Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Huntik: Secrets and Seekers

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Break your spine today, Sophie?

Plot: In a University in Venice, Italy, a college student named Lok and his friend, Sophie, accidentally find Lok’s long-lost father’s journal and an amulet in one of his old artifacts. Before they even even begin to look into it, a group of people in black suits burst into his house and attack him with strange powers. They’re after the journal, but Lok travels all over Venice to ensure its safety.

Along the way, he gets imbued with similarly strange powers from the amulet he found, and he finds some sense of security with a man named Dante, who helps save him from the people in suits. He reveals that the suited people are from an evil group known only as The Organization. They utilize ancient powers and summon powerful titans from their amulets for nefarious purposes. Those who possess these powers are known as Seekers, and there is a benevolent group of seekers known as The Huntik Foundation, who aim to take down The Organization.

While Lok quickly wants nothing more to do with the situation, Dante reveals that he already is a part of it since the amulet synced with him, making him a Seeker. The Organization returns for another face-off, this time with more firepower. Will they be able to make it out in one piece?

Breakdown: This show has awesome music.

The instant I heard the opener, I was sold….but maybe I was a bit cheap because there’s not much going on in the originality department here.

Missing dad? Check.

Main Character suddenly dragged into a huge conflict with mysterious powers and monsters? Check.

Obvious love interest? Check.

Being so vague about your enemy that they’re literally bad guys in black with a non-descript name? Check.

Suddenly saved by mysterious guy with uber powers and luxurious hair? Check.

It’s not the most cliché thing in the world…..but it’s up there. Being fair, they put plenty of action in there to hold your attention, but nothing about the story really grabbed it.

Just to get these minor annoyances out of the way, here are some minor annoyances.

– Lok seriously didn’t know what an amulet was. Not what THE amulet was – what AN amulet was…..he’s a college student.

– Bad guys are after the journal, journal falls into water, stops Lok from going into water, make no effort to go into the completely calm canal water to retrieve journal. Don’t even stick around long enough to see him surface. Good job.

– Sophie was reaching for a precious and delicate artifact left behind from your father, is having no real issues reaching it or getting it down, yet you act like she’s about to be hit by invisible falling debris and tackle her, ensuring that the artifact breaks. Good job, Lok. Though, being fair, it’s rude as hell to get all grabby on what is clearly a delicate ancient statue.

– How did Lok’s dad get that stuff in that statue anyway?

– Sophie describes Lok as a nerd and he can even complete a full crossword puzzle in less than two minutes, but he’s super lazy in school, never bothered to open his textbooks out of their plastic wrapping and needs to copy Sophie’s notes.

– They were too lazy to animate him completing the crossword. It was an actual plotpoint, but they skipped it through black fades. They animated a completely pointless Indiana Jones dream sequence, but not him completing a crossword. They even have to have a little note on screen that says ‘Less than two minutes later’

That out of the way, the art and animation is Italian. That about sums it up.

Alright, I’m not being fair. Sorry Italy. But, really, can someone point me to some Italian animation that doesn’t look like it was given the budget of a bucket of nails? I feel like I’m unfairly building a bad view of it just because I keep coming across shows like these.

The art itself is alright. Passable enough. It’s the animation and lip-syncing that make me gnash my teeth. This series was produced by Rainbow s.r.l., the same people who brought us Winx Club. It’s done in that same style, but to the best of my knowledge, the quality is much worse. That might be the fault of their co-producer, Big Bocca Productions, but damned if I can find a single word of that company that isn’t ‘They helped produce Huntik.’

Huntik’s level and type of animation problems can only be summed up in one way – It’s exactly the same as those old religious cartoons from the 90s and early 00s. I can’t describe it any better than that. I was almost expecting this to be produced by a company that made some of those shows and specials, it was just that similar.

As for the lip-syncing, I have no clue how they produced this they way they did, but whatever system they used to work between America and Italy to fuse the animation with the voices did not work. Keep in mind, this show was not originally voiced in Italian. There is no language gap to jump, excusing the poor syncing. As a fan of anime, I would be more than glad to turn a blind eye to that (mostly).

I assume Big Bocca Productions is the American company who did the scripts and voice work. Rainbow did the animation and designs. Rainbow has the responsibility of matching their animations to the script and voice work, so I guess I have to mark off Rainbow for this.

The voice acting as a whole is just alright. We have some actual voice actors here such as Yuri Lowenthal, Marc Thompson and even Maddie Blaustein. They’re not putting their all into it, but they’re not really phoning it in. The sound mixing and editing is sometimes terrible, though. There will be instances of characters accidentally talking over each other and sometimes the music drowns out the voices.

Marc, however, is doing a terrible job as Cherit, the little talking bat-creature thing. Just imagine one of your parents putting on a high-pitched witch-like voice when they would read to you at bed time, and that’s basically what he’s doing.

Final verdict:

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Just barely eeked out ‘undecided’, mostly because A) music is still awesome, B) it intrigued me enough to at least plug on for now. Maybe it has more to offer to set it apart from the crowd. At the very least, I might get to see some laughably terrible stuff.

…….But seriously, he had no idea what an amulet was.

Exploring Disney’s Castle: Snow White (1937)

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Rating: 9/10

Plot: Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess named Snow White. Her evil step mother, the evil queen, was incredibly jealous of her beauty to the point where she demanded that she be killed. Her assassin wasn’t able to kill her and instead prompted her to run away into the woods. While wandering in the forest, she stumbles upon a house obviously owned by seven dwarfs and because she’s a girl in a fairy tale she just busts in like she owns the place. The dwarfs return from their precious gem mine and find the girl, allowing her to stay there as long as she cooks and cleans for them. However, the queen has learned that she is still alive and decides to go kill Snow White on her own.

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I was prompted by some friends to go back and watch old Disney classics, and here I am. Please note, though, I am not going to watch every Disney movie ever. Animated ones, probably, but not live action. When it comes to the live action ones, I’m probably just going to pick and choose and not go in any particular order.

I’m glad I decided to do this. It’s a welcome break from constantly harping on shitty Disney sequels, though hopefully I’ll be done with that whole series soon enough. There’s just something about classic Disney that warms my heart. And it’s usually not even nostalgia either. There’s something legitimately enchanting about old Disney movies, especially the animated ones. It’s the style, the tone, the way the movies connect with its audiences – it’s just great.

Disney hasn’t completely gone off the deep end. While much of their latest stuff in terms of TV shows has been crap, I’ve been able to stomach a good portion of it. I even watch some of their stuff on and off.

They do well with their theatrically released movies. Hell, they dug themselves out a few hundred feet with the release of Frozen.

I believe many of their staff still have a good deal of heart. It’s the higher ups behind it all that tend to make their products the overly manufactured BS we tend to expect from Disney nowadays.

But what of our first feature for this venture? Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? How well does it hold up in dear old Twix’s opinion?

Very well, actually. I have a great fondness of movies that, even if they do have issues that I could go off about, I like it so much that I don’t want to. This movie is very obviously one meant to be enjoyed with family and friends. Sure Snow White’s 14 years old and pining for a boyfriend like she’s an old spinster. Sure one who clearly looks to be in his 20’s just happens upon her and falls in love instantly. Sure it seems odd that despite it being the dwarfs’ house and they’re just letting her live there that Snow White acts like a mother around the house and has the authority to give them orders. Sure it’s questionable that a 15 year old girl is living with seven small men. Sure it’s unsanitary as hell to have birds making decorative imprints in pies with their feet, but who cares? Just enjoy the show! And that’s what I did.

The animation is lovely. While rotoscoping was used for some scenes, it’s still one of the best examples of Disney animation in my opinion, and I am just a sucker for great animation. The faces on Snow White, the prince and the queen look off sometimes, but it’s nothing the normal non-nitpicker would point out.

The story is decent enough. All of the characters are likable. You even start to like Grumpy after a bit. The prince is just barely there. He has a love-at-first-sight thing going on with Snow White and shares one scene with her before leaving the movie and coming back at the end to wake her up with love’s first kiss. This was supposedly because he was the hardest character to animate, but I don’t see how he was more complicated to animate over the queen.

The songs stand up amazingly well, and so many of them I still hum randomly to this day.

I have my qualms with the ending, but it’s a Disney fairy tale movie from 1937. Nitpicking a ‘happily ever after’ ending just seems moot.

In regards to production, Snow White was a huge risk and accomplishment in animation history. It was the first ever feature length cel-shaded animated movie in history, and it came with a hefty price tag. So much so that many people around Walt Disney, including his wife, Lillian, and brother, Roy, tried numerous times to talk him out of the production. He went on with it anyway, mortgaging his house to fund the project.

 

In the end, it cost 1.4 million dollars or 25 million dollars today – more than five times the estimated budget of $250,000. His risk paid off. Snow White was a huge critical and financial success, and it even inspired the production of The Wizard of Oz in 1939. It has long since become one of Disney’s most treasured classics, and I can’t help but get caught up in it.

 

Recommended Audience: Nothing questionable, unless you think about things too hard. They even ‘censor’ Snow White’s ‘death’. E for everyone!

Yugioh Episode 8 Sub/Dub Comparison

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Plot: Mokuba has been kidnapped by Pegasus in order to take over Kaiba’s company. Desperate to save the company and his brother’s reputation, he escapes and steals a duelist’s deck and star chips to challenge Yugi so that Pegasus can’t duel him and win control over the company. Yugi and the others have a thirty minute time limit to help the theft victim or he will leave on the boat.

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The words “Funny Rabbit” were edited off of the comic Pegasus has. Because English is evil too. Oddly, though, they also add a picture of Funny Bunny to the cover.

Subbed:

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Dubbed:

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Pegasus’s wine was dialogue changed to fruit juice. Because alcohol doesn’t exist…I can understand editing out smoking and alcohol if a good character is doing it (prevent kids from imitating their favorite characters) but doesn’t a villain doing those things insinuate that they’re bad?
Subbed version says it’s been nine hours since the tournament began. The dub says six.

