Tag Archives: Dragonball Z

Ktulu’s Third Annual Anime Awards & Shaming Ceremony

This year, I thought I’d try something a bit different with these. First off, I’m not going to bother with nominees. It occurs to me that having different nominees is only really helpful if I announce those in advance. Secondly, I’ll be hosting a “reader’s choice” awards. I’ll list every single anime I’ve reviewed this year, sorted alphabetically, in the comments section leave your own choices for the various awards. For those of you who are regular readers from AFT, I’ll be posting a special thread for you to use. You can vote for however many categories you want. They can be anything that actually relates to the award in question, regardless of whether or not I liked/disliked them. To give a few examples, Futari Wa Precure: Max Heart  won’t be eligible for the various film reviews & Corpse Party isn’t eligible for the comedic awards, because it has to be deliberately funny to be in the running for those. For your convenience, I’ve labelled all of the film reviews.

So, here’s our list of anime reviewed:

3×3 Eyes Seima Densetsu, Akuma no Riddle, All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku: Dash, Ankoku Cat, Appleseed (film), Cardcaptor Sakura: the movie (film), Choujigen Game Neptune: The Animation, Choujuu Densetsu Gestalt, Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch, Conqueror of Shamballa (film), Corpse Party: Tortured Souls, Death Parade, Divergence Eve, Dragonball Z: Fusion Reborn (film), Exlorer Woman Ray, Futari wa Precure: Max Heart, Gankutsuou, Ginga Ojou-sama Densetsu Yuna, Gintama, Glass no Kamen, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka, Hetalia: Paint it White (film), Hoshi wo ou Kodomo (film), Ice, Kannazuki no Miko, Kara no Kyoukai 6 (film), Kara no Kyoukai 7 (film), Kekkai Sensen, Kigurumikku V3, Kyattou Ninden Teyandee, Love Hina, Love Hina Again, Love Live, Love Live 2, Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha As, Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha Vivid, Mars of Destruction, Miyamoto Musashi: Souken ni Haseru Yume (film), Mushishi, Natsu no Arashi 2, Night Walker: Mayonaka no Tantei, Overlord, Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom, Sengoku Otome: Momoiro Paradox, Shigofumi, Shinrei Tantei Yakumo, Solty Rei, Spirited Away (film), Strike Witches, Sunabouzu, Uchuu Kyoudai, Whisper of the Heart (Film), Wooser no Sono Higurashi, X-men, Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru, Yuru Yuri 2, Yuru Yuri San Hai 

Now that that’s taken care of, let’s go over my personal choices for this year’s awards.

The Moffat Award for unbearably awful writing within a supposedly mostly serious series or OVA. Previous winners: Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge & Neon Genesis Evangelion

This year’s Moffat award winner is, from Madhouse, X-men. 

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You’re probably thinking, “really, Ktulu? You’ve reviewed Mars of Destruction, Ice & Corpse Party: Tortured Souls this year, but X-men stands out as the worst?” Yes, yes it does. Don’t get me wrong, all of these are terrible in their own right, but there are two things that makes X-men worse than those other three, for me. The first is that it’s the longest. Which gives it more time for its stupidity. The second is that I have a bigger attachment to X-men than I do those other series. I’ve never played the games that Corpse Party & Mars of Destruction are based on nor have I read the novel that Ice is based on. Maybe they’re good and the anime versions butchered them, maybe they’re just as bad. What I have read are a lot of X-men issues. As written by Chris Claremont, this is easily one of my favourite super hero teams. Which makes seeing them written as badly as they are in this series particularly infuriating.

The Simone Award for writing excellence is a mostly serious series or OVA. Our previous winners were Psycho Pass & Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. 

This year the Simone award goes to Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS.

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This one was tough to decide with StrikerS, Mushishi & Death Parade all in the running, but, in the end, StrikerS is the one I have the most fondness for by a very slight margin.

The Abrams Award for Horrendous film writing. Our previous winners were End of Evangelion & Metropolis.

This year the Abrams Award goes to Hetalia: Paint it White.

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As fond as I am of the series itself, the film was a lazy drudge with recycled gags and basically nothing good that was actually original for the franchise.

The Miyazaki Award for stellar film writing. Our previous winners were Nausicaa & Kara no Kyoukai 4. 

This year’s Miyazaki award goes to Spirited Away. 

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An excellent film from Studio Ghibli and the best I’ve watched this year.

