Pinkie Watches: Cowboy Bebop Episode 7 – Heavy Metal Queen

Hello again little lights!  Little by Little I am trying to get back into the swing of anime reviews! Well not so much reviews anymore as it is episode reactions! I hope to bring back an anime review every day sometime soon! Who knows by the time you see this we might be close already!  Of my seven anime I watched per week, Zombie Land Saga was the one I wanted to continue the most as it’s most in my style.. the second one I really wanted to pick up again was Cowboy Bebop! So here we go!  Let’s see how much I liked the seventh Episode.

Big Rigs In a shitty place

Unlike my review of Zombie Land Saga I completely watched this episode before I gave my reaction, I did not like the review format to much.. because it made me whiney or praise something I did not like at all, yet the as we go reaction causes a lot of pauses in the view , I get distracted and end up doing a lot of other stuff, so this is another way to try and approach it.  The Episode starts with a butch woman going by the name of V.T. She is a space trucker and she is walking into a trucker café.  She’s playing a lot of Heavy Metal on her speakers as she does. I don’t like heavy metal all that much but I must admit Cowboy Bebop uses it well.. I found the music annoying but it conveys that trucker atmosphere. The character design is quite gender ambiguous and since the voice kind of reminds me of Frieza.. that feeling was aided. Yet that is also kind of how I feel 80’s or 90’s  trucker women would be depicted and I don’t mean that in a bad way..there is this 80’s  action movie flavor to this episode and she fits right in it. 

There is a game going on to guess V.T.’s true name.. which no one does.. But I get it fairly soon as soon as I hear some bikers talk about rumors of a legendary bounty hunter… well her last name at least… but that one is SUPER complicated… so I forgot. Her favourite bar is crowded tonight as someone named Decker is on the planet and all these guys are Bounty Hunters… a great bridge is made to our no hung-over hero.  V.T. gets in a 80’s action fight with some ruffians and they spill Spike’s Anti hangover drink over him so he gets involved as well. I really like the choreography here, it really feels so 80’s.. including the narrative beats and music beats.. it really rocks! It kind of reminds me of Jack Burton from my favourite action movie!  He was a trucker as well!  Regardless the two bond a bit , she finds Bounty Hunters to be the worst people ever and of course this makes me know I have guessed the name right.  Spike plays along as she buys him a drink for helping.  She then withdraws that offer as she finds out the truth because of Faye.

Faye is sitting at a sort of Chuck E Cheese restaurant hoping to find Decker, who they only know has a Dragon Tattoo. When a big gorilla of a man walks in with a serpentine tattoo drawn on his chest she wastes no time and decides to confront him!  Obviously in typical 80’s fashion she got the wrong target and the real guy is a weasley nerd looking guy! Showing appearances can be deceiving. She chases him but with a little container he deals massive damage to her beloved ship!  Now he can get away freely so she has to call spike for help!  Those walkie talkies they have really cover some distance. I wonder where they got those!  V.T. wants nothing more to do with Spike and he leaves the “diner”  just to see his ship has been vandalised!  One of the Waitresses does the whole dumb blond thing that once again we see in 80’s movies. So much atmosphere!

Big Rigs in Space

Spike and Faye have to get towed.. and what better way to do that as with a truck. Spike catches a ride with V.T  so Jet can start working on their repairs.  Faye complains a lot about the heavy metal music but VT tells her to shove it basically because it is her ship! Which is completely fair. We also get a funny scene of Ein not eating Bean Sprouts which is the only food they have left.. showing money is scarce for the crew.. this means the bounty is probably going to get away again! Poor Ein! Going hungry like that!  This is a trope that I do kind of like but I also feel like we should at least be shown the crew making enough money to stay alive. I like dogs a lot so I kind of feel pained to see poor Ein be sold short! Last episode Faye ate his dog food as well.. What if that was his last can!  I would like to see them do a bit better at least.. if only for Ein’s sake. The whole atmosphere that we build up towards with the broken ships is pretty neat though! 

Having dropped off Faye and Spike, VT hears about a man in a space truck that rammed another trucker.. they had some dragon tattoo and some sort of buddhist art on their truck. VT knowing who it is seems to think she might be able to snag up a bounty and  deliver some street justice? I  am not really sure what her motivation is here.. I am bad at things like these. Truckers code maybe?! Who knows?!  She pursues the guy towards some Asteroid and Spike tells her not to go, thinking he is a stupid Bounty Hunter she ignores his call and we get a Truck Off!  Trucks ramming each other moving through asteroids and in general a pretty good space chase scene.. which kind of is reminiscent of … an 80’s action movie chase scene.  The villain however plays dirty and uses his weapon which turns out to be some advanced form of Nitroglycerin. VT is too skilled of a trucker to get done in by that and as she smirks, she realises the entire asteroid she is one is being used to mine some kind of explosive material and it has become totally unstable.  The villain meets his demise by his own doing.. which is quite conform.. that’s right 80’s action movies.

VT however is now up a creek without a paddle!  Her “truck”  crashed on a more and more exploding asteroid and her only shot to get out of this alive is by relying on the help of Faye and Spike. Both of them are rather bummed out on having missed yet another bounty but that’s when I notice the dialogue in this episode is really to the point. There isn’t a lot of “fluff” dialogue going on, these characters talk to each other but it’s not a conversation persé , all the dialogue is in service of the action and the main story.  At least after the first bar meet up. The characters don’t joke around here or say stuff like “If I ever am going to see a sunrise again I will. … <blank> “  No there is no lesson these characters learn, no larger appreciation for life and no witty banter to pad out the episode. I feel they talk like how normal people would which is a credit to the amazing writing. They just help and coach each other through certain actions and it still feels vibrant and interesting. 

This Trucker shows her real Face

The rescue operation becomes a lot more complicated when the meteorite collapses due to explosions and the exit is blocked. Now they have to use some tricky actions to get some Nitro into the collapsed part. Spike decides to use a play using his escape pod which forces him to space walk without a suit.  Without a shadow of a doubt he does it and he leaps towards VT.. He knows how she really is! He knows she will help despite her claiming to hate Bounty Hunters with a passion! I loved this scene! Spike doesn’t tell what he is going to do.. he just does it.. and while he is doing it everyone realises what is going on giving them the focus to do what they need to do.. but also drop those masks they sometimes hide behind. VT is forced to drop that harshness and Faye has to stop pretending to be weaker then she actually is.  She often plays the damsel in distress to gain an edge or to let others do her work but right now she can’t! She is forced to step up!

Spike is saved by VT in a rather weird way.. he misses the jump and falls into a weird form of  gravity.. so he uses his pistol to create momentum?!  That seemed odd to me.. I know there is knockback to a gun but would it really give him that much lift? Among all the anime I have seen so far where beams and magic is used as propulsion this feels.. flimsy and it looks kind of silly. For a slight moment it takes me out of the episode. Not for too long though! With an amazing explosion the group  makes it out of the destroying rock… just like an 80’s movie and we get a great conclusion! Spike just floats on the spaceship.. his near death experience still very present in his system.. he lights up a cigarette and thanks VT by her original name.. something I had already guessed. She is the wife of  one of the greatest bounty hunters after.. she lost him during a job and that’s why she hates them so much. That was really easy to guess I would be a great bounty hunter! 

The predictable ending can be justified with the words that it was well set up! I never minded it being so obvious and the same goes for most of this episode! I really enjoyed the story that happened here with the exception that I would have liked it if they would at least be able to feed Ein.. I don’t mind them being poor but I really hate to see a dog go hungry! That might be a weird thing for me to be so concerned about .. but in episode 5 the stealing dog food really made me angry and this time not being able to feed the dog kind of makes me sad! Luckily Ein is engineered to be smart so maybe he will understand!  I do hope we at least see one successful bounty or at least see them get some income! This episode Spike won a ton of cash but he did not accept it. I do look forward to the next episode though! The 6th episode was a bit middle of the road for me but with this I got pulled back in!

Animini: That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime – Episode 22 – Conquering the Labyrinth

Sweet island guests, today’s Animi cocktail will be served in a slightly cracked coconut. It will have a few bitter tones but overall will provide a sweet experience.  My Arceus , how annoying are the female Demon Lords in this show!  If I ever get reincarnated into THAT world please let me be a rope so I can strangle them!  That being said Slime offered a fairly okay episode again this week! While not great it is certainly nowhere near as shiit(ake-soy-sauce )  as the last arc.

The Summary

Despite Shizu suffering quite a bit due to being inhabited by a superior spirit , Rimuru still things this is the best way to let these kids live longer so he travels with them to the maze that holds the Spirit Queen, to find spirits he can put inside his class, she can help him summon. When the group enters the maze they are prepared for a maze-like place filled with traps. It turns out to be a straight hallway that is heavily enchanted, maybe they will end up wandering forever. Suddenly a voice begins echoing and laughing in their head, saying they are going to die here and trying to invoke fear. It works pretty well on Chloe, but the rest of the kids doesn’t seem all that scared, much to the chagrin of the voice.  Rimuru tells  what they are here to do and the voice chuckles thinking that sounds fun.  Suddenly the  ruins light up and a kind of portal appears.. well more like a Bifrost.. but either way Rimuru and his kids are invited to a new location! There the voice will give them a test! A fight against a pink mecha thing! YAY Pink represent!

Rimuru decides to talk the spirit out of it saying if the voice doesn’t make the Golem back down he will be forced to destroy it.. the spirit doesn’t believe he can do it and makes the Golem trying to kill Rimuru , who promptly ensnares and torches my beautiful new pink friend! It was great to have you here while it lasted, Golem-Chan! Rimuru then threatens to burn down the entity in their heads as well. A pixie shows up! She tells everyone she is Demon Lord Ramiris and she is like Milim..on caffeine pills. By all means just like with Milm she should be a character I really love but she mostly got on my nerves. Rimuru thinks she is too weak to be a demon lord but after she reveals Milim visited her fellow Demon Lord to tell about her new bestie Rimuru opens up to the idea. She is a lot wiser and has more support like abilities that might make her amazing after all. A lot of talking happens and she is bribed with a lot of cookies.  Since it is revealed Ramiris is also the Queen of spirits.. and like 20 other things.. (kind of like Denny was in Game of Thrones)  she tells Rimuru she is a neutral being and she will help him summon spirits to save the kids.  Which functions kind of weirdly but we are left with the children preparing for the ritual.

