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 & Satshi 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.

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Tetsuwan Birdy Decode: Guest Starring Anime Shyamalan

Tetsuwan Birdy Decode is an anime from late 08 based off of a manga from the mid to late 80s. It was originally written by Yuuki Masami. The anime was handled by A-1. Yes, them again. And this one came out before Kuroshitsuji too. Which will officially make it the earliest A-1 anime I’ve reviewed. I don’t know what to expect since their quality is so variable. Let’s have a look.

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Story:

We open with our titular Birdy in pursuit of some criminals. Turns out she’s a federation security agent and yet she doesn’t wear gold. In any case, she captures their getaway driver but they scarper. Cut to some time later, Birdy and her squid friend have tracked the criminals to Earth. Because of course you have to set things on Earth instead of an alien civilisation. It just makes things so much more interesting when we see the usual scenery. Also, much easier than developing an alien culture. Any way, they manage to confront one of the crooks only to have him play operation human shield with a random civilian, thereby getting said civilian sliced in half. They transfer his consciousness into Birdy’s body while they fix his and the misadventures of these two swapping places and clashing begins.

Let’s start with the biggest narrative problem, the aesthetic. This series takes itself pretty seriously while including some really goofy content that’s actually impossible to take seriously. For example, the main characters sharing a body and having to swap control and forms, because I guess Birdy can shape shift. That’s an element you’d expect to see used for goofy sitcom style shenanigans, but this series largely tries to use it for drama. Including having situations where people die or get hurt because these two find themselves in an awkward predicament. Then we have one of the major antagonists, Shyamalan. This dude looks like he’s intended as a stand in for M Night Shyamalan & happens to completely unsubtly have the same family name. Again, this is something that could be great in a comedy. A criminal Shyamalan parody who sets up dumb twists for his crimes. Robs a bank while taking hostages, turns out the small children in the crowd are his accomplices and they pull out comically large weapons that would only be legal to buy in America. He hijacks a plane but it turns out that he owns the air line and he’s technically allowed to have one of the planes go somewhere else, it’s just terrible customer service. That could be hilarious. But this series just plays him as a subdued, narcissist and tries to have some serious scenes with him that you can’t actually take seriously because he’s a fucking M Night Shyamalan stand in.

There are also a lot of little plot details that don’t go anywhere. The undercover modelling career Birdy has for, like, an episode and then doesn’t get mentioned again. The whole issue where Tsutomu’s mind might envelop hers but it never really becomes an issue. But I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on these in general since there is a second series. Maybe that one actually does something with them.

With that being said, the series does have some interesting stuff. What little we actually see of the alien society is pretty neat. The narrative has enough intrigue to keep it compelling, even if impossible to take seriously. To be honest, I am kind of interested in seeing the second series. The big climax has some strong moments and I do appreciate that they resolve the major conflict of the series and leave a more minor thing that crops up as the sequel bait.

Characters:

The characters in this, at least the major and important secondary ones, are largely pretty decent. Shyamalan is kind of your generic “I am super important and therefore can do what I wish for my goals” types of villains & a lot of the class mate characters are pretty dull too. There are also the “mysterious” characters who may get some development in the second series but are just vaguely cryptic in this one. Our main pair has some complexity to them. I appreciate that the series doesn’t push a romance with them, giving Tsutomu a different girl he likes. Because it’s just really stupid when a series goes “we pushed these two characters together with some contrivances. Now they’re in love.” Hayamiya is interesting. Tuto has his moments. I kind of like that he puts on the guise of super flamboyance and seems to enjoy himself doing it but has significantly more to him. There are too many characters out there who are just flamboyant.

Art:

The artwork is nothing spectacular. In general, it looks fine and the stylistic way they do action for it can really work but the characters look a bit plain and the backgrounds are just functional and kind of bland. Like Mito, the aliens are largely just animal people but this series does put considerably more effort into making them look interesting. I actually kind of like the alien designs, when they don’t just look human. Pity you see so little of them.

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Sound:

There are some good performances from Chiba Saeko, Sakamoto Maaya, Irino Miyu, Itou Kanae & Kawada Shinji. Even the actors who voice less than interesting characters do pretty darn well in their roles. The music from Kanno Yugo is quite good.

Ho-yay:

Tuto is, I’m pretty certain, not straight. Him aside, none of the other characters really come across as being romantically interested in anyone of the same sex. It’s like the exact opposite of the stories I write in that regard.

Final Thoughts:

Tetsuwan Birdy Decode has some pretty severe problems. It has elements that would only work as comedic but played far too seriously. Its characters range from mundane to pretty good and its art has a lot of meh to it. Overall, it’s not a bad anime by any stretch but I can’t call it a good one either. It’s an average work that had the potential to be so much more with some effort and thought. So, I give it a 5/10. Next week, I’ll go back to Wednesday reviews. Starting with Pokemon: Mewtwo no Gyakushuu.

Witch Hunter Robin: Solomon is basically run by Genosha.

Witch Hunter Robin was a 2002 Sunrise anime. Yes, the same studio that brought us Gundam (the good and the bad), Code Geass, Dirty Pair and many more. What’s that, you want to know why this review is late? Well, I had some Internet troubles and the technician just fixed the situation. You know, the usual boring life stuff.

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Story:

We open with a witch hunting organisation, STN-J, anticipating their new recruit. They quickly meet her, the titular Robin, as fire craft user with an improbable hair style. Which just proves that she’s the protagonist. From there, we watch as Robin and her team go up against witches of various kinds and bring them in. But there’s something amiss with STN-J. Where are they taking the witches they capture and what is this mysterious Orbo substance that protects them from a witch’s powers?

The biggest narrative problem with the series has to do with the set up. So, we’ve got these Seeds who are born with mysterious powers that may or may not awaken. If they awaken they’re either recruited by the Solomon organisation, STN-J’s parent company, or they’re hunted as witches. So, they’re basically Marvel mutants if the Xavier institute aggressively went after every mutant who didn’t join an X-team. The problem is, how did this organisation get formed and why do mutants join up with them instead of fighting back? We know Orbo is a new invention and that normal humans can’t use it without complications. That’s a major plot point. So, how exactly do they get people to cooperate with them? There’s never an explanation. It’s just the way it is. I guess their world needs a Magneto.

On the positive side, the series is interesting. It has quite a few mysterious elements that get built up throughout and, ultimately, do have pretty satisfying conclusions. So, there is quite a bit of investment to be had. I also do appreciate the way a lot of early events that don’t seem particularly significant do ultimately play a more substantial role than you might think.

Characters:

This is where the series has its most significant problem. Namely, some of the major character dynamics come across as under-developed and contrived. You’ll have certain characters who show no interest in one another outside of business matters or where one does but the other doesn’t. Then the plot needs them to have a closer dynamic and they will as if by magic. Who knows, maybe a witch is manipulating the script. Probably the same witch who completely changed Squall’s characterisation in the last disc, except this series isn’t nearly that egregious. How interesting a character is also varies a lot. And this isn’t a series where the split is based on a character’s importance. You can have a major character like Amon who’s a bog standard, stick up his arse serious dude while some more secondary characters like Michael and Karasuma actually get complexity and some interesting traits.

Art:

Sunrise’s art in this has a fair few problems. First of all, the character expressions are frequently just vacant. Secondly, some of the action sequences can be really slow and even kind of tedious. With that out of the way, the series does have an interesting aesthetic and when they get their action sequences right, they’re really damn good.

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Sound:

This is another element that varies a bit. They got a lot of talented people like Watanabe Akeno, Yuuki Hiro, Fukuyama Jun and others. But some of them, like Fukuyama, got saddled with dull characters while others, for narrative reasons, spend a lot of the series trying to sound unaffected, rather like they don’t care. Which doesn’t exactly lead to the most impactive performances. The musical score is pretty good.

Ho-yay:

There really isn’t any.

Final Thoughts:

Witch Hunter Robin has quite a few problems. As well as some things that could have been done better. That being said, it is an interesting series with enough strong characters to exonerate it, mostly, for the bland ones. If you want something with supernatural action, and you’ve already seen Yami No Matsuei, it’s a good choice. Final rating, 7/10. Next week, Tetsuwan Birdy Decode.

Fortune Quest: Yo ni mo Shiawase na Boukensha-tachi- Rolled a critical failure on its investment check

Fortune Quest: Yo ni mo Shiawase na Boukensha-tachi is a JC staff anime based off of an eight volume light novel. It also has a SNES game, which you can’t avoid knowing about if you watch the anime because they have a segment in the middle of every episode where they have a joke advert and then a real advert for the SNES game. And JC Staff is one of those studios that can hit lofty heights with the likes of Yami no Matsuei & Flying Witch and also mine the crustiest excrement with works like Shakugan no Shana or Garzey no Tsubasa. But hey, at least they’ve never made anything as horrendous as Evangelion. They’ve also had quite a few mediocre works. So, let’s see where this one happens to land.

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Story:

We open with our heroes having some financial problems. They decide to try and get a quest, which they can’t pay for. So, they offer the quest giver a deal. He’ll get a percentage of the profits from any treasure they find (he’ll be disappointed when the RNG ends up with them finding a wooden dagger, a used condom and a Solid Snake Dakimakura with stains in odd spots) in exchange for the quest. He agrees, but first he gives them some simple work to get them out of debt. All they have to do is fetch some hot spring water. Before you can say “something will definitely go askew” things go wrong and the group finds themselves with a far more difficult job than they imagined. Who could have foreseen this besides everyone?

The big issue with the series is simply that a lot of it is rather predictable. There might be one twist that you won’t see coming a mile away. Most of the events that happen are just so bog standard that they’re really obvious if you have any experience with fantasy works. Another issue is that the OVA is meant to be comedic but it’s not all that funny. The jokes are just mundane.

That being said, the OVA does have a strong aesthetic sense. It does manage to capture the whole “old school D&D inspired RPG” feel pretty nicely. And it does capture your attention pretty successfully. Don’t imagine it could maintain that if it were much longer, but with four episodes it can manage.

Characters:

There isn’t much to say about the cast. Clay is the leader. Pastel is the good, caring woman. Trapp is the one who causes friction. Knoll is the gentle giant. Rumy is the childish one. Kitton is the amnesiac who, oddly enough, knows the most about adventuring. Okay, let’s be fair to the others. He only knows how to handle the shit they encounter because he carries a strategy guide. Oh, and the antagonist is basically motivated by boredom. I know how he feels. I always build doomsday devices and hold the world for ransom when my Internet goes down.

Art:

The OVA doesn’t look bad. It’s not good looking either. The action sequences are a bit lazy and the character designs aren’t very interesting. They look like someone was trying to make the most generic D&D characters they could, except without the Drizzt clone because literally everyone hates the person who plays as a Drizzt clone. About the only exception is Shiro. He looks like a cuter, more canine version of Nall from Lunar Silver Star. Except this came out first, so I guess I should be saying Nall looks like a less cute, more feline version of Shiro. I actually do like Shiro’s design.

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Sound:

I can’t really complain about the acting. They got some good people like Touma Yumi, Canna Nobutoshi, Nishihara Kumiko & Furukawa Toshio. I don’t think anyone is going to point to this OVA as the best performance in any of their careers but they’re perfectly capable. The music is all right.

Ho-yay:

There really isn’t any. Maybe the series could develop some if the characters had compelling or somewhat complex interactions with one another, but that is not the case. It would have to be betwixt the lads, though, since there are only two major female characters and one is a child.

Final Thoughts:

Fortune Quest is not a bad series. If you’re really starving for something short of the fantasy persuasion, it might serve you. But there are a lot of better fantasy comedies out there. JC Staff has been involved with at least two franchises that fit that description. The Slayers & Mahou Senshi Louie. That being said, it’s not bad either. And there are probably as many fantasy franchises that are worse than it as there are better. So, again, if you’re really desperate it probably won’t be intolerable by any degree. For myself, I give it an indifferent 5/10. Next week, Witch Hunter Robin.

So Ra No Wo To: How is this from the same writer as Vampire Bund?

So Ra No Wo To is an original anime brought to us by A-1 Pictures. Yes, the studio behind Kuroshitsuji, Uchuu Kyoudai, Sword Art Online & Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin is back. Or, more accurately, I’m looking at one of their works again. Thus far, my experience with them as a studio has varied a lot. With Uchuu Kyoudai being at the high end and Sword Art Online on the low, because it’s shit. This particular series is from 2010 and was relatively early in terms of their productions. It was written by Yoshino Hiroyuki, speaking of people I have mixed experiences with. Yeah, this bloke also wrote Shuumatsu no Izetta, which was a great series and Dance in the Vampire Bund, which will always be remembered as utter rubbish. So, this one is a gamble. I’d give it about 50-50 odds.

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Story:

In the far distant future, humanity seems to be running out of habitable land (now we know how all those species we’ve fucked over to build cities feel) and a lot of old technology has been lost. It’s in this future that the country of Helvetia and the new Roman Empire are on the brink of war. We follow a young garrison on the border of No Man’s land as they mostly faff about.

The only real criticism I have about the narrative is that the build up to the climax could have been handled better. It’s largely relegated to the last few episodes with small bit beforehand that give very small hints and we’re talking very basic like Rio’s identity being obvious by the time she plays her role or the threat of war being omnipresent throughout.

I do really like the way the series mixes a kind of standard slice of life style with the whole war scenario (Sort of like how he melded cutesy yuri romance with a war scenario in Izetta). It allows it to have that sense of fun and enjoyment while also leaving room for more serious, dramatic stuff and it never feels dissonant. The world building is really interesting and executed in a fully organic way. We don’t just know the broad stroke details, we know very trivial everyday things like how life in Kanata’s little village differs from life in the city of Seize (I know, not a subtle city name) because of geographical variations within the same nation. Which is a fascinating detail. The series has a good sense of humour as well. Filicia’s way of confirming whether or not their visitor speaks their language is hilarious but it also makes sense. The whole episode where they all get pissed, save one, is really funny. There are good dramatic scenes too. Noël & Filicia both have some real tragedy to their back stories. Rio & Kureha have some as well but Kureha’s plays less of a role and Rio’s is kept a bit vague because they don’t want to show the actual details and spoil the climax. Then we have the epic Amazing Grace scene. Those are words I never thought I’d string together, but it’s a part of the climax and it’s a superb scene. It’s also interesting the way Helvetia and the Roman Empire have similar legends, but different takes on them.

Characters:

I quite like the cast in this series. They have enough complexity to carry the more dramatic scenes as well as enough quirkiness to make the humour strong. Which is something Gintama couldn’t manage with over fourteen times the number of episodes. This is only a fourteen episode series and that’s counting the two special episodes. I also appreciate the way the series connects the characters through most of the main cast having formative meetings with a certain person of note. He fleshes out their back stories enough to give them a sense of completion while also building up their dynamics with one another. Those dynamics are very nice too.

Art:

The animation is well done. It moves smoothly and just generally does a good job at holding any given tone. I love some of the mechanical designs, especially the old tank that Noël spends a good portion of the series working on. I appreciate that the girls are given proper uniforms instead of going full GI Joe solely for the sake of having variety. But, in all fairness, GI Joe has a bunch of similar looking characters while this has characters with distinctive appearances.

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Sound:

Our major characters are voiced by Yuuki Aoi, Kanemoto Hisako, Kobayashi Yuu, Endou Aya & Kitamura Eri. They’re all absolutely fantastic. The side characters have good acting as well with the talents of Fukuen Misato, Yasokawa Mayuno, Ishizuka Unshou (don’t be surprised if he asks whether you’re a boy or girl) and others. Oshima Michiru’s sound track is fantastic. Even the Amazing Grace motif and I’m saying that as someone who doesn’t generally like that song.

Ho-yay:

There’s a fair amount. This is one of those series where all the girls seem interested in one another. It’s especially true at the point where they talk about their dreams. I don’t want to spoil anything too specific since that episode takes place after the climax, but putting it in vague terms, one girl wants to be a bride. And I’m fairly certain she wants to marry the other girl she’s been writing to, based on their dynamic and interactions. Another girl wants to stay with yet another female character forever and her expression along with the flush on her face when she says it indicates that she’s thinking of tribadism and cunning linguistics. Plus the two of them are incredibly homo-erotic throughout.

Final Thoughts:

How the hell did Yoshino write this, then write something as bad as Dance in the Vampire Bund directly after? Because this is a fantastic anime. Virtually everything about it works and works really well whereas that’s practically the opposite. Is Yoshino actually twin brothers who take turns turning in what they’ve been working on with one being a complete knob and the other skilled? Does he lose all writing ability when exposed to indigo kryptonite? Is the studio working with both him and his goatee sporting counterpart from an evil opposite universe? Is it just  that he was doing his best to adapt a really shit manga? Whatever the case, I’ll give this series a 9/10. Next week, Fortune Quest: Yo ni mo Shiawase na Boukensha-tachi.

May Bonus Review: Blake’s 7 Series 1

Blake's 7

Blake’s 7 is one of the BBC’s classic science fiction programs. It started in the late 70s ad ran into the early 80s for a total of four series. It was created by Terry Nation, a man who also worked on Doctor Who back when that was actually worth something. He even created one of the most iconic enemies for that franchise, the Daleks. Does this hold up as well?

Story:

We open with our protagonist, Roj Blake being called out for a mysterious meeting. He’s told that the government is controlling the population with drugs in the water & food, not the same ones that turn the frogs gay according to cranks but real ones. He’s also told that he was a leader in the resistance before he was captured and had his mind tampered with to make him a symbol for the regime. He’s skeptical until soldiers barge in and shoot the entire unarmed resistance. They take Blake prisoner and he soon finds himself framed for a crime he didn’t commit and en route to a prison on the world of Cygnus Alpha.

Things take a slight turn for the better when he and a pair of other prisoners, Jenna & Avon, are sent to examine a potentially dangerous ship. They manage to survive its trap and gain control over it. With a highly advanced craft at their command, Blake sees the potential of mounting a resistance against the federation while Avon thinks him a crusader and a fool. From there we follow Blake’s ragtag crew of criminals while they try and damage the federation using guerrilla tactics while evading pursuit.

The series doesn’t have much wrong with its narrative. I like the way it subverts a lot of standard sci-fi plots by simply making the antagonists competent. Blake and his crew aren’t shown as being able to match the federation. Rather, they’re shown as barely escaping them while making a nuisance of themselves. Which is an interesting take since most series like this take great pains to show you that the heroes have some chance, even if a slim one. I also like that the series manages to have a sense of fun alongside its air of futility. Which it manages by not dwelling overmuch on how little of a chance they have and by celebrating their small victories. The series is also really good at setting up interesting scenarios and challenges for the crew.

Characters:

Another strong suit of the series lies in the characterisation. Blake may be a crusader, but his crew all have their own reasons for sticking around. Avon, for example, likes the rest of the crew on a personal level, but he sticks around because he wants control of the ship. The rest  of the crew has motivations more along the lines of having nowhere else to go or being taken in by Blake’s idealism. Every single character has a back story that explains why they’re in the position they’re in and both Jenna and Blake get some elements of their past used in episode narratives. Even the antagonists get some moments of humanity, with Travis becoming upset over a friend of his at one point.

Visuals:

This is definitely the area that has’t aged well. Like with any old science fiction work, the effects are dated and the set pieces can most definitely look cheap. It holds up  better than the original Star Trek but not by as much as it should, given that it came out around a decade after that series ended. The fight choreography can also come across as slow and cumbersome.I’ll give full credit that the designers clearly had ambitions and a very limited budget and I wouldn’t say the series ever looks bad.

Acting and Music

The acting varies a bit. Most of the cast is quite good. Paul Darrow is absolutely phenomenal. Gareth Thomas, Michael Keating, Jacqueline Pearce  & Stephen Greif are all really good. Then you have Owen Aaronovitch & Sally Knyvette who are kind of weak. Not bad, but certainly not on par with everyone else. Dudley Simpson composed the theme tune for the series and it’s bloody amazing.

Final Thoughts:

In the areas that matter most, Blake’s 7 remains a science fiction classic for good reason. The characters are interesting, the writing is superb and the cast, by and large, is excellent. If you’re a fan of really well done sci-fi and can appreciate the classics, give it a go. But if you want your sci-fi to have all the latest and most expensive special effects, it’s not going to be for you. As for me, I’d say the first series is a strong start and I’m going to give it a very well deserved 8/10.

Renkin San-kyuu Magical? Pokaan: GA, meet Bottle Fairy

Renkin San-kyuu Magical? Pokaan is a magical girl comedy from 2006. It was brought to us by Remic. Never heard of them? Well, they don’t have many credits to their name so that’s not a surprise. Let’s hope it gives as favourable first impression.

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Story:

We follow four princesses from the Netherworld. The witch, Uma, the vampire, Pachira, the werewolf, Liru & the android, Aiko. One of these things is not like the others, not like the others, not like the others. The four of them are living in the human world and all kinds of shenanigans ensue. That’s the basic crux of the comedy in the series, the bizarre outsiders getting into strange situations.

The biggest weakness in the comedy is simply that the series sometimes puts its desire for more fan service over its humour. Its “jokes” that revolve around under garments or nudity tend to be the weakest. Sometimes they get a funny one out there, but they’re mostly just too predictable and not in the Space Balls, I can quote this by heart because it was just so memorable, way. No, it’s in the “this joke was obvious and really heavily telegraphed” way.

With that aside, this series does have a lot of funny moments. It melds the zany absurdism of a series like Galaxy Angel with the supernatural outsiders trying to engage with humanity aspect of Bottle Fairy and the two do mesh well. The whole “drinking game” episode is really funny. So is the sentai team parody episode. Actually, those two both remind me of episodes from the aforementioned Galaxy Angel but with completely different execution. The tanuki bit is one that involves some more ecchi elements, but still manages to be a surprise and pretty funny to boot. There are plenty of other funny bits as well.

Characters:

The series has one of those casts that only works in a comedy. The characters are zany, a bit shallow and, fortunately, have a good amount of comedic potential to their interactions. Remic could do a good four series more of this and not exhaust the possibilities. Even the minor characters who show up once or twice tend to have enough moments to be memorable. The invisible girl being the prime example. Which effectively makes them a strong cast for a comedic work. Although Aiko’s desire to become human is a bit odd. It’s like they were inspired by the best series of Star Trek but couldn’t be bothered to put in the more substantial characterisation that makes that motivation make sense.

Art:

All of you who are familiar with my reviews know exactly what my complaint is in regards to the art. Yes, it’s our old nemesis, excessive fan-service again. At least in a totally not serious series like this the only way it detracts is just based on the general crassness rather than being detrimental to the tone or impractical. I also have to give them credit for trying to blend the fan-service with the humour to make it relevant, even if that is the weak point of the comedy. I kind of like the character designs (they might’ve overdone the invisible girl’s make up though) and the artistic direction is generally really good.

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Sound:

For our main cast we have Nabatame Hitomi (also Aida Mana), Hirano Aya (also Haruhi), Saitou Momoko (also Solty) & Akesaka Satomi (also Korokoro) as our main characters. The four of them give really good performances and work well together. Then we have the music. This is one of those series where the theme tune doesn’t remotely fit. Maybe Remic thought it would be a nice jape to put in a really serious looking theme tune, but it kind of doesn’t work when you use the same tune with every episode. It would be another thing completely if they kept changing it to other tunes that ran completely opposite to the tone but they never do. The ending theme tune changes regularly, but the opening is just the same overly serious thing every time and it just comes across as inept.

Ho-yay:

There’s a little bit here and there, but the series is always quick to remind you that all of these girls are looking for handsome boyfriends. Because, you know, it’s a comedy about a group of girls and if you didn’t remind people they were straight they’d be shipping them all together. Although, let’s be fair, it could have very well just been that they had some good jokes about their romantic misadventures. This series does have quite a few of those. What are they supposed to do, have the same kinds of jokes about them pursuing other girls? That sounds like something I’d write. (New comedy, Tuesdays after the case files of Detective Hildegard. Except not really.)

Final Thoughts:

Magipoka, is a pretty solid comedy. Not the greatest one of all time, certainly, but it is quite good. If you enjoy zany absurdity, or the whole outsider trying to fit in types of comedy, give it a go. You’ll probably get some laughs out of it. My rating stands at a solid 7/10. Next week, So Ra No Wo To.