Sunday, May 29, 2016

OBSCURE O.V.A.S, *Slayers: The Book Of Spells

The first Slayers OVA series was based on the Slayers Special prequal manga taking place before the first Slayers TV anime. It was 3-episodes long, which was first released in English through ADV Films as two separate VHS volumes(Dragon Slave and Explosion Array), and then later on in a collected DVD titled Slayers: The Book Of Spells.

Taking place sometime after Lina and Naga reunited from Slayers Excellent, their first adventure has Lina almost dying of the sheer shock of a crafty alchemist who created ten clones of Naga in order to subdue Lina to use her as part of a crazy looking giant chimera in order to take over the world. The real Naga eventually catches up to them and her clones bond to her like bees to a queen, and they go to rescue Lina. The next adventure sees our heroines being hired to help an aspiring wouldbe knight to join the royal guard, but continuously being confronted by his mother makes the situation nearly impossible. The final chapter has Lina and Naga hunting down a renegade sorcerer who plans to use a magic mirror to make reverse copies of any adversary he comes across, except that when he uses it on our girls it produces embarrassingly peaceful versions of them who do nothing but cry and plead for peace, leaving the world with yet another wandering Naga copy.

Slayers Special(as its originally called in Japan)works out as a good intro to the world of Lina Inverse in her travels, even though the OVAs and movies operate on a different tempo than the TV series, sometimes taking a little more time in drawing out the comedy instead of following along with a season-long story arc. The animation is just as good as the first few Slayers movies, although the third episode seems to suffer a little too much like being a promo for the OVA soundtrack with some AMV segments added in for padding. Worth a look on its own, or combined with the Slayers Excellent OVA collection.

Monday, May 23, 2016

ANI-MOVIES, *Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo

As the third installment of the Rebuild Of Evangelion 4-part movie series, this chapter completely removes itself from the original Neon Genesis Evangelion storyline and catapults it into a totally alternate storyline. The established plot that the first two movies were adapted from is given a fresh take with a radically different look at the Eva world.

Taking place 14 years after the end of the previous movie, the Third Impact was pre-empted with the arrival of Kaworu from the moon who impaled the awoken Unit 01 with the Lance of Longinus. Now, Asuka and her Eva partner, Mari(introduced in the last film), are retrieving Unit 01 containing Shinji. During this whole time, none of the Eva pilots have aged because of some side-effect. Shinji awakens to find that Unit 01 has been used as the prime engine for a new airship called Wunder operated by WILLE, a group of ex-NERV members dedicated to stopping SEELE's attempts to bring about the next impact. Misato is now captain of this ship, and places an explosive collar on Shinji that prevents him from ever piloting an Eva, but he's rescued by Rei in Unit 09. Shinji is taken to the remains of NERV headquarters which is only inhabited by his father Gendo, Prof. Fuyutsuki, and Kaworu. Gendo needs Shinji to co-pilot the new Unit 13 with Kaworu to retrieve the now two Lances of Longinus. Showing mistrust in his father's work after he learns that this Rei is really another clone of his dead mother, Shinji befriends Kaworu after he removes his collar and puts it on himself. The two operate Unit 13 two get the Lances from Central Dogma embedded in the remains of the 12th Angel that was stopped in Evangelion 2.0, and merge them with Unit 13. But Asuka and Mari interrupt their mission to stop a possible Fourth Impact. During the battle, all the Eva units are destroyed, and Kaworu gets his head blown off. This leaves Asuka, Shinji, and the "replacement" Rei to rendezvous with WILLE.

As part of this Evangelion remake, the third chapter takes some serious risks in shaking up the status quo with the characters and situations. The downside though is that not much changes with most of the previous cast who were around during post-Third Impact, not including the fact that some of them didn't physically age at all, or were in stasis during that time. A lot of questions remained unanswered, which obviously leaves room open for in the final movie, but stuff like what happened to the other cast in the missing 14 years is left mostly unexplained(least of all what happened to Pen-Pen!). This movie does expand the characters a little more as far as their goals and their ability to adapt to the ever-changing world they live in, either always fighting for their beliefs or just struggling to stay alive. Since the series director and creator Hideaki Anno is now working on the new Japanese revival of Godzilla, its hard to say when exactly we can expect Evangelion 4.0 to wrap all this up, but hopefully it won't be left with as many question marks like the last Eva anime did.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

ANI-MOVIES, *Appleseed Alpha

Intended as a prequel to the 2004 Appleseed movie, Alpha is CGI-animated film directed by Shinji Aramaki who also did the other two Appleseed movies, not to be confused with the late 80s OVA one-shot, or the Appleseed XIII remake.

