Friday, June 29, 2012

ANI-MOVIES, *Superman Vs. The Elite

Superman has already had two of his own animated movies as part of the DC Universe line, including two team-up films with Batman, and been in all three Justice League movies. Trying to give fans a new boost of the Man of Steel in the pop media(probably because of the upcoming reboot film), this is an adaptation of the anniversary special in Action Comics #775 introducing an Authority-like superhero team into Superman's personal universe.

Superman fights the marauding Atomic Skull in the middle of Metropolis, but not without a few honest citizens getting disentigraged. Superman then finds out a foreign country is using giant monsters in their civil war, but is suprisingly helped by a new team of young heroes who call themselves The Elite. Their leader is the cocky telepathic Manchester Black. His teammates are Coldcast who can project and absorb nuclear energy, the winged Menegerie who can summon bizarre creatures directly out of her body, and their resident magic-user, The Hat. Superman is at first happy to recieve some new help in the world protection biz, because apparently like in all Superman movies there aren't any other superhero teams like the JLA. It becomes apparent though that The Elite don't pull punches as they kill some terrorists and waste Atomic Skull after he busts out of jail even more powerful. This makes The Elite new flavor of the week around the world. Superman begins to doubt whether his way of being a hero is effective in the 21st Century, but realizes that The Elite has to be stopped. After they go to far by axing the leaders of a war-torn nation, Superman challenges The Elite to a fight to the finish. They teleport to the moon, and at first it looks like Superman is deader than disco. Things go nightmarish for The Elite though as Superman seems to turn into freakin' General Zod, using his powers to take them down one-by-one. He finally stops Black by destroying his mental powers by giving him a heat-vision lobotomy. Superman reveals he was faking the whole going crazy thing at the end with some help from his Legion of Super-Robots. Truth, justice, and all that jazz are restored, but hopefully next time Supes will remember to call on Batman for some help!

This movie had some more harsher tones than the previous DC Universe entries, but the more cartoonish look to the characters seems to really derail alot of the maturity involved. George Newbern from the Justice League animated series returns as Superman, but aside from him there isn't much any remarkable voice actors in it. I'd suggest at least renting or downloading it, but not really worth shelling out the money to own it.

Monday, June 25, 2012

OBSCURE O.V.A.S, *Tekkaman Blade II

Probably best known to Americans as Teknoman(one of the first anime series to be broadcast on an American network!), this 6-episode OVA takes place ten years after the original Tekkaman Blade television series.

The alien forces of Radham have begun another assult on Earth. Now however, a whole division of Tekkaman fighters have sprung up ready to defend the world with their amazing power armor. One recruit into this new army is Yumi, a mechanic who accidently acquired the awesome power of the Volteker Reactor. But with rivalries within her fellow fighters, the advancing alien hordes, and the return of the original Tekkeman, Yumi has her work cut out for her.

The animation here is a little better than the original TV series, plus it doesn’t suffer from all that awful “edited for television” butchering job UPN did. It doesn’t hurt if you have seen some of the Tekkeman Blade series, or even Tekkaman Knight(the original title), but there is still a good amount of action and fun to make most anime fans hungry.

Friday, June 22, 2012

MISC. MANGA, *Cutewendy

Like so many webcomics for American otaku like Megatokyo and Sinfest, Cutewendy manages to makes its mark too.

Apparently on offshoot of another comic called Wendy Comic(sometimes printed in Radio Comix's Mangaphile)this tells the story of a similar girl called Wendy, and her nameless lesbian sidekick as the deal with life in an ever-changing comic strip enviroment, much to the up-and-down nature of their creartor, Josh Lesnick, here played by himself. Wendy and her other co-horts, Xerox Guy and Donkey Kong, contend with rapping nuns, Utena ripoffs, and even Skeletor!

This comic was later spun off into another series, Girly. Be sure to check out this hysterically funny Collection Of Perfection trade paperback edition. If you thought Excel Saga was crazy, then you ain’t read nothing yet!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

JESI THE GENIE, *Part 2: Page 5

Story by Jer Alford. Art by Ariel Levya.

MISC. MANGA, *Welcome To Lodoss Island

For those who have seen the Record Of Lodoss War TV series, you might remember the little bonus bits at the end of each episode of Welcome To Lodoss Island where the cast was redone in superdeformed mode, also known as chibi form. In this manga though, the whole original tale of Lodoss War is redone in a comical parody by the series creator, Ryo Mizuno.

In the first volume, the first half of the OVA series is redone telling how the inept knight wannabe Parn and his friends seek to bring down the chaotic plans of the troublemaking witch Karla. She has taken over the body of a gorgeous priestess, and the dwarf Ghim and his sorcerer friend Slayn wish to free her from the deceased witch’s control. Running into the farcical King Kashew, Parn teams up with him in an effort to rescue the fair Princess Fiana, who falls head over heels for Parn’s stout priest friend Etoh. In the end, a major battle goes on between Lodoss and their neighboring island of Marmo. But Karla’s plans to involve both kingdoms fails, and Ghim’s friend is freed from her. The second volume takes place two yeara later where Parn and Deedlit head off to King Kashew’s kingdom, only to find it involved in a civil war with a neighboring tribe who are using a powerful efreet to try and take over the desert. Deedlit makes a pact with a powerful djinn to stop them. There are some serious bits of people dying in this chapter, but still done in a spoofish manner.

Welcome To Lodoss Island is hysterical, but mostly intended for the enjoyment of those who have already sampled one of the previous Lodoss anime or manga titles. Artist Rei Hyakuyashiki does great work at making our favorite fantasy heroes look stupid and clutzy. Definately look it up!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

JESI THE GENIE, *Part 2: Page 4

Story by Jer Alford. Art by Ariel Levya.

MISC. MANGA, *Death: At Death's Door

After other US comics have failed to be made into a decent manga, Jill Thompson finally succeeds with this little “midqual” to the DC Comics/Vertigo Sandman universe.

In the world of the Dreaming, Dream is given the keys to Hell after Lucifer decides to retire from torturing the damned. Dream now has every other divine being coming to him bidding for the keys. Meanwhile, his sisters Death, Delirium, and Dispair have their hands full dealing with all the lost souls who were cast out of Hell now that its temporarily closed for business. So they’re all crashing at a big party at Death’s joint. Dream resolves the issue of who is Hell’s new grand poobah, and life(or really the afterlife)returns to normal for Death.

This is probably the best chapter in the Sandman storyline, mostly because its real fun and gives a whole new flavor to the supporting.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

MISC. MANGA, *Sinfest

This hysterical online comic strip is collected in printed format from Dark Horse Comics, although originally through Muse Works. Creator Tatsuya Ishida, whose previous work was on one of the American comics of Godzilla, and other indy comics like Strangelove and Zen: Intergalactic Ninja, started this out at a UCLA newspaper, and then a webcomic through Keenspot. After breaking away from Keenspot, he met with bigger success self-publishing it.

A young man named Slick wants to sell his soul for money, fame, power, babes, etc. Although, the Devil usually puts him on hold alot as he’s constantly at odds with God who only appears with his hands while puting on puppet shows in the sky or thumb wrestling the Chinese Dragon. To bide his time until his application to Satan goes through, Slick tries to be a pimp, and sometimes a coffee house beatnik. All this while trying to win the affections of the dropdead gorgeous poet babe Monique.

If you loved the original Bloom County comic and are at least a part-time anime fan, then this one you can’t pass up.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

MISC. MANGA, *Same Difference And Other Stories

I thoroughly enjoyed this one-shot graphic novel when I picked it up a few years ago. It’s a collection of short comic stories by Derik Kirk Kim, who also did Good As Lily, and has had work featured in Flight.

In this, Simon is a Korean-American who takes his friend Nancy back to his home town in search of a guy she’s been secretly swapping love letters with although she’s never met him. After learning the truth of who he really is, Nancy gets to nervous to approach him, plus Simon runs into his old schoolmate who had a crush on him, but he could never tell her how he felt about her because he was embarrassed of her being blind. This plus some really funny short comics from the Small Stories webcomic.

If your a fan of anime, or just funny romance comics, then this should make you laugh, and maybe even cry. This was first printed through Alternative Comics, and was later reprinted by Top Shelf Books.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

MISC. MANGA, *Guardian Angel Getten

Probably seems like yet another in the library of "magical girlfriend" manga, Minene Sakurano managed to pull off a fair attempt at the genre.

Tasuke recieves an ancient Chinese ring in the mail from his archeologist father. In it lies the beautiful moon guardian Shaolin, who after being accidently summonned by Tasuke declares herself to be his willing slave and protector. Shao can summon up various spirits to perform all her tasks and protect her master. Trying to introduce her to Tasuke’s schoolmates prooves a little challenging, and various rivals keep showing up to try and win Shao’s affections too. Plus, the arrival of the sun guardian Ruuan just adds even more problems to the mix.

Also known as Mamotte Shugogetten or Heavenly Moon Guardian, this manga is a pretty good clone of I Dream Of Jeannie and should appeal to fans of stories with an otherworldy girlfriend as the main character. Be sure to look into the anime TV & OVA series too!

JESI THE GENIE, *Part 2: Page 3

Story by Jer Alford. Art by Ariel Levya.

Monday, June 11, 2012

OBSCURE O.V.A.S, *Mazinkaiser SKL

It's a shame not every American otaku is familiar with the awesomeness that is Mazinger Z(also known as Tranzor Z). It was one of the very first "Super Robot" shows from the 70s, and has spun off more anime and manga than nearly any other titles. This included the Mazinkaiser OVA series which was released in English, and then Mazinkaiser SKL, which was an OVA, a digital manga, and a series of novels. Go Nagai's saga of giant robot gods and devils continues in this 3-episode anime.

