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

Rating: 8/10

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

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Jeez, long-ass title there, Japan.

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

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

15 Minute Mark

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

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

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

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

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

Half-Hour Mark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

45 Minute Mark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hour Mark

Got nothing particularly note-worthy here.

End Mark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended Audience: E for everyone!

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

HGTM EP9

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

Breakdown: So……incest!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SSBS – Tokyo Mew Mew Episode 37: The Shining Tear – Celebrating Christmas with Just the Two of Us

SSBS - TMM EP 37 SCREEN6

Plot: Ichigo is excited about spending Christmas with Aoyama, but quickly crashes back down to earth when she comes to the striking realization that she’s become used to lying to Aoyama about her status as a Mew.

She hates that she keeps having to lie to him, but can’t find a way to be truthful with him. Zakuro decides to take her Christmas shopping in the middle of the night to find a present for Aoyama. She tells Ichigo that presents are about conveying feelings in a physical form, since you can’t see someone else’s feelings for you. You’re sharing a piece of your heart when you give a gift, so giving a gift is just as much for you as it is the recipient.

As Ichigo thinks it over, a pendant catches her eye. Zakuro explains that it’s called ‘Tears for Christmas’, and Ichigo decides that this is the gift she wants to give Aoyama. Zakuro lends her the money to buy it, Ichigo thanks her and they part ways.

Throughout that night and the next day, Ichigo remains unsure about her situation with Aoyama. She feels she’s become selfish and unfair to him. The next afternoon, when she’s set to meet him in the park, she lies and says she needs to go straight home before running off in tears.

That night, Ichigo continues to sink into a depression, believing herself to be not good enough for Aoyama. She soon remember Aoyama’s earlier words to her about people doing the best they can little by little. She says that Aoyama’s so direct about everything, and she owes it to him to be the same way because she loves him with all of her heart.

The next day, she sends a message to Aoyama apologizing for her behavior at the park and confirming that she’ll keep their date for the Christmas tree lighting that afternoon. She arrives pretty early, but the occasion is already soured by the aliens who start blasting away at the city surrounding the tree.

Ichigo bolts to the scene of the destruction and takes on the aliens by herself. Kisshu asks her why she continues to support the humans when she’s already so much more like the aliens. She can’t communicate her feelings to humans and they’ll turn on her eventually for being so different and powerful. He claims she should defect from the humans and join them. Ichigo stands her ground firmly and proclaims that she doesn’t do what she does for praise – she’ll protect everyone no matter what.

Her intense emotions trigger a response from the Mew Aqua that was hidden deep within the city Christmas tree. Pai and Taruto praise Kisshu for seemingly having a plan that worked for a change, but Kisshu was serious in his pleas and is devastated that, once again, Ichigo has refused to go with them.

The other Mews show up to the fight, and Ichigo is more determined now than ever protect those she holds dear.

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– So, even though they’re all custom-made hats, Ichigo gets a special strawberry Christmas hat (Which is, admittedly, adorable.) but Lettuce gets an oversized golf hat? And Zakuro gets a big puffy beret with dangly puffballs on it? And Mint just gets ribbons? I would call favoritism again…..BUT PUDDING IN A REINDEER OUTFIT! ADORABLE!~

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– I’ll admit, that daydream Ichigo had was really sweet and romantic. The ending was also a little funny. You just typically don’t see Aoyama have those kinds of cartoony reactions.

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– I’m a little uncomfortable about these 13 year olds speculating that their friend will have sex with her boyfriend over Christmas. Also, slow your roll, girls, they haven’t even kissed yet.

– Uh, animators, are you asleep at the wheel? Because Aoyama’s talking, you’re focusing on his face, but his lips aren’t moving.

– I don’t know if it’s the Jingle Bells playing in the background, but I can’t help but smile as Ichigo goes on yet another doofy love-fueled tirade in the cafe.

Also, nice sudden slam back down to earth. Not lying. Her suddenly knocking over the bucket on accident after Mint reminds her of her Mew duties, even after saying ‘everything always manages to work out.’ was a well-done tone shift, and it was one of the better commercial cliffhangers. The fact that it’s moreso about her becoming accustomed to lying to Aoyama and less about ‘oh yeah, I’m a mew!’ is also a more interesting approach.

