Pokemon Episode 29 Analysis: The Punchy Pokemon

Pokemon Ep 29 Screen1

Cotd (s): Anthony – A Fighting Pokemon trainer who aims to train Pokemon for the Fighting Pokemon tournament the P-1 Grand Prix. Anthony’s got tunnel vision for the tournament and neglects spending time with his family because of it, but he’s still a kind person with a good heart.

Reappear?: No

Pokemon: Anthony has a Hitmonchan as his main Pokemon. He spends much of his time training it, and Hitmonchan has become a very formidable fighter because of it.

Technically, after this episode, Anthony also becomes the owner of Ash’s Primeape. According to the original dialogue, this is not a ‘see you some other time’ situation. He legit handed Primeape over to him.

Rebecca – Anthony’s daughter, Rebecca is devastated that her father spends all of his time training for the P1 Grand Prix instead of spending time at home with his family. She is so set on getting him home that she asks Ash, Misty and Brock to defeat her father in order to get him to give up his dream.

Reappear?: No.

Pokemon: None.

Departures: Ash’s Primeape.

Final Farewell: I might as well vent here to spare the rest of the analysis some ranting. You might be going ‘wha? Primeape’s leaving already? Wasn’t he just captured like three episodes ago?’ Yes, yes he was. According to my unconfirmed sources (IE word of mouth I heard years ago), supposedly the writers of the show realized that Ash was in a bit of a capture slump, having not captured any Pokemon since Krabby way back when. They also realized that Ash had a free space in his party that had yet to be filled since Butterfree’s departure. So they decided to have him capture a Primeape.

However, the writers allegedly didn’t know what to do with it after that, even though giving Ash a Pokemon he cannot control is a good standing plot point. I guess they wanted that honor to go to Chameleon/izard, though. Since they didn’t know what else to do with Primeape, they cut their losses and booted him soon after capture, which means A) they failed in their goal to get Ash more Pokemon, B) he’s now back to his confusing five Pokemon party despite having a Pokemon back with Oak that he could have with him and C) my intense hatred for giving Ash good Pokemon then chucking them away or giving them to Oak to rot until a tournament comes up starts here.

Primeape had tons of raw power and he even had personality, which makes this even worse. Did it have any goals in life? From what I saw in his only episode outside of this one, no. Perhaps just to screw around and have fun, which is fine. Primeape had potential but they just swept him under the rug never to be brought up again for reasons that I’ll bring up later as being nonsensical.

Farewell, Primeape. You deserved better.

Plot: As Ash, Misty and Brock travel to their next destination, they find what they believe is a wild Hitmonchan in the path. Ash decides that he wants to capture it, so he starts teaching Pikachu some boxing moves.

Pikachu fails miserably but manages to get one punch in on Hitmonchan. Hitmonchan’s trainer, a man named Anthony, appears and chastises Hitmonchan for letting its guard down. He tells him to return to the match, and Hitmonchan easily defeats Pikachu in a hail of punches.

Anthony’s daughter, Rebecca appears and begs her father to come back home. However, he states he won’t come back home until he’s become the champion of the local Fighting Pokemon tournament, the P1 Grand Prix. Rebecca enlists the help of Brock and his Geodude as well as Ash and his uncontrollable Primeape to enter the tournament and defeat his father in order to get him to ‘come to his senses’ give up his dream and come home.

Team Rocket also decides to enter the tournament in hopes of getting the championship belt, selling it and using the money for themselves. Since they don’t have a Fighting Pokemon, they tie up a man named Giant and steal his Hitmonlee.

Everything goes well in the tournament, for the most part. Brock is forced to forfeit on his first match out, but Primeape is doing well in his matches, especially once Ash earns his trust by diving for him when he is thrown from the ring.

In their match against Anthony and his Hitmonchan, Team Rocket cheats by gluing Hitmonchan’s foot to the floor of the ring, leaving it mostly defenseless against Hitmonlee’s barrage of kicks. Rebecca tries to protect Hitmonchan by jumping into the ring, but before she is also hit by a kick, Anthony steps in and takes the blow. Realizing the importance of his family and the futility of the match, Anthony forfeits.

The final match is Ash and Primeape against a revealed Team Rocket and Hitmonlee. They, again, try to cheat with an electro-shock device and bomb to take out Primeape, but Pikachu secretly thwarts their plans and Primeape wins legitimately. Pikachu gives Team Rocket the bomb back and sends them blasting off.

Anthony offers to take Primeape in and train him to be a true P1 champion and Ash agrees. He wishes the best in Primeape’s future training and bids him farewell.

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– Misty: “This must be one of those Fighting Pokemon I’ve heard about!” You’ve…heard about? First of all, Misty, you’re a former Gym Leader. I find it hard to believe that you never once came across a Fighting Pokemon while holding that title, especially since there are Water Pokemon, Poliwrath in Gen 1 anyway, that double as Fighting types.

Second….Mankey and Primeape are both Fighting Pokemon and you’ve seen them. That line would be better suited for Ash, but even then are Fighting types so rare that even Ash would say something like that?

– Why exactly is Ash trying to convince Pikachu to duke it out with Hitmonchan? Any idiot can see what a terrible idea that is. He has no training in hand to hand combat, Hitmonchan is obviously way more trained in it and is its friggin’ type for crying out loud, he has the power of electricity to allow him to more easily take him down and, oh yeah, Pikachu’s arms and paws are so small I’m surprised those gloves are staying on him.

If you really wanted to see a boxing match between two Pokemon maybe…oh I dunno, use your FIGHTING POKEMON. I know Ash can’t control him, but nothing else about this scene makes sense so why not?

– Narrator: “Well, everything’s been going pretty well. Misty caught Psyduck” “Caught” is being a bit generous.

“and Brock got Vulpix.” “Borrowed” would also be more fitting here.

“But Ash hasn’t captured any new Pokemon recently.” He literally caught Primeape one episode before Misty caught Psyduck and Brock got Vulpix. Being the main trainer of the group, he should be more focused on capturing, but he’s gone much longer without captures without anyone batting an eye and now the narrator’s getting on his case?

“He might be getting a little worried. But now he’ll try his luck with Hitmonchan.” Another case of the oddities starting off an episode with determination to catch a Pokemon and increase his capture rate only to not capture any Pokemon this episode and end up releasing one he has.

– “The Punchy Pokemon” is such a lazy title I could cry. It’s not even purely lazy. It’s silly too, especially for a departure episode. Why not call it “We’re too lazy to properly integrate you into the plot so, bye Primeape!” or simply “Fuck off, Primeape!”

– They’re still using the Pokemon logo in the title when it has the word in it? I’m going to keep bringing this up just because now I’m pathetically curious as to when this ends.

– I’ll actually forgive the stupid setup for Boxer!Pikachu because the actual fight is one of the funniest and most adorable scenes in Pokemon.

– I don’t understand anything about the Rocket Punch Ash taught Pikachu. He launches the boxing gloves off of his paws but then, somehow, only one of them is flying, Pikachu has the other glove back on his other paw and he’s still got the right flying glove on his paw, propelling him through the air with it.

And what about the Pikachu left behind? He wasn’t shrouded in smoke to make the illusion like he vanished. He was still there when the gloves were sent flying. I’m just imagining that, after the gloves are launched, it’s like a Benny Hill sketch with Pikachu scampering around trying to catch the left glove, getting it, then quickly running to catch up to the other glove while the smoke is still trailing to conceal him getting it back on. They really couldn’t have animated it to seem like Pikachu’s launching himself from the getgo?

Pokemon Ep 29 Screen2

……Wait….why did Ash have Pikachu-sized boxing gloves anyway?…..Ones with rockets in them…..Ash, I think Team Rocket’s stalking is getting to you more than we think.

– I always wonder about Pokemon that ‘wear clothes’ so to speak. Is Hitmonchan wearing gloves or are those its actual hands?….Is it wearing a dress or is its torso just really weird?

– Rebecca’s plan kinda sucks. Shouldn’t she be more bent on getting him the championship than defeating him? He says straight out mere lines before she asks this favor of the group that he won’t come home until he’s a P1 Grand Prix champion. Enlisting people solely for the purpose of defeating him is just going to make him want to train even harder for another year.

He’ll ‘come to his senses’ after defeat? Sure some people take losses so hard that they give up entirely, but with a guy like that the alternative is much more likely. Plus, she finds it much better that he fail in one of his main life goals instead of being there with him to help him succeed. I get that she’s lonely, but she’s being just as selfish as he is.

Now that I really think about it….this whole plan is entirely unnecessary. Either way, he’s coming home, right? At least by Rebecca’s logic. Today’s the day of the tournament. He’ll either win, prompting him to go home, or lose to someone else, prompting him to supposedly give up and go home. There is no third option. Why are Ash and Brock even needed?

– Brock: “Ash, don’t you have a Fighting Pokemon we could use?”

Ash: “Errr, what are you talkin’ about?” Ash forgot he has Primeape….Has he even been let out of the Pokeball since his capture? Is he dying in there?

– Brock, just because Geodude has fists and biceps it doesn’t mean it’s a Fighting type.

– Also, yeah, Ash has a Primeape that he can’t control and has never once bothered trying to train to the point where he’s forgotten he even has it. Brock’s Pokemon is one that is actually weak to Fighting types. Neither has had any formal training in Pokemon Boxing. These are the absolute best people to recruit to defeat Rebecca’s father, the guy who has been doing nothing but training for years for this very tournament with one of the best Fighting Pokemon you can get.

– Behold! One of the rare occasions Team Rocket actually succeeds in stealing a Pokemon!

– Why do so many people in the audience look horribly concerned as the tournament starts? They’re barely making introductions and everyone’s all mortified.

