Tag Archives: Asian

Tunnel, Korean drama series (2017)

People have always held a kind of ¬†morbid fascination when it comes to serial killers. One has to wonder why on Earth that is. There is nothing romantic about it. In fact when you look at all the serial killers from the past and present all you see is a lot of sadness and pain. Especially for the families of the victims of these often loathsome individuals. What drives one to become one? Some of them are just born that way, and have an evil inside them from a very young age. But it also happens that something triggers it. Choosing the wrong friends, an abusive childhood, a traumatic experience, all of these might be the cause of turning someone into a murderous psychopath. But they also say that each and every one of us has a dark side. Which brings me back to my original question, why are we so obsessed with them. Is it because of that inner darkness that we all have inside and that we have to satisfy it in some way? You think I am overreacting? Well, look at the sheer amount of movies and books about serial killers. Got you there didn’t I? Getting creeped out already by this post? Am I getting under your skin? Insert evil grin. No worries…this introduction only served to set the tone for the thrilling Korean drama series Tunnel. Which of course features a serial killer, and time travel. Say what?!?

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Why are you looking at me with such a dumb face?

It is the year 1986 when we meet up with Park Gwang Ho a police detective who is always very determined, enthusiastic and takes his job very seriously. One a day a horrific series of killings shakes up his police district. Women are found dead, having been strangled with their own stockings, and strange dots are left behind on their ankles. Purely by chance the detective stumbles on the culprit and gives chase on foot. Eventually the killer and Park Gwang Ho end up in a tunnel where a fight between them begins. Unfortunately the killer gets the upper hand and strikes our hero on the head leaving him unconscious. When he wakes up and exits the tunnel, he gets the shock of his life. Apparently Park Gwang Ho has been transported thirty years into the future leaving him stranded in the year 2016. Determined to find his way back home and to his wife he left behind, he assumes the identity of a police detective who carries the same name as himself. Together with a new (and in the beginning very reluctant) partner named Kim Sun Jae, and a beautiful but mysterious criminal profiler and psychology professor Shin Jae Yi, he tries to fit into this new and unfamiliar world. But when it seems the murders that he tried to stop 30 years ago are starting up again, things become very grim indeed. The serial killer is still at large and will stop at nothing to continue with his killing spree……

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Who are you calling a cold fish?!?!

Time travel and a serial killer blended into one single series? That is pretty much a match made in heaven. While this 16 episode series wasn’t perfect, it was very enjoyable and I bingewatched the hell out of it finishing it in about 3 days. One of the best things in this Korean drama is once again it’s characters. The three leads had a very good chemistry between them, which helped make this series a cut above the rest. Actor Choi Jin-huyk brings to life the hero time travelling cop and he just had a vibrant energy to his role that worked very well. He seems to be able to handle a wide range of emotions, from heartbreak to comedy, and he is able to switch between them in the blink of an eye. His future partner played by actor Yoon Hyun-min is more serious, but the chemistry between both actors is terrific. I really enjoyed some of their comedic banter that hardly ever failed to bring a smile to my face and a lot of their scenes together were certainly the highlight of this series. And then there was actress Lee Yoo-young who played the role of Shin Jae Yi. She was a bit of a cold fish at the start of this series, and I did not really know what to make of her. But when the series progressed her character began to grow, and at the end I really ended up liking her very much. She was very heroic and a verbal exchange between her and the killer in one of the show’s final episodes gave me goosebumps. She played that scene so incredibly well and lifelike.

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This guy had such a fun role (yeah I know he looks like he doesn’t have much humor)

Speaking of the role of the killer, and I am not going to mention the actor’s name in fear of spoilers, I can only say one thing: WOW! What a loathsome, terrifying and incredibly evil monster did this actor give birth too. It is an incredible performance and out of the many serial killer roles that I have seen in my life, he certainly is in the top three. That’s for sure. Over the course of the 16 episodes that this series has, we get a story that has some nice shocks and tension, some comedy (mainly because of a few side characters that I haven’t named here, but really help to relieve some of the darker aspects of the show), and heartbreak as well. That said, there were also some moments during the middle of the drama where I felt it began to feel a bit slow. But luckily those moment did not carry on and the final episodes really made you forget those moments very quickly. Another element that I was a bit dissappointed by was the use of the timetravel aspect of this series. I had expected it to be used more, with maybe some clever jumps in between the timelines, but sadly that did not really happen.

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See? I rest my case ūüôā

Still, this Korean drama was a wonderful show. Even though it had some dark events happening in it, it never became too depressing. Most serial killing movies/series always seem to go to for the shocks or the horror, and while there were certainly scenes like that in it, there was also enough room for other more lighthearted things which was very refreshing. Tunnel is well worth checking out and also a series that for me at least seems like a good one to watch if you have never entered the world of the Korean dramas before. With memorable characters, a great, gripping and often tense story, this drama will leave a lasting impression in your mind. Well, that wasn’t too bad was it? I know the beginning of this review might have creeped you out, but hey it had to be done. Even I have a dark side…..

I give Tunnel a 8 out of 10 score.