– Awww, Zakuro’s taking Ichigo Christmas shopping. I love Zakuro. She’s such a good friend.

– That speech about presents and feelings was really well-written too. And I like the song in the background, even if it’s not terribly memorable.

– That necklace is butt ugly, though.

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– Hahaha, Ryou running the cafe all by himself is priceless.

– The decorated Cafe also looks fantastic.

– Not lying, I burst out in laughter and ‘aww’s when I saw Mint and Lettuce in their reindeer outfits.

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– Oh my god, Zakuro’s Rudolph! Ahahahaha!

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– Marks off for basically reusing the entire animation cycle of the scene in her bedroom just a few shots prior to this. All they did to change it was make it darker…

– As much as I hate to skew into a negative state, this episode is so well written and directed…I can’t help but wonder how 4Kids would’ve royally screwed this one over.

– Do people typically have Christmas tree lightings in the day time? Every one I’ve seen is at night…so you can…ya know….see the lights.

– Aw, come on, the aliens are going to ruin Christmas? Ba humbug.

– See this is one of the things I like most about Ichigo. She has another set date for Aoyama, after giving him the brush off the day before, and, without a single hesitation, she runs off towards trouble, not even realizing it’s an alien matter. That’s the stuff of heroes.

– Kisshu’s speech about Ichigo not being able to communicate feelings to other humans is a little too on-the-nose. How did he know she was having trouble with that?

– Aw poor Kisshu….can I offer you a…..tissue?

….I am so sorry, I couldn’t resist.

– Little cheesy that the Mew Aqua’s in a Christmas tree.

– The song for the next episode preview is a very nice gentle version of ‘Silent Night.’ This episode is making me so mellow…

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So I kinda love this episode. The only gripe I have with it is that there are some occasions where they’re obviously cutting corners in the animation department, including one instance where they just straight up don’t animate, but it’s nothing too noticeable or bad enough to mark this episode off that much. The art and direction more than made up for any shortcuts they may have taken.

This is one of the best written episodes we’ve gotten so far. It’s a very realistic and emotional take on Ichigo’s whole situation, made all the more powerful because it’s happening around Christmas, when you’re supposed to be happy and sharing love with others.

I love the whole flow of this episode, too. While the beginning is the typical ‘yay I get to spend time with Aoyama’ stuff we get a lot of, the sudden shift in tone is very well-done and welcome. We’ve seen Ichigo get upset about lying to Aoyama before, but it hits her like a ton of bricks this time because she knows she’s becoming complacent in her lying, and she hates that. Aoyama deserves better, but she can’t bring herself to give it to him because she’s afraid she’s either not good enough or that he’ll reject her.

It’s a great moment when Aoyama’s own words help bring her out of that dark place and give her the confidence to go and be honest with him, and that surge of love and honesty giving her even more drive in her mission is a good moment of character development.

I also like that this is a two-parter because it allows the story development to have much better pacing than it otherwise would have. We need slower and more gradual developments, especially in plot lines like these, to give the changes some time to sit and resolve.

I was worried I might be biased in this episode simply because it’s a Christmas episode, but I don’t think I am. It’s truly a great episode, even if the other Mews are pretty shafted for a majority of it. They’re not nearly as shoved into a corner as they usually are, Zakuro got some nice moments and, come on, all but one of the Mews in reindeer outfits!…And Zakuro’s Rudolph!

Next episode, can the Mews save Christmas? Can Ichigo finally be truly honest with Aoyama? Is there a secret Aoyama’s somehow hiding as well?

Animating Halloween: Hell Girl – Two Mirrors: Episode 8 – The Fake Hell Link

HGTM EP8

Plot: The students of a junior high school are constantly scolded by a strict teacher named Shoko Baba, though they’ve nicknamed her Make-Up Hag. As the grudges of the students grow, more of them receive emails by a mysterious person claiming to be Hell Girl with a fake Hell Link website. None of them can properly enter a grievance against her, however, since every attempt results in an error claiming they’re not filled with enough anger and vengeance.

Who is behind this fake Hell Link and why does it seem to be specifically targeting Shoko Baba?

Breakdown: One of the best episodes so far.

The premise, at first, didn’t intrigue me much at all. When I watched the next episode preview, I thought it’d be boring. A spam email claiming it’s Hell Link? Unless things are actually happening to the people being entered into the system, how could this possibly be interesting?

Surprisingly, quite a bit. The entire first half leaves you wondering who’s really behind this website, and even after it becomes quite clear who it is, you still wonder why they’re doing this and what beef they have with Shoko Baba.

In a previous episode, we saw the first time someone has outright refused Hell Girl’s services after hearing what the price is. This is the second time such a thing has happened.

When the, let’s call her a culprit, called Hell Girl, she refused to pull the string because she didn’t want to go to hell. She even got on her knees and begged Hell Girl to just take Baba without cursing her. This obviously didn’t work, so she decided she’d go on an insanely long mission to destroy her life, to the point where Baba’s husband divorced her and she became estranged to her son.

She became enraged when it seemed like that didn’t destroy her enough, so she concocted a plan to trick one of the students into using Hell Girl for her so she could send her to hell without damning her own soul.

This actually isn’t the first time we’ve seen someone try to send another person to hell by proxy, but this is the first time it nearly worked. Before, the proxy client didn’t take a level of vengeance into consideration. This time, the proxy client has used the website before and knows how Hell Girl works so she could game the system better.

Too bad Ai doesn’t put up with that shit. Laid down a trap for her like a boss.

It’s also amazing how they flipped the script on us. I won’t give away the final twist, but it was very bittersweet and somewhat touching.

What is wrong with the proxy client, though? I will admit, Baba’s a bit of a bitch, but what did she do besides give her somewhat poor marks in middle school that made her so hateful? She even blamed this woman on her own parents getting a divorce. Like, what? Get help, lady.

Rating: 9/10

Animating Halloween: Hell Girl – Two Mirrors: Episode 7 – Bonds

HGTM EP7

Plot: Emi’s brother, Tatsuya, died in a tragic motorcycle accident, and now her mother is obsessed with avenging his death by going after the city for a dangerous roadway. Her family is falling apart before her eyes. Despite her best efforts at keeping the family together, Emi is living in a house with no love or attention. Before his death, Tatsuya contacted Hell Girl and got the signature straw doll. Strangely, even though Tatsuya has died, the doll is seemingly passed down to Emi. Who is the doll’s target, and will Emi pull the string to restore happiness back to her family?

Breakdown: This episode certainly was interesting and incredibly tragic.

They depicted the impact of a death of a child in a family very realistically, almost to the point where you want to cry for nearly everyone involved. The dad is drinking all the time and ignoring the problems his wife is currently having, pretty much just letting her grieve in her own way.

Emi is doing everything in her power to keep it together. She’s taking care of her mother, doing all of the household chores and is keeping up activities at school.

Meanwhile, the mother has gone off the rails. She spends her days consumed with thoughts of Tatsuya. She’s gone on a warpath to attack the city for a road that she deems was so unsafe that it caused her son’s accident. It’s also created a massive media storm that…I find unrealistic to be honest. Some media attention, sure, but they are being attacked by mobs of journalists for this issue that’s not really all that news-worthy.

I know a lot of local roads that have issues and end up having a lot of accidents, fatalities included. It’s quite possible to lock the city into a lawsuit over safety issues resulting in a fatality, but it would hardly garner this level of media attention.

Plus, honestly, that road doesn’t look all that unsafe. It’s a sharp turn…with plenty of signs. It was extremely rainy out and he looked like he was speeding. It was an accident. Even Emi and her father agree it was just an accident.

Throughout the episode, Emi’s mother keeps slipping further and further from sanity. She pays Emi absolutely no mind and focuses her all into Tatsuya and getting vengeance for his death.

It’s made a mystery throughout most of the episode as to who Tatsuya was targeting when he called Hell Girl, but about halfway through the episode, considering no one else is really showing up, you come to realize it’s the mother.

Before his death, their mother was still focused entirely on Tatsuya. She never cared at all about Emi. She never paid her any attention or noticed her achievements. No matter how hard she tried, she could never get her mother’s attention because Tatsuya consumed it all.

