou right before they order. He needs a ride home because he had a fight with his date and she was his ride. Didi agrees and is about to take Tommy, who is drumming on the dinnerware with a fork and spoon, with her because she realizes he’s being a nuisance. However, Mr. Mucklehoney offers to have the two of them watch him and she’s just like ‘alright’ and even gives the spoon back to Tommy so he can continue being loud and irritating to everyone around them.

Rugrats episode 2 - 2B 2

Of course, Tommy quickly slips out of his high chair and, of course, Stu is none the wiser. He slips into the kitchen and, I might need to add a ‘third-party adult fail’ section because not a damn person in that kitchen realizes a baby is crawling around on the countertops making a mess and destroying stuff. I feel really bad for the people who get that cream pie filled with silverware. Thank God Tommy never reached the stove. He fell into a bowl of pasta – he could’ve easily fallen into a pot of boiling water.

When he gets back to the table, he’s superheated Mucklehoney’s soup, bubblegum’d his shoes to the table, tied Stu’s shoes to the table and caused the entire table to topple over on top of Mucklehoney.

And, of course, Mr. Mucklehoney is one of those sitcom schmucks who has all this crap happen to him and, because it would be unfair to have Stu suffer for Tommy’s actions, he loves the crazy antics Stu has caused and offers him a job.

Rugrats episode 2 - 2B 3

This episode is poorly written and riddled with plot conveniences. You can practically see them drawing a map to the plot they were trying to get to. “Okay, how about we have Tommy let loose in a restaurant making all sorts of trouble? We’ll work out the details of how this happens right before we animate it. No storyboards. They’re a hassle.”

Not to mention, Tommy just doesn’t work well on his own. Rugrats always worked best when the babies were playing off of each other. Even if the plot is obviously focused on one character, you need at least one or two more to make the story as a whole work. Tommy is completely on his own here. There’s not even any minor Angelica cameo. Not to mention, they seem like they upped his annoying level so they could get more comedy out of him.

Ratings:

2A – 6/10

2B – 2/10

Parenting Fails

2A – No one notices or cares that Angelica took Tommy’s ball and threw it over the fence. Even if it’s understandable to maybe not catch her taunting him with it, surely someone had to have seen her throw the thing.

No one notices them breaking out of their playpen, even though they’re all in the side yard, nor do they see the babies escaping into the neighbor’s yard.

If you have babies or pets, don’t leave loose or broken boards in your fence.

I applaud the neighbor for having a second fence within his fence for his vicious dog, but I’ll add some neighbor fails for making this fence all of a foot and a half tall (the babies can get over it just by giving each other a little boost.) and chaining the large and very strong dog to a rickety dog house that is half-assedly nailed to boards in the ground.

It takes them way too long to notice the babies missing, especially considering the babies were looking in the neighbor’s first yard for quite a while.

No one hears Tommy’s terrified cries merely a yard away.

X10 fails just because I can’t get the image of Tommy being mauled out of my head. The fact that their dog was a better parent here than anyone else is ridiculous.

2B – Nobody notices that Tommy is playing with the toilet – a possible drowning hazard because it’s one of those toilets that seems to hold three gallons of water in the bowl.

Nobody notices that Tommy spreads out all of the pots and pans in the kitchen on the floor. Even if you can say they didn’t see it, there’s no way they didn’t hear it because that would be insanely loud.

Nobody notices that Tommy knocks the garbage over.

When they do notice, they don’t give a crap.

Gonna count them bringing Tommy to this meeting as a fail. If they really had no choice, I’d understand, but not only is Didi a perfectly good option, they don’t even consider contacting any of the other parents to see if they can do it. Any adult should know that bringing a baby to a fancy restaurant is inconsiderate. And this is coming from someone who’s never had a child or been to a particularly fancy restaurant. Unless you have the most angelic baby in the world, or they’re comatose, they’re going to cry, smell and be obnoxious. They even show how annoyingly he’s behaving before they even leave, and he wastes no time before he starts drumming on his dinnerware.

Didi leaving Tommy alone with these two.

Stu not noticing Tommy has escaped. He is literally seated a foot away from him.

If I don’t have a ‘third party adult’ tally, we’re skipping six points.

Tally: 26

What the…They’re Babies!

Outside of the babies easily scaling that fence, there wasn’t much in this area for either episode.

Next Episode…..

….Previous Episode

Hell Girl Episode 11: Broken Threads Review

Hell Girl ep 11

Plot: Hajime’s old colleague, Inagaki, tries to give him some investigative journalism work, but refuses when he realizes that he wants him to lie in order to make the article work. Along the way, he discovers a man named Kakaoka has a beef with Inagaki and comes to the conclusion that he’s called Hell Girl for help. Can Hajime finally stop someone from pulling the thread?

Breakdown: This one kinda lost my attention because it just wasn’t a very interesting client or plot for the ‘main’ story. It’s more of Hajime snooping around Hell Girl cases and, spoiler, failing to stop her from fulfilling her duties. Hajime has a slight connection to the target, but it’s not like it impacts him. He realizes Inagaki’s a scumbag before he even learns that he’s a Hell Girl target.

The client today, Masaya Kakaoka, is also forgettable. I had to rewind three times just to commit his backstory to memory. His father, a prominent political figure, had some scandal written about him and even wrote some things about his son, Masaya, doing drugs. The article was filled with lies, and it ruined his father’s reputation, his career, got his father arrested, left their family broke and destroyed their lives.

