Kill Me Baby: That’s the title, put down the knife

Kill me Baby is a slice of life comedy from 2012. It’s based on an ongoing manga by Kaduho that started in 2008 and the anime was adapted by J.C. Staff. They’re not exactly strangers to either slice of life or comedic works, having also done such anime as Azumanga Daioh, Hachimitsu to Clover, Potemayo, Love Stage & Nodame Cantabile. So, given that history, the worst we can expect is sub-par and the best is excellent. Then again, they could always hit a new low or high. Let’s examine the series and see how it compares.

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Story:

Yasuna is an ordinary student. Her best friend, Sonya, is an assassin. The two of them go to school and spend a lot of time together. This results in all kinds shenanigans. So, this is essentially a school comedy where the twist is that one of the characters is an assassin.

The humour is based around a blend of quirky character comedy and physical humour. The biggest flaw with the comedy is definitely that some of the pay offs are really obvious. For example, there’s a joke where Yasuna is telling Sonya to treat her like a dog and asks to be given a command. The first command you’d guess is probably the exact one that gets given. There are other jokes like that but, in all fairness to the series, most of them only partly rely on the pay off while partly relying on the character reactions for the humour and the reactions are usually pretty funny. The humour, in general, works quite well. The physical comedy is kind of reminiscent of the physical comedy in Azumanga Daioh. The school comedy is a bit more similar to A-Channel with every episode containing short comedic moments, usually only thinly connected to each other, broken up by transitions. In general, it is entertaining and funny stuff.

Where the assassin gimmick pays off is that it allows for some different scenarios than you would normally get in this type of anime and some responses that are unique. It gives the series its own sense of identity as opposed to the usual “group of high school girls doing every day things in a quirky fashion.” Of course, different isn’t necessarily good and there are certainly times when the humour here doesn’t work. In addition to the aforementioned obvious jokes there are times when the physical humour goes a bit too far and crosses the line into being a bit uncomfortable. At least it doesn’t take the physical humour anywhere close to the degree that Bokusatsu Tenshi did.

In terms of non-comedic elements, the transitions are awful. Every episode has multiple transition screens where the lines “kill me baby” & “baby please kill me” will be spoken before moving on. It’s not even the length of them that’s the issue so much as it is that they’re annoying. I do have to give the series some credit as well. The ending does have a fairly sweet moment that really works.

Characters:

This series is also different from the usual school comedy in that the cast of characters is pretty small. We have our two major characters, Yasuna and Sonya. We also have Agiri, a ninja and Unusued character, a girl who shows up on rare occasions and never interacts with the other three. The interactions between Yasuna and Sonya are a bit reminiscent of those betwixt Yomi & Tomo from Azumanga. Yasuna is the high energy, crazy one who gets into all kinds of trouble while Sonya is the more subdued one who gets dragged into the mess. Agiri is more a really laid back character who actively trolls the other two while Unused character just really wants to get involved in things but can never manage it. For comedic purposes, it works pretty well but it can be a bit much at times. Here’s the thing, when you’ve got a really high energy character in a comedic work they can be great, but you start to grow a bit weary of their hijinks when you don’t get a break from them. With Azumanga, they gave you that break by having segments that focused on other characters. You don’t get that here since Yasuna and Sonya are there constantly.

Art:

Kill Me Baby uses even more basic art than a lot of slice of life anime. The background characters are largely indistinct white blobs. The backgrounds themselves frequently look very basic and bland. The character designs of those few characters we actually get are based around having very plain bodies with simple heads that are too large for the bodies. The animation is basically functional but nothing great. The best it gets is the dance in the ending theme tune and that’s not exactly at the level of the dances from the PreCure franchise.

