Category Archives: Movies

Review: Wolf’s Rain

Wolf's_Rain_Region_2_Volume_1There is a trend I have found in the animations I watch, ranging from really happy to upsettingly tragic. Now if you don’t know Wolf’s Rain you should know that it falls on the latter. It’s one of the most upsetting things I have ever watched and continues to make me cry every time I watch it. And because of that I know it holds up very well to this day.

The storyline goes that humanity is on the edge, society barely holding on, and four wolves are looking for Paradise. Basically wolves have been considered extinct for years but in actuality it really hypothesized that they are able to shape shift and take on a human form. Or rather they are able to trick the human eye, but who knows? Anyway because of this wolves have been able to survive despite everything. But there is this compulsion on the wolves to find a place called Paradise, which many packs have died trying to find, and our four are willing to chance it all. So there’s also a flower maiden, a bad guy, and humans who are involved by mere coincidence. Also there are a lot of ideas and undertones that may be hard to catch during a first watch, like how in the show it may be possible that humans evolved from wolves rather than apes. But let’s get onto characters for now.

Kiba is our lead, an artic wolf, who is the most driven to find Paradise, so much so that he may be hindered by it. He’s difficult and moody, but also is compelled by the idea of fate and wolves. Pride is a major downfall for him, as he was almost too prideful that he wouldn’t change his form to survive, as it was giving up his pride as a wolf.

Tsume is our hot headed wolf, a grey wolf, who could really care less about the whole idea of Paradise. Honestly he just feels saddled with the others, even though he really cares very deeply for his friends. Somehow he always found himself in a pack, filled with wolves or humans, even though he feels like he could do it all alone.

Toboe is our young naïve wolf, a red wolf, who was raised by a human woman as a pet. He is extremely naïve to the cruelty of humans and doesn’t understand why they’re being hunted as he was shown nothing but love and warmth from his ‘grandmother.’ He really relies upon Tsume, despite the other’s rude words, and wants to find Paradise.

Hige is our carefree wolf, a Mexican Wolf, who’s always been okay with living a dual life. Well that is until he meets Kiba. He is a pig and talks about food a lot, yeah, he’s that character. But there is a twist in his character that I will leave out for spoiler’s sake. There’s a lot more going on, but we don’t learn that for a while.

Cheza is the Flower Maiden, a being created via alchemy, and is basically viewed as a possible way to get into Paradise. She loves the wolves, like a lot, they’re her family, and she is pained badly when they’re hurt.

There are a whole slew of others, but really we’re focused on those main five, who we start off with and end with. But each character is unique with clean animation. Created by Keiko Nobumoto and the characters were designed by Toshihiro Kawamoto While it does have a certain age feel about it that doesn’t hurt a lot, as like Cowboy Bebop or Trigun it holds up still to this day. It’s one of few that I haven’t cringed watching, I mean there are times, but it’s isn’t like watching xxxHolic. The only complain I have is that the colors aren’t as vibrant as I wish they could be, but hey that could just be a style choice. Also sometimes the eyes look weird, but like I said style choice. Also, there are really splendid animation scenes and unfortunately it always at a death scene. I suppose if you’re going to save your animation budget you might as well save it for the scenes that will rip your viewer’s hearts apart. That’s also where the colors really stand out, with the blood against the pure white snow, and it works perfectly. A lot of it comes down to it being unique in designs that I’ve never seen put together before, an ice age-esque world where almost everything is extinct, and it shows in its style and clean lines. Even choices down to what a character is wearing, like the wolves in their human forms, fits the characters perfectly. I can’t imagine a version of Hige that doesn’t wear a baggy sweatshirt or a version of Kiba without his stupid grunge look. And like it’s unique look it’s sounds is insanely different.

Now the sound is actually strange, the opening and ending are both English, even in the original Japanese. The opening, Stray, is a rock song, and it is awesome. High paced and sort of just fits that wolf tone of the show. Gravity, the ending theme, is slower, and shows the sadder side to the show. It’s not unpleasant actually and it fits the already weird style of the show. The English cast is actually very good for its time, though I have never been a fan of a female voice actress trying to do a male character voice, and that’s just a personal thing. Though really Crispin Freeman being in the show really shows the higher quality expected. I’ve never watched the original so I have no idea how to feel about the Japanese cast, but ultimately I’m very attached to English production. Also the sounds for the wolves were perfect, from growls to bites; it’s intense to listen to. It has a crisp sound that you don’t hear often in anime, at least not anymore, and it’s so perfect. So I fall towards the preference of the dub and that’s merely because I’ve only watched that version.

The only grip I have is that there is that episode 15 through 18 are recaps of what we’ve already seen. It’s completely unnecessary and does nothing but annoy the viewer the same way Endless Eight of the Haruhi Suzumiya series did. It pointless and you can honestly just skip over those episodes.

This anime is one of my favorites and continues to wreck me every time I watch it. While it’s on the mature side, definitely for a slightly older audience, it’s unique and continues to hold up to my expectations. It’s remains to be a bit clearer whenever I sit down and watch, while still being covered in hidden messages.

