Episode One-Derland: Honey and Clover

Plot: A group of starving destitute college students try to live their lives as they struggle with the hardships of blooming love.

Breakdown:……You know those shows that earn nothing but critical praise and when you watch it you just….don’t get it?

Honey and Clover is one of those shows to me.

Maybe this is just a bad show for Episode One-Derland….but…I don’t get it. Every review I find of this show has practically nothing but good things to say about it, and I couldn’t get a response above anything but an ‘okay’ while watching this first episode.

Seriously, the few things I could dredge up that had bad things to say about this series were just met with posts that amounted to, putting it politely, ‘you’re wrong. It’s good.’

I know josei shows are slow, but my problems run deeper than that.

This episode seems to give off the illusion that all of the main characters are being properly established, but I can’t remember most of them well enough to build a solid foundation. Half of the cast I’ve relegated to ‘desperate starving college student.’

The main-main character seems to be Yuuta, but outside of being a bit of a buttmonkey, he’s not very characterized so far. Takumi’s kind of a straightman. The most prominent character so far is Shinobu – a strange guy who disappears for weeks on end, comes back in a daze with an armful of food and a big wad of cash. No one knows where he goes or what he does when he’s gone. He’s the most entertaining character so far, but it’s not really enough to save the cast.

Other than that we have Shuu, and his cousin’s daughter, Hagumi.

It’s here where I kinda started pumping the brakes. I didn’t think I’d be thinking this while watching a josei show, but here goes….Why are these college students falling in love with an eight year old girl?

Hagumi is one of those characters who, we’re told, is 18 years old, but screw you, no she’s not. She is clearly an eight year old girl. She looks eight, she dresses like she’s eight, people treat her like she’s eight – she’s eight.

It was very unsettling to have her first proper appearance be accompanied by a very long pan shot down the right side of her body as a flower fell and Yuuta looking on in wonder. It’s even worse when Takumi starts doing it and it keeps happening – that same glittery sparkly ‘I’m in love’ effect for a girl who looks like she’s missing nap time.

It’s not even just that she looks eight, either – she acts like a little kid too. She has yet to say barely a word the entire time, choosing instead to mimic Heroine from Amnesia and just respond to everything with little sounds and a blank look of idiocy on her face. When she does talk, she speaks in a very timid whisper.

Her cousin also does nothing but treat her like a kid. He talks to her like she’s a toddler, calls her adorable and points out how cute she looks while struggling with a big tea pot. She doesn’t even get mad when people do this, she just takes it. The biggest reaction we got from her was her shaking in nervousness as Shinobu gave her a leaf and started taking pictures of her…..There’s no way you’d think this girl’s 18 unless someone flatout told you, which they did.

This isn’t a very strong basis for a romance plot either, because it’s literally love at first sight for both Takumi and Yuuta and the only backing behind the love is ‘Wow, she’s cute.’ I think we’re at a point in time where these types of romances shouldn’t fly. Shinobu also falls for her at first sight, but his is less obvious and somehow more disturbing because he clearly does that sparkly stare thing then follows it up by telling her to hold up a giant leaf and take a bunch of pictures of her because she’s adorable.

I just can’t focus anymore. Am I being the insensitive one here? There are diseases that make you look pre-pubescent, and those people should be free to live their own lives and fall in love with whoever they want, but this is love at first sight with a girl who looks like she’s eight. She doesn’t have any sort of medical condition to make her look young or a mental condition that makes her act infantile. Even her Wiki says she’s simply short, designed to look like a child and has the face of a doll.

Somehow, that’s even creepier.

The show’s dialogue is also a bit exposition-y. Who feels the need to point out such specific things about characters when the other characters seem to know all about them? I swear, they pointed out Shinobu’s penchant to go off on these weird adventures three times.

The opening theme is….kinda weird. The music’s grating and the animation behind it is claymation foods where the final shot is of crabs that turn into a crab hand and try to grab you….The ending is alright.

There’s some decent comedic moments, and I didn’t get annoyed by anyone, but I really didn’t get what the big deal was nor could I ignore the squickiness of Hagumi’s whole situation. If I’m just misunderstanding something that they’ll explore later, I’m sorry, but on an intro episode basis, this is off-putting.

Final Verdict:

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This series has such high praise that I don’t want to drop it entirely, but my first impressions of it were not really good. I guess I’ll just pick it back up and watch an episode or two whenever I feel like it. Hopefully, I will change my mind fully as time goes on…..Don’t think I’m going to get over the Hagumi thing, though. Am I overreacting? Am I missing something? I have to be, right?

Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru Review

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Rating: 1/10

Plot: Yori has been in love with his twin sister, Iku, for as long as he can remember. When he finally reveals his feelings to her, Iku is shocked and their lives get increasingly complicated. Does Iku feel the same? Can this relationship ever work?

Breakdown: I want to make one thing clear right off the bat – I’m not against anime or any other form of media that explores taboo subjects. When done well, these features can explore something risque that opens entirely new views on the subject at hand. Even particularly squicky topics like incest can be handled well and made to be interesting.

It’s important to address these topics. They may be uncomfortable to discuss, but they’re a part of life. Learning about and understanding something that many people don’t talk about can be incredibly valuable.

When done wrong, however, they can turn what would’ve been a meh or bad show into a horrible show.

That being said, I’ve been wanting to review this OVA ever since I watched it a few years ago. It is a shining example of how to spotlight taboo subjects in the wrong way.

The biggest issue with this show is the main character, Yori. He is in love with his “younger” twin sister, Iku, and has been since he was a small child.

It was a little sweet to see Yori be so nice to Iku as kids, and even though he obviously had aspirations to make Iku his bride some day, it was still cute because that can really be brushed off as the musings of a child who simply doesn’t understand the norms of society and even, to a degree, nature. When we see Yori grown up, however, basically all sympathy and understanding for the guy falls flat.

He’s a mean, jealous, angry little sack of crap who seems more in lust with Iku than he is in love.

Case and point, he uses some girl that has a crush on him, Tomoka, for sex in order to release some of his sexual tension geared towards Iku. But don’t worry, it’s not an asshole-ish thing to do because Tomoka is fully aware that he likes someone else and even asked to be a proxy for this girl, hoping that one day he’d fall in love with her, just because sex.

In regards to his jealousy, he flies off the handle at even the slightest hint of another guy showing interest in Iku, or Iku even contemplating having a non-descript boyfriend to the point where he’ll go into rage-fueled rants about who she may have in mind for this, even grabbing her and yelling in her face about it. After having a fantasy of him having sex with her, of course.

When he’s not doing that, he’s being overall unpleasant, never smiling and constantly being mean to basically everyone.

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I believe the writers want us to feel like it’s understandable that Yori is such an undeniable douchenozzle because he’s been so frustrated for years that he loves/lusts after his sister yet can’t admit to those feelings. And if he does, not only does he have to worry about rejection, but he also has to worry about changing if not destroying his relationship to Iku because of this incredibly awkward situation.

No.

I understand that loving someone and even lusting after someone for years and not being able to tell them has to be frustrating, but Yori is an unbelievably huge asshole about it. A ‘normal’ person would still try to be kind and friendly to the person to not harm their relationship.

You could say he’s being an asshole for the sake of keeping her at arms length to help stave his feelings, but he’s an asshole to everyone yet especially to Iku. At a certain point, it seems less like he’s doing this to prevent heartache and break, and more like ‘I want to stay as far away from you as possible because I’m afraid I’ll rape you.’ kind of thing. This is only further enforced by the fact that he’s constantly grabbing and restraining her against her will.

It’s possible that whatever love he had for Iku as a child mutated into whatever rape-y person he’s devolved into today, but that doesn’t give me any sense of sympathy for him or connection with him. The exact opposite is true. I severely dislike this guy from practically the first frame of his scowling face, and that turns into hatred before we even get to the halfway point.

You might be asking ‘Well, what of Iku? Surely she’s better.’ You’d think so, but honestly, no. She’s a crybaby and an idiot. She cries every five minutes over every last thing and has a really unhealthy dependency on her brother.

Despite showing zero signs of being romantically interested in Yori during the first fifteen minutes of the show, after he jumps her, suddenly professes his feelings and gives her an ultimatum in romantically loving him or not, a quick clip show of all the times in the show where he’s been a cold asshole to her, which are pretty much the only moments where they shared screentime so far, makes her reciprocate his feelings. Not only that, but when she realizes there might be something between Yori and his FwB, Tomoka, SHE starts flipping out and being an even bigger idiot.

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Even after this, it becomes clear to Yori that Iku doesn’t really love him and that she might be forcing herself into it to make him happy, which pretty much makes her a big ol’ doormat.

Iku offers her body to Yori after she finds out that he plans to go to a high school that is very far away, likely to keep him from leaving. However, when he realizes she’s forcing herself into it for his sake, he stops and says he wants her to love him first.

Okay, this seems better…..but the way he acts when he’s doing it shifted from rape-y to serial-killer-y. He says he’s not content with just her body and that he wants her heart to be his as well when they do it. And then he says:

Yori: “Hurry up and fall in love with me as a man, because there is no man in the world who loves you as much as I do.”

I might be reading too much into that, but this scene really contrasts to everything we’ve seen of him so far. He’s been a complete dick with nothing but sex on his mind. He needed to use some deluded girl as a stand-in for Iku to get his rocks off, which still doesn’t seem good enough, and now he’s all lovey-dovey all of a sudden. It’s jarring and unsettling.

Then they get to a point where they insult their audience. They, now fully involved romantically, go back to a place where they used to always go as children.…

………..a field of little white clovers.

….in front of a church.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

After proclaiming Iku as his lover and not his little sister through a really corny and convoluted breakdown of the word ‘clover’, they go into the church…..to make out. Between attempting to have sex in their own bunk bed while their parents are home and this, they really suck at finding secret places to swap bodily fluids. “Secret sweethearts: Kind of a miracle this is even a slightly a secret”

And yes, for some dumb reason, these opposite gender teenage siblings not only still share a room but they also sleep on bunk beds.

Really, out of all of the places to secretly tongue wrestle, why a damn church? I get it – this is the church their parents got married in and where Yori made the declaration that he’d be Iku’s husband, but still. They both fully understand the social and religious taboos of incest yet they can’t be bothered to find a place other than a church to kiss? A church where they may be easily recognized? That’d be one hell of an awkward encounter with your local priest.

Oh wait, I can tell you why they chose to do this in a church. Because then they can throw a crapton of looming religious imagery at your face to remind you that what they’re doing is frowned upon in the eyes of God. Not only do we get imagery, we get talking statues reminding Iku that what they’re doing is icky.

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I agree, angel statue. This OVA is despicable.

