Detective Conan: Countdown to Heaven (movie 5) is the first to involve the Black Organization. I always enjoy their appearances and they add a level of danger so it’s a nice addition to this very tense film. This is also the first film that actually requires you to see some previous amount of Conan to fully grasp it, it ties into the first film. And actually if you haven’t seen the first movie I think it takes away some of speculation on who is the culprit. This time around a new hi-rise and hotel is about to open, but before it does one of the contributors is murdered in the new hotel section. Subsequent people involved with the new building lose their lives as well and it all culminates at the opening party where chaos ensues as the power goes out which is only the beginning. How the Black Organization fits in Conan is determined to figure out. I really liked this movie, but I almost always find when the Black Organization is involved things are more complicated and the outcome is more unknown. The killer was hard to determine plus the little details to the case were well put together. As always the ending sequence is pretty much amazing, though even more tense because of the kids’ involvement. I would rank this one high for the movies!
Having gone back and done things in the proper order we were finally able to watch the fifth Detective Conan movie. While this seems to be a “normal” Detective Conan murder mystery going on, the shadowy Black Organization also seems to have a hand in the proceedings. In a way this is like two separate Conan stories in one movie. There is the very standard but solid murder mystery like you expect and then a high tension Black Organization episode as well. Conan and the viewers know that the plots are somehow connected but how they are connected is just as much a mystery as everything else. But everything comes together in the end quite nicely with both stories being good and crisscrossing without tripping over each other. As with most Conan movies the action sequences at the end are nicely done and benefit from the theatrical budget. Since the movies have been mostly filler it’s easy to make them disposable but I feel this movie gave you the impression of having some weight to it while not disturbing the main storyline. You could watch Countdown to Heaven without seeing The Timebombed Skyscraper but you have to watch this one after the first movie because it gives away the solution to the first film.
Love Position: Legend of the Halley is a OVA with a weird title, I honestly have no idea why Love Position is at the beginning of it. Beyond that, the story starts when a meteor falls to earth and out comes a huge dude who begins killing anyone he comes in contact with, we eventually learn he is there to destroy humanity for some reason. A young guy who is researching something or another that sends him to the a secluded part of Vietnam meets Lamina who his father met during the Vietnam War. She is also an alien who knows a thing or two about who has come to kill everyone. There are mountains of melodrama between the terrible flashbacks of the father’s time in the war, the young man’s girlfriend who is constantly being dragged away by a creepy bodyguard, and a slue of pretty nonsense decisions. There are a lot of holes in the story, not much is explained beyond this aliens race wants you humans dead. Actually there is nothing really spectacular about this 80’s OVA, not even noteworthy animation, though it wasn’t a complete disaster it just never really engages you.
I have been interested in the Sakura Wars franchise for quite some time so I was thrilled to see Sakura Wars 5 released in the U.S. by NIS America as Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love. I was very pleased with limited edition release for the PS2 so I could get the original Japanese dub as well as the English dub. I approved of the packaging and bonus materials and while I think they played a little fast and loose with the translation I can’t say that I saw any of the spirit lost from the original. The most important thing is that the game is as delightfully over the top as I would hope a game about steam and magic powered mecha in 1920 America fighting the demonic forces of Oda Nobunaga would be. The game was a bit more dating sim heavy than SRPG than I initially expected but I love both genres so I had no real problems. Also since there is an interactive portion to all the dialog options it always engages you with the story and keeps you feeling like you are playing a game and not just reading a colorful novel. I loved the game but I maybe be a bit biased. This does cater to my affection for cheerful, busty, freckled, red-headed, samurai cowgirls who tell bad puns and fight in mecha.
I watched the special Shoka made by Production I.G. It is a short story set in feudal era Japan where a of clan of calligraphers has the power to bring their drawings to life. When some demons start to terrorize the area, three of their best warriors must step in to save it. It is short but you get an quick glimpse at the personality of each warrior from laid back and a bit of a showoff to the standard quiet guy and semi-uppity girl. In fact, the characters are probably easy to pick up on because it is familiar. The stylization is more sketchy and loose than what I’ve come to expect from I.G but that is exactly what brings this story to life so well. The monster designs are nice as well. All in all it would be nice to see this made into some larger project but it was a satisfying little stint.
Since I was not going to watch Betterman any time soon I decided to finally finish up The King of Braves GaoGaiGar series with GaoGaiGar Final. As epic and powerful as anything with the word final in its title should be, it might be a little odd for anyone who has never done research on GaoGaiGar to jump into Final because it has characters like Papillon Noir and Renais Kerdif-Shishioh who originally come from supplemental material we will never get here. But you quickly get a sense who these people are before you move onto the awesomeness. The OVA starts off with the evil organization called BioNet trying to steal one of these mysterious objects known as the Q-Parts. Soon a seemingly rouge Mamoru comes to steal the Q-Parts as well. This leads the GaoGaiGar team to having to fight the 11 Sol Masters and their plot to destroy the earth. We get some amazing fights to rival the ones in the original GaoGaiGar including the GaoGaiGar vs the GaoFighGar. It is well done and a great successor to the spirit and fun of the original. It ended on a melancholy note which I assume they were going to correct in the sequel but sadly that never happened. But it still gave you everything you could have ever wanted and more.
Ai factors in prominently in the 5th movie so I thought “why not?”