I will admit Inagaki is a scumbag who deserves to go to hell, but I don’t connect nearly enough with Kakaoka or his situation to really root that much for him to pull the string. Not to mention that Kakaoka’s logic makes no sense.

He’s scared to death of going to hell, which makes him uncomfortable about pulling the string. Instead, he decides to try several times to murder him. Uh, dude, murder is a quick way of getting to hell. Just saying, you’d be better off just pulling the string if you want him dead that badly. No witnesses, no evidence, no muss, no fuss.

The hell torture this time around is just lame. They trap him in a magazine…….that’s it. Once he’s in the boat, he gets grabbed by a bunch of hands, but we’ve seen that before and it’s not scary at all.

All in all, one of the more disappointing episodes from all sides.

Rating: 5/10

Next Episode…

…..Previous Episode

Coicent Review

Rating: 8.5/10

Plot: Shinichi is heading to a local festival where he runs into a weird white deer who steals his backpack and leads him jumping all over town. In the process, they save the life of a girl who fell from a building and has never been outside. They have a wonderful day together at the festival as the girl, nicknamed ‘Toto’ experiences many new things. However, Toto is not what she appears to be, and their problems are only beginning.

Breakdown: Coicent was the other feature coupled with Five Numbers! Unlike Five Numbers!, though, I really believe this was just long enough to tell its story properly without feeling a little disappointed. Granted, that’s not to say I don’t wish they had built on it. I really do, especially her origins, but it’s fine in a short story format.

Shinichi is a really kind and genuine person. While, at first, it seems like he just wants a cute girlfriend, you can tell he truly grew to care deeply for Toto even in the short amount of time they spent together.

Toto is a very likable and sweet girl. Her situation is sad, but she has many hopes and dreams. She can also be kickass when the occasion calls for it.

I don’t know exactly what she is, though. I believe I can go through this without spoiling everything since it was shown in the beginning, but Toto is really an….android? That’s my best guess. She controls her appearance through holograms or something like that. This just begs the question of how can this short really end up happily? Even if it does, she’s still an android, which means she’d never age and could never legitimately be with Shinichi.

But since I don’t know the specifics of her existence, I can’t be certain.

In the end, this is a really nice short romantic sci-fi comedy. Toto and Shinichi have great chemistry, the OVA has wonderful pacing, writing, music, scenery, art and animation. The animation is all done in CGI like Five Numbers!, but it seems more polished with better human animation. Though I’m fine with a short OVA, I’d love to see a longer version of a story like this.

Additional Information and Notes: Coicent was directed and written by Shuhei Morita, who also directed Tokyo Ghoul and wrote and directed Kakurenbo: Hide and Seek. It was produced by Sunrise, and it is currently licensed in English by Sentai Fimworks.

Runtime: 11 minutes.

Year: 2011

Recommended Audience: There’s some violence, but nothing graphic, no sex, nudity, swearing etc. 5+

Hell Girl Episode 10: Friends Review

Hell Girl ep 10

Plot: Minami used to be best friends with a girl named Shiori, but Shiori has seemingly abandoned her. Left with no friends and ignored by everyone else, Minami wants revenge on Shiori by sending her to hell.

Breakdown: This episode was interesting, but also kinda dumb.

It slightly explored a question I had previously about the ages of clients. Middle school is reaching tween age, but does Hell Girl have an age restriction for who she takes on as clients? At this age, children are extremely emotional and their brains are still not fully developed. They have not yet reached a maturity level necessary for major life decisions, and I’m pretty sure sending yourself or another person to hell counts as a major life decision.

Is the only age requirement being old enough to type? Because you could have little five-year-olds damning another kid to hell for stealing his fire truck in the sand box.

Nonetheless, Ai still offers a doll to Minami, which leads us to the ‘why’ of this situation. Does Shiori really deserve to go to hell? Her age already leans her greatly to ‘no’ but the reasons are also not very strong at all.

Shiori was a new transfer student to the middle school. She was approached by Shiori, and they quickly became best friends. However, she was soon ditched as a friend when Shiori became friends with two other girls. Why she couldn’t also be friends with them, I have no idea. This episode makes it seem like friends come in packs of three. Also, as we’ll see later, the girls in question get no comeuppance despite them being the friend-swapping asswipes.

Minami still tried to contact Shiori in person and through texts. Her friends convinced her that Minami was a straight-up stalker when they discover that she’s been sending her a text once every half hour. Shiori’s new friends also tell her to tell their teacher to get her to back off, which she does.

Minami tries to speak with Shiori in person to convince her that she’s not a stalker, but accidentally causes her to fall over, making everyone in the class vilify Minami even though it was an accident. Also, I don’t understand why all of her classmates know her as a stalker and are so quick to viciously defend Shiori. If she was that popular, the ending never would’ve happened.

Minami grows to hate Shiori so much that she calls upon Hell Girl. This is another instance where we get a very slight window into some emotion for Ai. She lays down the regular ground rules for the Hell Correspondence, and Minami doesn’t seem that deterred at all of the prospect of going to hell for if the same happens to Shiori. In fact, despite wanting to do it as soon as possible, with Ai still in the room, she proclaims that she wants to pull the string right in front of her face.

