Sunday, February 22, 2015

Afro Samurai: Resurrection Anime Movie Review

Afro Samurai: Resurrection
Afuro Samurai
Funimation
Movie - 90 mins. - 1 disc
$39.98 (2010) Complete Murder Sessions w/First Season Blu-Ray
$34.98 (2009) Complete Murder Sessions w/First Season
$34.98 (2009) Director's Cut
$39.98 (2009) Director's Cut Blu-Ray
$29.98 (2009)
ISBN 704400079924
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Fuminori Kizaki/Jamie Simone
Studio - Gonzo

Synopsis: Afro has found his revenge and claimed the Number 1 headband from the man who killed his father.  His fight is over, but he languishes with no purpose and no friends.  It seems he is just marking time while his life slowly continues.  He has made too many enemies along the way to have any chance at a peaceful life and a new enemy soon appears.
Afro languishes after finally getting revenge for his father's murder
It's his old friend, Jinno, and his sister, Sio, who easily defeat Afro, take the Number 1 headband, and steal the remains of Afro's father, Rokutaro.  Sio is working her own revenge angle on Afro because he destroyed her brother's life.  She plans to resurrect Rokutaro and torture him.
Sio and her brother Jinno return to seek their revenge on Afro
Once again Afro is set into motion as he must track down the Number 2 headband to challenge Jinno and Sio.  She uses an evil scientist to maintain Jinno's upkeep and sets him to resurrecting Rokutaro with the goal of setting him against Afro.  He faces his greatest challenge yet as he wades through another eclectic set of warriors on his path to confront Sio, but will he be able to face his resurrected father?
Sio's creepy henchmen (and woman)
Pros: Stunning visuals (on par with the first series), great soundtrack, Samuel L. Jackson is the voice of Afro (and the annoying Ninja Ninja) along with Lucy Liu as Sio, tons of hardcore action, nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program, art director Shigemi Ikeda won an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation
Afro challenges the man who has the Number 2 headband
Cons: Plot is weak and predictable, less character and feeling than the first series, suffers from typical sequel curse of not being as good as the first, Ninja Ninja is still in the story
Not too happy to see this guy again - he's super annoying and apparently
a figment of Afro's mind (maybe his inner monologue or something)
Mike Tells It Straight: I watched the first series of Afro Samurai and reviewed it here.  It was a slick Japanese anime blaxploitation film with great visuals and action, but lacking a solid story.  The sequel is more of the same and didn't go anywhere new.  It still looks cool with neat character designs (a fusion of futuristic technology, modern hip-hop, and feudal Japan) and great animation.  The story is still very simple and predictable.
Gonzo gives us some truly stunning visuals
While I was glad to see Jinno return since I thought he was the best supporting character of the first series (it's the giant bear mask).  I was disappointed in his role in this sequel.  Sio runs the show and she's a truly bland villain.  I didn't think the plot could get any weaker, but I was wrong.  This movie is all about action and looking cool.  It worked for the first series after all.
Afro and Jinno in younger, happier days
This movie was nominated for an Emmy and the art director won one.  Not bad for this popular sequel although a surprise to me due to the lack of solid story.  I'd say watch this show if you liked the first one and/or want to find out what happens afterwards.  It's got all the same action and a little less story to get in the way.
Can Afro confront his resurrected father who is little more than a killing machine?

TO BUY and Recommendations:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

ShootFighter Tekken: The Tough Anime Review

ShootFighter Tekken - The Tough
Koko Tekken-den Tafu
Central Park Media/U.S. Manga Corps
Complete Collection - 3 discs
135 mins. - 3 episodes
$29.95 (2004)
$19.99 (2004) Vol. 1-3/ea.
ISBN 719987244122
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Yukio Nishimoto
Studio - AIC