Set on Monster Island, the headquarters of Mazinkaiser villain Dr. Hell, three armies have emerged here, and each with their own giant robot militia. All off them have been battling for dominance of the island, and have been sealed off the by rest of the world by a large forcefield called the Gravity Curtain. However, the Curtain is about to go critical, and threatens to destroy the world's gravity belt. So, the government sends in their own special team called the Skull Force to shutdown the reactors at each of the main base of each army. Their two top mecha pilots, Ken and Ryo(not the dudes from Street Fighter!)go their in a modified two-seater version of the Mazinkaiser robot, which was the prototype of the original Mazinger Z. Ken is a master swordsman who thrills in actually leaving the mecha to have face-to-face duels, and Ryo is a gun expert that translates to Mazinkaiser with it literally using gun-fu! Their mission is to the stop the reactor at each army's base before they blow. The armies are the Aira Army which are a tribe of scantily-clad psychic amazons, the savage Kiba Army, and the evil Garan Army. Kiba's forces are defeated in the first episode, and then the Skull Force launches an assault on Garan's fortress. Garan himself looses to Ryo and Ken, but a revived Kiba shows up to fight them as the reactor is about to blow. They stop Kiba by shoving his mecha right into the explosion, which halts the destruction of the island.

Mazinkaiser SKL is a truly action-driven OVA. There's some dynamite giant robot battles, and easily has two of the best hotblooded mecha pilots in anime. It scores some serious fan service which your average Gurren Lagaan disciple will find appealing. My only real complaint was that the English dub has some serious miscasting and lackluster dialogue. Make sure to watch this the next time your planning on having a big Super Robot Wars tournament!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

MISC. MANGA, *Sushi Girl

One of Tokyo Pop’s very first original titles was this American anime-styled comic that came out back when they were still called Mixx Entertainment. The first half of is was printed up in Tokyo Pop’s Smile Magazine, and then reprinted in a small paperback along with the rest of the story. It was concieved by Tokyo Pop head Stu Levy, but written and drawn by Tavicat, otherwise known as Tavisha Wolfgarth and Rikki Simons(the voice of Gir from Invader Zim).

Taking place about 2 centuries after yet another futuristic apocalypse, the world is divided into several sections. One is an area made of sticks, sort like the boonies, and fresh young happy-go-lucky pink-haired girl Kemmy leaves the sticks to the mega-mall city on the other side of the planet where everything is traded through a system based on karma. The more good karma you have, the better you are. Kemmy hopes to be an “OperaRap” star, but doesn’t have any good karma in this brave new world. However, she manages to stop a rampaging bunch of wild zoo animals with her mad bunny board(flying-scooter)skills. She then gets hired by a talking purple moose to be a delivery girl for a sushi shop. Kemmy and her fellow co-workers try to form their own rock band too, although the jealous snobby neerdowell, Olivia Neutron Bomb, sabotages their premiere concert. Kemmy uses her good karma and natural singing talent to save the day though, only to be asked to become a secret agent by her boss.

Sushi Girl is a pretty good comic. It’s got some great colorful visuals that Tavicat employed impressive 3D graphics for, which they also used on their original comic of Reality Check(which is unfortunately left out of the Tokyo Pop reprint). The story is good too, although the first half seems a little more fluid than the second half. Whether this had something to do with the initial magazine release of the first half is unknown. The comic was later redone as a light novel for younger readers called Karma Club by Stu Levy. There was going to be an animated series based on Karma Club a few years ago, but so far nothing on that. Still, Sushi Girl is one of the more delightful little “Ameri-manga” titles to come out, and its worth tracking down a copy of the paperback for your library.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

MISC. MANGA, *Bomber Girl

This short-lived series by Niwano Makoto(writer for Deltora Quest)that ran through Raijin Comics back when it was a weekly magazine is collected in this single volume.

In mid-21st Century Tokyo, Rashomon Emi(aka: “Bomber Girl”)is a busty kickass bounty huntress. With her special array of teleporting weapons, her boss wheels, and her flashy way of trashing the bad guys, wins her rep as a force to be dealt with. Especially her way of making her clients pay up in triplicate after she saves them. The terrorist group of Megalith is royally ticked at they way Rashomon always kicks their butts. Now, Rashomon has moved next door the hunky Kurosaki, who is her main competition on the police force. She then gets a sidekick in Fly Girl, the sexy Megalith defective. Kurosaki learns that one of the major players in Megalith is the one who killed his brother years ago. This leads to a major battle with him, and the Megalith’s boss, Master Zayin.

Bomber Girl is a rollar coaster ride of a fun action manga, and will be sure to please any anime fan who found Burn Up W or Gunsmith Cats too boring!

JESI THE GENIE, *Part 2: Page 2

Story by Jer Alford. Art by Ariel Levya.