Friday, January 23, 2015

ANI-MOVIES, *The Batman Vs. Dracula

This was a made-for-video feature, and the only animated extension of the early 2000's series, The Batman. Running for five seasons, this was helmed by some of the creators of Jackie Chan Adventures, which helped add a lot more physical action to the Batman animated history. This was also somewhat inspired a trilogy of DC Comics' Elseworlds comics beginning with Batman: Red Rain where modern day Batman has to stop the king of the vampires.

Set sometime probably before Season 3 of The Batman TV series, Joker and Penguin break out of Arkham Asylum each on their own to find a lost mafia treasure buried somewhere in Gotham Cemetery. Batman stops Joker who seems to die, while Penguin uncovers a tomb in the cemetery that happens to house none other than the dried up corpse of the actual Dracula. Apparently, after he was defeated by ticked-off peasants centuries ago, instead of just throwing his body into a volcano or exposing it sunlight, the went through all the trouble of locking him up in an iron coffin and sending it all the way from Europe to Gotham City as American was colonized. Penguin accidently gets some of his blood conveniently dropped into Dracula's husk which revives him, and he hypnotizes Pengie into being his personal Renfield. Drac begins to feed off Gothamites, thus turning them into ghoulish vampires too, and the police blame Batman as the one for the disappearances for these "Lost Ones". Dracula also sets his sights on Vicki Vale, who here makes her first animated appearance, as Vicki herself is trying to become Bruce Wayne's love interest. Joker comes back, and Drac changes him into a vampire, only to get later captured by Batman and taken back to the Batcave so he can use him as a guinea pig for an anti-vampire cure. Batman finally creates a vampire vaccine, and tracks Dracula to the cemetery to turn his army of darkness back to normal. Bats then baits Drac underground to the Batcave, and uses a special solar generator to disintegrate him. This frees Penguin from Dracula's control, who ends up taking the rap for all the missing persons in Gotham, thus freeing Batman of any blame.

This was a decent outing for The Batman storyline, even though its possible to have done it without Joker or Penguin who are just there to pad out the movie. The addition of Vicki Vale was okay, even though she ends up having no appearances again after this movie, similar to Detective Yin from the first two seasons of the show who was built up to be a reoccurring character and ally to Batman and was just dropped after Batgirl was added to the roster. The animation was slightly above that on the TV show, although it could have used a better soundtrack than all the damn guitar strumming that they use in every damn scene. This movie was brought up in a single issue of The Batman Strikes spinoff comic that takes place during the movie. It's worth downloading, or at least maybe in one of the double-feature DVD sets which include other Batman animated movies.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

ANI-MOVIES, *Lego Batman: The Move-DC Super Heroes Unite

Acting as a slight animated adaptation of the Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, this also was its own separate direct-to-video movie. It features some footage from the actual video game, but largely contained original material. It was directed by Lego regular creator Jon Burton, no relation to Tim Burton, even though the movie features an opening similar to the first Batman movie from 1989. There's also music from this and the original Superman played throughout the film.

After an homage to Batman '89, Batman and Superman walk right into Lex Luthor's rotating pyramid HQ, and are flat out bested by him after using some Kryptonite on Supes and crashing a load on Bats. The story then jumps back to two days prior where Bruce Wayne wins a Man of the Year award over Luthor, when Joker and a few other Gotham City baddies crash the party. Batman and Robin round them up, but Luthor busts Joker out of jail to help him win his campaign for President. Luthor uses a special Kryptonite-powered device called the Deconstructor which works on black Lego products only, making most of Batman's gear inoperable. Joker-Luthor Incorporated leave a piece of fake Kryptonite for Batman to take back to the Batcave, and actually find the place! They trash all of the Bat-toys, steal all of his Kryptonite stash, and leave a big hole above the cave. The stupid part though is that they see that the Batcave is right next to Wayne Manor and for some reason don't figure out Batman's secret identity! Anyway, Superman shows up to help save the Dynamic Duo, and the World's Finest head to Luthor's place like at the beginning of the movie. The strange thing is that this reshot of the opening is sort of a "director's cut" with completely different material and lines added in, either that or the original opening was a Cliff Notes version. Joker and Luthor use a Kryptonite-powered Joker-Mecha to seemingly kill off the World's Finest, but it turns out Bats and Supes traded outfits(Captain Action would be proud). Luthor had Joker use his patented Joker Gas to spray a handful of Gothamites into voting for him, although Joker doublecrosses Luthor by making them want to make Joker the Prez instead, which isn't how the Joker Gas is supposed to work. The rest of the Justice League is called into to stop the Joker-Devastator, but not without wrecking a good part of the Wayne office building. For some reason, Martian Manhunter just stays up on the Watchtower eating cookies while the rest of the League put their lives on the line. After stopping Lex and Joker, Green Lantern for some reason shoots a blast of energy into the sky which gets the attention of Braniac several light years away, thus setting up the third video game.