 

Both versions clearly state that those without star chips must leave the island…Again, why is no one bothering to take away T’ea/Anzu, Honda/Tristan and Bakura?
I love how Pegasus obviously has cameras all over the island yet he can’t/won’t catch cheaters. Anyone could steal star chips this way as Bandit Keith and Mokuba show…Then again, Pegasus is a cheater too…
I also love how they arrange a luxury cruise liner to bring them to the island, but only have a rowboat to get them off.

 

They edit out Jounouchi telling the kid that if he finds his chips that he has to give him half. Makes the entire scene where it transitions from heroic to exasperated groans incredibly awkward.

 

Yugi needs Yami….to beat a kid half his age at a game he’s supposedly awesome at….I just….geez.
Jounouchi doesn’t insinuate anything about Yugi’s Millennium puzzle in the original. It’s like 4Kids is constantly dropping hints at the fact that there’s a different spirit in there. As if the transformation sequences every episode weren’t a freakin’ clue.

 

They impose a Millennium symbol on Yugi’s head right after Mokuba puts his chips down and T’ea follows it up by saying it’s like Yugi is looking into his soul….We get it, 4Kids, the damn necklace is magic. We’re picking up what you’re slamming down. In the subbed version, T’ea just says that Mokuba doesn’t have a duel glove, thus he must be the criminal.

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In the flashback, subbed version, Kaiba says he needs to learn of the heart of the cards in order to be as good as Yugi. Then he gives Mokuba a secret key card that allows access to numerous company files and secrets that he’s meant to protect while he’s away. (Yeah, leave a little kid in charge of a multi-billion dollar company. That’s smart. Hope he doesn’t get kidnap—oh wait.)

 

In the dub, they strangely omit this. Kaiba just says he’s not himself and needs time away to think. He gives Mokuba a card claiming it was his favorite and then leaves. I also don’t like how Kaiba’s constantly calling his brother “kid” here. They’re closer than that.
 

This is kind of a big deal because that card is the whole focal point behind Mokuba’s kidnapping. They kidnapped him to find out where the key card was. In the dub, he’s kidnapped because they want to control him because only a Kaiba can give orders in his company. The subbed version makes more sense, but I guess they didn’t want to associate cards with kidnapping…No wait, cards are associated with all sorts of bad crap in this show, so I guess it’s just pointless.
 

I find it hard to believe that a kid who was brought up in a company that focuses on Duel Monsters and is the brother of the world champion of Duel Monsters doesn’t know the main basics of Duel Monsters. If a monster’s attack points are lower than your opponent’s monster’s, you lose. You had to have picked up at least that much just by watching Kaiba duel once or twice.
 

Again, they impose a Millennium symbol on Yugi’s head to insinuate that he’s using his powers in the dub, when in the original, he’s not. Because Yugi’s so stupid he needed magic to figure out that was Mokuba. What with his clever disguise of wearing the exact same clothes he was wearing the last time Yugi saw him, pulling his scarf over his mouth and wearing a hat, he should be in the CIA.

Subbed:YGOSDCEP8SCREEN5

Dubbed: YGOSDCEP8SCREEN6

 

In the sub, the Big Five, as they’ll later be called, says they’ll talk with Kaiba about the arrangement with Pegasus. In the dub, they want Kaiba out of the picture, AKA killed.

 

Dub Mokuba: “If I can’t beat you *grabs two of Yugi’s star chips* I’ll have you disqualified!”

..Because Yugi losing two of his five star chips means he’ll be disqualified? What?

 

I dunno why but they edited in a scene of Mokuba looking down and sad just to say “Let’s do it” right before they transition back to the boat.
 

Kaiba’s scene at his hideaway is edited in to before when Yugi and the others arrive at the docks.
 

4Kids edited in the goons knocking at Kaiba’s door by basically cutting out the door and quickly animating a zoom-in and out a few times. Because it’s rude not to knock dammit! They do this twice, by the way. Once after Kaiba glances at the door and another before he places the duel disks in the briefcase.
 

The infamous guns changed to pointing fingers scene. And yes, it still looks ridiculous. They also edited out the scene where he fires the gun at Kaiba, and they edited out the shot of Kaiba falling. I do have to say Kaiba saying “You’ll never take me alive” still tickles my funny bone. I will admit, their cut of Kaiba blocking the bullet is impressively done. You’d never notice there’s a (literal) shot missing from that.
Subbed + Extras: YGOSDCEP8screen7YGOSDCEP8screen9YGOSDCEP8screen10YGOSDCEP8screen12YGOSDCEP8screen14YGOSDCEP8screen15YGOSDCEP8screen17YGOSDCEP8screen18YGOSDCEP8screen19YGOSDCEP8screen20

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Dubbed: YGOSDCEP8screen8YGOSDCEP8screen11YGOSDCEP8screen13YGOSDCEP8screen16YGOSDCEP8screen21

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They splice in a closeup shot of the ocean after the initial shot of the window.

I don’t think I have to tell you that fake-Kaiba doesn’t make puns in the subbed version. In the original, he just says “I have to have revenge” over and over.
This episode was okay. I think it was a little bit of an excuse to get rid of some of Yugi’s star chips to give him more duels to compete in. However, it does show how dedicated Mokuba is to his brother and introduces us to one of the weirder duels of the show.

 

Next episode, Yugi duels ‘ghost’ Kaiba or Kaiba’s evil shadow realm counterpart as he’s known in the dub.

Pokemon Episode 27 Analysis: Hypno’s Naptime

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CotD (s): None, really.

Captures (technically): Misty’s Psyduck – Not really a legit capture since Psyduck trapped himself in Misty’s Pokeball, Psyduck is one of Misty’s most notable Pokemon next to the yet-to-debut Togepi. He is one of the funnier comic relief Pokemon with his dopey behavior, but the fact that he starts the teeth-gnashingly annoying trend of Pokemon who let themselves out of their Pokeball just to appear, say their name and that’s somehow deemed funny is something I will never forgive him for.

Plot: Ash and his friends arrive in a large city called Hophophop Town, lost yet again. Suddenly, a woman runs up to Ash and hugs him tightly, proclaiming that he’s her lost son, Arnold. They clear up the mistake, and Arnold’s mother explains that Arnold suddenly disappeared three days ago with no communication in the meantime and no logical explanation for his sudden disappearance.

Arnold’s mother explains that her son is just one of many children who have disappeared in the town recently, so she has little hope of seeing her son again. Brock, always earnest to help Officer Jenny and Ash, reminded of his own mother through Arnold’s mother, along with Misty get involved in the missing child investigations.

Officer Jenny relays to the kids that all of the missing children disappeared exactly three days ago. Since Jenny has no other leads, she’s decided to ask the children hanging out at the Pokemon Center if they know anything or if they’ve seen the missing children. They don’t get many answers from the children, but Nurse Joy brings up a curious development.

Exactly three days ago, all of the Pokemon in the Pokemon Center and several local Pokemon suddenly lost all of their energy. Jenny surmises that the problems with the Pokemon and missing children might be connected. Suddenly, her sleep wave detector goes off, indicating a source of waves that induce sleep. Joy says no Pokemon at the Center should be emitting such waves, and Pikachu succumbs to the energy draining effects.

At this turn of events, they deduce that the sleep waves might have something to do with the odd changes in the health of the Pokemon. They follow the intensity of the sleep waves and find themselves at a mansion that that’s been built on top of a skyscraper. It turns out that the sleep waves were being emitted by a Drowzee and a Hypno. One of their Drowzee evolved into this Hypno three days ago, creating another link in the oddities around the city.

The club members explain that they’ve been using Hypno and Drowzee to help with their insomnia. Brock deduces that Hypno’s Hypnosis must be having an adverse affect on the Pokemon and certain sensitive children since the wavelength must’ve been changed to put humans asleep as opposed to Pokemon.

Misty tries it out, and after Hypno uses his Hypnosis on her, she suddenly starts acting like a Seel. She bursts from the mansion and runs towards a large park. As she enters a clearing, the group sees all of the missing children have gathered here. They’re all acting like Pokemon and vehemently refuse to snap out of it.

One of the club members suggests to use Drowzee’s dream waves to counter Hypno’s sleep waves, and they bring Misty back to the mansion to try it. It works, and Misty snaps out of her Seel state. Encouraged by the results in Misty, Ash and the others decide to bring Drowzee to the park to snap the other children out of their trances.

Suddenly, Team Rocket drops from the sky on gliders, intent on stealing Drowzee and Hypno. They trick Hypno into hypnotizing itself by putting him in front of a mirror, but Ash stops it before it completes by smashing the mirror with a potted plant.

As plan B, Jessie and James nab Drowzee and Hypno with whips, but Misty uses Staryu to slice through both of the whips and free them. Ash uses Pidgeotto’s best Gust attack to blast them off, and they head back off to save the children.

Drowzee works his dream magic on the children, and they’re all back to normal. Pikachu also snaps out of his drained state. As the children clear out of the park, Arnold’s mother appears and reunites with her son.

They head to the Pokemon Center and cure the Pokemon too. Everything’s back to normal, but Joy remains concerned over the Psyduck that keeps holding its head. In an attempt to impress Joy, Brock agrees to take Psyduck and try to help it. However, he’s completely clueless as to what to do with it. He tries to pawn it off on Misty, but Misty isn’t interested in a ‘boring’ Pokemon.

Ash attempts to research Psyduck again through Dexter and it’s revealed that there’s nothing wrong with Psyduck – it’s a part of its nature to always suffer from a perpetual headache. As Misty bursts in anger at this revelation, she topples over and one of her Pokeballs falls out of her bag. Psyduck bops the button on the ball and captures itself, leaving Misty with ownership over it.

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– Like the Rainbow Badge episode, this was another episode I had on VHS, which means I watched it fairly frequently.

And, even back then, this episode raised all sorts of questions with me that left me more confused and weirded out the more I watched it. I can’t really think of any episode like it. It’s such an odd duck. But don’t just take my plot synopsis’ word for it. Let me take you on a journey of confusion.

– Even in cities, these three cannot help themselves but get lost.

– Why is it never explained why this city is called Hophophop Town? Nothing about this name makes sense. There’s never anything hopping related going on ever (this episode might be better suited for a much later Hoppip themed episode or something) and it’s not a town – it’s a huge city rivaling Celadon in its sheer size and skyscrapers.

