SSBS – Saint Seiya Episode 2

SSBS - Saint Seiya Episode 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SSBS – Tokyo Mew Mew Episode 30

SSBS - TMM EP 30 SCREEN1

Plot: Aoyama has been kinda flaky lately, so Moe and Miwa bring Ichigo to the school fortune teller, Mariko, to see what’s up. Mariko manages to quell her fears by telling her to trust him more and be honest about her feelings to him. She also ‘psychically’ sees that she and Aoyama are a great match for each other.

Ichigo meets up with Aoyama later that night, and he’s happy to see her. He apologizes to her for being so flaky and states that kendo club is eating up all of his time lately.

Later, everything’s going great for Ichigo and Aoyama, and she’s so happy about it that she seeks out Mariko to thank her. She finds Mariko at the soccer field and notices that she’s staring at a soccer player named Shunsuke. She quickly deduces that Mariko has a case of unrequited love for Shunsuke and believes him to be dating someone else that she sees at the field.

Ichigo overhears Mariko giving Shunsuke some psychic advice to be honest with the feelings of his loved one and admit them to the girl at a park with a fountain on Sunday.

When Ichigo finally meets with Mariko to thank her, she admits that she was eavesdropping on her and Shunsuke’s conversation. Mariko doesn’t want to butt in and ruin Shunsuke’s love for another girl, so she wants to support his efforts and ensure his happiness.

That Sunday, Ichigo goes to the park and finds Shunsuke. She hides behind a tree and is surprised to find Mariko also hiding. Ichigo encourages Mariko to go be honest about her feelings, like she told her to be with Aoyama, but, Shunsuke being her childhood friend and love, she still doesn’t want to get in the way of his love.

They’re about to watch Shunsuke meet his crush when Kisshu suddenly appears, demanding Mariko’s crystal ball. They’ve detected Mew Aqua within it and will not leave without it. Ichigo tells Mariko to run, but Kisshu pursues. Shunsuke sees Mariko in danger and jumps in the way of Kisshu’s soul-extracting ability.

He creates a chimera animal with Shunsuke’s spirit, creating a giant elephant monster, before nabbing the crystal ball.

Ichigo struggles with the chimera animal, and the other Mews show up to help by trying to get the ball away from Kisshu. Mariko also gets knocked out, but Ichigo’s too preoccupied with the chimera animal to help her. The Blue Knight rushes in to help Ichigo and gives her advice on how to defeat the creature.

Ichigo manages to take the chimera animal down, but the crystal ball breaks in the scuffle. The ball was merely ordinary crystal afterall since Mew Aqua would never break like that.

Mariko and Shunsuke wake up, and as Mariko is about to leave Shunsuke to have his date in peace, he tells her to check her email. She sees that he tried to ask her on a date in the park at the fountain, but failed to get the message.

They confess to each other, after having a bit of a back and forth bicker, and the girls look on in content, happy their friend has found love.

Turns out, Mariko was faking at being a fortune teller anyway and quits after her ball is broken.

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– Yeah, bring Ichigo to a fortune teller to help understand why Aoyama’s being flaky instead of just telling her to ask him what’s up. Well, we needed a plot I suppose.

– Mariko: “Oh sorry. I scare people because I’m unfriendly.” Pbbbahahahahah!

– I like Mariko. She’s actually a pretty good advice giver under the guise of a fortune teller, and I like her personality. Although, is this problem really an issue of trust?

Aoyama’s being flaky and brushing off Ichigo, though not being that rude about it. She’s worried that he’s losing interest in her. That seems like a valid concern given the evidence. She trusts Aoyama. It’s not like she thinks he’s off with some other girl or is doing something bad – she just worries that Aoyama’s no longer emotionally involved.

To her credit, Mariko later tells Ichigo to be honest with him about her feelings, which is much better, but the trust thing still bothers me a little.

– Also, hi, budget episode. I see you’re giving everyone swollen cheeks today.

– Why did Shunsuke’s spirit become an elephant?…..Why did it yell “I’m an elephant!” when it arose?

– Yes, Ichigo, transform right in front of Mariko. Who cares about secret identities anyway?

– Ichigo had to be told by The Blue Knight that this elephant monster was slow….Come on, girl.

– What is up with the falsely identifying Mew Aqua? It seems silly the types of things they’ll wrongly detect. Granted, the ball did glow a bit earlier, but that doesn’t really mean anything. Ichigo would’ve sensed it, had it been active enough to glow.

– Yay convenient amnesia! Is that officially a magical girl trope yet?

– This plot was already insanely predictable, but the reason the meeting happened without her knowing she was the girl he was trying to confess to was because she failed to check her email? Wow.

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I liked this episode because I found Mariko to be a very good character, in spite of being a flash-in-the-pan-we’ll-never-see-her-again character. I believe she had better chemistry with Ichigo and was more interesting than either Moe or Miwa. I’m sad to see her go…..but, that being said, like I mentioned already, this plot is very predictable.

Right when they set up her unrequited love and this nameless, voiceless potential love interest for Shunsuke, you know exactly what’s going on and what will happen. There are zero surprises. The other Mews seemed like an afterthought, yet again, the Blue Knight showed up for all of three seconds just to spout out the obvious trick to beating the Chimera Animal, and even the problem with Aoyama wasn’t very well-written.

Seriously, Aoyama of all people was seemingly sneaking around just because he was busy with kendo? He’d tell Ichigo that as soon as it became any sort of issue. She mentioned he canceled a date the previous weekend – he would’ve definitely told her then.

While the animation didn’t technically suffer, the art was terribad in this episode. Swollen cheeks, weird angular designs and warped faces weren’t that distracting but they were certainly noticeable.

These issues didn’t distract a great deal from an otherwise enjoyable episode, but there were still there.

Next episode, Ichigo’s dad finds out that she’s dating Aoyama and is livid about the situation. Will he stand in the way of their love?

Episode One-Derland: Gasaraki

Plot: Uhm….pbbbbttt…..A mech pilot dances and tries to summon Satan?

Breakdown: I’ve seen a lot of boring anime in my time.

And this is one of them.

I swear to God, if I wasn’t falling asleep while watching this, I was trying to understand what half the cast was talking about.

The first half of the episode has our main character, Yushiro, piloting a mech in a simulation. He infiltrates some building and is about do…something when they stop the simulation. This part of the episode is only there to tell us that Yushiro is special somehow because…his heart rate increases substantially when he’s on a mission?

The second half has Yushiro in somewhat of a Noh dance. It’s quite the jarring transition, actually. I was questioning whether the video spliced in a different show or something.

The dance takes up the entire second half, and we soon realize that he’s meant to use this dance to go into a trance and summon something called ‘The terror,’ which is about as bland as humanly possible.

A girl…in a…spiderweb cocoon? Contacts him psychically, tries to kill him, but fails. There are people manipulating the girl. He keeps summoning the terror then stops as they enter the final stage because the girl told him not to.

And that’s it. That’s the episode. Just add about 150 lines of ‘science’ or ‘magic’ babble that is never explained and imagine I hired Ben Stein to recite all of that.

Holy hell, it is massively boring. Speaking on a first episode basis, it fails on practically every level. I don’t know anything about the world they’re living in, outside of it seemingly meant to be set in modern day Japan, I think.

I have no clue about any of the characters – not even Yushiro. There’s one ominous bad guy manipulating Yushiro. There’s another ominous bad guy manipulating the blue haired girl. They both look very similar outside of one wears glasses. The girl is…..I have no clue. I would say she’s nice, but she tried to psychically murder Yushiro for no given reason sooooo….

