Inuyasha Movie 2: The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass Review

Rating: 6/10

Plot: Naraku has been killed, but there’s a new threat on the horizon by the name of Kaguya. She wishes to bring eternal night to the world and freeze time around her. That’s about it.

Breakdown: This was the first ever Inuyasha movie I watched since I got it on DVD before the first ever premiered on Adult Swim. I watched it over and over in my more anime-deprived days, but how well does it really stand up?

We start off with Inuyasha and the others defeating the main villain of the series, Naraku. ……Oh, really?….Wow, okay. Uh….Movie over? Goodbye everyone!

Oh wait, the movie’s still going on? We’ve only just completed the opening credits? But they showed all the proof that Naraku’s dead. Miroku’s wind tunnel’s gone, Kagura’s heart’s in her chest, Kohaku remembers Sango….

The end.

That’s the end. Main plot of the movie/series resolved. Even if this is a fake out (Why, whatever would they do that for? It’s completely plausible that the main villain of our show would just up and die, without any buildup or background to how they got there, in a movie while the show’s still airing. Pshaw to all you nay sayers.) what would that mean for the movie? That no matter what villain is showcased in this movie, Naraku will inevitably return and take the spotlight back, making the new baddie even more irrelevant than your average TV series connected movie villain.

Anyway, most of the first 40 minutes of the movie after Naraku’s ‘death’ is just talking about Naraku’s ‘death’ while preparing for the arrival of the new baddie. Because baddies can never just appear – they need rituals, preparation and shit. Our baddie of the movie, Kaguya, somehow coerces Kanna into starting the ritual to free her from her mirror prison to bring eternal night to the world. She also coerces Kagura by claiming that the freedom she knows now is a mere illusion and that she can grant her true freedom.

In order to do this, she sends Kagura and Kanna on a fetch quest for 500 exp, 2000 gold and a Ring of Strength lvl 5. They need some sprig, which they have, a crystal, a piece of the robe of the fire rat, a shell and a stone bowl. Funny thing about the stone bowl. A dying little girl who was tasked with protecting the bowl gave it to Kikyo to protect it from the demons as she died. And what does Kikyo do? She willingly hands it over to Kagura. Kikyo’s a real bitch in the movies. She can be a bitch in the TV series too, but she’s an even bigger bitch in the movies.

They gather the items fairly quickly, except the robe of the fire rat, because Inuyasha holds that. After a bit of a battle with Inuyasha, they rip his sleeve off and bail.

As Kagura and Kanna summon Kaguya, we keep up with the group. Miroku is learning more about his grandfather and his connection to the story, Sango has reunited with an injured and still fairly amnesia-ridden Kohaku and Inuyasha, Kagome and Shippo have met with Hojo’s ancestor who is trying to throw the one ring of power into the volcano—I mean throw the celestial robe, something Kaguya needs, into a crater to prevent great chaos and blah blah.

We get a scene where Inuyasha and Kagome are talking about him staying as a half-demon when they get the jewel, but he doesn’t want that. The vocal song in the background swells as Kagome pulls Inuyasha to look at her after he claims it’s ridiculous to think that he’s strong enough as it is. I guess the look in his eyes is important because she stops to stare at him.

I used to really like this scene without issue, but now I find it a little confusing. Why does he look like that? Because he desperately wants to be a demon? Because completing the jewel means Kagome likely leaves? Because he doesn’t know what he really wants? Hm.

Inuyasha movie 02 Screen1

Kaguya shows up for the robe and restrains Inuyasha to a tree. Kagome, being their last line of defense (well, they’re dead), tries to attack Kaguya with a sacred arrow, but Kaguya reflects it back towards Inuyasha. Kagome jumps in the way to save him while Ancestor Hojo throws the celestial robe in the arrow’s path as it sticks in Kagome’s back. This obviously means Kagome’s going to be okay, but Kaguya reinforces this by saying she won’t let her die.

Kaguya takes Kagome and the robe (Kagome a damsel in distress? That never happens!) leaving Inuyasha and the others to find her castle and save Kagome.

Sango, Miroku, Kohaku, Kirara and Hachi head towards the castle, but are shot down. Shippo saves Sango and the others, while Inuyasha and Kagome do what they do best…..Yell each others names.

Inuyasha: “Kagome!”

Kagome: “Inuyasha!”

Inuyasha: “Kagome!”

Kagome: “Inuyasha!”

Inuyasha: “Kagome!”

Kagome: “Inuyasha!”

Inuyasha: “Kagome!”

Kagome: “Inuyasha!”

Inuyasha: “Kagome!”

Kagome: “Inuyasha!”

Inuyasha: “Kagome!”

Kagome: “Inuyasha!”

Kagome’s also completely healed of her arrow wound due to the robe. Oh how surprising. (I’m being sarcastic)

Inuyasha fights a three-headed water dragon. This is a pretty cool battle, even if this is another monster where the weakspot is painfully obvious. Gee, I wonder if that giant glowing point where all of the heads connect could be what Inuyasha needs to aim for. Just the battle itself is pretty cool since the demon’s so huge compared to Inuyasha and Inuyasha has to practically ride him to beat him. However, there are numerous times in this battle where it looks like Inuyasha’s standing on water.

Inuyasha defeats the demon with a Wind Scar as Kikyo shoots a sacred arrow at it at the same time from land. Well, okay Miss Unclearmotivationsandintentions.

Inuyasha: “Who shot that arrow?” Gee, I wonder. There are only two people commonly seen in the Inuyasha universe who can use sacred arrows. One is currently kidnapped. Hmmm such a mystery.

I will forgive that, though, just to see Inuyasha shake off like a dog.

After that’s done, Kagura reveals that Kaguya’s not the real Kaguya. She’s much like Naraku in that she has absorbed the powers of other demons to gain immortality. Naraku wanted her body for himself, thus he….kept her locked away and never bothered to try and get it? I dunno.

Kanna tries to steal Kaguya’s soul, but is unable. Kaguya then sends Kagura and Kanna to another dimension with the powers of the robe.

Inuyasha arrives at the castle to confront Kaguya, but she unleashes her time-freezing ability on the world as he attacks. While all of the land around them, Hachi and Hojo’s ancestor are frozen in time, Inuyasha and the others are not.

Why? Because all of them were wearing items from modern times that Kagome brought back with her. Sango and the others had bandages of Kagome’s on while Inuyasha had a locket that Kagome gave to him……I’m sorry, I’m calling a little bit of BS here. Just because they’re items from the modern era, that means they have a, quoting here, ‘time barrier’ around them that exempts them from Kaguya’s spell? Shenanigans, I say!

While Inuyasha isn’t affected by the freeze in time, Kaguya claims that it doesn’t matter because he wasn’t even there at all and reveals it all to be an illusion of Inuyasha’s. The real dream castle is mirrored under their feet, which Inuyasha easily accesses using his red Tetsusaiga, so that was completely pointless.

Inuyasha and the others reach Kagome, and Kaguya and the others have a battle. Inuyasha and Miroku get injured while Sango and Kohaku get restrained. Kaguya decides to grant Inuyasha his deepest desires of becoming a full demon…..which makes no sense to me. Why would she purposely make Inuyasha stronger? Making him a full demon won’t guarantee that he’ll be obedient to her. In fact, he’s an out of control beast when he’s full demon.

Inuyasha in full demon form attacks Miroku as he tries to snap Inuyasha out of it. It’s meant to be shocking, but he doesn’t even rip Miroku’s clothes with an Iron Reaver.

Inuyasha movie 02 Screen2Inuyasha movie 02 Screen3

Ya know, I like Richard Ian Cox as Inuyasha, but he makes really lame ‘demon’ noises.

Shippo frees Kagome by throwing her jewel shards at her, and Kagome runs to hug Inuyasha to get him to stop changing….and…I dunno what’s happening, but again I used to really like this sequence, now I just find it really cheesy. It’s not really bad, in fact I still find it kinda sweet, but the cheese is prominent.

Through all the chaos in his mind, he sees Kagome running to him and calling his name. Because we haven’t heard her yell it in the past 11 milliseconds. Then as Inuyasha prepares his attack, illusion!Kagome gets surrounded in cherry blossoms and says that she loves him as a half-demon. This starts to reverse his transformation, but Kaguya presses on, forcing him to dig his claws into Kagome’s arms.