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Also, props to the kid holding up the blank banner. I’m sure someone will feel like they’re being cheered on….or heckled….or something.

– Why are they seemingly acting like Brock and Ash are a team in this tournament? The introduce them together when “Giant” and Anthony were introduced on their own is all….

– Team Rocket has a crapton of disguises on hand and they can’t add anything to Giant’s clothes to cover themselves up more? For crying out loud, Jessie’s uniform is still very visible under the collar and they didn’t even make an effort to cover up her hair.

– Continuing the amazingly cliché tradition of fixing any and all trust issues/behavioral problems by having him self-sacrifice himself, even just a little, to save the Pokemon in question.

– Misty: “It seems like everything changed when Ash dove to save Primeape. That’s when Primeape started to trust Ash.” Now channeling Captain Obvious-Brock is Misty. And, really guys, the audience is well aware of how lazy this flash in the pan character development is, no need to point it out by giving a detailed account of it.

– Why is Hitmonlee listening to Team Rocket? Surely it knows they’re not Giant, his actual owner.

– It’s a little bit on the ironic side that Anthony is telling Brock that real men know when to admit defeat. Remember way back in Pewter City? Brock is the one who both knew when to quit in order to stop himself from severely hurting Pikachu AND he basically gave Ash the gym badge on the factor of him stopping himself from hurting Brock’s Onix.

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There’s nothing to dislike about this screenshot.

– Anthony: “Time to face facts; you could lose today and win tomorrow!” Another testament as to why Rebecca’s plan is doomed to….I guess succeed….In a completely unnecessary way.

– The audience just keeps looking like they’re either saddened by what they’re watching or they don’t want to be there. What is the art department thinking?

– Anthony never realized that in order to get Hitmonchan out of the ring he’d have to unglue its foot from the floor?….And…ya know….call for the officials to come and investigate? Then have a rematch or disqualify Team Rocket?….No?….Just give up and ignore that that is the exact sequence of events that would happen in any realistic scenario? Okay.

– Also, three times in one episode, forced character/relationship development brought on through self-sacrifice.

– Oh look, Team Rocket’s revealing themselves to Ash and Co. Now Ash will alert the officials and get them disqualified for not being the contestant in question, they’ll get arrested for kidnapping and Pokemon theft and Ash will win by default. Realistic scenario.~~~~

I do love the failed motto due to James’ giving out from carrying Jessie.

– Oh look, they’ve revealed it to everyone….and not a single person seems to give a shit or point it out.

– Shocking Primeape I can understand, because you can mask that without anyone noticing what’s actually going on, but why trigger an explosion too? They’ll just call off the match or declare it a draw if Primeape ends up getting KO’d due to a random explosion that Hitmonlee obviously didn’t cause.

– Primeape suddenly learned Seismic Toss? I guess that’s alright, but how did Ash know it knew that out of the blue?

– FFS, even when the tournament is done and they’ve declared a winner, the audience is still stuck on ‘Wtf am I even watching?’ mode. Is there a gas leak in here?….and is the gas leak a fast-acting depressant?

– Why is Misty screaming ‘We did it!’? You didn’t do a damn thing outside of watch and cheer.

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While we’re on the topic, Brock, why are you up there cheering too? Primeape’s not your Pokemon and you didn’t do anything to help. Are you seriously (unfairly) teamed up with Ash here like the intros implied?

– This is the line that always kinda irked me about the reasons behind Primeape staying behind.

Anthony: “I promise to turn it into a true P1 champion!” It already IS a true P1 champion. An amazing one, considering it’s had no formal training in either regular battles or boxing-type fighting and yet won every match fairly easily. How much more of a P1 champion can it become? They should’ve said that they’d try to win more tournaments like this and make it the best Fighting Pokemon out there or something. This reason just seems poorly handled.

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This episode was….kinda boring and stupid. The setup didn’t make any sense. It was resolved at breakneck speed. There’s not enough given to either the Primeape or the Anthony story. You don’t even sympathize much with Rebecca because we barely know anything about her besides her father is hardly ever home and she misses him. Also, she sucks at making plans. There are a bunch of logistic problems that shouldn’t fly even in Pokemon. The action wasn’t that impressive. The departure of Primeape is frustrating and poorly written, especially if my intel on the reasons behind his leaving are true.

About the most interesting thing here is the Pokemon Boxing, but really they don’t do anything with the concept. They should be more about actual boxing or martial arts moves or something, but they’re no different from Pokemon battles, just exclusively with Fighting Pokemon. Ash was doing more actual boxing when he was teaching Pikachu than anyone else was over the course of this episode.

I’m still a little irked at the loss of one of Ash’s few evolved and powerful Pokemon. But hey at least I can relax now. It’s not like he’ll be getting another evolved and powerful Pokemon that he’ll shove under the rug for stupid reasons any time soon, right?

So, uh, what’s next on the docket?

Pokemon ep 29 preview

……..….….…..Pbbbbbttttt…..I give up.

Shounen Step-By-Step: Yu Yu Hakusho Episode 1

snsbs yu yu hakusho 1

Plot: Yusuke Urameshi is a punk. He frequently skips class, doesn’t try in school, gets into street fights all the time and has run-ins with basically every type of authority figure that exists. His home life is no better with a drunk lazy mom who seems to pay him no mind at all while loafing about the house. He does have friends, the model student Keiko and the fellow street punk Kuwabara, but they seem to have just as poor of a view on Yusuke as everyone else does.

One day, Yusuke sacrifices his life to save the life of a little boy by pushing him out of the way of a speeding car and getting hit in the process. Yusuke appears near his body as a ghost and is quickly greeted by a flying girl on a boat oar named Botan. She is a shinigami or grim reaper, but she’s not greeting Yusuke to take him to the afterlife, she’s there to give him one more chance to live. See, he was not set to die that day and no one in the other world believed Yusuke would ever risk his life to save a child, one that would’ve, ironically, not have died or even been hit anyway. So, Yusuke is getting a second chance to live due to the error.

Yusuke, however, is not sure he wants to return to his life since he believes everyone dislikes him and everything seems to dump more crap on him. In an effort to get him to see the true value of his life, Botan gives him some time to think about the decision.

In the meantime, Yusuke visits his wake and sees how utterly devastated most of the guests are from his mother to Keiko and even to Kuwabara and one of his teachers. He even sees the grief of the mother of the little boy he saved.

After visiting his wake and taking everything into consideration, Yusuke meets with Botan again to agree to her offer, and Botan starts setting everything up to bring him back to life.

Breakdown: This has been my favorite pilot episode to an anime for a long long time. It is just so wonderfully written, so heartbreaking and so gripping that you can’t help but care for each character, even Yusuke, deeply from the get-go.

It’s also a shining example of how English dubs can really be just fantastic. There’s so much passion and emotion put into their line-reads here that it is just one of my favorite dub jobs ever.

The only negative I really have about it is the fact that two of Yusuke’s teachers really seem like they’re over the top. I mean, one has a character design that just screams ‘weasel’, the other looks like a serial killer and they’re both such complete assholes that they’re at Yusuke’s wake being thankful that he’s dead and even making jokes about how he probably died on accident while trying to steal the boy’s lunch money.

While Kuwabara makes the most impacting scene here, you really have to appreciate the subtleties of Yusuke’s mom’s short scene. She’s just sitting on the floor not saying a word or even showing any real emotion for much of the scenes, almost like she really didn’t care, and then suddenly she just says Yusuke’s name and bursts into sobs. Even the short scene with the little boy and his mother was very well done. It reflected the kid’s inability to really process the death of Yusuke and the gravity that the entire situation had on the mother. She’s both incredibly happy that her boy is alive yet devastated that another kid had to die to save him.

I will say that, while this is just an amazing opening episode, they don’t delve at all into the actual plot of the entire series yet, that being Yusuke eventually becoming a spirit detective and this show becoming essentially a tournament fighter.

The main characters were all very well-established from the start, the atmosphere was great and this really does seem like a pretty original story.

The art basks in that lovely 90’sness that makes me smile and while the animation isn’t amazing it’s still pretty damn nice for its time, the music is wonderful and the OP and ED for this season stay very near and dear to my heart.

This was a great way to start off this awesome show, and I definitely look forward to going over this series again.

Next episode: Yusuke is brought to the spirit world to meet Koenma, ruler of the spirit world, in order to get him started on the task that he will need to complete in order to be brought back to life.

Bamboo Blade Review

Rating: 8.5/10

Plot: The Moroe High Kendo Team is in seriously bad shape. They have very few members and their instructor seems more motivated by food and money than actually helping improve his team. However, after building up a decent team of both newbies and experienced kendo fighters for the club in order to fight another school on the basis of a bet between their instructor and his old senpai, both he and the team get rared up and ready to fight harder, get stronger, celebrate the victories and deal with the losses.

Breakdown: Bamboo Blade isn’t your typical sports anime, and I say that for two reasons; 1 – it’s about kendo and 2 – the team being focused on is mostly girls. Boys really have the market cornered when it comes to sports anime.

I have to say, this show got me really interested in wanting to learn kendo. Too bad there’s no place within a reasonable distance of me to learn at.

It’s difficult for me to really analyze the story. It encompasses about one full year of the team’s various trials and tribulations. It’s a realistic look at what a team actually goes through instead of being one of those predictable sports anime, shows or movies where the underdog constantly wins because that’s the rules of sports shows.

In fact, the team is in three different tournaments in the entirety of the series and they don’t really put that much emphasis on them. I mean, yeah they’re pumped about them but they don’t showcase many matches, they don’t put a huge weight on the outcome and it’s clear that the entire tournament is really about one match or two. That’s both…disappointing and refreshing at the same time. I say disappointing because, in sports anime, it really is supposed to be a big event to have a tournament. Hell, even Pokemon gives their tournaments a few episodes at least, but in Bamboo Blade, the tournaments are always over within one episode.