 

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Sword Art Online-Ordinal Scale, Japanese (animated) movie (2017)

The world of computergames is vast. Some say it is currently one of the biggest entertainment mediums, bigger even than Hollywood movies. Many of you already know this but I used to be a very fanatical gamer. One could argue that I was so fanatical that it wasn’t even healthy anymore. But that’s a thing of the past now, as I have stopped playing computergames altogether, well on consoles that is. I do play the occasional game on my Ipad, but that’s nowhere near the level of games that I was used to playing. Games these days are becoming ever more immersive, with virtual reality being one of the latest trends. Putting on special goggles, gamers can experience the gaming world in a way that is almost lifelike. I do say almost, as of course the technology isn’t anywhere close to the things you sometimes see in science fiction movies. Two years ago, around the time when my blog was up and running for a few months, I discovered the anime Sword Art Online, which focusses heavily on virtual reality gaming. It fast became one of my alltime favorite animeseries and now I have a huge collection of merchandise from that series (proving once again my point that I can truly become obsessed when I like something).

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Don’t look now, but I think you might have something stuck in your ear.

Last year a movie that was a follow-up to the series saw the light of day, and now I finally had the chance to see this one for myself as it was released on dvd two weeks ago. (Well here in Europe anyway). Was it worth the wait? Hell yeah it was!¬†It is the year 2026, and the world is under the spell of the Augma device, a new system that allows players all over the world to simulate reality while still being conscious. As a few years prior players became trapped in a virtual reality game called Sword Art online, that used a full dive system, this new device is deemed much safer. We once again meet up with Kirito and Asuna, both survivors of the horrible SOA event, and not surprisingly both are also using the Augma to play the newest and most popular game Ordinal Scale. Although Kirito doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself as much. But then a new event is introduced to the game: old boss monsters from the Sword Art Online world begin appearing accompanied by the mysterious AI idol singer Yuna. What at first seems like a fun and welcome addition to the game, soon begins to take on a much more sinister shape. With Asuna’s life on the line, Kirito has to find out what is going on, before it’s too late. But it might already be too late, for Kirito seems to have met his match in the form of a player that is able to counter his every move….

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Gotta love Asuna’s new look in this film.

Sword Art Online is a series that is hated upon by a lot of animefans. I’m not going to start up that old discussion as I am here to talk about this movie. Suffice it to say though that I am a huge fan of this anime, in fact so much so that it has taken up a spot on my personal top 3 of favorite animeseries. When I first heard about the fact that there would finally be something coming out that would continue the storyline I was delighted. At the same time though I also felt anxious. What if it would suck? Well, having finally been able to see this film now, I am very glad to let you all know that my fears were unfounded. If you are a fan of the animeseries you will love this. Let’s talk about the storyline first. One of the things I really liked about it, is the way it treated the main characters of Asuna and especially Kirito. It was very refreshing to see the latter being out of his element and not the powerhouse player we are used to seeing in the series. Kirito really struggles within this new life and death game, and it takes him a long while to adapt. Asuna also at a certain point becomes very vulnerable, and it’s a side we are not always used to seeing from the starstruck couple. It’s their relationship and love for each other that continues to be heartwarming, and very touching though.

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GET READYYYYYYY: FIGHT!!!!

Another thing I liked about the film’s story is some of the questions it asked that really made you think.What if you were able to forget about things from your past that were not very happy thoughts or events? ¬†Would you do that if you were able to? Or are they a part of your life no matter how unhappy these memories might be? I think that is an intriguing question and one that could almost be the topic for an entire post or at the very least a lively discussion. The movie runs for two hours, and it is in my opinion just a tad bit too long. Some of the story elements felt a bit forced, and a few of the side characters had way too little screentime, but were probably just added to the mix for the fans. Nevertheless there are also quite a few things in it for fans of the original series that will in all likelyhood give you a few goosebumps. On the action front the film doesn’t disappoint. Even though it’s not a full on fight fest, there are enough action scenes in the film that make it very satisfying. The fights also feel much more threatening and dangerous.

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I just love my special edition boxed set version of this movie ūüėÄ

 

While the animation might not be as beautiful as some of the higher level animefilms out there, I still found it to be very decent, with some spectacular setpieces. The new outfits for most of the characters also worked quite well and had a really nice look to it. Another thing that plays a big role in this film is the music. With the introduction of the new character of Yuna, an AI idol singer, there were quite a number of scenes that featured her singing. At times it almost felt as if I was watching a new installment of the¬† Macross saga. But I have to admit that this element did work quite well and wasn’t distracting in the least. The music featured in the film fits the tone of Sword Art Online and as such is very pleasing to the ear. Even though the film can be watched on it’s own without any prior knowledge of the world of Sword Art Online, you will find it more enjoyable if you first watch the original anime. If you hated SOA in the first place, this movie won’t make you love the series all of a sudden. For the fans though this is a more than decent follow up to the original anime and with the words Sword Art Online will return at the end of the credits, we can rest assured that we haven’t seen the last of Kirito and Asuna. And I would not have it any other way. Link start !

I give Sword Art Online-Ordinal Scale a 8 out of 10 score.