Tatsuya hated the attention because their mother was always on his ass about every little thing. She was suffocating him and driving him insane. He believed that their family would be perfect if she weren’t around. However, he died before he was able to use the doll.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen a client die before using the doll. I always assumed the doll went back to normal if the client died before the contract could be made, but not only does it stick around, the power gets transferred to someone else without them accessing Hell Girl.

I had no idea you could do that. I could swear that accessing the website was necessary for any deal to start. The only reason I can think of for this happening is maybe, since Emi also had it out for their mother deep down, the feeling of vengeance and the pending contract already in play was enough to transfer it to her? I dunno. Sometimes, I feel like Hell Girl plays it fast and loose with the rules to get a plot going.

The third act is rather heart-breaking. Absolutely everything is falling apart in Emi’s family.

Her dad is becoming more of a drunk, who even seems like he quit his job near the end or got fired.

Her mother is completely insane now, spending her time cuddling a broken Buddha statue head that broke in the accident, acting like it’s somehow Tatsuya or a link to him, borrowing a ton of money for who knows where to get a book deal for Tatsuya’s story and, despite the city deciding to fix the road, they won’t admit responsibility for Tatsuya’s death, which makes her even more infuriated.

Emi is left with complete responsibility in the house and no one’s paying a lick of attention to her. Unable to take it any longer, Emi takes his earlier statement to heart. Maybe their family really would be better off without their mom. She pulls the string and her mother is sent to hell.

We get no hell torture this time around, but we do see her in the boat with Ai and Ren. They tell her she’s going to hell, and she asks if Tatsuya’s there. Even though Ren tells her it’s extremely unlikely, she gleefully yells out over and over that she’s going to see Tatsuya. I know she’s not right in the head, but why would she want to believe Tatsuya’s in hell, even if she’s going there too?

And it doesn’t stop there. Obviously, this doesn’t really fix the issue. Emi’s father believes her mother is merely missing and seemingly spends his days going out to look for her. Emi spends all her days alone and lives in a delusion of a happy family by setting up photos of everyone around the dinner table and pretending they’re the real thing.

God. Damn.

I can’t even really bring myself to say the mother deserved to go to hell. I have no idea how much of a bitch she was before Tatsuya died. From what Emi and Tatsuya said, her entire world was Tatsuya, and she was very neglectful of Emi, but I never got to see to what levels they’re talking about. A flashback or two in that regard would’ve been nice.

Even if she was that way, it’s hard to say that’s enough to warrant being damned to hell.

After the fact, it’s even harder to say she deserves it because she’s obviously spiraling in grief to the point of extremely mental illness. She won’t eat, she won’t pay attention to anything that doesn’t involve Tatsuya and she eventually gets so bad that she just sits on the floor clutching that Buddha head chanting ‘Tatsuya’ over and over.

I know Emi’s in a lot of pain and is frustrated at how her parents, particularly her mother, is acting, but while she may have meant to ignore her before Tatsuya died, I don’t think she’s meaning to do it now. It’s just how some people grieve. This is an extreme case, but it still counts.

Now Emi’s damned to hell too. It’s just a terrible situation on all sides.

Rating: 9/10

Yami Shibai 6 Review

Plot: The sixth installment of the horror anthology series, Yami Shibai.

Breakdown: This certainly was an interesting, but somewhat tame, season of Yami Shibai. There was definitely more of a focus on happier endings and sadder, tragic stories than there were actual horror, but that doesn’t mean they slipped too much in the horror department.

Like I’ve mentioned before, part of horror is creating a connection with the main characters and caring for them to the point where you worry for their safety, heightening the sense of horror that you get from the danger at hand. Problem is, some of these stories didn’t amount as much to horror as they did tragedy. I’m not sure how much of a problem that is because Yami Shibai is a theater of darkness, and tragedy and sadness are indeed dark feelings. I would say I come here for the horror, but I moreso come for the stories as a whole.

The good news is that, even when the stories were more sad or tragic than usual, and even if they had happy endings, the twists and horror elements were usually well-done, and I can’t think of any story this season that was notably bad.

Episode 1: Thunderous Visitor8/10: Starting off a little sad, but definitely creepy with some great pacing, Thunderous Visitor has a great twist and a lot of suspense.

