Archive for the ‘DVD’ Category

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*Naruto Back on Netflix

September 23, 2008

I know this has been a major concern of those who’ve been wanting to watch Naruto and use their favorite movie rental program to do it.

Well, good news.

Naruto is back on Netflix with 32 discs available to rent.  If they’re sticking to 4 episodes a disc, then up to episode 128 is available.  I think these are still the English only dubs (Japanese is always better) but when comparing both there could be a worse dub as far as voices go.  I think the only problem with this dub is some lines which work all right in Japanese sound pretty much stupid in English.

So if the show is putting you off in English, get on the net and find yourself a Japanese version and see if that isn’t vast improvement for you.  If you like the show in English, Netflix can accomodate.  Hooray to having Naruto back, nonetheless!

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*Dilbert The Animated Series: Dull and Disappointing

August 18, 2008

I’ve had this series buried somewhere in the Netflix queue (it’s a problem for folks like me who find the 500 DVDs in your queue limit annoying) and when it appeared on the instaview list, I gave it a look. Now, let it be known that I LOVE the Dilbert comic strip. It’s probably the first one I look for in the “funnies,” and too realistic at times. 😉

I’m an avid fan of The Office and Office Space so you’d think I’d be all over this series. Well, I watched the first episode of the season… It was, well, forgettable. Still, I’m willing to give shows a fair chance. I looked over the episode descriptions and picked another that sounded amusing, still a C- at best.

The voice acting is spot on for the pointy-haired boss–at least I found it believable–Dogbert as well, but everyone else just seemed moderate. The writing was also just moderate (meaning not puke-faced terrible, but not great either). Larry Charles of Seinfeld fame was the head writer, so you’d think he’d have comedy down, but perhaps it was the direction or voice acting that dragged the series down.

There are, of course, Dilbert otakus who love the show and perhaps you’ll be one of them. But if you’re more like me, a when-I-see-a-newspaper, etc. reader, you’ll probably want to pass. For the most part, the funny comes from more bathroom and sexual humor than actual wit or clever writing. A couple of things were amusing, but this show doesn’t even hold a match stick let alone a spark to Family Guy, Simpsons, Futurama, or King of the Hill. Let’s just stick to the comic strip.

Comic Strip: A+
Series: C-

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*Death Note does Anti-Hero right

August 12, 2008

Mac of Visual Crack was the first to introduce me to Death Note, but really only in manga form. I read the first volume in English and decided the anime series was worth a look. Netflix sent me the first disc and I was hooked.

Death Note is the story of a kid stumbling upon a strange Death Note (as the Japanese word for notebook is noto or “note” basically. So when you hear the word “note” just substitute “notebook” in your mind). The notebook has the power to kill simply by writing the name of the victim in the book while picturing him/her. Believing the world is too corrupt, the kid takes it upon himself to rid the world of criminals–and anyone who gets in his way.

THE CHARACTERS:

Light Yagami
A 17 yr old, attractive, things come to me too easily, high school student who soon goes to college to study law and basically become a cop like his father. He stumbles upon the Death Note and becomes the owner and the anti-hero protagonist of the story. He is also referred to as “Kira” (a japanese version of the word killer) by the police.

L
A world famous detective no one has ever seen before the “Kira” case. L is odd, smart, and a sweet-aholic. (And no, he isn’t sucking his thumb, he’s pressing it against his bottom lip, a habit when he’s thinking hard). L’s my favorite character of the series. I think the chibi version of him in plushies and what not are chou kawaii!

Shinigami: Ryuk and Rem
A shinigami is like a grim reaper, literally translated as “death god.” I’ve also seen it translated as “soul reaper” (see Bleach). In the series they are the owners of the death notes, and Ryuk in particular likes leaving them lying around for unsuspecting humans to pick up. Ryuk probably comes second in my favorite character of the series. I like his “whatevs” attitude.

Misa Amane
Hey, what’s anime without an annoying character? Very much typical teenage Japanese girl–well, that and a pop star–Misa has a super mega crush on Light and wants to help him in anyway she can. One of those self-sacrificing girls, but in a pathetic way. She’s probably my least favorite, but she makes for some interesting moments between the three of them (L, Light and Misa).

