Category Archives: anime

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 4Ever- Celebi – Voice of the Forest (2001)

In coming to Pokémon 4Ever, I finally reached terra incognita. For while I’d seen the first and third Pokémon movies, and new of the second one, I’d never seen much less heard of  any of the Pokémon films after that (with the possible exception of Arceus and the Jewel of Life, but that’s a story for another day). So I was very excited to sit down and watch this film for the very first time.

And from what I can see, Pokémon 4Ever is a really enjoyable film (with spot-on animation for the most part). The story sees Ash, Misty, and Brock set out to help save Celebi, a Pokémon who functions as the “Voice of the Forest” and has the ability to travel through time. To escape from a hunter, the Pokémon travels to the future, inadvertently bringing along a young boy named Sam with him. Together, Sam, Ash and company must work to save Celebi from forces that are hunting Celebi for the great power he possesses.

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This movie really makes you feel for poor Celebi. I thought watching the first movie was an emotional experience, but this movie takes it to a whole different level. Most of the movie sees Celebi being chased, abused, and otherwise scared out of his mind. And even after the situation is fixed, more enemies appear and make the situation worse. This Pokémon really goes through a beating.

And then there’s Team Rocket. Oh, not Jessie, James, and Meowth. Oh sure, they’re as persistent as always, but they’re nothing compared to Iron Masked Marauder, the Team Rocket Member chasing Celebi. This is the first time I can recall being actually scared of Team Rocket, before watching this film I thought Team Rocket was only meant to be a joke, not to be taken seriously. This film definitely proved me wrong on that count.

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I’m not completely satisfied with this film’s plot twist. While I find it interesting that Sam is revealed to be a young Professor Oak, I’m not sure I’m okay with how the details are worked out. How Oak remembers something that Ash and company haven’t even done yet doesn’t quite make sense to me. Perhaps I’m thinking too hard about it, but the plot details don’t quite mesh and that bothered me quite a bit while I was watching. Also, the CGI of…whatever that thing is that Celebi creates doesn’t quite hold up now that it’s nearly 20 years old. The contrast between it and the surrounding animation is just weird.

Also, is it weird that I was expecting Suicune to talk? Maybe I was spoiled after seeing Entei in the third film, but I was fully prepared for Suicune, as a legendary Pokémon, to have dialogue and it doesn’t, which completely subverted my expectations.

On a final note, the very concept of the Dark Balls is a scary one. It actually reminds me somewhat of Mewtwo’s plan in the first film, only instead of cloning Pokémon that are stronger than the originals, the Dark Balls just corrupt the existing creatures instead.

All in all, I enjoyed Pokémon 4Ever. It’s not perfect by any means, but it is enjoyable, and it was nice to finally move past the first three Pokémon films.

Let me know what you think about Pokémon 4Ever in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Pokemon-The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (1998)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Movie 2000 (1999)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 3: The Movie: Entei – Spell of the Unown (2000)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Animated Film Reviews

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My Thoughts on: Pokémon 3: The Movie: Entei – Spell of the Unown (2000)

And now we come to the last Pokémon movie that I know for sure I watched back in the day. I remember sneaking off to watch Pokémon 3: The Movie and being completely enthralled by the story, as I usually am by anime stories.

In summary, Pokémon 3: The Movie centers around the mysterious Unown (pronounced “Unknown”), extremely powerful psychic Pokémon that can bend reality itself to their will. When the Unown are accidentally summoned by Molly Hale, a young girl who has just lost her father (and her mother two years previously), a strange world of crystal and fantasy is created that threatens everything around it if it isn’t stopped.

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One thing that jumps out to me right away, especially compared to the first and second films, is the presence of the obviously CGI Unown. Their appearance is almost jarring because of how different they look compared to everything else in the film. Given the mysterious nature of the Unown, this isn’t exactly a bad thing, and the CGI holds up really well given the film turns 20 this year. Also, another thing related to the Unown that I really like is the little “nexus” they develop once they’re fully ensconced in Molly’s home. You know, when they’re all orbiting each other and singing that little song to themselves. It’s almost like they’re working together as a hive mind to obey whoever has summoned them.

