Animating Halloween: Monster House Review

Rating: 8/10

Plot: DJ is obsessed with watching the house of his scary next-door neighbor, Mr. Nebbercracker. He goes insane with rage at everyone who dares set one foot on his yard or get anywhere near his house. When DJ accidentally ‘kills’ Mr. Nebbercracker, he believes his spirit went on to haunt his house, nabbing up anyone who gets near. DJ, his best friend, Chowder and a local girl named Jenny team up to stop the house, but the situation is far more complicated than they ever anticipated.

Breakdown: Making horror movies for kids is a tricky area. You can’t put in anything ‘too scary’ or else the parents will get up in arms. You can’t tone it down too much or else the movie will be boring, even for kids.

Gentle middlegrounds are hard to find, and this one hits the mark quite well.

I watch Monster House every year on Halloween, but it’s one of those movies that I mostly forget unless it’s the Halloween season. Sometimes, I even forget it until I randomly see it on TV for Halloween.

It was strange to me because I always enjoy this movie whenever I watch it, and it wasn’t until I watched it for the review that I realized why I probably let it slip my mind whenever it’s not Halloween – this movie has very irritating characters.

Granted, they are ‘realistic’ tweenagers, teenagers and adults, but there’s no one in this movie that’s even slightly likable until the last 15 minutes or so.

Let’s go down the line –

DJ is one of those kids who wants desperately to be treated as a mature adult, but still does a lot of immature things. He’s obsessed with Mr. Nebbercracker because of his harsh behavior and the creepy urban legend that he killed his wife and ate her. DJ is probably the least annoying, but that’s not saying much.

His parents, while only getting brief screentime, also don’t get a good light shed on them. They’re mostly harmless, but then we see that his father refuses to show DJ any affection, fighting his wife against telling him he loves him before he leaves on a trip or giving him a hug goodbye. Then we get a completely serious implication that his mother wouldn’t care if she accidentally killed him.

She believes she backed into DJ with the car and his father fully implies she wouldn’t care if it was.

Then we have Chowder, who is just obnoxious. He’s the typical comic relief immature best friend. Almost all of his scenes involve him being incredibly annoying in some way.

For good measure, we have Jenny or the obligatory love interest who is literally thrown into the story. She doesn’t even live in their neighborhood nor had the two boys met her before the story began. She’s an alright character, but not only is she clearly just meant to be a love interest for the boys (though obviously meant for DJ because since when does the sidekick get the girl?) she says stuff like ‘are you mentally challenged?…Because, if you are, I’m certified to teach you baseball!’ to them upon first meeting.

There’s Zee, who is the bitchy punk rocker babysitter who loves to torment DJ.

Then we have her boyfriend, Bones, who’s even more of a prick than she is. During his screentime, he does such charming things as getting drunk, ripping apart DJ’s stuffed bunny rabbit and getting pissy that Zee doesn’t want to fool around with him.

Following them, we have Skull, a local gamer who is about as typical as any depiction of a gamer since The Wizard. He’s obsessed with video games, is a complete jerk and is so into his games that he can play them without looking and talks smack to them.

After that, there’s the police. There’s the veteran cop who laughs at the kids claims of there being something wrong with the house, but eventually tries to arrest them for minor offenses toward a vacant house.

Then there’s his partner, a rookie cop who is one of those types who gets way too into it and is fully drunk on the power before he even gets his feet wet. It’s scary how he treats these kids, too. He’s gleefully happy to take them in, taunts them as if they’re adult criminals and will swing his gun around like it’s not even there.

The only characters left to address are Mr. Nebbercracker and his wife. Mr. Nebbercracker is meant to be a scary, mean old man, but in the last 20 minutes or so, you realize he wasn’t being this way to be a jerk. He was actually trying to protect everyone.

His wife was a bitch who only had a soft spot for him, but it’s understandable that she is so defensive given her backstory.

I won’t go any further to avoid spoilers, even though this movie is old enough to warrant them. I think the twist is a good chunk of the fun.

I will ask a couple of spoiler-y questions, though. Be warned until the list is over.

1 – Constance fell into the cement for the foundation……and…..Horace just built…over her? Why didn’t he dig her out? Why would he ever feel comfortable building a house on his wife’s remains?

2 – Considering how thin the cement was over Constance’s remains, I feel like that wouldn’t have even been enough to kill her. Certainly Horace should have been able to save her.

3 – The house was haunted by her spirit since her corpse was in the foundation, yet when the house actually uprooted itself and started traveling all over town, the spirit didn’t leave it. If it was detached from the foundation, I don’t really see why the house itself was still haunted.

4 – This is from earlier in the movie, but if you had a guy who was clearly not dead and was only suffering from a heart attack or something, why would you treat the guy like a corpse? They don’t give him medical attention or anything. The plop him on a gurney, don’t even put him in a body bag or cover him up, and let his arm dangle and drag the ground. Even if they thought he was dead, you don’t treat patients like that.

