Ongoing Investigations: Case #098

I decided to rewatch Avatar: The Last Airbender S1 which I saw during its original TV run, but through circumstances never was able to catch the rest of the series. Since that was so long ago I thought I would refresh my memory before tackling the rest. I stay impressed by what I remembered from it, there is a good flow in the pacing from episode to episode and the weaving of the story is done thoughtfully. Aang, Katara, and Sokka play off each other using their strengths from natural ability to caution making the journey memorable and deeply felt. I also really enjoyed how they were able to give you backstories within an episode without taking you out of the moment, this happens most notable when Zuko’s uncle tells the story of Zuko’s past to his crew which also cemented him as my favorite, my soft spot for redemption seeking characters continues. Speaking of Uncle, the cast of antagonists are well realized, easily becoming some of the more complex on canvas, creating a large world scope but never forgetting to stay true to the main heroes. The balance of action, danger, mystery, and humor solidifies why this show is addictive. And the ending of the season is magnificent, closing out the first part with enough to feel satisfied but make you desperate to see where it will all lead.

hisuiconThis week is a week of me finishing of some decent length titles. Slayers Evolution- R is really just the 2nd half of Slayer Revolution. This is obvious in the fact that it keeps the alphabetical naming scheme that the last season did. The season begins right were they left of still trying to revive Pokota’s kingdom which requires them to find the Hellmaster’s jar with Rezo’s soul. The first few episodes have them find a woman whose soul is living suit of armor with amnesia named Nama. She is obviously supposed to be Naga the Serpent but they keep up the running gag of never having Naga meet any of the regular Slayers cast. We have the end of Zuuma’s plot line, the resurrection of Rezo, and a rematch between Lina and Ruby Eye Shabranigdu. Overall it kept up the same good will that the last season did. It still was never a good as the first two seasons but I did enjoy myself immensely. I found it interesting that both Revolution and Evolution- R  go back and tweak stories from the novels that the last seasons of Slayers skipped for one reason or another. I wonder how well these two season did because there is still some novels that have yet to be adapted so I would be tickled pink to see some of the later books be adapted into anime as well. Continue reading

Ongoing Investigations: Case #097

hisuiconI finally saw the much-anticipated One Piece: Strong World movie. It was the first movie with a large amount of input from Eiichiro Oda so most people have been going in with very high expectations. There was even an official One Piece chapter zero comic made just to give back story to the movie and make everything canonical. Overall I found that I was hyping up Strong World in my mind better that it could ever have been. But it was still the most entertaining One Piece movie I have seen yet. The movie is a lavish affair even more so than the standard theatrical affair.  I noticed that they spend a good deal of attention to making Nami’s hair lavishly animated (as well as throwing her in the shortest of short shorts). In fact almost everyone goes through several changes of clothing which is surely done to sell tons of merchandise but I find it a welcome addition. Their best costumes  are when everyone is in suits as seen by the Portrait of Pirates figures. The plot is solid. While it never reaches the greatest highs on a normal One Piece storyline it never feels like a filler episode as well. Shiki is a decently memorable villain with a strong and unique power.  His subordinates were far less interesting. If you are a One Piece fan many of the movies are usually fun but utterly disposable but this is the one must see movie so far. I assume that Funimation is waiting for the DVDs to catch up to the point where Strong World takes place before licensing the movie which makes sense to me. I can’t wait to buy it whenever they pick it up.

Giant Killing is something I look forward to every week. And each episode pumps me up so much that it is kind of a crime they are only 22 or so minutes long. In the most recent installments the team is starting to take on bigger and bigger challengers, which is only natural. At this point, they are struggling again to regain their confidence but at the same time you can really see that the team is following Tatsumi, though doesn’t always blindly see his point of view. The Osaka Gunners are really out doing themselves rivaling ETU, especially because of the personality clashes on both sides. And I can see each side has some of the same types of people. Though I have to say, I find fake-Tsubaki utterly annoying and for the life of my I’m not sure why exactly. The coming episode maybe be the final part against Osaka and I truly don’t know which way the wind will blow. It is kind of amazing that Giant Killing is able to so readily keep you guessing about the outcome of games.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #096

Tales from Earthsea only just hit U.S. shores for general release this August due to conflicts over the name rights. But that isn’t the only reason you may not have heard of this movie, Goro Miyazaki makes his directorial debut and it is a poor showing to say the least. As the film opens we see dragons battling and are introduced to the concept that the balance of the world is off, it is further revealed much of this is being caused by the dangerous Lord Cob. That is about all the explanation you get for the plot of this movie. It is a world of magic (though it is dying out), castles, royalty, dragons, and wanderers. We meet Arren, Sparrowhawk, Therru, and Tenar in quick succession as troubling happenings seem to plague Arren’s journey with Sparrowhawk. But all of this, from characters to the pacing of the film to the dub, is flat, flat, flat. Arren is unsympathetic because there is never any moments where you really come to understand his point of view and his relationship with Therru develops unevenly at best never really making you believe the eventual bond between them. Most of the history of characters is just thrown out to you through poorly planned exposition, such as when we learn how Therru came to stay with Tenar. Though Tenar and Sparrowhawk fare a little better but only because they have an established, though minorly told, history together. The ending battle scenes and dialogue unfortunately elicited snickers and out loud laughter from not just myself but others in the audience. I think the only scene that had any real magic is when Arren tells Therru his “true name” which was rich, atmospheric, and tender. I really wanted to like this movie, and I want to believe Goro Miyazaki can develop as a director, but it was hard to keep the faith by the end of the film.

hisuicon Sadly Tales from Earthsea was the train wreck that it has been made out to be. Part of me was hoping that people were unfairly trying judge Goro Miyazaki first efforts as a director in comparison to his father’s work. But the reason that this move gets panned so much is it is just riddled with major flaws. The plot is poorly paced, will often make inscrutable twists, and is often just uninteresting. Most of the characters were either banal or annoying. The dialog is clunky so that at points characters will drop a line that seems to come completely out of nowhere. Sparrowhawk and Tenar were fine for the most part but they never came close to being able to prop up the plot. The worst part in my opinion is Arren is an unsympathetic character. When you actively dislike the main character you should have an idea that the show is going nowhere very quickly. The dub did not help the film at all but you can tell that the source was terrible so the dub had little to work with. Tales from Earthsea certainly looked like a Studio Ghibli film but it had none of the heart or artistry of a proper Studio Ghibli film. The only really positive thing I can say is it made me interested in reading the original books just to see what his mess was based on.

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