Another thing that stuck with me as I watched this film is how deep some of this film’s themes are. I had a sense of this when I first saw the film, but now that I’m two decades older, I think I understand the message even better. If you think about it, at its core Pokémon 3: The Movie centers around grief and the various ways one can handle it. And keeping that in mind, Molly’s actions make perfect sense. If you’re a little girl who has just lost her father and you find yourself in the company of Pokémon who can give you anything you want just by wishing for it, then of course you’re going to retreat into a fantasy world where you don’t have to face the cold reality that your parents are gone. That’s a powerful thing for any movie to deal with, and I think it’s handled fairly well in the end.

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And speaking of altering reality, the crystalline world created by the Unknown is so beautiful, I’d actually forgotten how gorgeous it looked. It’s like a bizarre piece of art that is lovely but deadly at the same time (because there’s nothing that’s actually “alive” out there). Everything, the flowers, the trees, and so on, is preserved in crystal so that it never dies (which also feeds into my earlier point about the movie dealing with a child’s handling of grief).

Finally, I need to talk about Entei. While it’s made plain that this is only an illusion of Entei, he feels perfectly real. A lot of this has to do with Entei’s animation, which absolutely brings him to life on the screen in my opinion. Another interesting note, and one I wasn’t even aware of until I checked the cast notes, is that Entei and Molly’s father are voiced by the same person (which makes so much sense when you remember that Molly views Entei as her father). I love little details like this that make the story so much better every time I watch it.

It was so much fun to watch Pokémon 3: The Movie again, and relive some amazing childhood memories. Let me know what you think about the third Pokémon movie in the comments below and have a great night!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Pokemon-The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (1998)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Movie 2000 (1999)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 4Ever- Celebi – Voice of the Forest (2001)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Animated Film Reviews

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My Thoughts on: Pokemon-The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (1998)

To give you an idea of just what kind of impression the first Pokémon movie had on me, consider this: it’s been over 20 years since I first saw Pokémon: The First Movie, and portions of the film have remained with me to this day. Don’t ask me why it took 20 years to watch the film for a second time, but that is indeed the approximate length of time between views.

In summary, Pokémon-The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back deals in large part with the introduction Mewtwo, for me one of the most iconic Pokémon to be found in the entire franchise. Mewtwo is a clone of the ancient Pokémon Mew, and this knowledge drives Mewtwo to discover his purpose in life, a purpose that he ultimately decides (after some unfortunate encounters with Team Rocket) is to purge the world of humans and “inferior” Pokémon.

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I still remember sitting and watching this movie in 1999 and being in awe of all of it. Mewtwo terrified me then, and if I’m honest he’s still pretty scary even now in the year 2020. The extent of his psychic powers is pretty intimidating from his introduction, and they only grow from there. I honestly forgot just how intense Mewtwo’s introductory scene is, the movie certainly starts off to a bang from the word go.

I was pleased to discover that even after all this time, I still enjoy the first Pokemon movie. Mew was one of my favorite parts of the movie. To tell the truth, I’d completely forgotten about everything Mew does in this film, and certain scenes had me positively squeaking with delight.

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And then, of course, there’s THAT scene. Anyone who’s seen this movie knows exactly what I’m talking about. That moment with Ash at the climax of the film. The moment that broke us all when we were kids and damn it all but it completely broke me all over again the minute I saw it. Anyone who tries to tell you that Pokémon is “just for kids” has clearly never seen this movie because that moment is sad, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s downright DARK (before it gets better anyway). I was worried I wouldn’t be able to “feel” that moment now that I’m all grown up, but clearly there was no need to be concerned.

Finally, the overall message of this film deserves a mention. While it’s somewhat ironic for Pokémon (a franchise about fighting monsters) having an anti-fighting message, it still works in my opinion. What they’re trying to say is that Pokémon shouldn’t be made to fight by someone else’s whims. In theory, trained Pokémon fight because they’ve formed a relationship with their trainer and they choose to obey, so it’s not quite the same thing. And of course there’s also Meowth’s little monologue about how we “share the same Earth, the same sky” and maybe if we focused more on THOSE things, then the world would be a much better place.

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Watching Pokémon: The First Movie brought back a lot of feelings for me, mostly good ones. For a lovely 90-odd minutes, i was 11 years old again, just enjoying the adventure of Ash and his friends. I would definitely say the movie holds up after all this time, and should be seen at least once by anyone even remotely interested in the Pokémon series. I’m glad I sat and watched the film again. The animation feels “alive” in a way that you just don’t see these days.

Let me know what you think about Pokémon: The First Movie-Mewtwo Strikes Back in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Movie 2000 (1999)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 3: The Movie: Entei – Spell of the Unown (2000)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 4Ever- Celebi – Voice of the Forest (2001)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Animated Film Reviews

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Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

 

My Thoughts on: Castle in the Sky (1986)

The 1986 film Castle in the Sky (Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta) holds a very special place in my heart. Not only is it the very first Studio Ghibli film, it is also, so far as I can remember, the very first film by Hayao Miyazaki that I ever saw. I saw it on TV in the early 2000s (2003 I think), and it was played up as a really big deal. I remember being spellbound then, and ever since I’ve been in love with this story.

Like all of Miyazaki’s films that I’ve seen, Castle in the Sky takes place in a world not unlike our own, but with one major difference. In this world, there’s a huge floating city named Laputa that lies hidden somewhere up in the sky. Long ago, Laputa was the center of an incredibly advanced civilization, but hundreds of years ago…it vanished. The story centers around several groups and individuals who are all searching for Laputa, each with their own motives for doing so.

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  • Pazu, a young orphan boy, is searching for Laputa to prove to his fellow townspeople that the floating city isn’t a myth.
  • Sheeta, a young orphan girl, ends up searching for the city because she wants to learn what happened to make everyone abandon it.
  • The Dola Gang, a roguish-yet-lovable band of pirates are looking to plunder Laputa’s worldly treasures and make themselves filthy rich.
  • And Muska (voiced in the English dub by Mark Hamill), seeks Laputa for the power he believes it can give him.

Castle in the Sky is an interesting study on the best and worst aspects of humanity. On the one hand, we have Pazu and Sheeta, who only want to explore Laputa, and don’t really want to “do” anything with it. The Dola Gang are something of a middle ground, in that robbing the city of its treasures isn’t really the right thing to do, but then again they’re just doing what pirates do (and it’s implied that they’ll retire from their thieving ways if they succeed).

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And then there’s Muska, who represents the very worst of humanity. Muska, who like Sheeta is descended from Laputa’s long-lost royal line, is obsessed with getting to the floating city and turning it into his own personal kingdom and weapon of war. He believes that since Laputa once dominated the world, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t do so again, with himself as its king. Of all the characters who make it to Laputa, I think Muska is the only one who bothers with its technological secrets, most of which have been nearly buried underneath a forest of roots and plant life in the centuries since the residents returned to Earth. In fact, Muska is so obsessed with wielding advanced technological power and being king that he completely misses the point of why the city was abandoned in the first place. Sheeta tries to explain it to him: the city was abandoned because its residents realized that humanity doesn’t belong in the sky. All the advanced power in the world doesn’t mean a thing if you aren’t connected to the world, to which all things belong.

Speaking of Laputa, the city is one of my favorite parts of the film. It’s so well drawn that, even though most of it has long since fallen into ruin, you can still conceive of how it must have looked in its prime. I also like the idea that the floating city is home to wildlife that you wouldn’t find on Earth (at least I think that’s what those creatures are meant to be). It’s literally like a whole different world up there.

