Pokemon movie release

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So VIZ Media announced the new Pokemon movie is out on DVD today. Never been a fan of Ash and the gang although I do find Pikachu very cute and own a giant version of the yellow furball. It’s a denizen of my room along with a stuffed version of Kon from “Bleach.”

But I digress.

“Pokmon: The Rise of Darkrai” will hit store shelves today. Price is $19.98.

The Pokmon television series airs seven days a week on Cartoon Network and episodes can be viewed online on Toonami JetstreamT.

Here’s a synopsis of the movie from the VIZ release: “While touring Alamos Town – home of the Space-Time Tower – with the beautiful Alice, Ash and his friends discover that the town’s special garden has been decimated. Baron Alberto, a dashing but arrogant fellow, immediately blames the destruction on Darkrai.

As if it just overheard the accusation, Darkrai appears and confronts our heroes! Who is Darkrai? Is it a friend… or an enemy in disguise? And as a battle between Legendary Pokmon Dialga and Palkia rages directly above Alamos Town, and threatens to tear a hole in the space-time continuum, will Ash and his friends survive this showdown and learn Darkrai’s true nature?”

Bleach movie to be shown in certain cities

Attention “Bleach” fans. (I’m referring to the anime show and manga not the liquid bleach here folks.)

Ahem. Back to the news.

The Bleach movie called “Memories of Nobody” will be shown in 300 movie theaters on June 11 and 12. You can start buying tickets May 9 from the theaters or at www.FathomEvents.com But subscribers to SHONEN JUMP e-mail newsletter can buy advance tickets from May 2 to 8, according to the folks at VIZ Media.

Here’s a synopsis of the movie from the VIZ Media press release: “Unidentified beings known
as Blanks start popping up. They are soon followed by a Soul Reaper named Senna who makes them disappear. Puzzled by these unknown beings and the even more mysterious girl, Ichigo and Rukia set out to learn more, but uncover an evil plot when a menacing clan tries to kidnap Senna.

Banished from Soul Society long ago, the clans leader has sent the World of the Living and Soul Society on a collision course, and Senna seems to be the key to his diabolical plot for
revenge.”

Cue suspense music.

Anime and manga classic to hit the big screen

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So Leonardo DiCaprio and Warner Bros have teamed up to bring a live action version of “Akira” to the big screen, according to the Hollywood Reporter. It’s supposed to be a two-parter with the first movie possibly coming out in summer 2009.

I’m sure my friends who are fans of the manga and anime versions will be lining up to see the film.

I won’t.

At the time it came out, “Akira” was considered cutting edge with its animation and some of its themes. I saw it and wondered what the big deal was about. I still do. Yeah I know I’m in the minority when I say that.

While I appreciated the attention given to details so the animation flowed smoothly and the action scenes were good, I never liked the character designs much less the plot. Another rebellious teen (this time a biker kid) living in a post nuclear world has to deal with a government experiment on children gone awry. And it was such a letdown to find out who Akira was.

The anime and manga has a lot of fans so a quick search of “Akira” on the Net will bring up all the info you want on said classic.

Before you hurl that tomato at me, I better come clean. I also didn’t like “Princess Mononoke” maybe because I saw the horrible version dubbed in English. Then again, I doubt if the plot would make more sense to me if I saw it in the original Japanese with English subtitles.

And “Spirited Away” didn’t move me either. I remember sitting through the entire movie out of some misguided belief that if one started something, one has to finish it. It wasn’t a bad film by any means. I just couldn’t get into it.

Sucky ending to an otherwise decent show

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One problem in anime shows based on manga (Japanese comic book) is that a lot of them end long before their written counterparts which means that the show either comes up with its own ending or it just leaves you hanging.

Case in point “Claymore.” The series enthralled me with its tale of half demon/half human female warriors working for some shady organization to kill demons in this world. It varied from the manga with its last four episodes. To me, the main character suddenly acted out of character and scenes that were supposed to be dramatic merely elicited laughter from me. It was a cornball fest.

Sad sad sad since the show was so good in the beginning.

New Year, new resolutions

It’s that time of year when folks make resolutions or start cracking on whatever promise they made to themselves. OK here’s mine. This year I resolve to watch more anime that I enjoy and be less forgiving with shows that belong in the reject pile.

No more sitting through 5 or 10 episodes of the cliched, the trite and the truly awful. One or two episodes will be the maximum. I am leery of imposing a zero tolerance policy on anime since some shows improve after several episodes.

Anyway, here’s the third opening of the D.Gray-man series which is still running in Japan and hasn’t been licensed here yet. I like the show and I prefer this opening song than the previous two. It’s called “Doubt and Trust” by Access. Yeah it’s JPOP.

The YouTube video is courtesy of someone called “The Bleeding Wrath.”

The never ending clash between Good and Evil

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A co-worker asked yesterday why I don’t update this blog every day. Hmmm. I’d love to just do this instead of covering crime but I think my boss wouldn’t be too thrilled with that.

