Archive for the ‘anime’ Category


Comic-Con 2008

July 21, 2008

The time has finally arrived–at least nearly.

I’ll be heading out to San Diego on Wednesday for the Con, and if internet access is available at the condo I’m staying at, I’ll try to post entries on what’s happening at the Con. If not, look for Comic-Con entries next week.

For those who have never been to Comic-Con, it is an event you should check out at least once in your lifetime. They promote everything from TV shows, to movies, to comics, to collectables, and some celebrities present. I mostly go to see the booths and attend forums. They also often show sneak peeks at upcoming movies. 🙂

Anyways, more on Wednesday or next Monday, depending on internet availability.

(And yes, Avatar sum-up is on its way, just busier than usual).


The Boiling Rock and TONIGHT!!

July 17, 2008

Awwww, don’t you love Sokka and Suki? Hope this isn’t too much of a spoiler, but I think after this episode I’m ok with it likely being Zuko and Mai (not Katara) together.

But I’m not really in the mood for reviewing this/these episode(s). They were awesome, let’s leave it at that.


What would uncle say? (Looks at the sky) Sometimes, clouds have two sides…a dark and light and a silver lining in between, it’s like a silver sandwich! Sooo…when life seems down, take a bite out of the sandwich..?

I’m just really excited for tonight. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen any new episodes and I can’t wait for tonight’s!!! From about “The Southern Raiders”:

Katara decides to confront the Fire Nation soldier responsible for her mother’s death.

I’m wondering how they come across this soldier. I was really hoping Iroh would have showed up by now, but maybe he’s just been watching from afar and will jump in the bunch on Saturday during the big finale? I’d love for Zuko and Katara to have at least one more moment before it all ends. *sigh* But, probably not going to happen. The creators love Aang too much and, well, that would be a crappy ending for him–unless he gets killed in the fight. Dunno…

The Avatar creators will be at Comic-Con this year, but that’s the same time as MST3K’s panel, and since all they’re going to really do is watch the last couple of eps from the series, I think my time will be better spent with Joel. 😉

But if anyone out there does go to the Avatar panel, let me know how it is. And hooray for new episodes!!!


The Firebending Masters

July 16, 2008

Like I said, I’m glad Zuko is on the Avatar team, because he’s my favorite. This episode was fascinating in several senses: seeing Zuko and Aang team up, seeing that they both must overcome their own weaknesses to save the world, and seeing that the way the world got screwed up in the first place–with the ruler of the fire nation and the Avatar–is the same way the world will be saved: with the (soon to be) ruler of the fire nation and the Avatar.

I hate that people label animation as “just for kids,” when some of the best story-telling comes out in animation. (Besides, aren’t these same people watching the Simpsons–aka, an animation?)

I’m still very much impressed with the martial arts the creators bring into the show with their Sifu. For those of you who didn’t know and love the show, watch the bonus materials on the DVDs! Seriously! There is a ton of kung fu going on, which I’ve always appreciated for bringing a more realistic edge to the show. Yeah, we can’t water/fire/earth/air bend, but the movements they use are real and effective. I suppose I bring this up because of the “dragon dance” Zuko and Aang do and how much it reminds me of forms I’ve seen in kung fu (I study northern shaolin style).

Ok, so this post is more me geeking out about the show then reviewing the episode. It’s great! Another thing I love about Avatar is it’s basically American-made anime. Why is that good? Well, don’t get me wrong, I love Japanese anime to the extreme, but sometimes it’s nice to have a solid animation with American humor. One word: Sokka. 🙂


Sokka: (with an apple in his hand) Hey jerks, mind if I watch you two jerks do your jerkbending?
Zuko: Get out of here!
Sokka: Ok, take it easy, I was just kidding around. (laughs) Jerkbending, still got it.

The Boiling Rock pts 1 & 2 are coming up tonight, this time with some great Sokka and Zuko moments. Yeah, it’s pretty much Zuko fan week. And then finally on Thursday, some new eps for the kiddies who couldn’t wait (namely me, but I’m sure there’s thousands others).


