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Gantz-O Review

If aliens invaded, would you fight or hide? In October 2016, Kato decided fighting was the only way he was going to see his brother again.

Directing this 95-minute animation/drama/fantasy is Yasushi Kawamura.

Some of the voice cast is: Kaiji Tang as Masaru Kato, Laura Post as Reika Shimohira, Kyle McCarley as Joichiro Nishi, Todd Haberkorn as Yoshikazu Suzuki, Cristina Vee as Anzu Yamasaki, Doug Erholtz as Hachiro Oka and Cherami Leigh as Gantz Ball.

The last thing Kato remembers is getting stabbed on a subway platform. Now he's in a room with strangers staring at a big black orb called Gantz. Just as he's trying to get his bearings everyone is transported out of the room and they are suddenly fighting for their lives against things he's never seen before. They come to find out, Kato has been pulled into an interstellar fight for earth. Gantz pulls people into the fight after they die in real life and gives them the ability to stop the alien invasion. Only Gantz has set this fight up more like a video game. Players earn points as they fight to be used to upgrade weapons, bring dead players back into the game or for their freedom. 100 points and you can be released from the game and returned to your previous life with no memory of ever playing. All you have to do is live long enough to rack up the points...

We come to find out, the movie is based off the manga called Gantz (2000 - 2013), which was written by Hiroya Oku and has 37 volumes. Then a spin-off came out called Gantz-G (2015 - present) that was also written by Oku. Along with the manga to keep you entertained there's a 2 season anime called Gantz (2004), 2 live action films (Gantz 2011 & Gantz: Perfect Answer 2011). If that's not enough to fill your time then you can try and find the video game that was released for the PlayStation 2 called Gantz: The Game (2005), which was a third-person shooter.

For those that are familiar with the manga, the screenplay that Tsutomu Kuroiwa came up with covers the Osaka Arc. For those new to Gantz, the story, which takes place in Japan, covers an alien invasion that is fought by using humans that have died. Our main hero was stabbed to death on a train platform and then he wakes up in a room with strangers. A black orb called Gantz can bring the dead back to life and use them as players/fighters to fight off the invasion. If you die in the game... you die for good.

Now, this one is more sci-fi with some killer looking horror-ish moments. There's a Geisha woman around the beginning of the film that reminded me of the Silent Hill nurses for example. Watching it brings up a lot of questions that the film doesn't answer. Like where the monsters (invading aliens) come from, why the aliens are attacking us or how all this Gantz-ness came about in the first place. While there are more questions than answers, you get distracted from asking those question by all the killer eye candy that the film has to offer. Like the fight scenes, monsters and cool weapons.

I will say, even though I liked the movie, I didn't care for the ending. They went with the "wrap everything up in a nice neat bow" routine, which was disappointing to me. Had they cut the film just a few minutes earlier I would've been happier with it.

The playthrough was great! It opens with a fight scene and the pace doesn't really slow down from there. It's when you're watching the credits that all the questions come rushing to your brain and you're trying to fill in the blanks. Even with the story holes and not knowing exactly what the timetable is during the film... I've now watched it like 3 times. Yeah, it's that cool to watch and it was still just as cool during the re-watch because I was still finding things in the scenes that I hadn't caught the first time. I will warn everyone that things do get gory from time to time. Like limbs being shot off, or people get cut in half and they don't cut away from the scene, you get to see it all happen.

What makes the special effects look so great in this one is that it's a 3DCG film. The characters/monsters look great and everyone moves so smoothly. There's a lot of imagination used in this one. Between the monsters, weapons and fight scenes your eyes will be glued to the screen.

Unfortunately, with most book to screen projects, things are changed or left out because they can't figure out how to squeeze it in due to story or time restraints. After watching this one I've decided to check out the live action films and might check out the manga to see if I can get filled in on some of the stuff the movie left out.

Overall, it's more of a sci-fi flick, but it's got a lot of cool things that make it one of those films that's worth checking out.

It's rated UR (unrated) but has nudity, violence, and language.

3 stars

Blade of the Phantom Master Review

Have you ever watched a movie because the description sounded cool? In December 2007, an anime was made that sounded interesting, but it really wasn't. 

Directing this 87 minute animation/action/fantasy is Joji Shimura. 

Some of the voice cast is: Jason Douglas as Munsu, Nancy Novotny as Sando/Chun Hyan, Blake Shepard as Jyun, Laurie Gallardo as Mari and Brian Jepson as Yuite. 

Munsu was given a task by the king of the Jushin empire to search the land for corrupt government officials and bring justice to the country's citizens. Even though the king has fallen and the empire torn apart, Munsu still walks the land searching for injustice...

Well, thanks (again) to random surfing I tripped over something new. Since I had never heard of this one before I decided to do some digging on it. Come to find out the anime is based on the manga called Shin Angyo Onshi, created by Youn In-Wan. The manga has 17 volumes and its original run was from 2001-2007. The manga ran in both Japan (as Shin Angyo Onshi) and in South Korea (as Shinamhaengosa.)

Apparently, the anime was the first of its kind collaboration between Japan and South Korea. Japanese studio Oriental Light and Korean studio Character Plan got together and created the film adaptation of the manga called Phantom Master: Dark Hero from the Ruined Empire. Eventually, the film was later re-released by Funimation Entertainment on DVD as Blade of the Phantom Master

The screenplay was written by Mitsuru Hongo and Joji Shimura and is based on the manga created by Youn In-Wan. The story was ok, but it didn't feel complete. From the start of the story until the end, I felt like I had walked into the middle of what was going on and was missing out on something. After the main characters meet up (which is pretty quick) we are thrown into the mystery section of the story, which I thought was good. Downside, we don't get much character development and the two main characters the story follows aren't that interesting. The story had room to do more with the characters, but doesn't use it. Upside, we get some backstory on the main characters, which was cool.

The playthrough was ok, but not great. It starts off strong but then things slow down and it had trouble holding my attention. Most of the scenes in between the fights scenes were boring. One of the cool (and underused) things about the fight scenes was when Munsu summoned the Phantom Soldiers to fight for him. I say underused because they didn't stay around long during a fight. Even though the Phantom Soldiers were a "secret weapon" they were basically hack n' slash tools of justice, but it seemed like they couldn't hold their own against anything really strong. 

The animation looks really good and everything flowed smoothly. I liked the character designs and the fight scenes were pretty cool to watch. There are some bloody scenes, but not a lot of goriness going on. 

The whole reason I caught this one was because of the description. "A nameless hero in command of a secret human weapon arises from the ashes of the fallen Jushin empire to defend the people from zombies, cannibals and beasts." The description makes this one sound pretty cool. However, the story is seriously light on beasts and cannibals. Yes there are zombies, but not the viscous want to eat your face kind, more like the woe is me I'm undead kind.

Overall, skip this one and move on to something else in the anime world.

It's rated NR (not rated) but has violence and language. 

2 stars 

Biohazard 4D Executer Review

Would you walk into a zombie infested town if your job told you to? In November 2000, a rescue team had to fight through a hoard of zombies to find who they were looking for. 

Directing this 19 minute animation/short/horror is Koichi Ohata. 

