Flip Flappers (2016) ~with a dash of FLCL~

Flip Flappers. Yep, Flip Flappers. An anime about… something. With a name like that, Flip Flappers could be about a number of things. Most people would think it’s some sort of children’s show. But anime are children’s cartoons anyways, hurr durr. But, is that really so?

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Definitely for children.

Well, this original anime by Studio 3Hz, which did Dimension W, that ran from October to right before the New Year of 2016 is a mash up of many genres. While MyAnimeList lists Flip Flappers as comedy, adventure, and sci-fi only; it is not actually so. I don’t even know why it’s being touted as a sci-fi anime. It’s not sci-fi.

Anyways, this little 13 episode monomyth has basically got it all. Drama, yuri, comedy, horror, and you name it. Many people have resorted to describing Flip Flappers to be: “‘Inception’ met ‘FLCL’ and they both had gratuitous threesome sex with ‘Kodomo no Jikan’ in a liquor-fueled one night stand to produce this coming of age story about two middle school mahou shoujo probable closet lesbians”.

Yeah, I was paraphrasing up there but I bet I caught your attention with that. If not, then, here’s the MAL synopsis.

Synopsis from MyAnimeList:Cocona is an average middle schooler living with her grandmother. And she who has yet to decide a goal to strive for, soon met a strange girl named Papika who invites her to an organization called Flip Flap.

Dragged along by the energetic stranger, Cocona finds herself in the world of Pure Illusion—a bizarre alternate dimension—helping Papika look for crystal shards. Upon completing their mission, Papika and Cocona are sent to yet another world in Pure Illusion. As a dangerous creature besets them, the girls use their crystals to transform into magical girls: Cocona into Pure Blade, and Papika into Pure Barrier. But as they try to defeat the creature before them, three others with powers from a rival organization enter the fray and slay the creature, taking with them a fragment left behind from its body. Afterward, the girls realize that to stand a chance against their rivals and the creatures in Pure Illusion, they must learn to work together and synchronize their feelings in order to transform more effectively.

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This is why I watched Flip Flappers. I love this image.

If you read the synopsis and thought that Flip Flappers sounds like any other mahou shoujo anime then you, sir, are horribly wrong.

Let’s first talk about the story.

Being compared to Gainax’s actual magnum opus, that is FLCL and not that trash Neon Genesis Evangelion, one would expect a lot from Flip Flappers – especially in the department of ‘God, I have no idea what’s going on but I sure am loving this!’
While FLCL and Flip Flappers do share a lot things in many departments, the story is actually the place where they are the least similar.

FLCL had a distinct style of relaying its story that heavily relied on comedic exposition through visuals and saucy dialogue. Flip Flappers adopted style and slightly changed it into an episodic format friendly one. With each episode, the style metamorphosed just enough to let each individual episode come off as its own unique portion that subtly builds on the world of Flip Flappers through creative use of varying scenarios in the anime’s rather flip-floppy plot device (maybe location in this context?) called Pure Illusion.

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A trip to Pure Illusion on one particular day.
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During the trip the next day.

To be honest, this way of story telling is very confusing for viewers who aren’t used to noticing every teeny tiny detail in a scene. Bring subtitles into the picture and the viewer tends to miss out on even more details. That means to fully enjoy Flip Flappers, at least second watch should be essential for most. I know I will be rewatching it as I think I missed out on a major plot point. And, if I didn’t miss anything then Flip Flappers has a giant plot hole. Either way, not going go discuss that part due to fairness.
This also shows the kind of issues prevalent with stories like the ones Flip Flappers and FLCL have.

At times the pace might be really slow and then accelerate matters into full gear in five seconds tops. For an anime like this, that isn’t really a problem unless if the areas of snail-hood go into filler-like territory. This is, sadly, something Flip Flappers tends to do a lot. While Flip Flappers is director Kiyotaka Oshiyama’s first full-fledged work, he still has had a lot of practice with anime greats like Dennou Coil, the Fullmetal Alchemist movies, and the second season of Space Dandy. He did a good job with Flip Flappers but, honestly, he could have done a bit better.

Other than these points, Flip Flappers has an engaging story with a somewhat satisfying conclusion that’ll require you to fire up some neurons to actually understand the story. It’s nothing mind-blowing but you still get that warm feeling like the one you get right after an intriguing puzzle.

In my opinion, the greatest thing about Flip Flappers’ story is that everything is in the anime itself. You won’t need to go online or harass your neighbor’s weeaboo pet dog for answers. In the case of FLCL, pretty much most of the story was almost entirely up to one’s imagination. That thing was cool chaos in animated form but it didn’t help itself by butchering it’s coherence.

Now onto the characters.

For a coming of age story, the main character has to be great. Coconoa is not. She is just okay and that wouldn’t have been a problem if she wasn’t the worst character in the entire anime’s cast. Even the two twin villains, whose most recognizable trait is that they repeat the one another’s line, she routinely goes up against are more interesting that her. Maybe if Coconoa was just a bit less emo for her age then she would have been loads better. It’s true that she is empty and the anime is about her finding her identity but she wasn’t handled well in that regards. The biggest moment of these to not is when she blows fuses a couple of time for tiny reasons which is something her character isn’t supposed to do at all.