At that declaration, though slight, Ai does change facial expressions to seeming notably uncomfortable. I don’t know if this level of hatred in such a young girl is putting her off, or if she feels uncomfortable having such young clients, or perhaps Minami reminds her a bit of herself, but the shift is there.

Minami constantly creepily stares at Shiori throughout every day of classes. Shiori catches a glimpse of the straw doll one day and steals it, believing it to be some weird voodoo doll that Minami is using to try and curse her. This part also slightly addresses another question I had which was, ‘What happens if the doll is lost or stolen?’ the answer is, maybe not much.

Shiori nails the doll to a pole, believing it will, somehow, curse Minami back (she doesn’t seem to know how curses work in the slightest). When Ai, Hone Onna and Ren arrive, they plan on taking Wanyuudou down and just leaving the situation be, which I guess means if the doll is stolen or lost, it reverts ownership back to Ai and the others, maybe? However, Ai decides to leave Wanyuudou there for the time being (nice) and let the situation play out some more.

The next day, Minami is missing from school, and Shiori believes her curse worked. She flips flops from believing she deserved it to worrying if the curse killed her to not caring if the curse killed her. This was the one moment where I kinda thought she maybe deserved to go to hell now, but 1) I doubt she truly believes the curse is real and 2) this train of thought is not very unbelievable for any kid her age, as scary as that is. If Minami really did suddenly die, I’m sure her thoughts would change.

When the students get grouped up for a project, Shiori’s new friends leave her out, revealing they’ve found a new friend. Since friends travel in packs of three, Shiori is without friends just like Minami, I guess.

She immediately texts Minami to make amends, and Minami is surprisingly quick to nab up this opportunity, even chastising herself for even thinking of calling on Hell Girl. When she meets with Shiori, she explains the situation with her now ex-friends, apologizes and makes up with Minami. This is another show of either this kid having an emotional disorder or her being too emotionally immature to make these types of decisions.

Just when you think this might be one case where the client resolves things with the target without fire and brimstone, even to the point where Ai is seen walking away from the scene, Shiori pulls a fast one and says they should curse their classmates with the doll.

Minami explains that the doll doesn’t work as a voodoo doll or anything, and states that the red string needs to be pulled in order for it to work. When it does, it sends its target to hell. Shiori is so uncharacteristically stupid here, because she instantly wants to pull the thread, even though she should be intelligent enough to put the pieces together and come to the conclusion that she’s still the doll’s target and she has done nothing to the doll, if possible, to switch the target.

Minami has a bit more sense and stops her from pulling the string, stating that she has to be the one to do it. Shiori forces the string pulling on her physically, but Minami resists when she tells her that the user also gets sent to hell. I don’t know why Minami doesn’t stop her by saying pulling the string will send her to hell, but with an evil smirk and a yank of Minami’s arm, the string is pulled and Shiori is whisked to hell.

As Minami collapses and tries to claim that she didn’t want this, Ai suddenly shows up stating that she did want this. She allowed herself to get so consumed with hatred that she welcomed this and even got her wish of pulling the string in front of Shiori’s face.

In an interesting turn of events, we get no hell torture scene this time around. Instead, we only get Shiori’s pleas for help and crying out for Minami, which Minami seems to be able to hear.

As she shows her curse mark to Hajime (oh yeah, he’s here still) she believes she’ll meet Shiori again someday in hell where she hopes they’ll be friends again. Because if there’s one thing they have plenty of in hell, it’s friendship.

I honestly don’t know if I classify this absolute end as sad or stupid. I’m inclined to believe it’s a bit of both. She is at an age where she should know friendship in hell is a little bit stupid to believe, but the only reason she wants to believe it is because now she’s back to having no friends. She sent her only ‘friend’ to hell and now she’s destined for hell when she dies. That silly thought is really all she has to look forward to now.

Rating: 7/10

Next Episode…..

…..Previous Episode

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons): Winx Club

Plot: A teenage girl named Bloom finds a fairy named Stella being attacked by an ogre out in the woods. In an effort to save her, Bloom discovers that she has fairy magic too. This is just the start of something much bigger for Bloom.

Breakdown: Alright, I need to prepare myself for this one. Just gonna jump into my subconscious for a tad.

*poof*

Girly part of me! Where are you?! I need you for 20 minutes and 14 seconds! I know you’re in here! I felt your presence when I was looking at puppy pictures earlier! Ah there you are. I don’t know why I don’t always look in the nook with my Beanie Baby collection first.

Away!

*poof*

So, yeah, as you can probably guess, despite having the girl parts, I’ve never been that girly. I’ve always been more into things that were more traditionally boy-like. I had some regular girly stuff like Barbies and bead sets and a fake plastic kitchen (I make the best plastic omelets), I’ve even had the tea parties and dressed like a fairy princess once. But if you ever asked me to choose between something like Power Rangers and My Little Pony, I’d be imagining piloting the Megazord before you’d finish your sentence. I never really disliked girly things, I was just more interested in boy-ish stuff…..It was cooler….No My Little Pony dolls shoot lasers or explode, okay?

With that in mind, it goes without saying that I never really watched Winx Club. I caught a few minutes of it here and there but—OOH BEYBLADE’S ON!

*cough* Something else would usually come on.

But I’m not without my girliness. My femininity. My female…itude…..I have a purse.

Let’s see if I can get into Winx Club.

