Thursday, December 10, 2015

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans 5-7

EPISODE 5: Beyond the Red Sky

At Todo's suggestion, Tekkadan enters into an agreement with Orcus Company to guide them en route to Earth. However, Orcus double-crosses Tekkadan and leaks the route to Coral, who then sends Gjallarhorn Grazes to ambush the group. The ambush informs Tekkadan about Todo's betrayal although Todo protests that a Gjallarhorn ambush was not part of the deal. In response to the threat, Orga puts in place his contingency plan, revealing that Mikazuki with his Gundam is on board. While Mikazuki engages the Gjallarhorn, killing Coral in the skirmish, Orcus tries to sink Tekkadan's shuttle. Akihiro arrives just then to lend fire power. Meanwhile, Gjallarhorn Specialist Majors Fareed and Bauduin are tipped off that Kudelia is aboard the Tekkadan ship. As they try to intercept it, their attention is drawn to Mikazuki's gundam. Fareed correctly identifies the unit as Barbatos and tries to attack its weak points. But Mikazuki notices and escapes through the Tekkadan ship before major damage is dealt. In the aftermath, Tekkadan celebrates their victory as they continue on their journey to earth while Gjallarhorn finds itself the recipient of a bound-up Todo on a shuttle.

EPISODE 6: As For Them

After their skirmish with Gjallarhorn, the Tekkadan crew occupy themselves during the downtime with repairs and other maintenance task. Kudelia explains her mission to Mikazuki and Atra while distributing lunches. In the course of their talk, Kudelia finds out that Mikazuki can't read or write so she volunteers to teach him. When other crew members hear her, they also volunteer to join her class. Meanwhile, with Orcus out of the picture, Orga and his group contemplate reaching out to Teiwaz, a conglomerate based in Jupiter sphere, to serve as their new guide to Earth. The task proves to be difficult when they realize that they need a middleman to negotiate the deal for them. Just then, Tekkadan receives a transmission from an angry Maruba Arkay, the president of CGS. On Fareed's ship, Ein asks Fareed to let him join the pursuit force.

EPISODE 7: Whaling

President of the now-defunct CGS Maruba demands the return of his ship, the Will-O-the-Wisp, accusing Orca and his crew of theft. Maruba's ranting is interrupted by Naze Turbine of the Turbine group under Teiwaz, who reveals that his business relationship with Maruba and that he is there to collect CGS property. Biscuit tries to get Naze to support their bid for Teiwaz to guide them to Earth but Naze refuses and Orga draws a hard line with the "return" of property. The disagreement spurs both groups to prepare for battle. Mikazuki and Akihiro are deployed to handle the enemy mobile suits. Eugene pilots the Will-O-the-Wisp while Orga works out a plan to board the enemy ship in a daring maneuver. In the heat of battle, Maruba accidentally spills that Tekkadan's crew have Alaya-Vijnana System, causing Naze to put a halt to the battle and resume talks.

It's now seven episodes and the characters still aren't shaping too well. Kudelia is still irrelevant and the other Tekkadan crew are still interchangeable. But the one thing that's changed for me is understanding the relationship between Orga and Mikazuki better. I always found the uneven dynamic between the two rather unsettling ever since that episode where Mikazuki killed a CGS crew member for Orga. I did not like the idea of Mikazuki being used by Orga, an obviously older kid, as a weapon to do all his dirty work: fight battles for him, kill for him. It sends out the wrong message. But Episode 6 explains it a little for me and I'm satisfied for now.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Kagewani 7-8: Tremors

EPISODE 7: Slashing Strike

A teacher stays late in school to clean up when she notices two kids playing with the chickens. After she scolds them and tells them to go home, one of the kids draw something on the ground. Suddenly, the earth moves and the teacher tells them to stay down because it was an earthquake. A few minutes later, the earth moves again in an aftershock. Just then, a large claw bursts out from underneath the ground, separating the two kids. As the other kid runs towards his friend, the teacher quickly tackles him, barely avoiding the claw to catch them. Sensing a threat, the chickens began to make a ruckus, attracting the creature towards the coop and prompting it to attack them. While the creature is distracted, the teacher and one of the kids find a higher surface to stand on. The teacher concludes that the creature is attracted by vibrations on soil. She tells the other kid not to move and asks the other to distract the creature by throwing rocks while she attempts to rescue the former. Her plan backfires but just before the creature could get her, the kid throws a piece of rock at a nearby trolley, causing the balls they contain to bounce on the ground.