Episode 2: Tomonashi Cave6.5/10: While the story is alright, the episode as a whole is very cliché, and you only really care about one of the characters. Some of the visuals were creepy, but it’s nothing to write home about.

Episode 3: The Wind’s Warning 8.5/10: The story manages to be creepy while having both a happy ending and a sad but sweet twist.

Episode 4: Swamp Offering7/10: Confusing ending, and I still don’t quite understand it even with several theories surrounding it. However, it’s a decent enough horror story with a cathartic ending.

Episode 5: The Dripping9/10: A really chilling and legitimately frightening tale that is only hindered by the setup that I can’t make heads or tails of.

Episode 6: Sakura 9/10: I really love this story, and it does have several creepy and eerie elements, but it could be dinged off for being more tragic and sad with a happy ending than providing full horror. That doesn’t really bother me, though. Also, how and why the tree was suddenly cut down is a bit too convenient and confusing.

Episode 7: Frog Eggs 8.5/10: The more I think about this episode, the creepier it gets. The story doesn’t make much sense to me no matter how I look at it, but I can’t deny that those damn dot eyes and the very ending make for very effective scares.

Episode 8: Sea Fortunes3/10: Weakest episode of the season by far. It’s not necessarily all that bad, it’s just boring and not scary to me. Not to mention that the story doesn’t even make much sense.

Episode 9: Mud Games10/10: Second of two 10/10 rating’s I’ve given a Yami Shibai episode. I would dock it off for being so ridiculously sad, but I can’t, in all good conscience, do that because it did emit a fairly strong emotional response in me. Plus, it does have a very good horror element to it amidst the sadness, so it’s not faltering in that area for the sake of tragedy.

Episode 10: Tree of Innocence9/10: I mentioned that this episode was sadder than Mud Games due to the current circumstances of one of the boys, but Mud Games still created a stronger emotional response in me as a whole, and the true sadness of his situation doesn’t sink until you’ve either watched the episode a couple of times or you’ve sat and ruminated over it, and the horror element in this one is pretty lackluster.

Episode 11: Frozen Memories7.5/10: Still going strong with the sadness, like the happy ending, but very very light on the horror and creepiness. I kinda liked that the…whatever that was outside the door was an unseen threat, but it just didn’t work very well.

Episode 12: Waterfall Drop9/10: One of the creepiest Yami Shibai entries, marred only by a slightly predictable setup and some craggy artwork.

Episode 13: Echoes 8/10: Definitely a creepy and legitimately disorienting episode with a decent enough twist at the end, but nothing that horrifying and slightly disappointing because this is the season finale so I expected more spice.

Rating: 8/10 (Averaged and Rounded up) – Here’s the thing, this is definitely the most consistent season of Yami Shibai yet in terms of quality in writing. There was only one ‘bad’ episode, and it wasn’t even really all that bad so much as uninteresting and confusing. I really enjoyed season six, but it did skimp on the horror several times.

I’m not against them going a different route when it comes to the ‘darkness’ aspect of the ‘Theater of Darkness’ Afterall, sadness and tragedy are two dark things, but after five seasons and a distinct theme of horror, you come to expect more in the actual horror department from Yami Shibai. Over half of the entries are aimed more towards sadness than scares. They can sometimes meld the two quite well, but it’s so strange that they decided to go down this route.

I can’t really mark them down for this, though, because I still think the quality of the stories was enough, and they always made an effort to include horror so it’s not like it was an afterthought.

Recommended Audience: There is some gore, most notably in Frog Eggs, and even then you can’t see too much. While the season is slanted more towards sadness and tragedy, there are still plenty of scares and creepiness here. 12+

Animating Halloween: Hell Girl – Two Mirrors: Episode 6 – Where the Sun Shines

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Plot: Souta is a lonely, bullied boy who spends his free time following and taking pictures of the only girl who’s ever shown him kindness, Kiwako. He has no ill intentions – he merely wants to watch her since he knows any advancement on his part would result in rejection. Besides, she’s dating a skeevy boy named Sugita. He knows he’s a bad person who is bound to somehow hurt Kiwako, but he can’t bring himself to fully contact Hell Girl. When she appears anyway, she rejects his request, stating she’s not a figure of justice. It’s up Souta to save her when things get really bad, but what can he do? What will he do?