Let’s talk about the characters.

Tamaki or Tama is an extremely shy (and by that I mean I had to keep my computer’s volume on high just to understand her most of the time) tiny freshman girl who also happens to be a prodigy at kendo. She was taught kendo since the day she was old enough to properly hold a shinai by her father, a well known and respected kendo instructor who runs his own dojo at their house. After showcasing her skills with a sword…..well, okay, broom, Kirino is itching to have Tama join their team, but Tama states that she views kendo as more of a chore instead of an enjoyable activity and declines.

Later, she finds out that the kendo club is being terrorized by two bullies who are the main reason why the kendo club has lost so many members. In defense of the members of the club, she beats the bullies in a match and officially joins the club.

Tama’s a very nice character and another welcome change from the loud and egotistical main characters that usually spawn up in sports anime. She’s also essentially our main focus in the show…..however, you may notice that I used a word that I really hate to use in sports and gaming anime…..’prodigy’.

Yeah, Tama’s a kendo prodigy who can’t be touched by anyone on their team, not even their instructor. She easily takes down people twice her size and age with ease and everyone is always amazed by her skills and speed. And yes, it does get annoying after a certain point because it essentially devolves into the messiah trope. Everything always rides on Tama’s shoulders and it really seems like, a lot of time, it’s up to the others to merely keep the team’s head above water while Tama ensures their win.

Tama’s not without weakness. Like I said, she’s incredibly shy to a fault. She’s quick to get flustered in situations that she doesn’t know how to deal with, as long as it’s not kendo. But when it does come to kendo she’s nearly untouchable.

I say nearly untouchable because her biggest weakness in kendo is when anyone takes the high stance, an advanced stance that Tama’s deceased mother usually took when fighting. When people take this stance against her, she always tenses up and becomes extremely distracted. However, due to the fact that this stance is for advanced fighters, hardly anyone uses it against her.

Characters like that almost always have to succumb to the other trope of the ‘fallen hero’. Eventually Tama loses a match, and because she’s such a prodigy who has never once lost a match, she is utterly shattered by this revelation that she can indeed lose to the point where she actually resigns from the team.

It’s basically like Yugi’s first loss in YGO only without the catatonic state and having a loved one’s soul on the line.

I mean, I’ve never been nearly so good at something that I’ve never lost at it, so maybe I just can’t relate, but when you’re on a team of people who frequently lose and still manage to get back up every time and learn from it, what kind of message is that sending them to quit after your very first loss EVER? Hell, her first loss coincides exactly with another character, Miya-Miya, also basically quitting kendo because she also lost in the same tournament Tama did, but the reason she quit was because she had never once WON in kendo even after training her ass off for months.

Tama is a really good character and despite the messiah-ism, she is very enjoyable to watch while fighting. To be fair, she actually had a fairly good reason for being as affected by that loss as she was. She still viewed kendo as a chore with her ultimate goal being to do nothing but win, and it didn’t help that her team was constantly shoving it in her face that she was a shoe-in and would definitely win no matter what. When she finally lost, she also lost that sense of purpose and had to decide whether she still viewed kendo as a chore or if she now truly enjoyed it.

Tama has a strong sense of righteousness and justice, which is part of what drives her to join the kendo team to begin with. This is due to the fact that Tama’s actually quite the big anime geek, most notably with a Power Rangers (or more to the point, Super Sentai) -type series called Blade Bravers. Tama’s soft-spoken and generally passive attitude can easily be felled when Blade Bravers or anime is involved, She’s especially inspired by the leader of the Blade Bravers, the Red Braver, whom she bases much of her personal philosophy on.

Her one true rival over the course of the series is actually someone who idolized a character named Shinaider, a villain and I guess anti-hero in Blade Bravers.

Ishida is the team’s instructor and, at first, he really comes off as a lazy and somewhat flippant kendo instructor. He leaves most of the team’s activities to the team captain, Kirino, in the beginning and really only becomes inspired to actually make something of his team after gathering more members for a match between his girls’ team and that of his old senpai, Ishibashi, on the basis of a bet.

Ishida lives paycheck to paycheck and is constantly scrounging together money, even from his students, to barely be able to eat. Thus the bet is that Ishibashi will take him out to a sushi dinner if he wins and Ishibashi gets the trophy Ishida won from their last kendo tournament if he loses. Ishida doesn’t give a crap about the trophy, he just wants the sushi.

However, he eventually matures and grows to deeply care about his team and wishes nothing more for them than to grow and get stronger while also having as much fun as possible.

Kirino is the team captain and has been called the heart of the team by Ishida. Kirino is by far the most enthusiastic and optimistic of the team and she basically stood as the team’s sole member before recruiting the others.

Kirino is always the first to cheer on her teammates and she does it loudly and proudly. She is also not one to ever discount or look down upon fellow team members, no matter their skill level or even their attitude. She seems like a really great person to have as a friend. Kirino’s biggest weakness is the fact that she overextends herself to please others and always puts on a smiling face no matter how much she’s going through.

Yuji is one of very few male members of the team and he’s a very handsome lawn ornament—I mean character! Yeah that…Look as much as I like Yuji as a character, he’s very nice, well spoken, knowledgeable in kendo etc…..he doesn’t do much…He’s just kinda there. He gives pep talks to characters, usually Tama, but as a team member, he doesn’t do much.

See, since the focus is mostly on the girls’ team, this means that almost all of the male team’s activities are non-existent. Yuji usually spars with the only other active male member of the club, that he actually recruited, Danjuro or Donny and really that’s about the only person you even see him fighting at all. It’s a shame too because Yuji seems to be almost as passionate and knowledgeable at kendo as Tama. He was on his junior high team and was part of the dojo that Tama’s father runs. It’s also implied that Yuji and Tama have a bit of a thing going together, but the hints that are there are fairly subtle and they’re both clueless about the opposite sex.

It’s even worse considering that he doesn’t even really grow or change at all over the series. Donny at least shows that he’s getting better and has clear weaknesses that need to be addressed (his height allowing for easy head strikes) while also showcasing his actual strengths. With Yuji, there’s nothing. Again, he’s just kinda there.

Danjuro or Donny as he’s nicknamed in the English dub, is a very short and weird looking little guy who is full of enthusiasm and on some occasions himself. He’s recruited by Yuji after Ishida informs him that they need more members, though his membership is basically moot since, as I said, the boys’ team really does nothing.

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Donny’s a very laid back and kind individual as well as being Yuji’s best friend, but he’s mostly preoccupied with his girlfriend, Miya-Miya, who most people can’t believe he’s dating due to their stark contrast in physical appearance. They’re usually being incredibly lovey-duvey with each other. It’s somewhat weird in the first few episodes, but their relationship actually grows and becomes very sweet over time……even if Miya-Miya initially liked Donny because he reminded her of her old pet pangolin….

Speaking of Miyako or Miya-Miya, she was arguably the most complex character and a really surprising one at that. When she first showed up, she really seemed like she’d be an annoying ditz who only cared about her boyfriend and nothing else, but she evolves quite a bit and there is definitely more to her than meets the eye.

Miya-Miya is actually a very angry, dark and violent individual to the point where she’s almost a bully to some people, especially Azuma. When not talking to or being looked at by Donny, she presents a visible dark aura that freaks out nearly everyone. She’s recruited by Donny and initially finds kendo boring, but the darker side of her loves the fact that she gets to fight. She is the greenest member of the team alongside Donny, but whereas Donny (supposedly) grows so much to the point that Yuji says he might surpass him by the time they graduate, Miya-Miya struggles quite a bit and never once wins a match over the course of the series until the very end.

She has two big weaknesses; 1 – The fact that her anger and that she loves to hit people seriously gets in the way of her moves. She fights very aggressively and while this can sometimes work to intimidate fighters, it also results in very sloppy swings, attacks and footwork, allowing her opponents to easily find openings for attack. Sometimes, this anger even causes her to make possibly dangerous moves. For example, she’s the first to showcase a throat strike, which is considered the most dangerous legal move in kendo that only advanced fighters are supposed to employ.

2 – She has a stalker from her old school named Reimi who freaks her out so much just at a glance that she quickly loses concentration and ends up losing. She does eventually get much better both in attitude and skill, and I’m always up for an underdog story.

Saya is Kirino’s best friend and the only other lasting member of the kendo club besides Kirino and the bullies, Iwada and Toyama, before the others join. However, Saya’s initial participation in the club was widely unreliable because of how consumed she gets by wanting to create a wonderful song or great story.

She always finds failures in these areas, which commonly devastates her to the point where her friends treat her outbursts of depression and even suicidal remarks with flippant responses. Saya doesn’t really change much over the course of the series either, but she is a very close friend to Kirino and is always the first to realize when something is wrong with her.

Azuma is the final member of the team to join in order to make a full five member kendo team to be official in tournaments. It takes her half the series to actually become a character with only very brief appearances beforehand. There’s sadly not much to say about Azuma. Both the ED and the OP make her look pretty bad as I had assumed that she was going to be one of those incredibly annoying characters whose only schtick is constantly falling over, but she’s actually fairly bland.

She’s a talented kendo practitioner who ended up quitting kendo when she reached high school. Despite her hard work, constant studying and dedication to her schoolwork, her grades continuously falter because she’s so scatterbrained and makes little mistakes that end up costing her greatly. Since her parents believed kendo was only distracting her more and making her worse, she promised to give up kendo to improve her grades. However, it was noted that she is actually incredibly focused and calculating when she is fighting, and she was convinced by the team to hone these skills to actually help her grades. Along the way Kirino and Donny, who are actually some of the best students at the school, help improve her with her schoolwork. However, this plotline is never brought up again after she joins so we just have to assume it worked.

