Animating Halloween 2021 Update

Hello visitors of this little ol’ blog. Hope you’re all staying healthy and happy.

October is just around the corner, which means Animating Halloween is coming up real soon. With that, I have some good news and some bad news.

The good news is Yami Shibai has released two new seasons since the last Animating Halloween, which is AWESOME because I really thought Yami Shibai was over and done with. The tradition continues!

The bad news is things are kinda hectic right now. I’m moving soon-ish (numerous variables are keeping that up in the air. It’s kinda frustrating.) and I still have to do a bunch of stuff in preparation of that. Plus I have other personal things to handle. Animating Halloween is still on for sure, but posting once a day as I usually do during October may not work for me right now. To not rob you of Animating Halloween goodness, I will do a rollover AH day into November for each day I miss in October.

I know my posting habits aren’t spot-on either way, but I wanted to at least give you guys a heads up this year. I love doing these month-long review specials and it always makes me disappointed when I don’t manage to complete it, both for you guys and myself. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and I want you guys to be able to celebrate alongside me. 🙂

Finally, if you have anything you’d like to see me review for Animating Halloween, feel free to make suggestions. As a reminder, I will review anything as long as it’s mostly animated or is a graphic novel/manga of some sort and, of course, related to either Halloween or horror.

Have a Happy and SpooOooooOOOOoooookkkkyyyy Halloween, everyone! And thank you all for reading! 🧡

AniManga Clash! Yu-Gi-Oh Season Zero Episode 11: The Rumored CapuMon’s New Arrival (Placeholder + Notes on Chapter 24)

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Plot: Miho is gifted a gacha machine from a college student named Warashibe, who has a crush on her. The machine is filled with Capsule Monsters – toys used to play the latest gaming craze of the same name. Warashibe is friends with Yugi since they play Capsule Monsters together, and he helped Warashibe set all of this up.

Miho is flattered, so she sends him a nice letter and a Capsule Monster, stating that she’s starting to get into the game too.

Problem is, Warashibe is a massive creeper. Even Yugi, one of the friendliest souls in the world, is put off by his overly dramatic and obsessive behavior both in regards to Capsule Monsters and Miho. He has a ‘secret base’ that is actually an old warehouse loaded with every Capsule Monster you could ever dream of, and he spends a lot of his time playing with them in the dark. He had a chance encounter with Miho a short while before and was so enamored with her that he dubbed her his Capsule Monster Goddess.

In another effort to win Miho over, Warashibe traps Yugi into helping him with a ploy. Yugi pretends to be an attacker threatening Miho and Warashibe fights him off. However, the plan fails. Miho freaks out at Warashibe’s advances and even yells that she knows really nothing about Capsule Monsters, much to Warashibe’s dismay.

The next day at school, Jonouchi, Anzu and Honda mock Warashibe for what he did. However, they don’t realize that he’s in the cafeteria with them in disguise listening to their every word. Seeing them as a threat to his and Miho’s relationship, Warashibe poisons Anzu, Jonouchi and Honda with glasses of raw water, giving them stomachaches.

A note in her locker leads Miho to the revelation that Warashibe was behind this. Pissed off, she grabs Yugi and they head to Warashibe’s secret base to chew him out. However, he posits a challenge – Miho will face him in one game of Capsule Monsters. If she wins, he’ll leave her alone forever. If she loses, she has to give herself over to him.

She accepts, and they start the game. Using a gacha machine, they select their Capsule Monsters. However, Miho’s picks are horrible. She has three level ones, the lowest level, one level two and a level four. Warashibe has two level fours and three level fives, the highest level you can use.

Miho doesn’t even get two turns into the game before she becomes frustrated at the one-sidedness and Warashibe’s attitude. Yugi accidentally knocks the gacha machine over and reveals a hidden mechanism designed to give Warashibe the best Capsule Monsters.

They try to run out of the building, but Warashibe uses a trap gate over the door to stop them. He also unveils a giant capsule in which he plans to keep Miho forever. The beam which is holding the gate crumbles, however, and knocks Miho out. Yami emerges from the smoke holding Miho’s unconscious body and challenges Warashibe to a game himself.

Yami decides to use the Capsule Monsters that Miho used in their game instead of picking a better batch, and they’ll simply pick up where Miho left off, not clear the board and start a new game. He has also declared that this game will be a Shadow Game.

Warashibe accepts and the battle starts. Warashibe easily starts picking off all of Yami’s creatures one by one, and he’s quickly left with only one on the board. However, Yami points out that he was luring him into a trap. He has lined up all of his monsters into a diagonal line in front of Yami’s last creature, who, despite being a lowly level two, just so happens to have the ability to insta-kill any monster, even level fives, as long as they’re diagonal to it.

Yami activates the ability, destroying all of Warashibe’s monsters and winning the game. Yami reminds Warashibe that Capsule Monsters aren’t about collecting – they’re about battle and using even seeming disadvantageous creatures to their full potential to win.

Warashibe has a hissy fit about the loss, but Yami delivers his punishment game – locking Warashibe in a giant level one Capsule Monster capsule.

Back with a now recovered Anzu, Jonouchi and Honda, the group talks about what happened. Miho runs up yelling about the new Capsule Monster she got, but trips and falls, dropping a slue of Capsule Monsters everywhere.

Breakdown: Oh my god. Fuck this episode with a spork made of porcupine needles.

This episode is a perfect storm of annoyingness and bad writing decisions.

Miho being given the focus is already bad enough, but Warashibe is one of the creepiest yet lamest piece of shit antagonists I’ve ever seen. The guy tries to act all menacing while he sucks on a striped lollipop 24/7, sits at gacha machines for hours basically emptying them out to get the best Capsule Monsters, sits in the dark in his little den of Capsule Monsters just playing by himself somehow and when he doesn’t get what he wants he collapses on the ground crying and has a tantrum.

Funnily enough, the subber pointed out during his last tantrum that his name translates to ‘Child.’

He also has a super-villain-esque trap set up in this warehouse and has that ridiculous life-sized Capsule Monster capsule that he plans on storing Miho in? What the actual hell?

Not to mention that he likes to pepper in English words into his speech, and they’re always just pet names for Miho like ‘Baby’ ‘Sweetheart’ and ‘My darling.’ Plus, his creepy little smiley expression can go die in a hole.

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While I do commend Miho for stepping up during this episode, she’s also a complete dumbass for the entire run. Creepy college student she barely knows gifting her a gacha Capsule Monsters machine loaded with Capsule Monsters? Better write him what was basically a love letter and include a little gift for him so he’s lead on even more. Have physical evidence that would link him to the poisoning of your three friends? Better not call the cops and instead confront him yourself with your only defense being a four foot tall spiky haired game enthusiast who is so innocent his mind is literally a child’s playroom. Guy who is obsessed with Capsule Monsters, has a warehouse full of rare Capsule Monsters (that Miho’s currently in) and spends his days playing Capsule Monsters whenever he can? Meanwhile you admit that you know little to nothing of the game and have only started practicing by yourself a day ago? Better accept his challenge where the stakes involve you handing yourself over to him if you lose.

I thought they would pull a 180 on me. I thought they’d have Miho take Yami’s place in this Shadow Game and actually manage to impress everyone with how skilled she is, secretly being a Capsule Monsters nut or something. It would’ve been a good twist, a great (and much needed) moment for Miho and it would have added something to her character.

But nope.

She makes stupid moves, basically quits after two turns and then is knocked out and Yami has to swoop in and save her ass. Then she becomes obsessed with Capsule Monsters for a quick end tag joke, but I guarantee this will never be brought up again. She ends the episode with no development or anything – she’s just ditz-ass Miho as usual.

What’s even worse is they kinda imply that Yami was just employing a strategy that Miho started – a brilliant but also completely luck based strategy that instantly won the game. I can’t believe for a minute that that would be the case. Even little Yugi pointed out that she was making bad moves, and it was never implied that she might have been up to something. Plus, if she really did have this brilliant strategy in mind, why did she quit after two moves? Even in her inner monologue, she admits that she has no idea what she’s doing.

I’m want to believe this is poor wording and that Yami was really taking advantage of a situation and monster that Miho didn’t realize she had….but I can’t.

The reason for this being the only actual AniManga Clash note I have for this episode. I mentioned in the review of chapter 24 that the Shadow Game part of that chapter was the only part adapted in Season Zero. And, yeah, it is. Just replace Warashibe with Mokuba, replace a weird love obsession motive with one of vengeance and remove Miho entirely and it’s the same game. He even cheated the same way and got the same punishment.

Remember how I mentioned that, in that chapter, they foreshadowed Yami’s strategy by having his bird monster off on its own while the other monsters were bunched up together? He was clearly planning that BS move from the very beginning….

Well…..Miho’s side of the field is set up the exact same way…..

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So even though she herself admits that she has no clue what the hell she’s doing, she still managed to think up and create this miracle winning opening formation and perfectly set up the BS win. Yami basically just noticed what she was planning and went through the motions, I guess. Miho’s an unwitting Capsule Monster prodigy.

OR, and here’s the more likely theory, the artists mirrored this game without it clicking in their minds that this opening formation was the perfect setup for Yami’s BS plan and didn’t realize what it would be implying to anyone paying attention.

This is another reason why it would have made more sense for Miho to take Yami’s place here. Have her hustle Warashibe and even trick Yugi. Act like the simple annoying moron she always is, but slowly reveal that she’s secretly a badass Capsule Monster player who has been playing in private for a long time. She just doesn’t tell anyone because it’s viewed as a game for younger children and she doesn’t want to get made fun of. She can even claim she told Warashibe that she didn’t know anything about Capsule Monsters because she thought he was creepy and wanted him to go away.

Then her opening formation would make perfect sense, and she’d be winning her own freedom instead of Yami doing it for her.

But again, nope. Just have her be a complete idiot who accepted a challenge that clearly wasn’t in her favor, even in spite of the rigged capsule selection.

And how, after all of that, is she suddenly obsessed with Capsule Monsters? I’d think if a guy stalked me, poisoned my friends, nearly kept me as a human Capsule Monster for his own sick enjoyment, and gambled my life on a rigged Capsule Monster game, the last game I’d ever want to play would be Capsule Monsters. But, nope nope nope. Miho does things just cuz.

Is this the last Miho-centric episode? Please say it is. They never do anything worthwhile with her and she’s like sandpaper on all of my senses, so why bother?

Go away, Miho.

Next time, Jonouchi tries to win big on a local game show, but certain people aren’t willing to let him get the prize money so easily.


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Pokemon Episode 63 Analysis: The Battle for the Badge

Pokemon Ep 63 Screen 1

CotD(s): None.

Character Returns: Both Gary and Giovanni are present. The only reason I feel like mentioning them now even though they pop up quasi-frequently throughout the series is because this is the first time either has ever been given extended focus without having the actual focus be either Team Rocket or Ash and co.

Badge Episode: Viridian City

Gym Leader: Giovanni – Leader of Team Rocket, Giovanni also acts as the Viridian City Gym Leader for some reason somehow. However, due to plot, Ash never actually battles or even meets Giovanni in this episode. Gary battles him, but loses to Mewtwo. Officially, Giovanni specializes in Ground Type Pokemon, but he tends to just use whatever.

