Sunday, November 20, 2016

Review: The Legend of Korra

I got amazon Prime a while back and found that The Legend of Korra was available so I began watching it. I've heard about Avatar, but never saw the series, only a bit of the movie.

Legend of Korra is the sequel to Avatar. You can watch it without knowing the older series. It's actually not a Japanese anime, but rather an American animated TV series. But it's very similar, both in art style and plot, so I labeled this review "anime".

The series has four seasons called "books": Air, Spirits, Change and Balance. That can be a bit confusing. Each episode is about 25 minutes long, so it's perfect for watching one or two episodes in the evening after work.

It's set in a world where some people can control elements - which is called "bending". There are water benders, fire benders and earth benders. Air benders are extremely rare, there are only five of them left, all in one family. Of course there are also lots of normal people. I also think the world has a bit of 1920s and  Steampunk feeling to it, which I quite enjoyed.

Though it's called "Legend of Korra" I don't like the main heroine too much. She's rash, impulsive and overestimates herself frequently. But I consider this very much an ensemble series. There's lots of diverse, rich characters. And when I'm about to watch another episode, I'm not loking forward to seeing more of Korra, but more of the whole gang.
Besides Korra, there's the brothers Mako and Bolin. Mako is rather serious while Bolin is a happy-go-lucky who is surprisingly good at a wide range of things. Level-headed Asami is both tech-savvy and combat-savvy. Tenzin is a strict airbender monk. One of my favourites is Lin Beifong; she's quite abrasive, but also a badass chief of police.

I didn't like the second season as much as the first. It was suspense-packed, but I got a little annoyed of Korra who was being a total brat. I understand to be fooled once by someone who tells you what you want to hear and leave your friends behind. Happens to the best of us. Twice... well, she's only a teenager. But three times? How stupid can she be? The ending of the season dragged itself like it was a Bleach fight. And in the end it didn't seem very logical.
The fourth season starts out quite dark. It reminded me a little of Buffy after she was brought back to life. Korra and Buffy do have a lot in common - the chosen one born into every generation, with her scoobie gang. But the last season has a strange pace. There's even one completely unnecessary filler recap episode in the middle of the season! And then the end gets very Superhero movie like; could have been the Avengers or something.

A lot of the "lessons learned" seem forced. The resolve to some mental problems that were build up for a while felt sudden and not believable.
And the romance between Korra and Asami that caused such a fuzz? Honestly, to me that just wasn't there. If I hadn't read about it, I'd never guessed. There just wasn't any chemistry between them, nothing in the episodes that would have made it obvious that they might be more than close friends. I guess, this being an American series, they did not dare to go that far. So if you planned to watch this, expecting this great LGBT series - don't get your hopes up.

This review sounds bad, but honestly I quite liked Korra.
As I said, I think the best about Korra is the range of characters. There's so many fleshed out characters. All have faults and strengths and their time to shine. You could to a dozen shorts, examining the life of one of them and I'd look forward to it. The bad guys aren't just bad, they do have a cause that actually seems justified (if it wasn't for the means they used).
The world building and character design is very well done, too.

And I really love the music during the ending. It's so soothing, I could listen to it on infinite loop to fall asleep. I wish it was available somewhere.

The Legend of Korra on Wikipedia Read more on this article...

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Fall season 2016 short anime reviews

Before I write about a few of this season's animes, let me tell you one thing: the best anime of this season is going to be Natsumes Book of Friends. I have very little doubt in that. But I already reviewed that anime (though not this season) - you can find it here.

Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru
This anime is about a couple of famous historical swords turned into young men to protect history from the attacks of the "historical revisionists". They are sent to certain incidents in Japanese history, but it's not enough to teach you about what actually happened at these points in Japanese history.
To be honest it feels more like someone had fun imagining the swords as boys and so tried to make up a plot to justify it. As a result the character design is very diverse and creative. But so many people got introduced so fast that I really got confused.
Otherwise it's actually quite nice to see the more day-to-day life at the mansion. As long as you don't try to remember who is supposed to be the former sword of who.