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Sound:

The big weakness of the acting comes during the transitions. Every time they say the line “Baby, please kill me” they try to do it in a different, quirky way and a good ninety percent of the time it turns out to be really annoying. It’s like they were trying to judge how bad they could make them before audiences started turning the program off whenever it reached one. Little did they realise that a mute button exists. That being said, our main cast does a good job. Takabe Ai, Akasaki Chinatsu, Tamura Mutsumi & Kugimiya Rie all deliver their lines very well and it really serves to make the comedy work, when the comedic moments are strong. In terms of music, the background music works nicely. I liked the ending theme tune, didn’t like the opening. The problem with the opening is that, like with the transitions, it’s overly fond of repeating itself and it uses a lot of spoken words. It’s less a song and more people talking while loud music plays. The effect is outright obnoxious.

Ho-yay:

There’s quite a bit. Yasuna is very enthusiastic about getting closer to Sonya. She wants them to run along the beach like a couple and there’s more than one part where she very blatantly wants Sonya to touch her. I think she might be a masochist looking for Sonya to “punish” her. I also think Sonya’s totally okay with that. 

Final Thoughts:

Kill Me Baby is a pretty entertaining series. There are parts that are too obvious or otherwise don’t work but, as a whole, it’s bloody funny and the twist of having an assassin character does work in its favour. In the end, I give it a solid 7/10. It’s a good series. Next week I’ll move on to a request I’ve been working at for a while, Hunter x Hunter 2011.

Idol Project: Lol, Random

Today we’ll be looking at an OVA from the mid-90s. Idol Project was a work by Studio Ox. If you haven’t heard of them, it’s not surprising. They’ve mostly done production assistance and design work on anime spear-headed by other studios. I can’t say I’ve ever seen an anime where they were the driving force before. So, this’ll be a first. It was written by Amano Hiromitsu & Arakawa Naruhisa. Arakwa may sound familiar since he wrote the anime adaptations for Spice and Wolf, Upotte & Terra Formars Revenge. Which isn’t exactly a record to boast about since the best of those was Spice and Wolf and the other two were quite bad and sub-par respectively. Then again, those were adaptations and this is an original work. So, we’ll see how he does with that.

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Story:

We open with our protagonist, fourteen year old Mimu, going to the Starland festival for her idol audition. On her way there, she gets caught up in all kinds of random events involving the six excellent idols. She barely makes her audition and is about to sing when she and the excellent idols are kidnapped by aliens. From there, more randomness ensues.

Therein lies the big issue with the OVA. The “humour” is based on random events happening. In the first episode, it’s the random things while she’s trying to audition. In the second, it’s random events that happen during a highly haphazard competition. In the third episodes she’s caught up in a bunch of inane nonsense while trying to make a delivery and randomness does not, in and of itself, equate to humour. Randomness can be funny when you have some kind of deliberate set up that ends in an unexpected non sequitur, and if you’re going to have a lot of it you need a good pay off or a clever logic to it that works when you think about it. It doesn’t work when everything that happens is just random nonsense. Consequently, the comedy largely just leaves you scratching your head or rolling your eyes rather than laughing.

The best thing I can say for the OVA is that the comedy is largely inoffensive. It’s stupid and it barely registers as comedy but it isn’t actively annoying, for the most part.

Characters:

There’s really nothing to the characters in this. They’re only one step above your average harem characters. They’re all very basic archetypes. You’ve got the dumb martial artist, the child, the obvious lesbian, the bad girl, the elegant young lady, the tranquil Buddhist & the ordinary protagonist who manages to have big dreams in lieu of a real personality. At least they didn’t do the Baka to Test thing and make fun of the obvious lesbian because… someone being gay is inherently funny?

Here’s the thing about under-written characters in a comedy. They can work if you can give them dynamics that offer a lot of comedic possibilities and you take advantage of those. In this series, we don’t get that. The comedy is based less on the character interactions and almost entirely on the random events. So, having under-written archetypes for characters doesn’t work in this context.

Art:

The artwork and animation in this are frequently lazy. The parts where they seem to put the most effort are the ones designed to be fan-servicey. Because when you have a fourteen year old protagonist it’s vital to see her panties because… class is something for other works.

I’ve seen so many trashy, fan-service heavy portrayals of way too young characters in anime at this point that I’m probably on some government watch list. And people wonder why anime fans have a bad reputation. It’s this sort of thing. 

Sound:

The performances in this are kind of weak. They got some good actresses. Hisakawa Aya, Kanai Mika & Inoue Kikuko are all in this. Their performances in this are just lacklustre. The music is decent but really could have used more effort considering that this is an OVA about idols.

Ho-yay:

There’s a little bit with Corvette and her clear interest in our heroine but there’s never any sign that it’s reciprocated.

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Final Thoughts:

That’s Idol Project, a stupid, unfunny OVA from the mid 90s. Ultimately, the series is one that just falls short in every regard. The characters are weak, the comedy is weak, the acting is weak, the art is generally weak, at times delving into outright trashy territory. It’s a dumb little OVA that I can’t really recommend digging up. My final rating is a “solid” 3/10. Next week I’ll look at something a bit longer with Kill Me Baby (That’s the name of the anime, put the blunt objects down.)

Palme no Ki: The Little Tree Robot Pinocchio

Palme no Ki is a film that first aired in 2002. It was the début work of Palm Studio. Which I only know as the studio behind Genshiken. The film was written and directed by Nakamura Takashi. Who also did animation work on Nausicaa. How does this film hold up? Let’s take a look and see.

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Story:

We open with a woman battling through a group of dudes. We then quickly cut to a large tree where a humanoid robot, Palme, is hanging. He activates and begins moving. A little dragon sees this and fetches an elderly man, Palme’s creator. The old man worries about what kind of tree Palme might become, since he’s apparently constructed in such a way that he’ll become a tree at some point. A tree shaped by its memories. It turns out that he was built to look after the woman who used to live in that area but he stopped moving after she died. Things shift when the woman from the opening scene shows up. Palme mistakes her for his former mistress and agrees to look after the mechanical looking egg she’s carrying. Thus begins Palme’s journey.

The biggest story issue is that the character conflicts can be pretty contrived. There’s a point where Palme and his young friend Popo are yelling about how the other one seems different but we’ve only seen them interact for, maybe, ten minutes and the whole impetus behind their fight is kind of weak. So, it comes across as a fight based on them barely knowing each other rather than on anything substantial. Palme also freaks out at a different friend because he asks to see the egg Palme’s carrying even though Palme hasn’t shown that much protectiveness towards it before and he has no special reason to be paranoid. It’s not like Frodo lashing out at Samwise when there’s a clear story reason behind it it’s just Palme randomly deciding he can’t trust this guy based on… the dude saving his life multiple times. And you know you’ve gotta be wary of that type.

That aspect aside, there are a lot of elements to admire in the story. I like that it builds suspense on the basis of this tree transformation. A lot of the tension does come from this ominous idea of just what kind of tree he might become and we see him do quite a few things that make that a cause for concern. Honestly, it also makes for kind of a refreshing change since his personal journey is, ultimately, of greater import than the physical journey. The film is also really good at taking a lot of seemingly disparate elements and tying them together by the end and at providing foreshadowing for how they’re going to do it. Which makes for a tale that’s very well woven. The pacing is well done. The climax is compelling and well executed.

Characters:

The main cast is pretty nicely done. One issue is that the film might go a bit too far in setting up the possibility of Palme going badly. To the point where it’s pretty hard to have sympathy for him after a while. Instead, you find yourself concerned for Popo, Shatta and the other major characters and what Palme going bad would do to them. I do like that none of the antagonistic characters are portrayed as being all bad. The one that comes the closest is Popo’s mum, but even with her her faults are very human and she’s not entirely unsympathetic.

Art:

The biggest flaw with the art is that the facial expressions can be off at times. Characters will go cross-eyed or they’ll be having an intense moment and have an expression of slight annoyance. However, the world design is really well done. With amazing backgrounds, creature designs and various technologies. The action moves very well and the designs are interesting. So, in general it is a nice looking film. It just has the occasional awkward moment.

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Sound:

There are some really good actors cast in this. The best performances come, no question, from Toyoguchi Megumi & Sakaguchi Daisuke. There are no weak links in the cast, though. They all do nice work. The music is also well done. It works well for the atmosphere and action.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any to be found.

