Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Code Monkeys

Really? That’s the quote you’re going for for promotional purposes? Okie dokie.

Plot: Set in the 1980s, in an 8-bit video game-esque version of the real world, game designers at GameaVision develop new games while basically being as unpleasant as possible.

Breakdown: The very first scene in this show is of one of the main characters humping his computer to somehow make it unfreeze.

And that was Code Monkeys, everybody.

Next time we’ll talk about…..

…..Oh fine. I’ll continue.

Let me procrastinate for a minute, however.

Code Monkeys was a show made by Adam de la Pena, who has also has his writing hand in such tasteful pies as The Man Show, Crank Yankers, Minoriteam and…Bratz: The Movie?….Okay that last one’s kinda weird, though there’s also a bunch of stereotypes in that movie too.

It was picked up by G4, the channel that had X-Play and things that weren’t X-Play.

I love how one of the blurbs by reviewers listed on the Code Monkeys Wiki page, Scott Jon Siegel of Joystiq, backhandedly shades G4 by saying “there was hope that G4 could deliver something actually watchable. [Code Monkeys] isn’t.”

Before anyone acts like I’m a prude who just wants to slam this show because of its crass humor – rude/dark comedy is not my forte by a long shot, but I can enjoy it on occasion when it’s done well. Problem is, so many entries in the ‘crude humor’ world are just ‘lol it’s funny because it’s gross or offensive.’ You want a good example of this? In the opening credits, we learn one of the characters is named Black Steve. He’s the only black guy. The joke is he’s a black guy named Steve so his name is Black Steve.

I was going to give them the benefit of the doubt a little since their boss is Steve Wozniak, so maybe they were calling him Black Steve to jokingly differentiate himself from Wozniak, but they don’t call Wozniak by his first name – they call him Woz – and Wozniak is supposedly only in this episode, yet his name sticks the entire series.

Sadly, I don’t think I can put this off anymore, and I honestly think this needs a step-by-step overview in order to truly give the scope of how bad this is, so let’s get started.

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We get our theme song, which I wish I could appreciate because it’s a Jonathan Coulton song, but I can’t because it’s like they messed with the audio so I can barely hear the vocals over the instrumentals. Right at the title card, someone yells ‘I love you, whores!’ They don’t even want you to think for a second that they’re trying, do they?

Our cast of characters works in a game design company called GameaVision, and the entire show is drawn and animated like an 8-bit game, which, I’ll admit, is pretty cool and unique. They even use the video game display around the border to add some extra bits to scenes and jokes.

For instance, in the aforementioned computer humping scene, they have a progress bar at the top that says ‘Bone Level’ and slowly shows a bunch of bones as the character, Dave, reaches climax. Yup. Comedy gold. Also, they kinda edit it poorly here because, in order to, I guess, introduce the other character in the scene, Jerry, halfway through they change the name at the top to say Jerry, but the Bone Level meter is still going up, so it kinda makes it seem like he’s also about to climax.

Jerry points out the rotting donkey carcass in the room and asks Dave to get rid of it, but he says it’s useful. He points this out by pretending the donkey is a tauntaun, uses a lightsaber to cut it open and hops in to stay warm while he naps even though they’re in a warm office building and this is stupid.

Steve Wozniak comes in (he’s even voiced by Steve Wozniak, supposedly.) He owns this company for some reason and wants to know what games the boys are coming up with. Dave shows him his new game Hobo Killer where you just murder hobos. They’re not attacking the characters or anything – they’re just standing there and the character stabs them to death. How fun.

Woz calls them for a meeting, and we get a kinda clever shot where the boys walk down the street..or…hall or whatever this is, and it’s like a platformer, but there’s more inconsistency in the little display up top. Back in the office, the health meter was depicted as being a bunch of hearts. Out here, it’s a Megaman-esque group of tiny bars. It doesn’t affect anything, I just thought it was interesting…

We meet Black Steve, who is brandishing a gun, which I guess is okay considering they live in a video game world. But we’ll later learn he’s just a gun-toting trigger-happy jerk who is racist against white people. Woz supposedly gave the gun to him for game inspiration.

Black Steve tells us about his new game idea called Cracker Barrel where you literally shoot crackers (Ya know….white people) in a barrel. Also, the follow up joke is that Black Steve isn’t even a programmer – he’s the accountant. Also, that isn’t really a joke so much as them wanting to make the Cracker Barrel joke so they had to hide the fact that he wasn’t a programmer from us long enough to say that.

Wait, if he’s the accountant, why did Woz give him a gun for game inspiration?

We next meet Todd – Hmm, let’s see. A show about game programmers made in the mid-2000s that is gunning for every stereotype imaginable. Could Todd possibly be a gamer stereotype?

Would you look at that? He’s a gigantic geek, very overweight, sniffs a lot, loves food, is crazy into medieval/DnD stuff (and wears a viking helmet for some reason) to the point where he changes his speech patterns, calls his office his lair and acts like he has no solid grasp on reality, has garbage all over his office, still lives with his mom and apparently is so close with her they waste no time strongly implying that they’re either in an incestuous relationship or are just borderline.

Here’s how subtle it is;

Todd: “Mother and I share many passions. One of which happens to be OUR passion for nachos. The second is MY passion for her.”

They accompany this with a little thing in the corner that says ‘Creepy Points’ with a number going up, which is kinda cute, but you couple that with them pointing out in dialogue that it’s creepy and us already knowing that it’s creepy and, again, you’re being way too blatant with the ‘jokes’ to the point where it’s almost unfunny.

Next up on the ‘let’s meet the entire cast’ docket is Mary – who is currently in the women’s steam room. Dave comes in and promptly starts snapping pictures – even sneaking underneath her to look up her towel.

At this point, I should mention another problem crude humor shows and movies almost always have –  unlikable characters. In shows and movies that function entirely on gross-out and offensive humor, they almost have to make their characters unlikable assholes in order for them to keep making these jokes. And, as a result, you very, very quickly stop giving half a shit about what happens to any of them.

It’s like in horror movies where they tend to make all of the characters dumb annoying self-absorbed teenagers. The movie stops being scary because you start rooting for the killer to come and spare you the torment of watching them on screen any longer.

Likewise, in these crude humor shows and movies, I don’t care what happens to these assholes one way or another, so why would I care to keep watching? The only nice-ish people are treated like crap too, which is another theme in those shows and movies, so the entire experience is just unpleasant. The only way that could work is if the humor is just so goshdarn clever and hilarious that it’d be worth sitting through their crap to get to the jokes, but it’s not.

Anyhoo, Mary is the only female programmer at the company, so obviously she’s an outspoken feminist who is working on a game where she teaches girls about their periods while also making it action-packed enough to market to boys. It’s called Red Rhonda….

Predictably, Dave makes a bunch of sex jokes at her, including implying that he wants to have anal sex with her. In case you’re wondering why Dave hasn’t been fired 100x over by now, Woz basically lets him do whatever he wants.

Speaking of that, they all reach the meeting room where Dave is seen peeing in a urinal. Woz told him he could install one right in the meeting area so he wouldn’t have to let his microwave burrito get cold, but the urinal has no pipes so the urine ends up all over the floor.

Woz gives his big announcement – he’s selling the company and he wants Dave to butter up potential buyers. Why he’s giving this responsibility to such a massive idiotic jackwad, I don’t know.

And, of course, it’s very plainly obvious that Dave intends on sabotaging these meetings. We can get that from his attitude instantly turning around and his sneaky voice, but, of course, the little display in the corner has to have an insincerity meter going up just to really drive it home.

The first buyers are from Family Works – a gaming company dedicated to proving that games can serve a moral purpose. They’re dressed like complete dorks and talk like complete dorks with a dorky company, so Dave takes him to our next character introduction – Clarence.

Clarence is gay and you can pretty much predict how his character talks and acts from there just on how they’ve treated every other character.

Clarence is in some sort of weird party room with pink walls, a giant Wham poster and a disco ball. He’s wearing nothing but a speedo, and there are two very stereotypically gay men hanging out in the hot tub. The Family Works people are disgusted and leave, and the scene ends with Clarence diving into the hot tub to give blowjobs to the other two guys.

…Oh Clarence does the music for the games, in case you were wondering. He has a microphone in this room, so it’s fine.

Dave brings some investors from Canada to Todd’s office, and they pretty much give up on staying on the stereotypical gamer thing with him because what he does next just makes no sense for anyone.

He strips naked and starts doing a word association game with the guys. Dave leaves and locks them in the room, saying they’ll be in there for several hours, which seems unnecessary. Meanwhile, Todd keeps getting way too close to them and even grabs them a couple times.

What even was that? I honestly can’t make sense of what they were trying to do there. Todd is definitely out of touch with reality, but even in his mind he shouldn’t be able to make sense of what he’s doing.

The next scene nearly made me turn off the episode. It’s not just not funny – it’s just literal potty humor, par for the course – it’s the fact that they basically give you a literal countdown timer to the joke.

Here’s the setup. Clearly, there’s a turd in the microwave. It’s massive. It’s practically the first thing you notice when the scene starts. There’s a timer at the top of the screen saying the microwave will be done in one minute. Gee, I wonder if the microwave explodes with poo-poo in one minute. Oh look, Dave’s even pointing out that there’s a turd in the microwave 30 seconds before the timer is up. Uh-oh, Woz is stepping right next to the microwave as the timer winds down.

Now, to their credit, the timer doesn’t reach zero before the microwave blows up and coats everyone with poop, there was about 17 seconds left, so there’s the slightest bit of surprise there….At least there would’ve been if they didn’t also manage to screw that up by including warning beeps right before the microwave explodes. So even if you weren’t watching the countdown or taking note of the very obvious clues, the show still alerts you to the impending punchline. It’s almost like they’re trying extra hard to make sure you don’t laugh.

Why was the warning even going off at 22 seconds anyway? Usually, if a microwave has a ‘nearing end of cook time’ warning beep, it will be three to five seconds before the timer is up – not 22 – that’s such a random number.

(I know I should note that the microwave as a whole wouldn’t blow up because of poop, but I thought I’d give them that much leeway at least.)

As a cherry on this literal shit sundae, the title at the bottom of the screen that usually says ‘Code Monkeys’ changes to ‘Gross Me Out’ after this. Yes. We get it.

I can try to make this scene work better. Have the microwave running, but don’t clearly show what’s in there. They discussed Dave liking microwave burritos, so we can just think he’s microwaving one. Have the scene go about normally, let Dave subtly situate the buyers in front of the microwave then BOOM. Microwave blows up, poop everywhere and Dave just non-chalantly explains that he regularly microwaves turds or something.

It’s not a great fix of that scene, but it’s at least trying.

Anyway, Woz isn’t even mad about it because he’s an idiot.

After a transition that tells us to have a ‘Happy Turdsday’ Woz explains that his desire to sell the company is based on his love of computers, not games. He wants to make computers, even though Dave says it’s a passing fad, which is kinda dumb because computers and games go hand in hand.

Since Dave scared off all of the other potential buyers, Woz has no choice but to go for his only option – Bellecovision, which I think is supposed to be a reference to ColecoVision? Bellecovision is an ridiculously boring game company that drives their employees insane, which is the polar opposite of GameaVision, where they basically let their employees do nearly anything they want. Dave is really against that option, but it’s either them or some dude named Larrity.

Woz goes to the other employees to get their say in the matter since he doesn’t want to sell it to either of them without their blessing, which is odd because it seemed like he was fine selling it to those other buyers without asking them about it.

The vote is split with half wanting to sell to Bellecovision and the other voting for Larrity. Jerry is the deciding vote, but he doesn’t want to vote because he’s torn.

When the commercial break comes, they put a little ‘Pause’ note on screen, which I legitimately thought was clever and a little funny. But then they kinda ruin it because, instead of just immediately picking up where they left off once the pause button is taken off, where Jerry is already being asked whether he will choose Larrity or Bellecovision, they have Mary immediately ask if Jerry will choose Dave or her, and I just don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. She voted for Bellecovision while Dave chose Larrity, and I guess that’s it, but she doesn’t even know Larrity – none of them do – and I can’t see why she’d want to gun for a game company that is seen as super boring, unless she’s also meant to be super boring.

Black Steve nearly murders his coworkers for no reason, and then Jerry chooses Larrity.

The majority wins, and the company is sold to Mr. Larrity.

Our first interaction with Mr. Larrity is in the men’s bathroom where Dave is humping a condom machine to get free condoms….

Larrity is an old rich white guy from Texas and, again, you can pretty much gauge how his character is portrayed from that information alone.

He’s brought his son, Dean, along with him, and Dean is just a muscular idiot.

Larrity brings Jerry and Dave along to talk about the new changes he’s going to be making to the company. First, he’s canceling all holidays, including Christmas and…”Jew Christmas.” Again, that’s not clever at all. It’s just putting an offensive slant on it.

Larrity claims he doesn’t know anything about video games, which is a mighty weird statement to make considering he lives in a video game and is currently completing a platformer as he walks down the hall (or street? It’s very difficult to know what these platformer corridors are. They look like streets, but they’re inside the building?)

Clarence dances in wearing a bright blue and pink jumpsuit, singing out that he’s gay – and surprise of all surprises, Larrity wants to fire him immediately.

Next, Larrity demolishes the women’s bathroom to make more space for the men’s room so he can pace back and forth like a tiger before he takes a dump (I’m not even really paraphrasing.) Mary asks what the women are supposed to use, but Larrity just says it’s not his problem.

Larrity comes into Black Steve’s office and tells him he’ll be sharing an office. Before he even finishes his sentence, Black Steve shoots him because he doesn’t want to share an office. Larrity’s okay, though, because he’s wearing a flak jacket. He’s so impressed by Black Steve’s shot, however, that he agrees to let him have his own office, at least until the ‘rematch.’

They have a group meeting where Mary is immediately stifled because Larrity only cares about what the male employees are doing. The only reason she spoke first was because he said he wanted to hear what the ‘ladies’ had for him, but then he stopped her and explained that he was using ‘ladies’ as a derogatory term for the men.

Todd starts a presentation, and we get this.

Todd: “I know what you’re all thinking. ‘Todd! How can you top yourself after your brilliant game Space Blasters?’”

Mary: “Wow, Todd is such a douche.”

….Thank….You…Mary. I never would’ve gotten that from his overall behavior and the fact that, when he was introduced, his character intro screen was this:

The line is so awkwardly placed, too. Maybe it doesn’t come across like that in text, but it’s just weird that she chose right then to say that. She either should have said that after he was done with his presentation or after his first line, which was “Well, since I’m the best, I’ll go first.” It’s like she interrupted him just to call him a douche.

Todd’s game idea is Space Blasters II, which is the same game as the first one with two ships. Everyone loves it….I think? I honestly can’t tell if they’re being sarcastic or genuine.

Dave is up next with his game, Nazi Sniper, where you shoot Nazis. Larrity initially likes the idea, but then is less than enthused when he realizes the Nazis are the bad guys in this game. Get it? Because he’s a Nazi sympathizer.

Larrity introduces the new game tester for the company, his “son” Benny. The company, not him, “illegally adopted” him from Korea. And, as with everyone else, he’s basically what you’d expect a racist depiction of a ten year old Korean boy to be. The main twist being that he’s very, very hyper because Larrity has been loading him up with Pixy Stix and sugar, to keep him awake longer so he can work non-stop, and cigarettes to stunt his growth. I’m not exactly certain why they need to stunt his growth, but here we are.

Larrity finishes off the meeting by appointing Dean as head of development.

Todd and Black Steve meet later to plan the assassination of Larrity because everyone’s now regretting voting for him to buy the company. Yeah, killing him. That’s the logical progression of events….though I suppose he already tried to kill him once, so why not aim for that ‘pre-meditated’ label?