If you haven’t seen Castle in the Sky yet, I highly recommend it, it’s a classic story that doesn’t show its age in the slightest.

Let me know what you think about Castle in the Sky in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

My Neighbor Totoro (1988): One of My All Time Favorite Cartoons Blogathon

Animated Film Reviews

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My Thoughts on: Slayers Revolution (season 4) (2008)

*This is my 600th post!

My oh my, how the time can fly. Who’d have thought that after the conclusion of Slayers TRY, that over ten years would pass before the adventures of Lina Inverse would continue. That’s right, Slayers Revolution didn’t arrive until 2008, and by then the world of anime was very different from what it had been in 1997. The fourth season is now drawn using digital animation, but don’t worry, everyone is still recognizable, and thankfully most of the original voice actors have returned (Xellos, however, has been noticeably recast and I’m not a fan of that change).

Slayers Revolution starts with an absolutely hilarious story, so funny that I have to share it. The season starts with Lina finding herself under arrest for the crime…of being Lina Inverse! And what makes it even funnier? Every time Lina gets arrested for this “crime” she turns to find Gourry, Zelgadis, and Amelia huddled together secretly agreeing that there’s no arguing with this “evidence” much to Lina’s growing frustration.

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That humorous interlude aside, the real plot of season 4 finds Lina in conflict with a mysterious creature named Pokota (he reminds me of a Pokemon), who is far more than what he appears to be. However, the surprises of who and what Pokota really is don’t compare to the other bombshell this season drops. Out of nowhere, the story brings up none other than Rezo the Red Priest (you know, the villain of season 1?) Of all the characters to choose from, I never thought to hear Rezo’s name again.

I like Slayers Revolution for the most part, however something about it bothers me. Late in the season we’re introduced to something known as “Zanaffar Armor” something that hasn’t been referenced in the series before now, and yet I get the feeling that everyone acts like we (the audience) should know exactly what that armor is and what it does. Let’s just say I was confused for a couple of episodes before certain things were explained. I just feel like that plot detail could have been handled better. Otherwise, I really do like Slayers Revolution. It’s a shame there’s only one more season to talk about after this one.

What do you think about Slayers Revolution? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Slayers (season 1) (1995)

My Thoughts on: Slayers NEXT (Season 2) (1996)

My Thoughts on: Slayers TRY (season 3) (1997)

My Thoughts on: Slayers Return (1996)

My Thoughts on: Slayers Great (1997)

Animated Film Reviews

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

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My Thoughts on: Slayers TRY (season 3) (1997)

After several false starts, I finally made my way through Slayers TRY, the third season of Slayers overall. As with the first two seasons, Slayers TRY follows the ongoing adventures of Lina Inverse and company, now making their way into the outside world in the wake of Lina’s defeat of Hellmaster Phibrizzo at the end of Slayers NEXT. But of course, this being Lina Inverse, adventure and intrigue is simply going to seek her out whether she wants it or not.

Our cast of heroes is joined this season by Filia, a priestess of the Fire Dragon King who also happens to be a dragon herself (she appears as a human for most of the season, but a running gag will have her tail showing at inopportune moments, she also favors a HUGE mace for a weapon). I found myself liking Filia, she’s clearly the audience surrogate in this story (if her reactions to Lina and company are anything to go by), and it’s interesting to watch how her character evolves from the beginning to end of the season.

I freely admit that Slayers TRY is not quite as good as Slayers NEXT, but it does tell a good story. One of the big things in this story, unless I completely missed the point, is that the question of who is good and who is evil is somewhat addressed (Gourry openly asks the question late in the story arc). When the story begins, you think you know who the good guys and bad guys are; but as the story progresses, it starts to emerge that maybe things aren’t as black and white as we thought they were.