In comparison, Papika was handled much better better. While she was still a tad one-dimensional at first, she quickly rose up to shine as having the most and best character development by the time the last episode hit the credits. Going into detail about Papika would require me to spoil the story but I will say that she should be paid closer attention than Coconoa. The same goes for the rest of the characters. While being heavy cardboard cutouts, they each had their own funky charm. Hell, the Goddamned pet rabbit of Coconoa had more personality than her.

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13 Papikas Why (kill me for being trendy)

Nearing the end~

The character designs and the fun use of many saturated colors provide the animation with kind of spunk and whimsical intensity a show like Flip Flappers need. The animators knew what they were doing. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the time to fully realize their goal so many corners had to be cut.

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w0w

As usual, I watched the anime in 1.5x playback speed and noticed a number of places where the color was missing and things like a character having an item in one hand and not having it in the next were very common. You shouldn’t be noticing things like these in visually heavy anime at increased playback speed. I’d be damned if I don’t say that at times the animation had many frames missing and it felt like I was watching at reduced speed…

The background music was fun. I may snag the OST sometime soon. I didn’t like the OP. The ED was just perfect.

By the way, take this.

Voice acting is same as most stuff. The crazy scientist was the summit and all of the times Papika goes on her usual ‘coconoacoconoacoCOnoaCOcoNOAAAAAAA’ spiels was downright fucking annoying.

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CRAZY SCIENTIST

To end, I’m going to say that Flip Flappers is a 7.5/10 in my book.
Ignore the rating and still watch it. It’s a fun ride I’d recommend to anyone. Except for lolicons.

Koe no Katachi (2016)

This review is for the anime movie adaptation of the hit manga series called ‘Koe no Katachi’ – which also goes by the names ‘A Silent Voice’ and ‘The Shape of Voice’.

I will be comparing this movie to the original manga quite a fair bit. Spoilers are to be expected.

As I wholeheartedly recommend this movie, you should watch the movie first and then read this review.

Man, it’s been quite a long time since I’ve last written a review. That has to mostly do with the fact that I haven’t seen much anime during my absence along with the opinion that my studies are (read: were) more important. Also, playing League of Legends and Dota 2 sure does takes the wind out of a person, huh? Especially if they’re stuck in ranked…

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SORRYMASEN

Anyways, back to the topic at hand.

Koe no Katachi. Written and illustrated by Yoshitoki Ooima.

I started reading the manga right before the last chapter published. The rave reviews and the constant mentioning on MyAnimeList is what brought the manga to my attention and, boy, I’m sure as hell glad it did.

Koe no Katachi broke my heart, mended it, tore it out again, sent it to the cobbler, only to have him trod on it mercilessly, summon a magical fairy to fix it up again, and then left it with a bunch of scars.
Almost two and a half years later, the anime movie adaptation released to Blu-ray and I had to go through all of THAT again.

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A rollercoaster of emotions, I tell ya hwat.

Synopsis from MyAnimeList: Ishida Shouya bullies a deaf girl, Nishimiya Shouko, to the point that she transfers to another school. As a result, he is ostracized and bullied himself with no friends to speak of and no plans for the future.

This is the story of his path to redemption.

First thing to note before I dive into the specifics is that I really love the movie. I was very skeptical about it when the movie announcement was made.

“How could they make a 60+ chapter story into a movie and make it work, lol?”

And, well, they did. Kudos to director Naoko Yamada and the rest of the crew. They knew exactly what to add and cut to make the on-screen version of Koe no Katachi such a flawed yet extremely satisfying watch. I am glad I waited the two and half years for this. This movie will probably make it into ‘classics’ lists after some time. B-believe it!

Now to get digging.

The Koe no Katachi movie starts off like any other contemporary Japanese movie would. Slow bells and chimes. Lots of panning. A number of cuts. Swoosh-in and swoosh-out. Wax on, wax off. Disregard the wax.

Though, unlike most of Japanese cinema, Koe no Katachi made fantastic use of ‘My Generation’ by The Who to set the perfect tone and pace for the movie. Yep, that’s an English song. By The Who. Who could have imagined? And it fits so well. Yikes.

We see Shouya Ishida, our main character, wanting to jump off a bridge and kill himself. Why, though? Because he bullied a deaf girl way back in middle-school, got called out and collectively blamed for being the only one to make the poor girl feel like a piece of shit, and then he was made into the class’ new harassment toy in her stead after the balance was tipped.

Well, OK. But is he dead? Did he kill himself?

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Nah. Suicide is badass. He’s just not cool enough. Well, I mean, pathetic enough. So he decides to get in touch with the girl whose life he helped ruin and set things right. Live for her. In some way, any way, try to give her back the childhood she missed out on.

This sets up the beginning of the movie and the rest from here on is a story about redemption, acceptance, self-searching, and a teeny bit of love.