The Macfarlane award for most failed comedy. Our prior winners were OreImo & Kill la Kill. 

This year, the Macfarlane award goes to Sunabouzu.

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A series that treated rape as uproariously funny and consistently found new ways to defy good taste and be genuinely one of the worst things I’ve ever seen.

The Pratchett award for comedic excellence. Our previous winners were Bottle Fairy & Doki Doki Precure.

This year’s Pratchett award goes to Yuru Yuri San Hai.

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It was difficult to choose between this and the second series of Love Live but, ultimately, San Hai came out on top by the slightest of margins.

The Meyer award for worst written romance. Our previous winners were OreImo & Mawaru Penguindrum.

This year’s Meyer award goes to Love Hina Again.

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Have you ever wanted to see a love triangle with a guy, his sister and the girl who abuses him? If you answered in the affirmative, I question your mental health. But that’s what Love Hina Again provides.

Next up we have the Kanemaki award for greatest romance. The previous winners of this one were Btooom & Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha.

This year, the Kanemaki award goes to Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS.

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They had a fantastic budding romance in the first series. In StrikerS, they have a stellar mature romance. Nanoha and Fate are a spectacular couple.

The Anno award for flattest, most uninteresting cast. Previous winners were End of Evangelion & Neon Genesis Evangelion.

This year it goes to Love Hina Again. 

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The only reason that Sunabouzu didn’t take this one is that its characters are supposed to be unlikable. That’s the joke. Love Hina gives us a bunch of characters we’re supposed to like, because… they’re one-dimensional and obnoxious and Love Hina Again lowers the bar by adding in the incestuous sister character.

The Moore award for best cast. Our previous winners were Sailor Moon & Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin.

This year’s Moore award goes to Death Parade.

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Death Parade gives us a  group of characters who are highly endearing and have a lot to them. Both in terms of major characters and in terms of one episode characters.

The Bendis award for worst major conflict. The previous winners were From up on Poppy Hill & Sword Art Online.

This year’s Bendis award goes to Ice.

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Ice is a series where the main conflict really doesn’t work even in concept. We have a future with only women. we have two major factions. One wants to save humanity, but not with the tested, functional methods we have to let two women reproduce with one another. They want to use some convoluted nonsense. We also have another group that hates science because it’s a man’s field (Nothing insulting to all the female scientists out there at all) and just wants to let everything end while they indulge in hedonism. Both of these groups are insufferably stupid and it makes their conflict really uninteresting.

The Claremont award for most compelling conflict. Our previous winners for this one are Psycho Pass & Shingeki no Kyojin.

This year’s Claremont award goes to Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A’s.

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What makes this conflict so good is that the antagonists are really endearing and have an incredibly sympathetic motivation. You want to see Nanoha & Fate pull through, but you also want the guardian knights to come out okay. You’re legitimately torn between the groups and it makes the conflict really compelling.

The Liefeld award for visual ineptitude. Our previous winners were Aku no Hana & Amada anime Series: Super Mario Brothers.

This year, we’re doing something a bit different and giving two out. One for the film category and the other for the series/OVA category. Our winners are Dragonball Z: Fusion Reborn & Corpse Party: Tortured Souls.

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In the case of Fusion Reborn, the big artistic failing is that the action sequences are weak, which is pretty sad when you have something as action-oriented as Dragonball. In Tortured Souls the big issue is that it looks goofy. The gore effects are overblown to the point of absurd and the monsters just look silly. The artwork takes scenes that are supposed to be intense and makes them unintentionally hilarious.

Next we have the Urbino award for visual excellence. Our previous winners were Nausicaa & Tokyo Godfathers. 

This year, there will be two. One for the film category & one for the series/OVA category. Our winners are Spirited Away & Mushishi.

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Both of these works are really well detailed with some stellar nature scenes and they just look really superb.

The Spencer award for acting incompetence. Our previous winners were the English dub of Sailor Moon & Neon Genesis Evangelion.

This year, the Spencer award goes to Ice.

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Ultimately, Ice suffers from casting several girls who can’t act in major roles and from Ishida Akira’s worst performance. In spite of him being a genuinely good actor.

The Sir Stewart award for impeccable acting. Our previous winners were Black Rock Shooter (OVA) & Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha.

This year’s Sir Stewart award goes to Glass no Kamen.

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What makes this series stand out are the multiple performances from Kobayashi Sanae & Yajima Akiko as their characters don different asks for the stage. They have to play their own characters, plus the characters their characters are playing and they have to do all of it really well for the series to work. Which they do, brilliantly.

