Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 4 Episodes 11, 12 and 13 FINALE

Episode 11: White Line

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Plot: A teacher is working late one night when she spots a young boy in a tattered school uniform drawing chalk lines on the yard. As she goes to investigate, she finds the boy has vanished, but the white line has been drawn into the school. Where does the white line lead?

Breakdown: This one’s pretty clever and unique. It’s not the creepiest or scariest story in the world by a long shot, but I enjoyed quite a bit, especially the ending, and it’s one of the stronger entries this season.

The art style this time around is kinda back to being a little more anime-ish, but not too badly. It’s also like the lines are much crisper and sharper than they usually are and like the coloring is fuller and more vibrant.

There’s no live-action shot this time around, which was weird, but the narrator was delightfully entertaining, especially at the end.

Episode 12 – Snow Hut

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And then he gets shot through the eye…..Oh sorry, that’s Saw II.

Plot: A young boy and his older brother decide to build a snow hut. As his brother goes off to get something for them to eat, the boy spots another snow hut across the yard. Oddly, this hut has no entrance, but it seems like there’s a small flickering light inside. The boy is curious to see if someone is in there, but some things are better left alone.

Breakdown: I wanna say this one works, but it kinda doesn’t because it’s one of those stories that I find sadder than scary.

The idea is fairly unique and the scene with the other snow hut is creepy, but it’s not creepy or scary enough for me to ignore the fact that I feel sadder for the fate of the boy above all else.

The live-action shot this time around was of the candle in the snow hut, and it’s pretty effective given that you see it from the hole in the snow hut, which does obviously lend itself to an easy jump scare.

The story is also one I can’t wrap my head around. Why is there some sort of snow hut prison out there? Who is in it, and why does it seem to need to have someone in it? The family seems to have no choice but to do what they seem to be intending on doing, but I don’t get it.

The art style this time around is a very scratchy almost sketchy or storyboard type of art style that I….think works in its favor? I can’t really decide.

Episode 13 – Underground Walkway

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Someone should’ve told him he’s in a horror anthology.

Plot: A college student gets caught in the rain and decides to take a creepy, unfamiliar underground walkway to the station. He learns that you don’t do that.

Breakdown: Really? After the awesome ending season three gave us, you end the fourth season with this? It’s not a particularly stupid or bad entry, it’s just very predictable and meh. Not to mention, you want to clock out the instant he enters the walkway.

Gee, an unfamiliar, dark, dank, creepy underground walkway with flickering lights and no one else but a freaky worker around who’s trying to direct you down an even creepier and darker walkway and keeps chanting ‘it’s only dark at first.’? I’d sure nope out of there probably before I even got beyond the entrance. Dude, it’s rain. Just deal with it. Go into a shop until it passes. Get on a bus. If the alternative is ‘creepy, dark, dank underground walkway I could swear wasn’t here before’ exhaust every other option first….and still don’t do that.

The art style is basically identical to Snow Hut here, which is fine, and the live-action shots may be some shots of the tunnel (it’s really hard to tell) and the shot of the footprints, which add nothing to the creepy factor.

Like I said, not the worst entry, but certainly a disappointing one, and definitely a disappointment as a season finale. They didn’t even do anything clever with the narrators this time around outside of change them out every episode, which would be more impacting if the opening showed them in a different area with different kids every time, but it doesn’t. They don’t even alter the end credits. Pfft.

I’ll be releasing the full Yami Shibai 4 review soon enough, but first, I just realized that they released Yami Shibai 5 this year. Yay!

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Pokemon Extravaganza! Movie 04: Pokemon 4Ever – Celebi Voice of the Forest (Dub) Review

Rating: 6.5/10

Plot: A boy named Sam (who is totally not Professor Oak) is transported 40 years to the future (Ash and the gang’s present) by the legendary Celebi after outrunning a Pokemon hunter. While trying to find a way back to his time, Sam, Ash and the others have to deal with a new threat who wants to use Celebi for malicious means.

Breakdown: Okay, I’m going to address something that might be confusing to some people reading this—why I don’t bother talking about the American posters for the Pokemon movies. I’ve been making it a habit to analyze the Japanese ones simply because they, for some reason, tend to be bad with the first being downright deplorable. However, the American ones have always been fantastic, in my opinion. The first was simple, yet effective with Mew and Mewtwo facing off and the, at the time, entire roster of Pokemon behind them.

In movie 02, they actually made what is my favorite Pokemon poster with the Pokeball like a planet, Ash’s (? Is that even Ash? He actually looks more like Red…) silhouette with his Pokeball to the sky and surrounded by tons of Pokemon under the legends. That was just fantastic.

The third movie’s was somewhat ripping off the Japanese poster with Entei’s picture, but it was changed up plenty to actually mirror one of the best scenes from the movie.

All of the American posters have gotten rid of the clipart clutter and the pointless additions and have made great posters that I never felt the need to bring up….

Until now.

What is this? Celebi’s fine. The ripple effect is fine. The lake shot is fine. What is Ash standing on? He’s floating in mid-air or he’s simultaneously standing on an also-floating Suicune and Celebi.

Why is he making that pose? With his hat backwards, that means that’s his capture pose.

Why is IMM almost microscopic, and why is he standing on his spider robot like that?

Why are they showing the God-awful grass monster thing?

Let’s address that title, eh? Pokemon 4Ever? Gee, 4Kids, you must think you’re clever as all hell for not only replacing a part of a word with a number, but also recycling the same for=4 joke thing from your own goddamn name. Ending any title with ‘Forever’ just seems lame anyway.

Though I did praise the poster designers for getting rid of clutter, there’s one character who kinda needed to be in this poster…..Ya know, Sam. The guy who’s supposed to be the other main character? I mean, his spot on the Japanese poster is depressingly small, but at least he was there. He gets nada in America.

Here’s where we kinda start falling off of the nostalgia wagon a bit. I never watched Pokemon movie 04 in theaters simply because it never showed in any theaters close enough to me. And, according to Bulbagarden, that’s not surprising.

