Tag Archives: review

Review: Elfen Lied

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Some people just really like dark stories. Like really dark stories. Like we’re going to kill your pet puppy because you’re a horned freak dark. Anyway, Elfen Lied is a manga written and illustrated by Lynn Okamoto, who has really done anything else big as of yet. It was serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Young Jump from June 2002 to August 2005. The television show was produced by the studio Arms and was licensed by ADV Films here. The anime ran in 2004 from July to October, before the manga’s end, which means it had a different ending than the source material. For once though, that seems to be a good thing.

The story focuses on a new mutation of the human species, called Diclonius, who have horn like protrusions on the forehead and the ability to summon invisible telekinetic arms. It specifically follows one Diclonius, Lucy, who for a long time has been held captive in an experimental facility. She escapes and ends up with amnesia, due to an all too convenient head injury, under the new name Nyu. From there she meets Kohta and his cousin Yuka who proceed to care for her. And the story only ramps up from there. Lucy has to remember who she is and continue her fight for the Diclonius as their “queen.”

Now, this series is famous. Well, maybe not as famous as it used to be, but back in my day Elfen Lied was how you knew if someone liked grimdark anime or not, if they were hardcore. I remember watching this in a hush hush situation when I was too young to understand why a lot of the themes were a bit too extreme for a fourteen-year-old. Now the reason the series was famous was because it just went all out on nudity, gore, sexual themes, all around dark themes, and otherwise. Lucy escapes nude and spends a lot of time nude killing people in really gruesome ways, often to the point of excess. That isn’t to say that the series is good, because it really isn’t that good, but it was stretching what mainstream anime could be in 2004. Which is saying a lot. In hindsight though, at points, it seemed like it was just trying to be hardcore for the sake of it.

With the main characters I am about to introduce, I’ll focus on the anime as it is the part of the series I have actually seen.

Our lead character is Lucy or Nyu, who is probably the most advanced of the Diclonious. From a young age she was alienated by others and it caused to her to have a very bad outlook on the human race, to the point of having little to know feelings for them at all. She has a sadistic personality, often leaving others to bleed to death because she can, if not murdering them brutally. Lucy may have a past with Kohta, though it takes a while for that to be revealed. However, has Nyu she is very childlike, unable to say many words beyond ‘nyu’ and ‘Kohta.’ She is essentially all that is good in Lucy. However that doesn’t mean she isn’t cringe worthy at times, like nearly all the time.

Kohta is the story’s male protagonist who has decided to stay with his cousin Yuka while he is attending college. He has a bit of memory loss concerning his father and sister, but knows that they died horribly, but not how. He and his cousin find ‘Nyu’ on the beach and take her in. He’s your average bland male character who doesn’t have a lot of depth to him. He’s there for Lucy to have angst over and to be the token male character in what could have easily been a harem anime.

Yuka is Kohta’s cousin, who may or may not be attracted to said cousin. For a lot of the story she appears upset that Kohta doesn’t remember the time they spent together as children, despite the fact his memory loss is caused by horrible trauma. She is the mother character in the series, who essentially takes care of or cares for all the others. She also is there to be jealous of the tension between Kohta and Nyu. She much like Kohta doesn’t have much of a personality beyond these few traits.

Mayu is a young runaway who ends up living with our protagonists, Kohta and Yuka becoming her guardians. Before though, she was living on the beach with a stray puppy named Wanta, having run away from an abusive household. Over time, after moving in with the cousins, she begins going to school and ultimately has cheered up as a person. She acts as the core of the makeshift family, often breaking up fights.

Nana is a diclonious like Lucy, but treated much better, known as number 7. She is used as a test subject at the very same facility that Lucy escapes. However, she is treated as a daughter by the very man attempting to find Lucy, Kurama. This makes her almost the exact opposite of Lucy, as she is warm and has never harmed a human before. Originally, she is sent to capture Lucy, which she fails to do and ends up severely hurt, but alive. After the failure she ends up living with the other protagonists, but not without initial distrust towards Nyu.

There’s other characters, all who have their own arcs and what not, but the story ultimately falls around Lucy. The characters affect her and how she reacts. So, in hopes of keeping spoilers down and interest possibly up, some characters will be shelved for now. The characters, besides the ones stated above, are also not exactly the most interesting.