The Villainess, Korean Movie (2017)

There is a particular type of film in the action genre that I am very fond of: the revenge movie. I always love it when someone loses everything and then turns into a complete psycho, hellbent on getting revenge on his or her tormentors. Usually that makes for a very entertaining, albeit often bloody, movie experience. As with any film genre there is always a risk that there are too many movies that are being made and as such it becomes either predictable or very boring. The South Korean movie industry certainly is no stranger to this particular type of film. In the past, movies such as Old Boy, I Saw the Devil and A Company Man have all been received very well (while at the same time causing quite a stir because of the often extreme violence depicted in those movies). No matter how you look at it, I have always thought that the Koreans are masters of the genre, and I always look forward to a new entry into the ranks. Last year The Villainess was released, that supposedly infused the revenge movie with a new and fresh take on it. Having just seen the film, I have mixed feelings about it, but more on that later.

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Some people take the “till death do us part thing” way to literally.

The Villainess can best be described as South Korea’s take on La Femme Nikita. It focusses on a woman named Sook-hee who is a highly trained assassin. As a young girl she lost her father to an unknown assailant and witnessed him being killed while hiding under her bed. The face of the killer is unknown to her, but she does hear him whistle an eerie tune. Years later Sook-hee is captured by South Korea’s intelligence agency and given a new identity and name: Yeon-soo. While she is being trained by them, she gives birth to her daughter Eun-hye. Yeon-soo is offered the deal to work for the intelligence agency, and after 10 years she will gain her freedom for herself and her daughter. Having very little choice she accepts. But the shadow of her father’s death always looms over her. Eventually the past creeps up on her as it usually tends to do in these matters. With people gunning for her at every turn, the life expectancy of the skilled assassin becomes ever shorter. But Yeon-soo will not go down without a fight…

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When the airconditioning of your car doesn’t work this is a great alternative.

The opening sequence of this film puts you smack down right in the middle of the action. Without even knowing exactly what is going on, we see a fight sequence from a first person view as Sook-hee hacks, shoots and punches her way through a group of men in a warehouse. It is chaotic, bloody, brutal, but honestly a truly terrific way of setting the tone for this film. Where this film excels at is it’s uniquely choreographed fight sequences. The camera angles in some of the scenes are really one of a kind, and at times it feels almost as if you are the one that is delivering all of the violence. And there is a word that also describes this film very well: violence. This movie is not for the faint of heart. It doesn’t shy away from showing arteries being ruptured, limbs being cut off, and blood spraying in every direction. The Villainess is a brutal movie but as usual this does suit the theme of the film. If it’s action you want, this film brings it and then some. Be especially on the look out for a highspeed motorcycle chase that I found to be one of the best scenes of the film.

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What do you mean you forgot the bread to feed the ducks? Go home and get it!

The hero of the film (if you can call her that of course) is being played by actress Kim Ok-vin and she does it well. Or to phrase it better: she knows how to kick some ass. A film like this stands or falls with a good lead, and she certainly doesn’t disappoint. In the fight sequences she shines the most as she is able to hold her own against the men that are trying to take her life. And she manages to do so with guns, knives and her bare hands. It all feels natural and realistic and you could almost believe she is an assassin in real life. Her character hasn’t got much depth to it, but admittedly the bond with her young daughter is what gives this otherwise very bleak movie at least a little bit of sunshine. This movie pretty much centers around her, and that’s why the supporting cast, such as it is, doesn’t really get a chance to show what they are made of. That is certainly one of the weak points of the film.

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If looks could kill, I would be dead right now.

Another one is the story itself. At times it’s very confusing to follow what exactly is going on. The film uses a lot of flashback scenes, which is not a bad thing in itself, but at times it seems to insert them almost randomly. Not only that but sometimes you get one right after another and in a totally different time frame. That took me out of the film quite a few times and left me looking at the screen in bewilderment. While the action in movies like this is usually the most important, I do have to say that in revengethrillers especially it’s nice to have at least some kind of motive for the main character. In that this film partially succeeded but it could have been handled better. With all of it’s flaws I still recommend seeing this movie if you like these type of films. The action sequences alone make it a very worthwhile watch, as in this it really does try to do something totally different than what we are used to seeing. Don’t expect to much from it, and you will have a great time. Especially if you like to see a strong woman beat the crap out of a bunch of men.

I give the Villainess a 7 out of 10 score.

 

The Anthem of the Heart, Japanse (animated) movie (2015)

Let’s talk. Let’s really talk for a bit. The topic? Well how about conversations? No, I am not trying to be funny here, I am really going somewhere with this. We have conversations every day. Unless of course you are stranded on some remote island with no one to talk to (although I hear a volleybal called Wilson could really help you out with that problem). Getting back to the topic of conversations. you have to admit that they make up a very big part of our lives. We talk to our friends, loved ones, parents, customers even total strangers. But now for a tough question. In how many of the conversations you have had were you totally honest? Ahhh…hard to say isn’t it? We all tell lies, and anyone who denies that is, well a big fat liar. But probably not all those lies were intentional. Sometimes you might tell a lie just to spare someones feelings. It’s the conversations where you have said something hurtful that you can’t take back though, that most of us will probably remember the most. A slip of the tongue or an intentional comment with the sole purpose of causing pain, I guess it’s safe to say we have all been there at some point. A moment where you kick yourself for saying something so stupid, or wish you could take it back. It’s the conversations where you don’t even realise that you are causing pain that might be the worst though.

