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Archive for the ‘Anime’ Category

Stand By Me Doraemon (2014)

stand by me doraemon

10 year old bespectacled boy Nobita is visited by Sewashi, one of his great great grandchildren from the 22nd century who emerges from a drawer in Nobita’s desk with a warning that his future will bring him misery if he continues down this path which will ultimately have him marrying Jaiko, the sister of the class bully Gian. Sewashi brings along a robot cat with him, Doraemon whose mission is to change Nobita’s timeline so that his future will be brighter, happier and that he marries the classmate he likes Shizuka instead. Unless Doreaemon can do that, he won’t be able to go back to the 22nd century. Doraemon secretly lives in Nobita’s closet in his bedroom and with plenty of gadgets at his disposal sets about changing Nobita’s life for the better. Will Doraemon succeed in altering Nobita’s timeline?

Doraemon is a Japanese institution and one of the country’s well known manga/anime character. Nobita and Doraemon’s adventures have captured the hearts of the Japanese people for well over 40 years. The blue robot cat from the 22nd century first appeared in a manga in 1969 before getting his own anime series during the 70’s. The latest anime series which is still running on Japanese TV has been on air since 2005. Not only is Doraemon popular in Japan, he also has a huge fanbase in Indonesia. I’m ashamed to say I had no exposure to Doraemon at all until I saw this movie. I’d heard about him and read some titbits about the character but I’ve never seen the manga or the anime. This movie goes back to Doraemon’s origins in visiting Nobita for the first time as well as reliving some of his famous adventures over the years. There were some rumours that this was going to be Doraemon’s final movie but I’m happy to say that it is all hogwash as he will be back on the big screen in 2015. This movie was also released to celebrate Doraemon’s creator Fujiko Fujio’s 80th birthday (even though he passed away back in 1996). The movie first appeared in Japanese cinemas during early August and it is still running even now (well it was in early December when I was in Tokyo anyway). It’s probably the biggest money spinner in Japanese cinemas this year and it wouldn’t surprise me if a third of Japan’s population has seen this movie.

stand by me doraemon screenshot

For those that have been following Doraemon’s recent anime adventures, they will notice a big difference between this movie and his previous adventures. This one has been made into a full CGI 3D movie and it looks stunning. The attention to detail and the vivid colours used make this movie a fantastic visual experience. It may take a little bit of time for his fans to adjust seeing him look differently from his 2D self but it’s well worth it in my opinion! It makes a huge difference in how fans see all the characters they love and I really hope that all of Doraemon’s future movies will be made the same way. The movie is basically about Nobita and Doraemon’s strong friendship, how they help each other out and how the young lad begins to grow as a stronger person thanks to his new friend. He’s initially a bit of a wimp and even though Doraemon’s gadgets which he can produce from a pouch near his stomach such as an invisibility cloak gets him out of trouble they have their limitations as well. Nobita’s plans don’t always work out so he has to overcome those challenges himself. There is confusion for some fans who assume that Doraemon is not allowed to go to the future because of his programming but that isn’t the case. He may not be allowed to go back to the 22nd century but there’s nothing to say he can’t go into the near future which he does with Nobita through the aid of a magic door. The movie has got a straight forward and easy story that everybody can follow. For parents of young children and adults going to see this movie, they can wallow in nostalgia and identify with Nobita’s plight because they themselves will have gone through the same passage of growing up. You do care for the characters and want Nobita and Shizuka to fall in love with each other even though there are some obstacles in the way such as a young male classmate of Nobita’s that seems to make Shizuka’s heart all a flutter. You begin to wonder if Nobita will ever get together with her. Doraemon himself is such an adorable and mischievous character. The 3D effects capture his expressions so well especially the big wide grin on his face. I can understand why the Japanese people love him so much. There are plenty of laughs to be had but also some tears near the end when Nobita has to say goodbye to Doraemon or does he…………….

This is a fun, entertaining but also a touching family movie. It’s a brilliant introduction for those that have yet to see any of Doraemon’s adventures so far. The animation is amazing and there’s a very nice soundtrack accompanying the movie too. The wonderful story has it all from drama, humour, tears and happiness. Be sure to watch the end credits as there are outtakes of the movie which are amusing (it was a novel way by the animators of making sure that punters stayed in their seats till the very end of the movie!) Well worth checking out and it comes highly recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Windaria (1986)

Windaria dvd

Aka Once Upon A Time

Set in a country which is dominated by a huge tree are 2 kingdoms named Isa and Paro. The two have kept a truce between them for a long time but the war-monger Paro kingdom is ready to launch an attack on Isa. Stuck in the middle of the two lies a small village of Saki. A young couple (Isu and Marin) live in the village. Whilst Marin is a quietly spoken woman, Isu is a dreamer who is looking to be a hero. He saves Isa from being flooded after a spy from Paro opens a floodgate. During a trip back to Saki, Isu is tempted by a high ranking official from Paro to work for them. The man promises Isu fame and fortune. As tensions start to increase between Isa and Paro, this creates a problem for Isa’s young princess Ahnas who is in a relationship with Paro’s Prince Jill. Paro’s king orders a full scale attack on Isa and the odds do not look good for them as they have no weapons apart from bow and arrows whilst the technologically advanced nation of Paro have guns and tanks. This attack pits Prince Jill against his fiancée Princess Ahnas. With Isu’s help, Paro is victorious in their battle. He forgets about Marin who is patiently waiting for his return. Isu is happy to party away in Paro after he is rewarded. Unfortunately for him, this lifestyle is about to be cut short after the Paro Royal family grow tired of his antics and plan to have him killed.

This grim and depressing anime movie was one I’d never heard about until recently. I don’t think it’s a well-known anime over here in the West. It’s a story about how futile war is and that nobody wins in the end. It involves characters who have a lust for power, greed for glory and commit adultery. The plot shares a lot with the tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet. The story is told from the viewpoint of 2 couples and a woman Druid who longs to see her lover again after 10 long years. He pilots what is known as a Ghost Ship where the souls of people that have died take their place. The main character is a poor young farmer Isu who dreams of being a hero in order to gain fame and fortune. He starts out as being a likeable but slightly egotistical character especially when he saves Isa from being flooded. However, Isu sells his soul to the kingdom of Paro for his own gain but pays a terrible price for his actions as he betrays not only his wife but destroys the kingdom of Isa and kills innocent people in the process. I found it to be quite a moving tale and certain viewers I’m sure will shed a tear or two by the time the end credits come round.