Mello, Near, etc.
There are quite a few other players that impact the story significantly, mostly being Mello and Near, but also Light’s dad and members of the police team to catch Kira. I can’t say I really cared for Mello or Near, though Near I like more, since he’s kind of like a little brother version of L. (If you think an L obsession is weird, watch the series and tell me if you feel differently! I dare you!)

ANIME SERIES & EPISODE GUIDE:

Well, this is really more of a warning. It’s interesting how like the villain the movie Seven, you almost find yourself agreeing with Light. It’s also kind of disorienting to have the main character really be the bad guy in a sense (I’m trying not to spoil too much here).

Since the show isn’t hardly as long as Naruto, nor Bleach, this guide will be short. Without posting spoilers, once again, you should know you’ll likely be addicted to the show like crack until about episode 25. Some major plot changes are implemented, and in my opinion, the anime becomes less good–at least I didn’t care. In fact, I was affected so much by the change I had zero motivation to keep going with the anime and it took me a couple of weeks to get myself to finish it off.

Episodes 26 and on (up to 37) do contain interesting plot points and are worthwhile if you’ve enjoyed the series thusfar. There is also a bittersweet ending to the series, in a Shakespearian way, so the end was worthwhile for me, but it’s ANIME, 9 times out of 10 it isn’t going to end the way you’d want. 😉

So is it worth it? Yes. You’ll love it, well, if anime is your thing.

Anime series: A

LIVE-ACTION MOVIES:

Sometimes you wonder how a live-action movie will translate from manga, but if it works for Nodame Cantabile it’s gotta work for others, right? (*wink*) In this case I think it added to the Death Note universe. A warning to the animation fans… They will deviate from the manga and the series, but I think a lot of the deviations work.

Ryuk and Light argue over the philosophical issues of the Death Note. ;)

Ryuk and Light argue over the philosophical issues of the Death Note.

When we join Light in the first movie he’s already discovered the Death Note and is off-handedly discussing it with his girlfriend (aka he’s talking about Kira and his opinion of Kira without actually connecting the dots). And yeah, GIRLFRIEND. For the movies (since let’s be honest with ourselves. There is no, no, no, no way you can put EVERYTHING everybody wants, let alone yourself into a two-hour movie, especially with a series with enough material to make 37 episodes. 1/2 hr x 37 = 18.5 hours of material which equals at least 9 movies worth of time. Keep this in mind when you’re hating on Harry Potters or Twilight or other book adaptations.) …as I was saying, for the movies, his having a girlfriend worked. There just wasn’t enough time to develop the characters as well as the series did, even with two, and the girlfriend factor helped Light arc quickly.

L reveals he's the real brains behind the Truman Show.

L reveals he's the real brains behind the Truman Show.

But don’t get the movies wrong, for the most part they stick to the plot. My only qualm with the movies was the seemingly lack of time spent on developing L and a non-existent friendship between L and Light we got to see in the series. (I’m an L fan, ya know). However, the actor who plays L (Ken’ichi Matsuyama) I thought did a fabulous job. He had a lot of the mannerisms down and I thought was a little more interesting than Light.

The actor who played Light (Tatsuya Fujiwara), did a good job, but there was just something lacking. I think I prefer the voice acting job (Miyano Mamoru) did as opposed to Tatsuya’s performance, but it works for the movie.

L refuses the DoCoMo promotion.

L refuses the DoCoMo promotion.

I prefer the ending of the story in the movies to the anime series, simply because I kept expecting something like what happened in the movies to happen in the anime series. But if we’re talking overall Death Note, then I’d like a mix of the movies and the series. It’s interesting the trend even Hollywood is taking to making anime into live-action. (I just am opposed to Keanu playing Spike Spiegel is all).

Obviously it works, since Death Note was wildly successful in Japan ($28 mil for the first movie $53 mil for the second–tix sales) and will make some good money for Viz here.

Movie: A- (mostly for lack of development for L)

HOW TO SEE DEATH NOTE:

The anime series you can catch it in English (*puke*) on Adult Swim (Cartoon Network for the uniformed) in the early morning hours. It’s posted on the net with good fansubs. Or you can do it the Netflix way (which is the way I started) with your choice of English or subs–they have 6 discs available. I did Netflix + the internet.

The movies they recently screened at select theaters back in May across America, and you’ll be able to pick up the first movie on September 16th at Amazon or the like. I got both on ebay, Hong Kong versions. I’ve heard the dub is no good, so stick with subs.

