Makai Senki Disgaea: Based on a much better game

The Disgaea franchise is, generally speaking, fantastic. They’re RPGs with a strong sense of humour & endearing characters. Sort of like another RPG franchise that I reviewed an anime based off of. The anime for this came out in ’06 from OLM. That’s right, the Gunsmith Cats, Steel Angel Kurumi 2 & Pokemon studio. Let’s see how they managed with this one.

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Story:

we open with an angel, Flonne, faffing about in the underworld to assassinate its king. She comes across the king’s son, Laharl, who was poisoned and left in a casket. She heals him and the pair swiftly learn that his father died while he was snoozing. After some confrontations with other demons, and finding a companion in Etna and her Frobisher… I mean prinny squad,  they decide to head for the castle so that Laharl can claim the throne.

The biggest issue with the narrative is simply that it’s extremely abridged. Things like strong pacing, atmosphere building and some of the more amusing but frivolous dialogue get tossed out in favour of trying to hit all of the major plot points from the game. To be honest, I’m not sure it was the best way to go about it. It might have worked better if the anime was slower and only covered a quarter or a third of the game.

I will give the anime credit for fleshing out the Big Sis Prinny reveal a bit better than the game did. And that’s literally the only thing I’ll credit it with over the game. It is also kind of nice to see the big scenes in a fully animated form, even if they are shortened in order to cram it all into a twelve episode series. And I’m kind of glad they don’t use the game’s best ending since it gives viewers more incentive to actually play it.

Characters:

The major characters are pretty decently represented in this series. They don’t have all the development they get in the game proper nor do they have all their best lines but, for a short series that’s trying to cover everything, they do a pretty good job. And it does feature one of my favourite aspects of Disgaea. Demons with a lot of redeeming qualities and angels who are kind of scumbags. Call it heretical if you like, but I enjoy the subversion and I like that the execution in this franchise is a bit more nuanced since the characters are fleshed out enough that the angels do have positive traits as well, Flonne especially while the demons are significantly flawed.

My biggest issue is that the anime might be too heavy handed with that aspect. The game was better about putting it in and not really drawing a huge amount of attention to it whereas the anime feels the need to shove it in your face.

Art:

The series looks good. They captured the game’s aesthetic nicely. Unfortunately, the animation is pretty lazy. There are a lot of scenes where someone talks and their mouth doesn’t move or where an action scene starts and ends very abruptly and I’m not sure whether it’s because they were “hard to animate” or because they were just rushing to get to the next plot point. Either way, it’s not a good impression.

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Sound:

This is one aspect where I can give the anime full credit without any “but…” involved. Mizuhashi Kaori, Hanba Tomoe & Sasamoto Yuuko are all fantastic. The soundtrack is really damn good as well. The sound design is just on point all around.

Ho-yay:

There are, maybe one or two scenes where Etna & Flonne read as having tension but it’s not exactly a significant thing.

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately, this anime has its strong points. The sound is fantastic, the characters are close enough to their game versions to have a lot of the endearing factors intact, the story has its moments. But its pacing and atmosphere suffer from being too abridged, the big subversion is too heavy-handed, the animation is lazy and it ultimately ends up being an inferior version of the game’s story with some changes that do work and others that don’t really matter. I give the anime a 6/10. It’s decent enough and it might be worth watching if you love the game or if you’re on the fence about trying the game and you want something that can give you a good idea of whether or not you’d like it. Because if you enjoy this anime well enough the chance of you enjoying the game is very high. Next week, Ninja Batman. Because I’ve looked at a few Marvel anime already and it’s time to give DC a chance.

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The Choujo

The Choujo is a part of the Rumik World series of OVAs, none of which I’ve seen. It came out in 1986 from Studio Pierrot. Yes, the same studio that worked on Yu Yu Hakusho & Osomatsu-san. So, how does this compare to their other works I’ve seen?

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Story:

We open with Maris, a survivor from an extinct planet, beating the shit out of some bad guys as part of her duty for the Intergalactic Space Patrol. She goes on vacation and tries to earn some extra money, as her parents break things constantly. That’s when she’s given a big, important job to rescue a kidnapped heir. She sees it as an opportunity to marry into money. Lady, just take out an ad. You’ve got super strength and good looks (by the standards of the art style), I’d bet some wealthy heir or heiress would accept you as a trophy bride. In any case, she goes off to confront the kidnapper and rescue the rich twit.