In order to get Black Steve to agree, he has to hand over cash, his van and his prized sword, Excalibur. When he hands the sword over, Todd dubs Black Steve the Black Knight. He threatens to kill him if that’s a racist moniker…which…yeah, of course it is. That’s a given. Why are you okay with everyone calling you Black Steve but you get all murder-y when you’re given the title of Black Knight?

Black Steve lays in wait in the vending machine and opens fire on him, but Larrity reveals that he’s outfitted all of the vending machines with bulletproof glass and metal, so it didn’t work.

Dave tries to convince Woz, who is already the founder and CEO of a company that looks exactly like Apple, just with two bites taken out of the logo instead of one, but it doesn’t work. Woz doesn’t like the changes he’s learning of either, but he has no power there anymore and doesn’t want to return to the gaming world. Instead, he tells Dave that it’s his time to shine and that he should lead the charge to make changes at the company if he’s so bothered by them. That’s actually very reasonable…or at least it would be if he were talking to anyone other than Dave, who has shown to be nothing but lazy and abhorrently irresponsible and doesn’t deserve his time to shine.

Todd and Black Steve try another assassination attempt by hiding Black Steve in a giant cake (and he’s insulted that the cake is vanilla) but it fails and he’s gruesomely murdered by a falling piano trap Larrity had set up in his office…(Remember, though, this is a video game world, so it doesn’t stick. He’s dead for a lot longer than Jerry was earlier (he died in the first platformer scene) though, and we never see him respawn.)

The rest of the employees are filling out applications at Bellecovision when Dave comes in with an inspirational speech to bring everyone back to GameaVision, which works quite easily.

Back in GameaVision, Larrity is repeatedly branding Todd like a cow, and he thanks Black Steve for ‘letting him in on his secret’…..which…I guess means he was warning Larrity of the assassination attempts for some reason. Doesn’t make any sense because Black Steve is racist against white people and would logically be super against a racist white guy, but I guess they bonded over guns? If Black Steve was in cahoots with Larrity…why did Larrity kill him with the piano? Shouldn’t that have broken their bond over firearms, or is killing each other a bonding thing between them too?

And…uh….that’s it. They take a group photo with all of the employees, and I guess everything’s all better…suddenly….with no real resolution.

We end on a scene where Dave explains that he pooped in the brownie bowl and wiped his ass with every brownie. Lo and behold, everyone’s behind him in shock having eaten the poop brownies because they’re all have no sense of smell or taste, apparently.

The end.

Finally.

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I actually had high hopes for this at first because the aesthetic made it seem promising, and the premise seemed like something I’d definitely get into, but Code Monkeys is one of the most unfunny things I’ve seen in a long time.

The only thing that’s even slightly humorous about it is some of the changes they make to the video game display. Some of them. Most of them are quite boring, and several of them just try stacking onto a joke we’re either watching or listening to, so it’s pounded into your head so much that it goes from simply not being funny to being annoying.

So many jokes act like you’re too stupid to understand them, even when they’re the most basic ‘jokes’ in existence. Every few minutes, they’re holding your hand through a joke. It’s like a stoner comedy version of Dora the Explorer if Dora thought you were brain dead.

If I ended this review with “And that’s why Code Monkeys is the best cartoon ever made.” I’m certain you’d be able to tell from everything else that I was being sarcastic. Now imagine that I added a /Sarcasm to it. A bit much for this situation since the sarcasm is very apparent – makes it less funny. Now imagine that I made a gif of a video game display where it said ‘Sarcasm’ with a meter going up and added that to it. That’s be way too blatant and just not funny at all anymore, wouldn’t it?

That is how a third of the jokes in this episode work, with everything else just being stupid ‘we can’t think of jokes so here’s something offensive’ humor.

Crude humor/dark comedy is really, really, really hard to do right. And when it’s done wrong, it fails about 100x as hard as any other comedy because now it’s not just not funny, it’s unpleasant.

You can’t confuse dark or crude comedy with just being dumb. It’s the adult equivalent of waving keys in front of a baby’s face. ‘Hurr hurr, it’s funny because it’s racist or sexist or gross. Or hey, sex is funny. Let’s just mention sex or show a character humping things, that’ll get a laugh.’

The least they could’ve done through this whole thing was give us a resolution to the conflict, but the episode just kinda ends. Nothing’s really solved. Dave did get the other employees back, but they didn’t even show them leaving until after Dave had his final conversation with Woz…which is the same scene Dave gets them back. When they come back to the GameaVision offices, they don’t talk to Larrity or do anything. Larrity just brands Todd over and over and kinda bonds with Black Steve.

Is he going to stop being a jackass now? Is he going to reverse all the changes he made? Is he still going to fire Clarence? Who knows? But they’re together now, and that’s all that matters – even though it’s very clear that they all hate each other and aren’t really friends.

I have to give credit where credit is due, however, because this does work pretty well as an introductory episode. Most of the characters are given full introductions (except Clare, the receptionist, who, according to the Wiki, is basically the other female stereotype in that she’s an airheaded tramp. Also like four other people in the group photo that I don’t even remember seeing weren’t introduced either, but I don’t think they’re all that vital since they’re not listed on the main character page.) and the setup is laid out for us very clearly.

I was kinda surprised to learn that Dave is being treated as the main character because, in my opinion, he’s the least likable character in the whole cast besides Larrity. I really thought Jerry would’ve been the focal character given he’s the most likable and reasonable, but nope. He’s basically the deuteragonist.

Other than that, though, I could live my whole life never thinking about this show again and it would be all the better for it.

Final Verdict:

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Final Notes: Code Monkeys did find an audience and was reportedly fairly successful when it aired back in 2007, but G4 still canceled it after being on the air for two seasons/one year for some reason.

In 2017, Adam de la Pena wrote a tweet saying “And then there’s this….gameavision.com” which was supposedly hinting at a revival, but that obviously never happened. Just out of curiosity, I visited the website to see if there was any other information, and all the website says is ‘© 2020 gameavision.com.’ It’s interesting because they had to have recently updated the page to say 2020, but there’s still no information whatsoever on what they might be planning, if anything.

Adam de la Pena also doesn’t seem to be working right now. His last entry on IMDB was writing for a Netflix talk show hosted by Chelsea Handler in 2016-2017 titled ‘Chelsea’ and…uh…the reviews were not good.

It seems like someone at Netflix or something tried to seed the reviews and ratings because half of the reviews are perfect scores and singing the show’s praises so much you’d think it cured cancer while the other half are giving two to one stars and saying it’s a horrible pile of garbage. And guess what? Most of the positive reviews are very clearly by bots or people who were paid off, because the reviews for that show were literally their only reviews and they had no actual profile.

From what I saw of the reaction to the show on other websites, it seems the negative reviews were the most accurate. (Fun fact: Chelsea is the only show made by Netflix to have episodes removed from the platform. They removed 66 out of 90 episodes, supposedly to help people find the newest episodes, but they have other talk shows on the service that they didn’t do this to, so it’s just really odd.)

Of course, I had to look at the IMDB for Code Monkeys too, and it has a respectable score of 7/10. However, nearly all of the actual reviews give it basically perfect scores and said things like ‘Ingenious’ ‘Hilarious’ ‘Masterpiece’ ‘Brilliant’ and only two reviews were bad to moderate, which got labeled as unhelpful.

Sure seems familiar but in an opposite extreme. I wonder if many of the people giving this series rave reviews only have Code Monkeys as their lone review, as if they only signed up to give that positive review. Being fair, several of the positive reviews also seem to be genuine, but I still feel like this was another case of rating seeding.

I’m not accusing De La Pena of having anything to do with this, if it is really a case of buying ratings and reviews, but it’s just a weird coincidence. Maybe I need to take off my tinfoil hat.

I will fully admit that maybe the series gets funnier over time – maybe there’s something good buried deep in the literal shit that I’m not seeing – but you’d never convince me this series is anything close to a brilliant hilarious masterpiece.

I wanted this series to be a brilliant hilarious masterpiece – maybe a lost gem of sorts – but it’s not. It’s just terrible. It’s a unique concept that could’ve been really great but ended up being an exploding turd in a microwave.

Like always, if you enjoy the show, that’s cool, don’t let me stop you from enjoying it, but I am moving on.


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Yu-Gi-Oh! (Manga) Chapters 2 and 3 Review (AniManga Clash! Season Zero Placeholder)

Preface: I typically don’t do this, but the more series I cover in AniManga Clash, the more I might find the need to do so. Since Yu-Gi-Oh Season Zero didn’t cover these chapters of the manga, I’m going to simply do a regular review on them instead.

Chapter 2: Lying Eyes

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Yugi and Jounouchi are talking about a dirty video that floating around. Jounouchi has seen it, but since Japan has strict censorship laws, he couldn’t make out anything in the mosaic censoring. Times sure were different before the Internet, eh?

A filmmaker comes to Domino High to film a documentary about bullying. When he sees Yugi, he assumes he must be bullied, so he decides to make him the star of their show. I guess just following a kid who seemingly must be bullied isn’t good enough, so he asks his assistant director to dress up like a student and beat the piss out of Yugi so they can film it and make a good scene for the documentary.

The assistant lures Yugi out back with the promises of seeing an idol he believes is hanging around the school. With the cameras in place, he beats the crap out of him. Jounouchi comes to his rescue (Noticeably holding a camera, so I think he was snooping to catch a picture of the idol who’s not there.) He tries to attack the director, but he says they’ll catch it on tape if he does. Jounouchi doesn’t realize the cameras are actually off, so the director takes that opportunity to beat him up.

As the director walks away, he says they shouldn’t worry because their faces will just be mosaiced out.

Angered by the injustice, Yugi transforms into Yami.

That night, the director muses that, next time, they should try killing someone on camera…..This guy is so ridiculously over-evil. You were pushing it having someone, a minor no less, beaten up on camera for the sake of a public feature. You want to KILL someone for a public video? Do you want to never see anything but the inside of a jail cell?

Shadow Game

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Yami arrives and challenges the director to a simple dice game. He’ll roll the die once. If the director can roll a die of equal or lower value, he’ll win. Yami rolls a six, and even though the director proclaims that this automatically makes him the winner, Yami insists he roll anyway.

The director then throws the die at his face, seemingly…trying to kill him? When it lands, he states he won since the die seemingly landed on a one, but Yami declares a penalty game for the attack and reveals that the die broke in half. One half landed on one, the other landed on six, equaling seven.

Yami punishes the director with illusion of mosaic, which alters his vision to make everything look like it’s being put through a mosaic filter. Yami’s reasoning was that he warped the reality of his subjects on camera, so he shall be damned to seeing everything through a warped mosaic filter.

The next day, Jounouchi delivers the tape to Yugi, but it ends up in Anzu’s hands and the final panel is of them chasing her to get it back.

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I gotta say, this chapter was kinda dumb. The bad guy setup was a little too ridiculous, the porn tape was an odd side plot, and the shadow game was kinda boring (even his rule breaking was lame. Did he really think he could throw a die so hard he’d kill Yugi?)

Chapter 3: Hard Beat!

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It wouldn’t be Yu-Gi-Oh without Yugi being bullied, so the chapter starts with Yugi being bullied.

A…uh…’music lover’ named Souzouji threatens Yugi into selling tickets for his monthly live karaoke show. No one ever comes to these events because his singing voice is inhumanly awful. Yugi can’t sell any of the tickets and doesn’t want to get Jounouchi or Anzu involved.

He comes across a small, timid boy named Hanasaki who was also bullied into selling tickets for Souzouji. He tries to sell Yugi a ticket, but Yugi decides instead to take the task of selling the tickets off of Hanasaki’s hands so he’ll be free from Souzouji. Problem is, Souzouji watched Yugi take the tickets and he’s none too happy about this.

Later, Yugi’s the only one at Souzouji’s show, and Souzouji’s very mad. He pulls a curtain to reveal Hanasaki, badly beaten as punishment for giving the tickets away.

Shadow Game

yu_gi_oh_3_17

Yugi is so filled with anger at Souzouji’s actions, that he transforms into Yami and challenges Souzouji to a game of silence.

In the karaoke room are Sound Pierrot dolls, which dance upon hearing any noise, even noise as light as moving your foot. The game is simple, one of these dolls will be placed in front of them. First one to dance, IE hear sound, loses.

Oddly, Yami makes no statement about what Souzouji will get if he wins, just that Yami will give his life if he loses and Souzouji will suffer a penalty game if he’s the loser.

The no-sound off starts, and Souzouji notices that Yami left the jack to his headphones perched on top of a glass. If it falls, he’ll win. It’s only a matter of time. Souzouji anxiously watches the jack, waiting for it to fall when the doll suddenly starts dancing.

It wasn’t triggered by the jack falling, however. Souzouji had left his microphone on high and never put it down. He was so amped up waiting for the jack to fall that his heartbeat increased substantially and was audible through the speakers. Yami wins, and Souzouji suffers the punishment game of beat festival.

Now his heart perpetually beats so loudly, to him anyway, that he can’t escape the noise.

Yami picks up Hanasaki and heads for home.

————————————-

This chapter was pretty interesting. The shadow game was a little boring because it was literally a game of doing nothing. I get how it connects back to Souzouji’s desire to be as loud and irritating as possible, but this is basically the game your parents made up to get you to shut up for long periods of time.

I like that Yugi has a new friend, even though I’m not quite certain if he’ll stick around.

I’m also enjoying Jounouchi, even if his part in this chapter was small. He was funny and he keeps showing how dedicated he now is to protecting Yugi and making sure he’s okay.

And now to get back on the anime track.

Episode 2/Chapter 4


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Dreaming of Dreamworks – Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002) Review

Rating: 5/10

Plot: In the gorgeous plains of the old west, a stallion named Spirit roams free with his herd. He loves and protects his herd day in and day out. One day, a group of humans kidnap Spirit and bring him to an army outpost where they aim to break him into an army horse. Spirit allies with a fellow captive, a Lakota boy named Little Creek, and they manage to escape. However, Spirit is just as quickly wrangled up by the village’s tribesmen. While they’re much more kind to Spirit, he wrestles with trusting them and wants nothing more than to be set free and go back home.

Breakdown: Before I get to the actual movie, let’s talk about movies that have or were meant to have “silent” characters. It takes a lot of talent to pull off silent characters, because we have to gauge how they’re reacting, what they’re thinking and what they’re trying to ‘say’ all through body language. (Unless the character can/does write down their dialogue, which is a different pool to swim in.) You have an amazing opportunity in animation with this because you can manipulate the facial expressions, motions and environments as much as you want.

Take Disney’s Dinosaur, for example. While the film is praised for its imagery and animation, it is largely criticized for its lackluster and dull story with forgettable characters. Several other critics noted that the characters sounded way too modern. As one critic mentioned, they sounded like “mallrats,” and the way the dinosaurs spoke and interacted with each other took what was originally a promising movie and made it take a “nose-dive.” I found the movie a bit more tolerable but I can definitely see why that movie gets such flak in that regard.

Originally, Dinosaur was meant to be darker, more documentary-like and have no dialogue. According to the Wiki,

“The film was originally supposed to have no dialogue at all, in part to differentiate the film from Universal Pictures’ The Land Before Time (1988) with which Dinosaur shares plot similarities. Eisner insisted that the film have dialogue in order to make it more “commercially viable.” A similar change was also made early in the production of The Land Before Time, which was originally intended to feature only the voice of a narrator.”

It seems Eisner wasn’t really wrong, because the movie made back twice its budget. However, would the movie be more fondly remembered as a classic if we got the darker, more serious dialogue-free movie? Land Before Time was good with dialogue – would it have been better or worse without it? Does it moreso depend on the story and if it lends itself to being dialogue-free?

“But Twix, children are too stupid to understand the subtle nuances of mostly dialogue-free movies. They need constant jibber jabber in order to keep their attention and understand what’s happening.”

To which I respond, “What the hell is 4Kids doing here?”

This argument baffles my mind. Kids are too stupid to understand stories told without dialogue? Children, who are very underdeveloped verbally and start out learning things about life and people through body language and expressions since they can’t understand language (well), are too stupid to get movies that don’t have dialogue or barely have dialogue? Just…what?