Nyanbo look like cats made out of little boxes but are actually aliens. They can't be seen by humans and they try to repair their spaceship.
The episodes are only about five minutes each. It looks interesting how they managed to include the Nyanbo in real environment.
It's cute sometimes, but most of the time rather unremarkable and boring. More than this, at times it's really stupid and sexist.

3-gatsu no Lion
This anime about a professional Shogi player teen starts out really weird. Later on it becomes more like what you'd expect, but it still has these strange surreal parts. I don't like the way the people are drawn that much (especially the mouths), but the backgrounds are really amazing.
Though I often like calm animes, I just don't understand this one. Of course, I don't understand shogi, but I also don't find the comedy parts funny - somehow I just don't "get" this anime.

Nobunaga no Shinobi
This is another short anime, with each episode only lasting about 3,5 minutes.
Chidori is a ninja girl who starts service for the samurai Nobunaga. There's lots of name-dropping of - I assume - famous historical persons. It's drawn in a very cute style, and I'm not sure how that fits with the rather violent setting.

Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari
Udon are a kind of noodles. Souta's family owned a Udon restaurant but he went to Tokyo to work as a web designer. After his father died, he comes back to clean out the house. There he meets a little kid. Thinking it's a lost child, he wants to take it to the police - but on the way, he discovers that it's actually a shapeshifting Tanuki.
Souta looks a lot like Handa-sensei from Barakamon - adding to the similar storyline the theme of food that seems to be so trendy recently. The tanuki can be a little annoying in his human child form, but really adorable in his animal form.
If the little boy doesn't become annoying, this might be one of my favourite new animes this season.

Fume wo Amu
This anime is about the editorial departement for a dictionary. Yes, a dictionary. Apparently in Japan there are different dictionaries, each with its own style and the people in this anime want to make a new one.
In my opinion, they try a little too hard to make dictionary editing look exciting with heroic speeches, special effects and dramatic background music. It's really a bit ridiculous.
The song of the ending credits is very nice, though.

Read more on this article...

Monday, October 3, 2016

Dr. Who Series Seven to Eight

And on goes the Dr. Who binge watching! So far there's hardly beeen a day in the last few weeks on which I didn't watch at least one episode.

First off two things I really love about Dr. Who:
I really love how curious, enthusiastic and thirsty for knowledge the Doctor is. I think that's a really good thing to teach children.
And then I love the little camoes by scientists. Like when something happened to/on Earth and there's TV coverage on the phenomena and they show interview snippets with people like Richard Dawkins or Brian Cox. Love it!

Series 7 - The Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond and Rory Williams as well as Clara Oswald
Again Amy and Rory. And I still don't like Amy. How come they get three seasons when both Martha and Donna only got one?

This season has two parts. The first couple of episodes were ok, though I think they overdid it with the Statue of Liberty being a Weeping Angel. Amy and Rory leave at the end of the fifth episode. Though I don't quite get the drama of it, because the Doctor could just visit them - no?

We also learn that the Doctor was busy deleting information about himself from all databases. Which also means that River is no longer in prison since there's no record of the man she presumably killed.

The second part of this season gets new beginning and ending credits - which I don't like as much as the others. There's also - of course - a new companion. We've met Clara (or version of her) before. I'm looking forward to this because I liked her when she first turned up.

The episodes are fun, though nothing special. We get to see a Soviet submarine and ghost hunters. We also get to see a bit more of the TARDIS interior and the Doctor gets assimilated to the Borg Cyberman, complete with Seven of Nine make-up - that makes him Eleven of Twelve, doesn't it? That episode had Warwick Davies in it, by the way (and was written by Neil Gaiman).
I do like that we get to meet the reptile Madame Vastra, her wife Jenny and the alien soldier Strax - we first saw them in an earlier season when rescuing Amy, but they weren't introduced back then.

The most emotional part is when we see River Song say goodbye to the Doctor for the last time. Their timelines are chaotic, so it's impossible to say how often we see River in future episodes, but this was clearly her last time within her timeline.

The Day of the Doctor - The War Doctor, the Tenth Doctor, the Eleventh Doctor and Clara Oswald
I love this episode! It's a 50th anniversary special and it might just be my favourite episode so far.