One funny moment that I have to share comes early in the season. Filia gives Lina a letter from her older sister Luna Inverse (who was originally meant to be the main character of the story before Hajime Kanzaka realized Lina was far more interesting). We’ve never actually met Luna, but Lina’s reaction to the note (telling her sister to take the job “or else”) tells us everything we need to know. Lina’s over-the-top freakout includes assembling a pyramid, building a tomb and sarcophagus inside before sinking the pyramid into the earth and screaming hysterically that her sister is going to kill her! It’s a scene that makes me laugh every time I watch it.

If you’ve enjoyed the first two seasons of Slayers, then you will likely enjoy Slayers TRY as well. It keeps the adventure going, and it has a really sweet ending.

Let me know your thoughts on Slayers TRY in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Slayers (season 1) (1995)

My Thoughts on: Slayers NEXT (Season 2) (1996)

My Thoughts on: Slayers Return (1996)

My Thoughts on: Slayers Great (1997)

Animated Film Reviews

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Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

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My Thoughts on: Hellsing Ultimate

*warning: Spoilers for Hellsing Ultimate discussed below

Some of my friends might be surprised to hear this, but one of my favorite anime series to watch is Hellsing Ultimate. Released from 2006 to 2014 in the United States, the series is a faithful adaptation of Kouta Hirano’s Hellsing manga that ran from 1997-2008. An earlier Hellsing series was produced while the manga was still being written, but it’s faithfulness to the series drops off after a few episodes (and many prefer to ignore it).

Hellsing is, simply put, Hirano’s take on the story of Dracula. Well, that’s not quite true. While the original Dracula story, as written by Bram Stoker, is hinted at throughout the story, Hellsing itself is more of a sequel. Basically, imagine that the events of Dracula really happened, only, instead of dying, the infamous vampire is turned into the loyal servant of an organization descended from Van Helsing (Helsing=Hellsing). Now flash forward to the present where vampires are very much real and you can start to imagine just how different the world would be.

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A major theme of Hellsing Ultimate is how old threats never completely die. Just as Dracula, now known as Alucard, never actually died, so too did other threats remain hidden in the darkness only to emerge later. In the case of Hellsing, the ultimate threat comes from a legion of Nazis that survived after the Second World War by being turned into vampires, plotting vengeance for over 50 years. They are led by a character known only as the Major and he is without a doubt one of the most loathsome characters I’ve ever seen. He’s written in such a way to make your skin crawl every time he speaks.

Yes, you read that right. The ultimate enemy in Hellsing Ultimate are Nazi vampires. And yes, the fight scenes are as awesome as you think they are. But they are also bloody, very bloody. In fact, Hellsing Ultimate is one of the bloodiest shows I’ve ever watched. This series is definitely not for the faint of heart, because there is a lot of blood and guts throughout, but the intensity gets turned up by 100 in the second half of the series.

Aside from hidden threats, the other overarching plot thread follows Seras Victoria, a former police officer who ends up turned into a fledgling vampire by Alucard at the start of the series. I feel like Seras is meant to represent us, the viewer, and how we might react if we found ourselves suddenly among the ranks of the undead. A major part of Seras’ plot arc is, will she fully accept what she has become, and IF she does, what will that make her in the end? I like following the story of Seras, because it is full of ups and downs and by the end you are fully rooting for her to go on a rampage and destroy all in her path.

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There are many amazing characters in this series, like Seras, and my favorites include Seras, Alucard (brought to chilling life by Crispin Freeman), Walter, and Sir Integra. And of those four, I really like Alucard and Walter the best. There’s a huge history between these two characters, and watching how the interplay between them changes over time is really fascinating to watch.

After watching Hellsing Ultimate, I don’t think you will ever be able to look at vampires the same way again. The way this series portrays vampires makes them feel so real. Watching this series, you could almost believe that vampires are real, that secret organizations like Hellsing or Iscariot might really exist, battling vampires so that regular people like us never find out about it.

If you like vampire stories, you need to watch Hellsing Ultimate at least once, because it is an incredible story. But one final warning: this series is EXTREMELY bloody and graphic, and features some disturbing material. If you’ve seen Hellsing Ultimate, let me know what you think about it in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Animated Film Reviews

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