I finally received my School Rumble Starter Set yesterday. Rumor mill had some bad things to say about my main reason for purchasing FUNimation titles. Sadly, that was true.
I'll start with the neat. The collectors tin is cleverly shaped as a locker. Since I have a display case, that's where it will ultimately reside I suppose. Within the locker was the first volume DVD and a 6-page "yearbook" (not counting the cover pages). While the various English signings mean nothing to me (I'm guessing dub fans will enjoy those though), the roster of current characters is neat, though the names are in western order and there are several characters missing which will show up down the road (I think they all should have been there, but what do I know?).
Within the DVD case was a magnet sheet containing Eri, Harima, Karasuma, Akira, Tenma, and Mikoto. Also, a magnet for the title of the series was included. I didn't expect that, but hey, I won't complain.
As to the DVD, it contains the first five episodes of the series. That's a good thing. I haven't looked to see what the rest of the breakdown will be though, so I don't know if any of the remaining DVD's will contain the five-episode count or not. Each episode has the original prolog warning viewers to watch the title in a well-lit room. That's cool because I so rarely see them on DVD's. The DVD contains some extras that I wasn't expecting either, namely an interview with Tenma's seiyuu KOSHIMIZU Ami and Yakumo's seiyuu NOTO Mamiko. Those are always welcome to me.
Since I don't watch English dubs, I have no comment there. However, I have to say that FUNimation fails on the subtitles. No, don't go blaming Tomato because he didn't work on the series, nor did any of FUNimation's stable of translators. Instead, FUNimation outsourced all the translation work for volume 1 to JN Productions. They've done translation work for FUNimation before, but NOT for the subtitles (it was posted on FUNimation's forums that they have a translator credit for Desert Punk, but since Tomato did those subtitles, they must have just been the translator for the dubs). This time they do the subtitles and my main reason for buying FUNimation DVD's got flushed down the toilet -- Japanese honorifics. FUNimation has almost always been great about including all honorifics for their licensed titles (save Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid which was subtitled by ADV and Slayers which for whatever bizarro reason, they had to use CPM's original and not so good subtitles).
I guess JN Productions attended the ADV school of honorifics because only "chan" survives most of the time, but it is ignored as well from time-to-time. Somehow, "senpai" survives as well (I was shocked.). The "san" honorific is force-translated in the subtitles or outright ignored and it is an important thing in episode 5 where Itoko-san demands Harima use "san" when addressing her (which is proper in Japan) but this goes against his bad-boy image. They try to make it work with the "Miss" translation, but remember, these two are cousins and which of your female cousins do you call "Miss?" None I'm betting.
The "kun" honorific is ignored because the translator can't come up with a forced translation, so we'll just pretend it isn't there. "Sensei" is either "Teacher" or "Ms" or "Mr." Ugh. Make me wretch.
I know some Japanese jokes aren't handled well. Because the translators insisted on domesticating the display of Japanese names (meaning, they displayed them western style rather than Japanese style with the family name first), we now have "Kenji Harima" instead of the proper "HARIMA Kenji." What's wrong with that? Well, in the first episode, Harima-kun is looking for his name when Yoshidayama gives him bad information (on purpose) based on seeing the name "Harry McKenzie" (in Katakana of course, not in English) on the board. Its a word pun. Instead, good old JN Productions actually translate it at "Kenji Harima." So not only is the joke blown, they don't even get the blasted name right. Harry McKenzie is a character who will show up in later episodes, so JN Productions shows that while they may read and understand Japanese, they have never even heard of School Rumble and don't care about doing things right.
Seriously, I hope that FUNimation doesn't plan to do the entire series with these losers. It was completely disappointing and irritating for this hardcore fan. Look to Del Rey to see how it should have been done (save for the kappa jokes, which I felt Del Rey didn't do right but that's a minor complaint).
Bottom line: Had FUNimation given me the normal high-quality subtitles, this would have been awesome. As it is, the subtitle problems are going to annoy hardcore fans like myself who are used to quality and a Japanese perspective without losing readability.
Friday, August 31, 2007
I finally received my School Rumble Starter Set yesterday. Rumor mill had some bad things to say about my main reason for purchasing FUNimation titles. Sadly, that was true.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Hayate the Combat Butler 22
SPOILER Summary: Hayate trains for his ultimate attack, leaving Nagi bored and a tad lonely, though she'd never admit it. She's also annoyed that Hina-chan was one of the reasons that Hayate wanted to learn an ultimate attack. She decides to amuse herself by reading some manga as Hayate returns and learns the situation from Maria-san. Nagi finds a fishing manga and decides a trip to Lake Sanzenin on the estate is in order.
Hayate, Nagi, and Maria-san head to the lake where Maria-san is completely into this with outfit and all. She and Hayate have no trouble catching any fish but Nagi continues to lose her rod and reel in the lake. She decides to take Hayate out on the boat and gets all flushed as Hayate holds her. He's doing it to make sure she doesn't fall into the water, but she thinks romantic thoughts. When she gets a bite from the "king of the lake" fish, they end up getting tossed out anyway. Arriving on shore, they find Maria-san enjoying a canned coffee, having landed the monster fish.
Nagi goes to a tub where Maria-san washes her hair while Hayate heads for the indoor onsen. Maria-san learns of yet another misunderstanding from Nagi regarding Hayate while Hayate reflects on the joys of the bath. When someone enters, he wonders if it might be Maria-san. However, it is only Tama. Tama decides the bath isn't hot enough, but when he tries to press the button to activate the heat, he breaks it instead. This brings Maria-san running, who gets a good look at Hayate's manhood, leading to great embarrassment on his part.
Hayate is depressed and when Nagi sees this, she thinks it is because of how cold she was to him during the day. She goes off to do something to cheer him up while Tama joins up with Hayate and they decide to repair the bath. However, Tama again breaks things as he only has paws instead of fingers and with Maria-san caught up in the explosion of water, Hayate has to rescue her. After crashing through a wall and onto the yard of the mansion, Maria ends up comforting the depressed butler as Nagi approaches. The two accidentally trip with Hayate landing on top of Maria-san. This makes Nagi very jealous, as she turns a firework she'd purchased into a bazooka and fires it at Hayate.
