SSBS – Bakugan: Battle Brawlers Episode 2 – Masquerade Ball

Plot: A new mysterious masked brawler named Masquerade is going around and taking the Bakugan of those he defeats. Dan decides to challenge him to stop him once and for all, but the game changes when Drago goes rogue and Masquerade reveals the reality behind the game.

——————–

Alright, Bakugan – we got off to a bad start last time. Let’s see if we can mend some bridges in episode 2.

We finally learn another Bakugan term. The little marble things the players use are called Bakugan Balls…..Pbbbbttttt *gigglesnicker* Balls. Heehehehe. Anyway, this episode starts with Runo bitching and moaning that other people are getting their Bakugan Balls…..pbbbbttt….*cough* to talk, but she can’t.

A mysterious masked boy who calls himself Masquerade challenges Runo to a Bakugan Brawl that is completely skipped over. The only shot we see of it is Runo screaming in terror as a Grim-Reaper-Like Bakugan attacks.

Annoying girl character’s first match is one that is 1) so unimportant that they don’t even show it and 2) is one she loses horribly. *lip smack* Yup. That’s pretty much what I expect of female characters in shounen gaming anime at this point.

Meanwhile, Dan starts showing off his amazing talking Bakugan to his classmates, even though, if the last scene of the last episode was any indication, many many many people have also heard their Bakugan talking so this shouldn’t be a big thing to clamor over. However, I guess Dan just happens to be in a school where, despite the fact that everyone seems to be a brawler, only his Bakugan has reportedly talked.

Dan can’t get Drago to talk, disappointing his classmates, and the topic quickly skews to Dan freaking out because he didn’t remember to do his English homework. Their teacher comes in and I guess she’s meant to be some super imposing and frightening teacher because literally every student fumbles around the classroom screaming trying to get back to their seats when she enters the room.

Legit question – has anyone seriously had a teacher like that? This is a common trope yet I don’t know any teachers who strike such fear into their students. Hardasses, sure, but no terrifying teachers from hell.

She doesn’t even look scary. She looks like a stereotypical librarian.

Drago ends up at her feet in the confusion and demands to see Dan after class for bringing ‘marbles’ to school.

Blah blah unimportant school stuff, parroting the conflict in the other realm blah – hey wait, back up! Dan has Drago back!? Huh!? He’s still in class!….You’re telling me this terribly frightening teacher that has all of these kids shuddering in horror just by thinking about her is so easy going that, despite being angry enough about the toy to demand that Dan stay after class to talk about it, she instantly gives it back to him?

Maybe I did have worse teachers than I thought because so many teachers would take stuff and either not give it back until the end of school or even keep it until the end of the semester. And you didn’t even have to be playing with it half the time – Just knowing you had it was enough to get it taken away.

So of course Dan is going to screw it up. He takes out Drago in the middle of a lecture to take a toothbrush and scrub it because it got kinda dusty on the floor. Drago doesn’t like it, so he opens up and demands he stop. Dan jumps up in surprise and tries to rally his friends to prove that Drago can talk, but before he can do much of anything, his teacher stops him and says, due to his outburst, he’s going to get an injunction for the rest of the semester, which devastates Dan. He even goes so far as to bitch at Drago later saying that his life is ruined now because of the injunction and completely blames Drago since he wouldn’t talk.

in·junc·tion

noun: injunction; plural noun: injunctions
1. an authoritative warning or order.
2. law
a judicial order that restrains a person from beginning or continuing an action threatening or invading the legal right of another, or that compels a person to carry out a certain act, e.g., to make restitution to an injured party.

Sooooooooooooooooo…..Dan’s life is ruined….either because he has a warning all semester….or because he’s being restricted from either screwing around with Bakugan balls (hehehehehehehe) in school or from making outbursts in class. Uh……huh…..I know kids overdramatize stuff, but this is probably one of the most overdramatized statements I’ve ever heard.

Also, Drago’s at fault for this?! Really!? You’re the one who, despite being supposedly scared to death of your teacher (and, hey, she didn’t do anything about the fact that he didn’t do his homework either. What kind of benign ‘evil’ teacher are you trying to pawn off?) decided it would be a good idea to start scrubbing your Bakugan ball (alright, this is just getting silly) in the middle of class just because it got a little mussed up on the floor. Then you decided it would be a good idea to burst out in the middle of the lecture trying to get your friends to listen to Drago, who didn’t even have a chance to try and speak after that.

Not to mention that the first time you tried to get it to speak, you were basically giving him commands like a dog. You’re a douche, Dan…..Hm…If my nickname for Ash from Pokemon when he’s being an idiot is Dumbash, I hereby dub thee DanDaDouche.

Dan logs on to the Internet to chat with his friends and Runo instantly bursts out screaming at him, blaming him for her loss.

Every frame of animation that includes her face and every second of hearing her voice makes me hate her even more. What’s even worse is, while everyone else is mispronouncing Bakugan as Back-oo-gahn, she’s mispronouncing it as Bah-koo-gan (like can). Alice explains that Masquerade is going all around challenging many brawlers and he takes their Bakugan if they lose to him. Runo pathetically admits that he took her Haos Terrorclaw.

I know these types of shows get flak for taking little toys and games too seriously…but if this is our main conflict for the episode and it’s vital to take down Masquerade and stop him from taking Bakugan…maybe make Runo seem more upset about her lost Bakugan. She’s upset at first just because she seems annoyed, then she seems fine and even somewhat happy then she paints on a frowny face and says her Terrorclaw was taken.

Who cares? I don’t care. I’ve never even seen Terrorclaw or any indication that she gave a shit about it. I especially wish someone else’s Bakugan had been taken away if we’re meant to be sympathetic. Runo, so far, is the most annoying character on the show, going neck to neck with Dan.

Oh and, yeah, how the hell is Dan in any way responsible for her loss? She never once explains her reasoning with this and doesn’t even seem that upset about it after a few lines. He doesn’t ask her either. Who starts screaming insinuations like that without even trying to explain their reasoning?

“That guy over there murdered this man!”

“Why do you think that?”

“Just cuz.”

“Skip the trial and lock his ass up, boys.”

“Next time on Law and Whatever: Really Short Case Unit”

Dan decides to take down Masquerade, which makes Alice and Julie say, I am in no way kidding or exaggerating,

Julie: “Oh Dan, I wish I could hug you!”

Alice: *sultry voice* “Me too.”

Okay, I think we can all agree that we’ve skidded past ‘Gary Stu’ vibes and are firmly in the territory of ‘self-insert jerk-off material’ All that over a promise of a challenge? And what was up with Alice’s voice just then? You’d think he promised something dirtier. Even the mood-a-minute Runo yells out “Awesome!” when he says this.

Then it’s like this scene was forgotten as they are suddenly surprised that Dan is willing to risk his own Bakugan in the matches and share the news that Masquerade is currently in first place in the worldwide Bakugan rankings while Dan is supposedly still at 117. So….why his friends were so excited at his promise makes even less sense now. Especially given that, if he’s in first place, that must mean he’s also defeated Shun.

Also, is Masquerade traveling the world extremely quickly? To have gone from an unknown to number one in the worldwide rankings in that amount of time seems ridiculous.

Of course he owns/plays a damn electric guitar. Is he the star on the football team too?

In order to lure Masquerade to a match, Dan decides to create a challenge vlog. However, Drago calls him out on how pathetic he seems trying to act tough. He explains that Bakugan isn’t merely a game and, even though he’s talking to a sentient marble from another dimension, Dan acts like the idiot he is and, despite stating last episode that he thinks Bakugan isn’t just a game……acts like it is just a game. Then we get our big commercial break dundundunnn moment where Drago repeats that it’s not just a game….which is pointless to make dramatic because we as an audience already knew that.

Dan’s challenge has been posted and Masquerade seems more than happy to meet him.

The next day, Dan heads to the meeting spot only to find Shuji, who wants to challenge him again. Oh goodie gumdrops, a three-peat of stupid pointless nonsense that is not entertaining at all. Even Dan straight out says this match is a waste of his time. No, Dan. It’s a waste of everyone’s time.

Just to get this out of the way, today Shuji’s using Ventus attribute cards, because why not?

You better hope this is a lazy way of teaching us more about the game.

My sentiments exactly, Dan.

They open the time-space field thing and then instantly cut to Shuji saying Dan defeated his Robotallian and Gargonoid. And I mean they instantly cut. Sliced clean through. No transition. Just ‘let’s brawl’ followed immediately with Shuji’s recap.

So, in summary, they’re admitting fully that this match is a pointless waste of time….and then they skip half of it.

Bite me.

Dan summons Drago, who is now able to move more freely outside of his ball. However, when Dan uses a Fire Wall ability card on Drago, he…I guess refuses to battle because he says he doesn’t take orders and his use of the ability card was useless anyway, even if they don’t really explain why. Shuji also explains that Fire attributes are useless against Wind, even though he’s defeated two of them already.

Shuji summons his Falconeer (at least we’re getting more monster names today) and uses an ability card that allows Falconeer to jump over the Fire Wall. So, Fire Wall’s not so much useless against Wind attribute cards as it is susceptible to that specific ability card. Gotcha.

Can someone please explain to me why Fire is trumped by Wind? I get that wind blows out fires, but air also feeds fire. Wouldn’t it make more sense for Fire to be weak to….Oh….I dunno…..Water? Is that too obvious or what?

With the type advantage, Falconeer gets powered up enough to take on Drago, but Drago tries to reason with Falconeer. He says the only reason Falconeer is fighting is because he’s corrupted with negative energy, but Falconeer won’t listen and bites him on the neck.

In retaliation, Drago constricts the Fire Wall around them, and, according to Dan, smothers the wind and defeats Falconeer…..Uh, no. You don’t smother wind. You smother FIRE. Fire needs air to live. If you rob it of oxygen IE smother it, you extinguish the flame. I’d say what you just did there, if logic can even be applied, is that the Fire Wall ate up all of the air and made it so Falconeer, being Wind attribute, could not exist any longer.

I just pulled that out of my ass. I have no clue what just happened. Dan/Drago cheated as far as I can see.

Despite not being the one to give the game-winning order, Dan still smirks, flicks his nose with his thumb like a trademark douchecanoe and brags that he won the match…I guess because he beat three of Shuji’s monsters? Screw it, he cheated.

Okay, wait. Let me calm down. Let’s at least check the Wiki to see if there’s something I missed that makes this legit. I don’t want to shout out ‘cheating!’ just because I don’t understand the game.

“Mysteriously, Drago gains the upper-hand possibly due to Fire Wall. But even with its effect active, Drago would still be 10 Gs short of victory. Drago would have needed to boost the power of Fire Wall in some way for this victory, but it is unrevealed how this is done. Nevertheless, Falconeer gets wiped out by Drago’s squeezing fire wall attack.”

Oh, okay, so he totally cheated. Cheers.

I hate you.

After Shuji literally runs home crying to his mommy (and, no, I’m not using ‘literally’ wrong. He legit says, while running off crying “I’m going home to mommy!”) Masquerade shows up and they start their match. Masquerade starts by throwing some weird Darkus card out which activates without proclaiming what it is or what it does.

Dan calls out his Serpenoid while Masquerade calls out Reaper. Dan’s little watch thing explains that Reaper is stronger than Serpenoid with 370g over 320g, but Dan activates his unexplained gate card which powers up Serpenoid to 620g. Masquerade activates the ability card, Dimension 4, which, while they don’t explain what it does, seems to negate the effect of gate cards and reduces Serpenoid back to 320g.

Reaper attacks Serpenoid and….sucks him into a different dimension I guess.

Next, Dan summons a Minotaur-esque creature while Masquerade summons another Reaper. They try to amp up the animation in that weird way again as Dan uses an ability card, which I can’t discern due to Dan’s VA’s inability to enunciate and the poor sound mixing. Like every other one of Dan’s ability cards, it’s a bunch of fire. Like many other of Dan’s cards, it’s never explained what this does.

Masquerade uses an ability card, Double Dimension, which negates the effects of Dan’s ability card. Reaper then defeats the Minotaur thing, sending it to another dimension. Masquerade then mentions that the card he played at the start is a Doom card. When played, it overpowers all monsters and sends the defeated ones into the Doom Dimension and can never return…..

………………The….Doom Dimension. Are you kidding me? How did this not reach even minor league meme status? The DOOM DIMENSION. That’s like something a four year old would make up.

……Or…like….son of a bitch – we actually have another Shadow Realm? Are you for real? Someone melded the Shadow Realm with the Seal of Oricalcos card and threw it into this show. Brilliant.

Drago recognizes the…..Doom Dimension. Ya know, between the Bakugan Balls and the Doom Dimension, I’m getting in more than my quota of giggling. Anyhoo, he states that the Doom Dimension is basically Bakugan….hell? Purgatory? They go there when they di–”meet their eternal demise” Enraged, Dan asks why Masquerade is trying to ruin the game of Bakugan and Masquerade explains, again, that this is not merely a game – every match is very real.

The match continues with Dan sending out another gate card, summoning Drago and Masquerade summoning another Reaper….or the same Reaper. I don’t know. They fight and, again, Drago tries to reason with Reaper. However, Reaper doesn’t want to talk and doesn’t care about what’s happening in Vestroia. He only cares about the immense power he’ll supposedly get by teaming up with a human and battling like the soldier he is.

Reaper, being stronger I guess, attacks Drago, but Dan opens his gate card, Fire Storm, which powers him up to something more powerful I guess. Right before Dan is able to use another ability card to supposedly win, Drago activates something called Ultimate Boost on his own which ends the battle suddenly.

Okay, he’s where I get confused even with the Wiki holding my hand. Masquerade states that he spared Drago for some reason and I’m left to assume that he did….something which ended the match and saved Drago from himself. Why? I don’t know. However, the Wiki states that Drago was so powerful that he destroyed the battlefield and instantly ended the match because of it. I’m more inclined to believe the Wiki, but that just leaves me utterly confused as to what they mean by the dialogue.

Masquerade explains that Bakugan involves many dimensions and powers that could destroy the world. The only way to save the world is for Dan to defeat him.

Oh come on! Two episodes in and we’re already at a point where the fate of the world rests on a kid’s ability to play a game with marbles and trading cards? Get bent.

Oh well, at least Dan technically got defeated.

Wiki – “Conclusion
Battle is interrupted and ends in a TIE.”

Oh, go to hell! He was down by two! Even though they haven’t explained the criteria for winning in the actual show yet (yes, really) I finally broke down and looked up the rules to the damn game, which states that the winner is the first to capture three Gate Cards….Oh sorry. The rules of the anime version are actually changed from the real life game. That makes everything much less confusing /s

In the anime, it’s the first to defeat three Bakugan. Dan lost twice and even in the end, the Wiki states that Reaper wasn’t killed before the battlefield was destroyed so he didn’t even get one Bakugan defeated. Is this like calling a draw in Monopoly if I’m nearly bankrupt and I decide to kick the board to the floor? Why did Drago trigger this anyway? It wasn’t a particularly emotional or intense moment, even after they explained the super scary Doom Dimension.

Anyway, Masquerade leaves, Dan proclaims that he’ll beat Masquerade and the episode ends.

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I will admit that this episode has more card and monster names than the first episode and I learned a tiny bit more of how the game is played, I think, but I should mention, as you probably figured out, anything of merit I learned was read from the Wiki. Whoever wrote detailed play-by-plays for each Bakugan Brawl in every episode for the Wiki deserves a fresh pan of cinnamon buns.

Also, I’m going to try to turn a blind eye to what the Wiki says since I’m trying to follow along as a regular watcher of the show. No one should need to read supplemental material to understand half of what’s going on in a shounen gaming anime. It just should not happen.

Everything else about this episode is mostly garbage. Stuff with Runo? Pointless garbage I don’t care about because I care nothing for Runo, nor am I given a reason to. Plus, the scene was so short it’s hard to care in the first place.

Stuff with Dan’s teacher? Don’t care. Also, I learned that this was also completely pointless because this character, according to her bio, is never seen again and the year long detention (She specifically said “Injunction”, Wiki, but your explanation makes more sense.) that Dan got, the one that ‘ruined his life’ is never brought up or enforced. Whoopee.

The battle against Shuji is entirely pointless – not just because it’s a predictable waste of time against a character who has already been beaten easily twice already, but also because Dan and Drago cheated. It’s shameless filler that they deserve to be punched in the face for.

The battle against Masquerade isn’t even interesting. He uses the same monster three times in a row, basically the same tactic twice in a row and there’s little in regards to excitement. The only entertaining aspect was the silly name of the Doom Dimension.

Drago’s final stand came out of nowhere and the finale was ridiculous. Randomly triggering something within yourself that makes you so powerful that the field gets destroyed and forced a draw? If that’s even what really happened. Give me a break.

Why did Masquerade even leave? No time for a rematch? Why does Dan seem so devastated by this? He doesn’t seem to have any emotional bond with what’s going on yet, but he falls to his knees and yells that he’ll beat Masquerade.

I don’t even care about the Vestroia stuff at this point.

Another note is that the Wiki states Dan nearly lost his Bakugan in that match but, since he didn’t technically lose, he kept them I guess. Despite the fact that both Masquerade and Drago said that once a Bakugan is in that dimension, they never come out.

There’s nothing to care about here, and I don’t even get any mindless action fun out of it because even that’s bland and boring. Get your shit together, Bakugan.

Next episode, Dan is confronted by a new recruit of Masquerade’s, Ricky Maru. Oh excuse me, that’s supposed to be Rikimaru. Is it a law of dubbed kids anime to not pronounce Japanese words and names correctly? Also, Dan cleans Drago with a toothbrush again.

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AVAHS – A Fairy Tale Christmas

Rating: 2.5/10

Plot: The King’s viceroy, Crofton, wishes to tax the villagers heavily and eventually take over as king, but the King won’t allow it. In an effort to get him out of the picture so he can take over, he gives the King’s daughter, Princess Angela, a potion to erase her memories and gives her over to his brother to raise her in the woods.

About a decade later, the King indeed finds himself lost without his daughter, and his Assistant is living the high life on all the tax money he’s collecting. Can Angela regain her memories and return to her rightful place as Princess?

Breakdown: I’d like to share IMDB’s plot synopsis of this movie. Ahem.

“When a young woman accidentally triggers to Christmas Day was begins to reflection on addiction to building the Christmas Tree from a North Pole in B.C.”

That should show how little information there is on this movie and how many people have actually seen it. God bless the random user who took the time to write a fairly proper synopsis in the Storyline section.

I’m surprised there’s actually a well-written and detailed review on that page too. Technically, there are three reviews but two of them are clearly trolling.

Wanna know something else? The IMDB page is literally the only site that has ‘information’ on this movie. The only other website with info is the page for the production studio behind the film, Waterfront Pictures.

Click that link, by the way, because its mission statement is such overly produced corporate gobbletygook it’s insane. I was getting a headache reading it.

I won’t lie. I’m not ashamed. I went into this fully with the mindset of having something to make fun of. I mean, come on. From the lazy title to the nonsensical yet still cliché plot to the bad art and animation to the characters that are so bland that the movie didn’t even bother giving them names half the time (I have the character list in front of me, and the only one I recognize is Angela, and even then I forgot her name halfway through.)

It was ripe for mocking…..and it disappointed even on that front. Don’t worry, I found a bunch of superfluous stuff to overanalyze that I’ll get to in a minute, but overall it’s just bland.

It has so little of a plot that the movie doesn’t even reach an hour – it’s 44 minutes including credits, and I feel like some parts are missing. For instance, a talking deer and talking bird mention that only the princess has a ‘true heart’ which allows her to understand their speech (just go with it.) It’s phrased like we saw a scene with them talking to Angela when she was a child earlier, but we didn’t.

Now for other things that make no sense but aren’t funny to talk about.

Why doesn’t Crofton just kill Angela? I get that this is a kids’ movie, but even in Snow White they try attempted murder when the princess is an obstacle. If Disney is being more hardcore than you, you have problems, bro.

Why does Crofton want so much taxes? He wouldn’t get all that money – The King would.

The King is really fine with all these taxes because he’s so preoccupied with finding Angela? I guess that makes a little sense, but the movie makes off like the King went on a journey to find Angela immediately after she went missing, yet later they act like he was just out for a day trip.

Crofton acts like he’ll be King if Angela’s out of the way. I dunno if he was just waiting for the 40-something King to keel over and he could take over his job considering he’s not married and Angela was his only heir. Again, I thought the King was off for years to find Angela, yet he returns with no fanfare and it’s like he never left.

How far away is Angela’s guardian’s house? They act like it’s many, many miles away, but the King gets there and back in hours and Crofton, who should be ruling the land in his stead, gets there in what seems like minutes because he somehow heard that his minions weren’t doing a good job keeping the King away from Angela’s village minutes after one failed attempt.

What is up with Angela, anyway? First off, let’s talk about the ‘true heart’ thing. What does that even mean? Does she automatically have one because she’s a princess or is it just who she is? Why does having a ‘true heart’ grant you the ability to talk to animals? Why is that the ONLY power it grants you? Why wouldn’t a true heart grant you the ability to…do…something that allows her to prove who she is to her father?

Second, why is everyone so surprised that Angela has a desire to help people? Several times, people are like ‘Why did you help me?’ and she’s like ‘I couldn’t not help you. Why, is that weird?’ Is everyone in this universe apathetic or a jerk?

Why can’t the King recognize Angela by looking at her? She has a pretty notable face, and her hair even stays the same over the years. He also somehow has a photo of her that he keeps with him.

He has Prince Charming syndrome when faced with an impostor. He gave Angela a bracelet the night that she was kidnapped – it was her late mother’s bracelet and only Angela should have it. Some bitchy impostor who looks nothing like Angela has the bracelet and he’s fully willing to believe she’s Angela when the real one’s right there.

Why are they pushing for an ‘every girl longs to be a princess, and life is sucky when you’re not one, but, yay, I am one!’ message?

Why didn’t the King use the song as a test of proving someone was Angela or not? He said only his wife, he and his daughter knew that song. The bracelet is an heirloom, sure, but 1) It could easily be lost or stolen. And it’s easy to expect your kidnapped daughter would have her bracelet stolen. 2) The bracelet is treated like it’s this unique piece of jewelry….Look at it.

It’s a simple beaded bracelet with no engravings. It has three charms on it – a star, a crescent moon and a heart. Three of the most overused symbols in history. Anyone could remake this bracelet. They probably have 300 at the village shop.

Why did they sequel bait this? Why? “She lived happily ever after….at least until…well, I’ll save that for next time.” No next time. Just now.

Did they really think this would take off enough to warrant a sequel? To be fair, the studio did come out with another animated Christmas movie, but it’s not a sequel to this one. It’s called, as creatively titled as this movie, A Very Fairy Christmas.

I might watch it if I can find it, but don’t hold your breath. Fairy stalkers are sure a creepy concept, though.

The music is actually quite tolerable for a movie of this nature. But, goddamn, they jam like 12 song breaks in a 44 minute long movie.

The art and animation bounces between ‘bad, but not horrifying’ to ‘they’re not even trying.’ They don’t do a single thing to make Angela a ‘beautiful perfect princess’ trope….which…yay? But I swear to god I had to pause the video and laugh for a good two minutes because Angela has the face of a meth addict.

The fact that the IMDB page mentions addiction makes this all the funnier.

The animation studio behind the movie, Cheshire Smile Animation Inc. doesn’t seem to have a wide library of work, but give them credit for lasting in this industry for 18 years.

Overall, this movie is a waste of time. I was never begging for it to be over or anything. It’s not horrible and the music’s actually alright. But you don’t come out of it with anything more than when you went in. I’m not even sure there’s a moral to this story…..Be nice?

Oh yeah, I haven’t really mentioned Christmas, have I? Angela gets her bracelet on Christmas Eve. The song she learns is kind Christmassy. There’s a scene midway in the movie where Angela pauses her quest to go home to stop at the miserable village. They can’t celebrate Christmas because they’re being taxed so much. Angela reminds them that Christmas isn’t about the presents, it’s about friends and family….and then she gives them all presents that she randomly has in her sled…

Christmas is…around in this movie, but it’s not at the forefront.

Episode One-Derland: Karasu Tengu Kabuto

Plot: Kabuto is the last of the Tengu, a clan that sealed away the dreaded Kuroyasha many years ago. Kuroyasha Douki has recently returned, and wants revenge on the descendant of the Tengu clan for sealing him and his comrades away. Kabuto is a mighty warrior, but he still requires help to take down the Kuroyasha. He unlocks an ancient demon sword named Hiryuu and calls upon the four guardian gods of his family to help take them down.

Breakdown: Mmm smell that 80’s cheese.

There’s not a whole lot to say here. It’s one of a million ninja clan vs. evil demonic ninja clan shows that peppered the 80’s the 90’s in anime. But this one gives the main character black crow wings. Oooooooohhhhhhh~~~~

As a first episode, it does a good enough job at explaining the backstory, hero, villains and what the objective of the story is. The hero’s just as you’d think, the villain’s just as you’d think and the intro battles are putty patroler-esque pushovers. Except the finale gives them these cool flying statues that blow fire.

The art is very dated, and the animation is damn near funny with that classic, always mocked, sudden zoom in to a shocked face trope, as well as the regular action animation shortcuts of cutting away during an attack to just animate a lit up slash on a black screen.

That’s not to say the action’s not fun. It’s not some of the best I’ve seen, but it’s pretty good so far.

The music is mostly forgettable, and remarkably that’s probably the only aspect of this that isn’t really dated.

Final Verdict:

Anyone who wants a dose of 80’s ninja cheese can enjoy this just fine, but so far there’s really nothing to draw anyone else in. I’ll keep it on the back burner.

Recommended Audience: No nudity, but a decent amount of violence and a bit of blood. 12+

AVAHS – Danny Phantom: The Fright Before Christmas

Plot: At the holiday season, Danny’s smile is on pause

as his parents fight to the teeth over old Santa Claus.

Year after year, the fight sparks up again

And Danny’s patience has begun to wear thin.

He takes out his anger in the zone meant for ghosts

Christmas trinkets and toys – he makes them all toast.

Meanwhile, the Ghost Writer completes his best work,

Danny ruins his poem, doesn’t care, what a jerk.

In vengeance of the story he lost,

He traps Danny in a poem world, for that is the cost.

Only when Danny learns the lesson will he be freed,

But Danny is adamant against doing the deed.

He’s determined to stay in his holiday funk,

Even when his friends and the town believe he’s a punk

Ghost Writer’s framing Danny for destruction and theft

If Danny doesn’t do something soon, they’ll be nothing left.

Can the Ghost Boy learn the lesson in time?

Or will he be stuck in a world of perpetual rhyme?

Breakdown: Is it time for A Very Animated Holiday Special again? Jeez, slow down, world.

This isn’t a must-see classic for me, but it’s still a treasured Christmas special from my childhood. It has a lot of great aspects to it. The reality-bending Ghost Writer was pretty unique and interesting. I wish we got to see more of him, especially considering how powerful someone like that can be. He even has mind-controlling/reality warping powers over the other ghosts – that’s pretty incredible.

I liked reassembling all of Danny’s old foes for the sake of having a Christmas party – that the enemies themselves planned! Danny’s the one being the grinch this whole episode yet people you’d think would be the jerks this time of year, like Sam and Danny’s foes, are caught up in the Christmas spirit and spreading cheer everywhere.

The fact that they team up with Danny to take down the Ghost Writer because he, ironically, disrespected the sanctity of Christmas and their annual Christmas truce was just awesome. I’m a sucker for plot lines where enemies and heroes team up – especially on Christmas.

I gained more appreciation for the story as a whole for this rewatch as well.

Every year on Christmas, Danny’s parents would do nothing but endlessly fight over whether or not Santa exists – Jack proclaiming he does and Maddie scientifically proving that he cannot….which is kinda strange because she’s a damn ghost hunter. Their fights would ruin every Christmas, and Danny would get less and less excited for the holidays every year until he got to a point where he hated the holidays.

Don’t know how Jazz survives it with a smile, though. She understands Danny’s anger, but she’s experienced more of these terrible Christmases than Danny and she still enjoys the holidays just fine.

When I got to the third act, I realized that they were subtly flipping the script on Danny. The Ghost Writer literally forces him to destroy Christmas for other people by ruining decorations, destroying toys and mowing down everyone’s Christmas trees. Even though they don’t point it out, he was doing to others what his parents did to him – he was so caught up in his own anger and fighting that he didn’t realize he was ruining the fun for other people.

Everything doesn’t start turning around because Danny suddenly gets all chipper for Christmas – it starts when he realizes that’s he’s ruined Christmas for everyone and gains a desire to fix it for them. Up until this point, it’s been about what he wants. It’s not even a magical turn around based on his realization either. It’s, AGAIN, his foes that come to save the day for him in honor of Christmas and gives him a taste of the holiday spirit, which, eventually, leads to the spell being broken. It warms my heart. (Also, hell yeah the Box Ghost gets a time to shine!)

The only point I didn’t like was, Danny’s such an ass about hating Christmas that he unabashedly doesn’t care that he destroyed the Ghostwriter’s masterwork poem all because it was a Christmas poem. I know he has to reach a high level of asshattery to warrant the spell placed on him, but that was still terrible.

Overall, though, I still really love this special. It’s not overly saccharine and forcing Christmas spirit down your throats. It’s a fun and heartwarming special that merely celebrates the Christmas spirit (just realizing that I’ve been making a pun this entire review…) and promotes not being a grinch to others, no matter your opinions on the day.

Smile Precure!/Glitter Force Episode 4 Sub/Dub Comparison

Plot: The girls find Nao to be a super cool and talented girl, so they decide to see if she’ll be the fourth Precure. In an attempt to get to know her, Miyuki spends some time with Nao’s little brothers and sisters. When her family’s put in danger as Akaoni strikes again, will Nao join the Precure family to save them?

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Emily: “The evil fairy tale villains of the Shadow Realm.” They said it again. I’m never not going to be shocked by this. Shadow Realm. Shadow….realm…..

Emily sounds really cocky when she says ‘It wasn’t easy convincing Kelsey, but I finally did.’

Title Change: Straight Ball Showdown! Cure March of the Wind is changed to Here Comes Glitter Spring…..These dub titles are really lazy.

The Bunny Cure Decor summons a hair brush….that….sparkles when it brushes hair……Does not compute. Does not compute. Error.

I didn’t need to see Brute putting on his freshly washed undies, thank you, Smile Precure.

Akaoni’s excited over his freshly washed underwear. Brute is excited to be fighting in too-tight shorts he purposely washed in stinky swamp water.

Miyuki thinks that Nao is brave and cool. In the dub –

Emily: “Just like I saw her in my dream!” Yes. Emily. We. Get. It.

Name Change: Irie is changed to Jared.

Irie says he’s not eating lunch today because he’s on patrol for school grounds clean week (We’re still in the same week as last episode then I guess.) In the dub, Jared says he never eats lunch because he’s so busy.

Miyuki says ‘That’s it!’ Emily says ‘Glittertastic!’

Like always, there’s the change from speculating that someone would be a good Precure to pointing out that they know she’s a Glitter Force warrior and stating she’ll have trouble believing them.

Minor note, but we seriously have to tone down the brightness in the dub when Emily’s simply running?

Ooh a bulk name change.

Name Changes, in order: Keita is changed to Calvin, Haru to Harriet, Hina to Hannah, Yuuta to Hugo and Kouta to Cody.

Nao’s parents are out at a neighborhood association meeting. April’s are at a vague ‘convention.’ Not really sure if this qualifies as a change, but I’ll note it anyway.

This is odd. In the original, in a game of Tag, all of the kids claim they’re ‘it’ which prompts them to chase Miyuki. In the dub, they all say ‘not it’ which makes Emily ‘it’ but the person who’s ‘it’ is the one who does the chasing, so why do they start chasing Emily?

It’s just weird because, even though I can’t prove this, isn’t Tag more of an American thing? I know the writers probably haven’t played in decades, but it’s not a complicated game to remember, especially when the original lines/rules are right in front of you.

The kids think Candy is a tanuki/raccoon dog. In the dub they, mostly understandably, change this to simply a puppy.

Even though it’s very much a bad thing to do for the kids to play catch with a ‘puppy’ IE, using the puppy as a ball, and they should be told not to do that, knowing it’s Candy and seeing Miyuki play along is pretty funny.

In the original, the kids are pretending Miyuki’s a monster and they attack her with toys. In the dub, they’re playing keepaway, which just makes it confusing because no one’s catching the toys on the other side and the kids cheer when one of them hits her in the face with a pillow.

Akaoni believes someone’s calling for him since the kids are yelling ‘Monster’ in the dub, he says he hates the sound of laughing children.

Eyecatches:

Can someone replace my big sister with Nao, please?

Miyuki lists off Nao’s positive points again before trying to ask her to be a Precure. In the dub, she says the Glitter Force is just like a family.

I…guess this is an untranslatable…joke? In the original, Akaoni says ‘Any good kids ‘round here?!’ to which Akane responds ‘Shouldn’t that be ‘Any crybabies ‘round here?’?’ In the dub, Brute says ‘Game over!’ and Kelsey responds ‘Oh well, we didn’t have anyone to play goalie anyway.’ I kinda prefer the dub line because it makes more sense to me.

Oh thank god. I’m getting to that point where my soul just goes numb when I hear the ‘poof poof’s and ‘glittertastic’ in Lucky’s transformation.

Wait, what the hell? They left the brightness up in Peace’s transformation only today? Why?! Her color is frickin’ yellow! It’s hard to get brighter than that! Didn’t I just ding you earlier for lowering the brightness on a regular running scene? Now we get Glitter Mustard shoving bright yellow light into our faces? Please start making sense, Netflix.

Strangely, they edit out the shots of them putting the powder on their faces.

I love how Akaoni lost this week’s Rock, Paper, Scissors game. That was pretty funny.

Since the game isn’t kept in the dub, they change this to Brute being angry at the overly saccharine speeches the girls make when they transform, calling out Peace specifically for her ‘puppies and kittens’ spiel.

Likewise, when Peace explains that she’s properly playing Rock, Paper, Scissors whenever she transforms, the dub just has her confused because everyone should love puppies and kittens.

Likewise, likewise, Candy ‘won’ the RPS game by saying she threw scissors this time, even though her ‘hands’ don’t allow her to make such a gesture. Sunny points this out.

In the dub, Candy says she loves puppies and kittens and tells them to not care what Brute says. Kelsey points out that Brute is starting to make a new offensive.

Oh good, Lucky’s shortened it to just ‘We’ve got spirit!’ Making progress.

I kinda find it funny that they recant on the whole family theme this week with Akane going ‘The bonds between us!…..aren’t really all that strong yet…but they will be!’ Come on, you guys have been together for all of a couple episodes/days. Have you not yelled out ‘BFFs!’ in unison yet?

However, the dub puts it back by having Kelsey say that he may be bigger and stronger than they are, but they have each other. They’re the Glitter Force family.

In the original, Miyuki says she’s not sure if she’s supposed to tell Nao if she’s Miyuki or not. Akane then says that her statement just let the cat out of the bag. In the dub, she tells April straight out that they’re Glitter Force warriors and Kelsey says they have an opening just for her. Really getting sick of this because, like I mentioned before, it seems like they’re just pushing the girls towards the Glitter Force door. ‘Come on, we know you’re a warrior. Transform and let’s go home.’

Akaoni’s next lines are basically the same, but the dub adds in a bit about him not speaking to his family, except his uncle who owes him money.

Again, they dim the regular running shot.

Name Change: Cure March is changed to Glitter Spring.

Side note, but I really like March’s boots.

March doesn’t say anything when her bow appears. Spring says ‘Spring has sprung!’

Wow, I actually think her hair might be bigger than Happy’s. I am baffled how such a thing is physically possible.

March’s speech is ‘Laying down the gauntlet with courage blazing….Cure March!’ in the dub, she says ‘A force as strong as life itself….I’m Glitter Spring!’ I actually like the dub’s version a lot better.

March says she’s going to keep her family together. In the dub, Spring says ‘Let’s see what this outfit can do!’

So, Happy is able to jump super high, Sunny seemingly has enhanced strength over the others, Peace has the ability to electrocute her opponents when she cries and March has super speed. Sweet. I wish more magical girl shows gave each girl a special ability outside of a unique attack.

Ya know, given the distant shot of where everyone was standing, March didn’t need to run at all. Then again, her crashing into the pylon was hilarious.

Attack Name Change: March Shoot is changed to Sparkle Shot. Really got reach a bit deeper inside your creativity reserves, both sets of writers. Honestly, if there’s one area I’d welcome massive overhauls its in these bland attack names.

I like that they incorporated Miyuki’s love of soccer into her attack, much in the same vein as Akane and her volleyball-inspired attack. Don’t know where that leaves Peace and Happy, though. Is it just inconsistent?

Akaoni complains that falling on his butt got his undies dirty….which….how…is he able to…see….? In the dub, he still complains that he fell on his butt, but that’s all he complains about, which makes it seem even weirder, somehow, because why the gigantic delay in complaining about falling on his butt? That happened a couple minutes ago.

Does every episode need to end with ‘Call me by my first name since we’re friends’?

This line is, again, omitted, and replaced with her saying she knows they’re wondering if she’ll join their team.

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You can find my opinions on this episode as a whole here.

As for the dub, they did a really good job this time around. Only minor things got changed here and there, and some of the changes they did I find preferable over the original, particularly the speech and the change from March to Spring.

I’m still irritated by the fact that the dub has the girls knowing who the other Glitter Force warriors are and the air of ‘let’s just tell them and move on’ that I keep getting from the debut episodes, but it’s not a huge deal. Plus, it’s going to end after next episode, I assume…I hope we won’t get a recurring psychic!Emily.

Next episode, the debut of Cure Beauty!

AniManga Clash! Tokyo Mew Mew Volume 1

Plot: Ichigo Momomiya was a normal girl until she was chosen to be a part of the Mew Mew Project – an initiative created by Ryou Shirogane and Keiichiro Akasaka. Their objective is to combat the Chimera animals created by the ‘alien’ Kishhu and protect the planet. Infused with the power of red data animals – creatures close to extinction – Ichigo needs to find the other Mew Mews and save the world.

Breakdown: I sure have talked a lot about Tokyo Mew Mew, haven’t I? Two full series reviews, an SDC and I’m in the process of reviewing the second non-dubbed half of the series step by step. Ah well, you can’t say I’m not thorough. But, for the sake of brevity, let’s skip most of the things people already know of and stick to the bare bones in regards to differences.

– Ichigo’s first kiss (even if it was accidental) was really with Aoyama, not Kisshu. In addition, it happens in the very first chapter. The kiss with Kisshu still happens, but the fallout of it is not seen until volume two.

– Every one of the Mew Mews is in the first chapter, which actually fixes the slight annoyance of them being nowhere to be found, even for a brief moment, in the first episode of the series where everyone gets their powers.

– Mint’s brief shot in her ‘debut’ chapter is pretty similar to the way it was in her intro episode. She offers Ichigo a handkerchief after she gets stuff on her face. However, she’s perfectly polite to her after that outside of sneering at her while leaving. Later, she teases her about her date with Aoyama, but she’s not being an ass like she is in the anime.

– Aoyama’s a bit crazy over environmental issues. He’s obviously passionate about it in the series, but he’s aggressive about it in the manga. I don’t know if it’s the art, but that’s how it’s coming across.

– Lettuce is being bullied pretty badly by some bitches when she’s suddenly saved by Pudding. She manages to distract them for a while, and Ichigo is about to jump in when Zakuro grabs one of the bitches arms as she’s about to pour scalding hot coffee all over Lettuce.

Mint also seems to have no idea who Zakuro is at this point. None of this is present in the series, which is a shame because it gives us a fairly decent intro to all of the girls, albeit a little convenient.

– There are some additional scenes that aren’t terribly important, mostly filling in some of the blanks that the pilot of the anime left behind.

– The setting of Mint’s Mew Debut (or De-MEW! Ahahahahaha!….Oh God, 4Kids poisoned my brain.) is different (it happened backstage at a ballet recital instead of at her house) but the circumstances are basically the same.

– Lettuce’s debut is a little different in that she’s being meaner in the manga, but that’s about it.

– Pudding’s debut is after the nocturnal animal exhibit date with Aoyama in the manga. In the anime, Ichigo comes across Pudding in the park after she’s gone grocery shopping for the cafe. (After several filler episodes)

– The kissing incident with Kisshu happens during her initial meeting with Pudding. She’s gushing over her cat ears when Kisshu ambushes and kisses her.

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So far, I like what the manga did with the story better than the anime. The art’s cleaner, the girls are all a part of the story from the beginning (though maybe that depletes a bit of the mystery involving who the Mews are) and there’s no filler so far.

About the only thing to note in regards to negatives are that Aoyama’s a bit more intense, though not often, and Lettuce was also slightly more aggressive, though it’s not a mainstay. Plus, I like that she bit the bullet and broke out of her shell a bit on her own at the cafe in the end. Nice slice of character growth.

Round One Winner: Manga

Thanksgiving Special Double Feature: The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn’t & A Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn’t

Plot: As a family sits down for Thanksgiving dinner, a father squirrel tells his son about their ancestor, Jeremy Squirrel, and how he saved the first Thanksgiving.

Breakdown: I have never seen this special before today. There’s also not much information online about it.

Not surprised, really. It’s a nice little special courtesy of good ol’ Hanna-Barbera, but it’s dreadfully boring.

The story is actually pretty accurate to the history of the first Thanksgiving,surprisingly, (Barring practically everything they’re serving) with the twist that the first Thanksgiving nearly didn’t happen because two dumbass kids, a native American boy and a pilgrim boy, ran off in the middle of the night to play and got lost. Jeremy Squirrel not only reunited them with their families, but he also saved them from a wolf and saved Thanksgiving.

In that order.

I say ‘in that order’ because he did indeed reunite them with their parents before the wolf incident…and their families/the settlers/natives were 100%useless in attempting to save them. The pilgrim boy’s father had a gun and was going to shoot the wolf, but the native American dad was all ‘Don’t! You might hit the boys!’

Which I immediately followed up with ‘So let’s just stand here like idiots doing nothing while our sons are eaten alive by a wolf.’ Because that’s what they did. They stood there, probably planning out their sons funerals in their minds, while a squirrel, a goddamn squirrel, had to come up with and singlehandedly instigate a plan to save them.

No ‘Hey, what if I approach the wolf from the side, taking the boys entirely out of my line of fire and saving them from certain death?’ Just ‘herpa derp RIP boys.’

And….that’s about it. The characters aren’t engaging, the story’s not interesting, and it’s animated by Hanna-Barbera, in the 70s no less, so there’s nothing great there. The music was kinda good, but got grating really quickly.

Since that was such a bust, I thought I’d give everyone a treat and review a second Thanksgiving special. Yup. This Thanksgiving….y’all are getting second helpings.

……I’m so sorry for that terrible joke.

A Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving

Plot: Rabbit tries to plan a perfect Thanksgiving for everyone in the Hundred Acre Wood.

Breakdown:Would you hate me if I said I didn’t have much to say about this one, either?

I don’t even have a small point of ranting. There’s just not much to talk about.

I like Winnie the Pooh as much as the next person, but I was expecting this special to be predictable and kinda boring and that’s what it was. I got a few smiles out of it and the songs were kinda nice, but that’s pretty much it.

Something hit me while watching this special, though. Thanksgiving specials tend to tell the same story over and over. Something goes awry with the dinner, everyone thinks its ruined, and then they come together with some simple feast and enjoy the holiday because Thanksgiving isn’t about food – it’s about family and friends and being thankful for what you have.

In a lot of ways, Christmas specials have a similar issues. They frequently parrot the ‘It’s not about presents, it’s about family and friends and giving’ moral, but the thing is that Christmas has enough mythos and potential to have a bunch of wildly varying stories come from it. Thanksgiving just…doesn’t.

Even though I now know my options for future specials are more than I thought I had (Wiki was a big help) I have a hard time remembering or getting excited for any of these. I’m not saying they’re all bad, but outside of a few ‘I watch this all the time at Thanksgiving because it’s tradition’ specials, how many Thanksgiving specials really stick with you?

Maybe the Friends specials, because they tended to make those their own thing, but I don’t even really remember much of those outside of Monica having a turkey on her head and that onetime they played football together.

I don’t mean to be a Thanksgiving Grinch, I guess you’d say, but it’s true. The Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special is trending on Twitter right now and that reminded me that, oh yeah, there’s a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special.

Maybe I’ll find some hidden Thanksgiving gems next year, but this one was kinda lackluster.

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Whether you’re in America or anywhere else, I hope you have a very nice holiday/weekend. I am eternally thankful for everyone who manages to tolerate my incoherent babble on this quaint little blog, and each new view, like and comment is brings a bit more brightness into my day. You guys are the absolute best, and I can’t begin to thank you enough.

Happy Thanksgiving!

~Fiddletwix

SSBS – Smile Precure! Episode 4: Straight Ball Showdown – Cure March of the Wind


Plot: The girls find Nao to be a super cool and talented girl, so they decide to see if she’ll be the fourth Precure. In an attempt to get to know her, Miyuki spends some time with Nao’s little brothers and sisters. When her family’s put in danger as Akaoni strikes again, will Nao join the Precure family to save them?

Breakdown: I really enjoyed this episode. Nao is a fantastic character. I always have a soft spot for the mature, responsible big-sister types in the group. And I’m eternally thankful that her brothers and sisters are both believable and likable. That is so hard to find in shows with these character backgrounds.

Her transformation and attack are both kinda cool, but I’m still thinking they’re just falling asleep at the wheel when it comes to making cool attacks/transformations/attack names. That’s half the fun of magical girl shows, guys. Come on.

March’s super speed and seeming super kicks are awesome, though.

I also like how, even though it’s not a huge differentiation, we switched from the fully friendship theme to a family-oriented one, and that the reason Nao transformed was for the sake of her brothers and sisters, not the Precures.

There were many small moments I really enjoyed, especially when they talked about Peace’s Rock, Paper, Scissors game.

I honestly don’t have any real complaints about this episode. It was a lot of fun all the way through.

Next episode, we round off the Precures with Cure Beauty!

Pokemon Extravaganza! Movie 06: Pocket Monsters Advanced Generation the Movie: The Wishing Star of Seven Nights: Jirachi (Sub) Review

Rating: 8/10

Plot: A former member of Team Magma, Butler, wants to use the legendary Pokemon, Jirachi’s power to absorb energy from the Millennium Comet in order to power a machine to revive a Groudon from a fossil. Jirachi selects young Masato as his partner to protect him in the seven days he has awake while the Millennium Comet is visible from earth, and it’s up to Masato, Satoshi, Haruka and Takeshi to keep Jirachi away from Butler and return him back home.

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Jeez, long-ass title there, Japan.

That is the best Japanese poster I have seen for the movies so far. It’s reverting back to a bit cluttered, and Jirachi kinda looks pudgy for whatever reason, but everything else looks fantastic. I like the nice touch of having Jirachi’s true eye start to open.

I’m pretty excited but a little worried for this review. Dogasu said the script suffered from quite a few changes, though the comparison is pretty short. I really liked the dubbed movie, but will the subbed version make me rethink my opinion?

15 Minute Mark

Sadly, I’m working from the English visual track (widescreen somehow, guess they must’ve re-released it) with the Japanese audio, so I can’t compare the title screens.

Ah, I never noticed that the guy in the van at the end credits is part of the festival. He never has a big role in the movie outside of selling May/Haruka her wishing star but that’s a little interesting.

I find it weird that Kirlia got a voice change despite keeping the same name between versions and them both saying that same name.

Speaking of voice changes, Butler’s original voice is so much better. Suave and deep.

Butler commands Dusclops/Samayouru to do Will o’ The Wisp. In the dub, he says ‘Kappitata’ or something like that. It’s weird because this attack is the same thing in the English version. Maybe they wanted it to be triggered by a ‘magic word’ for whatever reason.

Half-Hour Mark

The whole thing about Jirachi needing a friend to emerge isn’t quite right. When he is about to emerge, he chooses a kind-hearted young boy as his partner to help protect him over the time that Jirachi is active. In a way, it’s a chosen duty or honor for this boy (no idea why it specifically has to be a boy…) not that simply Jirachi wants or needs a buddy or is designated as a ‘wish maker’.

The way it’s worded in the original also adds more weight because being Jirachi’s partner technically means that he’s Masato’s Pokemon, like how Satoshi considers Pikachu his partner, making Masato extra happy because that means he has a Pokemon of his own now. In the dub, their being labeled as friends changes the dynamic just enough to not hold as much weight.

Haruka says she’s not quite sure about the ‘kind-hearted’ part and Masato gets defensive and says Jirachi just understands him better. May feels like Max is going crazy for hearing voices and talking to a rock. Max gets defensive and says May’s just jealous because Jirachi wants to be friends with him and not her.

This changes the later scene when May tries to touch the rock. It goes from Max teasing her about wanting to touch the rock when she said it was crazy to be friends with a rock to Masato teasing that he supposedly was too un-kind to let her touch it.

The wishing star that May bought was originally the ‘wish-maker’. I wouldn’t have brought up, really, but the fact that the title of the dub is ‘wish-maker’ and this is the first I’ve heard of that phrase in the original (Jirachi didn’t say it to Masato when he was talking to him earlier) makes me wonder.

I refrained from mentioning this in the other review, but the guy with the van I mentioned, the one scene in which he has a speaking role is here (where he sells Haruka the wish maker) and he sounds normal in the original but very ‘bad guy’-ish in the dub.

Masato isn’t being quite as creepy as Max was with the rock. He asks to hear Jirachi’s voice again and that’s why he ‘snuggles’ the rock. Max says they’ll be best friends and then hugs the rock.

The thing about transporting Haruka makes more sense in the original. She merely says to return everything to where it came from, which Jirachi takes as meaning he should put Haruka back in the pile of candy from which she emerged. I don’t know why 4Kids changed this bit to something that made no sense—Oh wait, 4Kids. Default setting – Make no sense.

Oddly enough, there’s actually a reference to the movie’s short. Nyasu’s original dialogue says that they should use Jirachi to wish for a new base that won’t be broken or danced on. This is in reference to the fact that Team Rocket’s new base was destroyed due to the magic dance wand thing in Gotta Dance. This is the first time I believe the show/movie has ever mentioned anything from the shorts. Kinda neat, actually.

Takeshi says that if Jirachi and Absol are friends, then it makes sense to teleport Achamo/Torchic and Pikachu out to avoid the fighting. Brock says it’s unlikely that the two know each other since Jirachi’s been asleep for 1000 years.

45 Minute Mark

The land that Jirachi originates from is called Faunz not Forina.

Butler doesn’t say that he’s doing this for Diane, which of course we know he isn’t anyway, he’s doing it purely for revenge and his own pride. He just pleads with her to understand why he needs to do this.

Takeshi says Groudon’s power is the ability to create land, not just that he has ‘incredible power’.

Okay, now we’re at a point where the original makes no sense. Diane says that part of the necessary procedure for awakening Jirachi is to find the young boy that Jirachi wants to be his partner. Thus, Butler has been putting on a slue of magic shows in search of that boy. But surely Jirachi wouldn’t contact his partner before the day of the comet’s arrival? Unless he would and some boy would have to be friends with a rock for days, weeks, months, years, possibly decades just to get to the comet’s arrival and that’s if the kid is lucky enough to be born within a decent time frame of the comet’s arrival.

What would Butler have done if he found the right kid like last year? Stalked or kidnapped the kid for a year until he can awaken Jirachi?

This conversation is omitted from the dub in lieu of more explanation of the comet’s energy and Jirachi’s ability to absorb it.

And now we’re bridging a gap I had in the dub. I never understood why Butler, who seemed to have great aspirations of being a magician, became a scientist for Team Magma. In the original’s flashback to Diane and Butler as kids, she says he loved inventing things that surprised people, which culminated in magic tricks when they were kids and his attempt at making a Groudon revival machine as an adult.

I believe his desire to put on a show for people, impress them, resulted in a big ego for Butler, and his pride as a showman was greatly damaged when he was humiliated by Team Magma after his failure.

It’s mostly implications and theorizing, but it’s something to ponder.

Okay, I’m going to talk about Team Rocket because I just don’t have much to discuss here. Team Rocket is after Jirachi too. They’ve been following the group this whole time supposedly waiting for the right time to snatch Jirachi, and while I’m glad they never try because, in all honestly, one Team Rocket snatch job is more than enough for most episodes and seriously isn’t needed in the movies, the fact of the matter is…..just that – they never try.

The group is on this trip for four days and they are completely unguarded save for Satoshi and the gang. Butler snatched Jirachi right from Masato’s arms offscreen even, while Takeshi, Satoshi and Pikachu were all asleep within two feet of each other. Why aren’t they making any effort to take Jirachi?

They have at least three opportunities to do that at night while everyone’s sleeping and they just sit there doing nothing. They, both sub and dub, even say at a point that they have the perfect opportunity, yet still nothing. Their desire to catch Jirachi is only there to keep them on screen because they’re a crowd favorite in America and Japan.

Hour Mark

Got nothing particularly note-worthy here.

End Mark

Butler originally tells the boys that he’s sorry for what he’s done when he’s being absorbed. In the dub, he said at least he’d get to be with Diane. I prefer the original’s because I think we needed a moment where he actually said outright that he was sorry for what he’d done. Knowing that he loves Diane and wants to save her only goes so far, ya know?

Jirachi just says he loves Masato, he loves everyone and that they’re all friends. The group assures this. In the dub, this was the stuff with Max being the one to grant Jirachi’s wish of having a friend.

Oh God, Takeshi’s Japanese VA is just as bored-sounding when he’s singing this song!

Oh okay, so Diane and Butler actually had a reason for staying in Faunz beyond ‘as long as we’re together’. Butler and Diane want to help restore the land that was damaged from the clone Groudon’s attacks. They also plan on studying the plant life.

The ending song is the same between versions except that it’s, obviously, 100% Japanese instead of half Japanese half English. I like both versions equally.

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Bottomline: The script wasn’t changed too much for the dub. I really stretched for some of my notes here, but yes the script for the original is better than the dub’s. Some things that were nagging me were explained such as Masato’s actual role here and why Butler and Diane were staying in Faunz. We still get no explanation as to why Groudon turned out that way, but I guess wecan just chalk it up to an experiment gone wrong.

The dialogue’s better and really shows how much wording can help a script, the voices are better, and, oh yeah, there aren’t any jarring edits. At least they didn’t really change the story or lore, but the minor changes to the script can still have lasting impacts.

The only thing I would call major is the fact that the ‘wish maker’ thing doesn’t exist. The only ‘wish maker’ in the original is Haruka’s charm thing. The dub kinda leads you to believe that Max is chosen as a ‘wish maker’, kinda like Jirachi’s a genie and Max is his master. It doesn’t come up much, but it does pop up a few times and is the name of the movie.

The ending song, while still having a bored-sounding Takeshi, was also a bit less silly to listen to, making the ending more emotionally connecting.

4Kids missed the mark a bit here, but it is by far not their worst efforts. I still really wanna slap whoever thought it was okay to release the movie with incredibly obvious and annoying screen jumps.

Recommended Audience: E for everyone!

Hell Girl: Two Mirrors – Episode 9: Elder Brother, Younger Sister

HGTM EP9

Plot: Maho wants to send her brother, Mikio, to hell for ruining all of her relationships before they even start. Though that’s just the tip of the iceberg….

Breakdown: So……incest!

Ya know, I never realized when I started this anime reviewing gig that I’d spend so much of my life talking about incest. And yet, here I am.

Let me backpedal a bit. Mikio is in love with Maho, but Maho’s either deeply in denial or she fully believes her given story, which is that Mikio forces all of her boyfriends to leave her because he feels she’s not pretty enough to have a boyfriend. Mikio is this super hot literal model and Maho, despite the cavalcade of suitors she appears to attract, seems rather ordinary.

Maho detests this behavior enough, and/or believes her brother secretly hates her anyway, that she calls Hell Girl.

She does learn the truth before she pulls the string, and, being fair, no actual incest is had here. He tries to sexually assault her, but she fights him off before he’s even able to kiss her. Later, it’s…kinda….vague, but there are hints that she might have romantically loved him back and she sent him to hell because they could never be in the same house knowing that about each other?….I dunno.

All things said, this seems like a boring episode, right? Let’s up the game, shall we?

Mikio is actually a crossdresser. At night, he masquerades as a beautiful woman named Miki. He’d dress up like a beautiful woman, which he could easily pull off, and he’d hunt down Maho’s new or potential boyfriends, hit on them and then spend the night with them on the condition that they break up with Maho.

How he pulled this off….I don’t know. Either he wasn’t going ‘all the way’ with these guys, not allowing them to discover he’s actually a guy, or….Maho has a habit of finding suitors who are bisexual…..or Mikio is so hot they didn’t care.

Ultimately, I honestly didn’t want this guy to go to hell. I doubt any sibling relationship can go back to normal after something like that, and attempted sexual assault is pretty bad, but I don’t feel like that’s instant one-way trip to hell worthy. It’s especially worrisome when you consider an odd detail near the end.

Maho’s mark is noticeably lighter than most of the curse marks you see and she claims she’ll be seeing him soon. Even though there are no other indications of suicide, and the candle at the end wasn’t nearly extinguished or anything, it seems to hint that she’s going to take her life either out of guilt or because she wants to be with him.

The idea that she felt the same way about him confuses me a little. If she did, then I don’t see what truly stands in their way. Their parents seem to be dead, and they can easily move far away so no one knows their connection.

If taboo is the issue then…..uhh…why not go for it? Calling Hell Girl (and then committing suicide?) seems like a much worse fate. At least if you gave each other a chance, you’d have some happiness before you, theoretically, went to hell.

I don’t really think she loved her brother romantically, but the question does hang in the air.

Rating: 6.5/10 (Mostly just because it wasn’t that interesting and it was kinda confusing.)