*one episode later*

Mmmmmmmm…..Nrrghhh……Unf.

Alright, let me level with you. This show is not terrible on the basis of rampant girliness. The girliness levels are high, damn near ridiculous (The main character’s animal sidekick is a damn bunny for crying out loud), but I was able to get through that relatively fine…

This episode is just poorly written.

Right off the bat, the pacing for the first half is breakneck. In the first three minutes, we’re briefly introduced to our main character, Bloom, who is a normal average teenage girl, she sees a fairy girl with a valley girl accent fighting an ogre, she starts to be defeated, Bloom goes to help her, reveals she suddenly has powers, knocks the ogre away, the fairy girl, named Stella, gets back up, defeats the ogre with ease and then faints.

The pacing slows down a bit then ramps right back up after the ten minute mark. For example, in the time span of a minute, Stella brings Bloom to Alfea, an all-girls boarding college for fairies, pixies and something called…gowylians? Gowillians?….Uh those – Most of whom are princesses because of course they are. They learn to be magic users, protectors of their realms and queens.

This place is right down the road from the boy’s school – The Red Fountain School for Heroics and Bravery (A place ‘full of hunks’ according to Stella), where young men learn to become military heroes utilizing such things as hand to hand combat, weapon use, basic survival, magic swords and DRAGONS. Look! Look! The boys get magic swords and dragons! They get the cool stuff!

They’re also closeby to the Clow Tower School for Witches, which could not be more designed to be a villain factory if you tried.

Then, in the same minute mind you, she informs Bloom that she already invited some of the boys from the Red Fountain school to her house. When did she do this? She never had the opportunity as far as I saw.

If the pacing doesn’t get you, the story won’t do you any favors. It is extremely cut and dry ‘normal person discovers she has magic powers and is tasked to save the world’ schtick. The good guys are obvious, the bad guys are even more obvious and they practically go out of their way to separate everyone into their respective groups. For God’s sake, if sectioning off good from evil wasn’t enough, they have to cordon off the boys into their own school too. So we can wrangle the love interests? What’s that about?

Wait a minute.

*One Wiki Later*

Yup, that’s literally it’s purpose. All of the future members of the Winx club will have either fiances or boyfriends and, you guessed it, they all, barring one, come from the Red Fountain school. Wow.

Bloom’s parents are unreasonably stupid. Not believing your daughter brought home a fairy is one thing, being one room away from a door that is being brutally pounded on by someone, seeing a pet freaking out about it and constantly wondering why the animal is freaking out and pointing to the aforementioned door is another. They have to shake the whole house and actually enter before they realize, holy crap, someone’s at the door.

Anyone familiar with Tuxedo Mask Syndrome in magical girl shows can rest assured that the girls do indeed get rescued in the end by the hero boys she mentioned. At the very least, they barely know what they’re doing too.

The dialogue is okay at best and cringe-worthy at worst. There’s a lot of lame slang, valley girl speak and just horribly written lines delivered in lackluster ways. Par for the course for 4Kids.

The art and animation are horrid. It’s not the absolute worst I’ve seen, but it is quite a ways down there. Italy, I hate to keep giving you crap, but….you kinda keep giving me crap. It’s weird. There isn’t really a tidal wave of animation errors – it’s moreso like an unfinished animation or just sloppily done. The action actually isn’t the worst part of it. The bad animation is most highlighted in the speaking scenes. I laughed out loud when we saw Brendan speaking in that extreme closeup. If there was ever a shot where bobble-head physics applied, it’s that one.

The music is about what you’d expect from a girl-targeted show from 4Kids. Girly earworms. I will wag my finger in 4Kids face for one moment of music faux pas. They very clearly use a piece of BG music from Pokemon when Bloom wakes up. Tsk tsk.

As a first episode, it does the job just fine. Mostly because they’re mowing down the plot of the episode to shove every bit of exposition down our throats as quickly as possible. It introduces us to the characters and their universe just fine. They don’t really explain too well what fairies are in terms of what they do, nor do they explain how their magic works. They also never explain why or how Bloom is a fairy. She just shows she has powers and Stella spends half the episode gushing about how awesome she is.

They show the big bads, but we have no clue what they want beside power and I can only assume world domination.

Final Verdict—wait a minute.

While this first episode, in my opinion, is a hot mess that doesn’t make me want to want to watch anymore, I will concede for a bit. Winx Club is a huge franchise spanning over several seasons, movies and even comics.

I’ve read some stuff from future storylines and it seems somewhat interesting. I don’t want to write off the entire franchise for you all here, so let’s leave this as an;

ebzss3e

I, personally, won’t be continuing because it’s just not my cup of tea. However, if you can find yourself getting into shows of this vein, I recommend giving it a go for a few episodes. If anything, the art and animation seem to improve over time.

Blogger Recognition Award (+ A Surprise!)

Whoo! I’ve been recognized! This awesome person named Jenn bestowed upon me this award. I knew all those years of pretending this was a blog and not my bin for crazy ramblings would pay off.

Thank you very much for the nomination, Jenn. 🙂 Do you like anime, reviews, good things, happiness and listening to me tell you to read a great blog? Then look at Jenn’s Blog, Welcome to Hell Zone!

Here are the rules for this award.

1.Say thanks to who nominated you and leave a link back to that persons blog.
2.Give the story or history of your blog.

3.Give two or more pieces of advice for new bloggers.