Synopsis: Kiichi Miyazawa is heir to the Nanshin Shadow Style of martial arts and is put through grueling training by his father.  The style is brutal and ruthless, intended for efficient assassination.  Despite his incredible skills and training Kiichi is a regular high school student and has an easy-going nature.  He keeps his deadly skills in check and uses them to defend others.  His father is a stoic man, but appears to have a good heart (which has rubbed off on Kiichi).  He's diminutive in stature, but an adept fighter with a fearless attitude.  Every night he trains to surpass even his father's prowess at Nanshin Shadow Style!
Kiichi is a goofy high school kid despite being skilled at a deadly martial art
Many years ago the greatest pro wrestler, Iron Kiba, sought to fight the best martial artists and prove pro wrestlers were the toughest in the world.  One by one he defeated them all in no-holds-barred underground matches.  The only fighter to defeat him was Seiko Miyazawa, Kiichi's father, using the Nanshin Shadow Style.  Not only did Kiba suffer defeat, but he also lost his left eye in the match.  He forever bears the mark of his defeat and relives the horrific battle before every subsequent wrestling match.  Then he destroys his next opponent in the ring!
Iron Kiba is the world's greatest wrestler and a fearsome opponent in the ring
Kiba harbors an intense hatred and desire to destroy Nanshin Shadow Style.  When Kiichi and his father inadvertently run afoul of a pro wrestler, Kiba is waiting for his chance to ensnare them.  Seiko is careful not to enter fights carelessly because he knows what his own devastating power can do.  Kiichi is not so hesitant and his brash youthfulness causes him to rush headlong into any challenge.  Kiba wants to goad Seiko into fighting him again to the death and he'll use Kiichi's inexperience to get what he wants.
Years ago Kiba and Seiko had a vicious match which left Kiba scarred
Kiichi must fight grueling battles as Kiba sends wrestlers, brawlers, and martial artists after both he and Seiko.  Kiichi's training continues under Seiko and becomes tougher than ever.  Will the father and son survive the revenge of Iron Kiba?  Can Kiichi's never-say-die and positive attitude win out over impossible odds?
Nanshin Shadow Style targets vital organs to incapacitate enemies
Pros: Some cool fight scenes (especially the grappling moves), menacing villains, wrestling drama, Kiichi has a good attitude and his father seems like a good man (while being the master of an assassination-focused martial art is questionable), some funny moments too
Iron Kiba sets up his revenge match with Seiko
Cons: Kiichi is ridiculously small compared to some of the fighters - no way he could handle them, character designs are pretty bland (so are their personalities), pro wrestling as the ultimate fighting style is highly dubious, Kiichi is a total goof and his plucky attitude can get annoying
Kiichi executes a flying grapple move
Mike Tells It Straight: No, this short anime OVA is not related to Tekken the video game franchise.  It's based on a long-running manga series by Tetsuya Saruwatari which has highly detailed art.  The anime in comparison is not as detailed (although the DVD covers are by the author).  The covers are what attracted me to the series in the first place.  I was a little disappointed that the animation and character designs were so simple.  The story is really simple too with Kiichi the young heir to a martial arts legacy.  He retains his youthful exuberance and is good-hearted.  His father remains caring even as he puts his son through brutal training each night.
The original manga for Shootfighter Tekken: The Tough
Kiichi is this tiny kid compared to his opponents and especially Iron Kiba.  It's ridiculous that he could take them on with his diminutive stature (seriously, he's like half their size).  Seems implausible.  The characters and dialogue are bland with no real personalities.  The plot was pretty weak, but I did like how Kiba and Kiichi's opponents had decent backstories.  I must say Kiichi's positive attitude and consideration towards his enemies were silly, but mildly endearing.  There were a few decent fight scenes and some okay comedy (to offset the serious fights).  I haven't seen Baki the Grappler and can't say how similar these two series are (been meaning to watch that series for years).  Overall this short anime doesn't do justice to the elaborate manga it's based on.  It's too simple and the animation is weak.  Despite it's many flaws I did find some good moments and okay fight scenes.  It's mediocre at best, but you can find a copy for fairly cheap.
Kiichi throws a flying kick - check out how small he is compared to the wrestler!