Reappears?: He appears about as much throughout the rest of the series as he does in this region, which is hardly at all but he still exists. As long as Team Rocket is around, which will probably be until the end of the series, Giovanni will always be their boss, most likely.

Pokemon: Most notably, Giovanni has his trademark Persian by his side at all times. He’s never seen battling with it, however. Giovanni is shown using a Golem, Kingler (Possibly two or even three Kingler considering we also see one in a cage in the basement. He could possibly have a second Golem as well by that logic.) and Mewtwo, though he only has Mewtwo temporarily. He also gives Jessie and James a Machamp and a Rhydon, and has a Cloyster in the basement.

Interim Gym Leaders: Jessie, James and Meowth. No intro needed.

Plot: Ash, Misty and Brock have arrived in Viridian City to obtain Ash’s eighth and final Gym badge. Once he wins this match, he’ll have enough badges to enter the Indigo League conference.

However, just as he’s about to enter the Gym, Gary pulls up to taunt his rival. Ash is shocked to learn that Gary has actually obtained TEN badges and is just challenging the Viridian Gym Leader for kicks. Since no more than one Trainer is allowed in a Gym during a challenge, Ash is forced to wait outside while Gary battles.

After being spooked by Togepi, Ash accidentally throws the baby Pokemon into the mouth of a nearby Fearow, who flies off with him. Togepi manages to escape Fearow’s clutches, but Team Rocket spots him and decide to capture him to give to their boss.

Meanwhile, Gary’s battle with the Viridian Gym Leader, who turns out to be Team Rocket’s leader, Giovanni, begins. Gary starts with Nidoking while Giovanni starts with Golem, which is instantly KO’d by Nidoking’s Tackle attack.

Next, Giovanni chooses Kingler. Gary opts to switch out his Nidoking for his Arcanine. It dodges a Crabhammer and follows up with a Take Down, Fire Spin and Fire Blast, which defeat Kingler.

Gary’s victories are making him so bored and inflating his ego so much that he actually tells Giovanni that he should just end the match because there’s no way he can beat him. With a smirk, Giovanni wagers otherwise. He unveils his strongest Pokemon, a mysterious creature clad in armor that is not listed in the Pokedex, and tells Gary that he can use multiple Pokemon against it, if he wishes. Arcanine is thrown psychically by the creature with ease. Starting to panic, Gary sends out both Arcanine and Nidoking against it, but both are instantly stopped in their tracks by the Pokemon’s powerful psychic abilities.

In no time at all, Gary is handily defeated.

Afterward, Team Rocket presents their newly captured Togepi to Giovanni, but he’s thoroughly unimpressed and deems it and Jessie, James and Meowth as completely useless. He’s suddenly called away on an emergency, so he leaves the trio in charge of the Gym and gives them three of his Pokemon to help guard the place.

Meanwhile, Misty and the others continue their search for Togepi. They suddenly hear him chirping from behind the doors of the Gym, so they forcibly open them. Misty and Togepi happily reunite, but they’re quickly shocked by what they find beyond the doorway – Gary and his cheerleaders are unconscious on the floor.

Ash and the others rush to them. Gary wakes up and explains that they encountered an unbeatable ‘evil’ Pokemon, much to Ash’s shock and confusion.

To make matters even more confusing, Team Rocket emerges from under the arena to deliver the good news to Ash – they’re now the Viridian City Gym Leaders, and Ash must beat them in order to get his final badge – the Earth Badge.

Ash agrees to the match, but this whole situation is very suspicious.

The match is three on three. Jessie releases all three of Giovanni’s Pokemon – a Machamp, a Kingler and a Rhydon.

Ash sends out Squirtle first. Jessie chooses Machamp, who easily defeats Squirtle with a Karate Chop. When Squirtle takes the hit, Ash is struck with a jolt of electricity. They rigged the arena to give the Trainer just as much pain as the Pokemon whenever they get hit.

Ash sends out Bulbasaur next while Jessie chooses Kingler. With one Bubble attack, Bulbasaur seems down for the count. Like last time, Ash is struck with another jolt of electricity. He’s weakened, but he continues.

He sends out his final Pokemon, Pidgeotto, to attack Rhydon. Much to her surprise, Jessie is shocked like Ash. James wired her side of the arena too, not believing they’d lose. Meowth tries to trigger the bomb on Ash’s side instead, but Gary stops him.

Fed up, Jessie sends out Arbok and Weezing to battle as well, which is a violation of the terms they set for the Gym match. Realizing their rule-breaking opens him up to breaking the rules as well, Ash sends out Pikachu. With one Thundershock, Pikachu takes out the entire group of Pokemon.

Ash demands his Earth Badge, but Jessie won’t hand it over. Togepi wanders over to the remote Meowth dropped and hits both of the buttons, blowing up both sides of the arena and sending Team Rocket blasting off. Jessie drops the Earth Badge in the process, but Ash recovers it. He has finally earned his eighth and final badge, allowing him entrance into the Indigo League conference.

The kids escape as the building starts to collapse. Gary has gained a bit more respect for Ash as a Trainer, but he still believes no one will ever be able to beat the mysterious Pokemon that defeated him.

Ash, Misty and Brock head off, but they soon realize they have no clue where the Indigo League conference is even held. They decide to visit Pallet Town to ask Professor Oak about it. Ash is one more step closer to trying his luck at winning the Pokemon League.

———————————

-…..*huff* Let’s get this over with.

“Golly, Twix, you sure seem perturbed. Shouldn’t you be excited? It’s the final Indigo League badge episode afterall!”

I should be, Unnamed Disembodied Voice I’m Using for the Sake of a Segway into an Explanation. But I remember this episode. I remember how foolish it was to have hopes and ‘expectations.’ This was the eighth and final Indigo League badge episode, and what do we get?

This.

You remember Pokemon Red and Blue? How you had so many encounters with Team Rocket the entire game and they all lead up to you facing off against the leader, Giovanni, for your eighth and final badge? How satisfying it was to take him down and end all of Team Rocket? No, he wasn’t the biggest challenge in the world, but he was a challenge and a threat. He was the big bad of the game.

I was so excited when I first watched the series to finally get to Giovanni. After being robbed of pretty much anything Team Rocket related (outside of Jessie and James, who quickly became jokes after about the third episode) I was stoked to finally have a full confrontation with the shadowy man himself – the guy who makes Jessie, James, Meowth, and even Butch and Cassidy shake in their boots. The guy they’ve been teasing this whole time as being a big deal with all the darkness and voice filters and stereotypical cat stroking whenever he’s seen – which is rarely. The guy who had all the means to be a huge challenge for Ash to overcome in his final badge match. And considering we’re fresh off the heels of a two-parter badge episode, and that was the second of two two-parter badge episodes so far in this region, surely the final badge episode had to be a two or three-parter, right? It’s gonna be awesome, right?

Oh young Twix. You stupid naive girl in a Reptar t-shirt.

No. What we got was half an episode’s worth of a commercial for the first Pokemon movie, a quarter of an episode chasing Togepi, and quarter of an episode’s worth of disappointing battle…..with Team Rocket….

And, no I don’t mean Giovanni.

I mean Jessie and James.

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The same dolts that Ash has defeated over 60 times already.

The same dolts who couldn’t win a Pokemon battle if they were battling Pokemon plushies with a full team of Moltres.

The same dolts who are so bad at their jobs that one of the biggest mysteries of Pokemon is why Giovanni hasn’t fired them a hundred times over by now.

People kept saying it was okay because they were using Giovanni’s Pokemon, but it’s not. They’re still Jessie and James. They’ll still fuck it up. Which they do. They fuck it up so breathtakingly badly that I’m almost impressed with their newfound level of stupidity.

The Trainer Box shock trap? Who cares? Ash gets shocked by Pikachu so much in a comedic fashion that this never even registers as a real threat. And he’s feeling all of the pain his Pokemon feels, which gets really messed up the more you think about it. Ooh it’s so impressive that Ash is taking all of this pain and bravely continuing on. His Pokemon do that all the time. And I must point out that one of the attacks he ‘bravely endures’…..is a Bubble…hitting a Grass Pokemon.

They completely drained every semblance of coolness and tension from the final badge episode all because Giovanni had to leave for some reason.

Don’t get me wrong – it is pretty cool to see so much of the normal anime dedicated to tying into the movies, which is something they very, very rarely ever did, and the confrontation between Gary and Giovanni/Mewtwo was pretty cool and a great tease for the movie, but they should have made this an entirely separate episode. Have it be a special teaser episode for the movie and then move on to the eighth badge episode. Have Giovanni return after Mewtwo left and have him be incredibly pissed that his experiment escaped. That way the battle with Ash will be tension-filled AND frightening. Imagine Giovanni agreeing to the battle with Ash purely because he wants to let off some steam by pummeling his Pokemon into the Ground.

Get it? Ground? He specializes in Ground-type Pokemon.

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But nope. Instead, we cram all the movie stuff into the final badge episode and, if you never see the first movie, none of that shit ever matters. It’s a big tease into nothing. It’s like when you’re reading a comic, something really interesting pops up and then you see that dreaded text box that says something like “to know what the hell all this is about, check out ComicName #164!” It’s one of the reasons why I don’t actually mind all that much that anime movies tend to exist in their own continuity most of the time. They can definitely be considered canon, but the TV series aren’t obligated to bring them up or weave their stories into the main storyline.

And lest we forget that almost as much time is dedicated to the pointless bullshit with the Togepi chase sequence.

I wouldn’t even be upset about the time wasted if they had made this a two or three-parter, but it’s not. It’s a one-parter, and it’s barely that.

I’m not even really angry – I’m just disappointed. Because that’s what I felt when I was a kid as I watched this episode for the first time. Just a big pile of disappointment sitting on my kidneys. What makes this worse is that this is one of the episodes I first watched on VHS because I missed it on the regular airing.

Whenever I rewatch Pokemon, I get to this episode and I don’t get angry. I just think “*sigh* Let’s just get this over with.” because I don’t want to think about what a massive missed opportunity this episode is any more.

If you got bored of my blathering and want to hear an interesting story about the production and release of this episode in regards to the Pokemon Shock incident, see Dogasu’s comparison found here.

And now, let’s move on with the episode.

– Ash: “I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since we were here.”

I never much paid attention to this line, but apparently a lot of people did, taking this as more or less confirmation that a year has gone by and even linking it to the idea that each League/Generation Ash goes through counts as one year. Well, as you probably read on the Dogasu comparison, this is a dub-exclusive line.

The timeline is always super vague with this show, so they only had Satoshi say it’s been a long time since he was here. We pretty much just have to accept the fact that 20+ years worth of Pokemon stuff has gone on in less than a year and Ash is perpetually ten years old and somehow keeps getting designed to look younger and younger with each new art style.

– Misty: “Hm, well the Pokemon Center’s up and running again.” I’m surprised they actually brought that back up.

Brock: “Look, Ash! The Viridian Gym!”

Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. You’re telling me he spent nearly all of his time at the Viridian City Pokemon Center when he was here last and yet he didn’t realize the Gym was practically next door? I mean, yeah, there’s no sign, but it’s a giant building with stone pillars and Roman guards at the door. Wasn’t he at least curious as to what this place was?