4. Nominate 10 other bloggers and link their blogs.

History of My Blog

Is it boring to say ‘I wanted to make a blog for my reviews, so I did?’

Okay, let’s back up then. Many, many years ago, I was a frequent player of the now far defunct online Pokemon game, Pokemon Crater. I was also a common face on the forums, where I met many great people, some of which are still my friends to this day.

The forums had a blog section where users were free to write about whatever they wanted, within rules of course. I started writing reviews in there, and since the website is gone I am completely blanking on exactly when I started doing this, but I wanna say, estimating from other sources, it was mid 2006—wha, mid-2006? I feel ancient right now.

And, yeah, surprise, my origins are rooted in Pokemon. I was far more into doing Pokemon sprite work than writing reviews at that point. I had a sprite shop and everything. I loved doing splices and recolors, but I especially enjoyed making glowing and ‘angel’ versions of Pokemon. I wasn’t fantastic at it, but I had regular-ish requests and did it on a frequent basis.

Anyhoo, I didn’t do these on any sort of schedule on my reviews and I had barely any format to them. I’d watch some anime and blather about it in a short blog post whenever I felt like it.

Flash forward to late 2007 where the admins of the site are saying the website’s going down – and quick. Like a handful of days of notice before the place implodes. Being such a popular and large site, it caused quite the stir to scamper off to other places. I migrated to a forum that was specially made for Crater refugees, which I won’t share the name of since 1) It’s dead anyway and 2) it’s mostly meant for close-knit already established members and 3) I am pretty sure registrations are turned off either way.

I was made a moderator by the admin and happy days were here again. It took me six months before I finally put up an open review thread for anime, but I did and posted…..more regularly than I did on Crater but still very sporadically and without a solid format.

Over the years, I started reviewing things more frequently, polished up my writing style, branched out into cartoon reviews (back then, it was usually just holiday specials), and even started some of my sub-series like Sub/Dub Comparisons and Pokemon Extravaganza. I also started doing very minor Pokemon reviews episode by episode, which grew and improved over time as well. I started late Orange League and am still doing them today. As of this writing, I’m up to episode 181, which kinda depresses me because I thought, after all this time, I’d be much further than that. Oh well, at least when I close the gap I’ll have a hell of a backlog to upload.

As time went by, the website experienced a….uh….let’s just say a cataclysm of drama that, in hindsight, was incredibly stupid and poorly handled by all parties, myself included.

After that, the forum started to die, even more than it was, quite frankly. I felt like my writings weren’t being seen and that I was missing out on all sorts of discussions about the things I was writing about. I gave a couple of blogs a test drive until I finally decided to go all in on a WordPress blog.

In regards to the name, I was known to get into rageful rants and random babblings in both my reviews and my regular blog posts, and I still am proud guilty of that to this day, so I figured The Anime Madhouse was perfect for it…..Took me a long time to realize I might’ve made this place invisible to search engines because there’s an anime studio named Madhouse….Pbbbtt.

I exported and continue to export various reviews I made at my old place here, revamping the hell out of some of them, but I have greatly enjoyed making reviews, creating new series and discussing various topics with the community here on WordPress since February 17, 2014……Hey, that means–

cheer2cheer3cheer4cheer5

It’s my Bloggiversary!

It’s now been four years since I started my reign of terror. That’s one way of spicing up a Bloggiversary post, I suppose. 😛

Piece of Advice for New Bloggers #1: Try to Do Plenty of Research on What You’re Writing About.

Not only does research enhance the quality of a post immensely, but research can actually be a lot of fun. I’ve stumbled upon quite a few interesting tidbits and stories about the things that I review just from doing a quick Google search on it.

You absolutely shouldn’t feel compelled to do hours of research to make a few blog posts, god knows I usually don’t, but learning more about your chosen topic and even citing sources can be greatly beneficial both to your readers and you.

Piece of Advice for New Bloggers #2: Never Be Discouraged by Lack of Likes, Comments, Shares etc.

Blogging is something that you do moreso for yourself than anybody. Obviously, we post this stuff online to be seen, otherwise we’d just keep a diary, but don’t feel discouraged just because you don’t get a lot of likes, comments, shares etc. When you’re just starting out, people will have to find you. And even after doing this for years, you might still find little in regards to feedback. That’s okay. Just the fact that you’re putting yourself out there and having fun writing is all that matters.

But if you really yearn for some discussions, try visiting other peoples blogs and comment on them. Like their stuff, share it on social media, ask questions, make requests or just say hi. You’d be amazed how many people check out your stuff just because you pop in and share your thoughts on their posts.

As a bit of a tip, though, don’t follow too many blogs in a short period of time. You’ll be automatically locked out of following people and have to ask for a system admin to unblock you. That totally didn’t happen to me. It happened to a friend. Named….TwiddleFix….

…..Hey, it’s not my fault that I keep finding interesting blogs around here. I blame all of you and your suggesting of visiting blogs.

Speaking of which, I suggest you visit these blogs because here are my nominations!

(Hopefully I caught people who haven’t done it yet. No pressure either way.)

Matt-in-the-Hat

Nice Job Breaking it, Hero

Karandi

Lita Kino Anime Corner

The Otaku Judge

The Cool Kat’s Reviews

DReager1

Mr. Panda

Lethargic Ramblings

Fueled by Smiling

Hell Girl Episode 9: Sweet Trap Review

Hell Girl ep 9
I can’t tell if he’s stuck in the cake or if he became a part of the cake….

