Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 7 Episodes 11, 12 & 13 (FINALE) Review

Episode 11: Little Sister’s Room

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Plot: A teenage boy searches through his little sister’s room without her permission for something of his that she seemingly stole from him. He hides under the bed when he hears her and her friend enter the room, but they’re not the only ones there.

Breakdown: I liked the background tension this episode built with the shadowy figure hopping around behind the guy without drawing attention to itself. I also liked the design of the ghost or demon thing that was under the bed.

However, this episode is really odd because, even though Yami Shibai episodes are only four minutes long, this somehow felt really padded. He spends way too long reaching for the…thing (what was it? A book? A CD? I couldn’t figure it out) and we spend too long listening to the girls prattle on, spending half of their conversation making fun of fat people, whether it be overweight fans of a pop idol named Michi or her fat otaku brother that she also mocks for being perverted, even though we see no indication that he is as such.

I started really sympathizing with the brother because, even though they’re trying to make off like he’s a creepy otaku, he just seems like a typical guy who has an interest in anime/pop idols. She’s the one stealing his stuff, claiming she’s going to sell all of his merch and saying he’s so creepy he’d probably install a camera in her bedroom.

I was really waiting for him to burst out from under the bed to yell at her or maybe accidentally burst out a declaration while under the bed because of all the things she was saying about him, but then I realized he’s right to be highly concerned about being ousted. It’s not just a case of her brother being in her room, but he was hiding under her bed. If she told their parents later, I can bet he’d get in much more trouble for supposedly perverted behavior than she would for hearsay comments about him being creepy, especially when she’s saying that stuff while he’s hiding under the bed….We know the context, but they wouldn’t.

It’s so strange that, ultimately, I felt more tension wondering if they would catch him under the bed than I did of any supernatural being attacking any of them. The demon or ghost or whatever it was really felt like an afterthought, honestly. At the beginning, I thought we would find out their had another sibling who died or something and it was the ghost of that sibling or the room was kept the same after the younger sibling died and neither sibling was meant to be in there, but nope. Just a completely random spirit haunting the girl’s room for some reason – never attacking her for seemingly weeks or months, according to the psychic friend, because reasons.

And, of course, this is a lose-lose situation in regards to the attack. I sympathized too much with the brother to want him to die, and I hate the girl and her friend too much to not want them to die.

The art in this episode was also really poor. The shapes were wonky, especially the eyes, there was a severe lack of detailing, and there’s one shot where the girls have no faces for absolutely no reason. Usually, animators will opt not to draw a face on a character if they’re very far away, but the camera was way too close to warrant not drawing faces.

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Episode 12: Fitting Room

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Plot: A business woman relives her glory days in a cute little boutique that sells a lot of the outfits she used to wear when she was younger. It’s easy to get wrapped up in nostalgia and even easier to become consumed by it.

Breakdown: I really enjoyed this episode, even if it did have its flaws. For instance, there are a few too many old outfits of hers in this boutique for her to not feel even slightly creeped out. She doesn’t seem bothered by the fact that there are no employees in the building. And….was it my imagination or did she get killed because she brought in too many items to the fitting room? I only ask because there’s no reason they’d bring that up otherwise and the sign fell down after she got nabbed, so…….Also, why was there like closets filled with clothes in the fitting room if you’re only allowed to bring in one outfit?

Otherwise, mannequins can sure go to hell, eh?

This episode was interesting in that it focused more on psychological terror than the supernatural threat. This woman is taking a stroll down memory lane by wearing all of her old outfits. She’s mostly remembering people praising her for how good she looked, what good fashion sense she had, how good she was at piano or something. But then the memories turn sour. She starts hearing those same people say terrible things about her, which causes her to freak out.

I was wondering if her memories were really accurate. Because it seems like people either loved buttering her up or these memories were not right. I’m just having a hard time believing everyone around her doled out such unyielding praise to her at such….suck-up levels. Especially the part where she’s remembering what her friends were saying. I probably wouldn’t really have thought to ask but she also said she thinks she would have the courage to confess to a cute guy named Hashimoto now, as opposed to back then, and she said he was so nice to people, even to her.

He also, when shifted to a negative memory, claims she’s indecisive and hesitant. Where did that even come from? If the other negative memories of her were right and she was full of herself and needed compliments a lot, she wouldn’t be hesitant and indecisive.

Was this whole experience in the fitting room meant to expose or exploit some feelings of insecurity? Were her memories reliable at all? She’s so caught up in reliving her glory days, that I almost get the feeling like her current life isn’t all that great, which makes the ending that much sadder, if you ask me.

I wouldn’t say this episode is particularly scary, but I found it interesting at least. Sometimes, your own inner thoughts and concerns about yourself can be your deepest fears, and that’s pretty powerful if that’s what they were going for.

I won’t spoil the ending……but screw mannequins….and those creepy creaky noises they were making.

The art for this episode was done in a similar style to Manga Cafe, but the designs were quite a bit different, much more realistic and less cartoony, and even the animation wasn’t nearly as janky. I really liked it.

Episode 13: Refrigerator

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Plot: A refrigerator observes its family through the passage of time.

Breakdown: Okay!……Okay……Okay?…….

…..Ooo…kay?….

So…it…uh….there’s this fridge……..No, I should start somewhere else….Have you ever seen The Brave Little Toaster?

Ah, nevermind.

Alright, let’s just start at the very very beginning, which is simply the title. When I saw that title, I was very skeptical. It’s our season finale, and it’s about a fridge. It doesn’t help that the fridge talks. I really thought this would end up being one of stupidest episodes of Yami Shibai since that one about the toilet, but I didn’t hate it, honestly. It’s different, certainly, but it’s not bad different. It’s just….very….very confusing. And, sadly, no matter how many comments I read, really no one had a satisfactory theory on what happened to the little boy, so I’m going to share my thoughts.

Please note that my theory changed several times and this one might be kinda out there, but it makes sense to me.

The story starts out picturesque. A fridge is enjoying its life serving as a new addition to the kitchen in the home of a happy family. However, after a few years, the family gets increasingly miserable to the point where they’re always at each other’s throats. Less and less food would be put in the fridge, and they rarely ate together anymore.

After about a decade, it’s clear the family has gone nuts. There’s no food in the fridge anymore, it’s stained with blood and they’re very manic. They eventually load up the fridge with large packages of food, which makes the fridge very happy. However, the fridge notes that the food seems strange and smells very familiar. It also notes that the little boy is the only one of the family to not grow up. The father is notably not present, and the remaining family members chant that there wasn’t another way.

As we end the episode, the conclusion can be drawn that they killed the father, chopped up his body and put it in packages in the fridge either to hide or eat it maybe.

The end.

Right before I wrote this review, I had one theory that the father killed the little boy right after the shot of them acting all happy-go-lucky. Then they became miserable because of the boy’s death, and the boy was haunting the house afterward which is why we see him throughout. Then they went crazy and killed the father in an act of vengeance. I thought maybe they had hidden the boy’s body in the fridge at some point, which is why the fridge said it smelled familiar, but that didn’t make quite enough sense because we would’ve seen at least a hint of it at some point in the episode.

But then I noticed something. The boy never spoke. He never really moved much either. He mostly just stared at stuff. His shirt also never once changed. And then I noticed the most damning thing – from the very beginning, there was only four chairs at the dinner table but, if the boy was part of their family, there would be five (Mom, Dad, older brother, sister and younger brother). In addition, when the mom puts the cake in the fridge, there are only four slices.

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I can’t imagine he was part of the family and died before the start of the episode, so I came up with this theory. Again, it’s kinda out there and might not fully fit given some details, but I’m comfortable with it.

The fridge isn’t a new fridge. It’s just new to this family/house, right? I believe the fridge is a refurbished used fridge that belonged to someone else. The boy was killed, chopped up and stored in the fridge, which is why the fridge noted that the smell was familiar even though we never saw any body parts being put into the fridge over the years (and all of the food looked normal to me, but that might not mean anything.)

The boy now haunts the fridge and affects the family of the owner of the fridge.

As for why the family eventually went nuts and the father got killed and chopped up by them, I believe the boy’s father killed him and he wanted to kill the father of this family to get revenge by proxy, so he used his ghost powers to influence them, make them go insane and eventually do the deed. That’s why he looked so happy in the end and finally disappeared. The fridge also got blood stains as we neared the end because the ghost was causing the stains from his body to reemerge now that the killing had happened or was close to happening.

The only real hitch in this theory that I can’t get around is why the fridge doesn’t recognize the kid, but I guess it’s possible that it was a fridge in the basement or garage or something of the first owner and never really noticed the kid. Maybe the events were so horrible, it blocked it from its memory.

I dunno, maybe my entire theory is bunk. But if you just take the episode at face value it is ridiculously confusing. You pretty much have to make up your own story and overlay it on top to really get enough value, story-wise, from it. It is an entertaining episode if not just for the unique perspective, different storytelling technique and gradual buildup to the really dark stuff.

The fact that the story was being narrated by this admittedly adorable sounding refrigerator also added a unique aspect to this episode. It was a deep contrast to the dark feelings of the family and the grim vibe. I felt a tiny bit sad for the fridge at the end. (Well, that’s a sentence I said.)

