Sunday, February 7, 2016

AgK 22: Super Bowl Sister

Akame ga Kill episode 22 review


So Akame kills Kurome. That's a way of making the long story short. In what was a big letdown from the previous episode, we see Kurome's tragic end. Besides the fact that I hate Akame since she's been the most disappointing character perhaps ever, Kurome had my full sympathy, even before the flashbacks. I rooted for Kurome the whole way in this episode, hoping against hope that she would survive. But she didn't.

And that's where Akame ga Kill falls short. This series could have provided some really good plot twists. Imagine what would have happened had, say, Kurome killed Akame? Or, even better, Kurome turns to the good side and reconciles with her sister? But sadly Akame ga Kill has no interesting plot twists, just generic battles and lots of character deaths. The question is, who will die in the final two episodes? I would assume that's enough time for 4 deaths max. How many characters will make it?

Character of the episode: Kurome

Episode rating (out of four stars): **½

Friday, February 5, 2016

#FlashbackFriday: Sailor Moon episodes 1-2 review

The first two episodes of Sailor Moon, like Cardcaptor Sakura, are standard shoujo fare: the main character is discovered by a cute animal. The animal gives the main character special powers. The main character transforms into a heroine, and she fights off bad guys who are taking control of innocent humans and turning them bad. As a result, there's no need to review these episodes, but rather my attention is turned to the new dub.

So far, we haven't met many of the characters, only a few main ones: Usagi, Mamoru & Luna. Usagi has Orihime's voice, and Luna has Rukia's voice. Thus for Bleach fans it can be quite disorienting to listen to the two have conversations. Luna is in fact "The Full Monty," or in this case, the full Rukia. There isn't much to distinguish the two voices. Thus the bedroom scene between Usagi and Luna is almost identical to said scene in Bleach's Episode 1. And Luna is just way too much like Rukia for my liking.

Usagi isn't "The Full Monty," though. She does show signs of being like Orihime, but she does have some range to distinguish herself from the Bleach character. She sounds pretty accurate as Usagi, especially in the crybaby scenes, though as Sailor Moon she doesn't sound quite as on. But overall, I'd say Stephanie Sheh is very good in Usagi's role, while Michelle Ruff is good as Luna, but too much like Rukia for my ears. Also, Mamoru sounds very good, his voice actor fits the role fine.

Episode 1 rating (out of four stars): **½
Episode 2 rating (out of four stars): **½

Thursday, February 4, 2016

#ThrowbackThursday: Cardcaptor Sakura episodes 1-2 review

It's #ThrowbackThursday here at Anime Bowl! (Should I call it the Anime Bowl, or just Anime Bowl?) And here we have the Blu-ray for Cardcaptor Sakura. Episodes 1 and 2 are the normal fare for an anime series; in Episode 1 Sakura Kinomoto accidentally releases all the Clow Cards out into the world by opening up the Clow Book. Episode 2 features her capturing the Shadow card. But that isn't what I'm here to talk about.

Apparently there is another English dub floating out there. It is this mysterious English dub, and not the Nelvana dub, that is featured on the Cardcaptor Sakura Blu-ray. Meaning, for all of us old anime fans who want to recapture a little piece of our childhood, we are given the shaft by NIS America. This is not the comical and innocent dub that we grew up with. No, instead, this is equivalent to a Chinese knockoff dub. The voice actors are definitely none of the people you will see at conventions. The voice acting is, to put it nicely, terrible. I could only make it through 7 or so minutes before I had to bail and go to subtitles and the Japanese language.

This fact was not given to me before I bought it, and I guess that's what you call "buyer beware." The original dub, with all its flaws, was still better than the one we got on the Blu-rays. Let's not forget the fact that even in the Blu-rays, the screen size is still "cathode ray tube size." Very much like Dragon Ball Z Kai, it's letter boxed horizontally. So I am not too pleased with NIS America. I am especially not very pleased when you add the fact that I paid $200 for this. I feel cheated. There's nothing I can do now, though.

The first two episodes are standard fare; above-average quality and fun stuff. But the product I purchased is not what I hoped to get, and it's quite disappointing. I expect better, especially in today's day and age.

Episode 1 rating (out of four stars): ***
Episode 2 rating (out of four stars): **½
Blu-ray rating (out of four stars): *

Parasyte 14: With A Little Help From My Friends

Parasyte episode 14 review


Shinichi goes back to get help from Uda, his old pal with the jaw of a Parasyte. He goes and hunts down the private investigator, and they do find him and get him quite easily, way too conveniently for my liking. Then we skip right over the explanation of what's going on, to Migi and the newly named "Joe" threatening the investigator. It seems as if Migi is getting more of a mind of his own and less controlled by Shinichi.