Yushiro’s the worst bland offender. Not only do we barely get two words out of the guy before the end of the episode, but his face is obscured through 98% of the runtime. He’s wearing either a half-mask or a full face mask for all of it. When he does talk, he’s only repeating what the blue haired girl said about not bringing back the terror, and finally tells it to go back when it’s nearly summoned. And he can’t even add a drop of emotion to that.

It’s like it’s a big reveal when he finally takes off his mask. Like, ha! I have an identity! But his face is absolutely forgettable (It’s like when people saw Kakashi without his mask for the first time. Lots of buildup for “Oh, it’s normal”), and his actions after he takes it off are the polar opposite of anything epic. It’s not worth the psuedo-buildup at all.

Yushiro has a sister, whom we learn even less of, he was…taken from his home (?) and he’s special somehow. That’s all we know about him.

I feel like there might be something interesting here in terms of ideas, but the best I’ve heard about this show’s plot in reviews is – Kavik Ryx of Nihon Anime Reviews “However, to its credit, there are moments dealing with the SSDF and Japan’s economic crisis that are quite riveting. What is done with real world politics is absolutely uncanny, in a good way. There is something to be said when an anime’s highpoint revolves around the price of grain exports.” Oh boy, I can’t wait for that….grain…export….crescendo….

I’ve been told that the first episode is universally seen as a major weak point of the series because it leaves the audience with very little information and fails to grip the viewer in any way. Supposedly, you need to watch at least the first four episodes to get any sort of real grasp on the plot and characters, but, I’m sorry. You can’t give me dirty dishwater as an appetizer and expect me to order a four course meal.

Nearly every full review I’ve read of this anime tops out the rating as mediocre at best, and a lot of the praise seems to be going more towards the production values than the story or characters, so I don’t even feel compelled to make the trudge on the promise of something better.

I will say this, though. This was one of the most realistic uses of computers I’ve seen in a while. They move the windows, we get to see the cursor, they use menus and everything. They don’t just bash on their keyboards and have ten thousands things happening at once.

It also has pretty good art and fluid animation. The mechs are uninspired, and nothing strikes me as amazing, but it’s nice.

The music is also a positive. The ED in particular was gentle and calming…which is a tad problematic when you’re already falling asleep.

Final Verdict:

750spsl

If you have a lot of patience, do like some have said and watch the first four episodes to see if it grips you. However, I can’t see myself returning to this. I need much more substance in a first episode to justify going through more boredom.

SSBS – Tokyo Mew Mew Episode 29

SSBS - TMM EP 29 SCREEN1

Plot: As Ichigo’s about to board a train, she runs into a cat and finds that she can understand its speech. Later, the same cat, named Asano, appears at the cafe. It seems that her being able to understand cats is yet another side-effect of her Mew powers as she is the only one able to understand Asano.

Asano wants to ask Ichigo for a favor. He is in love with a fancy Lilac Point Siamese cat named Jacqueline. They fell for each other in a kind of Aladdin and Jasmine type of way. Ever since their first meeting, Asano has brought her a sardine, something she couldn’t enjoy because her owners always fed her fancy cat foods. Ever since Asano brought her one to try, she’s loved them, and she started loving him soon after. One day, Jacqueline’s owners locked the windows, likely to keep her away from Asano. However, Asano was adamant to always return, day after day, with a sardine, knowing that one day her owners would open the windows again.

Jacqueline made a wish to see the world outside of her window and eat lots of sardines. Asano promised her that he’d take her on that journey the next time those windows opened. Time went on, and Jacqueline stopped coming to the window. Soon after, he noticed a sign on their gate that said the owners have moved to their condo.

He asks Ichigo if she’ll help find her and reunite them. Lettuce agrees to help too, but they’re disheartened when they can’t find the new address. Asano catches her scent and they spot a poster nearby with a picture of Jacqueline. Her owners are preparing an arranged marriage at a cat fair and are calling for possible suitors who are also Lilac Point cats.

Aoyama explains the nature of the cat fair to the girls. It’s a huge gathering of fancy cat owners who find suitable mates for their cats so they can make kittens and earn copious amounts of money selling the kittens.

Lettuce and Ichigo cook up a plan. They have Pudding paint Asano the proper colors to pass as a Lilac Point Siamese cat and enter him into the competition so he’ll have a chance at being chosen for Jacqueline’s mate.

Asano runs off when he catches wind of Jacqueline’s scent. Just as Ichigo and the others are about to give chase, Masha pops up and states that he senses a Chimera Animal nearby.

Mint and Pudding send Ichigo and Lettuce off to help Asano while they try to investigate the Chimera Animal’s location.

Asano finds Jacqueline and tries to free her from her cage so they can run away together, but Jacqueline, shockingly, doesn’t want to leave. She wants to be with Asano, but her owner now has no one left but her. Her owners were an older couple, and the wife recently passed away. Before she died, the wife asked Jacqueline to care for the husband and be by his side in her place. Because she doesn’t want him to be lonely, she wishes to stay.

Understanding her plight, Asano accepts her decision and tearfully runs away. As he runs, a tank of water is suddenly knocked over, splashing water all over Asano and revealing his true colors. He nervously tries to play it cool, but is obviously heartbroken. Lettuce vehemently encourages him to not give up just because the circumstances are bad, especially because forcing a couple together, even if they’re cats, is wrong.

As Jacqueline is being sweet-talked by another Lilac Point cat, named Michel, Asano bursts in and claims he won’t give up his love. Jacqueline rushes by Michel and quickly nuzzles with Asano. Angered at being snubbed and rejected for an unrefined cat, Michel gets possessed by a parasite alien and turned into a Chimera Animal.

Asano jumps in the way of its attack, injuring his leg in the process.

The girls transform and Ichigo uses her bell to play with the Chimera Cat, distracting it long enough to get a good shot with her Ribbon Strawberry Surprise. The Chimera Cat is defeated, but Asano is still hurt.

Jacqueline’s owner thanks Asano for protecting Jacqueline as she’s the most precious memory of his deceased wife. He explains that he remembers Asano as the cat that visited Jacqueline every day. He knew they meant something to each other, but wanted to find a more suitable suitor for Jacqueline. He realizes, after seeing Asano risk his life to save her, that he was wrong and that Asano is the best suitor for her. He takes him in, allowing Asano and Jacqueline to be a family with him for the rest of their lives.

———————-

– Do they really stop trains if a stray animal gets on board? I’d get it if it was something huge or dangerous, but a cat?

– Blah blah blah, why does she get another special Mew Mew Power when the others don’t? Blah blah blah.

To clarify, it’s been implied that Zakuro can maybe talk to dogs/canines, based solely on her supposedly being able to speak with Mint’s dog, Miki, that one time, and I remember something about Mint later being able to maybe somehow communicate with birds I think, but still.

– I love how the others are all listening intently to Asano’s story even though, for the most part, all they’re hearing is ‘Meow meow meow’ over and over while Ichigo sometimes interrupts to repeat information for the sake of letting the other girls in on the conversation.

It’s even funnier because, later in the story, it’s like they understand what he’s saying even though Ichigo has given them no updates.

– What stupid owners Jacqueline has. “We’ve moved to our condo.” Yeah, that’s helpful. It’s almost like that message was purposely vague for the sake of this episode not being ‘Oh hey a forwarding address!’ *credits*

SSBS - TMM EP 29 SCREEN2

– Okay, I am not about to add ‘Arranged marriages for cats’ in my Google history – is this really a thing? Even just a fancy rich person thing?

– Also, what a weird turn of events. We go from a fairly believable cat love story to a cat needing to stop the marriage of his lover because her owners are forcing it.

– Why does Aoyama know about cat marriage?

– Why is cat marriage so huge that there’s a massively popular fair about it?

– Aoyama: “You see, the kittens can be sold for a handsome price.” Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….Money. Gotcha.

– I was going to ask what Aoyama’s point was here besides just being an exposition dump for the cat fair, but I suppose uber-activist Aoyama would be able to sympathize with the morally questionable nature of this cat fair.

– Do they really believe these snooty rich snobs will buy that a painted street cat will pass as a Lilac Point Siamese cat? Not only will the paint be pretty damn obvious, but these people like to analyze the hell out of these cats to make sure they’re as perfect as possible, like they do at dog shows. I’m pretty sure they will notice. Even the biggest idiot would probably notice. It’s not just the colors either. Siamese cats have one of the most well-known and notable body shapes of any cat. Asano looks nothing like that. This whole plan is stupid.

– Wow, they literally just poofed in a Chimera Animal plot out of nowhere like they forgot this was a magical girl show.

– Who the hell knocked over that tank of water? Why is no one trying to clean it up? Did they really include the swimming cat just so we can dramatically wash away Asano’s paint?

– Again, Lettuce is acting like she understands what’s going on even though she can’t understand a word of what these cats are saying.

– Wait, this is what the Omiai (arranged marriage) thing with the cats is? Just show the girl cat and prance out the boys in front of her and see if they start porking on stage or something? Pbbtthahahah!

– And, of course, the first guy has to be a complete ego-driven douche….then again….he is a cat….

SSBS - TMM EP 29 SCREEN3

– Behold, the only love story you’ll ever see where the dramatic crescendo is the girl proclaiming that she loves sardines.

– This Chimera Animal was extremely forced. We only met Michel a minute ago, and there was obviously no way he’d stand a chance.

– Oddly, this is one of the better designed Chimera Animals.

– I know Pudding is naturally a happy and excitable girl, but she sees Asano be clawed away by the Chimera Animal and while the others are serious, stating they need to transform, Pudding has a really happy expression and gleefully yells ‘Let’s go!’ A little sympathy, Pudding.

– Also, after the transformation sequence, she yells out ‘it’s a big kitty!’ Uh…yeah. This happened a little while ago. Pay attention, Pudding.

– Since when is Ichigo’s bell a boomerang?

– Ichigo: “Secret technique: Cat amuser!” This seems like a real ability she has because, 1) it explains why her bell is suddenly a boomerang and 2) it actually does temporarily incapacitate the Chimera Cat. In which case, no matter how silly, this is yet another power being given to Ichigo and it seems like a power that is really only useful for this one situation.

SSBS - TMM EP 29 SCREEN4

– Nice to know that Lettuce, Mint and Pudding were entirely useless this episode. Not only did they contribute nothing to the battle, but they did nothing in this episode as a whole. You could argue that Lettuce helped encourage Asano, but I really feel like they gave her lines that were meant to be Ichigo’s considering she’s the only one who can actually talk to the cats. They just seemed needlessly shoved into the episode for the sake of having all of the girls there.

I usually like when they’re inclusive and dislike when all of the focus is on Ichigo, but not just for the sake of including them. This has been going on for like five episodes now.

– Also, again, they just transformed and battled in front of all of these people. Surely some of them were videotaping or taking pictures. You suck at your jobs.

– Yeah, tell the cat with the severely wounded leg to come to you, jackass. Get a vet, for god’s sake.

– It was sweet of him to compare their love for each other like his love for his wife.

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I have always been and continue to be confused as to my feelings on this episode. On one hand, it’s filler, but on the other hand it can’t really be ignored because it includes a new power for Ichigo (The cat communication not the cat toy thing)

On one hand, this power is never brought up again (If I recall correctly), but on the other hand it does seem like a major missed opportunity considering animals are meant to be a cornerstone of this show. Likewise, this whole cat love storyline is pointless, but I kinda want more stories in this same vein because, again, this show is supposed to have a bit of a focus on animals. Outside of chimera animals, we don’t get many plotlines about actual animals.

On yet another hand, despite seeming really out of place in this series, I did enjoy the cat story because it’s cute and pretty sad. However, the cat marriage thing just seems ridiculous, even for this show. For all I know, this stuff does go on, but from a clueless outside observer, this just seems silly.

On one foot, the Chimera Animal sequence is incredibly forced, really short and is defeated through a stupid one-off ‘ability’ Ichigo suddenly has. On the other foot, it did serve a fairly good purpose of getting Asano and Jacqueline together.

On your foot, the other girls served absolutely no purpose today and seemed even more wedged in there than the Chimera Animal. On your other foot…..nope I think I’m out.

This episode is very much middle of the road. If they didn’t force the Chimera Animal in there and understanding cat speech wasn’t a necessity, this could easily be the plot of practically any other shoujo show. Oddly, the worst parts of this episode are the Mew Mews simply because they’re not necessary. Their part was really lazily written. I did like the main plot, though, because their cat love and even the story of Jacqueline’s owners was pretty sweet.

Next episode, fortune telling!….Is that a magical girl trope too? Because I feel like fortune telling is in a lot of magical girl shows.

Green Blood (Manga) Review

Rating: 7.5/10

Plot: The year was 1865, New York USA. After the assassination of Lincoln, the country remained as divided as ever. Nonetheless, immigrants from all over the world started flocking to the United States to seek out a better life. Many of these individuals ended up in a place called Five Points, the worst slum in the world.

In a place wrought with poverty, violence and misery, it takes blood, sweat and tears just to get by. Brad Burns and his brother, Luke, wish for nothing more than to earn enough money to get a plot of land for themselves and live their lives happily.

Luke does this by doing tough jobs out at the harbor.

Brad does this by being the number one assassin of one of the roughest gangs in Five Points, the Grave Diggers. He’s so well known and so widely feared, that he’s earned the moniker of the Grim Reaper.

Breakdown: Here’s an example of a manga that had a fairly unique setting, a good starting point and great characters, but ultimately ended up falling a bit short because the overarching plotline is just not that strong.

Don’t let the plot synopsis fool you. This whole story amounts to mostly just a tale of revenge. Brad and Luke are the bastard children of a man named Edward King – an Irish immigrant who is the leader of one of the most feared gangs in the country, the Crimson Gang. He has a $15,000 bounty on his head, and is ruthless to the point of psychopathy.

King killed Brad and Luke’s mother, and they’ve desired revenge ever since. When there’s a massive blowup between the gangs in Five Points, both Brad and Luke decide to set out and kill him once and for all.

Along the way, they cover topics like racism against black people and the plight of the Native Americans as their land continues to get ripped from them and they get slaughtered by the thousands. While I wouldn’t say these plots are forced into the story, it don’t feel like it quite meshes with everything as well as it could’ve. These stories are meant to highlight not only the hardships of these people in the 1800s, but also how much Luke struggles with dropping his innocent nature and becoming the hardened fighter he needs to be in order to take down King.

It’s very important to explore this because it’s a massive part of Luke’s character development, but I still feel like the combination is the tiniest bit awkward.

One of the biggest problems is that Edward King is not a compelling antagonist. He’s just a massive asshole through and through. He’ll kill whomever he has to, even his own children, of which he cares nothing about, to achieve his goals. He doesn’t even have any solid goals outside of money and murder. He gains control of these areas and just abandons them, I suppose because he gets bored of them.

He’s intimidating, but he’s hardly memorable. I had to flip back through the chapters to even remember his gang’s name.

That’s the problem with all of the antagonists in this manga, to be honest. They’re all just psychotic assholes who flippantly maim, murder and rob. They don’t have any personality beyond that.

The story ends pretty much as you’d expect it to. It’s a good ending that wraps things up nicely, but it’s predictable. Also, it’s slightly depressing given how the conflict ended up.

Onto more positive notes, the art is astonishingly good. The details, the lighting, the landscapes, they’re all amazing. If I had one negative to say about the art is that some of the action scenes are a little hard to make out, but other than that it’s brutally gorgeous.

I stayed invested in the story from start to finish, and I find Brad to be a slick badass. Luke even becomes quite the badass near the end. However, I can’t deny that I was more invested in their story back when they were at Five Points. Their travels, beyond the story with Jenny and her mother, just didn’t connect with me as much. They were good stories that were fairly well-written, and I give them a lot of credit for even discussing that stuff in a manga of all things, but I felt like it was more connected and focused back in Five Points. I didn’t like jumping around.

Overall, this is a solid old west style gritty manga with lots of action, emotion, hope and badassery. It’s not breaking any new ground or living up to what I believe is its full potential, but it’s still a very good manga that I would gladly recommend.

Additional Information and Notes:

Green Blood was written and illustrated by Kakizaki Masasumi and it was published by Young Magazine.

Volumes: 5

Year: 2011 – 2013

Recommended Audience: Green Blood is filled with blood, a decent amount of gore, nudity and some sexual situations. People get killed a lot in various ways, and it’s hard to find a kind soul in this whole manga outside of the main characters. There are also numerous racial slurs and foul language. 16+

SSBS – Tokyo Mew Mew Episode 28

SjSBS - TMM Ep 28

Plot: After nearly kissing a sleeping Aoyama, Ichigo suddenly fully transforms into a small black cat. She panics and runs away, mindlessly wandering all over town.

Shirogane and Akasaka deduce what is happening to Ichigo through some tufts of fur on the floor of the cafe, leading Shirogane to go searching for her.

After running through the streets in the middle of the night, barely escaping the embrace of a creepy male cat, Ichigo finds herself being taken in by Aoyama. She’s flustered by his care, even moreso when he gives her a bath, and is extremely tempted to kiss Aoyama in his sleep as he seems to call her name in a dream. Ichigo decides to give him a small kiss, but ends up accidentally giving his dog a kiss on the nose instead.

The kiss triggers her transformation back to a human, which only makes her panic more. She manages to wriggle out of Aoyama’s embrace and tries to escape out the window. However, Aoyama’s dog tries to follow her. In an effort to get him to shoo, she makes a bit too much noise and Aoyama starts to wake up. Right before he awakens, the dog again gives her a kiss and she turns back to cat form.

Aoyama goes back to sleep when he sees that the noise was just the cat and Ichigo escapes out the window. As Ichigo laments on the revelation that she’ll never be able to kiss Aoyama again out of fear she’ll be ousted as a Mew Mew, the creepy cat from earlier shows up and tries to kiss her again. This time, she’s saved by the sudden appearance of a gray cat with a green neckerchief.

Ichigo is suddenly knocked into a nearby river and is saved by the same gray cat, who introduces himself as Alto. When Ichigo comes to, she finds herself face to face with Shirogane. Alto has mysteriously gone missing and Ichigo has inexplicably turned human again.

Shirogane explains that the only way for her to stop turning into a cat when kissed is to complete the Mew Project.

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– So the in-canon explanation for why Ichigo is the only one of the Mews who turns into the full version of her animal is because she’s increasing in ability faster than they are and ‘maybe it only affects Ichigo, I don’t know.’ ~ Akasaka.

In essence, Ichigo’s special and the writers are too lazy to come up with a legitimate reason as to why the others are faltering and don’t go through these changes. Feh.

– Ichigo: “I can’t return to Cafe Mew Mew or home like this…”….Errr….why? Go home and they might let a cute little cat in until they find its owner (Ichigo has both her neck bell and tail ribbon still on, so it’s easy to assume she’d be someone’s pet.)

As for Cafe Mew Mew….I don’t understand why she can’t go back there at all. That seems like it would be the absolute best place to go. They know of these issues. Maybe not this severe, but still. She had no trouble telling them that she gets cat ears and a tail when she’s upset and that she has cat-like behaviors, why is it so different to show that she fully turned into a cat?

For that matter, why are Shirogane and Akasaka keeping their suspicions about Ichigo a secret from the other girls? Wouldn’t it be better to tell them so they can go help find her? At least tell them out of courtesy just in case the same thing happens to them?

Why does this whole thing need to be so secretive besides ‘the plot said so’?

– It’s been years since I first watched this show and I still get the heebie-jeebies thinking about Ichigo basically nearly getting raped in cat form by a giant creepy-ass cat. I know, this is a kids show and he was trying to kiss her, but uh, yeah, cats don’t do kissing. They don’t date. They do the nasty and don’t ask questions.

SjSBS - TMM Ep 28 Screen1

– Our mid-episode cliffhanger is….Ichigo freaking out because she believes she’ll be taking a bath with a naked Aoyama (and, technically, she’s also naked, though her clothes seem to have transformed with her so…??) Stupid cliffhanger excuse out of the way…..they’re 12…..and she’s a cat. This is very uncomfortable. Also, considering the near cat rape a minute ago, what the unholy hell is going on with this episode?

– Ichigo, of course he wasn’t going to actually take a bath with a cat. I’m sure, like most guys, he treasures his nether regions and would not appreciate the high consequences of being naked in a tub of water with a cat.

– Ya know, oddly, this is not the first anime I’ve seen with a female character being a black cat, being taken in by her love interest, and kissing her love interest while he’s sleeping, turning her into a human……..Not kidding. Sailor Moon Super S movie. Look it up. (Also, being fair, in this circumstance, she didn’t succeed in kissing the guy. Still counts.)

– This is one of the more severe issues I always had with this transformation – that kissing is the trigger for it. I gave the initial transformation a pass because it’s been shown time and again that Ichigo’s ears and tail pop out when she gets all hot and bothered by Aoyama. It makes sense because the stress or excitement of these circumstances prompts the reaction. Nearly kissing him was too much for her to handle, especially given recent developments in their relationship.

However, I do not understand or buy that kissing someone, anyone or anything, turns her back to human. That makes no sense outside of 1) being some goofy fairy tale crap meant to pander to the even younger than usual girls watching this show and 2) being a big plot device for romantic issues and causing shenanigans.

Why does kissing turn her back if nearly kissing is what caused it? If stress and excitement cause the transformation, it only makes sense that Ichigo should transform back when she’s calm. That’s what happens when her ears and tail emerge. She calms down and they go away after a little bit.

They could’ve taken the opportunity of her clearly being incredibly content with the warmth of the hair dryer and being all cozy in Aoyama’s house to turn her back. Afterall, she has been freaked out since the instant it happened and was only calm again after her bath and Aoyama went to bed.

What’s even weirder is that the kiss can be from quite literally anyone or anything. Quick peck to a dog’s nose? Works. Same dog puts his face on her mouth for no reason? Works.

From this point on, kissing anyone or anything is the trigger for her cat form. Meaning, dunanana romantic pairing roadblock, Ichigo can’t kiss Aoyama without him knowing her secret. Oh the drama.

– Great, now Ichigo’s being hit on by a random drunk middle aged man………..while in cat form…..Was he seriously about to kiss her on the lips? What the hell is wrong with this episode?!