The Positives

The fact that the pink Golem was one of my highlights kind of shows quite well where I am in terms of liking this episode. I liked it fine.. but the element that got me most excited was that the creator coloured in something pink! I guess it works with Ramiris personality well.  But still I was most excited about a visual choice and a one minute encounter.  That being said on the design front this episode was truly excellent. I do very much like Ramiris design, she is cute but dark enough looking to indeed sell that she is a “fallen” queen.  Her personality is similar enough for me to believe she is friends with Milim and that Milim would come brag to her as I can easily imagine them being friendly but also have a fair bit of rivalry.  The magic maze , while not a maze was designed pretty nicely and I liked the idea of Rimuru exploring a dungeon  for once. Of course the colourful pixies floating around helped as well.  Design wise great episode.

I also like , in theory , how flawed these Demon Lords are,  it makes it feel an achievable status for pretty much everyone, making me believe that Rimuru at one point will get it.. probably because one of them will stupid enough to attack and end up being absorbed.  It leaves the path of progress open for Rimuru as I really feel that to progress beyond his current limitations he will probably need to absorb a Demon Lord.   Like I said in earlier reviews I am kind of unhappy that they tossed in so many creatures more powerful than Rimuru if there are no consequences to this. I am happy if you do it and there are consequences but if nothing bad happens anyway you might as well just keep him powerful, now it just feels like the plot is treading water.. but people like Ramiris show me.. there is hope for Rimuru to evolve. One will mess up and further the plot.. eventually.  I am also quite curious to see what kind of spirit these children will get so at least I am excited for this , semi final ish episode coming up. (As far as I know the other two episodes are set in a time before Rimuru) 

The Negatives

This isn’t a very strong episode for me however. The plot stalls several times. My biggest gripe is that they do the whole Charybdis thing again.. the Golem is said to be super powerful and that it might kill Rimuru if he fails to dodge.. he dodges twice.. then pretty much One Shots the thing again.  I am fine with him One shotting the thing.. but if we first get an explanation on how dangerous this thing is and how most of Rimuru’s magic won’t be effective , you start to expect a real fight but no.. he just kills it in one hit. I still do not mind the kill but I just feel the warnings before have become wasted. There is no need to think about how to defeat a monster if you already know! It is just bad writing to draw out an episode or a manga page. I don’t like it. It happens several times as well, Rimuru explains how hard this place will be to navigate… they get invited to progress immediately, Ramiris explains it is hard to summon a spirit, if they fail they will just create a new spirit they can use. So much safety nets that contradict earlier dialogue, making a lot of the text empty.

I have not made it a secret that I do not particularly enjoy Milim, while I do feel her personality was a bit much, she at least had the oomph to back it up.. she was just used very wrong.  Ramiris is even more annoying. There is this “Boy Who Cried Wolf” element to her that once again makes all her dialogue feel a bit “filler”  I am not even sure she is actually a Demon Lord. She shows up in the intro as her own separate presence. I just find her quite unpleasant to be around with or something! Not sure the character just doesn’t really work for me!  I like her level of peppiness.. but the whole punch throwing thing has been done since Scrappy Doo.. in fact he is a perfect analogy for her and there are a lot of people who do not like Scrappy Doo! Ramiris kind of annoyed me more! Like the Scrappy Doo , from the Third Scooby Doo movie in which he becomes the villain!  Just no!

The Score

Overall I am left with a mediocre episode that is in between Fine-Apple and Okiwi to me.
I did enjoy the Pink Golem a lot, and it is a beautiful episode to watch. It is nice to see some more classical fantasy elements such as dungeons exploring pop up more , at least on the main cast.   We have mostly seen action on a large scale. For a series that references Dragon Quest so much, it felt more like Slime, Total War or Slime Fantasy Tactics than as Slime Quest to me. While I do like the village growth it is quite good to see an adventure like this happen as well and it nails the location and the looks pretty much on the head. Definitely  this is one of the prettier episodes to watch!  Battles overall do look pretty in this show even though they are quite short and this one is no exception! Great choreography as well! 

However, everything that happens feels rather hollow and I do not blame the action, I blame the poor set up.. it feels extremely contradictory for me. “This Enemy is really strong” ..Oneshot. “This maze is super dangerous”….. “Please follow the shiny lights to get to the next area where your test will begin”. It’s like looking forward to a bag of crisps, what is in there is pretty good.. but once you open it and realise that half of the bag is filled with air you also kinda feel scammed. The annoying Fairy doesn’t do this episode any favours either.  While I do like her design and I would not mind her having this personality as much if she was the only one to have it, her being basically a copy of Milim but smart instead of strong..  makes her feel more throwaway and annoying. In fact it is because of the fact that she brings so little new to the table I will say this episode is not good enough to be fine-apple!

Animini: Zombie Land Saga – Episode 1 – Good Morning SAGA

Greetings my sweet Island Guests, today’s cocktail is something new yet unexpected. One may find the taste a bit odd.. but it is pretty much in line with “me” as a brand! So I planned to start watching The Promised Neverland here! Unfortunately Crunchyroll turns out to block this for my reason due to licensing issues. So I found myself without a show to watch!  I kind of wanted something weird or something Idol like.. so when I discovered this weird Idol show ( I did not know about it before)  I was sure! Zombie Girls trying to be Pop Idols! Yes! Yes! YES! 

The Summary

Sakura is a pretty girl who is about to start her second year in high school!  She happily is watching an Idol-show planning to be an idol herself one day! Dreaming off the future she hops into her shoes and happily starts running towards school!  Truck-Kun shows up however and we see the girl get ragdolled through the air. Heavy Metal music starts playing as we see her neck twist in an awkward position and the credits are presented in blood! Clearly this girl will not shrug it off. Yet the next thing we see is her waking up in a creaky old mansion. She has no memories of how she got here!  While exploring this strange place she is attacked by a woman who looks to be a zombie! She flees into another room which is filled with other girl zombies!  Scared for her life she flees the mansion. She first spots a sign showing she is in the fairly rural Saga Prefecture  and then she  sees a cop!  When she tries to tell him of her distress, he is scared of her and even fires his gun at her!  When she sees her own reflection in one of those traffic mirrors she is revealed to be a zombie as well.  Confused, she collapses.. When the cop is about to finish her off he is whacked in the head with a shovel and Sakura passes out. Neat! I did not know zombies could pass out!

When she wakes up the guy, a man dressed in a vest and sunglasses tells her of the plot. He is a necromancer it seems that resurrected her and a lot of other girls who had an idol like function throughout the course of history. Calling her his number 1. Apparently she was the first one to awaken to a conscious, although she has no memories of her old life.. the other girls.. are still just regular zombies. When she asks what this “stimulated”  thing is.. the man who introduces himself as Kotaro Tatsumi tells her it doesn’t matter and everything is like all that other zombie media.  His plan for resurrecting these girls is that he wishes to return glory to the Saga District.. who once produced some great idols!  This Idol Project he started is given a title that is quite similar to the title of the show! Would you look at that! Not quite but close enough!  As Sakura is being nibbled on by one of the braindead girls Sakura asks how he plans to make them idols.. and he says he entered them in an open stage event Today!  

Now in full mortal make-up Sakura discovers she has been signed up for a heavy metal open stage! This won’t go well, her new friends will surely eat the crowd. Tatsumi tells her she is responsible however .. and the performance begins. A nervous Sakura almost immediately gets booed off the stage and she narrowly avoids one of her fellow zombies to eat the audience. However when their new manager begins to play some metal music a few of the girls find themselves headbanging ..flailing their broken bodies around, as if their necks were broken.. impressing the metalheads.  The blond zombie whose name I don’t know yet.. even though it was shown once..  finds a megaphone and begins screaming in it.. randomly.. it amps up the metalheads even more. Sakura sees this and just wails in the microphone as well and flails her broken body around to do some impressive headbanging.

The crowd goes wild and while staring into the stage light it seems as if Sakura remembers something.. an idol group of some kind!  She is having a fun time and decides to stage dive…. which leads to the other girls following her example and munching on the audience. As Sakura remembers her first failed performance she also thinks back on those idols she met. Then a scream is heard from the house! She runs inside and finds out nearly all the zombie girls have suddenly awakened. She has an awkward talk to make.. she starts addressing them by shouting GOOD MORNING.

The Positives

Okay long Summary! But hey that is quite usual with first episodes!  I had a great time with this show and it is a great show to watch in times like these. It’s super breezy and lighthearted but I also found the episode to be quite creative!  The show is super self aware which gives it a nice and lovely tone. It doesn’t create false expectations, it will just give you a big stupid grin for being something so silly yet charming.  I also like the visuals, it is bright despite also being washed out and zombie-like at the same time. It shows the contradiction between the world of zombies and Idols well. I also really like the voice actress so far!  She just feels so right for the part and the stress and confusion in her voice can be heard when she experiences these emotions. There is a lot of colour in that voice and that is important for an Idol show I’d say!  The design of the girls is all pretty amazing as well. I don’t know them much yet but I really love the bitey zombie!  The Blonde and the Blue haired girl really appeal to me as well.  I really like how the Blue one was depicted with a big heart on the outside.  There is a lot you can do with this.

