Archive for August, 2012

Anime Review: Robotech: The Macross Saga

Note: This is part one of a three-part review of Robotech.

Genre: Sci-fi

Studio: Tatsunoko

Distributor: Harmony Gold/Manga (also streams on Hulu on Youtube)

No. of Episodes: 36

Suggested Age: 13+

Rating: 7/10

Review: In the distant future, Earth acquires a floating city that’s also a spaceship, which they call Macross Island.  But this attracts the Zentradi, a race of giant aliens.  Now the citizens must defend themselves from the aliens (This was known in Japan as Super Dimensional Fortress Macross).

Review: Back in the 80’s, the Robotech anime was a “gateway” series that showed American children how great anime could be. It was actually a conglomerate of three separate, unconnected programs. The reason they combined the three shows was that if they adapted only one, there wouldn’t be enough episodes to allow for syndication. (A syndicated program must have at least 65 episodes)

The animation is very good for the time. I especially like how well-detailed the aircraft and spacecraft are.

I also liked the characterization, for the most part. Rick Hunter and Roy Fokker were good heroes. I liked how different the two of them were. Roy was flamboyant but Rick was reserved.

The Zentradi were interesting. I thought it was interesting that, unlike us, they are cloned.  Because of this, they have never experienced things we take for granted, namely love and intimacy.  War is all they know.  At one point, they actually decide to pose as humans in order to understand them. This causes conflict with their culture and it was a great twist.

I had two huge problems with the show though: Lynn Minmei and her cousin, Kyle.  Lynn is a pop star, and a horrible one. She can’t sing–AT ALL!  What’s worse, she’s a terrible character, all-around.  She’s incompetent and just a perpetual damsel in distress. She was just plain annoying.

Kyle is even worse (it must run in the family).  He is a pacifist, and an annoying one. He believes that the military is at fault. He refuses to see that the military is the sole reason the Zentradi haven’t enslaved humanity.  These two characters brought down the show a few points.

Other than those things, the show was pretty good. I could easily see why it is so popular.

Violence: (4/10) Believe it or not, they kept some of the violence.  We even get to see a character die!  I was so certain that would’ve been taken out or even worse, rewritten, like what happened when Beast King Golion was brought to America as Voltron.

Nudity: (1/10) That’s not a typo!  There is actually a nude scene! And very detailed!

Sexuality: (0/10)

Religion: (0/10)

Related Media: I will be reviewing the two other shows that made Robotech separately: Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross (known as Robotech: The Masters in US) and Genesis Climber Mospeada (known as Robotech: The New Generation in US). There are also a few movies. During the 90’s, both Antarctic Press and Wildstorm did comic-book spinoffs of the US version.






Taking a Break

No Lobster Quadrille this week folks. I’m taking a break because I couldn’t find my draft. Next week, a review of the first Robotech series!

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Manga By Volume: Maison Ikkoku V. 1


Genre: Romantic Comedy

Creator: Rumiko/Takahashi

Publisher: Viz

Suggested Age: 13+

Summary: Yosuke Godai is a struggling student who lives in an apartment complex called  Maison Ikkoku with 5 other tenants: Yotsuya (a lech who clearly doesn’t know the meaning of the word privacy), Akemi (an immodest barmaid), Mrs. Ichinose (a busybody housewife), and her bratty son Kentaro.  Now there’s also the new landlady Kyoko Otonashi, who’s managed to catch his eye. What’s her story? Will Yosuke be able to win her affections?

Review: I’m betting most of you associate the name Rumiko Takahashi with Inuyasha, one of Adult Swim’s biggest hits.  But I’m betting you probably aren’t aware of her earlier titles.  Ranma 1/2 has still maintained popularity due to its wackiness, but I believe Maison Ikkoku deserves some attention.

Artwork-wise, it’s easy to tell we are early in Takahashi’s career.  The artwork is great, but it has some overdone shading in some pages. (either that, or it’s the age of the artwork) However, I still like what I see.

The characterization is great.  True some people like Mrs. Ichinose and Yotsuya seem one-dimensional, but they’re still funny characters. (I love the scene where Yotsuya barges into Yosuke’s wall with a log just to peek in on Akemi).  Yosuke has some great depth. At first, he seems like a typical loser college student, but when he becomes attracted to Kyoto, we see him in a different light. I love the scene where he meets Kyoko’s in-laws and offers to pay his respects to her late husband, even though they never met.  To me, this makes it seem as if there may be a hidden gentlemanly side to him.  All in all, I think this is a great start.

Violence: (1/10)Slapstick is all you get here.

Language: (3/10)Some mild swears, mostly from Mrs. Ichinose.

Sexuality: (5/10)Yotsuya and Godai are both lecherous, but Godai isn’t as extreme as his neighbor.

Nudity: (1/10) Yusuke has a dream sequence involving a nude Kyoko. There are also some panty shots when Kyoko plays tennis.

Religion: (1/10) In one scene, Kyoko and her in-laws pay their respects to her late husband by praying over it and lighting incense.  This is a common religious practice in Japan.

Related Media: There is also an anime version from Viz as well.