Speaking of love, one thing to realize, though, is that Koe no Katachi is NOT a love story. It has a romantic sub-plot but that’s it. Nothing more. I know that a lot of people were turned off by both the manga and anime not giving a proper conclusion as to the relationship between Shouko Nishimiya, our local deaf cutie, and Shouya. To be honest, it’s not even really needed. The movie fixes this by not making this a part of the main plot at all – while the manga completely butchered that aspect of the story in it’s sad attempt at an ending.

Maybe the manga was axed? Maybe the mangaka got impatient? I don’t know. Regardless, that ending should not have happened. And this is probably why, despite all of the plot related shortcomings, I prefer the movie more.

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See. Even Shouya agrees.

Anyways, the movie is an excellent package of creative cinematography and a quite decent musical score by none other than Kensuke Ushio (who did the wonderfully upbeat sounds for ‘Ping Pong The Animation’) pulling up a heart-wrenching story onto a platform of a greater height. Viewers will most likely end up liking the movie a lot but will complain about the several plot holes which, by the way, can be easily remedied by reading the manga. A pretty neat-o advertisement, no?

The viewers will ask, though, “Why read the manga when I just watched the movie?”
Well, even though the Koe no Katachi movie would feel complete to some viewers, it is actually missing a whole lot of content that was in the manga. Most of the side characters don’t get explored much. Actually, they don’t get explored at all. A number of events that stir up trouble within the recuperating group of teenagers, who want to be friends but are too socially inept for that bees-wax, don’t happen.

Like, for fuck’s sake, one of the characters is called Kawai. She’s one hell of a fake princess who always keeps shifting blame onto others and pretending to be a white lamb. In the manga, she gets a verbal trashing from her prince charming, Mashiba, and that is one of the most satisfying scenes in the manga for me. Too bad Kawai is just a bitch in the movie. Nothing else. Oh, did I mention Mashiba? Yep, I did. Mmmhmmm. He barely gets any lines and is just a throw away character.

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I wonder if the director saw this scene and went, “Nope, we ain’t got time for that shit,” and then did the same with the side-characters.

 

So, yes, while Koe no Katachi’s movie is superb it still fails quite a bit in the characters department. But, I guess it’s to be expected. I don’t see how they could have crunched all or most of the sub-plots into just 2 hours. Maybe a 3 hour movie, eh? Nah, people would have complained.

Before I wrap this up, got to get into the animation and voice side of things.
The animation has been well above the standards Kyoto Animation has set for itself. Many different colors blending quite nicely in the light color scheme. Great use of lighting and abstract scene transitioning make the animation really smooth and a delight to watch. I usually watch anime at 1.5x playback speed but not this time, hehe.

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SOMEBODY once told me
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The world was gonna roll me
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I ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed…

And to the voice-acting. The seiyuu casting was almost perfect. Especially for Shouko. Damn. I wasn’t sure how they were going to handle her mumblings and attempt at speech but her seiyuu, Saori Hayami, was up to the task with finesse. I was mightily impressed. The seiyuus for the other characters did a good job as well. Some characters sounded differently than I had imagined them whilst reading the manga but, they were fitting voices, Brent. My only qualm was with middle school Shouya’s voice. He sounded less coherent than Shouko at times. Not a good job there.

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I had imagined something much different as Nagatsuka’s, Shouya’s new friend, voice. He alsom sadly, doesn’t get fleshed out on-screen as much as he should have so their relationship may seem somewhat platonic to some.

My enjoyment of the movie was a whole 10/10.
But, from the objective side of things, the score would be close to an 8.5 or 9, I guess.

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Don’t forget: this movie is also a good manga.

Kiznaiver (2016)

After been completely turned off of anime for about month thanks to a recommendation by a friend, I was finally able to muster up enough strength to break one of my rules and drop the aforementioned anime. It’s name was Heroic Age. It wasn’t bad per se. It was just… really boring. The characters, the setting, the animation, and the everything. I tried watching it, in vain, three times but I always fell asleep.

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This screenshot is the only thing of any value from Heroic Age.

Anyways, after a string of many lost games in League of Legends last night, I finally decided to get back into anime again. I spent a good while thinking about what to watch. Then, suddenly, Kiznaiver came to mind. I wanted something good. Something interesting. I knew Studio Trigger would deliver. Good or bad, whatever they make at least has you interested.

Unlike most people who went into Kiznaiver thinking it to be another Kill la Kill or Inferno Cop (lol), I watched it knowing what to expect. Quite a number of people who watched the show while it was airing complained that it was rather slow, never went anywhere, or the characters were one-dimensional. Hell, some viewers even lamented the fact that it was nothing like Kill la Kill. Absolutely no fan-service whatsoever.

Kiznaiver is Trigger’s first attempt at trying something different. All of its shows till now have been either parodies, focused on action, or both. Even Little Witch Academia follows this. I, for one, am glad that Kiznaiver is very different from Trigger’s usual works.

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No action. Only FARUKON PAAAAAAAAANCHI!

