Tag Archives: Tv series

The Expanse season 1, American/Canadian tv series (2015)

There was a time when science fiction on television was very popular, and there were a lot of tv series to choose from. Babylon 5, Stargate Sg-1, Farscape, Battlestar Galactica, Andromeda, are just a few examples of these shows that offered truly amazing future visions. But it seems that television these days had it’s focus on different things, and it is somewhat harder for sci-fi fans to get their fix. A few years ago I came across a novel called Leviathan Wakes written by James S.A. Correy. It was the start of a fantastic new science fiction saga called the Expanse, and has since then been followed up by 4 other books and a couple of novellas. (You can find a review for the second part in the series right here). To my absolute delight I learned that the novels now have been turned into a television series, but at the same time it filled me with dread. Turning books into movies or tv shows is always a risky business. So the question is: is the Expanse tv series any good? Well I can answer with a resounding: Hell yeah it is!

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Dude, seriously you need a haircut.

The Expanse takes place roughly 200 years into the future. The solar system is fully colonised and there are three major factions, Earth,Mars and the Belt, that have an uneasy peace between them. On a space station in the Asteroid Belt, police detective Miller is assigned a case to find a missing daughter of a wealthy businessman. Elsewhere, James Holden, the executive officer of the icehauler Canterbury is involved in a tragic incident. It soon becomes apparent that this incident is one of the first steps to destabilize the three factions and bring them to an all out war. But how exactly does the missing daughter fit into all this? Eventually the paths of Miller and Holden come together and they are about to uncover a very sinister conspiracy. A conspiracy that threatens the entire human race…..

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Man, lighten up. You are in a truly terrific show. At least put on a smile.

I’m going to make a pretty bold statement here by saying that the Expanse is one of the best science fiction series that I have seen in years. I was already a huge fan of the novels, and I can only say that this series really respects it’s source material. This first season of 10 episodes follows the story of the first part of Leviathan Wakes. One of the strongest points of this show is the story and the many different layers it contains. It has elements of politics, conspiracies, spacebattles and even horror all blended together in a truly amazing and wonderful script. It certainly isn’t a tale that was put together overnight, but really is very well written and has many surprises in store that will both delight and shock you. The visuals are also outstanding, both in terms of special effects, but also in costumes and setsdesigns. Everything looks really convincing, and this all adds to creating a very believable science fiction setting.

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Well, I did say that this series also contained some horror elements right?

But what is a world without memorable characters, and the Expanse also succeeds in creating those. Detective Miller played by veteran actor Thomas Jane, can almost be described as a kind of film noir character you would come across in old black and white movies. I love the fact that Miller also definitely has his flaws, and this creates a person that is very human and who you can relate to. The other main character, James Holden, who is portrayed by actor Steven Strait, is someone who tries to do the right thing, but eventually gets in way over his head because of this. It creates some great scenes between him and his crew, who don’t always agree with his decisions. There are also a lot of other supporting characters, and it would go too far to describe them all in this review. Suffice it to say though, that the cast for this show is truly wonderful and another very good reason to start watching this.

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Yep, what would the human race be without some big guns. 

Are there also negative things to mention? Well, honestly I have been wracking my brain for an answer to that question, but I would be hardpressed to find them. If I were to name one, it might be that the story is pretty complex and certainly not always the easiest to follow. This is not one of those shows you can watch while also texting with your best friend. But I never do that anyway, so I don’t really see this as a weak point. It is very nice to finally have a great science fiction series back on the small screen. The third season for this show was just announced, so there is luckily plenty more to come. For everyone that loves intelligent science fiction storytelling, I can’t recommend this series enough. And while you are at it, you might also want to try the novels that this show is based on. I’m almost certain that you will not be disappointed by this, but hey I could be wrong of course.

I give The Expanse season 1 a 9 out of 10 score.