– Ash: “I know I can do it. I’m on a hot streak!” Hot streak how? Just because you won your last badge match?…..After losing the first time?

Fire is shown in Ash’s eyes as he says this, and then we cut to Pikachu and Togepi enjoying a fire in front of him. I get the joke, and it’s funny, but why the heck did Pikachu decide to start a campfire in the middle of the road? It’s not even like it’s cold outside.

Misty: “Ugh, why did you do that Pikachu?” Are you ruining the joke by pointing out how ludicrous that was?

– This is followed up by an equally funny joke where Ash and Pikachu do that sparkly dreamy ‘run into each other’s arms’ thing after Ash proclaims that he can do anything with Pikachu by his side.

– I know Gary’s just teasing Ash, but why would he think Ash quit Pokemon Training? He literally just saw him four episodes ago, and he got his Volcano Badge there.

– Now we have to give proper focus to Gary’s insane assortment of badges – not just in the fact that he somehow has ten badges, and is aiming for his eleventh, but also that only three of the badges seem like they’re from known Kanto Gyms. He has the Boulder Badge, a Cascade Badge and the Rainbow Badge. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s also possible that he got a Volcano Badge after Ash since one of the badges looks very similar, but it’s not the exact same so maybe it’s not meant to be the Volcano Badge.

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I’d think all badges from a Gym need to look identical to prevent counterfeits. Is there a black market for badges? Because I can totally see people just grinding at a Gym for badges so they can sell them to lazy Trainers. Do Gyms even allow you to have rematches if you won already?

I’m getting off-topic.

I can totally understand that there might be other Gyms in Kanto for the sake of making official Gyms more accessible to Trainers who may live far out in the country or whatever, but why is it that Gary doesn’t have the traditional set if it seems like he was following Ash’s route for the most part? He bumped into him way too often for him to not be roughly following the same path. Ash always went to the nearest Pokemon Gym when he was out adventuring. Why wouldn’t Gary do the same?

For that matter, why hasn’t Gary gotten his Earth Badge yet? In the games, the Gym was closed down when you first visited Viridian City, which is why you had to skip it and move on to the next town. In the anime, they never say such a thing. The only reason Ash never goes to that Gym is because he didn’t know there was a Gym there.

– Jeez, look at how huge the guards are compared to Ash. They’re giants.

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– Guard: “Only one Trainer allowed in the Gym at a time, kid.” They didn’t check if any of Gary’s cheerleaders were Trainers.

– Ash: “I have to do something fast or else Gary is going to get way ahead of me.”

Misty: “Uh, reality check, Ash. Gary’s been way ahead of you since the beginning.”

Damn, Misty. I thought you specialized in water not fire.

How can he even say, with a straight face, that Gary’s ‘going’ to get way ahead of him? He literally just showed him that he has three more badges than Ash. Every time Ash catches a Pokemon, he’s reminded that Gary has caught ten times as many as he has.

– Ash: *not looking* *Togepi bops him on the head because he’s sad* “Thank you. You’re the only one who always stands by me no matter what. Oh Pikachu!” More favoritism. Because he certainly can’t rely on his other Pokemon to always stand beside him no matter what. No sirree. Isn’t that right Snow Way Out?

– Ash was so spooked by Togepi that he threw him high enough to bounce off of a flagpole and into a Fearow’s mouth….Wow, Ash….Just wow.

– Misty: “Why did you do that to my Togepi!?”

Ash: “Misty it was an EGGcident!”

– I know I said that I liked the confrontation between Gary and Giovanni, but I really only meant that in terms of when Mewtwo finally shows up, because, prior to that, this match is absolutely pathetic.

Gary starts with Nidoking, and Giovanni chooses Golem. They both opt to use Tackle, and Golem is ONE-HIT KO’D………BY A TACKLE.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Then Giovanni chooses Kingler, who uses Crabhammer, which is a bit better, especially considering they show it smashing the stone floor, but then Gary switches to Arcanine, whom I do love, but why did he even switch out in the first place? Nidoking’s a fine match against Kingler, and Arcanine’s a FIRE type. I’d expect Ash to make a move that nonsensical, not Gary. He attacks with a Take Down, which is fine, but then follows up with a Fire Spin? And then a Fire Blast? And that defeats Kingler.

– Why exactly does Gary need to use a Pokedex on a Kingler? His Krabby should be a Kingler by now, and even if it’s not he’d certainly have done the research on Krabby to know it’s evolutionary line. Gary makes such a big deal later about not using the Pokedex whenever he sees a Pokemon like Ash does and yet here he is using it when, by all means, he shouldn’t have to.

– The perspective in this shot…

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Why is Arcanine so small?

– Why is Gary so confused as to how his Arcanine got psychically thrown across the ring? Surely he has faced Psychic Pokemon by now, and surely he knows that Confusion is basically Poke-speak for Telekinesis.

I was going to say surely he had faced Sabrina, but according to his weird-ass assortment of badges, he never fought her.

– I love how immediately after Giovanni gets pissed at them for being half-wits, Giovanni leaves Jessie, James and Meowth in charge of his Gym. Does he not have literally anyone else working in this place that is capable of being a Gym Leader? No other Rocket grunts?

– What exactly happened after Giovanni defeated Gary? He had Mewtwo psychically knock out Gary and his cheerleaders? For what purpose? They had to have been out for like an hour. That’s pretty serious.

– Gary: “This Pokemon’s not just powerful – it’s evil.” How is Mewtwo, based from Gary’s interaction with it, any different from any other Rocket Pokemon? When called to attack others, it will, usually. I do believe some Pokemon are evil, despite what the show may insist, because it’s just unrealistic for them to all be good at heart. If some Pokemon are jerks, some have to be evil. What I don’t get here is why Gary believes Mewtwo is evil just because it attacked them when Giovanni probably called for it to attack them. Giovanni’s the evil one.

– Cheerleader: “I can’t believe Gary lost.” *they all start bawling*

Misty: “Why are you making such a big deal about one lost battle?! If I cried like that every time Ash lost a battle, I’d be waterlogged.” Damn, Misty. You’re being really vicious to Ash today.

– I’ve also been a little annoyed how it’s never explained how and why Giovanni became a Gym Leader in either the games or the anime. Pokemon Origins implies that he was a Gym Leader first and later started Team Rocket and kept the Gym as a cover, but that was never in the games.

– Misty: “You mean this Gym is controlled by Team Rocket?”

Brock: “Why would they want a Gym?”

Jessie: “Oh, you little dweebs couldn’t understand the complex schemes of Team Rocket.”

Ash: “Oh yeah? Try us!”

James: “They’re for us to know and for you to find out….” *to Jessie* “What are they?”

Jessie: “Huh?…..Those plans are classified information.”

Meowth: “She don’t know ‘em either.”

So….basically “We never thought of anything clever or interesting to write as a reason, so we’re going to joke about how there isn’t one.”

– Gary didn’t battle in a Trainer’s box. Why are there suddenly Trainer’s boxes in here? Did….did James install the Trainer’s boxes themselves as well? Jeez, that’s a lot of work for such a short amount of time.

– 16 Minutes…..

It takes 16 GODDAMN MINUTES of a 22 minute long episode (including credits) Before the ‘Battle for the Badge’ actually starts.

– One of the Pokemon Jessie uses is Giovanni’s Kingler, which was defeated earlier, which must mean it’s really tired right now. Unless it’s a different Kingler, but is his pool of Pokemon so shallow that he has duplicates? I was really confused because he has a Kingler on him, but there’s a Kingler in a cage in the basement where he keeps Mewtwo, and he gave Jessie one. No matter, really, because even if he does have two or even three he’d obviously keep his best Kingler on him, which means the others have to be weaker, which is a problem when we already saw his best one be easily defeated.

– This Gym makes no sense. The Trainer’s boxes are rigged to have the Trainers shocked whenever their Pokemon receive damage, meaning they ‘feel all of the pain the Pokemon feels’ but how do they detect any of that? The Pokemon aren’t connected to anything to gauge such a thing.

Pokemon Ep 63 Screen 7

– Also, dammit, Ash, CALL THE COPS! Not only is Team Rocket running this Gym, but they’re physically assaulting you and they (well, Giovanni/Mewtwo technically, but still) knocked out Gary and the girls. Gary is proof that there are other Gyms to get badges from – it’s not worth this trouble.

– The fact that Ash’s Bulbasaur basically gets taken out with one hit of a Bubble attack by a Kingler when Gary handily defeated it with a Pokemon that had a type DISadvantage is so depressing.

– You can argue that Squirtle and Bulbasaur merely got hit, not defeated, but Ash and Jessie both switch out Pokemon when the hits land, so it’s clear they’re making off like it’s a defeat.

– Ya know how I said Team Rocket would inevitably fuck it up? Well, here comes the fuck up.

Jessie: “James, why did you set it up to give shocks on both sides? Ugh, turn it off, turn it off!!”

James: “I didn’t think it would matter. It didn’t occur to me that we could lose.”

You….*sigh*

How long do you think it takes to set this system up? Quite a long time, right? (Which begs the question how they had the time to do that between Giovanni appointing them Gym Leaders and now. Also, they had to have been doing all of that construction with Gary and the girls unconscious on the floor…..) And it’s probably a pain in the ass. James went through all of that work to set up the shocking device on Jessie’s side in addition to Ash’s side just because whoopsee he didn’t think they’d lose or I guess they’d never even get hit once. And they have no way of just turning it off, whether purely on their side or entirely…….That is so monumentally stupid I think it shaved years off my life.

Also, Rhydon getting hit by Pidgeotto twice, despite them clearly winning against Squirtle and Bulbasaur with one hit, is enough to make Jessie flip out and start cheating, thereby allowing Ash to cheat, sealing their fate and blasting them off again *ding* Screw this whole battle.

– Rhydon’s getting shocked by Pikachu even though it’s a Ground-type……Need I remind everyone this is the second time they’ve made that mistake with this exact same Pokemon. Ultra screw this whole battle.

– FFS, Giovanni’s Pokemon are such wimps they actually RUN AWAY COWERING after Pikachu shocks them – EVEN RHYDON. Infinity screw this whole battle.

Pokemon Ep 63 Screen 8

– Technically, Pikachu just won this whole battle by one-hit KOing five Pokemon at once (Only Rhydon had taken damage so far, by Pidgeotto) – three of which were Giovanni’s Pokemon.

– Gary gets a way better story in this episode. He gets to fight Mewtwo, he gets his ass handed to him, which helps him learn some humility, and he gains a better respect for Ash. All the more reason this should have been a lone episode about him instead of having it also be Ash’s final badge episode.

Ash doesn’t learn anything or grow here. He just battles.

– Wait a minute. So they were not only stupid enough to put the shock system in Jessie’s Trainer box, but they also took the time and effort to RIG IT WITH EXPLOSIVES?!

– Both sides of the arena blew up, but Ash and the others are just fine?

– That explosion was powerful enough to LEVEL THE WHOLE BUILDING?! But also somehow weak enough to leave Ash and the others untouched? What the hell!?….Also, this is the second time Team Rocket has blown up a building in Viridian City. You’d think blowing up his friggin’ Gym would be enough for Giovanni to finally fire these two, but of course not….