I can understand that keeping a child’s attention through a mostly dialogue-free movie would be a challenge anyway, but….well, that’s the challenge. Isn’t it the sign of a true piece of quality when you can have something that both keeps a kid’s attention and tells a good story without needing to shovel a bunch of dialogue into their ears?

Take Wall-E, which, while not being dialogue-free, is very minimal on the dialogue, especially when compared to other animated movies. There are many scenes of silence and allowing the scenery and expressions to convey the story to us.

Ironically, while this decision was largely an artistic one, it was noted by Roger Ebert that, due to Wall-E’s use of silence and lack of dialogue, it would actually appeal to a wider audience because it would cross language barriers and appeal to adults and children alike.

Wall-E is considered a modern masterpiece in sci-fi and animation, and made nearly three times its budget in the box office.

The reason I’m talking about all this is because 1) It’s really interesting and 2) Spirit was always described to me as a mostly dialogue-less movie, and I’ve seen it praised critically for the fact that the horses don’t talk.

However, while the horses don’t talk, the humans do, which I’m perfectly fine with, to be honest, because it’s more realistic for them to talk. What I’m not so fine with is the fact that Spirit has narration running throughout the entire movie, which basically means he’s both ‘talking’ to us anyway, and the movie’s kinda cheating. Plus, his narration is not very well written and points out the obvious a lot.

For instance, mid-way through the movie, Spirit has grown to dislike humans because the colonel of the local US army unit essentially tortured him in order to ‘break’ him so he could be used as an army horse. He manages to escape with the help of a captive Lakota man named Little Creek, who takes Spirit in.

Lakota has his own horse, a mare named Rain, who loves him and plays around with him. Spirit makes a lot of surprised and confused expressions as he stares at them playing, which conveys to the audience that Spirit doesn’t understand why a horse would be so welcoming, playful and loving to a human – considering his experiences with humans to this point has been entirely terrible.

However, narration from Spirit verbally conveys what we can easily see in the animation. It ruins the scene because it has to dumb it down by outright telling us what Spirit’s thinking at the time, which is weird, because I can guarantee if this was a talking horse movie, this scene would probably be kept silent so that Spirit could later question this situation outright to Rain, which can also be done without dialogue.

The narration can simultaneously be pretentious and intrusive. The first night after Spirit’s capture, he looks up to the stars and quietly stares. We then fade to where his herd is and see his mother staring at the same sky. We can interpret this as meaning that Spirit misses his herd, his freedom and his mother. Likewise, his mother misses him as well and is worried about his safety, all the while they’re connected and separated by the wide night sky. However, before the fade transition, we get narration stating “My heart galloped through the skies that night. Back to my herd, where I belonged. And I wondered if they missed me as much as I missed them.”

I nearly had to pause when I heard the line “My heart galloped through the skies that night.” I really can’t decide if it’s pretentious in a juvenile way or just corny.

A nearly great scene is when Spirit is getting captured. His mother starts to scale a rock face to help him out, but Spirit whinnies in desperation, clearly telling his mother to take the herd and leave. The camera is close to Spirit’s face as he pleads with his mother, who is clearly devastated, but realizes that he’s right. His sacrifice will be for nothing if they all get caught.

This works perfectly, until narration, again, has to dumb it down and straight out say “I was scared, and I had no idea what was going to happen to me, but at least the herd was safe.” I only give this scene props because the narration comes immediately after his mother has already left, so the scene is almost undamaged.

Not to mention that the narration is done by Matt Damon, and you can’t not hear Matt Damon. I’m perfectly fine with Matt Damon as an actor, in fact I quite like his work, but I find him to be a terrible voice actor. His voice is fine – it’s the fact that Matt Damon doesn’t seem to be good at acting through his voice alone, which is much more common than you’d think.

That’s why a lot of big-time animated movies with cast lists loaded down with celebrities tend to falter in the voice acting department. I can’t stress how different voice acting is from stage acting. It’s the same concept, but an entirely different world.

Damon just sounds bored throughout his entire narration. He’s missing his herd – bored. He’s charmed by Love Interest – bored. He’s scared after getting captured – bored. He can put so much more charm and emotion into his voice, he’s just choosing not to.

I’m very tempted to edit this movie from start to finish and mute any moments where there’s narration besides the very start and the ending. I can tell just from the way the movie is directed and animated that this could work much better if the narration was gone.

Movies with minimal dialogue don’t just rely on body language, facial expressions and the environments to convey tones and messages, however – they also rely on music. Who do we have for Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron? Hans Zimmer for the orchestral score, and several songs by….Bryan Adams. I see someone spun the ‘Random 80’s Pop Musicians we can use in our soundtrack’ wheel animated movies love to use.

I like a few Bryan Adams songs, and I find his voice to be good, but his music here is, for lack of a better term, distracting. It’s not bad, it’s just that it doesn’t add to scenes most of the time – it takes things away.

We got our first taste of one of his songs for this soundtrack when Spirit is free and growing up, enjoying life with his herd. This song, like a lot of grand ‘whoo life is great’ scenes, is fine, but forgettable.

Then we get another song when Spirit is being hauled back to the army camp, which comes off like a poorly edited fanvid. That’s not Bryan Adams’ fault and moreso the fault of the editors and director, but it’s still distracting.

Then we get ‘Get Off My Back’ when Spirit is being ‘broken’ by the soldiers in the corral, and that song just left me feeling pulled in two directions in regards to tone. One minute you want me to feel all sad and worried about Spirit’s situation, then you have this scene with music meant to convey that Spirit’s being kickass and not allowing anyone to ride him. It’s supposed to be triumphant, but then it’s immediately followed by Spirit tied to a post and starved and deprived of water for three days before finally fully being ‘broken’ by the colonel.

This scene would’ve worked a lot better if you had a song that was more about determination and never giving up rather than aiming for being kickass and cocky to all those who dare challenge Spirit. You’d have a scene about a brave, determined being finally wavering in his resolve and faltering rather than a cocky hothead running out of steam.

If they needed comic relief at that point in the movie, they had it just a scene prior where Spirit was being groomed by the blacksmith. They weren’t aiming for breaking him at that point. He was just being trimmed and shoed. Spirit was rather funny in how he was able to keep weaseling his way out of constraints to hit the blacksmith. They even had him basically suspended with ropes by all four of his legs and he still managed to clock him.

Even that scene has a drastic tonal shift because we go from Spirit beating the blacksmith again to the colonel commanding Spirit be broken in the corral.

One of the notes that a critic had that was listed in the Wiki page said the movie would have benefited from a comic relief character, and uh, I have to say, no. Just…no. Comic relief characters are already difficult enough to do properly without making them just obnoxious intrusions into an otherwise good story, but I feel like this movie in particular would suffer from a comic relief character. The main characters already have it in them to do mild comedy scenes, just be better at it.

The next Adams song is at the tail end of the second act when Spirit gets captured again and believes his love interest is dead. On a long, somber train ride through the snow, we get a long, somber song. It’s very hard to me to tell if this scene works. The animation is all very overly dramatic and the song is also overly melancholy. It’s one of those scenes where the movie is obviously doing its damnedest to make you feel bad. He even starts hallucinating his herd as snow horses.

The final song is the finale song, and it’s triumphant song. I honestly can’t even remember how it goes, but I remember it’s triumphant.

As for Zimmer’s score, it’s alright. It’s fitting and decent, but it’s also completely forgettable, which is a damn shame. This is Hans Zimmer, the same guy who scored The Lion King, The Dark Knight and even The Prince of Egypt. ‘Alright’ is incredibly disappointing coming from him.

I’ve been awfully negative during this whole review, but I want to emphasize that this movie’s not a complete wash. There are numerous things to like. The art and animation more than deserve the praise they’ve been given. These are some of the most realistic animated horses I’ve seen in a major motion picture. They look, sound and move in an incredibly realistic manner. Even the humans have good designs and move fluidly. The backgrounds are also extremely well detailed and nice to look at.

The scenes in which the narration takes a break work pretty well. The characters, while being extremely textbook and dull are likable and believable enough.

I hate that, outside of Spirit, we don’t get a backstory on any of them. Little Creek’s…nice. Rain’s…..nice. If I had to write a character synopsis on either, I’d be lost. I don’t even have much to say about Spirit, in that regard. He’s rebellious, he’s responsible, he’s a bit of a troublemaker. He’s nice. Even the horrible, terrible colonel is alright as an antagonist, even if it is a bit silly how personal his vendetta with Spirit gets. I couldn’t count how many times those two eyed each other.

There is also that Pocahontas-esque racist-ish veil over this movie. The white men are all horrible and all the Native Americans have a damn near magical connection with the land and animals. They don’t learn English through magic wind or anything, but that kind of vibe is there. I’m not ignoring the atrocities that occurred in the Old West, particularly the American Indian Wars – by all means, tell it how it is – but….that’s just it, tell it how it is. You can have a clear line between who the enemies are and who the good guys are without going overboard.

Even his horse is angry.

Not to mention the fact that shoving both sides into those very specific corners basically waters down every human character into boring archetypes. The bad guys are bad guys because they’re mean and don’t respect the land or animals. They don’t have character – they’re less entertaining Captain Planet villains. The good guys are good guys because they’re nice and love the land and animals. They don’t have character – they’re less cheesy Planeteers.

Also, Spirit seems to bring down the whole Transcontinental Railroad by freeing some horses. Oh and, yeah, he sets the forest on fire and probably kills many people, but this is a triumphant moment because he saved his homeland from being impeded upon by a train…..for a few months, I guess, because they’re just gonna, ya know….rebuild.

Then, after a brief chase, Spirit heroically defeats the colonel by……jumping over a very wide chasm. This earns his respect, I guess, they nod at each other and then the army leaves, never to bother the kind Native American people ever again. Talk about a neck-snapping 180. He went from mustache-twirling villain to very reasonable gentleman in about a minute.

Yeah, enduring several days of torture without Spirit breaking, managing to escape as well as help another (human) prisoner escape, and pulling off every ridiculous thing in the finale – that wasn’t enough to get the colonel to respect Spirit and back off. Nah. But that was one sick jump, horse. I tip my hat to you.

Spirit: “I’ll never forget that boy, and how we won back our freedom together.”

Seriously, Dreamworks? After you decide to keep in the part of the story of Exodus about mass baby slaughter, you decide to imply that the American Indian Wars were settled and the white man left the lands and the Native Americans alone because a horse crashed a train, caused a fire, and made a big jump? Was this movie meant to be realistic or not? It seems like they were trying their best for realism until the ending.

Happy endings all around. Spirit gets the girl, he and Rain go free, reunite with his herd and that’s about it.

I went from positive back to negative again, didn’t I? I’m sorry.

This movie just didn’t hit with me much. Truth be told, it’s one of the more boring movies I’ve watched in a long time. It’s like they said ‘let’s make a movie about a horse’ and filled in the blanks from there. I don’t even feel like saying this movie was wasted potential, but I can’t see what could’ve been there.

The movie’s not funny, the action’s alright, but it’s also not all that great, the characters are all flat and not memorable. They try their damnedest to make some heartwarming moments, but I was left feeling rather cold. I only felt a little heartwarmed when Spirit hugged Little Creek and that’s only because it’s a horse giving a hug. That, by default, is insanely adorable.

The conflict is serious, but never goes far enough. They starve Spirit and deprive him of water for three days, which would be life-threatening for humans, though I’m not sure if the same could be said of horses. And what are the effects of that that we see? He licks his lips when he sees the colonel drink water. That’s it. They try to break him by riding him, but he kicks their asses. When he finally is kinda broken, it’s not impacting enough and it only lasts all of two minutes before he’s back to throwing people around and escaping.

Yes, he’s ‘the spirit that could not be broken,’ I get it, but when you give someone that moniker and make it his defining trait, you have to get him as close to broken as humanly possible so we can cheer when he rises back up. Make us truly believe that his spirit can’t be broken no matter what. Even when he believed Rain was dead, it wasn’t as impacting as it should have been because we, as an audience, knew she’d live and that they’d reunite.

I can see how some people would enjoy this movie purely for being an easy-to-watch, pretty movie about horses, and I can definitely see the appeal to children, but it missed the mark for me. Would it have actually been much better if it had no dialogue, or at least had no dialogue/narration on the horses? Maybe. I don’t really know for certain. Maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about. Wouldn’t be the first time.

It’s a shame, really, because I wanted to like this movie. I remember seeing fanvids of it back in the day and it seemed cool. Plus, I love horses, so this should have been my bread and butter, but it just wasn’t.

I feel like I’m going to get some flak for this one because I know that, despite the fact that this movie isn’t really discussed much in animation circles, it’s still near and dear to the hearts of many people. I looked up a handful of reviews of the movie right before posting this, and yeah, all of them were mostly positive. Worst rating I saw was 3.5/5 and even that review barely had anything actually bad to say about it.

If you were able to connect with this movie in a manner in which I wasn’t and saw something there that I couldn’t, more power to you. I’m not criticizing you for liking it, I’m just stating my own opinion.

Recommended Audience: A horse gets shot, but there’s absolutely no blood. There are guns, but they rarely fire. There’s horse ‘torture’ but half of it’s played for laughs and the other half barely qualifies. You don’t even hear anything when they’re destroying their village. No nudity, sex or anything. 6+

Final Notes: In 2017, Spirit earned a spin-off Netflix series…15 years after movie debuted. It’s called Spirit: Riding Free, and from what I’ve read and heard about it, outside of the main character’s parents being Spirit and Rain, the series has nothing to do with this movie and rarely, if ever, shows Spirit. It seems to be successful with four seasons already under its belt, even though it’s barely been a year since it premiered. So if you liked this movie or even if you didn’t, maybe go give that a watch. I might watch it sometime in the future, as I also intend on watching the Disney movie spin-off TV series.

Update: Hey, so I wrote this review five years ago (yeah my uploading practices bite) but a little update on the show. It’s been eight years now and it’s STILL going. (What the heck was I on when I wrote that? It’s been five years since I wrote the review, but the three years since the series came out (when I added the notes), and it has eight seasons. Back to your regularly scheduled jibber jabber.) Which shocked the hell out of me because Netflix drools over that cancellation button.

Not only is the main series still running, but there are apparently now two spin-off series of the main series, a 45 minute long Christmas special AND Dreamworks is releasing a movie version of the TV spin-off in 2021. (Supposedly, there’s even a mobile game of it?)

I couldn’t resist and decided to finally take a peek at the TV series. Apparently, it’s not what I thought it was. I thought this would be a show about a foal or a young horse that kinda took a beat from Disquels and had the original main characters, in this case Spirit and Rain, kinda being side characters as they parent their kid…..but…nope. Spirit and Rain don’t seem to appear (granted, I only looked at the first episode) because they’re acting like this new horse both is Spirit, but isn’t.

It’s a horse that looks and acts exactly like Spirit originally did. The main character human girl, Lucky, even names him Spirit without knowing who his parents are, and Spirit is just a wild horse who isn’t with Spirit or Rain. It’s not even implied that this horse even is the child of Spirit and Rain – I got that from a blurb in the Wiki for the movie. The Wiki page for the series itself doesn’t even mention this.

The show focuses a LOT more on the human characters (of which we have an entirely new cast – no Little Creek or child of Little Creek or anything) than the horses, and the horses are not given voices or narration, which I think works in the show’s favor. This was the second theory I had in speculation of what the show would be with the first being a My Little Pony-esque show where the focus is entirely on the horses and the horses just talk naturally.

So, yeah….this show seems to be just a series about a girl and her horse with the only string tying the two together being that they reused the character model and name of the main character from the movie.

I’m not critiquing the show quite yet, that’ll probably come eventually, but that’s what it appears like to me. Feel free to correct me. Being fair, the quality of the show looks fine, but we’ll have to see how good it is sometime in the future.