Thoughts: Another fun, funny episode. I enjoyed the fishing story, but it was the 2nd-half dealing with baths, boiler, Tama and Hayate that was the funniest to me.
References: As always, let me know what I missed.
- The shirt Hayate wears as the episode starts says "Namidabashi." I'm looking for some more information here. Considering this was a fishing episode, there is a Namidabashi who appeared in a Pocket Monster Battle Frontier in the episode "The Lake of Hakuryuu!", which was also a fishing episode. Whether the two are linked, I can't say.
- This is pretty obvious, but the bleeped names Hayate mentions when she watches Hayate train are Rocky and Adrian from Rocky! The reference to him being a 60-year old boxer no doubt is a reference to Sylvester Stalone's being nearly 60 when Rocky Balboa was filmed.
- When Klaus arrives, the bleeped reference he makes after Hayate mentions being bored is the SOS-dan (SOS Brigade), which is the group Haruhi formed after being bored in the anime (and light novel) Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu. Later in the episode, Maria-san uses the phrase "Kinsoku jiko desu" ("It's classified."), which is the catch-phrase of ASAHINA Mikuru from that same series. She also uses Mikuru's pose as well.
- Very obvious, but I'll mention it just the same. When Hayate goes to the manga bookcase, it is naturally filled with the first 12 tankoubon volumes of Hayate no Gotoku.
- The next manga Nagi sees on her shelf is titled Tsuridaisuki Sanpei (Fishing Lover Sanpei), which is a play on the real manga/anime title Tsurikichi Sanpei (Fisherman Sanpei). Indeed, Sanpei is shown on the cover of the manga Nagi read, only with a couple of modifications to his wardrobe.
- When Nagi gets stabbed by the spear, it is actually a "Beam Javelin" used by the RX-78-2 Gundam mecha unit from Mobile Suit Gundam. (thanks to the anonymous person who told me this)
- The "Gerogi Nax" beverage Maria-san drinks after landing the king fish of the lake is a play on Georgia Max Coffee, which is made by Coca-Cola in Japan.
- In the eye-catch, Maria-san appears to have caught Nemo from Disney's Finding Nemo.
- In the bath (indoor onsen), Hayate mentions Lilim, which is a reference to the daughters of Lilith from Neon Genesis Evangelion. To further the point, Hayate is humming "Ode to Joy" (Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, final movement) which is the tune the angel NAGISA Kaworu was humming when Shinji found him in the anime, and in a similar pose. To complete the EVA references, Tama and Hayate bathe together with Tama saying similar things as Kaworu AND touching Hayate's hand in a similar way as Kaworu did to Shinji (thanks to Anon, who reminded me of the bath scene in the comments below). The scene ends with a look at the bath stools, which have a logo very much like the NERV logo.
- One of the statues in the yard looks a lot like a super-deformed Nabeshin (WATANABE Shinichi), who directed titles such as Excel Saga, Poni Poni Poemi, and Tenchi Muyo! GXP.
- When Hayate and Tama enter the boiler room, "Akira" is the bleeped name when Hayate asks about the boilers main power. That's from the manga/anime Akira.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Lord of Lords Ryu Knight 26
SPOILER Summary: Galden, in Dark Knight Steru, continues to school the Ryu-riders with Paffy single-handedly. He ends up putting the others out of commission and dares Paffy to use the power of the Spirit Stone mace (staff as they call it) now that she's wielding it. She's afraid since she doesn't know how to draw on the stone's power and Galden starts wailing on her Magidora. She ends up praying to the stone which unleashes a huge blast which not only send Galden's Steru flying, it also destroys the mountain that the other Ryu's had been "stapled" to by Steru.
Izumi casts a protection spell around his companions as they go flying while Galden is forced to leave Steru for a moment as Idoro appears. She tells him they have to flee to look for their own Spirit Stone, but he'll hear none of it, and re-enters Steru, determined to face Paffy again. Adeu comes on the scene of the battle and is shocked by what he finds. He locates Izume and starts to look for Paffy.
Paffy is having her own troubles as she continues to tell herself how impossible it is to master the Spirit Stone. When she finally comes to, Galden is there and with Steru, drives Magidora off of a cliff. The Ryu unit returns to card form and Adeu races to catch her as she falls. After a brief reunion, Galden arrives. Adeu decides it is time to show Galden a fight and initially summons Ryu Knight Zephyr before transforming it into Ryu Paladin Lord Zephyr. Adeu takes to beating Galden and in the end causes a large amount of rock to bury the Steru unit. Having spent all his strength, Ryu Paladin downgrades to Ryu Knight once again. However, Galden has survived and Steru blasts through the rubble to face Adeu once again.
Thoughts: Well, I'm half-way through the series. Pretty typical shounen stuff.
Lord of Lords Ryu Knight 25
SPOILER Summary: Paffy and company are fleeing from the upgraded Dark Knight Steru as Galden destroys a town to look for them. Elsewhere, Adeu and Zephyr have washed ashore and are met by the old man who sent Adeu on his quest -- the Great Sage Nuzzi. Before he'll allow Adeu to return to his companions, the two of them have a date at the bottom of the sea at the Temple of Time.
Having fled town, Paffy and company are caught by Steru. Izumi tries to get Paffy to flee while they summon their Ryu units to battle Galden. However, an ally, Gratches, attacks with his Ryu unit and allows them all to escape for the moment.
Under the sea, Adeu and Nuzzi enter the temple, where Adeu learns some things about the Jya-ryuzoku. He also learns that his father Rasa was the previous "rider" of Ryu Knight Zephyr and he fought with the Jya-ryuzoku. Nuzzi leads Adeu to another chamber where a priestess awaits. She summons a giant dragon, who's there to test Adeu to see if he's truly worthy of Zephyr. Since Adeu's sword broke in the last battle, he has no weapon and the only one for Zephyr to use is a beat-up looking giant sword attached to the wall. As such, Adeu has to do what he can with what he has, which isn't much.
Paffy and company are still pursued by Galden, with everyone but Paffy summoning their Ryu units to fight. Eventually, Paffy summons Ryu Mage Magidora but all six Ryu units are still no match for Galden and his upgraded unit.