I also love how much contrast there is in this show. We see a super cute girl running out in the street.. then I see one of the most brutal truck-kun kills yet!   Quite visceral!  Mostly because we just see her head crack against the window and then ragdolled in slow motion as slowly parts of her body seize to function, letting go of her homework, her head falling back with eyes that grow more empty! Eek! The metal music playing with that.. while not a type of music I appreciate too much unless sung by Johathan Young, really helped this scene.  The idea of cute girls singing metal on stage reminds me of the charm of BabyMetal. I like them as well… kinda!  There is a constant balance between dark and somewhat edgy with ultra cute and I really dig that.  I also like that the show knows you can’t really write this stuff well so they spoof it themselves, making a joke about not providing satisfying answers. I know I will not get those now.. and at least I can chuckle with it.

The Negatives

While I will not be terribly harsh on it, I do think the first episode misses a good song to bob to!  Love Live had the amazing Start Dash,  and while I might not expect Death Musume (Name Pending)   to do the song.. perhaps a sweet idol song from future rivals or something would have been a good way to insert a bit more idol feelings. Have Sakura sing an idol song at the beginning of the show.. a song she was working on.. forgot and through the course of the show might be able to remember.  In short I wanted a bit more of that “Pitch Perfect” Vibe. While I still got a very funny and colourful comedy, I don’t think it is that unfair to ask for at least a bit of music in an Idol show right?!   A bit more background in Sakura’s idol dream could have done wonders! It’s good as it is but it is just something that could have been done better, in my humble opinion! Who knows maybe she will remember more later.

While I do love the idea of having a super vague story that is filled with plot holes that the characters just ignore, I do want to know more about how these zombies work,  will they infect people they bite? Probably not.. given that they are dead people from across time I am 95% sure they were made by necromancy!  I don’t think those zombies infect. It might be something we will see next episode!  I also would not mind if the show leaned a bit more into that darkness. When we see the zombies attack the audience, show a bit of blood, confirm a fatality or something! I do like the mix between light and dark, but I feel the show could use a little more commitment to the dark aspects.. that being said I do think they will fade away a bit more as the girls become more aware so it is quite excusable! Though if that darkness DOES indeed fade away I think that would kind of be all the more reason to do it!  So yeah.. again not so much a negative as it would be a point of improvement.

The Score

This episode is a clear Berry Good to me!  It is a very personal Berry Good though because this show is weird and self aware . It isn’t very clean written, some things don’t make sense and there isn’t much depth. In fact if you would be able to talk to this episode and ask “Where is your Depth?” It would probably answer “Depth? Isn’t that that guy who got fired from those wizardy movies?… Oh hey look… a butterfly” So this is one of those shows that is very much not for everyone, yet I felt it is very much for me!  It is also perfect for when you are feeling a tad blue, it is just cute but kind of twisted fun! I was in the mood for that so yay! It pretty much delivered what I expected from it!  I really never heard of this before so I was happy to have discovered it!  

I do not think this anime will enter in my top 5 anime anytime soon, though  they are almost all exclusively weird shows so who knows!  It might just get there.. I already rate it higher than Code Geass  and Attack on Titan, so this is probably really a show for me!  I hope it doesn’t go deep into lewding the Zombie girls, that would completely ruin this for me but I have no idea on what to expect!  For now I kind of think it is anime junkfood. Sometimes you can appreciate that more than a gourmet meal, and while I am in lockdown, I am just a few cute songs shy of falling in love! 

Steampunk? Steamball? Steamboy!

Welcome back to Paradise my dear Island guests, I am dropping the steampunk greetings because I ran out!  So instead I will go with: “Good day dear guest, welcome to another beautiful day in Paradise, today we serve you this special blend of Anime-Spritz and the Movie-to.  Two parts Steampunk with a solid dash of Katsuhiro Otomo one part Star Wars and expectedly garnished with a bit of Akira.  This review will take you through my experience with Steamboy!

Akira but with Steam

Steamboy came out in 2004 and is directed by the man the legend Katsuhiro Otome himself. He is known as the man who revolutionised anime with his iconic flick.. Akira! This movie cost 20.2 million dollars and is one of the most expensive animated movies of all time. Certainly at that time. A Blueray these days costs you about 19,90 which I assume will be the dollar price as well as you guys tend to get that stuff cheaper than us. My version at least offered me the chance to choose between sub and dub and this had me pondering for a bit.  I am a sub girl.. very much but the dub cast consists of Alfred Molina, Patrick Stewart and Anna Panquin among others and it sounds absolutely phenomenal.  However the matching lip flaps stuff isn’t done as well.  As a sub-girl I watched the movie subbed. For two reasons. Anna who plays Ray, our main character fakes a british accent, and while she does it pretty good it is a fairly thick accent.. making it slightly harder for me as a non native english speaker to understand being the most important. The second the main characters being the Steam family. In Japanese their name is not translated.. so Steam and steam .. which both appear in this movie a lot.. are more separable.  Watching the dub however I think is completely justified!

The movie tells the story of James “Ray” Steam. Son of the great Dr Edward “Eddie” Steam and grandson of the legendary Lloyd Steam. Unbeknownst to Ray his father and grandfather make an invention that can propel the world into the next age of science. The mysterious Steamball. However after a workplace accident Eddie and Lloyed now follow very different beliefs. One seemingly took the side of the Americans and the O’Hara foundation.. led  by the Child-Ojousama Scarlett O’Hara St Jones and the weasley CEO Simon. The other takes the side of Robert Stepehnson, a british nationalist and fellow inventor.  When Lloyd mails Ray one of the three Steamballs, he quickly finds himself marooned between both sides and has to fight his way out of many dangerous situations so that the true philosophy of science can survive. In doing so however war between America and Britain almost seems unavoidable as Ray quickly finds out that power corrupts. It’s a fairly interesting story that does have its flaws. With the runtime of slightly over two hours this movie outstayed its welcome just a bit. For me one of those moments happened at the 45 minute mark and the second near the end. I never would have turned it off but there were points where I was like… hmmm we are treading water a bit.

America vs Great Britain

The set piece for this movie is great. An alternative take on Britain in 1866. The concept of steam having reached its limits and people trying to break it is intriguing. The quasi science behind is that people found a liquid water-like element or material that can both solidify and turn to steam within a small margin or something..with a denser base one can cram a lot more steam in small containers and make it more productive. The money hungry Americans want it to make MONEY and lots of it while the proud british want to use it for Queen and Country and to subject those who would oppose them. One of the scientists believes that we should explore all facets of science.. even the ones that can be used for nefarious gains, it is up to humans to handle them responsibly and the other beliefs mankind can not be trusted with power like  this. Science is meant to serve man not rule over them.  Ray works as a neutral perspective; he just loves gadgets and tech and thinks a tank is really cool when he sees one. He does however think a tractor is pretty dangerous because one nearly destroyed his house.  It’s where one of this movie’s greatest strengths yet also it’s weaknesses lie. It doesn’t really choose a side… until very very late in the movie. It does keep the plot exciting and shows us some amazing steampunk tech, pretty cool utilities and wonderful locales.. yet we also see a main character that doesn’t know very well what he is fighting for or who he is running from.

I do not mind this neutral approach but they back out of it hard, at one point one side is revealed to be pretty evil.. and then near the end they are not..or they regret it and flip.. I am not sure how to explain that. A lot of characters have ulterior motives, lie about their beliefs and or change them as the movie goes along  and a two hour movie is kind of too short  to tell that.  It results in a lot of idealistic speeching to get the point across the movie is trying to make but that sometimes doesn’t make sense.. like speaking about your ideals against what is essentially your boss. Or telling a kid waaaay more than you would tell a kid. As a result some of the speeches feel a bit forced. So Ray  talks to person A, maybe he can’t be trusted, Person B explains his side, Person C tells Ray to be careful and why science should be treated with more care.. but the person is confused.. so maybe it’s person D who has the right vision..who of course also speeches. In the end they are all kind of assholes..but also not?! It’s a tad much.

When action is happening however this movie is great!  The Steampunk inventions work in a really mechanical and realistic way and a slew of interesting gadgets is pulled in. Very early Ray for example has to flee from some bad guys on his steam cycle.  It as an invention that has not fully worked yet so before he can fire it up properly he has some issues and tumbles around in the wheel (it is basically one large steam propelled wheel )  .. in  trying to flee he tries to lose them by quickly hiding behind a Steam train that is coming their way..but the way rails are designed keeps the cycle locked on track. (He had a ramp to get in before)  every scene has tiers as it were. It is not just throwing punches… it is feeling out what the problem is, finding a solution and making it happen. All the fights and action scenes are conquered by clever thinking like how a scientist would.  Yes there is a powerful mcguffin but it doesnt give power as one would in Shonen.. people almost never overpowered…except for a war going on in the background..  but the action fits the tone of this movie so much. Then there are the more comedic scenes and discovery scenes that pack so much charm.. it only has too many speeches.

Well put Together

What stood out to me most is how absolutely stunning this movie is! It looks gorgeous! This is a 2004 movie so it’s 16 years old but it looks so clean!  Yes it is really brown and grey like all steampunk movies and most period pieces, yet the movie knows when it is enough and treats you to a beautiful coloured scene as well.  The details look amazing and this might be the only movie where I do not mind that they used 3d graphics in a 2d movie. It blands in so well and gives everything “mass” Wind effects, steam effects they all look SOOOO great in this movie. I am not a big visual type of person but this , this wowed me! It looks 80’s in design , quite close to Akira but  with all the commodities of modern animation. I would not describe it as realistic.. but just by looking at it you can add adjectives to every item. The heavy lever, the creaky crank. Just by looking at some parts you know how much force you would have to use to  pull it down or make it move. Pipes twist shapes from having too much pressure little glass cracks from shockwaves nearby. Ray’s aviator goggles shatter after his first crash landing.. there are so many small details

The characters are also great. Scarlett O’Hara St Johnson, who is indeed based on the character from Gone with the Wind for example seems like your typical Oujousama , she feels too good for everything.. she is super shallow but rather than having her completely overcome this it is because of said shallowness she discovers some of her beliefs or some stuff her company does doesn’t work for her.  Per example.. she talks to a person she has warm sentiments for seeming worried.. however once she founds out it will give her less money .. she thinks of him as a bad element.. influencing something else she likes..  She really wants to keep that..so her mind finds a way to explain how she can have her way.  Later on however she sees one of her machines is causing destruction.. the CEO spins it to her as a marketing tool.. so people can see what they will buy! She is against this however because she doesn’t want the “pretty things” to be broken. We see growth, as in the person learns what they want and do not want and what is more important for them.. but they do not morph into a great hero who learned their lesson.

Ray and both Lloyd and Eddie get plenty of similar obstacles in their way. Ray wants to do right.. but he is very idealistic.. he isn’t in this to do right by some or to do right by the good side.. he wants to do right for all. He also believes man is good.. and those traits get him in trouble.. but he doesn’t give up on that. He stays who he is and sticks with his choices, even if that choice is not making a choice. Eddie and Lloyd also make decisions based on this and even Simon who is but a minor character can’t help but showcase his dominant character trait .. being Greed even when it endangers his life. Yes he is weasley, yes he is your typical  “snake man” archetype..  he doesn’t do the whole chickening out thing , not really at least, however he is not stupid enough to die for his greed either. Characters stay themselves rather than being a stereotypical movie role. That can lead to a few eyeroll moments, as “in other movies, the hero would have learned by now” .. but that is just the point.. these situations happen because it just so happens to be these characters that were put in this situation and I love that so much!

Soaring to the Skies

The movie does fall in the pitfall of having too many finales, the final encounter has so many tiers that it stops being interesting in the final step or so. It’s still amusing but I reached a point where I would be fine with any outcome as long as it would end.  It’s not quite “you haven’t even seen my final form” levels.. but there are definitely too many elements in the end. Reason is once again those shifting alliances and believes. What starts as Small guy versus big corporate evildoers ends up as England versus America and that ends up in..  about 8 subgroups or so each doing their own things. It makes sense.. but it all is a bit convoluted and it means some plottreats do not go anywhere. There is a big thing about scuba divers in steampunk suits but one falls off the stairs because he trips and that ends the entire thing with the Scuba divers.. We see a character be built up as super important in the conflict and at one point he just stands there and watches.. while he technically was still doing things… and of course for some reason each side has the perfect counter for the other teams surprises packed and loaded on their ships.  Air Travel is still unheard of yet  when America shows something in those veins. and Brittain goes.. what the F is that thing.. they also go like “Hey now we can test out that weapon we made in case people made such a thing we were just so utterly surprised by”  It dulls the background conflict significantly.

The action with Ray and Scarlett amidst that war is finger licking good!  The story is descent with flaws, the action only has that one bigger setback. Critics rate this movie with about a 6,6 out of 10 and a 6,9 on IMDB. However I do feel those scores are way too low.  On Metacritic this movie scores an 8.7 out of 10  from the audience and that I find is a much fairer score. I would put it slightly lower due to it’s chunky runtime and excessive speeches, which I could forgive if the finale was a BIT more on point but for a movie about the glory of science, for a movie about steampunk I could not wish for much more than what I have got.  Even after finding this movie too long I kind of want  to rewatch it dubbed sometime.. not right now , not even this year anymore but I really want to watch the dub as well at some point and that has to be a seal of approval right there. A sub-girl who liked this movie so much that she would like to see if the dub would make her appreciate it even more!

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Animini: Natsume Book of Friends – Episode 6 – The Sparrow at the Bottom of the Lake

Sobby and Sniffly Salutations my Island Guests! Natsume let me feel stuff again! I kind of cried for a character I saw in a single episode again! Well not really cried but I was misty eyed nonetheless. This might be the first thing I am not giving a perfect score despite making me cry! It came very close.. but it just missed out! In this blog I will discuss the 6th episode of Natsume Book of Friends.

The Summary

Natsume and his friends, I think,  are taking a bike tour when they come across a “drowned” village.  A village that got flooded and abandoned by building a dam. Of course Natsume sees a present but his friends, I think,  do not.  The addition to the “i think” comes from  the fact that I don’t really know anything about them. They are always around him and interact with Natsume regularly but he doesn’t really seem to hang out with them.. except for this time. I assume they are friends but they also could be a study group or something!  Regardless, Natsume sees something.. it fades.. then with a whoosh of wind he is knocked out. He wakes up at home, the doctor tells he has a heat stroke but we soon find out he is possessed. He finds this out by returning the names of a few Yokai who dwell in the drowned city. In return for helping him they give him a magic mirror that allows him to discover the possession. Nyanko pushes off the spirit and as it leaps for Natsume.. Donned in a Swallow mask, Natsume punches it. The mask breaks and it is revealed a girl wearing an eye veil is underneath..with pure intentions.

She wants to see someone again, for one final time before her spiritual energy grows too weak and she fades away. This is her dream and Natsume takes a liking to her and decides to help Madara/Nyanko’s Chagrin. His “friends” help him get an address for this man and while Natsume and the girl yokai go look for the man they begin to bond a bit. Natsume learns this girl named Tsubame (meaning Swallow)  was once a Baby Swallow who fell out of the nest.  A kind human put her back in the nest…but since it now was tainted with human scent the parents abandon the nest and Tsubame cries for food..while seeing her brothers and sister starve.  Blaming herself the resentment caused her to transform into what she calls a demon. This demon hid from the world.. but a kind man kept feeding her every day.. this is the man she wants to meet again. She does.. and while waving at him happily and talking to him he ignores her.. unable to see her. Tsubame says she is super glad she got to do this but it is not enough for Natsume.. he wants her to actually talk to the man. To help her he attends a festival  of Yokai .. led by the guy who gave him the magic mirror earlier.   The Yokai can win a Yukata that allows them to appear as humans for a day. Even though the spirit plans to eat Natsume he is determined to compete and win for Tsubame’s sake.  With the help of Madara he does so. He gives Tsubame the yukata and says his goodbye.. never seeing her again. A few days later he asks the man if he ever saw Tsubame and the man shows him a picture of them attending a festival together. Natsume sobs a bit.. glad his new friend got what she wished for and looked happy..but also clearly sad he will never see her again.

The Positives

I loved Tsubame myself.. and the last line.. to think that she is gone already made me super sad.  She is voice acted great and drawn great and written great. You just start to care for her. When Natsume tells she is slowly losing strength I genuinely was genuinely worried for her.  The way she waves to that person that is so important to her.. telling him all sorts of things with a smile on her face while clearly she must know he can not hear her really pulled my heartstrings!  It is also good to see Natsume form an actual bond for once. This is not an act of convenience,  or because it is right or because he wants to figure out more about his grandma.. no Natsume has taken a shine to this “person” and enjoyed her company and spirit and wishes to see things end well for. Much like with the tiny guardian. I found myself quite infatuated with this swallow girl and her story.. despite being quite generic and birdlike made me look at it from the fletchling perspective. Poor little birds slowly starving. The idea of seeing your brothers and sisters get abandoned because you messed up.. and got greeted with an act of kindness.. it really worked for me and became something bigger.

I also like the idea of Natsume acting with the spirit world a lot. He punches the spirit, he races against them,  he gets a magical item from their world and uses it to further his agenda.. (though selfless). It makes the world of Yokai a lot bigger  than just the names in the book. Where I compared  it with an inverse Pokemon after the first episode I now realise that analysis is incorrect because these Yokai are much more people with their own little world for us to understand. Their own bonds, their own emotions and now even their own items and culture! Do take note though that I like the idea.. not the way it is executed, more on that in a little bit. The series is working towards expanding its possibilities and does so early on so it can not fall into a hole and I really like that. The hug Natsume got also feels like the first reward he really got.. it might seem tiny.. but it is something and I really needed to see that.

The Negatives

Had this episode only featured Tsubame I would have easily given this my highest rating yet! I really love that character A LOT more than I should do for a one episode character. The other Yokai in this episode though.. are a problem. They aren’t bad persé.. but it is like  putting Merryl Streep in a movie with Tyler Perry or with Will Arnett.  You know the latter two will be completely blown away by the former. The tournament host and magic mirror guy feels a bit forced.. he transforms into the same type of demon Madara is and they scuffle for a bit but it isn’t that interesting. It feels a bit soap-opera-like .. exposition needed to tell the real tale. I like the Kimono as a magic item, the race kind of feels forced however.  There is a Kimono stuck in a tree and all Yokai must race there without using their Yokai powers.  Natsume goes undercover but has too short legs  to win.. it all feels a bit nothingy.. while I do get we see Madara start to care for Natsume here.. I feel this could have been done in a much more interesting way.

The race also offers another problem, the plot feels a tad messy. This is in part due to the fact that Natsume has to attend a Festival one day, so Tsubame can attend another. Kind of like forcing Cinderella to win a dance-off to win tickets for the ball. I didn’t really like that structure. Also how did Natsume know where the other guy is while he was out racing Yokai, I doubt he could track the guy during all that. It just felt really weird and awkward to me. The other spirit is just so weakly written. I give you a peek in this magic mirror. .. which turns out just the thing to start the plot. He is an engine and not a very well written one and it takes some serious shine out of an otherwise amazing episode.

The Score

I loved half of this episode and I truly mean loved!  Man if I ever become a mother I am gonna starve all my kids hopefully the last survivor will be as great as Tsubame. It is great to see a more alive and emotional Natsume, even though seeing him cry made me get some tissues.  I love how this show can invoke those feelings and this is the third time it did.  It did it in a much more raw way then episode 2 and 4 as well …  jeez even numbered episodes rule in this series so far.   Had this episode been pure between Natsume and the little Swallow I would have had my new favourite episode of the show. The good in this episode isn’t just good!  It really is amazing.

Unfortunately the rest of this episode kind of feels half baked. The rest of what we see is not that much more than exposition or plot convenience.  I am super happy they chose to keep these events separate from Tsubame but in a way that also makes it worse.. you know.. as if they are aware of the fact that this part of content isn’t as good.  The pacing in the Tsubame bits is great and I LOVE the idea of Natsume never seeing her again.. and being insecure ..but so curious he talks to a stranger, which seems very against character.. it shows how much he cares.  Yet the pacing with the other spirit is quite poor. The race had no Oomph what so ever and even Nyanko/Madara’s decision to help Natsume was overshadowed by its “let’s get this over with.. we have a better story to tell” pacing. It’s like having a delicious meatball and some vegetables but not really a way to call it a dish so you pour on some water and some noodles and call it ramen.  The meatball is still exceptional but now that is part of a dish it will only be described as good.

Animini: Revolutionary Girl Utena – Episode 3 – On the Night of the Ball

Steampunk themed greetings are hard everyone! So let’s just say Hello today! Hello! The first episode of Revolutionary Girl made me question if this would be a show for me. The second episode of Revolutionary Girl convinced me that it would be a great show!  THIS episode of Revolutionary girl … made me feel both. There was so much of this episode that I love, yet I also found myself not being particularly invested. Will I continue watching this show?! Let’s find it by breaking down this episode.

The Summary

This is the first episode that dives a bit deeper in the social culture of the school! The theme is friendship. Utena wants Anthy to make some friends, who dismisses her claims of not having friends by saying she has Chuchu! Which Utena acknowledges but she adds a but everytime she does. Also showing Chuchu’s silly antics. Utena wants to make Anthy a bit less uptight and tells her to drop the honorifics around her! Unfortunately this fails to leave an when the entire school uses those same honorifics. Anthy tells her she has to because she is her bride. Utena doesn’t agree with that and says she might dress like a boy.. she still wants to find a regular boy. Really Utena?!  This for me feels odd, given how interested she was in Anthy in the first part and her self claimed mission is to be a prince that saves a princess. Before I had a bit of a role reversal fairy tale vibe and this moment really brings us back to the classical moment. Especially since she seems kind of, but not really ,  interested in Student Council President Touga Kiriyuu. Him having a ring really surprises her and makes her think he is her prince. Didn’t the green haired guy already tell her this?! Doesn’t he need a ring to enter that dueling grounds.. so would it not be clear there are more rings?!  Am I missing something here?! Why would she be into the kind of flattery he provides?! She snaps herself out of it to keep her image.. but it feels like she could go for this guy!

The second half of the episode starts with the introduction of Nanami , Touga’s sister.   She saves Anthy from being bullied, she informs the woman that she has been nominated for queen of the ball. Now I should probably think the student council and the battle of the rose has anything to do with it.. but there was only one word that popped up in my mind. Carry! Anthy will be bullied at the ball. I just knew it and after a lot of social debate whether she should go or not, that hinged on if Utena would come along in her Frilly dress or not  that’s exactly what happened. WHile Utena is distracted by Touga it is revealed that Nanami is jealous of Anthy as her brother keeps talking about the Rose Bride.. and she wants to embarrass her. So she gave the woman a dress that dissolves when it gets wet and spills champagne all over Anthy. Seeing her friend in trouble, Utena tosses off her dress revealing her male uniform beneath it. She struts to a now naked and embarrassed Anthy and pulls a tablecloth spilling all the punch and snacks!  She puts the table cloth over Anthy which becomes a pretty white dress! Together they dance and give Anthy a bit of a nicer social evening, while Touga gushes over Utena , Nanami will exact revenge upon her.

The Positives

There was a lot to like about this episode! Utena being forced in a dress is the first time we see the character really outside the comfort zone. She has always stayed quite composed  even when it was announced Anthy is now her fiancée .  She just ignores it and cool headedly walks on. However walking around in a cute pink frizzy dress sends her over the edge a bit. We also see her a bit embarrassed by all the flattery of the girls earlier, so it is quite nice that for once we don’t just see “powerchick” Utena. Her concern for Anthy’s lack of a social life is nice as well but it would be more compelling if we see Utena do fun stuff with her friends before. Now we mostly see her classmate and friend bother her a bit and nearly kill her  by jumping on her back while Utena is looking at Bishounen Men!  Still quite cute and it makes her such a good guy character.  I also really like how she still refuses to play by the rules of some silly game, even if everyone else takes it super seriously. She lacks the context so she doesn’t believe in it.  The mystery of the rose ring is kind of being made more compelling as well now.. though I really think she should have noticed the ring on the green haired guy as well! From a narrative stance I also like Nanami as a rival of sorts. The game of the rose kind of made this a bit tricky before, as everyone just plays so neatly by the rules there was no sense of a threat. While petty pranks might not be severe it at least adds some tension!

What I like best is the second half of the episode!  It’s great to see this type of show deviate early from the “monster of the week” format. It could have been easily done that Utena just has to fight duel after duel and I had come to expect that and this episode shows me, it doesn’t do that. There are some heavy cinderella vibes in here as well and I really like fairy tales mixing with anime! This episode really warmed my heart.. mostly. Utena just doing right, the cute dance scene. Even that weird Black Butler like.. voila.. this table cloth is now a dress , thing.  I really dig it and enjoy myself just watching stuff unfold!  A lot of stuff happening is really pleasing to me! I am enjoying myself.. yet I do not find myself as captivated as with other shows still.

The Negatives

I oftenly measure how good I think an episode is based on the number of times I made a screenshot! I do that as I watch I just capture the screen a few times. The less I do this the more engaged I am.. sometimes resulting in the relatively bad screenshots! As I have little to work with! Utena however I consistently have lots of screenshots for and the reason is .. I am not THAT engaged.  I am having fun.. but I am not sucked in. The feeling stems from what I feel like is a bit of an inconsistent main character.  The first episode I could have sworn Utena was all over Anthy.. now she almost takes a motherly role, while in the second she takes a shine to Chuchu more then to Anthy..but Chuchu sleeps with Utena?!  She wants to find a boy despite her mission of being a prince ? She also wants to find her prince?!  THat is not really what the opening narrative told us.  I get why.. because the prince depicted in the story is clearly related in some shape or form to Anthy.. having the same skin tone and almost the same hair… but this is why I do not believe this curveball works! At all!

When I compare this to Cowboy Bebop which I will classify as Timeless, Utena has a much more 90’s feeling into it! While seemingly having a progressive message, I find the story telling to be less careful. A dress that dissolves when wet?! I have never encountered such a thing .. I am sure it exists but would you not feel something being off with the fabric.   While I get why Utena thinks Anthy has friends, why does Anthy blindly trust in the legitimacy of this?! Touga’s design seems quite Pegasus like (the yugioh guy)  it might be because of his mysterious council and the dark music that plays around him but I can NOT see him as a viable partner for Utena..all the warning flags are up that he will not be a good partner for her. If it turns out he is good and being her partner I will stand corrected.. but it feels so telegraphed that it’s not.. so I am not invested in that fake out! One again this show is very obvious and I am not sure if that is my thing.

The Score

On the one hand I got a delightfully entertaining episode that on it’s own kept me quite entertained. Without having seen the opening, without having heard the villainous music that plays when he is sitting with his council members, without his fairly evil-like design I might be into this more. If the show is teaching me not to judge a book by it’s cover by baiting me into believing he is a bad guy…credits to them! It is working! So maybe this is really good..  The story beats this episodes follow on it’s own are great and the Ballroom dance was quite touching! I was happy to see Anthy smile like that and to have fun with Utena at the prom! I even liked the introduction of Nanami.. it prevents the show from becoming mostly a “boys versus girls” type of show. I also like the Oujousama type and she seems like she just might be one!  I am curious to find out what happens with her.

Yet I can not shake this feeling the show isn’t doing enough to keep me pulled in. I feel adrift , not knowing what to expect from Utena because I ‘ve seen three pretty different versions so far.  Some choices the show makes are seemingly too obvious! I might be deceived here.. but if I am not.. they are really not doing well on the subterfuge end. It’s like having Maine Qaraqtar as a lead.. and she has two options for love Rho Mance and  Red Harrington.  Then you ask your audience to be engaged with the “totally real” romance between Maine Qarqtar and Red Harrington!  Yeah Right! I just don’t believe it. Regardless of the show is fooling me or Failing to fool me, the fact that I don’t buy Touga x Utena knocks this episode down to just being fine.

Animini: Cowboy Bebop – Episode 5 – Ballad of Fallen Angels

Steamed Hams and steamed hello’ my sweet Island Guests! Closing of the week has never been as exciting as before I watched cowboy Bebop! Of course I have already watched this episode before sunday.. so it’s more of a metaphor but still! This show is really really good! This episode is easily the best one so far. With a dark broody tone .. and what I assume will be the series villain being introduced. I vaguely remember being spoiled by the “Bang” scene  and I think I saw that guy! Not sure and please don’t confirm or deny.. Yet.. boy.. did I have some fun this week! 

The Summary

The episode begins with a shady deal between two mob-like boss figures making a treaty of sorts. One looking a bit friendlier and human than the other.  They are in his house when the deal is closed when he sees his guest leave.. he also sees the man is blown up!  Then strangers walk into his house and hold his neck against a Katana. A man named Vicious shows up.. though the name is only revealed later. With a little motion he has the man known as Mao Yenrai executed.  Unbeknownst to Jet that this bounty has become inaccessible he finds himself at odds with Spike.. who doesn’t want to take this bounty for unknown reasons. The lack of transparency  vexes Jet.. while Faye walks in after a successful shopping trip, showing she has now fully joined the crew. I like how that happened. It makes it feel a bit more natural. Spike walks off angrily and goes planetside to walk it off.  There he meets a shopkeeper named Annie, shocked to see Spike alive. Apparently he had connections with her and Mao in the past.. and this Vicious  guy seems to be part of the same organisation as Mao.. as the guy spoke of betrayal.. I am not sure.. but I think that was what happend.