Screenshots courtesy of AnimationScreencaps.com


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Space-Time Detective Genshi-Kun/Flint the Time Detective Sub/Dub Comparison Episode 5: Chilly Chilly Mosbee

Plot: Genshi, Tokio and Sora head to Russia during the French invasion. Napoleon teams up with TP Lady to obtain Mosbee, the space-time monster that can control ice.

———————-

Title Change: Chilly Chilly Mosbee is changed to simply Mosbee.

There’s a complete unnecessary shot of the city placed before the actual start of the episode all so we can hear Ms. Grey get orders from her boss to contact Flint and the others.

Again, more unnecessary scene insertion. They insert a shot of Ms. Grey telling the kids that she needs to speak to Dr. Goodman as well as reaction shot from Tony and Sarah. Dr. Goodman is sleeping in the corner, but instantly wakes up when he hears he can speak with Ms. Grey. Finally, there’s a shot of Dr. Goodman saying a line to Ms. Grey before we cut to what was present originally.

In the original, he’s already there and is the one who picks up the call in the first place. Please stop wasting my time, Saban.

They repeat Flint nodding because I dunno.

Mosbee’s name and data plate are missing.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

Professor Yamato asks if Mosbee is as cool as Ms. Jinguji and proclaims that he wants to warm her up. In the dub, Dr. Goodman says this reminds him of a nice restaurant calls ‘Meals on Ice’ and invites Ms. Grey to eat dinner there with him. That actually sounds terrible. Either it’s a bunch of frozen meals heated up or they literally serve cooked food on ice.

God the animation in this episode is terrible. There’s missing frames everywhere, and the models are really off.

They use the eyecatch animation in the original Japanese version to illustrate Mosbee for the dub right after Pterry explains the history of the time period and place they’re currently in. At least they didn’t get rid of it entirely, and it’s not that intrusive being inserted in there.

Even though Sora’s line about there being good food in Russia is basically the same, Sarah specifically proclaims that she heard that Russia has the best ice cream in the world. I’ve never been to Russia, but I’m assuming that’s not true (Not as a sleight to Russia, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve never heard a word of their ice cream is all.) I’m assuming she said this because Mosbee uses ice and Russia is cold?

This guy has a habit of speaking in song, but he doesn’t in the dub.

Wow, did they choose one of the most bored-sounding VAs to play Kyoichiro (The blue vampire dude.) in the dub.

They switch the position of the panning shot of the soldiers drawing their guns from right before the French soldier speaks with Napoleon to right after he speaks, but before Napoleon replies. Ya know, if 4Kids is the king of unnecessary paint edits, Saban is the king of unnecessary scene swaps.

Huh? In the original, Napoleon says that their only option is to accept an honorable defeat. In the dub, he tells them to fight to the very last soldier. I dunno if that can technically mean the same thing, but the original sounds like he’s telling them before they even fight that they’re screwed, and the dub insinuates that they’ll never give up.

I legitimately laughed out loud when TP Lady started calling Napoleon ‘Napo-chan’

It’s not as funny when Petra calls him ‘Nappy.’

Name Change: Mosbee’s bad transformation is called Warubee. In the dub, he’s Mosbeecon.

The name plate explaining this is painted away.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

Attack Name Change: Warubee’s original attack has no name. In the dub, it’s Petra Freeze.

They insert an external shot of the ice castle after TP Lady laughs after the attack.

The shot of Napoleon getting up and talking is switched to immediately after TP Lady is done talking to after the fantasy. Also, they repeat a shot of TP Lady talking to extend her lines.

TP Lady doesn’t explain her plans straight to Napoleon’s face like an idiot like Petra does. Also, Napoleon doesn’t propose to her in the original.

They remove TP Lady’s mischievous kitty faces.

They remove TP Lady falling backwards onto the bed, making Napoleon blush, because he can see up her skirt. He even points out that he can see her panties, and she slaps him for it. The rest of that takes place off-screen during the pan out, though.

Oddly, though, they keep in the shot of him snuggling up with her lap while’s blushing.

Okay, you can’t convince me that Petra isn’t saying “Married to you? Eff off, Nappy!” I listened to that line several times. I can’t think of any other word she’s saying there.

English VAs, do me a solid and maybe emote when the situation calls for it. Flint just fell like four stories, and the best you can do is ‘Oh no.’

TP Lady says she doesn’t know any Mosbee, only Warubee. In the dub, she doesn’t make the same change with Mosbeecon.

Although, being fair, he’s not in Warubee form there, so she’s kinda wrong and the dub is kinda right, especially when Petra tells Mosbee to transform into Mosbeecon. Point for Saban.

For some reason, they replay the shot of Warubee freezing the soldiers, acting as if a new group had come in, only they mirrored the shot so it’d look different. I really don’t get you, Saban.

How are they running so well on the ice?

Napoleon tries to stop the kids from escaping, but Genshi, unable to stop quickly on the ice, slams into his crotch, making him double over in pain. The kids apologize but continue running. Napoleon gets a shot of ice from Warubee, who then kicks him out of the castle and onto the grass outside. All of this is removed, I assume because of the nut shot….

They insert the same shot of TP Lady speaking after the shot of the kids but before she says ‘Dyna! Mite!’

Okay, this is a joke that fails in both versions. In the original, she commands Dyna and Mite individually. Dyna gives her a bundle of dynamite, which makes her laugh a bit because I guess they thought she meant she was asking for dynamite? In the dub, she specifically says ‘Dynamite!’ and then laughs because it was handed to her with the fuse lit, and then asks ‘then who throws it?’ The setup and delivery just doesn’t work in either versions.

TP scolds them for striking a lady, to which they agree. Petra scolds them for doing the stupidest thing she’s ever seen. They respond ‘Yeah, ya think?’

They insert the same shot of TP Lady’s ship firing the ice spikes after Warubee attacks Genshi again. I guess because we’d be baffled as to where they were coming from, even though we literally saw them start this same assault mere seconds ago.

Uh, Oto-tan….You’re a hammer…………..hit the incredibly fragile ice spike and free your son, please. Save his life?…No. Okay.

Tokio tells Sora to run while he distracts Warubee. In the dub, he says they have to free Flint. Lost a nice, albeit small, moment for the two.

Oh NOW Oto-tan remembers that he’s a hammer. Pft.

They insert a repeat shot of Oto-tan talking after the split shot of TP Lady and the kids reacting to Genshi picking up Warubee.

For some reason, the original has a train-whistle-like sound play as Warubee lays on the floor. This isn’t present in the dub, and I don’t mind because it doesn’t make any sense.

I feel like this ‘Dyna! Mite!…Oops it’s dynamite!’ gag should’ve been done in the first episode. It just seems weird that they’re just now making a joke out of that name combo.

And, again, the gag doesn’t work in either version. It’s a bit better this time in the dub, admittedly, but the original’s is just as stupid.

TP Lady mutters ‘dynamite’ when they leave, and Mite says ‘Not again!’ In the dub, she says ‘It’s just not fair.’ Mite has no line.

Tokio chastises Warubee for continuing to fight even though TP Lady is gone. Tony basically nags Flint to run away before he even has a chance to get back up.

The dub adds impact stars after the second time Genshi gets hit. Dunno why they’re starting that now.

Genshi originally says ‘I can’t fight a friend.’ In the dub, he says ‘Ah, I’m hungry again. Time for some more ice cream.’ Also, they shift the shot of Tokio changing expression to after Genshi says this line and they repeat the shot of Warubee walking towards Genshi.

This next change is weird. In the original, Genshi’s tummy rumbles and he sits up wanting shaved ice like before. (I knew it was shaved ice. There’s no way Mosbee could make ice cream by itself…One point off, Saban!) This makes Mosbee remember the brief good moment the two had together, which I guess is enough to break him out of Petra’s spell but not enough to make him trust Genshi that he wouldn’t betray him earlier?

In the dub, it’s like they’re implying that Flint…telepathically got ice cream after stating he wanted some? His belly still rumbles after he wishes for ice cream, then he thanks Mosbee for it, stating how good it was. I think they were going for the same thing as the dub, bringing up the ice cream from before, but the arrangement of shots really makes it seem like Mosbee somehow fed Flint ice cream without him eating any.

They remove Genshi getting up, supposedly because it’s an underwear shot. I’m not gonna take a screenshot of that, just take my word for it.

The dub adds a wavy effect to the transition before and after the flashback.

They cut out Kyoichiro’s odd reaction to brushing the rose on his face….Like…did he get pricked by a thorn? Did it smell bad? What?

Again with this weird editing. They insert a shot of the group, apparently having noticed the blue guy up in the tree. They ask who he is, but he, in a reversed version of the shot of him we just saw, declines and tells Sarah farewell. I don’t get what they’re doing with insertions like this. I’ve seen dubs cut plenty of stuff out for the sake of meeting American time constraints for airing, but Saban is purposely adding in and repeating a bunch of stuff to make it run longer for absolutely no reason. Can someone please enlighten me?

They mirrored the shot of Putera erasing everyone’s memories….Why?….Please….tell me why.

They remove Napoleon grabbing his crotch. I guess it’s fear that he’ll be hit in the nuts again for some reason?

More scene shifts yay. Instead of cutting to the sepia-toned still shot of the soldiers immediately after we see the kids return home, they shift the shot of the Time Palace place and Toki-G to come before then. Also, they put the sepia-toned shot in a little screen Toki-G is watching and, as the icing on the pointless cake, they zoom IN on the shot when the original zoomed OUT.

I’m really starting to hate you, Saban.

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Outside of the dub being infuriating with all of the completely unnecessary scene shifts and insertions, this episode is actually really good.

It’s definitely the most tense episode so far. Mosbee’s ability to freeze everything as well as being powerful and imposing as a big mammoth make him a really awesome enemy. The battle scenes against him were exciting. Plus his regular form is adorable. I’d totally buy a Mosbee plushie.

How he’s reverted back to normal is a little cheap, and Napoleon was placed sorta oddly here, but it’s alright.

Next time, we meet Cocolon and….oh great, Christopher Columbus…..


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AniManga Clash! Yu-Gi-Oh (Manga) vs. Yu-Gi-Oh Season Zero Chapter 1/Episode 1

Plot: Yugi is a timid kid without many friends. He’s smaller than most of the other students, and frequently gets bullied by Jounouchi, who claims he’s trying to help him be a man, and his friend Honda. Yugi’s precious treasure is an ancient puzzle from Egypt called the Millennium Puzzle that he believes will grant his wish upon completion. His wish? To have true friends. However, he’s been working on it for over eight years and hasn’t solved it.

The school public morals officer, Ushio, takes it upon himself to punish Jounouchi and Honda for bullying Yugi by beating them senseless. When Yugi arrives to defend them, Ushio agrees to let up if he pays him 200k yen as a bodyguard fee.

Yugi doesn’t have anywhere near that kind of money, so he struggles with figuring out what to do. In an effort to clear his head, he decides to work on his Millennium Puzzle. He manages to almost finish it, but is shocked to find a piece is missing. Jounouchi had taken it earlier that day and thrown it into the school pool.

Yugi’s grandfather, Sugoroku, arrives with a surprise – the missing piece! Jounouchi had secretly retrieved it from the water and returned it to pay Yugi back for defending them.

Upon completing the Puzzle, Yugi is endowed with dark powers and a stark new personality – one who punishes evil people by challenging them to shadow games – competitions where your life, soul and sanity lay on the line.

‘Yami’ Yugi invites Ushio to school claiming he’ll pay him his money. Even moreso, in fact. 400K worth. However, there’s a catch. Ushio has to play a shadow game with him to get it.

Ushio accepts. The game is simple, yet dangerous. They each take turns stabbing the stack of money as it is perched on their hand. Whoever has the most money on the knife at the end wins. Whoever has the least or stabs himself, loses.

Ushio’s greed manifests itself in a force controlling his hand. Worried that this force will drive the knife too far, Ushio opts to stab Yugi instead and take the cash. Having broken the rules, Yugi punishes him with a never ending hallucination of money raining from the sky.

Yugi reverts back to normal with no memory of what had just occurred that night. He meets with Jounouchi, who kindly offers his friendship, and Yugi realizes that his wish had come true.

Breakdown: I’ve been wanting to do an episode-by-episode review of Yu-Gi-Oh Season Zero for a long time now – but why not go for the gold and also include an AniManga Clash for you guys? For those unaware, Yu-Gi-Oh Season Zero is the (Unofficial) name given to a 1998 anime based on the original Yu-Gi-Oh manga.

Both the manga and Season Zero are much darker and, outside of the characters, virtually nothing like the 2000 ‘reboot’s’ plot.

In the manga (before it was essentially soft rebooted) and Season Zero, the stories are more episodic and there’s a much wider variety of games being played.

In the 2000 ‘reboot’ (Which is really just a new series that focused more on the later parts of the manga (Chapter 60 and onward) that shifted tone and focus), the plot is almost exclusively driven by Duel Monsters with only a few variations, such as Dungeon Dice Monsters and Capsule Monsters (which is also in the classic manga), popping up. That’s why Yugi is the actual King of GameS. Kinda weird to get a title like that when you really only play one game.

Since this series is so episodic, I decided to go chapter by chapter instead of volume by volume like I normally do, though there will be some exceptions down the line.

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Let me just point something very obvious out before we start – the art, in both versions, is just terrible. Absolutely awful. Laughable at many points. Anyone who has made fun of the reboot’s art hasn’t seen anything yet.

In a complete 180 move, Honda, who was originally a fellow bully to Yugi and best friend to Jounouchi, gets turned into somewhat of a goody two shoes in the anime. He’s a school beautification club member and was even up for student council president, but lost the election.

I never thought I’d say this while doing this comparison, especially so early, but the reboot actually did this part more accurately. Even though this version gives Honda more personality and differentiates himself more from Jounouchi, the later anime keeps him as a fellow bully and best friend to Jounouchi, later fellow friend to Yugi…..And he basically becomes a load of nothingness once he stops being a bully because, unlike Jounouchi who has a strong personality, continues to better himself and goes off to become an amazing duelist, Honda basically stagnates for all of eternity, only duels all of once, and strives to…..drive a motorcycle, hit on his best friend’s sister and turn into a robot monkey.

This is a welcome change that I would’ve actually liked to have been kept in the reboot, kinda. At least it would’ve given Honda more personality. Honestly, it wouldn’t give him more of a reason to exist, but still, it’s better than nothing. My issue with the Season Zero!Honda in this situation is that he also gets beat up later in the episode even though he wasn’t one of the bullies attacking Yugi in this version, so you kinda feel bad for him.

Honda’s role is also increased quite a bit as he was basically a background character for most of the original seven volumes of manga this series bases itself from, only getting the spotlight a few times before being bumped up a bit to a moderate side character. This change was probably for the sake of increasing the main cast size and story padding since the material is typically a bit thin to run for a full 22 minutes.

Likewise, a character who barely exists in the manga, Miho, also has her role greatly expanded to being a side character. I assume this decision was for the sake of adding a little more to Honda’s character, as he has a massive crush on her, and to maybe add more girls/fanservice to the series. Miho, in the manga, appears for only one chapter centered around Honda trying to confess his love for her through a jigsaw puzzle. At the end, she rejects him and is never seen again.

Believe it or not, the bully, Ushio was indeed a public morals committee member who strictly enforced all school rules. In fact, if the subs on the anime are any indication, he WROTE all of the school rules, which I highly doubt.

Anzu is nicer in the manga than she is in the anime in this instance. She originally says that she couldn’t stand to watch a nice guy like Yugi get harassed by Jounouchi. She further expresses her frustration with them by explaining that Jounouchi and the other boys got the girls to play basketball with them just so they could see their panties when they jumped. In the anime, she says she has to be tough or else they’d pick on her too and berates Yugi for claiming Jounouchi’s not actually a bad guy since that kind of attitude is what gets him mocked in the first place. Kinda funny how a character who will later be known for her friendship speeches is acting like a cool jerk who believes thinking the better of people is good for nothing but getting your ass beat.