Some of the cast is: Masaki Aizawa as Claus, Hiroto Torihata as Roger, Hideto Erihara as Ed, Tadasuke Ohmizu as Robert, Yoshyiunki Kaneko as Norman and Yurika Hino as Cameron. 

Dr. Cameron was researching a new type of virus when it somehow escaped the lab and infected the occupants of the town she was working in. Now, it's up to 5 members of the U.B.C.S. (Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service) to go there and try to find/rescue Dr. Cameron and her research.  

While aimlessly clicking through YouTube land I found this short bit of entertainment. Biohazard is a 3D animated short that's based on the Resident Evil survival horror series. The short was created by Capcom in cooperation with Visual Science Laboratory. This one doesn't really have a place in the RE (Resident Evil) timeline, Biohazard is considered a side story for the fans of the series.

The story was written by Daisuke Okamoto and supervised by the game developers. It's a pretty basic story that fits the RE tales. There's a T-Virus outbreak, violent deaths, and before you know it... zombies everywhere. Unfortunately, we miss out on all the fun stuff like the actual zombie outbreak and the story picks up with the clean up crew showing up. Once the story starts we get thrown right into the mix of things and before you know it... it's over.

The play-through was OK and it kept  a really good pace as the story unfolded. Even though it's a short film, they used every second well and told a complete story. Downside: this one doesn't have any character development or room (time wise) to build up any tension. So, it ends up being a bit of a bland flick.

The effects look a bit rough for today's time, but pretty sharp for something from 2000. The character movement isn't very smooth, but it doesn't show up as much during the creature fight scenes. As for the gore level, it's mostly bloody scenes, but things get pretty gory towards the end.  

Overall, it's not the best looking flick, but it's a cool tale to check out if you're looking for a quick zombie injection. 

It's rated UR (unrated) but has violence. 

3 stars

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress Review

If you could fight off the dead and not worry about being infected, would you fight or run? In April 2016, Ikoma realised running only got people killed, so now... it's time to fight!

Directing this 12 episode (22 minute each) action/drama/fantasy/horror is Tetsuro Araki.

Some of the voice cast is: Tasuku Hatanaka as Ikoma, Sayaka Senbongi as Mumei, Maaya Uchida as Ayame Yomogawa, Toshiki Masuda as Kurusu, Yuki Kaji as Takumi, Mamoru Miyano as Biba Amatori. 

A mysterious virus quickly spreads across the land, transforming the infected into what people call the Kabane (corpses). To kill these creatures you have to pierce the heart, but after infection the creatures grow a hardened layer around the heart that is almost impossible to penetrate, even with the steam pressure guns the soldiers use. To protect themselves from the Kabane people built cities around train stations; turning them into huge fortress and using the railway to transport people and materials from station to station. One day, on its way back to Aragane Station, a steam powered train was attacked and the Kabane used it to crash into the station making way for them to swarm the city. Realising the city is lost to the Kabane, everyone boards a train and makes a run for it. Now on the run, more fear sinks in as they realise with their city gone they don't know where to go... and will they be able to keep fighting off the Kabane till they get there?

Thanks to random surfing through Amazon Prime I tripped over this one, and I'm glad I did. For any Attack on Titan (2013) fans you'll get a kick out of this one. I got hooked on Kabaneri from the first episode and binge-watched the rest. Now, if you don't have time to make it through the whole season, no worries. They made two compilation films that recap the first season. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress 1 came out in December 2016 and Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress 2 will be out in January 2017.

The reason I think Titan fans will dig this is because there are a lot of similarities to it. You have a civilisation, by no choice of their own, that lives cut off from the rest of the world and is forced to adapt to the new "normal" way of life behind heavily fortified walls.  The odds of surviving, even behind the great walls, is low, especially when you're outnumbered by the things trying to kill you. Both stories have a post-apocalyptic setting. Lots of great looking fight scenes. It takes a precise way to kill the creatures and the main character becomes a weapon that can stand toe to toe with the deadly creatures in both shows. Even though these anime's share similarities I think Kabaneri has more than enough going on to stand out on it's own. 

The story that Ichiro Okouchi came up with is pretty cool. Not only do you have the main story of the people vs the Kabane going on, but there's also a side story going on that involves a few of the main characters. I think the only problem I had was that the main character, Ikoma, even in his strongest moments, still came off kind of weak. Like, one minute Ikoma would be willing to jump into the middle of battle and fight to the death, but in the next he'd be sitting around crying about being infected (even though it was a bonus in his case). After awhile, Ikoma wound up getting on my nerves because of that constant back and fourth.  Other than Ikoma, I thought there were quite a few badass characters. Either because of their story-line or the way they handled themselves. With everything going on in the story, Okouchi even managed to throw in some character development and growth (especially in Mumei's case). 

The play-through was really entertaining and held my attention through the whole season. Okouchi does a great job at creating a good balance of action and story-line. Now, towards the end of the season the story gets a little weird and feels a bit disjointed. It seemed like they forgot that they were hitting the last episodes of the season so they hurried to wrapped things up. It doesn't really hurt the show because questions are answered and people are where they should be (story wise) by the end of everything, while leaving few bits of mystery for season 2. It's was more of a sudden speed bump in a otherwise smooth flowing show. 

The voice cast was cool but nothing/no one really stood out.

The animation looked really good. The look of the Kabane was pretty sick and there was even some individuality used to make them stand apart from each other instead of one generic mold used for the whole horde. Sometimes their look reminded me of a zombie or demon, which made for some creepy looking scenes as they attacked. Another imaginative creature creation called the Black Fog Beast was a cool addition to the story and also helped make for some pretty cool action scenes. Most of the time fights/attacks are bloody looking, but every now and then you get a few gory treats when people are fighting off the Kabane and lose. 

Overall, if you haven't checked this one out, you need to! Hopefully, the wait for the second season won't be long because I want to see where the story goes from here. 

4 stars 

Night of the Living Dead: Darkest Dawn Review

If there was a CGI remake of Night of the Living Dead, would you watch it? In October 2015, they made one and I'm here to tell you... don't waste your time on it.

Directing this 62 minute animation/horror is Zebediah De Soto and Krisztian Majdik.

Some of the voice cast is: Danielle Harris as Barbara, Tony Todd as Ben, Bill Moseley as Johnny, R. Madhavan as Tom, Sarah Habel as Judy, Joseph Pilato as Harry Copper, Alona Tal as Helen Cooper and Tom Sizemore as Chief McClellan. 

When the zom-pocalypse breaks, out six strangers find themselves trapped in the city fighting to stay alive. 

So, here's one I didn't know existed, but when the title caught my eye I had to give it a go. As I was looking into the film more I found out the movie was originally titled Night of the Living Dead: Origins. I also found out, back when the project was started in 2009, it hit some road bumps and production wound up taking (off and on) five years to complete. The film used Indiegogo to try and raise money for the project, but unfortunately they were unsuccessful, and had to find other ways to raise the film's needed $200,000 (USD) goal, which might explain the amount of time it took to finish it. 