The art is one that is very dated by its 2004 airdate and it shows, especially in the face of the characters. The facial proportions are extremely off, but comparatively the rest of the body is on point, everything else is fine. The eyes are just too big at times and don’t match with the rest of the face and it hurts to look at sometimes. The faces are awkward and it shows greatly at times, but at other points, especially with Lucy, the faces are beautiful. Especially in the later episodes as the story begins building up.  It also has a problem with the colors, at times seeming to rich and while yes it is animated, that doesn’t mean the color should be so forced and dull. One of the greater aspects of the animation was the opening, which made reference to Gustav Klimt’s painting The Kiss, Adele Bloch-Bauer I, and others with similar styles. The anime is definitely stronger art wise, as the manga seemed to have no aspect of actual anatomy and was at times almost too cutesy to match with its much darker themes. It’s one of those series that tricks you into thinking it’s going to be cutesy by the art, but then really is just a complete bend, like Higurashi. It also doesn’t have the beautiful opening, which accentuates the story perhaps the best within just a short amount of time. The anime was directed by Mamoru Kanbe, known for his work with Cardcaptor Sakura.

The sound for the anime was not the best, at least not the dub. However, it has perhaps, one of the most iconic opening themes in anime. Lillium, composed by Yukio Kondo, arranged by Kayo Konishi, and performed by Kumiko Noma. It echoes a sort of Gregorian chant and really echoes the feel of the story. The ending theme is not that much of note, especially in comparison to the beauty that is Lillium. So far as voice acting goes, the dub was subpar, the only person of note is Kira Vincent-Davis who played Lucy/Nyu, though she’s not much better than the others. The acting in the English dub is just so bad, it’s dry and emotionless, the delivery is just… Sad with what could have been a brilliant dub. Ultimately though, the Japanese is the better choice, especially in a series like this where some liberties were taken with the dub. Still, the series with sound seems to be just meh in general.

The series isn’t good, but it has aspects about it that seems to capture people. It really seems like a fever dream at points. People know about it, something that’s like sharing some secret with your best friend. Honestly, the show isn’t awful to get through, it might be hard at times, but honestly it’s one of the shows that seems to be a guilty pleasure for some. I can’t say much about the manga other than general appearance issues, but maybe it’s worth a try. However, you should only be watching the series if you are of age. This is a series with adult themes, gratuitous violence, and nudity.

Overall Rating: 6.5

Book Review: The Indian by Jon Gnarr

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Written by the ex-mayor of Reykjavik, Jon Gnarr, The Indian follows his early life, studies the way he has lived and shows how hard it is to be different. He has never known what most people define as normal, and that’s good.

The book opens with a little introduction to the Icelandic alphabet, so one does not wonder how to pronounce some names and words. This is good to have as the book includes quite a few, at first, tricky names that are initially hard to read but as the book progresses, it gets just as if you read names like Stefan, Sam, Sarah etc.

When you first look into Gnarr’s history, it’s beguiling to think he does not care about people’s opinion and his career seems as an example of this. However, in The Indian Jon shows a vivid, and unsettling, portrayal of a person who is like a fish out of water, diverging from what others perceive as ‘normal’. His childhood is not what would usually be considered as troubled, not really, but it is hard to feel this as it is grim and yet relentlessly fun and relatable. The inability to fit amongst the others, both his classmates and his family, is easy to read about but hard to get through if you have ever been a misfit. The situations that occur are somewhat similar though distinctive in its own way.

“What they thought ‘normal’ was a mystery to me; I don’t see it until someone else tells me.”

The novel is not fiction, but it is not completely non-fiction either. The author himself states it in the beginning. What the book is a recollection of what he remembers and what others have told him. Reading it, I could say I thought everything happening in the book is credible and not far-fetched. Exactly what may seem as an exaggeration, I feel, is the complete, unbeautified and utter truth. The decision to include notes from psychotherapists is clever and enhances the realistic feel of The Indian. Many of these notes say what you feel and think explicitly as you read the novel.

