SIONR: Anime Dubs Are Better Than Subs

The worst part about anime critique on YouTube is that virtually all of the ones that I see are in Japanese with subtitles.  There are SO many people online who will swear up and down that watching with subs is the “true” way to watch it.  And if you don’t do that, you’re just some philistine pleb who has no opinion worth considering.  I hate that to no end.  Why?  Because all the anime that I love, the dub kicks the living shit out of the sub in every conceivable way.

The big one people go to in regards to this topic is Cowboy Bebop.  Sure, that’s the best example.  The dub is objectively better than the sub.  But I can put every series on my Top 20 Favorite Anime List (linked here) next to its Japanese language counterpart and watch the Dub do it better.  Before you say that this is just my opinion – sure, whatever.  But seriously, watch the series on that list in both languages and tell me which sticks out to you more.

One of the ones that really sticks out to me is Black Lagoon.  That series had some of the craziest talent in the world putting their absolute all into it.  You have anime veterans like Brad Swaile doing the voice of the main character.  This guy has such a history in this medium that you can’t talk about the growth of it in America without him.  He’s been in everything.  Every character in there is pitch perfect, and the voice-work is downright haunting.  I think about the episode inside the submarine, where Revy is telling her dark story to Rock, and listen to her voice.  Or when Dutch is on the phone with the Neo-Nazi who got him that job.  It’s all amazing.  Or when the head of the Russian mob in Roanapur and her dialogue with the vampire child who comes to kill her as he dies.  Yeah, the Japanese can’t hold a pin to that.

One that catches me in why people prefer the Japanese to English is Steins;Gate.  In my eyes, Okabe can ONLY be voiced by J Michael Tatum.  There’s no one else.  That man has a gift at capturing the subtle balance between legitimate character and the madness that he exudes without going overboard.  You still find him to be believable.  Seeing his facade of a mad scientist crumbling around him as he gets deeper into the realm of time travel makes the dilemma he’s facing that much more heart-wrenching.  You see the mental toll it is exerting on Okabe, and feel him losing grip on what’s the right thing to do anymore.  I cannot think of any other voice actor who could do that the way J. Michael Tatum does.

It blows my mind the fact that the dub for Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad is so amazing.  One thing that any otaku cringes at is when there is TERRIBLE musical dubbing into English.  We’ve all been there.  You hear bad voice actors doing bad versions of music clearly not written with English in mind.  So a series about a band with the center-piece being their music had all the recipes for complete failure.  But it works!  Holy fuck does it work!  It’s a testament to the voice actors they got to sing, and the person who did the dubbing in how good that turned out.  It could EASILY have been the cringiest anime dub in history.  Not to mention, since two characters in the series are supposed to have lived in America, the Japanese version has some pretty painful Engrish in there.  It’s kind of ironic that because of it being in English, those scenes flow infinitely better.  I always love in Japanese films (that I do watch with subtitles.  For whatever reason, anime no, foreign films yes for subtitles) when they have terribly done English.

Then, of course, there is Baccano.  As I am to understand it, the Japanese cast really did put in their all into these performances.  But it’s clear even they knew that the English version of this would be superior in every way.  Every voice actor in this series fits perfectly.  Pitch-perfect, they bring their characters’ to life in a way that I genuinely cannot think of who else could.  Firo is my personal favorite.  That New York flavor of snide, arrogant, and cocky just shows through.

Speaking of people fitting the role perfectly, the greatest dub on the list I made, by far and away, is Wolf’s Rain.  That series has every single major dub hitter from that time.  We have Steve Blum, Johnny Bosch, Crispin Freeman, Mona Marshall, Mary McGlynn, Kari Wahlgren, and so many more.  Every single person who was the best name in the business at the time that that series was dubbed had a role there, major or minor.  Most people don’t appreciate what it means for a series to be “star-studded,” even if it’s just voice-actors.  That series was.  The best of the best, and they brought their best work to the table.  For a series that was so deep in themes and darkness, bringing that to light in a way that made you feel for every character was a testament to the skill of those involved.

Maybe this is just because of my very high standards, but I have only seen one series, ONE, where the Japanese version blows the English out of the water.  And that’s because the ADR director for it sucked – High School of the Dead.  The English in that show was some of the worst I have ever heard.  It blows my mind.  But then I look at who did the dub work, and then I realize why.  It was from one of the worst ADR directors in anime history, who has churned out some of the worst dubs of all time in series that did not deserve it.  Goes to show the power of what a good director can do.  Because all the talent in the world can’t save you if the person helming the effort is crap.

