AVAHS – He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special Review

Plot: Adam and Adora are finally able to celebrate their birthday together for the first time. As festivities get set up, Adam and Man-At-Arms launch a SkySpy drone airplane to keep an eye on Skeletor. Orko accidentally hitches a ride on the plane and ends up on earth where he meets two children who teach him about Christmas. When Man-At-Arms teleports Orko back to Eternia, the kids get brought back with him and they teach everyone about the magic of Christmas.

Meanwhile, Skeletor, Hordak and Horde Prime aim to kidnap the kids to bring a stop the goodness and love of Christmas.

Breakdown: I never watched much He-Man when I was a kid. It came on right around when GI Joe did (a little before it, I think) but I only watched it here and there. I never really got into it.

I never watched a single episode of She-Ra because I don’t think they ever aired it on any channel I regularly watched. If they did, I just never noticed or watched.

Both are on my to-watch list of old shows that bring shame to my cartoon reviewer name for having not watched alongside Transformers and Thundercats.

Although, from what little I caught, I did immediately love Skeletor. There’s just something about that bonehead that I get endless joy from.

Speaking of joy, I do remember catching this Christmas special back in the day on Cartoon Network for whatever reason. And even though I didn’t think much of it back then, I got a strange amount of enjoyment from it this time around. Maybe I’m in great need of some cheesy-ass 80’s fun, maybe this is too goofy and nonsensical for me to care about nitpicking it to hell and back or maybe it’s legitimately good.

Who knows?

….No, seriously. Who knows? Because I’m getting so many mixed messages by the fans. Some are calling it one of the worst Christmas specials ever made, and as one reviewer put it, the second worst Christmas special behind the Star Wars Christmas Special (fucking ouch) and others just enjoy it as being some nostalgic cheesy fun. (Also, one reviewer on IMDB complained that the special, and I quote, “lacks the masculinity of the great show.” *snort*)

The Christmas parts are just as corny as you’d expect, and the action is pretty decent. However, the one thing I definitely remembered from watching this as a kid was Skeletor basically being forcibly taken over by the Christmas spirit, bonding with a robo-puppy and saving the kids from his boss. I got so giddy when that happened.

Is it objectively a mess? Yes. Was that song in the middle vomit-worthy? Oh yes. No doubt about that. Does that make it any less enjoyable? To me, no. I can see how some might be bothered enough to just switch it off, but I had legit fun with it. And this is coming from someone who nitpicks to a point of concern. Sometimes, things are just stupid enough to be so much fun that I don’t care, and bonus points come when it’s in a Christmas special. Maybe He-Man/She-Ra fans would argue, but eh.

……I did freak the hell out when I realized She-Ra’s horse could talk though. I dunno why I recoiled so much at that.


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AVAHS – Christmas in Tattertown (1988) Review

Plot: Debbie loved playing with her stuffed dog, Dog, and her doll Miss Muffet. One day, Dog, Muffet and Debbie were sucked through a mysterious book into a strange place called Tattertown where ‘junk’ comes to life. This place has never known Christmas, so Debbie decides to bring the magic of Christmas to them. Muffet, however, is taking advantage of her newfound life to be evil and wreck everything good.

Breakdown: Ah Ralph Bakshi. The guy definitely has his own flair and was basically the father of adult animation, but I really never enjoyed much for his work outside of Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures. Respect the hell out of him, but I don’t vibe much with his work usually. I don’t really care for his casual affiliation with John K much either, but I’m not sure of his current status with him, so I’ll leave that irk on the backburner.

Christmas in Tattertown was a pitch pilot for Nickelodeon back in 1988 for a series that would have been called Tattertown, but the series wasn’t picked up.

…..I can kinda see why.

(Although, let me be transparent here. According to the Wiki, the real reason Tattertown didn’t get picked up was supposedly because of the heat he got for the infamous ‘cocaine’ scene in Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures which aired when Tattertown was on the table. Considering the tone and more adult-ish style of this short, I can imagine they were worried he’d do something similar in the future of that show, even though Bakshi vehemently denied that that was the intention of the shot, even citing concerns for his own young daughter and his strong disdain for drugs.)

The animation is great for a late 80’s production, especially for a pitch pilot where poor animation is entirely reasonable and understandable. It’s very bouncy, particularly the ones based on older cartoons, and pretty fluid, even if some of the lines vanish and the frames jut around every now and then. In typical Bakshi fashion, the art ranges from perfectly fine to weird to what the hell is this even?

The sound design is….to be expected. The voice acting is passable at best and “must’ve accidentally replaced my ear buds with power drills again” at worst. The lip syncing is also quite rough, but I guess I’ll blame the pilot-ness there. The sound effects are basically passable, but the special is kinda quiet – again, understandable with a pilot.

As for the story, though….ech. Can you even say there’s a story here? Debbie finds out no one in Tattertown has never heard of Christmas, even though, as Debbie herself points out, with all the junk in town it’s unlikely that they’ve never learned what Christmas is until now. A bunch of this stuff would have to come from Christmas or be Christmas themed.

Actually, this special reminds me a lot of Spongebob’s first Christmas special, Christmas Who? though it’s more understandable that a bunch of undersea creatures don’t know of Christmas. And in both specials, Santa randomly appears at the end, meaning he visits the place but has never brought presents there until they randomly learned of the holiday. Pretty shitty practice, Santa.

After that, Debbie just tries to make Christmas for the Tattertown residents and keeps complaining that they’re not doing it right. She comes off as bratty fairly often, which, I guess she’s supposed to anyway for reasons I’ll get to in a second. Even when they are trying to do things right, like cutting down a Christmas tree, she complains. A little lumberjack toy was trying to chop down their sentient Christmas tree (who is also Jewish. I found that kinda funny.) and while it’s fine for her to stop him from doing that, of course, she tells him that Christmas isn’t about chopping down trees or presents, it’s about being kind and putting an end to strife for just one day. Everyone tears up at her speech, and then the lumberjack tries to chop down the tree anyway and Debbie smashes him….killing him? He’s never seen again.

Merry Christmas?

Kinda ruins your kindness and joy sentiment when you immediately murder someone. I get that that was the point, maybe a dark joke, but that adds to the confusion of the narrative here. Is this meant to be a real Christmas special or is it meant to be a skewed take on Christmas specials?

No one gets the true meaning of Christmas until Debbie plays a record of “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby. Everyone suddenly gets it and becomes immersed in the holiday somehow. Either his dulcet tones are magical or this is a lazy resolution. Seriously, Debbie’s big speech about kindness and good will doesn’t click with them but a song about how nice it is to have snow on Christmas does? Actually, it’s not even about the snow, really – it’s about nostalgia for childhood Christmases when you’d go out and have fun in the snow. Do they even get snow in Tattertown?

Meanwhile, Muffet, who has become evil 11 seconds after becoming sentient because Debbie was basically Elmyra if she was more into dolls than animals, is plotting to ruin Christmas.

She’s basically just an annoyance. She’s kinda funny when dealing with her minions, but her voice is awful. I also don’t understand a single molecule that is the scene where she desperately wants to eat the final slice of ‘tobacco pie’ which is literally a pie made out of tobacco with cigarettes and a cigar sticking out. I wanted to puke just seeing that thing.

And then a stove eats it instead and shits out ashes……Or maybe peed them out, because they came out the front….

She rallies an army and tries to take down everyone celebrating Christmas, but it literally backfires. One part I laughed out loud at was when her fighter planes thought Muffet was telling them to attack each other. It’s said in a Goofy-esque voice and the other guy praises her idea and they just start kamikaze-ing each other. It’s pretty funny.

In the end, Muffet is thrown in jail, gets a bunch of presents, but Debbie finds her and reclaims her as her precious doll, which is basically hell for Muffet.

Overall, this short is okay. It garnered a few yucks (and a couple actual yucks) and the loudness and chaos is tolerable, sometimes legitimately funny. As a Christmas special, it kinda sucks. They do aim for the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ and everything, and I do love how Harvey, the little old-fashioned style puppy dog, is so enamored with the idea, but it definitely doesn’t have much in the way of actual Christmas spirit. They pretty much just collect Christmas stuff, Debbie complains and then they mistake Muffet’s attack for a Christmas celebration, get all happy about it, but Debbie still complains because that’s not the ‘right’ way to celebrate Christmas, and then…Bing Crosby randomly saves the day.

Unless you’re a Bakshi fan in a Christmassy mood or a big fan of old animation, I don’t really see a reason to recommend this. There are better Bakshi works and better Christmas specials to check out.


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AVAHS – Nestor the Long Eared Christmas Donkey (Rankin/Bass) (1977) Review

Plot: A little donkey named Nestor was always endlessly ridiculed for his incredibly long ears. He faced many hardships throughout his life, but one fateful night in a little town named Bethlehem would turn him into a Christmas hero.

Breakdown: Okay, look, I know what you’re going to say. We’re all thinking it. And as far as I’m concerned, yes, this is a Christian-ized Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. They’re not even remotely subtle about it. The song on which this special is derived from even makes direct references to Rudolph, and the song feels like it was originally written to be an off-shoot of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Nestor Lyrics: “Everyone knows about Rudolph
Our fleet-footed friend from the north
Who lights Santa’s way through the darkness
As he drives his sleigh back and forth
But there’s someone else we should mention
If we want the whole story told
He carried the first gift of Christmas
More precious than diamonds or gold”

Rudolph Lyrics: “You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen
Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?”

Summary: “You know these other reindeer, and they’re cool and all, but do you know of someone even cooler than they were? Here, let me tell you the story.”

Nestor: “Nestor was a donkey who seldom laughed or played
‘Cause no one even used him in the stable where he stayed
And all the camels teased him, the other donkeys too
They said, look at little Nestor, there’s nothin’ he can do.”
Rudolph: “All of the other reindeer
Used to laugh and call him names
They never let poor Rudolph
Join in any reindeer games.”

Summary: “A physical deformity made them the laughing stock of the town, and they were completely ostracized from the other animals.”

Nestor: “Look at little Nestor, his ears hang to his knees
When he looks at his reflection, ears are all he sees
Nestor’s heart was broken and his eyes were full of tears
If only there was somethin’ he could do about his ears.”

Rudolph: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Had a very shiny nose
And if you ever saw it
You would even say it glows.”

Summary: “Dude looks weird.”

Nestor: “One dark night two strangers gave Nestor a surprise
They chose him from all others for they loved his gentle eyes
A man was called by Joseph, Mary was his bride
She needed help to Bethlehem and Nestor’s back to ride

They travelled through the desert but hadn’t gone too far
When winter clouds no longer let them see their guiding star
But Nestor learned a secret as he listened to the breeze
And the angels gave directions to the ears that touched his knees

And so it was that Nestor found the manger where they stayed
Where kings and wise men bowed before the baby where he lay
Mary bore our Saviour and Nestor brought them there
A gift of love from God above for all the world to share”

Rudolph: “Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say
“Rudolph, with your nose so bright
Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?””

Summary: “Deformity came in handy. Saved Christmas. Cool beans. Also, Nestor’s song is clearly way longer at this point.”