Miramax released the movie theatrically in an extremely limited manner, and those theaters that did have the movie never kept it for more than a couple weeks, if that. In addition, this was hindered even further by the fact that they did no advertising for it. In fact, the first time I even found out there was a fourth movie was because I saw a commercial for the DVD release.

Also, while looking at the wiki I found that this movie was a box office bomb (though I knew that much from Dogasu who justified it because of the extremely poor marketing and theatrical release strategy.) but was also critically hated and panned by fans as well. Ouch.

I soon went out and bought the DVD and I never got much into the movie. I like Celebi and Suicune and everything, but after loving movie 03 so much, it just seemed to be not very impressive. Especially with the blech-y CGI. Apparently, this is Dogasu’s favorite of the movies thusfar alongside movie 05 so maybe I’ll see it in a better light once I’m done rewatching it for this review.

By the way, am I the only one kinda pissed at how Raikou was sufficiently snubbed in these movies? Entei gets a whole movie to himself, Suicune gets a significant part here and what does Raikou get? A special three-part episode in Pokemon Chronicles – that series people watched just to see the usually forgotten side characters left behind (IE the BetterThanAsh squad) actually do stuff on their own without Ash. The main characters of the arc he was in, The Legend of Thunder, didn’t even include any known characters – it was three completely new characters made up for those specific episodes. Poor Raikou.

There’s a very significant change between the two versions that I was debating on bringing up here or in the sub review. I would usually bring it up in the sub review, but let’s just address this incredible moment of utmost stupidity that shows that 4Kids thinks so little of their audience that they are actually willing to lose their precious money, quite a lot of it in fact, to shove a plot point into the faces of the audience. But more on that later.

For more information sub dub comparison wise, see the link to Dogasu’s comparison here. http://dogasu.bulbagarden.net/comparisons/movies/mov04.html

And now let’s get on with the show!

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We start with narration from Brock for some reason (Brock killed the other narrator! CALL THE POLICE!) giving us the regular ‘World of Pokemon’ schtick as we see a bunch of Pokemon. I recall this part of the movie specifically because it is one of the extremely rare times you ever see Porygon. Yes, the Pokemon so banned that even its evo stages are sufficiently banned from being shown in the series. They might appear for a second or two, like Porygon does here, but they will never be given spotlight in the show ever again………Even though the whole episode 38 incident was Pikachu’s fault and thus HE should be banned. Ya know, I joke about Messiahchu because he’s so glorified, but if anything Porygon and its evos sacrificed itself for the sake of the show’s mascot. Everyone salute!

The Wiki makes a weird note about this shot – Porygon’s the only Pokemon to be shown behind a chain link fence. What’s that note supposed to imply? That they purposely put Porygon behind the fence to make a statement about the character? “Oh yeah, we let Porygon in this shot, but it’s behind a fence, guys! Don’t worry! You can’t get seizures through a fence! DON’T SUE US!”

After going through the motions of the World of Pokemon opener, we get Ash’s backstory…..Why? I’m all for sprucing up the old footage, but if you’re watching the fourth Pokemon movie, chances are you know Ash’s backstory by heart.

And let me get my nitpicky gloves on. Ahem, Ash wasn’t wearing his regular attire when he got Pikachu. He was wearing his pajamas because he woke up late. In fact, that’s actually somewhat important because he only got Pikachu instead of the Squirtle he wanted because he slept late and was only able to get a leftover Pokemon instead of the three main starters. Yet they actually remember that Pikachu’s Pokeball has a little lightning bolt on it.

I love how they completely omit the fact that Pikachu was a little turdmuffin when he first met Ash. Can’t tarnish Messiahchu’s rep.

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Our actual start is in the (Obviously CGI) forest (Because trees need to be CGI) with Celebi being chased by a Houndoom 40 years in the past. Celebi is then pursued by a Scyther and actually gets hit.

We cut to a boy traveling through the forest as he comes across a mysterious tunnel in the path. He is halted by a woman with green hair who tells him the story of the voice of the forest – a spirit who travels through time. She says that the time travel of the voice of the forest is noted by a peculiar sound and if you hear the sound you should stop in your tracks because if it sees you it could whisk you away through time. The boy, Sam, thanks her for her advice and says he’ll be careful. They part ways but not before she gives him a loaf of berry bread as a snack.

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Mmm, bread covered in gravel on top of leaves. Just like grandma used to make.

Cut back to Celebi’s chase scene where it’s being overpowered by the Houndoom and Scyther who are under the control of a Pokemon hunter. Celebi escapes once more and cries out loudly.

Back with Sam, who has stopped to sketch some things, he hears Celebi’s cries and sees the Pokemon of the forest running away in fright. The pursuit rushes in front of him. He runs towards the three just in time to see Scyther and Houndoom pinning Celebi down. He tries to yell at the Pokemon to leave Celebi alone, but Houndoom shoots a Flamethrower at him to make him leave. Angered by this, Celebi wraps the two up in vines and weakly floats to Sam’s arms.

The Pokemon hunter shows up and demands that he hand Celebi over explaining in unneeded detail what he is and what a Pokemon hunter does. Because of course he’d hand over Celebi after learning he basically enslaves Pokemon and auctions them off to the highest bidder. Sam runs off, but suddenly stumbles. Celebi activates its time travel abilities and whisks them away to the future!

We zoom out of the scene and it turns into a framed picture of the forest. We’re introduced to an older version of the Pokemon Hunter being harassed by some guy in a helmet who is actually the villain of our story…..the *sigh* Iron-Masked Marauder. I don’t really have that many qualms against this guy – he’s more memorable, interesting and threatening than Lawrence ever was, but why, 4Kids? Why the Iron-Masked Marauder? Were you going for a ‘pro-wrestler’ vibe? Because that’s what I’m getting.

He’s trying to get information on Celebi from the Pokemon hunter, but he won’t give it up. Hulk Hogan decides to persuade him by releasing one of the Pokemon the hunter captured, a Tyranitar, from its cage and using a dark ball on him.

