Tag Archives: anime

Soundtrack Review: Pacific Rim: The Black (2021)

On March 5, Milan Records and Sony Music Masterworks released Pacific Rim: The Black (Music from the Netflix Original Anime Series) by composer Brandon Campbell.  Available everywhere now, the album features score music written by Campbell for Netflix’s newest anime series from Legendary Television and based on Legendary and Guillermo del Toro’s blockbuster film franchise Pacific Rim.  Continuing the tale of epic battles between monsters and robots in an exciting new style, Pacific Rim: The Black made its global debut yesterday and is available now to watch exclusively on Netflix.   

Of the soundtrack, composer Brandon Campbell had the following to say:

“Our showrunner, Greg Johnson, wanted a score that encompassed bits of DNA from the original Pacific Rim film while still being unique enough to support the struggles and triumphs of Taylor and Hailey. We created a hybrid orchestral score with the heavy themes and melodic material that will hopefully resonate with Pacific Rim fans, while including more intimate and emotional musical moments that accompany our characters as they make their way across The Black. I hope my music brings you back into the world of the awesome power of the Kaiju and Jaeger, but also into the hearts of Taylor and Hailey.”

I meant to check out this soundtrack a solid month ago and I regret that life got in the way to delay me because the music for Pacific Rim: The Black is good, really good. While I haven’t heard the soundtracks for either Pacific Rim movie (a terrible shortcoming I know), there are moments sprinkled throughout this soundtrack that sound so “big” they can only come from and/or be inspired by the original movie soundtracks. This is great, as thematic continuity between films and a television series is a proven way to help audiences get invested in the new story. Put it like this: if the story sounds like it comes from the same universe, then it becomes easier to accept the story as belonging to that universe, even if none of the regular movie characters show up.

What’s really interesting to me aside from that is the musical connection to other kaiju movies that I swear I can hear. For example, in ‘Kaiju Messiah’, there’s a musical sequence that sounds eerily similar to music I’ve heard in Godzilla (2014), Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) and Godzilla vs Kong (2021) whenever Godzilla is in action. I don’t know if this is deliberate or not, but it would make sense since the story of Pacific Rim is about fighting kaiju (which is what Godzilla is, albeit in a different story).

Another thing I really like about the music for Pacific Rim: The Black is how descriptive it is. Which is to say it paints an evocative picture of how desolate this setting is, and how dangerous. There’s nothing generic about this music, you know that it belongs to science-fiction just by listening to it. It would’ve been so easy for Netflix to commission music that was bare-bones acceptable, but they didn’t do that, they got music that carries its share of the story, and that is so important. You need the music to drive the final nail home of where this story is taking place, what is this world like? The wrong music, as I’ve said many times before, can break a decent story, and by all accounts this is the best music possible for Pacific Rim: The Black.

PACIFIC RIM: THE BLACK (MUSIC FROM THE NETFLIX ORIGINAL ANIME SERIES)
TRACKLISTING

  1. The Black
  2. They Always Come Back
  3. Jaeger Breaker
  4. The Drift
  5. b0y
  6. Shane
  7. Boneyard
  8. I’ve Had Worse Benders
  9. Mind Heist
  10. Dismei
  11. Ghost Pilot
  12. Shadow Basin
  13. Bogan Boogie
  14. Memories
  15. Never Coming Back
  16. The Most Powerful Man in The Black
  17. Hunter Vertigo
  18. Just Calm Down
  19. Kajiu Messiah
  20. Copperhead
  21. Atlas Destroyer

It’s a shame I didn’t get to this soundtrack a month ago, but better late than never right? I really enjoyed checking out the music for Pacific Rim: The Black, and you should check it out right away if you get the chance, as it is currently available.

Let me know your thoughts on Pacific Rim: The Black (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

TV Soundtracks

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Soundtrack Review: DOTA: Dragon’s Blood (2021)

On March 25th, Netflix released their new original anime DOTA: Dragon’s Blood, with a score by composer Dino Meneghin (Teen Wolf, Lore), based on the massively popular online MOBA video game DOTA 2. Dino is best known for his television score for MTV’s Teen Wolf, adapted from the classic Michael J. Fox films, as well as several episodes of the hit Amazon Prime Original horror anthology series Lore. In addition to his work in television, Meneghin also scored SNL alumni Taran Killan’s action comedy feature film Killing Gunther with Arnold Schwarzenegger and the short films The Tow and Prom.

Although the series is set in the fantasy DOTA universe, the score isn’t the kind of sweeping, orchestral music typically found in the genre. Composer Dino Meneghin wanted a different kind of score more akin to Tangerine Dream or the old Heavy Metal cartoons. Meneghin set to work creating an entirely unexpected score for the series driven by synths and oftentimes abstract but still able to pull the emotional weight of the story.

Speaking about his experience working on the series, Meneghin said:

“DOTA has been one of the best musical experiences of my career so far. Ashley Miller, Netflix, and Studio MIR were collaborative, open-minded, and willing to take chances with the score. Getting a chance to dive so deeply into a world loved by so many players and fans has been an incredible experience, and I hope the viewers will see and hear how much love we put into it.”

The music for DOTA: Dragon’s Blood really isn’t what you’d expect for a fantasy series. I was fully prepared for the full orchestral experience, as that often pairs well with these kinds of stories, but Meneghin didn’t go in that direction. Instead, what he’s put together is more pared down, while remaining intricate. There is a distinct hint of the fantastical if you listen to the music all the way through, but it’s not big and lush like, say, Game of Thrones. No, the music for DOTA: Dragon’s Blood….it almost reminds me of the music for Blade Runner, in spirit if not in actual texture. The way the synths form a background to the melody, it really does remind me of that science-fiction story, and that’s not a bad thing.

This may sound weird, but hearing the synths in the music had me thinking that perhaps the music is, in its own way, paying homage to DOTA’s digital roots as an online game. The synths make me think of a virtual world, which is how DOTA started, and I like how Meneghin weaves the artificial tones in and out of the musical score for DOTA: Dragon’s Blood.

I really enjoyed listening to the music for DOTA: Dragon’s Blood, it’s been a pleasant surprise and one that everyone should check out when they get the chance.

Let me know what you think about DOTA: Dragon’s Blood in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Soundtrack Review: Teen Wolf (2011-present)

TV Soundtracks

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Soundtrack News: ‘My Hero Academia’ Season 5 EP Out Now!

Milan Records released My Hero Academia Season 5 (Original Series Soundtrack EP) with music by composer and arranger Yuki Hayashi (My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising, Pretty Cure, Strawberry Night) on March 31, 2021.

Yuki Hayashi was born in Kyoto in 1980.  Being an active member in a men’s rhythmic gymnastics team in his early years spawned his interest in BGM while selecting songs to complement performances.  This led him to begin teaching himself music composition while at university, despite not having a background in music itself. After graduating, Yuki acquired the basics of track making under house techno DJ and sound-maker Hideo Kobayashi and started producing his first range of music accompaniments for dance sports.  

Available everywhere now, the EP features music written by Hayashi for the fifth season of the critically-acclaimed, hugely popular anime series. Hayashi returns to the My Hero Academia universe after scoring all four seasons of the hit anime television series as well as the first two film installments, My Hero Academia: Two Heroes and My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising. Based on Kōhei Horikoshi’s well-loved manga series, the fifth season of My Hero Academia premiered March 27.

MY HERO ACADEMIA SEASON 5 (ORIGINAL SERIES SOUNDTRACK EP)
TRACKLISTING –

  1. Go, Plus Ultra
  2. So Classmate Were Born Of Worthy Competition
  3. Successor
  4. A VS B
  5. “QUIRK” DON-PACHI Great Exchange
  6. What To Inherit

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Soundtrack News: The Promised Neverland Season 1 & 2 Soundtracks Available Now

Milan Records today releases The Promised Neverland (Season 1 & 2 Original Soundtrack) with music by Takahiro Obata.  Available everywhere now, the album features music written by Obata for the fan-favorite anime series, which just debuted its second season earlier this year.  With a total of 61 tracks, it collects all of Obata’s original music from both seasons, including the hugely popular “Isabella’s Lullaby” introduced in season 1 as well as “The Evil-Blooded Girl (Main Theme),” which premiered earlier this week via Funimation.

Of the soundtrack, composer Takahiro Obata says:

“I’m glad that the fans of The Promised Neverland are paying attention to the music as well. We would like to thank everyone for making the release of Season 1 & 2 Original Soundtrack possible! I hope you enjoy it!”