 

 

 

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Bad Guys, Korean Drama Series (2014)

I love watching Korean dramaseries, but for some reason I am always running behind with reviews for these. It usually takes me a bit of time to finish them too, and that is not because I don’t enjoy them. On the contrary I absolutely love them, but as always there are only so many hours in a day, and you can only watch one thing at a time. For people who might be unfamiliair with Korean dramas let me give a small introduction for you. (I have done this before so feel free to skip this part and continue to read the next paragraph). Still here? Okay then. Korean dramaseries are tv series that usually contain around 20 episodes and cover a wide range of topics. Romance, historical period pieces, crime, even science fiction is entering the range of titles on offer. The great thing is that these are selfcontained stories, so there is never the risk of a series getting cancelled and leaving unfinished threads. Although there are a few exceptions of dramas getting a second season if it is succesful. One of these is the 2014 crimedrama Bad Guys.

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Well, I did warn you that this series could get bloody right?

In Bad Guys we meet up with detective Oh Gu-tak who has a nickname: Mad Dog. He certainly seems to live up to his reputation as he doesn’t shy away from using pretty excessive measures to catch criminals. But you can’t really blame him as years back his only daughter was murdered by a brutal serial killer. Since then he has been living with guilt and certainly isn’t the same man that he used to be. When a series of new murders take place in his district, Oh Gu-tak comes up with an unorthodox plan to capture the killer. He enlists the help of three dangerous criminals that are currently residing in prison. One is a psychopath and serial killer himself, the other a former mob boss, and the final member of Oh Gu-tak’s new crimefighting squad is a hired hit-man that never made a mistake, but eventually turned himself in. The person who eventually ends up catching the criminal, will get his sentence reduced. Things are not as easy as it seems though. Everyone has a very hard time getting along, but there also seems to be a tie that connects these four people together. A tie rooted in a very dark past and that might have very dire consequences…..

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He did not get the nickname Mad Dog for nothing.

This crimedrama is a very dark and bloody show, and honestly that is how I like them. Where the series at first starts off as a show that seems to focus itself on catching a different criminal in each episode, we soon get a storyline that branches out and carries on throughout the course of the series. The plot is very clever and it’s nice to continually try to find new pieces of the story and figure out what is going on.  It also contains quite a bit of action, featuring carchases and impressive fight scenes that have a blockbuster movie quality to them. This being a crime story it contains some very dark material at times, and there are a few brutal scenes, but it never goes too far or becomes to explicit to watch.

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I am not kidding, this guy wears this expression the entire series. Even his hair seems to agree with him.

The real highlight of this show however are the actors. The level of performances that are given in this show are really off the charts, and truly worth the watch. Detective Oh Gu-tak is played by Kim Sang-joong and he is very impressive to say the least. This is the first time I have seem him in a show or movie, but the way he portrays this quite frankly frightening character is astonishing. His grief and trauma over the death of his daughter really come to the fore in his performance and makes him so fascinating to watch. Ma Dong-seok who people might recognise from Train to Busan, plays the former mobster Pak Un-seol. His character provides some of the much needed comic relief in what is otherwise a very dark series. He gives another solid performance and certainly became one of my favorite characters of the show.

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You would almost think that this guy is a vampire…..

The most human character and the one with the highest level of charisma is the hired hit-man Jung Tae-soo. He is pretty much the only one that really struggles with the deeds that he has done, and his background story is the one that got to me the most. Ofcourse I am not going to spoil things for you, but suffice it to say that it’s pretty touching. The last member of the band of misfits is psychopath Lee Jung-moon, played by Park Hae-jin. Quite frankly this guy gave me the creeps. His continually stoic expression throughout the series seriously was unnerving, but it was a terrific and very chilling role. We also have a female police detective called Yoo Mi-young played by Kang Ye-won. Quite frankly she is the only one that I did not really like in this series. I found her character to be pretty boring and not really fitting the rest of the high caliber acting that was done in this series.

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This is the Korean version of Spanish bullfighting.

This 11 episode series was a delight to watch. With the exception of a few moments in later episodes, this was a well paced series that had a really interesting plot, solid performances and a great atmosphere. Bad Guys is getting a second season, but sadly with an entirely different cast of characters. Which I think is a real shame as the cast for this show was simply put amazing. If you like crime dramas or serial killer stories and have yet to experience your first Korean dramaseries, this might be your perfect way to start. If you are looking for a way to watch this drama legally and for free you can check out the website Viki. This series together with scores of others can be found there in high quality, and there is a drama on that site for everyone.

I give Bad Guys a 8 out of 10 score.