 

The story was written by Warren Davis II, Zebediah De Soto and David Reuben Schwartz and is a CGI remake of George A. Romero's original Night of the Living Dead (1968). This time around the writers moved the story from the original countryside setting to the city of New York, and updated it to modern-day; two things that didn't really help story-line. Basically, the story is the same as the original, and you even get some of the iconic moments from the original like hearing "They're coming to get you Bar-bara". Sadly, this remake had a CGI world open for them to create something different and do things the movies couldn't. Instead, all this one shows is a lack of imagination and a safe way to throw a story together. 

The play-through was slow and dragged on, which is why it had trouble holding my attention. Since the story was moved to the city, I figured there would be plenty of scenes filled with tons of zombies to fight off. Instead, you get a lot of scenes with empty streets or a few zombies charging in at a time. Nothing that screams, "Zombies have taken over a city, run for your lives."

This version of Night of the Living Dead, unlike the original or remake, fails at building any tension during the movie. So you never feel the terror that the characters are supposed to be going through. There're no surprises jumping out to scare you, or even creepy moments to raise the hair on the back of your neck. This one is plain and boring. 

The visual effects that The Graphic Film Company did for the film made it look like an old video game, which was kind of cool, but once you got up close to the characters, (most of) their faces looked really bad. The body movement wasn't very smooth either. Now, don't go into this one expecting anything gory because the most you'll get is some blood sprays when someone is attacked. 

One of the few cool things about this one is that it has Tony Todd and Bill Moseley reprising their roles from the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead. Aside from Todd's role, I think the cast line-up was filled wasted talent. Moseley's part is even smaller than it was in the 1990 remake. Sizemore's role was quick and over with before I knew it. Then there was Harris: Even though she's a main character, she barely speaks or does anything during the whole film. So you end up forgetting she's even in the film until the camera hits her again.

Overall, this might have made a decent video game, maybe, but it fails as a movie. 

It's rated UR (unrated) but has violence and language. 

1 star 

Ajin (Demi-Human) Review

We all go through life knowing eventually we're going to die, but what would you do if you found out death... couldn't touch you? In January 2016, Kei found out he couldn't die, and now everyone is after him to find out why. 

Directing this 13 episode (24 minutes each) animation/drama/adventure/horror is Hiroyuki Seshita.

Some of the voice cast is: Mamoru Miyano as Kei Nagai, Houchuu Ootsuka as Satou, Takahiro Sakurai as Yu Tosaki, Kaisuke Hirakawa as Koji Tanaka, Mikako Komatsu as Izumi Shimomura and Jun Fukuyama as Ko Nakano. 

Seventeen years ago, on a battlefield in Africa, we had our first sighting of an individual that couldn't be killed. Shot after shot, he kept getting up and going back to the fight. As time went on, more people with this  ability started popping up. These people are called Ajins (Demi-Humans). No one knows why someone becomes an Ajin or where their powers come from. Unfortunately, the only way to find out if you're an Ajin is when you die and come back to life. Even though the total number of Ajin's is small, they're considered a threat and are feared by most people, which is why when a high school student named Kei found out he was a Ajin the only choice he had was to run and hide. 

This anime, like so many others, started out as a manga that was created by Miura Tsuina back in 2012. However, after the first volume of the manga it was taken over by Gamon Sakurai, who has since been writing it. So far Ajin: Demi-Human has a manga with 7 volumes, 3 films, an OVA and a anime series. The films are Ajin: Shōdō (Ajin: Impulse), Ajin: Shōtotsu (Ajin: Collision) & Ajin: Shōgeki (Ajin: Clash). Now, the first film is a compilation of the first six episodes of the anime series. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing the second film will cover the next six or seven episodes, but I don't know (and can't find) what the third film will be about. The OVA called Ajin: Nakamura Shinya's Case gives us some backstory on a name that was dropped during the anime series and goes into more detail about Nakamura and the situation surrounding him. 

Sidenote: If you like the first season of the anime, word has it that season two will be out around October 2016. So, we'll have to wait and see (fingers crossed).

The story was written by Hiroshi Seko, and while I liked the idea, the play-through was a little lacking. I think part of that was due to the number of episodes in the run. It's hard to get a solid story in place with good character development in 13 episodes. Not that it can't be done. I'm saying it's hard to do sometimes. Now, the story is mainly about a high school kid that finds out he's an Ajin and is forced to live life on the run from the government, but there's another story going on at the same time. The secondary (and more interesting) story-line follows an old man named Sato, who is also an Ajin. Top secret video's have been popping up all over the internet showing cruel experiments being preformed on Ajins. Sato does a call out for fair treatment of the Ajins... or else a war is coming. So, Kei's story shows the struggle of a kid caught between a world that doesn't want him and one of his own that has no issue with showing the world what an Ajin is truly capable of.

The play-through was ok, but it moves kind of slow so you really have to give it a couple of episodes before deciding if this one's for you or not. Truthfully, I almost didn't finish this one, but things picked up (characters developed/story took off) and I'm glad I stuck it out because now I'm looking forward to the second season. Especially because certain things in the story-line are already in motion and all the players are already in place. So, the second season can just jump into it, which will make the second season a lot stronger and more entertaining (hopefully).

As far as the voice cast I thought everyone did a good job. The characters they played were a hit and miss for me. About half way through, the characters finally start to come to life, and you start to get into them. One of my favorite characters was Satou, who plays the main bad guy. Satou's character, oddly enough, is probably the happiest character in the whole show and you can't help but like him. Through all the bad stuff he does, Satou has his mind set that it's for the greater good, and he enjoys doing what he does. The main character, Kei, is supposed to be a cold and calculating individual, but comes off flat and boring. Unfortunately, by the time Kei gets interesting the show is almost over. Some of the other characters, like Kato and Izumi, seemed like they would be cool, but they were only used as support to the story and in really small doses. 

I can't say I'm a fan of the visuals, but I didn't hate them either. They used CG to make the anime, which I'm usually not a fan of. Here the CG gives it a sort of surreal vibe and it looks like you're watching everything through a hazy filter. However, the more I got into the story, the odd visuals kind of added an interesting element to it. Unfortunately, the movement is kind of choppy at times and I think they tried using slow motion during the action scenes to help hide the choppiness by making the action scenes look more dramatic. Even though this isn't a gory horror, thanks to some shootouts and creature attacks some of the scenes make a bloody mess of things. 

Overall, yeah this one has quite a few downsides, but the upsides pull it together and make it worth checking out. 

It's rated R for violence and language. 

3 stars

The Empire of Corpses Review

How far would you go to keep a promise to someone? In October 2015, Watson wanted nothing more than to keep a promise... at any cost. 

Directing this 120 minute animation/sci-fi/thriller is Ryoutarou Makihara. 

Some of the voice cast is: Jason Leibrecht as John H. Watson, Todd Haberkorn as Friday, J. Michael Tatum as Frederick Barnaby, Sean Hennigan as Mycroft Holmes,  Morgan Garrett as Hadaly Lilith and R. Bruce Elliot as The One.

In the 19th century, reanimated corpses are a part of every day life in Europe, and are used as laborers. Even though the dead are huge part of our lives, there's a law in place stopping just anyone from bringing the dead back. John H. Watson knew about the law, but decided to take the risk anyway. Unfortunately, John was caught by Mycroft Holmes, but instead of being arrested right then and there, John was given a choice. John could go to jail, or work for the government.  After finding out what the job was, John saw a chance to further his own work with reanimated corpses. All John has to do is find the book that holds the secrets Victor Frankenstein used when reanimating the first human corpse... The One.

