Sunday, January 27, 2013

MISC. MANGA, *Sharknife

Taking into account the genre-crossing that Scott Pilgrim pulled of by bringing together elements of video games, anime, manga, and American comics, Sharknife is a bad-ass kung-fu superhero for the Nintendo generation! Think, Viewtiful Joe meets Kung-Pow: Enter The Fist. Creator Corey Lewis has worked on projects like this before with the American comic adaptation of the Rival Schools game, or his own comic of Peng.

Gung-ho busboy Caesar Hallelujah works at the Guangdong Factory which is a multi-layered restaurant that is constantly being attacked by his adopted brother Ombra Ravenga who keeps sending wave after wave of "monster-of-the-week" to topple the competition. Win evil monsters show up, Caesar gets a fortune cookie from his sexy fly love interest Chieko, and transforms into the superhero Sharknife to stop the daily terror. Caesar was granted his power by a strange ancient shark god, while Ombra was also given the powers of an orca. Once Caesar eventually defeats a hundred monsters, he is given the powers of Double Z, although Ombra uses this power to level up too.

This is a profoundly unexpected surprise for otaku and video games alike. The story is engaging enough, even though it has a bunch of stereotypes thrown in that actually make it work. You'll catch some crossing over with Lewis' Peng comic too as both stories take place in the same universe. BTW, there are two versions of the first volume, the second one is a reprint titled Stage First features additional material, including stuff from Oni Press' Free Comic Book Day specials. If Street Fighter consumed your Saturday nights as a teen, then you will be all fired up for this one!

ANI-MOVIES, *Golgo 13: The Professional

Probably the best action-crime anime movies ever done is this, the first animated outlet for one of the longest running(and still is!)manga titles ever, Golgo 13. The manga is about Duke Togo(aka: Golgo 13), who is pretty much the world's greatest assassin-for-hire. Prior to this 1983 movie, there was a live-action one from the 70s starring Sonny Chiba as Golgo.

The Professional sees Golgo hired to take out the son of a gazillionaire oil dealer, Leonard Dawson, who was going to inherit the business from his father just as Golgo kills him. Dawson then sets out to terminate Golgo for the death of his son. He sends out everything from the mafia, the CIA, the U.S. military, and inhuman killers to do it. Having survived ambushes, insane car chases, and nearly entire cities blown up around him, Golgo eventually makes his way to Dawson's skyscraper stronghold. He tangles with a duo of cold-blooded murders(whose backstory is almost its own movie), and then crosses the freakish Snake. Dawson gets his in the end, but in the most over-the-top anime fashion.

The movie was directed by anime pioneer Osamu Dezaki, whose prior works included Astro Boy, Lupin, and Space Adventure Cobra. His vision turns this film into a gritty, almost grindhouse-like action flick. There's some amazing animation in it for its time, and if you're just a fan of great splatterific films like The Transporter or Dirty Harry, this is totally one you gotta look up. The movie was on VHS by Streamline Pictures in the 90s, and is now on DVD through Urban Vision. This was followed by an OVA one-shot titled Golgo 13: Queen Bee, and was recently turned into an anime TV series.

Friday, January 25, 2013

ANI-MOVIES, *Batman: Gotham Knight

While Marvel had its own various "anime" TV series, the Caped Crusader beat them to the punch by a few years. Granted, anime-styled features like The Animatrix have come out before this, but Batman: Gotham Knight(which was the third DC Universe animated movie)acted like Dark Fury and Clone Wars which bridges the gap between two chapters of a franchise. It's supposed to happen after Batman Begin, and just before The Dark Knight, although it doesn't 100% fit into the given continuity of both films.