Synopsis from MyAnimeList: Katsuhira Agata is a quiet and reserved teenage boy whose sense of pain has all but vanished. His friend, Chidori Takashiro, can only faintly remember the days before Katsuhira had undergone this profound change. Now, his muffled and complacent demeanor make Katsuhira a constant target for bullies, who exploit him for egregious sums of money. But their fists only just manage to make him blink, as even emotions are far from his grasp.

However, one day Katsuhira, Chidori, and four other teenagers are abducted and forced to join the Kizuna System as official “Kiznaivers.” Those taking part are connected through pain: if one member is injured, the others will feel an equal amount of agony. These individuals must become the lab rats and scapegoats of an incomplete system designed with world peace in mind. With their fates literally intertwined, the Kiznaivers must expose their true selves to each other, or risk failing much more than just the Kizuna System.

Simply put, Kiznaiver is a mild case of character study. It doesn’t just lightly touch it’s subject matter nor does it go fully into psychological territory. It is very apparent from the second episode of Kiznaiver that it is a show meant for fun with a bunch of melodrama here and there. Exactly what I thought it would be.

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That’s me when the show ended. Ignore the bandages. That’s also Katsuhira Agata.

So how come, you would ask, Kiznaiver interested me so? Well, other than the characters themselves, it was mainly because of the huge plot device that is known as the ‘Kizuna System’.

The Kizuna System is basically just having surgery performed on the seven main characters so that if one of them has pain inflicted on them then they all feel. Over the course of the show, as the Kizuna System progresses, if one of the ‘Kiznaivers’ feels any strong emotion then that emotion is felt by all of them. Then we go into reading the heart. Interesting concept, no? But, like I said before, the Kizuna System is just one big plot device. Without the Kizuna System, the anime would just have been an over-dramatic slice of life. This plot device helps create a balance – giving you the false illusion that something evil is afoot. This helps keep the oddities of the characters and their behavior in check and helps the anime not into Korean soap-opera territory.

Now, to the meat of Kiznaiver. The characters!

Katsuhira Agata is the main focus, in regards to the characters, of Kiznaiver. He is devoid of emotion and cannot feel physical pain. An emo without the trademarked black look. Along with his childhood friend, Takashiro Chidori, he and a six other students from his class are abducted and chosen for the Kizuna System experiment. They are told they have to expose themselves to each other for the sake of the experiment. For the sake of world peace.

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*Breathe in* *Exhale* “BworldpeaceOI.”

A point to note: no matter what angle you analyze the Kizuna System from, there is no logical explanation for HOW it will help attain world peace. Even the show doesn’t explain how. So, while being an effective plot device, the Kizuna System is also one of Kiznaivers biggest cons.

Anyways, back to the characters.

Tenga Hajime is the thug who secretly has a huge heart. Yuta Tsugihoto is the spaz who pretends to be what he’s not – an arrogant tool. Niyama Niko is an eccentric Hollywood blondie who pretends to be eccentric because she thinks she isn’t (whewie). Maki Honoka is… well it would be a spoiler. And, finally, Hisomu Yoshiharu is a masochist in denial who, in my opinion, is the most rational character in the show.

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Ah, Niko.

All of these guys and gals are gathered by Sonozaki Noriko who is adamant in proving the success of the Kizuna System for it has already failed before.

Seeing of all these characters interact with each other and step out from their single dimension into the third is a fascinating treat. With grounded and witty dialogue, the characterization comes out just great. Exactly what it feels like when I talk to my friends. Yes, even Nico.

It’s a shame that a lot of viewers just went with the first judgment of the characters and deemed them to be caricatures till the end of the show. Kiznaiver is slice of life disguised as action (but there is no action at all) so a lot people were left bored during the middle of the show which was just character development for the finale. I’m not really sure if this is a fault in direction, script, or Trigger’s image itself. Oh well, you win some and you lose some.

Kiznaiver’s music is OK, I guess. The opening ‘Lay Your Hands On Me’ by Boom Boom Satellites which bloody amazing for me since that kind of electronica and rock usually doesn’t sit well with me. The ending wasn’t bad – just that I’ve heard a lot of songs like it so I just skipped it. As for the background music, nothing special. The hard violin, techno and beats certainly suited the show but overall, nothing memorable.

The animation is gorgeous. For once Trigger got its budget under control and created a show with no slacking in animation. The character designs are a neat break from the usual fare you see in modern anime. Light and long bodies with a lot of curves and fluidity topped by a bright color palette. Good stuff.

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In 3 seconds of this…
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I found 4 frames of this.

If Kiznaiver had a thorough quality check for its plot then it would truly have been something special. But, the Kizuna System’s flaws and the contrived wishy washy ending deal a serious blow to it’s overall goodness. Also, the world building needed some polishing too. No matter how good the characterization in a show is, without a properly fleshed out plot you’re not going have many heads rolling and that’s a damn shame.

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Kiznaiver in a nutshell.

