Monday, August 7, 2017

OBSCURE O.V.A.S, *Tenchi Muyo

Tenchi Muyo has probably one of the most diverse legacies in all of anime. Originally a 6-episode OVA series, followed by a special(which became Episode #7), then continued in another 6.25-episode series, it left a trail for several TV and movie remakes, along with a spinoff set further in the future, until finally being officially continued in a third installment of the original OVA about 12 years later. This is was also the foundation of what would become the "harem anime" genre. Picking up the concept that Urusei Yatsura, Tenchi Muyo takes the boy-meets-alien-girl concept and ramps it up with even more hot extra-terrestrial babes!

Tenchi Misaki is an average teenager spending the summer working at his grandfather's temple where he unintentionally releases an ancient demon, who turns out to be the sexy space pirate Ryoko sealed away in a tomb by Tenchi's ancestor. Fortunately, Tenchi has a handy lightsaber which is really the key to an alien empire known as Jurai, whose princesses Ayeka and Sasami come to Earth looking for their half-brother Yosho. Later, the bubbleheaded space police girl Mihoshi drops in, just before the intergalactic criminal Kagato invades looking for the secret to Jurai's power. Kagato was keeping his old teacher Washu(and Ryoko's mom!)prisoner, that escapes and helps Tenchi defeat their shared enemy. All five girls eventually move into Tenchi's home with his father near their grandpa's temple. This portion of the OVA was continued in the 2nd series with more background on Washu, and the Jurai royal family. The 3rd OVA takes place sometime afterwards, which gave Tenchi even more love interests, and leading into how the universe was created, despite the fact that there's some added plotlines that pointlessly tags more loopholes to the series, making most of the last two episodes as exposition fests. This and the tacked on time travel factors make it so that most of the first parts of the 3rd OVA are completely re-enacted, plus an odd take on the Evangelion finale.

The OVA is being continued in a 4th series, hopefully having Tenchi finally picking one of the multiple girls from his harem as his one true love. Tenchi Muyo was most heralded in America as part of Toonami's lineup, even though it was profoundly edited, and was broadcast with the Tenchi Universe and Tenchi In Tokyo TV remakes. It's spinoff, Tenchi Muyo GXP(the title character of which only shows up in one episode!), also played on Toonami. The multiple magical girl parody remake starring Sasami called Pretty Sammy has also had it's own OVA series, and two TV remakes. Another mini-TV series titled Ai Tenchi Muyo shows an older Tenchi as a teacher, although its considered to be a sequel to Tenchi Universe. Aside from the Mihoshi Special, the only other anime directly tied to the first Tenchi timeline is War On Geminar dealing with Tenchi's younger brother on another planet, as well as a slight tie-in to the Dual: Parallel Adventure TV series which has some connection to GXP. The original OVA series also spawned a manga series released in America as No Need For Tenchi, as well as an American-created 6-issue Tenchi Muyo comic book series which was really a sequel to Tenchi Universe. If you have trouble shifting through all these various spinoffs, sequels, reboots, and remakes, it might be best just to stick to the primary OVA series, and any of its various official continuations.

Introducing the new White House Communications Director...


Thursday, July 27, 2017

ANI-MOVIES, *The Lego Batman Movie

Having no direct connection to Lego Batman: The Movie, this theatrically-released film was a semi-spinoff of The Lego Movie, apparently dealing with the Batman that exists in that "reality". Lego established that the Batman from their video games and made-for-TV/video animated movies is in a completely different universe from The Lego Movie, as in the Lego Dimensions game had both Batmans meeting up with the video game Batman beating out The Lego Movie Batman as the one you play as who meets up with characters like Gandalf and Doctor Who. Chris McCay directed The Lego Movie, and takes up the reigns again with a satirical look at the Batman universe, who also exists in the same Lego universe as various other Warner Bros. licensed titles.

Joker gets all of Gotham's villains(including some really obscure ones)to take over the city, but as usual, Batman shows up and takes them all down by himself. Joker gets miffed when Batman tells him he's not his main enemy. Bruce Wayne later attends James Gordon's retirement from police commissioner, whose position is replaced by his daughter Barbara that in this reality was never a librarian or part of the House of Representatives, but a top cop from Bludhaven, and plans on having the police work closer with Batman as he's never actually caught any of Gotham's villains(except for the opening scene!). Batman plans on sending Joker to the Phantom Zone to permanently get rid of him, so he takes his newly adopted ward Dick to sneak into the Fortress of Solitude and snatch the zone's generator it right under Superman's super-senses, all while him and the rest of the Superfriends(not the JLA!)are partying down. Batman then busts into Arkham and sends him off to the zone which also has several other Warner Bros. villains like the Eye of Sauron(the actual tower), Voldemort, King Kong, Jaws, flying monkeys, and gremlins, although oddly enough we don't see General Zod there as Batman gets the idea for the Phantom Zone from a news report on Superman having previously sent the mad Kryptonian to. Joker along with the WB lot baddies take over Gotham, so Batman teams up with the newly named Robin, Alfred(now dressed like Kato), Barbara Gordon as 60's Batgirl, along with the other Arkham inmates to form their own "Suicide Squad", a concept that Batman: The Return Of The Caped Crusaders handled a little better. All this destruction causes the entire city breaking apart, and all the heroes and villains have to unite to pull Gotham back together, but for some reason with no help from the Superfriends who are supposedly still having their hero orgy at the North Pole.

The Lego Batman Movie is a visually intriguing production, and a real payoff for longtime Batfans. However, this version of Batman is a gross exaggeration of the Dark Knight, even by parody standards. For a better Lego adaptation of Bats, albeit of a lower production value, it's better to stick with the "official" Lego Batman/Justice League animated projects and video games.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Batrololol

ANI-MOVIES, *DC Super Hero Girls: Intergalactic Games

Branching out from the online animated series, Intergalactic Games is the second made-for-video full-length movie made for the DC Super Hero Girls line. Probably taking place sometime during what is now Season 3 of the web series, this shows teenage versions of most of the various DC Comics characters all attending Super Hero High School in Metropolis, mostly used as a vehicle to sell dolls, similar to how Batman Unlimited was intended to sell action figures.

The Intergalactic Games comes to Earth where Super Hero High is competing with the only other school, Korugar Academy, composed mostly of alien bad guys like Sinestro, Mongal, Maxima, Lobo, and Starfire's sister Blackfire. Later, the Female Furies arrive to represent Apokalips, although their real intention is to steal some advanced robot tech that teacher Doc Magnus used to create the Metal Men. Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Starfire, and Bumblebee represent SHHS in the game, while Lena Luthor is planning on using Magnus' tech along with a reprogrammed Platinum to take down the superheroes. It's later revealed that Lena was secretly working with Brainiac who shows up after the games end to act as a stand in "final boss" for the heroes to fight.

This was a decent outing for the Super Hero Girls, although there was less of a coherent plot, and acted more like a series of plots loosely tied together to form a "movie". It might have worked better as just a season of the web show. It's interesting to see some re-imagined DC characters, like a teenage version of the original 70s Black Orchid, or a Yellow Lantern version of Red Lantern Bleez. But the film is mostly for younger viewers with substandard animation.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Spider-Man's Invisible Jet?


Spider-Man: Homecoming. Phrasing! Boom!


Aw Shit...Spider-Man!

ANI-MOVIES, *April And The Extraordinary World

Created as an international production between Belgian, Canadian, and French studios, this full-length animated movie is done as one of the few steampunk stories that takes place outside of the normal given boundaries of the average points in time that would normally carry over into the "deiselpunk" era. Inspired by the artworks of cartoonist Jacque, this is an original story that spans decades set in an alternate history version of Europe.

Beginning in 1870, Napoleon the 3rd comes to inspect a new weapon his leading scientist Gustave Franklin, but instead of his army of super ape soldiers he was hoping for, Nappy III gets a pair of super-intelligent reptiles(possibly dinosaurs). In his anger, Napoleon causes a lab accident leading to his own premature death along with Gustav Franklin. Over the next few decades, several different "Napoleons" take up the leadership of France, while the rest of the world suffers from having their most brilliant scientists go missing. Due to this, there were no World Wars, and mankind's technology has been reduced to a slow pace with still relying on producing steam. In 1931, Gustav's grandson Pops along with his own grandson Paul, Paul's wife Annette, and their daughter April, have created special elixir which gave their cat Darwin that enables him the powers of speech and human intelligence. However, the French government is rounding up every scientist they can to bolster their arsenal, and track the Franklins down to their secret hideout, which has Pops going missing, and April's parents seemingly disintegrated by a bizarre thundercloud that chased them. Cut to 1941 where April has been living in secret on her own with Darwin. Meanwhile, a French policeman is tracking April down for any connection to her family, and using a vagrant pickpocket named Julius to do his legwork for him. Julius ends up falling for April, and joins her after she finally gets word that her parents are still alive, along with reuniting with her grandfather Pops as they unite to try to find out the conspiracy of the missing scientists, all while being chased by the French government.

The animation in this has its own unique style of animation and the look of the characters, very reminiscent of The Adventures Of Tintin, while blending in the feel of The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec comic that also got its own French-created live-action movie. Those who have seen A Cat In Paris should be familiar with the quirky style of storytelling that usually goes into a European high adventure/chase plot when it comes to this film. It makes for an interesting all-ages movie to, featuring American voice actors like Susan Sarandon, J.K. Simmons, and Paul Giamatti, even though they are mainly playing supporting characters. For real makes for an excellent entry in any steampunk movie marathon!

Friday, June 16, 2017

ANI-MOVIES, *Vixen: The Movie

Spinning off from the "Arrowverse", this online animated series was edited together into this video release. Taking place in the same universe as Arrow and Flash, this spinoff shows the origin story of a member of the ill-fated Justice League Detroit from back in the early 80s, but in modern day with a heroine discovering her magical heritage.

Starting up with our heroine Mari being chased by both Flash and Arrow, we then flashback to her to her hometown of Detroit after getting bailed out by her foster father, but getting held up by thugs who want her mother's necklace which gives her the magical power to use the abilities of whatever animal she can think of. This leads Mari to discovering that the necklace is really an enchanted totem from Africa that her influential sister wants to use to avenge the destruction of their village. After going back to Mari's first meetup with Arrow and Flash seeing if she's a meta-human(person given superpowers), she then gets kidnapped by her sister Kuasa, taking her to Africa in an attempt to claim the totem for herself. Mari manages to call on the spirits of the animals to defeat Kuasa, Mari returns to Detroit where she's confronted again by Arrow and Flash who give her the name "Vixen" as she uses her newfound powers to protect the people. The story then skips ahead to about a year later where Vixen helps Flash and Firestorm stop Weather Wizard. From this point on, the rest of what is the second season has Vixen locking horns with the user of another totem which gives him firebending powers, and having to call on help from Black Canary(the 2nd one)and The Atom, along with her now-waterbending sister.

The movie collects both seasons of the internet series(12 episodes), which was directed by most of the regular creators of the WB superhero live-action shows, which does come through quite clearly as the flow of the story is more sporadic than a full-length story. It seemed more interested in trying to shoehorn Vixen in the rest of the Arrowverse than actually fleshing out the title character, which so far has lead to having Vixen showing up in a single episode of Arrow that was portrayed by the animated series voice actress Megalyn Echikunwoke that actually fits Vixen in 4-D. The animation is good, although not up to the same standards as the regular DCU animated films. It's worth possibly renting it on its own, or just watching it for free on the CW Seed website.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

MISC. MANGA, *Clockwork Planet

With a recent anime TV series adaptation, Clockwork Planet is shaping into a pretty popular manga. No Game No Life writer Yuu Kamiya teamed up with artist Tsubaki Himana to come out with this steampunk-themed post-apocalypse sci-fi story.

Set over a millennium after the Earth was made over by a brilliant creator known as "Y", the world is at this time one big "clockwork planet" with cities built on giant gears and sprockets. Young student Naoto Miura runs across a very dynamic gynoid called RyuZU who he reactivates with his technical know-how. She accepts him as her new master after sucking his thumb, although RyuZU appears to have exceptionally advanced circuitry. This connects to an investigation being lead by Marie Breguet, a machine master called a "meister" who suspects the main company in charge of the operation of the gear cities is planning to sabotage one of the lower class sections and have it be destroyed(similar to Shinra in Final Fantasy VII).

Clockwork Planet was originally a series of four light novels that soon adapted into this ongoing manga. It features some pretty stunning artwork, and a compelling story, even if it does take a little while to have the two main plots come together into a single storyline.

I should grow a "Batee".


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Aku Drive Thru

ANI-MOVIES, *Teen Titans: The Judas Contract


After nearly a decade on the schedule, Warner Bros. finally got around to coming out with what was going to be one of their first few DC animated made-for-video movies. The Judas Contract was one of the big story arcs from The New Teen Titans comic series during the mid-80's by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. This has the teenage superheroes finally butting heads with the hitman Deathstroke(aka: Slade), which was played out during Season 2 of the Teen Titans TV series.

The movie starts out during the early days of the Teen Titans which is lead by Dick Grayson as Robin, along with Beast Boy, Kid Flash, Bumblebee, and Speedy as they rescue the alien Starfire from an army of space thugs. Cut to a few years later(sometime after Justice League Vs. Teen Titans)where Starfire is now leader, plus Beast Boy, Raven, Robin(Damien Wayne), Terra, and the current Blue Beetle. They collaborate with Dick Grayson who now goes by Nightwing to take down a criminal group called HIVE, secretly lead by cult televangelist Brother Blood. Blood hired Deathstroke who is apparently still alive after Son Of Batman and stronger than before with the purpose of capturing the Titans so he can absorb their powers. Deathstroke planted the earth-manipulator Terra in their ranks to learn their secrets. First capturing Robin, Terra then proceeds to help Slade take down the rest of the Titans, but Nightwing managed to escape. Deathstroke betrays Terra by giving her to Brother Blood who hooks the Titans up to his power-sucking machine, and turns himself into a DC Comics version of the Super-Skrull. Nightwing busts in freeing the Titans, and Raven uses her magic to remove the superpowers from Blood. Terra ends up burying herself resulting in her death. The story changes to sometime later with Beast Boy doing a podcast with the actual Kevin Smith about Terra's impact on the team, plus a certain new member whose joined the team. There's also a post-credits scene of a certain kid with a blonde afro!

The Judas Contract was a much better Teen Titans movie than the previous Justice League crossover, especially with the flashback at the beginning with the original Titans. Hopefully, this will lead into at least one more Titans movie with the bonus characters teased at the end of the film.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

MISC. MANGA, *Zombies Assemble

After doing a nearly endless succession of Marvel Zombies comics, a Japanese take on the idea is done for Zombies Assemble. Set in a carbon copy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ixion Saga creator Yusaku Komiyama has also previously worked on a manga prequel to the Avengers: Age Of Ultron movie which has yet to be released in English(similarly to the Cloverfield manga), and carried that on to this undead outbreak.

Featuring most of the cast from the first Avengers movie, Pepper Potts throws a birthday party for Iron Man/Tony Stark, but one of the guests is infected with a zombie virus which spreads through human contact. Before the Avengers can go an help the rest of New York from turning into the City of the Damned, Thor becomes infected as he's unworthy of holding his hammer, and infects Black Widow as well. With two of their members in quarantine, it's up to Stark and Bruce Banner to come up with a cure, although it's symptoms seem familiar to Tony somehow.

This was released in two separate issues in Japan, and is being printed the same way in America, but in right-to-left format which is rare for a single comic book issue nowadays. No word yet if there's going to be a collected edition of both issues, so you might wanna grab this eerie adventure while its out.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

OBSCURE O.V.A.S, *Special Combat Duty Shinesman

With Power Rangers now with a new film, Shinesman should catch your eye. Originally based on a still-as-yet to be released in English manga, this 2-episode OVA series sentai parody was a Production I.G. release came out in the mid-90s, but was put out in America through Media Blasters with an exceptionally of the walls dub!

Instead of 5 teenagers with attitude, the Shinesman(singular)are a quintet of young adults working for a trading company who secretly protects the Earth under the leadership of human resources head Kyoko, who established the Shinesman after the alien princess provided them with their equipment to defend themselves from space invaders. The evil aliens in question is Prince Sasaki, his brainwashed assistant Seki, and Sasaki's dizzy cousin Princess Shiina who arrives to help with the takeover. The Shinesman themselves have their own take on traditional superhero colors like Shinesman Red, Grey, Moss Green, Sepia, and Salmon Pink, all of which picked their colors based on their own personal preferences. Grey picked his because his beloved SUV is grey, Salmon Pink because she likes salmon desserts, etc. The main bulk of the OVA's plot has the Shinesman protecting an amusement park from Shiina with her "monster of the week" attacks.

The OVA has been dubbed in English by Coastal Recording, who did the bulk of dubbing for Animeigo and some Bandai releases, and has gone down as being one of the secret fan favorites among America otaku. The dub was conducted similarly to shows like Samurai Pizza Cats, Duel Masters, and Ghost Stories as it was given alot of freedom to take it's own direction by making even a more satirical version of a parody. With superhero lines like, "I can't die now! I've got a date with Turkish twins!", totally stealing the show. The anime has been released on dubbed and subtitled VHS, as well as DVD, and has been out of print for a while, but you can still rent it from Netflix, plus several used video sellers.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

OBSCURE O.V.A.S, *Gatchaman

First titled Gatchaman '94, this 3-episodes OVA series was a 90s remake of the original 1970s TV series. Key animator Yasuomi Umetsu, who created Kite and Mezzo Forte, had also worked on two other remakes of Tatsunoko series, Hurricane Polymore and Casshern. This was slightly edgier, and war more fan service-y adaptation of the original "five teenagers with attitude"!

Set in the mid-21st Century, a rising nation creates its own world power, but is secretly a front for the alien invasion force known as the Galactor, lead by the gender-bewildering Solaris. To counter this, the UN sends out their science ninja team, Gatchaman, a quintet of costumed teens who can take on entire armies and giant mechas with their superior weapons and tech. Their stellar ship the Phoenix can even turn into a giant fiery bird that can plow through nearly anything. The battle is on between super-heroic bird-themed ninjas and aliens in mod-ugly uniforms.

Gatchaman was first put on VHS and DVD by the now defunct Urban Vision, but was recently re-released by Sentai Filmworks, along with most of the other Gatchaman titles, most of which have brand new dubs to them. If you'd like a streamlined version of the first season of the 70s TV series with some lightning-quick action, then this is sure to please any fan of Marvel Comics!

Ugh! Again with this "Godzilla Vs." crap!