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately, Palme no Ki is a really good film. It has some issues that hold it back, but it has a good level of complexity, interesting characters, a strong narrative, a great cast and lovely artwork. My final rating is going to stand at a solid 8/10. Next week I’ll look at Idol Project.

July Bonus Review: Spider-man Unlimited

The late 90s were a bad time for Marvel cartoons. There were animated versions of the Avengers, Spider-man & Silver Surfer and none of them lasted for longer than a single series. So, where exactly did Marvel and Saban go wrong with these properties? I might look at the other two later and give a really detailed answer, but I’ll start with a look at Spider-man Unlimited and let’s see where it went wrong.

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Story:

We open with John Jameson preparing to launch to the newly discovered, mysterious, Counter-Earth. Peter Parker is taking pictures when he notices Venom and Carnage sneaking aboard the shuttle. He goes to stop them but fails. The shuttle launches with them aboard and crashes on Counter-Earth, seemingly killing John. Naturally, the public blames Spider-man because no one noticed the symbiotes going aboard or happened to take video of the historic launch. Because why would you? Eventually, a video comes from John Jameson explaining that he’s on Counter-Earth and warning of some kind of danger that could threaten Earth if it’s not stopped. Spidey responds by hijacking a shuttle and going to Counter-Earth. Not to deal with the situation he just wants to bring John back. Does he seem like the type of heroic person who would face that kind of threat? He finds out that this new Earth is a lot like ours, but it’s got beast people and normal people and the beast people are in charge under the High Evolutionary.

There are two massive issues with this cartoon and I’ll list them both before explaining how they come into play since they’re frequently connected. The first is that it never really commits to its Counter-Earth gimmick. The second is that the writers can’t be bothered to think anything through. Let’s look at Spidey’s journey to Counter-Earth. He announces to everyone that he’s going to rescue John and clear his name. Then, in the exact same voice, he tries to explain why he’s going as Peter Parker in a truly pitiful attempt to salvage his secret identity. To make this even more inexplicable, he tries to hide the fact that Peter Parker is there from John because if John knew he’d figure out the truth. Now, think about that for a moment. Literally everyone on regular Earth knows. If them knowing is a give away, your secret identity is over. Period. There’s no need to try and hide it any more. John’ll just find out when he returns and learns that Parker left with Spidey. But the writers want to keep the secret identity because it’s in the comics and everyone knows that element of Spider-man stories.

The symbiotes are another great example. In this cartoon, the symbiotes are part of a great hive mind called “the Synoptic” but they still talk to one another like two separate beings because they wanted them to retain something of their unique identities. They also display new powers, becoming liquefied or opening holes in their chests to let projectile weapons pass through them. However, in spite of that, we’re still expected to believe that they have human hosts. Because Cletus Kasadt really has no torso and Eddie Brock can become mush. It makes perfect sense until you spend a millisecond thinking about it.

Spidey’s motivations  are also impacted by this combination of not wanting to commit and generally not thinking. He keeps whining that it’s not his planet or his fight because the writers don’t want to have a story about Spidey as a resistance fighter. They want him to swing around New Yory city, yes Counter-Earth has its own, and fight bad guys, including Counter-Earth versions of Kraven & Electro, because it’s more similar to what he actually does. Seriously, if you just wanted to have Spidey swinging around and fighting crime you should’ve just skipped the whole Counter-Earth bollocks.

There are some smaller issues too. The final episode ends on a cliffhanger, because they wanted to punish the five invested viewers they had. Spidey’s signature wit is basically absent. I mean, they try, but they’re really bad at it. For example, when he meets the knights of Wundagor Lady Vermin says they shouldn’t fight because he looks fair to her eyes and he responds with “And you look most rat-like to my own.” Somehow, she considers this flattery even though it’s just a description. Does she also think it’s flattery when someone says that she’s pale? There’s a point where Venom says he’s history and his response, in Unlimited fashion, is to say that History was never his best subject. He prefers Phys Ed, before knocking some support pillars over. That’s the best he could come up with in that situation? What about “History’s written by the winners. You’ll never decide what goes in the books.” or maybe “I just hope they remember my ability to bring the house down.” Either of those would have been much better and fit the character better. And there are moments that don’t make sense, like the guy who can become moving bandages being unable to use his powers to escape a cage with openings that he should be able to fit through.