Outside of that, this is still a great horror movie for all ages. The scares are effective for kids and adults alike, and some of the visuals are wonderfully done.

The backstory was well-written, and I was legitimately happy for everyone in the end. I only wish they all, barring Nebbercracker for obvious reasons, could’ve been more likable from the start so I could really get emotionally invested.

The art and animation is where some people falter on this movie, and I can see why. It’s a strange amalgamation of motion capture and clay-like CGI animation. The heads are super big, the hair doesn’t move at all, and some of the movements are surreal when coupled with the animation. The movements of the arms and bodies will be fine, but then the heads will just seem strange.

The music was also nice. Even though nothing stood out as being fantastic, it was a very fitting soundtrack that melded well with the ambiance.

Monster House has been getting very positive reviews every since its release….but check out the reviews on Common Sense Media. Remember how I said horror movies for kids might get parents up in arms? These reviewers have their parental arms fully up.

They bitch about the littlest things like one character saying ‘I stole drugs for you!’ when the ‘drugs’ were bottles of cold medicine…meant to knock out a sentient house, or saying ‘kiss my butt’ or ‘moron.’ All of these reviews amount to a one-star rating.

One reviewer said this movie scared their two-year-old kid…..THEIR TWO-YEAR-OLD KID.

You let your two-friggin’-year-old kid watch a horror movie – I don’t give a crap if it’s meant for kids, it’s still a damn horror movie. And it’s rated PG, meaning it’s already meant for an older audience than friggin’ two-year-olds.

The icing on the cake – they complained about the fact that there was a creepy monster house that eats people………IT’S…..THE….ENTIRE….TITLE….OF….THE…..MOVIE.

MONSTER. HOUSE. It could not be clearer if they called it ‘Scary Goddamn Morphing Monster House That Eats People and Also a Movie Your Two-Year-Old Probably Shouldn’t Watch.’ I bet your two-year-old can read better than you.

Anyhoo, it borderlines between PG and PG-13. I agree it probably could’ve garnered a PG-13 rating, but, honestly, PG also suits it just fine. Just talk to your kids about the questionable stuff, if necessary, and if they aren’t ready for horror movies, don’t let them watch it….hence the Parental Guidance suggested thing.

I believe people of all ages will get enjoyment out of this movie, especially around Halloween considering it’s both a great animated horror movie and it’s set around Halloween. I do applaud it for having realistic characters, but I just wish they had been more likable.

Also, just for the sake of the people on Common Sense Media, yes, people get gobbled up, but the ending assures us that they all lived. Dumbass Bones even got to keep his stupid kite.

Recommended Audience: I already basically went over this, but I’d say 10+

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Amnesia OVA Review

Rating: 7/10

Plot: In an unspecified reality, the employees of Meido no Hitsuji try to keep up with the competition of a local cafe by spending the week coming up with various fairs, shows and hooks to bring in customers.

Breakdown: This is one of the those OVAs meant for nothing but a little splash of post-anime humor, and it works pretty well. It’s a short one episode OVA, but it was still fun. It was nice to see the whole cast get to play off of each other for a change. They didn’t get to do that much in the anime. They have good chemistry with each other, which makes this somewhat sad because the entire time I was thinking we could’ve had more moments and fun like this in the actual series.

Ukyo even gets a fairly big part despite the fact that he’s just a regular customer and not an employee. It was nice to see him happier for a change.

The gags are fairly funny, especially when Kent tries to be a waiter and when they put on the Gentlemen of Justice show, which was basically a nod to Super Sentai complete with their respective colors and card suits playing a part.

Heroine’s role was very small THANK GOD, so that made it much more pleasant to watch too. It’s not clear what world she’s in because all of the guys seem to have a thing for her, and they all appear to realize this about the others as well because they work together to play a prank on Ukyo for getting closer to Heroine. It seems like, because of the scene at the ending, that it may be Shin’s world, the heart arc, but the guys are acting too differently and him calling her an idiot isn’t proof that he’s her boyfriend here……and I cannot believe I seriously said that.

It’s possible she’s in a different reality where she’s not dating anyone, but that doesn’t fit the anime. It’s definitely not her reality because she still has no memories.

The ending theme was different, which was to reflect the different tone. It was a nice enough song.

Bottomline: This was a short yet fun OVA that lets all of the boys shine together and have some fun which was really tragically missing from the anime.

Recommended Audience: Nothing objectionable. E for everyone.

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons): We Bare Bears

Plot: Three brothers, a grizzly bear, a panda bear and a polar bear, try to meld into modern human society.

Breakdown: This series makes me smile.

This is another one of those shows that I’ve caught in passing, and every time I’ve watched it I’ve been thoroughly entertained. The characters are charming (especially Ice Bear), the humor’s both low-key and energetic and it’s just a fun time in every episode. It’s the type of show that you can watch when you just want to sit back, relax and have some laughs.

For this Episode One-Derland, I watched both the pilot episode and the official first episode. Both were very funny and properly met all of the criteria of a first episode. The characters are firmly established early on with dialogue and situations that allows their personalities to shine through without being in-your-face with exposition.