The Western Air Temple

July 15, 2008

When last we left the Avatar crew, the gang had escaped to the western air temple with Zuko trailing behind to team up. This episode is all about Zuko trying to get in on the Aang team.

I’m a huge Zuko fan (I’d love Zutara, but creators have said it ain’t happening *sob*), so for me this is some great Zuko play time. In this episode we get to see a little more light side of Zuko–which is awkward and wonderful at the same time. The impressions scene is probably by far my favorite of the episode, as it’s a nice contrast to the usual angst-ridden Zuko we’ve known most of the show.

Mostly for me this episode was a big “FINALLY!” Now for those who don’t know, a lot of the episodes airing Nick this week are both already on the Net and on DVD. So if you can’t wait for more Avatar eps, you can check out Anime4Fans and follow the links up to the 15th episode this season. Unfortunately 16 and above are not really available (there are clips, but meh) until they air on Nick. (The others are available because they aired internationally before here, but now the US is taking the lead on Avatar eps).

Personally, I would recommend limiting yourself to Nick’s schedule (if you haven’t seen all available episodes yet) and go with one a night–if u’ve got cable. It’ll manage the need better.

This isn’t my favorite episode of season 3, but it definitely contains some choice Zuko moments. I’m just glad we’ve finally arrived at the end of the series (aka no more 6 month hiatuses). Sadly, the series will be finished after the “movies” on Saturday, but I think we can all agree it was definitely well worth the trip.


Hello, Zuko here! But I guess you probably already know me… Sort of. Uh, so! The thing is, I have a lot of firebending experience and I’m considered to be pretty good at it! Well, you’ve seen me. You know, when I was attacking you… Uh, yeah, I guess I should apologize for that… But anyway, I’m good now! I mean, I thought I was good before, but now I realize I was bad, uh, but anyway… I think it’s time I joined your group, and taught the Avatar firebending.

Tonight look forward to “The Firebending Masters” on Nickelodeon. The episode is mostly just Aang and Zuko (which provides us with a nice character dynamic) but a couple fun Sokka quips will make it in. 😉


Gotham Knight-tastic!

July 9, 2008

I watched it. I’ve heard mixed reviews, a lot of people saying they didn’t like it, some that the visuals were great, etc., etc. Well, I liked it.

Gotham Knight, contrary to marketing belief, is not really any kind of Animatrix in the sense that the stories connect us from Batman Begins to The Dark Knight. So remove any preconceived notions about that before viewing. The DVD has more to do with Batman himself than the upcoming film. I think the false expectation of it being related to the Christopher Nolan movies is its release date and the fact that the Scarecrow is in it.

Think additional Batman: The Animated Series episodes with some spectacular Japanese animation styling, and you’ll likely find the short films more enjoyable.

The DVD contains six short films, some of them interweaving into the next, some not, but a worthwhile watch. Let’s run through them.


Have I Got A Story For You
And have I got an option for you: skip to the next story. What? Really? The take on the first mini-movie is all these kids telling their different versions of encounters with The Bat. It is kind of interesting, but likely what has put a lot of people off watching the rest of the DVD. Skip it–you can come back to it if you like. The styles are interesting and definitely some great animation, but the story is just so-so. It’s the weakest link, and probably shouldn’t have been first (though it probably doesn’t fit anywhere else). The other problem is the idea has been done–repeatedly–and done better in Batman:TAS.

Batman skeptic becomes believer in this tale of two detectives working under Gordon. The animation is a marked contrast to the first and reminiscent of TAS days. The story is so-so as we’re still not really into Batman perspective territory here. It’s good, just not the best on the disc.

Field Test
Definitely the most anime style take on Batman, with a very young-looking Bruce testing out new technology. I love Kevin Conroy and he’ll always be Batman to me, but for this piece his voice seemed out of place and didn’t match the youngish look of Bruce. I think they might have been better off getting a younger voice for this one piece and leaving Kevin for the rest. The story is what does it for me, as although Batman is the “Dark” Knight, I liked seeing the contrast in his value of human life–even criminal life.

In Darkness Dwells
Probably my favorite stylistically. Batman takes on Killer Croc and the Scarecrow with some of the best visuals of the DVD and really where the DVD starts to pick up its pace. It also sets us up for the next piece (and my favorite story-wise).

Working Through the Pain
We join a younger Bruce Wayne, mostly in pre-Batman form where he learned to deal with pain. I particularly liked this story because it shows some of the real difficulties in being Batman. Although we list him as a superhero, he is the most vulnerable (which probably also contributes to his popularity because of his accessibility). He may have technology to help protect him, but the fact is his work would still scare most of us away from trying it ourselves with out red cape invincibility.

Probably the best action-wise, and likely a favorite for most. The visuals are stunning (well, they have been for most of the DVD, but this one seems more so) and once again shows us Batman’s strength lies in his determination to keep moving. Deadshot works as a 5-minute villain and especially as a contrast to Batman, as when Deadshot is wounded he loses all his supervillain prowess, but when Batman is wounded he shows his strength to overcome.


Batman Fans: If you’re in love with the Batman world anyways, this will be a nice contribution to your collection. The animation is great, the shaping of Batman works toward truly making him The Dark Knight. The stories show us the difficulty in being Batman, which probably is intended to contribute to the upcoming movie and the difficulty Batman faces in facing the worst villain he ever faces. I kind of look at Gotham Knight as a prep course for true enjoyment and understanding of Batman in The Dark Knight.

Parents: If you’re purchasing this for anyone less than teen-aged, you may want to rent it first. It is very much violent, with plenty of disturbing images. Basically, I’d say at least 10 and up to enjoy the DVD.

Average DVD buyer: You’ll probably want to skip out on picking up this DVD. It WON’T have anything about the Joker in it, and it’s only related to the upcoming in the sense that it’s Batman.

2-Disc vs. Single: The recommendation is to get the 2-Disc edition. The extras include documentaries about the Batman rogues, Bob Kane (the creator of Batman), and some bonus Batman:TAS episodes to give you your money’s worth. If you’re going to go Single Disc (which includes just commentary and the films), just rent it.

Rating: B+


Countdown to the Comet!!

July 1, 2008

You may be wondering why everyone is hesitant to officially say Avatar will be on July 14th with 100% confidence. The problem is, Nick has basically screwed us over before. So I’m going to say with 90% confidence, July 14th is the day (and technically just the first day). After reading this article, I’m going to state right now with 100% confidence, it will be July 14-19th to finish off the series. So set your DVR, put it in your calendar, do whatever you gotta do! has been holding the “Countdown to the Comet” where you can vote on favorite episodes, weapons, etc., with new categories each week (with really only 2 weeks to go). Check it out and vote, if for nothing but the sake of showing the Nick execs we want our Avatar.

In celebration of Avatar eps and to add to the “Countdown to the Comet” I’m going to post Avatar CosPlay pics from Comic-Con 2007 and probably some fan art nearly daily (I’m no good on weekends) until July 14th. I encourage you to leave links to your own collection of Avatar pics and art.

So, look forward to Avatar week, July 14-19th. And use this page to send your pics and to look for all pics Avatar.


*Don’t Let ‘Speed’ Pass you by!

June 26, 2008

I’m a big Speed Racer fan. I watched the cartoon religiously, bought posters, made a Mach 5 pinewood derby car (see Dee Animated‘s header if you have doubts)–I love it.

So when I heard the Wachowski brothers were taking on making a live-action Speed Racer, I was both excited and nervous. I loved the original Matrix and I knew they could take good care of comic book/anime style material, but Matrix 2 & 3… let’s be honest, they weren’t all that awesome.