There’s also a new spin-off movie called L: Change the World which came out in February which I have yet to see, but if it’s got L I’m all about it. Once I see it I’ll let you know.

MANGA:

I think the full series is available in English. It’s good, but yeah, it’s basically the book version of the anime. Still, I’ve been reading it in my spare time and find it worthwhile.

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Comic-Con 2008 upcoming

July 28, 2008

You’ve got to love the sore feet, sore shoulders and sleepy feeling of a good ol’ fashioned Comic-Con weekend. It was a blast and it wasn’t at the same time. To be quite honest, now that it’s become trendy to go to the Con, the crowding has become super annoying.

I’m not one to care about whether or not something is trendy, no, what I mean to say is that because it’s trendy it’s crowded and that makes it less enjoyable. How so? Well, picture trying to get in for the Heroes forum and realizing that not only did coming an hour and a half early to get in line availed you nothing, but in looking for the end of the line you realized you’ve done a lap around the building–THE ENTIRE OUTSIDE OF THE SAN DIEGO CONVENTION CENTER.

Still, despite that annoying part, it was in no way a loss going. I got lots of swag, got to go to a fair few of the forums I wanted to go to, saw upcoming previews and found new things to be interested in. (And yes, I made it in to the Avatar panel, that’ll be a story for the sharing).

I had to catch up at work for being gone so long, but I plan to have at least the first day posted for you.

And for the record, I’m seriously considering going to WonderCon instead, simply to be able to get into the forums I came out to the Con in the first place to see. Anyways, time will tell. See you soon.

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Speed Racer DVD details released

July 15, 2008

Warner Home video announced that Speed Racer will be appearing on both SD and Blu-ray formats on September 16, 2008.

As to pricing the SD is listed at $28.98 and the Blu-ray at $35.99, but Amazon.com already has sale prices listed at $18.99 SD and $24.95 Blu-ray, so however you plan to get it, it will likely be in these more sensible ranges.

I’m very excited for the release of the movie on DVD, obviously, if you checked out my Speed Racer review, but the special features are surprisingly lacking.  On both we get Spritle in the Big Leagues and a feature on the cars used in the film (how they never moved and how that worked, etc.)  On Blu-Ray we get a “Speed Racer: Race for the Crucible” game and a bonus digital copy of the film (??we care??)

In other words, no commentary.  You’d think the lack of features would drive down the price slightly, but perhaps that will happen as the date draws nearer.

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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.

THE FILMS:

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.

Crossfire
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.

Deadshot
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.

CONCLUSION:

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+

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Naruto and Netflix?

June 18, 2008

So after I posted my Naruto review, people told me Netflix has for some reason nixed carrying the Naruto series discs. I was puzzled, as not so long ago I’d started the series that way.

My guesses (as nothing is confirmed) as to why Netflix has decided on throwing away some money:

1) People are stealing the discs and claiming they’re “lost” and it’s a hassle for Netflix to replace it. (aka, they’d probably have to buy the box set to replace one disc)
2) They’re thinking about posting it Instant View.
3) Viz Media and Netflix are having issues. This one may be the more likely case. Viz recently made a deal with Amazon Unbox to make Naruto episodes available for download (at $2 a pop, mind). But as of now no one is certain as to their disappearance on the Netflix list.

SOLUTIONS:

1) You can watch the English dub (yuck) on Cartoon Network as it goes.
2) You can buy the US release DVDs. (If you have $$$).
3) Until Netflix gets its head back on straight you can try and watch it for free around the net. Anime4Fans has links to most of the episodes. If you want slightly better quality, you probably want to do a UseNet or BitTorrent search. Dattebayo has from eps 91 and up, and probably the best fansubs around (better than the DVD subs). Another option is to just buy a Hong Kong version from ebay, which can range from $17 and up, depending. I did this after 2 discs from Netflix and the DVDs I got were acceptable.

SUGGESTION:

Netflix has a suggest a movie title in their contact us section. If they keep getting emails they’re bound to at the very least release a statement as to why they’ve chucked the series, if not put it back on again. I sent in a request.

For all this trouble is Naruto still worth it? I think if you get a Hong Kong DVD or watch it from the internet, then yes. If you’re going to download via unbox or buy the series, I’d at least try out a few from the internet before investing the money. I love Naruto, but not enough to drop all the money to own it.