Windaria screenshot

Comparison of this movie with some of those produced by Studio Ghibli will be inevitable as they share the same anti-war and environmental themes but that’s where it ends. Unlike the family friendly Miyazaki movies of Ghibli, this has no happy ending. There are very few characters you truly like – probably the one you can sympathise best is Marin who is faithful to the end for Isu even when he forgets about her and is happy to fool about with other women at the Royal palace at Paro. It takes an assassination attempt by his female helper to make him come to his senses and he realizes after surveying the destroyed kingdom of Isa what he has done. The sad tale of Prince Jill and Princess Ahnas doesn’t have a joyous ending either. These star crossed lovers inevitably clash with each other on the battlefield as both take over their respective kingdoms after Jill kills his own father and Ahnas’ mother dies. Neither ruler wants to fight but they won’t back down either as it’ll be shown to be a sign of weakness. Ahnas decides that as both nations are at war that death will be the only way for them to be with each other. She stabs Jill to death whilst she shoots herself in the head with Jill’s pistol on a tranquil bridge in the middle of a forest. Thankfully there is a small chink of light right at the very end of the movie so that the story doesn’t completely end on a downer.

The old school style of animation might not appeal to many current anime fans but I’ve always said there’s a certain kind of charm in these 80’s movies so I enjoy them. There’s no point in criticising the style and how the character movements aren’t as fluid as now because technology wasn’t on the animators’ side back then.  What you cannot argue about is how well thought out, dramatic and believable the story is and how you become hooked into the storyline. You begin to feel emotions (be it sadness or anger) towards certain characters. I know I felt anger towards Isu for being so stupid as to betray his lovely wife. The wonderful soundtrack by Satoshi Kadokura is a joy to listen to and captures the mood of the doom laden storyline perfectly.

Windaria is a very good anime with its classic story of tragic romance and political intrigue. It’s unavailable on DVD (apart from an Italian language dub) at the moment though you can see it online. Be sure to catch the original Japanese version and not the English dubbed one as quite a number of cuts have been made to soften the plot and make it more kid friendly. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5.

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Puella madoka rebellion poster

Following on from the events of the first 2 movies: Homura, Madoka and the other girls are still fighting witches and attending school in Mitakihara City. Things however are slightly different and Homura is aware that something is amiss. The witch that killed Mami is now one of her friends, the rest of the magical girls don’t remember certain parts of their memories and Sayaka is able to control her Witch form. It’s discovered that the girls are trapped inside a barrier after Homura has not been able to transform from a magical girl into a witch by the Incubators. She has reproduced the city that she lives within this barrier and dragged her friends inside it. Can Madoka save her friends?

The 3rd and final movie in the Puella Magi Madoka Magica trilogy has divided opinion amongst fans especially those who watched the anime series and thought it ended perfectly (I can’t comment about that as I’ve never seen it). The creators behind the movies could have finished everything after the previous one and left it at that but it’s obvious that they wanted to finish everything with a bang and they came up with this story. The first hour of the anime is a little bit confusing seeing as how everybody is alive once more but if you remember during the last movie Madoka created the world in her image after she transformed into being a deity so it’s only natural that she would want the entire magical girl gang together with her. It’s only after you start noticing that Mami is friends with her killer (a witch named Bebe) that you begin to think that something isn’t right in this world. Also it’s like the story has turned into a generic magical girl movie with all the pretty transformation sequences, cute mascots and teamwork between the girls into defeating their enemies but this is also something to show the viewer how skewered this world is. It leaves you wondering if it’s a dream. It’s all part of Kyubey’s master plan where the world that Madoka created will be reverted back to its original state so that the Incubators can harness energy from witches once more and due to this nefarious plan it’s enough to change Homura forever.

Puella madoka rebellion screenshot

I really enjoyed the development of Homura during this movie and how there’s a big swerve involving her near the climax. Thanks to Kyubey’s interference in Madoka’s world, it has resulted in Homura being driven by grief and despair to turn into an evil deity (something the Incubators hoped would happen). Whilst Madoka was perfectly happy to give up everything and become a deity in order to save humanity and make the world a better place, the same cannot be said of Homura who is doing everything for own selfish needs, that is she’s not doing anything to help out the other magical girls but for Madoka’s love which she doesn’t want to share with anybody. Madoka and Homura may be deities but on the opposite end of the spectrum (Madoka’s is more of an Angel to Homura’s Demon). There’s a big fight between Homura and her former friends. They are reluctant to battle her but they have no choice but to do so as she has gone too far. I’m of the opinion that Homura isn’t evil but a tragic person that is driven by a love which is somewhat obsessive towards Madoka. Nothing else matters to her. She just wants a life to share forever with Madoka and be damned with everybody else.

Judging by how things end in this movie, I don’t think this storyline is over and there may well be another movie taking place in the future with the hints that the director has given to the press. I’m sure fans of the franchise will also demand another movie. Chances are there will be one and I would love to see it. I think everybody deserves a proper conclusion. I have enjoyed the Puella Magi Madoka trilogy so much. It’s been a thrilling ride watching the 3 movies and I’m sure anime fans will enjoy them as much as I have. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Puella Magi Madoka Eternal

With Sayaka having turned into a witch in the previous movie after her soul gem darkened into a grief seed, the rest of the magical girls become aware of the threat of a powerful witch named Walpurgisnacht who is capable of destroying the city they live in to rubble. One magical girl isn’t enough to combat this witch alone and even two girls that combine together might not be able to stop Walpurgisnacht. Madoka is still torn between agreeing a contract with Kyubey into becoming a magical girl especially now with this huge threat looming. With everything she holds so dear might very well be destroyed, will Madoka give in to temptation and sacrifice her normality as a human being into becoming a magical girl to save the world?

The 2nd Puella Magi Madoka Magica movie covers the last 4 episodes of the anime series and I thought it was even better than the first movie. It’s certainly more dark and heavy. It carries on directly from where it left off at the end of the first movie. Whilst the previous movie sort of gave away some teasers as to what was really going on, a lot more is revealed in this one especially concerning the characters of Kyubey and Homura. The manipulative Kyubey reveals to Madoka that it is a member of an alien species called the Incubators. The Incubators have been ‘aiding’ mankind for thousands of years. Their ultimate aim is seeing the magical girls turn into witches as when their soul gem goes dark a tremendous energy is released and this is something the Incubators need as the very fabric of the universe is at stake so basically the magical girls are being used (not that we didn’t know that already!). Mankind has been toyed about by the Incubators for centuries. Kyubey explains how superior his race is by comparing human beings to cattle in that we use them as a resource and the Incubators are using humans in the same way. In his arrogance, Kyubey also says that the Incubators treat human beings far better than humans do with livestock.

Puella Madoka-Magica-Screenshot

It is Homura’a arc in the movie that I found to be the most compelling. Naturally the viewer had made an assumption from the first movie that she’s not a nice person, can’t be trusted and is a nemesis to Madoka. Well that couldn’t be further from the truth as the viewer discovers that Madoka and Homura are very good friends. I like how the writers has made the viewer judge Homura without knowing the circumstances of why she’s acting the way she is. Homura uses the powers of time travel that was given to her when she entered into a contract with Kyubey to make sure that Madoka never turns into a magical girl by trying to fight Walpurgisnacht on her own. However, each time she’s defeated she tries once more but with a different tactic but by doing this she drifts further away from Madoka. Homura goes through her own Groundhog Day experience, not giving up until she can come up with a scenario that can save Madoka. In the end, it’s futile as Madoka sacrifices her life to save the other girls despite their pleas as she wishes to transform not just into a magical girl but to a god on a higher plain with the universe shaped into how she wants it to be in which Kyubey has no control over. Part of her powers as a god sees her take away grief seeds from all previous magical girls throughout the ages so that they can return to becoming human beings again and free from the burden placed upon them by Kyubey.