You might think this is just 4Kids having their stupid jollies, but it’s not really. In the Japanese version, this town is called Yoyoyo Town……which makes about as much if not less sense. Actually, it sounds like they got the names backwards. If either set of writers would stake a claim on Yoyoyo Town, it would be the masters of rap, 4Kids.

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– Misty: *after seeing the wall of posters* “My picture’s going to be on posters when I’m a big famous star!” Reacting to a wall of posters with pictures of missing children with ‘~~~*sigh* I’m going to be famous!~~~’ is about as vain, self-absorbed and terrifyingly uncaring as you can get, Misty. Please hit yourself repeatedly with a rock for 45 minutes and think about how awful your last line was.

Though, if I can delve into the Bulbagarden comparison for a moment, this actually isn’t nearly as bad as her original lines.

“Originally, Kasumi’s first line has her saying that she’d better watch out for kidnappers because she’s so cute. Satoshi and Takeshi kind of give her a look, prompting her to go “What!?” Satoshi then pats Pikachu’s head and tells Kasumi that, fine, she is cute and that she had better watch out.

I guess the dub changed this because they didn’t want parents walking into the room and hearing one of the main characters act so nonchalant about a subject like child abduction.”

Yeah, 4Kids didn’t do a great job changing this line, but the Japanese writers definitely eek out a WTF at this.

In all honesty, this would be one occasion where I’d be fine just cutting the whole exchange, animation and all, but Kasumi, my God, what the fuck is wrong with you? Your elated smile and pose lead me to believe you find child abduction to be flattering. Not to mention that kidnapping usually has little to nothing to do with how ‘cute’ you are. Hate to go dark here, but if a child abductor is really nabbing you on the grounds of your physical appearance, the outcome would likely not be in the least bit happy for you, Kasumi. Please seek help.

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– It was in this episode where Ash has the flashback to the lost episode, which spurred my multi-year-long annoyance as to where that scene came from.

You want to know what else? Even this little tidbit induces additional confusion!

Another dip into Bulbagarden’s comparison shows that this isn’t even the clip that was originally used for Ash’s flashback to his mom. In the Japanese version, they used a clip of her from the pilot.

Since I’d just be parroting their reaction, here’s another excerpt.

“Like…what was the logic behind that decision!? Maybe they thought it would be better for Ash to think about the most recent time he had seen his mother instead of the first time? But when that “most recent time” comes from an episode that, as far as dub viewers know, doesn’t exist, you run into problems. I wonder how many fans watched this episode and wondered “wait a minute…when did that happen!?” I’m sure there were more than a few.

Even today, this edit is weird because the majority of Pokémon fans in the U.S. have never seen “Beauty and The Beach” and would therefore have no reason to know where those clips came from.”

I believe 4Kids wanted a more sentimental memory of Delia for Ash to be thinking of at this moment since the original was a comedic scene where Delia’s handing him a bunch of stuff to take with him on his journey. Though, this is still a little sentimental because it shows how much Delia dotes on him and cares about his well-being.

While the shot from Beauty and the Beach appears more sentimental and is nice in context with the trophy, the actual scene when shown here and with no prior knowledge of the lost episode is just empty. He smiles at her, she smiles at him while holding a trophy (‘for some reason’, thinks the oblivious viewer) and he leaves.

I have enough to develop a headache about in this episode, so let’s just leave that there.

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– Ash is incredibly annoying saying ‘Brilliant deduction!’ every few minutes. Mostly because he doesn’t seem to know what that really means.

– Brock’s also being obnoxious by scaring the crap out of a couple of little kids just for the sake of impressing Jenny.

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– Ash: *in reference to a sick Magikarp* “Looks like it’s ready for the deli counter.” Why the hell would you say something that crass? You might as well tell Oddish it’s ready to be in a salad and Cubone that he’s about to be reunited with his mom. Not only is it crass, but it’s also stupid. Ash knows quite well that Magikarp are inedible. They’re nothing but scales and bones. He learned this on Pokemon Shipwreck.

– Nice to see Nurse Joy’s also joining in on the idiocy. She should know that Psyduck suffers from an endless headache, thus there’s nothing really wrong with it.

– Here’s one of the biggest questions of the episode – Why the hell does Jenny have a sleep wave detector? Nonono – why does she have a sleep wave detector on her? Nonoononononono – Are sleep wave detectors standard issue for cops in the Pokemon world? Nnononononononononononononononono – why are sleep wave detectors a thing? How could they possibly be useful outside of this insanely specific circumstance?

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Was there a rash of criminals taking naps in their crime scenes? Are you worried Freddy Krueger’s going to pop up somewhere? Are you a cop who usually patrols parks and you use it to detect sleeping homeless people so you can ask them to please sleep somewhere else, sir? Do you scan pieces of evidence to see if anyone’s napped on it recently? Did a hypnotist on a cheap cruise line traumatize you because he made you quack like a duck every time someone says ‘potato salad’? I am legitimately curious as to the history of this thing.

The whole concept of the sleep wave detector just seems silly and incredibly lazy. They could’ve made up something like the sleep waves were interfering with some of the equipment in the Pokemon Center or something of Jenny’s and the malfunctions got worse the closer they got to the source. Or they could’ve had a Pokemon be somehow attracted to the sleep waves and follow it to the source.

Nope – fucking sleep wave detector.

In the first draft, this thing was called ‘the convenient plot device generator’

– Alright, with all of that sleep wave detector nonsense behind us, we can move o—why the hell does Team Rocket have a sleep wave detector?! I mean….I guess if anyone had such a stupid device, it would be Team Rocket, but, seriously, where did they get a sleep wave detector and how did they know such a device would be useful here?

– Their plan this week is also pathetic and stupid. They plan on finding the source of the waves and knocking out Giovanni with it so they can take a vacation. Yeah, I’m so sure no one will notice he’s MIA and wake him up incredibly quickly. I’m sure he doesn’t have any subordinates who can take over his job temporarily if he’s indisposed. I’m sure he won’t realize what you did to him when he wakes up and he won’t put your collective asses in a sling.

Plus, they’re completely ignoring the obvious criminal use for a source of sleep waves – putting Pokemon to sleep. Their main objective is stealing Pokemon. Imagine if you could put any Pokemon to sleep. A whole Pokemon Center, forest, lake etc. of Pokemon out like a light. All you’d have to do is nab them and put them in a container then gift wrap them and send them to Giovanni. I’m sure he’d rather have loads of Pokemon delivered to him than be pseudo-roofied by you nimrods.

– Why is there a huge mansion/estate on top of a skyscraper? The characters also express surprise and confusion at this, but not a single person gives a reason as to why this is happening. It seems so inefficient, illogical, not cost-effective and just stupid. Surely if you have the money to get a mansion built on top of a skyscraper, you have the money to buy a huge plot of real estate in the city or just beyond it.

 

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By the way, skipping ahead a bit, maybe if you rich idiots want to help your insomnia, you might not want to live and socialize in a huge loud city by purposely building your house/meeting area on top of a skyscraper.

– Yes, Officer Jenny, just let these small children break into what could be a building filled with dangerous people.

– I have a bunch of questions about the Pokemon Lovers Club.

1 – So this mansion isn’t even a place where someone lives – it’s just a clubhouse? You went through all that trouble and spent so much money for a clubhouse on top of a skyscraper? Talk about disposable income.

2 – This is a Pokemon Lovers Club, so I assume there are frequently lots of Pokemon up in this clubhouse at any given time…..On top of this skyscraper…..with no protective barriers to stop them from falling off the roof. More like Pokemon Negligence Club.

3 – For a Pokemon Lovers Club, this place is sure devoid of….well, Pokemon. The only Pokemon in the area are Hypno and Drowzee, and those are the only Pokemon they talk about.

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This is a far cry from what is supposed to be the inspiration of this club, which is the game’s Pokemon Fan Club. (It’s never explicitly stated that it is, but given that the original Japanese name for the fan club is Pokemon Lovers Club, it’s hard to say it’s not)

You’d think they might make up for it with Pokemon décor or activities or something, but there’s nothing even Pokemon related in the entire vicinity besides the Hypno and Drowzee sitting on that table. Everyone’s just standing around drinking wine….err, I mean, what I assume is fruit juice. It’s like that pseudo-sitcom trope where the mom has a book club but it’s really an excuse for her and her friends to sit around and gossip while drinking wine.

4 – So if the point of this club isn’t celebrating all Pokemon, I guess I can assume it’s for a Hypno or Drowzee fandom….if that’s true, why is no one paying it any mind before Ash and the others talk about it?

5 – From what they say, it’s almost like the point of this club is an insomniacs club. All of these rich tycoons are so stressed out from living in the city (pbbbttttmove awaypbbbttttput your clubhouse in a place that isn’t the top of a skyscraperpbbbbtttyou’re hobnobbing and drinking in the middle of the day – you can’t be too stressedpbbbbttt) that all of them suffer from insomnia, a condition I’m surprised 4Kids didn’t try to explain to the audience. So they all get together and have Hypno and Drowzee use Hypnosis on them to help them get to sleep at night.

6 – To help them get to sleep AT NIGHT. Why are they making Hypno put them to sleep now?

– Why is the closeup shot of Hypno using Hypnosis a still-screen? It is insanely creepy because of that.

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– Okay, I can understand Hypno’s changed wavelength having an energy-draining effect on Pokemon. If it’s altered from the regular version, it’s just making the Pokemon in the area incredibly tired as opposed to being entirely asleep. That doesn’t really explain Charmander’s dying tail flame, but still.

I can even believe it’s affecting only certain children in the area who might be sensitive to such waves, putting them in a trance state.

What I DON’T understand is why the children all start believing they’re Pokemon. The only reason I can come up with is that, when people get hypnotized in shows in real life, they’re commonly given something goofy to do, and it usually involves acting like an animal – like acting like a dog at the sound of a bell or acting like a chicken at the sound of a clap……but that just doesn’t make much sense at all.

Apparently they originally based this off atavistic regression, which is a hypnosis technique in which the therapist helps psychologically regress a person to previous evolutionary states, eliminating internal stressors, activities and barriers that usually cloud a person’s mind and make them stressed and anxious. This therapeutic technique is used to help people sleep better, be more relaxed and be more open to hypnotic suggestion.