Faye however does not know about all this backstory and just sees a high bounty number so she decides to try and capture Mao.. and she finds herself being overwhelmed by a surprisingly well prepared Vicious and his mobsters. He must have one heck of a source.  She gets captured and Spike goes back to the Bebop .. but is armed by Annie.. now goes to stop Vicious.. there seems to be a lot of past between these two.  The meet is in an old church.. that I think will also be the scene for the final episode.. but I am not sure!   A shootout happens and Faye manages to escape while Spike pursues Vicious.. not letting a few gunshot wounds stop him. Faye calls Jet for help not wanting to see Spike get killed and the man reluctantly goes to rescue his friend. Who fights Vicious in front of a stained glass window. The two have a mexican standoff but instead of rolling away like gentlemen and resetting the fight.. both take the killshot.. missing because both get harmed. Spike gets stabbed and Vicious gets shot… but Vicious manages to throw Spike out the window towards his death.. but the quick fingers of Spike allow him to leave a grenade behind.. As Spike falls to his death.. his life flashes in front of his eyes..showing shards of the story of him and vicious and a blonde girl that I think got killed by Vicious.  The church explodes.. and Spike’s vision goes dark.. he Remembers the blond woman singing to him.. but it is actually Faye watching over him on the Bebop.. he calls her tonedeaf and she punches him with a pillow and tosses cards on him an ace of space is used as a recurring symbol.

The Positives

Almost everything was spectacular in this episode. Every single set piece carried so much weight. The opera house, the house of the Mafia guy , the tiny little store, the church. It brings so many layers of society to the table. It shows people linked in the past are at very different places now. It also fills in some of the classic Film Noir tropes quite well. Which really gives this episode so much atmosphere and weight. It feels important just because of how things unfold.  We see heavier use of visual metaphors with the ace of spade, the flashbacks, the dramatic slow motions. the bigger close up on the eyes.  It all has been seemingly designed to carry weight.. to feel big. I do not realise yet what the full scope of this is.. but it all feels some more relevant than Twinkle Maria last week! The stakes are higher here.. this matters more and it oozes out of every pore of this episode.  From the way Vicious is designed but brought into frame that clearly to the sepia filter of Spike’s memories.  The implications that Spike now knows?! Was he a criminal before as well? What caused him to fake his death.. is this blond woman really dead? I assume so.. but  the film follows classic Noir Archetypes.. so you never know. 

I really enjoyed how the action felt once again.  The guns seem to really have a kick to them.  Characters hold still to fire, even when running towards their opponent there is this moment where they let the gun do the talking.. and it seems much more subjected to real life forces. Not always.. but the way bullets shoot church pews away, how different weapons are used at the same time and how they interact with the environment differently makes this fight have such an impact. In 90% of the anime mobs all use the same gun and half of the time it makes just a few sparks people jump over.. here Spike has to run dip and dodge depending on that type of arm his enemies have. It just ands so much oomph to the action.  The explosion from the church also was pretty amazing…. granted I do not think the explosion should be that big given how the first grenade exploded.. but the falling out of the window scene.. with the shards of glass chasing Spike as his eyes dim.. was one heck of a well done “action” scene.  So much motion and it really felt as if everything had different weight when falling.  I really love that sense of materialism.. that this show has..  it’s not so much.. how do we make this look cool.. but more Hollywood.. where I can see this in live action much more than most anime.. that sounds like a determinant..but not for this show..  not for me.

The Negatives

The downsides of this episode are ones I really had to look for with a fine toothed comb. The first is that I kind of dislike that Vicious knows about Faye Valentine.  Unless Jet is a traitor of sorts which I highly doubt right now.. It doesn’t feel like it’s knowledge he should have.  Then again she has been shopping on the planet..but assuming her association with Spike seems just that tiny bridge too far. Just like how big that final explosion was.  It works in the confines of this world but it felt like just a tad much. I would have preferred she gave up her association with Spike herself.. then when he rushed in to save her.. she regretted it prompting her to call Jet.. now Vicious feels a bit high and mighty.. considering what we have seen other people in his position do with their power. Minor  thing though.

There are a few more things like this such as Faye being able to have her spaceship equipped with gun turrets land in front of a high prestige opera house seems like something these worlds should have a counter for. The shoplifting  boys seem a bit to dumb.. why would you steal the same nudy magazine as your buddy.. in that case one of you goes to pay for a paper plane and let someone else steal the bigger item… while you distract to she shop keep (yeah I stole something as kid once or twice…)   much better strategy!  The kids did not fully feel like kids!  Yet that is me really nitpicking.. it’s all just super fun and exciting to go through and some minor weird things in no way decrease that joy.

The Score

This was by far the best thing I watched this week! And I actually had a pretty good week!   With two other Star Fruits and lots of Berry Goods.  Yet since this one is my favourite I bet you can guess what grade it is going to be!  It was so good!  Not only did it show us the past and wet our appetites for a bigger puzzle, I think it might also have foreshadowed things as well.  Let’s not forget that indian prediction in episode 1. He would meet a woman that would lead to death.. it can be referred to the cowboy woman of episode 1 but now I think.. this blonde chick will show up again and it will lead to Spike’s death! I am not sure.. that’s just what I think. This episode got me super excited!

I have to shout out the music as well , it felt really different from what we saw before.. again establishing those higher stakes through everything. Story, visuals and sound design all come and tell us what to feel and I love that kind of thing!  Where visuals and sounds are not just used to establish grandeur..even though here it does.. but also convey an emotion. This episode doesn’t only feel big.. it feels important.. it feels deeper. I want to see more!

Animini: Natsume Book of Friends – Episode 5 – Heart Colored Ticket

The Heck is a Heart Coloured Ticket…?!  I thought I would know after this episode but no! I still don’t know! There is a ticket.. and there is love.. but I do not agree with this title. I would have called it Bootleg Totoro and the Fish..  but then again that might be disrespectful! I don’t mean it like that though.. but it really is about a Totoro thing that is not Totoro … and a fish! I kind of loved it!

The Summary

The episode begins with Natsume roaming in a box of his grandmothers stuff, each time he runs a name he gets part of her memories and he is curious about her life.. or so he claims.. from a Library book she forgot to return drops a train ticket.. leading to a now out of use station. Natsume decides to investigate the ticket the next day. That day Natsume’s classmates fight on how to eat something which I think is chicken.. I have no idea but they call it Kitsune.. I don’t think they are eating fox but well.. they don’t see eye to eye on how to eat this meal thing and decide to separate and never be friends again. Sasada then comes poking her nose into Natsume’s business! What is that ticket? What are you going to do with it? Can I come?!  I wanna see one?!  Stuff like that. Natsume doesn’t want to get the girl that wants to spend time with him around.. so he is super glad the priest’s son distracts her long enough so he can sneak away from her on the bus. (Kind of a dickish bus driver). I kind of want Natsume to like this girl! I like having her positive energy around!

Sasada gets left behind though and Natsume travels to an abandoned station where he finds Santo.. a big furry hippo like Yokai that walks on two legs and dances around and reminds me a lot of Totoro.  Just.. more vocal and less eloquent.  Santo is a friendly Yokai who waits on this station because he got in an argument with a friend once who told them to leave and never return. Reiko met Santo and he gave him her name.. which we find out caused the conflict between the two. Santo gets his name returned and Natsume finds out through her memories that she promised Santo to take him to go see his friend Mikuri the next day. She never delivered on the promises though so Natsume takes Santo to do so. However since years have passed now.. Mikuri became bitter and possessed by Earth Spirits, enlarging his negativity. As a result the forest tries to stop their approach. Mikuri corrupted a huge catfish and Madara fights him  while Natsume and Santo yell at Mikuri to stop! Then the fish possessed by rage tries to steal the book.. but Santo protects it!  A combination of both seemed to work and the still quite angry Mikuri is reunited with his friend.  While Natsume tries to settle their fight he realizes they already settled their fight and are just arguing because they are friends. The next day in school his two classmates are all buddy buddy again and Sasada asks him what happened.  The priest’s son whose name I completely am blacking out on.. gets thanked for the help the day before leaving Sasda clueless still.

The Positives

I really liked Santo and Mikuri , once again the design and flavouring of these Yokai is done very nicely and satisfyingly. The whole  super dumb anime character might be a trope I do not always enjoy, Santo brings so much innocence to it.. but also a form of challenge. He knows what he wants to say .. but he is just too dim witted to express himself leaving Natsume without some valuable much needed information. So he must find a way to work around that. Thus the humor of this episode is actually in service of the story and I am very fond of that type of design. Do not build in jokes because you need a funny moment, make moments you need to tell funny. It offers a lot more charm. Santo being one of the most innocent things you have ever seen is also a nice contrast with the Yokai we have seen normally here. No harm from others befalls upon him.. there is no evil spirit or priest causing him pain. Santo’s worst enemy is Santo himself.. and the promises he made. He never went to look for Mikuri because he promised Reiko  to wait for her and because Mikuri said he could not come anymore. That’s just the type of guy he is and he is in his own way.

I also really like the whole premise of Natsume wanting to dig deeper into his relatives’ past and using a box of memories along with the book that apparently is also filled with memories  is an interesting way to do this. It gives a few puzzle elements and I have been wondering how Reiko was a person. I for now think she was a pretty bad person but Natsume seems to refuse to believe this. She completely forgot about poor Santo though!  I am curious to see where this will go and in fairness the show so far has not done much in terms of establishing an overarching narrative. This could be the first step towards that and if so I am quite on board with this.

The Negatives

I did not like how Natsume ignored Sasada in the last episode, and I do not like here either.  It’s a nice girl that is interested in you and believes in you.. she wants that connection my guy and you have shown to want that sort of connection as well.  I always have trouble with characters that go through self imposed misery and feel depressed for being alone.. but then when  a person wants to be their friend they ignore them.. While Natsume isn’t nearly hypocritical enough for me to actually dislike it.. I see enough of this self imposed negativity to enjoy it less then when Sasada would have played a bigger part. I think her positive behaviour is a welcome addition to Natsume’s more down behaviour.  At the same time though Natsume doing this alone lets the Yokai shine a lot as he doesn’t have a strong personality.. so the spirits always take the spotlight! That has value as well.

