Thursday, February 28, 2008

Review | Anime | Yu-Gi-Oh!

YU-GI-OH! : The popular card game Duel Monsters dominates Yugi Mutou's world, and with
the powerful cards given to him by his grandfather who owns a shop that sells
the cards, he is able to defeat various opponents. One day, a mysterious man
known as Pegasus sends Yugi a package inviting him to an island where he'll duel
with other Duel Monsters masters for the grand prize. However, Pegasus raises
the stakes by capturing his grandfather's soul to pursuade Yugi to come to the
island. Yugi also harnesses an ancient power that enables him to become a more
matured version of himself, carrying the soul of an Egyptian Pharoah.

If you're looking to bring yourself into the Yu-Gi-Oh world, definitely start with the original. None of this Yu-Gi-Oh! GX stupidity they've half-baked and slapped on TV. They're doing exactly what Pokemon did that lost them both their fame; they've attempted to milk the show for more than its worth and no one cares anymore. At one time, Yu-Gi-Oh was a major hype. Every kid wanted a deck of Yu-Gi-Oh cards, it was all it took to please them. Halloween costumes went out, toys, action figures, kids started buying the mangas. Kids were all over Yu-Gi-Oh until the originals went off TV and the producers attempted to compensate for it by introducing Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. The original characters, including the show's protagonist Yugi Mutou (pronounced 'Moto' in the English dub), are not featured in the new show, and new characters and hundreds of new monsters were introduced. At first, it was an interesting take on a popular show, but the new show itself was too dry to possibly keep the spirit of Yu-Gi-Oh alive any longer.

Though you don't see it in its former glory, Yu-Gi-Oh's flame still burns somewhere in the anime world. The characters are always distinguishable from not only the other characters in the show, but the rest of the anime world, due to their extravagant and unusual hair-dos (particularly the one found on Yugi) which any knowledgeable anime fan will have no problem identifying.

It's definitely a show to bring home to the boys. Since it was brought to American TV for young audiences, you can look into an English dub, but I am unaware that there is any overly questionable material in the Japanese dub. Despite being a good show it does require some patience. The characters love to talk. The show consists of a combination of fantasy and technology which can themselves be found either separately or harmoniously within the monsters the Duelists will activate, which are projected life-sized on the battlefield. Characters are continuously introduced which makes it difficult to keep up with them, but unlike Pokemon where characters are constantly added and replaced for the main band of characters, Yugi's group of closest friends remain the same.

Overall Rating:
/ 5


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Monday, February 18, 2008

Review | Anime | Sailor Moon

SAILOR MOON : 14-year-old Usagi Tsukino (or Serena Tsukino in the English
dub) is an ordinary schoolgirl who hates school and longs to hang out with
friends and play at the arcade rather than study. One day on the way to
school, she saves a cat from being bullied by a group of boys. The cat,
named Luna, who can also talk, approaches Usagi at her house and reveals
that Usagi is a "Sailor Scout", a powerful warrior capable of defeating
supernatural enemies that terrorize her city searching for powers that will
enable them to overtake the planet.

Sailor Moon is the anime that many say, myself included, paved the way for shojo animes. Creators of anime all over try to harness the audience in the way Sailor Moon did and have even tried to indistinctly mimick the Sailor Senshi (Tokyo Mew Mew and Wedding Peach are looking all too suspicious) but naturally aren't able to grasp the same magic that Sailor Moon brought the Japanese Film industries. Because of its wide popularity, the Sailor Moon manga was made into a multi-season anime and even into a number of musicals, and made hundreds of different products from very common to extremely rare. The dolls, once sold in major toy stores, are now expensive collector's items that are hardly even seen on eBay.

Sailor Moon was the reason I first began to experiment with anime. It's not hard for adults and children alike to wrap themselves around the anime, and a person can never worry about the lack of originality in the show. The transformation sequences for each of the Sailor Scouts are different and unique depending on which element a Scout has under their control. Even each attack made by the Scouts have their own special sequences and physical activations that keep the viewers in tune with the battles.

Even though it gets very tiring and nearly impossible to watch the entire series season by season without missing an episode, it still keeps its same humor and never runs dry of abilities, or enemies for that matter. One thing it does run dry of, however, are motives and results. The further the show goes, especially when it moves into the Diamond Heart Snatchers and the Dead Moon Circus, the more we begin to realize that the battles between the Scouts and the enemies are all too familiar. The enemies continue to be defeated the same old way, and it becomes way too predictable. It becomes quite obviously that the producers are running out of ideas.

Nevertheless, this is a excellent show for anyone. If you intend to let children view this, definitely look into the American dub. Because Japan is not disturbed by sensitive issues like homosexuality and nudity as America is, it is not at all uncommon to be faced with these in any original Japanese dub. Sailor Moon was widely edited for its content before being released to the American public, eliminating homosexuality and even the smallest amounts of violence. Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, a lesbian couple in the original dub, are changed to cousins in which they are on close terms. Zoycite, a male character, is made female to in order to make his relationship with Kunzite (Malachite) male-female. A small slap from Sailor Mars to Sailor Moon is removed from an episode, and even some scenes of the characters sticking their tongues out at each other are removed. I find it really interesting, however, that when the series introduces the Diamond Heart Snatchers, Dr. Tomoe's assistant Kaorinite remains unaltered, and I feel the most concerned with her. I've never seen a cleavage like the one found on Kaorinite. For that reason, if you're introducing Sailor Moon to a child, these are episodes I suggest you avoid.

Sailor Moon widely altered the anime universe and continues to bring people into the world of anime. If you want to broaden your anime horizons, this is one you won't want to miss.

Overall Rating:
/ 5


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Moonlight Densestu (first season opening theme)
Heart Moving
Sailor Star Song

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Review | Movie | Spirited Away

10-year-old Chihiro moves away to a new house with her family, much to her disgruntlement. When her father takes a wrong turn and they dead-end at an abandoned amusement park, Chihiro and her parents decide to explore the grounds. Her parents discover a restaurant full of food with no employees there, and they eat the food until they become pigs - literally! Chihiro is told by a young boy named Haku that the park is a mysterious spirit world, and the only way to save her parents and return to her world is to work under the witch who owns the world's bathhouse, Yubaba.

The amount of beauty and imagination that is put into Hayao Miyazaki's movies never ceases to amaze me. Not once have I found a Miyazaki movie I consider boring and lifeless. Left and right I see movies being created that have no unique plot and have been done a hundred times previous, and absolutely no care was put into creating the storyboard. Miyazaki never lets me worry about that.

Spirited Away was the movie that really got me interested in Miyazaki's works and ultimately in the Japanese filmmaking industries. I wouldn't mind having a moment to sit down and watch the DVD in its original Japanese audio, since I've only seen it in the English redub. Daveigh Chase, incomparably talented, brings the same youthful innocence to Chihiro as she did to the bubbly Lilo in the Lilo and Stitch movies (the originals; the good ones.) They chose an amazing voice cast for this movie, as they do with all of Miyazaki's films, that keep you in tune with the movie and connect you to the characters in a big way. Even though you want to feel sorry for Chihiro as she struggles to build herself onto her current situation, you can't help but laugh with the sneers and scorns of the bathhouse staff, partly because the actors bring hilarious comic voices to their characters, but mostly because the snooty employees are a bunch of overgrown frogs - who are they to judge?

The musical score of this movie is worth every cent of buying the soundtrack, the different instruments used in the music help to wrap the viewers around the new world Chihiro finds herself trapped in, and the smooth simplicity to Chihiro's theme "Always With Me", played at the end of the movie, is a serene unravel from the deep fantasy of the film.

This is an excellent movie to bring to the family because it's aimed at all audiences, this includes those who appreciate Japan's animation at its best. Some parents may feel uncomfortable that there is quite a bit of blood near the end of the movie (we see the injuries being applied but there is no detail; the event is surreal and very unclear until the scene moves along), and the big-headed (physically and egotistically) Yubaba with the nasty temper may frighten young children. There is also a scene where a huge monster begins to vomit brown liquid after consuming an unnatural amount of food; the monster vomits until it is reduced to a small size, its original size before it began devouring the food.

Any fan of Japan's most imaginative, artistic and surreal films will not want to miss Spirited Away.

Overall Rating:
/ 5


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Dragon Boy
Always With Me