Plot: Hiromi and her sister Yuko are ready to open their new sweets shop. Ever since they were young, they always wanted to open a sweets shop with their father, but he passed away before that dream could be realized. With Hiromi’s great talents and Yuko’s savings from years of part-time jobs, they’re finally able to open a shop. However, Hiromi’s previous boss, Mirasaki, steals one of her trademark desserts and makes her look like the thief, damning their shop to ruin before it even gets off the ground. Yuko wants revenge against Mirasaki for crushing her sister’s dreams.

Breakdown: Back to less infuriating targets, this one’s iffy on whether or not the guy deserved to go to hell.

Mirasaki is indeed an asshole. His reasons behind stealing her dessert weren’t even to further his career or anything. She rejected his sexual advances, so he decided the best course of action to get revenge was to basically ruin her career by stealing a trademark dessert she made and was planning to unveil in her new shop, then he got them both back to back TV spots.

He revealed his stolen dessert on his segment, and when Hiromi presented the same dessert on her segment immediately afterward, she looked like a thief. He was a notable chef and she was merely an up and comer, plus she was his apprentice, so it appeared like it was a no-contest case of her stealing his dessert.

They don’t say her career is ruined, though. They just say he ruined her shop. And, yeah, he did. They were barely open a few weeks before they had to close their doors, and it was all because everyone labeled the place as belonging to a dessert thief.

Both Hiromi and Yuko are still very young, and they can save up the money for another shop. It was one dessert and one minor scandal that didn’t even have proof attached to it. She still has a very hopeful future ahead of her if they play their cards right. Does Mirasaki still suck? Yes. Does he deserve an ass-whuppin’? Sure. But going to hell? And Yuko going to hell to do so? Ehhhh.

Yuko does feel particularly guilty because the only reason he was able to steal her dessert was because Yuko gave him a sample when they were talking about Hiromi’s new shop. How he was able to determine the exact recipe by a taste, I dunno. Maybe she felt it was worth it for how much pain she seemingly caused her sister, but I still don’t believe this needed to happen.

Not for pun sake, but the whole situation was very bittersweet.

The torment this time was also….goofy. People threw cakes at him and called him a terrible chef, people kept turning into frosting and then at the end he was eaten by a cake. And any ‘torment’ scene with someone yelling ‘EAT ME!’ is just not going to do anything for me but make me laugh.

Hajime and Tsugumi were in this episode, but really only to show us that they weren’t one-off characters. They did nothing.

Rating: 5/10

Next Episode….

…..Previous Episode

Exploring Disney’s Castle: Dinosaur (2000)

Rating: 7/10

Plot: The egg of an iguanodon is separated from its parents. It ends up traveling far away from any dinosaurs to an island where he’s found and cared by a family of lemurs who name him Aladar.

Despite being vastly different from anyone on the island, he lives a very happy life with his family for many years. One day, a horrible meteor shower wipes out their home and most of the animals that they knew.

While escaping the aftermath, Aladar and his family, his mother, grandfather, sister and uncle, run into a herd of many dinosaurs trying to make it back to their nesting grounds since they believe it may be a safe haven from this catastrophe.

Lead by Cron, a cruel iguanodon who believes in survival of the fittest, the herd tries to make it to their nesting grounds alive, but Aladar doesn’t agree with Cron’s methods and wishes to get everyone, the old, young, sick and injured there alive no matter what.

Breakdown: I remember seeing this a while back and not getting a huge impression about it. It’s not bad, there are many good points, but there’s nothing very fantastic about it. The visuals, especially during the meteor shower and Aladar’s egg traveling to the island are wonderful, but unlike what I first thought, the backgrounds are almost always actual footage of real locations with only the animals and the effects CGI. The visuals are still great, though, and the CGI meshes well with the environment.

The story’s somewhat predictable, though the meteor shower comes right out of nowhere. There’s still several parts that are heartwarming, tragic and impacting, especially when Eema, one of the elderly dinosaurs, starts to deteriorate.

The romance is predictable as well. Only female iguanodon tail meet only other iguanodon around that isn’t your brother or a dick (Cron being both)

The characters are where it loses me a bit. We have Zini who is Aladar’s lemur uncle. He’s obnoxious and that’s all there is to it. We’re supposed to feel bad for him because he can’t find a mate, but if you watched him for five minutes you’d know why he can’t find one. And of course he’s a total playboy by the end for no reason. His character does nothing in the slightest. His little sister, Suri, does way more than Zini does.

The lemurs on their own don’t do much anyway. They ride the backs of the dinosaurs and make comments about what’s happening around them. That’s about it. The mom does some stuff, as does Suri, but after the opening scene they’re just kinda there.

Then we have I guess his name is Url. He’s a ankylosaurus that acts like a dog for reasons beyond my understanding. I don’t know why some of these dinosaurs are smart and can speak but then we have dog-like dinosaurs like Url and carnosaurus who are nothing but hungry beasts incapable of rational thought.

Cron’s a pretty decent bad guy, but you can’t sympathize with him very much. I know that in dire circumstances sometimes you need to do harsh things in order to ensure that even some survive instead of none, but by the end it really seems like he didn’t give a crap about any of the herd and that if any of them didn’t make it they didn’t deserve to make it. In some circumstances he was nearly causing their death by his blowhard plans.