It was a creepy episode, but it stops there. The story and atmosphere never become truly scary. It’s one of the better episodes of the season, but it’s also probably the most confusing one of the entire franchise. I know I liked it, but it would definitely be polarizing for most people.

Sad to say, this is another season that closed out without any special little ending or the narrator doing anything special. 😦

That being said, it’s fitting that the end of the newest season of Yami Shibai also closes out this year’s Animating Halloween. It went by way too fast, if you ask me, and I can only hope we get another season of Yami Shibai to visit next year. The full review of season seven is coming up soon, but for now have a happy and safe Halloween!

And be nice to your sentient fridge.


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Animating Halloween: Dead Space – Aftermath Review

Rating: 5.5/10

Plot: Three years before the events of Dead Space 2, the USG O’Bannon went to Aegis VII to collect shards of the marker that Isaac Clarke crashed into the surface. However, shortly after they were dispatched, the CEC also loses contact with the O’Bannon. When the Marines go to investigate, they find that, out of the 137 crew members of the O’Bannon, there are only four signs of life detected. Everyone else was slaughtered.

Aftermath chronicles the stories of each of the four remaining crew members – Isabel Cho, Nickolas Kuttner, Alejandro Borges and Nolan Stross – as they piece together what happened on the O’Bannon.

Breakdown: I’m going to bite my tongue for something I’ll definitely be addressing later, but let me just say this movie had me internally screaming (in a bad way) within the first three minutes and consistently remains a prevalent problem throughout the bookends.

Dead Space: Aftermath was meant to serve as a bridge between the video games Dead Space and Dead Space 2, and….it’s kinda that a little I guess. But since homework is poo, as I mentioned in the last Dead Space movie, Downfall, we’re going to be trying to take this at face value without concerning ourselves too much with continuity issues between the games.

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The USG O’Bannon has suddenly ceased communication with the CEC, so they send out a ‘rescue’ team of marines to see what happened. When they arrive, they see that the ship is littered with torn apart bodies. Only four life signs are detected on board out of the 137 listed crew. When they find them, one of them, Kuttner, goes berserk and kills one of the soldiers, so they’re stunned with high powered tasers and detained.

They start interrogating all of them individually to get their stories on what happened when they were deployed to Aegis VII.

The movie is separated into four flashbacks that are bookended by the continuing plot going on in the rescue ship, the USM Abraxis. Each flashback is drawn and animated in a different fashion. This is a creative and interesting way to both convey the story of what happened on the O’Bannon while also getting specific perspectives of the information through the eyes of each of our main characters. However, I do also have to ding it because it ultimately serves no point.

People were noting some changes in certain details that show differences in perspective, like Cho seemingly being made sluttier in Stross’ flashback while she’s very tall and well-built but also mature and responsible, barring the affair she was having with Stross, in her own flashback. In Kuttner’s flashback, he easily overpowered Noah and Alejandro, but in Alejandro’s flashback he gives a much better fight, even hurling him about 300 feet as he took a swipe at him near the end.

In any other story, these might be amusing changes, but in this circumstance, who cares about such petty discrepancies in perspective when over 100 people were brutally murdered? It’s no time for dick measuring contests and slut shaming.

The first one to be interrogated is Kuttner, who was the first one to have exposure to a fragment of the marker on Aegis VII. He went insane almost immediately after that, having constant hallucinations of his recently deceased young daughter, Vivian, leading him to have violent outbursts that set most of the events of the downfall of the O’Bannon into motion and created a slue of problems on the Abraxis.

The art style used for his segment is pretty good. It’s a sort of melding of Western and anime-styled art that is craggy but overall good. I did have a good laugh at Vivian’s face in one shot only because they made her eyes into sharp diamond shapes for no reason when they never look that way again after that.

Next up is Borges’ flashback, and uh…the art, but moreso the animation, for his segment is uh….stiff. Like, for several instances at the beginning, it seems like people are pivoting and turning like actual robots stiff. Outside of that, the art is much more in the realm of anime and is overall more detailed than Kuttner’s, but everyone keeps their suits on so it’s hard to tell for most of it.

Also, in case you somehow manage to forget because god knows they remind us enough times, Noah, who is part of Borges’ engineer crew, is his cousin. And as if we couldn’t already figure it out by the fact that he’s not a fellow survivor, Noah dies. Also, in case you somehow forget because, again, god knows they remind us enough times, Alejandro has a robot arm. He got it from trying to save his crew in a mining accident.

The robot arm is pretty cool, admittedly. Especially with the art in this segment.

Borges’ flashback continues further than Kuttner’s as it includes Noah’s death, their escape off of the exploding rig and the gratuitous death of several characters. Dead Space is no stranger to gruesome deaths, but yeesh.

Soooo….Halfway through the flashback, the only real views of actual faces have been either behind helmets that block nearly everything or Noah’s smashed up face. Once we get back to the main ship, we see the facial art and it’s not nearly as good as Kuttner’s flashback to say the least. The mouths are particularly ugly, being overly large (most notably on Borges) with nearly always-showing teeth, the oddly proportioned eyes, the heads are thin, and the stiff animation continues to bleed into it, particularly in the area of the horrible lip syncing.

They manage to return to the ship, and seem to be one of the only ships that made it back since the rest got destroyed in the debris of the planet as it was exploding. But the deaths aren’t over. The O’Bannon gets heavily damaged while trying to escape, and apparently they put TNT in the control panels because several of them blow up and kill crew members as they take damage.

Once the marker fragment has been given to the Captain, Borges demands to know why a rock was worth his cousin’s life, but gets little answer besides that it’s worth a lot of money.

Next up is, surprisingly, Nolan Stross. I say ‘surprisingly’ because Stross is the only character from Dead Space 2 who appears in this movie. I thought for sure they’d save his segment for last, but whatever.

By the way, they get all of the survivors to talk by tormenting them with hallucinations of their worst fears…….but 1) I don’t understand how they’re even doing that and 2) there’s no indication they wouldn’t have talked beforehand. It’s literally that they put them in the chair and then torture them without asking any questions.

Stross’ flashback is definitely the most anime-ish one so far. Outside of some eye designs that remind me of Reign: The Conquerer, it’s pretty darn good. I don’t exactly know why the Captain now has a collar so popped it’s covering his ears, though. Apparently, the marker fragment is making him think he’s in the 1980s.

Stross, being the head scientist on board the O’Bannon, is tasked with studying the fragment. He’s having marital problems as he struggles to maintain both his job and his family, including his precious infant son. Doesn’t help that his wife thinks he’s cheating on her with with Cho.

As Stross studies the fragment, he finds that it’s a blueprint for DNA and could completely revolutionize life as we know it…..But enough of that, time to prove his wife right by boinking Cho right in the research lab.

Later, Stross explains that the marker fragment has an odd effect on dead tissue. On contact, it reanimates it. When living beings touch or are around the marker for long periods of time, they have visions and nightmares at the start and eventually psychotic breaks – some being more susceptible to this effect than others. Kuttner was the one to break because he both touched the fragment (though, he was wearing gloves…) and was already on edge because it had only been weeks after losing his daughter.

Showcasing some pretty cool effects, we see that Stross is also slowly losing his sanity due to his exposure to the marker piece (And considering how he is in DS2, that’s no surprise.)

Well, it’s 45 minutes into this 80 minute long movie, so it has to be time for necromorphs to finally emerge, right? Right! And Stross actually manages to MAKE one.

He’s so interested in the powers of the marker, that he decides to grab a cadaver and test out its power of reanimation on it. Surprise, surprise, it turns into a necromorph and kills his colleague before going on a murder spree. It’s not long before the, this is probably the wrong term but let’s call it, infection starts spreading like wildfire and the entire ship is thrown into chaos.

Stross runs to save his family, only to be shocked to find that there are two creatures in the room that he swiftly kills. It doesn’t take much for the viewer to realize that the creatures he killed were actually his baby and wife, and that they most likely weren’t killed and reanimated as necromorphs – he just killed them in a psychotic fit, believing they were posing a threat to his family.

Our final flashback is Cho’s and….wow. Her segment has some crazy craggy art. It’s jagged af faces on top of weirdly proportioned bodies. It’s so weird. It’s like someone took the art from Akagi and made everyone super buff. Even Stross is completely cut, but he also a beak nose, so I’m really conflicted.

I’m also endlessly baffled at the fact that they will show some of the most graphic deaths they can but actually show a full-out sex scene? Oh dear god no! Children might see this! Now go twist another young girl’s neck ten times over until her head pops off. (See: Vivian)

Most of her flashback is stuff you can surmise from the others. She meets up with the other survivors as well as the Captain and some stragglers, all of which will obviously die because, again, this movie kinda has too much balls to believe it has the story strength to be able to work with showing us the only survivors at the BEGINNING of a horror movie. (And, dammit, that’s the same problem Downfall had!)

Some confusing deaths happen. One of the stragglers gets all of her head meat melted off by a necromorph throwing up in her face. I’m pretty sure that would be an insta-death, but they not only show her still standing several moments after her head has literally be reduced to a clean skull, but she can also hold her hands up to her head like she’s in pain. Can a doctor please tell me if any of that is plausible?