Grizz is the oldest brother, and he typically takes the lead in every situation they’re in. He’s the loudest and, truth be told, the most annoying, but his antics can also be the source of a lot of fun.

Panda is slightly neurotic and obsessed with his phone and the Internet.

Ice Bear is the coolest character (Oh yeah, enjoy that pun.) He barely (more puns?) says anything, but he delivers the funniest lines just by doling out one-liners usually starting with ‘Ice Bear.’ He is the most tolerable character to ever speak in third person, and he’s voiced by Demitri Martin. It’s a match made in heaven.

Their world is also established quite well. No one really takes note of the fact that they’re bears, and the public is usually only reacting to their personalities or whatever shenanigans they’re getting themselves into.

In terms of story, the pilot episode centers on cheering up Panda after he breaks up with his Internet girlfriend. They decide to get him some ice cream by crashing a kids’ birthday party. While the ending of the party plot makes no sense, it had a lot of funny moments and ended with Panda realizing he needs space away from his ex when she tries to get him back. Admittedly, he seemed clingy, so it’s probably best for both of them. The episode doesn’t center on the relationship at all, but the bare bones of information flashed to us is enough for us to sympathize and move the plot forward.

The actual first episode is about the brothers having their backpack of stuff stolen at the basketball court after playing a game. They lose Grizz’s wallet, Panda’s phone (so he’s obviously freaked out) and Ice Bear’s ninja stars (That he bought legally). The rest of the story is about them tracking down the culprit. The ending twist was great and really threw me for a loop. There are many funny moments throughout this episode, but I’ll admit I was more partial to the pilot.

Final Verdict:

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I will probably binge watch the rest of the series now. Ice Bear would approve.

Aardman’s Clay: Wallace and Gromit – Curse of the Were-Rabbit Review

Rating: 8/10

Plot: Wallace and his dog, Gromit, live in a town where vegetables are everything. They live to grow, care for, eat, and display their veggies, all building up to an annual vegetable competition. Wallace and Gromit run an anti-pest (though mostly bunny) company that humanely captures pests and protects the vegetables of the town.

One night, Wallace gets the idea to stop the bunny plague once and for all by using a mind-altering device to eliminate obsessive thoughts about veggies from their minds. It seems to work, but, in the process, they created a monster….a veggie destroying were-rabbit.

Breakdown: Okay, so yes, the plot does sound very silly, but it’s supposed to.

This was my first ever venture into the Wallace and Gromit series. I’ve heard about it several times in the past, but never actually watched the movie, TV series or played the game….Even though I have the game (from a Humble Bundle).

Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a very entertaining and fun movie that, while not making me bust a gut, did have me smiling and laughing out loud numerous times. It has a very unique style and sense of humor that I thoroughly enjoyed, even if some things about the movie irked me.

For example, I think Gromit deserved a bit more of a hurrah for all the stuff he did over the course of the movie, which is damn near everything. While Wallace is certainly useful as an inventor and bunny catcher, there’s no denying that Gromit does a hell of a lot more in this movie. In addition to being the only one who is effective against the were-rabbit, he also basically waits on Wallace hand and foot with Wallace only barely giving Gromit his props here and there. Not to mention it was Wallace’s invention that started the were-rabbit fiasco in the first place.

Also, I get that he had good intentions, but if the rabbits stopped being a problem, wouldn’t they be out of a job?

The overall unraveling of events were fairly predictable. I knew from the instant they used that machine what the ‘plot twist’ would be.

Ending spoilers. Finally, they give no explanation as to why Wallace turns back at the end. He saves Gromit from falling to his death, turns back into a human and the curse just seems to go away. He didn’t get shot with the golden carrot, so I just have no clue how or why Wallace was cured of this problem…..because he ‘died’ and was seemingly revived by the smell of cheese?….If so, that is really dumb.

End of spoilers.

All in all, I really enjoyed this movie and I look forward to playing the game seeing as how I’ve had it on Steam for like three years and never got around to playing it. *cough*

Recommended Audience: There is quite a bit if innuendo, though some of it might be my filthy mind playing tricks on me. Like that scene where Totty is showing Wallace her giant carrot. Dear God, the things she says can easily be turned into dirty talk. Other than that, though, really nothing to bother with. 6+

Coicent Review

Rating: 8.5/10

Plot: A boy named Shinichi is heading to a local festival where he runs into a weird white deer who steals his backpack and leads him jumping all over town. In the process, they save the life of a girl who fell from a building and has never been outside. They have a wonderful day together at the festival as the girl, nicknamed ‘Toto’ experiences many new things. However, Toto is not what she appears to be, and that is about to cause a lot of trouble.

Breakdown: Coicent was the other feature coupled with Five Numbers! This one is a bit of a romantic sci-fi/fantasy one episode OVA. Unlike Five Numbers!, though, I really believe this was just long enough to tell its story properly without feeling a little disappointed. Granted, that’s not to say I don’t wish they had built on it. I really do, especially her origins, but it’s fine in a short story format.