Back in the temple, knowing that Paffy and the others need him, Adeu is finally able to pull the sword off the wall, which also generates a new shield. However, he finds that even with his new weapon and shield, the dragon is made of tougher stuff. Asking for strength from Zyphyr, the Ryu unit transforms itself into a stronger unit while at the same time, Adeu's armor, sword, and shield are transformed as well. Adeu recognizes this as the Ryu unit he saw as a little child and that his father must have been the one he saw. In this new form, Adeu is able to defeat the dragon and thus prove himself worthy.
As the priestess and Nuzzi observed, the priestess reveals herself to be Adeu's long-lost mother. She informs him that the Spirit Stone of Zephyr has accepted him and that he now has control over Ryu Paladin, Lord Zephyr. Before Adeu goes to help his friends, he embraces his mother and promises to return.
Thoughts: The great thing about a shounen series like this is that the writers don't have to worry a great deal about little things like Zephyr being stabbed in the previous episode. And of course, there's the whole "power-up" thing to. However, it was somewhat interesting learning of Adeu's past.
Temple of Time (at bottom of ocean);
Lord of Lords Ryu Knight 24
SPOILER Summary: The witch Idoro resurrects Dark Knight Galden, who'd been slain by Adeu. She tells him that he needs the power of a Spirit Stone in order to defeat the Ryu Knight and he must wait.
Meanwhile, Adeu's party are on the ship looking for the island where Paffy's parents, the King and Queen of Phahuricia have gone into hiding. A giant shell appears and is the Spiral Shell Tower, where Paffy's are hiding. Getting the signal from the royal aide Mirius, the group sets for shore except for the elf thief Katze, who decides to stay with the ship as it makes for port in order that she might try to make money.
Within the tower, Paffy is reunited with her parents while Katze has gone to back to the mainland port. However, before she can make a sale, Galden arrives and forces her to reveal the location of Paffy's parents.
Paffy's mother, Maria, tells the secret of the Spirit Stone that she's been guarding, which is the true power behind the mecha units the group use. A Ryu unit with the power of a Spirit Stone is much more powerful than one without it. Galden's family has been after the Phahuricia one for years, but until Dark Knight Galden appeared, Phahuricia had always beaten them back. The Spirit Stones were designed with the Ryu units to protect Earth Tear from the fearsome Jya-ryuzoku (Helldragons), who are dragon-like in appearance with giant humanoid characteristics.
As Idoro and Galden spy on the island, Idoro detects a Jya-ryuzoku presence and sure enough, something emerges from the darkened sky and hatches to reveal one of their soldiers. As Adeu and company get their butts handed to them by this "low-level soldier," Idoro asks if Galden would like the power of a Jya-ryuzoku. He says he would and he arrives just in time to actually save Adeu's group, who'd been unable to even scratch the dragon-soldier. Galden easily slays it and it is absorbed into his sword. Now his Dark Knight Steru mecha unit upgrades with this new power and Galden begins beating Adeu's party, ending with Adeu's Ryu Knight taking Dark Knight off the tower and into the ocean where Galden stabs the Ryu Knight and leaves. As this happens, the island begins sinking into the ocean again and king, queen, and Mirius escape on a small boat
Thoughts: There's really not a lot to say about these shounen-fare titles. My main goal is to finally finish the bloody thing.
Friday, August 24, 2007
SPOILER Summary: On a garbage pile in Japan, lightning strikes and brings the robot Eight back to life.
Nagi remarks on Hayate's inappropriate costume for what she has planned has Maria fantasizing about him cosplaying as a girl character, but Nagi wants him out of butler's clothing and into normal, fashionable clothing to come with her to an amusement park. Its her own park, which Hayate thinks is a lot like a certain has-been pop king from the 80's.
As they go through park, which has had no visitors in three years. The mascots are desperate to do something good and to keep their jobs at all costs. In the end, they convince Hayate to come to the haunted house to give it a test run. One of the mascots reveals himself to be Eight, the robot from earlier in the series and form the beginning of the episode. Hayate doesn't remember him. The other people at working as mascots at the park prevent Eight from doing anything major, desperate to ensure they keep their jobs.
Later, robot scientist Makimura tests the new robot named Nine. Nine passes all its tests with flying colors, but when Eight arrives, he easily defeats Nine, takes his special chip, and upgrades himself to Eight-Point-One (8.1). Makumura doesn't remember Eight, which depresses him and he vows to rectify that.
That evening, Hayate is all excited about her day with Hayate as she talks with Maria. He's pooped and Tama decides to take him out. However, Eight arrives instead and Tama's the only one who remember's Eight because he actually watches the anime's opening credits. Eight remembers his past with Makumura and the pain at losing her because he lost to Hayate. So Eight aims to rectify that. However, he states he needs to beat Nagi as well, which brings out the wrath of Tama as well as a lengthy lecture. Before he can finish off Eight, Hayate protects the robot, reminding Tama how lucky they are that Nagi rescued them. Eight repays Hayate's kindness by attacking him, which Nagi and Maria learn about upstairs in bed. However, Nagi isn't concerned, believing what Hayate defeated before, he'll defeat again.
Eight won't go down easy though, but when Makumura arrives and says she remembers him, he's happy...until she summons the proper trash disposal people to comply with Japanese law regarding the disposal of electronic items. Hayate still feels bad for Eight, so Tama emulates Nagi's voice and causes Eight to be spared from the scrape heap. Eight asks Makumura out and she agrees.
Thoughts: Another fun episode with some funny moments and lots of references/parodies. I loved Tama's remarks on how unlike Hayate, he watches the opening credit sequence every episode because that's the only place he's sure to show up in. *lol* Nagi's remarks about the ratings was also funny. The anime is just a hoot to watch.
Poor Nishizawa-san -- only getting a cameo again.
References: As always, I try to find them all and sadly fail. As always, helps is always welcome in catching the references. That's what took so long getting this review up -- researching as many of the references as I could.
- As Eight revives in the trash pile, a Diclonius face from the anime Elfen Lied is seen.
- Maria-san fantasizes about Hayate in drag cosplay as Cure Dream from Yes! Precure 5. The narrator even uses the henshin (transformation) sequence phrase from the show.