The Indian by Jon Gnarr is a novel about self-discovery in a world where being different is of no good. It is an ingenious and bleak book, cleverly exploring the life of a ginger misfit, with writing that seamlessly blends Jon Gnarr’s comedic abilities with an emotional connection that results in a need to learn everything there is to know about the boy who didn’t fit in his surroundings and wanted to become an Indian.

Movie Review: Everest

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Everyone has thought about what it would be like to climb the highest point of the planet Earth. Everyone. However, not everybody has the ability to do so. Instead of risking your life, catch a glimpse of the experience on the biggest screen possible, preferably in IMAX.

Everest follows the story of a small group of people who go on an expedition to climb the highest mount, but as an unexpected storm hits, the crew has to face the worst of conditions.

Baltasar Kormákur, an Icelander who is doing a film of such scale for the first time, is the person behind the camera. He has done a tremendous job at directing Everest—the cinematography, pacing and character development are fantastic.

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Where the movie is at its best—that being the realistic touch that Kormákur has added, you are digging your nails into your palms, literally (at least that’s what I did). I strongly disagree with other reviewers who say the first act is slow. For me it was perfect as we get to know the characters, where and how they take up on this endeavour, who is who.

The realism is unprecedented; never did I think the film would be nearly as close to reality as it actually is. The fact that we see the bodies of the dead climbers being passed by, the ambiguity of it—it’s both selfish and yet understandable.

In a way, the spine-chilling storms, the roaming thunders shattering the ground, the unearthing of the mountaineers who may have survived, and the frozen faces and limbs—they all contribute to truly immersing the viewer to the horrible reality some hikers go through when climbing up the peaks. The strongest theme in Everest is the idea that human nature will be responsible for any occurring death, not due to severe conditions.

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As far as acting goes, it’s stellar across the board–Jason Clarke, Thomas Wright, Ang Phula Sherpa, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tom Goodman-Hill, Josh Brolin and everyone else do a fine job at portraying the struggles of the characters.

Everest is a film centred around the ambience, harshness, physical impact, and sound of the extreme weather and magnificence of the Himalaya. With powerful character moments, fantastic scenery and visual effects, the film shows how small and insignificant we, the humans are, in comparison to the Mother Nature. To be fully immersed, Everest must be seen in 3D on the largest screen possible.

Overall Score: 8

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See it!

Movie Review: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

maze runner the scorch trialsLast year, The Maze Runner came out and was refreshing and therefore received great by both critics and audiences. The movie grossed almost $350 million, paying back its production budget more than 10 times. Now, a year later, its sequel — The Scorch Trials is out and is every ounce as good as its predecessor, even better.

The Scorch Trials picks up moments after The Maze Runner ended with our characters out of the maze. They are now far and away from WCKD, safe. They are brought to a base where there find out there has been more than one maze. We are quickly introduced to Aris, the kid who has been in the base for the longest(read: one week). From there many twists and turns, fighting, running, betrayal and many more shocking revelations follow.

Wes Ball, the director, has done a fantastic job with this film. Even better than what he did with the previous one. The horror elements are here, even scarier than before. At first, I thought the handheld approach was not well-used, however, later I realized it was brilliant — you get to feel the same discomfort, disorientation and general feel of the scene, as if you are one of the characters. In addition, Ball manages to build tension in such a way that leaves you even more satisfied with the end result, which is an expanded world and richer characters. He also gives us seconds of black screen a couple of times in order for us to mull over what’s happened.

Another thing The Scorch Trials is exceptional at is incorporating the visual effects with the real world in a seamless manner. The budget of the film is yet to be released, but I doubt that Fox would spend much more when the director can make do such great visuals with low budget swimmingly. I really can’t understand how movies with budgets north of the century mark have such flimsy CGI. Sure, the effects are not always perfect, but most of the time — they are.

Acting was top-notch all around, from the main characters we already know to the new ones we see for the first time. Everyone does a great job. There a couple of slow moments, to balance the action, some of which include deaths and the reactions and emotions could certainly be felt by the viewers.

One of the things worth noticing is that the film does not end where you think it would At one point I was sure it will end, but the movie went on for a solid 20 minutes longer. And that was my only little problem with the film — the ending. What I mean is that it kind of feels done before, but I can’t put my finger on what exactly.

