Tuesday, December 22, 2015

ANI-MOVIES, *Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League vs. Bizarro League

Done as a sequal to the Lego Batman: Be-Leagured, this short movie/TV special is the first Justice League title in the DC Comics animated Lego line. This time around, it's more like a setup to a Batman V. Superman parody with the Dark Knight continuously being suspicious of Supes, plus Guy Gardner has for some reason replaced Hal Jordon as the League's resident Green Lantern.

Superman convinces is backwards clone Bizarro to leave Earth and stay on a cube-shaped planet they call Bizarro World. However, Bizarro returns later on to get Lex Luthor's duplicator ray gun to make Bizarro copies of some of the other Leaguers, including fan-favorite Batzarro. The Justice League follows their clones to Bizarro World where the find out that Darkseid is harnessing the strange rocks there that negate superpowers of non-Bizarros. So, the JLA teams up with the BLA(or whatever they're called)to stop Darkseid.

This special was essentially an extended version of an old Superfriends episode, but makes for a vehicle for the DC toy line from Lego. Its pretty good for catching on TV, but might only be worth getting for hardcore fans of Lego, or something safe from DC Comics for parents to show their kids.

MISC. MANGA, *Cutie Honey '90

Done as a sequal to the original Cutie Honey manga from the 70s of which all the other Cutey Honey titles are based off of, Cutie Honey '90 was the English translated version of the Go Nagai series which so far has been the only one from that franchise to be released in America. Ironcat released this as two 6-volume comic book mini-series, but there were some difficulties with getting into any collected trade paperback, so all we have to go by now are the 12 issues.

Set in the early 90s, the criminal organization Panther Claw resurfaces headed by its commander, Sister Jill. Jill starts using her monstrous DNA to mutate unsuspecting girls into evil abominations, including one starring as Kekko Kamen(another of Go Nagai's titles). To battle this, police detective Todoroki is assigned help from the current head of the influential Hamayi Group, run by none other than Cutie Honey, who as an android hasn't aged at all in the last few decades. She uses her transforming powers and cybernetic strength to help Todoroki with his investigation. This eventually leads to a showdown with Sister Jill and her Panther Claw god in another dimension to determine the fate of the world.

The manga series holds out considering its over two decades old now. It helps if you've at least read the original 70s manga too, although at least a refresher from one of the other Cutey Honey anime or live-action productions, most of which have been released in English(except for the awesome Re: Cutie Honey OVA!). If you happen to find a bundle of these in a comic lot somewhere, be sure to give it a peak!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

How The Force Awakens SHOULD have started...

MISC. MANGA, *Airship Enterprise

Originally printed partially in the pages of Steampunk Tales, but in black and white. This 4-issue mini-series expands on the story, and in color.

Basically a steampunk version of Star Trek, an airship manned by diverse females and other aliens receive a distress call. Upon investigating, Capt. Janus Tibbs and her crew are met with hostile resistance from sky pirates who wish to exploit a rare creature.

Airship Enterprise makes for an enticing tale for Trekkies and other sci-fi geeks.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

ANI-MOVIES, *Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League-Attack Of The Legion of Doom

This made-for-video movie was intended to be a follow-up to the Justice League Vs. Bizarro League animated movie, but a prelude to the Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham video game. It is a little unique as at is a full-length production as opposed to be the length of a TV special or standard OVA.

The Justice League elects Batman as the temporary leader of the League(similar to the Justice Society having a rotating chairperson), and for some reason Hal Jordan is back as Green Lantern instead of Guy Gardner. After Trickster manages to hit Metropolis with a huge stink bomb, the League get some new duds since their old one stank. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor, Sinestro, and Black Manta decide to put together their own anti-Justice League group of villains called the Legion of Doom, although Luthor is secretly working with Darkseid to take over the planet. They hold Legion auditions, but knock out most of Batman's enemies since they get shown enough in the Lego games, plus Deathstroke is passed since he makes everyone else look like losers. Along with a few other baddies like Capt. Cold, Grodd, and Cheetah, the full Legion raids Area 52(the one after Area 51)for a Martian being kept there, and convince the Martian Manhunter that they're the good guys. They use MM's mental powers to make it look like the League wrecked a power plant, and get exiled from Earth. Cyborg however stays behind and deduces that they were all duped by Martian Manhunter, and convinces him to take over Sinestro's mind to bring the League back. The Legion meanwhile have launched their headquarters into attacking Metropolis, but Cyborg reveals that the Hall of Justice is also a flying fortress(because you really want your local superhero team to have a mobile sky building that shoots missiles!), and defeat the Legion by clearing their names. Darkseid then refuses to bust Luthor out of jail, and realizes he has to team up with Brainiac to get the job done.

Attack Of The Legion Of Doom made for a fair outing in the "Legoverse" established in the Lego Batman video games. The most impressive part in it is the recurring voice cast. Mark Hamill replays both Joker and Trickster as well as Sinestro, Troy Baker switches roles as Joker for Batman, John DiMaggio who also played Joker once is Lex Luthor, and former Joker from The Batman: Kevin Michael Richardson replays Black Manta plus Grodd and Captain Cold. It's enjoyable at least for fans of the old Super Friends show, and makes a good watch for kids.