That’s supposed to make Aladar look like a real hero by contrast, which it does, but they clearly want you to have some sort of connection to him since he’s noted as being Neera’s (female iguanodon) brother.

Bottomline: This isn’t a fantastic movie, but it’s still a very enjoyable film with plenty of suspense, action, some romance, and likable characters especially in Eema and Baylene. The story is predictable, but it’s not horribly cliché. The art and animation along with the music are fantastic, with maybe the lemurs looking the worst. You may get annoyed by Zini, but he gets hardly any screentime so I wouldn’t worry about it. I’d still watch it if it was randomly airing on TV.

Recommended Audience: This is a Disney production, so it’s not too bad in the content department, but you do have sudden apocalyptic conditions, corpses, some dinosaurs die on screen, some dinosaur corpses are eaten by raptors and carnosaurs, non-graphically for the most part, and a good chunk of it takes place off camera, there’s some blood….eh 10+.

Ojamajo Doremi Episode 2 Sub/Dub Comparison

Plot: Hazuki is depressed with her life and wishes to be Doremi. She doesn’t mind the idea of being Hazuki since she’s rich, so she uses magic to change them into each other to live the other’s life. However, is the grass really greener on the other side?

——————————————–

The episode starts off with Hazuki leaving for the day and wondering to herself what would happen if she ran away before the theme song starts. After the theme song ends, we get Doremi giving a short recap as to who she is and why she has powers, the regular magic girl show shtick. Both of these scenes are removed.

Pop tells Doremi that the bath is ready for her whereas Caitlyn asks if Dorie’s having conversations with herself again.

The witch exams are just called ninth through first exams. In the dub, the first exam is called the Fairy Exam whereas, originally, it’s the ninth. Technically this is still descriptive of the exam since it’s an exam that, if passed, allows Doremi to get her own fairy like Majorika has in Lala.

Doremi originally accidentally tells Hazuki that she’s a witch for a second, and imagines herself as a frog alongside Majorika. Hazuki asks what she means by that, she freaks out and says she has a witch’s way of thinking. In the dub, the daydream and the freaking out are removed and it’s changed to Dorie telling Reanne that she forgot to do her homework. I have no clue why this was cut.

Doremi’s actually more rude than Dorie is in the next part. It’s clear that Hazuki is upset and depressed about her life right now. When she’s trying to explain it, Doremi says, literally, that it doesn’t matter and that she’s the world’s unhappiest pretty girl, but if she were Hazuki she’d be lucky and happy.

In the dub, Reanne says she might have a point that her life seems good, but sometimes she wishes she were someone else. Dorie then goes off saying she’d want to be like that shampoo commercial where she smells the shampoo and then rides off into the rainforest on a unicorn….call that stupid, but that actually sounds like an awesome commercial.

Text is replaced again to make the books say…oddly enough ‘reading.’…”Kids, these are your reading books.” “…..As opposed to non-reading books?” “DO YOU WANT DETENTION!?”

Subbed:

Dubbed:

Name Change: Yuki-Sensei is changed to Ms. Shannon

Originally, Doremi apologizes for what she said earlier and Hazuki says she wishes Doremi hadn’t found out about her problems that way and also apologizes. In the dub, Dorie tells Reanne that her friendship is important to her and that she wants her to know that she can always tell her anything. Reanne says that no one’s never said such a nice thing to her before and says Dorie’s a great friend.

I thank God above that 4Kids only dubbed two magical girl anime in their existence because between Mew Mew Power in my face and Faladeiladongding now I am a witchling, I’m already resisting the urge to be a serial killer.

The spell to turn Reanne into Dorie is “This will make a real great story, turn Reanne into Dorie.” The original’s has yet to change.

Hazuki is happy she’s finally Doremi whereas Reanne is happy she’s ‘someone else’, which is a lot sadder when you think about it. Being envious of someone and despising your life so much that you’d just wish to be anyone else are two very different things.

Aw, 4Kids, you were doing so well. There’s a sign on the trash bins that says ‘Trash’ in Japanese. Instead of changing it like they’ve been doing, they painted away not only the word but also all of the little designs on the sign and the bins. They replace them with typical recycling symbols.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

The spell for changing Dorie into Reanne is “Now for part two of this plan, turn Dorie into Reanne!” Still the same in the original.

The dub doesn’t include the parts about saying that witches really exist and also adds that Dorie jokes with Reanne about calling her sister ‘bratface’. In addition, while they keep in the part about asking how to address their parents, Dorie doesn’t ask Reanne for the same information whereas Doremi does.

Again, they change her being excited about being Doremi into her being excited to be quite literally anyone but herself.

The eyecatches are removed.

Pop isn’t singing a girly pop (hehe) song when Hazuki comes in like Caitlyn is. Also, Pop kindly greets Hazuki (Doremi) while Catilyn says snotily “What are YOU staring at?”

There’s no way to keep this in here besides being uncharacteristically loyal to the source material, but Hazuki keeps calling Pop, Pop-chan, which she seems to despise. It causes her to continuously freak out, and she refers to her prior conversation with the actual Doremi by saying ‘If you don’t want one of my boyfriends, that’s fine. But don’t refer to me by that suffix!”