Shinichi is a really kind and genuine person. While at first it seems like he just wants a cute girlfriend, you can tell he really grew to care deeply for Toto even in the short amount of time they spent together.

Toto is also a very likable and sweet girl. Her situation is sad, but she has a lot of hope and dreams. She can also be kickass when the occasion calls for it. I don’t know exactly what she is, though. I believe I can go through this without spoiling everything since it was shown in the beginning, but Toto is really an….android? That’s my best guess, though she controls her appearance through holograms or something. Which just begs the question of how this short can really end up happily. I mean, even if it does, she’s still an android which means she’d never age and thus could never legitimately be with Shinichi.

But since I don’t know the specifics of her existence, I can’t be certain.

In the end, this is a really nice short romantic sci-fi comedy. Toto and Shinichi have great chemistry, the OVA has great pacing, writing, music, scenery, art and animation. The animation is all done in CGI like Five Numbers, but it seems more polished with better human animation. Though I’m fine with a short OVA, I’d love to see a longer version of a story like this.

Recommended Audience: There’s some violence, but nothing graphic, no sex, nudity, swearing etc. 5+

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Robotomy

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Plot: In a world populated by only robots, life happens. Some of its kinda funny.

Breakdown: This show seems a lot like it’s trying to be an all-robot Futurama. Starring Patton Oswalt and other people, I’m sure, this series was Cartoon Network’s attempt to make slightly more mature programming bordering between their regular shows and Adult Swim.

It did not succeed. This series stands as Cartoon Network’s shortest original series with merely ten episodes under its access panel.

While I can’t say the show has gigantic flaws, it really is forgettable, and, like I said, it’s just an all-robot version of Futurama to me, in terms of the tone of humor.

And the humor really isn’t that great. A lot of it is the typical stuff you’d expect of a robot show, while other jokes are trying to make new stuff based on their robotic environment. The latter is hit or miss, and the hits are like first base at most. It never made me laugh or break out a smile, but it made me do that internal ‘hm that was kinda funny’ thing.

The two main characters, Thrasher and Blastus, who may as well be interchangeable because, while they seem to be going for a goofy impulsive guy and straightman dynamic, they’re basically the same character. Damned if I can tell you which one is which, to be honest. The skinny one is the one voiced by Patton Oswalt, though.

To fit the demographic, this series takes place in a robot high school, which, sadly, just shoves a lot of tropes down this series’ throat, like social media, wanting to be popular, embarrassing yourself in front of your crush etc. It also basically makes this a neutered Futurama clone.

The story of this episode is everyone is joining a social media site called Frienemy. When Thrasher and Blastus join up in hopes of getting popular, they find that they have no friend requests. They send in a complaint to the website itself who offers to be their friend. They accept, but find that Frienemy, who takes the physical form of a giant floating spiky head, is incredibly clingy and possessive. They can’t escape him, so they destroy him by having thousands of robots poke him, which doesn’t make any sense because why would the website, the being that encompasses and creates the poking, be negatively affected by a lot of poking? And if Blastus and Thrasher aren’t popular in the least, how did they instantly convince so many people to poke him?

As an intro, it does a decent enough job of introducing us to their world and the characters, even if the main two are entirely interchangeable. But it doesn’t do a great job of making me want to watch more. I don’t think this series deserved a pitiful ten episode run, but it’s certainly not a very good show.

The art and animation are pretty good with some nice style here and there, but it’s not incredibly creative.

The music is meh. The opening is repetitive and forgettable while the BG music is just forgettable.

Final Verdict:

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It’s a very short series with very short episodes, and it was just entertaining enough to make me feel compelled to tell people to at least give it a shot. I, personally, won’t continue, but I can see how someone else might find this funnier than I do.

Recommended Audience: Despite their drive to hook in a teen audience, there’s not much in regards to anything that mature. One of the robots gets their innards exposed like guts, but they’re robots, so that’s basically censored. Uhhh…..I honestly can’t think of anything. E for everyone, but aimed at teens I guess.

Cartoons Step-By-Step: Dave the Barbarian Episode 1

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Plot: Episode 1A – Dave, Fang, Princess Candy and Oswidge rush into the Enchanted Forest to take down a giant muffin monster. While attempting to vanquish it with Lula, Dave’s magical sword, he accidentally gets her stuck in a stump. While they manage to defeat the muffin, they find that they cannot pull Lula out of the stump. The sprite of the stump reveals that whosoever manages to pull Lula out shall be ruler of Udrogoth. But what happens if no one can?

Episode 1B – Dave feels lost in life and, after reading some self-help scrolls, decides to become a psychofloobocologist to help people. When his ‘helping’ unleashes an ancient evil monster upon Udrogoth, he decides to talk the beast down.