This movie is broken up into six segments, each one directed by an actual Japanese anime director. The first one shows some kids each telling their own version of running into Batman. Second has two Gotham City cops running into a gang war. Next is a very bishounen-looking Bruce Wayne donning a costume strait out of Gatchaman to test his own personal forcefield. Following that is a slight 2-parter of sorts where Batman heads into the sewers to take on Scarecrow and their own version of Killer Croc, which later has Bruce Wayne flashing back to when he was travelling the world and training. In the finale, Batman clashes with the sniper-for-hire, Deadshot.

Gotham Knight has some great comics writing from Brian Azzrello, Greg Rucka, and Bruce Timm. Some of the anime studios behind it were Production I.G.(Ghost In The Shell) and Madhouse(Vampire Hunter D). There is some very fine animation in this movie, and mostly worth getting for that alone. It's also bound to satisfy the average Bat-fan. The only real drawbacks to it are like the previous DC Universe movies is that it was too short. I felt they could've added some more to each of the chapters, or at least maybe left out some of the chapters while making the others longer. It gives a good insight into the way the citizens of Gotham each view having a masked vigilante in their town, while at the same time showing how it is for Bruce Wayne to be Batman. It isn't necassary to see this in order to enjoy any of the Christopher Nolan trilogy, but you'd still have a thrillride at Bat-Time!

Dammit Krillan! You said there's be cosplay sluts here!

ANI-MOVIES, *Lupin The 3rd: Castle Of Cagliostro

One of the very first anime TV series to get it's own theatrical spinoff was Lupin The Third(or Lupin III). Although this was the third film of anime's favorite thief(the second one to be animated)it is considered to be the best feature ever of him, mostly due to the fact it was directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

Lupin and his partner Jigen begin pulling off a daring casino heist, but realize all the bills they stole are counterfiet. So they decide to go to the source of the funny money, an un-named small European country run by the devious Count Cagliostro. When they arrive, Lupin rescues a teenage girl from some hoods, although she goes with them in order to keep him safe. Lupin learn that she is the Princess Clarisse who is betrothed to the Count, although he's only doing it to find an ancient buried royal treasure. So, Lupin plans to get her from the Count's castle, by calling in Goemon, and then sneaking into the castle disguised as Zenigata who's arrived with his own Interpol squad. Once there, Lupin is sent down into the castle's dungeon, along eventually with Zenigata, although they both escape, but Lupin ends up getting shot. Thinking that Lupin is dead, Cagliostro goes on with his wedding, but Lupin & Co.(along with Fujiko)crash the party. Lupin and Cagliostro have a swashbuckling duel, which leads to the reveal that the lost treasure which is actually a sunken Roman city. Lupin then heads for the hills with the Zenigata Force in hot pursuit.

Cagliostro has been viewed by many as a true anime icon. This was in fact Miyazaki's very first animated movie that he worked on prior to him forming Studio Ghibli. It has exceptionally detailed animation, plus some wonderfully original action sequences, such as elaborate fight in the clocktower, and the best non-Speed Racer car chase of the 70s. There have been two releases of this movie in America. The first was in the 90s on dubbed VHS by Streamline Pictures, and the other was on DVD a few years ago from Manga Entertainment. I'd personally say that the Streamline dub had better casting and dialogue, but the Manga version has a Japanese track and better quality. Oh, and you old school arcade kings might recognize some of the footage from this which was used for the laserdisc video game, Cliff Hanger!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

JESI THE GENIE, *Part 8: Page 7

Story by Jer Alford. Art by Serena Paccagani.

ANI-MOVIES, *The Last Unicorn

Probably one of the most cherished non-Disney animated family movies from the last century, The Last Unicorn was based on the book of the same name by Peter S. Beagle. This was one of the few theatrical movies produced by Jules Bass and Aurthur Rankin Jr., better known as Rankin/Bass, the creators of nearly every Christmas holiday TV special, and other hit shows like Thundercats and Silverhawks.

Set sometime during the middle ages, a unicorn discovers from a passing butterfly that she is the only one left in the world. She leaves her forest in search of them, but gets captured by a witch for her travelling carnival. The unicorn is set free by the novice magician Schmendrick. Along the way, they are accompanied by the ex-bandit wench Molly Grue. The trio make their way to realm of King Haggard where the other unicorns are supposed to be. Once there, Haggard's menacing Red Bull appears to drive the unicorn into the sea. In order to protect her, Schmendrick taps into his true magic and turns the unicorn into a human female, which makes the Red Bull give up on her. Our heroes then enter into Haggard's castle under the guise of looking for work, with Schmendrick claiming that the now-human unicorn is his niece, Amalthea. Schmendrick keeps Haggard entertained, while Molly searches for a way into the Red Bull's lair which is supposed to lead to the missing unicorns. Haggard's son Lir has meanwhile has fallen in love with Amalthea, believing her to be just a beautiful girl, while at the same time Amalthea is growing fond of him and growing to forget her former life as a unicorn. Molly and Schmendrick eventually find the secret entrance, and with Alamathea and Lir into tow, they confront the Red Bull. Amalthea is changed back into a human, who because of her newfound human feelings is able to defeat the Red Bull and free all the unicorns that were trapped in the sea. Amalthea the unicorn then heads back for her forest, with Schmendrick and Molly apparently hooking up together in the end.

This film features some of the best animation by the Rankin/Bass group since their animated version of The Hobbit. The studio responsible for most of the actual animation though was Topcraft, whose work also includes the anime movie Nausicaa. The character designs are very unique and original too. The movie features an odd assortment of voice actors, like Mia Farrow doing a wonderful job as the unicorn, Christopher Lee as the mad Haggard, Alan Arkin as indifferent Schmendrick, and Rene Auberjonois steals his scene as a laughing skeleton. There have been two DVD releases of this movie, the original, and the 25th Anniversary Edition which has way better quality. If you haven't seen this yet, treat yourself to a truly epic animated fantasy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ANI-MOVIES, *Blood: The Last Vampire

For anyone who is sick to the fangs of all the bishonen vampire crap that Twilight kept shoving down your pipe, then get a load of this is a teenage darkstalker who would have them all crying for their mamas, Blood-The Last Vampire. While there was a British live-action movie based on it not real long ago, the first one from 2000 is considered a genre-forging classic, which helped begin the new millenium's anime vampire craze.

Taking place in just before the Vietnam War, Saya is a pouty-lipped teenage hunter of chiropterans, a rare race of bat-like monsters that can assume human form. Whether or not the chiropterans are supposed to be genuine vampires is never fully explored. Saya works with a secret orginization with the mission of killing off these bloodsuckers, and disguises herself as a student at a school on a American air base in Japan to look for three chiropterans. Saya sniffs out two of them, and manages to take save a school doctor from them. However, a crossdressing chiropteran shows up for a showdown after Saya finally gets a working katana from her cheapass commander. Saya then stops the monster from escaping by cutting him as apparently the only real way to destroy them is by cutting all the blood out of them.

This story from this somewhat short feature-length movie continued into a one-shot manga, three light novels, and a Playstation game. There was of course a made-for-television anime remake called Blood+ which achieved some success on Adult Swim, plus the extended live-action film. The original movie though was groundbreaking for its time, mostly because of the graphic nature of it which up until that point was pretty gory for an anime. Another was because it was one of the first anime movies that implemented some serious 3D animation in it. Prior to that, digital effects weren't combined into the overall feature as much as traditional cel animation in most productions. It's still visually superb even by today's technical standards, and probably the best non-Vampire Hunter D anime horror movie ever done.

Am I the only one around here who cares about Instrumentality?

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Speed Racer ain't got nuthin' on this one! Animatrix director Takeshi Koike spent a good seven freakin' years putting this movie together, which was done entirely in hand-drawn animation using over 100,000 drawings in its production. It was a staggeringly dedicated task put forth in today's totally digital world using mostly CGI animation.

Set way in the future, JP is an underdog racer in the highly dangerous world of intergalactic car races. After crashing in the preliminary Yellowline race, he luckily gets into the prestige Redline race which is the Indy 500 of the universe. This race is taking place on Roboworld run by a fascist government of cyborg pricks. They don't want these Wacky Racers rejects on their planet, mostly because it might reveal a lot of their military secrets exposed to the public. JP hopes to woo fellow racer Sonoshee, who is someone he's admired since he was a kid, but this keeps him distracted from his double-dealing mechanic Frisbee who is making deals with the mob to rig the race. The big race finally happens, and the big contender, Machinehead, leads the pack, along with several other colorful racers(most of which they only briefly touch on as far as their backstories). Roboworld's military pulls out all the stops(aside from a freakin' blockade!), including particle beam satellites and a giant bioweapon named Funky Boy, that is like an out of control pure energy version of Tetsuo from Akira when he got all bloated. It takes one of the Roboworld's generals to merge with another bioweapon to try and stop Funky Boy, but the movie just leaves off as their big kaiju fight begins. Without giving away the ending, the winner(s) is/are pretty obvious, but the final stretch to the end is nailbiting!

What this movie lacks a little in as far as story is concerned(specifically the unresolved characters' story arcs), it completely makes up for in style and animation. Madhouse comes through again with a real trailblazer. There was a short "pilot" movie that came out about four years prior that was just a excellent, and available on the American release as a bonus. Do yourself a big favor and get the Blu-Ray to get the full visual splendor. It's almost impossible not to dig the living hell out of this high-octane thrill-fest!

JESI THE GENIE, *Part 8: Page 6

Story by Jer Alford. Art by Serena Paccagani.

ANI-MOVIES, *Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker

Probably one of the best of the made-for-video animated Batflicks(Mask Of The Phantasm was a theatrical release), Return Of The Joker was the only movie of Batman Beyond, which also acted as a kind of finale to the series.

Set sometime after Season 3 of the show, a remaining group of the Jokerz(a street gang enspired by the Joker)has been working with a criminal claiming to be the original Joker. Meanwhile, the elderly Bruce Wayne has regained control of his family's business, but Joker & Co. crash his big party. Luckily, Batman 2.0(aka: Terry McGinnis)is on hand to stop them. The return of his old nemesis forces Bruce to take away the Batsuit from Terry. That doesn't stop the Jokerz from hunting down him down while Joker busts into the Batcave and nearly kills Bruce. Barbara Gordon fills Terry in on the demise of the first Joker from back in her Batgirl days when Tim Drake(the second Robin)was kidnapped and tortured by the Joker, which caused Tim to shoot him. Terry suspects Tim has some connection to the new Joker, mainly because of his current expertise as a satellite engineer, and the Joker's been stealing lots of computer parts used to control satellites. Joker uses an orbiting particle-beam satellite to shoot down the Batmobile, and wrecking half of Gotham in the process! Batman arrives at the Joker's hideout, and is stunned to find out that Tim Drake is really the Joker who the original one had planted some of his DNA inside him when he was Robin. Thankfully, Terry is successful in freeing Tim from the Joker's control, and stops the satellite laser.

This was a triumph for Warner Bros. video animation, which later helped set the stage for the current DC Universe line of films. It was also alot more mature then the previous DC Comics animated outlets up until then, so much so that there is a unrated version of this film that's much more worth owning. The animation is also profoundly upgraded. Batman Beyond was already heavily influenced by cyberpunk anime like Akira and Bubblegum Crisis, but it really shows up alot more here than in the TV series, especially in the shots involving the space laser destroying the city. The TV series also occasionally suffered from a lack of decent writing, but this movie was a profound boost in that and making it a true Batman story more with mystery and intrigue. There's also better development with the characters, more so with the original Batman characters than the Beyond ones. This is a must for all Batfans, even ones who didn't watch BB.

Spider-Man on Japan

ANI-MOVIE, *Neo Tokyo

There's a small percentage of anime movies that are anthologies made up of short stories. Some like Batman: Gotham Knight and The Animatrix are set in the same storyline, while others like Robot Carnival are set to a certain theme. This movie was a trio of sci-fi/fantasy tales done by some of the best anime directors in the biz. Originally titled Manie-Manie(or Labyrinth Tales)in Japan, it was released in America as Neo Tokyo because Katsuhiro Otomo who had created the hit Akira was one of the contributors on it, and the idea was to make people think that this film has some connection to it by naming it after the city Akira takes place in.

The first chapter was directed by Rintaro(Metropolis)in the vein of Alice In Wonderland featuring a young boy and his cat going to scary circus with creepy clowns. This story actually comes around at the end as a bookend to the trilogy. The second part is The Running Man by Yoshiaki Kawajiri(Ninja Scroll)about a race car driver in the future who during his last race suddenly gains psychic powers, and runs across the souls of every racer that died in one of his races. The last one is by Otomo called Construction Cancellation Order, where a large corporation sends one of its office drones to deal with a giant construction project in the South American jungle where the facility is run entirely by robots. He comes to realize that the robots have gone mad, and tries to sabotage their efforts which involves revitalizing the enviroment.

All the stories were based on the works by Japanese sci-fi writer Taku Mayumura, who has mainly dealt in space operas. This movie was first released in America on dubbed VHS by Streamline Pictures, and then later on DVD by ADV Films which kept the original Streamline dub. It's biggest claim to fame in America is that The Running Man segment played on MTV's Liquid Television during the 90s. It's a movie that's been praised more for its artistic value, similar to films like Tekkonkinkreet and Perfect Blue, but its still very entertaining and packed somes of the best visuals in an anime production. Watch it at least to get a little culture into your otaku catalog.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

JESI THE GENIE, *Part 8: Page 5

Story by Jer Alford. Art by Serena Paccagani.

ANI-MOVIES, *Steamboy

Katsuhiro Otomo decided to go from cyberpunk with Akira to steampunk in this adventurous epic. The movie had the mild cost of over 25 million dollars, and was in production for well over a decade. Even though it didn't really make the kind of impact that Otomo's previous works did, it is still a compelling film.

Set in the 1860s, Ray Steam(yes, his last name is Steam!)is the prodigal son of the steamologist, Edward. Edward and his genius father Lloyd have spent the last few years developing a highly compressed form of energy in a containment called a Steamball. Lloyd sends it to Ray for safe keeping from the conniving O'Hara Foundation, of which Edward has alligned himself with. Ray eventually gets kidnapped by the O'Hara thugs, and confront his father, along with the very bratty Scarlett O'Hara. He makes of with the Steamball, and tries to seek help from Edward's rival, Robert Stephenson(based on the actual scientist). However, Stephenson wants to use it to fight Edward and the O'Hara Foundation who have created a giant steam-powered flying fortress called the Steam Castle. The castle begins to assualt London during the Great Exhibition, which leads to some great battle sequences between the O'Hara and Stephenson forces, with steam-powered tanks, battlesuits, airplanes, and submarines. Ray uses the Steamball to create a portable rocket, and flies into the castle to stop his father, and rescue Lloyd and Scarlett. Ray gets Scarlett away before the castle eventually falls, although both Lloyd and Edward apparently surivived according to the montage during the closing credits.

Steamboy is one of the shining examples of steampunk's influence on anime, more so than some Miyazaki movies like Howl's Moving Castle. It incorporates some of the best from the genre including the outlandish 19th Century technology and the bounding spirit found in the works of Mark Twain and Jules Verne. Now, the major faults with that though are it spends too much time debating on the morals of science and what it should be used for. The time they waste showing Lloyd and Edward arguing over philosophy alone would've taken at least thirty minutes off the movie. The other problem is that it's a little longer than necessary, and seems like it seriously lost alot of its direction during the last act. It does however leave a bold mark in the annuals of animation, and worth checking out at least for some exhilirating visuals. Very recommended for fans of children's literature

Sunday, January 13, 2013

JESI THE GENIE, *Part 8: Page 4

Story by Jer Alford. Art by Serena Paccagani.

ANI-MOVIES, *Monster Vs. Aliens

I didn't get around to watching this when it first came out in theatres, but was suprised at how good it was when I checked out the DVD. Dreamworks(creators of Shrek and Kung Fu Panda)did this as a comedic homage to the monster movies of the 50s.

Starting out, Susan was a blushing bride about to be married to her shallow weatherman boyfriend Derek, but a meteorite chrashes near her and dowses her with an outer space radiation called quantonium. She is then transformed into a white-haired giantess, and immeadiately accosted by the military, who apparently were expecting a giant to be there at the crashsite in the first place because they had large hypodermic needles to put her to sleep with. Susan wakes up in the secret government facility of Area 52 which houses other kinds of "monsters". The team consists of Bob the blob, the amphibious Missing Link, the insectoid mad scientist Dr. Cockroach, and the tremendous kaiju Insectosaurus. Things seem miserable for Susan(now called Ginormica), but the evil alien overlord Gallaxhar shows up in his starship and launches a giant robot loose on San Francisco. So the monsters are sent to stop the robot in exchange for their freedom. After an epic battle that wrecks the Golden Gate Bridge, they destroy the mecha, and Susan heads to her hometown along with her new monster buds to see her fiance. However, Derek breaks up with her, which makes Susan embrace her monsterhood. This would be nice, except that Gallaxhar kidnaps her to extract the quantonium from her to power his clone-making machine and invade Earth. Bob, Link, and Cockroach board the ship and find Susan who is now normal size after having the radiation sucked out of her. They manages to destroy the ship's computer, and Susan confronts Gallaxhar, which gets her cosmic mojo again, turning her back into a giant. They escape on Insectosaurus who is now a gargantuan butterfly. The monsters then agree to continue working with the military to defend Earth against other threats.

M.V.A. was a very enjoyable movie. The 3-D is applied wonderfully, unlike some other animated films. The story pays great attention to the Silver Age schlock creature features, both the stereotypical monster ones and flying saucer flicks. The casting was fine, although it was a little overboard with Stephen Colbert at the President, and they could've just had John DiMaggio doing the voice of Keifer Sutherland's character, General Monger. Like in most Dreamworks cartoons, there is alot of pop culture subreferences, although one of the genuinely good ones is the DDR session. There's already been an OVA prequal called BOB's Big Break, and a Halloween TV special, but knowing Dreamworks there's probably gonna be an actual movie sequal too. Definately seek out this monster mash!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Where as alot of anime movies are connected to a TV series, Ah My Goddess is signifigant as it was a direct sequal to the original OVA series from the 90s, which in America was called Oh My Goddess. Although the film included a few elements from the manga as well, this actually came out a few years before the TV remake.

Set around sometime after the end of the 5-episode OVA, Keichi is still living with the goddess Belldandy, and her sisters Urd and Skuld. Belldandy is visited by her old teacher Celestin, who was unknown to her imprisioned on the moon for rebelling against the gods when she was young. Celestin was released by the fairy princess Morgan Le Fay(from the Arthurian legend)to try and gain access to the Yggdrasil system that Heaven uses to control Earth. Celestin infects Belldandy with a virus that makes her forget everything that happened to her from when she first came to Earth and met Keichi. Urd and Skuld try using a vaccine to cure her and give back her memories, but this causes the Yggdrasil system to crash, and Celestin takes over Keichi's body. With Morgan, Celestin nearly succeeds, but Belldandy regains her memories and frees Keichi of his control. The three goddesses then bring their powers together to heal Yggdrasil, and set everything right again.

This film was very well executed. It had a solid story, a decent plot, and unlike alot of anime movies that spinoff from a series, it actually tied into the original in an exceptional way. It was directed by Hiroaki Godha, who went on to do the Ah My Goddess TV series which retold most of the story from OVA. You can enjoy this movie even if you're only briefly familar with the characters. Weirdly enough, you can see this as sequal to both the TV and OVA series. The astounding digital animation that was used(for in 2000)is still remarkable by today's standards. Even though there's a little less of the comedic factor that usually follows an AMG title, its a very entertaining shojo comedy.

JESI THE GENIE, *Part 8: Page 3

Story by Jer Alford. Art by Serena Paccagani.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

ANI-MOVIES, *Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

Power Girl beeeewbs! ("ahem") The superhero version of Lethal Weapon flies off in its own movie. Long time amigos Supes and Bats have partnered up in their own comic before titled World's Finest, but over the last few years they've had a different comic called Superman/Batman. The series started out with a story arc where our caped cohorts team up to stop the newly-elected President Lex Luthor from framing them while an asteroid is threatening to destroy the Earth. That became the basis for this superhero slugfest!

Lex Luthor wins the presidency despite how many people know he's a supervillain, and cons a couple of unrelated heroes to work for him lead by Captain Atom. He then learns that an oncoming asteroid made of pure Kryptonite is gonna crash into the planet via Armageddon. Lex tries to convince Superman to stop it, although he turns it into an attempt to kill him with Metallo. Batman rescues him and escapes to the Batcave. Luthor then reports on live TV that Superman killed Metallo, and puts a billion smackers on his head. While trying to solve the mystery of what really happened to Metallo, B&S run across about half the villains in town trying to get their bounty, only to be rescued by Captain Atom and his Luthor-run hero crew. Captain Atom tries to arrest our heroes, but Batman & Superman make off with Power Girl, when Batman realizes it was the villain/hero Major Force who offed Metallo. They then make their way to Luthor's secret crib where they clash with Captain Marvel and Hawkman, but manage to trick Luthor into revealing his plan to letting the asteroid destroy all the life on Earth. Apparently, LL has been taking Kryptonite enimas to make himself deadly to Superman, but it's been making him crazy-as-hell. The World's Finest then scoot to Japan to get help from the young inventor/billionaire Toyman(not the evil one)who builds a giant Composite-Superman rocket-robot to stop the asteroid. However, Luthor shows up in a tacky armored-suit to fight Superman while Bats flies the rocket and blows up the asteroid with no nasty effects to the Earth's atmosphere. Luthor is then kicked out of office by his former superhero hit squad, and Superman is cleared of murder charges.

This movie took a different turn as far as the character designs than the regular DC Universe animated projects had. Instead of the generic style that we're accustomed to from Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited, it stuck more to the look that Edward McGuinness' artwork had in the Superman/Batman comic. There is a huge cast of random villains and heroes showing up in it, most notably: Starfire, Black Lightning, Katana, Mongul, Solomon Grundy, Killer Frost, and Grodd, even though you'll need to keep a score card for the list of villains that appear in rumble during the middle. The animation is no exception to the other great production value that was put into Green Lantern: First Flight. Again, my only real complaint is like all the DC Universe movies is that its too short. In fact, its about ten minutes shorter than most of the previous ones. Anyway, this is by far the best best "buddy cop" in capes movie ever!

JESI THE GENIE, *Part 8: Page 2

Story by Jer Alford. Art by Serena Paccagani.


Aside from The Incredibles, I try not to get too judgemental about Pixar movies. Some of them like Wall-E which have dynamic animation, and others like Toy Story have a great story but might not be as visually appealing. Up manages to bring together both of these into a wonderful experience for the whole family, as well as for animation fans.

The movie starts out with the young Carl Fredrickson who is a fan of the famous explorer, Charles Muntz, and through this befriends a hick girl named Ellie. They later on marry, and keep planning for their own expedition, but as the years go by the burdens of "real life" makes their dream go unfulfilled, and Ellie eventually dies of old age. Carl is now an old man living in his and Ellie's old dream home, which is in danger of being bought out by a large construction company. So, being a longtime balloon salesman, Carl sticks hundreds of balloons to his house and flies it to South America in the hope of leaving it on the cliff at a place called Paradise Falls. The only hiccup in this is the chubby boy scout Russell was stranded on Carl's porch when it took off, and is now along for the ride. Once in South America, they land the house on the opposite end of the plataeau that the falls are located, so Carl and Russell have to carry the house still floating by balloons to the other end like a giant parade float. They encounter an exotic flightless bird, that Russell calls Kevin, which is being chased by dogs with special collars that allow them to talk. One of the dogs is Dug who quickly befriends them. The other dogs force them to where their owner is, who turns out to be Carl's childhood hero, Muntz. He's been there this whole time ruthlessly looking for a rare bird, which is what Kevin is. Carl and Russell barely escape with Kevin's help, but Kevin gets caught by Muntz's mutts. After finally getting the house to the falls, Russell leaves Carl to go rescue Kevin. Carl eventually decides to go to by flying his house after Muntz in his giant zepplin, and despite being in probably in his 80s, Carl manages to free Kevin and Russell with Dug's help. They then hijack the zepplin and head to the States.

Up was a pure delight. It took a brave move in making a senior citizen the main hero in a family adventure animated film. The first few minutes are very endearing, and really pulls you into this journey of Carl, and ultimately what he decides to do with himself now that he's nearing the end of his life. I totally think that this is the best animated movie of the year, and a modern-day classic.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

ANI-MOVIES: The Corpse Bride

Tim Burton returned to his stop-motion greatness is this great romantic fantasy. Once again teaming up with animator Mike Johnson who he worked with on The Nightmare Before Christmas, and turned Burton's idea for a short story invoving necrophilia into an enjoyable family feature.

Taking place in Victorian era England, the worried young Victor is engaged to the very ladylike a Victoria(a joke on Victor/Victoria), but is having trouble remembering his vows. After dropping his engagement ring in the woods, he unintentionally resurrects Emily, the corpse of a bride who was killed on her wedding night. She takes him to the underworld where he learns her sad tale. Victor manages to talk her into taking him topside by a magic potion, and tells Victoria what happened, but Emily spitefully returns him to back to the land of the dead. Meanwhile, Victoria's parents believe Victor has ditched her, so they promise her hand to the aristocratic Lord Barkis, who really intends to kill and take her fortune, although he's unaware that Victoria's family was really marrying her to Victor for his family's money. Victor himself hears of Victoria's new fiance via one of his old coachmen who recently died of a bad cough. This causes Victor to consent to marrying Emily, but they decide to take their wedding upstairs to the land of the living. After an initial shock by most of the townspeople who think that's its a typical zombie holocaust, they realize that the dead are just there for the wedding. Victoria makes her way to the chapel, and Emily notices her just before Victor is willingly going to drink poison to join Emily in holy matrimony. Emily decides to let Victor marry Victoria instead, but Lord Barkis shows up and Emily recognizes him as the man who killed her. He unwittingly drinks the poison though, and the dead guests drag him back to the underworld. Emily then drifts peacefully off into the afterlife, leaving Victor and Victoria to live happily ever after.

When this movie first came out, I liked it but quickly forgot about it because of how much more entertaining I found the Wallace & Gromit movie(another stop-motion movie)at the time which came out a few weeks later. It wasn't until I rented it again a few years later that I grew to appreciate it more. It's got a bittersweet story to it done to gothic background. There's some fine humor in it, along with a few slightly unecessary but still welcome musical numbers. I especially loved the outlandish character designs and dark backgrounds, and how much more livelier they made the world of the dead seem from the world of the living. I highly recommend this as a movie to show at either Halloween or Valentines, an definately one for your video library.

2013: Year of the Snake