- Nagi's private amusement park makes Hayate ask if this is Michael Jackson's house (that was the one reference, even though bleeped out, that I'm sure we all got).
- One of the signs in Nagi Nagi Land proclaiming the need to be 140cm tall has a female character on it that looks a lot like KOIWAI Yotsuba from the series Yotsuba&! (only with three pigtails instead of four and with different colored hair).
- The pink chicken mascot at Nagi Nagi Land appears to be Ganmo from the 80's anime series Gu-Gu Ganmo.
- The ultimate move Hayate was about to be shown using in the haunted house was "Rozan Sho Ryu Ha," used by Dragon Shiryu of Saint Seiya.
- Nine (the dog robot) is raised from underground like an EVA mecha unit from Neon Genesis Evangelion. The howl Nine makes at the end of the test trials is much like the roar let out by the EVA-01 mecha unit as it went out of control.
- The hammer weapon Nine wielded (Kaigo Rudion) sounds and looks a lot like Kai Goldion, the hammer used by the mecha unit GaoGaiGar in the anime/manga series GaoGaiGar.
- During Eight's memory of robot scientist Makimura, he fantasizes her dressed as Poala from Beet the Vandel Buster anime/manga.
- I've been told that when Hayate says that he's burned out and looks like white ash, the phrase he uses in similar to the one used by Joe in the boxing series Ashita no Joe.
- Nagi asks Hayate if he used the Kamehameha attack used by Muten Roshi in Dragonball and Dragonball Z. Update: I'm told this is Son Goku's main attack in the series (having learned it from Muten Roshi).
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Rupan Sansei: Kiri no Eryuushivu
Lupin and Jigen are on the bottom of the ocean near the island of Kiritappu where Lupin is looking for a treasure that Fujiko has talked him into finding. While she sunbathes, Zenigata and police arrive. Lupin and Jigen manage to make it to the boat, and a chase ensues, ending with their boat "cruising" through the streets of Kiritappu until the duo bail out.
The duo flee in Lupin's classic compact yellow car where Goemon is waiting. Naturally, Zenigata and the police are hot on his tail. However, weird things start happening in that people begin to literally disappear from their cars as a fog rolls in. They find themselves at a lighthouse as Zenigata steals a scooter to continue the chase. A flash of light happens and the time traveler Mamo appears. He sends the trio back in time and Zenigata manages to get caught in it with his scooter.
Arriving in the past, the trio find themselves in a battle between the forces of the Shine clan and the Norse clan. Jigen uses his magnum to great effect, but when the trio gets caught in the swamp, he has no choice but to give it up, with Lupin losing his weapon in the swamp. Zenigata crashes down into the Norse village and is taken captive as Lupin and company are taken captive by the Shine troops.
In prison, two soldier disappear and Mamo appears, stating that Lupin XIII stole his girlfriend and he's getting revenge, which will end up killing Lupin III and thus removing Lupin XIII from the future. They break out of prison, but stop to grab a bite from a pot of food and are discovered. In the lady Iseka-sama's chambers, a Norse spy attempts to use Jigen's gun to take out Iseka, but Lupin and company arrive to take care of the problem and Jigen gets his gun back, though sadly, the bullets in the chamber have been used, meaning he's worthless.
They are kicked off the island and given a ride in boat by the boy Takaya. They are ambushed, but defeat the Shine troops and head to Takaya's hut. As they eat and talk, they discuss the legend of the treasure and Lupin thinks coming back to the past will allow him to get it since Iseka's blue-flamed necklace seems part of the legend. A thief named Ofumi (who looks like Fujiko) comes to steal Iseka's necklace, but is prevented by Lupin and company. She gets away and Momo returns, also wanting the time treasure. If Lupin doesn't do what he says, he'll make sure Fujiko is never born.
Goemon takes a job as Iseka's bodyguard and learns that the Shine Island contains lots of natural gas, which they've trapped and use as energy, heat, and lights for their homes in the village. This is what the Norse crave and their chancelor, Obitaki, is eager to keep fighting. The Norse leader, Eshika-dono, is uncertain and wants peace (as does Iseka), but goes along with Obitaki.
As Jigen makes new bullets, Lupin continues to investigate the treasure. He manages to enlist Ofumi's help as they head into the Norse village, looking for the White Tamayura treasure that Takaya has given them a clue for. Things go well, but then Ofumi betrays them in an attempt to get the treasure herself. However, she learns that the clue of Takaya was a lie and he was using them to attempt to avenge the death of his father, who was killed at the orders of Obitaki.
Regrouping to meet Mamo's three-day deadline, Lupin sees the natural gas flames coming from a pipe and hatches a plan. He has Ofumi free Zenigata, who then gets on his bike to pursue Lupin, refusing to believe they are in the past. Lupin enacts his scheme, which involves allowing Zenigata to pursue him into where Lupin has stated the treasure is. Mamo arrives to take possession of the White Tamayura, which Lupin has lead him to believe is a sacred relic on the island, but it is not the real one. Lupin produces a white stone and appears to make Zenigata disappear as well as himself several times, claiming the stone allows him to travel in time. Mamo panics but returning to the future, finds himself still OK. He returns to the past, but as Ofumi moves to take out Mamo and allow Lupin to take control of his time machine, Zenigata comes to and interferes, allowing Mamo to escape.
Lupin starts his next plan while Mamo arms the Norse forces with rifles and machine guns. The leader of the Shine forces is determined to beat the Norse once and for all, not wanting peace talks, and has Goemon disarmed. As they set up their defenses, Lupin and Jigen look for the treasure. The Norse attack, aided by Mamo, begins with the dawn and it is devastating to the Shine troops. Goemon overpowers the guards assigned to them and he and Iseka go to the top of the giant statue on the cliff of Shine Island. There, she pleads for the life of her peopel as Eshika arrives, saying he too wants peace and accepts Iseka's offer to share the natural gas.
Lupin springs his plan, showing a new stone he claims is the White Tamayura. Mamo having been fooled earlier isn't buying it, but Lupin goes through the legend and shows the things happening now are what the legend talked about. Mamo leaves the stone but goes back in time to just before Lupin takes it. Lupin had planned on this and Mamo ends up getting trapped, allowing Lupin access to the time machine. Mamo soon discovers that what he thought was someone trying to kill him with a time machine was the result of his own actions in the past. He brings out Lupin by threating to kill Ofumi. However, Ofumi, aided by Takaya, attack Mamo, allowing Jigen to shoot the knife out his hands and forcing him to flee.
Meanwhile, the statue falls to the sea in a flash of light with Iseka on it. However, Lupin has rescued her in the time machine so all's well. The villagers call the time machine the White Tamayura, which explains the treasure. Zenigata arrives on his scooter and so its time for Lupin and company to return to the present. Zenigata manages to grab the time machine as it returns to Kiritappu. Goemon is forced to destroy the time machine to allow them to escape. They flee on the boat and irritate Fujiko by not having a treasure. Lupin notices that Fujiko is wearing the blue-flame necklace of Iseka, meaning that Ofumi managed to steal it after all. Zenigata starts chasing them again, first by boat, then by car as our adventurers go for their next adventure.
OK, I had to just laugh at the absurdity of Lupin's boat being able to magically skid down the roads without losing speed or anything else. But I digress...
Bringing back Mamo (who first appeared in episode 13 of the first TV series) was a neat idea. I gather that this episode isn't exactly a sequel as Lupin doesn't seem to know Mamo in this special. Regardless, you don't have to have seen to original episode to appreciate this special, but bringing Mamo back was a nod to the fans and 40-years since the manga started.
As to the special itself, I did like it. The concept of having Lupin go back in time was actually interesting. However, the mystery of the treasure was a bit wonky to me and I figured that Mamo was the cause of his own troubles. Still, I never felt bored by the special, which is a good thing.
I almost hate to say this, but I was glad that Fujiko got left behind. Her ancestor was so much more interesting as a character (Fujiko has become way too 2-dimensional). Zenigata was a complete waste of time. I wanted him to be in on actually believing they'd gone back 500-years and work to help get them back to the present. Instead, we get his seiyuu sounding very old and tired saying "Lupin" and "Your under arrest" and "I'm from Interpol" way too often.
I was glad to gee Goemon become a bodyguard for Iseka-sama, because as a samurai, that is what he'd naturally do. He didn't get to do a whole heck of a lot though, which was a shame.
Then there was the problem with Jigen and his gun. Having only the bullets in the chamber of his magnum, I thought, "Why would a professional shooter not carry a whole lot of extra bullets?" I think the writers considered that too late and when Jigen was making new bullets to put in the used casings, I thought, "Were are they getting the gun powder from?"
One final thought -- the special felt at times like a nod to Castle of Cagliostro. It was not only the compact, old yellow car that Lupin was driving, but some of the chases therein seemed to remind me of Cagliostro for some reason.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I've slowly started to increase my watching of live-action Japanese titles, especially if I hear good things about them. Such was the case with Shinobi: Heart Under Blade.
Mild SPOILER Summary: Kouga Gennosuke is the grandson of Kouga Danjo, leader of the Kouga clan of shinobi. He has fallen in love with Oboro, granddaughter of Ogen, leader of the Iga clan of shinobi. Oboro is also in love with Gennosuke and the two meet at the border of their clan's territory where they marry in secret, witnessed by (his?) hawk.
Meanwhile, Tokugawa Ieyasu, the shogun and ruler of Japan, sees the shinobi as a threat to his rule. As such, he summons the leaders of the two shinobi clans -- Danjo from the Kouga clan (older male) and Ogen from the Iga clan (older female) to his castle and seat of power at Sunpu. After witnessing a performance from representatives of both clans, Ieyasu decrees the truce between the two clans is now revoked and that they are to dispatch five of their best shinobi, who will battle each other. Only one will survive.
The two leaders return to their villages to relay the news and to reveal the shinobi chosen for the fight. On the Kouga side, Gennosuke is chosen (gifted with the ability to manipulate move at incredible speeds and can apparently redirect some attacks at him back at the attacker) as well as Muroga Hyoma (male; seer; gifted sword user), Chikuma Koshiro (male; gifted with the use of shuriken and a pair of kunai), Kagero (female; able to breath poison and has a poison kiss), and Kisaragi Saemon (male; teleporter; shape shifter). On the Iga side, Oboro is chosen (has the ability to use her eyes to severely damage folks internally and kill them), Yakushiji Tenzen (male; 300-years old; gifted in the use of a sword and chakrams), Yashamaru (male; uses garrote wires made of women's hair woven together), Mino Nenki (male; beast-like; uses modified, expendable iron claws), and Hotarubi (female; can uses some kind of mist, and summon mass swarms of butterflies).
Danjo and Ogen meet and kill each other, leaving Gennosuke and Oboro in charge of their respective clans. Gennosuke decides to head to Sunpu to find out from Ieyasu why their clans must fight as he is not willing to go back to the warring ways of their clans and longs to be openly married to Oboro. Oboro decides to follow him. As a result, the various shinobi end up facing off and killing each other. Eventually, Gennosuke meets with Tenzen, who reveals that the time of the shinobi is over. As such, he's betrayed the location of both villages to the shogun, who's dispatched his army to level both villages. Gennosuke defeats Tenzen and eventually has to face his love, Oboro. In order to save their villages, he allows Oboro to kill him and tasks her with getting Ieyasu to stop the attacks. She comes to Sunpu, and after her plea to save the shinobi villages is rejected (the shogun knows of her abilities with her eyes), she stabs her eyes, thus making her a mostly normal human, howbeit blind. This touches Ieyasu, who recalls his troops and the shinobi are allowed to live.
Thoughts: I really liked this movie. I had wondered about the visual effects since this wasn't produced in Hollywood. However, the Japanese do a pretty good job in pulling off the different moves that the shinobi make during the action sequences (while keeping it fairly low on the bloody content). The only moments that really looked CGI to me were the hair-string attacks by Yashamaru, which when wrapping around people looked fake. The same can be said for Koshiro's kunai attacks where the chains look fake when initially wrapping around someone. That aside, it looked really good visually and the action scenes were enjoyable.