This is based on the novel The Empire of Corpses (2012), which is also known as Shisha no Teikoku, written by Project Itoh and To Enjo. This one is part of a three film series based on the novels written by Project Itoh. After all three films are dropped it'll be The Empire of Corpses (2015), Harmony (2015) and Genocidal Organ, which (as of 4/20/2016) has hit a delay and doesn't have a release date yet. Now, I don't know if the stories are linked or if they are stand alone story's that caught someone's attention and felt like they just needed to become animes. I guess we'll just have to wait and see since I've never read the novels. 

The screenplay that Midori Goto, Hiroshi Seko and Koji Yananoto came up with is interesting, but in the end falls short of entertaining. I liked the way the corpses were mixed into our everyday life and that they had become just a usual thing in the world, instead of the fearful deadly creatures we're used to seeing in movies. The story is more than just about finding Frankenstein's journal, it also covers Watson's personal journey and what he's willing to do to achieve his own goals. Will he see the danger of what he seeks, or will he blindly follow down the same path Frankenstein did to his own demise just to get what he wants?

I don't know why, but I liked that they mixed classic characters like Holmes, Watson and Barnaby into the re-telling of the Frankenstein. It helped give it something different and stand out. What's really sad about this one is that it starts out so strong, but slowly dwindles the longer it goes on til it hits the end and goes completely and inexplicably weird. Or maybe I'm just not bright enough to understand the "deep meaning" behind it all. So, if I'm not, then yeah, it was a weird and unsatisfying ending. 

The play-through started out strong and caught my attention, but as it kept going there wasn't enough going on to help hold my attention all the way through. One of the downsides to this one is that Watson is really the only character we see development in, which kind of makes the overall story rather light. There are a few other characters that run with Watson but they are always used as bit players that have big reveals to give the story a punch, but then they're tossed aside like they're not important. Watson just wasn't a strong enough character to carry the whole movie. Yeah, his personal struggle was intriguing to watch, but not 2 hours intriguing. 

Visually, everything looked really good, and the character design that Takaaki Chiba came up with was cool. The story jumps around a lot, so we get to see some really cool looking scenery and I really dug the use of Victorian steam-punk throughout the movie. Even though the fight scenes were good, unfortunately, there's not a lot of them and I was expecting more to go down during them because they're rather quick to end. Now, things get a bit bloody at times, but nothing really limb tearing gory. For a film with re-animated corpses... it's pretty tame.

I'm always curious to see the difference between the dubbed and and subtitled so I watched both of them just for kicks. Plus I wanted a second go at the ending to see if I was missing anything. I liked the subtitled version better, which truthfully, I usually do. This time is was because I didn't care for the voice they picked (Jason Liebrecht) to dub Watson's character, it just didn't fit him. Watson's character seems young and kind of weak and the voice was big and strong. Yeah, I know weird thing to trip over but it kept tripping me up through the whole thing. Side note, even with the second watch, the ending still made no sense. 

Overall, yeah it has cool spots and interesting moments, but this isn't one I would ever re-watch (again). So, if you've run out of anime to watch and just want something to stare at... give it a go? 

It's rated  NR (not rated) but has violence. 

3 stars 

Review: Tokyo Ghoul: Pinto

Has someone ever caught your eye, but you don't know why? In December 2015, something odd about Hori caught Tsukiuama's attention, and he had to figure out what it was.

Directing this 24 minute horror/drama/animation Tadahito Matsubayashi. 

Some of the cast is: Mamoru Miyano as Shuu Tsukiuama, Megumi Han as Chie Hori, Kanae Itou as Ikaru and Chie Nakamura as Matsumae. 

During one of his feedings, Tsukiuama is caught red handed by a girl named Hori who was looking to take the perfect photograph. Tsukiuama knows he should "take care" of Hori after she witnessed him kill someone, but something about her intrigues him.  

So, this is the latest addition to hit the anime side of Tokyo Ghoul, which started out in 2014. All told, there's the Tokyo Ghoul series with two seasons  (Tokyo Ghoul (2014) and Tokyo Ghoul √A (Root A) (2015). Then two OVA's, Tokyo Ghoul: Jack (2015) and this one. Not to mention the manga that started it all back in 2011, which was created by Sui Ishinda.

Now, just like Tokyo Ghoul: Jack, this one is also a prequel to the series. Souichi Shimada, who wrote the script, came up with a story that gives us some background on the characters Tsukiuama and Hori, which is cool because I always dig a good backstory. However, after everything was said and done, this one has become my least favorite of the TG (Tokyo Ghoul) animes.

Now, I would be OK with a TG anime that doesn't have fight scenes if the story was good, unfortunately that wasn't the case here. I don't know how big the character Tsukiuama  was/is in the manga, but I don't really think he stood out enough in the series to warrant a stand alone movie. Yeah, Tsukiuama is an odd character that stands out, but just not interesting. Especially when there were a ton of other characters that would have made a prequel tons more interesting to watch.  

As for the play-through, it starts off really good, for about... two seconds. Then it slows down and stays at a slow and steady pace for the rest of the movie. Except for the very opening scene there's no action, fight scenes or gore in this one. Between the boring banter and a slow story, this one had trouble holding my attention. In a prequel about ghouls, you don't really get a lot of ghoul-ness from the story. Yeah, they're talking about ghouls feeding and Tsukiuama even takes a few bites of someone, but overall seriously lacking when it's all said and done. 

The animation looked really good and everything moved smoothly, which is something I've come to expect with the TG title. This time around however, it lacks the same level of imagination in the character designs, that we're used to seeing in the previous TG animations.   

Overall, if you're a fan of the anime then here you go. Otherwise, (sadly) you're not missing out on anything if you don't catch it. 

It's rated NR (not rated) but has violence. 

1 star 

Heavy Metal Review

Did you know a corvette could fly down from space and land smoothly? In August 1981, Heavy Metal showed me it could happen, along with a lot of of other weird stuff.

Directing this 86 minute animation/adventure/fantasy is Gerald Potterton. 

Some of the voice cast is: Grimaldi - Don Francks as Grimaldi and Caroline Semple as Girl and Percy Rodriguez as Loc-Nar. 

Harry Canyon - Richard Romanus as Harry Canyon, Susan Roman as Girl, John Candy as Desk Sergeant, Al Waxman as Rudnick and Percy Rodriguez as Loc-Nar. 

Den - John Candy as Den, Jackie Burroughs as Katherine, Marilyn Lightstone as Queen, August Schellenberg as Norl and Percy Rodriguez as Loc-Nar. 

Captain Sternn - Eugene Levy as Captain Lincoln F. Sternn, Rodger Bumpass as Hanover Fiste and Percy Rodriguez as Loc-Nar. 

B-17 - George Touliatos as Pilot, Don Francks as Co-Pilot and Percy Rodriguez as Loc-Nar.

So Beautiful and So Dangerous - John Candy as Robot, Alice Playten as Gloria, Harold Ramis as Zeke, Eugene Levy as Edsel and Percy Rodriguez as Loc-Nar.