Breakdown: Alright! Dave the Barbarian! This is another one of those short lived shows that I really loved, and I hate Disney for cutting this show’s life so short. It was a self-aware clever and fairly meta show about a royal family trying to manage protecting their kingdom while the king and queen are off battling evil. Candy is a self-absorbed teenage girl, Dave is a prissy yet super muscular and kind ‘barbarian’, Fang is a vicious wild girl who loves nothing more than beating things up and Oswidge is a subpar wizard. With them is Lula, the wisecracking magical sword, and Faffy, a little dragon-like creature who looks somewhat crossed with a pig.

They get into all sorts of ridiculous situations in the medieval fantasy land of Udrogoth and usually just barely manage to scrape by. Dave the Barbarian came into play right as the Disney Channel was starting to get less invested in fun and creative shows and more interested in manufactured pre-teen drivel.

But how does it really hold up?

Episode 1A is basically a parody of the story of King Arthur, just with a gross and prick-ish stump sprite shaking things up….oh and yeah the giant muffin.

It really is just awesome how you can easily hook into everyone’s personalities and the atmosphere just in a few minutes. I think almost all of the jokes hit just as well, if not better, with me than they did when I was younger. You don’t really predict many of the jokes, and it’s not too in-your-face with meta humor. It’s just taking a very typical setting and having some fun with it by making weird monsters and insane situations that you’d never expect.

I do have to ask though; how is the person who pulls out Lula the ruler of Udrogoth? Sure its owners are the royal family, but technically Lula ‘belongs’ to Dave, and he’s just a prince. He’s not even the oldest child. Candy is the only one usually referred to with her title intact, and she was the one put in charge while the king and queen are away.

There are some pretty good jokes in here, though not every one is smile-worthy. I especially liked Lula in this episode, though she’s great all the time.

Episode 1B is basically one big poke at psychology, going through all of the tropes like constantly asking ‘how does that make you feel?’ over and over, thinking talking is the end-all solution to everything, and of course, ‘all of your problems are because of your mother’. I gotta say, as a psych major, this episode kinda irked me. I’m fully aware that psychology is not an exact science, but I find myself getting increasingly annoyed by the TV tropes of brushing off psychology as a joke. It’s not so much that I don’t like poking fun at something I find interesting; it’s moreso that it will just keep perpetuating stereotypes about psychology and mental health issues as a whole.

That mini-rant out of the way, this episode is pretty entertaining and warranted a few smiles out of me, but I find it to be not as funny or well-written as the first episode. Mostly because, not only is it mostly a big psychology joke, but they also keep repeating the same jokes, more or less.

Overall, I’d give A an 8/10 and B a 7/10, earning this whole episode a 7.5/10

Wanderful Days (Manga) Review

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Plot: Akira is a scary looking kid that everyone takes as a devil or delinquent. He’s earned the nickname of The Rabid Dog Fujishima, though he’s not nearly as bad as everyone makes him out to be. While he is a bit rough around the edges, he has a great love of dogs and is actually quite kind. One day, Akira saves a dog from being hit by a car. Sadly, he dies in the process, but his soul is inserted into the body of the dog he saved. He gets adopted by a kind girl named Hinata who takes him in and names him, coincidentally enough, Akira. As he tries to adapt to life as a dog, he discovers that Hinata is one of the few people who actually shows legitimate caring for him; both before and after he died.

Breakdown: On the surface, this looks like a really silly manga. And, yeah, the premise is a bit of a hurdle to get over, but it’s, surprisingly, a pretty good one-shot. You really feel for Akira’s plight even if they play up all sorts of the obviously awkward aspects of being a dog, even some that are played up pretty much just for awkwardness based on the fact that he’s actually a teenage boy. For instance, she bathes with him and sleeps with him, and even lets him, accidentally, put his face in her naked crotch.

Akira was just born with a really ‘evil’ looking face. Even as a baby he was feared by people, including his parents. Because of this, he didn’t have any real friends and no close relationships. He was challenged by all sorts of thugs and earned a reputation due to his fighting back, and kicking ass at that.

Hinata’s a very kindhearted and slightly airheaded girl. Her parents died and she lives alone, though she doesn’t seem to take care of herself very well since her room’s a pigsty and she constantly forgets to lock the door.

When the people at Akira’s school learn that Akira died, they all either don’t care or rejoice since they viewed him as a devil. The only one to cry or even show any sadness over Akira’s death is Hinata. We learn that Hinata actually knew Akira through one chance meeting when they were a couple years younger. She was crying and injured for some reason and Akira, also visibly wounded, probably due to a fight, stopped and tried to cheer her up and tend to her wounds.

In a pretty touching scene back in the present as Hinata mourns Akira’s death, Akira tries to cheer up Hinata in the way most dogs would – he licks her face. But not in a creepy way. It’s touching because it’s just sad all around. Absolutely no one but Hinata cares that Akira died despite the fact that he wasn’t even a bad guy; he just looked scary and had fights forced upon him. If anyone would need cheering up after that, it would be Akira, but all he cares about is Hinata’s feelings and treasuring that, despite only meeting her for a second, she was able to see him for who he was and mourn his death.