Also, Yugi’s a bit of a perv in the manga…….and noses come and go.

Minor, but the manga has a misunderstanding where Yugi tells Anzu that the puzzle is a memento of his grandfather, leading her to believe his grandfather passed away. When he brings her to the game shop later, she’s shocked to find he’s alive. Yugi then corrects himself and says he meant to say it’s going to be a memento of his. That’s a bit morbid, there, Yugi.

Sugoroku is a pervert in both the anime and the manga, by the way.

Ushio originally asks for 200k yen in the manga whereas, in the anime, he asks for 20k. The anime amounts to about 200 USD, while the manga amounts to about 2000, which is why it’s a bit more understandable for Yugi to be outraged. It’s still a lot in either version, but 2000 bucks is much more ridiculous to ask for than 200.

In the manga, Ushio says he’ll pass on the responsibility of punishment to Jounouchi and Honda if he pays the 200k. Yugi pretends to be interested in beating them up for the sake of getting Ushio off their back. As a bit of a down payment, Ushio beats up Yugi for a bit. In the anime, we cut straight from Yugi reacting to the 20k fee to him thinking about how to get the money while he continues work on the puzzle.

The scene in Yugi’s room continues beyond the point of finding that the last puzzle piece is missing. In the manga, Yugi starts crying and panicking because the piece is gone. Sugoroku arrives and hands it to him stating that a soaking wet boy delivered it to the house and asked to give it to him. It was Jounouchi, but he asked Sugoroku to not tell Yugi it was him. He had gone into the school pool to fish it out as a bit of repayment for Yugi protecting them from Ushio. Yugi then finished the puzzle and instantly becomes Yami.

In the anime, Sugoroku never comes into Yugi’s room or gives him the piece. Instead, he runs to school at sundown in hopes of finding where he dropped it.

In the manga, the now Yami’d Yugi invites Ushio to school at midnight with the promises of giving him the money he ‘owes’ him. Yami reveals that he ‘accidentally’ brought 400k yen instead of 200k and claims if he wants the additional 200k that he’ll have to play a shadow game. All they’ll need is Ushio’s knife.

In the anime, Ushio is still at school, for some reason, and catches Yugi returning. He asks for the money, but Yugi says he doesn’t have it nor does he think he’ll be able to get it. Ushio then takes Yugi out behind the school for some ‘education’ in the form of a beating. Jounouchi, who had just retrieved Yugi’s puzzle piece from the canal, and Honda see this happen, return his puzzle piece to him and attack Ushio in defense of Yugi. While he lies on the ground, Yugi mutters to Jounouchi that his wish was for true friends.

As they get beat by Ushio, Yugi elaborates more on his wish in inner monologue. When he sees Jounouchi and Honda lying unconscious, he crawls over to the puzzle and adds the final piece. Upon completion, Yami possesses Yugi.

Shadow Game

In the manga, today’s shadow game is fairly simple. They each take turns placing the stack of money on their hands. Then they take the knife and stab the money. However much money they stab through, they keep. Whoever has the most money at the end of the game wins. If you stab yourself at any time during the game, you lose. If you break the rules, you end up with a penalty game.

Yami goes first. He gets less than ten bills.

Upon Ushio’s turn, Yami gives him a tip – don’t use too much strength or you’ll stab yourself. The aim of the game is to control your greed. He uses more strength than Yami, earning him more bills.

As the game goes on, Ushio pulls out ahead, but he finds himself struggling with controlling his arm as the amount of bills decreases.

As Ushio’s about to take his turn, Yami reveals that shadow games unveil a person’s true character and sort of turns that into something physical IE Ushio’s inability to control his hand. In order to win the game and save his hand, he has to learn to control his greed.

Ushio thinks there’s an easier solution to this problem that allows him to use all of his strength, save his hand and get all the money – simply stab Yami/Yugi to death.

Yami is able to dodge out of the way. Since Ushio broke the rules, Yami punishes him with a penalty game: illusion of greed. He is now cursed for all eternity to having uncontrollable hallucinations about money falling all around him.

The next day at school, he’s rolling around in leaves and garbage, thinking they’re piles of cash.

In the anime, the game is entirely changed. As Ushio walks away, he’s suddenly teleported to the side of the school’s water tower, hanging by a rope. Yami appears with the money and challenges Ushio to a game, which Ushio accepts out of pride over never having lost a game in his life.

Yami also descends down the tower, revealing he and Ushio are connected via the rope. The lower he goes, the higher Ushio goes and vice versa. He drags a trail of playing cards behind him. Each of them will take turns flipping over the cards. The higher the value, the more you ascend. Whoever reaches the top, gets the money. He neglects to explain what will happen to the loser until the game is up.

Yami indeed wins the match, but Ushio’s not done with him. He climbs up the tower anyway, accusing Yami of fixing the game in his favor. Yami briefly warns him to not break the rules or else something bad will happen. He knocks Yami off the tower and cuts the rope, seemingly murdering him. He reaches for the money only to find that it’s a deck of playing cards.

As punishment for breaking the rules, Ushio is ‘swallowed by his greed’ which equates to him being eaten by a bunch of giant worms. In real life, however, he’s perpetually locked in a nightmare and ends up huddled in a fetal position crying out that he’s scared.

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I’m a little torn about this comparison, to be honest. The anime changed several things, but I can’t deny that some of them might have been for the better. Cutting out Yugi’s first beating was fine in my opinion. It didn’t make much sense to beat him then anyway. Plus Yugi trying to get out of it by saying he’ll beat Jounouchi and Honda was a little strange. He was asking for the money anyway and seemed like he’d let him off without him making that declaration.

Jounouchi did witness Yugi getting beaten up for them, but I think simply the act of standing between him, Honda and Ushio was enough to prove to Jounouchi that Yugi had guts and actually cared about them, despite what they did to him.

There was much more substantial buildup to Yugi getting his puzzle piece back in the anime. In the manga, Sugoroku just hands it over immediately after Yugi realizes that it’s missing. He never even learns that Jounouchi is the one who returned it to him (Granted, he’s also the one who took it….)

Yugi getting the piece back right before Honda and Jounouchi try to fight Ushio for Yugi’s sake is so much better. The inclusion of Jounouchi and Honda fighting for Yugi is a much better addition overall, to be honest. In the manga, Honda doesn’t do anything to earn Yugi’s friendship, and Jounouchi just gets wet. Even though Honda doing this when he was rewritten to not be a bully seems kinda unfair, it was still a cool thing to do.

Giving Honda more of his own personality was also welcome, even if it’s not the best personality. I don’t want him to be a watered down Jounouchi clone, but I also don’t want him to be such a massive bore like the reboot version is.

Miho is a bit of a question mark because she has no purpose here outside of making Jounouchi and Honda go away, which they were going to do anyway.

Anzu also kinda being changed to a slight jerk, in this episode anyway, also didn’t do it any favors.

The biggest aspect that the manga has in its favor is the shadow game, which is vastly better than the anime’s version. I don’t know why they changed it so drastically, to be honest. Was the knife thing too frightening?

The manga’s game actually involved Ushio’s greed and required a sense of self-control. The anime’s game relied entirely on luck. The only aspect that involved Ushio’s greed was in him cheating in the end. His attempt to kill Yugi there was pointless. He could’ve grabbed the money and ran, but instead he straight up murdered Yugi/Yami. However, he states he could survive a plunge into the canal and only end up getting wet, which is weird because the canal isn’t very deep and that is a very high tower.

His attempt to kill Yugi/Yami in the manga actually did have a point. It was either do that or stab his hand or risk losing the money.

The penalty game was also better or at least more creative in the manga than the anime. Him being trapped in a perpetual hallucination of money both fits his situation better and is a hell of his own design. In the anime, he’s just scared of giant worms with teeth.

All in all, it was really close, but I’ll have to give this episode to the anime. The additions and changes they made were almost entirely for the better outside of the shadow game, and while the shadow game was a lot better in the manga than the anime, it wasn’t enough for it to pull ahead.

Winner: Anime

Since the next chapter isn’t in the anime, I’ll be reviewing that as a singular chapter.

Chapter 2…..

Episode 2/Chapter 4

Final notes: I feel I should mention that the 2000 Yu-Gi-Oh series did indeed keep this backstory for Yugi, Honda and Jounouchi, but obviously it’s toned down immensely in that series. It was cut down to basically a minute-long barely-animated flashback. Also, there’s no mention of Ushio getting comeuppance in any way outside of the dub which claims he got expelled because of his actions.


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Hell Girl: Two Mirrors (Hell Girl Season 2) Full Series Review

Rating: 7.5/10

Plot: The second season of the horror anthology, Hell Girl. Ai continues to do her job, taking requests on her website to send people to hell and marking the clients for hell (when they die their natural death) after she’s done the deed. Day after day, request after request comes in, but she starts to falter in her duties when she meets a boy whose story becomes eerily similar to her own.

Breakdown: Continuing on right from where we left off in season one, Two Mirrors continues exploring the cases of Ai’s clients while also including new additions to the formula and the cast of characters.

Ren and Hone Onna, who originally were really only used for hell torture shenanigans, are also used as dolls in this season, relieving Wanyuudou of having to do it every time. Why he was the only one used in season one, I don’t know.

The Hell Team is also being far more involved in cases than they have been in the past. Before, they pretty much laid back and just waited for their client to pull the string. Sometimes they’d get involved, if the circumstances of the case were wonky, but for the most they wouldn’t even really appear until the final scenes. I really liked this change because it allowed the main cast to actually be, oddly enough, the main cast. It’s hard to really connect with the cast if most of what we see of them is brief glimpses where they’re playing dressup and tormenting targets.

They still do that, of course, but we get so much more of them actively watching and talking about cases, and numerous times they actually get directly involved, which is obviously a very risky move. They’re not supposed to have any influence on whether or not characters pull the string, but there are a few times where their presence and interference has seemingly affected matters either for the better or worse.

For example, in one episode Ren accidentally triggers a sequence of events – events that otherwise likely wouldn’t have happened at all – that lead to the client pulling the string. In another episode, it seems like the Hell Team, including Ai, are trying to protect an old man who is their current target from being sent to hell because he was very innocent and had noble causes in what he was doing that was earning the ire of the client.

It definitely makes the stories more interesting to have the Hell Team even just commenting on the situation in the background, but it adds so much more when they get emotionally invested and even see themselves being reflected in the stories of the clients.

Speaking of the Hell Team, we also finally get all of their full backstories – Hone Onna’s being the most fleshed out and interesting, but all of the stories being pretty good.

With good additions come bad, however, because this season also introduces us to Kikuri – a little girl with massive purple bug eyes who is basically irritation incarnate. Her true identity isn’t revealed until the final episode, but her existence still doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Even knowing her true identity, which is confusing in its own right, she neither needs to exist in this story nor does she need to be nearly as annoying as she is.

The individual stories, as you can imagine, vary quite a bit in their quality, being an anthology. It’s really hard to find any anthology where nearly all of the stories in the set are equally as good, and Hell Girl is never the exception to this rule.

There were only a couple of outright stinkers, there were some shining gems in the lot, but even the moderate/mediocre episodes never usually bored me.

A disheartening theme throughout most of the stories this time around did start weighing on me, and that’s utter depression. Part of the appeal of this series is watching horrible people be sent to hell in comeuppance for their actions towards the client. It’s always bittersweet considering the client is also literally marked for hell as a payment for this service, but many times the client’s life is made much better or they have a better personal outlook towards the future. Some instances during season one even seemed to bend reality or time or what have you to make the client’s life a little better after pulling the string.

It’s essentially a problem that was plaguing Hajime and Tsugumi’s mission as well, because they, or moreso Hajime, were always trying to stop clients from pulling the string. They thought using the service was wrong, even if the targets deserved it or the clients really had no other options – sometimes in a life or death manner. Hajime basically had the catchphrase of “Revenge is bad and that’s that.”

It was difficult to really root for them too much because it always seemed like it was actually for the better for the client to pull the string instead of continuing to live the way they were. Sometimes, they had other options and means of escape and it was more or less just a ‘they deserved it’ type of deal, but many times it seemed like it wasn’t the worst thing to just send the target to hell.

Yes, this sounds terrible because it’s pretty much saying it was difficult to root for people who were, plainly, trying to stop murders, but that’s the way it’s been framed for us. The writers had to go to ridiculous lengths to create a situation that actually supported their viewpoint. It involved an unrealistically perfect woman being sent to hell by a random psycho just….because. In order to avoid writing a reason why, they immediately killed the client off. And, as you can imagine, even that wasn’t strong in their favor because, being honest, Hell Girl’s rules should have prevented that situation from ever happening.

This season would have actually worked more for them because so many of these stories are just flatout depressing. Many are very well-written, despite the downer…everything, but that doesn’t change the fact that I wrote ‘depressing’ way too many times in my individual episode reviews. There’s even an episode that seems specifically designated to just say ‘Humanity’s nothing by evil scum, has been since the dawn of time….but some of them are okay a little, I guess.’

Our very first episode, in fact, gives us a bit of a bait and switch because, while it does go back to business as usual with a horrible person tormenting a young girl, it’s later revealed that the target wasn’t the only one tormenting her – the other being her only friend – so she basically sent that person to hell, damned herself to hell and didn’t get full revenge nor end the problem.

Not every single episode is a complete downer, some even have kinda-ish happy endings, but a good chunk of them are borderline heartbreaking.

One of the worst examples was Tragedy of the V where the client is a serial killer, though he’s doing it out of vengeance for his lost family. The only family he has left is a daughter who is lost in a coma, seemingly forever. He’s deathly ill, which is why he resorts to Hell Girl for his final target, and accepts his fate after he pulls the string.

However, as horrible fate would have it, and by ‘horrible fate’ I mean Kikuri being a bitch, his daughter wakes up from her coma immediately afterward, sending him spiraling in a personal hell, realizing his horrible actions and what he’s done to his daughter. This ending wasn’t just depressing for him, it was really depressing for his daughter. She had been in a coma for years and now has to cope with learning her family, barring her father, is dead, that her father turned into a serial killer to avenge them (and not even really avenge them, but moreso avenge their honor because the targets were assholes who were goofing around on TV as they filmed the wreckage of the house his family died in) and that he’s knocking on death’s door himself.

I think the writers actually realized how much they’ve shifted into just being sad sacks this season because the hell tortures this season were sparse. The ones we actually got were typically very awesome and creative, so that’s good, but part of the fun of watching this series is seeing how the Hell Team gets creative with their torments before taking the target to hell, so it’s a bit disappointing that we didn’t get to see that very often.

Speaking of Hajime and Tsugumi, though, I was disappointed that they barely got so much as a cameo this season. Hajime wrote a book about Hell Girl that a Detective, Meshiai, uses to learn about Hell Link, but it’s also implied that he died some time between seasons one and two. I mentioned in my review of season one that Hajime never appears again, and I was a little right because he only appears in a very short flashback as Meshiai reads the book. However, Tsugumi shows up very briefly to convince Meshiai that the story is true and heavily implies that Hajime is dead.

Tsugumi only looks about one year or so older than she did in season one, so what could have happened to Hajime in the meantime remains a mystery. Tsugumi does reappear in season three, now grown into a woman, and she gets a brief few shots in season four, but we never learn of Hajime’s fate as far as I know.

Tsugumi is horribly underutilized. She could have been so much more important than what she was in season two. All she gets is literally one scene, that is actually badly written, in one episode and then she’s gone.

Before I expound upon that, let’s explore the overarching plotline for this season; the story of Takuma Kurebashi – the ‘devil’s child.’

….Oh god…Where do I even start with this kid?

First of all, Takuma’s story isn’t really overarching throughout the entire series. He first appears in episode 14, which sets the stage for all of the other horrible dominoes to fall, but doesn’t appear again until episode 22, which is the start of the rest of his story until the end of the series. Yup. He gets the last five episodes all to himself.