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Problem is, humans did not evolve from Pokemon in this world. (Did they? I’m not current on Pokemon lore. I know Arceus is treated as Pokemon God, and that’s about it in that regard.) Even if they did, atavistic regression doesn’t cause you to start acting like you’re devolved. It just attempts to switch off certain higher functions of the brain that have only been utilized in recent stages of evolution. You’ll have a clearer head, not communicate through grunts and attempt to spear down a city bus.

I also don’t understand how these waves can be so friggin’ powerful that it’s affecting children and Pokemon for miles around. By that logic, any other Hypnosis should zonk out any Pokemon in a five mile radius, like when Jigglypuff uses Sing only much worse.

– Ash, you stuffed a comatose Pikachu in your zipped backpack instead of leaving it at the Pokemon Center where it could be treated? What is wrong with you?

– Thank God Seel!Misty knows how to use an elevator or else there’d be a big stain on the sidewalk out front.

– If the aspect of the children all suddenly believing they’re Pokemon is hard to swallow, even given the backstory of the idea, it’s impossible to believe that they’d all be drawn to the exact same spot in the park. Misty was gunning for that place, she knew exactly where she was going – like it was innate. What’s so special about this section of the park?

– Let’s hope none of the kids believed they were Water Pokemon based on fish or else you might want to call a dive team.

– That one kid should not have been able to crawl down that tree on his belly like that.

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– These kids are surprisingly clean and well-groomed for living in the woods acting like Pokemon for three days.

Gentleman Guy – “I know! Why don’t we use Drowzee to cure the children?”

Ash: “Drowzee?”

Gentleman Guy – “Sleep emits dream wavelengths, which, in this case, might counteract Hypno’s wavelengths.”

I don’t….understand that sentence…..Sleep….emits dream wavelengths…yes. That might counteract Hypno’s wavelengths…..no….Hypno made those wavelengths….Why would Drowzee….he might have a different wavelength but….dream wavelengths… Dream Eater? How would that help?…..How is this…working?……Forget it. Let’s just say they’re reversing the polarity and move on with our lives.

Ah, according to the Wiki, this is just a dub error. Sleep is Drowzee’s original name and 4Kids accidentally used it here……Still doesn’t clear up what the hell is going on, but that clears up the sentence structure anyway.

– They’re having Drowzee emit his dream waves toward Misty?….How is that not Hypnosis?….Why does Hypno not have an ability of his pre-evo? Nope, I’m not going down that slippery slope again.

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– Drowzee’s Hypnosis shot isn’t nearly as creepy as Hypno’s because he’s actually animated here, but it’s obvious the animation is just keyframes. Is this a post-edit because of the Porygon episode? Even Misty, when she’s being subjected to the dream waves, is clearly animated in an extremely shaky way (IE, you can see the frames jutting up and down) Neither the Bulbagarden comparison nor the Wiki page even mentions this odd animation.

– I’ve always thought Eric Stuart’s delivery when he says ‘Just don’t hypnotize me. Okay, do it.’ was hilarious for some reason.

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– Hypno’s incredibly stupid for attempting to hypnotize a mirror. Who is its trainer/owner? Why did no one command it to stop?

– Oh now Hypno’s animated when doing Hypnosis. No clue what’s different now. Also, it has that same keyframe animation issue.

– Nice throwing that flower pot to destroy that mirror, Ash. Considering Hypno was standing a foot away from it and you threw it through the back, Hypno should be cut up like a Christmas ham right now, but good job.

– Hey, Pidgeotto nice to see you actually being used for a change. Though, this is still technically using it for blasting Team Rocket off.

– All, and I mean all of the voices of these children are horrible. Awful. Just….awful.

– Why did they all spontaneously blurt out what they wanted to be when grow up?

– Ash really doesn’t look much like Arnold at all. You only see him for a few frames, but he’s much shorter, has completely different clothes and his hair is blue not black. Guess his mom could’ve just been hysterical, but still.

– Misty is known for adoring even the ugliest of Water Pokemon, but she has absolutely no respect for Psyduck out of the gate and even calls it boring despite hearing that it has mysterious powers.

– Why does Misty have such a burst of anger over hearing Psyduck always has a headache? She doesn’t even own it at this point.

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– That last bit is just all sorts of giant convenient coincidence. She just happens to fall. She just happens to have a Pokeball fall out of her pocket/bag. It just happens to stop rolling right in front of Psyduck. Psyduck just happens to bop the button over and over to enlarge the ball and capture itself.

– Not to be cruel, but why doesn’t Misty just instantly release Psyduck if she’s so intent on hating it from the get-go? It didn’t even do anything wrong. She just hates it for no reason.

– Mystery of what the inside of a Pokeball looks like solved – it’s a blue abyss of nothingness.

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Like I said, this episode is just an endless stream of confusion and peculiarity for me. It only got even worse the more I analyzed it. Some questions were answered, but I just raised other questions I never even thought of before, and if this weren’t the episode where Misty gets Psyduck, I’d almost say it’d be better off if we all just believed it was a weird collective dream.

Now that I think about it, this is the perfect episode for Psyduck to debut in. What better Pokemon to have be caught in this massive web of weirdness and disarray than the Pokemon who, like all of us at this point, has a massive headache?

Next episode, one of my favorites, Brock meets his idol in breeding, Suzie, and gets Vupix.

Shounen Step-By-Step: Bakugan Battle Brawlers Episode 1

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Plot: Bakugan is the latest gaming craze across the globe, but it’s not just any old kids game. The origins of the Bakugan are a complete mystery. Cards just suddenly started raining from the sky across the world, and some of the cards contained monsters which could be summoned by the card wielders. A group of kids decided to make a game out of the mysterious cards and monsters, and Bakugan was born. However, the world where the Bakugan originate from is in danger, and it’s up to Bakugan players such as the hotheaded upstart Dan and his friends to save it.

Breakdown: I’m not going to sugarcoat this. Bakugan Battle Brawlers looked like a very dumb show to me from the instant I saw a trailer for it. Hearing the plot synopsis didn’t help. I think I finally understand what parents felt like when we tried to explain Yugioh, Digimon and Pokemon to them. Does that mean I’m a grown up now?

I have a soft spot for gaming anime either way, so I felt like I needed to give it a shot. My opinions ended up…….well, let’s find out.

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Let’s start out with seriously just parroting the opening lines word for word.

Dan: “I know this is going to sound weird, but one day my whole world changed. You see, cards started dropping from the sky; coming down like rain. At first, we didn’t know where they were coming from or who sent them – we only knew they were more than just ordinary playing cards. And it was happening all across the world. The north. The south. They landed everywhere.

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Together with my new online friends from around the world, we invented a wicked new game that we called ‘Bakugan’. That’s when the power of the cards was revealed. Each one of them held their own battling beast which came alive when you threw it down. The battles were intense, and if you chose the wrong card you lost it and the beast inside. But that’s only half the story. An even bigger battle is taking place in an alternate universe called Vestroia. My name is Dan, and together with my friends Runo, Marucho, Mr. Hotshot himself, Shun, Julie and Alice we are the Bakugan Battle Brawlers!”

Did you get all that? Because holy crap that’s a lot of backstory for a first episode plot snippet.

Let’s break this down piece by piece.

Cards suddenly fell from the sky all over the world and instead of being investigated by any government or being confiscated, all the kids just picked up the cards and decided to make a game out of it while the parents and other adults just accepted it. Okay, I guess that’s fine.

The cards held the spirits of monsters and, when released, the beasts took on the forms of…transformable marbles that you could shoot onto a playing field, allowing you to release them into a more formal beast state, and they conveniently also work with the game that the kids made up?

But wait, there’s more!

These beasts also exist in an alternate dimension called Vestroia where they battle each other all the time and might be at war for some reason.

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And what do these kids being the Bakugan Battle Brawlers have to do with it, besides the fact that they play the game?

It’s just so much to take in in a matter of about 45 seconds. That could’ve been an episode all its own.

Anyway, after our intro narration, we get our theme song which is a really mixed bag. I like the melody and instrumentation, but the lead singer just sounds horribly generic and the lyrics are the exact same BS that plagues nearly every show similar to this; never give up, power’s in your hand, blah blah blah.

Our main character, Dan, arrives home and goes through his little marble things that all look exactly the same yet he can tell them apart somehow. He then runs off to meet a little runt named Akira whom he supposedly had a Bakugan match with, but Akira reveals that he’s switched with his big brother, a towering fat thug named Shuji. I don’t know why they’re keeping in all of these Japanese names, yet they altered Dan’s name to being short for Daniel instead of his real name of Danma.

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Anyway, Shuji states that his specialty is subterra space, something Dan’s never even heard of before, and they start their battle.

They each draw a card and call the field to open, which sends Dan and Shuji into another dimension and slows down time…..Why did the many governments of the world not take these cards again?

While in the weird multi-colored purgatory dimension, Dan and Shuji draw one more card each to set their gate cards, which grow to the size of a soccer field and materialize face down. Shuji throws a brown and yellow marble on the field and calls his Bakugan to stand which prompts the marble to open into a little monster form. Out of the field comes a giant praying mantis monster.

Using his….calculator watch (?) Dan analyzes the field and finds out that his opponent is a subterra mantis with a power level of 270.

Dan selects his Bakugan and throws a marble thing out onto the field, calls it to stand which prompts it to open into a little monster form. This summons some giant red snake that is never named with a power level of 320. They battle or Bakugan Brawl and it looks like Dan’s monster will win because he has the higher power level, but Shuji opens his gate card and changes the playing field to a desert – Egypt I suppose if the pyramids are any indication. This gives the subterra mantis a power boost to 420, which allows him to beat Dan’s monster.

Shuji: “Oh man, that was easy. You fell faster than a deck of cards in a tornado.” Is he meant to be too dumb to realize it’s supposed to be a ‘house of cards in a tornado’ or are the dubbers dumb? Decisions, decisions.

High off his first round win, Shuji sends out another Bakugan. This time it summons a giant enemy crab.