In The Maze Runner a world was created and now, in The Scorch Trials, it is expanded and built upon. With intelligent storytelling, beautiful cinematography and great acting, the film is not to be missed under any circumstances.

The Scorch Trials hits theatres on September 18 in the US and is already playing in many overseas markets.

Review: Continuum season 4 premiere

It’s here. After months of uncertainty around Continuum‘s faith, in December it was revealed that the show would come back for a final, shortened, fourth season. Now it has returned and what it offers is the great, complicated and sophisticated look at what the future holds.

The show is not really back until September 4th, but there is a pre-release for the first episode for all three of Showcase’s shows coming out in September — Continuum, Lost Girl, and Mr. Robot. Once I found out about this I jumped the ceiling with my heart beating in my chest harder than it does when I work out.

The Simon Barry show picks up where we left off last summer with Kiera and Brad cutting off Vancouver’s electricity and bringing Iron Man reminiscent robocops to this timeline. To add more fuel to the fire of intensity, Kellog has taken over Piron by tricking the other Alec into signing the documents which makes Kellog the CEO of Piron.

Throughout the episode, there is one moment where you might think is a cheap way for the writers to do something, which they are not actually doing. Sounds convoluted, but once you see the episode, you will know what this is all about. It is a smart move in order to speed up Kiera’s personal need — to get back home, to her family, to Sam.

“The show returns with a bang, bringing back the great acting and masterful storytelling we have come to expect from it.”

However, do not take it that this episode is mostly drama; it’s not. It is one of the few shows, whose action scenes are indeed nail-bitingly intense. In addition, we learn more about the robocops, who they are and why they are here. The episode is well-paced and filled with a lot of action and drama. The show returns with a bang, bringing back the great acting and masterful storytelling we have come to expect from it.

I have always been the person who supported the theory of time travel that you cannot change the past, regardless of what you do, because it is bound to happen. For example, you kill someone who is crossing the street with your car unintentionally; you want to fix this. You find a way to get back in time and you stop yourself from doing this (if the other you believes it) and you turn left. However, then you take left, instead of right, and that same person is there, because he has also decided to take a left turn. You kill him. Or you might kill him some other day, it has to happen. That’s how it works — you can’t change the past… or at least that’s how I thought things worked before I watched this show.

“Continuum has changed my perspective on time travel with its multi-timeline concept, which actually makes sense.”

Continuum has changed my perspective on time travel with its multi-timeline concept, which actually makes sense. Every action in the past creates another timeline in which you don’t kill the person crossing the street (you are a really bad driver). In the other one — you do. This is thoroughly explained in the premiere of the third season.

You can watch the premiere early on one of the many platforms it has been released: Shaw Media digital properties: Action-tv.ca, ETCanada.com, MyLifetimeTV.ca, Slice.ca, Showcase.ca, GlobalTV.com, and the Global Go App; on iTunes, YouTube, set-top box with most major television providers through Global On Demand and Showcase On Demand, the accompanying online portal for Showcase On Demand, and with Canadian streaming service, Shomi (available August 25).

What did you think of the premiere? Is it good? Did you love it as much as me? Also, what’s your take on the time travel concept?

Also, for all of you fans out there, I am giving away this poster of the show:

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Book Review: Somebody I Used To Know

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Title: Somebody I Used To Know

Author: David Bell

Publisher: New American Library

Synopsis:

The breakout author of The Forgotten Girl and Cemetery Girl, “one of the brightest and best crime fiction writers of our time” (Suspense Magazine) delivers a new novel about a man who is haunted by a face from his past….

When Nick Hansen sees the young woman at the grocery store, his heart stops. She is the spitting image of his college girlfriend, Marissa Minor, who died in a campus house fire twenty years earlier. But when Nick tries to speak to her, she acts skittish and rushes off.

The next morning the police arrive at Nick’s house and show him a photo of the woman from the store. She’s been found dead, murdered in a local motel, with Nick’s name and address on a piece of paper in her pocket.

Convinced there’s a connection between the two women, Nick enlists the help of his college friend Laurel Davidson to investigate the events leading up to the night of Marissa’s death. But the young woman’s murder is only the beginning… and the truths Nick uncovers may make him wish he never doubted the lies.