A dark ball is a creation of Macho Man Randy Savage where not only does it automatically put any Pokemon you catch under your control (and maybe have a catching ability rivaling that of Master balls – also maybe ignoring that a Pokemon is already captured by someone else) but it also increases their strength to max level. Wow, that’s really OP. Glad they’re never seen or mentioned outside of this movie.

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He works for Team Rocket, and they have something like this? Why have they not utilized and mass produced them? They would take over the world in a fortnight. Oh right, Team Rocket actually do something in the anime. Hah.

The now evil Tyranitar is commanded to Hyper Beam the place to ruins, even possibly killing the other captive Pokemon, and in the midst of the destruction the hunter gives up the location of where he found Celebi 40 years ago. Boy, I sure do hope Celebi didn’t travel to this exact time because that would be a heap of trouble.

We get our title screen and I gotta say this is probably 4Kids weakest title screen attempt so far. The animations on the vines look cheap, like something you’d see on an e-card, and the actual title itself is presented like a title of a TV show episode not a movie. Also the 4EVER crap looks twice as dumb in huge bold 3D lettering.…

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Hey, Subtitle! Get out of Lugia’s turf!

Wait, title screen!? That means! YAY DUMBASH AND FRIENDS!

This time, Brock and Misty are separated from Ash as they wait at a ferry that will be taking them to their next destination; Don’ttellthemwherethey’regoingbecausethatwouldestablishwhenthismovietakesplace town.

The ferry is about to leave and Ash is going to miss it, so Brock sends out his Crobat to find him. Cut over to Ash who is about to have a Pokemon battle with an Australian trainer….named Dundee. Really bringing your A game in the name department today, huh 4Kids? His Wiki page seems to justify this because he has a Croconaw but no, screw that. Drastically changing a character for no reason on the flimsy basis that he has a crocodile Pokemon? Ya know what? Ash has a mouse Pokemon. Better name him Walt Disney!

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I really hate when they set up scenes that very obviously show them in battle stances yet their first dialogue is like they’re meeting that very second, never introduced themselves and didn’t even realize they were going to have a battle.

Dundee chooses his Croconaw and Ash chooses, who else, Pikachu, and we get our altered theme song for the movie, ‘Born to be a Winner’. I always liked Born to be a Winner, and this movie version is pretty good….though I honestly could’ve done without the out of place record scratches.

The battle is rather boring for a movie battle. However, Ash does take this opportunity to prove his dumbness again because, after throwing Croconaw through the air and having him crash into Dundee, leaving both of them on the ground, Ash decides to Thundershock as a final blow. Hitting when the Pokemon is down is low enough, but he actually ends up shocking Dundee too because the two were still getting up from the fall. Nice going, idiot.

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As Ash goes to check on Dundee, Crobat calls him over to catch the ferry. And that’s it for your movie opener battle, hope you enjoyed it. The rest is just Ash running to catch the ferry.

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As Misty and Brock see Ash running to the ferry, they wave to him and hop on the boat, but Ash is held up by a transport vehicle pulling an insanely long line of trailers with boxes. When it leaves, the ferry has departed and Ash jumps from the second dock to get on the boat. I love this shot because he’s jumping in slow-mo and trying to reach Brock, but as he misses his hand and nearly falls into the water, the song goes ‘Born to be a winner, born to be the very best’. Yes, born to be a winner and the very best that one is.

After the song ends, they speak with the same deckhand who has the voice of Duke Devlin. As he learns that the group is really interested in Pokemon, he tells them that a lot of really unusual ones are near where he lives and he can take them there if they want. They agree and Pikachu spots a Suicune far off in the forest. He alerts Ash and the other to it and they’re able to spot it for a second before it runs off.

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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai Episodes 9 and 10 Review

Episode 9: Grinding Teeth

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Plot: An office worker and her girl friend are out on a trip to a foreign area. They explore many tourist spots, including one odd cave filled with Jizou statues that the locals seemed to avoid. That night, the woman developed a severe pain in her tooth and was forced to seek out a local dentist in the middle of the night to get it checked out. When she arrives, she finds that her toothache is much worse than anything she could’ve imagined.

Breakdown: This had much more potential than what it became. The setup doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s one of those instances where I wouldn’t care much if the scares paid off. They pretty much didn’t.

Teeth is one of the richest wells of easy creepy content. For some reason, a lot of people are creeped out when thinking about teeth or seeing detailed images of teeth or even thinking about going to the dentist. The sound of teeth grinding is also one most people cannot stand. It’s not particularly creepy, but it is one of those sounds that makes you cringe. These topics together can easily make for at least a creepy story.

Instead it basically falls flat and even seems kinda silly. The ending shot was unnerving due to the sounds and cliffhanger, but that was about it.

The live-action shot of the episode was of the dentist holding a pair of pliers as she was about to pull the woman’s tooth. That shot worked very well and added more elements of creepiness to it, but you quickly realize that the dentist is not the bad guy here. Though, honestly, she should’ve told the woman what was going on in order to prevent her from leaving.

All in all, another middle of the road entry.

Episode 10 – Calling Crane

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These two episodes side by side really highlight how this season’s art shifts drastically between stories.

Plot: Bored of mobile phone games, a group of three girls decide to play a creepy game they heard about at school called Calling Crane. You put a razor blade and a red string into a glass of water then write the name of a deceased person on a paper 49 times and turn it into a paper crane. Once you swallow the crane, you’ll be able to talk to the person whose name you’ve written on the paper. It’s all harmless. After all, it’s just a game….right?

Breakdown: Now this is a nice mixture between a classic setup (teenage girls playing a spooky game to talk to the dead) and some interesting and creepy elements that are new and original, for the most part.

Who the hell even thought up this game premise? Even for Japanese horror games, that’s weird. You have to swallow the paper crane? That’s gross and dangerous.

This episode doesn’t really take any turns you don’t really expect it to, but it is still some creepy fun made all the better by the visuals. The lines are much more detailed and made to look fairly realistic. The colors are also done in a very obvious watercolor method.