Dan isn’t fazed by this and also sends out another Bakugan, this time revealing a…..Male Garudamon?…..Nah it can’t…..B—huh?

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Anyway, Dan opens his gate card, which changes the playing field into a bunch of fire and Garudamon dude easily hits the enemy crab’s weak point for massive damage.

It’s one to one now and they prepare two new gate cards for the tie breaker. They each release another Bakugan and they summon….one green and brown lizard warrior and one red lizard warrior thing. Shuji’s monster has a power level of 320 while Dan’s has 280. They brawl and Dan activates an ability card (?) which makes fire on the ground and powers up his lizard warrior thing I guess to a point where he can take out the brown lizard warrior thing.

Dan has taken the lead and now Shuji only has his mantis left. They set gate cards again (?) and they launch their Bakugan. Shuji summons his mantis while Dan calls out Mr. Garudamon again. Shuji opens his gate card, which creates desert again, and then uses his ability card to give the mantis some sort of super powered slash ability.

However, Dan’s not sitting back and letting him finish his attack as he also has an ability card, a counter ability card to be precise, that gives Mr. Garudamon a shield of fire to stave off the slash attack. This ability card I guess also gives him enough power to take out the mantis and Dan wins.

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Since we’re at commercial, I think now’s as good a time as any to ask what in the depths of fuck just happened?!

Traipsing into Episode One-derland for a minute, first episodes have a lot of work to do. They need to hook us in, they need to establish the world they live in, what the main character is like etc. It has to set a strong foundation for the series to help us understand the story as it unfolds in subsequent episodes. When it comes to gaming anime, there’s an additional factor that absolutely needs to come into play; explaining how the goddamn game is played.

I have no clue how this game is played right now, even after seeing a full match, and that is a huge problem for this type of show. I know some Bakugan fan is probably looking at this now and rolling their eyes at me for not getting it merely by watching, but it is not set up in any way that explains really anything.

Where is our audience surrogate – the character who explains stuff about the plot to unimportant people as a means of explaining to the audience certain aspects of the story? Usually on the side lines as someone marvels at the game?

For example, in Yugioh, our audience surrogate in the first episode was T’ea and to a lesser extent Joey who explained the game’s basics to Tristan. In Beyblade, a completely superfluous character explained the game to another completely superfluous character. In Pokemon, Ash, Brock and Misty usually doled out that information either straight to us or to Ash as he was also a rookie. You get the point.

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Physics is not here at the moment, please leave a message.

I just have so many questions like, why send out two gate cards supposedly every turn if you’re not going to just use them immediately or at all? I was under the impression that two gate cards are set and neither player can play more until both of those cards have been used. They don’t send out more gate cards on each turn at first, they just suddenly start doing it. Can you not use two gate cards at once? Gate cards can also be used to weaken enemies? Are gate cards just like field power bonuses in Yugioh? Who or what dictates the power increase or decrease?

What are ability cards? Why can you just grab them and chuck them out whenever you please instead of having a legit deck and a hand of cards?

Why do these monsters seem to have no names? Mantis kinda sounded like it was being pronounced ‘Mantriss’ but, really, that’s it for a name? Just throw a consonant in there and it’s instant name? None of Dan’s monsters were given names. Shuji’s other monsters weren’t given names. I think some of the ability cards had names but I could never hear them because the other sounds drown them out. (Poor sound mixing is yay)

Why do they need to transport themselves to an alternate dimension to do this? Why does doing so slow down time across at least the whole city? And are the parents of these kids just okay that their children play games in alternate dimensions with real beasts that they keep….in…balls….In fairness to Pokemon, they don’t usually go to alternate dimensions to do that. What is that little device on Dan’s wrist and why does it look so….boring?

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I know that Yugioh is justifiably ragged on for constantly prattling on about what a card does and the rules of the game and certain strategies etc. but you know what, I’d rather know too much about what I’m watching than have really no idea. Dan does have slight inner monologue and the little watch thing helps slightly, but the watch thing only popped up a couple of times, same with Dan’s thoughts. In addition, Dan’s analysis was pointing out stuff that was already pretty obvious. Other than that, absolutely nothing.

I have never felt so lost watching the first game of a gaming anime. No one’s explaining strategies, no one’s explaining rules, no one’s explaining card effects, I don’t know what these monsters are called, I don’t know the names of the cards; things happen and then Dan wins.

Medabots, which is probably the worst shounen gaming anime I’ve ever seen to this point, did a much better job of explaining this stuff to us in its first few minutes. Rules, structure and even some strategy.

To make matters worse is how Dan is portrayed so far. He is just very very very typical. That’s pretty much the perfect word for his character. Typical. A kid who loves a game and is so good at it that he’s never lost. The first match we see him in is one in which he seems to pretty easily win, and he even ends the match by saying it was easy. So great, he’s not even a humble type protagonist, he’s a cocky prodigy type.

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I wanna punch this kid in his goggles.

Even his character design, color scheme, element selection and the types of monsters he usually uses are very typical. Red, fire and lizards/dinosaurs/dragons.

As for the battle in just an entertainment aspect, it was still dull as dirt. Nothing at all in this match was unique or cool. Shuji had a mantis, a crab, and a brown lizard warrior thing. His gate cards were deserts and his only ability card was a slashing attack. Dan’s side was equally boring; fire gate cards, fire ability card and a fire counter ability card with a red snake, a male Garudamon and a red lizard warrior thing. Also, how boring and uncreative are you to have the final match be two nearly identical monsters only palette swapped?

Plus, considering the opponent was the also typical easily defeated archetype of fat stupid cocky thug, there was no question about who would win so it’s even more boring.

Well, maybe we’ll get better as the episode goes on.

After the commercial, Dan is seen bragging to his online friends about how awesome he was in his match earlier and proclaims himself the most awesome Bakugan Brawler.

Runo states that Dan is still stuck at 121 in the world rankings, but Dan checks himself to see that he’s now 117. Runo and Dan have a little argument and Runo really comes off as a jealous bitch. I can’t understand why she’s friends with Dan. Julie chimes in to gush over Dan, and apparently she calls him Danny. Ugh. I can tell from her very first line that I’m going to hate this girl even more than Runo.

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Marucho tells Dan that he should set his sights on Shun as he’s currently ranked number one, and if he tries hard enough he could surpass him in a few years. Alice states that a few years is too long to wait, and that he should find some way to challenge him as soon as possible. Wait, what is the rush? A second ago he was excited to just be at 117, now they’re acting like it’s an emergency to challenge and surpass the highest ranking brawler. Slow down, guys.

Dan yet again gets all cocky and says he’d probably beat him easily because no one has ever even given him a challenge before. Why the like for these cocky main characters? Is it just in the hopes that they’ll get that ever sweet ‘humble pie’ arc where they get thrashed and learn to not be such an asshat?

Also, Dan is a 12 year old boy and most of his group of close friends are cute girls his age, one of which obviously has a huge crush on him and another starting a love/hate relationship deal. I’m getting Gary Stu vibes.

We cut to Shun who is lamenting over the fact that defending his title isn’t even hard. As he wishes for an opponent who will give him a real challenge, we suddenly shift to looming narration I think from a Bakugan as he wishes Dan would understand that Bakugan is more than a game.

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The unknown Bakugan then explains Vestroia to us. The dimension is separated into several sections based on the elements. The earth section is called subterra, and considering this seems like a very basic aspect of the game it seems kinda dumb that Dan is where he is right now in rank and yet never heard of it. Unless it’s just insanely unpopular as an element.

The light section is called Haos. The dark section is so creatively named Darkus. The water section is called Aquos. The wind section is Ventus. Finally, the fire section is Pyrus.

The narration suddenly ends in the Pyrus section as a red dragon, named, again so creatively, Drago, confronts a white dragon named Naga as he tries to stop his relentless pursuit of power. Drago accuses Naga of being responsible for someone named Michael, and Naga reveals that he has a card that opens a portal to Vestroia….wait, I thought they were in Vestroia, just the fire area of it. Oh whatever. Naga escapes and we cut back to earth where Dan is being challenged to a rematch by Shuji.

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Oh joy, a reprise of a boring match. I can’t wait. But hang on, Shuji’s now using Darkus attribute Bakugan. Oooh. Wait, if he was best at subterra attribute Bakugan then shouldn’t this match go even worse? Oh hang on again, apparently now Shuji’s calling himself the master of Darkus. This guy’s an idiot and is obviously going to lose again. Why am I here?

Anyway, he summons a black and purple turtle thing while Dan summons the same red lizard warrior thing from earlier only he summons him behind the turtle thing. Okay, so now we’re adding stuff we didn’t see in the last match as you can apparently summon Bakugan on various areas of the field as long as you have decent throwing or bouncing capabilities. What this does is beyond me. They don’t bother to tell you anything about it.

Shuji throws out another Bakug—What? Since when can you summon more than one Bakugan per round? That never happened once in the first game. Anyway, he summons a Darkus Stingslash, in front of the red lizard warrior thing. The little calculator watch thing explains that the Stingslash has a power level of 330 while his red lizard warrior thing apparently called a Saurus has 280. They brawl and Dan, seeing he’s in trouble, opens his gate card which is just the same fire. This increases his Saurus’ power level to 310.

Class, can you tell me which number is higher? 330 or 310? You’re right! It’s 330, the power increase wasn’t enough and Saurus goes down…..Which means….Dan’s an idiot? I mean, he had to have known that the gate card wasn’t powerful enough to save his Saurus so why even bother using it?

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Oh wait….he wasn’t destroyed….but….yes he was. I saw it happen. He was hit, glowed and then turned into his little marble form. That’s defeat isn’t it? It was before. Why is Dan saying, after the fact, that he needs to increase his Saurus’ power level by at least 20 more points if he should be out of the running? Again, this didn’t happen when the monsters were defeated in the first match.

…..And what was the point of the turtle in that battle? For that matter, what was the point of summoning the Saurus behind the turtle?

We cut back to Naga who is now in the center of the universe as he stares at the two conflicting forces of infinity and silence. The two forces keep Vestroia in balance, and he wishes to absorb their power to, say it with me everyone, RULE THE WORLD!

Of course

He also needs to do this to unite with someone named Hal-G. *shrug* He starts the absorption while prattling on about how much power he’s feeling when something goes awry. Apparently he had an overload of negative energy, which threw the balance that is required off. Without enough positive energy to counteract it, he is absorbed into the silence force as it is corrupted by darkness. Then all hell breaks loose as Vestroia starts falling apart. The various elemental sections that were once separated from each other are now open and collapsing.

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As a Darkus Bakugan attacks Drago, Dan gets a vision of the battle, mistaking Drago for a Bakugan of his as he is confused by what is happening to the dimension. The vision ends and Shuji, using his Stingslash, attacks Dan’s giant red snake thing. However, the snake thing counters him and constricts Stingslash as Dan opens his gate card called Quartet battle. This prompts Drago and the Darkus monster to be transported through Shuji and Dan’s ability cards as marble things. The marble things both roll onto the field, stand and summon themselves as Dan’s ability card turns into a Dragonoid card.

Why do you need a special card to have a quartet battle when you can seemingly summon Bakugan whenever you want?

Drago tries to get the Darkus monster, called FearReaper, to snap out of his rage since he has been influenced by the influx of negative energy. The power builds and FearReaper won’t listen so Drago kills him….and…that’s the end of the match. I guess Dan somehow won because of that. I’m just now realizing that they don’t explain the scoring system either.

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You know what really gets me though?

Dan: “I don’t get it. I thought Bakugan was just a game. But there’s more to it, and I gotta find out what.”

You thought it was just a game…Cards rain over the skies of earth. These cards act as dimensional portals which slow down time in the real world. They also act as portals for one specific Bakugan, in marble form, to emerge, and while in the alternate time-slowing dimension you create, the monsters become real and are under your control. All the while you possess the ability to create elemental powers and other abilities.

You are the dumbest person—nonono, these are the dumbest….entire human population to ever exist if they truly thought there was nothing more to all that than merely a game….that THEY CREATED FROM IT.

This isn’t like Yugioh where magical stuff happened through a legit game that was merely based on magical things originally. You created a game from interdimensional cards and marbles that turn into monsters yet you’re surprised that it’s not merely a little kid game? There’s not enough dumb to go around.

Later that night, Dan tries to get the Bakugan to talk again, but to no avail. He gives up and names Drago, of all things, Drago. Thank God both whomever named Drago initially and Dan are both incredibly uncreative. Come to think of it, I guess the same can be said of Bakugan.

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Dan: “Well, time to hook up to the web.”

When was this show made again?….2007? Yeah, stop that.

Dan enters into a video chat with his friends and explains his experience with a talking Bakugan when Runo reveals that the chat rooms and forums are flooding with people who experienced the same thing. Dan concludes that the Bakugan did indeed talk, though it’s never established that the Bakugan can’t talk to begin with so this revelation really isn’t impacting to us as an audience…actually, why can’t the Bakugan that they’ve been summoning this whole time talk? Why are they different from Drago, Naga and the others?

Dan: “Maybe there’s more to the Bakugan world than we thought!”

You’re still all really dumb.

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This….is awful. Just…terrible. It’s not the worst show I’ve ever seen by a long shot, but it’s definitely the worst shounen gaming anime so far. Congrats, Medabots. You’ve been bumped for now.

What a huge mess, especially as an intro episode. The premise is very dumb, even by gaming anime standards, but it could have been very acceptable had….anything been properly explained or explored.

I have no clue how to play Bakugan even after watching one and a half matches (the second match has a big gap in it and seems to end abruptly). The rules seemed to change in the second match, and I am just completely lost on how it really works. It’s also frustrating that cards, Bakugan and the items for the game like the marbles and Dan’s watch are not given names, at least not now. This fails on multiple levels as a first episode and as an advertisement.

Face it, gaming anime are meant to sell toys or cards or what have you. I know I saw a slue of Bakugan toys in stores when this show was popular. Why would a kid want to buy Bakugan toys if they have no clue what most of the stuff is called nor how to friggin’ play it? I mean, obviously a lot of them did because it was a pretty successful gaming anime, but it really just seems like, basing it from the first episode alone, you’re either focusing on the lowest common denominator who will just want the toys and watch the show because of mindless action and monsters or you’re aiming the show at people who already know how to the play the game, which only exists because of the show….

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The other storyline involving Vestroia, while having more explanation and focus, is also not really given much explanation outside of the elemental areas of the dimension and the forces of infinity and silence being sent out of balance. If Drago was narrating that part where we first get a scene in Vestroia….does that mean Drago knows who Dan is? And why is he so important if he does? I swear, if they turn Dan into some ‘chosen one’ or messiah character I am dropping this series like a hot rock soaked in acid.

Character-wise, we’re also really scraping some barrel bottom. Dan is just blah at best and annoying at worst because he’s such a cocky kid who keeps winning, thus giving him fuel to continue being a snotrag.

Shuji is an idiot who was never a threat, making both battles boring and predictable.

Shun, even though we only saw him for a minute, is the very typical silent loner sitting at the top of his game and will obviously be the rival of the main character. Runo’s a bitch, Julie’s an annoying little Dan fangirl, and while Marucho and Alice are fine so far they also show zero personality in the couple of scenes that they’re in.

Drago is also very typical. As if his name weren’t generic enough, you can tell right off the bat that he’s some largely noble creature trying his best to protect everyone and do the right thing.

Naga is about as generic bad guy as you can get. Two things are revealed about him so far; he has a great thirst for power and he wants to take over the world. Even the destruction of a world due to a lack of balance is overdone.

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Design-wise, the Bakugan are largely uninspired. Even the ability and gate cards are boring. You can’t really tell any of the Bakugan marbles apart except by attribute, which makes me wonder how the Brawlers can make accurate selections without opening them. The summoned monsters are just animals mostly. Snakes, scorpions, praying mantises, dragons, turtles, etc. What is slightly different from just animals is usually just an animal slightly altered like Saurus or Garudamon guy thing.

The character designs are fine, and I will admit that I like the color selections as well as Julie’s design, but Dan’s design is really cut and paste – he even wears goggles on his head.

Animation-wise, it really seems like there are some instances where it’s painfully obvious that they’re trying to make it look like it’s of much higher quality like when Dan throws the Bakugan out on the field. Sadly, these moments just spotlight how bad the animation really is. It juts, they reuse shots like there’s no tomorrow, and even the shots where they make a big effort to look well-animated just look bad. It looks like Dan is trapped in the same dimension that the guy from the Maxell VHS head cleaner tapes is from. Every part of him is just moving so much and so fast, except for his limbs which are purposely animated to be slow to make the animation look better.

While I will continue with this series just because, this really is a terrible first episode. I hope this series gets better over time, and I really hope with every fiber of my being that they start explaining this game more so I can actually follow along. At least become a mindless shounen gaming anime that I can understand and follow without having an aneurysm.

Next episode, Dan brings Drago to school to continue his attempts at getting him to talk, but he gets in trouble with his teacher because of it. Meanwhile, a mysterious guy named Masquerade is challenging Brawlers.

Episode One-Derland – Mado King Granzort

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Plot: In the year 2050, astronauts uncovered an odd dark being that, when revealed, suddenly gave the moon an atmosphere, air and earth-like gravity levels. 50 years later, a boy named Daichi goes on a trip to the moon to spend the summer. He hears of sightings of a strange rabbit man and believes he’s found the being when he finds a little girl with rabbit ears and the ability to teleport called Guri Guri. He accidentally falls into Guri Guri’s house where he sees all sorts of magical items and meets Guri Guri’s aunt, V-Mei, who claims they’re of the long ear race.

He assembles three weapons for them and V-Mei reveals that the weapons are magical weapons used to combat the evil monsters threatening their land. When she senses magical power within Daichi, she sees one of the weapons, a magical gun, react to his presence. Utilizing the power of the magical weapon, Daichi calls upon the mech, Granzort, the mado king of earth, to fight black mats, evil robots, who suddenly appear.

Breakdown: The first part of this episode puts it on real shaky ground for me. There are so many things that either don’t make sense, are annoying or are annoyingly weird. First off, giving the moon an atmosphere, air and earth-like gravity makes it basically a clone of earth? Lush landscapes, clouds, blue skies, bodies of water etc. And people live and travel there willy nilly? Especially given only a fifty year time frame? Sure.

Second, Guri Guri is bound to get insanely irritating. And her face….It’s like someone injected a baby’s face with panda hugs and candy kisses. She’s way too cute, and not in a good way. It’s doesn’t help that she’s a little too young to really be endearing. Usually young cutesy characters are like six or seven. She’s like two or three.

Third, the entire process of the mech thing is just nonsensical, and it basically boils down every magical gir—boy plot and mixes it with a mech design. Main character’s a good guy with hidden magical abilities, obviously gets red as his color, and finds he’s destined to be a hero against evil. He’s an inquisitive, smart, excitable, slightly clumsy, heroic young lad, because of course he is.

This intro gives both a good yet a terrible introduction to the series as a whole. It introduces Daichi, Guri Guri and V-Mei just fine and it kinda establishes the mech thing, but where the hell did it come from? Why is it called from a magic gun? Why does the magic gun only shoot a badge? Why are the three magical weapons a gun, bow and a top? The top just seems really out of place. I don’t care if it’s a legit weapon – one of these things is not like the others.

Who are the evil guys? Why are they evil? What do they want? Why did they wait 50 years before doing anything? Did they wait until the main character arrived? What are long-ears? Have they been living on the moon this whole time? Why? How has no one really caught a decent glimpse of them or caught them considering Guri Guri is roaming public areas and teleporting like nothing? They have carrots? How? The soil on the moon can’t even grow weeds. Why does the music from Daichi’s music box make the weapon pieces turn colors? What does music have to do with weapons and mechs?

All that aside….yeah, it’s tickling that soft spot on my heart. Old series about magical g—boys and mechs? Sign me up! I don’t care if nothing’s making sense, you’re having fun with it and I am too.

Art and animation-wise, it’s old and it’s odd. It’s clunky in the animation department sometimes, but nothing too bad. The art has that dated 90’s feel, though Daichi’s head is just way too friggin’ big.

In the music department, it’s pretty good. I especially like the OP. It’s some catchy stuff.

Final Verdict:

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I can’t help it. It’s not a masterpiece of writing by any means, but dammit if you like mechs, magical girl boy shows and nostalgic anime, then this is a fine watch. If not, feel free to walk away after episode one. I don’t think you’d be missing anything.

Recommended Audience: Nothing questionable so far. E for everyone!

Amon (Manga) Volume 3 Review

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Plot: Satan is missing, Silene is captured and Amon is on a mission to find Satan and kill him. What is the true story behind the strange man who merged with Amon?

Breakdown: Not gonna lie here, guys. I wasn’t feeling this volume very much.

It starts off in a very odd place, I suppose quite a bit of time after the events of volume two. Silene has been captured, off panel, by a bunch of demons who seem in awe of her beauty, especially an unnamed demon whose body looks strikingly similar to Miko’s. In fact, this demon, who I guess I’ll just refer to as Demiko (demon Miko; I’m so clever) since she’s not given a name, wants to do everything in her power to be as beautiful as Silene since the whole reason she looks the way that she does is because she was merged against her will.

Amon telepathically frees Silene before the angels can purify them, at least I think that’s what’s going on, and while Silene stays behind, Demiko runs off to a different dimension thing where she meets Amon.

Silene, caught again, is about to be purified when the angels merge into one to reveal Satan. With Silene’s call, Amon arrives on site. “Satan” is actually an amalgamation of the demons, taking that form to trick Silene into accepting the merging and purification, but Amon saves her. She states that she called out for Satan, but Amon reveals that he was the only one who received her signal.

Amon starts breaking down the world around them, claiming that he wants to take back the world and make it free again. As he proclaims his goal, he transforms into the full Amon devil form.

Silene has an identity crisis, and is set straight by Amon, but she falters yet again when Satan returns with his army of demons to be with her and save the demon race. But just as she’s about to reunite with Satan, Amon rips one of her wings off. Silene, distraught, starts to battle Amon, only to have him stop her in mid-battle to show her that all of the demons and Satan were illusions created by her heart…because she can do that I guess. Silene’s injury was a fake as well. Silene asks Amon why he forsakes Satan so harshly and he says ‘I don’t know, I just don’t like the guy.’….Welp. That was some kind of motivational reveal.

Satan shows up….again.

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Oh wait, this time he’s totes for real, and he’s gearing up for some tasty backstory. IE, the only interesting part of the volume. We learn that Amon is the first demon god, but his power rivaled God’s so God sealed him away in that sphere. In an effort to ensure that no being like Amon ever existed again, God created the demons a second time…

……Uh….Huh…..

Air tight plan, there G-man. Seal Amon away, fine, but revive demons….for the sake of never having another Amon appear again? Hey, you never want to see another demon god? Don’t make one! Problem solved. Demons can’t make themselves, but they can be created and God is one of few beings with such power. It makes zero sense to revive the demons for this purpose, especially since all demons have the ability to merge with one another making themselves immensely more powerful. Hell, the demons all melding together now and in Devilman keep causing the world to end. Also, this ability is what allowed the man to merge with Amon to begin with, allowing Amon to return to the world. Your plan has more holes in it than the Guinness world record holder for most body piercings.

But that’s not all.

We also learn who the odd man born to the silenes really is. God felt threatened when Satan went to earth so he ripped some of Satan’s power from him. However, it wasn’t destroyed. It was instead made into another living being; that which being the silene man. In essence, the man is Satan’s shadow. I don’t have as much of a problem with this, though I am confused beyond all reason as to why God didn’t destroy this power. Why turn it into a silene-like creature when Satan could realize what he is and find him in the future? God created Satan, he should be able to completely destroy at least some of his power.

Amon punches him in frustration, showing the power that the two of them have when they’re combined as they’re instantly transported into a negative void-like world for a bit. Satan states that he hates God’s world since it’s filled with peace and tranquility, so he wants to fill the world with pain and misery. He wants to experience the fullness of life with all of his power, so he calls Amon back to him. Amon won’t go quietly, though, and stabs him in the forehead with his tail, causing mass destruction around them.

When the dust settles, Amon asks if his true intention is to rule the world as king of the demons, but Satan implies that he’ll kill all demons due to them taking life for granted. Satan sheds his wings and says he forsakes God entirely and wishes to cling to the earth he fell to. This pisses Amon off and they start wrastlin’. Satan claims that the power Amon shows just proves that he’s no demon, but Amon says he doesn’t care because he is himself and that’s all that matters. At this revelation, we get this page.

 

 

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What the hell is this? I was under the impression that these two volumes were prequels, but they’re sequels? How? I thought Satan died. Did he get a reboot? Is this one of those ‘didn’t show it, so don’t blame us for what you believe from implications’ moments? Once God had Satan where he wanted him, he really let him go back to the way he was before and go doing the same crap all over again? Why? I don’t understand this at all; did I miss something between volumes one and two? Is that a memory or a vision? I might be more understanding if it’s a vision, but it really seems like it’s a memory.

Whispering Akira’s name, Satan falls. Amon leaves and Silene flies away with Satan, end volume.

Most of this volume was stuff that I cared little about or was just completely pointless. Hell, Demiko didn’t even do anything. She never even got a name. She’s just kinda there to fill in spectator dialogue. She might be Silen, the first bad guy that Devilman fought, but I assumed that she was…..Silene….wait, I’m even more confused now. Kaim, Silen’s lover/friend from Devilman, is also there. I didn’t mention him because he doesn’t matter outside of kinda mirroring the scene he shared with Silen in Devilman.

It takes until the final two chapters for anything interesting to happen and all of it is confusing as sin (pun not intended) or seemingly stupid. Maybe I am missing something. Maybe all of this will make more sense in the next volume, but I just left this feeling confused and unsatisfied, bordering on bored.

Rating: 5/10

Recommended Audience: I believe the groin area is getting less censored now. Nothing horribly graphic, but you can now see full outlines of genitals instead of shadows all the time. Other than that, same as the other volumes. 16+

Pokemon Extravaganza! Pokemon Movie 02 – Revelation Lugia (Sub) Review

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Rating: 5/10

Plot: Satoshi and the others are heading to their next Orange Island destination when a sudden storm beaches them on a nearby island called Earthia Island. The villagers are holding a legend festival and Satoshi is chosen to be the ‘great controller’ from the legend. He’s tasked with retrieving three spheres from three neighboring islands and returning them to Earthia to stop the destruction of the world through an imbalance in nature. However, he soon discovers that the legend is coming true.

Breakdown: Okay, the good news is that they seem to have gotten better at making movie posters. The bad news is, it’s still a pretty bad poster. I mean, Lugia looks fantastic, which is the main thing, the three legendary birds don’t look too small, but Satoshi is oddly placed. I find it weird that he’s even making that pose. It just seems like everyone’s picture is clipart that they pasted onto the cool Lugia and legendary birds poster. What is Okido even doing there?

Just to solidify something without a doubt, I want you all to take notice of something. Who is oddly missing from this poster?…..That’s right, Kenji/Tracey. Proving just how useless he is in the movie and the series as a whole. Less than Okido, less than Slowking. That is just sad.

Now, since this movie doesn’t appear to be anywhere as drastically changed as movie 01, I won’t bother doing a complete run though of the entire movie. Instead, like I have done in the past with other review projects, I will break this movie up into chunks (of ten minute segments) and give my notes of each segment of the movie. Let’s begin!

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Ten Minute Mark

As expected, Fire, Freezer and Lightning (Moltres, Articuno and Zapdos respectively) are called the gods of fire, ice and lightning as opposed to titans. Lugia is also called the ocean god.

Shamuti Island is actually called Earthia, and it wasn’t until they said this that I noticed his computer labels the island in green. Then it hit me. Earthia corresponds with Flame, Ice and Lightning as representing life and the balance of nature; earth as a whole. That also explains why the light at the end of the movie is green…I know 4Kids changes the names of practically everything, but Earthia actually seems to have a clear point in its name, so that’s disappointing. Plus, like the comparison says, it seems odd that 4Kids would purposely change its original name to something more foreign-sounding.

The title is, of course, different, but something I found odd is that the Japanese version only uses fire effects during its title whereas the dub utilizes fire, ice and lightning to represent the birds. Gotta give 4Kids props for actually being more thorough. I do miss the awesome electric guitar.

The original’s theme song is also still pretty good, being another rendition of Mezaze Pokemon Master. I don’t know why it still has a Charizard/Lizardon’s roar and Pikachu sounds on it though. Without visuals to match that, it just seems random.

I’m just now realizing how much I miss Scyther/Strike. It was the only one of Tracey’s/Kenji’s Pokemon that got both a backstory and a personality; and it was pretty interesting too. It was just the shot where it’s trying to protect Venonat/Kongpang for a minute, but that did spring to mind.

Twenty Minute Mark

Ohhh THAT’S why they specifically needed a Pokemon trainer. The original’s legend states that a ‘great controller’ will calm the anger of the gods. They’re equating a trainer to a controller to fit the legend. Also, that is what equates to ‘the chosen one’ in the original. In my opinion, it sounds better and doesn’t insinuate that Ash was destined at birth to do this. One could say that since the dub legend says the chosen one will ‘tame the beast of the sea’ that that may also be poking at that, but I think that’s more of a stretch.

The song is obviously different, but it’s surprisingly not all that different to my ears, really. The original one has higher pitches and some different tones, but it seems to follow roughly the same melody.

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Again, applause with no moving hands. What the hell?

Furura (Melody) doesn’t seem to be quite as upfront with her flirting as the dub would insinuate.

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Thirty Minute Mark

MistyxTracey fans may be sad to note that the one hint of that pairing (Tracey wondering if the girls are talking about him when they discuss Misty liking Ash) is not present in the original. He just says ‘I’m going too!’ If it makes you guys feel any better, the original line makes the scene much funnier.

Musashi actually asks why they’re bothering talking about Kasumi and Satoshi’s love-hate relationship since they’re ten years too young to be caught up in that stuff. Kojirou chimes in and says even they don’t talk about it much. Nyarth’s line is kept the same. I know I keep delving into sub dub comparison stuff, but the Bulbagarden comparison doesn’t cover much of what I’m talking about, probably because it’s not really important, but still noteworthy to me.