EPISODE 8: Camouflage

Banba drives his geologist ex-girlfriend to the school where the creature from the previous episode was found. On their way there, they go through a tunnel, which suddenly collapses on them. When an injured Banba comes to, he can't find his ex anymore but he sees other motorists trapped inside the tunnel with him. He notices a woman inside her car and while he tries to get her attention, the woman is suddenly attacked by a gigantic tick that sucks out all her blood right in front of a horrified Banba. As the tick leaps away, Banba then notices other motorists dead on the ground with their blood sucked out. Banba searches through the wreckage for his ex-girlfriend and finally finds her sitting on the ground, conscious but unresponsive. He takes her hand and drags her out of the tunnel just as a jet bombs the place. The tunnel collapses in on what looks like Banba's ex. But when his vision clears, he sees that what he thought was his ex was actually the tongue of a huge creature and that part of the tunnel was the inside of this creature. Suddenly in the sky Banba sees a claw and he realizes that this creature is the same one that caused the earthquake.

Tremors did a way better job. I loved that movie.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Subete Ga F Ni Naru 4: Clues, clues

CHAPTER 4: The Rainbow-Colored Past

The group makes a cursory examination of the director's corpse and Nishinosono makes the following observations: (1) his body is still warm, which means he hasn't been dead for long; (2) he is stabbed with a knife on the back of his neck, which means he didn't do it himself and that his killer is someone he knew; (3) the helicopter radio is destroyed, which means the police have not yet been contacted; (4) since there are only ways to get to the rooftop and they didn't meet anyone at the elevator, the killer must have used the other door and he must still be in the lab.

The group goes back to the main room where they check the security logs on the two doors leading to the rooftop. The logs reveal that only Yamane has used the elevator to the rooftop but the time does not match the timeline of the murder. The other door has not been accessed since yesterday. This leads them to conclude that the Deborah program is not entirely perfect. Next they examine Magata's room through Yamane's voice and palm biometric data. It is established that the door can be opened from the inside the same way using Magata's voice and palm biometric data. Once inside the room, they observe that Magata has a receiving room although she never sees anyone, her library does not contain a single work of hers and that she appears to have been working on metal.

As they explore the room further for more clues, they come upon a closed door that is locked from inside and someone with Magata's voice asks them who they are. Yamane immediately identifies himself and asks for the door to open. However, it revealed that the voice belongs to a robot that Magata made and named Michiru. The room also hides a large lego British guard, a box of legos, a teddy bear and three pieces of party balloons. Magata's bedroom appears neat as though nothing horrible happened in it. They find nothing there, not even Magata's limbs, which makes Saikawa wonder about a trash chute in the room. However, the chute turns out to be too small.

Next, they check Magata's desktop computer and they find out that Magata has designed a new platform, Red Magic ver. 6 when the lab is still using ver. 4. An entry on her calendar from the day before contains the mysterious phrase: "Everything becomes F." They also find a text file that contains what apparently are the last words of Magata and her other personalities.

Later, Nishinosono and Saikawa check out a room in Magata's apartment that contains the single window. Saikawa mulls over the meaning of "Everything becomes F" while Nishinosono wonders about the wedding dress that Magata's corpse is wearing. Although they find a sewing machine in Magata's room, the wedding dress was bought three years ago. The wedding dress leads to a talk about dolls, which reminds Nishinosono about Magata's saying that a doll murdered her parents. However, doll seems to represent Magata's personalities, Magata also revealed in her conversation with Nishinosono that Magata is the only one who knows about her parents, making her the only suspect in her parents' murder.

In a flashback, the director is revealed sitting in a hotel room with a drink in hand. He talks about hearing Magata alone in the bathroom, talking to one of her personalities. The persona appears to have already slept with the director and Magata is asking her advice on what she's going to do, which is to sleep with the director, too. When Magata finally steps out of the shower, the director tries to tell her to stop but Magata throws herself on him.