There are three live-action shots this time around. The first is a shot of the glass with a razor in it, the second is a shot of a broken glass with the razor and string sitting in the water, and the third was a shot of the paper crane. I won’t go into more details on the circumstances of these shots, but they definitely add to the creepiness factor, and I like that they amped up the amount of live-action shots for this one. Given the art style of the regular animation, it fits quite well.

I very much enjoyed this entry and hope to see at least one more like it before the season ends.

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 4 Episodes 7 and 8

Episode 7: Footsteps

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Plot: A man on a shopping outing with his wife visits the restroom for a minute when he hears non-stop footsteps outside of the stall.

Breakdown: I can’t really decide if this episode was good or bad. On one hand, the footsteps were unnerving as they increased in intensity, and the final shot was kinda spooky. Plus the narrator for this episode is a fantastic story teller with his voice. On the other hand, this is another Yami Shibai episode that takes place in a toilet….Also, they kinda stretch for the spooky atmosphere here by making the stall very dark when it logically shouldn’t be. A bathroom in a crowded mall being mostly dark? Why?

It also has a confusing ‘story’. I guess the marks on the wall were sigils to ward off whatever was making the footstep noises, but why write them in such easily removable ink? Why is whatever is haunting this bathroom haunting this bathroom?

Middle of the road material, I suppose.

The live-action shots of the episode were just shots of him holding his phone, which has already been done and doesn’t add to the atmosphere or story at all.

Episode 8 – Cassette Tape

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Plot: A young man is returning to his old childhood home for the wedding of one of his childhood friends. As he rustles through the stuff preserved perfectly in his old bedroom, he finds a tape titled ‘What happened today?’, which turns out to be an old audio journal he kept as a child. As he listens with nostalgia, he realizes that something is odd about what he’s saying and how he’s speaking. He soon has no recollection of the odd things he seems to be noting as the tape continues. So….what happened today?

Breakdown: Now we’re getting back into the good ol’ funk of the original Yami Shibai….but ultimately ending a bit flat.

This is just some nice psychological screwing that unnerves you from nearly the instant the tape starts. Also, the shot of the tape playing is the live-action shot for the episode, giving it a tad more creepiness.

The ending, while being ominous, is also very open-ended, which is why it’s somewhat flat. There’s some weird box that he keeps bringing up, but we never see the box or have any indication what’s inside it.

All in all, one of the stronger entries in this season. Just needed a firmer landing.

Five Numbers! Review

Rating: 7/10

Plot: Four convicts all with life sentences awaken after being drugged to find themselves in an abandoned prison. It’s a race to get out…if they can.

Breakdown: This is a one-shot OVA that came paired with another OVA called Coicent which I will be reviewing later. Right now, let’s focus on Five Numbers!

Five people, four convicts with life sentences are stuck in an abandoned prison – no guards, no nothing. All they have is each other and a cat. There’s a woman codenamed R21 or Sting who was a gambler and possibly con artist, a man codenamed N35 or Pinch-Hitter who embezzled money and also holds a secret related to the situation, a young girl codenamed R12 or FlashTradeKiller who is a hacker who purposely caused the financial network to crumble, and a teenage boy codenamed N17 or Pokerface whose reasons for being convicted are not stated and me explaining who he is would be a spoiler.

There’s also an old man in the prison who is actually there of his own free will for also spoilery reasons codenamed Enplein or VO and his cat, Coupier. None of their real names are given and they refer to each other by their numbers which I believe are also supposed to signify their ages.

I can’t give too much away as I don’t feel this is one of those titles I want to go through beat by beat, but I will say that the premise is extremely interesting and the OVA has some very cool ideas. However, this is merely a one-shot which means there’s no real building upon these ideas, which is a real shame.

That’s not to say the OVA ends on a cliffhanger or anything. There are several twists thrown in that are pretty shocking, especially the one at the very end.

It’s just very disappointing that there’s not more of this. You can easily extend this premise out further into a very short OVA of like six episodes, but it’s over in one episode.

Bottomline: If you like short stories that are both interesting yet dark at the same time, you’ll probably enjoy this very much but wish there were at least a bit more to it.

Art and Animation: All of this is done in CGI, which is for the most part fine. It’s done in that kind of way that looks like it’s only half cel-shaded and outlined, which actually works really well. The character models are decent. They look kinda video-gamey though. Also the animaton for the humans is kinda stiff sometimes, but overall fine.

Music: The music’s also fine. The ending’s catchy and done in Italian for whatever reason.

Additional Information and Notes: Five Numbers! Was written by Dai Sato, who has done writing work on Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Wolf’s Rain. It was directed by Hiroaki Ando, CGI director of Steamboy and director of Gambo. It was produced by Sunrise and is currently licensed in the US by Sentai Filmworks.

Year: 2011

Runtime: 25 minutes

Recommended Audience: Eh, the ending is not a happy one. Though you never see anything happen on camera, it’s heavily implied that something severe is about to happen. Other than that, no gore, swearing, nudity, sex, or anything. 10+

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 4 Episodes 5 and 6

Episode 5: Night Bus

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Plot: On a night bus trip with his friends, a teenage boy has to make a rest stop after getting a terrible stomachache. When he returns, he gets back on the bus but realizes that something is strange about the other passengers.

Breakdown: The strongest episode so far, though predictable after the midway point. This episode tries to skew back into mostly creepy and realistic territory and it works in its favor. This is also one of those stories where I don’t really need to know the backstory of the paranormal phenomenon for it to have a full impact.

Just as a tally, today’s live-action shot was the boy’s hand holding his phone, though the screen is still obviously animated. The art style is also getting notably more typical anime-style-ish, and apparently the narrator is changing in every episode. No idea why.

Episode 6: Guess Who?

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Plot: A young teenage girl finally gets up the courage to ask her senpai out on a date. They have a great time, but just as she’s about to gather the courage to talk about their relationship further as they wait for the train, she’s interrupted and he excuses himself for a moment. While she sits alone waiting for him, she realizes that they’re not the only two there.

Breakdown: Getting even better with this episode. This one is a bit more off-putting from the rest in a somewhat bad manner because it’s done in even more traditional anime style, particularly with the girl. Kinda takes you out of the kamishibai format, but it’s not too bad yet.

This episode is one of those stories where it’s both scary yet sad at the same time. It’s also very confusing. I’m going to lay it all out here for you so maybe I can get some different views, so be warned of spoilers.

A shy teenage girl gets up the nerve to ask her crush, known only as Senpai, out on a date to an amusement park. They have a great time all day and then sit at the train station as they prepare to go home. She wants to ask if he has a girlfriend, but gets interrupted as a train goes by. Senpai excuses himself to go get a drink, leaving the girl by herself in the empty train station. She spots a pale girl on the bench on the platform on the other side of the tracks. She gets up and walks toward the tracks and is just about to reach the edge of the platform when the train whizzes by, obscuring the girl’s sight. When the train clears, there’s no sign of the girl and no indication that she was hit by the train.

As she wonders what happened, her face is suddenly covered by a pair of hands and the voice of her senpai says ‘Guess who?’ She starts to get flustered by the physical contact and again attempts to ask him if he has a girlfriend. However, before she can ask, he presses his hands into her face, hurting her. She tries to pry him off of her when she suddenly starts forgetting who Senpai is. As she manages to sneak a peak through the fingers covering her eyes, she sees her reflection and realizes the girl from before is covering her eyes.

At this realization, the girl completely forgets everything about her senpai. She transforms to look somewhat similar to the creepy girl and completely forgets who she is as well before she disappears from the bench.

Some people in the comments theorized that this was a girl who died while waiting for her date, so whenever she sees young people on a date, she erases the girl’s memories of the boy and then kills them, but that doesn’t make much sense to me.

My first time watching this, I thought she really wasn’t on a date with anyone and was caught in a loop or something like that, mostly because we never see Senpai come back. However, that doesn’t bode too well with me either.

Not that Yami Shibai has ever aimed to make much sense. The ending is creepy to me, and the story as a whole is very sad if this was indeed an innocent girl who was tragically killed right before she was able to officially get together with her crush. I can’t even say ‘well, at least she was able to spend her final day having fun with someone she cared for’ because she doesn’t remember it.

This is also the first time where the live-action shots have actually worked in the show’s favor. This time, we see hands covering up the screen like we were the girl in the scenario experiencing and seeing what she saw. It was very effective, and also worked surprisingly well when they kept flashing back and forth between that style and the regular animation during the rest of the scene.

I, personally, really liked this episode, despite the confusing logic behind the ending. What’s your interpretation?

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 4 Episodes 3 and 4

Episode 3: Sewing Shears

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Plot: A woman moves into a cheap new apartment and finds a talisman with sewing shears stabbed through them underneath the floor boards. She discards them, but everything has a purpose.

Breakdown: This one was completely cliché from start to finish. Find a creepy artifact in an old house and throw it away. Gee I wonder if that won’t piss off some spirit and get her killed.

They even throw in the fakeout dream for good measure. It’s here where the live action shots really start seeming silly. The shot of the talisman and shears were enough, but when she picks them up, it’s on the side of comically juxtaposed besides the regular art and animation, which does seem much less animated than it usually is. Considering this is basically an animated paper puppet show, supposedly animated using Powerpoint, that’s pretty damn bad.

I will say the spirit is a little creepy, but nothing too fantastical in design. Like many times over the course of this whole franchise, I’m really left wondering what the backstory is behind this whole thing.

Episode 4: Red High Heel

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Plot: A businessman has gotten out of work late and nearly ends up having to walk home when he’s able to hail a taxi. He finds a bright red high heel in the back and asks the driver if one of his last customers dropped it. The driver quickly tells him to throw it out the window. The man is confused at the driver’s request until he hears footsteps outside of the door.

Breakdown: This one was a little clever but disappointing. The twist surprised me a bit, but the ending was out of nowhere and the narrator’s laugh at the end was out of place and seemed awkward. What about that was funny? Or so scary you’d laugh at the audience for being scared? You literally tossed a dead body at our faces then laughed.

I think it would’ve been more clever if the driver was the bad guy. Say the woman was his last victim come back to haunt him because he’s really a serial killer. Or have her try to warn the businessman about the driver, then have the big end-of-story twist be the driver killing him or turning out to be a demon or something. What we got was a ‘twist’ that was really just a sad random circumstance that I guess the narrator thinks is funny. *shrug*

Yugioh Episode 9 Sub/Dub Comparison

YGOEP9SDCTITLE
I felt like getting a facial tattoo after I died…..Doesn’t everyone?

Plot: Kaiba has seemingly died and come back from the grave after running away from Pegasus’ goons. His ‘ghost’ is all that’s left and it has a desire to exact revenge against Yugi for beating him. Meanwhile, the real Kaiba has snuck into his hidden computer room to help Yugi out. Can Yugi beat this fake even if he has Kaiba’s deck? Will 4Kids ever stop the ghost puns?

 

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I’ll get this out of the way quickly. The ‘ghost’ is not a ghost. He’s also not the ‘evil’ part of Kaiba that was sent to the shadow realm. He’s a hacker working for Pegasus that is dressed up like Kaiba. The biggest mystery surrounding him is how the hell did he cram his fat ass into that suit and how did it make him a foot taller?

 
In the original, after Yugi nods to his friends before the duel, Kimo explains who the fake is and explains that he’s facing a ghost Kaiba that blames him for his death, will break Yugi’s spirit and force him to lose the match, giving Kaiba corp to Pegasus. In the dub, 4Kids decides to make this even more mystic by having fake-Kaiba communicate with Yugi telepathically basically saying nothing he couldn’t have said out loud. Then he tells Kimo that Pegasus can have Kaiba corp after he exacts his revenge.

 
I don’t see why it’s so shocking that fake Kaiba had a Cyclops/Hitatsume Giant card. It’s a pretty common card and of course a fake Kaiba would have his common cards.

 
4Kids obviously added that vocal song during Kaiba’s secret agent-ness scene. Not much to complain about, though. It’s a cool song that matches well with the scene. Oh and they removed the words “Retina scan” from the door scanner. Excuse me, I mean ‘Retna scan.’ As well as ‘Please show me’ and ‘Security lock’.