Wolf’s Rain: 8.5/10

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Movie Review: Batman: Assault on Arkham

Batman-Assault-on-ArkhamBatman, one of the world’s most valiant super heroes, faces a villainous squad of criminals in an epic battle of good vs. evil in the DC Universe Original Movie, Batman: Assault on Arkham. Set in the world of the best-selling Batman: Arkham video game series, this action-packed film takes place between the Batman: Arkham Origins and Batman: Arkham Asylum video games.

Gotham is in great danger when the government assembles a group of villains — code named the Suicide Squad — and forces them to break into Arkham Asylum to retrieve top secret information stolen by the Riddler. Things take a turn for the worse when one of the Squad members (Harley Quinn) frees the Joker, who is intent on blowing up Arkham Asylum and Gotham City. Batman must use his super hero wits and strength to thwart the wicked plans of the Joker and the Suicide Squad.

Batman: Assault on Arkham is interesting in that a good chunk of the movie doesn’t have Batman! The focus is really the Suicide Squad, and when they’re on screen the film sores in awesome. After the first five or ten minutes you’re sucked in, especially as each member is introduced. This is what I’d hope to see in DC’s live action films.

The characters are spot on, exactly as I’d expect them to be, with voice casting and acting that fits it all very well. The only negative thing is things sort of spiral in the film with more and more being piled on as far as characters and the chaos they deal with. It’s still a hell of a lot of fun.

Kevin Conroy voices Batman, and joins forces with several Hollywood greats to bring the legendary characters to life. Adding to the celebrity-laden cast is Neal McDonough as Deadshot, Troy Baker as Joker, Matthew Gray Gubler as Riddler, CCH Pounder as Amanda Waller, Greg Ellis as Captain Boomerang, and Giancarlo Esposito as Black Spider.

Batman: Assault on Arkham has tons of exciting enhanced content taking us in the strange world of Arkham Asylum, the story of Harley Quinn and what’s coming next in DC animated films.

Of all of DC’s animated films so far, this one has been my favorite, full of action, humor, and a solid grasp of the characters. I want more of this.

Direction: 8 Acting: 8.75 Plot: 8.75 Overall: 8.75

 

Review: Fruits Basket

Fruits.Basket.full.224169 Shojo anime has a bad habit of being either really well done or just… Sort of cheesy bad. Furuba (Fruits Basket) falls somewhere in-between that line and I’m not really sure if that’s good or bad. I mean I certainly enjoyed the show growing up and that hasn’t really changed since last I watched it, but I feel like I don’t enjoy it to the same extent. At the time it had a relatively refreshing plot line when it was released and I was new to the whole anime scene as well. I have fond memories of it but I also realize its faults as a story, though at the same time I’m amazed at how many tough topics it spoke on. From parent loss to child abuse it covered a lot of tentative subjects that many writers still have trouble bringing up. It also was subject to one of the better anime adaptions, though it did stray from the original manga, which was unfinished at that time.

So basic storyline our main heroine is Tohru Honda who recently lost her mother and has been residing in a tent in the woods, as to avoid inconveniencing anyone, and is soon found by two Shomas: Yuki and Shigure. She is invited to live with them if she agrees to be their housekeeper, which she accepts, though at this point she doesn’t know the curse placed upon the Shoma family. After an encounter with Kyo Shoma she finds out what that curse is. They are cursed by the Chinese Zodiac and turn into their respective zodiacs when hug by someone of the opposite gender. Note that it’s only a select 13 of the Shomas, including one for the cat from the legend. Basically it’s a story of Tohru finding her place and meeting all those affected by the curse, hoping to find friendship in all of them despite their pain. It remains to be a very endearing story about heart, love, and not giving into your own despair because someone out there cares about you.

Now for the characters: Tohru Honda is our main female lead and seen by a many few as the mary-sue, who doesn’t let her own problems get in the way of things, and always seems to say the right thing to the right person. She is our ongiri (Rice ball) and I always found her to sort of be the type of person I wished I personally was. Even with the loss of her mother she doesn’t let it get to her, well not too much anyway, and she loves with her entire heart. Though it is heavily implied she may have depression from the loss of both her parents, but not that she’d let that show. Yuki Shoma is Tohru’s classmate and roommate. He is one of the most popular boys in school, often referred to as a prince, and finds it very hard. Well it would be considering he is the rat from the Shoma curse and it’s hard to avoid females embracing you without coming off as rude. Now Yuki was always hard for me personally to like, as he was sort of standoffish, and there’s reasons for that. But anyway the more time he spends with Tohru the better and happier a person he becomes, which was something I liked as character growth. Mentally abused for years he wants to live free from the chains of the Shoma house. Kyo Shoma is the black sheep of his family, as he is the cat from the legend and curse, and therefor is seen as an abomination. He is basically mocked by his family and others, but is constantly trying to prove himself. Hot headed and a martial artist Kyo was easier for me to like because his issues were laid out bare the moment he stepped in. He had an inferiority complex and it shows in a lot of his actions, he also knows that he gets way too angry sometimes but he doesn’t always know how to stop it, and he obviously wishes to become an actual member of the zodiac despite it being impossible. He genuinely wants and needs someone to love him for who he is despite his faults. Then we have a whole slew of other characters that I can’t even begin to get into as that would take up a lot of time and probably would be extremely boring, despite the fact that I could carry on for probably hours about all the characters. So those were the far most important of the cast. So we actually meet all of the zodiac members in the manga whereas we only get almost all of them in the anime which ended far too soon in my opinion.