Kagome wonders how she can stop his transformation, and she decides the best way is to give the fans something to gush over, so she kisses him. While I used to really like this scene, I still always thought that kiss was….awkward, at least the first half of it. Looking closely, she is actually kissing his bottom lip, but it really just looks like she’s kissing his teeth. Or, at the very least, is shoving her nose into his teeth.

Inuyasha movie 02 Screen4

Of course Inuyasha reverts back to normal, and for some reason this causes red sparkles to float around, fixing his robe of the fire rat. *shrug*

As the battle with Kaguya starts again, Kohaku screams in agony with a deep pain in his shoulder. Sango pulls back his shirt and reveals a pulsating spider mark. When the spider mark is revealed, Miroku also yells in agony as his wind tunnel reappears. Naraku soon bursts from Kohaku’s back and reveals he had faked his death somehow. Naraku not dying for reeelz!? NOH WEI! What a complete new plot development this is for the series as a whole.

He did this to lure Kaguya out to absorb her powers…..Why he couldn’t have just summoned her himself is beyond me. The items to summon her were crazy easy to find and there’s no explanation as to why Kaguya wouldn’t want to appear while Naraku was alive….

Naraku attacks Kaguya and their battle starts to bring the castle down. Naraku disappears, and Inuyasha decides to finish off both of them, Kaguya first. Kagome realizes that the only way to take down Kaguya for good is to destroy her mirror. She asks Shippo to turn into a bow while she uses Miroku’s staff as an arrow…which I don’t think would work in the slightest. His staff seems too heavy to work as an arrow, too long to wield properly, plus the décor at the top would make it too heavy at one end to fly even a little, but whatever. It works, and Inuyasha kills her at the same time with a Wind Scar.

Inuyasha movie 02 Screen5

Hooray, our heroes have won! But wait, the dream castle is collapsing.

Kim Possible: “Just once, I wish the bad guy’s lair didn’t have to blow up.”

Precisely! Cue escape scene that you know is pointless because it would be insanely dumb to have them die in a collapsing building after just surviving the final battle.

While escaping, Kaguya in bad CGI smoke cloud form kidnaps Kagome….again, because padding, and conveniently drops her on a beam that Naraku just happens to be on for no reason. He uses Kagome as a lure to get Kaguya, but he’s attacked by Inuyasha before she can get to them. And Miroku uses his windtunnel to suck up Kaguya’s smoke form………well, that was anticlimactic.

Naraku, Kagura, who somehow made it back from whatever dimension she was in, and Kohaku jump through the portal made by the mirror, which shouldn’t work since it’s broken, to escape into the real world, and Inuyasha and the others follow suit.

They see the castle reflection disappear and Hachi and Hojo’s ancestor get freed from the spell. Hojo’s ancestor also miraculously got the robe back instantly after the castle disappeared.

They then continue their journey to defeat Naraku because that’s how everything Inuyasha related ends barring Final Act

Oh and for anyone wondering whatever happens to Hojo’s ancestor, it’s revealed in the TV series that his flighty and shallow love for Kagome ran so deep that he forced his future wife to change her name to Kagome. Creepy creeper.

Art and Animation: The animation was roughly the same as the TV series was a bulk of the time. The art was kinda awkward in it’s style and overall quality. It’s especially apparent in one of the scenes where you see Inuyasha’s human form in the mirror and see that one of his eye reflections is much bigger than the other. However, it had much crisper coloring than the first movie and the TV series.

Music: Same as the TV series, which is fantastic. The movie-exclusive vocal songs are great with Yurayura being one of my favorites.

Voice acting: English Some of the dialogue and acting in this movie was somewhat hokey, but other than that it was on par with the TV series, which is pretty good.

Bottomline: As you probably guessed from my commentary, I don’t like this movie as much as I used to when I was a huge Inuyasha fan. Kaguya’s a decent villain, but she’s just like a mix between Naraku and Kanna without as much threat. Movie villains for anime series never seem to be as threatening because you know by the end of the movie they’ll be defeated (because movie canon hardly ever seems to carry over into series canon) whereas the villains of the TV series go on for ages.

In addition, you knew from the very beginning that Kaguya was just a distraction meant to pass the time until Naraku showed his face again. It’s not an awful or even bad movie by any means, but it’s still not that good. Quite frankly, I think the main reason it’s even given a little notoriety is because it’s where Inuyasha and Kagome share their first kiss, but whether or not this is actually canon is highly questionable.

If you’re a big Inuyasha fan, maybe give it another point, but for casual fans or people relatively unfamiliar to the series (In which case, why are you watching the second movie based on it?) then a six stands just fine.

Additional Information and Notes: Inuyasha was based on a manga of the same name by Rumiko Takahashi. The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass was directed by Toshiya Shinohara, who directed all of the Inuyasha films, and did some directorial work on Black Butler, Crest of the Stars, 2001 Nights and Gurren Lagann. The screenplay was written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa, who also wrote the scripts for many episodes of Dragon Ball Z, Inuyasha, Blue Dragon, all but one episode of Inuyasha: Final Act and Yu Yu Hakusho.

It was produced by Sunrise and is currently licensed in the US by Viz Media.

Runtime: 99 Minutes

Year: 2002

Recommended Audience: Violence, some blood, nothing worse than the TV series. 12+


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Episode One-Derland: Kekkaishi

Plot: Yoshimori Sumimura and Tokine Yukimura are the youngest of their rival clans. Their families are heirs to the Hazama style Kekkai technique, giving them the powers to contain, battle and destroy ayakashi – monsters with immense power who threaten the land.

The Kekkai users or Kekkaishi are tasked with protecting the Karasumori school – a building that was built on top of the burial ground of Tokimori Hazama himself. He was born with a strange power that drew ayakashi to him and increased their power exponentially in mere moments. Even after his death, the power still resonates within the school grounds.

A young Yoshimori used to want nothing more than to shrug off his responsibilities as a Kekkaishi. He hated the constant training, always getting his battles interrupted by Tokine, the fact that his older brother seemed more suited for the job despite not being a legitimate heir, like him, and the fact that their roles as Kekkaishi put a real strain on his and Tokine’s friendship.

Tokine, on the other hand, loves her role as a Kekkaishi and excels at it. She’s stern with Yoshimori, but only because she realizes what a dangerous and important job it is.

One day, Tokine badly wounds herself trying to protect Yoshimori from an ayakashi that he failed to properly dispose of due to being tricked by it. Ever since that day, he’s felt a heavy burden of guilt and has vowed to become stronger so he won’t get anyone hurt ever again.

Breakdown: Hey, it’s Kekkaishi! That show everyone’s heard of, but no one ever seems to talk about ever.

Even when this show was airing on Toonami/Adult Swim, I really heard no one talking about it. The best I managed was someone mentioning the OP on a ‘Best Anime Opening Theme Songs’ list, and I’d agree with that.

I caught a bit of the show here and there when it was airing on TV, but it never caught on with me for some reason.

Now that I’ve finally sat down and given it a full chance, I’m happy to report that I really liked it.

Is it breaking new ground in the shounen genre? No. At the end of the day, it’s still a show where it’s the MC’s ‘destiny’ to beat monsters and protect the land and those he cares about. At the very least, he’s not a prodigy MC. In fact, he’s quite inept, at least so far, at being a Kekkaishi. Even when we cut to present day where he’s older and more focused, he’s still overly headstrong and makes a bunch of mistakes.

The thing more people remember about this show, at least I do anyway, is the unique aspect of the glowing boxes, also known as Kekkai. Despite just being, well, glowing boxes, they’re useful for a plethora of purposes, and it’s a welcome change up from the typical ‘blam-blam Imma firin’ mah lazar’ powers most supernatural shounen shows get.

As a first episode, it lays down the groundwork extremely well – maybe a bit too well, because they went way overboard with those text-boxes that explain every little thing, but it’s not a big deal. In one episode, we firmly establish the backstory, the enemies, the lore, the characters and their motivations – and the pacing never felt off-kilter.