***

We all know that feeling when you pick up a book, you read all night and then finish it at school or work. That is exactly what happened to me. I just clicked the read now button, and a minute later, I was reading it. I love good thrillers.

I can summarise this book in two words: crazily twisted; in all the meanings of twisted. The author is telling the story of two college students, Marissa and Nick, who met and fell in love. However, Marissa is killed and Nick cannot get over it.

It has been a while since I have been so hooked up by a book so I literally couldn’t put it down. This page-turner has incredible characters and flawless writing. You know, some things don’t make sense and then it all adds up. Having said that, this is not a novel for those searching fast-paced read. The slow-burn built up to the end is simply genius and unblemished, though it could be irritating if you like everything to be revealed in the first chapters. The deeper I dived into the story and the characters, the more I refused to put it down.

Nick’s character is so relatable. He feels like a human being; he is not perfect as many characters are portrayed. He has his problems, but overall he is a good guy, living in the past to some extent, though it’s understandable considering his feelings for Marissa. They had so many plans together that were ruined.

In short, Somebody I Used To Know is a thrilling read with many twists and turns which keeps you guessing until the end just to prove your assumptions wrong.

 

Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Highly Recommended Read

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

 

Movie Review: Entourage

Does Entourage, the TV show loosely based on Mark Wahlberg’s life, translate well to the big screen after being a successful show for HBO? No, it does not. Apart from the absurd number of cameos, Entourage cannot stand out from the show, making it as un-cinematic as it can get.

Why do I think so? The movie starts with lengthy, slick and smoothly edited credits, which are the high mark of the entire  105 minutes. They promise a film with an energetic, exciting and fresh feel to it. Unfortunately, this is as far from the truth as possible. If this does not say enough about Entourage, read on.

Changing the aspect ratio does not necessarily mean you are making a film. You are still making a TV, just with a different frame. In order for it to be a film, you need at least a plausible plot. No such thing exists here. This is a pointless, directionless and painful to watch wet dream of how the movie industry works. No studio executive will give you $100 million and then not check out the daily footage. Yet, this is just one of the many wrong depictions of how Hollywood works.

Entourage has a plot that feels put together after hiring famous actors for cameos. It’s true, we get glimpses of Jessica Alba, Warren Buffett, T.I., Andrew Dice Clay to name a few. The movie begins with a party in Ibiza with Vince and his buddies because he has gotten his marriage annulled after just south of ten days. They talk to Arri, the now studio head who is the best character between them with only Eric getting close to being interesting and relatable. Vince has directed a film — although he has no idea how to — and he needs some more money in order to add the finishing touches. From there, Arri has to go and beg for more money in Texas from the investor, who insists that his son will go with Arri in L.A. to see how the film is going. However, Vince is reluctant to show the movie before it is fully finished and the far-fetched thing is that a studio head would agree. Vince organises a screening at Turtle’s house. From there he cancels the screening and later ends up giving Arri a DVD. From then on the movie gets duller.

The supporting characters are allowed to have a bit more of storyline and space to breathe. Eric, for example, ends up in an interesting situation after banging a couple of chicks in one day. Jerry Ferrara’s Turtle gets into some interesting relationship with Ronda Rousey, though she’s so underused. There is an overly dramatic moment when we find out why the Texas spoiled child will not give Arri the money.

On the whole, Entourage is not a film worth your while at the cinema, but it is one of those films you could rent on iTunes if it gets to .99 cents. It is a movie you could enjoy if there is nothing on TV but it. Though there it will indistinguishable from the TV show.

 

Rating: 6.5/10

Rent at 99c. or watch on TV

Director – Doug Ellin
Starring –  Adrian GrenierKevin ConnollyJerry Ferrara
Rated – R
Run Time – 105 minutes

 

