Sunday, July 31, 2016

ANI-MOVIES, Batman: Bad Blood

As the third chapter of the "Damian Trilogy", Batman: Bad Blood follows the events of Son Of Batman and Batman Vs. Robin, but is intended to be blended adaptation of the Batman: R.I.P., Battle For The Cowl, and Leviathan story arcs from the comics. This also takes place in the New 52 storyline as most of the postFlashpoint movies done by DC Universe.

Batwoman drops in on a group of C-list supervillains tormenting mob accountant Chuckie Sol(a character from Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm), and Batman drops in to lecture her on using guns. The villains leader shows up, who is a large man called The Heretic wearing a Batman-type mask. An explosion goes off, where Batwoman escapes thinking that Batman was killed. Hearing of Batman's disappearance, Damian Wayne returns to Gotham as Robin, and Dick Grayson assumes the mantle of Batman to make it look like the Dark Knight is still alive. The three heroes confab, but Heretic breaks into the Batcave and kidnaps Robin. Damian awakens in the Heretic's lair where he finds the villains and Batman unmasked as Bruce Wayne being mind-tortured by Mad Hatter. Heretic reveals himself to be aged clone of Damian, and he captured him to transfer Damian's memories into him, but is killed by Talia al Ghul, who is the true mastermind behind this whole scheme. Grayson and Batwoman head to the nunnery where Robin is being held, along with Batwing, the son of Wayne Enterprises head of staff Lucius Fox, who uses a new armored flying batsuit to join the team. They defeat all of the "warrior nuns", along with some of the other supervillains, while Talia escapes. Sometime later, Bruce seems to show now ill effects from his torture, and is busy setting up a new Wayne Tech communication device to several world leaders in a summit in Gotham. Batwoman however is nearly killed by her father who is under hypnotic control, and informs Robin and Nightwing to deduce that this was all arranged by Talia. The head of the League of Shadows uses a still mind-controlled Bruce Wayne to use the new Wayne device to hypnotize all the foreign delegates. The Bat-Family unite to stop the Wayne HQ which is now airborne, while Alfred manages to get loose and put the screws on Mad Hatter and Calculator. Nightwing is nearly killed by a hypnotized Batmank, but Robin, Batwoman, and Batwing help break Talia's hold on him, while Damian's mother escapes, only to be possibly killed by Onyx, a companion of Heretic. The Bat-Family later teams up to chase Penguin, who in this story is more of a colorful bank robber instead of syndicate head, while a younger Batgirl swings off to join in the fight.

Bad Blood certainly cleared off most of the Batman rogues gallery, conveniently killing off any of the villains who learned Bruce Wayne's secret identity, so its hard to say where they'll take the Batman titles that are tied to the New 52 from here, although there are plans to do a solo-animated movie of Harley Quinn. The animation has just as good quality as the previous production, but not exactly up to specs as the Justice League movies. This film acts as a lead-in to Justice League Vs. Teen Titans, at least with Robin's development as a hero and acting as part of a team. I'd personally say that Batman Vs. Robin was the better of this "trilogy", but Bad Blood manages to keep its head above water long enough to be an acceptable Batman movie.

Monday, July 25, 2016

OBSCURE O.V.A.S, *Hyper Doll

Based on Shinpei Itoh's incomplete manga which was printed in English through Studio Ironcat, Pioneer Entertainment(later on called Geneon Entertainment)released this 2-episode OVA series simultaneously in American and Japan, first on two separate VHS tapes, a rare laser disc, and then a collected DVD. Mix in Dirty Pair and Supergirl, and you'll get some idea of what you're in for, even though this OVA was intended as a sort of midquel to the actual manga.

Mew and Mica are two artificially created alien humanoids acting as agents on Earth as part of an intergalactic organization. Disguised as two seemingly normal but sexy Japanese high school students, whenever trouble rears its head, Mew and Mica transform into the Hyper Dolls, even though they still have most of their regular superpowers in their secret identities. The criminal syndicate known as "CHAOS"(no relation to Get Smart)is constantly sending giant monsters to attack the city, but the Hyper Dolls manage to stop them, despite the Man Of Steel levels of property damage.

This had a better production than Pioneer's other superhero parody that came out at the time, Moldiver, Hyper Doll manages to have some great comedy sequences during monster fights which would normally be done with Ultraman. There's also a serious amount of cheesecake with transformation sequences that would never make it into a Sailor Moon episode. Considering its only about an hour long, it's sure to make some hero otaku's day, even though the DVD is missing the funny live-action bonuses from the VHS release.

The dangers of Pokemon Go

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

ANI-MOVIES, *When Marnie Was There

Before Studio Ghibli went on a short break to reconfigure their production company, they completed this fine film clearly carrying on the style and tradition of their former head, Hayao Miyazaki. Based on the novel by Joan Robinson, When Marnie Was There repositions the original story from England to Japan, which also carries on the tradition of a youngster finding something otherworldly after moving to a more rural area.

Anna is a pre-teen girl with some hidden anxieties and a lack of self-esteem. After suffering from what seems to be an asthma attack, her adopted mother sends Anna to some relatives of hers in the country to recover. While there, Anna discovers a seemingly abandoned mansion near the beach, and meets a mysterious blonde girl named Marnie who she immediately bonds with. While their friendship continues, Anna learns more about Marnie's sophisticated family, although Marnie seems to miss her parents when they are away, and says she is tormented by the maids and housekeepers. Anna begins to come more out of her shell as a person during this, but Marnie and everyone at the mansion move away overnight, with a new younger girl named Sayaka moving in with her family. Sayaka and Anna become friends, but mostly at first because Sayaka mistakes Anna for being Marnie, the girl she read about in a diary left in new room. One more meeting with Marnie has Anna questioning her existence more as Marnie keeps confusing her with someone else. Marnie disappears again, but a little digging from Sayaka finding the rest of Marnie's diary and a talk with an elderly artist reveals the rest of Marnie's existence to Anna.

I won't spoil how the movie ends, suffice to say it ends the possibility of any of the obvious shipping bait that the story seemed to be setting. The hand-drawn animation really takes you back to Ghibli's glory days, and makes the film as compelling as their previous production of The Tale Of Princess Kaguya. As per usual, it was nominated for an Oscar, mostly due to the great direction of Hiromasa Yonebayashi. The film oddly enough wasn't released through Disney, but GKids who handle a lot of other all-ages foreign releases. Definitely give this heartwarming tale a look, and the kids should love it too!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

ANI-MOVIES, *Toward The Terra

Based on a late 70s manga, Toward The Terra was a 1980 anime movie compressing the entire 3-year long comic into a single movie. This was a common practice with anime films based on manga back then, instead of simply adapting a story arc or two from it instead. It was especially true of dramatic space operas that which were huge at the time. The best way to describe this epic though is "X-Men meets Star Wars".

In the far off future, people are produced in test tubes instead of natural birth where they are raised by a pair of chosen parents, and then go through a special orientation where for some reason their memories are altered to not remember their parents. From there, they are made brainwashed citizens of the SD(Super Dominance), which is an AI that governs over all the humans. However, some humans slip through the system because they are born psychic, who form their own group known as the Mu. The Mu are trying to make their way back to the Earth which is under the total control of the SD, mostly due to mankind's horrible treatment to the environment during the 20th-21st Century. One of the newly revealed Mu, Jomy, takes up the mantle of their commander, Soldier Blue, after accepting his position and inheriting his memories. Jomy leads the Mu to an inhabitable planet, which is inevitably attacked by the SD and their commander Keith, who is later revealed to be an android(or at least a synthetic lifeform). Jomy's son Tony, the first naturally born child in the Mu, eventually leads the Mu to Earth, and a massive battle commences between the Mu with their psychic powers and stolen space weapons fighting the collected might of the SD forces. SD is revealed to have been flawed in its programming as it allowed the Mu to be produced in the first place as a contingency against allowing mankind to become stagnant in its evolution due to artificial reproduction. The Earth itself begins to reform itself after being liberated from the AI's control.

The movie works out as a good narration of the manga, although it jumps around with all the time skips done in the original story, again stressing that its difficult to take even a manga that only lasted 3 volumes and condensing it down into a single feature. The entire manga has been released in English recently by Vertical, plus the TV series through Bandai Entertainment. The movie was put out originally on VHS by Right Stuff, and eventually DVD, but both versions are in Japanese only with subtitles, so this might be a put-off for the standard Toonami audience. Its still a classic blast from the past for old school sci-fi fans with some lively animation.