Yoshimori is a little annoying, but he’s also very relatable. He doesn’t want to get out of being a Kekkashi at first because he’s sick of the training and being out every night – he’s sick of being bad at it and knowing that being a Kekkashi and even part of the Sumimura family prevents him from being close friends with Tokine.

He’s also emotional and greatly sympathetic towards others, even perceived enemies, which is something I greatly appreciate in my shounen protagonists.

His grandfather is more annoying than anything. The worst part of this whole episode was the five-ish minutes of him just screaming at Yoshimori.

Tokine is also a good character. You can tell she still wants to be close friends with Yoshimori again and feels the strain of their families and responsibilities impeding on them. She’s a great Kekkashi, even if she does seemingly ‘take’ Yoshimori’s targets and kinda treats him poorly when they’re older.

I was very disappointed to read on the Wiki that she’s regarded as the weakest Kekkaishi when she’s so good right now. I am sick to death of female fighters getting nerfed in action anime just because ‘hurr hurr penis=power, go battle an ayakashi in the kitchen lol’ I really hope that I’m wrong about that and the Wiki’s just wording things poorly, but seeing as how I’ve found several sources of this label, I’m inclined to believe it. Can someone who’s actually seen all of the show or read the manga tell me otherwise?

He didn’t get much screentime, but I really liked Yoshimori’s father. He reminded me a lot of Sakura’s father from Cardcaptor Sakura. He’s kind and very supportive.

The art and animation is okay. The character art, particularly with the noses, never meshed that well with me, but it’s not really bad. The animation is nothing special, but alright.

The music is really good. Not sure it’s a soundtrack I’d run out and buy yet, but I really love the OP, the ED is good and the BGM is pretty nice.

The voices, English dub, were good, though I’m questioning whether Laura Bailey is fully-suited for Tokine. Love ya, Laura, I’m just not sure you fully fit her yet. Judgment pending.

Final Verdict:

Continue Yes

I was pleasantly surprised by this episode, even if it is fairly generic. Being generic isn’t necessarily bad as long as the execution and style is interesting enough to hook my attention. I look forward to the rest of this series and hope that it’s a lost gem, not rightfully buried under the sands of time.


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My AniManga Clash-ish Thoughts on 11Eyes

AniManga Clash is a particularly difficult series for me to write for since I have to either watch the anime alongside the manga or have remembered enough points about whichever I saw/read first to be able to write a good comparison. I figured a good middleground for retroactive entries would be to check out the manga versions of anime I’ve watched several years in the past and at least give my bare bones thoughts on what I remembered to be the differences between the two and my experiences with both.

Because of this, while reading, please remember that it’s been a decade or so since I’ve watched the series and I might not get all my facts straight. Feel free to correct me, but these are my feelings out the gate.

First on the list was 11Eyes, because the alphabet. If you’ve read my 11Eyes review or my Salty Anime Challenge entries, you can probably guess that I was less than enthused to check out the manga. Being fair, the anime is not based on the manga. They’re both separate adaptations of the visual novel (which is an h-game, fair warning.) However, since I’ve never played the VN and only have sparse knowledge gathered from the Wiki, I’ll avoid talking about it.

For those who haven’t read either of those posts, let me chalk up the 11Eyes anime to being pretty decent barring two things; 1) The ending was insanely confusing and a massive cop-out. 2) The character of Yuka was beyond unlikable and one of the most psychotic jealous bitches I’ve ever seen in anime.

Nonetheless, I decided to give the manga a fair shake anyway because, let’s be real, it’s not like they could make it or Yuka even worse.

I was right. A little too right.

Yuka is 1000000000000% less irritating in the manga than she is in the anime.

….I mean…..she’s insanely boring, and somehow even more useless in the manga, but she’s grade-A certified not-bitch.

She’s not even Kakeru’s love interest, really. She’s more like a sister stand-in for Kukuri.

She doesn’t get jealous of his and Misuzu’s relationship, she doesn’t go completely off her rocker, she doesn’t act like she doesn’t care about the other fragments (in fact, in one of her few scenes where she’s actually kinda doing something I think, she’s vehement in saving them) she doesn’t try to murder/maim Misuzu by putting a razor blade in her tea and she doesn’t willfully free the main villain for absolutely no reason.

Manga!Yuka…….well…..she saves Kakeru with her powers once, and they never even explore what her powers are. Then she’s unconscious for a few chapters…..then she gets absorbed by Liselotte…..the end.

From what I know of the VN, which is little, but there are various ends and paths to take, the anime is, sadly, closer to the canon rendition, but even though manga!Yuka is more boring, I’d take her over anime!Yuka any day.

I believe they were trying to make her character have layers, which they succeeded in more than the manga, but also, ultimately, make her someone you sympathize with and feel bad for considering all she had in the world was Kakeru. She was desperately trying to make sure he never left her, but she went WAY too far with it.

It’s near impossible to sympathize with the feelings of a lonely character when she makes friends with several people then turns around and acts like she couldn’t care less if they died as long as Kakeru was okay. Or, ya know….the whole razor blade in the tea thing. Or the ‘freeing Liselotte knowing she’d likely kill everyone’ thing.

As for the ending, while I also find the manga’s to be a bit of a cop-out, they did much better with their finale than the anime did.

In the anime, everyone basically gets killed, including Yuka, because Yuka did the aforementioned stupid thing. Misuzu, in an effort to give them both one big boost of power to create a bit of hope…..has sex with Kakeru. It makes in context, oka—no wait, it really doesn’t………Anyway, it works, I think, but it doesn’t matter, they both die, then it’s revealed that the previous episode was a vision of Kakeru’s Eye of Aeon IE a dream sequence IE bite me.

Lots of stuff happens, but the main point is, Superbia, a ‘bad guy’ whisks the survivors, which at this point is Misuzu, Kakeru, Yuka, Shiori and Kukuri, away to a carbon copy of their world where the Red Night no longer exists and their fallen friends are alive again only it’s not really them because this is an alternate universe.

Also, god only knows what happened to that world’s versions of Misuzu, Kakeru, Yuka, Shiori and Kukuri.

Yuka also magically turns into a non-psycho bitch again because reasons.

Happily every after, I guess….Except for the black moon reappearing, but only visible to Kakeru, I think. That implies that either Liselotte or someone else is controlling a Red Night in their new world, which is sequel bait that went nowhere.

In the manga, the one who frees Liselotte is Yukiko, not Yuka. However, she didn’t do it on purpose like Yuka did. She was lost in grief over the death of Takahisa, so she took it upon herself to kill Liselotte, believing doing so would end the Red Night while getting her revenge in the process.

Yukiko and the other fragments are exactly who Liselotte needs to absorb in order to break free from her crystal prison and destroy the world. She didn’t know that because the Black Nights have never heard of talking to people before. (Yes, sit down and give all the exposition after several people have died in this pointless battle. You honestly could’ve just told them to stay as far away from this person, who is imprisoned and can’t move, as possible whenever the Red Night shows up, but trying to kill them and not explaining why and eventually even leading them to Liselotte, who appears to them as an innocent girl wrongfully imprisoned, begging for their help, that’s a good plan too.)

Yuka tries to save her, but gets absorbed herself.

After a giant exposition dump via Shiori who might as well not even be here besides to give aforementioned exposition dump, and a pep talk/love confession to Misuzu from Kakeru (in lieu of the nonsensical sex scene) they decide to fight on.

The manga does a much better job at handling and actually concluding the fight between Misuzu and Superbia/Misao Kusabake. It was an intense and awesome battle.

Similarly the actual battle between Kakeru and Liselotte was impressive as well. In the end of that battle, Kakeru gives his soul to gain the power to defeat Liselotte and let everyone else live. Then Kukuri gives up her mortal being through her angel thing to become a god in order to bring save Kakeru’s soul, bring everyone who died back to life and fix the world. Then her angel thing sacrifices itself, somehow, to become the god in her stead since she could not live a life on earth as a god, and he departs him her.

Then they all live happily every after….for real. No magically reappearing black moon. It’s over.

This was like a conga line of cop-outs. It makes a little more sense in a narrative standpoint than saying there are six identical worlds out there with the only difference being that one of them has a Red Night on it then switching to a backup version of the world. And it’s better to have Yukiko, Saeko and Takahisa come back to life instead of opting for alternate versions of them. I always felt like that was not only a cop-out, it was downright disrespectful of the characters from their original world. They lost their lives, but it’s okay. We have extras.

But it doesn’t end there.

After the Red Night ends and everything gets fixed, their lives go back to normal, basically. However, the battle with Misao left lasting damage on Misuzu anyway, and she felt obligated to return the five swords of the Kusakabe clan back to her relatives. To do that, she, I suppose, would have to leave town indefinitely.

In the course of the manga, she and Kakeru had developed a romantic relationship. He even confessed to her, without prompt, that he loved her. She tries to convince Kakeru that they can’t be in a relationship with each other (for….reasons?), but he convinces her to be with him, to let him be her reason for existing since she believed she had lost hers once Misao had fallen. She happily accepts, kisses him and I guess they leave to live in the Kusakabe clan household forevermore.

No mention of Yuka at all. Just their happily ever after.

You might think that since the Yuka thing and the ending were essentially fixed as well as I could hope that my overall opinion on the manga is exponentially better than the anime.

Well, yes and no.

While I am grateful that they wrote a better ending and didn’t bitch up Yuka, the overall experience of the manga felt very rushed and like several characters were sacrificed in the overall story for the sake of holding the focus on Kakeru and Misuzu.

Truth be told, while I think both Kakeru and Misuzu are at least as good if not better than their anime counterparts, I couldn’t help but feel robbed when it came to damn near anyone else.

Takahisa never gets a time to shine. In fact, he’s relatively useless over the course of the story because his fire never seems to do anything to the enemies. He exists, has some scenes and lines, then Saeko dies, he goes nuts, though not nearly to the level he does in the anime, and then he’s mercy killed by Yukiko after he begs her to do so, realizing his powers will never be under control again and he’ll just burn down everything around him.

I was massively pissed when we were in the middle of an unrelated battle with Misuzu and Kakeru vs. Superbia only to have Yukiko pop up out of nowhere to announce Takahisa was dead and she had been the one to kill him.

We get all of three panels explaining that Saeko was killed by a Black Knight who attacked the school, Takahisa went out of control in grief and Yukiko had to end his life. The next chapter gives us a more proper flashback to Takahisa’s breakdown and subsequent death, but that’s a far cry from the anime where we basically had an entire episode dedicated to this heartbreaking collection of moments, which started with the out-of-nowhere death of Saeko as Takahisa and Yukiko were enjoying a nice walk and conversation.

Not to mention that, while Yukiko and Takahisa are clearly on good terms in the manga, they don’t give off the air like they’re nearly as close as their anime counterparts, which makes Takahisa’s death have less of an impact. I’ll give Yukiko’s deep slip into despair after this death a pass since it is still a harrowing thing to have to kill a friend no matter how close you were to them.

Yukiko also fared well in the personality department, but I feel like handing the reigns to her on releasing Liselotte wasn’t very fair. It makes sense, but it still irritates me. Though I guess her being absorbed by Liselotte is much better than her being viciously torn apart until they get her fragment out, causing this previously immortal being to finally die.

I feel like we didn’t get as much badass Yukiko as we should’ve, which is a shame because that was one of the best parts of the anime.

Even though Kukuri’s backstory was spotty and confusing at best in the anime, if my memory can be relied on at all, they do much worse with manga!Kukuri in that they just flatout don’t give her one.

They spend a good amount of time focusing on how similar she looks to Kakeru’s dead sister of the same name. She denies being her and additionally has a last name that doesn’t match Kakeru’s. After that, they just don’t talk about her. She’s there, she does stuff, and she’s a linchpin in saving Kakeru’s soul but we don’t really know who she is or why she looks identical to Kakeru’s sister as well as shares her name.

It’s a giant blank spot and gaping plot hole that begs to be filled.

Kukuri’s VN backstory could be an entire arc on its own, and it seems to mostly explore aspects of the story that neither the manga nor anime really explored fully (And revisiting a clip just for the sake of reference, the anime’s version is still insanely confusing to me.) Since I already said I won’t really talk about VN stuff here, I’ll just leave this where it is.

Shiori’s role was also greatly diminished. Outside of the big exposition dump late in the manga, she’s just kinda hanging around and observing things. Like Kukuri, she does some things sometimes, but she doesn’t have much of an actual role.

My memory of my opinions of Kakeru alone in the anime are a bit foggy. I remember that he didn’t much bother me, but he also wasn’t protagonist of the year or anything particularly because of his perpetual dedication to Yuka the crazy lady and the yawn-worthy parroting of the typical ‘I will protect you. I’ll always protect you. I’ll always be with you’ yadda yadda spiel.

In the manga, he is determined to get the power to save people he cares about, such as Yuka, which stems from a deep-seated feeling of guilt for not being able to save his sister from committing suicide. Throughout the manga, he’s less focused on being a knight in shining armor and more of being a warrior who has a duty to protect his loved ones.

That being said, he is still pretty cut and dry. There still fails to be anything truly memorable about him as a character besides his cool eyepatch.

Even though he and Misuzu have a much more fleshed out relationship in the manga than Kakeru and Yuka did, in either the manga or the anime, he recognizes her as the warrior she is and almost never steps in to fight her battles outside of one time where it was pretty much necessary.

The line about being her purpose for living in the end did irk me a little, but I feel like that was less sexist and more overly cheesy. That whole scene was melodramatic, to be honest.

Speaking of Misuzu, I think she remains a pretty good character in both versions. I was a little annoyed at the amount of times they gave her, for lack of a better term, moe face whenever she and Kakeru were having a moment. It’s such a stark contrast to her normal face and mannerisms and feels really weird. I also don’t much care for her decision to not start a relationship with Kakeru just….because.

Some people might be miffed about Kakeru and Misuzu getting a happy ending together, but the alternative is him getting together with either psycho!Yuka or blandwithnopurpose!Yuka, and neither of those are appealing to me.

I feel I should talk about Yuka some more because I have to admit that, as a whole, blocking the anime from my mind, it IS a big issue that someone supposedly so important to Kakeru gets glazed over and almost entirely dropped by the end. The most focus she gets is in the first chapter and that’s just because she and Kakeru are literally the only characters who have been introduced by that point.

She uses her powers a grand total of once, and Misuzu seems to recognize that they’re at least fairly powerful, then she spends a couple chapters recovering from her energy drain, then she floats around for a bit, then she gets absorbed by Liselotte.

The target of Kakeru’s attention, affection and dedication is almost entirely shifted to Misuzu rather quickly.

Make him and Yuka romantic interests or not, I really don’t care. Make her a substitute sister, I really don’t care. But I do care about her being so boring and non-existent. How can I give a single damn about her being absorbed by Liselotte when I barely get to know her?

The absorption of Yukiko and Yuka should be as devastating to us as it is the remaining fragments, but I couldn’t find myself caring much at all.

I find myself similarly disappointed in both the anime and manga. While the manga has a much stronger and less cheap ending and a much saner non-psycho Yuka, it also falls very short of giving us the character development and plot elements that we needed to make a full story, or to simply make us care as much as we should. The manga would have benefited greatly from being at least two volumes longer.

If I gave the anime a 6/10, I’d give the manga a 7/10 It was a better overall experience, but it still wasn’t a particularly great one. Shame, because I still feel like the framework could make for a really awesome manga or anime. It’s just not there.

Being fair, from all I’ve read on the Wiki, I think the anime is a more loyal adaptation of the VN source material’s most canon storyline, but sometimes being more loyal to the source material doesn’t always make for a good series.

CSBS – American Dragon Jake Long S01 Ep 04: The Legend of the Dragon Tooth

CSBS - ADJL EP4

Plot: Haley is getting her first adult dragon tooth, which means the old one is falling out. Hearing this, Dr. Dentin, the Tooth Fairy’s assistant, steals her wand and holds her captive while he tries to steal the dragon tooth for himself. It’s said that planting a dragon tooth in soil will yield unspeakable evil and massive power.

Jake is becoming increasingly irritated by his little sister’s annoying behavior. Not only is she doing what she always does in regards to shoving how much better she is than him in his face, but now she’s being even more coddled by their parents than usual because she’s got a loose tooth.

Trixie and Spud cheer Jake up later that day by telling them they’ll be able to get into the Hip Hop Video Awards where Jake’s celebrity crush, Shaniqua, will be performing. However, his plans are soon soured when his mother reminds him that he agreed to babysit on the night of the awards.

That night, Jake, Trixie and Spud make an arrangement – they’ll each go to the awards while watching Haley in shifts.

As Jake leaves for his shift, Dr. Dentin tries to infiltrate the house only to find that it’s protected by a new shield that Grandpa put up. He has no choice but to wait until she leaves the house.

Meanwhile, Trixie and Spud try to pry out Haley’s loose tooth, in spite of the fact that her mom told her that dragon teeth must fall out on their own. Their efforts are good, but they yield no results. It seems it’s incredibly difficult to pry out a dragon tooth.

Jake returns after his shift, irritated that not only does he have to go back to babysitting but also that the house has basically been destroyed in the tooth antics. Haley tells him that Trixie suggested playing hockey since hockey players always lose their teeth. Fed up with the situation, he tells Haley to go play outside, despite the fact that she’s not allowed to play outside after dark.

Dentin nearly ambushes her, but Haley unknowingly staves off some of his tooth minions with her hockey puck before Trixie and Spud return and take her back in the house.

Jake, Spud and Trixie go back and forth to the concert and home numerous times before they decide to just take Haley with them to go see Shaniqua. As they’re skateboarding to the arena, Jake senses a threat and realizes the tooth minions are following them. Jake makes up an excuse to briefly stay behind and Haley refuses to leave, so Spud and Trixie go on ahead while Jake takes care of Dentin and the tooth minions.

Jake fights the minions again and again, but each time he destroys them they just reform. In the confusion, Dentin grabs Haley and heads off to his lair to retrieve the tooth.

Meanwhile, the tooth fairy, having escaped from near death, seeks out her old friend Fu Dog to help her take down Dentin. Realizing Haley’s the target, Grandpa comes along to help.

They meet up with Jake and head towards the Tooth Fairy’s lair. They manage to hold their own against the tooth minions, but Haley’s tooth gets knocked out in the crossfire. Dentin grabs it and plants it in the soil, turning him into a massive tooth monster. His plans now? To steal money from children to recoup the costs of the Tooth Fairy’s money for teeth tradition. He takes Haley in case he needs more dragon teeth and heads off.

Jake tries to fight him, but gets wrapped up in some cable. He tells Haley to use her dragon teeth to bite through the cable, but she doesn’t feel like she can. After some encouraging words from Jake, she’s able to partially transform and bite through the cable, freeing Jake.

In a final blow, Jake grabs a massive TV screen off the side of a building and slams it into Dentin. The burst of electricity causes him to explode in a flurry of teeth.

Now safe and sound, Jake takes Haley back home. When their parents return, they’re angry about the mess but instantly forget about it when they notice Haley has lost her first tooth.

Even though Jake missed the concert, he’s more than happy to have saved his little sister and gotten some bonding time with her. Meanwhile, Spud and Trixie ride off happily with Shaniqua in her limo sucking down sparkling cider.

—————————-

– Ugh, I always hated those tooth monsters. Anything involving teeth squicks me out.

– Yes, our villain today is an evil magical dentist.

– Also, I don’t much care for Haley. Just getting it out there.

– I find it interesting that they confirm that Haley has developed dragon powers earlier than Jake ever did (It clears up why Jake only seems to be learning the basics now when Haley can already partially transform and use fire breath etc. He only developed his powers upon reaching his teens, which means just barely before the series began was when he started gaining them) but the reasoning is a little odd. Girls mature faster than boys. I know that’s technically true, but from a mythical standpoint, that seems a little strange.

– Jake’s face when he imitates Haley, however, is simultaneously hilarious and frightening.

– Actually, Jake’s making a lot of great facial expressions today. It’s like he’s somewhat melded with a Looney Tune.

– Dr. Dentin: *After experiencing the magical shield first hand* *later, after Jake says it’s a spell* “Ah, so that’s what it is. Some kind of magic spell.” What the hell did you think it was? Some kind of electrical shield generator that dispels magical creatures?

– Why did a cat meow when Trixie finally hit Spud with the fire extinguisher? Jake’s family doesn’t have a cat….

– There is no way in hell twenty minutes went by between Trixie and Spud leaving and Haley just going out the door to play hockey. About a minute went by, if that.

– Trixie and Spud both decided to help Jake out with the babysitting specifically so he could see Shaniqua in concert….and when she’s on stage, they argue over who gets to go see her….Uh, what?

– Why didn’t they just take Haley from the beginning? Technically, they shouldn’t be able to in the first place because I doubt they have an extra ticket, but still.

– Trixie’s awful bitchy when she tells Jake and Haley to work out whatever it is on their own.

– Did the tooth fairy actually say ‘H E double hockey sticks?’ Wow…..Actually, now I’m reminded that Disney had a movie called H E Double Hockey Sticks with a good chunk of the movie taking place in Hell. Weird times, the early 00’s….

– How is taking Haley for more dragon teeth going to help? Is he somehow going to get bigger and….toothier?

– So ‘unspeakable evil’ is a giant tooth monster who steals kids’ piggy banks….Okay.

– Why couldn’t Jake bite through the cables with his dragon teeth? It’s especially strange because Haley clearly still has baby dragon teeth.

– It’s weird that the dragon tooth monster thing actually seems less powerful than the tooth minions. Sure, he’s bigger and physically stronger, but he doesn’t have any special powers and the tooth minions simply reform when they’re defeated. The dragon tooth monster doesn’t.

– Also, Jake just straight up murdered someone. Dentin was electrocuted and exploded into a million teeth. He is never seen again.

– How and why did Spud and Trixie get to hang out with Shaniqua after the concert? They’re drinking ‘sparkling cider’ in her limo and everything.

That seems like a cruel ending to a degree. They offer to watch Haley so Jake can see Shaniqua, selfishly refuse to stay home when Shaniqua’s show comes up, their selfishness and balking on their word put Haley in danger to begin with (she would’ve been safe had they stayed home) yet Jake has to miss the concert and Spud and Trixie get to hang out with his celeb crush in a limo.

—————————–

Ultimately, I did kinda like this episode. Haley wasn’t as annoying as she could’ve been, and she even had some moments where she was kinda sweet.

Likewise, Jake wasn’t as annoying as he could’ve been, given the situation, and he also had some nice moments. Trixie and Spud (Mostly Trixie) were basically asses, though. They destroyed Jake’s house and completely screwed him out of his chance to see Shaniqua while simultaneously putting Haley in danger (Unknowingly, but still.) Yet they get to hang out with Shaniqua while Jake fights tooth creatures and nearly takes the blame for their mess.

My other issues were with the enemy. I will admit, this episode did have some good action. While gross (I still hate teeth) and uninteresting in a design sense, the tooth minions were damn near invulnerable. The dragon tooth monster, while also uninspired design-wise, was a set piece for some decent action, but it as the main villain was terribly disappointing.

No wonder more people haven’t tried that dragon tooth trick. It’s just not worth the fuss.

‘Unspeakable evil’ my ass.

Even his motivation was dumb. He didn’t become a big tooth monster to wreak havoc or rule the world – he wanted to steal money from little children, dimes and quarters kinda stuff, because he was sick of the Tooth Fairy giving money away…..

Finally, I did enjoy the Tooth Fairy just because she has a really funny manner of speaking. She talks all sweet and cute, but then she says things that make you double-take. The fact that she legit called her lair her ‘Fa-la-la-la-lair.’ was priceless.

Next episode….

……Previous Episode

SSBS – Dinosaur King Episode 2: Battle at the Pyramids

ssbs - Dinosaur King Episode 2

Plot: Rex’s father discovers more Dino Cards. While waiting for them to arrive, a spinosaurus emerges in Egypt. Since Max is the only one with a stone and a dino, he’s is the only one able to transport himself to Egypt through use of the Dino-Holder. However, the Alpha gang has their sights set on the spinosaurus as well. Did Max and Chomp bite off more than they can chew?

Breakdown: I apologize for that pun, and this episode is pretty boring. Second episodes are usually just about establishing excess stuff that they weren’t able to establish in the first episode. The other two team members need dinos, we need to establish more things about the universe, and the Alpha gangs needs a bit more firepower to stay on even ground with the D-Team. Most of the episode is either recapping stuff we already knew, talking about nothing or quickly spewing out exposition.

All you really need to know is now Rex has a carnisaurous named Ace and the power of wind, and Zoe has a parasaurolophus, which is way too hard to pronounce and spell, named Paras and the power of nature. Zoe’s move card is also a healing ability. So yay, more female characters relegated to being support/healers! Whoo.

The Alpha Gang also caught the spinosaurus to make their numbers a bit more even, and Dr. Z fabricated a move card for the T-rex.

…..Oh and the D-Team is also massively stupid and uncaring. First, Max doesn’t notice nor care that Rex and Zoe didn’t teleport to Egypt alongside him. They could be dead for all he knew, but he doesn’t even bat an eyelash.

Second, they’re specifically fighting in the ruins of ancient Egypt because the setting makes for a better battle. And just in case you’re wondering, yes, they do flatout destroy some of the monuments. Specifically, they beheaded the sphinx and they put a massive dent in one of the pyramids. The kids don’t notice nor do they care.

Third, after they’ve destroyed parts of what made Egypt so magnificent and fascinating to begin with, they decide, after the battle, that they’ll stay in Egypt for a week and see the sights…..the thoroughly destroyed sights. Oh and Dr. Taylor and Reese also don’t care that they both destroyed some of the most beloved ancient artifacts in the world (They’re goddamn paleontologists) and are taking an unsupervised week-long trip in Egypt on the fly.

Idiots.

Even if they’re poorly CGI’d representations of the monuments, it’s really hard to root for the protagonists when they flippantly destroy some of the coolest remaining parts of ancient Egypt. They don’t even properly react when it happened. They just throw dinosaurs into them and then YAY we win!

Rating: 3/10

Next episode…..

…Previous Episode

Final Notes: Can someone tell the writers so stop trying to hard when it comes to Dr. Taylor? They are going to ridiculous lengths to make him seem like a wacky off-the-cuff character.

Kouryu Densetsu Villgust Review

Rating: 4/10

Plot: Villgust is as a peaceful land in a world parallel to ours. However, many years of peace were suddenly interrupted when an evil deity appeared and cast a dark shadow over the land. Many monsters laid waste to the countrysides, and the people prayed to their god, Windina, for help. She answered their prayers and created eight warriors to rid Villgust of the evil deity and return peace to the world.

Breakdown: I tend to get excited when I start watching old mostly unknown OVAs. Even if they’re a product of a much different and, arguably, crazier time in anime, their style, stories and characters usually draw me in.

This is, sadly, not one of those times.

Kouryu Densetsu Villgust is a two episode OVA made in 1992 to 93. It’s based off of a Famicom game of the same name that was never released outside of Japan and I’ve never played, obviously. Not that…it matters? Because it sounds like the plot isn’t the same as the OVA’s.

Wiki: “The object of the game is to rescue your girlfriend and to return to modern Japan from a parallel medieval world. The player controls five people as they fight apes and skeletons for experience points.”

As you can tell from the plot synopsis, none of this seems to mesh. There’s no girlfriend in another world. In fact, as far as I can tell, all of the characters are from Villgust, and the main characters are eight people, not five.

However, I can’t vouch for this as an adaptation, so let’s go over this anime on its merits as a standalone.

First, the plot. That is some grade-A cliché plot right there. For the love of Windina, this is basically the plot to Captain Planet. This has to be one of the oldest plots to ever see written word. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing if the story and execution are good enough, though….And they’re really not.

This show is aiming to be equal parts action fantasy and comedy. This is obvious from the fact that all of the human characters are done in mid-chibi style. Ya know, where the characters are adults but clearly smaller and made cuter, but not so extreme as to be real chibi.

Put it this way – if normal characters are drawn eight heads high and chibi characters are about three, this style is about five.

Problem is, the action’s not that good and neither is the comedy. The action is hard to take seriously since there’s the lingering contrast of the comedy and the complete lack of a villain you can take seriously.

In addition to the main baddie being the oh-so-creatively named ‘evil entity’, he’s not even who they’re fighting. The baddie for this series is Gavady – a follower of the evil entity who is impossible to take seriously because, in order to add comedy to him, they have him baby a pet frog named Antoinette. He pets him like a cat, talks to him and makes kissy faces – the fear is not happening.

The evil entity….is confusing. In the opening narration, the evil entity is created, unleashes swarms of monsters to cause destruction and terror, Windina makes the warriors, but the warriors never defeat the entity.

In fact, at the start of the series, for the most part, they don’t even know each other. They’re separated into two groups of four and only meet at the ending of episode one. They’ve never met before this and obviously never defeated the evil entity, but dialogue indicates that the evil entity was defeated somehow and his henchmen are trying their damnedest to bring him back to life.

I don’t get it. At all. I watched the opening narration four times just to see if I missed somewhere where they might have said he was sealed away by Windina or something, but no. She just creates the warriors and never says a word or even appears over the course of the entire series.

However, the evil entity is never revived. The final battle is of Gavady’s ‘true form’, which is a weird…worm….turtle….goblin…thing? The series ends on the ‘we can’t let the evil entity be revived’ note.

For a good chunk of the OVA, the enemy isn’t even Gavady – it’s his henchmen. Yup, even the henchman to the guy who is supposed to be the main baddie isn’t our main baddie.

He hatches a plan to have the warriors meet and trick them into fighting each other until they’re so tired that they can’t fight back….Let me point out that this henchmen states later that one of the reasons the followers of the evil entity had enjoyed their time of terror so far has been mostly due to the fact that the warriors had yet to all meet up… He’s even so nice as to reveal to them that they’re all the warriors of Windina….Good job.

That plot, by the way, takes up half of episode one and half of episode two. We don’t get to the point of fighting Gavady until the very end of episode two.

This includes having those frustrating super villain moments where you’re sitting there gnashing your teeth asking why, when given a perfect opportunity, do the bad guys not kill the warriors?

One of the characters triggers a huge expulsion of energy, which knocks out the warriors after having exhausted themselves from fighting each other. The bad guys have nearly all of the warriors unconscious right in front of them, exhausted beyond belief, and what do they do? They jail them, let them wake up, explain their plans, and set up an elaborate execution later on, not even questioning where the other two warriors are.

Again, good job.

I will give the ending battle this – it’s a pretty decent battle, even if he is one of those irritating grab bag of powers villains. He can make super powerful gusts of wind, has a Venus fly trap turtle shell thing, can shoot a multitude of tentacles from his mouth, turn people to stone, shoot huge bursts of fire and has three….giant facehugger worms (?) on his body. But, of course, it’s pretty predictable. They all combine their efforts together….except Bostov….to defeat him.

It’s an alright, albeit bland, story, but the plot about meticulously tricking them into fighting each other takes up way too much time. No one’s going to believe that they’re going to destroy each other or won’t figure out the trap. It’s pointless. They would’ve been better off having the entire group together at the start and building off of that.

Second, the characters. They’re a mixed bag to say the least.

Group A: First up we have Kui, who is a knight from a distant land, I think. He is sworn to protect the princess, Chris, and is her love interest. Outside of that, he’s your very typical knight character. He’s brave, noble and honorable.

Next we have Chris, the aforementioned princess, who flip flops between also being a brave warrior and being a stereotypical girl character, fawning over Kui. One minute she’s all “I’m fighting because I’m a warrior too!” and the next she’s “Ohhh, news of a bad guy nearby! Oooh I’m so scared. Hold me, Kui!”

Then we have Youta, who is a little pervy and goofy.

Finally, there’s Fanna, the only archer of the group (everyone else uses swords.) Fanna seemed alright for a while, helping out in battle and taking no shit from Youta, but she quickly becomes very irritating and another stereotypical girl character.

In her shining moment of idiocy, she’s taking a bath while the others chase some cat girl I’ll definitely get to in a minute. Because she’s alone and vulnerable, the enemy tries to sneak attack, but they’re pushed through the wall of the bath. Fanna freaks out, we cut away, and when the others arrive at the bath they see that Fanna knocked the two intruders out with rocks. That would be fine and dandy if she stayed where she was, but no.

She’s so freaked out over these two monsters seeing her naked that she does the only logical thing….she runs off alone into the forest, still naked, freaking out over them seeing her naked.

None of this particular action makes any sense. ‘Bad guys attacked me because I was alone and vulnerable. Better run off into the woods alone and naked without my bow so I’ll be as vulnerable as humanly possible. Monsters saw me naked! Better run off naked into a forest where tons of living beings, people and monsters alike, can see me naked.’

Then she collapses in the forest crying out that she’s lost….Dumb…ass.

Fanna later becomes entirely useless and is relegated to being Ryuquir’s bitch girl. Fun.

Group B: First up for Group B is Murobo, who is essentially Kui if he was much more gullible, wielded an axe, and was an anthropomorphic Red XIII from Final Fantasy.

Murobo was my favorite character, but that’s not saying much.

Second, we have Bostov, who is a slimy, perverted sack of crap. He wields a boomerang.

Next, we have Remi, the lone mage of the warriors, but don’t expect her to do much. Her one moment of usefulness is healing Kui and Murobo so they can do some actual damage to Gavady. She has no personality outside of being kind and insecure about her age and lack of physical development, which is only brought up once in a petty argument with Chris.

Finally, we have Chinese water torture incarnate, also known as Ryuquir. She is the aforementioned catgirl and one of the most annoying anime characters I’ve ever seen.

She’s a catgirl who actually acts, in all ways, like a cat. She even chases a mouse once. She’s incredibly hyper, inconsiderate, has an ungodly grating voice, and has the personality of a three year old if you gave her cat-like abilities, 30 pounds of sugar and a few hits of crack. Even her theme music is way too fast and makes me want to put a blow torch to my ear.

Not only is she annoying in every way, shape and form, but the very first time we meet her, she’s gorging herself on the village elder’s food supply without his consent – In a village where everyone is starving because they keep getting attacked by monsters.

The one positive thing I can say about Ryuquir is that she’s a good friend and brave, but friendship doesn’t not trump annoyingness.

One of the main worst aspects of Ryuquir is that she’s treated like she’s the main character on several occasions. She saves the others from peril in a big display twice, and she easily knocks away huge groups of enemies without batting an eyelash. You almost wonder if Windina really needed to create eight warriors when the seven seem like they can’t do much and Ryuquir seems like she can win this whole war on her own.

She even sings the ED of the first episode….

None of these characters get any backstory whatsoever, outside of the brief flash we get in dialogue of Chris and Kui’s story, which might be relevant to the games? None of them have any moment of character development nor do we get much bonding between them.

The two groups separately are meant to be close by default, I suppose, but outside of Murobo and Kui, who obviously bond through their fight together, the others seem kinda shoved together – literally with Fanna and Ryuquir. Youta and Bostov bond over being pervs, and – are we meant to believe Remi and Chris bonded over insulting each others ages and boob sizes?

Bottomline: Villgust does a lot of things wrong, but I’d be hardpressed to say this was a chore to sit through. It just wasn’t very entertaining. Almost all of the comedy relies on slapstick, which is seriously getting old, even back then. You really need to do something creative with slapstick if you want to get any laughs.

The action wasn’t great, with the biggest highlight being the final battle with Gavady, and even that’s not fantastic. It’s also very hard to get invested in the action when the stakes never feel real due to the comedy.

The characters are not fleshed out enough to feel much concern about them, but there is a little something there. Ryuquir is way too annoying to ignore, though.

The art and animation is decent at best and cheap at worst. The music pretty alright, but forgettable.

I’d like to see a longer series of this with a better arrangement in regards to story, and I’d like to see them actually combat the evil entity, but that’ll probably never happen.

Additional Information and Notes: Kouryu Densetsu Villgust was directed by Katsuhiko Nishijima, who also directed Project A-Ko, and was produced by animate Film. It is not currently licensed in English.

Episodes: 2

Year: 1993

Recommended Audience: Outside of some typical anime pervness and fantasy violence, there’s a tiny splat of blood. 6+

Episode One-Derland: Fractale

Plot: The world of Fractale makes everything run so smoothly that life seems nearly perfect for everyone. Many people choose to be in two places at once using doppels, which are holographic robots taking the form of the user’s chosen avatar.

Clain is a tech buff who lives with his two parents, almost always taking the form of their doppels. One day, he spots a girl being chased through the air by a blimp and watches her fall to the cliffside in an effort to escape. Clain climbs down to save the girl, named Phryne, and they start to develop a friendship. She suddenly disappears, leaving only her pin behind. Clain discovers that the pin has some old data embedded into it and is shocked when a doppel named Nessa emerges from it.

Breakdown: I will admit two things about this series. The backgrounds are beautiful, and the premise is interesting. Taking the old 1800’s style setting and combining that with a world made of robots and holograms is pretty intriguing, but as a first episode, this is cut, dry and boring.

First of all, we don’t even learn the names of our main characters until the very end of the episode, and Phryne’s is tossed into a throwaway mention. We establish that Clain is a tech junkie and Phryne is an awkward weirdo who is obviously hiding something, which is good, but I don’t feel the connection.

Second, it has a pretty tired story structure. Ordinary boy living an ordinary life has his world turned upside down when he spots a girl running away from some bad guys and rushes in to save her. He does, they spend some time together, the time involves that ever so familiar awkward sexual tension and psuedo-fanservice, and there’s some big twist at the end that starts a continuous search for a macguffin. Combine that with boring unsalted cracker characters and you’ve got something that can’t hold my interest.

I will admit, I was starting to get entertained by the ‘bad guys’ who were chasing Phryne – Enri (whose name isn’t spoken this episode) and her goons (who are her brothers?). Their shtick at the door was funny for a minute but went on for too long, and you quickly shift from thinking they’re funny to finding them insanely annoying. If these guys are the antagonists, then I see no tension in the future.

Nessa, despite only having one line, was equally annoying.

The character art is mostly forgettable, and I’ve heard from other reviews that the art in contrast to the manga art is some of the worst adaptation work ever. I’ve seen worse, honestly, but looking at the side-by-side comparisons, they are starkly different. The THEM review noted that the hair colors of Phryne and Nessa is a component to a very important plot thread later, so changing it screws up the story. I don’t know how true that is, but it’s worth noting.

The music, outside of the song Phryne sings, is nice, but it, for lack of a better term, blends in with the background. It’s like one of those songs you listen to in order to relax, but once it’s over you’d be damned trying to hum it back to someone.

I liked the song that Phryne sings quite a bit though.

The voice acting is a mixed bag. I liked Clain (Brina Palencia) and Phryne (Caitlyn Glass) but Nessa and Enri grate on the ears immensely. Which is a shame, because I usually like Luci Christian and Monica Rial respectively.

Final Verdict:

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I was less than impressed by the starter episode and no review I’ve read gives me any reason to move on beyond this point.

CSBS – American Dragon Jake Long S01 Ep03 Review

CSBS ADJL EP3

Plot: Spud tries year after year to win the talent show to honor his grandfather, who was a magician. Jake and Trixie agree to finally help him win the trophy this year, but there’s a problem. The trophy is actually an ancient chalice which seals the powerful and malicious Djinn who cannot be resealed in the chalice since the incantation to do so was lost many years ago. If the chalice gets enough liquid in it to overflow, the Djinn will be released.

Grandpa orders Jake to enter the talent show so he can win the trophy and they can keep it safely hidden forever. However, this means betraying Spud. Both Trixie and Spud are angry with him for entering the show, but Jake deals with it since he has a duty as the American Dragon.

Meanwhile, Rockwood tries to win the chalice for himself by recruiting Brad, whom he believes is a prodigy piano player after learning he’s been taking lessons for 12 years.

Jake enters as a ventriloquist with Fu as his ‘puppet’, but after some complications arise in the form of Brad’s sabotage, leading to the chalice overflowing. The Djinn is released and starts wreaking havoc in the auditorium, but everyone just believes it’s Spud’s magic show. Jake tries to combat the Djinn, but, surprisingly, Spud’s grandfather’s magic words were the resealing incantation the whole time.

Spud’s show is a hit, Jake withdraws from the competition and Spud wins the show. Later, Spud gives the chalice to Jake since he was kind enough to withdraw.

Jake apologizes to Grandpa for dropping out, but he says that it’s alright since he chose the path of a true friend and got the chalice anyway. Jake and Fu then realize they lost the chalice on the subway, and it ends up in the butt cheeks of a woman on the train.

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I was going to do my usual beat by beat breakdown of the episode, but, honestly, this episode is so boring I didn’t even bother.

First, it’s Spud-centric, so it’s already starting off weak. Spud can be a sweetheart, but he’s also not funny and he’s boring to me as a character.

Second, this whole plot is incredibly forced. I get that half of these things are supposed to be jokes, but the person who first had the chalice really felt like meeting the person buying it in a trophy factory? The chalice just happens to be perfectly trophy shaped? It just happens to wind up in Jake’s school and just happens to be the first prize in the talent show that Spud just so happens to want nothing more than to win? And Spud is really the descendant of the only person in the world who knew the incantation to reseal the Djinn? Even Spud giving him the trophy is forced because he wanted that trophy badly and Jake never explained why he needed to enter.

Third, this episode is even a waste of opportunity for the typical talent show plot jokes. When most shows like this have plots in talent shows, they usually at least have the redeeming factor of showing funny segments showing the other contestants and their funny talents. Here, they try to do that, but ultimately fail. We have a kid who does pig calls, a girl who folds origami swans really fast (which is more cool than funny) and a kid who plays the triangle.

They couldn’t even make it funny when Brad sabotages their acts. He lets a pig loose for the pig caller, which you’d think would probably help his act since he’s a pig caller. Bringing a pig out makes it seem like it’s an awesome call. He puts glue on the origami paper, which doesn’t make sense to me because they’re stacked. Wouldn’t they all get stuck together? Also, just give her a new stack of paper. And he bends the last kid’s triangle into a mangled mess. They probably have one in the band room to use, but he’s out.

Also, Trixie, at the very least, should’ve been questioning how Spud suddenly knew how to effortlessly put on this amazing Djinn vs. Dragon battle when he can barely pull off the lamest of tricks mere minutes prior. She kinda questions it at first, but quickly accepts it.

Don’t even talk to me about the ending joke.

The episode as a whole is fine, nothing offended or enraged me, but it’s so by the book, forced and boring. Fu got some good moments, but nothing great.

Rating: 4/10

Next Episode, Haley gets her first adult dragon tooth, and a new enemy has their sights set on her.

……Previous Episode

Coicent Review

Rating: 8.5/10

Plot: 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 their problems are only beginning.

Breakdown: Coicent was the other feature coupled with Five Numbers! 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 truly grew to care deeply for Toto even in the short amount of time they spent together.

Toto is a very likable and sweet girl. Her situation is sad, but she has many hopes 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. She controls her appearance through holograms or something like that. This just begs the question of how can this short really end up happily? Even if it does, she’s still an android, which means she’d never age and 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 wonderful 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.

Additional Information and Notes: Coicent was directed and written by Shuhei Morita, who also directed Tokyo Ghoul and wrote and directed Kakurenbo: Hide and Seek. It was produced by Sunrise, and it is currently licensed in English by Sentai Fimworks.

Runtime: 11 minutes.

Year: 2011

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

Episode One-Derland: The Seven Deadly Sins

Plot: Ten years ago, a slue of extremely powerful Holy Knights, guards to the King himself, were slaughtered in an instant by a band of criminals called The Seven Deadly Sins. It was rumored that after this incident, the seven of them were quickly killed, but word has it that they’re all still alive and well, wandering the countryside.

A young boy and his pig own a mysterious bar where a girl collapses while wearing a suit of rusty armor. He helps her recover, but a group of knights soon show up at the bar’s door demanding to know where the person in rusty armor is in order to interrogate them on information regarding The Seven Deadly Sins.

The boy helps the girl escape, but they’re soon cornered by the leader of the knights, a massive and ruthless man named Twigo. He identifies the girl not as a member of The Seven Deadly Sins, but as Princess Elizabeth. He has his orders to bring her back alive, but doesn’t care and attempts to kill her anyway, planning to explain it away by saying she died as an incident of battle.

In an effort to save her, the boy faces off against Twigo with a broken sword, but manages to handle him with ease. Twigo finally recognizes the boy as the legendary leader of the Seven Deadly Sins, Meliodas. He defeats Twigo with ease and he and Elizabeth set off on a quest to find the other Deadly Sins in an effort to band them together to help defeat the Holy Knights, who have secretly overthrown the king and plan to create a massive war.

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This one was suggested to me a while ago on Twitter by @hotchocolate29, also known as Meliodas Aino. Now that I know the main character of this anime’s name, I’m going to go ahead and assume they’re a fan. I always like seeking out requests and suggestions, so here I am. Sorry it took so long, though. 😦 While I usually take a while to complete whole series, I figured after all of this wait time I at least owed an Episode One-Derland to them.

So how did this fare in my eyes? Good…..but plenty of room for improvement. As a first episode, the show does a pretty good job at establishing the world, the main plot, the backstory and our main characters. They actually do a little too good of a job on the backstory part because I feel like they repeated the story of The Seven Deadly Sins a bit too much.

The story isn’t anything to write home about. It’s a pretty typical tale of super powerful sword-wielding warrior bands together with a group of other super powerful people in order to take down an evil group of powerful people under the pleading request of a princess.

Despite the fact that these guys are called The Seven Deadly Sins, I see nothing relating to the actual seven deadly sins. They’re not named as such individually and I haven’t heard nor seen any powers relating to it. It’s possible that it’s just a title, but that’s a missed opportunity if it is.

Still, with a strong cast of characters and good enough writing, even a seemingly stale plot can be a gem. And I believe they do have a pretty strong crew here.

Meliodas is pretty likable. He’s very laid back and not overly dramatic about his desire to help and save people like a lot of shounen anime protagonists. Still, I feel like he might end up as an annoying main character over time simply because he seems a bit overpowered. He blew away the bad guy of this episode without even batting an eyelash and he never seem concerned in the least. Either he has to be badass enough to let this slide or he has to face some challenge very soon. Staying like this will just drain all of the tension out of the show.

Elizabeth….is….nice….Maybe too nice. Who wakes up to someone unabashedly squeezing their boob over and over and doesn’t even react? Meliodas does it again later and she still doesn’t react. Plus, like a typical princess, she seems very much inclined to the damsel in distress trope. That trope is even more painful when you have legit knights and she’s a real princess.

Then we have Hawk, Meliodas’ talking pig sidekick……Hawk is awesome. It’s very difficult for me to enjoy talking animal sidekicks since they always seem more annoying than they are endearing, but Hawk’s just great. Practically every line that comes out of his mouth is funny, and he has great chemistry with Meliodas right off the bat. He also serves as a great foil for Meliodas on several occasions.

Twigo is probably a one-off bad guy, but he’s just a bit ridiculous. He kills everyone just because he doesn’t care. He doesn’t get some pleasure out of it, he really just doesn’t care. He’ll even flippantly kills off his own men. He doesn’t have to kill Elizabeth, in fact he has orders to bring her back alive, he just doesn’t care. I guess he just wants to kill people for some reason.

In the art department…..Okay, call me a hipster, call me old, call me a nitpicker….I just don’t like the newer styles of anime. This show has a look about it that a lot of new anime seem to have. The characters more or less have ‘baby fat face’ syndrome where there’s a lot of overly rounded edges in the face, the details seem sparse, the lines appear too thick and even the colors seem too saturated for my tastes.

I will say that all of these things, except the baby fat face thing, are probably to make more fluid animation more easily. This is actually kinda odd because shows like these tend to have moments where the animation is ridiculously cheap then they have moments that are so fluid that I feel like they’re rotoscoped. The art’s not particularly bad, and the animation can be very great sometimes, I just want to be honest in saying that the art style is really not my taste.

Music-wise, nothing really hooked with me so far but it’s very fitting for the story, tone and theme.

Final Verdict:

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It may have been a slightly disappointing first venture, but I believe this episode showed that there is enough here to keep you entertained even through the tropes and cliches. I hope this series only gets better as we move on.