The interaction between the three Doctors is simply hilarious.
And I love how they integrated old footage of the past Doctors. Best as they could, at least.
David Tennant is back and he's just perfect. Oh, I've missed that face. The difference between the Tenth and the Eleventh Doctor is even more obvious like this - I've mentioned them before. And I still like the Tenth best; probably because of these differences.

In the end, it didn't change much for the past Doctors. For plot reasons they couldn't remember, so they'd still suffer. It didn't change much for the Time Lords; maybe they're not dead, but they're not in normal space-time either. But it opens up interesting possibilities.
I also thought that the infamous Time War didn't actually look that terrible that it'd be reason enough to destroy two whole species. It looked just like any other war, really. I'm not quite sure what I expected though.
The strange thing was that since they already showed the next Doctor, I expected Eleven to die any moment at the end. But he didn't. Pleasant surprise there, though it keeps me wondering...

Did I mention that the three Doctors interacting was fantastic?

Series 8 - The Twelth Doctor and Clara Oswald
So in another special Eleven regenerated into Twelve. Didn't like the special much compared to the others. The end of the eleventh Doctor wasn't as emotional as the others, to me.

So now there's Twelve, Peter Capaldi. I was a bit worried at first, I know I have problems understanding the Glaswegian dialect. But it's ok; it's not easy, but not as bad as I expected.
The regeneration does seem to have it's drawbacks, as he has trouble remembering peoples names at first. But this time I've seen the previous Doctors in him. When Clara announced she'd leave, I saw the Tenth Doctor being afraid of loneliness. And he sometimes did sound a bit like Eleven, too. Yeah, I really liked that.
But he doesn't portray the fascination as much as the other Doctors. He seems a lot more serious. More grumpy old man.

Clara at first seems to have some trouble coming to terms with her Doctor not being a pretty young man anymore. She did involuntarily admit in the last special that she fancied him. But eventually she comes around. She even finds a boyfriend. She didn't fulfill my high hopes though. I'm not quite sure what it is; maybe sometimes she just comes across as a little bitchy. Or maybe it's because the Doctor bosses her around so much and she lets him - I'm not sure if that's been the case before, I just notice it a lot in this series.

There's also a new intro. Very CGI, but not too bad.
I absolutely love the bookshelves on the walls of the TARDIS. I really like this Tardis interior, got a bit of Steampunk feeling to it.

I really liked the Robin Hood episode; one of the more light-hearted episodes. It was a little cheesy, but fun - that's Doctor Who, I guess.
And the one with the Orient Express has a great 1920s cover of Don't Stop Me Now.

Sometimes though, the death toll bothers me. A lot of people die in Doctor Who. Not only main characters, but lots of others. And I don't like how casually it is dealt with. And often they die a horrible death like falling alive into liquid gold.

The double season finale... Well, I knew I didn't like Clara that much and this episode confirmed it. More than anything that she went through, what touched me most was the former Companion of the Doctor (I guess he was).
I liked how they hinted at what's to come in the finale episode through the previous episodes, without influencing the plot of these.

This is the last series that's available for free with Amazon Prime, so for now that's where I'll stop.
I'd really like to watch the old seasons, too. Especially since some of the new episodes featured old Companions. Read more on this article...

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Dr. Who Series Four to Six

After series one to three, here's my thoughts about the next batch...

Series 4 - The Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble
We've seen Donna Noble in a christmas special before. She declined the offer of the Doctor to travel with him back then. When she came back I wasn't sure about her, because I didn't understand why she declined at first and then regretted it so much. I still have a hard time understanding the motivation of the Companions, I think.
At first the Doctor denied her new wish to travel with him, afraid that the drama and hurt of what happened with Martha would repeat itself. But without understanding what was going on, Donna made it quite clear that she didn't think him attractive in the least, so he agreed.

Certainly Donnas life wasn't overly great. We see in this series that it could be much worse, but there's nothing that could give her self-worth. I think that's one aspect of her character a lot of people can relate to. And it makes her goodbye so much sadder, because she loses everything she has gained.
While she's not as intelligent and educated as Martha, she has some sorts of street smarts. What I like most about Donna is her absolute "no bullshit" attitude. She'll give everyone a piece of her opinion, including the Doctor. That does him some good, it gets him off his high horse.
Shame she didn't get more than one season. I'll miss her.