Other straggler dude dies because of a boring death, but then the Captain dies. There’s a hull breach and they try to shut the airlock doors, but the power is out so the captain sacrifices himself to shut them….since the manual lock…is outside of the door…..What purpose does it serve to have the only manual airlock mechanism…be outside of the airlock doors?

His death is actually pretty cool, though, because, realizing he won’t make it out, he grabs a grenade and launches himself into the group of necromorphs to take as many of them down as he can with him.

Now tasked with throwing the shard of the marker into the reactor core of the engine to stop the necromorphs, the survivors go and….well, do that.

Borges: “I am so fucking sick of these fucking things.” Did you try in terrible, terrible vain to make a Snakes on a Plane reference? Did copyright fright just completely wash the line of any actual reference?

Cho throws the shard into the reactor, the necromorphs all stop moving and we’re looped right back around to the start of the movie.

Catching up on what happened in the bookends, Kuttner accidentally gets himself killed by opening an airlock in an attempt to chase the hallucination of his daughter, Borges gets executed after they find out he didn’t touch the marker piece, thus he’s more of a liability than an asset now, Stross is put into a pod and kept in storage for experimentation on the effects of the marker, and Cho is lobotomized by the overseer after she refuses to help him create a coverup so they can blame her for the ‘terrorist’ attacks on the O’Bannon, the Ishimura and Aegis VII.

…..Which is…some sort of coverup story indeed. Who in their right mind would believe this spindly little doctor was the mastermind behind three of the worst ‘terrorist’ attacks in human history? By herself? She slaughtered everyone on the Ishimura and trashed the ship. She slaughtered everyone on the O’Bannon and destroyed the ship. She BLEW UP AEGIS VII. It’s ridiculous to think anyone’s accepting that.

The people who were interrogating the survivors are killed because I dunno. As we see Isaac’s pod right next to Stross’, our movie ends.

So, yeah, the events of this movie are largely inconsequential to the plots of either Dead Space 1 or 2. It mostly just explains how Stross came into contact with the marker and gives him a little more backstory.

The overall plot is at least a little more interesting than Downfall, even if they did go over the same information a couple times over. I like that they explored the concept of the much larger conspiracy regarding the unitologists here than they did with the few yahoos they had on Downfall. The characters were definitely given more exploration and personality than those in Downfall too. (Please note, however, that this is not a direct sequel to Downfall, as several reviewers were noting.)

The structure is interesting, and even though it doesn’t really serve much of a purpose here, I thought it was fun that they had different art and animation styles for each flashback, even if the art and animation quality of each varied a lot as well.

I also kinda liked the buildup to the necromorphs. Even though we waited quite a while for them to finally appear, there wasn’t a shortage of action in the meantime, and there was certainly a sense of foreboding as I realized Stross would try to use the marker piece on a dead body.

While the voices weren’t the best, I think most of the cast did a pretty good job, particularly Curt Cornelius as Stross (though, that might be cheating because that’s his game voice actor) and Graham McTavish as Captain Campbell.

Well, now. That sure is a lot of positive things I’m saying.

Allow me to ruin it all as I break out into raucous laughter in response to the art and animation of the bookends.

I have been holding that in for over an hour.

I wish I had taped myself reacting to the first few non-credit shots of this movie. I was in awe at the horrible. First, we see entrails flying by that look like the cheapest of cheap plastic toys.

This was when I started muttering “Oh! Oh…god, that’s…that’s not good.”

And then this motherfucker popped up on screen.

I had to pause the video just to process how terrible this looked. I was astounded. But then I took a step back and remembered that this is outside of the ship, so maybe the main scenes will look better.

Uhm.

Yeah.

I’m uhh…

I’m gonna go with a hard ‘no’ there.

How did they manage to make CGI that looks exponentially worse than the video games from which they were based? Isn’t that the bare minimum we’re meant to expect from modern day animated video game movies? This is from 2011!

This….is almost Food Fight levels of bad CGI and animation. Barring the lack of animation errors, it’s basically the same level. Complete lack of detailing, non-moving hair that looks like it was rendered on a Speak and Spell, really odd design choices, and everything simply looking like it wasn’t completed on time so they just said ‘fuck it’ and sent it out. I continued to be increasingly blown away by the lack of quality in the CGI spots. It was impressive it was so bad.

Some of my personal favorites were the doll-like representation of Kuttner’s bloodied daughter.

Looks more like raspberry jam.

Whatever default pose they left Kuttner’s character model in after his death.

These bowling ball spiders.

And even though I would never be able to get a good quality gif of it, the little animation of Cho they made to show her psychotically shooting up someplace that is literally her with her mouth agape and turning as if she were on a mechanical pivot joint swaying back and forth while laughing maniacally. That was the pinnacle of robot animation right there. I laughed out loud for a good minute. No regrets.

Something I should mention is that it wasn’t just different art styles being applied to these separate sections – it was also a slue of animation studios. The animation for the bookends was given to Digiart Productions. You may know them from such masterpieces as Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief, Garfield Gets Real, Bling and the Shark Tale ripoff, Shark Bait/The Reef.

Contrast that with Kuttner and Stross’ flashbacks who had a bit more quality and competence with DongWoo Animation, who produced Magi-Nation and did animation work on shows like Avengers Assemble, Justice League, Kodocha, Rurouni Kenshin and Steamboy.

Then we have Borges’ flashback, which was done by JM Animation. They did animation work on 32 episodes of Avatar the Last Airbender, Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic, and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights.

Finally, Cho’s flashback was done with JM Animation, but specifically Team Seed, whoever they are because I cannot find a single drop of information on them.

Either way, any of these studios and teams could’ve done a much MUCH better job on the bookended segments than Digiart, but nope. Technically the main part of our movie is the part they gave the people behind Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts (Lucky Goes to Hollywood!)

And just to give everyone fair shame, I’ll also list the main production studios who more prominently put their names on this – Starz Media, Pumpkin Studios, Film Roman and the bastards themselves – EA.

Bottomline: The differing art styles will either leave you impressed and refreshed with the variety or will leave you confused and put off because most of the segments look passable at best. Some people were saying Cho’s part was the best animated, but I’d have to disagree as I found Stross’ flashback to be quite a bit better.

The CGI bookend segments are, by far, the worst offenders. Put the flashbacks side and side and the transitions aren’t too jarring, but throw in the CGI bits and it’s like falling off a cliff at the beginning and end of each flashback.

At the very least, the CGI is so bad I got a good laugh out of it. Being fair, too, the shots of the ship in most of the versions look pretty okay, outside of Cho’s flashback where it looked a bit too fake and like it was moving out of sync with what was hitting it.

The voice work is pretty good, the music has quite a bit of tension to it and most of the time the direction and cinematography are nice enough.

This is largely a pointless movie, though, that hardly acts as the bridge between Dead Space 1 and 2 that it seemingly wants to be. While I do believe the story is a bit better than Downfall, the structure will definitely put some people off. There’s also no getting around the fact that all of the tension gets drained out of a horror movie when you show the only survivors at the start and tell the story through their eyes. The only tension left is who will be left alive in the bookend segments, and considering Stross is the only person we see or hear about from this story in Dead Space 2, most people can instantly infer that most will either die or otherwise be silenced.

It’s a perfectly fine movie. It’s fine. It’s very okay.

If you can survive a few vicious assaults on your eyeballs, it’s perfectly watchable for both Dead Space fans and people who just want an animated horror movie.

As you can tell by the rating, it’s, sadly, not as good as Downfall, despite some of my earlier notes. I was definitely more immersed in a horror environment with Downfall. The art, while not being fantastic, was far more consistent. And the pacing was much better because we didn’t have to go over some spots twice or more and we didn’t have to come to a near halt four times due to transitions between storytellers.

In the end, I feel like Aftermath is a movie they both put more work into but also cared significantly less, if that makes any sense.

Recommended Audience: It’s Dead Space, so….duh. If you don’t know Dead Space level gore, it’s really, really high. People get brutally crushed, their heads smashed in, head meat melting off, heads sliced in half, burned to death in lava, and even though it was masked as a necromorph at the time, there’s also a very brutal baby murder. Etc.

There’s also a few brief spots of nudity, all of which is contained to Cho’s segment. It’s also the only segment that includes sexual content, but it’s nothing porny. It’s mostly just a brief shot of movement, her sitting on him naked and then a couple suggestive shots.

We also have a bunch of swearing, if that bothers you in comparison to everything else. 17+


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Animating Halloween: Tiny Toon Adventures – Night Ghoulery Review

Plot: The Tiny Toons parody numerous horror movies and shows for their Halloween special.

Breakdown: Now that the Looney Tunes have had their shot at a Halloween special review this year and pretty much flopped, how did the Tiny Toons do?

Much better, I’m happy to report. And I was trying really hard not to be biased because I did watch this special a lot as a kid (I especially remember loving the parody of The Tell-Tale Heart.)

Instead of taking old existing cartoon shorts and sloppily taping them together to make a Halloween movie, Tiny Toons went all out and made a full 45 minute long special with all new shorts parodying a variety of horror based movies and TV shows.

The shorts are bookended by sequences where Babs is parodying the TV series, Night Gallery, which a horror anthology show hosted by Rod Sterling (with Babs doing a Rod Sterling impression throughout) that was akin to the Twilight Zone.