The story is fairly simple, but engaging nevertheless. Being a movie, the supporting characters don't get the development they should. We know very little about them beyond their special abilities. The movie does drop little tidbits of information (such as Tenzen being 300-years old or how Kagero obtained her powers of poison), but then there's not much time for character development when the characters are destined to fight and die. I would have loved to have known more about them though, because the various shinobi cried out to me of an interesting back story.
FUNimation sprang for the whole package and have a 2nd disc full of extras. Those interested in special effects will be treaded to a feature on the special effects used in the movie. However, it doesn't stop there as a recorded lecture from the Visual Effects Supervisor is also shown, and he gets into the technical aspects of the work they had to do. A feature showing the filming of the fights at Sunpu Castle is included, which gives a look into the making of the film. Also included are the storyboard collection, the art, a feature on the weapons in the movie, and the TV spots and trailers in Japan. All are subtitled in English.
Also, while I only watched this in Japanese with subtitles (which are up to FUNimation's standards, meaning the honorifics are included), the movie has also been dubbed into English. So those of you who hate to read subtitles can still watch the movie, though you are out of luck concerning the extras.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Since I know not everyone checks my Tenchi Muyo! FAQ site, I thought I'd share some news provided to me by Atonashi here as well.
GXP Novel 4 will be out in a few days, on 8/20.
This year's Summer Comiket started today (8/17) and Kajishima is represented with the usual Kamidake + Kajishima Onsen doujin pair, #8 and 7.08 respectively.
The Ryoko and Ryo-ohki story from 6.12 is continued in 7.08 and then there's some stuff between Minaho and Noike and Airi before their Earth trip. That second story is supposed to continue in the next issue. Kamidake 8 is again a genga collection like it's been lately, only the cover is new.
In his status report Kajishima says the GXP book will be out in August as already mentioned and that it's not yet certain when Seikishi Monogatari will be aired, but work has started on scripts and designs. I guess that means the production team has started on it and not just him because otherwise it wouldn't be news.
I don't have the actual doujins yet so this is based on what I've heard but it should be accurate.
I may try to score 7.08 for myself, assuming it isn't already sold out.
Friday, August 17, 2007
SPOILER Summary: Naneel sends her death spell out over Marmo, and also into Lodoss and as far as the city of Rood. In Marmo, the Ancient Gold Dragon Mycen shields the dragon riders of Moss from the spell and King Kashue orders his mages to cast protection spells. King Etoh arrives with a hoard or clerics and casting a powerful protection spell, they are able to cancel out the death spell of Naneel.
Kardis hovers over and in the ceremony room as Spark decides to fight the deity. Of course, his blind attack is easily repulsed to the amusement of Naneel. Leaf and Greeves attempt to cast spells, but are stopped by Kardis. The connection between Spark and Neese is reformed so that Neese is able to see out. Naneel and Neese talk about Neese's destiny as the doorway to summon Kardis. Neese casts a holy spell (prayer) of Marfa within her mind, which causes her physical body pain. Apparently, Neese's wish to destroy Naneel and Kardis gives them strength.
As the armies gathered at Rood quickly take ships to the Marmo shore, the moron, Spark presses forward and somehow gets pulled into where Neese and Naneel are. Naneel tells him he can't kill her without killing Neese, whom he's sworn to protect. Neese confirms this, so Spark grabs Neese and gets her away from Naneel. He tells her sappy stuff and she returns in kind. Now, she decides to accept Naneel and casting a second prayer to Marfa, Naneel is surprised to find herself not taking control of Neese but rather just the opposite. As it turns out, Neese has summoned Marfa, who has sent Kardis packing and done something with Naneel. Spark is given a choice -- have Neese returned to him, or to fully summon Marfa, who will bring peace and happiness to the world at the cost of Neese's life. He chooses Neese.
Before leaving, Marfa bathes Marmo with light, turning it into a lush island instead of a dark one. She also brings back the people slain by Naneel, including Garrack. Spark shows up with Neese and much later, Spark is made an official knight (of Flaim) and Parn is changed from Free Knight to Knight of Lodoss. Parn and Deed head off to someplace and Lodoss is all sunshine and lollipops.
Thoughts: You know, I only started watching this title because I saw the cover of a RightStuf catalog which had the chibi, super-deformed characters from the OVA there (and who show up in the shorts at the end of each TV episode). It seemed interesting to me and so now, here I am finally at the last episode.
This series was way to mired in shounen fare to be good. There were good elements to be sure, but the shounen stuff was just a bit much at times, as it was in this episode. Besides, did Marfa completely destroy Kardis? Naneel? I'm not sure, though it sorta seemed like it with the narrator saying something about darkness never returning to Lodoss. And what of Karla? I'm not sure what happened to her either.
I'll have to ponder my final review for the Community Anime Review site, but it won't be a buy.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
SPOILER Summary: As Wagnard presses through the pain to complete the extraordinarily long sequence of spells to bring back Kardis, the Grey Witch Karla also begins casting the same spells. The group tries to stop Wagnard but of course fail with Spark nearly getting killed by a death spell. So while Leylia, Slayn, and Aldo go to take care of Karla, Spark and the rest go for Wagnard. Spark is going to be the decoy to allow Garrack to take Wagnard, but Garrack becomes the decoy and allows Wagnard to cast a death spell at him while Spark gets his sword into Wagnard.
At Karla's location, the trio is held captive as she continues her spell casting after informing them that she cares nothing for "good" or "evil," only balance and that right now, only Kardis can restore that balance. She can't be killed because Karla actually inhabits the circlet and not the woman, so killing the female body of the hero from many, many years before wouldn't solve the problem. The circlet must be removed. Parn and Deed arrive and Deed casts a spell at Karla, which is rebuffed. She continues her spell casting and Parn removes the circlet in time.
Wagnard dies and Karla's hold on Leylia, Slayn, and Aldo is released. Neese returns to normal, and there is mourning for Garrack, who's dead. Unfortunately, the woman who'd been Karla somehow finishes the spell for Kardis, making everything return as it was, sans Wagnard. Now Naneel has full control over Neese's body and releases a flood of death spells that begin slaying human and creature alike.