The Doctor himself felt more vulnerable to me. I'm not sure whether this is actually really there in the plot and the acting or whether I'm just getting to know the character better. But in the last christmas special he very nearly had a breakdown out of loneliness.
I really do like Tennants acting, his facial expressions are a joy to watch. It's a shame this was his last season. I'm looking forward to the next Doctors, but I'll really miss him.

We also get to meet River Song - not a former Companion, but apparently a future one (or something else, something more?). And we also get to see Martha Jones and Rose Tyler again.
Among the new characters I really liked Donnas grandfather the best, he's great.

In the final double episode we see people from spin-off series - including Captain Jack Harkness (yay). It was really great, seeing all of them together, working together, everyone playing their part. It's probably even better if you actually know the spin-off series (which I don't), but so far this was my favourite season ending.

Series 5 - The Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond
Amy as a little kid was really cool. There was this madman, demanding food (priceless: "You're Scottish - fry something"), eating fish fingers with custard and she's totally calm.
Adult Amy is not so cool. I don't know... laughing madly and runnning along with the doctor. And then she threw herself on him the night before her wedding... That's, well, not a sign of good character, is it?
And then they get her fiancé Rory to tag along - just like Rose and Mickey. Except Rory seems to die a lot.
And I really don't like Amy. I can't put my finger on it. She's flat, hardly any character, and what's there just isn't likeable. It's not just that I'm not liking her very much (like Rose), I actually dislike her.

What also confused me is that the curious Doctor did not think to investigate the gap and the strange things that were happening. I mean, there's obviously something wrong, something that frightens even Weeping Angels - and he takes Amy and Rory on a date in Venice?
The character of the Doctor seemed to change, too. He's not... as contemplative and lonely as the Tenth Doctor. I wonder if everything that happened is just kind of forgotten after a reincarnation? Or rather still there in the memories, but not emotionally relevant.

I really liked the episode with Vincent van Gogh. Though he sounded Scottish or Irish - well, anyway not Dutch. It also had Bill Nighy in it. And a great musical score. It was nice, and very sad, bitter-sweet. I actually cried.

I felt this series was rather dramatic. Lots of dramatic death scenes. Matt Smith is a good Doctor (and a cutie), but I'm still getting used to him. River is back, which is great. No Jack, unfortunately.
Not my favourite season (but the Vincent episode was great).

Series 6 - The Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond and Rory Williams
Well, seems like I'm stuck with Amy for another series. And it seems like we got an explanatory intro - not sure why. Perhaps the show got more popular abroad and the producers felt the need to explain.

And Rory keeps on dying. Seriously, he died more often than Buffy now, it kinda keeps getting old. Actually everyone gets to die. And Amy gets pregnant and her baby is stolen.
With all the emotional damage that Amy and Rory are suffering by travelling with the Doctor, you have to wonder why they keep doing it. They never really see these wonders the Doctor promises them (the TARDIS gets lost a lot in this series).

We also get more River Song. We finally find out who she is ("Spoilers"). Very interesting. Must really be a confusing life though.
We also see the TARDIS come alive as a woman in an episode written by Neil Gaiman. That one was one of my favourites from this series.
And how come it took five seasons until Nazis? Knowing the British, I really would have expected this sooner.

No Jack Harkness though - it seems like the Eleventh Doctor cut a lot more ties than the Tenth. There seems to be hardly any overlapping of these lives, like people from the past are forgotten.
The Eleventh Doctor also feels a lot more... ruthless. Well, I guess even before the last reincarnation the Doctor didn't always go through with his pacifism, but I felt like it got worse. Even River confronted him with it.

When he's not dying, Rory is rather brave. On one hand, that makes him likeable. On the other hand I don't like when they turn a healer into a warrior (like Marsha), and I feel like that's what happened with Rory who turned from a nurse to "The Last Centurion".