The second gripe I had with this episode is in its resolution. The Catfish versus Cat fight  felt a bit sloppy. Tentacles were bitten and pulled..  Elongated cat demon gets snared but transforms.. then bites the fish again.. but then it looks like the fish also bites him.. but maybe its not because suddenly the fish goes poof! ?I had no real idea what was going on there. Natsume was quite badly animated while  wrapped by a tentacle as well. It all just felt a bit muddy and thrown in for some action. I honestly preferred the fight with the earth spirit and the mysterious fog on the tracks. One bad fight scene however does not ruin an episode. Especially when it’s so short.  I would have liked to see more Santo protecting the book though. That might have been the trigger what caused Mikuri to be healed but it at least wasn’t fully clear to me.

The Score

While not a perfect score episode I really had a lot of fun with this episode.  Santo is an adorable character and even Mikuri in his original form is quite adorable. The evil forest chase was very entertaining and.. just Santo being Santo , eating poisoned berries and all it just made me smile. It had little impact all in all but I was still very entertained. It just had a few scenes for me personally that did not resolve in a way I would have preferred. It’s a silver or bronze type situation instead of gold. Still a winner though.

My biggest peeve here is how Sasada was offsided here, and I am afraid I will see a fair bit more of that in the future. I just do not like the lonely character wallowing in their loneliness by shutting off good people.  It really irks me and I have little sympathy for them. As long as this show doesn’t try to invoke sympathy for him being so alone.. I will not have much of a problem , other than just being a bit bitter here and there.. but if they do and try to invoke sympathy while he shuts people out.. that will be a sure fire for me to grow and dislike him as a character. Nothing wrong yet just reporting some symptoms for now. Great episode with just a few concerns. Like.. how was that ticket heart-coloured?

Harry Potter and The Piece of Junk : Abigail (2019) Review

I have kind of built up a reputation as a person who reviews weird or bad movies. However in the land of SteamPunk.. I do not have that many options… there is one.. and it will follow soon enough but for most of these I go in blind. Still you have heard me burn movies to the ground but also talk about movies that are so bad that it’s good!  Abigail is NOT so bad that it’s good. It is BAD … yet despite that it’s bad I just REALLY like it. 

The Engine of this Movie

Abigail is the title of a 2019 Russian movie directed by Aleksandr Boguslavskiy. It’s a movie that stars Eddie Marsan, whom you may know from Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2, Sherlock Holmes : A game of Shadows or V for Vendetta.  He plays the father of the title character Abigail who is played by Tinatin Dalkaishvili who played in movies.. whose title I can’t read. But one of them seems to be called 3BE3(The Letter A.. but it Melted)a.  She has a supporting cast of Gleb Bochkove, Artyom Tkachenko and  Rinal Mukametov and some others whose name I can’t  spell without looking at it a billion times. It currently holds a  4,9 score on IMDB based on 2766 reviews and a 40% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 25 reviews. Not exactly high scores and overall I would have to agree with the 5 out of 10 score.. if I review the separate elements.. but I had a lot of fun with this movie! 

The plot of the movie is fairly spoilery in itself. After all the plot is not really revealed for the first 20 minutes so if you are the no spoiler type of person look away now and pick up at the next paragraph. That being said, if you are a person of sound mind the plot will not hold surprises for you long as it is written for the young adults..early adolescent teens and preteens. If you are still here let’s discuss the basic plot. Abigail lives in a city that is closed off and ruled by a tyrannical government no one is allowed to cross “the boundary” because a disease roams there. This disease has also found its way inside their city walls..  when her father gets taken Abigail now grows up into a much harsher and insecure life.. however when she has come to age she learns the truth.. there is no disease. Magic exists and the government has fabricated all these lies to keep the mages out of the city. So the supreme leader is the only one that can do magic and can rule over all in a city of weak people to control! Abigail of course turns out to have magic and discovers a group of magical rebels..With them.. she might have a chance to save her father. In a weird way this movie very much feels like Steampunk Harry Potter (the movies, not the books) .

It’s Junk!

So normally I begin my reviews with naming the positives, however with this review I will get the negatives out of the way. When objectively critiquing a movie one might think to judge points like, Story, Acting, Effects/Looks and Direction and maybe Sound?  Either way this movie drops the ball on all of these aspects. Let’s begin with the Story. While the story of this movie isn’t all that bad the storytelling is horrendous. The story is cut together so rough it at times doesn’t even make sense. We barely know what is going on. Characters suddenly gain motivation at locations we aren’t even sure of what it is or have found themselves rather altered. Somewhere late in the movie Abigail goes to search a location with a theme of people.. literally one second later, they say they searched the entire place and that what they were looking for is not there and that is one of the more subtle cuts this movie makes. 

Characters gain crucial information on screen non stop, random characters are grabbed from the street and acted upon as if they are someone familiar. Even the part where Abigail is taught about Magic is kind of cut.. and this is a movie about her becoming a wizard. There is a lot of exposition about all the forms of magic though! Mages in this world do not use wands, they use junk like containers.. that work as a focus. Depending on if it’s a circle, a square or a triangle.. it does different things. Like square things are used for conjuration.. like summoning a wall of ice or rock , round things are used for evocation and basically are your main weapon and triangle things are used for alteration.. so to use wind to fly higher and stuff like that.. or at least I think it’s like that. It’s always kind of hard to see what kind of things they hold and I don’t think it’s that constantly used. Still there is some pretty interesting world building but.. we do not see the full story here..it feels more like a summary that misses some details.. and I mean that feeling is VERY strong.

This same behaviour is reflected in the direction, it is sometimes.. rather directionless. Shots are muddy and hold still on the wrong person. For example when there is a fight and one person is about to get a kill..the tension is in if they get the kill yet the shot cuts off to someone trying to stop them.. You don’t do that, you want them to fall over and then pan out to the person doing the shooting, it is much more dramatic that way. We get action shots of people walking into a sky fortress but instead of a sweeping overhead shot showing how big this place is.. we just walk in with the characters, we see the enemies with their backs turn.. not only would it not make sense for these guards to have their backs turned to your only entrance.. it also looks boring. First shot of the sky fortress and all we see is blacks and greys.  It kind of feels as if you are watching a soap opera instead of an epic fantasy movie.

That Soap Opera feeling is reflected through by FAR the worst thing this movie does.. it SOUNDS abysmal! This movie is shot entirely in Russia and done by russians but it got released mainly in English! I am not even sure there is a russian spoken version.. I assume there is but IMDB says there is not!  How did those russians speak english?! They got dubbed. The dub is bad… really really bad.. at least from our main character. It’s not that she is hard to understand.. but the delivery feels like she is reading her lines as a bedtime story to her kid… all the time! It feels like one of those older Tales of English Dubs. There is acting.. but it is all said so ridiculously audible that it sounds as if she is doing speech exercises.. It just feels so fake..  kind of like how germans dub things. Everything is so buttery smooth, there is no room tone, never a distortion or a broken line… all the sound is so clean no matter where they stand of if there are engines howling.

This hinders the acting as well, because we get this dissonant. We hear a character speak in a different emotion than we see on her face. Both the voice and the physical acting is overly expressive. Physically there is a lot of soap opera acting.. or how you see actors act on stage. It has something unnatural.. not that it is acting physically bad.. but more so.. this is not how a human would act in a certain situation. Characters that get slapped get the dramatic back of the hand slap so it looks more dramatic on camera or on stage and it doesn’t always match up with the acting we HEAR which amplifies both to look even weirder. At times I had a feeling I was watching a live action Cartoon or a live action anime even.. they are that dramatic as real people.. and that just looks weird.

Speaking of cartoons, some of the special effects look like they got rendered 20 years ago and thus have an incredibly cartoony feeling as well. The way magic works kind of looks cool, but you have no sense what is going on. But the airship, the fantastical creatures and some look like something you see on the SyFy Channel.. you know movies that are usually called Giant Terror Death Crab or  Terrible Terror Octopus.  It just looks too bright, as if shadows are missing or reflections and stuff.  I watch a lot of Corridor Crew videos and they told me how to trick their eyes into making cgi seem like part of the  experience.. this .. while it doesn’t look ugly does not do any blending at all.. it feels as if someone in photoshop is moving these things around. 

It’s Magic

And yet despite all of that, I had a wonderful time with this movie, which is weird because every single part of this movie kind of sucks. Yet that is the thing.. it just kind of sucks.  The story while it skips so much that is hard to follow is quite unique.  Magicians in a Steampunk world.. not being able to be killed because magic will always move on to the next person.. as energies can’t quell.. So instead the government has to find a way to get them all out? That is quite a neat idea. A government who strives for equality versus all versus a rebel group that strives for equality versus all is very interesting. These groups essentially have the same goal yet they are on opposite sites because one pursues no magic, while the other wants magic for everyone.. or no inequality for those who are magic at least. There are some really interesting concepts here. The way how magic works in this world following the principles of alchemy in a way.. is a very neat concept and it’s nice how subtle the references are at times! 