Thoughts: I love how a charging melee fool attacking a wizard somehow manages to pause long enough to let the evil wizard get off a killing spell. Yeah. That's the ticket. But the, someone had to die, didn't they? I also love those moments where fools stand around and that "it's over...PSYCHE!"
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
SPOILER Summary: As the hero group enters Conquera, Wagnard's incredibly long ceremony to release Kardis continues with Neese unable to do anything but be trapped in her own mind as Naneel awakens there. The heroes stop to discuss where Neese might be when Ashram comes with Pirotess. Parn has to fight Ashram no matter what, so Spark's party leaves while Parn and Ashram have a fight, leaving Deed and Pirotess to fight while Maar and Hobb stand around and watch.
Ashram reveals his plans to evacuate Marmo to get his people away from that cursed island filled with monsters and that the only reason they invaded Lodoss was to have a home of their own. Hearing this, Parn decides not to make a finishing blow on Ashram and vice-versa. With that, Ashram and Pirotess leave and Parn's party discuss the matter for a while until Hobb and Maar leave to follow Ashram as his battles are just beginning while Parn's are ending.
Spark's party enters the throne room and discuss things for a bit before looking for clues to gain access to where Neese is. Fortunately, the power coming from Kardis reveals it to be under the floor, and so one throne removal later, hidden stairs are revealed and down the party goes. The arrive at the ceremony site, just in time to see Wagnard's appearance change from the power of Kardis and Neese be taken over by Naneel so that now Neese looks like Naneel.
Thoughts: You got to love it when everyone just stands around bloviating for a while even though time is pressing, and then do it again, and again. And of course, personal revenge comes before anything else, even if the whole world is destroyed. Then stand around and discuss it for a while as Kardis is being brought back.
SPOILER Summary: The Ancient Black Dragon Narse has risen, thanks to Karla and now Spark and Parn's parties will have to fight. However, even though it never leaves the ground, its claw, tail, and breath attacks are more than enough to not only fend off attacks from this group of heroes, but to defeat them as well. The battle goes poorly until Queen Shiris and her Moss Highland Dragon Riders arrive. While her dragons are pretty small compared to Narse, they make up for it in numbers and speed.
Leaving Shiris's forces to battle Narse (to Karla's annoyance), the party moves on while Ashram receives intelligence showing that Shiris's forces are currently battling Narse. He knows they have a day at best and so orders a retreat to save his people. Leaving Pirotess to carry out his orders, Ashram leaves to find out what Wagnard is up to.
Narse gives Shiris's Dragon Riders grief, even though this Ancient Black Dragon still hasn't left the ground. Meanwhile the Spark and Parn show arrives at where Karla is. She tells them she wants the balance of Grey, not the tipping of scales to Light or Dark. She reveals that she has been behind things and tells them they are responsible for the final battle with Kardis returning from slumber.
Wagnard continues his lengthy preparations and spell-casting, despite the fact that the curses placed on him cause him pain as he continues to perform the ceremony to bring back Kardis. Ashram pays Wagnard a vist, revealing that he doesn't care if Kardis is brought back or not as he's taking the residence of Marmo and will flee with them to someplace new.
As Shiris's forces take a beating, Narse decides its finally time to take to the skies. However, before he can eliminate these pesky small dragons with their human riders, the Ancient Gold Dragon from Moss, Mycen, intercept Narse and in the brief battle that follows, Mycen wins.
Karla is not pleased by this turn of events and offers the heroes two choices -- die and she will prevent Kardis from being resurrected or they can fight Kardis, but she will aid Wagnard. Spark chooses to fight, even if he can connect his sword with Karla's shadow body.
Th0ughts: I think I'm very tired because I don't have any comments this time.
SPOILER Summary: On the ship bound for Marmo, Spark has a nightmare about Neese and Wagnard. The ship arrives at the shores of Marmo, and Spark's party as well as Parn, Deed, Slayn, Leyila, Maar, and the cleric Hobb set off. As the Grey Witch observes them, Leaf and Deed both sense something not right about the forest they've entered.
Spark is unconcerned and because of this, he, Garrack, Parn, and Maar get separated from the rest of the party. Karla's plan is to ensure balance is restored to Lodoss and to do that as well as stop Wagnard's plans to resurrect Kardis, she has to stop these so-called heroes. Spark and the three others suddenly find themselves fighting mud-beasts while Deed and the remaining members suddenly find themselves fighting gargoyles. All seems lost when somehow Neese, being prepared on the alter to Kardis, makes a mental connection with Spark. He's able to see the bugs that are in fact the heart of the mud creatures and so they are able to free themselves in time to save Deed and company from destruction from gargoyles.
As Wagnard continues his overly-lengthy ceremony for Neese, in Lodoss, the forces of Valis arrive with ships, thus providing transportation to Marmo for the forces of Kanon and Flaim. Queen Shiris also arrives with her dragon riders to provide cover for the united forces as they get ready to invade Marmo.
Having made it out of the swampy woods, Spark and Parn's party suddenly find themselves facing the Ancient Dragon known as Narse, courtesy of Karla.
Thoughts: Spark gets his disease again. "I don't care about anything because Neese is going to get hurt. We loose most of our party, but I don't care because Neese. Neese! A weird forrest with a mind of its own means nothing to me, even if it kill you all. Screw you non-sword fighters because its Neese! NEESE!" What a loser. He needs so many kicks in the butt, it isn't even funny.
The powerful Grey Witch Karla also falls victim to Spark's Disease. "Oh if only I can stop those meddling hero-wannabes, Wagnard won't have to resurrect Kardis." I would have laughed, had I not been tired. Seriously, as if a man who's only goal in life is to be a bloody necromancer would stop that goal just because Karla had done her part to achieve balance. Yeah, whatever.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
SPOILER Summary: The attack on Rood begins and Prince Reona's forces are able to easily take down the main gate to allow Spark's party through. As the fight rages, Groder reports that the Kanon Free Army has attacked all four strongholds, something they'd not anticipated since they figured the Kanon forces would wait for the forces from Flaim to arrive before attacking. Ashram respects the strategy and orders a retreat, leaving Pirotess to take care of things at their HQ mansion. Ashram's sole desire is to protect Marmo and his people, thus he will not fight a senseless battle in Rood.