Azuma is somewhat of a doormat, and she’s the target of some abuse by Miya-Miya. However, despite this, Azuma actually becomes somewhat of Miya-Miya’s own personal kendo teacher, especially after Miya-Miya finds a drive to train much harder in order to beat an American opponent (who obviously has a bitchy attitude, snotty manner of speaking, red hair, huge lips and huge boobs) named Carrie who also has a crush on Donny because he reminds her of her pet armadillo.

Can I just say it’s insanely weird to want to pursue a relationship with someone on the basis that they remind you of an animal?

There are various side characters, mostly opposing kendo teams, who get varying degrees of spotlight. Most of these characters are funny and likable, but they didn’t get enough spotlight in my opinion. I would’ve liked to have seen a sequel to get a rematch against most of the people we saw them fight.

In terms of learning about the sport, you do learn a fair degree about the footwork, stances, terms, strikes and strategies involved in kendo, and I really enjoyed learning about the sport as it’s always been one to intrigue me after seeing it showcased in several forms of media.

This show handles both the drama and the comedy extremely well. None of the drama was unbelievable or seemed like it was thrown in to hook audiences. Some of the situations seemed a bit hokey like the tournament involving a serious cheater (and by serious I mean she injures people before the match to either make them quit before the match even starts or to humiliate them and make them suffer during the match if they decide to fight anyway) but it’s nothing too drastic.

Art: The art was very sharp, bright and appealing. It mixed a shoujo-like style with more realistic very well. The animation was also very fluid and clean with nary a hiccup or odd scene in sight.

Music: I really loved the music, OP, ED and BG for the series. It’s somewhat generic, but it adds its own flare to make it more unique. Although, I’d like to know what ‘I’m calling the star rise’ means….I will say that one of the sentimental pieces of BG music was starting to get irritating. Considering that there’s one to five tender moments in nearly every episode, it starts to get grating, but only towards the very end.

Voice acting: English – Funimation provides superb quality yet again. The English dub was excellent, maybe one of their best works I’ve seen so far. Only thing I’d note is that Tama is just too quiet sometimes.

Bottomline: This is a very enjoyable sports anime with plenty to enjoy in terms of characters, story, comedy, drama and of course kendo. Even if you don’t like sports anime or kendo, this is still a good watch just for the characters, comedy and the actually believable storyline.

Recommended Audience: This show is basically as clean as you could possibly get. Even the episode that states ‘first public bath’ shows no nudity (in fact, I’d call foul on that title because they completely skip the bath scene entirely). There’s no real swearing, no sex, no blood, no gore. The absolute worse thing that happens is one of the characters injures their ankle, and even that’s just a bad sprain. E FOR EVERYONE!

SnSBS – Medabots Episode 2

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Plot: Ikki is a psuedo-celebrity in school after his robattle victory over the bandits. However, he cannot gain the respect of or authority over Metabee. After a lot of fighting, Ikki decides he’s had enough with his ‘defective’ Medabot, but requires his assistance when the student council calls on him to help them beat the Screws and get their meeting room back.

Medabot Debuts:

Totalizer: A TOT type Medabot, Totalizer’s design is based off a turtle. However, not much is known about it’s battle capability since it’s never seen fighting in the anime. However, its technical specs claim that it has speedy firing capability. One can assume, like the turtle its based on, that Totalizer has great defense.

Banisher: A BAN type, Banisher’s design is based heavily on bancho, like its Medafighter, but it’s extremely fragile. Banisher’s model is unique in that it has no ability to attack first. It must be a counterattack. Not that it ever gets a chance to do such a thing.

Battles:

Ikki vs. Samantha: Winner – Ikki: Peppercat loses right arm to Metabee.

Ikki vs. Baron von Banish: Winner – Ikki: Banisher loses legs to Metabee.

Breakdown: Today’s episode starts with Ikki being egotistical and a complete asshole. Swell. Ikki is high off of his victory from the last episode and becomes full of himself. However, Metabee is refusing to take orders from him, and well he should.

I may not be Metabee’s biggest fan, but Ikki is acting like a complete asswad to Metabee. He’s furious that Metabee is sitting at the table reading the paper because he shouldn’t be doing anything that he doesn’t command. And when he takes out the trash, possibly freeing Ikki from the chore, he’s outraged that Metabee will follow his mother’s directive without issue but not his. Metabee even gives a good argument as to why he’s obeying Ikki’s mom – because she’s providing him with free room and board and he believes he owes it to her.

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To make his rage even more apparent, he tells Metabee to throw himself out in the trash when he’s done. How nice. Don’t talk with him or try to understand why he’s not obeying you – Just keep insulting and yelling at him for doing innocent things and helping out. Keep in mind, Metabee is disobeying him in the most polite way possible. I know he’s been disobeying him since the start, but even that was due to Ikki screaming at him and insulting him.

You’re really going to make me do something I usually don’t do – Praise Ash Ketchum. When Ash was first starting out as a Pokemon trainer, his origins were much like that of Ikki’s. He really wanted a Pokemon but hadn’t been able to acquire one until the first episode. His partner (Also yellow, coincidentally) completely disobeyed him as well. However, whereas Metabee disobeys Ikki because Ikki’s a twat, Pikachu disobeyed Ash because he thought he was an idiot and didn’t want to follow a human’s command.

Ash tried to talk with Pikachu and gave in to some of Pikachu’s more demanding quirks like not getting into his Pokeball and shocking people with little provocation. Despite it being the only way to keep him under decent control, he also quickly conceded on using rubber gloves and leading Pikachu by a rope since it was more respectful of Pikachu. He did try to be a commanding trainer a bit, but it was smoke and mirrors and he wasn’t being an ass about it.

Ash did eventually get fed up with the situation and started trying to do things on his own that would require a Pokemon’s assistance, like trying to capture a Pidgey. However, while he was being a bit silly and misguided, it was at least understandable that he was brought to this point. People don’t like to acknowledge it, but early Pikachu was an ass. Dealing with such a Pokemon on your first time out is plenty to get frustrated over. And he did need to get his journey up and running. If his Pokemon won’t cooperate for the time being, he has to do something to try and further himself, even if it is silly.

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Now imagine if Pikachu was cooperative and pretty chill. It had some issues in battle, but nothing it couldn’t get around. It was helpful and liked to just hang out. Would Ash’s frustration and subsequent reactions make sense in that scenario?

Now imagine if Pikachu acted that way and instead of just getting fed up and trying to do things himself, he constantly yelled at Pikachu and called him a rat who deserved to be thrown in the garbage. You’d probably think Ash was a huge bag of dicks.

Another thing to keep in mind here is that Ikki is lucky he even has a Medabot at all, like Ash was lucky he even got Pikachu since he slept in and all of the main starters were taken. This was also a theme in another shounen anime, Megaman NT Warrior. Kid without super cool cyber being gets cool cyber being and ends up being completely ungrateful for a time, even saying he wanted to send it back, because it wasn’t quite the way he wanted it, even though Megaman was completely cool and powerful. Ikki, however, is by far the worst example here since he’s an amalgamation of all of the examples and amplified.

Ikki heads to school and tells Metabee to stop following him since Medabots aren’t allowed in school….say what? The very first scene of the first episode was a Medabot battle taking place in school – and with the student council president no less. Since when are Medabots not allowed in school at all?

After some more bitching and moaning, he runs into Henry and bitches and moans that the Medabot he sold him was defective. Henry explains that he’s at no fault for the issues he’s having with Metabee by explaining again how Medabots work. Medabots are comprised of a skeleton, a body and a medal. Henry sold him the skeleton and body, but Ikki found the medal. Since the medal is a Medabot’s equivalent to a brain, if anyone is to blame for his behavior, it’s Ikki.

When Ikki arrives at school he finds that Erika has posted a clearly digitally painted article (complete with typos: “I’m sre” is meant to be “I’m sure”, and “juibilant” is meant to be “jubilant”) posted on the wall, essentially glorifying Ikki’s victory over the bandits from the last episode, making him a school-wide sensation.

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Ikki relishes in the spotlight for a minute before Metabee shows up and starts trying to sign autographs. His adoring fans are quickly brought down when they see that Metabee won’t obey its MedaFighter. Metabee, getting irritated, starts shooting up the school….I’m not kidding. He did it earlier in the scene with Henry and Ikki too. He gets a little mad then starts shooting off his guns everywhere. And I don’t care if the sounds effects are more ‘pew pew’ than ‘pow pow’ that’s still obviously a machine gun.

After the shooting, which hardly anyone seems to be batting an eyelash at, Samantha orders Sloan to battle Ikki and take out their rising threat. Sloan calls out his Medabot, Totalizer, and they try to start the match when Coach Mountain puts Totalizer in a headlock and stops the match since it’s against school rules. Just because we haven’t had a lot of pointless scenes in this episode. Or I guess they wanted to establish Sloan’s Medabot since it will never be in the show ever again.

I love how Ikki’s more concerned over possibly getting expelled due to him almost having a robattle in school when his Medabot just performed a school shooting that he was mostly unconcerned about.

Metabee then says the only reason he was in school anyway was because he went home before, like Ikki said, and his mother sent him back with his notebook. Just when you think the two might start getting along a little better, Metabee reveals that he ran the notebook through the dishwasher before he left because it was dirty, and since it’s an electronic notebook, it’s completely ruined (I don’t know why I pointed out that it was ruined due to being electric since even if it was a paper notebook it would still get ruined) I’m not really clear on whether Metabee did that on purpose.

Ikki tells Metabee to leave and that he never wants to see him again. He does and the series ends.