Second of all, he’s a really likable kid, which makes watching him suffer so much all the more painful. He did contact Hell Girl, but when he realized exactly what her services entailed, he respectfully declined and decided, instead, to let the cops handle his problem (Spoiler alert – they don’t.)

He’s always very kind and respectful of people, even when they treat him like garbage. When he’s hearing whispers in the mall, he hums to himself and ignores it, only to cry when he’s all alone. When things start getting worse, he holes himself up in his house and does disturbing things like lay in his overflowing backtub in the dark singing the Seven Sending song to himself.

He’s very non-confrontational, which might be why, when he does become confrontational, he’s pretty bad at it…..almost comically bad….I’m sorry, I still can’t get over what he did in the finale. It was just a gem of nonsense.

Third, I can’t even begin to convey to you how much horrible garbage this kid goes through over the course of this show. It was seriously getting hard to watch after a while, and it was hard enough just in his first episode. Do you know that TV Trope ‘The Woobie’? If they had an award show for Woobies, he would clean up.

Rarely have I ever seen a character go through so much shit in succession with really no bright spots along the way – and if there were bright spots, they were snuffed out within 24 hours. I’m not exaggerating, by the way. If he’d get a friend or even someone trying to clear his name, they’d be taken to hell, die in an accident, savagely assaulted into a coma, beaten and kidnapped or driven to suicide and left in a coma all within about 24 hours of either meeting them or hearing good news about something they’re doing for him.

I have a master list of all of the bad things that happened to Takuma over the course of the show in the final episode review.

If you thought the individual stories were getting to be too depressing to enjoy, you certainly won’t have a single drop of enjoyment watching Takuma’s extended plotline. You’re not meant to, obviously, but it drags on for way too long. The kid gets six episodes of torment – nearly a quarter of the entire series – suffering from one blow after the next, and usually doing it all alone. It, honestly, could have been cut down by at least two episodes and have the same effect. Hajime and Tsugumi’s story spanned many episodes in little pieces before getting their main focus, and the show continuously inserted them into regular episodes, even if they barely did anything. All of this happening at once, barring the gap between episodes 14 and 22, is just too much to pile on.

Nearly everyone either shuns, hates or is terrified of this poor kid who did literally nothing to deserve it. He’s even made the scapegoat for tons of Hell Girl clients in order to avoid suspicions being directed towards them for the disappearances they’ve caused.

Not even that makes much sense because, outside of this particular storyline, no client has ever been charged or convicted of a Hell Girl disappearance because the service never leaves a trace behind. That’s partly why the service is so appealing to many people. It’s basically the perfect murder. All you need to do is pull a string on a doll and they’re gone for good. There’s no evidence to lead investigators towards accusing the client, considering both the doll and the target disappear upon the string being pulled, and the suggestion of Hell Girl is just laughable to investigators, so it just seems like these bastards are blaming Takuma for no reason.

After all of that happens to him, none of the people who actually deserved to be punished got any punishment. The guy who started the ‘devil’s child’ rumors is sent to hell, but that’s about it – and that was in episode 14 so that was just the tip of the iceberg. Even if the ultimate message is to forgive and let go of anger, at least a little cosmic karma would’ve been nice to see. But nope. Not a single bit of punishment for them outside of being damned to hell once they die naturally.

It’s just such a hard pill to swallow. Nearly every client in this show has to suffer, but they at least get some reprieve when they pull the string, and they don’t go through half the crap Takuma does. This is one kid who even refused getting the doll and refused to lash out on those wronging him for so long, until the very end (and even then, he doesn’t do much) and he gets the bare minimum in return.

Coming back to Tsugumi’s role, she easily could have taken Hotaru’s place in Takuma’s story. Hotaru is the younger sister of Detective Meshiai, who has been assigned to the rash of mysterious disappearances in the town. She serves as Takuma’s one longer-staying confidant (And by that I mean, again, 24 hours) throughout his arc, but her role easily could have been given to Tsugumi. She already knows of Hell Girl’s story, she’s an established and beloved character, she would have plenty of reason to befriend this kid and try to help him out, and she would be able to better convince Meshiai of the legitimacy of Hell Girl. She could also make for a good big sister character if they aged her up a little more.

But nope. Kikuri, for some reason, calls her out to just briefly tell Meshiai to believe Hajime’s words from the book, not even revealing who she is to him in order to give him much more of a reason to listen to her. Then she just up and leaves and we never see her again, this season anyway.

Great use of her character. Good job. I’m proud of you.

It’s a bit of a problem anyway because Hotaru’s not that great of a character. She has her ups and downs and she truly cares about Takuma, even though she barely knows him, but she’s also irritating and ends up betraying Takuma anyway – completely pointlessly even – just so she can play the role of Sentarou in this story.

As I touched upon in the plot synopsis, Takuma’s story is meant to be a reflection of Ai’s backstory, which puts her at odds. For most of the episodes, she and the Hell Team just sit by and watch over Takuma as all of these terrible things keep happening to him. He’s not a client, but they continue to visit him and follow his plight anyway. Things come to a head in the very last episode when he’s sent to hell via Hell Link and Ai has to ferry him away.

This is Ai’s big final test in her repentance. If she decides to go against the Master of Hell’s orders, she and her parents will be doomed to hell for all time. However, if she doesn’t, she’ll be allowing another innocent person to be wrongfully damned (literally) the same way she was 400 years ago.

The resolution to Ai’s story is pretty well done, even if the absolute ending is tainted by the third season. I wanted to view this in same light I originally viewed this season way back when I originally watched it, which was when I believed it was the final ending to Ai’s story, but I just can’t shake how it’s marred by the third season (and fourth) continuing on instead of letting it end here. Is Hell Girl really such a cash cow that they didn’t want to let it end, or was Ai’s character design really so appealing or notable that they didn’t want to introduce a new Hell Girl and gamble on her instead?

Neither the ending to her story nor Takuma’s is really great, though. Ai’s turnaround lacked strong emotional impact, which is disappointing given how emotional the ending to season one was, and Takuma’s was too cleanly scrubbed at the end, even with the implications in play. There’s just no way a kid who has gone through that much horrible stuff can just get up and move along happily like nothing happened. I’m glad he at least got a partially happy ending, but still.

Bottomline: This season got knocked down just half a point from it’s predecessor because it was harder to actually enjoy than season one, and the main plotline was just a little too drawn out and relentlessly upsetting than the storyline with Hajime and Tsugumi. There are many points where this season shines brighter than season one, and I’ve even stated that this season holds some of the best episodes of the franchise, but the problem areas drag it down a little too much to really keep it at the exact same level as season one.

You don’t even get to enjoy nearly as much poetic justice as you’re accustomed to due to the change in writing or tone or whatever they were going for. Even the best episodes, even the ones that do have sweet, sweet karma in them leave you feeling depressed. Not all shows, especially not Hell Girl, are designed to make you feel good, but 26 episodes worth? That’s pushing it.

I really needed Ai’s finale to be one big uplifting hurrah to make up for it all, even if it would have to be bittersweet, but it wasn’t. It was a good note, but it was also weighed down by bad. And, as much as I hate to take future seasons into consideration, even the good in the finale is tarnished just on the basis that it’s not the actual end for her.

I hope her actual finale in Fourth Twilight makes up for it, but all I’ve heard is terrible things about that season (it’s even earned a one star rating on THEM Anime Reviews – ouch.)

Additional Information and Notes: Hell Girl: Two Mirrors/Jigoku Shoujo: Futakomori was directed by Takahiro Omori, who also directed Koi Kaze, Baccano! and Durarara!! It was produced by Studio Deen and is currently licensed in North America by Sentai Filmworks, but it has yet to be dubbed in English.

Episodes: 26

Year: 2006 – 2007

Recommended Audience: Like the first season, the subject matter alone calls for a more mature audience, but, specifically, there are some brutal scenes involving people being boiled alive, beating a young girl to death with shovels, miscarriage caused by pushing a pregnant woman down stairs (though we never really see that, if I recall) a woman being shot in the neck with an arrow and more. You also have some iffy themes such as incest and rape appearing once or twice. There’s also some animal abuse and death, but not nearly as bad as some of the stories in the previous season. 15+

Hell Girl: Two Mirrors/Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori Review Archive

Episode 1: The Girl in the Dark

Episode 2: Bubbles

Episode 3: Beloved Kei

Episode 4: Secret

Episode 5: Barreling Towards Hell

Episode 6: Where the Sun Shines

Episode 7: Bonds

Episode 8: The Fake Hell Link

Episode 9: Elder Brother, Younger Sister

Episode 10: Anna Sone’s Intimate Holiday

Episode 11: The Distant Room Next Door

Episode 12: Black Rut

Episode 13: Tragedy of the V

Episode 14: The Peaceful Lakeshore

Episode 15: For the Sake of this Country

Episode 16: Aspiring Femme Fatale

Episode 17: Silent Gaze

Episode 18: That Person’s History

Episode 19: Hell Amongst the Steam, Lodging for Travelers

Episode 20: A Maiden’s Album

Episode 21: Paper Balloons Wafting

Episode 22: Longing

Episode 23: Distrust

Episode 24: Chain Reaction

Episode 25: Wandering

Episode 26: Indigo Dye

Hell Girl: Two Mirrors Episode 26 (FINALE) Indigo Dye Review

Plot: One last doll. One last red string pulled. Hotaru sends Takuma to hell in order to stop the cycle of revenge, but is this truly the end? Will Ai be forced to watch a child suffer through the same fate she did over 400 years ago, or will she find it within her heart to let go of her own anger, forgive those who wronged her and finally end the cycle of revenge?

Breakdown: Previously on “This Kid Can’t Catch a Fucking Break,” the defense squad viciously beat and kidnapped Detective Meshiai, who finally had some proof in clearing Takuma’s name in this whole ‘devil’s child’ and Hell Girl mess. A good chunk of the town, especially most people in the defense squad, had taken to using Hell Girl to make people disappear left and right and using Takuma as a scapegoat. The defense squad feared that suspicion would be placed back on them if Takuma was cleared, so they kidnapped and beat Meshiai unconscious, holding him in a shed, to prevent him from doing so.

Meanwhile, they set out to kill Takuma in order to end this whole fiasco once and for all.

Takuma wasn’t without a kind hand, however, as Hotaru found him and aided his escape. They took refuge in a shrine where Hotaru started reading the book about Hell Girl written by Hajime that Meshiai left behind. They learned of her horrible and familiar backstory from over 400 years ago and worried that they’d suffer the same fate as she did. Hotaru claimed that won’t happen and vowed to protect Takuma no matter what.

As bad luck would have it, and by ‘bad luck’ I mean Kikuri being a bitch again, Kikuri lead the defense squad to the shrine where Hotaru and Takuma were hiding. They took them, tied them up and lead them into a boat in a lake. They tied large rocks to them and smashed a hole in the boat before pushing it out into the water, waiting for it to sink and the kids to inevitably drown.

It looked like it was the end of them until Meshiai drove up, having escaped from the shed. He scared away the defense squad by brandishing his gun and rescued the kids in the nick of time.

Just when things finally looked like they might get better, as they’re driving home, Meshiai suddenly vanished – he had been whisked to hell by one of the only people in the defense squad who hadn’t used Hell Girl’s services yet.

The car crashed into a ditch, but the kids were unharmed. Still, Hotaru was devastated by the loss of her brother and they had no clue what to do next as they walked home. Suddenly, Hotaru stopped in the middle of the road and used her brother’s laptop to access Hell Link – she intends on sending Takuma to hell in hopes of ending this once and for all.

And now….

At this point, Hotaru’s annoying, an idiot and a bitch. Just thought I’d catch you up.

It’s remarkable how quickly her character went downhill. Initially, she was pretty cool – shaping up to be an even better detective than her brother. She also sympathized a lot with Takuma. Then she got kinda annoying because she didn’t believe Takuma’s story about Hell Girl at all, but that’s understandable. Then she was back to good again with helping Takuma escape and hide. Then she was back to annoying in how she acted after they got taken. That’s also understandable, to a degree, considering they were about to kill her, but it doesn’t mean she wasn’t being annoying flailing around in the sinking boat when told not to and knocking Takuma into the water during the rescue because she was still flailing. Then we’re back to good again as they drive home. And then it’s down to full idiot with a dash of bitch when she says she has to send Takuma to hell.

And she does it. Not even five minutes into the episode, counting the OP, she’s demanding the doll and immediately pulls the string even though;

1) Her one goal this entire time was protecting Takuma,

2) She should know that killing Takuma won’t stop the town from continuing to use Hell Link or even just being assholes,

3) She was complaining that Hell Link was causing nothing but suffering and shouldn’t exist, yet here she is calling Hell Girl and even rushing to get Takuma gone,

4) She’s immediately damning him to hell when just flatout killing him would give him a shot at heaven, and,

5) Doing this also won’t bring her brother back.

But it’s okay, because she intends on killing herself immediately afterwards.

Yeah, that’s her ‘redemption’ I guess. Just that she is going to ensure Takuma’s not alone in hell and will follow immediately. Again, I must reiterate – hell is hell. Not a place where you pal around with other people. If something in hell is making you happy, you’re either a demon, Satan himself or not in hell.

She does apologize, but that’s of little comfort or use.

And that’s the last we technically see of Hotaru. She attempts suicide via drowning, doesn’t die but ends up in a coma that she never wakes up from.

Great redemption arc.

HGTMEP26FINALESCREEN3
I find it funny that it doesn’t look like she’s even a little wet. It’s like she just passed out on the shore.

But we have to address the most pressing question we’ve had over the course of the series – Can this kid catch a fucking break?

The answer is

*drum roll*

YES!

Well….I guess as much of a break as this kid can get.

Let’s rewind a bit.

Hotaru pulled the string and Takuma was sent on the ferry to hell. Right as she returned to the real world, she immediately walked into the frigid lake to drown herself.

Meanwhile, Takuma is crying in the ferry, and Kikuri, the bitch, is taunting him. First she offers him a candy and then she says, knowingly, that this certainly isn’t the first time someone completely innocent has been betrayed and sacrificed by their friend. Takuma then tearfully begs Ai to help him.

Ai visibly struggles with continuing to row after that, and she, shockingly, decides to turn the boat around and return him to where he originated.

When he awakens, he finds Ai who is now back in her human form – brown eyes and all, even in the clothes she died in. She weakly and emotionally directs Takuma to the water, and he figures out that Hotaru tried to drown herself. Her body somehow ends up on the opposite end of the shore….in this lake…that has no tide….almost immediately after she went into the water, I guess?

The Hell team tries to wring some answers out of Kikuri, who passes out and wakes up as the full Master of Hell. She reveals that, since Ai went against her penance and returned Takuma to life, the souls of those she loves will remain trapped in hell for all eternity.

The Hell team freaks out at this because they find it entirely unfair for the Master of Hell to renege on their deal just because Ai returned one boy. After 400 years of suffering and doing her work without emotion or breaking the rules (barring the first season finale) they believe she deserves to be free now.

And the Master of Hell agrees….Yeah, we’ll soon find that the previous two statements are really contradictory and I have no idea why. He reveals that Ai’s alive, much to the happiness of Ren and Hone Onna, but much to chagrin of Wanyuudou who reveals that, if she was merely revived in her original body, she’ll age 400 years very quickly and die all over again. Ren tries to punch the Master of Hell, but she easily sends him flying. The Master of Hell leaves and Kikuri is….dead? I guess. Not really, she’s still technically alive, but she’s lying face down on the ground and she’s shown to be fine later, but the Master of Hell is still a spider….I dunno. She’s both the Master of Hell yet she also isn’t. It’s confusing.

Takuma’s seemingly too late to save Hotaru, and this, for some reason, is the straw that breaks the camel’s back in him deciding to say ‘fuck it’ and take his revenge out on the town.

Which is dumb.