I loved this movie. As I’ve said before in my review for the first movie this is nothing like those cutesy magical girl anime you’ve may have seen before. The story flows at a quick pace with some great action sequences and revelations to keep the viewer glued to the screen. The visuals are incredible with a fantastic soundtrack to accompany the plot. Having not seen the anime series, I’m not sure what’s been lost in trying to condense the series into this and the previous movie (though I’m sure that some things have had to be left out). Everything is set up nicely for the final movie in the trilogy ‘Rebellion’ which I’ll be watching very soon. That story is new, original and goes beyond what takes place in the anime series. I’m totally hooked on the whole storyline at the moment and can’t wait how everything all pans out in Rebellion. If you’ve seen the first movie and have not had a chance to see the second yet, don’t delay and try and watch it at your earliest opportunity. Highly recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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Puella-Magi-Madoka-Magica-Movie-Posters

Madoka Kaname is a pretty high school girl who along with her friend Sayaka come across a strange white creature named Kyubei after it is attacked by some evil witches and is saved by a magical girl. Kyubei tells the girls they can make a difference in the world by becoming magical girls themselves. At the same time, a new girl Homura Akemi transfers to Madoka’s class. She is a magical girl herself and warns Madoka not to take up Kyubei’s offer. Madoka and Sayaka meet yet another magical girl in Mami and seeing Mami in action finally persuades Sayaka to become a magical girl. However, in her next encounter against some witches Mami is killed in action. The reason that Sayaka has become a magical girl is to help heal her childhood friend (and secret crush) hand. Soon after Sayaka is led into a confrontation with a cocky magical girl named Kyoko Sakura. Each magical girl has a small egg shaped amulet called a soul gem (which contains their powers) and the awful truth about them is revealed to Madoka.

Based on the hugely popular late night anime series which aired in 2012, this is unlike any magical girl anime series/movie you may have seen before. This movie is basically a recap of the first 8 episodes of the anime series with some slight tinkering  to make it look better.  All conventional aspects of the magical girl genre is turned upside down in this movie into something darker which makes it all the more interesting although you’d never think that in the first 20 or so mins. This is nothing like the cutesy Sailor Moon or the Pretty Cure magical series – most of the girls in this story don’t get on with each other. It’s every magical girl for themselves as they battle each other for the energy that comes with fighting witches. The witches that the magical girls battle isn’t what you would think of as a traditional image for a witch. These witches come in all shapes and sizes and make for formidable opponents for the magical girls. Most don’t even appear in human form.

The characters the viewer is introduced to are all interesting. The most interesting of all is the floppy eared cat-like Kyubei who rather than coming across as cute is very manipulative in trying to persuade Madoka and Sayaka to become magical girls. Think of him as the anti-Luna (Luna is Sailor Moon’s guardian cat). He gives the girls plenty of promises about granting the girls a single wish if they accept his offer but fails to inform them what the offer really entails. The reality is having to sell their souls which gets transferred into the soul gem and their life as they once knew is over. Pain and suffering is the order of the day in fighting the threat of the witches and bringing balance to the world. In Sayaka’s tragic case, Madoka sees what happens to her friend once her transformation is complete – there’s a price to be paid for having her wish come true. In trying to make Sayaka change her mind into becoming human once more, she throws away Sayaka’s soul gem but this only makes Sayaka collapse and die. This is because the soul of the person is inside the gem, the body is more or less a husk and once the soul leaves the close proximity of the wearer the person dies. The tone of the storyline becomes incredibly dark by the time the end credits appear. If a magical girl’s soul becomes corrupt with hate or sadness the soul gem they possess darkens, turns into a grief seed transforming its wearer into a witch such is the case with Sayaka.

puella_magi_madoka_magica movie screenshot

Each of the other characters such as Mami and Homura are fascinating in their own right. Homura is like a thorn in Madoka and Sayaka’s side, constantly urging them not to become magical girls and you’re thinking to yourself why this is the case. There’s a revelation should Madoka become a magical girl she would be the most powerful one of the lot and Homura doesn’t like this idea. Mami is more of a nicer person than Homura and becomes friends with both girls but even she perishes during a fight with a witch. No magical girl is truly safe from the power of the witches. Add to that mix, the last out of the 5 major characters in Kyoko and you have a storyline that hooks you in and never lets go.

This is just the first out of a trilogy of movies. The next movie Eternal covers the last 4 episodes of the anime whilst the final movie ventures into new territory with the story. I really enjoyed this movie. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting but I’m so glad I made the decision to give this movie a bash.  The new slant on the magical girl genre was refreshing and I can’t wait to see the next instalment soon. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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The Wind Rises (2013)

The Wind Rises poster

This Studio Ghibli movie is a fictionalised account of Jiro Horikoshi’s life. Jiro was the man responsible for creating the Mitsubishi Zero Fighter airplane which was used for the Pearl Harbor and kamikaze attacks by the Japanese air force during WWII. As a young child Jiro was always dreaming of airplanes but since he had problems with his eyesight he discovered he could never be a pilot so he had ambitions of designing them instead. He attends university and passes with flying colours. Jiro gets a job with the Mitsubushi Internal Combustion Engine Company and after failing with his first aircraft he soon gets a chance to go to pre-WWII Nazi Germany to see how they design their aircraft. He comes back to Japan with more drive and desire to create the perfect airplane even though he is somewhat distracted at times by a woman he likes named Naoko who he met in the past.