The end

Nah, that’s too easy.

Later, Ikki finds a love letter from a secret admirer in his locker telling him to meet her behind the school. However, it was really a trick by the student council. They want to contract him out to robattle the Screws and get them the student council office that they lost access to in the start of the previous episode. After giving his ego a few strokes and promising him the title of student council vice president if he wins, Ikki agrees to take down the Screws.

Henry captures Metabee by baiting a net with a watermelon…..yeah, the logic is that since Metabee is a beetle type Medabot, he can’t resist the allure of watermelon…..Because that’s a reasonable feature to put into a Medabot medal – realistic instincts of the animal the medal is based on. Look out, Peppercat, you’ll be foiled by that ball of yarn!

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Ikki and Samantha face off. Samantha brings forth Peppercat and Ikki tries to call Metabee, but realizes his medal is not in his Medawatch. Medals need to be installed in the medawatches in order to call forth the Medabot. Once the Medabot emerges, the Medafighter installs the medal in the Medabot. (Can we please tone down the words that have the word ‘meda’ in them? I’m going to go nuts.) However, Ikki realized in an earlier scene that Metabee’s medal cannot be ejected remotely due to errors, and Henry couldn’t do it manually since Metabee wouldn’t let him (which spurred the aforementioned first shooting).

Since he cannot teleport Metabee to the match, he has to go looking for him. He finds Metabee being hauled off by Henry and demands for his release. Henry says that Metabee is clearly defective like Ikki said and seems willing to take out his medal and replace it with a ‘properly working’ one. Ikki considers the arrangement, but backs down. Not because he’s grown to care about Metabee – But because he’s all he’s got at the moment and really needs to go battle.

What nice character development. We’ve gone from ‘I hate you, you’re garbage, I never want to see you again’ to ‘he is defective and I’d like to take his brain out and replace it with a better one, but right now I have to protect my fragile ego in front of a bunch of people I don’t give a shit about for a position I’m not qualified for nor do I want. He’s all I got, so gimme.’

It’s just so touching.

Somehow his pathetic half-hearted begging is enough to get Metabee to agree to battle for him. The music indicates that I’m supposed to feel feelings now.

Feelings have failed to load. Please contact the administrator.

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Metabee and Ikki go off to battle and Henry says this annoying sentence:

Henry: “They’re two of a kind. Arrogant, hot-headed and destined for greatness.” Yay, these two annoying egotistical jack-offs are destined for greatness. I can’t wait to sit through 91 episodes to see it come to fruition.

They go back to the park and start the robattle. Metabee has a lot of difficulty dealing with Peppercat’s electric attacks, but Ikki gets the bright idea to shoot the fountain, causing water to spray all over Peppercat, shorting her out. You’d think a Medabot whose main attack is electricity would have more preventative measures against water, but I’m not expecting much in the realms of intelligence from the Screws.

Also, Ikki, I’m sure the owners of the park really appreciate you shooting and destroying their fountain that would probably cost thousands of dollars to replace.

With one rocket launch, Peppercat is defeated. Samantha falls to the ground in horror since ‘The Big Cheese’ that they mentioned before Sloan was sent to battle Ikki will not be happy that they lost. The Big Cheese is named Baron von Banish, a supposedly powerful being who leads the Screws and runs the entire school from behind closed doors. Everyone shudders and whispers at his name, believing him to be merely a rumor and claiming no one’s ever seen him before.

A huge imposing figure in bancho attire approaches and challenges Ikki. He brings forth his Medabot, Banisher and they start the mat—you know what. I was going to go all the way with a big buildup to get to the punchline of this whole minor-ish-not-really-it’s-actually-total-filler-this-guy-has-no-point-sub-plot, but they basically spoil what will happen right here.

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See, when they do the Index screen for Banisher, they say its special ability….is a strong appearance.

If you can put two and two together, you can instantly surmise that he just looks tough but is actually a pushover. And lo and behold, he is. He takes literally one shot from Metabee and loses. Baron himself collapses and starts coughing, revealing he’s also a sickly pushover, and he just walks away without even breaking his tough guy character. And despite his sickly nature and the fact that his Metabot was just defeated depressingly easily, the Screws still worship the ground he walks on. I don’t get it. The Screws are stupid, but I wouldn’t think they’d be quite that stupid.

That sure was a thing that happened. What a fun two minutes that was.

Metabee and Ikki bask in their victory for a moment before the student council president gives Ikki the title of vice president. Believing Ikki just used him for the sake of a title, with Erika so helpfully giving photo proof to support this, Metabee starts shooting at Ikki because gun violence against children is hilarious according to this episode.

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Final Notes: This episode was terrible. The plot was just scraps leftover from the first episode, both battles were disappointingly short and easy, especially for Ikki considering this is his second robattle ever, there was the stupid and utterly pointless ‘big cheese’ filler, and when you can make cheese filling bad, you’re doing something very wrong.

What’s worse is that Ikki doesn’t learn a damn thing. He treats his Medabot like crap even though it’s not doing anything to deserve it (until the shootings anyway) and he gets high on himself for something he didn’t even really do only to come out on top twice in the end. He gets the vice president position, everyone’s either crushed over being trounced by him or singing his praises, only to serve more ego stroking, and he gets Metabee to listen to him even though he did nothing to earn it outside of saying ‘yeah, you suck Metabee, but you’re all I got so will you battle for me?’

The only form of comeuppance for him is Metabee shooting at him, and that’s both over the top and something that won’t impact him at all anyway. And he’s trying to weasel out of Metabee getting mad over it, saying they’re lying about him wanting to get Metabee back for the sake of trying to win the student council position, but that’s a damn lie. Maybe he didn’t care about the position, but he cared about looking like a badass in front of his classmates and he did seem honored to have the title either way.

Next episode, Coach Mountain is acting odd. He’ll need to recruit Ikki and Metabee to help him with a serious problem.

Alien Nine Review

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Rating: 7.5/10

Plot: Aliens invaded the earth some time ago and now schools are tasked with selecting three people from each class to be Alien Fighters. The Alien Fighters are given borgs, frog-like aliens with wings and drill-like cables that sit on their heads and act like their protectors. Yuri Otani, the world’s biggest friggin’ crybaby on the face of the planet, is selected as being one of the three Alien Fighters for her class because I guess they just wanted to pawn the job off on her along with Kumi, a strong independent fighter who is seen as the mature one in the group, and Kasumi, who couldn’t be more excited to have the job. While much of their job is seen as busywork, the aliens do pose a threat far greater than what you’d imagine.

Breakdown: This is a short four episode OVA and I gotta say this is one of those shows that starts off rocky but ends up leaving you wanting so much more.

I first thought this series to be some parody of alien apocalypse anime. I mean, come on. Logistically, this makes no sense. Aliens invade and instead of military involvement, police or anything, they assign three kids from various elementary school classes to take care of aliens who roam around the school grounds armed with rollerblades and said borgs.

Also, they’re not allowed to kill the aliens. Well, they are allowed, but they’re strongly urged to merely tranquilize the alien and bring it into some pen at school. The reasoning is that they’re living beings too and they should respect their lives, but when they’re the ones trying to kill you; well, they obviously don’t respect your life so….

However, when a borg senses that their master is getting too scared of the threat and believes that they will die, the borg freaks out and kills the threat. Guess who sets this action off….twice. Just guess.

I suppose that’s as good of a lead-in as ever for the character bios. Yuri is our main character, and I swear to god if you thought Shinji from Evangelion was a whiny twat, you’ve never seen Yuri. She does nothing….and I mean nothing….but whimper and cry and say she’s scared. 99.9% of her screentime is that. I’m not even kidding.

You may see her smile once or twice, but it’s that awkward smile where your brow is still furrowed and it seems like you’re fake smiling to fit in. Even when she’s not on alien duty, even before she got picked, even when she’s just having fun on summer vacation with her friends, she was a whiny little cry baby.

I give Shinji and Yuri some leeway because they’re kids who were thrown into very dangerous situations and told to fight aliens who may very well kill them and their friends. However, there’s only so far I can go with that, and Yuri crosses that line so, so, so much. Considering she was this way before she even got selected, I give her even less leeway.

What’s worse is that, by the end, she’s not much better. She watches one of her friends getting attacked and does jack about it because she’s too busy whimpering. The only reason she does whatever minut thing she does at the very end is because Kumi was quite literally holding her hand.

She’s such a detriment to the team that I really wonder why no one will let her quit or even just purposely kick her off the team. The only times she ever gets anything done is when her borg tries to protect her and sometimes kills the enemy when she gets too freaked. Give Shinji some credit, at least he fought when he had to most of the time.

I loved the crap out of Kumi because she was the only one willing to be completely blunt about how much of a crybaby Yuri is. She’s a little cold, but she lightens up by the end.

Kasumi was pretty okay in the first half, but working my nerves in the second because of how happy-peppy she is and how she constantly says “NYA!”

Miyu, Yuri’s best friend, was also a good character though she had little in terms of personality.

While this show started out seemingly lighthearted, especially considering the artwork, it gets pretty damn dark, particularly the final episode. I was pretty surprised by the sudden turnaround from “being an alien fighter means you get to skip homework!” to sudden alien massacre, psychological warfare and conspiracies.

I won’t spoil the ending, but it is a great advertisement to read the manga. That’s basically what this is – just a sneak peak into the manga because we learn quite literally nothing of what’s actually going on.

We don’t know who’s sending the aliens, why the teacher and principal seem to have something to do with it, why they seem to have borg-hair, why the Yellow Knife was sent, what he meant by “It was your fault” and, I’m going to give two major spoilers here, so fair warning;

but at the very end, we don’t know if the Kasumi we see is actually Kasumi or something the alien made and we see that Kumi, during the end credits no less, suddenly got attacked by something and supposedly murdered in the library. What the hell happened to her? And why was she on alien duty anyway if her borg was out of commission?