Nestor: “Though, Rudolph, I just love you, I know you’d want it said
Nestor’s ears are lovely as a reindeer’s nose is red
So children, if you’re happy when you trim your Christmas trees
You might thank a little donkey whose ears hung to his knees.

Look at little Nestor, his ears hang to his knees
They shouted as they praised him and his friends were all so pleased
Nestor was so happy and his eyes held no more tears
Now all the world knows Nestor for his laughter and his ears”

Rudolph: “Then how the reindeer loved him
As they shouted out with glee
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
You’ll go down in history””

Summary: “Golly you’re sure swell, Rudolph/Nestor. We love you now that your physical oddity proved useful to us.”

Now, being COMPLETELY fair, the song was co-written Gene Autry, who wrote the original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer song, even though it’s not mentioned anywhere in his very long Wiki page. Also, while he is given top billing in the song credit in the special, probably for the sake of name recognition, every entry I can find about this song lists Don Pfrimmer and Dave Burgess in the writing credits before Autry, so I kinda feel like he didn’t have much to do with the writing of the song and was moreso consulted about it since it was so similar to Rudolph and had references to Rudolph in the song. I don’t have any proof of that, though, so take that with a grain of salt.

Even if he wrote the song, it’s hard to defend this as not being a Christian Rudolph story, even if the bookends still take place at the North Pole and all the Santa stuff is still canon.

I hate to ding them for copying something else too, but the whole ‘huge ears made me a laughingstock’ thing was also done in Rudolph’s Shiny New Year, which came out one year before Nestor.

But hey, I can give this special something. It’s more grounded than Rudolph was, and…..dear god it is depressing.

I mean, yeah, of course it has a happy ending, but uh…Let me just go through the story real quick.

Spieltoe, Santa’s donkey, watches as Santa flies away on the night of Christmas eve, with Rudolph heading the sleigh. Spieltoe shows the audience the stables, which house him and the reindeer. In the stables is a nativity scene which, as Spieltoe points out, displays an inaccurate representation of Nestor because it doesn’t have long ears.

He starts singing the story of Nestor, and one of the elves comes over to replace the donkey figure with a more long-eared one. Cool. I mean…ya know….Jesus and Mary (why is Joseph not here? The figures behind her are the three wise men.) are still being depicted as white people, but you make sure that donkey has accurate ear length.

We flashback to Nestor as we start the opening credits and…Uh….it certainly sets the stage for the depressing aspect I mentioned. Here’s the entire credits sequence.

Nestor walks out, trips on his ears, we keep cutting back to the other animals, who just think it’s the funniest thing, Nestor legit CRIES, spends a while being sad on the ground, and then walks over to his mother, which you’d think would be the one nice spot in this entire opening, but just you wait, readers. Just you wait. Did I mention the music blaring over this is very upbeat?

A long, long time ago, somewhere in….pbbtt this area.

Under the rule of the rising Roman empire, Nestor lived on a modest little farm owned by Olaf, an almost comically designed asshole. He denies Nestor dinner because he has difficultly working on the farm due to his long ears constantly tripping him up. And, of course, one of the other farm animals has to chime in and say there’s nothing he can do (though, this is part of the song.)

Olaf feeds Nestor’s mother because she ‘earns her keep’ and she decides to share her meal with Nestor to help keep him fed.

You guys starting to see why this is Rudolph only with the depressing factor turned up? Rudolph being made fun of sucked, yeah, but at least he wasn’t starved. At least he lived in a nice place. At least his parents didn’t have to suffer to make sure he stayed alive.

But let’s take a break from that depressing scene to head to a different depressing scene. Spieltoe explains how hard Nestor has had it his whole life because his long ears made him clumsy and everyone mocked them.

The next verse of the song plays here, though there’s one difference. Instead of saying “When he looks at his reflection, ears are all he sees” they say “They whispered as they mocked him, but he heard every sound.” Yes, Nestor gets absolutely no peace. He hears every insult and comment all of these jackasses (pun intended) make about him. He can’t turn his ears off. He has to cope with the constant torment.

But don’t worry, Nestor. If Rudolph’s Shiny New Year taught me anything, it’s that no one ever laughs AT someone’s strange physical attributes. They’re just filled with so much joy when they see it that they can’t help but burst out laughing. They’re secretly just being pals and you’re misinterpreting their laughter (and terrible comments and shunning).

Honestly, though, the song is pretty nicely done.

Cut to later, during a harsh winter storm, the animals of the farm are all celebrating the winter solstice by partying and giving gifts. Nestor’s mom gives him some old stockings to wear on his ears to keep them warm. Even the farm animals are, for some reason, being very nice to Nestor today. One donkey even apologizes for making fun of him and gives him a kiss on the cheek. Uhhh….How and why? You can’t have characters established as being complete jerks to Nestor every day of his life suddenly shift to being super nice to him and giving him a kiss on the cheek just because it’s a holiday. Oh, by the way, the one who gave him a kiss on the cheek, I’m pretty sure that’s the same donkey who made the “He can’t do anything.” comment earlier.

It’s not unheard of for bad guys to suddenly turn good-ish in holiday specials or anything, but this situation is such a drastic and quick turnaround for no reason that it feels pretty lazy. (Unless they ARE playing off of the “Laughing at people for their physical differences isn’t a bad thing – they’re just really happy and stuff” thing from Shiny New Year, in which case I think I need to be thankful I stocked up on aspirin.)

Especially considering we get an all too familiar foreboding line;

Nestor: “This is the best day ever! I’ll never forget it!”

Things sure are going great for Nestor….completely out of the blue. I certainly believe things will stay good for him.

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So things go bad.

An imperial Roman soldier barges into the stables demanding donkeys for the emperor. They snatch a bunch of them, including Nestor, and pay off Olaf. Nestor tries to run back to his mother, but the soldier stops him by grabbing his ears. The stockings come off and reveal his true ears. The soldier accuses Olaf of trying to sell him ‘misfit’ donkeys. Olaf tries to just give Nestor away for free, but the soldier is so insulted that he takes back all of the money, knocks Olaf down and takes the donkeys without paying.

By the way, the foley in this special is really weird. Either the sound effects aren’t there at all, what is there sounds like it doesn’t belong or the effect is delayed. Also, I can’t be certain, but I’m 95% sure those pieces of silver are nickels.

The soldier heads off, referring to his new donkeys as ‘slaves,’ whipping them and laughing maniacally. He is a bad guy. Also, he never shows up again so…..guess those donkeys are screwed.

Olaf is so pissed about Nestor’s ears screwing him over again that he chucks Nestor across the room and kicks him off of the farm, proclaiming he doesn’t care if he freezes in the storm.

*snort* Look at Nestor’s face when he’s being held up as Olaf threatens to throw him out of the stables. He should be scared out of his mind, but his expression comes off like he gives less than zero fucks.

Nestor is literally thrown out into the snowy tundra. Meanwhile, Nestor’s mother fights her way out of the stables so she can find him. Once they reunite, she tells him that, no matter what, he has to be brave.

They find a slightly sheltered spot, and Nestor’s mother digs a spot down to the ground so Nestor won’t be lying in snow. He lays on the frozen grass, and Nestor’s mother shields his body from the snow and cold by laying on top of him.

So because this is a Christmas special and we have to get going with the happy happy joy joy, Nestor enjoys a beautiful sunrise with his mother followed by some delightful breakfast foods and they plan on going into town together to see if some other nice farmer will take them in.

Hold on, I’m getting word that I’m a sarcastic git and Nestor’s mother actually frickin’ died.

Story at 11.

Or right now. Whatever.

What the hell?! What the actual hell? What kind of Christmas special is this?

I don’t recall any part of the song including something like;

“Nestor’s dear mother froze to death out in the snow.
Covered her son’s body with her own, now, don’tcha know?
Who knows how long she survived. Four hours? Maybe five.
If her son didn’t have long ears, she’d still be alive.”

They immediately cut to Nestor crying as he looks at the makeshift grave he made for his mother, which, considering the frozen ground, is not even a grave. She’s just covered in snow. But if you think about this even more, it’s HORRIFYING. Nestor woke up to his dead mother lying on his back. He had to wiggle out of his dead mother’s frozen embrace and deal with the fact that his mother froze to death trying to save his life. And considering he couldn’t even give her a proper burial, I hope to god he never returns to this spot once spring rolls around….

Merry Christmas, by the way.

Nestor survives for a while on his own, steadily making his way south, when he meets a Cherub named Tilly who has come to lead him to the plot—I mean, who explains that she’s meant to inspire animals as angels inspire humans. He’s meant for something very important – to save a life like his mother saved him. They must go to Bethlehem, which is a long and arduous journey.

Nestor: “Aw…I don’t want to go THAT far.”

Tilly: *a light shines down from the sky on her head* “Of course you do. You know….”

Nestor: *that same light shines on Nestor’s head* “Ohhhhhh….”

Tilly: “Mmmhmm. Come on now.”

Did….did….God just brainwash a donkey?

Nestor and Tilly go on a nice friendly montage where the accompanying song talks about not laughing at others to make them cry as they pass a bunch of animals who laugh at Nestor’s ears. This is a pretty good montage, and I think it’s really cute that Tilly holds Nestor’s ears through so much of it. However, the lyrics kinda fall flat at a point. A bear laughs at Nestor’s ears, but then the bear freaks out because he saw a spider and Nestor laughs at him. Then the bear happily waved as he walked away? So….laughing at someone is okay as long as the laughing person gets humiliated too?

Nestor and Tilly head off on a boat with Nestor’s ears acting as a sail and Tilly smacks two dolphins who were laughing at Nestor’s ears. Okay, Tilly hasn’t hit anyone until now, and the one time she does it’s when Nestor is using his ears as a sail, which is legitimately funny? Come on.

They finally reach a village and Tilly just straight up dips back to Heaven, telling Nestor to wait in town until it’s the right time to head to Bethlehem…….So of course he immediately gets captured by a jackass merchant (Like my clever wordplay? I’m so witty.) who tosses him in a pen with other animals who promptly laugh at his ears. So, uh, Tilly, you sure you don’t want to pop back down and help him out?…No?….Okie dokles.

Second verse, same as the first – no one wants to buy Nestor, the other animals keep viciously mocking him, he cries about it a lot and it’s sad.

Merry. Christmas.

Oh yeah, this merchant dude was pointed out by another reviewer as having a ‘penis-nose’ and uh….

I feel like I need to censor this….

Also, phallic imagery aside, this guy’s design just feels racist in general….Especially when it’s right beside White Joseph and Whiter Mary.

Okay, now we’re finally getting to greener pastures. Joseph and Mary show up looking for a donkey to purchase to take them to Bethlehem. They chose Nestor because he had kind eyes. The merchant can’t believe that they want to buy him, so he decides to pull a con and claims Nestor’s super expensive because long ears are popular these days.

Mary and Joseph can’t afford it and are about to leave, but Joseph stops her because they need a donkey in order to travel considering she’s with child. Mary then glows with the same warm light that came from heaven before.

Merchant: *gazes at glowing Mary* “Ooohhh…take him. A gift. He’s yours.”