Spark's party gets deep into Rood where Garrack gets Spark's Disease and causes them to run into a large band of goblin troops as well as a large ogre. However, Spark's party is able to defeat their foes and as soon as the last one is down, Parn and Deed arrive on scene. Parn is determined to make it to the Marmo HQ and face Ashram, all of which is observed by Wagnard in Marmo.
Deed and Parn arrive at the mansion to find Pirotess waiting for them. Parn gets a case of Spark's Disease and blindly starts attacking the dark elf before recovering his senses a bit. Using his experience and training, he's able to follow the dark elf's movements, allowing him and Deed to attack, forcing Pirotess to retreat. Once their, Pirotess then escapes, having given Ashram and Groder time to board a ship and escape, where she joins them and the rest of the ship leaving for Marmo.
King Kashue arrives and Spark reports what has happened to him as well as to Neese's parents, the mage Slayn and the cleric Leylia. They understand since Neese was destined to be the "Doorway," thus she was destined to end up in Marmo. Spark requests the use of the remaining ship in port to take his party to Marmo to save Neese and prevent the resurrection of Kardis. Parn decides to join him and the matter is settled.
Meanwhile on Marmo, Karla and Wagnard meet, both having separate plans with Wagnard feeling in control, more so that he knows Karla's plans aren't going well. With that, Karla leaves and Wagnard overcomes Neese's light protection to carry her to be sacrificed.
Thoughts: I love it when CPM/Manga domesticate subtitles to remove any Japanese influence and make up their own. I find it interesting that there was zero consistency when it came to the use of the Japanese honorifics in how the subtitle adaptation dealt with them in different cases ("-san" for person X gets ignored but for person Y, lets use a title like "Sir"). That's another reason why I'm a tad annoyed with FUNimation for "rescuing" the Slayers series, but using CPM's subtitles. But I digress...*sigh*
Anyway, Spark's disease struck at Garrack first, then later at Parn in the attack on Ashram's HQ. Too bad it also struck Ashram, who left a ship for Spark and his company to travel to Marmo in after the majority of Ashram's forces had fled.
This episode also felt uglier to me in art.
Monday, August 13, 2007
SPOILER Summary: Nagi is dressed for school, which shocks Hayate until he remembers that it is summer vacation. As such, Nagi has big plans to goof off and spend time with Hayate.
As the trio of girls from Katsura-sensei's class pay a visit on their favorite teacher (calling her "Katsura-chan"), Hayate inquires of Maria about an ultimate attack considering the other butlers he's met have one. Nagi decides to help, thinking Hayate wants to be cool in front of her. Despite being annoyed that the two of them would think she knows anything about an ultimate attack, she leads them to the mansion's giant library with sections for Nagi containing manga and game books.
Maria doesn't believe a book on ultimate attacks will be there, but as she leaves, there's a book on ultimate attacks, specifically the Sanzenin Secret Techniques. Maria now recalls the former butler, Himegami-kun, using the book and so Nagi and Hayate decide to start training. Tama is enlisted to help, but as Nagi goes through the books, the attacks all are desperation moves such as if you are on fire or falling off a cliff.
Nagi notices a special attack for making the object of one's affections all "love-love" for you and gets flustered when Hayate wants to read the book for himself. She ends up walking off a cliff, only to fall on Hayate who'd raced with Tama to save her. Realizing the connection between them was already great, Nagi decides she doesn't need the move, but when she learns of Hatate's promise to Hina about learning an ultimate move, Nagi burns the book in a fit of jealousy.
Nagi walks outside the mansion grounds and is arguing with an imaginary Hina-chan when Nishizawa-san arrives, worried about Hayate. They recognize each other and Nagi addresses Nishizawa with various "Hamster" names. This is observed by Hayate and Maria, who'd been concerned for Nagi. Nishizawa decides she and Nagi must battle, which Nagi is just in the mood for. Nishizawa takes Nagi to a karaoke place, which while a nice one, Nagi sees as smaller than a toilet room in her mansion.
Maria and Hayate follow Nishizawa and Nagi to the karaoke place and rent their own box to stay close. Meanwhile, Nishizawa does her first song and only scores 35%. Nagi, despite never having done karaoke before, scores 100%, having professional singing lessons to her credit. Nishizawa isn't done and the fight continues. Sadly, Nishizawa loses every time.
As they leave, Nagi offers to pay for the rental and drinks, but Nishizawa won't be in debt to her rival. Nagi scoffs at the idea of being a true rival of Nishizawa's since they are not even in the same class socially, economically, or any where else. Nagi's security is waiting to take her home, having been notified of her location due to Hayate but before Nagi can leave, Nishizawa challenges her again. Nagi accepts, telling Nishizawa she can come by any time.
Back in the karaoke place, Maria is still singing her heart out while Hayate is ready to call it a night.
Thoughts: Another fun episode. The learning of ultimate attacks was the funniest stuff to me. I can't help but feel so sorry for Nishizawa-san and her unrequited love for Hayate. Still, the way the episode ended, it seemed like Nishizawa and Nagi could actually be friends.
The karaoke singing reminded me of how often seiyuu perform the song tracks for different anime series. Of course that's a win for an anime company because they don't have increased licensing fees for using other people's works. Not only that, but when it comes to licensing out the anime to an R1 company, you don't have the issue that FUNimation had with Kodocha.
References: Feel free to send me any I missed or correct me if I'm wrong. If anyone knows the two manga titles in the library, let me know.
- When Nagi and Hayate inquire about an ultimate attack, we are given a scan shot of Maria-san in the outfit Bruce Lee wore in Game of Death. It is sorta similar to the one Uma Therman wore in Kill Bill, but in this episode, it is almost certainly from Bruce Lee's movie based on the pose Maria is seen in.
- In the library, when Nagi fantisizes about Hayate in gold armor, that apparently comes from the series Saint Seiya.
- When discussing the special technique for the fire attack, MAKOTO Shishio from Rurouni Kenshin is the one seen on fire as Nagi reads from the book.
- In the karaoke battle, Nishizawa-san sees Nagi as TSUKISHIMA Kirari-chan from manga and anime series Kirarin Revolution. I've not seen that series, but I'm told Nagi may even be singing the second OP theme from that series.