Monday, December 7, 2015

MISC. MANGA, *Shadow Lady

Shadow Lady is a short-lived manga series by Video Girl Ai creator Masakazu Katsura. It started out as one of those "mysterious thief" stories similar to Saint Tail, it was cut short during its planned run and a new story arc was added halfway through the second volume out of the 3-volume series. This also included a one-shot special retelling of the plot that was released after the series wrapped up.

Set in the gothic metropolis of Gray City, Aimi Komori is a buxom teenage girl living on her own working as a waitress, but she happens upon a miniature demon named De-Mo who bestows upon her a magical make-up kit. Once she applies it to her face, Aimi can transform into the more energetic and slightly super-empowered character called Shadow Lady. She goes through grand exploits to steal small things from grand museums, not like priceless pieces of art but cheap items from the gift shop, but the police are still hot on her tail for all the trouble she causes. Enter Bright Honda, a young inventor turned police detective who sets out to arrest Shadow Lady and bring her over to the good side, but Aimi ends up falling for him even though she knows he loves Shadow Lady and not her. Bright's former partner Lime eventually shows up to win Bright back by adopting the secret identity of the vigilante Spark Girl, and actually gives Shadow Lady a run for her money. The story takes a sudden shift where agents from the Demon World arrive to take back De-Mo and killing him for interfering with humans, but make a deal with him and Aimi if they collect five Demon Stones which would each come to life and take over the world. So, Shadow Lady now has to collect the gems, at least three of which we don't get to see her get, and then ultimately the last Demon Stone becomes the Final Boss of the story bent of destroying mankind.

Following this was the Shadow Lady Special one-shot which takes place in an alternate universe. Here Aimi is a little younger and gets the magic make-up from her grandmother, but can only use a few times. This was more like a Sailor Moon wanna-be story, but still enjoyable.

This was a memorable manga, despite its building up of a decent story and subsequent derailing into a subplot because of its early cancellation. The entire manga was first released as 24 issues in English through Dark Horse Comics, plus the Special, and then collected into three trade paperbacks. It's worth a look if at least for Katsura's amazing character designs and details.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

OBSCURE O.V.A.S, *Tenamonya Voyagers

A very obscure OVA 4-episode series from the late 90s, Tenamonya Voyagers holds the distinct honor of being the first anime to be released in America that was a DVD-only release. Prior to this, all anime was put out either prior on VHS, or simultaneously on VHS and DVD. This is possibly why it was so under the radar of most U.S. otaku. This OVA was like a lot of ones done in the 90s as being incomplete(similar to Dragon Half)but still holds your attention, and is basically "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy meets The Fugitive".

Set sometime way in the future, Ayako is a young Earth woman who just became a teacher, and gets a position at a school on a distant world, but after arriving there the school shut down, leaving her and sports scholarship winner Wakano stranded with not enough funds to get back home. After lamenting their situation, a mecha comes falling out of the sky piloted by teenage space mafa figure, "Space Trash" Paraila, who claims to be a dropout student also trying to find her way to Earth, where apparently once any intergalactic criminal is absolved of all crimes if they make it there. The three ladies pull their resources to get a space train, but the ship is pulled over by the very determined detective Tatsue(also from Earth)who is determined to arrest Paraila to help bring down a galactic syndicate. Fortunately for Paraila, she has a special circuit card that can amp up any mecha to god-mode, and she along with Ayako and Wakano make their escape. Along their voyage, the trio come across Paraila's old flunkie who is keep at heisting robots for them to use, all this while being pursued by both the space cops and space mafia. They eventually jack an abandoned pleasure cruiser, and become end up crashing on another planet while still leaving the fate of their voyage to Earth up in the air, to which even the narrator makes a note of as in to indicate they were waiting to see if the anime would continue past 4 episodes!

Despite the slight abrupt conclusion, Tenamonya Voyages is one of the first truly space anime that goes off the beaten path. As it came out around the same time as Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star, this OVA took their star trek from the point of view of the common person just trying to make it back home, sort of like a Planes, Trains and Automobiles version of Lost In Space. It was produced by Studio Perriot, and features intensively good animation, although there's quite a few shots in the last episodes that I can't believe didn't cause seizures for some of the Pokemon victims. The writing is good too, although some gets lost in the English translation. The entire series was released on a single DVD, so its not to hard to track down, but it's so worth a look!

MISC. MANGA, *Herald: Lovecraft & Tesla

Herald: Lovecraft & Tesla is 3-issue mini-series written by newcomer John Reily, and drawn by Tom Artist who also did the luchadore epic, Calavera De La Justicia. It fully embraces the Lovecraftian lore with steampunk madness.

Set in 1923, Nikola Tesla after being duped by Edison receives the shock that his would-be bride Amelia Earhart made off with one of his devices which made her disappearance more of a case of interdimensional interference. So, he gets the idea from a kooky patent-seeker to consult H.P. Lovecraft. The author and the inventor soon realize they have a common goal in sealing up the breech between the human world and the realm of elder gods. A Cthulu cult gets in their way as they seek a copy of the Necronomicon to stop the demons.

This is a particularly intriguing comic with a lot more development of the humanity behind Lovecraft and Tesla, even if this is a piece of revisionist history.