Anyway so it’s sort of a meet a character and help them with their problems sort of story but in the best sort of ways. It was always endearing to me and I suppose it still is. Anyhow there is that issue of there being a short anime. It had the same issues many did at the time it was made: The manga was nowhere near done. Fullmetal Alchemist, Soul Eater, and many other series I could name off the top of my head had fallen victim to this. But with the release of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood there’s hope for a new version that is pretty much faithful to the manga. Now the actual anime was never really bad… I mean it’s subpar to things now a day but still it was a good honest shojo when I was growing up.

The animation was… Not the best, but alas it was a part of its time, and was awkward. Not in an annoying sort of way more in the way that you know you’ve seen better animation. The art in then manga, drawn and written by Natsuki Takaya, started off very typical style of its given genre, and it looked to be very inspired by certain style choices seen in Sailor Moon. But over time it grew into an art of its own and much better in my opinion. It had a lot longer proportions than before, which may bother people, but hey if you can make it through xxxHolic without cringing then this manga is nothing. Honestly I enjoyed the growth of this artist, though it wasn’t quite the leap other mangaka had made, but it was great none the less. It has characters that you can distinguish from one another which is something that’s very important for artists.

I suppose next is sound, which oh… Okay so I’ve never seen the anime subbed, I grew up with the dub and just generally prefer to keep it that way. I mean it has great actors like Laura Bailey, Eric Vale, and Jerry Jewel, who all have outstanding records of roles, though this anime might not be the shining example of that. Though I do enjoy it as one of those animations that sort of helped these actors get out there, considering we now have all three of them as some of the most accomplished actors of animation… But I digress; the sound is nice and light overall, and boy does it work with the type of story it’s working with. Literally both the opening and ending are so nice and quiet that I could fall asleep to them if they were lullabies…  Though the dub did a big no-no in my book by doing a dubbed version of the opening, which has always been a bad move in my personal opinion, because then we end up with things like Sakura Kiss from Ouran… But it actually wasn’t that bad of a dubbed song; in fact it stayed pretty true to the original.

All in all this series remains good in my book and is worth a look. It has a lot of heart that many series don’t have, you feel for these characters and you want them to get those happy endings. I still enjoy this series and think it’s worth a look. “Because even the smallest of words can be the ones to hurt you, or save you.” This anime while short ended where it needed to and is sort of like Fullmetal Alchemist’s first anime ending where everything flowed well and as a story it worked.

Anime: 7
Manga: 8.5

Turtles Slice Guardians at the Box Office

turtlesDespite horrible reviews and lots of “controversy” leading up to its release, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles debuted with $65 million. That’s the fourth biggest August debut in history. That amount put it in first place for the weekend, beating out last week’s champ Guardians of the Galaxy. Guardians dropped 56% and brought in somewhere between $41.5 million. That brings the film to a two-week domestic total of $175.9 million.

TMNT has earned a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but the horrible reviews clearly didn’t deter people from coming out for it. The audience gave the film a “B” CinemaScore. Paramount also announced a sequel is set for June 3, 2016. The film’s audience was 61% male, and 55% over the age of 25. Hispanics made up 36% of the audience.

In other “comic movie news,” Brett Ratner’s Hercules, based on the Radical Comics series, slipped to seventh place in its third weekend. The film has earned $63.4 million in the U.S.

Fox’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes fell to the ninth spot and earned $4.4 million. Its total is now up to $197.8 million.

In other comic book movie related news the yearly grosses stand at:

Domestic Gross

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – $259.5 million
3. Transformers: Age of Extinction – $257.7 million
5. X-Men: Days of Future Past – $23 million
6. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – $202.6 million
7. Godzilla – $200.3 million
8. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – $197.8 million
10. Guardians of the Galaxy – $175.9 million
17. Mr. Peabody & Sherman $111.4 million
18. 300: Rise of An Empire – $106.6 million
20. Edge of Tomorrow – $98.9 million
29. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – $65 million
31. Hercules – $63.5 million
35. Robocop – $58.6 million
86. Snowpiercer – $4.3 million

Worldwide Gross

1. Transformers: Age of Extinction – $1.032.2 billion
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past – $741.7 million
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – $713.9 million
5. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – $708.1 million
6. Godzilla – $507.6 million
7. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – $503.9 million
11. Edge of Tomorrow – $363.1 million
13. 300: Rise of An Empire – $331.1 million
14. Guardians of the Galaxy – $313.2 million
17. Mr. Peabody & Sherman – $268.7 million
20. Robocop – $242.7 million
27. Hercules – $136 million
36. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – $93.7 million
40. Snowpiercer – $86.1 million
159. We Are the Best! – $174,000

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