SjSBS - TMM Ep 28 Screen2

– Oh goodie, a reprise of rapist cat.

– Alto is Shirogane. Spoiler alert and stuff. Only reason I don’t care about spilling this is because this secret identity doesn’t matter. Why is he keeping the fact that he’s Alto or has the power to into a cat a secret? How does that benefit him? He works with a group of girls who all have the powers of endangered animals, and they all get some physical characteristics of the animals when transformed. This stemming from the same project that gave him this ability. I think they wouldn’t care much nor would they blab his secret if it’s a weakness or what have you.

At the very least, you’d think he’d be fine telling Ichigo. She’s basically a kindred spirit now that she can also fully transform into a cat. Why does he obtain a green scarf when he transforms into a cat for that matter? And why does his voice seem to change quite a bit when it happens too? Ichigo sounds the same.

– Shirogane: “Why didn’t you return to the cafe after you turned into a cat?!”

Ichigo: “Hey, I’ve had it pretty rough tonight too! I had so much trouble I couldn’t even think of that!”

Uh, yes you did, you little liar. You said to yourself that you couldn’t go back to your house or the cafe but you gave no reason why. Seriously, this is a major league plot hole that they stupidly decide to bring up just to screw up in explanation.

– Why is Ichigo not asking how she’s back into human form? They’ve both established that the transformation (back to human anyway) only happens when she’s kissed. She should be able to come to the conclusion that either Alto kissed her or Shirogane did and the possibility of the second should be enough to freak her out in embarrassment because Shirogane’s part of Ichigo’s love shape.

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This episode was B.O.R.I.N.G. My god. So boring. This whole ‘turning into a cat thing’ is just a flat out plot device meant for shenanigans and to drive a minor wedge between Ichigo and Aoyama now that they’ve advanced further in their relationship.

The trigger for her transformation is just silly, especially in the transformation back to human. Like I said, it is fully understandable that it happened the first time because she was damn near having a panic attack while attempting to kiss Aoyama. We’ve established that her emotions trigger mild cat transformations in her ears and tail, so the full transformation is understandable. But the fact that the trigger is not the emotional state and is purely the kiss is just ridiculous.

What makes it even worse is that Ichigo didn’t even kiss anyone the first time. She came very close to Aoyama’s lips but clearly transformed before they ever touched. So maybe it’s an emotional trigger under extreme circumstances but Sleeping Beauty rules everywhere else?

It’s also filled with a bunch of uncomfortable scenes and weird shenanigans like the rapist cat, Aoyama giving Ichigo a bath and kissing Aoyama’s dog on the lips.

Nothing important happens this episode besides establishing things that aren’t really consequential. Alto’s appearance is…something I guess, but I also never felt that was a very important piece of the plot. Truth be told, I completely forgot that aspect of his character until I got back to this episode. It just never…matters much. It’s a link/hint to his backstory, but that’s about it.

What’s even worse is that….there’s no Mew Mew action in this episode….at all. The girls spend the entirety of the run time cleaning up the mess at the cafe after the last attack. Shirogane and Akasaka talk, discussing a really far fetched piece of evidence that doesn’t make much sense (She was leaving her fur behind at the cafe, which lead them to believe she turned into a cat, but she didn’t even start transforming until she was in that field with Aoyama. Why not just believe it was her tail or ear fur from the battle or something? Why conclude she turned fully into a cat?) and then Shirogane wanders around town looking for Ichigo and Ichigo spends the episode dicking around as a cat. Kisshu and friends don’t even have so much as a cameo, and there’s definitely no chimera animal.

Even the most fillery of fillers usually at least chuck a cheap battle in there, but nope. Ichigo’s Cat Adventures is apparently a hopeful spin off.

What does it all amount to, really? Just one more reason why it’s super duper important to beat the aliens and complete the Mew Project? Well, damn. They weren’t really all that invested in doing it before, but now that Ichigo can’t place her mouth on her boyfriend’s mouth without turning into Figaro, it’s now imperative to take down those nasty aliens once and for all.

This has been one of the biggest wastes of time I’ve had watching an anime episode in a while. The only good spot was the scene with Aoyama was kinda sweet, but that’s about it.

And because it was so much fun, let’s continue on with slightly more Ichigo favoritism in the next episode when Ichigo learns she can talk to cats and makes it her mission to help one of them. At least it looks like we get a battle in this one.

CSBS – Rocket Power Episode 1

CSBS - RP EP1A

Plot: New Squid on the Block – In the beautiful California town of Ocean Shores lives Reggie, her brother Otto and their friend Twister. They all enjoy a wide array of extreme sports, but are unable to play street hockey since they don’t have a goalie. A meek and intelligent boy named Sam Dullard moves in across the street, and while Otto and Twister are quick to mock him for his nerdiness, Reggie welcomes him, and he even helps her with her long awaited magazine, The Zine. They try to include Sam in their hockey game, but he flails all over the place, scared to death of the puck and getting hit by the other boys. However, they realize Sam has a talent for blocking pucks and makes him their new goalie.

Down the Drain – Reggie is a housesitter for Mr. Stimpleton as he goes on vacation with Violet. She’s especially tasked with the very specific care of his high-tech pool. However, Otto and Twister have better ideas for the pool.

Breakdown: It’s always nice to go back to a show where you practically have a running teleprompter in your head scrolling down the script as you watch an episode. That was how I felt while returning to Rocket Power. I never realized how much I memorized this show. It’s not that hard to believe since I did love Rocket Power and it was on Nickelodeon all the time, especially in summer, but it’s just not one of those shows I think about too often.

Sadly, I kinda understand why.

Addressing the first half of the first episode, we’re introduced to Sam, known more ‘affectionately’ as the Squid of the group. Sam is a perfectly nice young man, and that’s exactly his problem according to Otto and Twister. They rag on him throughout the whole episode, especially Twister, though he warms up to him when Sam inherits the Squid moniker that he initially had.

Squid is not really given a full definition, but from what you can gather from the show, it’s either a new kid or, according to the Wiki, “Squid comes from the term “squirrelly” and was given to new riders who exhibited an unpredictable and unsteady riding style on account of them being new to the sport.” Given that Twister was the last Squid and he seems perfectly fine in his athletic skills, I’d say this is a mixture of that along with just being someone that the whole group rags on.

Outside of one fairly funny scene with the kids’ crotchety neighbor, Mr. Stimpleton, the episode is….not all that entertaining. They don’t make many jokes, what they do have for comedy isn’t funny, and there isn’t that much in regards to extreme sports either. They focus more on the street hockey match, which is short and not much happens in it anyway. Sam shines for a bit in practice, whacking away any and all pucks that come his way, and then he gets the puck out of Merv’s mailbox through his engineering skills.

On second look, this episode might be setting the foundation for the audience. Most kids, even in the 90s and early 00s, weren’t nearly as much into extreme sports and stuff like Otto, Reggie and Twister. Whether it was due to safety issues, overbearing parents, lack of access to places to practice these things or lack of funds to get the equipment, most kids would be into skateboarding a bit, maybe street hockey, rollerblading, but some of the later stuff they do is beyond the reach of most kids.

Plus, there’s the same issue Sam has in that a lot of kids just don’t think they belong in that world. That doesn’t change the fact that it looks awesome and seems incredibly fun, however. Introducing Sam off the bat allows the audience to connect better with one of the characters and helps them believe that they could have talent in some of these sports – they just haven’t found it. I know this show inspired me to buy a skateboard….that I was never able to ride without wiping out and hurting myself. I did get okay at rollerblading, though, and it spurred me into being a fan of hockey so I have that.

It’s a decent starter episode, but the entertainment value both in comedy and sports is fairly low. I also have a few nitpicks. 1) Sam was scared to death of the puck earlier, yet a rogue flying puck he knocks away with his bare hand without even flinching or thinking about it? Then he’s perfectly fine facing a full-on barrage of pucks flying at him at practice? Uh huh. 2) They didn’t bring any extra pucks? 3) Merv wasn’t angry that Sam was screwing with so much stuff in his house to get the puck out of his mailbox?

CSBS - RP EP1B

The second half of the episode, Down the Drain, has Reggie being left in charge of Mr. Stimpleton’s house while he and Violet (Mrs. Stimpleton) are away on vacation. Why he trusted a kid, even Reggie, to housesit when he seems to vehemently hate children is beyond me, but we need a plot. Otto, Reggie, Twister and Sam are allowed to use his super cool high-tech pool while he’s away, but he has a strict list of rules for the place that they obviously don’t obey.

They enjoy the pool for a while, but keep making fun of Sam for being reluctant to enter the ‘cold’ pool, even though Stimpleton said right before he left that he keeps the water at a nice warm 68 degrees. Sam threatens to drain the pool if they keep it up, and Otto and Twister love the idea. Reggie, not so much. They want to drain the pool so they can make a skateboard pool out of it. I don’t know why they’d bother seeing as how they live a sneeze away from a full skate park, complete with a huge skateboard pool, but whatever.

Sam: “What could possibly go wrong?”

Oh, bless your heart.

Obviously, things go wrong. Twister leaves the drain hose next to a drain, but the water pressure from the draining process forces itself into the Rocket’s basement, flooding the place and ruining all of their stuff. Which, when you think about it in hindsight, must be especially horrible because Otto and Reggie’s mom has long since passed away and I can only imagine how much of her memorabilia is down there.

This episode also introduces us to Raymundo, Otto and Reggie’s father. He comes home early to use Stimpleton’s pool because he kinda has to per sitcom plot rules. It also briefly debuts Tito – Raymundo’s best friend and somewhat mentor to the kids.

They manage to keep the basement trouble and the pool drain a secret from their dad, but Stimpleton suddenly returns. He yells at Raymundo and they both yell for Reggie, but the kids all manage to escape.

This episode was more entertaining than the first part, even though, again, Stimpleton’s house is somehow all controlled remotely – even his electric toothbrushes…?? In the first part, this made a little sense because Mr. Stimpleton had troubles with wiring and seemingly does automate his house. However, Sam was using a big remote in that part. Here, he’s somehow controlling everything from the pool CPU. Why the hell would you want it that way?

Also, this huge hunk of metal he has to control such minor things as his pool was either super ridiculous even back then or technology has advanced a hell of a lot more than I remember.

This episode also debuts one thing I always hated about Rocket Power, and still do – the weird word emphasis cards. Every now and then, when someone says a word that may or may not be particularly emphasized, a colorful title card with various animations and fonts will pop up to put even more emphasis on it. I always thought that was an incredibly lame aspect of the show, yet they kept it the entire series run.

Down the Drain was more entertaining and funnier than New Squid on the Block, but it’s still not incredibly entertaining. It’s predictable, lots of things don’t have to happen but are forced to happen because plot, but Raymundo and Tito are my favorite characters, and it’s a strong enough story I guess.

Ratings:

Part 1 – 5/10

Part 2 – 6.5/10

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 18

SSBS CFV Ep 18

Plot: They basically skip through every match until we get to the finals, then we break for lunch and that’s pretty much it.

Breakdown: This episode is a gigantic mess. It is, by far, the worst episode I’ve seen.

I’d like to apologize to anyone who read my last CFV review because I was wrong about the next episode. The preview made it seem like we’d see Goki and Kamui fight, at least in separate matches, but no.

First half, we rush through all of the remaining matches for the tournament so we can quickly get to Team Q4 vs. Team Handsome, which is kinda pointless because we don’t even get to see the start of that match in this episode.

I like tournaments because, even if they’re battling people who will obviously lose, it gives the writers the opportunity to get creative and introduce us to some interesting one-off characters. CFV doesn’t seem like they want to bother with this.

If you need more evidence, just look at the brief glimpses of the teams as they whiz by in the montage of defeat. If you thought Team Handsome was a stupid name, try Team Martial Arts, Team Chemistry Club or even Team Hot Noodles….And, yes, Team Martial arts is filled with martial artists (whose only saving grace is giving Q4 their dojo signs after they lose. That was a little funny.) Team Chemistry Club is, well, duh, and Team Hot Noodles…is a bunch of ramen cooks. How did these people even get here?

The only other team is Team Nadeshiko, who are alright in name, and their shtick is that they’re…super respectful and traditional?

Oh and yeah, people are still creaming their pants over Kai. Because that never gets old.

They also jam in the backstory of Kamui and Goki. Kamui was bullied as a kid because he was so small, but he saw Goki beat an adult at Vanguard and he was inspired by that, so Goki became a bit of a mentor to him, I suppose. Kamui wants to prove to Goki that he can fight on his own.

It’s….not a good backstory, if you ask me.

Beating an adult at a children’s card game is not akin to beating someone twice your size in a physical altercation. Besides, Goki is clearly a teenager here and he’s a pretty big muscular guy. He’s nearly as tall as the adult he’s battling, and he’s definitely bigger than the kid we see beat up Kamui.

The logic doesn’t click. It would’ve made more sense if Goki was younger and smaller like Kamui and he took down someone twice his size at Vanguard. It’s still not the same, but at least it would make more sense. Maybe it would show Kamui that he can come out on top in certain things despite his small stature.

But at least we got to see the origins of Goki’s bandanna…..That was something on your mind, wasn’t it?

Second half, lunch time. You heard me. They’re pulling this shit again. And, like last time, this part of the episode is filled with Kamui gushing over Emi, who arrives late to get some lunch to Aichi and his friends.

Ooh, but wait! There’s more! Remember, Nagisa, the human cheese grater for the ears, is here, so she’s also filling up this half of the episode with gushing over Kamui and getting in poor Emi’s face for ‘stealing her man.’ I am developing a massive pile of hatred for this little brat. I hope to God she just fades into the background more and more as time goes on, because I can’t stand much more of her.

Misaki arrives after lunch with no explanation as to where she’s been this entire time. They keep bringing up that Aichi ‘had’ to fight the first match of the tournament, even though, like Shin points out, the teams are the ones who choose the order of their participants, so Aichi never really had to fight at all other than to give him some screen time.

Dash your hopes for seeing her fight in this tournament, though, because she passes the baton to Aichi since he’s been doing so well…..Then why even show up at all?

Shin references Larry the Cable Guy by saying ‘Let’s get ‘er done!’………….That was a thing that happened.

So the finals st—nope. We have to interrupt our tournament for a random song number by the Ultra Rares – the pop group made up of the girls from the card shop PSY. The song’s not good, though they keep the Japanese version for it, which is nice, and it’s a completely unwelcome intrusion that’s accompanied by another unwelcome intrusion – a random unnecessary clip show to the episode in PSY so we can….remember who these girls are? I dunno.

Just when you finally think they’ll start the finals, you look at the time stamp and realize the episode is very nearly over. Kamui’s first up, itching to take on Goki when –

Goki’s not fighting! But wait! Who’s taking his—Nagisa….Nagisa’s fighting Kamui. And she’s added the stipulation that, should she win, she and Kamui will get married. She’s also wearing pink Vanguard Fight Gloves…of course she is.