So the day came and I went to my local IMAX (I mean, if I found I only wanted to see it once, might as well do it right) with worried expectations. The movie seemed a bit slow for the first half and pretty exciting for the second half, but all in all, worth the time and money. I was thinking, yeah, I guess maybe I’ll give this a B.

For me, I really have to let a movie kind of wash over me, like listening to a new CD. I need to feel it out a little. I felt out this new Speed Racer, and after giving it some more thought I realized there was a lot more going on that I had let my pre-conceived judgment get in the way of.

In other words, the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I did enjoy the movie.

Then Indiana Jones 4 comes out. How is this related? Well, I saw it on Thursday and family came into town over the weekend and wanted to go to a movie while in town on Saturday. (Thank Buddah Indy Jones 4 was sold out! Don’t get me wrong, but twice in the same weekend….) I suggested/convinced them to go to Speed Racer, thinking of all the movies out it was one I could do again.

The second time was definitely the charm.

Frankly, I am a little surprised it still hasn’t been recognized as the phenomenal film it is–at least by the fans–but perhaps they went in too judgmental like I did. So, I give you my review, a comparison of the old series vs. the new movie, pros and cons, music, and what to watch for if you’re seeing it for the first time or giving it a second chance (it’ll be longish, so grab yourself a snack and let’s roll):

The Original SPEED RACER:

First of all, I think we should all tip our hats to Peter Fernandez, the brains of the US side of Speed Racer. For those who knew nothing going into the movie, Speed Racer is the American version of a Japanese anime called Maha Go Go Go! Peter had previously done work on Astro Boy and signed up for the chance to work on Speed Racer. (See Planet Comic Book Radio for an interview recently done with Peter Fernandez. He talks about the show as well as the new movie)

The elements of a typical Speed Racer show include Speed doing impossible sorts of stunts with his car, all the while Spritle and Chim Chim are in the back, and usually fighting crime at the same time as winning a race. Throw in Racer X, some oddly named bad guys (Dr. Morebucks) and you’ve got it made.

How does the film compare? We saw Speed doing some impossible sorts of stunts, fighting crime, Racer X, etc. So aside from the quick dialogue traditional to an old Speed episode, I’d say the film stayed pretty true to the original anime.

Now there were some modernizing modifications, but I don’t see the big deal any Speed Racer fan would have with them. Speed Racer was made in the ’60s. Some of the ’60s stuff just isn’t going to work anymore. The new tracks I thought were an excellent touch in lending to the Speed Racer style of racing. And I think the production design is something Tatsuo Yoshida might have done himself if the manga had it been written in the present day.

Emile Hirsch plays Speed Racer, and I thought a great cast as far as looks go. One of my cons for the films is this Speed doesn’t seem to have as much depth to him as the original series’ Speed. It may have been Hirsch’s acting, but he frankly doesn’t have that many lines when I thought about it, and I think only a sequel would really make that call clear. But I thought for sitting a car that isn’t really “moving” so to speak (green screen), he did a very good job making me believe he was “driving” that car.

John Goodman plays Pops Racer, and I thought his casting was spot on. He was everything I imagined a live action Pops Racer would be, and I think he brought more depth to the Pops character. I doubt the Academy would hand out many Oscars to the Speed Racer movie, but John, you’ve got my vote for at least a nomination as best supporting actor.

Christina Ricci plays Trixie, Speed’s girlfriend, also a good cast. Trixie in the original series was pretty “girl power” for the time, and Ricci took it to a modern level for Trixie. However, overall her performance was nothing revolutionary by any means. I think you could some it up with lots of alluring kind of smirks and seductive talking. Don’t get me wrong, I think she did well enough with the role, and maybe that’s just the way she was directed, but I would have liked to have seen just a little more.

Susan Sarandon plays Mom Racer. I’m not really a Sarandon fan, but I appreciated having her in this role, because I think she helped bring the Racer family together in the movie. She’s barely present in the old series (not super surprising with Japanese culture) and I liked her inclusion in the movie.