In the dub, she’s freaking out about how nice Reanne is being to her. She then says the complete opposite of the last line by saying this means Dorie actually wants one of her boyfriends now, but it will cost her.

They edit out a shot of Hazuki freaking out when Pop says she’s acting weird.

Also, they cut the next shot of Pop down to just show her with big round eyes.

Doremi’s mom is nicer and just asks Pop what she wants whereas Dorie’s mom yells that she’s busy.

In the original, Doremi’s mom asks for the sauce. The dub asks for the flour. She then asks to check the bathroom where as the dub asks for vacuuming. Asking if the gate is locked is changed to answering the phone and Doremi’s mom is consistently nicer than Dorie’s seemingly attitude-ish one.

Doremi clamors over calling Hazuki’s mom ‘mama’ whereas Dorie’s clamoring over saying ‘ma’am’ because god knows she never could’ve said that when she was Dorie.

The one thing I always find weird about these ‘switching bodies’ episodes of anything is when the characters change clothes or are the other person for extended periods of time. Technically, in this case, the girls are just magically transformed to look exactly like each other, but it’s still an exact replica of Doremi’s and Hazuki’s bodies. You’d have to change clothes, take showers, do….other things, in someone else’s body. That’s just creepy.

In the original, Hazuki’s mom only says they’re having dinner at a hotel. In the dub, there’s no mention of a hotel, they just call the place The Winchesters. That can only mean one thing. They’re having dinner with Sam and Dean.

Hazuki’s mom asks if she’d like Italian or French for dinner. Reanne’s mom asks if she’d like pasta or salad.

Hazuki’s mom replies to Doremi’s request of steak by mentioning that she had it yesterday. Doremi responds by saying that today’s another day and that’s just what she wants.

In the dub, they keep the mention of steak there but they change her mom’s line to saying Reanne’s a vegetarian. Dorie responds by saying she’s not one anymore and she needs protein. Hazuki’s mom responds by saying she can have whatever she wants, and Doremi thanks her. Reanne’s mom asks her about her argument about soy protein, and Dorie just says to forget about it.

Hazuki’s mom goes off to make the reservations. In the dub, she goes off to pick more dresses.

Hazuki’s teacher doesn’t tell her what song to play, and Doremi asks when she gets steak. Hazuki’s mom laughs at the fact that she thought she’d get dinner right then. In the dub, Reanne’s teacher tells her to play Paco Bell. Dorie asks what Paco Bell is Reanne’s mom says she’s been practicing it all week and to kindly play it for them. To be fair, I don’t know what Paco Bell is either. Yo quiero Paco Bell!

Doremi’s dad shows Hazuki a catalog about lures when Doremi’s mom bursts in to tell them to stop what they’re doing and come eat dinner. Doremi’s dad yells about how he’s a serious fly fisher, and Doremi’s mom strikes back by saying it’s awful because she’s the one who has to gut and clean them. This eventually leads to a comedic, note COMEDIC, physical fight. Exactly like the ones you’d see in Western cartoons with the doofy sound effects and cloud of smoke.

In the dub, Dorie’s mom tells him to stop talking to Reanne about that stuff and Dorie’s dad interrupts her by saying he’s a very serious fly fishing writer. Dorie’ mom strikes back by saying he’s barely sold anything and the entire scene with the extended comedic fight and the arguing is removed as we cut straight to Hazuki’s reaction shot, which is also edited to be rid of the dust clouds.

I get it, ya know, domestic violence and whatnot, but come on, they couldn’t have made it anymore comically unserious if they put a giant banner on screen that said ‘THIS IS A JOKE! ONLY A COMPLETE BRAINDEAD IDIOT WOULD THINK DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS OKAY!”

Hazuki wonders how they can be so civil and friendly to one another at dinner after having such a bad fight. Due to the previous completely unneeded line change, this is changed to Reanne not being able to eat the steak dinner since she’s a vegetarian. I’m really just hoping sometime in the future Hazuki will eat meat and 4Kids will either completely miss it or edit it out because they’re idiots.

This line is changed, but what they did do was funny. Doremi’s mom says she knew Doremi was acting weird so she bought the steak to help cheer her up. In the dub, this line is omitted and instead we get this.

Mom: “She doesn’t have a fever.”

Dad: “Did you check her tongue?”

Mom: “For WHAT?!”

Dad: “I dunno! Spots?!”

I nearly spit out my drink this was so funny. Kudos, 4Kids. Also, you can tell Dan Green has a lot of fun as the dad. The parents have a good back and forth in both versions. Usually anyway.

Hazuki says her parents will be really worried about her whereabouts if they find Doremi in her bed instead of her. In the dub, Reanne says if they find Dorie there, they’ll be confused and send her to the hospital.

Hazuki talks about how bad she feels for deceiving Doremi’s parents and how she made them worry about her since she wasn’t acting like Doremi would act. In the dub, Reanne talks about how much she missed her family while she was with Dorie’s family.

The next scene is the same only the dub adds in the mention of her not eating it because she’s a vegetarian. It’s really important that we drill this into your head for no reason.

They cut the final scene out, which is Doremi learning that the steak that was kept from dinner last night was eaten sometime, somehow between Hazuki going to bed and Doremi returning late at night. Her family rejoices in her being back to normal, but Doremi laments at her bad luck.

Next episode we’re introduced to Aiko who seems to be the last girl in their magical girl group who will get powers – at least during this series.

…Previous Episode