– Misty: “But where is the Pokemon League?” How the hell does a former Gym Leader not know that?

Brock: “I’m sure Professor Oak could tell us all about it.” You don’t know either, Brock!?

– I love the song, but the fact that the Pikachu’s Jukebox of this episode is (Double Trouble) Team Rocket’s Song feels insulting.

——————————————

Well, that’s that. That’s the sloppy mess that is the Battle for the Badge. I’ve already said my piece, and I don’t really have anything else to add. I’ll just cap it off by acknowledging my disappointment in the completely lost opportunity one more time.

Knowing how the Indigo League ends, it’s almost like this was foreshadowing of how the entire region would wind up being disappointing. But that Charizard-shaped problem will be addressed later….and compounded by other things on the table that need to be discussed.

Next time, Mr. Mime’s debut. I don’t remember disliking this episode, which was another I had on VHS, but I also don’t remember much about it besides Mr. Mime making a huge box out of Reflect panels…


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SSBS – Megaman NT Warrior | Episode 5: Robotic Fish Gone Wild Review

SSBS - Megaman NT Warrior Ep5 Screen7

Plot: Lan, Yai, Maylu and Dex are recruited by the tech-hating/fish-lovin’ Maysa to get out and do physical activities instead of staying inside playing with their NetNavis all day. When WWW causes more havoc in the city by unleashing all of the fish from a robotic aquarium, the kids will have to utilize what they’ve learned about fish by Maysa to fight them.

Breakdown: Today’s episode starts with Maysa, the fish salesman, bursting into the kids’ fancy treehouse base as they fight their NetNavis. Maysa hates technology and NetNavis, so he demands that the kids do as he did as a kid and go out and play.

Now you may be wondering why they’re listening to a man none of them are related to and has no actual authority over them.

Well…

Dex: “Tell me. Why are we doing this, Lan?”

Lan: “Don’t make Maysa mad. Otherwise, he’ll throw fish at me again.”

Pretty sure you can have him arrested for that. Or just….go home?

Maysa makes them all run, even though they all cheat by using rollerblades, skateboards and scooters. Then he makes them do push-ups, climb a tree 100 times, swim 100 laps, then he hits tons of baseballs at the kids, demanding they try to catch them, which is beyond unsafe. They’re literally weathering a hail of baseballs being shot at them at like 40mph.

I’m sorry. I thought you just wanted them to go outside and play. Why are you training them like they’re soldiers heading off to war tomorrow?

As this all goes on, WWW gathers for their next big chaotic plan – letting all of the robotic fish at a local robo-fish aquarium out and cause chaos in the streets. I actually think the idea of a robo-fish aquarium is pretty cool. Designing fish that look and move exactly like the fish they’re emulating while also avoiding capturing and potentially harming real fish is awesome, although I can imagine it’s not the same thing as actually seeing the real fish. Robots are really cool, I love them a lot, but I don’t think robots would be able to adequately replace the experience of seeing the real thing.

WWW creates a bunch of jellyfish virus things, which turn the floor of a virtual space all wavy and watery, and they let out all of the fish.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Letting all of these robo-fish out would probably do nothing, right? Because they’re…ya know….fish? That can’t travel on land.

Well, these robo-fish can FLY……….for some reason. They just float around in the air like it’s water somehow. They were in water in the aquarium so I have no idea why these robo-fish are all designed to float in the air. There’s no need for such a function.

SSBS - Megaman NT Warrior Ep5 Screen5

As the kids finally rest after being run like dogs, Maysa takes the opportunity to teach the kids some ‘fun fish facts’ which means the info being conveyed here is bound to be brought back up when they fight the robo-fish.

The first fish fact is that red sea bream have different colors depending on if they’re wild or farm-raised. Wild sea bream will be lighter/brighter red, and farm-raised sea bream will be darker because they’re raised in more shallow water, causing them to get sun burned.

Now, believe it or not, in some conditions, including being in shallow clear water, fish can get sun burned. However, this is not the cause of the farm-raised red sea bream’s darker color (the reason for that is unknown) and sunburning actually causes the skin of fish to turn whitish in color, not red. In fact, when fish get so much sun exposure that they end up sun burned, it’s a pretty horrific deal.

Most fish have a naturally occurring substance in their body called gadusol, which gives them great protection from UV rays, but it’s not foolproof. Just like with regular sunscreen, if the exposure is extreme enough and long enough, they’ll wind up getting burned.

The sunburns of fish involve the development of terrible sores which leave muscle tissue and cartilage exposed. Fish can suffer from kidney damage and even die if their sunburns get severe enough.

Dex: “No kidding! That’s pretty cool!” A fish having a perpetual sunburn is cool, Dex?

Maylu: “Yeah, I never knew that!” I’m sure you knowledge pool of red sea bream was so deep, too, Maylu….

Next, he explains that longfin tuna or albacore are called as such because of their long pectoral fins. This is correct.

Lan complains about how boring all of this is and asks Megaman if he can get him out of this, but Megaman refuses and says the fish facts might prove helpful. In any other situation, no….none of this information would be helpful or necessary in the slightest, but because of the obvious set up, we know they’ll reincorporate these “facts” in the final battle.

Maysa then states that jellyfish are 90% water, which is also a little inaccurate. They’re more like 95% water.

The robo-fish arrive, and Lan and Yai jack in Megaman and Glide to the location to figure out what’s going on before running away from the attacking fish.

Maysa slices a goddamn robo-bluefin tuna right down the middle with a normal filet knife, which…yeah okay.

SSBS - Megaman NT Warrior Ep5 Screen2

Maysa: “That bluefin tuna weighed 350 pounds!” First of all, it was a robot not a real bluefin tuna. Second, even if it was a real bluefin, how can you tell the weight by merely looking at it? Finally, adult bluefin tuna weigh between 500-550 pounds, so why are you acting like this one, if it is the weight you claim, is some giant? As a robot, it should actually weigh more than a natural one would.

Megaman and Glide reach the aquarium’s server and discover the new watery area inhabited by Sharkman.

Under the water lies the viral jellyfish. Megaman’s outnumbered and can’t do much without a Battle Chip, but Lan is too busy running from the robo-fish, specifically a shark, to upload one. Suddenly, Maysa has an idea. He tells everyone to stop running and stand really still. They do so, and the shark just floats on by.

According to Maysa, sharks are attracted by activity, so if you stop moving they’ll just avoid you.

No….that’s not right.

It’s true that movement has been known to prompt some shark attacks, but for the most part people typically get attacked by sharks for looking too similar to seals (in silhouette) and hanging around bait fish, which is why a lot of shark attacks happen while people are sitting on surfboards or lying on boogie boards. Attacks commonly do happen when a person is basically still, just hanging out in the water.

However, most importantly, sharks don’t hunt humans. There are instances where sharks will attack completely unprovoked, but they almost always try to avoid people. The odds of a shark chasing down a group of people like this is slim.

Not to mention that he’s acting as if movement is either the trigger for the predatory sense and removing it will make them docile or that they have some sort of t-rex-esque ‘their vision is based on movement’ thing, which is also very wrong both for sharks and t-rexes.

The most damning thing about this whole scene is, even if what he said was true, he’s assuming the robo-shark will work exactly like a real shark and not pursue them anymore when they stand still. That might make some sense, but still be very risky, considering they do seem to be designed to emulate the fish as much as possible….except, ya know…..the flying thing. If they were truly designed with as much tech as possible to emulate their respective fish perfectly, there’s no way they’d be floating in the air right now. In fact, there’s no way they’d be functional because they wouldn’t be able to breathe outside of water.

Lan: “And here I thought fish facts were stupid!” His fish “facts” are kinda stupid, Lan, so…yeah.

Maysa: “Having a PhD in fishology finally paid off!” This is likely a joke, I think anyway, but the study of fish is ichthyology.

The shark comes back and chases them all again because Maysa was being so loud. I thought it was movement, not sound, that attracts them, Maysa.

Back in the virtual space, Megaman continues to have difficulties fighting off the jellyfish because the water is slowing down his response systems. Megaman jumps out of the water and back to land again to escape the jellyfish. However, he’s not safe. The jellyfish all merge to create one giant jellyfish virus and float out of the water.

SSBS - Megaman NT Warrior Ep5 Screen3

In the real world, Lan and the others are cornered in an alleyway by the shark, and despite the loud yelling being what attracted the shark before, supposedly, Lan and Dex keep yelling because Lan is frustrated that he needs to leave to jack in and help Megaman but he’s trapped.

Seeing how much Lan cares for Megaman, Maysa offers to be a decoy for the shark so Lan can escape and help Megaman. Ya know, if the shark really does act like a shark, maybe try punching it in the gills or nose a few times and poke its eyes.

Despite their concerns, Maysa runs off, the shark follows and the kids head to the robot aquarium to make a direct link to the server. When they arrive, they’re confronted by a kickass robo-squid. The squid actually looks bigger than the aquarium so where the heck was this thing stored?

Lan knows he doesn’t have time to hesitate, though, so he just maneuvers his way under the squid’s tentacles and enters the robot aquarium.

He connects to the mainframe and uses his Cyber Sword Battle Chip. Megaman slashes up the jellyfish, but it quickly repairs the damage and even grows larger.

So, uh, Glide….you wanna, uh,…..do anything at some point? Glide has literally just stood in one spot this entire time. Why is he even here?

The jellyfish creates a tidal wave that crashes over Megaman and Glide. Lan only has two Battle Chips left – neither of which can help him in this situation. Suddenly, something whizzes by Lan’s face. On the wall next to him, he sees a metal fish skeleton embedded in the wall with a new Battle Chip hanging from it – the Electro Sword. Points to whomever saw electricity being the key to beating the 95% water jellyfish virus the instant they mentioned that fact. Fewer points if you knew that mostly because of Pokemon.

Maysa totally threw that, by the way. There’s no one else it could possibly be.

Also, this isn’t technically Lan learning any lesson. If he saw a new Battle Chip being gifted to him specifically and none of his other Battle Chips were useful, of course he’d use it to try and beat the jellyfish.

Despite being able to easily hit the jellyfish before, it’s too fast for the electrified Megaman to hit now….for some reason. Sharkman comes up and attacks the jellyfish…..oh….Sharkman is Maysa’s NetNavi isn’t he? I bet you anything he is.

This feels a lot like Coach Mountain from Medabots who acted like he vehemently hated Medabots and wanted his students to stop spending time with them, but then it’s revealed that he has his own Medabot and actually participates in Robattles and he’s a big hypocrite.

Megaman has his opening to strike, so he does, electrifying the jellyfish and deleting it.

Glide: “Well done, Megaman! Excellently executed!” Yes, and you did a great job being a useless tin can, Glide. Seriously, why was Glide even here? I swear he never moved a muscle.

Sharkman introduces himself to Megaman, claiming he wanted to do this on his own but Megaman’s help was welcome. Despite acting like an enemy, he asserts himself as an ally before taking his leave.

SSBS - Megaman NT Warrior Ep5 Screen4

Megaman: “Sharkman? I thought he was just a legend.” Really? What’s so special about him?