The biggest problem with this series is just that it’s pretty damn boring. The humour is stale with very predictable jokes. There are also long chunks of the OVA where nothing happens. You want a long scene that’s supposed to be funny where we just watch random shit on the beach? That’s in this. And I’m sure it’s totally not a flimsy excuse to see some ladies in bikinis. Because this series just puts its main characters, protagonist & antagonist, in bikinis any way. There’s just nothing compelling to it. Maybe there was some novelty value to be had back in 1986, but I’ve seen some other anime from that era and I kind of doubt it.

Characters:

Here’s where the real issues come in. This is one of those series that should be relying on quirky characters to make its humour work, but they range from dull to actively annoying. With the major characters gravitating towards the latter. Maris herself is just obnoxiously vapid. The same is true for Sue. They’re just physically powerful ladies, who have a vague “hate being poor” schtick going for them. But, you know, they dress in battle bikinis so we can call that character development, if we want to use dumb old memes. Then we have the heir. Think of Andy from Cowboy Bebop if he had no interesting or redeeming traits and was just shit. That’s pretty much Koganemaru.

Art:

Even for the mid 80s, this looks bad. The animation is really slow and choppy, a lot of the artwork is just lazy. In terms of its weirder, theoretically comedic, imagery, it’s not exactly Yellow Submarine. This might have actually benefited from being more stony, to be honest. About the best I can say is that it’s easy enough to follow and not a huge mess. Just a bit of one.

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Sound:

Koyama Mami & Shimamoto Sumi are both decent enough in this, considering the script. Yeah, not gonna lie it comes across as a bit lacklustre. The music is fine too. Not the best in the world, but it works.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any. The only bits of romance we see are vapid ladies pining over a bored rich boy.

Final Thoughts:

The Choujo is a bit rubbish, actually. With a completely trite narrative, weak humour, annoying major characters, poor artwork and sound that’s just okay (but still the best element in the piece.) Ultimately, I give it a 3/10 and probably should have left it floating in the septic tank instead of fishing it out just because I was curious. Someone put it in the tank for a reason. Next week I’ll look at Makai Senki Disgaea. I just hope the anime is as good as the game.

D-frag: Just shift the lead a bit and…

D-Frag is an ongoing comedic manga by Haruno Tomoya. In 2014, Brain’s Base (yes the studio behind Baccano, Ixion Saga DT & OreGairu) aired a twelve episode adaptation. I’ll be covering both that and the one episode OVA that was bundled with a special edition for the manga.

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Story:

Our protagonist, Kazama, is a delinquent. One day he and his fellow skivers find themselves running afoul of the Game Creation club. To their surprise, they’re handily beaten by the girls in the club. This swiftly results in Kazama being recruited to join the club. This, naturally, leads to shenanigans.

The humour in this is pretty hit and miss. It has some very funny moments. The types of weird games the club comes up with can be really funny. A lot of the gags referencing games are also quite well done. The series is also good at coming up with crazy scenarios that have a lot of comedic potential. The OVA is a great example. The characters get involved in a race for special limited edition water and there are a lot of comedic possibilities with that as your premise. It wouldn’t work as a long, full length anime but for one episode it’s a perfect concept.

On the other side of things, you have the jokes about masochism which just get really repetitive and predictable very quickly, thereby losing most of their impact. The series manages a few scenes that work with it but for every time it works there are three where it doesn’t. It doesn’t help that the series gives us two characters who have masochism as their main spiel. The same major issue holds true for the bulk of the love triangle japes. Kazama finds himself of interest to two different girls in a way that’s so obvious even I wouldn’t be oblivious to it if I were in that situation. And I once thought a young woman wrote her phone number on something she handed me by accident. And this dude seems completely oblivious. But that’s not the issue with these jokes. The problem is that they’re basically the same thing every time. The buxom girl gets embarrassed and acts cringey, while Roka is just completely forthright and Kazama plays the oblivious straight man. They can be funny sometimes but they’re usually just cringe-worthy.

I will give the series credit, though. Its comedy does work well more often than it falls flat, by a pretty strong margin.

Characters:

All in all, the cast works fine in a comedic context. If this were a serious series, they wouldn’t. But as is, the only real complaint I have is that Kazama is kind of dull. His one job is to react to all the crazy shit everyone else does, and get dragged into it. Some might argue that you need the more “serious” character to help emphasise the craziness and respond to it but Galaxy Angel has an entire cast of bizarre, quirky characters and it is a superior comedy to this. Same with Muteki Kanban Musume.

I’m not saying that no comedies should ever have that type of reaction character, but they aren’t exactly interesting &, honestly, they shouldn’t be put in the lead role. The mostly uninspired and uninteresting love triangle interactions don’t help make a case for him either.

Art:

The animation is decent enough. Kind of standard but the designs work, the movements are smooth and the series does use comedic stylistic shifts and expressions pretty effectively.

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Sound:

Hanazawa Kana, Takahashi Mikako, Saito Chiwa & Ueda Kana make for a thoroughly solid cast. About the worst I can say is that the series may be excessive with its use of exaggerated reactions and it results in a lot of yelling that can get quite trite. I bet Konishi Katsuyuki really shredded his voice doing that since he gets the worst of it. Chamomile tea is good for that, Mate. The music… I wasn’t fond of the theme tunes in this one. It goes for that super hyperactive, noticeably auto-tuned aesthetic you get with some comedies. The incidental music was perfectly fine. Not the best I’ve heard from Matsuda Akito, but decent enough.

Ho-yay:

There’s a bit. One of the masochist characters seems to want some polyamory involving Kazama. The OVA gets some homo-erotic moments between Sakura and Noe.

Final Thoughts:

D-Frag has a good amount of funny moments and some characters with strong quirks to carry it. I would go so far as to say that it is a good comedy. But it also suffers from putting a rather standard, dull character in the lead role and from some comedic bits that just get played out way before they stop using them. So, I can’t call it great. Final rating, a solid 7/10. Next week, The Choujo.

Cowboy Bebop: See You, Space Cowboy

Cowboy Bebop is a hugely influential anime from the late 90s. It was brought to us by Sunrise. Yes, them again. You’d think they’d been around since the 70s and had done a tonne of works. But yes, the Dirty Pair, Gundam, Love Live & Witch Hunter Robin studio is back. Now, I have seen Cowboy Bebop before so I won’t be going into it blind. Rather, it’ll be one of those series I re-watch. I will say that I remember it being quite good but it’s possible that that’ll change since it’s been about a decade since I saw it last. Let’s find out.

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Story:

we open with our heroes, Spike & Jet in a state of financial trouble. Fortunately for them, they have a plan to get some credits to their name. They just have to go out and hunt some bounties. This is one of those series where there’s not much in terms of an underlying story. Most of the episodes deal with the Bebop crew going on various missions to hunt bounties and they follow a linear path with certain missions very clearly taking place after others.

One of the most impressive elements in the series is the way it handles tone. Cowboy Bebop has some more comedic portions. It also has some dark and depressing moments and it handles all of them, and the transitions betwixt them, very well. A big part of that is simply that it doesn’t go too extreme with either. Its comedic moments are more of the “life can be weird & fun” variety. It avoids the over the top zany type of comedy. And its dark scenes aren’t the super dark “we’re trying far too hard to be edgy and extreme” type and are more subdued. And that’s what the success with tone comes down to, Cowboy Bebop excels at having scenes that feel pretty true to life. In spite of involving a crew of bounty hunters travelling in a space ship and, in a couple cases, science derived super powers. The emotional crux of the scenes, whether jovial or tragic, still feels very relatable

Let’s go into a bit more detail about the episodic nature of the series. Cowboy Bebop is one of those shows that has a lot of ideas for its episodes and does them all really well. There isn’t a single episode that I can point to and say “that one wasn’t very good.” There’s not even one I can point to and say “that one was just good, not great but good.” Then again, this was written by Nobumoto Keiko, who also wrote Wolf’s Rain & worked on the script for Tokyo Godfathers. The series also has some interesting, subtle things that are symbolically important. Including Spike’s heterochromia which gets brought up fairly early and comes into play for the finale. Incidentally, the finale is absolutely phenomenal. I also really like the way the series does chase sequences. They can be kind of absurd but they hit that sweet spot where they have just the right levels of absurdity & intensity to be amazing.

