SSBS – Saint Seiya Episode 2

SSBS - Saint Seiya Episode 2

Plot: Seiya has arrived in Japan right as the Galactic Tournament is starting up. The Galactic Tournament is a series of matches between those who have earned Bronze cloths for the sake of winning one of the 12 Golden Cloths. Seiya has absolutely no interest in joining, however. His one goal in coming to Japan and the tournament arena was to deliver the Pegasus cloth to a man named Mitsumasa Kido, who ran the tournament.

Six years ago, Kido separated Seiya from his sister after their parents died. He shipped him off to Greece and told him he could only return and be reunited with his sister once he acquired the Pegasus cloth. Now that he has done so, he wants to see his sister.

Saori Kido, Mitsumasa’s granddaughter and current runner of the tournament gives him terrible news. Not only is her grandfather dead, but Seiya’s sister went missing from the orphanage almost immediately after Seiya was shipped off to Greece. Saori was never told where she was, if her grandfather had anything to do with her disappearance.

However, she is very keen on getting Seiya to participate in the tournament, so she offers to lend her resources and money to him to find his sister should he win the tournament. He’s still not interested, even after also being pressured by the owner of the Unicorn cloth, Jabu, who used to know him in the orphanage.

He goes to the orphanage, known as The Foundation, for clues and meets with his old friend, Miho, who is currently helping care for the children there. She tells him that she also doesn’t know where his sister might be, but suggests that he try to get her to find him by fighting in the tournament. It’s a massively publicized event, and he has a good chance of having his sister find him if he participates.

Seiya agrees, thanks Miho and goes to join the tournament.

His first match is against the owner of the Bear cloth, Geki. The Bear Saint has massive power in his arms, and he boasts about killing hundreds of bears with his bare hands, no pun intended. He tries to strangle Seiya to death, and it seems he has him down for the count until Seiya remembers what Marin once told him when he was a child.

When fighting someone more powerful than you, find the main source of their strength and attack it. Since Geki’s strength is in his arms, he starts crushing the armor on his arms with his hands. He breaks free and uses a flurry of kicks too fast for the human eye to catch to destroy Geki’s cloth and knock him out of the fight.

Seiya’s next match is against Jabu. Who will win a battle of the horses?

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We’re getting slightly rushed with this episode because not only do we get thrown into the tournament and see our first match, but we also have to acquaint ourselves with backstory and several new characters.

I love tournament fighters, so I’m not really complaining about the latter, though I will mark something down on that in a minute, I’m moreso complaining about the former.

Seiya’s backstory is pretty good, but I won’t deny that it feels very rushed here. I feel like we needed a full episode to develop this firmly instead of having it crammed into the first part of this episode. The inclusion of Miho felt particularly rushed, especially considering she’s obviously being set up as Seiya’s love interest.

The tournament half was good, and it was nice to see Seiya struggle during his first match instead of flippantly blow his first opponent away just to show what a badass he is, which he did a few times in the start of the episode, but the manner in which he would achieve victory was a little too obvious from the beginning.

What imbecile tells his opponent where his true power lies in the middle of a fight? That’s almost as bad as telling someone where your weakness is. The instant he said ‘My true power lies in these arms’ I facepalmed and said to myself ‘well, now he knows what to attack, you idiot.’ If you manage to take away someone’s source of power, they’re helpless. Hubris, Geki. Hubris.

Then we get an almost insulting scene where Seiya flashes back to his studies under Marin, where she shares the aforementioned lesson. Since Seiya’s a child in this flashback, I wasn’t bothered that it was included, but I could feel my blood pressure increasing when they flashed back to Geki saying his true power lied in his arms, then again when they repeat Marin’s lesson, then again when Geki repeats what he said, then they do it again, and again, and again – we get it! Most people would’ve figured it out on their own without a single flashback, but apparently the writers and editor think we’re so dense that we can’t piece together such simple strategy.

I also found it stupid that Geki has such massive strength in his arms, but instead of ripping Seiya apart or incapacitating him and beating or crushing him to death in a few blows, Geki gives Seiya ample time to come up with a strategy as he slowly strangles him. He’s not even really aiming to strangle him – he wants to build up enough strength, incredibly slowly, to snap Seiya’s neck, which is something people without bear strength can do in a matter of seconds but Geki wants to savor it I guess.

Seiya breaks Geki’s cloth, so…does that mean the Bear cloth no longer exists?

It was an entertaining match for a little bit, but then the rest of the match is a prolonged strangling session until Seiya is able to break free and give his badass finale move – this time in kick flavor.

Overall, I enjoyed this episode, but it has a bunch of logic issues and the pacing needs work.

Next episode, we meet the Swan Saint and the tournament continues.

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Exploring Disney’s Castle: Pinocchio (1940)

Rating: 7/10

Plot: A toymaker named Geppetto made a marionette named Pinocchio. Despite his awesome ‘stache, he couldn’t find a woman to mate with him and make him a child, so he wished Pinocchio was a real boy. His wish is granted by a fairy because fairies just do that, but she only brings the puppet to life. In order to become a real boy, Pinocchio has to prove himself to be a kind and moral young lad. However, he doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong so a kindly cricket named Jiminy gets assigned to be his conscience. Then a bunch of weird stuff happens.