Some of the segments are almost confusingly short and are not bookended by the Babs Night Gallery scenes, which can sometimes make it difficult to know where and why a new short is starting, but it’s not nearly as bad as Bugs Bunny’s Howl-oween Special.

Most of the shorts, however, are pretty entertaining. Not really busting a gut laughing, but I was laughing quietly to myself. It even started me off laughing since the special started with a parody of Nightmare Before Christmas. There were many moments that had me chuckling. Obviously, some of the shorts land harder than others, but they had their moments

I was baffled at how only one of them featured Buster at all. This special was covered in Plucky and Hamton, though, which is fine because I love those two, but it’s a little confusing why they were given so much focus. They, together, got two shorts to themselves, and Plucky even got another while partnered with Buster. Babs only got one short to herself, and Babs and Buster never had a short together.

I didn’t particularly care for the fact that two of these shorts had a character, both played by Plucky, that did the ol’ ‘There’s something scary!’ *tries to show other person* *There’s nothing there* *Character is treated like an idiot or crazy* trope twice in this special, especially considering that my least favorite part of Bugs Bunny’s Howl-oween Special was the one where they did that same trope with Sylvester.

Also, Tiny Toons does prove to get a little dated at spots. Nothing cringe or eye-roll worthy, but there are still instances here and there where you can see its age. In addition, even as an adult, there are a ton of references I just don’t get.

I really appreciated that they made a custom theme song for the special. Not only is it an extended version of the regular song, but it’s animated and lyrically changed to fit the Halloween theme, which was awesome. They even ended the special on a different ending rendition of it.

Overall, this is a really great special for any Looney Tune or Tiny Toon fan around Halloween. It’s obviously not scary at all, it’s Tiny Toons so it’s not meant to be, but it’s a great bit of Halloween humor with a little something for everyone. Plus, we got to see Furrball dressed as a Ghostbuster, come on.


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Animating Halloween: Higanjima Volume 3 (Manga) Review

Plot: Akira and the others have made it to Higanjima, but they don’t even get to shore before they’re attacked by the vampires. Unlike what Rei said about their only being a few, the island is basically littered with nothing but vampires. The ambush them on the boat and take them prisoner. Rei, however, escapes into the wilderness.

The group learns that the vampires don’t just suck all of your blood at once. They have a special chair prepared for their victims where they sit naked, are force-fed nutrients and water and get bitten for as long as possible on a regular basis until their bodies can’t stand anymore and they die.

Akira and the others sit in horror for several days, hearing the screams of some of the other people they had brought with them to island as their blood is drained away. They begin to turn on each other out of fear, hunger and thirst. The vampires mock and taunt them regularly, frustrating them even further.

Ken seemingly sacrifices himself to allow Akira and the others the opportunity to escape, stating he can take two to three months on the chair, trusting that Akira and the other survivors will come rescue him when they have the chance.

Once they get out, they split up to escape the vampires, and Akira attempts to find his brother in hopes of getting his help.

Breakdown: So, in the end of volume two, I kinda thought to myself…. ‘These guys have to have a real….plan, right? Their plan can’t just be ‘arrive on the vampire island with a bunch of randos. Not tell them what’s going on at this island and hope for the best.’ right?….Right?’ Nope, that was their plan.

Granted, Rei lied about how many vampires there were, but still. And the fact that they didn’t tell any of these people, not only making them completely useless as backup but also making them, essentially, giant snacks for the vampires….Why? You might as well have given all of these poor people red shirts.

Not to mention that, for added measure, they make sure to plow it in your face that two of these people, fresh out of high school, are engaged to be married. Gee, I wonder if they’ll live.

The best part of this volume is when Akira, Ken and the others are going crazy while waiting in their little prison. They have nothing but screams and wails to listen to, and there’s the impending wait to get on ‘the seat’ that is terrifying them all at every minute. They eventually start turning on each other and even throw poor Pon to the vampires as their next sacrifice to ‘the seat.’

Ken volunteers to take his place, however, both sacrificing himself and giving the others an opportunity to escape by staging an attack and getting the key loose from the guard. He states he’ll survive for two to three months, much longer than the week or so the others tend to live, all so they can regroup and rescue him.

Atsushi comes back a bit in this volume, but only teased at the very end. However, it seems he likely will team up with Akira in the next volume. How that will go, I don’t know.

This volume was also very….gross. And they made it a point to point out the grossness. We learn in this volume that the vampire’s bite makes you go numb and all of your bodily fluids involuntarily spew out as a result, everything from tears to drool to pee. They never don’t focus on the peeing. They also add in pooping in this volume, because there’s no bathroom in that prison cell, and show us that ‘the seat’ has a hole in the bottom for waste. Lovely.

There’s a lot of good buildup and tension in this volume, and I nearly wanted to smack them for trying to sacrifice Pon. I mean, yes, he is the most scared of them all and he is, arguably, the most useless, but he’s also the most relatable, to be honest.

Yuki’s barely even in this volume, relegated to about one shot of pleading for Ken to not sacrifice himself.

The end of the volume is a big question mark as the entire group is split up, no one really knows how long Ken will last or even if he will survive, and we have no clue how Atsushi and Akira will interact after two years of being apart.

All in all, this was a good, but slightly stupid and gross, volume of Higanjima. I greatly look forward to volume four.

Rating: 8/10


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Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru Volume 7 (Manga) Review

Plot: Filler, talking dogs, a dog propositioning Yori, more filler.

Oh and possible gang rape. I should mention that.

Breakdown: The first chapter has little happening in it. Like I mentioned at the tail end of volume six, Yano kisses Iku while she’s sleeping, because we haven’t had enough sexual assault in this series. She was dreaming of Yori kissing her, but she doesn’t find out that Yano was kissing her in real life.

We also get some odd scenes with their dogs. Inu-Yori growls at Yano for kissing Iku and then bites him, then Inu-Iku smacks Inu-Yori to avenge Yano, then Inu-Yori is kissing Inu-Iku….it’s really strange.

Yano meets up with Yori later that night at his gas station job and admits straight out to Yori that he kissed Iku while she was sleeping. He rightfully attempts to kick his ass, but stops himself because he knows he’s more in the wrong given what he’s done…..Oh….Oh! He’s growing as a person! Quick! Someone document this! We may never get another chance!

He then also says he’s in the wrong for loving Iku at all because he knows he can’t give her the type of future she deserves. You’ve already kinda been over this revelation in the past, but yes, keep going with this.

The next chapter starts with………Inu-Iku…..sexually propositioning Human!Yori?…The first frame is Inu-Iku laying flat with her butt towards Yori, then she lifts her butt up towards him and shakes her ass, then she turns around and her eyes are all sparkly…then Yori kisses Inu-Iku while calling her Iku…..

…I don’t know what to do with this…..

I’m sparing you from the actual image, though. You’re welcome.

Yano tries to convince Yori to come back home since, without him around, he feels free to keep pawing at Iku. He also wants to ‘steal Iku from (him) fair and square.’ We get fanservice yaoi prodding by having a near-kiss with Yano and Yori since Yano tries to give back the kiss he gave to Iku to Yori. *shrug* I’d ship it. Better the two of them be together so they can sexually assault each other than letting them loose onto innocent people.

Yano reveals that he brought Iku with him to receive Yori’s kiss properly. They’re about to reunite when Yano stops them and tells them to solidify an alibi before doing anything. Iku agrees and calls home only to have Yori, for some dumbass reason, start distracting her by kissing and licking her fingers. I thought you were trying desperately to keep your relationship a secret, especially from your parents, yet you’re almost purposely sabotaging her alibi while on the phone with your father. What is wrong with you?

Yano, seeing that Iku is breaking, grabs the phone from her and talks to her father. He explains that he’s with her, apologizes for keeping her out late and begs that he let him stay with Iku for the night.

Her father, quite shockingly, agrees, as long as he promises not to do anything indecent or irresponsible. Because teenage boys are so trustworthy to keep promises about not doing questionable things with teenage girls, especially ones as naive as Iku. Father of the goddamn year.

Not that he knows this, but she’s spending the night with two guys who have sexually assaulted her in some way. Fun.

Yano gets off the phone and pauses when he sees Yori’s somber face. He admits that he’s always wanted to say those same things to their father. He says he wants to be Yano, able to admit these things aloud without judgment or prejudice. Yano claims he wants to be Yori, since he’s the one Iku really wants.

Yano leaves, and Yori and Iku kiss, reminding each other that the last time they talked they said the next time they’d meet they’d make love.

Chapter 38 is actually not bad given the interlude. Yori and Iku try to have sex, but Yori is increasingly nervous. He even asks if they can turn the lights off, though Iku refuses because she wants to see Yori’s ‘cute face.’ Yano has the hotel room next door so he can hear them, and he is even able to see them a little through the open window.

It’s actually a little sad. The poor guy has to listen to and see the girl he seemingly loves having sex with her brother, and even Inu-Yori and Inu-Iku are getting lovey-duvey right in front of him.

If he wasn’t so creepy, I might actually feel emotion right now.

The dean reports to Yori’s parents about the fact that he’s out past curfew now and previously had an incident where he brought a girl from another school into his dorm room. Their mother is quite worried, even though their father tells her that Iku’s with Yano…which, shouldn’t sate her worries either way, but still. She’s obviously concerned her children are squeaking bed springs together.