Hayao Miyazaki has threatened to retire from making anime movies many times in the past but this time round it seems certain that this movie will be his swansong. The man is in his 70’s now and he deserves a well-earned rest though he won’t be disappearing entirely. He’s just going to be overseeing future Studio Ghibli productions instead. The legacy he leaves behind will be spoken of for a long time to come. However, this movie is likely to attract controversy from certain quarters because of the touchy subject manner in glorifying a man that designed military aircraft for the purpose of killing people. It is based on Miyazaki’s own manga and is probably the most adult of his movies. It’s also a personal movie as Miyazaki’s father was an aircraft engineer who built planes. This isn’t a movie that panders to children and to be honest I think they’d be bored with it anyway. It is after all a historical biography of a man pursuing his dream during a time when his country was going down the path to war. Don’t expect to see any cute characters, floating castles or some strange creatures here. The only thing that links this to Miyazaki’s other movies is his love for flying machines. Nearly every movie Miyazaki has done features some kind of flying machine in them as he has an interest in aviation. The animation by Ghibli is up to its usual high standards and Joe Hisaishi has composed a lovely soundtrack to accompany the story.

yoko_out

The plot is grounded in reality but of course it wouldn’t be a Miyazaki movie without some kind of fantasy element and in this case it’s Jiro meeting up with famed Italian aircraft engineer Giovanni Caproni in his dreams where he gets his inspiration and creativity. I’ve always enjoyed Miyazaki’s movies and have never felt any of them to be weak so far but I felt this movie dragged on for way too long especially during the middle section which focuses more on Jiro’s relationship with his wife who he first meets as a young girl during the aftermath of the Great Kanto earthquake and how she ultimately falls ill with TB. While all of this is touching and sad, I actually became bored by all of it. I wanted the story to stick with Jiro’s dream of creating the ultimate aircraft. It felt to me that these scenes stopped the natural progression of the plot. I just couldn’t connect with the character of Jiro either as I didn’t find him engaging enough. I was a little disturbed as well when Jiro tells Naoko he fell in love when he first met her. I’d guess she was only around 10 years old at the time and Jiro was in his late teens. Even though some people might say this movie makes Jiro some kind of hero in Japan for making warplanes, it is made clear that Jiro isn’t happy that his finished designs are being used for war purposes.

Whilst it was an interesting movie, I was still a little bit disappointed with it. I wouldn’t say it’s up there with Miyazaki’s best work. I’m more of a fan of his traditional movies such as Totoro etc. I was expecting something far more epic with tons of fantasy for his last movie. Despite my negative views on this movie, you definitely need to check it out.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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space-battleship-yamato-resurrection

It is the year 2220 and 17 years has gone by since the Yamato was seriously damaged while saving the Earth from the threat poised by the planet Aquarius. During that time Kodai and Yuki married and have a daughter named Miho. She is now 15 years old and works as an assistant for an animal shelter. The crew of the Yamato have gone their seperate ways. Kodai is working in deep space on freighter cargo missions leaving Yuki back on Earth. Then a new threat faces the Earth. A massive black hole enters the Milky Way and its trajectory unfortunately coincides with colliding with Earth. Within 3 months the black hole will have reached Earth. With no way of stopping the black hole, only one option can be taken  – mass migration to another planet to ensure the survival of the human race. The Amare system has one planet which can take all of humanity and plans are set in motion for a mass exodus. The first wave of civilian transport ships departs for their destination and Kodai’s wife Yuki volunteers to be a Commander for the military escort. Without warning, the transport ships come under attack and the ones that haven’t been destroyed manage to warp out of trouble. However, Yuki’s ship has been heavily damaged and when it comes out of hyperspace Yuki is missing. Kodai rushes back home to Earth only to be pushed away by his daughter. She blames him for abandoning her and Yuki. Kodai is summoned by Sanada, formerly an officer on the Yamato but now a Minister. He wants Kodai to escort another fleet of civilian ships to Amane. He is informed that the Yamato has been salvaged from Aquarius and upgraded with the latest technology. Kodai accepts as he can also try and solve the mystery of where his wife has disappeared. The new Yamato and the civilian ships come under attack from an enemy that is known as the S.U.S. They don’t want mankind to come to the Amare system as they think they will threaten the peace of the system. As the Amare system is aligned with the S.U.S, Kodai has a difficult decision – attack their enemies knowing full well that the S.U.S will launch an attack on the planet where humanity has landed or do nothing? What will Kodai do and what is the eventual fate of planet Earth from the oncoming black hole?

After a gap of 30 years from the big screen, the Space Battleship Yamato returned with a brand new adventure and an all-new crew. I’m sure that Yamato fans were salivating from the mouth on hearing that a new animated movie was going to be made at the time. To be honest 30 years was a hell of a long gap and I’m sure somebody could have come up with a good storyline for a movie well before 2009. The successful formula that made Yamato so popular is all here from a big threat to our planet, exciting space battles, a dash of romance and melodramatic moments. I loved the idea of a massive black hole heading for Earth and the only available option for humanity is to leave. How can you stop a force of nature that pulls everything inside it? Ships can’t destroy it and it’s course can’t be altered. This could have been a story where all of the old crew get back together to save the day but it was great to see that this would be different. With Yuki’s mysterious disappearance, Kodai has a reason to rejoin the military. Not only has he got to make sure that humanity is transported safely to a new planet but he has to look for his wife as well. There is no explanation why Kodai left the service after the Aquarius incident and why he took a job as a freighter pilot. In fact he had not returned to see Yuki on Earth for nearly 3 years – obviously there was something bothering Kodai for this to happen. This creates animosity between him and his daughter Miho as she thinks he just abandoned her although on Yuki’s part she didn’t think so. It’s a shame this aspect of the plot doesn’t get developed that much. In fact nothing about Yuki’s disappearance is resolved in the end paving the way perhaps sometime in the future for another movie which will see Kodai resume his search for his wife or maybe not. I know that there’s another Yamato movie scheduled for release in Japan in December 2014 but that will be based on the anime Yamato 2199 (remake of the first series) which aired during 2012/2013.

Yamato Resuurection screenshot

There’s an interesting mix of characters that portray the Yamato’s new crew from the young twins that are the chief engineers for the ship to the female doctor who also doubles as a fighter pilot when the need arises. Of course the new characters aren’t a patch on the classic crew. I did enjoy seeing Kodai getting a tour of the new and improved Yamato. Even the ship’s feared wave motion cannon has been improved and instead of it only being fired once as a last gasp solution to a crisis, it can now be shot 6 times. The scriptwriters have tried to cram a lot into the storyline by including not only one villainous race but another more powerful enemy as well. The majority of the movie has the Yamato pitting their wits against the deadly SUS Alliance but just when you think everything has been resolved and the Yamato has triumphed against a massive fortress by destroying a sun and then makes it’s final journey to Earth to pick up the last remaining inhabitants and to rescue his daughter, a new and more deadly foe who was a part of the SUS pops up to say that he is responsible for the black hole. There’s a rather poor explanation that the reason the black hole is heading for Earth is because there is a lot of energy on the planet. So the Yamato has to fight one more battle to save the Earth. I won’t spoil the outcome for you.

The CG animation for the movie is superb and it looks brilliant especially during the many space battles. There is more detail on many of the ships and they move about a lot smoother so the transition to CG for the Yamato in this movie is definitely an improvement. I did have a problem though with the soundtrack for this movie. For the first half traditional Yamato themes were used but then it strangely switches to classical music during the dramatic moments of the second half and I didn’t think it suited the storyline at all. It just sounded completely out of place and I’m just questioning why did the filmmakers need to do that. Very odd.

Ultimately whilst it was great to see the Yamato back and looking better than ever in this new movie, somehow it doesn’t quite hit the heights of the previous movies that I’ve seen. Perhaps it was to do with the new crew or there was something lacking in the script, it just doesn’t get the top marks that I gave the other 3 theatrical movies. It’s still a very enjoyable movie so if you’re a fan of the classic Yamato series/movies you should like this a lot.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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space_pirate_captain_harlock_ver2

In the future, the inhabitants of planet Earth has scattered among the stars but due to overpopulation in the new colonies, there’s a mass re-immigration back to the planet. The only problem is they can’t. The ruling Gaia Sanction has declared Earth to be a sanctuary and forbids any returning humans to land on the planet. This results in a battle called the Homecoming War. A 100 years after that battle, Captain Harlock in his ship The Arcadia is the last rebel fighting against the oppressors. Picking up a new recruit in young Yama, Harlock and his crew set out to unlock the “nodes of time” which he hopes will set things in the universe back to how it was once. However, it’s no coincidence that Yama has joined the Arcadia’s crew. His older brother Ezra, a high ranking commander in the Gaia fleet has placed him there in order to find out Harlock’s plans and ultimately kill him. Will Harlock defeat the Gaia and is Earth still the blue paradise planet it once was?

From the director of the 2 Appleseed movies (Shinji Aramaki) comes this new reimagining of Leiji Matsumoto’s legendary character Captain Harlock in a CG animation movie. The impressive visuals on display hit you immediately when the movie starts (it reminded me of the Final Fantasy VII – Advent Children movie). Apparently it took nearly 5 years to complete this movie and the filmmakers used cutting edge 3D technology. It’s such a shame though that with the attention paid to the animation they couldn’t have made the same with the storyline and the characters. I felt it lacked the essence of what made the Captain Harlock series so good. Some of the plot makes no sense and the characters are nothing to how they were in the anime series/movies. If only the scriptwriters had kept things simple and not too complicated it might have worked. Whilst it may deliver on epic and exciting large scale space battles, it fails on character development and lacks any emotion. The Gaia Sanction make for a completely forgettable enemy for the Arcadia’s crew. With so many memorable villains from the anime series to choose you’d think they could have picked one of them but no, it’s obvious they wanted to create a new enemy instead. There is also a lot of talk about dark matter in the movie and that Harlock has conquered death because of it and is now immortal. Dark matter is also the infinite source of power for the Arcadia which was developed by the alien civilization Niflung. The dark matter smoke plumes which emanates from various vents in the Arcadia’s hull looks really cool in the movie. As the ship is run on this alien technology even if it is damaged in battle it regenerates automatically.

SpacePirateHarlock

I did find it hard to really care for anybody in the movie as the characters come across as cold. The worst of all is Harlock himself – he seems to me like a completely different man. His motivations are questionable yet he has a crew that blindly follow him into any situation. That said I did like Shun Oguri voicing him. The new character of Yama is really annoying as he changes his allegiance more than once for stupid reasons (he must be one confused individual!) and I’m not sure what happens right at the end of the movie but it just seemed to me like Yama had transformed into a younger version of Harlock complete with a scar across his face and an eyepatch. It was a big minus for me not to have Emeraldas as one of the characters either.

If it wasn’t for the superb animation I probably would’ve rated this even less. This could have been a very good movie but with the messy storyline and uninteresting characters it just didn’t do anything for me at all. This movie also didn’t find favour with Japanese movie critics who gave it a thumbs down. I’m sure those who watch this having never had any exposure to Captain Harlock will enjoy it despite a lot of technobabble spoken by the characters. I was left bitterly disappointed by it all. To see Captain Harlock at his best, check out the movie Arcadia Of My Youth or the anime series instead.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

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Clannad (2007)

Clannad_movie dvd

Tomoya Okazaki is a high school student who doesn’t get along with his father since the death of his mother when he was a child and this has affected him. He is moody and sullen and only attends school as he has nothing better to do than hang out with his friend Sunohara. He keeps getting a strange dream that he is alone in an unknown world. One morning on the way to school he meets a girl called Nagisa Furukawa who asks if she can accompany him up the hill to school. He isn’t too bothered about the request and allows her to follow behind him. He discovers that Nagisa is repeating her third year as she was off the previous year due to illness. After meeting her again on the school roof, she tells him that she wants to restart the defunct Drama Club and has prepared some posters featuring some old mascots called The Dango Family. Even though the school council rejects her application and even defaces her posters that she has placed all around the school, due to intervention by school teacher Ms Ibuki the club is allowed to run. However as nobody joins, Tomoya and his friend Yousuke agree to join the club as backstage hands. Nagisa wants to do a soliloquy at the school festival based on a dream she keeps getting (the same one as Tomoya). Tomoya’s relationship with Nagisa deepens as he is introduced to her eccentric family who run a bakery. Will the two of them begin dating?

I watched the Clannad anime series about 5 or 6 years ago and enjoyed it very much but I passed up on the second series (After Story) due to negative comments about it. That was a mistake on my behalf as this movie compresses events in both series down to a 90 min movie. Two different companies have made their own version of Clannad. Kyoto Animation did the anime series whilst Toei did this movie. There are some subtle differences between the two which has divided opinion amongst fans namely the characterisations of the main players but I’ll go on about that in a bit. Surprisingly enough, this movie came out a month before the anime series was aired on Japanese TV (I’m not sure if Toei wanted to get one up on Kyoto Animation?).

clannad screenshot

I’d actually forgotten just how good Clannad really was until I watched this movie but I started to remember a lot as the storyline progressed. This movie concentrates more on the progressing relationship between the 2 main characters instead of spreading it out among the secondary roles in the anime series which wasn’t too bad a thing. What I noticed was how different Nagisa and Tomoya are from their anime counterparts and this is the main bone of contention amongst fans. Tomoya is far more angsty and resistant to Nagisa’s charm and Nagisa herself is far too cheerful and lively. She was quite a shy character in the anime if I remember rightly. As I haven’t seen the Clannad: After Story series I had missed out on the darker aspect of the storyline which is explored in this movie as well. The final episode of Clannad ended with Tomoya confessing his love to Nagisa and this is the point where I stopped watching it. In After Story the story continues after they have graduated high school with the couple marrying and even having a child but there’s a shocking turn of events as Nagisa dies soon after giving birth to their daughter Ushi which leaves Tomoya devastated and spirally into depression for 5 years. Thankfully the movie ends of a happy note reuniting father and daughter again as Tomoya has left Ushi to be raised by Nagisa’s parents. I did feel that the ending of the movie was rather rushed.

The animation is on a par with the anime series. It is crisp and the colours are vibrant. The haunting Dango Family song which was the ED theme for the anime wasn’t in this movie and I was so disappointed with that. Perhaps due to having watched the dubbed version of the movie maybe it wasn’t possible for the translators to create a straight forward English version of the song but the one they came up with isn’t half as good. I’m just wondering if the original song is used in the subbed version of the movie? At least the OP theme is played at the beginning of the movie. Even though I’m sure it was difficult for Toei to try and cram as much of the anime storyline into such a short space of time I think they did a brilliant job. The pacing given the time limitation is pretty good.

On the whole I think the Clannad movie is a worthy alternative take to the 2 anime series but I definitely prefer the series as it offers more character development and time to develop the storyline. I would recommend that anybody wishing to check this out to watch the anime series first before plunging into this movie. I will be aiming to watch After Story very soon. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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TwilightCockroaches poster

Naomi and Ichiro are a part of a tribe of cockroaches living in Saito’s apartment. As a human bachelor, Saito isn’t the cleanest person on the planet and all the bits of food that’s left around the cockroaches take for themselves, The cockroaches live well, have the grandest of parties and the freedom of Saito’s apartment who doesn’t bother them one bit. They can even appear out during the daylight hours knowing that nothing will happen to them at all even though the elder cockroaches frown upon this behaviour. A heroic cockroach from a rival colony by the name of Hans who takes Naomi’s heart comes with tales of cockroaches fighting for their lives in other apartments. Naturally they don’t believe the stories until Saito gets a new girlfriend who decides to move in with him and wants to clean his place up. She is horrified in seeing the cockroaches there and she declares war on them. The cockroaches decide to fight back against the humans but is this a fight in which they have no hope of victory?

This is an interesting mix of animation and live action in which the plot is seen from a cockroach’s point of view. It’s got a compelling story of survival as the roach colony in Saito’s apartment faces mass extermination at the hands of 2 human beings who are determined to wipe out all of them. Many people have said that this is seen as something like the Jewish holocaust – that’s up to the viewer to make that assumption. It doesn’t start out as being a genocide movie at all as the roaches are enjoying their lives in relative peace and quiet in Saito’s apartment. Seen as a slob, he doesn’t seem to care how dirty his apartment is until that is he catches sight of the woman living in another apartment complex opposite from his own. Saito’s apartment is like a kind of a utopia for the roaches and they cannot comprehend when Hans and his rival colony state that they’ve been in a life or death struggle where they come from. As Saito’s relationship with his new girlfriend progresses she moves in with him and that’s when the human/roach war breaks out. The young roaches seem to have the same problems as their human counterpart i.e relationship matters etc. Naomi is shown cheating on Ichiro with the dashing heroic rival roach Hans.

TwilightCockroaches screenshot

This isn’t what you would call a typical anime movie. It’s rather different from the norm and it’s certainly hasn’t got a cutesy storyline. The roaches are given friendly human faces possibly for the viewer to sympathise with them? The mix of live-action and animation is surprisingly well done. The pacing of the story might be a bit slow but that’s only because it takes it’s time to acquaint us with all the characters. Don’t expect to see any character development at all. There’s even an appearance by a talking turd years before Mr Hankey in South Park!! It did make me laugh seeing that. The storyline does get a little sad as the roaches are massacred either by getting squashed by feet, roach spray or a bug bomb. Hans who turns into a right Adolf Hitler like character launches a last desperate attack on the humans but it is doomed to fail. Nevertheless there is a ray of hope for the roaches at the end as Naomi is shown to be pregnant so not all of them are killed.

It’s depends on how you view cockroaches whether you’ll like this movie or not. If you hate them I’m sure you’ll enjoy seeing them being slaughtered! I enjoyed the movie even if the storyline was a bit depressing at times. Well worth seeking out this unique movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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Colorful (2010)

Colorful dvd

In a sort of a waiting area in the afterlife, a soul is given a second chance in life. The soul will be placed into the body of a recent suicide victim by the name of Makoto Kobayashi, a young 14 year old school pupil who took an overdose on his mother’s sleeping pills. He is given a set number of days to try and find out why Makoto killed himself, learn to enjoy life and discover what was the sin he committed before his death. If he succeeds in his task, he will be able to live permanently as a human being once more. Should he fail though, he will cease to exist.

Based on a novel by Eto Mori, this is an anime movie that deals with a dark subject in teen suicide. It tells the story in a mature way and doesn’t try to skirt around the issue. I may have mentioned before that suicide especially in young people is a major problem in Japan. Over 30,000 people take their lives in the country each year and this is something which the government has been trying to tackle for years with little success. Japanese boys are more likely to kill themselves than girls. Japanese society is all about pressure.  School pupils are pushed to do well by their parents so that they can enter the best universities after they graduate. Sometimes the pressure and expectations placed upon them gets too much and they feel that suicide is the only option left to them. It’s not uncommon to see pupils in their school uniforms on the weekend or during the evening as they head to cram school for extra tuition.

This movie examines the possibility of a soul coming back and being given a second chance to correct a mistake. It deals with a young lad who has a lot of issues to contend with – he’s bullied, his parents are having problems in their relationship and he likes a girl that only sees him as a friend.  Real problems that are believable and whilst the majority of us might be able to deal with them, in Makoto’s case he couldn’t. The movie has a rather grim and painful plot but then again suicide isn’t something to be taken lightly so if you’re after a Ghibli like anime to watch I think you’d better look elsewhere. The soul that is placed in Makoto’s body is given a spirit guide in a young schoolboy called Purapura. Just as Makoto is about to die in hospital, the soul is put in the body and awakens to find himself in a hospital bed. As the soul is unfamiliar with how Makoto was around his family and peers at school before he tried to take his life, some of them notice some subtle changes in his character which arouses suspicion. One of whom is a bespectacled female classmate by the name of Shoko Sano who he finds annoying as she’s rather nosy. As the story develops, the viewer is shown what a sad and lonely life Makoto was leading and the factors that led to his untimely demise – he had no friends, his performance at school was poor (coming last in a class of 32) and he discovered that the object of his desire Hiroko was going into love hotels with strange men for money (the practice of enjo kosai). Makoto also has an estranged relationship with his mother after discovering she’s been having an affair with her dance instructor so he’s rather bitter with her. His older brother Mitsuro blanks him for most of the time at home so Makoto’s home life isn’t a happy one at all. But slowly and surely through his crucial friendship with Saotome, another outsider in his class he can forget about the troubles in his family life, open up about himself to another person and have a good time. He finds he can connect with one of his peers, something which he wasn’t able to do before. Through this process he begins to finally discover and understand himself. Sometimes it only takes one person to break through a dark time in a person’s life to instigate a change and for Makoto that was Saotome.

