Tag Archives: Mystery

Deadman Wonderland, Anime tv series (2011)

I’m beginning to have a small luxury problem. And I’m sure I’m definitely not the only one that has this particular problem. Ever since I started my blog, now more than a year ago, my love for anime has resurfaced. Shock of all shocks, it might even surprise you that before that, I had not been watching anime for a period of more than five or six years. I know right? How on Earth did I even survive that? Now though I have so much anime to watch, that I don’t even know where to start anymore. Besides my own rather formidable dvd collection, I now also have Crunchyroll and more recently Netflix, that have such a great variety of anime series on offer. So what to do about this problem? I’m just going with the flow I guess. I now try to watch a series from my own dvd collection, and then one from either Netflix or Crunchyroll. Just to keep some kind of balance. Erm, yes I guess I can be weird like that at times. Anyway, it was Netflix that was next in line, and after browsing through their considerably large animelist, my eyes were drawn to Deadman Wonderland.

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This brings a whole new meaning to the term papercut. 

In Deadman Wonderland the life of the seemingly ordinary highschool student Ganta Igarashi is about to take a turn for the worse. When his class is preparing to take a school field trip to the privately owned prison Deadman Wonderland, that at the same time serves as an amusement park, a mysterious being suddenly appears. The being that is known as The Red Man, slaughters the entire class, with the exception of Ganta. Being the only survivor, Igarashi soon gets charged with mass murder. Things get even worse when overwhelming evidence is presented that can’t be explained and soon young Ganta is sentenced to death and sent to the Deadman Wonderland prison. Once there he meets a mysterious white haired girl called Shinto, that saves him from a bunch of bullies that were about to kill him. All of a sudden a large explosion rocks the prison and brings down a large object right on top of Ganta and Shinto. Just when it is about to crush them, a mysterious power awakens in Ganta that allows him to take control of his own blood. In this way he manages to keep the object from falling on their heads. With the awakening of this power it is beginning to become apparent that Deadman Wonderland holds many secrets, and not all of them very friendly…..

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Hey, I told you Shinto could get a little crazy at times

Well, let me start this review by saying that this series is not, I repeat not, for the faint of heart. To call this series rather gory is quite the understatement. The blood flows freely in this anime, and I am not talking about a few small drops either. No we have buckets full of blood that are spilled, including several mutilations, and a rather nasty removal of an eyeball, that makes this a really brutal show. But before you all turn the other way, let me tell you that this show also kicks ass (pardon my French). I have never seen an animeseries that featured such a unique power. Ganta, and a rather large cast of other colourful characters, can use their own blood to form  weapons like swords, whips or even projectiles. And this makes for a couple of incredibly cool fightscenes between the inmates, that while at times rather bloody, really are highly entertaining to watch. It’s almost as if you are back in Rome during the days of gladiator fighting.

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Don’t worry these are all special effects, he is fine. 

As mentioned the cast is rather large, and more and more are added with each episode. This eventually results in quite a few them being rather bland, and not ones that you can form an attachment to. But one character I guarantee you will in love with is Shinto. This free spirited girl that has a special, and really protective bond with Ganta is a truly fun character. Sometimes a little crazy, at other times seemingly innocent, but more than capable of taking care of herself she is the absolute highlight of this anime. Ganta, the hero of the series is your typical innocent young boy character, that you have seen in quite a number of other shows. That is not to say that you don’t feel sympathy for him though. Not only is he wrongfully accused, he also gets confronted with a mysterious power and is placed in the most awful place one can imagine. It is enough to drive most men or women insane, but Ganta keeps fighting the good fight, and you have to admire that.

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In case you were wondering, no she is not naked, she is wearing a suit. 

For those of you that are observant, you might have already taken a glance at the final score I have given this anime. Made you look didn’t I? So why the low score for a show that I haven’t been really negative for yet? Well, it’s unfortunately one of those anime series that wraps things up in a really bad way. Or maybe it’s even better to say it doesn’t wrap up anything. After 12 episodes you are left with so many unanswered questions, and no real resolution that you end up feeling rather frustrated. I absolutely hate it when something like this happens. I can honestly say that I had a lot of fun watching this, up until the final few episodes. And this is really such a shame. The storyline for this was very good, the animation more than decent, there were cool fightscenes and some very interesting  characters. And then it all went to hell in a handbasket. Whether or not you want to give this a try depends on the fact if you don’t mind shows that end with with no real resolution. I do have to admit that the fightsequences alone are worth seeing at least once, so there is that. All in all, despite a pretty big list of positives I can’t really bring myself to fully recommend this one. So watch at your own discretion.

I give Deadman Wonderland a 6 out of 10 score.

 

 

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Stranger Things Season 2, American tv series (2017)

It is saturday morning, the 28th of October. I’m going through my checklist. Have I locked the door? Have I turned off my phone? Did I stock up on foodsupplies? Did I make sure that I have cancelled all my appointments for the day? I feel the fear swiftly take a hold of me. I did do all these things right? Calmly I exhale…yes, I have checked everything multiple times now. A grim smile crosses my face: I am ready. Quietly I walk towards the remote of my television set. With my heart pounding like thunder, I press the play button and see the Netflix logo appearing. I sit back, grab my cup of hot coffee and whoop with joy. Yes people season 2 of Stranger Things is finally here. I imagine the scene I just described has been playing across multiple homes across the globe this weekend. Albeit probably a bit less dramatic. So, in case you have yet to discover this tv series, I’ve got you covered. Last year I did a review for the first season, which you can find right here.

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Who are you gonna call? (Oh come on, what else did you expect me to say about a picture like this?)

What’s that? Can’t I just give a quick description? Sure. Stranger Things is pretty much a loveletter to everything that made the 80’s so awesome. The series is set in the 80’s and focusses on a group of friends that end up in the middle of a mystery that is out of this world. You will find references to all your favorite movies from that era, like the Goonies, E.T., Aliens, the Thing and a whole bunch more. To say that I am in love with this series is an understatement. So you are warned that this review for the second season is going to be me gushing pretty much over how awesome this show really is. But I will be doing that spoilerfree, and sure I will try and be as objective as I can. With a series that had such a strong opening season, there is always a lot of pressure. Will it be as good? Aren’t they going to ruin everything what you loved so much about the series in the first place? Well….they didn’t. In fact, at some points it was even better. Now of course I will get to that soon, but let’s first get to the story of the second season.

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Yes, that really is quite a disturbing sight.

Season 2 takes place a year after the events of the first season. Will Byers is safely back, and tries to pick up his life as best he can after the trauma he suffered. Supported by his group of friends, they get back into the things they love doing. However, soon Will is beginning to experience terrifying visions of the Upside Down. It seems that the supernatural forces are still out there, and are trying to get back into the world, with the intent of destroying it and humanity. But is Will just having after effects of his earlier experiences or is there something more sinister going on? In the meantime Sheriff Hopper is having problems of his own. He is trying to keep something a secret in order to protect the ones he loves the most. But in doing so, he might just be making things even worse. It is not long before all hell is going to break  loose and a terrifying presence from beyond is going to make itself known. Once again it will be up to Mike and the rest of his band of misfits to save the world. But this time, the stakes are much, much higher, and the question becomes if they are going to be up to this task…..

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Who says girls can’t play videogames is just very stupid.

The first thing you will notice when you are starting with the second season is that the pace has been changed. Events are moving at a much slower rate, and we are spending more time getting into the minds of the characters, instead of going into all out action mode. I did not think this was a bad thing though, but I can understand how some viewers might also consider some of it a bit too slow for their tastes. The strength of this show however is the characters. Whoever did the casting for this series should definitely get a raise. I am in awe of the acting abilities of some of these kids. We have to consider the fact that these are relatively young children, but from the way they are acting you would say they had been doing it for years. But next to the regulars we also get a bunch of new additions to the cast. This is always risky, as with a cast as awesome as this, you really wonder if any new ones don’t throw a wrench into the well oiled machine.

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There is going to be a season 3? Really?

But here there are also no problems, as they all work out incredibly well. My favorite had got to be tomboy Max who adds some much needed girlpower to the group. She is a feisty and spirited girl that you will fall in love with right from the start. Her stephbrother though is a whole other matter. A truly loathsome guy, who thinks he is God’s greatest gift to women, he is a seriously annoying presence, but in a very good way. It’s always terrific when you get a character that you truly hate, but also want to see more of because he is played so well. We also get a new love interest for Winona Ryder’s character namely the good guy Bob Newby. Played by Sean Astin, who once played in the Goonies, this is just one of those characters that basically can’t do anything wrong. Finally Paul Reiser portrays a new scientist called dr. Owens that works at the lab that started the whole mess. At the beginning it is pretty unclear just  what his motives are, and whether or not his intentions are evil or not. I always enjoy shady characters like that, and it’s nice to figure stuff like that out.

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Why did you not tell me there would be a third season sooner?

As you might have noticed I have kept things about the plot relatively in the dark. That’s because I really don’t want to spoil things for anyone that still has to see this. Don’t worry about the fact that things start off slow though. The pace will pick up soon enough, and there is still plenty of action. As mentioned above I thought this season at some points was even better. I loved finding out more about all the characters, and the special effects for all of these episodes were also a step up from the ones seen in Season 1. Clearly they just had a much bigger budget, and could therefore spent a lot more money. Overall though, one has to be honest and say that everything in this season was simply playing it very safe. There were no real surprises and they just made sure that the viewers got everything they loved about the first season and then some. Not that this was a bad thing though, but one has to wonder what they are going to be doing for season 3.

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Let’s have a little light in the darkness. 

Season 3 you say? Yes. Stranger Things will reportedly get at least three more seasons , with the next one already heading into the production phase. And I love it! Yes, the series has to be careful to not play it too safe, and hopefully will also try and bring a bit more surprises into the existing storyline next season. That being said, the mythology of this show along with the wonderful cast of characters, is something that I don’t mind spending more time with. This series is awesome, and simply the best series on Netflix at this moment. It’s one those shows that makes you sad when the credits start to roll on the final episode. Stranger Things season 2 is a terrific watch, and if you were already a fan, you will even be more of a fan after this one. The lack of surprises made me not give this season a 10/10 score like last year, but it was another amazing ride and one that I did not regret for even a single second. Well…time to unlock the door and plug in the phone again. Let’s get back to the real world.

I give season 2 of Stranger Things a 9 out of 10 score.

 

 

The girl who leapt through time, Japanese (animated) movie (2006)

I’m going to let you in on a little secret about me: I never sleep in. Not even in the weekends. I’m always up early, usually at around six in the morning, and I do this because time is precious and I don’t want to lose too much of it by sleeping. (It also helps that I don’t need much sleep, so there is that). As a result that means I am never late for things either. I always arrive way too early at my work, or at appointments. I’m always amazed at people that arrive 2 minutes before they have to be somewhere. I would go completely nuts if that were me. It all would be so much easier though if there was some way we could travel through time. We would literally have all the time in the world, and things would be so much easier. Or would they? Even though it might sound like a very nice thing to be able to travel through time, and maybe even correct mistakes you might have made, it always comes with a consequence. Something that the movie I am about to review is trying to make painfully clear.

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I would not recommend stepping of your bike like that. You might get hurt.

In The girl who leapt through time we meet the happy go lucky highschoolgirl Makoto Konno. She lives at home with her parents and her younger sister, and enjoys playing baseball. She is always in a rush though, racing on her bike to get to places in time, and nearly always arriving late at school. One day after class ends, while riding downhill on her bike, her brakes fail. She desperately tries to find a way to stop before hitting a railroad crossing, but fails and gets hit by an oncoming train. But then strange things start to happen. She all of a sudden finds herself back on her bike, just before the accident happens. This time events happen differently. She soon finds out she has the power to time-leap, essentially travelling back in time for short or longer distances. Makoto begins to enjoy her new found power and uses it for relatively small things such as getting perfect grades or arriving in time. Her two closest friends Chiaki and Kousuke are beginning to notice changes in her behaviour. Eventually time catches up with her, and she begins to realise that everything comes at a price. Especially since one of her friends might be in mortal danger…..

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It’s scenes like this that are simply breathtaking.

I have been wanting to see this movie for a very long time. To my delight I was finally able to obtain it on this year’s animecon and I have finally found some time (pun intended) to watch it. And I can tell you this movie did not disappoint. This was a really wonderful piece of animation both in terms of story as in art. At the heart of this one is the underlying message that every action we take or might not take, has a consequence. If for instance you might fear to admit you love someone, because you might lose his or her friendship, you might rob yourself from something even more beautiful. This last theme is something that is dealt with quite heavily in this movie, but before you start to think this is a mushy romantic film: it’s not. Though there is definitely some melancholy in this movie, it’s mostly a very uplifting and upbeat story. There were quite a number of times this film presented some heartwarming moments, that managed to put a smile on my face.

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Sometimes you just enter that fork in the road. 

From an animation point of view this film is really something. We are talking about a movie that is more than ten years old, but the animation presented in this one is breathtaking. There are numerous shots of a beautiful landscape, that coupled with the music, just gives you the feeling you want to stay in those scene forever. The main characters are great as well. Makoto is a great and fun character, which is important as you spent almost the entire movie at her side. You really sympathise with her, and the things she is going through. Her two friends Chiaki and Kousuke are for a change not your typical macho type boys, but two men that have their hearts in the right place. As the inevitable love triangle begins, it is luckily not one of those that will make you cringe (thank God for that). There are some other minor characters that also have some influence in the story, but the movie mainly revolves around the three characters I just mentioned.

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Take off your earphones when I am talking to you: that’s plain rude! 

The voice acting in the film (I watched the movie in the original Japanese language in case you were wondering) is very good, except for some of the scenes where Makoto has to cry or laugh. Those are always difficult emotions to pull off, but at a brief scene near the end it spoiled the emotional moment a little bit. But this is a minor thing in what is otherwise a truly terrific and beautiful movie. The girl who leapt through time is a film that I can definitely recommend. Especially if you like movies that feature time travelling elements. Sometimes films such as those can get very complicated, but in this one it’s handled very well, without it ever becoming hard to follow. So, they say time waits for no one. In other words, what are you waiting for? Go and see this movie.

I give The girl who leapt through time a 9 out of 10 score.

Blade Runner 2049, American/Uk/Canadian movie (2017)

The movie industry can sometimes be incredibly strange. In 1982 the original Blade Runner was released. A movie that many consider to be a groundbreaking piece of science fiction filmmaking. Throughout the years the film has become a cult classic, that has been gathering praise long after it’s release. Because when it was released 35 years ago, it did not perform very well, and even some critics did not give the movie very positive reviews. When the news was announced that a sequel was being made for this film, many people including myself, had to raise a few eyebrows. Why do you make sequel to a film that quite frankly doesn’t need one, and were there people really waiting for this at this point? When the first trailer was released for it, I became cautiously optimistic. For it really looked….good. With the release of the film now upon us, critics are giving the movie very high marks. With glowing reviews under it’s belt and cool trailers, one would think this film would become an overnight box office succes right?

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What do you mean this film isn’t doing well at the Box-office? 

Well, that’s where you would be wrong. Just like the original, the movie is currently under performing at the cinemas, so I guess in some cases history does repeat itself. This is going to be a bit of an unusual review for me, as I am not going to tell you much about the plot of the film. To do so, would be to rob of you of a lot of enjoyment as in this case the less you know about it, the more you will be surprised by it. What I can tell you is that this sequel takes place 30 years after the events of the first movie. The mighty Tyrell Corporation has gone bankrupt. Out of it’s ashes a new pioneer for the replicant technology, a man named Niander Wallace, arises. He has created a new type of replicant that is obedient and has been integrated into society to work as servants and slaves. The older types are still being hunted and retired by the cops known as Blade Runners. One of them, the Blade Runner known simply as K has stumbled on a secret that could shake the very foundations of society. Powerful forces will stop at nothing to prevent that secret from coming out…

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This is my response to that! 

It’s very hard to describe to you exactly what I thought of this movie. Perhaps it’s best to give you my state of mind as I left the theatre yesterday afternoon, after having sat there for almost three hours seeing the movie for the first time in IMAX. And that state of mind was very, very sad. Not because I hated the film, but because of the atmosphere that this movie manages to create. One of the things that I love in films is to escape in a make believe world for a few hours. What we have here however is a very bleak and depressing future, that seems to penetrate itself into the very core of your mind. Together with the brilliant music created by Hans Zimmer, and the incredible visual style, I don’t think I have ever seen a more depressing view of the future than what has been created in this film. It’s one of the main reasons why this has become a must see movie, but it’s not only the visuals that make the film so astounding.

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Hello little man. 

We also have a script here, that would not surprise me if it got nominated for an Oscar. There are so many layers in it, that it’s difficult to tell too much about it without heading into spoiler territory. Suffice it to say that one of the main things that I really liked about it, is something you might be surprised at: and that is the universal theme of love. K has a very unusual relationship, which is both beautiful and incredibly sad at the same time. But just like in the original it’s also the age old question of what it exactly means to be human, that makes it’s return. And even more than in the original 1982 classic, that question is even harder to answer in this sequel. Even though some of the trailers for the film would like you to believe this is an action movie, it really isn’t. It’s very slow moving, and while there is some action, the main part of the film is spent with K trying to figure out his place in the uncovering of the secret.

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I can see clearly now the rain is gone. 

Performance wise there is a lot to enjoy. Ryan Gosling plays K, and he manages to create a character that is both very human and at the same time also isn’t. This really is his journey, and for an audience to go along on that journey, you have to be able to create sympathy for your character. And Gosling certainly has excelled at that. The role of Niander Wallace is performed by Jared Leto. Though his character had a chilling aura, it certainly wasn’t a very memorable part. In fact it was his replicant enforcer Luv, played by Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks that made a much more lasting impression. She played a great villain, and pardon my French: a perfectly evil bitch. And of course there is Harrison Ford who reprises his role as Rick Deckard. Even though time might have catched up with him, he can still pull off the part. It was an absolute joy to seem him make an appearance again, and the movie just would not have been the same without him in it.

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The first person to make a remark about my age is going to get it! 

So, are there any negative points? Yes, there are. The film clocks in at almost three hours, and that was just too long overall. Some scenes felt unnecessary, and could have helped with the pacing of the movie had they been left out. At times the film is just a bit too slow. But then again, this really isn’t much different from it’s original counterpart. Now on to the hard part: do I recommend this film? I can honestly say that this is an incredible movie, with a fantastic script, a believable and utterly beautifully created world and some high caliber performances. At the same time, this movie also won’t be for everyone. If you can’t handle slow paced films, and expect an action spectacle you would be wise not to go this movie. For fans of the original though, this almost feels like coming home. It’s a sequel that pretty much rivals and at some points is even better than the classic. And that is a very hard thing to accomplish. I won’t lie to you though, it’s bleak vision of the future will take you a bit of time to let go of. Also be prepared to have the movie spinning around in your head for a while. But that usually is a good sign.

I give Blade Runner 2049 a 9 out of 10 score.

Chaos; Child, Anime tv series (2017)

Throughout history there have been many serial killers that spread a wave of fear amongst the general population. A lot of them were luckily caught, but there were also some cases that have never been solved. Imagine being a detective that has been given the job to catch such a killer. Where would you start with? And also think of the pressure you would be under if the bodycount keeps going up. Serial killer stories have been the subject for many movies and tv series. For some twisted reason, people just keep enjoying that subject, and admittedly they have provided a couple of great and classic movies. Anime has also had it’s share of serial killer stories, like for instance the terrific series Erased. And now we have Chaos;Child, but to call this a show just about a serial killer, is selling it short and doesn’t even begin to cover it. It is a blend of a lot of different genres, that is both it’s greatest strength, but also at the same time it’s greatest weakness. But lets first start with the story itself.

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Yep, sometimes it can be quite tough to be a murder investigator. 

The city of Shibuya has been struck by a massive earthquake, an event that happened six years in the past. It is now the year 2015, and the survivors of that terrible day are trying to get on with their lives, after the city itself has been completely rebuild. One of those survivors is a young man called Takuru Miyashiro, who is a member of his school’s newspaper club. He is currently investigating a string of grissly murders, that leads him to believe that a serial killer is currently active. But soon he begins to realise that the murders bear an uncanny resemblance to a case that was known as The New Generation Murder Madness, which happened right before the earthquake struck. Even more frightening is the fact that the people that are getting killed now, are dying on the exact same dates as the killings that took place six years ago. Soon Takuru gets sucked into a mystery that will have dire consequences for himself, but also for the people that are close to him….

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The new commercial for tomato ketchup had gotten quite out of hand. 

Chaos; Child is a series that is a cocktail of so many different genres, that it’s pretty hard to describe in which category this one falls. So I am not going to even attempt to try and do that. But I for one quite liked this series, despite it having quite a few flaws as well. But let’s first start with the positive notes. One thing this anime does very well is create a very creepy and intense atmosphere. That’s where the horror elements come in. The murders that are taking place in this series, are honestly quite brutal and disturbing. Which means this anime is certainly not for the faint at heart. Another thing that I loved in Chaos;Child, is the mystery elements and numerous twists. Your mind pretty much went into overdrive with each episode in trying to figure out what was going on along with Takuru. Certain revelations and events sometimes really came as quite a shock, and left you breathless.

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I would cry too if my presents got trashed like this. 

 

However the series also had quite a few flaws. The amount of information that was sometimes thrown at viewers during an episode was staggering, and at times made it hard to follow along. This anime was a sequel to Chaos;Head, which I haven’t seen, and the first episode did a recap for that series. That in itself is a good thing, but it showed a lot of the information in the form of an internet forum, with numerous texts appearing at the same time. I actually had to pause the series at certain times during that episode just to read everything. The characters in Chaos;Child are also introduced very rapidly, and in that way it was hard to form an attachment to them. Most of them, with a few exceptions, just are not that interesting, and when some of them eventually end up getting killed, you don’t really care enough about them to be bothered by it.

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I did mention this series was quite disturbing at times right? 

As mentioned earlier this series mixes together a lot of different elements. Horror, mystery, supernatural, psychic powers and even science fiction elements are all in this series at some point. It made it a very interesting show for me, but I can also see how people might not like that fact. Chaos;Child is not an easy watch. The first episode alone is a hard one to get through, but it does eventually pay off to continue with this series. The storyline, despite it’s many elements, is quite clever and has been put together very well. When you reach the final episode, your brain might already have exploded in trying to figure out what it is you just watched. I for one found it a series that kept on going in my mind, which is usually a good thing. I am definitely going to track down Chaos;Head, if only for the fact if by seeing that one, certain things in this series might start to make more sense. If you like horror and supernatural series, and are not one to quit on a series after just one episode, this series will provide enough entertainment for you.

I give Chaos;Child a 8 out of 10 score.

Macross Zero, Anime tv series (2002)

Prequels. It is a concept that the past few years has been introduced in novels, movies, and tv series. The question I have always asked myself is what is precisely the point of a prequel ? Sure it is nice to find out some backstory about certain characters, or some kind of clarification about events that were not fully explained in whatever the prequel is based on. But because a prequel can ofcourse not change the events of the established story, I always find that it lacks excitement. You know the story of what comes after, and ofcourse which characters will be in the original so they can’t be killed off in the prequel. If done well however, it can occasionally be fun to find out what led up to certain events happening in the original story. Honestly though, I am not a big fan of prequels. I do watch them,especially for franchises that I really enjoy like for instance the anime series Macross. Just like Gundam Wing it has now had so many different shows, that it is hard to keep track of it all. I might do a post for the entire Macross saga in the future. For now, all you need to know for this one, is that Macross Zero is a prequel to the series that started it all.

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I believe I can fly….

It is the year 1999 and a gigantic alien spacecraft crashlands on Earth. At the time the world is engulfed in a global war, but with the realisation that mankind is not alone, an uneasy peace is established. Nine years later, a lot of new technology has been realised with the help of what is found within the bowels of the alien ship. Most notably the transformable Valkyrie fighters. Even though the war has pretty much died down, there are still a lot of skirmishes between the new U.N.Spacy and Anti-Un forces. During one of these fights, we meet up with the young pilot Shin Kudo, who gets shot down by a strange alien craft. Crashlanding on a Mayan island he manages to survive. When he meets up with the inhabitants of the island, he soon realises that they have a secret that ties them to the alien ship. Deep under the ocean there resides an alien weapon that has been buried for over 10.000 years. A weapon that may result in the end of mankind when released……

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Nothing can keep us apart, except maybe a pink bubbly thing.

One thing that Macross has always been good at, is showcasing transformable fighter planes that beat the crap out of each other. And in that regard Macross Zero certainly does not disappoint. This 5 part series showcases some of the coolest Mecha fight sequences in this franchise to date. This being a prequel it was nice to see a lot of the old craft from the original series returning, most notably the Skull One. But there were also some new Mecha that we did not yet see in any of the other series. These fights were definitely the highlight of the show.

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Kind of gives a new dimension to the word overkill.

Another thing that has always been a trademark for this series is the love triangle arc. This time it is between the hero of the story Shin, and two sisters from the island on which he crashlands, Sara and Mao Nome. The characters in this franchise are usually one of the strong points, but in this prequel I found them to be rather dull. I did not establish any kind of attachment to them whatsoever, and that usually is a bad thing. What I did like was the return of the tragic hero from the original series Roy Focker. Even though he played he a small part in the events for this series, it was an important one. As Roy has always been a fan favorite character, many will enjoy seeing his return.

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Yep, that really is Roy Focker.

The story for this prequel was rather confusing. It contained a lot of mythical mumbo jumbo, that I at times could not make heads nor tails of. This being a prequel it does ofcourse contain some interesting ties to the original series, and I guess that makes it somewhat worth it. Has it changed my view on prequels though? Nope, I can honestly say that it did not. Macross Zero is worth the watch for the incredible Mecha fights that are contained within these five episodes, but ultimately I found it to be a rather disappointing entry into the Macross mythology. If you like Macross though, this is one you at least want to watch once, if only to see a few classic things make a reappearance. If you have yet to discover Macross, I would recommend starting with the original tv series from 1982, which is still every bit as groundbreaking as when it was first shown on television.

I give Macross Zero a 6 out of 10 score.

Steins;Gate,Anime tv series (2011)

Timetravelling. From movies such as Back to the Future and The Terminator, it has always been a concept that is endlessly fascinating. And why not? Would it not be incredibly awesome if one day the concept would become a reality? And where would you go? Would you travel to the past and correct certain mistakes that you have made ? Or would you head into the future and see what your life would be like there? Whatever choice you make, it will never be entirely without consequences. Who is to say that correcting a past mistake might not end up resulting in a future that is even worse? And when you already know what might happen in the future, would that not take the fun out of living your life? A lot of movies that deal with timetravelling deal with questions such as these. The highly rated and fanfavorite Anime series Steins;Gate is definitely no exception to this rule.

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When Steins;Gate starts we meet up with the strange and pretty goofy character Rintaro Okabe. He sees himself as a “mad scientist” and pretty much can’t stop talking about that fact. Seeing conspiracies everywhere, he also runs a labarotory in his appartment together with his friends the loveable Mayuri Shiina and Itaru Hashida. One day Rintaro attends a conference about time travel, a subject that has become a complete obsession for him. A firm believer in the fact that this can really be achieved it is not long after that he and his fellow lab members find out by accident that there definitely is a truth to this fact. Unfortunately however, Rintaro and his friends are about to find out that playing with time has it’s consequences. Ironically enough the imagined conspiracies Okabe has been afraid of all his life, will soon become a reality. And the lives of everyone he loves, as well as the fate of the world itself will hang in the balance….

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Steins;Gate has been recommended to me be my so many people that is was a very hard show to resist. Featuring time travel, one of my favorite science fiction concepts, already had me interested in it. Seeing the very high ratings this show has received over the years, I expected a lot from this series. And…..I am sorry to say that these expectations were not met. The first half of this series is just incredibly slow. I don’t mind slow series at all, but with all the quirky and crazy things happening in the beginning it was at times hard to stick with it. But I already knew that, as everyone kept saying that the series would redeem itself in the second part. By the time I had reached episode 12 the series really did change. It became very dark, and it was almost as if you were watching an entirely different show.

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Although the second part certainly had a lot of amazing twists, and some very clever timetravelling concepts, I still could not get into it enough for me to truly enjoy the series. One thing I did enjoy though were the characters. Rintaro reminds me a lot of Mel Gibson’s character from the briljant movie Conspiracy Theory. Completely nuts at times, but still a lot of fun to watch. The same goes for his childhood friend Mayuri, who is simply adorable, and one of those characters that you just instantly care about. The animation style and music also really fit this series. Even though there are certainly shows out there that have a higher level of animation, it just seemed right for this show.

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The plot of this series is clever, but because of the sometimes weird humor in the series, I often had a hard time wondering what this series wanted itself to be. As a comedy it certainly worked at times, and there were also quite a few episodes in the second half of the series that had me on the edge of my seat. Overall though the series was a bit too slow for my tastes. I have no regrets watching this, and it really is one of those series that does keep sticking around in your mind, which I guess is a good thing . Maybe in a few months time I will rewatch this series and might even rate it somewhat higher. For now though I can not help but feel slightly disappointed by the show after the incredible amount of hype this has received. As with everything, this is just a matter of opinion, so certainly don’t take my word on it alone. Go and judge this series for yourself, but do take your TIME for it though…..

I give Steins;Gate a 7 out of 10 score.

Special Features Presents: My five favorite Superbowl trailers (2017)

Earlier this week one of America’s biggest events was held: The Superbowl. Now I pretty much don’t care about sports. Yes I admit it, I am lazy that way. I at times get tired just by thinking about sports. For me the Superbowl is just about one thing: the release of some cool new trailers for upcoming movies and tv series. Following below, counting down from number five to one, are the trailers that I was excited about the most this year. Enjoy!

5) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Now, actually I was pretty surprised that this one ended up on my list. The movies for this franchise went downhill pretty fast after the first one was released, but admittedly this trailer looks like the films might finally be heading in the right direction again. The trailer features some very cool looking stuff, and honestly I am cautiously optimistic for it.

 

4) Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2

The first Guardians of the Galaxy was one of those movies I went to not knowing what to expect from it. And in the end I was completely blown away by it. It was fun, pure and simple fun. This new trailer promises more of that same fun, and I can’t wait for it’s release later this year.

 

3) The Fate of the Furious

Yes, I know, the Fast and the furious franchise is getting crazier with each installment that is being released. The action is so over the top though, that I can’t help but enjoy these movies for what they are: big budget popcorn movies. And there is nothing wrong with that. This new trailer shows that the action will be even more insane this time around.

 

2) Ghost in the Shell

From all the trailers featured in this post, this movie is the closest to being released. And I can’t help it, but I think it looks awesome. The trailer really captures the spirit of the Anime in so many ways. Ofcourse I have no idea if the movie itself will do the same, but I do know that I am looking forward to it immensely. Keeping my fingers crossed for it.

 

1) Stranger Things Season 2

This was the trailer I was looking forward to the most, and it did not disappoint. For those of you who have yet to see this series, you can read my review for it right here . This was the best tv series I have seen last year, and this short teaser let me have goosebumps all over again. It will be very hard to even reach the same level as the incredible first season, but this teaser already has me excited that they might actually pull this off. The only downside? We have to wait until Halloween for the release.

 

So there you have them, my five picks for the best trailers of the Superbowl. Ofcourse there were numerous other trailers released. So let me know in the comments section below what your favorite trailers were. Thank you for reading, and see you at the next post!

ARQ, American/Canadian movie (2016)

I have very fond memories of the classic movie Groundhog Day. In that film, Bill Murray keeps reliving the same day, over and over again. It was a fantastic concept which also resulted in a very wonderful movie. Ever since Groundhog Day, timeloops have appeared in numerous movies and tv series. If done well, it can make for a great watch, for instance the recent animeseries Erased. Netflix has released a lot of great movies and shows this year, and they really seem to be on a roll. The sci-fi movie ARQ is Netflix’s attempt to create a new spin on the timeloop story.

ARQ takes place in a post apocalyptic Earth where something has gone drastically wrong with the world. The human race is the only species left, electricity is scarce, and the very air is hard to breath. Every day seems to be a struggle. One day the young man Renton wakes up in his house next to the girl he loves Hannah. Only seconds later a group of masked thugs break down the door to their appartment, and drag the bewildered couple straight down to the basement of the house. Renton has been working on a mysterious device called ARQ that is situated in the very same basement. He assumes this is what the masked men are after, and he desperately tries to find a way to escape. However, something goes horribly wrong and he gets shot while attempting to flee. But then something weird happens. Renton wakes up seconds later, right next to gis girlfriend. Caught in a timeloop from which there seems to be no escape, Renton and Hannah desperately try to find a way out. However time itself will be their greatest foe…

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This is one of those movies that just doesn’t do anything wrong, but also feels like you have seen this all before. Which is pretty funny, considering this is a movie about a timeloop. One of the things this movie does very well, is create a dark and tense atmosphere. The calamity that seems to have befallen Earth, never quite gets explained, and that somehow works for this film. It only adds to the sense of mystery that surrounds this movie. Robby Amell who plays Renton, and Rachael Taylor playing Hannah both do a pretty good job in their respective roles. The story of ARQ is one of the weaker points of the film. There are a lot of questions in the movie, that in the end will unfortunately not all be answered. Sometimes that works, as in the aforementioned disaster that devastated the Earth. But too many things are left wide open, and will leave you with a bit of a hangover at the end of the film.

That said, this is not a bad film. If you like scifi thrillers with a bit of a darker edge, there is enough to enjoy in this movie. Unfortunately though, as too many things are left unresolved, it will leave you wondering why you have invested all your precious time in it. And not even a timeloop can change that fact….

I give ARQ a 6 out of 10 score.

Bokurano, Anime tv series (2007)

“Your eyes can deceive you, don’t trust them”. This quote from the famous Jedi Knight Obi Wan Kenobi, can be applied to a lot of things. Take Anime for example. With the enormous amount of shows on offer, there are definitely going to be series that might on the surface look like another familiair or even classic show. It might even seem that it would try to cash in on the succes of such a show, instead of being original. However, that this might not always be the case, and that sometimes you just need to look a bit further, is definitely proven by the anime Bokurano.

It is summer vacation when a group of 15 children go to the beach in order to enjoy themselves. Not before long they discover a strange and mysterious cave, where they meet a man called Kokopelli. He tells them that he is a designer of videogames, and that he is currently working on his latest game. In it, a giant robot will take the role as defender of the Earth, against 15 other enemy robots that will appear. Kokopelli asks the children if they might be interested in testing the game. All they have to do is place their hands on a device, and with that they sign the contract as exclusive gametesters. Ofcourse thinking this is a truly awesome chance, they are more than happy to agree. Soon after though, they discover that this “game” is the real thing, and they become locked in a struggle for the very survival of Earth….and themselves….

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When Bokurano first started, I found it to have more than a striking resemblance to a certain classic animeseries called Neon Genesis Evangelion. However as the series progresses, it became something completely different indeed. This is without a doubt one of the darkest animeshows I have seen to date. Without spoiling things, let me just say that the stakes in this series are very high, and that you at times might not believe what these young children are put through. The cast of characters is awesome, but besides that being one of the shows greatest strengths, it is also one of it’s greatest weaknesses. Because the cast of characters is so large, it is at times hard to keep track of who everyone is. Stick with it though, because that definitely improves with each episode. The mecha in this show are pretty oldschool, and not as sleek as for instance the robots in a series like Gundam Wing. These are giant lumbering behemoths, as shown in the picture above, where the ground shakes with every step they take.

Speaking of oldschool, the animation of this series has a bit of a classic feel to it. As I highly enjoy the classic Animeseries such as Macross and Starblazers, I found this only added to the dark tone of this series. The opening music is one of those songs that pretty much will stick around in your head all day after you hear it. I have included it here for your listening pleasure (and to make sure it will stick around in your head as well). All kidding aside, this series will not be for everyone. It’s dark tones, and sometimes truly depressing episodes, will not be enjoyed by people who at least would like to have a few bright points in a show. That said, overall I liked this series. It certainly had a few episodes where the pace slowed down a bit, but this also served to shed a good background on some of the characters. Before I give the final grade, I want to thank Karandi from 100wordanime , who recommended this series in the first place. If you have not yet discovered her amazing blog, do so. It is truly awesome!

I give Bokurano a 8 out 10 score.