Characters:

Let’s begin our discussion with the most divisive character in the series, Edward. There are quite a few people in the fan base who don’t much care for her because she’s a bit childish, weird & generally a high energy “space case.” And you’re probably thinking I’m one of those since I don’t like children in general but I actually like her quite a bit. I find her to be a pretty delightful character. And I appreciate that she has complexity to her. There are elements to her back story that explain why she is the way she is and she is, in many ways, a prodigy but in others she acts her age. There aren’t a lot of child prodigy characters who are still allowed to be children. They’re usually shown as prodigies by being far more mature than anyone their age should be. So, I can appreciate this kind of take on it.

The rest of the characters get similar treatment. They have very well developed back stories that you get glimpses of in various missions, eventually having them come into the spotlight for big character moments. These past events also explain a lot of the stranger facets of their personalities and they do have complex, developed personalties. And it’s not just the major characters who are multi-faceted & compelling. The major characters they encounter in various missions get the same kind of treatment. To a lesser extent, for obvious reasons but they are brilliantly written characters.

Art:

I know I’d normally criticise the fan-service outfits, but I can’t really in this case. See, they do play up Faye’s sexiness a bit with her outfit and such, but they do it in ways that actually suit her character and they do show restraint even in the most risqué scenes. So, I can’t really complain about it. Because Faye isn’t a practical minded woman so you don’t really expect her to dress in practical attire. It’s not often I encounter a series that manages to have fan-service elements but makes them work and shows class with them.

The backgrounds and sci-fi dressings are fantastic. The action sequences, particularly in the last episode are phenomenal and the character designs are memorable for all the right reasons. And Ein is absolutely adorable. I want to pat his furry little head.

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Sound:

If a certain other popular sci-fi series gave us Hayashibara Megumi’s worst performance, this easily gives us one of her best. And it’s not just her. Tada Aoi, Yamadera Kouichi, Ishizuka Unshou, Wakamoto Norio and many, many actors for side characters are all fantastic in this.

This series also has some of the best music I’ve heard in an anime. And not jut because the beats are thoroughly solid but because it’s very good at using its incidental music to add that perfect final touch to any given action sequence. There are times where you’re watching the action get started and the music kicks in at just the right time to elevate the scene beyond what it could possibly achieve with visuals alone. In fact, it happens a lot.

Ho-yay:

There’s a little bit. They encounter some gay guys during missions. I have to say, I appreciate that Spike’s reaction to a man hitting on him is just an awkward disinterest in the dude. There are too many things that play up an exaggerated disgust in that kind of situation instead of having the character handle it like an adult.

Final Thoughts:

Those of you who are familiar with my work know that I won’t praise something solely because it’s popular. In this case, I am going to join with the majority and sing the praises of this series. It’s easily among the best science fiction works I’ve seen.. It just does everything really damn well and with very little room for improvement. For my final rating, I have to go with a full 10/10. Next week, D-Frag.

June Bonus review- Avengers: United They Stand

About a year ago, I did a bonus review over Spider-man: Unlimited. It was not the wall crawler’s best moment, but at least it wasn’t One More Day or that comic where he gave birth to himself or Civil War. Why do terrible writers like to muck about with Spidey? Why can’t they just stick to writing Squirrel Girl & Bendis’ Mary Sue? In any case, I made the point that the late 90s were a bad time for Marvel cartoons in general and this was one of the ones I brought up that flopped hard. So, where exactly did they go wrong with Earth’s mightiest heroes? Let’s take a look, True Believers.

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Story: 

We open with the Avengers preparing to meet the President, who stands poised to recognise their great achievements, and probably take credit for them. Unfortunately for them, a  ne-er do well named Ultron is afoot and plotting the demises of both the President & Ant Man. In typical Marvel fashion, this results in a public outcry against the team with the President tweeting that “they’re possibly the biggest mess of a team. Gone downhill so much thanks to the last administration letting that immigrant mutant on the team. Sad.” Actually, it’s a totally different President and he blames Hawkeye because… Hawkeye had him duck and then shot arrows at the attacking robots and… he should have picked him up and run thereby leaving them both open to attack from behind? Seriously, you see none of the other Avengers around during this sequence. It’s not like they had Wonder Man paired with Hawkeye to draw the hostile fire or something. This is immediately stupid. And that’s our introduction to the team in action.