Right as the show ended, I thought it was an 8.5/10 in my book. But, today after giving it some thought, I think it objectively deserves a 7/10 at most. But it’s a 7.5/10 for me thanks to the fun I had watching the characters grow.
Recommended for those slow nights when you suddenly feel like ringing up some friends but can’t because they’re busy. Or if you don’t have friends and feel like wanting to make some.

Doctor Strange (2016)

Oh, how long have I waited for this day. The day when Doctor Strange finally comes into the sights of people who aren’t well-versed in the world of comic books.

Ever since that one rainy Summer day, when I first found out about the good Doctor (hue), I’ve had quite the hankering for a live-action movie. I haven’t read Doctor Strange comics before nor have I gone through his wiki. The only exposure I have had to him was that animated movie that was released way back in 2007. I’d gotten the disc from… somewhere, I guess. I don’t really know. It just appeared magically one day in my PlayStation 2’s disc folder. What I do know is that by the end of the hour and half feature, Doctor Stephen Strange had become my favorite Marvel character.

Doctor Stephen is your typical medical professional who starts out with wanting to help people but ends up making money and status his top priority. One night, he gets involved in an accident and his arms get smashed to bits. After trying out and blowing most of his money on experimental medical treatments and getting nowhere, he hears of someone completely healing and decides to track him down. He gets wind of a place called Kamar-Taj and heads there – only to be met with a world full of unimaginable possibilities.

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No, this is not Hellraiser.

The story follows the classic ‘origins’ pattern. Light beginning with a tragic event followed by some melodrama only to come back to lighter moments again to end with a bang (or lack thereof – this is a good thing). The only difference is that this time instead of a muscular no-holds barred explosions-filled action flick, what you get is a pretty great take on whimsy and wit.

The dialogue is clever and funny. Many times in the theater people were laughing out loud mostly due to Stephen Strange’s quips. One scene in particular stands out in which Kaecilius, the supporting villain, and Stephen meet for the first time:

Kaecilius: And how long have you been a sorceror? Mister?
Stephen: Doctor.Kaecilius: Mister… Doctor?
Stephen: Stephen.
Kaecilius: Hmmm, maybe.

The dialogue can also be somewhat heavy at times. The scene with the Ancient One, Stephen’s master, has quite the quotable lines. As does the black and white scenario presented by the interaction between Stephen and Kaecilius in regards to time and immortality.

Other than Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange, I was very skeptical about most of the cast. Good thing my thoughts were proven wrong, though. Anyone who’s seen the past works of Cumberbatch knows that he is capable of playing a wide variety of roles with ease and that only he would make a perfect Doctor.

I was on the fence about Baron Mordo, Stephen’s ‘partner’, being black but Chiwetel Ejiofor pulls off the role quite well. Kudos to him. I thought the same about the Ancient One being a woman since her character was an old Asian man in the comics and animated movie. Thankfully, she couldn’t have portrayed the character better and I’m happy to say the her acting was quite superb. Tilda Swinton really knows what she is doing as an actress. Kaecilius is vastly different from his comics counterpart. He’s basically cannon fodder: a means to introduce the bigger baddie of the movie called Dormammu. At least Mads Mikkelsen tries his hardest to give his character a believable performance. And, he succeeds!

As great as the movie was for me in terms of plot, it did fall short in a number of places. Firstly, for me, it would have been better if some more time had been devoted to showing Stephen’s spiritual training. It literally feels like one moment he’s a total newbie and the next he’s suddenly sorcerer extraordinaire.

Another problem is the last scene with the main villain. I’m not saying it was a bad scene: it was actually damn brilliant. It went for outwitting Dormammu instead of the usual Marvel Cinematic Universe’s beat-em-up strategy. The issue with that scene was that it doesn’t really explain all of the thing’s going into it that make it so great. This in turn causes the viewers who aren’t fans of Thinking(TM) to call the overall movie bad or ‘2DEEPfryME’.

The biggest, and only, disappointment of the movie was that it tries to showcase an identity crisis and a case of black and white morality but it never really explores them as much as it should have. It’s a Doctor Strange movie. Come on. Not only the visuals have to mess you up but the dialogue has to as well. The movie would have been far greater if it wasn’t made for a PG-13 audience with subtle leanings toward adults. Oh well, Disney has to keep itself clean somehow.

Speaking of visuals, do NOT attempt to watch the movie while being under the influence of drugs. You WILL regret it. Especially that visual mental orgasm of a ride Stephen goes through which the Ancient One makes him go through in order to convince him of the sorcerers and magic. Spectacular VFX and creative cinematography make not watching Doctor Strange in glorious 3D a mistake. A capital offense, if I may be so bold.

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So bold.

The soundtrack was pretty simple, I have to say. Nothing special that caught my ears but the cymbal and violin heavy music suit the movie well. Then again, to be fair, I’m half deaf and watching the movie in a cinema means that I couldn’t really pick up the music well enough.

To end this review, I would have to say that had Doctor Strange been a movie made for mature audiences then it would have possibly been Marvel’s best movie yet. But the few problems with the plot, the villains being rather dry, and the impact-less soundtrack prevent the movie from being so. I rate it an 8.5/10. It’s in the top 5 of my favorite Marvel movies (Iron Man, Deadpool, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Spiderman 1/2).

Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita (2012)

I was supposed to watch Jinrui, also called Mankind Has Declined, about more than a week ago. It was a recommendation by a friend. He said it was pretty interesting and so, I took him up on the suggestion. If you go by the synopsis available on MyAnimeList, you really can’t deny that Jinrui sounds just as advertised by my dear buddy.

Synopsis from MyAnimeList: For years, declining birth rates have forced what’s left of the human race to cede more and more territory to other beings who have appeared to take advantage of the emptying ecological niche. Now, only a handful of humans remain among the remnants of civilization and Earth is dominated by fairies —tiny, ten-inch tall creatures of surprising intelligence. But humanity’s importance isn’t over quite yet, as young Watashi learns as she makes the decision to return to her hometown and assume her grandfather’s position as an arbitrator between the races. Unfortunately, the job isn’t going to be anywhere near as simple as she expected, and it’s going to take a wisdom far beyond her years to achieve her most important mission.

Now if you have a habit of judging things by the cover then you’re in a bit of bad luck. I went into Jinrui expecting it to be a somewhat fresh take on the post-apolyptic shitfest genre with a sprinkle of comic moments here and there ala the style of Steins;Gate. It actually turned out to be way much more different than I thought.

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I was kind of bitter at my wrong initial judgement of the synopsis…

The very first thing you should know about Jinrui before starting it is that the story does unfold in chronological order – unlike the original Light Novel. Most of you will be thinking, “So what?” And, well, yeah. So what? But in my honest opinion the story is more enjoyable if watched in proper order. You’re still free to watch it in broadcast order, though.

Chronological order:
11+12 (Watashi’s flashback to the past/backstory) > 10 > 7+8 > 9 > 5+6 > 1+2 > 3+4

Jinrui’s story has no conclusion. I don’t mean that it ends on a cliffhanger: it’s just not meant to go anywhere. The main purpose of the story is to crack silly jokes while giving a pretty witty commentary on social issues varying from consumerism to the well-known edginess of kids wanting to be alone in school due to their arrogance. As such, if satire is not your thing then you’d best avoid Jinrui because it could  be a chore – which it was, at times, for me.

Most of the events taking place in the story are quite random. You’ll have a time-loop caused by fairies in an attempt to fuel their need for sweets and also a battle initiated by a giant cat piloted by a sentient space probe. So, rest assured, Jinrui can get weird a lot even for those who inhale comedies like air.

Coming to the writing, Jinrui really does a neat job. All of the random-ish things occurring are so succinctly chained to each other with such finesse that when the dialogue is delivered, you feel like it’s from the bloopers collection of Chris Pratt from Parks and Recreation.

While the dialogue and general writing is pretty great, there’s also the downside, as a result, of proper thought having gone into the world of Jinrui. The facts that exactly how mankind has declined and just what exactly are and how came to be are never really explained. This grinds my gears to no end. For most, this would be but a slight inconvenience but I like my comedies to have proper world-building if they are set in a fantasy setting. If the world was fleshed out in detail then Jinrui would have been an instant 9/10 for me.

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Mankind nooooooooooo~

What really makes the show are the characters. The main character does not have an actual name: she’s just called Watashi which means ‘I’ in English. She may appear all sweet, kind, and caring at first but over the course of the show, you’ll find that she’s a hard cynic ready to shoot quick quips of banter, mostly to herself, whenever the opportunity arises. Considering the nature of Jinrui’s story, I can assure you that she fires witty responses at a rate of 3 wr/p. That’s quite impressive.

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Watashi has to be only person with a decent brain in the show. Besides Grandfather, that is.

The rest of the cast is equally… eccentric, to say the least. Watashi’s Grandfather seems quite strict but can be rather aloof when he wants to be. Grandfather’s Assistant can’t speak but is the source of most of the visual gags in the early episodes. Y, Watashi’s friend, is an arrogant raging Fujoshi.

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Oh yaoi.

And finally, the Fairies. Oh, the Fairies. One second they’re cuter than two kittens snuggled together and then the next moment nihilistic thoughts begin to surface. The Fairies deliver most of the non-banter witty playfulness of the dialogue. Don’t try applying any sort of logic to them, though. You’ll only end up with a new friend called Bafflement as a result.

The animation by AIC A.S.T.A is superb. The lush watercolor style with bright colors and clever play with shapes is very fun to watch and suits the show well. The brightness could be tad too high on occasion, though.

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The voice acting follows a whimsical tone with nobody (well, except for Grandfather, I guess) sounding even remotely normal. Just perfect for the show. A job well done by the voice actors.

The background music is rather forgetful. The OP and ED are catchy. You will probably end up putting them on loop in your head after the 3rd episode if you’re infected by them.

Despite my praise for the top quality dialogue and characterization along with appreciation for the colorful animation, Jinrui still falls short in a number of areas – the two largest of which concern the world of Jinrui itself and it’s tiny sugar-junkie inhabitants. It’s a matter of wasted potential, to be honest. A 7 out of 10 for Jinrui!