Colorful screenshot

There’s a rather unexpected twist right near the end which if I have to admit I did guess correctly. I’m not going to spoil what this twist is all about but I’m sure the viewer will be able to work out what it is whilst watching the movie.  Director Keiichi Hara delivers a stunningly realistic character-driven movie in which it portrays the hardships that some of Japan’s youth go through and how fragile life is. Usually associated with the silliness of Crayon Shin-Chan’s antics, this shows just how much of a talented director he is. The animation is crisp with well-rounded characters that you can relate to. I was really impressed with this movie. This movie is a prime example of the differences between Western and Japanese anime. The West is perfectly happy with shallow CGI movies (not that there’s anything wrong with that because I find them entertaining) but if you’re after an anime movie which can tell deep, difficult or educational stories about real life then only Japan can give you them.  The meaning behind the title of the anime is also revealed at the climax. This movie comes highly recommended and I do urge you to check it out when you have a chance.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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Be Forever Yamato dvd

The year is 2202 and the Black Nebula Galaxy Empire launches a surprise attack on Earth and totally overwhelms the planet’s defences.  To guard against any attack on their fortress HQ, they plant a huge bomb which will destroy over half the planet. Surrender is the only option available. Luckily the old crew of the Yamato manage to escape minus Yuki to an asteroid where the Yamato is hidden inside.  The Yamato heads to the Black Nebula Galaxy and the empire’s home planet in order to destroy the trigger for the bomb on Earth. Meanwhile on Earth Yuki is shot during the Yamato crew’s escape and captured by the alien commander Alphon who begins to fall in love with her. She has to become his house servant and tries to get close to him in order to feed the Earth Resistance some information on neutralising the bomb. Will the Yamato be able to make their way deep into enemy territory and pull off the impossible?

This was the 3rd theatrical Yamato movie but the 4th overall. There was a TV movie (The New Voyage) before this movie which introduced the Black Nebula Galaxy Empire. Once again Leiji Matsumoto excels himself by giving the viewer an exciting action packed space opera onboard the Yamato. I enjoyed catching up once more with the dedicated crew of the ship. There’s two parallel storylines running throughout the movie: one focuses on Yuki and her attempts to soften up Archon to gain information for the resistance and the other with the Yamato itself. It is the plot with the Yamato’s journey that I found more interesting as they discover the enemy’s home planet is exactly like Earth. The enemy disguised as human beings explain that it is Earth but 300 years into the future and the Yamato crew are shown their own demise in battle. It is obviously a trap by the enemy to confuse and demoralise the crew and they eventually find that it is indeed a ruse. Using their Wave Motion Cannon, the fake Earth is destroyed only for an even greater threat to emerge as a huge metal fortress planet Dezarium is revealed. It is only due to Sasha (a new half human half alien female character) who has taken over Yuki’s duties on the Yamato that saves the day and enables the ship to enter Dezarium, blast away at a target inside it and fly out before it explodes. I loved the battle scenes, they’re probably the best of the 3 movies I’ve seen.

Be Forever Yamato screenshot

There are a couple of new characters in this movie. I’ve already mentioned Sasha. The other is the new Yamato captain in Admiral Yamanoto. He’s a rather pointless character who contributes zilch to the movie. Apart from barking out orders and dying in battle that’s all he does. They should have given command of the ship to Kodai from the start although that does happen at the climactic battle.  The quality of the animation I thought had improved slightly from the previous Yamato movie I watched. Even though the running time is over 2 hours long, the exciting storyline makes sure that the viewer is always glued the movie. The animation itself is of a high standard.

Overall, this is an excellent anime from Leiji Matsumoto and Yamato fans who have come to enjoy the massive space battles and heroic figures in the previous movies will no doubt be thoroughly entertained by this movie too. I will be checking out the other Yamato anime movies that followed this one sometime in the future. Highly recommended.

No trailer for the movie I’m afraid.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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The King Of Pigs (2011)

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Two men who haven’t met in 15 years get together over a drink. Kyung-min and Jong-suk who are going through some problems reminisce about their high school days and the boy that changed their lives forever. In their youth, the two were constantly bullied by the gang in their class. The gang consisted of boys that had rich parents and the teachers allowed them to do as they pleased. They called themselves The Dogs. Everyone else was deemed lower than them and were called Pigs. The gang loved to humiliate their fellow pupils. Then one day somebody challenged their authority. Chul was a boy in their class who resorted to violence in order to stop the gang. He befriends Kyung-min and Jong-suk and says the only way to beat the gang is to even more violent and evil. To demonstrate to the pair how to combat the gang, he meets them up at the place where he is staying. He pulls out a knife and stabs an angry cat that he has chained up and tells them this is the only way to get them back. He offers them his knife and to go ahead with stabbing the cat. Jong-suk is fine about this and takes out his frustrations on the animal but Kyung-min isn’t quite so sure. The tit-for-tat violence continues at the school until Chul goes too far and he is expelled. With Chul out of the way, the gang continue to attack Kyung-min and Jong-suk. They still meet Chul outside of school.  He proposes a plan to the pair that will mean The Dogs will never be able to remember their school days with any joy or happiness. Will Chul go ahead with his plan and why has Kyung-min mysteriously asked to see Jong-suk after all this time?

South Korea isn’t renowned for it’s anime movies having only released a handful of them so far. This is a violent and hard hitting award-winning anime on bullying. The story is mostly told in flashback and returns every now and then to the 2 men talking in the present day. It is certainly not an anime for kids and even though it is about two boys reminiscing about their high school days it has a dark and depressing storyline which doesn’t shirk away from portraying the brutality that takes place in Kyung-min and Jong-suk’s school. A school which turns it’s back on vicious bullying and lets students who have rich families to do as they please. The pair are humiliated several times during the course of the movie by a gang of rich boys in their class. It is obvious that the violence the pair were subjected to has haunted and shaped how their lives are run in the present as adults. It is assumed but never confirmed right at the start of the story that Kyung-min has killed his wife by strangulation and as for Jong-suk – before heading out to meet Kyung-min he beats up his wife so the 2 men have a lot of issues stemming from their past.

The king of pigs screenshot

This isn’t the easiest of anime to watch because of the raw violence that’s shown which only gets worse once Chul comes on the scene. Chul is a loner who decides that enough is enough and he dishes it out to the bullies with a ferocity that’s unflinching. His doling out of pain to the bullies provides a respite to Kyung-min and Jong-suk who becomes friends with him but seeing them aligned with Chul gives the bullies an even more reason to target them. Chul’s reasoning to combat the bullies is to fight fire with fire and even take it a step further! It’s disturbing to see Chul showing the pair on getting their own back by killing his chained pet cat with a large kitchen knife. Although Kyung-min runs out of Chul’s place after witnessing Jong-suk copy Chul in stabbing the cat, he comes crawling back and vents his fury on the poor defenceless creature. It’s all fine for the pair when Chul is around but once he’s expelled that protection is gone and the bullying goes from bad to worse for them. This bullying mirrors allegedly what really takes place in South Korean schools where this type of behaviour is rife.

Just when you think that this anime movie is about to conclude without anything major happening, there’s a huge twist which takes the viewer by surprise. Chul has a plan to make the bullies never forget their schooldays. It involves him going to the school roof and jumping off but he chickens out at the last minute until Kyung-min sees Chul’s body falling from the roof and hitting the ground in front of the whole school. Everybody thinks it’s suicide until Kyung-min notices a familiar figure pushing Chul off the roof. He never mentions anything to anybody but this secret that he’s kept for 15 years is about to be unveiled and it is the main reason why he has tried to seek Jong-suk after all this time.