Which means….next episode is chockful of Nagisa. The only thing I might find more enjoyable than that is shoving a swarm of angry wasps into my eye socket.

Oh and since this is the last round of the regional qualifiers and I can’t see Kai the VanGod losing his match, I assume Kamui must lose his match in order to have Aichi be the crux match in the finals. I care so little about this next match that I’m going to cheat and peek at the end of the next episode.

Yup, he friggin’ loses. Which also means Nagisa will never shut up about the marriage thing, right? Let me cheat again! To the Wiki!

Yup, even after a time skip, she’s still trying to force him into marriage. Lovely.

I’m going to take a break on this series for a little bit since…I just really don’t want to watch the next episode right now. The show’s not falling to pieces or anything, but this episode is so sloppily done I’m almost angry at it. Not to mention, I need to charge up if I’m going to watch an entire episode centered on Nagisa.

For now, I’ll switch to Tokyo Mew Mew for my regular updates.

Rating: 2/10

Next episode, Nagisa gets locked in a box and never appears in the series again so Twix can refrain from ripping the screen off of her laptop.

Pokemon Shorties! (6) Gotta Dance!

Rating: 6/10

Plot: Team Rocket has made a new base in a canyon, and they are making a party there for Giovanni to impress him. Jessie and James leave Meowth in charge while they go invite Giovanni. Meowth uses this time to rehearse his music and dance number with three captive maraca playing Whismur. He forces them and the Team Rocket alum to dance using a magic baton…..In a world with sentient serial killer lawnmowers, please refrain from laughing.

Pikachu and some of the other Pokemon stumble upon this and try to save Whismur, but the power of dance is too much to resist.

Breakdown: Ladies and gentlemen, the last short to accompany a Pokemon movie….for a long whole anyway. I think they might have started doing it again, I’m not certain.

They continued to make shorts throughout the years, but this was the last short to be included with a Pokemon movie. I don’t know why they ended this trend as I thought it was pretty nice to have these shorts alongside the movies, but what can you do?

Like the last one, I have no prior knowledge or experience involving this short. Pokemon movie 06 was the first Pokemon movie that I only just caught on TV when it played on Cartoon Network. This was probably due to the fact that the movie came out right at that time when I really didn’t care much for Pokemon anymore because it was the post-Misty days. I was more into Digimon, Yugioh and whatever I could get my hands on with Toonami and Adult Swim.

I was bitter because Misty was gone, and I didn’t take to May much. I especially didn’t like Max, which may make the rewatch of the movie annoying….But I digress. What awaits us in this short? Hopefully a DDR contest.

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Lotad, Pikachu, Torchic, Mudkip and Treecko are playing around in a tree as Meowth narrates over them. He muses over their frivolity and says he wishes he could be that way, but music recently ruined his life. I still have no idea why A) These Pokemon are wandering around in the woods alone with no sign of their trainers and B) why it’s only these five Pokemon. I don’t know their rosters at this point well enough to list off everyone who’s missing, but considering there’s only five here, they’re likely missing a lot. Ash’s Pokemon are Pikachu and Treecko, Brock’s are Lotad and Mudkip, while May’s is merely Torchic.

The Pokemon all get flung through the air by springing on the awful CGI tree branch because we’re really vying for ‘Pokemon flinging’ to be an Olympic sport.

I love how Treecko won’t get out of his laid back pose as they’re flung through the air. Such a bad ass.

PES6 - SCREEN4

They continue falling after the ground breaks below them and they all slam into a boulder. No worries, though, because they slam through it and leave marks behind in the exact shape of their bodies like Looney Tunes.

The horrendous CGI rock falls apart – seriously guys, just draw it. It’s a rock.

They look up and see some fort embedded into the cliffside. It’s decorated to look like dice for whatever reason.

PES6 - SCREEN1

Narration from Meowth says it’s Team Rocket’s new headquarters and they were about to show it to Giovanni when his story began. A base? What the hell do you guys need a base for? You travel all the time because you follow DumbAsh and the superfriends to get Pikachu. More importantly, why would Giovanni be happy that you’re wasting funds on building a clubhouse?

They’re preparing a big party at the base, complete with an ice sculpture of Giovanni, to impress their boss. Jessie and James, who remain mostly out of frame in line with the usual ‘no humans’ law of the shorts, leave to retrieve Giovanni and leave Meowth in charge. He takes this opportunity to rehearse with the band, a trio of Whismur playing maracas.

He leads them with some stick that he says can control all Pokemon, forcing them to dance easily……Wait…you guys have a stick that controls Pokemon…..and you think it’s more impressive to show Giovanni…..a fort painted like dice…….It’s really no wonder how much you guys fail.

We get our opener which is really forgettable and not really the most dancey or catchy song ever. There’s a noticeable lack of….well, music, and Meowth is the one singing….

One interesting aspect is, it’s almost like they knew this was going to be the last movie short because they show the Pokemon dancing in the main locations of all of the previous shorts. We get the Pokemon sign from the park in Pikachu’s Summer Vacation, the giant tree from Pikachu’s Rescue Adventure, the tire fort from Pikachu and Pichu, the mansion from Pikachu’s Pika-boo, and the train from Camp Pikachu.

After that, we get bad CGI dice (what is with the dice? Am I missing something?) and our title screen.

PES6 - SCREEN2

The song soon ends, and Meowth gushes over his baton, imagining that Giovanni will be really impressed with it. I would say this makes my earlier poke moot, but he says he’ll be impressed with how it can make Pokemon dance, not how it would help……take over the world and everything. At least easily steal every Pokemon you see.

They continue to rehearse while we cut to the main group heading towards Duke Devlin’s wet dream.

Meowth and the others lock up the Whismur in a cage and Meowth says this:

Meowth: “You three wisenheimers….” Wisenheimers?! Wisenheimers?! My great-grandpa wouldn’t even use that in serious conversation. How old are you?

Pikachu and the others spy on Meowth and the Team Rocket Pokemon in the base as they walk away from the cage to get something to eat. They fall through the window after they leave because I guess Lotad’s another comic relief clumsy Pokemon.

They discover that the Whismur have been taken captive by Team Rocket, and they use Pikachu’s lightning, Torchic’s fire and Mudkip’s water to blow the lock off the cage………..which is entirely unnecessary seeing as how the only lock on that cage is an easily accessible lever that one of them would just need to push…..but why do that when you can make explosions while trying to perform a covert operation?

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The Pokemon hide as Meowth and the others investigate the noise. They discover the Whismur are missing and Meowth commands the others to find them. In the process, they knock Meowth over, causing him to drop his magic baton thing, sending it flying to the barrel that Treecko is hiding in and suddenly activates.

It plays music and all of the Pokemon dance uncontrollably…wait….so…that stick really is only good for making Pokemon dance? What a dumb invention. I would take back my earlier comment, but if it can control these Pokemon to a degree, surely it can be reprogrammed to control them in other ways. But whatever, it will likely see the fate of the dark balls in ‘just forget it exists-land.’

I do love that Treecko’s doing everything in his power to not dance. I forgot how much I love that little guy.

During the dance, a Loudred that has been sleeping outside shows up to do some disco moves. Well thank god. Now someone do the macarena.

Treecko, in his efforts to avoid dancing, falls over, causing the baton to shut off.

Everyone stops dancing and Meowth notices Pikachu and the others. They attack, but Pikachu and the others knock them all down with the barrels. And when that’s over they play a version of

Not even kidding.