Characters:

Here’s another major failing of the cartoon. These characters are boring. There’s no reason to care about anyone in the resistance because they’re such non-characters. the High Evolutionary was more interesting in the one episode of the 90s X-men cartoon he appeared in than he manages to be in the entirety of this where he’s the big bad. Then again, that show had competent writing. This version of Spider-man comes across as whiny and completely lacking in endearing qualities.

Art:

I can give the artwork some praise. There are some nice visuals and the action sequences look fine. There are some issues. Spidey’s new costume is trying way too hard to be “extreme.” Most of the symbiotes look identical and leave identical growths on their hosts which is boring and causes you to question what makes the ones we’re familiar with different besides the writing being terrible. This series also has the most unimaginative tattoos. John has one that just looks like the pencil outline of a crescent moon. And there’s another dude in the Resistance who has one that’s just the word “Mum.”

Sound:

The acting is mostly passable enough. It’s not good, but it’s functional. Then there’s Rhys Huber. He is truly awful. Michael Donovan is a bit rubbish too, but nowhere near that bad. The music is, likewise, pretty passable but not good.

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately, I think this series failed because of unlimited poor decisions. It can’t decide whether it wants to do the same old types of stories or have its Counter-Earth gimmick and the result is a mess. There are constant dumb writing choices that are, frankly, insulting to the audience. Because kids aren’t stupid. They can tell that there’s something off when it’s that blatant about it. In general, it’s just bad. My final rating on this one is going to stand at a 3/10. If you guys are interested, maybe I’ll look at the other two at another time and explore why they failed to grab audiences.

Tsuritama: Melding the Mechanics of Fishing with Comedy

Tsuritama is a science fiction comedy from 2012. It was written by Ono Toshiya and produced by A-1 Pictures. Yes, the studio that brought us Kuroshitsuji, Sword Art Online & Boku dake ga Inai Machi among others. In other words, their quality varies quite a bit. I haven’t really heard anything about this anime, so I’m going into it pretty blind. Let’s see how well it compares to the other A-1 anime I’ve reviewed.

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Story:

Yuki is a highly introverted lad who moves a lot. After moving to Enoshima, his life turns around. Another transfer student, Haru, comes into class and introduces himself as an alien. He then insists that Yuki go fishing with him to save the world. Shenanigans incoming.

The first noticeable issue with this series is that there’s a lot of technical talk on the mechanics of fishing and it’s all really tedious and completely uninteresting. Look, I know that your comedy here is using fishing as its method to save the world but that doesn’t mean there’s anything comedic about long explanations of how to catch mahi mahi or the proper way to cast. I would go so far as to say that that time could have been better spent on amusing hijinks. Another issue is that the series doesn’t really take full advantage of the comedic possibilities of its premise. This is a series about aliens who can control humans with water and an alien teaming up with some humans to save the world by fishing. That’s a premise that’s so patently ridiculous that it shouldn’t be that hard to make laughs happen. But they downplay the comedic elements in favour of teaching us the mechanics of fishing.

That being said, those moments where they do embrace the absurdity tend to work pretty well. The funniest scenes all centre around Haru too. I will also say that some of the quieter, emotional moments are, surprisingly, really good. The scene where Yuki tells his grandmother how much she means to him in particular.

Characters:

Tsuritama is a bit unusual in the regard that the major characters really vary. Haru is good for comedic scenes but not so much for anything more serious. Yuki can work in both, but has his strongest scenes in the more serious moments. Natsuki largely plays the straight man in the comedic bits and works better for the more emotional moments. Akira is just a flat, predictable character. The side characters largely exist to play off of the main cast and provide them with strong moments. The only ones who really stand out are Yuki’s grandmother and Natsuki’s father & sister.

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Art:

The artwork is pretty well done. There’s a lot of effort put into making the water, fish and fishing equipment look polished. The character designs are a bit lacklustre, but functional. The animation is solidly done.

Sound:

The acting is pretty solid. We’ve got the talents of Irino Miyu, Osaka Ryota, Sugita Tomokazu, Uchiyama Kouki & various others. The performances are generally good for what they’re doing. They can carry the comedic parts and sound like they’re reading from the world’s dullest instruction manual when explaining the mechanics of fishing or repeating them to show us that their character understands them. Osaka Ryota does a great job with the emotional stuff. The music is okay. Probably not anything I’d listen to again, but it’s functional.

Ho-yay:

There are some moments betwixt Yuki and Haru where I question whether they’re really just friends but there aren’t many.

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately, Tsuritama is a series that has its charming and funny moments but it’s also a bit of a slog with stretches of tedium to get through before reaching those moments. In the end, its good moments elevate it above mediocrity, but it’s not a superb series. It’s just okay. My final rating is going to be a 6/10. If you really love the mechanics of fishing, you’ll probably like it better than I did. Next week I’ll look at Palme no Ki.

Chocolate Underground: Fighting the Power for confectioneries

Chocolate Underground is a short ONA from 2008. It was brought to us by Production IG & Trans Arts. Because it’s completely necessary to have two studios work on thirteen episodes that run for five minutes each. It’s based off of the novel Bootleg, by British novelist Alex Shearer. You know, the bloke what wrote The Greatest Store in the World. That’s the actual title, not me praising him. It was directed by Hamana Takayuki. Who also did director work on Prince of Tennis, which I haven’t seen but am bringing up because it’s well known & directed a few episodes of Psycho Pass, which isn’t a bad sign. So, let’s look at the ONA and see how well it holds up.

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Story:

Our narrative is set in a dystopian future where the Good For You party has banned all sweets, including chocolate. You wouldn’t think that would be a winning political platform but they were against Cyborg Trump and Mecha Theresa May. Two lads with names that sound like they should go with raider bosses in Fallout, Smudger and Huntley, are determined to eat chocolate again. So, they set out to find people who are illegally manufacturing and distributing it. Which starts them on their own path to stand up to the Good For You party.

Honestly, there are a lot of minor issues here that the target audience will likely not notice. The absurd, overblown action sequences of chocolate detecting robots chasing our heroes are quite silly. At one point one of our heroes somehow manages to escape from an internment facility in the old “one child stands on another’s shoulders with a heavy coat over them” routine that would never work. There are several completely gratuitous, one-sided crushes that do nothing but waste time. Seriously, these episodes are around five minutes each. We don’t need filler. We also get a lot of ridiculous “purple prose” moments where our heroes are just talking about the unbridled majesty that is chocolate. I know she has that heavily sexualised dominatrix outfit, but that’s taking things a bit far, isn’t it? These kids act like she saved all of humanity while writing episodes of the best kids’ show out there.

With all that being said, the overblown aesthetic does have its appeal. I will also give the series credit for having a strong sense of tension. The episodes are short, so each one has to concisely end at a point that will get people interested in what’s coming next and give it somewhere to go. Which the series manages very well. It’s also where the series gets its strongest moments.

Characters:

The biggest issue with the characters is that they aren’t the most consistent group out there. There are a couple kids who are established early on as being very obedient towards the party. One might even say zealous for it, but then they change sides with no foreshadowing or prior indication that something wasn’t kosher about their relation to the party. As a whole, the characters are just kind of mediocre. They’re very basic archetypes. The only character who really moves beyond that is one who seems like a generic bad guy but turns out to be actually doing what he thinks is the will of the people which results in a shift that makes sense.

Art:

On the positive side, the character designs are nicely done. The animation is fairly smooth and the action sequences, though they can be ridiculous, are interesting to watch. On the negative side, a lot of the world objects, especially vehicles, look very low effort. Almost like the artists spent about ten minutes drawing them in a basic paint program and called it acceptable.

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Sound:

the acting is passable. The performances aren’t brilliant. I’ve heard better from Toyonaga Toshiyuki, Mizusawa Fumie, Takahashi Mikako & Nakagawa Rie. That being said, they aren’t bad performances either. They’re functional. I could say the same for the music, actually.

Ho-yay:

There is none. All the entirely pointless one-sided crushes are het.

Final Thoughts:

So, that’s Chocolate Underground, based on the children’s book, Bootleg. All in all, I think it’s a work that small children can enjoy. As for its appeal to older audiences, it’s all right. It’s probably not the type of kid’s show you’d seek out if you weren’t actively trying to entertain a child, but it’s one you could put on without being annoyed or even finding something else to occupy yourself with. My final rating is going to be a 6/10. Next week I’ll take a look at Tsuritama.

June Bonus Review: Muppet Fairy Tales

chances are you’re at least passingly familiar with The Muppets,  a franchise created by Jim Henson and based around a lovable cast of quirky puppets. The Muppet show started way back in the mid-70s and was a rousing success. It spawned a lot of films, specials, sequels and more. Today, I’m going to be looking at a direct to video instalment, Muppet Fairy Tales. It was released in ’94, a couple years before Muppet Treasure Island. 

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Story:

We  open with Gonzo the whatever and Rizzo the rat introducing the idea for the film. A series of fairy tale adaptations based on the Three Little Pigs, King Midas, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Rumpelstiltskin, The Emperor’s New Clothes & The Elves and the Shoemaker. All told in the iconic Muppet style.

That might be the biggest flaw with the work. We have six different fairy tales, and a variety of transition shenanigans, in around an hour and a quarter. As a result, it doesn’t feel like they take full advantage of any of the scenarios.

That being said, what they do have is pretty solidly done. The meta humour is nicely executed and there are a lot of really funny scenes. The way they learn Rumpelstiltskin’s name, Ms. Piggy against the big bad wolf & Rizzo tricking Emperor Fozzie are all great moments that lead to an enjoyable viewing experience.

Characters:

I can’t really claim they include all your favourite muppets in this. The main ones we see are Gonzo, Rizzo, Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie & Robin. There are several noticeably absences like Rowlf, Sam & Electric Mayhem. I’d include Tim Curry but he wouldn’t become an honorary muppet for a couple years. Honestly, I  think they made the right call. They don’t need every single character to show up just for the sake of having them and the cast they have works well for what they’re doing.

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Cinematography & Visuals:

There are quite a few well done aspects to the visuals. The muppets themselves are well designed. I like the set designs too. They’re deliberately designed to look like something you’d see in a community theatre. The biggest issue with the visuals is the choreography  for the musical numbers. Yes, every fairy tale has a song attached to it and most of them are pretty lazy with the choreography. The first one we get has Miss Piggy and the other little pigs kind of wandering in circles while occasionally stepping forward to sing to the camera. The Rumpelstiltskin one pretty much involves the characters swaying from side to side. Yeah, I get that they’re working with puppets here but they could do something more visually interesting.

Acting & Music:

All in all, the acting is well done. Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire and Frank Oz are all in their traditional roles, this was after Whitmire took over as Kermit. There is an awkward moment where Goelz takes over as Rizzo for a brief scene but it’s only for a couple lines and not a big issue. That being said, the musical numbers in this are weak. There have been a lot of excellent Muppet songs over the years. The Rainbow Connection, Saying Goodbye, Moving Right Along, I’m Going to Go Back There Someday, Together Again and many others. In this one, the songs are really repetitive and serve to hammer in the moral or a plot point. The only song I kind of liked was the parody one used in the last fairy tale. Aside from that, it’s just very lacklustre.

Final Thoughts:

There are certainly things that could have been done better and there are better pieces of Muppets media out there. That being said, it’s not a bad little piece by any means. It has plenty of charm, some strong funny moments and it’s ultimately fun. If you’re a fan of the Muppets, consider giving it a look. For myself, I give it a solid 7/10.