Breakdown: While Pinocchio isn’t the closest nostalgic Disney feature in my heart, I do look back on it it fondly, and I remember getting the VHS for the movie way back when I was a wee lass. And, wow, unlike Snow White, I just could not refrain from nitpicking and seeing this movie with a more adult view.

Don’t get me wrong, I still really like this movie, and man I do loves me some of that painted Disney magic, but I was just picking apart the story and then realizing that the second half is one trippy confusing little ride. Not mention how many times I had to stop myself from thinking a scene was pedo-y….

Some things I can’t nitpick too much. I was going to say it’s dumb to send Pinocchio off to school when he’s only been a sentient pile of wood for less than 12 hours, but then I remembered that they seem to live in a weird world of anthropomorphic foxes and cats (even in a world with pet cats. It’s Pluto and Goofy all over again) so that’s not really an issue anymore. And seeing as how Pinocchio’s existence is also completely brushed off by fellow kids, I guess a puppet coming to life is just another day in Italy.

To get to the actual issues though, I’m confused about the fairy’s logic. She specifically says Geppetto deserves a son, but she doesn’t fully bring Pinocchio to life and instead makes him go through a trial of being a good person before he can actually be human. That’s okay I suppose, but then there’s the fact that he has no sense of what’s right or wrong and he’s naïve as all hell. So Jiminy is assigned to being his conscience, but dammit all if he doesn’t suck at it. He doesn’t really give any advice on what’s right or wrong to Pinocchio ever. He just points out that one person is bad without reason once.

Geppetto’s no help either because he doesn’t try to teach Pinocchio anything. He just answers every question with ‘because’ and sends the poor boy off to school not preparing him for how the kids may react or how anything in life works – like stranger danger.

Pinocchio gets into trouble because he really doesn’t know any better and then starts lying to the fairy for no real reason. The Pinocchio in this version has been shown as a very kindhearted yet extremely naïve individual, yet he somehow not only knows how lying works but he does it very naturally and without any actual prompt. Did he think the fairy would get mad if she heard about him getting kidnapped? Because that’s Jiminy’s fault, if anything.

I would say that’s a message of saying that, no matter what your conscience is telling you, it’s up to you to listen or not, which is also fine, but then I have to remember that Pinocchio has no real knowledge of anything in the world at all. Hell, he was setting himself on fire the night before because he liked how pretty the fire was.

He then gets caught by the same people without Jiminy even realizing it, you’d think he’d learn after that to keep a closer eye on the kid but no, and he gets tricked into going to ‘Pleasure Island’….see what I meant about the pedo-y stuff?

Here’s where Pinocchio pulls a complete 180 in character. I could brush off the whole thing about getting kidnapped and going off to join the marionette guy from before because he didn’t really know any better. But when he gets to Pleasure Island, he full on says that he likes being bad, so it seems that even without Jiminy he realizes that what he’s doing is wrong and is going ahead with it for whatever reason.

Oh yeah, let’s address the creepy and downright dark and confusing aspect of Pleasure Island. So a man kidnaps BOATLOADS of misbehaved boys who skip school and do no good. How no one in town has noticed that many kids going missing is beyond me. But considering that they all must be rotten boys, that must be a really awful part of town. Also, I love how it’s only misbehaved boys who are taken. All girls are innocent angels free of sin. ❤

Pleasure Island is a theme park, and I do not understand said theme park. You already kidnapped the kids – why the theme park? Just stick them in a cage or something. And wouldn’t that theme park, that inevitably gets destroyed each time the kids come, cost way more in construction, maintenance, operation and repairs than whatever you get for the kids? And this theme park is specifically designed for little brats since it has robot Indians chucking out cigars to the kids (Aw look, it’s Disney being racially insensitive to Native Americans before Pocahontas. Awww they were so precious.) kegs, and model houses specifically for the kids to destroy.

That’s not even the most baffling part about this theme park. It’s all just a front for a secret operation to turn the kids into donkeys.

Uh. Huh.

I mean, what? How did we go from an innocent story about a puppet coming to life by a fairy and having a bug being his conscience in hopes of someday becoming human to kids being turned into donkeys? I mean, come on Disney. Suspension of disbelief! Pft.

But yeah, the beer and the cigars were poisoned with….something, I dunno, that turned all of the boys into donkeys who would eventually be sold off to salt mines and farms to work until they die. Unless they were young enough to apparently retain their ability to talk because….I honestly have no clue what happened to those boys. Probably kept as a show attraction until they were too old to speak anymore and then sold off into child/donkey labor.

Not one of them were saved. Yeah, screw your happily ever after. Those little brats were never found and were probably forced to work to death. Kinda dark, there, Disney.

Lampwick might have escaped, but I don’t see how.

While this is trippy, dark and confusing, them repeating the stuff about being jackasses (and, yes, they actually say ‘jackass’) basically implies that this scene means if you’re a little brat as a kid, you’re damned to turn into a jackass for the rest of your life….I guess.

Then we get to the weirder stuff. Half-Donkey Pinocchio runs home to find that Geppetto is not there, and I can’t understand how long Pinocchio’s been gone. Last we see of Geppetto, it was the same day Pinocchio was supposed to go to school and he kept looking for him all over town. His first kidnapping took place over the course of a day before he tried to get home again, but I guess the second one took place over days, weeks or possibly months.