A chase ensues and the Team Rocket gang chases the Pika gang to the balcony. Pikachu tries to Thunderbolt them, but Wobbuffet Reflects it back, nearly knocking Mudkip off the tower. Treecko uses the baton to try and save Mudkip and in the process, it accidentally activates the stick, making everyone dance.

Mudkip is saved and joins the dancing. Their dancing, however, is causing the balcony to collapse and even makes the horrible CGI tower do a terribly animated fall into the river below. Well, at least we’re destroying most of this eye abusive CGI….

They’re about to dance off of the balcony and suddenly switch to a tango, making them walk onto a more sturdy part of the building while the barfy CGI balcony also breaks and falls.

They deactivate the stick again and start the chase back up.

They run into the party room and destroy it with the final blow being Cacnea using Pin Missile all over the room. This results in him destroying three pinata/party balls which revealed three banners with poorly drawn pictures of Giovanni on them…..okay you got me, that was funny.

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So they’re destroying the base when Giovanni’s supposed to show up for a party eh? I smell sitcom-level shenanigans!

Meowth gets up and accidentally hits the baton again. He hits a button which changes it to hula mode, causing everyone to hula while covered in flowers.

It’s deactivated again rather quickly since one of the pinata/party balls falls on Meowth. They run off again, and I’m gonna mention at this point that whenever they end these dance sequences….they focus on the Loudred for a bit….Just long enough to be awkward because much of the time he’s just staring with his giant mouth agape or he’s quietly saying his name. It’s unsettling.

You can see where this is going. They get chased, Meowth gets flung in the air, the baton falls on Wobbuffet’s head and they start dancing again.

The baton gets flung up again and gets stuck in some sand, for some reason causing it to short out. They make three quick cuts to Treecko, who’s still doing his damnedest to not dance, and I guess since the stick shorted out, he can’t take it anymore and goes dance crazy.

They keep dancing and dancing and dancing….I actually think they repeat animation shots a few times with the excuse that it goes with the music, roughly. They also speed up a shot.

They have to keep switching from speeding up to slowing down and we crescendo as the baton explodes.

Everyone stops dancing, but now Loudred is going nuts and attacking the Pokemon with a pipe. He corners them in a room, Seviper tries to attack, but is interrupted by Loudred’s pipe which breaks an important column in the base. The base rumbles and seems like it’s going to fall, but doesn’t. However, Lotad, a Pokemon I don’t remember being quite this irritating, sneezes causing the whole place to come crumbling down.

Well, they’re dead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nah, of course they’re not. They’re just riding such a terrible looking CGI wooden platform that my sides hurt from laughing at it.

 

This is just insanely crappy CGI and it’s horribly integrated with the traditional animation. The guys at OLM keep getting worse and worse at this. Please, either go back to training or save my eyes and stop using CGI where it’s not necessary.

Their platform breaks in two sending Pikachu and the others flying one way and Meowth and the others in another. Pikachu and friends are about to crash into a cliffside when Lotad decides not to be annoying for a change and Water Guns them away from it, allowing them to land safely.

Meowth and the others end up back in the now destroyed base and as it crumbles even further, we get another

It wasn’t funny the first time, stop it.

The end!….Hey wait, what about Giovanni? That was a great set up for more sad trombone-y goodness.

Granted, I can’t imagine Giovanni would’ve bothered humoring these idiots anyway.

Also, that Loudred seriously wasn’t related to those Whismur? Why was it there then?

Like I said, the end, with those cute little fan art drawings of Pokemon. They also have Pikachu doing his impressions of the featured Pokemon, which I admittedly think is really funny. Then we have the Pokemon just doing random things.

Bottomline: Well that was….something. What a random short. Pikachu and the others save some Whismur from Team Rocket and we get what is essentially a 20 minute long chase scene with really long dance sequences intertwined and then they destroy the place and fly away. That’s it.

The art and animation, like always, get a bump up in this short. Except for the awful, terrible ew CGI.

The music, shockingly, is pretty poor for an episode centered around dancing. The main song is completely forgettable and definitely not up to the catchy ear worm standards of 4Kids. I would dance to a lot of 4Kids songs and this is one I wouldn’t tap a toe to.

While I will admit that the short had its entertaining moments such as Pikachu’s impressions, Treecko’s desire to avoid dancing as much as possible and some of the dances, there’s a lot wrong with it.

There’s so much padding. It’s almost like this short is nothing but padding, which, admittedly, is what most of these shorts are by default. The chase is padding, and the dancing, while being the focal part of the short, is basically just padding. It’s pointless dancing for the sake of ‘oh how funny! Pokemon dancing!’ It is entertaining a few times, and it made me smile once or twice, but it really gets old.

The sequences with Loudred were also pointless. They were causing enough destruction as it was, he didn’t need to be here. And those times when they lingered on him after a dance were just awkward.

Some of the ‘jokes’ like Lotad’s sneeze have poor timing, and I am forever perplexed as to how and why Meowth had a magic ‘force Pokemon to dance’ stick.

It’s probably the funniest short since the first one, but it’s too long for this non-existent story, very repetitive and, to be honest, poorly directed.

Well, we end the movie shorts on a mediocre note, but there’s still more shorts to cover! I just have to pick them out by my own discretion now. What will come for movie 07?! Find out when it happens!

Recommended Audience: You need to ask? E for everyone!

Final notes:

………WHAT WAS UP WITH THE DICE!?

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WHAT DID DICE HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING? I DON’T GET IT!…….DICE!

SSBS – Cardfight!! Vanguard Episode 17

SSBS CFV EP 17

Plot: Aichi’s match is coming to a close. Can he utilize his newest units to get a win against Team Black Magic? Afterward, it’s Kai’s turn to see if he can put one in the win column.

Breakdown: Aichi’s match was intense, but, I won’t lie, I felt a little bit like the match was won due to the ‘heart of the cards’ luck. Even Shin said he likely wouldn’t have won had he not drawn a critical trigger. It’s a bit annoying how draw luck is such a deeply integrated part of this game, but I guess, technically, that’s a part of any card game.

He utilized his new units well, and it’s clear that Aichi is improving his strategies every day. Also, it’s a bit surreal to hear them talk about expansion packs. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a TCG based anime talk about that stuff. I’ve heard booster packs but not expansion packs.

It’s so pointless to watch Kai’s matches now that this is yet another of his matches that they opt to completely skip over. They hype it up like ‘Wow, they both use the same kind of decks. This will be intense!’ Then they skip to the final turn where Kai completely thrashes the opponent without batting an eyelash. It’s getting old…

And even though we only catch the final turn, he still draws two critical triggers. Is his deck loaded with them or something? Then everyone, not just Aichi, gushes over him. It’s irritating that so many people are such massive fanboys for a guy as douchey as Kai. He cracks a smile during Aichi’s match, but he’s still a cocky douche.

Because they won two matches in a row, Kamui becomes devastated that he’s unable to fight. He’s completely shocked that this is a rule…..but I’m confused as to why. Kamui either has first-hand experience fighting in tournaments or he’s watched a lot of them, yet he’s surprised that he’s not allowed to fight when they’ve won 2/3 matches already.

Team Black Magic is revealed to be a bunch of pretty boys, but they’re really nice and respectful. Also, they somehow all have surnames that start with ‘Kuro’ (Black) How they managed that, I don’t know, but I hope they come back in the future.

Rating: 7/10

Next episode, Kamui is finally able to fight and we see Goki in battle again.