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Hey! You…yeah you! Stop talking this instant!

And this last thing is exactly what happens to the young child Jun Naruse in the animated movie the Anthem of the Heart. Jun has always been a chatterbox. She is very cheerful and is always happily talking about pretty much anything that is on her mind. One day she comes home and tells her mother how she saw her father doing something that to her young childlike mind was pretty awesome. Her mother freezes though, and eventually this innocent remark results in her parents getting a divorce. Even worse her father puts all the blame on her. Jun runs away in tears, and while she tries to work through her grief a fairy egg appears. It makes sure that all of Jun’s words are sealed away so that she can never cause hurt to anyone ever again. Years later we meet up again with Jun when she is in highschool. She is but a shell of her former self. Jun is unable to speak, and tries to stay of the radar in class. But then her teacher, mister¬†JŇćshima invites her to become a member of the Charity Committee together with three other classmates. Naturally she is not at all happy about this, especially since it seems that they are going to have to prepare for a musical piece. But just when she is about to quit, something happens that changes her mind. Or beter yet someone. Will Jun find the courage to regain her voice?

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The school ran out of chairs so they had to find an alterative….

Now admit it: you read the synopsis of the film and were thinking something along the lines of ” Wow this sounds incredibly boring”. When I tell you that the runtime of this film is two hours I can almost hear the gears grinding in your head already and crossing this movie of your to watch list. You would miss out on something quite special though. This is one of those films that has a very simple story, but turns into something quite extraordinary. And here’s some of the reasons why (erm, no not going to give you 13 of them I am afraid). For one thing it’s the wonderful characters. Jun herself is hard not to like. Since she is at the center of the films, and this is pretty much her story it’s important to have a lead that you care about it. And you do. Jun’s journey of rediscovery and trying to forgive herself is fascinating to watch. At times you want to kick her, and even hate her for some of the things she does in this film. At the same time though, you can understand what drives her, and how incredibly vulnerable she is. The supporting cast is equally important to the story and just as enjoyable to watch as Jun herself. Why? Because they are really human. All of them are not perfect and have their own insecurities and flaws.

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Yeah I don’t really know what to say to this image. Egghead is the best I could come up with.

I love it when there are characters in a film that are not just there because it’s necessary for them to appear at a certain point, but just have depth and things you can relate to. It’s hard to make a story like this interesting to watch, especially considering the fact that this is a two hour movie that is filled with dialogue and a lot of music. But it succeeds in doing that. The intricate relationships between all of the characters and the way that basically they support each other’s flaws is the heart of what makes this movie work so well. As this is in part a musical as well, you will find sections of the film that are filled with music. But not the typical music that you normally find in anime films. Songs like “Over the Rainbow” and ” Around the World” give this film an extra special touch and just simply work very well, and don’t feel out of place at all. The animation style and level of detail is great too. It’s one of those films that has an almost dreamlike quality to it, and unless you are a very cynical person that doesn’t see beauty in anything, it’s almost impossible to not get touched by it.

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How do you like your eggs in the morning, erm evening?

But that strength is also at the same time it’s weakness. If you are someone who likes their films tense, filled with action and a breakneck pace, then I’m sorry to say that you are not going to be finding that anywhere in this film. What you are going to find though is a movie that has it’s title very well chosen. It will touch your heart and fill you with emotion while at the same time giving you a wonderful feel good feeling. If I were to make a comparison to something that has as a similar feel to Anthem of the Heart it would be Your lie in April. And I don’t think I could hand out a better compliment to this movie than that last one. While I would not call this film a masterpiece or classic, it does come very close. It’s a wonderful film that turns something simple into a very powerful piece of storytelling. It will also make you ask an important question: When is telling the truth something that might not be the best thing to do? I haven’t yet discovered the answer to that one. If you have, be sure to let me know!

I give The Anthem of the Heart a 9 out of 10 score.

Special Features Presents: Animecon 2018, part 2

And welcome back to the second part of my report from this year’s Animecon. If you missed the first part, you can find it again by pressing on the link right¬†here. So, it will probably not come as a huge surprise that since the convention is called Animecon you are able to watch a lot of anime there (No really? That’s astounding! Never would have guessed that!). Okay, let’s quit with the joking and check out what I saw at this year’s con.

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Otaku no Video (1991)

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This was the opening film of Animecon and a classic that I had not yet seen myself. At the time of it’s release it spurred quite a bit of controversy as it portrayed fans (Otakus) as people who were ashamed at themselves for being fans, and included live action excerpts of a documentary. This version though, must have edited these segments out, as I saw not a single one of these. What remained though was a comedy about a young man named Ken Hubo who gets invited by a former friend to a group of anime and manga enthusiasts. Eventually Ken sets out to become the Otaking and take over the entire world making everyone a Otaku. It was a completely over the top and at times quite hilarious anime film. Part of it’s charm was the old school animation style and music, and a lot of older animes like Gunbuster and Macross were also featured in this film. It was an okay film, nothing more, nothing less.

Garo: Vanishing line Episodes 1-5 (2018)

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Ahh, now this was more like it. This was shown late at night and rightfully so, as it was quite brutal and scary, but definitely highly enjoyable. Garo: Vanishing Line takes place in the future where a conspiracy is taking place in a dark city. A man named Sword is trying to get to the bottom of it all, his only clue a word: El Dorado. What I really liked about this anime were the fight sequences. Sword drives around on a big and quite frankly spectacular motorcycle, fighting against all kinds of monsters that some of the citizens are turning into. It also featured quite a bit of fan service, but mostly this served as a kind of comic relief, and luckily did not become the focus of the series like for instance Highschool of the Dead. The first five episodes were shown, and I am definitely going to finish this series soon, as it left me thirsting for more. You can expect a full review for this series somewhere in the future.

Your Name (2017)

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This was the only movie that was shown on all three days of the convention. Most of you that watch anime will probably already have seen this film. It’s been hyped and gotten rave reviews all over…..and that usually let’s warning signs go off in my head. This was for me the first time that I watched it, and I have to honestly admit that it did not live up to the, admittedly, high expectations that I had of it. Does that mean that I did not like the movie? No certainly not. A movie this big though, deserves a proper review and synopsis, and that’s why I am not going to eloborate any further but save it for an upcoming review of this film later this month. I will also watch it a second time before I am going to write it, just to let it sink in better and maybe even change my final verdict for it.

Comic Girls Episodes 1-5 (4) (2018)

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On the last day I had to wait a bit to kill some time, so I decided to give Comic Girls a chance, the first animeseries that was shown on sunday. Well, you know how much I am a fan of comedy series (erm NOT!) and this was a full on comedy, not two ways about it. In Comic Girls we follow a bunch of cute girls as they aspire to become manga designers. Sounds interesting? Well…I have to be honest, this was just not for me. If you love magical girls/comedy series you will probably love this. I did laugh a couple of times but eventually the high pitched voices of the girls and the slapstick antics started grating on my nerves. I made it to four episodes, and with only one more to go I left the theatre not looking back. Sorry Comic Girls, my sincere apologies.

Revolutionary Girl Utena the movie (1999)

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This last movie was a surprise. Not in the sense that it was a surprisingly good film, but more that it was kept secret until the last second, something that they do every year. With this film the convention also came to an end. And wow, talk about your seriously weird animes, this one should probably rank at the top of your list. Apparently (I did some research after seeing this), this movie isn’t supposed to make much sense if you haven’t seen the animeseries it self. Strangely though this is a retelling of the original tale and stands on it’s own. I would be hardpressed to tell you what this film is about. It deals with magical girls, lesbian sexual tension, swordfights and girls that turn into cars for some strange reason. It was very hard to follow it all, and at times it felt like I had taken some kind of weird psychedelic drugs or something like that. Either way, and that’s the even stranger part, I still enjoyed it. Oh well, maybe we all were under some kind of spell when watching this.

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Well, one thing you definitely need when you go to a con is money. Unless you are a sadist and want to torture yourself with looking at all the stuff that you can’t buy. This year’s Animecon just had way too much stuff that was a serious health hazard for my wallet. Needless to say I bough way too much, that’s for sure. I made a slideshow of all the best items, and I am going to let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Yesterday I mentioned something that was for me the highlight of the convention. It wasn’t anime, it also wasn’t a movie, nor was it all the delicious food. No…it was a performance by the band Necronomidol. I discovered this band about a month ago and was both surprised and delighted to hear that they were going to be performing at Animecon. Their music is very hard to describe as it is a mix of dark wave, black metal, hardrock and even small dance influences. The show began about twenty minutes too late, but boy was it worth the wait. The energy they brought to the stage was infectious and they truly managed to urge the crowd to go completely nuts. The set lasted well over an hour, and was incredible and one of the best concerts that I ever attended. They even spoke to the crowd in a few Dutch words, which was absolutely delightful. After this show, even though I already like their music, I became an instant fan, and managed to buy a few nice merchandise items as well (see the picture below). You could even meet the girls in person later on the day, but as there were a few things more I wanted to check out, I declined. (Honestly I probably would have been to shy to say a single word anyway, lol). If you want to find out more about the band, you can find them on Spotify. (I highly recommend listening to the song Skulls in the Stars, which is absolutely amazing).

 

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And with that this year’s report from animecon draws to a close. But what is that ominous note above mean? A call to arms? Are we all going to go to war? Erm no…but I had a crazy idea. How cool would it be if we could all go to Animecon together next year? In 2019 Animecon is going to be held in the city of Rotterdam (yes they are going to change cities), and will start on the 14th of June to close it’s doors on the 16th of June. If any of you ever had plans to visit Holland in the first place and love anime how incredibly awesome would it be if we could all meet up. Hell, I will even buy the first round of bubble tea. Seriously though, it’s a crazy idea, I know, but it would be really cool ¬†if we could somehow realise it. We all talk here every day, and it would be incredible if we could meet up on an event that is this cool and share our love for all things Asian. Well, just a thought. Interested? Let me know in the comments section.

Anyway, that’s it for this post! I had an incredible time at this con, and after all the crap of the past few weeks it was pretty much what I needed. Tomorrow Raistlin0903 is going to be back in business as usual. That means I’m finally going to be performing my normal blogging routine, which means reading your posts, placing comments and of course sharing new reviews about all things geek! Thanks all for reading, and your patience in letting me come back. Have a great day!

Special Features presents: Anime Con 2018, part 1

Hello everyone! I just came back from an exhausting, but incredibly fun, three day weekend extravaganza called Animecon 2018. This annual event took place in the city of The Hague, and is a convention centered around all things Asian. This means there is a lot of anime, manga, workshops, food, games, in short all the good stuff. In order to not make a post that is so long you will get bored by it, I decided to split it up into two different parts, where I will talk about all the things I have seen and done in this fun filled weekend. So, let’s get started!

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Just like last year I stayed at a¬†castle¬† hotel. It was conveniently about a 3 minute walk from the convention itself. Which means that after buying some loot (more on that in part 2) you could drop it off at your hotelroom and get ready for buying more loot….erm, yes, moving on. As you can see from the pictures below, the hotel was pretty luxurious and a nice way to spent some time resting¬†after running around all day at the con. Especially as my room had a very nice view. They also provided a terrificic breakfast in the morning with enough food on offer to cater to everyone’s needs.

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Now that we are on the subject of food, let’s talk about that for a bit. Oh, and you will get hungry after this, so you have been warned. What is a convention without food? No idea really, but there was certainly plenty to eat and drink here, and everything was just absolutely delicious. I ate a lot of cup ramen in all kinds of flavors, all of them very tasty. But the highlight certainly was the Japanese version of a Dutch dish called “poffertjes” (hey I never said or language was easy). Best way to describe poffertjes is a kind of mini pancakes, that are very sweet. However this variant was totally different and more of a salty snack. I also very much enjoyed the melon bubble tea which tasted soooo good, as well as the Japanese Crepes and Dango. All in all there was so much food there, that you had to be careful not to spend all your money on all these mouthwatering dishes.

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One of the floors of the convention was turned into a true video arcade. But instead of paying for these games like you normally would, you could play them all for free. With classics like Time Crisis, Monkey Ball and Tetris to name but a few, you could relive the golden age of videogames. Besides the arcade machines, you could also play games on a great variety of different consoles with both modern games as well as golden oldies, enough to satisfy your gaming addiction. If you would like to play oldschool, you could also spent time playing an amount of boardgames at the boardgamenights (which I didn’t attend myself). Many games were anime oriented, like the¬†Attack on Titan Deckbuilding Game, but you could also play classic Asian boardgames like Go. I did play one round of Go, but as it was my first time playing that game (yeah I like to make up excuses) I lost miserably (but still had fun playing it anyway).

 

 

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Just like last year, besides anime there were also a great number of Asian movies to be seen. I ended up seeing two of them, back to back and both were very much worth it.

Going the Distance (Japan, 2016)

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Going the distance is a movie about friendship and how much you would give to maintain that friendship. Asahi is a boxing trainer in Tokyo who is about to get married to the girl of his dreams Kaori. When his childhood friend Hiroto shows up asking him for help, he is torn between his soon to be wife and his friend. Time is running out for Kaori as she wants to get married before her ailing grandmother who suffers from dementia, forgets who she is. Things soon spiral out of control though, and Asahi finds himself in increasingly more trouble. This drama was very unique in the way that there was absolutely no music that accompanied it. It was an immensely beautiful film, that once again proves how precious true friendship really is, as well as the hard fact that you can’t always get what you want in life.

Her love boils bathwater (Japan 2016)

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This beautiful and heartwarming drama was sent in for a contender as the best
foreign language film at the Oscars of 2017. Sadly it did not make the cut and one has to wonder why. The film tells the story of the woman Futuba who has just been diagnosed with cancer and hears she only has a few more months left to live. Instead of giving up, she is determined to finish a few things before she dies. One is finding back her missing husband and get him to resume the family bath house. Another no less important thing is getting her daughter Azumi, who is being bullied at school, to stand up for herself. With time running out, will she be able to accomplish these and other goals? A movie like this could become an enormous tearjerker. While I won’t deny that you won’t shed a few tears it is mainly a film that fills you with hope and an incredible feel good feeling. I was especially astonished by the high level of acting in this movie. In particular by lead actresses Rie Miyazawa who plays the terminally ill Futuba and Hana Sugisaki who played her daughter Azumi. Both were absolutely amazing in their admittedly very difficult roles. This was a powerful film that stayed in my head long after I finished it.

Well, that’s it for part one. Tomorrow I will bring you part 2, which will feature the anime that I watched, as well as all the stuff that I bought. And, last but not least I will also tell you what was the highlight of the convention for me, and suprisingly that wasn’t any anime or a movie. But more on that tomorrow, as I have to keep some suspense up right? Thank you all for reading, and now I am going to try and make up for some lost sleep lol!

And……I am off…..again!

No, please don’t panic. I’m not announcing a new blogging hiatus. I just came back, and I definitely plan on staying around. So what’s this all about then?? Tomorrow I am taking the train to visit Animecon 2018, a three day convention that focusses on all things Asian, Anime, Manga and loads of other stuff. Besides all those things there is also plenty of nice ¬†food to eat and the hotel I am staying at is certainly also not something that I would soon forget either. Just like¬†last year¬†I plan on writing a post on all my (mis) adventures on the con when I get back. But as I will be busy the upcoming three days with that, I will not be around on WordPress so my apologies in advance for missing out on all your posts. This first week after my blogging hiatus has been an absolute joy, and I want to thank all of you for making me feel so welcome after my abscence. You are all awesome in case you did not already know that yet. As you might have noticed I haven’t been up to my full active self yet, but next week, after I return from the con, I will be back in full swing (in other words: there will be more posts, and more comments from me) Well, that’s it for now. I will talk to you when I get back. I hope you will all have a wonderful and relaxing weekend, bye for now!

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March Theme: Anime

Yes people, it’s a new month, and it promises to be a very good one at that. There are lots of exciting things that are going to be happening in March. First off, I am absolutely delighted to have the theme for March be anime. Ever since I started blogging, I rediscovered my love for this fantastic medium. But I have to give credit to this by naming one of the most inspiring anime bloggers out there, the wonderful¬†Karandi¬†. I had not watched anime for about 7-8 years before I started my blog. In the early days of my “blogging career” I ran across Karandi’s blog purely by chance and needless to say I absolutely loved it. Because of her I began watching anime again, and now, just like blogging it really has become quite a big part of my life. Just like I did for¬†last month’s theme¬†I asked for your help in what I should review, and you can find the results below. Another thing that will be happening this month is the results of the competition. I know you are looking forward to seeing if you might be one of the winners. Well only 8 more days, and the final results will be revealed…and of course that coincides together with my birthday. Lastly I hope there will be two collab posts coming out as well in this month, but I am not going to reveal any details for that just yet. Gotta keep some secrets right??

My Hero Academia

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Well, before I get into who the two bloggers are that won for My Hero Academia (yes there were two) I want to say another thank you to Stilzel, who has made it possible for me to finally be able to see this anime (I can’t provide a link to a blog, because as far as I know Stilzel¬†isn’t on WordPress (yet), but you can find them on Twitter at @_Stilzel).

Now My Hero Acedemia is a very, very popular anime about a society where 80% of the population has superhero powers. Imagine that! Just like last month I used the random numbers generator to select which reviews I would be taking on, and the funny thing is that this one got selected twice in a row, but with two different bloggers that asked for it, one being Jiraiyan and the other Merlin . As I did want to take on two different animes, I decided to just give both bloggers a shout out for this one when I write the final review, and went on to select a third number.

Baccano!

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The second anime that was chosen by the random numbers generator was requested by Adam and is called Baccano! Weirdly enough this anime was on Netflix and today has all of a sudden disappeared. But I have found another way to watch it anyway, so no worries. Baccano! sounds like a deliciously weird and interesting show, that involves fantasy elements, outlaws and gangsters, and seemingly takes place over several decades.

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Well, that’s it! Don’t like anime? No worries, I have still got you covered. There are going to be some movie reviews, as well as another Korean drama that I am currently watching and am very excited for. So there is still other stuff heading your way this month as well. As mentioned, I am currently on a short¬†blogging hiatus, but I had already finished this post and it was scheduled to go out today. Rest assured though, next week I will be back in full swing, and respond to all the comments you left for me (You already have my thanks for all the kind words and support). I hope all of you are doing well, and look forward to talking with you again next week. Bye for now!

March Theme Reveal: Anime

Goodmorning, goodafternoon , goodevening, or maybe even goodnight! No idea when you are reading this post ofcourse, but I always try to be polite. So, we are already at the halfway point of February, and that means it is time to reveal the theme for next month. A few of you already knew about this (because really I am terrible at keeping secrets), but for those of you that didn’t yet know or for some reason missed the title of this post: it’s anime! I’m very excited for this month, for not only is it a theme that is very close to my heart, it’s also because if all goes well I have some collab posts lined up that I am really looking forward to. Just like last¬†month¬†I am going to ask you for some help again. For this month I am going to be reviewing two animes that will be selected by you the readers. And yes…..there are again a couple of rules for this. Ugh….I know I hate them too. But let’s get them over with, shall we?

The Rules

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Ughhhh…rules? Again? This is getting so annoying!

Well, don’t worry I’m not going to make them very tough again, so here goes:

  • The anime must either be on Crunchyroll or Netflix (please bear in mind that I live in Holland, so not every show might be available to me. If it isn’t I ofcourse will let you know, so you are able to choose another one)
  • The anime must have a maximum length of 12-13 episodes (It can be a first season, if it has that number of episodes)
  • Any genre of anime is allowed, except full on comedy series (sorry, I just don’t like that genre and would not even know how to write a review for that)
  • Leave your choice for the two animes in the comments section
  • You can leave a comment on this post up until the 25th of February
  • The two animes that will be selected will be revealed on the 1st of March and just like last month I am going to use a random number generator to determine who has won
  • The two bloggers that have won will get an honorable mention on my blog

That’s it! Pretty simple huh? As always I want to thank you for your help, and I am really looking forward to seeing what you are going to come up with. Rest assured for the people that are not into anime, there will still be other content as well such as movie reviews and hopefully another Korean drama series. See you on the next post!

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Okay, let’s get out of here!

 

Girls und Panzer, Anime tv series (2012)

Have you ever found yourself wanting to write a post, but you just don’t quite know where to start? This is one of them. I always like to start my reviews with an introduction that in some way relates to whatever I am reviewing, but this one……I really am at a loss for words. I have promised to do a review for Girls und Panzer for a very long time, and now that the moment is finally there, I am stalling and buying time. And, not quite succeeding at that either, am I? So why is this so hard? Well….unless I am mistaking I don’t think there currently is a place in the world where the sport of Tankery is being held. What’s that: Raistlin writing a post on a sports anime? What kind of black sorcery is this? ¬†As most of you might know: I absolutely hate sports, of any kind. I don’t practice sports, I don’t watch sports, and Ugh….I am rambling again. Anyways, if I could participate in a game of Tankery though: you can count me in. Phew. Well, I am finally past the starting point. Time to start the review in earnest….now, where do I start? Oh yeah, you would like to know what this show is about right?

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Yes, there really is a pink tank in this picture.

Girls und Panzer takes us to a world where World War II tanks are maintained to be used in the sporting event known as Tankery. In this brutal, but at the same time relatively safe competition, girls from different highschools fight each other on battlefields in order to reach the finals and claim victory. Miho Nishizumi is a girl that comes from a very prestigious family that has been practicing Tankery for many years. But in a previous competition something happened to Miho, that causes her to become traumatised and not wanting to continue practicing the sport. Having transferred to a new Academy school ship that she believes doesn’t have Tankery on their list of activities, Miho tries to pick up her life. On her first day at the new school she has already made some new friends, and really begins to believe that life is good again. But, little does she know that the school has added the sport she fears so much back on the roster. Eventually Miho, as the only one who has had any previous experience with Tankery, is pressured into helping the other school girls. Together with her new friends, Nishiszumi enters the competition where she will face a lot of new challenges. The biggest one being, coming to terms with the life she thought she had left behind….

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Sometimes it can be really hard to find a good parking space. 

There are times when you put on a show and literally after seeing the very first scene it just clicks for you. This is one of those shows. Girls und Panzer is a series that is just pure and simple fun. One of the things I love most about anime is the sometimes completely unique concepts it can come up with. I mean really, think about this for a second. How on Earth do you come up with a plot like this: cute highschool girls driving World War II tanks. But not only does it work, it is one of those animes that you can’t help but smile at. It’s really…well cute. And that’s weird for a series that has brutal tank battles in it. But let me just get that out of the way first. Girls und Panzer is a comedy series. In no way is all of this to be taken seriously. There is no blood, and nor are the girls ever in a real life or death battle. Ofcourse no sporting event comes without it’s risk of injury, and Tankery is no different. And yes people, you read that right, not only am I reviewing a sports anime, but it’s a comedy as well. Really, I must have been hit on the head or something.

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Let’s all join in dancing here! Because really that’s what you do in a battle!

Honestly though this is not a slapstick comedy. There are some really funny scenes, but it’s not the kind of humor that is cringeworthy. And that said, the highlight of this series is most certainly the sport of Tankery itself. The tank battles are seriously awesome to watch. Using computertechniques to bring them to life, they are the absolute highlight of this anime. You would think that at some point battles like that will become very tedious, but let me assure that is not the case. Every event is unique, and just like watching an exciting football match featuring your favorite team, you will really hold your breath each time Miho enters a new battle with her friends. You really want them to win, and when they do you will find yourself raising your fist in the air and shouting at the top of your lungs along with the fictional crowd. Erm, or maybe that is just me. Storywise, there really isn’t much more to it than the girls trying to reach the finals. There are a few subplots here and there, but overall the focus is on Tankery. In other animes that might get quite boring, but this anime never has that problem.

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Yes, military uniforms have certainly come a long way since the war. 

There is something that is a bit of a problem and that is the huge cast this series has. I am not kidding here, but this anime has over 50 different characters. While the focus is definitely on Miho and her friends, all the others make appearances in several episodes as well. It will probably not come as a very huge surprise to you that character development isn’t very high on the agenda. But to it’s credit, despite that fact, each character does have it’s own distinguishing marks. I, however did have some trouble in keeping some of the cast members apart from each other. With a cast this huge everyone will probably have a favorite, and for me that was Mako Reizei. It felt like she was continually sleeping through everything (well, she always had trouble getting up early in the morning), and her voice never gets excited even in the face of danger. This causes some very funny scenes, where for example the rest of the girls are going completely nuts, and she just keeps talking with her monotone voice.

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Some people take the order to fire a bit too literally. 

Another thing that is worth mentioning is the soundtrack. The background music at times sounds like the ones you had in old World War II movies, and it fits this anime perfectly. Together with the world that is created in this series, it manages to create a very unique experience. Girls und Panzer is an anime you need to watch when you want to take a break from all the heavy stuff. It is simply put a very charming show, that I pretty much dare you not to be entertained by. What it might lack in terms of storyline and character development, it more than makes up for in the excitement and fun factor. Unless you are a very cynical person that is completely devoid of any emotion, you will be put under it’s spell right from the beginning. Girls und Panzer has been a joy to watch, even though this is certainly a series that is miles away from the shows that I usually see. Panzer vor!

I give Girls und Panzer a 8 out of 10 score.