Lan reunites with the others, giving full credit on his win to Maysa for teaching him about jellyfish. He looks at the fish skeleton thing in his hands and wonders where it came from. I wonder that too because Maysa is nowhere near Lan. Even if Maysa had someone else give Lan that Battle Chip, who could it have been and how? Lan was in a tiny cramped control room and no one else was around.

Cut to Maysa who is standing on top of a tower with the robo-shark impaled on the top pole. What the frick? What happened there? I want to see that battle not Pikachu vs. Tentacruel.

SSBS - Megaman NT Warrior Ep5 Screen6

Also, despite them not fully revealing it in this episode, I totally called it, Sharkman was Maysa’s NetNavi. Reading up a bit more on him, I guess he’s not the same hypocrite that Coach Mountain was and his seemingly anti-NetNavi ways are more of a cover, but if that’s true why did he get so worked up about physically training Lan and the others? Shouldn’t he be happy that they’re spending so much time battling their NetNavis?

————————————-

Even though it was kinda cool to see the robot fish, particularly the squid, and Sharkman’s really cool-looking, the episode as a whole was just dumb and pointless. The fish “facts” they learned weren’t actual facts most of the time, the ones that were facts were inaccurate on the details, and the aspect of robo-fish escaping an aquarium and flying all over town tormenting people is just silly. Not as silly as having the main conflict of an episode being getting a little girl to the potty so she can go tinkle in time, but still.

If I seemed nitpicky about the fish facts it’s only because the episode as a whole relied on them. If you’re going to center an episode about fish facts, then maybe check to see if the fish facts are actual facts. It annoys me so much when kids shows act like they’re being educational but they’re really being half-assed about actually teaching anything. Granted, it’s not like this information would ever be useful in real life, but you should still give an effort to actually teach kids something. Teaching is pointless if the information isn’t accurate.

The stuff about the shark might actually be kinda dangerous. The odds of a kid coming into contact with a shark are extremely low, but if they learned from this show they’d think their best course of action during an attack would be to keep very still and quiet, which may very well get them killed.

I still don’t understand why we dedicated so much time to having the kids do all of that physical training. It never benefited them. It was a huge waste of time. The episode should have been Maysa pestering them to learn about fish for whatever reason the entire time. It is good to teach kids that they should put their devices down every once in a while and go out to get some sunshine and exercise, but if you’re going to make that seem like hellish work with no payoff then you’re giving off mixed signals.

Next time, apparently the next episode is one they skipped and instead we’re getting one about hypnosis and MagicMan.


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My Poke-Pinions | #46 and 47: The Paras Line

Paras

Name: Paras’ name is the same in English and Japanese, and it’s based on the word ‘parasite.’ I get what they were doing with this name, but I spent my entire childhood and most of my adult life believing its name was meant to be a play on the word “Paris”…..Just ‘Why is this little mushroom tick named after a city in France?’

Am I the only one who thinks its name would be a million times better if it was just Para? Heck, even Rasite would mesh better than Paras, if you ask me.

No fun facts this time because nearly every other country just kept Paras’ name the same because I guess no one gave enough of a damn about Paras to come up with a better name. In Cantonese, they made Mohguchuhng, which means ‘mushroom bug’ and that’s the best we got.

Design: Paras’ design is fine….It’s a bug….with mushrooms on it. It’s kinda cute, I guess…a little.

Sprite-wise, R/B looks really off. Its eyes are on top of its head for some reason, and it looks like it has a bit of a snout.

Yellow has a similar coloring issue as Oddish, Gloom and Vileplume. It’s extremely orange with barely any other discernible colors.

Everything else is fine, however, we do encounter something I’ve never seen before once we enter Gen III.

In Gens I and II, Paras is a deep orange color

and its shiny is this incredibly ugly light yellow-ish brown color. Seriously, this one of the least appealing shinies I’ve ever seen. It’s horrible.

In Gen III, however, they switched the color palettes. Now the regular version is a more yellow-ish color

and the shiny is a deep orange?

And in FR/LG the shiny has yellow mushrooms for some reason.

In later Gens, the color gets changed again to a deeper orange while still not being quite as deep of an orange as the shiny.

Shiny:

As I mentioned, it’s a darker orange Paras. They took a Paras, turned up the color saturation and called it a day.

At least we no longer have that gross Gen II shiny, though.

Dex Entries and Backstory: No matter if Paras is boring at face value, there’s no denying that it does have some creepy and interesting backstory to it. Paras is a bug with parasitic mushrooms on its back. The mushrooms are sought after as ingredients in vitality medicines. Paras spends its days constantly eating tree roots, but it is never satisfied because the tochukaso mushrooms on its back steal all of the nutrients from the host body, meaning the actual body of Paras is technically always starving. In Crystal, it’s even explained that the parasitic mushrooms are actually telling Paras to eat the juice from tree trunks.

Paras lives such a sad life. It’s constantly being starved by the mushrooms on its back, and those same mushrooms are plucked off by medicinal researchers. The mushrooms just grow back when they’re cut off, so it’s not even like Paras is freed after this. Jeez.

But as we’ll see, Paras kinda has it easy compared to Parasect.

Also, even though Paras, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t have an alternative Alola form, the Dex entries note that Paras’ mushrooms don’t grow quite right in the Alolan environment.

Design-wise, the tochukaso mushrooms are based on caterpillar fungus, found in Southern China, Bhutan and Nepal. These mushrooms latch onto the larva of ghost moths, kill them, frickin’ mummify them and eventually sprout a fruiting body that is used in herbal medicines in China. In folk medicine, it is believed that the caterpillar fungi has great properties since it is a rare merging of animal and vegetable. The fruiting bodies of caterpillar fungus contain Cordycepin, which has been found to be very useful as a therapeutic compound, such as treatment in depression, and it has recently found some success in combating leukemia. I couldn’t find where they got this information, but the tochukaso page also says the fungus is used as a aphrodisiac, and that it treats fatigue and cancer.

I won’t go on and on about the caterpillar fungus since this is all you need to know in connection to Paras, but check out that Wiki link – it’s fascinating.

The body of Paras is said to be based on the cicada nymph, which….

I dunno, I guess maybe. In the legs at least.

The concept of Paras is also suggested to be based on ants that sometimes get parasitic mushrooms, also known as zombie-ant fungus, attached to them that takes over their brains and juts out of their heads and back. The fungus legitimately does turn them into mind-controlled zombies since, once the fungus takes over, the ant will be compelled to climb a leaf stalk and stop at exactly 25 centimeters, which is the optimal height for this fungus to grow due to having the best temperature and humidity. The ant just hangs there with its mouth latched onto the leaf while the fungus grows. Eventually, the fungus grows a bulb full of spores that will bust and rain spores all over the ant’s unwitting brethren who will then also be infected by the fungus and turn into zombies themselves.

Again, read the Atlantic article I linked to here. It’s incredibly interesting, gross and creepy as hell.

Finally, the mushrooms could be based on massospora, which is a type of fungi that commonly infects cicadas and produces a psychoactive effect.

Parasect

Name: Parasect’s name is less distractedly familiar than Paras’ name. It’s fine. It’s a combination of ‘parasite’ and ‘insect.’

Like before, its name is the same in Japanese and English, and every region barring China (in Cantonese anyway) keeps the name the same. In Cantonese, Parasect’s name is Geuihguchuhng, which translates to ‘giant mushroom bug.’

Design: Parasect technically looks fine. It has one giant mushroom instead of two small ones. It retains the poky pincer front legs, and the vacant white eyes definitely reflect a darker aspect of this Pokemon that we’ll go over in a second.

It does look a bit too much like a hermit crab, though. If you’re not looking at it from the right angle, the mushroom on its back can just look like a cone-esque shell.

Sprite-wise, the coloring issue Paras had doesn’t seem to have ever been present on Parasect. It was more orange-y in the first Gen, got a bit too red in Gen II, but then stayed consistent at red and orange-red/burnt orange, until Gen VI where it suddenly became gold and a fleshy pink color for some reason? It’s really, really ugly now.

Shiny:

Gen II’s shiny is the same yellow-brown gross mess than Shiny Paras’ was. However, in later Gens, it has more of a gold or light/yellow-orange appearance to it, which is pretty nice.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Unlike Paras who is only partially compelled by the parasitic mushrooms on its back, Parasect is fully taken over by it. The parasite is so firmly in control of the bug portion of Parasect that Ultra Sun even states that the bug is mostly dead, leaving the mushroom as the main living organism. If the mushroom is ever somehow removed from Parasect it will stop moving and presumably die.

Parasect typically live in cool, dark places, though, again, this is by will of the mushroom since that is where mushrooms thrive. Parasect will sometimes move in swarms that attack trees, drain them of their nutrients and kill them, simply moving on to another tree when they’re done.

Parasect is constantly spreading spores from its mushroom. These spores are used in medicines in China, and yes they outright say China several times, once again muddying what world Pokemon is meant to take place in.

I had wondered how Paras gets infected from birth, because its Dex entries stated that spores are sprinkled on them from birth, which is what causes the mushrooms to grow on their backs. I got my answer when Crystal explained that, when Parasect is so drained of energy that it dies, the mushroom will leave spores on the Pokemon’s eggs, seemingly infecting the newborn Paras.

That. Is. Horrible.

In Gen VII, Parasect starts having territorial disputes with Shiinotic, and the spores from Alolan Parasect are not considered as good as those in any other region, but, again, Parasect never got an alternate Alolan form.

And that is Paras and Parasect – the usually overlooked, underappreciated walking tragedy of a Pokemon. These two still aren’t climbing any favorites lists for me, but I can’t deny that they have a really interesting story to them, even if it is terribly sad. Their entire species is geared towards suffering and basically becoming a zombie. And they don’t even have a chance at birth. They’re infected in the egg. It’s awful.

Next time, it’s the Veno line!


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Cyborg 009 Full Review Project: 1966 Movie

Plot: Nine individuals are kidnapped by the evil war-mongering organization known as Black Ghost. While in their clutches, they’re forcibly turned into cyborgs, meant to act as weapons of war. The cyborgs manage to escape Black Ghost, but they soon return to destroy the organization and stop their evil deeds once and for all.

Breakdown: In my last manga volume review, I mentioned that 007 suddenly changing into a child, whom I dubbed Lil’ 007, was a forced change to help advertise the Cyborg 009 movie that was being released around the same time. Well, this is that movie, baby.

That’s right, we’ve finally reached the first animated venture into the franchise, the 1966 Cyborg 009 movie directed and written by Yugo Serikawa and co-written by Takashi Iijima.

The movie is a reimagining of the origin story of the 00 Cyborgs, condensed to fit a full storyline in a little over an hour. There are many changes to the origin story made throughout this movie. Some changes I really liked, others not so much. Some changes were made for understandable reasons, like animation limitations and time constraints, and others I can’t find a single goddamn reason for.

Let’s enjoy a gentle stroll down Cyborg 009’s first movie.

The movie starts out with Joe Shimamura in the middle of a race. I haven’t posted it yet, but in my review for volume eight I mention that Joe becomes a famous racecar driver after a four year time skip in a time of peace. I kinda wondered why he became a famous racecar driver because he had never expressed an interest in racing before. But I guess it kinda made sense because his trademark power was super speed.

Him choosing a profession where he easily became famous, especially considering he technically had an edge in his cybernetics giving him vast knowledge and skills in piloting vehicles of all types, was more confusing, though. You’d think he’d want to keep a low profile.

However, this is not a movie based on volume eight. Quite the contrary. That part of the manga was actually based on this part of the movie.

Joe was the most drastically altered character in the entire movie. They removed his delinquent backstory, seemingly made him full Japanese instead of mixed race (marked by him having black hair instead of his trademark brown hair…..barring that one time he went blond.) and just made him a….really good racecar driver?

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They boring’d the hell out of Joe, and I really have no clue why. Is it just because they didn’t want their main hero being a delinquent?

The fact that they seemingly made him full Japanese instead of mixed race is the most disappointing, though. A big part of his backstory was that he was constantly ostracized for his appearance. He never felt like he belonged because he was a mixed race boy living in 1960’s Japan. That was also one of the factors in him becoming a delinquent. The fact that the 00 Cyborgs accepted him fully without caring about his heritage was very important to Joe.

Now he’s just a normal Japanese guy who became a successful racecar driver? Couple that with the fact that they retained the whole spiel about 009 being the best cyborg on the team because he was the latest model with all the best powers and that he becomes a combat specialist and leader of the team immediately just cuz (acting like he’s a seasoned war vet even though there’s no way he has any battle experience) put in a dash of saying he’s also the bravest of them for no real reason, and you just made yourself a Gary Stu, good sir.

Black Ghost operatives cause Joe’s car to crash. He’s unconscious, basically dead, and they kidnap him right under everyone’s noses, which confuses me.

In the manga, all of the people that Black Ghost kidnapped for this project were specifically targeted because they were down-on-their-luck individuals who wouldn’t be missed by many people, if any at all.

You have Ivan, who was just a baby, being willingly offered to Black Ghost by his father after his mother was killed, Jet who was running from the law after accidentally killing a rival gang leader in a street fight, Francoise who was just an average French girl who lived alone with her only family being her brother, Albert who was trying to escape Germany during WWII with his wife, who perished in the escape, G. Junior who was out of work and living on the streets due to discrimination against Native Americans, Chang who was an impoverished pig farmer whose situation was so bad that he was about to commit suicide when Black Ghost found him, GB who was a drunken washed up theater actor, Pyunma who was a resistance fighter who had just escaped being sold into slavery, and Joe who was a delinquent orphan.

It’s too risky to take people who are high-profile. Many people will miss that person and there will likely be an endless investigation into what happened to that person reaching out into current day where there will 34,000 podcasts and Youtube videos with titles like “Hurricane Joe: Gone with the Wind” “Joe Shimamura: Vanished in the Blink of an Eye” “Crashed Out of Existence: The Joe Shimamura Story” and “joe shimamorra was turned INTO A CYBORG?! #TRUTH”

Not to mention you’d be parading around a famous person as your cyborg? Keep in mind, the cyborgs have so much of their bodies replaced with cybernetics that they don’t age. People would start asking questions after a decade or two.

They also kidnapped Francoise who, in the movie, was a successful/famous ballerina, which is what she becomes in the manga in volume eight as well. So now they have two famous people on their team. They also have a baby and a young child, whom, for all we know in this timeline, are being furiously sought after by their parents.

Joe is turned into a cyborg by Black Ghost, and he later wakes up in some dark warehouse with a spiffy new version of his uniform. Instead of the uniform colors he had at this point in the manga, which was green with a yellow scarf, or even his most well-known colors, red with a yellow scarf, he is sporting a white uniform with a red scarf.

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The rest of the 00 Cyborgs are wearing lavender uniforms with no scarves because they’re not the leader.

Oh, wait, back up, did I say the rest of them? I meant all except one.

Because, of course, they had to put the lone girl in the group in a goddamn pink uniform.

Can you not find enough femininity in friggin’ lavender?

When Joe awakens, he’s suddenly met with a voice telling him that the test will be starting soon. Unlike in every other iteration, this voice isn’t 001 communicating with him telepathically. Instead it’s….who I think is Gilmore? It’s hard to tell with the voice. I don’t know exactly how he transmitted the message though since Gilmore doesn’t have any powers. Maybe it was a PA system or something built into his head?

Joe, now known as Cyborg 009, is quickly attacked. He’s buried under tons of rocks, but survives and escapes easily, he’s chased and shot by a fighter plane, but he can run away really fast and survive getting shot in the back repeatedly.

Oh yeah, one other thing they changed with 009…..they took away his accelerator switch.

Yes, his main claim to fame, the thing that made him mostly unique among the crew, is absent in this movie. Supposedly, this was because of either animation limitations back in the 60s or budgetary constraints, but I can’t buy that. Joe’s acceleration powers should be really easy to animate. You just animate running and freeze everything else. Hell, sometimes you don’t even have to show everything frozen. There are plenty of moments where they show 009 using his accelerator and choose to put him over a black background. Heck, you don’t even have to do that. Just make off like he looks like he’s teleporting.

But 009 is still heralded as the best cyborg of the line because he supposedly has all of the powers of the previous cyborgs in the line, even though we know that’s not true. In fact, he actually might have fewer powers in common with the other cyborgs as he does in the manga because it’s possible 002 kept his, admittedly weaker, accelerator.

009 passes the test with flying colors after downing the plane by ripping it apart with his bare hands and causing it to crash. He’s met with the other 00 Cyborgs as well as a slew of other Black Ghost operatives, including Dr. Gilmore.

001 looks okay. I think he looks a bit too large, but overall, he’s designed pretty accurately, barring his hair color which is brown here. His hair color’s not technically inaccurate since it fluctuated throughout the series, but he’s usually known for his silver hair. Sadly, 001 also got a major power downgrade in the movie as his only power is telepathy. He kept his heightened intellect as well, but his telekinesis seems to be entirely gone.

His telepathy is largely useless here as well because they also gave him the ability to TALK. Why they did that when it gave them an excuse to not animate his speech is beyond me.

They took the ultimate deus ex machina from Cyborg 009 and basically turned him into a pretty useless cyborg baby. I wonder if this nerf at least allows him to avoid that pesky weakness of needing to sleep for 15 days straight.

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002 looks way too angry. They elongated his face upwards and slanted it forwards to give him this almost comically angry face. They also gave him brown hair instead of his usual red hair, and they, for some reason, added a hook to his nose.

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003 looks quite a bit different. Her hair is much longer, and she’s now brunette instead of a blonde. She also has INSANELY HUGE and VERY CREEPY blue eyes. Even for anime and even for Ishinomori’s typical style they’re way too big. I think they did this to highlight that her senses were her main powers, but no one else has any physical attributes changed to reflect their powers, so I’m left to believe that 003 is either an alien or a My Little Pony.

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004 has a horrid haircut. It’s not even like an actual haircut. It’s like someone took the clay pot they made in art class and plopped it on his head. His original hair color is meant to be gray/silver. 004 actually has powers added to him. They gave him missiles in his elbows in addition to the ones he usually has in his knees, and both hands house machine gun fingers instead of just one. I like this change because it makes him a little more badass.

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005 looks pretty decent. Some shots make him look stretched out, though. Also, his face markings were changed a little.

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006 was basically drawn to be even more stereotypical than he already was. They darkened his skin just slightly, kinda deflated his face and gave him a Fu Manchu mustache instead of the thin handlebar-esque one he typically sports.

007 is Lil’ 007, only his head is kinda caved in for some reason. His powers are left alone, which only muddies the limited animation/budgetary constraints excuse for 009’s lack of accelerator even more. How is it easier/cheaper to animate a character who constantly transforms into other things than it is to animate a character with super speed? Or did they allocate all of their budget towards animating his transformations that they didn’t have enough left over to properly animated 009’s acceleration powers?

I really think that Lil’ 007 was leaned into a bit hard with this movie. He gets basically as much screentime as 009 and he gets a big dramatic hero moment in the end, complete with speech. He’s also the only one, besides Joe and Francoise, who gets his fate explained in the epilogue. They really wanted to push this movie towards kids. The tone is noticeably lighter with more comedic moments and the fact that the new war that develops later in the movie is between two fictional countries – The Caesar Republic and the country of Divine – instead of two real ones.

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008…….*sigh* Poor 008 can’t catch a frickin’ break.

He already had a problematic design by default, but look at this.

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His lips take up half his face, and his nose was enlarged by about 700%. What the hell were they thinking when they did this to him?

They convince 009 to come with them, Dr. Gilmore acting as a hostage (he’s in on it and helped orchestrate their escape out of guilt.) and a massive battle ensues between the rebelling cyborgs and Black Ghost. They’re confronted with the usual suspects in this franchise; faceless thugs with laser guns, tanks and fighter planes.

They steal one of Black Ghost’s fighter jets and take off. 009 is able to pilot the plane flawlessly. 001 explains that he was already a masterful racecar driver, and his cybernetic brain enhanced his driving/piloting skills, allowing him to be an expert with any vehicle instantly. That actually does make a lot of sense, and I’ll take that as being his unique power over the others.

It’s weird how some of them have powers that correlate their own personal stories, but some of them don’t. Like 006 has fire powers, which greatly help him in his later career as a chef. 007 can transform into anything, which is something very reflective of an actor. 004 and his wife were shot up and blown to hell, so he’s loaded up with guns, missiles and explosives. But no one else really has powers that correlate to their personalities or stories. That would’ve been pretty neat.

Anyhoo, it’s during this aerial battle that we get to see all of the 00 Cyborgs’ powers on display. It’s a really cool moment and battle. They’re forced to take an emergency landing on a nearby island.

It seems like they’re in the clear, but 003 quickly points out that there are spy dolphins nearby, transmitting their location to the enemy. 009 kills the spy dolphin, but a whole slew of enemy robot underwater dinosaurs with missiles in their throats attack. Ya know, typical Tuesday.

009, 002 and 004 take them out in a really exciting battle, but they’re still not done.

003, for some reason, sounds really happy to share the news that they’re being approached by a whole fleet of fighter jets and ships. She’s smiling and everything. The voice acting combined with the smiling leads me to believe some wires were definitely crossed with the intended tone of this scene.

The amount of firepower that Black Ghost is sending their way is, honestly, way overboard. Look at this insanity.

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And this isn’t even showing the numerous submarines chasing them.

All of this just to retrieve or destroy the cyborgs. The money that they spent just launching all of those planes and ships would probably cover the expenses on making nine new cyborgs and just letting these ones go. I get that they might not want this technology to get out to the general public, but still.

009 knows they can’t fight all of that firepower, so he concocts a plan to steal one of their subs.

Somehow 008 looks even worse in this shot.

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009, 007 and 008 head underwater to defeat the other spy dolphins and steal themselves a sub. Cue extended scene of Lil’ 007 shenanigans, including turning into a birthday cake that says “Happy Birthday Day”….???

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Happy Birthday Dan? I dunno.

Anyway, screw that little punchline. 008, you’re up!

To his credit, even though this is his lone time to shine in this movie, shine he does. He zooms around the sub so fast that it starts disrupting their equipment, and when he reaches the nose, he simply stops the sub dead in its tracks with his bare hands.