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Anime Review: Trigun

Genre: Sci-fi/Western

Studio/Creator: Madhouse/Yatsuhiro Nightow

Distributor: FUNimation

No. of Episodes: 26

Suggested Age: 13+

My Rating: 10/10

Summary: On a distant desert-ridden planet, an outlaw known as Vash the Stampede has a $$60 billion bounty on his head.  Two insurance agents have been given the assignment to follow him and learn if he qualifies as a risk to their clients.

Review: This is one of my all-time favorites. I saw it when it first aired on Adult Swim and it was one of the first series I ever bought. I’m ecstatic that FUNimation has picked this show up.

The artwork is very good. I especially like the way the backdrops are designed, with skyscraper-like light bulbs powering Old West towns; widespread, forbidding deserts, and sparse civilization. You get the feeling that this is a largely unexplored world, which keeps up with the western theme.

I found Vash to be a very likable character almost instantly.  His screwball antics were a lot of fun to watch. Especially since it’s really a front.  I love the fact that he’s actually smarter than he seems. What really makes me like Vash is that he is a pacifist.  He truly wishes to help people overcome crises without resorting to violence.  He even takes time to be with children, and I really enjoyed those scenes because I knew he wanted to instill in them nonviolent ways to face the world. In many ways, Vash is very Christlike, especially in his preaches at the end of every episode. He wants to lead people to the light of peace and put a stop to the endless cycle of violence.

Another interesting character is Wolfwood, a Catholic priest who befriends Vash.  He feels that sometimes, violence is necessary. Vash will have none of this, and constantly calls Wolfwood out on his hypocrisy.  I thought this was a very good, positive treatment of a Christian who tries to have a positive outlook, and help people deal with crises, despite his views on violence. I feel this is a very honest portrayal, even though he has his faults.

Finally, there is Legato, the most present villain in the story.  While it’s clear that he is under orders, we also know this is something he chooses to do. He is one of my favorite villains, because is a completely evil, heartless man.  Even in the one scene where he actually does rescue some slves, it’s clearly not out of heroism. He only does it because he is annoyed by their owners.

This is a very thought-provoking series, and I feel every anime fan, especially Christian, should check it out.

Music/Score: The soundtrack for this series just plain rocks. You cannot resist playing air guitar to the opening. The droning guitar notes during the show enhances the western feel well.

Sub/Dub: I feel either version works.  The dub is fantastic.  Jeff Nimoy is just perfect for Wolfwood. And Legato’s voice is deliciously sinister.

Violence: (6/10) Lots of gun-related violence and pretty intense stuff all around.  This is not intended for children.

Language: 3/10

Sexuality: (4/10) There is a scene where prostitutes attempt to sleep with Vash, but nothing happens. Also, at times Vash leers at women, but he’s harmless. And there’s the aforementioned sex slaves.

Nudity: (1/10) Vash is forced to strip in one episode.

Religion: (1/10) As I stated, Wolfwood is a Catholic priest and very honestly portrayed. I don’t mind that he’s imperfect.

Related Media: This is based on a manga created by Yatsuhiro Nightow and published in America by Dark Horse.  There is also a movie called Trigun: Badlands Rumble.

Trivia: Yatsuhiro Nightow is a confirmed Marvel Comics fan. His character Monev the Gale is modeled after Spider-man’s villain Venom. (Monev is even Venom spelled backward.



Anime Review: Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing


Genre: Steampunk

Studio: Gonzo

Distributor: FUNimation (note: at present only available on Hulu and on FUNimation’s own site.)

No of Episodes: 23, two of which are recaps.

My Rating: 4/10

Summary: This is a reboot of Gonzo’s hit series Last Exile. It’s a complete redesign.

Review: I really tried to like this series.  The redesigns were actually not too bad.  The overall animation was pretty good. Keep in mind, when Gonzo made this, they were recovering from bankruptcy.  So, the fact that they werea ble to do some good with the budget they had us amazing.

And yet…it really could have been so much better.  By about the fifth episode, I began to lose interest.  I really only watched it all the way through for the sake of this review.  And no the budget is not an excuse.  I’ve seen lots of anime with small budgets pull off amazing stuff. There were so many attempts that were made to expand on things.  The world of Fam the Silver Wing seemed bigger than the original series.  We got to see many of the countries and the conflicts between them.  But so little is actually discussed. There is also an attempt to bring in the fanbase of the original. Dio is brought back, but there’s no explanation of how he survived the previous installment of Last Exile.  Not only that, but he didn’t feel the same. Yes, he was cheerful in the original.  But it was gradually clear that was a facade.  Here, he felt fake, as if he was added to placate fans of the original.  The same for Claus, Lavie, and Alvis.  And the there was the recap of the original series. That made me feel like they were thinking “if we remind people how good the original was, they’ll like this just as much.”  But problem is, they also wanted you to think this was independent of the original, so why did they keep bringing it up? Instead, what it really felt like was a tease.

To sum it up. I really felt cheated.  I liked Last Exile a lot, enough to give it a full ten points. This was nothing like Last Exile. I was very disappointed with it. This was a waste of time.

Music/Score: The opening wasn’t even close to the caliber of “Cloud Age Symphony,” the opener from the original.  The closing theme was much better.

Violence: 4/10 some dogfights and such, but that’s it.

Language: 2/10

Sexuality: 0/10

Nudity: 0/10

Religion: 0/10