End of spoilers.

The reason I took points off was for that ending and for Yuri. She is one of the most annoying anime characters I’ve ever seen. If they made her grow some semblance of a pair near the end, it wouldn’t have been as bad, but nope.

I plan on reading the manga because ‘m really interested to know what happened, so here’s hoping the manga does explain it.

Art and Animation: The art is………good, barring the faces of the people. They have huge eyes, which is usually fine, but they’re even big for anime standards. The eyes themselves also don’t look well-drawn, they’re craggy and awkward. They have small noses when seen from the front, but when you look at them from the side, no noses. Their ears are also friggin’ huge. Barring that, however, the art is pretty good and the animation is very well done.

Music: The ending theme was nice, the OP was forgettable. Nothing much to say about the BGM.

Voice Acting: EnglishEveryone was great in their roles, even whiny Yuri. I will say I was distracted by Rachel Lillis, the voice of Misty from Pokemon, playing Miyu. Veronica Taylor, Ash and May from Pokemon, also plays their teacher, Megumi, but I honestly didn’t catch on that that was her. Miyu was sporting Misty’s voice clearly, however. I really only note this because I found it funny that Rachel Lillis, who plays Misty, was playing in an anime with a character named Kasumi. Kasumi is Misty’s Japanese name.

Bottomline: At four episodes, it’s definitely worth a watch, but Yuri was seriously pushing it with her whining and crying. It does end with a lot of questions left unanswered and even has an actual cliffhanger that basically forces you to read the manga.

Additional Information and Notes: Alien Nine was based on a manga written by Hitoshi Tamizawa, though he doesn’t seem to have anything to do with this OVA. The OVA itself was directed by Yasuhiro Irie, director of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Code:Breaker, and Jiro Fujimoto who directed some episodes of Wagnaria!!3, Samurai 7, Kaze no Stigma and The Familiar of Zero. It was written by Murai Sadayuki, who also wrote the screenplay for Steamboy, the script for Perfect Blue and even some episodes of Cowboy Bebop.

Alien Nine was produced by JC Staff, and is currently licensed in the US by Central Park Media.

Year: 2001-2002

Episodes: 4

Recommended Audience: Some dark themes, blood, blood and gore on the alien’s side (meaning pea-soup green gore and blood) a little nudity, but you don’t see anything, technically. It is full frontal, but they do the Sailor moon thing with it. No nips, no naughty bits. No sex, some swearing here and there, but no f-bombs. 14+

Shounen Step-By-Step: Dinosaur King Episode 1

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Plot: The time of dinosaurs was seemingly over until Max and his friends found a little dinosaur inside of a rock that fell from the sky. With the power of an accompanying card, the dinosaur can both be recalled back into the stone and grow into a huge and powerful dinosaur. These dinosaurs aren’t around for no reason, however. With a threat looming over the horizon, they’ll need the dinosaur’s help to take them down.

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Okay, time to go over my history with Dinosaur King.

……..I don’t have one. 😀

I vaguely remember this being on TV, never watched it and never saw or heard much of it. But it’s a shounen card game ish anime so here I am.

Our story starts off with ugly images of Dinosaurs and a meteor hitting the earth and killing them all before we see our main character, Max, waking up, indicating that the images were merely a dream brought on by his dinosaur book.

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Max is voiced by Veronica Taylor doing absolutely nothing to differentiate her voice from her Ash voice, making this really distracting.

He sees a light in the sky that crashes into the nearby mountains and is excited at the idea that it’s a meteor. He wakes up his friend, predictably named Rex, to go investigate and we get our theme song that has all the marks of a 4Kids theme song. Dumb lyrics? Check. Catchy? Check. Rapping? Major check.

Also, this theme song gives us a sneak peak at the disgusting CGI that is in this show. I really mean it. On its own, it’s pretty okay, but meshed with the traditional 2D style of the anime it’s atrocious.

Max, Rex and his other friend Zoe, who make up something called the D-Team, go to investigate. Max, by the by, has a visor with big horns on it because dinosaur. Also, these horns light up for some reason. They see a bunch of damaged trees and Max thinks the meteor must be in a tree that has a big hole in it.

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Max finds some weird rock in the tree with a lightning bolt on it, so he must’ve found Pikachu. Rex find another stone with a symbol for wind on it while Zoe finds a third stone with a symbol for grass.

Max presses some button on the rock, causing them all to glow for a minute. After the glowing subsides, Max finds another item in the tree that contains two…..trading cards…..Okay. I’ve seen dumber things in shounen shows. Bakugan rings a particular bell in that regard. The cards have equally clashing artworks of triceratops on them, and he notices that the symbols of the backs of the cards match the symbol on the stone. He basically scans the cards with the stone and summons a triceratops.

They freak out for a bit, and Max does something that puts the triceratops back in its card. He decides to scan the card again….because why not I guess, and he summons a chibi-ceratops that he later names Chomp because he bites everything.

Cut to a bunch of dinosaurs fighting in an arena, we’re introduced to who I suppose is our villain; Dr. Z. He wants to be king of the dinosaurs and if he is our villain you can already tell that he’s really no threat. He has a bumbling sidekick and he’s constant comic relief.

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rawr

A T-Rex breaks through the house and starts chasing Dr. Z before it’s turned into a chibi-T-Rex by some little girl named Laura.

A stereotypical German maid woman named Helga storms into the scene scolding everyone and telling them their dinner’s ready, and we’re made aware that Dr. Z is apparently in love with Helga.

Stoic guy with blue hair #24234C named Seth arrives and the story of these people is laid out very blatantly in a few lines of dialogue: they have a time machine, they’re stuck, their time machine’s broken and when the time machine broke Dr. Z lost his collection of dinosaur cards and they were scattered across the world.

Dr. Z uses a device that alerts him to the location of one of the cards and they prepare to leave before the commercial.

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Back with Max and the others, they explain their situation to Max’s dad who happens to be a dinosaur expert. He’s perfectly fine with the dinosaur thing and is actually really excited about the discovery, but wants to keep it a secret for safety’s sake. Max’s mom comes in and they convince her that Chomp is actually just a really odd dog who followed Max home. She believes them because….she’s dumb, and lets Chomp live at their house as long as Max takes care of him.

Dr. Z sends his minions, who call themselves Alpha Gang, off to capture the dinosaurs while Max’s dad and Zoe’s older sister, Reese, do research on the stones.

We get a really convoluted and silly theory as to how these stones and cards work. Max’s dad, Spike Taylor (of course), theorizes that the dinosaurs’ consciousnesses were sealed within the stones right before dinosaurs went extinct. Someone outfitted the stones with microchips that somehow have the ability to turn the dinosaurs into cards. When activated, the cards turn back into dinosaurs and for some reason when they’re scanned again they turn into chibi dinosaurs. When scanned a third time they return to card form.

Back with Max and the others, the Alpha Gang arrives and attacks with their T-Rex….Terry (of course…again)

Spike arrives and tries to capture Terry with a net and obviously fails. Terry keeps trying to get at Chomp and Max. Chomp tries to fight back, but obviously the little guy is no threat to a giant T-Rex in chibi state.

Spike throws Max some fancy device and, get this, it works just like the stone only easier. Yeah apparently in the time frame of a few hours, Spike managed to understand fully how the stones, chips and cards worked, managed to replicate the technology on his own and make the process easier, designed and produced the device…..Not only that, but he also managed to write a manual for it that is like 5000 pages.

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Right. Sure. Then again, I feel really stupid nitpicking that considering this is a show where actual dinosaurs are kept in trading cards and summoned with rocks.

Obviously this device was created so quickly so that they could get the toy line out faster….

Max saves Chomp by recalling him back to card form with the device and then he scans the card into the device triggering a transformation sequence for Chomp into his regular dinosaur form. Considering they did this a few times already without this transformation sequence, I find this to be even more pointless than usual transformation sequences. Additionally, this sequence is segued by a little screen on the device so I’m left wondering if Spike actually programmed this sequence into it….

Zoe: “Another dinosaur!”

Spike: “Where did this one come from?”

What? You mean Chomp? Zoe and Rex have seen him transform three times now. Spike has seen him transform. They know that those cards call a triceratops. They can’t be confused about Terry either because they’ve been well aware of him since he appeared. What the hell are you people confused about?

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Terry and Chomp battle and for some reason the background is mostly changed to CGI while they’re battling. I would say this is welcome, but now that I’ve gotten used to the ugly clashing with traditional animation, this looks even uglier somehow.

Chomp’s losing because, well duh, and Max starts panicking. The device starts glowing red as Chomp gets more damaged because I don’t know and the other card that Max found pops out of it. He scans that card and it….gives him lightning powers? What the fuck does a triceratops have to do with lightning? Why does this card give him lightning powers? Why? All sorts of why?

Chomp beats Terry and sends him flying off, which prompts him to turn back to card form. Chomp, now exhausted, also turns back into card form, but is turned back to chibi-Chomp by Max.

Defeated, the Alpha Gang shows up and introduces themselves; Ursula, Zander and Ed. They’re basically Team Rocket and it’s especially obvious with Ursula. Not only are her personality and mannerisms very reminiscent of Jessie, but she’s also voiced by Rachel Lillis. Eric Stuart also voices Dr. Z, and I will give him credit for increasing his range because I totally didn’t recognize him.

The Alpha Gang runs off and we get a bit more explanation about the device, called a Dino-Holder. It not only acts as the stone but it also translates the dinosaur’s thoughts into words. Sure why not? Also, yay, that means we’re going to hear these dinosaurs talking. Whoo.