I should mention that it’s never been established what religion they are, if they’re religious at all, but that’s not really the point. Do they really believe the audience is so dumb that we can’t understand that what they’re doing is taboo? They need to chuck talking angel statues and spinning camera techniques at us to make us understand the weight of it all?

Not only that, but, like I said, they needed to remind Iku of how icky this is so she’ll suddenly dump Yori since she can’t go through with this while they’re under the eyes of God.

Just when you think that Yori might actually be accepting of the fact that this can never work and seems ready to give up on it, he dumps Tomoka stating that he can’t accept any replacements as he can only be with the real deal. Tomoka freaks out about it, even though she knew full out what she was getting herself into. Hell, she’s the one who offered to be a stand-in.

After our rapiest scene so far, courtesy of Yori, he admits to Iku what he was doing with Tomoka and that he’s a terrible person. Well, give him credit for owning up to it. But in spite of it all, Iku still doesn’t seem like she can either forgive him or go through with their relationship.

Just when you think Iku might be giving up on this altogether, she brings him to a skeevy love hotel after school since that’s where he and Tomoka had sex. In order to counteract the Tomoka sex, she wants to have sex there too.

…….You remember how I said Yori was the biggest problem I had in this series? Iku earns second place. I know I’ve already explained what was mostly wrong with her character; whiny, crybaby, weird combination of manipulative doormat, but her character just keeps getting worse and worse.

Yori has been in love with her since he was a kid. His creepy feelings likely stem from an idealized and misguided childhood infatuation. Iku’s feelings stem from nothing. They could’ve kept going with the idea that she non-romantically loved her brother so much and she was so dependent on him emotionally that she felt like she needed to reciprocate his feelings in order to make him happy and keep him from leaving. But now they feel the need to make her be in love with him now as well.

I would say this love is stemming from jealousy of Tomoka, but it’s quite obvious that Yori is not in love with her. He even outright admitted that. Judging from how she’s been acting and the way she’s been talking, I’d say that those signs of jealousy of Tomoka are actually more possessiveness for Yori. She’s not jealous that Tomoka is/was dating him, especially considering that she holds no ill will towards Tomoka, she’s offended that Yori was being intimate with someone who wasn’t her. She wants complete claim over him.

The thing is, Iku doesn’t seem sexually charged towards Yori. Every time they’ve been close to having sex, and even in the scene where they actually have sex, she seems scared out of her mind and is constantly crying. Despite the fact that she agrees to have sex with him, she’s completely uncomfortable with the idea of him seeing her even partially nude, which raises a red flag with me. She doesn’t really seem like she wants to have sex with him. She’s either doing this to, again, make Yori happy or to stake a claim on Yori. She was perfectly fine just kissing him and stuff and being with him before she heard that he slept with Tomoka and then, boom, let’s go to a love motel.

As the sex scene goes on, we get talked to like idiots again.

Yori: Narration – “What we have done is taboo.”

NO. WAY. Incest is taboo?

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Yori starts crying because, now that he’s gotten everything he’s ever wanted, he still intends on leaving because their relationship is unnatural and he could never give Iku happiness.

But maybe it’s a good thing that he’s leaving because, even in spite of being a consensual relationship, he still seems to have abusive asshole behavior lying within him with this line.

After he explains to his best friend, Yano, about the situation, Yano asks why he’s still leaving if he loves Iku.

Yori: “Sometimes, my feelings of wanting to protect Iku with everything that I have, clash with feelings of wanting to destroy something.

And that pretty much sums up why this guy is so creepy and deplorable. It’s not the fact that he’s in love with his sister, it’s the rape-y abusive asshole part that makes you want to turn this thing off.

Oh yeah, Yano, let’s talk about him for a minute seeing as how that’s about the amount of time he gets on screen. Yano seems to be a pretty cool guy. Wanna know how cool? Yori admits his feelings for Iku and even tells him that they had sex…..and he’s not only totally cool with it but he’s also not really surprised. He talks about it like it’s any other relationship. That’s about it.

For more on Iku’s possessiveness, we get this next line. At Yori and Iku’s graduation, Yori gives away all the buttons on his school shirt to the girls because he’s….. popular? I think? They never established such a thing, but okay.

In Japan, it’s a tradition for boys to give their second school uniform button to a special girl that they consider their loves at graduation as a means of confession. Specifically the second button down since it’s the closest button to the heart and is said to hold the feelings built up from the years in school. I get the symbolism with losing all the buttons, even though it may just be blatant fanservice with his open shirt, but given the tradition I don’t get it. Best thing I can find for the other buttons is some people give them to friends.

Anyway, she sees his lack of buttons and says this;

Iku: “Why are there no buttons? Don’t let other girls touch you!”

If what I’ve researched is true, I don’t see why she doesn’t assume some of them weren’t given to guys. The second one is the only one meant to be linked to romance. Though that does leave the question of where his second button went.

Iku has a hissy fit about him leaving, and he later tells her that he’s leaving because they can’t be a normal couple where they live now. Since everyone knows them and knows they’re siblings, they can’t do the smallest romantic gestures without experiencing the social stigma of such a thing, which is totally not what he said earlier.

He basically said he was leaving because he was afraid he’d end up hurting someone or Iku because of his intense passion. Now he’s not only giving a totally different reason but he’s also telling her to meet with him again so they can be a normal couple in a different place? Does he no longer care about his “feelings of wanting to destroy something”? What a creepy son of a bitch.