This was a decent flick for kids, with some fair animation that ranks a little better than what Lego used in Ninjago and Legends Of Chima, although it could've used some better writing. This is a somewhat separate storyline than what was in The Lego Movie, but is connected to the Lego Batman: Be-Leaguered TV special that aired on Cartoon Network, although no word yet of its home video release. If you want to have something from DC to entertain the children to, this is worth a spin, although it could've totally stood to have Adam West make a cameo!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Get the FUCK outta here!

MISC. MANGA, *Gou-Dere Sora Nagihara

This manga is by Suu Minazuki, the creator of Heaven's Lost Property, and it carries a very similar theme of a random horny teenage boy getting an otherworldly love interest seemingly out of nowhere, although this one currently doesn't have an anime based on it. This has been one of Minazuki's on-and-off projects as he's been doing it since 2008, but only about 4-5 collected volumes have been printed so far.

Shouta is an otaku who has a serious fix on 2-D girls, and not real life flesh 'n blood girls. He's totally hung up with a cat-eared schoolgirl named Sora, and somehow she comes out of Shouta's graphic novel and into the real world, even though her personality in this reality is much more rough and aggressive than her fictional background. Sora declares that Shouta is officially her master, and is for some reason destined to take over the world. From this point on, Sora keeps bringing over girls to Shouta's dorm room for him to impregnate to help expand his "dynasty". This ends up getting Sora arrested several times, and eventually kicked out of the dorms. However, his childhood friend Ryoko(who got him kicked out in the first place)offers to take him in, and Shouta is shocked to discover that her father is actually the creator of the manga Sora came from. Later on, another version of Sora arrives claiming to be the "real" one, leaving the first Sora's origin to be much more questionable.

This story is pretty decent so far, although its kinda clear that Minazuki works on this title sparingly from time-to-time. It's very much not for younger readers, but its not a full-on hentai title either. Give it a look as its just now finally coming out in America through Yen Press.

Monday, January 5, 2015

MISC. MANGA, *Ironcat

Street Fighter manga artist Masaomi Kanzaki had some of his own titles like Gun Crisis an the incomplete Flag Fighters printed into English by the former Antarctic Press alumni at Studio Ironcat. Kanzaki even designed their mascot character of Ironcat herself, although it turned out that there was a manga based on the character as well. So, Studio Ironcat(or I.C. Entertainment as it was later known)decided to go ahead a print out the English adaptation of the Ironcat manga.

Loosely inspired by Sailor Moon, Ironcat is a story of a perky blonde schoolgirl named Sakura who has to bandage back her d-cup sized breasts because she's so "modest". On her way to school, Sakura accidently rides her bicycle over a stray cat while trying to avoid hitting Wakaba, a photographer who is too obsessed with his new camera to notice either of them at first. Suddenly, a giant windup mouse ridden by the villainous Rat Man shows up. Ratty is one of 12 "E.T."s that want to take over the world, and apparently the cat Sakura ran over contains a power that will help them succeed. So the cat named Cleopatra Cat decides to bond with Sakura, ripping her clothes of Cutie Honey-style, and now she's the battle-bikini superhero, Ironcat. She uses her enhanced strength and reflexes(as well as her extra bouncier boobs!)to defeat Rat Man. Later on, the next E.T. shows up, the voluptuous Cow Girl, who first challenges Ironcat to a beauty contest to be judged by Wakaba, but is really a ruse to distract her. Ironcat ends Cow Girl in a way Yatterman would be proud of, leaving her and Wakaba to possibly be a couple from this point on.

Ironcat lasted only two comic book issues of its American print run, and has yet to be compiled in a trade paperback of anykind. It's also unknown if there were any further chapters created in Japan beyond the ones printed in English. However, it is worth hunting down these two issues for some seriously wacky fansevice!

The club can't even handle me right now!