The next morning, Yano gets them up and finds that they actually didn’t have sex. Yori was so nervous, he only got some of their clothes off and then chickened out at the last second. This is kinda weird. I can’t imagine Yori being nervous just because they haven’t seen each other in so long. Is he reluctant to keep banging the bongos with her when he knows they can never be together? Is this….more character growth? What is happening!?

They bid farewell at the train station, but this time Iku begs Yori to come with them. Yori pushes her on the train and tells her he can never go back because she’s his sister. Yori tearfully watches the train depart.

The next chapter is uneventful and kinda boring. Yori is getting heat from the school for his behavior, and right before he’s about to be punished, Iku and Yano show back up at his dorm. They got off at the first stop on the train and doubled back because Iku wanted to be with Yori.

Yori gets his punishment – one day’s worth of being grounded to his dorm…..You all are so strict….Have mercy on the poor guy….

Tomoka has a spy now who ratted out Yori. His name’s Ogura and they treat him like I should know him, but I don’t. Is he Yori’s roommate? I forget.

Iku and Yano disguise themselves as students and wander the grounds because they’re stupid. They instantly bump into both Tomoka and Yori. Tomoka catches up with Yano, admitting she knows of their incestuous relationship and has been trying to sabotage it. Yano slaps her for calling Iku stupid, even though he agrees with her. *shrug*

Yori takes this opportunity of Iku being in their school uniform to announce her as his girlfriend, which could go wrong in so many ways I’d go braindead from facepalming.

The next chapter…acts as if the previous chapter end didn’t happen because now we’re back home with Iku. I guess this is….a special chapter or something. I didn’t catch it at first, but…okay. Shouldn’t you put special chapters at the end of a volume?

She’s being chewed out by her mother for outrageous phone bills since she won’t stop calling Yori. Iku can’t say that Yori’s the one she’s calling (even though that number should appear on the bill) but her mother tells her to cut her bill in half or they’ll cancel her contract.

I have a better idea. Make her pay for the phone bill. She had a job…once….If you want to make her self-sufficient, make her pay for her own phone bill.

So….there was a…very odd…addition to this chapter…

The dogs can talk.

Yeah….that’s a thing that’s happening. Okay, let me clarify – the dogs don’t “talk,” but they do have inner monologue that we can read and it’s played off just like normal dialogue. They ‘speak’ in thickly lined text boxes that are footnoted by a pawprint. They make observations about the situation going on around them while also talking to each other.

I have absolutely no idea why this is a thing. Why is this even slightly necessary besides maybe to spoon-feed the audience implied emotions? Inu-Yori sees Iku crying over Yori not being able to talk to her as much. He claims people die of loneliness and he’s worried Iku will die. He restates this later on too.

Can they seriously not just get the emotional impact out enough through the art and dialogue? Do they really need a cute little dog claiming his master will die of loneliness for us to understand that she’s really really sad?

Yori calls her and Iku explains what their mother said. She also reveals that she got zero points on her latest exam, because of course she did. Even stereotypical ‘stupid’ thug characters usually at least get a handful of points on tests. Hell, you could probably get a few by just blindly guessing, but Iku’s a unique butterfly of a person in that she just doesn’t try and has the IQ of used underwear.

I know I keep bringing this up, but I really can’t understand the appeal of this girl. She’s stupid (several characters even flatout say so, including Yano and Yori) she’s lazy, she cries at the drop of a hat, she’s irresponsible, she’s codependent to the point of a crippling handicap, she’s naive as hell, she has absolutely no skills and she has no desires in life outside of seeing Yori. The only positive things you can say about her are that she’s nice and pretty, and if that’s not lazy character writing in a nutshell, I don’t know what is.

I love how he gives her an out and tries to say she probably fell asleep after writing her name, but she has to go the extra mile and confirm what an idiot she is by saying she did a lot of thinking but couldn’t do any of it.

Yori calls and tells her later that he’ll be able to visit for a day during the summer holiday. They’re going to a summer festival, and Yano is tagging along, but when they get there, Yori calls and says rain has made travel on the bullet train impossible so he can’t visit.

Yano and Iku have a pretty good time at the festival, but Yano pulls her aside and tells her that she’s obviously holding back her tears for his sake and feels insulted that she can’t show that side of her around him. She says she’s not doing it for his sake, but she knows if she starts crying she won’t be able to stop.

Suddenly, Yori appears. He caught a different train, putting him off schedule for over 12 hours, but managed to catch her at the festival. They start kissing in the tree line, and Yano grumbles as he walks off by himself.

The last chapter of the volume starts off with a completely unnecessary recap of everything that’s happened in the manga up until this point. When we reach present time, we learn that the slap wasn’t the end of the confrontation with Tomoka.

After she was slapped, she called Yano an idiot and instantly cried out. She claimed that Yano was a stalker from her previous school and now he’s dressed up in their uniform and followed her to her current school to harass her even more. Fellow students drag him away, even threatening to have him arrested. All Yano can do is laugh and commend her for setting a trap he so easily fell into as Tomoka looks on with a smile.

Ogura shows back up to talk to Tomoka about it and she uses her feminine wiles to coerce him into finding Yori and telling him to meet with her. She claims Yano and Yori are friends, and wants to ask him a question about the situation.

As he leaves to do just that, Tomoka looks back with a smirk, verbally expressing how much enjoyment she gets out of manipulating men. She is working the villain angle so hard I’m waiting for thunderclaps whenever she appears. Wasn’t there a point where she was a nice character or am I imagining things?

Meanwhile, Yori and Iku take advantage of the ruckus caused by Yano and Tomoka to have some time alone. Yori tries to kiss Iku since she looks cute in her disguise glasses. Even though he asks permission, he doesn’t wait to get it. Even Iku, surprisingly, points out that she never said ‘okay.’

He brings Iku to his dorm room and he’s about to…Hmm what’s a super clever innuendo for this?….Uhm….do an oral report on Iku’s southern hemisphere.

Ogura interrupts them and calls Yori out of the room. He tells Iku, who’s concealed by the curtain on his bed, to hide herself until he gets back. She’s a loyal puppy about it (Not my words. They put the puppy ears and tail on her and everything) until Tomoka enters the room. She knows Iku’s in there….and….

Okay, so if there was any doubt Tomoka’s a full-on villain now, let me dash it – she recruits a bunch of guys from school….and brings them into the room. The cliffhanger of the volume implies that Iku’s about to be raped by these guys and she can’t make a peep about it because she’ll be betraying Yori’s command to stay quiet and, additionally, Tomoka will tell her parents about their relationship.

…..Yup.

That volume went from zero to holy shit real quick. Seriously, I was just about to write off this whole volume as being basically filler. What really happens in 99% of it? More Yori and Iku fluff and making out, Yano feeling like crap because he can’t stop babysitting a girl who’s boning her brother, their mother yells at Iku for a high phone bill, the dogs talk for whatever reason, but not really, then BOOM the start of a gang rape.

Tomoka is just pathological at this point. Blackmailing Yori was high-level bitch stuff, but smiling as she’s about to blackmail Iku into getting gang raped? What the unholy fuck?

What does Tomoka even hope to gain at this point? Is she really so messed up in the head that she believes she still has a shot with Yori? Because, oh yeah, getting his sister/lover gang raped (She never said Iku couldn’t tell Yori about it) will no doubt put her in his good graces.

Or is she resigned and fueled by a sick desire for vengeance on the person she believe stole Yori from her? Because from the very beginning their relationship was built on a lie. She knew she was just being used as a sex doll in place of the person Yori really liked and she seemingly had no issue with this. Was the fact that this person was his sister the thing that made her fly off the rails?

Even if she was angry at that, this is going too far for her character. Then again, you could argue that, since she was blackmailing Yori before and had every intention on coercing him into sex through that blackmail, that she was fine with rape even that early on.

I don’t know what they could possibly do to her character in future volumes to make her pay for these horrible acts. How would they even get her to stop? She seems like she’s getting some sort of sick pleasure out of it now. Don’t say this series doesn’t have character development because Tomoka has somehow edged out both Hair-Sniff McRape and Molester Sexualassaultberg.

————————————–

Outside of that final moment, this whole volume is nothing but filler. Nothing was gained, nothing was lost, even the consequences for Yori’s actions with Iku are laughably minor. He’s grounded to his dorm room for one day. Just one. His parents are notified, but who cares? He doesn’t live with them anymore.

It doesn’t even negatively affect his social status. Wanna know why? Because Yori was right. The student body is mostly just impressed that Yori’s getting some tail. Ogura is annoyed by him, but who cares about Ogura? If he is Yori’s roommate, he’s been an annoying little shit since day one. Yori was curt to him upon greeting and I guess that was enough to continuously rat him out. Snitches get stitches, and then they get bitches. Have fun with Tomoka, Ogura.

Iku seems like she gets into more trouble for sneaking around, and even that’s unrealistically lenient. ‘Oh sure, Yano, you can have a sleepover with my teenage daughter. I totally trust that there won’t be any genital interaction on this innocent get-together.’

Next time….we find out what happens next….Sorry, I feel super awkward saying something like ‘Next time, is Iku really about to get gang raped? What will this mean for her incestuous relationship with her brother?’


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Pokemon Shorties! (8) Pikachu’s Ghost Carnival Review

Pokemon Shorties Pikachu Ghost Carnival

Rating: 7.5/10

Plot: Pikachu and the other Pokemon are traveling to a lakeside to have a picnic, but their journey is detoured when some nearby Ghost Pokemon (and others) who live in a Ghost House intervene. It’s their Ghost Carnival day – a day when they select one of their group to be scared by the other Pokemon who create a spooky experience in the house. After that, they have a feast and other festivities. However, their shtick has become stale doing it on each other every year, so they lure Pikachu and his pals into the house to scare them instead.

Meanwhile, Meowth, Wobbuffet and Cacnea are on a job to demolish the Ghost House to make room for a new restaurant and Pikachu and the gang have to team up with the spooky group of the Ghost House to stop them from destroying their home.

Breakdown: I swear to God, I didn’t plan this. Check the list, this was next to be reviewed on the list of shorts, and I just happened to be lucky enough to have the Halloween-ish special fall in October.

Pikachu’s Ghost Carnival, which is an inaccurate name because it’s not his carnival, is definitely on the higher end of the spectrum for Pokemon Short quality. It doesn’t have Pokemon being flung all over with no plot (Look at that plot synopsis. I have TWO paragraphs. TWO.) It’s not just cute Pokemon being cute – it’s a funny and clever I-guess-I’ll-classify-it-as-Halloween-special-there’s-a-jack-o-lantern-in-the-title-card-it-counts short.

I liked how it was a collection of various Pokemon, not just Ghost Types, who inhabited the house and enjoyed making a scary haunted atmosphere. Plenty of people (and Pokemon) enjoy pranks and creating scares for other people in an innocent and fun-loving manner. We’ve had many episodes where Ghost Types are purely the troublemakers, but here we also have a Golbat, a Cubone, a Lickitung, a Koffing and a Ditto.

I’m glad I was able to find a subbed version of this short, because this was another that actually needed it at points. I think I would’ve been able to get through without it, and the subs I have might kinda be messed up anyway, but it added to the experience immensely because the narrator acts as a translator here.

I also really loved the art and animation for this short. Like many shorts, the landscape art is very much simplified, but they also stylized it to make it pop. The lineart for the landscapes is done in white instead of black and they choose to use a large amount of colors like purple to make it nicer to look at. I also really loved the shots when the Pokemon are scared and the outer shots of the windmill. They were nicely drawn without being overly detailed.

Even though it wasn’t the best song ever, I enjoyed the ending credits song quite a bit. It captured the tone of the short just fine, was pretty catchy and felt like a summer celebration song (Which is pretty much what the Ghost Carnival was. It’s pretty clear that, despite being based on Halloween, that the short is taking place in summer.)

I also enjoyed that Meowth and the other Team Rocket Pokemon actually had a role to play in this short, unlike nearly any other short where they pretty much remind you that they exist and nothing else. Although, I was confused as to why they had a crane with no wrecking ball…so they used Cacnea. That’s a new level of giving no shits about your friend.

That being said, I did have a couple of problems with the short. First and foremost, this is the most audibly annoying thing I’ve ever experienced in recent memory. Togepi, if I ever complained about your crying, I’m sorry. This short, for a good two minutes overall, was an audio assault on my ears all because of May’s Squirtle and random Pokemon encounter that served absolutely no point, Bonsly.

They cry…a lot. And their voices while doing so are unbearable. I almost muted the short several times.

But the pinnacle of audio homicide came in the middle of the scarefest when Pikachu and the others were being targeted. Squirtle gets so scared that it starts bawling, and all of the other Pokemon, every…single…one won’t shut the hell up as they attempt to get Squirtle to calm down.

Just when you think they’ll stop stabbing my ears with their voice forks, Bonsly starts crying and I nearly lost it. I swear.

Speaking of May’s Squirtle, I don’t remember watching enough to remember how obnoxious that thing was, but even though it’s noted as being younger than Ash’s Squirtle, it’s not like it’s a baby – why does it keep bawling and acting like a spoiled brat? It’s like someone decided to fuse Togepi and Chikorita together.

Also, this may be the subs, but this short is a teensy bit….sexist towards Squirtle? I couldn’t find anything about May’s Squirtle’s gender online, but this short clearly refers to it as a girl. The first instance of noting her gender was after she plopped down on the ground whining that she was tired and refused to go on. After Pikachu was coerced into carrying her, the narrator noted that Squirtle was a “willful girl.”

Later, when the Pokemon are getting scared at the Ghost House, Squirtle starts crying and one of the Ghost House Pokemon states that it’s bad to make a girl cry….So, if her age isn’t the reason she’s a crybaby and she’s not being babied because she’s a baby….is it because she’s a girl? That’s kinda the vibe I got during those brief spots.

Also, I’m aware that she eventually evolves into a Wartortle, and even though I love Wartortle, I find it bunk that this little Togepi wannabe evolved but Ash’s Squirtle never did. Maybe I’ll feel different when I revisit those episodes, but I doubt it. It’s a similar level of salty as when I found out May eventually got her Bulbasaur to evolve all the way into Venusaur. Like, seriously, does Ash feed his Pokemon anti-evolving juice in earlier Gens?

One other final negative note was that the shtick that the Ghost House Pokemon put their visitors through got pretty stale, and we only saw it three times. I can understand if they’re sick of it if they just keep doing the same tricks in succession over and over.

All in all, this was a very fun short that I’m glad I was able to review during Animating Halloween. It’s a perfect Pokemon short to watch on both Halloween and over the summer. You obviously won’t get any scares from it, even if you’re a little kid, but it’s still a good short.

Recommended Audience: Err….I guess if your child is extremely terrified of even the slightest thing related to ghosts or horror…..2+?


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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 7 Episodes 9 and 10 Review

Episode 9: The Woman in the Elevator

YS7EP9

Plot: A woman gets on an elevator with a fairly attractive man holding a trash bag when the elevator suddenly breaks down. When they contact the elevator company through the intercom, the man on the other line claims he sees three people – the two of them and a mysterious other woman.

Breakdown: I won’t be able to get through the rest of this review without getting this off my chest – the guy in this episode looks so much like Light from Death Note. The fact that he was an eerily calm murderer on top of that made this whole episode very surreal.

Anyhoo, I enjoyed this episode for what it was, even though this was probably one of the easiest stories to figure out in this show in a very long time. Yami Shibai has a habit of either being too in-your-face with its twists or being so subtle that, no matter how long you think about it, it makes no sense. This one was a like a mix.

Like, ooh, I’m so sure there’s nothing ominous in that trash bag. The focus on his wedding ring sure has no purpose unless they’re indicating that he killed his wife. They really lay it on thick at the end that his wife’s body is in that bag and he’s going to burn it. The balls on this guy to do all of this in broad daylight too.

A few things did confused me though – How did he know the lady behind them was his wife’s ghost and to not look at her? Why did the ghost do nothing besides cry at the trash bag? Perfect opportunity to kill the guy who killed you. He’s trapped in an elevator. You can’t get much better than that. Did she need someone to look at her for her…powers to work?

Some people are theorizing that it was her pet in that bag, not her, which is why it moved in the end….but we were given no indication of any animals, and that doesn’t explain why the woman is clearly a ghost. Unless they’re implying he got rid of her body long ago and only recently killed the pet, which doesn’t make any sense. I believe he definitely killed his wife and she’s in the bag, but it’s one of many bags that he’s trying to nonchalantly dispose of one at a time. The bag is moving because oooh ghosts. It’s not moving because of the body.

Overall, while this wasn’t the scariest episode, I did get tense while the ghost was present just because I thought for sure the (living) woman would look at the ghost and die, and I did have a spot of tension afterwards as well because I thought, if the ghost wasn’t going to kill her, surely Light would. But nope. He just goes about his body burning.

I did feel really bad for the woman, though. Either way, it’s horrible. She’s either mourning her own death and crying about the fact that she’s now a pile of parts in a garbage bag or she’s dead and now her pet is also dead, murdered by the same man who killed her.

It’s not top tier Yami Shibai material, but I enjoyed it well enough.

Episode 10: Manga Cafe

YS7EP10

Plot: An employee at a manga cafe keeps bumping into a creepy woman looking in vain for her lost earring. When the employee shares this information with his colleague, he shares a creepy story of a woman who was a regular at the cafe. But that’s impossible. She’s long since dead.

Breakdown: Another episode where the ‘twist’ is both obvious (the damn pachinko ball is the earring, dude.) but the ending threw me off for a while, and I’m not sure even the explanation I read from comments makes all that much sense.

The line that threw me off was the ghost claiming she paid for the earrings with her eyes….then an audio flashback to what the employee’s coworker told him was that woman died in an accident, but for some reason her eyes were missing from her corpse.

According to said comments, there’s either one of two explanations here. Either 1) she literally paid for her earrings by selling her eyes, which is more goofy than anything, if you ask me, or 2) she paid for the earrings with money she got from a loan shark, but she wasn’t able to pay them back so they killed her and gouged her eyes out as either part of her torment as they were killing her or symbolically. That explanation is much less goofy….but, I don’t know.