Okay, God keeps Jedi Mind Tricking people and it’s freaking me out.

And before anyone questions if this is mind control;

Mary: “Oh thank you, sir. God bless you.”

Merchant: “Oh….what made me do that?”

*waves hand* This is not the donkey you’re looking for.

They head out, but quickly run into a strong sandstorm that obscures their view of the star they were following.

Suddenly, a familiar holy light appears in the sky. Tilly tells Nestor that he has the ability to do something no one else can right now. He has to listen to the sounds only he can hear and lead Mary and Joseph out of the storm. As Tilly vanishes, Nestor tearfully sees his mother in the sky also telling him to listen to the angels and follow them.

Nestor wraps his ears around Mary, which I found to be adorable, and listens to the sound of the angels singing to guide his way through the storm.

Eventually, the sandstorm passes and the three find themselves on the outskirts of Bethlehem. All the inns were full, so Nestor, remembering the warmth of a stable when he was a baby, brought Mary and Joseph to a nearby manger for Mary to birth Jesus.

Nestor decides to leave them………….for…..some…..reason. Seriously, I have no clue why. He just up and leaves right after Jesus is born. He finally gets adopted by a kind couple who appreciate him and don’t mock him for his ears and he just leaves when their son is born. Can you imagine being Jesus’s donkey? That’s be awesome…..At least as awesome as a donkey’s life can get.

But no.

No.

Instead……

…..he returns to Olaf.

Rudolph really didn’t have a choice when it came to returning to the North Pole. He was trying to help Santa and he kinda lives there. However, it’s completely out of left field for Nestor to return to Olaf’s farm. They’re cheering him on when he returns, but how would they know he did anything worthy of praise?

And even if they somehow magically did know what he did, screw you all. Screw each and every one of you. Especially you, Olaf. If it wasn’t for you, Nestor’s mom would still be alive.

“And his friends all gathered ‘round.”

FRIENDS” Some friends you are. Now that Nestor’s a biblical hero, you suddenly treat him like royalty. I also don’t care at all about that turnaround they had before the Roman soldier came. If that was their redemption, it was entirely unearned. You can’t just have them being complete jerks to Nestor, constantly making him cry, and then immediately go “Oh but then they were nice to him on this one holiday, so they’re good guys now.” Even if you could say that about the animals, you can’t say that about Olaf because he kicked Nestor out after the party.

Remember how I mentioned that the Rankin/Bass Rudolph special fixed a problem the song had in that the special had the reindeer making amends with Rudolph before his LED nose became useful in a pinch? So it didn’t seem like they only like him now because his physical deformity had benefit?

They didn’t do that here.

Instead, Nestor’s returning to his abuser in his dilapidated farm that’s probably going to go under soon because Olaf said he was screwed without all of those young donkeys and the money from their sale – and Nestor will be living there without his mother, the one Olaf indirectly got killed.

He went there instead of staying with JESUS.

Back in the present, the song concludes as all of elves, reindeer, including Rudolph, Santa, Mrs. Claus and Spieltoe dance around the nativity scene to celebrate Nestor, who I know realize is probably long since dead, and how he saved Christmas and lived happy ever after.

The End.

——————————————–

I do vaguely remember watching this special when I was a kid once or twice, and I liked it fine. Even now I find it to be alright. Nestor is quite adorable, the animation is okay, though the voice acting and foley are a little hokey, the music is nice and catchy, and the story is….decent, although I can poke way too many holes in it.

I can forgive most of them, it is a Rankin/Bass production afterall, barring the very ending and one note I can’t keep quiet about anymore…..why did Nestor’s mother have to die?

The reason I bring this up is because they make off like Nestor’s mother had to die in order for Nestor to fulfill his purpose. They specifically say “the lord works in mysterious ways” when she dies, and I really don’t like that phrase. I get that it’s just a go-to phrase religious people have for explaining terrible things in an effort to maybe comfort people, but I just can’t get into that. I can’t leave something so terrible with a phase so flippant. Nestor could have been with his mother this whole time and nothing would have changed. She could have been Joseph’s donkey or something. Why did she need to die for him to do what he was destined to do?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful that she was willing to sacrifice herself for her son, but I’d like some actual meaning in her death in regards to the story.

Another phrase said a couple of times is that Nestor needs to do this so he can save someone as his mother saved him. Sooo….he wouldn’t have been compelled to save a life unless his mother sacrificed herself for him? I sincerely doubt that.

The only realistic way I can figure it is that the writers wanted you to feel as bad as possible for Nestor, so they killed the only character who loved him.

I mean, it worked. I felt so bad for that poor kid I wanted to reach through the screen to hug him and take him home with me. He doesn’t catch an actual break until about twenty minutes into this 24 minute long special….

It was just wave after wave of terrible things frosted in the mocking of strangers. Topped off with a cherry of Nestor leaving caring owners and baby Jesus to return to a poor abusive asshole and a farm full of animals who probably traumatized him with their ceaseless laughter and insults. In that respect, this special is fairly miserable, no matter how adorable Nestor is. In fact, Nestor being so adorable makes the miserable feeling worse.

In the end, everything is all well and good. Nestor is happy, people celebrate his role in Jesus’ birth and we all learn not to mock people unless it has some role in a cosmic plan.

It’s not like the special has bad messages or anything (except the ‘returning to your abuser’ thing, but I don’t think kids would infer that much) and it’s an alright Christmas special for both religious and secular households. I did enjoy seeing Santa, the reindeer and the elves dancing around the nativity scene. It’s not saying either Rudolph or Nestor is ‘better’ or the more important Christmas hero. They’re just humble little animals who helped save Christmas. And they’re both adorable.

Once more, though in a non-sarcastic manner this time, Merry Christmas! 🙂


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I Played Corpse Party: Book of Shadows and Had Opinions About it

Note: I am not a video game reviewer, so forgive my terrible format and analysis as a game. Thank you.

Recently, I reviewed the anime Corpse Party: Tortured Souls for Animating Halloween, and it got me wanting to play some of the other Corpse Party games since I really hadn’t played any of them besides the first game and basically a retooled version of the first game…again. A good place to start from there appeared to be Corpse Party: Book of Shadows since that was a direct sequel to the original (though, again, remade again) game.

So I played through the whole thing and I’m uhm…..Kinda…confused.

The game isn’t really a sequel so much as it is a pre-mid-sequel. And that’s strange because the cutscene that plays each time you load the game is directly following the events of the first game (in one of the Wrong Ends – 6*8, which leads the Kisaragi students through a time loop of the events of Heavenly Host.) Naomi is near catatonic and her mother is distraught because she keeps talking about her ‘imaginary’ friend, Seiko, when Seiko’s existence was wiped from the earth after dying in Heavenly Host. It’s basically a longer version of what we got at the end of Tortured Souls.

Each episode covers a different story. No episode intersects with another nor is there any cohesion in creating an overall plot. It’s just a lot of different stories bundled together.

Episode One: Seal

The first episode does pickup where the opening cutscene left off, kinda. Naomi did suffer from a breakdown due to the events of the first game and is desperately trying to cope with the fact that her best friend and love interest, Seiko, is not only dead, but her existence was wiped from the world. However, that’s just a blip at the beginning. The real story is about the time loop the characters are currently in.

The Wrong End that they’re basing this game off of involves several of the characters surviving the events of Heavenly Host and leaving, but, tragically, they find themselves caught in a time loop. They are damned to suffer the events of Heavenly Host over and over for all eternity.

How do you build a story out of this type of ending?

Well….You don’t, really.

Much of the story shows what happened with Naomi and Seiko before the events of the first game. They enjoyed their first ever sleepover together and bonded more. Naomi notices a strange bruise forming on Seiko’s neck, but they don’t think much of it.

Then, when they get to school the following day, the events of the first game start to transpire. The one difference is that Satoshi starts freaking out when Ayumi brings up the Sachiko Ever After ritual. He panics and says it’s a horrible idea because, somehow, Satoshi is the only one who has memories of Heavenly Host right now. He explains that they’re in a time loop, but doesn’t actually convey any important information or try to destroy the paper doll or anything. Instead, he just flips and resigns himself to doing the ritual so he can at least help try to do something in Heavenly Host.

Satoshi, by the way, never gets his own story in this game. He gets a minor role in episode three and that’s the end of his role in this game entirely.

Naomi has been experiencing some instances of deja vu, but she’s not bothered enough by it to listen to Satoshi’s words, thus they’re all set to Heavenly Host.

Once everything is set into motion, Naomi starts getting more of her memories back, and she remembers that Seiko died via hanging in the girls’ bathroom. She becomes determined to save Seiko from that fate.

I became quite intrigued when this occurred because I thought the game would be about redoing the events but the survivors regain their memories and try to save the ones who canonically died in the first game.

That is not what happened.

Well, okay, that’s not true.

That’s kinda what happens, but in a horrible, horrible way.

Naomi DOES save Seiko from being hanged, but she forgot one key detail of Seiko’s death in the first game. Naomi was actually Seiko’s killer. Naomi had succumbed to something called the darkening, which is basically a dark influence the school has on its inhabitants over time that worsens with negative thoughts, feelings and witnessing stuff like dead bodies, gore and ghosts. While Naomi was in her darkened state, she hanged Seiko in the bathrooms, but she also completely forgot about it. She later has to face what she had done and make amends with Seiko’s spirit to free herself from the darkening and leave the school.

When Naomi saves Seiko from the noose, Seiko flips out at seeing the girl who tried to kill her and runs off.

Let me back up a tad and explain that, earlier, I had to disable a piano wire trap in order to pass through certain sections of the school. One wire could not be cut, and it was a neck-height wire on the stairs.

Guess what Seiko runs into.

Yup, she’s instantly beheaded by the piano wire, much to Naomi’s horror. Sachiko explains what this time loop actually is. While it is technically a time loop where everything happens exactly the same, there are some circumstances where the people will regain their memories and try to stop those who died from meeting their ultimate fates. She explains that this is not only pointless – it’s actually ill-advised and horrible for those who died. If these people are saved from what initially killed them, the school will actually devise a way for them to die anyway in a manner that is similar to their initial death but certainly worse.

IE, Seiko originally died via hanging and now she died via beheading, and both involved the mark on her neck.

I’m not sure I agree with that, though, because I think slowly suffocating while hanging and knowing your best friend – the girl you’re in love with – put you there is worse than being quickly beheaded on accident. I get that the latter is bloodier, but still.

The end of the episode is Naomi cradling Seiko’s disembodied head as she mourns the loss of her best friend once more.

What we have established here is, for any episode involving a character who canonically died in the first game, there is no saving them whatsoever. And if they do get ‘saved’ it’s only so they can suffer a worse fate, so why even try? I thought this would be a continuing problem throughout the game, but it really wasn’t – and not for the reasons you might think.

Episode Two: Demise

The aforementioned problem shines brilliantly in this episode as we follow Mayu who was the first to die in the original game. She became a wall sloppy joe via the three children ghosts. Now that the loop is occurring, she has spotty memories of that happening. She has a very foreboding bruise on her stomach that branches outward, and she spends a good chunk of the episode being concerned about it, but tries to ignore it.

This episode did give us a really nice moment between Ayumi and Yoshiki, ending up in the two of them embracing and even falling asleep on each other, so that was really nice, but the niceness ends there.

Also, this is the only episode in which Ayumi and Yoshiki show up (well, technically Ayumi shows up later, but I’ll get to that.) so we don’t learn much else about their stories, which kinda makes sense because they both canonically survived. Also, despite Ayumi’s heightened spiritual powers, neither she nor Yoshiki has any memories of Heavenly Host, so I guess they’d just do pretty much the same things they did before, barring this one part with Mayu since she died long before anyone else came into contact with her.

Mayu and Yoshiki also rescue a girl from another school named Nana, who has similarly foreboding bruises in the forms of straight crisscrossing lines on her thighs, even though, as far as I know, she never died from that. (In the first game, she dies from having her tongue ripped out.)

Nana is in some weird trap involving her being tied to a bust on a desk. The bust is tied to a bucket of sharp items over her head. If she flails too much or if someone tries to save her recklessly, the bucket will fall and she’ll surely die from the wounds. I have no clue why she’s in this trap or who put her in it. I’d assume it was Yoshikazu, but for what purpose? Why not just kill her where she stands like he killed everyone else? Also, her original death couldn’t have been retconned to the bucket thing because then she’d have bruises all over her face, right? I just don’t understand this trap.

Anyway, the bruises get worse the closer a character is to their time of dying. Nana’s get noticeably worse and, when she goes off by herself to try and find her friends – alone, because she’s a dumbass – she gets caught by Yoshikazu and we discover why she has bruises on her thighs – Yoshikazu smashed her legs off with his giant hammer. Not sure if this is canonical either because, despite the certainty that something must’ve happened to her legs in her first death, the bruises were clean lines, which wouldn’t happen if her legs were smashed off.

That’s not even her cause of death anyway. Yes, this really, really awful injury doesn’t kill her, which just makes this death sequence all the more horrific. Mayu is forced to just sit there and watch as Yoshikazu drags Nana away as she’s screaming for help because Mayu knows Nana’s probably as good as dead anyway, and Mayu would never survive trying to go against Yoshikazu. Nana’s actual death scene comes in a different episode.

Seeing Nana get her legs lopped off like that did make Mayu significantly more concerned about her own situation. She dared to check up on her own bruises, which had gotten drastically darker in color. She even started getting one on her face. Mayu starts panicking because she knows what’s coming and is quickly realizing she won’t be able to avoid it.

Now, at this point, I was wondering how the hell you could make Mayu’s death worse. The poor girl was flung into a wall at like 60 MPH and exploded into a mass of unrecognizable guts and gore. How could that be made worse?

Well, Sachiko found a way. Mayu is cornered in the infirmary, a place she should have been avoiding anyway because that’s where the ghosts of the children initially started influencing her before they killed her. Her bruises get so bad that they start bleeding. Sachiko brings in the ghosts of the children to give her a fate worse that her original one, which is being slowly ripped apart by the bare hands of the ghosts.

Yup….yup…that’s definitely worse. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we still play as Mayu as she dies. You know the instant she passes on. It’s pretty heartbreaking.

This episode did a good job in making me care more about Mayu, but she’s still a pretty bland character. She has a love of theater, loves Morishige and is good at covering a wide range of jobs. She’s also very kind and sweet. I appreciate them giving Mayu more of a role in this game since she was pretty much just there to be the first shock death in the original game. You’d think they would’ve done more for her character originally since she was the main reason they did the Sachiko Ever After ritual, but nah.

Episode Three: Encounter

Now we’re into full prequel territory. This episode focuses on Yui Shishido, the teacher of the class that gets sent to Heavenly Host. I believe it’s the day before the events of Corpse Party go down. She’s horrendously sick, and Satoshi, through a lot of convoluted writing, ends up taking care of her in her home since she’s completely out of it. As Yui slumbers, she thinks back to when she was a student in Kisaragi Academy. She had always aspired to be a teacher, and her dream was finally becoming a reality.

She had a crush on a guy named Tsukasa, who became a close friend to her as they neared graduation.

One day, she’s approached by an old woman in the pouring rain who tries to warn her of the dangers of Kisaragi Academy. She told her to not go to school that day and even tried to give her a paper charm to protect her. Yui, ultimately, cannot heed her warnings because she had an important interview at school that day. The woman, who turns out to be Makina Shinozaki, Sachiko’s great aunt, collapses in the rain and Yui is forced to leave her mother and the paramedics to care for Makina as she goes to school. Everything with the interview goes well, but Makina dies while Yui is at school.

Later that night, Yui rushes back to school to retrieve Tsukasa’s special lucky pencil. However, as midnight approaches, she’s reminded of an old ghost story her friends were telling her about, which is the story of Yoshie, Sachiko’s mother. She haunts the school at night, and her friends thought Yoshie might target Yui specifically since she wants to be a teacher and Yoshie was a school nurse.

Sure enough, weird things start happening in the school, and Yui gets targeted by Yoshie’s spirit. With the help of Tsukasa and the spirit of Makina, Yui is able to escape, though she does still experience great pain in her arm after Yoshie tried to crush it. This whole event is played off like it was a dream. They suggest that Yui fell unconscious after getting to the school and just imagined everything that happened, but she still had a severe pain in her arm that couldn’t be explained. In the end, it’s rather sweet because she holds hands with Tsukasa in the light of the sunrise. However, we never learn what became of Tsukasa after they graduated.

Sadly, when Yui wakes up and speaks with Satoshi, we see that she has a big bruise on her arm, which is poking at the fact that her arm was crushed under the cabinet before she died in Heavenly Host. This is the only episode where Yui has a role, so we’re basically left to assume that she’s barreling towards death in the time loop too. Luckily, we don’t have to watch that here.

This is definitely the best episode in the game. I love Yui, and it was nice to see her get a sweet and happy backstory, even if she is destined for a horrible, albeit still noble and the least gratuitous of the bunch, death. I wish she ended up with Tsukasa. He was a sweetheart, and I would’ve liked her to have all the happiness in the world if she was just going to be wiped from existence later.

Episode Four: Purgatory

Focusing on Naho’s friend, Sayaka, it’s basically just a retelling of Naho’s story with lots of filler put into it. Naho is a perfectly normal girl until Kou went to Heavenly Host without her – then she just goes off the deep end, sacrificing her best friend, Sayaka, so she could go after him, and putting up the wrong instructions for the Sachiko Ever After ritual on her blog so more people would wind up in Heavenly Host as ‘samples’ for Kou to study. It’s a complete 180 that comes out of nowhere. Maybe she just snapped because she thought she lost Kou already, but there is seriously nothing properly leading up to this sudden change in behavior. I’d say maybe it was Sachiko’s influence since her presence was following her before this happened, but I can’t be certain. I’ve never seen an instance of darkening outside of Heavenly Host.

After they enter Heavenly Host, it’s just a waiting game until Sayaka dies. I say this not only because Sayaka is canonically dead in the first game, long before the group ever shows up, but also because the very first scene is of her being attacked by Yoshikazu. The rest of the episode is a flashback showing how she reached this point.

The very last scene did make me a little sad for her because that was a terrible way to go out, and Sachiko was a total bitch. Like many others in Heavenly Host, she was starting to die anyway since she spent days wandering around the school with no food or water. In the original game, she dies from succumbing to the darkening. In this game, she nearly does so but is then caught by Yoshikazu and beaten to death with his sledgehammer.

Oh and as some added misery, we witness Nana dying via getting her tongue ripped out. That poor girl can’t catch a break. It was a horrible scene to sit through….

Episode Five: Shangri-La

This episode follows Morishige throughout his time in Heavenly Host. I found this episode to be the most pointless because not only does he pretty much not do anything we don’t already know he was doing, but it doesn’t even follow his story to the end. He never finds out that this ‘beautiful’ ripped apart corpse he finds is Mayu, and he doesn’t even have any bruises on his face to indicate he’s going to smash his face into a window and kill himself in grief over her death and the realization he’s been defiling her corpse this entire time. His last lines are talking about how he’s going to just hide his corpse pictures when he gets back to the regular world instead of deleting them like he was planning to do.

Out of all of the characters who died, he’s the one I most wouldn’t mind seeing die again, but nope.

He also runs into some characters from Byakudan Senior High School, but he doesn’t really affect their story that much, other than freaking them out because he’s so creepy around corpses.

There’s an alternate ending that you have to get by going back once the episode is cleared. This ending shows Yuuya killing Fukuroi and Mitsuki, but that’s pretty much it.

Episode Six: Mire

Okay, here’s where things get a little more confusing. I thought this entire game was following the events of the Wrong End 6*8 (The time loop ending) but apparently that’s wrong. This episode takes place during the events of Wrong End 2*4, wherebasically everyone barring Ayumi either dies or succumbs to the darkening, leaving Ayumi alone and stranded in Heavenly Host because she has no one to do the ritual with. In regards to this episode in particular, this is the ending where both Yuka and Yuuya die – so most of it is stuff you’d already know if you got that ending. I never got that ending, so it was new for me, but if you did get it you’d be simply going through the motions.

We see Yuka after she’s been separated from Satoshi (Which should have been an indicator right there that we weren’t in the time loop because if Satoshi was dumb enough to let Yuka go off on her own again when he clearly has a good chunk of his memories, he’s too dumb to live.) She’s about to be killed by Yuuya, but her kindness causes him to have a breakdown. She then narrowly escapes Sachiko and Yoshikazu, not seeing Sachiko before fleeing due to a blackout.

She then gets shifted to the abandoned bomb shelter area where she comes face to face with Sachiko and decides to be kind to her since she seems to be a nice spirit, not realizing who Sachiko really is. Sachiko asks if Yuka will do anything for her and Yuka, taking a big sisterly type of role, says she will. Then Sachiko starts requesting things from her. She wants her socks because her feet are cold. She wants her shoes because her feet hurt. And she wants her hairpin because her hair keeps getting in her eyes. You’re finally given a decision in whether or not to listen to Sachiko’s requests at this point. You can either tell her she can’t have the hairpin or give it to her. Either way, Yuka dies, but the proper ending is obtained by giving the hairpin to Sachiko, which causes Yuka to start falling under the forces of the darkening. She starts giving Sachiko literally whatever she wants without question, even if she really doesn’t want to.

For example, Sachiko wants Yuka’s hair, and she obtains this by ripping her scalp nearly clean off with her bare hands. Yuka still goes on acting like this is normal, though internally she’s panicking. Sachiko asks for one more thing – her life. Yuka agrees. Yoshikazu then drops by to bludgeon Yuka in the head with his sledgehammer, killing her.

…..So…yeah this episode was also pretty pointless. All it served to do was show us more proof that Yuka is this innocent little kind angel girl before viciously caving in her head with a hammer.