Taarna - Mavor Moore as Elder, August Schellenberg as Taarak, Vlasta Vrana as Barbarian Leader and Percy Rodriguez as Loc-Nar.  

Grimaldi - A man brings home a glowing orb. Eagerly, he shows his new find to his daughter and that's when things go horribly wrong for them. 

Harry Canyon - A red-headed stranger needing a ride turns Harry's next couple of days upside down. 

Den - A nerdy teenager finds a glowing orb that transports him to another world, and that's not even the weirdest part. 

Captain Sternn - Strenn tries to bribe his way out of some legal trouble. As it turns out, that bribe brought him even bigger troubles. 

B-17 - Surviving the dangerous bombing run they just made turns out the be the easiest part of their flight.

So Beautiful and So Dangerous - What looked like just another day for Alice quickly spins out of control... and out of this world. 

Taarna - A meteor crash changes a tribe of humans into mutated barbarians. When the barbarians begin attacking a peaceful city, the elders summon a warrior in hopes of saving themselves. 

First off, yeah, I know this has no-th-ing to do with horror. Even though it has some "horror like" qualities, it's still a fantasy flick. However, this is one of my favorite animations, even after all these years, so I thought I would share it. 

This Canadian-American animated anthology was adapted from stories originally in Heavy Metal magazine. It took about three years to get the film done. Each segment was done by a different animation house, while another house was working on the frame story that would tie it all together. There's a sequel called Heavy Metal 2000, also known as  Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K.² that was released in 2000, and went straight to video. Unlike the first Heavy Metal, the sequel wasn't based on stories from the magazine. Instead, the sequel was based on the graphic novel The Melting Pot by Kevin Eastman. 

The screenplay that Daniel Goldberg and Len Blum came up with was based on the original stories that were written by Dan O'Bannon (Soft Landing), Daniel Goldbreg and Len Blum (Harry Canyon), Richard Corban (Den), Bernie Wrightson (Captain Sternn), Dan O'Bannon (B-17), Angus McKie (So Beautiful & So Dangerous) and Daniel Goldberg and Len Blum (Tarrna).

I liked this movie because it was different, it wasn't something you saw a lot of films trying to do back then and it has stood the test of time while continuing to build a cult following. One of the things that helps this one work is the mix of stories they used. It has a good mix of scary, funny and serious(-ish) stories that blend together pretty good overall when telling the main story. Something else I thought helped the story was that the segments they picked were from different time periods. The time thing helped transform a simple glowy little ball into a menacing evil, and showing how far it could reach (time wise) and influence others helped build how dangerous it truly was. 

Here's something I didn't know about this one. There's a segment that wasn't included when it was released in theaters. Due to time restrictions the missing segment, called Neverwhere Land, would go in between the Captain Sternn and B-17 segments. If you have or can find the 96' VHS release then you'll see it right off because it's at the beginning of the tape. Now, since it's getting harder and harder to find a VHS player, no stress, the DVD release has the missing segment as a bonus feature. 

The play-through is cool and it continues to hold my attention every time I watch it. With the mix of story telling style (comedy or scary) you never know what you're in for next. Between the story style and the animation, something is always going on to keep your eyes glued to the screen, and if that doesn't do it, the constant flash of animated boobs just might. Also, there's some funny humor,  gory fight scenes and good music throughout the flick. 

Speaking of the music, you'll hear some great songs from Sammy Hagar, Riggs, Devo, Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Don Fagen, Donale Fagen, Nazareth, Journey, Grand Funk Railroad, Black Sabbath, Don Felder, Trust, and Stevie Nicks popping up throughout the flick. 

The animation, for its time period, was good and as smooth as could be. It's not grand by any means, especially compared to today's animation, but was still pretty solid for back then. The animators built some awesome background scenery and showed some wild imagination in the worlds they built to tell the stories. 

Now, there was talk about a remake back in 2008, and over time word would pop up about it here and there, but nothing solid ever became of it. Unfortunately, one of the problems the film has is no distributor or production company has shown interest since Paramount Pictures decided to pass on the project. Apparently, Paramount thought the film was "too risque for mainstream audiences." Last anyone heard about the project was in 2014 when Robert Rodriguez, who had bought the rights to Heavy Metal, said he might be switching gears and bringing it to television, which is pretty convenient since he has his very own television network called El Rey. 

Overall, this is one of those that has a cult following and for good reason... it's freaking cool. If you haven't caught this one yet, change that and give it a spin because you're missing out on a metal filled classic. 

It's rated R for violence, language and nudity.

4 stars 


Review: Occult Academy

If you had the chance to go to a school and study the occult, would you? In July 2010, the academy was a dream come true for some students, but to Maya it was just a place full of painful memories. 

Directing this 13 episode (24 minutes each) mystery/supernatural/horror is Tomohiko Ito.

Some of the voice cast is: Yoko Hikasa as Maya Kumashiro, Takahiro Mizushima as Fumiaki Uchida, Yu Kobayashi as Chihiro Kawashima, Ayahi Takagaki as Ami Kuroki, Takehito Koy. 

asu as JK and Hiroki Takahashi as Smile.

After the death of Maya's father, headmaster of Waldstein Academy, she returns to the academy to take his place as Headmaster. This academy isn't like most schools. Here they teach the students about the occult, which is something Maya doesn't care for, and the reason why she wants to shut the school down.

Unfortunately, Maya doesn't get much time to settle into her new role as headmaster before strange occurrences start popping up not only around the school but also around town. One of the those strange occurrences was the arrival of a time traveler named Fumiaki. Come to find out, Nostradamus prophesied about a coming apocalypse that would consume the world, and in the future where Fumiaki's from... it came true. So, Fumiaki has been sent back to Maya's time, 1999, to try and stop it all from happening. Fumiaki knows when the catastrophe starts, and that the academy was at the center of it all when it happened. However, Fumiaki doesn't know what the key element(s) was that instigates his future apocalypse. Maya and Fumiaki will have to work together if they're going to figure out what brings about the end of the world, and stop it... before it's to late.

This was a title I had never heard of before I checked it out, and it turned out to be a cool find. In case you decide to look for this one and check it out sometime, you should know that Occult Academy is also known as Seikimatsu Okaruto Gakuin. Now, usually you see mangas being turned into animes, but not this time. Here it's an anime first that has a manga being adapted from the show.

Yuniko Ayana, who wrote the script, came up with a good story. I liked it because of the way they tell the story, the layout makes it a bit different than some of the animes I've seen over time, which helps it stand out from the rest. Another thing I liked was the writing. As the story unfolds you don't see the twists and turns until they hit you with them, which adds a nice unpredictable angle to it.

The play-through is a bit misleading, which I also liked. I wasn't sure what was going on story-wise at first. It starts out with a fast pace scene then switches over to a whole new location with a completely different pace that doesn't seem to have anything to do with the opening. Eventually, everything starts to come together and things start to make sense. With everything that was going on during the show, it held my attention the entire time. One thing that made it hard to get through the anime was the Maya character, who was constantly flipping out (getting mad or thrown fits). At first, yeah, I got why Maya flipped out in the beginning, but after awhile it just got old and annoying. 

The animation looked good and everything flowed smoothly. I liked what Takahiro Chiba and Gatou Asou came up with for the character designs. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of fight scenes and nothing really gory or bloody about this one. Also, with the title occult academy and 13 episodes to play around with, I was expecting a lot more occult stuff to come into play. The lack of occultiness doesn't hurt the anime, personally I was just expecting more from it. 

Overall, this one surprised me and I liked the way they twisted the end around, which makes this one worth checking. 

It's rated R for violence and languge. 

3 stars 

Baoh - Movie Review

What would you do if you woke up and found out you were an escaped science experiment? In November 1989, Ikuro didn't know what Doress had done to him, he just knew he didn't want to go back there. 

Directing this 48 minute action/supernatural/thriller is Hiroyuki Yokoyama. 

Some of the cast is: Brian Hinnant as Ikuro Hashizawa, Kem Helms as Sumire, Mike Way as Dr. Kasuminome, Sara Seidman as Sophine, Dave Underwood as Dordo, Chuck Denson as Walken and Sean P. O'Connell as Number 22. 

Doress is a secret organization that deals in black projects. Doress's goal is to make Japan superior, so they've been gathering psionics and making biological weapons. Doress's latest project, Baoh, is a parasite that lives in the brain of a host body. When attacked, the Baoh parasite releases the "Armed Defense Phenomenons" into the host and turns it into a living weapon. During the transportation of Baoh, and its host Ikuro, a mishap releases Baoh from his containment and he escapes. Not wanting the public to find out about the work Doress does, they'll do what ever it takes to get Baoh back or kill him. Unfortunately, the Baoh project turned out better than they expected, which means catching him may not be so easy. 

Baoh started out as a manga, which was written by Hirohiko Araki back in 1984. The manga has two volumes and was the first series that displayed Araki's over the top gore, which is some pretty cool looking stuff. Unfortunately, Studio Pierrot took the series and adapted it into a single OVA. Personally, I would've dug seeing more OVA's or an animated series come out for Baoh. 

The story was written by Kenji Terada, which is based off the work by Hirohiko Araki. I dug the idea of the story. It's basically about a parasite that protects it's host by physically changing the host's body to do some pretty cool stuff for defense. Now, the script is kind of weak when it comes to the banter between the two main stars. The script also has a lot of your typical bad guy narrating over a fight scene to explain what's going on with the hero when new abilities pop up. The narrating is ok and fits with the story, while the banter between the main stars (luckily) is short and minimal. 

The playthrough was really good. It has a fast pace that starts out right off the bat and doesn't slow down till the end credits roll. There's almost always something going on to keep you entertained and hold your attention. The fight scenes were cool to watch and pretty gory. 

The character designs that Masayuki Sanaba came up with looked good. Downside, there aren't a lot of monsters or freaky looking science experiments to look at like I thought there would be. Upside: there's plenty of gore throughout the anime to make up for the lack of monsters or experiments gone wrong. The animation flowed really well and the fight scenes were cool to watch. 

Now, I caught the dubbed version of the anime, so as for the voice cast, I liked Chuck Denson and Mike Way's voice work. They both gave their characters an awesome creepy/evil vibe. Brian Hinnant and Kem Helms were both kind of annoying to listen to. 

Side note: This one has a mid end credits scene. As the story ends we get a narration that seems kind of odd but if you wait it out and catch the mid credit scene it helps make the ending feel a little smoother. 

Overall, this is one of my favorites. Unfortunately, the story is short and simple but the action and look of the anime is what makes this one so great to me. If you haven't caught it yet, it's well worth your time to check out. 

It's rated UR (unrated) but has violence. 

4 stars

Michael Carter  - Back Seat Viewer

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Tokyo Ghoul: Jack

Have you ever seen something that changed the way you saw the world around you? In September 2015, what Taishi saw made him realize how dangerous the world around him really was.

Directing this 30 minute action/horror/supernatural/drama is Souichi Shimada.

Some of the voice cast is: Daisuke Namikawa as Kishou Arima, Ryouhei Kimura as Taishi Fura, Saori Hayami as Uruka Minami and Rintarou Nishi as Yakumo Oomori.

Taishi Fura wittnessed the ghoul attack that took the life of his friend, and almost the life of Taishi's sister. Luckily, a fellow student named Kishou Arima showed up and ran the ghoul off before any more lives were lost. Unbeknowest to Kishou's fellow classmates, Kishou is a ghoul investigator. Now that Kishou's secret is out, it's time for him to be relocated to a new school, but that doesn't sit well with Taishi. Knowing how dangerous the ghoul is, Taishi still wants revenge for his friends life, and he knows the only way that will happen is if Kishou stays and helps him. 

This OVA (original animation video) is part of the Tokyo Ghoul series that started out as a magna called Tokyo Ghoul: Jack (2013). The Tokyo Ghoul manga started out back in 2011, which was created by Sui Ishinda. After Tokyo Ghoul found it's fan base it took off from there. All told the anime has 2 seasons of a televison series, Tokyo Ghoul (2014) Tokyo Ghoul √A (Root A) (2015). Two OVA's, Tokyo Ghoul: Jack (2015) and Tokyo Ghoul: Pinto (2015), which comes out in December. Along with the mangas and animes there are also a couple of video games out.

The script that Chuuhi Mikasano wrote is a prequel to the Tokyo Ghoul series and is based on the work originally created by Sui Ishida. It takes us back to the school years of two CCG (Commission of Counter Ghoul) personal. I thought the flick had a solid story and didn't really leave many questions after it was all said and done. Mikasano did a good job of making something that fit well into the anime run. One would think, "How hard is it to write a prequel and make it good...?" Well, one could think that, but unfortunately I've seen prequels turn out pretty bad and did a horrible job at fitting into the original storyline.

The playthrough was good and entertaining. It starts off a kind of slow, but picks up pretty quick and doesn't slow down again. Out of everything this one has going for it my only complaint is the running time, 30 minutes just wasn't enough. There's a lot of blood flowing around during the fights but really the most gory we get is a quick impalement. Another thing that worked for this one is the small cast. The story basically covers four people so you don't have a lot of jumping around, just a straight shooting story and fighting. Two things I enjoy in my animes. 

The special effects looked good and the fight scenes were awesome to watch, but unfortunately they were quick fights. Kazuhiro Miwa came up with some good character designs, and everything flowed together really well. 

Overall, this one's worth catching for anime fans, and especially for any Tokyo Ghoul fans out there. 

It's rated R for violence and language. 

3 stars 

Tokyo Ghoul Season 2

What would you be willing to do to protect your friends? In January 2015, Kanei delves into the darkest part of his ghoul nature to find the strength he needs to protect his friends.

Directing this 12 episode (24 minutes each) animation/action/drama/fantasy/horror is Shuhei Morita.

Some of the voice cast is: NatsukiHanae as Ken Kanei, Soar Amamiya as Touka Kirishima, Takayuki Sugo as Yoshimura, Katsuyuki Konishi as Kotaro Amon, Asami Seto as Akira Mado, Yutaka Nakano as Yukinori Shinohara, Rie Kugimiya as Juzo Suzuya, Toshiyuki Toyonaga as Hideyoshi Nagachicka, Shintaro Asanuma as Nikhiki Nishio and Yuki Kaji as Ayato Kirishima.

