Tag Archives: X-men

December Bonus Review #1: Star Trek: Next Gen/ X-men Second Contact

Some crossover ideas just don’t work even when you hear them. Like combining Final Fantasy with random Disney worlds or having The Looney Tunes, Muppet Babies, Ninja Turtles, Smurfs, Winnie The Poo, Chipmunks, Garfield and Alf all combine forces to talk about Marijuana or having Archie meet the Ninja Turtles. On the surface, this seems slightly better than those but not like something that could work well. I love Star Trek: Next Gen and I have a great fondness for the X-men. The book was brilliant for that decade when Chris Claremont was writing it. However, they just don’t seem like they’d mesh well. But let’s take a look, maybe it’s better than it sounds.

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Story:

We open with the Enterprise crew returning to their time after the events of First Contact. But something goes askew and they end up in the past. They detect Shi’ar technology and realise that, not only shouldn’t it be there, but it’s their only hope of repairing their ship and returning home. This leads them to the X-men who happen to recognise the Enterprise name from that time they met the original series crew.

The two groups are approached by Kang who warns them that there are anomalies thanks to the Enterprise crossing over from another time and universe. They decide that even though he’s known to be evil, they can’t take the risk and set out to fix things.

Therein lies the first big problem with this crossover, Kang is lying. Yeah, that’s perfectly in keeping with his character but the Enterprise crew has Counsellor Deanna Troi on it. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with Next Gen, Counsellor Troi is half Betazoid. They’re an alien species that can read the minds of most species. As a half blood, she can’t read minds properly but she is an empath and she can sense things like, say, when someone’s deceiving her. There are several episodes where that comes up as an important plot point and she should sense immediately that Kang is lying to them but she doesn’t cause the whole plot of them travelling to Wolf 359 from Star Trek and the X-men’s Days of the Future Past wouldn’t happen if her abilities were working as they should. Shadowcat gets the same kind of treatment. At one point she phases through a Sentinel and they forget that she short-circuits machinery when she phases through it.

Another issue is just that the whole situation is a bit boring. They meet, decide to work together, fight some threats that should be kind of menacing but come across as kind of weak given how easily they’re dispatched. It all comes across as more than a little rushed. Although I will give them some credit for trying to give both teams equal time in the spotlight.

Characters:

Both of these casts should be great, in theory. Unfortunately, the writing from Abnett and Edgington doesn’t do them justice. They come across as pretty bland. And some characters, like Angel, don’t get to do or say anything. I’m not even kidding. Angel is there, but he seems to spend all his time in the background just standing around. I don’t recall him even getting a line of dialogue. Doctor Crusher doesn’t fare much better. They also don’t do much with the characters interacting. They go on missions together, sure, but they don’t talk much beyond very strict, business stuff. If I were someone who really wanted to read this crossover thinking it might be good, I would be very disappointed.

Art:

The artwork has its moments. The characters in general look decent enough. As do the backgrounds and action sequences. One issue with it is that the dialogue balloon placement isn’t the best and it can be challenging to figure out who’s supposed to be talking in large group shots. Maybe that’s where all of Angel’s dialogue is. There’s also a big artwork fail in a panel with Banshee and Commander Riker. To put it simply, they’re exchanging some dialogue while Banshee is clearly using his powers. For those who don’t know, Banshee’s power is a sonic scream. He literally can’t use it and talk at the same time. It would be like Cyclops shooting his optic blasts while reading.

Areas of Improvement:
This one is going to be a challenge, because I honestly don’t know how to make this a good crossover using what’s presented as a base. If I was writing something completely on my own, maybe I could manage it. So, I’ll kind of have to settle for suggestions that might have made it somewhat passable.

  1. Reworking Kang’s Villainy. Honestly, I would have him use a combined force of Sentinels and Borg drones to steal the Shi’ar tech. You could keep the same villains, give both teams a reason to go after him and you wouldn’t need to drag a bunch of extra characters in just so they could have a cameo.
  2. Let the Teams Chat. This comic could be way more interesting if the X-men and Enterprise crew had some real banter. Wolverine and Worf could talk about what it means to be a warrior. Storm and Captain Picard could talk about what his future’s stance on mutants might be. Shadowcat could talk tech with Geordi, or at least try to because I doubt he’d give her any real information even though she’s an enthusiastic nerd when it comes to technology. Having more banter would really liven the story up.
  3. Give Angel and Doctor Crusher something to do. Seriously, if you’re going to be bothered putting them in, let them do something.