Geppetto’s gone and a glowing bird sends down a message to Pinocchio and Jiminy that Geppetto has been swallowed by a whale.

Ya know, typical Tuesday.

……He was swallowed by…..a whale. I can’t even understand how this happened. Geppetto wasn’t swallowed by any old whale – he was swallowed by a huge whale that is known for being particularly murderous and even swallows ships whole.

Apparently, Geppetto was out on his fishing boat when he got swallowed up. This is what confuses me about the timeline. They’re starving to death, act like they’ve been on that boat for quite some time and have little hope they’ll (they being Geppetto, Figaro and Cleo) survive in the next few days. But what was he even doing out on that boat? Like I said, last time we saw him he was looking for Pinocchio after he had gone missing after leaving for school. What was he doing on the boat then? Did he think he’d find Pinocchio out on the ocean? Or had he been missing for so long that he decided to go fishing to clear his mind over the loss of his puppet child?

Also, how could both Pinocchio and Jiminy breathe underwater? The prospect of drowning doesn’t even come up until they exit the whale. I would say this is because Pinocchio’s a puppet, but he seems to have regular bodily functions like in his reactions to the cigars. And his ‘death’ later can only be explained as drowning.

There’s also that thing about making a whale sneeze by setting a fire in its stomach which I don’t even sense make.

Bottomline: I have no idea why I was able to completely immerse myself in Snow White and just gloss over every seeming issue yet I was practically hung up on them in Pinocchio. This just got to be more trippy and dark than I remembered….and confusing, hence why three points got knocked off. But for the most part the movie does have good morals, decent characters and I can’t think of a point where I wasn’t really enjoying myself.

Recommended Audience: Well, the word ‘Jackass’ is said a few times, but I always thought it was stingy to say that’s a swear. It’s in the bible for crying out loud. Kids smoke and drink beer, but the message is obviously that those things are bad to do….and will turn you into a jackass. Plus there’s the downright frightening aspect of that whole Pleasure Island thing. But other than that, it’s perfectly fine. 5+

AVAHS – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Rankin/Bass)

Plot: Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose. And if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows. All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. They never—you’ve heard the song before. Don’t act like you haven’t.

Breakdown: I was on the fence about doing this review because, while I do watch this special every year like many people, it’s a time honored classic that’s just hard to review. So let’s look at this objectively and see what problems there are with this story.

Donner, one of Santa’s flying reindeer, is a new father to a fawn named Rudolph. However, he’s appalled when he discovers that his new son has a glowing red nose. And I mean absolutely appalled, like he’s the anti-christ or something. When introduced to Santa, he basically acts the same way. He even goes so far as to imply that Rudolph will never be a reindeer on his team because of his nose…..which I don’t understand at all. What does a glowing red nose have to do with pulling a sleigh? It may be a tad distracting, but no worse than a little red light on your dash from a GPS or a security system or something.

I will admit that the three-year-old-with-a-recorder sound effect that comes up when his nose glows is annoying, though.

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Too cute to stay angry about the noise.

As Rudolph gets a little older, Donner, still ashamed of his demon spawn, actually gets him a fake nose so he’ll be more socially acceptable. And, really, it only seems like Donner gives a crap about his son when his nose is covered up. This special made me really hate Donner. Dasher all the way, man!

The prosthetic nose seems to work as Rudolph is very accepted by the other reindeer. He manages to make a new friend in Fireball, who inexplicably has hair on his head (also, what a rip off to be named Rudolph when your friends have names like Fireball) and he catches the eye of a doe named Clarice.

They’re about to start reindeer training with Comet, but Rudolph chats up Clarice because he’s a baller.

After hitting it off with Clarice, he starts flying all over the place in gleeful excitement, which impresses Comet and Santa. But his fake nose falls off and everyone starts making fun of him. Comet tells them to stop it and continues on with the training, but he bans Rudolph from the training and says the familiar phrase of not letting Rudolph join in any reindeer games.

Even Santa’s a jerk here because he chastises Donner for lying and then says it’s a shame Rudolph still has that nose because he did a great job flying. I still don’t get it. Also, if his nose was covered successfully before, just get him a better fake nose if the glowing is such an issue. This is like someone getting rejected from a IT job because they have an eleventh toe.

Luckily, Clarice is a nice doe who sounds eons too old for Rudolph. She cheers him up through a song so angelic that she pulls a Disney Princess and gets the woodland creatures to sing too. And like a good Disney Princess, she also falls in love with Rudolph in the time frame of four minutes.

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He’s about to walk her home when her father arrives and forces her to go back to their cave, banning her from associating herself with a red-nosed reindeer.

Meanwhile, we have the plot with Hermey the elf, who is not happy being a toy making elf and wants to be a dentist. However, all elves are damned from birth to live a life slaving in a toy factory. Also, dentists don’t exist, I guess, which is weird because they’re in a world where you’d assume they live on a diet of candy and cookies.

He gets fired from his job and meets up with Rudolph, accepting him for who he is because he’s a fellow misfit. After an ear-worm song break, the two go off on an adventure.