Freedom is beautiful, but brutal. Fifteen children escape Grace Field House, a false paradise, hoping for a chance at freedom. Instead, they encounter plants and animals they have never before seen, and are chased by demons. The outside world is so beautiful, and yet is almost too cruel to face. Even so, the children refuse to give up. They are guided in their search for better lives only by a message from Minerva and a pen Norman left behind in order to fulfill their promise to return to the House to save those of their family who are still trapped within.

THE PROMISED NEVERLAND ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK (COMPLETE EDITION)

TRACKLISTING –

DISC 1 –

  1. Introduction
  2. As a Soft Morning Sunrise
  3. Tag
  4. Studying for Exams
  5. Cold-hearted Isabella
  6. Training For Escape
  7. Tight Tension
  8. Isabella’s Lullaby
  9. Demon’s Manifestation
  10. Emma’s Sorrow
  11. Dancing Krone
  12. 63194 (Emma’s Theme)
  13. The Promised Neverland Main Theme 1
  14. GF House
  15. 81194 (Ray’s Theme)
  16. Tension
  17. Corpse Found
  18. Krone’s Scheme
  19. Existence of an Insider
  20. Emma’s Agony
  21. Isabella’s Lullaby (No Vocal Version)
  22. Krone on the GF String
  23. The Promised Neverland (Pf solo Version)
  24. Prison Break
  25. Strategy for escape
  26. Emma’s Determination
  27. Grandma and Demons
  28. Isabella’s Lullaby (Mandolin Version)
  29. Analysis for escape
  30. 22194 (Norman’s Theme)
  31. Their Own Thoughts
  32. Reasoning for escape
  33. Ray’s Retaliation

DISC 2 –

  1. The Deep Forest
  2. Guidance of Minerva’s Pen
  3. The Adventures of Ugo
  4. Threat of the Demon
  5. Ray Against Demons
  6. Mujika and Sonju (Instrumental Version)
  7. Mujika and Sonju (Vocal Version)
  8. The Promise Between Humans and Demons
  9. Training
  10. An Unlikely Friendship
  11. Nat King Cool
  12. Nat King Ballade
  13. Happy Family Circle
  14. Invasion
  15. Crisis
  16. Isabella’s Return
  17. The Temple Ruins
  18. The Evil-Blooded Girl (Main Theme)
  19. Isabella’s Lullaby (Arabic Version)
  20. Isabella’s Lullaby (Orchestra Version)
  21. Norman’s Lament
  22. The Promised Neverland Main Theme 2
  23. The Promised Neverland (Epf solo Version)
  24. Touch off (Short Version)
  25. Zettai Zetsumei (TV edit)
  26. Lamp (TV edit)
  27. Identity (short version)
  28. Mahou (Anime Size)

The soundtrack for seasons 1 & 2 of The Promised Neverland is available now!

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Soundtrack Review: Blood of Zeus: Season 1 (2020)

Milan Records has released the original soundtrack for season 1 of Blood of Zeus, with music composed by Paul Edward-Francis. The album features score music written by Edward-Francis for Netflix’s hugely-popular original anime series set in the world of Greek gods and goddesses.

Paul Edward-Francis is a British composer from Manchester who today lives and works in L.A, California.  Paul started working as a composer back in 2006 when he co-compose the music for an all-star adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s classic novel Hog-father. The two part TV series was a huge hit and Paul went on to score the follow-up, this time being The Color of Magic, which once again featured an all-star cast of greats such as Jeremy Irons, Tim Curry, and Christopher Lee and Brian Cox among others. Paul has worked on numerous productions for film and television with some of Hollywood’s biggest studios including Warner Brothers and Nickelodeon. He has also worked with some of the world’s leading orchestras which include the likes of The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and The City of Prague Philharmonic.

Of the soundtrack for Blood of Zeus, composer Paul Edward-Francis had the following to say:

“Working on Blood of Zeus was an experience I shall always treasure. The moment we sat down to watch the first episode we knew the score would play an important role. Just as we had seen on screen, we wanted to pay homage to Hollywood’s Golden Age within the score, but without losing sight of the world we were creating. The music ultimately had to ensure that Blood of Zeus had its very own unique themes and distinctive sound. As much as the music had to be big grandiose (“A Call to Arms”) or dark and threatening (“Heron Vs the Demon”), it also had to be heartfelt and provoke an emotional response (“Zeus and Hera’s Theme”). I could not be prouder to have worked on Blood of Zeus. It was simply an honor and I hope the music we created brings you as much joy to listen to as I had making it.”

The music for Blood of Zeus certainly does play an important role throughout the season, though I still struggle to describe in words how awesome it is. It feels ancient and modern all at the same time, with pompous fanfares giving way to music that comes straight out of a modern horror film. Edward-Francis. I really like this recurring fanfare motif that puts me in mind of Mt. Olympus every time I hear it. It’s everything that music about gods, goddesses and Ancient Greece should be. I wish I could get more specific, but that is the phrase that describes it best for me: the music just feels right.

One thing is for sure, Blood of Zeus would not be nearly as good as it is without this fantastic music. My favorite track has to be “The Titans.” It starts out like a piece by Ligeti and quickly grows into something bigger (no pun intended). The Titans being the insanely powerful primal forces that they are, Edward-Francis needed to create music to match them and he succeeded. Listening to this track, you get the feeling that you’re staring down something immense and ancient, with more power than you ever dreamed possible. All of that is what I feel while listening to “The Titans.”

I also really like how Edward-Francis was able to inject some humor into the music as well. For example, “Training a Demigod” includes some funny moments where you can almost see Heron’s epic fails in the early stages of his training (you know, when that robot flings him across the arena). I love when composers can replicate those little moments in their music and it’s just one of the details that make up why I love the music of Blood of Zeus so much.

BLOOD OF ZEUS (MUSIC FROM THE NETFLIX ANIME SERIES)
TRACKLISTING –

  1. One of Those Tales
  2. Heron Vs the Demon
  3. The Titans
  4. A Peasants Way of Life
  5. A Call to Arms
  6. A King’s Despair
  7. Heron’s Journey
  8. Past Is Prologue
  9. Hera’s Vengeance
  10. Convert or Die
  11. The Son of Zeus
  12. Electra’s Death
  13. Seraphim’s Theme
  14. Herme’s Run
  15. Seraphim’s Story
  16. Escape or Die
  17. Mount Pelion
  18. Alexia and Chiron
  19. Seraphim’s Quest
  20. Escape
  21. The Power of Zeus
  22. Flight to Olympus
  23. Training a Demigod
  24. Seraphim’s Rage
  25. Seraphim’s Revenge
  26. Journey to the Deep
  27. Apollo Vs Ares
  28. Talos
  29. Preparing for Battle
  30. War for Olympus
  31. Zeus and Hera’s Theme
  32. Gods and Heroes
  33. A Proud Father
  34. Blood of Zeus End Credits

You can enjoy the soundtrack for Blood of Zeus now!

Let me know what you think about Blood of Zeus (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

TV Soundtracks

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Soundtrack News: ‘Tower of God’ (Original Series Soundtrack) Available Now!

Milan Records has released the Tower of God (Original Soundtrack) with music by Kevin PenkinAvailable everywhere now, the album features music from the critically acclaimed Japanese anime series Tower of God based on the South Korean action fantasy web manhwa of the same name created by S.I.U.  The soundtrack consists of 44 original tracks by Penkin. He crafts an expansive, ethereal, and engaging sonic journey to mirror the adventures of the series protagonists Rachel and Bam. 

Kevin Penkin, based in Melbourne, is a BAFTA-nominated composer for Japanese animation and video games. He is best known for composing the award-winning score to ‘Made in Abyss’, and the music to the BAFTA award-winning game ‘Florence’. Kevin moved to London in 2013 to complete a Masters degree in Composition for Screen at the Royal College of Music. During this time, Kevin collaborated with legendary video game composer Nobuo Uematsu on a number of Japanese video game titles, which eventually led him to break into the Anime industry. After releasing his breakthrough score for Made in Abyss, Penkin continued to compose music for Japanese animation, with scores for both The Rising of the Shield Hero and Tower of God.

Of the soundtrack, composer Kevin Penkin says:

“Tower of God has been an extraordinary challenge, with an even more extraordinary reward. I’d like to thank and acknowledge the co-composers, musicians and staff—all of whom I call friends—that helped make this soundtrack what it is. This has been a once-in-a-decade project, and it’s an honor to compose for this series.”

Reach the top, and everything will be yours. At the top of the tower exists everything in this world, and all of it can be yours. You can become a god. Tower of God tells the story of the beginning and the end of Rachel, the girl who climbed the tower so she could see the stars, and Bam, the boy who needed nothing but her.

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My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life (2009)

My journey through the Pokémon films continues with Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life, the 12th film in the series. This movie concludes a story arc that began in Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai. The story follows Ash, Dawn and Brock as they arrive at the town of Michina, where strange events are taking place. In the distant past, Arceus, a legendary Pokémon with the power to create worlds, lent some of his power to revive the land Michina is built on in the form of the Jewel of Life. But when the time came to return the jewel, Arceus was betrayed, the jewel withheld. Now, thousands of years later, Arceus has returned to judge humans for their betrayal. But once again, things are not as they seem and it is up to Ash and his friends to uncover the truth.

Going in, I could’ve sworn that I never saw this particular film before. But as the story played out, it dawned on me that I remembered certain parts, so while I don’t remember the exact date, it seems I have seen Arceus and the Jewel of Life before, so it was great to revisit the story a number of years later.

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It was fascinating to see how Arceus and the Jewel of Life ties The Rise of Darkrai and Giratina & the Sky Warrior together. The film’s explanation that it was Arceus awakening that set everything into motion makes sense and it answers a question I hadn’t even thought to ask while watching The Rise of Darkrai, which was WHY had Dialga and Palkia encountered each other in the first place?

Once again, the plot of this film reminded me of a previous Pokémon film, in this case the story reminded me in part of Lucario and the Mystery of Mew. Like that film, Arceus and the Jewel of Life requires our heroes to find out the truth of what happened in the distant past. Unlike the Lucario story, Ash and company actually get to travel back to the distant past with the help of Dialga. And this is where I have my one big problem with this film. As you might expect, Ash and his friends succeed in changing the past and returning the Jewel of Life to Arceus, who gratefully leaves. But when everyone returns to the present…not only is Arceus still there, he’s still angry and fighting everyone. This makes NO sense to me. The general rule about time travel is if you change the past, you change the future at the same time. By returning the Jewel of Life to Arceus in the past, there would’ve been no reason for Arceus to be there in the present, so he should’ve been gone when Ash and his friends returned. I understand there needs to be a dramatic climax but this went way over the line of believability in my opinion.

Arceus_movie_12

I also have to say, I really like how the designs of Arceus, Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina complement each other. When all four are together, you can tell they kind of belong to the same “family” of Pokémon creatures. I mention that because I think it’s a really cool example of attention to detail.

Once again, I finished a Pokémon film that I really liked by the time it was over. Arceus and the Jewel of Life is definitely one of the better films in the series, and it caps off an excellent story arc. Definitely watch this one if you get the chance (but make sure you watch the others first for full effect).

Let me know what you think about Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life 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 4Ever- Celebi – Voice of the Forest (2001)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias (2002)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Jirachi—Wish Maker (2003)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew (2005)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea (2006)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai (2007)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Giratina & the Sky Warrior (2008)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

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: Pokémon: Giratina & the Sky Warrior (2008)

My ongoing quest to watch all of the Pokémon has now brought me to Pokémon: Giratina & the Sky Warrior. This was the 11th Pokémon film in the series and serves as the follow up to Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai from the year before. In this story, Ash and company (Dawn and Brock), find themselves accompanying an adorable hedgehog Pokémon named Shaymin to a special flower garden, while having to avoid the mysterious Giratina and a power-hungry individual known as Zero (who has an unhealthy interest in Giratina’s powers).

I was curious to see exactly how this film tied in to The Rise of Darkrai and was very pleased with what I found. Far too often, stories feature earth-shattering battles, only for a sequel to show the world operating as if nothing happened in the previous installment. Giratina & the Sky Warrior is nothing like that. This story makes clear that the battle between Dialga and Palkia had consequences so severe that Giratina felt obliged to get involved and hunt down Dialga himself to let the legendary creature know exactly how he felt about it. That appears to be the overriding message of this film, that actions have consequences, even if we can’t see them.

movie11_ss06

Beyond that, I couldn’t help but notice that the story arc with Zero trying to capture Giratina held more than a passing resemblance to Lawrence III and his plot to capture Moltres, Zapdos, and Articuno in Pokémon: the Movie 2000. Zero even has a floating vessel to get around in just like Lawrence III did. Granted their motives for doing so are somewhat different, but at their core Lawrence and Zero are both trying to contain legendary Pokémon creatures. I’m not saying this similarity is bad per se, I just find it curious that Zero and Lawrence III are somewhat similar. To be fair, a little similarity here and there is to be expected, when you have a film series as long running as Pokémon, some plot elements are bound to repeat themselves.

I also have to talk about my favorite thing in this entire film: Shaymin!! For years I thought Vulpix was my favorite Pokémon but it seems I’ve been missing out all this time. Imagine my delight when I discovered a hedgehog-like Pokémon like Shaymin exists. She’s so cute it’s almost unbearable, and she can shape-shift too! I know now, if Pokémon were real, I would have a Shaymin. That being said, I’m pretty sure they’re called “gratitude Pokémon” sarcastically, because my goodness did Shaymin have an attitude! That being said, I still love Shaymin.

movie11_ss03

The Reverse World, to put it mildly, was a mind-trip. It almost felt like being dropped into an M.C. Escher painting (well, maybe not EXACTLY like one, but close enough). I kind of love how casually Ash and his friends take being dropped into parallel dimensions, since this is the second film in a row that something like this has happened to them.

On a final note, I couldn’t help but notice that the story of Giratina & the Sky Warrior essentially ends on a cliffhanger, as the film all but states that Giratina is off to search for Dialga (presumably to continue their fight). While you couldn’t really tell that the story begun in The Rise of Darkrai would be continued, Giratina & the Sky Warrior makes it pretty obvious that the story isn’t over. On that note, I look forward to the ongoing adventures of Ash and company, and I’m curious to see how the fight between Dialga, Palkia, Giratina, and whoever else gets involved, turns out.

In conclusion, I really liked Pokémon: Giratina & the Sky Warrior. It carries on the story begun in the previous film, it has one mind-trip of a location in the Reverse World, and it has a pretty enjoyable story too. Definitely recommend it!

Let me know what you think about Pokémon: Giratina & the Sky Warrior 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 4Ever- Celebi – Voice of the Forest (2001)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias (2002)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Jirachi—Wish Maker (2003)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew (2005)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea (2006)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai (2007)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life (2009)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

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: Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai (2007)

My quest to watch all of the Pokémon movies continued with Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai, a 2007 film that is the first of 4 films set in the “Diamond and Pearl” era. This is the 10th Pokémon film overall and, to my knowledge, is the first to begin a storyline that is continued in a followup story (the rest of the films thus far have been standalone features).

Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai is a weird one, even by Pokémon standards. The closest thing I can compare it to is the third Pokémon film with Entei and the illusory world created by the Unown. Actually, in hindsight, that’s not a bad comparison at all, since the Unown are spotted in the dimension where Dialga and Palkia are fighting. But I digress…before all of that, the story begins with Ash, Brock and Dawn (no more May and Max, I’ll miss them) traveling to Alamos Town for, what else, a Pokémon tournament. Predictably, their plans become disrupted when strange occurrences begin disrupting the town, occurrences that appear to be caused by a mysterious Pokémon known as Darkrai, though not everything is as it seems.

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I’m embarrassed to admit that it wasn’t until I watched this film that I learned what Darkrai looks like. Right up until today, I thought Palkia was Darkrai (in my defense, I’ve never played Pokémon Diamond & Pearl so there’s no way I could’ve known). That being said, Darkrai freaked me out just a little bit, though I’m hard pressed to say why. Something about his appearance is just unsettling. You know what else was unsettling? The extended nightmare sequence where the ghostly Pokémon are floating around. That’s when things really got weird in my opinion. I get that things can get strange when you have two massive Pokémon that can manipulate time and space respectively, but still, weird is weird.

One thing I did enjoy very much was Baron Alberto, which is to say I loved to hate him. Actually the entire situation with Alberto and Alice reminded me quite strongly of Gaston and Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Alberto seems to think he’s entitled to Alice’s affections and he also doesn’t seem to be able to take no for an answer. But the biggest similarity? He’s determined to blame Darkrai for everything, he even rallies the other Pokémon trainers to take down Darkrai in an almost identical manner to Gaston rallying the townsfolk to go after the Beast. Quite an interesting parallel if you ask me.

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But the thing I liked most about Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai is the role that music plays in the climax. It was already awesome enough that the Space-Time Towers are shaped like a massive musical instrument (they vaguely remind me of a lyre), but then to have the power of music be what it takes to get Dialga and Palkia to stop fighting, that just blew me away. I feel like music doesn’t always get its just due when it comes to storytelling, and to have a story not only acknowledge but emphasize the power that music can have, that’s just something special. I loved the sequence where ‘Oracion’ plays from the Space-Time Towers; it was beautiful and so, so well done.

While Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai did weird me out at times, I did enjoy the overall story. More than that, I’m eager to see where the story goes, since I know now that the next two films continue the story that was begun here. If you haven’t seen this one, I do highly recommend it. I’ve still yet to see a Pokémon story I didn’t like.

Let me know what you think about Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai 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 4Ever- Celebi – Voice of the Forest (2001)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias (2002)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Jirachi—Wish Maker (2003)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew (2005)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea (2006)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Giratina & the Sky Warrior (2008)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life (2009)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Animated Film Reviews

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

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea (2006)

I skipped ahead slightly in my exploration of Pokémon films and next went to Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea, the ninth Pokémon film. Notably, this is the first film in the series to feature an all-new voice cast (no Veronica Taylor, no Eric Stuart, etc.) and boy does it show. After listening to six straight films with the same general voice actors it was jarring beyond belief to hear these different voices. But I digress, on to the story!

Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea follows Ash, May, Max and Brock as they find themselves teaming up with Pokémon Ranger Jack Walker as the latter seeks to return the mythical Pokémon Manaphy to the legendary Temple of the Sea all while attempting to prevent a dastardly pirate from claiming the equally legendary Sea Crown. (On a side note, I couldn’t help but think about how much Misty would’ve loved Manaphy and the Sea Temple given her affinity with Water-type Pokémon).

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Jarring voice cast aside, I really like this story. Water-type Pokémon have been among my favorites and this film is full of them. Plus, there’s some fantastic CGI animation of coral reefs and various sea life that is really well done. And of course I have to mention the Temple of the Sea is beautifully rendered as well. This is a place that I wish existed in real life and as crazy as it sounds, it was kind of giving me Castle in the Sky vibes with the architecture (that’s a good thing).

At last, after several films of wanting more Team Rocket, I finally got my wish!! Naturally Jessie, James and Meowth are after Manaphy once they learn of its existence, being the implacable treasure hunters that they are. They briefly manage to get their hands on the creature but the consequences are hysterical. I love Team Rocket so much, they always make me laugh.

And then there’s Phantom the Pirate, the big antagonist of the story. I’m not sure if this was intentional or not (I have a hard time gauging humor sometimes) but this guy made me laugh so many times. The way he talks, the way he acts, I just could not be scared of him because he’s so over the top. To be honest, the first time I saw him, I was reminded of One Piece (you know, cause he’s a pirate?). He also has the shortsightedness typical of most Pokémon movie villains, in that he’s so focused on acquiring the Sea Crown he’s completely ignorant of the consequences that come with seizing it (either that or he doesn’t care). On the flip side, maybe it was Jack Walker’s English voice actor but he kept coming across as super gung-ho from time to time (mostly when he called in to headquarters to give status reports). Let’s just say he had his own over the top moments that had me rolling my eyes (it’s a kids movie though so I’m not going to nitpick that much).

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I will say also that the Sea Crown is probably not what you’re expecting it to be. I know I was taken aback by what it actually was (how IS one supposed to “wear” it??). That being said, I can’t really say anything bad about the story, it was fun, it was tear-jerking (yet another Pokémon film that made me cry), and if you’re looking for a good time you’ll definitely find it with this story.

Let me know what you think about Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea 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 4Ever- Celebi – Voice of the Forest (2001)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias (2002)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Jirachi—Wish Maker (2003)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew (2005)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai (2007)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Giratina & the Sky Warrior (2008)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life (2009)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

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