The pace of the series is a bit confusing. At first it seems like they are again ignoring important signs (and I got the feeling the Doctor was doing it on purpose). Then suddenly after just a few episodes we get a seasons finale - in the middle of the season. But then the overall plot just disappears and we get single episodes again. And then the plot returns. The last episode is a little confusing but wraps up what began in the first episode.

There are some good episodes, but overall this season was way too over-dramatic. If there is a heart-wrenching death scene in nearly every episode... it's really too much.
Read more on this article...

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Dr. Who Series One to Three

When you're out and about in the internet, you can't help but notice some fandoms you don't know anything about. Of course, you can't watch everything - and much less like everything - but I get curious anyway. So Firefly is on my list and I watched Avatar and Korra (review coming up) and then there's Dr. Who... One of the reasons to get an Amazon Prime trial was Dr. Who. Luckily you can also watch it in English, though my TV can't do subtitles and the British actors are soemtimes hard to understand.

So, I thought why not write a review and share my impressions.
Amazon only has the revival series though. Which on one hand is good (because it's faster to catch up - imagine having to start in the 60s!). On the other hand it's a bit of a shame because you miss out on the beginning.

In case you don't know what Dr. Who is about: the Doctor (he never gives another name) is an alien from the planet of Gallifrey. His species is called time lords, a very powerful and long-lived species. When hurt badly, they can "regenerate", which completely changes their body and saves them from dying. Despite of this the time lords became extinct in a terrible war; as far as the Doctor knows, he's the last one.
He travels around in his space ship, the TARDIS, which can travel through both space and time. The TARDIS looks like a blue British police box, but is a lot bigger in the inside.
He usually travels with one or rarely more Companions. They seem mostly to be female, though the relationship is not of a sexual nature. They're just a partner to join in on his adventures.

Series 1 - The Ninth Doctor and Rose
I quite liked the outfit of the Ninth Doctor - leather jacket and jeans. Simple. Practical. But I have to say I had some difficulties with his character. He seems so hyper, he was laughing so often, which to me felt inappropriate considering the seriousness of most of the plots. He was acting like he was on a roller coaster ride when it was actually a matter of life and death. So I wasn't too sad when he "died" at the end of series one.

I'm not too sure about his Companion Rose either. She's very down-to-earth but I never could get a real grip on her personality. She was there and she's kinda cool and that's it.
Her relationship with Mikey was one of the things I didn't like about her. He's a cool character, too, brave, loyal and sensible. But I felt like he was treated unfairly.

The highlight of the first series for me was Captain Jack Harkness. Former time agency agent, badass, flirts with everyone. What a joy to watch! He's a bit like Han Solo meets Captain Kirk. I liked how they made him bisexual, it just fits; and it's still rather rare on TV. Plus he got a good bit of characters development, too. While watching I thought to myself "hey, they should give this guy his own show" - only to find out later that they actually did! Another show to put on my list, it seems.

Overall it needed a bit getting used to the cheesiness now and then. On the other hand, some of the episodes were really creepy (like peoples faces turning into gasmasks - nightmare material).
There are some people saying that you shouldn't watch this series and you should start with the second one. I'm not quite sure why, because even though I didn't like the main characters too much, I think you really should start here.

Series 2 - The Tenth Doctor and Rose
It went on with the creepy and there were quite a few double episodes (whcih are too long to watch during the work week), so I feel like it took ages to finish this series. Even though I finally get to see one of the two sexy fangirl-favourite Doctors - that should have been an incentive to watch.

And yeah, David Tennant is good. You know, American heartthrobs look like Chris Evans, but British heartthrobs look like David Tennant or Benedict Cumberbatch. And like so often, I do prefer the British way over the American way in that aspect.
Oh, and did I mention how I love the Chucks? Suit, trenchcoat and Chucks - wonderful outfit.

But still, this series was somehow hard to watch.
I liked the episodes in the past, with Queen Victoria and Madame de Pompadour. And it was really interesting to meet a former Companion.
The season finale didn't touch me as much as it should have - probably because I really don't get Roses character. Most of the emotion in the scene came from watching the face of the Doctor (so hey, kudos to David Tennant).

Series 3 - The Tenth Doctor and Martha
Alright, I have to admit, they finally got me with the first episode of this series because I think the way the Tenth Doctor invited Martha to the TARDIS was damn sexy. I get it now. And once it has been seen, it's hard to unsee.

Anyway, Martha. I quite like Martha. Perhaps she's more relatable to me than Rose. She seems to be an introvert, she's well-educated and clever. I love how when she turned up with the Doctor as a "date" to a party, her sister remarked something like "science geek - should have known"; it says a lot about Martha.
With all that strength of character she's also unfortunately a tragic figure. She falls in love with the Doctor right away. I can't blame her: he's intelligent, he's good-looking and he kissed her in a dangerous situation (science shows that people easily fall in love in frightening situations because of misattribution of the excitement). Plus the way he invited her to their first voluntary space-time-adventure was nothing short of seduction.
And I think that's where Martha was treated unfairly by the Doctor. It felt like he desperately needed someone and he chose her, with little regard towards her feelings and she needed to deal with all his emotional baggage while also having to deal with her own unrequited love.
And I feel like Martha also got treated unfairly by the producers. She's intelligent, but was never quite allowed to show it. She saved the earth from one of the most powerful beings in the universe, saved the Doctor - without any super power, just by herself, a normal human being. But it wasn't actually shown on screen. It's a little unfair, really, to not show any of her badassery. No wonder the fans didn't like her as much.

And then, in the last few episodes - Jack is back! So good to see him again (and the big reveal - wow). Although... The Doctor also treated him badly, at least in the beginning. What is this - the season of the Doctor treating his friends like shit? True, we have been shown that the Doctor can be quite merciless; but usually only to his enemies.

But still, I shed a few tears at the end of the finale, with both Jack and Martha leaving the Doctor and his puppy dog eyes.

That's it for now. The next series will follow later when I have watched them.

Official Website
Wikipedia Series 1
Wikipedia Series 2
Wikipedia Series 3

Read more on this article...

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Summer season 2016 short anime reviews

Fukigen na Mononokean (The Morose Mononokean)
This feels like a mixture between Natsume's Book of Friends and Kyokai no Rinne. Though I thought the latter got boring after a while, I love the former, so I have high hopes for this series. There's this school boy who realizes he can see yokai one day after he's possessed by one. He seeks the help of an exorcist, who happens to be a classmate. To pay for his exorcism, he has to help him.

I have the feeling, this might be my favourite anime of the season. I'm really looking forward to where the realtionship between these two is going. It's seems to start off kind of as a mentorship, but not quite, since their the same age. Also there seems to be the yokai of the week, so I expect we get to see many different creatures.

Hatsukoi Monster
This girl falls in love with a guy and starts dating him. So far it looks like an average shoujo anime. Only that the boy and his friends - even though looking like they're straight out of some idol anime - are primary school kids. They don't look like it, but act like it, complete with "wiener" jokes and all.
I was thinking "WTF" throughout most of the first episode and then dropped it. This isn't only a bad reverse harem, it's worse. It's not even funny in an ironic way. It's just really, really bad. Why does something like this even get produced?

I love Barakamon! It's one of my favourites, both anime and manga. I have to say that my high hopes in the prequel Handa-Kun were a bit disappointed. It's a different genre and not a masterpiece like Barakamon. But maybe Handa-Kun is more suited to be an anime?

High school student Handa-kun thinks no-one likes him. When people do something he interprets their acts accordingly. But in reality people at school admire Handa-kun and they interpret his action as extremely cool and aloof - even if he's just frozen out of fear. And now you know the plot of each episode: one misunderstanding after the other.
Handa-kun is very episodic - extremely so. Actually there's like two or three seperate stories per anime episode. It's just comedy with the same theme to it every time. It's not bad, but... it's just the same over and over again. Maybe the show should be called Confirmation Bias.
The first half of the first episode is some Gintama-like breaking of the fourth wall. I thought it was a little too much, but for some reason it was only the first episode. What I think is a little creepy is how everyone except the main characters has no eyes - they look like Dr. Who monsters or something.
I really like the song in the ending, though.

Amaama to Inazuma (sweetness & lightning)
It seems food-centered anime is all the trend right now. This is another one. It's about a single parent and teacher, whose wife died a few months ago. He works all day and is not good at cooking so his daughter gets only ready-made bento from the convenient store. Until they meet a pupil and daughter of a restaurant owner. They meet up at the restaurant to cook together while the mother is away busy with work at a TV station.
The setting is a bit weird, but the series isn't too bad. It's not great either. It's nice to watch.

I'm a really bad cook, so maybe this will make me want to learn how to cook? On the other hand, some of these food combinations are really a bit... foreign.
Still, definitely one you shouldn't watch while hungry.

This is another short series, with an episode only lasting about 3 minutes. If you thought the other short animes were wacky... this one is about a cat that lives in a banana.
It's kinda cute but really makes no sense at all.

Read more on this article...

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Spring Season 2016 anime short reviews

A young boy with a father who is neglecting his family finds a crystal and gets pulled into a fantasy world where some people can produce huge weapons out of their chests.
Actually this one was so average and un-interesting that I dropped it after a little more than the first episode. There's too many anime to waste your time with the bad or boring ones.

Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge
Tanaka-kun is extremely listless. He makes being lazy into an art form. He has a good friend, a guy called Oota, who takes care of him, makes sure he eats and even carries him around when Tanaka can't be bothered to move. In the second episode Tanaka takes on an apprentice - just because she insisted and it would have been too much work to turn her down. That's how lazy he is.
I know, it sounds kinda boring and it's indeed not very exciting. But it's a funny slice of life piece and so far I really like it.

Seisen Cerberus: Ryuukoku no Fatalités
This anime starts of showing a female with ridiculous clothing and huge tits screaming for help. Yeah, not a good first impression... There's also a great warrior with a huge sword, a magic cat-girl with suspenders, a dragon and all the usual stuff. It was actually rather boring. The character design was... well, not impressive and the quality of animation underwhelming. So I dropped it after about 1,5 episodes.

Flying Witch
Flying Witch starts off like Kikis Delivery Service: Makoto leaves home with her black cat familiar because that's what witches do at a certain age. But because her mothers was too worried about her, she's staying with relatives instead of living on her own.
This sounds really promising and I hope it lives up to that. So far I couldn't make out a bigger plot. Maybe it'll turn out like Natsume's Book of Friends, which would be fine with me. It's got that rural mixed with supernatural feeling to it.

Read more on this article...

Sunday, January 31, 2016

review: Star Wars Rebels

I know there has been a lack of reviews lately. To be honest, I wasn't very thrilled with the last couple of anime seasons. Mostly I didn't like what I saw, I dropped quite a lot of series and the  good stuff were mostly sequels to a series I already reviewed. So not a lot of material for reviews there.
But now I've got a review for you again - though it's not anime.

Recently I've really been into Star Wars. OK, with the release of The Force Awakens everything and everyone has been into Star Wars (even toilet paper). But for me it's been Star Wars Rebels.
I was sick before christmas and there was a Star Wars night on TV, showing the complete first season of Star Wars Rebels. I knew about it before, but this really made me love it

Star Wars Rebels takes place about fourteen years after the destruction of the Jedi Order (Revenge of the Sith) and about five years before Luke sets out to rescue Princess Leia (A new Hope). It's set on a grassland planet called Lothal, in the Outer Rim - a rather remote place - and follows the adventures of a group of five rebels, at a time when the Rebel Alliance against the Empire was just about to become an organized venture.

Main character is Ezra Bridger, a human teen. He's been getting by, living on the streets, since his parents were taken away for broadcasting criticism of the Empire when he was seven. He's been on his own for so many years that he has developed some trust issues. He's also often a typical teenager complete with annoying behaviour and stupid logic. But hey, it's realistic, so you can't hate him for it. It turns out that he's been subconsciously using the Force.

At the start of Star Wars Rebels Ezra joins the crew of the starship Ghost led by Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla.

Kanan Jarrus is - I'm going to spoil just a little bit here - a former Jedi Padawan, one of the very few who survived Order 66 when the Jedi were betrayed and killed. His master did not survive, so he changed his name and gave up the Jedi lifestyle in order to survive. He led the life of a vagabond - in my mind I call him a Rōnin, a samurai without a master - and eventually became part of Hera's crew and a rebel against the Empire. He keeps his Jedi past a secret, but the rebel group greatly benefits from his knowledge, training and experience in war.