That was so badass, even the doors of the sub are going “Dang!”

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009 attaches a transmitter to their sub that tricks them into surfacing. 008 is such a baller that he’s just standing on top of the sub smoking a pipe when they come up.

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009 and 008 force the Black Ghost operatives out of the sub and take it for themselves. When the whole team is aboard, 009 has 003 send out a Morse code message to Black Ghost claiming that sub number 557 has been commandeered by the cyborgs when they’re really on sub 556.

557 gets the shit bombed out of them from above and below, killing everyone on board.

Good job, guys. We immediately went from peacefully acquiring a Black Ghost sub to turning a dozen people into chum in one scene. Simply amazing.

009: “That went well.” It sure did, you loony.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that they did that to distract Black Ghost and make them think that they were dead, but the 00 Cyborgs are supposed to be largely against killing. They typically only kill as a last resort. That’s why so many of their enemies are robots. And that’s why 001 made a point in the beginning that the planes that were following them were merely drones, even if they implied they were being piloted by people considering a bunch of Black Ghost soldiers were ordered to head to the planes to pursue the cyborgs. They wanted the green light to cause a bunch of destruction without the implications that they were slaughtering people. 006 was fully MELTING PLANES IN MIDAIR. No one wants to imagine the people in there melting like candles on the surface of Mercury.

For anyone thinking the sub may have also been a drone, they show the people inside as it’s being attacked.

Since Black Ghost is off their tails, they decide to head to Green Reef – a secret island hideout/laboratory belonging to Gilmore where not even Black Ghost can find them.

After a small time skip, we see Francoise and Joe relaxing on a cliffside as the sun sets. Joe says it’s only a matter of time before Black Ghost finds them. They should take the initiative and strike at them first, hopefully taking them down once and for all.

Francoise, however, vehemently refuses. She is tired of war, she’s tired of fighting, and she’s definitely tired of death. She shares her backstory with Joe, explaining that she was a successful ballerina until WWII arrived in France. After a very dramatic montage of the attacks, we learn that Francoise’s parents were both killed in the war, which is why she hates it so much.

I actually love this change. It adds so much more to her character, explains where her parents are and gives her a very good reason to already hate war and fighting long before the others do. The fact that she still also has the reason of her heightened senses forcing her to see and hear every atrocity of war that happens within 50 kilometers of her makes her situation all the more horrific and tragic.

After hearing Francoise’s story, Joe responds in the best way possible……by giving her a big ol’ smile.

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I really think there was a disconnect between the artists and writers somewhere.

Joe convinces her to rejoin the fight by telling her that, if they don’t stop Black Ghost, then more people will suffer like she did. It’s rather open and shut, but the entire thing makes for a big romantic moment for the two of them.

When we next see Black Ghost, they’re preparing for their next scheme. In order to draw the 00 Cyborgs out of hiding, they’re going to send two fictional nations into war – the Caesar Republic, which I think is meant to reference the Roman Republic, and Divine….which…I don’t know what that’s referencing, if anything at all. There’s no information on this stuff on the Fandom page or the Wiki or any other source.

The best I could find was Carthage, which was the real Roman Republic’s biggest enemy, but I can’t find the connection of the names. Carthage means “New town” which doesn’t sound very ‘divine’ to me, so…..*shrug* Maybe they just bullshitted some names, or maybe I’m a geographical dummy, I dunno.

The troops for Black Ghost are being lead by some new character who looks like a huge naked goblin.

His name is Beagle.

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And no, you can’t take him seriously because of both of those facts.

To make it even less plausible to be scared of this guy, his has a cat that he strokes menacingly. Bonus: This cat is meant to be an evil version of Tom from Tom and Jerry. And if you don’t get that the first times you see the cat, don’t worry, near the end of the movie 007 will turn into a carbon copy of Jerry so they can have a nice comedic chase.

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The Fandom page explains that Tom and Jerry was just reaching Japanese shores at this time, so it was probably just meant to be further grasping at that young child audience.

The 00 Cyborgs learn the news of this burgeoning war, so they decide to head to the battlefield to put a stop to Black Ghost’s evil manipulative ways.

009 calls upon 003, 6 and 7 for the mission. Leaving 001, 2, 4, 5 and 8 on shore doing nothing for some reason.

Why does 009 only take three people with him, you may ask? Because it’s hard and expensive to animate nine people in battle conditions, silly. And they’ve already done it twice, so we gotta cut some expenses.

However, I really have to wonder why he chose this lineup specifically. 003 I get because she can get recon easily and from a distance. Lil’ 007 I guess I get because he’s also good in covert situations and spying. But why 006? And why not any of the others, especially 008 considering they’re heading off on a submarine? Actually, put that last question in your back pocket. We’re going to bring that back up in a few minutes.

When they reach the shore of the Caesar Republic, 003 overhears a Black Ghost operative making a deal for weapons with one of their military leaders. As they continue to spy on them, 003 is suddenly just grabbed by a pair of metallic black arms and kidnapped right from under the noses of the other three.

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Which is bullshit.

For god’s sake 003, your only use is to see and hear things that the others can’t. You’re unofficially known as the radar of the 00 Cyborg team. You’re telling me a cyborg or robot or what have you sneaked up behind you – in the goddamn woods – and was able to grab you without you making a sound? Come on.

The other three are able to tail her in the submarine by tracking a beacon in her headband, but Beagle shows up to stop them with his mind-controlled giant octopus.

How much would you believe me if I said this is actually mirroring a plot point from the manga? Actually, only partially because the one in the manga was just super aggressive because of radiation from the war polluting the ocean.

Worried their sub will be crushed by the creature, they head out to fight it.

006, while underwater, shoots flames at the octopus numerous times.

See why I’m confused about bringing 006 along but not 008?

Apparently, fire can exist underwater in the right circumstances. All you need to do is force oxygen, fuel and heat together, but 1) I don’t know if 006 has the means to do that. As far as I’ve ever known, 006’s fire breath works on the same principle that a flamethrower does. The fuel is thrown/expelled and then ignited. With people who ‘breathe fire’ it’s the same thing. They keep fuel in their mouths, hold up a flaming stick and spit the fuel out on the fire to create the stream. But 006 has no method of delivering the oxygen as far as I know, so I can’t see this working.

And 2) even if he could create fire underwater, I doubt he could make it into an accurately shot stream like that.

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Anyway, this poor octopus is blown apart, sliced up and even has one of his tentacles ground up with a grater, which is nightmarish to think about. The idea of grinding up the limbs of any creature is gross enough, but the grater in question was Lil’ 007. I can’t imagine the feeling of limbs being ground up in what is basically my torso……

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Once the octopus is defeated….

Lil’ 007: “Something else is coming!”

006: “Sharks!”

009: “Not just sharks….sharks with guided missiles!”

We’ve already seen these sharks in the manga before, but there’s something about these lines that really makes me want to re-embrace what a beautiful amalgamation of genius and goofy nonsense this franchise can be sometimes.

So they start blowing up the missile sharks, which is a cool sentence to say, but poor sharks. These animals aren’t doing anything wrong, they’re just being controlled or manipulated by Black Ghost and yet they all have to suffer such horrible fates.

Meanwhile, someone else is suffering a horrible fate – 003 is going under the knife again to alter her brain so she’ll be fully controlled by Black Ghost…..which just brings up a huge issue with this entire franchise that I’ve already discussed a little before – why don’t they just mind-control them entirely? They must have the technology. Weren’t they even working with Ivan’s father, Gamo, who worked exclusively with technology involving the brain? Instead they just hope that these people they just kidnapped and mutilated and had their lives ruined forever will just hop up and say “Well, golly gee, Mr. Black Ghost, I sure will be your tool of perpetual war!”

In the manga, it takes them until 0013 before they finally realize that they should put some failsafes in these cyborgs, but even then it kinda backfires on them.

By the way, they actually do perform the surgery and she’s not only fully mind-controlled later, but she basically turns into a weird monster for some reason? More on that later.

The trio reach the shores of Phantom Island. Some robot snakes show up and attack the three.

*the robot snake breathes fire towards 009*

009: “Are these things robots?”

No, no, 009. These are rare Firebending Snakes. You must have missed Phantom Island and accidentally landed on Shuhon Island.

Sadly, none of the 00 Cyborgs beyond 001-009 are shown in this movie, but we do get a brief encounter with a robot that looks and acts an awful lot like 0011. However, it’s not even clear if this robot spider is actually a cyborg. He has about two lines and then dies.

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Something else weird about 006 – The robot shoots fire at them, and even though 006 is meant to withstand insanely high temperatures, he still reacts to the fire like it’s too hot even for him, which I sincerely doubt.

Once the snakes are destroyed, Lil’ 007 splits off from the group to infiltrate the base by himself. 009 and 006 go another way and find 003 unconscious and tied to a chair. When they wake her up, they’re shocked to find her face all monster-fied and that this whole thing was a trap.

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I was really shocked to see that they actually did go through with the surgery on 003. The last shot of the surgery scene did suggest that they were seconds away from cutting into her, but a surgery to make her a mindless slave is something you’d think would get interrupted by the heroes.

Also, I guess they altered her height real quick too because she’s towering over these Black Ghost soldiers. Either that or Black Ghost set up a recruitment drive in a middle school.

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Beagle and his goons corner 009 and 006. One of the soldiers conveys to Beagle that they caught 007 as well. They’re about to have the same procedure performed on them when the soldier from before attacks Beagle. Surprise! It’s Lil’ 007 in disguise!

Cue the overly long heroic speech they let Lil’ 007 have for some reason.

After completely demolishing Black Ghost’s forces so easily it’s almost sad (and bear in mind that it’s only three of the nine 00 Cyborgs fighting them) 009, 6 and 7 corner Beagle. They think they’ve won, believing Beagle to be the big boss of the entire organization, but Beagle reveals that he’s not actually the final boss. He’s one of those annoying decoy final bosses who eats up all of your resources right before they throw you into the REAL final boss fight that comes out of nowhere.

At this point, I was getting really excited because I thought they’d reveal Skull here….but no. He’s not in this movie at all.

Instead, the real final boss is not given a name. He’s just Black Ghost Leader….Also, he’s not even given an original design. They took the design of the central hub of 0012 and made that the design of the Black Ghost Leader.

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To say I was disappointed would be a massive understatement. You traded Skull, one of the most iconic villains in classic anime/manga, and traded him for a brain in an upside-down salad bowl.

….Okie dokie.

BGL immediately kills Beagle for failing him, and then he explains to the cyborgs that he’s been around much longer than they think he has. He was responsible for the first two World Wars. He very easily triggers these wars with just a little manipulation. He feeds off of greed and the pain and suffering of war. He even states that he’s not human, which is something reinforced by the fact that he uses the term ‘human’ as a derogatory term. He also says that he didn’t create himself, or I guess more to the point that he didn’t start out like a normal being and then eventually became corrupted into the being he is now. He came into existence as an embodiment of the greed of humankind, which I guess is why his organization is so set on war profiteering instead of being a ‘take over the world’ type deal.

