Tag Archives: anime

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

51g2YEpE0wL._RI_SX380_.jpg

While Slayers has a great start in season 1, it gets even better in season 2 with Slayers NEXT. All of our heroes return for more adventures and we’re introduced to even more interesting characters as Lina, Gourry and company go on more exciting (and dangerous) adventures! These new characters include:

Princess Martina of Zoana: Oh Martina, Martina…let me tell you something about Martina…she’s absolutely 100% crazy!! How so? Well, just as an example, Martina is a fervent devotee of the monster Zoamelgustar. There’s just one little problem with that…Martina made him up out of her own imagination, not that this impedes her devotion in the slightest. In fact, in one hilarious episode, Martina successfully invokes Zoamelgustar’s power to curse Lina through sheer willpower (not bad for a non-existent monster). She hates Lina with a passion for destroying her kingdom (even though it was Martina who started the trouble) and also has a habit in falling in love with every handsome man who crosses her path. Despite trying really hard to be a villain, Martina is more of a nuisance than anything else.

Xellos: This is one of the most frustrating characters you’ll meet in the series, because for most of the time he appears you’re never really sure what he’s up to or whose side he’s really on! He claims to be a traveling monk but hints are dropped repeatedly that this is far from the truth. Xellos also has an annoying habit of leading people in conversation up to a critical point and when they demand to know something important he’ll just smile and say “That…is a secret.” I’ll admit, the true identity of Xellos shocked me (though I won’t spoil it here).

Hellmaster Fibrizo: I’m pretty sure it goes without saying that if you have “Hellmaster” in your name than you are not a good person. Hellmaster Fibrizo might be one of the most sadistic characters I’ve ever seen. This is one of those characters who kills on a whim, all to get what he wants. Truthfully, you will not see this character coming, it’s one of the best villain introductions I’ve ever seen.

maxresdefault (5).jpg

A lot of the plot revolves around our heroes searching for the Claire Bible (a text containing powerful magical secrets) in the hopes that it contains some spell that can cure Zelgadis and make him human again. During this search, Lina and her friends stumble on a plot brewing among the monsters. It seems that the destruction of Ruby Eye Shabranigdu in season 1 had some far-reaching consequences and it’s up to Lina to deal with the fallout…if she can survive that is. Like season 1, Slayers NEXT gets pretty bloody in the last part of the season (not enough to be considered “gory” but there are still some fairly shocking moments).

If you enjoy season 1 of Slayers then you will absolutely love Slayers NEXT. I hope you get the chance to check it out someday. Unfortunately it’s not streaming on Hulu currently but you can get seasons of Slayers for a reasonable price on Amazon. Let me know what you think of Slayers NEXT in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

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

Animated Film Reviews

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

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

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

Advertisements

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

Slayers_promotional_poster

*Note: It should go without saying that there are plot spoilers to be found below

Last summer some of my friends introduced me to a wonderful anime called Slayers which I’d never heard of before (my access to anime was severely limited growing up so for a long time the only shows I knew anything about were Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z). I quickly fell in love with the series and it’s been one of my favorites ever since.

In season one of Slayers we are introduced to a quirky cast of characters:

  • Lina Inverse (Lisa Ortiz): A very young and extremely powerful sorceress. Lina loves to travel the world and gather treasure. She also loves food.
  • Gourry Gabriev (Eric Stuart): Lina’s self-proclaimed guardian. Gourry is almost a pure iteration of the “dumb blonde” trope but he does have his moments (which I won’t tell you because that would spoil some wicked awesome moments).
  • Zelgadis (Crispin Freeman for most of the series): an equally powerful sorcerer who is continually seeking a way to restore his body to human form (for plot reasons he currently exists as a chimera with a body of stone).
  • Amelia (Veronica Taylor): This young princess and a would-be mage is the living embodiment of a crit fail in D&D (case in point: Amelia loves to make dramatic entrances but typically fails to stick the landing).
  • Sylphiel (Stacia Crawford): a priestess who refers to Gourry as “Gourry Dear” a lot.

vlcsnap-2009-09-13-00h30m27s161.png

The plot of season 1 finds our heroes fighting against Rezo the Red Priest. It eventually comes out that Rezo is trying to summon Ruby Eye Shabranigdu (a powerful demon) in the belief that doing so will finally cure his blindness. However, when this plan backfires, our heroes must fight Shabranigdu and save the world! Actually, they end up saving the world several times over by the end of season 1, with some plot twists that I genuinely didn’t see coming.