Alright so now we have two bodies and we're all assuming that the killer is one of these characters inside the lab. So far the characters that have been fleshed out are Yamane and the director's wife. 
Yamane is implicated because, being the vice director, he is the one guy, save the director himself who is already dead, with the highest level of access in the lab. He is also the only person who used the door leading to the rooftop. As for motive, his being vice-director to a dead director is plenty of motive. Yet, our intrepid investigators do not seem to consider him a suspect. Perhaps, because Yamane has been with them from the moment they arrived at the lab and so on. He hasn't really left our investigor's side, which diverts suspicion from him.
Our next suspect is the director's wife. We don't know much about her except that she seems to be taking her husband's gruesome murder very well. She's baking cookies and exchanging gossip about Magata's multiple personality disorder. Her motive is of course that of an avenging wife who finds out that her husband has been cheating on her with a kid genius. But there seems to be no indication whatsoever that she knows about Magata's affair with the director. Besides she doesn't appear to be smart enough to be able to pull off such a murder.
As a subplot, we are also trying to solve the murder of Magata's parents fifteen years ago. Magata is the prime suspect but she cryptically told Nishinosono that a doll did it. Incidentally, the latest murders may also involve a doll, Michiru, who is one of Magata's personalities.
Some nitpicking about the show: it is a leap for Nishinosono to assume that the police were never contacted just because the radio is destroyed. There's no showing that the director didn't already make the call and then got murdered. Likewise, I don't remember how they end up concluding that Magata was murdered only a few minutes before the director's murder. Sure, it narrows down the timeline and is a plot device to ensure that the killer remains in the building. But if Magata has only been dead a few minutes or hours, why is Nishinosono covering her nose when she checks the corpse?
It appears that Magata is the person who designed Red Magic, the program that controls Deborah security system, and that she is able to freely move about the lab. Yet, somehow I had the impression that Magata is supposed to be a prisoner? What kind of prisoner has freedom to get in and out with her prison and tinker with prison's security? 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Kagewani 4-6

EPISODE 4: Double Bow

A couple of kids are playing with a drone by the riverbank when their drone crashes into the water. The current carries it into a sewer which the two reluctantly enter. As they go deeper, they finally find their drone but it's resting on the back of a giant turtle-like creature. The creature chases them and they escape through a tiny passageway leading to the surface. The passageway, however, is blocked by a corpse. Trapped, the kids wait out the creature which passes right below them. One of the boys goes down to investigate only to be grabbed by something or someone -- Banba! He tells the boys to run away as the creature returns to attack them. Just when the creature almost gets them, someone shouts for them to jump into the water. Without thinking, Banba grabs the boys and they jump into the water. Men in white suits, black gloves and gas masks soon appear and incinerate the creature. When Banba and the boys surface, a man in a dapper suit holds out his hand to Banba. It turns out that the man works for a pharmaceutical company that is using these creatures for research. He wants to enlist Banba's help but Banba refuses to do so. Even though the creature died from the fire, the man is able to collect an egg from it.

EPISODE 5: Strange Color

In a small convenience store, a guy clocks off early to go on a date, leaving his co-worker behind to close up. While the co-worker who is left behind goes inside the office, a girl comes in and shoplifts. On her way out, the guy who left early comes back running as though he is being chased by a ghost. The "ghost" attacks him and as he flails around, the "ghost" finally appears. The creature, which looks like a chameleon and can blend into its environment, eats the guy, much to the horror of the girl and his co-worker. With the guy dead, the girl fears she's next. The co-worker signals her from the office but as she crawls toward him, the item she stole fell, drawing the creature to the noise. Before the creature could attack her, however, the co-worker throws something at the creature, distracting it. While the creature is distracted, they both run inside the office and lock the door. But the creature comes after them, breaking the door and forcing them to flee through the vent. Before the creature could get to them, the men in white suits, gas masks and black gloves rescue them and kills the creature.

EPISODE 6: Deep Abyss

While in a cruise through the South Pole, Banba recalls his meeting with the guy from the pharmaceutical company. The guy again tries to convince him to work for them but Banba says that he is not studying the creatures for money. Meanwhile, a submarine where a young couple just got engaged is attacked by an unknown creature from the depths of the ocean. A closer look reveals that it is a gigantic humanoid creature with fish-like features. It attacks the submarine as it tries to surface, sending out a powerful sonar that causes ice bergs to sink. The force causes the submarine to lose power, rendering it vulnerable to an attack from the creature which is fast approaching. Banba advises the young man to use the sonar in order to fool the creature that the submarine is one of its own. It is a gamble since pressing the sonar would use up the rest of the submarine's power. Nevertheless, the young man uses the sonar and the signal causes the creature to stop and sink back into the abyss.