Hera's a beautiful, green-skinned Twi'lek - and one hell of a pilot. It's often mentioned that Kanan is the leader of the group, but I think this title belongs to both of them. She owns the Ghost, the starship the rebels live on, and she often gets their missions, especially if they're of the more anti-Empire kind. I think the podcast Coffe with Kenobi once called Hera "the first rebel" - she's in this with all her heart and soul and puts her needs after the greater good she sees in their actions. She keeps the group together and pushes them forward.

The other three members of the group are Sabine, Zeb and Chopper.
Sabine is a young Mandalorian - remember the Bounty Hunter Boba Fett who caught Han Solo? - and she obviously loves two things: graffiti and explosions. She loves to dye her hair, spray paint all kinds of things, she's very good with blasters and even better with all kinds of explosives. The stormtroopers have learned to run and hide when they see her graffiti mark somewhere because it means something's about to blow up.
Zeb is the Chewbacca, the Mr. T, the grumpy muscles of the team. He's also one of the last of the Lasat, a species that was nearly wiped out by the Empire, and wields the traditional weapon of the Lasat  honour guardsman.
Then there's Chopper, an out-dated astromech droid, similar to R2-D2, only a lot less friendly. He doesn't seem to like anyone except for his owner Hera but just like his more famous cousin he saves the day quite a few times.

I like how the crew of the Ghost is very diverse - Star Wars has been criticised for being very white, but Star Wars Rebels definitely isn't. Ezra is very obviously Arabian, he reminded me a lot of Aladdin in the Disney movie in the beginning. Sabine has an Asian look to herself and some have said Kanan looks Latino. But as a rebel group they're very much like a patchwork family.
What I love even more is the portrayal of female characters. They are just normal characters, who happen to be female. It's so refreshing! This should not be such a big issue, but sadly it is.
I think it's a bit of a shame though that Hera didn't get a lot of background yet. I think she's a very important character, but unlike with Ezra, Kanan, Sabine and Zeb, we hardly know anything about her, her past and why she's doing this. Maybe it's because she's often staying behind, ensuring their getaway. I hope we'll have a bit more information soon, but I think for one of the leaders of the group, it's come too late into the story.

A lot of people say that Star Wars Rebels has the vibe of the original movie trilogy. It's not surprising, since timewise it's closest. Also the use of the old music themes emphasises this.
I like how Star Wars Rebels tells another tale, not the "saviour of the universe" tale, not the story of the people who will go on to become legends, but the struggles of the "infantery". To quote Gandalf: "Some belief that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay." Of course the Lothal Rebels aren't quite ordinary people.
It does worry me a little, though, because I wonder what will happen to these characters. Will they all have to die because none of them are mentioned in the movies that depict the events five years later?

But what I love most about Rebels is - let's be honest here - Kanan. He's my favourite Jedi since Qui-Gon Jinn. There are comics and books about him (which of course I had to buy) so he's the character with the most background. I really like characters who hide how badass they're actually are and I love it when they let it out. I love the Rōnin story of his life, I like how he's so in love with Hera (who puts their mission first) and how he upholds the philosophy of the Jedi without the dogmatic approach that eventually at least partly caused the downfall of the Order. And I love how he's not perfect, how he holds resentments and has his own insecurities. Through the series he bonds with Ezra, the both of them really becoming master and apprentice, and this relationship lets Kanan grow, too.

Star Wars Rebels includes a lot of nods towards the other franchise. People like Bail Organa and Lando Calrissian turn up. Mostly this is very well done, but sometimes they rely a little too much on viewers knowing The Clone Wars (which I don't). But overall you can watch it without having seen the other animated series.
By the way, I also like the Rebels style of animation a lot better, it's less square, more detailed textures.

Star Wars Rebels on Wookipedia
Star Wars Rebels on IMDb

A very special thanks to Amy Ratcliffe who trough her ravings in my Twitter timeline has made me start watching Star Wars Rebels in the first place. Read more on this article...