Spike gives custom-made Dino-Holders to Zoe and Rex too, despite the fact that they don’t have cards yet, and they start glowing their respective colors as they hear the voices of dinosaurs coming from the devices begging for help. And that’s the end of episode one.

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Bottomline: This show is incredibly stupid so far. I mean, I never expect logic or non-stupid much from shounen gaming anime. I really don’t. But, man, you need to suspend all kinds of disbelief for this show. The premise is so convoluted and just gets more convoluted the more you think about it.

I know this is episode one, but I already have all sorts of questions that I can’t see answered anytime soon, like why do the dinosaurs need chibi forms? Why does Dr. Z want to be king of the dinosaurs? Why did he choose trading cards, rocks and chibi dinos to achieve this? How did Spike manage to do all that with the Dino-Holder in such a small amount of time? What is the point of giving the dinosaurs elemental powers? You really need to buff goddamn DINOSAURS? What’s the logic with the selected elements anyway? Why does a triceratops get lightning? How are these powers contained in cards? Why are these powers contained in cards? Just why on a lot of things.

Also, I really can’t get over how much this seems like a meld between Pokemon and Digimon (Season three in particular) just with Dinosaurs.

None of the characters stand out from the archetypes. Max is the leader, headstrong and curious, never gives up and really cares about his friends. Rex didn’t get much exploration but he seems like the responsible one. Zoe is the girl. Alpha Gang is Team Rocket, Dr. Z is the bumbling evil scientist, Seth is the stoic competent villain and Spike is the bumbling good guy scientist.

The art for the CGI is very dated and it clashes so horribly with the traditional animation that it’s very distracting. If you were distracted by how much the CGI clashed with the regular animation in Duel Masters, you’ll be crying at this, especially considering that the CGI and traditional animation in that show were usually kept separately and hardly ever shared the screen. Here, it’s constantly in the same frame.

The traditional art is fine and the colors pop. Some of the designs are kinda cool, even if Zoe and Rex’s necklaces are kinda distracting. The animation is typical shounen gaming anime fare; just okay.

The OP is catchy, even if ‘Make your move’ kinda seems weird to put in the lyrics if this isn’t a legit game. The BG music is completely forgettable.

All in all I’m really not impressed with this first episode, and I can really understand why this show didn’t take off. Hopefully it will get better from here.

Shounen Step-By-Step: Megaman NT Warrior Episode 1

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Plot: In the year 200X, everything is connected via a virtual network. In this virtual network, people use PETs which are used to communicate to their NetNavis; their own personal virtual assistants, friends and battling companions. These NetNavis are used to combat an evil organization known as World Three who frequently attack the network with viruses.

In particular, a boy named Lan Hikari and his NetNavi Megaman as well as his friends and their NetNavis, aim to rid the cyber matrix of all viruses and crime.

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Breakdown: Megaman NT Warrior is a show I was very much aware of when watching shows like Pokemon and Yugioh back on Saturday morning anime blocks like Kids WB, Fox Box and 4Kids TV. I was aware of it, and I watched it on occasion, but I never really got into it. I don’t know why. I was and still am a Megaman fan, and I don’t remember really disliking it at all.

This first episode gives us the main background of the world they live in as well as fairly good introduction to Lan and Megaman and his friends.

Lan starts out with a clearly lame basic NetNavi that is somewhat modeled like Megaman. In battle with one of his friends, Dex, and his Gutsman, he tries over and over with battle chip (power ups) after battle chip to defeat him and they do nothing. Gutsman easily wins and Lan’s NetNavi is forced to logout. Dex is solidified as a cocky brute while Lan is the underdog who has to deal with a basic, non-customized NetNavi that can’t stand up against a customized one like Gutsman.

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Lan’s NetNavi is damaged and his PET suggests not using him in net battles anymore, further frustrating Lan. A fish salesman named Mesa acts as our audience surrogate as Lan explains to him about PETs or Personal Terminals as well as NetNavis and net battles – Which really didn’t need to be explained to us because of the prologue, but I’d rather be given too much information than not enough.

As fire trucks whiz by, we learn that there’s been a rash of ovens spontaneously catching fire all over town. Lan worries about his mother’s oven, but she claims she had it checked out by a technician earlier and it’s fine, which means it’s not fine.

Lan gets a letter from his father in Borneo that contains a customized NetNavi disk. It’s never established why he doesn’t have his own customized NetNavi. I can only assume that is costs quite a bit to do so?

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The customized NetNavi is, of course, Megaman. But Lan is disappointed that he doesn’t look like a super cool huge NetNavi warrior and even wishes for his old shitty broken NetNavi back. Wow….Screw you, kid. You whine and bitch and moan over not having a custom NetNavi, you finally get one that looks perfectly fine and could be a great warrior, especially with battle chips, and like a spoiled child you whine that it’s not good enough and basically want to send it back, not even considering that at the very least it’s a more presentable and functional NetNavi than your old one. You should uninstall and send it back, you unappreciative brat.

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Megaman alerts Lan to a kitchen fire and Lan’s mother can’t put it out. Apparently she’s too stupid to grab the fire extinguisher that is literally a foot away. However, even Lan’s use of the fire extinguisher cannot quell the flames so Megaman tells Lan to jack him into the oven’s computer so he can check for problems.

Megaman finds that the oven’s cyber matrix is being attacked by a swarm of computer viruses, causing the intense flames……Why does an oven need a cyber matrix?…..Why does it need to be connected to any network? I will admit, humanity somehow made it logical for a fridge to have Internet access, but an oven? He blasts the viruses away, causing the fire to go out, but sees a weird NetNavi in the flames of the matrix before it disappears.

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Excited about the powers of his new NetNavi, Lan challenges Dex and Gutsman again to a netbattle at school where I guess they just learn about computer stuff.

Dex is that kind of annoying character who’s always an ass and cocky as hell, but obviously has a huge crush on the only girl of the group, Maylu, and constantly hits on her. Even Gutsman has a crush on Maylu’s NetNavi, Roll.

A stereotypical Scottish man (borderline offensively stereotypical as he prattles on about kilts and bagpipes…) who is behind the fire-setting NetNavi gets orders to destroy Megaman from, you guessed it, Dr. Wily. And if you haven’t caught on, Lan and his family, most clearly his father, are allegories for Dr. Light. (Hikari → Light) Lan’s first name is also a reference, though not to the games. It’s in reference to a LAN or local area network – basically a short range network between and a handful of computers.

Dex and Lan have their rematch and Dex is far from impressed at Lan’s new NetNavi. However, Megaman proves that his small stature does not reflect his own strength as he easily bats away Gutsman’s fists.

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The oven bursts into flames at Maylu’s place in the middle of their rematch, and Roll rushes over to beg Megaman to help….because I guess she can’t do a damn thing…or even try. *sigh* Are we seriously doing a damsel in distress story? First Lan’s mom handles a kitchen fire by calling her 11 year old kid down to handle it while she whimpers behind a counter and fails to use a fire extinguisher; now the only other female character’s NetNavi is only good for getting help for her when she’s in trouble – and not even the fire department kind. In addition to the fact that Maylu’s only role in the episode so far is to be drooled over by Dex while Roll’s role has been basically being a secretary for Maylu and being hit on by Gutsman. Sure, Roll smacked Gutsman after, but still.

Lan and Dex rush to Maylu’s house to save her while Megaman and Gutsman go through the Internet to her oven’s cyber matrix to help take down the viruses. There, they meet FAITH AND BEGORAHAGGISREDHAIRANDSCOTTISHTHINGSACH guy and his Torchman after taking down the little viruses that were setting the fire.

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Lan manages to get Maylu to safety, but realizes that Torchman is too much for Megaman and Gutsman to handle. He goes back in the house to plug into the oven directly so he can upload the blaster battle chip to Megaman. Once he does so and with additional help from a cyber sword, he manages to force Torchman and Kilt Boy into retreating. With his victory, he gets a hug from Roll, who wasn’t even participating in any of the fight, not even with the damn little viruses. *huff*

Maylu is safe and Lan expresses his gratitude towards his new NetNavi, the end.

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As a first episode, in regards to understanding the world and the characters, it’s fine. They explain everything well enough, the world seems to function with sufficient logic, barring some suspension of disbelief, and it does what it sets out to do.

In regards to characters, absolutely no one is breaking any kind of new ground here. Everyone is very generic and textbook. Lan is obviously the ‘normal yet optimistic and excitable’ main character. Barring one instance of complete spoiled attitude, he’s as by the book as you get. Megaman is portrayed as a cool and powerful partner, which, while not being as cliché, is still not really interesting.

Dex is the pseudo-antagonist friend who is cocky, fat, and none too bright, but chases after the girl of the group like a steak. Gutsman is a brutish idiot who speaks in third-person.

Maylu is nice enough….plays piano and doesn’t respond to Dex’s advances. That’s about it for her in this episode. Roll is also nice enough, but doesn’t do anything in this episode but remind Maylu of her piano practice and be a stagnant life-alert button. Both are obviously being set up as love interests for the main characters, and looking at Roll’s abilities on her wiki page seems to relegate her mostly to healing and support instead of fighting….

The bad guys are bad guys. And Scottish.

In terms of the story, it’s also been done several times in gaming anime. Main character loves a game but has a crappy version of the thing needed to play the game. He gets something that gives him a better game thing and suddenly becomes awesome. You know, when you think about it, aren’t gaming anime subtly implying to children that they should pressure their parents to buy them more cards and cooler toys related to the game when they see these tropes? “Eh, I have a sucky character that sucks, so I suck, but now I got a super cool rare character and now I’m awesome! It’s a good thing you can get this same character at Wal-Mart for $24.95!” The oven thing is new, but it’s a damsel in distress story just with the battle taking place in the virtual world.