The Perry award for ear-splitting awful music. Our previous winners were the English dub of Sailor Moon & Street Fighter II.

This year’s Perry award winner is Mars of Destruction.

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As much as I love classical music, Mars of Destruction uses it in a very shoddy way, not bothering to match the music to what’s happening on screen. That, in addition to the crappy sound mixing, makes it the worst.

Our final award is the Kloss award for loveliest music. The previous winners were Slayers Perfect & K-on: The Movie. 

This year’s Kloss award goes to Love Live series 2.

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The music in this series really is spectacular and the way the actresses harmonise is superb.

So, those are my choices this year. Feel free to leave a comment with your choices from the list or you can e-mail me at ktuluthedarkone@hotmail.com. Thanks for following me this year and I hope you’ll continue to do so in the following year, even when our tastes are very different. In two weeks I’ll post the reader’s choice winners. Have a happy Valentine’s all.

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The Illusion of Depth

Have you ever noticed that media with strange and outlandish imagery is often celebrated as being deep and thought provoking regardless of whether or not that imagery actually adds up to anything. In fact, these works are frequently more celebrated than truly complex works that are more straightforward in their presentation. Why do people find this illusory depth so compelling? My theory is that there are five primary factors behind it.

The first factor is simply that it’s human nature to look for meaning. We like things to happen for a reason. When we see strange images we want them to have meaning behind them. Even if there isn’t any intended meaning we’ll construct one because it’s difficult for us, as human beings, to accept that some things are meaningless and that that’s okay. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with constructing meaning where there is none. I would just encourage awareness when that’s what you’re doing.

This brings me to the second factor, which is tangentially related to the first. People don’t like to feel stupid. When someone sees something with really odd imagery they assume it’s gotta add up to something and they don’t want to admit that they don’t see what that might be because doing so makes them feel like they’ve failed in some way. This is particularly true in situations where you see other people raving about how deep something is. Therefore, they hoist a meaning onto it or they look at what others have come up with and select the interpretation that they like best. By doing so they can say that they get it and feel intelligent.

This brings me to the third factor. It’s really easy, and simultaneously psychologically satisfying, to construct a deep meaning for something.You could take something as basic and action-oriented as Dragonball Z and give it a deep meaning about the psychological breakdown of a neglectful husband/father (Goku) who retreats from reality and imagines himself as a great hero to excuse the fact that he was never there for his wife or son and pictures his son’s new father as a green alien who happens to be a mentor figure for his son and who happens to be part of an asexual species so he’s not a threat in that way. The reason there’s a time-skip with Goku being dead is because he loses his visitation rights and can’t imagine what his son looked like during the time he didn’t see him. You can literally do that with any series and come up with something. That’s also why you get so many fan theories floating around online. It’s satisfying because it makes you feel intelligent for having “cracked the secret.”

This brings me to the fourth point. There’s an attachment to constructed meanings. Once you’ve assigned a meaning to a work you tend to be proud of that meaning. Especially when the creator of that work hasn’t come forward with what it actually means or even when they say it means nothing. It’s something you came up with that gave you satisfaction and made you feel smart. It’s not really surprising that there would be investment in it.

I have to stress once again that there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s an entire critical philosophy that’s dedicated to constructed meanings. However, that brings me to the final point and the negative side of constructed meanings. A lot of people become really rabid about them. Which is strange in the sense that the whole constructed meaning (viewer/reader response) line of criticism is based on the idea that there are no wrong answers. Someone can believe that the meaning is X, Y, Z or nothing and they’re all equally valid. But a lot of the people who use this school of critical thought will get deeply offended by answers that are the opposite of theirs or by the idea that there’s no meaning. For a lot of people it’s easier to pick a meaning for works like this, even if they think it’s actually total bollocks, than it is to face the wrath of the rabid portion of its fan-base.

So, that’s why the illusion of depth can be so much more alluring for some people than actual depth. Because we want meaning, finding it makes us feel smart, it’s easy to come up with something if you want to, it gives you an attachment to the interpretation and there are always the people who will feign a constructed meaning just to avoid making people mad.

That being said, I would encourage actual critical examinations of works like these. Go into them without any expectation for meaning and see if the idea of meaning actually holds up. If it’s something without any proper meaning and it does require constructed meaning, go ahead and construct one if you like. Just be aware of that and treat people who came up with different answers, or with no answer, with respect.

That’s what I think on that topic. Feel free to leave a comment on what you think of illusory depth or if you think there’s a factor to it that I missed or if you’ve got a constructed meaning to share or a story about dealing with someone who took that far too seriously. Next Saturday I’m planning another manga review so we’ll see how that works out.

Dragonball Z: Fusion Reborn

I’ve talked about Toriyama Akira’s Dragonball and I’ve talked about the Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods movie. Now it’s time to delve into the franchise once more with a look at the twelfth Dragonball Z movie, Fusion Reborn. Will it be on the level of the fourteenth movie or is this one of the weak Dragonball Z films?

Story:

Our story opens after the Buu saga with an afterlife tournament where Goku faces off against Paikuhan, in spite of the fact that Goku was resurrected by the old Kaio during the Buu saga and the fact that the grand Kaio decided that the prize for the afterlife tournament needed to be withheld for a while so he could get back in shape. Unsurprisingly, this is a Dragonball Z movie that doesn’t fit in with the continuity, which is an issue with a lot of them. Moving on, King Yama is busy judging souls while the oni in charge of monitoring the soul cleansing equipment goofs off. This results in an accident which causes the evil to burst out and transform the young oni into Janemba, a being of pure evil that seals Yama’s palace, enabling the souls of the dead to break free and roam around on Earth. The tournament is postponed so that Goku and Paikuhan can investigate.

To be fair, the concept behind this isn’t a bad one. The idea of the dead wreaking havoc could have been very interesting. But this is DBZ so it’s used as an excuse for action sequences and that’s pretty much it. To be fair, that’s pretty much to be expected from the franchise and it’s what people are going to be watching the film for. That’s why the biggest problem is the final fight itself. It is really anti-climactic. You get some good buildup for it, but the fight itself ends in about thirty seconds. Mr. Satan fought Cell longer than Gogeta fights Janemba. On the positive side, the film does have some funny moments and some stupidly awesome bits, including Trunks and Goten fighting undead nazis.

Characters:

The film focuses primarily on the saiyajin and half saiyajin characters. Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, Trunks and Goten. Videl also plays a somewhat significant role. None of them really develop in any substantial way over the course of the film, but you do get a good sense of their personalities, which is fair enough given that the film isn’t even an hour long. Then we have our villain, Janemba. He’s basically like Majin Buu right down to starting as an obese man-child and transforming into a meaner, more heavily muscled form. It’s like the Frieza and Cooler thing where a film just makes a weaker copy of a villain from the main series.

Art:

The artwork and animation are pretty decent. The biggest issue is that the action sequences are kind of weak in this one. Given how much the franchise relies on those, that’s pretty bad. I will give the film credit for having some really interesting backgrounds during its tour of hell.

Sound:

The entire vocal cast delivers decent performances. There’s some exaggeration, but no more than the usual given the franchise’s tendency to have dudes screaming to get stronger. The music is pretty good.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any homo-eroticism in this movie.

Final Thoughts:

Dragonball Z: Fusion Reborn is an action movie with some good ideas and funny moments, but that suffers from weak action and a boring antagonist. It isn’t a bad movie, nor is it one of the worst DBZ films for what it is, but there are a lot of better Dragonball Z films out there. This one is just kind of dull. My final rating for it is going to be a 5/10. Tomorrow I’ll take a look at Spirited Away.

Film Festival Week: DBZ: Battle of Gods

Dragonball Z is another franchise everyone’s heard of. People tend to either love it for its characters and action sequences or think it’s kind of stupid because it’s kind of a mindless action series where people scream to get stronger. Whatever your opinion on the series, Toriyama Akira’s creation has certainly had a profound impact on pop culture. It also has over a dozen films. So, you may be wondering which one I’m looking at today. Well, that would be the most recent film from just last year. Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods.

Story:

The narrative begins with the Northern Kai talking to the Supreme Kai, using their long distance communication technique, about the awakening of the God of destruction, Beerus. Goku overhears, being on the Kai’s planet for training because taking care of his family would not be fun and it’s much better to wander off to distant planets where they can’t find him. We cut to Beerus, who’s waking up from his slumber. He and his companion, Wiss, discuss what’s been happening with Frieza and Beerus learns that he was killed by a super saiyan. This reminds him of something he heard from the oracle fish, which is apparently a thing, about a Super Saiyan God. So, he and Wiss go on a mission to find out what that is. They start with Goku, whom Beerus easily defeats in a quick sparring match. Then they head to Earth, the Northern Kai warning Vegeta to not fight or upset Beerus, lest the God decide to destroy the planet.