The OVA also start flipping on the comedy switch here. This show has been nothing but melodrama this entire time. Not one comedic moment or joke has occurred until this point and all of a sudden we get surprise puppies, pratfalls, Iku hiding Yori’s luggage, their father hiding his shoes, and cartoon-y art in several places. Just as soon as it started, it stops. What the hell happened?

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Yori leaves for high school, and just Iku touching his arm as he gets in the car makes him say this.

Yori: “Don’t touch me. Mom and dad will think it’s weird.”

Yeah because it’s totally unreasonable for a sister to hug her brother when he’s going to move away, especially when they’re close twins.

Just in case you still felt like Tomoka was a decent character, she arrives at the train station to stop Yori from leaving. As she hugs Yori, she glares at Iku, indicating that she realizes that the girl Yori liked this whole time was Iku and this hug is partially to spite Iku. See? That’s jealousy.

Yori pushes Tomoka away, hugs his father and mother to make it more socially acceptable to hug Iku I guess. They hug, he gives her a kiss on the cheek and then he leaves, the end.

Before I get to the bottomline, let’s explore what this series really didn’t feel like talking about and that’s the psychology of incest. Prepare for uncomfortable education!

Anime is no stranger to incest. It’s…odd, but true. This is anything from heavy incestuous overtones like Shugo and Rena from .Hack//Twilight to downright blatant incest like Yuka and Kouta from Elfen Lied. The difference here is that the incest angle is usually shooed away a bit by saying they’re not fully blood related or they didn’t grow up together. Still icky, but toned down because of technicalities. However, there might be more to at least the second excuse than merely toning down the ick factor.

Incest is taboo for several reasons. It has a high chance of birth defects, religions usually don’t tolerate it, and we’ve all been taught throughout our lives that it’s simply not accepted in society. For the most part, we accept this just fine because people don’t usually have sexual or romantic attractions to people they’re related to. Some of this may be contributed to something called the Westermarck Effect or reverse sexual imprinting.

The Westermarck effect is a psychological theory that suggests that people may become desensitized to sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex if they spend prolonged periods of time with that person as a young child, supposedly from the ages of birth to six years.

People who are related yet don’t grow up alongside each other and meet later in life may experience something called genetic sexual attraction or GSA. GSA occurs when relatives who didn’t spend much, if any, time together as children actually experience high levels of sexual attraction due to their similar facial features and possibly similar interests and experiences. I believe this may be one of the reasons why the go-to incest angles for anime and even some western shows is usually the cousin. Just far enough apart genetically to avoid some of the ick factor while also removing most of the childhood aspect from the picture.

In contrast to the Westermarck effect are the well-known theories of Sigmund Freud whose motto is ‘everything in your life amounts to your desire to bone your mom.’ Freud’s theories, shockingly enough, pointed to natural lust between family members that nearly everyone has yet is covered up due to the taboo of incest. Freud believed this taboo was created to help tamper down instances of incestuous relationships for the sake of healthy reproduction, religious taboos and other reasons. However, the Westermarck effect has even challenged this theory. Taking a note from Wiki, the psychologist Steven Pinker wrote in his book ‘How the Mind Works‘;

“The idea that boys want to sleep with their mothers strikes most men as the silliest thing they have ever heard. Obviously, it did not seem so to Freud, who wrote that as a boy he once had an erotic reaction to watching his mother dressing. But Freud had a wet nurse and may not have experienced the early intimacy that would have tipped off his perceptual system that Mrs. Freud was his mother. The Westermarck theory has out-Freuded Freud.”

In essence, there’s really no worse setup that this show could’ve created in terms of a realistic incestuous relationship. Despite the title, the two siblings are twins, meaning they’re the exact same age. They grew up alongside each other since they were born with no difference in their ages.

Taking the Westermarck effect as mostly gospel and believing that the cutoff for its effects is six years old, the way they could’ve gone about this in a more realistic way would be to have Yori actually be the older sibling. Make Yori at least seven or something when Iku is conceived. That would help account for at least Yori’s lust/love for Iku. And to make it less squicky in regards to loving someone so much younger than Yori, maybe have them both be in their twenties when the attraction starts or at least when they get together?

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I know this still leaves the issue of Iku’s feelings, but I don’t really think it matters much. She’s so wishy washy in what she actually wants. She wants Yori to stay with her and loves him deeply, but she doesn’t show much in terms of sexual attraction to him and her romantic feelings are highly questionable.

Or go the obvious route and head for GSA. Keep them as twins, but make them separated at birth for some reason and meet each other later in life. Yori and Iku can still develop both romantic and sexual feelings for each other while keeping the incest angle intact. If the childhood connection thing is important, have them meet at like ten or something and have Yori’s feelings develop through puberty.

I think this series is so widely known and somewhat well-received because of the fact that it is throwing focus onto a no-holds barred fully blood related, twins no less, pairing that grew up together from birth. And I understand that. It’s nice to give some applause for simply acknowledging that they had the balls to do something like that.

Except for one itty bitty thing.

They’re not 100% blood related in the manga. They’re half-siblings with different fathers. How is that possible when they’re twins? It’s incredibly rare, but it is possible. When a woman has sex with two different men in the time frame of, at most, one week, she can get pregnant from both of them. One egg gets fertilized from one man and another egg by the other, creating something called heteropaternal superfecundation.

After looking it up, this is indeed how they were conceived, but I won’t spoil who the second father is.