While the magic kind of looks awkward and you don’t really get what is going on.. the way of casting is quite unique.. It has this Harry Potter spell duel vibe.. but it feels much thicker.. less colour coded.. there is a lot of black and a lot of red in there.. but is it a fireball or is it arcane energy.. it isn’t exactly all that clear.  Yet that also makes it completely unique in it’s own way.. the fairy might look ugly but it is this movie fairy it doesn’t do that standard thing it is it’s own thing. The way it uses steampunk elements to work with casting.. not only in the devices but also in some magitech later on.. it’s charmingly unique in it’s very core.  It has something video-gamey .. or tabletop rpg like, with a major battle taking place with mages having their abilities nullified.. and the fight being on two fronts.. one with a very VERY videogamy puzzle and on the other hand a steampunk sword and crossbow fight that feels quite disney. .. if directed by a intern…

Even that super fake voice over at one point really kept me entertained.. not persé as a movie product but because it made me feel like I was playing an old timey rpg, or maybe listening to a fairytale audiobook or some youtuber do their own fanfiction  thing.  It felt cheap but in all the right ways… I did not enjoy it because it’s bad.. but it’s like seeing this helpless creature .. like a turtle on its back struggle! You just go N’awwww Abigail and you flip the turtle back up and you watch it hobble on for a bit still charmed by how klutzy that was. I always said I liked Pokémon that feel to clunky to be fully functional.. things  like Wobuffet, or Stunfisk or Dunsparce. This movie is a Dunsparce.  For those who don’t know Pokémon, I guess this movie feels like Krillin from Dragon Ball and subsequent stories.. mostly Z or Super Krillin… The movie is several steps behind the pack and gets blown away by just about everyone… but you can not help but care for the little thing!

It’s Fun

Using logic this thing.. it should not work.. this should not be as fun as it was to me.. and given that it’s only getting a 5 out of 10  by everyone else.. or even a 4 shows that.. but I argue that it is a 5 out of 10 movie because it is a 1 out of 10 movie and a 9 out of ten movie combined.  It has the charm that we can look past it’s flaws and say… sure little guy I had an okay time with you.  After bad dubbing, bad special effects, a cut up story and bad, bad direction (which I don’t have any justification for unlike the rest) what remains is still a movie that is okay. So in a way everything we can not quantify, anything that would be like the movies “feel” , the “spirit” it’s “emotional experience”  that is done so well that it makes this movie “watchable”. If we tally everything up.. we get a movie that is just watchable! This seems to be the consensus with movie goers that reviewed this as well… yet it reacts almost unlike anything else.

Nowadays when something scores a 7.0 it’s reviewed as if it is not worth watching, there is better stuff out there. Something that scores as 6 isn’t even talked about.. and yet it is this thing that people also mostly review for a 5.. that everyone says… yeah it did enough, it’s a bad movie but I was entertained and that is fine for once.That is what makes this movie so special. It has cute costume design. ..even though that also feels a bit over designed..but I will remember a few of these characters.. from a 5 out of 10 movie. It really has that Harry Potter charm (written by Daniel Radcliffe that series is)   infused in its DNA. Even though it sucks… ..in every way … it’s fun.. not because of the fact that is sucks but despite of the fact.. and that makes this movie special to me. I should rate this one Okiwi but because it is that.. it’s so special it even gets an upgrade.

Animini: Revolutionary Girl Utena – Episode 2 – For Whom the Rose Smiles

How delightful to re-acquaint ourselves again , my dear Island Guests. The first episode of the absolute classic Utena , did not float my boat all that much. I had fun watching it for sure, but it was a bit direct in it’s themes and I did not have much fun with world building yet. Look and behold the second episode did way better for me! This episode pleased me quite a bit and I now look forward to see more! Not only did I got to understand the world a bit more! I was also introduced to one of my favourite anime pets yet!

The Summary

Utena is picking up her normal school life again when she is reassigned to a new dorm..or people are assigned dorms.. I am not sure , because they had school before.. would it not make sense to get a dorm room before you start school?! Regardless.. Utena is send to a dorm that her bestie tells her has been out of use for years. Which is quite strange, while her bestie glomps on to her Utena walks both of them to where they have to part ways for now.. moving into her own dorm it looks quite cozy.. until she opens the door that is supposed to lead to her room, which turns out is a mouse infected hellhole. Utena closes the door quite shocked and waits for a bit, just to find out Anthy has since almost cleaned the entire room and it is livable for them to live together. Utena is amazed by the coincidence of them living together and Anthy explains to her there is no coincidence.. since Utena has won the Rose bride.. They are now engaged and have to live together according to the rules of the student council.  Utena doesn’t want anything to do with this engagement and Anthy is being quite vague with her.. until she introduces Utena to her pet Chuchu!

Chuchu is like a mini-monkey mouse thing. It looks mostly like a monkey but it is mouse sized and seems to have mouse ears. It loves sweet things and it is just adorable! Utena much like me takes a shine to the little creature and gets  to be lucky enough to befriend it. Anthy explains that others who wield the rose signet will come to challenge her to be engaged to Anhy, while  the student council president reveals they want the power of Anthy to start a revolution. The latter happens in a cutaway of course. Every student council member neatly coded by the colour of their hair. Saionji wants to dominate Anthy again so he comes to visit to challenge Utena to a duel and asks Anthy to go into submission.. he should own her.. Anhty refuses and Saionji steps on Chuchu and treats it badly, he challenges Utena to a rematch and she agrees , planning to lose it to be done with this weird duel stuff. The dark skinned woman seems upset but she can not disagree with Utena and tells her to do what she wants. The duelist fought on the same location again and now for the first time Utena pulls out Dios.. even though she still plans to lose with it.. during her fight she seems to become possessed by the spirit of the prince and finds new zeal.. defeating the green haired vice president in a duel . Having shown a new power.. the actual president becomes intrigued by the girl. Back at the dorm when Anthy asks why Utena won. The pink haired woman in a male school uniform informs her she did not want Chuchu to be bullied so she had to win. Anthy then smiles and the episode ends.

The Positives

This episode was soooo much better than the first. Utena isn’t drooling all over Anthy now and clearly takes a colder stance towards her.. mostly because she is so much more than she bargained for.. this makes Utena feel much more human. I also like how cold she reacts to the whole engagement thing. It isn’t real to her, which makes sense since she doesn’t understand how this new world really works. It does wonders for how the plot goes and  makes it all a bit more subtle. She is much more a sweet human being now rather than a carbon copy of a fairy tale trope. Anthy also isn’t as “submissive”  while she still really is in service of Utena; the girl doesn’t speak out some feelings or answers. She hides her thoughts a bit but we as the audience get to see there is more going around her head. Which gives her a lot more depth and at least shows me she can think for herself. The duel is also a bit more interesting, because Utena plans to lose I can wonder, does she indeed plan to lose but regret and come back later, does she find a reason to win?  Even knowing the show’s premise a bit from the opening.. with this episode I feel like it can go several ways. It keeps the plot more engaging. The mystery in the end made me want to see more.

Now.. let’s dedicate an entire paragraph to Chuchu!  I love it!  It doesn’t speak so it’s less annoying than Kon, it has loads of personality and its finally something that has nothing to do with roses. If the pet would have been a bee.. or a humming bird or something that goes for flowers, I would have found it all a bit stale.. but no this shook that up for me.  I did not expect I needed to see a monkey mouse fall into a piece of cake today.. but I did!  It is really good! I also like that Chuchu becomes the center of Utena’s affection…for now, once more it’s very humane that you bond with a creature  at least a bit faster than with a human.  I have an easier time to believe a girl who knows another girl  for a day or so would have an easier time finding zeal and passion in protecting a pet from being kicked as keeping up an engagement you may or may not be invested in. Utena probably does have those feelings toward women.. but she needs to grow into such a bond. While with something as cute as Chuchu such a bond can be instantaneous. No I don’t believe in love at first sight.. so Chuchu really is a great engine for character motivations for me now.

The Negatives

I have very little negative to say. From a story perspective a few things do not make sense to me yet, such as the meaning of the castle in the sky, what the location is the student council meets and why none of them have chosen to talk to Utena yet on how she got that ring.  Yet this episode showed me we will ease into it and it is a mystery that we will probably solve alongside Utena.. so while I at times feel lost and some elements feel disconnected, I think this show aims for it to be that way. It wants us to wonder what is going and and slowly link these things that make no sense together..  together.. I did notice that the prince came from the upside down castle. Could Utena be from the upside down world. Utena and Anthy almost feel like inversed names of each ofther as well.. but not really.. just kinda. Anyway there is still a lot of ideas floating up there.. but I don’t dislike that as much as i did in episode 1.

If there is one thing I disliked it’s the music. The version I am watching has those chorus songs translate as well and they just seem so random.  The whole Utena walks up the staircase footage while talking  about the Apocalypse and Shangri-la already was weird but then during the fight scene we get a chorus droning all sorts of fossils.  Trilobite Ammonite.. etc. The heck?! If this is because they are fighting in a school I think this is really forced. It’s kinda funny and random but seeing Trilobite randomly pop up in my screen as a weird really distracted me and pulled me out of the fight. I could do without those. Also Utena walking up a stairs is not as interesting as a magical girl transformation so I would like if they don’t stock footage that to often.. but I am probably out of luck there! I am not even sure how I call this flaw.. over stylised maybe?! Kabutops, Meowth Magnmite.. Mudkip Lairon Meditite…. See I told you that kind of thing was distracting.

The Score

Chuchu and a much more human Utena push this episode much much higher up then the previous one. This was very good! I like the improvements they took and I adore how the world is coming together but the characters do not just blindly accept their faith ,,they are human above all and that will pay off later. When characters fall in love I will like it better because it feels as if a human becomes in love.. when someone gets hurt or is lost, I will cry because a human is lost. In this second episode Utena shed off that skin of a character that makes things happen.. and Anthy kind of broke the exposition dump trope.. saying something have to reveal themselves. With more and more magic and mysticism bleeding in I also am becoming more intrigued to how his is followed up.

The  odd choice on what to turn into stock footage and the bizarre music choices do knock it down a peg for me though. Storywise I think the show is on a very good track to become more a show I can get into! I do feel this might be a slow burner for me and I will not be sucked in right away and it might take me a bit to give these odd choices a place but hey if the episodes stay like this by episode 5 there is no way way I am dropping it early so that is one Distortion World of a change. Very very good episode that took away many many doubts I had after episode 1.