 

Tekkon Kinkreet (2006)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here on this blog. That’s mostly because my internet was down and I had to switch to a new ISP which pretty much took 2 whole months. When my internet finally came back, I was kind of turned off by anime. I wanted to get back into watching them but, somehow, whenever I got close to opening something in VLC Media Player, I ended up playing LoL or DoTA2 instead. That is, until last night.

After a 5 or so hours of a losing streak in DoTA2, I’d gotten tired of it and decided to watch something. Tekkon Kinkreet, also known as Black and White, was the first thing I saw in my anime folder so I went that. By the end of the hour and 50 minutes movie, I was glad to say that my fervor for anime has been revived.

Synopsis from MyAnimeList: Black and White are two orphans who roam the streets of Treasure Town, beating down any thug or yakuza who gets in their way. When mysterious foreign entrepreneurs appear with the intention of tearing down Treasure Town and replacing it with an amusement park, Black and White face their greatest adversaries yet. It is up to the destructive Black to save the fate of the city and up to the gentle White to save Black from his own dark nature.

It’s kind of weird that the only reason I had downloaded Tekkon Kinkreet a long time ago was because I had found a song titled ‘Aru Machi no Gunjo’ by Asian Kung Fu Generation which I loved to bit and then discovered that it was the ending credits song for Tekkon Kinkreet. It’s a rule of thumb that if an anime has an AKFG song somewhere playing during it’s run-time then that anime is bound to be good.

And, by God, Tekkon Kinkreet sure was something.

3 minutes into the movie, I had realized very quickly that I was in for a ride of surreal exposition when I looked at the very doodle-ish character designs over highly detailed eccentric backgrounds. Ping Pong The Animation being very high on my list of favorite anime, I had readily recognized that Tekkon Kinkreet was the brainchild of Matsumoto Taiyo – a mangaka whose art is considered to be akin to that of a Kindergartner’s but brimming with life and whose stories have that sublime to feel it that remind of you of a mild acid trip.

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White (the kid) goes on non-acid trips on a regular basis.

The story is pretty simple. The synopsis covers it all so I’m not going to go into it. What I will state is that I liked it very much. It’s just that I’m not sure how much I liked it. Sometimes it’s a lot and sometimes it’s like a ‘meh’. I guess you could say my feelings for the movie are kind of like the movie itself: moody.

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This was me when the movie ended.

The characters are the selling point of Tekkon Kinkreet. If you have seen Gintama then you would know that the life of Gintama is it’s city called Edo where the entire cast of the show mingles with each other both negatively and positively giving the city a solid shape. You could say that the city is alive. This is the same case with Tekkon Kinkreet’s Treasure Town. For me, Treasure Town is one giant character who has its many different moods displayed by the cast.

The real defining treat for many when it comes to characters is Black and White, older and younger brother respectively, and the relationship between the two and the town itself. Sure, they are the main point of Tekkon Kinkreet: balance and chaos and how it affects everything around us. But, for me, Tekkon Kinkreet’s side characters are what make the movie so special. If we only talked about the scenes regarding Kimura and his boss then I would quickly tell you that those scenes are the defining moments of the movie – well, besides the last 25 or so minutes of the movie when Black’s crossroad moment where he has to decide whether to plunge himself into his dark nature or back to his brother White who keeps him in check.

The animation is just… wow. The backgrounds are fantastically detailed and incorporate symbolism from many different cultures. There is a giant clock-tower that has Arabic calligraphy painted all over it. When the big-hand strikes 12, a statue of the Hindu god Ganesha comes riding out of the face of the clock.

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This is the clock-tower.

Some people, who probably aren’t aware of Matsumoto Taiyo’s art style, claim that the character designs are bland and lazy. I, and majority of those who have watched Tekkon Kinkreet, heavily disagree with them. The loose doodle-like nature of the designs is what makes the characters stand out, quite literally, from Treasure Town’s own quirkiness. Michael Arias, the director (Animatrix), and the key animators and background artists have done a phenomenal job with the animation and cinematography. Kudos!

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So many wallpaper worthy shots.

The voice acting is as Japanese as it gets. Sounds just like how your average Japanese person would on the street. To be honest, it doesn’t even seem like voice acting. Nevertheless, it works quite well with the art style.

The background music is simple yet cozy and quite energetic. Acoustic and electric guitar strumming accompanied by bells and soft drums at times. Plaid has done a neat job with the music. And, of course, the ending song by Asian Kung Fu Generation is awesome as well.

To end, I highly recommend Tekkon Kinkreet. I don’t really know what to score it but all I know that it is obviously above or equal to a 7. I’m going to have to spend the next few days recalling scenes from the movie and trying to justify a proper rating for it. Help me…

 

Yuusha ni Narenakatta Ore wa Shibushibu Shuushoku wo Ketsui Shimashita. (2013)

I Couldn’t Become a Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job.

Yep, that’s the English name for the bullet train sized Japanese name of the anime I’m reviewing right now right up there in the blog post title. Geez, what a mouthful.