The only thing it really has going for it as a shounen gaming anime is the world itself and the premise as it really doesn’t match many other…..anime…..out……oh hell. It’s Digimon Tamers. Yup, replace the PETs with Digivices, the NetNavis with Digimon and the battle chips with Digi-modify cards and it is pretty much just exactly Digimon Tamers with a new wrapping….only not as interesting.

I did like this episode barring its flaws…..I can’t really tell you why outside of me liking Digimon a lot, and this world as well as net battles seem like fun. It didn’t get off to a great start, but I am actually looking forward to more of this show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh wait, it’s also Angelic Layer with talking dolls. Shit.

Cartoons Step-By-Step: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) Episode 1 -Things Change

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Plot: Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo are four turtles that have been mutated into anthropomorphic beings by strange ooze. Throughout their lives, they have been trained in the art of the ninja by their master, Splinter, an anthropomorphic rat and ninja master.

When their sewer home is infiltrated and destroyed by mouser robots, the turtles are separated from their master. They’re able to contact Splinter via shell phone to confirm that he is alright, but they still have the task of finding out who sent the mouser robots, finding a new place to live and reuniting with Splinter.

Trapped, with the integrity of the tunnel compromised, the boys decide to hit the surface world for another route the sewers. Raphael is forced to dash and hide all over the street to avoid being seen by other people while in search of another manhole cover to reenter the sewers in. They manage to find another manhole, but it’s being blocked by huge truck that some gang members are currently using to perform a robbery.

While Raph tries to move the truck, they hear the gang members start to return, so Raph quickly hides in the truck, only to be locked in as the gangsters leave. As Leo, Mikey and Donny try to follow Raph, Splinter gets cornered by mousers in the sewer.

Once they catch back up with the truck, Donny manages to open the electronic lock and free Raph, but their reunion is shortlived when the gang members return and face off against the turtles. However, the boys easily defeat the entire crew and the gangsters run off. Just as they celebrate their victory, they find themselves surrounded again; this time by a mysterious group of ninjas. While the turtles struggle to take down the ninjas, Splinter manages to defeat the mouser robots.

However, the damage done by the robots causes the floor to crumble beneath him, leading him to an unexplored area of the sewers.

The turtles take the truck, escape from the ninjas and return the stolen money to the cops as they get back to the sewer and reunite with Splinter. He leads the boys to a huge chamber that they’ll be calling their home from now on since their previous one was destroyed.

Meanwhile, a mysterious man meets with the gang leader from earlier as he relays the information about the lost truck and money. He’s not with mercy from his master, and screams ring out from within the temple.

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I love Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, past and present. They have such a ridiculously goofy premise that works so well that it has managed to stay not only relevant but very popular throughout many different incarnations.

The 2003 version, co-produced by ew4Kids is known as one of the darker versions, though still not touching the original comic’s darkness. When this first aired, I watched it fairly closely but I won’t deny that I was a bigger fan of the 80’s version.

So what does episode one bring to the table? Well, first, there’s no explaining the backstory of the turtles at all, which is odd because the theme song, unlike the 80s version, doesn’t talk about it at all. Yes, TMNT is so popular and well-known that most people already know of the backstory, but considering how silly the concept is, you’d think they’d take the opportunity to explain to the younger folks in the audience as to why everything is as it is.

That being said, they do a great job of not only keeping the turtles loyal to their specific personalities, but they also update them a little to appeal to a more current audience. Mikey and Raph in particular had some great moments and lines, some even earning legitimate laugh out loud moments.

The story is solid enough; the turtles are forced above ground and meet up with some thugs in an effort to get back home and things aren’t quite as they seem. They run into even more trouble with a more viable threat and regroup back home with Master Splinter. Nothing groundbreaking, but a decent amount of action, suspense and little tidbits for the more seasoned TMNT viewer such as poking at Shredder and interrupting Mikey before he can fully say ‘Cowabunga’.

I honestly didn’t remember that the Purple Dragon gang worked for Shredder, but it makes a lot of sense.

A few things were left up in the air though, like who sent the mouser robots and why. Shredder didn’t seem to as he doesn’t seem to know of the turtles at this point and the gang leader didn’t mention anything about them.

Also minor and expected, but for an episode that spent a decent chunk of time teaching the turtles that they need to be as hidden as possible, even during an attack, they sure did give mixed signals in one scene. Mikey does what he does and decides to stand out in broad daylight right in front of a thug for like ten seconds making a joke before attacking the guy. This wouldn’t be a big deal if Leo didn’t praise him for it. Yes, he did knock out the thug, but he just broke the main rule of both ninjas and their family to make a joke.

The art and animation are actually pretty nice. I should be clear and say 4Kids only had a hand in this series’ production. It was co-produced by Mirage studios with the art and animation being done by Dong Woo Animation. I’ve seen some people criticize the 2003 art for being a bit too muscular and craggy, but I actually like it quite a bit. It fits in well with the environment that’s been created, and it suits the darker and more serious tone better than the curvy cartoony 80s version.

The music is also pretty well done. I don’t know if 4Kids made the theme song, but I wouldn’t be surprised as it’s an earworm with some kinda cheesy lyrics. The BG music fits well with the series, and it does a good job at amping up some action while also not interfering with the more lighthearted moments.

Overall, this is a pretty good episode. Not anything epic or even great, but it was still enjoyable the whole time through with some great jokes and action.

Rating: 8/10

Shounen Step-By-Step: One Piece Arc 1 (Romance Dawn/Captain Morgan)

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Plot: Coby wants nothing more than to be in the Marines (or Navy if you follow the 4Kids dub, but why do you like suffering?) However, he’s been held captive and forced to work for the awful pirate Alvida. A strange pirate boy named Monkey D. Luffy decides to help him out. His desire is to find the legendary treasure, One Piece, and become king of the pirates; a dream that many people find to be suicidal and impossive. He has a bittersweet ability in being able to make his body structure like rubber after eating the devil fruit, Gomu Gomu no Mi (The Gum Gum Fruit), but it comes with the price of being unable to swim.

Meanwhile, we get the backstory of Luffy and the first addition to Luffy’s crew in the legendary pirate hunter Zoro.

Breakdown: Let’s set sail on the One Piece review! Yes that line was awful, but I don’t care.

Ah One Piece…Holy freakin’ crap. What an insanely huge franchise you are. As of this writing, it has 771 episodes and counting as well as 83 volumes for the manga. The only two shows I can think of that have longer runs are Detective Conan and Pokemon, and it stands as the last of the ‘Big Three’ shounen shows since both Bleach and Naruto ended their runs (Though the new Boruto series is keeping Naruto technically afloat). I’m not sure how close One Piece is to ending, if it is at all, since I have insane amounts of trouble keeping updated with long shows such as these. Part of the reason I wanted to do these long episode by episode and arc by arc reviews was to keep me motivated to actually get updated on these series.

Despite the fact that I haven’t kept up with this show in many years, I still really enjoy it. I love shows about pirates and the added ‘magic’ abilities make for some fantastic battles. The characters are also pretty memorable and fun, even if a few tend to fall of into cliché-land.

This arc serves as a backstory to Luffy, an intro to the series as a whole, shows off some of Luffy’s abilities and style and finally gets him a boat and at least one crew member. The relationship between Luffy and Zoro actually starts off pretty strong. Zoro is definitely an interesting and likable character, and his introduction was certainly badass and even touching. His chemistry with Luffy is also really good, and they tend to have good banter.

Luffy’s backstory was cool but mostly just in regards to Shanks. Luffy eating the Gum Gum fruit is pretty much how you’d expect he’d eat it, and him getting into trouble with those pirates again was also pretty much par for the course. His rescue as well as the departure of Shanks’ crew was the most memorable part in that regard. I wish we could’ve seen more of how much Shanks and Luffy meant to each other considering they seem to know each other pretty well in this backstory, but I assume we’ll explore that further as we go on.

Even though Nami didn’t join the crew quite yet, this is also the introduction of Nami as she is seen following their adventures while trying to score some treasure as well as the map to the Grand Line, the area where One Piece supposedly is. I’m usually somewhat annoyed when we get character introductions with no interactions with the main characters, but her roles were pretty okay.

Coby’s side-plot was fairly memorable, and it did serve as a cool introduction to Luffy. I kinda wish Coby had stuck around for a while, but, considering his goals, it really wouldn’t make sense for him to be a bigger part of the plot unless they made some sort of ‘friends with the enemy’ type of deal.

Alvida’s not that great of a villain and Helmeppo’s a parody of himself, though he’s meant to be more of a jackass over a legit villain. Captain Morgan is more imposing and is the main centerpiece of this arc, enemy-wise, but he’s also not terribly interesting.

Final Verdict: These first few episodes do a great job of introducing the characters, the world they live in and the backstory of our main character and the main story as a whole. It also has some entertaining battles, good attacks, funny jokes and it’s just a lot of fun at times. The art and animation fit this show perfectly, even if some of the mugging shots can be a little too goofy. The music is great, even if the ED is a little forgettable to me, and the voice actors (Japanese) do a great job here as well. I especially love Zoro and Luffy’s voices.

Welcome aboard! Now let’s find One Piece!

Arc Rating: 9/10

Recommended Audience: One Piece can get pretty bloody at times. The worst that happens in this arc is Shanks getting his arm torn off, but the actual removal isn’t shown, and there’s, oddly, not a lot of blood there.. There’s obviously a lot of violence and some minor swearing. No sex or nudity or anything, even if there is some minor fanservice with Nami. 10+

Coming up next, the Orange Town Arc (Captain Buggy).