Kanei is still struggling with his new life as a ghoul. How do you feed on flesh and still consider yourself human? Unfortunately, Kanei will have to put his personal problems on hold if he wants to find a way to keep his friends safe. The actions of certain ghouls have dragged other ghouls that want to hide out into the light. Now, a it looks like the only option the ghouls have is to fight the CCG in a winner takes all...

How did Tokyo Ghoul come to be? Well, back 2011 Tokyo Ghoul started out as a Manga, with a 14 volume run. Then in 2013, a light novel with a 3 volume run was made, and is still going on. Since then another Manga called Tokyo Ghoul: Jack (2013) was released with 1 volume and Tokyo Ghoul:re (2014) with 4 volumes. Eventually we got the anime Tokyo Ghoul (2014) and season 2 Tokyo Ghoul ✔A (Root A) (2015). Now, there are 2 OVA's (original video animation) to keep an eye out for called Tokyo Ghoul: JACK (2015) and Tokyo Ghoul: PINTO (2015). If for some reason that's not enough Tokyo Ghoul to keep you busy then you could spend some time with the 2 video games, Tokyo Ghoul: Carnival and Tokyo Ghoul: Jail.

Well, I finally got around to finishing the second season of Tokyo Ghoul, which is called Tokyo Ghoul ✔A (Root A). For those of you that may not have caught my review for season one of Tokyo Ghoul, here's a quick recap. There's these creatures called Ghouls that feed on human flesh. People are aware of their existence but since they look like normal everyday humans, they can blend in and hide amongst the humans. There's a task force called CCG (Commission of Counter Ghoul) that tries to protect the city from the Ghouls. The main character, Ken Kanei, is a half breed (half human and ghoul) that's constantly locked into a fight to hold on to his humanity... while learning to live with his constant hunger for flesh.

Season 2 was written by Chuji Mikasano, which is who also wrote season 1. Now, when Chuji did season 1 he used the first 4 volumes of the manga to do the storyline, and season 1 was awesome! Season 2 however went with a variation from the source material and this time around I didn't really care for the storyline. Not because of the variation, but because of the storyline. Yes the characters continued to develop and a few of the back stories helped bring closer to a few characters, but the overall storyline was all over the place and felt random. By the time the credits were rolling on the last episode I didn't know what to think, except that maybe I somehow missed an episode because of the giant hole that was left storywise. We go from a huge battle between multiple groups and then flash forward (no clue how long) to... look everything's sunny and happy!?

As for the playthrough, things started out good and it had a nice a pace... then things started going downhill. Upside, it never lost my attention, I was glued to the screen. Downside, it never lost my attention because I was trying to figure out what was going on and why. They would bring in new characters and made a big deal about them, then those same characters would disappear without a trace or even a word.  Events and decisions would take place in the story that made no sense and didn't fit into the rest of the story.

Visually, everything was just as good looking as season 1 and the fight scenes were awesome to watch. I liked the new characters that Kazuhiro Miwa designed and the weapons they came up with to fight the Ghouls.

I found that they may be working on a season 3, which if things go right might drop in 2016. If this pans out to be true, I'm hoping (fingers crossed) for a better playthrough in the 3rd season.

Overall, it saddens me to see an anime that got a strong 4 stars in season 1 barely get 3 stars a season later. So, if you are a Tokyo Ghoul fan (like myself)... I would recommend stopping at season 1 so you can remember the good times you had with Tokyo Ghoul. If you're just looking for cool visuals and fights, yeah you'll find them here.

It's rated R for violence and language.

3 stars

Blood-C: The Last Dark

How far would you go to get revenge? In June 2012, Saya may finally get her chance for revenge, if she can survive the fight it'll take to get there...

Directing this 110 minute animation/action/horror/supernatural is Naoyoshi Shiotani.

Some of the voice cast is: Alexis Tipton as Saya Kisaragi, Jad Saxton as Mana Hiragi, Josh Grelle as Shun Fujimura, Justin Cook as Iori Matsuo, Tia Ballard as Hiro Tsukiyama, Colleen Clinkenbeard as Haruno Yanagi, Mike McFarland as Kuroto Mogari and Robert McCollum as Fumito Nanahara.

An every day subway ride quickly turns into a bloody massacre when a strange looking creature attacks the passengers. Fortunately for everyone riding the train, one of the passengers was a girl named Saya that's used to fighting these type of creatures. Aside from destroying another creature, Saya found another upside to the fight. Saya saved the life of a young woman named Mana who happens to be a part of an underground internet group (hackers) called Surat. Apparently, Surat has found some information about a secret organization behind Fumito called Tower that engages in human experiments. Thanks to the Surat group pointing the way, Saya knows where she needs to go, but with all the obstacles that stand between her and Fumito... can she make it there?

The Blood franchise started with Blood+ (2005), which had a 50 episode run. The blood continued to flow on to Blood-C with a 12 episode run and stopped here with this one (The Last Dark), which acts as a sequel to the Blood-C series. The reason we have the Blood franchise is all due to the film that inspired it all, Blood: The Last Vampire (2000). Now, if you've kept up with the Blood run then you know the franchise went with an alternate universe from the 2000 film, which leaves the two only sharing basic elements between them. Aside from films (live-action/anime) the Blood title also has some magnas and video games under it's belt.

The story was written by Nanase Ohkawa and the screenplay by Junichi Fujisakuand Nanase Ôkawa. I liked the story and getting to see Saya get some closure (kind of), but unfortunately you have to have seen the Blood-C series for the anime to make a lot of sense. Otherwise, you're kind of lost as the plot unfolds due to the flash backs that bring up people and places from the past. If you don't mind missing a few things, the rest of the story is still really enjoyable.

The play-through is good and it even starts off with a fight (how could you go wrong with that, right?) A couple of the characters got on my nerves in the beginning, but as things went on and their characters developed I actually wound up liking them. Another plus was the twists and turns the story has going on that made for some nice surprises.

Animation was great looking and everything flowed smoothly. I dug the character design by CLAMP and a couple of the monsters, especially the last one, was seriously cool. There's not a ton of fights but the ones there are, especially the bigger group fights, are awesome to watch.

Overall, if you're a fan of the Blood run then you'll enjoy this one. If you've never seen anything about Blood, this is still an anime worth catching for the visuals alone.

It's rated R for violence and nudity.

3 stars
 

Michael Carter  - Back Seat Viewer

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Review: Le Portrait de Petit Cossette

If you could help a troubled spirit, would you? In April 2004, Eiri met a spirit he felt compelled to help.

Directing this 111 minute (3 episodes/36 minutes each) horror, psychological, supernatural is Akiyuki Shinbo.

Some of the voice cast is: Marina Inoue as Cossette d'Auvergne, Mitsuki Saiga as Eiri Kurahashi, Megumi Toyoguchi as Shoko Mataki and Masashi Ebara as Marcello Orlando.

Unbeknownst to Eiri, there are some cursed objects in the antique shop he works at. He only knows this because the owner, a spirit of a girl named Cossette, told him so. The curse comes from a horrid act the objects witnessed a long time ago, that act tainted these objects and drives them to strike out at people. As Eiri spends more and more time with Cossette, he finds himself becoming obsessed her and willing to do anything he can to help her with the objects. Unfortunately, Cossette's problems run deeper than the cursed objects, and Eiri will have to give everything he has to help put a stop to the curse. 

This one was an anime first then adapted into a 2 volume manga that ran from August 2004 - December 2004, which was written by Asuka Katsura. 

The story was written by Mayori Sekijima (screenplay) and Asuka Katsura. I thought the story was kind of interesting, but I wish they would have opened the focus a bit more on other stuff like the cursed objects and other things going on around the main characters. Instead the flick has a tight focus on just the two main people, which made the story feel small and repetitive. Now, it's your typical boy meets ghost girl: Ghost needs help, boy wants to help while falling for the ghost. Alas, their love can never be, or can it? You know the kind of stuff you read in the tabloids everyday in between Batboy wants to fly around the world and the guy that has his lawnmower doing his taxes. I really dug Cossette's dialogue in the story. Between the words used and the delivery, I think that was the best part of the show. Otherwise, the dialogue for everyone else was sadly flat and boring.

The play-through was OK but things move pretty slow, like a crippled snail s-l-o-w. Oddly enough, even though the pace is slow it didn't have a lot of trouble holding my attention because I got hooked wanting to know how it was going to end.  Yeah, the flick has a horror tag but there's not a lot of scary to it. The delivery of the story has more of an artsy feel to it. It has a lot of cool/weird visuals with the Cossette character talking over them in an almost poetic kind of way. There's a bit of gore but it comes and goes pretty quick. One of the things I didn't like was that they had access to other character in the story, but never really developed or used them. I thought the voice cast did good, but no one stood out really.

The animation looked good and flowed smoothly. I was impressed by some of the visuals they came up with when it came to the scenery and backgrounds.

Overall, the artsy vibe makes this one different from a lot of the anime that I've watched, and to a degree different is good, which is why I can't really say I hated or liked it. So, if you just happen to trip over this title somewhere, why not give it spin and see if it's your cup of tea. Otherwise don't worry about looking real hard to find it.

It's rated R for violence and language.

3 stars

Review: Demon City Shinjuku

What would you do if you found out the fate of the world rested on your shoulders? In October 1988, Kyoya found out he needed to become a hero and save the world.

Directing this 82 minute animation/fantasy/horror is Yoshiaki Kawajiri.

Some of the voice cast is: Brad Lavelle as Kyoya Izayoi, Teresa Gallagher as Sayaka Rama, Alex McSweeney as Chibi, Bob Sessions as Rebi Ra, Gareth Armstrong as Mephisto, George Little as Aguni Rai and Brian Note as President Kozumi Rama.

Evil took hold in the city of Shinjuku when Genichiriou Lzayoi failed to stop Rebi Ra from opening a portal to hell. After the portal was opened, an earthquake devastated the area and turned the city into demon central. Now, ten years later, World President Kozumi Rama is attacked with a curse by Rebi Ra. Master Aguni Rai, the president's protector, knows he must stay by the President's side to fight off the attack and keep him alive since the death of the President would be the ritual sacrifice needed to bring the demon realm to Earth. Master Aguni Rai knows of only one other person that might have a chance to defeat Rebi Ra, Kyoya Izayoi. Picking up the fight that killed his father ten years ago, can Kyoya stop Rebi Ra and save the world?

This anime has a novel (1982) and a 2 volume manga that ran from June 2002 - September 2002 that was written by Hideyuki Kikuchi.

The story that writer Kaori Okamura threw together was a cool idea but lacked in the delivery. The story felt rushed: Bad guy shows up, need to find a hero and then send the (very) unlikely hero out to vanquish evil. The script wasn't very good because it does just enough to get the characters from point A to point B with as little work as possible, then it's filled with crappy character banter. The worse part was how unbelievable it was that the main character could be the world's salvation. His father "a well trained master" failed, but his son that had some training (but never finished) could beat the bad guy.

The playthrough, sadly, was pretty boring. The few fight scenes it had were cool but when it came to the rest of the story it had trouble holding my attention. The entire film is built up for a big boss battle... that really isn't much of a battle. The fights with the henchman were better and almost lasted longer than the main fight.

As far as the animation, I liked what they came up with for the three henchmen that Rabi Ra had. I thought Yoshiaki Kawajiri came up with some cool character designs. Other than that, the rest of the animation looked good and flowed pretty well.
 

Overall, if you see this title pass on it, there's a thousand other ways to spend your time, which is sad because this could have been a really good anime.

It's rated PG-13 for brief nudity, violence and language.

1 star 

Michael Carter  - Back Seat Viewer 

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Pet Shop of Horrors Review

Have you ever gone to a pet store looking for something to fill the place of something or someone you've lost? In March 1999, a shop owner named Count D, always has just what you're looking for.

Directing this 4 part episode (22 minutes each) animation/fantasy/horror is Toshio Hirata.

Some of the cast is: Masaya Onosaka as Leon Orcot, Satsuki Yukino as Jill, as  and Toshihiko Seki as Count D.

Count D runs a unique kind of pet shop in Chinatown, where he sells rare and hard to find animals. Count D finds the kind of pet that will fill a need or desire for you, but you have to remember, like with any pet, to take good care of it. Of course with such rare animals as these, there are rules you must follow when caring for your pet that must not be broken. So, once Count D has found the pet you need, told you the rules of how to take care of it, and signed the contract, the rest... is all up to you.

Pet Shop of Horrors started out as a manga that was written by Matsuri Akino and had a 10 volume run from 1995 - 1998. Then a second series was created that was also written by Akino, called Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo that had a 12 volume run from 2005 - 2013.

The stories for this horror anthology was written by Waco maco. I've not read the manga but after watching the anime, I may have found a reason for checking it out. The storyline is about a pet shop owner that finds the right "pet" for you. The kind of pet that will fill a need or desire for you, but if you fail to take care of it, the consequences can be deadly. The story has some good writing that tells different stories about human nature, or more so, the fault of our nature throughout the anime.

The play-through is really good and entertaining. Only downside I have with this one is it's too short, four episodes just isn't enough. Upside with the short episodes, you get a quick clean story without any drag time. Now, there's not a lot of gore, you'll get some body parts laying around after they've been ripped off, but that's about it. Also, there isn't much mystery to the stories. Once you've met the new pet owner and heard the rules you pretty much know how things are going to go down. Yet, it's still enjoyable to watch as things play through.

The animation looked really good for something that came out of the late 90's. Unfortunately, not all anime have that going for them. Hisashi Abe and Rintaro came up with some good looking character designs. I do wish there was more of an imaginative design with the monster element. All the "monsters" are fairly tame looking and even when they change it's pretty simple and plain looking.

The voice cast did a good job but nothing stood out.

Overall, this one isn't one you catch for the blood and guts. Or because you're looking for something scary. However, this is definitely worth your time to watch because it has some really cool stories to tell.

It's rated R for violence and nudity.

3 stars

Michael Carter  - Back Seat Viewer 

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