Paulie Litt plays Spritle, and they may well have named it Spritle Racer, cuz this kid stole the show. Although I never imagined Spritle as a freckled-face, practically red head, he is the quintessential younger brother. He and Chim Chim provided fantastic comic relief and probably one of my favorite scenes of the movie is when him and Chim Chim are battling in Japanese anime style. I hope to see Litt soon in the future.

The rest of the cast was well chosen too. I loved Royalton (kept thinking, is this Tim Curry’s brother?), thought the newish version of Inspector Detector was great, Sparky was also spot on, the bad guys were great, and I love all things Japanese, so Rain was a welcome guest as Taejo Togokahn.

On casting, I think it’s only fair to rate this movie A+

We have Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles, Lost) to thank for a spectacular score. Something I always dislike is when the composer will just completely throw away any already established themes for the movie version of the show/video game, etc. Giacchino took the themes and ran with them.

I Am Speed” which plays right at the beginning is probably my favorite from the CD. Of course I’m thinking of all the color swirling as I’m listening to it, but from a musical standpoint, it’s telling us that we do in fact have a Speed Racer movie and it’s going to be big.

Racing’s In Our Blood” does a great job to heighten the emotion on the great scene where Speed and his father are watching the old Grand Prix race, by taking the original theme and slowing it down and turning it into a beautiful score.

And then of course we have parts of the original theme as well as hints through out all of the rest of the soundtrack, with the remaining score always playing back to the same style. The end theme song is by Ali Dee and the Deekompressors and I tend to favor the movie version over the remix single. I like that they’re trying to incorporate multiple languages and the original theme, as though the Wachowski’s wanted to tip off their hats one more time in homage to Speed.

Original Score: A
Pop Remix Theme: B+

The editing was revolutionary, and though likely unnoticed by most, reminded me of the same visual pleasure I got from seeing 24 the first time. It’s a little more complex than it looks, and truly a subtle homage to Japanese anime. I loved the composite of one image over another, it made me believe I was watching live action manga in all its full blown glory.

The production design was reminiscent of Tim Burton (no not the creepy side, the bright color side–he’s got two sides). I didn’t mind the Mach 6 design, as Speed in the original series had a couple extra versions of the Mach 5 he’d use on occasion.

This movie is full of little Speed Racer references and other fun things to tantalize fans. We got to see the majority of the characters in their cartoon version outfits–something not often done when transferred to the big screen. Speed jumps out of his car in the end in full blown Speed Racer pose. I loved Chim Chim wearing human pajamas and Spritle wearing monkey pajamas. Peter Fernandez appears as one of the announcers. The car jack sound effect was the same as the original–basically I found the movie to be a huge homage to the original show. I can’t understand the reviews I’ve seen that say otherwise.

On first view I thought the story was a bit slow in going, but upon more thought I realized it was all just playing into the end and bringing us along to understand the journey of the Racer family. Perhaps it’s just cuz I come from a rare breed of the nuclear family, but I loved seeing a movie where the family stuck together and relied on each other–even if some members did it more distantly. The race truly did become “a work of art” as Mom told Speed, because it was the warmth and art of the people who built the car that triumphed vs. the coldness and machinery or anonymity of the corporate rival.

So Moms and Mormons, this is a movie for you.

To be completely honest, I don’t think they could have chosen any better directors than the avid fans themselves. Worry as I might about Morpheus leaping out of the sky and telling Speed he is “the one,” (LOL) they did a great job with this piece. They picked a great crew which we owe for the awesome use of colors, production design, costuming, camera angles–the list could go on forever.

They said they weren’t finished with Speed yet and have hinted at a sequel, and as far as I’m concerned, I’ll be there opening weekend.

IN CONCLUSION: Seeing it twice did nothing but make me want to own it on DVD now. *sigh* I hate waiting. I went and picked up the manga and video game and I’ll let you know what I think once I’ve given them ample play time.

Go see this movie! Whether by DVD, regular theater, dollar theater, Netflix–go see it!

Overall Rating: A
Buy it on DVD? Definitely.