Unlike Japanese anime, the style of animation in this movie especially on the faces of all the characters is different and whilst a lot may not like it, it made a nice change. This movie only had a small budget so the backgrounds are quite limited and simple. It was good enough for me.

This anime won’t be for everybody’s taste and makes for unsettling viewing because of the grimness of the storyline but I liked it’s depiction of harsh real-life situations and hierarchical Korean school society where the downtrodden and weak are targeted mercilessly. Debutant director Yeun Sang-Ho has done a remarkable job on this anime. It’s well worth checking this anime out if you’re after a realistic storyline.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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Wicked City (1987)

Wicked City dvd

For centuries there has been a peace treaty between the demon world (called the Black World) and the human world although there are many from both sides who have tried to break it. It is now time for the treaty to be renewed and a gang of demons called The Radicals is determined that it will not be signed. Taki is a human who is a part of an elite special squad named the Black Guards. He is assigned a demon Black Guard partner, a sexy female one named Makie. Their task is to protect the person that will sign the treaty – a 3 foot tall, 200 year old pervert who goes by the name of Guiseppe Maiyart. The Radicals will do anything to kill Maiyart. Will Taki and Maki be able to stop them?

This anime in some quarters has been labelled as the adult version of Men In Black and you can’t argue with that fact. The two heroes charged with protecting a pint sized pervert who is more concerned about hiring prostitutes than signing a treaty are dressed completely in black so it makes you wonder if anybody in Hollywood saw this anime and it gave them an idea? The big difference though between this anime and the Hollywood movie is this isn’t a kid friendly production! If you’ve seen director Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s other works such as Demon City Shinjuku you’ll know that he likes to put a good dose of sex and action into his stories and it’s no different in this one. The characters in this anime are no different to what we’ve seen before from him as well. I must warn some viewers that there are numerous scenes which make for some uncomfortable viewing and the majority is centred on the female demon Makie. She is captured by a gang of demons who use rape as a form of torture. Another thing to take notice is if some of you out there has seen the movie Tokyo Gore Police you will remember that one of the ‘Engineers’ was a woman who had rather peculiar genitals if you know what I mean! When I saw a similar person in this anime it did make me think whether that idea was lifted from here and put into that movie? The animation even though it is old school is good and the demon designs are imaginative. One demon even gives Taki a bit of a fright. Taki who’s a bit of a playboy takes a woman home for some action one night until she gives him the shock of his life by transforming into a spider demon! I thought that was rather cool.

Wicked City screenshot

The storyline whilst interesting and exciting with all it’s violence and mayhem starts to fall apart though as we approach the end after Makie and Taki who have an obvious attraction as they spend more time in each other’s company have sex and she falls pregnant. It turns out that Guiseppe Mayart’s grand plan after all this time was for the two to become closer, fall in love and have a half human half demon child who will bring peace between the two worlds.  And this is the reason why Mayart has been acting like a sex-mad loon for the majority of the movie and getting himself in dangerous situations in order for this to happen. This is the so-called twist in the plot! To me it was a bit lame. Seeing as this is a dark and serious anime, it is Mayart that also brings some much needed comic relief as he gives Taki and Makie a lot of trouble by sneaking away from locations which are protected by powerful magic to look for some female company. If there’s a stereotype for a quintessential dirty old pervert it’s Guiseppe Mayart alright!

Overall, this was an entertaining movie so if you like your anime dark, a little bit edgy, bloody and you don’t mind if the plot gets rather stupid by the climax you do no worse than giving this a try. There is a live action movie based on this anime which was made in Hong Kong during 1992 which I’m keen to see. Having taken a look at the first couple of minutes, it did seem to match the anime scene by scene.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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detective conan_full score of fear

A bomb kills 2 musicians who are taking part in a rehearsal for a special concert at Doumoto Music Academy. Other musicians are also killed with a piece of a flute found at the crime scenes. A soprano singer Reiko who has a perfect pitch in her voice is going to be the next target for the killer and it’s up to Conan to protect her life and find out the identity of the culprit. On the night of the concert, several bombs go off outside trapping the concert-goers inside even though they are unaware that anything is wrong. Conan must stop the other bombs from going off or the whole building will go up in flames.

The 12th Detective Conan movie whilst offering nothing extraordinary to those that have seen previous entries, it does deliver a solid storyline full of the usual twists and turns you expect in the young detective’s tales. I’ve seen a few of the movies and not in chronological order either but this is probably the weakest one I’ve seen so far. As you’d expect from the title of the story, there’s a strong musical flavour where various classical tunes such as Ave Maria and Amazing Grace are played out. I’m not sure if the theme of the movie was picked due to the popularity at the time (the year 2008) to Nodame Cantabile which featured heavy use of classical music. The standard formula for Conan’s movies is followed with him uncovering clues leading to the capture of the killer while the police and especially Ran’s father Kogoro continue to make fools of themselves with their useless deductions! Maybe some fans would like to see something new happen but why change a formula when it works extremely well. The story is somewhat exciting, well thought out and fairly gripping though other stories I’ve seen have been better. There is one outrageous scene in this movie which beggars belief and it involves Conan and Reiko stranded on a lake in a boat after being ambushed. Take one football, a telephone and an understanding of musical theory to get the pair out of trouble. There’s always got to be a scene such as the one I’ve just mentioned in Conan’s movies which are outlandish but it’s part of the appeal they have. It wouldn’t be the same to Conan fans if they weren’t included in his movies!

DetectiveConan_Full Score photo

Onto the characters of the movie – I wasn’t sure that I was going to like the character of Reiko at first as she came across as being obnoxious and I wished that she’d be bumped off but I did warm up to her and she makes for a pretty good and likeable companion to Conan during his investigation. Reiko is involved more in the story than Ran who is pushed to being a bit part player. Reiko also was the only supporting character to really do anything interesting and have some sort of character development. The others are mostly relegated to the background. The interaction between Conan and Reiko is pretty good too. I was disappointed with the unmasking of the murderer as the character turns out to be quite dull. The story does keep you guessing right until the end as to the identity of the murderer but I’m sure some of the smarter viewers out there will have deduced who it is well before this time. Although she doesn’t have a great deal to do in the movie I still love the character of Ai Haibara (formerly known as Sherry from the Black Organisation) who regularly comes up with some funny sarcastic remarks. She’s probably my favourite character in all the Conan movies I’ve seen.

Detective Conan fans may find this movie a bit lacking if I’m being honest. It simply isn’t memorable enough to be labelled as one of the best movie stories. It’s not an excuse though to bypass it as the story still has a couple of good moments but non-fans would be best to check out other stories if they’re new to the franchise.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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