Moments of sheer stupidity like that aren’t even the biggest narrative problem in this series. They divide their main focus between Ultron & the Zodiac, thereby not giving them time to resolve anything with either big bad and ending on a cliff hanger because no one was watching this. They also love to introduce the idea of back story for them without actually showing anything substantial. Like Ultron being a creation of Pym’s who was destroyed, but they’ll never show what the deal with that is or the Zodiac having been foiled by the Avengers in scenes we’ll never see. And there’s a big focus on Wonder Man being kidnapped… after he’s been missing for, like, six episodes. Yeah, they pretty much bring it up in passing like it’s not that big of a deal and then they start acting like it’s the most important thing ever for no apparent reason. There’s also the bloody stupid love triangle. Frankly, all the romances in this are really bad. You just start out with characters in a relationship and they never give you any reason to care. Remember when the mid 90s X-men cartoon had Scott & Jean in a relationship at the start and then they had the Captive Hearts episode to give you, the viewer, cause to be invested in that? This one can’t be bothered. Let’s also bring up “holy fucking shit he’s a ‘perfect’ machine”  Ultron. We’re supposed to buy this dude as a credible threat for our team but he’s a freaking moron, even for a cartoon villain. Take one of his early plans. He sends his robots to draw out the Avengers, except Ant Man, so that he can mount a full assault against Pym because Ultron is actually very anti- domestic violence and he wants to see Pym stopped. But then the robots immediately shut down when the Avengers arrive instead of putting up any kind of fight that could  have, I don’t know, delayed them without rousing their suspicions. Why not just have them beat the bots aster than anticipated? You could still have them arrive in time and it would be a lot less stupid.

Characters:

This is a big issue with this cartoon. The cast they chose. Let’s pretend, just for a second, that Pym being a bride battering brute doesn’t matter because they don’t want any of the kids who watch this to ever read the comics. And I know that’s a stretch, but for the sake of argument, let’s pretend the comics don’t matter. He’s still a  terrible choice to lead the team. Why? Because there are a lot of options with better costumes, more interesting powers and who are just better liked. The show itself brings it up talking about Thor, Iron Man & Captain America but it argues that he helped found the Avengers and, therefore, he’s just as qualified. But this is a show for kids and you know kids are going to want to see the “cool” characters. No kid cares about freaking Ant Man. Wonder Man is a pretty bad choice too, since he’s basically just a Mary Sue in this. Hell, why not take out the Falcon too and bring in the Black Panther? Even before the films, the Panther was a better known character and his costume is definitely superior. And it doesn’t help that they do nothing with this cast to make them interesting. They’re just a bland group.

Art:

There are three big problems with the artwork. The first is the costumes. A lot of the films screw up the costumes by trying to tone them down and making them just boring. This series goes the opposite route & tries to make things more “extreme” by giving most of the Avengers special armour that they put on through transformation sequences and it just ends up looking terrible. Especially with Hawkeye, the Wasp & the Falcon who take the brunt of it. It’s just ostentatious is what it is. The second issue is the transformation sequences themselves. It feels like they’re trying to capture a sentai or magical girl vibe with them but without any finesse and with an end result that looks awful. The third is that the animation is frequently slow and choppy.

Sound: 

The acting isn’t the worst ever, but it’s pretty bad. You get some performances that are all right like Stavroula Logothetttis or Tony Daniels but the majority of them seem like the actors can’t be bothered to put in any effort. Not that I would either if I was handed this script. The theme tune is similar to the one from the COPS cartoon, in that it has a good beat but is weakened by the repetition of the title.

Final Thoughts:

There are, certainly, worse comic adaptations than this. There are also worse things that the Avengers have been in. This is still a bad cartoon. With a team that has some of the best characters in the Marvel universe as potential members, they chose their core cast poorly. Why would you ever have Hank Pym as the leader in a work for children? With the story, they couldn’t just focus on one villain arc and ended up making a right mess of things. They couldn’t even get a lot of the basics right. In the end, I have to give this the same score as Spider-man Unlimited. United They Stand earns a disappointing 3/10.

Oh, and let’s take a quick peek at our big hero we’re all supposed to love.