Art and Animation: The background art is very nice and detailed. I really love the art and animation for the hair. It’s beautifully done…..however, the faces….ech. I was so distracted by the terrible art for the faces. By all means, it looks like it’s trying to be typical shoujo style but the lips are huge and oddly shaded at points. The noses seem overly big and oddly shaped from the front. The eyes, as silly as it seems to note this in an anime, seem too big and oddly shaped for their heads.

Music: The OP is fine, albeit a bit over dramatic with violin music. The BG music is forgettable. I didn’t care for the ED. It sounded like several songs overlaying each other in the beginning.

Voice Acting: Japanese – A bit overly dramatic, but they were probably directed that way. Everyone was fine in their roles.

Bottomline: This is a terribly written show with poorly written characters that you want to smack with the only redeemable one being Yano, and there’s even a hint of something off about him near the end. He also gets little screentime so it doesn’t matter.

What could’ve been an interesting look at a taboo topic instead of the insipid incest pairings we get in anime purely for the sake of shock value and adding naughtiness to a pairing for the sake of pervs just turned out to be an uncomfortable show about people you will grow to hate quickly with incest thrown in as conflict. Siblings or not, these people can kiss my ass.

The Tomoka conflict, if you can call it that, was basically unneeded. They could’ve done something better with it, like put more focus on him trying his best to use her as a substitute for Iku and trying his hardest to love her, but nope. He bangs her and only a few days later, after 15 years of being in love with her, kisses Iku and confesses his feelings to her just because she started crying after he was being an asshole to her yet again. Then Tomoka turns around and seems to turn into a bitch once she realizes that Iku is the one he’s in love with, despite the fact that she instigated their whole relationship as a substitute deal.

Yori is terribly inconsistent with his character outside of his assholeish behavior, and Iku is basically the same way only replace ‘assholeish’ with ‘whiny and useless’.

This is just a poor story all around. I will be reading the manga for the AniManga Clash and possibly in hopes of finding something more redeemable about this series, but as it stands, it’s just not worth anyone’s time.

Additional Information and Notes: Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru was based on a manga by Kotomi Aoki. It was directed by Mayumi Nishimoto and it was produced by Shogakukan.

In 2007, a live-action version was created and produced yet again by Shogakakun. It was directed by Hiroshi Ando.

Runtime: 50 minutes

Year: 2005

Recommended Audience: The subject matter alone leads itself to a more mature audience, but there are also several sex scenes. Nothing is shown graphically, but they’re still there. Yori can also be somewhat rough during these sex scenes and even crosses the line into assault once or twice. 14+

Dissecting the Disquels: Mulan 2

Rating: 2.5/10

Plot: Mulan, Shang and their fellow warriors from the first movie return, and love is in the air, snookums. ~~♥

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I loved Mulan. Despite having historical accuracy problems (Well, of course) it’s a very intense, exciting and interesting movie with a kick-ass lead who was finally female. The visuals were great, the style was different, the music was awesome (though I could’ve done without the totally out of place ‘True to Your Heart’ at the end) and it did some things to bend the common Disney rules.

I remember seeing the promos for the sequel and just being like….eh. This plot is really a reason for a sequel? Oh yeah, money.

Mulan 2….is about Shang proposing to Mulan and the three guys from the army, Yao, Ling and Chien-Po finding three princesses (sisters, no less) who are perfect for them. However, the princesses are all set for an arranged marriage and Mulan, Shang and the boys are escorting them there. Gee, I wonder what will happen.

So we have a kick-ass female lead who saved China in a movie that only really touched upon romance (and, if you’ll remember, also brought up the topic of arranged marriages) but was mostly politics, war, some comedy and action. Follow that up with proposals, marriage, arranged marriage and a common sequel trope, giving practically everyone who ended up with no one in the last movie significant others. Uh. Huh.

One note about the poster, Mulan is never in her old army garb during the course of the entire movie. Which, now that I really think about it, is immensely stupid.

I know they’re just on an escort mission, but they’re still transporting three princesses to a marriage that is supposed to greatly benefit China. Shang is the only one who wears armor during the entire movie, and guess what? He only wears it in the very beginning simply to show that he’s now a general. When he’s on the mission with Mulan and the others, he’s wearing regular clothes just like the rest of them.

Trusting a group of five people with a mission and with people this important was shaky enough, but not giving them armor is just stupid.

And look at that tag line. “The Epic Journey Continues.” Also known as “well, we didn’t know what to say about this movie so we pulled out generic sequel tagline #387E.” Also, that’s a blatant lie. The ‘journey’ from the first movie had a solidified end and the events of this movie, barring Mulan and Shang getting together, have 100% nothing to do with the first movie. The huns don’t appear, no one’s here to avenge the huns, it has nothing to do with war, there’s no army involved, there are no battles, there is no villain or even an antagonist; it’s just an escort mission with a bunch of tacked on romance crap.

Let’s get on with the review. I should at least be to the title screen before I burst a blood vessel.

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Our movie starts out with Mushu who apparently is now treating the other honorable ancestors as servants who evidently are obliged to follow his every whim now…..Why? I have no damn clue. I know it’s implied that he got his job back after the events of the last movie, but the very last line indicates that he’s still a subordinate. How and why did it shift to him basically acting like an entitled douche with the honorable ancestors doing quite literally everything to sate his wishes? Even going so far as to blow into his bath with straws to make a whirlpool effect.

This is just embarrassing…

Cut to Mulan’s house where her parents and grandma are talking about whether or not Shang will propose to Mulan. She starts a betting pool about whether or not he will and of course he will. I guarantee they’ll be married by movie’s end….

A little girl who is so obnoxiously ‘cute’ I can clearly imagine that the script just puts “Obnoxiously cute little girl” by all of her lines shows up asking where Mulan is. Mulan’s mom says she’s out back doing chores when we then see her practicing martial arts with a rake.

Also, Mulan has been reunited with Little Brother, the little dog from the very beginning of the first movie. He’s here to be cute for this one scene and then disappear again for the rest of the movie….Why give her a dog at all? I was thinking maybe he was in these movies more than I thought, but no.

He’s there when Mulan’s getting dressed in the first movie then he vanishes never to be seen again. Then he appears for this opening scene and is never seen again. Do we just need an animal sidekick to fill in for Mushu when he’s not around?

The little girl as well as a slue of other kids who pop out of nowhere spot her and want her to teach them to do stuff like that as well.

The art style is slightly different for this movie; common for Disney sequels. It’s not too bad, it just looks more simplistic and bright, but Mulan just doesn’t look like Mulan. Her face is too rounded now (though I’m aware her character design was slightly changed to be more pointed during scenes where she’s masquerading as a man; she still doesn’t look the same as her feminine design in the first movie), her hair doesn’t look right, her lips look huge from far away, and for some reason she keeps going cross-eyed when we pan away from her.

Doyyyeee Imma an aeroplane

Mulan tries to teach the kids some moves, but her methods aren’t really sinking in with the kids so we have to have a song now; “Lesson Number 1.” You know how some people rag on TLK2 for having songs that are basically mirrors of the first movie’s songs? Well, this is basically the equivalent to “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from the first movie only not nearly as catchy and instead of furthering the story or giving us any intel on a character, it’s just basically filler. It’s not that bad of a song to be honest, in fact it is somewhat catchy, but there’s no point to it.

Also, in the first shot of the song, Mulan grabs the same rake she was using, spins it in the air then the rake part suddenly disappears so that she can use it as a proper boh staff. I was actually expecting the head to fly off and hit some random passerby in the face, but it just vanishes.

And, really, these kids are doing some pretty damn impressive moves for ‘Lesson number 1”

Shang shows up acting all awkward because love and whatnot, and he proposes to Mulan…In like three seconds….and we can’t hear what they’re saying. She leads him to the bench, she sits down, he kneels and not like a couple seconds later she’s, well, squeeing and tackling him to the ground. I’m sorry….is this the same Mulan? Like….at all? She was the real Mulan a minute ago but now she’s….squeeing. I get it, she’s happy she’s going to get married, mazel tov, but that just seems kinda OOC….

Mushu: “It seems like just last month we were saving China.”

Mulan: “It WAS last month.”

HUH!? A one month jump…that’s it? ….Well, I was going to bring up how that’s pretty fast for them to get married….especially considering he’s probably known Mulan a lot longer as a man than a woman, but seeing the arranged marriage angle I guess I can’t harp on it. Plus, that’s an eternity for a Disney romance.

Mulan, Shang and Mushu start preparing the wedding and Mushu goes to tell the ancestors the good news. And the news is very good. For them. Because apparently there’s a rule that says once the daughter of the family has married, the guardians of the husband’s family take over. Meaning Mushu’s job is gone and he’s going back to gong boy. So they’re happier than Team Rocket at a giant insane contraption store. However, Mushu, obviously, is deeply saddened by this.

Here’s where we get another contrast to the first movie. The ancestors just seemed to be jerks to Mushu for the sake of being jerks before. He’s annoying to deal with, and that probably contributed to it, but they still treated him like crap when it seemed unprompted. Here, you sympathize far more with the ancestors as they cheer Mushu’s future firing because Mushu has been acting like an obnoxious egotistical power-abuser this whole time.

Can I join this celebratory conga line?

Meanwhile, Mulan and Shang are talking with a bunch of people about their wedding plans and Mulan’s parents notice that Shang and Mulan have basically completely opposite opinions on how their wedding should be and their future plans after they’re married. Uh oh! Not like opposites attract and there’s such a thing as compromise or anything. THEY’RE DOOMED!

…..They really never realized that they have such stark and contrasting views on nearly everything until now?

A soldier bursts in saying the emperor has summoned them for an incredibly important meeting. Before they head off, Mulan’s parents give them the lesson of Yin and Yang (opposites work in harmony, but only if they decide to work together) and they give each of them a half of their own Taijitu (Yin Yang) necklaces that have been passed down through the generations.

Mushu, watching this, uses their opposite-ness as an excuse to be a selfish ass and vows to tear them apart since Mulan can never be happy with someone so different; proving that Mushu never listens to a damn thing and is annoying as hell. But hey we needed more conflict….

The emperor has summoned the meeting to give them an important mission. Relations with another kingdom are shaky, and he wants to avoid war with that nation by forging an alliance through marriage. His daughters will marry some Lord guy’s sons…..Wow, he has daughters that young when he’s THAT old? Dang, dude.

Mulan is against it, but doesn’t really voice her concerns that much against the emperor because, well, royalty…..And ya know…she had nothing really against it in the first movie. She was actually disappointed that she couldn’t get matched….

And the alternative is another war in China, Mulan. This is definitely one of those times when the lives of many outweighs the happiness of a few. I’m not saying I like the concept of arranged marriages but in China, especially in her era, it was pretty commonplace wasn’t it? Why is she so against it now?

Shang says he only needs three soldiers to complete the job and we cut to Ling, Yao and Chien-Po being thrown out of the matchmaker’s office while she screams that she’d never be able to find wives for men with such little personality….They have plenty of personality, they’re just stupid. Also, I have to wonder why this matchmaker exists. She seems to only find matches for gorgeous perfectly mannered people who honestly would have no trouble finding husbands/wives on their own.

I mean, who couldn’t find wives for these charming young men?

They wonder why they can’t find anyone for them and they list off all the stuff they’re looking for in women; that they’ll treat them like gods and do menial chores for them….I’m so unbelievably glad that the events of the last movie taught them a lesson about sexism.

Keeping up with the theme of taking a song from the last movie and just making a different song that basically conveys the same message theme going, we get the mirror to “A Girl Worth Fighting For” with “A Girl Worth Fighting For (Reprise)” Yup….it’s the exact same song just with only the three of them singing instead of a whole army and slightly different lyrics. Meaning it’s the same song only not nearly as good. Talk about lazy.

Actually, this song just makes you wish you were listening to the original version because this version is depressing. The first one was them singing about them being hopeful of finding wives once the war was over. This one is them singing about how they’re depressed that they can’t find wives now that the war is over.

Why aren’t they getting more respect anyway? Mulan and Shang seem to be doing incredibly well and appear to be very popular, but these guys don’t seem to get any respect. Granted, they are still idiots, but they mean well for the most part.

The song ends as abruptly as the original’s when the boys get thrown out of a restaurant for fighting. You know, the abrupt ending of the song in the original was due to the sudden transition between hope, daydreaming about romance and playfulness to seeing a village completely destroyed and seeing evidence that a small girl died in the attack. In this version, the song ends abruptly because the original’s did. There’s no sudden change in tone, it’s just that they got thrown out.

They see Mulan and Shang before them who tell them that they have a mission for them if they want to take it, and they eagerly agree.

Cut to later that night where the guarding and escorting begin. Cue the first “Disney princess-esque falling in love at first sight” thing where Yao instantly goes goo goo eyed over the princess with the two side buns.

Yeesh, you could play softball with his eye in this shot.

At this point, you can predict nearly everything that will happen in this movie. Four major things.

1) The princesses will each fall in love with the boys.

2) The princesses will end up with the boys and relations between the other kingdom will end up fine otherwise for some reason.

3) Mulan will marry Shang

4) Mushu will try to ruin their marriage, but will not be able to go through with it or feel regret and reverse whatever he does and get his old job or a better one at the end of the movie despite the fact that he doesn’t deserve it.

Since there’s no antagonist presented to us, those are the only things I can imagine will happen.

The girl with the hair buns shows that she likes Yao as well, and uses the opportunity of a water break to chat up Yao.

The giggly girl with the weird ponytail is gathering pears so since this is food related….Chien-Po?

DING-DING-DING

Chien-Po helps her reach some pears so I guess they’re in love now.

The third girl with hoop ponytails who seems to be the oldest and most responsible disapproves of this. Since she’s the only left, I guess she gets Ling. Wait, her name is Ting-Ting?……They’re going to be Ling and Ting-Ting?……..Excuse me. I need to laugh for a few minutes.

*a few minutes later*

Ahh, that’s better. Ling seems to have a harder time with Ting-Ting since his romantic pick-up tactic is to jump out from behind a tree and bombard her with awful jokes like an obnoxious stand-up comedian. She actually runs from him, but it’s quite obvious that she’s trying her best not to burst out laughing the entire time, so they’re fine.

Mei, Yao’s girl, talks with Mulan about how she saved China by following her heart, which we know is really her asking about advice on whether she she should go through with this whole arranged marriage deal or not.

Shifting focus to Mushu, we see his brilliant ‘break up Mulan and Shang’ plan is just playing a bunch of stupid pranks on Shang. Yes, I’m so sure accidentally hooking his fishing line to his belt or being chased by bees will really make Mulan want to dump his hot army general ass.

Mushu’s plans all fail since Mulan’s not the type to get pissed at someone over their own misfortune.

Mushu laments in his failures and in a small temper tantrum accidentally causes the carriage that was holding the princesses to roll downhill. Mulan, Shang and the boys save them, but in the process they fall off a cliff and into a river. Everyone’s okay, and Mu-shit won’t even admit that it was his fault and uses the accident’s minor tensions to further his plans in breaking Mulan and Shang up.

Don’t you just want to punch him?

I hate Mushu. He’s a pointless, annoying character who only had a few funny lines in the original. While he was just unneeded in the original, he’s incredibly annoying here.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

Tabisuru Nuigurumi: Traveling Daru Review

Rating: 8/10

Plot: A little girl loses a doll that she made at an airport. As she cries in the plane, one of her tears somehow makes it down to the doll and brings it to life. Seeing that its best friend has gone away, the doll goes on a worldwide quest to find her.

Breakdown: This a really cute short animation that lasts about ten minutes.

The art is really great, except maybe the designs of the people, which look a little off. The animation is quite good and the story is heartwarming.

If there’s one thing that kinda bugs me it’s that, though it is endearing, it’s a little weird that the girl was so attached to her doll that she constantly thought about it even in adulthood and even made the logo of her toy store a picture of it. I have a stuffed animal that means a lot to me, so I kinda understand where she’s coming from, but still. Though I’m likely looking too much into that. It’s probably difficult to forget Daru’s design anyway. It’s like a jellybean in a cute wittle hat. :3

As for the voice acting, there are only two lines spoken here and they’re (English Dub) perfectly fine. The rest, barring music and sound effects is completely silent.

Bottomline: At ten minutes, there’s no reason not to sit down and watch this at least once. It’s a really adorable little short that I believe will tug at everyone’s heartstrings, especially if you had that one special toy when you were a kid that meant a lot to you.

Additional Information and Notes: Tabisuru Nuigurumi: Traveling Daru was directed by Ushio Tazawa and produced by CoMix Wave Films.

Runtime: 10 minutes

Year: 2012

Recommended Audience: Does this sound like a Tarantino movie? 0+

Inuyasha Movie 1 – Affections Touching Across Time Review

Rating: 7/10

Plot: After Kagome broke the Shikon Jewel, one of the shards was embedded in the resting place of Menomaru, the son of Hyoga, one of Inuyasha’s father’s, Inutaisho’s, greatest enemies. Menomaru sends out his henchmen to find the fang that sealed his father’s power away so that he can inherit it and rule the world. Oh and kill Inuyasha as trickled down revenge for his father, but for some reason not Sesshomaru.

Breakdown: Channeling my inner Inuyasha fan, this movie was pretty good. Most anime movies feel like an extended episode of the TV series, but this at least felt like a condensed arc of the series. It does seem weird to me that Inuyasha’s father only seems to be put into the series when a movie comes around.

Menomaru is a moth demon and he’s…a villain. He’s pretty boring, to be honest. He has no real personality beyond the typical revenge/rule the world chestnut. And I really would like an explanation as to why he never targeted Sesshomaru during this little crusade. He’s Inutaisho’s son too. The only reason he was even in this movie was because his minions mistook the Tenseiga for the Tetsusaiga as the fang that was needed to unseal Hyoga’s power.

In regards to the title of the movie, Menomaru has the power to control people through half taijitu jewels placed on the forehead. He controlled Kirara through one and Kagome with another. After attacking Kaede, Kagome targets Inuyasha while wearing priestess robes, making her look like Kikyo. Obviously, this is so they could make the replay of Kikyo shooting Inuyasha 50 years ago again. Because that scene needs to be shown over and over and over and over and over and over and over.

She chases him down right in front of the sacred tree, how convenient, and shoots him with an arrow. I think this is a mirror of something, but I can’t quite remember. If only I saw the scene a few thousand more times.

Kikyo happens upon the scene and sternly tells Kagome that she needs to go home and leave Inuyasha forever because she doesn’t belong in their era and she ended up injuring Inuyasha…I guess because of that fact? How does that make sense? Kikyo knows she was being controlled. She also tells her to take the Shikon jewel shard with her….well, that certainly doesn’t belong in her era. The only point in leaving her with those shards is to allow her to come back later.

She tells her that, since Menomaru has awakened the Tree of Ages and that the Bone-eaters’ well is made of wood from the Tree of Ages, that it will soon overgrow and she’ll no longer be able to go back to her world. Also, because of that, her era is now frozen over in an eternal winter….Ya know, usually when people say that an era is frozen in time they mean that time has stopped not that perpetual winter has struck.

Kagome doesn’t want to leave Inuyasha, but Kikyo’s mighty voice of yelling somehow pushes her into the well.

She finds that, indeed, her era is prematurely plunged into winter as snow comes down from the sky.

Fast forward, yada yada, she puts her hand to the sacred tree that Inuyasha’s still laying in front of in the feudal era and she talks to him through the trees because THE POWER OF LURV!!! ❤ Or Shikon jewel shards, they never make it clear. He….hugs her through some sort of weird purgatory world, I dunno, and she uses her sacred arrow to get rid of the branches and come back to him. And…that’s it, really. At least for that supposedly focal arc.

In my opinion, the storyline with Kirara and Sango was much more emotionally impacting. Sango refuses to fight Kirara and ends up getting hit by her and thrown through the air. As a tear from Sango hits Kirara’s taijitu thing, she snaps out of it and starts bashing her head against a tree to break the jewel. She does, exhausting herself in the process, and, together, they kick Menomaru’s minion’s ass. It is, by far, the best scene in the movie and it makes me want to cry.

For people who have never seen Inuyasha, it holds up okay. They pretty much explain everyone and the entirety of the plot, though I don’t think that they mention Naraku, which is odd. Kikyo seems a bit out of character in this movie, and Sesshomaru’s there for fanservice and not even the fun kind.

Art and Animation: The art actually seems like a step down from the usual fare. The animation’s a step up, though, so that’s something. There is some rather bad CGI in there too.

Music: Inuyasha’s soundtrack has always been wonderful, and it’s just as great here. The big climax is scored amazingly, and it still sends shivers up my spine. The ending theme is also memorable and great.

Voice Acting: English – Same as the TV series. There’s some lameness in the dub script, but it’s all good.

Bottomline: It’s a pretty good movie. Nothing fantastic, but still a great ride for Inuyasha lovers and a decent watch for anyone who’s never seen it.

Additional Information and Notes: Inuyasha: Affections Touching Across Time was directed by Toshiya Shinohara, who actually went on to direct all of the future Inuyasha movies.

It was produced by Sunrise, but, oddly enough, the production was not done by the same studio sub-division as the original series was.

Runtime: One hour and forty Minutes.

Year: 2001

Recommended Audience: No real blood, no nudity, no sex, Miroku’s usually lechery, some violence….10+?