Breakdown: I’m not sure how I feel about this episode. It’s kinda boring while leaning on depressing. This is the first time we’ve seen Hell Girl appear to someone and offer her services without the person in question pressing ‘enter’ on the website. I have no idea why she chose this client to do this for, but okay.

I also don’t understand her reasoning for rejecting him. No, she’s not a figure of justice, but this situation is very similar to Beloved Kei where the client did have motives for protecting someone in mind more than revenge and Ai was perfectly willing to help her. What’s the difference?

Most of the episode is just following around Kiwako and her skeevy boyfriend knowing that he’ll do something awful to her. And, of course, he does. He sets it up so his friend can rape her. I have no clue why he’d do that considering he gets nothing out of it.

Souta does nothing to warn her because he has such a lack of confidence that he believes she’d never believe him anyway and his actions wouldn’t stop it.

The ending is interesting because the script is flipped. The target deserved to go to hell, but the client switched to Kiwako, who wished revenge on Sugita. Souta, more enveloped in depression than ever, decides to murder the friend who did the raping, condemning his own soul to hell without Ai’s help, even though she’s perfectly willing to accept his request now. She even shows up at his house right before he’s about to do it, like an offering of taking the full burden off his shoulders.

It’s a bad situation, but the episode as a whole didn’t make me feel a whole lot of emotion. I didn’t even get a lot of catharsis because they skipped the hell torture today. We got to see him be a little tortured by some hands, but that’s old hat by now.

One cool thing I’ll note is that they were playing the theme song from Hell Girl’s first season in the bowling alley scene. That was pretty neat.

Rating: 6/10

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 6 Episodes 11, 12 & 13 (FINALE)

Episode 11: Frozen Memories

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Plot: A man is caught in a snowstorm on a mountain, mourning the death of his only child. He promised that, when he was well, he and his son would climb a mountain together, and now he’s doing so on his own in his son’s memory. He seeks shelter in a mountainside cabin meant for travelers and meets a man who won’t communicate with him, only shiver. When he finally does talk, the only thing he’ll say is that something has returned and begs him not to open the door no matter what until the blizzard passes. What lies beyond the door in the frigid mountain snow?

Breakdown: Sticking pretty fiercely to the tragic story theme, this one actually has a happy ending. While I liked the story, it truly wasn’t anything horrifying. We never learn what happened to the other people that strange man was with nor do we see what’s out there.

Truthfully, I think the latter is for the best because sometimes the best horror comes from the mystery of what’s in the darkness, and the tension of wondering whether or not he’ll open the door is decent enough, but it still wasn’t anything really scary at all.

I’m glad at the end, but also a bit confused. I have nothing against Yami Shibai trying new things, but they’ve been skimping on the horror for a while now. Also, the art in this episode is fairly subpar.

Episode 12: Waterfall Drop

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Plot: A group of teenagers head to a waterfall for some fun. They tease each other about how the spot is supposedly haunted by people who have committed suicide on the cliff before tricking one of the girls into following a path to the top of the waterfall.

Breakdown: Slow start but definitely one of the creepiest Yami Shibai entries. The kids were creepy, the way they kinda fake you out with the scare is well-done and when the shit finally goes down it is fantastic. The lighting, the reveal, it was all great.

It was a teeny, tiny bit predictable because you know her friends are trying to warn her of something, and the actual design of the creatures could be better, but it’s still very creepy and impacting.

Also, the art could be a little better for this one. The lines are really craggy, even for this show.

Episode 13: Echoes

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Plot: Two girls enjoy a hiking trip in the mountains when one of them decides to have some fun with the echoes. They hear a man’s voice responding to them, but get creeped out when he asks where they are. They decide to leave, but a sudden onset of fog traps them. It’s so bad that they can’t see each other despite being a few feet away. One of the girls is unable to hear her friend too and all she hears are the echoes getting closer and closer.

Breakdown: Strangely, despite being the season finale, there’s nothing that special about this episode. The narrator whispers in the start of this episode, for some reason, but that’s about it. Someone said that the figure in the fog at the end was the narrator, considering the intros for this season have been in a foggy area, but I’m not sure how much I buy that. If that’s what they were going for, they didn’t do a good job of conveying it.