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After surviving the first night in the frozen tundra, they meet Yukon Cornelius, an eccentric mountaineer and prospector who travels by sled dog and hunts for silver and gold. He also likes to lick his pickaxe…..he can taste minerals or ore….I don’t….he licks his pickaxe is all you really need to know.

Throughout the movie, there’s been one thing we’ve been warned of in regards to a threat – The Abominable Snowmonster of the North, Bumble. A monster who scared the hell out of me as a kid and still kinda does. The design of the thing is offputting enough, but the first time you see him, all you see are his legs and feet, which are immensely larger than Donner and Rudolph. But really the thing that gets me about him is his voice. Or should I say his ear-piercing screech? You expect monsters to roar, but this thing has a shrill yell so loud I think this movie should be re-edited with warnings in place for headphone users.

Bumble is following Rudolph’s nose light, which results in them reaching a dead end in the ice. Yukon saves them by chipping off the part of the ice they’re on, which allows them to escape since Bumble can’t swim.

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Please make this go away.

And hey, let’s have some good ol’ fashioned 1960’s sexism!

Narrator: “You can bet that Donner felt pretty bad about how he had treated Rudolph, and he knew that the only thing left to do was to go out and look for his little buck. Mrs. Donner wanted to go along, naturally. But Donner said ‘NO! This is man’s work!’” No worries, though, because Mrs. Donner and Clarice go off on their own anyway because they don’t need no man.

Floating on the ice, Rudolph, Hermey and Yukon crash into the island of misfit toys, which is self-explanatory. I don’t really understand why some of these toys are outcasts, though. The first toy we meet is a Jack-in-the-box who no one wants because his name is Charlie…..Uh, dude, just change your name. It’s not like it’s written on you….just call yourself Jack. I get that it’s not about changing yourself to suit societal norms, but it’s a name – something that was given to you and something that is easily changeable…

Then we have matryoshka doll whose final doll is a wind-up mouse, which I guess makes sense.

A pink polka dotted stuffed elephant which makes a little sense, but since when do kids complain about not getting color accurate to real life version stuffed animals?

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A doll, which looks normal, a toy airplane, which looks normal, a teddy bear, which looks normal – just a lot of toys which look normal. There’s a toy train with square wheels, which must be the fault of a drunk elf because that’s ridiculous, and a toy gun that squirts jelly……….uhhh…..empty the jelly and fill yourself up with water….it’s not that hard….there’s water right there.

There’s also a bird that doesn’t fly and instead swims…..that’s called a penguin, just in case you’re wondering. A cowboy riding an ostrich, which, come on, that’s awesome. What kid wouldn’t want that?

We also have a boat that can’t stay afloat……alright, I concede on that one.

Rudolph asks if they can stay on the island since they’re misfits too and Charlie tells them to ask King Moonracer, who not only has a kickass name, but he’s also a damn winged lion with his own castle.

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I need a Moonracer doll right now.

They ask if they can stay on the island, but Moonracer refuses, stating that living beings, unlike toys, cannot hide themselves away on an island. Don’t worry, Yukon points out the irony that Hermey and Rudolph can’t even belong with other misfits. Moonracer asks them for a favor to help the misfits toys. Since they live in Christmas Town, Moonracer asks them if they’ll tell Santa about this island to help find good homes for the misfit toys. They agree and Moonracer gives them a place to sleep for the night.

Afraid that he’ll put his friends in danger with his nose calling Bumble, Rudolph leaves in the middle of the night and floats off on his own. He spends months on the run from Bumble, and no matter who he meets, he still gets treated like a freak. He grows into a full grown buck and decides to return to Christmas Town to face his problems head on. The other bucks are still jackasses, and when Rudolph returns home, he finds that his mother, father and Clarice have been gone searching for him the whole time he’s been gone.

Santa says he’ll never be able to fly without Donner, and with Christmas days away, it’s a real emergency……uh….Donner’s been gone for months and you’ve clearly been training other reindeer. Why not use one of them?

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Just then, a massive snow storm hits, which also threatens Christmas. Rudolph has to brave the storm to find his parents and Clarice, but luckily he knows exactly where to look – the cave of the abominable snowmonster. And luckily he knows exactly where that is. And luckily they do just so happen to be there. And luckily, despite being held hostage by Bumble for god knows how long, he has yet to kill them.

Rudolph and Bumble start an epic battle and Rudolph gets beaten to death with a stalactite. What’s that?…..He lives? No, no, that’s not a livable event……Really?….Whatever.

Luckily, Hermey and Yukon have been looking for Rudolph since he left and, luckily, they just happen to decide to go back to Christmas Town right when Rudolph went, and, luckily, they learned where Rudolph was going and got there quickly. Plot convenience is hella fun.

Yukon knocks Bumble out with a rock and Hermey pulls out all of his teeth (!!!), rendering him harmless. But I guess that’s not enough because Yukon also knocks him off a cliff, taking him with him.

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I feel like I’m watching a serial killer origin story.

Rudolph and the others return home where the worry over their safety has made the citizens of Christmas Town all realize what jerks they were. Santa and Donner apologize to Rudolph, Santa promises to find homes for all of the misfit toys and Hermey’s boss apologizes to him, telling him he can open a dentist office next week after Christmas is over…without proper schooling or a license. Let me remind everyone that earlier he was performing dental work on a doll by tapping her teeth with a hammer.