Final Thoughts:

Second Contact isn’t dreadful. It has pretty decent art, mostly. And there’s clearly effort put into making it an equal crossover. Unfortunately, the details are off, which puts in some pretty significant plot holes. The teams have weak interactions which, in turn, makes the characterisation come across as weak. But hey, maybe the actual novel they advertise at the end as a continuation is better. This comic is pretty bad though. I give it a 3/10.

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March Bonus Review: Pryde of the X-men

The X-men are, without any doubt, one of my favourite super hero teams. At least, they were back when Chris Claremont was doing his nearly two decade long run on the team. When he was still a couple years away from the end of his run, there was an attempt at making a television series based on the mutant team. It was 1989 and Marvel wanted to follow in Hasbro’s footsteps of making successful cartoons based off of their licenses to sell toys. So, why did Pryde of the X-men ultimately fail, thereby forcing us to wait for three years before the team would actually get their cartoon? Let’s take a look.

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Story:

We open with Magneto being transferred, presumably to some prison, by a military convoy. Fortunately for him, the White Queen comes to his rescue. Weren’t his ties to the Hellfire club something he had for pragmatic purposes while he was the headmaster over the New Mutants and a member of the X-men? I guess the cartoon universe is just different. Cut to young Kitty Pryde driving to the X-mansion clutching a letter. Turns out, Xavier found out about her powers and, instead of wasting his time visiting with her parents to get her enrolled in his school (like what he did in the comics) he just decided to send her an ominous letter about how he knows her secret. The X-men run off to answer an alarm while Magneto leads the Juggernaut, who doesn’t even like mutants save for Black Tom, on an attack to steal a Cerebro circuit while Xavier is home with just the young Kitty Pryde. Now, it’s up to the X-men to foil his machinations and save the world.

The first issue with this as a pilot is just that they introduce far too many characters at once. Not only do we have the X-men, with Xavier, Kitty, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm, Cyclops, Dazzler and Wolverine but we also have a huge number of villains with Magneto, the White Queen, Juggernaut, the Blob, Pyro, Toad and little Lockheed hanging around their base for some reason. The next issue is with the action. We don’t actually see our heroes fight as a team or accomplish that much. Rather, the villains come at them one at a time and the X-men have one member bugger off to face the villain who shows up one on one. Save Storm who gets left behind to mind the atmosphere. And that doesn’t make for particularly compelling action. Seriously, compare it to the two part Night of the Sentinels from the good cartoon where we see the X-men fight as a team. We see every member contribute and we see robots getting torn to pieces in the final action sequence, which is about the same length as the big action scene here. Trying to connect all your major villains also really doesn’t work when you’re using a team like the X-men.

About the only bit of praise I can give this one is that the very basic premise could have worked. Having a seasoned team with a young mutant being added in who has to prove herself and learn to cope with her own abilities could have been used in a much better cartoon. You know, like the early 90s one where a team of seasoned mutants is joined by you Jubilee who has to learn to cope with her own abilities and prove herself. In all fairness, though, it could have also worked with the X-men team they used in this.

Characters:

So, fifteen characters was clearly too ambitious for a pilot introducing the whole premise and the natural consequence is that the cast is really under-developed. There are some more specific issues, though. The first is that Colossus awkwardly refers to himself in the third person. Then there’s Nightcrawler. Poor Nightcrawler. Every time he appears in a cartoon they seem to really screw him up. Even the good cartoon. In this one, he comes across as kind of pervy and as someone you really don’t want near children. Remember when his appearance made Kitty uncomfortable in the comics so he was nice to her but generally kept a respectful distance until she was able to get comfortable with him? In this he gets kind of aggressive about forcing the issue and Neil Ross’s unintentionally creepy voice acting just makes it so much worse.

Speaking of characters who seem to be written perpetually badly in adaptations, let’s talk about Shadowcat. In the comics, she’s a young genius who comes across as a very bright youngster but is still believable as a youngster. This suffers the same problem as certain other adaptations where they decide to make her far less intelligent and more of a generic good girl. Magneto also suffers from losing his complexity and being made a more generic villain, like he was in the silver age. I guess Larry Parr just didn’t want complex Jewish characters. Or he just isn’t good with complexity period. That’s also a distinct possibility.

Art:

This is one area where I can, as a whole, give the cartoon credit. Toei did a lot of the animation work on this and it does look pretty good. I also do like the costumes it uses. Even if they did forget Magneto’s gloves and just left his hands bare and they made Wolverine too tall.

Sound:

Any good will I might have from that is quickly cancelled by the sound. The acting in this is horrendously bad. Patrick Pinney gives Wolverine an Australian accent which is just stupid. He’s Canadian. What’s next, an X-men adaptation that has him voiced by an Australian doing a really poor fake American accent? No, I’m sure no production studio could possibly be that idiotic. The accents in this are just awful in general. Neil Ross’s Deutsch accent is bad. Dan Gilvezan’s Russian accent is terrible. The voice acting just comes across as low effort, no skill and they did get some people who can voice act. They got Frank Welker, for instance. The music is okay. Not anything good but decent enough.

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately, it’s not surprising that Pryde of the X-men failed to transition into a full series. It’s not the worst X-men adaptation I’ve ever seen but it is pretty bad. The writing’s a mess, the characters are completely uninteresting and some of them are handled in off-putting ways, the acting is atrocious and it just fails to do the team any justice. Which is a pity because, like I said, this team composition could have worked if they’d put some effort in. My final rating is going to be a 3/10. Still better than what Madhouse did with the group. I guess Marvel tried too hard to copy Hasbro without understanding why they were a success. In fact, next month I’ll look at one of Hasbro’s toy-based cartoons and let’s see why it worked for them.

Combining games for fun and profit

Lately, we’ve seen quite a few games released that combine the mechanics of two different games. Dynasty Warriors with both Zelda & Dragon Quest. Etrian Odyssey with Mystery Dungeon & Persona. Tekken with Pokémon. And that’s just to name a few. On one hand, it’s easy to understand why this happens. It’s an easy way to do something new with a franchise while also using game mechanics that are tried and true, even if they are such for a completely different game franchise. It’s also undoubtedly true that some of these combination games have been really good, melding elements of the two games for something that manages to be, strangely enough, unique.

Yeah, I’m not going to slag off the practice itself. Instead, I’m going to give you a list of five game combinations I’d like to see. Sorted by the one I’d like to see the least to the one I’d like the most.

5. Pokémon & Endless Ocean.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Endless Ocean, the idea is that you’re a diver mucking about underwater in various areas, interacting with marine life to learn about them including feeding and petting them. You even get dolphin friends to swim around with you. It’s a very relaxing game. Imagine how perfect that format would be for a game where you take the role of a Pokémon professor. You could explore various environments, not just the ocean but the forest, mountains and such, while studying wild Pokémon and gaining information for your Pokédex in the most world-building Pokémon game to date with an emphasis on exploration and environment rather than on battling. It wouldn’t be for every Pokémon fan but I’d certainly buy and sink hours of time into it.

4. Metroid & Borderlands

It’s no secret that I love most of the Metroid franchise, except that one game that basically nobody liked where Samus had Daddy issues for some reason. The games are about exploration and making your way through hostile worlds. However, one thing they haven’t really taken advantage of is the fact that Samus is a bounty hunter. Which is why I think it could benefit from taking some cues from Borderlands. Giving us a Metroid game with city hubs and quests. They could even adapt the gold rewards system to have Samus unlock armour, missile and weapon upgrades instead of just having her lose her power-ups and have to relocate them, usually attached to random statues.

3. Dragon Quest & Dissidia

Having a Final Fantasy based fighting game, that isn’t Ehrgeiz or anything like Ehrgeiz, was a brilliant move on Square-Enix’s part. And I’d love to see the same kind of treatment given to their other big RPG franchise, Dragon Quest. just tweak the mechanics a bit to be more suitable for the franchise and you’d almost certainly have a hit.

2. Persona & X-men Legends

The great thing about this combination is that it would work either way. You could have a more action-oriented Persona game where you can switch between characters readily and summon your personae for special attacks or a more traditional X-men RPG with an emphasis on the character dynamics. Which would also have the benefit of letting characters who don’t really work with the Legends style of gameplay, characters like Shadowcat, Mirage & Karma, take active roles in the party.

1. Fire Emblem & Neptunia

I know, I’m weird. That being said, I would love to see a more action-RPG style Fire Emblem game  where enemy soldiers are scattered throughout a map and you can avoid or engage them while making your way through the map. Where scavenging for materials is a big deal. With a female cast and where the Support conversation system is combined with Neptunia’s Lily rank system for a bit more of an involved dynamic when your ladies reach C, B, A or S-rank. Honestly, it could easily replace Blazing Sword as my favourite Fire Emblem title if it had characters and a narrative on par with it. Even if it couldn’t really include perma-death with a more Neptunia style battle system.

There you have it, some game combinations I, in all my eccentricity, would personally like to see. Feel free to leave your own ideas for cool combinations that haven’t been done yet in the comments.

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.

X-men: Nerd Rage Rising

Let’s go back to our old friends at Madhouse in their attempts to adapt Marvel comics. I’ve already looked at Blade, which was okay, but let’s look at another attempt. In this case, the X-men, a super hero team that hasn’t been well written in the comics proper since Chris Claremont’s run ended. Which is a pity since Claremont’s run made them my favourite super hero team. It’s not like they’ve gotten all bad writers either. They got Grant Morrison and he can do really well when writing original works or when given proper oversight. Unfortunately, they let him off his leash for his run on the book and he piddled on everything, as Grant Morrison is wont to do. Can Madhouse succeed where so many have failed? I’m going to go full blown nerd and take a look.

Story:

Our tale opens up with the very end of the Dark Phoenix Saga, which is a bad sign right off the bat. The saga worked in the comics, well the first time it was used, because there was a lot of build up, time to get invested and because it was done in a time when super heroes almost never died and when characters stayed dead as opposed to coming back in a couple months. But this has no build up at all. If you don’t know the comics then you have no reason to care about what’s happening and if you do you’ve probably gotten used to seeing Jean die at this point and it just doesn’t affect you anymore, whether you like her as a character or not. During the fight, the X-men notice that Jean was being manipulated by the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle, which they just refer to as the Inner Circle in this. A year passes and Xavier summons Cyclops, Beast, Wolverine & Storm to the Institute because he finds out there’s something strange going on in Japan. There’s a region where neither Cerebro nor Xavier can scan and mutants there are going missing.

There are quite a few issues in this, some more minor and some significant. I’ll go over them one by one, in no particular order, not including the mishandling of the Dark Phoenix Saga since I already talked about it. For starters, this series has a lot of short, dumb moments. Beast giving a squid a microphone that enables it to speak English, the characters standing around talking and expositing when they should be taking action, the villains having a good chance to kill the heroes but not bothering because they haven’t finished going over the details of their evil plan yet, Cyclops’ motorcycle that fires missiles and laser beams. Why does a guy who can fire solar powered optic blasts need a weapon-laden motorcycle? Does he just have a laser fetish? Wouldn’t that be like Wolverine’s motorcycle having claws? He can just hit the stud on his glove or bring one hand up to his visor. Oh, wait his costume in this doesn’t have the glove button. The field leader of the X-men, Everyone, he gets rid of his iconic costume for something that looks terrible and doesn’t have one of its most useful features. That was surely a smart decision. Those aren’t even all the little dumb moments. There’s a scene where they’re trudging through a blizzard, freezing and shuddering. The problem being that Storm can control the weather. She should be able to banish something like this in seconds so that they can do what they need to do. There’s also a scene where they’re in the Blackbird and a flying mutant attacks them. Who do they send to fight a flying mutant in mid-air, while traveling at a rapid velocity? No, it’s not the person who can fly. They send Wolverine. Yeah, his healing factor isn’t going to save him if he falls off of a flying jet. Hell, Cyclops had to slow his descent to save his life when Proteus threw him off a cliff and this is going to be a lot worse of a fall then that.

Moving on to the bigger problems, there’s a lot of lazy writing in this. Early on, Storm gets weakened from using her powers a bit and it feels like a flimsy excuse to take her out of the fight. The problem is that anyone who knows the character knows that she doesn’t weaken that fast. She once brought a massive storm to Latveria that threatened to destroy Doom’s castle and warped the weather for dozens of kilometres and she only became tired when dispelling it. If you don’t know the character it just makes her look ineffectual, which isn’t an ideal way to portray one of your heroes in a serious work. Beast also gets an electronic scanner that does whatever the plot needs it to do. Then we’ve got Mastermind, who’s the leader of the Hellfire Club in this for some reason. Did they not want to use Sebastian Shaw because that one terrible film made him a nazi? They add telepathy to his powers, even though he’s never had telepathy in the comics, and he’s, apparently, strong enough that he can manipulate the minds of two different mutants who are supposedly the most powerful telepaths in existence. How exactly does he manage that when he’s supposed to be far less powerful than them? Never explained. Then we have our continuity problems. When talking to Hisako, a new character, Storm tells her about how she was lost and couldn’t control her powers properly until meeting Xavier. Except that she had full control over them and was revered as a Goddess when Xavier went to recruit her to rescue the original X-men from Krakoa. Why even change that detail? Then we’ve got the problem with the major conflict. It’s basically a rehashing of the Proteus plot line, except done ineptly. The secondary mutation thing is stupid. Yes, I know they did it in the comics too, and it was stupid there too. The climax is just really weak.

On the positive side, they do handle the conflict with Emma Frost joining the X-men somewhat competently.

Characters:

This series has some characters who were interesting and well developed… in the comics. You wouldn’t know it to watch them here. They come across as pretty one-dimensional and a lot of their dialogue is stilted. To make matters worse, their habit of standing around rambling about how “they should do something” while not actually taking action makes them look like a group of incompetent morons. Xavier gets it the worst since we find out that he has yet another kid he never knew about. Dude, use a damn condom. The villains aren’t any better. Mastermind and his group get a really good opportunity to kill the X-men but they take so long to get around to it that the X-men escape. Our secondary villains, the U-men, are just stupid and evil for the evils. They’re like a 90s dark and gritty take on badly written Silver Age villains who never got developed . We have Grant Morrison to thank for this stain on the X-men’s Rogues Gallery, and I do hope that someone rubbed his nose in it and told him that he was being bad. Otherwise he’ll never learn. On a slightly positive note, there is some stuff with Emma Frost acting as a teacher to Hisako that’s pretty decent.

Art:

I will give the series some credit on this one. There’s a lot about the art that’s really well detailed and done. Unlike the Blade anime, they actually get Wolverine’s brutish appearance basically right. Although he’s still too tall and his height fluctuates from scene to scene. Seriously, they make him roughly as tall as Storm and she’s supposed to be a good twenty centimetres, or eight inches, taller than him. Speaking of messing up with Storm, they get her eye colour wrong in this. Although the X-men do, for the most part, look like themselves. I will, however, say that the art really fails when it comes to facial expressions. The major characters spend the bulk of their time grimacing, snarling or just looking generally grim even when nothing bad is happening. Are super heroes not allowed to have fun ever? They also made the bold choice of using the worst costumes the X-men have ever sported. See, there was a time when Marvel decided that super hero costumes couldn’t be colourful or visually appealing, they had to be stupid looking and with really muted colours. In this case, mostly black with a little bit of dull yellow. The one exception is Emma Frost, who gets a costume so ridiculously fan-servicey that it makes her White Queen attire look prudish. The fight scenes are mixed. Some of them work pretty well, others are a garbled mess where you can barely tell what’s happening.

Sound:

The cast they get in this isn’t bad, but they don’t exactly give their best performances. I don’t blame Tamura Yukari, Hisakawa Aya, Morikawa Toshiyuki or any of the other actors for that. They’re just playing a group of perpetually snarling people who don’t have any emotional depth. Because that’s the route Madhouse decided to take. The music isn’t bad either, but it is kind of dull.

Ho-yay:

There are a few scenes between Emma Frost and Hisako where Hisako seems to be a bit “hot for teacher” but that’s the extent of the ho-yay for the series. A possible schoolgirl’s crush.

Final Thoughts:

This series is really bad. The story line is riddled with problems, both small and huge, without having anything to make up for them. The characters are insultingly one-dimensional, particularly if you’re a fan of the comics. The art is the best part of the series and even it has its share of issues. The voice acting is passable but not good. If you want to see the X-men at their best, track down anything from Chris Claremont’s run. It lasted nearly two decades so there’s a lot there. Alternatively, you could look for the 90s cartoon from Saban Entertainment. If you want to see them at their worst… well, this isn’t as bad as House of M, but it wouldn’t be a bad choice. My final rating is a 2/10. Next week, Ankoku Cat.