You don’t have the remind me that this is my opinion.  I know.  But since my standards for anime are already high, that means that my standards for the voice-work are high as well.  And for people to say that if you don’t watch it with subtitles, you are somehow doing a disservice to the medium just blows my mind.  Or that, bafflingly, the Japanese version is always better, is arrogant to say the least.  Don’t go thinking I am shitting on the Japanese who do the voice-work.  I’m not.  There is no doubt in my mind that in the vast ocean of anime garbage out there, there are a ton with infinitely better English.  There’s so much bargain-bin crap that that wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

Until next time, a quote,

“You sing off-key.” – Spike Spiegel, Cowboy Bebop

Peace out,

Maverick

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Critical Examination: FLCL: Progressive and Terrible Anime Sequels

When I heard that a sequel was being made to one of my favorite anime, FLCL, you can imagine how skeptical I was.  A sequel?  Now?  The original series is almost two decades old.  Not to mention, what new ground could they possibly tread?  I was really confused about why this was being made, and the trailers for it didn’t help.  There was this itching sensation in the back of my mind that it was being made to cash in on nostalgia.  Another cash-grab anime.  That bothers me.  After having finally gotten to see it…fuck this series.

There’s a contention that has been going around the oldtaku community, and it’s one that I firmly agree with – anime will never be as good as it was roughly 10 to 15 years ago.  The glory days of this medium are long behind it, and modern anime is desperately trying to reclaim that glory.  Back then, there was a real sense of risk, and you had creative people doing things with no idea if they would work or not.  There were tons of passion projects from directors who loved this medium.  Now, we have glossy, safe, marketable garbage that is either PC to the point of boredom, or deliberately trying to cash in on the perv side of the medium.  That’s it.  The days of taking risks are long gone.

Another thing about modern anime is that they are now in this place where they want to make sequels to series that have long since passed or have no reason to continue.  Did you all know there is a third sequel to Code Geass?  I remember seeing that, and my first thought was – why?  What more could they possibly do with the plot?  It was over.  Lelouch had finally seen his plan of bringing about a peaceful world come to pass, and died in the process.  There is no good reason why the series would be back with him as a protagonist.  Britannia has been destroyed!  The knowledge of Geass is gone.  Only CC has it now.  Lelouch saw to that.  Everyone with direct knowledge of Geass has either been killed or brought under Zero’s control.  What else can they possibly do?

In all reality, it is going to be another cash-grab sequel, with none of the heart or charm of the original.  Much like, as I knew it would be, FLCL: Progressive.  This series sucked.  It absolutely sucked.  I think back to how much I love the original, and why I love it the way I do.  I think of how it was a passion project of a man who was the student of Hideyaki Anno, the creator of Evangelion.  He wanted to create something that was entirely different, take what he learned, but also let his creative team go buck-wild.  The fifth episode was directed by the same director who helmed Kill la Kill, so naturally it is action-packed and crazy.  There is a direct homage to South Park in one episode because that was a show the team was watching at the time.  The Pillows were featured because it was a band the show’s director liked and so he asked them if they would come and do the score.  Everything in the series was done to let the team go nuts and create a show entirely their own.  It was a passion project.  All the best series are, because a show without passion is a product trying to sell you something.

Meanwhile, what is the new series?  Well, it’s six episodes long.  Why?  Because the original!  It has The Pillows doing the music again.  Why?  Because the original!  Neat fact – it’s known in Japan that The Pillows have largely gone downhill, and it REALLY shows here.  The songs that are not retreads of stuff from the original series (the saddest thing in the world.  I mean, if you aren’t even going to be original, why not just use the original music?  With how hard this series banked on nostalgia, it might as well have used nothing but the original music) as mediocre and boring.  All the heart I could feel back in the day is gone.  There’s spastic animation.  Why?  Because the original!

What’s missing?  The heart.  FLCL was a series about growing up.  It had themes of youth, love, honesty, and yeah, sex.  The story of Naota and what happens when a crazy woman on a Vespa comes into his life is touching.  It takes me back to being that age and growing up.  Ironically enough, while I did watch this series as a kid, I loved it way more when I saw it as an adult.  Being able to watch the series with the hindsight of adulthood and think about my own journey to here makes it hit that much harder.  The plot isn’t especially deep, but it didn’t have to be.  This was a series about people and their growth over the course of the narrative.

The sequel, on the other hand, is loud, spastic, with mech combat and an animation style that couldn’t be more modern if it tried.  It can’t stand on its own.  This series works so hard to remind you about the original that it might as well beat you over the fucking head with it.  Anyone who wants to just watch this series as its own thing is wasted because it does callback after callback to the original.  Just so you know that this is why it’s here.  This series has no heart of its own.  It practically advertises that it only cares about cashing in on nostalgia.

There are so many terrible sequels to great anime.  The second season of both Darker Than Black and Psycho-Pass are great examples.  Both of those were just sequels made because they could.  All of the creative energy that made the first season great was all gone.  These were just coasting on name recognition until you didn’t care anymore.  There’s something to be said for knowing where to end a series.  Guess nobody told them that.  Oh, and they made a sequel to Steins;Gate.  It at least has the voices of the original.  But also none of the heart.

I’ve talked before about how Hollywood is out of ideas.  I’m starting to think that anime is too.  It’s gotten into the sequel cash-grab game.  Making things not because they want to, but because they think it will make them money on the die-hard audience.  That depresses me to no end.  FLCL: Progressive isn’t just bad.  It’s Disney sequel bad.  Hell, I would compare it to the very worst of the Disney sequel garbage.  If anything, just like the terrible remakes and reboots in Hollywood, it just makes me love the original so much more.  While I can feel the heart and passion that series had, this just is.  And that, more than anything, is why it sucks so bad.  A story that didn’t need to be told, without a single character you can actually care about, and a plot that is even less engaging than the original.  That’s how bad this is.

The lesson here – don’t make a sequel if you don’t fucking care!

Until next time, a quote,

“Let’s be honest – soon all anybody is gonna know about ‘Ghostbusters’ is the original.  This will be forgotten.” – Rich Evans

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: Anime Cheese in the Wrong Place

I’ve spoken at length about how I hate modern anime.  There are so many shows being made now, and they all pretty much universally suck.  The glory days of anime are long behind it, in my eyes.  Call me a hipster (I’m starting to accept that in some ways I kind of am one), but I think anime was destroyed by its own success.  Once it gained mainstream popularity (or at least infinitely more mainstream than it used to be), or rather became part of geek culture, it all went downhill from there.  The truly great anime from not that long ago became something that they wanted to recapture, but the problem is that animation studios are having to push out commercially successful shows with higher budgets and shorter production time.  It’s put terrible strain on animation studios and their employees that I genuinely feel sad about.

Wow that was a digression, wasn’t it.  My point is, I don’t think much of modern anime.  But my gay girly-mate has this new series that she is all over, and since FUNimation does this thing where they will simultaneously release dubs and subs at the same time (I refuse to watch subs anime.  I can watch subtitled foreign films all day, but I genuinely refuse to do so with anime.  So if the dub sucks, I’m done), she has forced me to partake in this series with her.  Won’t say what it is.  It’s one of her guilty pleasures, and that’s all I’m going to say.  I swear, the girl is punishing me for something.  Can’t think of what.

This series isn’t bad on a technical level.  The animation is actually pretty great.  It has this nice realistic aesthetic that I am kind of digging.  The perk of modern animation being glossy and realistic is that it gives series a quality of feeling true to life that old-school anime never really had without insane detail.  Now proper shading and less expressive faces give environments and character designs something that feels true to life.  Like this is someone you can get to know in the real world.  The best friend character is my favorite so far.

But the design of these characters being less over the top and toned down expressively means that when this series has some of the cheese that anime is known for, it stands out to me in a bad way.  A very bad way.  You have a character whose entire visual design is not at all bombastic suddenly going into a ridiculous expression that feels so out of place given the art style.  Every time it happens it feels kind of wrong.  I genuinely don’t know what this bothers me so much, but it does.

Let me give you a way to look at this that is more relatable.  You like Quentin Tarantino, right?  Of course you do.  Well imagine for a second that in Reservoir Dogs it cut to some scenery-chewing villain doing a song number.  Or if the characters with their perfect dialogue and delivery started suddenly going really over the top at the drop of a hat, only to then go back to their perfectly done dialogue again without acknowledging that at all.  Would that not catch your attention in a bad way?  It would me.

I have had a thousand people tell me that I over-analyze stuff, so if you’re going to come at me with that, don’t.  Trust me, I already know.  It just really weirds me out to have stuff like that going on when the scene is being played fairly straight.  And this series does.  It plays everything completely straight until you cut to some cheese right the fuck out of nowhere.  I will admit that my girly-mate’s series is starting to grow on me just because these characters are relatable in a good way.  At least the best friend is.  I love this chick.  Her commentary on the events transpiring around her is just the best.  This girl is basically me as a female.  Standing on the sidelines of the madness and then commenting on what she sees in a way that cuts all the bullshit out.

But like I said, this may just be me.  So what about you?  Am I on to something here, or am I totally off-base.  Maybe I can give this to you a different way – imagine in Cowboy Bebop if Spike suddenly did that silly crying face.  Or if Jet Black and the suddenly revelation face where his eyes go all huge and white.  Would that not bother you?  It’s so tonally dissident from everything else.  I don’t know.  If you are going to go with a more laid-back tone, that’s totally fine.  Hell, I dig it.  But go the distance with that.  If you want to show a character being shocked at learning something, you can do that with realistic expression.  If you want to have a motif, stick with it.  That’s all I’m saying.

Until next time, a quote,

“Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world.” – Jean Luc Godard

Peace out,

Maverick

My Romantic Movie Night

Just got done watching Garden of Words.  The animation in that film is absolutely stunning.  It is a visual masterpiece.  Thought about doing a review of it, but I figured that I haven’t written anything of substance on this page in a while.  Honestly haven’t had much that inspires me to write about.  I could write about Trump’s latest idiocy, but that’s done by the entire fucking media.  To be fair, he doesn’t make it hard.  How are people saying that America didn’t elect its first female President?  Sure looks that way to me.  We elected an oversized teenage girl into the Presidency.  The glass ceiling has been broken!

But back to the film, it may have been a visual masterpiece, but I kind of hate it.  Hear me out – it all comes down to the ending.  There’s no resolution!  You have this scene where the underage kid reveals to the woman who he has bonded with when he finally figures out who she is that he’s in love with her.  She totally shoots him down.  It’s a harsh scene.  I felt so hard for that kid.  Throwing your heart out and then getting it thrown in your face is hard.  Then the adult woman who he admitted his feelings for realizes that she has feelings for him too and goes after the kid.  It’s a truly fantastic scene when they meet and the kid is all sad and angry and rails on her, only for her to run into his arms.  I love that scene.  It’s some truly amazing payoff and the voice acting is phenomenal.  It’s a testament to the people who made it.

Then she leaves!  The two are apart and that’s it.  Come on!  Now, I get that this would be a little weird, considering the fact that she’s 27 years old and he’s 15.  But better films have made this work.  Why have her leave?  Maybe have the two admitting how they feel but also acknowledging that they can’t be together because of the age gap and have them realizing that they will have to wait a little bit.  That’s an acknowledgement of reality while still having them looking to keep their feelings alive.  It would have been much more fulfilling if the film ended with her finding a life close to the person she loves, and having him giving her the shoes he had been making the whole film to her at the end.  Like a kind of promise.  Wouldn’t that have been more fulfilling?

See, here’s the thing about me – I’m a hardcore closet romantic.  When I watch FLCL, I feel a genuine tinge for the kid when he is falling for an older woman.  It’s funny, American media bitches about how the idea of a younger man dating an older woman is so frowned upon.  Japan certainly doesn’t shy away from an age difference with boys and women.  What’s more, they also make it respectable.  Sure, there is plenty of fan service for busty older women that young horny boys are into, but in both Garden of Words and FLCL, they play it as these women being genuine people with the boys discovering their romantic identity with them.  In both cases, it makes for some great scenes.  But while FLCL played it off that the kid falling for the older girl was a metaphor for him growing up and accepting who he is, Garden of Words played the romantic angle straight.  Which makes it that much more frustrating when the film ends on a sour note for no good fucking reason.

I really am bad about it.  When I watch the scene in Stein’s Gate when Christina and Okarin admit their feelings for each other, I judge that scene harshly as well.  It’s a great scene, but it could have been better.  For starters, the music in there is terrible.  It’s distractingly bad.  The scene would have been better served if there was no music at all.  Would have added to the emotional gravity as well, considering the fact that Okarin was about to let the woman he just admitted that he loves die.  Genuinely would have loved that scene more.  Also, get rid of the narration by Christina.  It added nothing.  Just quiet.  Have the rain be the biggest sound, with a few seconds for the audience to take in the cruel irony of what was happening with these two characters.

Anytime I see romantic scenes in stuff I like, I typically get all butterflies, while secretly seeing ways the scene could be better and really make me all warm and buttery about it.  Am I the only one?  No joke, someone in the comments, tell me if I am fucking crazy here.  So many great romantic scenes in movies are ruined because of bad details.  Used a lot of anime references.  What can I say, they tend to play romance a lot better than sappy love stories in American cinema.  That’s not to say that it isn’t done well in other mediums.  In the French film Blue is the Warmest Color, I feel genuine heartbreak as Adele is first introduced to the truth about her sexuality with a classmate, only for her feelings to be totally crushed when she realizes it was just a one-off thing and not a sign of true attraction.  The tears on her face seemed genuine.

I guess it’s a sign of me getting older.  As the years on my birthday cake grow, and my time having been single grows, I feel more and more of it.  But no one who sees me in person will know that.  My cynicism is well-known to those who speak to me.  Groj knows, I’ve made no secret of it here.  Deep down, though, there is that part of me that secretly longs to have that moment where I meet a girl at a place I regularly go and then strike up a conversation and something grows between us.  A man can dream, right?  Granted, everyone goes to bars to meet people these days.  I go to bookstores and walks around my home.  Not a lot of places for romance.  But hey, it can happen, right?

What about all of you?  What romantic scenes from stuff (I swear, if someone says The Notebook I’m gonna virtually smack you.  That movie is fucking terrible) have made you all warm and buttery inside?  Let me know in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“I love you.  I can’t help it.  Yukino, I think I’ve fallen in love with you.” – Takao Akizuki, The Garden of Words

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Death Note (2017)

Fuck this movie.  Fuck this fucking movie right up its ass.  This is the worst.  The absolute worst.  How terrible the live-action Japanese versions were should have been a big clue as to why this film wasn’t going to work.  The insanely over-the-top nature of the anime does NOT translate well into film.  So when you combine that with TERRIBLE American writers and a director who clearly has no talent for directing, then you end up with this pile of shit.  Yet-another anime adaptation to add to the pile.  Can whoever posed the idea of Akira being adapted into American take a fucking clue from this?!  They’re all bad!  Every last American adaptation has sucked, without a SINGLE exception.  Just like every video game adaptation has sucked.  When will Hollywood learn?  Wait, this wasn’t Hollywood’s fuck-up.  This was Netflix’s fuck-up.  I don’t have streaming here, but a friend invited me over to see it, and holy shit, it’s bad.  I hate when things I love get turned into shitty adaptations, and this was no exception.  There is so much to talk about, so let’s get to it.

The plot goes that Light…Turner (fuck that name) has the Death Note given to him by Ryuk.  That’s right, instead of Ryuk being bored one day in Shinigami Land and sending the book to Earth not caring who picked it up, in this version he gives it to Light and implies that he is the chosen one.  One of the many ways they fuck over EVERY SINGLE character in this film.  But instead of seeing this book as a way for him to create a world dedicated to his own personal sense of justice and becoming a genocidal monster in the process, Light decides that he’s going to impress a girl!  That’s right, instead of his character being a genius whose sense of morality becomes a twisted nightmare, he’s a pathetic high school loser who wants it is implied is just being used.  More on that later.  Then we get a dumbed-down version of L who is going to stop him.  Who wins?  Do you care?  If you do, you really haven’t been paying attention.

Nothing in this movie is good, aside from Willem Dafoe’s voicework as Ryuk.  Speaking of, let’s go into how every single character is fucked over.  So many people are going to say “it’s an adaptation!  You shouldn’t compare it to the original!”  Yeah?  Well then change the fucking name!  Light is turned from a genius who decides he is going to become a God under the assumed name of Kira into a pathetic angst-y teenager who is almost-certainly being led around with no agency of his own.  Whether it be Mia (their terrible version of Misa), or Ryuk, he always seems to be on someone else’s leash.  Did the idiot who directed this even see the anime?  Fuck this movie.  Light is not some brilliant mastermind.  In the anime, he is a calculating genius, who makes every move according to a plot to best the greatest detective of all time.  Every relationship in his life is part of a calculation, along with everything he ever does.  Part of what makes him so compelling as a character is how his urge to become a god ends up destroying the lives of every single person he touches, and he by the end he laughs his ass off about it.  In the film, he’s a pathetic pawn being used by pretty much everyone around him.  All of the brilliance of the cat-and-mouse game between him and L is gone.

Oh, let’s talk about L.  Do I care that they made him black?  Not even a little.  What I care about is the fact that they made him so pathetic.  I guess the director saw how he is in the anime and took that to mean that he isn’t socially awkward in the extreme and on the autism spectrum.  In this film, they decide to him him so pathetic that he has to have a song played to him to fall asleep.  This version of the character is pathetic.  That’s the only word for it.  You never sense this genius mind clouding a sense of detachment, which makes him believing that he is making a connection with Light so tragic.  He believed he had found a friend, and at the very end he realizes that he was just being used by Light.  In his last moment, he looks into Light’s eyes and sees that it was all a lie, and him and his companion died for it.  There are plenty of ways this character could have been 1000X better and been black.  The color of his skin had NOTHING to do with how pathetic and stupid this character was.  If anything, this actor is very competent.  I bet with better writing, he could have sold this a lot better.

Then there’s Mia.  A spin on the Misa character from the anime, here they make her out to be something of a force acting on Light, compelling him to do bad things with the Death Note.  Because we can’t have any of the morally gray stuff from the anime.  Everything has to be clearly black and white.  Fuck this movie.  The fact that so much of what initially makes Light use the Death Note is to please her just irks me.  In the anime, she was an insane groupie of Kira.  She was in love with him and would do anything, absolutely anything to please him.  To the point that she cut her own lifespan in half to get the Shinigami eyes.  But in the end, she realizes that she was used, just like everyone else, and it’s implied that she kills herself.  Another of those relationships that were nothing but a tool to Light and nothing more.  Can’t have that morally gray stuff in the film.  Doesn’t help that this chick acted like she should be in a sitcom.  Ugh.

Let’s talk about Ryuk.  Do you like Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin voice?  Well, he does okay with it here, so you can enjoy his vocal performance.  But here’s what pisses me off – in the anime, Ryuk isn’t on Light’s side.  He isn’t on anyone’s side.  When Light’s gambit is up, and he reaches out to Ryuk to help him, he outright says that he won’t.  Early on in the series, he helps Light out, not out of a sense of loyalty, but because he finds the game that’s going on interesting and realizes that if he doesn’t tell Light about the security cameras in his room, the game will end abruptly.  In the film, he’s painted as seeing Light as the chosen killer, and even compels him to do things.  Once-again, you can’t have all that morally gray stuff about Light seeing himself as a god and believing his genocidal rampage as a way to express that.  That might make audiences question who is the good guy.  We gotta see our protagonist as virtuous at all times.

Oh, and then there’s the book itself.  In the anime, Kira’s chosen method of killing is heart attacks.  There’s a reason – to show that these people are being killed and it’s him doing the killing.  It’s a way to spread the fear all over the world because no one knows who would be killed next.  In the movie, the vast majority of deaths are done through these Rube Goldberg machine ways of dying that REALLY make me think back to the Final Destination ways of dying.  It’s like the film wanted to show off the gore.  Funny, they want to have violent deaths, but no moral ambiguity.  The exact opposite of the show, which had very contained deaths, but a TON of moral ambiguity.  I guess someone assumed American audiences can’t handle that.  Fuck this movie.

As a fan of the anime, this film spits in the face of everything that made it great.  But let’s take that away.  Let’s pretend that the anime that this director halfheartedly riffed on never existed.  This film still sucks.  The performances are boring.  The motivations make no sense.  I’ll give that Light in the anime went from zero to Little Hitler in the span of a few moments.  But the series took the time to explain why he had this viewpoint.  Plus, there was the moral ambiguity of the battle between Light and L, where the body count gets higher and higher, and the audience is left wondering if either one is a truly good person.  In this film, the motivation is that Light is being manipulated by the people around him, with little agency of his own.  That’s boring!  Give me a reason to care why he’s so evil.  L is also a bad character, written to be so incapable of surviving on his own that he has to be taken care of.

I hate this movie, and can someone please make a note somewhere that American adaptation of anime don’t work so we can stop it, already?!

Final Verdict
2 out 10

Peace out,

Maverick

RAB: Anime Needs More Sex (the intimate kind, not porn)

You know what I hate about anime – modern anime.  There is so much shit.  I don’t even keep track of what comes out anymore because 99% of it is pure crap.  I can hear all the sad otaku now.  “You’re just one of those hipster anime fans who say they only like old stuff!”  “Lemme guess, you only like artsy anime?”  Please.  I’m looking at one of the most thematically uncomfortable anime on the planet right now – Koi Kaze.  Am I a hipster?  I guess.  I long for the days when anime was made by fantastic people and was willing to take some risks.  I miss the days of mecha anime.  No shit, what happened to that?  I haven’t heard about an interesting mecha series in forever.  I hear they are making a third season to Code Geass, and I’m like – why?  The plot was wrapped up pretty nicely.  There wasn’t a single loose end.  Brittania was destroyed.  Lelouch united the world in hating him.  He canonized Zero as a hero of the people.  The truth about Geass was now gone and everyone who had heard it was dead or had been forcibly put under Zero’s control.  Where does the plot go from here?  Wait, what was I talking about?

Oh, right, anime needs more sex too.  I’m not talking about porn.  I’m talking about intimacy.  I’m talking about intimate relationships between characters that has them doing the deed and making it not gratuitous but instead a look at the strength of their connection.  I am so tired of anime that treats any form of romantic expression as if it’s the most daring and insane thing ever.  Maybe it’s because almost all anime have a protagonist whose balls haven’t dropped yet.  At least not that you could tell.  So many relationships in so many anime could have been made better if we got to see some romantic expression in the form of intimacy between characters.

I can already hear the counterargument – “but Lucien, it’s about the thematic elements!  You can feel the connection but it doesn’t need to be shoved in your face!”  Sometimes, sure.  I mean, FLCL had a romantic connection between the main protagonist and his roommate.  He was romantically interested in her.  There even is an episode where him and her do the metaphorical deed.  You don’t see anything, but the theme at play with two people coming together and doing it is right there.  It works especially there because the protagonists is underage.  Seeing him actually pursuining his roomie romantically would have been weird.  But other series could use more of it.

Here’s the thing, I absolutely hated the Rahxephon movie, save for one truly stand-out part – where Kamina is absolutely losing it and Haruka decides to comfort him.  There is a moment of genuine intimacy where he decides that he can’t hold back, and so he actually does it with her.  They even have a conversation after having sex and you really feel the two bonding.  I love that.  How I wish that more anime was able to just have two characters lounging around after fucking and musing about whatever.  Sharing a sexual moment and bonding afterwards.  How many of us have actually been there?  Some of the best conversations I have had were with someone I was in bed with.  Or in the back of a girl’s car.  Wherever.

It’s becoming such an overused trope where every time a boy sees a girl in an anime that he is interested in or even dating in their underwear it is treated like the most scandalous thing.  Why?  I mean, if it’s some girl you aren’t dating, that makes some sense.  But when I see it done with characters who are couples, that drives me up on the wall.  What if she wants him to see her in her underwear?  Why do all the women in these series act like being seen in their fun clothes as such an insult?  If the guy is being a perv, absolutely.  If the dude just happened up on it, though, how is that on him?  I see all these beta males getting fucked up by the females all for seeing something completely on accident, often with them making apologies for their actions because they do feel ashamed for it.

I’m not saying that every series need to have characters fucking.  Since so much of anime is about teenagers, that is kinda weird.  But when I was watching the first (and only good) season of Darker Than Black, I got to thinking – wouldn’t it make more sense for these two characters actually liking each other if they were hooking up?  I mean, she’s a police officer, he’s a college student.  It would make sense if they went out and hooked up and maybe got to talking.  We are supposed to buy a relationship between them out of them going out and playing in the batting cages?  I don’t think so.  Call it my American sensibilities, but are we really going to say the Japanese don’t have any kind of casual sex culture?  Well, given that the population is starting to drop there and how the males of that culture are terrified of females, maybe.  Shit.  That’s grim.

Or like in Stein’s Gate, where you have Okarin and his companion making out.  It’s a great scene (aside from the TERRIBLE music in it.  It honestly would have been better without it), but I kinda would have liked to see maybe the two having a heart-to-heart after getting physical.  There was a running line up ’til then about both of them being virgins.  How touching would it have been if they lost their virginity to one-another, right before Okarin has to sacrifice her to save his best friend?  I can see them just laying in bed, with that witty dialogue between the two about the cruel nature of life and how they have this one chance to bridge the gap between them and must savor it forever.  There is some subtle implication that that is what happened between the scene with them making out and later that evening as she is leaving, but I don’t know.  Kinda wanna know what those two talk about post-sex.  Bet it would be fascinating.