Granted, it did also shows us some of Yuuya’s backstory, which can be summed up in ‘He’s always been a psychopath.’ We get a flashback to Yuuya as a child. The first thing he does of note is viciously beat up another child and laugh about it. Then he’s basically disowned by his family, though his big brother and sister still seem to care about him. Even then, Yuuya’s still a psycho. He kills ‘an animal’ (they never specify what it was) and thinks it’s funny, he gets into a fist fight with his older brother and he just generally acts like an asshole. He eventually started pretending he was a decent guy in order to fit int while secretly not giving a crap about anyone but himself.

He did, however, say he wanted a little brother or sister to see how his older siblings viewed him, which is where Yuka came in.

In this version, Yuuya kinda-ish turns good before he’s murdered by Yoshikazu, but there’s really no redeeming this guy so I didn’t care. Probably a mistake putting this episode right after the one in which, in the secret ending, he viciously stabs two of his friends to death. One of which, he actually gets pissed because she wouldn’t scream for him like he wanted. I know the darkening has some weight here, but you just confirmed he was a psychopathic murderer even before he came to Heavenly Host, so I don’t know what you want from me.

Episode Seven: Tooth

The final episode is a midquel to the first game in which we follow Tohko. I think I saved Naomi in the first game so I never got Tohko’s part. Though, according to what I read, that path just leads to a bad end anyway.

Tohko is one of several people from Byakudan Senior High School who is lost in Heavenly Host at the same time as the Kisaragi group. Yuuya is one of these students, and Tohko has a bit of a crush on him.

The story starts out with a little backstory on how they wound up doing the Sachiko Ever After ritual (though why they included Kai, a guy they all pretty much hate, I’ll never know.) We then skip forward a little bit to a point where Ryousuke has had his leg lopped off by a booby trap. They’re all frantically trying to find him some help before he bleeds out.

Long story short, Kai is an asshole who is the only person I’ve ever seen in Heavenly Host who tried to simply leave (Mayu mentioned trying to jump the fence behind the pool area to see if she could escape, but said she had a bad feeling it would either loop back around or she’d be lost in the darkness forever.) Spoiler Alert: We never really know what happened to him out there, but he comes back in a daze with his knife embedded in his chest. Tomohiro is loyal to Ryousuke to a fault and quickly goes crazy as he tries to deal with the situation. Yuuya is cool as a cucumber because he’s a psychopath, and Emi just kinda reacts to things and screams a lot. Mitsuki and Fukuroi are the only ones separated from them.

After Kai leaves them to go out the door without the others, Yuuya and Tohko return to where Ryousuke is being cared for only to find all of them with sullen faces. Ryousuke has taken a turn for the worse and they don’t believe he’ll make it even if, by some miracle, they do make it out and find help. They rush to get him out anyway, hanging on to a sliver of hope.

Tohko tries to find Mitsuki real quick before they leave since she thought she heard her calling out earlier. After she fails in her quest to find Mitsuki, she returns to the group to find that Ryousuke has passed away from his injuries.

Later, Yuuya is revealed to be full-on nutso as he kicks Ryousuke’s body down the stairs to prove that he’s actually dead to Tomohiro, who is so distraught that he refuses to believe Ryousuke is dead. Tomohiro accidentally breaks his arm by falling down the stairs in an attempt to get to Ryousuke and he flees from Yuuya, who is just standing by in eerie silence. Emi also runs from him, though she seemingly lies to Tohko about what Yuuya did – claiming Yuuya had kicked Tomohiro down the stairs and broke his arm.

Tohko then has to run from Yuuya, not believing that Yuuya did such a terrible thing, even though he also now has Kai’s bloody knife in his hands. She remains in disbelief until Yuuya starts beating her viciously with his fists. She manages to get away, but spits out one of her teeth as a result of the assault.

…..Ugh…..eh…Yuuya finds the tooth….and spends a ridiculous amount of time slowly licking it, chewing on it and finally swallowing it…….Euehgbhghdsfkjhdksajfhdslkfjhsdakfjh. It takes a lot to make me cringe and gag in horror – that did it for me. It was accompanied by gross sound effects and everything. Ugh. Why did he swallow it?! Even for a crazy person, that couldn’t have been pleasant.

Anyway, him eating the tooth is how the game ends.

No. I’m not kidding.

Well, technically, that’s how the game ends.

Before I get to that point, my thoughts on this episode are, it’s very much okay. It was nice to get a little more backstory on the other Byakudan students, but it wasn’t much and the episode just kinda stops. I’d say it’s probably the third best episode behind Encounter and Demise.

However, with this being the end, I do have to say that this game would be insanely confusing if you never played the first game. Hell, I played the first game more than once and I still ended up being confused at some points.

In regards to this being technically the final episode, there is one more episode but it’s not only locked it’s also hidden. The episodes are in a masterlist that you select one by one when you’re starting up the game (Unless you’re starting from a save file) You unlock a new episode with the completion of a previous chapter. When Tooth is done, the list is complete. There are no grayed out episodes to unlock.

However, there is one final episode, Prologue – Blood Drive, that can be revealed and unlocked under two circumstances – either 1) you have to transfer your data from a completed Corpse Party PC game (the re-re-remastered version), which I wasn’t going to do because that would mean completing the entire game again and I’ve done it more than enough on the older versions, or 2) you have to unlock every single ending in this game, which, well, fuck that.

Did I mention that this game is more of a visual novel than it is an actual game? There are hours of text scrolls that you have to go through to get to the options that present these various endings. This wouldn’t be so bad if you knew you had to do this to get the true ending and saved at each option, but I certainly didn’t know that. Hell, I didn’t even know you could save during an option until about two and half episodes in, and I never would have known there was a hidden final episode if I wasn’t reading a Wiki.

Not to mention that some endings are obtained not just through the options but also depend on whether you obtained certain items or did certain things. I know some people are completionists and would do this anyway, but a lot of people would miss out on the true ending either because they didn’t know that episode existed or didn’t want to spend hours upon hours trying to get the endings they missed.

Granted, considering this episode is called Prologue I can imagine Blood Drive would have this be their first episode, but I don’t know yet.

Prologue – Blood Drive

lol i cheetd

Okay I didn’t ‘cheat’ but I did just look up the final episode on Youtube to see what happens.

Even this episode doesn’t follow the storyline they were going for at the start of this game since it is building off the true ending where Naomi, Satoshi, Yuka, Yoshiki and Ayumi all survive, but they’re all still suffering because no one has any memories of those who were lost in Heavenly Host and any evidence they even existed is either gone or distorted (IE, any photos of them that the survivors had on their phones have the faces blacked out.)

Ayumi tells Naomi that she plans on going to the Shinozaki estate, Sachiko and Yoshie’s old house, to see if they can find anything that would help them bring their friends back. Naomi heads there with her, but when they get to the tiny quiet village they find that everyone starts acting very panicky when the Shinozaki estate is brought up. They hitch a ride with some truck driver to the estate, which is pretty far away from the main village, and the road leading there is so bad that it’s a stretch to even call it a road.

When they get as far as the truck driver can take them, they leave the truck, but the driver says he’ll wait for them since he doesn’t want to leave two teenage girls alone here, especially since it’s getting dark.

When they arrive at the estate, they’re shocked to see that the entire building was demolished. Nothing is left save for an old shed that, surprisingly, still has electricity. The shed contains some documents and such but nothing really that helpful to their cause.

It’s now dark out, so they head back to the truck, deciding to come back another time and investigate more then. However, another shock awaits them at the truck – the driver is gone, but the lights are on and the truck is running. They wait around for a bit, but it doesn’t seem like the driver is coming back. They can’t get into the vehicle to warm up and take shelter because it’s locked. They decide to head down the road on foot.

After a long while of walking, they’re devastated to find that they’ve somehow looped around back to the truck, which makes no sense to them because they were heading downhill the entire time. They try again a couple of times, but each time they loop back around to the truck.

At this point, two things are clear – the driver is seriously never coming back, and anyone would’ve just broken a window on the truck to warm up, get some shelter and maybe even just take the truck back down the hill. I mean, considering what’s happening, I can bet anything that even taking the truck would just loop them around, but it’d be smart to try.

Instead, they decide the best course of action is to go back uphill to the barn because there is electricity and some mats to sleep on until morning. Because taking shelter in the creepy abandoned shed previously owned by two murderous ghosts is very smart.

When they arrive, they get a third surprise – the Shinozaki estate is glowing and floating in front of them. Well, I guess if they can have a ghost school a ghost house isn’t to be questioned.

They decide to go in the house, which, despite being a ghost, is still corporeal. Like in Heavenly Host, everything is solid, but many of the items are secured to the floor or tables. We get some interesting background on the Shinozaki family tree. It’s filled with women who are ‘gifted’ as in they have strong spiritual powers that are linked to witchcraft. It seems Ayumi is part of Sachiko’s family afterall, which is why she has her own abilities to sense ghosts and whatnot. Ayumi also remembered her sistertelling her stories about witchcraft in the past which seemingly lines up with what they were reading. However, a weird fact about their family is that males are not born into it. Men typically marry into the family and then they all suddenly die after their child is born. Indeed, Sachiko’s father is not around and all pictures of him have his face blacked out.

They’re terrified to hear foreign footsteps around the house, so they hide in a mysterious small room which houses a creepy necromonicon-esque book – you guessed it, the titular Book of Shadows.

This is the first time the entire game that they’ve mentioned the Book of Shadows. The thing that this game is specifically named after isn’t even mentioned in the game, let alone shown, until the very end, and it’s in an episode that you might not even know exists and/or have to jump through hoops to unlock.

I am at a loss for words.

The Book of Shadows is some flesh-covered ancient tome that is filled with powerful spells. Ayumi is shocked the book is even in Japan let alone the Shinozaki’s ghost house.

Ayumi tries to read the book, but it’s mostly in French with some runes and whatnot peppered throughout. However, some notes on the side, supposedly written by Yoshie, are in Japanese. Ayumi reads for a bit and then, I’m not even kidding here, basically just says to herself “Eh…that’s good enough. Let’s raise the dead.”

And they do just that. They start a ritual to bring their friends back to life. All they need is a pentagram, some candles, three paper dolls to represent the two of them and their intended target and a photo of the deceased followed by a long, long, long spell. They decide to bring back Mayu first. Surprisingly, the spell works, but not really.

Like so many times with hinky witchcraft resurrections, the ‘Mayu’ they brought back isn’t really Mayu. Remember how I said any photos of the people who died in Heavenly Host had their faces blacked out? This Mayu has a blacked out face. She just kept calling for Morishige over and over until she suddenly fell to the ground. Bright red runes start appearing all over Mayu’s body and she pretty much exploded and died again.

Before they can even process what happened, those same runes appear on Ayumi’s body. Saw blades and screwdrivers from the shed start piercing those markings in an effort to kill her.

The paper doll that represented Ayumi is on fire. Believing this to be the cause of the problem, Naomi tries her best to extinguish the fire, but she’s unsuccessful. Naomi’s paper doll starts catching fire next, meaning they’re both sure to die in mere moments. Just then, Ayumi’s sister, Hinoe, bursts in and extinguishes the flames with a special powder, saving them both, even though Ayumi is still badly wounded. (How did she even know they were there?)

Ayumi cries in her sister’s arms, and all seems well and good…..

Until Hinoe’s head explodes.

I don’t know why.

And that’s the actual end of the game, which, like I said, is really a teaser for the following game, Blood Drive.

This was a pretty good episode. And it actually was a, get this, SEQUEL to the original game. Go figure. And no, I don’t count the time loop episodes as being sequels. They didn’t accomplish anything and they took place during the original game, technically.

Don’t get me wrong, the stories they had to tell here were okay for the most part, but besides Yui’s backstory and Mayu’s episode, I don’t feel like I really got much out of playing the game as a whole. There was no cohesion between the episodes, which can be fine but they went a bit too out of whack for my tastes, especially considering they’re building off a game with numerous endings and not sticking to one ending to act as its base. Plus, they ended on a completely random note.

It just baffles me that the one episode you’d think would be necessary to this game is actually hidden and requires a bunch of work to unlock. I’m not really angry at it, I’m just confused. This whole game confuses me.

Gameplay

It’s pretty standard point and click. Each room and hallway is a static screen. Your cursor turns into a reticle, and you enter into a scanning mode. In this mode, you can click on anything interactable and find key items, disable traps, read messages etc. Nearly all of the important items are marked with shining lights, making them even easier to suss out. There are some minor ‘puzzles’ you have to solve in order to move forward, but they’re very easy to figure out. I only got stuck twice, and even then it was just a matter of me not knowing I had to interact with something a second time to get what I needed.

You move through the rooms by bringing up your map via the center mouse button and selecting which room you want to travel to. Some areas are blocked off for whatever reason – locked doors, gaping holes in the floor, booby traps etc. And you either have to wait for a shift to occur to change the dimension in order to pass, or you have to find some way to unlock the door, get across the gap etc.

There were two timed events near the start of the game. I really thought they’d introduce more mechanics like that or increase the time crunch as the game went on, but sadly those were the only ones in the game and no other game mechanics were introduced. You also have an inventory, but it’s more or less pointless besides to show you that you still hold certain items in case you’re restarting after a Wrong End or something.

In addition to quick saves occurring after certain events, you can also save at any time by right-clicking – and I suggest you do this at pretty much any option screen in order to save yourself if you get a Wrong End or to help you along if you want to get every ending.

Final Thoughts

I did enjoy myself while playing this game, but it just seems like a jumbled mess of side stories instead of being a proper sequel to the original game. While some episodes did offer interesting perspectives and fleshed out some of the more minor characters further, I didn’t really care about what was presented to me outside of Yui’s backstory and Mayu’s episode. Most of the characters from Byakudan are pretty boring. Kai is interesting, but he’s also an asshole who really only gets one or two scenes of focus before he’s stabbed. I guess I also liked Fukuroi and Mitsuki, and they got a decent amount of focus, but it wasn’t worth the price of admission, ya know?

I’m also a bit disappointed that this is mostly a visual novel instead of being an RPG like the other games were. I can kinda forgive a lackluster story in a game if the gameplay is fun, but there really isn’t much to the point and click aspect. There are some interesting notes that you can read throughout, but that’s about it. Apparently Blood Drive is in more of an RPG format, so we’ll see how I do there.

Screencaps Courtesy of the Corpse Party Fandom Community.


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AVAHS – Lloyd in Space: Cheery Theerlap, Lloyd! Review (Hanukkah Special!….Kinda!)

AVAHS - LISMTL

Plot: Droimatz is everyone’s favorite holiday. People give gifts, sing songs, eat delicious foods and spread holiday cheer. However, Lloyd’s people celebrates a different holiday this time of year – Theerlap – so he feels awkward around everyone else as they prep for their Droimatz pageant.

In an effort to be respectful of Lloyd’s culture, they offer to have Lloyd put on his version of the Theerlap story for the holiday pageant. Problem is, he barely knows anything about the holiday nor has he ever really celebrated it. When he asks his grandpa about it, he’s extremely disappointed to learn that Theerlap’s origins and customs are boring, so he worries he’ll look foolish at school. He creates an “improved” version of the story for the pageant to liven things up without realizing how disrespectful it is to his culture and his grandpa.

Breakdown: I did it! I found another Hanukkah special!……Kinda!

Yeah, this isn’t directly a Hanukkah special, but it is obviously implying that Droimatz is Christmas and Theerlap is Hanukkah.

It’s also highlighting something that the other Hanukkah specials really haven’t focused on much and that’s the awkward feeling Jewish people, especially kids, might have when everyone around them is celebrating Christmas and they’re not.

Being completely clear, I’m not Jewish, so I won’t speak for any Jewish person’s experiences, but I imagine it’s not terribly uncommon for Jewish people, again, particularly children, to feel this way around the holidays.

Although, considering Lloyd barely knows anything about Theerlap and has seemingly never celebrated it, I do have to wonder why he and his family never just decided to join in on the Droimatz stuff. Even Lloyd’s mother admits that she never much cared about Theerlap and never bothered getting into the tradition because she was rebellious. She doesn’t even know enough about the holiday to tell Lloyd simple things about it like the origin story or what songs they sing – she really doesn’t care even now. So why is Lloyd acting like Droimatz is something he can’t celebrate because his family celebrates a different holiday? It’s not like they can’t celebrate both either. Unlike Hanukkah and Christmas, there’s no conflicting religious basis to consider.

Also, they DO make Theerlap seem significantly goofy in comparison to Hanukkah. The story goes that some guy named Nimrod left the door to the food supply hut, also known as a theerlap, open, which spoiled all of the food except for some gross salty fish cakes. The villagers lived on those cakes for six days until the supply rocket came in with food from the grocery hub.

The end.

They never say that the villagers would have died if the rocket didn’t get there soon or if there was only a small amount of those cakes left to feed the villagers, so feeding them all for six days was very improbable, just that they were inconvenienced to have to eat one type of food for six days. I get that that’s not the point, but I feel like they could have made the effort to make the holiday seem more special and worthy of tradition instead of something so inconsequential.

Kinda makes you want to side with Lloyd in the realm of not wanting to explain Theerlap to a bunch of people jazzed on a holiday that seems pretty identical to Christmas. I always found Hanukkah to be a really interesting holiday with a great history, so this seems a little…I won’t go far as to say offensive because I can’t speak for any Jewish people watching this, but it’s at least iffy.

All of that aside, I did enjoy this episode much more than I did the pilot episode of Lloyd in Space I reviewed way back when. You understand where Lloyd is coming from, but your heart breaks for his poor grandpa who is in the audience watching this utter destruction of a holiday and part of his heritage that means a lot to him. He was SO happy that Lloyd wanted to learn about Theerlap, but Lloyd just crapped all over it.

When Lloyd gets ousted in front of the whole school, during the pageant no less, his grandpa explains that the holiday isn’t about excitement – it’s about remembering and celebrating their ancestors; the people who made future generations like him possible.

Lloyd finally gets it, and they all have a quiet Theerlap celebration at home. Lloyd even offers to read some of the Theerlap story as they enjoy their briny cakes and spend some quality time together.

I found it rather poignant that they zoom out of this shot to show an external shot of the space station and we see all of these Droimatz decorations. Among a sea of decorations focusing on a holiday they don’t celebrate, Lloyd’s family is perfectly content celebrating their culture’s holiday at home with each other because it’s not about the spectacle or excitement, it’s about family.

I think this is a pretty solid ‘Hanukkah’ special that most people would enjoy no matter if you celebrate Droimatz or Theerlap.

Sadly, however, I think this time I am seriously out of animated Hanukkah specials.

Have a Happy Hanukkah everyone!

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No, I still won’t review Eight Crazy Nights. No. Even I have limits.


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AVAHS – Santa’s First Christmas (1992) Review

AVAHS - SFC1

Plot: Santa shares his story about his first Christmas.

Breakdown:

Brain?

Twix’s Brain: “Yes, Twix.”

Today’s review is about the origins of Christmas.

Brain: “Neato bandito.”

And how Santa became, well, Santa.

Brain: “Cool beans.”

Yeah, well, this is just a short cute little kid’s film that is in no way taking itself seriously, so if you could do me a solid and not overthink this, that’d be—frick, you’re already googling things. Stop it!

Brain: “But it’s an interesting topic! Before Santa was a part of things, Christmas was basically Mardi Gras! And the poor would bust into rich people’s houses and demand stuff, and if they didn’t get it, they’d “terrorize” the homeowners, like this was some trick-or-treating raid.”

Brain!

Brain: “People used to get absolutely plastered and the rich were expected to cater to the lower class – Hey, one of these things stuck around through the years. I’ll give you a hint, they ain’t spiking eggnog with an increased minimum wage. Am I right? Up high!”

Brain!

Brain: “Hey, did you know Christmas was banned in the United States by puritans for a while because they didn’t like that people were giving and receiving gifts? I need a reverse alarm for how backwards that is.”

That’s fascinating, Brain, but we’re reviewing an early 90’s Christmas cartoon about a young Santa, and I’d really like to get through this without writing a thesis.

Brain: “Oh well, I’m sorry, Twix. I thought I was helping. So, uh, how’s the story start?”

Okay, first, Christmas, specifically, not any holiday that preceded it but landed on the same day, is already a holiday even though they’re not acknowledging the Jesus part and Santa isn’t a thing yet. Also, they act like Christmas is a boring-ass day where nothing happens, so you kinda wonder why it’s even a holiday.

Brain: “…….Okie dokie.”

And Santa makes these gifts out of rocks and sticks. He saves an elf from a frozen lake, gives her a stick, and then she brings him to the North Pole where the other elves show him their workshop where they make furniture.

Brain: “Wha, wait, they walked to the North Pole? Where does Santa live? Didn’t Saint Nicholas live in Asia Minor?”

That’s not important, Brain. What’s important is that Santa is super generous and wants to make Christmas special so he destroys all of the furniture and turns them into toys.

Brain: “He….celebrates the act of giving by destroying their hard work?”

Well….I….He….Moving on. He makes a sleigh out of firewood, but finds that his red dog can’t pull it very well. So he meets a flying reindeer – these reindeer, by the way, fly by flapping their antlers.

Brain: “……”

……

Brain: “You know, it’s theorized that the flying reindeer part of the Santa mythos was created due to a magic mushroom fueled drug trip, so I’ll leave that alone.”

I am really regretting using up my drug jokes on Pac-Man.

Brain: “I know, right?”

The reindeer, Romuald–

Brain: “Romuald?!”

Romuald…

Brain: “There was a real Romuald – a saint even.”

Oh really? Any connection to reindeer or Christmas?

Brain: “…..Mmmmmm……No.”

………Anyhoo, Romuald wouldn’t listen to Santa because he was a kid so Santa wore a fake beard and tricked Romuald into thinking he was an adult.

Brain: “That work–”

Before you say anything, they joke about how stupid it is that that worked.

Later, the elves work their butts off trying to make enough toys to hand out at Christmas. They calculate that they’ll have to work non-stop in order to make the deadline. This is played off like a joke, but it’s also kinda horrifying. These elves were just chill carpenters a few days ago and now they’re working themselves to the bone for nothing in return.

Santa dons his signature red suit and heads out on his first delivery run. The bottom of his sleigh ends up getting a massive hole in it due to Santa and Romuald’s poor flying skills, so many of the gifts end up falling out and conveniently fall into the chimneys of the houses below.

They patch the hole and deliver presents ‘round the clock’ and we see a clock spinning several days worth of hours, even though they said they have to deliver all of the presents by morning.

Brain: “Where do his parents think he is?”

Dunno. We never see them beyond the first couple of scenes. And Santa’s never seen delivering presents to his own house. As far as this story is concerned, he’s whisked away to the North Pole and never returns home.

Brain: “That’s upsetting.”

it sure is. They accidentally skew about 8000 miles off course, so Santa does the rational thing and plungers a steering wheel to Romuald’s head.

Brain: “….He….plungers….”

Yup.

Brain: “….a steering wheel….”

Yup.

Brain: “To Romuald’s head….”

Yup.

Brain: “For what purpose?”

To make him go faster, of course.

Brain:

Using Romuald’s new brain implant, they manage to reach all of the houses in the world, including a bunch of animals, except one – a little cottage in Mexico. They’re all out of gifts for the little boy inside, so they scrape off the snow from the sleigh and make a snowman outside the little boy’s window.

Brain: “Heh….wait…so everyone else gets gifts, including the animals, but this little Mexican boy gets a snowman made of old crusty sleigh snow that will inevitably melt in about 20 minutes?

Mmm, yeah, that’s about it.

Brain: “Didn’t they make an igloo for a dog in the arctic out of about twenty different individual gifts?”

Sure did!

Brain: “Couldn’t THAT have been made out of snow?”

Yeah, but the specialness about the little boy’s gift was that it was a snowman in Mexico – a place where it never snows.

Brain: “That is very wrong.”

Okay, fine. It’s an awful gift, but it’s the thought that counts.

Adult Santa: “So that’s the story of how I made Christmas what it is today.”

Funny, you wouldn’t think he’d be nimble enough to suck his own di–

Brain: “Did you know that one of the origin stories of Saint Nicholas involves him staying at an inn where three little boys were murdered by the innkeeper? They were dismembered and stuffed in the basement in barrels, but then Nicholas sensed what he had done and brought the victims back to life.”

?!?!?!

Brain: “Also, early Christians wanted to keep the gift-delivery aspect of the story, so they claimed baby Jesus did it, but in order to make sure they could literally scare kids into being good all year (and to explain how a baby can deliver all those gifts), they designed ‘scary’ huge sidekicks that were based on Saint Nicholas – Ru-Klaus, or Rough Nicholas, Aschenklas, or Ashy Nicholas, and Pelznickel, or Furry Nicholas……don’t read too much into that last name.”

…….Uh…yeah, the point is you can’t really thank anyone for the way that Christmas is celebrated today because it has such a vast history that underwent many changes, and it’s not universal across the numerous different countries and cultures that celebrate it. If we can blame humanity for ruining Christmas with its commercialism, I think we can also thank humanity as a whole for making it the loving and warm holiday that many people still cherish it as. No holiday can truly be ruined as long as you celebrate it the way you want to, and that type of thinking spreads to other people and makes the season that much more peaceful and happy.

Brain: “Amen.”

Santa and the others nap after their journey and we close out on the story, which, by the way, has been conveyed to us through The Office-style documentary shots of Adult Santa and pals telling the story. Also, this wasn’t really Santa’s first Christmas since he had about six or seven Christmases before he started delivering gifts.

The end.

Brain: “So you hated this special, eh?”

Nope. I thought it was really good. It had a good sense of humor, it was unique enough and it drove home the true meaning of Christmas without being overly cheesy.

Brain: “But it was really stupid.”

You know what’s stupid? Spending a five page review talking to your own brain.

Brain: “……..Fair enough.”

Yes there are some things they just get bafflingly wrong, and it’s really simple stuff too, so they didn’t really have any excuse for it, but it’s mostly just goofy and silly instead of enragingly dumb. It’s a light-hearted and fun Christmas story. You won’t bust a gut laughing, but you will probably enjoy it well enough.

Brain: “Huh, well I sure learned something today.”

You should, you read about fifteen different articles.

Brain: “No, I mean that you can enjoy something kinda cheap and goofy as long as the heart behind it is genuine.”

Of course you know that, because I know that. Because….you’re….my brain.

Brain: “…..Oh my god. You weren’t out of drug jokes, you liar! HOW MANY MAGIC MUSHROOMS DID YOU GOBBLE, MARIO?!”

I didn’t do anything! But I’m going to stop talking to you anyway just in case the pink elephants  turn into reindeer.

Brain: “Good call. I need to stock up on aspirin for your Nestor: The Long-Earred Christmas Donkey review anyway. Peace out.”

Yeah, see ya—wait what?……Damn, Brain left before I could make a Pinky and Brain reference. That’s relevant now and everything! *huff* Now how do I end the review?

That’ll do.


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AVAHS – Ed, Edd and Eddy: Fa-La-La-La-Ed Review

AVAHS - EEE FLLLE

Plot: Eddy concocts a scheme to take everyone’s money on Piggy Bank Day, but Ed counters his scheme with some Christmas cheer!……In July.

Breakdown: You guys remember that insanely short-lived Christmas in July block on Cartoon network where they would just play a bunch of Christmas specials in July? Well this…..

….Was not one of them….somehow.

I saw someone comment on this episode saying it was made for the block, but when I looked at the scheduling for the block (all four years that it ran – inconsistently even) the only Ed, Edd and Eddy entry that appeared was their other Christmas special, Jingle, Jingle, Jangle.

Yup. A Christmas special literally set in July and Cartoon Network never used it for their Christmas in July block.

As for the episode itself, it’s pretty okay. It’s got some decent jokes in there, and it managed to be a fairly good Christmas special. It can work both around the holidays and in summer because it has a nice holiday story in there while also kinda fulfilling a longing many people have when they’re at that harrowing middlepoint to Christmas. It’s been six months since Christmas so you barely have any leftover Christmas cheer, but you’re so far away from the next one that it seems like forever until it comes.

Ed proves that it doesn’t matter what time of year it is – you can always spread some Christmas cheer by giving to others.

Eddy didn’t learn any big lesson in the end, which is fine because who expects him to? Kinda wish Double-D got one of the jawbreakers in the end, though.


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AVAHS – Bump in the Night: Twas the Night Before Bumpy Review

AVAHS - TTNBB

Plot: Bumpy aims to steal Santa’s bag of toys directly from the North Pole. Will he succeed in his plot or will he learn the true meaning of Christmas? …Or both?

Breakdown: Why?….Why did I waste all of my drug jokes on the Pac-Man Christmas special?

I really shouldn’t have watched this movie with a splitting headache.

This movie is so weird. That’s not to say the movie is bad or anything, in fact it’s pretty decent, but it’s really weird.

I’m not a fan of claymation. Nothing but the utmost respect to the animators, claymation/stop motion is one of the biggest bitches in animation and I take my hat off to anyone who chooses that as their style of choice, but I always found it to be very creepy. Even in beloved Christmas specials like Rudolph, the stop motion tends to come off as creepy much of the time.

It’s even worse here because the designs are meant to look weird and off-kilter since they’re monsters. They do achieve their goal of looking strange, but I never want to see a glob of goo try ‘tap dancing’ again. It was squicky and made me feel dirty somehow.

The claymation, done by Danger Productions, is pretty good, though. Everything is brought to life relatively well, even though you can tell that they definitely had budgetary constraints and had to edit their hearts out to refrain from using claymation wherever they could.

In addition to claymation, we also have a decent amount of paper cutout-ish traditional animation that’s done in that very 90’s-esque manner, if that makes any sense. Somehow, that tends to be even creepier than the claymation, and I was very happy that they didn’t use it that much.

AVAHS - TTNBB2

This story is about Bumpy, a little green monster, wanting to steal Santa’s bag of toys. He tries to do so every year when Santa visits their home, but fails, so he’s decided that, this year, he’ll visit the North Pole and steal the bag directly from his home. He recruits his friend, aforementioned glob of goo named Squish, to help him on his journey with the promise of giving him feet from Santa’s bag. Because Santa always has disembodied feet in his bag. Oh did I say Santa? I meant a serial killer. Squish wants feet so he can tap dance at the Christmas pageant.

On their journey, they meet a Latino worm who wants to conquer a bush. There was no way I could describe that without it sounding like a euphemism. His name is Juaquin and he’s voiced by Cheech Marin because this is a Latino character in the 90s – of course he’s voiced by Cheech Marin.

In exchange for the promise of bionic arms, Juaquin offers to dig them a tunnel to the North Pole, but he accidentally stops them in front of Stonehenge, where he is promptly crushed to death by a falling stone slab. Merry Christmas!

In comes a hummingbird named Doris who acts like an old lady. She wants a jet pack from Santa’s bag, so she agrees to point them in the right direction by telling them to follow the north star. Bumpy and Squish want to hitch a ride on her so they mold Squish into a cheeseburger, put him on a fishing line and use him to lure Doris into flying towards the north star……

AVAHS - TTNBB3

Anyhoo, when they reach the North Pole, we get to the really amusing stuff. No super cutesy Christmas cheer here. It’s an army of militant snowmen and elves acting as army generals to protect Santa’s bag of toys.

I did a double take here because the designs of the elves looked damn near identical to the design of Amanda in those claymation segments of The Amanda Show. They weren’t done by the same people (The Amanda’s Show’s claymation was done by Tom Megalis) but the resemblance was uncanny.

AVAHS - TTNBB4

In addition to the military part being funny in itself, the scene suddenly turns into an Indiana Jones parody when Bumpy reaches the bag. There’s also a funny joke with Santa’s sleigh stalling once he makes it outside.

Bumpy steals Santa’s sleigh, and Squish snags a ride right before he leaves. Then the elves try to shoot down the sleigh with ground-to-air candy cane missiles. In the commotion, the bag rips and sends presents down to each house. Doris gets her jet pack, and Juaquin reveals himself to be not dead and gets a pair of bionic arms.

They crash into the pageant, sending gifts flying to the other monsters/toys/dolls of their….town? I never really caught onto what this place is called. All of the presents are now claimed except one, which Bumpy tries to claim for himself, but is guilted into giving it to Squish because he promised him feet but didn’t deliver. In the box is a noisemaker meant to sound like tap-dancing, giving Squish the ability to tap dance even without feet.

Realizing that delivering all of the presents has made everyone happy, Bumpy learns the true meaning of Christmas is to give not receive.

A running subplot has been Molly, who is a kinda Frankenstein’d mishmash of a rag doll, trying to direct the holiday pageant in Squish’s stead. I guess it’s supposed to be funny because she’s meant to be a quiet and timid character that provides comfort, and now she’s basically chewing everyone’s heads off at every turn, but it’s mostly annoying. She does go back to her normal self in the end, but she spent most of the movie being a jerk. Everyone gives her a hug (which is what she wished for this Christmas) and forgives her for being a nightmare. Before that, though, she forces Bumpy to reprise his Christmas song from earlier, now changed lyrically to show that he’s learned his lesson over the course of his journey, so they can conclude the pageant.

AVAHS - TTNBB5

Speaking of music, that is probably the oddest aspect of this whole movie. Quite randomly, we’ll get song interludes that are really just classic Christmas carols with different lyrics. The lyrics are never really well-written, and they’re pretty sloppy. It’s like most of the songs were written in the car ride to the studio that day. Many of the songs don’t even rhyme, and it’s difficult to understand what they’re saying half the time.

These musical numbers are even lazier in their animation. 95% of it isn’t new animation. Instead, these scenes are made up of clips from earlier in the movie, sometimes just a scene prior, or they’re completely random clips from the TV show from which this movie originated, Bump in the Night. I’ve never seen the original show before and I didn’t know the movie did come from a series before watching it, so these clips really confused the hell out of me. Even now that I do know of the series, I’m still very confused because the clips have absolutely nothing to do with the lyrics.

Why did they even have these musical numbers in there if obviously didn’t care about them in the slightest? Just to pad time to a reasonable movie length?

The best song in the lot is a redone version of “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” made to be a military marching song for the snowmen in the North Pole. That one worked quite well. It rhymed, I could understand the lyrics, the song placement was good, and I got into the moment easily.

I will also give them props for having their own version of “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” because finding animated Hanukkah stuff is pretty rare.

AVAHS - TTNBB7

Overall, while it is a weird little movie, it did grow on me as it went on. It has a good sense of humor, it was a somewhat unique Christmas story, and it even had a good moral that you don’t typically see in Christmas movies for kids – You don’t need Santa to bring anything. You can exchange gifts with your family and friends and enjoy the act of giving while also receiving. Although, it is a bit of a double-edged sword in the message department because Bumpy stole Santa’s bag of toys and his sleigh (and hijacked his reindeer) but he didn’t really suffer any consequences for it besides losing all of his loot. He even got a present in the end from the closet monster.

The voice acting was very good with the talents of Jim Cummings as Bumpy and Destructo (the rule-enforcing robot who sounds like Duke Nukem for some reason) Rob Paulsen as Squish, and Gail Matthius as Molly.

Not sure I’ll ever visit the TV series, but I did have fun with the Christmas special, and if you’re in the market for some unique and off-color Christmas fun I suggest you seek it out too.


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Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon | Episode 9: Meifuku the Meioju Review (Spoilers!)

Yashahimeep9

Plot: Moroha is sent on another bounty mission to kill the Peril, Konton. However, Towa and Setsuna refuse to go with her because…*shrug* they don’t have to.

Once Moroha leaves, Jyubei reveals that he still has no information for Towa on the Dream Butterfly because he only gets results when someone issues a bounty. Consequently, the amount to set the bounty for information on the Dream Butterfly is the same as the reward amount on the bounty Moroha has, so they decide to catch up and join her.

When they arrive, they have a brief scrap with Konton, but find that his armor is impenetrable. They’re saved by a child Meioju, or turtle demon, named Meifuku. He has been trying to kill Konton for ten years, ever since his father died at Konton’s hands. Konton turned a piece of his incredibly hard shell into powerful armor, and Meifuku’s father can’t rest until it’s retrieved and reunited with the rest of his corpse. However, Meifuku, despite being 50 years old now, isn’t powerful enough to defeat Konton on his own.

The girls decide to help him out since it’s in line with their mission anyway. Meifuku uses his shell to become armor for Towa and the girls start the battle. Setsuna and Moroha are tossed aside rather easily, but Towa lasts longer due to Meifuku’s shell. It’s mostly a stalemate because Towa can’t pierce Konton’s armor and Konton can’t pierce Meifuku’s either.

In addition, the shell no longer has demon energy, so Towa can’t absorb it to give herself an opening to attack.

This fact gives Towa an idea, however. Using her blade, she transfers her demon energy into Meifuku’s father’s shell, awakening his latent spirit. He tells Meifuku to use his dark lightning cannon to attack the armor while he spiritually holds Konton in place. Despite being a weak shot, it’s enough to give Towa an opening to break the armor off of Konton.

Towa is too exhausted to continue, which is a problem because Konton isn’t defeated yet. Moroha and Setsuna come in for the assist to kill Konton, but he vanishes.

Without a kill, Moroha doesn’t get her bounty, but they’re still able to lay Meifuku’s father to rest.

Breakdown: Another day, another Towa power.

She’s really wracking them up, isn’t she? And isn’t it so convenient that it’s always a power that would be super helpful in that specific situation. I don’t even really understand what happened. She transferred her demon energy into the shell and it….brought back Meifuku’s father’s ghost to that one piece so he could possess it and give them an opening to defeat him?

It’s starting to get depressing how Moroha and Setsuna are frequently sidelined in the big battles so Towa can be the star. For God’s sake, Setsuna is a demon slayer and Moroha’s a renowned bounty hunter. Towa is a high school girl who hasn’t known actual battle since before two weeks ago.

You can say it’s because Towa is Sesshomaru’s kid, but, uh, so is Setsuna. The power imbalance isn’t terrible, yet anyway, but I’m starting to get concerned.

As for the episode itself, it was pretty decent for what it was aiming for. It reminded me a bit too much of Shippo’s debut episode, though. Like, it was nearing plagiarism. (Self-plagiarism?) Little child demon has father die of the main baddie of the episode who wears their pelt (or in this case, shell) and the main characters have to defeat the main baddie to avenge the father. In the end, the father’s spirit helps save his child and one of the main characters before departing to the afterlife…..I can’t be the only one who made that connection. It was really blatant.

I did like Meifuku. Kinda wish he’d stick around since he has a pretty unique support ability and he was pretty cute and entertaining.

Speaking of entertaining, despite Konton’s design being kinda boring, he had a decent personality at least. And, yay, he Naraku’d us! Wait, that’s not a yay. Dude seriously ran off in a puff of purple smoke right as he was about to be defeated. He couldn’t have Naraku’d any harder if he gave an evil laugh and prattled on about Sacred Jewel shards.

The team cohesion continues to be both good but also rocky. The other girls refuse to go with Moroha just because eh why should we? Moroha is legitimately upset about it because she’s lonely and wanted to be family with her cousins. Awww. I felt really bad for her because this is the first time Moroha has shown any sense of longing involving her past. She talks about how quarter-demons have it particularly rough in life, which is understandable, but how many quarter-demons could there be?

I was a bit annoyed that the only reason Setsuna and Towa wanted to go with Moroha is so they could mooch off of her bounty. It doesn’t even make much sense because the amount to set the Dream Butterfly’s bounty was the same as Konton’s bounty, but if they all went on the mission, they’d have to share the money, meaning Towa wouldn’t have enough to pay Jyubei.

Why is Setsuna even going if she’s sick of Towa’s Dream Butterfly nonsense?

The battles were pretty alright, and I’m glad we finally got a battle with a Peril without defeating it, even if he did Naraku them.

Next time, conjoined twin demons possess Towa and Setsuna and steal their rainbow pearls so they can fight each other to the death.


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AVAHS – Charlie and Lola: How Many More Minutes Until Christmas? Review

AVAHS - CaLHMMUC

Plot: Charlie and Lola prepare for Christmas, but Lola begins to panic when she believes Santa didn’t get her letter.

Breakdown: I’ve definitely seen Charlie and Lola around here and there, but I’ve never sat down and watched any of it. What better way to be introduced to a show than through its Christmas special?

This special is very cute and sweet. I absolutely loved the relationship between Charlie and Lola. They’re adorable, but still realistic.

Charlie’s teaching Lola all about Christmas, which is kinda strange because she seems old enough to have remembered at least one or two previous Christmases, but she’s confused by things like reindeer and whether everyone gets the exact same presents. I mean, for the most part, she just asks understandable questions that a little kid would ask, but thinking reindeer are horses with twigs on their heads?

I understand her not knowing what an advent calendar is, though, because I didn’t even know until a few years ago.

I did have a bit of a nostalgic squee when she and her friends were making a paper chain. I was just decorating our Christmas tree today and I have a paper chain from when I was about eight or nine that I put up every year. It’s been squished pretty bad over the years, but we still use it.

Lola becomes nervous when she mixes up her letter to Santa (or Father Christmas as he’s referred to here) with a letter she made for an exchange at school for her friend Lotta. (Also, she doesn’t seem to care that Lotta will never get the letter she made for her. It’s probably just an oversight, but I found that kinda insultingly funny.)

She does send another letter less than a week before Christmas, but she becomes increasingly concerned that Father Christmas won’t get it in time. Her fears seem to be compounded when her grandparents confirm that they won’t be able to come to their house this holiday because their cat hurt its paw. She had wished for them to come in her letter, so she believes Father Christmas didn’t read her wish.

On Christmas Eve, Charlie and Lola go to open their last advent calendar door, but they find that it’s missing. In a creative imaginary segment, they enter their advent calendar and make their own final door, which leads to the north pole. All of the Santa’s elves are just sitting around depressed and not getting ready for Santa’s trip because of a catastrophe: They’re all out of wrapping paper!

Hahahahaha! Seriously, why do so many Christmas specials insist on depicting Santa and his elves like they’re incompetent? Wrapping gifts is literally their main job and yet they ran out of wrapping paper before they even started wrapping. Didn’t think to stock up last year after the last holiday? 75% off clearance, guys. Get on my level.

The elves were pretty funny. They say everything in unison and even sigh and shift places at the same time.

The solution is really creative and cute, but it’s also one time I’m glad I overthink things because that made it so much funnier.

The two leave the north pole depressed because they believe Christmas is canceled, but then Lola and Charlie get an idea. They’re technically in the advent calendar, which means everything is paper, even the sky. So they decide to literally rip the sky down to turn it into sparkly star wrapping paper to wrap the toys.

….They literally destroyed the fabric of space so they could wrap some presents.

The elves get to work wrapping, and, once Lola leaves, they find her letter. Charlie and Lola return home, and when they awaken they find their stockings filled with toys wrapped in starry paper. Their grandparents even arrive with their injured little kitty.

There’s a really sweet and funny moment at the end where Lola gets excited that Charlie’s going to open the surprise she asked Father Christmas to get for him – it’s a pineapple. He said before that Father Christmas always brings a tangerine for some reason, but he finds it boring because it’s not a surprise. Lola asked him to not bring a tangerine because of that, so he got a pineapple instead. I just thought that was legitimately hilarious and cute.

The art, while being very simple, is charming, and I rather love the ‘collage’ style animation they utilize for this series. Everything looks very unique and fun, and it definitely adds to the warm and familiar air they have about the series.

I also found it to be kinda interesting that they have the same ‘never show adults on screen’ rule that Peanuts had. Even if it’s pretty unrealistic and a little confusing at points, and it’s especially odd in a Christmas special, I kinda get why they do it.

Overall, this is a really cute and creative Christmas special that I fully enjoyed. And if this is a mark of quality for the series itself, then I imagine the show must be a great, imaginative and educational show for young kids.


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