The story as a whole just didn’t grasp me. The woman wasn’t creepy enough. Only when she revealed her eyeless face does she get creepy and even then it’s not much. The plot didn’t have enough added to it to make it unique.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the art and animation for this episode just took me right out of everything too. The colors are ugly, the art is too cartoony, and even though I’m well aware this entire franchise is based on paper doll shows, no episode has seemed more paper-doll-ish than this one. I was half-expecting to see a popsicle stick taped to one of the characters.

I didn’t have a bad time watching this episode, but the horror aspect wasn’t there at all for me and the overall story was very average.


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My Poke-Pinions: 021-022 – The Spearow Line

Spearow

Name: Spearow is a mixture of ‘spear’ and ‘sparrow.’ I think it’s a pretty good name. Threatening, descriptive and rolls off the tongue.

In Japan, it’s called Onisuzume which is ‘oni’ for ‘demon’ and ‘suzume’ for ‘sparrow.’ The Japanese name is a bit more of a mouthful, but it’s equally imposing and fitting.

Design: Like Pidgey, Spearow’s design is fairly boring. They definitely do enough to it to differentiate it from Pidgey, particularly in making it seem more aggressive and intimidating, and it’s slightly more colorful with the pink wings, but that’s about it.

In terms of sprites, Gen I’s has always really bothered me. Spearow’s supposed to be intimidating and mean, but the sprite for Red and Blue…..There’s no way around this – it’s giving me bedroom eyes. It’s got its back kinda turned and it’s looking back with half-lidded eyes, it’s totally hitting on the player.

Green’s kinda looks like a chicken.

But Yellow’s is eons better.

Silver’s looks a bit odd, like it’s a plushie of a Spearow instead of an actual Spearow.

The animation for Crystal is actually pretty adorable.

I don’t have many notes for the other Gens until VI where….they did something to Spearow’s face to make it seem…off. I don’t know if the eyes are too small or the face has too many feathers, but it just weird to me.

Shiny:

Spearow’s shiny is okay. I really like Gen II’s version as it looks like it’s an orange-gold color.

But the parts where the brown are on original Spearow get increasingly puke-green over the Gens and I just don’t care for that.

Cry/Voice: Spearow’s voice is pretty good. It’s one of those voices where you can hear a person saying the word, but the inflection put on the word masks it enough to sound real. Plus, the alteration to the voice to make it sound like a crow-like bird is very well done.

It’s game cry is actually pretty cute – probably too cute for something that’s meant to be mean.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Its Dex entries are a bit boring. Nothing really too noteworthy. It uses its wing flaps to draw out bugs to eat, and its cry can be heard from half a mile away. It’s also very territorial and can’t fly very high due to its short wings.

In terms of design, Spearow is obviously based off of a sparrow. There’s a bit of Lanius shrike in there too, mostly in regards to the hooked beak.

Fearow

Name: Fearow’s name is a mixture of ‘fear’ and ‘sparrow’ but it’s also suggested that ‘feather’ and ‘arrow’ might be inspiration for it too.

I like Fearow’s name. It’s unique, imposing and rolls off the tongue.

In Japanese, it’s called Onidrill, which combines ‘oni’ for ‘demon’ and ‘drill.’ It might also be taken as ‘onidori’ which means ‘demon bird.’ Onidrill’s a bit more manageable than Onisuzume, but it somehow feels clunkier. I like it, but not a whole lot.

Design: Fearow’s pretty ugly. Sorry to be so blunt, but it is. I think somewhere along the lines of trying to make a big bird that both differentiates itself enough from Pidgeot to be unique while also being intimidating lead it to just being ugly. It’s like someone mixed a chicken with a pterodactyl.

I’m not even sure how much more I can elaborate. The beak looks too long and craggy, the red tuft looks weird, its neck looks bent too sharply, there’s not a lot of color to it, it’s just not my cup of tea.

I really don’t have much to say about the sprites except Yellow makes it look like a turkey.

And the backsprites give me more chicken vibes.

Shiny: Fearow’s shiny fluctuates from eugh to okay to eugh again, only worse. Gen II is basically just gray with a slight bit of olive green.

Every other Gen up to VI is green-ish/gold to off-gold, which is fine.

But then Gen VI comes around and….it’s back to disgusting gray and olive green, only this time there’s slightly more green, making it worse.

Cry/Voice: Fearow’s voice is….okay. It’s squawky, so it’s very bird-like, it follows up Spearow’s fairly well, but it doesn’t have any additional imposing….Oomph to it. It just sounds like a big Spearow.

Its game cry is also okay. It’s very musical. However, it also has no imposing air about it. It’s pretty bird-y, but that’s about it.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Fearow’s Dex entries are somehow even less interesting than Spearow’s. It’s a big bird with a sharp beak and it can fly for very long periods of time.

….That’s about it.

In terms of design, it was based off of many predatory birds. It’s an amalgamation of so many birds, it’s actually a little ridiculous. The Wiki lists hawks, vultures, storks, chickens, cormorants, anhingas, snipes and Goliath herons. I’m all for not just ripping off one or two real-world animals, but that’s quite the list to go through there, Chimeramon. Nice to know my chicken observation held water, though.

Next time, the Ekans line!


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Animating Halloween: A Recess Halloween Review

A Recess Halloween 1

Plot: 3rd Street School has a new fifth grade class – and TJ and the gang are in it! Yes, the infamous fourth graders have reached fifth grade. They’re growing older, changing, maturing. But when the familiar call of Halloween comes around, Spinelli finds herself unable to get into it after Lawson and his crew mock her for being too old for Halloween. Is Spinelli just in a Halloween funk or is the gang really too old for one of their favorite holidays?

Breakdown: We get to return to Recess this Halloween!

For the last time.

I don’t just mean that as in this is the second and last Halloween special that Recess ever made, I mean that as in this is a strange case of their Halloween special being the series finale.

Recess had completed their six season run and was ready to either make a seventh season or a spin-off series (which, if the latter is true, likely would’ve been a slightly more mature Recess taking place in fifth grade instead of fourth.) They had animated three episodes of this season/series before it was suddenly canceled for no given reason.

In order to make money from what was already animated, Disney released the episodes with some new bookended animation thrown in to make a direct-to-video movie – Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade. While Halloween is a theme in all of the bookends, it is only given focus in the final entry, A Recess Halloween…..which is a really lazy title that I can only imagine was a first draft that no one bothered to rework because the title cards wouldn’t appear in this movie anyway unlike the TV series where they were always on-screen.

What I find particularly odd about this is that the show was meant to end after season five and the movie, Recess: School’s Out, was released, but it garnered a sixth season because its performance was particularly high after that. So it was popular enough to rip from its relatively sound fate and give it another season, and then, in the middle of animating the seventh season/spin-off, they suddenly cancel it out of nowhere? Why?

Unlike the previous Halloween special, which was a series of short ‘scary’ stories told by Butch, this Halloween special involves Spinelli, who is usually the one in the group most excited about Halloween, feeling like she’s outgrown the holiday due to Lawson mocking her for making Jack-o-lanterns and trick-or-treating. Unlike Lawson and his crew’s super mature Halloween festivities of….smashing pumpkins for no reason.

A Recess Halloween 2

Spinelli becomes very sullen after this and doesn’t partake in any Halloween festivities, even the ones they offer at school like singing Halloween songs and eating a special Halloween lunch.

Let me just share that, when I was in grade school, I was a complete wimp….I still am a complete wimp, but now I’m all about horror and Halloween. Back then, however, even though I liked Halloween, I hated horror. I hated scary things. I especially hated haunted houses and hay rides. Every year at my school, they’d have a haunted ‘house’ set up in the cafeteria, and it was someone’s bright idea to force everyone to go through it if they wanted the special Halloween bagged lunch. I didn’t want to go through because I hated haunted houses, and this one was one of haunted houses where they grab at you, and I wasn’t having any of that.

The moral of the story is, I stole special Halloween bagged lunches as a child….And now back to our program.

This isn’t so simple a case as bullies being bullies, however, because it ties into their new common theme of growing up and changing. When the gang talks about all the fun things they do on Halloween, Spinelli explains that the magic has been drained of it, no matter what Lawson told her. She truly believes she’s outgrown it.

The other kids aren’t so quick to believe her, though, and set off trick-or-treating. While they start off in strong spirits, they quickly start having the magic of Halloween lifted away from them as well.

The massive piles of candy they get from one house – sugarless.

The creepy cemetery at another? The gravestones are plywood.

A Recess Halloween 3

The creepy man sitting outside that same house that gives out candy? Animatronic. (And can I just add that the guy who owns that thing is extremely unreasonable? TJ lightly touches the animatronic man and the arm just falls off. Then the owner berates him for breaking it and tells him he has to fix it for all the kids who actually believe in that stuff….All he did was lightly touch it. What is your problem, dude?)

The creepy building they usually run from that they believe is a defunct prison haunted by inmates? It’s actually an old DMV.

It seems like the gang is doomed to sharing the same Halloween blues that Spinelli has.

Meanwhile, back with Spinelli, she has relegated herself to watching TV and handing out candy while her parents are out. When the diggers show up and tell her they’ll tell a nearby group of little kids to not visit the house because Spinelli’s such a sour grape, she decides to make a real effort to partake in the fun, if just for the sake of making those kids happy.

I really loved these brief scenes of Spinelli as she talks with the visiting kids. She gives them a fun scare and even gives another group tips on how to be scarier dinosaurs. It shows the audience that there are many ways to enjoy Halloween as you get older, and one of those ways is by creating the Halloween magic that you used to love (and might still love) for a new generation of kids.

A Recess Halloween 4

Miss Finster visits, hoping to invite Spinelli’s parents out for a Halloween party. Spinelli is surprised to see that Miss Finster, despite her advanced age, is as much into Halloween as any kid. Showing a true sign of maturity, Spinelli asks to have a talk with Miss Finster about her conflicting feelings on Halloween. She thinks she’s too old for it, but tonight has shown her that she feels like she’s missing out on a bunch of fun.

Lending an understanding ear, Miss Finster tells her that age has nothing to do with liking stuff such as Halloween. You either like it or you don’t. It’s what you feel in your heart that truly matters. And you shouldn’t let anyone tell you what you should and shouldn’t like.

I enjoyed this interaction with Spinelli and Miss Finster. Not only do I love when Ms. Finster shows her much nicer mentor side (Especially to Spinelli because it’s a nice touch of continuity that the two are friends through Finster’s friendship with Spinelli’s parents), but I also like when we get peaks into her non-school personality. She’s very much a fun-loving gal.

Spinelli then decides to make the best of the night and go join her friends on their trick-or-treating rounds. She comes across Hustler Kid….who is wearing a Nixon mask. I laughed for a good minute at his scene. I doubt any kid watching that would get the joke of his costume mixed with his character, but it was hilarious to me.

A Recess Halloween 5

Hustler Kids tells her the bad news that her attitude rubbed off on the other kids and now they’re having a terrible Halloween too. Spinelli feels incredibly guilty, but knows just what to do to make up for it.

She invites them out to their last usual stop, which is a house they believed was owned by vampires. The owners, however, moved out since the last Halloween, so Spinelli suggests that they, being super mature grown ups, go inside and look around.

Awaiting them is a slue of scares that she, Miss Finster, Miss Grotke, Principal Prickly and some of the other adults from town set up to scare the pants off of the gang. The plan works. They had a good scare and some great fun. Spinelli explains that they can grow up and mature while still enjoying everything they loved, like Halloween, if they still make the choice to like it, and they should never let anyone tell them otherwise.

This is a great message. It’s not about shedding something other people perceive as childish just to be more ‘grown up’ and it’s not about locking yourself in childhood nostalgia forever. It’s about letting yourself enjoy anything you want without allowing anyone to bully you into conforming to their view of what you should like or partake in, especially if it’s based on stupid qualifiers like age or gender. (And, hey, if I did that, I certainly wouldn’t be on this blog right now talking about cartoons and anime.)

A Recess Halloween 6

The kids get a heaping helping of (sugary) candy and they all enjoy their Halloween together.

The end.

———————————

I really loved this Halloween special, and I’m a bit miffed that it is so good since I never saw this when I was a kid. Because it was a direct-to-video movie, I just never owned it and thus never saw it. I did see Recess: School’s Out in theaters and later owned it on VHS (still have it) but when it came to the other direct-to-video movies and specials, I never was able to get them. I’m not sure if they ever aired on TV. I only remember a lot of advertisements for the VHS.

For some reason I have the oddest feeling of Deja Vu when watching another episode in this movie, The Fifth and Sixth Grader’s Club, but I honestly don’t know why. Maybe I’m confusing that episode for another.

I’m disappointed Recess ended the way it did. Even though this is, technically, also a pretty sound ending to the series, I feel like this is one of those shows where we should have at least gotten a peak into their adult lives as the series finale. What’s especially strange is that the following movie (Which is not regarded as the series finale because it’s a prequel), a movie called Recess: All Growed Down is basically the exact opposite of what I wanted or expected because it follows the exploits of the kids in kindergarten (and also retcons it so that the gang knew Gus briefly as small children when he was supposed to be a new kid at the start of series.)

….Does anyone else find it weird that they canceled the series while Taking the Fifth Grade’s episodes were in production, yet after that release they make another new movie?

Recess is still a show near and dear to me, and I’m honored to review their last Halloween special and series finale for everyone on this year’s Animating Halloween.

Final Note: I find it kinda funny that TJ goes on about Spinelli always has the best and creepiest costumes on Halloween, but the two times we see her dressed up in this special she just has regular clothes on with a relatively bland mask added.


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SSBS – Tokyo Mew Mew Episode 45: The Riddle Dissolves! The Truth about the Blue Knight

SSBS - TMM Ep 45

Plot: Ichigo is struggling to come to terms with the fact that Shirogane is not The Blue Knight. She’s both slightly disappointed and completely confused. If he’s not The Blue Knight, who is?

There’s only so long she has to worry about this, however, because she’s soon reminded that Valentine’s day is coming up, so she plans to make Aoyama some chocolate.

Problem is…she doesn’t know how to make chocolate. And she’s not exactly a world-renowned chef either.

She asks Akasaka to teach her to make chocolate, but she somehow manages to make an epic disaster out of the whole affair. She manages to make some chocolate, but it’s basically inedible.

Ichigo’s mood plummets as a result, believing she doesn’t have it in her to make decent chocolate for Aoyama. Akasaka reassures her that it’s the effort, love and care that she puts into the chocolate that truly matters, not how it tastes or how fancy it is.

Reinvigorated by Akasaka’s words, Ichigo invites Aoyama out next Sunday and gives it her all to make Aoyama the best chocolates she can make.

She finishes her chocolates for Aoyama and heads off to meet him when she’s interrupted by Kisshu, and there’s something odd about him this time. His eyes are glowing, his skin is turning purple and weird, and he’s demanding Ichigo go with him no matter what.

His face suddenly softens as Ichigo continues to struggle. He’s offering her a chance to go to a world where just the two of them can live in peace forever. She vehemently refuses and proclaims that Aoyama is the only one for her.

Realizing his efforts are in vain, Kisshu brandishes his sai and attacks her. She tries to transform, but he knocks her pendant away and grabs it. He goes for the killing blow, but is interrupted by Aoyama. Kisshu is about to angrily blast Aoyama away, but Ichigo deflects the blast. Still, Aoyama gets injured in the explosion.

Suddenly, Aoyama starts glowing a bright blue color. He stands and transforms, revealing himself to be The Blue Knight.

Ichigo is shocked by this turn of events, but it matters not to Kisshu who continues to try to kill Aoyama/The Blue Knight anyway. Despite The Blue Knight being a tad slower due to his injury, he is still able to defeat Kisshu.

Unwilling to stand down, however, he creates another energy blast that The Blue Knight gets caught up in. The other Mews arrive to help, but Shirogane tells them to stand down. The fully-crazed Kisshu proclaims that if he can’t have Ichigo with him, he’ll die with her here, but not before killing The Blue Knight first.

Ichigo tries to stop Kisshu, but to no avail. She does, however, manage to knock her pendant away from him. She grabs it and, just as Kisshu tries to deliver a fatal energy blast to The Blue Knight, Ichigo jumps in the way.

As the dust settles, Kisshu believes he accidentally killed Ichigo, but they find that she transformed in the nick of time and shielded both her and The Blue Knight from the blast.

With tears in her eyes, she begs Kisshu to not kill the one most important to her and she again tells him that she simply can’t go with him. As a sad smile comes across Kisshu’s face, he drops his sai and concedes. He bids Ichigo farewell before heading off alone.

Some time later, Ichigo and a de-knighted Aoyama sit on a bench to talk about what just happened. She gives him her Valentine’s chocolates, which got damaged in the battle, and vows to love him forever and ever.

——————–

– Did I just see Ichigo’s parents whispering to each other about sex? Pretty sure that’s what just happened there.

– That sparkly/glowy effect in Ichigo’s eyes was very well done.

SSBS - TMM Ep 45 2

– Akasaka didn’t really teach her to make chocolate so much as give her a book that tells her how to do it while he stood there quietly washing dishes.

– I love that Pudding’s still visibly affected by the toxic chocolate even minutes after the fact.

– Aw, Lettuce wants to make chocolate for Shirogane……I am in perpetual pain that this pairing basically evaporates whenever it’s brought up.

– Oh my god, Kisshu’s expression after the second explosion. Well, they did want to convey that he’s off his rocker and….boy that expression will do it.

SSBS - TMM Ep 45 3

——————

Overall, while they did have a massive tone shift between the first and second halves, this was a pretty great episode. The identity of The Blue Knight being revealed was a bit overdue, in my opinion, seeing as how we only have a handful of episodes left, but the battle and subsequent reveal were good.

Seeing Kisshu go full psycho was both entertaining and very sad. I mean….he’s still a psycho who has done a lot of terrible things over the past 45 episodes, but you still feel for him.

I didn’t like that the other girls were relegated to being background decorations again, however. They literally transformed for nothing and stood there just because Ichigo and Aoyama needed their moment.

That being said, as you can tell by my lack of notes, I don’t really have anything negative to say about this episode beyond that. Even if it’s only for a short time, I’ve been looking forward to Aoyama actually joining the team. And now we’ll get to see his (Albeit very short) transformation sequence.

Next time, Aoyama officially joins the Mews, and he’ll have to prove his worth as a new team member immediately when there’s another suspected Mew Aqua detection nearby.

….Previous Episode


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