Corpse Princess, Anime tv series (2008/2009)

There is this old saying that there is one thing that is certain in life: death and taxes. While I don’t really care about taxes, I do care about not dying any time soon. I don’t consider myself to be very old yet (although some people might argue with that), but if I were to die now, I would certainly have a few regrets. There are still a lot of things that are on my bucket list and that I haven’t yet been able to do. Most of these are because of not having enough time, others are simply because I haven’t yet gathered up enough courage to do some of those things. And ofcourse I am being really cryptic here, but hey a guy has got to have a couple of secrets in his life right? Why all this talk about death in this post? Could I not find something more cheerful to talk to you about? Well I probably could have, but death and regret has everything to do with Corpse Princess, the Animeseries I am about to review.

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The new student at school really was not working out.

Corpse Princess, or Shikabane Hime as it is also known, is a 25 episode horror/action anime series. Makina Hoshimura was just a normal girl until she and her family were brutally murdered. But Makina did not die. At least not in the normal way that everyone is used to. No, she returned as a living Shikabane Hime (a Corpse Princess) and has one sole mission on her mind: to avenge the death of her family. In this series when a person dies but still has intense regrets, he or she returns as a Shikabane. The Shikabane at first look like the normal persons they were in real life, but eventually turn into horrible monsters that prey on the living. The Kougon Cult has been created to protect normal humans from these horrible creatures, using the Shikabane Hime as their weapons. After a Shikabane Hime has killed exactly 108 Shikabane, they are granted peace and allowed to enter heaven. Makina, armed with dual Mac-11 submachine guns, and assisted by Keisei Tagami a buddhist monk from the Kougon Cult, soon sets out on the path for revenge. But it will not be an easy task, especially since the Shikabane group known as The Seven Stars have a horrible plan in store for humanity. A plan that may very well end every single living human being…

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Well, I did mention there were monsters in this anime right? 

Corpse Princess was both a pleasant and a very unpleasant surprise. Now, I know this sounds very vague, but bear with me as I will explain soon enough. The thing that surprised me the most in this series was the storyline. I had expected this to be a pretty generic action packed horror series, but it was actually the story itself that I found to be the highlight. This anime has a lot of underlying subplots and a rich and well thought out worldbuilding concept, that I haven’t seen in quite a while. The Kougon Cult and their many rules and regulations slowly show their secrets throughout the episodes, and it was a delight and sometimes shock to discover them. This anime first starts off with Makina encountering the monster of the week, and dealing with it, but eventually turns into a rich and powerful storyline that gets better with every episode. This being a horrorseries, there are certainly enough gory moments in it that might turn off some viewers, though it never became the main focus of the show.

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Yes, I know this stance looks incredibly cool. 

The anime also has a pretty large cast of characters. Throughout the series more and more are added, and at times it became hard to keep track of everyone. Makina, being the main character, certainly was one of the best attractions the series had on offer. She is just seriously bad ass, can take a hell of a beating, but also has a humanity to her that is hardly found in someone who is, well, basically dead. Keisei the contracted monk assigned to Makina, is a pretty funny character at times. While he can certainly hold his own in a fight, he also has a pretty lecherous side to him, that provided some great comic relief. Another character that becomes very important in the series is a young boy who Keisei took in once as an orphan, called Ouri Kagami. He inadvertently stumbles across Makina one night, and soon becomes involved in the daily struggles that she faces. On the villain side there is a great character called Akasha Shishido, but to actually tell who he is, would spoil things for you. Suffice it to say that although he is evil, you really feel for him as well, and that’s what made him so fascinating.

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Some people take the phrase “I’ve got my eyes on you” a bit to literally.

Corpse Princess certainly also had a few fanservice moments. There were a couple of girls that had breast sizes that seemed to defy the rules of basic anatomy, but it luckily never became as bad as for instance in the anime Highschool of the Dead. Now in the beginning of my review I also told of an unpleasant surprise and that was unfortunately the final episode of this anime. Seriously, what were they thinking? It just….ends. There is no resolution, it just ends in the middle of a fight, and the viewers are left to wonder how it will turn out. Now, after having invested time in a series that ran for 25 episodes I certainly felt cheated. As such, it also becomes hard to recommend a series in this way. It definitely was a terrific watch, with plenty of action, horror and a great story. But without a real resolution to things, you do wonder what the point is in watching this. My score for this just had to reflect that. If the final episode had handled things better, I would have graded this much higher. A real shame, but sometimes in life you are just left with regrets. Now….where did I hear that before?

I give Corpse Princess a 7 out of 10 score.

Blog Update

Maybe a few of you have noticed, but the past few days I have been a little bit less active on my own blog, and commenting on posts from your blogs. Now, no worries, my blog is not going to shut down or anything like that. I have just been a bit busier than usual, (and a bit more stressful lol), as these are the final days before my three week vacation from work. As such I have a lot of things I need to finish before I can finally go on my break. This does mean that in the upcoming days I will in all likelyhood miss out on a few posts from you, for which I apologise in advance. The good news is that after the upcoming weekend I will have a lot more time on my hands. So I thought I would share some things that will be coming up in the next few weeks.

Upcoming Reviews

Movies

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I have seen quite a number of movies that I haven’t been able to write a review for yet. As you have come to expect from me, these movies are all from very different genres. Reviews that will be coming up are: Kong:Skull Island, The Wailing, Lethal Weapon 2, A Company Man, War for the Planet of the Apes, Don’t Breathe to name but a few.

Anime

imageI am really running behind on watching anime, something I hope to catch up with in my upcoming vacation. I am currently in the middle of watching Corpse Princess, which so far has proven itself to be highly entertaining. After that I am really looking forward to Ergo Proxy, and finishing Black Bullet, which is also a very interesting series. You can expect reviews from all these three shows, and probably a few others that I just need to find time for.

Boardgames

imageTwo boardgames that I have been dying to try out, are the ones that are pictured above. Scythe especially has been gathering dust on my shelf for ages now,and hopefully my vacation will turn that around. Salt Lands is one of my newer purchases and looks like awesome fun, especially since it’s setting is in a Mad Max type of wasteland. Hopefully both games will hit the table soon, and when they do you can expect reviews for both of them.

Books and tv series

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Ofcourse I can’t forget books and tv series here. I am currently reading the art and making of Alien Covenant, a beautifully illustrated book about the latest Alien movie. Speaking of Covenant, the fantasy epic The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever I finally plan to finish in the coming weeks as well. It is a massive 1100 page epic fantasy novel, which has been an amazing read so far. As far as television series go, the Korean drama Bad Guys I have almost finished and it has been a blast. Next on my to watch list is the spinoff series of The Walking Dead: Fear the Walking Dead, that cronicles the beginning of the zombie outbreak. All these and more will be reviewed in the coming weeks.

Final Thoughts

Now, as mentioned the coming days will definitely be very busy. In the weekend I will be hosting an Asian movie festival at my own home for my parents. It is a lot of fun to do, but also will need some planning from my part (that is selecting the movies and buying the food to get us through the weekend lol). And then there is ofcourse my work, which already is stressful to begin with, not only for these final few days. I will try and keep up with your blogs as best I can, but if I miss the occasional post, please do not bite my head off. I hope there are some things in this update that you are looking forward to. As always thank you for reading, and see you at the next post!

Special Features Presents: Stranger Things season 2 trailer.

Last year, Netflix released a television series that was so incredibly briljant, that I finished it twice in one weekend. Yes, I am not kidding. The series was an homage to everything 80’s and managed to create an atmosphere that I had not felt since movies like E.T. or Stand by me. That series was called Stranger Things and it was everything that an 80’s junkie like me could have dreamed of. Stranger Things was simply perfect, and it had only one negative point to it as far as I was concerned: it only had 8 episodes. Being such a huge succes, it would have been erm strange, if a second season would not have been announced. Ofcourse it was, and since then I have been eagerly awaiting news or the first images of the second series. Besides a very short 15 second  teaser, it all was deceptively quiet. Until now….

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When there is something strange, in your neighbourhood, who are you going to call? Erm..not them….

This morning I woke up, browsed through the YouTube video’s and then my eyes fell upon the Stranger Things season 2 thriller trailer. With a pounding heart, I clicked on the play button……and had a stupid grin on my face until it finished. I just had to share this with you guys. Unless I am mistaking this second season is going to be even more epic than the first. All of our favorite characters return, and oh man that wonderful 80’s vibe, you just can’t beat that! We still have to wait a few months for it’s final release, but until that time we can watch this trailer again….and again….and again! Hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. And if you haven’t yet seen the first season, go and watch it now. It is utterly amazing, and certainly the best tv series that Netflix has made so far.

Party of Five season 1, American tv series (1994/1995)

Teenage highschool dramaseries have been gracing television screens for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up I loved watching shows like Beverly Hills 90210, and yes I know how sappy those series at times can be. But I don’t know, they were just easy to watch, and had subjects in them that pretty much everyone who went to school can relate to in one way or another. Now that I am older it’s sometimes nice to revisit those old series. Call it a trip down memorylane or, god forbid, a midlife crisis, but some of those shows are still a lot of fun. There was a series that has always stood out amongst all of them though. And to simply call it yet another teenage drama is really selling it short. Because Party of Five, the show that I am talking about, is really so much more than that.

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Yeah, now you can still laugh, it won’t be long before someone will chase you with a knife.

Party of Five deals with five siblings living together in a house, after the tragic death of their parents in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. Charlie Salinger is the older brother, and pretty much in charge of everything, but that certainly isn’t an easy task. Charlie is not one of the most responsible people of the world, but he tries to do his best in a very difficult situation. Than there is Bailey, the younger brother who always tries to do the right thing, even at the cost of himself sometimes. Julia Salinger is the older sister, who can be a bit rebellious at times, but also has a heart of gold. And then there is Claudia, the youngest sister, who is trying to become one of the best violin players of the world. And to complete the party of five we have baby brother Owen, who everyone adores, but ofcourse is a handful. The first season deals with all of them coming to grips with the hard life after the death of their parents, and getting along with each other.

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Is it really that hard to believe that I was in Lost and she was in Scream? 

Now, I can already see the frowns starting to pop up all over on your heads. Yes, I know this sounds like a very sad story, and how this is probably one of those seriously tearjerking series. But you could not be more wrong. Party of Five was once described as “The best show you are not watching”. Throughout it’s runtime the series always struggled to stay on the air because of failing ratings. And that was mainly because this was not your typical teenage show. For one thing the acting was absolutely amazing. Matthew Fox, who most of you might know from the succesful television series Lost, plays the role of Charlie. And he does that in an incredible way. Charlie is a character that has really got some serious flaws. You may even hate him at times, but it makes him all the more human, and you really can feel for him at so many points throughout the show.

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You don’t have to argue about it: I really WAS in Scream. 

But the rest of the cast is amazing as well. Bailey, played by Scott Wolf is a character that has a natural charisma, and one that I myself could understand and relate to the most. He always tries to see the best in people, and goes out of his way to help them, but usually ends up being disappointed because of that. Scott has a very natural and believable way of acting, which helps you like the character even more. Julia is played by a young Neve Campbell, and she was always an incredible actress right from the start. It’s honestly pretty sad that her career never took off as much, as was believed at the time. Finally Claudia, played by Lacey Chabert, is just one of those characters that you can’t help but fall in love with. She has an innocence to her, and not a bad bone in her body, even though she can sometimes really be a brat. But you pretty much forgive her for acting up like that at times.

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That boat behind us really looks out of place. 

Throughout it’s first season run, the Salingers have to deal with a lot of issues and emotions. There are laughs, tears, and scary moments as well, all blended together in a fantastic mix. The stories in pretty much all of the episodes are written very well, and deal with many more things than only teenage romances. And that was one of the show’s greatest strengths. There are some very mature themes in the show, that were there right from the start of this series. Yes, there are some very heavy moments in Party of Five as well, not going to lie to you there, but it never becomes to oppressive. Certainly not in this first season, which also had some very good humor in it too. I can’t recommend Party of Five enough. If you have never seen this show, try it out, and I dare you not to bingewatch it after seeing five minutes of it. And for those of you that have seen it, it’s great to revisit it for a bit of nostalgia, or a midlife crisis. Whatever takes your fancy.

I give Party of Five season 1 a 9 out of 10 score.

Hundred, Anime tv series (2016)

I guess everyone can relate to the fact that for every good anime series that is out there, there is always a crappy counterpart as well. A series that you want to stop watching altogether, but still continue with anyway because you at least want to see how it ends. I usually watch Animeseries two at a time (though recently that has expanded to at least five or six simultaneously). At the same time that I was watching the beautiful series Yuri on Ice, I was watching this one as well. To say these series could not be more different from each other, is probably an understatement. But not only in terms of story, but also in terms of quality. Because wow, this series was seriously bad, even though it also had it’s moments. But let’s first see what is going on in this anime, before I start tearing it down.

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I guess I could make some kind of comment about this picture, but I am choosing not to.

In Hundred it’s that time again where the Earth is besieged by giant monsters, and a handful of brave souls have to counter the beasts in order to save the world. The monsters in this anime are called Savages. Nobody quite knows where they came from, but it is enough to know that they appeared out of nowhere and started laying waste to the Earth. But, oh joy of joys, there is a weapon that can counter these mysterious beings known as Hundred. This weapon is wielded by the so called Slayers, specialised men and women who are able to use the Hundred in a variety of ways. Hayato Kisaragi is one of the newest recruits that has enrolled in the marine academy ship Little Garden. But as everyone will soon find out, he is no ordinary recruit. And just who is his strange roommate Emile Crossford that seems to know him from somewhere? All these mysteries and more will be solved, well at least if Hayato can survive a duel that he has just been challenged to by the most powerful Slayer onboard: Claire Harvey. With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, the lives of these three entirely different characters will soon be threatened like never before….

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There he is, the innocent pervert Hayato Kisaragi.

Ooohhhh…..this sounds exciting doesn’t it? Mysterious weapons, cool monsters, interesting characters…..erm, wait that last one isn’t correct, and I will soon get to that. In case you haven’t yet noticed this has got to be one of the most sarcastic reviews that I have written since starting this blog. Because quite honestly I can’t believe how the creators of this series have managed to turn this pretty cool concept into a such a total mess. Trust me on this, there are some things that I really did like. The weapon, Hundred, for instance is seriously awesome. Each Slayer wields the weapon in a different way, and as such it can turn into all kinds of different forms. Huge energy weapons, chains, even entire armours are all things Hundred is able to change into. Some of the fights between the Savages and Slayers are very cool to watch, and even the animationstyle is not bad either.

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Emile Crossford the only character that was somewhat fun, shows his anger at being cast in this anime.

Where this series fails however is in it’s characters and the very immature boobjokes, that seem to be a part of pretty much every single episode. Yes you read that correctly: boobjokes. Jokes about boobs, to turn it around. In almost every episode we see main character Hayato accidentally fall over a woman and grab her breasts. If this would happen a single time, I could overlook it. But as this became a trademark of the series it quickly became very annoying to say the least. In one of the later episodes, we even spent about 5 minutes of an episode where Hayato is being urged by other girls to touch someone’s boobs. Seriously….what the f….no let’s not use that language here. The characters themselves also are almost complete airheads, with maybe the exception of Emile Crossford the only character that at least had somewhat interesting traits.

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Yep, that is a Savage, though technically it isn’t. Nope, not going to tell you why not, no spoilers.

To say that this series was a major disappointment, is putting it mildly. And it really is a shame, because the final 2 episodes of the series showed a glimmer of what the series could have been. But that was simply too little, too late. With some cool concepts, and a story that even though not very original, wasn’t overly bad either, this animeseries definitely could have been very good. Because of the shallow characters, and very childish pranks this series apparently found more important to showcase, we are unfortunately left with a very bad animeseries. And one that I think is best avoided no matter how much you like giant aliens crushing puny humans. Well, luckily I am already investing my time in two new animeseries that so far are well worth it. Rest assured that reviews for these will follow, but the titles for these I will keep secret for now. Hey, there has to be a little mystery at some point right? Meanwhile, you can enjoy this gem of a series. (Ahem)

I give Hundred a 3 out of 10 score.

 

Yuri on Ice, Anime tv series (2016)

Don’t believe the hype is a popular saying that seems to be correct in quite a few cases. If I remember correctly this line dates back to a Public Enemy song from the 80’s. It pretty much means that sometimes a film or show gets so much attention, that it is almost impossible to ignore, much less dislike it. Last year the animeseries Yuri on Ice exploded all over the blogging community and beyond. Pretty much every animeblog that I followed featured a post about it, some even had multiple posts, saying how good it was. I usually get very cautious when I see something like that happening. For one thing, the theme for the series did not appeal to me. What could be so much fun about a series that dealt with figure skating? For another I have seen so many examples of movies or tv series that got hyped but ended up being a major disappointment, that I usually try to avoid those.

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There is such a thing as getting over excited….

 

But in the end, my curiosity got the better of me, and I finally decided to give it a go. And I was spellbound by it….pretty much right from the moment when the opening tune of the series started playing I was hooked on this. So I guess in some cases you simply do have to believe the hype. Now when a series is loved by this many people, there is a certain pressure to do justice by it. I know a few of you have been saying they were really looking forward to this review. So to keep it in competitive iceskating terms, let’s see if I can bring in the gold medal by writing a good post for this one. This series definitely deserves it…..and really….no pressure, at all.

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It can really be lonely on the ice, but this is taking things to a whole new level 

Yuri on Ice tells the story of the 23 year old Japanese figure skater Yuri Katsuki. Yuri has pretty much decided to put his entire career on hold after a defeat in the Grand Prix final. He is unsure of what to do next, but decides to head back to his hometown to figure out his next move. While visiting with one of his childhood friends called Yuko, Yuri performs for her at a local ice skating rink. The routine he shows her is a perfect copy of the one from his idol the Russian figure skating champion Victor Nikiforov. To Yuri’s surprise the footage from his performance was secretly filmed, and made it’s way over to the internet. And then the impossible really happens: Victor shows up with an offer to become his coach. Will Yuri be able to revive his career with Victor’s help? With a fierce competition ahead, and rivals that lurk around every corner, the answer to that is by no means certain. Especially when there is another figure skater that ironically is also called Yuri, who is hellbent on stopping him from reaching the gold…..

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Really….you should take a breathmint, I am not kidding here. 

Now those of you that are not familiar with this series (and I doubt that there are many amongst you that are not), I can probably already see frowning. After reading the premise for this, you might be asking the same question that I did: How on Earth can this be exciting? Let me try to explain to you what makes this series so special. At the heart of this there is the relationship that develops between Yuri and Victor. Yes, these guys are both male, and yes they develop a bond that is definitely more than a simple friendship. Even though I am straight myself, I have never had any problems watching a relationship develop between two males. Really, what would the problem be? Unfortunately we are currently living in a society that does seem at times to take offense at that. To them I say: your loss! The heartwarming scenes that occur between Victor and Yuri are the absolute highlights of this series. It is all done in a very subtle and tasteful manner, and it is completely impossible not to smile when these scenes occur.

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I used to do this as well when I was a kid and did not want to go to sleep. 

Speaking of highlights the figure skating animation sequences for this series are absolutely amazing. The animation is fluid, the accompanying music breathtaking, and it all deserves multiple rewatches to take it all in. It is also hard not to get caught up in all the excitement, especially during the later episodes, when the real competitions start. At times I felt like I was watching the Eurovision Song Festival, as the anime manages to create an atmosphere that just urges you to cheer for Yuri when he is about to perform. This series is all about creating a feel good atmosphere, and in that it succeeds very, very well. The characters are diverse, likeable, but also have their flaws just like real life human beings. And that for me is what makes this anime so amazing. At times I forgot that I was even watching an animated show.

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You half expect a bull to come skating up the ice, all that is missing is the matador red cape. 

Were there no negative things to this series? Well, one might argue about a few small fanservice moments that were not necessary in my opinion. Also at times we get a few pretty abrupt changes in tone, turning it into a slapstick comedy. But these scenes were also part of it’s charm, and at times reminded me of Your lie in April. These are very minor issues however for a series that has been an absolute joy to watch. If for some reason you are feeling down on a certain day, I recommend watching this show. I guarantee that it will help you lift your spirits. If after all this you are still not convinced that this show is worth the watch, just try out the first episode. If you are not hooked after watching that, you probably won’t be. But I honestly don’t see that happening. This series is definitely a gold medal winner.

I give Yuri on Ice a 9 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.

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!