Review: Trista + Holt #3

SmTHTrista & Holt #3 is another work from Andrez Bergen (Iffy Commix) that captures the spirit of noir so perfectly it hurts. What really got me by the throat was that this one was over far too soon and after the feast I experienced by reading all twelve issues of Bergen’s Bullet Gal a few weeks ago collected into one sumptuous volume, It’s Not You, It’s Me, I’m now left waiting hungrily for Trista & Holt #4 (if you haven’t caught all of Bullet Gal yet, 10-12 are yet to arrive in separate issues).
It’s the nature of Bergen’s work that the intoxicating images, motifs and dialogue come from across the entire landscape of literary and film noir and that’s in evidence here. Though it contains references from various eras, Bullet Gal seems more firmly established in the world of “high” noir, with archetypal noir imagery from the 1940’s existing in a digitized-techno narrative that’s completely classic and new (yes, I’m aware of the paradox there. ). Trista & Holt #3 seems to turn that inside-out, with all the classic noir tropes seen here in the neo-noir of the 1970’s. Instead of classic black gangster vehicles a la Capone and company traveling the streets of Heropa we’re treated to Ford Grand Torinos and muscle cars from the era of Starsky & Hutch.

HoltOwlTwo brutal crime families, the Holts and the Cornwalls, each with a powerful matriarch, battle for ultimate supremacy. Violence erupts in the streets against one of the Holt’s guys, making headlines on the news and stirring up shock, blame and plans for revenge within the Holt family and a toxic but (of course) flawlessly beautiful femme fatale, Alaina Holt, takes action while her husband Isidore “Anguish” Holt has a meltdown. It’s definitely worth getting to know the dramatis personae of this corner of Bergen’s dark and fascinating universe.

I love the dynamic of the two warring families, each with its own thugs, wayward relatives and henchmen to contend with, and also the film noir convention of voice-over from the lovely and world-weary Trista, ally to Marcella “Queenie” Cornwall, and the appropriately jaded Issy Holt, whose favorite show, CHiPs, is interrupted by news of the family’s wheel man’s untimely demise. Perhaps Issy’s apparent dead-pan delivery illustrates the detachment necessary to exist in such a maelstrom of violence and treachery, the fabulous mid-century modern surroundings of his apartment notwithstanding. No wonder he seeks escape in the company of Ponch and the gang, but Alaina isn’t about to let any of the men escape from reality for very long; she’s a woman of action, as is her nemesis, Queenie Cornwall. Like in Bullet Gal, the decisive action of the women propels the story forward and any signs of lingering in thought, grief and self-pity are severely frowned upon. There’s just no room for that here. Something about the epic battles between these two families and the take-no-prisoner divas at the helm of each winks at the popular nighttime American soaps of the ‘80’s, such as Dallas, Dynasty, and Falcon Crest, only instead of oil, mining or wine, these gangster families deal directly in gun-power and turf-wars, and turn to violence as a way to get things done first instead of last.

If you’re a fan of noir, this is a must-read and you’ll be addicted immediately; and if you’re not a noir fan but you love new and innovative forms of story-telling, you have to check this out.

Story: Andrez Bergen Art: Andrez Bergen
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10
Recommendation: Buy

The creator/publisher provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Review: Bob’s Burgers Vol. 1

BobsBurgersTP-Cov-60lbJust because I’m a fan of an animated T.V. show doesn’t always mean I’ll want to read the comic but with Bob’s Burgers Volume 1 (Dynamite) by the writers and artists/ animators of the show, overseen by its creator Loren Bouchard, I’m now a fan of both the television and comic book versions. For me the show always ends too soon but this collected edition of the first five issues gave me plenty to chew, along with palate-cleansing interludes of pin-up art in various styles by different artists. Want to see a portrait of Bob in the style of Van Gogh? It’s here. The whole family in stained glass? Yes, like in a church. It’s here, too.

With this edition you get several installments of Tina’s Erotic Friend Fiction in genres from sci-fi to Western, to zombies. Is “zombies” a genre? I hesitate to say horror because it’s too funny. Tina’s butt-obsession is in full play throughout her stories so as you can imagine, Jimmy Pesto, Jr. figures quite prominently. Gene’s musical theatre endeavors play out in rhyme, with farts aplenty. Louise’s sections feature her wreaking havoc at school and at home, and solving mysteries in her hard-charging, get-outta-my-way style. I especially like the outcome of her sleuthing in the library book vandalism case! In one instance she doesn’t quite solve the mystery involving a member of a boy band group but I’m very intrigued and hope this will be addressed in the future (where are you, Boo?).

Layout 1We don’t see a whole lot of Bob and Linda in this volume, but what we do see is quite interesting. I love Linda’s way of talking (her syntax and diction) so I enjoyed being treated to her letters to (mostly) corporate recipients with ideas for inventions, new perfumes and tips on wine-drinking for busy moms. From Bob there are burger-of-the-day idea lists, fresh from the kitchen on ruled, grease-stained paper. The cleverly-named daily burger special is a running motif on the show that gets a more satisfying treatment here, some even with illustrations. Coming up with these is Bob’s thing–he’s really good at it and when I read them they make me hungry.

I love the very distinctive voices on the television version and that’s the only thing missing from the comic book, but since I’ve watched the show since the get-go, the voices are recorded in my mind and play as I’m reading. If you haven’t really watched the show and you’re new to this fabulously quirky universe located in a sea-side town populated with characters from the cranky and eccentric to the delusional yet hilarious, well, the most fun is in watching Bob, Linda and the kids interact with them.

I’m a fan of the drawing and the way the characters look, both on the show and in the comic. Even some of the more initially outlandish-looking side characters tend to remind me of folks I’ve known or seen. As for my favorite supporting character, in the future I’d like to see more of Tina’s and Jimmy Jr.’s classmate, Zeke, who, like Nelson in The Simpsons has gone from being a quasi-bully and sidekick for Jimmy, Jr. to a more full-fledged character on the show. With his modified mullet hairstyle and Southern accent, he has a surprising knack for cooking and a fondness for older women. In the future I’ll be on the look-out for more of Zeke and definitely more about Louise’s search for her boy-band member crush—yes, Louise has a crush!

Story: Mike Olsen, Jeff Drake, Rachel Hastings, Justin Hook, Chad Brewster
Art: Brad Rader, Tony Gennero, Frank Forte, Bernard Derriman, Robin Brigstocke, Damon Wong, Kat Kosmala, Cecilia Aranovich, Kyung Shin, Marcelo Benavides, Ken Laramay, Paul Claerhout, Ryan Mattos, Steve Umbelby
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.8
Recommendation: Buy

Dynamite Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Review: DRAMAtical Murder

dramatical_murder_3146So if there’s one thing that’s of common knowledge it’s that adaptations of video games are either fantastic or phenomenal. If you didn’t know DRAMAtical Murder, a recent 2014 summer release anime from Nitro+chiral, is on the weird middle cusp, where it can be good on some aspects while near awful on the other side. So for the low down Dmmd is an otome Japanese game, essentially a yaoi/bl dating game, for adults, which was later adapted into an all ages anime. This is one of the reasons this show doesn’t essentially work, as it struggles to make it accessible for an inclusive audience. It’s obviously for an 18 and older audience but it downplays a lot of important plot points because of that. But anyway, enough of that for now, and onto the plot.

The main character Aoba lives on an Island, Midorijima, where there is an old district and a new district, named Platinum Jail. He meets with old friends and new friends, all who have their own special issues, and then evil befalls upon them! Well not really but an evil plot of mind control is I guess? The plot was never really that good as in the game you only really play for the other characters backstories, but I suppose I have to cover it despite all of that. So… Anyway. Aoba and friends must rush to Platinum Jail and stop a dastardly plot as well as come to terms with their troubled pasts that hold them back from living full lives. There’s also this whole thing with games like Rhyme or Rib, and the war between the players. Yeah. That’s the plot.

There’s also this whole thing about robot companions, often looking like real pets, called All-Mates who are the coolest thing ever. They will search the internet for you as well as check for viruses, and much more. We see ones that are birds, rabbits, lions, snakes, and dogs. I want an all mate and so should you.

So then. Characters.

Aoba Seragaki is our main dude, a blue mullet wearing twenty-three year old, who apparently has mind powers. Yup, he can literally turn your mind into a bowl of noodles, well only if he really wanted to. He’s pretty much a big ol’ blue nerd, has a robot dog, lives with his grandmother, and works at a junk shop. Also he wears a stupid puffy jacket. He is able to pretty much date any of the following options of characters.

Kojaku is our samurai ladies’ man, who is a hairdresser when he’s not the man in charge what is basically a gang, Benishigure, but not yakuza. Really he’s just a huge nerd too, but has a tragic backstory. He’s also Aoba’s childhood friend, which if you didn’t know is always a choice in otome games, who just wants to protect said person. Kojaku is tough guy who doesn’t let harm come to civilians, especially the ladies. He’s also got a bit of temper issue when it comes to certain things, including his tattoos.