After waiting two whole years to hear some news on whether ‘The Devil Is A Part-Timer’ (highly recommended) would get a second season or not, I finally went crazy and decided to go on a hunt for similar anime. Luckily, it was pretty much just 5 second Google search and around 10 seconds of me reading the synopsis on MyAnimeList about this anime, which I’ll call ‘Yuu-ni’, to come to the conclusion that I had hit the jackpot and would thoroughly enjoy the next 4 hours or so.

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DAMN YOU, RAUL!

Synopsis From MyAnimeList: The story revolves around Raul, a boy who did not become a Hero, since the demon lord was already defeated just before his Hero exams. His dreams dashed, Raul spends his days working at a magic shop in the capital. One day, a part-time job seeker appears at the shop with an amazing résumé:

Name: Fino
Previous Occupation: Demon Lord Heir
Motive: Because my father was defeated

The work comedy revolves around this former Hero-in-training and the daughter of the demon lord.

The very first thing I have to say about Yuu-ni is… TITS. Like, no. I mean, yes! Tits. Fully exposed jiggly wiggly bosoms dancing around on your screen hilariously 3 minutes into the first episode of this anime. I did not expect this to be an ecchi show. Well, not THAT ecchi. The Devil Is A Part-Timer had plenty of ecchi. But, most of it was rather contained and there weren’t any fully bare breasts shaking up a fleshy storm almost every 4 minutes. So, be warned that if you can’t stand fanservice then it’s best that you just stop reading right here.

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Fino knows what’s up.

Now let’s get to actual meat of this review!

Raul is a strong and uptight cherry-boy that couldn’t become a Hero because the Demon Lord had his ass handed to him right before Raul’s Hero qualification examination. The Demon Lord-less world meant that there was no need for Heroes anymore and so, many current and aspiring Heroes and the industries involved with this work, like armories and weapon blacksmiths, were devastated and had to look for another source of income. And that’s why Raul is stuck reluctanly working in a magic shop. That is, until one day the Demon Lord’s daughter takes up a job at Raul’s shop and he’s stuck showing her the ropes while his life, his dreams, and his way of working are all turned upside down with each passing day bringing them closer.

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Raul has a sinking feeling. GEDDIT?

And that’s the plot. Well, that’s the plot until the last 3 episodes where a major twist messes things up and actual non-ecchi action (relatively speaking here) takes center stage. Up until the twist, Yuu-ni was probably a 5/10 in my view. When the show ended, the rating went up to an 8 in terms of enjoyment and a 7 when considering the show objectively.

Since Yuu-ni isn’t a show I’ll ever recommend to anyone, I will discuss the twist and the ending and urge you to watch it if you’re looking for a fun ecchi show that knows what it is, takes pride in itself, and does not half-ass the things it wants to do.

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This could also have been the anime’s title. Just saying.

The twist is that Fino, the Demon Lord’s daughter, is forced by some shady demon guy and a couple of Heroes to become the next Demon Lord. Fino ain’t want none o’ that shit. She justs want to be a normal salesperson and open up a magic shop in the demon world. So, a bunch of betrayals, fight scenes two or three levels below that of Fate’s, and a load of wittiness later: Raul saves the day.

It’s a pretty hectic end that ties up the starightforward story quite well. So where does the 6/10 from before the last few episodes come from? That would be the world-building, characters and the dry dramatic scenes. Let’s talk about Yuu-ni’s world first.

Is it a game world? The characters talk about being drained of HP and use game terms so, is it? Are the human world and the demon world different dimensions or in the same one? There’s a mountain that can either take you to or is the Demon Lord’s lair in the human world so, what gives?  Why didn’t the Heroes try to jobs as cops or join the military? Surely, there’s crime and humans are morons so there must be conflict amongst humans as well so, why? SO MANY QUESTIONS. NO ANSWERS. At least the jokes are funny. Somewhat.

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Why is Tony Stark a branch manager?

The dramatic scenes can get too dramatic. Like crying for a very ‘why are the hell are you even crying?’ reason is something I despise. Especially in comedies. Over-passionate speeches and edgy monologues are things I let slide in non-comedies but here it’s a big ‘NO!’ from my side.

As in most comedies, it’s a one-dimensional harem paradise ensemble of cute ladies and two guys. Add in three more guys by the ending because who else is better suited to play the villain to cuties than two frustrated men and a thousand years less inexperienced Orihara Izaya? Raul gets some development over the course of the show. Fino is jolly smiles and doesn’t know the meaning of ‘sexual restraint’ until that twist. Other than for the fanservice, the rest of the cast is forgettable – well except for Searas, the boss of Raul’s shop, who is a joy to watch especially in battle where she’s selling goods from her shop. Real neat-o!

The animation is the actual highlight of the show. I just wish it focussed more on the action scenes. It’s still wonderfully fluid and suffers from no drops on quality, though. But it sometimes be too bright for me.

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The animators when asked how much of the budget went into animating the jiggly boobs?

The sound… nothing special. Forgettable.

Overall, the score is a 7 out of 10. It was fun.