But that just begs the question as to where the brain came from and why he rides a giant crockpot if he’s just the embodiment of greed. Seems a little inconvenient, is all.

You can argue back and forth about who Skull really was – in no iteration do we ever learn of his backstory – but he was a cyborg who was constantly getting upgrades that left him as the most advanced cyborg, which is why the final battle with him is such a big deal. His character design is very imposing, even with his manga version’s sadface look, and, as his name also suggests, his presence just screams ‘death.’

I just can’t understand why they used 0012’s central hub as the design of BGL here. 0012’s actual hook was that she was a sentient immobile murder house. If you take that away, her design is in no way intimidating.

BGL decides to use 003 to finish off the cyborgs using a special laser gun that can take them out with one shot. He traps them within a super strong metal box and sends 003 in. However, 009 strongarms her, accidentally causing her to shoot the glass surrounding the brain of BGL, which for some reason causes the rest of his robot body to start blowing up. Flawless design there.

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That’s another silly aspect of this design. His brain is obviously his weak spot, so why does he keep it in a glass case on top of the robot instead of secured in the middle of this hulking behemoth so it’s as safe as possible? Again, it made a little sense in the manga because 0012’s house was protecting her central hub and her brain.

003’s back to normal again somehow, which is very confusing. You guys operated on her brain, yet you made her mind-control completely reliant on the integrity of a brain in a jar? Also, why do the changes to her face instantly go away when she’s freed?

Anyway, BGL is not going to die quietly. He has an H-bomb hidden on the island that will explode in five minutes. That’s right. He’s going to kill himself, all of his surviving subordinates and destroy all of his equipment in an H-bomb explosion just to kill four of the nine 00 Cyborgs. That’s some crazy nonsensical dedication. Oh well, at least he’s giving them a five minute head start.

They’ll need that head start too because they need to break out of the metal box. Using 006’s flames and the lasers of their super guns, they slowly manage to weaken the metal enough to break it by throwing a giant…..electronic box thing, I dunno what that is.

When they get to shore, they find that their sub is being commandeered by Black Ghost operatives. They won’t allow them to board the sub, but the rest of the cyborgs arrive to blast them away and save the others.

002: “We came because we figured something like this might happen.”

Then…why didn’t you just go with them in the first place?

They escape, utilizing the sub’s ability to turn into a plane, and watch as the island is disintegrated. Black Ghost is seemingly gone now. And the narrator explains that peace came to the world once more….So…Divine and the Caesar Republic stopped warring because Black Ghost disappeared?

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The movie wraps up with an epilogue that explains that the cyborgs “returned to their original forms” which, huh? That’s impossible. I’m pretty sure they’re still cyborgs. And they returned to their homes and old lives. Joe returned to being a racecar driver, Francoise returned to her life as a ballerina, Lil’ 007 returned to his life as a ‘mischievous brat’ in London, and no one else matters enough to mention.

Just know that they all returned to their normal, happy lives, but they still knew that one day they might need to return to action again should Black Ghost resurface. They can only pray that will never happen.

The end.

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And that was Cyborg 009’s first movie, and I really enjoyed it a lot. It was exciting, it was fun, it was a little funny, and as far as retelling the events of the origin story while also wrapping up the entire Black Ghost conflict in one barely over one hour long movie goes, it did a pretty good job. It obviously felt kinda rushed, and I’m really, really disappointed that basically every cyborg barring 009, 003 and Lil’ 007 had to be completely amputated, in terms of character exploration anyway. They did get some really cool moments in battle, and at least they went through the unique powers of each, but I’m really disappointed that we don’t at least get some nice non-battle moments with them or even learn their real names. Hell, we don’t even learn Lil’ 007’s real name despite them shoving him into the spotlight quite a bit.

They also didn’t do that good of a job giving them distinct personalities. Everyone, again, barring the main three, act about the same. Joe takes the role as leader, Francoise is the emotional one and Lil’ 007 is the clown. Everyone else is just a nice, brave and responsible person. 006 is kinda goofy, but that’s about it.

They crammed a lot of cool enemies and battles into this movie, which I appreciate greatly, but I actually kinda wish they’d toned it down a tiny bit or made the movie longer because it was almost too much stuff going on too quickly.

The animation was decent for the time. It’s an anime from the 60s, you’re not going to get anything too impressive, but some shots looked pretty damn good……and some looked really laughable.

There’s a shot near the end where 009 and 003 are fighting each other, and Lil’ 007 and 006 are just bobbing their heads as a reaction, and it reminded me of a badly animated ‘What is Love?’ meme gif.

The music’s pretty good. Very fitting and impacting. Nothing horribly memorable, but still good.

All in all, I had a lot of fun with this movie, and I’d gladly watch it again. I’d also suggest it as a fun watch for any fellow Cyborg 009 fan or anyone who doesn’t mind some classic anime cheese. It’ll be a little while before we cover the sequel to this movie, Cyborg 009: Monster Wars, but I look forward to covering that and seeing what else these movies have to offer.


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Hell Girl: Three Vessels | Episode 22 – Flower and Moon Review

Plot: Yuika is an up and coming star in the world of modeling, known for her brash and pushy attitude. Her twin sister, Sumika, is a more timid and studious type. Sumika typically stays to the background being Yuika’s ‘shadow.’ She pretends to be Yuika in order to do her college work, take her exams and even stand in for her at work sometimes. Sumika is far from an innocent flower, though. They’re two sides of the same coin in the worst way.

Breakdown: I really, really thought this episode was finally going to get Yuzuki’s main plot rolling since a good chunk of the first half is dedicated to her struggling with her destiny of becoming Hell Girl. The end of high school is approaching, and her school counselor is questioning her about her plans for the future, but she doesn’t really have any.

Dreams and the future are two concepts that give Yuzuki pause lately.

And that’s it. She just can’t think of anything when she thinks about the future or anything she dreams of being. She’s such a boring character.

The most interesting thing we got from her was the slightest implication that something very bad happened when she was a kid involving her mother, but that’s about it.

I’m also starting to believe that maybe Yuzuki is….crazy? She suddenly seemed to lose contact with her mother, even though she stated that she used to call and talk to her parents every day, and I’m now realizing that we’ve still never seen either of her parents on screen – not even in pictures. I actually kinda hope it’s something like that, because at least that has the potential to be interesting.

After that, it’s a typical Hell Girl story. Although, the way they inject the story of the week is quite odd. Yuzuki is just walking down the sidewalk and she’s suddenly approached by Sumika, who apologizes profusely for the ashes from her flame-less fire seemingly getting on Yuzuki, but it’s clear that the smoke is only barely even slightly near her, so I doubt any ashes got on her. Also, if you didn’t want to bother nearby people with smoke and ashes, maybe not start a non-fire smoke signal in your two-foot wide yard right by the sidewalk?

She then invites Yuzuki to enjoy the warmth from this non-fire….When it’s not even noticeably cold out.

One of the pieces of paper making up the “fire” blows onto Yuzuki’s foot. It’s a picture of Sumika and her twin sister, Yuika, as teenagers. She clearly doesn’t want Yuzuki to see this picture…..so again…I ask…why are you doing literally any of this? Why the “fire”? Why not just tear up the pictures? Why not set the fire in a place that won’t immediately draw attention from passersby? Why invite Yuzuki over to enjoy the private picture fire? You make no sense, lady.

Anyway, absolutely nothing involving Yuzuki has any bearing on the Hell Girl story today. What a surprise.

The real story is fine, but I feel like it’s basically treading water we’ve already treaded. Most notably, I was really reminded of the season one episode, A Night Among Traveling Entertainers.

You have a pair of twins, one of which is the bitchy star, Yuika, and the other is the timid doormat, Sumika. Yuika treats her sister like garbage and acts incredibly self-centered. She’s always telling Sumika to do her college work for her and even pretend to be her so she can take her exams for her.

Sumika comes off as a nicer person, but the twist is that she really isn’t deep down, which is pretty clearly foreshadowed by her burning the pictures earlier. While Sumika isn’t as mean as Yuika, she is self-centered and conniving.

When Yuika gets herself injured because she was a drunk moron, she demands Sumika take her place in a photo shoot so she won’t ruin her career. Sumika does great at the shoot and even earns a lot of positive attention because she’s being so much kinder and gentler than Yuika.

Not only that, but Sumika clearly covets Yuika’s boyfriend, Masato. While Masato does love Yuika, he gets along great with Sumika, and Yuika is, well, not a pleasant person, so you do kinda root for him to be with Sumika…..for a minute.

This whole conflict with the boyfriend comes to a head when Sumika pretends to be Yuika and tricks Masato into having sex with her….ya know…raping him.

He realizes only after the fact that she was actually Sumika, but his actual feelings are quite iffy. He seems like he feels bad about cheating on Yuika accidentally, but he’s not getting angry with Sumika, and we cut away before we can get any further information on what went down.

Yuika has been following her and becomes enraged when she realizes what happened.

After this, Yuika’s wound heals and she and Sumika basically fight for Yuika’s life.

They’re both dressed identically, so there’s no way to tell them apart.

One of them calls Hell Girl and pulls the string, sending the other twin to hell. It’s meant to be ambiguous, and the viewer is supposed to decide which twin was the client and which was the target, but there are several hints as to the identities of each, and I think it’s pretty clear that Sumika was the target.

They do obscure the name on the candle at the end. You can only see the ‘ka’ part of their first names. The rest is covered by a wax drip. However, what you can see of the kanji that is covered doesn’t match the way Yuika writes her name.

Masato breaks up with the woman who has the doll. He had never entered into an actual relationship with Sumika, he only slept with her once, so it seems weird that he would ‘break up’ with her.

The woman in the boat acts more like Sumika than Yuika. She asks “Am I not supposed to chase my dreams? Even though I wanted to be myself….” Yuika was always herself. She was a selfish bitch in front of people, and she was a selfish bitch in private. Sumika, on the other hand, had to hide behind Yuika’s persona in order to get attention while still being herself. Sumika was a kind person, but, as I said, she had a more nefarious side to her that was more scheming and selfish.

Finally, and the most obvious piece of evidence. It was established early in the episode that the only concrete way to tell Yuika and Sumika apart was a flower-shaped birthmark on Sumika’s lower back. That’s how Masato proved it was Sumika when they slept together. They specifically zoom in on Yuika’s bare back at the end of the episode and show that it has no markings on it. I even watched it frame by frame to make sure not even partial marks were shown – they weren’t.

The only thing that doesn’t mesh with this is that Yuika is notably more pleasant in the press conference at the end. Maybe she was humbled by the experience. Or maybe Sumika was actually the client and she just covered up her birthmark with makeup for whatever reason.

I’m 98% certain it was Yuika who lived and Sumika who got sent to hell. If true….eh, I don’t really care either way. Yuika was a bigger bitch than Sumika, no doubt, but Sumika was also a slimy bitch who basically raped Masato – no matter if he chose her in the end or not.

All in all, this episode was pretty okay. I liked that they were at least trying to create a fairly wide gray area here, and I appreciate the attempts at masking who the client and target were, even if, in my opinion, it was a bit easy to figure out. I am getting very annoyed at Yuzuki, though. They better throw her story into high gear in the next episode, because it really feels like it’s a road to nowhere.


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