As for the episode itself, I found it to be frightening in a disorienting way. There’s a strange, unseen figure in the fog, and it suddenly becomes numerous people, and they’re warning her about something else unseen. It’s a nice change of pace from the typical ‘Ahhh there are things in the dark!’ shtick.

This all culminates in a jump scare that seemingly leads into a happy ending, but then there’s a twist that legitimately took me off guard, and the voice acting for that one line made it very creepy.

A bit of an odd story to leave off on as it’s not terribly notable nor does it try to bookend the series as a whole, but it’s a good episode.

And that’s it for Yami Shibai 6! The full review of the entire season will be coming up soon!

Animating Halloween: Hell Girl – Two Mirrors: Episode 5 – Barreling Towards Hell

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Plot: A teenager is constantly being tortured by a local loudmouth jerk named Leon. He keeps attempting to input his name into Hell Correspondence, but he can’t get up the guts to hit ‘Send.’ Leon himself has someone pissing him off – his gang leader. In a hive of scum and villainy, it’s a race to see who gets sent to Hell first.

Breakdown: This episode is very obviously designed to make you feel like all humanity is trash, and you have absolutely no sympathy for either the target or the client, barring the initial teenager client.

This is one of the more unpleasant episodes to watch, and it’s downright over the top with how they write these characters.

Hey, here’s Leon. He is about as big of an asshole as they come. He’s loud, obnoxious, a massive idiot, he beats people up, he robs people, and just to put some frosting on his awful cake, he tricked a starving stray dog into thinking he’d give him food and then BLEW FIRE IN HIS FACE WITH A LIGHTER. Boy, I sure hope he doesn’t end up pulling that string. What a treasure we’d lose.

The initial client, the aforementioned teenager, does successfully call Hell Girl, but he, surprisingly, is one of the few who outright refuses to use her services once he’s been told of the price. It’s just strange because we’ve seen people damn themselves to hell for much less than what this guy goes through on a daily basis, but I respect his resolve.

The target of Leon’s anger is his gang leader. He wants out of the gang if he can land the heart of a local girl who doesn’t even know he exists. In typical gang leader fashion, he doesn’t like this attitude. He not only beats Leon to a pulp for daring to say such a thing, but he decides to forcibly make this girl his to further torment him. Not only that, but he decides to rape her, film it and show it off.

It’s not just these two who are shown to be evil. They make a point to show practically everyone outside of them are terrible too. Wanyuudou basically goes on a ‘The world is already hell’ tangent right before finding Kikuri about to be kidnapped and molested/raped by some perverts.

He claims the only reason people are so terrible now is because they’ve forgotten that heaven and hell exist…..

Yeah, I’m getting pretty sick of this ‘back in my day’ malarkey people throw about. Is the world a little rotten? Sure. But look back through any period of history and you’ll see we as a species maintain a pretty good level of rottenness and evil throughout time and space, no matter if religion or simply believing in an afterlife is a factor or not.

Anyhoo, is it any surprise that Leon pulls the string? No. He was probably going to go to hell anyway, which, again, raises the question of ‘Why allow people destined for hell anyway to use Hell Girl’s services?’ Is it just because, as long as people are alive, they always have a chance for redemption, but when they use Hell Girl they don’t?

He also doesn’t seem like he cares. Despite being magically transported to the Realm of Eternal Twilight, having a conversation with a creepy girl with red eyes and seeing a man turn into a straw doll before his eyes, he still questions whether a hell even exists. He also thinks his curse mark looks cool.

The hell torture this time around is pretty tame for a guy who seems so comfortable with filming rape that you’re certain he’s done it before. Being a gang leader, he’s probably also killed people. It was a little cool with him sinking in the concrete and Ai about to run him over with his own car. The car, btw, is also obnoxious in its own right. Look at this damn thing.

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I couldn’t get it in the shot, but it also has a pipe organ of massive exhaust pipes.

But it could’ve been better. I did really like Ai’s line to him when he was in the boat, though.

The big surprise comes at the end of the episode where we get two things.

The first is Leon dying. Yup. He dies. Not by Hell Girl’s hands – he dies because he was destined to die. It just so happens his time came a day after he got his revenge.

And how it happens is so cosmically sweet.

He’s riding his moped down the street when he sees the dog he burned walk into the road. He swerves to avoid him and then plows into a truck. The guys he tormented, including the previous client, saw it all happen and went to him, but they decided to walk away instead of help him. Kikuri even gives him a bit of shade before he bleeds to death.

This is the first time that we’ve seen a client die immediately after getting revenge. Technically, we have seen a client die before, but that was of old age decades after he pulled the string. It’s even more ironic because one of the reasons Leon didn’t care to pull the string was because he figured he would live a long time.

The second gives hope for humanity….in a way. The girl from before, Izumi, throws her empty cup into someone’s bicycle basket. Wanyuudou chastises her for it, reminding her that heaven and hell are watching and judging her, so she apologizes and picks up her trash.

This is….kinda nice, but 1) Littering? Really? That’s your crime of the century?

2) People really shouldn’t be forked into being good people by reminding them that they’ll either go to heaven or hell after they die….And this is coming from a Christian. You should be a good person because you want to be a good person – not because a higher power is judging you for your actions.

3) Is it really that impacting to see someone refrain from littering because of what you said? That gives you hope for humanity? Most people in her situation would just be embarrassed at being caught doing something bad. I don’t mean to be cynical, but you’re the ones who just jammed 20 minutes of ‘humanity is shit’ down our throats. Just because she gave a hoot and didn’t pollute doesn’t reverse really any of that.

Technically, she didn’t even really litter – she put her trash in a bicycle basket. Still a crappy thing to do, but still.

All in all, this episode was just alright. Its messages are not conveyed well, and the whole situation makes you root for nearly everyone to die. At the very least, I’m happy nothing happened to Izumi and the teenager client decided against using Hell Girl, but the whole story’s a mess when you can’t sympathize with anyone.

We’re not meant to sympathize with the target, that’s kinda the point, but I was rooting for Leon to die too. It’s not like Leon’s in love with Izumi either. He doesn’t even know her. He has a big crush on her and claims her as a possession. Even if he was in love with her, who cares? He’s a massive douchecanoe who burns dogs and beats people.

It’s an obnoxious episode to watch and, despite the glimmer of hope and the sweet ironic karma at the end, it made you feel like crap just for being human.

Rating: 6/10

Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 6 Episodes 9 and 10

Episode 9: Mud Games

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Plot: A mother picks up her daughter from daycare in a rain storm when she starts telling her a strange story of what happened when she was playing in the sand box.

Breakdown: Well, we’re back to incredibly sad again.

I didn’t see the twist of this one coming, and it did have one or two very unsettling moments, but the whole story is a bomb of sadness. I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s like they came up with the bare-bones plot and asked themselves ‘Hm, what’s the most depressing route we could take this story?’

It’s not a bad story by any means, in fact it’s very good, it’s just incredibly sad.

Episode 10: Tree of Innocence

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Plot: Twin boys, Satoshi and Takeshi, decide to climb a big tree. When Takeshi steps on a rickety tree branch and begs his brother for help, their mother arrives and pleads for them to come down….Well…one of them anyway.

Breakdown: This is so similar to episode 9 it’s weird. Starts off normally, leads into creepy, revelation that one of the characters is dead, leads to the death of the loved one of the initial person who died.

The only major differences are the situation and the absolute ending, and it somehow makes the entire situation even more tragic than episode 9.

When Satoshi tries to save Takeshi, his mother begs Satoshi to get out of the tree because Takeshi recently died from falling out of that same tree. Satoshi was lured into the tree by Takeshi’s restless spirit. He caused Satoshi to fall, and when he did, Takeshi took over his body and walked home with their mother.

Dying is one thing, but having your dead brother take your body and leave you as a spirit in a tree with no one mourning you because they believe you’re still alive is heartbreaking.

I have no clue why the comments were so lenient on this one when they weren’t on episode 9. Tons of people were saying ‘finally a good episode!’ when every other episode has been either mixed or littered with ‘this isn’t scary.’ This one’s even sadder, and, in my opinion, it’s less frightening. Ghost Takeshi is a little unsettling, but he’s a lot easier to watch than that scene with the toddler in the previous episode.