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Elf wo Karu Mono-Tachi: yet another fetish series

Elf wo Karu Mono-tachi is an anime based off of a Yagami Yu manga. The anime adaptation was handled by Group TAC. Yes, the studio behind Arashi n Yoru ni & Shinigami no Ballad. It came out in the mid 90s and has been largely forgotten. I’ve actually seen this one before and, from what I recall, there’s a good reason for that. So, I’ll re-watch it and go over the tawdry details.

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Story:

Our tale takes place in a fantasy world where a trio from our world, Ritsuko the high school girl with a bunch of gun, karate maniac Junpei & the actress Airi. After a ritual to get them home fails, they find themselves looking for the fragments which have made their way to the bodies of various elves. Naturally, this means they have to strip attractive elven ladies to search for them. Because class is something completely foreign to this series.

Now, I could point out the obvious flaws with the narrative. Like that they know a respected elf elder and could easily organise a non-obtrusive screening to find the fragments or that Ritsuko shouldn’t have a bunch of guns and tank since she’s Japanese, not American and the Japanese don’t sell that shit at the nearest Wal-mart for “hunting varmints.” But it’s a comedy and the obvious response to that would be “who cares if it’s funny?” Therein lies the problem. This series isn’t funny. It’s humour is based around three things. Yagami indulging his fetish for elves being stripped, rampant stupidity & lamp shading the tropes that they use that are characteristic of terribly written fantasy. The first just comes across as juvenile & crass. The second as juvenile and the third is just terrible writing. Lamp shading can work when it’s paired with some kind of intelligent critique or strong parody but this series wouldn’t know intelligence if it danced in its face and its parody aspect is, at best, the vague “this is a thing that gets used sometimes” type. Consequently, it fails at that variety of humour as well.

Characters:

The cast in this is just a bunch of dull, one-dimensional archetypes. Which, to be fair, could work for a comedy if they meshed well together for comedic purposes. Unfortunately, this series can’t be bothered. Their interactions mostly consist of “how do we strip this elf?” “let’s do this thing” and some petty bickering that’s not entertaining.

Art:

The obvious issue with the artwork is the heavy emphasis on Yagami’s fetish. That, however, isn’t the only issue. The action sequences are slow and boring. The attempts at exaggerated comedic expression are just obvious and over done. I guess I can give it some credit for the character designs being decent, but that’s about it.

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Sound:

The series did get some good actors. Mitsuishi Kotono, Tomizawa Michie, Miyamura Yuko & Seki Tomokazu are the major characters. So, we’ve got Moon & Mars. But their performances in this are decidedly of the “barely competent” variety. Which, to be fair to the actors, is kind of inevitable when you have characters who just have nothing to them and the direction demands comedic exaggeration for humourless drivel. Then we have the music. This is the one area where I can give the series some actual praise. The opening and ending theme tunes are genuinely good. The incidental music is just mediocre but those theme tunes are worth checking out by themselves.

Ho-yay:

There’s one scene where an elf thinks that Ritsuko & Airi are trying to hit on her because they’re checking her out in a bath house but that’s about it.

Final Thoughts:

Elf wo Karu Mono-tachi is trite rubbish. It’s designed to appeal to young, heterosexual teenage boys who don’t know any better and people who have an elf fetish and can use the supposed comedy as an excuse to indulge it. If neither of those describes you, I can’t recommend it. Just look up the theme tunes. I give it a wag of my finger and a 2/10. Next week, Cowboy Bebop.

Pokemon: Mewtwo no Gyakushuu: Send in the Clones

If you’re part of my generation, or younger, chances are Pokemon was part of your childhood. I’ve reviewed one anime based off of it, the relatively short Pokemon the Origin but there have been a bunch of series for it, many of them going well over a hundred episodes. Today, we’re looking at Pokemon: Mewtwo no Gyakushuu, a film based off of the main anime line. Now, the general consensus among older fans of the Pokemon franchise is that the games are still fun and various improvements like reusable TMs, more trainer customization & the elimination of HMs in favour of ride Pokemon are touted as proof that they’re getting better. The opposite is true for the main anime. Most older fans say it was fine when they were kids but totally doesn’t hold up, often citing the overly repetitive formula & Satoshi being a toolbox. But let’s look at the film and make our own judgements.

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Story:

We open with a group of scientists entering the jungle to investigate reports of Mew sightings. I remember when Mew was supposedly around that bloody truck but that was all lies and the hours we spent trying to make her appear were all in vain. In any case, they don’t find Mew but they do find one of her fossilised eyelashes. Which is weird because good luck seeing any eyelashes on Mew. But whatever, they take the eyelash back to their laboratory and decide to use it to clone a stronger version of Mew. Unlike the rest of their clones, they manage to make him stable but they have to sedate him due to the trauma he experiences after mind melding with the other clones. He wakes up and loses control, killing everybody and destroying the lab. He’s picked up by Sakaki who puts him to work, but makes the mistake of telling Mewtwo that he will serve humans. At which point Mewtwo tells him to suck a shiny lime green fart and destroys his headquarters. He returns to the island and swears revenge on humanity for trying to use him and thus begins our story proper and we get to see our main protagonists after a good twenty minutes of set up.

The biggest narrative issue is one that’s pretty common to kid’s films. It has one of those situations where something terrible happens to one of the main characters and, just when it looks to be over for them, the power of love and friendship comes to their rescue. It doesn’t really make sense for Mewtwo to grab Blastoise, Charizard and Venusaur when he already has clones of them. The ending twist with the lesson being lost for most is a bit bullshit too. It also is a pretty predictable film in a lot of ways but it is a kid’s film and they aren’t as good at recognising the usual media patterns so, it’s fair enough.

One interesting thing is that there is some pretty dark stuff. Mewtwo kills a lot of people, one of the researchers wants to clone his dead daughter, there’s a Fearow trainer who tries to fly to Mewtwo’s island through the great storm and is never seen again. Guess that guy doesn’t get a happy ending. On the plus side, the trainer who fishes up his corpse while looking to catch a Staryu will get some free Pokemon from his bag. She’ll have to release the Jynx with the racist nickname, though. Since you can’t rename Pokemon you get from other trainers.

That being said, I do like the set up stuff at the start. It actually explains quite a few things, like why Mewtwo has deep-rooted issues with the humans and why Charizard Blastoise & Venusaur look strangely contrasted to their originals compared to the other clones. It also sets up the main moral of the story which is all about the circumstances of our birth being irrelevant because “we’re all living beings.” It has some funny moments too. Mew trolling the rockets is pretty good. I also kind of like Meowth not fighting with his clone because the claws look like they hurt. And the Pokemon brawling without restraint or even using their special attacks because they aren’t under any kind of control is kind of a nice touch to illustrate just how worked up they all are. And I do appreciate that the film puts some effort into explaining away some regular shounen tropes. Why does Charizard fare better in the initial fight against the clones than the other starters? It’s not that he’s the protagonist’s Pokemon, it’s because the opposing Charizard uses Seismic Toss, which is a fixed damage move.

Characters:

This is undoubtedly one of the big areas where the main anime doesn’t hold up. The characters are just very bog standard and dull. The only character who kind of veers away from that a bit is Mewtwo and even he’s ultimately a pretty standard misunderstood antagonist. He just wants to find a place for himself in the world.

Art:

The artwork looks pretty good. They put in quite a bit of detail. I rather like the chibi Mewtwo we see at the beginning. The action is pretty good and there are some nice background details. About the worst I can say s that some of the slower scenes also involve some stilted, slow animation.

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Sound:

The actors do a fine job. There are some really good ones including Hayashibara Megumi as Musashi & Ichimura Masachika as Mewtwo. You won’t find anyone’s greatest performance here, but they’re capable enough. The soundtrack is made up of “that song.” You know the one, “that sad song,” “that rising action song,” “that intense song.” It’s largely standard, is what I’m saying.

Ho-yay:

Really isn’t any romance just in general. Ho-yay or otherwise.

Final Thoughts:

Mewtwo no Gyakushu is a decent film. It has its strong moments and some solid action but, in general, it’s just too predictable and generic to be of particular interest for adults. If there’s a child in your life who you want to watch a film with, this one would make a pretty good choice, provided the kid likes Pokemon. Since it won’t make you want to shoot down a Fearow trainer or anything. My rating for it is going to be a 6/10. Next week, Elf wo Karu Mono-tachi. Because I’ve been too positive as of late.