Yes, the townsfolk/defense squad specifically are responsible for this, but Hotaru’s the idiot who decided to SEND HIM TO HELL with barely a sentence said in ‘remorse’ under the misguided belief that it would stop a cycle of revenge that has been going on for hundreds of years – even more than that if you just want to put the cards on the table and say humanity’s a species of monsters who have been doing horrible things since the dawn of time.

Takuma barely knows Hotaru, either. They’ve spent about a full day, collectively, together. She was still a friend, yeah, and he should certainly mourn her, but being so upset about her “death” specifically, that’s what finally makes Takuma snap and go for the bloodshed?

To continue the comparison with Ai and Sentarou, they were cousins. He was basically her only friend for her entire life. They were close friends, family and even kinda, squickily, romantic interests. It’s a lot more believable and impacting when he betrayed her than when Hotaru did it.

He’s still got his father, too, even if he is in a coma, so it’s not like he has no one left. And he was just granted a pass from Hell Girl – he actually got a break for a change; a break no one else before him has ever gotten.

Though, honestly, I’m not gonna rag on him too much for finally snapping. The kid has been through so much these past few months, I’m surprised he hasn’t already just gone on a killing spree throughout town.

Takuma heads home to presumably exact revenge, and Ai weakly attempts to follow him in order to stop him from making the same mistake she did.

 

Side note: It starts snowing about four different times over the course of the finale act. I wouldn’t mention it if not for the fact that the character take note of it each time, so it seems really odd.

 

Before we get to that, however, we have to put more characters through the wringer. Let’s spin the wheel of torment!

Ah, look at that! It landed on ‘All of the Hell Team.’ Yup, it’s their turn now. What’s their special little slice of hell? Once Ai is revived, they find that she doesn’t recognize them at all. As much as they love her, as much as she’s done for them, all they can do is sit back and try to protect her from afar, knowing she doesn’t remember any of them (But this is something else that’s contradictory because, later, she does remember them….) Also, considering her time as Hell Girl is, supposedly, up, she’ll never be with them again.

Back with Takuma, he…for some reason, soaks his house in gasoline and aims to burn it down? What? What will that accomplish? He does also splash gasoline on the defense squad too (Even though that had to have been improvised considering he didn’t know they were still tailing him. Dude literally just set out to burn his house down.), threatening to burn them all alive, but guess what? It, for some reason, doesn’t work. Takuma is grabbed by one of the squad members and smacked around. He drops the lit lighter into the pool of gasoline, which quickly makes his house go up, but I guess the defense squad was so far away it just didn’t also catch them on fire?

Most ingenious plan, Takuma. Top notch. Just amazing.

I understand that Ai had supernatural powers when she returned from the dead and burned her village to the ground, killing everyone, but still, Takuma, do better.

Don’t come any closer or I’ll burn my house down and leave you all unharmed!

They’re about to just beat Takuma to death in the street, right in front of a burning house, because fuck subtly at this point, I guess.

Ai somehow manages to catch up, shocking the defense squad and concerned she might be ferrying one of them to hell. However, she merely tries to talk them out of what they’re doing and starts to lead Takuma away.

Don’t think we got that happy-ish ending too soon, however, because the apprehensive guy from before, the one who sent Meshiai to hell, is now bonkers. He’s even been trying to scratch the curse mark off of his chest. And now he’s smacking Ai over the head with a shovel, proclaiming that he refuses to be sent to hell.

The whole squad joins in on the vicious beating, aiming to kill her. The Hell Team tries to interfere, but are stopped in their tracks when they realize Ai’s actually smiling at them during her beating, as if she’s finally accepted her fate and punishment for what she had done 400 years ago.

Takuma manages to stop them, however, and we hear Ai’s last words, claiming that, with this act, it’s finally over. She fades into a burst of flower petals and vanishes. Kikuri is shown watching this and crying for some reason. I don’t really know. They’ve been showing the spider and Kikuri separately so I know even less than I thought I did. Maybe Kikuri really is her own person and she was attached to Ai, for whatever reason. Maybe the Master of Hell has a heart? I really can’t say.

Afterwards, we see Kikuri in the ferry passing by the weird thing that was holding the souls of Ai’s parents. It releases them and they pass on to heaven. Kikuri reiterates that it’s all over and thanks Ai for all her hard work as she pokes at a cherry (Ai was sometimes seen eating cherries) in the boat.

In the epilogue, Wanyuudou explains that Meshiai was recording his conversation with Takuma and caught a lot of the stuff the defense squad said on tape too. How they got ahold of the tape considering he was sent to hell and had the recorder on him when he was kidnapped, I don’t know. But it’s just another point in the defense squad’s idiot column because that means they left him untied, not properly secured, with his phone, gun and a running audio recorder. They are the pinnacle of stupidity.

The point is, the recording somehow cleared Takuma of everything once and for all, even though that recording could not have included information on anything useful, being honest. They confirmed that no one believed the stuff about Hell Girl, meaning the lack of curse mark wasn’t proof, and I’m not sure I believe they cleared him of every single disappearance just by also hearing Meshiai’s kidnapping in progress.

Definitely would’ve insinuated the defense squad bastards for their specific crimes, as well as provide good proof of his beating and disappearance, but, not only is Meshiai gone so they can’t really prove he was either actually beaten or kidnapped, but the defense squad goons skipped town and no one has seen them since.

Which is complete bullshit.

Why do they get no comeuppance for their crimes? They framed a young boy for their murders (sending people to hell is basically murder.) They tormented the poor kid day in and day out just to keep their cover. They beat up a detective and kidnapped him. They hunted down and tried to murder two children. They sent Meshiai to hell just for interfering in said murder plan. Them doing so nearly got Hotaru and Takuma killed in a car accident. They beat Takuma up, intended on killing him, then they beat Ai to death in the street.

I know they’re destined to hell once they die anyway, but screw it – I want them to actually pay now…Which, admittedly, is a little ironic because the ending was supposed to be about letting go of vengeance.

However, even that’s a little badly written because what ends the cycle of revenge is the defense squad viciously beating her to death? What? I get that Ai fixing her mistake, stopping the same thing from happening and finally dying was her repentance, but the manner in which it happens is just wrong. The bastards should have been arrested (House on fire, beating a kid to death in the street and still no cops or any neighbors coming out to see what’s up.) and she should have just died of old age like she was going to anyway. Pretty sure speed-aging to 400+ years old and dying that way has to be nearly equally horrific and doesn’t require any cold blooded murder.

Also, apparently, no one believing the Hell Girl excuse also means no one in the town ever tried to use it again? Technically that should just be they were unable to use it…..but….Mmmm more on that in a minute.

After that, the area became a ghost town….somehow. I have absolutely no idea why. The local mall is boarded up and filled with trash, many homes are also abandoned, the streets are littered with garbage, the people left behind seem like flippant assholes and everything there is vacant.

The Hell Team returns to the realm of eternal twilight. Predictably and sadly, they don’t find Ai there. All they find is is a darkened computer and Ai’s grandmother, who is still never explained in the slightest (she’s not actually Ai’s grandma, and I have no clue what her purpose is.) She finally stops spinning string and tells them that Ai says ‘Thank you.’ which is very much appreciated considering they thought she forgot them all for good.

The realm of eternal twilight vanishes and the Hell Team is left in the human world. They decide to go their separate ways for now and just live in the human world for a while.

Back with Takuma, his dad has finally awoken from his coma and is back on two feet, though he’s still recovering. As I’ve mentioned before, though, even with his dad healthy and by his side again, the kid is definitely going to need ridiculous amounts of therapy to realistically lead a normal life again. With all the things he’s witnessed and experienced, I’m surprised he can find it within himself to smile.

They visit Hotaru in the hospital. Apparently, she didn’t drown nor did she freeze to death even though Takuma didn’t immediately call for medical services when he found her, meaning she was probably lying out there in the cold snow, soaking wet, for probably well over an hour or so.

Good job. Pointlessly burning down your house, destroying all of your possessions, financially ruining your family and probably also destroying any mementos of your dead mother while also making an incredibly weak attempt at killing the defense squad that you most likely didn’t even know were following you was way more important than trying to save your friend’s life. (Keep in mind, the laptop was right next to him when he was brought back. He could have alerted emergency services with it.)

Also, this is kinda a bummer ending for Hotaru considering we never see her again. We’re pretty much just lead to believe she’ll be in a vegetative state forever. At least she doesn’t seem to have a curse mark, which makes sense because Ai never held up her end of the bargain. She likely won’t be sent to hell when she passes on, but her brother’s still dead (and I think she might be an orphan considering the only other person we ever see at her home is her brother.)

I know Hotaru was a massive idiot in the end and a bit of a bitch, and don’t try to convince me she knew Ai would turn the boat around and all that would happen to end Hell Link and redeem Takuma – there’s no way, incoming pun, in hell she knew that would happen in the slightest, but she didn’t deserve this.

So, everything’s…I guess as good as we can get on this show. It’s a very mixed bag….

Until….

Until…..

Un….

…..til…..

Takuma and his dad walk down the hall of the hospital as they’re leaving Hotaru’s room. The girl they’re passing opens her phone, looks at a message…..

A bright red message….

….and it says her request has been accepted.

It’s signed….

Jigoku Shoujo.

Look, I know that anyone working on horror seems to be under this belief that all endings to anything horror need to end in an implication that the ‘killer’ so to speak, is still alive and the story continues, but this ending completely ruins everything they just showed us.

“Twix, calm down. It’s probably a new Hell Girl that the Master of Hell wrangled up. Sure, there’s a new cycle of revenge out there, but Ai’s story has been told. She’s done. She’s moved on. She’s in a better place now.” ~Some person reading this maybe, though I’m probably projecting.

Yes, that is EXACTLY what I thought when I first watched this way back when.

Until, however, the third season of Hell Girl, Three Vessels, came out. Guess who’s Hell Girl…..It’s Ai….again….inexplicably. As if they completely ignored this final, concrete ending to Ai’s story.

What? Did they just like Ai’s character design so much they couldn’t let her go?

Granted, the story of Three Vessels is meant to be Ai training her replacement, which is flimsy in itself because why does she need to train her replacement? Did Ai have anyone train her? Why does the Master of Hell not take this responsibility? What, did Ai come back down from Heaven or wherever to do unpaid training? Did they recall the realm of eternal twilight? Awkward reunions with the Hell Team all around?

Three Vessels is something we’ll definitely have to unpack this October because, honestly, I never finished it because I was so angry that they reconned this ending. I only watched a few episodes when it first aired and I never went back because I was just that bummed. And, from what I read online, I didn’t miss out on much and the ending is…..rrgh. But, again, let’s cross that bridge this October.

————————-

So, what of this finale, eh? In my opinion, there’s something here that could’ve really been good, but it was so sloppily written it’s hard to really like it. Many of the decisions made, even taking panic and despair into consideration, were nonsensical and harmful, and I don’t believe about 90% of that epilogue.

A lot of it was just….washed away. The horrible townsfolk who shunned, hated, feared and framed Takuma while also Hell Girling each other like it was going out of style? All left town without so much as a slap on the wrist. The murderous asshole defense squad? No one ever saw them again. All of the accusations over Takuma’s head and all of the ‘devil’s child’ crap? No one believes the Hell Girl stuff, but that being the only evidence to clear his name apparently fixes it all. His dad wakes up and is okay, which is probably the most believable thing. And don’t worry about everything Takuma’s family owned burning to the ground and all of Takuma’s certain mental trauma – everything’s magically good for him.

And even given all of that hand-waving, it’s not okay. Hell Link still exists, and someone’s using it right next to Takuma. For all we know, the finger-pointing and devil’s child stuff could start right back up again, no matter if the original townsfolk have all collectively abandoned the place. His town’s a shithole now, though he needed to move anyway what with the pointlessly burned down house. The people who killed Meshiai got off scot-free. Poor Meshiai is still in hell. And Hotaru, his only friend, is in a coma.

Lest we forget the biggest bummer of all being Ai’s redemption and freedom….apparently never actually happened….

Is it?

I actually like how they went about redeeming her. Last time, she broke the Master of Hell’s rules just to exact her own revenge against Tsugumi and Hajime, who were the last descendants of Sentarou. Even though it was a bummer to see her return to work, it was understandable that she wasn’t ready to be freed yet, even if she had let go of her anger towards Sentarou. That was her first step in actually healing instead of just repenting.

Reflecting her story in Takuma and having Ai break the Master of Hell’s rules once more, but this time for a noble reason, was a fantastic way for her to actually earn her redemption and finally pass on to Heaven (At least, that’s where I assume she went.) But the fact that she had to be viciously beaten to death after she decided to help Takuma was just the wrong choice, in my opinion. Its was completely unnecessary. It’s not even a ‘bitter irony’ kind of deal because, while Ai did originally get hit over the head with a shovel when she died, she was actually killed by being buried alive.

This story as a whole also dragged on a bit too long for my taking. Were you getting sick of my ‘This Kid Can’t Catch a Fucking Break’ gag? Try watching several half-hour installments of it. Not even Ai’s actual backstory, which this is meant to reflect, lasted a fraction as long. It only got one episode in the previous season. Not to mention that, honestly, I feel like Takuma went through way more traumatic events that Ai did.

He’s asking this question to the writers.

Let’s tally up Takuma’s final trauma score, shall we?

– Was shunned by people in town, accused of killing animals and causing destruction.

– Constantly harassed by one guy, who didn’t even have a beef with him specifically.

– Watched his mother be murdered by an arrow to the neck right in his home – the one he still has to live in after that.

– He’s accused of his mother’s murder, and everyone in town believes he did it since he’s ‘the devil’s child.’

– He finds out who actually did it and framed him for it, but can seemingly do nothing about it.

– His father is severely assaulted by the same guy, leaving him in a coma. Takuma bears witness to some of this.

– The perpetrator tries to kill Takuma immediately afterward.

– The perp is sent to hell, and since Takuma’s the only one in the room, he’s accused of making the guy disappear and assaulting his father.

– He’s forced to live alone for months while the entire town continues to shun him and spread awful rumors.

– He finally gets one friend who cares for him no matter what, but then she’s sent to hell the next day.

– People start using Hell Girl in excess and then framing Takuma for their deeds, while also continuing to perpetuate the idea that Takuma’s a devil’s child, making him even more shunned, hated and feared across town.

– Some bitch purposely waits until her target is close to Takuma before pulling the string and sending him to hell, making Takuma look exponentially worse.

– Has a detective seemingly believe his innocence, and when he’s able to provide some modicum of proof, he’s brutally beaten and kidnapped, right in front of Takuma’s door, to keep him quiet.

– Has Hotaru believe he’s at least innocent, and later believing in Hell Girl, only to have her be whisked away to the realm of eternal twilight while she’s in his house, making him look even WORSE.

– A woman is able to clear Takuma’s name at least in regards to the disappearance of the dude who started this mess, but she dies immediately after giving a statement, and her statement can’t even be corroborated so it doesn’t matter much.

– He’s hunted down like a dog and forced to go on the run.

– He’s captured and nearly murdered in a slow and agonizing manner.

– He’s rescued only to have his rescuer be soon sent to hell.

– He’s involved in a car crash because of it (Admit it – car crashes are terrifying enough without the cause being ‘the driver suddenly vanished without a trace.’)

– Immediately following the crash, his one friend and confidant decides to call Hell Girl on him, pinning everything on him when he has done absolutely nothing.

– And she instantly pulls the string, sending him to hell.

– He’s granted a pardon from hell only to find Hotaru basically dead on the shore, having been driven to suicide.

– He loses his house in a fire that was completely unavoidable and made total sense. No stupidity involved. Nope nope.

– He made a lame impromtu attempt to kill the people who were hunting him, and it didn’t work.

– He got beaten again.

– Ai saves him only to get beaten to death.

– His one friend, Hotaru, even if it’s hard to still call her a friend, remains in a coma forever.