Besides, someone has to chronicle the evil things that people do. Might as well be me. I’ve been covering crime so long, I’m pretty much not shocked by anything anymore. But I wouldn’t subject anyone else to this. The world I cover isn’t black and white but shades of gray. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Now back to yakking about anime which actually keeps me sane.

I finally managed to catch up on all those episodes of “Naruto Shipuuden” I’ve missed. SPOILER ALERT. Naruto and the gang have recovered Gaara’s body. Chiyo-baba, the Sand Village elder, is thinking of reviving him using her life force. i-c3d0ffc4d731a586f638472bb8ec87aa-naruto.jpg

Yep, it took a long time for her and Sakura to get rid of her evil grandson, Sassori, who was a member of Akatsuki and a former partner of Orochimaru. And did we really need those clone fights with Gai-sensei’s team? I like Neji a lot but their fights just dragged on too long.

Next episode is the manga chapter where Chiyo-baba uses Naruto’s seemingly endless supply of chakra to revive the dead Gaara.

“Kekkaishi” or “Barrier Master” has grown on me. It went from a ho-hum monster of the week show to a more interesting show with sibling rivalry, angsty half monsters and an evil organization doing everything to take over Karasumori which is that patch of powerful land Yoshimori and Tokine protect as the current kekkaishi of their families.

The evil organization has launched an all-out assault against our heroes to wrest Karasumori away from them. Their leader, a fox spirit called Princess, isn’t going to last much longer and their headquarters will fall once she’s gone. Or so that’s what one of her minions said.

Why Yoshimori’s grandpa, who is way more powerful than him, is just sleeping at home is beyond me. At least his cunning and powerful older brother, Masamori, has an excuse. The evil spy in his group has seen fit to dispatch Masamori and his team away from the fray about to break out over Karasumori.

In “D.Gray-man”, the Millennium Earl is peeved that another exorcist has come into being when her crystal ball turned out to be actually Innocence. It is a substance the Earl’s foes, the Black Order, uses to fight against him.

In addition to the storyline, I also like this show’s character designs. Fans were out in force at the last Anime Expo looking really spiffy in their exorcist uniforms which were probably bought from some store. They didn’t look handmade.

Anyway, there’s only four more episodes left of the first season. There’s going to be a second season of “D.Gray-man.” Ditto with “Kekkaishi.” I can’t wait.

I saw this cover of a PS2 “Naruto Shippuuden” game. I haven’t played it so I have no idea if it’s good. I was just looking for images of an older Naruto to use.

Ja ne.

A look at a soul in despair – not

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“Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei” which translates to “Farewell Despair Teacher” or “Farewell Mr. Despair” is a comedy definitely not meant for the kids or anyone pure. We are dealing with gallows humor here folks. The main character, Nozomu Itoshiki, is a pessimist of the first order who thinks nothing of hanging himself whenever life gets him down. In this case, pretty much every day.

The first episode begins with a high school girl waxing rhapsodic about spring. She is surrounded by cherry trees in full bloom and soon spies a young man intent on hanging himself. She somehow “saves” him and her too cheerful outlook on life makes him leery of her. She pooh poohs his suicide attempt, declaring that he was just trying to make himself taller. She tells him her father tried to make himself taller when he got laid off, when the company closed and when the debt collectors came calling at the family home. She even calls a trash can “a treasure chest for the homeless.”

The gal is called Kafuka Fura although that is not her real name. The moniker comes from Frank Kafka. We find out that she is one of Itoshiki’s students.

Yep ya got that right. The man who is a walking black hole of despair is currently a homeroom teacher to high school students who definitely deserve someone more cheerful. i-a902a70877683070429b1d0bca87d2c0-sayonara.jpg

Since this is also a harem anime (gasp, did I just admit to liking another harem anime?) Nozomu becomes the object of affection for several of his female students which include the stalker Matoi Tsunetsuki. According to the Wikipedia entry on the show, her name is a pun on the phrase “always following about.”

Matoi needs to know what her current love is doing every minute of the day so she bugs his room and stalks him. When she switches her affection to Nozomu, she dresses in a kimono and follows him everywhere even to the men’s restroom. Kafuka thinks stalking is just “deep love.”

“Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei” had me laughing out loud and I’ve only seen seven episodes. The show, which has 12 episodes, also pokes fun at other shows be it American or Japanese. While it’s not essential, a bit of anime know how helps too. It would explain why the blonde-haired student often ends up in situations where one can see her panties. She’s the character destined to appease the fan boys.

I repeat, this is NOT for the under 16 crowd or for anyone who doesn’t get sarcasm. You have been warned.

The show just finished airing in Japan and isn’t licensed yet for distribution in America. I’ve only seen fansubs so far.

Of fighting teens and would-be rulers of Heaven

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The conventions of shonen or boy’s anime require that the hero improve his skills as the show goes on. This entails beating up challengers who later become pals or rivals. The conversation in these shows usually features such gems as, “I’ll never forgive you!” and “I’ll avenge my master.” Expect simple or even crude-looking character designs and a color palette straight out of primary school.

Since this is not shoujo drama, you won’t see teary-eyed girls sobbing out, “Why?” to the hero. If there is a love interest, she would either be too shy to confess her love to the lead character or be too bossy and tough that she routinely smacks him upside the head. Aaah young love.

“Law of Ueki” is a show that never strays from these conventions. The current ruler of the Heavens or Celestial World has decided that his successor is whoever wins a certain competition. But here’s the catch. The candidates for ruler won’t be duking it out. That honor falls to their representatives, junior high school students they selected and given one power or talent.

The candidates cannot interfere in the fights between their representatives or they will be disqualified from the running and sent to hell.

Our unlikely hero is a green-haired 13-year-old named Kosuke Ueki who acts simple but has a good heart. His teacher, Kobayashi, is actually one of the ruler candidates. He picks Ueki as his rep and gives the boy the power to turn trash into trees. As with most shonen shows, this master and pupil relationship is an important one for the hero.

The trick to enjoying “Law of Ueki” is not to think too much about the plot or take it seriously. Just keep in mind the rules of the contest. Reps who get knocked out lose their power and are gone from the competition. Winners earn a skill after each successful bout. In Ueki’s case, it’s usually some useless skill. Any rep who goes after someone without power loses a talent or skill. In our teen’s case, he lost his ability to run fast and his math skills since he meted out justice to scummy people who abused those weaker than them. Cue the heroic music.

Ueki is not really human but the offspring of a Celestial Being who wanted a leg up on the competition. But this being’s plan backfired since he wasn’t picked to be a candidate for ruler of the Celestial World. Ueki gets adopted by a human family and raised to be a good kid. This background means Ueki can actually power up and have certain weapons only accessible to Celestial Beings. As he progresses in skills, he learns to wield these weapons. Obviously, a level two Celestial doesn’t have the arsenal of a level eight Celestial. There are 10 levels.

Along the way, Ueki befriends other reps and ruler candidates as well as learns more rules. But since this is an action show, there’s lots of fighting going on.

What gets old fast is the characters announcing their power every time they use it. For instance, one girl has the ability to turn beads into bombs so when she tosses the beads at her opponents, she has to yell out, “The power to turn beads into bombs!” Why do we have to know each and every time she does this? Last time I checked, I don’t suffer from short term memory loss.

And whoever drew the characters must have dropped out of art class. With few exceptions, they all looked like they got beaten with the ugly stick as babies.

A sudden bout of insanity

I’m usually a cheap person who blanches when my friends spend oodles of money on bags, clothes, shoes or jewelry. The most I ever spent on shoes was $48.95 and I nearly broke out in a fever when I forked over the money. But when it comes to my hobbies, I lose my head and start blowing money on items even if they only have a remote connection to my current obsession.
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This long preamble is my pathetic excuse to explain away my latest purchase. While waiting for the tax guy to do my taxes this weekend, I wandered into a store specializing in cartoons. The store had a replica of Edward Elric’s pocket watch issued by the military to all state alchemists.

To you non-anime folks, Edward is one of the heroes in “Full Metal Alchemist” which I consider one of the great anime shows created recently. And here I was just looking for some keychains featuring a comic relief character from “Bleach.”

The sales gal said it was $50. I wavered for a bit (maybe five minutes) before I caved in and bought the watch. Sure, the watch runs a minute late than my wristwatch and could use some polishing but it’s perfect. Comes with two chains. I attached it to my black leather trenchcoat because my skirts don’t have pockets. I LOVE IT!

I asked a co-worker, Watchara, to take pictures since the ones I took turned out terrible. Another friend asked me if I was going to the anime convention in Long Beach this July. I’m not sure since I attended my first convention last year in Anaheim and got weirded out by the hordes of fans who came dressed as their favorite characters. That’s too much for me. Plus I also found no bargains among the anime DVDs and mangas for sale which disappointed me. If I do attend, the watch will come with me.

And that is how I waste my money. I’m such a sucker for anime merchandise. Now if I can just find that bag that has, “Anime. Crack is cheaper” on the front and my day will be complete.

Playing catch up

Spent most of the weekend catching up on “Bleach” shows I missed. I’ve seen up to episode 112 and still have aways to go. Yeah I saw the last three episodes related to the “Bounto” arc. Hate that storyline. Thank heavens the show is now back on track with the Arrancar/Vaizard storyline.
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Also saw episodes 4 and 5 of “Naruto Shippuuden” which shows an older Naruto and Sakura besting their sensei Kakashi. But the main action is happening at the Hidden Village of Sand where two members of Akatsuki are trying to snatch Gaara who is now the head of the village or Kazekage. Gaara is currently fighting an Akatsuki member who uses clay to make animal figures that move and explode. The fiend in question has hands with mouths. The hands chew the clay and spit out these figurines. Creepy.

There’s a flashback that show Gaara has turned his thinking around thanks to Naruto. He cares about others now instead of just fighting for himself and killing people. I know what happens to him on this story arc but I won’t spoil it for the rest of you. Suffice it to say it’s a tearjerker. Can’t wait for that episode.

Photo I used features characters from “Naruto Shippuuden”. The dude in white with spiky hair is how Sasuke looks now. The blond guy with a lock of hair covering one eye is the Akatsuki creep with the weird hands.