I'm probably the only person in the world who is blogging this anime. LOL It's so bad, honestly. I don't even know why anymore, except that it's easy to watch and even easier to recap. Anyway, at least, in these last episodes, we get a semblance of a plot. The pharmaceutical company is obviously up to no good. Naturally, they want Banba to work for them and naturally Banba refuses. I can't say I'm looking forward to what comes next. I do like the design of the abyss creature. Its face reminds me of a blob fish.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans 2-4

EPISODE 2: Barbatos

Under Orga's orders with help from Old Man and Yamagi, Mikazuki pilots the Barbatos, the ancient gundam used during the Calamity War, and defends against the attacking Gjallarhorn Graze company. After one of their numbers is injured, the Gjallarhorn's commander, Crank, issues a retreat just in time for Barbatos to run out of thruster fuel and Mikazuki to lose consciousness from the shock to his nervous system. Although CGS successfully repels the attackers, they nevertheless suffer heavy casualties, especially among the Third Corps rank. However, when the First Corps return, their leader beats Orga for diverting Gjallarhorn forces on them. Orga takes the beating but plots with his comrades to overthrow the First Corps and take control of CGS for themselves. Meanwhile, Coral orders Crank to eliminate all traces of the attack and to seize Kudelia from CGS. Crank hesitates at first upon learning that he is fighting against child soldiers but reluctantly complies. Back on Mars, a girl named Atra, accompanied by two other girls Cookie and Cracker, from Sakura-chan's farm, arrive at the base with supplies. Kudelia helps them as they prepare dinner for the boys. Atra attempts to give a bracelet that matches her own to Mikazuki but the latter is too distracted with plans of mutiny by the Third Corps.

EPISODE 3: Glorious Demise

That evening, while the boys have their dinner, Biscuit and other Third Corps members serve food laced with sedatives to the First Corps. This allows Orga and his comrades to seize control without shedding more blood than necessary. However, Mikazuki does shoot the First Corps leader point-blank and another protesting First Corps member in payment for their desertion of the Third Corps. This scares the other First Corps members into submission. With CGS firmly under their control, Orga's next challenge is how to financially support themselves. They are informed that most of the company's savings are gone and they only have enough to support themselves for three months, which means they have to find work soon. Todo, an adult former member of CGS, suggests ransoming Kudelia to the Gjallarhorn and pinning it all on the CGS leader. While Orga appears to contemplate this plan, they are interrupted by the arrival of Crank. The latter issues a challenge to a duel with Mikazuki's Barbatos. Mikazuki accepts the challenge and, after an intense fight, disables Crank's Graze. Mikazuki then steps out of his gundam to speak with Crank, who asks to die. Without hesitation, Mikazuki draws out his gun and shoots Crank. After witnessing all that happened and knowing the financial status of the newly-named Tekkadan, Kudelia decides to continue with her mission to Earth and hires Tekkadan as her escort, thus, solving Orga's financial woes for the moment.

EPISODE 4: The Price of Life

Tekkadan plots a course to earth, avoiding Gjallarhorn routes. In order to accomplish this, they need a guide. The course would take them through an area of space used mainly by civilian companies. Todo volunteers to contact the civilian company, Orcus, claiming that he is good friends with the CEO. Meanwhile, Specialist Majors Fareed and Bauduin from the Gjallarhorn base on Earth, conduct their inspection of Coral's base. They discover that a company of Gjallarhorn forces (Crank's company) have been dispatched to Mars and has not returned. Coral excuses unconvincingly that the move was to suppress a riot. Meanwhile, Orga sends Dexter and former human debris (slave) Akihiro to formalize the name of the company from CGS to Tekkadan. While Tekkadan is busy arranging Kudelia's transport, the latter speaks with her sponsor who wires her the money for the mission. Mikazuki later invites her to Sakura-chan's farm where they have a little light fun helping Sakura-chan, Atra and the kids harvest corn. Not too far away, Fareed and Bauduin investigate the site of the recent battle. Fareed deduces that Coral had attempted to kill Kudelia in order to remain in good graces with Earth and, thus, not have to worry about Fareed and Bauduin's inspection report. Later, they run into Mikazuki's group at Sakura-chan's farm. Mikazuki attempts to strangle Bauduin for apparently running over Cookie and Cracker. But Sakura-chan stops him and Fareed makes peace with the girls by giving them candy. As Kudelia is about to join them, her secretary, Fumitan, leads her away to hide from Fareed and Bauduin. Back at the base, Orga shows to everyone Tekkadan's new logo: an iron flower.

Okay, I think I'm dropping this show. I don't like the art and the character designs. I don't like the characters. I don't like the implication that Orga is using Mikazuki as some sort of personal gunman, who kills and fights for him. Especially since I don't get why Mikazuki is so enamored with the dude. Also, if it was this easy to overthrow the adults, why didn't Orga never try this before? 
Kudelia is annoying. None of the characters are likeable.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

First Impressions: One Punch Man 1-3

I was mildly interested in this when I learned that it was animated by Madhouse. However, I was not attracted by its premise and thought other series were a better option. Fast forward to now, the series is well into its 6th episode and I keep hearing rave reviews about it. The other shows on my watchlist aren't panning out well. I already dropped Young Black Jack from the roster and I'm barely hanging on to Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. I need a show with a good hook and found that One Punch Man has got it in spades.

I'm sure everybody is already familiar with the premise. This is about a guy, Saitama, who is very strong but claims to be a hero only for fun. He lives in a city that appears to be constantly attacked by strange monsters, which Saitama quickly dispatches quickly -- with just a single punch! However, precisely because he's so strong that Saitama is bored. He's looking for a challenge. He finds an unlikely disciple in a hot-headed 19-year old cyborg instead.


I love Saitama. I've never liked a single main character in a show, but Saitama is so average, he could be a background character. And that's the entire point of his character. Average guy living an average life in an average apartment, doing average things, except for one teeny, tiny detail: this guy happens to be a superhero. I can almost hear Miranda Priestly sardonically saying, "Flowers for spring? Groundbreaking."

But baby, believe me when I say this anime turns all the superhero tropes on its head. First of all, Saitama does not look at all heroic or cool. He's bald and, when he's not serious, he can look pretty spacey. This non-heroic look he has can't be any more clear when he stands next to the stereotypical cool anime guy, Genos, a cyborg that can shoot fire out of his hands. Very cool.

Second, although this is a shounen anime, unlike most shounen main characters, Saitama does not spend most of the series trying to become strong. Saitama, in fact, spends each episode looking for enemies strong enough to defeat him. This part reminds me of a wuxia character called Dugu-Seeking-A-Loss. Dugu, like Saitama, is so strong he spends his days looking for an opponent that can defeat him. Hence, his name. But where Dugu is a serious heroic type, Saitama couldn't care less about being a hero. As a matter of fact, he claims to be a hero only for fun and that it's a hobby.

The humor in the series is shown in the character designs of its characters. From Saitama's shiny bald head to villains dressed in ridiculous outfits. The way Saitama dispatches his opponents can be quite brutal and graphic but they are also riddled with comedy, you barely notice.

All in all, I like this show. I'm gonna blog about it. The fact that this is based on a webcomic also interests me as I am dabbling in a webcomic series myself.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Kagewani 03: Underwater Horror

EPISODE 3: Return

A young couple goes snorkeling in the sea. While underwater, they spot a fissure on the seabed. The girl signals to the guy to explore it but the guy wants to go back up. While the two are distracted, something grabs the girl from inside the fissure and takes her. News of the missing girl spreads just as a typhoon is poised to hit the island community. Banba-sensei is called to the place by a colleague who shows him a picture of a dead tentacled sea monster. Meanwhile, another tentacled sea monster shows up on the beach, leading the young man to go after it with a trident. He "kills" the creature and later sets it on fire. Banba-sensei goes to talk to him, telling him that the creature he just killed could be the very girl he was looking for. He then shows the young man an x-ray of the sea creature, where it is revealed that the creature has fused itself with a human body. The young man refuses to believe him. That night, the authorities impose a curfew to prepare for the incoming typhoon. A man notices that the burned corpse of the sea creature had disappeared. In the house of the young man, he hears a strange noise coming from outside. But when he opens the door to investigate, he finds it is only one of his friends. The girl tries to sympathize with him but while they talk, the young man notices the sea creature appear behind her. He leaps towards it with a knife and stabs at it, all the while denying that the sea creature could be his missing girlfriend. He is taken aback when he sees a vision of his girlfriend inside the sea creature. While he is distracted, the sea creature takes him and together the two of them fall into the sea. The next day, two dead sea creatures are washed ashore.

I've long stopped trying to figure out the overarching plot of this show. Maybe there is no plot and it's just one monster story week after week. I'm not complaining though. Each episode is too short to merit nit-picking. The episode entertains enough as it unfolds. While I am not wowed by the story each week, I am nevertheless fine with watching and blogging about it. Anyway, it's just seven minutes.
This week, they've chosen to entertain us with a tentacle monster. But instead of giving us the titillating story of the fisherman's wife, they decided to make a straightforward horror story of a girl inside a monster. We're supposed to feel for the young man, who has to find out the hard way that the monster he hates so much is the very same girl that meant the world to him. And the way the story ended lends it a sort of poetic justice. But it's all ham-fisted and shallow and I felt that the story could be told better.