Archive for the ‘foreign’ Category

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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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Ponyo Trailer Actual

July 22, 2008

Here’s the real deal, unfortunately no translations that I could find for this specific trailer. However, if you love the theme song and feel like doing a bit of karaoke, sing along with the Ponyo Theme. Enjoy!

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Ghibli and Sky Crawlers **UPDATE**

June 24, 2008


I love Hayao Miyazaki and I’m definitely in great anticipation of Ponyo on the Cliff. Trouble is, haven’t been able to find any trailers around the net. I will keep looking and as of June 20th one was released in Japanese theaters. Hopefully we’ll get a post soon–since the movie comes out next month. If you know nothing about Ponyo, the initial designs made it seems to be more of a water color style, but this news footage (a sort of trailer) reveals it’s more like the standard Ghibli animation.

Ghibli is also doing something with Cheburashka, a famed Russian stop motion animation character. My Japanese kanji reading skills ain’t so great, so anyone who’s got the skill let us know what they’re up to. You can also catch clips of Cheburashka (I think once called Toppy in US) on youtube.

And finally, something else I’m eager to see is Sky Crawlers. Since I’ve yet to watch a trailer with English subs, it’s basically some fantastic Japanese animation with airplanes. For me it was reminiscent of Last Exile. They’re also putting a game out on the Wii, and if they do it right, I’m sure it’ll be great. Either way, I’m sure it will be an interesting summer for Japanese animation.

And if you’re in Japan, I’d highly highly recommend getting out to the upcoming Joe Hisaishi concerts on Aug 4-5. For me he’s a grand part of the Studio Ghibli magic and if I were in Japan I’d be there in a heartbeat. I think Howl’s Moving Castle is among my favorites from Hisaishi, as well as a non-Ghibli score for Kikujiro–a movie I highly recommend. (BTW, Miyazaki drew the promo poster. Fun, huh? 🙂 )

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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.

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Upcoming… MahaGoGoGo!

June 16, 2008

With the release of Speed Racer the movie, I thought I’d give the old animated series a good rewatch. I plan to review both the movie (which I did love) and the series, kind of doing a comparison of both. So look for that, coming soon.

I’m about halfway through the animated series now (which is 52 episodes in total and also which Amazon.com has had on sale recently if you were thinking about picking it up). So far it’s been a fantastic experience and the DVDs have fun little extras.

I’m plowing through it as fast as I can, I promise. I’ve just got Ah! My Goddess Season 2 from Netflix I’m working on as well as Farscape from the city library. 😉 Yep, media addict here.

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*Believe It: “Naruto” will surprise you

June 5, 2008

So you’ve seen a spiky-haired orange jumpsuit kid running around lately, and you’re wondering: is this really worthwhile anime?

narutoI was first introduced to Naruto (pronounced NAH-ROO-TOE, with accentuation being on the “NAH” part if we’re sticking to Japanese and not the “ROO,” which you’ll find a lot of English speakers doing) at Comic-Con, seeing the costumes around and some manga and art. So I ordered the first disc up from Netflix and gave it a go. I have to admit, Naruto is obnoxious to a fault, but something about the series intrigued me, so I made it through the first four episodes and was hungry for more. (At the time, 1 disc was all that was available from Netflix).

I started the show with the English dub, which wasn’t too terrible for the first four episodes, but I find “dattebayo” to be less annoying than “believe it.” Besides, I find you lose a lot with dubs, so I’m a firm believer in subs first. (Yes, reading. Get over it!)

(Dattebayo, by the way, doesn’t actually mean believe it, but upon inquiring of a few Japanese friends, the translation works. Naruto is looking for a way to show everyone he’s “cool” and is basically using a catch phrase way of speaking to show them all that. Whether or not it works…. *grin*)

From a character arc perspective, Naruto is very well written, especially if you’ve come all the way to Shippuuden and gone back. Sure, he starts out as an annoying kid, but that’s what he is and as he gains confidence in himself, he sheds annoying layers one by one.

Basically, stick with it. Naruto will grow on you.