TO BUY and Recommendations:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Heaven's Lost Property Forte Anime Review

Heaven's Lost Property: Forte
Sora no Otoshimono Forte
Funimation
Complete Collection - 4 discs
300 mins. - 12 episodes
$39.98 (2014) Blu-Ray/DVD
$64.98 (2013) Blu-Ray
$59.98 (2013)
ISBN 704400058783
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Hisashi Saito
Studio - AIC

Synopsis: Tomoki Sakurai was a regular high school student living in a boring town who just wanted to enjoy a quiet existence.  All of that ended when he discovered the Angeloid named Ikaros one evening.  She fell from a place called the Synapse and became Tomoki's servant.  To make matters worse she was followed by another Angeloid named Nymph.  Both Angeloids now live and go to school with Tomoki.  There go his chances for any peace and quiet!
Ikaros attempts to get close to Tomoki...with disastrous results
The Angeloids can fly, are extremely durable, and each have special abilities.  In her former state Ikaros was a fearsome Angeloid called the Uranus Queen with highly destructive capabilities.  It appears her memories were suppressed from this time and her emotions are purposefully stunted.  Nymph is a walking supercomputer and has highly technical abilities (although she is much weaker physically than Ikaros).
Nymph laments the loss of her wings in the first season
Tomoki's friends help him deal with the Angeloids and their antics.  They include his next door neighbor Sohara (who has a secret crush on him), the eccentric Sugata who is head of the New World Discovery Club (he's pretty much the only member), and the sadistic student body president Mikako (her family are Yakuza).  Together they try to learn about the Angeloids and the Synapse while getting into outlandish situations.
Tomoki devises an ingenious system of peep holes - how long until he's caught?
Another Angeloid is sent to Earth to eliminate Tomoki!  Her name is Astraea and she is one of the strongest Angeloids, but woefully clumsy and not very bright.  She also has enormous boobs.  She remains on Earth and plots to somehow destroy Tomoki, but keeps hanging around his house to mooch food.  She gets sucked into all the goofiness happening in Tomoki's life including - Mikako's snowball battle girls vs. boys, Tomoki's panty robot pedal bicycle (don't ask), a mock game show to prove Tomoki is despised by all the girls at school, the forbidden eating of Ikaros' watermelons, Mikako's mock fishing contest where the 'fish' are busty girls who have been tied up, Tomoki's peeping network and more.
Astraea comes down from the Synapse to snuff Tomoki!
Another Angeloid is sent from the Synapse and she's a next-generation model called Chaos.  She is ultimately powerful, inadvertently evil, and emotionally still a child.  Will even the combined might of Ikaros, Nymph, and Astraea be enough to stop her?  The evil master of the Synapse will stop at nothing to destroy the rogue Angeloids and their 'master' Tomoki.
The Angeloids face the fearsome Chaos - the next generation of Angeloid!
Pros: Great animation and backgrounds, every episode ends with a different song/closing credits based on what happened in the episode, tons of comedy moments and funny situations, even more fan-service than the first season, some very small character development and plot reveals (particularly Nymph), Chaos is a suitably dark and scary nemesis for the Angeloids in this season
Tomoki pulls his best prank yet
Cons: Female characters are ridiculous and wear collars with chains on them, Ikaros has zero personality and usually just stares blankly at stuff, plot barely moves forward (not much revealed about the Synapse), Chaos is fairly annoying, a lot of really silly episodes
We learn very little about the evil master of the Synapse
Mike Tells It Straight: The first season of Heaven's Lost Property (reviewed here) started out as your typical harem anime and eventually won me over with its outlandish comedy situations.  I was impressed with the unique ending credits and songs for each episode.  It stood out as a decent show with good animation and the serious parts were mildly compelling.  Tomoki is an unrepentant horn-dog and the mystery of the Synapse was mildly compelling.
Sugata meets the mysterious Daedalus who built the Angeloids
This second season continued the tradition of unique ending credits and nice animation.  The show is all about the ecchi/fan-service and this theme grows exponentially.  Entire episodes seem to be dedicated to Tomoki's lecherous ways, ridiculous contests surrounding boobs, and Tomoki is often sporting a boner or completely naked (with little graphics covering his parts).  It's crazy!
Nymph runs a diagnostic on Ikaros after she falls ill
I wish the series spent a little less time on Tomoki's massive porn collection and focused more on the mystery of the Synapse.  We get some new information, but nothing on the actual master of the Angeloids.  This was a letdown along with the annoying childlike Angeloid, Chaos.  She would have been practically unbearable if it weren't for her sheer scary evilness!  The battle with her was pretty wicked and overall Heaven's Lost Property Forte was a zany show.  It kicks the fan-service (no explicit nudity just lots of groping) and comedy up a notch while sacrificing plot development.  Even more of a guilty pleasure than the first season ;)
Ikaros manifests her full powers as the Uranus Queen
TO BUY and Recommendations: