Wednesday, March 25, 2009

MxO


As I said in my review on They Were Eleven, I’ll be doing a manga this time. I decided to not only do my first Manga review but my first negative review as well. When I thought of this the first series that came to mind was the little known series called MxO.
MxO is a series about a young boy named Taiga Kuzumi who (after being denied acceptance) brakes into a school. But this is no ordinary school. It’s a magical school called Seinagi Private High School. Incase your wondering, your not the only one who thinks that this is Harry Potter. When he gets in there he finds that the people there can use magic and ends up getting into a fight with the whole school. After some how beating all the students off and then fighting and beating a teacher by using magic. He get’s taken into the school. After this he falls head over heels for a girl named Aika Hiiragi who loves to laugh at corny jokes. As it goes on you learn that the only way for the students and teachers to use magic is if they have special cards that represents their rank and that they are on the school premise. For a weird reason that is explained in the series, Kuzumi is given a fake card that is made to look like a gold card (the highest ranking car) and is suppose to some how trick everyone into thinking that he is a great magician. He has to depend on smarts, skill, and luck to trick the whole student body. Also, this magical card (known as the MO card) has the hidden ability to negate any magic that he wishes.
Although I’m going to be giving MxO an over all bad review I’d like to say that it’s not all bad. I was at first (after the first few chapters) really enjoying this series. It had some funny moments, a few good action parts, and some interesting characters and goals. The only problem is that the series is cancelled before these goals are met, or the character conflicts are resolved. So picture reading a 99 chapter series that keeps saying that they’re building up to these big goals and events and what not, and next thing you know it’s over. It doesn’t really go down with the sweetest taste in your mouth.
Another fault of the series is the fact that in the ending they go into this long arc of him trying to advance his MO card. This is accomplished by a ghost having him climb a wall or something and if he does than he advances his card. Unfortunately for the writer this arc happens just before the end of the series. So nothing really comes from it.
Another negative for the series was the over use of moe characters. The series is crawling with them. But I guess this is to be expected from a modern Shounen series. An example of this is the fact that Kuzumi is, eventually, fallowed around by a little naked woman who has undying love for him. It’s enough to make Daryl Surat go blind with fury and destroy Yasukiro Kano.
I guess I should just rap this up already. I would say that this is an ok series to read up until chapter 70ish I guess. I would advice no one to ever read this to the end. It is an awful ending that made me stressed and over all pissed off for the next week or so. I felt like Inuyasha even had a better ending than this. That’s my review of MxO. Once again, I wish I could have given this an ok review, but I can’t. It was a waste of time. If they ever get a new ending some how then I’ll enjoy it.
Next time I’ll be reviewing one of my favorite mecha anime of all time. It’s a little OVA by the name of Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

They Were Eleven

This time I have decided to review the forgotten movie that is They Were Eleven. I have to say that this was a great movie. I’d like to say straight up that I would suggest this movie to anyone. But lets move on to the actual review.
They Were Eleven is a 1986 anime movie that was based on 1975 manga series. The story is about a group of 10… make that 11… people who have hopes of attending Cosmo Academy. This is known to be the hardest Academy to get accepted to, and for reason. They have to pass multiple tests and trials to get by. But the story focuses on the final test. In this exam the 11 people are sent out to an abandoned space craft and are told to survive there for 25 days with out help or contact from or to the outer world. Now the test was meant to be for 10 people, but when they arrive at the space craft they are shocked to find that there are 11 of them. Now that the suspicion has set in, the fun of the movie begins. From there it goes into allot of interesting plots. Showing how they become paranoid, delving into character development, and taking on social issues of the time.
The main character of the movie is a young man by the name of Tada. He was quite an interesting character. He at first seems like an average guy (aside from the fact that he’s a genius like all the others). But we soon learn that he’s even more unique then that. We, not so cleverly, learn that he was ESP. Also, we start to realize that he knows things about the ship that he shouldn’t. This of course makes his fellow crew members suspicious of him being the extra man (and there for a danger). Another key character of the movie is Frol. Frol is a woman (at least that’s what you can assume by the way she looks, even though she hates it) that has joined the test for personal reasons that are later brought up and discussed later in the movie. This is actually a very interesting part of the movie that I really don’t want to spoil. Another character is King Mayan Baceska. He is, as said in the name, a king of Aritosca Le. Unlike the others on the crew, he doesn’t have much of a reason for taking the test. He says that he has no intentions of going to the Academy and is merely taking this test to prove that he can. The reason that he is such an important character is because many people on the crew rally around him as a leader. This sometimes is problematic for Tada because King is very suspicious of him. He is quick to blame Tada and this causes a good amount of the conflicts of the movie. There are other characters that I’d like to get into like Ganga and Knu. But I’ll leave that to the movie. Over all this movie has some very interesting characters in it. The characters, in fact, are a big push of the movie. You really want to try and learn more about them and how they react in different situations.
Another interesting aspect, to say the least, of the movie is the dub. The reason it is so interesting is because Steven Jay Blum (he is listed under multiple names) is in it. And as if that wasn’t enough, he also plays about 4 or 5 characters. It’s actually entertaining to listen to the dub. You’ll hear Spike, Roger Smith, Kazuma, ext. They all pop up at some point in the movie. Another notable voice is that of Frol, who is played by Wendee Lee. Wendee Lee is probably best known for her work as Faye from Cowboy Bebop, but her list of rolls in anime and video games goes on and on and on. I really don’t want to try and make a list. Another person worth noting is Joe Romersa. Although he isn’t to often doing voices for big characters, he is going a lot of ADR and Digital Tracking work. He worked on such things as Ninja Scroll, 08th MS Team, Trigun, Black Jack, and Yu Yu Hakusho. He’s a man worth noting.
As for the staff, this is one of those situations were I wasn’t to into the majority of the staff. Most of the staff members haven’t really worked on any “notable” series or movies. Most of their other works are obscure and forgotten anime, lost to the pages of time. I’m not saying that they’re bad, I’m just saying that they aren’t any big hit staff members. The one really notable staff member is Junichi Higashi. He is a great art director and has worked on a lot of great stuff. Some of his works include Cowboy Bebop, Oh! Edo Rocket, Escaflowne (series and movie), G Gundam, and Speed Grapher. He’s a very accomplished person as you can tell.
Over all I really enjoyed this movie. It had an interesting story, it had good characters, and was directed well. I really don’t see why this is such an unknown movie. It seems like something the should get a lot more attention. But it seems to not be too big. I hope that this soon changes because it’s something that really deserves more notice and praise. I would suggest this to any anime fan or movie fan in general. It has a lot of aspects to it in terms of genres and subject matters. I really encourage more people to watch this one.
If you feel that this movie would interest you and would like to watch it or buy it then you’re in luck. The dvd is available on rightstuf for $7.49. Or you can always rent it from Netflix and see if you like it first. Well I hope you enjoy this movie and the review. Next time you can expect me to be reviewing a manga. I’m not sure which one yet but a manga none the less.

Friday, March 6, 2009

s-CRY-ed



This week I’ve decided to do a review of s-CRY-ed. Many of you might know this from the Adult Swim air in 2005. This is actually were I first discovered the series, and it quickly grow on me. I recently bought the whole series in its full box set for about $30 on rightstuf.com. So after watching it again I thought that this would be the perfect series to do my first review on.
s-Cry-ed first aired in 2001 on TV Tokyo. After that it was picked up by Bandai in 2003. No that we got those things out of the way; it’s on to the interesting stuff.
s-CRY-ed is about the story of people who were effected by the “Grate Up Rising”. This was a mysteries event that happened prier to the series. After this event a large amount of land was thrown into chaos and became known as “the lost ground”. Since that event 5% of the people born in the lost ground, become what is known as “Alter Users”. “Alter” is the ability to brake down matter and reconstruct it into a new form. Because of this unique ability and the dismal situation, there is allot of fighting and war in the lost grounds. So the government created a police force known as HOLD to control the situations in the lost grounds. But this wasn’t enough to fix the problems; they also had to create a group made up of Alter Users to combat rouge Alter Users. This group is known as HOLY. This is just some of the background info that is important to the series.
The main character of the series is a man named Kazuma the Shell Bullet (no real last name). He is a bad ass who doesn’t seem to care about anyone but himself. He is one of the rouge Alter Users that HOLY is so dedicated to fighting. But Kazuma seems to have no intentions of backing down to them, or anyone for that matter. His Alter power gives him the ability to turn his arm into a destruction machine that seems half magic and half robotic. Using his Alter power his friend, Kunihiko Kimishima, and him take dangerous jobs and missions to get money. Although Kimishima is simply trying to get enough money to live on, Kazuma seems to have a bit more of a sentimental reason to get money. He’s trying to get money to support him and a young girl by the name of Kanami Yuta. Their relationship is never really explained or talked about much. It’s done in such a way that you understand that they are very close, but your not a hundred percent sure why. Kanami has a habit of calling Kazuma “Kazu-kun”, and seems to be the only person that he’ll listen to. An interesting aspect about Kanami is the fact that she always seems to have dreams of Kazuma while he’s fighting. This creates an interesting dialog for the character development of Kazuma.
Another important character is a man by the name of Ryuhou. He is a Alter User who work for HOLY and quickly becomes Kazuma’s rival. Ryuhou’s Alter takes the form of Zetsuei. This is a being that is separate from him and has a some what Human form to it. Ryuhou’s alter is known as being one of the strongest in HOLY. After an encounter with Kazuma, their hatred for each other seems to grow throughout the series. It leads to an interesting rivalry that gives the show a strong driving force behind it. But Ryuhou isn’t just a HOLY member, he is also a ‘player’ if you will. He has the love of two young ladies. One by the name of Mimori Kiryu, and the other by the name of Scheris Adjani. Mimori Kiryu is a girl from the mainland that came to the lost grounds to find Ryuhou and study Alter Users. And Scheris Adjani is a young Alter User who’s powers remain a mystery for a large portion of the series. She seems to have an infinity for Ryuhou for some reason, this is also not explained until later on.
Another character that I just have to bring up is Straight Cougar. This is my favorite character of the series. He is an Alter User for HOLY who seems to know more than he should, and he’s cocky as hell. His Alter ability is known as “Radical Good Speed”. As the title of it says, it involves speed, lots and lots of speed. He is part romantic, part fighter, part preacher, and part jester. He is a great character.
Now if you’re watching the series and start thinking “for some reason this seems to remind me of Code Geass.” Well you’re not alone; when I first watched Code Geass all I could think was that something about it reminded me of s-CRY-ed. So I looked into it, and found allot of reasons for them to be similar. First up is the director of s-CRY-ed. His name is Goro Taniguchi, but he is better known for his work with Code Geass. He was the original creator of Code Geass and the director. Another important, and obvious, similarity is that Kotaro Nakagawa did the music for both series (although I like the s-CRY-ed music better). I was quite relieved to see that I wasn’t just being paranoid and that my suspicions were confirmed.
The great thing about this series is the action in it. Every episode it’s up to Kazuma to fight another Alter User and beat the crap out of them. As the series goes on the powers just get crazier and crazier. It seems like the writers were just trying to one up each other to see who could create the most bad ass Alter Power out there. Some of the powers can be simple, like a giant gun. While others are more unique, like the ability to turn things into water. This large rang of powers makes the series that more interesting. You never know what kind of crazy fight there’s going to be next.
Other thing that’s so great about this series is all of the anime clich├ęs that they use. One that I really enjoyed was the episode that was made to be a tribute to old super robot series. In this episode (trying not to spoil anything) an Alter User has the power to create a giant robot that is complete with transforming abilities and crazy finishing moves. Another kind of “wink wink, nudge nudge” in this series is that of harem. In the series on Alter User’s ability allows him to create living puppets to his liking. He creates 3 ladies who serve him no matter what, he seems to do this because of his lack of success with real women and his over sized ego. It might not have been an intentional reference to harem series but I saw it. It also seems like Goro Taniguchi might have got his ideas of how to portray Ashferd Academy from this series. One episode of the series completely takes place in HOLY. It starts to be allot like the Ashferd Academy scenes from Code Geass. It’s complete with mellow drama and cheesy comedy moments. Of course this is all for a reason, but I don’t want to explain that because it would be a spoiler. You’ll just have to watch it.
Another thing that I’d like to talk about is the dub used in this series. This had an amazing cast for the English dub. For Kazuma we had my favorite voice actor of all time Steven Jay Blum (Spike from Cowboy Bebop, Roger Smith from Big O, Kyoshiro Tohdoh from Code Geass, Marj Gueldoa from Macross Plus, ext.). Then we had Crispin Freeman (Togusa from Ghost in the Shell, Jeremiah Gottwald from Code Geass, Tabool from Now and Then Here and There, Alan Gabriel from Big O, ext. He also did allot of ADR scripting and directing.) playing Straight Cougar. Those alone make it a great dub for me, but there are plenty of other great voice actors who worked on this series.
Over all I’d say that I really enjoyed this series. I wouldn’t put it on my top 10 list or anything like that, but it’s a very entertaining series. It’s got good character development, good directing, good action, and a good story. I don’t see any reason not to watch s-CRY-ed. I have to say that it’s well worth the money to buy it. Right now there is an Anime Legends box set that runs for about $50. But I would say that the better deal is in the s-CRY-ed complete collection, which is being sold for about $30 at rightstuf.com. Now sure, if they wanted me to pay $60+ then I wouldn’t have even bothered. But after seeing that it was so cheap, I couldn’t help myself. I would suggest this series for anyone who is looking for a good, cheap, action series.
So there is my first review. I would really like some feed back form who ever might be reading this. Also, if you have any question please feel free to ask. I’d like to thank you for reading my first review, and I hope you continue to come back.