Pokemon Shorties! (10) Pokemon Adventure Club Review

Pokemon Short 10 Pokemon Adventure Club

Plot: Things happen. Pokemon are involved.

Breakdown: I have watched nearly all of the Pokemon shorts so far. I am well aware of their intentions, how they work, their target demographic etc., so believe me when I say this with certainty – this is, by far, the worst Pokemon short I’ve ever seen.

Nothing. Happens. Which is to be expected of the shorts, really. I’ve mentioned a few times by now that a good chunk of the shorts don’t really care about having a good story or anything, they just want to show Pokemon being cute and funny. And that’s fine. Their target demographic with these shorts is even younger than with the normal show, and that’s also fine.

But my god, this short is just awful. It’s not cute. It’s not funny. It’s actually pretty annoying. I can completely understand why this short never got an English release.

I’m pretty thankful for that, honestly, because the narrator is again providing the voices for the Pokemon, so they didn’t have to have Rodger Parsons do this. Like I said before, no bad blood with Rodger Parsons, but he made my experience with the last short incredibly frustrating because he made zero effort to have the voices sound different between the Pokemon. The Japanese narrator, Unsho Ishizuka, is making very distinct voices for each Pokemon, and it’s so much better and easier to follow, even if I’m using subtitles.

The reason it’s annoying isn’t because we have May’s Squirtle or anyone else who likes to joust my eardrums with their voice lances – it’s because the short is insanely repetitive.

Let’s take the Regis for instance. Meowth and the others accidentally run into a Registeel while wandering around in the woods. It attacks them. Haha.

Later, in a cave, they try to move a ‘giant rock’ which is so obviously Regirock that I can’t believe they even tried to pass off this trick. It’s not like mistaking a Geodude, Graveler or Golem for a rock or an Oddish for a radish or a Exeggcute for a pile of eggs. Regirock is very human-shaped, and it was standing up. If they could see there was a ‘giant rock’ from a fair distance away, they could see that it had a very human-like shape.

Pokemon Short 10 Screen1

But whatever, Regirock attacks them. Haha. So this is already repetitive, but now that they’ve done this shtick with two Regis, what do you KNOW for a fact is going to happen soon? If you guessed, “they’ll run into a Regice and it will attack them, haha” then you have electrical impulses coursing through your skull meat.

Believe it or not, that’s not the only repetitive ‘joke’ they have running through this short. There’s an even MORE repetitive joke involving a Marill – or as I like to refer to it here as Marillypuff.

Why the nickname? Because, for reasons beyond my scope of human understanding, they decided to have this Marill act exactly like our old friend, Jigglypuff. And I mean EXACTLY like it.

Here’s the exact same Marill joke they use three times.

Meowth and the other Team Rocket Pokemon are hungry, so they get some fruit from a tree. Marill walks in out of nowhere and starts singing Jigglypuff’s song to the group for no reason. And I don’t mean it starts singing like Jigglypuff would. I mean, it’s the exact same melody as Jigglypuff’s song only with the lyrics being ‘Marill’ because it can’t say ‘Jigglypuff.’

Pokemon Short 10 Screen 2

Predictably, the group falls asleep, and they drop their fruit down a small hill. Marill gets upset and inflates itself like a balloon, like Jigglypuff always did, but since it doesn’t have the marker, it just bops the group with its ball-tail, which does nothing, they don’t even react or say their faces hurt when they wake up. Then the fruit is taken by one of the passing teams of other Pokemon, Meowth and the others wake up and then the exact same thing happens twice more in a row.

And I mean in a row.

At least with the Regi jokes they were spaced out a little, but nope. We get the exact same confusing Jigglypuff reference scene three times in a row. It’s torture. If you thought Jigglypuff randomly appearing in the show to do this shit once every few episodes was annoying, this will drive you up a wall.

I just don’t understand what they were trying to achieve with this. The Jigglypuff joke has been run into the ground so much I think it dug a hole to the other side of the globe. That’s why they stopped doing it. It’s so repetitive, and it leaves very little room for creativity. It’s like the running joke they have with the Pokemon who always pops out of their Pokeball when they’re not supposed to and their Trainer gets mad, or James having a Pokemon who shows affection through unintentionally hurting him, but at least those repetitive jokes are over with within five to ten seconds. The Jigglypuff shtick usually takes at least 20 seconds to over a full minute. Jigglypuff still pops up once in a blue moon, but even then it’s shtick is still old as hell and just something to boop the old nostalgia button.

If they really wanted to do this joke again, why not just bring back Jigglypuff? It would make about as much sense as a random singing Marill, who, like Azumarill in Pikachu’s Summer Festival, should really not know Sing naturally except on the off-chance it was bred by a Pokemon who knew Sing naturally – one of those breeding possibilities being, coincidentally enough, Jigglypuff.

Pokemon Short 10 Screen 3

Wait a second, I say they did this joke three times? Oh silly me. I meant to say they technically do this FOUR TIMES. Later, when they’re wandering around a cave, Meowth and the others find a block of ice with a bunch of fruit in it. I had become conditioned to the image of fruit, so the hairs on the back of neck instantly stood up. They quickly look around for Marill, but when they see he’s not around, Meowth Fury Swipes the fruit free.

Golly.

Wonder what happens nex–

Marill pops up, Sings, sleep, inflate, tail bops, blah blah. I am in physical pain.

There’s no ‘Adventure Club’ here, by the way. You want to know everything that happens?

Pikachu and the other Pokemon, including Meowth and Team Rocket’s Pokemon, want to play in the river, but it’s dried up. So they go upriver to see what’s causing the stoppage. Meowth doesn’t want Pikachu and his group to solve the problem first…..for some reason….so he gets all competitive with them. They all hitch a ride on some Drifloom and Drifblim, but Meowth being an idiot makes them all fall, scattered in groups of two or more throughout the woods. They all encounter a bunch of random shenanigans, most of which I’ve already explained, and most of the shenanigans (and lines, quite frankly) are mirrored between the groups because it’s hard to write different things for each group (Ex: Buneary freaks out because she thinks someone’s tapping her shoulder, but Pikachu says it’s just a water drip and reassures her. Then we see Aipom getting nervous because he feels someone tapping him on the shoulder, but Piplup reveals that it’s just water dripping and reassures him. In another instance, they all get to four different caves and we have to hear them all explain to their groups that this is the proper way to go etc.), and then they reach the problem, it’s a dam built by Bidoof and Bibarel, they help them destroy the dam, and then they race in the river.

The end.

There’s no club, not even as a passing mention. There’s no story. There’s hardly any real instances of the Pokemon being particularly cute. There’s rarely a joke that works, and they repeat several of them to the point of frustration. There’s no real conflict either. It’s not like they’re concerned that the river being dry will have dire consequences for the area. They’re purely concerned with the fact that they can’t play in the river. And, in the end, they basically rip off the ending to the first short. It’s solved by the conflicting Pokemon groups working together and pulling on a rope to yank out something that’s stuck.

Even the animation seems subpar. Some parts look like the inbetweens are missing, and there’s this completely unnecessary bunch of CGI animated music notes that appear when Marill starts singing, which are so bad they reminded me of those music notes that they added to the DiC dub of Sailor Moon when Serena had the radio on.

The one thing I actually enjoyed about this short was Croagunk, who was being pretty funny just….existing, really. His unchanging expression as he floats around and inflates his cheeks was kinda funny, but even that wore thin and didn’t build up to anything.

Overall, you’re better off skipping this short. There’s really nothing worth your time here, even if you’re hard up for ‘Pokemon being cute.’


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Space-Time Detective Genshi-Kun/Flint the Time Detective Episode 14 (13 for the Dub) The Visiting Lady is TP Lady? | Sub/Dub Comparison

STDGKEP14SCREEN1

Plot: TP Lady (disguised as Ms. Aino) concocts a plan to have Dr. Yamato willing give her all of their space-time monsters by claiming their presence is making Genshi act poorly in school. A clip show ensues.

—————————————–

Title Change: The Visiting Lady is TP Lady? is changed to Miss Iknow Makes a House Call.

Different establishing shot at the very beginning.

We hear Genshi chasing Honey-Honey in the original, but in the dub we hear Petra telling Dyno and Mite to hurry up.

Saban pointlessly shoves in a brief shot of Petra opening the hatch to her ship only to yell ‘I want that Time Shifter!’ and then closing it back up before transforming the ship.

TP Lady reveals that her fake (?) full name is Hitomi Aino. In the dub, we’ve only ever known her as Miss Iknow.

They add a wipe transition when they cut to Flint and the others dancing.

Originally, Honey-Honey was shown first and then Genshi. In the dub, it’s reversed.

Oh and hi Elfin. How strange of you to exist considering we skipped over your episode in the dub and won’t meet you until the very end of the series.

Ya know, it never really occurred to me until this moment….Dyna and Mite are posing as the principal and vice principal of their school….what….happened to the real principal and vice principal?….And what happened to their real teacher?

Also, I guess one of them was demoted from vice principal to homeroom teacher in the dub, which is strange because I thought Miss Iknow was their homeroom teacher. What does she teach then?

*snort* The hell Yamato/Goodman!? You just casually admit to someone “Oh, those are just space-time monsters that we’re keeping in our house for a while.”? Isn’t this stuff supposed to be secret?

That was your plan, TP Lady/Petra? To go to their house under the guise of their teacher who is concerned about Genshi/Flint’s behavior, hope a space-time monster randomly pops up and then assert that his issues stem from being around them, which would give you an excuse to take them?

Exactly how dumb are you?

That’d be like saying your dog ate your homework and then your teacher comes to your home to take your dog.

I really, really hate that they kept in that incredibly awkward ‘sparkle-off’ that Kyoichiro and Rei have. No, I won’t explain what I mean by that. Saban even had the balls to make it WORSE by replaying some of the scene so it goes on for longer.

They added a fade transition between Merlock handing over the report and cutting back to the house.

In fact –

Entire Series Edit: There are random transitions added here and there. They’re not constant, like with 4Kids’ dub of Yu-Gi-Oh GX, but they’re prominent enough for me to finally add this note.

Yeah, this episode is mostly a clip show as they explain to Ms. Aino their situation and why Genshi should be excused for his behavior and keep their space-time monsters.

The dub adds clips explaining why Oto-tan ended up as a stone slab when the original didn’t. I actually like this addition because it seems really weird how the original clips started when Oto-tan was explaining why he was a stone ‘axe’ but it ended without explaining why he was a stone axe.

….Also, I guess it was this episode where Saban realized they screwed up calling Flint’s dad ‘Rocky Hammerhead’ and giving his signature move the name ‘Hammerhead Rock!’….when he’s actually an axe not a hammer.

I still love how they’re all so casually discussing this. I know that this is TP Lady, Dyna and Mite, but if a normal person were hearing this they’d flip out.

Okay, so now Yamato just has video footage of each mission they’ve gone on? I could maybe understand Ridon keeping logs, but Ridon’s not around all the time. In fact, it’s usually hidden somewhere. There are also camera angles that would be impossible to get. If you guys want to have a clip show, fine, but if you’re going to show video footage for your clips at least explain how you obtained that footage. What, did Toki-G send you copies since he can, somehow, observe Genshi and co. on their missions at all times through his little screen thing?

By the way, if this were just one or two flashbacks, I’d do what I normally do and check each clip to ensure it’s the same (4Kids has a habit of redubbing their flashbacks making them very obviously wrong from what they originally were, when that’s more work and more money and more confusing) but since there are so many clips today, I’m just going to assume Saban’s not as stupid as 4Kids.

They cut off the Mosbee clip at the end where Flint was meant to be shown thanking Mosbee for helping.

In the original, Genshi just laughs when Ms. Aino and the others assert that the space-time monsters have to go with them. In the dub, he tells them they don’t have to take them. I like the dub a lot better because Genshi might be an idiot but he’d never laugh in response to someone threatening to take away his friends. The kid’s all about friendship. Haven’t you heard his incessantly annoying friendship song?

It’s depressing and hilarious that the commercial break cliffhanger today ‘Well, Talun’s a useless pile of crap who taught Genshi to be a coward. Guess we’re taking the space-time monsters!’

Also, it’s really cute that the fossil-living version eyecatch today is Genshi.

They’re even recycling footage from this very episode. Their budget must’ve been so tight at this point.

They add in an establishing shot of the building where Rei works before we get the scene of Merlock’s report.

They also insert a shot of the Bureau of Time and Space before we cut back to Yamato.

Genshi asks Talun if he doesn’t like staying with them. Talun shakes his head no. Genshi then asks if Talun doesn’t like being with everyone. Talun shakes his head no again. Finally, Genshi asks if Talun doesn’t like being with him. Talun shakes his head no.

……Then Genshi says there’s no problem then and that Talun should stay because they’re friends.

I think either the subs are strange here or this part wasn’t articulated well in the writing. I imagine Talun was trying to say that, no, it’s not that he doesn’t like living there, being with them and being with Genshi. However, the way the scene goes, it’s like he’s agreeing and saying ‘No, I don’t like this place, everyone else or Genshi.’

I actually thought Genshi was telling Talun it was okay to leave when he said there was no problem.

The dub, however, is much worse, but at least it’s more articulate. Flint is basically guilting Talon into staying by asking “You don’t even have a place to go, do you?” *Talen shakes his head no* “If you leave, you’ll be out there all alone, would you like that?” *Talen shakes his head no* “Then stay. You don’t want everyone to be sad, do you?” *Talen shakes his head no*

This is basically a parent’s default response when a kid wants to run away. Start by pointing out how stupid it is (You don’t have anywhere to go.) continue by making them scared (You’ll be all alone, would you like that?) and finish it off by making them feel guilty and selfish should they run away. (You don’t want everyone to be sad, do you?)

In the original, once you clear up the conversation, you can tell that Genshi is seeing if the decision to leave is really best for Talun. If he really didn’t like living there, or didn’t like Genshi, Sora, Tokio, Yamato or the other space-time monsters, he would accept that Talun should go since he wants Talun to be happy. But since he does like living there and being with everyone, the most logical choice is to stay because they’re all friends. This entire series of questions is for Talun’s sake whereas the dub is only making an already miserable and self-doubting Talon feel even worse.

This is especially bad considering that Talen is running away because he, well, ran away the last time he was called into battle. Responding to him running now by making that decision seem stupid and selfish would only compound his guilt and feelings of worthlessness.

But even the original has its faults.

After that’s all said and done, Putera says that Talun sure is a needy one. Yamato then responds by saying being needy is cute. In the dub, Pterry tells Goodman that he must be relieved. Goodman says that he is because, as Flint said, they’re all a family.

I really don’t like the original lines there because, again, they’re kinda poking fun at/insulting Talun when he already feels like crap. They’re saying it behind his back, but still.

Immediately following that, Putera calls Yamato a doting parent, which makes Yamato blush and laugh. In the dub, Pterry says their family is still growing, which makes Goodman blush and laugh, which is REALLY awkward because it seriously makes it sound like they’re joking about reproduction, especially with Pterry’s facial expression and Goodman’s blush.

I love how Yamato responds to this whole situation with Talun by following it up with more clips of the space-time monsters being all heroic and awesome. Like, ‘Hey Talun! You feel like crap for being a coward and not being useful to Genshi? I know what will make you feel better. Watching these clips of everyone else being brave and useful to Genshi!’

Being fair, the point is to emphasize that, with teamwork, they can do anything, but they’re still not explaining what Talun brings to the team.

Seeing the mockups for what the yet-to-transform space-time monsters will look like as supers is cool, especially considering that some of them never transformed before the series got canceled. Super Sphin and Super Horurun in particular look kickass.

How has Yamato not made one for Love-Love, though? He was the first space-time monster they encountered. It makes his situation even sadder because he never transforms over the course of the series and now he doesn’t even get a mockup.

Originally, Kyoichiro says he’s become a star (because they’re shooting up into the sky trapped in TP Lady’s mini-cat mecha) TP Lady, Dyna and Mite respond “We all have!” In the dub, Petra says she’s getting air sick, which makes Dyno and Mite say “Oh no!”

They repeat the shot of Flint talking before the second shot of Goodman thinking comes in.

——————————————-

Surprise! This was boring. What else can you expect from a clip show episode? But this one in particular was just bad. The framing for the clips was ridiculous. So, they honestly don’t care who knows about their jobs as space-time detectives or that they’re keeping space-time monsters in their house or that Genshi’s dad is a frickin’ stone axe? They so casually talk about it that I was simply floored. I could swear they’ve actively tried to keep it a secret until now, but they really don’t care. Does the Bureau of Space-Time allow this?

TP Lady’s plan was just stupid. If I was Yamato, I’d go above her head and call the school superintendent or the cops or even Rei or something. She has no right to just come in and demand they hand over the space-time monsters just because Genshi has bad behavior and she blames them for it.

Actually building upon Talun’s failure from one of the previous episodes was unexpected and welcome, but they didn’t really do anything with it. Talun feels better now, which is great, but they didn’t explain why Talun is important to their group or explain how he contributes – just that they’re friends and family. Talun never thought they weren’t friends – he just felt like a useless coward.

I really thought we’d see Talun’s super form in this episode, but, outside of a mockup, we didn’t. They perfectly setup a story in which Talun would prove his worth and be the hero, but they didn’t. His super transformation is shown in the series sometime later, but why set up the moment so well just to squander it?

Plus, we had no historical figure to talk about today nor did I have anything to research – boooooo.

Comparison-wise, it’s pretty balanced. Some changes were for the better in the dub, others were just nonsensical. The worst was Genshi’s speech to keep Talen around. The entire sentiment behind it was destroyed in the dub. Oh well, at least I didn’t have any screencaps to get today.

Next time, we meet Super Sentai inspired space-time monsters. I really hope that’s as awesome as it sounds.


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CSBS – Rugrats S01 Ep4: Baby Commercial/Little Dude Review

CSBS - Rugrats Ep4 Screen2

Plot: 4A – Baby Commercial: Phil and Lil recall their experiences filming a diaper commercial.

4B – Little Dude: Tommy is brought to be a learning aid at Didi’s high school Home Ec. class.

Breakdown: 4A – Baby Commercial: CSBS - Rugrats Ep4 screen1This is the first episode to mostly center on Phil and Lil, and it’s largely poking fun at the entertainment industry while also having a lot of random slapstick that Rugrats really loved in the early days.

One thing I really remembered about this episode was the director guy, Jonathan’s, obsession with his diaper box pyramid. That detail is mostly unimportant, but the whole time I was rewatching the episode, I was waiting for when we got to the point where he’d yell “MY PYRAMID!” Like the Cabbage Merchant from Avatar the Last Airbender.

Other than that, we have adults either not understanding babies or not giving a single dime store fuck about them. Ya know, the hallmark of all Rugrats episodes.

Here, we have the director guy acting like a one and half year old would know how to take stage directions on his own, Betty handing off Lil to a random slob she doesn’t know, and the random slob instantly placing her on the floor and completely neglecting to watch her because he wants to continue stuffing his face with donuts and being incoherent.

He’s wearing a t-shirt that says ‘Best Boy’ and I never got that joke, nor do I get it now. Is there some joke in the industry that best boys are useless sacks of crap? If you don’t know what a best boy is, they’re basically, what Wiki describes as, the ‘foremans’ of their respective crews, either electric or grips. They’re not the heads of their crews, that would be the gaffer (for electric) and key grip, but they are responsible for a lot of scheduling, hiring and general management. Sounds like they have a pretty important job. Why is the parody of it being portrayed like this? Am I not getting something?

For all of you playing at home, Lil ends up in the goddamn rafters and nearly dies because of course she does.

Then the unsupervised Phil climbs on a camera and drives it around the set, nearly crashing the diaper pyramid down. However, another staple of Rugrats episodes is that all of this chaos usually results in a happy if not unrealistic ending. The advertising execs love the footage of the babies wreaking havoc, and they launch the commercial. Jonathan, having fired the kids and Betty before the execs gave their seal of approval, comes to their house to beg and plead for them to shoot more commercials for them. Betty vehemently refuses because she didn’t like how they were treated, which is probably our first parenting win in this series.

This episode was kinda drab, but it was fun enough to hold my attention.

4B – Little Dude:

CSBS - Rugrats Ep4 Screen4

This is one my absolute favorite early season episodes. It’s extremely cute and funny with many memorable moments, but the highlight is Ramone/Rocko.

Before we get started, does anyone remember that Didi was a high school Home Ec. teacher? It’s really, really easy to forget because they hardly ever talk about it or show her at school. I was a die-hard Rugrats fan for well over a decade and even I barely remembered that she was a teacher.

Anyhoo, Didi brings Tommy to school as a learning aid as she teaches her class how to change a diaper, which I can’t decide if that’s a parenting fail or not. Don’t they usually use baby dolls for this? Isn’t it kinda weird to use an actual baby with an actual poopy diaper? Isn’t it just flatout better to use a baby doll anyway because it’s not like everyone in the class can change Tommy. Not everyone would get a chance to do it themselves.

Like typical teenagers, they can’t bring themselves to change him because ew, but then the coolest guy ever walks in – Ramone also known as Rocko. Ramone looks like a typical ‘cool’ guy. He’s got the leather jacket, the slicked back hair, the sunglasses, the chains etc. But unlike your cliché leather-toting ‘cool’ guy, Ramone actually is incredibly cool. He walks in like a boss, has everyone step aside and changes Tommy flawlessly. Tommy then adorably steals and wears his sunglasses, which Ramone thinks is very cool. I agree, Tommy looks really cool with those glasses on.

Ramone explains that he has a baby brother at home so he’s used to changing diapers. Using his comb, he dubs him ‘Little Dude’ and Tommy instantly takes a shine to him.

Once class is dismissed, some girls convince Didi to let them hang out with Tommy while she’s on her lunch break and she agrees. The girls really like Tommy, but while they’re dealing with some jerk football player they accidentally leave him on the tailgate of a truck that pulls away without them noticing.

I am going to give the girls a break for ignoring Tommy for a bit, but I’m going to ding them for leaving him on the tailgate. He could’ve easily fallen off and gotten severely injured or killed either by wandering off the edge or by the force of the truck pulling away. To their credit, they do quickly realize he’s missing and run all over the place trying to find him, but still.

While wandering, Tommy finds Ramone and picks up the comb he dropped accidentally. He then tries to find Ramone to return it to him. Tommy’s forlorn face when Ramone leaves the room without realizing he’s there is so heartbreaking.

Then we have the epic cafeteria scene where the jerk football player from before and Ramone end up facing off and wiping food on each other after Tommy accidentally gets pudding on the football guy’s jersey. When a full-on food fight breaks out, because cafeteria scene in the 90s, the football jerk angrily picks up Tommy. Ramone instantly stops all of the chaos with a single sentence when he demands the jerk give Tommy to him. He puts Tommy in his leather jacket, leaves the room and instantly allows the food fight to resume as he leaves the doorway.

This guy is too amazing for words.

Tommy is eventually returned to the girls, one of whom instantly falls in mutual love with Ramone at first sight. Aw that’s sweet…Girl, seriously, nab him up. He’ll be an awesome dad. If he treats you anywhere near as well as he treated Tommy here, or even Didi, he was very nice to her too, he’ll be a perfect guy for you.

The girls return Tommy to Didi, who is none the wiser of what happened but is happy to hear the girls learned a lot from their experience with Tommy. Returning Ramone’s comb to him, Ramone lets Tommy keep his sunglasses, which are still super cool, and Ramone bids farewell to the Little Dude.

I left some stuff out for the sake of brevity and because I’d just be ruining jokes for you, but this is a really great episode with some adorable and hilarious moments and a really cool and likable character. I would’ve loved to see Ramone/Rocko return, but alas, he was a one-off.

Parenting Fails

4A – I won’t ding Betty too much for handing off Lil to the Best Boy because she needed to be somewhere to help Phil and she probably just assumed he would be competent enough to hold a baby for five minutes, but I will ding the Best Boy because he didn’t even try to hold her for longer than five seconds. He instantly plopped her on the filthy floor and ignored her. That’s bad enough, but then she ends up climbing into the rafters and nearly falling to her death all because he’s a lazy gluttonous slob. X5

Once Lil has everyone’s attention, literally no one watches Phil, which leaves him open for causing havoc on the ground. He gets ahold of one of the cameras and nearly crashes into the diaper pyramid. X3

4B – Not much here. I’ll ding the tailgate thing (x3), as I said, but considering Didi was trying to teach her students about child care, there were three girls watching him and she was only allowing it for a lunch break, even telling them to find her if he gets fussy, I won’t get on her case.

Tally: 11


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My Poke-Pinions #41, 42 and 169 | The ‘bat Line

Zubat

Name: Zubat’s name is obviously derived from the word ‘bat’ but it’s also taken as a pun since it originates from the onomatopoeia for the sound of an edged tool forcefully piercing something, ‘zubatto’ since it’s a vampire bat. As you can guess, it has the same name in English as Japanese.

I like Zubat’s name just fine. It’s fitting, memorable and snappy.

Fun Fact: In France, it’s called Nosferapti, based off of Nosferatu and ‘pi’ for petit. That is one of the coolest names I’ve ever heard. Remind me if I ever have kids, I’m totally naming one Nosferapti.

Design: Zubat is a bat……*lip smack* Yup.

Okay, maybe I’m not giving Zubat enough credit. I do think Zubat is really cute. I actually am a fan of bats, and this one is pretty adorable. It has a nice blue and purple color scheme, cute little ears, and enough creepiness in the fact that it has no eyes and a perpetually open fanged mouth to at least be a little intimidating.

What I never liked about it, though, are its weird ‘tails.’ Never understood what the purpose was for those tails either practically or as a design choice. I honestly didn’t even know they were tails until I read the Wiki for this analysis. I honestly always thought they were really skinny legs with no feet.

Sprite-wise, I literally have nothing to say about any Gen’s sprites. They’re all decent enough. The animations are sometimes a little spastic, but none I really feel like pointing out.

The only one that might be worth noting is Gen II, which, for some reason, made Zubat’s sprites all insanely dark. I know they’re mostly found in caves, but they’re WAY too dark. It’s hard to make out details on them.

Shiny:

Most people hate shiny Zubat because of the ick green, and I agree, but in other Gens the sprite is more of a lime green, which I’m more receptive to.

I’m not receptive of the yellow/beige they chose for the insides of the ears and wings, though. Gen II had those areas be more of a pink-ish color, which I’m not that happy about either, but it looks better than yellow/beige.

Dex Entries and Backstory: It’s a bat.

Sorry, I won’t do it again.

Really, there’s nothing in the Dex entries that don’t apply to your average bat except that sunlight burns them/causes them to become unhealthy, because vampire lore. I was actually pretty surprised to learn this because, in all my years playing the games and watching the anime, I’ve never heard of this being a thing. Apparently, captured and trained Zubats are somehow more resilient to sunlight and don’t get burned or sick. *shrug*

Zubat’s design was based off of—do I honestly need to keep typing that sentence? Its Poison typing is either based off of the anticoagulant found in bat saliva, which I find hard to believe because anticoagulants are not poison, or its based off of the fact that bats coming carry diseases such as rabies, which is a bit more believable. The whole poison/venom thing has become more common in vampire media. In fact, a manga I’m currently reading, Higanjima, has vampires with venom that instantly completely paralyzes their victims upon a single bite. It also lulls the victim into a state of pure ecstasy.

Well that was a short entry. Only one page….Hmmm….I need something to fill time.

Here, let me grab a Zubat meme real quick.

There we go.

Golbat

Name: Golbat is supposedly derived from the word “gollop” which is another word for ‘gulp’ which is supposed to be in reference to gulping blood because vampire bat. It could also be short for golden-capped fruit bat, which looks nothing like Golbat and is a fruit bat anyway, not a vampire bat.

Honestly, I don’t believe either of these theories. I have never heard the world ‘gollop’ in my life. If the gulping thing was the main inspiration, why not just name it Gulbat? They sound almost identical.

I like Golbat just fine as a name, but I prefer Zubat.

Fun Fact: In France, it’s called Nosferalto, which is also incredibly awesome. The alto part means ‘high’ which I think is in reference to Golbat’s flying abilities.

Design: I think Golbat’s design is the perfect combination of ‘typical bat’ and ‘creepy. I mean, look at this thing. It’s just a bat with a HUGE mouth, but that’s all it really needs to come off as creepy. It’s gaping, never closing, black abyss of a mouth.

I don’t much care for its feet is all I can say in the negatives. They seem like they’re an afterthought, but they don’t bother me nearly as much as Zubat’s tail feet.

Sprite-Wise, YES! I finally get to talk about one of my favorite sets of weird-ass Gen I sprites!

Look at it!

Look at it!

And, of course, the cous de gras, the weirdo Gen I king,

Bask in the glory that is funhouse mirror Golbat with a frickin’ TONGUE. Just when you think the black abyss mouth was the creepiest they could pull off with Golbat’s mouth they give you this nightmare. It makes total sense that he has a tongue, and I’m…..a little certain it probably does have one even though we can’t see it, but GOD. It’s like it swallowed a Lickitung. It’s so messed up and cool, I love it.

Other than that, I have the same notes about Golbat’s sprites as I did with Zubat’s. They’re all fine, Gen II is still way too dark, though, and sometimes the animations are a bit too erratic, but they’re all fine.

Shiny:

Golbat’s shiny has the same problem as Zubat’s shiny only a lot worse because they don’t improve the color with time. It has this weird olive-green and bubblegum/peach color scheme that is putrid. I know I said I liked Zubat’s shiny a tiny bit better with the pink over that weird beige, but this shade just looks awful.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Golbat’s Dex entries are only a little bit more interesting than Zubat’s, this time focusing more on the vampire angle. Golbat targets humans and Pokemon, and it never stops draining blood from its victims, even if it gets too heavy to fly. Moon’s Dex entry goes even further with this and points out that Golbat will quickly become food for other Pokemon if it allows itself to get this heavy (Jeez, these entries are dark.) It also sometimes shares the blood that it’s already gathered, which, what the fuck and HOW?! Does it throw it up? Is there some Golbat bucket hidden in its mouth? Its sharp fangs can puncture any type of skin, except those of Steel-type Pokemon. Attempting to bite Steel-types has caused Golbat to lose their fangs occasionally.

Two other interesting notes are 1) I changes its blood type to that of the victim when drinking blood…which, cool, but why? And 2) even though I noted its little weird legs, it’s apparently very good at walking. So good, in fact, that it can stalk prey silently on land as well as in the air.

Design-wise, it has the exact same information listed as Zubat.

Crobat

Name: Out of all of the ‘bat line, I like Crobat’s name the best. It’s either a merging of ‘bat’ with the word ‘cross’, referencing the way its four wings cross over each other, or it’s derived from the word ‘acrobat’ which is alluding to its skills flying through the air. Both explanations of this name are much better than the explanations we get for Zubat and Golbat. Also, it reminds me of crows, which adds to the creepy factor.

Fun Fact: In France, it’s called Nostenfer, which I like the least out of all of the French ‘bat line names. It just doesn’t flow nearly as well. You almost have to stutter through it. The ‘enfer’ part means ‘Hell’ which is fitting but also not because Crobat’s not nearly intimidating enough to earn that dark name.

Design: Just gonna get this out of the way, because I know how much people tend to love Crobat, but I’ll be honest…..I like Golbat better. Golbat kinda gives off a creepier vibe while still being cute, but Crobat is just like an angry bat. Don’t get me wrong, I love Crobat too. I really, really love the fact that it has four wings that intersect each other when flapping, and the differences in my preference levels isn’t that much, but I still find myself preferring Golbat.

Sprite-wise, not much to note. The flying animations are, again, a bit sporadic sometimes, but it’s nothing that bad. Only one that is noteworthy is Crystal, whose flying animation looks awful. It looks so much more like it’s trying to wave ‘hi’ with both wings than it is trying to fly.

Shiny:

So, everyone has a beef with baby poop-colored Zubat and Golbat, eh? May I ask why I haven’t seen more people complain about this flesh-colored abomination?

Granted this specific shade of pink was only around for Gen III, every other Gen is like a bubblegum pink, but WHY? Why did this happen? And why is it paired up with the classic baby-poop green for the wings?

At least the bubblegum pink does work kinda better, but if I were a shiny Crobat I’d be embarrassed as shit.

Crobat….the final evo of the vampiric ‘bat line. Stalking its prey swiftly and silently…..drinking the blood of any poor creature that crosses its path……IS NOW AVAILABLE IN COTTON CANDY, ROSE, AND BALLET SLIPPER PINK!

Dex Entries and Backstory: Crobat’s Dex entries skew away from the vampire motif for the most part and tend to focus more on its impressive speed and stealth. Its hind legs actually evolved into the second set of wings, making it faster and more agile, but greatly hindered its ability to travel on land.

It can fly super fast and extremely quietly, so much so that most people don’t even notice them going by. Supposedly, you won’t even realize you’ve been fed on until it’s too late. If it has been flying for long periods, it will switch which pair of wings it uses to fly around so it can rest the other pair.

Kinda disappointing pool of info, to be honest.

May I ask I one thing, though? Why does a Pokemon based on bats and vampires evolve through, of all things, friendship?

Design-wise, it’s mostly the same as Zubat and Golbat with two additions. The first is suggesting that the second pair of wings is based on the fact that a bat’s wings are connected by their patagium, which connects all of their limbs into their wings. The increased speed is theorized to be based on the Mexican free-tailed bat, which is noted as being able to reach the fastest horizontal flight speed of any animal.

I don’t really have anything to discuss there. It’s pretty straight-forward.

Next time, it’s the….Uh….I don’t really know what to call this line. They don’t really have a naming scheme. Maybe the Weed/Flower line because two are the Weed Pokemon and two are the Flower Pokemon?…..Oddish, Gloom, Vileplume and Bellossom are up next.

The Ridiculous Mess that is BALDR FORCE EXE Resolution (Episodes 3 and 4 of 4)

Episode 3:

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Toru realizes that Ayane is Yuya’s killer. I’m not even going to bother sarcastically explaining the logical stuff that should be happening right now. Toru just up and charges at her, knocking Akira out of her grasp and beating the everloving crap out of her, yelling how she’ll pay for killing Yuya.

…Okay, I’m not going to argue about some cosmic balancing sheet and what does and doesn’t constitute as proper punishment for what she’s done, if she even deserves one,….but dude….she just got raped and violated in a multitude of horrific ways by a psychopath minutes ago and is having an emotional breakdown. You really think now of all times is the perfect opportunity to exact revenge and nearly bludgeon her to death? Just….really? You’re an awful protagonist. Probably one of the worst I’ve ever seen. I don’t even want to call you a protagonist. You’re an awful person period.

Toru’s stopped before he can kill Ayane by Ren who randomly appears in front of him. Before she can really talk with him, VSS soldiers appear and start placing all of Flak under house arrest. Ayane is placed under actual arrest because apparently she had been leaking information to ‘the enemy’….Which I guess means hackers, but why would she do that? She hates hackers with a passion. I’d imagine it was some information exchange to help her in her revenge plot, but she never displayed signs of having inside information. Even if she did, this is still never explained.

Toru goes out to some random tree and thinks about the pendant that Yuya used to wear that he now wears as a memento…..Was Toru in love with Yuya? There’s nothing really indicating their sexuality, but the way it’s set up, it really seems like Toru had a thing for Yuya. Doesn’t impact the plot much, if at all, but it’s something to ponder.

Tsukina shows up wanting to take Toru somewhere. On the ride, she cuddles up close to him and tells him that she has always loved him and she just wanted to tell him that. Not like Toru looked like he reciprocated her feelings anyway. Despite the fact that you can predict something like this would happen since, of course, she’s his old friend and token girl of his original group, thus, by storytelling law, she must be a romantic interest for the lead, there’s really no indication that either of them had romantic feelings for the other. They hardly shared any screentime. This is never brought up again and goes nowhere so….I dunno. They just wanted to check off that trope?

He finds out that she’s taking him to VSS to speak with her superiors. When he arrives, Tachibana states that she knows he’s been hanging around a mysterious girl in The Wired that they call ‘Envy’ who apparently is connected to the big blackness that instantly makes people’s heads explode with one glance that they call ‘Leviathan’…..Boy, you guys are really pulling all the stops for original names, aren’t you? The Wired, Envy, Steppen Wolf, simulacrums, and now Leviathan?

Anyhoo, they’re surprised that Envy/Ren appeared to Toru and even more surprised that nothing happened to him because of it. So they decide he’d be the perfect bait to lure out Ren. However, he refuses and is soon knocked out by Tsukina.

They decide, if he won’t cooperate, that they’ll make him cooperate by implanting a mind control chip in his brain just like Tsukina.

At this point I should mention that Toru’s been having on-again off-again flashbacks to him as a child playing in a room with a younger Ren as well as other flashbacks of running from some government facility and witnessing weird experiments. He has more of them here, but they don’t build on much.

He wakes up from his flashback/dream to see that Akira and Fei Dao have decided to rescue him from VSS. Tachibana is surveying the damage when she notices the serial number on Toru’s brain chip – 0813.

Back at Fei Dao headquarters, they actually seem like they want to portray Fei Dao as a bunch of resistance hackers or something since it’s like a small underground community complete with little kids. However, considering that they seem to enjoy hacking into Flak for no reason and have no problem killing people to reach their goals (they just killed at least two people in VSS to rescue Toru), and have a sadistic murderer/rapist on their team, yeah no….but nice-ish try I think maybenotreally. Also, what resistance would it be anyway? Flak’s not an oppressive dictatorship – they combat hackers in The Wired.

Toru is introduced to Quon, the leader of Fei Dao, and he’s properly introduced to Lian, a girl who is basically the leader of the Fei Dao in terms of hacking. Quon wonders if Toru remembers him because he lived with him at the VSS testing facility for years.

Here’s where we get the explanation behind Toru’s flashbacks.

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Toru was an orphan, I guess, along with his sister, Ren. This turn of events is why her name is odd to me. Toru’s last name is Souma while Ren’s is Mizusaka. Did she just make up that last name for some reason or is there a reason why these siblings have different last names?

Toru and Ren got lost in the forest or something and stumbled upon the VSS building. Apparently the people at the facility kidnapped them and used them, along with many other children, as experiments for a new enhancing brain chip (also, they really can’t come up with any other word for this besides ‘brain chip’?) Many experiments ended up in failure, and many children died as a result. In order to cover their tracks even further, they killed the children who had failed in the experiments but hadn’t died.

Quon, despite being the head researcher behind this entire thing, decided he couldn’t take this anymore and tried to save some of the remaining children from VSS including Toru, Lian, Genha and some others. Toru doesn’t remember any of this because, ironically, he was chosen for an experiment that would bolster his memory if successful, but it failed and left him with amnesia and a damaged brain chip.

Soon after, he starts having clearer flashbacks of Ren…flashbacks that are really cheesy and annoying. Basically the cliché shtick of young loli-girl who can’t do anything on her own and is super shy being protected by her big brother who vows that they’ll always be together when that’s obviously not true. He also remembers that Ren had a big music box thing that she always carried around with her that was a gift from their parents. I know this because they outright say it was a gift from their parents. Why Toru didn’t get one is beyond me.

Toru asks if Quon knows where Ren’s physical body is. He passes on the sad news that he wasn’t able to rescue her from VSS. She was killed due to her experiment failing shortly before Quon decided to rescue the kids from the facility.

Toru doesn’t believe his claims because he’s seen her in The Wired and vows to find Ren’s physical body and bring her back to the real world.

Cut to him going to The Wired and reuniting with Ren and….You know, I just can’t emotionally connect with this. Ren is really annoying, Toru’s just an awful person, and we were quite literally given our only reason for having an emotional connection to this character a minute and a half ago. In fact, and I know Toru had amnesia all this time, but it’s like the anime suddenly said “Yeah, this Yuya thing’s not working for me. Scrap the whole thing and now make him super determined to save his sister instead.”

And that really is what happened. The obsessed Yuya revenge thing is all but completely thrown away and now Toru’s shifted his obsession with bringing his sister back even though Quon said he saw her die.

Toru calls Bachelor, who has been watching this whole time…..creepy, and asks if he’ll help them find Ren’s real body. Bachelor says he won’t do it for free, and Toru offers to work for him if Bachelor helps. Bachelor agrees and they head to the VSS information mainframe to find Ren’s file. After getting through some automatic security detail, they eventually find her file (it’s the only file that has a picture on it, so that was convenient.) but there’s no information on where her real body is.

Bachelor shows up at Fei Dao headquarters after they log out and says they have to go to the old VSS research facility to get anymore information.

As they’re exploring the facility we learn that Bachelor was a research subject too….Wait, as what? A baby? These experiments seem to have occurred like eight-ish years ago and Bachelor is only like 10 at most. I guess his experiment was on his intelligence? I don’t know. I still don’t know what Lian’s experiment was, or Genha’s for that matter. In fact, Genha being one of the experiments really seems like a tacked on way to explain why he’s crazy. Not like it matters since you don’t empathize with him in the slightest.

Toru looks inside one of the sleeping pod things and they discover (dun dun dunnnn) Ren’s body. What a twis–….No, that’s not really a twist either. Quon said he saw her die, and it was a huge long shot that she was alive. Yes, it’s sad that we got visual confirmation that her physical body was dead, but there was little to no hope that she was alive anyway.

He takes the music box, but Bachelor is suddenly shot through the shoulder by VSS soldiers lead by Tachibana. Youmeanshewasabadguywhaaaaa?

Apparently, she is just now finding out that Toru was an experiment, even though, considering how interested she was in Ren’s case, it seems unlikely that she never picked up on the fact that Ren had a brother named Toru – especially considering that his brain chip’s serial number is just one number higher than Ren’s.

Tachibana explains that she didn’t kill Ren. Ren’s experiment was to test the effects of spending extended periods of time in The Wired. Eventually, Ren’s consciousness was broken from her physical body and she became trapped in The Wired. I guess her physical body just died on its own soon after. That doesn’t really make any sense. That’s like saying a coma and death are the same thing. An entity soon developed from Ren’s consciousness – the Leviathan. How? Why? What is it really?

Also, how has Ren been aging if she’s been in The Wired for years? Has she been programming aging into her virtual body?

Tachibana takes Ren’s existence in The Wired as proof that humans can shed their physical forms and become immortal beings in The Wire—*sigh* A villain who wants immortality now too? Could you guys spare some creativity for five seconds, please?

Soon after, they hear Ren’s voice as she’s been listening this whole time through the computers in the facility. She starts freaking out because she just learned that she was dead in the real world and has no way of returning nor can she stay with her brother. She starts blowing up the place…because the facility had…bombs everywhere? I don’t know. Movie logic. Anything with wires can blow up.

Toru’s frozen in shock and sadness and we fade out on Ren’s music box.

Episode 4:

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Our finale starts off with Toru sitting in shock and grief at the events that have unfolded around him, but Bachelor knows that they have to get out of there as soon as possible because either the explosions or VSS will kill them both. He tries to move Toru on his own…..oh and his bullet wound and blood stain magically disappear and never reappears. That’s some grade-A consistency.

He eventually does get Toru out and back to the car, but the car is self-driving and is quickly taken over by Ren. She causes the car to crash, but Bachelor and Toru are unharmed.

We then see that Ren’s Leviathan is completely taking over everything in The Wired, which is causing chaos and destruction in the real world.

The Fei Dao group is watching Leviathan consume everything and everyone in The Wired, and Genha, being so ridiculously evil, purposely kicks Akira into the blackness while laughing evilly. He actually seems really happy that Leviathan is consuming The Wired. We get it. He’s evil. Either give him a mustache to twirl or shut up about it.

Thus we are introduced to another big inconsistency/plot hole. Earlier, and several times, they have stated that merely looking at the Leviathan or coming into contact with it causes instant death via head explosion – hence the head explosions in the very first scene of the series. Yet, despite the fact that the Leviathan is consuming everything in The Wired, including people, no one’s dying. Their physical bodies are merely going into comas while whispering Ren’s words. The VSS soldiers manning the firewalls are dying, but no one else. How and why did this change? Why is it only targeting specific people? Did they not want to commit to such a huge body count? Did they think it would make Ren look bad despite the fact that she can’t control Leviathan? That seems like a pretty big issue to overlook, especially considering that Leviathan is a lot stronger than it was in the first scene.

I get that she’d definitely, even just subconsciously, want the VSS soldiers dead for obvious reasons, but why does it seem like the Leviathan is more reasonable and merciful now that it’s entirely out of control? How did this series actually manage to LOWER the stakes?

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Lian picks up Bachelor and Toru on her motorcycle as we see more chaos and destruction in the real world around them. Bachelor says they should go to Flak headquarters as they’re likely one of the few places still with access to The Wired in safe areas. He believes that he can take down Leviathan, but has no clue what will happen to Ren’s consciousness if they go through with it.

They get to Flak headquarters and Bachelor uses the data he gathered from VSS to formulate a plan. The experiments had self-destruct viruses implanted in their matrices to control them if they ever got out of hand. He plans to trigger the self-destruct sequence in Leviathan by creating a virus and using Lian’s matrix pattern or whatever, which is similar to Ren’s, to trick Ren’s matrix into accepting the virus. Even the final solution is just finding a way to implant a virus into the big technobaddie. They‘re really determined to bring nothing new to the table.

While this is seen as a brilliant plan, Toru still wonders what will happen to Ren. Before Bachelor can answer, if he even has an answer, the higher ups in Flak burst in and break up the party. The leader of Flak, the slimy idiot one I’ve yet to mention, not the one who usually monitors the group, is outraged that they’re using their reserve resources in such an emergency without permission. The good leader guy says they’re working to defeat Leviathan but the slimy guy says he’s received a request from VSS to capture Leviathan alive and he’s shutting down any effort to kill it. There’s no real reason why he’s going along with this, he’s just a stupid idiot who has the hots for Tachibana. But don’t worry, good guy leader dude punches him out and the plan’s back on! That sure was a nice waste of time.

Before they head off, good leader dude gives Toru the key to Ayane’s cell and tells him to let her out in order to have her help them fight. He doesn’t want to, but does anyway. Ayane just sits in silence and he angrily throws the key towards her as he leaves. Gee, I wonder if she’ll show up in the last second to save Toru from some threat to ‘redeem’ her character.

Toru and the others head into The Wired to start their mission. Bachelor puts the virus program into Toru’s pendant, and upon activation it will become a knife.

They start their mission to get through to Leviathan’s core, but they run into VSS soldiers who are protecting it. So, of course, the throwaway characters have to ‘hold them off’ until Toru can infect Leviathan. I should also mention that Toru kills several of the VSS soldiers before heading off. Hy.Po.Crite.

Toru makes his way through to Leviathan’s core, but is stopped by Genha who has merged with the Leviathan to make some weird mutated Genha monster thing. No idea why or how, but there he is.

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How is it possible that he somehow looks LESS evil now?

He also calls Toru ‘Big Brother’ so….I have no idea what’s going on with these people. Does he mean literally, is he mocking Ren, or do they just take their group of experiments as siblings? Bachelor never refers to him as ‘brother.’

Genha does his evil psycho bit and fights with Toru. He grabs him and tries to fuse the Leviathan with Toru, but—what’s that? It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a predictable hero moment! Ayane charges in to save Toru and since we’re nearing the end, we’ll see what purpose the rape scene had.

Spoiler alert: there was none.

…..Yeah, nothing was affected whatsoever in the character or story because of the rape scene. One could say it made Ayane more determined to take Genha down, but that’s really flimsy. The scene where she charges after Genha here and the one where she does the same in episode two are essentially identical barring the environments. She was already insanely driven to kill Genha because he killed her brother. There was no way to make her noticeably more determined to take down Genha than she already was. What would be the point anyway? Is the murder of a loved one not enough justification? Was this just a really sleazy way of making the audience more invested in this revenge plot? Because wow.

You could also say that it was to illustrate how evil Genha is, but we had a pretty damn good idea. That is literally his entire character – evil dude. It’s not like his mannerisms alone aren’t as subtle as a flaming brick to the groin. Dude kicked Akira into the abyss earlier just for funsies. He’s hardly Mr. Rogers. You could’ve flashed back to Yuusuke being killed and showed how viciously he was murdered or how much joy Genha got from it. Hell, we never actually see Yuusuke’s death. That would’ve been a fitting scene to show. And if you needed some spare runtime, I know of a drawn out rape scene that could’ve been removed.

In conclusion, the rape scene was gratuitous, pointless and awful for sake of awful. You fail on so many levels it’s actually impressive, BALDR FORCE EXE Resolution.

Also, there’s no resolution to the thing with Yuya either, at least in terms of him and Ayane. She never even once talks about it. Toru doesn’t make any effort to talk to her about it besides yelling how she’s a murderer who will pay for what she’s done while beating her in the head.

So.

There’s no resolution.

To the initial conflict.

Of BALDR FORCE EXE Resolution.

Toru doesn’t want to take help from her, but he has no choice so he runs off to infect Leviathan while Ayane fights Genha.

Toru’s really close to the core, but Tsukina starts holding him back. He tries to wiggle free, but the blackness attacks him.

Meanwhile, back with Ayane and Genha, Genha has a ridiculous upper hand and even slices a couple of Ayane’s simulacrum’s limbs off. Genha tries to get her to merge with the Leviathan, but she manages to get the strength to lift her gun and shoot Genha a bunch of times. You’d think getting rid of the gun would be a priority for him. Hell, when he first fought her he took away her simulacrum entirely.

As Genha dies and she falls away, she cries as she says “I’m sorry.” I…cannot make heads or tails of why she said this. Is she apologizing to Genha? Why? That’s the one guy she’s wanted to kill more than anything else. He killed her brother, tortured and raped her. Is she apologizing to Yuusuke? Why? She just avenged him.

Toru’s stuck in a hallucination caused by the Leviathan where he’s back with Steppen Wolf and even Ren’s still alive. The first hallucination takes place in their old hacker hang out but quickly cuts to the beach where we see a panning shot of Ren in a bikini. Wow, you’re one sick puppy, Toru. Ren points out his pendant and asks if she can wear it, but being reminded of the pendant makes Toru remember that it was a memento of Yuya when he died.

This causes the hallucination to shift to some room filled with gears. Visions of his old friends appear, and they, especially Yuya, prompt him to fight off the hallucination. Yuya tells him that he needs to move on and do what he needs to do. He’s dead, Ren’s dead and there’s no way for them to return, but Toru is still alive and he has a chance to live his life and have a future yadda yadda.

The pendant turns into a knife, and Halu-Yuya walks behind them, holds Toru’s knife hand and stabs it into him, causing him to wake up. He finds himself in front of the core—wait where did Tsukina go? She was holding him before the Leviathan attacked.

He approaches the core and it’s just a big ball thing with a giant red “this is the weak spot” bubble on the front. Inside the red bubble is Ren who soon mutates the front of the core to look like a giant Ren. As it approaches Toru, he hallucinates again. This time he’s alone with Ren in some weird dark warehouse. He walks towards Ren and it’s like they edited out the rest of the shot of him walking because it fades from him taking a few steps to him being right in front of her. This was probably intentional, but it looked really strange.

As they’re having their sweet little moment, Ren bites off Toru’s fingers…..well, owwwww. Her face mutates further as some kind of monster and bites off Toru’s leg and bites into his shoulder.

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In The Wired…wait, how does hallucinating while in The Wired work?….Hm. Continuing, in The Wired, his simulacrum keeps getting attacked in the various places that his hallucination keeps getting bit, but it’s really just a bunch of tentacles wrapping around his limbs.

He manages to grab his pendant, which turns into the knife, and stabs Ren through the chest/stabs Leviathan through the weak spot.

As the virus takes effect, we cut back to the same flower field where he first reunited with Ren. She’s telling Toru not to worry because she’s no longer lonely. She’s happy now and can finally move on. She disappears and the end credits run, but that’s not quite the end. We have an under-credits epilogue.

Tachibana is rummaging through her stuff in disbelief that Leviathan was destroyed, but she claims she can make another with the information on some disk….which raises just a whole ton of questions, but I think I’ll spare you and my brain that particularly session of mental gymnastics. Quon corners her in her office with a gun. Tachibana reaches for her own gun, but Quon shoots her before she can grab it and crushes the disk.

The rest of the epilogue’s kinda blah. We see that the city is still shrouded in smoke, but the news crews are still broadcasting. Apparently there was no massive loss of life, just a massive loss of data….oh and all that horrific damage to the city that apparently isn’t worth reporting. However, the cause is being reported as an experiment gone awry by VSS and Tachibana, which, yeah. I sincerely doubt the government wouldn’t try to cover that up, though. When’s the last time the government fucked up so breathtakingly royally and they were all ‘Yeah, that was totally our bad, guys. We accept full responsibility. Here’s exactly what went wrong and who did it.”?

We see more flowers on Yuusuke’s grave and Ayane in a wheelchair leaving the cemetery. I guess when she got her simulacrum’s limbs ripped off, it caused a similar effect to her physical body? I will never understand the exact connection between a person’s physical body and their virtual presence in The Wired. How did so many of those people survive the Leviathan’s attack with little to no side-effects but Ayane ended up paralyzed?

Really great ending to her story, by the way. Her brother is viciously murdered, she’s horrendously raped by the murderer, nearly beaten to death by Toru, and then she heroically saves him and winds up disabled because of it. But she totally deserved all of it because she killed a perceived terrorist while he was trying to steal highly confidential military information after they warned people that doing so may result in lethal force being used, which is a given anyway if you ask me. Top notch writing right there. How has this not won awards?

Tsukina is working at “WeDonald’s” (Personally I’ve always been fond of Inuyasha’s WacDonald’s), Akira’s apparently a computer repairman now, Bachelor…eats ice cream, comic relief lech guy gets promoted….for some reason….He did nothing notable, I really don’t know why that happened. Toru fondly remembers Ren in the flower field and we end.

Art: The art is just okay and some instances are fairly bad. The animation is the same way, although there are some moments where the animation is really janky (like ‘I can see which parts of this character will move because others are seemingly part of the background’ bad spots) The simulacrums and some other aspects in The Wired are CGI and it’s fairly unimpressive CGI. I’d say it’s bad, but not horrible. It just clashes quite a bit with everything else.

Music: The OP is great and the ED is pretty good. The BG music is fairly forgettable.

Voice Acting: Mm, not some of your best work Funimation. The voice acting is in no way bad. Ren got on my nerves a lot, but everyone else was good. As much as I hate to admit this, Genha probably had the best voice acting. He really went all in. The dialogue was a bit hokey sometimes, but I’m not sure how much I can fault Funimation for that.

Bottomline: The initial plot is basically dropped entirely halfway through in lieu of a completely different plot. Toru does say he’ll deal with Ayane later when she fights Genha, but we never see what he does. Kinda hard to root for him if he does end up doing anything to her. Like, whoo yeah, Toru, you go get that……paralyzed rape survivor…You can do it, champ.

Genha is one of the most ridiculous villains I’ve ever seen. There’s a horrific borderline hentai-level rape scene included for no reason. Much of the story is either riddled in plot holes or just makes no sense. What does make sense in this story is usually quite unoriginal and cliché without any style or substance to make up for it. The characters are uninteresting with many of them feeling like token archetypes. Toru is not a strong enough main character to carry this show. In fact, he’s just an awful person/character entirely. At his absolute best, he’s bland. At his absolute worst, he’s unlikable and someone you can’t root for or sympathize with much at all.

I really feel like this is one of those ‘Good ideas, terrible execution’ deals (Hahaha, execution. EXE. Ahaha computer joke.) There are a couple interesting ideas when you weed away the negativity, and I love the largely exaggerated views of hacker gangs, those are always fun, but this show just didn’t pull it off in any way. It’s sloppy, there’s no fun or heart in it, and it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. There are much better similar shows out there that you could be watching.

Additional Information and Notes: BALDR FORCE EXE Resolution was based on the 2D action shooter/eroge (what a surprise) game, Baldr Force. The name of the OVA was changed to simply Baldr Force EXE (I never learned what that title even means, by the way. The Wiki is no help in that department either.) when Funimation dubbed it. It was directed by Takashi Yamazaki, produced by Satelight and it is currently licensed in North America by Funimation.

Also, apparently, this OVA series was listed in book “500 Essential Anime Movies” written by Helen McCarthy citing it as “The story is simple, but has plenty of well crafted CGI action.” Going to have to agree to disagree there, Ms. McCarthy. Also, what exactly constitutes as ‘essential’ here? Because that description doesn’t make it sound very essential.

Year: 2006-2007

Episodes: 4

Recommended Audience: Definitely not for kids. There’s no swearing is about the least I can say. People’s heads explode, many people get killed though many deaths occur in The Wired, there’s a graphic rape scene, other scenes of gore, nudity in the credits. 17+


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The Ridiculous Mess that is BALDR FORCE EXE Resolution (Episodes 1 and 2 of 4)

Plot: A virtual world called The Wired (…..Someone watched Serial Experiments Lain.) is so big that it’s basically taken over the physical world as well. A small hacker group in The Wired called Steppen Wolf consisting of their leader Yuya, our main character Toru, the screw-off Akira and the token girl Tsukina, is about to break up. As one final hurrah, they decide to do a harmless hack into one of The Wired’s top military units, Flak. However, Flak takes it as a cyber-terrorist attempt and launches a huge assault on the group.

Since people are so strongly connected to their physical bodies in their virtual ones, Yuya ends up dying at the hands of one of the Flak soldiers while Toru, Tsukina and Akira are arrested. Toru is given the option to use his hacking skills as a Flak soldier to avoid jail time. He takes the offer purely to find out which Flak soldier killed Yuya and exact revenge. However, there’s a much larger, confusing and poorly paced story behind it all…..Most of which not even involving this plot.

Breakdown: I….don’t know what happened to this show. This series is like watching a car drive down hill when you can clearly see a big oil slick about halfway down. The driver’s not paying attention, you don’t notice it until it’s too late and then you can’t help but watch the car spin out of control, crash into a light pole and burst into flames.

This is one of those shows that needs the ol’ episode by episode breakdown treatment, and since it’s only four episodes I feel I can do without eating up too much of your time. Nice and easy down the hill, let’s talk about episode one.

Episode 1:

While in The Wired a bunch of soldiers from VSS track something while in their virtual mechas called simulacrums. A massive blackness soon appears and starts attacking the soldiers. Almost instantly,their heads start exploding. People in The Wired are so strongly connected to their physical bodies that pretty much anything they experience in their virtual bodies, including death, carries over to their physical ones.

After that, we cut to our main character Toru Sohma…..I would say that’s a Fruits Basket sorta-reference but that’s a reach if I ever saw one. He’s pretty darn forgettable. Especially for the main protagonist. He’s actually kinda grating. We know he’s a nice guy, but he’s really rude and abrasive.

Toru flashes back to Yuya proclaiming that he’s splitting up their hacker group, Steppen Wolf, for some reason, I forget, and that they’re going to have one last hurrah by hacking Flak, the military’s security detail of The Wired. However, they get caught and are assumed to be cyber-terrorists. In response to the perceived threat, Flak starts attacking. One of them kills Yuya by killing his virtual body in the simulacrum.

Toru is obsessed with catching Yuya’s killer, even though he doesn’t know the killer’s identity. All he knows is what their simulacrum looks like. Flak likes Toru’s hacking talents so they offer him a deal – he can avoid prison time for his work as a hacker if he can put his skills to good use as a Flak soldier. Toru agrees, but not really because he wants to avoid jail time – he wants to track down Yuya’s killer from the inside and exact vengeance. The catch is that he doesn’t know what the killer looks like. They were in their simulacrum at the time, so he only knows them by their simulacrum’s appearance.

It’s understandable that he’d be angry about his good friend’s death and would want revenge, it’s only human nature, but given that we know the situation….it creates a very gray area.

Was it right for the Flak soldier to kill Yuya? Well, it’s hard to say. They could’ve restrained him, or found another way, but considering how real The Wired is and how much of an impact it can have on the real world and knowing what I now know about the killer, I can see why they’d do it.

Yuya and the others were trying to hack into a huge military security mainframe – just for kicks, mind you. I can’t say they didn’t know the risks. The soldiers could’ve handled it better, but they were probably just following orders against what was perceived as cyber-terrorists, which given the conditions of this world, are basically the same as real-life terrorists. It’s like a bunch of punks trying to break into the Pentagon to steal classified documents while carrying automatic rifles and wearing full body armor and one of them gets killed because duh. Doesn’t mean it’s not tragic, but what did they honestly expect would happen?

Toru joins up, and of course he’s not following any orders from the second he walks in the door and their leader is perfectly fine with this because Toru’s just following his own path or whatever. He meets his teammates Glasses Girl, Pervy Dude and Whore. Say hi and bye because they never impact the plot so I’ll probably never really mention them again.

He also meets the stoic Ayane who kinda matters.

A hacker group called Fei Dao soon strikes, and Toru finds this to be the perfect opportunity to see which Flak soldier has Yuya’s killer’s simulacrum. They enter The Wired to fight off the threat, and Toru quickly becomes upset because he can’t find the right simulacrum. But no time for that, battle is commencing. While the others fight around him, Toru is shocked that people are actually dying around hi—Wait, he really didn’t know that you could die in The Wired and that Flak has sent out death threats to people who threaten national security through The Wired before Yuya was killed? I call BS. No way a hacker of all things never knew that. I refuse to believe that never made the news, wasn’t common hacker knowledge, or was never an Internet rumor or something.

He sucks at what he’s doing because he’s not trained in combat and he’s too preoccupied trying to find Yuya’s killer, so the others have to save him. When he finally decides to pay attention he….kills a hacker…..Wow….you’re a hypocrite. There’s no getting around that. Who the hell can sympathize with him now?

Ayane’s also looking for someone during battle (two revenge plots, really?) but has no luck as Fei Dao retreats.

Later, we see that Flak and another group of military security in The Wired, the aforementioned VSS, are preparing to merge their forces because….Flak is incompetent? But they won the last battle. Oh whatever. They’re lead by Tachibana, who totally won’t turn out to be evil. Promise.

They meet their new VSS teammates, and Toru is shocked to see Tsukina has, I guess, also joined in a deal to avoid prison by joining VSS.

You may be wondering what the difference is between Flak and the VSS.

Well….

Their reunion is short lived, however, because she’s actually super excited and stuff about being in VSS and working with Toru again, but Toru can’t believe she’d make light of the situation, even if that is the healthiest way to approach it, really. I mean, yeah, she should be sad that Yuya died, but I don’t see why she’d bring that up right there. Also, why not make light of it besides that? Not like revenge will bring back Yuya. Not like stating such a thing in front of the group of people that contains said killer would be smart. Why not enjoy the fact that you avoided prison and got a fairly good deal doing something that you basically enjoy? She has even more reason to be happy considering her team isn’t the one with the Yuya murderer on it. He leaves the room to go into The Wired because he likes The Wired a lot more than the real world.

In The Wired, he meets a strange loli-character (complete with giant pink ribbon!) in a field who calls him ‘brother’. Dun Dun dunnnnnnnnnnnnn.

Episode 2:

Nothing much is built on the ending scene of episode one. We are eventually introduced to some faceless hacker kid named Bachelor (Weird name. Especially for a kid. Even if that’s just a username.) who is hacking Flak to communicate with Toru in the cafeteria. We learn really nothing about him except he’s an old acquaintance of Toru’s and Steppen Wolf and that he’s apparently a super awesome hacker way above their skill level. He doesn’t appreciate that Toru’s working for Flak now.

Later, a training session shows how well the VSS and Flak teams work together on a mission. Toru runs off before his cue because it’s established that he just doesn’t follow rules, and this is allowed by his superiors because it’s been established that they’re stupid.

Toru gets in a snag because he left too early and then wonders where his backup is because he’s an idiot. However, the VSS team, including Tsukina, soon start attacking the Flak soldiers during the simulation and I guess this is just brushed off as unclear orders……What? Unclear orders? How stupid do you have to be to think that a teamwork exercise means ‘shoot the unholy crap out of the people you’re trying to team up with’? Especially considering that, even if it’s just a training simulation, they’re still in The Wired and they can all still DIE. Not even the Flak leader is upset at this, he just brushes it off because it’s a training exercise.

It’s made fairly clear at this point that VSS is controlling Tsukina, and probably the other VSS soldiers, through mind control.

Later, Toru is having fond memories back in The Wired in this flower field that he seems to frequent when he sees the loli-girl from before again. She brings him to a virtual amusement park where they have a great time enjoying a typical romantic comedy date thing. The day ends as they enjoy some drinks, but an alarm pops up stating that they’ve spent too much time in The Wired and they need to log out to avoid overtaxing their physical bodies. The girl, named Ren Mizusaka, her name is something I’ll need to ponder later, doesn’t want him to go, but he says he’ll visit whenever he has time.

Cut to a mausoleum where Ayane is bringing her deceased brother, Yuusuke, some flowers.

Fei Dao attacks again, but Toru can’t go off to battle due to the fact that he’s already spent most of the day in The Wired. This time they’re attacking with stronger force, which means I now have the brain-bleeding ‘honor’ of introducing you to the most ridiculous over-the-top bad guy ever; Genha.

Look at him.

Look at his stupid face.

He’s actually going “Ooowaggghhh” during this shot. I’m not kidding.

Genha is a crazy psychopath with a pointed tongue and fangs, because subtly is for losers, who loves nothing more than viciously killing and torturing people while laughing maniacally. I wish I could say there’s more to his character, but nope. They just basically decided that they’d make the most annoying almost comically ridiculous psychopathic villain ever. He has no story, no nothing. He is specifically designed to be as despicable as the realms of human understanding will allow.

So of course he’s killing Flak soldiers left and right, and wouldn’t ya know it? Genha is the guy who Ayane was looking for. Genha killed her brother who was another Flak soldier and she’s out for revenge. Well, surely this stoic, cold blooded, silent warrior type would calmly approach the situation and reasonably find some way to take him dow—Or she can charge at him head first with no backup while screaming wildly. That works too.

Genha and Fei Dao jam their communications so their supervising units can’t see them and they can’t see what’s around them. Well, surely this calls for calmly contemplating a new plan to see or detect the enem—Or you can shoot wildly in every direction while screaming and possibly hurting or killing your allies in the process. That works too.

Surprisingly, this doesn’t work and Genha drags Ayane without her simulacrum into a private server of his own creation..…

………Where he viciously and graphically rapes her.

………Okay, look, makers of any storytelling medium ever, it is possible to do rape scenes ‘correctly’ as long as it actually impacts the plot or character in a way that isn’t completely stupid or pointless. Even scenes like this that are as graphic as you can get without getting into hentai territory can be utilized in a manner that is not gratuitous. Tread lightly, however, for failure to do so may make it look like you just threw it in there to be disgusting, perverted horrible assholes who use rape for shock value.

Guess which route this series took.

I should mention how downright disturbing this rape scene is – and before anyone chimes in, yes this is actual rape despite taking place in The Wired. They’re so connected to their virtual bodies in The Wired that they feel everything that goes on while logged in, and they can and do die in there in there all the time. Before this went down, we saw about three Flak soldiers getting viciously murdered both in The Wired and out through their heads exploding, stabs in the neck and gunfire. However, that’s not what makes this rape scene particularly horrifying.

While raping her, Genha is physically merging his virtual form with hers (literally) in various ways which is obviously causing her intense pain in the real world and looks downright grotesque and vile. Without getting too graphic myself, an example would be when he first starts molesting her he’s wrapping his hands around her stomach and chest under her skin. And later when he’s groping her breasts, he forces his hands to fuse with them and into her chest.

Toru realizes that she’s going through something really horrific, but they can’t find her on any server. While they look for her, Toru decides to go save her himself.

They eventually find where she is, and Toru rushes to help her. Meanwhile, one of Genha’s associates comes to protect Genha. Why? I don’t know. Later we’re meant to sympathize with these guys, but I don’t see how anyone could like anyone who knows what kind of guy Genha is and just let him do whatever he pleases. Vicious murder, torture, rape. It’s all good, isn’t it, you pricks? I would’ve just let him get caught by Flak and die.

Toru arrives to save Ayane but is shocked to find that the guy protecting Genha and working with Fei Dao is his other old Steppen Wolf buddy, Akira. Why? Because, hell, I don’t know. I guess we just needed one Steppen Wolf member in literally every group in this damn show. They’re only there to give him emotional connection to each group as they really don’t do much plot-wise. Even in terms of them being old friends with him, there’s seriously not much there. Also, does that mean Akira’s a fugitive? Fei Dao’s certainly no military group that could’ve offered him immunity.

Ayane is having an emotional breakdown and calls her simulacrum back up even though Genha stated she shouldn’t have been able to do that on his private server, which is how she was trapped in the first place, but okay. She goes insane with rage and start strangling Akira’s simulacrum. And, wouldn’t ya know it, hers is the same simulacrum that killed Yuya!

What a twist! If I cared, this might impact me in some way!

….And hey that also makes no sense! Toru and Ayane have fought side by side at least a couple of times by now. Unless her simulacrum randomly changed between then and now, this makes no sense.

This isn’t even a good twist when you think about it. It had already been established that the killer was a Flak soldier. Despite being introduced to four Flak members, only three of them actually enter The Wired, so Glasses Girl is already out because she’s a supervisor person. And boy, I wonder which one of the soldiers left could be the killer? The comic relief lech, the comic relief floozy or the stoic, cold lady bent on fighting and nothing else? Hmmmmm.

Not like Ayane and Toru had become good friends or anything, either. She was mostly ambivalent to his existence, same with him.

————————————–

Well, that was the first half of this mess. Considering what we’ve already been through, the second half can only be better, right?

Part 2 (Episodes 3 and 4) Coming soon!


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AniManga Clash! Yu-Gi-Oh! Season Zero Episode 9: Explosion! Yo-Yo Ultimate Technique/Manga Chapters 48-49 (Notes on 11-12)

Plot: Jonouchi is showing off his awesome yoyo skills, but he’s halted when a boy named Nezumi rains on his parade. He hates yoyos because a group of thugs with yoyos attacked him the previous day. Jonouchi and Yugi declare that they’ll help him get revenge on the yoyo-ing thugs, but quickly find out that it’s a trap laid by Jonouchi’s old comrade turned enemy, Hirutani.

He wants Jonouchi back on his side, and he’s willing to do anything to achieve his goals, including trying to kill Yugi.

Breakdown: In typical fashion, anything involving Miho is 100% anime exclusive. This week, she expresses interest in the yoyo, but Honda tells her not to do it because he’s afraid she’ll…get hurt and die?

However, Honda is actually in the first scene where Jonouchi is messing around with his yoyo. Like always, manga-wise, though, he’s just kinda there. In the anime, he catches Jonouchi’s yoyo to make him stop. In the manga, Nezumi made him stop by yelling at him and explaining his story.

Nezumi doesn’t seem to exist in Season Zero, unless he’s that guy who gets attacked in the cold open, but he doesn’t look a thing like he does in the manga if it is meant to be him.

Let me get this out of the way, yes, the concept of this story is super goofy even for Yu-Gi-Oh. The concept of a yoyo gang is about as silly as the bicycle gang in Pokemon, but at least they were plausible, especially since they were on a stretch of road that was meant only for bikes. A gang that mainly uses yoyos as a weapon? I mean, yeah they’d hurt if they hit you, but they’re certainly not the most efficient weapons in existence – most notably because, once they hit their target they usually stop spinning, meaning you have to manually yank them back and manually wind the string back up to throw it again.

Can someone please explain to me why they live in a world where elementary school students are whipping out switchblades and uzis but one of the most feared near adult age gangs in town wields a bunch of yoyos?

Since Nezumi doesn’t exist in this version, the reason Jonouchi wants to go out to challenge the yoyo gang is because they’ve just been harassing people in general and he wants to put a stop to it. I kinda don’t mind this change because Nezumi gets away at the end of this arc in the manga and ultimately vanishes entirely. It’s clear that he was a willing participant in this, not threatened or blackmailed into luring them down there, so it’s a little disappointing that he never got comeuppance.

A very short scene of Yugi at home worrying about Jonouchi is not present in the manga.

From this point until the commercial break, pretty much everything is adapted from chapters 11-12, which I covered in the review of that arc. If you haven’t already, please go read that review. Not a ton is changed between versions, but it’s still a good idea to read that and check back here afterward.

This is still technically in regards to chapters 11-12, but Honda interrogates one of the Rintama gang members outside of the bar before going in. That’s not present in the anime. Additionally, when Yugi and the gang entered the bar, they found the gang member that hit Yugi on the ground, but Jonouchi is nowhere to be found. Fearing the worst, they all split up, but Yugi finds Jonouchi by asking the Puzzle to help him.

In the anime, they ask the bartender what’s up. He tells them that, if the gang is not at the bar, they’re likely either in a fight on the streets or in the warehouses, since that seems to be their base. The bartender notices that they’re Domino High students and tells them to avoid the Rintama gang because they recently coerced a Domino High student into joining them.

Yugi proclaims, out loud, that the bartender must be talking about Jonouchi and that he really was forced into joining back up with the gang.

Then possibly one of the stupidest things they ever could have done happens. Honda lies to the girls…again…and says Jonouchi is probably just hanging out with old friends. Miho happily agrees and says he’ll probably be back in school tomorrow. Anzu also agrees and says he’ll be back to swing around his silly yoyo like he was before. Then they leave.

……Are Anzu and Miho braindead? Are they deaf? They’ve been right next to Honda and Yugi during this whole conversation. They just heard the bartender say that the gang coerced a Domino High student to join them and Yugi proclaiming Jonouchi was forced into being a gang member….but Honda brushes it off like he’s just hanging around with old buddies and Miho and Anzu are like ‘Oh phew, that’s a relief. Let’s go home!’

Even if they, for reason, ate up this excuse without question, are they also forgetting that they saw Jonouchi being entirely complacent with the gang beating up some poor guy, the fact that Jonouchi said he didn’t know Yugi and the others and that he both said and did nothing when one of the gang punched Yugi in the face? You’re either ignoring or forgetting ALL of that and are just expecting him to be at school tomorrow like nothing happened? What the hell is wrong with you two?

The only reason I can see for them doing this is that they wanted the girls out of the picture so they could head to the warehouses and get Jonouchi back, but it was entirely unnecessary. What was wrong with the manga version where they split up to find Jonouchi and Yugi manages to find them with the Puzzle? If you need Honda to be there in the anime, just have them split up in teams of two and tell them to not engage with Hirutani and the gang without getting the others first, as they did in the manga.

This scene just serves to make Anzu and Miho look like oblivious idiots and all for the purpose of ‘gurlz kant b envolvd n sumthing soooo danguriss!!’ Even though they have been involved in a multitude of dangerous things, so this just seems pointless even in canon.

When Honda and Yugi arrive at the warehouse, they try to convince Jonouchi to come with them, explaining that they know he was forced to join the gang, but Jonouchi stands firm against their claim and says he’s with them by choice and is sick of his life adhering to rules and pretending to be their friend.

Honda presents the band to Jonouchi, pleading with him to remember their friendship. Jonouchi drops the band on the floor, steps on it and punches Honda in the stomach.

The next day, Honda and Yugi head to Rintama High. Honda challenges Hirutani to a fight – if he wins, Jonouchi goes free. Hirutani agrees and whips out his yoyo….his yoyo with retractable spikes…. Ya know, between this episode’s gimmick and the last episode with the fully realistic adult woman marionette being controlled by a dude behind a curtain with two pieces of wood, I’m really just finding my footing in the marvelous insanity of this series. I’m not kidding, it’s a hilariously fun ride when it’s not being miserable.

By the way, Hirutani doesn’t even have his own yoyo in the manga.

Honda gets felled rather quickly, and when Hirutani throws his yoyo for a final blow, Yugi steps in the way. His Puzzle deflects the yoyo back at Hirutani, cutting his face.

Hirutani is not happy about this, so he ties up Yugi in the warehouse and has his goons relentlessly wail on Yugi. In the manga, both Jonouchi and Yugi (With Nezumi) had entered the warehouse and when Yugi got jumped they literally hung him by his Puzzle. Jonouchi had to concede to Hirutani or else Yugi would die.

Jonouchi enters the warehouse and tells Yugi once more that he shouldn’t keep pursuing him. With a flick of his yoyo (….That sounded dirty) he seemingly tries to attack Yugi, but ends up hitting one of the guys who was beating him up instead. Jonouchi challenges Hirutani for going back on their deal. He said if Jonouchi joined their gang, he’d leave his friends alone, but now that he’s broken that promise, Jonouchi wants to take Hirutani down.

The other gang members surround Jonouchi with their yoyos, which is also what happens in the manga. I assume all of their yoyos are metal and not plastic, so they’d definitely hurt being hit by them, but in each version Hirutani’s acting like it’d be absolute torture to walk through the hail of yoyos. Yeah, it’d hurt, but again, once they’d hit their target, they’d fall. And, really, how insulting would that be to their friendship? “Yeah, I love ya, Yug, but I ain’t getting smacked with a few yoyos to save yer life. Deuces!”

Admittedly, it is extremely sweet when, in both versions, Jonouchi braves the yoyo storm and tries to protect Yugi, but you really have to focus on the fact that he’s being nearly beaten to death and ignoring the fact that the weapon of choice is a bunch of yoyos. The manga is more dramatic and sweet, in my opinion, though.

In the manga, Jonouchi saves Yugi by giving him a boost and allowing the Puzzle’s rope to gain enough slack to be removed from the hook. Jonouchi then asks to borrow the Puzzle and spins it in front of the yoyos, getting the strings tangled up with the Puzzle and stopping their assault. He then takes their yoyo strings and hooks them up to the hanging hook, lifting them up in the air by their fingers, which is insanely dangerous, but also quite easy to get out of.

In the anime, Hirutani tries to shoot his spiked yoyo at Jonouchi, which gives Jonouchi the opening he needs to throw his own yoyo, deflecting Hirutani’s yoyo and….somehow…Jonouchi’s yoyo slices the rope and frees Yugi.

Sooo….is Jonouchi’s yoyo super sharp or is this just stupid?

Once Yugi is freed, Jonouchi is knocked down by a swift strike to the back of his head via one of the bigger gang members. This finally prompts Yugi to transform into Yami. Jesus, Yami, what took you so long? It took him the same amount of time to transform in the manga, but still, why did it take so long?

In both the anime and the manga, the other gang members chase after Yami, who has escaped to the roof. Yami reveals that he also, for some reason, has a yoyo, and he has some rad skillz with it.

Shadow Game (Kinda)

Yami challenges the thugs to a game. Whoever is the last one on the roof wins. Yami runs from the gang, simply grazing the roof with his yoyo as he runs around and dodging the strikes of the gang, who are also frequently hitting the roof when they miss Yami. They corner Yami on the roof and proclaim that they’ve won. However, Yami turns the table on them and directs their attention to the roof below their feet. It’s rusted and old metal, easily punctured with a yoyo, but it will soon crumble beneath their weight. Yami is supported on the corner beam of the warehouse, but the thugs aren’t so lucky and fall through the roof.

This game is exactly the same as it is in the manga….and yes, it’s just as silly. I mean, if the roof were THAT weak, they never should have been able to stand on it in the first place, let alone run around like it’s a basketball court.

Meanwhile, Jonouchi challenges Hirutani to a fist fight. Jonouchi is getting the better of Hirutani, but he plays dirty and throws BROKEN GLASS INTO JONOUCHI’S EYES. Geez. You’d think that would leave Jonouchi with lasting vision problems and maybe even blindness, but nope. He’s temporarily blinded but perfectly fine by the end of the chapter/episode…

In the manga, after Jonouchi struck Hirutani, causing him to hang from the ledge, Jonouchi was just fine. However, in the anime, he also falls for some reason. Honda saves him by throwing him the band, which he used to hang from the hook and return to the ledge. That sure was necessary.

In both versions, Jonouchi uses ‘Walk the dog’ (Or Jonouchi’s version “Let the Dog Out.”) on Hirutani’s fingers, causing him to fall. By the way, in Season Zero, you can clearly see that Jonouchi’s yoyo has ‘Made in USE’ written on it. Quality products always come from the United States of ‘Erica. (In the manga, it says ‘Made in the USA’)

In the manga, Jonouchi reunites with Yugi and proclaims that he’ll kick Nezumi’s ass if he ever sees him again and that’s the end of the chapter. In the anime, he thanks Honda for saving his life and Yugi happily returns affirming that Jonouchi would never change like that.

Meanwhile, back in school, Jonouchi tries his variant on ‘Around the World’ again, but this time he does it so fast that the wind causes Anzu and Miho’s skirts to fly up. They get pissed and Jonouchi runs off. The end.

—————————————-

Well, that was a bit complicated to compare, but as a whole….The manga does both stories better than the anime’s combination of the two. It’s to be expected. They’re not only merging four chapters but two stories into one episode, but it’s not just that. The little changes that they made that didn’t need to happen just made the story worse off, if you ask me.

That scene with Anzu and Miho is still irking me, and, overall, I feel like Honda’s presence was poorly written in this entire episode. It’s like they’re having Honda and Yugi struggle for the spot of Jonouchi’s best friend but no one will point out that Yugi’s obviously winning. It’s like they adapted the manga chapter pretty well and then the anime writers wrote on the script ‘Oh yeah, and Honda’s there too.’

The backstory they made for Jonouchi and Honda was just stupid. He passed off a band to Jonouchi in a track meet, which he was meant to do, Jonouchi won and they’ve been buddies ever since?….But they also don’t seem to be all that close? In the anime, Honda may fight people if need be, but he’s not a fellow ex-bully like Jonouchi. He’s a rule-abiding, strict goodie-two-shoes. The only thing we really know about Honda’s past is that he aimed to be class president but didn’t get the role.Those two would never hang out pre-Jonouchi’s attitude change, but yeah, I totally believe that pink track band is a huge emotional symbol of their friendship.

In the manga, it makes more sense because Honda is an ex-thug like Jonouchi and hung around with him because he liked picking fights. He’s still a superfluous character, if you ask me, but his story makes more sense. In neither story does Honda play a big role outside of explaining Jonouchi’s family situation, for the most part, and Jonouchi’s past with Hirutani, and that’s all he really needs to do.

Instead, he’s jammed in here like broken glass in Jonouchi’s non-blind eyes. Reading the manga alongside watching the anime really makes that moment when Honda saves Jonouchi stick out like a sore thumb as something that felt like it was tacked on. Did he even need that band? Wouldn’t it have been easier and more realistic to just grab the hook itself? How did he have time to both catch it and loop it on the hook without having time to just grab the hook? Would it even support his weight? How did Honda even throw it up that high? It’s a frickin’ band of fabric.

In addition, the more emotional moments were better in the manga, and I liked that it was moreso a great moment for Jonouchi and Yugi’s friendship instead of having Honda butt his nose into it. Like I said before, Honda can exist and Jonouchi can have more than Yugi as a friend, but Honda doesn’t have any purpose being as prominent as a character as he is in the anime.

I know this tirade seems contradictory given my statement in the review of chapters 11-12 where I praise them for giving Manga!Honda more story to work with, but that’s mostly because his presence so far in the manga has been to be set dressing. It’s nice to see him get a bit of an actual role in their dynamic, but as I’ve pointed out here, he doesn’t need to be anymore prominent than that. If Hanasaki, an objectively much better character, has to be dumped almost entirely, Honda can be mostly in the background too. Either that or give him more independence and agency as a character. Stop making him entirely reliant on those around him.

The yoyos make this whole story rather goofy, of course. I do think yo-yos are a fun weapon idea, and I’ve seen before in Yu Yu Hakusho and HunterxHunter, but there they were enhanced/created with supernatural abilities, not bought at Target in a three-pack for $9.99. They really easily could have just adapted the first story and been all the better off for it. It’s a much more dramatic story, and it’s pretty much the one they adapted outside of all the yoyo stuff and the psuedo-shadow game.

Or, here’s a thought, maybe try keeping both stories. Hirutani’s return, barring the silly yoyos, was well done. We needed a reprise for this storyline where Jonouchi actually comes out on top over his former comrade. The first story provided the backbone and the last story provided the payoff. It’s not like they don’t have filler episodes they can lose to squeeze it in there.

Another thing I didn’t care for was the way Jonouchi acted. In the manga, he has to struggle to restrain himself when Yugi is punched. He doesn’t even make it more than 10-15 minutes before he punches the guy who did it. That punch was more than enough to break their deal, and Jonouchi knew that.

In the anime, Yugi gets punched by the same gang member and he deals with it, even though that should have broken their deal. He socks Honda in the stomach, sending him to the ground and thinks nothing of it, which makes no sense. I get that he’s trying to convince them that he’s bad and to leave him alone, but he’s trying to save his friends from getting hurt and here he is punching one of them.

Next time….

Final Notes: Hirutani never once makes an appearance in the 2000 anime, nor is he referenced, but he does make an appearance in one of the video games. And when I found this out, I was kinda floored.

Hirutani is in the Dungeon Dice Monsters video game for the Game Boy Advance, only his name in that version, in the American release, is Diesel Kane. I love the Dungeon Dice Monsters video game, and I actually remembered that dude. It’s really cool that he’s not just some generic thug made for the game, but I wish they had explored this dynamic more in the actual game. All I remember and all the Wiki says is that the guy has a vendetta against Jonouchi, but you never find out what it is.

All of his gang members, both from the taser story and the yoyo story, are also in the game but they’re never given names.

Coincidentally, Nezumi also exists in the DDM game……..And his name is changed to…..Nibbles. Look, I get that both names are a reference to West Side Story, but that name is just as silly as a gang using yoyos as weapons.

Apparently, a ton of manga-exclusive characters are in DDM with funny names. For example, the escaped convict from the Burger World story is Jackpot, the old bald guy who owned the store Mokuba stole a Capsule Monsters machine from is Egger Baldwin, Kokurano (fortune-telling character we’ll meet later) is named Fortuno,Kujirada is named Beluga (Get it?! Because whale! He’s fat!….Again!) Sozoji is named Fender Shrill, and Hanasaki is named Lint Greendale…….LINT. His name is LINT! Hasn’t this kid been through enough without naming him Lint?

….Also, Yugi’s mother’s in DDM, which I didn’t remember at all. She doesn’t get a goofy name, but she is merely called ‘Yugi’s Mother.’ Like, guys, I assume she has a real name. At the very least, she’s Mrs. Muto…..


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Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) The Owl House

Plot: Luz is a self-proclaimed weirdo, and she usually has no problem showing it. However, those around her have problems with it, including her mother. While Luz’s interests and behaviors are generally harmless, though a bit chaotic, Luz’s mother urges her to just be normal. She even signs her up for a summer camp that emphasizes being normal as much as humanly possible and tells her to trash her weird stuff, including one of her favorite books on a fictional witch. Luz is not happy about this, but for the sake of her mom she decides to go along with it.

As she’s about to get picked up for summer camp, she’s lead away to a mysterious door that brings her to the Boiling Isles, a world where human things are a mysterious novelty and myths and monsters reign. She meets the Owl Lady, the great witch, Eda, who promises to bring her back home to her world if she helps her with a special task.

Breakdown: Cards on the table, I’m kinda cheating here. I’ve seen several episodes of The Owl House and have enjoyed every one I’ve caught. However, I’ve never seen the first episode, and Disney+ just got the series, so I’m not cheating too much here.

The Owl House does seem to work on a somewhat tired premise – kid who thinks they don’t belong finding a place they belong in a mysterious new world – but they do it with such a cool flair and a lot of clever writing that I won’t even ding it for that. I won’t lie, when Luz mentioned that one of the reasons that she’s weird is because she makes AMVs and writes fanfiction, I literally almost gasped at how eerily relatable that was to me when I was her age.

I will ding it a tiny bit for being too on-the-nose with their message – it’s okay to be weird and it’s wrong to punish people for their quirks. For most of the episode, it’s fine, but the start of the episode is just too much. Like, I get how they want us to like her mom, and it’s clear that she loves her, but she’s basically telling her daughter to her face that she’d love her much more if she just changed her entire personality and conformed in the most boring way possible. She also encouraged her to get rid of something as innocuous as a fantasy book about witches.

Everything else was really great, though. The writing is snappy, funny, clever and exciting, the characters are a bunch of fun, especially Eda, the art and environments are really cool, the animation is fluid and well done, Luz is easily identifiable and lovable, same for King, who has one of the coolest designs I’ve seen in a long time.

As an introduction episode, it does its job extremely well. You’re introduced to the premise, their universe and the characters in a natural manner that is paced very well. It doesn’t introduce some huge conflict or evil that will need to be addressed like many shows of this type tend to do. And, honestly, I prefer it that way. Not every show needs to make big promises it probably can’t keep anyway, and sometimes a more laid-back approach is better. This episode definitely leaves you wanting more either way. I look forward to finally watching every episode, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for The Owl House.

Continue Yes

Recommended Audience: It’s Disney so it’s nothing too bad, but they do show limbs and heads being cut off as non-graphically as you can, and they mention death a few times. 7+

Hell Girl: Three Vessels | Episode 20: The Hell Professor vs. Hell Girl Review

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Plot: Tsugumi, now an adult, finds herself the target of a Hell Girl client. Who is targeting her and why? Will she avoid the fate that comes with that dreaded string pull, or will her life be spared from the depths of hell?

Breakdown: There’s a lot to unpack with this one.

First of all, let us officially welcome back our girl, Tsugumi.

Second of all, let’s mourn the fact that Hajime seems to be basically officially gone now. Tsugumi talks about him like he’s dead, the professor dude never seeks to contact Hajime himself, and Tsugumi goes on about how she’s tired of being alone. Still don’t know what happened to him or, more to the point, why the writers chose to dust him and completely gloss over it. He was a major character all throughout season one. You can’t just do him dirty like that.

Third of all, hip hip hooray, it’s the first time in quite a while that Yuzuki has had so much screentime.

Fourth of all, pbbbtttt, she’s still not doing anything. You’d think she’d have more impact in what is, by far, the most interesting and plot-centric episode of the season so far…..but nope.

Yuzuki is basically a living bad reaction channel on Youtube. Most of the time she says nothing and the rest of the time she’s giving meaningless responses that are neither entertaining nor insightful. She’s also being kinda annoying in that same way Hajime used to be annoying, but worse. She acts like the Hell Team are terrible people who don’t think about the consequences of their actions in sending people to hell.

Tsugumi is much more interesting than Yuzuki in this episode. She can still see and sense things related to Hell Girl, which is how she knew she was a Hell Girl target without anyone telling her. She alludes to a vague past ‘sin’ that she is guilty of. She’s, for some reason, completely resigned to her fate as a victim of Hell Correspondence. In fact, she’s pretty much welcoming it, seeing it as a fitting fate for her. You can also interpret it as her longing to see Hajime again, if the theories of him being in hell are accurate.

Despite the fact that she avoided her previous ‘fate’ she is very firm in the idea that no one can avoid their fates, thus Yuzuki is destined to be the new Hell Girl no matter what. But, this just in,

Finally, we have some interesting theories involving Hell Correspondence brought to you by the client of the week, Shogo Mizorogi.

Mizorogi is a famous and incredibly skilled mathematician who has been researching Hell Girl for years. When he was a child, his mother sent his abusive father to hell. A couple years later, his mother also vanished, seemingly being another Hell Girl target.

He became fascinated by the concept of hell when his formula, the Mizorogi Constant, revealed that other worlds, including hell, do indeed exist absolutely. The book that Hajime wrote on Hell Girl greatly helped his research on the subject. In order to get more information, he wanted to lure in Tsugumi and the Hell Team, so he created some sort of weird generator that creates a force field which repels the powers of the Hell Team (though Ai is instantly able to destroy it.) and input Tsugumi’s name into the service.

Wanyuudo brings up the obvious issue of, if Mizorogi has no grudge against Tsugumi, how was he able to even access the Hell Correspondence website, let alone get a request through?

Somehow, Mizorogi created false hatred through hypnotherapy. This may seem silly, but he’s actually highlighting an issue that has plagued the series in various ways. Sometimes, Hell Correspondence seems easily manipulated. Usually, no one manipulates it on purpose, but many times people have ridiculous reasons for their grudges, are mistaken about their grudge, target the wrong person or there’s a general misunderstanding. In other words, Hell Correspondence requires hatred, but the hatred doesn’t have to be objectively ‘valid.’

Out of this revelation Mizorogi came to a striking conclusion – hell is actually a fabricated system created by weak humans who resort to ‘curses’ to solve their problems. The ‘ultimate irrationality’ created to be separate from the morals and ethics of mortal society.

In order to prove this, he strapped Tsugumi to what I can only describe as a crucification device and hung her over his fancy machine with intents on sending her to hell and analyzing the data from her being transported. He has a specific trigger phrase which will end his hypnotic hatred after the string is pulled.

Suddenly, before he can pull the string, Ai says his trigger phrase, which is her signature ‘Would you like to die this once?’ At first, you kinda think Ai saved Tsugumi on purpose. Nope.

Out of nowhere, Mizorogi’s assistant, Kikyou, reveals himself with a Yamawaro doll. He pulled the string, targeting Mizorogi, which is what prompted Ai to say her catchphrase.

You may be wondering why he did that. Well, along with revealing Kikyou in the shadows, we’re also shown a large group of children alongside him. Kikyou reveals that Mizorogi was suffering from his research. His Constant was originally intended to help produce unmanned military weaponry, which was appealing to governments because it greatly reduced loss of life. Still, he was helping create weapons that would kill plenty of innocent people.

Mizorogi instantly labels himself a hypocrite because here he is criticizing Hell Correspondence for being an irrational system born of the weak willed and kills innocent people when he’s actively contributing to war, which in itself is irrational and kills millions of innocent people all the time.

To help offset his guilt and suffering, he adopted a whole slue of battlefield orphans. They all held grudges against Mizorogi for helping to create weapons that likely killed their parents, and Kikyou, feeling sympathetic to the children, contacted Hell Correspondence and targeted Mizorogi in their stead. All of the children grouped up to support Kikyou when he pulled the string.

Mizorogi disappears, Tsugumi is safe and sound, Kikyou will raise the children and everyone goes home.

Oh yeah, if you were wondering why and how Yuzuki was there for any of it when she wasn’t ‘invited’ so to speak, she sensed Tsugumi was the target, somehow knew to go to Mizorogi’s mansion, and then, like I said, she just kinda watched and complained the whole time.

This episode was indeed very interesting and definitely one of the best of the season so far. The ending kinda came out of nowhere and really requires a few rewatches of that final scene to understand what is even going on, but it’s still good.

I like that Tsugumi is back in the fray, even though she’s become very depressed and despondent. #JusticeForHajime though.

I also liked that all of the Hell Team, even Ai, seem to have retained a soft spot for Tsugumi. They’d still do their jobs if Mizorogi pulled the string, of course, but they all show a great deal of concern for her and desperately don’t want to ferry her to hell. I thought that was pretty sweet.

I’m pretty sure nothing will come of the theories presented in this episode, but they’re definitely points to ponder.


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