Noiz is our younger brat type, who is the head guy of a Rhyme team, Ruff Rabbit, as well as an information broke.  He’s also got a tragic backstory concerning how he was raised and how it turned him into who he is. Not very tact he literally is always pestering someone to fight him or pissing someone off because he can. He sees the world as a give and take system, everyone wants something from him, which is the only reason anyone would be kind to him. There’s something that he cannot feel that Aoba helps him understand.

Clear is our tragic white haired anime boy, except… Well spoilers on that one, anyway… He came into the story because he heard Aoba’s voice call out to him. That’s why he’s there, for his Master’s voice. He’s happy go lucky, if not a bit dense about things.  He doesn’t show his face to people out of certain reasons and everyone seems to love him in the fandom. Unfortunately he also has a tragic backstory. All of them do.

Mink is our cinnamon flavored thug, leader of the group Scratch, and man is he controversial in the game. Quiet and reserved, he’s only really interacting with the other’s to meet his own ends. There’s a reason he’s in Midorijima, and it’s not a good one. Still he’s the one least willing to let Aoba into his life and for good reasons. Everyone either loves or hates him, and it’s ridiculous because he is fictional.

Ren is Aoba’s All-mate, but also something deeper than that, his partner. Without any spoilers I’ll let you know that Ren is there to help Aoba no matter what happens. He will fight in Rhyme if need be, which gives him an alternate mode from his dog all mate form, as a beefcake. He’s also faced with many tough choices, mostly concerning how he feels, and if he is even justified in having emotions. At the end of the day he just wants to be by Aoba’s side. He’s also got a voice deeper than an abyss.

There’s also these two guys who say they aren’t twins but they are totally twins. They’re pretty…. Pretty messed up.  But also pretty. They are yakuza trash and seem to be pretty proud of it as well as unapologetic. The role they play is actually pretty important but far better explained in the game. In the anime they’re really only there to be ambiguous.

So the animation was definitely a downgrade, but that’s a bit hard to really talk about, as the game was not actually a moving animation. But still just the art of the anime was a bit on the dull side, as well as god damn atrocious in Episode 3 where apparently the animators sent the rough draft rather than the final product. The version that aired was clunky and horrible anatomy wise. And they later re-released the episode, but only in Japan, mostly due to the uproar of poor animation. It dulled out characters and made them blockier and less them. When the game that wasn’t animated but had literal stills of scenes is better than your animation that you definitely had more money to make… Well that’s just sad. Also while I’m not complaining, all the money had to have gone to that last episode. Sweet Jesus they made the Ren beach scene beautiful, I may have cried because of it.

This series had the unfortunate problem of having to deal with a multi-ending game, where were they going to take it? Which route? Well they decided to do all five routes in one go, which wasn’t the best idea on their part. It made the story telling as clunky as the animation, because Aoba was forced to fix a friend’s situation in basically ten minutes. It resolves things in a way that isn’t believable and I had a hard time really caring about the problems these characters were faced with. Nothing was fixed that fast in the game and I just had a hard time connecting to the characters like I did in the game. I know it’s not fair to constantly be comparing, but as a source material it is important.

Now the music was all pretty much done by the Japanese band GOATBED, which actually in canon is Aoba’s favorite band, and was not my favorite part of the show. I could give or take the opening and ending, but honestly it didn’t ruin the show either. Also pretty much everyone from the game returned to their roles in the animation, minus Mink’s original voice actor, and it was nice to hear some new line and bits from them. Still there was the whole issue of things being way too fast for me and that was mostly a story telling issue.

All together it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve watched, far from it actually. While it was a bit of a let-down compared to the game, which I’ve played, and found far superior, despite its own faults. I still found it entertaining and if I were just coming into it without any prior knowledge I might have liked it even more. Still overall it wasn’t the worst possible thing. And we’re still waiting for the two OVAs to be released that may or may not be the bad endings from the game but toned down. Now let’s also remember that, if you’re going for the source material after reading this, the game is for adults and features adult themes.

Overall rating: 6.5/10

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