Yukon reveals that he not only survived, but so did Bumble, who is now inexplicably reformed and wants a job in Christmas town. How did Yukon survive? Because Bumbles bounce…..Hmm…..rant about physics or biology? Decisions, decisions.

Business as usual at Christmas Town until the song’s plot continues. There’s a terrible storm and Santa can’t navigate in such terrible conditions, so Christmas is canceled.

But then…..one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say ‘Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?’ Then the FiddleTwix complained, because that’s not how it works. The weather conditions have been changed from fog to one of the worst blizzards in history. A dinky red light is not going to help you much. Not only is red probably the worst color to use for a navigation light, but it certainly won’t help combat the winds and snow. Even if it was fog, the light would just reflect off of it. That’s why you don’t use your high beams in fog…Why hasn’t Santa ever thought to add headlights to his sleigh anyway? It’s 1964. At least have a lantern or something. I’ll shut up now.

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And then all of the other reindeer mocked Rudolph for his pink harness and Rudolph flew them into a mountainside.

Donner: “I knew that nose would be useful someday. I knew it all along.” Shut up, Donner. No one likes you.

I guess that leads us to one of the more prominent issues with the message here. The movie actually fixes the message problem that the song has. In the song, you’re lead to believe that Rudolph only gained social acceptance because his shiny red nose was useful to Santa, meaning you’ll be treated as an outcast if whatever deformity or issue you have doesn’t contribute to society. Here, though, the other reindeer, Santa and Donner all feel remorse and accept Rudolph before this ever happens. While he does gain higher social status because of it, he doesn’t gain acceptance because, hey, we can actually use laser face over there to further our needs.

I’d still say Donner is adhering to this because while he seems accepting of Rudolph before, he really only seems proud of him after he saves Christmas……also, why is Donner being left behind? Rudolph’s at the front on his own. Donner should still be in the pack.

I think we should be more concerned about the message Mrs. Claus is giving. Her one role over this whole movie is obsessing over fattening Santa up because kids expect a fat Santa….even though….ya know….they shouldn’t be seeing him at all. She actually seems to force feed him from skinny to about 200 pounds heavier in the course of a day. Merry Christmas, kid! I got you a Santa dying from a heart attack under your tree! After Santa wakes from his coma, he’ll enjoy his gift of an eternity of body image issues!

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I would complain more about this, but I’m actually more distracted by the background. Why did they put up the alphabet with a bunch of random arrows?

Santa goes to the island of misfit toys and rescues them all. How Santa knows what kid would like what deformed toy, I don’t know. Also, the bird who couldn’t fly gets murdered because the elf sending off the packages pushes him out of the sleigh without giving him the umbrella. Did you not listen to the song, elf?!

What else is there to say about this special besides stop motion is creepy?……Sorry, I couldn’t stop myself anymore. I love those old Rankin/Bass specials too, but it doesn’t change the fact that I still find stop-motion, especially old stop-motion, to be incredibly creepy. Not as bad as claymation, but still creepy.

It’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It’s a heartwarmer for people of all ages. It has its oddities, and a terrifying snowmonster and logic problems up the wazoo, but it’s still fun, endearing, has some nice music both original and songs by Burl Ives, and it’s a staple for any household around Christmas. If, somehow, you’ve never seen it before, give it a watch. Maybe you can make it a Christmas tradition too.

Then all the reindeer loved him, and they shouted out with glee.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you’ll down in history!

Episode One-derland: Mister Ajikko

Plot: Youichi has a great passion for cooking, and is the beloved chef at his mother’s diner. The emperor of the culinary world, Aijou, visits his restaurant with his secretary, Tareme. Youichi had a previous bad run-in with Tareme before and he scoffs at the idea that this child can create any food worthy or Aijou’s palette or any good food period.

Youichi, known as ‘Ajikko’ or ‘child who makes good food’, accepts the challenge of making a good tasting dish for Aijou, even without knowing who he really is. As a testament to his faith in his craft, he puts up the restaurant’s sign as a wager if he loses, subsequently also putting the restaurant’s honor at stake. He makes Aijou his newest dish, a super thick Katsudon.

Though Aijou and Tareme both think this is impossible to make since either of the traditional cooking styles results in either undercooking or burning the meat, Youichi manages to make a delicious and properly cooked super thick katsudon, much to the delight of Aijou who leaves him with his business card and invites him to the Aijou building, a place filled with culinary knowledge and techniques and where only the best chefs are invited.

Breakdown: Ah, yet another ‘Child prodigy’ story. And really that’s pretty much all this is so far. Apparently this series was so influential that it inspired the creation of Iron Chef and helped spawn the whole competitive cooking craze, but this episode is pretty cut and dry ‘kid is insanely awesome at (enter topic here)’

Aijou is a pretty good character. He comes off as extremely abrasive and strict at first, but he’s also very fair, gives credit for anything he likes about a chef’s technique or abilities, fully recognizes and encourages talent that he sees and respects anyone with a true passion for cooking—Holy shit, it’s Gordon Ramsey’s Japanese fictional grandpa.

Tareme is annoying, but then again he’s meant to be.