Before they were big shot officers in the utopian cyberpunk city of Olympus, Deunan Knute and Briareos were survivors of WWIII and operating as mercenaries in the ruins of New York City. Deunan is an attractive busty blonde, and her partner Briareos was a human given a fully cybernetic body which has little resemblance to a human. The two of them are currently under the employ of a cyborg gangsta named Two-Horns, while on a job for him encounter two fugitives being gunned down by gun mechas. Iris and Olson were sent from Olympus, which at this time is considered a myth, and assigned to deactivate a giant mechanical gun turrent. However, a rogue agent from Olympus named Talos and his followers plan to use the weapon to wreck what's left of New York. Deunan and Briareos set out to stop the revolutionaries, and save their city.

This movie works as a stand-alone feature which doesn't require watching any prior material in order to enjoy it. There is some good CGI animation, although its seems the Appleseed: Ex Machina movie was better movie over all as it was directed by action great John Woo. It's worth a look as a decent post-apocalypse action flick, but not up there on the level of Mad Max.

OBSCURE O.V.A.S, *Slayers Excellent

Done as the second Slayers OVA, Slayers Excellent is a 3-episode series takes Lina Inverse back to her earliest chapter to when she first meets up with Naga the Serpent(her eternal rival). So, this takes place in the same set of stories as the Slayers Special titles like the first four Slayers movies, intended as a prequel taking place before all the other Slayers material, or a "prequel of prequels" as it were.

Lina originally encounters Naga who torches an entire inn just to declare her superiority over Lina. Naga continues to stalk Lina, which leads the two thought of being in cahoots by some villagers after Naga destroys a pub Lina was eating in. The unlikely dup of sorceresses are sentenced by the village to look for some missing citizens in an abandoned ruins, which turns out to be ruled by a vampire lord that Lina and Naga were intended to be sacrifices for. Of course the Dracula-wannabe is defeated by Lina, but not without Naga causing the entire roof to fall in on them. The next chapter has Lina being a bodyguard for a spoiled rich girl on a trip to her summer home, but sells her out to bandits after having enough of her ego. Naga interferes, and causes the debutante brat and her kidnappers to start a new fashion trend. This leads into the last episode where Lina is hired by a fashion designer that is at war with "trendy" designer that has adopted Naga's flashy philosophy, which escalates into the two sides having a giant robot battle with mechanized golems!

The OVA series is collected into a single DVD through ADV Films, although no re-release has been issued since the company restructured into separate branches. The dub is pretty fair, although it is different from the one performed in the TV series and features a totally different cast. The quality of animation is just as good as the other theatrical releases and OVAs, although it looks like they didn't give as much effort to that what was done in prior productions.

Monday, May 9, 2016


MISC. MANGA, *Aether & Empire

This one is totally for airship fanatics!

Victorian Era England is at war with the Ottoman Empire, and newly designated Captain Bistrow is put in charge of the HMSS Jules Verne on a secret mission to take a crew to Mars. But he has conflicts with the crew’s scientists which makes their rescue voyage even more complex.

Great steampunk cut of Star Blazers!

Sure is alot of not revealing the release date for Samurai Jack going on right now.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

MISC. MANGA, *Scott Pilgrim

After the modest success of Out To Sea, Bryan Lee O'Malley went out to do his first mini-series of graphic novels based on the title character from a song by former Canadian band Plumtree, Scott Pilgrim. Fusing video games, anime, and other comic book tropes, this American manga-styled comic became a cultural phenomenon, mostly due to the hit movie directed by Edgar Wright.

Scott Pilgrim is a young man from Toronto who is in a band called Sex Bob-omb, and is just getting over a devastating break up with his previous girlfriend by dating a young high schoolgirl girl, Knives. He begins to realize that a relationship with her won't last since she's slightly younger than him, and starts having visions of a candy color-haired rollerskater, who he learns is an American delivery girl for Amazon called Ramona Flowers. The reason he imprints on her is that she uses a "sub-space highway" thru Scott's head to make her deliveries. Scott manages to work up asking Ramona out, while breaking up with Knives, but it isn't all peaches and gravy as he finds out he has to fight all seven of Ramona's evil-exes in order to keep dating her. His opponents come at first one per volume, although two of them turn out to be twins that he fights simultaneously. Along the way, Scott becomes more aware of him entering into maturity and being more honest with himself, including fighting his inner-self(aka: Nega-Scott). His final battle is with the grand schemer and head of the League of Evil-Exes, Gideon, however Ramona disappears prior to this grand finale. So Scott has to come to terms with his own identity while searching for his true feelings for Ramona.

The comic has been released twice, originally as a 6-volume black/white paperback series, and then again in larger colorized hardcovers with additional material. The movie was a very faithful adaptation, even though the finale was significantly different as the final volume of the comic was still being created while the movie was in production. There's also a popular video game that borrows more from the comic than the movie with references that fans of both medias will enjoy. Hopefully someone will make a for real animated mini-series based on it someday, either in North America or as a genuine anime!