But if you’re like me, and a bit impatient with story arcs and “filler” episodes watching it all at once may drive you nuts. So I’m here to give you some recommendations to do a little editing, or at least let you know how long you’ve got until a particular arc ends.

naruto2

The ARCS: (see http://www.narutofob.com/naruto-episodes.html as a source)
Episodes 1-5 Basically an introduction to Naruto and key players in his story.

Episodes 6-19 The first major story arc. Naruto and friends are out to show off their abilities, and we get to know a little more about the 3 (Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura).

Episodes 20-67 The Chunnin exams: which is a three part and where more of the larger plot begins to be revealed. I think this is where I first became annoyed with pacing of episodes. Basically every character and their dog (literally) are going to have a one on one match a couple of times. If you like watching all the different characters go at it, you’ll be fine. If you’re like me, you’ll find the 1 1/2 speed button on your DVD player.

We also get more of an idea of a larger plot arc coming up which basically kicks off in Episode 68.

Episodes 68-80 Trouble in Konoha: the real villains come out to play and reak havok. The show takes on a different sort of persona after this when we say farewell to a major character. I was a little put out, but there’s enough going on to pull you through.

Episodes 80-109 Itachi, Tsunade, and more. Here we get the set-up for the rest of the series leading up into Shippuuden. Villains and training, villains and training. One thing you have to know about Naruto is you’re going to be in for a lot of training episodes. Get used to it, because from here on out you can count on seeing it often.

Episodes 110-135 Naruto and Sasuke. If you’ve been loving Naruto, this is the point in the series you’ve been waiting for. I’m trying to be more general not to post spoilers, but for me this was the best part of the series. Note at this point, however, an arc you’re going to want to see finish won’t happen until the end of Shippuuden. My whole point in making this post was for people like me who might have taken it easier and slower with Naruto if I’d known it’d be several eps down the line before seeing a plot arc finish.

136-220 The much dreaded “filler” episodes. (NOTE: If you don’t know what a “filler” episode is: episodes that have little or no relation to the “actual” story but involve the characters, though often not the main characters. Some describe it as the Japanese writer’s attempts to do their own episodes, which doesn’t always work out ;)). So now you’re hooked hopelessly on Naruto and you’re dying for new eps, well, welcome to about 100 tangent episodes. A lot of these, unless you’re kind of a Naruto purist, are a waste of your time.

My recommendation for filler eps

HIDDEN STAR VILLAGE: 178-183 Naruto and co. heads out to the Star Village with shinobi who have unique powers from a dangerous source. I guess I like this one for the character traits we see from Naruto.

KURENAI: 203-207 Shinobi girl has mysterious painting power. The third hokage’s past is further delved into and I just really liked the idea. I think it kind of foreshadows Shippuuden.

gaaraGAARA AND MATSURI: 216-219 Gaara is drawn out to rescue a student. I love Naruto, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of the reason I watch the show is for Gaara. He’s my favorite character, and I’m still unsure as to why–at least completely. If you’re a Gaara fan, whether small or large, this filler story is worthwhile.

And 220! Why? Because it’s the end of the show. And then you’ll be all ready for Naruto Shippuuden which is far better than Naruto.

Why bother watching Naruto in the first place? Why not just skip to the better series? Well, if you want Shippuuden to mean anything to you and to understand why Naruto is as passionate about his friendships as he is, then use my guide and get through Naruto. It’s all worth it for Shippuuden.

And finally, questions you’re likely to have (without spoilers):

1. Is Sakura always going to be useless? No, she gets tough. By Shippuuden you’ll hardly believe the bad @$$ mamba jamba was ever as weak and useless as she was in the first episodes.

2. Who is Naruto’s father? Well, you can look it up online if you’re that impatient, but it’ll come in Shippuuden.

3. Are filler episodes done in Shippuuden? (-_-) Well… if you don’t count, let’s take a look at Naruto and how we used to be, then sort of.

4. Why is the Japanese version better? Is that a rhetorical question?

5. I’m cheap and I want to watch Naruto 100% for free. Where can I do that? dattebayo.com subs Naruto, but since it’s licensed in the U.S. the Naruto eps might be off the site. They still do Shippuuden. Anime4Fans, one of my links can also show you the way. And if you’re not too cheap and prefer better quality, Netflix will send you some (it is available as of September 23, 2008).

I’ll probably do a comprehensive Shippuuden when it finishes.