Forty Minute Mark

I love how Kasumi’s line to Jirarudan (Lawrence; who, by the way, hasn’t been named yet (if ever) in the original either.) makes it seem even worse. She yells at him to put the legendary birds in monster balls because trapping them this way is a waste. Yes, it’s awful that he’s forcing Pokemon into small technologically advanced cages to look at them when he could be forcing Pokemon into much smaller technologically advanced cages and making them fight. Shame!

I just realized, when we cut to the water Pokemon traveling by sea to get to Earthia Island, we see Arbo/Ekans in the water traveling this way too….I know some snakes can swim and some even slither on top of water, but I never knew they traveled by water too. Kinda makes you think maybe Team Rocket could’ve used Arbok in movie 01.

Hanako (Delia) actually solidifies that she has no clue where Satoshi is; just that he’s somewhere in the Orange Islands. Considering how vast and wide the Orange Islands seem to extend, that is an incredibly flimsy reason to be out there. Hey, I can fix this in one sentence. Watch. Ahem…. ”Satoshi/Ash just contacted me from Earthia/Shamuti Island earlier!” …..Boom! Was that so hard? You can send me money now, writers. I have a Paypal.

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Fifty Minute Mark

We’re at that cut scene with Kenji talking about the explosion made to free Fire. He’s saying how the electricity affects the water separating the H2 and O. That coupled with flamethrower equals boom. I think it’s going a bit far to say that’s instructions for essentially making a bomb – it’s moreso just explaining the chemical reaction going on and the explosion that proceeds it, but I guess 4Kids has removed scenes for lesser reasons. They honestly just could’ve said “Water…plus electricity…and fire….?!” And really, that’s the only thing Kenji’s noted as doing in this movie? He truly is a boring worthless character.

Also, I guess Fushigidane really didn’t have any role in that. He was just there whippin’ away.

Hour Mark

Nothing to note here, to be honest. However, the reason he’s stuck with being the one who has to do this is really that he was chosen by the villagers, started collecting the spheres and has to finish it, not that he’s destined to anyway.

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Hour and Ten Minute Mark

Despite also making a pun or two (“Pikachu, we’re gonna get ‘chu.”?) Team Rocket has a funny line when they let go of Lugia.

Team Rocket – “You’re the main character!” See, that’s how you break the fourth wall, 4Kids.

Also;

Satoshi: “Amazing! Are those really Pokemon?”

Lugia: “Yes, every Pokemon living on the planet.”…….Yeah you won’t come to eat those words in another year or so.

You know, if anything, the original movie has the opposite message from the dub. It seems like the original has more of a message of ‘it’s not what one person does, it’s everyone doing their part towards a specific goal that is powerful.’ whereas the dub is very clearly ‘the power of one.’ Lugia cements this further by saying everyone’s doing their part to try to help; the Pokemon, Lugia and Satoshi.

While he doesn’t mention it, even Team Rocket and Furura have been helping along the way. In the dub, Lugia outright says that the one with the power to actually make a difference is just Ash. I’m not saying the dub’s message is a particularly bad one. Many people succumb to the belief that just one person alone can’t do anything to make significant change, but it’s worth mentioning.

Finale

While I still really like the original song…I dunno, the dubbed version of the final legend song seems more impacting and epic to me.

Hanako actually says she saw Satoshi do…something dangerous. I’m assuming she saw him riding Lugia or something. She also doesn’t say anything about her constantly missing him; just that if he were to die, she’d lose her whole world. Her final words are also asking Satoshi what he really wants in life. Satoshi says he wants to be a Pokemon Master. Hanako replies if that’s really his dream then he can’t overdo it. I like the original version better. It explains a little why she was so angry and it doesn’t give us the slightly cheesy stuff about him always being her hero.

Surprisingly we don’t get ANY extra bits from Jirarudan stating what he plans to do now. He just picks up his ancient Mew card and smiles. According to his Wiki page, it’s supposed to imply that he intends to restart his collection but in a much more modest way. Whatever that means, I don’t know.

Team Rocket and Yadoking/Slowking don’t break the fourth wall at the end. They also rarely bring up the stuff about them being temporary good guys.

The song for the credits in the original is okay, but the song starts out with really irritating sing-talking. It also gets a bit repetitive. But at least it doesn’t bludgeon you with a sudden polka.

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And that was Pokemon movie 02 subbed….I see no real reason to rate it that much higher than the dub. While I prefer it to the original mostly because I like the original score, voices and dialogue better, 4Kids didn’t change all that much. It’s odd, while 4Kids seemed to get better and better at dubbing the movies (I find movie 03 to be their best work ever, though I’ve only gotten to movie 06 as of this writing) they got progressively worse, in my opinion, with the series. Not saying everything was perfect after this movie-wise (there are definitely some stinkers and major issues) but they seemed to make more of an effort in the movies. Maybe they never wanted to suffer another backlash from fans and critics as they did after movie 01.

Anyway, if anything, maybe a .5 point for not being all ‘chosen one’ crap, but even that is still hinted at. Better than shoving it in your face, but still. Plus I do like the dub’s legend song just a tiny bit more.

Recommended Audience: E for everyone….Unless your kid is smart enough to build a bomb by learning a bit of simple chemistry and has intentions of doing so once he/she acquires the knowledge, in which case SV for Super Villain.

CSBS – Xiaolin Showdown Episode 2

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Plot: As the group is training, they start mocking Clay for bypassing an obstacle course just to grab the goal item off the platform and his ‘old man’ style of kung fu. Master Fung chastises the group for mocking Clay’s style since it’s an effective and smart approach to complex problems.

A Shen Gong Wu is detected, and this time it’s the Fist of Tebigong; a super powerful glove that delivers a mighty punch. They start selecting their own Shen Gong Wu to wield if they encounter Jack Spicer. Raymundo and Omi fight over the Eye of Dashi, each believing they have the rights to it (Raymundo had dibs on it, Omi actually won it in a Xiaolin Showdown) so they leave the selection to Fung, who gives it to Clay since he technically won the obstacle course challenge.

Fung also hands out the Mantis Flip Coin to Raymundo and the Two-Ton Tunic to Kimiko. Since they only have three Shen Gong Wu, Omi doesn’t get one. They arrive at the Shen Gong Wu’s location and find Jack. They have a battle with his robots, though Clay is taking his time preparing. In his delay, he and Dojo are knocked off a cliff and hang on a branch.

Meanwhile, Kimiko, Raymundo and Omi take care of the robots. Jack reveals he has a new ally; a mime. The group laughs at this, but soon come to realize that he’s no ordinary mime. He has magical powers that allow him to make anything he mimes become real. He mimes a box around Kimiko, Omi and Raymundo, trapping them and allowing Jack Spicer to go after the Fist of Tepigong.

Clay climbs back up and realizes that with his three comrades out of commission, it’s up to him to find and retrieve the Fist of Tepigong, though his friends have absolutely no faith in him whatsoever.

Clay comes face to face with the mime who pulls the old mirror gag on him. But Clay knows exactly how to take him out – by taking himself out. He punches himself in the face, causing the mime to do the same. Clay is tough enough to take the hit, but the mime is not.

Dojo manages to stumble upon the Fist of Tepigong and Clay tries to make off with it, but Jack uses his Third-Arm Sash to grab it from him.

Meanwhile, Omi, Raymundo and Kimiko try in vain over and over to get out of the box. In an effort to get the mime’s attention, Raymundo clacks the Mantis Flip Coin on the bars of the box, which makes them question why they never realized the box had bars before. Kimiko and Omi come to the conclusion that the bars appeared because Raymundo imagined there were bars. By that logic, Omi imagines the box has a door. The door appears, allowing them to escape, and they go off to help Clay.

Jack has Clay cornered, but Clay uses the Eye of Dashi to blow up some of Jack’s robots, making him lose grip of the Fist of Tepigong. Clay and Jack fight over it, causing a Xiaolin Showdown. The challenge? First to catch a nearby robin wins.

The challenge starts and Jack uses his heli-pack and Third-Arm Sash to chase the bird, but Clay is taking his time doing basically anything. After preparing, he rustles through a nearby sunflower patch and starts filling his hat with seeds. As his friends look on in exasperation, Jack crashes into a tree and the robin gently lands on Clays hand to eat some of the seed. Clay wins the Xiaolin Showdown and is granted the Fist of Tepigong and Jack’s Third-Arm Sash.

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This episode was alright, mostly because Clay’s my favorite character so far. He’s calm, cool, collected, kinda funny, uses my favorite element, and he’s the only one of the group who’s not really an asshole so far. However, I will say it was dreadfully predictable. You can tell the first scene is obviously setting up the big lesson of the episode (which is actually meant to be learned at that very moment, which is weird and redundant). Not only that, but it’s also nearly giving you a blueprint on how the Xiaolin Showdown at the end will turn out, especially when it’s revealed that the challenge is a race – first to get an animal no less (the goal in the obstacle course at the start was a stuffed dog)

The fact that the group is shaking their heads and groaning at Clay moving slowly during the race is both unwarranted and nonsensical. We never saw Clay physically moving slowly before this point. He bypassed the obstacle course to just grab the dog and then spent too much time warming up before the battle with the robots. Plus, they know that he won the obstacle course challenge because he found an easy solution to a complicated problem. They just escaped from the mime’s box with that lesson on their shoulders too, yet no one has a drop of faith in him.

Omi’s being even more obnoxious in this episode than he was in the last, and everyone’s being a bit of an ass to each other. There’s some playful ribbing in there, but they take a lot of shots at each other for no reason.

Some minor nitpicks – why do they instantly change into their Xiaolin outfits when a Xiaolin Showdown is called? And how did Kimiko have the time to dye and style her hair like that before they had to leave for the Shen Gong Wu?

Rating: 6/10

Next episode, our first Kimiko focused episode. Kimiko’s short temper is getting the better of her. When she obtains a Shen Gong Wu that requires full attention and calm to work properly, she struggles with it. With her temper make her lose her first Shen Gong Wu?