Then we see Ryoko Tamiya, who now has a baby, and a very long filibuster of a college class about the meaning of altruism. She then confronts Shinichi on the roof of the building, and uses the baby as a shield. Two girls spot Ryoko using the baby as a shield, and they're just as shocked as you'd think. But now hopefully we get a showdown between Ryoko and Shinichi, and not yet another lull where conflict is put off further.

Overall, an average episode with not much to right home about.

Episode rating (out of four stars): **

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Troubled Life of Miss Kotoura episodes 1-2 review

The Troubled Life of Miss Kotoura, also known as Kotoura-san, starts out with about seven minutes of heart-wrenching background footage of Haruka Kotoura's life as a child. Much like Sabrina of Pokemon fame, she has ESP powers, and these powers have caused her nothing but trouble. Anytime someone speaks to her, she reads their mind and says what they are thinking. As a result, she has revealed girls' crushes on boys and even her own parents' love affairs outside their marriage. Her mother has taken her to every doctor for help, and it hasn't helped. So we get a brutal scene where her mother literally abandons her and pushes her away. It's actually a very effective sequence of events. Unlike Michiko & Hatchin's first episode, where a similarly sad sequence occurs, Kotoura-san never seems over the top or campy. Instead, the correct feelings of sadness and heartbreak are delivered.

Flash forward now to current day, where Haruka has transferred to a new school. Most of the other kids don't like her, but one does: a boy named Manabe. It's actually quite touching why Manabe likes her, as it's a very Haruhi-esque situation. You know how Haruhi likes Kyon, but as she sings in her song, "I don't know why, but I chose you." That's the way this relationship works. Manabe doesn't have a reason at first for liking Haruka, he just does, and it's actually quite romantic. Of course, what would an anime be without some fanservice, and Manabe develops all kinds of dirty thoughts for Haruka, who having ESP powers can see through those thoughts, and thus have humorous reactions to him. But Haruka saves Manabe's life by reading the mind of a truck driver who ran a red light; she stops Manabe from crossing the road, his life is saved, and the two are now attached.

Episode 2 introduces new characters in Mifune and Muroto. Mifune is president of the ESP club, and as it's explained later, she wants to prove the existence of ESP because of her mother, who had ESP powers but no one believed her, and thus her mother committed suicide thanks to everyone hating her. So Mifune takes in Haruka and Manabe into the club, the latter tagging along for no good reason. She then has Haruka perform fortune telling where she hides Haruka under a cloak and has her sneak the mind-reads to her. This fails as Haruka can't see who she's reading, and thus wrong answers come out and a bunch of hilarity. Mifune later lets Haruka take over, and the crowd grows.

But later a girl named Moritani comes up to Haruka and asks for her fortune to be read. She gets angry at Haruka and threatens her, causing Haruka to vomit. She then begins bullying Haruka by writing "Vomitoura" everywhere. But Manabe stands up to Moritani, giving Haruka his support and telling Moritani to stop the bullying. And thus the friendship between Haruka and Manabe is strengthened.

Obviously this is simply the Cliffs Notes of the first 2 episodes; I don't want to write a book on this. What I am giving you is a brief description of these episodes and what basically goes down. And I found the first two episodes of Kotoura-san to be very good. The first episode delivered on the emotional hook, getting me invested in Haruka's well-being. The second episode delivered the humor to add to the drama. And thus I can say that the series, only 12 episodes long, has completed its first goal: to hook me as a viewer. Now it must follow up and deliver on its early promise.

Episode 1 rating (out of four stars): ***½
Episode 2 rating (out of four stars): ***

Anime Bowl Toonami Podcast - Episode 32

It's Episode 32 of our podcast, and we managed to survive the problems we had last week and have a big improvement in the quality of the podcast!

Intro: 0:00
Dragon Ball Z Kai: 0:56
Akame ga Kill: 4:02
Parasyte: 15:18
Samurai Champloo: 22:12
Naruto Shippuden: 25:55
One Piece: 29:10

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Review announcement

It's time to shake things up (in a good way) here on this blog! We are continuing the podcast rather than cancelling it, after this week's episode turned out pretty good and as a rebound from last week. Moreover, the blog is going to have a hard schedule for reviews which ought to make things easier on both me and you, my couple of readers. Not only that, but I'm going to be reviewing 3 anime series which I have on Blu-ray, and they are going to get specific days for their reviews. Here are the details:

Sunday: Akame ga Kill
Monday: Parasyte
Tuesday: Samurai Champloo
Wednesday: The Troubled Life of Miss Kotoura (2 episodes)
Thursday: Cardcaptor Sakura (2 episodes)
Friday: Sailor Moon (2 episodes)

Somewhere in between will of course be the podcast as well as possible liveblogs as we go along. I look forward to sharing my anime with you, and allowing you a feel for what I'm watching. In addition, there may be still reviews of The Familiar of Zero and Allison & Lillia, though those will not be penciled in. Be prepared for #ThrowbackThursday & #FlashbackFriday with old shows like Cardcaptor Sakura and Sailor Moon!