They remain as a happy family until one of Hinata’s creepy classmates comes into Hinata’s apartment uninvited (the door was unlocked – She has a bad habit of doing that). When he believes she liked Akira and not him, he attacks her with a box cutter. Akira protects her and nearly gets stabbed, but Hinata protects him and gets cut in the process. Akira then goes crazy and knocks the boy out of the apartment and into a tree.

With the threat gone, Hinata points out just how similar he is to Akira and proudly enforces the honor of the name of her lost friend Akira. With a bark (wan; the Japanese sound for a dog bark, hence the pun title WANderful Days.) he gladly accepts his ‘new’ moniker and place as Hinata’s loyal dog.

Some people pointed out that it might’ve been better if he turned back into a person in the end or if Hinata died and became a female dog to be with him forever, but I’m actually pretty okay with how this ended. Technically, the first option would’ve been fine because the soul of the original dog is still around. He’s actually the weakest part of the manga because he basically just instructs Akira to act like a dog and do perverted things. If she wanted to keep the dog and have Akira back, it could’ve happened, but time would’ve needed to reverse or something because you can’t just say he’s dead and have him get better……Then again, dying and becoming a dog isn’t any less believable.

The second option just seems terrible to me. It’s a bit predictable and I don’t want Hinata to die just to become a dog and have a dog-mance with Akira. In the end, while romance was a factor a little, all Akira wanted was a true family and someone to really care for him. All Hinata wanted was a family and someone to love. In the end, they both got that. The only thing that really bothers me is that…..Akira’s time on earth is still pretty limited. He’s a dog, and seemingly a somewhat old-ish dog at that. Chihuahuas have decent life spans, but they’re still nothing compared to how long Hinata will probably live.

Then again, I guess we’re not meant to think that far ahead and just live in the now. Akira and Hinata are happy and together, and that’s all that matters.

The art is nothing too special, and it’s done in fairly typical shoujo style, but it’s pretty good.

In the end, this is a pretty good one-shot that I’d gladly suggest to anyone looking for a touching tale of friendship/kinda romance. If you can swallow the slightly off-color premise, then you’re pretty much golden.

Additional Information and Notes: Wanderful Days was written and illustrated by Sakura Roku. It was serialized in Gangan Online.

Year: 2010

Volumes: One shot

Rating: 8/10

Recommended Audience: There are some panty shots and censored genital shots. Moderate violence and scary situations. 10+

 

Episode One-Derland: Tokyo Pig

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Plot: A boy named Nori realizes that he has the ability to make his imagination come to life by writing it and drawing it in his diary. When he creates a pig with this power, he furthers his abilities when the pig rams his snout into his head, allowing him to instantly create anything he imagines without the help of his diary.

Breakdown: Before I start, I want to mention that Tokyo Pig is aimed towards a pretty young audience. I’m not usually one to review shows aimed at particularly young audiences, but this one doesn’t seem like its target audience is too young to warrant aversion.

That being said, the only real way to express my feelings on this show so far is by examining the episode step by step. We start out with a weather girl who will annoyingly be popping up about every minute or so to make pointless and not funny observations who explains that the weather will be full of pigs today. Well, okay. I don’t think my umbrella can withstand that, but okay.

Cut to a boy named Nori (or Spencer. I think the subs might be basing themselves off of the supposedly horrible English dub sometimes) who is super excited to run home and do his homework, which is to write about the thoughts and feelings about his day in a diary. The diary won’t be read by anyone else but him, so this is one of those moot homework assignments. Checking to see that he’s alone in the house, he writes how a strange girl in his class has been pressuring him to say that he likes her even though he doesn’t. In fact, he writes that he has no feelings for her at all and doesn’t wish to be with a girl that he feels nothing towards.

His mom and little sister burst from under his desk and in his closet claiming that they were playing hide and seek. His mother freaks out on him since she believes he was studying, and she finds education to be worthless since his father also studied hard and got a good job at a company only to have the bubble burst and him end up with a title-less job at her printing plant. Yep, she is actually a mother who not only values physical labor over education but studying in her house is basically akin to doing drugs.

He leaves to go meet his friends, and his little sister discovers his diary in his desk. When he returns, his mother and sister laugh at him and mock him for what he wrote in his diary. I would completely understand this if it was just the sister. Siblings just do this crap to each other; it’s the natural order of things. But his mom?! She’s laughing about violating his privacy and expressing his perfectly normal feelings about a girl liking him in a seemingly confidential medium. Not to mention they’re acting like he wrote that he did like her when he repeatedly expressed that he didn’t in the diary.

Look, the point of this assignment and diaries as a whole is to have a private place to openly share your thoughts, feelings and dreams without worrying about being judged. In addition to being somewhat of a cathartic experience, it helps people, kids most of all, to feel more comfortable and trusting in sharing their feelings, allowing them to create stronger relationships with people.

Taking someone’s diary and reading it, especially when it’s a young kid’s diary, is essentially shattering every benefit of using a diary. It only makes you feel less trusting of others and more closed-off in regards to continuing the diary out of fear that someone will take it and read it again.

Not really an example, but my sister forced me to write something in my diary when I first got it. I didn’t understand why, but I did it because she kept pressuring me to write it. I forget who it was about, some boy in my class I think, but she made me write “(boy) is sexy.” then she snatched it from my hands and squealed to my parents that I wrote something dirty in my diary. I was about six years old, I didn’t even know what that word meant, and her doing that, even though I didn’t write in it beforehand, put me off of writing in a diary for many years. Which sucked because I was excited to get my first diary.

Laughing at someone for their diary entries only makes that feeling that much worse.

But I’m probably over-reacting. This is a show for little kids, right? Nori will probably have a hissy fit and run upstairs yelling about how his mom and sister are poopy-heads.

Nope.

He actually has a pretty legit emotional breakdown about his privacy being violated and having his private thoughts being mocked.

In most cases, the worst case scenario here would probably be the kid not wanting to use a diary anymore for fear of the same thing happening.

Nope.

Nori instead decides that the healthiest way to approach this problem and avoid any further “shame”, as he puts it, is by filling his diary with outrageous lies. Way to go, mom. You took away Nori’s feelings of trust, filled him with deep shame about sharing his personal thoughts and feelings and taught him that lying is the best way to avoid that shame all in a matter of minutes. Truly your parenting techniques are top-notch.

One of the lies he puts in his diary is that his mom would grow an incredibly long neck, which she actually does and, surprisingly, not a single person sees this as odd besides Nori himself. He quickly erases the entry and his drawing of it, returning his mom to normal and still leaving them thinking nothing’s odd.

Nori realizes that he manipulated reality with his diary…..somehow…..so he decides to test it again with something equally odd by writing that they’ll be having pencil tempura for dinner, which they do, and again no one but Nori finds this odd. His father actually ends up choking on a pencil, only for his mom to cure him by putting an eraser on a cheese grater and feeding his dad the shavings.

Freaked out yet again, Nori decides to write something even more outrageous and says the sky will be filled with pigs tomorrow, and lo and behold the next morning is mostly sunny with scattered pigs. Yet again, no one finds this weird. The pigs, seeing Nori, cram themselves into his room for some reason. Hearing the commotion, his family comes up to investigate, stating that they won’t be happy if there are pigs in his room, which I don’t really understand. If they believe the pigs are just weather phenomenon then wouldn’t that be like getting mad that rain is coming in through the window?

He quickly erases the picture and entry from the diary, causing the pigs to vanish before his family comes up. However, he realizes that he left one pig picture in the diary and that same pig is in the room. His normally happy-go-lucky dad suddenly takes his glasses off, revealing his scary angry face that is apparently so traumatizing that the show won’t reveal it to us, and he demands that he “dump” the pig.

Nori reluctantly agrees, and he drops the pig off in front of a butcher shop. Nori, why? You were the one character consistently earning my sympathy so far. Not to mention that, while he does quickly return for it and I get the ‘joke’, this is the same kid who was having trouble leaving him period because he kept looking into the pig’s cute wittle sad eyes and feeling insanely guilty. It feels like the scene is reversed. Have him do something that drastic at first and then slowly whittle him down to ‘I can’t abandon you at all.’

Also, do I have point out the obvious question of ‘why not just erase the last pig picture?’

Frustrated, Nori thinks that he’d be able to keep the pig at home if he were a godzilla pig because no one would be able to stand up to him. The pig shoves his snout into Nori’s head, allowing him to transform into the godzilla pig Nori imagined. So now, somehow, Nori no longer needs the diary to make his imaginary ideas come to life; he just needs to be skull-stabbed by a pig snout.

Freaked out by the monster, Nori imagines fighter jets to combat him, which instantly come about. So now, somehow again, Nori no longer needs the stab to his skull to make things come to life; they just instantly do the moment he imagines them.

Everything starts getting destroyed around him, so Nori freaks out. However, he does take a minute out to imagine how cool it’d be if another monster showed up to combat pigzilla. He instantly regrets this, but it’s too late and a three-pigheaded dragon emerges to fight pigzilla. In an effort to save the town and stop imagining these things, Nori slams his head repeatedly against a vending machine until he gets knocked out….which is a pretty serious and downright dramatic way to solve this problem in this otherwise goofy and completely random show.

It does work, and the pig tries to wake up Nori to no avail. In an effort to save him, the pig goes to get Nori’s family, and they soon find and retrieve him from the park, thinking he merely fainted. Back at home, the family reveals that the pig is now revered as a savior pig who somehow immediately has a collar even though they would’ve had no time to buy and give him one between being alerted to Nori’s condition and retrieving him. Because of this, Nori is allowed to keep him as a pet and Nori decides to name him Sunny Pig since he fell from the sunny skies. However, since his thoughts can be brought to life by Sunny Pig, he now has to keep everything a secret.

The end.

———————————

Okay, for the most part, this partially works as a first episode. We get a good idea of the personalities of each character, and the universe that they live in is somewhat explained, though the whole thing about why and how he suddenly has these abilities is not explained at all. How is his diary magic? Is his teacher a witch or something? Is this whole ‘every thought is instantly brought to life’ power turned on with snout stab and turned off with him being unconscious?

The tone kinda flip-flops. On one hand, it’s very obviously trying to be a light-hearted comedy show. On the other hand, you have scenes like Nori reacting to his mom and sister reading his diary and Nori’s efforts to knock himself unconscious, which honestly seem more emotional and heavier than they should be or were maybe intended to be.

A major issue is that most of the characters are completely unlikable, except Nori. His mom is an education-hating, privacy violating, emotionally damaging crazy person. His sister is essentially the same as his mom, only made more annoying by her repeated phrases and her high-pitched voice. His dad seemed pretty good until we learned he’s apparently a hard-ass who hates animals. The weather girl is completely pointless and annoying. Nori is still a very fine character, but that scene with the butcher shop won’t leave my mind. Really, the best character is the pig, which is probably why he gets top billing.

Another annoying aspect in that regard is that the family, like the overall tone, also flip-flop in their personality. Most of the time they’re complete assholes or idiots and at the end they’re a seemingly normal and happy family.

Most of the jokes also simply didn’t land with me, except one joke involving trying to translate what the pig is saying. I get that the comedy here is mostly in the insanity of everything, but simply being random and insane is not enough to be funny. However, it probably is pretty funny to a young kid.

I will admit that the final scene is pretty sweet, albeit a little predictable.

The art is obviously simplistic, and while most of it is fine, several character designs are just ugly. Backgrounds have little to no detail and are roughly drawn and colored.

Final verdict?

750spsl

I honestly would’ve been more inclined to continue had I not been so put off by most of the characters. I actually don’t mind the insane and non-sensical plot as it does open up a world of possibilities that are literally only limited by your imagination. However, considering the characters and the fact that the comedy just doesn’t fly very far with me, I can’t find it within myself to feel apt to go on.

Recommended Audience: E for everyone, most suitable for younger audiences.

Eko to Issho (Manga) Review

Rating: 2.5/10

Plot: Hiroshi believes he’s ready for his first cell phone, and finds the perfect one in an old beaten up cellphone that he finds on the street. He sends it off to be repaired, but there’s a mix up and he accidentally gets a teenage girl in the mail instead. But don’t worry, she’s still a cell phone.

Breakdown: Yes, manga is weird, thanks for asking.

You’d think with such a weird….and stupid premise that this manga would be crazy and you’d at least get some laughs out of the craziness and downright stupidity of it all, but no.

It relies almost entirely on the idea that it’s funny that a girl is a cell phone. She has an antenna! It’s funny because she’s a cell phone! She talks like ‘plugging her in’ is something sexual. It’s funny because she’s a cell phone and needs to literally be plugged in! She can choose various ring tones for Hiroshi’s friends and is bad at it. It’s funny because she’s a cell phone! Texting! It’s funny because she’s a cell phone! Are you catching on?

Eko to Issho does try its hand at random humor, slight fanservice humor and even tender moments, and honestly some of these moments do work a little. The problem is that almost all of those moments could’ve been achieved without Eko being a cell phone. If the main hook of your manga is the worst part and anything that kinda works doesn’t need it, you’re doing it wrong.

In terms of characters, Eko is a very naïve and airheaded girl who desperately wants to be a good cell phone for Hiroshi. Despite the fact that it’s not a very unique personality, she was still fine to watch.

Hiroshi himself is really boring and quite the dork. Despite living in a time where cell phones are quite common, he barely knows a damn thing about them and is amazed at even the slightest things they can do. Not to mention that, when he saw that his cell phone was a cute teenage girl, he freaked out because he wanted his normal bland cell phone and wanted to send her back. Yeah, I’m sure that’s how a teenage boy would react in that situation.

‘Hot girl that is my age that I now technically own and also doubles as a cell phone with way more features than the crappy one I found in the street? Dammit, where’s the return label?’

Other than that, the only really notable character to me is the class president, Makoto Kawasumi. She’s very serious and responsible and has a major crush on Hiroshi for some reason. She’s fine, and you can connect to her fairly well.

Art: The art, drawn by the author, Maru Asakura, is ech. The regular art is cartoon-y, and shoujo-like, which is fine, but what the hell is up with the ears? Everyone has gigantic monkey ears that jut from their heads.

Here’s a character art page for you to get an idea.

It makes this passable art pretty ugly. I can only be thankful that several characters have hair that covers their ears, but the same can’t be said for our main character, who has ears so big and distracting that Dumbo’s probably giggling.

Bottomline: It’s a stupid premise with stupid jokes based on the stupid premise. There are some moments that are nice, and the characters are fine, but the jokes just aren’t funny and the somewhat decent moments aren’t enough to keep me reading beyond chapter 10. I can be thankful that the chapters are very short at least with 11 pages being the norm, but I still can’t bring myself to continue.

Recommended Audience: There’s some mild fanservice and allusions to sex, but nothing that bad. 7+