– Bonus: It’s quite possible he’s still on the hook for his mother’s murder at least seeing as how the actual perp was sent to hell and Takuma was the main suspect, only getting away from jail time for the moment because there wasn’t enough solid evidence to charge him. His father wasn’t actually a witness to the murder, and even if he was no one’s really going to believe he’s not just covering for his kid.

All of that spanned out over six episodes (14 and 22-26) when it really could’ve been three or maybe four at most, especially since some things just didn’t need to happen.

At least the stuff with Tsugumi and Hajime was spread out in small chunks over the course of half the first season with really the only final three episodes focusing on their own specific story, which pretty much needed all of those episodes. Here, it was just relentlessly pouring on so much crap on this kid one after the other. And considering one of the main facets of this show is relishing in the assholes getting their comeuppance only to find…no one getting comeuppance after ALL OF THIS is just frustrating. Only innocent people directly suffered through this whole arc, barring Kakinuma, and his suffering is bittersweet because it caused more suffering for Takuma.

I’m not saying kill them or send them to hell, but at least arrest the defense squad, show the other townsfolk paying in some karmic way. Do something! Just saying ‘welp, they all left town.’ and wash your hands of it is just lazy and enraging.

Even if they ended the series here and Ai really never returned, it’s still not all that great of an ending for her. I should’ve teared up, but I didn’t. I should’ve been far happier for Ai than I was. This ending should have been on par with the awesome ending of the first season, but it just fizzles and gives up.

It’s a good ending on paper, but the execution never reached greatness, and that’s just disappointing.

Spoiler alert for the rest of the franchise here, but as far as I know, Ai won’t finally officially leave her post as Hell Girl for good until the end of Fourth Twilight, and as far as I’ve heard, that season is a pile of stinky garbage. As I’ve mentioned, we’ll tackle her fate in Three Vessels this October….End of Spoilers.

I struggled quite a bit with my rating for this final episode. I didn’t dislike, but I also didn’t really like it all that much. There are quite a few things to really like, but just as much stuff that is completely nonsensical or just plain bad.

Since it’s keeping me so firmly in the middle;

Rating: 5/10


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SSBS – Tokyo Mew Mew Episode 52 (FINALE) For the Earth’s Future, We’ll Serve You ~Nya!

Plot: Aoyama’s consciousness has breached Deep Blue’s, and now he has to face what he has done. Even if it wasn’t really him that caused all of this destruction, the guilt weighs heavily on his conscience. Ichigo embraces him and offers comfort by explaining that she always believed in him, and no matter if he blames himself or not, she knew he would return to her.

Their emotional exchange creates a glow between them – it’s the final Mew Aqua. It’s been inside Aoyama all along. He now knows what they must do. They have to use the Mew Aqua to reverse the damage and ease the pain he has caused on the planet and the people.

He embraces Ichigo one more time, but suddenly his consciousness is wrestled away by Deep Blue and he starts strangling Ichigo.

A massive internal conflict between Deep Blue’s desires to kill Ichigo and Aoyama’s desire to protect her at all costs causes Aoyama to thrash about in agony.

It seems like Deep Blue has won the battle for his body, claiming Aoyama has been truly erased for good now, though Ichigo still refuses to believe it even after Deep Blue attacks her again. He tries to use the Mew Aqua within him, but he’s halted yet again. Aoyama rises once more and grapples with Deep Blue’s spirit, ripping them both from his body.

He holds Deep Blue in place and tells Ichigo to deliver the final blow to Deep Blue while they have the chance. Ichigo struggles with this decision since she’s worried that attacking Deep Blue, especially when they’re grappled like this, will cause Aoyama to vanish as well. Aoyama tries to reassure her and pleads with her to believe in him.

Deep Blue resists and attacks Ichigo. She’s able to block, but she can’t muster the power to create an attack. Sensing Ichigo’s dilemma, the girls, who are exhausted and laid out on the ground from the Mew Aqua beams, band together and collect as much energy as they can to send to Ichigo.

With the power of her friends surging within her and trusting Aoyama with all her heart, she launches a Ribbon Strawberry Surprise at Deep Blue, who counters with a blast of energy. As the two collide, Deep Blue realizes Aoyama’s plan. He’s going to release the Mew Aqua from his body when he’s hit with the Strawberry Surprise and fix what he’s destroyed. However, he will most likely be killed as a result.

Ichigo’s attack finally breaks through, and Deep Blue’s influence is destroyed. Aoyama happily releases the Mew Aqua within his body, proclaiming his love for Ichigo one last time before he sacrifices himself.

A wondrous rain of colorful lights cascades over the city, repairing the damage, regrowing plant life, healing the Mews and even seemingly bringing Taruto and Pai back to life.

As Aoyama falls into the abyss after expelling the Mew Aqua, Ichigo rushes to his aid and refuses to let him die. With a kiss, she transfers her life energy to him.

The lights fade, and everything falls silent. Ichigo and Aoyama lay on the ground unconscious with their hands intertwined. Aoyama awakens in the rubble, but is devastated to find Ichigo’s lifeless body laying next to him.

The other Mews arrive and grieve over their lost friend. They suddenly lose their transformations and find that they can no longer transform at all. They’re finally regular girls once more.

The girls and Aoyama have little time to process what has happened because the base will soon fall apart, and with Aoyama and the other Mews as normal humans once more, they must figure out a way off the base without plummeting to their deaths.

Kisshu, revived from the Mew Aqua, offers his assistance as a form of repayment for Ichigo saving him. Pai and Taruto, realizing the situation, also rush in to help bring them back down. Kisshu reveals that the tiny bit of Mew Aqua left behind from Aoyama and Deep Blue should be enough to fix their current planet so they can save their species. They say their thanks and teleport the group back down to the ground.

The aliens take hold of the base and ensure that it dissipates without falling. A part of the base turns into a ship that they use to return home.

Shirogane reunites with the girls and learns of Ichigo’s fate. As they all finally take the time out to properly grieve, Aoyama kisses Ichigo one last time.

Surprisingly, Ichigo suddenly glows and floats in the air. She loses her cat ears and tail, and her red data animal disappears from her body. She awakens from her slumber and can now spend the rest of her life by Aoyama’s side as a normal girl.

Some time later, the lives of the former Mews have returned to normal, barring the massive forest across the city people are still trying to deal with.

The girls all coincidentally wander to the now-closed cafe for a walk down memory lane. As they enjoy some nostalgia, Shirogane and Akasaka appear from the shadows and explain that they’re just in time – a new enemy has appeared and Tokyo Mew Mew is needed to take them down right now!

Understandably confused, Shirogane points out that their Mew marks have all reappeared and their powers have returned. Apparently, their loss of powers was just a temporary side effect from the Mew Aqua exposure. While the girls are disappointed that their normal girl lives have once again been interrupted, they happily don their Mew gear once more and head off to save the world.

—————————

– I mentioned how the previous episodes have gotten quite the animation hike thanks to them being the finale episodes, but this episode is all over the place in quality. For the most part, the scenes are moderate, but then you have beautiful shots like the Mews on the ground before they transfer their power and then you have ick shots like this.

It’s like they were playing Hot Potato with the budget throughout the entire final episode.

– I thought they specifically said the final Mew Aqua was in the flying base. Or was the Mew Aqua within Deep Aoyama Knight the final FINAL Mew Aqua?

And if there was Mew Aqua inside Aoyama this whole time, why did it never glow when he and Ichigo had so many tender and emotional moments?

– Awwww they had Zakuro’s wolf ears twitch!

– I don’t know why Ichigo’s suddenly out of energy now besides making an excuse for the girls to transfer their power to her, but I won’t complain. It’s better than just letting them rot on the ground and do nothing.

– It’s kinda funny that, technically, Aoyama was the biggest hero in the end.

….Wait, okay, it’s not funny. Especially when coupled with the whole ‘the aliens got to do way more impressive/memorable stuff than the Mews’ thing from the previous episode.

I’m sorry, it’s just, you’d think the girls would get the most memorable/awesome/emotional things to do during the finale of a magical girl show, but almost all of it is the dudes. Not saying take those moments away from aforementioned dudes, but there’s room for everyone to have their big moment in the sun.

Yes, Ichigo gave her life to save Aoyama, but….did she? We never really get confirmation that she died. You’d think if she was dead, she’d have de-transformed, considering they de-transform when they’re exhausted, but that doesn’t happen until Aoyama kisses her awake. For all we know she was just unconscious for a long time and no one bothered to check her pulse.

And, even if she did give her life to save Aoyama, Aoyama still seemed to have saved her life right back, so, the scale is in Aoyama’s favor.

– Beautiful rainbow light show after Aoyama’s sacrifice, though. Not many ‘magical’ shows really give off such a magical vibe as this moment. It’s just so pretty.

– I don’t think Mint’s VA gives nearly enough oomph to that ‘Ichigo!’ yell to warrant the echo-y visual effect.

– I never understood how the tiny bit of Mew Aqua left behind was enough to fix the planet the aliens currently inhabit. If that were true this whole time, why did they even need to do all of this? The instant they got their hands on some Mew Aqua, their mission should have been complete. Were they really that intent on reclaiming a planet that had already been destroyed naturally once before and one they’d have to destroy again and rebuild from the ground up that they’d go through so much trouble for it?

– Part of the base just happened to be a spaceship? What? Also where’s the spaceship they came here on?

– Soooo….as I mentioned, was Ichigo ever dead or is normal human Aoyama magical? How did Ichigo ‘come back to life’? You can’t say Aoyama has more Mew Aqua in him because Kisshu took the last bit and Aoyama didn’t glow at all.

– Ah let’s treasure our one last bit of Ichigo favoritism – why was Ichigo the only one where we saw her animal leaving her and running off? Guess it fits considering we never saw the animals for the other girls fusing with them at the start either…

– What is up with Shirogane’s face here? Either his eyes are closed or his eyes are missing.

– Wow, that kinda sucks. The Mews save the world and all of humanity, and now people are complaining about them because they made a huge forest across the city that is making everything inconvenient….I mean, realistically, yes, that’d be a massive problem to suddenly have a forest covering a huge part of the city, but it’s just sad that everyone’s focusing on how they created a problem and not that they, ya know, saved the world.

– This sequel bait never made any sense to me. They all found that they couldn’t transform anymore and we even visually saw Ichigo’s cat leave her body. Yet, for some reason, the girls have their powers again. Akasaka says it was just temporary as a result of the Mew Aqua explosion, but that also makes no sense.

Since when does exposure to Mew Aqua kill their powers? It’s supposed to make them more powerful. Hell, the only reason the girls were able to transform again after losing so much energy the first time around is because Shirogane exposed them to Mew Aqua. If that is true, why was there such a delay between the Mew Aqua explosion and when the Mews all de-transformed? Why was there such a gap between when the other Mews de-transformed and when Ichigo did? Why did we see Ichigo’s cat leave her if it was just lying dormant or something?

Not to mention that, if you ask me, it kinda tarnishes the ending. The girls fought enough. They just want to be normal. It’s cool that they’re still ready and raring to go save the world from this vague ‘new enemy’ Shirogane doesn’t even bother telling the girls about before he sends them off, but I was content with the idea of the girls just living a peaceful life after all of that. Will they ever be able to live normal lives?

Why sequel bait and then follow that up with a title card that says ‘The End’ too?

I haven’t yet read the final volume of the manga, so maybe it was just following suit, but seems kinda weird is all. I know the manga has a sequel, but this kind of ending doesn’t properly lead into that story, does it?

– Oh hold the phone. Apparently we weren’t quite done with the Ichigo favoritism because, one last time, they have to have a transformation mashup and, OF COURSE, Ichigo’s the only one who has her transformation full out. The music even changes when it gets to hers. You honestly, legitimately, really couldn’t be bothered to squeeze in an extra handful of seconds worth of runtime to let every girl have their full transformation at the very last scene? Are you that intent on rustling my jimmies, Tokyo Mew Mew? I’m trying really hard to be pleasant.

——————————-

It’s been one hell of a journey, hasn’t it? Ups, downs, all-arounds. It was pretty fun going through this series again – yes, even if I raged and ranted my way through several episodes. I mean no ill-will towards this series, honestly. I have fun watching it even when it’s illogical or the annoying running issues keep popping up. I wouldn’t have watched this series so many times if I hated it or didn’t enjoy myself while watching it.

It’s just that those disappointments that tend to get to me above all, like the utter neglect of the other Mews and the Ichigo favoritism, didn’t need to happen. They were beyond easily fixable. Not to mention that after watching this series numerous times and knowing how shafted the girls get the whole way through makes me a little saltier each time. But I’m quite certain you’re done listening to me jabber on about that, so let’s just move on to my thoughts on the final episode.

It was very much….okay. I hate saying that because I really wanted to sing the finale’s praises after a handful of really good episodes building up to it, but the finale just doesn’t stand up as well as the previous few episodes. The emotional impacts didn’t hit me as much, the action wasn’t on the same level and they even made the mind-boggling decision to make the final episode, of all things, have very inconsistent animation quality. I’m glad they saved the money for the better finale episodes, and the episode only has a few scenes that look really blech-y, but it’s still just weird to have such noticeable quality shifts in the penultimate episode.

The finale does have its moments, such as the reunion between Aoyama and Ichigo, Aoyama sacrificing himself to restore the earth and lives that were lost at his hand, the really beautiful rainbow light show, and Ichigo…’sacrificing-ish’ herself to save Aoyama, but the rest is a mess of convenient coincidences that neatly tie up literally everything and somehow manages to feel rushed. Everything is either explained away by ‘Mew Aqua did it’ or fixed by the Mew Aqua, and you can’t do that. It’s just lazy.

I was also disappointed that we didn’t get more time with the aliens before they left. No touching reunion between Taruto and Pudding at least? I wanted to see a better sendoff than them literally only thanking Ichigo for saving them before leaving. And even barring the obvious annoyance with that, Aoyama’s technically the one who saved them….

And then their final scene is…somehow sensing that Ichigo’s okay while they’re in deep space?

In regards to action, I was kinda bummed that all this Mew Aqua was around but we didn’t get any cool new attack or technique or transformation or anything as a final hurrah. They didn’t even bring the Mew Aqua Rod back out.

Finally, I may be in the minority of this, but I didn’t really want to see them taking up the mantle of the Mews again at the end. Can’t they just live in peace? Shouldn’t Shirogane and Akasaka be able to move on with their lives?

Even this sudden turnaround was so ridiculously convenient. The Mews, who haven’t seen each other in weeks or months, all ended up at the cafe at the same time somehow (I don’t think their powers lead them there. If that were true, the other girls would never have need to have been found in the beginning of the series) and Shirogane and Akasaka just happen to be waiting for them with a new assignment to fight a new vague enemy right then. And Shirogane and Akasaka are not in the least bit guilty about this when they promised they could return to being normal girls after the alien threat was eliminated?

Again, it’s cool that they’re fine with returning to superherodom, but I’m just a bit disappointed that they’ll seemingly never see an end to the fighting.

But, at the end of the day, the series finale is very much okay. It’s fine. It’s not topping any ‘Best finale’ lists of mine, but it’s certainly not approaching any worst lists either.

And with this I finally close out this Shoujo Step-By-Step that has technically been going on for seven years. I wish I was kidding, but apparently that’s my abysmal consistency in completing these series. I first did the Sub/Dub Comparison for the first episode of Tokyo Mew Mew/Mew Mew Power, which acts as the start of this review series, back on a different website in June 02, 2013 (Fitting that I’m also ending in June, damn near on the seventh anniversary no less.) I am such a terrible blogger. Lol

But, hey, I’m still not done with this franchise. I still have to complete the AniManga Clash and the review of Tokyo Mew Mew A La Mode. Not to mention that there’s a new manga out, though I’m not sure if it’s finished or available in English yet.

I really hope you’ve enjoyed my reviews on this series. I’ve certainly had fun writing about it and talking about it with all of you. Thank you for being patient with me through the rough spots and enjoying the good moments alongside me. See ya around, nya~!


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