One of my favorite things about Slayers are the ornate incantations used to create spells. For example, here is how Lina casts Dragon Slave, one of her most powerful spells:

Darkness beyond twilight
Crimson beyond blood that flows
Buried in the stream of time is where your power grows
I pledge myself to conquer all the foes who stand
before the mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy hand
Let the fools who stand before me be destroyed
by the power you and I possess…
DRAGON SLAVE!

To make a long story short, Slayers is a really fun anime and you should definitely check out the first season if you get the chance (the subtitled version is currently streaming on Hulu but I highly recommend the dubbed version as well).

Let me know what you think about season 1 of Slayers in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

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

Animated Film Reviews

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

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

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

My Thoughts on: Assassination Classroom (2015-2016)

I have loved anime ever since I saw my first episodes of Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z in the 90s and I’m always on the hunt for (relatively speaking) new series to watch, which is easy to do as Hulu contains a wealth of anime. That’s how, last year, I stumbled across the magnificence that is Assassination Classroom.

Assassination-Classroom-Grand-Siege-on-Koro-Sensei-2014-12-29-1.jpg

Based on the manga by Yūsei Matsui, Assassination Classroom follows the “end class” (full of academic and social misfits) of Kunugigaoka Junior High School who are given the task of killing their new teacher, a strange yellow octopus (with a smiley face for a head) before he explodes and wipes out the Earth the following March. To this end, the students are trained in various assassination techniques by Mr. Karasuma and Irina Jelavić (dubbed “Professor Bitch” by the class), all with the aim of taking their teacher, Koro Sensei, out.

Assassination Classroom Opening (2015)

One of the best parts of the series is watching how the assassination plans evolve over time. This culminates (in my opinion), in an arc where the class attempts to assassinate Koro Sensei on a remote island during summer vacation. The plan is so intricate that it nearly succeeds…but it still falls short. In fact, none of the students plans work out, but that doesn’t hurt the series at all because every attempt brings with it a new lesson about life. While strange looking, Koro Sensei is a grade-A teacher who genuinely wants his students to succeed in life (as well as killing him). In fact, as I watched the series through the first time, it slowly dawned on me that many of Koro Sensei’s tips about assassination were actually skills and ideas you could apply in real life.

assassination-classroom-part-one-screenshot-02.jpg

There are some parts of the series that are really upsetting to me and I want to highlight a few of them. First of all, if bullying bothers you then several episodes will be difficult to watch. The rest of the school is trained to hate the End class on principle, with most events rigged to ensure that this class stays at the bottom. It’s really uncomfortable to watch but thankfully the series moves away from that aspect over time. Another episode that upsets me is one that introduces Mr. Takaoka, a (brief) replacement for Mr. Karasuma. Just the way this character is drawn is enough to set you on edge (I think they made his smile look fake on purpose) but what he does is even worse. It comes out that Takaoka employs sadistic training methods and rewards the smallest complaint with punches and slaps. However he does receive an epic comeuppance from Nagisa Shiota (a student who narrates most of the episodes), which partially makes up for what happened before.

Koro Sensei is by far the best part of the series; he has dozens of different quirks, facial expressions and quips that will leave you giggling more often than not. I love how his face changes to reflect his mood. He’s a character that grows on you very quickly.

I enjoy Assassination Classroom very much; I love the twists and turns the story takes and by the end of the series I was very much attached to the fates of each character. If you’d like to check out Assassination Classroom, the complete series is currently available on Hulu. If you’ve already watched the series, let me know what you think about it in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film/TV Reviews

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

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

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

My Thoughts on: Casshern (2004)

Note: This review is in fulfillment of a Patreon pledge

My apologies for being late with this review, but last night I was finally able to sit down and watch Casshern (2004), a Japanese film based on the 1973 anime of the same name. I’d never heard of this film specifically before being asked to watch it, though I had heard of Casshern Sins, a reboot of the anime that aired in 2008.

ua7MTEp8z5wzEWP24XjRqSkkwV6.jpg

Set in the far future, Casshern begins at the end of a fifty-year war between Europa (which uses robot armies) and the Eastern Federation. The Federation emerges victorious, but is soon fighting again when an uprising begins in Zone 7. Tetsuya Azuma (Yusuke Iseya), the son of a brilliant scientist, enlists in the army and ends up killed in action, only to be resurrected with the help of strange “Neo Cells” and gains incredible abilities as a result. The Neo Cells themselves are allegedly capable of forming new body parts, but it turns out they’re actually something else entirely.

maxresdefault.jpg

Having never seen Casshern before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I do my best to give every film I watch a fair chance, but while Casshern does have its moments (more on those in a moment), by and large the film did not impress me. The biggest failing of the film is its special effects. It’s painfully obvious when CGI is being used, so much so that in several scenes it took me right out of the action because of how fake it looked. The plot is also really confusing, though I’m not sure if that’s the fault of the film itself or the subtitles (which I’ve heard aren’t the best in the world). There are multiple scenes that seem like they’re supposed to be big moments, but instead come across as head-scratchers. A good case in point: in one early scene, it seems like we’re building up to an explosion in a secret laboratory, when suddenly a stone thunderbolt crashes through the ceiling and lodges itself into the lab. Said thunderbolt is the most blatant example of a deus ex machina that I’ve seen in years because the main plot doesn’t really get going until it inexplicably arrives.

casshern-and-bots.jpg

That’s not to say that the film is all bad, there is at least one moment that I thought was very well done. In a really creepy moment, the stone thunderbolt seemingly turned the Neo-Cell body parts into whole people. The military inexplicably shows up to slaughter them but a handful escape into the mountains. The bulk of this scene is done with no dialogue (aside from some crying and screaming), only music to give a sense of what is happening. It’s the one moment in the entire film where I was completely engrossed in the story.

I will also say that, having looked at images of the original anime, there are some Easter eggs paying homage to the 1973 series. For one, you can see the helmet that Casshern wears in the anime and Tetsuya later meats a dog named ‘Friender’ which references the cyborg’s canine sidekick in the anime.

Would I recommend Casshern? I’ll put it like this: if you’re a die-hard fan of all things Casshern, then I say go for it, you’ll likely find something to love about this film. But if you’re only a casual viewer then I would recommend avoiding this one, the visual flaws and confusing plot don’t add up to anything meaningful (though you can tell they’re trying).

What did you think of Casshern (if you’ve seen it)? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day! If you sub to my Patreon for $5 or above, you can also request a film review of your choice 🙂

See also:

Film/TV Reviews

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

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

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

 

 

My Thoughts on: Sailor Moon Super S: The Movie (1995)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Sailor_Moon_SuperS_Movie_Poster

This weekend I got to see the third and final Sailor Moon movie, Sailor Moon Super S along with the animated short “Ami’s First Love.” This…slightly strange short follows Ami/Sailor Mercury as she studies for her high school entrance examinations. Ami becomes obsessed when another student (known only as “Mercurius”) consistently earns the same score as her. It’s mostly cute, but it turns weird when a spirit decides to possess Ami and she thinks the spirit is Mercurius. Still, it’s cool to see a new Sailor Moon short.

Sailor Moon Super S focuses slightly more on Chibi-usa than the other two films. The relationship between Chibi-usa and Usage has always intrigued me; Chibi-usa is Usagi’s daughter from the distant future yet they behave more like siblings when they’re together (I know Usagi is only a teenager right now, but if I knew I was with my future daughter I’m pretty sure it would affect my behavior). At any rate…the plot of Super S reveals that children all over the world are disappearing. In fact they’re being lured away by flute-playing fairies onto large airships that bear them away to parts unknown. Meanwhile, Chibi-usa meets a strange boy named Pearl (who is also a fairy) and the two bond.

Shop Movies + Spend $35, Get Free Shipping

 

When the mysterious fairies come to Tokyo, Chibi-usa is one of the children lured away, drawing the attention of Usagi and the other sailor guardians. A fight ensues, but Chibi-usa is forcibly taken away and the rest of the story is devoted to rescuing her from Marzipan Castle (where the other children have been taken).

I enjoyed this film, but not quite as much as the first two. I’m not sure if it was because of the candy-themed villains or something else, but I couldn’t get into the story as much (though it’s always fun to watch the guardians transform and do their attacks). There’s still plenty of humor to be found, including a moment where Sailor Moon and Sailor Chibi Moon both awkwardly fall to Earth after the magic of the Legendary Silver Crystal wears off. I’d also like to think that Pearl and Chibi-usa meet again in the future (they’re clearly quite taken with each other).

And those are my thoughts on Sailor Moon Super S. What did you think of this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great evening!

See also:

Thoughts on Sailor Moon R: The Movie

My thoughts on: Sailor Moon S

Animated Film Reviews

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

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

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

My thoughts on: Sailor Moon S: The Movie (1994)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

1656844-wah2

Last weekend was a lot of fun because I got to spend part of Saturday afternoon watching a Sailor Moon double feature (something I never thought I’d get to say if I’m honest). The theater was showing Sailor Moon R and Sailor Moon S back to back (with Sailor Moon Super S coming this weekend). While I got to see Sailor Moon R for the first time last winter, this was my first time watching Sailor Moon S and I really enjoyed it.

Sailor Moon S is set during the winter break when Usagi and all of her friends are on vacation from school. But…as normally happens with Sailor Moon stories, something evil is approaching from outer space. Princess Snow Kaguya, an ice creature, is determined to freeze the Earth solid and rule as its queen. However first she has to find a special crystal that broke off and fell to Earth ahead of her.

The_Snow_Dancers.jpg

If you love Sailor Moon you will easily love this film, it features plenty of action from all of the sailor guardians including Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. It also features Sailor Moon transforming into Super Sailor Moon with the power of the Holy Grail. That being said, there’s one moment in the film that I thought was absolutely corny. Just as Sailor Moon and Chibiusa engage Kaguya’s snow henchman for the first time, Santa Claus appears to come out of nowhere. It’s actually Tuxedo Mask in disguise, but the way he comes out with the line “We wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy new year” just had me shaking my head. I get that Tuxedo Mask can literally appear from anywhere but…seriously?

Luna_as_human_and_kakeru.jpg

The sub-plot of Luna falling in love with a human scientist honestly made me cry. Having experienced heartache multiple times, I can identify all too well with how Luna feels, knowing that she can never truly be with Kakeru. And when Usagi grants Luna’s wish to be human for one night so she can spend time with the scientist, it made me cry even more!

Shop Movies + Spend $35, Get Free Shipping

 

I really enjoyed Sailor Moon S because it helped me feel like a kid again (when life was a lot simpler) and it helped me forget how messed up the world is right now. I highly recommend going to see it if you get the chance.

If you’ve seen Sailor Moon S, what did you think about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Thoughts on Sailor Moon R: The Movie

My Thoughts on: Sailor Moon Super S: The Movie (1995)

Animated Film Reviews

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

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

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale (2017)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

sao_ordinal_scale_poster_by_chibifoxy675-danqfyg.png

*warning: a variety of spoilers follow*

I have been waiting months for this film to arrive and once it did, oh my gosh, it was absolutely worth the wait!!

Ordinal Scale is the first full length film set in the world of Sword Art Online, an anime that begins with the tale of 10,000 gamers trapped in a virtual reality “death game” called Sword Art Online (SAO). Of the original 10,000, only 4,000 made it out alive, among them Kirito, his girlfriend Asuna, Klein, Silica, Liz and Agil. Four years after the original death game concluded, in the year 2026, Japan is entranced with a new Augmented Reality (AR) device called the Augma that lets you fight epic battles (among many other functions, think of it has a futuristic version of Google Glass) in the real world. But curiously, monsters from the old SAO game are showing up, which shouldn’t be possible because the server for SAO was shut down when the game ended. Or WAS it??

There are many things I loved about this film, the mystery behind the Augma was intriguing, as was the revelation of who Yuna, the beautiful AI  girl who serves as a “host” for Ordinal Scale really is (she has connections to the original SAO game).

SAM_PV2-tokuten-ari_H264.00_01_26_11

Yuna is a mysterious figure

And then there’s the ongoing relationship between Kirito and Asuna. To my surprise, Kirito is initially reluctant to engage in Ordinal Scale, which is unusual for him, he’s usually jumping in headfirst to a new game. According to Kirito, he doesn’t like Ordinal Scale because it doesn’t feel the same as a VR (Virtual Reality) game. Unlike VR, in AR your actual physical body is moving, meaning you have to be in great shape to move and engage quickly enough to win (there’s an embarrassing moment when Kirito runs to attack and ends up falling flat on his face after tripping on a curb). But soon Kirito has no choice but to engage in the game when something weird begins happening to the players who survived SAO…

Capture.PNG

Kirito’s new look for Ordinal Scale

It starts with Kirito’s friend Klein: during one AR battle, the #2 Ordinal Scale player, Eiji, attacks Klein and his friends. At a certain point in the battle, a node on their Augma devices glows and pops out , being sucked up into nearby drones used to project the game all over the city. Not only is Klein’s arm broken, but his memories of SAO (two year’s worth) are missing. And then the same thing happens to Asuna: while protecting Silica from an attack, Asuna’s Augma node is taken and HER memories of SAO (as well as two years worth of memories of her boyfriend) are taken away, devastating her and briefly casting doubt on her relationship with Kirito.

To get Asuna’s memories back, Kirito must become the top player in Ordinal Scale and along the way discover the truth behind this latest game (I won’t spoil it, but it’s really good).

My favorite part of the film comes at the height of the final battle when we’re finally shown something I thought we’d never see: Floor 100 of Sword Art Online (the original game was based on a castle made of 100 floors. The original game ended early on the 75th floor when Kirito realized that the leader of a powerful guild was actually the creator of the SAO game.) For this final battle, Kirito and company are transported to the Ruby Palace on Floor 100 and, even more, are changed back into the forms they possessed in the original game (which brought shouts of joy from the audience).The Ruby Palace is simply beautiful (and huge!!) with wonderful gardens around the entire structure. Inside the castle resembles a giant cathedral as it seems to be one very large room. The boss they have to fight on Floor 100 is insanely powerful and it ultimately takes every ally Kirito and Asuna have ever made to defeat it.

The story ends with something that’s been a long time coming: after getting “married” in the original SAO game, Kirito finally keeps a promise he made in-game and gets engaged to Asuna in the real world (they were 15 going on 16 in the original game, so they’re at least 19 going on 20 now).

But that wasn’t all….after the credits finished, we got a short peek at the upcoming Season 3 of Sword Art Online!!! It’s maybe 90 seconds long, but at the end, we get a glimpse of the latest VR world: Rath, the setting of the recently concluded Alicization Arc. No date was given but it is confirmed now that SAO WILL return!!!

While the movie last night was a one night only event, I hope that eventually the film will be released on one of the streaming services so everyone can see it (I know the English dub is in progress). I’m not sure if the movie will be released on DVD here in the US, but if it is I will let you know.

Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale was an awesome experience, worth the wait and I sincerely hope there are more films to come!

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

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

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