There are several things the movie does well. It has a great sense of humour. It’s also really interesting to see Vegeta try to appease Beerus, even though you know it’s Dragonball Z and it’s only a matter of time until the fight sequence. I also do like that the ultimate resolution isn’t what you’d expect from the franchise. There’s also one really satisfying fact about the film. It invalidates GT. If you’re not a fan of the franchise, let me give you the short version. GT was a sequel to Dragonball Z that the original writer, Toriyama Akira, had absolutely nothing to do with. Most fans hated it. So, how does Battle of Gods flip this unwanted sequel the proverbial bird? Pilaf, Shu and Mai, three antagonists from the original Dragonball, appear in the film as little kids, having wished for youth at some unspecified time before. In GT the three of them appear as elderly and decrepit, while characters who are now older than them are just middle-aged.

Now, let’s go into the negative aspects. There are really two major narrative problems with the film. The first just doesn’t make much sense. Why does the Northern Kai only warn Vegeta? I get the reason from a comedic perspective. It puts Vegeta in a situation where he has to try to keep this guy calmed down while no one else realises the danger. But from a story perspective, it doesn’t make any bloody sense. Why tell the guy who’s known for his bad temper but not tell any of the people who could exercise a more calming influence? It’s not like Piccolo or Gohan is going to panic because someone ridiculously strong is coming or they’re going to deliberately antagonise him when they know the risk just to see his power.

That brings me to the second problem, which is a bit of a spoiler. I know, I usually try to avoid telling you major plot details, but this one needs to be talked about. Basically, they discover that summoning the “Super Saiyan God” requires five Saiyans putting their energy into a sixth. That leads to a bit of a pinch. They only have five; Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, Trunks and Goten. Enter one of the dumbest plot points I’ve ever seen. Videl is pregnant and the baby is going to be a quarter Saiyan, so they’re able to draw upon the… power of the fetus to complete the transformation. You may notice that your brain actually hurts from reading that sentence. Let me assure you, I am not making that up. I know, it’s hard to believe that any franchise would do something that profoundly stupid, but it actually happens.

Characters:

Since Dragonball Z has a massive cast, I’ll keep the bulk of the discussion to the characters who play an important role in the film Yeah, you see most of the major supporting characters from the series like Yamcha, Krillin, Tenshinhan, Chiaotzu and so on. They get very little dialogue and they don’t do much. If you’re a fan of their characters you’ll probably be happy to see them otherwise you’ll just notice that they’re there.

Vegeta gets some really good character moments in this. Actually, his entire family does. Vegeta, Bulma and Trunks all get some great moments and they interact with each other really strongly. Surprisingly so given that the film is only an hour and a half long. I also really like the Pilaf, Mai & Shu scenes. They were really funny in the original Dragonball and this film sees their triumphant return. Beerus is also a great antagonist. He’s hilarious and just a delight.

Art:

The art in this is superb. It has Toriyama’s signature character designs with really detailed backgrounds. I especially loved Beerus’s world. It looks amazing. The fight scenes are what you’d expect with quick movements and flashy attacks. Although, being a movie, they don’t spend nearly as much time with characters powering up or with moves that take a long time to charge. Which is frankly for the best since the fights in the series proper tend to drag because of that kind of thing. The fights in this are a lot smoother.

Sound:

Everyone in the cast is pretty good. The best performances come from Tsuru Hiromi, Horikawa Ryo and Yamadera Kouichi as Bulma, Vegeta and Beerus respectively. The music is also really good.

Ho-yay:

There is none. 1/10.

Final Thoughts:

There are some really good things about this film. The comedic moments, the antagonist, the interactions with Vegeta and his family, the non-traditional ending and invalidating GT are all reasons to give it a watch. That being said, there are also some serious problems. The Northern Kai’s decision to warn only Vegeta makes no sense. The fetus helping them power up is oh so mind-numbingly stupid. All of the characters who are in the background but neither say nor do anything important beyond giving Bulma’s party a sense of size. Which is kind of a flimsy justification for their presence. Still, I would recommend it to fans of the Dragonball franchise and I did enjoy watching it over all. As such, my final rating is going to be a 7/10. Tomorrow, Film Festival week continues with something more… futuristic.