My point is can we have some more mature relationships, and get to see some of that be expressed?  I don’t want it to be obscene.  Unless that is being used to make a point.  Like a couple who has a very untethered and violent relationship.  Kind of the Joker and Harley sort of deal.  That could be interesting.  But can we not treat every kiss or seeing of a female in underwear like it is the end of the world?  I cannot wait to see the comments I get about how I am insulting Japanese culture or some dumb thing.

Until next time, a quote,

“Intimacy brings understanding.  And passion is nice wherever you can find it.” – Yeoman Kelly Chambers, Mass Effect 2

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Wolf Children

wolf-childrenI honestly should have reviewed this movie on Mother’s Day.  It is the most fitting time of year for it.  Alas, I ordered this movie now, and it arrived when it did.  If there was ever a film that will make you appreciate your mother more than this, I can’t honestly think of it.  Especially if she was a single mother.  Of course, it is from the visionary director of Summer Wars, a movie that made a big family feel like real people.  It is not only my favorite film by Mamoro Hasoda, but also one of my favorite films of all time.  While this isn’t as good as that, it is still a feel-good film that will touch your heart.  Take my word for it.

Just like Summer Wars, this is a film that combines surreal elements with very realistic family ones.  It tells the story of a girl who meets a boy.  The two fall in love, but the boy has a secret.  One that he passes on to their very special children.  But then he is gone, and now the mother is on her own to raise these two pups and try to maintain a normal life.  What follows is the tale of her very, very difficult life with these two young ones.  Not a complicated story, but it is ALL in the execution.

Talking about the animation in this film is a complete waste of time.  Anime films are almost-uniformly beautiful, and this one is no exception.  It is a gorgeous film to look at and every shot is near-perfect.  The voice-acting is top-notch as well.  The stand-out role is the mother.  I just love how subdued her performance is.  All of her best moments are subtle, and you have to be paying attention to find them.  Like where she is with her daughter and just has a line about wishing their father had taught her how to deal with things.  It’s powerful because it conveys how powerless and lonely she feels, having to stay away from all life except that of her two special children.  But that’s not to say that the rest of the cast isn’t fantastic.

Summer Wars was about family and staying connected.  Wolf Children is about community.  And the rest of the community are fantastic.  Just like the family in the other film, they all have their own personalities and getting to know them is part of the fun.  Plus, it helps show the growth of the mother as she comes to accept that there is a place in the world for her special family.  My favorite of the neighbors is the asshole old man.  He’s such a cliche, but man is it in how you execute it.  He’s such an asshole, but as you peel away the layers you find that there is a man with compassion like you’ve never seen.

Thing was, I never really got to know what this sort of life was like.  I grew up in a place where pretty much everyone around me was family.  For most of my childhood, I would go from one family member to the next.  My favorite one to hang with was my grandma.  Maybe that’s why I love Summer Wars so much.  But I have wondered what tight-knight communities are like.  When I get out of this state, perhaps I’ll find out.  City life is so damn lonely.  The jobs are here, but there’s no sense of belonging.  This city is such a poor place.  Jobs are here, but they don’t pay well, and poverty is rampant.  It sucks, and I honestly am growing to hate it more and more.  Once I am out of here, the goal is some little seaside community, hopefully on the west coast.  Man, there was a digression.

As I said, the biggest character you grow to like is the mother.  Everything about her character, from the animation to the voice acting portrays a woman trying so damn hard and having life often be very unkind to her and her tiny tag-alongs.  While we’re at it, let’s talk about the kids.  Child characters in anime often annoy.  And I’m not gonna lie, these kids do too.  But here’s the thing about these kids annoying me that other kids don’t – it’s because they feel like real kids.  And I don’t like children.  Don’t want any of my own, and it’s looking like I will get my wish on that end, since my personal life is a dead heap of broken dreams.  I actually dislike these characters because they feel like the kinds of kids who would be bothering me when I am hanging with the adults.  Kids like me.  It’s strange.  Maybe because I am a giant.  Yeah, I get the feeling that’s it.

All things considered, I do love this movie.  It isn’t one of my favorite anime films, but it is a movie that I can just put on to feel good with.  This movie will make you smile.  It will make you cry.  It will also make you want to call your mother and be nice to her.  Hopefully you all love it too.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick