Monday, April 29, 2013

Giant Monsters: Gotta catch 'em all!

ANI-MOVIES, *Iron Man: Rise Of Technovore

After the somewhat successful run of the anime series on what was once G4, Marvel decided to make another production of the Armored Avenger, but this one seems to tie into the Iron Man/Avengers live-action movie franchise. The Marvel Anime lineup included Iron Man, Wolverine, X-Men, and Blade, which were more or less all in the same continuity. Although this particular movie could be completely removed from that established "universe", even though it does hint at other Marvel incarnations like Asgard and the Savage Land. It was animated by Madhouse, who also handled the other Marvel anime series, as well as a few other original Marvel animation movies like Planet Hulk. So at least you know Marvel was off to a good start with this production.

Tony Stark(aka: Iron Man)is unveiling his new satellite named the Howard which is supposed to provide recon for the entire world warning of any threats as they surface. However, Ezekiel Stane, son Obadiah(aka: Iron Monger), seeks to use the Howard to destroy life on Earth with his new Technovore technology. The Technovore was a one-shot creation by the supervillain group AIM in the comics, but here its the creation of Ezekiel, and is sort of like a techno-organic version of the Venom symboite from Spider-Man. After Rhodey(aka: War Machine)was injured after the attack, Tony is on the run from SHIELD while trying to unravel the identity of this new enemy. Stark rendezvous with the Punisher in the Middle East for intel on Ezekiel, but is interrupter by Black Widow and Hawkeye, which leads to a great chase between the four heroes. Iron Man finally confronts the Technovore, with all of SHIELD and War Machine having to stop this menace from wiping out all life on Earth.

The animation in this is very dynamic. It was directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki, whose previous works include Ninja Scroll and Perfect Blue, and his style really comes through, especially in most of the bombastic action sequeneces. It makes you wonder why there aren't more anime with people in armored suits(not including "magical armor). Do yourself a big favor and get the Blu-Ray to fully appreciate the total scope of the animation. Also, don't bother with any of the other language settings except for the English dub because the dialogue is way more fitting for fans of the Marvel comics and movies.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mmmmmmm. Anime Black Widow.

MISC. MANGA, *Alter Nation

Unlike some Uchronia(alternate timeline)stories, this one actually presents a timeline that is alternate to ours. Crimson writer Francisco Hagenbeck put together an impressive anime-styled adventure comic, mostly thanks to the style Deadpool artist Carlo Baberi.

Because of some meddling in the timestream from our end in modern day, another reality has formed where Germany ended up taking over all of Europe in the late 1800s, and is setting its sights on America, commanded by the gothic spindoctor, “Dark Poe”. However, leading the resistance against them is the daring adventurer Sam Clemens, voluptuous Annie Oakley, a cybernetic Billy the Kid, and the seductive Mata Hari acting as a double agent. Teddy Roosevelt shows up as the leader of a brigade of bear-riders, and to sweeten the deal even further there are militarized dinosaurs in it too.

Unfortunately, there’s no trade paperback out of the 4-issue series, but totally worth owning. There variant covers of each issue, so don't be confused it you think you're buying a separate volume of the same issue number.

Monday, April 22, 2013

He's a gorgeous bitch!

ANI-MOVIES, *The Adventures Of Mark Twain

Will Vinton, creator of the California Raisin commercials, spearheaded this claymation movie which was originally meant for children, but has been notorious over the years for its rather creepy imagery.

Mark Twain near the end of his life plans an expedition to catch up with Haley’s Comet in his custom airship, but didn’t count on three stowaways: Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Beck Thatcher(who aren’t fictional here). The inside of the airship is leads to several different short stories that Twain wrote, including the steampunk classic of Captain Stormfield.

There is some deep metaphysical and philosophic material going on here, like Twain’s duality with his dark side coming to life, and the nightmarish conversation with Satan himself. Ultimately, Vinton did a revolutionary job with this love letter to the timeless author, and is a real favorite for fans of Twain’s work.

Friday, April 19, 2013

I can see the future!

OBSCURE O.V.A.S, *Master Of Mosquiton

This 6-episode OVA was based on an offbeat manga involving monsters, aliens, and all manner of tomb raiding! It helps that it came out during the time of the OVA Golden Age.

Set during the 1920s, the ambitious teenage explorer Inaho finds the tomb of the vampire lord Mosquiton, and revives him with her blood, making her his master, along with his two elemental sidekicks. From there, Inaho sets out to find the mystical O-Part which is supposed to grant immortality. A pyramid appears in the middle of London, and Inaho & Co. investigate it in their custom jet-powered biplane. They find what they think is an O-Part, but is actually a key to activate a space bridge to the moon. It ends up in the hands of none other than Rasputin who wants to use an existing O-Part on lunar pyramid to get back at some “star lords”. To complicate thing more, Mosquiton’s ex-wife Camille forms a sexy love triangle between him and Inaho.

The steampunk value in this is minor, but it does act as a stable vehicle for the plot, but there is some fair otherworldly imagery and gadgets in the vein of Jules Verne. This was first released on VHS through ADV Films, and then eventually later on DVD through Media Blasters using the same dub.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!

MISC. MANGA, *Sand Land

Akira Toriyama, the maker of Dragonball, did this short series collected in Viz's magazine, Shonen Jump. It was eventually collected into a single one-shot graphic novel.

Taking place on a post-apocalyptic Earth, a down and out sheriff named Rao teams up with Beelzebub, the prince of all demons, and his sidekick Thief. They set off into the desert to find a long lost lake to help the thirsty humans and demons who are under the tyranical rule of a greedy king and his army. Rao turns out to be an retired soldier from the royal army, but is going against the system to help his people. After hyjacking a tank, they run into opposition from the army itself, and a strange band of desert bandits called the Swimmers who dress like they're going to the YMCA pool. Beelzebub has it out with a giant insect before the lake is found, and they day is saved.

Sand Land is a fun adventurous romp which harkens back to some of Toriyama's older works like Dr. Slump and Dragon Quest. It's for sure worth a look, even if just for the sense of nostalgia.

Challengs Of The Autobots

Friday, April 12, 2013

MISC. MANGA, *Slayers Return

If you've seen the Slayers Return anime movie(the 2nd of the series), then this isn't too much new here. This manga takes place during Lina Inverse's early days when she commonly paired up with the busty sorceress Naga.

It starts out with a short bit where they help a dress shop owner ward off ambitious debt collectors. Then, the actual main part is of the Slayer Return movie where Lina & Naga help a small village from being oppressed by a down and out criminal orginization called the Tsine who are planning on ruling the world with an ancient elven treasure. After realizing that the Tsine is run by the inept summoner Galef and his swordsman sidekick, Lina & Naga chase them off to the village where they run into the rest of Galef's gang. However, the rest of the Tsine are mad at Galef for not paying them. So they all head off to the treasure together and discover its really a giant monster that comes to life and starts ravaging a nearby village. Lina, Naga, along with the Tsine finally stop the monster, but Lina once again makes off with only a minimal payment to show for it. The final chapter in the book is a prequal to the main story showing how Galef got it into his head to start his own evil orginization in the first place despite having little money and few resources.

Slayers Return is a one-shot taking place after the Slayer Special manga series. It's s short but fun look at the young Lina Inverse chronicles!

MISC. MANGA, *Air-Heart

I recently picked this up at a mini-comics convention by the creator, Derik Diaz, which is a manga-styled graphic novel about a daring female crime-fighter in a world that seems to be modeled after the Storm Hawks animated TV series.

Set on the planet of Avlon, the landscapes fly in the air. The world is seperated into 99 different sectors, and Sector 44 is guarded by the spunky ace pilot Amelia, who goes by the handle "Air-Heart". She patrols the skies with her rabbit-humanoid sidekick Joey, and they're on the constant lookout from invading countries or other bad guys. They first take on the electrical supervillain Watt who dresses like a Minotaur for some reason. Their next adventure is evil exiled Princess Djalla who wants to use a special ice-making weapon to reclaim her kingdom. In the final chapter, we learn about a betrayel Amelia suffered from back in her academy days.

I personally enjoyed this first volume, although I'm not aware if this is a collected edition of the three chapters used in this from previous publications such as webcomics. However, this all-ages paperback is definately worth looking into. It's got a great manga-style to it, and an adventurous appeal to in the vein of classic comics like Airboy.

JESI THE GENIE, *Part 9: Page 10

Story by Jer Alford. Art by Natalie Prayor.


This comic has an on-again/off-again printing with two one-shot specials and a mini-series, but the beginning one-shot has a strong steampunk thread in it. Howard Shum created this cool series which mixes in Jackie Chan with Indiana Jones.

Bo Shen is a hip jive-talking martial arts police detective from 1936 Hong Kong who gets hired by the Queen of England herself to take out a Nazi robot factory in Germany. Once there, he allows himself to get captured, and introduced to the Nazilicious Dr. Witt, who pits him against their prototype giant robot. Shen starts a fire that blows up the factory, and then uses his “mad skills” to bury the robot in the ice.

The anime-styled design and cool action make this a good first regular issue special. Further issues have him off to the jungle to team up with the hot Jaguar Girl, and another one-shot in Vegas. Fans of the recent Man Of The Iron Fists movie should get a kick out of it!

Monday, April 8, 2013

MISC. MANGA, *Warlands

Dreamwave became pretty infamous with its reintroduction with its reintroduction to Transformers comics back in the 90s, but it became even more infamous with its apparent "ripoffs" of various anime titles like Akira and Ghost In The Shell. But Warlands actually went on for several mini-series, and was largely inspired by Record Of Lodoss War, at least the original volume.

It begins in the land known as of all things Warlands, where a vampire armada from the neighboring country of Datara seeks a legendary artifact called the Darklyte Armor, which is the only thing that can repel their chances of conquering Warlands. After the vampire Prince Aalok takes over a garrison, the only survivor is a brave young knight named Jerell. He befriends the elf princess Elessa, and the two team up with the mage Delezar, along with the blind mystic Zeph. They manage to enlist the aid of the elves, and set out to stop. The Aalok himself eventually claims the armor, which cures him of his vampire urges while he's wearing it. He vows to stop his father, the vampire khan Malagen. The ensuing duel to the death leaves a permanent curse on Warlands, blanketing it in an ongoing winter.

The second series called The Age Of Ice, Zeph is still alive decades later and looking for a way to lift the curse from Warlands. All this while an empire of winger warriors known as Ryotians have taken over and enslaved the people. This was a slightly better story that actually fleshed out to a better story than the original, mostly because it wasn't a take on an existing title like Dungeons & Dragons.

Two other spinoff titles included Dark Tide Rising and Banished Knights which took place in between Volume #1 & #2 of the comic. A samurai comic titled Shidima was supposedly set in the same universe as Warlands but several centuries in the past. The actual comics are all worth looking into, but I strongly recommend looking into the original comic series and the more superior sequal, The Age Of Ice, above anything else.

Bass Cannon, I choose you!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

JESI THE GENIE, *Part 9: Page 9

Story by Jer Alford. Art by Natalie Prayor.

OBCURE O.V.A.S, *Strait Jacket

Some might see this and think it’s a blatant Fullmetal Alchemist clone, but keeps a clear definition between alchemy and sorcery in this 3-episode OVA series. It has sometimes been screened in America as a single movie on places like Syfy during their old Ani-Monday block.

This story takes place in an alternate 1899, it’s about freelance tactical exorcist named Rayoette who wears a special type of garment to prevent himself turning into a monster from using too much magic, the result of which can themselves to become possessed. There’s an understaffed official bureau that deals with these monsters, so they have to hire outside help to deal with an outbreak of possessions. The other storyline involves the bureau officer Isaac and his rivalry with Rayoette causes him to go the distance in using sorcery, plus some fair political intrigue.

The world this inhabits has a stylish gothic blend of magic and Victorian technology. Worth checking out on DVD if you haven't already seen it on cable.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

OBSCURE O.V.A., *Kishin Corps

If the Transformers had been let out during the 1940s, it might go a little something like this. This OVA was based on a light novel series written by Ghost In The Shell writer Masaki Yamada is an interesting look at alternate history.

Set in an alternate WWII, the Allied Forces not only have to deal with the Nazis, but alien invaders too. Germany and Japan are attempting to possess most of the alien tech they can find to win the war, while a special group of freedom fighters called the Kishin Corps use giant robots to repel the united threat of the Axis powers and the aliens.

Also known as Geo-Armor, this OVA series had some impressive mecha designs, and a great retro-future look. Director, Kazunori Mizuno(of Bleach fame), did a very professional job with the approach with this steampunk mixing of a WWII intrigue and sci-fi giant robots.