 
Subbed: YGOEP9SDCScreen1

Dubbed: YGOEP9SDCScreen2

 

Kaiba’s computer is much less talkative and has less of a personality in the subbed version. However, again, the change is alright by me.
Okay, 4Kids, what gives with that Funny Bunny with a strike through it as the “Access Denied” screen? The original just said “Access Denied” …In English. If I’ll give 4Kids anything for that it’s that they actually remembered a reference from their show. Also, the text on the screen is replaced with a loading bar.

 

Subbed: YGOEP9SDCScreen3YGOEP9SDCScreen5
Dubbed: YGOEP9SDCScreen4YGOEP9SDCScreen6

 

If I’m getting this right, Kaiba simply used the satellite to hack into Industrial Illusions main computer. The dub makes it sound like he took the satellite out of the sky and crashed it into the computer mainframe! There’s a big difference there, 4Kids! Just because they used zoomy animation doesn’t mean they were actually sending the satellite there! You could’ve killed people 4Kids! Call me crazy. Seriously, watch this episode and tell me I’m wrong. He makes jokes about the word “crash”, his computer says “impact” – it seriously sounds like he just made the satellite fall out of the sky.

 

Also, I shouldn’t even have to tell you this, but hacking generally doesn’t involve cutesy animated doors and hallways. Hacking also doesn’t mean using virtual bombs to force open virtual doors with virtual explosions. Gah, this episode has about as much understanding of computers as NCIS….And it’s another depiction of how I wish hacking actually was.

 
The password between the two versions is drastically different and, quite frankly, the dub makes Pegasus look like a dumbass. In the sub, Yugi’s data is kept in an impenetrable fortress. Kaiba gets the joke and says the password is Alcatraz. In the dub, Kaiba just calls Pegasus an egomaniac and says the password is Pegasus.

 

First off, a computer genius using his name as a password? Why didn’t he just make it ‘password’ it’s about as useful and stupid. Second, why change this? This can easily be translated, and Alcatraz isn’t a foreign marking to the US. Were there legal issues or is there something offensive about saying the name of a prison?

 

This episode was alright. It’s cool to see enemies team up every now and then. It was a really weird duel though. The impostor is just unsettling, but I guess that’s the point….

 
Next time, the duel between Yugi and the fake Kaiba concludes. Will he be able to defeat the impostor and save Mokuba?

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 4 Episodes 1 and 2

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I want eyeballs, I want liver, Meow Mix, Meow Mix please deliver

Episode 1 – Tongue

Plot: A man takes pity upon a dead cat in the road and moves it onto the sidewalk. He and some nearby boys decide to bury it and make it a proper grave. However, things tend to follow those who show them kindness.

Breakdown: First and foremost, holy shit people hate this season. I was pleasantly surprised to see this as a recommended anime on a streaming site and lo and behold the first page was tons of people saying what complete and utter garbage it was. I thought they trashed YS3 badly. There was nary a kind word about this season on that page.

But, hey, I pretty much liked YS3, so maybe I’ll like this season too.

Second, we’re back to having proper intros and the narrator. However, this narrator seems like a different guy and he has a different voice. This voice is deeper and more menacing, which I guess sets a better tone, but I think I have to get used to it.

He also narrates each and every bit of the story, which didn’t happen much in the first three seasons. I don’t know how many times he’ll do this and I’m not sure if I like it.

Finally, before the episode review anyway, the ED is somewhat bland but catchy. It’s a happy-go-lucky forgettable song that would fit in nearly any other anime and it contrasts a lot with the ED’s of the past three seasons. Hopefully they’ll do something creative with it over time.

New this season also is that, apparently, each short also has at least one clip in live-action. It serves no purpose; not even horror-wise.

Now onto the episode. I was kinda torn emotionally as the episode went on. I didn’t want this guy to end up dead because he did something nice for a poor dead cat. I was also disappointed that an episode titled ‘Tongue’ wasn’t creepier. However, I think the twist at the end was unexpected, albeit a bit confusing.

He is indeed being stalked by the spirit of the cat, but it turns out that it’s merely being used as a puppet by another spirit that is actually malicious. From what I could gather from the conversations, this was apparently the ghost of someone who died nearby where the dead cat was. Her spirit watched the cat get found and given a proper burial, but he didn’t find her and lay her to rest, so she got jealous and upset and attacked him for it.

It is clever, and I wish we could get a Side B to this story to get her view, but uh, if you were really murdered or left for dead or what have you, wouldn’t you have bigger bones to pick with whomever is responsible for your death rather than someone who merely buried a run over cat? Oh, hey, if can communicate with him, why not tell him where your body is and ask him to give you a proper burial?

Episode 2 – Fish Tank

YS4EP2TITLE
No. The answer is always no.

Plot: A boy and his friends break into an abandoned house and one of them finds a weird fish tank filled with murky water and plants. The house is abandoned, but is the tank?

Breakdown: So I guess the narrator is going to keep telling the whole story now. Still not sure if I like it or not. It both adds tension yet takes it away. They’re taking away the silent tension but replacing it with creepy story-teller tension. Also, this is more like what a real kamishibai would be like.

As for this story, it’s meh. Everything you expect to happen happens. Starting off with the ‘teenagers breaking into a creepy abandoned house’ trope is never a good sign, but the instant you see that tank you know that there’s some monster in there and you know it’s going to take/eat him.

They also sorta ruin the initial kill by having one of his friends go into the room (with the stool the boy used to look into the tank mysteriously back in the corner of the room) with him about to investigate a sound coming from the tank, indicating that he’ll be eaten then the other boy will be eaten too.

The creature isn’t even creative. It’s just creepified human arms.

Pokemon Episode 31 Analysis: Dig Those Diglett!

POKEMON EP31 TITLE
That sound was your heart bursting with too much cuteness.

CotD(s): The Foreman – Known only as The Foreman, he is obsessed with ridding his construction site of Diglett since they’re impeding his progress in building a huge dam.

Reappear?: No.

Pokemon: None.

Evolutions: Jessie’s Ekans -> Arbok

James’ Koffing -> Weezing

Plot: Ash, Misty and Brock are lost again (Shock beyond shocks) as they try to make their way to Fuchsia City to get Ash another badge. As they walk through the mountains, they hear several explosions and follow the sounds to a road where a huge convoy of trucks are carrying supplies to a spot on the mountain.

The convoy suddenly crashes due to a rock slide caused by some local Diglett. The construction foreman angrily explains to Ash and the others that the Diglett have been ruining his efforts to get supplies to the dam project time and time again. They’re driving him up a wall and damaging his business. Because of the Diglett problem, he states that he has basically set up a bounty on Diglett and is calling upon all skilled Pokemon trainers in the area to handle the Diglett problem. If they do, they get a free week at a fancy resort.

Ash, Misty and Brock agree to help out and are shocked to find that they’re not the only ones who have been sent on this mission. Gary and a slue of other Pokemon trainers arrive at the site to also help take care of the Diglett problem.

Ash is irked by Gary’s appearance and his typical sleights, and Gary is more than glad to take the first shot at the nuisance Diglett. However, he’s shocked when his Pokemon recall themselves back into their Pokeballs before they’re even fully released. No matter who’s being let out or what trainer is sending it out, everyone’s Pokemon refuse to come out of their Pokeballs and merely get returned to their respective trainers by the Diglett.

Seeing their efforts are futile, Gary decides his time is better spent returning to his Pokemon journey and takes his leave.

Later that night, as Ash, Misty and Brock are following some of the Diglett, Team Rocket considers the consequences and benefits to making Koffing and Ekans evolve. While they desperately want stronger Pokemon, they are very worried about what changing their bodies might do to their personalities.

As they hug and cry on their Pokemon, both Ekans and Koffing suddenly evolve into Arbok and Weezing.

Ash and the others are lead to a beautiful area where the Diglett are planting many trees with Dugtrio, their evolved form, plowing the ground for them. They realize that it’s likely that the Diglett and Dugtrio are probably responsible for planting a wide range of foliage not just in these mountains, but across the world. The Pokemon realized that earlier, which is why the refused to exit their Pokeballs and fight the Diglett. The Foreman points out that building the dam here will wipe all of the plants out and many Pokemon will be swept away in the water.

He decides to call off the project, but the group is interrupted by Team Rocket, who unveil their newly evolved Pokemon. Unfazed by their evolution, Ash starts the battle with Pikachu, Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur. Arbok and Weezing tunnel underground, but are met with the very angry group of Diglett and Dugtrio who prompted beat them up and blast them off into the dam, destroying it.

With the dam project canceled and the Diglett and Dugtrio free to beautify their mountains, Ash, Misty and Brock head off to the Fuchsia City Gym.

——————————–

– That blank map is sure helpful. According to Dogasu, this isn’t even a case of text removal, either. It’s just a really useless map.

POKEMON EP31 screen1

– Jessie: *her food bowl fell on her head* “I didn’t *num num* get a taste” You literally just took a taste as you were talking about not getting a taste.

– I will never tire of the haunting chant of the Diglett. I can’t resist those cute little guys.

– Uhm…..Gary’s fangirls think Brock is an old man?……..They’re clearly older than him. They can even drive, so they have to be at least 16 whereas Brock is slated as 15, I believe. Does Brock just look old?

– Even though I know the reasons behind it now (translation issues), Jessie randomly shouting out ‘MY NAME’S JESSIE!’ before shifting back to normal dialogue will never not be hilarious to me.

– I love that the Diglett are actually kind enough to return the Pokeballs to their respective trainers when their releases fail.

– I find it…..very strange that the show kinda tricks you into thinking Ash, Misty and Brock are all naked together in that hot spring. Ash is up to his chin in water, Brock is up to his waist and they make it a point to show Misty from the back, leaning on some rocks, with no visible bathing suit. It does seem like it’s a bit of a joke when Ash stands up and reveals they’re all wearing swimsuits. Am I looking too much into this? Because that really was the vibe I was getting.

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– Meowth may brush off their evolution as being their time to evolve, but they were clearly triggered by Jessie and James’ tears.

Also, just to get this slight rant out of the way, I do have to call this whole evo bunk. I, as much as anyone else, also wanted Koffing and Ekans to evolve. It was about time that Team Rocket had something new to work with, even if it is just slightly stronger versions of the Pokemon they already had.

The way they went about it and the subsequent results, however, are unsatisfactory to say the least. Yes, Koffing and Ekans, at this point, should have enough exp to evolve, if winning doesn’t mean anything anyway. And it is sweet that the tears of Jessie and James seemingly triggered the evolution. But this doesn’t make entirely much sense.

First off, Jessie and James were crying because they realized they might not want their Pokemon to evolve. That fear of what they will be afterward was what was causing them to cry, not the failure of making them evolve.

Second, I have a hard time believing a Pokemon can evolve just because their trainer really really wants it. If they have been refraining from evolving after reaching their proper levels and decided to let go after witnessing this, I guess that’s fine, but why would they be doing that?

I wouldn’t really be that upset about this if Arbok and Weezing got any limelight in their debut. They get defeated just as easily as they did when they were Ekans and Koffing. I’m not saying let Team Rocket win, but at least make it a substantially more difficult battle than usual.

– Dexter: “Dugtrio – the evolved form of Diglett. No specific information found.”

…..Wait, so Gary has a damn near encyclopedic knowledge base of Diglett, but even Dexter can’t think of a damn thing to say about Dugtrio, even if they’re nearly as dirt common as Diglett?….The hell?

– The Foreman: “The project’s canceled – I won’t build the dam” You’re just the construction foreman. I’m pretty sure the city or some private backer is the person who is really making this project happen. You have no authority to call it off. Even if you did just leave with your crew, the actual people calling for the building of the dam would just hire another crew.

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– Ash: “Aw, we can handle this, right, Pikachu? Charmander, Squirtle, Bulbasaur! Everyone, go!” Everyone, eh? Sure that’s….EVERYone?….ALL of your Pokemon…..There’s not like…..a bird or something you’d like to call out? Begins with a P…rhymes with ‘Smidgeotto’? Not ringing any bells? I can beat you in the head with a baseball bat until you remember, if that’ll help.

By the way, I’m completely convinced that these three were just let out to create the illusion that this battle is tougher. This is reflected when Ash doesn’t even call on them to do anything. He just relies on Messiahchu as usual.

Also, if they were really even trying to give this battle even a slight illusion of weight, they shouldn’t have started it with Ash basically rolling his eyes and brushing off Team Rocket like they were pointless obstacles. He doesn’t even give a quick “Whoa, what are they!?” at Weezing and Arbok. He doesn’t give the smallest of shits. He doesn’t even give them a quick scan with Dexter. They unveil their new forms and he just acts annoyed that he has to battle them again.

What makes this battle even more annoying and almost insulting to both Arbok and Weezing and the audience is that Arbok and Weezing, in their grand debut, aren’t even beaten by Ash. They dive underground and get beaten up OFF-SCREEN by the Diglett and Dugtrio. The only thing they do beforehand are a Smokescreen where the effects aren’t even shown or felt and Arbok dodging one attack by Pikachu. That. Is. It. That. Is. All.

POKEMON EP31 screen4
God Bless Team Rocket for actually giving their Pokemon their proper celebratory entrance, though.

– How the hell is it possible that a sign that says ‘Construction of Giva Dam – Canceled’ falls on James’ head as a result of plowing through the dam if the foreman canceled it mere minutes before Team Rocket showed up and crashed into the dam?

———————————

All in all, I like half of this episode. Each plot element seemed to be half good and half bad.

I like that Gary made another appearance and, despite the fact that he was taking many potshots at Ash, I wasn’t annoyed by his taunts as much as I normally am. Maybe because he takes the time out to show a bit more of his technical knowledge with Pokemon and maybe because I’m at a point in the show where I am also shamelessly pointing out Ash’s flaws and failures. I mean, seriously guys, can we be honest here? None of what Gary was saying was false. He is way behind everyone else from Pallet. His capture rate is atrocious. It is in poor taste to show off your Pokemon like trophies. He really hasn’t been studying.

However, Gary’s time was, as usual, very brief and disappointing. We don’t get to see Gary battle and we don’t get to see Gary battle Ash. He mostly stood around, mocked Ash and said some smart things. Again, his appearance was just another reminder that we could be watching someone far more interesting and competent than Ash. But we’re not.

POKEMON EP31 screen5

The plotline with the Diglett was also good. I absolutely love Diglett. They are very adorable, funny and kind. I also liked how the Pokemon all refused to leave their Pokeballs to fight them even if them ALL figuring that out before they were even released isn’t very believable to me (Pokemon telepathy or something I guess?)

However, of course it amounted to another semi-environmentalist message to stop the construction, and of course this is another case of the construction foreman, for some reason, having all of the power to stop the project and having a drastic, almost out of character, change of heart. He was trying to smash them with a hammer earlier but aww they plant trees!

The biggest issue I have with this episode is obviously Ekans and Koffing evolving. This was just a terrible and almost insulting way to do it. A Pokemon’s evolution episode is supposed to be their time to shine either for the entirety of the plot or to have one kick-ass hurrah after the evolution takes place. You’re supposed to celebrate the occasion, even it is an enemy. Because, keep in mind, we know that Ekans and Koffing are good Pokemon (See: Island of the Giant Pokemon) – They just have bad people as trainers. They deserve to have their evolutions be a big deal.

Like I said, this doesn’t have to mean letting Team Rocket win. You could have the episode focus more on their efforts on making them evolve or their reasons for wanting them to evolve. Maybe Ekans and Koffing could’ve been depressed that they keep ‘failing’ their trainers and Jessie and James could’ve thought inducing evolution would make them feel stronger and more useful, but then they realized that they love them just as they are and their failures are just as much theirs as Ekans and Koffing’s. Maybe not shove this plot into a completely unrelated episode as a nearly glazed over subplot. Hell, even Ignoredeotto gets an episode all to himself on his evo episode.

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You could also just have more focus on the battle between them, have the reveal to Ash and co. actually have some impact and make the battle significantly more difficult than usual. They still lose, but they lose as a team and they think nothing worse of the others for it. They just keep plugging on.

But no. They evolve for unclear reasons, prompted by Jessie and James merely going, “Boy I wish our Pokemon didn’t suck. *gasp* We should try to force evolution so they don’t suck! It didn’t work. That sucks. But wait, they might be different after they evolve. I don’t want that. *cries and hugs*”

Then they get a slight hurrah in Jessie and James making a big deal out of their reveal, but it’s ruined by Ash not giving a shit and no one else reacting at all. They try to force the illusion of weight by having Ash call out (almost) all of his Pokemon for the battle, but they never even move a muscle in the battle outside of Pikachu, and their battle is horrendously short with no moves (all two of them) even hitting. Then Arbok and Weezing are beaten up off-screen by the adorable little eight-inch mole Pokemon and their slightly bigger brethren.

It’s like this whole evolution plot was a contractual obligation by the writers. ‘Dammit, we’re over 30 episodes in and Team Rocket’s still got the same Pokemon they’ve always had. They’re getting stale and boring. How can we freshen this up but not alter the status quo in the slightest? Oh if only we could just re-skin the Pokemon they have now…..Oh right, evolution! Do that. The Diglett plot for this episode isn’t strong enough for 22 minutes anyway.’

Arbok and Weezing are more than welcome, but I always hated the way they were shafted in the execution of it all.

Fun Depressing fact: For years I wracked my brain trying to figure out what episode Ekans and Koffing evolved in. I felt like I missed an episode or something. But then, years into syndication, I stumbled upon the familiar Diglett episode, gave it a re-watch and the light bulb went off. This plot is so shoved to the corner, I legit forgot about it for years.

Next episode, the Fuchsia City Gym battle for the Soul Badge.