Youichi is very much typical at this point. He has a great love of cooking, and obtained his skills my imitating his father, a great chef who passed away at some point. He also seems to have plenty of imagination in his cooking and has a great pride in anything he makes. Interesting, despite being honored by Aijou’s invitation, he doesn’t seem to be compelled to leave his family diner and try to be ‘the best (enter profession here)’ like many other child prodigy stories. He’s perfectly fine cooking what he likes to cook at his mother’s restaurant.

However, in the next episode he goes to Aijou’s place anyway so how much of that sticks, I don’t know.

This episode does a pretty good job at laying the ground work for our characters and setting up the bare bones of the plot. Even moderate side characters like Mitsuko, seeming romantic interest, and Shigeru, Mitsuko’s annoying little brother.

The art is a classic style, which I adore, and the animation is surprisingly pretty darn good for such an old title. The music is also very catchy, though slightly stuck in the 80s.

All in all,

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If you have a passion for cooking or just appreciate watching someone explore their own passions, this seems like a pretty good watch so far. Be warned, though, that this show debuted in 1987 so if you’re not into older titles you may be a bit put off by this. It really shouldn’t be a deciding factor, though.

At 99 episodes, I may end up reviewing this one episode by episode. We’ll see.

Recommended Audience: Nothing questionable. E for everyone!

Exploring Disney’s Castle: Snow White (1937)

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Rating: 9/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Episode One-Derland – Mado King Granzort

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Verdict:

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

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

They Were 11 Review

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Rating: 6.5/10

Plot: Several hundred years in the future, earth has ventured out into the reaches of space and successfully colonized. In the meantime, earthlings have met with beings from many other planets and star systems, and after time they have reached an age of widespread peace amongst all species. Out in space is a prestigious academy called Cosmo Academy, and those few who are able to pass their final tests will be guaranteed positions of power in basically any field that they choose. Graduating from this place is viewed as one of the highest honors and achievements. Tada has made it to the final exam, which consists of being teamed with nine other individuals and left on a ship, completely on their own, for 60 days. If one person fails in their duties on board, they all fail. If they call for help, they all fail.

However, there’s one problem. Their team was supposed to consist of ten people, yet there are eleven people when they arrive. Someone’s not meant to be on the ship. At best, they’re a stowaway mooching a free ride or trying to sneak into the test. At worst, they mean to do great harm to the students. Can they survive until the exam ends?

Breakdown:

Warning – All sorts of spoilers

Another feature I caught onto from reading THEM anime reviews, and they didn’t really like it, even in spite of the three star rating. In fact, they said it’d probably be good MST3K material. Well, ouch.

However, as I was watching it, I thought it was perfectly fine. Definitely not without its flaws, mostly in the plot holes, but it wasn’t bad in my opinion, nor was it laughably bad.

The premise is really interesting to me. While not the most original story in the world, they do manage to do some interesting things with it. The characters, barring one, are all pretty likable and even the ones who get on your nerves really only do so with understandable circumstances. They redeem themselves several times so that’s not much to gripe about.

While I’m talking about the characters, let’s go through them.

Toto Ni – I’ll be starting out with the least seen/least important characters. Obviously in an hour and a half long movie, eleven characters are difficult to flesh out. Not to say they didn’t all have their moments, but some we learn little to nothing about. Toto ni seems to be the youngest of the group. An alien from the Sava group, the best I can figure from the prologue is that he wants to learn about plant life. Toto ni is a wimpy little kid who doesn’t say or do much. In fact, I was pretty much wondering how he got so far into the test to begin with.

Chaco Kacka – A Terran (basically their new fancy name for ‘earthling’) Chaco…exists. He gets more screen time than Toto ni, but he has no real personality. He apparently starts a small trading company….Dunno why you’d go to such lengths for a small trading company but whatever.

Dolph Tasta – Another Terran, Dolph is….something else. He’s our resident doofy looking fat guy with an equally doofy voice (by Steve Blum, yay!) And I swear to god, if Chumlee from YGOGX had an ancestor in the distant future, Dolph would be it. They look so much alike, barring the hair, it’s scary. And oh yeah, he has a big red nose…..and his name is DOLPH…..and his nickname is literally ‘red nose’…..Uh huh. He wants to be a judge of the interstellar court.

Vidmenir Knume – From a non-aligned nation called Vidnu, Knu, as he’s called, is one of the only aliens here who actually looks like a damned alien. He’s a scaly very tall….human-like creature. I take what I can get. Knu is always extremely calm, and is commonly the voice of reason in the group. He also seems very knowledgeable on several subjects. Knu apparently went on to be a poet……a poet….you went through all this to be a poet. Not really too surprised, but come on. When you’re guaranteed basically any job you want by passing this insanely long and difficult test, why aspire to be a poet?

Ganigus Gagtos – Nicknamed Ganga, where he is from is never explained, but he’s definitely not from earth. On his planet, a terrible disease plagues basically every person, and no one has an expected life span past the age of 30 because of it. He’s an experimental subject in that his blood was replaced with some kind of algae that is meant to combat this disease. Ganga is a very mature, smart and responsible person who is one of Tada’s loyalest allies. He’s taking the test in order to gain the knowledge and resources to rid his people of this disease forever.

Doricas Soldam IV – Another alien who looks exactly like a damn human, except his weird orange and blue jumpsuit, Doricas is one of the irritating ones in that he is constantly pointing fingers accusing people of being ‘the eleventh’, insulting people and just being unpleasant. He doesn’t tend to let his irritating behavior and attitude get in the way of their jobs, but he does get pretty grating. He aspires to be an administrator of his planet.

Amazon Carnias – Another Terran, though where on earth he’s from I don’t know. Would it be too obvious to think it’s the Amazon? He’s from some place where hunting is a huge part of their lives, and has numerous scars covering his body from fierce hunting trips. He’s not very mature and tends to goof off a lot, but he’s also one of the group who seems to fly off the handle with accusations very quickly. Despite this, he can keep a level head when needed and seems very skilled. He ends up becoming a….musician? Seriously? Didn’t he say earlier that he wanted to be a space engineer? How’d he go from that to musician? I know he showed he loved music, but he specifically stated that his goal was space engineering.

King Mayan Baceska – Mayan is simply taking the test as a challenge since he’s already the king of a nation/planet. As such, he’s pretty much immediately set as the leader of the group. Mayan does carry himself like a king. He’s very refined and logical, and he tries to make decisions for the better of the group as a whole and not just himself. While he is the most suspicious one of the group, he tries not to point fingers and instead backs his suspicions with evidence. He also doesn’t work as a dictatorship. He utilizes voting and respects the opinions of all of the other group members. Despite this, he can still fly off the handle and act irrationally.

Glenn Groff – The only other semi-alien-looking alien here, Glenn’s basically human looking barring the bump on his head and red pupils. Glenn’s a very respectful and kind individual who does his best to help. You know how I mentioned there was an epilogue? Well it’s one of those epilogues that shows still frames of the characters followed but a short excerpt of what happened to them after the movie.

Glenn died. Yeah, he died while trying to protect one of his students during training. Thanks movie. He was a really likable character to just kill off for no reason. What is this? Stand by Me?

Frolbericheri Frol – Oh dear God….I watched this movie for ten minutes and thought ‘well, this actually seems like a good movie. What are the complaints about?’ and then she opened her mouth. My god, what a grating sack of crap. From the second she’s on screen, she’s yelling and screaming and getting into fights. Granted, she has a bit of a reason. She looks exactly like a girl (I’ll get to that in a minute) and the group is flabbergasted when they discover a WOMAN on board.

Let me put this into perspective. When Knu, scaly giant, took off his helmet and revealed his face, the group was slightly taken aback. When Glenn, bumpy headed demon eyes, did the same, they also were slightly perturbed. Frol takes off her helmet and they all audibly GASP and look like she just ate her own face. How is it that this takes place in a universe where basically galaxy-wide peace and acceptance has been established yet sexism is still alive and well? Hell, it seems like it’s gotten much worse.

From her outburst at their assumptions, I just thought that she didn’t like being treated like a woman, especially in a group of guys, but much later on we’re under the impression that her outburst of being insulted at being called a woman insinuated that she wasn’t one, and that she was just a really feminine guy and has been treated as such the whole time. I don’t recall them ever addressing her as ‘he’ so it threw me for a loop when the big reveal comes later on.

The big reveal in question is when she goes to take a shower. That’s when we see that she’s completely flatchested and has the physique of a guy, basically. The fact that Amazon doesn’t react to her taking off her shirt is what first indicated that she was being treated as a he. Later, when an incident occurs in the shower, Amazon sees her full-frontal and realizes that her basement has neither a box nor a joystick.

Frol has no genitalia, and she’s I guess a reverse hermaphrodite…Right? Hermaphrodites have both male and female genitals so having neither would be a reverse? On her planet, everyone’s born as a hermaphrodite, but treated as a girl. When a person reaches adulthood, they are given hormone injections to allow them to become either a man or woman. Under government law, only first borns have the choice of becoming male or female. Everyone else is forced to become a woman. Because of this, females greatly outnumber males, but men basically have it made. They have the freedom to do whatever they want, and due to the greatly uneven ratio of men to women, they commonly practice polygamy.

Women are basically forced to be housewives and pop out children. Frol made an agreement with her government. If she passes the test at Cosmo Academy, she can become a man and live a cushy misogynist life bangin’ all the chicks. If not, she has to become a woman. A prospect so awful she cries about it several times. Eek.

Frol may have the most fleshed out story, even in deep competition to our actual main character, but she’s so unlikable and annoying. She has a Southern accent, however the hell that works considering she’s from another damn planet, and all she does is complain and yell and scream and bitch and moan and act pushy and urhghghgh.

Wanna know something else? She’s voiced by Wendee Lee. Yeah, one of the few female VA’s with a huge range from guy to girl and an equally large range between great and grating, provides the super annoying hick voice of this chick. You make me sad.

What’s even worse is how her story ends. She contracts an illness which forces the crew to call for a rescue, which is grounds for failure. She’s devastated because she can’t wait three years for the next test before she’ll be forced to become a girl and Tada offers to have her come to his planet, as a woman, and marry him, another thing I’ll get to in a minute. Their romance has been a bit forced, mostly because Tada seems awkward when he’s in romantic or flirty situations, Frol is too annoying to root for and their chemistry is kinda off, but whatever. However, we reveal later on that because they made such good decisions during their test and made the right decision in saving Frol, they actually come out first in their class and pass with flying colors.

So yay she gets to be a guy now and live a good life, right? Nope, she decides to be a woman and live as a housewife with Tada. Yeah, she despised and feared the thought of being a woman and a housewife so much that she went though all of these trials, tribulations and red tape to get the chance at being made into a man and cried over the fear of possibly not getting her wish yet in the end she chooses to be a woman and a housewife because pbbbbttt love? Why can’t she be a man and marry Tada? If this truly is a universe of peace and acceptance, I can’t see how they’d have an issue with a gay couple. Isn’t she committing a bigger sin by being the bane of all galazy-wide existence IE a woman?

They don’t even say she does anything else in the epilogue. She and Tada graduated and got married was their little excerpt. Great use of that Cosmo Academy degree or whatever it is.

Tadatos Lane – Tada is our main character. He’s an empath who slowly starts learning things about his past while on the ship. I don’t understand how he can be as insanely smart as he is and have such a good ‘intuition’ yet he doesn’t remember incredibly scarring and impacting moments from when he was four.

Tada’s very likable, but he’s pretty bland. They don’t really explain what he wants to do once he passes his test. He just wants to achieve the high honor and score a great job. They don’t even explain what he did after the events of the movie besides marry Frol.

His backstory is pretty interesting, but like I said it’s a little confusing that he’s so smart and intuitive yet he can’t remember very important events from when he was four. Including his mother dying before his eyes. I get that four is a very young age, but some people can remember stuff from when they were as young as two. I can kinda remember some stuff from four years old. Why does he seem to suffer from amnesia about this?

Now that the characters are out of the way, let’s address the plot holes and issues with the script.

They specifically state that Tada just has ‘a very good intuition’ and isn’t psychic, yet mere seconds later he’s touching palms to get a clear ‘reading’ on whether on not people are lying and it’s solidified that his talents are indeed ESP.

Why were all those bombs on the ship? I find it hard to believe that all of those bombs were put there by the instructors.

Why did Tada turn down the cooler thing if he wasn’t influenced or ‘the eleventh?

What was the purpose of influencing Tada to turn the circuit back on if not to injure Ganga?

Why is Ganga not punished for sneaking on board the ship? How does sneaking on board even help him in regards to the test? Surely they’d find out what he did and disqualify him.

And probably the biggest plot hole….How was Glenn the eleventh if Ganga ADMITTED he was the eleventh? Both of them weren’t meant to be there, and Glenn was purposely planted to throw the count off to create a situation to test the team. Wouldn’t that mean that there should’ve been twelve people in that team? Why were they even asking ‘but who was the eleventh?’ at the rescue ship when, like I said, Ganga admitted it earlier? Granted, I never would’ve guessed that either Ganga or Glenn were the eleventh. Well, maybe Ganga a little because of the fact that he kept getting injured and making Tada look guilty, but not Glenn. He was just relevant enough to be a valid surprise yet kept hidden enough to not be obvious. Still, the reveal kinda doesn’t work when you already had an eleventh established.

Art: The art and animation aren’t great, but they’re perfectly fine for the year. There’s much worse that has come out of 1986. The character designs are decent enough even if Chaco, Dolph and Tada have dumb hair styles and some of the color choices are kinda weird.

Music: The music’s forgettable, but pretty nice.

Voice Acting: English dub by the now defunct Central Park Media – The acting on some of the characters such as Tada, voiced by Curtis Jones are a little hokey. Hell, even Steve Blum himself delivers some lame dialogue. I can’t really fault him on those few lines though. Not even his dulcet vocal cords could save some of these lines.

Speaking of Mr. Blum, he actually voices three characters here; Dolph, Amazon and Mayan, and he exercises quite a bit of range here. However, it should be noted that he uses a different pseudonym for each credit. He’s credited as David Lucas for Mayan, Steven Jay for Dolph and David Jeremy for Amazon. Hell, David Jeremy isn’t even listed on his Wiki as one of his pseudonyms. Steve Jay is the biggest clue as his full name is Steven Jay Blum, but why use that credit on Dolph when the best work in this feature was as Mayan?

Other than Frol, everyone else was decent.

Additional Information and Notes: They were 11 was produced by Kitty Film. It was directed by Satoshi Dezaki and Tsuneo Tobinaga. The film was based on a manga by Moto Hagio.

Runtime: 91 minutes

Year: 1986

Bottomline: Yes, there are glaring plotholes and inconsistencies with the story. Yes, it’s very dated. Yes, some of the epilogue entries are just dumb. However, I don’t find it bad at all. The situations are tense, the characters can be fun when they have time to relax, and you do care for most of them even if you don’t learn a great deal about some of them. The premise is pretty interesting and they do bring enough to the table in terms of twists and other parts of the story such as Tada’s connection to the ship to spice things up a bit more. You could probably make a riff on this, but it would never be my first choice of MST3K material. It’s just not that bad and there is so much worse out there. I’d gladly watch it again, and anyone who’s up for that warm old animation style, some interesting situations and maybe some cheesiness, I’d gladly recommend it. It’s not perfect, but I had fun.

Recommended Audience: No blood, some incredibly minor violence, no nudity, no sex, hell they’re even too shy to talk about genitalia in the proper terms. E for everyone.